auntie barb’s almond snowballs

December 9th, 2014 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary | No Comments »

previously here on cookieblogger, i included the almond snowball cookie recipe that my mom and i have baked over the years. but there’s another family version that comes from my auntie barb, mom’s twin sister, that shines as well.

here’s my auntie barb, circa 1950’s:

k_family 328

though these cookies look similar to the snowballs i usually make, their taste and texture differ greatly, with mom’s being a more understated and melt-in-your-mouth cookie, while auntie barb’s, with the addition of ground almonds, have a bit of crunch and a nuttier flavor. for those who can’t eat nuts, my original almond snowball recipe works well with just almond flavoring and no nuts. but for those of you who like a little authentic nuttiness in your cookie, these are for you!

auntie barb was not known for her baking prowess, but every christmas, she pulled out her one cookie sheet and put her all into these snowballs. This recipe, originally from her sister-in-law, has been passed down to her daughters and granddaughters, so the tradition continues.

we lost my auntie barb last year, and words can’t describe the loss. but when i make these cookies, she is right here with me, though it’s likely she’s watching reruns of murder, she wrote, while i do the baking!

almond_snowballs

auntie barb’s almond snowballs

ingredients:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup ground almonds
1 cup confectioner’s sugar (for rolling cookies in, post-baking)

instructions:
1. pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. with your mixer, cream butter, sugar and vanilla very well until light and fluffy.
3. add in flour and salt; mix well, but do not overmix.
4. stir in ground almonds.
5. roll into balls about the size of walnuts. place on cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.
6. bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes (cookies will still be light in color).
7. remove from cookie sheet.
8. let completely cool, then roll in confectioner’s sugar.
enjoy!

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40 cookies in 10 days!

December 6th, 2014 thecookieblogger Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

it’s true. i’ll be spending the next 10 days baking 40 different types of cookies (because variety is the spice of life, no?!) many are cookies that i’ve already included here on cookieblogger, but some are new, and i’ll be posting those recipes over the next few days.

a friend asked me why would i bake so many cookies, and it was easy to respond. we give cookie platters as gifts to some of our friends and relatives here in seattle as well as shipping some back east to my family back there. for family, especially, there are long-held memories and traditions in some of these cookies that go back generations. for friends, it is a way to share our love in a time when gift-giving often loses its meaning. and for me, baking centers me like yoga or meditation does for many.

but that’s a lot of cookies to bake, you may ask? yes, but i like to give cookies at the height of their freshness, so for me, i know by baking in these next 10 days guarantees that they’re the freshest and best cookies i can give. every cookie leaves my home with a little piece of my heart. and i think my cookie recipients know that. it’s what makes them extra-special, no?

so, if you’re like me and gearing up for a baking binge, enjoy yourself and have fun. and crank up those holiday tunes!

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chewy fudgy cookies

December 2nd, 2014 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary | No Comments »

brrrr. it’s unseasonably cold here in seattle, with the temps expected to dip into the teens tonight. this is not our typical thanksgiving weekend weather, so there’s been a bunch of ‘indoor’ time, imbibing lots and lots of hot tea. i can’t seem to warm up without it!

looking for a cookie to accompany those pots of tea didn’t take much digging in my recipe box. these chewy fudgy cookies are perfect – just the right amount of chocolate and chewiness; hearty, yet not filling. there’s also a hint of java in these cookies, brought to you directly from that smidge of espresso powder. these are good. and addictive! i haven’t included these in past holiday cookie trays, but this may be the year for this cookie to shine!

fudgecookies

chewy fudgy cookies
ingredients:
6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
1 ounce of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped finely
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut in chunks
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons dark cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup baker’s fine sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

instructions:
1. preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
3. combine chopped chocolate and butter in microwaveable bowl; melt in microwave, stopping to stir 3 time.
4. in a small separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa and salt. set aside.
5. in your mixer, whip the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and espresso powder for 10 minutes at medium speed. the mixture will get frothy, light in color and double in bulk.
6. with your silicone spatula, fold the melted chocolate/butter mixture into the egg mixture, being careful not to overwork the mixing.
7. add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl, again gently folding in the dry mix until it is completely combined with the wet ingredients.
8. using your 30 scoop (approximately 2 tablespoons worth of batter), drop the cookie dough onto the prepared pans. They spread a tiny bit, so leave a bit of space between them, approximately 2″ apart.
9. bake for 5 minutes; then rotate the pan in the oven and bake for another 4 minutes. the cookies will puff up and have a crackled appearance, yet will still be pliable and soft.
10. remove from oven and let rest on cookie sheet for approximately 15 minutes.
11. remove cookies from tray and and transfer cookies to wire rack for remainder of cooling.

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for the gluten-free crowd…

September 28th, 2014 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary | No Comments »

i have a number of friends who have been dealing with gluten-free lifestyles, and i’ve found myself apologizing more than once for the heavy gluten influence in most of my baked goods. this weekend, i met a lovely new friend who happens to have both a gluten-free and vegetarian palate, and i wanted to send her home with some baked goods to thank her for her help. alas, my usual repertoire of baked goods just wouldn’t do. so, i scoured the internet to find something that would meet her needs and be tasty – and i think i hit the mark with this variation of gluten-free and vegan brownies. they didn’t have the grit or dryness that past attempts at gluten-free desserts had, and the chocolate didn’t taste chalky. still not perfect, but better than earlier tries, so i’ll call this a ‘win’! i played around with this recipe a bit, but the original must be credited to oh she glows a recipe site that often has some really great ideas with twists to conventional recipes.

gluten-free & vegan brownies

ingredients
1.5 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water, whisked
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp brown rice flour
1.5 cups almond flour (i use bob’s red mill – it has the best consistency of almond flours)
2 tbsp arrowroot powder
3.4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp butter
1 cup baker’s sugar
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup non-dairy chocolate, divided
1/4 cup (full fat) almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

instructions
1. preheat oven to 350F. grease a 9 inch square pan.
2. in a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax and water and set aside.
3. in a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flours, arrowroot, cocoa, salt, baking soda).
4. in a large microwave safe bowl, add chocolate and butter and melt in microwave for about 20-30 seconds until melted. Stir well and add in flax egg, sugar, vanilla, and milk. Whisk.
5. pour wet mixture over dry mixture and stir well. this mixture will be very dry, but that is the way it should be.
6. fold in the walnuts and remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips.
7. using a silicon spatula, scrape batter into prepared pan. Spread with hands or a pastry roller until smooth and even.
8. bake for 35 minutes at 350F and allow brownies to cool in pan for about 1.5 hours. let brownies cool in their baking pan and on a wire rack for at least 90 minutes.
9. separate edge of brownie from pan with a butter knife and place on a cooling rack. cool completely before attempting to cut them.
10. store in an air-tight container for no more than 2 days.

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buttery almond cookies

December 5th, 2013 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary | No Comments »

these rich almond cookies are out-of-this-world, and worth every calorie of every bite! the almond paste really adds to both the flavor and the texture, so it’s worth getting the good stuff, even though it’s a bit pricey!

buttery almond cookies

ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup shortening (i use unflavored crisco solid)
8 ounces almond paste
1 1/3 baker’s sugar (you can substitute granulated sugar here with no change to taste or texture)
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

instructions:
1. preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. in your mixer, cream butter, shortening, almond paste and sugar until well blended and creamy
3. add egg. mix well.
4. add flour and baking soda to creamed mixture. run mixer on low to incorporate the dry ingredients until well-blended.
5. Roll into 1/4″ balls and place 1 1/2″ apart on ungreased, parchment-lined baking sheets.
6. bake at 400 degrees for approximately 8-9 minutes, until cookies are very lightly browned.
7. remove to wire rack for cooling
8. enjoy!!
yield: approximately 6 dozen cookies.

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56 days and counting…

October 30th, 2013 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary | No Comments »

with 56 days until the big man in red arrives, we’d better start thinking about some holiday-related cookieness. which means cookie swaps. and cookies as perfect gifts. and of course, we can’t forget cookies for santa. and the reindeer.

i’m thinking this is the week to start herding all your friends and relatives and setting up those cookies swaps. i’m thinking i’ll do at least one at work, and i’ll spend some time this week trying to coerce, um, i mean pleasantly inquire about who’s in. a good cookie swap becomes a great cookie swap if you include at least 15 other cookie bakers, and you plan a fun evening for the swap that involves cookies, festive drinks, holiday tunes, and of course at least one person wearing an awful looking rudolph sweatshirt. be sure everyone brings at least enough cookie bags for the swap, as well as one additional for everyone to munch on that evening. and, if you want to give back a bit, why not add an extra bag or two and then take that extra batch over to the local senior home or to a shut-in that might enjoy some holiday cheer?

great swap cookies are anything ginger or spice-like, any family favorites (remember, if your family eats and loves them, then they are certain to be a huge hit in the swap!) and of course some chocolate. but of course, chocolate is a pre-requisite for any cookie platter, not just for cookie swaps – because who doesn’t love chocolate?

any of the cookie blogger recipes work well for swaps, but i especially love ginger shortbread stars, almond snowballs, and pizzelles, all of which are my ‘go-to’ recipes for cookie swaps. everyone raves, and everybody’s happy! and that’s what a cookie swap is all about!

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scandinavian almond cake

April 30th, 2011 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary | No Comments »

okay, so this is not a cookie. but lately, i’ve been on an almond kick, and living in ballard, it seemed only fitting to give this scandinavian almond cake a whirl, in homage to all the fine scandinavian folk residing here. i don’t have a true scandinavian almond cake pan (who even knew such a thing existed?) so i just used a loaf pan and it worked out perfectly fine. a tender, but firm crumb, topped with an abundance of sliced almonds – well, it’s pure almond perfection in a loaf. with a cup of strong coffee, well, this might be the perfect breakfast treat.

one more wonderful thing about this cake — it freezes well, so why not make two today. eat one now and save one for later!

cake
scandinavian almond cake
ingredients:
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup baker’s sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons almond extract
2/3 cup milk (I use 2%, which works fine)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
powdered sugar (optional)

instructions:
1. preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. place sliced almonds in a layer in a shallow pan, toasting them for approximately 10 minutes until slightly browned. be sure to move them around a bit while they’re toasting, to insure even browning.
3. cream together butter and sugar until light.
4. add egg, almond extract and milk
5. sift together flour and baking powder; stir into wet ingredients until very well-blended.
6. lightly coat an almond cake pan (or a 9×4 loaf pan, which works just fine) with cooking spray
7. sprinkle toasted almonds on bottom of pan, then scoop batter on top. be sure to spread out the batter evenly over the top of the almonds.
8. bake about 40 minutes, until cake is golden brown and pick inserted in center comes out clean.
9. let cake cool completely in pan before removing. if you attempt to remove it before it is completely cooled, the cake will break into pieces. take my word on this.
10. sprinkle lightly with sifted confectioner’s sugar (optional)
yield: about 12 slices

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almost, but not quite, conti’s cookies…

November 28th, 2010 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary | No Comments »

so, many of my regular readers are familiar with my quest to figure out the chocolate sprinkle cookie recipe from conti’s pastry shop in the bronx. i have been eating these cookies since i was a young girl, and now that i’m 3000 miles away, i’ve been desperate to figure out the recipe so i can make those cookies while i’m here in seattle.

well, tonight i think my quest may be inching closer to an ending! i have finally developed a recipe that is very, very close in texture to conti’s, though still not the same flavor. but, the flavor is the easy part!! these, as posted, are quite good in their own right! and they look lovely on cookie trays, because you can use your cookie gun to create any shape you wish! I used the flower disc and added chocolate sprinkles!

almond butter cookies
ingredients:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of finely ground sea salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

instructions:
1. preheat oven to 325 degrees. line baking sheets with parchment and butter the parchment paper (this will make it easier for your cookie dough to ‘stick’ to the parchment when you’re dispensing it from the cookie press)
2. in a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. stir to combine.
3. in your electric mixer, beat butter, confectioners sugar, almond extract and vanilla extract until creamy and fluffy.
4. add dry ingredients to butter combo, mixing until well combined.
5. fill cookie press and begin squeezing cookie dough out onto the baking sheet, leaving approximately 1″ between cookies. sprinkle each cookie with chocolate sprinkles (or coarse sugar or chopped nuts).
6. bake until lightly browned, 15-17 minutes.
7. remove from oven and let cookies set on baking sheet approximately 8 minutes.
8. remove cookies from baking sheet and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
enjoy!
yield: approximately 26 cookies

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lemon thumbprint cookies

November 27th, 2010 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary | No Comments »

what can i say about a cookie that has the tang of lemony goodness in both the cookie and the filling? with an infusion of pure lemon oil in the cookie dough and a rich, creamy lemon curd as the filling, these cookies are as tasty as they are pretty to look at! be sure to either use your own homemade lemon curd, or a top of the line curd such as DIckinson’s for the best flavor as well as superior spreading ease!

lemon thumbprint cookies
ingredients:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons pure lemon oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
coarse white sugar

instructions:
1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. in a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch and salt.
3. with your mixer, beat the butter and confectioners sugar together until pale yellow and fluffy.
4. add lemon oil and vanilla, beating until well incorporated.
5. slowly add flour mixture into butter mixture, just until the dry ingredients have been incorporated. this create a soft dough.
6. with your #50 scoop (approximately 1 tablespoon), take a scoop of dough and roll into a ball. dip into the coarse white sugar, completely covering the dough ball. re-roll and repeat dipping into the sugar.
7. place on your prepared pan, leaving approximately 1 1/2 inches between each mound of dough.
8. press a thumbprint into the center of each cookie. (i use the handle end of my largest wooden spoon and it works very well!)
9. bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes, turning the pan 1/2 rotation at 7 minutes, so cookies will bake evenly.
10. remove from oven and re-press thumbprints in center before cookies set. let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes. after 10 minutes, remove cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
11. when cookies are completely cooled, use a small spoon or offset spatula to fill the cookie holes with lemon curd. the curd should lie flat against the top surface of the cookie, not mounded out of the thumbprint.
enjoy!
yield: approximately 40 cookies.

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hey! this is not a cookie!

October 5th, 2010 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary | No Comments »

it’s true, i am straying from cookies today, only because i got such a strong reaction to this delicious zucchini bread, and the requests for the recipe have been pouring in from all angles – family, friends, co-workers. so, to keep everyone happy, and to help you get rid of the last of your summer zucchini (just how many zucchini casseroles can one make?!), i pass along this recipe.

it’s truly one of the most flavorful recipes for zucchini bread i’ve ever tried – and it’s moist even a few days after baking, if it lasts that long! the orange oil adds a special kick, and the scents in your kitchen while baking are truly intoxicating! just be sure to wait to eat it until it has cooled down and been chilled a bit in the fridge – this step really makes a difference!

orange-y zucchini bread with chocolate chips and walnuts
ingredients:
3 eggs
2 cups baker’s sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange oil
2 cups grated zucchini (squeezed of some of it’s moisture)
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground vietnamese cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups 60% cocoa chocolate chips (or any dark chocolate chips)

instructions:
1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 9×5 pans.
2. sift together your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg)
3. in your mixer, beat the eggs until light and fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.
4. add baker’s sugar and beat until well combined with eggs.
5. add vegetable oil, orange oil, zucchini, vanilla extract and orange zest. mix until just combined.
6. stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.
7. divide dough evenly between your two prepared pans.
8. bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes until metal skewer inserted in middle of loaf comes out clean.
9. remove from oven and let loaves sit in their pans cooling for approximately 15 minutes.
10. remove to wire racks and cool completely.
11. wrap in foil and chill in refrigerator for not less than 4 hours.

yield: 2 loaves

serving suggestion: slice and heat briefly in microwave, then spread with cream cheese! yummy!!

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