Category Archives: Cookies

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesThere is a small town between Austin, Texas, and my hometown of Fort Worth that is called Hamilton. From the passenger seat of my parents’ SUV, it looks like any other small Texas town—there’s nothing remarkable about it from that particular vantage point, except that it is home to my family’s favorite pit stop, Dutchman’s Hidden Valley Country Store.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesI should say that we have always called it The Flying Dutchman. I don’t know why—that’s just what we’ve always called it. I’d like to tell you that we will change our ways and call it Dutchman’s Hidden Valley from here on out, but we won’t so I won’t. A 35+ year family habit is not easily broken.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesMy dad began stopping at Dutchman’s Hidden Valley in the early 1980s on his way to visit my older sister down in Fredericksburg. He’d stretch his legs and grab a Bavarian ham sandwich before getting back on the road. When he met my mom, he introduced her to the store. Fast forward ten or so years, and she and my grandma began taking Eliot and me to Dutchman’s on our way to family reunions in Kerrville. And now, twenty years beyond that, my parents take the back route to visit my older sister again, this time in Austin. They say it’s because I-35 is a mess, which is true, but I think it’s actually so they can get a sandwich.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesI haven’t lived in Texas or driven the back roads in a very long time now, but a couple of Christmases ago I had the pleasure of riding with my mom from my sister’s home in Austin to my parents’ in Fort Worth. We were listening to Hamilton while zipping through Hamilton’s city limit (so meta!), when she suggested I call Dutchman’s and order some sandwiches. I did, and when we arrived we grabbed a couple of bags of chips and a Diet Coke to split, and in a snap decision, two old-fashioned peanut butter cookies. The sandwiches and chips and soda all tasted like they always have, but the peanut butter cookies were new to both of us and so much more than we had bargained for—not that we’ve ever been served anything less than perfection at Dutchman’s.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, crunchy and not-too-sweet, with an almost-savory peanut butter flavor, my mom and I talked about them all the way home. Dutchman’s peanut butter cookies are probably the best I’ve ever had in my life, and I have thought of them frequently and fondly for the last 15 months. I’m still kicking myself for not grabbing another on the way out the door—I think they were 60 cents each.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesNow, I am sure I will end up in Texas at some point this year, but I don’t know when, and I am highly unlikely to find myself passing through the sleepy metropolis of Hamilton. My trips are rarely more than a few days, so road trips to get Bavarian ham sandwiches and chips and my newfound-favorite peanut butter cookies are difficult to squeeze in.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesThis is all a very long way of saying that I have done my best to recreate Dutchman’s peanut butter cookies in my New York kitchen. I’ve done a pretty good job, if I do say so myself 🙂 Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesThese Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies are crispy and crunchy (duh) and sort of sandy. They aren’t overly sweet—there’s barely 1/2 teaspoon of added sugar in each one—and while I believe Dutchman’s cookies’ savory edge may come from lard (rural Texas, y’all), mine comes from a smattering of roasted peanuts. If you want a sweeter cookie, you can swap all or part of the peanuts for chocolate chips, or leave the add-ins out entirely.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesHands-down, my favorite part of this recipe is that it doesn’t require a chill. The dough is sturdy and easy to roll from the get-go, so the time between the moment the peanut butter cookie craving strikes and when they are baked and ready is mercifully brief. Oh, and these cookies hold up well for at least ten days and develop deeper peanut butter flavor over time, so you can eat them frequently and think of them fondly and not have to worry about when you’ll have time to bake more, or when you can get to a roadside antique store & sandwich counter in Hamilton, Texas, to get your fix.Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies
makes about 80 small cookies

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)

For crosshatching:
granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment, set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and peanut butter until fluffy. Add granulated and light brown sugars, and beat to combine. Mix in egg and vanilla. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in chopped peanuts.

Scoop dough by the 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons), roll into balls, and set 2-inches apart on prepared pans.

Make the crosshatch. Lightly grease the back of a fork and dip in sugar. Press fork into each dough ball, then turn the fork 90 degrees and press again. Re-sugar the fork between cookies.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes, rotating pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at the 5 minute mark. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, crosshatching, and baking with remaining dough, letting the pans return to room temperature between batches.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.

Crispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter CookiesCrispy, Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

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One Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie

One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieLast week, I needed a win. I needed a win badly.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieI was reeling from a personal tragedy, having a difficult time getting myself out of bed in the morning, and couldn’t get any recipes to work properly. I suffer from depression and anxiety, so some of this is just part of my normal life, but there’s something about having recipes—something with which I am supposed to have some modicum of talent and control—repeatedly fail that sends me into a tailspin.

Exhibit A: That time I obsessively made 18 babkas.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieI woke up Friday morning determined to get one recipe to work. Just one. Something I thought would be easy and only take two or three tries: a chocolate variation on my single-serving One Big Chocolate Chip Cookie. Using that recipe as a guide, I started mixing…and then proceeded to have many, many fails.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOver the course of two hours, I ran the gamut of cookie failure. Too flat, too puffy, too dry, too chemical-tasting—you get the idea. Here are four of them:One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieBut then I looked at my tried & true Double Chocolate Cookie recipe and realized I hadn’t tried blooming the cocoa, a method of heating it with butter and sugar that produces a richer chocolate flavor. As with the large-batch cookies, this quick and easy process turned out to be key to my One Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie success!One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieAlso, crucial to cookie success? Underbaking. If you bake this cookie until it’s fully done, you’ll end up with a chocolate M&Ms frisbee. This is because cocoa powder tends to dry things out and also because I use a teaspoon of water here in place of the usual egg (a little trick I learned from the regular chocolate chip version). Underbaking will yield crisp-chewy edges, a crackly top, and a soft, fudgy center. Yesssss.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieI had a bunch of M&Ms leftover from making Monster Carmelitas last month, so that’s what I chose to use as my cookie mix-in. I love the contrast of the melty chocolate centers, crispy candy shells, and brownie-like cookie, but feel free to put whatever you want into this cookie base. Regular semisweet chocolate chips, white chocolate, mini peanut butter cups, walnuts—whatever you have around. It’s almost certainly guaranteed to be a win. And really, when is a big cookie not a win?One Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie

One Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie
makes one large cookie

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon water (not cold)
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, optional
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons M&Ms candy

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine butter, cocoa powder, and brown sugar. Microwave in 15-second increments, stirring in between until melted together. Alternatively, you may do this in a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat.

Mix in water and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda and salt, and whisk with a fork until a soft dough forms. Use a silicone spatula or spoon to mix/fold in M&Ms.

Use your hands to form dough into a ball and place on parchment. Dot with additional M&Ms (for aesthetic purposes), if desired. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until the top is crackly and the cookie appears a bit underdone.

Let cookie cool on the pan for 5-7 minutes before using a spatula to remove it to a plate. Enjoy.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie

Funfetti Cookies

Funfetti CookiesIt’s no secret that I love sprinkles. Like big pink puffy heart ❤ ❤ ❤ them. You’d be surprised at the amount of restraint I have to practice so that half the recipes on this site aren’t loaded with rainbow-colored spots.Funfetti CookiesI know it’s silly, but I don’t care. You can tell me all you want that rainbow sprinkles have no real flavor and are mostly just food coloring and other ingredients that I wouldn’t normally give a second glance, but I simply. don’t. care.Funfetti CookiesSprinkles make me happy. Don’t rain on my Funfetti parade.Funfetti CookiesI mean, how could anyone be anything but beaming while eating a soft, chewy sugar cookie bursting with color and studded with white chocolate chips? This batch is long gone, but just looking at the photos makes me smile 🙂 Funfetti CookiesYou know what else makes me smile? Miniature schnauzers (also all dogs ever), lemon cake, the pink heart sunglasses sticker in Instagram stories…and how easy these Funfetti Cookies are to make.

Sorry about that tangent. Won’t happen again. Today.Funfetti CookiesThis recipe starts with a buttery drop sugar cookie dough that you probably have all the ingredients for right now! #score Funfetti CookiesFunfetti CookiesYou could, of course, skip the accoutrements and bake up a batch of really delicious plain sugar cookies, but I promise the sprinkles and white chocolate chips are worth the extra trip to the grocery store. They take an already great recipe and turn it up to 11.Funfetti CookiesI don’t know about you, but I simply don’t have time or spare calories for cookies that aren’t an 11.Funfetti Cookies

Funfetti Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract or almond extract (optional)
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies,* not nonpareils)
1 1/4 cup white chocolate chips

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in granulated sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and optional imitation butter or almond extract, if using. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in sprinkles, followed by white chocolate chips. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Scoop chilled dough in 2 tablespoon increments, and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 10-11 minutes, until puffy. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process with any remaining dough, letting the baking sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

I used jimmies for the sprinkles in this recipe. Nonpareils may not be substituted. For information on the differences between the two, see this post. Funfetti CookiesFunfetti CookiesFunfetti Cookies

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Red Velvet Sandwich CookiesThe Oscars are this weekend!

In case you don’t know, the Academy Awards broadcast is my personal Super Bowl. I can’t remember ever missing it, even when I was a little girl. I didn’t realize that there were people who didn’t watch the Oscars until well into adulthood. I’d love to be higher-brow about the whole thing, but I’m too far gone now. Instead of fighting this sort of commercial silliness, I fully embrace it for this one event.Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I have lots of traditions around Hollywood’s biggest night. I see every nominated film. I spend hours (and hours and hours) consulting with Tad, my best friend/Oscar buddy of 15 years. I have been known to make homemade books of statistics.*

*I never claimed to be normal.Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Oscar Day is a thing unto itself, of course. I obviously watch every second of coverage, and no, I won’t come to your viewing party because I tend to get a little too invested and it’s not always attractive. Maturity goes out the window when it comes to the Oscars—it’s best that I watch them alone.Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

It won’t surprise you to learn that I have a traditional Oscar meal: a pesto/mozzarella grilled cheese and a salad with lots of citrus and red onion. For dessert, it’s always something red velvet. For years, it was a Red Velvet Cake, but I’ve changed it up recently, mostly because it’s silly to have an entire cake around when I’m by my lonesome. Two years ago, I made some festive cut-out cookies; last year’s dessert was a star-studded cookie cake. I’m keeping it simple this time around—Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies, y’all!Red Velvet Sandwich CookiesRed Velvet Sandwich Cookies

These sweet little cookies are a combination of two old favorites. The red velvet cookie base is from my third blog post ever! It produces soft, chewy cookies with all the classic chocolate-vanilla flavor you expect in a quality red velvet baked good.Red Velvet Sandwich CookiesRed Velvet Sandwich CookiesRed Velvet Sandwich Cookies

The other old favorite is my Cream Cheese Frosting—you can’t have red velvet without cream cheese frosting! Mine has twice the butter found in most recipes, so it’s got a fluffy texture as opposed to the thinner texture you see in more traditional recipes.Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies are dead-easy to make. Bake some cookies, whip some frosting, sandwich everything together. Really, the hardest part of this whole recipe is not eating seven cookies in a row.Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Have a great weekend, y’all! May all your Oscar predictions come true ❤ Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies
makes about 5 dozen

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1/4 cup buttermilk powder*
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon liquid red food coloring

Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, buttermilk powder, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. One at a time, add in eggs, whisking until completely combined. Add in vanilla extract, followed by red food coloring. Add dry ingredients in two installments, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until combined. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours, or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.

Scoop chilled dough in 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) increments and roll into balls. Set dough balls two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7-8 minutes, just until the tops are no longer raw-looking. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheets for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Continue rolling and baking with any remaining dough. Let baking sheets come to room temperature between batches.

Make the Cream Cheese Frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until completely combined. Beat in vanilla. Once combined, beat on high for two additional minutes, until light and fluffy.

There are two options for filling:

1. To assemble a sandwich cookie by piping, apply filling by pipe a circle in the middle of the underside of one cookie, leaving about 1/4″ around the edge. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

2. To assemble a sandwich cookie by spreading, use an offset frosting knife to spread 1/2-1 teaspoon on the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days.

Note:

I find buttermilk powder in the baking aisle of my regular grocery store. The recipe will also work with regular nonfat milk powder.

Red Velvet Sandwich CookiesRed Velvet Sandwich CookiesRed Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies

Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesI’m not sure exactly how I’ve allowed 3+ years to go by without giving you my recipe for Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies, but I’m happy to be rectifying that travesty today.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesI mean, how dare I deprive you of this dead-easy recipe for these deeply chocolaty, shockingly tender blank-slate cookies for 362 posts! How. Dare. I.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesYou may think I’m being dramatic—they’re cookies, not rocket science—but these are really delicious. Like more chocolaty than any plain, no-frills cookie really ought to be.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesChocolate Cut-Out CookiesSo rich and buttery and utterly decadent that you’d be more than happy to eat them by their lonesome…Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies…but then you’d be missing out on the cheeriness that comes with a layer of my go-to Quick-Dry Royal Icing.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesOr perhaps you, like me, prefer your cookies and icing with a little light-hearted snark. I’m not one of those people that hates Valentine’s Day—far from it—but I do prefer a more tongue-in-cheek approach over the traditional syrupy-sweet message.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesPerhaps I’ve had my heart broken one too many times. Or maybe I just know exactly what I want: a man who will tolerate me for all my weirdness and vast amount of baking equipment.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesYes. That and a pile of cookies.Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies

Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies
makes about 2 dozen 3-inch cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Quick-Dry Royal Icing, for decorating (recipe below)

Special Equipment:
rolling pin
graduated cookie cutters

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Dough may seem a bit crumbly, but will hold together well when pinched. Divide dough into quarters and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Lightly flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one quarter of chilled dough at a time, roll it to 1/4-inch thickness, and cut with cookie cutters. Place cut cookies at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 10-12 minutes, until soft but no longer raw-looking. Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking with any remaining dough.

Decorate cookies with Quick-Dry Royal Icing and allow to dry.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.

Quick-Dry Royal Icing
recipe barely adapted from SugarDeaux

3 tablespoons meringue powder
5 ounces warm water
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
2 pounds confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 tablespoon corn syrup
water

Special Equipment:
small bowls
gel food coloring
piping bags (or plastic sandwich bags)
small round piping tips and couplers
squeeze bottles
toothpicks
sprinkles

In a large mixing bowl, combine meringue powder and warm water. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until doubled in size, about 1 minute. Mix in cream of tartar, vanilla, and almond extract. With the mixer running on low, add 1 pound of confectioner’s sugar. Mix in corn syrup. Add the remaining pound of confectioner’s sugar. Scrape down the bowl before beating on medium-low for an additional 30 seconds.

Divide icing among small bowls. Press plastic wrap to the surface of all exposed icing.

Make outline icing. Working with one bowl of icing at a time, add water 1/2 teaspoon at a time until icing dribbled into the bowl forms a ribbon that fades within a few seconds. Stir in gel food coloring until the desired color is reached. Place 1/4 cup of icing into a piping bag with a tip. Alternatively, load icing into a plastic sandwich bag and snip a very tiny corner. Outline all cookies. Set aside to dry while you prepare fill icing.

Add water by the 1/2 teaspoon until the ribbon of icing fades into the bowls within 2 seconds. Load icing into squeeze bottles. Working with one cookie at a time, fill icing into outlined sections. Use toothpicks to coax fill icing evenly to the outlines.

Decorate with more icing or sprinkles, as desired. Let cookies dry uncovered at room temperature for 4-6 hours. For 3D decorations, use outline icing to decorate dried cookies and allow to sit uncovered for another 3-4 hours.

Iced cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesChocolate Cut-Out Cookies