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  1. Wednesday, February 5, 2014

    Chocolate Cream Cheese Cut-Out Sandwich Cookies

    chocolate cream cheese cut-out sandwich cookies from @janemaynard

    Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, which means it’s time to break out the cookie cutters!

    chocolate cream cheese cut-out sandwich cookies from @janemaynard

    Anna and I decided to make some cute heart sandwich cookies yesterday to deliver to the neighbors. We used my favorite recipe for chocolate cut-out cookies (SOOOO good) and my other favorite recipe for cream cheese frosting, combined into one delicious sandwich of goodness. You can, of course, make these any time of year with different shapes and we do!

    chocolate cream cheese cut-out sandwich cookies from @janemaynard

    chocolate cream cheese cut-out sandwich cookies from @janemaynard

    A quick rundown of how we made the shapes for the sandwiches and why this is a great way to decorate cookies with kids. If you want to make them exactly how I did, you’ll need 3 heart-shaped cookie cutters that are different sizes but the same shape. Using the largest cutter, cut an even number of cookies. In half of those cookies make holes with the next smaller cookie cutter. Plan it so you end up with an even number of the middle-sized cookies, too. Then take the smallest cookie cutter and cut out holes in half of the middle-sized cookies. Get what’s happening? In the end you will have two different sizes of peek-a-boo sandwiches and a bunch of tiny, super cute chocolate cookies. You can of course still do this with just two heart cookie cutters, you’ll just have one size of the peek-a-boo sandwich cookies.

    chocolate cream cheese cut-out sandwich cookies from @janemaynard

    I really liked having the two sizes of sandwiches along with the tiny cookies because it looked really cute on the plates for the neighbors.

    chocolate cream cheese cut-out sandwich cookies from @janemaynard

    Once the cookies are all baked and cooled, spread frosting onto the rough side of a cookie with no hole and top with a cookie that does have a hole, then fill the exposed frosting center with pretty sprinkles or colored sugar. This ended up being a really great way to decorate cookies with kids. It’s super easy for them to fill the holes with sprinkles and Anna had such a fun time with it. The other nice thing about making these cookies with Anna was that she was able to spread frosting on the cookies and it didn’t have to be a perfect spreading job because the frosting gets sandwiched inside the cookie and then covered with sprinkles. The project ended up being empowering for her because she could make a sandwich cookie from start to finish without any help and they looked just like mine, well, with maybe a few more sprinkles. 😉

    chocolate cream cheese cut-out sandwich cookies from @janemaynard

    Without further ado, chocolate cream cheese cut-out sandwich cookies!

    Rolled Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies
    • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
    • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
    • ⅛ teaspoon salt
    • ¾ cup butter, softened
    • 1¼ cups white sugar
    • 1 egg
    1. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. In another medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth – this will take several minutes. Beat in the egg and mix well. On low, beat in the sifted ingredients and mix until you can’t see any white flour.
    2. Divide the dough into two and form into round balls. Place each ball on a large pieces of plastic wrap then press the dough out into a dish, about ½”³ thick. Refrigerate for about an hour. You can refrigerate longer than that, but you’ll need to let it soften up a bit before you’ll be able to roll it out. It is important to refrigerate it so that the dough is workable, otherwise it’s too sticky, but the original recipe said to refrigerate for 2 hours and whenever I do that the dough is just too hard to work with.
    3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). On a surface that has been floured pretty heavily, roll out the dough to ⅛ inch thickness. When I do sandwich cookies I go pretty think when rolling it out so that when you bite the cookies later they aren’t too heavy on the cookie. You’ll definitely need to flour the rolling pin and make sure you keep the surface below the dough floured to avoid sticking. Even after refrigeration, the dough is prone to sticking.
    4. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies on cookie sheet – I like to line mine with a Silpat. The original recipe says to place them 1½ inches apart, but the cookies do not spread that much, you can definitely get them closer together, about ½ inch apart.
    5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven (mine are always done at 8 minutes). Cool cookies on a baking sheet for 5 minutes then carefully remove them with a spatula to cool on a wire rack completely.

    chocolate cream cheese cut-out cookies from @janemaynard
    Cream Cheese Frosting
    Prep time
    Total time
    • ¾ cup butter, softened
    • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 3½ – 4 cups powdered sugar
    1. Cream the butter and cream cheese with a hand blender or in a stand mixer until smooth. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth. Add powdered sugar until you get the consistency you want, somewhere around 3½ to 4 cups. (Whenever you add powdered sugar, be sure to start on low and then work the speed up so you don’t blow powdered sugar all over the kitchen. I may or may not have done this many times before. I plead the fifth.)

    chocolate cream cheese cut-out sandwich cookies from @janemaynard

  2. Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    Two Sweet Treats

    In December I had the chance to write a few pieces for the ABC Family 25 Days of Christmas website. And then, once Christmas was over, the posts were gone! Two of the posts had some mighty fine recipes, so I just added them to the Babble website so they can still be accessible.

    polar express hot chocolate from @janemaynard

    The first, hot cocoa as thick and rich as melted chocolate bars. You know, like in The Polar Express. The dreamy, wonderful hot cocoa we all imagined as kids!

    lemon cream cheese sandwich cookies from @janemaynard

    The second is a super simple cookie recipe that is SO GOOD. You definitely want to add this one to your recipe box – Lemon Cream Cheese Cookie Sandwiches!

    Double yum!

  3. Thursday, December 12, 2013

    Chocolate Mint M&M Cookies {and a KitchenAid Stand Mixer Giveaway!}

    This giveaway is now closed, but keep reading because the cookie recipe is FABULOUS. Also, the winner is announced at the end!

    holiday gifts & giveaways on

    Today marks the end of Gifts & Giveaways. I know, I’m sad, too. But we are ending this little shindig with a bang. But before we get to that…

    When I was growing up, my family was a bit obsessed with mint M&Ms. I remember my mom would spot them at the store at the beginning of the holiday season and would snag them as fast as she could. (Fun fact: I grew up on a hill overlooking the town where M&Ms are made and it smelled like chocolate in the early mornings. Also, mint M&Ms are not made in that factory but in a different place because the mint flavor basically takes over anything it touches – I hope you all appreciate those high-maintenance M&Ms!)

    chocolate mint M&M cookies from @janemaynard

    Now that I’m a grown up, whenever I see mint M&Ms at the store my instinct is to start hoarding. My common sense, however, reins my instinct in and keeps me from spending all my money on those little minty treats. Thank goodness for practical, boring common sense. But I do still buy a few bags every year and enjoy them immensely!

    KitchenAid Candy Apple Red Artisan Stand Mixer with Glass Bowl Giveaway from @janemaynard

    I’m going to switch topics completely for a minute but I promise it will all come together. Meet Candy. She’s my new Candy Apple Red KitchenAid® Artisan® Design Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer with Glass Bowl. Her name is kind of a mouthful that’s why we call her Candy for short. I love her because she’s GORGEOUS. Yes, I am that shallow. I mean, that GLASS BOWL. And that SHINY RED PAINT JOB. I could stare at her all day.

    I have a white professional series KitchenAid mixer that Nate gave to me years ago. Old trusty is still around but has been relegated to the shelf in the garage in favor of the younger, hotter model. I told you I was shallow. But I do love how Candy works, too. She’s much quieter and, oh, that glass bowl.

    KitchenAid Candy Apple Red Artisan Stand Mixer with Glass Bowl Giveaway from @janemaynard

    Back to M&Ms (are you experiencing blog whiplash yet?). I really wanted to make chocolate cookies this week with mint M&Ms. Most chocolate cookies fall a little flat and I wanted something that could stand up to the M&Ms, both in shape and flavor. Then my friend Irvin shared his recipe for Chocolate Crackle Cookies last week and I knew it was the cookie recipe I had been looking for all my life. Well, all my week, at least.

    chocolate mint m&m cookies from @janemaynard

    I was right. These chocolate mint M&M cookies are PERFECT. Truly. They have wonderful texture, with a nice crispy outside and a rich, chocolatey interior. The mint from the M&Ms is not overpowering and gives you a fresh pop of flavor. These cookies are perfect for giving as gifts during the holidays, that is if you can stop yourself from eating them all yourself! (Recipe is at the bottom of this post.)

    chocolate mint m&m cookies from @janemaynard

    Wouldn’t you like to make those cookies in a candy apple red artisan stand mixer with a glass bowl? I mean, the way the chocolate mixes with the butter, it just looks so pretty through that glass!


    One of you unbelievably lucky people is going to win a Candy Apple Red KitchenAid® Artisan® Design Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer with Glass Bowl (retail value $399.99), just like mine! WOOHOO!

    Here is how to enter the giveaway (comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Wednesday, 12/18/13. Prize must be shipped to a U.S. address):

    Good luck and happy mixing!

    The randomly-selected winner was comment #168 Itzia – one of her bonus entries got her the prize, but her original comment was, “I love anything with mint. Yum!” Well, Itzia will love these cookies AND her beautiful new mixer! Congrats!

    chocolate mint m&m cookies from @janemaynard

    Chocolate Mint M&M Cookies
    I slightly adapted this recipe from Irvin Lin at Eat the Love. Irvin’s original Chocolate Crackle Cookie Recipe is wonderful, with a great technique for making the powdered sugar coating especially white and pretty. The ingredients for the cookie base are exactly like Irvin’s recipe, but I change up the technique a bit for my M&M purposes.
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
    • ½ cup butter, softened to room temperature
    • 1½ cups lightly packed brown sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
    • ½ cup cocoa powder
    • ¼ cup milk
    • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 9.9-ounce package mint M&Ms
    • Granulate sugar for coating cookies (about ½ cup)
    1. If you are using a block of bittersweet chocolate, roughly chop it. I used Guittard’s bittersweet chocolate chips (63% cacao). Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30 seconds, until chocolate is melted. Set aside.
    2. Cream butter, sugar, baking powder and salt in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat until ingredients are of a paste consistency. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each egg. Beat in the vanilla. Add melted chocolate and beat until just mixed but thoroughly combined.
    3. Sift cocoa powder over dough then beat until mixed. Add milk and beat until mixed. Add the flour and beat until just mixed but fully incorporated.
    4. Stir in M&Ms by hand with a strong spoon. Place a piece of waxed or parchment paper on a large cookie sheet. Form cookie dough balls (with your hands or a scoop – I used my medium-sized scoop, which is about 2 tablespoons). Place cookie dough balls on the prepared cookie sheet and freeze for 1 hour. At this point you can either bake the cookies or store the dough until later (for storing, place the cookie dough balls in a large ziploc bag and store in the fridge or freezer).
    5. Preheat oven to 350ËšF and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Roll cookie dough balls in granulated sugar, coating well. Place on cookie sheet and bake for about 13 minutes, until cookies are just set and are starting to “crackle.” Cool on cookie sheet for about 10 minutes then finish cooling on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.
    6. Makes about 40 cookies.

    Big thank you to KitchenAid for hosting this giveaway! I received a mixer from KitchenAid but all opinions are 100% my own.

  4. Tuesday, May 21, 2013

    Salted Brown Butter Cookies and The Yummy Mummy Kitchen Cookbook

    Last Christmas a friend gave us some Brown Butter Cookie Company cookies.  Nate and I were both smitten at first bite. Nate is not easily smitten by food. If Nate has a hard time resisting a food, then you know it’s good. The cookies were rich and buttery with a hint of saltiness that was just the right amount. The cookies are also a little expensive and hard to get (they sold out online last Christmas!), so I savored every crumb not knowing when the next box would enter my life.

    brown butter cookie company recipe

    Have you seen the blog Yummy Mummy Kitchen? It’s beautiful and Marina, the blogger, is lovely. I connected with her when I was editing Daily Buzz Moms. (I also connected with her when I discovered that she is good friends with the Strong family, whom I’ve written about before. These are good people, folks. Salt of the earth.) Marina recently published her first book, The Yummy Mummy Kitchen. Marina kindly sent me a copy. Before we get back to the cookies, the book is beautiful. The day I got it I curled up in bed and looked through every page of the book. It transports you to her life in Santa Barbara and the recipes are inspiring. Bravo, Marina! Job well done!

    the yummy mummy kitchen book

    So, as I was thumbing through the book, I immediately noticed a picture of some brown cookies that looked a lot like the Brown Butter Cookie Company cookies. Sure enough, Marina’s intro was all about how much she loves those cookies and how she had to figure out how to make them. I couldn’t believe that recipe literally fell into my lap. Oh, happy day!

    I don’t know how many times I’ve made the brown butter cookies since getting the book. We probably shouldn’t keep track. But they are amazing and completely hit the spot. Buttery with a beautiful crumb, you’re going to become just as addicted as I am. My apologies.

    salted brown butter cookies2 web

    Salted Brown Butter Cookies and The Yummy Mummy Kitchen Cookbook
    From The Yummy Mummy Kitchen with a few of my notes
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • ¾ cup unsalted butter (Jane note: I’ve used salted butter every time and the cookies are still wonderful, not too salty)
    • ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1⅓ cup all-purpose flour (*see comment #35 below for detail, but when you measure the flour, scoop the cup in and level with a knife, do not lightly spoon the flour into the cup)
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • Coarse-flake sea salt for sprinkling
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
    2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until it starts to brown. When the butter has browned and is ready, the foam will have subsided and it will have turned a nutty color. Watch closely so as not to burn the butter. (Jane note: Stir regularly throughout the browning process. The butter will start to foam up, back off on the foam a bit, then foam up a lot. Just keep cooking and stirring. After about 10 minutes the foam will start to subside. You’ll still have a bit of foam, but you’ll at least be able to see what color the butter is. It should be browned and you will be able to smell the nuttiness of the butter. At this point remove from the heat.)
    3. Pour the browned butter into a medium bowl and stir in the brown sugar and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder together. With a spoon, stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined and uniform in color.
    4. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheet. Marina’s recipe says it yields 13 cookies. I literally do 1 tablespoon per cookie and end up with 18-20 cookies every time. Sprinkle with sea salt and lightly press it into the top of the cookies. Bake for 12 minutes.

    browned butter

    brown butter cookies |

    To purchase Marina’s book, click here. There are tons more recipes where this came from!

  5. Friday, April 12, 2013

    Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Hey everybody. I’ve been a little MIA this week. Cate has Spring Break so we’ve been partying! The state of my house can attest to this. Anyway, life took priority over cooking and blogging, which is the way it’s supposed to be, right?

    In my never-ending quest to find perfect chocolate chip cookie recipes, I discovered a serious gem of a recipe this week. My blogging friend Alice was claiming to have the best chocolate chip cookie recipe EVER. Of course I had to test out the claim. She might be right. For reals. These cookies are unbelievably good and are the exact texture I love in a cookie. You can find Alice’s original recipe here. When I make the recipe I do make a few tweaks, which I included below. Make these cookies this weekend. (Yes, I’m getting bossy again. Sometime I have to.)

    Alice's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
    This is the only chocolate chip cookie recipe you need.
    • 1 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1½ cups packed brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • ½ teaspoon smallish-mediumish coarse sea salt (Jane notes: I reduced the salt amount a bit, Alice’s amount was really tasty, but I think a little less offers a bit more subtlety, but you still get the salty punch from the larger crystals; Also, when I am out of sea salt I use kosher salt with good results, but the sea salt texture does make them more special)
    • - 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • - 1½ teaspoons baking powder
    • - 2¾ cup all-purpose flour
    • - 2¾ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (Jane note: I increased the amount of chocolate chips)
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Jane note: I decreased the temperature a bit from Alice’s suggestion based on my oven and how the cookies were cooking.)
    2. Cream butter and both sugars for 3-5 minutes at medium to medium-high speed, until very light in color. Scrape down the bowl and add eggs and vanilla. Beat for 2-3 more minutes. Add all dry ingredients (except chocolate) and mix until just mixed. Pour in chocolate chips and mix until evenly distributed.
    3. Form cookie balls about 2 tablespoons in size (I used my medium scoop) and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and tops are starting to brown a bit.
    4. Remove from oven. Jane note: when you take the pan out of the oven, drop it straight down, flat onto the counter to force the cookies to suddenly settle. This makes for good texture and a handsome-looking cookie. Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then slide the parchment paper/Silpat to a non-pourous surface to complete cooling.
    5. Recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.


  6. Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    Crispy Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Okay, so there’s a bakery-cafe called Le Boulanger in my town that has these chocolate chip cookies filled with crisped rice. The cookies are darn good and have a great texture. You may recall last spring I was experimenting with crisped rice in cookies, but I wasn’t very happy with the result. I’m here today to proclaim that I have cracked the crispy code!

    When my sister-in-law was first telling me about the Milk Bar cookies and mentioned that they had cornflakes in them, I started asking all kinds of questions with the crisped rice cookies in mind. Sure enough, the cereal was baked in butter and sugar before being put in the dough. I couldn’t wait to get home and try making the corn flake crunch with crisped rice and trying them in cookies. I had a sneaking suspicion this was just the little trick I needed to get it right.

    I was right – it was just the trick I was looking for! My sister and I agree hands down that the crisped rice in these cookies has great texture, nothing like that first batch I tried. Also, I used my Perfect Cookie recipe instead of the NY Times cookie recipe, which also greatly helped with the outcome.

    The end result? A seriously awesome cookie that pretty much comes out perfectly every time. They’re chewy, they’re crispy, they’re buttery, they’re chocolatey…they’re pretty much heaven.

    You’re welcome.

    Crispy Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookies
    From Jane Maynard, This Week for Dinner
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
    • 1 cup packed brown sugar
    • 6 tablespoons sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 cup flour
    • 2¼ cups oats
    • 1½ cups crispy crunch
    • 1 package (10-12 oz) MINI semi-sweet chocolate chips (the mini chips help with distribution and texture)
    1. Cream butter and sugars at medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and beat at medium-high speed for 5-7 minutes. Beat in vanilla, baking soda, and salt just until mixed. Add flour and mix at low speed until just blended. Stir in oats, crispy crunch and chocolate chips.
    2. Make cookie balls (appx 2 tablespoons in size) and arrange on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Pat cookies down flat-ish, cover with plastic wrap and freeze or refrigerated for at least one hour.
    3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
    4. Bake cookies ~14 minutes, rotating the pan at the 7 minute mark. Cookies should be brown on the edges and starting to brown in the center when you take them out. Let sit on pan a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack”¦or eating! They are good warm but these cookies are also excellent cold, which is saying a lot coming from the fresh-baked-warm-cookie addict that I am.
    5. Freeze or refrigerate remaining dough that doesn’t get cooked.

  7. Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    Whoopie Pies!

    Nate loves whoopie pies. As a New Englander, it’s in his blood. I’ll be honest…the only “real” whoopie pie I had until about a year ago was in Amish country. And it was kind of gooey and not-so-great. Well, I could see other people maybe liking it, but it just wasn’t my thing. But Nate, he’s always talking about how good whoopie pies are, so I felt it was time to embrace the whoopie pie.

    For his birthday last week, I decided to make whoopie pies. He was happy about that and said I had to get his mom’s recipe. I called Pat and her very words were, “This recipe isn’t very good. I think you need to tweak it.” When I told her that Nate gushes about her whoopie pies, she just laughed. I was beginning to think that it really was just the nostalgia talking and that Nate was crazy…

    Holy cow people, these whoopie pies were GOOD. So good that I think I might make another batch. Tonight. Because they’re gone. And I’m sad about that. So is Nate. He keeps asking where they all went.

    New Englander or not, nostalgia or not, these whoopie pies are fab. Enjoy!

    Whoopie Pies!
    Perfect dessert for a party!
    Recipe type: Dessert, Cookies
    • For the cookie part of the whoopie:
    • 1 cup butter, softened at room temp (original recipe calls for shortening, fyi)
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 2 cup sugar
    • 2 cup milk
    • 4 cup flour
    • 1 cup cocoa powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • Cream Filling:
    • ⅓ cup evaporated milk
    • ½ cup butter, softened at room temp
    • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temp
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 6-7 cups or so of powdered sugar
    1. Cream sugar and butter together. Add milk and eggs – mix well. Don’t be scared”¦the batter is going to look all lumpy and weird and you’re going to think you did something wrong. You didn’t.
    2. Add everything else and beat well. See, told you the batter would look normal eventually.
    3. Drop from teaspoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. I used my medium scoop, which was about 2 tablespoons – so my whoopie pies were medium sized. Pat does mini cute tiny little whoopie pies. Choose your own adventure!
    4. I baked mine on a silpat. I also smoothed the dough balls out and pressed them down slightly before baking (with wet fingers to minimize sticking, but make sure you don’t drip water on the dough). I definitely recommend pressing them down a bit so they aren’t totally round after baking, they’ll sit on your serving plate easier.
    5. Bake at 425 degrees for 7-9 minutes, until they are firm to touch and toothpick comes out clean.
    6. So the ORIGINAL cream recipe is a shortening-based filling. I think shortening-based frostings taste nasty, so I evolved the original recipe using butter, cream cheese (to lend creaminess) and powdered sugar. Cream all of the ingredients together in a mixer with about 5 cups of the powdered sugar. Then, keep adding powdered sugar until the frosting is sturdy enough to hold up to being placed between two cookies but still relatively soft”¦I know, super helpful. You just don’t want the filling to be too soft or fluid or it will squeeze out of the sides of the cookie, but you also don’t want super duper crazy stiff filling.
    7. Place frosting in a large ziploc bag with the very tip of the corner trimmed off and pipe frosting onto a whoopie pie cookie, topping with a second cookie. You should have plenty of filling to fill all the whoopie pies.
    8. When making the medium-sized whoopie pies with the 2 tablespoon scoop, this recipe yielded 26 whoopie pies.
    9. (Original cream filling recipe, in case you want to go that route: ⅓ cup evaporated milk, ¾ cup white sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, ⅔ cup crisco, pinch salt – mix, let sit 15 minutes, beat until creamy.)


  8. Wednesday, February 8, 2012

    Salted Caramel Thumbprints

    These salted caramel thumbprint cookies were my favorite cookie find this past holiday season. My friend Elisa made them for her holiday cookie plates (among many other amazing treats) and I immediately fell in love. I don’t know if it was the salt or the fact that the cookies themselves are shortbread, but I got sucked in and stole them right out from under my family when they weren’t looking.

    Elisa originally found the recipe on the lovely food blog A Cozy Kitchen. I decided to give the recipe a go. I even made the caramel from scratch, which I highly recommend. I promise it was easy and it didn’t take much time at all. I just followed Adrianna’s instructions, to great success. Elisa had used store-bought caramel to save some time. Her cookies were still wonderful, but I must admit I preferred the homemade caramel – the texture was softer and easier to chew.

    I am retyping the recipe here so I can throw in a few notes from what I learned. Enjoy!

    Salted Caramel Thumbprints
    From A Cozy Kitchen. Shortbread Cookie recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa. Caramel recipe taken from Salted Caramel Mousse by Trish Desseine.
    • Cookies:
    • 1½ stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
    • ½ cup of granulated sugar
    • ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
    • 1¾ cup of all-purpose flour
    • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
    • Caramel:
    • ½ cup of granulated sugar
    • 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
    • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla (if you have a stand mixer, use paddle attachment). In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat square. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, take out the fridge and cut into 1¼-inch squares.
    3. Jane notes: the dough was super duper crumbly. I really had to work it on the floured board to get it to come together. Also, it was difficult to roll it out into a square, so I pressed and rolled it out into a circle. After removing the dough from the refrigerator, I evenly cut the circle into 16 pie slices, if that makes sense, and form those triangles I rolled the dough into 1¼-inch balls. By doing it this way, I knew that the cookie balls were all the same size and it was just all around easier for me.
    4. Roll the dough into 1¼-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Hold the cookie steady with one hand and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Jane note: again, the dough was pretty crumbly, even when I had them shaped into balls. I had to sort of press each cookie down and shape it into a circle, then press the indentations in. A note on the indentations – I thought the cracked edges would be pretty, but the caramel oozed out of the cracks, so try not to have too many of cracks. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until they’re just a little golden brown on the sides. Jane note: I had to bake them longer than 15 minutes, my oven runs cool. Let cookies cool. While they’re cooling, make the caramel.
    5. Combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. While the sugar and water are going at it, heat up the cream in a saucepan or microwave just until warm.
    6. Take off the heat and add your room temperature butter. Whisk the butter in, being sure it’s totally combined. Add your warmed cream and whisk vigorously. Jane note: HOLY STEAM! Be careful when you add the cream”¦a pretty decent amount of HOT steam shot out of the pot when I poured it in and sort of surprised my face. No damage done, but can’t hurt to warn you!
    7. Spoon a teaspoon of warm caramel into the indentations of your cookies and top with sea salt. You can eat right away or let sit for 2 hours so the caramel sets. Jane note: I sprinkled my coarse sea salt about 5-10 minutes after I filled the cookies with caramel, so that I knew it would stick. The salt sort of disappeared into the caramel, so you couldn’t see it, which was sad because the salt is pretty, but it still tasted divine.
    8. Makes 16 cookies


  9. Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Pumpkin Rocks

    I know, I know. It’s December. Everyone’s moved past pumpkin. Pumpkin is so November. But whatever. I’m not that stylish anyway.

    I haven’t made Pumpkin Rocks in about ten years. I needed to make a treat for Anna’s preschool’s Thanksgiving Feast and thought these would be quick, easy and yummy. I was right. I forgot just how stinkin’ good these cookies are. And both of my girls could not stop eating them. I had to inform my sweet little piggies in no uncertain terms that man (or little girl) cannot live on Pumpkin Rocks alone. They didn’t agree.

    A quick note: despite the name “rock,” these cookies are actually light and cakey. And addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    Pumpkin Rocks
    I got the original recipe from Tassie Earnest, someone I knew in Boston a bazillion years ago”¦I’ve modified it some.
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 2½ cups flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon ginger
    • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1 stick butter, softened (4 ounces)
    • 1 cup sugar
    • ½ cup dark brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin
    • Mini chocolate chips – as many as you like, the more the merrier. Regular chocolate chips are fine, but I like minis for the texture and distribution. I use a 10-ounce bag of mini chocolate chips.
    1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
    2. Cream butter and both sugars together. Add eggs. Add pumpkin. Add dry ingredients. Add mini chocolate chips.
    3. Bake at 375 degrees F for ~18 mins. Makes around 40 cookies if using a 2-tablespoon scoop.
    4. The dough is quite wet”¦it’s best to use a scoop to make the cookie balls. If you use your fingers, they “rocks” will probably be funny shaped (think porcupine), but they will still taste just as delicious!
    5. Also, when I make these, I mix the wet ingredients in my KitchenAid as described above, then I mix in the spices and salt, then I mix in the baking powder and baking soda, then the flour. I’m lazy. I don’t like washing an extra bowl for the dry ingredients. And, honestly, everything comes out just fine!


  10. Friday, September 23, 2011

    Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies…and an ‘Equal Opportunity Cookie’ Call for Recipes

    Sorry I disappeared. No baby. Just Cate and her broken arm. She had surgery on Tuesday and is doing very well…today was her first day back at school, where she was welcomed by applause and many interested friends who were very happy to see her. Between her doctor’s appointments and mine this week, I’m plum worn out! The baby should be coming this weekend, so stay tuned for an announcement!

    All this nuttiness had me craving baked goods. I had seen a recipe for cream cheese chocolate chip cookies on Pinterest recently and decided to give them a whirl last night. When I sat down and read the recipe, I realized it was an adapted recipe by a mom who’s son has an egg allergy. The cream cheese was serving as an egg substitute in the recipe. I can eat eggs, so I was just going to throw an egg in there, but I decided to be courageous and give it a try.

    I dug around the web, found a few similar recipes and ended up going with this recipe from a blog called Art of Dessert. The verdict? The flavor is great, but it took some tweaking to get the texture right. I cooked the first batch right after making the dough. Combine that with not cooking them quite long enough at 325 degrees and they were super flat and sort of gooey. After letting the dough sit in the fridge overnight, things improved greatly. I highly recommend cooking the cookies after the dough has been refrigerated at least overnight. I also cooked them longer and at a higher temperature. The shape and texture came out much better. Once I got it figured out, the cookies were fab! Definitely a great eggless chocolate chip cookie recipe!

    Yes, these two cookies came from the same dough! Left: Unrefrigerated dough, not cooked long enough. Right: Refrigerated dough, cooked at the right time and temperature. 

    In the spirit of ‘Equal Opportunity Cookies’ everywhere, I thought it would be fun to do a special Call for Recipes today. The theme? Cookies for people with special food considerations! Please share your best vegan, gluten-free, eggless and/or allergy-friendly cookie recipes!

    Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies...and an 'Equal Opportunity Cookie' Call for Recipes
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 1 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • ¾ cup brown sugar
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1. Directions (rewritten a bit by Jane):
    2. Preheat oven to 375ºF (Jane note: my batch that came out was cooked at 350 degrees in a convection oven).
    3. Cream together butter and sugars in a mixer – beat until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese and vanilla – mix well. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt then gradually blend dry mixture into butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
    4. Drop heaping tablespoons (Jane note: I used my medium scoop, which is 2 Tablespoons) onto ungreased cookie sheets (Jane note: I cooked mine on my Silpat) about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375ºF for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown (Jane note: I cooked mine at 350 degrees F in a convection oven for about 10 minutes).