Snickerdoodles

March 3, 2015

Snickerdoodles

Margaux says..

It’s really difficult for me to get requests for foods or treats out of my husband, except for when it comes to cookies. He loves cookies. If I baked cookies once a week, he would be a happy man. And his taste is simple: chocolate chip is his favorite, and any other simple cookie like unfrosted sugar cookies, chocolate cookies, oatmeal cookies, and snickerdoodles.

Snickerdoodles remind me of my childhood…both my aunt and my grandma made them on a regular basis. The flavor is like cinnamon toast, all buttery and cinnamony, a perfect treat on a dreary winter day.

Snickerdoodle dough

I love the texture of snickerdoodles…chewy in the center, slightly crispy on the edges. This recipe gives you that perfect texture. I’ve tried tons of different recipes for them, and sometimes they turn out a little too cakey, and sometimes a little too crispy. The Martha Stewart recipe is a winner. And they require very few ingredients, which most people have on hand, so they are the perfect spontaneous baking project!

Snickerdoodles

 

Snickerdoodles

adapted from¬†Martha Stewart’s Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Put butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.

Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 tbsp sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into twenty 1 3/4-inch balls; roll in cinnamon sugar. Space 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies - Sweet & Savory Kitchens
Oatmeal, Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cookies - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Oatmeal, coconut and chocolate chip really doesn’t adequately describe these cookies. It’s more like: Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Browned Butter Almond and Craisin Cookies. But that’s too hard to remember. These cookies are jam packed with yummy goodies, and I LOVE cookies with everything but the kitchen sink in them. These are exceptional, and I think it’s the coconut. So, if you’re like me, and love coconut and chocolate together, you should give these a try. My Aunt Cindy emailed me this recipe last spring, and I have made them several times.

Browned Butter

The original recipe didn’t call for browned butter, but after making cookies with browned butter in them, I’m always willing to go the extra mile. It really enhances the flavor! These cookies have so much in them, that I don’t feel bad grabbing one for breakfast even. Protein, fiber, carbs, vitamin C…it has it all. Right? ūüėČ

cookie dough

oatmeal coconut chocolate chip cookies - Sweet & Savory Kitchens
Oatmeal, Coconut and Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 24 large cookies

Ingredients

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups packaged finely shredded unsweetened coconut (see note below)*
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
3/4 cup almonds with skins (4 oz), toasted, cooled, and chopped
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries or raisins

Preheat oven to 375¬įF.

Brown the butter: In a large saucepan (preferably light in color so that you can see when the butter browns so that it doesn’t burn), melt one and a half sticks of the butter on high heat. When it’s just melted, start swirling the pan around on the burner, until you see the butter starting to brown on the bottom of the pan (it will appear as little brown bits on the bottom). Remove from the heat, and put the remaining half stick of butter in the pan and swirl around until completely melted. Set aside to allow to cool slightly.

Beat together butter and sugars in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium
speed (or beat by hand with a wire whisk). Add eggs and beat until just blended, about 30 seconds. Let sit for one minute, then beat for 30 more seconds. Then beat in vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Add flour and mix at low speed until just blended (or carefully stir in by hand with a wooden spoon). Stir in oats, coconut, chocolate, nuts and dried fruit.

Arrange 1/4-cup mounds of cookie dough about 3 inches apart on large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or greased) (about 8 cookies per sheet). Pat down cookie dough slightly so that it’s about 1/2 inch thick.¬†Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position and rotating pans halfway through baking, until¬†golden, 12 to 15 minutes total (it should still look just slightly underdone in the center).

Cool cookies on sheets 1 minute, then transfer with a spatula to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies in same manner.

Cook’s notes: I have made these without the browned butter step, also, and they are still great. Just use room temperature butter, and beat it on high speed with the sugars until light in color and texture. I have also used pecans instead of almonds, and left out the craisins altogether, although I like the tartness of the craisins paired with the sweetness of the chocolate.

My Aunt Cindy just reminded me that these also can be made subbing half the butter for coconut oil! It gives a more intense coconut flavor. If you still want the browned butter, just brown one stick of butter, and then swirl in the coconut oil once the butter is browned.

*note on coconut: I have used both unsweetened shredded and sweetened (the regular Baker’s shredded coconut found in the baking aisle). The unsweetened is preferable, but in a pinch you can use sweetened. It makes the cookies MUCH more sweet, and I feel like the coconut flavor is lost a little because of that. So maybe decrease the sugar a bit and use only a tablespoon or two of the granulated.

I love these warm, and highly recommend microwaving them for 20 seconds or so before eating them (or just eating them right off the pan!).

Meyer Lemon Bars

February 27, 2013

Sweet and Savory Kitchens Meyer Lemon Bars

Margaux says…

I am always looking for recipes using egg yolks or egg whites, to use up whichever I have sitting in my fridge, begging to be made into something. Like I need another sweet sitting on my counter…this time of year it’s birthday after birthday in my family, so I’m on a cake baking spree from the beginning of January until late February. But, no matter, these lemon bars were a nice break for us in our parade of cakes. I love Meyer lemon season, and try to make things with them as often as possible, including savory things with preserved lemons in them like this and this. Oh, and this. ¬†I also usually make a batch of the preserved lemons to have on hand for the year.

Sweet and Savory Kitchens Meyer Lemon Bars

Meyer Lemon Bars

Make sure you keep a close eye on the crust while it’s baking…I would recommend starting to check it at about 22 minutes. ¬†The first time I made these, I just set the timer at 25 minutes and didn’t pay attention and they got rather brown. ¬†Still yummy…but much better when they’re golden! ¬†These can easily be made with regular lemons, and would probably be very good with limes as well.

Shortbread Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more to sprinkle on the finished bars
pinch of salt
8 Tbls unsalted butter, still cool and cut into 8 pieces
Cover a 9-inch square cake pan with two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil or parchment paper, perpendicular to each other. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Put the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and process briefly, about 2 seconds. Add the butter pieces and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared cake pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Set aside.
Meyer Lemon Filling
7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup + 2 Tbls sugar
2/3 cup meyer lemon juice (from about 4-5 medium lemons)
finely grated zest from the lemons
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbls unsalted butter, cut in to 4 pieces
3 Tbls heavy cream
In a medium saucepan whisk together the egg yolks and whole eggs until combined. Add the sugar, meyer lemon juice, zest and salt until well combined, about 30 seconds.
Add the butter pieces and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), about 6 minutes.
Immediately pour the curd through a fine-mesh steel strainer set over a medium bowl. Stir in the heavy cream and then pour the curd into the warm crust.
Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan and transfer to a cutting board to cut into squares. ¬†Use a sifter to sift powdered sugar onto the top. ¬†I’d recommend doing a couple of layers of the powdered sugar, because the bottom layers will just melt into the lemon curd (as you see mine has done in the photo). ¬†I actually prefer them without the powdered sugar at all, but put a small amount of it on there for Jason’s sake. ¬†ūüôā

Margaux says . . . 

I know, I know…here we are posting another &^%#@! Cook’s Illustrated recipe. But I promise, these will be the best chocolate chip cookies you will ever make, so all the extra work that those blasted people at Cook’s make us do is very worth it. They really are for everyone: they’re chewy, soft and crispy all at the same time. Crispy on the edges, chewy and soft in the middle. One of the extra steps is browning the butter, which gives them a nutty, toffee-like flavor (and adds to the chewiness). The whisking and resting for 3 minutes (the other extra step in the recipe) is key to the success of your cookies. ¬†I don’t remember the scientific stuff from the original article in¬†Cook’s, but this process, along with the browned butter, is what makes them so chewy on the inside and crispy on the edges. ¬†It’s tiresome, I know, but just think of it as extra arm exercises for the day! I promise you will never make a Toll House batch again.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Randy made these cookies for Valentine’s Day and they were so fabulous, I suggested to Margaux that we each bake a batch and do a joint post. ¬†She had made them before so she readily agreed! ¬†I must say these are the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever eaten for all the reasons Margaux stated. ¬†I also proposed that we title these cookies “Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ever” :-). These are totally worth the Cook’s Illustrated extra-scientific steps, although when I got to the part where you whisk for 30 seconds and let rest for 3 minutes – TIMES 3! – I thought that a funny video could easily be made about these cookies like the one about CI beef stew that was going around recently. ¬†You might be tempted to use an electric mixer, but these cookies are totally done by hand mixing – another thing that contributes to their delicousness.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from¬†Cook’s Illustrated

Makes 16 large cookies.

14 tablespoons (1-3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, divided use
3/4 cup (5-1/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
1-3/4 cups (8-3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/4 cups (7-1/2 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

To prepare oven, baking sheets: Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper. (AS note: my cookie sheets were on the small side, so I ended up needing 3.) Set aside.

To brown butter: In 10-inch skillet, melt 10 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. (Note: Avoid using nonstick skillet; dark color of nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when butter is sufficiently browned.) Cook, swirling pan constantly, for 1 to 3 minutes or until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma. Transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Stir until completely melted.

To make cookie dough: Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla to melted butter. Whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk. Whisk for 30 seconds or until mixture is smooth and no sugar lumps remain. Let rest for 3 minutes. Whisk for 30 seconds. Let rest and whisk 2 more times or until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny.  (I think this method sets up the leavening of the cookies, as you can see with the bubbles in the pic.)

In medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda. Using rubber spatula, stir flour mixture into sugar mixture for 1 minute or until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Give dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

To shape and bake cookies: Scoop up 3 tablespoons dough. Roll into ball. Place on prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough, placing balls 2 inches apart.

Bake 1 sheet at a time for 10 to 14 minutes or until cookies are golden brown and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft. (Note: Rotate baking sheet halfway through baking.) Transfer baking sheet to wire rack. Cool to room temperature.

Baker’s Notes:

(Margaux): You definitely want to make these the size that the recipe says…I know it seems like really extra-big cookies, but they don’t turn out the same when smaller. ¬†I tried making them smaller once (1 1/2 tbsp) in order to get more cookies out of it, and they turned out flatter and crispy. ¬†When baking, err on the side of under-done. ¬†They still taste great if they get a little over-done, but they’re really great when you take them out when the center looks puffy and slightly raw. ¬†Because you let these cookies cool in the pan, they continue to cook after taking out of the oven. ¬†I found that for my oven and pan combination (I used a regular aluminum cookie sheet) that 12 minutes was just right.

(Aunt Suzy): ¬†Because I like a cookie with not so much chocolate, I used 1 cup of chocolate chips and increased the nuts (pecans) to 1 cup. I agree with Margaux about the amount of cookie dough to use – don’t make them too small, although it’s tempting because these cookies are a lot of work for a small number of end product. ¬†I ended up with 19 cookies, a little more than promised. ¬†Taking a cue from Cook’s Illustrated, I did an experiment of my own. I baked a batch on an insulated cookie sheet – the kind with air in-between¬†2 layers of metal ¬†– and a batch on a regular aluminum cookie sheet. ¬†They came out very different! ¬†The ones on the insulated spread out more and those on the non-insulated sheets were rounder and ¬†a little more well-done. ¬†Perfect timing for my oven was 10 min for non-insulated and 12 min for the insulated. ¬†Both batches taste great, but if you’ve got an insulated cookie sheet, I’d recommend using it. ¬†

Chocolate-Espresso Snowballs

December 27, 2011

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I love the pecan shortbread cookies that go by various names, and when I saw this variation with two of my favorite flavors, I knew I had to make them! ¬†I followed the recipe with a couple of minor adaptations. ¬†Instead of using instant espresso powder, I used Starbucks new Via instant coffee, Vienna Roast. ¬†It was perfect – each little packet is one teaspoon and it is plenty flavorful without dominating. ¬†At first I thought the cookies were a little dry, but the next day they were superb! ¬†I made these and the traditional ones, Grandma’s Butter Balls, on the same day and it’s hard to decide which I like better! ¬†Many taste tests have ensued, with inconclusive results, making me think that more taste tests are required :-). One thing we can say is that both are outstanding with a cup of coffee or tea.

Yield:  2 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on size

2 sticks softened unsalted butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups finely chopped pecans (I use the low-tech nut grinder shown in the Grandma’s Butter Ball post)

Confectioners’ sugar, for coating

Preheat the oven to 325¬į.

In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the flour, cocoa, espresso powder and salt until thoroughly blended. Mix in the pecans – I do this with my hands to make sure they are evenly incorporated.

Working in batches, roll the dough into balls about the size of walnuts and place on 2 cookie sheets – about 2 inches apart. ¬†Bake one batch at a time on the center oven rack for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are dry and the cookies are slightly firm to the touch. ¬†Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack. ¬†Roll in confectioners’ sugar to coat and place on a serving plate. ¬†I recommend rolling in confectioner’s sugar a second time about an hour later to completely coat them.

Spritz Cookies

December 24, 2011

Spritz maker

Margaux says…

A very fond Christmas memory for me is helping my Granny make spritz cookies. She is the one who taught me to bake when I was very young…we baked cookies pretty often, and she let me do a lot of the work. But spritz was my favorite! I loved twisting the top of the spritz-maker, squeezing out dough in cute little shapes. She let me pick the shapes, and most of them turned out being either too fat or too skinny. But the point was that she let ME do it, and I felt so proud! And then we got to decorate them with colored sugars and silver baubles, making them into perfect little Christmas treats.

I actually didn’t much like eating spritz cookies when I was a kid (I was more of a thumbprint cookie lover); I didn’t get a full appreciation for them until I was an adult. ¬†But now they’re one of my favorites…little butter-citrus bites that are the perfect size. ¬†I always make citrus-flavored (because that’s what Granny always made), but you can do all sorts of variations on them, which I will give instructions for below. ¬†I got these recipes out of last year’s Martha Stewart Living December issue…it is very similar to, if not the same as Granny’s.

Lemony Spritz Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt until fully combined, about one minute. Add flour, and beat on low speed until just combined (do not overbeat). If tinting the dough, divide it into separate bowls and mix in the food dyes. Just make sure you’re not overworking the dough so that it doesn’t make tough cookies.

If you want to make vanilla cookies:
Replace citrus zest and juice with 2 tsp pure vanilla extract.

If you want to make chocolate cookies:
Replace 1/3 cup flour with 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, and citrus zest and juice with 2 tsp vanilla extract.

If you want to make spice cookies: (I think I’m going to try this next year-sounds good!)
Add 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground allspice, and 1/3 tsp freshly ground pepper when you add the flour mixture. Replace citrus zest and juice with 2 tsp vanilla.

To bake the cookies:

Knead dough briefly to soften. Fill a cookie press with dough and fit with disk to make shapes (Mirro made a great cookie press, you can find lots of them on Ebay). Squeeze cookies directly onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sanding sugar (optional). Bake at 350 degrees until firm, 12-14 minutes. Let cool completely on cooling rack before glazing (also optional…last year I glazed because I had time, this year I didn’t. I think they’re just as good without glaze. Granny never glazed. ūüôā ).

Vanilla and Citrus Glazes

For citrus glaze:
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp citrus juice
3 tsp finely grated citrus zest
3 tbsp light corn syrup

For vanilla glaze:
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp whole milk
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Dip tops of cookies in glaze, decorate with sanding sugars or small candies while glaze is still wet. Let set on wire rack.

Thumbprint Cookies

December 15, 2011

Margaux says…

One of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes has always been thumbprints. It’s a family tradition on my mom’s side, and these are one of my aunt Gigi’s specialties. My grandma and my aunt Judy always filled them with jam, but aunt Gigi made them seriously sweet and decadent with the buttercream filling-my favorite! Aunt Gigi’s also always look perfect, unlike mine, because no matter how hard I try I can never get them all to look exactly the same. These look especially sad, too, because they are the survivors of my husband’s work Christmas party (I unfortunately wasn’t able to photo before the party).

There are two ingredients in these that I NEVER use in baking: salted butter and margarine. EEK! But, I promise, it’s much better this way. I tried to make them with all butter once, and they fell into flat little pancakes and didn’t have the little thumbprint in the middle at all. And if you don’t use salted butter, you should increase the salt probably, maybe even double it. The saltiness of these cookies are what makes them so good!!

Thumbprint Cookies

makes about 3 dozen cookies-I double this recipe; they’re small cookies

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup margarine, softened (is it already soft? ¬†I guess I don’t know.)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg white, slightly beaten
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I use pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment (easier cleanup!).

Mix butter, margarine, brown sugar, egg yolk and vanilla with mixer until fluffy. In a small bowl, whisk together salt and flour. Add to butter mixture and mix in until just fully incorporated.

Roll 1 tsp dough into balls (I actually use a melon baller, which I think is a little more than a teaspoon). Dip in egg whites, then roll in nuts. Place 1″ apart on cookie sheet. Bake about 5 minutes, then take out of oven and make “thumbprints” (I use the end of a wooden spoon handle to make more perfect divets). Bake another 5 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack and cool completely. You may need to re-“divet” them again when they come out of the oven.

Some helpful tips:
Dealing with the egg whites is messy and sticky. It is highly recommended to first make all your balls and put them in the egg whites. Then roll them in the nuts. I also recommend not dumping all the nuts in a bowl and the rolling the balls in them…just have a little bit of the nuts in a bowl at a time. Otherwise, as you are going, the nuts will get stickier and clumpier from the egg whites. Adding fresh nuts as you go along will alleviate that situation.

Buttercream frosting (for the filling)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla (or 1/4 tsp almond, depending on your preference)
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
4-5 tbsp milk
food dye

Cream butter in stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add vanilla and salt, and beat until fully mixed. Add powdered sugar and mix for about 30 seconds on low, and then another 30 seconds on medium speed. Add 4 tbsp milk and mix on medium-high for about a minute. Add more milk if needed. Divide, if desired, and dye each half a different color. Using a pastry bag fitted with star tip, fill each cookie with frosting. Let sit for a couple hours on rack to allow frosting to set, then set in containers in one layer (I prefer tins because Tupperware is too air tight and will make the cookies go soft, and the frosting will be too gooey. If you use a Tupperware, keep one corner of the lid ajar so that air can get in the container.) After sitting overnight, you should be able to stack up cookies in a container, putting a piece of wax paper or parchment in between each layer. Cookies will keep up to one week.