Category Archives: Cookie

Macarons

I felt challenged to make macarons for my friend. A lot of people call these macaroons, or French macaroons, but they are distinct and very different from the macaroon cookie. I tell people that they are a take-off of the Oreo cookie, but of course, they came first so maybe the take-off is in the other direction.

The recipe seems simple enough- only 4 ingredients in the basic recipe, and then you add food coloring and extract flavoring. The basic recipe is to make an meringue, and then fold it into a mix of almond flour and powdered sugar to create the dough. The dough is piped onto baking sheets, and cooked. These finished ‘cookies’ or shells are coupled together and filled- as I say, like Oreo cookies.

But, although the recipe is fairly straight forward, it has a lot of subjective decision points, and those make it difficult to learn. I made the recipe 5 times and threw it all in the trash before I got a handle on all the issues.

Macarons

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup almond flour

Directions

  1. Mix the almond flour and powdered sugar and sift them into a 2-quart bowl.
  2. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until they are starting to foam. Add the granulated sugar and continue to beat until there are stiff peaks.
  3. Fold the egg white meringue into the sifted flour/sugar mixture to create the dough. Continue to fold the dough until the dough is smooth enough to flow.
  4. Fill a piping bag with a ½ inch opening with the dough, and pipe the shells onto a lined cookie sheet. Let the piped shells stand at room temperature until a hard skin is formed on top; about 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  6. Bake the shells until they are set, but not browned- about 10 – 15 minutes.
  7. Let the shells cool completely with the baking sheets on the cooling rack before trying to remove them and filling them.

In the photo, the darker macarons were from the first batch that I felt was anywhere near a success. I got 6 shells from that batch which was only about a 20% yield. However, I then was able to correct the last couple parameters and start getting 90% yields from a recipe that made 40 shells. If you look closely at the photo, you will see a fringe-like layer at the bottom of the shell; this is know as feet. A proper shell has feet. These shells were filled with nutella, and you can see it showing with some of the macarons.

Starting at the first of the recipe, these are the issues I found, and the way I finally set the parameters.
1)Sifting the flour/sugar mixture can be difficult in high humid weather. As a starting point, I would suggest waiting for drier weather to learn how to make the shells.
2)I decided that the meringue was complete when the peaks made by lifting the whip stood straight up, and the tips of the peaks did not bend over. Don’t go much beyond this stage as it will dry the meringue and it will not incorporate with the flour/sugar mixture properly.
3)When the folding has gotten to the point that all of the flour/sugar mixture is wet, you can add flavoring and color to the shells. For color, use 2 – 3 drops of a gel food coloring, and for flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon of an extract. There seems to be some agreement on when the folding is complete: it is called the figure 8 test. The dough should be liquid enough to flow off the spatula as a continuous ribbon with which you can make a figure 8, but not so liquid as the start of the 8 disappears before the full figure is formed.
4)Most of us have 12 inch piping bags; these are a problem in that they do not hold all of the dough and so they need to be refilled. I finally went to the Decorette Shop and bought some 18 inch bags and so had much less fuss piping.
5)I did not use any special piping tips with the piping bag, but just cut the tip of the bag off. To get the 1/2 inch diameter opening, I measured up to the point where the distance between the two sides of the flattened bag was 1 inch and cut. If I remember my math, the 1 inch is half the circumference and the circumference is Pi * diameter meaning the diameter is 2 / pi, or about 2/3 inch- slightly larger than the 1/2 specified in the recipe, but it works.
6)In order to get constant size shells, you need a guide. I drew circles with a compass on a separate couple sheets of paper as that guide. Then I placed the guide under my silicon mats to do the piping, and pulled the guide papers out once I had the shells piped. My circles are 1.5 inches in diameter and placed so that their centers are 3 inches apart. Once they were drawn, I inked the circles and their centers with a black marker pen.
7)Another test that the dough is soft enough is that the nipple from piping disappears; the top of the shell should be smooth. I had a few nipples but most of the shells were smooth.
8)If you don’t wait long enough for the skin of the shell to form, the shell will not have feet. It is the rise of the dough in the oven locked in by the skin that causes the feet to form.
9)After having too many shells that were starting to brown, I decided to shield the baking sheet completely from the upper element of the oven. I put a piece of foil on a rack leaving only the side edges uncovered, weighted it down with an empty baking sheet, and put the rack on the position just above where the shells are cooking.
10)If the shells are not cooked long enough, or not completely cooled they will separate when they are removed from the silicon mat or parchment paper. The bottom of the shell will stick to the lining of the cookie sheet.

Now that you have the macaron shells, you can consider how to fill them to complete the cookies. I found that flavored ganaches seemed to work best. I also tried jams with cream cheese as a binder; I had a mess with that in that I used too much jam and it didn’t all harden. And as I show in the photo, you can use things like Nutella.

For cream cheese based fillings use 4 ounces of softened cream cheese with 3 Tablespoons of jam.

For ganache based fillings use 3 ounces of chocolate to 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream. Add 1/4 teaspoon of extract flavoring and 1 drop of gel food coloring if desired.

Macaroons

Recently, I was asked to make some macaroons; I think they really wanted me to make macarons, but I looked for a macaroon recipe and made these little cookies. They are really quite siimple. A couple years ago I made Coconut Macaroons and wrote an article then. That recipe used sweetened condensed milk as the binding agent, whereas this recipe uses meringue. Otherwise, the recipes are very similar

The recipe comes from Alton Brown and the Food Network.

Toasty Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients

  • one 14-ounce package sweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread the coconut out in a single layer on a half sheet pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until the coconut is golden. Set on a cooling rack to cool.
  3. Whip the egg whites and sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer on high for 8 to 10 minutes until stiff peaks form. Add the vanilla and salt. The egg whites and sugar can also be whipped in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the toasted coconut
  5. Drop by the tablespoon onto a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan, leaving 1 to 2 inches around each cookie. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown


That is the recipe, and now I need to explain how I actually made the cookies.

In my old oven, the coconut did not evenly cook, and so even with stirring, there were pieces that were much darker than others. I used my stand mixer to whip the egg white. I used my #60 scoop to measure and drop the cookies onto my cookie sheets covered with silicone pads.

I got 3 1/2 dozen cookies. I found the best cooking time was just over 15 minutes, but short of 17 minutes. The old oven is funny that it seems to cook a second pan faster than the first pan, so I have to generally reduce the time by about a minute after the first batch is cooked.

Valentine Day 2016

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At Christmas, I received cookies from several people, and was struck by the fact that other people make smaller cookies than I do. I mean the recipes call for ‘walnut-size’ or tablespoon size balls of dough, and that seems to define the cookie size. But, when I go to give cookies away, I can only get a few of that size cookie on a paper plate; other people seem to make smaller cookies and get more on a gift plate.

So I decided that for Valentine Day, I would make smaller cookies. My final plate of cookies that I gave away contained:
Ethel’s Sugar Cookies cutout as hearts and decorated with Royal Icing,
Russian Tea Cakes,
Rocky Road Cookies,
Chocolate filled Bon Bon Cookies,
Snickerdoodles,
Two-tone Brownies,
Magic Cookies,
Lemon Squares, and
Fudge.

If you are interested in the recipes for the various cookies, just click and the recipe should come up in a separate tab for review. Below is a photo of how I decorated the cutout cookies.

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The list of cookies (and candy) can be broken into three parts when it comes to making smaller items; the cutout cookies, the drop and molded cookies, and the pan baked cookies (and candy). Each category is a different problem.

For cutout cookies, you are at the mercy of the cookie cutter. Mine was slightly larger than I would have liked. I have some smaller cutters, but I wanted the heart shape and was too impatient to go looking in stores for a smaller one.

For the pan baked cookies, making the smaller size is only a matter of cutting the cookies smaller. I made cuts between 3/4 inches and 1.5 inches, but think probably 1 inch square is the best goal. I do have some thoughts about pan bake cookies; most important is to NOT cut them in the baking pan. That damages the knife blade- dulls it- and scratches the baking pan! I do all my pan baked goods in pans that I have lined with foil with overhang; when they are done cooking and cooled, the foil lifts out easily and you can work on a proper cutting board.

However, where the foil is fitted into the corners of the baking pan, it gets wrinkled, and many times the raw cookie batter will seep into the corner folds and make it very difficult to peel the foil from the cookies. This is especially true with the Magic Cookies; in the future, I would spray the foil to ensure it comes off the cookies easier.

Finally, there are the drop and molded cookies. These are where the work is. I started with the concept that the ‘walnut-size’ or Tablespoon size cookie was the amount of dough I scooped with my #60 scoop- it actually should be a #64, but that is a very small difference. I have a smaller, unmarked scoop, which I have calculated to be about a #120 to #128; that should be 1/2 Tablespoon. I tried using that as a starting point, but felt it was still too big. So I formed into balls the cookie dough using the smaller scoop, and then cut the balls in half. This gave me the size I wanted. That would be about 1.5 teaspoons.

Now I had to do some things to make the cookies right. First, the Bon Bon cookies are normally formed around a chocolate Kiss. I weighed a Kiss, and then chocolate chips and discovered that a Kiss was about equivalent to 11 chips. Since the dough was now about 1/4th of the normal amount of dough, I chose to wrap the Bon Bon around 2 chocolate chips-(maybe I should have used 3). And cooking time with experimentation and errors turns out to be about 2/3 the suggested time for the normal cookie.

For the Rocky Road cookies, I ended up cutting the mini marshmallows in half. All the other drop cookies just needed an adjustment in the cooking time, and all were good using 1/2 the dough from the small scoop.

Now, if you are making smaller cookies, you soon learn that the normal recipe which makes 3 – 4 dozen cookies will make 6 to 8 dozen small cookies. So the second area in which you want to do some changes is probably with the ingredient list of the recipe. In most cases, you will want to cut the amounts in half. If the recipe calls for a single egg, then the trick is to break the egg into a separate bowl and whip it to a scramble, then measure out 2 Tablespoons of the scrambled egg as equivalent to 1/2 an egg.

Holiday Sweets

snickerdoodle 001Snickerdoodles

No matter which holiday you celebrate in December, I am certain there is a place for sweet food. This year, I am making some of my favorites again, and the recipes are already on this blog. I am going to call your attention to some of the many sweet eats that we have already.

Sweet eats come in many forms, although I suspect that many of us think first of cookies and candy. But, there are also dessert breads. And if you are having a party, perhaps a pie or cake will show at your table. If I don’t suggest enough ideas, then I would invite you to click on the “Index of Articles” at the top of the page and see if you can find something that will fill the bill.

Morning BunsMorning Buns

Before I get to the candy and cookies, let me call your attention to a couple bread items. Of course, in the breads there are the standard breakfast fair like Cinnamon Rolls (I actually have two recipes for these) or Cinnamon Bread. I will be making Morning Buns, myself. And then there are dessert breads such as Banana Tea Bread and my favorite- Steamed Bread Pudding!

If you are looking for something real different as a dessert, look at the Paska recipe. It is a winter treat, with candied fruit and all, but not a dense fruit cake.

Chocolate Bark with PeanutsChocolate Bark with Peanuts

In the area of candy, Fudge is always good start. If you want something very simple, I would suggest making a Chocolate Bark with nuts. I will be making Rum Balls because son-in-law James is looking forward to them. To fill out the candy possibilities, there is English Toffee, and Truffles; they both go over very well and make good gifts if you need to take one to someone that is hosting a party.

Cookies are another area where you can go simple, or do something special. Perhaps the easiest cookie I make is the Snickerdoodle; it is the first baking I ever did, and it is still one of my favorite cookies. Daughter Jenn has asked for Karo Lace cookies, and I will make those for her. I will also make a batch of Bon Bon cookies to test making them with almond flour instead of chopping the almonds.

kookie brittleKookie Brittle

Daughter Mindy likes to do her own baking, and she specializes in pan cookies. I will be visiting her and she has promised to make Lemon Squares and Kookie Brittle. Last year, I got the recipe for Slutty Brownies from her when I visited. She also mentioned Magic Cookies, she remembers those as the second kind that Marlys and the girls made each year, because the girls could do most of the work and participate in the cookie making.

Pub CookieGelato di Superior Pub Cookie

You will notice I haven’t mentioned the old standby of chocolate chip cookies. There are many recipes for those, although I only go with the Original Toll House cookie. However, if you would really like to blow someone’ mind with a giant cookie, there are a couple I can suggest. One is the Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie, and the other is the original recipe for the Gelato di Superior Pub Cookie; your recipient will be chewing on one of those cookies for some time!

cutoutsCutout Cookies

And I nearly forgot the cutout cookies; again, these are something you can make with the kids letting them decorate the cookies after they have cooled. I have found the best recipe for making the cutout cookies is Ethel’s Sugar Cookies although the Kammerjunkere cookies also make good cutouts. For the decorating where you want icing, I would go with Royal Icing as it hardens nicely. If you are new to using Icing to decorate your cutout cookies, look at the article I wrote after taking the Cookie Decorating Class. About half way down the article you will find me talking about piping dams with the Royal Icing, and then flooding the area with thinned Royal Icing. I also talk about adding texture using sugars and candy pieces. I think if you make the Royal Icing, your young adult can learn to use it to decorate the cookies.

So, Have a sweet holiday, and we will find something new next year.

Errol

Halloween Cookies and Cupcakes

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This Halloween, beside the cake pops that I made, I also made the witch cupcakes again, and spider cookies. The cupcakes were to test if I had learned anything from last year; I think I did. The cookies are because both daughters sent me pointers to them, so I felt I should try them. Interesting enough, the article does not specify a cookie, but only the decorations- use any cookie.

witch 001

The biggest problem I seemed to have last year with the witch cupcakes was I thought the buttercream frosting sagged, and the witch face went into the cupcake. So I took an idea from the Christmas Tree cupcakes, and made the buttercream frosting much thicker so that it wouldn’t sag. I added 3/4 cup extra powdered sugar for 1 pound of powdered sugar in the recipe for The Decorette Shop’s Butter Cream Frosting. I think that did the trick. In fact, the frosting was thick enough that I was able to make long noses on the witches.

And of course, now that I know where to buy eyes (The Decorette Shop), I gave my witches buggy eyes. The eyes have imperfections where the pupils are not always centered; this gives the witches a wandering eye look where sometimes the eyes don’t look in the same direction.

For a cupcake, I chose to use the Black and White Irish Cream Cupcake recipe but to make it all chocolate. The only difference was that I added 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate to the entire batter rather than dividing the batter in half and only adding 3 ounces to one half of the batter. And I didn’t have the problem of filling the cupcake papers since I wasn’t trying to keep the black and white theme.

I had leftover ganache from when I had made the original cupcakes, and so after cutting the cone out of the cupcake for the hat, I frosted the cupcakes with the ganache to minimize their drying out. Then I piped the extra stiff green Butter Cream Frosting into the hollow and let it build up to create the head. I gave the buttercream a 24 hour wait to allow it to dry and crust before I tried decorating it. Meanwhile, I made the witches’ hats, including piping the orange band to fill in around the edge of the cone. Both the orange band and the black mouth are colored Royal Icing made from the Decorette Shop recipe; I like working with the Royal Icing for decorations as it drys quickly and hard. I also used it as the glue for fastening the cone to the chocolate wafer, and later for fastening the hat to the head.

When I attached the hats to the heads, I needed to flatten a spot on top of the head so the hat had an area of contact. After piping the heads, the top was left most often as a point. It turned out easy to cut off a small amount of the green buttercream to make the flat spot.

spider 003

For the spider cookies, I started by making a batch of Ethel’s Sugar Cookies as cutout cookies, rolling the dough out and cutting it with a 2 3/4 inch biscuit cutter. I like the results of that recipe for keeping its shape with little spread. Then I used brown Royal Icing to pipe the spider’s legs.

While I was making certain the legs were drying, I unwrapped my Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and used the brown Royal Icing to attach the eyes. Then a little Royal Icing on the top of the peanut butter cup and invert it onto the center of the legs for the spider.

Here is The Decorette Shop’s Butter Cream Frosting recipe:

BUTTERCREAM

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Hi-Ration Shortening (a Decorette Shop product)
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 to 3 drops Butter FLavor (also available at the Decorette Shop)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. vanila
  • 1/4 tsp. Almond Flavor
  • 1 Tbsp. meringue powder (also available at the Decorette Shop)
  • 1 lb. powder sugar

Directions

Put all ingredients in bowl and beat at medium speed for 10 minutes.

Pub Cookies

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My sister Ann sent me this recipe, and after a quick glance, I put it aside. It called for pretzels and I would have to put those on a shopping list and get them someday in the future. But a couple other things also caught my eye. 1) The full name of the cookies is Gelato di Superior Pub Cookies. 2) There are a lot of ingredients in the cookies. 3) The recipe calls for a ½ cup scoop size.

I made the cookies according to the recipe and you can see the enormous size of each. That plate is 7 ½ inches in diameter! I only got 4 cookies on my cookie sheet at a time, and this created a problem since the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes; I had to use several of my other pans to be able to continue to process the cookie dough. So one thing I wanted to do is to reduce the scoop size; I found eating one cookie more than I liked and immediately cut all the rest of the finished cookies in half. So a scoop size of ¼ cup is probably adequate – that would be a #16. I have a #20 that I will use next time.

But let me go back to the name of the cookie, and its origin –Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. There is a historical area of the park that includes a row of bathhouses from back in the 1800s. One of those bathhouses –the northern most- is the Superior. It currently serves as a brewery and restaurant. The web site gives the cookie the identification of Superior Bathhouse Brewery & Distillery’s Gelato di Superior Pub Cookie. So you can see why the enormous cookie size; people probably stop in and buy a cookie to munch on as they do the tourist bit up and down Bathhouse Row road.

After I made my Halloween Cake Pops, I did have some left over pretzels, and so I made the cookies. When the recipe says to put the uncooked regular oats and next four ingredients in a large bowl, it really means a large bowl. I used a 4 quart bowl and almost couldn’t get everything combined. However, there may be an easier solution; almost everything in the recipe is either 1 cup, or 1 teaspoon, so I think the recipe could easily be divided in half making the 4 quart mixing bowl adequate.

My final suggestion is with regard to the crushed pretzels; I did not crush them greatly, and they ended up sticking out in several places. As always, I think it might be well to run a knife through them to make them about the size of the chocolate morsels and chopped sandwich cookies.

Below, there are two versions of the recipe – the original, and Errol’s half size version. Other than the amount of ingredients, and the scoop size, both recipes are the same and give a similar number of cookies – about 15.

Original Gelato di Superior Pub Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups uncooked regular oats
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 cup crushed pretzel sticks
  • 12 chocolate sandwich cookies, chopped
  • Parchment paper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Beat first 3 ingredients ar medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating just until blended.
  2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a bowl, gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Combine oats and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add cookie dough to oat mixture and blend using your hands.
  3. Roll about 1/2 cup dough into a ball. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Flatten ball to 1/2 inch thickness with the palm of your hand. Repeat procedure with remaining dough.
  4. Bake at 350 for 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on pan on a wire rack (about 30 minutes). MAKES 15 SERVINGS.


After the first batch, I found that 18 minutes made the cookies more crisp than I like, and I cut the cooking time down to 16 minutes. Also, if you have two pans in the oven on the middle and lower shelf, you need to rotate the pans about half way through; the lower pan is shielded from the upper heating element, and will not be as cooked as the middle pan.

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Errol’s Version of Gelato di Superior Pub Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cups uncooked regular oats
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 1/2 cup crushed pretzel sticks
  • 6 chocolate sandwich cookies, chopped
  • Parchment paper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Beat first 3 ingredients ar medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add egg and vanilla, beating just until blended.
  2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a bowl, gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Combine oats and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add cookie dough to oat mixture and blend using your hands.
  3. Roll about 1/4 cup (#16 scoop- I used my #20) dough into a ball. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Flatten ball to 1/2 inch thickness with the palm of your hand. Repeat procedure with remaining dough.
  4. Bake at 350 for 16 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on pan on a wire rack (about 30 minutes). MAKES 15 SERVINGS.


The #20 scoop is slightly smaller than the 1/4 cup #16 scoop, but I don’t think it is enough to make any real difference. I got 8 cookies on my cookie sheet of this size, and they expand to about 4 inches in diameter. So you probably need to consider 5 inches placement center to center.

Coconut Macaroons

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This recipe has so few ingredients, and seems so simple I had to try it. I discovered that the hard parts are getting the ingredients well mixed, and then finding the right baking time.

Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients

  • * Butter for cookie sheets
  • 1 bag (14 oz.) shredded coconut
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Liberally butter two cookie sheets and set aside
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut, milk, vanilla and salt. Mix well.
  • using a tablespoon size scoop (#64) tightly scoop the batter into half-balls and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown and tops have a tinge.
  • Cool on the pan for 5 minutes
  • Using a sharp-edged spatula or turner, remove the macaroons to cookie racks to finish cooling completely


Because the cooking is to brown the bottoms of the cookies, I used my cookie pans rather than the cookie sheets which have a layer of air between the heat and the cookies. I also used the butter to grease the pans rather than the silicon mats; I wanted to make certain that the bottoms of the cookies felt the heat.

I started trying to mix the ingredients in too small of a bowl; I had to transfer everything to a larger bowl. In fact, I would recommend mixing the ingredients in the stand mixer; I had difficulty getting all of the coconut moistened with the milk and vanilla doing the mixing by hand.

I don’t have a #64 scoop, so I used my #60. That should be slightly larger than a tablespoon. Even so, I was able to get 36 cookies out of the batter.

Baking the cookies was tricky; the first batch was not cooked long enough, and was slightly sticky until they dried completely. The second batch I increased the time by 2 minutes, and the bottoms were darker than “golden brown”. The third dozen I had to quickly prepare a new pan, and it was a dark pan; that group came out very dark. I would suggest making time adjustments in only 1 minute amounts at a time.

Even though the pans are well buttered, the cookies really stick to the pans. The wording about using a “sharp-edged spatula or turner” is correct. Even then, be careful to not squash the cookies. I found that when I used the metal turner upside down to press under the cookies I got the best result. And I didn’t try to go all the way under the cookie from one side, but worked my way around the cookie.

Peppermint Pattie filled Bon Bons

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The other day I saw the York Peppermint Patties now came in the mini size, and knowing that one of my friends is very taken with the York Peppermint Patties, I decided I had to try using them as a filling for the Bon Bon cookies. As you might be aware, I like the Bon Bon dough, and like trying to fill it with different flavors. Of course, there are all the different Hershey Kisses anymore, and not just the milk chocolate that the original Bon Bon recipe used. And I have also used the mini Rolos to make a salted caramel filled Bon Bon. What I learned from that experiment was that filled chocolates tend to be harder to use than the Kisses. More about that in a minute.

I used the regular recipe for the dough of the Bon Bon, using almond flour for the nut flour. The tricks with the filled chocolate center are to use plenty of dough in the cookie, to cook it a little under in time, and to cool it longer on a flat surface before moving it to a rack. Let me explain.

Normally, when I make Kiss filled Bon Bons, I use my 1/2 tablespoon scoop to get the dough. When I do the salted caramel (SC) or the peppermint pattie (PP) filled Bon Bon, I need to make certain I have a full Tablespoon of dough to mold around the filling. I use my #60 scoop to collect the dough.

The recipe for the Kiss filled Bon Bons calls for a 12 minute cooking time; I shortened that to 10 minutes for the SC and PP filled Bon Bons. The cookie isn’t quite as brown as with a 12 minute cooking time, but the center hasn’t broken through the dough as often either.

As I learned with the SC filled Bon Bons, the center that liquifies melts the dough on the bottom of the cookie and leaks out. If you move the cookie before that liquid solidifies, it will drip through the cooling rack giving you horns on the bottom of the cookie. So for these versions of the cookie, I let them cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before moving them to the cooling racks.

This is a repeat of the recipe for the chocolate filled Bon Bons:

Peppermint Pattie Filled Bon Bons

  • 3/4 cup Crisco
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup very finely ground nuts (pecans or almonds)
  • 1 bag York mini peppermint patties

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together Crisco and both sugars. Add egg, vanilla and extract. Beat well. Add flour, baking powder, salt and nuts.

Form dough into 1″ balls (1 full Tablespoon of dough). Press each ball around a mini pattie so that the patties is completely enclosed. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes—do not overbake. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving to the cooling rack.

You may decorate the tops of cooled cookies with frosting and sprinkles. Or, sprinkle tops of uncooked cookies with chocolate shot.

In the photo you will see that the tops of these cookies have some green sprinkles on them. I wanted to identify the “mint” cookies from the chocolate or salted caramel cookies, and using colored disco powder is an easy way to do that without adding texture or taste.

Original Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everybody tries to improve on the Toll House cookie by making it bigger or adding to the flavor. But for me, the Original is still the best. There are enough parameters that you can manipulate to make the cookie just as you like it. By that, I mean it can be either a soft, chewy cookie, or a crisp, crunchy cookie. It all depends on what you want to do about cookie spread.

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Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12 oz.) Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

*If omitting nuts, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.

Now we need to know how to control cookie spread in order to change the characteristic of the cookie from crisp, to chewy. When the cookie is cooking and spreads, it drys out and becomes crisp. To make a chewy cookie we want to delay the spread. The easiest way to do this is to allow the cookie to be less cooked. This can be done in a several ways- reducing the heat of the oven, reducing the time the cookie is in the heat, and finally, making the cookie colder before it goes into the oven. Also, be careful that you are not dropping the next pan of cookies onto warm cookie sheets; this starts the cooking process before the pans goes into the oven.

As the recipe is now, I get a medium crisp cookie. I have gotten more moist, chewier cookies in using all the different suggestions. I have reduced my cooking temperature by 25 degrees; at other times I have reduced the cooking time by 5 minutes. And I have placed the pan of cookies in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to cool them.

I think all the additions and variations on the chocolate chip cookie recipe have failed to make it any better. This original recipe still has a lot going for it.

S’more Bites

I have a couple problems with the S’mores Bars Recipe, and so I have been working on a slightly different version. I do not like to work with marshmallow creme, and decided I needed a version of the recipe that uses plain old marshmallows instead of the creme. I also don’t like pan cookies, and these seemed to be bad because even as they were cut into bars, with the many layers showing, they were messy to eat. I wanted to encapsulate the chocolate and marshmallow in a crust. I also like small, 1 or 2 bite cookies that even a child can enjoy; nothing so large that it is going to break and get all over the floor.

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My first attempt at the getting rid of the marshmallow creme was to just use marshmallows in the pan cookie bars. That failed in that the marshmallows are protected from the heat by the top crust, and they never melted. But that also didn’t answer my desire for a more encapsulated cookie.

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My next attempt was to use the basic recipe, but then to form the cookies in my miniature muffin tins. The first trial I used melted chocolate and mini marshmallows. as filling for a crust cup I formed in the muffin tin cups. In that trial, I also put a top crust on the cookies. I didn’t like the total encapsulation of the cookie in that it no longer showed that it was S’more based. That trial and results are shown in the S’mores Bars recipe as Update 1. Since the basics of the S’mores Bites is different from the bar cookies, I decided to continue my exploration here as a separate article.

Daughter Mindy also pointed out that she likes to see a slightly cooked- brown on the marshmallows, and totally encased, that was missing. She also suggested that I look at using the chocolate spread that is now available rather than melting the chocolate.

Now, I have made those adjustments, and I feel that both taste-wise and looks, we have a fairly nice cookie- the S’more Bite.

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S’more Bites Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jar of chocolate spread
  • 1 bag miniature marshmallows
  • Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 36 miniature muffin tins.

    In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.

    Scoop 1 Tablespoon of the dough into each muffin tin. With fingers, push and pat the dough into the shape of the muffin tin cup. Place some chocolate spread in each cup- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon. Place mini marshmallows (3-4) on top of the chocolate.

    Bake for 12 minutes. Cool in the pans on racks. Remove from the muffin tins; before trying to lift the cookie out of the tin, chip any overflow of marshmallow away. I had to get my finger nails down the side of the cookie to pull it out.

    In this picture, the step-by-step process of preparing the S’more bites for cooking can be seen.

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    I also discovered that you can use cupcake papers in the muffin tins and do away with the greasing of the tins; the result are papered S’more Bites which are less greasy to handle and easier to extract from the muffin tins.