Friday, December 14, 2018

Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies - made dough November 24, 2018 from Two Sisters Crafting
I rarely make cutout cookies, mostly because they're often too much trouble and the flavor isn't great enough to go to the bother. What with the rolling, cookie cutting, trying to lift the cut dough without the cutout sticking and losing its shape and so on. Then the cleanup of your work surface with its sprinkling of flour to keep the dough from sticking. Honestly, you lost me at the rolling.
Fortunately, I found this recipe and it alleviates most of my angst about cutout cookies. The dough is easy to make and even easier to work with. It isn't sticky or dry and crumbly. It rolls out beautifully with minimal flour sprinkling and easy to use with cookie shapers. I rolled out to a thickness that made cutting out the shapes and transferring them to the baking sheet easy to do without altering the shape of the cutouts.
Lastly and perhaps more importantly to my taste buds, these were delicious. I didn't do anything fancy, i.e. I skipped the buttercream frosting but I did spruce them up - as much as I spruce up most things - with colored sprinkles suited to the Christmas holidays. Bingo - holiday cookies done.
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla
4 teaspoons baking powder
6 cups flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until combined and creamy. 
  3. Add vanilla and eggs; beat until incorporated.
  4. Add baking powder and mix.
  5. Add flour, 2 cups at a time, beating until just combined. Do not overmix.
  6. Roll dough into even layer, 3/8" thick. Cut shapes with cutter cutter and evenly space on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 6-8 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie. Do not overbake,

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Coconut Pound Cake

Coconut Pound Cake - made November 18, 2018 from Chef in Training
I've been doing a fair amount of baking, off and on, whenever I can. It comes and goes in spurts, whenever I have time. Which, at this time of the year, between work and the holidays, isn't that often so when I do have a few hours, I tend to whip up batches of cookie dough so I have something to bake for the holiday gatherings.
But I had just enough time one weekend to also make this coconut pound cake, a recipe for which I'd been eyeing for awhile since I love coconut and I've had good success with Chef in Training's recipes.

I did one deviation from the original recipe in that I substituted additional vanilla extract for the coconut extract called for in the recipe. I love coconut; I hate coconut extract. Too artificial tasting. So this might not be as coconut-ty as originally meant but I prefer the more natural flavor of the coconut in the recipe than the tinny taste of coconut extract.
The flavor on this was good and it's best served warm (personal preference) for optimal texture. It's not as firm as a typical pound cake but not as light as a cakey-cake either but is somewhere in between.
1 cup butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons coconut extract (I used vanilla extract)
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Coconut glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, vanilla extract and coconut extract for 3 to 5 minutes until well combined.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined.
  4. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, mixing after each addition until just combined. Do not overmix. Fold in coconut.
  5. Grease and flour 2 large bread pans or 3 small loaf pans. Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly between bake. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center of each loaf comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Let loaves cool.
  6. Coconut glaze: Whisk powdered sugar, milk and extracts together until smooth glaze forms. Pour over each loaf.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies - made dough November 10, 2018 from Coco and Ash
I think I may have found my go-to recipe for oatmeal cookies. I'm not as indifferent to them as I am to peanut butter cookies but they don't light my fire like chocolate chip cookies, know what I mean?
Due to my friend Rick, who is inordinately fond of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, I keep trying recipes in the hopes of finding the recipe. So I can be prepared the next time Rick reminds me "you haven't sent me oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in awhile." Subtlety not being Rick's long game, lol.

What's different about this recipe is the addition of vanilla pudding mix into the cookie dough. That adds to the chewiness and softness of the texture. It also helps with the moistness of the cookie.
As an added touch, I recommend portioning the dough into cookie dough balls, covering them with plastic wrap and letting them "age" in the refrigerator overnight. That chilling time will also let the oats absorb the moisture in the cookie dough for a more chewy texture. This has a good flavor, crisp edges and a nice chewy, moist interior. Sometimes oatmeal cookies can be dry or a bit too "hearty" but these had a nice chewy-soft texture without being too mushy or crumbly.
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups quick-cook oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla, mixing briefly between additions until just combined.
  2. Whisk together oats, flour, vanilla pudding, baking soda and salt. Add to butter mixture in three additions, mixing after each addition until just combined. Do not overbeat,
  3. Fold in chocolate chips. Portion dough into golf-ball-size balls, cover and chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space frozen dough balls. Bake for 10-11 minutes or until are golden and middles are no longer raw. Cool on baking sheet for five minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake - made November 4, 2018 from I Wash You Dry
This is a surprisingly good cake. I say surprisingly because its base is a cake mix and you know how I feel about those. But, like all doctored cake mix recipes, this adds enough extra ingredients to mask that box-cake-mix taste. The texture of the cake was not quite as firm as a pound cake but not squishy like a chiffon. The taste held up as well.

The recipe makes a bit too much of each frosting but the frostings were pretty tasty. I made the same mistake I always seem to make with layered cakes that need to be frosted. The right way to frost two layers together - especially if there’s a filling that isn’t as firm as the frosting, like the dulce de leche in this recipe – is to pipe a line of frosting at the outer edge of one of the cake layers. Spread the filling evenly in the middle but inside the piped frosting line. Then sandwich the top layer over the bottom layer. The piped circle of frosting keeps the layers from sliding against each other and the filling from oozing out while you’re trying to frost the cake.

I know that’s what I should’ve done but I didn’t remember to do it until I was dealing with the difficulty of the layers sliding tipsily against each other when I was trying to frost the outside. Sigh. #fail.

As a result, my cake ended up a bit lopsided and the top layer threatened to slide off the bottom layer out of spite whenever my back was turned. Cutting it so the two layers didn’t separate was – haha – no piece of cake either. What can I say, I’m not about the fancy looks, but about the taste. And fortunately this tasted pretty good. I used a dulce de leche that my niece brought me back from Hawaii so you know it was the good stuff. But the dulce de leche frosting didn’t have a strong taste. I think the sugar overwhelmed the dulce de leche itself. 
An individual-size version of the cake

And like I said earlier, the frosting recipes made a little too much frosting for a non-frosting user like me so you may want to do a 2/3 recipe for the chocolate frosting and a half recipe for the dulce de leche frosting. Unless you plan to decorate a lot with the dulce de leche frosting or really slather on the chocolate frosting. But overall, thumbs up on this cake.

1 (15.25-ounce) Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
1 (3.9-ounce) box instant chocolate pudding
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder

Dulce de Leche Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, cold
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup thick dulce de leche

Topping and filling
3/4 cup thick dulce de leche, divided
1/4 cup toffee bits
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and sprinkle each pan with 1 tablespoon flour, shaking to coat evenly.
  2. Combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, milk, sour cream, oil and vanilla and beat together for one minute. Do not overbeat.
  3. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely and refrigerate for 2 hours before frosting.
  4. Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting: Cream butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy; add in vanilla. Whisk together cocoa powder and powdered sugar and add, 1/2 cup at a time, to mixture, mixing in gently until fully incorporated.
  5. Dulce de Leche Cream Cheese Frosting: Cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy; add in vanilla. Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing between each addition then beat in 1/2 cup dulce de leche until fully combined.
  6. Assemble the cake: Once the cakes are chilled, frost the top of one cake with a layer of the dulce de leche frosting. Spread the other cake top with 1/2 cup of dulce de leche caramel and layer the cakes together so that the caramel and frosting are together between the cakes.
  7. Frost the outside and top of entire layered cake with chocolate frosting. Decorate with dulce de leche frosting. Drizzle top of cake with dulce de leche caramel and sprinkle with toffee bits.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Big Chewy Snickerdoodles

Big Chewy Snickerdoodles - made November 11, 2018 from Landeelu
I love me a good snickerdoodle and this is a good snickerdoodle. As always, I underbaked it to get the dense, moist texture that I wanted. If you bake snickerdoodles fully, they'll be cakey. If you overbake them, like any cookie, they'll be dry. And have a tough texture.
I care for neither dry nor tough, hence my underbaking tendencies. Unbaking gives them a texture that, had these been chocolate, could've been described as "fudgy".
Snickerdoodles also give me another chance to plug Penzey's Vietnamese cinnamon. It's the only cinnamon I'll now bake with; it's that good. While I normally buy spices in as small an amount as possible since I don't tend to cook with them often, Penzey's cinnamon is one of the few I buy in the half-cup jar size since I do bake with it often enough to go through that size bottle before it gets old.
These had a light, airy texture at the edges which were crisp. But the middles were soft and dense; perfect. Another good snickerdoodle recipe in the books.
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Cream butter and 2 cups sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, milk and vanilla; mix until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients in 3 additions, mixing after each until just combined. Do not overbeat.
  3. Portion dough into golf-ball-size dough balls, cover and chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Combine 3 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Roll dough balls into cinnamon-sugar mixture, coating completely. Evenly space on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 9-10 minutes or until middles no longer look raw. Do not overbake.
  6. Cool on baking sheet for 1-2 minutes then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Melting Moment Macadamia Butter Cookies

Melting Moment Macadamia Butter Cookies - made dough November 4, 2018, modified from Love Foodies

These are buttery morsels of vanilla cookie with the crunch of macadamia nuts. In the midst of the holiday cookie baking season, this is one that might stand out with its sheer simplicity.

It isn't fancy but if you like vanilla, butter or macadamia nuts, this may appeal to your palate more than fancier cookies. There's something about a well-made butter cookie that triumphs over more flamboyant cookies, at least for me.
Toast the macadamia nuts to bring out their flavor, use fresh butter and real vanilla extract, none of that imitation stuff. And, of course, underbaking will give you that rich texture, not the dry crumble of an overbaked cookie.

If you give away cookies for the holidays, if you make these small and chubby enough, you can even nestle them in holiday-themed cupcake liners to give them a little decorative glory. But their flavor will win over your recipients without the fancy touches.
3/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons water
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup salted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  1. Beat butter in large bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment until creamy. Add vanilla extract and water and mix until combined.
  2. Whisk flour, confectioners' sugar and salt together in medium-size bowl. Add to butter mixture and beat until combined. Fold in macadamia nuts. Chill dough for 10-15 minutes if soft. Portion into small dough balls, cover and chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space frozen dough balls. Bake 8-10 minutes or just until the edges begin to slightly brown. Remove from oven, cool for several minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Death by Cookie

Death by Cookie - made dough November 3, 2018, adapted from Hugs and Cookies
You gotta love the title of this recipe, right? What a way to go, I always say. And, once you try this cookie, it would be the way to go.
I amped up the death rays on this one by adding dollops of Nutella to the batter so that when you scoop it out, the large swaths of Nutella remained intact and once the cookies are baked and you bite into one, you get both the punch from the chocolate chips and the puddles of Nutella throughout the cookie.
Since this is a fudge cookie, you want to just barely bake it and you definitely want to let it cool to room temperature for maximum fudgy texture. Eat it while it’s still too warm and it’ll just be mushy. Wait until it’s just room temperature and the chocolate chips will still be soft but the cookie will have set enough to make it fudge, not mush. Trust me, it’s worth the wait.
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Nutella, optional but recommended
  1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Melt the 8 ounces of chocolate chips either in the microwave or in the top half of a double boiler set over hot water. Stir until smooth. Cool slightly.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla; set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the brown sugar and granulated sugar until combined.
  5. Mix in the beaten egg-vanilla combination until just combined. Add the melted chocolate and beat until combined. Add the dry ingredients on slow speed and mix until just combined. Do not overmix. Fold in the chocolate chips. If adding Nutella, dollop over cookie dough.
  6. Chill dough for at least 30 minutes then portion into golf-ball-size dough balls, leaving swirls of Nutella, if using. Cover and chill or freeze for a couple of hours or overnight.
  7. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space frozen dough balls. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges have just set. Middles will appear soft. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Vanilla Shortbread Cookies

Vanilla Shortbread Cookies - made dough October 13, 2018 from The Semisweet Sisters
Classic, purist, vanilla cookie eaters: pull up a mixing bowl and grab the butter. But make sure it’s fresh butter and not something that’s been lurking in your refrigerator for months on end. Because when you have a cookie with so few ingredients, you’re going to really taste the pure simple taste of those ingredients and they should be good. Not to mention, who wants to eat old butter?

This is the kind of cookie my nephew, Vanilla King, would prefer in his Vanilla King heyday. It’s literally a plain shortbread cookie. But oh so good. If you’ve ever had a Mexican Wedding Cake, you know how melt-y soft they are with a rich mouthfeel? Imagine these cookies are like that but without the nuts and powdered sugar coating.

Bake until the edges are a light golden brown and the middles are just barely past the raw stage. The edges will be light with a little crisp and the middle will be soft and chewy. If you bake them a little longer, more of the cookie will be light-airy-crisp but I prefer the middle part of the cookie to have some chewiness.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
  1. Mix butter, powdered sugar and vanilla until creamy. Stir in flour and mix just until combined.
  2. Portion into golf-ball-size dough balls and pat slightly into thick discs. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight. 
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Evenly space dough discs and bake 12-15 minutes.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies - made dough October 27, 2018 from Averie Cooks

I was hoping to get cute, puffy little cookies with this recipe and the original blog showed exactly what I hoped to get. Unfortunately, hoping and what I actually got were two different things.

Not that there’s anything wrong with these cookies. On the contrary, they were nice bite-sized-ish cookies. But they didn’t stay as thick as I wanted and while the mini chips were perfect for their size, they just ended up looking like typical small-ish chocolate chip cookies. When it comes to the chocolate chip cookies, I prefer not to be typical. It’s either behemoth cookies or dainty petites. These landed somewhere in the small to medium side of the spectrum.

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on low speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat on medium speed until creamed and well combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Add egg and vanilla, beating until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  3. Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt until just combined, 30 seconds. Do not overmix. Fold in chocolate chips.
  4. Use a small cookie scoop to form small dough balls. 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 mini dough balls. Bake 6-8 minutes or until barely golden brown around the edges and middles no longer look raw. Do not overbake. Let rest on baking sheets for several minutes before removing to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.