Guess who had the most customers at my sister’s garage sale? That’s right, the 6-year-old selling lemonade and cookies. My nephew is quite the little businessman. He even made sure to charge more for chocolate chip cookies because, “they are most popular.” My favorite transaction was when a neighborhood man asked him if it was possible to get one butterscotch cookie and a large lemonade. My nephew replied, “of course, ANYTHING is possible!”
During my visit to Portland there were many cherries on top of the sweet sundae of conversation and togetherness with my cousin and her family. One such example: the luxury of a vanilla bean honey latte and fresh macaron in the morning. Sitting and talking in the sunlight that flooded through the garage-door windows of a cafe adorned with flocked red wallpaper, Belgian beer, jewel-toned chocolates and stuffed monkeys, my world was enlightened, comforted, and caffeinated at Pix Patisserie with Jenne.
My mom’s cousin from Texas commented on my recent use of molasses: “A staple in every Hoosier’s kitchen!” On that note, I hereby declare a week of molasses recipe-sharing at cozywalls.com. These cookies come by way of my Great-Grandmother’s Sister-in-Law, Aunt Velma. Though I never knew her, I cannot mistake the smell of these cookies baking in the oven: the combination of cloves and molasses warms the soul.
When I was little, my mom would let me roll the dough balls in a bowl of sugar before placing them on the cookie sheet. For this batch I used some pretty big sparkle sugar, and the added crunch and shimmer was a delightful result (don’t be fooled by the crunch though, these cookies are also soft-middled). Usually paired with a glass of milk or mug of tea, this week at the store there was a bargain on black cherry gelato. Together with that blackstrap molasses cookie, the gelato was transformed into a black forest trifle of molasses sorts. I like to think of it as Blackstrap Forest.
Aunt Velma’s Molasses Cookies
Preheat Oven to 375-degrees
3/4 cups shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
about 2 cups flour
Roll in balls “the size of walnuts” and dip in sugar. Bake 8-10 minutes.
Homemade chocolate (with a hint of mint) cookie coated marshmallows! That’s what the Dirty Leprechaun is all about. I can’t think of anything more perfect right now then being on a camping trip at the close of a full day, sitting around a campfire and toasting one of these babies over hot embers. They really need nothing more than a little heat to be thoroughly enjoyed. But since I could, I put it between two Girl Scouts Cookies. Thin Mints to be exact. Now there’s a St. Patrick’s Day S’more if I ever saw one.
I think Indian food is a nice choice for Valentine’s. Inspired by that idea, and a trip to the local Indian food grocer (that actually had Bird’s Custard Powder on the shelf!) I put together this sandwich cookie. It’s a mash-up of recipes from Aarti Sequeira and Nigella Lawson. Custard Cream-Filled (link to recipe) Garam Masala-Chocolate Gingerbread (link to recipe) Sandwiches. Long name, lots of flavors and textures. All squeezed together in one smooth, rich and spicy cookie sandwich. xoxo, Amy
The honey graham dough I made over the weekend was a sort of “healthier” version of shortbread. I added fresh ginger to the recipe and sprinkled demerara sugar over the tops before baking them off. Honestly, I would have been happy stopping there, but remember the mallow bits? I melted some chocolate over the stove in my homemade double-broiler, drizzled it over the grahams, and stuck the mallow bits on top. They turned out to be easy-to-package, simple self-contained s’mores.
Honey-Ginger Grahams, adapted from Cooks.com
2 C whole wheat flour
1 C unbleached flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C butter
1/3 C honey
2 t freshly grated ginger
1 t vanilla
1/2 C milk
Sift together first 4 ingredients & set aside. Cream together brown sugar and butter until smooth. Add honey, ginger, and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add dry mix to creamed mixture, alternately with milk. Chill dough. Roll out onto well floured surface, cut into shapes, and score cookies with a fork. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 12 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.
The ancient Greeks maintained that the seat of the soul was in the stomach. If I had a cookie cutter in the shape of a stomach, I would use it.
An inspiration storm hit when I opened a package that came in the mail for me last week. A friend, who knows a thing or two about treasures, sent me this tin of cutters that she uncovered at a thrift store! I gave them each a bath and decided to start out with a classic shortbread recipe. Since I was using the pear shape, I made a pear glaze to coat the shortbread. To cut the sweetness, I added shaved slices of the salty Italian sheep’s milk cheese and topped it off with a toasted walnut. Flavor boomerangs! I will make these again with other fruit, cheese and nut combos. Fun little pick up snacks made with a super pick-me-up gift.
Cookies: I use Ina Garten’s Recipe.
Pear Glaze: In a saucepan, stir together one cup of pear nectar (I like Looza or Knudsen brands, but if you have time, I suppose you could make your own) and 2 T brown sugar. Add 1 T unsalted butter and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat until liquid reduces by half (about 10 min).
Walnuts (optional): Toast 8-10 min. in 350-degree oven.
Have you ever made window cookies with hard candies? I thought it would be fun to do a butterscotch flame version with my tin candle cookie cutter. I rolled out some sugar cookie dough, crushed some butterscotch discs, and whipped up some frosting using powdered sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, butter and milk. Tasty cookies with a bottle of milk.
While I was making them, I thought about a song that my nephew learned in choir that starts out, “light one candle for hope.” My niece, whose name sounds a lot like “candle” thinks the song is about her. What a true thought; we are all capable of being figurative candles for peace, hope and love.
I had grand plans for my contribution to the office sweets party this year, but life events intervened and those plans will have to be realized in the future. Whattodo when you can’t make your own homemade treats? Make your own assortment tray of your favorite locally made cookies! In my case, I dropped by the Cookie Cottage for some soft double chocolate raspberry cream and double chocolate chip mint cookies. Selection and presentation can be gifts, and a positive part of the holidays is sharing the things you love; so I say, double it up whenever possible!