Chewy Oatmeal Raisin & Cranberry Cookies

This is one of my most popular cookie recipes.  I guess because it includes fruit and oatmeal, folks give themselves permission to eat multiple ones for breakfast or a “healthy” snack.   I think these cookies would freeze well although I’ve never had any hang around long enough to find out.  This is a good one to make with your kids.  Tip:  Don’t over mix cookies once you add the flour.  Mix just until you can’t see the flour anymore.  Over-mixing results in cookie spread and no one wants that!

Make your own Giant Cookie Cake

My son LOVES those big decorated chocolate chip cookies you get in the grocery store.  This year, I decided to make him one myself.  Once you buy the 16″ cake pan (I got mine 40% off at Michael’s), the ingredients cost very little.  Now, I can “get my big cookie on” for any occasion with just basic baking ingredients that I usually have in the pantry.  Here’s my version of the recipe.  Including the shortening helps reduce the dreaded cookie spread and not pushing dough all the way to the edge of the pan prevents spill-over and kitchen cursing.

Two of my favorite cookies

I like to try different cookie recipes each year but I also enjoy making those old reliable ones I know I’ll love.   If you mix up the old and new, you know at least half of them will come out ok!  These two cookie recipes continue to be on my list of faves.  I have made these for so long I don’t even remember where the recipes came from so I don’t know how to acknowledge credit.  Oops!

Salted Caramel Cookies Feed My Newest Obsession!

salted caramel cookiesDid someone say salted caramel?  Just the thought of it makes my mouth water!  I’ll eat just about anything dipped in, served on or topped with salted caramel!  If a fast food restaurant is serving something new with salted caramel, I’ll drive across town just to taste it.  Can you say Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha!!!!   Ok, I passed out for a minute.  Why am I this old and just discovered this amazing flavor juxtaposition only last year?  My sister found a Pillsbury recipe for salted caramel cookies in a magazine and shared it with me.  After a few changes and tweaks, I think this cookie recipe is a winner.   NOTE:  Milk does need to boil for 3 hours.  You can shortcut it by cooking it in the microwave in 15 minute increments, but texture isn’t nearly as creamy.

Avoiding the dreaded cookie spread

The first day of fall has barely passed and I’m already looking forward to cookie season.  But truly, is there ever a season that’s not good for cookies?  I think not.  Have you ever spent a half hour or more mixing and scooping cookies only to have them spread all over the pan and end up in a crunchy, stuck, deflated, sad little blotch?  Yeah, me too.  Darn that’s annoying!  Well here’s a little trouble-shooting for ya to get the season rolling.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Common Causes of Cookie Spread

  1. Creaming the fat and sugars too long.  If you beat too much air into the batter, it can cause them to spread out too much.  Mix it just until blended into a paste using low-medium speed.
  2. Don’t butter or grease your cookie sheets and, if you must, add a thin layer of flour over top the slippery stuff.  Cookies need a surface to “hang on to” during the baking process.  Use ungreased, non-stick cookie sheets, stones or (my favorite) parchment paper.
  3. Your baking temperature  may be too low.  Bake most cookies at 375 or 400 degrees.
  4. Too much baking soda or powder will cause spread. Measure carefully!
  5. High sugar content increases spread, especially granulated sugar.  Fine sugar or confectioner’s sugar decreases spread.  Adding extra sugar to sweeten a recipe can have a consequence.
  6. Batter too thin.  Be sure you’ve added enough flour and if you’ve left out an ingredient like the nuts in chocolate chip cookies, you’ll need to make up the difference in bulk by adding extra chocolate chips or another ingredient.  One caveat- don’t increase amount of oatmeal in a cookie.  Substitute with something else or maybe add a little more flour.
  7. Over-beating at any stage of the recipe can develop too much gluten and cause excessive spreading.

Keep your eyes peeled for other cookie tips in future blogs.

Gettin’ Close to that Cookie Time of Year!

I LOVE to make cookies. Always have.  One of the most fun aspects of the holiday season is making cookies!  My mom and I used to start weeks ahead of time making a different kind of cookie every couple of days.  We would look through a bunch of recipe books and mark those that looked good.  Of course, Daddy had to pick out a few.  (He always went for the ones with pictures).  We got into the habit of taking cookie requests from various members of the family so many of my recipes are marked as “someone’s favorite cookie.” After making our grocery runs we’d crank up the kitchen and go into full cookie mode. Normally one of us had to guard the freshly baked cookies from my dad long enough for them to cool  so we could whisk them safely into the freezer.  But then there was the day we came home and found him sitting in front of Oprah with a variety plate of cookies, looking a little guilty as we entered the living room.  Mom says, “I thought all those cookies were in the freezer?”  “They were!” he says.  After getting busted that one big time, Daddy took to sneaking frozen cookies one at a time in hopes that we wouldn’t notice.  We usually managed to save enough of them for cookie trays that we delivered to friends and neighbors.    I have continued my cookie tradition into married life, starting my cookie plans in November each year.  I try to mix in a few new ones each year along with everyone’s requested faves.  Cookies are great for swaps, gifts, office trays, family parties, or just snacking from the freezer.  So, now that you’re inspired, let’s talk cookie!   I’m going to start with two oldie but goodie recipes.  You’ve probably eaten these two your whole life and I’ll bet you still enjoy them.  You don’t really improve on simple perfection when it comes to these two old stand-bys.

No-Bake Peanut Oatmeal Cookies

Crisco Chocolate Chip Cookies