cookies

Oreos

by Caroline


I know I’ve posted this recipe for Oreos before, but it is so easy, and so delicious, it’s worth reposting. This time I happened to make pink filling for Valentine’s Day, but you could make egg-shaped Oreos with pastel filling for Easter, or baseball Oreos for your kid’s team, or you could simply make Oreos today because it is Friday and that’s as good a reason as any.

Oreo Cookies

In a mixing bowl, beat till fluffy
1 cup room temperature unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
In a separate bowl, sift together
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa*
1/2 tsp salt

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter to make a stiff dough. Remove from the bowl, knead a couple times on a lightly floured board to make sure it’s fully combined, then shape into a disk and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

To bake:
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut the dough into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time and keeping the remainder cold, roll out to about 1/4” thickness. Cut into circles or whatever shape you desire, place on a cookie sheet, and bake 15 minutes or till firm. Cool on a rack. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

When cool, make sandwiches with the following filling:
1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter beaten till fluffy with
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar and
1/2 tsp. vanilla

*Note: I use half regular cocoa and half black cocoa (available from King Arthur Flour) for a real “oreo” color.

Cranberry Coconut Cookies

by Caroline

Apparently some folks out there have strong feelings about coconut. I have even heard the H-word bandied about. Not in my family, though. We put it in granola, in cake, in amazing no-bake brownies and ice cream, quick macaroons and muffins. And while mostly we bake with it (and I admit it was fun sifting through the archives to find all our coconut recipes) we also put it in savory dishes like curries and kale.

So of course I was going to try this cookie recipe from Sunset Magazine, which incorporates three of our favorite winter flavors: orange, cranberry, and coconut. If you’re a coconut fan, you’ll want to give them a try.

1 1/2 cups (3/4 lb.) butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked dried coconut

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, orange peel, and vanilla until smooth.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, then mix until dough comes together, about 5 minutes. Mix in cranberries and coconut.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheets.

Bake until cookie edges just begin to brown, 8 to 11 minutes (shorter baking time will yield a chewier cookie; longer baking time will yield a crispier cookie). Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then use a wide spatula to transfer to racks to cool completely.

Jam Today cookies

by Caroline

One of the contributors to this anthology is a freelance writer I met when I first moved to San Francisco. Liz hired me for an administrative job at a translation agency, despite the fact that I failed the math test she gave me to see if I could accurately calculate bids on jobs. Luckily for me, filling the office with congenial people mattered to her – and, the office had a proper calculator.

Work at the translation agency didn’t last long, but our friendship – built on our shared interests in writing, food, and raising our kids – has. She is the source of our go-to chocolate birthday cake, and recently gave me her recipe for jam bars. I made them with half raspberry jam (to please Eli) and half orange marmalade (to please Ben). Eli, who doesn’t like much of anything right now except apples, carrots, rice and tofu, didn’t like the cookies, but his loss. I think they’re great and offer the recipe just as Liz wrote it up:

Jam Today cookies
“The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday—but never jam to-day.”
—Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

I created these cookies as a way to utilize the jars and jars of marmalade given to me by a friend, but it has become my most versatile, crowd-pleasing cookie. You can make it with dried fruit, with store-bought jam of any kind, or with the homemade jam of your choice. Bitter marmalade is especially tasty, but apricot is a close second, followed by a never-to-be repeated combination of the tail ends of three jars of jam: peach, apricot, and cherry. As an added bonus, this recipe is ridiculously easy to make, and ridiculously easy to double if you happen to be feeding a crowd (or running a bake sale). The results are especially delicious served for tea, but we have been known to eat these cookies for breakfast, too. You got a problem with that?

Preheat the oven to 350° degrees. Locate your 9×9-inch baking pan (glass or metal) and lightly grease the bottom and side.

For the filling:
Use a half-pint jar (1 cup) of your favorite jam
Or
Make a filling by combining 1 cup dried chopped apricots and some water to barely cover (add more if it seems dry while cooking) in a saucepan; simmer till soft.

For the dough:
In a large mixing bowl, cream:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
Add:
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (dark or light, it matters not)
and beat until fluffy. Then add:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup oatmeal (regular oats, not instant)
½ tsp. salt
and mix well. The resulting dough will be crumbly but moist.
Press a little more than half of the dough into the baking pan. Spread the filling evenly over this bottom layer, then crumble the remaining dough over the top.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the whole surface is bubbly and the edges get a little dark. Allow to cool in the pan for at least twenty minutes before slicing.
Makes sixteen cookie squares. I highly recommend sharing them with friends and neighbors or you will end up eating them all yourselves.

Chocolate Almond Apricot Biscotti

by Caroline

You never know what will draw you into a recipe. A picture? An ingredient? Sometimes it’s a word; any recipe with the word “caramelized” in it gets me. Or it can be a phrase, as in the line that grabbed me several years ago when I spotted this recipe in Sunset magazine and made it part of our regular cookie repertoire: “These biscotti are crumbly delivery systems for chewy apricot bits, hunks of dark chocolate, and crunchy almonds.”

I got out a bowl and got to work.

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup diced dried apricots
2/3 cup slivered almonds
4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt 5 to 6 times to blend.

In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, vanilla, and eggs; add to flour mixture and pulse 10 to 12 times to form a dough.

Turn dough out into a large mixing bowl. Add apricots, almonds, and chocolate, and stir to mix thoroughly.

Put dough on baking sheet and form into two 12-in.-long loaves. Flatten tops slightly and bake until loaves are golden but give slightly when pressed, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove loaves from oven and reduce temperature to 325°. Let loaves cool 5 minutes, then cut on the diagonal into 1/2- to 3/4-in.-thick slices. Arrange slices flat on baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool completely on racks.

Super-decadent No-Bake Fudge Brownies

by Caroline

I may never bake another brownie again. Oh, I will certainly make brownies, but now I’ve found a recipe that rivals even the one I discovered in Kate Moses’ gorgeous memoir-with-recipes, Cakewalk, the brownie recipe I said — oh, less than two months ago — was the last brownie recipe you would ever need.

Well. If you want brownies without turning the oven on (which is useful in the summer) keep this recipe handy.

The irony here is that I did have to turn the oven on. Lacking the chocolate wafer cookies that are a key ingredient, and with my local market out of stock, I baked them myself rather than drive around to other markets looking for them. My recipe comes from Alice Medrich’s glorious Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies but you can find a very similar version of the recipe at Smitten Kitchen.

And yes, I did put up with a fair amount of teasing for baking cookies to grind up to put in my no-bake brownies. Those folks would be eating their words if their mouths weren’t so full of brownies right now.

Here’s what you need:

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups evaporated milk (from one 12-ounce can)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups finely ground chocolate wafer cookies (from two 9-ounce packages; if you bake these yourself from the recipe linked above, you’ll have plenty for the brownies plus a dozen or so leftover. Do not share them with anyone who teases you about baking cookies to put into no-bake brownies.)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons salted cocktail peanuts
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
Salt

Here’s what you do:

Line a 9-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all sides.

Heat chocolate and evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until chocolate melts and is smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Set aside 1/3 cup.*

Combine cookies, 2 cups coconut, 1 cup peanuts, the sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Pour in chocolate mixture; stir until combined.

Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan. Spread reserved 1/3 cup chocolate over top. Finely chop remaining 2 tablespoons coconut and 2 tablespoons peanuts; sprinkle evenly over chocolate.* Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours. Remove brownies from pan by lifting plastic wrap. Remove plastic, and cut into 24 brownies.

Keep refrigerated (or even frozen). These would be excellent broken up and stirred into ice cream.

* I didn’t read the recipe very carefully (typical) and forgot to reserve chocolate/peanuts/coconut for the topping, but of course the brownies taste just as good with all those ingredients inside rather than on top.