bailey’s irish shortbread

March 17th, 2017 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary Comments Off on bailey’s irish shortbread

happy st. pat’s day! as far as i know, i’m italian through and through, but irish or not, st. patty’s day really is for everyone. i’m not big on green foods like neon frosting or those odd little green cherries that folks put in fruitcake. ugh. but i did want to put a little ‘erin go bragh’ into today’s baking, so there’s nothing more irish to me than a good dose of bailey’s irish creme. the alcohol does burn off in the baking, but a mellow flavor lingers on in the cookie.

if you’ve ever been a bit apprehensive to make shortbread, this is a really great ‘first-timer’ recipe. it’s easy, bakes up well and really is quite tasty. and i hear if you eat one of these cookies on st. patty’s day, you’ll have the luck of the irish with you all year long. okay, perhaps that’s a bit of blarney…

a quick baking note: if you have a shortbread mold, by all means use it. if you don’t, as you’ll see in my photos (my only shortbread mold is christmas-themed. somehow that didn’t seem appropriate for march 17th!), feel free to use two 8″ round cake pans.

and if you don’t have any bailey’s in the house, or prefer to bake without the alcohol, just replace the irish creme with vanilla. the shortbread is still quite delicious!!

bailey’s irish shortbread

ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter, soft and room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons bailey’s irish creme liquor (or 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
2 cups all-purpose flour (i use king arthur flour)
1/2 cup white rice flour (i use bob’s red mill, finely ground)

instructions:

1. preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. prepare either your shortbread molds (as per your manufacturer’s instructions) or 2 8″ round cake pans, greased lightly.
3. cream your butter until smooth.
4. add sugar, salt and bailey’s (or vanilla), beating with the butter until smooth and fluffy.
5. add the flour and rice flour, beating just until smooth.
6. divide the dough into two round circles, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least one hour until well chilled.
7. when ready to bake, press each round of dough into the prepared pans, flattening with fingers, pie crust presser or offset spatula, until smooth and even in each pan. with a fork, liberally prick through the dough to prevent it from puffing up during baking. I used a deep set meat tenderizer, and added additional fork pricks. but i wasn’t being fussy about what the finished cookie looked like! i like a zillion dots! if you have more discriminating, artistic flair, feel free to use your fork to make lovely patterns!


8. place in oven, and bake until golden brown, usually about 35 minutes. About 20 minutes in, use your offset spatula to press down any areas that may be trying to puff up. Continue baking until golden brown.
9. remove from oven and cool in pans for 15 minutes. loosen the edges with your spatula, then turn molds/pans over onto a flat surface (i use a cutting board). tap the bottom and the whole cookie should pop right out.
10. while still warm, cut cookie into 16 slices (see photo above). i simply cut in half, and half again, until i have 8 cookie wedges, then cut each of the 8 in half again to make 16 cookies. there’s always some crumbs left behind – they are great on a bowl of ice cream!

yield: makes 32 cookies (or 16 wedges if you want to serve them as a dessert with a generous serving of ice cream atop each wedge!)

enjoy!

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oatmeal + raisins + cookies = chewy bits of bliss!

March 11th, 2017 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary Comments Off on oatmeal + raisins + cookies = chewy bits of bliss!

recently, i’ve become a big fan of raisins. it’s as though i’m craving iron. seriously, i don’t know the why of it, but they’re such a yummy snack all on their own, no? i’ve rarely baked with raisins because many of those who reap the benefits of my cookie baking are not big fans of the nutritious snack. well, today, dear readers, that has changed.

one of my husband’s delightful co-workers at the opera mentioned he liked a good chewy oatmeal raisin cookie, and i thought it was about time to make some and send hubby down with a bunch. i’d been researching recipes for awhile, and finally blended two that looked the most promising, to come up with today’s cookie adventure.

why not try these and tell me what you think?

chewy oatmeal raisin cookies

ingredients:

1 cup shortening (i used crisco solid / unflavored)
1 cup sugar (regular granulated sugar, not superfine baker’s sugar)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons vietnamese cinnamon
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups raisins

 

instructions:
1. preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack placed in the center of the oven. prepare cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper.
2. in your mixer bowl, combine the sugars and the shortening, creaming them until fluffy and light.
3. beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
4. add vanilla. mix well until combined.
5. add the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon to the creamed mixture, and beat just until combined. do not overmix.
6. stir in oats and raisins.
7. using your #30 scoop, place 1″ rounds of dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet, about 2″ apart. gently flatten each mound of dough with your fingers
8. bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. be careful not to overbake. the cookies will be soft and smooshy when they first come out of the oven, but will firm up a little bit while cooling. remove cookie sheet from oven and place entire sheet on wire rack for approximately 5 minutes. after 5 minutes, remove cookies from sheet to complete cooling on wire rack.
enjoy!

<yield: approximately 40 cookies>

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little puffs of snow!

January 2nd, 2017 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary Comments Off on little puffs of snow!

for beginner bakers, i always suggest trying out a meringue cookie early on in their experimenting! meringue cookies look like they should be difficult to make, yet they are easy-peasy, as long as you follow the instructions! they are also the perfect ‘end of baking day’ cookie, because you basically preheat the oven, prep the cookie trays, place the trays in the oven, turn off the oven and go to sleep. when you wake up the next morning, you’ll have beautifully baked meringues waiting to pop out of the oven!

you can certainly pipe these to make them look fancy, but as you can see by my photo, i just dropped them from a rounded teaspoon scoop. i like that they look like little ragged-edged puffs of snow. and they taste just as good whether they’re fancy or not! light as a feather, a bit sweet, and the perfect cookie for chocolate and walnut lovers alike!

i’d be remiss if i didn’t mention that the original recipe for these came from emeril lagasse on the food network site, but i tweaked some of the ingredients so these cookies would be a bit less sweet, and heavier on chocolate chips than walnuts. either emeril’s or my version will give you delightful results, so why not give them a try. you’ll thank me for it!



‘little puffs of snow’ meringue cookies

ingredients
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2/3 cup minus 2 teaspoons of superfine granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

instructions
1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. line your 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. with your stand mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. (make sure your mixing bowl is cool, dry and free of any oily residue.)
3. add the cream of tartar, beating until the egg white/cream of tartar mixture is fluffy. do not overbeat.
4. add the sugar gradually. 2-3 tablespoons at a time. when 1/2 of the sugar’s been added, add the vanilla extract.
5. continue adding the sugar in small increments until all the sugar has been added and is dissolved. your meringue should be very shiny, almost tight looking. it will form amazingly beautiful peaks at this time!
6. gently, gently, gently, fold in your chocolate chips and walnuts. do not overwork the batter!
7. with a teaspoon scoop, gently place your cookie dough onto your parchment-lined baking sheets. leave about 1″ of space between each mound of dough.
8. place baking sheets into the preheated oven, close the oven door and turn the oven off.
9. without opening the oven, leave the cookies in the oven for at least 2 hours, maximum 7 hours, or until cookies are crisp and dry.
10. enjoy!

yield: about 40 cookies

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chocolate spritz cookies to brighten your day!

November 5th, 2016 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary Comments Off on chocolate spritz cookies to brighten your day!

spritz cookies are delicate, tasty and easy to bake! add some cocoa to the mix, and you’ve elevated this simple cookie to the status of superstar. because, now it’s delicate, tasty, easy to bake — and it’s chocolate!!!

this is also a recipe with a yield of more than 80 cookies per batch, so it’s a good, quick, homemade chocolate fix.

a baker’s note: do not attempt to line your cookie sheets with parchment when you use your cookie press with this recipe. the cookies will cling much better to the bare metal pan. and there’s enough butter in the recipe to keep the cookies from sticking.

i’ll be curious to know what the cookieblogger nation thinks about these fabulous cookies! i’d love to hear from you, so please let me know!

chocolate spritz cookies


choco-spritz

ingredients:
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup baker’s white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (i use king arthur flour’ dutch process cocoa in this recipe and have never been disappointed!)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (king arthur flour creates a dough that’s a bit easier to handle through your cookie press than bob’s red mill or any of the other popular brands.)

instructions:

1. preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. beat butter using an electric mixer until light and creamy
3. add sugar, cocoa powder and baking powder, beating into butter until all four ingredients are well combined.
4. add egg and vanilla extract into your butter mixture, blending well (but be careful not to overbeat)
5. add flour. mix until combined.
6. fill your cookie press and press cookies (preferably with the flower disc) onto an ungreased baking sheet
7. add a chocolate chip into the center of your flower
8. bake for 8-10 minutes until cookies are set and edges start to lightly brown.
9. enjoy!!

yield: approximately 80 cookies

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it’s been a year…

October 7th, 2015 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary Comments Off on it’s been a year…

first off, i need to apologize to my faithful readers for my long-term absence these past months. 2015 has been quite the year, but i believe as surely as fall has arrived that i am on the mend and moving toward health and wellness. to make a very long story short, i went in for my annual mammogram at the end of january (go get your girls checked annually, my friends!) and was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. the months between that initial diagnosis and today were filled with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. i was surrounded by so much love and so much healing energy throughout my journey, and now, eight months later, i am feeling strong and optimistic! i continue with some ‘chemo light’ which will stay with me into 2016, but overall, life is returning to what i now coin as my ‘new normal’ and with that comes the promise of more baked goods. because, as we all know, baking cookies makes me feel good – and sharing cookies with others make the world a better place. and we could all use a more peaceful, more beautiful earth, no?

so, let’s get started again, shall we? into the kitchen we go…

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auntie barb’s almond snowballs

December 9th, 2014 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary Comments Off on auntie barb’s almond snowballs

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.
9. enjoy!

yield: approximately 70 cookies

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chewy fudgy cookies

December 2nd, 2014 thecookieblogger Posted in daily cookie diary Comments Off on chewy fudgy cookies

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 Comments Off on for the gluten-free crowd…

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 Comments Off on buttery almond cookies

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 Comments Off on 56 days and counting…

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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