Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles aren’t anything all that special. They’re sugar cookies with a bit of cinnamon/sugar coating on the outside and not much else. Funny though, they’re one of those things that everybody loves, and if you’re heading to a little party (as I am later this weekend) they’re a must. This time around, the specialty here is that the snickerdoodles are made with butter and bread flour, a trick I learned from King Arthur’s Flour, and which I can recommend without reservations.

So apart from the butter and bread flour — both of which may not make a lot of difference — the REAL reason I make these cookies is because of something else in my mind, anyway. Snickerdoodles were something I could always count on my mother to make, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but also as just a welcome home or about any other good reason she could think of. They were never a big deal, but they almost always were there, just in case you needed a little something.

I miss them, and her.

(more…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

Raisin oatmeal cookies are a special treat here in good ‘ol Cleveland, and one of those things that, after I’ve made them, I can’t figure out why I’ve waited so long to do that. They could be one of the best I make, although that depends on who you ask, I guess. And this time around, I am headed off to a party over the weekend, so this treat will probably sell out rather quickly, I would think.

The recipe is very simple. It does, however, require good oatmeal (none of that instant variety) and uses butter (definitely no margarine). There is something special about good oatmeal — especially steel cut oatmeal if you can get it — that adds a special quality to the finished cookies. And the butter. There is something about butter that really makes the cookies soft and, basically, just more “cookie-like” if I can make that a word.

(more…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Biscotti Day

biscotti
shaping biscotti

Shaping The “Logs”

It’s become an annual affair. One day each year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the entire Discovery Cooking household takes on the task of making biscotti. And we make a ton of them, led by my tireless wife, Carol. Both the timing of this special day and the main reason for it are linked to the holiday season. Packed into colorful boxes or tins and festive glass jars, freshly made biscotti are fantastic (and impressive) little gifts for family, friends and neighbors, or for a nice host gift when you’re unexpectedly invited to one more holiday open house.

We generally make several batches of biscotti — some longstanding favorites and some new experimental varieties. Some of the latter have turned out to be disasters, but over several years now, we’ve amassed quite a few favorites, some of which you’ll find below. While we often spend a full day — sun up to sun down — making biscotti, a single batch normally takes just an hour or perhaps a little more to make. 

biscotti

Batches Awaiting Packing

Biscotti, if you’re not familiar with them (or haven’t seen them in a coffee shop), are twice-baked. They bake first in the form of a stiff cookie-like dough shaped into a flattened log, then cut diagonally into characteristically shaped biscuits and baked again for a short while on each side. They’re very dry and are perfect with coffee or a nice Vin Santo. They’re also delicious with a latte or chai or especially espresso. Whatever the beverage, they’re meant for dunking, by the way. I’ve know only a few people capable of, or crazy enough, to eat them dry. Sealed in a large jar with a tight lid or plastic storage container, they also have a pretty long shelf life — a month or more, in fact.

(more…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Nan’s Chocolate Sour Cream Cookies

Chocolate Sour Cream Cookies

I don’t recall when my mother — who all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren called “Nan” or “Nannie” — began baking these wonderful soft, moist chocolate sour cream cookies, but I have trouble remembering a Christmas without them. I’d bet this recipe was published somewhere and she tried and liked it. That would have been at least 50 years ago, probably more, so the original source is now a mystery. What’s fun is that her granddaughters continued the tradition of making these cookies every Christmas. 

The recipe makes from 6-8 dozen cookies. The good news is that when they’re kept in air-tight containers, they have a really long shelf life. Several weeks, in fact. I made one change to the original recipe, by substituting a half cup of unsalted butter for the original’s half cup of vegetable shortening. Nobody needs a half cup of transfat in their diet, I think.

(more…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Simple Shortbread Cookies

shortbread cookies

Even without a calendar or all the decorations, it’s obvious when December rolls around, just by the displays and end caps at the grocery store, which are by now stacked tightly with baking supplies. It’s definitely baking season, and this early in the month that means cookies. Specifically, this is when I like to make my own shortbread cookies. Maybe its my English and Scotch-Irish heritage. There is nothing I do regularly that is more simple or more delicious.

Shortbread cookies require just five ingredients — sugar, butter, flour, vanilla extract and a tiny bit of salt. The ratio is 1:2:3 by weight for the main ingredients and that seems to scale pretty well, up or down.

(more…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Cookie Day!

I’ve never been much of a cookie baker. With a few exceptions, cookies and the making of them, are confined to the year-end holidays, and notably the weekend before Christmas. Not sure why, but that seems to be the way it goes.

Thumbprint cookies are by far my favorite, mainly because they’re simple to make and don’t require any decorating skills to speak of. So with baking underway this weekend, I thought I’d share a few of my new favorites.

(more…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Apple Drop Cookies with Salted Caramel Frosting

apple drop cookies

Cookies and apples and fall. Add in a little salted caramel and I’d be happy for it to be October all year. One of the lucky things about living in Virginia is the variety and sheer volume of apples produced here. I bake these apple drop cookies early in October and continue to make them frequently into the year-end holidays and throughout the winter.

The flavor of the cookies reminds me of apple pie, and while they’re baking, they really perfume the whole house.

(more…)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
%d bloggers like this: