Category Archives: Cookies and Crackers

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I have a sweet tooth.  There’s no getting around it.  I taught myself to bake mostly because I wanted to eat amazing cakes, cookies, tarts, pies…. There is an amazing thing that happens to me when I bake though.  I don’t usually have to eat very much of what I make.  The process of baking and creating something from scratch and the delicious smells that comes out of the oven are usually enough to satisfy me.  I can get by with a little bite or two.  But if someone else made the same dish, I fall upon it like a starving Hyena.  I have no idea why.  Right now, I’m doing a Master Cleanse.  If you’ve never heard of it, go check it out on this site.  Basically I’m drinking a lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper concoction for 16 days…NO FOOD.  I figure that at least once in my life I should do some heavy duty cleaning from the inside out. Anyway, I still have been baking, cooking, working normally.  I won’t lie, sometimes it’s been really hard not to eat, especially when it smells so great.  The hardest thing though has been trying to figure out if textures and tastes turned out okay on recipes that I’m putting together.  Like these cookies for instance.  I know in my brain that the combinations of ingredients should turn out great.  I haven’t tasted any though, so I’ve been taking them around to co-workers and family to find out the verdict.  I wanted something that was slightly crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside.  The sourness of the cherries to be balanced out by the sweetness of the chocolate chips.  I’m told that I’ve succeeded.  So, now you’ve got to try it out and see for yourself.

Cream the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla together

Stir in dried cherries, oats and mini chocolate chips by hand

Bake 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispy

Dried Cherry and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 large eggs

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dried cherries

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.  Cover a cookie sheet with silpat or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda and mix well.  In a separate bowl cream butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs until light and creamy.  Slowly add in the flour mixture until well incorporated.  Using a spatula or wooden spoon stir in oats, cherries and chocolate chips.  Using a scoop drop cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake for about 11 minutes for chewy cookies or 13-14 minutes for crispier cookies.  Transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool.  Makes about 36-40 cookies.

White Chocolate Chunk Cranberry Cookies

White Chocolate Chunk Cranberry Cookies

I love cookies with nuts in them.  Unfortunately, my husband is allergic to all nuts except cashews.  Which is a bummer since cashews are not ideal for every recipe.  I’m trying to make more cookies and quick breads that have enough “other” stuff in them that you don’t miss the nuts.  This is one of those cookies.  It’s variation of the basic chocolate chip cookie! The sweetness of the white chocolate chunks is nicely offset by the unsweetened dried cranberries and the brandy is great in this cookie.  Don’t skip it, you’ll love the flavor.  If you don’t have brandy on hand, then I guess you can use vanilla extract but I highly recommend the brandy!  Pour yourself a good cup of coffee, a few of these cookies and a good book…bliss!

Cream butter and sugars. Then add eggs and flour mixture.

Stir the chocolate chunks and cranberries by hand

Scoop cookies using a scoop on a silpat (or parchment) lined cookie sheet

Enjoy a few

White Chocolate Chunk Cranberry Cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tbsp brandy

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks

1 cup dried cranberries

Mix together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Set aside.  Using an electric mixer blend butter and sugars until creamy, add in the eggs and brandy until well blended.  Add flour mixture to the butter mixture beating at a low-speed until well blended.  Stir in white chocolate chunks (I used a knife and an ice pick to make my chunks) and cranberries by hand.  Drop cookie dough using a cookie scoop onto parchment or silpat lined cookie sheets.  Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom.  Cool on cooling racks.

Hazelnut and Nutella Sandwich Cookies

Hazelnut and Nutella Sandwich Cookies

There are some things in life that make great pairs.  They should just go together.  Like cheese and crackers, peanut butter and jelly and hazelnuts and chocolate.  Whoever came up with the deliciousness that is Nutella (it’s the same company that makes Ferraro Rocher!!) should get a culinary medal!  I could eat that stuff by the spoonfuls…and at certain times of the month, I have been known to do just that.  Not too long ago I tweaked another recipe and made chocolate dipped hazelnut tea cookies but I began thinking how delicious it would be to have hazelnut and nutella sandwich cookies.  An Oreo to call my own!!  The cookies had to be rolled so they were not too thick and have plenty of hazelnut flavor and have the wonderful nutella center.  I found a Pillsbury recipe that I could modify and here’s what I came up with…

Cream butter and sugar then add eggs and vanilla

Incorporate the hazelnuts into the cookie dough by hand

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes before rolling out

Cut out dough (I used a 2" circle cutter) and bake for 9 minutes at 350 degrees

Spread Nutella on the back of cooled cookies and place another cookie on top to make a sandwich

Heat up 1/2 cup or so of Nutella in the microwave and pour into a small ziplock bag (it's really useful to put the bag in a mason jar first)

Cut the tip off the corner of the bag to create a mini piping bag

Drizzle over each sandwich cookie

Hazelnut and Nutella Sandwich Cookies

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 eggs

3 cups flour

½ tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup hazelnuts, finely ground and toasted

Pre-heat oven to 350° F.  Using a food processor finely chop the hazelnuts and toast them in a dry skillet for a few minutes until fragrant and light brown in color.  Set aside.  In a mixing bowl cream together butter and sugar then add vanilla and eggs until nice and smooth.  Slowly add in baking powder and flour mixture until well incorporated.  Stir in hazelnuts by hand and wrap the dough in plastic wrap to refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes.

Take out chilled dough and roll out to about 1/4″ or slightly thinner.  Cut out circles using a 2 inch biscuit or cookie cutter.  Bake for about 9 minutes and cool on a cooling rack.

Spread a generous amount (about 1 1/2 to 2 tsp) Nutella on the back of the cookie and place another cookie on top making a little sandwich.  When all the cookies are paired up ~ yields about 30.  Take about 1/2 cup of nutella and microwave for 25 seconds and place in a small ziplock bag.  Cut a corner of the ziplock bag off to create a tip and drizzle warm nutella over each cookie in whatever pattern you choose.  Cool in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes and serve.  You can store the cookies in an airtight container, make sure to separate layers with wax or  parchment paper.

Decorated Sugar Cookies ~ The Epic 300

Decorated Sugar Cookies ~ The Epic 300

Much like the movie “300”, I too had my EPIC cookie “eggstravaganza” (sorry, couldn’t pass that up).    I think mentioned in yesterdays’ post that I thought it’d be great to make 300 sugar cookies and decorate them for Easter Sunday for everyone at church. Let me set this up by saying that I work outside the home, I am also in an Easter Passion Play so all my evenings are full of performances and there are a few other things going on in my life.  Not a good time to be baking giant batches of anything. But…. I had visions of stunning cookies decorated with amazing and artistic designs.  Oh, did I mention that I’ve not actually decorated sugar cookies before…you know the kind with royal icing that looks gorgeous.  I’ve made plenty of sugar cookies and plenty of royal icing (usually when making gingerbread houses at Christmas time) but never put the two together!  I thought I’d make some cute little chicks much like one of my favorite bloggers Pasta Princess who posted gorgeous decorated cookies recently (I bow to you Oh great one!).   Reality, however can be cruel! My decorating efforts  looked more like Angry birds than cute chicks.  My Tulips looked like flowers after a hail storm.  What was I thinking?  I learned a lot though.  When you make 300 cookies, by cookie number 200 you begin to figure a few things out, especially at 2 in the morning.  Guess what? I also had to make a few extra because some got eaten along the way….

The Sugar cookie recipe is one of my old standbys.  It’s delicious and works great.  The Royal Icing is also an old recipe that’s been around for a long time and is very versatile.  If it’s too stiff, add a little water, if it is too runny add a little more powdered sugar, darn near idiot proof.   What I really had to learn was all about decorating.  I’m a little embarrassed to post my efforts since they are so amateurish but at least they’re colorful!  Happy Easter everyone!

Cream butter, sugar and flavorings

Add flour slowly so you don't turn into the abominable snowman

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before use, instead of using flour use powdered sugar to roll out, this keeps the dough from getting tough.

Essential Royal icing ingredients...meringue powder and powdered sugar

Mix royal icing for at least 7 minutes to get the nice glossy soft peaks

Line edges of cookies with a thin line of royal icing in the color that you wish to have the cookie surface to be (this creates a little dam), the smoother your piping job the nicer the end product...as you can see I had issues

Using a squeeze bottle "flood" the cookie with watered down royal icing, use a toothpick to get to all the corners.

Before putting the watered down icing in the squeeze bottle be sure to get all the air bubbles out by letting it sit for a little while, this way you get a smoother surface.

When piping the royal icing make sure the consistency is smooth (add a little water and mix well) so it flows smoother

I know they are amateur efforts, but at least I know they taste good!

Sugar Cookies

1 cup sugar

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 eggs

3 cups flour

½ tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp almond extract

Pre-heat oven to 350o  In a large mixing bowl cream butter, sugar and flavorings together.  Add in eggs and mix well.  In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder and salt.   Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture until everything is well incorporated.  Divide dough into two balls, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.  This makes the dough easier to roll out.  When ready to roll out dough, dust the dough with powdered sugar so it won’t stick to the rolling-pin.  This allows the dough to keep its integrity without adding any more flour. Cut out desired shapes and bake for about 9-12 minutes depending on oven.  It should be light golden color, if you want it crisper, bake it the full 12 minutes.

 Royal Icing:

4 cups sugar

2 tablespoon Meringue powder

5 tbsp water

Gel based food coloring (this is a must, it is true color and doesn’t alter taste)

If meringue powder is not available(you can buy them at any bakery or restaurant supply store) then 2 egg whites can be used in its place.  To make sure that it is safe to eat it has to be tempered over a double boiler.

Mix meringue powder and sugar together and add the water.  Use an electric mixer on low-speed and mix for 7-10 minutes until icing is nice and glossy and soft peaks form.  If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment and let it mix for about 7-10 minutes.  Put it in an air tight container until ready to use.

Chocolate-dipped Hazelnut and Chocolate Chip Tea Cookies

Chocolate-dipped Hazelnut and Chocolate Chip Tea Cookies

I found a wonderful Hazelnut Tea Cookie recipe in this great food blog called Emmycooks. I love a good cookie, especially ones I can eat while sipping a good cup of tea.  I also really, really, really like Nutella.  It’s smooth velvety chocolate and rich hazelnut flavor is to die for.  It’s a standard “staple” at our house along with fresh ground peanut butter (so I can make a variety of Thai and Indonesian sauces and put it on my toast too).  You know what I had to do with this Hazelnut Tea Cookie recipe, I had to “Nutella-fy” it.  So now you have a choice, you can make the delightful original recipe from Emmy’s blog or you can also try this version.  It’s a win-win.

Cream brown sugar and butter then add the egg

Add in toasted hazelnuts and mini chocolate chips by hand

Drop by scoopfuls onto a cookie sheet (I use silpat to line my baking pans) and bake for 8 minutes at 375 degrees

Melt some chocolate chips with a little bit of vegetable oil in a double broiler (basically a heat safe bowl on a pan with some water in it)

Dip the bottom of the cookies in the melted chocolate

They are truly decadent

Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate-dipped Hazelnut and Chocolate Chip Tea Cookies

1 stick of butter (1/4 pound or 8 tablespoons), softened

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup AP flour

1 cup finely chopped Hazelnuts (toasting them really helps with the flavor)

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (for melting and dipping)

1 tsp vegetable oil

In a food processor finely chop Hazelnuts to yield one cup.  Put in a microwave safe plate or dish and microwave for 1-2 minutes stirring every 30 seconds or so until nicely toasted.  This intensifies the hazelnut flavor.

Cream the butter and the sugar together.  Add in egg, salt, soda and incorporate well.  Slowly add in the flour and mix well. Hand stir in the toasted hazelnuts and mini chocolate chips to the batter and drop by scoopfuls on to a Silpat lined or Parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake for about 8 minutes at 375 degrees.  Cool on a cooling rack.

In a heat safe bowl melt semi sweet chocolate chips with the vegetable oil over a double broiler (basically another pan with 1 1/2 inches of water in it that is heated up so the steam melts the chocolate, this is safer for the chocolate so it doesn’t burn, make the sure the bottom of the pan does not touch the water).  When chocolate is melted place each cookie bottom side down in the chocolate to coat it well.  Place the cookie on a cooling rack with the chocolate side up.  When all the cookies are coated place them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes for the chocolate to harden.  Serve with hot tea or coffee.

Gluten-free Goat Cheese Garlic and Cheddar Herb Crackers

Gluten-free Goat Cheese Garlic and Cheddar Herb Crackers

As a dietitian I get asked all the time about gluten-free recipes and food ideas since so many people it seems, either are diagnosed with Celiac Sprue or have developed wheat or wheat-related allergies.  One of the great things about food from different parts of the world, especially South Asia is that a variety of non-wheat based flours are used in cooking.  In any Indian, Bengali or Pakistani grocery store you will find “Besan” which is chickpea flour, split gram flour (a type of lentil), rice flours, potato flour and a myriad of other flours.  They are routinely used for everyday cooking in a variety of ways.  They are much less expensive to buy at an ethnic store than at a “specialty” or “health-food”  store. Not only are these delicious but they add a depth of nutritional content that is not found in traditional processed all-purpose wheat flour.  One of the complaints I hear about those having to go gluten-free is the lack of breads and crackers that taste delicious.  I recently made some homemade Thyme and Rosemary crackers http://kolpona.com/2012/03/21/thyme-and-rosemary-edam-crackers/ and decided that I could make a variation of that using non-wheat flour and the results were truly, truly delicious.  The rice flour adds a crunch to these crackers that make them so addictive that I must confess I ate most of the crackers by myself.  It was a little embarrassing.

Ingredients at a glance

Cream the butter and add the herbs, garlic and cheeses

Roll the dough into a log and wrap with plastic wrap - refrigerate at least 30 minutes

Slice refrigerated dough into 1/8 inch slices

Place about 1 inch apart on a parchment or silpat lined pan

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees

Here’s the recipe:

Gluten-free Goat Cheese Garlic and Cheddar Herb Crackers

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1/3 cup of goat cheese

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1  tsp dried dill

1 tsp dried thyme

1 whole clove garlic, pressed through garlic press

1 cup rice flour

1/4 cup chickpea flour (Besan)

1-2 tsp water (use only if the dough is not coming together)

In a medium-sized bowl cream butter with an electric mixer.  Add in herbs, garlic and cheese and continue mixing until well incorporated.  Slowly add in both the chickpea and the rice flour, add the water if needed for the dough to come together.  I did not add any salt to this recipe since goat cheese is pretty salty.  You can add some kosher salt to taste if you’d prefer. Roll into about a 9″ log and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and cut the log into 1/8 to 3/8 inch rounds with a sharp knife.  Place on a parchment or silpat  lined cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on a cooling rack before serving.  Makes about 24-28 crackers but you can tell others it only makes 6 (which is what I had to do because I ate most of them myself)

Thyme and Rosemary Edam Crackers

Thyme and Rosemary Edam Crackers

I enjoy finding bargains and especially food bargains.  Today on my grocery store run, I discovered some Edam cheese on sale for only  75 cents for an 8 ounce package.  I couldn’t pass up that deal so I decided to buy a few packages.  I really enjoy different kinds of cheese but Edam was fairly new to me so I decided to try it out.  I loved the soft texture and the medium flavor.  I decided that it would be great to try to make homemade crackers with them.  How hard could it be?  I’d made plain cheese crackers before and thought it would be nice to balance out the flavors of this cheese with some fresh herbs.  So, here it is, my little creation.  They were fantastic with some fresh salad that had D’Anjou pears in them.

Ingredients at a glance

Rub together the minced Thyme and Rosemary with the Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to release flavors

Cream the butter

Add the herbs and salt mixture along with the shredded Edam

After adding the flour and about a tablespoon of water a soft dough should form

Roll into a log and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes

Slice dough into about 1/4 inch thickness

Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes

Thyme and Rosemary Edam Crackers

It was awesome with some fresh salad.

Here’s the recipe:

Thyme and Rosemary Edam Crackers

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup shredded Edam cheese

1 tsp fresh Thyme, minced

1/2 tsp fresh Rosemary, minced

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

1 tablespoon water (may take a little less or more)

1 1/4 cup flour

Mix together Rosemary and Thyme with the salt and pepper and rub it together to release the flavors.  Set aside.  In a mixing bowl cream the butter until smooth and add the cheese and the herb mixture.  Slowly add in flour and keep mixing at low speed.  If necessary use the tablespoon of water (may take a little more or less depending on the humidity) to make the dough come together.  Take out of the bowl and roll into a 9 inch log.  Wrap the log with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpat liner.  Using a very sharp knife cut the log into 1/4 or 3/8 inch slices.  Place on the prepared cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 20-22 minutes.  They should be a beautiful golden brown color.  Cool and enjoy as an appetizer or with any kind of salad.  They are wonderful with some D’Anjou pears sliced thinly on top as well.  Makes about 28 crackers.