Category Archives: Cookies

Valentine’s Day Shortbread Hearts

Valentine's Day Shortbread / Especially Edible

Oh, Valentine’s Day. I had such good intentions. I even broke out the heart-shaped cookie cutters, which – if you know anything about my relationship to dough that requires chilling or rolling out – says something right there. But then I stumbled across the obituary of the Nutella scion in the Times, and – squirrel! – I got distracted. But I posted that on the 13th, so I really have no excuse for not producing anything on Valentine’s Day itself, except to say that I am a procrastinator. And that the degeneration of what was meant to be my first semi-original recipe, miniature red velvet cakes with cream cheese filling and chocolate ganache icing, from scarlet hearts into brown lumps didn’t help my motivation any.

Valentine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible

The only really original bit, for what it’s worth, was putting the cream cheese on the inside rather than on the outside, and planning to drizzle a cream cheese glaze on top of the ganache. I should have trusted my instincts on choosing a recipe for the filling, which turned out far too thin to hold up between the layers  of cake, and I scrapped the drizzle altogether when I realized it would be too transparent to stand out against the ganache. I did succeed at slicing the heart-shaped cakes into two layers, however, something that I think was greatly helped by popping them in the fridge for a few hours after they cooled. And though the ganache had to be thinned out by some milk, it eventually covered the cakes so smoothly and glossily that it looked like I’d sent them through one of those industrial enrobing machines at the Hershey’s factory.

Red Velvet Cakes1 Red Velvet Cakes6 Red Velvet Cakes7 Red Velvet Cakes2

But enough bellyaching. A year ago, I wouldn’t have even been brave enough to attempt a multi-stage dessert, especially on the same day that I made a chicken-pasta casserole that turned out quite nicely, thank you, and looked gorgeous against the new black background fabric I found for $5.00 at Joann. (I would love to figure out how to blur the background in photos so that the food stands out without a plain backdrop, but I have a feeling that might be asking a lot of my iPhone camera….. Though I’ve seen other bloggers work wonders with it, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to blame the technology instead of the user.)

Valentine's Day Shortbread / Especially Edible

But enough bellyaching. A year ago, I wouldn’t have even been brave enough to attempt a multi-stage dessert, especially on the same day that I made a chicken-pasta casserole that turned out quite nicely, thank you, and looked gorgeous against the new black background fabric I found for $5.00 at Joann. (I would love to figure out how to blur the background in photos so that the food stands out without a plain backdrop, but I have a feeling that might be asking a lot of my iPhone camera….. Though I’ve seen other bloggers work wonders with it, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to blame the technology instead of the user.)

Valentine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible Valentine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible

What DID turn out on my Valentine’s Day? Not romance – I’ve sort of given up hope for that one. (Are you getting a self-pitying vibe? Usually, post-Feb-14th, I aim for a more archly sarcastic singleton tone.) Well, the aforementioned heart-shaped cookies were a hit at my volunteer gig. After splurging on the red gel food dye from Amazon that the blogosphere recommended as the best chance for getting my red velvet cake truly red, I dipped some yummy shortbread in some brightly tinted white chocolate and came up with a winner. Though something went briefly wrong with the melted white chocolate – I may have been better off with another ganache recipe or with those white blocks used in candy making, because it seized up when I stirred in the dye and only thinned out when I splashed in some milk – everything turned out well in the end.

Valetine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible

Valentine's Day Shortbread Cookies / Especially Edible

Whew. Are you exhausted by all the nuts and bolts of my baking adventures yet? Thank goodness for the scroll bar – I imagine most of you are past the recipe at this point. Which, now that I’ve mentioned it, is right here.

Valentine’s Day Shortbread Hearts

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 20 cookies

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

6 oz. white chocolate, chopped

Red gel food coloring

Instructions

In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until smooth again. Beat in vanilla, then fold in flour. Mix until just blended.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.

Flour a baking mat or the counter. Roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

After cookies have cooled, melt white chocolate in the microwave in thirty-second increments. Mix in a few squirts of gel food dye, adding more until the chocolate reaches the desired color. Stir until smooth, then dip the cookies into the chocolate. Place on a wire rack until the chocolate sets.

Recipe from Brunch Time Baker

http://www.especiallyedible.com/valentines-day-shortbread-hearts/

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies . . . and a farewell

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies / Especially Edible

Don’t worry. I didn’t forget about Valentine’s Day. And I didn’t purposely ignore it, the way single women in books and movies drown their sorrows in red wine and chocolate on the Day of Love. I have two perfect Valentine’s Day recipes – shortbread hearts and miniature red velvet cakes – queued up. But then I clicked over to the New York Times site and saw that Michele Ferrero, the scion of the candy company responsible for Nutella, had died. To be honest, I’d never thought about who created Nutella. (It was, FYI, Michele’s father, Pietro, who launched the product during World War II.) And I had no idea it was manufactured by the same people behind those fancy Ferrero Rocher chocolates.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies / Especially Edible

I only have one Nutella recipe on the blog, but after spending the evening in the kitchen wrestling with what thought would be cute little red velvet hearts (reality: deformed little red velvet lumps), I didn’t have the energy to pull out a recipe from my giant stack of print-outs and whip up a batch of Nutella-swirled brownies or Nutella-stuffed cookies.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies / Especially Edible

Back at my computer, however, I stumbled across a folder full of pics of the chocolate-chip hazelnut cookies I’d made at the beginning of February and promptly forgot all about. I had intended the recipes for a post about my home state, Oregon, which is a major producer of hazelnuts (or filberts, as we call them). The only thing more Oregonian than a hazelnut cookie would be a hazelnut cookie with salmon icing and marijuana sprinkles. (Kidding. Just kidding. But ew.) Hazelnuts, of course, happen to be the key ingredient in Ferrero’s famous spread. And it just so happens that they’re now available in pre-chopped, ready-to-bake packages, just like pecans and walnuts have been for ages. There is nothing worse than trying to remove the skins from hazelnuts. Don’t believe what you hear about rolling boiled unts in a kitchen towel. Best case scenario, you’re left with a pile of hazelnuts with scraps of skin still stubbornly clinging to them. (I learned this the hard way in high school, while trying to make a mixed-berry pie that called for a hazelnut crust. If you can expertly strip hazelnuts of their skins without batting an eye, good for you. You’re also probably the sort of witch who can peel oranges in one long, curling strand or skin peaches in two seconds after dropping them in boiling water.) At any rate, when I saw a half-cup bag of Diamond hazelnuts at the grocery store, I knew my lazy self had to make something with these beauties. Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies / Especially Edible

As quick as I was to grab the hazelnuts, I came late to the Nutella Internet craze; in fact, I started baking with it about the time that the food blogosphere moved on to Biscoff cookie butter. This time, however, I can be right on time with a tribute to Ferrero, who the Times describes as “the world’s richest candymaker” (his family was ranked 30th on the 2014 Forbes list of the planet’s richest billionaires). In fact, I’ve started thinking of hazelnuts as baby jars of Nutella. After all, behind every jar of Nutella is a twisted, funky-looking filbert tree.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies / Especially Edible

So here’s to enjoying hazelnut cookies. And here’s to the even greater enjoyment you’ll get from scooping a spoonful of Nutella straight out of the jar and into your mouth.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 24 small cookies

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups flour

1 cup old-fashioned oats

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

6 Tbs. butter, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

2/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.

Spread oats on a cookie sheet and toast for 5 minutes, or until golden. Do the same with the hazelnuts, toasting for about 7 minutes or until brown and fragrant.

In a small bowl, whisk together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, then fold in the hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and flatten with the palm of your hand (they will not spread much while baking). Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes. Let cool for 1 minute on cookie sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light via Tutti Dolci

http://www.especiallyedible.com/chocolate-chip-hazelnut-cookies-and-a-farewell/

Swedish Farmers’ Cookies

A family recipe from family across the pond.

Swedish Farmers' Cookies / Especially Edible

In sixth grade history class, everyone had to complete a standard family tree, which was supposed to teach us . . . well, I’m not sure what it was supposed to teach us. That our ancestors were part of history, I guess. I had it pretty easy, as my great-aunt had already done the genealogy for my maternal grandmother’s side of the family, tracing our line back to Dolly Madison (valid), and with some major lacunae, William the Conqueror (not so valid). My maternal grandfather’s family was Swedish – his father, my great-great-grandfather, came to America from Sweden in the early part of the century. And when I was a seventh-grader – just a year after the Family Tree Showdown in history class – two of our relatives from Sweden, Svante and Per, came to visit us in Oregon.

Swedish Farmers' Cookies / Especially Edible

I don’t remember a whole lot about the visit. I was sick for part of the time, which meant I couldn’t go white-water rafting with the rest of the family. That’s about as far as my memory goes. We’ve continued to trade Christmas gifts and letters with our relations from across the pond, though, and last year Svante sent a red-and-white checked cookbook with recipes – all converted from European measurements to American cups and teaspoons – for traditional Swedish cakes and cookies. The best part was the fact that his letter, typewritten in nearly perfect English that put my broken college-level Spanish to shame, walked us through all his favorite recipes, including the ones made often by his mother, Gard-Marie. I tried my hand at a few of the recipes, including sugar-free almond shells that we filled with strawberries and whipped cream for my diabetic grandfather, but that was before the era of Especially Edible. So this year, when Svante sent me a potholder tied up with a blue-and-yellow Swedish flag ribbon, I figured that was a sign from the universe to pick up the cookbook and say “thank you” for the potholder via a blog post.

Swedish Farmers' Cookies / Especially Edible

It took me awhile to pick my first recipe. Most of the entries in the cookbook are as simple as my great-grandmother’s recipe for fruitcake – minimal ingredients, though with more directions than anything scrawled on the old index card from my grandma. Flour, butter, and almonds are all standouts. So it seemed perfectly natural to choose something called “Farmers’ Cookies” that Svante remembered his grandmother Astrid making often.

They didn’t come together easily. At first, the dough was too dry – I almost wished I’d stuck to my lazy ways and melted the butter instead of cutting it into the flour cold. Figuring that any combination of flour and butter bears at least some resemblance to pie crust, I added some cold water . . . which made the dough soupy . . . which led to a couple more scoops of flour.

Surprisingly, the Farmers’ Cookies turned out great. I don’t know if they tasted anything like Astrid’s, but to my own taste testers (my parents), they tasted like crispy almond biscotti. I halved the recipe, rolling only one log of dough instead of the two specified in the recipe, since the yield – 70 cookies – would leave my tiny family swimming in almond rounds.

Swedish Farmers' Cookies / Especially Edible

As my cookies baked, I flipped through the cookbook, searching for my next recipe. I’d like to try some sort of pastry or torte, neither of which I’ve tried before – much less in translation from the Swedish. But for now this post will serve as my “thank you” to Svante for two years of (unbeknownst to him) perfect gifts.

Tack så mycket. (That better be Swedish for “thanks very much,” Google Translate.)

Swedish Farmers' Cookies / Especially Edible

Swedish Farmers' Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 7 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 22 minutes

Yield: 70 cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup butter, chilled and sliced

2 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 Tbs. molasses

1 tsp. baking soda

1 Tbs. water + extra as needed

3/4 cup chopped almonds

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400.

Mix the flour, sugar, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor. Add chunks of butter and pulse until dough is crumbly. Drizzle water and molasses into the dough and pulse until cohesive. Sprinkle in almonds and pulse until fully mixed.

Roll dough into two logs, each 2 inches thick. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until hard.

Cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Cookies will not spread much.)

Bake on center rack in oven until golden, 5-7 minutes.

Cool cookies on wire racks.

Recipe from "Swedish Cakes and Cookies"

http://www.especiallyedible.com/swedish-farmers-cookies/

Holiday M&M Cookies

Cheerful cookies to celebrate the season.

Holiday M&M Cookies / Especially Edible

I am not by nature a rule-breaker. I never sneaked out of the house as a teenager. I’ve had one speeding ticket in 15 years of driving. I don’t think I have intentionally skipped a homework assignment in my life. I can count on one hand the number of house parties I went to as a college freshman. Mostly, this is because I’m the squarest and shyest person you’ll ever meet. It’s also because, while I never gave my parents heartache over boys on motorcycles or cigarettes smoked behind the house, I stayed busy making their lives miserable with an eating disorder.

Holiday M&M Cookies / Especially Edible

But that’s not the point. The point is, I’m the last person you’d expect to find not following the instructions. However, I also have a lazy streak. (Just look at my apartment. I’m the only 29-year-old with a nightlight, because I’ve nearly killed myself tripping over crud on the floor in the middle of the night.) And that lazy streak means I usually melt my butter instead of taking the time to cream a room-temperature stick into the sugar. I don’t let my eggs come to room temperature before beating them into the batter. I use my mini food processor to chop cranberries and nuts instead of whacking at them with a knife or a hand-chopper. I avoid like the plague recipes that require chilling the dough.

Sometimes, though, I actually want something to turn out like the pictures. I’ve never had too much of a problem with flat cookies, even though melted butter is meant to be the kiss of death, but I’ve never ended up with particularly thick and puffy ones either. When I meticulously followed the recipe for the much-ballyhooed New York Times chocolate chip cookie recipe, the chilled dough did indeed produce cookies with rich, melded flavors and a thick crumb.

Holiday M&M Cookies / Especially Edible

Seeing as these cookies were destined for Christmas delivery to my best friend, I decided to actually go by the recipe. And you know what? My cookies came out as round and happy as Santa’s bowlful-of-jelly stomach. They looked great, especially after I stuck a few extra mini M&Ms on top before baking.

Holiday M&M Cookies / Especially Edible

It was also the first time I’d made pudding-mix cookies, and that’s something I think I’ll try again. I’m not yet convinced that blending black beans into brownies will really create a taste sensation, but yes – I’m now a pudding convert.

Holiday M&M Cookies / Especially Edible

Holiday M&M Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes

Yield: 24 small cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup instant vanilla pudding mix

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup mini M&Ms, plus more for adding to the cookie tops

Instructions

Whisk together flour, dry pudding mix, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter with the sugars. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat until combined. Fold in M&Ms.

Chill dough for at least 3 hours and up to 5 days.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Roll cookie dough into smallish balls with your hands and place on cookie sheets. Stick some of the extra M&Ms on top for an added pop of color.

Bake for 10-11 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. The middles will be slightly underdone; allow them to finish baking on the cookie sheets. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe slightly adapted from Averie Cooks

http://www.especiallyedible.com/holiday-mm-cookies/

Dark Chocolate Eggnog Cookies

What to do with that leftover eggnog.

  Dark Chocolate Eggnog Cookies / Especially Edible

In case you hadn’t noticed by now, my recipes tend to come in groups – or at least in pairs. Banana rum bread and rum raisin oatmeal cookies. Butternut squash hummus; butternut squash maple bread; butternut squash, chickpea, and lentil stew. Pumpkin cranberry muffins and eggnog cranberry muffins. This next recipe riffs on the eggnog left over from those muffins. The flavor is subtle – even eggnog-haters will find something to like in these chocolatey cookies.

Shopping for eggnog was, shall we say, an experience. I picked up a carton of something called “Holiday Nog” at my local natural foods store, assuming it was the same as eggnog . . . not quite. When I got it home and read the side of the container, it said, quite incongruously, “egg-free.” Really? Egg-free eggnog? Oh, excuse me. Holiday Nog. This is why I do not like shopping at a store that caters to every fad, from the long-standing (organic) to the most recent flash-in-a-pan (gluten-free). I ended up with an eggnog impostor, sort of like the vegan “cheese” sold next to the tofu and the spaghetti squash “pasta” served by raw food enthusiasts.

Dark Chocolate Eggnog Cookies / Especially Edible

But don’t worry. These cookies were not made with faux eggnog. I went back and bought the real thing. While I was at it, I also bought the chocolate version of the real thing – Guittard, with its fancy script and matte-finish bags. It’s a step up from Ghirardelli, at least price-wise, and I’m afraid I’m a consumer sheep, putting too much faith in the “most expensive = best quality” trope. But after tracking down premium eggnog, I wasn’t about to skimp on the dark chocolate.

The resulting cookies were pale and soft – not the most visually exciting things, especially with my lackluster photography skills –  with just a hint of eggnog. They reminded me of slightly sweet chocolate-chip cookies. In other words, just right for mid-November, when most people haven’t even started thinking about pumpkin pies, much less eggnog.

Dark Chocolate Eggnog Cookies / Especially Edible

Dark Chocolate Chip Eggnog Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1 cup + 2 Tbs. all-purpose flower

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

6 Tbs. butter, softened

1/2 cup + 2 Tbs. granulated sugar

1/4 cup eggnog

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 300.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together sugar and butter until creamy. Add eggnog, egg yolk, and vanilla and. Mix in chocolate chips and dry ingredients.

Spoon tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes until centers spring back when touched. (Cookies will remain pale and will not brown.)

Recipe from Brown-Eyed Baker

http://www.especiallyedible.com/dark-chocolate-eggnog-cookies/

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Raisins ‘n’ Rum.

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies / Especially Edible

I don’t drink. So you might have wondered what happened to the rum left over from my banana rum bread. I could have just shoved it to the back of the shelf and forgotten about it, but just because I don’t like alcohol in its liquid form (in baked goods it’s an entirely different story) doesn’t mean I wanted to waste a perfectly good bottle of rum. Let’s just say I could never disappoint Captain Jack Sparrow in that way.

Besides, it took effort to get that rum. First I had to be laughed at by the Albertsons clerk when I asked where they kept their liquor. Answer: in a liquor store, stupid. (When I say I don’t drink, I seriously mean I’ve never drank. I had never bought anything stronger than a Hard Mike’s before my banana bread project.) Then I had to wander humiliatingly around the state liquor store before finally giving up and asking the guy behind the desk where to find the rum. I wanted the smallest bottle they had, not the giant bottle like the ones my parents keep at the top of their pantry. (Is that weird? They don’t have unruly teenagers or short drunks in the house that they have to hide the booze from.) He produced something squat and plastic from behind the counter and I handed over my five bucks, all the while wondering whether I was getting ripped off, being conned into buying the most expensive rum in the place in the same way that a naive, college-freshman me was sold the most expensive pair of snow tires in upstate New York. But even if it was expensive for the airline-style bottle I took home, five bucks is five bucks: less money than a fancy bag of pastry flour.

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies / Especially Edible

So that’s the back story. Moving on to the cookies: I have a standing request from my father for oatmeal raisin cookies. I often soak the raisins in boiling water before mixing them into the dough to plump them up, but I’ve never tried rum. Let me say that it worked. The flavor profile, as a Food Network or Top Chef snob might say, was rich and subtly . . . rummy? All right, so I’m terrible at describing food. Just make the recipe. You’ll love it, I promise.

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies / Especially Edible

 

Rum Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 18 cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup dark rum

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbs. molasses

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats

Instructions

Boil rum and raisin in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit for 30-45 minutes, until the raisins have absorbed the rum.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and oats in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in the egg, vanilla and molasses. Stir in dry ingredients. Fold in raisins and any remaining rum that wasn't absorbed.

Bake on parchment-lined baking sheets for 12-15 minutes. Let cool for 2-3 minutes on baking sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from A Pastry Affair

http://www.especiallyedible.com/rum-raisin-oatmeal-cookies/

Pumpkin Gingersnaps

Even gingersnaps are better with a little bit of pumpkin.

Pumpkin Gingersnaps / Especially Edible

Halloween has come and gone. October is officially over. Thanksgiving is looking us in the eye. Judging by the giant Christmas tree at the mall and the white lights adorning my neighbor’s porch, we’re halfway to Yuletide. And not one of my past five posts have been about pumpkin. Oops. Let me say, that’s not a very accurate reflection of my baking life. Every other recipe I’ve made lately has had pumpkin in it. (Next on my list, for those who care, are pumpkin Rice Krispie treats.)

So in the interest of plowing through all my pumpkin baked goods before eggnog takes over as the flavor profile of the month, here’s a hybrid recipe: Pumpkin Gingersnaps. They’re not exactly snaps, as the chilling of the dough makes for puffy, pillowy cookies even for someone who melts her butter before incorporating it into the sugar. But they definitely got a thumbs up from my Offical Taste Tester #2 (otherwise known as my dad), who loves ginger-molasses cookies almost as much as he loves oatmeal-raisin ones. That’s proof enough for me that pumpkin is like chocolate: there’s not a dish that can’t be improved by its addition.

Pumpkin Gingersnaps / Especially Edible

Pumpkin Gingersnaps

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup of butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup molasses

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 1/3 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. cloves

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup turbinado sugar, for rolling

Instructions

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg. Mix in pumpkin, molasses, and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just incorporated. Chill dough for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350. Roll tablespoon-sized balls of cookie dough in the turbinado sugar, then place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies appear cracked yet soft in the middle. Let the cookies cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

http://www.especiallyedible.com/pumpkin-gingersnaps/

Halloween Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies in the haunting spirit.

Halloween Chocolate Chip Cookies | Especially Edible

Happy (belated) Halloween! I’ve been cooking up a pumpkin storm for the past month, so a batch of pumpkin muffins or scones wouldn’t have shouted special! to me. For the holiday of refined sugar and potential cavities, only orange food coloring as bright and real as Cheetos would do. So I pulled out an orange-and-black (well, orange-and-dark-brown) bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips. I have no idea what was in those bright orange chips – dyed white chocolate, maybe?

Halloween Chocolate Chip Cookies | Especially Edible

I only have one traditional chocolate-chip cookie recipe – the New York Times cookie – on this blog so far, which is definitely out of the ordinary. For all the talk of finding the one perfect recipe, most blogs have a panoply of chocolate-chip concoctions. Lovin’ From the Oven has more than ten variations on CCCs, from pumpkin-chocolate-chip cookies to chocolate-chip-toffee-walnut cookies. I used to stick to the tried and true – in my case, the Tollhouse recipe on the back of the chocolate morsels bag – but by now I’ve tried chocolate-chip cookies from more blogs than I can count. Cream cheese, Greek yogurt, instant pudding – all have a special ingredient that supposedly makes them #1.

One of the better chocolate-chip recipes out there, IMHO, is this one from Oh Sweet Basil. It’s titled “Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies,” and mine turned out even thicker than the ones pictured on the blog. They were little puffy, craggy lumps studded with Halloween-themed chocolate chips. Next time I might give each one a quick press of the palm before baking, but otherwise, these turned out mighty fine. And it’s a recipe that calls for melting the butter to boot! My laziness is justified!

Halloween Chocolate Chip Cookies | Especially Edible

Halloween Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Total Time: 33 minutes

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

2 cups plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

12 Tbs. butter, melted and cooled

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 325.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a small bowl.

Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla. Mix in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Recipe from America's Test Kitchen via Oh Sweet Basil

Spoon the dough by 1/4 cups - the cookies will hardly spread at all - onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back midway through the baking time.

Let cool on the baking sheets for two minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

http://www.especiallyedible.com/halloween-chocolate-chip-cookies/

The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Are these the best chocolate chip cookies ever?

2014-09-21 13.30.29

The word on the street (well, if by “street” you mean “the food blogosphere”) is that Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies, the kind I’ve made all my life by following the recipe on the back of the Nestle semi-sweet chip bag, are out.

What’s in? The New York Times’ scientifically refined 2008 chocolate chip concoction from Jacques Torres. Averie Cooks calls it “full of nuances and uniquities” (is “uniquities” even a word?), My Baking Addiction describes it as a recipe that “immediately changed my perception of chocolate chip cookie perfection,” and Recipe Girl conducted a taste test between cookies chilled for 5, 24, and 48 hours.

So what makes the Times’ cookie recipe so special? Three things stand out to me: it utilizes not only bread flour but cake flour as well, two ingredients you don’t usually see in run-of-the-mill chocolate chip cookies, and it recommends chilling the dough for an entire 24 hours. The recipe also produces just nine Gargantuan 5-inch cookies, which reminds me of the saran-wrapped Monster Cookies of my youth. They’re so big that they call for special extra-large chocolate disks – “feves,” which are conveniently sold by Jacques Torres’ own chocolate company – with at least 60 percent cacao content. These are cookies for which only the richest, darkest chocolate will do; none of that semi-sweet or milk business here.

Leaving aside the question of whether humans really should be forced to wait 24 hours for a mouthful of chewy, chocolatey goodness, let’s look at Torres’ ingredients. Bread flour contains more protein than all-purpose, which creates more gluten – and that means more of the dense, elastic chewiness you want in a bread. Cake flour is exactly the opposite; it has less protein, which helps create the light, fluffy texture needed for cakes. (At least in theory. I’m not sure if I’m buying it, as both my cake flour and bread flour list 3 grams of flour per 1/4 cup. Huh?) Theoretically, it makes sense that the combination of the two would somehow balance each other out, creating perfect cookie harmony.

The chilling of the dough is more routine – and the part that I’m most likely to skip. I’m so hungry – no pun intended – for results that I typically microwave my butter waaaay past the “softened” state called for in most recipes. When I come across an online recipe that requires even an hour of chilling, my first move is to close my browser tab. However, determined to follow the Times recipe to the letter, I let the dough refrigerate for an entire day before dolloping it onto cookie sheets.

The size of the cookies was the one instruction I fudged – and the one, I think, that’s least likely to affect the taste. No one in my family has any use for five-inch cookies. They’d be broken in half immediately. So I scooped my cookies into the regular, heaping-tablespoons that I usually do. In the end, they didn’t come out looking appreciably different from Tollhouse cookies.

So were the NYT cookies worth it? Anyone who knows me knows I am a loyal Times fan – the news section is incomparable, and if you’re looking for a staunchly liberal editorial page, the Gray Lady is where it’s at – but were the cookies really everything that food bloggers had gushed about? My verdict: Torres’ recipe is good, perhaps great. My official taste-tester (a.k.a. my mother) pointed out that they tasted oven-fresh even after a day in a Ziploc bag. I can’t claim, however, to have had a cookie epiphany or a baking revelation. The NYT cookies were not a point of no return. They weren’t the Pulitzer Prize of cookies.  The next time I make chocolate chip cookies for friends, I’ll probably fall back to the old Tollhouse recipe, just because it’s easier, cheaper, and doesn’t require 24 hours advance notice.

But am I glad for the experience of making the cookies recommended by the nation’s paper of record? Heck yes. Even if the Jacques Torres’ chocolate chip cookies aren’t the absolute last word in pastry perfection, I had fun sifting my different flours and creaming truly cold butter into the sugars. Try it. You, too, might just feel like a chef.

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NYT Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 24 hours, 40 minutes

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

2 cups minus 2 Tbs. cake flour

1 2/3 cups bread flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt

1 1/4 cups butter

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 Tbs. granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 pounds (20 oz.) dark chocolate chips

Sea salt

Instructions

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Beat in flour mixture until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Refrigerate dough in plastic wrap for 24 to 36 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown but still soft.

Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe from Jacques Torres via The New York Times

http://www.especiallyedible.com/the-new-york-times-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Pumpkin Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

A better pumpkin cookie than my Mom’s recipe?

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Welcome to the second installment in my Everything Pumpkin series. No, really. That’s sort of what it feels like in the world of food blogs, where you can find everything from pumpkin chocolate chip brownies to homemade pumpkin butter to pumpkin smoothies. And don’t forget the copycat recipes of anything from Starbucks, including pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin scones. Search Pinterest for “pumpkin” and you’ll be treated to an endless scroll of not just desserts but food for every meal: pumpkin donuts, pumpkin French toast, pumpkin tortilla rolls (seriously), pumpkin chicken enchiladas, even something identified as “slow cooker pumpkin pie.”

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In my parents’ house, there is only One True Pumpkin Cookie recipe. So it’s with a hint of sacrilege that I search the Internet for anything but my mother’s traditional – but slightly bare-bones – Joy of Cooking recipe. Last year, these Craisin-filled cookies earned a thumbs-up from my father, who thought they were better than the old “family” recipe. That in turn earned a sniff of disapproval from my mother, who is never going to like anything but the JoC orange dollops.

What’s next on my Everything Pumpkin radar? Probably not pie baked in a slow cooker, however one might accomplish that. I’m leaning toward beer bread, baked with the pumpkin ales that only appear in stores in the run-up to Halloween.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Pumpkin Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup wheat flour

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp. allspice

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 large egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup Craisins (dried cranberries)

1 cup walnuts (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together flour, oats, baking soda and spices in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in egg, pumpkin, and vanilla, then stir in flour mixture. Fold in Craisins and, if desired, walnuts.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-17 minutes. Cool on sheets for 4 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe slightly adapted from Mom on Timeout

http://www.especiallyedible.com/pumpkin-oatmeal-craisin-cookies/

If I were to copy this recipe verbatim from the source, I’d have to include a lot of asterisks. For one, it called for chilling the dough for one hour . . . and I’m the lazy baker, remember? Honestly, though, I didn’t even see that the recipe called for chilling the dough. And I wasn’t left with flat cookies, even though I hewed to my usual (wrong, I know) procedure of melting the butter before beating it into the sugar. Even in the rare occasions when I take the time to cream a room-temperature stick of butter with the sugar, I’ve never gotten anything that I could call “light and fluffy,” as this recipe – and hundreds of others – predicts. And I certainly don’t see the point in standing there for three minutes to cream said butter and sugar, when it’s as mixed as it’s going to get after a good 45 seconds. Unless you’re stirring with a wooden spoon . . . three minutes? I could make myself breakfast – albeit a microwaved bowl of instant oatmeal – in three minutes. I’m sure there’s an army of traditionalists out there to argue with me, but – hey, if the shortcuts work, they work.