baking

chocolate whats-its, cranberry whatnots and lemon thinglings

Well, there’s no snow here but there’s a Christmas tree – and where there’s a Christmas tree, there must be Christmas cookies. I think it’s one of the laws of physics (maybe number 25?)

In the middle are luxurious Argentinean alfajores, or hockey pucks as Pat calls them. The crumbly cookies sandwich golden dulce de leche and then are dipped in chocolate ganache like these. You can also cover them in coconut and marvel at your fine fancy hockey pucks.

On the left are incredibly easy but richly rewarding cranberry shortbread which are buttery and punchy with bits of tart cranberry. These are convenient to make the dough ahead of time and slice and bake as you need them. And they look festive, too.

Lastly, these lemon almond cookies are fantastic and highly addictive little bites of bright lemon, which are especially refreshing if you’re over all the pumpkin spice blah-de-blah and cinnamon whatevers and peppermint who-cares. No judgement, just consider de-Grinching yourself instantly with a tin of these cookies (and if you feel like it, even share them.)

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baking

cookies take the cake

The postings have been slim because the eating’s been slim recently, unless photos of Greek yogurt and protein bars day after day after day intrigue you.   Then a breakthrough moment, when having lost a harmless bet to B meant I owed him something delicious, fresh-baked and definitely not part of the boring routine.  Knowing that B is quite the carrot cake aficionado, I remembered that I had this great bon appétit recipe forwarded to me by Anna for carrot cake cookies.  How brilliant is that? Bite-sized cookies with the crisp-chew of oatmeal cookies, but with the golden sweetness of carrot cake.  I looked the recipe over and it is really simple, and carrots are totally healthy right? I wouldn’t even feel guilty if I succumbed to temptation and tried one or two…or more.  The only tweak I made was using a basic cream cheese buttercream rather than the recipe’s frosting, which has lemon juice and cream. I didn’t want to worry about the frosting making the cookies soggy or spoiling, and a whipping together a stick of butter, a cup of powdered sugar, an 8 ounce package of cream cheese and a teaspoon of vanilla is super easy.  After the cookies were made and stacked up in little orange piles all over my kitchen, I couldn’t imaging storing them would be easy with frosting just the domed tops.  So, I decided to  stick ’em together and made sandwich cookies for easy packaging to deliver to my debtor.  The funnest part was sorting through the cookies and matching up cookie bottoms to make sandwiches. As in life, no matter what size or bizarre shape they turned out to be, each cookie had a perfect mirror image to fit them.

baking

epic fail-proof

Ok,  sometimes you just need some cookies around the house.  Something to dunk, something to nibble on, something to grab in-between on-the-go just-because.   Plus, baking them makes the kitchen smell wonderful.  This is my go-to recipe for anytime cookies because I always have these stock ingredients in the pantry, the recipe is easily halved, and it takes about 5 minutes to make except for the grueling wait for them to bake.  Some people love chocolate chip cookies, but I just find the chewy texture of oatmeal cookies very comforting.  These are not proper oatmeal raisin cookies because they lack any spices but they remind me of a big bowl of perfect oatmeal with golden brown sugar and dotted with butter.  I have no idea where this recipe came to me from, but you can not fail with this recipe – add in your most favorite mix-ins and trust me, they will come out perfect for your next cup of coffee.

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 and 1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoons salt

3 cups quick-cooking oats

2 cups your favorite mix-in  (like 1 cup m&ms and 1 cup your favorite chopped nuts, or 1 cup dark chocolate chunks and 1 cup dried cranberries.  basically, whatever floats your cookie-boat as long as it adds up to 2 cups total)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cream the butter and sugars.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, co,mbine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Blend the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients.  Add the oats and your 2 cups of mix-ins.  Drop by the tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets (you can line them with parchment paper for easy removal).  Bake about 12-14 minutes until a light golden brown.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack (or your mouth).

Makes 4 dozen cookies