Tag Archives: cookies

The Devil is in the details

29 Mar

Linzer Tarts are one of those things that my family just loves. They are sweet and beautiful and delicious to boot. There’s something about a sugar covered, jam filled, cookie that begs to be eaten.

Every holiday someone in the family makes these cookies, and if no one makes them we buy them from the Wyckoff Quality Bakery in Wyckoff, NJ.

If you look up linzer cookies or linzer tarts in a cookbook you’ll find two theories. The first is the classic linzer dough which is a shortbread type dough that uses filbert flour and ground walnuts. It’s a heavy dough that needs to be worked while cold or it will fall apart. This dough can be formed into tart pans and baked like a pie or rolled and cut into the cookie shape.

The second theory is a basic shortbread dough. This dough is a four ingredient dough. It’s versatile enough to double as a pie crust and cookie. My family favors the shortbread style. Here’s the recipe:

Linzer Tarts

3/4 pound butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups AP flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup good quality raspberry preserves (admittedly I like to use wild blueberry preserves, so use whatever flavor you like best)
confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the salt and flour, then add them to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 20 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/4 inch thick and cut an even amount of shapes out of the dough. In half of the shapes cut a small piece out of the center. Place all the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes.

Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread the preserves on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the tops of the cut-out cookies with confectioners’ sugar and press the sides together, with the preserves in the center and the powdered sugar on top.

Take your time with these babies. They are a labor of love, but worth every minute.

Always thinking about the next meal,


Holiday Cookies

14 Dec

So here’s the update to my earlier cookie dilemma. I feel like I’ve been baking around the clock for the past week. Between cookie tray orders and prepping for the impending holiday rush, I literally feel like I’m living in a bakery. So what types of cookies made it to my list? Well here’s the list of what I’ve made so far…

Peppermint bark: first batch turned out just ok, but the second batch is great (mostly due to the fact that I used the correct chocolate the second time around)

Iced Sugar Cookies: Snowflake shaped of course

Gingerbread: not happy with the way these turned out at all, they will not be made again

Peppermint marshmallows: delicious, although next time I’ll cut them smaller

Lemon Raspberry thumbprints: very cute and tasty, although small and not very dramatic on the tray

Peppermint Brownies: yes, I cheated and used a box mix, but hey I had a hole on the tray and I needed to fill it

Chocolate Chip: my signiture, turned out great

Checkerboard Icebox cookies: a lot more involved than anticipated, but they look great

Chocolate Shortbread with green chili sugar: very interesting, I called them naughty and nice cookies

Still to come… maybe

Palmiers: one of my favorites

Pressed butter cookies: Every year I make these and every year I break my cookie press… I’m debating if I want to sacrifice my sanity, but I guess it is tradition

Rum Balls: I saw these on TV and they look really delightful, however, not one for the kiddies

Chewy Molasses Spice Cookies: Since the gingerbreads were such a colossus failure I’d love to have spicy winner

So the cookie adventure continues. I’m debating cooking more tonight, although I’ve been at it all day. It might be a good night to relax and make some decisions

Always thinking of the next meal


Holiday Cookie Prep

30 Nov

This year, for the first time, I’m making Holiday cookies for more than just my family. This year I’m making them to order. All the trays will have the same cookies so I need to carefully select cookies that can be made in mass amounts and ones that will stay fresh for more than a few days. Right now, I’ll be making 7 trays, but hopefully that number will be going up.

Last year’s trays included, snowflake sugar cookies, chocolate chip, peanut butter, piped butter cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, and peppermint bark. Although, the selection was small, the trays were a big hit. This year I’d like to go a little bigger.

If you’ve been reading this blog on a regular basis, you know that I like to plan things. The cookie trays are one of my favorite things to plan. I search through my books and look online for the best looking recipes, both traditional and innovative. Sometimes I come up with my own, and I’ve even been known to add some handmade candies into the mix.

So far I have a running list that will eventually be cut down. Updates will follow, but so far I’ll be making: Peppermint bark, chocolate chip cookies, snowflake sugar cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, butter cookies and chewy gingerbread cookies. I do have some other favorite, like Mexican wedding cookies, lemon polenta cookies, chocolate sandwich cookies, and handmade truffles but we will see what I have time to make.

I’ll keep editing the list and if you see anything that looks good, let me know!

Always thinking of the next meal


Early Thanksgiving

23 Nov

So my mother-in-law celebrates Thanksgiving the Sunday before the holiday every year. It’s great because it makes the holiday family flip-flop that comes with marriage, a little easier. This year I was asked to bring desserts. As a rule, we celebrate my father-in-law’s birthday the same day that we celebrate Thanksgiving. This makes the dessert a little more difficult. Not that birthday cake is difficult, but a chocolate cake just doesn’t quite fit in with the usual requirement of pie.

So the menu had to fulfill the need and want of a variety of pies, and fulfill the want of a celebratory dessert that isn’t a pumpkin pie with a candle in it. So here’s what I decided to make. First, the traditional pie, caramel pumpkin pie. Second, the celebration, banana cream pie. Yes, I know that this is not a traditional Thanksgiving dessert, however, it is my father-in-law’s favorite. I also make an Italian apple cake, and sugar cookies for the kiddies. I felt like it was a bit of a hodgepodge combination, but it worked.

Thank goodness for the cookies too, because they were by far the most popular. Here’s the recipe:


1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
1 cup 10x sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

2  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

And what to do with all those leftovers? Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m completely over turkey chili. So I came up with this little beauty. It’s a leftover turkey pizza! I’m so excited about it, because it is seriously tasty. When you are doing your shopping, pick up a sack of pizza dough, or some Boboli bread. The day after, when you’ve returned from your black Friday escapades, simply put this pizza together for another simple family feast.

Thanksgiving Leftover Pizza

Pre-heat the oven with a pizza stone or cookie tray in it, to 400 degrees. When the tray comes up to temperature, take out of the oven and spread the dough or lay out the baked crust. Spread with leftover cranberry sauce. Layer with turkey and anything else that you might have remaining. (I would skip the desserts though.) Top with leftover cheese, or treat yourself and top with shredded gruyere. Bake for 15-20 minutes and then garnish with minced parsley, thyme, and sage. If you don’t have these herbs, use what you have, it is leftovers after all. You just don’t want to go back out to the grocery store. Ahem, LEFTOVER PIZZA, thank you.

Whatever your holiday holds, enjoy. It’s that once a year celebration that is all about eating, which is after all, the most important thing.

Always thinking of the next meal


Psychology of Chocolate Chip Cookies

18 Sep

What’s in a name? Well, when it comes to cookies EVERYTHING! You know the moment the words hit your ears. For everyone it’s different. For some, it the crispy spicy bite of a gingersnap. For others, it’s the chewy cinnamon flavors of an oatmeal raisin. But for me, it’s the sweet, decadent childish indulgence of a chocolate chip cookie.

IMG_0808Thankfully my husband shares in this need for chocolate chips, otherwise I’d be making batches of cookies and eating them all myself! Yes, cookies are not the healthiest things that can happen to you, but let’s face it, eating cookies just makes you feel happy.

Every Christmas season, I purchase no less than 3 large serving trays and fill them with a plethora of holiday goodies. No matter how many beautifully decorated sugar cookies there are, no matter how many fruit and nut stuffed rugula there are, and no matter how many Italian butter cookies have been pain-stakenly pressed, the favorite is always my chocolate chip cookies. I derived my cookie recipe from Miss Paula Dean’s recipe for triple chocolate chip cookies. Here’s her version:


Why does this recipe work? Well here’s what I know. The amount of butter and shortening are in perfect ratio. There is enough butter to make the outside of the cookies crispy, but there is enough shortening to keep the inside soft and moist. The balance of the sugar and brown sugar lends the cookie to be sweet, but no so sweet that your teeth hurt afterward. The amount of brown sugar also helps to keep the cookies moist.

You can change what you put in these cookies as well. Instead of chocolate chips, try M&M’s or raisins. Make a “trail mix” cookie by using premixed trail mix. You can also add things like dried fruits and peanut butter chips.

These cookies are a constant request in my house. Make them once and I can guarantee you your household will be all smiles.

Always thinking of the next meal