Category Archives: cookies

Island Dream Bars


These bars are plain looking and maybe with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and an orchid on the plate to dress them up they might look a little more tempting but one bite of the buttery cookie crust with a gooey rich topping full of macadamia nuts and coconut will convince you that these are heavenly island dream bars just the thing to bake at home after a memorable trip to Hawaii.

While driving to Punalu’u Black Sand beach to see the green sea turtles we passed acres of macadamia nut trees, ML Macadamia Orchards, I think it’s interesting that macadamia nuts were introduced to Hawaii from Australia in 1882. I just assumed macadamia nuts were always in Hawaii. I love the sign we saw in one of the orchards that said, Macnuts, I wonder if MacDonald’s knows about that! Anyway I love macnuts and I like to buy them raw and unsalted. They contain palmitoleic acid, which may aid in fat metabolism and possibly reduce stored body fat. I hope that bit of info makes you feel better about trying this recipe. This time I’m going to give you the recipe first and show you the turtle later.

Ingredients and Directions for Island Dream Bars
adapted from King Arthur Flour ‘ All-Purpose Baking Cookbook’

Cookie Layer

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping

2 cups dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, well beaten
1 cup medium shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/2 lime, zested

Preheat the oven to 300°F

To make the cookie layer

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt, the mixture will be crumbly. Pat the crumbs into a foil lined and greased 9×13 pan. Bake the cookie layer for 10 minutes, while you prepare the topping. Turn the oven up to 325°F.

To make the topping

In a medium size bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, and baking powder. Stir in the eggs, mixing until smooth, then add the coconut, macadamia nuts and lime zest, mix until well combined. Transfer the topping mixture to the cookie crust in the pan and spread it out as evenly as possible. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, if you like mix confectioners’ sugar with coconut flakes before sprinkling.
Cool and remove from pan, using aluminum foil, before cutting into bars.

Makes 2 dozen 2 & 1/2″ bars

I just have to include the green sea turtle because he is so cute!

Cardamom Icebox Cookies


Simply wonderful versatile icebox cookie recipe from Deborah Madison’s ‘Seasonal Fruit Desserts’ that tastes great with her baked rhubarb recipe. I used the organic ground cardamom seeds from the bulk spices at Whole Foods in Petaluma and that is one aromatic jar of ground cardamom! If you go to the market seriously check it out. I doubled the recipe because I don’t like making small batches of cookies when it’s just as easy to make extra dough and stash it in the freezer for baking off later.

Ingredients

2 sticks unsalted butter
4 tablespoons organic cane sugar
1 cup organic confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
3 cups all purpose flour
Demerara sugar, optional for coating edge of cookies

Directions

Beat the butter, sugars, salt and ground cardamom seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes at medium speed. Add the vanilla and the egg yolks and beat until smooth. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add the flour 1/2 cup at a time until it comes together. Remove the dough with a bowl scraper, place on the counter and cut in half.

Tear off 2 sheets of wax paper about 14 inches long and set aside. Shape the dough into 2 logs about 10 inches long and place one on each sheet of wax paper. Roll up the dough, using your hands to form a longer cylinder. Shape it round or square, square is easy and fun, just use your hands to shape it the way you like.

Freeze the dough until firm, it doesn’t have to be frozen solid, a short time in the freezer is adequate.

Preheat the oven to 350°

Roll the logs in the Demerara sugar, if using, and slice into 1/4 inch thick round or square cookies. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet or use Silpats. Bake until lightly colored on top and brown on the bottom, about 15 minutes. Let cool on the pan.

Makes about 50 small cookies.

Chocolate Walnut Cookies


Flourless chocolate cookie recipe from top New York pastry chef, François Payard is perfect for Passover baking. I found a link to this recipe from an Israeli food blog, Baroness Tapuzina. I was looking for a beet salad recipe which I found but in the process I found some food blogs from Israel that have great ideas and recipes. These cookies can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Ingredients

2 & 3/4 cups walnut halves, toasted and finely chopped
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and put the racks in the center of the oven. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or use Silpats.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the confectioners sugar with the cocoa powder and salt. Whisk in the chopped walnuts. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat until everything comes together. The dough will be stiff. Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds.
  3. Bake the cookies for 20 minutes, until the tops of the cookies are glossy and lightly cracked. Cool on wire racks before removing.


Yields 48 medium size cookies.

Thick Scottish Shortbread

I just had to make shortbread to go with my lemon curd, I thought about scones or biscuits but I really like butter. It’s because of my Scandinavian heritage, I come from a family of butter lovers. I thought I had baking with massive quantities of butter out of my system after baking for the holidays but the lemon curd in the fridge was calling out for the shortbread. I found this recipe from finecooking.com for thick shortbread which delivers the goods when topped with the lemon curd.

I gave some of the lemon curd and shortbread away, it was hard but I did it! Now I am almost out of butter, I had to buy more for my dinner party last weekend, it’s a vicious cycle. It’s okay, I like green olives too and they are good all by themselves.

Yields 16 squares

1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Lemon Curd, from last post, optional but really good!

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°. Line an 8×8-inch brownie pan with heavy aluminum foil, letting the foil extend over the edge of the pan.

Sift the flour, cornstarch, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 1/2 cup of the superfine sugar and mix together on a low speed. Add the butter pieces and vanilla and mix together until large crumbs form, about 2 minutes. Gently press the dough into the prepared pan. Don’t pack the dough into the pan. Bake until the top of the shortbread just begins to color, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top.
Cut the shortbread into squares and cool completely before lifting the foil and shortbread from the pan.

Serve with Lemon Curd.

Macadamia Butter Cookies with Dried Cranberries

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The month of December is flying by and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t made any Christmas cookies. Last night I discovered macadamia nuts in the pantry and the rest is history. The first few times I made these cookies I followed the exact recipe which is on the Cooking Light website. Then I started thinking, wouldn’t these cookies be better with a tad more macadamia nut butter and some chopped macadamia nuts. Now they are richer and more delicious but probably borderline medium-low fat at best. These make great cookie gifts for the holidays and you can tell your friends they came from Cooking Light(wink!)

2 cups macadamia nuts for the nut butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

2 tablespoons granulated sugar, to sprinkle on top

1. Place nuts in a food processor and process until smooth, a couple of minutes and be sure to scrape down sides of bowl a few times. Combine macadamia nut butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in bowl of standing mixer and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add vanilla and egg; beat well.

2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, stir with a whisk.Add flour mixture to sugar mixture and beat until combined. Stir in chopped nuts and cranberries. Chill for 10 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 375°. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

4. Use small ice cream scoop to scoop out small balls of dough and place evenly on cookie sheets. Sprinkle sugar on top of balls and gently press the top of each cookie with a fork. Dip the fork in water and press top of cookie again to form a crisscross pattern.

5. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. I can fit 2 cookie sheets on one rack in my oven but baking 1 sheet at a time in the center of the oven is preferable to having to rotate cookie sheets from top to bottom of oven for even browning. Cool a few minutes, remove cookies from pan and continue cooling on wire rack. Repeat procedure with remaining cookies. Yields 42 large cookies.

Almond and Lavender Honey Cookies


1 cup whole almonds, toasted
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup lavender honey, divided
1/3 cup canola oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup toasted sliced almonds, for glaze
1 teaspoon of dried lavender flowers for sprinkling

1. Process whole almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a large bowl and add white whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt, stir until well combined. In an electric mixer on medium speed beat 2/3 cup honey, oil and 3 tablespoons butter until well blended. Add egg and vanilla and beat until blended.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
2. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray 2 cookie sheets with baking spray or use silpat baking mats or parchment paper.
3. Roll tablespoons of dough into 1 -inch balls or use mini ice cream scoop and place on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies in batches until set and golden brown on the bottom, 13-15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes.
4. Make the glaze. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup honey and 1 tablespoon butter in a small bowl until creamy. Gently stir in toasted sliced almonds. Coat the cookies with the glaze using a small spatula. Sprinkle a few dried lavender flowers on each cookie.
Makes about 2 1/2 Dozen Cookies