“Apple Pie” Shortbread Cookies

Tender shortbread cookies filled with sweet apple pie filling may be a new fall tradition at your house. I’ve added these to my shortbread pie cookie collection, and I think this is (take a step back,“Chocolate Pie Shortbread Cookies”) now my very favorite variety.

Imagine biting into one of these and sinking your teeth into warm apple filling. It’s heavenly! Promise me you’ll try one before it’s cooled off entirely. Don’t get me wrong—they’re great the next day—but warm off the rack? Delightful.

Proper shortbread uses a lot of butter, so this is not an inexpensive or low- cal recipe, but when the cookie melts in your mouth you will forget cost, time, and calories. The cookies are that good. Oh, and speaking of time . . . these aren’t hard, but weaving the lattice tops takes a little patience. Plan on a few hours of baking bliss, or find a helper to make it go faster. Believe me, rushing through it just makes more work for you; the little strips of dough will sense your impatience and be less cooperative. Enjoy the process!

Hint: If you plan to make these for a special occasion like Thanksgiving, when you’ll be running around doing lots of last-minute things, make the cookies the week before and freeze them, assembled but unbaked. So easy that way, and if you’re serving right after the meal, they can go in when the rolls come out of the oven. (Make sure you set the timer; you know how crazy things get. Or is that just me?) They’ll still be warm when everyone is ready for dessert.

My husband, having a constant stream of goodies presented to him, has become a little hard to impress. His comment after eating one of these warm cookies? “This is so much more than a cookie!” We won’t discuss how many he ate.

I know this recipe looks daunting, but that’s because it’s hard to explain how to make the lattice tops. It’s just wordy. I’m sure you could figure it out (I’m embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to find the fastest method) but it’s all down in black and white for you!

Apples vary in juiciness, which is why I have you strain them so the amount of thickener is consistent. If you have leftover cooked juice, it’s wonderful in tea (or wine).

NOTE: Recipe was edited to change the size of the cookie cutters. (I need to learn to read a ruler correctly.) The large cutter was about 3 1/2 inches, and the small one was 3 inches. Even so, those are BIG cookies. Feel free to downsize.

"Apple Pie" Shortbread Cookies
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Makes 24 substantial cookies!
Ingredients
  • APPLE FILLING:
  • 4 cups chopped apple (about 3 large apples)
  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons apple cider, divided
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • COOKIE DOUGH:
  • 2 cups butter (4 sticks), room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider (may use milk)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup cinnamon sugar
Instructions
  1. FILLING: In a medium pan on medium heat, combine chopped apples, ¼ cup cider, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then cook at a low boil (reduce heat if necessary) for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Strain apples, reserving the liquid.
  3. In a small bowl or cup, combine 3 tablespoons cider with 3 tablespoons cornstarch. Stir well and set aside.
  4. Return apples to the pan, along with 1 cup of the reserved liquid. (add apple cider to reach 1 cup of liquid, if necessary.)
  5. Bring apple mixture back to a boil and stir in the cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir until thick - about 1 minute. Cool thoroughly.
  6. DOUGH: In a large bowl (this is a heavy dough, so a sturdy mixer and dough hook is recommended) combine softened butter and powdered sugar. Beat well.
  7. Add apple cider and egg yolks and beat until incorporated. (Reserve egg whites in small bowl.)
  8. Add flour, salt, and nutmeg. Beat just until combined. Add cornstarch and beat until thoroughly combined. Dough will be stiff.
  9. Heat oven to 350 F.
  10. Working with half of the dough at a time, roll out to ¼-inch thickness. (A little thinner is fine, but don't go thicker.) For best results, roll between lightly floured sheets of parchment. Choose two round cutters, one slightly smaller than the other. My large cutter was 3½ inches and my small one was 3 inches.Cut dough into strips the width of your big cutter, and then from the short side, cut those strips into smaller strips a little less than ½-inch thick. (Each small strip would be 4½-inches by about ½-inch.)
  11. Weave 6 pieces into lattice, leaving a little space between strips. (Lay one piece vertically, one horizontally, making a plus sign. Place two more vertical pieces, one on each side of vertical piece. Lift the top of the center piece and slide a strip under it horizontally, laying over the other two vertical pieces. Lift the bottom of the center piece and slide a strip under it horizontally, over the other two vertical pieces.)
  12. Press lattice firmly with the palm of your hand. Center the small cutter over the lattice and cut out a round. Hold it down firmly with one hand while you remove the scraps and place them in a pile. SCRAPS WILL BE USED TO MAKE THE COOKIE BOTTOMS LATER.
  13. With a thin spatula, move the cookie top to a piece of parchment or cutting board. Repeat until you have 24 lattice tops, using as much of the remaining dough in the bowl as necessary.
  14. Whisk together the reserved egg whites and 1 tablespoon water. Brush lightly over lattice tops and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  15. Gather all of the scraps and any remaining dough and roll out to a little less than ¼-inch thickness. Cut rounds with large cutter. Press around the edge of each with your finger to thin and enlarge the rounds slightly. Brush with egg white wash.
  16. Heap 1 level tablespoon of apple mixture in the center of each round (a small scoop works well) and cover with one lattice top. Press the edge of the lattice top down firmly, then use your finger to flute the edge of the bottom round up, pressing firmly into the lattice layer. Place 1 inch apart on parchment covered baking sheet.
  17. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until edges are beginning to brown. Move to a rack to cool.

 

 

Cook the filling.

Strain the cooked apples. Don’t throw that juice away!

Add the cornstarch mixture to the boiling apples. Once thickened, let it cool completely.

Are you ready to rock?
(No pics of mixing dough. That’s pretty basic stuff!)

Roll out dough between sheets of floured parchment.

Cut strips the width of your large cutter; then cut those pieces into smaller strips

These strips are almost 1/2-inch wide. You can also make skinnier strips and use 8 pieces for a more dainty lattice.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. Use a thin spatula to move each lattice onto filling.

Cut out bottom rounds. Press around edge to thin and enlarge slightly.

Brush bottom with egg wash. Heap a level tablespoon of filling in the center of each round. Add a lattice top and press firmly around the base

Use fingertip to flute edges . Press firmly against base of lattice top. (If you don’t press them together, the fluted edges may lay back down again as they bake!)

Going in the oven.

Enjoy!

Lorinda

 

Drunken Punkin Cookies

Soft pumpkin cookies filled with rum-soaked raisins, pecans, white chocolate morsels, and Buttershots-spiked cream cheese will keep you warm and cozy this fall. They’re even brushed with a thin boozy glaze hot out of the oven, and then again once the cookies have cooled. It’s hard to get enough alcohol in cookie dough without compromising the texture, so it took a variety of approaches to pull it off.

Buy the kids some Oreos; these babies are for you!

Drunken Punkin Cookies
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Makes 36
Ingredients
  • COOKIE DOUGH:
  • 1 cup raisins
  • ½ cup strong rum
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk (the extra white will be used in the cream cheese swirl)
  • ½ cup solid pack pumpkin
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (toast them for the best flavor)
  • CREAM CHEESE SWIRL:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 tablespoons Butterscotch liqueur (like Buttershots)
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • GLAZE:
  • 4 tablespoons alcohol (I used a mixture of rum and Buttershots)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Place raisins and ½ cup rum in a small pan. Bring to a simmer over med-low heat. Cover, reduce to low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let raisins sit for at least 30 minutes, or until lukewarm. They should be plump and rum should be reduced.
  2. Heat oven to 350 F. Cover baking sheets with parchment.
  3. COOKIE DOUGH: In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk. Beat well.
  4. Add raisins (with the reduced rum), pumpkin, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, pecans, and white chips. Mix until incorporated.
  5. CREAM CHEESE SWIRL: In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg white, butterscotch liqueur, flour, and baking powder until smooth.
  6. Add the cream cheese mixture to the dough and fold it in just 6-7 times, leaving big white streaks. Then pull your cookie scoop or spoon through, aiming for a mixture with more dough than swirl. I like to gather a little cream cheese first, then scoop through dough, which puts the pretty swirl on top of the cookie as it bakes.
  7. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed. While cookies are baking, make glaze:
  8. GLAZE: Whisk together the alcohol and powdered sugar until smooth. Brush it over hot cookies, then give them another light glaze once they've cooled.

Beat eggs into creamed butter and sugar, then dump in everything except cream cheese mixture

Beautiful dough! Great even without the cream cheese, but you’d be giving up the butterscotch liquor, which would be SO sad.

Fold in the cream cheese mixture. Go easy – you want to see big streaks of white!

Try to get both the cream cheese mixture and the pumpkin dough in one scoop.

Scoop and drop!

Bake on parchment covered baking sheets

Brush hot cookies with glaze, then give them another coat once they’ve cooled.

Cheers!

Lorinda

German Chocolate Cookies

Last month I posted a photo of a German chocolate cake I’d made for a friend’s birthday, and got lots of requests for the recipe. I meant to make it for you but got sidetracked by the thought of cookies instead. Soft cookies, similar to a cake brownie, topped with coconut-pecan filling inside a ring of chocolate ganache.

Disclaimer: These aren’t German cookies. There’s been a little confusion about that. They’re meant to look like German Chocolate Cake, which is actually a recipe that was created in the United States by a baker named Samuel German. So . . . just humor me and roll with it, ‘kay?

My husband, who obviously is treated to lots of goodies (and isn’t much of a German chocolate fan) says these may be his favorite cookie of all. That’s saying a lot!

The filling and ganache both have to sit for a couple of hours before assembly, so plan accordingly. The filling can be refrigerated for days, so you can always make it ahead if that’s easier for you. Just cover it and hide it well in the refrigerator; it’s yummy to eat by the spoonful. I know this for a fact.

The recipe for the filling was slightly adapted from one of my very favorite cookbooks, “The Village Baker’s Wife”, by Gayle and Joe Ortiz. They don’t take shortcuts. I sometimes do. In the past, since I seem to have a mental block about owning a double boiler, I’ve made it on the stove in a heavy pan without any problems. That’s how I wrote the recipe below, assuming I can’t be the only person who doesn’t own one of those pans. But just for grins I improvised and tried my own version, which worked very well. So if you want to err on the side of caution and go the double boiler route, try a heat-safe bowl over a big pot of boiling water.

I also took my filling’s temperature just to make sure that the cooking time was long enough to bring the eggs to a safe temperature, and it was perfect. You’re good to go.

German Chocolate Cookies
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Makes about 30 large cookies A cookie scoop is highly recommended for symmetrical cookies.
Ingredients
  • COOKIES:
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa
  • GANACHE:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt 85% so it wouldn't be too sweet)
  • FILLING:
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup (a half stick) butter, cut into several small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces sweetened flaked coconut (about 1 cup, firmly packed)
Instructions
  1. COOKIES: Place unsweetened chocolate and milk in a small pan. Cook on low heat, stirring frequently, until melted. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar thoroughly.
  3. Add eggs and beat until mixture is light and creamy, scraping the bowl often - 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder salt, and cocoa.
  5. Mix half of the dry ingredients into the batter. Scrape the bowl and add half of the milk/chocolate mixture. Beat until combined. Repeat. The dough will be soft and fluffy.
  6. Refrigerate for 60 minutes.
  7. Heat oven to 375 F.
  8. Using a large cookie scoop (mine holds a rounded tablespoon of dough), scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving 1½ inches between each ball of dough. Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Move baking sheet to a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to remain on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before sliding the parchment onto the rack. Cool completely.
  9. GANACHE: Place chopped chocolate into small bowl.
  10. Heat the whipping cream on medium-low in a small pan until bubbles appear around the edge of the pan. Remove the pan from the stove. Pour half of the cream over the chocolate and wait 5 minutes before gently stirring. Return the remaining cream to the stove, heat until bubbly again and pour over the chocolate mixture. Stir gently until smooth. Cover loosely and set aside, stirring occasionally. Ganache will be ready to pipe onto cookies when it is thick enough to hold a shape.
  11. FILLING: Stir whipping cream, sugar, and egg yolks together in a heavy medium-size pan. Add the butter and turn the heat to low. Stirring often, cook until butter is melted. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. The mixture should be slightly thick. Pour into a medium bowl, stir in vanilla, and set in a larger bowl of cold water to cool completely, stirring occasionally.
  12. Once cool, add pecans and coconut. Cover and place in the refrigerator until needed.
  13. When ganache is thick enough to pipe, place in a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Pipe a decorative ring on each cookie.
  14. Fill rings with filling. Serve, or refrigerate in an airtight container.

Chocolate and cream, and sifted dry ingredients, ready to be added to batter.

Add half of the sifted dry ingredients to the batter and mix well.

Then add half of the liquids. Mix and repeat!

Scoop chilled dough onto parchment, leaving plenty of room between cookies.

 

Baked, with nicely rounded tops.

Stir vanilla into cooked filling. Let it cool.

Add pecans and coconut

Good ingredients make good ganache!

Pipe a ring on each cookie, add filling, make a big pot of coffee, put your feet up, and enjoy!

Chocolate Shortbread Bird Nests

These crisp chocolate shortbread nests are filled with ganache and pretty blue eggs, a perfect treat to place by each plate on your Easter table.

You’ll be surprised by how easy and fun these are to make—a great project for the whole family. They’re a little fragile after they’ve been baked, so if your littles are . . . well . . . little, you may want to supervise the filling and egg placement. To make the process even easier, you can always use canned frosting instead of making ganache.

Chocolate Shortbread Bird Nests
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Makes about 4 dozen
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons coffee or milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • GANACHE:
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used mini-chips)
  • Small candy eggs
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl (a stand mixture is recommended) beat the butter, shortening, and powdered sugar together until creamy.
  2. Add egg yolk and coffee (or milk) and mix well.
  3. Add flour, cocoa powder, salt, and cornstarch. Beat well. Be patient - it may take a few minutes before the mixture comes together.
  4. Divide into two parts and chill for 1 hour.
  5. Heat oven to 350 F.
  6. Lightly spray mini cupcake pan with baking spray (an oil/flour mixture).
  7. On floured surface roll half of the dough out approximately ⅛-inch thick. To keep the cookies similar in size, cut out 3-inch rounds (or squares). Using a thin spatula or bench scraper, chop one piece into thin strips. Lift the strips into a cavity of prepared pan, loosely surrounding the sides. Leave a few stray pieces sticking out of the top. Place a scrap of dough into the bottom of the cup if needed and press gently. Repeat with all of the remaining dough.
  8. Bake approximately 8-9 minutes. Allow cookies to cool for several minutes, then gently lift each out of the pan and place on a cooling rack. Once cooled the cookies should be fairly crisp. If not, add another minute to the remaining cookies.
  9. GANACHE: Heat heavy cream until it's steamy. Remove from heat, add chocolate and let it sit for 3-4 minutes. Stir well.
  10. Add a dollop of ganache to the bottom of each nest and decorate with small candy eggs.

Chop fine strips to create nesting material.

Loosely arrange shortbread strips in prepared cups. Bake!

Hint: Once they’ve cooled a bit, try putting something lightweight but stiff (cardboard, a flexible cutting board, etc.) over the top and then flipping the whole works over. It’s easier than lifting each one out of the pan.

So simple. Even the ganache is easy to make. Hope you’ll try this!

Lorinda

King Cake Cookies

I’m still in King Cake mode, but this time I applied the concept to cookies, adding a little more spice to my favorite soft sugar cookies and gussying them up in Mardi Gras colors. How could anyone resist these?

I chose this cookie dough because it puffs up a bit, and I wanted the cookies to resemble little King Cakes. They’re not crunchy like Christmas cutouts, but they aren’t cake-like either. They’re somewhere in between.

Bake them, decorate them, and you’re done. Excuse me? Are you lifting an eyebrow at me? You must have hung around the blog for a while, because . . . yeah . . . I couldn’t resist ADDING A PRALINE FILLING!

The most exciting thing about this filling is its versatility. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking up all kinds of recipes I could use it in. The downside is I can’t keep pieces of it from falling in my mouth.

I’ll admit that making the praline filling, shaping it, and pressing the cookies together adds a lot more fussy time in the kitchen, so if you want to skip it I totally understand. The cookies are great without it, but the filling really does add a nice surprise, and it makes them bigger—about the size of a cake doughnut.

King Cake Cookies
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Makes about 30 filled cookies and 36-38 unfilled. Dough must be chilled; make sure to plan ahead!
Ingredients
  • COOKIES:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4¾ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda,
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • FILLING: (Optional)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1¼ cups finely chopped pecans (I like to use toasted pecans for more flavor)
  • GLAZE:
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ⅓ cup milk (Approximate. Adjust to preference.)
  • Colored sugar - gold, green, purple
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
  2. Sift flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg together into a medium bowl.
  3. Beginning with the dry ingredients and ending with the sour cream, add alternately - ⅓ of each at a time. Mix just until combined.
  4. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours (longer is fine).While dough chills (or at least 1 hour before you are ready to roll it out) make the praline mixture if you are making the filled version.
  5. FILLING: Lightly butter a piece of parchment (or use a silpat).
  6. In a medium pan over medium heat, bring brown sugar, butter, milk, corn syrup, and salt to a boil, stirring often, and cook for 2 minutes. Add pecans and cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  7. Pour onto buttered parchment or silpat and use a buttered spatula to spread filling into a 6½-inch by 12-inch rectangle. Use the spatula to make neat edges. The mixture is very easy to shape. Allow it to cool.
  8. Cut into thin strips 6½-inches long and form into circles a little smaller than the cookie cutter you plan to use. (It may be easier for you to cut the strips and wait to make the circles directly on the cookies.)
  9. Heat oven to 375 F. Place parchment on baking sheets.
  10. Working with ⅓ of the cookie dough at a time and keeping the rest refrigerated, roll out on floured surface. If you are making filled cookies, keep the dough no thicker than ¼-inch. If you are making unfilled cookies, roll the dough thicker - a generous ⅓-inch.
  11. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut circles as close to each other as possible. Cut the center out to create a ring, using the end of a large piping tip, a shot glass, or a bottle cap. Place all of the scraps together and set aside.
  12. Repeat with the remaining dough, then roll all of the scraps together at once and cut out cookies. These cookies won't be quite as light, but they will still be good!
  13. If you are filling the cookies, place a ring of praline on one cookie ring and cover with another. Press down gently to ease the top dough over the filling. Use your fingers to go around the cookie, pressing the two pieces of dough together on the outside and inside of the ring. The dough is very soft and will cooperate. Place at least 1-inch apart on prepared baking sheets.
  14. Bake one sheet of cookies at a time on the middle rack. Bake 10-11 minutes for unfilled cookies, 11-12 minutes for filled. Watch closely and don't overbake. The cookies shouldn't be brown on top, though the bottoms will be golden brown. Cool on racks.
  15. GLAZE: Place powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add vanilla and drizzle in the milk until you get an icing that is fairly thin and easy to spread.
  16. Work with just one cookie at a time, icing and sprinkling with colored sugar. Allow cookies to dry thoroughly before storing. Keep in an airtight container.

Cut out cookie rings.

Spread praline mixture on buttered parchment to cool.

Shape thin strips of praline into circles and place on ring. Top with a second ring.

Press firmly all the way around, smoothing out the seam as you go.

I tried making designs with limited success. It worked better with the rolled out scraps since those cookies don’t puff up as much.

To make sure the colored sugar sticks, ice and sugar one cookie at a time.

Add green, purple, and gold sugar.

Messy, yes, so if you have some kidlings who like to “help”, this is their chance.These don’t have to be perfect, just colorful and tasty.

If you make the filled version you may be able to stuff a little plastic baby in through the bottom. Good luck with that!

Lorinda

 

Chocolate and Tart Cherry Cookies

Easy. So easy! And with the combination of chocolate and tart dried cherries, these soft cookies are incredibly tasty, too. I used milk, dark, and white chocolate, but you can use whatever combination pleases you. The tart cherries add extra flavor and texture, making these cookies addictive little treats.

Leave them plain and you’re done, but if you want to gussy them up a bit, shake them in powdered sugar while they’re still slightly warm. Or brush the tops with a thin glaze. You can also roll (or pat) the dough out on a generously floured surface and cut out simple shapes. Of course, I used a heart cutter because what could possibly be more perfect for Valentine’s Day than chocolate and cherry cookies?

POWDERED:GLAZED:HEARTS:

Chocolate and Tart Cherry Cookies
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Makes about 3½ dozen cookies
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (more if desired) dried tart cherries
  • 1 heaping cup chocolate chips - a combination of milk, dark, and white is good
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375. Cover baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together for 2 minutes.
  3. Add eggs. Beat for 1 minute.
  4. Add sour cream and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  5. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until combined.
  6. Stir in cherries and chocolate.
  7. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet. (For rounder, smoother cookies you can roll dough into balls using floured hands)
  8. Bake 11-12 minutes. Remove from oven when bottoms are brown but the cookies are still light colored. Remove from baking sheet and cool on rack.
  9. Fun Options:These can be served plain or you can shake barely warm cookies in a bag of powdered sugar. You can also brush with a simple glaze made of powdered sugar and milk. For heart-shaped cookies, pat or roll dough a generous ½-inch thick on floured surface and lift to baking sheet with a thin spatula.

You won’t need step-by-step photos here, but I took a couple of random pictures for you.

Dried cherries. (I’m sure there are many more brands.) I love the mild Montmorency cherries.

Add cherries and chocolate chips to dough.

You can even cut this dough into shapes. Pat or roll it a little over 1/2-inch thick on a floured surface and cut with cookie or biscuit cutter.

That’s all there is! No tips needed, because these are so simple.

Make some for your Valentine!

Lorinda

Patriotic Meringue Puffs

Well, these are addictive little devils! Sweet little sugar puffs that melt in your mouth, all dressed up for the Fourth of July. Trust me, you won’t be able to stop at one.

I did something out of character and took the easy route with these treats. I’ve made meringues many times using egg whites, but I tried using Wilton’s meringue powder and it worked beautifully.

If you’re fresh out of meringue powder, I’d advise a trip to the store – pronto. And get some superfine sugar while you’re there. You don’t HAVE to use it, but it dissolves into the liquid a lot faster and I highly recommend it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Meringue Powder
  • Superfine sugar (aka: Baker’s sugar)
  • large pastry bag
  • large star tip
  • red and blue paste food coloring (or gel, if it’s thick)
  • Two paintbrushes
  • Parchment

I tried using my gel coloring but it didn’t stick to the bag at all. Maybe because it’s “squeezable” gel, so it’s thinner. Paste coloring worked fine.

This is seriously so easy. The hardest thing you’ll have to do is get the stripes of color inside the pastry bag. I’ll give you some pointers, but the important thing to remember is that even if your stripes are wonky, the meringues will still look great.

Patriotic Meringue Puffs
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Makes about 30 meringues (1½ inch) or hundreds of little bitty ones.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder (I use Wiltons)
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • a few drops of flavoring if desired (use clear colors: lemon, peppermint, cinnamon are all good.)
  • red and blue paste food coloring
Instructions
  1. PREPARATION: Drop large star tip into the pastry bag. Fold down the top third of the bag (making a cuff) and paint alternating stripes of red and blue up the inside of the bag, starting at the base of the star tip and working up. Don't make them too thick or too close together, or you'll end up with purple! (I used 3 stripes of each color.) Set bag aside.
  2. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment.
  3. MERINGUES: For best results, use a stand mixer (or a sturdy hand mixer and medium-sized bowl.) Heat oven to 250 F.
  4. Beat together the water and meringue powder until foamy.
  5. Add sugar very gradually, sprinkling it in a little at a time, scraping bowl occasionally.
  6. Beat until thick and shiny, about 5-7 minutes. Add flavoring if using and beat until incorporated.
  7. Place the prepared pastry bag inside a tall water glass. Carefully drop meringue into bag. Don't try to spread it, just drop it in there. Unfold the cuff of the bag and twist to close.
  8. Pipe meringues on prepared pan. Squeeze near the pan and pull up slowly, releasing pressure as you go. Aim for about 1½ inches at the base. The first few won't be very colorful, but they're still pretty. They won't spread and can be fairly close together. Small stars can be piped for decorations, but pipe them on a separate sheet; they'll take less time to bake.
  9. Bake large puffs for 25 minutes, (10 minutes for the tiny stars), then turn off oven (don't open the door!) and leave them for a couple of hours. If you have an oven that vents heat out when it's turned off, at the end of the bake time turn the heat down as low as it will go and let them bake for another 10 minutes before turning oven off.
  10. Store the meringues in an airtight container.

Slooooowly add sugar to water and meringue powder. Beat until very thick and shiny.

I place the cuff over my hand and very (very) carefully paint the lines. I was pretty generous here and had some vibrant colors. I used less on the second batch and they were still bright and pretty.

Here’s what it looks like before the meringue is added.

Place bag in glass for support. Carefully drop the meringue into the bag.

Piping the puffs

Tips:

  • Take your time when adding the sugar. Give it time to dissolve.
  • If you want to make the tiny stars (great for decorating cupcakes) hold the tip a little bit above the parchment and start squeezing as you push down and touch the sheet. Stop squeezing and pull up. You’ll get the hang of it!
  • To make both sizes, put the large puffs in the oven first. Let them bake for 15 minutes, then put the other sheet in too. Continue to bake for the remaining 10 minutes then turn off the oven without opening the door. Don’t peek – leave them to dry out for a couple of hours (or overnight). If you have an oven that vents the heat once it’s turned off, see the recipe for instructions.
  • Put a dot of meringue batter on the baking sheet under the parchment to hold it in place while piping.
  • If you want a little more white and a little less color in your meringues, just make 4 stripes instead of 6 inside the pastry bag.
  • Keep them dry, cool, and dark. In theory, they’ll last 2 weeks. I don’t think they’ll have that opportunity!

Here is the mini version:

Piped and ready for the oven.

Jazz up strawberry shortcake, cookies, cupcakes, or a bowl of ice cream. Or just pop them—one after another—in your mouth.

Have a sweet and safe 4th!

Lorinda

Faux Taco Cookies

Taco ’bout sweet! If you’re looking for something different for Cinco de Mayo, I’ve got you covered, because these “tacos” aren’t what they seem to be. A wafer cookie is filled with crushed chocolate sandwich cookies and frosting, then topped with fake cheese, lettuce, and sour cream. (And yes, I used canned frosting. Even I am not nutty enough to make a batch of homemade frosting for just two-thirds of a cup.)

I used orange candy melts for the cheese, spreading it very thinly on a Silpat, then scraping it up with a knife. I used green melts for the lettuce, though green coconut would have been an easy alternative.

If I hadn’t chosen peanut butter-filled Oreos for the filling, I’d have added some maraschino cherries or even chopped red licorice for “tomatoes”, but neither sounded like a good match with peanut butter. Meh. Maybe next time I’ll use the cookies with the plain white filling.

A dollop of marshmallow fluff was perfect for sour cream.

The taco shells were easy but took a while since I could only bake two at a time without making a mess of things. But the recipe only makes 14 or so, and they bake for 6 minutes, so it’s not that crazy. Right? Right? Oh, c’mon, humor me.

Making cookie taco shells

I tried a couple of different methods and the easiest way to make the taco shells was with a stencil. I cut a four-inch circle out of cardstock, placed the stencil on a Silpat sheet (you can use parchment if you prefer) and spread the batter on with a metal spatula. They came out very uniform this way. They’re soft when they first come out of the oven and must be shaped right away. You’ll have to move quickly and drape them over a dowel or spoon handle.

Shaping the shells. They harden quickly!

Tip: if the shells get hard before you manage to drape them over the spoon handle, pop them back in the oven for a few seconds. As long as they weren’t overbaked, this should soften them up. Now move FAST!

Faux Taco Cookies
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Author:
Make approximately 14 faux tacos.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ cup superfine sugar (Baker's sugar)
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (or thick Bulgarian style buttermilk)
  • yellow/orange food coloring (optional)
  • ⅓ cup chocolate chips
  • 15 sandwich cookies (I used peanut butter-filled), crushed
  • ⅔ cup chocolate frosting
  • Toppings: orange candy melts, green candy melts (or green coconut), marshmallow fluff
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 F. and cover two baking sheets with Silpats (or parchment, if preferred).
  2. Melt butter. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a medium bowl beat egg whites and sugar together until foamy.
  4. Add flour and cream (or buttermilk) and beat until smooth.
  5. Add butter. Beat on low until mixed.
  6. Add yellow and orange food coloring, if desired, to make the shells the color of a corn tortilla.
  7. Spread batter in 4-inch circles on Silpat sheets, leaving at least 1 inch between circles. The easiest way to do this is to make a simple stencil. Cut a 4-inch circle in the middle of a piece of cardstock. Lay the stencil on Silpat and spread 1 tablespoon of batter with a flat spatula. Lift stencil carefully and repeat.
  8. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove pan, carefully flip over with a flat spatula. Bake 1 additional minute, or until the cookies are beginning to brown. Immediately drape over a dowel or spoon handle (suspended between two cups or bowls) while you are baking the next sheet of cookies. Repeat.
  9. Melt the chocolate chips and brush a thin coat on the inside of each shell, coming half-way up the sides.
  10. Combine crushed cookies and frosting. Divide between each taco, crumbling to resemble meat filling.
  11. "Cheese" can be made by melting ½ cup of orange candy melts and spreading very thinly on Silpat. Once it's firm, run the tip of a table knife along the candy to create shreds.
  12. "Lettuce" can be made by melting ½ cup of green candy melts and spreading very thinly on Silpat. Once it's firm, run a fork along the candy to create thin shreds. (Or use green shredded coconut if desired.)
  13. Sprinkle orange and green toppings on tacos and top with a dollop of marshmallow fluff to resemble sour cream.
  14. Keep lightly covered until ready to serve.

Add the cream and flour to the egg/sugar mixture.

Brush a thin layer of chocolate on the inside of each shell, halfway up the sides. This will keep the “meat” mixture from making the shell soggy.

Crumble the cookie mix into the shells.

Why yes, I AM using a putty knife to spread the candy melts. A bench scraper works well too!

Scrape the candy with a knife tip to create “grated cheese”.

Or, for smaller shreds, use a large serrated blade.

Use a fork to make finely shredded “lettuce”.

Transfer the candy to the taco with the fork. Your fingers would melt it immediately!

See? Not too hard! And how fun would it be to serve these at your Cinco de Mayo celebration?

They’re messy to eat—there’s no denying that. They remind me of those nasty dry shells that come in a box (except, these taste good and melt in your mouth) because filling tends to fall out as you’re eating. Serve these cookies with napkins or plates and have your camera handy. People will just love being tagged in photos while they’re eating these!

Have a great Cinco de Mayo.

Lorinda

 

 

 

 

 

“My Wild Irish Rose” Cookies

May I give you one more boozy recipe for St. Patrick’s Day? My next post will be family-friendly, but I’m still on a Jameson whiskey roll and had a lot of fun creating these crunchy mint cookies. They have a layer of dark chocolate on the bottom and each cookie sports a Jameson-spiked ganache rose on top.

I vividly remember pounding out “My Wild Irish Rose” on the piano in the living room, singing along with neither grace nor talent. Fifty years later the song comes back to haunt me, as it does each March, along with other traditional Irish songs like “Danny Boy”, “That’s an Irish Lullaby”,  “When Irish Eyes are Smiling”, and “I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen”, though I read recently that this was actually written by a German composer. Oh, and that annoying unicorn song, but I am NOT getting that stuck in my head!

I love The Irish Tenors, and good old Bing crooned his way through some Irish ballads, but when I think of some of these songs it always takes me back to Joe Feeney on The Lawrence Welk Show. He wasn’t one of my favorites, but he sure had the perfect voice for Irish songs. (Grandma made me watch it, honest!)

Now, see? I gave you some nice ideas for tunes to hum while you’re making ganache roses.

The cookies are a slam-dunk. Very easy. If painting their little bottoms with dark chocolate and piping ganache roses makes you grind your teeth, you could take the easy way out and just pour a little bit of melted chocolate into the wells in the center. Or add mini chocolate chips to the dough. They wouldn’t be ROSE cookies, of course, but they’d still be tasty. And of course, you can make them without booze – just use cream instead.

Oh, and if you don’t (gasp!) have a shamrock cookie cutter, you can roll three balls of dough (a teaspoon each), add a stem, and press in the middle to create a shamrock. Flatten the petals down slightly. I learned the hard way that the cookies won’t get nice and crunchy if they’re too thick.

If you’re going for the gusto, here’s your recipe:

"My Wild Irish Rose" Cookies
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Author:
Makes approximately 18 large (3½-inch) shamrock cookies. These are baked at a low temperature so they don't brown, but get baked through for a nice crunch. If you prefer, you can use a total of ⅔ cup cream and skip the alcohol!
Ingredients
  • GANACHE:
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (chips are okay)
  • ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ⅓ cup whiskey (I used Jameson) You may skip the alcohol and substitute cream if desired.
  • ........
  • COOKIES:
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • green food coloring
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate (chips are okay)
Instructions
  1. GANACHE: In a small saucepan on the lowest temperature, melt the chocolate, stirring often. Heat the cream until it's hot but not boiling, and add to the chocolate. Stir until combined. Remove from heat and gradually add the whiskey, stirring constantly until smooth. Cover lightly with a paper towel and set aside, stirring now and then, until the mixture is thick enough for piping. (This might take 2-3 hours, depending on the temperature of the room.) The ganache should resemble thick buttercream icing. Scoop up a spoon to test it; it shouldn't fall off the spoon when turned upside down.
  2. Spoon into a pastry bag fitted with a rose tip. Put a little icing on a rose nail (or I've used a flat meat thermometer in a pinch) and put a small piece of waxed paper or parchment on the nail. Pipe the rose just as you would with icing. (If the ganache gets too soft, allow it to cool off BRIEFLY in the fridge.) There are lots of tutorials on the Internet if you have never done this. Don't make the roses too big! Leave the paper under each rose and place them on a baking sheet. Refrigerate or freeze.
  3. COOKIES:
  4. Heat oven to 325 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  5. In a large bowl (a stand mixer is recommended) beat the butter until creamy.
  6. Add the powdered sugar and beat well.
  7. Add the egg, peppermint extract, and food coloring (make it a little darker than you want because it will lighten when the flour is added) and beat until completely mixed.
  8. Add cornstarch, salt, and flour. This is a stiff dough - you will want to use a dough hook if you have one, or be prepared to finish stirring by hand.
  9. Roll dough out between lightly dusted sheets of parchment. It should be fairly thick - between ¼-inch and ⅓-inch. Cut with a shamrock cookie cutter and place on prepared baking sheets. With your thumb, press in the center of each cookie.
  10. Bake for approximately 15-17 minutes, or until just the bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from oven and press the centers again, using your thumb (or a rounded measuring spoon, tart tamper, or the handle of your rolling pin) to redefine the well in the middle of the cookie. Move to a rack to cool completely.
  11. Melt the 6 ounces of chocolate, either in a pan at lowest heat or in a bowl in the microwave at 15-second intervals. Stir well and, using a pastry brush, brush the bottom of each cookie and place chocolate-side-down on parchment, pressing gently to distribute the chocolate evenly. Refrigerate to quickly set the chocolate.
  12. Place a dab of chocolate in each cavity and add a rose, pressing gently to secure it.

Start with the ganache:

Stir hot cream into melted chocolate.

Gradually add whiskey, stirring constantly.

Use a rose tip to pipe ganache roses.

Make the dough, then roll out between pieces of parchment.

The dough should be nice and thick – between 1/4-inch and 1/3-inch.

Press firmly in the center of the cookie with your thumb, or . . .

Use your weapon of choice: thumb, measuring spoon, tart tampers, rolling pin handle.

Once baked, the holes will have mostly filled back in. Press down again while the cookies are hot. (The first time keeps the cookies from cracking around the cavity.)

Brush the bottoms with a thin layer of dark chocolate.

Press gently onto parchment, wiggling slightly to distribute chocolate evenly. Chill.

Use a dab of the melted chocolate to nestle each rose in its place. Dance a jig!

They’re as tasty as they are pretty; just the right amount of mint. And don’t forget, if you’d like to save a step, add some mini-chips to the batter and skip the chocolate bottoms. Or, hey, if you’re like me and there can never be enough chocolate, do both!

 

My wild Irish Rose, the sweetest flower that grows.
You may search everywhere, but none can compare with my wild Irish Rose.
My wild Irish Rose, the dearest flower that grows,
And some day for my sake, she may let me take the bloom from my wild Irish Rose.

Enjoy!
Lorinda

 

 

 

Candy Corn Brownies

Hoo-boy! This is over the top–even for me. I hesitated and dithered about adding this to my blog because I didn’t know if anyone would actually want to go to this much work for a candy-coated brownie, but my trusted friend Mary assured me that the description of my struggles would be interesting, at least. We’ll see about that.

You know the drill. First I tell you about all the steps I used, then I let you off the hook with easy alternatives. Yes, yes, I’m going to do that again. But first, I want to mention that maybe it just seemed like this was an insanely big production. It took me a couple of days, but that’s because I had to adjust my brownie recipe so that it would bake as evenly as possible. No big, tall, crunchy sides and sunken center for this baby. And then I decided (no wine was involved, I promise) that it would save time if I coated one side with orange candy melts, thinking I could then just cut and dip in yellow and white. Um. I have issues with spacial concepts – can’t imagine how something will work unless I actually try it.

Nope. Learn from my mistakes, and don’t try to create a shortcut. Resign yourself to a lot of messy dipping!

It didn’t. There were still sides that would need orange coating, and I just used up all of my orange melts. Pffft. Luckily I had an extra bag of white melts, so naturally, I added red food coloring to my bag of yellow melts to make orange, and then colored the extra bag of white melts yellow. Why didn’t I just color the white melts orange? There was a reason, but I can’t remember. I’m old.

I also played with the icing, trying to incorporate melted candy corn. It.Did.Not.Work. That stuff is like taffy. (And as an aside, if you see the recipe that insists you can make homemade Butterfingers with candy corn, don’t believe it for a minute. You will get yummy chewy peanut butter taffy. I know.) So I finally gave up and used buttercream.

Maybe, maybe if I made them again, knowing what I know now, it wouldn’t seem overwhelming. But that ship has sailed, and I’m moving on. Give this a try if you’re bored and want a challenge . . . and if you enjoy washing lots of dishes.

If I were to make them again, I might make them smaller, too. They’d be easier to dip.

And if you decide to:

  • use a boxed brownie mix
  • use canned frosting
  • dip only half of them and eat the rest plain

. . . I will completely understand. And bravo for trying! Please send me photos, okay?

Candy Corn Brownies
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Author:
Brownies, decorated to look like candy corn. They're iced and dipped in three colors of candy melts. Add chopped candy corn to the brownie batter if that isn't enough sugar for you! Makes about 27.
Ingredients
  • BROWNIES:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup cocoa (I combine regular and extra dark for a richer color)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped candy corn (optional)
  • ICING:
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • COATING:
  • You will need approximately 18 ounces orange candy melts, 12 ounces yellow candy melts, and 8 ounces white candy melts. This may vary, depending on your dipping style!
  • Shortening or coconut oil to thin chocolate for dipping.
Instructions
  1. BROWNIES: Heat oven to 325 F. Generously grease and flour (or spray with an oil/flour baking spray) a 13x9-inch baking pan. Hint: you may want to lay a piece of foil or parchment across the bottom, extending up the sides to make it easier to lift brownies out.
  2. In a large pot on low heat, melt butter. Remove from heat and add sugar, stirring well. Allow mixture to cool until lukewarm.
  3. Stir in eggs, one at a time, mixing well.
  4. Combine cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture, along with candy corn (if using). Stir gently, just until blended. Do not over stir! Spread evenly in pan, smoothing the top as much as possible. An offset spatula or dough scraper works well for this.
  5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center.
  6. Cool completely in pan on rack. Once cool, remove from pan.
  7. ICING: In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and powdered sugar. Add milk and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  8. ASSEMBLE: Cut off any rough edges. Flip the brownies over and spread icing over the bottom side of the brownies (it's the smoothest) as evenly as possible. With long edge towards you, divide the brownies into three long strips, approximately 3 inches tall. (If you had to cut off much of the edges, they may be a little shorter than that.) Mark the bottom of each strip every two inches, then mark the top of the strip beginning with 1 inch and then every two inches. Cut from the bottom left corner to the 1-inch mark, then from the 1-inch mark down to the 2-inch mark on the bottom, creating a candy corn shape. You can be precise, or you can wing it from there.
  9. Set each candy corn shape on a large baking sheet and place in freezer for at least 2 hours. As you work with the brownies, dipping them in candy melts, keep them frozen, only removing part of them from the freezer at a time.
  10. Place orange candy melts in a small microwave-safe bowls or mug, adding about 1½ teaspoon shortening or coconut oil. Microwave, stirring every 15 seconds. Stop before completely melted; the hot bowl will finish melting the candy. Stir until smooth. As you're working with the candy, heat it for a few seconds if the mixture thickens. Thin candy is much easier to work with. Alternatively, you can keep the bowl of melted candy in a pan of hot water as you work - just be careful not to get any water into the candy.
  11. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment.
  12. Holding onto the wide end of each brownie, dip the pointed end about ⅔ of the way into orange candy. Place on parchment to harden. When all of the brownies have been dipped in orange, return to the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  13. Heat yellow candy melts, adding 1 teaspoon shortening or coconut oil. Holding pointed end, dip wide end of each brownie into yellow candy, bringing it up to meet the orange candy. Don't leave any brownie showing! Once all have been dipped in yellow, return to the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
  14. Heat white candy melts, using ½ teaspoon shortening or coconut oil. Dip the tip of each brownie in the white. Allow coating to harden. These can be kept at room temperature for 2-3 days, or refrigerated if you prefer. They freeze very well too!

Combine melted butter and sugar well. Allow it to cool a bit.

Stir in eggs, one at a time.

Add dry ingredients

. . . and the candy corn, if you’re using it.

Spread evenly in prepared pan and bake.

A 3×5 index card might help with cutting those triangles.

Ice the smooth bottom side of the brownies, cut into 3 strips and cut out triangles.

Place pieces on parchment covered pan and freeze

Dip frozen brownies in orange candy melts. Pop back in freezer briefly.

Dip the other end into yellow melts until it meets the orange.

Dip the tip in white

See, wasn’t that easy? Hello? Hello?

Wait! I actually have another idea that would be good for Halloween or Thanksgiving, and it’s easier, though it still involves dipping. It even (GASP!) uses store-bought cookies. If these Candy Corn Brownies make your eyes roll back in your head, just stay with me, because the next post might be right up your alley.

Lorinda