Category: cookies

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014

photo credit: http://thebrunettebaker.blogspot.ca/

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us. That’s right, it’s time for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (#fbcookieswap) 2014! I can’t believe it’s already the 4th edition of this amazing Secret-Santa style trade. The tastiest, sweetest gift exchange I’ve ever been a part of, the fbcookieswap is this awesome idea where food bloggers send each other cookies through the mail. Organized and facilitated by the brains behind Love and Olive Oil and The Little Kitchn, the swap brings together over 500 talented foodies each year to share love and joy through cookies. Added bonus – it’s all for charity! To learn more, visit http://www.fbcookieswap.com, or search the hashtag #fbcookieswap on twitter or instagram.

So, what did I make? Every year, I try to make something original, using flavours that go above and beyond the traditional. It being winter and all, I’ve been on a chai kick lately. Inspired by my favourite tea, I made some melt-in-your-mouth, sweet and salty and oh so perfectly spiced Cardamom and Anise shortbread thins. 
Hello, delicious!
I hope my recipients enjoyed them as much as I did, because let me tell you, I enjoyed them. Even my boyfriend, a self-proclaimed shortbread hater, liked them. (And that says a lot!) 

One of our teachers at Pastry school suggests that the rule of thumb for cookies is that they are made small. And I mean small! No more than 10 to 12 grams each. Why? His reasoning is that people like to get more for their money. (My reasoning is that it’s more fun to eat something that’s bite-sized!) It’s important to note that shortbread has a tendency to be pasty in the mouth if you have too much at once, so make sure to keep these cookies thin, rolled out to less than a quarter of an inch high. I used a scalloped round 1″ cutter to shape them, but feel free to get creative and use whatever cutters you have on hand. Remember to keep cookies of the same size together on the same baking tray, because smaller ones will cook faster!

Happy baking, and happy holidays!

Simple Shortbread with Cardamom and Anise
adapted from Châtelaine magazine, December 2014

ingredients
1.5 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
pinch salt
3 tsp ground anise seed
3 tsp ground cardamom

Salted cinnamon sugar: 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tbsp cinnamon & a pinch of salt, for dusting

method
Mix together dusting ingredients and set aside.
Using paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
Stop the mixer and add in flour, salt and spices.
Mix on low speed just until blended. (Do not overmix!)
Form dough into a ball and chill for 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Line a few baking trays with parchment paper.
Roll dough out onto floured surface and cut into desired shapes.
Sprinkle with salted cinnamon sugar.
Place cookies onto lined baking sheets and bake in preheated oven, 10 minutes or until very lightly golden. Let cookies cool on cooling rack before eating!

Enjoy!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap (Cinnadoodle Cookies)






This year, I had the most wonderful opportunity to participate in the 2nd annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I was the lucky recipient of a box of absolutely addictive cinnamon swirl cookies from Dana over at Hot Pink Apron. I also received 2 boxes of chocolate chip “World Peace” cookies (from two different bloggers, and one huge coincidence!) IF YOU SENT THESE TO ME, PLEASE CONTACT ME! I’d like to link to you on my blog, and I’ve somehow lost the folder that I had put your letters/contact info into! 

So when this whole swap started, I felt as though the pressure was on for me – make something amazing that I haven’t yet blogged? Generally, if I’ve made something amazing in the past, it’s been blogged in a Montreal Minute. Except for one thing – my Cinnadoodles! Vanilla-almond cookies coated in cinnamon sugar. You read that correctly. Vanilla. Almond. Cinnamon. Go ahead, wipe the drool off your chin. This is some seriously good stuff. The main reason that I haven’t yet blogged these addictive little buggers is simply ’cause they haven’t lasted more than 24 hours in my apartment! I actually had to package and hide the boxes that I was sending away in fear that they’d be gobbled up before I awoke the next morning. 

A little note that I discovered while baking for the challenge: this recipe does NOT multiply well. I’ve made it countless times, and it’s always worked for me, but the first attempt at tripling it, was the biggest baking flop I’ve had in a long time. So please, go and make these, they are delicious and cute and perfect with tea or all on their own. But don’t alter the measurements. (Oh, but if you must, triple all of the ingredients, except the flour – use 2.25 cups.)

Oh, and did I mention how they’re oh-so-seasonally appropriate with their super sparkly crispy outsides and ooey gooey almondy insides? Well they are. Which also makes them the perfect gift. I truly hope that my three recipients appreciated them as much as I enjoyed mine!



Cinnadoodle Cookies
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg

1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp coarse ground sea salt

For the coating: 1/4 cup semi-coarse ground sugar mixed with 1/4 cup ground cinnamon

how to do it
Preheat oven to 400F. Combine oil, sugar and egg. Using electric mixer, beat until light in colour. Add extracts, mixing well. In seperate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Slowly fold in flour mixture into sugar and oil mixture. Dough will be very sticky. Refrigerate mixtue for about an hour, or overnight. Once it is cold, form into walnut-size balls and roll generously in sugar coating. 

Place the cookies a few inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes. Cool on pan for 1 minute, then transfer to cooling rack.

Winter Sparkle (Molasses Cookies)

Spice and sparkle: two things that my winter cannot be complete without. I’m not talking spice in the form of cayenne & capsicum. I’m talking cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves. Whether you’ve got lattes-a-brewin’ or cookies-a-bakin’, nothing beats the cold weather comfort derived from something warm and spiced. The fragrances alone are enough to entice you to curl up under a blanket in front of a fireplace (or radiator) with your favourite person (or book) occasionally glancing outside to appreciate the aesthetics of the season. While this festive time consistently inspires twinkling lights, glittery greeting cards and sequinned attire, Winter’s ultimate shine comes from that iridescent sparkle that only truly occurs for a precious few moments as the sun rises over the blanket of an overnight snowfall. 
If only I could have something that was both sparkled and spiced…

Oh! That’s right. I can. These cookies. Molasses, cardamom and cinnamon come together to produce this chewy delicious magic. The sparkle comes from rolling the dough in raw sugar just before baking. As they stay soft and chewy for many days after baking, these make the perfect edible gift for that hard-to-shop for person on your list.  Or, you know, for yourself!

Spiced Molasses Cookies
inspired by Bon Appetit Magazine, November 2011

what you’ll need
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 ½  teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoons ground cardamom
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
½ cup vegetable shortening (preferably trans-fat free)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup raw or sanding sugar 


how to do it
Preheat oven to 350F and position rack in centre. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
Combine all dry ingredients and set aside. On medium speed of electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and shortening until light and creamy, about a minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with spatula. Add in egg, molasses and vanilla, beating on low just until blended. With spatula, fold in dry ingredients just until combined. Using a tablespoon measure, grab dough, 1 tbsp at a time and roll into a ball. Drop the ball into the bowl of raw sugar to coat. Place on baking sheet, leaving some space in between, and pressing down very lightly on each one. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cookies will be very soft immediately out of the oven. Let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from sheet. 
Tip: for best results, chill dough for about 10 -15 minutes in fridge before baking.



Flourless Delights: Macaroons

I’ve always had a thing for macaroons. Perhaps it’s because they always come out at this time of year, so they remind me of warming weather and budding trees. Perhaps it’s because they are often the only cookie on the Seder table that doesn’t taste questionably like cardboard. Or, perhaps it’s because I’ve never quite known what they are made of… and I’ve always been intrigued how a cookie that is seemingly made entirely of coconut could taste so strongly of marzipan. In the spirit of all things homemade, this year, I’ve decided to make my very own macaroons.And then I decided to play around with them & flavour them up. First, almond extract. Then, vanilla.

And then I found a jar of matcha.

Oh yes, I did. I made matcha macaroons. You can stop drooling now. Because they are incredibly easy. And fast. And you are going to make some too. Right now. Chag Semeach!


Coconut Macaroons 
(Kosher for Passover)
what you’ll need
• 3 egg whites (1/3 to 1/2 cup)
• 1 cup sugar
• 3 cups shredded coconut
• 2 tsp flavouring (almond, vanilla, matcha, cocoa powder) – optional
how to do it
Preheat oven to 310F.
Beat egg whites until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar and then the flavouring, beating until peaks are very stiff. Fold in the coconut with a spatula, until it is all coated.
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of mixture 2 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. It is VERY important that you grease or line your sheets, because these little buggers like to stick! Bake approximately 16 minutes, or until settled. Do not allow to brown too deeply. Tip: if you’re not a coconut fan, baking these on their own (without the coconut) also works to create deliciously fluffy meringue cookies!

Raisin the Bar

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be 80 years old (or constipated) to enjoy raisins. Raisins get a bad rep most likely because they’re dry and they resemble fingers that have been soaking in water for hours. The irony is that if you soak a raisin in water for a while, it’ll plump right up. One of the secrets behind my ultimate oatmeal cookies: soak your raisins. That is, if you are using raisins at all, which I think that you should. Over the years, I’ve tried and tested many oatmeal cookies and I’ve found it harrowing to find a great recipe. I’ve had decent ones, I’ve had good ones… but they’ve all fallen short of great. Some have too many oats, some have too little butter. Some have too much spice, and some don’t have enough. Finally, I took the components of the cookies that I’ve enjoyed and I’ve combined them to formulate this cookie – aptly named the Ultimate. Unfortunately, a debate in my house always ensues: I vote raisin. Fiona votes chocolate. My brother votes anything, as long as he can dye them blue. I conclude that we make three separate batches. Mine win. (Obviously.)

Allison’s Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies

What you’ll need
1 cup raisins, in water
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, well beaten
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups quick-cooking oats
½ cup shredded coconut

How to do it
Preheat oven to 325 C.
Soak raisins in water while preparing other ingredients.
Mix sugars together. Cream in butter and vanilla. Mix in beaten eggs. Mix in raisins.
Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl. Add slowly to wet ingredients until just coated.
Add oats and coconut, mix well.
Bake at 325C for 12 minutes, until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.