Jerry’s Halfway Cookies + 5 Holiday or Anyday Cookie Links

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Anne stared at her mother’s battered and torn recipes and wished she wasn’t dead because she didn’t feel like making halfway cookies, they were Tess’s specialty.  She missed Tess.  Death is inconvenient especially around the holidays, thought Anne.  She felt much more than inconvenience since Tess’s miserable, drawn-out death.  In fact, most days she wasn’t entirely sure how she functioned.  Her children saved her, kept her occupied with their schedules and needs.  Their never-ending stories, sentences that began with “and” starting at one pick up, continuing to the next drop off allowed Anne to feel engaged but mostly sad and hollow all at the same god damn time.  Anne could forget, though, when the day mercifully allowed it.

Sort of.  When her mind didn’t ache from all she pushed through over the last two years. Ya, she could forget if she willed herself.  She forgot about holding Tess’s hand as she struggled to breathe and feeding her spoonfuls of water.  Watching her son and her husband feed, Tess teaspoons of water was especially awful.  Changing her diaper wasn’t as bad as Anne expected because there was nothing left to expel.  Everything was shutting down, something they mention in the helpful reading material hospice had left on their way out the door while Anne held Tess’s hand and watched her slowly transition from this world to the next.

Telling the nurse not to offer Tess any more food as she may choke was especially heartbreaking for Anne.  It was just so final.  Decisions were made without fully understanding that, yes, Tess would soon be gone.  Administering morphine and lorazepam to Tess as she begged for help, tiny squirts from a plastic syringe dribbling down her tongue, into her throat, smaller than a pea and so painful for Tess to swallow made Anne want to vomit.  A grimace on her mother’s face after each swallow, followed by relief until Tess saw Anne wasn’t done, not yet.  More morphine.

“Please help me, please help me,” Tess whispered.  Anne felt small.  “I don’t know what to do,” Anne cried.  “Yes. you do,” Tess said.  Hadn’t it always been this way? Anne a mess and Tess calm and knowing.  She hated and loved her for it.

Anne watched the hospice nurse change her mother’s bandages. Every time they asked Anne if she wanted to leave the room.  Anne never left.  Cancer on her mother’s breast now like a crater on the surface of the moon, devouring Tess, reaching for her collarbone.  Additional tumors were growing, making their presence known in the form of little mushroom heads and excruciating pain.  The smell was gone now. 

So many indignities for such a beautiful, refined woman.

The hospice nurse called Anne at two in the morning to let her know her mother had passed but Anne knew when she left her mother to pick up the kids from school just hours prior, she would not see Tess alive again.  She hugged and kissed her; told her it was ok to let go now.  The words flowed easily from Anne’s mouth to Tess’s ear as if someone else was speaking for her.  

How could you tell her to let go, Anne?

Anne hours before, holding her mother’s cold hand, watching her chest rise, her mouth ajar, teeth exposed as if drawn by a caricature artist, lips dry, crusted, and colorless.  The breathing pattern had changed as mentioned in the handy death pamphlet.  Anne studied that pamphlet like she was getting a graduate degree in end of life care as if it would somehow predict when Tess would leave this world and maybe, if Anne were lucky, she could escape the tsunami of grief that was headed her way if she was prepared and organized. 

The joke’s on you, Anne. 

She harassed her sister via text with the latest bodily changes Tess was undergoing during the transition, every time asking herself if it was necessary to share so much dying with her angry and already grieving sister who lived two thousand miles away.  Maybe the next text would go to her brother who had removed himself from the situation just enough that he could put off the grief until one day when Tess was gone and the grief brought him to his knees. 

And then the call. 

Tears struggled to come.  Anne steadied herself, threw her messy hair into a ponytail, and put on her glasses. She felt her husband’s hand on her back like an anchor reminding her of all the life that was still waiting for her.  The hand felt heavy as if it was asking too much of her to keep going, to keep pushing through when she was bone tired and heart-broken.  Anne kissed him goodbye, relieved the weight was gone if only briefly.

Anne drove in silence to her mother’s house.  The land looks different at two in the morning.  Twisting and turning in unexpected formations, shadows throwing off perspective.  So much unexpected life!  Random cars on the highway.  Where are you headed? Did you just lose the love of your life too?  The serpentine road that took Anne to Tess’s house was full of nocturnal animals, shocked by the car’s headlights, watching Anne pass, pausing to acknowledge her existence in their world, seeming to pay homage to Tess, as if they knew a good soul had passed.

Anne pulled into the driveway.  Tess’s house looked so alive with nearly every light on as if letting anyone who passed know something was amiss.  She steadied herself, walked in, said hello to the old cat purring by his water bowl, and the night nurse sitting in the rocking chair.  Anne’s father stood before her in a t-shirt and pajama pants looking older than he had a week prior.  They hugged briefly before Anne went into Tess’s room.  Tess looked beautiful with the covers up around her shoulders and the pink rosary beads Anne had just given her lying across her chest.  The giant seventies lamp cast a warm glow on the entire room making Tess look as if she was just resting, certainly not dead.  Anne collapsed on her mother’s bed and held Tess, crying like a wounded animal.  Tess’s forehead was still warm but her cheek was cool, almost waxy.  Anne gently rubbed Tess’s hair and cheek just as Tess had done so many times when Anne was a child.  She put her head on her mother’s chest.  The weight of Anne’s head pushed the remaining air out of Tess’s lungs making a ghoulish, cinematic sound and yet Anne felt nothing but comfort resting against her mother.  The last of Tess’s breath exiting and Anne breathing in all she could, taking some of Tess with her.  Internalizing her.  She closed her eyes and may have slept. 

Anne remembers the hospice nurse arriving, removing her stethoscope, and checking for a heartbeat that no longer existed.  I’m sorry for your loss.  God those words feel empty tonight. 

Anne remembers falling asleep next to Tess listening to the sounds of her father weeping upstairs.

Let’s wait until morning to call the funeral home. 

Try to sleep. 

Ok, Dad. 

Anne woke a couple hours later to find Tess very cold and pale.  Mouth firmly open, one eye half parted.  She was gone.  There is a difference Anne now understood in acknowledging the love of your life will soon be gone and living with their absence. 

After months of no tears, the tears came and Anne worried they may never stop.

Anne watched the funeral home director and his assistant place Tess’s body into a black, sterile body bag.  The sound of the zipper so decisive.  A folksy blanket placed over the bag, over Tess, so it didn’t look quite so unnerving.  Tess was wheeled out to hearse and that was it. 

It was over now. 

Something Anne had wished for repeatedly.  Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.  Anne drove home, stopping at Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee and thinking how funny it was to do something so ordinary when something so life-altering and extraordinary had just occurred.  

The months that followed Tess’s death were foggy.  Anne could barely remember the details of those initial days.  She slept and cried.  Ate when she felt like it and drank too much.  Spring turned into summer and then into fall.  The kids went back to school.  Her husband checked in daily, tending, as best he could, to her grief.  The days passed and Tess was still gone.  The saying life goes on is so horribly true and gut-wrenching when you lose someone you love more than yourself.  The reality of so much life continuing without Tess, some days, just too much to shoulder.

Today Anne’s house was quiet except for their old dog snoring and farting in the hallway.  Christmas had passed and Anne somehow managed to push through it all.  Expectations remained intact.  Expectations are worthless, Anne believed, something she learned shortly after her mother died.  Keep your expectations of other people low and you won’t be disappointed.  Anne’s new mantra, if you want to call it that, brought a sense of peace to her.  She could let go of the raw hurt she felt from those who had disappointed her.  Those who didn’t show up.  How great it felt to be free of everything unnecessary.  Is this what Tess felt now? It was a relief for Anne to rid herself of that weight because there was just too much to carry.  The grief had changed her but into what she was unsure.

Anne made the halfway cookies.  An Avett Brothers song repeated in her head like a tripped record.  Like a prayer.  “No hard feelings, Lord knows they haven’t done much good for anyone.”

 

Chocolate Half Way Cookies

Makes 24 bars

Recipe slightly adapted from Evelyn Hamilton, my grandmother

Ingredients:

1 cup or 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup of sugar

½ cup of brown sugar

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten with 2 tablespoons of water

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 cups of all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon of kosher salt

½ teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 package of chocolate chips

Ingredients for meringue topping:

3 egg whites, beaten stiff

¾ cup brown sugar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a 14×10 jelly roll pan and set aside.

Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder to a medium bowl.  Blend together using a whisk.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides and the bottom once or twice.  Add the egg yolks (with the water), one at a time, until well blended.  Next, add the vanilla.  Beat for a few minutes until everything is blended.  Reduce the speed of your mixer and add the dry ingredients.  Mix on low speed until everything is well combined.  Add the dough to the prepared pan.  Spread it evenly across the pan using your fingertips until the dough covers the entire pan.  Spread the chocolate chips evenly over the dough.  Press the chips into the dough gently.  Set aside.

Beat the egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form.  Add the brown sugar.  Beat for an additional 2 minutes.  Spread the meringue across the prepared dough.  Bake until the meringue and cookie dough are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack completely before cutting.  Once cool, cut into squares and serve.  Halfway cookies are best the day they are made but taste damn good the next day as well.  Enjoy!  Store any leftover cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

5 Cookie Links

Indulge a bit this holiday season and make The Vanilla Bean Blog’s holiday cheesecake cookies.  Yum!

Fudgy brownie crinkle cookies- yes they exist and they look divine!  Head to Mike Bakes NYC for the recipe.

Oatmeal lace cookies are a holiday classic and a sure winner.  Head to Julie Banner for the recipe.

If you love red velvet cake, why not make red velvet cookies?  Food 52 has the recipe for you.

Six years ago, I made these Italian lemon ricotta cookies and they were a huge hit.  Check them out!

Snowflake Sandwich Cookies with Maple Buttercream Filling + 5 Fun Holiday Cookie Links

 

If Tess had known she would think of him as often as she did during her final days she may have made different choices many decades ago.  If she knew he would appear in her dreams, nightly, standing in the sunlight on a pathless mountainside under a blue sky while she struggled, step by step, over rocks and snow to reach him…she may have never said hello.  And yet so many years ago, she initiated a simple conversation without fully releasing she also made a choice to make a space for this strange man in her mind and heart.

Tess entered his life and he her’s, grateful for a providential connection.  She loved this man as she did her husband without ever really, fully knowing him.

[Boundaries remained intact.  Years later when middle age became old age, gray hair to white hair, wrinkles abundant, widowed, and often alone, but seldom unhappy, she smiled when she thought of him.  And when they ran into each other coming out of the library, both carrying a stack of large print books to occupy the endless quiet hours’ widowhood afforded them, Tess felt her fingertips tingle, and her eyes moisten.  How lucky after all these years that the connection she felt to this man remained intact!]

A nameless night later Tess finds herself awake at 4AM.   She carefully tiptoes through the house, her cotton nightgown grazes the hardwood floors and catches a white hair or two on its hem.  She pauses by the large window and watches the snowflakes falling outside.  Some stick to the window screen, others dance and swirl around each other, as if, communicating a long forgotten fable.  She opens the window.  The wooden frame slides up without much effort, odd, Tess thinks for such an old house.  She pops out the window screen and leans through the opening into the cold night air, her breath mingling with the snowflakes.  Tess sees the strange man she loved all these years standing at the end of the driveway next to the lamppost covered in boxwood and tiny white lights.  She gladly waves to him.  He waves back and turns away from her.  Wait! Tess calls.  Wait!

“Mom?”  Tess remains centered in the open window, her nightgown outlined in the moonlight, her wrinkled body shivering in the frigid wind.

“Mom?”  She turns to the familiar voice she cannot place.  [Time moves in a way Tess no longer understands.  People, too.  Once gone, now reappear.  Once an empty house, now her daughter is here.]

“Time to go back to bed, Mom.”  Tess’ daughter closes the window quickly, frustrated by her mother’s nightly wanderings, and guides her back to bed.  She tucks Tess into bed as she does her own children, brushes Tess’ long white hair away from her face and kisses her forehead.  Tess does not share with her daughter who she saw standing at the end of the driveway.   She would seem crazy after all.

Minutes later, Tess falls into a deep sleep only to find herself on a sunlit mountainside next to a man she barely knew but loved just the same.

 

Snowflake Sandwich Cookies with Maple Buttercream Filling

Recipe adapted from Bake From Scratch Holiday Cookies Edition

makes about 24 sandwich cookies

Ingredients for cookie dough:

3/4 unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup vanilla sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour

sanding sugar or nonpareils for decorating

Directions:

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, on medium speed beat the butter, sugar and salt until creamy, about 5 minutes.  Be sure to stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add the egg and vanilla.  Continue to beat until incorporated.  Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the flour.

Divide the dough in half.  Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  Lightly flour a clean surface, remove dough from plastic wrap.  Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness.  (Be sure to leave other half of dough in the refrigerator until ready to use!)  Using a 3-inch snowflake cookie cutter dipped in flour, begin cutting out snowflake shapes.  Gather scraps,  reroll and cut again.  Place cookies about an inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.   Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Maple Buttercream Filling

Recipe adapted from Bake From Scratch Holiday Cookies Edition

makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup or 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon maple extract

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter and maple extract until creamy.  Add the confectioners’ sugar and a pinch of salt.  Beat on medium speed until well combined and smooth.  Once the confectioners’ sugar is incorporated, increase speed to high and beat for another 5 minutes.   Set aside.

Assembly Time!

Spoon half of the maple buttercream filling into large pastry bag fitted with an open star pastry tip.  Pipe filling onto 1 cookie, starting at the tip of each snowflake point and moving to the center.  Place another cookie on top of the cookie with the filling and press gently until the cookies form a sandwich.  Repeat with remaining cookies.  Place the remaining filling in a large pastry bag fitted with a small decorating tip.  Decorate the cookies with the remaining filling making a snowflake pattern on one side of the sandwich.  Sprinkle with white sanding sugar or nonpareils.   Let the cookies set before stacking.  Store cookies in an air-tight container for up to 4 days.  Enjoy!

5 Fun Holiday Cookie Links

My grandmother always had a stash of Italian Rainbow cookies floating around her house during the holidays and I couldn’t eat them fast enough.  Check out Love and Olive Oil’s  modern take on these beloved cookies.

Salted caramel and dark chocolate is a perfect pairing.  Want it in cookie form?  Head to Sally’s Baking Addiction for the recipe.

Love a good shortbread cookie?  Head to Cooking Classy for a chocolate dipped toffee pecan shortbread cookie recipe.  My mouth is watering!

Add something new to your holiday cookie platter with my alfajores recipe.

This lemon cookie recipe is one of my most pinned recipes.  Check it out!

 

Chocolate Dipped Ginger Snaps + 5 Ginger Cookie Links

After training for and completing my third marathon, my words and stories are struggling to emerge.  Heart to head to hand, muddled pathways and tired bones continue two weeks after crossing the finish line.  So, I bake a simple and delicious cookie to share with you…and wait for my words to return, the exhaustion to pass.  Until then, enjoy this cookie with others and a glass of cold milk.

Chocolate Dipped Ginger Snaps

A soft-baked gingersnap cookie, covered in raw sugar and dipped in semi-sweet chocolate. 

Recipe barely adapted from Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

Makes about 24 cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 + 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 stick + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg, at room temperature

1/2 cup raw sugar

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted (I used Guittard chocolate chips.)

Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.  Set aside.  Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Add the sugar and continue mixing, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice.  Next, add the vanilla extract, molasses, and egg.  Beat until combined.  Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients.  Continue mixing on low-speed until just combined.

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  While the oven is preheating, chill the dough.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Pour raw sugar into a bowl.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop the cookie dough into rounded balls.   Dip cookie dough balls into raw sugar, covering completely and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Using the palm of your hand, flatten the dough slightly, until the ball looks like a 2-inch circle.  Bake until set, about 10 minutes, one cookie sheet at a time.  Allow cookies to cool for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  While the cookies cool, melt the chocolate.  Once the cookies are cooled completely, dip half of the cookie into the melted chocolate.  Allow the cookies to set completely before packaging.  Enjoy!

5 Ginger Cookie Links

Ginger infused caramel and bittersweet chocolate come together in this delightful chocolate caramel cookie.  Head to I am Baker for the recipe.

Looking for an easy, go to cookie for the holidays?  Head to Not Without Salt for a brown butter ginger cookie with mascarpone cream.  This recipe is now on my must-try list!

Bon Appetempt’s ginger cookies with chocolate and dried apricots is a cookie that cannot be missed this holiday season!

If you are a fan of white chocolate, check out Cooking Classy’s white chocolate dipped ginger cookies.

Prefer crispy gingersnap cookies over soft?  Head to A Thought For Food for Brian’s recipe.

Double Chocolate Tahini Cookies + 5 Tahini Dessert Recipes

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“Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation.  The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.”   
David Whyte Everything is Waiting for You

 

She knows me.  All of the beautiful, funny, ugly parts of me.  She sees my life now, not as the whole picture, but a small piece of the story.  A friendship like that is a lifeline when the world seems unrelenting.  So, it would seem shocking to think I almost didn’t answer her call the other afternoon.

Cut the rope and let me drift out to sea.  No!  She screams.  You drift away and we are both lost.  

I stared at my phone, picked up on the fifth ring.  A quiet “hi” and “how are you, Kel?” Twenty-three years of her voice, a “hi”, a simple question; she is as comforting to me as anything I have ever known.  Words came, trickling, one after another to her, an inlet discovered just in time.

My son’s recent Autism diagnosis had muted my words, left my mind torpid, my heart divided. Relief and sadness intertwined, choking my voice.  I needed space, a dark cave, time.  And she knew all of this because she fights the same beast, she wears the same albatross around her neck.  Though our conversation was brief, I felt better than I had in months.  Something in me cracked, revealing a sliver of light.  And then.  Gratitude and love followed, marching ferociously back, surrounding me.  [You are not alone!  You. Are. Not. Alone!]  If I were a religious woman I may have fallen on my knees, given thanks to him/her for the blessing of this friendship.  But I am not.  Instead, I picked my kids up from school, made a batch of cookies and poured myself a glass of wine.

Double Chocolate Tahini Cookies

Savory tahini replaces peanut butter and pairs perfectly with chocolate in this traditional cookie recipe

recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s peanut butter cookies

Makes 3 dozen (using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop)

Ingredients:

1 + 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup light roasted tahini,  at room temperature (be sure to mix in the oil well before measuring)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon of milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)

raw sugar and festive decorations for sprinkling, optional but adds a yummy crunch

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside. Slowly, melt the 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on the stove top or in the microwave.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or an electric mixer, beat the butter and tahini until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add sugar and dark brown sugar.  Beat until fluffy, about 3 more minutes.  Add the milk and vanilla extract.  Add melted chocolate.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is well incorporated.  Add the flour and mix until well combined.  Lastly, stir in the dark chocolate chips.

Place raw sugar and/or decorative sprinkles on a plate.  Using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop, place cookie balls in sugar, roll around and cover completely.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Gently, make a cross-hatch pattern with a fork on each cookie or lightly press on the cookies with an off-set spatula.  ( I used an offset spatula.)

Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes.  Be sure not to over bake! The cookies may look under baked, but as long as they are puffed and just set at the edges you are all set!  Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.  Cookies will last in an air-tight container, at room temperature, for 2 days.  Enjoy!

5 Tahini Dessert Recipe You Must Check Out!

Molly Yeh’s chocolate tahini cake with rosemary buttercream is stunning and sounds delicious.  Check it out here!

Chocolate tahini cake two ways, curious?  The Brick Kitchen has the recipe for you.

Tis’ the season for cookies so add something new to your Christmas cookie plater this year with NYT’s salted tahini chocolate chip cookies and A Cozy Kitchen’s tahini concord grape thumbprint cookies.

If quick breads are your go to when it comes to holiday baking, check out my recipe for tahini chocolate chip banana bread.  It is delicious!

Alfajores + 5 Cookies You Don’t Know About But Should!

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Ho, ho, ho. Fa lah lah.  It’s the season for all things sugar.  Despite this being a crazy weekend celebrating Goose’s eighth, yes eighth, birthday with both a friend and family party; I have a cookie recipe for you.

Alfajores.  Alfawhat?  This cookie hails from South America.  A tender cookie made mainly with cornstarch and filled with Dulce De Leche.  This is a must make and a share with everyone I know kinda cookie.  I hope you love them as much as my skinny jeans are telling me I loved them!

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Alfajores

recipe slightly adapted from Fix Feast Flair

makes about 15 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup cornstarch

3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons or 1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon Cointreau

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup of homemade or store bought Dulce de Leche, at room temperature

Optional:

powdered sugar for dusting

sprinkles for decorating

piping bag and small tip

Equipment:

2 inch round cookie cutter

Directions:

In a medium bowl whisk together cornstarch, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Be sure to scrape down the bowl once or twice.

Next add egg yolks, Cointreau and vanilla extract.  Beat on medium-low speed.  Scrap down the sides of the bowl.  With  the speed on low, slowly add dry ingredients.  Mix until just incorporated.

Scrape out all the dough and place on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a disk and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or until firm.

When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  Remove dough from fridge and place on a lightly floured surface.  Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness.  No worries if the dough splits, just piece it back together.   Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter stamp out 30 cookies.  It is just fine to re-roll the dough until you have 30 cookie rounds.

Place the cookies on prepared baking sheet and chill for 20 minutes.  This will help them keep their shape.  Transfer to pre-heated oven and bake for about 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking time.  Cool cookies completely on a wire rack.

Spread or pipe a generous spoonful of Dulce de Leche on 15 cookies, then place the other 15 cookies on top and gently press together to form a sandwich.  Pipe or spread a bit of Dulce de Leche on the outside of each sandwich cookie and roll in sprinkles.  Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Cookies will last store in an air-tight container at room temperature for several days.  Enjoy!

5 Cookies You Don’t Know About But Should!

Looking for a delicious gluten-free Christmas cookie?  Reclaiming Provincial has a recipe for flour-less Mexican chocolate crinkle cookies that is mouth-watering!

Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is pizzelle iron so I can make Bon Appetempt’s meyer lemon pizzelles. Promise to share.

xo, me

Benne Wafers– A little something sweet from South Carolina for your Christmas cookie platter.

If you are looking for a not too sweet holiday cookie, Check out Heidi Swanson’s Swedish rye cut-out cookies. 

Calling all macaroons lovers! Head to What’s Cooking Good Looking for a cherry-chocolate pistachio macaroon recipe.

 

Molasses Crinkle Cookies + 5 Classic Cookie Links

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When I asked Bubba if I should make molasses crinkle cookies or cranberry shortbread he said without a hint of hesitation: molasses crinkle cookies.  I had pinned him as a shortbread guy.  9 Years of marriage, 13 years of dating, 3 kids, multiple moves and I still don’t know him. Ok, scratch that.  I know him, but I guess he occasionally surprises me, mainly when it comes to his food preferences.  Not so long ago my man refused to eat blue cheese.  He thought soup was gross.  He preferred chocolate or any kind of ice cream over the most tempting confections. And when it comes to cookies: chocolate chip or his mother’s famous cherry winks.

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They say you become more stuck in your ways as time passes.  Not true for Bubba.  He may have just turned forty-something, but he seems more willing than ever to eat something new (new to him), including a molasses crinkle cookie.

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Soft and chewy, subtly spiced and perfectly sweet we are starting off the holiday season with a classic cookie…or a new temptation, depending on who eats them.  Enjoy!

Molasses Crinkle Cookies

recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook

makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients:

3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/4 cup molasses (not black-strap)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 + 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup or so of raw sugar for coating

Directions:

Grab a medium size bowl and whisk together your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Set aside.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Next add the egg and beat until completely incorporated, scraping down the bowl once or twice with a rubber spatula.  Now add the molasses and vanilla.  Scrap down again before adding the dry ingredients.

Reduce the speed to low and add your dry ingredients.  Mix until just incorporated.  Chill the dough for about 30 minutes or overnight. **Dough will last for several days, refrigerated, in an air-tight container.**

Pre-heat your oven to 375.  Let dough sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before spooning into rounded 2 inch balls.  Place 1/2 cup of raw sugar in a bowl.  Coat each cookie ball in the sugar and place on prepared baking sheet.   Bake for about 10-12 minutes.  Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet.  Enjoy! (Cookies will last in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.)

5 Classic Cookie Links!

Love a good snickerdoodle? Two Peas and Their Pod take it up a notch by dipping their snickerdoodles in white chocolate.  Check it out!

When I lived in the North End of Boston, an Italian bakery right next to my building made the most decadent seven layer bars.  Many a late, drunken nights I found myself going home with a seven layer bar in hand.  Averie Cooks’ soft and chewy seven layer magic bar cookies are making me long for those days and my twenty-something metabolism!

Sugar cookies are necessary during the holidays.  Head to Pastry Affair for a chocolate sugar cookie recipe.

Don’t let this holiday pass without making my frosted red velvet cookies or my lemon ricotta cookies.  I promise you they will be a hit!

Frosted Red Velvet Cookies + 5 Holiday Cookie Links You Can’t Miss!

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Did you ever watch Steal Magnolias?  The Julia Roberts movie that came out in 1989? No? You should put it on your Netflix list.  My sister and I watched it over and over.  We were obsessed with the movie and with Julia Roberts.  If you did watch it you might remember the groom’s cake: a red velvet cake shaped like an armadillo, covered in gray frosting.  This was my first introduction to red velvet.  Many years later when the cupcake craze hit Boston, I ate my first red velvet cupcake.  After taking a single bite I understood the obsession and, well, I became obsessed.  I ordered red velvet anything whenever I got a chance.  At my brother’s wedding two years ago, I stood in my beautiful, pewter colored bridesmaid dress and devoured two red velvet cupcakes during the course of one song.  I’m not ashamed; they were best I ever had!

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The combination of the cream cheese frosting and the cocoa are amazing together, but the thing that gets me every time is the bright, red crumb.  It’s not magic, I know.  The cookies get their vibrant color from red food coloring and natural cocoa powder.  It’s just magical baking science.

Last December, I saw a recipe for frosted red velvet cookies in Cook’s Illustrated.  I dog-eared the page, but never made the cookies.  This year I made sure they were in my holiday cookie rotation.

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Bubba and kids went nuts for them.  C asked, just before she shoved a cookie into her mouth, “Umm, are they red velvet?” My girl is hooked.  I know this is the season of sharing, kindness and generosity, but we didn’t share these cookies.  We ate them as if they were about to vanish.  Before long one cookie and a few crumbs remained.

Frosted Red Velvet Cookies

Recipe barely adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Christmas Cookies

makes about 22 cookies

Ingredients:

1 + 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

12 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon red food coloring

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup of 2% Greek yogurt

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened

11/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

holiday sprinkles for decorating, optional

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together your flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of softened butter.  Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes or so.  Next add your egg, food coloring and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and beat until combined.

Lower the speed and add half of the flour mixture, then the Greek yogurt and ending with the rest of the flour mixture.

Scoop up 2 tablespoons of dough and drop on prepared baking sheets.  Leave about 2 inches in between each dough mound.  Bake each sheet, separately, for about 16 minutes or until the centers are set.  Be sure to rotate the pan halfway through baking.  Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet pans for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cookies cool, prepare the cream cheese frosting.  Use a clean, dry bowl!  With a paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, 4 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla on medium speed for about a minute.  Lower the speed and add the confectioners’ sugar.  Mix for a minute.  Increase the speed to medium/high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Spread a spoonful of frosting on each cookie and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.  The cookies taste best the day they are made, but taste great the next day too!  If you have any left over, store them in an air-tight container at room temperature.  Enjoy!

5 Can’t Miss Holiday Cookie Recipes

Love white chocolate? How about peppermint?  Check out Not Without Salt’s white chocolate peppermint cookies with vanilla salt.  That’s right, vanilla salt. Yum!

My kids love hot cocoa.  Hot cocoa with a handful of marshmallows floating on top is their favorite winter-time drink.  I think I will blow their minds when I make Laura’s, at Fork Knife Swoon, recipe for flourless hot cocoa cookies!

Chocolate, caramel and salt need to happen during the holidays.  Head to Bakers Royale for salted chocolate caramel snickers cookie recipe.  My mouth is watering.

If you love thumbprint cookies, check out mini chocolate thumbprint cookies at Pinch of Yum.  They look like just the dessert to serve at your next holiday gathering!

My most pinned recipe: lemon ricotta cookies.  They will make your family swoon this holiday season!

The Great American Milk Drive is taking place now.  Feeding America will donate a gallon for a gallon until December 31st.  Consider making a donation today!