Shortbread Snowflakes

With Christmas around the corner and families staying put, it’s beginning to look a lot like a different kind of holiday season. Lots of things are up in the air and I’m not talking flying.  Life as we knew it is a little blurry right now.  I’m trying to look at the positive, but with so many small businesses getting shut down again and struggling to survive, it can become dispiriting. “This won’t last forever,” encouraging as it sounds…is not soon enough.  We should help to save lives while also saving livelihoods. We have to take care of ourselves the best we can.  Little things here and there help to uplift our spirits. 

So I’ve made cookies.  Lots of cookies.  Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, Old Fashioned Oatmeal Raisin with Indian spices, Thumbprint with Jam, Peanut Butter/Chocolate Chunk and finally holiday shortbread.  The one with the least amount of ingredients and the most challenging. 

This one is a Martha Stewart original.  The only thing I’ve changed is instead of using granulated sugar I’ve substituted with organic cane sugar.  They’re really yummy.  My added touches: some are cut out round and sprinkled with chili cocoa powder instead of powdered sugar.  Or; should you decide to melt chocolate, you can dip half the cookies in the chocolate, as shown.

Shortbread Cookies with Cardamom

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground *cardamom

1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar (original recipe calls for using granulated).

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling

Whisk flour, salt & cardamom in a medium bowl.

Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer.  Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.  Mix in Vanilla.

Reduce to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture.

Press the dough into a 10” x 15” rimmed baking sheet on top of parchment paper. (the recipe doesn’t call for this but this way turns out being a lot easier to work with the cookie dough).

Press parchment paper onto surface and smooth top.  Remove top parchment; wrap sheet in plastic.  Refrigerate 30 minutes.  This will help the dough become harder and therefore easier to cut into cookie shapes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using snowflake (and other) cookie shape cutters, cut out cookies, and arrange by size on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Refrigerate 15 minutes.

Sprinkle with sanding (icing) sugar.  Bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Let cool on sheets on wire rack.

You can freeze what you don’t immediately eat.  I freeze all my cookies.  Once thawed they’re as good as new.  Enjoy!

*Cardamom is a spice made from the seed pods of various plants in the ginger family. Cardamom pods are spindle-shaped and have a triangular cross-section. The pods contain a number of seeds, but the entire cardamom pod can be used whole or ground. The seeds are small and black, while the pods differ in color and size by species.

Something Sweet – crazy for Cookies

If you love cookies as much as I do, then count this as your lucky day! I have 3 kitchen tested recipes for you.  Starting with:

Cornmeal Chocolate-Chunk with Raisins and Fennel Seeds

Photo: d king
Photo: d king

These are delightfully different, light and crisp – they remind me of Danish style cookies.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and finely ground
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup medium-grind yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 5 ounces coarsely chopped milk chocolate (1 1/4 cups)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar and fennel seeds on medium-high speed until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg until combined. Add flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt and beat just until combined. Stir in raisins and chocolate.
  2. Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough (or use a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop) onto parchment-lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating sheets once, until edges are golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks at least 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature. Cooled completely, cookies can be stored at room temperature up to 3 days.

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These rich cookies should seem a bit soft when you take them out of the oven. They firm up as they cool, so be careful not to overbake them.

Photo: Antonis Archilleos
Photo: Antonis Archilleos

  • YIELD: MAKES ABOUT 3 DOZEN

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, 4 ounces coarsely chopped, 4 ounces cut into 1/4-inch chunks
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Melt coarsely chopped chocolate with the butter in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
  2. Transfer chocolate mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla; mix on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chunks.
  3. Scoop batter using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop; place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are flat and surfaces begin to crack, about 15 minutes. Transfer on parchment to wire racks. Let cool 5 minutes. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Source: Martha Stewart Living

Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies 

Yield: about 3 dozen regular size or 2 dozen large (I prefer large) after-dinner cookies

Photo: d king
Photo: d king

INGREDIENTS

1-1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup dutch-process cocoa-make sure to use dutch process for a rich/dark flavor
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and room temp
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 bag of mint chips-I used Guittard

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line baking sheets with silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cream butter until light and fluffy.  Gradually add sugar.  Add eggs, vanilla and 2 tsp. water and beat until smooth.

Sift dry ingredients together.  Add to the butter mixture and mix well.  Fold in oats and raisins.  Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving enough space for the cookies to spread out.  Bake approx. 10 minutes, until golden.

Source: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com

My Just Cookies Board for Pinterest:

Food – milk chocolate oatmeal cookies

I’m always in the mood to eat cookies brsugarchoccoconutbut I don’t always feel like making them. Part of the problem is that whenever I do make them I end up eating more than I should. This recipe is really easy and fairly healthy as far as cookies go…..(brown sugar instead of white, oats and only 1 egg) so I couldn’t wait to make them.  They’re quick and delicious and I just added coconut flakes.  You can double the recipe but if you want to ensure you don’t eat too many, maybe it’s a good idea to stick to the original.

Brown Sugar Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. fine sea salt

½ cup unsalted butter, either at room temperature or slightly chilled

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

½ quick oats

1 cup milk chocolate chips

unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 325F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  If you don’t have parchment then spray baking sheets lightly with oil.

Stir flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  Beat butter with sugar in a large bowl until fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until combined.  Stir in oats and chocolate chips.  Spoon 2 Tbsp. portions of dough, 3 in. apart, onto prepared sheets.  Flatten them slightly using your fingers.

Bake in centre of oven until edges are golden but centres are soft, 12-15 minutes.  Transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.  Pour yourself a glass of milk!

Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.  But let’s face it – they’ll only last one or two days at most.

Makes 12-16 cookies.

If you really need to know they’re about 200 calories per cookie.

 Below are links to some other cookie recipes I’ve made and posted before (all equally delicious):

 

Sweet ‘n Saltyhttps://girlwhowouldbeking.com/2014/02/10/sweetly-satisfying-ultimate-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Veganhttps://girlwhowouldbeking.com/2014/03/25/simply-satisfying-vegan-chocolate-chip-coconut-cookies/

Ultimate Darkhttps://girlwhowouldbeking.com/2012/11/06/simple-and-satisfying-the-ultimate-chocolate-chip-cookies/

 

Simply Satisfying – Vegan Chocolate Chip / Coconut Cookies

20140321_121356These vegan friendly cookies are yummy enough for non-vegans too.  They do not include the usual suspects (dairy such as  butter, or eggs) nor refined sugar and all-purpose flour that are commonly used to make cookies.

 

They include:

1 cup instant oatmeal (or rolled oats)

½ cup coconut flour

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. fine seasalt

Sprinkling of ground Cinnamon (about ¼ – ½ tsp.)

¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (I used organic dark cane)

1/3 cup canola oil

¼ cup almond milk (I used the unsweetened version)

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (or 1 ½ tsp. & ½ tsp. of almond extract)

½ cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips (like Sunspire – veganstore.com)

½ cup of unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Note: For my first batch I used a combo of Ghirardelli milk & semi-sweet chocolate chips that were on hand.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together oatmeal (or oats), pastry flour, coconut flour, baking soda, cinnamon & seasalt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, oil, almond milk, vanilla (or combo of vanilla & almond extract); pour mixture into the batter and stir until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips and coconut flakes.

For each cookie, drop 1 Tbsp. (or 2 Tbsp. for bigger cookies) of dough 2 inches apart onto the baking sheets.  Note: Some of the dough might fall apart as you try to drop it – just roll it in your hands a little to shape it before putting it back on the sheet.  It will still bake okay.

Bake for about 15 minutes. Let them cool slightly before moving them to a plate or tray.  ENJOY these delicious guilt free cookies.

You can try substituting peanut butter instead of the coconut flakes or even adding a bit of natural peanut butter to the mix.  I haven’t tried this yet but it definitely sounds good.

Do you have a great vegan cookie recipe you’d like to share?

 

 

Sweetly Satisfying – & salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

A perfect Valentine’s Day treat with a balance of sweet & salty in very bite.  If you love a great chewy chocolate chip cookie then this recipe is for you.

Cookies

This is better than the average chocolate chip cookie recipe because of a few changes to basic ingredients.  The sugars are a combo of organic brown, *coconut and cane.  Usually I don’t add any nuts but this time I added some chopped macadamia nuts for deliciously added crunch. Then some extra vanilla in the form of pure vanilla bean paste and sprinkled the tops of each cookie with lavender sea salt just before baking (but any sea salt is good).  My hand mixer wasn’t working properly which resulted in having to manually mix most of the ingredients….which turned out surprisingly good (as over mixing is not recommended especially when adding dry ingredients).

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature (try using one stick of unsalted & one salted).

1 cup sugar  (I like using a combo of organic cane and coconut sugar). *Coconut sugar is more nutritious and lower on the glycemic index than regular sugar.

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

½ tsp pure vanilla bean extract (optional)

2 large eggs

2 cups of chocolate chips or chunks (try using a combo of the best quality you can find of bittersweet, milk, semisweet & white).  *I drizzled some melted dark chocolate over top for added punch (optional).

Go Nuts: ½ – 1 cup (depending on how much you like nuts) of finely chopped walnuts, pecans or *macadamia. (optional)

Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling on top.

Directions

Center one of the racks in the oven; preheat to 350 F.   Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.  Working with a stand mixor (preferable fitted with a paddle attachment) or hand mixor in a large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed for about 3 minutes until well blended.  Beat in vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition.  Reduce mixer to low; add dry ingredients in three portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated (don’t overmix).  By hand or with rubber spatula mix in chocolate and nuts.  Spoon dough in slightly rounded tablespoons onto baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake cookies rotating sheets and switching position from top to bottom at the midway point (about 8-10 minutes is halfway), or until they are brown and the edges are golden in the center.  They may still be a little soft in the center, and that’s fine.  Remove from oven and allow cookies to rest 1 minute, then carefully transfer them to racks or cookie tray to cool, using a wide metal spatula.  Repeat with remaining dough, cooling baking sheets between batches.

The cookies can be kept in a sealed container for about 4 days or wrapped airtight and frozen for up to two months.

TIPS:

1)       all recipes call for unsalted butter at room temperature. I keep the butter cold in the fridge until a short time before mixing and cut it into little cubes.  Apparently Mrs. Fields makes her cookies like that so now I do too.

2)       Rest dough before baking by leaving batter in the fridge for up to 24 hours.  It allows the flavors to meld and the sugars to become more like molasses.  You can also freeze half or all of the batter.

3)       Use a lower temperature and leave them cook a bit longer than recipe calls for (if it calls for 375F, use 350F.  If it calls for 350F, use 325F).

4)       Never place your batter on a warm cookie sheet.  Instead, let it cool between batches.  A hot sheet causes the dough to melt before it goes into the oven, which tends to uneven baking, compromising the texture.

5)       If your cookies are a little too crispy you can always put a piece of bread in the cookie tin – this will help soften them.

Makes about 40 cookies

Simply Satisfying – Chocolate Dipped Orange Shortbread

 You can get creative with all your cookie-making at Christmas but don’t leave out the shortbread.  It may be too late for this Christmas but the results are worth it.  If you don’t have time,  file it for next year.   

Dish from ClayZone
Dish from ClayZone

I love cookies anytime.   My baking favorites are thumbprint (with homemade jam centre), writer’s block (oatmeal, raisins & chai spices), chocolate chip (using 4 different kinds) and old-fashioned peanut butter.

A friend gave me this recipe (originally from Canadian Living) which is perked up with orange rind and partially dipped in chocolate.  What can be better than orange & chocolate?

Ingredients:

1 cup (250 ml) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup (125 ml) superfine sugar (like castor but I ended up using organic cane)

2 tsp (10 ml) finely grated orange rind

¼ (1 ml) tsp salt

2 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp. (45 ml) cornstarch

3 ½ oz (100 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, orange rind and salt until fluffy.  Stir in flour and cornstarch to make a smooth dough.

Divide dough in half.  Form each into 10-inch (25 cm) log.  Wrap each and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Slice logs into ¼ inch (6 mm) thick rounds.  Place, 1-inch (2.5 cm) apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake in 325 F oven until firm, about 15 minutes.  Let cool on pans for 5 minutes, transfer to racks and let cool completely.

Coating:  In heatproof bowl over sauce of hot (not boiling) water, melt chocolate, let cool to room temperature.  Tip: I put the chocolate in a small pot placed right in a steamer which lets it gently melt without burning.  Try to use the best quality bulk chocolate you can find.  I use Callebaut.

Dip half of each cookie into chocolate, gently shaking off any excess.  Refrigerate on waxed paper-lined baking sheets until firm, about 30 minutes.  Makes about 30-35 cookies.