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Turtle Cookies

10 Mar


I made these cookies as a special treat for some folks who went above and beyond in their recent generosity and kindness. And…maybe I kept a few for myself. Trust me, you would have too! These cookies are out of this world delicious. The base is a rich chocolate cookie dough that is rolled in finely chopped pecans. Once baked, you make a caramel topping to fill in the little cookie crater on top. Then you can drizzle some melted chocolate on top – totally optional, but it serves as a nice finishing touch. You can use the famous turtle flavors of chocolate, caramel, and pecans in so many tasty ways but this is my current favorite!

Turtle Cookies

For the cookie:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated, plus 1 additional egg white
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups pecans, finely chopped

For the caramel topping:
14 soft caramel candies (I used Kraft Traditional Caramels)
3 Tbsp heavy cream
For the chocolate drizzle (optional):
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 tsp shortening

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

To prepare the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt; set aside. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk, milk, and vanilla; mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour. Whisk egg whites in a bowl until frothy. Place chopped pecans in another bowl. Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls, dip in egg whites, and then roll in pecans.  Place balls about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Using a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, make an indentation in the center of each dough ball. Bake until set, about 12 minutes.

To prepare the caramel filling: Microwave caramels and cream together in a small bowl, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Once cookies are removed from the oven, gently re-press the indentations.  Fill each indentation with about 1/2 teaspoon of the caramel mixture. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To prepare the chocolate drizzle (optional): Place chocolate and shortening in a small zip-top plastic bag. Set bag in a bowl of warm water to soften. Gently knead the chocolate with your fingers until melted and smooth, placing back in the warm water for a minute or two as needed. (or you can microwave the chocolate and shortening in the bag, a little at a time, until it’s soft and combined) Snip a very small hole in the corner of the plastic bag. Drizzle chocolate over the cooled cookies.

Source: The Kitchen Is My Playground

Glazed Pumpkin Spice Cookies

24 Feb


Apparently I really stocked up on canned pumpkin last fall – I found a few cans in the cabinet recently and suddenly craved a pumpkin spice treat. I found this cookie recipe that sounded amazing and it didn’t disappoint! The cookies are soft and chewy, just the way I like them. The glaze is originally made with maple syrup but I happened to have some gingerbread syrup (like the kind you put in coffee) and gave that a try instead. Delicious!

I could eat pumpkin flavored things all year round, no hesitations. Go ahead and use up that extra can of pumpkin or if it’s too soon in your book, squirrel this recipe away for the fall!

Glazed Pumpkin Spice Cookies

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

For the glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp gingerbread syrup (or maple syrup)

Yield: 2 dozen

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium blow, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Slowly add in the flour mixture until just combined. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Drop or roll the dough by the Tablespoonful onto the pan, leaving 1 inch apart. Flatten the dough a little with your hand. Bake for 12-15 minutes and allow to cool on a rack.

For the glaze, whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Once the cookies are completely cool, dip the tops into the glaze and allow to set on a rack. Enjoy!

Source: Slightly adapted from Real House Moms

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

4 Feb

photo 2

I love learning new dessert skills and lately I’ve been wanting to venture more into the realm of cookie decorating. I see such impressive cookies on blogs and think, “Hey, maybe I can do that too!” Though I’m confident I can get there eventually, I feel like I have A LOT to learn and want to take it one step at a time for now. This weekend, I wanted to make a cute Super Bowl dessert, so got a simple football shaped cookie cutter, a recipe that looked easy enough, a basic decorating idea I could handle, and went for it!

photo 1

I wanted to bake a simple chocolate cut out cookie and make a small batch of royal icing to pipe on some basic football lines. I really liked this chocolate sugar cookie recipe – the dough was quick and easy to whip up, simple to work with, and the final product was delicious. The cookies have a great chocolate flavor and are a bit crisp but still have a nice chew to them, especially in the center. I actually got 4 dozen cookies out of the recipe which was way more than I needed! I halved the royal icing recipe that was included on the original page (see link below) since I only needed to do simple piping. Overall, these turned out great and I can’t wait to try my hand at some more!

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Yield: Up to 4 dozen (depending on cookie size)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.

In the bowl of your mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough.

Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.

Remove one half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking.

Bake cookies for about 10-12 minutes (depending on size) or until they are firm around the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost with royal icing, if desired. Be sure that the frosting on the cookies dries completely before storing. (This may take several hours) Frosted cookies will keep several days in an airtight container. Store between layers of parchment or wax paper.

Source: Joy of Baking

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

13 Aug


When planning my bakes for a recent birthday, I was told that they liked the classics – chocolate chip cookies and brownies. So instead of making the usual variety, I decided to combine the best of both worlds and make chocolate chip cookie brownies! I figured I wasn’t the first person to think of this concept, and sure enough, I found a great recipe.

These were a huge hit! The brownie layer was nice and gooey and the chocolate chip cookie layer was chewy and rich. It totally made me think of those recent commercials where they discuss choosing one or the other, like sweet OR sour chicken, or staying at a bed OR breakfast – why not both? Indeed, cookies or brownies – why not both? Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

For the cookie layer:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the brownie layer:
5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp instant espresso powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Yield: 12 brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch pan with foil, letting it extend up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. Spray the foil with non-stick spray.

To make the cookie layer: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips and set aside.

To make the brownie layer:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder; set aside. In a large mixing bowl set over simmering water, stir together chocolate, butter, and espresso powder until completely melted and smooth. Keeping the bowl over the water, turn off the heat and add the sugar. Whisk until completely combined. Remove the bowl from the pan and cool slightly. Once the chocolate mixture is cool, add the egg and vanilla and whisk until combined.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just combined. (a bit of the flour mixture should still be visible) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Using your hand to form clumps, distribute the cookie dough onto the top of the brownie batter in teaspoon-sized clumps, using all of the dough.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cookie layer is set and lightly browned. Place the pan on a wire rack and let the brownies cool completely. Cut into squares and serve.

Source: Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Bourbon Blondie Bars

14 Jun


I’ve had these bars on my mind for a while now and just happened to have them on National Bourbon Day! What an awesome coincidence – I seriously had no idea. This recipe comes from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, which was a gift from a lovely friend of mine from her last trip to Savannah, GA. Besides visiting The Lady and Sons and innocently stalking Paula Deen, this is the one of the main places I’m dying to go when I hopefully visit the town of Savannah someday. The whole cookbook is full of amazing cakes, cookies, and more.

I decided to swap the chocolate chips for pretzel pieces, to give it even more of a sweet and salty crunch. I also added a touch of cinnamon, which I thought would blend well with the bourbon. When I tasted the bars last night, the bourbon was noticeable but not super strong. But I guess these are one of those things that ages well, because I swear the bourbon is MUCH stronger today! But no complaints here. 🙂

Bourbon Blondie Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp bourbon
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pretzels

Yield: 12 large or 24 small bars

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2 baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Put the melted butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and stir until smooth and combined. Add the eggs, vanilla, and bourbon, mixing until thoroughly combined. Add the flour mixture and mix together. Then add the pecans, coconut, and pretzel pieces and mix together until fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula until it’s evenly distributed. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Cut the blondies into bars and enjoy! They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 days.

Source: Adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Diva Cookies

2 Dec


I’ve named these sassy cookies “Diva Cookies” because well, just look at them! Sparkly hot pink bottoms with a zebra striped top. Total diva!

These cookies have made an appearance at two special events – my lovely friend’s bachelorette party and a coworker’s baby shower that had a pink/zebra theme. Even though they look super snazzy, these treats are so easy to make. It’s basically a peanut butter blossom cookie rolled in colored sugar and topped with a Hershey’s Hug, rather than a Kiss.

I started thinking of all the fun color and flavor combos that could be used with this style of cookie. Like right now, with Hershey’s dark chocolate mint, milk chocolate cherry cordial, and candy cane kisses. So be prepared, this diva cookie might come back again in other festive forms!

Diva Cookies

1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pink food coloring
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup colored sugar for decoration
2 (9 ounce) bags Hershey’s Hugs, unwrapped

Yield: About 80 cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat.

In a large bowl, cream together shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Mix in milk, vanilla, and a few drops of food coloring. (either liquid or gel coloring)

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add to the peanut butter mixture until well blended. Add more food coloring as needed, if you want a brighter color.

Shape tablespoonfuls of dough into balls, and roll in the colored sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately press a Hershey’s Hug into each cookie. Allow to cool completely; the kiss will harden as it cools. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Source: Cookie recipe slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction

Semi-Homemade Treats

2 Aug

Hey folks! Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while – I was out of town for a bit and have needed a little break from the blogosphere. I was also recently busy baking 100+ cupcakes for an event and still needed to make desserts for two coworkers birthdays. So instead of buying a totally premade treat, I decided to make some semi-homemade desserts that were quite impressive.

My first request was a chocolate dessert and the other asked for something red velvet with cream cheese. For the chocolate lover, I used a Devil’s Food cake mix, added a few ingredients, and made some delicious chocolate crinkle cookies with extra powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

As for the red velvet fan, I used a Red Velvet cake mix, added the same extra ingredients, and created some mini whoopie pies. I had some leftover cream cheese frosting that I piped in the middle to add that classic component. (but you could use store bought too!)

Both desserts went over great and everyone thought they were totally made from scratch. Plus, you can use any cake flavor your heart desires. So if you’re in a bind and need to bake something quick, give these recipes a shot!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
18.25 oz box Devil’s Food Cake Mix
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Yield: 18-20 cookies

Preheat oven to 375°F and line two cookie sheets with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Place powdered sugar in a shallow bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine butter, eggs, and cake mix until there are no large lumps left.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls (about 1 Tbsp worth of dough) and coat in powdered sugar. Place on cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches for spreading.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the tops have cracked and the tops look set (the centers will still be gooey). Let sit for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Sprinkle with more powdered sugar if wanted. Serve warm or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Source: The Novice Chef Blog

Mini Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
18.25 oz box Red Velvet Cake Mix
Cream cheese frosting (bought or homemade)

Yield: 24 mini whoopie pies

Preheat oven to 375°F and line two cookie sheets with a silicon mat or parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine butter, eggs, and cake mix until there are no large lumps left.

Roll dough into small balls and place on cookie sheets, leaving about an inch for spreading. Bake for 6-8 minutes and let set for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack until completely cooled.

Match cookies with like sizes and pipe cream cheese frosting on the bottom of one cookie. Sandwich the other cookie to make a whoopie pie and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Source: Recipe & method slightly adapted from The Novice Chef Blog