Entries in Cookies (11)


2012 Presidential Cookie Bake-Off

I've already posted here about the traditional bake-off held during each US presidential election. This time around, I tried another recipe from Ann Romney: M&M cookies. Smarties cookies will have to do -- no plain M&Ms to be found (at least not easily) in Paris.

These cookies got the seal of approval from Bon Bon. My husband, who doesn't like peanut butter even liked them. I would've tried Michelle Obama's recipe for white and dark chocolate chip cookies, but again, no butter-flavored Crisco to be found in these parts.

Click here for the recipes (Update: Michelle Obama is the winner!)


Weekend Baking: Kourabiedes

Normally I can think of desserts I want to make all on my own. I decided to make these, however, to follow up a Greek-inspired summer meal of grilled chicken & peppers, stewed tomatoes & onions and, of course, Greek salad (below).

When we travelled to Athens a few years ago, I ate my weight in baklava. Perhaps some day I'll try my hand at making filo pastry, but for now I'm sticking with sweets that are a little more accessible.

Flipping through my copy of the Joy of Cooking for Greek desserts, I came upon this recipe for kourabiedes that not only looked like something I could fit into a busy Sunday, but a recipe that I could do with ingredients I already had on hand.

These cookies are buttery and literally crumble / melt in your mouth. They look exactly like the powdered sugar-covered balls that are always left over on the Christmas cookie platter, right next to the malformed snickerdoodle no one wants to eat. I think if you put these kourabiedes on the platter, however, they would be the first to go...


Ann Romney's Welsh Skillet Cakes, tweaked

For those interested in US politics, campaigning is beginning in earnest, at least on the conservative end of the spectrum. During election cycles, it has become customary for potential presidential candidate's spouses or the candidates themselves to provide recipes from their personal collections.

I'm not sure when this custom started but am thinking that it had something to do with Hillary Clinton's comment in 1992 that she could've "stayed home and baked cookies" in response to a question she received with respect to her career as a lawyer. If I recall correctly, many a housewife were offended, so she apologized for the statement and, as an added bonus, provided a chocolate chip cookie recipe... Regardless of where the tradition began, I'm glad it's here as I'm always looking for new things to bake.

In the lead-up to the 2008 election, I saw that a few presidential hopefuls' wives had provided recipes, including Ann Romney's for "Welsh skillet cakes". Being far more original than the standard chocolate chip cookie, my interest was peaked and I decided to make a batch of these current-studded, dense cakes.

Flash forward to 2011...a few weeks ago I heard that Mitt Romney declared his candidacy and immediately thought back to these cakes. This time around, in order to make the cakes a bit healthier, I decided to tweak the recipe a little and substituted wheat flour for white, cassonade for white sugar and raisins and dried apricots for the not-always-in-season red currants.

These cakes are really delicious. They remind me a bit of my favorite cake doughnuts, much more so than the glazed doughnut muffins that I made last summer and subsequently scorched in the microwave. I think it's the nutmeg that's to thank for this. Here is my adapted version of Ann's recipe:

Ann Romney's Welsh Skillet Cakes (modified from the original recipe)

Yield: 35-40 cakes

1 egg
1 1/4 cups dried fruit (raisins, apricots, etc.)
1/2 cup milk
3 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cassonade
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspooon salt
1 cup butter

1. Beat egg with milk in a small bowl; add the dried fruit.

2. Sift all of the dry ingredients together. Work the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter until the mixture is mealy.

3. Pour milk, egg and dried fruits over the mixture all at once and mix well. Wrap the dough in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

4. After chilling the dough, roll it a little less than half an inch thick. Cut out cakes using a round cookie cutter.

5. Cook on a pancake griddle greased with oil on both sides (the original recipe calls for a 325°F griddle). Flip the cookies when you see that the top of the dough has become shiny. Flip and cook on the second side for slightly less time.

6. Roll in granulated sugar (tried this with the first few cakes, but stopped  because I had trouble getting the sugar to stick). Let cool before eating.


Valentine's Day

Ahhh, Valentine's Day. Some people love it and others hate it. Listening to colleagues and friends, I'm starting to think that a majority would just as well do away with the holiday -- the stress of having to buy the perfect gift, getting dinner reservations, of not having someone to buy a gift for / receive a gift from / go out to dinner with...

Valentine's Day is much less complicated when you're a child. I remember having "home room" parties at school, usually involving a Valentine card exchange, fruit punch and cookies and games such as bingo using conversation hearts instead of chips or guessing the number of heart-shaped cinnamon red hots there were in a glass jar.

Thinking back to those parties got me into the mood to make some heart-shaped sugar cookies. If there's one thing you have to love about Valentine's Day, it's the color scheme -- when else can you get away with combining pink and red? or icing cookies flamingo pink? What I enjoyed most in making these cookies was tinting all of the different icings. Accompanied by tea (hold the fruit punch), they will be perfect for dessert on Valentine's Day.

A special thanks to my little helper (below)!


Weekend Baking: Star Sugar Cookies

I'm really excited that the holiday season has arrived. We celebrate Christmas, and I love putting up the tree, listening to Christmas music and, of course, holiday baking. For me, the Christmas season kicks off today, the day after US Thanksgiving.

I just love sugar cookies at any time of the year and am always looking for an excuse to use my cookie cutters. Last year I bought some Christmas-themed cookie cutters at a John Lewis store I stumbled upon on Sloane Square in London (and what a fortunate stumble it was -- it was a real pleasure to be able to shop without fear of being stampeded by fellow shoppers, unlike another London department store that shall remain nameless...).


I have to come clean here -- I actually made these last July smack dab in between the American Independance Day and France's Bastille Day. I was going for a patriotic red, white and blue theme but found that the result was more retro Noël instead -- kind of like something you'd expect to be served at a Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Christmas party.

I held onto the photos and figured I'd keep them in my back pocket for a later post. This ended up being a good idea because today I'll be bride and bridesmaid dress shopping with my recently engaged sister. So I guess it's best that I made the cookies a few months ago and am not currently chowing down on them.

I used the recipe for Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. The cookies are topped with my go-to cookie frosting recipe: powdered sugar + a small amount of any liquid such as milk, water, etc. (this time I used lemon juice).

I really like this sugar cookie recipe -- though they were supposed to be crisp and buttery, the cookies turned out very soft and just sweet enough. As usual, I think this is due to the US recipe / French ingredient combination, which can sometimes be disastrous but this time actually worked out quite well.