Posts filed under: ‘Cookies‘


I kind of SUCK!! Haven’t posted in more than a week!  Well no excuses.  Today I’m finally feeling ahead of the eight ball.  I spent a day off yesterday cleaning and organizing, spring cleaning is always so cathartic.  As I walked into apartment after work tonight I saw this lying in the hallway. I walked past it at first but quickly felt that nag to turn around as I always find needed inspiration in those cute fortune cookie slips. Inspiration in a cookie? Yesss!  This is why I bake.

Be on the alert for new opportunities. Well okay.  But wait its gets better.

Cake. CAKE!  Dan Gao. DAN GAO! There’s an important message here.

This last week in recap?  Well I watched my beloved Ranger’s lose their chance at a 2011 Stanley Cup, and lost a bake-off at work, but I also got some quality time with family for the holidays, and celebrated my little brother’s birthday.

In my family April is the month for celebrating birthdays, especially on my mom’s side.  My bother and cousin were born in the same year 16 days apart, April 6th and 22nd.  You couldn’t have found two happier grandparents than mine, whose birthdays are also both in April.  My aunt and uncle (my grandparent’s son and daughter) were also April babies along with a couple more relatives I’m probably forgetting.  Around Easter we usually got a cake to have for dessert, to share with all the family members that was celebrating birthdays within days of each other. I have a very distinct memory when I was young of piping cool whip with a plastic sandwich bag on one such cake, and this could have easily been the start of where I am today.

My grandmother would have been 86 this past April  2, and I can’t help but think of all the time I got to spend with her.  Being the oldest grandchild I have the most distinct memories of time spent with her in her kitchen.  Whether it was eating oatmeal (slow cooked over the stove) for breakfast, or canning homemade strawberry jam every summer, I’m almost selfish about how lucky I was to have the vivid memories of learning to cook with her. This past Christmas I spent time duelving into the pages of Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, remembering all the recipes I made from this book in my grandmother’s cozy upstate kitchen.  The Hermit was one of them and I always remember my grandmother when I think of this cooky.  It’s perhaps a little out of season– you can see my pictures are from Christmas, but its a great cooky for an afternoon snack, or tea.

According to Betty Crocker the Hermit was the Best Cooky from 1880-1890.  Its sweet and spicy and perfect with coffee or for dessert.



1 c shortening (I used 1/2 c butter, 1/2 c shortening)

2 c brown sugar (packed)

2 eggs

1/2 c coffee

3 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

2 1/2 c raisins

1 1/4 c broken nuts ( I used pecans, walnuts are good too)

Sift flour and combine dry ingredients. Set aside. Mix shortening, (butter), sugar, and eggs thoroughly.

Mix in coffee. Add flour/ spice mixture.

Fold in raisins, and nuts.

Wrap with plastic wrap, or in wax paper. Chill for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough 2″ apart on the sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.  I usually press the dough out  a bit with my finger before baking.

Betty Crocker doesn’t call for it, but my grandmother always added a sweet glaze to her Hermits.  Mix 1-2 tbsp of milk to a cup of confectioners sugar, or enough to make a thick but runny mixture. Drizzle over your cookies and let dry.  Hermits are mildly sweet so the glaze isn’t a sugar overload.

Add a comment April 28, 2011

Coconut Macaroons

Another start of another week.  Last week concluded with a great once in a lifetime performance of Eric Clapton and Wynton Marsalis.  My parents ventured into the city and enjoyed the show and I got to sneak in a few times through the week’s rehearsals and performances to get my fill of New Orleans blues with the Master of guitar.  I actually had to work Sunday so I’m not sure if my week has just started or never ended. I will say in todays rain and wind I found myself downstairs at Bouchon Bakery hoping they wouldn’t be sold out of my favorite guilty pick-me-up. French Macaroons.

I’m currently obssessed with idea of making French Macaroons. For awhile I didn’t know there were 2 kinds.  The first: a ridiculously easy  could-make-them-drunk-and-blindfolded coconut macaroon, and then there is the explicitly difficult French sandwich cookie that is as beautiful to look at as they are to eat. Typically, the latter don’t have coconut, but could, in fact have coconut if you wanted. The trend with French macs are to color and flavor and fill them with pistachios, lemon curd, raspberries, peanut butter and just about anything else you can think of.

Both cookies have egg whites, and are soft and chewy and delicious.

But lets take the easy road first shall we?  Yes because my last French endeavour was not soooo successful, but more on that later.

Traditional Macaroons are popular at holiday time– I usually make a whole  truck load for holiday cookie platters, and if you have found yourself invited to Passover next week and boogled over the lack of kosher-esque dishes you can bring to dinner, macaroons are the way to go.  Featuring only egg whites (no dairy) they are usually part of Jewish holiday menus. I brought some a few years ago to a Passover dinner and they were a hit.

Coconut Macaroons, from one of my favorite books The Taste of Home CookBook


1 1/3 c flaked coconut

1/3 cup sugar

2 tbsp all purpose flour

1/8 tsp salt

2 egg whites

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix coconut, flour, sugar, and salt.

Mix in egg whites and vanilla.  Make sure to combine well.

Drop on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until golden. 1 recipe yields about 1 1/2-2 dozen, so I typical double or triple it. Dip in chocolate if you dare. Use melted vegan chips if you are aiming for dairy free.


Add a comment April 13, 2011

My Funny Valentine

My boyfriend and I always joke that our dog Billie, looks like a sad clown. She has a black muzzle that gives her a 5 o’clock  shadow and black fur all around her eyes that kind of make her resemble a mime.  Her middle name is May for Maybelline because of all the make up it looks like shes wearing. Yes yes,my dog has a middle name, I also dress her up on occassion (I haven’t posted her Halloween pictures yet), pass your judgments.  I’ve become, in only a few months, a dog person.

I thought I’d take a break from chocolate, especially since my Valentine Bill, can’t have it and do instead a recipe she could enjoy:

Toby’s Tuna Triangles

Makes about 40 triangles

From Baking for you Dog by Ingeborg Pils

1 can tuna fish in natural juice

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 egg

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

9 oz cornflour

5 oz rolled oats

2 oz flour

Drain tuna, then blend with olive oil and egg in a blender.  I just mushed mine up with a folk.  Mix with the rest of ingredients to form a dough.  I found I had cornmeal, not corn flour so I improvised by using a few oz of cornmeal, and 8oz of spelt flour. I also added some scallions I have left over from dinner.

Roll out to 1/2 ” thickness and cut into triangles. Place cookies on baking sheet and bake at 350 F degrees for approximately 25 minutes. Store in a cookie tin.  Will keep for about two weeks.

Add a comment February 14, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

In time for Valentines Day these are a great homemade, but really easy to make confection for someone you are sweet on. But first, I want to mention the event I made these for and my favortie, absolute favorite organization: VDay.

When I was in college studying theatre and wondering “What the hell am I gonna do after I graduate?!?!” I auditioned for a play,  and got the chance to be on stage in a neighboring college’s production of The Vagina Monologues.  I was also studying Solo Performance Art and quickly learned about the controversial play’s author Eve Ensler.  I ended up doing a presentation on Eve and her work.  I was astounded how she choose to use her piece to help others.  To this day I don’t think any other playwright has written the rights to their work in such a giving and original way.

Each year (to this day) Eve allows college and community organizers to perform The Vagina Monologues, free of royalties. Proceeds from the performances are donated to a local organization who help to end violence against women and girls.  I soon decided that it was odd the the super progressive, funky, eclectic and very eccentric college I attended didn’t do their own annual production of TVM.  So the following year I produced and directed the first of 2 VDay events during my college career.  Currently there are 1500 schools across the country who participate, raising millions for non profits in their communities.  4,000 events will take place this year around the world, and VDay has evolved too.  Organizers can present many plays and films including The Vagina Monologues, A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and  a Prayer, Any One of Us, and films: What I Want my Words to Do to You, and Until the Violence Stops.  There are book clubs for young girls, and teach-ins for the issues that VDay spotlights each year: Haiti being this years spotlight Campaign. There are V groups for men too, because violence doesn’t just affect women. VDay involves many amazing women and men who are all committed to ending violence and they use art to spread this transformative message.

Ever been on a stage? I’m sure you can attest to a metamorphosis feeling of being an actor, storyteller, or having seen a great piece that really changed your life. One of my favorite plays I’ve ever seen, is aptly called Metamorphoses— a pool of water instead of stage? A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  And thats theatre– art really.  My story with VDay doesn’t really end.  I made a brief but powerful connection to one of the Campaign Directors at the West End Theatre the year I first produce The Vagina Monologues, the next year I was interning and amoungst all the volunteering I still do for VDay whenever I can, and especially when they need a theatre nerd backstage.  And that Campaign Director, Shael well I was there when she went into labor for her daughter Aela, and every year I make her birthday cake.  Its our thing.  And its always been my excuse to show a little V-girl what cool lady’s can do for the people who are special to them. 

I hope to make the world a great place one cake at time, and VDay, aside from being all over my professional resume has been at the heart of how I want the world to be: happy, safe, amazing, accepting of everyone, for everyone.  When violence is no longer perpetrated against women and girls– we are all ladies and gents safe, happy, accepting, progressing. We’re better. Better People, Better Friends, better family, better lovers, better artists. GOOD.  If you want to get involved: be in a play, become or wake up that activist in you, reach out, open up, raise funds for a good cause, get educated, educate, become apart of a heart beat, a backbone of people who want the world to be a better place, be an artist, inspire, lead, be an example to the next generation of people, make the world better for your own kids, then go to You’ll find a performance or film screening near you and organizers always need help, so reach out and jump in. Make a donation if you want.

On to a really easy recipe just in time for VDay.  Save the cash on store bought chocolates and make these for your sweetie.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles:

Start with a package a Nestle’s mini morsels.

Omit the eggs and levening agents. Walnuts are optional, and you are good to go.

Combine 3/4 c sugar, 3/4c  brown sugar, 1c  butter and 1 tsp vanilla

Add 2 1/4c flour and 1 tsp salt.

Its like a fluffy cloud of buttery sugar!

Fold in chips.

and you are ready to start scooping.

I recommend a cookie scooper, although my plastic one broke after a batch of these.  I think a more heavy duty metal scooper is best and they come in all shapes and sizes. 

Of course try to get these as uniform as possible, scooping and rolling the truffles in your hands. Chill in the refridgerator for about an hour or longer before you dip in chocolate.

In a double boiler or microwave gently heat 1 c (more if you need) semisweet chocolate chips. I recommend adding 2 tbsp butter or shortening to thin the chocolate for a really thin consistency.  Use a plastic fork with the 2 middle tines removed. Dip chilled truffles and allow to set on wax paper.

I like to finish these off by placing them in mini cupcake cups or candy cups for display.

Of course you can doctor these but using vegan butter and chocolate.  I haven’t seen mini vegan chocolate chips, but chopping up your chocolate always works.

2 comments February 8, 2011

Christmas Sausage Cookies (for Dogs)

Once upon a time, not too long ago, I was on my way out the door of my apartment, when I saw two young kids with a puppy.  It turns out they’d found her abandoned in the park across the street.  She gave me one look with her German Shepard black lined eyes and I, of course immediately fell in love. We called animal care and control, filed a report, searched craiglist and the neighborhood for signs that she’d run away or gotten lost but as it turned out she was abandoned.  Its pretty sad when you think about the strays and abandoned animals who need good loving homes.  My cat is also a stray from the park who I found late one night crying outside my apartment.  I like to think I didn’t find them, Minnie my cat and Billie, my dog, but that they found me.

So this week as a nice favor to my lovely boyfriend, a constant supporter to all my cake endeavours and all eccentric endeavours not cake related of course, I’ve got Billie with me in the city where we found her last summer.  She visits often on weekends but typically lives upstate with my boyfriend who also couldn’t bare to bring her to a shelter after we found her.  Having a dog is hard, early walks, giving up lunch breaks to take her out– in the rain, the snow, the biting cold, but one look at her Maybelline eyes and you can’t resist, so I’m happy to have another roommate this week, though my cat is not sooo pleased.

So heres a little holiday treat for puppy girls like Billie.  Ever go into a store that carries a full variety of Bob’s Red Mill products and wonder Who in the World could possible use all that flour?

I’ve been perplexed by this question and this: what in the world is Spelt Flour anyway?  It turns out you’ll need a little variety in your ground grain reperatoire with these puppy treats. My dog makes me incredibly happy, even though she is still a puppy and has her moments of absolute zaney off the wall bonkers craziness, shes a sweetie. And thankfully she is not totally food obsessed. She does her fair share of begging, and she does love treats, especially these.  I think I have 2 buried in my couch currently– she likes to save her treats for later.

From Baking for Your Dog by Ingeborg Pils

9 oz whole grain Rye flour

3 1/2 oz rolled oats

1 oz lard

3 1/2 oz sausage meat

6 fluid oz water

Mix ingredients to form a dough.  I added some bacon left over from breakfast the day before, I also opted to use the bacon grease left from breakfast instead of throwing it away.  I should also mention that I didn’t use all the water, it just made he dough too gummy, so I suggest 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the refridgerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven for 320 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

On a floured surface roll our to 1/2 ” thickness cut out shapes with cookie cutters (dog bones came with the recipe book).  I cut mine a bit thinner, closer to 1/4 of an inch.  I used the rye flour to flour the surface, it adds a bit of texture.  Make  Place on cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes.  Turn off oven and let dry within oven. Cookies will brown slightly on the bottom.  I flipped the cookies after cooking and then allowed them to dry.

These cookies are good because the aren’t super greasy, though they have a meaty flavor.  Billie loves bacon and sausage, however she likes to bury her treats when she gets them, making for some greasy pillows and cushions if I don’t watch her. These cookies are somewhat dry so if your dog is like Billie, you have little worry about. Store in cookie tin. Treat will keep for 2 weeks.

1 comment December 14, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Its cookie season.  So I’m going to start off with my favorite recipe of all time.  Chocolate Chip cookies from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book.

First reason I love this bookis because the first copy I owned was given to me by my beloved grandmother, an avid and exceptional baker– when she was eulogized years ago, her banana cream pie was mentioned– thats the kind of reputation she had.  My grandmother taught me to make all kinds of things: jam, cookies, pies.  We also used to cook way inadvance and she would totally let me indulge by sneaking a few cookies here and there out of the freezer.  I bought a used copy on for under $3.  Sure its stained and a little dog-earred, but it looks just like the one I lost and as the seller stated, its worn appearance is a testament to the recipes inside.

Second reason to love this book: all the fabulous cooky (spelled that way on purpose) recipes illustrated in super saturated 1970’s photography.  This book came about before food stylists really existed I assume, nonetheless fullbleed super saturdated color photos still keep you inspired.

Third reason to love this book: in the back they dedicate recipes for cookies based on the years they were most popular.  For example the Chocolate Chip was the Best Cooky of 1935-1940.  Some historical highlights mentioned in these years: 1936 Edward VIII abdicates the throne to marry the woman he loves. 1938 Gone with the Wind premiers to become one of the most popular movies of all time.  And truthfullly I don’t think we are all that different then we were all these years later.  Prince William and his lady Kate will be married this year, and the last of the Harry Potter books has made it to the theatres breaking records again. I doubt the Chocolate Chip Cooky will ever go out of style.

Chocolate Chip Cookies: I typically double this recipe as listed below.

2/3 c shortening*

(I generally despise shortening, but certain cooky recipes it helps to keep the cookies puffy instead of melting all over the pan.  You can change the ratio of shortening to butter if you feel inclined.)

2/3 c butter

1 c sugar

1 c brown sugar ( I used 1/3 light brown and 1/3 dark brown, either or both work.  The more the molasses–dark brown will add a more chewy the cooky’s texture)

2 eggs

2 tsp pure vanilla

3  c all purpose flour

1 tsp soda

1 tsp salt

1 c chopped walnuts

2 c (12 oz) chocolate chips

Cream butter, shortening, eggs and vanilla.  I suggest you cream the shortening, butter, and sugar first.  The butter should be soft but still cool. Take out of the fridge 30 minutes before you use.  After the fats and sugar are blended add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until smooth.

Combine dry ingredients. You can sift the flour, soda, and salt if you choose, honestly I’d rather not use the time.

Fold in the chips and walnuts.  Nuts are of course optional, but I absolutely believe that walnuts are as apart of chocolate chip cookies, as the chips are. To each their own. I should also note that you should go lightly on the chips.  2 cups are only 12oz, so you shouldn’t use the whole of the 16oz bag,unless of course you are a choco-holic and in that case go for it!

I scoop the dough with a small ice cream scooper so that the cookies are uniform.  Press the dough down in the center with your fingers.  Make sure there is at least 2 inches between each as the dough rises and spreads.

Bake on parchment lined baking sheet.  Do not use wax paper!  Unless you want your cookies to taste like chocolate chip crayons.  You can continue to reuse the same parchment sheet until its dark brown, then disguard and line with fresh sheet.

Cook for approximate 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Take out when the centers of the cookies are still pale, “lilly livered” as my grandmother used to say. The cookies continue to bake as they cool, so taking them out slightly underdone renders them perfect.

I’m hoping to do some other variations of the Chocolate Chip Cookie in the future, if you are looking for some GREAT insight I suggest you DVR Good Eats. Alton Brown does a number of recipes oc the cookie: Chewy, crispy, fluffy. Using bread flour, cake, flour, butter and/or shortening will give you a slightly different result.  Missed it on TV? DVD sets of the show are now available and would make a great Christmas gift for your favorite foodie!

Add a comment December 7, 2010

Valentine’s Day

I celebrated Valentine’s Day  like anyone else might, with a bone crushing Hockey game!  Nothing like a bunch big angry men slaming into each other to symbolize a day of love, but enough about me.

Valentines Day is actually one of my favorite holidays because it is the celebratory day of one of my favorite organziations VDay.  VDay has been doing alot of work over the last 12 years to make the world a better place, especially for women and girls. I applaud their work and have tried to volunteer time or donate funds when I can.   I think Valentines Day is just the appropriate day to spread love so why not try to do so by giving time and or money to those who need it?

That brings me to my dear friends Chrissy and Nathan.   They spent February 14th running a marathon!!  NO SMALL FEAT, thats for sure!  Chrissy and Nathan were really dedicated to their cause of completing the 26.2 mile  race around the Austin city limits. (And they both managed to finish in under 4 hours!!)  They trained hard for months completing 20 mile hilly courses in their East Texas neighborhood all in preparation  for a race that can really do a number on you if you aren’t ready.  To give themselves some added inspiration while on the grueling course this past V-Day, Chrissy and Nathan asked their friends to donate to their favorite charity Doctor’s without borders.   They both said it really helped knowing that they’d helped raise money for an important cause all while accomplishing a big personal goal.

So though I might have spent an enjoyable V-Day drinking beer and screaming when Sean Avery sunk in a top shelf penalty shot I did try and donate to the Chrissy and Nathan’s training regimen …with calories!  Adaquate caloric intake is essential when training for a feat of this nature and Chrissy and Nathan are also vegan which in my opinion is another challenge at least from my humble baker’s prespective.  So I sent my friends a large box of Vegan Cookies to keep their spirits and their calories high in anticipation of a mighty race!


Vegan Chocolate Chips from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

These Cookies were so awesome you’d never know that they don’t contain butter.  I had to save a couple for myself before sealing up the package and sending it off.

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 c white sugar

2/3 c canola oil

1/4 c unsweetened almond milk or your choice of non dairy milk

1 tsp tapioca flour (sometimes called tapioca starch, I substituted 1 tsp cornstarch, as I couldn’t find tapioca flour)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 c all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 c chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Combine sugars, oil, milk, and tapioca flour with a fork.  Mix with vigor for about 2 minutes! As the authors of this awesome book mention “there is a chemical reaction when the sugar and oil collide, so its important that you don’t get lazy..”  The mixture should look like thick carmel when you are done.

Add 1 cup of flour, baking soda and salt and mix well.  Add the remaining flour and fold in chips.  Scoop dough into balls.  I suggest 1.5″ in diameter.  Flatten slightly when placing on cookie sheet.  I lined my cookie sheet with parchment paper.  If you don’t have parchment make sure you grease the cookie sheet.

**Parchment is great at limiting the messiness of baking and you can use one piece of parchment batch after batch in the oven.  Replace with a fresh sheet when the paper starts to look brown.  By the way I don’t recommend using wax paper in place of parchment, unless you want you cookies to taste like crayons…

1 comment February 18, 2010

Sugary Shout Out!

Heres a recipe that was a big hit this weekend at my theatre’s annual Holiday Reception.  And you only need 3 ingredients to make these truffles.  I found these on another wordpress blog ChocolateFool and she got the recipe from Bakerella.

The only thing I did a little differently is I used semisweet chocolate chips and not chocolate bark to coat the truffles. I did use Wilton candy melts for the white striping.  Check out both sites for different ideas on how to present these.

Grind up a whole box of oreo cookies mix with one block of cream cheese.  Make sure cream cheese is at room temperature.  Roll into balls and refridgerate.  Melt 2 cups of chocolate chips or chocolate bark and dip.  The chocolate fool recommends using a plastic fork with the center tongs broken off. It works so well I used it for the other chocolates I made.

1 comment December 15, 2009

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Sugar, Frosting, and Fondant: an artistic exploration of Cake and other Sweets