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Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

The first time I had a brown sugar icebox cookie was from Karin Johnson Specialty Cakes and Pastries in Castro Valley, California. They used oatmeal instead of nuts that is typically used for this cookie. As I was chewing the first bite I was pulled by its characters– honest, pure, simple and down to earth. Honest as it does not have any fancy coating; pure in its flavor that is not taken over by other addition; simple for its ingredients and texture, and down to earth for its form and nature goodness.

This cookie is not to be sat side by side with other kinds (especially the Chocolate ones!), because they are often overlooked. But if you give them a chance, they will keep you in good company, especially on cold rainy days, with a cup of tea, a good book, and some soothing music playing in the air… Life is content, life is love, life is beautiful.

Brown Sugar Icebox Cookies

Brown Sugar Icebox Cookies

Brown Sugar Icebox Cookies– recipe adapted from Auntie Rose’s brown sugar-walnut Icebox Cookies posted on BostonGlobe.com (makes about 30-35 pieces)

Ingredients:

2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter– soften– see note below
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup oatmeal– toasted– see note below

Method:

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Mix in egg, followed by vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  3. While the mixer on lowest setting, gradually add in flour mixture to butter mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is smooth. Stir in toasted oatmeal with a spatula until well distributed.
  4. Divide the dough in half and scoop onto a large parchment paper and shape into a rectangle bar or cylinder. Wrap up tightly and chill until it hardens. Slice into 3/8-inch thickness.
  5. Place cookies on a lined baking pan, 2 inches apart. Bake at preheated 350F oven for 15-20 minutes. Cool on a rack and store in air tight container when cooled completely.

Regina’s Note:

  • Butter: Use really good quality butter as it’s the soul of these cookies.
  • Toasted oatmeal: Because I want to taste the buttery and brown sugar of the cookies, I used toasted oats instead of nuts. Oatmeal is a very “mild” ingredient to provide some texture without taking over flavor of the cookies.
  • My cookies were crunchy on the edge when they were fresh out from the oven, with the center being firm (but not hard or crunchy). As the days go by the cookies get a little soft each day. So if crunchy cookies are preferred, slice the, thinner and/or bake them longer.
  • Cookie dough can be kept in freezer– wrap up dough tightly with parchment paper, then double wrap with foil. Thaw slowly in the refrigerator or until the dough can be sliced. To prevent cookies from spreading out during baking, slice dough when you are ready to bake, or keep sliced cookie dough chilled in the refrigerator.
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Years ago while I was searching online for muruku cookies (well if it ever exists), I stumped upon this interesting recipe on Epicurious.com. I saved it to my “baking adventure” list, but never really get to it until recently– when I was looking for new cookies ideas for my upcoming Chinese New Year bake.

This cookies is pretty easy and simple to make. The coriander flavor is mild but I can’t really taste curry flavor. Maybe next time I’ll increase the amount of both… I added curry leaves (I just love the aroma of curry leaves!) for more flavor. The texture is very similar to Chinese Walnut Cookies 核桃酥– very shorty. The savory flavor and bits of curry leaves does take away some richness of the typical shortbread cookies. Just like my other shortbread cookies, I made these cookies bite size due to its richness– perfect to go with a cup of tea! Don’t be fooled by its meh look– the flavor is a bomb and will get you hooked!

Curry Coriander Shortbread Cookies 咖喱芫茜籽酥餅Curry Coriander Shortbread Cookies 咖喱芫茜籽酥餅

Curry Coriander Shortbread Cookies 咖喱芫茜籽酥餅 (adapted from Epicurious.com– Curry Coriander Shortbread Cookies, makes 100 pieces)

Ingredients:

2 tsp ground coriander– see note below
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
20 fresh curry leaves– very finely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter– soften
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup flour

1 beaten egg for egg wash

Method:

  1. In a clean dry pan, toast ground coriander at medium heat with a spoon for a couple of minutes, until the aroma comes out. Remove from heat, and repeat the process with curry powder.
  2. Combine Coriander, curry powder and flour. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in salt, vanilla extract and curry leaves. Stir to blend well.
  4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Use a silicon spatula to blend well (mix and press down motion), until no visible dry crumbs and forms a soft dough.
  5. Take a small portion of the dough and roll to a ball of 1 inch diameter. Repeat with remaining dough.
  6. Place balls on a lined baking pan, 2 inches apart (Cookies will spread after baking). Press down the balls to form a disc of 1 1/2 inch diameter. Brush with egg wash.
  7. Bake at 350 F oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to cool on a rack. Store in air tight container.

Regina’s Note:

  • Coriander: if whole Coriander seeds is used, grind the seeds in coffee grinder or spice grinder before toasting in pan.
  • Flavor: the flavor of curry powder and coriander is mild. Increase the amount of both for stronger flavor. Next time try adding 1 tsp of toasted cumin seeds for layers of flavors.
  • Egg wash: to use up the egg wash, I brushed the cookies twice– first time before baking, and second time after 15 minutes in the oven.

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Salted Yolk Cookies~ one of the new cookies (the other one is Seaweed Cookies) I made this year for CNY. Salted yolk refers to the yolk of an salted egg. I love salted yolk. I can’t believe I waited this long to try out this recipe. The cookies are flaky and not too grainy. Even my family that ewes at salted yolk loves the cookies. One tip~ because of the richness of salted yolks, I suggest to keep the cookie size small (preferably one small bite size), and serve with a cup of tea.

Salted Yolk Cookies 咸蛋黄酥餅

Salted Yolk Cookies 咸蛋黄酥餅

 

Salted Yolk Cookies 鹹蛋黄酥餅

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
1 tbsp tapioca starch
1/2 tbsp milk powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 stick unsalted butter– softened
1/4 cup sugar
3 cooked salted egg yolks– warmed up and mashed
20 leaves curry leaves– very thinly julienned

Egg wash

Method:

  1. Combine flour, tapioca starch, milk powde and baking powder. Sift and set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in salted yolks and curry leaves with a spatula.
  3. Add in flour mixture. Use a spatula to mix and press, until all incorporated.
  4. Form dough to a disc and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Rest in the fridge to harden so it’s easier to handle.
  5. Slightly dusted a work surface with flour. Roll out harden dough to 5mm thickness, anc cut out with a cookie cutter.
  6. Apply egg wash and bake in preheated 350 F oven for 12-15 minutes. Cool on a rack, then store in air tight container when completely cooled.

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Seaweed Cookies 紫菜酥餅 (yield 80-100 small cookies)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp dry milk powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
12 tbsp ( 1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter– softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 pack (17 gram) Costco organic seaweed– blended (see note below)
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds

Egg wash
Chili powder

Method:

  1. Combine flour, milk powder, salt and baking powder. Sift and set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and mix until blended.
  3. Mix in blended seaweed  and sesame seeds with a spatula.
  4. Add flour mixture. Use spatula to mix and press to form a dough.
  5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Chill dough in the fridge to harden so it’s easier to handle. When ready, lightly dust work surface with flour, roll out dough to 5mm thickness and cut with cookie cutter (dust cutter with flour to prevent sticking). 
  6. Put cut cookies on baking pan lined with parchment paper. Brush with egg wash then dash the top with chili powder.
  7. Bake at preheated 325 F oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool cookies on a rack. Store in air tight container when completely cooled.

Regina’s Note:

  • Seaweed: I used snacking seaweed instead nori for sushi making– snacking seaweed is usually lightly seasoned with salt and oil, making the cookies more flavorful. 
  • Flavor: The cookies have a nice seaweed flavor and not too sweet. Chili powder wasn’t spicy ( you can also use paprika powder– it’s more for the look). Next time I will try adding finely grated Parmesan cheese… sounds like a good combination with seaweed…

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German Cookies with Black Sesame Seeds 德國酥餅(黑芝麻口味)

Today is Chinese New Year’s Eve, it is the day every Chinese household cook up a storm, starting early in the morning~ in my family back in Malaysia, we will be busy cooking foods to offer to our ancestors in the other world, and  this usually happen around lunch time. By the evening, we will be busy making the most important meal of the year– reunion dinner. Family members will always rush home from around the places to join the table. If you are not familiar with Chinese culture, let me tell you: Reunion dinner is a FEAST not to miss!Fish, shellfish, soup, pork, chicken, duck, veggie are usually on the menu. Oh how I wish we could join the dinner with my family on the other side of the planet… I have my feast too spreading out on my dining table here at home, but the feeling is not the same.

Anyhow, back to the cookies. This is another new cookie recipe I tried this year for my Chinese New Year bake, and I don’t really know why it is called German Cookies. Maybe it is similar to one of the Christmas cookies German make for the holiday?… Anyway, one interesting ingredient to this cookies is potato starch, which I believe is the key to these very light, airy and melt-in-your-mouth cookies. Not only is the recipe super easy and fun to make with little kids, the cookie dough freezes well too.

Some people make their version with a marble look(chocolate and original flavor), doggy look (by using some cereal to make doggy face). Others use poppy seeds. This time, I used black sesame seeds so the cookies don’t look so plain and pale, plus I like the nutty flavor of toasted black seeds. Green tea or earl grey will be good choice for a different look and flavor as well.

German Cookies with Black Sesame Seeds 德國酥餅(黑芝麻口味)– makes about 50-60 pieces

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups potato starch– “Windmill” brand preferred
2 tbsp dry milk powder
2 sticks (4oz each) unsalted butter– soften
3/4 cup powder sugar
2 tbsp black sesame seeds– toasted

Method:

  1. Combine flour, potato starch and milk powder together in a bowl.
  2. Put butter in a separate bowl. The butter must be very soft but not melted; microwave for a few seconds if needed. Add powder sugar and mix well. Add in sesame seeds to mix well again.
  3. Sift flour mixture into butter, mix to form a soft dough that is not sticky to the hands. If the dough is too soft, refregerate for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Take a small piece of dough and roll into a ball of 1-inch size. Repeat until all the dough is used.
  5. Place each ball one a large baking pan, about 1 inch apart. Press each ball down slowly with a fork to make a pattern. Bake at preheated 325F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the edge is slightly brown. Cool completely then store in air tight container.

Regina’s Note:

  • Freezing cookie dough: roll up dough to a log shape and wrap in parchment paper followed by plastic wrap. Place in air tight bag.
  • To toast sesame seeds: toast in dry clean pan on the stove on medium low heat, stirring at all time until the seeds puff up a little and sesame flavor starts to come out. Cool before use.
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German Cookies with Black Sesame Seeds 德國酥餅(黑芝麻口味)– before baking

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Potato starch– Windmill Brand

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Hazelnut Chocolate Mini Cuppies

With Chinese New Year getting closer and closer, I have been baking like crazy~ pretty much bake one type of cookies a day on top of my normal busy routine around the house. These hazelnut chocolate mini cuppies are new cookies that I tried making this year. I love hazelnut, and chocolate makes it even better! This is a very simple recipe that produce yummy cookies. From my previous trip back to Malaysia, I brought with me these mini baking cup liners which is perfect for these cookies. For those who are not familiar with Chinese New Year cookies (a New Year tradition among Malaysian and Singapore Chinese), they are usually made in bite size and have a delicate look. If you are making these cookies, go elegant with the look~ make the cookies small and pretty just like from a chocolate shop. It worth the efforts.

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Hazelnut Chocolate Mini Cuppies

Hazelnut Chocolate Mini Cuppies (makes 120- 140 mini cuppies)

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 cup toasted hazelnut– ground
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (4oz each) unsalted butter– room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Chocolate sauce (whisk to melt in a double boiler, over medium low heat, cool slightly):
1 lb bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1.5 bag (10oz each)
1 stick unsalted butter– cut into pieces

Topping:
1/3 cup toasted hazelnut– skin-off preferred, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Combine flour, ground hazelnut, powdered sugar and salt in a bowl.
  2. Place butter in a separate large bowl, gradually pour in flour mixture while using fingers to rub in butter, until it forms a dough and doesn’t stick to hands. If the dough is too soft to handle, refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Divide dough into small pieces (about 8g each) and roll each piece into a balls, about size of a marble ball. Place each ball in the baking cup and press down with your thumb or finger to form a disc.
  4. Bake at preheated 325F oven for 15-18 minutes or until the top is slightly brown.
  5. When the cookies are cooled completely, carefully cover the top with about 1/2 tsp of chocolate sauce. Sprinkle some chopped toasted hazelnut on the top. When the chocolate is set, store in air tight container.

Regina’s Note:

  • Chocolate sauce: if the chocolate cools down and thicken, just warm it up again over a low heat simmering pot.
  • Freezing cookie dough: to freeze cookie dough, wrap tightly in a parchment paper (shape like a sushi roll), then wrap in plastic wrap and inside an air tight bag.
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Hazelnut Chocolate Mini Cuppies

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Besides stained glass cookies, this is another new cookie I baked this year for Christmas. I got the recipe from Just A Pinch Recipes. It’s quite simple, although I needed to add about 1/2 to 1 cup more flour because the dough was just too wet and sticky. I think the reason might be that I cheated on softening the butter– I use the quick microwave way to soften, and I warmed it up a bit too long. Anyway, lesson learned…

Some thumbprint cookie recipes suggest filling the jam on top of unbaked cookie dough, while others say add the jam after the cookies are baked. Well, I did the hybrid part– baked cookies, added jam, and baked for a few more minutes. I did this because I was hoping the extra baking time will dry out the jam a bit more, so the jam filling won’t be as thin runny and more on the thick sticky side. The results: No much difference. The main thing is the jam itself– I used pineapple preserve and raspberry jam. After final baking, while pineapple jam was still thick and nice in the thumbprint area, the raspberry jam was starting to overflow the edge of the cookies (it gave a smooth touch on the jam surface though). If you want a crunchier cookie texture, I suggest you bake the cookies and store in airtight container. Only add in the jam on the day of serving (you can add jam and bake a few more minutes if desired). Once the jam is filled, it will soften the cookies over time.

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Thumbprint Cookies– Baked, waiting to be filled with jam.

Thumbprint Cookies Recipe (adapted from Just A Pinch. Makes about 30 cookies)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz) unsalted butter– softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, separated
1 1/2 cup flour– add more later if needed
4 tbsp dry whole milk powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking pan with parchment. Combine flour, milk powder and salt.
  2. Cream butter with a hand mixer. Add sugar and cream until it’s fluffy. Mix in vanilla completely, then mix in egg yolk blend well.
  3. Use a spatula to mix in flour mixture, in a stir-and press motion, until the it forms a dough. Roll the dough into thin long log of 1 inch diameter. Cut into pieces and roll each piece into a 1 inch diameter ball.
  4. Whisk egg white in a bowl until it gets frothy. Place chopped hazelnut in a separate bowl.
  5. Dip each dough ball into egg white, then roll it in chopped hazelnut to cover completely. Place the dough on baking pan, about 2 inches apart. Use your thumb to press down the ball to make a deep indentation.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from the oven but maintain oven temperature. If the cookies lost its indentation then press down further with a spoon to make indentation deeper (do it while the cookies are still hot).
  7. Place about 1/2 tsp of jam onto the indentation. Bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. When cookies are cooled completely, store in air tight container, adding parchment paper between each layer to prevent jam sticking together.

Regina’s Note:

  • Besides chopped nuts, you can also roll cookies in shred coconuts, sugar or simply none at all.
  • Don’t be limited by sweet jams. Jalapeno jam, cream cheese (flavored or plain) can also be used to create different flavors. Be adventurous!
  • For crunchier thumbprint cookies, just bake the cookies itself without jam and store in air tight container. Only fill in the jam on the day of serving.
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Thumbprint Cookies– I added some chili powder to some pineapple jam filled thumbprint cookies… looking for a sweet and spicy taste.

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Thumbprint Cookies– I used pineapple jam and raspberry jam for the filling.

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