Sunday, December 11, 2011


...the patriarch may have been correct. Only cut his prediction in half, and here we are.

Although we still have a pantry full of cookie-making supplies, and 14 days until Christmas (and a mere 9 days until Hanukkah!!), we are bowing out unless the inrpiration seizes us (as it very well might).

We have loved making cookies, but it has been difficult during the nights when Suzannah has two tutoring appointments after school and Sicily has catching lessons and we all come back together at nine. Somehow, baking cookies is not what we are looking forward to most at that hour, and we would like this to be about doing things that make us joyful, not dutifully completing onerous tasks.

Plus, honestly, all these cookies are making Suzannah feel a little buttered out. Our two week total was on pace to be as follows:

six pounds of butter
32 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
20 ounces of white chocolate
32 ounces of unsweetened chocolate
six pounds of sugar
six pounds of flour
two pounds of oats
four cups of nuts (various)
one dozen eggs

Plus assorted other ingredients (vanilla, cranberries, honey, etc). Yum, but after a fashion....meh. A bit much.


We will bake again. Probably on weekends. Maybe even a couple different cookies each day. We may show up at your door with a batch. But, for now, we are on daily cookie-baking hiatus.

We are set for a while; we have several dozen cookies still.

But Santa will need his cookies, and fudge must be made at least once.

So stay tuned.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 9 1/2

Cookies for breakfast today, and probably tomorrow as well. Our week has been a hectic one, and we needed a little break, so today we focused on two cookies: Apple Cider Caramel Cookies and Honey Refridgerator Cookies.

We begin with the second one, as there is little to report. The Honey Cookies came together quickly, and, as their name suggests, needs a day or two of reflection in the 'fridge before baking. We dutifully formed them into a log and will cut them tomorrow for breakfast (with several rashers of bacon from Patak the best Bavarian meat store in Georgia. Well, maybe the only one, but still very good.)

Now on to today's breakfast. There are fresh eggs in there, so that's counts, right?

There really no need to explain anything else. All you need to know is this:

 Sublime. Addictive. Not-of-this-world delicious.  Also, breakfast, and difficult to part with (but we are taking some to the lovely owner of Wildhorse Tack today for the holiday open house. Not many, and the recipe is sparse, but some.)

Tomorrow's cookie will have a hard time topping today's but I am sure it will do its best: Cinnamon Palmiers (plus our Honey Cookies)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day Eight

We will begin at the end today.

Diabolical. We ARE the sweet genius. Today's cookie is Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies, and they.are.delicious.

Unassuming to start with.

Flattened (make them half the size the recipe calls for), a deeply chocolate, not-too-sweet soft cookie, filled with a simple buttercream. Instead of the peppermint extract and food coloring called for in the recipe, we made a candy cane powder and added that.

"After eating chocolate you feel godlike, as though you can conquer enemies, lead armies, entice lovers." ~Emily Luchetti!


Tomorrow's cookie: Honey Refridgerator Cookies

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day Seven

Today we had a guest baker - student from HoneyFern -  join us in making the cookies. Today we made  No-bake Chocolate Oat Bars. These cookies are probabley the easist cookies we have ever made. When we made these cookies we did not have semi-sweet chocolate chips, so we had to use 3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, plus 3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, chopped up:

We added 1/4 cup of sugar, which probably changed the texture of the cookies.

The Recipe

1 cup (two sticks) butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups uncooked quick oats
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup crunchy or creamy peanut butter

Grease 9-inch square baking pan. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and vanilla; mix well. Stir in oats.  Nuts might be good here, too. Toasted pecans, maybe?

Cook over low heat 2-3 min. or until ingredients are well blended. Press half mixture into prepared pan. Use back of large spoon to spread mixture evenly.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips in small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirrring occasionally. Stir in peanut butter.

Pour chocolate mixture over oat mixture in pan; spread evenly with knife or spoon. Crumble remaining oat mixture over chocolate layer, pressing down gently. Cover and refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cutting into bars.

We haven't tasted these cookies yet; our plan is to have them for breakfast tomorrow morning. They have oats in them, and that is breakfast food, right?
Up Next: TBD. We have to select the next few cookies to bake us into the weekend so we can re-supply and come up with a plan. Monday-Wednesday is problematice, time-wise, so we need to figure out a fast cookie for those days. Suggestions are encouraged.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day Six

We are handing out cookies as fast as we can. We are not sure if you realize just how many cookies we are drowning in. It is not our usual MO to hand out baked treats to strangers for the holidays, but we have started boxing up and handing out little tins of assorted cookies. Just make sure to return the tin; we have 19 days left.

Today is Russian Teaballs. This is a simple little recipe, uncomplicated and quick, perfect for a rainy night with tutoring and softball catching lessons.

1 cup softened butter
2 cups powdered sugar (approximately. Only 1/2 c. is actually in the cookie)
2 1/4 cup all-pupose flour
1/2 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar until fluffy. Mix in flour, salt, vanilla extract and walnuts to form a stiff dough. You could chill the dough at this point if you'd like to make it ahead of time. It might stop the spread - always an issue for us. Roll into balls (smaller the better; ours are too big. Smaller than a walnut, bigger than a pea). Bake 1 1/2 inches apart until the bottoms are golden brown. For us tonight, that was 15 minutes. Darker pans bake faster than lighter plans, and we are using parchment paper to minimize clean-up, but you could just put them on the pan. Remove from cookie sheet immediately and toss in powdered sugar. Cool the cookies in the sugar. Try not to eat them all at once.

This recipe doubles perfectly, and you can even freeze it, pulling it out to be impressive when necessary. Or saving it all for yourself.

Our picture-taking mojo was off a bit this evening; we were rushed, and there even were conversations about cooking two types of cookie tomorrow, quickly nixed, as tomorrow promises to be twice as hectic as tonight.

Rushing caused a minor tragedy with a hot cookie:

In the end, though, things worked out. Isn't that the way?

There was quite a debate over tomorrow's "cookie." One of us argues that it isn't really a cookie, as it is a no-bake bar; the other believes that we can be a bit liberal in our interpretation of "cookie" on nights with two tutoring clients, plus our normal school day, animals to feed and studies to coordinate.

So for Day 7: No-Bake Chocolate Oat Bars, recipe to be announced tomorrow.

(for those of you keeping track, we have used 2 pounds of butter, 2 cups of walnuts, four pounds of cane sugar, one pound of powdered sugar, 3 eggs and five pounds of flour. It is only Day 6. We have reinforced our butter, sugar and flour supply. The chickens are laying plentiful eggs, and we are selecting recipes that don't need them. Go figure.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Day Five

And we have hit our stride. Yesterday's cookies were exceptional (and they were delicious this morning, along with the Cranberry-Walnut Biscotti), and today's cookies may just be a little bit of heaven: Molasses Cookies.

The cookie batter was a lovely shade of pumpkin pie; we didn't have any ground cinnamon for the batter, so we ground some sticks, first with a lemon zester (not very effective), and finally with a coffee grinder:

 We wish we could report in Smell-O-Vision today; we left the house and came back in several times to get the full effect. Totally worth it, except when the cat got out and we had to chase him across the pasture before continuing.

These little balls get a coating of sugar to finish them,

and then into the oven.

The first batch spread out; story of our baking life:

But the taste and texture was totally worth it; a crunchy first bite as your teeth break the surface of the cookie, and then a very satisfying chew at the end.

We modified the recipe very slightly, nearly doubling the spices and using only one teaspoon of baking soda, as per the overwhelming suggestions of the reviewers. This may very well be a year-round cookie; there are no complicated spices or ingredients, and they would go very well as the sandwich ends of a scoop of lemon frozen yogurt (or a raspberry-ginger frozen yogurt, or plain old vanilla). A sophisticated but humble little cookie that would also go well with the port wines the recipe suggests, if you feel like getting fancy.

Either way, we may end up freezing some of them for later. The tins in the back are cookies from day 2 and 3, and this recipe made four dozen cookies. We are being overrun.

Next Up: Russian teaballs, the patriarch's favorite, from a recipe we developed. Very simple, melt-in-your-mouth, buttery goodness. They will not last the evening.

We are also taking suggestions and requests. What cookie means "holiday" to you?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day Four

Day four of our 25 Days of Yum! Today we made Brownie Thins.  This cookie was a very funny cookie; the past cookies have been flat due to too much sugar or a wrong ingredient added into the mix, but today the cookies were supposed to be completely flat, and they were still a bit puffy. We discussed how funny it was that when we want something to be puffy, it is not, and when we want something to be flat it is puffy! Upon review, too much sugar and too much fat causes cookie spreading, and some cookie recipes use margarine instead of butter, as margarine will help a cookie keep its shape; however, we will not use margarine this month. Goes against our grain.

First we chopped chocolate, unsweetened. The reviews of the recipe said perhaps it might be too bitter, but we are purists and like to try it the original way first:

Then we put the chocolate in a pan over low heat with butter until mixed; this is the chef de cuisine mixing:

We mixed the rest of the ingredients, and this is what we got before the oven:

After the oven:

These cookies taste exactly like the crispy/chewy/crusty top of a brownie. The unsweetened chocolate makes it rich without being too sweet, and the two types of extracts deepen the flavor. We used walnuts instead of pistachios because it is what we had, and the brownies didn't suffer a bit. This is a definite keeper of a recipe. Only makes 24, though, so double the recipe for sharing.

The cat lovin' up the chef.  He had some appreciation to show:

Our extra today was butterscotch pots de creme (to use the extra two egg yolks from day 3):

At the end of the baking, we found a present under our Christmas tree:

Up Next: A Molasses Cookie. YUM!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Day Three

We have made it to Day 3, against all odds. The patriarch of the household gives us a mere 18 days until we give up, but we are pretty confident in our commitment.

Today's recipe is Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti, and it has been fairly metaphorical. First of all, have a sense of humor, as does our Reindog, Winston:

Secondly, surround yourself with loved ones; cookie baking draws a crowd in the kitchen, all desperately hoping for a little kindness. And maybe a nut or two to hit the floor:

Next, pay attention to the little things. This is a half cup measure, not a third cup, as called for in the recipe:

As in life, not paying attention to the little things can, at times, come back around to bite you in the...cookie. More on that later.

Remember to dive in to whatever you do, and don't be afraid to mix it up a little. We used walnuts instead of the raw pistachios we could not find, and lemon extract instead of zest (as previous lemon zest was used for Day 2):

In cookies, as in middle age, it is difficult to fight the spread when you have too much sugar:

But there is always a second chance:

In the end, these cookies were delicious - crispy, delicate flavor with a perfect level of sweetness. We will be dunking them in our coffee tomorrow morning. YUM

Next up: Brownie Thins.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Day Two

Today is the second day of our 25 Days of Christmas Cookies fun! Today we are doing Glittering Lemon Sandwiches.

Might I say before the photos begin and the mmmmmms can be heard around, there were some problems that occurred during our baking experience. First off, one of the bakers (who shall remain nameless, as this is a joint effort, and in the spirit of the season, there will be no throwing under the bus this month) put two tablespoons of corn syrup in the batter when it only calls for corn syrup in the frosting. That made our cookies spread in the oven (again!):

Also, we had no sanding sugar to make our cookies sparkly; if you have no sanding sugar either, you can use regular sugar. If you want to make it colorful, put 1-2 drops of food coloring in a bag with the sugar and shake until evenly coated. We just used plain sugar:

Our third and final problem was while we were zesting the lemon. Our zester was not providing a zest, so we did the best we could with the zester for the cookie batter (the recipe called for 2 tablespoons of zest, which is same as the zest of two lemons),  then when it called for the zest of a lemon in the frosting, we peeled the zest (not the pith though, the white part under the yellow of a lemon) and chopped it up:

And ended up with this:

These cookies took much time and effort but in the end the final product was stounding:

These cookies had the perfect amount of lemon in them, a faint whisper of citrus, while the frosting balanced it out with the blatant presence of lemon; they combined together to create an artistic production which we shall taste forever (obviously because they made about twenty and we make cookies every day!).

Unexpected delicious adult pairing: Yuengling beer, ice cold, or a lovely hefeweizen. YUM.

We have used almost a pound of butter, and it is only the second day. We will be providing daily updates on our use of butter, so prepare yourself!

Next up: Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day One

Today is our first day of  25 Days of Christmas Cookies! We (my mother and I, who is typing this as I speak) have decided to bake our way into the Christmas spirit.  Christmas has turned into a time when people frantically rush around, doing too much and stressing out about all of the things they can't get around to. 25 Days of Christmas Cookies is our way to slow down, relax and get into a more traditional holiday spirit, not the mad anxiety of the rush.

The bakers: Sicily, 11, and Suzannah, old. The idea has been unabashedly stolen from Epicurious; we are planning on adapting a few of the suggested recipes and adding a few of our own.

We are an odd household - part Christmas tree, part menorrah, and all Buddhist. Our main Christmas tradition consists of lounging around in jammies for the better part of the day, noshing on overnight French toast, bacon and fruit salad, playing with our toys until around three, when we all put on shoes and go to a movie, then out for Chinese food. We are secular in most ways, and but we keep a tradition that focuses on being with family.

Although our baker's hearts are willing, our stomachs may be weak. We are a mere three-person household, and some of these recipes bake 80 cookies. We may substitute some cookies for Suzannah's burgeoning candymaking, but our intention is to make something sweet for the next 25 days.

Our first cookie is Almond-Oat Lace Cookies, dipped in chocolate. These might sound fancy, but they are very simple to make and take no time at all.

Our ingredients:

Tasting the batter:

Please note, however, that the recipe calls for dropping 2 teaspoons per cookie onto a cookie sheet. THIS IS A BAD IDEA, unless you want your cookie to look like this:

We broke them into pieces and brushed them with chocolate.

This recipe is absolutely a keeper, but cookie size was problematic. We wouldn't even drop a full teaspoon, as they spread out completely. Half a teaspoon, max, and be generous with your spacing. Definitely use a light-colored pan, and parchment paper is, indeed, your very best friend.

Tomorrow's cookie: Glittering Lemon Sandwich Cookies.  YUM!