Sunday, September 24, 2023

Stamped Cookies #32 - Orange Shortbread Cookies from Glenda Embree

Stamped Cookies #32 Orange Shortbread Cookies - made dough September 10, 2023 from Glenda Embree
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, powdered sugar and orange zest until combined, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add flour and cornstarch, mixing to combine. Dough will be a little dry.
  3. Portion into golf-ball size dough balls and roll into smooth balls, using the warmth of your hands to keep dough together and smooth.
  4. Roll each ball in granulated sugar and evenly press cookie stamp on each ball. Cut with round cookie cutter if desired for a smooth round. Cover and chill for 30-45 minutes.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space cookies. Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are slightly golden and middles no longer look raw. Remove from oven and let rest on baking sheets for several minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.
I'm on a roll with stamped cookie recipes. I've been meaning to try this one for awhile but kept forgetting to get an orange when I went grocery shopping. But I finally managed it.
I love this particular set of stamps from Nordic Ware and use it every time I make a citrus-flavored stamped cookie because it's perfect for lemon and orange shortbread cookies.
I only made a half recipe of this as I didn't want to invest that much butter (original recipe called for 2 cups) unless I know how successfully a recipe is going to turn out. The main thing that gave me pause on this one is how much cornstarch there is relative to flour and the other ingredients. Past experience says that while cornstarch contributes to a more tender texture of a cookie, too much can also contribute to a drier mouthfeel and a more bland flavor.

First, the positives: you can see from the pictures that this recipe holds the stamped impressions beautifully and that's exactly what I look for in a stamped cookie recipe. Otherwise, what's the point of stamping your cookies? The dough handled perfectly and was easy to work with. You don't have to chill this for very long to get it easy to work with.

Second, the less positive? As I was afraid of, this does have a slightly drier mouthfeel and it's not very buttery. The amount of cornstarch and flour makes this a more hardy cookie rather than a delicate buttery one. This is more for people who like a drier snap or crisp to their shortbread rather than the buttery goodness of Walker-like shortbread. It was still good but if I hadn't stamped these cookies, I would've probably liked them better if they were lightly glazed with a simple glaze of powdered sugar whisked with orange juice. Still, it's hard to beat how faithfully the stamped impressions held.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Stamped Cookies #31 Fall Spice Stamped Cookies from Nordic Ware

Stamped Cookies #31 Fall Spice Stamped Cookies - made dough September 4, 2023 from Nordic Ware
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice or cinnamon (I used Penzey's pie spice)
1/2 teaspoon salt
extra granulated sugar for rolling
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-4 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pumpkin spice or cinnamon and salt. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients in two additions, mixing on low speed after each addition, until just combined and dough forms. Cover and chill for 15-30 minutes.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll dough into large balls, roll in granulated sugar to coat and press evenly with cookie stamps. Trim edges if desired. Evenly space cookies on prepared sheets.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until edges are set. Let rest on baking sheet for several minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.
I haven't tried out a new stamped cookie recipe in a few months because when I do make stamped cookies, I go to Kitchen Vixen's shortbread recipe for the best impressions after baking as well as the best flavor.
erk, you can tell where I had a few brown sugar lumps in the dough

But, I was foolish enough to be idly surfing Williams Sonoma's website and searched "cookie stamps" on a whim (gah, these costly whims) and lo and behold, my pearl-clutching shock that there were new cookie stamps available. 
Actually there were three new-to-me sets of cookie stamps I hadn't seen before but let's focus on this one first (never fear, the other two will make an appearance in a future post). It's the fall set from Nordic Ware. Now, I have almost every set of cookie stamps on Nordic Ware's site and these are not on there as of this writing. So I don't know if these are a Williams Sonoma exclusive or if they'll eventually appear at Nordic Ware.
Doesn't matter as As you can see, I did. My favorite is the maple leaf stamp, followed by the pine cone then the acorn. The acorn design doesn't lend itself to as deep or clear impressions as the other two so it's a slightly distant third for me. But honestly, I love them all anyway, especially the set together.
The recipe is from the Nordic Ware fall cookie stamp box. It's similar to their other cookie stamp recipes, just flavored with pumpkin spice or cinnamon. I didn't have pumpkin spice handy so I used Penzey's pie spice which is made up of cinnamon, vanilla sugar, mace, ginger, nutmeg, anise seed and clove. It worked just fine. The edges were crisp and the middle was chewy-soft which I liked. I made the cookies a little thick, hence why they didn't bake crisp all the way through. You can make them thinner but it becomes harder to work with to get a clean impression and be able to separate the dough from the stamp without breaking. Make sure to chill the dough first to make it easier to work with. And if you don't have square cookie cutters in the right size (I didn't), use a pizza cutter to trim the edges for a clean cut.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Chocolate Espresso Cookies from A Farm Girl's Dabbles

Chocolate Espresso Cookies - made dough August 26, 2023 from A Farm Girl's Dabbles 
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
5 tablespoons maple syrup
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
brown or white sugar, for rolling
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together melted butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add maple syrup, egg and vanilla, beating on medium speed until combined.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture on low speed in two additions, beating after each addition until just combined. Portion into golf-ball-size dough balls, cover and chill for an hour or longer.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll chilled dough balls in brown sugar or granulated sugar, coating completely. Evenly space on baking sheets, leaving 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake 9-11 minutes or until tops are puffed and cracked. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets.
At first glance (and second and third), you can tell this was a cookie fail. The cookies spread too much and are misshapen because they baked right into each other as they spread. From their appearance, you can immediately tell there isn't enough flour.
But what I'm not sure of is whether the recipe doesn't call for enough flour or if I simply didn't add the right amount it called for. When I make cookie dough, I typically whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl as part of my mise en place. But since I'd been going through a period of flat cookies, I've taken to going by appearance of the dough. Sometimes that calls for withholding some flour and other times for adding more. But when you combine all the dry ingredients together in one bowl, you can't as easily withhold the flour since it's all mixed in with the leavenings and salt.
So my seemingly brilliant solution is to mix all the dry ingredients except the last 1/4-1/2 cup of flour, to be added at the end only if the dough seems sticky and needs more flour. Good idea, right? Welp, it is if you don't forget to add the flour you originally withheld. My problem with this one is I genuinely can't tell you if I did withhold the flour and forgot to add all of it in or if I did measure correctly and the recipe just needs more flour. Mine looks nothing like they're supposed to from A Farm Girl Dabble's blog. Her cookies look perfect. Mine, not so much. 
The first bakes are pictured above, all baked from frozen dough. Fortunately, with the remaining (frozen) cookie dough balls (pictured below), I tried the trick of rounding the cookies with a large round cookie cutter as soon as they came out of the oven so the edges smooth out into the circular shape the cookies are supposed to be. Wow, it actually worked. Except for the one below in the top left. That was my trial run and I didn't quite get all the edges inside the cookie cutter when I was swirling. But hey. it worked on the other ones. Believe it or not, the ones below came out of the oven almost as rough looking and misshapen as the ones above. But capturing each misshapen cookie inside a larger round cookie cutter and swirling immediately after you take them out of the oven while they're still hot got them into shape.

From a flavor perspective, the chocolate and espresso weren't particularly strong. Instead the butter and greasy texture (due to not having enough flour) took over the flavor profile and texture. It wasn't bad but I think it could've been better. Next time I need to pay more attention and make sure I add the right amount of flour. 

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Milk Chocolate Macadamia Coconut Cookies by Modern Honey

Milk Chocolate Macadamia Coconut Cookies - made dough August 19, 2023 from Modern Honey
1 cup butter, cut into cubes
1 cup brown sugar, packed 
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla 
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla, mixing to combine after each addition.
  4. On low speed, mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt in two to three additions, mixing just until combined. Do not overmix. 
  5. Stir in chocolate chips, coconut and macadamia nuts. Portion dough into golf-ball size balls and flatten tops slightly. Evenly space on lined baking sheets. Bake 9-10 minutes or until edges are golden brown and middles no longer look raw. Remove from oven and let rest on baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
I must be on a roll with putting nuts in cookies. But I've long ago made an exception to macadamia nuts since they don't soften in baking like their other nutty (bad pun woefully intended) counterparts. Once they cool, they're as crisp as ever.
I typically pair macadamia nuts with coconut or white chocolate or both. This recipe swaps out the white chocolate for milk chocolate. I'm running out of good quality white chocolate chunks and haven't replenished my supply yet so using milk chocolate chunks was ideal. For milk chocolate, I prefer to buy Trader Joe's Pound Plus milk chocolate bar and cut it into chunks for cookies. They taste and look better than going with chocolate chips.

I liked this cookie. It's got a little more going on than a straightforward milk chocolate chip cookie because of the macadamia nuts and coconut so the purist in me had to adapt. But I like macadamia nuts, coconut and milk chocolate separately and they worked together in this cookie. They also didn't spread much, something I always look for in a good cookie.

The edges were crisp and the coconut adds a little more of that crisp-chewy texture as well as sweetness. You can sub out semisweet chocolate chunks or chips for the milk chocolate if you prefer more chocolate and less sugar (that's not me).

Friday, September 15, 2023

Maple Pecan Oatmeal Cookies from Foodtasia

Maple Pecan Oatmeal Cookies - made dough August 26, 2023, modified from Foodtasia 
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/3 cups (212 grams) all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup (37 grams) shredded, sweetened coconut
1 cup (240 grams) light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
5 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans, chopped and lightly toasted
1 large egg if mixture is too dry
  1. Combine oats, flour, coconut, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt and brown the butter. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in maple syrup.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk baking soda into boiling water and add the butter mixture. Stir in vanilla. Pour into oat-flour mixture and mix to combine. Fold in pecans. If mixture is too dry and doesn't come together, beat in 1 egg.
  4. Portion dough into golf-ball size dough balls. Flatten into thick discs. Cover and chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space dough discs.
  6. Bake 12-16 minutes or until edges are set and middles no longer look raw. Remove from heat and let rest on baking sheets for several minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Okay, back to the cookies I've been baking for care packages for Soldiers Angels. If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I'm against nuts in cookies. They steam and soften during baking and interfere with the texture of a cookie. With the rare exception of macadamia nuts in a macadamia white chocolate and/or coconut cookie, I just don't like nuts in my cookies.
But, since the world doesn't revolve around me (damn), I followed this recipe faithfully to include the pecans. And....I have to say they worked. I think it's partly because this cookie has so many other ingredients to add to the texture, like the oats and the coconut, that the nuts didn't interfere with the texture so much as add to it.
These were little bites of goodness that almost seemed healthy if you ignore the butter, flour, and sugar. One important note: the original recipe did not include eggs. But when I mixed the recipe as is from Foodtasia's blog, the mixture was too dry. Having had bad failures with too dry cookies, especially when oats were involved, I added a large egg to bind the mixture together. Otherwise it was too crumbly and I knew they wouldn't bake properly.
It's a good thing I did as you can see the results here. The cookies didn't spread much (not enough moisture) so shape them in the shape and thickness you want them to be when forming the dough balls/discs. If you want thinner cookies with more spread and your dough seems too dry, add another egg or enough egg white to get the dough consistency you want.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Crumbl Cookies review #52 - Chocolate Cupcake

Crumbl Cookies review #52 - Chocolate Cupcake, visited September 13, 2023
Chocolate Cupcake
It only took 4 posts in the same week but with this post, I'm finally able to publish a review the same week the cookie is still available. #goalunlocked
bad angle as someone was standing partially in front of it when I took the picture

I've not been super thrilled with the Crumbl cookie offerings of late. As evidenced by me getting one cookie at a time or per week. Which isn't a bad thing, says my waistline.
I had been planning to skip this week but, believe it not, I was actually out of Crumbl cookie pieces in my freezer. When I can't (and don't) eat the cookies all at once, I break them into 1/3 or 1/4 pieces, wrap each piece and place them in my freezer. Then I take out a piece (sometimes 2) a day and eat them as an after-lunch dessert. But because the flavors haven't appealed lately and I've been buying single cookies rather than 4-packs, I ran out of cookie pieces. #horror So I decided to try the Chocolate Cupcake cookie.
Since I do like their vanilla cookies, I liked this one as it's essentially a vanilla cookie with chocolate frosting. The cookie texture is between a shortbread but not as dry and their regular cookie but not as fluffy. It was pretty good and I liked it. The chocolate frosting does overwhelm the vanilla flavor though so this cookie isn't for the vanilla purists. If you like the tub of chocolate frosting you can buy at the grocery store, you'll like this frosting. Normally I'm not a frosting person and I'm a huge frosting snob because I'm not big on frosting in the first place so it has to be worth it for me to like it. But I have to admit, this frosting was reminiscent of my childhood days, when, if my mom bought frosting at all for a made-from-box-mix cake for birthday cakes, it was more of a sentimental pleasure than a please-my-snobby-taste-buds pleasure. Not sure I'd get this again but if I needed a cookie and I didn't like anything else in the weekly lineup, then yeah, I probably would.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Crumbl Cookies review #51 - Caramel Pumpkin Cake

Crumbl Cookies review #51 - Caramel Pumpkin Cake, visited September 6, 2023
I'm trying to get caught up in my Crumbl reviews so I'm knocking these out one after the other. This (now last) week's menu didn't really interest me. I've already tried the Key Lime Pie and the Chocolate Toffee Cake, neither of which I liked enough to get again.
Crumbl's chocolate cookies are too rich for me and I prefer their milk chocolate chip cookie over the semisweet so that knocked out the other three cookies, leaving only the Caramel Pumpkin Cake. 
I have mixed feelings about this cake. Because cake is what it is. It's simply not a cookie. It wasn't even a cakey cookie. It really was a cake in a puffy disc form. Other people raved about it but I'm not one of them.
I think it's a matter of expectations. If you expect to go into Crumbl Cookies and get a bready cake, your expectations are met or even exceeded with this not-a-cookie. If you go in expecting a cookie, sorry, you're out of luck with this one.

I don't mind pumpkin and the flavor was fine, very similar to their carrot cake cookie, which I do like, but this wasn't a pumpkin cake cookie. It was pumpkin cake. Pass on this next time unless they make it more cookie and less cake. Or unless I want a bready pumpkin muffin with cream cheese frosting.