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Food Blogger Cookie Swap: Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing (plus a chocolate version!)

December 11, 2013

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Happy Cookie Day! Once again I took part in the Food Blogger Cookie Swap with a bunch of other amazing bloggers. The funds raised from the cookie swap goes toward kids cancer research. Cookies and a great cause? I’m in! If you want to participate in next year’s swap, you can sign up for updates here.

I’ve actually been really behind on baking cookies and desserts this year. Christmas just came up way too fast this year! We’re having a Christmas open house on Sunday night, so I’ll be getting my holiday baking on very soon. These sugar cookies were the first bit of holiday baking I did all season. Although I typically hate decorating Christmas sugar cookies, I had so much fun making these fun sugar cookies, inspired by Bon Appetit magazine. They’re ultra simple, buttery and delicious – pretty much the prefect classic cookie.

If you’re afraid of decorating cookies, don’t be! The secret is having the right type of icing. Although royal icing isn’t the tastiest type of icing, it produces the most beautiful results. Just place the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip and get creative! As you can see, below, I made a bunch of different looking cookies.

In case you’re looking for some great cookie recipes, I also received a bunch of awesome goodies from these ladies:

Joanne from Joanne Eats Well with Others
Devangi from Pistachio Doughnuts
Erika of The Pancake Princess

Thanks so much, ladies, for sending me such great cookies! They were enjoyed by all at my house.

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit December 2013

1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon hazelnut or almond extract
1 recipe Royal Icing (below)

Heat oven to 325°F. In large bowl, combine salt, baking powder and flour until well combined.

In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth and well combined. The mixture doesn’t need to be fluffy. Beat in the egg, egg yolk and hazelnut or almond extract. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and beat until just combined. Form dough into two discs. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Let dough sit at room temperature until softened slightly, about 10 minutes. Place on lightly floured surface and roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes (I stuck with circles and stars for simplicity) and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until edges are just lightly golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheets. Transfer to wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Royal Icing/Decorating
Recipe from Bon Appetit (method adapted slightly)

Using electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat 3 1/4 cups powdered sugar and 2 large egg whites until white, thickened and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Add water by the tablespoonful until icing no longer holds a peak. Place some of the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a very small round tip. Outline the cookies with the icing.

Add an additional 2 to 4 tablespoons water to the remaining icing until it is slightly softer and runs a little more freely. Spoon a small amount of icing into the center of each lined cookie. Tilt the cookies around so icing in center completely fills the outlined cookie. Immediately cover with desired sprinkles. Allow cookies to set, about 30 minutes.

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Painted Chocolate Sugar Cookies
To make the chocolate sugar cookies, swap out 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour for 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Make as directed.

Painted Decorating Method
I was in love with the method in Bon Appetit when I first saw it on the cover. However, I made a few tweaks that gave me a little more success the second time I made them. To make the “paint” combine 1 teaspoon luster dust (I purchased mine at Michaels in the cake decorating section) with a couple drops of alcohol, such as vodka or amaretto. The original recipe called for using lemon extract, but I found that the flavor of the lemon extract was overpowering with the cookies. Use a small paint brush to paint desired decorations on cookies decorated with royal icing.

Happy Baking!


Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Cookies

October 9, 2013

These cookies were almost the death of me. I kid you not, having to make and photograph them 4 times really tested my commitment to this recipe. But I guess issues with your memory card and card reader will test almost anyone.

Since I work in food for a living and spend a lot of time in the kitchen each day, developing, testing and re-testing recipes until they reach perfection, it’s rare for me to spend that same amount of time testing and re-testing recipes at home. Although there is a lot of value in testing a recipe three or even four times, I just don’t have that kind of time or resources to devote to the recipes I put on Espresso and Cream. Usually, if I can’t get a recipe down by the second try, I abort the mission and go with something else. That’s just real life for ya.

But these cookies. They were too good not to share. I loved them from first bite, my hubby loved them, too, as did our friends, which is why I couldn’t let something like a faulty card reader and some technology flukes get in the way of shring the recipe.

Over the course of making them and re-making them, they changed quite a bit. Finally, on the fourth try, I think I found my favorite version yet. And they happen to be the easiest version as well. This recipe doesn’t make a very large batch of cookies, just 10 small cookies or 5 large cookies. Enough to feed to a small group or to have around for a few days when split between two people.

The texture of these cookies is all thanks to the unsweetened finely shredded coconut. I found mine at Whole Foods, but I’m sure other specialty stores or co-ops have it as well. Please don’t use sweetened coconut that you find at most traditional grocery stores. The texture is much different (way more moisture) and the pieces of coconut are larger. Perhaps it would work just as well, but I wouldn’t be able to guarantee it, so proceed at your own risk. These puffy little cakey cookies store well and taste just as good the second and third days after you make them.


Coconut Dark Chocolate Macaroon Cookies
Makes 10 cookies
*3/4 cup flour
*1/4 teaspoon baking soda
*1/4 teaspoon baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*4 tablespoons butter, melted
*2/3 cup sugar
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 teaspoon almond extract
*1 egg
*1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut (I buy mine at Whole Foods)
*2 oz chopped dark chocolate

1. Heat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat (Silpat) or parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well combined. In second bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and egg until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir untli just combined. Stir in the coconut and dark chocolate until combined.
3. Roll cookie dough between hands (it will be slightly wet) to form 10 balls. Place balls on baking sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are just lightly golden brown around edges and puffed up. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Baking!


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free & vegan)

June 3, 2013


First up, the winners of the pancake giveaway! They are:
-Sarah (who likes her pancakes with syrup and Nutella)
-Jessica Honcoop
-Kristin Darhower
-Andrea (who likes to make healthy pancakes with whole wheat flour, oats and yogurt)

Ladies, shoot me an e-mail with your address to to claim your prizes!

Lately I’ve become increasingly interested in gluten-free, vegan baking. Not necessarily because I personally need to bake treats without gluten or animal products. But it feels like the next frontier in baking, a wide, undiscovered world of flours, meals and gums, among other things. Gluten-free, vegan baking challenges me, and everything I’ve come to know about baking. Since I was little I’ve been baking with all-purpose flour, eggs and butter. It’s incredibly challenging to break all my previous assumptions about what makes a quality baked good and play around with recipes that are entirely different in method and ingredients.

In the past, I’ve always felt that even the most successful gluten-free, vegan baked goods needed to come with a disclaimer. “This is a really good cookie recipe, for being gluten-free and vegan!”

But last week I finally arrived at an adapted cookie recipe that didn’t need a disclaimer. In fact, I think these cookies may have become my favorite cookie recipe. No disclaimer or excuses necessary. These Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies are, plain and simple, my favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookie; they hold their own when pitted against their butter and gluten-laden counterparts. And I’m sure that when you make them (please make them!) you will agree.


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free and vegan)
Makes 24 cookies
Adapted from the Baby Cakes Bakery recipe on the Bob’s Red Mill package
1 1/2 cups oat bran (make sure it is gluten-free)
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup ground flax
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or canola oil
5 tablespoons applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (to make this recipe completely vegan, make sure the chocolate chips are vegan)

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.
2. In large bowl combine oat bran, all-purpose gluten-free flour, flax, sugar, baking soda, xanthan gum, cinnamon and salt until well combined. In small bowl combine oil, applesauce and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to try ingredients and stir until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Drop mixture by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheet, rolling between your hands into balls if you want the cookies to be uniform and round. Mixture will feel oily and may take a little effort to keep the dough in round balls. Don’t worry, that’s totally normal.
4. Bake 7 minutes. Rotate baking sheet. Bake 7 minutes more or until cookies are golden brown. Cool on pan 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Baking!


Almond Meal Everything Cookies

March 3, 2013


I think it’s safe to say that breakfast cookies, however you want to define them, have become a thing over the past couple years. Go into any grocery store or gas station and chances are you can get your hands on a cookie that’s billed as being an acceptable form of breakfast. I like cookies and I love breakfast, but I’ve never really been a fan of breakfast cookies mainly because they are usually not all that more healthy than a regular cookie. Sure, they might have some oatmeal or granola thrown into the batter, but adding oatmeal to dessert does not a breakfast make.

Also: granola bars. Most of them fall into the same category as breakfast cookies. Billed as healthy, nutritious snacks but usually just filled with scary ingredients. Case in point? I was studying the label of a granola bar the other day only to notice that the second ingredient was sugar and the third was corn syrup. Yum?

These cookies are my answer to breakfast cookies and granola bars all at once. Inspired by this almond flour cookie recipe from The Minimalist Baker, these cookies are completely grain-free, low in sugar and packed with protein from the almond flour, sesame seeds and almond butter. But don’t let the healthy ingredients fool you. They are also completely delicious.


A few recipe notes:
-When making the cookies, the dough may feel a little soft, oily or struggle to hold together. Don’t be alarmed since this is totally normal. That’s where the refrigeration of the dough before baking comes into play.
-The cookies do not spread out since they are of the slice and bake variety.
-Cooling the cookies completely on the baking sheet and then allowing them to cool completely on a wire rack before eating is important. The cookies will be crumbly if you don’t follow this step.
-These cookies store well in a zip top bag or storage container and stay chewy for a couple days following baking. I would imagine that they would freeze well, too, but I haven’t tried it.

Happy Baking!

Almond Meal Everything Cookies
Makes 8 to 12 cookies
*1 1/4 cups almond meal
*1/4 cup sesame seeds
*1/4 cup unsweetened flake coconut (can use sweetened if you can’t find unsweetened)
*1/4 cup chocolate chips
*3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
*1/3 cup brown sugar
*1 tablespoon chia seeds
*3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
*1 large egg, lightly beaten
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*Heaping tablespoon almond butter

*Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
*In a large bowl, combine the almond meal, sesame seeds, coconut, chocolate chips, flax, brown sugar and chia. Stir to combine.
*In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, egg, vanilla extract and almond butter until smooth. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
*Roll dough into a log about 8 inches long (dough will be slightly hard to keep together) and wrap the log in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.
*Cut refrigerated dough into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. This is important that you allow them to cool completely or they will be crumbly when you try to eat them. Store cookies in a plastic container.

Happy Baking!

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

April 13, 2012

A couple weeks ago, a co-worker of mine (Hi, Janet!) brought in an assortment of cookies. Usually, I try to avoid the baked goods at work, since it seems like there is always something you could munch on, but for some reason those cookies were calling my name. I couldn’t resist.

I ate one. Oohed and aahhed my way through the entire thing. Then took another cookie home to share with Joe. Oh course, he was equally impressed, which meant I needed to get the recipe from Janet.

Here’s the thing about these cookies: they sort of taste like they are from a package – in a really good way. Do any of you remember those Chips Ahoy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies? I used to eat them in high school without shame. And these cookies taste like a much better version of them.

So what’s the secret?

Crisco and margarine. A little cringe-worthy if you ask me, but since these cookies taste so good, I’m willing to overlook it just this once. And I have a feeling you will, too.

Happy Friday, all!

P.S. – It’s not too late to enter the Keep It Sweet Desserts Giveaway. You can enter until 10 p.m. Sunday night. Winner will be announced on Monday.

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
*2/3 cup Crisco
*1 1/2 sticks margarine
*1 cup brown sugar
*1 cup granulated sugar
*2 large eggs
*2 teaspoons vanilla extract
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside .
*With an electric mixer, cream together the crisco and margarine for 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Add in the sugars and beat another 1 to 2 minutes until mixture is light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.
*In a bowl, mix together the baking soda, salt and flour. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, beating until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
*Form dough into cookies with heaping tablespoons. Roll between your hands to form a smooth ball. Flatten each ball just slightly with the back of your hand.
*Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes. The tops of the cookies should still be slightly glossy and soft looking. Allow cookies to rest on the baking sheet for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Happy Baking!

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