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Valentine Heart Cookies

Valentine Heart Cookies

Valentine’s Day is one of those “holidays” that some people love and some people don’t. I have never gotten very excited over Valentine’s Day, but I always appreciated it just a teenie bit. Then I had two little girls and they love all things pink, so my appreciation for Valentine’s Day started to grow more and more each year. This year I have been very excited to try some new sweets and embrace the fun and yummy side of the day. I have always loved the way that sugar cookies look when they are decorated all fancy with royal icing. This past December I used royal icing for the first time and had a blast learning to work with it. I knew right away that I would be making all kinds of fun cookies in the year ahead as there are endless possibilities of fun and creative cookies that you can produce using royal icing. I definitely need to work on my piping skills and I learned a great deal from making this batch of cookies. I found that using a #2 tip when piping makes things so much easier (I wish I would have realized it sooner, like when I was piping the edges, oh well, it worked out). I also loved using the plastic decorating bottles for flooding the cookies, it made things go so much smoother and with little to no mess!

Valentine Heart Cookies

I had a lot of fun piping fun sayings and little hearts onto the pretty pink cookies.

Valentine Heart Cookies

Katelyn even got to help decorate a bunch of little hearts with lots of Valentine sprinkles.

I choose to use Martha Stewart’s sugar cookie recipe and I think they turned out perfect. The flavor is wonderful and they are so soft and delicious, they just melt in your mouth. So if you have been wanting to try decorating with royal icing, Valentine’s Day is a perfect time for cookie experimenting. We had so much fun making these cookies and we can’t wait to share them with all of our Valentines!

Valentine Heart Cookies

Valentine Heart Cookies
Cookies: Printer Friendly Version
Royal Icing: Printer Friendly Version

Sugar Cookies
Makes 2 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions
Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; mix until light and fluffy. With mixer running, add egg, milk, and vanilla; mix until well combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add reserved flour mixture. Mix until just combined.

Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Decorate with Royal Icing (click here for recipe).

Adapted From: Martha Stewart

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Lemon Bars with Oatmeal Crust

I never used to be a big fan of lemon bars, or many citrus desserts for that matter. But like many people, my tastes have sure changed and expanded over the years. Now I find something simple and refreshing about the flavors in a citrus dessert. After seeing the lemon bar recipe a couple of weeks ago from The Enchanted Cook, it reminded me that I had a recipe that I had been wanting to try since last year (I also plan on trying Veronica’s recipe soon also). The thing that I loved about this recipe was the addition of the oatmeal to the crust. The oatmeal adds a wonderful chewy texture to the buttery cookie crust.

I choose not to use the original recipe I had that called for the addition of the oatmeal to the crust because the lemon curd part of the dessert was made with a whole can of sweetened condensed milk. So in an effort to avoid that ingredient I found a different recipe and just added the oatmeal to the crust. So, if you already have a favorite lemon bar recipe, you could simply add oatmeal to the cookie crust and see what you think!

These bars are so tangy and refreshing. They are the perfect treat to give you a little glimpse of springtime.

Lemon Bars with Oatmeal Crust

Lemon Bars with Oatmeal Crust
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Cookie Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oatmeal (not instant)
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Lemon Filling
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 to 4 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Combine first 5 ingredients; beat at medium speed until well blended. Pat mixture into the prepared 9×13 inch baking dish. Bake for 18 minutes or until golden brown.
Combine 2 cups sugar and cornstarch. Add eggs and next 3 ingredients; beat well. Pour mixture over the warm crust.
Return the dish to the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until set. Cool Completely then put in the refrigerator to chill completely. Sift the 2-4 tablespoons of powdered sugar on top before serving.

Adapted From: Southern Living Incredible Cookies plus the addition of oatmeal to the crust

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Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies

It is the time of year when I just can’t get enough gingerbread flavored treats. As I mentioned earlier this week, I absolutely love the flavors in gingerbread treats. I came across this recipe earlier this fall and just could not wait for this time of year to make them. These cookies are out of this world fantastic! They are unbelievably soft and chewy and I love soft and chewy cookies! They are the perfect soft and chewy ginger cookie with the added bonus of chocolate chips. I am already on my second batch of these because they are that good! The second time around I used mini chocolate chips and I think they are a wonderful choice for this cookie as you just get sweet little nibbles of chocolate with each bite of the spicy ginger cookie. Stay tuned as I have one more yummy gingerbread flavored treat coming later this week. Hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season!

Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies
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2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi sweet)
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling dough balls

Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or just spray lightly with cooking spray.
Sift the flour, baking soda, spices and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 2 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.  Add the egg and molasses and mix until blended and an even light color, about 1 minute.  On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate it.  Fold in the chocolate chips.
Spread the granulated sugar into a small bowl.  Roll a heaping tablespoon of dough between the palms of your hands into a ball, toss the ball in sugar to coat and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Continue making cookies, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the tops feel firm but they are still soft in the center and there are several large cracks on top, about 12-14 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
The cookies can be stored in a tightly covered container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Adapted From: Joy the Baker

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 Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies

These cookies not only look beautiful, they taste fantastic! The gingerbread has the perfect spicy taste and the addition of finely ground pepper is fabulous! I absolutely love all types of gingerbread cookies and I can’t wait for this time of year to load up on them. You will see a couple more gingerbread flavored recipes from me this week too. 🙂 This cookie is soft yet firm and is perfect to decorate with royal icing. This was my first time working with royal icing and I had so much fun with it. I can see why so many people are addicted to making cookies with royal icing. There are so many cute things you can do with it. I am very much looking forward to using it again soon.

Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies

Gingerbread Snowflake Party Favors

I used these cookies as party favors at my daughter’s birthday a couple weeks ago. It was a fun way to say thank you to our guests.

Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies
Printer Friendly Version – Cookies
Printer Friendly Version – Royal Icing

6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses
Royal Icing (see recipe below)

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into snowflakes with a 7- inch snowflake-shape cookie cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.
  4. Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
  5. Put icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip (such as Ateco #7). Outline the snowflakes with the thicke royal icing and let dry for one hour. Then use the thinned out icing to flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie.  If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along. If you want to add any sprinles or decorative candies, you must add them now before the icing sets. Let icing set completely at room temperature, about 1 hour. Store cookies between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

Royal Icing

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).  Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container.  This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating.  Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated.  Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping.  (Remember, if you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick.  Add a little more liquid and try again.)  Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie.  Let stand so the icing will set.  Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container.  Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl.  If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again.  Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie.  If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along.  Allow to set.
Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired.  Gel icing color is best as it does not add a significant amount of liquid.  Liquid food coloring can be used as well – add powdered sugar as needed to compensate for any thinning that occurs.

Adapted From: Cookies from: Martha Stewart; Royal Icing from: Annie’s Eats

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 Oatmeal, Cranberry and Pecan Spice Cookies
I am not one for dried fruit or nuts in my cookies, however I could not stop eating these cookies! These cookies are absolutely fantastic!!! They have a wonderful blend of flavors with all the spices, molasses, sweet cranberries and nutty crunchy pecans. They have a gingerbread like flavor (I love gingerbread and molasses cookies!) with the texture of an oatmeal cookie. These are the perfect cookie for the fall holiday season. This recipe is easily adaptable to fit your personal fruit, nut or chocolate preferences. I think these would be great with some walnuts and mini chocolate chips…I just might have to try that combination very soon! So grab a big glass of milk or hot steamy cup of coffee (that is my favorite way to eat them) and enjoy these super delicious cookies!

Oatmeal, Cranberry and Pecan Spice Cookies

Oatmeal, Cranberry and Pecan Spice Cookies
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Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 Tbs. dark molasses
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Directions:
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice; set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and continue beating until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your finger and thumb. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the molasses and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. Beat or stir in the oats, dates and walnuts just until evenly distributed.

Drop the batter by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared pans, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies until the edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle the cookies with coarse sugar while they are still warm. Let the cookies cool on the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then transfer them to the racks and let cool completely. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Adapted from: Williams-Sonoma

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Mummy Cookie Pops

Halloween is almost here and I couldn’t resist making something fun and cute for the Halloween season. These cute little pops are made with your typical Oreo like sandwhich cookie (I used Joe Joes from Trader Joes beacuse I love all things Trader Joe’s!) dipped in white candy melts and decorated. I usually make Halloween cut out sugar cookies with my daughter and let her decorate them with sprinkles, but this year I thought I would try something new.  These were a little hard for Katelyn to help with, but I gave her the task of sorting out the eyes and grouping them by color. Now though the task was easy, it was VERY hard for her to resist eating the whole bowl of mini M&M’s, I mean they are her favorite candy ever! These were a lot of fun to make and making them helped me practice my piping skills (I definitely could use the practice in this arena). I am taking them to our 3rd annual family Halloween party on Saturday and they are sure to be hit! I hope you all have a spooktacular Halloween this year!

 Mummy Cookie Pops
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Ingredients
1 (18 oz.) package Oreo cookies
2 pounds white candy melts
1 cup miniature M&M’s candies
Sucker sticks
Sucker wrappers

Directions
Carefully separate Oreo cookies so you have one side with filling and one without.  Melt 1 pound of white chocolate according to package directions.  Dip the end of a sucker stick into the melted chocolate. Gently press the chocolate coated stick into the center of the Oreo filling.  Carefully put the cookie back together.  Repeat with remaining Oreos.

Dip the cookie sucker into the melted chocolate to coat completely.  Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. While the chocolate is still soft, place two mini M&M’s eyes about 1/3 of the way down from the top of the cookie. Repeat with remaining cookie suckers.  Melt more white chocolate as needed to coat all of the suckers.  Place remaining melted chocolate into a large zip-top plastic bag and snip off a small corner.  Pipe “mummy wrapping” over the suckers in a random pattern.  Allow cookie pops to set completely before wrapping.

Adapted From: Let’s Dish

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 Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

My assignment for one of the nights on our camping trip was to bring dessert and these were the first things to pop into my head. I have seen whoopie pie recipes floating around the internet for a while and have been very intrigued. When I saw this recipe I immediately knew that this was the one that I needed to try first. They are kinda like an inside out cupcake since the cookies are very moist and cake like and the filling is basically a butter cream cheese frosting. The cookies have the perfect blend of spices to compliment the pumpkin and the filling is so sweet and delicious with the pumpkin flavors. These were gobbled up quickly and everyone enjoyed them a lot.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling
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Yield: About 4 dozen assembled whoopie pies (will vary depending on how large you make them)

For the Whoopie Pies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Maple-Cream Cheese Filling:
3 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, the dark brown sugar, and the oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.

Use a small cookie scoop or a large spoon to drop a rounded, heaping tablespoon of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, making sure that the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. The cookies should be firm when touched. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.

To make the filling, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth with no visible lumps, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, then add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.

To assemble the whoopie pies: Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe or spoon the filling (about a tablespoon) onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving.

Adapted From: Brown Eyed Baker

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