To New Traditions: Sugar Cookies

The hardest part about growing up is realizing that traditions have to change: The whole family might not make it to Thanksgiving; My mom doesn’t like hanging stockings anymore; My little brothers are too big to have their bedrooms doors wrapped shut on Christmas Eve. Within those lost traditions are ones that remain: My dad reading us The Night Before Christmas (no matter how old we get); Mimosas on Christmas morning; Croquettes for Christmas dinner. Those things stay the same and I believe always will in some way.

Recently I find myself sifting through traditions old and new in order to see what I want to carry on to my own family one day. I will make pies for my own family on Thanksgiving, as I have for years now. I hope to make cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning for years to come.

As a part of tradition searching, this was the first year I made Christmas cookies from scratch. We had always used pre-made doughs, Pillsbury and the like, but they were never really right. The were often hard and the past few years we didn’t really get into it as much. I took it upon myself to tackle fresh cookies that would be more favorable and softer than in years past. I made the dough by myself, but my family still got into the cutting and decorating. The combination of my baking and my family’s help made it the perfect tradition in my book.

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I am developing a serious appreciation for Tasty lately because they yet to have a recipe that disappoints me. I used their sugar cookie recipe after looking at the positive comments and liking the attitude of the included video. I followed it exactly, except I included less almond butter and anticipated that it made much more than the 12 cookies that it said it did. I can thank the comments for those good decisions.

With all of my years of baking, I believe I had only made homemade icing once before this. I was not sure how my meringue powder substitute would go, but (surprise, surprise) it went pretty well. I had to add more water than I expected, and I could have probably doubled the recipe overall to make more. It was not the perfect royal icing that I was hoping to have in order to decorate, but I pin that on my inexperience and I only hope to improve it in order to decorate more intricately.

How They Taste

I knew from the second I tasted the dough that these cookies were going to be good. That hint of almond, which my family took forever to guess, was perfect. dsc_1471Even after baking they retained their flavor and remained soft for the few days that they lasted.

The key was to not roll the dough out too thin, because thicker cookies had a slight fluffiness to them that was perfect. I don’t mean make them thick, but not make them too thin either.

The cookies reminded me of pre-made cookies from years past, while also having a homemade comfort to them that you can’t get from the store. I was concerned about the flavor of the icing, but I ended up going for the iced cookies over the plain ones. I could go for one of them as I type.

Reminders for Years to Come

Here’s a mental reminder to myself to start putting together a really nice recipe book. This recipe would be first thing in the “holiday desserts” section. It’s a classic cookies that takes time but pays off in the end. I would save myself the work and make the dough one day while baking/decorating the next day. The combined mental, emotional, and stomach satisfaction was just what I was looking for. Already excited to give these another try during the next holiday season.

 

Casey

Tried & True: Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies

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Finally back at it again with the #FoodieFridays! Food has been such a big part of my life lately but not in a way that I could write about it on my blog until now. Thanks to my lack of warm weather plans, I took to the kitchen during my few days back at home this past week.

I wanted to make something different, but not too timeIMG_0908.jpg
consuming. Cookies seemed like a good way to go, but I wanted something more than my basic chocolate chip cookies. This led me to deciding to make yet another Pinterest find, Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cookies from Betsylife. Luckily for all of us and my family, I was very happy with how they turned out.

Highlights:

  • Dark chocolate is really underrated and I used to consider caramel overrated, but the combination is perfect. These cookies specifically have a great ratio so that you’re never stuck with a caramel-less bite.
  • These cookies still manage to not be over chocolate-y, so you can shovel down more than a few without immediate guilt or that death-by-chocolate kind of feeling.

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Tips:

  • IMG_0848.jpgUse the full 9 oz bag of Toll House DelightFulls. It seemed like too much so I did not initially add all of them, but after doing my first batch I added the rest of the bag to the dough I had left and it really added to the rest of the cookies
  • Be cautious but generous with the salt. I personally do not like a lot of salt with caramel, but I was a little too cautious with these cookies.
  • Judging these cookies in the oven was tough because they start out dark anyway, so I personally just trusted my gut. They do not spread very much, but you will start to see them almost crack open a bit like a load of bread when they’re done.

My family found the appearance of these cookies in relation to how appetizing they are debatable, but we all loved them for their taste. Heated up and mixed with vanilla ice cream is an extra special treat!

Let me know if you try this recipe! Also, does anyone have any tips for how to come up with my own recipes? I can’t just talk about other people’s creations forever!

Crazy for Caramel,

Casey

The Key to Success[ful cookies]

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After watching a full season of The Great British Bake Off in one day, I find myself reconsidering my whole life and wanting to return to my baker dreams that I had just a few years ago. While I hope to get over this feeling soon, unless it might just lead me to bigger and better things (…food PR…), I know I need to appreciate being able to bake anything I can get my hands on.

No matter how intricate or beautiful the latest food trend is, nothing quite beats a classic chocolate chip cookie. The first thing I baked by myself were chocolate chip cookies, and I have luckily come a long way from the mess that those came out to be. For years I had classic tasting cookies, but their pancake shape was not quite right. Now, thanks to a  recipe my mom got from a friend [hence the random name], I know the not-so-secret key to the most picturesque, delicious chocolate cookies that I could ask for.

Darci’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients: IMG_7002.jpg

2 Sticks of Butter

1 Package of (4 1/2 cups servings of) Instant Vanilla Pudding (🔑)

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

1⁄4 Cup White Sugar

3⁄4 Cup Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

2 1⁄4 Cups of Flour

1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda

Chocolate Chips to Taste

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Process:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit (convection bake).
  • Combine butter and white sugar (in a stand mixing bowl is easiest); Add brown sugar and pudding mix; Beat for about 2 minutes; Add eggs and vanilla; Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda (Optional: Save about a cup of flour and mix with the chocolate chips in a separate bowl).
  • Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
  • Mix the chip/flour mixture in with the dough. The dough gets fairly thick at this point, but that is normal.
  • Form balls of dough by hand or with an ice cream scoop. The dough keeps it shape pretty well when baked, so keep that in mind when choosing size.
  • Bake until the cookies are brown around the edges (I always go by color), about 13-18 minutes.

These always satisfy my sweet tooth and hankering to bake, and I never have an excuse not to make these cookies whenever my dad begs me to–even if he just wants to eat the dough. They’re just so easy on the eyes and hands. I wish I had a batch of these with me right now!

I would love to see any of your results! Are there any other classic cookies or baked goods I should master next?

Your Cookie Connoisseur,

Casey

Tried & True: Deep Dish S’More Cookies

 My first post about a tried & true Pinterest Recipe! 

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With three weeks until I leave, i’m trying to use up all the food or utensils i’ve bought that I know no one else in my family will use. This recipe helped me use up some mini marshmellows I bought, and I finally used the Whoopie Pie pan I got for christmas years ago!

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The recipe, from Cookies and Cups, took some prep with chopping up chocolate bars and smashing graham crackers. It was kind of nice to feel more official, more so than when I can just throw together regular chocolate chip cookies. The actually recipe was smooth sailing until they actually went into the oven!

The suggested 1/3 cup of dough filled the Whoopie Pie pans way too much so that they over-flowed in the oven and made a slight mess. The second batch turned out better, but they were crisper-I think from having more heat around them from the pan. So the over-flowing ones ended up being prettier, and honestly more Instagram worthy, but they were a few centimeters from being a disaster. Luckily they weren’t! I just wish I knew how they were kept in such perfect shape by the original recipe makers in their pictures!

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My instagram reject picture, but they still look pretty good to me! These were the overflow ones

My whole family really enjoyed this recipe. Besides a few small flaws, the posted recipes really is true and great! Everyone should give it a try!

Casey

PS: Let’s make #FoodieFriday a thing