Tag Archive for Cookies

The ultimate vanilla cookie

I don’t bake cookies a lot. I have a few success recipes (mainly my whole grain chocolate chip cookie, that also works great without chocolate, or with dried cranberries/other dried fruit/nuts instead of chocolate) but that’s it. My sugar cookie recipe works great for cookies that have prettiness as first requirement, and for which taste is not as important. The sugar cookies taste okay, but they are quite hard and sweet (which makes them hold their shape well and stay fresh after icing quite long). But in this case I wanted something that would be mainly tasty, but still suitable to decorate a little. So when I was asked to make some decorated cookies for a party, I decided to have an experiment with several simple, but tasty cookie recipes. I cut them in squares to be able to make a lot of cookies without having to re-roll tons of scraps, and used ready made icing pens for some minor decoration.

Surprisingly, there were only small differences between the results of the cookie recipes that I chose, I could not name one the ultimate vanilla cookie, although if I had to choose, I would choose the second or third recipe. All doughs are quite easy to work with, they all barely spread in the oven and all cookies were very tasty. I will add some remarks to each of the recipes below. Important for all cookie recipes is not to work the dough too much, as this will make the cookies tough. It is easiest to roll the dough between two sheets of baking paper, so you don’t have to add any extra flour and the dough will not stick to the counter top.

Biscuits (about 20)
Slightly adapted from BBC Good Food February 2013

I would chill this dough a little longer to make sure it is easy to work with. They are very smooth and even coloured after baking, they have a very fine crumb and have a slightly dusty aftertaste (all caused by the use of icing sugar).

175 g flour
100 g butter, in cubes, cold
85 g icing sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water

Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the icing sugar, vanilla sugar and salt and mix with a fork. Add the egg yolk and water, and mix in with a fork until it is crumbly. Kneed it through with your hands a few time until it forms a coherent ball. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Roll out the dough to 3 mm thickness and cut into squares or rectangles. Place the cookies on the baking sheet, and place it in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes or until the cookies are pale golden. Carefully take them off the baking sheet with a palette knife and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Galettes (about 15)
Slightly adapted from Cuisine de Mamie Nr 2

Quite a stiff dough, which makes it a little difficult to roll out. They are a little bobbly and uneven coloured after baking. Has a coarse texture, is quite crunchy and has lots of flavour.

160 g flour
60 g sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
1 egg yolk
90 g butter, in cubes, cold
pinch of salt

Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the sugar, vanilla sugar and salt and mix with a fork. Add the egg yolk and mix in with a fork until it is crumbly. Kneed it through with your hands a few time until it forms a coherent ball. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 150C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Roll out the dough to 3 mm thickness and cut into squares or rectangles. Place the cookies on the baking sheet, and place it in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cookies are pale golden. Carefully take them off the baking sheet with a palette knife and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Grandmothers butter cookies (about 20)
Slightly adapted from Kochen und Geniessen – Das Grosse Backbuch

Quite a stiff dough, which makes it a little difficult to roll out, but gets sticky quite soon when working with the dough. They are a little bobbly and uneven coloured after baking. Has a medium texture, is quite crunchy and has lots of flavour.

150 g flour
50 g sugar
1 package vanilla sugar
pinch of salt
100 g butter, in cubes, cold
1/2 egg

Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the sugar, vanilla sugar and salt and mix with a fork. Add the egg and mix in with a fork until it is crumbly. Kneed it through with your hands a few time until it forms a coherent ball. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Roll out the dough to 5 mm thickness and cut into squares or rectangles. Place the cookies on the baking sheet, and place it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies are pale golden. Carefully take them off the baking sheet with a palette knife and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Fork biscuits (16 cookies)
Slightly adapted from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible

You don’t have the fuss of rolling out, cutting and transferring, but it can be quite hard to get 16 even portions without weighing them all. Also, by flattening them with a fork (or your thumb) they tend to get a slightly uneven shape. They rise slightly. After baking they have a very even colour and have a nice, crumbly texture.

100 g softened butter
50 g sugar
150 g self-raising flour

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together (with a hand mixer or a wooden spoon). Gradually mix in the flour. Knead by hand to bring the mixture together. Form the dough into 16 balls and place on the baking tray. Use a fork or your thumb to flatten the cookies.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until a pale golden. Lift of the baking tray and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Double Chocolate Biscotti

Again an originally Italian pastry, and again it doesn’t really resemble the original. Real biscotti (also called cantucci/cantuccini) are almost rock-hard cookies (because they are twice baked) and have to be dunked in something (coffee, liqueur) to make them edible. That is not really my cup of tea, although I do like the shape and flavour of them. That is why I used this recipe, which makes a slightly softer variety of biscotti (because of the added butter). The trade-off is that these biscotti will get stale after a few days, while the real biscotti can be kept for weeks (airtight stored).

Chocolate Biscotti

Double chocolate biscotti (18 cookies)

60 g dark chocolate
60 g butter
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
100 g chocolate chips or a chopped up chocolate bar (milk or dark)

Preheat the oven to 175C. Melt the chocolate and the butter. Add the egg, sugar and vanilla extract, mix for 2 minutes. Fold in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, it should be a barely mixed, soft but not sticky dough. Fold the chocolate chips through. Cover a baking tray with baking paper. Dump the dough on top and form it into a log of 9 x 23 cm. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Leave to cool slightly, then slice in 1.5 cm slices. Reduce the oven temperature to 135C. Bake the slices 20 minutes on one side, then turn over and bake 20 minutes on the other side. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Serve immediately when cold, or store airtight.

Apple Crostata

Originally a crostata is an Italian tart, but after some googling I found out that these crostata’s aren’t the real thing… the Americans had their way with this term, and this recipe is indeed more like an American crostata than like an Italian one. The same thing happened to the French galette; in the American interpretation both are a free-form rustic tart. You can fill them with virtually anything you like, fruit, jam, but also dulce de leche, frangipane, pastry cream or nutella, and savoury options also can be very delicious (try this ricotta and courgette version).

I went with an apple filling, because I made these as a spin on Dutch apple pie, that is also why the individual tarts are reasonably large (the average piece of apple pie is quite substantial). They tend to collapse during baking, which makes them not the prettiest of pastries gives them a rustic look, but they compensate that in their deliciousness. The magic of this pastry dough lies in two important factors: everything should be cold, very cold; and the dough should be barely worked, just kneaded enough to incorporate all the ingredients. Then you will end up with beautiful, almost layered, crisp and flaky pastry. This is not easy when you’re not experienced in making doughs like this, so if you mess up, just try again (the messed up tarts still taste delicious).

Apple Crostata (4 individual tarts)

Dough
150 gram flour
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
115 gram butter, in small cubes, cold
few drops of vanilla extract
60 ml water, (ice)cold

Filling
2 small apples, peeled, cored and cubed
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of cinnamon

To finish
Splash of milk or a little beaten egg

Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter. Rub the butter into the flour (flatten a cube of butter between your fingers, drop it into the flour, grab it again between your fingers and rub to mix it with the flour). Mix the water and the vanilla extract (this makes sure that the vanilla extract gets evenly distributed through the dough). Add this to the butter-flour mixture and use a spatula to mix until a barely coherent dough forms. Knead a few times with cool hands (if they are hot, rinse them with cold water before kneading) until it forms a ball. Flatten it into a disk, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for one hour.
Mix the apple cubes with the sugar and cinnamon for the filling. Preheat the oven at 190C. Cover a baking tray with baking paper.
Cut the dough in 4. Place 3 of the pieces back in the fridge. Roll the 4th with a rolling pin into a rough circle of 3 mm thickness. Place a quarter of the filling in the middle of the dough circle. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling, press the overlapping pieces so that they stick to each other. Place on the prepared baking tray. Do the same with the other 3 pieces of dough.
Brush the top of the tarts (only the dough) with some milk or beaten egg. Place the baking tray in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes. The dough on top will be brown when the they are ready. Leave the crostata’s to cool on a wire rack before serving (this prevents a soggy bottom).

Note: if you make a larger batch, don’t try to fit more than 5 on a (half sheet) baking tray. Otherwise they will collapse into each other, which makes them even less pretty and also makes it harder to cook them evenly.

Millionaires’ Shortbread

This shortbread is a very delicious and indulgent treat. The three different textures are the key in these bars: the crumbly, crunchy, buttery shortbread base, the gooey sweet caramel in the middle, and the contrasting chocolate on top. They will be a big hit wherever you take them to, so make a big batch!

Millionaire's Shortbread

Millionaires’ Shortbread (24 squares)
From Mary Berry’s Baking Bible

Shortbread
250 g flour
75 g sugar
175 g butter

Caramel
100 g butter
100 g brown sugar
two 397 g cans sweetened condensed milk

Topping
200 g plain or milk chocolate (I like plain because the caramel is already very sweet)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 33×23 cm baking tin.
To make the shortbread, mix the flour and caster sugar in a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Knead the mixture together until it forms a dough, then press it into the base of the prepared tin. Prick the shortbread lightly with a fork and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch and very lightly browned. Cool on a rack in the tin.

To make the caramel, place the butter, sugar and condensed milk into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time, then reduce the heat and simmer very gently, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened slightly (it will get a very pale caramelly colour). It is important to stir the caramel mixture continuously – if you leave it for even a second it will catch on the bottom of the pan and burn (using a non-stick pan is advised). Pour over the shortbread and leave to cool.

To make the topping, break the chocolate into pieces and melt gently in a bowl set over a pan of hot water, stirring occasionally. Pour over the cold caramel and leave to set. Cut into squares or bars.

Easter decorated cookies

Yeah, I know, Easter is already quite some time ago….The last weeks I have been incredibly busy, I did not have the time to update my blog much.

I have not made much decorated cookies in the past, but when I see them online I always like them a lot. So when I found spring-themed cookie cutters with discount in my local supermarket, I decided to give it a try. I used the sugar cookie and royal icing recipes that I posted before. These cookies are perfect for decorating because they don’t get soft very fast, so it is not a problem that they lay uncovered when the icing is drying.
When decorating cookies, it is important that they are completely cool, otherwise the icing will melt. You pipe the outlines and let these dry for a few hours. Then you can flood them to cover the whole cookie. Leave the cookies overnight to dry completely, before decorating further. When finished, leave the cookies to dry again for at least 12 hours. And treat them gently, it is quite easy to damage the icing even if it is dry. The consistency of the icing is also important, both too thick and too thin icing will not make nice lines. Icing that is used for making lines needs to be slightly thicker than flooding icing.

Easter Cookies

For decorating I use icing bags folded from baking paper. They are nice and small and you can throw them away after using (my icing bags always end up like a sticky mess).
Start with a square of baking paper. Fold it in half and cut through the fold, so you get 2 triangles. Take one of the triangles and fold it in quarters, unfold it again. Then fold it again side for side, to form a piping bag. At the top you will have some excess paper, fold this into the piping bag, this helps to keep all the icing in. Scoop icing in, fold over the top to lock the icing inside and snip the tip. Instead of a normal piping bag, that you keep in your hand and is twisted at the top, this one is hold by the fingers and is folded over at the top. I made a small picture to illustrate, I hope it makes the process less complicated.

Piping Bag

Whole grain chocolate chip cookies

These are the best chocolate cookies ever! They have very healthy ingredients, but don’t taste healthy at all. They taste like very, very nice chocolate cookies. And the best thing: do you know the feeling that you get when you eat to much cookies? That stuffed, slightly dizzy and nauseated feeling? And still be hungry/get hungry again after half an hour? Not with this cookie. They are very satisfying to eat, fill you up nicely and you will stay full for quite some time. No feeling of guilt after eating cookies any more, because this is about as healthy as you can get for healthy, tasty indulgence!
The cookies are best if you rest the batter as long as you can, at least 1 hour and up to 24. In this way the flavours can work in to each other and the moisture can be absorbed by the grains. But if you are short on time or just impatient, you can also bake them immediately, they still taste very good. The original recipe suggests to bake them ever so slightly underdone, so that they are nice and chewy. I prefer to bake them a little longer, so that they are nice and crisp. It just depends on whether you like chewy or crisp cookies.
The cookies store quite well in an airtight container. I found that the longer baked cookies were nicer the next day than the shorter baked ones, but again I think it depends on what you like. So try it out for yourself!

Chocolate Cookies

Whole grain chocolate chip cookies (9-12 cookies, depending on size)
Slightly adapted from Cookie and Kate

1 1/6 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon and/or vanilla
75 gram butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup raw sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup rolled oats
135 gram chocolate chips (I use a mix of chopped dark and milk chocolate bars, if you want to be really healthy use the darkest chocolate you can get/like)

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon/vanilla in a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with the two sugars. Mix in the egg and scoop the dry ingredients from the other bowl trough. Take care not to overwork! It will be a very stiff dough. Then mix in the oats and chocolate. Cover and leave to rest (put it in the fridge if you leave it for a longer period).
Preheat the oven at 190C. Line a baking tray with baking paper (or a silicon mat). Scoop generous tablespoons of the batter on, and flatten them a bit. They will spread, so don’t put them to close to each other. I find that the amount of dough that this recipe makes produces 9-12 cookies (depends on how generous your tablespoons are) and that they will fit precisely on 1 baking tray.
Bake the cookies for 12-16 minutes (time depends on your oven and the amount of chew/crisp you like). Leave them rest on the baking tray for 5-10 minutes to firm up, then transport to a rack to cool further. This is really important! If you try to take them from the baking tray immediately, they will fall apart. And if you don’t let them cool on a rack (or something else that lets the air circulate around) the bottom of the cookies will be very soggy.
Eat when cooled.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

A good recipe for tart bases and cookies, that is not to sweet. You can freeze this dough very well. Keep a log in the freezer to cut 3 mm cookies from for unexpected visitors (or cookie cravings). You can cut and bake the cookies frozen, just add a few minutes to the baking time. Update: you cannot cut this dough completely frozen, it crumbles and it is very hard to cut. Therefore let it defrost for about 30 minutes in the fridge before cutting.
To make a pastry shell from frozen pastry, let the dough defrost in the fridge overnight.

For a tart form of 25 cm
From New Classics – Gary Rhodes
225 gram flour
salt
150 g cold butter
75 g sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

Rub the flour with the salt and the butter. Mix in the sugar. Work to a smooth dough with the egg and egg yolk, but take care not to overmix since this will make the finished product less crisp. Cool for at least 30 minutes.
Roll till 3 mm thickness, put in a baking tin, rest/cool for 20 minutes and blind bake for 20-25 minutes. A good trick is to leave the overhanging dough on, since sometimes the dough shrinks a bit. If you take it off after baking, you will have a perfect pastry shell.
Or cut cookies from the rolled out dough, cool and bake for 10-15 min until the edges are nice and golden.

Chocolate cookies

One of my favourite kind of cookies are chocolate cookies. It is kind of logical, since I both like cookies and chocolate a lot. So I already bookmarked about 20 different recipes for chocolate cookies. But I usually buy my cookies. I almost never bake cookies. I think it is to much fuss, with the dough and the kneading and the resting and the rolling and the freezing and the baking and then ending up with ugly cookies. I am just not very good in baking cookies. So I never tried to bake chocolate cookies. Stupid me. Baking chocolate cookies is just as easy as baking a cake!

I liked the recipe I picked out from all the recipes I gathered, but probably I will also experiment with other recipes. This recipe makes a simple cookie, but with a nice, strong flavour. It is crisp around the edges and nice and pillowy in the middle. The only thing I will do different the next time is make them a bit flatter (I didn’t flatten them as stated in the recipe) and a little smaller (I did big spoons…). The cookies work best with a not to sweet chocolate. I made it with semi-sweet chocolate (puur for the Dutch), next time I will use bitter (extra puur for the Dutch).

Chocolate cookies (about 12)
From Un gamine dans la Cuisine
55 g butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 + 1/8 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
vanilla
salt
3/4 cup chocolate bits (don’t make them too small, they will dissapear)

Preheat an oven at 150C. Prepare a baking sheet with baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg, mix well. Add the vanilla, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well again. Spoon trough flour and chocolate bits.
Spoon heaps of batter on baking sheet, use 2 tablespoons for this. Flatten the heaps a bit. Bake for 15-20 minutes, maybe a bit longer if you like your cookies very crisp, in the preheated oven. Let them cool on a wire rack and then enjoy (or just eat when they are still warm). But don’t leave them out to long, then they get soggy.

Sugar cookies and royal icing

The following cookie recipe is the best simple sugar cookie recipe I found until now. You can make these cookies in any shape you like and they are perfect for decorating. Usually royal icing is used for decorating, so I included a recipe for this as well. The most recipes I found ask for meringue powder, which I cannot buy over here, so I have a recipe without, using fresh egg whites.

Sugar cookies (24)

4 cups flour (440 gram)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter (225 gram)
2 cups sugar (450 gram)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, vanilla, salt and baking powder and mix. Gradually add in flour at low speed. Mix until it is a coherent dough. Divide in 4 disks, refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celcius.
Warm one disk to room temperature (takes about 10 min), it should be just warm enough to roll. Roll out to 0,5 cm, cut cookies. Freeze for 15 minutes. Place on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let them cool on a wire rack.

Royal icing (a lot)

250 gram icing sugar
1 egg white
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Add sugar to egg white one spoon at a time. Beat well. Then add the lemon juice. If desired, colour with food-colouring.
Nb: it dries out very quickly, so cover when not using!

Mocha chocolate chip cookies

Yesterday I made mocha chocolate chip cookies to share with some friends. They were quite a success, only the amount of instant coffee powder I used was probably a bit to much, because the coffee taste was very strong. It is best to eat them fast, otherwise they get a bit soggy. When I make this recipe again, I will use less coffee powder (mine is quite strong I think) and I will tweak the baking time. I guess that when I bake the cookies a bit longer, they will be more crispy. I used a mixture of milk and dark chocolate chips, I think next time I will use only dark chocolate, as it will stand up better against the strong coffee flavour.

Mocha chocolate chip cookies (about 20)

125 g flour
1,5 tbsp instant coffee
1 tsp baking soda
salt
115 g butter
155 gram sugar
1 egg
vanilla
200 gram chocolate chips

Cream the butter with the sugar, salt and vanilla. Add the egg, beat until fluffy. Spoon the flour, baking soda and instant coffee gently trough. Fold in the chocolate chips. Cool for at least 1 hour. Spoon tablespoons of the batter on a baking sheet. The cookies spread quite a bit, so give them enough room. Bake them for 10-12 minutes at 175 degrees Celcius.