Saveur’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG-7531

Most people won’t say no to chocolate chip cookies, whether overcooked or store-bought. Chocolate chip cookies are an American classic and definitely a recipe I have made and eaten thousands of times. Maybe the internet is to blame or maybe it’s just my curiosity for baking, but despite the number of times I’ve made the chewy, gooey hand-held dessert, I still sometimes feel the need to try a new recipe. Social media tends to make us feel pressured to constantly achieve bigger (or smaller) and better whether through our perfectly toned and tanned bodies, our flawlessly frosted cakes, or our carefully crafted home decor. Yes, your chocolate chip cookie recipe may already be amazing, but the lure of the internet will lead you to believe thatย this one is the best. Continue reading

Advertisements

Fall Cookies: Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Scotchies

IMG_1710Pumpkin gets a lot of hype this time of year. It’s orange to match the foliage, it’s in season at farmers’ markets and apple orchards, and it’s darn delicious when you whisk in some warm fall spices and sugar to sweeten the deal. This time of year we see recipes for everything pumpkin from pumpkin soup to pumpkin cookies to pumpkin cheesecake. Don’t get me wrong – I love pumpkin, but I wanted to distinguish myself here. I was hoping to stand out from the crowds of pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin donuts. (I guess I did make this pumpkin creme brulee once.)

Growing up, one of my sister’s favorite cookies was called an oatmeal scotchie. It started with a traditional cookie dough with some rolled oats but then you swirled in some butterscotch chips (scotchies!) baked them until crispy. I liked them well enough and I ate them, (I mean c’mon now, they are cookies) but I’ve always preferred my cookies on the softer side. Don’t you?

IMG_1713IMG_1712

While wandering the grocery store aisles for my regular shopping I passed by these butterscotch chips and I began to feel nostalgic for the days of oatmeal scotchies baked by my mom. It seemed like as good an excuse as any so I threw them in my cart along with the other regular cookie ingredients (stocking up my Seattle kitchen!). When I got home I wanted to get to work right away. No time to waste for cookie making! I decided to start with the recipe on the back of the bag with some alterations (when do I ever follow a recipe exactly these days?). I tasted a few chips before starting and was surprised by how sweet they were (things are never too sweet when you’re a kid). So I decided to tone down the sugar a bit. I threw in some toasted pecans to help counterbalance the sweetness. And just for fun I made half the batch with dried cranberries instead of butterscotch chips to see how that would go. Dried cranberries are part of the fall flavor collection it seems.

IMG_1650

The first batch - too crunchy!

The first batch – too crunchy!

Nonetheless I was disappointed with these cookies. (I mean, again, I ate them because they’re cookies for goodness sake, but I wanted them to be better.) These were too crispy and flat and the pecans hardly made a difference. So I ditched the pecans and ditched the recipe on the bag and started over. I turned to my great grandma’s recipe box, a beautiful heirloom handed down to me from my grandmother. I pulled out her recipe for oatmeal drop cookies and I made it (followed it exactly!) – half with raisins as the recipe states, half with butterscotch chips. They were soft and chewy and had just the right flavor of fall.

Are you sick of pumpkin yet? Okay, maybe not, but give these a try if you want something different. Maybe I’ll spark a new fall flavor tradition!

As a side note: these butterscotch chips are super sweet and a little fakey. My next project would be to figure out how to make better HOMEMADE butterscotch chips. Please leave a comment if you know any great butterscotch recipes!

Grandma’s Oatmeal Scotchies (or Oatmeal Raisin cookies)

1/2 cup shortening*

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

5 T. milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. allspice

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 3/4 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup butterscotch chips (or raisins)

1/2 cup toasted pecans (optional)

*You can try substituting butter for the shortening in this cookie, but you will sacrifice the texture! Using all shortening makes for softer cookies. I have not tried doing half butter and half shortening, but I imagine that would be pretty good.

Start by creaming your shortening and sugar for a few minutes with an electric beater. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add milk and mix to incorporate. Don’t worry if it looks too curdled. Add in your flour, salt, baking powder, and spices and stir with a spatula to incorporate. Lastly add your oats and butterscotch chips and mix.

My great grandma’s recipe says to bake these in a moderate oven, which I interpreted as 350 or 375. Scoop onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes at 350. It should be a shorter baking time in a 375 degree oven and they may brown a little more. These came out a little pale in the end. Remove from pans and allow to cool.

IMG_1709

Enjoy warm with a glass of milk and a cozy blanket while you watch the fall foliage. Mmm fall!

Better-than-Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

IMG_1597These are not oreos.

These are buttery chocolate shortbreads smashed together with a sweetened thick icing.

IMG_1582The ingredient list is short (and sweet!) You probably already have everything at home to make them. Well, except the cake flour, but I didn’t let that stop me!

IMG_1585Sticky chocolate dough. Don’t add more flour to make it better. Stick it in the fridge. Let that softened butter firm up again.

IMG_1586I used a wedding gift champagne glass as my cookie cutter. That’s because I’m creative. Also I do not own a round cookie cutter. Doesn’t a round cookie cutter just seem unnecessary and boring?

IMG_1589Freshly baked below! (No rising involved so they don’t look that different from the unbaked above)IMG_1591Sandwich them together. Eat a few. Dip in milk if desired.

IMG_1598Wrap up for a friend.

IMG_1599Stamp it with your seal. Let them know: I made these, people!

IMG_1602

Better-than-Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

adapted from the Totally Chocolate Cookbook

Chocolate Shortbread

2 sticks butter, softened (I used one salted, one unsalted and it was perfect)

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 tsp. vanilla

1+1/2 cups cake flour OR 1 cup + 2 T. all purpose flour AND 2 T. cornstarch (I used the cornstarch)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1/4 tsp. salt

Filling

1/3 cup vegetable shortening

1+2/3 cup powdered sugar

2 T. milk or heavy cream

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the cookies, beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Add sugar and vanilla and mix in. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until there are no streaks of white. Do not over mix. If it is sticky (which it should be) wrap in plastic wrap in a flattened disc and refrigerate until somewhat firm – 30 minutes to an hour.

Divide the dough in half and keep one half in the fridge while you roll out the other. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and roll until 1/4 inch thick. Be sure to check the dough as you are rolling it out to make sure it isn’t sticking. Flip over and re-flour as necessary. Cut out rounds of dough (about 2 inches) using a cookie cutter, drinking glass, or champagne glass (if you’re feeling fancy). It is very helpful to flour your cookie cutter every few cookies so the dough doesn’t get stuck. Space the cookies apart about a 1/2 inch on an unlined, ungreased cookie sheet. Be careful transferring them as the dough is fragile. I used a thin metal spatula to keep from crushing the edges. Refrigerate the cookies on the sheet until firm again, while you finish rolling out the rest of the dough (10 minutes should be about right). Re-roll scraps and use as much as possible without overworking the dough.

With the cookie sheets of cookie rounds still in the fridge, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. When preheated, remove the cookie sheets from the fridge and bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes, switching racks and rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Cookies should be slightly firm to the touch. Be careful not to over cook them. Since they are already dark, it can be hard to see if they’re done by their color. Let cool and prepare the filling.

For the filling beat the shortening with an electric mixer to loosen it up. Add sugar and half the milk, beating to incorporate. Add remaining ingredients and stir until smooth.

To frost, dab a spoonful of the filling on the bottom of a cooled cookie. Top with another cookie and gently wiggle and smoosh it to distribute the frosting evenly or just spread it on one cookie evenly before putting the second cookie on top. Repeat with remaining cookies. Enjoy with milk. I found this made just the right amount of filling for my cookies, but it depends how much you put on and how many cookies you end up with. You can always measure out the filling and divide it exactly between the cookies.

Makes about 36 sandwichesIMG_1595

As a side note: I decided to get rid of the post numbering. Does anyone really care how many “posts” I’ve written? Probably not. If you do, let me know ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for reading as always.

Post 123 – Frosted Peanut Butter Bars and Jam Crescent Cookies

Do you ever have cookie expectations? You know, you see this delicious recipe in a magazine or a cookbook (or let’s face it – these days it’s on Pinterest!) and you have a certain idea of what it will taste like and look like. And then you make it and it’s not quite what you wanted, but it’s still a cookie.

IMG_1545That’s kind of what happened with these peanut butter cookie bars. I mean they were sweetened peanut butter cookies with peanut butter frosting, BUT they were soft and cakey instead of hard and chewy like I was expecting. Expectations can ruin everything. I made these cookies, excited to see the results and then when I took a bite, it just wasn’t what I expected! I will admit I may have halved the recipe (though not all ingredients) and probably didn’t bake them quite long enough, so maybe I have no one to blame but myself.

IMG_1528Nonetheless these cookies check another cookbook off my Cookbook Challenge. Who knows where I got this recipe booklet called Bar Cookie BONANZA! but I certainly had a hard time picking out which recipe to make. It’s an older book, the kind without all the pretty food photos enticing you to try a recipe. Instead it has simple instructions and titles that require you to actually read the pages as you’re flipping. Oh reading recipes… who does that?

Just kidding – I do ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_1535

IMG_1541While I was making peanut butter cookies I figured why not make a jam cookie as well to go alongside it. These simple Jam Crescent Cookies come from another similar cookie booklet simply called Cookies! I’m assuming these two booklets were stuck into my collection at some point in my move to Boston by my mother. Just what I need – more cookie recipes!

IMG_1532These cookies start with what is essentially a cream cheese pie dough. It has a tiny bit of liquid and you will think no way this recipe is right, but if you use your hands you can bring this dough together. The dough is then chilled, like pie dough, to allow the fat to get cold again and then rolled out, filled with jam and sprinkled with sugar. Essentially you have simple (and mini) cookie-pies or even Pop-Tarts!

IMG_1542IMG_1544These guys can hold a lot less jam than you think. It oozes out with just a hint too much!

IMG_1549Bake them, sprinkle with powdered sugar, let cool slightly (that jam can burn your tongue – don’t say I didn’t warn you!) and enjoy! Pair with a Frosted Peanut Butter Bar and it’s like a really sweet (in both senses of the word, Sam) PB&J sandwich.

Bon appetit!

IMG_1550

Frosted Peanut Butter Bars

1/2 cup peanut butter, (at room temperature if you keep yours in the fridge)

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Combine peanut butter and butter until creamy. Add sugars, beating well. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Spread in a greased, 13x9x2 inch pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until firm and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool and frost with the recipe below.

Frosting

1/2 cup peanut butter

2+1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 cup milk

Beat all ingredients until smooth. Spread on cooled bars.

Jam Crescent Cookies

2 cups flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted (plus some for dusting)

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup salted butter (or unsalted plus 1/4 tsp. salt) – COLD

1 T. milk (yes that’s it!)

your choice of fruit preserves in some unknown quantity

In a large bowl, combine the flour and sugar and cut in the cream cheese and butter until you have coarse looking crumbs. Add the milk, mix well though do not over mix. Press the dough into a smooth ball (with your hands is best). Flatten dough slightly, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. You can also refrigerate it for several hours or longer, though you make need to leave it out at room temperature for 10 minutes or so before rolling it out if you do.

Preheat oven to 350. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll each half out carefully into a rectangle. Cut the dough into roughly similar size squares (the recipe recommends 3-inch). Put 1 tsp. (or less!) of preserves slightly off center. Fold over the dough to enclose the preserves and form a triangle (see photos above). Roll dough toward the point and smooth and seal the edges. Bend in ends of dough to give a crescent effect.*

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until light brown. Remove and cool. Dust lightly with more powdered sugar.

*Without a final photo, some of these instructions were lost on me, but I’m including them for your benefit, in case you’re smarter than I am!

Post 121 – Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Remember that ooey gooey chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream at Blue Dragon?

IMG_0355

Well it was heavenly. Divine. I was tempted to come home and make one myself. Nonetheless I don’t have a personal cookie sized cast iron pan (and I know I would eat way too much of a 10″ pan myself!) so I made regular chocolate chip cookies instead. Well, not entirely regular I’ll admit, but nothing crazy. As part of the continuation of my Cookbook Challenge I decided to try a new technique in making chocolate chip cookies. My godmother gifted me Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Dessert cookbook long ago and I have made some recipes out of there – such as these beautiful checkerboard cookies – though I still hadn’t ticked it off my list for my Cookbook Challenge. Continue reading

Post 105 – Snowflake Cookies and Bacon Fat Gingersnaps

IMG_0570

With all of this snow falling here in the Northeast I’ve had several of my relatives checking in with me to see how we’re holding up. Are you guys buried in snow? Are you staying warm? Do you have enough food? Do we have enough food? Ha! In my house we always have enough food.

These snow storms have generally caused a decrease in productivity here in Boston as public transit has been shut down for full days more than once, businesses have had to close, and schools have racked up snow days to make up in the warm months of summer. For me, it has been a very productive time.

IMG_1223

There is something about being stuck inside with white flakes falling down that makes you get down to business (or makes you start to go crazy!) For me that has meant making significant progress on a quilt I started probably fifteen years ago (no joke) and baking and cooking many of the delicious recipes I’ve been wanting to make. It has also meant being continually well-stocked on all types of food – breakfast, dinner, dessert.

As I mentioned in my last post I’ve made Cincinnati Chili, Cinnamon Swirl Bread, and Homemade Hamburger Buns. During storm #3 I made bacon fat gingersnaps. This recipe was a combination of looking-for-an-excuse-to-make-cookies-of-any-kind and wanting-to-use-up-the-bacon-grease-in-the-fridge. (I’ve told you before about my obsession with using things up). I found it in the New York Times cooking section and had been eying it for what felt like forever. So I made a small batch.

IMG_1224

The cookies turned out savory, ginger-spicy, and salty – a little too salty, we decided after a few cookies (and I even reduced the salt it called for!) Always looking to improve rather than waste, I decided if they were too salty then they needed more sweet to balance. So I sandwiched them together with a maple butter cream frosting. They were better… I mean I ate them! Next time we’ll try again with less salt.

IMG_1230

Post storm #4 I opted for some snowflake sugar cookies. To be honest I felt quite sugared-out for the moment thanks to a delicious Valentine’s day chocolate mousse my husband made for me and the salted caramels he bought me, but I had an ulterior motive. After six official snow days (plus the weekends) I had still not gathered the courage to meet my neighbors across the hall, something I’d been telling myself to do for weeks. With encouragement from others, I decided making snow-themed cookies was a perfect way to introduce myself and break the ice (haha, pun totally not intended).

IMG_1247

I baked a small batch of cookies, cooled and frosted them (barely making it by using up the last crumbs of powdered sugar) and knocked on their door, my heart beating. No answer.

Unfortunately, my great cookie act of kindness mission did not succeed. I made Sam take the cookies to work today because I know they would enjoy them there, having made the cookies with the intention of not eating them myself. I will have to try the neighbors another time.

This recipe is my favorite sugar cookie recipe lately. It makes soft, lightly-colored cookies that roll out beautifully. Be warned that if you use a snowflake cookie cutter, they can be a little fragile with the points. I hope you make some cookies for your neighbors or at least make friends with them. We never know when we might need a friend nearby.

 

Erin’s Favorite Sugar Cookies

(apologies to my grandma’s recipe, which I know is the favorite for a few in my family)

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens 75th Anniversary Cookbook

2/3 cup (almost 11 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg, room temperature

1 T. milk, room temperature (I often forget to leave this out to “warm” up)

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt and beat for a minute or two until light and fluffy, scraping the sides every now and then. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and beat to incorporate. Add flour and beat or fold in with a spatula. If the dough is too soft or sticky, divide it in half, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Otherwise continue by rolling out your cookies on a floured surface, making sure to keep the thickness consistent. Transfer cookies to a parchment lined sheet and bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes, depending on softness of cookies you desire and the thickness you’ve rolled. They should be lightly colored and slightly soft to the touch. Cool and frost with your favorite homemade frosting.

IMG_0567Share with a neighbor or a friend. Stay warm!

Post 75 – Homemade Almond Milk

Fact: I have always loved to experiment with new recipes. I started out trying basic recipes when I was younger and as I’ve become a more proficient chef and baker I have graduated to slightly more unusual recipes. I’m not talking crazy-out-there-no-one-has-ever-done-this recipes, just ones that your average home cook wouldn’t make. Some of my experiments have been motivated by my desire to feed those with special dietary requirements such as vegans and gluten-free folks, and some simply by my desire to see a new process actually work. This almond milk recipe meets both of those needs – vegan, gluten free, and a new process for me.

photo 1(22)

The past several months have been filled with on and off frustration for me when it comes to food, thanks to my GERD. I have mostly looked at this “disease” as an inconvenience that keeps me from eating the way I want to eat. Until recently…

After talking with someone who knows a lot about food, nutrition, and digestive health, I saw a different perspective. She said something along the lines of: You may be frustrated now, but think of this as an opportunity. Your body is telling you something is wrong and you have the opportunity to fix it. Though it took a few days for her words to really sink in, I realized she was right. I have the opportunity to improve my health immensely while I am still young, and hopefully I can prevent anything too serious from happening in the future.

I like to think of this homemade almond milk as part of my opportunity for better health. When I went through a test period of eating dairy free, I made this almond milk to go with my favorite homemade granola. I have generally disliked the store-bought kinds as they taste too strongly of toasted almonds, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to make mine how I wanted it. And the recipe was easy. It only requires some preparation and a little bit of time. Keep in mind that without the preservatives it will only keep a few days, but if you make small batches this shouldn’t be a problem. Whether you’re dairy free or not, I hope you try this recipe and discover something new. And I hope it doesn’t take something like GERD for you to realize your opportunity to achieve your best level of health.

Homemade Almond Milk

Below is a photo recipe. For details, check out this recipe that I used.

First soak your almonds overnight in water. Drain, rinse, and add fresh water and blend in a blender or food processor. If you are meticulous you can remove the skins from all of the almonds (they slide off easily after being soaked). Just pinch them lightly between your fingers and be ready to catch the almond that might go flying out!

photo 1(22)

photo 4(11)The almonds will get broken up and make a creamy milk and almond meal.

photo 2(19)Place a thin kitchen towel or cheesecloth over a container and pour in your blended almond milk and almond mixture. Squeeze all of the liquid from the almond solids.

photo 3(18)

 

photo 5(5)Once you have squeezed out all the liquid you will be left with slightly moist almond solids and almond milk! Refrigerate your milk and almond solids and save for a tasty recipe.

I enjoyed my fresh almond milk with strawberries!

photo 1(23)

And the almond meal went to work as gluten-free almond meal chocolate chunk cookies later in the week! We ate a few on our road trip and put the rest in the freezer for later.

Recipe for cookies here – note: I used butter in place of coconut oil

photo 2(21)

photo 1(24)

Cheers to better health!