Jumbo Sugar Cookie

As much as I love baking, sometimes I’m not in the mood to go through all the setting up and cleaning up involved. That’s why this recipe, courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction, caught my eye– it just makes one huge sugar cookie. Meaning, it’s a much smaller project than making a full batch. It requires lower ingredient measures and therefore, smaller baking tools can be used.  I LOVE when a recipe only needs 1 or 2 small mixing bowls and teaspoon/tablespoon measures. Small bowls can be popped in the dishwasher and more of them can simultaneously fit on drying mats. Aka, quicker and easier cleanup. Oh, and did I mention the best part? If you only make one giant cookie you don’t have to worry about cookie vultures*; if there’s only one cookie, they know who it’s for.

*A cookie vulture is a person or animal that circles the kitchen while you’re baking and snags a cookie before it’s even hit the cooling rack. When I’m not the one baking, I am one hundred percent a cookie vulture.

This is the first time I’ve made a small batch version of a classic, and part of the reason I chose this recipe to be my first is that it still calls for an oven. I keep seeing recipes for single serving microwave brownies and microwave cakes, but there’s something about *baking* by *microwave* that feels wrong to me. Would it taste the same? Maybe. Would I think it tasted the same? Most likely not.

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INGREDIENTS:

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

3 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons beaten egg (crack the egg, beat it, and use 2 tbsp)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 Tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 Tablespoons sprinkles — the more colorful, the better!

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray or cover it with a piece of parchment paper.

In a small bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Stir in the 2 Tbsp of egg and the vanilla extract.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. Be careful not to overdo it!

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Flip the cookie dough out of the bowl and onto the baking sheet so that it looks like a tall ball (if it’s too flat it will be way too thin!). Bake for approximately 15 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. I took mine out at 13 minutes because I wanted an ooey gooey center, but that’s your call! Just remember that it will continue baking for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven, so don’t overcook it.

Allow the cookie to cool completely on the cookie sheet– no cooling rack needed here.

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Joy the Baker’s Confetti Cookies

Every once in a while, I stop by Joy the Baker’s site to see what she’s been up to. And by “once in a while”, I mean at least once a week. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Joy, she is the epitome of what it means to be an enjoyable food blogger: witty, knowledgeable, and direct. When I found myself on her site this week, two recipes gave me pause. Strawberry rhubarb pie, and these vanilla bean confetti cookies. I’ve ogled both before but had yet to make either.

Initially I chose to make the strawberry rhubarb pie, but it’s still so cold outside that I wasn’t sure that my Fairway would have rhubarb yet. It’s also so cold outside that I did not, in fact, want to go outside. I had all the ingredients for the confetti cookies, so confetti cookies it was. And I am VERY content with my choice. They’re playfully colorful and so soft that eating them is probably the closest one could come to safely consuming a tube of raw cookie dough. I said safely. They also have a depth of flavor that other sugar/butter cookies don’t have, due to the vanilla bean and their chilling time.

The one warning I must give before you embark on your confetti cookie journey is that the dough needs to be refrigerated prior to baking. SO. If there isn’t a lot of time before you want these cookies to meet your face, I would pick a different recipe. Or at the very least find something to distract yourself for two hours while they chill.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cream of tartar.. all of mine is from the 80’s and has expired.. shh.. don’t tell

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Seeds from 1 vanilla bean

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sprinkles, more if you want to throw them in the air joyfully while you bake

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DIRECTIONS:

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vanilla bean seeds, then the egg and vanilla extract, and beat until thoroughly combined.

With the mixer on low add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in a few doses. The dough will become quite thick– don’t worry, this is correct. Fold in 1/4 cup of the sprinkles.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup sprinkles in a bowl. Scoop up 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball– I was using about 1/4 of dough at first, so I quickly ran out of dough. Gently roll the ball in the bowl of sprinkles to cover lightly. Put the balls on a plate. Repeat with the remaining sprinkles and dough. Chill the soon-to-be cookies for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

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Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Transfer the chilled dough balls to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space in between each ball.

Bake until the cookies have spread very slightly and are just beginning to brown around the edges, but are mostly pale and pillowy, 8 to 10 minutes.* Let cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely, then transfer to your  mouth ASAP.

*I took mine out a bit before they browned on the edges, since I like my cookies to be very soft and chewy. If you want more of a crisp exterior and a soft interior, stick with Joy’s directives.

 

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Et voila!

Dino Oreo Truffles

To most people, this past Saturday was the Fourth of July. But to me, it was my nephew’s third birthday party. (And also the Fourth of July; it’s one of my favorite holidays). Last year his birthday was Sesame Street themed, so I made sugar cookies with Cookie Monster and Big Bird faces on them. This time around it was dino themed, and I initially had no idea what to make. I perused Pinterest for recipes, but mostly found complicated fondant* cakes and cake pops, which I wasn’t in the mood to experiment with. Also, it seems there’s a divide in dino party concepts: some are scarier and more Jurassic Park-like, while others are more cartoonish and friendly.

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^Cookie Monster cookies from last year^

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^Big Bird cookies… a little sadder looking than their Cookie Monster counterparts^

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Finally, I came across a picture of some dino cake pops that I realized I could make using an Oreo truffle recipe that I use every Christmas. As with most Pinterest recipes, mine didn’t come out exactly how the originals looked, but they’re still very cute, if I do say so myself. Over time it’s occurred to me that unless your family is brimming with Martha Stewarts and Julia Childs, whatever you make will probably be impressive to everyone, even if it’s not one hundred percent perfect. So, relax. Make what you want to make. Try something that’s a little out of your comfort zone; make the dino truffles. And if they come out poorly, eat the evidence.

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I think this recipe, if we can even call it that since it’s really a rough outline of what I did and in what order, makes about 14-16 dinos. Mine were on the large side, so if you want to make more with the same amount of ingredients, just form the heads to be a little bit smaller.

*Fondant is basically equivalent to the f word in my family. Every time we watch “Cake Boss” and Buddy uses fondant (which he always does) my family screams, “ew! Not the fondant, it’s so dry!”

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INGREDIENTS:

1 package Oreos (I used regular Oreos since I needed to use white chocolate, but if you’re using milk or bittersweet chocolate I recommend trying mint oreos)

1, 8 oz. bar cream cheese, room temp.

1/2 regular sized bag of M&M’s

1, 12 oz. bag of white chocolate chips

1 tbsp. black frosting

Blue food dye

Brown sprinkles

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DIRECTIONS:

Put the oreos into a Ziploc bag and seal tightly. Put on a cutting board, and whack with a meat pounder until crushed into small bits. I used a hammer since I just moved into a new apartment and was not successful in stealing my mother’s meat pounder while packing. Once the Oreos are adequately crushed, carefully pour them into a medium-large mixing bowl. Add the cream cheese and mix with a spoon or your hands until combined.

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Cover a baking sheet with wax paper. Roll the Oreo mixture into balls a little bit smaller than ping pong balls. Use your best judgment. Then, roll a much smaller ball for each large one, and stick the smaller ball into the side of the larger one. This will be the dino’s nose, so make sure it’s firmly packed onto the head, or it will come off when you’re coating them in chocolate. Also, try to flatten the smaller ball a bit so that it looks more like a nose. Put each complete head on the wax paper tray.

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Once you have as many complete heads as you’d like, place the baking sheet into the freezer for at least an hour, or overnight.

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Using a toothpick, dot the flat side of 36-40 white chocolate chips with black frosting– these are the eyes. I made a few extra since I knew a couple would probably come out wonky. When my roommate saw the eyeballs on the dinosaurs she said, “some of these are gonna go extinct sooner than others”. Case and point.

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Melt about half of the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, 30 seconds at a time on high, stirring in between. White chocolate takes a little bit longer to melt than milk, and also hardens more quickly. As soon as it’s adequately melted, add the blue food dye. You can add as little or as much as you’d like; mine was sort of baby blue, but I think a darker, more neon blue would have looked even better.

Once your chocolate is blue, pick up an Oreo head and gently paint it with the chocolate using the backside of a metal teaspoon. Don’t worry about getting the bottom, or making the chocolate perfectly smooth. Once it’s sufficiently coated, put the dino back on the tray, and stick on a row of M&M’s (these are the spikes of the dinosaur) from the top of the head to the base of the neck. Add the white chocolate chip eyes just above the nose, then add two brown sprinkles to the flat protruding part of the nose, giving the dinosaur nostrils. Repeat with remaining dino heads.

You can put each dino in a cupcake liner for an easy cleanup, or put them directly on a serving tray. I cut up some green peeps in an attempt to make grass, but it wound up looking more like tentacles, according to my friend Emily who came over to help.

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^Emily helping/dancing/hair whipping.^

The white chocolate will harden on its own, so no need to freeze the dinos again. But, remember to refrigerate them if you’re not serving them immediately, as they do contain cream cheese.

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^My scrumptious nephew. He called the M&M’s “dinosaur hair”.^

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Enjoy!

Leslie

Chewy Sugar Cookies

All sugar cookies should be chewy. Even if they’re crispy in texture, they should melt in your mouth. I inherited this belief from my mother, who spreads awareness of the evils of hard, store-made sugar cookies suffocated in cellophane (“they taste stale!”) to anyone eyeballing said cookies at bakeries and on grocery store check out lines. Consequently, I regard these cookies with the utmost disdain. They trick innocent people into believing that they are worthy of consumption, which they are not. Selfish cookies.

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Though hard sugar cookies are, admittedly, easier to decorate than chewy sugar cookies, they aren’t nearly as enjoyable to eat. This is why I compromise by making chewy sugar cookies rolled in granulated sugar and holiday sprinkles; they’re delicious and festive.

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Original Recipe: http://addapinch.com/cooking/chewy-sugar-cookies-recipe/

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INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1½ cups granulated sugar

1 egg

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup granulated sugar for rolling cookies

1/4 cup festive sprinkles

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper for an easy clean up.

Cream together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Make sure to get all of the chunks out, or some cookies will be way too buttery. Add egg and mix until well-combined.

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Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.

Scoop cookie dough by the tablespoon full and roll into a ball. I usually eyeball this step, which is why I always end up with less, larger cookies than the recipe is supposed to make.

Add granulated sugar to a small bowl for rolling cookie dough in before baking. Add sprinkles to a separate small bowl. Place each ball of cookie dough into the bowl of granulated sugar and roll to coat well. Next, roll each ball in the sprinkles, pressing down slightly so that they stick. Each ball won’t be completely covered in sprinkles- that’s okay!

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Place cookie dough onto baking sheet, spacing about 1½-inches to 2 inches apart. Place cookie sheets in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes before baking so that the cookies retain their round shape.

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^The two cookies on the left were refrigerated prior to baking. The one on the right was not. I.e., refrigerate your cookies prior to baking.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until very lightly browned.

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Enjoy!

Leslie