Cupcake Friday Project

A one-woman test kitchen meets nano-bakery

Category: cookies (page 2 of 8)

Kalamata olive savory shortbread bites

Kalamata olive savory shortbread bites

I love kalamata olives. I can eat them straight from the jar, daintily spitting out their pits as I reach for the next one. This amuses Ray.

I came across this recipe for savory shortbread a couple of months ago, and decided that I would divide the base dough (without olives or pepper) into 3 portions, adding a new mix-in to each. Essentially, why have 60 shortbread bites of ONE flavor when you can have THREE?

Well, of that experiment, I found 2 winners, one being the kalamata olive and black pepper. These are the perfect bites to put out as appetizers … they stand on their own, or can be accompanied by jam or cheese. And I love how they melt into your mouth with their buttery and salty goodness. Yummmmm.

Definitely give yourself time to make these. My best results come from letting the dough chill at least 12-24 hours. This works well when you don’t have a lot of time: you can make the dough and shape the logs one night, and then bake them the next.

Another quick note: because the recipe calls for a single egg, it’s pretty hard to scale down. My advice if you don’t need 60 shortbread cookies of ANY flavor:

• Make the base dough and flavor it with all your add ins, or divide the base dough and flavor with different add-ins per portion;
• Decide what you’ll be baking now, wrap well, label, and chill in the fridge.
• Take the remaining dough portion(s), wrap twice (nice and tight…don’t want air getting in), label and tuck into the freezer for later.
When you’re ready to break out your shortbread reserves from the freezer, simply take the portion out, unwrap, slice, and bake … you’ll just need to add 1-2 minutes onto the baking time.
Now you have NO excuse for never having shortbread around the house!

Kalamata olive and black pepper savory shortbread bites

Yield: Approximately 60 shortbread bites

Ingredients

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 tbsp sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/3 cup well-drained, pitted and finely minced kalamata olives

Directions

Prepare the dough ahead of time, because it will need to chill for at least 1 hour before you shape the shortbread bites.

Sift flour, baking soda and salt into a bowl. Stir in the pepper and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 mins.

Add egg yolk and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure an even mixture.

Slow add in the dry ingredients at a medium-low speed.

Fold in the minced olives.

The shortbread dough should be fairly easy to handle, but if it's a little sticky you can dust your hands with flour before handling.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it gently to bring it together.

Divide into two portions and roll them both into logs, about 1.5-inches in diameter. Wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

After chilling your dough logs thoroughly, heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or baking silicone.

Remove dough from the fridge, unwrap, and use a sharp knife to slice the bites into rounds, about 1/4-inch thick.

Place the shortbread bites onto the baking sheets, with at least an inch in-between each one.

Chill the full baking sheets in the freezer for 5 minutes (this will help keep them from spreading too much).

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. (If baking two trays at once, make sure you switch the top and bottom trays around half way through the baking time)

Leave the shortbread bites on the baking sheet for 5 minutes to cool and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

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Finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe: Round 2

Serious Eats Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Photo courtesy of Taylor Fisher, since I forgot the photograph the cookies myself!

 In January, I tried Saveur’s chocolate chip cookie recipe and found that the dough prep process was more than I wanted to deal with. See, when I think of chocolate chip cookies, I think of simplicity. I think of a grandmother whipping up cookies with her grandkids.

That said, for this round of searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, I still didn’t find the simplicity of process. But, in this case, Serious Eats’ chocolate chip cookie recipe marries science with process … and I’m a total nerd for science.

I made very few changes to Serious Eats’ recipe, though I skipped the addition of sea salt at the end and upped the chocolate from 8 oz to 16 oz (I like chocolate!). How did these cookies add up?

Pros
• Excellent flavor
•  Great texture … they maintained their chewiness for days

Cons
• This recipe is a bit process-intensive … melt the butter, brown the butter, whisk in an ice cube, etc. It might turn some people off.
•  Like the Saveur recipe, this cookie also lacked salt, which surprised me since it contains double the amount.

While these were pretty tasty cookies, they’re not what I would consider “ultimate” chocolate chip cookies. That said, I might go through the science of cookie article again and try to make some of my own tweaks.

Do you have a suggestion for a chocolate chip cookie recipe for me to try? Send it my way via emailFacebook, or in the comments!

Finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe: Round 1

Saveur Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are near and dear to my heart because they’re one of the first things I remember learning how to bake. And, hello, they’re delicious?

I used to follow the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip morsels bag, but within the last 5 years, I started using a variation of the chocolate chip cookie recipe from New Best Recipe. I’ve been pretty happy with it, however, the last few times I baked the recipe my results were not up to par. The cookies had way too much crunch, and sometimes were dry. So I’ve decided to start the hunt again for the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

I tackled Saveur’s recently published chocolate chip cookie recipe after seeing another food blogger have good results. Here’s a breakdown, in pros in cons.

Pros
• Tasty
• Keep well
• I like the emphasis on bittersweet chocolate

Cons
• The process of dividing the dough, chilling it, layering it with the chocolate, then rolling it out again is needlessly fussy
• The process made more of a mess within my workspace
• The recipe was lacking salt … I don’t need my cookies to be a salt lick, but even after increasing the salt from 3/4 tsp to 1 tsp, they were still a little bland

I may try the recipe again, omitting the dough prep process, and upping the salt a little more (maybe even sprinkling some sea salt on the dough before I bake it). But for now, this is not my ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Do you have a suggestion for a chocolate chip cookie recipe for me to try? Send it my way via email, Facebook, or in the comments!

Carrot cake cookies with cream cheese drizzle

Carrot cake cookies

For some reason, the idea of a carrot cake cookie popped into my head a week or so ago. And when our friends Aaron and Diane invited us over for a New Year’s Day Hair of the Dog-style party, I knew it would be the perfect excuse to make some.

My recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart, and instead of making a thick cream cheese frosting to sandwich in-between the cookies, I opted for a lighter drizzle.

Guests really enjoyed the cookies, and polished off the 3 dozen I brought with us (the other 2 dozen got divided up so I could send some for friends—un-iced—and keep some for us). Definitely give these a try if you’re a carrot cake fan, and if you like walnuts and raisins, add those, too!

Carrot cake cookies with cream cheese drizzle

Yield: 5 dozen

Ingredients

Carrot Cake Cookie Ingredients
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp princess cake and cookie baker's emulsion (optional)
1 1/2 cups oats
1 cup finely shredded carrots

Cream Cheese Drizzle Ingredients
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp whole milk

Directions

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, Chinese 5 spice, ginger and cloves in a bowl, whisking lightly to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for a minute, and then add the sugars. Beat on medium high for 3 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition.

Add the vanilla extract and Princess Cake and Cookie bakers emulsion, mixing to combine.

Gradually add the dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

Add the oats, mixing to combine, then add the finely shredded carrots, mixing again until combine.

Chill the dough for at least and hour.

As the dough chills, make the cream cheese drizzle.

Beat the cream cheese in the mixer until it's light and fluffy. Add the salt and mix to combine.

Sift the confectioners sugar into a separate bowl, then slowly add it to the cream cheese mixture. Beat to combine.

Add the lemon juice, followed by the milk, and beat on medium for 3-5 minutes. Set aside.

Once the dough has chilled, heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheets with parchment paper or bakers' silicone.

Scoop the dough with a tablespoon-sized spoon or scoop, positioning the cookies so there is at least 1.5 inches between them. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Once the cookies are golden, remove them from the oven and cool on the pans for 5 minutes, then remove them from the pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Once the cookies have cooled, apply the cream cheese drizzle with either a piping bag, spoon or fork. Do not stack, because this will smear the cream cheese.

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The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013: Dark chocolate caramel corn delights

Dark chocolate caramel corn delights

After having such a great time participating in my first Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and having a successful one-woman bake sale to support Cookies for Kids’ Cancer back in September, it was a no brainer to sign up again for the 2013 cookie swap. I love baking cookies, I love raising money for excellent causes, and I love receiving cookies from other bakers.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013

What’s funny is this year I played around with my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (again!) and took some inspiration from Joy the Baker (again!). I had pinned Joy’s Buttered Popcorn Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe ages ago, but decided that since I’ve been having so much fun making caramel corn from scratch, why not use that instead of buttered popcorn? It was an excellent decision.

Now, as a heads up, this recipe will yield more caramel corn than you need (about 5-6 oz more). I sent along packets of it to the bloggers I was assigned to send to through the swap, and you can do the same if you gift the cookies—who wouldn’t want a little packet of caramel corn to go with their cookies? If you’re not gifting these, just pack the caramel corn into an air tight container and enjoy in 2-4 days.

I received some really lovely cookies, ranging from lemon-scented thumb print cookies filled with homemade jam from Emily of West of the Loop, hot cocoa cookies from Sara of Sensibly Sara and eggnog cookies from Melissa from Red, White and Blueberries. But most importantly, the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap raised a total of $13,778.40 for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. We did something amazing.

Do you have a food blog and want to participate next year? Sign up here to receive notifications about when the 2014 swap will start to organize and do your part to share some cheer over the holidays and raise money to help some really wonderful kids. It’s good for the soul.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013: Dark chocolate caramel corn delights

Yield: 48 cookies

Ingredients

Caramel Corn Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp baking soda

Cookie Ingredients
2 cups plus 2 tbsp (10 5/8 oz) flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until just warm
1 cup (7 oz) light or dark brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
8.5 oz dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

Directions

Make the caramel corn first. Heat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large dutch oven, combine the olive oil and popcorn kernels over medium high heat. Put the lid on, and pop, shaking the pot from time to time. When the popping stops, remove the popcorn from the heat.

Sort through the popcorn, removing the unpopped kernels. Return the popcorn to the dutch oven, and set aside.

To make the caramel, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once melted, add the brown sugar and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Add the molasses, then turn the heat up and boil the caramel for 2-3 minutes until a deep amber.

Stir in the salt and vanilla, then add the baking soda, stirring until dissolved (the mixture will bubble up and lighten in color).

Pour the caramel over the popcorn in the dutch oven and stir to coat.

Pour the caramel corn onto the parchment paper, spread out, and place in the oven.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes, stirring the popcorn every 15 minutes.

Once done baking, cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes before incorporating into the cookie dough.

Note: This will make about 8-9 oz of caramel corn. However, you only need 3 oz (about 2 heaping cups) for the cookies, so you will have extra.

For the cookie dough, heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and position the racks upper- and lower-middle positions. Line 2 large baking sheets with bakers silicone or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk and vanilla until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients gradually and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chopped dark chocolate and 3 oz (about 2 heaping cups) of caramel corn. Be gentle ... you don't want beat up the caramel corn too much.

Form about 1 tbsp of the dough into a rough ball. Do not flatten; if anything, make the ball a little taller than it is wide.

Bake until the cookies for 8-9 minutes, then rotate the sheets front to back and top to bottom, baking for an additional 8-9 minutes. Let the cookies stand on the baking sheets for a minute or two, then transfer them to cooling racks.

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6 cookie recipes to celebrate National Cookie Day!

National Cookie Day

Who doesn’t love cookies, especially during the holidays? Well, since it seems that every food item has its very own day on the calendar, TODAY is National Cookie Day.

So, in doing my part to spread the cookie love, here are some of my favorite cookie recipes!

Chocolate chip cookies
Chocolate toffee chip cookies with almonds and smoked sea salt
Ethiopian Sidamo coffee sugar cookies
Pig-kissed chocolate chip cookies
Stegosaurus sugar cookies with root beer icing

And don’t forget, I’m hosting a Tipu’s Chai giveaway this week so you can make your very own Chai Sugar Cookies! To enter, leave me a comment on the recipe and giveaway post (at the top) on the Cupcake Friday Project Facebook Page. I’ll be drawing a winner on Friday.

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