Saturday, February 18, 2012

Week Five, and I Owe You Two...

I got it into my head that I'd make some oatmeal cookies, but wasn't in the mood for the old standard. While looking in one of my "SRJC Culinary" books I found something called "ANZAC Cookies". Couldn't figure why they were called "cookies" since if they were ANZAC, they'd have been "Biscuits"... unless they were called cookies out of deference to the Yanks in Australia and New Zeland during the WWII. The cookies sounded pretty good, though, so I thought I'd try them.

Easy to put together, with pantry-available ingredients, they came out more Tuille than Cookie. Too bad I didn't have some Ice Cream or some Mousse... these crispy bites would have been a perfect foil to the cool creaminess. I should have anticipated the delicate, crisp sweetness of these special cookies because they contain 8oz. of Melted Butter. Melting the butter causes the cookies to spread out during baking, and the cup of packed Brown Sugar ensures they will bake up crispy. There is only a cup of AP Flour, one of Dried Coconut, and one of Slivered Almonds. A teaspoon of Baking Soda disolved in two Tablespoons of Boiling Water rounds out the ingredient list.

I think the cookies benefitted from the addition Sparkle Sugar to dress them up... and add a nice crunch. Purely your choice, of course.

I'm still trying to re-create a cookie I had at The Tower of London. There were oats, coconut, dried fruit and minced nuts in a shortbread-ish base. Care to join me on my quest? And, yes... I will get to the two weeks of cookies I owe you. Very soon. Maybe this weekend.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Actually Not MIA... Just Late Again

Week 4: Ginger-Orange Cookies.

I baked this variety two weeks ago, but didn't post about them... and still have to go find the receipe I modified so I can post it for you. Soon, Grasshopper, soon. These are really easy, few ingredient, freezable and very tasty cookies! I like the sort of cookies you can keep in the fridge or freezer for the times you really, really want cookies, but are short of time. (This is me, usually. How did I ever have time to hold down a job? There is just too much to do now that I'm retired... I don't have the TIME to work!!! LOL)

These fine textured cookies are not really sweet, and need to be dipped in regular Granulated Sugar or Sanding Sugar before baking. I baked one sheet before deciding to sugar the tops, and there is a difference. The Sugar compliments the Orange Zest and Candied/Crystalized Ginger, dressing the cookies up a bit.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week Three - Chunky Peanut Butter Cookies

First, I've got to say I'm not fond of Peanut Butter Cookies. I may have eaten a few more than I should have at some time in my misspent childhood... and I just don't eat them any more. Other folks like them, however, so here is a sort-of-variation of Peanut Butter Cookies.

1 Cup Chunky Peanut Butter
4 oz. melted Butter
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1 Large Egg
1Tablespoon Vanilla
1 2/3 Cups AP Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Washed Raw Sugar for sprinkling on tops


Wait to preheat oven to 350 until you take the dough out of the refrigerator.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a medium-sized mixing bowl) combine the Melted Butter, both the Brown and White Sugars, Peanut Butter, Egg, and Vanilla. Mix on Medium speed until combined. Sift the dry ingredients onto a piece of waxed paper or parchment, then add them to the mixer (always add dry ingredients a little at a time, on low speed) increasing speed to medium and mixing until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. Dough will stick together in a solid mass. Pour the dough out onto the waxed paper and fold the paper to completely cover the ball and place it in the refrigerator for about two hours, until firm.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and place parchment on two half-sheet pans. Now is the time to pre heatthe oven to 350...

Flour your hands then pinch the dough off and roll into 1" balls between your hands. Place the balls about 2" apart on the cookie sheet. When ou have filled the sheet, press the tops of the cookies with the tines of a fork to make the traditional lines in the tops of the Peanut Butter Cookies. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with raw sugar to add crunch, and bake for about 12 minutes, or until goldy-brown. Remove cookes to a rack to cool.

Enjoy with a cold glass of milk !

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Week Two... Cookie Press

My cookie press skills leave something to be desired! Gotta do something about that, don't I?

I found my Mom's cookie press in a box of old kitchen tools. It is all aluminum, and was made sometime in the 1950s. I can't ever remember her using it. Since I hadn't used a cookie press before and making press "Tea Cookies" was the aim of this week's baking, I used one of the recipes included in the instruction booklet enclosed in the box with the press. I was amazed at all the tips and plates to make really fancy cookies. They were so Mom! "Bridge, anyone?"

I did not like the dough at all! Very sticky (it was supposed to be soft, but this stuff was "sticky"! I couldn't get it to stick to the cookie sheet, no matter how I tried). I use parchment when I'm baking, but the directions said to form the cookies onto an ungreased sheet and bake. When you removed the baking sheet from the oven, the cookies were supposed to be removed while still hot/warm. Not a good idea to omit the parchment... the cookies didn't stick badly, but they deformed when I slipped the cookie spat under them when I was moving them to the cooling rack. I added more Vanilla and Cinnamon to give these puppies some flavor, they were so blah. ..just nothing-tasting. Lemon would be a good choice, too... maybe I'll try changing the flavor next time. That and finding or making up a different recipe!

I got pretty frustrated with the cookie press, and made small drop cookies out of the dough so I could be done, too. (yeah, yeah...) Sprinkled some Demara Sugar on the tops of the small cookies for color and crunch. They weren't bad, just not spectacular. After I've had a chance to develop a "Tea Cookie" recipe that I can use in a cookie press, I'll post it. We'll have to wait a bit for that, I'm not in the mood..


Friday, January 6, 2012

Week One...Coconut-Marzipan Macaroons!

I'm in Palm Desert, taking care of my Dad while my brother (the 'regular' caregiver) is on a very short vacation. Since I didn't bring any recipes with me, I decided to make up an easy Macaroon to share with you all... my Dad loves Macaroons! I didn't bring my camera, so I took a photo with my phone. Sadly, it isn't a Smart Phone, so I can't post directly from there. I've asked Larry to send the photo from his smart phone to my email, and I'll try to post it from there as soon as it arrives. What a lot of convolutions to look at some cookies!

The ingredient list is short and the prep time minimal, so get into the kitchen and whip these up! (You'll understand later why this is such a bad pun. Think eggs.)

Coconut-Marzipan Macaroons

Difficulty Rating = Easy

Tools Required = Med-small bowl, Whisk, Stand Mixer (OR Large Bowl and Wooden Spoon), Scale (or measuring cup if you want to convert measurement), Half-Sheet Pan, Parchment, Cooling Rack

Prep Time = 15 min.

Bake Time = 20 min. depending on “chewiness” desired. Bake longer for more crunch.

Ingredient list

7 oz. Marzipan paste – one roll if you are using the pre-made kind.

8 oz. Sugar

6 oz. AP Flour

5 oz. Unsweetened Coconut

3 Egg Whites – beaten to ‘frothy’

1 Whole Egg


Pre-heat oven to 375, move rack to center. Cover a half Sheet pan with parchment. Crumble Marzipan into bowl of stand mixer and add the Sugar and Whole egg. Mix (on 2-3) to smooth batter consistency. In a smallish bowl, whisk Egg Whites to Frothy and set aside. Slowly add Flour to stand mixer bowl. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the Coconut. Fold in the frothy Egg Whites last so you don't lose all the air.

Place large, rounded spoonfuls – use a scoop for consistent size – on cookie sheet. Bake until goldy-brown on the points and the bottom, and very light in the crevasses. About 20 min, depending on oven and your tastes.

Cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container, or freeze up to six months. (Mine never last that long, though!)

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year, New Start

Welcome to 2012, everyone! After a two year hiatus, I'm back in the kitchen... still without my Culinary School Certificate, but validated or not I'm ready to cook and share what I've made.

This year's cooking focus, should I prove up to it, will be to bake a different sort of cookie each week. Yes, that is 52 different varieties of cookies... and I have no idea what I will do with all of those little morsels of goodness.

I'll bake each Thursday and post each Friday. The posts will have photos of the current batch of cookies, how-to-make-them information, and a review from my "Panel of Test-Eaters". Maybe after the year is up, I'll put them into some sort of hard copy collection for my family. Or not.

The cookie project still needs a name, but it will start on Thursday, January 5th with Almond Macaroons. I'm starting off with these because I will be in Palm Desert taking care of my Dad and giving Larry some well deserved vacation time.

Friday, October 9, 2009

More Cake

As I was leaving to take Nora's Birthday cake to her on last Friday, Contractor Jim (who is becoming a friend as well as buiding our wonderful new shop) said "So where is my cake?"

I decided to surprise him and make him a chocolate cake this week. It takes me a long time to do a cake, but I do a really good job - Henry calls them my "ten dollar cakes". When I was a bit miffed at that description, he explained that he didn't mean $10 for the whole cake, but $10 per SLICE... like a really good 'White Tablecloth Restaurant' desert! I was mollified. This is the cake I made for Jim's family: a very dense chocolate cake with a raspberry/moscarpone and whipped cream/Chambord filling and a chocolate French Buttercream frosting. Nice.

Since I had a bit of cake batter left over, and a 6" cake pan takes about half as much as an 8" pan, I made a small cake for Henry to have for his dessert - so he wouldn't feel left out. The little cake is the same as Jim's, and met with great success (and destruction) last night. Yummy, it was.