Category Archives: Cookies

Gingerbread Autumn Leaves (Gluten-Free)

drying-on-black-background-72-dpiWhile the leaves have already finished falling where I live, I couldn’t resist making these gorgeous edible ones. It’s just too soon to start making winter cookies. I refuse to get sucked into that vortex this early in the season.  I wanted to make the cookies gluten free since one of my sons follows a gluten- free diet and I was curious to try out Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Baking Flour. It is a blend of white rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum. You just substitute it cup for cup in your regular recipes.

I was inspired by Elizabeth over at  lizybakes and crouton crackerjacks on youtube.

Roll out dough between two sheets of parchment paper and freeze for about 30 minutes before trying to cut out shapes.rolling-out-doughI got some beautiful copper cutters from coppergiftscom. They have thousands of different shapes. If you are a cookie lover it is easy to spend lots of time (and money!) over at their site. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. cutting-out-leavesI mixed up 4 colours of royal icing for my leaves. The formula to get these colours is in the recipe at the end of this post. I like to place the piping bags in a tall drinking glass. I place a crumpled up dampened paper towel in the bottom of each glass too keep the icing from drying out and getting all crusty, once you cut a hole in the piping bag. autumn-coloursYou can only decorate one cookie at a time as the icing must be wet to create the marbling effect. You will need toothpicks and a paper towel to wipe the toothpick off after dragging it through the wet icing. ready-to-pipeI created a video to show the technique.

The cookies will need to dry overnight before you can package them up. They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks. drying-on-wire-rackPerfect with a glass of milk or an afternoon latte!cookies-and-latte-72-dpi

Click here to print recipe for gluten-free-gingerbread-autumn-leaves.

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Sweet and Salty Magic Bars

on wire rackThese classic bar cookies have been around since the 1850’s! They also go by the moniker of Magic Bars, Hello Dolly Bars, Five Layer and even Seven Layer Bars. Essentially, they all begin with a melted butter and cookie crust, typically crushed graham wafers. This sweet base gets topped with more sweetness, usually chocolate or butterscotch chips, sweetened coconut and some type of nuts. A thick layer of sweetened condensed milk acts as the glue to hold everything together.

Whatever they’re called, they have never really appealed to me because they just seemed too tooth-achingly sweet. But last week I saw this charming video and knew I had to try this twist on these bars. In her new book, “Modern Potluck”, Kristen Donnelly solves the sickly sweet problem by swapping out a cookie base with a potato chip base. What??? Pure genius.

I had high hopes for these “potato chip crusted magic bars”. The combination of sweet and salty is my kryptonite. I went shopping for potato chips, because I rarely keep them in my house. Shockingly, don’t have much will power when it comes to salt. By the way, did you know that they sell unsalted potato chips? Chicken and waffle flavoured potato chips is one thing, but I draw the line at unsalted! I mean, salt is the whole point of potato chips, right?

I whipped up a batch of Kristen’s potato chip crusted magic bars. I was so excited I could barely wait for them to cool.potato chip crusted barsThe first bite was interesting. The crust was not as crispy as I thought it would be. Nor did it taste as salty as I was hoping for. The second bite left an almost rancid aftertaste in my mouth. I had eaten a few potato chips out of the bag as I was making the crust, and they tasted great. I suspect that cooking the potato chips a second time caused some kind of chemical reaction that changed the taste. I was so disappointed. I knew that Kristen’s idea of adding a salty crust was a great idea and I wanted to make these bars work.

And then I remembered these pretzel crusted treats I made last year. Why not trade potato chips for pretzels? Why not indeed? I topped mine with bittersweet chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut chips, salted cashews, almonds and macadamia nuts, and chopped vanilla caramels.cutting caramels

 

Watch the magic happen!

 

These bars have it all. A perfect sweet-salty balance and great textural contrast. Crunch from pretzels, nuts and toasted coconut, gooey sweetness from  sweetened condensed milk,  bittersweet from the chocolate, and chewiness from the caramel. A perfect treat. baked up close

one barOh, and I figured out why they’re called magic bars. Set them out with some cold milk and watch them magically disappear. They are even more delicious straight from the freezer!

Click here to print recipe for Sweet and Salty Magic Bars.

with milk

Crisp Toffee Pecan Bars

on white platesWhen it comes to social media and tech savviness, I must admit I’m not exactly current. I have a twitter account with about 40 followers, but I’m confused about where I’m supposed to be leading them.  I do post on Instagram, but not very frequently. I check the spelling and punctuation of every text I send, which makes me a very slow texter. My kids usually abandon our text chats within the first few messages and just pick up the phone and call me because I am so frustratingly slow, compared to their lightening fast thumbs.

I try to keep up with all the cool kids and know the meaning of many internet acronyms. One meme that has been picking up steam as usage of social media skyrockets is FOMO. For the uninitiated, FOMO stands for fear of missing out. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.” It’s that little pang of envy you feel when you’re looking at vacation photos, amazing restaurant meals or parties of friends and family that you weren’t invited to.

But it looks like FOMO may be taking a back seat to JOMO – joy of missing out. According to The Huffington Post, “the term is a rebellion against saying yes to everything, and is about giving yourself the space to think and experience things without freaking out about what you ‘should’ be doing instead.”

As a proud introvert, I wholeheartedly embrace JOMO! Let’s hear it for staying home, binge watching Netflix and snacking on Crisp Toffee Pecan Bars.On black slab 2I discovered these cookies on The New York Times Cooking website. The dough is baked in a cast iron pan. Baking in cast iron allows for a degree of deep caramelization that just can’t be achieved on a regular baking sheet. If you don’t already have a cast iron pan, maybe this will convince you to invest in one.

Creator Charlotte Druckman gives you the option of adding  nuts or chocolate to the dough. Inspired by one of my favourite cookies, Skor Bars, I added pecans, chocolate and Skor bits!ingredientsPlace your empty cast iron pan in the oven while you make the dough.making doughGrease the hot pan very carefully with butter. buttering cast iron panPress dough into hot pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup so you don’t burn yourself. pressing dough into panScore dough into wedges and let cookies completely cool in pan before removing.scoring warm barsThe edges will be deeply browned and crispy while the center is still nice and chewy. Pecans and skor bits contribute great crunch and chocolate is always welcome. A glass of milk might just be the best accompaniment to your JOMO experience.with a glass of milk

Click here to print recipe for Crisp Toffee Pecan Bars.

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One bar

Cookie Butter Rugelach

If the title of this post has left you shaking your head, wondering what the heck I am writing about, let me enlighten you.coffee and rugelach 625 sqI wrote about cookie butter last year. It is also known as Speculoos or Biscoff spread. Basically, we are talking about ground up spicy gingerbread cookies, mixed with additional sugar and oil, to create, a somewhat addictive spread, in the vein of peanut butter and Nutella.

Rugelach is a small Jewish pastry, of Eastern European origin. Traditionally they are made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling. The origin of the name comes from the Polish word “Rog” which is the prefix for horn, (croissant shaped pastries kind of look like horns). “El” is used as a diminutive and the “Ach” ending indicates plural. So put together we have horn shaped little pastries –Rugelach.hazelnutsHow this little cookie came to be made in a crescent shape is an interesting story. I have read several versions, but this is my favourite. In the 16th Century, the Jews were living under the rule of the brutal Ottoman Empire. Life was not easy for them. A baker with a warped sense of humour, decided to create little pastries, shaped like the crescent that decorated the Ottoman war flags. With every bite of these delicious little noshes, the Jews imagined that they were “chewing out” their merciless oppressors.

Back in Europe, the dough for rugelach is light, airy and yeast raised. Somehow, when it arrived in North America, it transformed into a dense cream cheese based dough. This is the rugelach I grew up with and love. Rich and flaky, but not too sweet, the best rugelach let the dough be the star and the fillings play a supporting role.

Most often they are filled with jam, cinnamon-sugar, raisins and nuts. Often chocolate is thrown into the mix. Screwing with a 500 year old cookie could be a dangerous thing, but I like to live on the edge, so I played around with the traditional recipe and spread mine with Cookie Butter instead of jam.

The dough is simple to put together. I used the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for the dough, with the addition of some cinnamon and ground ginger to mimic the gingerbread flavour of the cookie butter. The butter and cream cheese must be very cold.dough ingredientsmaking dough 1Only process the dough until it resembles small curd cottage cheese. Don’t let the processor form the dough into a ball, or you will have tough rugelach. pulsed doughdivide dough into 48.5 inch circleI decided to make two varieties. The first, shaped in the traditional crescent, featured Cookie Butter and toasted chopped hazelnuts.spreading cookie butter on circlesprinkling hazelnutscutting into wedgesrolling crescentsbrushing with eggThese got treated to a shower of cinnamon sugar as soon as they came out of the oven. dust with cinnamon sugarFor the second variation I created little roulades. The dough was rolled into a rectangle, filled with cookie butter and chopped chocolate, and rolled and sliced, before baking. 11 x 7 inch rectanglespreading cookie butter on rectanglesprinkling chocolaterolling rouladeslicing roulades

brushing roulades with eggCB and chocolate roulades

Click here to print recipe for Cookie Butter and Hazelnut Rugelach.

3 rugelach

Click here to print recipe for Cookie Butter and Chocolate Rugelach Roulades.

Roulades

Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

xoxoxo 2I love surprises. Well, I should clarify. I like good surprises, like finding out the sex of my babies, at the moment of their birth. Three of the greatest surprises of my life! It makes me sad that people have reveal parties and choose to forgo that moment of awe. A little too much over-sharing for my liking. Ok, social media rant over. Onto more important things.

Happy Valentines Day! We don’t make a big deal out of Valentines Day in our house, but I’d never say no to a little sweet treat. While many people believe the day should be marked with chocolate, I’m much more of a coconut –caramel kind of girl. But sometimes a little bit of chocolate is necessary.cookies on little heart towel 625 sqThese cookies contain a little surprise. Along with the usual chunks of bittersweet chocolate, I mixed a big handful of  Valrhona chocolate pearls into the dough. Little nuggets of crispy rice cereal enrobed in milk chocolate are totally unexpected but very welcome in a chocolate chip cookie. I ordered mine online. Callebaut also makes chocolate pearls. Their salted caramel crispearls  are kind of astonishing (crunchy biscuit bits coated in salted caramel). If you can’t find them, chopped up maltasers or whoppers would make an excellent substitute. My friend Marla would love them!Chocolate pearlsCan we talk about butter for a minute? Specifically, what does “room temperature” butter mean? How long a rest on the counter are we talking about here? When I’m baking, I’ll take the butter from the fridge first, slice it into 1/4 inch pieces. By the time I’ve gathered all the other ingredients, the butter will be perfect for creaming. Ten minutes is really all it takes. You want it to still be cool, but pliable. The whole point of creaming the butter with the sugar is to beat air into the dough. If your butter gets too warm, it won’t hold that air and you will end up with flat cookies.ButterAn ice cream scoop makes for even sized cookies.scooping cookiesA light sprinkling of sea salt on top of each cookie before baking, because that’s how we roll around here. This is salt and serenity after all!sprinkling saltstacked on red cake plate 2

Click here to print recipe for Crunchy Chocolate Chunk Cookies.

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