C is for Cookie

OMG CHRISTMAS IS ALMOST HERE IT’S SO CLOSE I CAN TASTE ITTTTTTT!!

Ahem.

So, hey guys! I know it’s a little unusual for me to post on a Saturday, but since my schedule is all messed up due to the impending holidays and whatnot anyway, I figured what the heck. Besides, I needed to document my culinary achievements from yesterday before too much time has passed anyway. Because, yes, yesterday, I made something MAGICAL. Spoiler alert, the end of the story looks like this:

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A little backstory. My Aunt Joanie makes the best sugar cookies in the entire universe. Not just the entire world. The universe. Like, The Doctor himself would agree that these are the best sugar cookies ever. And each year, she mails a tin of said cookies to my parents, and I greedily consume over half of them myself (and we all wonder why I have issues maintaining my weight over the holidays, hahahaha). My family has long tried to recreate what I *thought* was her epic cookie recipe, and year after year… we failed. So, last year after Christmas I finally, FINALLY wrote my Aunt Joanie asking her for the recipe, STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE. And a week or so later, what to my wondering eyes should appear?

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That’s right — the handwritten source of all deliciousness. So I’ve been delicately sitting on this treasure map to sugary goodness for the past year (and may or may not have had a sliiiiight freakout when I thought I lost it…) and yesterday, I headed over to my parents’ place and got down to work!

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As you can see from the photos above, these are REAL sugar cookies. These aren’t dumbed-down, healthified-up, or any other such nonsense. These are I-hope-you-have-a-lot-of-people-coming-for-the-holidays-cause-otherwise-you’re-gonna-get-really-fat cookies.

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Now, I should preface this whole thing by saying that this was an incredibly harrowing cookie-baking experience for me. I was so dead-set on getting the cookies EXACTLY right, what with the amazing taste of Aunt Joanie’s cookies eternally emblazoned in my brain and tastebuds, that I kind of went a little crazy after the first couple of trays came out of the oven less than perfect. The taste was there but they were far too crisp and crunchy. Sugar cookie fail! Sure, it was all smiles at first…

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But seeing as how this was my helper:

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It wasn’t long before the entire process started to get to me.

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Luckily, I eventually worked out the tweaks and adjustments needed to accommodate for my mother’s super-hot oven and the fact that I was simply rolling the cookies too thin. And soon, I was pulling tray after tray of cookie perfection out of the oven!

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Huzzah! This means I was done, right? It was over?

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WRONG.

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After an intermission where we were able to, like, eat dinner and stuff, it was time for Act II: decorating. My sister and father had already baked up the necessary pieces for our family’s traditional gingerbread house earlier that day, and those PLUS the plethora of naked sugar cookies I’d just created meant we definitely had our work cut out for us.

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Luckily, I had more than a few willing helpers for this part.

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I was actually pretty amazed at my family’s ability to get through decorating the scores and scores of cookies we had. Sean was an AMAZING sport (and a surprisingly awesome cookie decorator. I was actually getting a little jealous of his skills, hahaha) and we ended up with tins full of delicious cookies, many of which rival the deliciousness of my Aunt Joanie’s (though, of course, I’ve simply come to realize that they really will never be quite as good.) And we all definitely made sure to continue the tradition of creating tiny cookie versions of ourselves (Jenny even made hers a pregnant profile version of herself, hahaha). For us to eat. Hmm. There may be something psychologically telling somewhere in there.

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It’ll probably take another round of cookie-making at some point before I deem this recipe (and the subsequent tweaks I needed to make) suitable for sharing, since only the latter half of the cookies turned out really good. And, of course, some more taste-testing. Heheheheheheheh. Baking and decorating cookies and our family’s gingerbread house is absolutely my favorite family Christmas tradition. (Well, outside of the actual Christmas morning stuff. Cause, I mean, c’mon. Presents.)

I hope you are all having an absolutely amazing pre-Christmas weekend! Try not to get blown away — the wind has been CRAZY around here today!!

Almond Tea Cookies

The Christmas countdown continues!

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To celebrate the fact that there are a mere FIVE days before the best holiday evarrrr, I baked!

Have a cuppa

I started with something simple, easy, and delicate. These almond tea cookies were inspired by ones that I had the last time I was at Natalia’s, and are the perfect compliment to a cup of Christmas cheer tea.

Delectable

As I’ve alluded to many times, I LOVE the flavor of almond extract, so these cookies are pretty much the best thing ever to me. They’re not as sweet as a typical cookie either, which, given the nonstop sugar rush I’ve been riding since December 1st, is actually a welcome change.

Mixed

I did learn a few valuable lessons with the creation of this recipe. Namely, if you put these cookies on a baking sheet in haphazard, shapeless lumps…

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… you end up with haphazard, shapeless cookies.

Hot Mess

Food presentation fail.

Shapeless

Not to worry. though! A little rolling and some fork-scoring, and all was well with the world.

Rounded

Look how cute!

Almond Tea Cookies

Doubleplusbonus? They’re superduper tiny, so you don’t have to feel guilty about eating a lot of them, hehe. Well, okay, that might be wishful thinking on my part. I mean, they’re still like 40 calories per cookie for being such tiny little things. But still! Make them!

Ingredientastic

Almond Tea Cookies
Print this recipe!

Makes ~40 mini cookies.

These adorable miniature cookies are light and airy, soft but crisp, and simply delightful! Feel free to decrease the amount of almond extract if you aren’t as obsessed with it as I am, but don’t skimp on the lemon zest — it adds a clean and bright flavor and makes these little cookies addictive!

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 teaspoons almond milk
½ cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 heaping cup flour

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a standing mixer (or with a hand mixer), combine butter, extract, and milk. Add sugar and cream together on medium-low speed. Mix in lemon zest.

2. With the mixing speed on low, add flour in small batches until dough is fully combined. It should have a somewhat sticky consistency, so if you find it is too dry, add a tiny splash more milk.

3. Roll into half-inch balls and place on a nonstick cookie sheet. Flatten slightly and score with a fork. Bake for 12 minutes, or until edges are crisp.

4. Let cool, then dust with powdered sugar if you like. Enjoy!

Nutritional info per cookie: 42 calories, 2 g fat, 5 g carbs, 0.4 g protein. WW Points+: 1.

Stacked

With such a short bake time and the fact that you essentially a million of them at once, these would make a great edible gift. Stack them inside a teacup, wrap in cellophane and pair with a box of teabags — but don’t forget to save a few for yourself!

Daily Eats – 9/8/11

So I was going to do a legit Daily Eats post, full of complete calorie counts and details explanations… and then our basement flooded. Best week ever. So you know… take what you can get.

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Starbucks
I finally succumbed…

Not me, couldn't be!
Yes. More natural disaster cookies. No, I didn’t eat that whole stack.

More details on the epic fail that is this entire week tomorrow. After the carpet has dried out a little more, hopefully.

Epic Cookie Fail

Maaaaaaaan.

I was really excited to kick off this Wednesday with a fantastic cookie recipe that would change your life. Not a health-food “cookie”, but a real, honest-to-goodness, made-with-butter-and-everything cookie that would make you the star of Labor Day parties country-wide.

Ingredients for Success

I was, in fact, so confident in this cookie that I even took the time to set up an Oh She Glows-style ingredient photoshoot.

Packed.

It seems I should really stick to what I know.

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I was convinced that I needed to share these cookies with the world after the success of my hurricane cookies (or not-success, depending on how you see my weigh-in, haha), for which I had used this recipe.

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Except that recipe originally called for 6 DOZEN cookies (er, that’s 72 cookies, my friends) and, errrr, that’s a lot. Even for me. Plus, I wanted to make it my own. Put my own Gretchenesque-spin on things, y’know?

Bake me!

Weeeeeeeell, I guess that my, er, creative cooking approach does NOT lend itself well to baking. Turns out I was off on my ratio of dry-to-wet ingredients by a mere quarter-cup! Guess it was enough though:

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Sigh. Flat as a board. NOT the full, round, chewy cookies I was supposed to pull out of the oven. I die. At least they still tasted great! Well, those that survived, that is…

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They were so soft and thin, that most of them were completely obliterated in the process of removing them from the pan. It wasn’t a total loss though. I see many deliciously topped bowls of oatmeal in my not-so-distant-future.

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Hopefully, despite the not-quite-intended-result, their deliciousness will still get me suck-up points with my coworkers, hehe.

Are you a cook or a baker? Any epic fails in experimenting with either?