I don’t bake, but if I did…
Not many years ago, I was simply unable to bake a batch of decent-tasting cookies. I remember studying a sugar cookie recipe and being unable to put the ingredients together to turn them into anything edible. My husband will attest to the loud cursing and crying that happened when I used to attempt baking. Then suddenly one day I decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies. Those cookies were the turning point in my baking life. They were incredible. Soft, chewy, and perfect. Incidentally, the altered recipe of those very cookies were also the first post on this blog. Or, I think they were. I should check that. I feel like that’s kismet right there.
Every year since having kids, I’ve baked a bunch of cookies and never done much with them beyond sending them to Ryan’s office so I don’t eat them all myself. This year I undertook a new project: to make delicious egg-free cookies since my son is allergic to eggs. It’s surprisingly easy and my daughter (who just turned five) loves helping me out.
Here are our yummy creations so far:
Candy Cane Chocolate Chip Cookies
I have a thousand alterations to this recipe that I can share with you, and each is delicious perfection, but since it’s Christmas, this is the one you must try! I can’t even remember where I found the original recipe, so I can’t credit it, but it has taken on a life of its own now anyhow and barely resembles that one anymore.
Gather all this stuff up:
1C softened salted butter
2C packed brown sugar (I used demerara)
1/2C applesauce (NOTE: If you don’t have to omit eggs, use 2 here. For every egg a recipe calls for, I use 1/4C of applesauce instead.)
2.5tsp pure vanilla extract (if I was making just the plain chocolate chip recipe here, I’d use rum in the place of vanilla… it’s incredibly yummy)
2.5C all-purpose flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
2C choc chips
about 20 mini candy canes
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Smash your candy canes! I’m sure you can probably buy these pre-smashed, but my five-year-old daughter had a pretty awesome time breaking them up. We put the candy canes on a clean tea towel wrapped around them and she banged them to bits.
3. In a large bowl, combine the butter,
both sugars, (sorry about that, I used to use some white and some brown sugar, but changed it to all brown!), the sugar, applesauce (or eggs if you’re using them) & vanilla.
4. In a second bowl, mix all the dry stuff together.
5. Mix the wet and the dry.
6. Stir in chocolate chips and candy cane bits.
7. Combine dough with your hands to evenly distribute the chips and bits. It’s more fun getting messy anyhow, right?
8. Roll the dough into 2″ diameter balls and place on a non-stick cookie sheet about 1.5″ apart.
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe is altered only slightly from the one in Mrs. Fields Cookie Book: 100 Recipes from the kitchen of Mrs. Fields. Go ahead and laugh. Then buy it, because hot damn, that lady knows her way around a cookie recipe!
Scrounge up these ingredients:
2.5C all purpose flour
1C quick (not instant) oats
1tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
the zest of 1 medium-sized lemon
1C of dark brown sugar, packed
3/4C softened salted butter
1/4C applesauce (or 1 egg if you’re egg-friendly… or unfriendly depending on how you see it)
1/2C applesauce (I left this as an additional entry because the recipe calls for applesauce AND I also replace eggs with applesauce so I wanted it to be clear)
1/2C honey (yup, a LOT of honey)
1C of peeled, diced apple (about 1 regular-sized apple… I used Macintosh because everyone knows they’re the best apples ever)
1C chocolate chips
2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg & lemon zest. Mix well and set aside.
3. In another bowl, combine the sugar and butter, then add the applesauce (and egg if you’re using them) and honey.
4. Add the dry to the wet and mix. I encourage hands of course, because that way you get messy and you can control how mixed everything gets. Don’t overmix. The batter should be chunky.
5. Now cover the dough in the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45mins – 1hr, or until the dough’s cold.
5 . Once cold, roll 2″ diameter balls of dough and plop ’em onto a non-stick cookie sheet about 1.5″ apart.
Cocoa Chip Marshmallow Pillows
Once upon a time I made these and they were truly one of the most vile creations ever borne from a hot oven. This time, however, I followed one simple tip and they were a dream. A marshmallowy, cocoa-y dream. They’re also from the Mrs. Fields recipe book I mentioned previously.
Stuffs you need to make ’em:
3C all purpose flour
2/3C unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2tsp basking soda
1C white sugar
1C brown sugar, packed
1C softened salted butter
1/2C applesauce (or 2 eggs, if you’re using them)
2tsp pure vanilla extract
2C chocolate chips
a small package of mini marshmallows (I estimate no more than 2C worth, but I’ll be honest… I didn’t measure)
First off, stick the marshmallows in the freezer. Right now. Do it. This is the key part you don’t want to mess up.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, cocoa & baking soda.
3. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter & applesauce (or eggs).
4. Add the dry to the wet. And yes, again I encourage you to use your hands to get in there. This dough is really stiff (that’s what she said), so you’ll need to be hands-on to make sure everything’s combined well.
5. Here’s the time-consuming part: take a blob of dough (enough to make a 2″ round ball) and smoosh it flat in the palm of your hand. Next, take 5 of those frozen mini-marshmallows and lay them on the dough. Then wrap the dough around the marshmallows and roll into a tight ball. Lay on cookie sheet about 1.5″ apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Once baked, many of the cookies will split open a little (not all of mine did, though), revealing their marshmallowy secret! They’re adorable and SO yummy. They also freeze well, surprisingly. When you’re ready to serve, simply warm them back up in the oven at 300°F for about 5 minutes and they’ll taste fresh!
Strawberry & Goat Cheese Tarts
I told my husband if I succeeded at making these things, I deserved a prize. I don’t know why, but the idea of making tarts felt daunting. I got the idea from a recipe in the Mrs Fields book for baby banana cream pies. Those sounded particularly unappealing to me, but the pastry recipe itself looked easy, and my daughter had been asking if we could make tarts so I gave it a go. Though they call it pastry, it’s not really like the light flaky stuff. It’s like… well, it’s like a mini-pie crust. Which is exactly what it’s supposed to be, I guess. Ha. Anyhow.
Run and find:
1.5C all purpose flour
2tbsp white sugar
1/2C chilled salted butter
1tsp pure vanilla extract
5tbsp cooooold water (they called for ice water, I used water from our fridge)
1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar and butter. I did this by hand, the recipe says to use a pastry cutter. I don’t actually have a clue what that is. The dough will be dry-looking once combined.
2. Add the water and vanilla and mix together until the dough can be smooshed into a big ball. It takes some mixing to get it to that point. Just think: you’re working off the calories you’re about to eat once these tartriffic babies are complete.
3. Tightly wrap your dough-ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour, till the dough is firm and cold.
4. Preheat oven to 400°F. Once the dough is cold, remove from fridge and I broke the ball into two chunks. On a floured cutting board, I used a rolling pin (also floured… lots of mess here, folks) to roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thickness. The recipe said I should then cut circles out using some other weird baker’s contraption I don’t own, so instead I grabbed a drinking glass and that did the trick.
7. Now, you could fill these beauties with pretty much anything. A nice savoury meat filling would be a fun meal. Pudding and meringue? Lovely! I chose to use some strawberry jam my husband made recently. And then I thought, hey, goat cheese would be SO GOOD in there! So while they were warm, I spooned a bit of soft (spreadable) goat cheese into the tart shell, and then spooned over that some cool strawberry jam. Eaten fresh and warm, these make the most incredible delicious appetizer ever, I am positive of it. So the rest of my tart shells sit in the freezer, and on Christmas day, they’ll be gently warm in the oven and prepared “fresh” for our guests!
Up next, I’ve got the recipe for the delicious Amarula toffee I made, along with the chocolate truffles and sugar cookies we’ll be making this week. We packaged everything up in adorable boxes I found at the dollar store and will be giving them to my husband’s coworkers, the kids’ teachers, and whomever else I deem worthy of such sugary bounty.
If I can bake, you can, too. These recipes are SO easy and delicious. Enjoy!