Tag Archives: cookies

Caramel Apple Cider Cookies

7 Nov

I made these the week before my big birthday cupcake fest, after I made that pumpkin blondie cake for the second time. I needed something to do with the leftover frosting from that, and I felt that these cookies would be a very suitable match for it. They were fun to make, and actually a little difficult. I couldn’t find the cider mix that the original recipe called for, so I had to improvise a little bit. All I could find was CARAMEL flavored apple cider mix in a big container, so I bought that. Although the mix did smell very apple-y, I was worried that there would end up being too much caramel flavor, since the mix wasn’t supposed to even BE flavored. So I didn’t really measure out the mix, I just kept pouring it into the batter until it tasted good enough to me. I regret not adding more flavor than I did, though. The batter tasted SO much like apples that I was getting worried, but the flavor actually mellowed a lot during the baking process, and I was left wanting more of the apple flavor that had disappeared. To fix it, I actually sprinkled some of the cider mix on top of the icing, which fixed it quite nicely!

Caramel Apple Cider Cookies with Cinnamon-Vanilla Frosting
(From HERE – makes about 4 dozen)

What you need:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (7.4 ounce) box Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink Mix (*not sugar free*)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14 ounce) bag Kraft Caramels, unwrapped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, and spray with cooking spray. The melted caramel WILL stick to it.

2. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.  With an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, salt and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined.

3. Scoop out cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut (about 2 tablespoons).  Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Shape the dough into a ball, and place on parchment covered cookie sheets about 3 inches apart. Cookies will be on the larger side.

4. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. Once the cookies are done, carefully slide the parchment or silpat off of the baking sheet right out onto the counter.  Allow cookies to cool on the parchment paper until they are only slightly warm, but cool enough to handle and not fall apart. I used a spatula to separate my cookies from the foil I used (because I was out of parchment paper), since the caramel was so sticky.

5. While cookies cool, prepare the frosting.

6. Allow cookies to finish cooling upside down, either on the parchment paper, a rack, or wherever else you’d like. When cookies are completely cool and the caramel in the bottom no longer gooey or sticky, turn them over and ice them!

We took these to our Ultimate game that night and shared them with both teams. Everyone loved them. My biggest complaint, though, is the caramel in the middle. While it DOES melt a bit during the baking process, once the cookies cooled, it hardened back up. If I make these again I will need to figure out how to keep it from hardening again. I felt especially bad, because we’d left them sitting in the cold while we played our 2 hour game, so when we handed them out, the caramel was kind of like a giant rock right in the center, and very hard to chew through. We took the leftovers home, and after sitting in our warm apartment, the caramel had loosened again to be edible, at least. So if you plan on taking these to an event, I suggest keeping them as warm as possible for as long as possible!

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My New Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

12 Oct

I feel like I’ve just been going crazy with the cake batter lately, but I can’t help it. Those truffles were so good, and cake batter is, after all, one of the most delicious things ever; I tend to enjoy it more than the actual baked cakes, most of the time. And maybe that has to do with the nostalgia that flows in with memories of my sister and I baking with my mom growing up. I would plot ways in which I could empty the batter into the baking pan whilst leaving as maximum an amount as possible left for us to eat. But yes… regardless of the reason, it is a flavor I not only find immensely delicious, but am deeply attached to as well, and so whenever the chance arrives to combine the flavor with any other equally delicious baked goods, I jump at it.

Enter these Cake Batter Cookies I found the other day. THEY. ARE. PHENOMENAL. My favorite part about them? Is it how freaking amazingly they taste exactly like cake batter? Is how they somehow managed to develop a nice, perfect cookie-textured “crust” on the outside, while being soft and fluffy like a cake on the inside? As awesome as both of those things are… the answer is no.

My FAVORITE thing about these cookies is their simplicity. While I do enjoy on occasion experimenting in being a ‘foodie’ and trying out seemingly complex dishes with often ‘obscure’ ingredients, I cannot help but relish in simple recipes as well. I feel like, when I was growing up, there was a big to-do over completely homemade vs. boxed treats. When I was in high school, I remember what the mom of my boyfriend at the time said to me: “It really doesn’t matter if the cake you make comes from a box or not. So what if you use flour and sugar, you just end up with the exact same thing anyway.” And for the most part, I think she’s right. And I firmly believe there should be no shame in baking with pre-boxed ingredients. I found a baking blog the other day containing what seem to me very difficult recipes (which are fun to indulge in for special occasions and the like). I look forward excitedly to trying some of them out (there are a few of her cupcake recipes I’m considering tackling for my husband’s birthday at the end of this month!), but more often than not, many people want something that tastes fabulous while not taking a ton of time to make. And that’s where these cookies come in. 5 ingredients. 30 minutes TOPS start to finish. Cookie texture with the delicious cake taste. It really does not get much better than this.

Cake Batter Cookies
(via Stephanie Cooks via All Recipes)

What you need:

  • 1 (18.25 oz.) box Yellow Super-Moist Cake Mix
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips (I actually use the Ghirardelli Milks Chocolate Chips and I am never disappointed with them)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cake mix and baking powder. Add eggs and oil, then mix until well blended.

3. Stir in chocolate chips, or your choice of additions. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets.

4. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

The woman at Stephanie Cooks said the batter was crumbly and not smooth for her, but I did not have this problem at all. In fact, I encountered quite the opposite (as you can probably tell from the picture). My dough was VERY smooth, so much so I was worried it would be too smooth and not cook like a cookie. I think I ended up cooking them for 11-12 minutes out of fear of that, but once they settled and cooled off, they developed that external cookie shell that they needed (while still being fluffy and cake-y on the inside), and turned out PERFECTLY!

The other thing I love about this recipe, as with most cake batter recipes, is the versatility. You could ice these if you wanted to, to add even more authentic ‘cakeness’ to them. Or you can use ANY cake mix for any flavor you want. Other ones I VERY much look forward to trying to make are:

  • Red Velvet + White Chocolate Chips
  • Strawberry + White (or dark) Chocolate Chips
  • Lemon + White Chocolate Chips (or no chocolate chips!)
  • Chocolate + White/Milk/Semisweet/Dark Chips

I mean, you get the idea. The list is extensive, so feel free to play around with it! Let me know if you try any other fun combinations, and how they turn out!

My NOT favorite but still pretty good chocolate chip cookie~

10 Oct

I came across the recipe for these on Pinterest and was instantly amazed. The picture for them looked like no cookie I’d ever seen before, all smooth, mired with chocolate; the sugary landscape boasted perfect hills and valleys that begged to be dug into. They also seemed so exotic, being made with bread and pastry flours instead of the typical all-purpose flour. Even from my own picture, you can see the cracks, nooks, and crannys. They have a look no other cookie I’ve ever made has (which is due in large thanks to the variant in flours).

I was NOT originally going to post these, as they were definitely a big experiment for me. It was my first time baking with flours other than all-purpose flour. Sadly, I’ve never made bread, and I’ve never made cakes or any other treat from pastry flour, as it’s probably intended for. But I figured, why not post it anyway? That’s part of the point of this blog – to grow, and document my growth as a baker and chef. Writing about the recipes and process I go through encourages me to research and allows me to reflect on what works, what doesn’t, and how/where I can improve. Experiments, more so than complete successes, should be shared more excitedly, I think! I’m not the first to experiment and not completely succeed! That’s where the growing part comes in 😉

I have a love/hate relationship with these cookies. They were both at once the worst AND best cookies I’ve ever made. The secret lies largely in the chocolate you use, and in the baking time.

I found the recipe here, at The Tender Crumb, but it is a recipe belonging to the quite famous baker, Jaques Torres. You can find a fascinating discussion of cookies here at the New York Times, where they exalt this recipe as being the best cookie recipe ever created (and it took the collaboration of a few of the best bakers around to create). In the article, Torres discusses the fine and elaborate details that go into his cookie making, with one thing standing out especially large against my own process (ok, many things, really, seeing as I am nowhere near professional caliber, but you get the idea): the chocolate. Torres, instead of using chocolate chips, uses softer, more malleable chocolate chunks of special chocolate generally used to cover truffles and the like. Inside the cookie, instead of holding a chunky shape, this chocolate melts into streamlined ribbons, which flow beautifully throughout the cookie. While I took the advice over at the Tender Crumb blog and opted for chunks of chocolate, it still was not enough. Perhaps I should have melted my chocolate a little bit beforehand to help it out during the baking process? I just don’t know. Regardless, my own cookies held their chunk shape strong and refused to melt into such silky lines as others experience. I think I will have to try a different chocolate as well, if I were to make this again. I just used Ghirardelli bars, because those were what I had lying around, which i hand broke into pieces that I tossed in, but it wasn’t enough. So beware, if you plan on making these, and you ACTUALLY want them to be the best cookie ever, I highly suggest you study that NYT article thoroughly, heed the advice present, and do NOT skimp out when it comes to the chocolate. It makes the difference.

For me, this recipe made… a ton of small cookies. And I mean.. a ton. I think it made almost 100, if not more. I snacked on them as each batch came out of the oven. Directly out of the oven, they were alright. The first batch cooled, and hardened, and my adoration for them ceased completely. With every batch, I baked them less and less because they kept coming out too crispy. And in all honesty, the really krispy ones ACTUALLY tasted kind of like a knock-off Chips A-Hoy cookie! So if you love Chips A-Hoy cookies, go ahead and bake these to your content of crispiness. But do beware, they don’t LOOK like they’ll get crispy after cooling, but they do. These do a lot of settling after they bake. But yeah, so I baked for less each time, but after eating about 5 from the first few batches, I was unimpressed and refused to eat anymore of them. My husband liked them, but also said they weren’t the best thing I’ve ever made. So I brought them all out to our two Ultimate games to share with everyone, get a bit more feedback on, and  just generally try to get rid of, seeing as we were left with tons of them. Husband then took them to work, where more people loved and devoured them for more than I myself did. They were a success with everyone but me. After a few days, I decided to eat another one, pulling it from the box containing the last 3 batches I’d made, where I’d baked them for significantly less time than the first few I’d had.

THEY. WERE. AMAZING.

The outsides were crispy and the insides soft, and just… everything I had expected ALL of the cookies to be! And then I suddenly understood why everyone else liked them so much. In the end, they turned out pretty decent. Still not the best cookie I’ve ever had, but VERY good nonetheless.

Baking with different flours is intimidating at first when you’ve never done it, and for days I’d been trying to figure out what I had done wrong. Maybe I bought the wrong kind of bread or pastry flour without noticing? Perhaps I had messed up the quantities? All-purpose flour is comforting – you know you can’t go wrong unless you just can’t count. But after enjoying one of the last cookies, I realized it was probably nothing. I just baked them too long for their small size, and should’ve utilized better chocolate.

If you’re willing to experiment and have some fun and try something exciting and new, I greatly recommend this recipe to you. However, if you’d rather stick to a more comfortable zone, then I suggest you skip and this and try the cookie recipe I am going to post here soon that I made yesterday: Cake Batter Cookies! Now THOSE are easily the best cookies I’ve ever had, and by far were the EASIEST and quickest to make. But for now, I present:

The New York Times Best Cookie Recipe
Makes twenty-six 5-inch cookies or 8 1/2 dozen 1 1/4-inch cookies.

What you need:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

4. Reduce speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.

5. Using a 4-ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

6. Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and about 15 minutes for smaller cookies. Note: MY cooking time, for my what-seem-like-super-tiny cookies, perfected somewhere around 8-10 minutes.

7. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Have fun! And feel free to share your own trials and tribulations with this recipe, or any other amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe you love! I also have a pudding cookie recipe that is amazing and I must post someday soon~!

Need S’more Fall Recipes!

2 Sep

It’s FALL, my FAVORITE time of the year!! I adore the holiday season, the festive orange and brown hues, the pumpkins, the scents – heck, everything! I cannot get enough of this time of year, really. And I swear, I spend all year exercising so hard and staving off every pound possible in celebration of this fabulous quarter of the year, because this is the season that really packs on the pounds. The only thing I love more than decorating for the holidays, is baking for the holiday. And, thanks to Pinterest, not only has my womanly biological clock been severely ticking regarding the domestic sphere of life, but I’ve found a million AMAZING fall-flavored recipes, and I intend on trying to make as many of them as I possibly can.

I started with this one, because it was easy and I had everything on hand. And by easy, I mean smaller scale than the baking I did last week, which is difficult since I don’t have a kitchen aid mixer and although I work them out often, my arms still tire very easily having to handmix it all myself. SOMEDAY SOON THIS WILL CHANGE (once the budget recovers from wedding expenditures ;~;) Also, again, I fail and did not have my camera battery charged. Therefore, the following delectable picture (and recipe) are not mine, and come from the blog I originally found them in, here.

Now, I’ve seen a lot of S’more Bar recipes, but this one really stood out to me. It just LOOKS amazing, in all it’s warm, gooey, melting glory. The one thing I never really cared much about involving S’more’s is the Graham Cracker. While I do enjoy the cinnamon-y taste, I just… don’t really like them all that much. This recipe, instead, incorporates graham cracker crumbs into the dough, so you get the best of both worlds (for me, at least): the delicious flavor of the graham crackers, but the soft texture of a typical cookie (perhaps even softer than cookies, more like a brownie). SO delicious! And so, without further wait:

S’mores Cookie Bars
(from Lovin’ in the Oven)

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 king-sized milk chocolate bars (e.g. Hershey’s)
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme/fluff (not melted marshmallows)
  • An exactly 8 x 8 square cooking pan

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.

3. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough. 2 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate (if necessary) to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick. Spread chocolate with marshmallow creme or fluff. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the fluff (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small shingles and laying them together).

4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 16 bars.

I think my pan was slightly bigger than 8×8, so I had a little bit of trouble working that half of the dough to cover the bottom of the pan, but eventually I made it work! Spreading that marshmallow cream out is the trickiest thing ever, and if anyone has any tips on working with that stuff, I am all ears. I ended up using almost the entire 13oz container, I think, Just to save myself the trouble (and, to be honest, the more marshmallow, the better)! I baked them for 30 minutes, and that was just enough time.

They’ve kept well uncovered for the past few days, and I’ve reheated them slightly each time we eat them. Husband took the rest of them to work today to get them OUT of our faces! So hopefully everyone there is enjoying them =) Now please excuse me while I go scarf down the very last one left! ;D