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The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 1: Cookies)

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The High Plains Sifter

Part 1: Cookies

Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude

by Chris Reynolds

Photography by Chris Reynolds

Copyright 2015 by the author of this book Chris Reynolds. The book author retains sole copyright to his contributions to this book.

Recipe Developer: Chris Reynolds

Writer: Chris Reynolds

Graphic Design: Chris Reynolds

Food Stylist: Chris Reynolds

Photographer: Chris Reynolds

Chris Reynolds is a graduate of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, Ireland and owner of Waiting For Gateau, a full-service culinary studio, specializing in high-altitude recipe development and testing; food styling and food photography.

1000 3rd Ave

Longmont, CO 80501

[email protected]

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,

“said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully, “It’s the same thing,” he said.

- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Contents:

Introduction

Cookies:

High-Altitude Baking Notes for Cookies

Maple-Glazed Applesauce Cookies

Classic Shortbread

Jam or Nutella Shortbread Sandwiches

Sugared Shortbread

English Toffee Shortbread

Pecan Lemon Shortbread

Spicy Mexican Shortbread

Maple Walnut Shortbread

Jasmine Shortbread

Earl Grey Shortbread

Lemon-Lime-Basil Shortbread

Lemon Thyme Shortbread

Cranberry Pistachio Shortbread

Honey Rosemary Shortbread

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread

Coconut Shortbread

Chai Shortbread

Sage Shortbread

Cream Cheese Walnut Shortbread

Brittany Biscuits

Almond Biscotti

Honey Lavender Biscotti

Orange Almond Biscotti

Espresso Bean Almond Biscotti

Gingerbread Almond Biscotti

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

Double Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti

Oatmeal Lace Cookies with Cannoli Cream

Oatmeal Lace Florentines

Almond Oatmeal Lace Cookies

Pecan Lace Cookies

Pecan Tassies

Moreo Cookies

Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate-Black Pepper Cookies

Brandysnaps

Espresso Tuiles

Nut Tuiles

Whoohoo! Pies

Whoohoo! Pies with Peppermint Filling

Peanut Butter Cookies

Almond Butter Cookies

Cashew Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bangalore Peanut Butter Cookies

Thai-Inspired Spicy Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter-Toffee Turtle Cookies

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies

Peanut Butter Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Tetons

Myra’s Nutmeg Logs

Cranberry White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

Pine Nut Cookies

Chocolate Crackles

Honey Truffle Cookies

Jam Thumbprints

Coconut Salted Caramel Thumbprints

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tropical Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

Coconut-Macadamia Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal White Chocolate Peach Cookies

Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

Grandma’s Grape-Nuts Cookies

Oatmeal Pies

Salty Oat Cookies

Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Serious Chocolate Chip Cookies

Serious Chocolate Chip Cookies with Nuts

Serious White Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Cookie

Walnut/Pecan Cookies

Chunky Chocolate Hazelnut Toffee Cookies

Malted Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies

Holiday Sugar Cookies

Lemon Lavender Sugar Cookies

Swedish Almond Cardamom Stars

Eggnog Sugar Cookies

Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Orange Gingerbread Cookies with Rum Glaze

White Chocolate Fudge Drops

“Chunky Bar” Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Drops

Nutty Jammy Rugelach

Raspberry Chocolate Rugelach

Espresso Pecan Wedding Cookies

Gingerbread Whoopee Pies

Fell’s Point Sliders

Double-Ginger Crackles

Linzer Cookies

Almond Truffle Cookies

Cinnamon Birch Twigs

Mudslide Cookies

Sardinian Spice Cookies

Benne Wafers

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies

Espresso Truffle Cookies

Hazelnut Mocha Sandwich Cookies

Lime Melting Moments

Lemon Melting Moments

Orange Melting Moments

Vanilla Melting Moments

Chocolate Melting Moments

Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Chocolate Caramel Cookies

Joe Frogger Molasses Cookies

Graham Crackers

Cinnamon-Sugar Graham Crackers

Italian Almond Macaroons

Italian Hazelnut Macaroons

White Chocolate Peppermint Drops

Maple Walnut Cookies

Chocolate Pecan Thumbprints

Turtle Cookies

Tart Cherry Wafers

Tart Cranberry Wafers

Snickerdoodles

White Chocolate Snickerdoodles

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Lemon Dreamsicle Cookies

Technicolor Dream Cookies

 

 

Introduction (for the entire series)

From The Slopes To The Shore…

Are you tired? Are you tired of fancy (or not so fancy) baking books by fancy chefs with even fancier recipes that just don’t measure up to all that hype? Are you tired of recipe failures while on a ski holiday or just because you live above 3000 feet? Are you tired of passion fruit foams and green tea cookies when all you want is a chocolate chip cookie recipe that will work every single time? Do you need a pie for the long summer weekend; or a quick, yummy after school treat; or a simple cake with effortless style to make your neighbors jealous; or a truffle that will awaken the mad passionate desires of your lover and make them beg for more? Psssst, do you want a chocolate chip cookie now? No, I mean a really good chocolate chip cookie? Well, let’s make that chocolate chip cookie together. It’s easy and I can show you how.

Family Recipes From My Home To Yours…

Come with me on a family journey through baking where the luck of the Irish gives way to solid science and produces a collection of family baking favorites that your family will cherish for years to come. This debut collection from Irish-trained chef, Chris Reynolds, celebrates the landscape of his family’s baking tradition and contains 323 “master” recipes and 582 recipe variations. This cookbook is a wide-ranging, comprehensive collection chock-full of beloved classics like chewy gingerbread cookies, triple-chocolate brownies, jalapeno cheddar corn bread, shoofly pie, sour cream coffeecake, fresh peach ice cream, crunchy granola, and the best pizza crust ever. This is an inspired collection of classics and contemporary twists where we tease traditional flavours and let you know you’ve just had something special. Classics with attitude and altitude.

High-Altitude Baking that Really Works…

You’ll learn that it’s possible to serve a from-scratch comfort food classic like buttermilk biscuits on a weeknight when time is tight or a high-altitude cake on your skiing holiday that won’t fall flat. In addition to foolproof recipes, all the recipes were tested at high-altitude by the author, himself. Each high-altitude adjustment is precise to give success at 5200ft (Denver, Colorado). In addition, each chapter introduction gives insights into high-altitude baking and tips on adjusting your own recipes.

Retro-Modern???

Chris Reynolds is a professional baker trained at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland by the famed cooking teachers Darina and Rachel Allen. While he embraces an artisan philosophy, emphasizing the freshest organic ingredients, sound techniques, and from-scratch baking; he’s also well aware that stirring a caramel on the stove for 90 minutes is a drag. “I wanted recipes that people would embrace, enjoy and actually make. No one, not even me, is going make a cookie that requires me to stand at the stove for 90 minutes. That’s just not practical in our modern world.” This book embraces a “retro-modern” approach. Old-fashioned recipes are updated for modern life. That could mean streamlining the steps, using modern flavour combinations, using different techniques to give fool-proof results, or even scaling a recipe to feed a family of four.

A Photo of Every Recipe…

If the easy, care-free recipes don’t grab you, then the stunning full-colour photos of every recipe surely will. This book is a delight for the eyes as well as the palate. This is homey, doable baking at its best – a lively, in-depth portrait of a family who loves to bake. Pass me another truffle!

High-Altitude Baking Notes for Cookies:

Because cookies bake for a shorter amount of time than bread or cakes, and are relatively low in water and high in fat content, they’re much less susceptible to the effects of high-altitude.

The principle adjustments recommended for cookies baked at higher altitudes are to increase the water slightly, to help the dough come together, and to decrease the amount of sugar used. Because of the lower boiling point of water and increased evaporation, sugars tend to get concentrated. Cookies will tend to taste sweeter than usual and may develop a sugary crust. If the cookie is on the “cakey side,” you may need to reduce the amount of chemical leavening (baking powder, baking soda) used.

Possible adjustments:

When trying a new recipe written for sea-level, I always follow the directions as written and then evaluate the results. As you gain confidence and experience, you will be able to detect the “trouble spots” in each recipe and make some basic changes ahead of time.

Different types of baked goods need different adjustments and each recipe is unique. Sometimes, a recipe might only need one of these adjustments, sometimes, they will need them all. Always keep high-altitude notes in the margin of each recipe and you will begin to see patterns and tendencies.

All of the photographs in the book were baked and photographed at my home in Longmont, Colorado. If they work in my home, they should work in yours.

Baking Powder / Baking Soda (for when your recipe ‘falls’ in the oven):

Decrease each teaspoon by: 0 to 1/8 teaspoon (3,000ft); 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon (5,000ft); 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (7,000ft); 1/2 to 2/3 teaspoon (10,000ft).

Flour (for when your recipe ‘falls’ in the oven):

Increase each cup by: 0 to 1 tablespoon (3,000ft); 1 to 2 tablespoons (5,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (7,000ft); 2 to 4 tablespoons (10,000ft). (I find this to be a rare adjustment in cookies unless they are very cakey, such as whoopee pies.)

Eggs (for when your recipe ‘falls’ in the oven or seems dry):

I’ve found that adding one extra egg to many recipes is a great help. The egg helps the batter to set by adding protein and they add a little more moisture. (This is a rare adjustment in cookies, brownies, or pies, but it is a great help in cakes and quick breads.)

Sugar (for when your recipe seems too sweet or forms a sugary crust):

Decrease each cup by: 0 to 1 tablespoon (3,000ft); 1 to 2 tablespoons (5,000ft); 2 to 4 tablespoons (7,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (10,000ft).

Liquid (for when your recipe seems unusually dry):

Increase each cup by: 0 to 2 tablespoons (3,000ft); 2 to 4 tablespoons (5,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (7,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (10,000ft).

Fats (for when your recipe seems unusually greasy):

Decrease each cup by: 0 tablespoon (3,000ft); 1 tablespoon (5,000ft); 1 1/2 tablespoons (7,000ft); 2 tablespoons (10,000ft).

Maple-Glazed Applesauce Cookies

These cookies are like taking a bite out of a New England autumn day. I like using Golden Delicious apples when baking. They provide the perfect balance of sweet and tart and they keep their shape very well.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1/2 cup chunky applesauce

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup finely diced apple (I used golden delicious)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl; set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. Add the egg and applesauce; mix on low speed until combined. Stir in the flour, pecans, oats, and apples by hand until fully incorporated.

Use a 2-inch diameter scoop (3 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart.

Bake 15-18 minutes until golden and just set. Let the cookies sit on the pan 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Cool completely before glazing.

Maple Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1-3 tablespoons water

Whisk together the sugar and syrup until smooth. Add enough water to make a glaze that easily flows from the spoon. Using a small spoon or fork, drizzle the glaze over the cookies. Maple is an assertive flavor, so go easy or it will overpower the apples.

Makes about 18 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar in the cookies by 3 tablespoons.

Classic Shortbread

This is one ‘master’ recipe that every baker should have in their arsenal. It is a blank canvas just waiting for you to add your favorite flavours.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

powdered sugar for dusting

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the sugar and the butter together on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until combined. Add the vanilla and the flour mixture and mix on low speed until the dough forms. Press the dough into a 6-inch disk with the palm of your hand, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Roll the dough on a well-floured surface to 1/4- inch thick. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut the dough.

Place the cookies on the prepared sheet pan and bake 15-17 minutes until set and slightly golden around the edges. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Makes about 18, 3 inch cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Shortbread Jam or Nutella Sandwiches: Cookies can be sandwiched with jam or chocolate hazelnut spread.

Sugared Shortbread: Beat 1 egg white with 1 teaspoon water until just combined. Brush each baked and cooled cookie with egg white and then sprinkle with sugar. Wait 2 minutes before shaking off the excess sugar.

English Toffee Shortbread: Add 1/2 cup finely chopped toffee (plain or chocolate coated) with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Lemon-Pecan Shortbread: Add 1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest to the butter mixture and 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Spicy Mexican Shortbread: Add 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder, 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder and 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Lemon-Thyme Shortbread: Add 1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest to the butter mixture and 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Maple-Walnut Shortbread: Add 2 teaspoons maple extract to the sugar mixture and 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Jasmine Shortbread: Add 2 tablespoons finely-ground jasmine tea (from about 4 teabags) along with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Earl Grey Shortbread: Add 2 tablespoons finely-ground earl grey tea (from about 4 teabags) along with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Lemon-Lime-Basil Shortbread: Add 1 tablespoon of grated lemon zest and 1 tablespoon of grated lime zest along with the butter; add 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves along with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Cranberry-Pistachio Shortbread: Add 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries and 1/4 cup chopped pistachios along with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Honey-Rosemary Shortbread: Add 3 tablespoons honey along with the sugar and 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary along with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread: Proceed as directed. Once the cookies have cooled, melt 12 ounces of dark chocolate candy coating (I use Wilton brand) according to the package instructions. Dip as much of the cookie you’d like into the melted chocolate and let them set on a wire cooling rack set over a sheet pan. (I like to dip only half of the cookie.)

Coconut Shortbread: Add 2/3 cup toasted* sweetened coconut along with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed. *To toast the coconut: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the coconut on a sheet pan and bake until it is light golden, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on it - it burns quickly.

Chai Shortbread: Add 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves along with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Sage Shortbread: Add 1 teaspoon dried sage along with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Cream Cheese-Walnut Shortbread: Reduce the butter to 1/2 cup. Add 1/4 cup softened cream cheese along with the butter and sugar. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts with the flour mixture. Proceed as directed.

Brittany Biscuits: Add 1 teaspoon almond extract along with the vanilla extract. Proceed as directed. Roll out the dough and cut into 2 1/2-inch disks with a biscuit cutter and place on the sheet pan. In a small bowl, whisk together one large egg and 1 tablespoon water. With a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash. Let them stand for 5 minutes and brush them again. Using a sharp pairing knife, score each cookie in a shallow “lattice” pattern. Bake the cookies for 22-25 minutes until they are golden brown.

Almond Biscotti

This is one of the great café classics. You’ll be amazed how simple they are to make with a little practice.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

grated zest of one medium lemon

1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted (optional)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup chopped almonds

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, mix the sugar and eggs together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and thickened. Mix in the grated lemon zest, fennel seeds, and vanilla on low speed until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and almonds and mix on low speed until the dough is just combined. Divide the dough in half and place each half onto the prepared sheet pan. Flour your hands and stretch each portion of dough into a 10-by-2 inch log.

Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Place the pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, reduce the oven temperature to 325° F.

Transfer each loaf to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut each loaf diagonally into 1/2-3/4 inch slices. Place the slices back on the sheet pan, cut side up.

Return to the oven and bake another 15-20 minutes until golden and dry to the touch. Cool on the pan for 3-5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Makes about 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Variation:

Honey-Lavender Biscotti: Omit the lemon, fennel seeds, and almonds. Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to the flour mixture. Reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup. Add 4 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons grated orange zest, and 1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers to the sugar mixture. Proceed as directed.

Orange-Almond Biscotti: Omit the lemon. Add the grated zest of two oranges. Proceed as directed.

Espresso Bean-Almond Biscotti: Omit the lemon. Add 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped espresso beans along with the almonds. Proceed as directed.

Gingerbread Biscotti: Omit the lemon. Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves along with the flour. Proceed as directed. Once cooled, dip one end of the cookie in melted white chocolate. Place the biscotti on parchment paper until the chocolate sets.

Double Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

Coffee and chocolate are a match made in heaven. Instant coffee is a great ‘secret weapon’ to have in your pantry. You won’t be able to taste the coffee, but the coffee makes the chocolate flavour shine.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons instant coffee

1 cup walnuts; toasted and coarsely chopped

3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, vanilla and coffee and mix to combine. Mix in the flour mixture, the nuts and chocolate chips until the dough is just combined and begins to come together. On a floured board, press the dough together and flatten into a disc.

Divide the dough in half and turn each portion onto the prepared sheet pan. Flour your hands and stretch each portion of dough into a 10 by 2-1/2 inch log.

Bake 30-35 minutes. Place the pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, reduce the oven temperature to 325° F.

Transfer each warm loaf to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut each loaf diagonally into 1/2-3/4 inch slices. Place the slices back on the sheet pan, cut side up.

Return to the oven and bake another 15-20 minutes until dry to the touch. Cool on the pan for 3-5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Makes about 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Variations::

Double Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscotti: Omit the almonds and add 3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts (filberts). Proceed as directed.

Chocolate-Cranberry Biscotti: Omit the mini chocolate chips and add 3/4 cup chopped dried cranberries. Proceed as directed.

Mix Things Up: Try a variety of chopped nuts or dried fruits such as cherries, apricots, blueberries. Proceed as directed.

Oatmeal Lace Cookies with Cannoli Cream

I developed this recipe when I lived in Wisconsin and there were no Italian markets around where I could buy cannoli shells. So, I took one of my mother’s favorite cookies and used them for cannolis. Don’t forget to fill the cookies just before serving so that they don’t become soggy. Nobody wants a soggy cannoli.

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the salt, brown sugar, and corn syrup. Stir in the flour, butter, vanilla and oats.

Drop the batter onto the prepared sheet pan using a measuring tablespoon. Leave plenty of room since the cookies will spread a great deal. (I found 3 cookies per pan to be ideal.)

Bake until the edges are brown, about 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes. Lift the cookies with a spatula and roll them around a 1-inch diameter dowel and leave them to cool for 2-3 minutes. Once they are set, slide them off the dowel and cool them on a wire rack. Repeat until the batter is used up.

Cannoli Cream:

3 cups whole milk ricotta cheese, room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix together the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, confectioners sugar, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer on low speed until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is well combined. When ready to serve, pipe the filling into the cookies using a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.

Makes 22 cookies.

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons in the cookies.

Variations:

Oatmeal Lace Florentines: Proceed as above except use a measuring teaspoon to portion the batter. Bake for 8 minutes and leave to cool flat on the sheet pan. Melt 8 ounces milk chocolate. Spread a small amount of chocolate on the back of half of the cookies and lay another cookie on top to make a sandwich. Leave to cool and set.

Almond Oatmeal Lace Cookies: Add 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted almonds along with the oats. Proceed as directed.

Pecan Lace Cookies: Replace the oats with 1 cup finely chopped, pecans. Proceed as directed.

Pecan Tassies

Who wouldn’t love a little bite-size pecan pie? This has always been a holiday favorite in my family. We even served them as dessert at Thanksgiving when we just wanted a little bite of dessert.

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

With an electric mixer, mix the cream cheese and the butter on medium speed until well blended. Add the sugar, flour, and salt and mix just until the dough comes together. On a floured board, flatten the dough into a 6-inch disk, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thick. Using a round cutter slightly wider than the opening of the mini-muffin cup, cut enough discs for your mini-muffin pan. Lightly spray the muffin pan with vegetable oil spray. Gently, press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of each cup.

Pecan Filling:

2 large eggs

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon brandy extract

2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped

whole pecan halves (optional)

Whisk the eggs, sugar, syrup, vanilla, brandy extract, butter, and salt together in a small bowl. Place 1 teaspoon of the chopped pecans into each muffin cup then spoon 1 1/2 teaspoons of the filling over the nuts. Place a pecan half on top, if desired.

Bake for 15-18 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack then unmold.

Makes 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar in the filling by 1 tablespoon.

Moreo Cookies

These are very close to the original but much more satisfying since you made them yourself. If you can find Special Dark cocoa powder, use it. It’s what gives these cookies their deep, dark colour.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder)

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon instant coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon instant coffee

1 large egg, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and coffee on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and beat until the dough is well combined.

Press the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch and cut out the cookies with a 2-inch round cutter.

Bake 10-12 minutes until they are firm. It’s easy to burn dark cookies, so bake them by time and not how they look. Cool on the pan for 3 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Place a small dollop of cream filling on the flat side of the cooled cookies and place another cookie on top.

Vanilla Cream Filling:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Cream the butter and shortening with a mixer. On low speed, gradually add the sugar and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Makes 14-16 sandwiches

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar in the cookies by 2 tablespoons.

Variations:

Chocolate-Mint Sandwich Cookies: Substitute 2 teaspoons peppermint extract for the vanilla extract in the cream filling. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate-Black Pepper Cookies: Omit the cream filling. Add 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper and 1/2 cup finely chopped dried cherries along with the flour. Proceed as directed.

Brandysnaps

This is a play on a traditional French tuile cookie. They are lacey and crispy and so adaptable. If you are planning to shape the cookies, bake only a few at a time. If the cookies cool too much and you can’t shape them, just pop the baking tray back in the oven for 2-3 minutes. The cookies should soften enough to shape.

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup dark corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon brandy extract

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a heavy saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon, and ginger. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat; stir in the flour, vanilla extract and brandy extract.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto the prepared sheet pan; about 4 inches apart. (Do not bake more than 3 or 4 cookies at a time.)

Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 60-90 seconds. With quick hands, remove the cookies with a thin spatula and immediately roll them around a 1/4-inch diameter wooden dowel (or the handle of a wooden spoon) to make a “cigarette.” Cool on the dowel for 3-5 minutes. Once the cookie is set, slide it off the dowel and cool completely on a wire rack.

Notes: You may need to wipe the sheet pan with a paper towel between batches as melted butter tends to accumulate. As the batter sits, it will begin to set-up like crystallized honey, but don’t worry, it will bake up fine.

Decorating Options:

1) Fill the center with your favorite buttercream frosting or ganache.

2) Dip one end in tempered chocolate and roll in nuts or coconut.

3) Mold the cookie over a muffin cup to form a “cookie bowl” for ice cream.

Makes 44, 3-inch cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Espresso Tuiles: Omit the ginger. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts and 1/4 cup crushed espresso beans to the batter with the flour.

Nut Tuiles: Omit the ginger. Increase the vanilla to 1 teaspoon and add 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts with the flour.

Woohoo! Pies

My friend gave me grief for using a box cake mix. I figure that we can all use a little helping hand in the kitchen from time to time.

1 (18 ounce) box of chocolate fudge cake mix

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon instant coffee

1 large egg, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

Whisk together the cake mix, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the cheese, butter, vanilla, and coffee on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Beat in the egg. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until the batter is combined.

Use a 2-inch diameter scoop (3 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 4 inches apart.

Bake for 14 minutes. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will fall slightly as they cool – this is normal. The cookies will remain soft. Sandwich two cookies with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cream filling.

Cream Filling:

1 vanilla bean

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons very hot water

2 cups (one 7-ounce jar) marshmallow fluff

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Split the vanilla pod lengthwise with a sharp knife. Scrape the interior of the pod with the back of the knife to remove the pulp and seeds. Dissolve the salt in the hot water. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.

Makes 28 cookies or 14 sandwich cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Whoohoo! Pies with Peppermint Filling: Add 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract to the cream filling.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Does it get any more American than this? I don’t think so. I like my cookies on the soft-and-chewy side. If you prefer them crisper, bake for and additional 2-3 minutes.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 cup chunky peanut butter

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla and mix well. On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until the dough is thoroughly combined. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Use a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop (2 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart. Using a fork dipped in flour, make cross marks by pushing down slightly on the top of the cookies.

Bake 11-12 minutes until lightly golden brown. The center of the cookie should look slightly underdone – it will continue to cook as it cools. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 42 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the granulated sugar by 3 tablespoons.

Variations:

Almond Butter Cookies: Substitute almond butter for the peanut butter. Proceed as directed.

Cashew Butter Cookies: Substitute cashew butter for the peanut butter. Proceed as directed.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Stir in 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips into the finished dough and portion using a slightly larger 2-inch diameter scoop. Do not press the cookies down with a fork. Proceed as directed. These cookies will take 15-16 minutes to bake due to the larger size.

Bangalore Peanut Butter Cookies (Pictured): Add 1 teaspoon curry powder with the butter and sugar. Proceed as directed.

Thai-Inspired Peanut Butter Cookies: Add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper with the butter and sugar. Stir in 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut before baking. Proceed as directed.

Peanut Butter-Toffee Turtle Cookies: Stir in 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 3/4 cup crushed toffee pieces (without chocolate) into the finished dough. Do not press the dough down with a fork. Melt 8 ounces of soft vanilla caramel candies with 1 tablespoon heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat; stirring constantly until the mixture is melted and smooth. Place the cooled cookies on a wire cooling rack over a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle the caramel back-and-forth over the cookies with a small spoon or fork. Let cookies cool and set at room temperature.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies: With an electric mixer, cream together 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, 3/4 cup powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons milk or cream. Sandwich the cookies with 2 tablespoons of the peanut butter filling.

Peanut Butter-Bacon Cookies: Stir in 3/4 cup crumbled crispy cooked bacon (about 8 rashers) into the finished dough and portion using a slightly larger 2-inch diameter scoop. Proceed as directed.

Peanut Butter-Bacon-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Stir in 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 3/4 cup crumbled crispy cooked bacon (about 8 rashers) into the finished dough and portion using a slightly larger 2-inch diameter scoop. Do not press the dough down with a fork. Proceed as directed. These cookies will take 15-16 minutes to bake due to the larger size.

(Bangalore Peanut Butter Cookies)

Chocolate Tetons

Here is another classic from Grandma Mimlitsch’s holiday cookie tray. Don’t be tempted to substitute butter for the shortening. The cookies will spread too much and you won’t get the classic mounded shape.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

granulated sugar, for rolling

48 milk chocolate “kisses”, unwrapped

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the granulated sugar and Kisses. Mix with an electric mixer on low speed until a stiff dough forms.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls; roll them in granulated sugar. Place the balls of dough 3 inches apart onto the prepared sheet pan.

Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Immediately top each cookie with 1 chocolate Kiss, pressing down so the cookie cracks around the edges. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 48 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Myra’s Nutmeg Logs

This is the ultimate Christmas cookie with it’s eggnog scent. They are perfect with a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon. Because nutmeg is the main flavouring, grating it fresh is the best way to go.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons rum flavoring

1 large egg

ground nutmeg for dusting

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla and rum flavoring on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour mixture gradually and mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Flatten the dough into a 6-inch diameter disk with the palm of your hand and wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces. On a lightly-floured surface, shape each piece of dough into a long rope, 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut into 2 1/2-inch lengths.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until a light golden brown. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Spread each cookie with frosting in a rustic manner to resemble the craggy surface of a log. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.

Nutmeg Frosting:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon rum flavoring

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2-3 tablespoons milk or half-and-half

Cream butter, vanilla extract and rum flavoring with an electric mixer on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. On low speed, beat in sugar gradually alternating with cream. Beat well on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth.

Makes about 45 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Cranberry-White Chocolate Cookies

This is a festive take on the old chocolate chip cookie. Macadamia nuts are a bitch to chop. Half of them seem to disintegrate into dust in the process. If I can find chopped macadamia nuts in the store, I use them. It just seems a little less wasteful. Don’t be tempted to chop them in a food processor, they will turn to mush in a second.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups dried cranberries

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

1 cup coarsely chopped, roasted, salted macadamia nuts

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, soda and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1-2 minutes; until just combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time and add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Stir in the in the cranberries, chocolate chips, and nuts. Chill the mixture for 15-20 minutes.

Use a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop (2 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart.

Bake 15-18 minutes until just golden. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 32 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Pine Nut Cookies

This recipe comes from my sister. She would make them all the time for parties. They are not too sweet with a hint of European chic.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups pine nuts (about 7 ounces); divided

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed almond paste, crumbled

grated zest of one small lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large egg whites

powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

Pulse 3/4 cup pine nuts, sugar, almond paste, grated lemon zest, and vanilla in a food processor until a crumbly mixture forms. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the egg whites by hand until smooth. Add the flour mixture and mix until smooth and sticky. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Place the remaining pine nuts in a bowl. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough, one at a time, into the pine nuts. Lightly press the dough into the nuts so they stick to the top and sides. Transfer the nut-covered dough to the prepared baking sheet; spacing 2-3 inches apart; nut side up. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bake 16-17 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar.

Makes 36 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons

Chocolate Crackles

These are always a crowd-pleaser. Dramatic and chocolaty. I find it easier to portion the dough while it’s soft and then chill them. I’ve bent several spoons and scoops trying to portion out cold dough. This dough gets particularly stiff when cold.

1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

1/3 cup whole milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler; set aside and let cool slightly. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cocoa powder in a bowl; set aside. Dissolve the instant coffee in the milk; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. On low speed, mix in the eggs one at a time and vanilla. Mix in the melted chocolate until combined. On low speed, mix in the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk mixture.

Using a scoop, place 1-inch diameter balls of dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. You can place the balls as close together as you’d like. Chill the balls of dough for one hour, until firm.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Roll each chilled ball of dough in granulated sugar to coat, then roll it in powdered sugar to coat. (This is a great activity for kids.) Space each ball 3 inches apart on the prepared sheet pan.

Bake 14-16 minutes. The surface should be cracked. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 60 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 3 tablespoons.

Honey Truffle Cookies

As you can tell by now, I love using scoops to portion cookie dough. I feel they are well worth the small investment and you will use them all the time. Such a timesaver and no children (or adults) fighting over which cookie is bigger. I like using a lighter honey such as wildflower or clover for this recipe. The honey really shines.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup wildflower honey

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl; set aside.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and honey together over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. Pour the honey mixture over the flour mixture and stir to combine.

Use a 1 1/4-inch scoop (1 tablespoon) to portion the batter onto the prepared sheet pans 3 inches apart.

Bake 10-12 minutes until golden. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Sandwich the cookies together with a heaping teaspoon of chocolate filling. Allow to set completely – about 2 hours.

Truffle Filling:

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the cream, chocolate, salt, and vanilla together in a double boiler over low heat and stir until melted together and smooth. Cool until a thick spreading consistency (about 30 minutes)

Makes about 18 sandwiches

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar in the cookies by 1 tablespoon.

Jam Thumbprints

These old-fashioned cookies always look impressive on a buffet or for a holiday cookie swap. The nice thing is that you can mix up the jam flavours and make everyone happy.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

2 1/2 cups (7 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup of your favorite jam

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed for 1-2 minutes, until just combined. On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until the dough starts to come together. Place the dough on a floured board and press together into a flat, 6-inch diameter disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl; set aside.

Pinch off a tablespoon of dough and roll into a 1 1/4-inch ball. Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll in coconut. Place the balls 3 inches apart on a sheet pan and press a light indentation into the top of each with a measuring spoon (or your thumb like Grandma would do it). Drop 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each indentation.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 32 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Variation:

Coconut Salted Caramel Thumbprints: Omit the jam. Prepare and bake the cookies as directed leaving the indentation empty. After baking for 10 minutes, use a rounded measuring spoon to repress the indentation. (I found a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon to be the prefect size.) Continue baking for 10-15 more minutes. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, repress the indentation with the measuring spoon. Prepare the caramel filling: place 30 soft vanilla caramels and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until the caramels are melted and smooth. Spoon the melted caramel into the indentations in the cookie and sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt, such as Maldon.

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

Who doesn’t love oatmeal cookies? Surprise everyone at your next fancy dinner party by making oatmeal pies for dessert. Trust me, you’ll be the talk of the neighborhood.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

3/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans

1 cup raisins

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until just combined. On medium speed, add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in the oats, nuts, and raisins by hand. Let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Use a 2-inch diameter scoop (3 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart.

Bake 12-16 minutes. The cookies should look slightly underdone when finished, that’s okay. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 30 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the brown sugar by 3 tablespoons; increase the flour by 2 tablespoons.

Variations:

Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Reduce the oats to 2 1/2 cups. Omit the raisins. Add 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips. Proceed as directed.

Tropical Oatmeal Coconut Cookies: Add 2 tablespoons honey with the butter and sugars. Omit the raisins and pecans. Reduce the oats to 2 cups. Add 2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut. Proceed as directed.

Coconut-Macadamia Nut Oatmeal Cookies: Omit the cinnamon. Add 2 tablespoons honey with the butter and sugars. Reduce the raisins to 1/2 cup. Substitute chopped macadamia nuts for the pecans. Reduce the oats to 2 cups. Add 1 1/2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut. Proceed as directed.

Oatmeal-White Chocolate-Peach Cookies: Reduce the oats to 2 1/2 cups. Omit the raisins. Add 3/4 cups white chocolate chips and 3/4 cup chopped dried peaches. Proceed as directed.

Oatmeal-Toffee Cookies: Omit the raisins. Add 3/4 cup toffee bits (with or without chocolate) along with the oats. Proceed as directed.

Grandma’s Grape-Nuts Cookies: Reduce the brown sugar to 1 cup. Add 1/4 cup honey along with the sugar. Omit the raisins. Reduce the rolled oats to 2 cups. Add 1 cup “grape-nuts” cereal along with the oats. Proceed as directed.

Oatmeal Pies: Make the crème filling by mixing 2 cups marshmallow crème, 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Sandwich two cookies together with 2 tablespoons of the filling. Proceed as directed.

Salty Oat Cookies: Omit the cinnamon, raisins, and pecans. Proceed as directed. Using a 2-inch diameter scoop (3 tablespoons), scoop the cookies and place 6 per sheet pan. With slightly damp fingers, flatten the cookies to 3/4 inch thick. Sprinkle a few grains of flaky sea salt, such as Maldons, on the top. Bake as directed.

Spiced Oatmeal Cookies: Add 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves along with the cinnamon. Proceed as directed.

Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies: Reduce the oats to 2 cups. Omit the raisins. Stir in 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup dried cranberries along with the oatmeal. Proceed as directed.

Serious Chocolate Chip Cookies

I used to call these “troll house cookies”. I changed the name so that little kids don’t think that there are actual trolls in the recipe or that I was an old troll, for that matter. The famous recipe on the bag is good, but this is so much better. A couple minor changes can make all the difference.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs

3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour, soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until just combined (do not cream the butter and sugar as thought you were making a cake). On medium speed, add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Use a 2-inch diameter scoop (3 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart.

Bake 15-17 minutes so that they look slightly underdone. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 28 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the brown sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Variations:

Serious Chocolate Chip Cookies With Nuts: Reduce the chips to 2 cups and add 1 cup chopped toasted nuts. Walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts all work very well. Proceed as directed.

Serious White Chocolate-Hazelnut Cookies: Reduce the chips to 2 cups and substitute white chocolate chips for the semisweet chocolate chips. Add 1 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts along with the chips. Proceed as directed.

Whole Grain-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Reduce the all-purpose flour to 1 3/4 cups and add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. Proceed as directed.

Serious Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Reduce the butter to 1/2 cup. Add 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter. Melt the butter and peanut butter together in a small saucepan over low heat , stirring until smooth. Proceed as directed.

Walnut/Pecan Cookies: Omit the chocolate chips and stir in 2 1/2 cups toasted chopped walnuts or pecans. Proceed as directed.

Chunky Chocolate-Hazelnut-Toffee Cookies: Substitute 2 cups chocolate chunks for the chocolate chips. Stir in 1 cup toasted, coarsely chopped hazelnuts and 1 cup chopped English toffee candy bars. Proceed as directed.

Malted Milk-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Add 1/2 cup malted milk powder along with the butter and sugar. Proceed as directed.

Holiday Sugar Cookies

These cookies are delicate in flavour yet sturdy enough to decorate. We used these cookies to decorate our Christmas tree when I was a child. If you want to hang them on the Christmas tree, use a wooden skewer to make a small hole at the top of the cookie before baking.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3 tablespoons whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, mix together the sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, and egg on medium speed until well combined. On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until incorporated.

Place the dough on a well-floured board and flatten it into a 6-inch diameter disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

On a lightly-floured surface, roll out 1/2 of the dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut out cookies with floured cookie cutters. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet pan.

Bake 12 minutes until the edges are light brown. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

To sugar the cookies, brush the cooled cookies with lightly beaten egg white and spoon sugar over them to cover. Wait 30 seconds and tip off the excess sugar. Allow to dry for 3 hours.

Makes about 32 cookies

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the flour by 2 tablespoons.

Variations:

Lemon-Lavender Sugar Cookies: Add 1 teaspoon finely minced dried lavender and the grated zest of 1 small lemon with the butter and sugar. Proceed as directed.

Swedish Almond-Cardamom Stars: Add 1 teaspoon almond extract along with the vanilla. Add 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom along with the flour. Proceed as directed. Cutting them into star shapes is traditional. Glaze the cookies with 2 cups powdered sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons whole milk.

Eggnog Sugar Cookies: Add 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg along with the flour. Add 1 teaspoon rum extract and 1/2 teaspoon brandy extract along with the vanilla extract. Proceed as directed.

Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

I love spice cookies (and so does my dog).

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup molasses

2 tablespoons whole milk

In an electric mixer, combine the flour, brown sugar, soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt and mix on low speed until combined. Add the butter and mix on med-low speed for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture looks like wet sand. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the molasses and milk and mix for 10 seconds, until thoroughly combined.

Scrape the dough onto a very lightly floured work surface and divide it in half. Flatten each pile of dough into a 6-inch disc, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to 3/16-inch thick. Use floured cookie cutters to cut out the cookies. Place the cookies on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until just set in the center. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 30 3-inch cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Orange Gingerbread Cookies With Rum Glaze: Add the grated zest from 1 orange along with the flour. Cut the dough out into 3-inch circles and bake as directed. Once the cookies are cool, glaze them with a mixture of 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, and 2 tablespoons dark rum. Let the glaze dry for 1 hour.

White Chocolate Fudge Drops

These are like brownies in cookie form. The best part is that you mix everything up in a bowl. No electric mixer needed. These make excellent ice cream sandwiches.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (optional)

1 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour, salt, and allspice in a bowl; set aside.

Melt 1 1/3 cups chocolate chips in a large microwaveable bowl on high 1-2 minutes until completely melted. Scrape the melted chocolate into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool for 3-4 minutes.

Stir the butter, brown sugar, vanilla, eggs, and coffee into the melted chocolate and mix well. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the white chocolate chips, remaining semi-sweet chocolate, and nuts. Let the dough rest 15 minutes.

Use a 2-inch diameter scoop (3 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart.

Bake 14 minutes until the cookies look puffed. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 16 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the brown sugar by 1 tablespoon.

Variations:

“Chunky Bar” Cookies: Omit the white chocolate chips, the second addition of semi-sweet chocolate chips, and the walnuts. Add 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts and 1 cup raisins. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Fudge Drops: Omit the white chocolate chips and the second addition of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Stir in 1 cup peanut butter chips along with the other chips. Proceed as directed.

Nutty Jammy Rugelach

I used to sneak off to Heller’s Bakery that was right behind my apartment in Washington, D.C. where they sold rugelach by the pound. Cookies by the pound – genius! Once again, you can mix things up and use your favorite jam and nuts.

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

cinnamon sugar (1 teaspoon cinnamon plus 3 tablespoons sugar) for dusting

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until combined. Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla and mix until combined.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined.

Place the dough on a well-floured board and press it into two six-inch disks. Wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Nutty-Jammy Filling:

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

grated zest of one small orange

3/4 cup currants (or raisins)

1 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans (or walnuts)

1/2 cup of your favorite fruit preserves (I’ve used raspberry, blueberry, apricot)

Combine sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, currants, grated zest, and nuts in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

On a lightly-floured board, roll each piece of dough into a 9-inch square. Cut the square in half to make two 9 by 4 1/2-inch rectangles. Using an off-set spatula, spread each rectangle with 2 tablespoons jam and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough.

Starting with the long end, roll each rectangle into a log – as though you were making cinnamon rolls. Refrigerate the logs for 1 hour. Brush each log with egg wash and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.

Cut each log into 9 1-inch pieces and place them standing seam-side down 3 inches apart on the prepared sheet pan.

Bake 30-35 minutes until lightly browned. (Some of the jam will ooze out and may burn on the pan. This is fine – just remove the burned jam after the cookies are cooled.) Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 32 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Raspberry-Chocolate Rugelach: Add 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips to the filling mixture.

Espresso-Pecan Wedding Cookies

Don’t laugh, but every Friday during the cookbook process was “Nut Toasting Day”. I always use toasted nuts in recipes. Do it the easy way…toast them in batches or even as soon as you get home from the grocery store. I toast them at a low temperature so they don’t burn so easily. Once they are toasted and cooled, bag them up and store them in the freezer. They can go straight from the freezer to recipe with no trouble at all.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups toasted pecans*

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

powdered sugar, for dusting

Whisk the flour, cornstarch, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

Place the pecans in a food processor and pulse 10-12 times until the nuts are very finely ground.

Place the ground nuts in bowl of an electric mixer. Add the butter and powdered sugar and mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until well combined. Add the espresso powder and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed for 1-2 minutes until a soft dough forms.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Use a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop (2 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 2 inches apart. Refrigerate the dough for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300° F.

Bake the cookies for 40-45 minutes until they are set and barely golden brown. Cool on the pan for 10-12 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool. (Be careful, the cookies can crumble easily while warm.) While the cookies are still warm, dust liberally with powdered sugar. You can dust them again just before serving, if desired.

*To toast the nuts, place them on a sheet pan and bake at 325° F for 15 minutes until fragrant and toasted.

Makes about 26 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Variation:

Go Nutty: Feel free to substitute your favorite nut for the pecan. Walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts would be wonderful.

Gingerbread Whoopee Pies

These would make a great, fun dessert for the kids at Thanksgiving. “Cake-like” cookies such as these are affected by altitude. So, mind the directions…

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

3/4 cup molasses

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1/4 cup real mayonnaise

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour, salt, soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper; set aside. In a small bowl or measuring jug, stir together the molasses, buttermilk and vanilla; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mayonnaise and mix to combine. On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with two additions of the molasses mixture until just combined.

Use a 2-inch diameter scoop (3 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 4 inches apart. Remember, this dough is loose and will spread a bit.

Bake the cookies, one tray at a time, for 15-18 minutes until they are cooked through and spring back when lightly pressed in the center. Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sandwich the cookies together with 4 tablespoons of Cinnamon Cream.

Cinnamon Cream:

1 vanilla bean

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 cups (14 ounces) marshmallow cream

Split the vanilla pod lengthwise with a sharp knife. Scrape the interior of the pod with the back of the knife to remove the pulp and seeds. Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.

Makes 24 cookies or 12 “pies”

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the baking soda in the cookie to 3/4 teaspoon.

Fell’s Point Sliders

This is my interpretation of the Baltimore classic, the Berger Cookie. A friend was having them sent through the mail to him, so developed this recipe. It’s like having your own private piece of birthday cake. Serve these at your next kids party instead of cupcakes.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1/4 cup real mayonnaise

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg, mayonnaise and vanilla and mix to combine. On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with two additions of the milk until just combined. Increase the mixer to medium speed and mix for 20 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Cover the batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Use a 2-inch diameter scoop (3 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 4 inches apart. Remember, this dough is loose and will spread a bit.

Bake the cookies, one tray at a time, for 16-18 minutes until they are cooked through and spring back when lightly pressed in the center. Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frost each cookie with 2-3 tablespoons of Chocolate Ganache Frosting.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting:

2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup heavy cream

Combine the chocolate, salt, and vanilla in a medium heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat until it just comes to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes. Slowly whisk the cream and chocolate together until it is smooth and glossy.

Let the mixture cool to room temperature, stirring once in a while, until it is thick and spreadable. This may take 2-3 hours. Don’t think you’re being clever by sticking the frosting in the fridge to chill faster. You’ll be sorry.

Makes 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the baking powder to 3/4 teaspoon; reduce the sugar in the cookies by 1 tablespoon.

Double-Ginger Crackles

The crystallized ginger makes for a wonderful surprise when you bite into these crunchy yet chewy cookies.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup molasses

2 large eggs; room temperature

1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, combine the melted butter, brown sugar and molasses on low speed until well mixed. Add the eggs and mix on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until well combined. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix for until thoroughly combined. With a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in the crystallized ginger.

Use a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop (2 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 16-18 minutes until just set in the center. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the brown sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Linzer Cookies

They just seem so civilized. I like that. Pulsing the almonds with a little sugar helps to prevent them turning to almond butter in the machine.

1 cup toasted, slivered almonds

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large egg

grated zest of one small orange

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 cup raspberry jam

powdered sugar, for dusting

In a food processor, pulse the toasted almonds with 2 tablespoons of the sugar until the nuts are finely ground; set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and remaining sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the egg and mix until fully incorporated. On low speed, add the flour mixture and the almonds and mix until a soft dough comes together. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten it into a 6-inch diameter disk. Wrap the dough and chill it for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thick. Cut out cookies with floured 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutters. Cut a hole in the center of half of the cookies with a 1 1/4-inch round cookie cutter. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet pan. Reroll, the scraps of dough to make more cookies. If the dough gets too soft, wrap it in plastic and chill it for10-15 minutes.

Bake 12-14 minutes until the cookies are set. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Ta assemble: spread the bottom of the solid cookies with 1 teaspoon of raspberry jam. Dust the tops of the “cutout” cookies with powdered sugar. Top the solid cookies with the cutout cookies.

Makes about 12 sandwich cookies

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the sugar by 1 tablespoon.

Variation:

almond truffle cookies: Proceed as directed but don’t cut out the “window” in the cookies – leave them all whole. Sandwich the cookies together with a heaping teaspoon of chocolate filling. Allow to set completely – about 2 hours.

Chocolate Filling:

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

pinch of salt

Place the cream, chocolate, and salt in a double boiler over low heat and stir until melted together and smooth. Cool until a thick spreading consistency (about 30 minutes)

Cinnamon Birch Twigs

These only look fancy. They are simple to make and delicious. If you want to take the simple route, you can roll out the dough and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. I used Wilton brand candy coating. It seemed to have the best flavour of the ones I tasted.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 (12-ounce) package vanilla-flavored candy coating, melted

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and remaining sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the vanilla and egg and mix until fully incorporated. On low speed, add the flour mixture and the almonds and mix until a soft dough comes together. Divide the dough in half and place each portion of dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten it into a 6-inch diameter disk. Wrap the dough and chill it for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the dough to 3/8-inch thick. Trim the dough into a 9-inch square. With a pastry cutter, cut the square in half crosswise so that you have two pieces of dough 9 inches long and 4.5 inches wide. Cut the dough along the long edge into strips 3/8-inch wide – so that you have “twigs” 4.5 inches long and 3/8 inches wide. Carefully place the strips of dough on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat this process with the other piece of dough until all the strips are cut.

Bake 14-16 minutes until the cookies are set. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Place the melted vanilla candy coating in a pie pan. Dip the tops of each cookie in the candy coating and place on a sheet of parchment paper to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl by microwaving it on high power for 15-second intervals – stirring after each interval – until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in the vegetable oil. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the ‘logs’ to resemble birch trees. Cool completely.

Makes about 36 cookies

High Altitude (5200 ft): No change.

Mudslide Cookies

The kid in all of us will enjoy these chocolaty cookies with a toasted marshmallow center. I rarely get out a double-boiler to melt chocolate chips. I just use the microwave and stir every few seconds.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1/4 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the semisweet chocolate chips on high powder for 1 minutes or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds; set aside to cool slightly.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla and mix on medium speed until fully incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Stir in the in the milk chocolate chips, and pecans.

Use a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop (2 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart. Press one marshmallow into the center of each cookie.

Bake 14-16 minutes until just set. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 28 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 1 tablespoon.

Sardinian Spice Cookies

Yes, another spice cookie. These are reminiscent of “Hermit Cookies” popular in America. A food processor makes chopping the nuts and raisins a breeze. The raisin-nut mixture should be almost a paste.

1 cup toasted, slivered almonds

1 cup raisins

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 tablespoons molasses

grated zest of 1 medium lemon

grated zest of 1 medium orange

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the almonds and raisins until finely chopped (about 12-15 one-second pulses), set aside.

Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, fennel, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and allspice together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the melted butter, brown sugar, molasses, orange zest, and lemon zest on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until combined. Add the raisin mixture and mix well. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and the vanilla and mix on medium speed until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.

Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten it into a 6-inch diameter disk. Wrap the dough and chill it for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Roll out the dough on a lightly-floured surface to 3/8-inch think. Cut out the cookies using a floured cookie cutter (diamond shapes are traditional) and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet pan.

Bake 12-13 minutes until the edges just start to brown. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Milk Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

3-4 tablespoons milk or half-and-half

Stir together the powdered sugar and milk in a bowl until combined. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies and allow them to set for 1 hour.

Makes about 36 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Benne Wafers

This is a very southern recipe – delicate and not too sweet. Sesame seeds are also called benne seeds. These are lovely served along side a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Stir in the sesame seeds.

Use a measuring tablespoon to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart.

Bake 9-10 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the center is bubbling. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies

My family loves, loves, loves carrot cake. In high school, we used to drive over an hour to New Hope, PA to a little café where they served the best carrot cake in the world. My sister still requests carrot cake every year for her birthday. This is a cookie version. The cookies are great on their own or sandwiched with vanilla cream filling.

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup grated carrot

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Stir in the oats, carrot, and walnuts.

Use a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop (2 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart.

Bake 12 minutes until the cookies are just set – they will look underdone. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Filling:

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 cups marshmallow cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

With an electric mixer, beat all the ingredients until light and fluffy. Sandwich two cookies with 1-2 tablespoons of the cream filling.

Makes about 32 cookies and 16 sandwich cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Espresso Truffle Cookies

Coffee and chocolate – what more is there to say? These cookies are perfectly tender and, yes, there is real ground coffee in the dough.

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons ground espresso beans

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, espresso, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten it into a 6-inch diameter disk. Wrap the dough and chill it for 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Roll out the dough on a lightly-floured surface to 1/8-inch think. Cut out the cookies using a floured 2 1/4-inch cookie cutter and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet pan.

Bake 8-10 minutes until the cookies are just set but not browned. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Sandwich the cookies with 1 tablespoon of the truffle filling.

Truffle Filling:

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

Place all the filling ingredients in a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir the mixture until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and allow the filling to cool to a thick “frosting” consistency. (Don’t let the filling cool too much or it will be too hard to work with.)

Makes about 32 cookies and 16 sandwich cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Hazelnut-Mocha Cookies: Substitute 1/4 cup finely chopped, toasted hazelnuts for the ground espresso. Substitute milk chocolate chips for the semisweet chips in the filling. Proceed as directed.

Lime Melting Moments

Melting Moments are a very English treat. They are a very short shortbread that practically melts in your mouth. If you want to go over the top, you can sandwich them together with buttercream icing.

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

grated zest of 3 limes

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, cornstarch, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, lime zest, and lime juice and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined.

Use a 1 1/4-inch diameter scoop (1 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart. Roll each piece of dough into a ball between the palms of your hands. Dip a dinner fork into some cornstarch and gently press the fork on the top of each ball to make four parallel marks.

Bake 15-18 minutes until the cookies are just set but not browned. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

While the cookies are still slightly warm, roll them in a bowl of powdered sugar to coat. Return them to the wire rack to cool. When the cookies are completely cooled, roll them in powdered sugar once ore to get a nice coating.

Makes about 36 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Lemon Melting Moments: Substitute lemon zest and juice for the limes. Proceed as directed.

Orange Melting Moments: Substitute orange zest and juice for the limes. Proceed as directed.

Vanilla Melting Moments: Omit the lime zest and juice. Increase the vanilla extract to 1 tablespoon. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Melting Moments: Omit the lime zest and juice. Reduce the flour to 3/4 cup and add 2 tablespoons cocoa powder along with the flour. Proceed as directed.

Cream Cheese-Walnut Cookies

These rich cookies have the sweetness from the sugary coating and the tang from cream cheese. The cream cheese flavour is balanced well by strong-flavoured nuts such as walnuts, pecans, or hazelnuts.

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup (6 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

1 cup powdered sugar, for coating

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, cream cheese, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Use a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop (2 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart.

Bake 16-18 minutes until the cookies are just set but not browned. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

While the cookies are still slightly warm, roll them in a bowl of powdered sugar to coat. Return them to the wire rack to cool. When the cookies are completely cooled, roll them in powdered sugar once more to get a nice coating.

Makes about 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Cream Cheese-Pecan Cookies: Substitute pecans for the walnuts. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

As with many cookies, it’s best to take these out of the oven a couple minutes before they look “ready”. The will look a little under-done but they will continue to “cook” on the pan as they cool. This ensures a soft, chewy cookie.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

2 cups coarsely chopped peanut butter cups, divided (I used ‘mini’ candies cut in half)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the chopped peanut butter cups.

Use a 2-inch diameter scoop (3 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart. Press a piece of the remaining peanut butter cups into the top of each cookie.

Bake 12-14 minutes until the cookies are just set – they will look underdone, that’s okay. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 14 large cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Variation:

Chocolate Caramel Cookies: Substitute “Rolos” (chocolate caramel candies) for the peanut butter cups. Proceed as directed.

Joe Frogger Molasses Cookies

A historical account of these cookies said they should be the size of a small dinner plate. Mine aren’t that big, but they are delicious, nonetheless. Their old-fashioned charm just makes me smile.

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 large egg

1/4 cup granulated sugar, for coating

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and molasses on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined.

Use a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop (2 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto a parchment-lined tray. Chill the balls of dough for 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll the dough between your palms to form smooth balls. Roll the balls in granulated sugar and place them on the prepared sheet pan about 3 inches apart.

Bake 12 minutes until the cookies are just set – they will look underdone, that’s okay. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons; reduce the baking soda to 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Graham Crackers

I bet you never thought about making graham crackers at home. They are so simple and it’s nice to be able to control the sugar and such. I would start checking the crackers in the oven at the 14-minute mark. If they get over-cooked and browned, they get a bitter taste. We don’t want that.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons wildflower honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons whole milk

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and honey on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and milk and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until a dough forms. Place the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten it into a 6-inch diameter disk. Wrap the dough and chill it for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Roll out the dough on a lightly-floured surface to 1/8-inch think. Cut out the cookies using a fluted pastry wheel into 3-inch ‘crackers’ and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared sheet pan. Use a fork to pierce each ‘cracker’ 6-8 times.

Bake 14-16 minutes until the cookies are set but not browned. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 24 3” cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Increase the milk to 3 tablespoons.

Variation:

Cinnamon-Sugar Graham Crackers: Dust the crackers with cinnamon sugar before baking. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Graham Crackers: Reduce the flour to 1 1/4 cups. Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder along with the flour.

Italian Almond Macaroons

I know that beating egg whites can cause some people to get heart palpitations. With a little practice, your confidence will grow and it will be no big deal. At high-altitude, it’s important not to beat your egg whites too long as they can dry out your recipe. Once you add the sugar to the egg whites, continue to beat them, but test them often by lifting the beater (or your whisk) out of the mixture. The beater will drag some of the meringue up and form a “peak”. As soon as the tip of the peak stands straight up and doesn’t droop over, you are finished. (Peaks that droop over are “soft peaks” and peaks that stand straight up are “firm peaks”.)

1 1/3 cups toasted slivered almonds

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Place the almonds and 1/4 cup of the sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse them until they are ground to a fine meal (about 15-20 1-second pulses).

With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites and salt on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and mix until the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peaks. Add the almond mixture, flour and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Use a 1 1/4-inch diameter scoop (1 tablespoon) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 2 inches apart.

Bake 15-17 minutes until the cookies are set and the edges begin to brown. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 20 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 1 tablespoon.

Variation:

Italian Hazelnut Macaroons: Substitute toasted hazelnuts for the almonds. Proceed as directed.

White Chocolate Peppermint Drops

A low-fat Christmas cookie? Yes, it is possible. These are crispy on the outside, marshmallowy on the inside, and minty fresh. Remember to stop beating your egg whites as soon as they form “stiff peaks” so that they don’t dry out too much.

3 large egg whites, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup white chocolate chips

1/3 cup coarsely crushed peppermint candies

Preheat the oven to 250° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the sugar and whip until the egg whites are glossy and form stiff peaks when the mixer is lifted. Fold in the white chocolate chips and peppermint candies with a rubber spatula.

Use a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop (2 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan about 2 inches apart.

Bake 45-50 minutes until the cookies are set and feel dry to the touch. Turn off the oven and let the cookies sit in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Maple Walnut Cookies

My grandparents lived in Stowe, Vermont, so I think maple syrup is in my blood. Allspice is the dried unripe berry of the Pimento tree native to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. I use it often in recipes that need a little warming spice note.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground allspice

2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon maple extract

1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and allspice together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and maple extract and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Stir in the walnuts.

Use a 2-inch diameter scoop (3 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan 3 inches apart.

Bake 14-16 minutes until the cookies are set. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Spread each cookie with 2-3 teaspoons of maple frosting.

Maple Frosting:

1 cup powdered sugar

2-3 tablespoons maple syrup

Stir together the powdered sugar and maple syrup until it reaches a spreadable consistency.

Makes about 12 large cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 1 tablespoon.

Chocolate-Pecan Thumbprints

I used a plastic squeeze bottle I got at the hobby supply store to inject the filling into the indentations without making a huge mess. It worked like a charm.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup toasted pecans, chopped fine

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

With an electric mixer, mix the flour, pecans, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until it resembles wet sand. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until the dough comes together.

Use a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop (2 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan 2 inches apart. Use the palms of your hands to roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch diameter balls. Use your thumb to press and indentation into the center of each ball of dough. Use your fingers to “repair” any cracks in the dough by gently pressing the dough back together. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375° F.

Bake 18-20 minutes until the cookies are just beginning to brown. Immediately, use a rounded teaspoon to reshape the ‘thumbprint”. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Fill each indentation with chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Ganache Filling:

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine all filling ingredients in a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Makes about 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Turtle Cookies

These were a little fussy to make, I will admit. But, they are impressive and taste divine.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, separated

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup finely chopped pecans

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until it’s light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix well. On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until the dough comes together.

Use a 1 1/4-inch diameter scoop (1 tablespoons) to portion the dough and use the palms of your hands to roll the dough into 1-inch diameter balls.

Whisk the egg whites in a bowl until foamy. Place the pecans in a separate bowl. Dip each ball of dough in the egg whites and then roll them in the pecans to coat. Place the balls of dough in the prepared sheet pan 2 inches apart.

Use your thumb to press and indentation into the center of each ball of dough. Use your fingers to “repair” any cracks in the dough by gently pressing the dough back together. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Bake 12-14 minutes until the cookies are set. Immediately, press a rounded teaspoon in the center of each cookie to reshape the ‘thumbprint.” Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Fill each indentation with caramel filling.

Caramel Filling:

16 soft vanilla caramel candies

4 teaspoons heavy cream

Combine all of the filling ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally until the caramels are melted and the mixture is smooth.

Makes about 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Tart Cherry Wafers

Mix things up by using any chopped dried fruit you love.

2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2/3 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped dried tart cherries

grated zest of 1/2 orange

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup honey

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the brown sugar, almonds, flour, cherries, orange zest, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the melted butter and honey until mixed well. Let the batter sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to thicken.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.

Use a 1 1/4-inch diameter scoop (1 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan 4 inches apart. (These cookies spread quite a bit.)

Bake 9-10 minutes until the cookies are golden, lacy, and bubbling. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Use a thin metal spatula to move the cookies to avoid breaking.

Makes about 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 1 tablespoon.

Variation:

Tart Cranberry Wafers: Substitute dried cranberries for the dried cherries. Proceed as directed.

Snickerdoodles

I love old-fashioned recipes like these. This was the very first thing I ever baked in my 7th^-^grade home economics class. Adding extra cinnamon to the dough is the key to this recipe’s success.

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Stir together the 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl; set aside.

Whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, shortening and sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined.

Use a 1 1/2-inch diameter scoop (2 tablespoons) to portion the dough and roll them into 1 1/2-inch diameter balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat and place them on the prepared sheet pan 2 inches apart.

Bake 10-12 minutes until the cookies are light golden brown and slightly puffed. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 24 cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar in the dough by 3 tablespoons.

Variation:

White Chocolate Snickerdoodles: Fold 2 cups white chocolate chip into the batter before shaping them. Proceed as directed.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

As a child, we used to chase down the ice cream truck on a daily basis during the summer. When there is no ice cream man around, you can create your own memories by making these cookies. They really do taste like a creamsicle.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons orange extract

grated zest of 1 orange

2 cups white chocolate chips (one 12-ounce bag)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla extract, orange extract, and orange zest and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Stir in the white chocolate chips.

Use a 2-inch diameter scoop (3 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan 2 inches apart.

Bake 14-16 minutes until the cookies are set. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 20 large cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): Reduce the sugar by 1 tablespoon; reduce the brown sugar by 1 tablespoon.

Variation:

Lemon Dreamsicle Cookies: Substitute lemon extract and zest for the orange. Proceed as directed.

Technicolor Dream Cookies

I think this is every kids dream – a monster cookie with just about everything in it. This is a great way to clean out the pantry of those half-empty bags of things. Be creative.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups crispy rice cereal

2 cups candy-coated chocolate pieces

1 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined. Stir in the oats, cereal, chocolate pieces, peanuts, chocolate chips, and coconut.

Use a 2-inch diameter scoop (3 tablespoons) to portion the dough onto the prepared sheet pan 3 inches apart.

Bake 14-16 minutes until the cookies are set. Cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 14 large cookies

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

The End

 


The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 1: Cookies)

Introduction (For the entire series) From The Slopes To The Shore… Are you tired? Are you tired of fancy (or not so fancy) baking books by fancy chefs with even fancier recipes that just don't measure up to all that hype? Are you tired of recipe failures while on a ski holiday or just because you live above 3000 feet? Are you tired of passion fruit foams and green tea cookies when all you want is a chocolate chip cookie recipe that will work every single time? Do you need a pie for the long summer weekend; or a quick, yummy after school treat; or a simple cake with effortless style to make your neighbors jealous; or a truffle that will awaken the mad passionate desires of your lover and make them beg for more? Psssst, do you want a chocolate chip cookie now? No, I mean a really good chocolate chip cookie? Well, let's make that chocolate chip cookie together. It's easy and I can show you how. Family Recipes From My Home To Yours… Come with me on a family journey through baking where the luck of the Irish gives way to solid science and produces a collection of family baking favorites that your family will cherish for years to come. This debut collection from Irish-trained chef, Chris Reynolds, celebrates the landscape of his family's baking tradition and contains 323 "master" recipes and 582 recipe variations. This cookbook is a wide-ranging, comprehensive collection chock-full of beloved classics like chewy gingerbread cookies, triple-chocolate brownies, jalapeno cheddar corn bread, shoofly pie, sour cream coffeecake, fresh peach ice cream, crunchy granola, and the best pizza crust ever. This is an inspired collection of classics and contemporary twists where we tease traditional flavours and let you know you've just had something special. Classics with attitude and altitude. High-Altitude Baking that Really Works… You'll learn that it's possible to serve a from-scratch comfort food classic like buttermilk biscuits on a weeknight when time is tight or a high-altitude cake on your skiing holiday that won't fall flat. In addition to foolproof recipes, all the recipes were tested at high-altitude by the author, himself. Each high-altitude adjustment is precise to give success at 5200ft (Denver, Colorado). In addition, each chapter introduction gives insights into high-altitude baking and tips on adjusting your own recipes. Retro-Modern??? Chris Reynolds is a professional baker trained at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland by the famed cooking teachers Darina and Rachel Allen. While he embraces an artisan philosophy, emphasizing the freshest organic ingredients, sound techniques, and from-scratch baking; he's also well aware that stirring a caramel on the stove for 90 minutes is a drag. "I wanted recipes that people would embrace, enjoy and actually make. No one, not even me, is going make a cookie that requires me to stand at the stove for 90 minutes. That's just not practical in our modern world." This book embraces a "retro-modern" approach. Old-fashioned recipes are updated for modern life. That could mean streamlining the steps, using modern flavour combinations, using different techniques to give fool-proof results, or even scaling a recipe to feed a family of four. A Photo of Every Recipe… If the easy, care-free recipes don't grab you, then the stunning full-colour photos of every recipe surely will. This book is a delight for the eyes as well as the palate. This is homey, doable baking at its best - a lively, in-depth portrait of a family who loves to bake. Pass me another truffle!

  • Author: Chris Reynolds
  • Published: 2017-03-25 16:51:09
  • Words: 18287
The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 1: Cookies) The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 1: Cookies)