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!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Cookie Mishap....hey, nobody's perfect!

Every so often I like to try a new cookies recipe to keep myself interested and on my toes. I've been eyeing this "fruit dream" recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks for a while, and in theory, it sounded like a great idea....

Basically, it's a sugar cookie dough, with about a 1/2 cup of fruit drink mix. The Drink mix should give the cookies a tart, intense, fruity flavor. Unfortunately, mine were a bit too tart, and WAY too intense.

Maybe it was my choice of "Crystal Light, Strawberry energy" drink mix that was at fault....
But it sure smelled delicious at the beginning. Joe likened it to Strawberry Quick, I really thought I had a winner....

Looks delicious enough right? Wrong.

I tried a bit of the cookie dough as I was shaping the cookies, and I noticed a tangy, odd, gross aftertaste. In that order. There was actually a gradual progression to gross as you chewed the cookies....

This did not improve after baking. Very weird. The first couple of chews were kinda tasty, then the weird....then the gross aftertaste.

Yuck. Joe actually said "I wouldn't feed those to anybody." I agreed. Although I did make my poor friend Kim at work try one, so someone else could understand the weirdness....

I don't think I'll give up totally on this recipe. I may give it a shot again with something easy like lemonade mix. I would advise against using anything with an artificial sweetener (such as Crystal Light Energy). I believe that was where things went awry.

Unfortunately, I made these gross cookies for a reason, because Joe's sister was coming over for dinner with her hubby, and kiddos. Clearly I had to think fast....

And some snickerdoodles for good measure.... (http://shan-thecookiemonster.blogspot.com/2010/01/old-favorite.html)

Can't go wrong with the tried-and-true staples. Success.

Stay tuned for fruit dream cookies round 2. I'm feeling good about the lemonade option, we'll see how it goes.

Happy Baking!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Snack Attack Cookies

My Friend Kirsten has a fabulous food blog (http://www.morecheesemorechocolate.com/) and she wrote about a cookie recipe MONTHS ago that I've been dying to try. Her "compost cookies" incorporated 3 types of "snack foods" and 3 types of "baking items" all rolled into one big chunk of yummy cookie dough.
It's a rainy Sunday afternoon, so I decided I would finally give these cookies a shot. They sound a little weird, so I just went for half of a batch, and I wasn't as brave as Kirsten, who actually used bacon as one of her "snack foods." Instead I opted for Goldfish, tortilla chips, and pretzel sticks, along side Heath bar toffee bits, coconut, and chocolate chunks.
Ingredients: (double this for a full batch of cookies)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 + brown sugar (slightly more than 1/3)
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
3/4+ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups snack food (1/4 cup of each)
3/4 cup baking stuff (1/4 cup of each)
First off, cream together your butter and sugars.

Then slowly add in your dry ingredients with the mixer on low speed.
When the dough is evenly mixed throw in all your crazy ingredients. I was pretty happy with this selection, although the options are endless. Maybe next time I'll through in some honey roasted peanuts or cashews, raisins, white chocolate. Oh the possibilities!
Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before baking. This is a must for this recipe, as the cookies will spread out quite a bit while baking, so getting the dough cold is an essential structural step ;)Measure out your cookies and roll them into small tablespoon sized balls, and place them 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Definitely use parchment for these, and definitely give them plenty of room on the sheet.
The Recipe said to bake them at 400 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Mine got quite crispy after 9. I think next time I would bake them at 375 for 9 minutes. I had a few burn victims.

Let cool, and enjoy! Joe and I polished off about half of these pretty instantly. I think these may be a new staple. I wonder how sour cream and onion potato chips would taste in here. hmmmm.....

Happy Baking!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wedding Favor Cookies

My cousin Jennifer got married yesterday. WHAT. I was kind of in disbelief, but it really hit me when I realized I had actually volunteered to make her wedding favors. Cookies of course. After her bridal shower (http://shan-thecookiemonster.blogspot.com/2010/06/jenn-and-ajs-wedding-shower.html) I received a request for the Jenn and AJ cookies, as a favor for her 100 guests.

I enthusiastically said “of course!” And then realized I was in for quite a bit of work. Being stubborn and particular, I turned down help from quite a few of my lovely friends (Jenn, Kim, Jame, Nicola to name a few). So I decided to break up the madness into 3 phases, over 3 nights.

Phase 1:
Dough Making. Since you have to chill rolled dough anyway, I decided to make all of the dough in one night, then chill it until Phase 2, on Wednesday: Rolling and cutting. I wanted to class-it-up a bit for the wedding, but still use a recipe I was really comfortable with, so I tweaked my favorite sugar cookie recipe a bit….

1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup shortening
¾ cups sugar
dash salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 orange
2 cups flour

I decided, for the sake of being systematic, that I would measure out everything first. That way I could just plow through batch after batch without fussing with a measuring cup or spoon. I zested all five oranges at once, which was the opposite of fun. My wrist was killing me! Then I packaged all the zest in little individual packets of citrusy goodness.

I didn't want to let these oranges go to waste, so I squeezed them all into a glass and added a little vodka. Fresh squeezed screwdriver. Yum.

After all this prep work was done, I stacked all my ingredients neatly and decided to bang out some of the packaging details…

First I stickered all my little treat bags with my new “Cookie Monster” stickers. Check ‘em out!
I’m kind of a big deal. Well not really. Maybe someday.

Then I cut up little ribbon sections that I used to tie the bags with. Once I was tired of fussing with packaging, I started making the dough by the usual process: Creaming the butter/shortening, adding the sugar and zest, scraping down the bowl, adding the egg and vanilla, then finally the flour.

Eventually, your dough will look like so.

Divide this dough into two equal parts.

Wrap each ball with plastic wrap. Then, repeat all steps. Until you have 10 dough balls taking over the fridge.
Once I got all of the dough into the fridge, it was time for bead. The next day, I began phase 2: rolling, cutting, and baking the cookies.

First I started rolling out the dough, one ball at a time. My goal was to get at least 11 cookies out of every ball. I was able to make quite a few extra cookies this way, so I could pick out the prettiest ones to use for the wedding. I busted out my super cool cookie cutter.

....and started cutting out the cookies.

I baked them at 375 for about 7 minutes, until the edges were starting to brown.


Once I had baked all the cookies (about 120 total) I let them cool on a wire rack and packed them for the night. Phase three of this project started thursday night, when I set out to frost/decorate all the cookies. I made up a batch of royal icing, and used a combo of food coloring to get this purple shade, the same color as the bridesmaid dresses.

With a round tip on my pastry bag, I decided to draw little bows with the purple icing, and decorate the bows with these pretty little sugar pearls.

This actually didn't take as long as I feared it would. I cranked right along.

Until I had 105 decorated little beauties.

These were the reject cookies. I actually had a couple of them for breakfast this morning. They may not be pretty, but they taste really good.

My next task, and this was actually the most time consuming part, was to bag and tie each cookie in their little favor bags.

After a while my fingers started to cramp up from all the bow-tying.

I carefully packed up all the little favors in a big box, with lots of bubble wrap in between layers.
And happily, the cookies survived the trip! They went out on the tables around the centerpieces. I was pretty pumped with how well they came out.
Yay! Celebrations commence!

Happy baking!