Super Vanilla Cookies

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the new cookbook from Shauna Sever called Pure Vanilla to review. It is a beautiful cookbook with elegant recipes and superb pictures. And it is all dedicated to the lovely aromatic-ness (new word there for you!) and deliciousness of vanilla!

The first few pages are all about vanilla – the history, varieties and some “FAQs” and then there are chapters dedicated to breakfasts, cakes and pies, cookies and bars, candies and confections, custards and creams, and drinks. The recipes all look amazing and I can’t wait to try more!

I started with what is called the “Heirloom Vanilla Sugar Cookies”. They are described to be “sandy textured but tender with a gorgeous pale-golden hue” and that seems pretty accurate! I love the tenderness of the cookie with the delicious “super-vanilla” taste of vanilla. They are definitely worth making again and although there is no reason you can’t make them regularly throughout the year, they would work beautifully as a new addition to your Holiday baking!

Super Vanilla Cookies

adapted slightly from Pure Vanilla, makes about 3 dozen cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup icing/confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder (or another 1 tsp of vanilla)
  • about 1/4 cup Vanilla sugar (I have some as shown in the picture but you can make your own by putting a vanilla bean – even an empty one that you have scraped the bits out of – into 2 cups of white sugar and leaving it for about a week)
  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.
  3. In a small measuring cup, measure the oil and then add the egg and whisk.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar (regular sugar & icing sugar) and butter together until fluffy and pale, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the oil and egg mixture. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
  5. Scoop dough (I used both a 4Tb and a 1.5Tb cookie scoop to get both big and small cookies) onto the cookie sheet. Using the bottom of a drinking glass, dip the glass into the vanilla sugar to coat it and then press it onto the ball of cookie dough to flatten it. The first one won’t pick up a lot of sugar but the moistness of the cookie will provide the moisture to pick up enough sugar for each cookie after (you can re-sugar the first one of course!) You can then sprinkle the cookies with decorative sugar if you want a more festive cookie.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes until pale golden and just slightly browned on the edges. Allow the cookie to cool on the baking sheet 2-3 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

 


Cranberry Burst Pumpkin Cookies

It is time for some fall recipes! Pumpkin & spice and other delicious goodness! I recently made some oatmeal cookies with fresh blueberries in them, which got me thinking about putting other fresh fruits in cookies. Why do the rules say “dried fruit only in cookies”? There is no reason to not put some freshness into them! So just before Thanksgiving (at least the Canadian Thanksgiving), I realized that pumpkin cranberry cookies would be perfect for the season and a great opportunity to try  fresh cranberries in cookies!

Sure they are tart, but the fun ‘burstness’ of these cookies make for a perfect fall cookie! Yes, a new word was required for these cookies. The cranberries added such a bright punch of flavour and colour that it could only be described as ‘burstness’! Anyways, between the burstness, the tartness, the pumpkin’y softness and the spice, these cookies turned out delicious!

Cranberry Burst Pumpkin Cookies

adapted from Best-loved Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla and beat until well mixed.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the wet ingredients while mixing.
  4. Stir in cranberries & cinnamon chips.
  5. Scoop with a cookie scoop or use a spoon and drop onto prepared cookie sheets. I like to do both big cookies (about 4 Tb) and small cookies (1.5 Tb). The bigger ones take about 16 minutes to bake while the small ones take about 12 minutes. The should be set in the middle but they will still be soft.

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Loved-Cookies-Nestle-Toll-House/dp/0696205548


Biscoff Ice Cream

It is one of the questions that I have never liked: what is the best gift you have ever recieved. I hate it because I never really had a good answer. I really loved this one doll I got when I was 5 or 6. She was a bigger doll that was more supposed to resemble a toddler than a baby. She was pretty great but this year, I got something better. And I now have an answer to the troubling question.

I got the Ice Cream Maker Attachment for my Kitchenaid!!

A couple of my close friends went together and bought it for my birthday. One of them bought it just after Boxing Day last year. My birthday was in July. Not only did she keep it a secret from me for over 6 months but she also had to trust her instinct that I would wait for it to go on sale again & not buy it myself before then! Amazon.ca has it for a great deal for the week after Christmas (it was $58) but the rest of the year it is around $90 (most places in Canada sell it for around $120). I had been saving the free Amazon cards I sometimes get at work for doing surveys to get it but was only at $45 so far. I figured I would be waiting until Boxing Day this year in order to get it but I didn’t have to wait!!!! They bought it for me!!! Best gift ever!

My first batch of ‘ice cream’ was Raspberry Frozen Yogurt. It was quite good but it isn’t the recipe I want to share as my first homemade ice cream! The one I want to share is the Biscoff spread Ice Cream. AMAZING. Beyond amazing really. I first heard about this Biscoff spread around the blogging world but immediately realized that it was definitely not something I could get in Canada. That is ok because I go to the States frequently. But I couldn’t find it still! Finally I found the Trader Joe’s version (Cookie Butter) and loved it immediately. I don’t think I used that first jar for anything besides eating it by the spoonful. I might have put some on pancakes. Otherwise, it was all by the spoonful. This stuff is amazing. Basically it is just a spice cookie pulverized to crumbs and mixed with a little coconut oil to make it into the texture of peanut butter (but there are no nuts in it). I don’t know how to emphasize how perfect this stuff is. Seriously. It is perfection. I did eventually find the original Biscoff version. It is also delicious (and what I used for the ice cream) but I think I like the TJ’s version best.

Ok, so I made ice cream with it. It was delicious. Creamy. Spicy. Perfection. If you have an ice cream maker, you need to try it. You will love it. My only regret is that I didn’t take pictures until it was almost gone so it had been in the freezer already a few days (homemade ice cream is really best the first few days… then it gets ice crystals. Maybe I just need a better container to store it in.)

Biscoff Speculoos (Cookie Butter) Ice Cream (adapted from here)

  • 1 cup Biscoff Spread + 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup White Sugar
  • 3-1/4 cups cold Half & Half (or 1 1/4 whole milk + 2 cups whipping cream)
  1. Using either your stand mixer or a bowl and beaters, cream together 1 cup Biscoff spread and sugar.
  2. With the mixer on low, start to add the half & half SLOWLY. I did it too quick and it didn’t blend as well as it could have.
  3. Pour the Biscoff mix into your ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions. I churned my ice cream about 20 minutes on low.
  4. Scoop the ice cream into a airtight container and spoon the extra 2 Tb of Biscoff spread onto the top. Stir it up but don’t actually mix it fully in. The swirl is the BEST part!
  5. Freeze for 4-6 hours. My friend and I ate it within about 2 hours and it was still pretty soft. Still delicious though!

Macadamia Nut White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I know – it has been FOREVER since I last posted something. I will be better now. I really will! I don’t even have any real excuse – too much baking maybe? (In other words, I have done tons of baking but I have been to busy baking & then don’t feel like making effort to post?) Anyways, I am back now!

I don’t like nuts in my baking. But I loved these cookies. I don’t even normally like white chocolate mac nut cookies that much but seriously these were amazing. Chewy & perfect texture. The crunch from the nuts. And the sweet tasty white chocolate pieces. Yum!!

Speaking of Macadamia nuts makes me want to go to Hawaii. I don’t think I ever realized how delicious they are until I went to the Mauna Loa Factory there! Then I was in love. Then I found out that they have the highest amount of fat of all nuts. But if you are eating a cookie with in nuts in them anyways, you may as well have the BEST nuts in there! 🙂

Macadamia Nut White Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from the back of the Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chip package!)

  • Image1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups or 1 pkg white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups Macadamia nuts, chopped (I went with unsalted)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time and then vanilla and beat.
  4. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to dough mix.
  5. Stir in white chips & nuts. Drop/scoop onto cookie sheets.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden and set around the edges. Allow to cool 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Delicious!

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Chocolate-dipped Rolled Sugar Cookies

Well it is time for the Hallmark-made holiday! Valentine’s Day yet again, or as I like to call it – Single’s Night at the Gym! I realize that there are many people who don’t celebrate V-day that are in committed relationships still at the gym on Feb 14 but I like to believe it is single’s night. And if it isn’t, why aren’t there single’s nights at the gym??

When I switched from an all women’s gym to a co-ed gym I thought that I would have more opportunities to meet people but instead I think the guys just get more annoyed because I use their equipment rather than staying on the women’s-only side. (They don’t realize that not only do we not have a proper power/squat rack but our free weights only go up to 30lbs.) So for ‘freaks’ like me that like to lift heavy, we are ‘stuck’ sharing the equipment with the meatheads or the groups of guys that seem to spend more time gossiping than actually working out. There are of course some that don’t fall in either of those categories but I just assume they also don’t fall into the ‘single’ category either so then my time spent in their area of the gym goes to waste for meeting purposes (of course it isn’t wasted entirely – I still get a great workout!)

Anyways, back to these cookies. I have made these cookies for years any time that I have wanted cutout cookies and the recipe always works out. They are soft and buttery and tasty without being overly sweet. It comes from allrecipes.com and it is simply called “The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies” and that it is!

Rolled Sugar Cookies (from allrecipes)

  • 3/4 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. In the bowl of a mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Bead in eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and then add this to the butter/sugar/eggs mix.
  3. Wrap in plastic wrap and refridgerate at least one hour or overnight
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Roll dough out on a WELL-FLOURED surface to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut with desired cookie cutters and place on prepared baking sheets. Reroll dough when necessary.
  6. Bake 6-8 min (careful – if they are thin they will cook fast). Cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
  7. Once cooled, you can either dip them in melted chocolate as I did or you could decorate them with royal icing or you could just eat them plain!

Chewy Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies

Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies: the pictures really don't do them justice

I have started making cookies for a department wide weekly seminar at work. After people have complained for years that the cookies are not to their liking (first they were too sweet and somewhat nauseating on an empty stomach then the next ones were too hard), I finally convinced them to let me make them. To me it was a great opportunity to test out the MANY cookie recipes that I have been wanting to try for years but have not out of fear of eating entire batches of cookies to myself.

So the person that helped me organize this is obsessed with peanut butter cookies. I don’t know a lot of people that would choose a plain peanut butter cookie as their favourite one but he would. Of course that meant that I had to find a perfect peanut butter recipe immediately. This recipe is delicious. Even as a lover of peanut butter I usually prefer my cookies with a little more to them but these are definitely the exception. They are super thick and chewy and have the perfect peanut butter’y richness to make them truly delicious! I need to make them again soon.

The 2nd week I didn’t make any peanut butter cookies – and I was warned.

So with my peanut butter cookie recipes nailed on the first try, now I just have to figure out how to not eat so much dough every week… it is a bad situation. Three batches of cookies each week = 3 times too much dough. Even worse is when I make ginger molasses cookies and the dough needs to sit overnight in the fridge. I ended up making the dough on Sunday and baking the cookies on Wednesday… so that meant the delicious dough sat in my fridge for 3 days… and was munched on somewhat regularly for 3 days. Bad situation. I admit it, I love ginger molasses cookies cookie dough. Shockingly I love it more than chocolate chip cookie dough.

Oh, wait this post was supposed to be about the peanut butter cookies, the dough talk got me thinking about how much I loved having that dough in the fridge. And how bad I may do on my upcoming half marathon because of the junk I have been eating! Coming back to peanut butter but related to the ginger molasses cookies – how many people would think that peanut butter ginger molasses cookies would be good? I have made them before and I think they are fabulous but I am not sure if they appeal to too many others…

Anyways, if you happen to notice a few extra cookie recipes on here in the next few months, now you know why!

Chewy Perfect Peanut Butter Cookies (uh oh, I don’t remember who’s blog I got these from! Sorry!)

  • Butter & Peanut Butter: Creamy & Dreamy

    1 cup peanut butter

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  •  3 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Cream together peanut butter and butter with mixer. Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time and then add vanilla while continuing to beat.
  5. Add the flour mix while continuing to beat.
  6. Spoon/scoop out desired sized cookies. Dip a fork in cool water and use tines to add the familiar cross-hatched pattern.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes (depends on the size of your cookies!). Allow to cool at least 3 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring them to the cooling rack. Then ENJOY!!!

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Mmm... the moose agrees - those look delicious!!

Have I mentioned my cinnamon obsession? I am sure I have. In fact I know I have. Anyways, these are my absolute favourite cookies to make at Christmas – and yes I realize it is now well after Christmas but I am very behind on my posts! So this will have to do for now! I won’t add any other Christmas recipes but this one is SO SO good!

Between the buttery rolled dough is the delicious cinnamon that is reminiscent of a good cinnamon bun. Top that with a little drizzle of icing and you have one amazing cookie! Seriously, I love this cookie! They are the perfect texture and so delicious that they are worth the little extra work it takes to make them!

Cinnamon Roll Cookie (makes about 40 cookies)

Dough
  • The flattened and sprinkled dough.

    3 cups flour

  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Filling
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tb ground cinnamon
Icing
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp meringue powder (optional but it makes it harder and adds a nice textural contrast)
  1. Use the parchment paper and gravity to help you roll it up.

    For the dough, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

  2. Beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer until fluffy and creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to beat until well mixed.
  3. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until incorporated.
  4. For the filling, in a small bowl stir together sugar and cinnamon.
  5. On a piece of parchment paperpat dough into a rectangle, about 9×16 inches,  using your hands. It really helps to wet your hands as the dough is very soft and will stick to your hands.
  6. Sprinkle about 2/3s of the of the cinnamon-sugar over the dough.
  7. Roll the dough into a log from the long side using the paper to help you (see picture). Dust the outside of the log with the remaining cinnamon-sugar. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
  8. Preheat oven to 350° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  9. Slice & Bake! Mmm...

    Slice chilled dough into 1/2 inch thick slices and arrange on the baking sheets about 1.5 inches apart. Bake 10 minutes or so until they just barely begin to get golden. Let sit cool on the baking sheet 3-4 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

  10. Once cooled, mix together the icing ingredients and drizzle over the top. Leave at least an hour to dry. Then ENJOY!