Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cookie Carnival: Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

(Yes, that picture does have a nuclear glow to it, lol.)

I'm so glad I joined Cookie Carnival. If I could only bake one type of baked good for the rest of my life, it would be cookies. I love making them, and eating them. The cool think about Cookie Carnival is that it forces me to reach outside of my comfort zone and try new things.

Like sandwich cookies. This is my second sandwich cookie (the first being the surprisingly scrumptious Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies). This time around it's chocolate cookies with pumpkin filling, also known as Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.

I was curious about the origin of Whoopie Pies. According to Wikipedia: "A whoopie pie, sometimes alternatively called a gob, black-and-white, or bob is a baked good traditional to the Pennsylvania Dutch culture as well as New England, made of two small, chocolate, disk-shaped cakes with a sweet, creamy frosting sandwiched between them."

Interesting, since I thought the cookies tasted exactly like Devil's Food cake. (Ha, can't fool a cookie expert, trying to disguise a little round cake as a cookie!) I wasn't too keen on the filling. My tastebuds didn't think it went very well with the chocolate cookie. I think I would have liked them better with a fluffy white filling, as with the original.

Quite a few other Cookie Carnival bakers said their filling was runny. Mine wasn't runny, just kind of slimy-ish. I whipped the heck out of it with my Kitchenaid mixer, so maybe that's why it stayed together.

I enjoyed making them though. They're super cute and make for a nice take-along for the holidays feeding frenzies. I might try them again with a different filling. The cake/cookie was lip-smacking good.

If you'd like to give them a try, you can find the recipe at Martha Stewart's site.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Pizza

This month's Daring Bakers recipe was Pizza & Toppings and we were to show proof that we tossed the dough in the air. Thanks so much to Rosa of "Rosa's Yum Yums" for hosting this month's challenge. She chose the Pizza Napoletana from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. (Please stop by Rosa's site if you'd like to peek at the recipe.)

I made the full dough recipe, split it into four pieces, and froze two of them for later use. My pizza flavors were Skyline Chili Pizza and Chocolate Strawberry Pizza.

I would have to say the results were... well, let's just say I tried. When I got done baking my first crust, my son said "Mom, that's not pizza, that's Texas". Bless his pointed little head.

Sadly, he was right. I present to you, Texas, in pizza crust form...

Before I get into the gory details, let me just explain Skyline Chili real quick.

OK, this "chili" is a Cincinnati thing. There are other Cincinnati Chili chains, but Skyline is my favorite. Honestly, it's really more of a spaghetti dish. The first time I tasted it I was like "What the...?" It's a plate of spaghetti, topped by a meat sauce, and the whole sha-bang is topped with a MOUNTAIN of finely shredded (neon orange) cheddar cheese. The meat sauce has a real distinct taste. (You can take a look-see on the Skyline website.) It's totally habit forming and now I crave it! I don't know what the H they put in the stuff, but I can't get enough.

Aaaaanyway, back to the pizza. I thought it would be a fun experiment to make pizza with Skyline chili and some of that eerily orange cheese.

The second pizza, LOL, was my Sandra Lee-inspired dessert pizza. In true "Semi-Homemade" fashion, I popped open the Snack Packs, sliced some strawberries, and drizzled on the caramel sauce straight from the jar. It was quite tasty and I'm guessing Sandra would have approved.

The verdict? Well, it might be best for everyone involved if I stick to baking sweets.

My dough wasn't right. When I went to pick it up after refrigerating and letting it sit out for 2 hours, it just fell out of my hands, like water overflowing the sink. There was no way I could toss it. I had to ball it up and knead it together a bit before I could toss it. The taste and texture was just OK. I'm guessing I flubbed up somewhere because mine wasn't as awesome as those I've seen posted by others. Also, the chili was probably too wet because my savory pizza crust was undercooked even after 8 minutes. Live and learn, right?

I was able to toss the dough somewhat and my second crust actually ended up round rather than geography inspired.

So, there you go! If you're still with me... thanks. Feel free to stop by the other Daring Baker's sites to see how they fared.

P.S. I'm shamelessly pimping my giveaway, which is two posts below this one. Even if you don't want the book, I'd love to hear about your grade school years. :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

After 23 weeks in a row of baking along with the Tuesday's With Dorie gang, I've decided to take a vacation this week. I'm going to skip this week's recipe, Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes.

I baked about a bajillion cupcakes back in my cake-decorating days, and I just can't get excited about them anymore. That, and I've been extra busy this week.

I apologize to this week's host, Clara from I Heart Food 4 Thought. Please don't hate me, Clara! I'm sure they were delicious.

Since I'm bagging, I thought I'd at least share my favorite chocolate cupcakes and the recipe I use. I love the pink icing with white nonpareils against the deep, dark chocolate. They would be my favorite even without the decorations.

I made them to go with this Luis Vuitton purse cake.

For the LV logos on the cake, I used "icing sheets", which are very thin sheets of dried icing mounted on a plastic backing. Typically they are used in making edible images. I drew the logos on the icing sheets with edible markers (which took for-EV-er) and then applied the sheets to the freshly iced cake. The purse finishing details are made from fondant and the makeup pieces are made from white chocolate.

(Before I forget, if you'd like a chance to win a free cookbook, you can check out the post below this one.)

The recipe I use is a doctored cake mix. It comes from Rebecca Sutterby, a fantastic cake decorator located in Kansas. You can check out her award-winning cakes at Sugar Creations.

I halve the recipe for a batch of cupcakes. This recipe is moist and flavorful. Back in my cake decorating days I got so many comments along the lines of "this is the best cake I've ever had!". See the chocolate variation below.

White Almond Sour Cream Cake
From Rebecca (KS)

2 boxes white cake mix (I prefer Betty Crocker)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp salt

2 2/3 cups water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp real vanilla
2 tsp almond extract
2 cups (16 oz) sour cream
8 large egg whites

Place all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together with a wire whisk. Add the remaining ingredients and beat on a low speed for 2 minutes. Bake at 325 degrees until cake tests done.

This recipe makes:
One 14” round and one 6” round or
One 16” round or
One 12” round and one 10” round or
One 12 X 18” sheet cake or
One 12” round and one 8” round and one 6” round
Two 9" squares

Half the recipe makes:
Two 8” rounds or
Two 6” rounds and 6 cupcakes

Double the recipe makes:
one 18" round + one 10" round
all 4 sizes in the Wilton petal pan set

One fourth the recipe makes:
two 5" rounds

For chocolate cake: use chocolate mixes, omit almond extract and substitute 6 whole eggs for the whites.

For liqueur flavors: substitute alcohol (such as champagne or Kahlua) for about 1 cup of the water in the recipe

For berry flavors: use frozen berries, thaw reserving the juice. Substitute the berry juice for part of the water in the recipe, and stir the berries in at the end.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm giving something away!

You know you have too many cookbooks when you order one you already have. Yup! I did just that last week.

I am the proud of owner of two copies of "The Sweet Melissa Baking Book", and I want to give one to a lucky baker out there. I've found so many generous and sharing bakers since starting this blog and I'd like to give back to the baking community.

It's got a lot of fantastic sounding recipes. I have yet to make one but I have one earmarked as my inspiration for next month's pie recipe.

Since I am so enjoying watching my kids and all of their whacky grade school antics, I thought it would be fun to hear some of y'alls stories from when you were kids. Leave a comment to this post, and tell me one story or memory or favorite teacher or run in with the principal or first boyfriend or whatever from when you were in elementary school.

I'll close the giveaway in two weeks, on November 6, at midnight. By then I'll have figured out one of those random generator thingies and I'll use it to find the lucky winner.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TWD: Pumpkin Muffins

One great thing about pumpkin desserts is the color. That burnt orange color... love it!

This week's Tuesday's with Dorie recipe was Pumpkin Muffins, and was chosen by Kelly of "Sounding My Barbaric Gulp". Thanks Kelly! These lovely muffins have gotten me in the fall baking spirit.

My 9 year old took this picture. Don't they look great against the just-turning fall leaves?

A lot of folks said they loved these muffins. I don't know if it's my imagination or not, but it seemed like a lot of the folks that loved them added chocolate chips. Is that true? Anyone?

Personally, I thought they were a little bland. I did enjoy the crunch of the sunflower seeds on top, though. It was an interesting and tasty addition. I decided to up the yummy-factor by adding a healthy dollop of cream cheese icing to the muffins. They pretty much rocked after that. (Although I think it's quite possible that a burlap bag would taste delish with a dollop of cream cheese icing on top.)

I ended up with 12 muffins plus enough batter for a 2-inch mini cake.

Next week, we'll break out the muffin pans again for "Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes". See you then!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cake Slice: (Not Quite) Cappuccino Chiffon Cake

This is the first entry for Cake Slice, a new baking blog dedicated to baking from one cookbook, once a month, for a year. The first cookbook we are baking from is "Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes" by Alisa Huntsman. This book has so many gorgeous cakes in it, please do yourself a favor and find a copy.

If this first cake is any indication, we are in for some mouth-watering eats over the next year.

The premier cake was Cappuccino Chiffon Cake, which consists of an espresso-laced vanilla cake, spritzed with espresso sugar syrup, enveloped in a cloud of sweetened whipped cream. Don't forget the sprinkling of cocoa on top.

Sounds delish. But sadly, I don't like coffee. At all.

The one and only cup of coffee I've had in my life was an act of desperation. After pulling an all-nighter in college, studying for a test on some stupid subject that didn't matter that I've subsequently completely erased from memory, I drank that foul liquid. I was obviously out of my mind, as studying all night will tend to make you. Why didn't I just have a Pepsi? I don't know. There is no obvious explanation. So, not only do I not like coffee, I have a bad experience associated with it.

(Wow, got off on a tangent there...)

And (also sadly), most of my family don't drink coffee, so I had no one to pawn this cake off on. So I did what any coffee-hater would do, I substituted Dr. Pepper. (My only other change was halving the recipe and using 6" pans.)

Interestingly, it tasted more of cinnamon and rum than anything else. And it was darned good! The chiffon texture was soft, the cake was moist, and the whipped cream? Pure heaven!

I used my food-only spray bottle to apply the Dr. Pepper/rum sugar syrup. I picked that trick up somewhere along the line and I'm so glad I did. It's so much easier than trying to brush syrup on with a pastry brush.

So there you go! Please stop by and visit the other Cake Slice bakers to see their cakes. Next month we will be baking Sweet Potato Cake with Chocolate Cream Frosting. How interesting does that sound?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Want My Mummy!

What's it gonna be? Tricks, or treats?

Well, treats, of course!!

Sugar cookies are on the menu this week, and they're all dressed up for Halloween.

These are super simple. You can use your regular sugar cookie recipe, or if you don't have one, you're welcome to borrow mine, below.

Mummy Sugar Cookies

This is my go-to sugar cookie recipe that I got from a friend and cookie-decorator extraordinaire. These cookies are soft and cakey with just a hint of salt. This recipe is perfect for cut-out cookies or as in this case, rolled into mummies and baked.

1 C. sugar
1 C. salted butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2-1/2 to 3 C self-rising flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add 2-1/2 C. flour. If dough is sticky to the touch keep adding flour until no longer sticky. I typically use about 2-3/4 cups flour.

Dough does not need to be chilled, but can be. If the kitchen is warm, I will chill my pan of cut out cookie shapes before baking to keep them from spreading in the oven.

(For cut out cookies, roll to desired thickness, cut shapes with cookie cutters and lay on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 6-9 minutes. I like them just set with no brown edges. Watch the tops while baking, when they longer have a sheen, they're done.)

For mummies, roll 1/4 of the dough at a time into logs slightly thicker than your thumb. Cut into approximately 4-inch long pieces. Cut a 1/2-inch slice from one end and, laying it down, smush it onto one end of the piece. Pinch and poke the rest of the piece so that it resembles a mummy.

Using two mini-chocolate chips, insert pointy end of chip into the "head" for eyes.

Bake about 6-8 minutes until set. Watch the tops for the sheen. When it's gone, they're done.

Any severed heads can be reattached with melted chocolate (or eaten, cannibal style, bwa ha, haaaaa).

Once the cookies are cool, lay them on wax paper with plenty of space between. Melt some white chocolate chips in a Ziploc bag, slightly opened. Melt for 30 seconds at at time but be careful, you don't want to overheat the white chocolate pieces. Mash the chocolate with your fingers between microwaving to mix the melted chocolate. Once it's melted, snip a small hole from one end and seal the bag. Pipe strips of white chocolate over cookies to resemble bandages. I piped the bandages on the bodies diagonally slanted one way first, moving up the cookie. Then, continuing around the head, and finally back down the body, piping across the first layer of "bandages" (slanted the other way). Note: they aren't "bandaged" on the back side, only the fronts.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TWD: Lenox Almond Biscotti

I’ve never quite figured out if my husband reads my blog or not. He probably doesn’t because it would only be another reminder of what a dork he married. No guy wants to admit he married a dork!

But I might find out this week since I'm going to talk about a guy I dated many moons ago, lol.

It was an odd situation with this guy, because I knew I was transferring jobs to another state before we went on our first date. We both knew it wasn’t going anywhere. It was one of those “lets hang out for a while before I leave and never see you again” kind of things.

He was the only guy I dated that I would call “fancy”. We actually dressed up to go out on dates! One time we went to Chez Panisse, the famous Berkeley restaurant, and then the old classic movie, “The Red Shoe”. It was fun, but it reminded me of those rare occasions when I was little and I got to play with my mom's makeup. It wasn't really me. It was a "painted on" version of me.

He drove an old Triumph convertible and (I’m getting to the biscotti part now) one time we took his car to an antique car gathering. You know… the kind where everybody parks their car and puts the hood up so you can walk around and admire the shiny, chrome-filled engines and custom upholstery, etc. etc.

He brought a picnic lunch along that had all manner of yummy salads and bread from a corner deli, and for dessert, biscotti. I’m not sure I had even heard of biscotti before.

I remember not being very fond of the biscotti, it was simply too hard and dry. It’s a shame really, because that first impression caused me to miss out on this wonderful Italian cookie all these years.

Homemade biscotti are heavenly. I’ve made two different recipes now and its been fantastic both times. Nothing like that store-bought imposter.

When I think of biscotti, I think of that lovely California summer day spent with someone I knew wasn't right for me. It also makes me thankful I found my football-loving, jeans and T-shirt wearing, not-fancy husband. We’re like two peas in a pod.

Thanks so much to Gretchen of Canela & Comino for choosing the Lenox Almond Biscotti for this week’s Tuesday’s with Dorie recipe. It was fantastic, I love, love, loved it.

Recipe notes: I baked half of the biscotti as directed. The other half, I only baked once (in my pictures, the biscotti on the left is twice-baked and that on the right is once-baked). I like the softer, once-baked biscotti just a tad more. Also, I used half slivered almonds and half whole almonds (half whole almonds? that sounds funny, LOL). I think I would go with all slivered almonds next time. This biscotti is tender and it wanted to crumble when I was cutting through the whole almonds.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lemon (-Lime) Meringue Tart 2

I can't believe I joined yet another baking group, but I did. It's called "You Want Pies with That?" and, surpise, surprise, the focus is on pies and tarts.

I couldn't help it!

I'd really love to master pies and tarts and figured this would be a good chance. Plus, come on... who doesn't love pie? Anyone? (crickets chirping)


This group has a neat twist... there's a monthly theme. The inaugural month's theme was "I Love that Movie", meaning our pies were to tie in with a movie. How fun is that?

My pie is based on a scene from the movie "The Breakup", starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, who also broke up in real life (bonus points!). Remember the scene? It's the one where Jennifer's character is starting to freak because Vince's character only picked up 3 lemons when she asked for 12, to make a 12 lemon centerpiece. It's another one of those classic "Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars" moments. She asked for 12 lemons, all he heard was "lemons".

I kind of cheated because I made this tart before. However, the first time around was scaled back to make two mini tarts and this time I wanted to test it out with a full sized tart. I had good success with the mini tarts, but was unsure how a larger version would fare.

But, shock of shocks, it turned out really nice. The filling was just set, and not runny. Almost like, if I'd have used any less cornstarch, it might have been runny. But I was happy with it. I don't like rubbery lemon filling. Or lemon-lime as in this case.

The second day, the meringue had started to bead a little. But it still tasted darned good.

Feel free to vary the relative amounts of lemon and lime juice. If you want more of a lemony flavor, then use more lemon. Likewise with the lime. If you try it, please let me know how it turned out. I'd love to hear.


8 egg yolks
1-1/3 C. sugar
8 tsp. cornstarch
1-1/3 C. water
1/2 C. fresh lemon juice
1/4 C. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. lemon/lime zest (to taste)
1-1/2 tbsp. butter

(from "the perfect recipe", by Pam Anderson)
4 large egg whites
½ C. sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/3 C. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Makes enough for one 10-inch tart plus two ramekins, or (probably) one 11-inch tart.

Tart Shell
I used Dorie Greenspan's "Sweet Tart Crust", which you can find by clicking the link which takes you to Dorie's post on the blog "Serious Eats. Make the crust as directed and prebake it. Let it cool to room temperature before filling.

Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Add egg yolks, then immediately but gradually whisk in water. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally at the beginning and then more frequently as mixture begins to thicken, 8-10 minutes. Whisk in zest, then lemon juice and finally butter. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat, placing plastic wrap directly on surface of filling.

Mix cornstarch and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix cream of tartar and sugar together. Beat egg whites with vanilla until frothy. Beat in sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time until sugar is incorporated and whites form soft peaks. Drop in warm cornstarch mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat meringue to stiff peaks.

Pour warm filling into tart shell, then top with meringue. Use the back of a spoon or your fingers to form decorative peaks, or pipe the meringue on using a piping bag and tip as I have. Place tart on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake until peaks are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Alternatively, place tart under broiler or use a hand held kitchen torch to brown the meringue.

Recipe notes: Filling seems quite runny when added to the tart shell while warm. You must let the tart sit for a number of hours until completely cooled to room temperature for filling to be set.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TWD: Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake, chosen by Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy.

For its big, complicated name, it really wasn't that difficult to make. Start with a brownie type cake baked in a spring form pan. Top with homemade caramel with salted peanuts mixed in and that's about it.

My experience was, well, let's just say there were some high points and some low points. I halved the recipe, but forgot to cut down the baking time, so my cake was over-baked. I bought what I thought were salted peanuts, but when I took them out of the bag I found they were "raw" peanuts. Blech! So then it was on to "Plan B" with the nuts.

I rummaged through the pantry and found some blanched, slivered almonds. Voila! Plan B! They didn't add a lot of taste, but I liked the crunch.

That leaves the caramel. This would be my third time making caramel. The first time, I burned it so badly that I ruined my pan (sniff). The second time, the pan survived without injury, but the caramel burned again and it tasted positively wretched. This time, lol, there I was, at the stove, testing my caramel color diligently with frequent drops of the dangerously hot liquid on a white plate. Then, as I was getting closer, closer, almost there, so close... wait for it... "ding, dong!" the door bell rings. *&^+**)&%#!! I RUN to the door, open it, RUN back, and in that time, there it is, that smell. That smelly smell. That burned smell.

Double *&^+**)&%#!!

I grab the pan and plunge the bottom of it in my dish water to stop the cooking. (I know, I know... it's an unsavory image, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances.) I take the pan out of the water and pour in the cream and butter, stir like a mad woman, and you know what? It wasn't bad. Just a whisper of a bitter taste, but I can live with that. I could actually eat it this time, so I'm calling it a success!

I think this cake would have tasted excellent if it had turned out as written in the book.

So there you go. I'm looking forward to next week's Lenox Almond Biscotti. See you then!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Operation Baking Gals: Round Three

Whew! I barely made the deadline to join bakers from around the country (maybe world) in thanking soldiers who are serving our country so selflessly and bravely. What better way to thank them than with a box plumb full of cookies!

Operation Baking Gals was started in July by Susan of She's Becoming DoughMESStic. It was a small group of bakers that first month, but the baking-gal ranks have grown to over 700 in three months! Holy Toledo, thatsalotta baked goods flying out of the US Postal Service's hands!

If you'd like to join up, head on over to Operation Baking Gals. Don't worry, it's easy. Susan has all of the important information regarding "what, where, when, and how" on the site.

I sent three types of cookies. Nothing fancy, but some old favorites.

There were chocolate chip cookies...


and sugar cookies, a bite-size version. (OK, this is how persnickety I am. I hated that they weren't color coordinated! What was I thinking, using Halloween sprinkles on one set and turquoise-y sanding sugar on another?!!? Well, the US militry can rest assured that there will be no color mixing snafu's the next time!)

May I say, to each and every soldier out there, and families of soldiers out there, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Words can't express my gratitude for what you do each and every day so that the rest of us can go on our merry way, worrying about unimportant things like what color of sprinkles to use on our cookies. As you eat cookies and baked goods from the Operation Baking Gals, know that they were made with thoughts and prayers for your safety and well-being.

one-pot chocolate chip cookies

I tried this recipe for the first time and it met all of my criteria for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. These cookies stay soft, don't flatten out in the oven, and they taste fantastic. As an added bonus, the recipe uses melted butter, so no waiting around for the butter to soften.

(Recipe reprinted with permission from The Weekend Baker (newly in paperback) by Abigail Johnson Dodge. Be sure to check out Abby's website!

8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 cup (113 grams) firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup (71 grams) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups (191 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt (I used 1/2 tsp.)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (170 grams) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (57 grams) coarsely chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans), optional

1. Position an oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners (I like Silpat).
2. Put the butter in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted. Slide the pan from the heat and add the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Whisk until no lumps remain. Set aside to let cool, about 5 minutes.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until well blended. Once the butter mixture has cooled, add the egg and vanilla and whisk until blended. Pour in the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and the nuts, if using.
4. Using a small ice-cream scoop (about 1 2/3 inches (4.25 cm) in diameter) or tablespoons, drop scant 2-tablespoon mounds of the dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, arranging them about 1 ½ inches (4 cm) apart. (At this point, the loaded cookie sheets can be slipped into the freezer until the cookies are frozen, about 1 hour. Then transfer the cookies to heavy-duty freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months. To bake, remove from the freezer, arrange on lined cookie sheets, and leave on the counter to thaw slightly while the oven heats.)
5. Bake 1 sheet at a time (make sure to use a cooled sheet for the second batch) until the cookies are light golden around the edges and puffed, about 12 minutes. If these cookies are over-baked, they won’t come out chewy. Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Using a spatula, lift the cookies from the sheet onto a rack and let cool completely.
Storage: Layer the baked and cooled cookies between parchment or waxed paper in an airtight container. They can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. You don’t even need to thaw them completely. They’re just as delicious cold.

Big Cookie Variation: Scoop up 1/4-cup portions of this cookie dough, arrange them about 3 inches (7.75 cm) apart on the prepared cookie sheets, and flatten the mounds slightly with lightly floured fingertips. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the cookies are light golden around the edges and puffed, about 13 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool as directed for the regular-sized cookies. Makes 10 cookies.


I got this recipe from the girlfriend of one of my classmates in college. This classmate and I were on a project team together and his girlfriend always sent the best cookies along with him to our project team get-togethers. Here's to college girlfriends everywhere!

3-3/4 C. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. butter, room temperature
2 C. sugar
2 eggs
1/4 C. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 T. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Either grease a cookie sheet, or line one with parchment paper.

Stir together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.

Beat the butter until creamy and smooth. Add 2 C. sugar and beat until fluffy and lightened in color. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla. Beat well.

Add dry ingredients and mix just until well combined. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon. Roll balls in sugar mixture. Place balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees. If you like them soft, take them out earlier... they go from soft to crunchy quickly.

Sugar Cookies

This is my go-to sugar cookie recipe that I got from a friend and cookie-decorator extraordinaire. These cookies are soft and cakey with just a hint of salt. This recipe is perfect for cut-out cookies and can also be used for candy cane cookies at Christmas (color half of the dough red, roll pieces into ropes, then twist and bake), or as in this case, rolled into scant 1-inch balls and baked.

1 C. sugar
1 C. salted butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2-1/2 to 3 C self-rising flour

Cream butter and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Add 2-1/2 C. flour. If dough is sticky to the touch keep adding flour until no longer sticky. I typically use about 2-3/4 cups flour.

Dough does not need to be chilled, but can be. If the kitchen is warm, I will chill my pan of cut out cookie shapes before baking to keep them from spreading in the oven.

For cut out cookies, roll to desired thickness, cut shapes with cookie cutters and lay on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 6-9 minutes. I like them just set with no brown edges. Watch the tops while baking, when they longer have a sheen, they're done. For balls, bake about 6-8 minutes... same thing, watch the tops for the sheen. When it's gone, they're done.