Tag Archives: cookies

Did you know? How to keep cookies fresh

1 Mar

Don’t you just hate how fast fresh-baked cookies seem to get stale?  Timely with my recent post about Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies, I thought I would post about a few secrets I’ve learned to keep them fresh, soft and not stale.

Here are a few secrets that I’ve learned to keep cookies tasting fresh:

  • Always keep cookies in a container (like Tupperware) with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Store cookies with a piece of bread!  The moisture from the piece of bread will help keep the cookies soft, moist and fresh (if you don’t want to waste a piece of bread, use the ends of the loaf that no one ever seems to want to eat anyway!)   Change the piece of bread every other day, or when it feels dry.
  • Freeze them!  Did you know that cookies freeze very well?  I didn’t know this until a few years ago.  Again, wrap them well and put them in a container with a good lid to keep them fresh for much longer in the freezer!  All the cookies I made around Christmas time stayed fresh for about 2 weeks because I kept them either in the freezer or in the garage (which hovers at a temperature just above freezing at this time of year!).

And if you want more cookie advice, this is a great article from Good Housekeeping on all your cookie baking questions!

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies

28 Feb

When I saw this orange chocolate chip cookie recipe on Foodgawker, and I knew I wanted to try them, especially when I read that they taste just like orange Milano cookies.   The recipe is originally from Cooking Classy, a blog I just discovered after seeing this recipe, but have quickly fallen in love with.  All the recipes look amazing and her photography skills are impeccable!  You should check it out.

Since the recipe is very similar to the chocolate chip cookie recipe I already use, I just added a little orange juice and zest to my existing recipe, and they turned out great.  Just enough orange flavor to be reminiscent of those yummy Milanos.

These cookies were (obviously) delicious hot and gooey out of the oven, but I also find that (if there are still any left), a few days down the road,  you can microwave them for 5-10 seconds to make them warm and gooey again.    And don’t forget the milk!

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies inspired by the recipe found here

Yield: about 3 dozen

  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Crisco
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat butter, Crisco, and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs, vanilla, orange juice and orange zest.

Add in dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips, and drop cookies onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.

Bake 7-8 minutes.  Cool on cookie sheet several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

And don’t forget to check out my  tips and tricks for keeping homemade cookies tasting fresh for days!

Day 9: Glazed Lemon Cookies

22 Dec

On the 9th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: Glazed Lemon Cookies!  I think that’s how the song goes…

These cookies couldn’t be simpler – a basic shortbread type cookie topped with a very lemony glaze.  These have been a huge hit at my family Christmas parties, I think because they stand in such sharp contrast to other Christmas cookies (I have been known to make special batches for some special people such as my Grandma).   I think these cookies are so appealing around the holidays because are petite (and thus very poppable), not too sweet, and very refreshing with such a bright lemon flavor.

This recipe is a great make-ahead recipe because they keep very well at room temperature (they’re a dry shortbread already, plus have a protective layer of glaze, so they don’t really get stale), but you can also make the dough ahead and refrigerate or freeze it (see instructions below).  Also, you probably have most all of these ingredients on hand already – likely all you’ll need to buy is a few lemons!  Easy and cheap: love it.

Glazed Lemon Cookies (recipe from Real Simple Magazine, found online here)

Time: 20 min active, 1 hour 45 min total time, Yield: The original recipe says 48, but I got ~60 out of the recipe

  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks (save the whites for another purpose, like a healthy omlette!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more if necessary – it has to be fresh, not the bottled kind!
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest – or just use the whole lemon like I did!

Cookies:  With an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and salt and beat to combine. Gradually add the flour, mixing until just incorporated.

Divide the dough in half and shape into 1 1/4-inch-diameter logs. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 350° F. Slice the logs into 3/8-inch-thick pieces and space them 1.5″ apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake until lightly golden, 16 to 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

Glaze:  In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and zest until it forms a thick but pourable glaze (add more lemon juice if necessary).  Dip the top of each cookie into the glaze and let set, about 15 minutes.

To freeze: Instead of refrigerating the dough, freeze the logs for up to 2 months. To bake, follow the recipe instructions, cutting and baking the dough from frozen, and use the upper end of the time range.

This cookie can be adapted to any number of citrus varieties since the dough itself is a plain shortbread.  In the summer, I have made some lemon and some lime, for a more interesting selection.  Orange or grapefruit might also be fun!  All you need is the fresh juice and zest.
 

Day 8: Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

21 Dec

Let me start off by saying that I ate three of these cookies before they were even cooled and that resulted in a sugar coma shortly after.  That being said, it was totally worth it.  I first made these cookies a few years ago, after I found the original recipe here from searching FoodGawker.   My mom loves chocolate and cherries, especially together, so I made these for her, and let me tell you, this recipe does not disappoint.

These cookies are slightly more labor-intensive than my molasses cookie recipe, but in my opinion, they are worth it!  The cookie itself has a fudgy, brownie-like texture, topped with a half a maraschino cherry and a smooth, fudgy chocolate topping.  This cookie will definitely satisfy your inner chocoholic, plus they’re practically a health food since they have fruit ;-)

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies (originally from here)

Time: 30-45 min prep + 10 min baking, Yield: ~40 cookies, depending how many you eat straight out of the oven…

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Hershey’s dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon EACH baking soda, baking powder and salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • ~20 marachino cherries (about one jar), cut in half, juice reserved
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk (I used leftover from making my Peppermint Patties)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Chocolate topping:  Place chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a small saucepan and melt over low heat.  Stir in 4 teaspoons of reserved cherry juice.  If chocolate becomes too thick, add a little more cherry juice.

Cookies:  Mix the flour, cocoa, soda, powder and salt in a bowl.   In a separate large bowl, beat the butter with a mixer until soft.  Add the sugar and beat until fluffy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla, then add the flour mixture gradually, and mix until well combined.  The dough will be very stiff.

Roll the dough into 1″ balls (I use this OXO Good Grips Small Cookie Scoop which makes the job very easy!) and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, about 2″ apart (parchment paper makes clean up a breeze! And you can reuse it for several batches). 

Make an indentation in each cookie with your thumb, and place a half a cherry into each. 

Top with ~1 teaspoon chocolate mixture, covering each cherry completely. 

Bake for 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.

*These cookies freeze well, so make them in advance!  Once cooled, transfer cookies to a Tupperware container lined with wax paper between each layer*

Day 3: Homemade Peppermint Patties

16 Dec

It’s Day 3 of the 12 Days of Christmas, and today I’ll share with you my adventures in making Homemade Peppermint Patties!  It had honestly never even crossed my mind that you could make homemade peppermint patties until I saw Giada make them on TV.   Of course she looked ever so graceful making them, without any mess left behind.  My kitchen and hands were covered in powdered sugar and chocolate after my adventures, but I think it was well worth it:

The recipe I used here is from Savory Sweet Life – which is a blog I LOVE, especially because her blog is where I found the idea for my wedding cake about 2 years ago! (Here’s the original link to her gorgeous fall leaf tutorial: Fall Leaf Cake).  I’m still in love.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the recipe.  The original recipe says “30 min” for total time – but that is in no way accurate.  This took me 2 hours total (which is what I expected).   And the yield says “32 pieces”.  I made the exact same recipe with the same size rounds (3/4″) and my recipe made 85!!! Glad I didn’t double it like I had originally planned!

Homemade Peppermint Patties  – from Savory Sweet Life

Yield: at least 75 pieces,  Time: at least 1.5 hours total

  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
  • 5.5 cups powdered sugar (I ended up using about 6.5 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon peppermint extract
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I think I used closer to 4…)
  • 3 tablespoons shortening

Mix condensed milk, 2 cups of powdered sugar and peppermint extract in a large bowl on medium speed using the paddle attachment until all the ingredients are well incorporated.  Add more powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is stiff but still pliable.  I ended up using about 6.5 cups sugar because the dough was too sticky after just 5.5.

Roll 3/4″ balls of dough between the palms of the hands.  Flatten into disks and place on a cutting board or plate with wax paper.  

 Alternatively, you can roll out the dough like cookie dough and cut into shapes with cookies cutters.  The only small cookie cutter I had was a mini gingerbread man one, which now I would not recommend because the limbs tended to fall off when coating in chocolate.   Small stars would be really nice, but I might actually be the biggest fan of the classic circles.

Transfer the dough to the freezer to firm up for about 30 minutes (original recipe says not to exceed this).

While the dough is chilling, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave (30 second bursts), stirring between each time until chocolate is smooth.  Stir in shortening to thin the chocolate.

Remove patties from the freezer.  Use two forks to dip patties into chocolate, covering completely, and shaking off the excess.  Set on wax paper to firm up (this can be expedited in the fridge, but mine were mostly solidified by the time I got to the last batch). 

Overall, this recipe was surprisingly simple (who knew you only needed 3 ingredients to form the peppermint “dough”?) – and it was fun to play with.  Oh, and they also are pretty darn delicious.  Like, definitely better than the store bought kind. 

The most time consuming and frustrating part of this was definitely coating them in chocolate.  My advice would be to make sure you’ve adequately thinned the chocolate (and keep it relatively warm so it doesn’t get stiff).  And, if they turn out sloppy, just cover them with sprinkles :) 

Call me crazy, but next year I kind of want to try cinnamon ones.. with cinnamon extract and red food coloring… anybody with me?

Day 2: Molasses Cookies

15 Dec

A few years ago, I set out to find a recipe to recreate the molasses cookies from Starbucks at home.  I’m not even sure if Starbucks still has these in stores, but they were huge, chewy, spicy and delicious.  I found this recipe online a few years ago (so it’s not my original!), but now I can’t seem to find the website I originally found it on.  I do think it’s very similar to a Cook’s Illustrated recipe though – so there’s my disclaimer!   Wherever it came from, this recipe is delicious, and molasses cookies are now one of the favorites in my family!

This year I made these cookies slightly smaller (to make them enormous like Starbucks, I used to use 1/4 cup dough for each cookie, and the recipe would make ~12 very large cookies) – this year I used closer to an 1/8 cup dough per cookie, so they are much more reasonably sized and better for holiday sharing. 

Molasses Cookies

Yield: ~30 cookies (1/8 cup dough per cookie), Time: 20 min + 12 min baking

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened (leave at room temperature or microwave very briefly – do not melt)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar (I only had light brown on hand so I upped the molasses by a tablespoon or so)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses (spray your measuring cup with Pam beforehand so it won’t stick!)
  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour (level flour in measuring cup with a knife to ensure accurate measuring)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • granulated sugar, for rolling 

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Cream the softened butter and brown sugar (I used a stand mixer with paddle attachment but you can do it by hand or with electric mixer). 

Add the egg and molasses, increasing to high speed for 1 min.

Mix in all the remaining dry ingredients on low until just combined.

Roll dough into balls (depending on the size of cookies you want, use between an 1/8 and 1/4 cup).  Roll dough balls in granulated sugar to coat, and place on parchment-lined baking sheets (this makes clean up a breeze). 

With your fingers, slightly flatten dough balls before placing in the oven for 12 minutes (adjust time if making larger cookies).  They will start to flatten and crackle when they are close to done. 

Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes.  Remove and transfer to cooling racks.

Give cookies to Santa and anyone else you love!