Category Archives: Cookies

Butterscotch Toffee Salty Oatmeal Cookies

with cake stand 1The fact that I have made these cookies four times in the past two weeks would lead you to the inescapable conclusion that I have a humungous sweet tooth and a total lack of willpower. And you would be correct! However, each time I made them I tweaked the recipe slightly until I came up with what I believe to be an outstanding cookie. So you could say that it was all in the name of research.

I made them exactly as the original recipe was written. I had seen these cookies on seriouseats.com, and was intrigued. They are essentially an oatmeal cookie but with some butterscotch chips mixed in. I baked the first batch but found them to be a bit too sweet and one-dimensional. So I baked a second batch and added some Skor bits to amplify the toffee flavour. They were good but not perfect. Something was missing. My daughter suggested I add dried cherries to the dough. Jackpot!

I love the way the Skor bits melt and ooze out of the cookie as they bake. There is a tiny bit of crunchy toffee on the edge of each cookie as they cool. The textural contrast between the crispy edges and the chewy center is what keeps you going back bite after bite. Tart dried cherries  temper the sweetness of the butterscotch and toffee. The occasional ping on your tongue, from the Fleur de sel crystals sprinkled on top keep everything in check. These are a perfectly balanced (albeit, not nutritionally balanced) cookie!mise en placeUsing an ice cream scoop to portion the cookies ensures that they will all be the same size and shape and bake evenly. I like the #24 size scoop  (about 1.3 ounces). I was able to get 12 cookies on my baking pans (13 x 18 inches). scooping dough Pour a cold glass of milk and prepare to be enchanted. These are quite addictive.overhead 625 sq 2 Click here to print recipe for Butterscotch Toffee Salty Oatmeal Cookies.pink cookies in circle

Triple Coconut Macaroons

pyramid 2 625 sqThese are my absolute favourite macaroons. That’s macaroon, with 2 o’s – the coconut variety, not the pain-in-the-ass Diva, ground almond and meringue variety, which are macarons, with one o. This recipe for Triple Coconut Macaroons, comes from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. I have been making these since the recipe first came out in 2000. Why I have waited so long to share with you is a mystery to me. I promise you, I’m reallly not a petty person.

Although I could make them any time of year, I always associate coconut macaroons with Passover. As a child we bought our macaroons from Open Window Bakery in Toronto. They made both vanilla and chocolate coconut macaroons. I preferred the simplicity of the vanilla ones. I found the chocolate ones too chocolatey for me. The cocoa powder masked the flavour of the coconut, which is exactly the point of coconut macaroons. I always felt sorry for those families that had to get their macaroon fix from the can. They were gummy and chewy, in short, just awful.
00091_chocolatemacaroons_10coconut macaroons in can
The quintessential coconut macaroon is slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle, without being gluey. They should be sweet, but not cloyingly so, and they should be bursting with shreds of sweetened coconut. A final dip in a melted chocolate bath, to cover the lower third of the macaroon would not be a bad thing.
in polka dot bowl
Cook’s Illustrated’s test kitchen discovered that the choice of coconut in the macaroon makes a big difference in both taste and texture. Unsweetened shredded coconut, which is drier than sweetened, solved the gluey texture issue.  Sweetened shredded coconut packed more flavor than unsweetened, and together they worked very well. To add one more layer of coconut flavor, they tried cream of coconut and cracked the coconut macaroon code.

Cream of coconut, is not to be confused with coconut cream or coconut milk. Here is a little coconut product primer:
coconut milkcream of coconutKTC-Creamed-Coconut-Big
Coconut cream is very similar to coconut milk but contains less water. Coconut cream is made by simmering equal parts of shredded coconut and water until frothy,  then straining the mixture through a cheesecloth, squeezing out as much liquid as possible; this is coconut milk. The coconut milk is refrigerated and allowed to set. Coconut cream is the thick non-liquid part that separates and rises to the top of the coconut milk.

Cream of coconut is coconut cream that has been sweetened. It is used most commonly in piña coladas. This is the one you want for this recipe. I usually find it in Asian supermarkets, although some larger stores carry it in the drinks aisle.

Creamed coconut is a compressed block of coconut flesh which has been slightly dehydrated and sold in a waxy lump.

This recipe does contain corn syrup, so if you keep strictly Kosher for Passover, here is a recipe for a corn syrup alternative.

Lately, there has been much written about the evils of high fructose corn syrup. This is not the same as the regular corn syrup you buy for baking. If you are at all concerned and want to know more about the science behind it, this article clears up the confusion.

The canned cream of coconut has liquid at the bottom, so it is best to empty it out into a bowl and mix it up with a spoon before measuring and adding to the batter.
Adding cream of coconutadding coconut
The batter should be chilled for about 15 minutes before shaping macaroons. here is a video demonstrating how to shape them.


The chocolate should be chopped fairly fine. I melt about 3/4 of it in the microwave on medium power. When it is totally melted, stir in the remaining 1/4 of chocolate. This is a quick and dirty tempering method but it works quite well.chopping milk chocolatemelting milk chocolateadding second amount of chocolate
I like to dip the bottom third of the cookies in chocolate.
dippingput on parchment

dipped

Click here to print recipe for Triple Coconut Macaroons.

in polka dot bowl

 

Valentines Day Marbled Heart Brown Sugar Cookies

assortment of hearts 625 sqI would not describe myself as an overly affectionate person. (OK, all those who know me can stop choking with laughter now) Neither my husband or I are big on PDA’s . We don’t really celebrate Valentines Day, certainly not in a traditional cards, flowers or a box of drugstore chocolates (shudder) kind of way. My husband knows better than to show up with a bouquet of roses for me. I hate roses, especially red ones. Their aroma conjures up images of death and decay in my mind.  However, if a big bunch of tulips were to come my way, I would never refuse them!

That being said, there is something about heart shaped cookies for Valentines Day that is just so sweet and endearing, especially if they are home made. I could not resist making these this year. I love to decorate sugar cookies with royal icing. I am not a huge lover of the overly sweet taste of royal icing, but I am a frustrated artist and the canvas of a cookie fills my soul with such joy when I hold a piping bag and begin creating.Red and White heardsI had a few extra hands on deck last week to help me make these. My mom, who is very creative, was visiting. As well, my old babysitter, Sarah, who is a whiz with a piping bag, was also visiting. She was so excited when I told her what we would be making. She runs a dance school and bakes beautiful decorated cookies for all her students for any and every occasion. When I had tendonitis in my elbow, from a repetitive strain injuty (piping too many gingerbread snowflake cookies), she filled in as my designated piper.

Marbling royal icing is probably one of the easiest ways to create some spectacular looking cookies. There is no right or wrong way. You just have to let your creative freak flag fly here. The marbling technique basically boils down to using contrasting colours of wet royal icing. You pipe lines or dots or whatever you fancy, and just use a toothpick to swirl the lines or connect the dots. It couldn’t be simpler.Heart ZigzagsYou can use any sturdy cookie recipe, like gingerbread or a sugar cookie. I used my favourite sugar cookie recipe, which calls for brown sugar, instead of the usual white sugar. It adds a real depth of flavour. Adter making the dough, I divide the soft dough into 4 pieces and roll out each piece of dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Then I chill the sheets of rolled out dough before cutting. It is much easier to do this rather than chill the dough first and then roll it out.

dough mixeddivide dough

rolling between parchmentcutting out hearts  I found the cutest set of cookie cutters at Michael’s.Wilton CuttersYou will need some disposable piping bags, piping tips (#2 and #3 size) and couplers,  some paste or gel food colouring and toothpicks. If you are planning to buy red food colouring, make sure it is the “no taste” red. In order to get a vivid red, you need to use a lot of the food colouring, and the regular red departs a very bitter taste.

It is best to make the cookies and royal icing the day before (or even several days) you plan to decorate them. Set aside a few quiet hours to allow your creative decorating juices to flow. 

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Click here to print recipe for Sugar Cookies with Brown Sugar.

Click here to print recipe for Royal Icing.

Red and White hearts on felt heart placemats

Hearts lines

For further inspiration check out these very talented bloggers:

Julia Usher

Colleen of Royal Icing Diaries

Sweetopia

 

Celebrating Cookie Week with Lemon Pistachio Cookies

ready 2 625 sqApparently, this week is officially “Cookie Week”. Everyday my inbox is filled with cookie emails like thisthis,  this, this and this. Ordinarily I would not be paying attention to any of this food porn, since typically at this time of year, I am up to my armpits in butter and sugar preparing the 42 baskets of assorted cookies that I send out to my nearest and dearest. However, this year, I am taking a break. Or I should say, 2 breaks. I am hobbling about on crutches and wearing an air cast because I broke 2 bones in my foot a few weeks ago.

To be honest, my first thought when this happened, was great concern over not being able to work out everyday. I rely on physical activity to keep me centered and sane. However, as the weeks have passed, and we inch ever closer to the Holidays, what has been making me crazy is the fact that I am unable to stand up and bake. I get irritable if I go more than a few days without baking. I am itching to bake! Everyone is cranking out cookies except me and I am feeling a little sorry for myself.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was watching Carla Hall make Marcona Almond Wedding Cookies on Tuesday’s episode of The Chew. I woke up this morning determined to bake them. I figured that these are a simple cookie and I could try to sit down on a stool to do most of the work.ready 1When I went to gather all my ingredients I discovered that my supply of Trader Joe’s Marcona Almonds, which I smuggle in from America, has been depleted by some sneaky snackers. (If anyone in Ottawa knows where to get Marcona Almonds, let me know!) I had some pistachios in the freezer and thought they would make a wonderful variation.whole pistachiosground pistachiosThese cookies are a riff on Mexican Wedding Cookies, which are traditionally made with pecans. Almonds, pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts would all be excellent substitutes. What I loved about Carla’s variation is that the salty marcona almonds would provide a wonderful contrast to the sweet powdered sugar coating. (Marcona almonds are Spanish almonds that are roasted in olive oil and salted). I added a tablespoon of Kosher Salt to my unsalted pistachios when I was grinding them.

Powdered sugar and butter are creamed and then flavoured with orange and lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. dough with lemon and orange zestThe dough is then formed into Tablespoon size balls. A mini spring loaded scoop makes easy work of the shaping. They can be placed fairly close together on the baking sheet as they do not spread very much.scooping 2Once they are baked, the warm cookies get a coating of lemon powdered sugar. Lemon zest is dried and mixed with some confectioners sugar.zesting lemons

rolling in lemon sugarThese buttery cookies just melt in your mouth. They are light and crumbly and the lemon and orange flavours play off so well against the salty pistachios. Just before packaging they got an extra coating.extra dustingpackaged

Click here to get the recipe for Lemon Pistachio Cookies.

This Little Piggy Went to Market!

cookie cutterWhen I first spotted this cookie cutter on Etsy about 6 months ago and I knew I had to have it!  Many years ago, when I was in culinary school I vividly recall, with great agony, having to memorize all the butcher’s cuts. These cookies just made me giggle!2 piggiesMy oldest nephew, who is now living in Los Angeles, recently quit his corporate job to became a butcher’s apprentice. I think it is fantastic that he has found something he feels so passionate about and that he is now able to practice the craft. I knew I had to bake these cookies for him. In addition to being a butcher, he is also following the Paleo diet. I did briefly consider making Paleo friendly cookies for him, but my Google search for “Paleo Cookies” turned up some scary looking treats that I could not, in all good conscience, bake!

I used my favourite sugar cookie recipe, and whipped up a batch.12 piggies

Click here to print recipe for Sugar Cookies with Brown Sugar.

I found a great recipe for a small batch of royal icing to decorate these cookies, as they do not require very much.

My daughter happened to be home from college this weekend, when I was baking the cookies. She is a vegetarian with an unusual sense of humour. She applied some carnage to one of the cookies.bloodied pig 1biting off headNo animals were harmed in the making of these cookies! The blood is just smeared raspberries.

My nephew was thrilled with these cookies. He was also visiting this week and he is going to take them back to L.A. to share with all his new  butcher friends!1 piggy