Category Archives: Cookies

Oatmeal Pumpkin Cookies with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

On August 23rd we welcomed our beautiful son into the world. With a head full of hair and a smile that melts hearts, he has already changed my life in so many ways. There was no question in my mind that I would love him – but I honestly had no idea my heart was capable of SO MUCH MORE love! I’m just crazy about the newest little man in my life!

This sweet little boy who giggles in his sleep has completely re-prioritized my days (and nights, for that matter). For instance, here is an example of what my “to-do” list for Mondays use to look like:

  1. Sort Laundry
  2. Wash Laundry
  3. Create Weekly Menu
  4. Grocery Shop
  5. Deep Clean Kitchen
  6. Pick Up the Rest of the House
  7. Process Invoices from Last Week’s Customers
  8. Send Thank You’s to Last Week’s Customers

One of my favorite things to do is scribble big fat check marks next to completed tasks on my “to-do”. As you can imagine, it’s been hard for me these past several weeks to look down at my list at the end of the day and see so many boxes left unchecked. To help with this I had to modify my daily “to-do’s”, as I’m now well aware that as a new mother of a two-month old it’s just not possible for me to get as much done in a day as I was once capable of. So, here is my new pared down Monday “to-do” list:

  1. figure out what to eat today

Yesterday, as I was making these cookies one handed with a baby slung over one shoulder, I thought to myself, “You know, you could regain the satisfaction of checking off multiple items from a ‘to-do’ list if you just made a more realistic list”. And so I did. And here it is:

  1. Change diaper
  2. Feed baby
  3. Change diaper
  4. Feed baby
  5. Change shirt and ask yourself why you keep forgetting to grab burp rags before burping your baby
  6. Change diaper
  7. Pack diaper bag
  8. Rush in and out of grocery store as fast as you can
  9. Drive around a few extra blocks to see if you can lull your sweet adorable baby to sleep
  10. Tip-Toe into house, carefully remove baby from car-seat to bassinet for a nap
  11. Put away half of your groceries
  12. Change diaper
  13. Feed baby
  14. Put baby back down to finish nap
  15. Put away the rest of your groceries
  16. Prep dinner
  17. Feed baby
  18. Google “how much is a two-month old suppose to sleep during the day?” and “why isn’t my two-month old sleeping as much as other two-month olds?”
  19. Finish making dinner one handed with baby slung over one shoulder

Now THAT is a list I can zip through in a day!

OATMEAL PUMPKIN COOKIES WITH CHOCOLATE CHIPS AND WALNUTS

Last weekend I was able to spend some time with one of my very favorite friends (who happens to be an excellent baker). We enjoyed catching up over lunch and did a bit of shopping. She took me to a super cute boutique where I purchased a mustache pacifier for my son. Before I left, she gave me a loaf of her delicious and addictive chocolate-chip pumpkin bread. Working together, my husband and I had that loaf polished off by the following morning. And, as I sat there, saddened by the fact that the bread was gone, a thought crossed my mind – what if I tried to turn that tasty bread into a cookie? Is it even possible? Would that be a disaster? Or would they turn out awesome? The answers – Yes. No. And YES!  And they’re DELICIOUS.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2  cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4  cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup granulated sugar
  • 2  eggs
  • 2/3 c canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1-1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3  cups old fashioned oats, uncooked
  • 1-1/4  cups chocolate chips
  • 1-1/4 cups chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs and pumpkin; mix well.
  3. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in separate bowl. Add to pumpkin mix and combine. Add oats, nuts and chocolate chips; mix well.
  4. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 12 minutes or until light golden brown.

This recipe makes 48 cookies.

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WEEK 18 – Sticky Sweet Potato Cookies with Marshmallow Glaze

WEEK 18 was the first time I felt our baby move – or so I thought. Looking back now I know for sure that’s what it was. But at the time, I just didn’t know.  I mean, I was pretty confident that was the baby moving around in there. It felt like flutterings inside my belly and was certainly something I’d never felt before. But yet…

I kept thinking “maybe it’s something I ate?”. Perhaps. But, again, I’ve eaten a lot of things over my past 33 years and NEVER had I felt something like THAT before.

It was weird – in a fun way. And much lower in my belly than I expected it to be. And so very slight! If I wasn’t paying close attention, I’m sure I would have missed it.
The first movements that were quite noticeable that week happened during the first night of my church’s Easter Choir performance. It seemed as though our baby was moving around throughout the entire thing!  My assumption – our sweet little baby is going to be a singer him/herself.

It was ALMOST distracting. Each time I felt a flutter I’d get excited and stop paying attention to where we were in the music. Luckily, I had the program mostly memorized. And, I sing in the 2nd row, so I’m sure no one saw how many times I turned a page late.

Being a first time mom, it was an amazing thing to experience!  I’ve mentioned this several times already in this blog, but sometimes it’s still so hard to believe that this miracle has truly happened – we prayed for so long and waited for so long. And at times I still find myself wondering, “Are we really pregnant? Are we really going to be blessed with a baby in just a few short months? Are we this lucky?”  And at this point in my pregnancy I still didn’t have much of a belly, I was feeling much better (morning sickness was OVER), so there really wasn’t much of a change as far as I could see or feel. So it’s moments like these that really make it REAL! And I love each and every one of them!

In WEEK 18 our baby was about 5 1/2 inches long – about the length of a sweet potato. He/She was busy flexing his/her arms and legs (something I definitely felt!). Blood vessels were visible through thin skin and an ultrasound should be able to let us know if we’re having a boy or a girl. BUT – we’ve decided to wait and be surprised!

STICKY SWEET POTATO COOKIES WITH MARSHMALLOW GLAZE

So… Sticky Sweet Potato Cookies. You’re asking – “Why not sweet potato fries? Or sweet potato pie?”  I know. Jeff wondered the same thing. And here’s my answer – because I’m pregnant and I wanted COOKIES!  This is another recipe I threw together on a whim, using the Angeletti Cookie recipe as a base. And I’m really excited about this one!  The cookies are big and fluffy and moist with a very satisfying bite. Without the glaze they are lovely – a simple delicately flavored spiced sweet potato cookie that’s perfect for someone looking for a lightly sweetened cookie. However, once you pour on the marshmallow glaze they transform into a whole other cookie – sticky, sugary and perfect for someone looking for a sweet-tooth fix!  Last night, as Jeff and I devoured a plate of these amazing things, I said, “Don’t you think these cookies will be perfect for Fall? Or Thanksgiving?” He replied with “Why limit it to just one season? These cookies are awesome – they’re perfect for Fall, Spring, Summer, any holiday, Tuesdays…” and the list went on and on.

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2/3 c mashed sweet potato
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Glaze: 1/4 c marshmallow fluff, 1/2 cup powder sugar, 2 TBSP milk, 1 tsp lemon juice

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, eggs and cooled sweet potato until blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined (do not overmix).
  3. With floured hands or a scooper, roll level tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and the bottoms are pale golden, 10-11 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  4. Make glaze by combining all ingredients in a small bowl and mixing with a fork. Once cookies are cooled, dip the tops of each cookie in glaze, sprinkle with cinnamon, and set on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes. Tops will set, but will be sticky.

Makes: 13 large cookies

Blondies with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

I have a confession. I love Martha Stewart. I really do.

I know. You think she’s the devil. I say “Nay”.

Sure, back in 2001 she told a lie that landed her in jail – not a good thing. But, she did her time. (And yes, I own a shirt just like this one and loved to wear it back in the day.)

At one time in my life I had a subscription to each and every one of her magazines. Oh, those were the days… Now that we’re attempting to live a more frugal life, I’ve canceled all of my subscriptions. But I do look at her website frequently – especially around holidays and when I’m looking for a new recipe to try.

This recipe that I’m posting today is one of hers. And it’s fantastic. I promise, even if you don’t like Martha, you’ll love these.

BLONDIES WITH CHOCOLATE CHIPS AND WALNUTS

Ever find yourself in the mood to eat cookies but not in the mood for all of the work involved? You know what I mean… Mixing the dough, portioning it out onto cookie sheets, rotating them in the oven half-way through the cycle, transferring hot cookies to a cooling rack just so that you start over with the portioning, rotating and transferring over and over again… It can be exhausting at times. That’s why having a delicious bar cookie recipe comes in so handy. Mix the dough, plop it in a pan, put in the oven and WALK AWAY. Go read a book. Or catch up on a show. Or take a 45 minute nap. Whatever you like!

This recipe below is one of my all time favorites. As mentioned above, it’s one of Martha Stewart’s. I always double it and put it in a 9×13 pan. It makes thicker bars, which I love. And it makes MORE bars, which I also love. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8-inch square baking pan with butter; line pan with a piece of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix just until moistened (do not overmix). Fold in 1/2 cup each chocolate chips and walnuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and walnuts.
  3. Bake until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack, and let cool completely. Using parchment overhang, lift cake from pan and transfer to a cutting board; cut into 16 squares.

Monster Cookies

I’ve been asked before what makes my monster cookies so good.  My answer, of course, is I use quality monsters.  No generic or imitation monsters here. The trick is this – do your research. Make sure your monsters are authentic. It will say so right there on the label.  And never purchase monsters from North America… they’re all mass produced and have lost their edge.  In my opinion, the Icelandic and Alpine country monsters are the best. (It must have something to do with all of the Christmas candy stuffed children they eat…)  But, as it is with all of the highly sought after ingredients, they are harder to find.  In a pinch, the more readily available yet still delicious South American monsters will work just fine.

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MONSTER COOKIES

I love love love monster cookies and have tried several recipes over the past few years. Of them all, this one, by far, is my favorite. The cookies are nice and chewy.  The peanut butter flavor is spot on. And when I make them around a special holiday I like to color coordinate the M&Ms, just for fun. The recipe was given to me by a co-worker/friend from Make-A-Wish. They are flourless cookies, but they do contain oatmeal, so don’t assume these cookies are gluten free.  Cross-contamination is always a possibility because wheat is often grown in fields next to oat fields. So, be careful if you’re making these for someone with a gluten allergy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup margarine (or 2 sticks), softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3 cups peanut butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 9 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 pound candy-coated milk chocolate pieces (like M&M’s)
  • 1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, white sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs, two at a time, then stir in the corn syrup and vanilla. Mix in baking soda and oats until well blended. Stir in the chocolate candies and chocolate chips. Roll dough into 1.5 – 2 inch balls, and place 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Do not flatten with a fork, unless you like flat cookies.
  3. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven. I always rotate the pans halfway through because that’s what my mom taught me to do.
  4. Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes, before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes 72 cookies!!!

Nothing Rhymes with Orange Cookies

When I asked my husband to help me come up with a name for these cookies, here is how he responded:

1.  You should call them “F-ing awesome”.

2.  “Sunrise Cookies”, because it tastes like biting into a sunrise.

3.  “Orangettis”, because they’re based on the Angelletti cookie recipe.

4.  “Breakfast Cookies”, because they’re not as sweet as regular cookies and you could totally get away with eating them at breakfast.

5.  “Chocolate Chip Cookies”.  He gave no explanation for this, other than he thinks his creative bone may be broken.

Naming cookies is hard. You can either choose to go with the obvious – Cookies with Orange Zest and Glaze.  Or you can make up something ridiculous – The Cookie the Chicken Crossed the Road For.  I suppose I will just reserve the right to come back and rename this cookie sometime down the road when genius strikes.

NOTHING RHYMES WITH ORANGE COOKIES

Sweet, but not too sweet. Nice delicate natural flavors. Wonderfully satisfying. I’m pretty happy with this cookie. Based on the Angeletti Cookie.

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of two oranges
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for rolling the dough
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Glaze:

  • 1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 TBSP and 3/4 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, eggs and zests until blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined (do not overmix).
  3. With floured hands, roll level tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and the bottoms are pale golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  4. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice until the mixture forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more juice if necessary).
  5. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, rounded side up, on a rack set over a piece of parchment paper. Allow the glaze to set, about 20 minutes. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Peppernuts

Pfeffernüsse.  Pebernødder.  Päpanät.  Pepernoten.  Peppernuts.  Call them what you want.  I call them one of my favorite childhood Christmas cookies.

Peppernuts are a Dutch cookie, traditionally made early in December and given to children as a treat from Sinterlkaas.  And, while one may assume from the name that pepper is one of the main ingredients in this cookie, that is actually not the case.  The use of the word “pepper” refers to the spiciness of the cookie.  Our recipe, like most authentic recipes, has no pepper in the cookie at all.  However, nowadays there are a variety of recipes for peppernuts available, including some that do call for pepper.  But don’t waste you time and energy on those recipes.  Make this one!  Our recipe produces the tiniest, cutest, most delicious, crunchy, sweet little cookies you’ve ever had!

My mother used to make peppernuts when I was a kid. She loves to tell me about how when I was tiny, around 2 years old, I spent an evening running (or rather “waddling”) one peppernut cookie at a time from the kitchen to my dad in the living room where he was reading a book.  Each time I returned to the kitchen she says I would hold out my little hand and she’d put one of the tiny cookies in my fingers and then say, “Go take that to Daddy”. Adorable, isn’t it?  I don’t remember a Christmas as a child without them.

Before this Christmas I had never attempted to make peppernuts.  I knew full well how complicated they are to make and thought it would be best to go back home and make them with my mom, a peppernut professional, for my first time.  The recipe we have is one that was handed down to my mom from my dad’s mom.  As my mother and I made peppernuts this year she comically commented a handful of times on how time consuming they are to make.  “Christmas time is the only time of year anyone would ever WANT to make these cookies – it’s the only time you’re in a good enough mood!”  Peppernut making and baking is, indeed, a very long and labor intensive process, but I assure you, it’s time and energy well spent.  The aroma that fills the kitchen as the itty bitty cookies bake is exactly what Christmas should smell like – cloves, cinnamon, pecans and the rich aroma of buttery sugary holiday goodness.  And the end result – an addictive crunchy cookie that you’ll find hard to stop eating once you’ve started.  EVERYONE you share these cookies with will be SO glad you took the time to make and bake these little labors of Christmas love.

These sweet little cookies are so delicious and addictive that my dad would often times, before heading to work,  fill his coat pockets with peppernuts so that he could eat them throughout the day.

I filled a (smallish) bag up and munched on them the entire 1.25 hours home from my parents’ house and then begged my mom to bring more to McPherson so that Jeff and I could nibble on them during our even longer drive home from celebrating the holidays at my Grandmother’s house this year. They most certainly help the time fly by – that is a delicious fact.

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PEPPERNUTS

Ingredients:

  • ½ c margarine
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp soda dissolved in 1 ½ tsp hot water
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp powdered anise seed
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 ½ c flour
  • 1 ½ c very finely chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Cream together margarine and sugars.  Add egg and combine. Mix in soda that’s been dissolved in hot water.  Add the cream of tartar and spices (cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and anise).
  2. Blend flour into spice mixture. Stir in pecans.
  3. Roll into thin logs and place on a cookie sheet. Use a piece of wax paper to keep the logs from touching each other.  Chill for at least 3 hours.
  4. Slice into thin disks and bake on a cookie sheet at 325/350 for 10 minutes.

Mochaletti Cookies

Mocha-what-ie???

Ever wonder what would have happened if instead of making monsters, Dr. Frankenstein had been more interested in making cookies?

He would have taken part of one cookie, combined it with parts of other cookies, and then rather than being horrified with what he’d created he’d be bragging about it to everyone he knew.  Kinda like what I’m about to do…

Over the weekend I brought my idea of a S’Mores Thumbprint cookie to life by using one of my favorite go-to cookie recipes, the Angeletti Cookie.  And while I was making my first batch of chocolatey, graham cracker covered, marshmallow topped Angeletti-inspired cookies my husband said to me, “You know what would taste really good with this dough? Coffee.”

Coffee. What a beautiful and simple suggestion.  I didn’t want to add any coffee flavors to my S’Mores cookies, but instead thought we could skip the graham cracker coating and replace the marshmallow topping with a lovely coffee glaze.  And just like that, by taking the Angeletti cookie, the S’Mores Thumbprint cookie, and a simple glaze we created a new.. and wonderful… COOKIE!  Bwahahaha!!!

So far our cookie creations haven’t taken over our kitchen, threatening to do evil things to the pets or to us. So, I’m pretty sure we’ll have a sweet and happy-ever-after ending to our story.

MOCHALETTI COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • COOKIE –
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1  3/4  cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • GLAZE –
  • 1  1/3 c powdered sugar
  • 2  1/2 TBSP monstrously strong coffee

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, eggs and chocolate chips until blended. In another bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.  Combine with the butter/sugar mixture and stir until just combined.
  3. With floured hands, roll level tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  4. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and coffee until the mixture forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more coffee if necessary).
  5. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, rounded side up, on a rack set over a piece of parchment paper. Allow the glaze to set, about 20 minutes. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

S’Mores Thumbprint Cookies

s’More cookies, anyone?

Ever since I made those Cranberry Pecan Thumbprint Cookies my mind has been racing… What other fun and delectable flavor combinations are out there?  How many more thumbprints can I make?  While driving home from the grocery store yesterday this idea came to me: add cocoa powder and mini chocolate chips to the batter, roll dough balls in crushed graham crackers, and fill the thumbprint wells with marshmallows and more chocolate chips.  I was so excited!!!  It’s a miracle I didn’t get a speeding ticket as I rushed home to make a batch.

Actually, I was unable to bake any cookies last night due to my presence being required elsewhere.  So, my husband and I made our first batch this afternoon.  We were very scientific throughout the baking process.  We had varying ideas on how the cookies should be assembled.

  • Should we fill the wells before or after the cookies bake?
  • Should we include larger chunks of graham cracker in the wells or not?
  • Should we use mini marshmallows or regular marshmallows?

Let me assure you, we taste tested each and every option before assembling this recipe. Each and every one… We wanted to make sure we had the best possible product to present. That how much we care about you! (And also why we plan to hit the gym HARD tomorrow.)

Our conclusion: Including a large piece of graham cracker in with the marshmallow filling creates a fantastic crunch and give you an extra taste of graham cracker. So, yes – please.  Mini marshmallows – definitely.  They won’t over puff and cause you concern that you’ve just created Stay Puft Marshmallow Man’s twin brother in your oven. For prettier cookies, wait until you’ve baked the cookies to fill the wells.  Pull the cookies out at 7 minutes and re-indent them with the round end of a wooden spoon. This will give you the opportunity to work with well defined wells and will prevent your marshmallows and chocolate chips from going all over the place. Place back in the oven for 2 minutes to sufficiently melt the marshmallows and chocolate chips and to finish baking the cookies .   For tastier cookies, go ahead and fill the wells before baking. Yes, the centers will rise some and your mini marshmallow will look a bit wonky once you pull them out, but they’ll be nicely toasted and taste wonderful!

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S’MORES THUMBPRINT COOKIES

Be forewarned, the dough is de-lic-ious.  The more you eat, the fewer cookies you’ll actually make.  If you can resist eating any dough at all, you should be able to pull 16 cookies out of the oven with a single batch.  We doubled recipe (and ended up making another new cookie that I’ll be sharing with you tomorrow!)

Inspired by the Angeletti Cookie.

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1  3/4  cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • mini marshmallows
  • crushed graham crackers (about 3 full sheets)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, eggs and chocolate chips until blended. In another bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.  Combine with the butter/sugar mixture and stir until just combined.
  3. With floured hands, roll level tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and coat with graham cracker crumbs. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.
  4. Using your thumb or round end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in the middle of each cookie. Fill well with mini marshmallows, more mini chocolate chips, a chunk of graham cracker and then sprinkle with more graham cracker crumbs.
  5. Bake for 7-9 minutes. (See note above re: prettier vs. tastier cookies). Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  6. You may want to add more marshmallows and chocolate chips to fill in any gaps.

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Cranberry Pecan Thumbprint Cookies

Last weekend Jeff and I went on a Christmas Light tour with the some of the seniors at our church and our young adult group. We spent two weeks searching Kansas City to find the best light displays and ended up creating a 1.5 hour bus tour that included the Plaza lights, a wonderful street dubbed “Candy Cane Lane“, the terrifically festive and terrifying Falmouth House, and several other lovely spots. Afterwards we had cookies and hot cocoa.

I volunteered to make cookies for the Christmas light tour “after-party”.  I made a quadruple batch (by hand – NOT recommended) of my grandma’s chocolate chip cookies and added red and green M&M’s to make them Christmasy.  I also made a batch of thumbprint cookies.

I’d never made thumbprint cookies before, so I didn’t have a go-to recipe to use. I spent at least an hour googling recipes on line, comparing ingredient lists, reading reviews, and try as I might, I just couldn’t find a recipe that I thought sounded right.  My criteria wasn’t too far fetched. I wanted to find a recipe for a cookie that was: 1). Delicious, 2). Beautiful, 3). Easy to make, 4). Sturdy, 5). Not too sweet, and 6). Obviously made from scratch. Surprisingly, several of the first recipes I looked at called for store-bought sugar cookie dough – NO. And, most of the made-from-scratch cookie reviews complained of crumbly delicate cookies that weren’t worth the time and effort – NO.

I was out of luck.

After several minutes of pouting, a thought crossed my mind – “I wonder if I could come up with a recipe on my own?”.  Of course I took myself up on my own challenge.

I decided that in order to be successful I’d have to dissect the thumbprint into two parts – COOKIE and FILLING.

Figuring out the filling seemed like the easiest thing to start with. My initial thought was to make a raspberry or blackberry jam. But neither really screamed CHRISTMAS to me. So, naturally, my thoughts wondered over to a ham or goose filling.

Okay, just kidding. Growing up my family never did a Christmas ham or goose. Instead, we had Christmas tacos or lasagna or pizzas.

BACK TO THE COOKIES… Cranberry is what came to my mind. And how easy is that? Toss a few fresh cranberries in a pot with water, sugar and orange peel and you’ve got a fast and easy and DELICIOUS jam. Done.

Once I had the filling figured out, I got to work on the cookie. I needed a dough that would be easy to work with, was firm enough to keep it’s shape but not delicate and crumbly after it baked. I also wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to be too sweet since I was planning to top it with jam. Sugar cookie dough just seemed like a bad idea – in addition to being too sweet it just isn’t firm enough. But…

…What about the Angeletti Cookie dough?  It’s super easy to work with, clearly holds it shape, has a wonderful texture and isn’t overly sweet. It was a perfect solution to my thumbprint cookie problem. The addition of orange zest to the dough to compliment the cranberries would change the flavor of the Angeletti Cookie completely.  And, rolling them in chopped pecans would make them even more tasty and festive! I was very very excited to give them a try.

The first batch I made was just a half batch. While I believed in the idea, I didn’t want to put all of my butter in one basket. I’m happy to report that the very first batch was a success – so much so that I ended up eating 4 of them for my dinner that night.  It wasn’t planned to work out that way.  I was going to have chicken stir-fry. But really, after four cookies who’d have room for stir-fry? Right?

I ended up making another batch — a double batch — after I finished baking the first round of cookies. I rolled most of the cookies in pecans but left some without, just in case anyone preferred their cookies nut-free. And I immediately separated out the cookies I needed for the the Christmas Light tour and for our 12 Days of Cookies so that I’d know exactly how many were left to eat… I mean, share with Jeff.

This recipe was everything I had hoped it would be. Beautiful, so delicious, festive, easy, and well worth the time and effort (not that it took much of either). The dough is SOOOOO simple to work with. And the cookies are nice and sturdy.  They are a wonderful addition to our Christmas cookie collection, if I do say so myself…

CRANBERRY PECAN THUMBPRINT COOKIES

Inspired by the Angeletti Cookie.

Ingredients:

  • COOKIE:
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 TBSP grated orange zest (one orange)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for rolling the dough
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • finely chopped pecans
  • FILLING:
  • 1 c fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 (2-inch) strip orange zest

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, eggs and grated orange zest until blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined (do not overmix).
  3. With floured hands, roll level tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls. Then roll balls in chopped pecans and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Gently press the center of each ball using your finger or thumb or end of a round wooden spoon.  Bake until puffed and the bottoms are pale golden, 7 to 8 minutes.  Using the end of a wooden spoon, gently indent each cookie again and then transfer to a cooking rack.
  4. Make the filling: In a small saucepan, bring cranberries, water, sugar, and orange zest to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer, gently mashing cranberries, until thick and jamlike, 5 to 6 minutes. (If mixture is too thick, add a little water to thin.) Transfer to a bowl, and let cool completely. (Filling can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.)
  5. While the cookies are still warm, drop enough cranberry mixture into the center to fill completely.  Store in even levels with sheets of waxed paper between each layer.

Angeletti Cookies

I am in LOVE with our Christmas lights this year. LOVE. We purchased those big bulbs that you’re suppose to use to line your driveway (or whatever you want to line). We originally thought we’d stake them in front of our flower bed. However, when we got home we realized that we should have purchased at least two, if not three, boxes of monster bulbs to do that (we have a long flower bed). Sooo…. we hung them from our awning instead.  It’s both hilarious AND awesome.

We’ve driven around and looked at Christmas lights a few times since we hung ours and we’ve found some pretty amazing displays. My favorite so far is in Mission Hills. Rather than decorating the front of their house they decorated a single tree in their front yard with all of the lights they would have had to use for their house. The tree is FANTASTIC. They completely covered the trunk in blue lights and then used red, green and blue lights to wrap as many of the limbs as possible.  And they hung a bunch of big bulky lights, like snow flakes and big red glowing ornaments and candy cane lights throughout it as well.

And, of course, I absolutely love the classic and refined beauty of the perfectly lit arches and perfectly outlined window frames – especially if they’ve hung wreathes on every door and put flickering candles in all of the windows. Those flickering candles remind me of my trips to Pennsylvania to visit my grandma.

But when it comes to picking out my FAVORITE Christmas lights, I prefer the ones that take the Griswald approach. You know, the ones who throughout the decorating process ask, “What ELSE can we do?”. I figure if we add a string every year, by the time we’re in our 50’s we’ll be the house that others can see from a mile away.

ANGELETTI COOKIES

I discovered angeletti cookies last year when Real Simple put together a compilation of their favorite Christmas cookies.  I think they are one of the sweetest little cookies I’ve ever seen!  And they’re addictive!  I think it has something to do with their size… they’re so tiny, it makes sense that you should be able to eat 4 or 5 and not feel bad, right? Original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for rolling the dough
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Glaze:
  • 1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla or 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons multicolor nonpareil sprinkles, for decoration (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla, and eggs until blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined (do not overmix).
  3. With floured hands, roll level tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and the bottoms are pale golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  4. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and the vanilla until the mixture forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more water if necessary).
  5. Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, rounded side up, on a rack set over a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle with non-pareils, if using. Allow the glaze to set, about 20 minutes. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.