Monday, February 22, 2010

Root Beer Cookies

A recipe for a cakey, root beer flavored cookie with luscious root beer icing.

Yield: 5-6 dozen

Source: A neighbor, Angela Jeo, who tells me she got it from the LDS Jordan River Temple.

I've been anxious to try this recipe since my friend Angela sent it to me over Facebook a few weeks ago. Once again, I can tell you that I have never found a cookie recipe with buttermilk in it that I didn't love, and this is no exception.

The recipe is pretty simple, but if you don't keep root beer concentrate in your pantry, you will have to plan ahead.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. root beer concentrate
2 large eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts

1/2 cup butter
2 tsp. root beer concentrate
3 T. water
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Mix the ingredients together into a soft dough. Drop onto cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Let me share a couple pieces of advice, if I may.
First, drop the dough onto a cool cookie sheet. I made the mistake of loading up a warm sheet with dough before I was ready to bake them, and met with disaster. Well, not epic disaster, just mild disaster. When the dough melts and gets a bit liquid, then it bakes into something very crunchy, and incidentally, hard to remove from the pan. Which is no fun for anyone.

Second, baking time is key here. I forgot to set my timer, and underbaked the first pan-full. They turned out kind of gooey, and not so great. I baked the second pan-full for 12 minutes, which turned out to be a bit long. They were quite brown, and crispy around the edges. Third pan-full baked for closer to 10 minutes, which was the sweet spot, if you ask me.

Third, make them small. They just turned out better when they were small.

Fourth, don't stack the cookies until they are completely cooled. Yes, I learned this one the hard way.

The frosting, (as usual) takes the cookies from good to phenomenal. The recipe I had actually called for 3/4 cup of butter, but it sounded like it would make a lot of frosting, so I reduced it to 1/2 cup. I was glad I did, because I still had plenty of frosting, even for the nearly 70 cookies this recipe made. This icing is a touch thin, and I think that's a good thing. You'll definitely want to let them sit awhile before stacking the cookies between layers of wax paper.

UPDATE: I actually didn't have enough frosting. I never frosted the dozen and a half underbaked, gooey cookies from my first pan-full. If you want to frost them all, use 3/4 cup butter and 3 cups powdered sugar in the frosting recipe.
It is unusual to bite into a cookie and taste root beer, but it's the kind of unusual I could get used to!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Butterscotch Frosted Cookies

A cakey buttery cookie with a browned butter frosting. Simply delicious.

Yield: about 4-5 dozen

Source: The Cooking Cache, link below

I found this recipe at Cooking Cache, and decided it looked good enough to try. It was an unusual one, for me; not my favorite cookie, but still pretty yummy.

The recipe:
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sour cream (8 oz.)
2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup chopped nuts

Start by creaming the shortening and brown sugar together, and then add the eggs and vanilla. Then add in the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream. Add the nuts last. As usual, I left the nuts out. It always makes me a little sad to do this.

The dough will be quite soft, not the sort of thing you can roll into neat little balls. Drop it by teaspoonfuls onto your cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. I made them kind of smallish, so 10 minutes was perfect.

They come out soft and cakey, very similar to the Chocolate Frosted cookies. The raw dough is not good, not good at all. Even the plain cookie is pretty, well... plain. So, the frosting is the key to this recipe. It is not the easiest frosting I have ever made, but it's not bad.

1/2 cup butter (no substitutes)
3 1/2 - 4 cups powdered sugar
4-5 T boiling water
1 tsp. vanilla

Start by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and continue cooking until the butter is brown, but not scorched. Remove it from the heat, and stir in the other ingredients. Mine turned out pretty thin, so I put a little more powdered sugar in. And, for the sake of honesty, I will tell you that I did not actually boil the water. I just used very hot tap water. Maybe that's the lazy in me, but I think it turned out fine.

The key here is to frost the cookies as soon as you make the frosting. This frosting hardens as it sits, so time is of the essence, here. Make sure your cookies are cooled and ready to frost before you start melting the butter. Once the frosting is made, frost quickly. My frosting was starting to harden before I was quite done. If this happens, you can add a little more water and stir it up again, and that should give you a few more minutes to finish up. You can garnish them with some finely chopped nuts, if you want. Just add the nuts fast, before the frosting hardens, or they will never stick.

I think they turned out quite nicely. I won't say it was my favorite cookie of all time, but pretty good. It is perfect if you like something that is not overly sweet or chocolaty.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Butter or Shortening, part 2: A Science Experiment

My daughter did this experiment for her science fair project, and I decided to steal her work and publish it on my blog. We recently had a chat about how the world is not fair, so I'm sure she will be fine with it!

First, she made a batch of chocolate chip cookies using shortening. The recipe came, I think, from the chocolate chip bag. I'll reproduce it here, just in the interest of clarity.

1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
2 cups flour
1 package chocolate chips
Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes

She followed the recipe, except that we used only about half the chocolate chips called for. The shortening cookies turned out pretty much as expected, lovely and soft and delicious.

She then made a batch of cookies, substituting butter for the shortening. The first thing we realized is that the dough is much softer, and required more flour. We added about 1/2 cup extra flour. I could maybe have used even a little more. This is because butter naturally has more water in it than shortening, and hence more moisture in the dough.

The butter cookies spread a fair amount during baking, and when they came out of the oven, most of them had spread into each other, leaving us with the half-round half-square creations that have to be cut apart with the sharp end of the pancake turner. They were not pretty.

They also did not puff up as much as the shortening cookies. The lower melting point means the dough just spreads and flattens during baking. Shortening dough tends to hold its shape better.

She asked several people to taste test the cookies. She gave them one cookie from each batch, and they had to comment on the taste and the texture of each cookie. Most people liked the butter flavor better, but the texture of the shortening cookie better. As expected.

If you do make your chocolate chip cookies with butter, keep these things in mind:
First, make sure the recipe calls for butter and not shortening. Shortening recipes have more moisture in them. Baking cookies is chemistry, and getting the mixture right is crucial to a quality product. I recommend this recipe if you want butter cookies.
Second, refrigerate the dough before baking. This will not only let the flavors combine in wonderful ways, but will also prolong the melting point a little, causing less spread during baking.
Third, be sure to place dough on a cooled cookie sheet. If the sheet is hot when dough is placed on it, the dough will begin to melt even before baking, and the cookies are more prone to spreading.
Fourth, let the cookies sit for 2-5 minutes on the cookie sheet after coming out of the oven. Butter cookies have a much softer texture, and are more likely to fall apart upon removal from the cookie sheet. Give them a couple minutes to cool and set up before removing them to a cooling rack.

Friday, February 12, 2010


A super-easy and quick recipe for homemade Oreos. Customize with different frosting flavors to suit your taste.

Yield: about 4 dozen unfrosted, or 2 dozen small sandwiched cookies.

Source: as with so many of my best recipes, this one came from my Grandmother.

What a dilemma I found myself in this week. After my last post, Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies, I was left with a fair amount of peanut butter frosting in my fridge. What to do? What to do? I just couldn't bring myself to let all that sweet, peanuty loveliness go to waste. The solution? Oreos, of course!!

This is honestly the easiest cookie recipe I have ever seen. That is because it is made with a boxed cake mix. All the good stuff is already in there, and you just have to add in the wet ingredients. So here is the recipe:

1 box cake mix, any chocolate flavor
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs

Yep, that's it. I used a Devil's food mix, which is all dark and rich and wonderful. I did have to mix a little more than usual, to get everything moistened, but that is not a problem.

I do like to make these cookies quite small, because they get sandwiched together with another cookie and lots of frosting, which is a serious overkill of calories. (Not that I'm counting!) I learned from my experience with the Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies, and rolled the dough into neat little balls. If you have one of those nice cookie dough scoops, that would certainly work nicely, but I don't, so I am reduced to using my hands.

I used a glass to smash the dough down flat, though this step is certainly not necessary. It's just a preference of mine. They stack nicer if they are flat. Is that a silly reason? Perhaps. I baked them at 350 degrees for about 9-10 minutes. By the way, let me apologize for the poor quality of the picture. All my pics turned out bad today. I didn't realize it until I was done baking, and as much as I love you all, I just wasn't willing to make another batch of cookies so I could take better photos. Sorry.

Normally, these babies get frosted with this wonderful cream cheese frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese
3 cups powdered sugar
2 T. milk

A word about quantities, here. I usually double this cookie recipe. That is, 2 cake mixes worth of cookies. Then, this frosting recipe is closer to the right amount. If you are not doubling the cookies, then you will certainly want to halve the frosting recipe. I hate to see cream cheese go to waste!

My personal choice for customizing this frosting:
First, I like to add a little mint extract and green food coloring to the cream cheese frosting for mint Oreos. I'm fond of mint, especially when coupled with chocolate, so it's a natural choice.

Second, the peanut butter frosting in this post is the best I have ever had. It is seriously delicious in the Oreos as well.

Third, is there such a thing as too much chocolate? Doubtful. Add a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder to the frosting for double chocolate Oreos. I can feel the Chocolate coma coming on!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Peanut Butter Sandwich

My most requested cookie to date! Peanut butter cookies sandwiched with peanut butter frosting. The little neighbor girl said, "I can't stop thinking about those cookies!"

Yield: 5-6 dozen regular cookies, or 2.5 - 3 sandwiches. Unless you like the raw dough, then make that 2 dozen sandwiches.

Source: Our Best Bites website, linked below. My neighbor sent me the link. Thanks a lot, Jen!

Oh joy, oh rapture!! The admittedly un-sophisticated crowd I asked for opinions of this cookie gave it an average score of 12 out of 10. (Most of them were younger than 12 years old.) I have to agree, though; they are seriously amazing.

My friend sent me this link, which is where I found the recipe. You can also find a link to Our Best Bites on my right sidebar. I'll give you the recipe here, too, just for kicks.

1 cup butter flavored shortening
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups flour

And the frosting:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups powdered sugar
4-5 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Here's a couple things I learned during the creation of this dough:
First, this isn't my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe of all time. If, I mean when, I make these cookies again, I will use the recipe I used for the Peanut Butter Stuffed cookies, which is my all-time favorite. (Well, all-time favorite for peanut butter cookies. How can a girl really be pinned down to just ONE favorite cookie? :D )

Second, I will admit that I used dark brown sugar in this dough, but only because I had it on hand and had no idea what else to do with it. I really don't think it makes a huge difference though.

Third, I was too lazy to roll the dough into cute little balls and cover them in sugar. I just plopped the dough on the cookie sheet and used the fork to do the cute little cross-hatch pattern that is the signature of peanut butter cookies. I actually wish I had at least rolled them into balls first. I'm sure they would have turned out cuter, closer to actually round, and more professional looking. Mine looked okay, not as bad as a 5 year old making them, but maybe a 10 year old. For example, this cookie turned out a little screwy.

What can you do with a cookie like that?

Maybe just a little bite...

Or two...

The Best Bites author says she made hers small, and baked them at 375 degrees for 6 minutes. They must have been really small! Mine were pretty small, and I had to give them 8 minutes to get them done enough for my liking. I agree with her, though, that it is a huge shot of sugar all at once, and a smaller cookie is probably a good idea.

On to the frosting. This recipe makes enough frosting to feed a small army. Half the frosting would probably have been enough. As you know, I'm not big on measuring things for my frosting. I did measure everything except the powdered sugar this time. I put the sugar in last, adding and stirring until it's a good consistency. I don't think mine had 4 cups in it, though. If I had to guess, I would say it was closer to 2 1/2 or 3 cups. I may have to make oreo cookies now, to get rid of the extra frosting!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Maple Frosted Cookies

Yield: 3-4 dozen

Source: Food Network .com, link below. Recipe provided by Dennis Brady, and apparently part of Emeril's cookie contest show.

It has been years since I have experienced such an epic failure in cookie making. It was quite disheartening, to tell you the truth. But I have decided to learn from my mistakes, and share my *ahem* wisdom with you.

Honestly, these Maple Cookies sounded great when I first saw the recipe on Food Network. I love those maple donuts, so maple cookies sounded like a natural choice. Plus, it is a little unusual, something you don't have everyday. I kind of like standing out, so it totally appealed to me.

Okay, let me start with the recipe, then I will tell you a little more specifically of my experience.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. maple extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 cups flour

It all went well until I put in the flour. Maybe it's because I'm not big on sifting. But, I prefer to think that I just didn't follow my instincts. 4 cups of flour sounds like a lot, because it is a lot. Too much, in fact. This dough turned out seriously dry, as you can see in the picture. The thing is, I have never made this recipe before, nor do I know anyone who has made this recipe, so I had no frame of reference at all. Am I sounding too defensive here? I'd like to tell you that I didn't know it was too dry, but I did. It looked like it was going to be a problem.

The next step is to wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it for at least 4 hours, until firm. My dough got very seriously firm. The directions call for you to roll out the dough to a 1/4" thickness, and cut out circles. (To see what that 1/4" looks like, see my post about Soft Sugar Cookies.) When I rolled it out, it practically fell apart.

I ended up with something resembling a chain of small islands, rather than nice soft cookie dough.

Anyway, they did look very pretty on the baking sheet. I baked them at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes. They came out all lovely and cakey. The super heavy dough meant that the cookies didn't spread or change shape at all. Not even a little bit. It was almost creepy.

The plain cookies are really plain. The flavor was bland, almost non-existent. I had high hopes that some maple icing would resurrect these cookies.

And, that was when I noticed it. The thing I missed when I read the recipe too quickly the first time. Maple Sugar. What is that? Who buys that? And no, it's not brown sugar. Brown sugar is made with molasses, which comes from sugar cane, not maple, which comes from trees.

4 T. butter
1 tsp. maple extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup maple sugar

I have a hard and fast rule about making cookies. It might be a little snobby, but I am not willing to give it up. I never use ingredients from specialty stores. I refuse to make cookies that require a trip to anything other than my local grocery store. Sorry, but rules are rules. (Well, actually, I'm not sorry, but that is a post for another day.)

I decided to make do. I just left the maple sugar out, and let the maple extract do all the talking. It did fine, by the way. The frosting actually turned out great, with a wonderful mapley flavor. It totally did remind me of the maple donuts. Once the cookies were frosted, they tasted much better. However, you will definitely need a glass of water or milk with this cookie, it dries out the mouth something fierce.

In the end, I threw away about half the dough because I had such a hard time rolling it out. And, the frosting wasn't nearly enough for an entire batch. My husband's comment was that I should never make these cookies again. I might have to disagree with him though. I committed to only posting great cookies on this blog, and this post seems to have gone against that directive. However, I think I may try them again, because I believe they have potential. If/when I make them again, I will certainly use less flour. I think these will taste much better if they are soft and pliable. I may increase the amount of maple syrup and maple extract in the cookie dough, to make the actual cookie more flavorful. But I will keep that wonderful maple frosting as-is!

By the way, if you decide to attempt this recipe yourself, I beg you to e-mail me and tell me about your experience. I'm always looking for compatriots!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chocolate - Chocolate Chip

Yield: about 3 dozen

Source: Food Network .com, creator unknown, link below.

I found this recipe just recently on the Food Network website. I was pretty excited because they look pretty darn chocolaty, and frankly, that always makes me happy.

I read the ingredients before I went to the store, but frankly, I was a little depressed when I started making the cookies and realized I had messed up. I am way too sick of quick grocery store trips to make another one, so I made do. But more on that later.

The recipe is as follows:

1 stick butter
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/4 cups flour
6 oz. chocolate chips
6 oz. white chocolate chips

The first step here is to finely chop the chocolate. Once I started doing this, I realized I had bought a 4 oz. bar, and the recipe calls for 6 oz. It was then that I decided that 4 oz. was plenty of chocolate for 1 small batch of cookies, and that was all I used. As it turns out, when I made my family taste the cookies and give me feedback, they all told me it was really chocolaty, so feel free to use this trick yourself, if you want. (Incidentally, my family gives this cookie an 8 or 9 out of 10.)

Start by melting the butter, and adding the chopped chocolate to the hot butter. Let it sit for a few minutes to let the chocolate melt. Meanwhile, mix together the eggs and yolk, brown sugar, and vanilla. Then slowly whisk in the melted chocolate mixture. Add the dry ingredients, and mix just until everything is incorporated. Do not overwork the dough. Fold in the chips. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours or so.

I was a little concerned about the cloves in this recipe. It is a bit unusual for a chocolate cookie, but it does make it stand out a bit, and gives it a quality that can be noticed. My husband really liked the cloves in it, and I think he liked it more once I pointed it out.

I actually made these cookies quite small, as is my habit lately. The recipe calls for baking for 13-15 minutes at 350 degrees, but since mine were smaller, I baked for only 9-10 minutes. It is best to let these sit on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. These should be moist in the center, and a little crackly on the outside. Honestly, mine turned out a little too soft, I think. They could probably have used another minute to bake.

If you want to have a really fun time, make your family guess the mystery ingredient (cloves) that makes this cookie so different, and see what they come up with.


Cookie Making Tips #1: Butter or Shortening?

As Featured On EzineArticles
Should you use butter or shortening in your cookies? Here are some things to consider:

Knowing the differences between butter and shortening can help you decide which ingredient is right for your cookies. The main reason for using shortening instead of butter is that it has a higher melting point. This helps the cookies maintain their shape during baking, leaving you with a puffier, more cake-like cookie. Butter’s lower melting point increases the spread of the dough during baking, resulting in a flatter, browner, and crispier cookie. Butter also has water in it naturally, while shortening does not. If you plan to use shortening in a recipe that calls for butter, you may want to add some water to the dough; about 1.5 teaspoons per ¼ cup of shortening. Most people will still prefer the taste of butter over shortening.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Coconut Crispies

Yield: about 4 dozen

Source: My husband's family has been making these for a long time.

This is another unusual recipe I inherited when I married my husband. His family has made this cookie for decades, and I have never seen anything like it anywhere else. I mean, it's not every day you come across a cookie with corn flakes in it, right?

Let me start with the recipe, it's a pretty straightforward one.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1-2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 1/4 cups flour
2 cups coconut
2 cups corn flakes

I will tell you that there is no need to crush the corn flakes up. Just leave them whole and dump them in. Mix the ingredients in order, and drop them onto the cookie sheet.

Honestly, I have had trouble getting these just right. When my mother-in-law makes them, they tend to turn out kind of flat, but mine never come out that way. So this time, I did some experimenting.

What I am going to recommend is that you first start with very small piles of dough. Then use a fork to smash the cookies down before baking. I baked mine for close to 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

You can just bake them up without the smashing, and they will turn out all puffy and pretty. However, you may need to increase baking time just a bit, because they have a tendency to be a little underdone in the center.

I really liked how they turned out when I smashed them first. They not only have that nice fork pattern (reminds me of peanut butter cookies) but they also come out quite chewy. They should be a little crispy on the outside, but much chewier than say, a chocolate chip cookie.

This is a nice cookie if you are looking for a change of pace. It's not as sweet as some other cookies, it doesn't include chocolate, or peanut butter, or nuts. Plus, if you take this to a get-together, you will be assured that no one else is bringing the same thing!