Archive for the 'Cookies' Category

Orange Blossom Clouds

My mouth has been watering basically since the exact moment on May 24, 2008, when Dayna posted this recipe on her blog. The page has been bookmarked on my toolbar for as long as I can remember. Why haven’t I made these Whoopie Pie confections until now? I have no idea. They are incredible. The spicy ginger and molasses flavors in the cakey cookies are perfectly paired with the sweet orange blossom aroma of the fluffy icing sandwiched in between. This last week was very busy at school; besides all the normal teaching and homework to do, we had to complete a high-stakes standardized state assessment teaching unit deployed by the State of California for all teaching credential students. In the middle of this crazy week was a dearly beloved and inspiring professor’s birthday, and since I wanted to bring her a treat and wanted to give everyone going through such a draining experience, I added baking cookies to my ever expanding To Do List. This happened to be the one thing that I actually wanted to do. So, of course baking took priority over reading and writing and processing, and I jumped at the opportunity to bake this recipe I’d been waiting to try forever. This was truly what I was looking for: something fruity and different, off the radar of traditional birthday baking surprises and a definite pick-me-up for the rest of us.

Notes from baking: My cookies are not as lightly colored as Dayna’s (I think because I used blackstrap molasses), and I added a little extra orange blossom water to pump up the intensity of the flavors. The cookie batter is more like a cake batter than I would have expected, and you definitely have to scoop the batter with a spoon and dollop it onto your pan. After baking, the cookies have a soft pliable consistency, more like a muffin or cupcake-top than I would have expected – but I’ve also never had a real Whoopie Pie and I think this is what it’s supposed to be like. I personally enjoyed the overall fluffy and melt-in-your-mouth experience of eating them!

If you want to pack the cookies and take them anywhere with you: don’t layer the cookies! Or, if you must, put sheets of wax or parchment paper in between the layers, because these cookies get sticky and smushy and while they still taste delicious, their cute sandwich and easy eatability disappears quickly as they turn into one giant cakey-frostingy-decadent mush. That you might have to eat with a fork, instead of your fingers. That certainly didn’t stop us from devouring the cookies quickly, but word to the wise: bring napkins!

PB&C, My Favorite Combination

Is anyone getting sick of me posting about chocolate and peanut butter combinations? I know I’ve gone a little overboard at times, but they really are my favorite flavors and when combined, totally hit the spot. And can I help it if they also happen to be the favorite flavors of some of my favorite people, too? On Wednesday, my brother came home from nearly two years abroad, and we had a welcome home dinner party for him – he happens to love chocolate and peanut butter, and so did many of our guests (does anyone remember the decadence of Zoe’s birthday cake?). I had been eyeing this recipe from Isa’s Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and I knew this was the perfect opportunity to make the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pillows. The benefit of making these cookies when you’re about to have a dinner party is you can make them at the last minute, and it becomes a good activity for early-arrivals – you need lots of hands to roll all the little balls of peanut butter batter and cover them in dark chocolate cookie dough. Luckily, I have lovely friends who are happy to help out (and happy to do a lot of tasting along the way!). Make a double batch, and you’ll have enough for the party, the days following, enough to send as a birthday present to a friend out of town, enough for the friend doing the out-of-state delivery, and enough to give as little gifts to special people in your life. There is no end to these cookies…except, sadly, after giving them all away and watching them disappear as your little brother/garbage disposal consumes them in handfuls. Cute.


I had a meeting yesterday that was just asking for cookies – so I whipped these Snickerdoodles up. Maple Snickerdoodles (or Maple Doodles, or even Mapoodles) are an old favorite of mine, and I had a recipe that I’ve been using exclusively for the past 7 years, and it never fails to please everyone’s tastebuds! However, when I went to find it yesterday morning, I couldn’t locate it anywhere! I racked my brain for where I could have put it, where it might have been written out or typed up, and I just couldn’t think of where. And for the life of me, I couldn’t think of where the recipe had come from originally. So, I got creative and I made this one up, adding in cream of tartar and corn starch and making maple sugar by hand when I didn’t have any in the cupboard. And you know what? These cookies were just as good as I remembered them being – perhaps even better. Soft and gooey in the center, with a crisp crunchy outside, and perfectly crackling tops…And a subtle maple flavor bursting out from behind the more common cinnamon had me reaching for more and more tastes.

I’ve made more traditional Snickerdoodles and Snickerdoodles with even more radical flavor adaptations, but I think this is my absolute favorite. Everyone at my meeting liked them (I was told “These can’t be vegan!” and that I should share my recipes with Paula Deen). My two-year old step-first-cousin-once-removed (how’s that for a complicated relationship?) was with me while I was baking, and ended up being my first taste-tester. He doesn’t usually like sweets, but he loved them and was reaching for a second cookie before he even finished his first! Isn’t he adorable? Pretty much as sweet as the cookie he’s eating, don’t you think?

Maple Snickerdoodle Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 Tblsp. corn starch
1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
3 Tblsp. real maple syrup
3 Tblsp. warm water
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For rolling your cookies:
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup maple sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp. real maple syrup
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, cream of tartar, and corn starch. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 cup of white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the maple syrup, water, and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients until just mixed. In a small dish, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup white sugar, maple sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Alternatively, if you don’t have maple sugar on hand, you can make your own version by mixing 1 cup white sugar with about 1 teaspoon of maple syrup (stir together quickly by hand or in a food processor, till texture of sugar is dry but fully covered by the syrup – you want to still be able to roll cookie dough in it, so it should be crumbly enough). Mix this with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon in a small bowl.
Roll your cookie dough into 1-inch balls, and roll the balls in the sugar mixture.
Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven. I like mine a little underbaked, so that the centers are perfectly gooey but have a crunchy outer shell. Cookies will be crackly on top and look wet in the middle.
Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Pecan Wedding Cookies

My mom made mixed up a double recipe of the batter for these cookies, and baked only a few of them to take to an event she was attending. She left the rest of the batter in the fridge, waiting to be baked the next day. Completely oblivious to any of this, I arrived home and found the bowl of batter while looking for a snack. I didn’t know what kind of dough it was, and took a tiny taste. Then another tiny taste. I thought to myself, “Mmmm, This is delicious! I probably should stop”, but then again, the dough was so creamy, rich, sweet, delicate at the same time, I couldn’t resist having another bite. I literally had to put the cookie dough back in the fridge, go brush my teeth so I couldn’t taste or be tempted by the deliciousness any more, and close myself off in another room so I didn’t finish off the whole bowl of dough in that one sitting!

We know now that the dough for these cookies is addicting and should definitely not be left alone for too long (translation: I should not be left alone with the dough for too long…). Instead, you should bake the cookies, and you are guaranteed to make a lot of new friends, because the baked cookies taste just as good! I didn’t think they would, but they really do. They have a crumbly, powdered texture that is unique and gives them a melt-in-your-mouth effect. They are simple and quick to make (and use only a few ingredients that you may already have lying around in your cupboards). If you want, you can substitute a different type of nut for the pecans. I suggest almonds or walnuts, or a combination. Enjoy!

Pecan Wedding Cookie Ingredients:

1 cup Earth Balance, room temperature
1/2 cup very fine granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the Earth Balance with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Beat until combined. Beat in the vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Stir in the pecans.
Shape slightly rounded teaspoons of dough into balls the size of large grapes Place balls 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the bottoms just begin to brown.
While the cookies are still slightly warm, roll them in powdered sugar. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and cool completely.
This recipe makes about 72 cookies.

Sparkling Ginger Cookies for a Happy New Year

Today I started writing in my new 2010 planner. I’ve been putting all my notes, future dates to remember, and appointments on a page at the end of my old organizer, not willing to acknowledge that 2009 is nearly over, and hoping not to let the last few days of the year slip by. However, it’s reached a point where I can’t ignore it anymore, and I think I should welcome the new year in with a good celebration! I’m spontaneously flying to New York to visit dear dear friends, and am so excited to do this. It’s pretty uncharacteristic of me, booking a ticket only a day and a half in advance, but with some wonderful and powerful convincing on their part, my friends got me to buy the tickets and brave the cold weather in New York so that I can snuggle up with them and celebrate! How did they do this? They sent me roses. Seriously, I arrived home at midnight last night and had roses on my doorstep! What sweeties! I can’t wait to step off the plane tomorrow and see them.

Another way to positively bring in the new year, of course (and very typical for me), is to bake! These are the same Ginger Cookies that I made previously, and I told you that we had made them many many times! I just wanted to show you one of the other forms they can take, this time in a sparkly and crunchier form. Well, the middles of the cookies are still chewy, but the coarse sugar coating gives them a super crunchy and sweet outer layer. They are also smaller, nearly bite-sized, so you can justify eating more of them! My mom made these ones, and she used the same recipe as I did before, but she made the balls smaller (about 1/2 – 3/4 inch sized), rolled them in coarse sugar (actually, large clear sugar sprinkles) and stuck a piece of candied ginger on top. Because they are smaller, you can bake them for a minute or two less than described previously (so, only about 8 minutes). These cookies looked really lovely on our holiday platters!

I hope that wherever you are, whatever you are doing, that everyone has a joyful New Years. Be safe, happy, and resolve to be thoughtful to yourself and others this year. Above all else, be celebratory, because why not?

Sweet and Spicy

Looking for a last-minute Christmas cookie? These Ginger Crinkle Cookies are for you! They are fast and easy to make, and fill your house with the scents of the season as they bake. Time your baking right so that you take them out of the oven just before your guests arrive, and you won’t need to do anything else to get them in the holiday spirit. I’ve made these cookies three times in the last couple weeks, because they are so tasty and have been gobbled up in no time flat!

Thanks to the applesauce in the batter, these cookies are soft and chewy in the center, with crisp crunchy edges – perfect for all cookie lovers. The fresh ginger gives them a nice spicy kick, and sets these cookies apart from more traditional gingerbread. Drizzled with a sweetly spiced Lemon Icing, they carry quite a citrus zing!

Ginger Crinkle Cookie Ingredients:

3/4 cup Earth Balance, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 Tblsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup molasses
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat Earth Balance with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, fresh ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and ground ginger. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in applesauce and molasses. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Put the extra 1/2 cup of sugar in a small bowl, and roll your dough balls in the sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until edges are set and tops are crackled. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute, then transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely. Makes 48 cookies.

When cookies are cool, fill a pastry bag fitted with a very small round tip with Lemon Icing. Pipe icing onto cookies in a zig zag pattern. Or, thin icing with additional lemon juice to make icing of drizzling consistency; use fork tines to drizzle icing over cookies.

Lemon Icing Ingredients:

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1-3 Tblsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Add more lemon juice as necessary to make icing of piping consistency.

What’s Black & White & Striped All Over?

I’m done with my finals! And all of my student teaching. It was incredibly sad yesterday to say goodbye to all my five-year old students. I was choking back tears all day as they made me the most lovely and thoughtful gifts, and gave me hugs and asked why I have to leave them – Next semester I’ll be student teaching in a third grade class at a different school, which they don’t understand. One child said to me “But we have third grade here!” and another sweet girl told me with a completely straight face that I must be so smart because they’re sending me to third grade straight after Kindergarten. That was pretty classic and sort of made my heart melt.

I was sad to leave my students, but I’m excited about having a little time off right now! I’m going to spend it mostly outside, taking hikes and bike rides, going to yoga, sleeping, having fun with friends, and of course baking. And, of course, updating my blog! Now I will have time to post recipes for all the cookies I’ve been baking!

These cookies take some preparation time, so be aware of what you’re getting into when you begin! It’s not much labor but a lot of freezing/hardening time in between each step. They are worth the effort though, because they look very fancy, and are incredibly tasty. I’ve seen variations of them in many holiday cookie books. In fact, my mother likes to make a checkerboard version that is ultimately exactly the same, just a different way to roll and slice the cookies. The Almond Dough is easy to adapt to your favorite flavor; you can take out the almond extract and add extra vanilla instead to have a very traditional cookie. One of my mother’s popular choices was to add orange rind into the dough to make a chocolate-orange combo, and I’m sure adding mint extract would be delightful. No matter what flavors you use, or shapes you create, these are perfect gift-giving cookies, since they are easy to stack and wrap, and they keep pretty well when in a covered container or wrapped tightly in plastic.

Almond Dough Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer, blended with 2 Tblsp. warm water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 Tblsp. ice water

Chocolate Dough Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4  cup Earth Balance, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer, blended with 2 Tblsp. warm water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tblsp. ice water

To prepare the Almond Dough, lightly spoon 1 1/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup Earth Balance, and blended Egg Replacer in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts. Gradually add flour to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons ice water over surface of dough; beat just until moist. (Dough will be slightly crumbly.) Press dough into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover and chill 1 hour or until firm.

To prepare the Chocolate Dough, lightly spoon 1 cup flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 3/4 cup flour and cocoa, stirring well with a whisk. Place 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup Earth Balance, and Egg Replacer in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Gradually add cocoa mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons ice water over surface of dough; beat just until moist. Press dough into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover and chill 1 hour or until firm.

Prepare a piece of parchment paper over your rolling surface. Unwrap and place chilled Almond Dough on the paper. Cover dough with and additional sheet of parchment paper. Roll dough, still covered, into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Place dough in freezer 5 minutes or until plastic wrap can easily be removed. Remove top sheets of parchment paper.

Prepare another piece of parchment paper over your rolling surface. Unwrap and place chilled Chocolate Dough on the paper. Cover dough with an additional sheet of parchment. Roll dough, still covered, into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Place dough in freezer 5 minutes or until paper can easily be removed. Remove top sheets of parchment paper.

Place Almond Dough on top of Chocolate Dough, paper side up. Remove paper from Almond Dough; turn dough over onto a lightly floured surface. Remove plastic wrap from Chocolate Dough. (***To make Spirals, see directions below. If you want to make Stripes, continue reading here***). Cut dough stack in half crosswise to form 2 (8 x 6-inch) rectangles. Stack one rectangle on top of the other, alternating Almond and Chocolate Doughs; wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze 10 minutes or until firm and plastic wrap can easily be removed.

Cut the dough crosswise into 6 (6 x 1 1/3-inch) strips. Stack 2 strips on top of each other to form a stack, alternating Almond and Chocolate to form a striped pattern; wrap in plastic wrap, pressing gently. Repeat procedure with remaining 4 strips to form 2 stacks (there will be 3 stacks total). Chill 30 minutes or until very firm.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Working with 1 stack at a time, unwrap dough. Carefully slice each stack into 12 slices. Place dough slices 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375° for 12 minutes. Cool on pans for 5 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

***If you want to make Spirals:
Roll your double-layer of dough in a tight spiral shape, starting from the long (12-inch) side. When you have rolled your dough, press down lightly on the edge so that it sticks. Cut your log in half, and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Chill in the freezer for 20 minutes or until very firm. Preheat oven to 375° and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice your logs in 1/4-inch slices, and place each slice 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Cool on pans for 5 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Photos, Original Recipes & Text ©cookiesandcandids 2008-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. If you repost any material from this blog, please give credit by including a link back to me. Thank you!