Friday, April 16, 2021

Pistachio Shortbread Bars

Photo of Pistachio Bars with Blueberry Jam

I came across these bar cookies a little while ago, and they have been in my folder waiting for just the right time. The recipe talks about the red of the jam and the green of the pistachios is a perfect combination for Christmas. When I look at these cookies, all I can think of is spring! I wanted to save these for when the weather wasn’t so gloomy, and the time is right.

This is a recipe that can be varied in any way that you would like. If you don’t like pistachios, you could certainly use something different. I think that these would be especially good with almonds. For the jam they suggested raspberry or strawberry jam. At first, I was going to use blackberry jam, but I didn’t have enough so I ended up using blueberry jam. Yes, the taste is a little different, but it’s still very tasty. Just think of these as shortbread bars with jam and nuts.

I did change to blueberry jam, but otherwise I didn’t change anything. I love pistachios and I have to say how happy I am that I can buy them already shelled! The nuts that I used were already salted, so I did not add additional salt. These bars aren’t too sweet, which perhaps varies depending on the jam you use. I realized too late in the game that I was supposed to add the pistachios to the second half of the dough, but obviously I didn’t. They were still tasty, but the nuts weren’t as crunchy as they could have been. Maybe I will try mixing the nuts into the dough using a different combination of jam and nuts!

Pistachio Shortbread Bars
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt (if using unsalted nuts)
½ cup jam (raspberry, blueberry, etc.)
2/3 cup chopped pistachios

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9” square pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and egg on medium until combined. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour and salt (if using). Divide the dough into halves.

Press half of the dough into a thin layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the bars from the oven. Spread the jam in a thin layer on top of the partially baked bars, within ½” of the edges. Top with the chopped pistachios. Carefully shape the remaining dough into a layer on top of the jam, covering as much as possible.

Bake for an additional 35 minutes, until golden. Allow the bars to cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting into bars.  

Recipe from Eazy Peazy Mealz

Friday, April 9, 2021

Almond Poppy Seed Cookies

Almond Poppy Seed Cookies

This time of year, it becomes a challenge to figure out what cookies to make. It’s starting to get nice, but it can be terribly cool in the evening. I guess that isn’t as bad as an Instagram video I saw this week from the UK where it was snowing! Yikes! I have nothing to complain about, I guess! I want to make items more fitting for spring, but then I am pulled in the other direction of baking with apples, pecans, and spices, since I love those flavors. It doesn’t help that we have some candied pecans that I can’t wait to put in a cookie.

Ok, so I searched through my recipes and they all lean heavily to peanut butter, oats, chocolate- not exactly perfect for spring. I suppose more people bake in the fall and during the winter holidays. I do have a couple recipes pinned that fit the bill, including these almond poppy seed cookies. I haven’t baked much with poppy seeds of late, so that’s a nice change. I love poppy seed muffins, so this is a way to get that flavor in a cookie.

These cookies don’t require much that is specialized. You top the cookies with sliced almonds, but you don’t need very many. I had part of a small bag left from another recipe and it was sufficient. Be careful with poppy seeds, as they tend to go rancid if they remain in your cupboard too long. I tell myself that I should store them in the refrigerator, but I never remember to do that. Several comments on the original recipe said that the cookies baked longer than the recipe stated, and that was my experience as well. Just keep checking if you are unsure if your oven is hot! It may be a challenge to wait until these cookies set to eat them, since they perfectly capture the lightness of spring, but I am sure that you’ll do your best.

Almond Poppy Seed Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
1½ cups sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons poppy seeds
2¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
    
1½ cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
Sliced almonds

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium until smooth. Add the egg and stir to combine. Stir in the almond extract, vanilla, and poppy seeds. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cookies are cool, make the glaze: in a medium bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, almond extract, vanilla, and milk. Glaze the tops of the cooled cookies and top with sliced almonds.

Recipe from Chef in Training

Friday, April 2, 2021

Ginger Cookie Cups

Ginger Cup Filled Cookie Cups

It seems like the weather is starting to get a little better here in the Seattle area, but I shouldn’t jinx it as we have some sunny days but just a few days ago it was very rainy and windy. I guess I will take whatever I get! It’s spring break and it does seem like the weather is cooperating. I doubt anyone has grand plans, but it is certainly nice to be hopeful for the future.

I came across this cookie cup recipe and if you follow this blog at all, you know that I love cookie cups! The original recipe is for lemon bar cookie cups, which does sound great as I am a big fan of lemon bars. I did want to mix it up a little bit, and I figured that I could use something other than lemon curd as the filling. There were some interesting options online, but in the end, I went to our local British shop and found ginger curd. I knew that would be perfect. Of course, lemon curd would also work and it’s a lot easier to find!

This recipe makes a big batch of small cookies. I halved the recipe and it still made two dozen cookies. I liked the ease of these cookies, where you par-bake them and then make and indentation and fill them. It was very easy to make an indentation when the cookies were warm! The ginger curd I used had bit of fresh ginger in it, so some of the cookie cups were very gingery. They are so perfect with the crisp buttery cookie and then soft ginger filling. They’re small and you can just pop one in your mouth. Perhaps I should have made more than 24 cookies?!

Ginger Cookie Cups
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup ginger curd
Powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray four 1 dozen mini muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar; set aside. In a larger mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and powdered sugar on medium until combined. Add the oil, egg, and vanilla and mix again to incorporate. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Place 1 tablespoon of dough into each prepared mini muffin cup.

Bake for 8 minutes.

Remove the cookie cups from the oven and with the end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in the center of each cookie cup. Fill the indentations with a small amount of ginger curd.

Bake for 4-6 more minutes, until the edges of the cookie cups are lightly browned. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then remove the cookie cups from the pan and place on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Recipe from Barbara Bakes

Friday, March 26, 2021

Pear Hazelnut Butter Bars

Pear Hazelnut Butter Bars

When I originally came across this recipe, it looked a lot different. I actually have made the salted caramel butter bars that are the origin of the recipe I found, and the variation I found used Nutella. I pinned this, but I figured that I would make a change somehow. My first thought was to try a type of fancy peanut butter, something like a cinnamon peanut butter or something. I then realized that this recipe would also work with jam or preserves, so I planned to make it this month with all my other jam recipes.

I went to the store to look at the offerings, and in the end my husband found the preserves that I ended up using. We were by the cheese counter and found a jar of pear hazelnut fruit pâté. I’m not really sure how they define their concoction, but it’s most similar to thick preserves. I knew it would work, and I decided that adding some chopped hazelnuts to the top would be wonderful. I also halved the original recipe which used an entire pound of butter! (This is not health food!)

This dough is simple and comes together quickly. I think it took less time to make the dough than it took to heat the oven. You use about a third for the crust and 2/3 for the topping, but even if you divide the dough in halves, it will work. Don’t stress too much about it. I do wish that I had a little more pear hazelnut preserves, but I had just enough. The only challenge with these bars is that they don’t really brown, so it is hard to tell when they are baked through. I waited until the hazelnuts looked toasted and called it good. These bars are so good with the fruit and hazelnuts. I wouldn’t say that the pear is a distinct flavor, but the fruity flavor in these bars is wonderful.

Pear Hazelnut Butter Bars
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
½ cup Pear Hazelnut preserves (or other)
¼ cup chopped hazelnuts

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8” square pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and powdered sugar on medium until light. Stir in the vanilla. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour, stirring just until the dough comes together. Wrap 2/3 of the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you bake the base of the bars. Press the remaining 1/3 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.

Bake for about 14 minutes, until the crust is set. The base will not be browned. Allow the crust to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before proceeding. Leave the oven on.

Spread the pear hazelnut preserves onto the partially baked and cooled base. Remove the remaining dough from the refrigerator and crumble the dough on top of the preserves. Top the crumbled dough with the chopped hazelnuts.

Bake for an additional 25-35 minutes, until the hazelnuts are golden, and the topping is set. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Recipe inspired by Cookies and Cups

Friday, March 19, 2021

Simple Jammy Biscuits

Jammy Biscuits: thumbprint cookie filled with red jam to celebrate Red Nose Day

We sure have had all sorts of weather here in the Pacific Northwest: rain, snow, some sun, even hail! I think everything keeps adding up: the weather, staying home, not seeing people, etc. I went to a meeting and there was an interesting conversation about what our work would look like after the pandemic, and that’s an interesting question. Some of my work involves people directly, but some of it doesn’t. One thing is for sure: I can’t wait to bake for people again!

There are lots of recipes out there that make small batches, and I have found that British cookbooks/recipes are a good source as most folks in the UK have a smaller oven, which leads to smaller batches. This recipe was in one of the British food magazines that we get, and it was beautifully simply. The cookie is for Red Nose Day, which is in today March 19! Red Nose Day is a fundraiser, primarily in the UK, uses the power of laughter as they base of their fundraising. For information, you can visit https://comicrelief.com.

For these cookies, and jam would work, but I used some tasty huckleberry jam that I got for Christmas. I made the dough in the food processor and it was too crumbly to form into a log, so I mixed in an additional egg yolk, shaped the dough, and then refrigerated it for a bit. The dough is a touch stickier, but it worked. I cut just 12 cookies, and they were quite thick! They spread a lot so next time I will not make them so thick. Like many British recipes, these cookies aren’t too sweet, but the jam adds that extra touch of sweet. They are on the big side, but very tasty none the less!

Simple Jammy Biscuits
200 grams self-rising flour*
100 grams sugar
100 grams butter
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons jam

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.

In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg and pulse until a stiff dough comes together. Shape the dough into a log, about 2 inches in diameter. Cut into ½ inch slices and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Make a small indentation in the top of each cookie and fill with about a teaspoon of jam. 

Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

*I make my own self-rising flour by combining 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt

Recipe from BBC Easy Cook



Friday, March 12, 2021

Blackberry Meltaway Cookies

Blackberry Meltaway Cookies

Last week’s cookies used jam, and I noticed that one other that I plan to post this month have, jam, so I decided that would be my theme this month. All of the cookies in March contain jam/jelly/preserves in some form, but I have tried to mix up the flavors for different experiences. For the most part, jam flavors are interchangeable, just make sure that there isn’t a secondary flavor that would clash with you jam of choice. Last week I used cherry jam, and this week it’s blackberry jam.

When you are searching for jam cookie recipes, you find a lot of thumbprint cookies. I have grown to like thumbprint cookies, but there are many other options. These cookies use jam as a decorative topping, and I think they just turned out beautifully. The original recipe called for raspberry jam, but I used some lovely blackberry jam made by my friend at work.

The recipe states that you should use seedless jam. The blackberry jam wasn’t seedless, but I wanted to use it anyway. You use such a tiny amount, which I piped by cutting a tiny tip off of my pastry bag, and the seeds get in the way. The blackberry jam worked, but I routinely had to squeeze the seeds out of the piping bag. Annoying. The cookies themselves are simple, and the sweetness comes from the jam and the icing. They are crumbly and do want to meltaway, and they taste great.

Blackberry Meltaway Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour

3 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk
1-1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons blackberry jam

In a large mixer bowl, combine the butter and cornstarch and beat on medium until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and almond extract and mix to combine. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour and stir until the dough comes together. Refrigerate the dough for about 15 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking sheets.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and roll into a ball about 1-inch in diameter.  

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until set. As soon as the cookies are removed from the oven, press the cookies down with the bottom of a glass. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the topping: melt 3 tablespoons butter, then stir in the vanilla and milk. Gradually whisk in 1 cup of powdered sugar, adding additional powdered sugar if the topping is too thin. Cool slightly, then spoon onto the cooled cookies. Allow to set for 10 minutes, then pipe a few drops of jam on top of the glaze and swirl the topping with a toothpick or the tip of a knife. Set completely before serving.

Recipe from Family Cookie Recipes



Friday, March 5, 2021

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

Peanut Butter and Jelly cookies

Peanut butter and jelly are such a classic combination! Working from home, I have to say I have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch with some regularity! I bake a lot with peanut butter, and I have made a couple of peanut butter and jelly creations, such as thumbprint cookies and cookie cups. This was my first try in the traditional cookie form, and I was intrigued to make a cookie with a filling of frozen bits of peanut butter.

I didn’t change too much about these cookies, but the original recipe called for peanut butter chips for the dough and additional chips to top the cookies. I thought I had some, but I used them in another recipe, so they are missing here. I don’t really think you need them anyway. In order to make these stuffed cookies, the cookies end up being very large. You could try to make them smaller, but it is hard enough to shape the dough around the fillings as it is. I did halve the recipe and made 7 (really big) cookies.

These cookies are a bit fussy to get formed. Since the jelly is so liquid, it spread a little and it was about impossible to encase it fully. I was worried that the cookies would open up during baking, but they didn’t. They all cracked on the top in different ways, but that was fine. The original recipe said to bake the cookies for 12 minutes, but mine need a lot longer to bake, likely 20 minutes since the cookies are large. I do love peanut butter cookies, but these with the peanut butter and jelly filling are just the best. They are so tasty that I don’t mind that the cookies are enormous!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies
1 cup + ¼ cup peanut butter, divided
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup jam or jelly

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

With the ¼ cup peanut butter, make 15 small dollops and place them on a parchment-covered plate. Freeze the peanut butter dollops while you make the dough.

In a mixer bowl, beat the 1 cup peanut butter and the butter on medium until combined. Add the sugar and brown sugar and mix again on medium until combined. Add the egg, vanilla, baking soda, and salt and mix to combine. With the mixer running on low, add gradually add the flour and stir until the dough comes together.
    
Separate the dough into 15 mounds, each about 3 tablespoons. Make a well in each cookie and add a dollop of jelly and a frozen dollop of peanut butter. Form the dough around the peanut butter and jelly, sealing in the fillings as much as possible. Place on the prepared baking sheets. A+s these are large cookies, place a maximum of 8 cookies on each baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are golden around the edges, the tops start to crack, and the cookies are set. If you bake both sheets at the same time, rotate the baking sheets half-way through the baking time. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Cookies and Cups