Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cinnamon Swirl Cookies

I rarely make icebox cookies (which require chilling) since I don't have the patience to wait for it - but I was home for spring break last week so I thought I'd give these cinnamon swirl cookies a shot.Pretty, aren't they. The recipe for these came TheBakingPan.com, a site I've never tried before but they looked pretty good, and not too difficult.
And they weren't. Overall they were ok, perhaps a little on the dry side, but the filling was fun and they looked really pretty. The recipe called for a vanilla icing to be drizzled on top to complete the faux cinnamon bun look, but I opted out, assuming quite correctly that they would be sweet enough without.
So anyway, the recipe was a basic cookie dough that I refrigerated for a couple hours.
Then I rolled it out and sprinkled the dough with a brown sugar and cinnamon mix, and pressed it into the dough.
Then the dough gets rolled up in wax paper and refrigerated in a log for a couple more hours. I stuck it in the freezer for those, and I put it in for even longer than called for because it really needs to firm up here. After a while I removed the log and sliced up the cookies, maintaining as much of the filling as I could.
I also lost both ends of the log, but don't worry, it didn't quite go to waste! I laid out the cookies on a prepared baking sheet, stuck em in the oven, and voila! Cinnamon Swirl Cookies.
Luckily only a few of them fell apart - you can see the top left one here didn't quite stick together.

Tip of the Day: When working with icebox or rolled out cookies, always stick whatever dough you're not currently using back in the fridge or freezer for later use.

Recipe: (from thebakingpan.com)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add in the eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined.
Add in the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours.
Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.
Roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle, and sprinkle with the filling.
Tightly roll up the dough and wrap in wax paper, refrigerate at least four hours, or overnight.
Slice the cookies 1/4 inch thick and bake at 350 F for 9 minutes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Fate of the Cookie Dough - Part 2: Lemon Bars!

Oh dear. Yet again I am faced with a lump of sugar cookie dough just calling out to be used.
Yes, I did consider just eating it. But I ultimately voted against it.Instead, I pondered and pondered. What shall be the ultimate end of the sugar cookie dough? Not more cookies. My soul was crying out to diversify. Try something new. Experiment!
And so, that very sugar cookie dough become....lemon bars!To be fair, it became the lemon bar base. It looked to be just enough to press into the bottom of an 8x8" pan, which I did. Then came the topping, I scoured a few websites to find the right mix for the top, and ultimately found one that I thought would work ok with the dough. I mixed it together, poured it on top, and took a wild guess at the baking time. (I'd already baked the base for 15 minutes). With lemon bars its hard to tell, these were a little gooey and would have been firmer with an extra five minutes or so, but they were good this way as well. I also had no lemon rind, and just added in a couple drops of lemon extract.

And so completed the last of the cookie dough. Until next time I screw up a recipe and end up with double what I needed. Shouldn't be long!

Tip of the Day: There are many websites, like www.supercook.com and www.recipematcher.com that find dishes based on what you already have. So take a look in your pantry, and find something new to create!

Sugar Cookie Dough (probably about 1/2 the recipe)

2 eggs
1/4 tsp. lemon rind
1 c. sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. flour

Press the dough into the bottom of an 8x8" pan. Bake at 350 F for about 15 minutes.
Whisk together filling ingredients until well mixed. Pour on top of warm crust and return to oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Fate of the Sugar Cookie Dough

Here I am, faced with four balls of sugar cookie dough, and nothing to do with them. Spring break, home, bored, and with a blank canvas of cookie dough in front of me.
What else could I do but have a cookie decorating party?!
My friends Bina, Miriam and Racheli showed up ready to cut out and decorate cookies to their hearts content, and we hit the kitchen with cookie cutters, chocolate chips, melted white and dark chocolate and various icings.
I unearthed every cookie dough cutter I could find in the house, which included a host of numbers, letters, flowers, a few trains, stars and several huge detailed clowns.
We rolled out the dough, and Racheli immediately stamped out three huge stars, taking up more than her share of dough. She claimed she needed them big "to be able to decorate them." Please.
Here is one of her illustrious finished products:I, of course, when faced with cookie cutter letters felt the need to spell out and decorate my own name:

Bina, on the other hand, was struck with inspiration of some kind, and created her modern art piece entitled "1, 2, 3 Clown":
Thats one of the clown cookie cutters which she decorated with an exclamation point. Because it's modern art. I firmly maintain that her 2 is actually an upside down 5.
I countered her work with an art installation of my own, entitled "Butterfly, 3, Train":
Bina also created a treble clef (right?) out of a modified question mark. And then decorated it rather unfortunately:
We also decorated some before baking, with chocolate chips. I also balled up some of the trimmings at the end and hid some chocolate chips inside. Surprise!
BUT WAIT! Even after all this, there is still some cookie dough left! What will become of it??
Come back here at the end of this week to find out its fate!

Tip of the Day: Store bought frosting can easily be dyed with food coloring to whatever shade you need. For black frosting start with chocolate, and stir in a few drops of black.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Linzer Tart Cookies

These are probably the prettiest cookies I've made so far. And best part is, they tasted really great!These are called Linzer Tart Cookies, after famous Linzer Tart Pies that are fruit filled. They're basically a sandwich cookie with a cut out top, filled with jelly and covered in confectioner's sugar. Delicious. Traditionally linzer cookies call for a dough with ground almonds, but I just made a simple sugar cookie dough and i didn't regret it.
These are a rolled cookie, which means you roll out the dough and cut out shapes. Other typical types of cookies are drop cookies, where you drop spoonfulls of dough onto a prepared baking sheet, and refridgerator cookies, where you form the dough into a log and slice off cookies before baking.
The only problem I encountered here was that when I rolled the dough out, it wasn't even in all places, so some of the cookies browned quicker than others. Nothing that covering it in white, powdery sugar couldn't solve.
Also, though I used the same cookie cutter for all the cookies, they inevitably turn out slighly different sizes because of the stretching that occurs when you move them from counter to baking sheet - so its always a trick to match up bottoms to tops that are about the same size. And then eat all the ones that are left at the end.The recipe for these, as many rolled out cookie recipes will say, called for the dough to be refridgerated overnight. Which requires both foresight and patience. Neither of which are my strong suits. So I made the dough and stuck it in the freezer for a couple hours, then moved it to the fridge for about an hour before I rolled it out. Keep whatever dough you're not using in the fridge, just so it is easier to work with. The refridgeration doesn't change the dough, it just makes it easier to roll and cut out.
My point was, that the recipe isn't very difficult, neither are any of the steps, but they are time consuming and not great for impatient or inexperienced bakers. Come back to these though, you won't regret it.
The dough for these cookies is very simple, but somehow, of course, I got off track. I was contemplating halving the recipe, since it said it made 6 dozen rounds, meaning 3 dozen sandwich cookies, which is quite alot. Ultimately, I decided to make the recipe as is, but somehow, I doubled just one of the ingredients, and realized shortly afterwards. At this point, I had to double the entire recipe to save what I had already made, which involved dumping the whole thing out of my mixer, since it never would have fit, and putting it in a separate bowl, detaching my stand mixer and converting it to a hand mixer, and having at the dough until totally mixed.
Additionally, this resulted in an extreme excess in sugar cookie dough - never a bad thing in my opinion - but what to do with it?
Stay tuned on Tuesday to find out the fate of the remaining cookie dough.

Tip of the Day: If you make cookie dough in advance it'll keep in the fridge for several days until you find time to bake it - or freeze for even longer.

Ultimate Sugar Cookies (via Good Housekeeping Great Baking book)
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1.5 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup seedless raspberry jam
confectioner's sugar

Beat together butter and sugar until light and creamy.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Gradually mix in flour, baking powder and salt.
Shape dough into 4 balls and wrap in wax paper and refridgerate overnight (or freeze for a few hours).
Lightly flour your counter or surface, and roll out dough 1/4 of an inch thick.
With 3 or 4 inch round cutter cut out as many shapes as possible.
Using a small round or other shaped cutter cut out the centers of half the cookies. Reserve the cut outs with the trimmings for rerolling.
Reroll the dough and the remaining dough as many times as necessary and keep track of the number of whole cookies and cut out cookies. They must match up.
Bake the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet for 12 to 15 minutes at 350F, without letting them get brown.
Transfer to wire racks to cool.
When completely cool, spread one whole cookie with a thin layer of jam (I microwaved it first to loosen it up) and press a cut out cookie on top. Return to rack to set and continue with remaining cookies.
When completely, sift confectioner's sugar gently over the cookies.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Double Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

I know, the name has already drawn you in, right? These are chocolate cookies, sandwiched together with chocolate frosting. Also known as a way to eat two cookies and call it one!
The cookie recipe came from The Giant Book of Chocolate - it calls to make the cookies and then top them with a dollop of frosting and a pecan - but wouldn't you rather get two cookies in there instead?
I didn't use the frosting recipe it said too, I used my recipe that I've already shared with you. Not because its superior....but because I already had some in the fridge.
I'd say these were quite the success - so much so that after I accidentally deleted the original picture I'd taken of them, I had to steal one back from a co-worker to photograph since they were all gone. Don't worry I still let him eat it. (Hence the picture on a napkin at my desk).
If you're going to transport these, make sure you make them in advance, because the cookies should be completely cool before you frost and sandwich them, and the cookies will hold together much better after they've set. (You could speed this up by refridgerating them for a little bit).
When you add the melted chocolate to the butter and sugar, you might think you've done something wrong, as it doesn't quite mix together so well in the beginning, but don't worry, stick it out and you'll be rewarded.

Tip of the Day: Experiment with your favorite cookie recipe: can it become a sandwich cookie? Roll it in sugar first? Add nuts? Dip half of it into chocolate? A whole new cookie can be moments away!

Chocolate Cookies:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 oz semisweet chocolate
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or carefully in a microwave).
Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add in the melted chocolate and mix together well.
Add the vanilla and egg, beating until just blended
Beat in the flour, baking soda and salt gradually until well mixed.
Drop teaspoonfuls of the dough on a greased baking sheet, about an inch apart.
Bake until slightly risen, 10 to 12 minutes on 400 F. (They'll flatten out later).
Let them cool on baking sheet about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
When cold, spread the bottom of one cookie with prepared frosting, and press another cookie on top.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


If I ever have to make a last minute dessert, or have a dish that doesn't quite work out as planned, I turn to my old stand by: these incredible chocolate chip blondies.This is probably the recipe I get asked for the most, and is the dish I repeat most frequently, simply because its so easy, and always comes out great. This recipe actually isn't originally mine: it comes from an old teacher of mine from high school who I still keep in touch with.
You can also customize this recipe to use your favorite additions. I generally use one bag of semisweet chocolate chips, but you can use substitute some white chocolate chips, or add some chopped nuts, M&Ms, you can even try mini marshmallows. Let me know what you try! Whatever you pick, I'm sure they'll come out as chewy and delicious as always.
Tip of the Day: When you've added all your ingredients, raise your mixer beaters an inch higher and turn it on low for a few seconds to get all the batter off. But if you raise them too high - you'll end up with spattered hair and clothing!

1 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2.5 cups flour
3/4 bag semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 bag white chocolate chips

Cream together butter and both sugars until creamy.
Add in eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Gradually add in flour, baking soda and salt until completely combined.
Stir in chocolate chips (or whatever!) at the end.
Spread out in a greased 9x13 pan, and bake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rich, chocolatey and gooey

Reading this blog would make you think I'm a chocolate (and raspberry) freak. I'm not. But everyone likes a good chocolate cake.
In truth, it was my friend Ariel who selected this Chocolate Truffle Cake from the Good Housekeeping Great Baking book. But I happily went along with it. A short list of ingredients, and no assembly meant I agreed to her request. It was simple enough to make, with one minor flub. The cake said it should bake in a 9 inch springform pan, which of course I didn't have. So I figured I'd just bake it in a 9 inch foil pan, and I didn't really mind if we had to eat it out of the pan, we were being fairly low key.
Anyway, I finished the batter, and went to pour it in the pan...and kept pouring. Needless to say I realized not a moment too soon that all the batter was not going to fit in the pan, and I quickly stopped just before it was about to overflow. I was then left with a 9 inch pan filled to a point where I wasn't sure I could move it into the oven without spilling, and about 2 cups left of batter. I had to make a quick decision, so of course I made Chocolate Truffle cupcakes! The cake was for Saturday lunch but the cupcakes were gone Thursday night, after all, I only got 6 made.
The cake was quite good, but it was very rich and very thick. It's a flourless cake, which means you could make it on Passover, but when I took my first bite I thought it tasted like baked chocolate mousse. And when you read the ingredients, it basically is baked chocolate mousse. It didn't really cut very well but we didn't mind too much - I would worry more if you were serving it to guests or at a fancy meal.

Tip of the Day: If you're worried about a cake coming out of a pan, you can line the pan with foil, spray with Pam, and simply peel the foil off the finished cake.

Chocolate Truffle Cake:
14 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 ounces unsweeted chocolate
1 cup butter
9 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Melt semisweet and unsweetened chocolates and butter over low heat.
In separate bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and lemon colored, about 5 minutes.
Add egg mixture and chocolate mixture together, stirring until well blended.
In another bowl, with clean beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.
Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture, 1/3 at a time.
Bake in 9 inch springform pan - with the bottom lined with foil and the whole thing greased - for 35 minutes on 300 F. Cool in pan on wire rack, then refridgerate overnight in pan.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Crispy oaty goodness

These were crunchy and light, perfect for having one, or two or three.....
This recipe for Chocolate Oat Cookies comes from The Giant Book of Chocolate published by Barron's.
They were simple and baked up nicely - they were flat, crunchy cookies, so not for those who are looking for a chewy dessert - if you are try these instead.
I made these to send to a friend of mine, and I packed them up in a big ziploc bag when they were done - luckily they were just taking a car drive, not a trip in the mail, and they made it there mostly in one piece - or so it was reported.
In general mailing baked goods makes me nervous, sometimes even my quick subway ride to work can turn beautiful bar cookies into a mushy mess. Only some things will travel well - and chocolate chip cookies are one of them. If you wrap them in a layer of bubble wrap, they should make the trip just fine. But filled cookies, pies, cakes and other thing are best enjoyed right where they are. If you're decorating a cake for a party, the finishing touches are best placed once you arrive, so your masterpiece won't be ruined.

Tip of the Day: If your chocolate chips are on the large side, chop them up with a large knife or put them through a quick pulse in the food processor for finer shavings of chocolate.

Chocolate Oat Cookies:
2 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups melted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Stir together oats, sugars, flour and salt.
Make a well in the center and stir in butter, egg and vanilla.
Stir in the chocolate chips until well mixed.
Drop teaspoons of dough 3 inches apart on a baking sheet.
Bake at 350 F for 8 to 10 minutes.
Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Strawberry surprise!

I love the idea of a filled cupcake or muffin...its a surprise inside a cake! These strawberry filled white chocolate muffins were easier than you think.

This recipe comes from The Giant Book of Chocolate, and I was drawn to it because it was a filled cupcake recipe, but it only had two step.
See, most filled cupcake recipes make you bake the cake, and then either inject the filling inside with a special tool (which I clearly don't have) or cut out a piece of the top, place the filling inside, and then replace part of the lid. This method also requires frosting them to cover up the marks.
So when I found this recipe, which baked the cupcakes with the filling already inside, I thought I'd give it a shot. I was a little bit skeptical at first, since if this really worked, why would anyone bother with those recipes? But they really did turn out well and I'd definitely experiment with this recipe in the future.
The only slight problem with the recipe was the white chocolate chips - I used a poor quality product, and it didn't integrate with the batter the way it should have. They weren't bad, just not perfect. That said, these are a great little recipe, not too difficult and they look really professional, especially when you tell people there is strawberry inside!

Tip of the Day: Use multicolored cupcake liners to add a fun little decoration to your already beautiful cupcakes.

White Chocolate Strawberry Muffins:
1.5 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1.5 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 cup strawberry jam

Beat the butter, milk, egg and vanilla until well mixed.
In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Spoon 3/4 of the batter into a 12 cup muffin pan prepared with paper liners.
Spoon 1 tsp of jam into each muffin, making a hole in the batter (not all the way down).
Top with remaining batter, covering jam completely.
Bake on 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Happy Purim!

Yesterday was the Jewish holiday of Purim, which is celebrated with traditional triangular shaped cookies called Hamantaschen.The name refers to the three cornered hat thought to be worn by the villain of the Purim story, Haman.
You can fill these with pretty much anything imaginable (I've seen some pretty inventive things) but if you couldn't tell by now, I love all things raspberry, so clearly thats where I went.
I actually made this dough a couple days in advance, since it needs to be refridgerated for at least a few hours, and I had the time to quickly put it together then.
The cookies are rolled out, then circles are cut out of the dough, the filling placed in the middle and the three sides folded up into adorable little shapes.I realized right before I rolled the dough out that I had no cookie cutters, being in my itty bitty dorm kitchen with the basic necessities. (I know, I have a rolling pin and an electric mixer - doesn't every college student?)
So, the recipe called for a 2.5 inch cookie cutter, and I was rummaging through my kitchen trying to find something. I also didn't have a ruler, so I looked up online the size of a dollar bill, and lo and behold, the width is 2.6 inches. Perfect! And, guess what was just slightly smaller than a dollar bill...the lid to my Pam container. Desperation is the mother of innovation I guess, but the lid worked perfectly and the cookies came out great, light and sweet and delicious.
Here the are right before going in the oven - don't worry, I immediately ate the ones that weren't shaped well!

Tip of the Day: If you're rolling out dough on a counter, cover the surface first with lots of wax paper or saran wrap (you can tape it down to keep it in place) for an easier clean up.

Hamataschen (via Good Housekeeping Baking Book)

2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla

Beat butter until creamy. Add in sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla and mix until well combined.
Beat in flour, baking powder and salt gradually until well combined.
Divide the dough in half and refridgerate for a few hours or overnight.
Roll out dough until 1/8 inch thick, cut out 2.5 inch rounds and reserve trimmings to reroll.
Place 1 tsp filling in the center of each round, and fold up two sides and pinch closed, then fold up the third.
Bake at 375 for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cool for one minute on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Big, chewy and delicious!

Hello friends, I'm back. I know I haven't blogged in a while, but unfortunately, when things get crazy, blogging takes a backseat on my priority list. But not in my heart. Sigh.
Well, here we go: big, chewy chocolate chip cookies, fresh from the oven.
These were a recipe I found in The Golden Book of Chocolate (recipe below). Of course, they looked good, and I already had all the ingredients!
Well, I made these last week, on a very busy night, and...I got a little impatient towards the end.
See, I'm working in a very small kitchen here, with a very small oven, where I could only really cook 6 of these babies at a time. And I had to cool them on the baking sheet, meaning even longer in between batches. (Yes, I could buy a second baking sheet, but I'm cheap). So anyway, after 3 batches of cookies, I was getting pretty frustrated, running short on time and patience, and wanted to just finish up. I couldn't even start washing up because the batter was still in the bowl.
Well, thats when I came up with my bright idea. I looked at the remaining batter, and back at the baking sheet....and decided I would make...six. giant. cookies.
These were enormous, and of course required almost double the cooking time, but I could then relax, sit and finish. Impatience is a virtue my friends.
Check out the first and last batch of cookies side by side above.

Tip of the Day: Real vanilla extract has a much better taste than the fake stuff, so invest wisely in the real stuff - your taste buds will approve. (from Miryam S.)

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2.5 cups rolled oats
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
(1 cup walnuts - I left these out)

Beat the butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well.
Beat in the vanilla, flour, baking powder, baking soda and oats.
Stir in chocolate chips (and nuts).
Shape dough into golf ball sized cookies and place 3 inches apart on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake for about 10 minutes on 350 F.
Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Well, this one would take quite alot of explaining, so I think I'm better off just showing you my masterpiece:That's right, it's a cow cake. A beautiful cow cake. Why?, you might ask. Well, I'll just say this.
My good friend Sarah was leaving the country for a few months, so at our gathering the night before we left, we celebrated/commemorated it with cow cake! No more questions.
This is a layer cake with Paula Deen's 1-2-3-4 cake recipe that I've used before, sandwiched together with chocolate frosting. Then I covered the outside with vanilla frosting, and then with rolled out white fondant.
Then I had to dye some of the fondant black - boy was that messy. Sure, you can buy black fondant, but where's the fun in that! Anyway then I cut out the shapes and stuck them on with a little bit of water, made the eyes and voila! Cow Cake!
You may all now envy my creation.

Tip of the Day: When dying fondant (or anything else) dark colors, wearing gloves will prevent your hands from taking on a similar hue.