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Entries in Cookies (163)

Tuesday
Nov092010

Table Fare: Salt-N-Pepper Sandwich Cookies Recipe from Baked Explorations

I'm here today to tell you that you really, really, really need to buy Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, the new book by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

Of course, to offer full disclosure, I should probably tell you first that I am hopelessly and madly in love with these two adorable NYC-based bakers.

There are a few reasons why:

1. Their two bakeries, Baked, in Brooklyn and South Carolina, respectively, are to die for.

2. Their first book, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking is not only an essential baking tool full of some of the best recipes I've ever tried, but it's beautiful and fun to look at too.

3. They're both adorable, talented, and have a great sense of humor--and can wax philosophical about the joys of crumb cake and peanut butter-chocolate combos like nobody I've ever met.

4. Oh, and Porkchop approves:

Now, if you're not already halfway in love with them already, buy the new book and you will be. It's the perfect follow-up to their bestselling first book, this time featuring classics from all around America. Featuring gorgeous pictures and plenty of baked good lore, this one is full of treasures that you'll be delighted to discover.

Here's my first discovery from the book, the cover recipe for Salt-N-Pepper Sandwich cookies. I first heard about these babies on Good Food, and have been intrigued ever since. Happily, they were worth the wait: though mine were more free-form in terms of the final look, I made mine with fancy Cherry Almond Pistachio sea salt and brought them to the Jill Labieniec artist reception at my store, and they disappeared in record time.

Salt-N-Pepper Sandwich Cookies

Adapted from Baked Explorations

Ingredients for the cookies

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or fancy sea salt (I used Secret Stash Sea Salt)
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 1/4 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, cool but not cold
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces good quality dark chocolate, melted

Ingredients for filling

  • 5 ounces vegetable shortening, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks, at room temperature
  • 3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon light rum (I didn't use this and it came out fine)

Procedure

  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, fleur de sel, pepper, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, and add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate and beat until uniform in color. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat again shortly, until incorporated.
  3. Add half of the dry ingredients and beat for 15 seconds. Again, scrape down the bowl and give it a quick second mix to incorporated.
  4. Loosely shape the dough into two balls, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (note: I did make some right away, and while the texture wasn't as good they tasted fine).
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Unwrap one ball of dough and divide into two equal portions. Place the first portion on a lightly flour-dusted surface and return the other half to the fridge.
  7. Use your hands to knead the dough until pliable. The original recipe calls for rolling it into a disc (to use cookie cutters) but I actually rolled it into a log to slice and bake my cookies. If you want to do it their way, use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to create the tops and bottoms, and transfer to your waiting baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch of space around each cookie. If you want to go my route, roll the dough into a log and slice 1/2 inch thick slices, using your hands to make them pleasingly round if the dough gets too soft, and place on the baking sheet.
  8. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little extra fancy salt, and then bake them for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time. The tops of the cookies will look dry and may have small cracks on top--don't worry, it's ok. Place the baking sheets on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes, and then use a spatula to transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely.
  9. While they cool, make up your filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening and butter until lump-free and smooth. Add the sugar in three parts, mixing each part until just combined. Add the salt, vanilla, and rum and beat again for 10 seconds. The filling should be thick, but spreadable (like Oreo filling). If it is too thick, add a drop or two of water as needed. If the mixture is too thin, add a little extra confectioners' sugar.
  10. Assemble the cookies. Use a pastry bag or small spoon (I used a small knife) to spread a dab of filling onto the flat (bottom) side of a cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Let them sit for about 15 minutes before serving. Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to three days.
Tuesday
Oct262010

Trick or Sweet: Peanut Butter Cookies on a Stick for Peanut Butter and Co.

CakeSpy Note: You knew I did recipes for Peanut Butter & Co., right? Here's my latest one.

There are probably foods out there that aren’t improved by being served on a stick, but none come to mind at the moment.

But which one is the most fun to serve around Halloween? My vote goes to these peanut butter cookies on a stick. They’re part trick, decorated to look like pumpkins–but they’re even more treat, with a rich, cakey texture and rich, peanut buttery flavor that is far more delicious than any fun-size candy bar could ever hope to be.

For the full entry, visit Peanut Butter & Co.!

Monday
Oct042010

Trick or Sweet: Candy Corn Kaleidoscope Cookies for Serious Eats

It's October, and you know what that means: it's officially candy corn season.

But if you appreciate the iconic look more than the mellowcreme taste of the stuff, here's a solution: a reconfiguration of the Kaleidoscope Cooky (yes, cooky) from the Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, made to resemble the tricolor confection. Lightly crumbly, very buttery, and extremely crowd-pleasing, these cookies are a totally sweet tricked-out treat.

Note: This recipe is designed to feed a crowd; I have in the past halved it with fine results. Also, if shaping the dough into the candy corn shape seems too fussy, they're just as festive as Halloween-hued rounds.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Wednesday
Sep082010

Curiosity Killed the Cookie: Another Experiment in How Not To Make Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not sure about whether or not curiosity killed the cat, but it sure did compromise these cookies. 

That's right: I've been messing with chocolate chip cookies again. It all started about a week ago, after a lifetime of conscientiously creaming the butter and sugar at the beginning of making chocolate chip cookies. I had received a big ol' parcel of freebies from Nestle Toll House (giveaway coming in a few days!) and had cookies on the mind.

A question occurred: "what would happen if I swapped the order in which the flour and sugar are added?".

Well, needless to say I was gonna find out.

And so, instead of creaming the butter and sugar, I "creamed" the butter and flour, and then added the sugar in, bit by bit, later on in the recipe, at the time when I would normally be adding the flour. I didn't mess with the actual measurements of the ingredients, though.

So what happened?

Well, the fact that these were going to come together differently was evident right away. The flour clumped up with the butter like...well, pie crust. (this makes sense, right?)

And then, adding in the eggs and other ingredients, things seemed to start looking like normal cookie batter.

Adding in the sugar, bit by bit, the dough looked, smelled, and felt pretty normal. I added in the vanilla and chocolate chips.

I let it chill for a while. Normal-looking. I spooned it on to the baking sheet, finishing off some of the cookies with these cute Nestle chocolate and white chocolate chip mini morsel toppers.

When the cookies came out of the oven, they looked completely perfect: lightly browned on the edges and bottom, soft in the middle.

But then something strange happened. As the cookies cooled...they turned into cookie crackers!

They looked right. They smelled right. They even tasted pretty right. But the texture was...well, disappointing. Crackery. Weird.

As I found out on Baking911.com, I had basically skipped an important step by making this switcheroo: "Creaming incorporates the maximum amount of air bubbles so a recipe will rise in the oven and be light in texture." So while I can't get technical about the chemistry of why this crackery texture was the result, I can say that while I was happy to have seen for myself what happens when you skip this step, I'm not likely to do it again.

Here's the recipe I used--feel free to try my experiment for yourself, or honor the good Mrs. Paul Franklin, Wife of Governor, from Phoenix, AZ, and follow the directions correctly (listed correctly below). By the way, this is the book the recipe is from--isn't the cover just too much?

Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Favorite recipes of America desserts Including Party Beverages, Vol 1  

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, sifted flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot water
  • 1 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate morsels or pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Procedure

Cream butter and sugars; add egg and beat well. Sift together dry ingredients (except for chocolate); add to creamed mixture. Add hot water; mix until well blended. Add chocolate pieces, nuts, and vanilla, and blend just until incorporated. Drop from teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Makes 3 1/2 dozen small cookies.

Friday
Aug132010

Dough-Eyed: Cookies and Controversy from My Dough Girl in Salt Lake City, Utah

Which would you like first? The good news or the bad news?

The good news: My Dough Girl Cookies, a bakery in Salt Lake City, makes amazingly delicious cookies. I mean, like, really good. Fat, chewy, buttery, and flavorful morsels, sweetly packaged in the cutest retro sleeves. I recently had the good fortune to try several when SLC-based Cake Gumshoes Rob and Carol came to Seattle for a visit and brought me four specimens for me and Mr. Spy to sample.

We tried the "Lilly" (lemon sugar cookie with lemonheads and lemon glaze), which was bright and sunny and -- surprise, crunchy!--from the addition of sweet-sour lemonhead candies, the "Sandy" (the special flavor of the month, with macadamia nuts, zucchini, and milk chocolate), which was an unlikely, but oddly addictive combination--

--as well as a rich, filled chocolate cookie, and what I think may have been the "Betty" (oatmeal cookie with fruit bits), which was moist, buttery, and not at all as healthy-tasting as it may sound. In a good way.

The bad news: My Dough Girl Cookies won't exist for much longer. You see, one chubby little white guy doesn't like this Utah-based bakery's name very much at all--the Pillsbury Dough Boy. As it turns out, owner Tami Cromar recently received a cease and disist" order from General Mills, saying that she'd better change the name of her bakery.  According to The Salt Lake Tribune

The national company, which owns Pillsbury, said the name is too similar to its iconic Dough Boy character and represents trademark infringement. The letter also suggests that because My Dough Girl sells frozen take-and-bake cookie dough — just like Pillsbury —the Utah product could tarnish the company’s reputation.

Rather than fight, Cromar has decided to comply with the request, which includes a gag order that forbids her to talk to news media. She referred calls and text messages from The Salt Lake Tribune to her attorney, Catherine Lake. Calls to Lake’s office also weren’t returned.

But don't despair, because there's more good news: Although the name will change, the cookies will not. As the article goes on to say,

"I have to stick to baking so cookies can still be a part of all our futures,” Cromar wrote earlier this week. “ If the Dough Girl fights, there will be no cookies."

And that would be seriously bad news.

Whatever you want to call them, you can find 'em at 770 South 300 West, Salt Lake City, Utah; online here.

My Dough Girl on Urbanspoon

Thursday
Aug122010

Bar Hopping: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Topped Bar Cookies Recipe

If I were, on this very day, pressed to answer the question "what treat would you most enjoy eating until you descend into morbid obesity?" I would have a ready answer: Peanut butter and Chocolate Chip-Topped Bar Cookies.

It all happened recently while baking the "Dream Bars" from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book and realizing that--duh--I basically had none of the ingredients for the top layer, which was meant to be made up of an almond-coconut topping. So there I was, with a somewhat sad expanse of beige batter for a bar cookie base.

Turning to my pantry (OK, my cabinet), I found half a jar of old-fashioned chunky peanut butter and half a bag of milk chocolate chips. Yes! In the mix they both went, scattered irregularly on top of the batter.

The result? Something lovely and amazing. Moist blondie-esque cookie bars with pockets of gooey-crunchy peanut butter and smooth, delicious chocolate. Something you won't...be...able...to...stop...eating. And if you don't like them? No problem, I'll finish the tray for you.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip-Topped Bar Cookies

adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 jar (about a cup) peanut butter (I used chunky)
  • 1/2 bag (about a cup) milk chocolate chips

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Mix the butter and sugar thoroughly. Stir in flour. Press and flatten with hand to cover the bottom of a parchment-lined oblong pan, 13x9-ish. 
  3. Bake 10 minutes, then spread with the topping (irregularly spooned globs of peanut butter and a sprinkling of chocolate chips).
  4. Return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool slightly, then cut into bars. Makes about 20.
Wednesday
Aug042010

Sweet n Sour: Old Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies Recipe

There are many moments in life to enjoy over-the-top desserts (seriously--just read the responses in the "what would your last-meal dessert be?" giveaway).

But sometimes, you just need a good old-fashioned cookie. Or, as Betty Crocker of the 60's would say, a cooky.

After all, Betty Crocker's Cooky Book is where I found this understated gem of a recipe for Old Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies. It's listed in the "Heritage Cookies" section of the book, which is where you'll find, as I think of them, the frumpy forefathers of today's cookies. I don't mean this as an insult--I simply mean that while they're not the sexiest-looking cookies, they're substantial enough in flavor that it's no secret why these recipes have stuck around through the years.

This particular recipe yields a cookie that is lightly tangy, and yet somehow fluffy without being "light"--they have a compelling flavor which keeps bringing you back for more. And with a sprinkling of sugar on top, they have a satisfying crunch, too.

Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Procedure

  1. Heat oven to 425 F.
  2. Mix butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla thoroughly. 
  3. Sift the dry ingredients together; add to the sugar mixture alternately with the sour cream.
  4. The original recipe suggests rolling the dough out, but I simply pinched off pieces and rolled them into approximately 1 1/2-inch diameter balls and placed them on the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. 
  5. Place on a greased (or parchment-lined) baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar.
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned on the sides. Makes about 36-48 cookies.
Wednesday
Jul282010

Short and Sweet: Canestrelli Semolina Shortbread Recipe

In October, a big ol' brick of a book will be hitting the shelves in a bookstore near you: The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Classic Recipes for a New Century. It's an updated version of the classic Craig Claiborne-edited New York Times Cookbook , with plenty of classic recipes as well as a large variety of newer ones. 

Now, there are several reasons why you should be excited about this book: more than a thousand, in fact, which is how many recipes you'll find, culled from the venerable newspaper's archives, each of which has a witty and interesting intro by she's-kind-of-a-big-deal editor Amanda Hesser

But right now, we're just going to focus on one: the recipe for Canestrelli, a semolina shortbread featured in the book. Lightly nutty and gritty but plenty buttery, these cookies couldn't be simpler to make (I lightly adapted the recipe to make them as bars instead of cookies), and are a perfect light dessert, and made even more delectable with a sprinkling of fancy sea salt.

I served these at a picnic with buddies Tea and Megan, and they went over quite well!

Canestrelli

(Shortbread from Ovada, adapted from Rona Deme's ''Country Host Cookbook'', As seen in the NY Times Cookbook; originally from this article)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 1/2 pound lightly salted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour and semolina and set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, with the electric mixer on high speed, add the butter in small pieces, beating until it is uniformly softened.
  4. Add the sugar and continue beating until the two are creamed together.
  5. Lower the speed of the mixer and add the flour mixture a cup at a time, continually scraping down the walls of the mixer bowl, and working quickly until the ingredients are just blended. Be careful not to overmix, because the semolina, high in gluten, can toughen the canestrelli. The dough will be somewhat crumbly.
  6. Press the dough together into an 8x8 or 9x9-inch baking pan lined with parchment on the bottom.
  7. Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until they begin to blush with color.
  8. Let cool in the pan; when lightly cooled but still warm, score into strips of your desired size. Let cool completely and then remove from pan. They may be stored for two weeks in airtight tins.
Sunday
Jul182010

Sugar and Spice: Almond Cardamom Cookies from Traveler's, Seattle

Down the street from CakeSpy Shop in Seattle's Capitol Hill, there is a sort of hippie food, tea, supplement and gift shop called Travelers. They have a sort of cult following for their chai tea (not to be confused with tai chi, although many of their patrons do that, too).

Now, there's nothing wrong with their chai--nothing at all. But the reason I go there is for the cookies. In particular, the almond cardamom variety.

Chewy, rich, spicy, and lightly sweet, this is kind of like oatmeal cookie meets spice cookie, and both sides become more delicious as a result of their union.

It's the type of cookie that you could probably psych yourself into believing it's healthy, but really, it's not.

It's a simple cookie, but a very good one: and when paired with a spicy chai, it might just whisk you away to a faraway place, if just for a few moments.

Travelers, 501 E Pine Street, Seattle; online here.

Travelers on Urbanspoon

Sunday
Jul182010

Totally Sweet Guest Post: Decorated Party Cookies by Bird Crafts

CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Bird, who would like to introduce herself thusly: Hi everyone, I'm Bird from Bird Crafts and I love to blog, chat, craft and design printable party goodies (which you can get at my shop on Etsy). You can also find the full tutorial on her site.

Yep, these are my first decorated cookies. I don't say that to brag, but rather as a huuuuuge disclaimer and perhaps as an incentive for you to have a go too. 'Cause if a total cookie virgin can ("can" being a very loose term here...), then anyone can!

I got my cookie dough recipe and cookie cutters from a baking supplies on-line shop as they make tons of cookies for demonstration purposes, and so I figured their recipe would stand the test. And it did!

It held the intricate frog and butterfly shapes beautifully and tasted great! The only ingredient missing was 2 tea-spoons of bicarbonate of soda or some other raising ingredient, I think.

Anyhow, if you're using this recipe, be sure to persevere until you eventually get a smooth dough like the photo above and refrigerate the dough covered in cling film for at least 2 hours. It is a very short (crumbly) dough and it needs to be chilled before you attack it!

TIP: before rolling your dough, make sure to cover you working surface and rolling pin with flour. It does not say that on the recipe sheet, but I found it helped a lot.

Whilst you let your cookies cool down on the wire rack (Yep, I even attempted lollipop cookies, but that's another post..), prepare your icing.

Now, this was a total guess work but later I discovered the ratio of icing sugar to water is just so the mixture has a syrup consistency and covers the back of a spoon without being too thin (very scientific...NOT). But you'll be able to experiment and get the right consistency after a few attempts. 

TIP: If it's too sloppy, add more sugar. If it's too thick add more water (a few drops at a time).

Add a few drops of liquid food colouring and set aside covered with film so it does not get a crust. 

I must say that if it hadn't been for Wilton's Icing tubes, I would not be writing this post. 

TIP: If you're a novice to icing you should purchase these tubes to practice with, otherwise you may totally lose the will to live...

The tubes are sooo easy to handle even if you don't have very steady hands. Plus, you can simply screw the lid back on and store the rest for another occasion. Please note: Wilton are NOT paying me to say that!

Where were we...Now, draw a thin line all around you cookie. Doesn't have to be neat, you'll be able to re-do it later. You just need a line to act as a barrier holding the thinner icing inside. Fill the gap with the thinner icing you reserved. 

TIP: Don't be tempted to place too much on, otherwise it may run over the lines.

TIP: Use a tooth pick to help you "guide" the icing into the little corners and small spaces. 

TIP: Note that I am decorating the underside of the cookie? This is because the right side is slightly raised in the cooking process and you really need a flat surface to work with - So turn those babies upside down to decorate.

Let your cookies dry over night. I sat mine on a baking tray on my worktop.  

Next day, add the finishing touches to your design, like going over the edges of the cookie one more time with the Wilton's icing tube and adding detailing.
Let the cookies dry another day, but make sure there are no curious hands or teeth about. Place them in cute party bags and make someone's day!

Oh, and I used the cupcake toppers from my Garden Party Collection as favor tags, and my assorted  matching Fabrics as the the background (fabrics coming soon to my shop)! Tags vailable at my Etsy shop.

TIP: Although this whole process takes 3 days you can make the cookies in advance:

1. You can chill the dough and roll it out the next day.

2. You can freeze the baked cookies without the icing

3. You can also freeze the cookies already decorated in a covered plastic container, separated by grease-proof paper. Defrost them covered at room temperature for about 2 hours. They taste basically the same as fresh. Honestly, I tried!

I don't really know how long you can keep them in the freezer for, but I am testing that for you. I guess because the recipe contains butter it wouldn't be advisable to freeze them for longer than 3 months...(CakeSpy Note: but really, will they last that long?)

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