Chewy Vanilla-Orange-Cranberry-Coconut (With White Chocolate) Cookies.

I know it’s Winesday, and this isn’t a post talking about Winesday or wine. It’s talking about cookies. Maybe cookies are lame compared to wine, but hey, we can’t all be perfect. Sip on a glass of wine while reading this to deal with the disappointment, and enjoy my cookies.

As I said in my last post, I’m trying to venture away from my usual chocolate and peanut butter fixation and try some new things. I found this recipe and decided it’d be a lovely springtime treat. I figured out that the combination of cranberry and orange was utterly delightful when I tried orange craisins a few years ago and then orange cranberry scones shortly thereafter. Who wouldn’t want that bitter citrus sweetness in a cookie? Throw in some toasted coconut and white chocolate chunks, and that’s one heck of a breakfast cookie.

Vanilla Orange Cranberry Coconut with White Chocolate Cookies

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 2 dozen medium cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, or Earth Balance Buttery Stick, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 large orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, or 1 egg’s worth of egg replacer
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
  • 2 cookie sheets, parchment paper

How To Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, and line the cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the flour, craisins, white chocolate, and coconut in a small bowl, and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together using a paddle attachment in a standmixer, or use an electric hand mixer. Add the baking powder, orange zest, and salt, and blend again.
  4. Add the egg to the butter/sugar mixture, and mix until the ingredients are blended. Gradually add the flour mixture, and mix the batter until the flour is blended and the dough is soft. Scrape the sides as needed.
  5. Use an ice cream scoop or large tablespoon to scoop out mounds of dough. Place them 1 1/2″ apart on the prepared cookie sheets, and use a flat-bottomed drinking glass to flatten the mounds so they’re approximately 1/2″ thick. Use granulated sugar or non-stick cooking spray on the bottom of the glass to prevent it from sticking to the dough.
  6. Bake the cookies for 6-7 minutes or until they’re barely set but beginning to turn a golden brown color around the edges. If they’re baked longer than this, they’ll lose the chewy quality. Leave them on the pan to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from KAF.

The last of the peanut buttery chocolatey goodness (for now)

It happens to me every now and then where I just can’t sit still at my desk because all I want to do is disappear into the kitchen with my KitchenAid and a glass of wine. This happened yesterday. I had plans to go for a nice healthy jog and watch hours of Entourage (I’m trying to catch up on the whole series…you know, six months after the series ended), but all of a sudden, I just had to bake. Since creating delicious treats is my favorite thing in the world to do, I always listen to that instinct, even if it means changing around my plans. The exercise, of course, flew out the window first, and I even found it difficult to concentrate on last-minute projects at work because I only wanted to plan what I was going to make.

This is where my dilemma comes in. I’m not even talking about skipping exercise or only half-concentrating on my work; I’m talking about what I gravitate to every single time I make last-minute baking plans: peanut butter and chocolate. I hardly ever get the sudden craving to make something vanilla or fruity or even just plain chocolate, but it’s like a biological need that I have to combine peanut butter and chocolate. Simply put, I freakin love it. But unless my website was called loveandpeanutbutter.com (which I’m thinking maybe it should have been), it gets boring to read about the same flavors in different tasty forms over and over again. So I’ve made a plan to diversify…NO PEANUT BUTTER FOR A MONTH. Well, at least no baking with peanut butter…or at least, no baking with peanut butter and chocolate. This might be harder than I thought…

Anyway, the recipe below is adapted from a Martha Stewart peanut butter chocolate chunk cookie recipe, but I wanted to fun-ify it a little more by replacing regular peanut butter with The Greatest Peanut Butter in the World, Dark Chocolate Dreams.

And I had to add Reese’s Pieces to get some color, some crunch, and some deliciousness in there with the semisweet chocolate.

I chopped pieces of semisweet baking chocolate using a chef’s knife and a cutting board because the baking chocolate tends to have better texture and a richer taste than semisweet chips.

And I had to make these guys bigger than Martha did. Her recipe said it would make 36 cookies…I hardly had the batter for 24. Who likes small cookies?!?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 24 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter or Earth Balance buttery spread, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs or 2 eggs’ worth egg replacer
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz semisweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Reese’s Pieces
  • Baking sheets, parchment paper

How to Do It

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or use nonstick baking sheets.
  • Whisk the flour and baking soda in a small mixing bowl, and set aside.
  • Beat the peanut butter, butter, and sugars in a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer.
  • Add the eggs or egg replacer and vanilla extract, and beat until the dough is soft and moist.
  • Gradually add the flour, and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat until the ingredients are just incorporated.
  • Add the chopped chocolate and Reese’s pieces, and blend with the electric mixer or stand mixer for just 30 seconds. Fold with a rubber spatula to blend the chocolate more throughly.
  • Use an ice cream scoop or tablespoon to measure chunks of the dough evenly, shape them into rounded balls, and place them on the prepared baking sheets. These have very little spread so you can flatten them out with a large spoon or your fingers.
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until the edges are crisp and cracked. Remove from the oven and cool for ten minutes on the baking sheet. Move the cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from MarthaStewart.com.

Bye bye peanut butter chocolatey goodness

The Only Good Thing Produced During the Superbowl

I can’t say my weekend was fabulous. It ended terribly. If you know me, you know that I despise the NY Giants, and I have a love for the New England Patriots that I’ve allowed to blossom and flourish over the past few seasons. Needless to say, I was heartbroken over the outcome of Superbowl XLVI, but at least I was able to enjoy part of the evening-the snacking part. I made these Oreo balls to contribute to the party I was attending because I knew they were easy and delicious. I also managed to shape them like lil footballs so that helps add to their desirable qualities.

At least something delicious came from the Superbowl.

Oreo Balls

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 30-40 cookies, depending on shape

  • 1 package of double stuf Oreos, any flavor (I used peanut butter because they’re delicious)
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 package of melting chocolates, usually found in the produce section
  • Toothpicks
  • Food processor
  • Parchment paper, cookie sheet

How to Do It

  1. Blend the Oreos in a food processor (or a blender with very fine blades if you don’t have access to a food processor) until they’re diminished to coarse crumbs.
  2. Add the cream cheese and blend again. Be sure to scrape down the sides as needed, and use a rubber spatula to incorporate all the crumbs into the cream cheese if necessary.
  3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and begin breaking tablespoon-sized chunks from the mixture. Rolls these into your desired shape.
  4. Melt the chocolate according to package directions.
  5. Dip the bottom two-thirds of each cookie into the dipping chocolate using the a toothpick as a handle. Place the cookies in the refrigerator to solidify before serving.

Tip: The blended ingredients may be too soft to work with initially. Put them in the refrigerater between steps in order to keep them firm. They’ll be easier to work with, and they’ll hold the chocolate dip better.

Extra tip: To make them lil footballs, shape them into a ball, and just slightly squeeze the sides to get the angles. Use a small round tip and a pastry bag to decorate the top.

Lighten it Up! Did you know Oreos come gluten-free? You can make these sinful little delights gluten-free by just switching up the cookie.

Vegan Treats

I’ve found a new favorite cook book. I can’t guarantee everything in it is amazing because it’s still new to me and I’m just starting with the desserts, but every meal I’ve tried in it is awesome. Even my carnivore of a boyfriend has complimented each thing I’ve made from the book, and the recipes are surprisingly hearty while still being healthy. The book is called Eat, Drink & Be Vegan by Dreena Burton, and I’ve just started on the dessert recipes. Some are a little risky I think, but several sound fabulous. I chose this one because I had all of the ingredients at home already, except for tofu…yes, tofu.

It’s an interesting idea-putting tofu in a dessert. I knew beforehand that tofu is a versatile ingredient. It absorbs whatever flavors you cook it with, and it will take on different characteristics and textures based on how you cook it. I’ve never had it in a dessert (that I’m aware of), so it’s been a new experience for me to taste it as a sweet topping. Layer it up with chocolate, vanilla extract, and almond butter, and the heck if I can tell the difference. Well, okay, I can tell the difference, but it tastes better than I thought it would. I can’t say I’d dive into another dessert made with tofu, but perhaps my palette just isn’t used to it. Everything is worth a try at least once, right?

Leslie’s Bad but Good Bars

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 8 bars

For the Base

  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened if you want to be good)
  • 2 Tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup brown rice syrup
  • 3 Tbsp melted Earth Balance Buttery Spread
  • 8″ by 8″ pan
  • Parchment paper

For the Topping

  • 1 cup non-dairy chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup silken extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp almond or peanut butter

How to Do It

  1. Line an 8″ by 8″ square pan with enough parchment paper that it hangs over the sides slightly.
  2. Mix together the base ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until everything is moistened with the rice syrup and butter. Place the mixture into the center of the pan, and spread out evenly using a rubber spatula or your (clean) fingers.
  3. Whip the tofu in a food processor until it’s smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla extract and nut butter, and whip again. Scrape the sides of the bowl if you need to, and whip until the ingredients are blended and creamy.
  4. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. You can set up a small sauce pan of water over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Place the chocolate in a metal mixing bowl, and place the bowl on top of the pan. Continue to move the chocolate around with a wooden spoon until it’s melted. Remove from heat.
  5. Pour the melted chocolate into the food processor with the tofu mixture, and whip until the ingredients are blended. Pour the mixture over the base, and use a rubber spatula to smooth it over the entire area.
  6. Refrigerate for two hours or until firm, and slice into bars to serve.

Recipe from Dreena Burton’s eat, drink & be vegan

Baker’s Tip: If you want to make this recipe non-vegan, use regular butter in place of Earth Balance, semi-sweet chocolate chips in place of non-dairy chocolate chips, and cream cheese in place of tofu. It’ll be slightly unhealthy, but at least it’ll be delicious.

 

Dessert to Serve to Your Naughtiest Friends

I’ve completely ripped off this recipe from another blogger, The Londoner, and now I’ve heard reports of it circulating Pinterest too. This is so easy and so naughty that it deserves its title, Slutty Brownies, and it should only be reserved for the naughtiest of your friends-people who couldn’t care less about calories. I love the idea of layering different desserts, and think it’s so brilliant to see a pie inside of a cake, or a piece of candy inside a cookie, or in this case, to see cookies layered inside other cookies and brownies. I’m getting inspired just thinking of all the possibilities that could come from such an innovative technique so I think I’ll play with that idea a bit from now on, especially if I’m too short on time to do anything fancier. I kind of like how excited people get to see the final product too. I brought some of these treats into work today, and they were gone before lunch. Clearly, no one told my coworkers not to ruin their appetites by eating sweets before a meal. Oh well, who lives by that rule anyway?

Slutty Brownies

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 1 8″ square pan of brownies, portion sizes are up to you

  • 1 box of chocolate chip cookie dough mix
  • 1 box of fudge brownie mix
  • 1 package of double stuf Oreos
  • Ingredients to make the cookie dough/brownie batter-usually one egg, 1/3 cup of canola or vegetable oil, and 2 Tbsp of water per package
  • Square cake pan-either 8″ or 9″
  • Parment paper (optional)

How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven between 350 and 375 degrees F if you have the option. If you don’t, preheat it to 375 degrees F. Cut a piece of parchment paper that’s large enough to cover the bottom fo the pan and still have 1-2″ paper hanging over the sides.
  2. Follow package directions to make the chocolate chip cookie dough, and line the bottom of the pan with the dough.
  3. Create a single layer of double stuf Oreos across the cookie dough. There should be a few left over in the package for you to snack on, but don’t go nuts. It takes almost an entire package to cover the cookie dough if you’re not stingy.
  4. Follow the package directions to make the brownie batter, and pour it over the layer of Oreo cookies. Use a rubber spatula to spread the batter evenly if it doesn’t cooperate.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a fork or wooden tester comes out clean when stuck into the middle of the batter.
  6. Remove from the heat, and let cool in the pan slightly. If you’ve used parchment paper to create handles, you can pull it out of the pan to cut. If you haven’t, you can cut pieces from the pan while it’s still warm. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream to make them really fabulous.

Tip: Be creative with this if you want. I’m going to try additional attempts at this, but there are so many different brownie and cookie batters, that you can’t possibly go wrong.

The Adult Fluffer Nutter

Happy short work-week for most! I enjoyed my long weekend, and somehow I was able to bake, even though I was swept up in The Hunger Games series. Seriously, I haven’t been able to separate myself from my Kindle for the last week. I think I was even reading while baking. Anyway, I found this lovely recipe while searching for a bite-sized dessert recipe for my friend Michelle’s birthday party. It took slightly longer than I’d planned for, but then again, that could have been my Kindle distraction. The steps in the original recipe seem a little overwhelming because it requires a bit of technique (you make your own marshmallow fluff), and because there are several steps to make this one little sandwich. I’ll do my best to break it down and make it seem as easy as (moon) pie.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Moon Pies

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 1 dozen moon pies

For the Dough

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus a little more for rolling out the dough
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Rolling pin
  • 2 cookie sheets
  • Parchment paper

For the Fillings

  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup good quality chunky peanut butter (I used Nature’s Promise Natural Chunky Peanut Butter-it was SO delicious)
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar, plus more for dusting (optional)
  • Small saucepan
  • Stand mixer, or a good quality electric hand mixer

How to Do It

  1. Cream the butter and brown sugar together at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Beat in 1 tsp of the vanilla extract and 1 whole egg.
  2. Gradually add the flour and salt, and beat until a soft dough forms. When the ingredients are just blended, remove the dough from the mixer, and knead with your hands until the dough is uniform and the texture is soft. Divide the dough into two mounds, and wrap each mound in plastic wrap. Flatten each mound slightly until it’s less than an inch thick, and let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line the cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. On a floured work surface, roll each mound of dough until it’s uniform and 1/8″ thick. Use a biscuit cutter or round cookie cutter (or if you have neither, use the lid of the peanut butter jar like I did 😉 ) to make 24 equal circles. Use the scraps of dough to roll out and cut additional circles. Place the circles on the cookie sheets, and place the cookie sheets in the refrigerator for another ten minutes while they firm up.
  5. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned, and rotate the pans 7-8 minutes into baking time.
  6. Remove from the oven, and allow the cookies to cool slightly on the pan before transferring them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely
  7. Cover half the cookies with the melted chocolate by using a spoon and pouring a small amount on each cookie. Use the spoon to spread the chocolate close to, but not touching, the edges of the cookies. Refrigerate the cookies to allow the chocolate to set for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Spread the chunky peanut butter on the other half of the cookies.
  9. Begin whipping the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt at medium-high to high speed until the stiff peaks of a meringue form.
  10. Heat the corn syrup in a small saucepan until boiling, and gradually temper the meringue by slowly pouring the hot corn syrup in a steady stream. Continue to whip for another two minutes, or until the mixture is glossy.
  11. Beat in the remaining vanilla extract and 1 cup of sifted confectioner’s sugar at medium-low speed until the mixture thickens and has the texture of marshmallow fluff. Congratulations, you just made your own fluff :-).
  12.  Let the marshmallow fluff cool completely, and then fill a large plastic        resealable sandwich bag with it. Make a small cut at the corner of the bag, and pipe the cookies covered in peanut butter. Be sure not to get too close to the edges as the marshmallow tends to be messy.
  13. Top the cookies with the chocolate halves, and refrigerate for several minutes to set.
  14. Let the cookies soften for up to two hours, and top with sifted confectioner’s sugar or cocoa powder and cinnamon.

Tip: These get very messy so try to set the layers between each addition. The cookies themselves are more like shortbread than sugar cookie so the addition of confectioner’s sugar or cocoa powder and cinnamon at the end helps sweeten the deal.

Recipe from Delish.com.

Not-for-a-Diet No-Bake Peanut-Butter-Chocolate Squares

Disclaimer: These are loaded with calories. They’re delicious. They’re addictive. I’m not responsible if you stray from your New Year’s resolution to eat them.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me introduce you to an extremely easy dessert that may disappear is less time than it takes to make them. The quality of the ingredients you use is definitely important with this dessert because nothing is baked. A poor quality ingredient won’t be able to hide behind a browned crust or under a creamy frosting. I replaced a few items in the original recipe to enhance the taste, including the use of my favorite creamy peanut butter, Jif Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter. This peanut butter is perfect to use in the recipe because it’s smooth, slightly sweet, and thick. I used cinnamon graham crackers to mix in with the peanut butter because it gives an extra spicy kick to the bars, and it makes them a bit more interesting if they’ve been spiced up.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes approximately 2 dozen squares

  • 1 1/2 cups cinnamon graham cracker squares, or about 1/2 of a box of cinnamon graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 sticks Earth Balance or other margarine, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 cups Hershey’s kisses
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 13″ x 9″ by 2″ cake pan
  • Parchment paper

How to Do It

  1. Lightly grease a 13″ x 9″ pan, and cover the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted Earth Balance or margarine, confectioner’s sugar, and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, and mix until well-combined. It will be a thick mixture and may be difficult to spread with a spoon or spatula. Lay the mixture into the lightly greased pan, and spread with your fingertips instead. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 10 minutes to firm.
  3. While the peanut butter layer is chilling, cook the heavy cream and Hershey’s kisses over low heat until the chocolate is melted and begins to bubble. Spread the melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer, and spread with a rubber spatula or butter knife. Refrigerate for at least one hour.
  4. Slice in squares, and serve.

Who put their finger in my cookie?

Who put their *thumb* in my *thumbprint* cookie that is. Welcome to more holiday baking! And more little cookies that you just can’t stop snacking on because they’re just so small and so itty bitty cute…damn you inevitable holiday weight gain for making me feel guilty for such things!

These cookies are filled with buttery goodness and can be made with different kinds of jams, nuts, and even toasted coconut, which leads to an endless assortment of flavor combinations. My sister and I included these on our list of holiday baking (see Butterballs for more on that) and thought that we would be able to bake them without the jam, freeze them until Christmas time, and add the jam after thawing them (that sounds like such a tasty process when I put it that way, doesn’t it?). However, it turns out that if you bake thumbprints without the jam (I almost typed ham…and that would just be awful…you should never bake thumbprints with ham), the “thumbprints” you create actually rise and leave little space to add the filling. The recipe and procedure I’ll give you below came from a combination of trial, error, and Simplyrecipes.com.

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes 18 tablespoon-sized cookies

  • 1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated and at room temperature (you will only need the whites if you are coating the cookies with chopped nuts or flaked coconut)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of your favorite jam (we used peach-mango jam and raspberry preserves)
  • 1-2 cookie sheets
  • Parchment paper

How to Do It

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the egg yolks and vanilla to the butter and sugar, and whip until blended.
  3. Gradually add the flour and salt, and mix until the ingredients are just blended but not thoroughly mixed in (you should still be able to see flour). Remove the dough from the mixing bowl, and lightly knead it with your hands until the dough is uniform. Wrap it in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees while the dough is resting, and line the cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and break into small pieces to form mounds that are approximately 1″ in diameter, or about a tablespoon-sized ball.
  6. Round the mounds before placing them on the paper, and press your thumb into the center of each mound to make a small well (or “thumbprint”!) for the jam. The cookies will spread slightly when baked so be sure to give them 1 1/2-2″ between each.
  7. Fill the wells with jam (approximately 1/2 tsp for each).
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Remove from the oven, and let the cookies cool slightly in the pan before transferring them to a wire cooling rack.

Tip: Be creative with these! The cookies themselves are buttery and rich, but not very sweet so play with the different kinds of jams/preserves you add to the center. If you want to cover the cookies in chopped nuts, you’ll need to use egg whites and cover before adding the jam. Whip the egg whites slightly with a fork until they’re a little frothy, and dip the rounded balls of dough. Roll them in chopped nuts, and place them on the cookie sheet. Continue with the rest of the procedure for adding the jam and baking.

Butterballs

Happy holiday baking season! As of Sunday, it’s officially less than two weeks until Christmas, which means it’s absolutely time to start baking all the fun things that come with the Christmas season. I may even be a tad late on that one…

Anyway, my sister and I have started a bit of a tradition where we make plans to get together to do some holiday baking, but it often turns into me baking in her kitchen (she has a way better kitchen than mine), her playing with the cats, and us chatting the whole afternoon. The end result is usually 2-3 batches of cookies over a 6-7 hour period…not quite “productive”, but I enjoy the time with her and her feline family anyway. My sister is a nurse and lives an hour away from me so we often have opposite schedules, and it’s difficult to put aside the time to visit. She does annual cookie swaps with some of the girls she works with and other friends so I like to take part in it when I can. She has at least three types of cookies she always does-special secret Hungarian cookies that I may or may not be able to share the recipe for, thumbprints, and butterballs without nuts (she’s allergic).

Butterballs are small cookies traditionally made with finely crushed walnuts, almonds, or pecans and rolled in confectioner’s sugar. The cookie itself is not very sweet so the extra sugar-coating makes them irresistibly comforting. The version below is adapted from a recipe we found on food.com, and our version was made with additional extract and no nuts (other than a hint of almond extract).

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes approximately 6 dozen cookies

  • 1 lb (or 4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but not melted
  • 8 Tbsp (or 1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 4 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar
  • 2-3 cookie ungreased non-stick cookie sheets or cookie sheets lined with parchment paper

How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Cream together the butter and granulated sugar in a stand-mixer or electric hand-mixer until they’re light and fluffy.
  3. Add the extracts, and mix until blended.
  4. Gradually add the flour, and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Be careful not to over-mix the dough as it will become flaky quickly. At this point, stop mixing, and kneed the dough with your hands until it’s soft and uniform.
  5. Break off small pieces, and roll them into balls that are approximately the size of a quarter. You can place them close together on an ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheet because they spread very little when baking. I fit 30 on a standard-sized Wilton cookie sheet.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the edges have just browned. Remove from the oven, and immediately move to a wire cooling rack.
  7. While the cookies are still warm, but not hot, roll them in powdered sugar.

Enjoy! Expect more holiday goodies from now until Christmas 🙂

 

Almond Macaroons

I’m often too busy during the weekdays to get time to bake anything fun. I usually settle for mousse or some other easy stovetop dessert during the week and save the fun stuff for the weekends (as if I have time then either). I came up with the idea of macaroons because I have a dairy-challenged friend who often has to stay away from my desserts. These fit into our French-themed book club meeting (more on that on the next Winesday post), and they were insanely easy. Not that all macaroons are quick and easy, but these fancy little almond ones are. They’re also gluten-free and dairy-free so now we can all enjoy them. Unless you’re allergic to almonds. Sorry.

Forgive me for the simplicity, but this is my first attempt at macaroons. After I made these and photographed them (amateur attempt!), I found macaroons on another blog that blow mine out of the water. Ordinarily, I may want to hide my head in shame and never want to try them again, but I’m a classy broad. And classy broads don’t do that. So I will try again and change them up just a bit. For now, check out the recipe for almond macaroons below that I adapted from the book Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen.

Stuff You’ll Need

Makes two dozen macaroons

  • 8 Tbsp almond paste
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Parchment paper
  • Small scoop or pastry bag with a small round tip

How to Do It

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Blend the almond paste with a little of the egg white to soften it initially, and then incorporate the granulated sugar and the rest of the egg whites into the bowl. Using your hands or an electric hand mixer, blend the ingredients together until fully mixed.
  3. Place the mixture in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, and pipe half-dollar-sized drops onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If the mixture is too stiff to use the pastry bag, you can use a small ice cream scoop, or add a little extra egg white to soften it.
  4. Bake for 8-11 minutes (depending on the size of your drops) until the cookies begin to turn golden around the edges. Remove from the oven, and cool completely before removing them from the parchment.

Tip: Before lining your cookie sheet, use a pastry brush to paint a thin layer of water on the back of the parchment paper. Stick the wet side to the cookie sheet, and it will prevent your macaroons from sticking to the paper.

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