We are introduced, at an early age, to the sweet wondernous of a cookie. From teething cookies to soothe the swollen aching gums of incoming incisors, onto animal crackers purchased in rectangular-shaped boxes bearing a string handle for easy toting by little fingers. Deciding which part of the animal should be eaten first-the trunk of the elephant or the tail of a lion-depended on how hungry one was. Savor each and every one or simply gobble them down as fast as possible.

My next cookie memory would be the ever famous, possibly all-time favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. There is nothing better than to bite into a round circle of baked dough sprinkled with gooey melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. A chocolate chip cookie can dry tears, heal broken hearts, mend scraped knees and elbows and solve sibling arguments. Most of the problems in the world could likely be solved by a properly baked, right out of the oven, chocolate chip cookie. The power of a cookie is underestimated.

I will attempt in the next 365 days to prepare and comment on a year’s worth of different cookies-one for each day. My goal is to share with others my extreme love of cookies-baking them and especially eating them! Feel free to send me your favorite recipe, your earliest cookie memories, or how cookies may have influenced your life. Cookies Rule!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cookie Recipe #365 - Bacon Chocolate Chip

Day one began with my favorite - Chocolate Chip Cookies - so it's only fitting that this blog end with a variation of Recipe #1. Today's cookie has the simple addition of bacon (I knew I could find a reason to have cookies for breakfast!) Simply reduce the salt by half and add a few cooked and crumbled slices of bacon. It's surprising how good they are.

Ingredients: 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened, 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 pound of bacon (or more, depending on individual taste), cooked and crumbled.

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter; add both sugars and continue beating until thoroughly mixed. Add in eggs and vanilla, mxing well. Mix in salt, baking soda and flour until thoroughly incorporated. By hand, stir in chocolate chips and bacon.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls on ungreased baking sheets. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for about 11 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned. Allow to cool on baking sheet for a minute or two before transferring to wire racks.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Cookies Rule!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Cookie Recipe #364 - Peanut Butter Pizza Cookies

These are similar to Cookie Recipe #351, but have a peanut butter cookie base with lots of goodies on top and are smaller in size (but not in calories).

Ingredients: Cookies: 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar, 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I used chunky), 1/2 cup shortening, 3 tablespoons milk, 1 tablespoon vanilla, 1 egg, 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda. "Pizza" sauce: 1 cup milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons shortening. "Pizza" topping: an assortment of: candy coated chocolate pieces, miniature marshmallows, assorted nuts, raisins, gummy bears, gumdrops, coconut, etc. Drizzle: 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, 1/2 teaspoon shortening.

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place foil on 2 baking sheets. Trace 2 7-inch circles on foil using a pan lid and a knife (pushing lightly). Spray foil with cooking spray; set aside.

For cookies, combine brown sugar, peanut butter, shortening, milk and vanilla in large mixing bowl. Add egg and beat just until blended. Add flour, salt and baking soda to brown sugar mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Shape each into a disk; place a disk in the middle of each circle and spread evenly to edge with hands.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15-16 minutes or until set. Use the back of a spoon to flatten center and up to edge of each hot cookie to resemble pizza crust. Cool 5-8 miniutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies on foil to cool completely.

For pizza sauce, combine chocolate chips and shortening in large microwave-safe bowl. Micro for 2-4 minutes or until chips are shiny and soft. Stir until smooth. Spoon 1/4 of chocolate mixture into center of each pizza cookie. Spread to edge of depressed area. Sprinkle desired toppings over chocolate.

For drizzle, place white chocolate chips and shortening in heavy resealable plastic food storage bag. Seal. Micro for 1 minute; knead bag. Repeat until smooth. Cut pinpoint hole in corner of bag. Drizzle over cookies in random design.

Makes 4 7-inch cookie pizzas.

"Treasury of Holiday Cookies", Publications International, Ltd., Lincolnwood, IL, 1994.

Cookies Rule!!!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Cookie Recipe #363 - Espresso Shortbread

Need to stay awake to greet the New Year? Eat a few of these delicious shortbread cookies for that extra "burst" of energy. Make up earlier in the day, then leave in the refrigerator until evening-just slice, bake and serve!

Ingredients: 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 1/2 tablespoons finely ground espresso beans, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

Instructions: Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the mixing blade and mix until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the flour, ground espresso beans, vanilla and salt, mix well and scrape again. Form the dough into 1 1/2-inch-diameter logs and cover with parchment paper. Place the logs in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly spray with cooking spray; set aside. With the tip of a very sharp knife, cut 1/4 - 1/2-inch slices of the dough and place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake until the cookies are just beginning to brown on the edges, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

"Cookies 52 Easy Recipes for Year-Round Baking", John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2007.

Cookies Rule!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cookie Recipe #362 - Pink Meringue Clouds

Have leftover candy canes? Today's cookie makes good use of them, even if, and especially if, they are broken. Make the meringue first, then the cookie; throw them together, bake, and you have a minty cookie.

Ingredients: Peppermint Meringue: 2 egg whites (save yolks for cookies), 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon vinegar, 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 cup coarsely crushed peppermint candy. Cookies: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2/3 cup vegetable shortening, 2 unbeaten egg yolks, 1/4 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 4-5 drops red food coloring, if desired.

Instructions: Prepare Meringue: Beat egg whites with salt until soft mounds form. Gradually add sugar; continue beating until meringue stands in stiff, glossy peaks. Fold in vanilla, vinegar, chocolate chips, and peppermint candy; set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In large mixing bowl, beat shortening and sugar together, creaming well. Blend in egg yolks, milk, vanilla, and food coloring, if using. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder and blend thoroughly.

Shape dough into balls using a rounded teaspoonful for each. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten to 1/4-inch thickness with fingers or bottom of glass covered with a damp cloth. Top each cookie with a rounded teaspoonful of Meringue.

Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until meringue is lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

"Pillsbury's Best 11th Grand National Bake-Off Cookbook", presented by Mrs. Earlene Weber, Columbus, OH, 1959.

Cookies Rule!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cookie Recipe #361 - German Chocolate Cookies

These truly do taste like German chocolate cake, only in cookie form. Simple to make and even simpler to eat.

Ingredients: 3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks)unsalted butter, at room temperature, 1 cup light brown sugar, packed, 1 large egg, at room temperature, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes, 1 cup pecans, lightly toasted and cooled, coarsely chopped, 4 ounces German sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped.

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray; set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. Scrape dow the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Again scrape down the sides of the bowl; add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt and mix until everything is well incorporated. Add the coconut, pecans and chocolate, and mix again.

Drop the dough by heaping teaspoons about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the preheated 350 degree oven 10-12 minutes or until the underside of the cookie begins to firm up. Cool on the cookie sheet before transferring to wire racks.

Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies.

"Cookies 52 Easy Recipes For Year-Round Baking", John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, 2007.

Cookies Rule!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cookie Recipe #360 - Pogasca

This is a Hungarian cookie that resembles a biscuit. In Hungarian folktales these were made as the ideal travel food for journeys.

Ingredients: 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen and grated, 1 cup sour cream, 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature, 1 large egg white, beaten with a fork.

Instructions: About an hour before baking, place butter in freezer. Remove and grate in bowl; set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or spray lightly with cooking spray; set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix until the ingredients are well incorporated. While the mixer is going, add the frozen, grated butter, sour cream and egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well between additions, until it forms a smooth dough.

Roll the dough out to 1/2-inch thickness, punch out cookies with a 1-inch cookie cutter and transfer to the prepared baking sheets and place about 2 inches apart. Using a sharp knife, make a crisscross pattern on top. Brush with the egg white and transfer to the preheated 400 degree oven. Bake for 5 minutes and then reduce the oven to 350 degrees. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

"Cookies 52 Easy Recipes For Year-Round Baking", John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2007.

Cookies Rule!!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cookie Recipe #359 - Custard-Filled Cookies

Make the custard first in this recipe and let it chill while you make the cookies. Spread on top, sprinkle with cinnamon, confectioners' sugar or cocoa and viola! it's a cookie!

Ingredients: Custard: 1 cup sweetened condensed milk, one 1/2-inch piece vanilla beat split lengthwise OR 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 large egg yolks, room temperature.
Cookies: 1/2 cup butter, softened, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg, 2 tablespoons heavy cream, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour. Topping: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, OR 1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar OR 1 teaspoon cocoa powder.

Instructions: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat condensed milk with vanilla bean or vanilla extract until small bubbles form on surface.

Whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl. Stirring constantly, slowly add 1/2 cup of the hot milk to the egg yolks. Add the tempered egg yolks to the milk mixture in the saucepan. Stirring constantly with a metal spoon or whisk, cook for 5 minutes or until custard heavily coats the back of a spoon. Be careful not to let the custard boil.

Strain custard through a sieve. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Cookies: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix butter and sugar in medium bowl; add egg and cream and mix until thoroughly blended. Scrape sides of bowl. Add the flour and blend on low speed just until combined. Do not overmix.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets 1 inch apart. With your thumb or the back of a small spoon, form a small depression in center of each ball.

Bake 15-17 minutes or until bottoms begin to brown. Transfer cookies to cool, flat surface. When cookies cool to room temperature, spoon or pipe in 1 1/2 teaspoons of chilled thickened custard. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon, confectioners' sugar or cocoa, if desired.

Makes 1 1/2-2 dozen cookies.

"Mrs. Fields Cookie Book", Time-Life Books Inc., Alexandria, VA, 1992.

Cookies Rule!!!