The Winter Cookie Party, Part II – Lemon Coconut Almond Cookies and Why Cookie Baking Means So Much

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It’s a cookie party in the Ate by Ate kitchen!  You all know how much I love baking cookies (and how much I love eating them!), but these days, I love baking them even more than usual because it gives me a renewed sense of joy and purpose: I bake cookies to make my grandma and grandpa happy.  I’m lucky to still have my grandpa.  A number of years ago my grandpa had kidney failure and because of the nurses and doctors who saved him that day, he was given many more years of life.  And cookies!

Here’s the story: when I started baking a few years ago, I would bake extras for my grandparents when I knew I was seeing them that day.  I’d bake little tea muffins or cupcakes without frosting, put them in a tupperware container, and carry them with me in the car like a prized possession.  I eventually began baking cookies with a venegeance and little by little, muffins and cupcakes were squeezed out in favour of cookies.  And my grandparents loved them.

My grandpa loved them so much he ended up bringing one or two with him every time he went to the hospital for his dialysis appointments.  For anyone who has a family member, loved one, or friend who visits the hospital on a regular basis, you know just how draining it can be.  My cookies not only gave him the little sugar boost he needed after his appointments (which would make him feel a bit weak and tired afterward), but they also gave him a little part of me and my joy.  So now, I bake more cookies so my grandpa has something happy and yummy to enjoy during those dreary hospital visits.

This past weekend, I saw my grandma and grandpa for Chinese New Year and I gave them a fresh batch of new cookies to enjoy because I knew it would make them happy.  My grandpa pulled me aside and said to me, in Chinese, “when Debra is here, grandpa feels rich”.  On top of the happiness I feel when I bake, this is all the validation I need to keep doing what I’m doing.

Recipe for Lemon Coconut Almond Cookies (yields 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 kosher 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
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon extract
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon 
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded or desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups sliced almonds

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 reuse your cookie sheets a few times.  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 the egg yolk, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon juice, beating well between additions and scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary.
  • Beat in the dry ingredients, then add the lemon zest, shredded coconut, and sliced almonds, folding them into the cookie dough mixture (*Deb’s Note: alternatively, you can roll your cookie dough balls in the coconut if you want after the next step).
  • Using your hands, grab handfuls of cookie dough and shape into balls, about 1 inch in diameter.
  • Place cookie dough balls onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown at the edges.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely (*Deb’s Note: I placed 15 on each baking sheet, but it all depends on how big your want you cookies.  If you roll them into bigger balls, only place 12 on each sheet.  Mine took about 14 minutes in the oven).

*****

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

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Dark Brown Sugar, Meet Butterscotch – Butterscotch Brittles and a Winter Cookie Party, Part I

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Remember the butterscotch chip cookies I baked during the holidays in December?  The ones I photographed with cute snowmen in the background and the ones my mum went all cookie crazy over because she admitted she had a weakness for butterscotch?  Okay, so imagine those cookies, but crunchier in texture, richer in flavour and aroma, with more beautiful crackling, and just as delicious if not more!  It was cookie baking day in my house on Saturday and I was prepared to bake two kinds of cookies: another batch of butterscotch chip and a new lemon coconut almond cookie I was trying out.

I was so excited to bake cookies (like there’s ever a time when I’m not!) I literally went out during a snowstorm to buy extra butterscotch chips because another store I had visited earlier in the week had run out.  My mum thought I was crazy.  I call it determined.  And maybe a little stubborn.  But if the cookies we baked were any indication, walking around town with snowflakes hitting me in the eye was worth it.

I couldn’t believe how fabulous these cookies turned out!  You must be thinking though, “why were you surprised?  You baked these cookies before!”  That is true.  But there’s an important difference between these cookies and the ones I baked during Christmas: these ones have dark brown sugar in them, not light or golden.  The darker the sugar, the more molasses it has in it and you can clearly see and taste the difference.  I knew the amount of molasses in brown sugar would make a difference in baking, I just didn’t know how obvious the difference would be.

The ones I baked in December were chewier and lighter in colour while the ones I baked on Saturday turned out incredibly golden, like my cookies had been sunbathing on their parchment paper beach towels on the cookie sheet beach.  Not only was there a difference in appearance (check out the crackling!), but there was also a change in texture and taste.  These cookies were crunchier and the flavour was so incredibly rich!  It was like a cross between rich butterscotch fudge and brittle.  Hence, butterscotch brittles!

*****

The recipe for the butterscotch chip cookies can be found here.  For chewier, lighter cookies, follow the recipe as is.  For cookies like the ones I showed you all here, substitute the brown sugar with dark brown sugar.

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!

*****

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

A Tropical Party Kind of Cookie – Chewy Coconut Oatmeal Pineapple Delights

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I’m starting to see a trend with the cookies I’ve been baking – many of them have oatmeal in them!  This is highly amusing to me considering that I’m not the biggest fan of cooked oatmeal.  My parents love it but it’s one of those foods that has never really grown on me.  I’ll eat it, but I won’t love it.  So I don’t know if I’ve been receiving subliminal messages somewhere or if I naturally gravitate towards oatmeal as an ingredient in cookies, but I love the texture it creates in cookies, both chewy ones and crunchy ones.  These, my lovelies, are Pineapple Delights from Joanne Fluke’s Key Lime Pie Murder!  Chewy cookies with dried pineapple, shredded coconut (or coconut flakes), and oatmeal!  I mentioned these in my last Cookie Jar post when I blogged about the delicious recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies and between the two, I did enjoy enjoy the banana chocolate chip ones more initially. 

However, I soon realized what the problem was: the pineapple delights get better with age.  I’ve been noticing that with several different kinds of food over the past little while and the concept feels so foreign to me!  Since when do cookies (and any other food) not taste great fresh out of the oven?!  It’s true though, these pineapple delights are better enjoyed the day after.  And the day after that.  And so on and so forth.  My family and I were enjoying these cookies at their yummiest a WEEK after we baked them!  I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.  So don’t touch that cookie jar until the next day.  I know it’ll be incredibly hard. Wrap your hands with something if you need to.  It’s worth the wait.

Recipe for Pineapple Delights (yields about 4 dozen medium sized cookies when recipe is halved)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups butter, melted (4 sticks, 1 pound)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pineapple extract (or you could use vanilla extract)
  • 4 cups flour (*Deb’s note: I used regular all-purpose flour)
  • 2⅟₂cups chopped sweetened dried pineapple (measure after chopping; you can substitute the dried pineapple with any other dried fruit to change up the recipe!)
  • 3 cups rolled oats (uncooked oatmeal)
  • ⅟₂cup chopped coconut flakes (*Deb’s note: I used shredded coconut)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F, rack in the middle position.
  • Melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl.  Add the sugars, mix until well incorporated, and let the bowl cool a bit. 
  • Add the beaten eggs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pineapple extract.  (*Deb’s note: Since I didn’t have pineapple extract, I used vanilla extract.  If you’re doing the same, add a little more chopped dried pineapple to the mixture.  I think pineapple juice would enhance the flavour as well, but you would need to add a bit more flour or oatmeal to thicken the dough up).
  • Mix in the flour.  Then add the chopped pineapple, coconut, and rolled oats, mixing them in thoroughly.
  • Drop by teaspoon onto a greased cookie sheet, 12 to a sheet.  (*Deb’s note: I rolled my dough into balls using my hands.  The cookies turned out larger than I expected them to, so if you use the rolling method, make them a bit smaller because the dough spreads when they’re baking).
  • Bake at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes.  (*Deb’s note: if you want them chewier, bake them for 12 minutes.  If your oven runs a bit hot like mine, do them for 11 minutes).  Cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. 

These cookies freeze well if you roll them in foil and put them in a freezer bag.

*****

Recipe taken from Joanne Fluke’s Key Lime Pie Murder.  New York: Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2007.  Photographs taken by me.  The recipe can be found on page 32.

White Chocolate Heaven – Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip Viking Cookies Hot Out of the Oven

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One of my weaknesses is white chocolate.  I remember how ecstatic I was as a kid when I went over to a family friend’s house and saw white chocolate chunks in a candy bowl in their living room and how squealy I was when my friend gave me homemade white chocolate almond bark for Christmas this past holiday.  I’ve had many a birthday cake with white chocolate shavings on top, and I’ve never turned down a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie or a Hershey’s cookies ‘n’ creme bar.  It’s any wonder why I haven’t gobbled up the white chocolate cupcake at Short & Sweet Cupcakes yet given my love for the decadent stuff.  Anyway, I picked up some white chocolate chips awhile ago with the intention of creating and testing out my own original cupcake recipe but because I hadn’t finished tweaking measurements for it, I opted to use them to bake cookies for the time being instead!

This time around I chose a cookie recipe from Joanne Fluke’s Carrot Cake Murder, which was actually the first book from the murder mystery series I purchased nearly two years ago.  The recipe worked out perfectly with what I had on hand.  I already had white chocolate chips in my baking bag and I had oatmeal oats left over from the cranberry oatmeal crunch cookies I baked last month.  I LOVE these cookies so much!  These cookies have such a warm, creamy sweet flavour to them and I’m so happy they turned out well as I halved the recipe.  I adore the crackling on top and really, I would recommend this recipe to anyone who needs a simple, uncomplicated cookie recipe that is still decadent with that “wow” factor.  I ate 3 yesterday and another 2 today 😀  Why the cookies are called Viking cookies I’m not entirely sure though.  Your guess is as good as mine!

Recipe for Viking Cookies (Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip, yields 10 dozen cookies)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups butter (4 sticks, melted)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (nutmeg will also work)
  • 4 ⅟₂cups flour (**Deb’s note: I used regular all-purpose white flour)
  • 3 cups white chocolate chips (make sure you use real white chocolate chips with cocoa listed as an ingredient, not vanilla chips.  If you can’t find chips, you can chop a block of white chocolate into chip-sized pieces)
  • 3 cups rolled oats (uncooked oatmeal)

Directions:

  • Melt the butter in a large microwave-safe bowl, or on the stove in a small saucepan.  (**Deb’s note: I microwaved my 2 sticks of butter in a bowl for 1 minute on high).  
  • When the butter is cool, mix in the white sugar and the brown sugar.
  • Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs, vanilla, and spices.  Make sure it’s all mixed in thoroughly.
  • Add the flour in half-cup increments, mixing after each addition.  Then add the white chocolate chips (or pieces of white chocolate if you chopped up a block) and stir thoroughly.
  • Add the oatmeal and mix.  The dough will be quite stiff.
  • Take the cookie dough in your hands and roll the dough into 1-inch balls (or however big or small you’d like depending on how big you want your cookies) and place them on a greased cookie sheet or on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Flatten the cookies with the back of a spatula or with the palm of your hand.  You don’t need to smush them all the way down so they look like pancakes, just one squish will do.
  • Bake at 350°F for 11 to 13 minutes or until they’re an attractive golden brown (**Deb’s note: mine took 11 minutes).
  • Cool the cookies for 1 to 2 minutes on the cookie sheets and then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

*****

Recipe taken from Joanne Fluke’s Carrot Cake Murder.  New York: Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2008.  Photographs taken by me.  The recipe can be found on page 10.