Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies

Mint Chocolate Chip? Rocky Road? Blackberry Cobbler? Coffee? Cookies n’ Creme? I almost spent longer in the ice cream isle debating flavors than I did at home making these delightful desserts. Which ice cream will you choose? Get caught in the dilemma by making some today.

Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies

  • 1.5 sticks butter, soft
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1.5 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • about a 1/2 gallon of ice cream

Preparation:

1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

2. Add the egg and vanilla extract and blend until fully incorporated. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Sift flour and cocoa powder together in a separate bowl. Add half of the flour and mix for two minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing until dough forms.

4. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling out on a floured surface (add some cocoa powder to the flour to maintain the color of the cookies). I used a fluted biscuit cutter for the cookies, but you could also cut the dough in rectangles like traditional ice cream sandwich cookies. After shaping the cookies, refrigerate them while you preheat the oven to 350.

 5. Bake cookies for about 8 minutes. Note: They will not spread much at all so feel free to crowd the baking tray more than you might with another type of cookie.

6. Cool cookies on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before loading them up with slightly defrosted ice cream. If the first cookie you sandwich crumbles, cracks and falls apart, you can try freezing the baked cookies until they have hardened. If you’ve got sprinkles, nows the time.

Fool Proof Rolled Sugar Cookie

These are the best, simplest rolled sugar cookies I have ever made. The dough comes together quickly, rolls out like a red carpet, and can be reworked and refrigerated multiple times. Perfect for the holidays, or any days.

Wish you had an awesome cookie cutter for any occasion? Check out this post to learn how to make your own!

Fool Proof Rolled Sugar Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter, soft
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Preparation:

1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. (Need some clarifications about this step? Go here > Creaming Method for a tutorial.)

3.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl often.

4. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes before adding half of the dry ingredients.  Beat on high for 30 seconds, scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat on high for another 30 seconds. Add the rest of the flour and repeat until dough is consistent.

5. To prepare dough for cookie cutters, tightly wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, then roll out on well floured surface.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 6-8 minutes (or longer, depending on the thickness/size). Cool completely before icing.

Peanut Butter and Nutella Cookies

A subtle twist on a classic cookie. Absolutely. This is how I used up a container of (off brand) Nutella when I got sick of eating it by the spoonful.

Peanut Butter and Nutella Cookies (recipe adapted from this post on the sweetest kitchen)

  • 1 and 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, soft
  • 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Set a side.

2. Place butter and sugar in the bottom of a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment. Cream the sugar into the butter until entirely incorporated.

3. Add the egg and vanilla extract to the electric mixer. Mix on high speed to combine until the mixture lightens and looks “whipped.” Add the peanut butter and mix to combine.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. Drizzle Nutella over the peanut butter cookie dough and fold it in with a spatula. Refrigerate the dough for at least fifteen minutes before forming balls with your hands. I used a fork to press my cookies down, a traditional method used with peanut butter cookies. You can also just use your palm, but it is important to flatten the batter onto the sheet to ensure even cooking.

6. Arrange cookies on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet (at least a 1/2 inch apart) and bake for 15-20 minutes or until they are slightly browned on the tops. If you prefer a harder cookie, let the cookies sit out, unwrapped for 24 hours. Otherwise, eat asap.

I Heart Cookies

As we all (both haters and not) know, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. So even if you think the holiday is lame sauce or plan to be a sourpuss all day in protest, you might still want to make some cookies. And you might want to decorate them with heart, if only to be ironic. Or, you might want to say “I love you” with a sugar cookie. Either way, you’ve come to the right place.

First, whip up a batch of these simple sugar cookies, which might look familiar.  While they cool, gather a whisk or set up an electric mixer with the whipping attachment to make the icing.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing

  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbs of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tbs light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or syrup
  • A few tablespoons of water (amount varies depending on the thickness you want)
  • Red food coloring

Preparation:

1. Whisk powdered sugar, butter, corn syrup and vanilla extract to combine. Slowly add water until the mixture comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to free any clinging powdered sugar. Continue whipping for a few minutes. You want to achieve a thick consistency that will hold shape after being piped onto a sheet tray. A good way to tell if your icing is thick enough is to let it sit for ten minutes and then press your finger lightly on the top. If a shell has started to form, it is the right consistency. If it sticks to your finger, add some powdered sugar and blend until smooth.

And with this icing, here’s how you make the “I Heart Cookies”.

1. Reserve half of the icing that you have made in a separate bowl and use it to ice the cookies first.

2. Add red food coloring, drop by drop, until you reach color that you like. I stopped once and reserved a cup or so of the pink color and then continued to add dye to make a darker red.

3. Locate a pastry bag, or a ziplock bag, or fold some wax paper (like this) to make one. I have a metal tip attachment, but if you don’t your hearts will be just as lovely. To fill, insert the tip of the bag into a cup and pull the ends down around the sides.

Use the side of the cup as resistance to scrape some of the icing off of your spatula and into the bag. Once you have a good squeezable amount in the bag, slowly squeeze and twist the icing towards the tip and cut it.

4. Practice on a sheet of parchment paper (or foil) by squeezing a few lines and, eventually, work your way up to a heart shape. I started with an outline that I then filled in with a few mimicking strokes. You want the heart to be thick and to hold its shape. If the icing does not, you will need to go back to the beginning and add more powdered sugar. And if you use all of the icing and end up with a mess, just scrape it back off the parchment and try again. There are many different techniques, so just have fun with it and figure out what works best for you.

5. Put the icing hearts into the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Once they are frozen into shape, use a thin spatula to scrape them from the parchment and place them in the center of each cookie.

Excellent Elephant Ears

This sugar coated puff pastry cookie may seem daunting at first (the puff pastry preparation is somewhat lengthy) but it’s totally worth the effort. Resist the urge to add cinnamon or another spice to the sugar, it might interrupt the delicate caramelized butter flavor.

All you need is this Instant Puff Pastry recipe (a truncated version of the traditional) and sugar. The puff pastry will yield four times more than you will need for the cookies, so good news, you’ll have plenty. You can either make a boatload of cookies, or freeze the dough for later use, which I recommend. Puff pastry dough is extremely versatile and easy to use once it has been prepared – I made Spinach, Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Turnovers with mine, but more on that later, it’s cookie o’clock.

Quick & Easy Puff Pastry (Recipe adapted from Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker)

  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4.5 sticks or 18 oz. cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup cold water
Elephant Ears
  • 1/4 recipe Quick & Easy Puff Pastry
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Tin foil or parchment paper to prevent sticking

Preparation (you will need a food processor):

1. Sift flour and salt together in a bowl. Place in bottom of food processor fitted with metal blade.

2. Cut butter into small chunks and add it to flour and salt. Pulse twice.

3. Remove cover and use a spatula to stir dry mix from the sides of the bowl. Cover and mix again until crumbs appear.

4. Add the cold water to the food processor and pulse again. Use the spatula to clean the sides of the bowl, refit metal blade and pulse again.

5. The dough will still look crumbly and unset, but it is important not to overmix. Invert the bowl on to a well floured surface and corral the dough into a rough rectangle with your hands.

Dust the dough with flour and press (don’t roll) it with a rolling pin to flatten.  Lift and turn the dough 90 degrees and press it again, re-flouring the bottom if it begins to stick.

6. Roll the dough into an 18 inch square and divide it in half to make two rectangles (about 9 x 18 inches each).

Roll one rectangle to make it 12 x 18 inches. Fold the left third of the dough over the middle third and the right third across over that.

Roll the dough into a tight package from one of the short ends then repeat the process with other half of the dough.

For the elephant ears, we will only need 1/4 of the recipe, so divide each roll in half and wrap all four chunks of dough tightly with saran wrap. Refrigerate a quarter of the dough for at least an hour and thirty minutes. (The remainder may stay refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen and defrosted for later use).

7. Sprinkle your work surface with about half of the sugar and press the dough into the sugar to soften it, turning it 90 degrees until the dough is soft enough to roll out. Making sure to keep both the dough and the work surface generously sugared, roll the dough into an 8 x 12 inch rectangle.

8. Trim the edges of the dough with a knife.

Fold the longer sides of the dough a little less than halfway (about 1.5 inches) towards the middle.Repeat with the opposite side until there is a half inch gap between the two folded pieces.

Fold each side over again so that the ends meet in the middle, being careful not to stretch the dough and break it.

Flatten the formed dough with the palm of your hand, cut it in half, and wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Scrape excess sugar into a bowl.

9. Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or tin foil. Remove dough from refrigerator and place it on a cutting board. Use a thin blade to slice the cookies into 1/2 inch slices.

Dip each slice in sugar before arranging it on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the rolled dough has been sliced, sugared, and arranged.

10. Bake the elephant ears until they have puffed and caramelized (about 10 – 15 minutes). Cool elephant ears before serving. Store in airtight container.

Blackberry Jam Sandwich Cookies

One for the jam lovers.

Blackberry Jam Sandwich Cookies

  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • zest of 1 lemon (to make good use of the grater I received for Christmas)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 jar seedless blackberry (or any other fruit) preserves

Preparation:

1. Mix butter and sugar in bottom of electric mixer and until creamed. Or, if you aren’t using an electric mixer, do so by hand.

2. Add egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently.

3. Slowly add flour and mix again on a low setting, scraping down the sides of the bowl once again when necessary.

4. Scrape dough out of the bowl and press it into the bottom of a pan until it is about 1/2 inch in thickness (I divided mine in half and did so in the bottom of a cake pan). Chill the dough, covered in saran wrap, for at least an hour.

5. Heat oven to 350 degrees. While the dough chills, reduce the jam by heating the it in a saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Once it comes to a boil, let it rest and thicken.

6. After an hour, take the dough out of the fridge and turn it out on a floured surface. Gently press the dough with a rolling pin to soften it and roll the dough to the desired thickness (I think mine turned out a little too thick, but who’s counting).

7. Use a reasonably sized glass (or cookie cutters, if you have them) to cut the dough into disks and lift them carefully onto a foil lined baking sheet, placing them at least an inch a part. I wanted a “window” effect for my cookies, so I used a small shot glass to cut out the center of half of the disks, but this is unnecessary (though it does look quite fancy). You can re-roll the scraps after they have been molded into a ball and chilled for another 10 minutes.

8. Bake the cookies until they reach a deeper golden color, about 15 – 20 minutes and let them cool completely.

9. Spoon about 1 Tbs jam on the base (the darker, flatter side) and spread it almost to the edge. Top with a second “window” cookie and gently press them together. Fill “windows” to the brim with extra jam, if you have any, after filling the rest of the cookies.

Classic Nut Biscotti

My father’s classic recipe for biscotti, taken from the Los Angeles Times Syndicate on Dec. 9th, 1992. Twenty years since the first printing of the recipe, I document my father’s production of the classic Howard holiday treat at home in Indianapolis.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of nuts (my father uses 1 cup of almonds and 1 cup of hazelnuts)
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 3 eggs plus 1 yolk
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 slightly beaten egg white

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spread nuts on baking sheet and allow to toast for about 8 minutes or until warm and fragrant. If using hazelnuts, use a towel to remove the outer skin of the nuts after the come out of the oven.

2. Set oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and mace.

3. Whisk eggs, egg yolk, and almond extract in bowl until frothy. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the egg mixture into the well. Stir from the center with a fork.

4. Once dough is firm, use hands to knead into a log. Stick nuts into dough between each turn.

Recruit an extra pair of hands, if necessary.

5. Split dough in half and form into a a strip about 12 inches long. Place on a greased and floured baking sheet. Before baking, use a pastry brush (or your fingers if you are brush-less) to coat top of dough with a beaten egg white. Repeat with second half of the dough.

6. Bake loaves at 375 until golden and firm to touch (about 25 to 30 minutes). Cool on wire rack (or wherever you can find some space) for at least an hour. Use a serrated knife to slice loaves into 1/2 inch slivers. Lay biscotti face down on baking sheets. Bake an additional 12 to 15 minutes, turning once or twice. Biscotti should be deep gold in color and dry to the touch.

Yield 4 dozen. Share with friends!

Deceptively Easy, Yet Deceptively Hard Double Chocolate Biscotti

Avoid the seasonal perishable treat overstock and give your loved ones a cookie that will keep on giving well into 2012. Guaranteed to please Dads, grads and anyone on your Christmas list who does not have a mouth full of expensive orthodonture.

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

(this recipe is doubled, but you get the idea)

Preparation:
0. Preheat oven to 350, line baking sheet with parchment paper.
1. Combine/sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in bowl. Set aside.
2. Cream softened butter and sugar in the bowl of electric mixer with the paddle attachment.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Add dry ingredients to mixer and combine on a low setting (4-5). Add walnuts and chocolate chips once dough has reached a consistent texture and is dark brown in color.
5. Scrape dough from mixing bowl and form a cylinder with your hands in the middle of the baking sheet.
6. Use a lightly floured rolling pin (or wine bottle, if your home kitchen is as poorly stocked as my own) to flatten the cylinder, starting in the middle of the dough. Slowly work the rolling pin down to the edges of the dough until it is about 3/4 inch in thickness (it will rise).
7. Bake giant flat brown thing for about 20 minutes at 350 or until the center resists when pressed lightly with a spoon. Let cool for at least 2 hours and, in the mean time, turn off your oven.
8. Reheat the oven to 250. Place cooled, oblong cookie on a cutting board and cut into 1/2 inch cookies with a bread knife or other serrated cutting tool. The ends will likely break off as you cut, which is to be expected as the edges will have cooked more quickly than the center of the cookie. It’s no secret biscotti are the less becoming of the cookie family but at least they’ve got some character.
9. Bake cookies for 20 minutes on each side. They will be dry and seem inedible, that’s the whole thing with biscotti. Store in an airtight container and enjoy with a warm beverage.

I’m Lazy Shortbread Cookies

Somewhere between an awkward craigslist roommate situation, securing a new job (baking! full time! with my own recipes!), and trying to move to an area where the neighborhood HEB takes itself seriously, I’ve failed to post. I’ve come back, however, to this blog, eager to settle in and share some things I’ve been learning…

A few week ago, when my boss asked what I was prepared to make as a wintertime themed baked good, I was still wearing shorts and arriving to work sweating. And I realized that it was almost December, that I really didn’t feel like adding another item to my production, and, most importantly, that I had gotten a little lazy.

You see, when I first started my job I would have licked the floors if they had asked me to. I was so excited to be offered the opportunity to bake all day long for money, I felt like I owed them something. The first few months I worked at the cafe I checked out library books, read up online at other baking blogs, and tried new recipes consistently at home and now I found myself wanting to tell my boss to stuff it at the mention of more work that I had to do.

And so, thinking mainly of what I could make with very little time and fuss, I suggested a shortbread cookie. Only three ingredients, shortbread is quick, easy and, consequently, insanely adaptable for different pars.

2 cups butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 4.5 cups flour

Start with the butter which should be soft (if not, throw your butter into the mixer for a few minutes, let it slowly warm up) and add the sugar. Let the butter and the sugar mix for a few minutes, scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. Repeat this as many times as you need to until the chunks of butter disappear and it no longer resembles the picture to the left.

Add the flour all at a time and eventually

from this

you get this:

Brilliant. And the dough is extremely forgiving, easy to roll out and holds its form during baking . Bonussss.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. I am going to try a rectangle shape to each cookie (about 3/4 inch thickness) so I rolled and cut my dough accordingly. Cookie cutters should also work nicely with this dough.

I used a toothpick to make three decorative holes in the dough before baking  (to add an individual touch without being too elaborate).

And baked them at 400 degrees for 12 minutes and yummmm.

They’re buttery and slightly sweet all on their own, but I’m thinking next time a little spice might do them good – cinnamon, rosemary, or (duh) chocolate.