Welcome to The Cookie Monster, a blog about the most marvelous, versatile, and beloved bakeable item in the land: The cookie. You may see occassional forays into pies, bars, and other sweet treats, but my main focus is and has always been on the bite sized genius behind my very favorite snack. Happy Baking!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Soft Molasses 'Thank You' Cookies

My Geriatric Cat, Munchkin, has a Thyroid Disorder. I bring this up because Joe and I are leaving for Mexico tomorrow and we had to enlist some help from family to give Munch her much needed meds. Thanks to Joe's mom and my sister, her thyroid levels will remain normal while we drink tequila and dance around in sombreros.

Anyhoo. I decided some thank you cookies were in order for our two helpers. I have a bad habit of collecting baking supplies until I'm drowning in them, so I decided to bake something out of inventory. As it happens, I have about 6 jars of Molasses. WHO HAS 6 JARS OF MOLASSES?? me. That's who.

I decided on some Soft Molasses cookies. These were actually a favorite of mine, as I love Molasses, and used to eat it drizzled on wonder bread with my Great-Grandma when I was a kid ;)

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Per usual, start by creaming together the shortening and brown sugar.
Next, add in the egg and molasses. unfortunately, this recipe only called for a half cup of molasses, so I barely made a dent in my copious molasses supply. recipe suggestions? let me know ;)
When all the wet stuff is well mixed, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the dry ingredients slowly.
You will end up with a thick sticky dough. refrigerate for about 30 minutes until firm.
When your dough is cooled, set up a little assembly line: dough: bowl of granulated sugar for rolling, parchment lined baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls, roll each ball in the granulated sugar, then place on the cookies sheets an inch or so apart.
Bake at 350 for 9 minutes. Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before attempting to move them to a cooling rack. They will be very soft and fragile at this stage.

Enjoy! Hasta Luego, Voy a Mejico! Adios!!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green for St. Paddy's

In honor of my Irish roots (which are far fewer than my first name might suggest) I decided to make some green cookies for St. Paddy's Day. Joe's mom and grandma are coming over for dinner, so for dessert I whipped up an old favorite of mine: Lime Sugar cookies.

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lime zest (about 2 limes worth of zesting)
1 egg
1/4tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

First things first, rinse and zest your limes. The original recipe called for 1 Tablespoon of zestiness, but I doubled it, as the flavor is very mild as it is. If you're gonna make cookies with green specks in them, they better taste like something green. Otherwise people will be afraid.

In retrospect, I should have had some coronas on hand so my poor little bald lime wouldn't go to waste. Sorry buddy.

Cream together the butter, sugar, and lime zest. Scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
Next add the egg and vanilla. I also added a little bit of green food coloring at this stage, you know, to be festive.

Mix in the dry ingredients until the dough comes together. At this point I sampled quite a bit of the cookie dough, very tangy and delicious.

Roll the cookies into 1 inch balls, then roll in granulated sugar. Wow, those suckers are green.

Place the balls about 1.5 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. they'll need some room as they will spread out quite a bit. I mean seriously, I think I could make a cookie dough version of "Gumby" with this stuff. maybe next time.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes until the edges start to brown. Place on a cooling rack until set.

And enjoy! These are great summery cookies and would also be a good pool-party type treat.
Happy St. Paddy's day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hungover Shortbread

I hadn't made shortbread in quite a while, and I quickly remembered why. Shortbread is a pain. A major pain. A pain in the a$$ if you will. I always fall for the buttery texture, the light crumbly feel on your tongue, the fall-apart in your mouth loveliness, delicious. Unfortunately, the dough also falls apart, constantly. When you shape it, when you roll it, when you bake it. Nightmare. Double nightmare when you drank too much the night before at the local dive bar....

Alas, despite my pounding head, I had an anniversary party to bake for. My Boyfriend's lovely Aunt Marie (perhaps the only person who reads my blog, love you!!!) was celebrating 25 years with her hubby, so cookies were definitely in order. I decided to go with a macadamia nut, pineapple shortbread recipe I'd been eyeing for a while.

2 1/4 cups four
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter, cold
1/4 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts
1/4 cup finely chopped dried pineapple

1 cup powdered sugar
1/54 tsp vanilla
3-4 tablespoons pineapple juice
food coloring (optional)
First, stir together the flour and sugar. If I make these (or any other shortbread) again I would use granulated sugar and forgo the brown sugar, as it was really hard to blend with the flour evenly.

The next step is to cut in the butter. I use a pastry blender (best 5$ I ever spent) but you can also cut in butter by criss-crossing 2 knives. Either way, I usually pre-chop the sticks of butter first to make things a bit easier.

Cut in the butter until the chunks are the size of small peas. occasionally stir the mixture to make sure that all the flour is being moistened with the butter.

After the shortbread mixture is ready to go, whip out your food processor. (This was the maiden voyage for mine, woohoo new kitchen tools!!!) Chop up your macadamias to a very fine chop.

Next, chop up your pineapple. I tried this in the food processor and it failed miserably. My dried pineapple was much too moist....

So I opted for doing it the old fashioned way, which worked out fine.

Mix together your macadamias and pineapple with the flour/butter mixture. I would recommend actually upping the pineapple content more the 1/4 cup as they kind of got lost in the batter. Once you have everything equally blended, start to knead the dough together.

I actually ended up adding a few tablespoons of water to the dough to help bring it together (just like you would a pie crust or pastry). In retrospect, I should have added more water, ah well, you live, you learn. Form the dough into two balls, pressing the dough together as tightly as possible...

This is the part where shortbread becomes a major Pain in the A$$ as I mentioned earlier. When you go to roll it, it tends to break apart into a million miserable crumbly pieces. ugh. I think adding more liquid during the kneading process could have helped alleviate this issue. Anyway, patiently and carefully roll your dough out to 1/4 inch thick. I attempted to press the crumbly edges back into the dough between rolls....

But this what I got, over and over again.


Since my dough wasn't exactly cooperating, I decided not to use cookie cutter, and instead just cut the dough into squares. I did this to avoid having to re-roll the dough over and over again. I think if you used cookie cutters with the recipe, you'd probably only end up with about 20 cookies, and a pile of crumbs.

Bake at 325 for 15 minutes. Transfer (carefully!) to a wire rack and let cool completely. While cookies are cooling, make your icing.

Measure out one cup of powdered sugar, add the vanilla, then whisk in the pineapple juice one tablespoon at a time. Add food coloring until you get your desired shade. I found this icing to be very bland. I think I may try it with pineapple concentrate next time, just to kick up the flavor a bit. Using a pastry bag, or a plastic bag with a corner snipped off, pipe the frosting in your desired design over the cookies. At this point, I was needing a nap, so I just went with a quick squiggle.
I paired these cookies with some classic snickerdoodles for the party :) all in all they were pretty tasty, but I'm pretty sure I won't make shortbread again anytime soon, at least until I forget how annoying it can be. Don't worry, it'll only be a matter of weeks, I'm sure.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chocolate Surprise!

Although I have been on a once-a-week-ish baking schedule lately, I had another event to bake for...So, lucky readers, here is cookie blog post #2 of the week. I woke up early on a Saturday morning to make these sweet birthday treats for my boyfriend's nieces and nephew who are celebrating turning the ripe old ages of 5 and 6. ahhh to be young, to be young ;)

I wanted to make something new and fun, so I found these simple-yet-complicated little cookies and thought I would give them a shot. The ingredient list is short, and made up of lots of things you may normally have on hand as a baker, so these could be a good last minute cookie, even though they take a little more time that the average treat.

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
semi sweet chocolate chunks

1/cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
3-4 tbsp milk
sprinkles for decorating

This ingredient list is for 1 batch of cookies, but I would suggest doubling it right off the bat. As usual, I'm sure I made my cookies bigger than they're actually supposed to be, but I barely squeaked out 18 cookies from this recipe, so I actually went ahead and cranked out batch #2 for the party.

First off, cream the butter on med speed for 30 seconds or so until its nice and creamy. On low speed, add in the vanilla and powdered sugar. Mix well, scraping down the bowl, then add in the flour a little at a time.

This is an eggless dough, so you will have that pastry-like, crumbly texture when the mixing is done. Do not fret, you've done it correctly. Just knead the dough with your hands a little bit to bring the dough together.

Using a teaspoon, measure out equal parts of dough, and form into a ball. I accidentally dropped my teaspoon measure in the garbage disposal and destroyed it (Joe if you're reading this, it was the old disposal, don't worry) so I had to resort to using my half tablespoon, which is pretty much the same thing.

I made the balls with about 1 to 2 tsps worth of dough. Into each dough ball, press one chocolate chunk into the center.

Reshape the ball so the chocolate is no longer showing.

Place them about an inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.

Let the cookies cool completely on a wire rack before attempting to frost. I went for a run while I let them cool, to burn off all the cookie dough and chocolate I "sampled" during the baking process ;)

To make the frosting, simply measure out the powdered sugar, add the vanilla, and whisk in the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until its at the desired consistency. I used a little too much vanilla so I got more of a "butterscotch" color instead of a white color. I would suggest using white vanilla extract if you really want that crisp snowy hue...

Dip the tops of the cooled cookies into the frosting and place them on the wire rack. I would suggest lining the counter with wax paper or some other paper to protect from drippy wet frosting. Immediately after dipping, sprinkle with your desired decoration. I dipped and sprinkled about 5 cookies at a time, since the frosting does harden up pretty quickly, you don't want to wait too long, lest your sprinkles fail to stick and roll onto your kitchen floor...

Allow the frosting to harden before you pack the cookies. I separated each layer with a piece of wax paper to try to keep them looking pretty. These little preventative measure usually fail miserably, but hey, at least I tried.

Happy Birthday kiddos!!!!