I’ve been holding onto a little piece of news for a couple of weeks now – about a month ago, I entered a cookie contest for a newspaper in the DFW area. A week went by and I got an email saying my cookies (Toasted Oatmeal with Golden Raisins, Pecans and Coconut) made it onto the Semi-Finals! Woo-Hoo! Honestly, I never expected them to even get that far. The next step was for me to take a plate of my cookies to the newspaper office for more judging. Shortly thereafter, I got another email – onto the Final round! Oh YEAH! This time, professional pastry chefs and bakery owners would make my cookies following the recipe I provided (um, talk about nerve-wracking!). Then, I got a call from super-sweet Stephanie saying I WON! Holy cow, this was a total and utter shock! What an awesome surprise…my humble little oatmeal cookie won a contest; now that will brighten anyone’s day!
This is an awesome opportunity because my cookies are going to be sold at a bakery in Fort Worth for 2 weeks this month! How cool is that?! They can even be shipped nation-wide; and all the proceeds go to charity – really cool! I got to have my picture in the paper and everything (that’s a big deal for ‘lil ‘ol me!) – the photo shoot was so much fun…the photographer had me make all kinds of fun poses/faces! I’m just glad they chose a semi-normal looking picture for the article!
Just for fun, here is the article, which includes the recipe (sorry, it’s no longer online!). Thanks again, Stephanie, all the other Fort Worth Star Telegram employees and pastry chefs who chose my cookie and gave me a really fun treat this holiday season!!
Toasted Oatmeal Cookies with Golden Raisins, Coconut and Pecans
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (one stick) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp.
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 – 1 cup (however much you want, really) shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine oats, coconut and pecans and spread on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until the coconut becomes fragrant, stirring frequently. Let cool. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl. Set aside. In a separate bowl, cream both sugars and butter until light, fluffy and smooth. Add egg, half and half and vanilla and blend until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture, the toasted oat mixture, then the raisins. Drop dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper in rounded spoonfuls (or you can use a cookie scoop) about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 12 -15 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack for cooling.
Here’s something sort of weird about me (one of many): I love M&M’s in my Christmas cookies, but I’m not a big fan of them by themselves. It always kind of baffles me when people say their favorite candy is M&M’s. I mean, there are so many varieties of candies out there…why M&M’s?? To each his own, I guess. Now, when it comes to cookies, however, I love to bake with M&M’s (but only if they’re red and green, of course!). Whether it’s my Monster Cookies, chocolate chip cookies with M&M’s, or these yummy, simple drop cookies, they’re always delicious and they always make me feel a little “jollier” around Christmastime (it’s very important to feel jolly at Christmas! ). When my sister and I were little, we always left Santa M&M cookies on Christmas Eve, so naturally, this kind of cookie just screams Christmas for me.
Speaking of Christmas-y things, what color lights do you prefer on your Christmas tree?? Me, I love the colored lights – they’re much happier and cheery looking. Oddly enough, this year we have a white-lighted tree….just not the same… Anyway, back to business. I went searching for a good ‘ol drop cookie recipe and decided to check the King Arthur Flour site, which is quickly becoming my favorite online resource for baking recipes, and found this recipe. It’s totally simple, straight-forward and really, really tasty. The thing I loved most was that the cookie part wasn’t too buttery and sweet; it was nicely balanced and let the M&M’s be the star. These are just plain ‘ol, simple M&M cookies, but just seeing a plate full of them makes you feel warm and fuzzy…and of course, jolly! If you have kids, these are perfect cookies to make for Santa – they’re easy enough that the kids can help, and they end up looking very Christmas-y and fun! Enjoy!
M&M Christmas Cookies
-King Arthur Flour
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, light or dark, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons milk, optional
2 cups Holiday M&M’s
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment. Beat together the butter, sugars, salt, vanilla, baking soda, and baking powder until well combined. Add the egg, beating until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat again until smooth.
Add the flour, mixing it in completely. Stir in the milk, then carefully stir in the M&M’s.
Drop the cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2″ apart. A cookie scoop works well here.
Bake the cookies for 14 to 16 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown, and a bit darker around the edges.
Remove them from the oven, and cool right on the baking sheets.
You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this time of year to get here! I absolutely love the Holiday season….and more importantly, the baking adventures it brings. I’ve already been baking all kinds of cookies and having tons of fun trying new recipes. Like these Pfeffernüsse – German spice cookies, traditionally made at Christmas.
I first fell in love with these in college while taking a German course. My professor had just gotten back from Germany and brought us a whole array of German Christmas cookies to try. These were among them, and ooooh boy, were they good! Since then, I’ve been searching for the perfect recipe for Pfeffernüsse, so I can make them at home. This recipe is a Martha Stewart, and while it’s close….it’s not exactly what I’m looking for. However, the cookies were delicious (sort of like a molasses cookie) and my co-workers seemed to really enjoy them.
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350º. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place confectioners’ sugar in a brown paper bag (I used a bowl).
In a medium bowl, combine flour, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda. Set aside.
Place butter, brown sugar, and molasses in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture; beat until just combined. Pinch off dough in tablespoon amounts; roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Arrange balls 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. (Dough can be frozen at this point, covered tightly with plastic wrap, up to 1 month).
Bake until cookies are golden and firm to the touch with slight cracking, about 15 minutes. Transfer sheets to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Working in batches, place cookies in paper bag; shake until well coated. Let cool completely on wire rack. Store in airtight container.
And now here’s the part that I’m most excited about: my first giveaway!!! It being cookie season and all (and because they started playing Christmas music on XM radio!), I thought it only fitting to give you a little something to get you started.
I recently saw this book reviewed on The National Cookie Network blog and immediately bought one. Great tips and pictures showing you how to perfectly decorate cookies for any occasion (with an entire section dedicated to Christmas cookies!). Perfect for a cookie decorating idiot like myself. And since it’s so fantastic, I decided to get an extra copy for you!! AND since you can’t make great holiday cookies without some fabulous cookie cutters: this Holiday Linzer Cookie Cut-Out set is yours as well. Woo Hoo!!
All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment on this post answering this little question:
What Holiday cookie are you dying to try this year?
1.) Only one entry per person, please
2.) You have until midnight Friday, Nov. 20. I’ll post the winner on Monday.
Silly title, I know – but chances are, most of you can probably relate to the relationship I have with canned pumpkin. When it’s the end of summer and still sweltering hot outside, I find myself walking down the ‘Baking/Spices’ aisle of the grocery store, just to get a glimpse of the empty spot on the shelf where the Libby’s canned pumpkin would normally be. Just to check and see if they have any yet…we all know it’s not really the calendar that tells us when Fall gets here – it’s the good people of Libby’s who decide when Fall begins. The day I see the cans of pumpkin puree on the shelves of the grocery store is the first day of Fall, as far as I’m concerned. And recently I discovered just how precious my canned pumpkin is to me…as you all know, it’s been near impossible to find it lately. None of my stores had any. What a tragedy. Autumn with no canned pumpkin??! I think not! However, just recently, the pumpkin-shortage nightmare was ended and Libby’s was on the shelves once again. Needless to say, I grabbed as many cans as I could carry! For a week or so now, I’ve been thinking of ways to use my beloved canned pumpkin…pancakes? Cookies? Bread? Possibly, but not just yet. Pumpkin blondies? Yes, please! Blondies filled with pumpkin, spices and full of white chocolate chips…perfect! (*For those of you who aren’t familiar with blondies – they’re just like brownies, but minus the chocolate)
If you’ve got a can or two just sitting around in the back of your pantry, crack one open and re-discover the goodness and joy to be found in baking with canned pumpkin!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (I doubled this)
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cups granulated sugar (or brown sugar)
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup white chocolate chips
½ cup chopped, toasted nuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Stir together and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined. Mix in the pumpkin puree. With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Fold in the white chocolate chips (and nuts, if using) with a rubber spatula.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 35-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting.
To serve, lift the cake from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off foil and using a sharp knife, cut into 24 squares.
When I was little, I used to loooove a certain brand of store-bought cookies; they had all kinds of yummy flavors, but my favorite was their molasses cookies. I loved them because they were really chewy and sugary (chewy cookies were a big deal!). Nowadays, I like them for a few other reasons as well – I love the spices and the rich flavor the molasses adds. I haven’t had those cookies in a few years, and actually hadn’t really thought about them in a long time, until I found a great sounding recipe for ginger molasses cookies a few days ago. I stumbled on a fellow musician’s food blog- Gimme Some Oven (how cute is that?!) and found these cookies and knew I had to make them – after a few days of really chilly, crisp Fall weather, these spicy cookies sounded like perfection.
My cookies actually came out looking and tasting almost exactly like the ones I used to love so much as a kid – I was really pleased with how they turned out. Perfectly chewy and soft, with lots of warm spices. These were great and hubby and I have really enjoyed gobbling them up!
Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies
-Gimme Some Oven
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt. Set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until combined. Add in the eggs and molasses, and beat until combined. Then slowly add in the dry ingredient mixture until combined.
Roll the dough into small balls (about 1″ in diameter). Fill a small bowl with sugar, and roll each ball in the sugar until it is completely coated. Place on cookie sheet, and bake for about 8-10 minutes. Once they are done, remove from the oven and let cool for a minute or two. Then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Back around Father’s Day, I wanted to make cookies for our dads, but I wanted something new and different. I love trying different flavor combinations and coming up with recipes that turn into new favorites. This idea came to me when I was lying in bed one night and couldn’t sleep – I started thinking about cookies and somehow apricots, white chocolate and coconut kept popping up. I knew both of our dads (and my mom, too) love white chocolate and coconut, and I thought chewy, dried apricots would be a nice compliment – so the next day, I got in my kitchen and these cookies were born!
I thought I was pretty lucky for my first time out – these really turned out exactly how I wanted them to; perfectly chewy and soft, but with lots of texture, a little tanginess from the apricots and lots of sweetness from the white chocolate chips. Both of our parents loved them (as well as my dog, who, while we were in the next room, decided to jump up on my dining room table and scarf down as many of these as she could before getting caught!)! The only thing I might do differently next time would be a little lemon zest to really bring out the apricots – other than that, I won’t change a thing. I decided to name these “The Amelia”, because, well, that’s me – plus, I really couldn’t think of anything clever. Maybe I’ll just start a whole line of named cookies – from now on, I could give each new cookie I create a person’s name to go with it – just so I can keep them all straight, you know? I love trying out and creating new and exciting cookie recipes – the possibilities are endless and on top of that, it’s so much fun! Plus, I always have plenty of willing guinea pigs – ready to try anything I throw at them!
The Amelia (Apricot, Coconut and White Chocolate Cookies)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened is fine)
6 ounces white chocolate chips
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, almond extract, and vanilla extract and blend. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt and slowly add to the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the coconut, white chocolate and apricots.
Drop by rounded spoonfuls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until cookies are golden brown – about 15 minutes. Makes approximately 30 cookies. Enjoy!!
I know I didn’t come up with a dorky play-on-words title this time – it’s kind of hard to do that with some recipes. I mean, can you think of anything cutesy and catchy for coconut butter thins??? I really can’t…plus, it’s been one heck of a week and to be perfectly honest, I’m tired of thinking. So if it’s alright with you, I’ll just go with the obvious, no-thinking-required post title. Thank you.
This week, Jayne of The Barefoot Kitchen Witch chose Coconut Butter Thins. These are a really thin, crunchy, almost lacy-like cookie with bits of coconut and macadamia nuts and a little lime zest. The recipe also calls for a pinch of Coriander, but I decided to walk on the wild side and try a little curry powder in mine – very odd, yes, but it worked! Mine were also pretty salty (which I LOVED) because I used coarse sea salt- yum! These go into the oven as perfect little shortbread-looking squares, but they spread a little during baking, and come out more flattened and crisp. A nice surprise! You can really taste the lime zest, and surprisingly, you sort of forget that coconut is even in there! I couldn’t even taste it! I think these would be great as a late night snack with a cup of hot tea – they’re so dainty and crisp.
If you would like the recipe, head over to Jayne’s blog . And BE SURE to check my blog out next Tuesday because it’s MY TURN to pick the TWD recipe!!! I’m so stinking excited! Banana Cream Pie chosen by yours truly comin’ your way next week!!! Don’t miss it!
If someone asked me to make a list of my 5 favorite things in the world- my hubby, cheese and a warm plate of chocolate chip cookies would definitely be in the top 3 (not neccesarily always in that order…). My love for chocolate chip cookies is a deep and profound thing; there’s not much in life that get’s me as excited as making a big ‘ol batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies. I can remember when I first discovered that I was a “gooey, chewy and warm center” kind of gal- my sister and I were little girls and our Uncle Dit-Dit (that’s my uncle Steve- we called him Dit-Dit) had just moved into his first house and let us girls come over and check things out. It guess it must’ve been around Christmas, because he gave us each a cute little stocking filled with little toys and things and then he made us a batch of chocolate chip cookies. He said he liked them best with the gooey, slightly undercooked centers…so of course from then on, so did I (Honestly, I can’t believe I remember all this!). Incidentally enough, I also credit Uncle Dit-Dit for teaching me how to dunk my Oreos in milk- I can remember sitting at Nana’s kitchen table with Uncle Dit-Dit, and him showing me my very first Oreo dunk.) So, I guess I have good ‘ol Uncle Dit-Dit to thank for my being a raging cookie-holic.
I’ve tried many a chocolate chip cookie recipe – the BFCCC’s-my current favorite, Joelen’s CCC’s made with vanilla pudding, the classic Nestle Tollhouse recipe, and many others. I’m still wanting to try the famous NY Times’ recipe for “the perfect chocolate chip cookie”- that one has definitely made the rounds in the food blogging world. But lately I’ve tried the Pioneer Woman’s recipe and was really pleased. I love that it calls for coffee granules and milk chocolate chips as well as semi-sweet. I definitely left out the flaxseeds because well…flaxseed just ain’t got no place in chocolate chip cookies, in my opinion. Like I said, these were great – hubby really loved them too, but I’m still on the quest for the absolute best chocolate chip cookie…and getting closer every day!
Pioneer Woman’s Good Ol’ Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 PLUS 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 rounded teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 heaping cup milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons flax seed, slightly crushed with rolling pin
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, stir together butter, margarine, brown sugar, and white sugar until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and stir together.
In a separate bowl, stir together flour, instant coffee, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet ingredients in batches, stirring gently after each addition. Stir in flax seed if desired. (which it definitely was not.)
Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop balls of dough on a cookie sheet and bake 11 to 13 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and eat warm.
I CAME THIS CLOSE TO NOT MAKING THESE!!! What an awesome dessert I would’ve missed out on…when I think about it, it makes me shudder! As you see below, we adopted a dog this weekend, so baking wasn’t really on the top of my “to-do” list. Luckily, at the last minute I decided not to be a pansy and just get in the kitchen and bake! Boy am I glad I did!
I mean, look at these babies! Chock full of butter, chocolate, brown sugar and FAT. I ask you: does it get any better??? Well does it?! I think not, readers….I think not. In fact, these were so good, I didn’t send the leftovers to work with hubby the next day….that’s big.
Now that I’ve got your interest peaked (or have I? Probably not, but I’ll pretend I’m that entertaining…) I’ll tell you what these beauties are! Caramel Crunch Bars, chosen by Whitney of What’s Left On the Table?. A layer of shortbread with espresso crystals, chocolate, and a touch of cinnamon, topped with melted bittersweet chocolate and little toffee bits. Um…yum.
I made the mistake of only making half of a batch of these….and just let me tell you, I came pretty darn close to making a second batch today! I guess restraint is a good thing….. These were super duper easy – 30 minutes to make! Perfect for an afterschool treat (for those of you who have kids) or for a quick dessert. I’m telling you; give these a try! You won’t be sorry! Go check out Whitney’s blog for the recipe and make these this week!!!
Yes, that’s right – today is officially “World Nutella Day” – what a beautiful holiday…although, for some reason hubby and I were not given the day off. Jeez. Some people have no respect for food! And in case you’re thinking, “huh? there are food holidays?” , allow me to take a moment to fill you in on some of the delicious food-related holidays: there’s National Maple Syrup Day, Bologna Day, I believe there’s a whole month set aside for Grilled Cheese, National Ice Cream Day…there’s a ton of ‘em! So anyway, back to Nutella- for those of you who are unfortunate enough to never have had the stuff, Nutella is sort of like the peanut butter of Europe, so to speak. It’s smooth and chocolatey, with a nutty flavor and it’s devine spread on bread, cookies, stuffed into pastries…all kinds of delicious possibilities.
When I was in college, I was lucky enough to go to Germany and Austria with my choir and tour. That’s where I first discovered my love for Nutella. They serve it for breakfast over there – they have all kinds of breads, deli meats and cheeses, jams, fruit…..and Nutella. And that’s where it began – every single morning, I would grab a baguette and tons of little travel size packs of Nutella and that was breakfast. Still one of my favorite snacks. A year or so later, still in college, when I was learning German, my teacher gave me a little tip – “yes, its good on bread, but its even better if you toast the bread first, then butter it and THEN spread the Nutella, that’s what I do!” And that was all she had to say. Four years later and I still eat my Nutella that way.
So anyway, I guess it’s lucky that a couple of weeks ago, when my good buddy Jessica came to visit Joel and me, we decided to make these French Macarons….filled with none other than Nutella!
(That’s her on the left…isn’t she pretty?) By the way, Jess is celebrating World Nutella Day today as well – check out her Palmiers! AND – if you want to see our French Macarons from her perspective, visit her lovely blog – My Baking Heart. Ok, ok, enough of that – onto the Macarons! I had always wanted to make these, after seeing them countless times on some of my favorite food blogs, but I always thought they’d be too hard for the likes of me. So when Jessica came, I thought it might be a fun idea to try them together – and I could surely use the extra expertise! Normally, these call for ground almonds, but all I had was pecans (which is while they’re all bumpy!), so we thought we’d make them “Southern Pecan Macarons”. Genius. You know, there’s a reason us girls have our own blogs. Smarts, my friend, smarts.
These were surprisingly easy to make – the hardest part was walking away and letting them “rest” for 2 hours (I’m an impatient girl), but other than that, we had these babies done in no time! And boy are they tasty- Nutella worked as a perfect filling! Nom, nom, nom!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Macarons, click here to learn all about them and see what they normally look like. And here’s the recipe:
1 cup (100 gr) powdered sugar
½ cup powdered almonds (about 2 ounces , 50 gr, sliced almonds, pulverized)
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tablespoons (65 gr) granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and have a pastry bag with a plain tip ready (or in our case, a ziploc bag with the tip cut out).
Grind together the powdered sugar with the almond powder so there are no lumps; use a blender or food processor since almond meal that you buy isn’t quite fine enough.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape. While whipping, beat in the granulated sugar until very stiff and firm, about 2 minutes.
Carefully fold the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a flexible rubber spatula. When the mixture is just smooth and there are no streaks of egg white, stop folding and scrape the batter into the pastry bag (standing the bag in a tall glass helps if you’re alone).
Pipe the batter on the parchment-lined baking sheets in 1-inch (3 cm) circles (about 1 tablespoon each of batter), evenly spaced one-inch (3 cm) apart. Let sit out on the counter for 1-2 hours until they form a “skin”.
Bake them for 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely then remove from baking sheet. Fill with filling and sandwich cookies together.
Eat and ENJOY! (I’m probably going to hate myself tomorrow for posting that picture….) HAPPY WORLD NUTELLA DAY!!! ~Amy