The 2nd Time’s the Charm – Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cookies & Holiday Cookie Baking Fun

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I have eaten an absurd amount of cookies this past week.  One of my vendors gave me a gorgeous jar stuffed with 6 different kinds of homemade cookies (chocolate crackles, shortbread, cranberry biscotti, Italian walnut cookies, iced snowflake sugar cookies and adorable chocolate chip minis) last Wednesday, one of my coworkers happily fed me a smiling gingerbread man shortbread sandwich cookie filled with cream cheese candy cane frosting for dessert during lunch today, and I have eaten at least half a dozen of my own cookies between Sunday afternoon and today.  I’m surprised I haven’t turned INTO a cookie!

The smell of cookies is just intoxicating though and truly one of the happiest, yummiest things to have in your home.  Cookies have always given me a run for my money since I started to seriously bake in 2011 (as you will soon read below), working out only half the time and either burning or tasting blah the other half.  But I love cookies to pieces (eating, baking, photographing and scrapbooking about them) and there’s nothing like the sound of cracking eggs and a whirring mixer, the smell of chocolate, the feeling of cookie dough delicious enough to eat all on its own between your hands and the feeling of mastering a cookie recipe and being rewarded with fresh cookies that are perfect and tasty to boot!

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We are knee-deep into the holiday baking blitz and this is the first of hopefully a handful of new recipes that I’ll be posting in the next little while.  What I have for all of you today: CHOCOLATE SNICKERDOODLES!  A classic cookie (snickerdoodle = cinnamon sugar cookie) made that more more awesome with the addition of chocolate!  While the recipe isn’t exactly brand new (it’s from Food & Wine’s November 2011 issue), it’s a recipe that definitely deserves to be kept in the holiday cookie recipe vault.  It’s gorgeous, it’s delicious and best of all, it uses the most basic of ingredients.  No need to schlep out into the snow to pick up some hard-to-find, expensive ingredient that you’ll only end up using once.  I was so grateful for this when the cookies didn’t work out for me the first time 2 weekends ago.

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I don’t know what it is about my oven.  I can bake cake.  I can bake quick breads.  I can bake muffins and bars and squares without so much as a lick of trouble.  But cookies?  It’s like my oven has a freakin’ mind of its own.  Half the time my cookies work and half the time they don’t and I’m constantly having to course correct as I go.  Which in and of itself is fine!  Baking and cooking are learning experiences and you won’t become a better baker or cook unless you flub up and learn from your mistakes.

But!  It’s so frustrating for me when it doesn’t work because I don’t get to bake all the time.  The whole point is for me to take photos and share recipes that I’ve tried with you all and to post about them, which completely eliminates workdays and weeknights and weekend nights (too dark to take photos).  Add to that the days when I’m out and about gathering content for Ate by Ate and not actually at home.  So my window of time is limited and when a recipe doesn’t work, I have to wait a whole week just to be able to try it out again.  Which I did for this one because I refused to admit defeat and I refused to believe that the recipe was bad.

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What happened the first time was that the bottoms of the cookies burned.  To a crisp.  Black as hockey pucks burnt.  My mom had to frantically shut the oven off earlier than the stated bake time so smoke wouldn’t start billowing out for real.  And I stood there looking at them completely befuddled because I had followed the recipe to a tee.  My heart sunk.  I had promised my dad and brother chocolate cookies and now I had to tell them that they had burned and that they’d have to wait a week before I could try again.  We sadly chucked them all in the green bin garbage and while I sat at the dinner table fuming, I thought about how I was going to change the recipe to make it work: lower the temperature, decrease bake time, and double pan my baking sheet.

The result one week later?  PERFECT Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cookies!  Score one for team Cookie Bitch.

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Recipe for Chocolate Snickerdoodles (taken from November 2011 issue of Food & Wine magazine)

Makes 36 small cookies or 24 medium cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons), softened
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided (*Deb’s Note: you really don’t need this much, 1-1/4 cups is enough)
  • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted, cooled (*Deb’s Note: I didn’t have unsweetened so I just used Baker’s Bittersweet)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

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Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (*Deb’s Note: to make this recipe work for me, I lowered it to 375°F the first time since I knew my oven ran hot.  When that still didn’t work, I lowered it to 350°F for the 2nd time)
  • In a bowl, sift the flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In another bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with 1 cup of the sugar until creamy (*Deb’s Note: seriously, beat the heck out of it.  Don’t stop beating until it’s literally almost white).  Add the melted chocolate and the egg and beat until smooth.  (*Deb’s Note: because it’s winter and it’s cold, I found it was better to melt the chocolate after creaming the butter and sugar and just stirring until slightly cooled.  I melted it before creaming the butter and sugar the first time and by the time I was ready to use it, it had hardened again).  Beat in the dry ingredients until incorporated.
  • In a shallow bowl, mix the remaining sugar with the cinnamon.  Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar.  Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and flatten to 2-inch rounds (*Deb’s Note: I did this the first time and didn’t like the way they turned out so what I did the 2nd time was roll them into balls, place them on the baking sheet, flatten them with my palm, THEN dip one side in the cinnamon sugar, placing them back on the baking sheets with the sugar side facing up.  I found that rolling them and then flattening them removed some of the sugar as it stuck to my palm and just made a mess out of the baking sheets)
  • Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and cracked (*Deb’s Note: I decreased the bake time for mine by a lot.  Mine were perfect and done in 8 minutes).  Transfer to racks and let cool.
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Cracking My Mum’s Sweet Tooth Code – Holiday Baking and Soft, Rich Butterscotch Chip Cookies!

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The Christmas cookie baking fun isn’t over just yet – I have another great batch of cookies for you all today!  I really hope all of you liked the Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies I posted yesterday because I’ve certainly enjoyed eating them!  I’ve never done anything with peppermint or candy canes before so I thought it was the perfect way of doing something Christmasy and something new, and I’m really happy they turned out yummy – and pretty!  Using the same cookie batter base, I made another kind of Christmas cookie over the holidays: butterscotch chip cookies. 

I made these butterscotch cookies especially for my mum because, lo and behold, I finally cracked my mum’s sweet code this month!  Let me explain: out of everyone in my family, I have the sweetest teeth.  Everyone enjoys dessert, but not quite as much as I do.  And with my mum, it’s been difficult to pin down that one sweet something-something that really makes those taste buds prance and dance.  With my dad and brother, it’s easy.  They love chocolate, no questions asked.  And me?  My sweet teeth could live off of lemon, coconut, and vanilla.  But aside from coffee, there’s never been anything that has necessarily made my mum squeal.  Then I found out this past month that she adores butterscotch!  I felt kind of foolish for not knowing this.  After all, I have been her daughter for 26 years now.  But hey, I’ll take it!  She loves the aroma, and both her and my brother love the smooth creaminess of butterscotch sauce and the rich flavour of butterscotch chips.

Recipe for Butterscotch Chip Cookies (yields 3 to 4 dozen cookies)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2½ sticks unsalted butter (10 ounces), at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups butterscotch chips, plus 3 to 4 dozen more for adorning the tops of cookies  

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  (*Deb’s Note: My batch of cookie dough made 39 cookies so I actually ended up reusing one of the two baking sheets to bake the extras after the first batch came out of the oven.  My oven runs hot so I don’t use the bottom rack.  However, depending on how your oven is, you could definitely line 3 baking sheets and do them all in one shot)
  • In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt using a large spoon.
  • Beat the butter and both sugars at medium speed until creamy.  Add the egg followed by egg yolk and vanilla, beating well between additions and scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary.
  • Slowly beat in the dry ingredient mixture, then fold the 1¾ cups of butterscotch chips into the batter. (*Deb’s Note: I like getting my hands working in the dough, so I actually just dumped all the butterscotch chips in and mixed them in using my hands.  You could use a large spoon though if you don’t prefer this method).
  • Roll mounds of cookie dough into balls, about golf ball size.  Place the cookie dough balls onto the baking sheets, 15 balls to a sheet.  Take the 3 to 4 dozen butterscotch chips and press one butterscotch chip onto the top of each cookie dough ball.  Don’t press so hard the chip sinks in or the dough ball starts to crack, but put just enough pressure on it so that it stays in place.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes, until cookies are golden brown around the edges.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely (*Deb’s Note: Mine took 14 minutes in the oven).

These cookies are incredibly simple and they’re super delicious!  They’re soft, chewy, and the butterscotch flavour comes out full force.  I’m so excited to expand on this recipe and make it into a butterscotch almond cookie!  That I will probably do in the new year, so look forward to that and many more cookies to come!

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Recipe inspired by Food & Wine magazine.  Sampson, Sally.  “How Baking Can Change the World.” Food & Wine November 2011: 130.

Christmas Cookie Baking Fun! Crackled Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

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I know it’s a little overdue, but my holiday baking and Christmas cookies are finally here!  I’ve been looking forward to posting Christmas cookies and recipes for so long and I’m so excited to finally have homemade holiday baked goods to share with you all.  There were so many recipes I wanted to try, I was bookmarking and dog-earing pages like crazy, and I was also enjoying everyone else’s Christmas cookie fun via the interwebs on my friend Katrina’s blog, In Katrina’s Kitchen, where she hosted an “I’ll Bring the Cookies” cookie party all month long!  In an ideal world, I would love to bake 5 kinds of cookies and cookie desserts EVERY DAY and you’d all be able to come to my house for a cookie party!  Realistically though, I just share them with my family, boyfriend, grandparents, hair stylist, and whichever friends I happen to see during the times I bake cookies.

I had so much fun making and baking these Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies (how’s that for some fancy alliteration?) because I actually got to improvise and experiment a little!  See, I didn’t actually use an entire printed recipe from a magazine or book to make these.  After realizing what an amazing, holy grail cookie batter base I had going on here, I used the basic framework of the cookie recipe, modified it just a little bit, and made the rest up on my own.  And it worked!  Sort of.  The recipe and ingredients worked out beautifully, but I was a little overzealous and put a few too many cookie dough balls on the first cookie sheet and they ended up overcrowding one another, but I learned my lesson and the rest turned out PERFECT!

I wanted to make something fun and special for my friend Lindsay for Christmas since she loves mint chocolate so much, so I figured, why not experiment with a chocolate peppermint candy cane cookie?  I wasn’t sure if I, personally, would enjoy them since I’m still warming up to peppermint things and mint chocolate, but I have to tell you, I love these cookies so much, and even my mum, who isn’t a fan of peppermint or mint chocolate, loved them too!  Not to mention I loved the way they turned out appearance-wise with the crackling and the candy cane mosaic.  Let’s share and spread the Christmas cookie love!

Recipe for Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies (yields 4 dozen medium-sized cookies or 3 dozen large cookies)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2½ sticks unsalted butter (10 ounces), at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 oz. semisweet chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1½ cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup crushed candy canes

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  (*Deb’s Note: Depending on how big you make your cookie dough balls, you’ll need to line your cookie sheets a few times to bake the 3 or 4 dozen.  My oven runs hot, so I actually don’t bother putting anything on the bottom rack and only use the top rack, placing 2 baking sheets vertically side by side).
  • In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  (*Deb’s Note: I didn’t use the mixer for this step, I just used a large spoon to mix everything together).
  • Beat the butter and both sugars at medium speed until creamy.  Add the egg followed by egg yolk and vanilla, beating well between additions and scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary.
  • Melt the semisweet chocolate chips and add to wet mixture, mixing until thoroughly incorporated (*Deb’s Note: I know some people prefer to use the steam method, melting the chocolate over a pot of boiling water, but I actually do it in the microwave.  I blast it at 20 second intervals, stirring after each interval until the chocolate is smooth.  You don’t have to do this, but I added a small splash of milk to my melted chocolate).
  • Slowly beat in the dry ingredient mixture, then fold the white chocolate chips into the batter.
  • Using clean hands, roll mounds of cookie dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter.  Roll the cookie dough balls in the crushed candy canes, coating the entire ball.  Place coated cookie dough balls onto the baking sheets, 12 balls to a sheet (*Deb’s Note: Here is where I was a little overzealous with the first batch.  Instead of 12, I placed 15 and the cookies were overcrowded.  Make sure you don’t make the balls bigger than an inch in diameter because the dough spreads.  If you want the cookies larger, I’d say only put 8 cookie balls to a sheet). 
  • Bake 12-15 minutes, until crackling forms.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely (*Deb’s Note: Mine took 14 minutes in the oven).

Here’s a cute gift idea: to mimic the texture and “crackled” appearance of the crushed candy canes, take the cookies and break them into smaller pieces to create cookie bark!  Place in some clear cellophane and tie the bundle up with some pretty ribbon.  Ta-da!

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Recipe inspired by Food & Wine magazine.  Sampson, Sally.  “How Baking Can Change the World.” Food & Wine November 2011: 130.

A Little Bit of Holiday Sweetness in Kensington Market – Christmas Cookies at My Market Bakery

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Cookies, cookies, and more cookies in Kensington Market at My Market Bakery

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My Market Bakery is located at 184 Baldwin St. in Kensington Market.  The bakery is located west of Spadina Ave. and south of Nassau St.