Category Archives: Cookies

Almond Biscotti

One of the newest cookbooks to our collection came during this year’s annual Christmas cookbook haul.  It is called Chewy, Gooey, Crispy Crunchy, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich and I am slowly making my way through it.

Since we are both big fans of the biscotti, I decided to tackle crunchy first.  As you may have heard, M is crazy for the Cardamom Biscotti and requests it often.  I assured him that these would be just as good (they actually aren’t) and that it would allow me to try something new.

Biscotti are great in that they provide a terrific bit of sweet to the end of a meal without the addition of any fat.

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Basler Brunsli – Chocolate-Almond Spice Cookies

One of our friends is gluten-free.  This presents somewhat of a challenge to me as a baker since I am just fine with gluten and rarely give it a second thought.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat and is off-limits for those with wheat allergy or celiac disease. It is also the magical ingredient that provides cohesiveness to dough and is easily taken for granted by me, the non-gluten-free baker.

Our gluten-free girl recently came to dinner and I decided to finally tackle this type of baking.  I had recently read an article in Saveur on favorite holiday cookies from around the world. Switzerland’s entry was for Basler Brunsli, also known as a chocolate-almond spice cookie.  No flour in this recipe – a cookie everyone can enjoy.

It certainly sounded promising– almonds, sugar, cloves, cinnamon and chocolate. Chewy texture and the “unmistakable flavor of old-fashioned Christmas cheer.” Well, alright then.

However, I cannot lie. This was one frustrating cookie and I almost scrapped it in favor of something, anything, that was not baked.

The dough is very tricky and needed, I don’t know, some flour to help hold things together. Determined not go give up, I found that working in small batches and keeping the excess dough in the freezer was the key to success.

Overall, the Basler Brunsli is actually quite nice and resembles a chewy chocolatey spicy brownie. A nice ending to a gluten-free dinner for a guest that I hope returns on many occasions in the near future. Here is the recipe…

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Guess what?  M now likes chocolate.  For years, I have avoided baking chocolate treats because he was opposed and because he told me so.  And now, it seems, he has forgotten all that, claims it was never said, and wants his chocolate!

I’ll bake anything, chocolate or not, and turned to my subtle friend Martha for an over the top recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies.

These are dangerous.  Dangerous in that you can’t eat just one and dangerous for the other obvious reasons which start and end with an awful lot of butter. Here is the recipe…

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Lemon Ginger Drop Cookies

Cathy loves ginger and Cathy loves lemon.  So, over the years, I have made ginger cookies as well as lemon cookies for her. This year, I decided to combine the two flavors and send them to her on her birthday.  She says these are now her favorite cookies.

I had lemons as well as crystallized ginger but no molasses, a common ingredient in the chewier ginger snap. I perused the cookbook collection for a recipe that was molasses-free and came across this one in an old Martha Stewart cookbook.

The lemon zest ensures a real lemony flavor and the crystallized ginger adds the necessary chew to this otherwise crisp and delicate cookie.  Bet you can’t eat just one. Here is the recipe…

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ANZAC Biscuits

M is out of cookies!

He informed me the other day that he had depleted his frozen back stock and asked that I make his now current favorite Almond Spice Wafers. Even though I prefer to try something new, I went ahead and made them. There, happy?

I then starting looking around for something new to make as well and came across this recipe for ANZAC biscuits. The name caught my eye and, after further research, I discovered that these biscuits / cookies were sent to soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during World War I. The ingredients did not spoil during transit and therefore the biscuits could withstand long transit times.

I read a little further and realized that these are essentially an egg-less oatmeal cookie with coconut. I made them and they are fantastic. Crunchy and chewy at the same time.

So, now M’s cookie jar is full, for another week anyway.

Here is the recipe…

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Cardamom Biscotti

Every now and then, M comes up with a cookie that he likes for me to make over and over.  Recently, he has been on a biscotti kick as they are light, essentially fat-free and I suppose they make him feel less guilty about his cookie habit.  The problem with this repetitive baking is that the challenge of trying something new vanishes.  But, his resulting joy and appreciation more than makes up for the fact that I can now make these in my sleep.

I have already posted once on biscotti but this new one, with its exotic cardamom flavor, is so good that I feel compelled to share.  The recipe calls for the baker to crack open cardamom pods, remove the seeds, and crush them.  It’s a tedious, time-consuming task and I suppose one could cut corners and use cardamom seeds or ground cardamom (both of which we have, along with the pods) but I decided to get cracking and husking.  The resulting aroma and flavor is truly special, and I suspect more powerful than what you would get from taking the shortcut.

Cardamom Biscotti

These crisp, crunchy, mildly-spiced cookies make a lovely accompaniment to a scoop of vanilla ice cream or fresh fruit and are wonderful with a cup of coffee or tea.

They are also the perfect ending to a lovely meal in lieu of dessert.  Just ask M (daily).

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Homemade Graham Crackers

That M.

Sometimes, he comes up with the oddest requests in terms of what cookie he would like next.  The latest was homemade graham crackers.  Graham crackers, really?  I haven’t had them in some time.  I remember them from childhood, have had a s’more by the campfire on the rare occasion that I have been near a campfire, and think that those teddy grahams sure are cute.  Other than that, graham crackers don’t really cross my mind.

Homemade Graham Crackers

All the more reason to accept the challenge and make them from scratch.  Where would I find the recipe?   Martha, of course.  She sure knows how to turn out a cookie.

This one is a little tricky.  The dough itself is easy enough to make.  It’s the rolling and trimming part that takes patience and a certain degree of exactitude.  The dough must be rolled into a rectangle between two sheets of flour dusted parchment paper.  And yes, the flour is necessary as the dough tends to stick to the parchment.  Once a rectangle of sorts has been achieved, you are good to go.

This is where the fun begins.  Dust off that fluted pastry wheel (you knew it would come in handy someday, right?) and use it to trim the excess, thereby achieving the perfect rectangle.  Then, separate each rectangle into three smaller rectangles.  Separate each of those rectangles into even smaller rectangles but don’t cut all the way through with this pass.  This makes little marks so that each sheet of grahams can be separated into four smaller rectangles. just like those from the box.

The final verdict for me on these? Forget everything you know about the boxed version and give these a try.  M agrees.

Here is the recipe…

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