Friday, March 23, 2018

Lemon Glazed Almond Cookies

Spring is here! Our winter quarter classes wrapped up yesterday and I’m ready for some sunshine. Spring in the Pacific Northwest can be lovely, or it can be rainy and chilly. So far this spring has offered both. I’m ready for some baking to reflect the season. Lemon, strawberry, etc. I had pinned these cookies a while ago, where they were meant as a Christmas cookie. They certainly would work for Christmas, but I changed the glaze to a lemon glaze to make them more springy.

The original recipe from Pillsbury called for a roll of refrigerated sugar cookie dough. I typically make a batch of sugar cookie dough instead, as sugar cookie dough is very easy to make and uses ingredients that I already have on hand. I used almond flour in place of ground whole almonds. My almond flour was finer than almonds you grind yourself. I think the ground almonds would add some more texture to the cookies, but the almond flour worked fine.

You typically refrigerate sugar cookie dough, and I wasn’t sure if I needed to do that with these cookies or not. After shaping the dough, I refrigerated the cookies for about 10 minutes. Another batch I didn’t refrigerate at all, and in baking it made no difference. I didn’t have any sanding/sparkling sugar, which would have made these cookies look more fancy, but that’s ok. My husband doesn’t like crunchy sugar, so better for him! These have a subtle almond flavor, and I like the pairing with the lemon glaze. Happy Spring!

Lemon Glazed Almond Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
¾ teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2-1/2 cup flour
¼ cup ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ teaspoon salt
Sugar or Sanding Sugar

1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and egg. Mix on medium until the mixture comes together. Add the flour, ground almonds, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Mix on low until the dough comes together.

Shape the dough into balls, using 1 tablespoon of dough for each cookie. Roll each cookie in sugar and place on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until set and barely browned on the edges.

Cool completed before glazing. Make the glaze: in a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice, adding more juice as required to make the glaze a drizzling consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies.

Recipe adapted from Pillsbury. Sugar cookie recipe from Betty Crocker

Friday, March 16, 2018

Nutella Butter Cookie Bars

I love Nutella and Biscoff spread. I realized I haven’t used them in any recipes lately and I wanted to fix that! I have a couple of different recipes that I have pinned lately. I noticed that nearly all of the recipe that I have pinned lately have been bar cookies, and I certainly have made quite a few bar cookies lately. I love bar cookies and could make them all the time.

This recipe is a butter cookie with vanilla pudding mix in the dough. The original recipe didn’t specify what flavor of pudding to use, but vanilla seemed the most logical choice. I suppose you could get exotic and try something else if you’d like! I ended up doubling the recipe and baking the bars in a 9” x 13” pan. They bake for about the same amount of time and be careful not to over bake as you don’t want the cookies to be dry.

As I said, I doubled this cookie to bake in a larger pan. That gave me extra dough, theoretically, based on the area of the pan, but the layer of dough is quite thin. I used a little less Nutella than the recipe called for. I microwaved the Nutella for about 30 seconds to make it more spreadable, which helped a lot. My top layer wasn’t perfect, and I really had to work to get the dough thin enough to cover, but it works out in the end. Who minds if there is a little Nutella sticking out here and there? When I tried these cookies, I was instantly reminded of the flavor of a cookie that my grandma used to make. The crispy cookie part reminded me of these chocolate stuffed cookies she used to make. The filling flavor is different, but none the less, this cookie evoked a lot of great memories.

Nutella Butter Cookie Bars
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
3 tablespoons vanilla instant pudding mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup Nutella

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8” square baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium until combined. Add the egg and vanilla and mix again on medium to incorporate. Add the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together.

Divide the dough in halves. Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread the Nutella on top of the dough. Use the remaining dough to create another layer over the Nutella. The top layer does need to be perfect, but try to cover the filling as much as possible.

Bake for 33-35 minutes, until lightly browned along the edges. Allow the cookies to cool before cutting into bars. 

Recipe from Picky Palate

Friday, March 9, 2018

Vegan Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

A friend of mine posted this recipe on Facebook the other day, and as soon as I saw them I wanted to give them a try. I have made a number of vegan recipes, but by changing up ingredients in a standard recipe. My friend at work eats eggs, which makes baking for her a lot easier. These are truly vegan, with no eggs either. I haven’t used vegetable oil in a recipe, so I was intrigued.

This recipe, from King Arthur Flour, calls for bittersweet chocolate chips. I was curious about that, as I thought that even bittersweet chocolate would have some dairy. I looked at the chips linked to the recipe, and that particular brand was dairy free. The ones I had in my cupboard, of course, were not. I went to the store and bought dairy free chocolate chips. These are semi-sweet.

The dough must be refrigerated overnight. Sometimes you can get away with shortening the refrigeration, but not with these cookies. The dough is quite oily, even after refrigeration. I also learned that my freezer is not large enough for a baking sheet. When we bought a new refrigerator a couple of years ago, I made sure that a baking sheet would fit, but I hadn’t thought about the freezer. Oh well. While the dough is quite a different before baking, the cookies bake up to lovely cookies. They are soft but a little crispy around the edges; very nice!

Vegan Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups bittersweet* chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon water
 Sea salt

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and stir to coat. In a large mixer bowl, beat the sugar, brown sugar, vegetable oil and water on medium for two minutes. Add the flour mixture and stir on low just until the flour disappears into the dough. The dough will be very soft and somewhat oily. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats. 

Drop the dough into the prepared baking sheets, about 1-1/2 tablespoons of dough per cookie. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for ten minutes before baking; this will help the cookies retain their shape. Before baking, sprinkle the cookies with sea salt.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, until lightly browned along the edges. The cookies will not brown significantly. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Recipe from King Arthur Flour  

*Depending on the brand, the bittersweet chips may or may not contain dairy. Check the ingredients.