Friday, March 24, 2017

Toffee Cowboy Cookies

It’s been a busy baking week for me! On Monday, we celebrated this month’s birthdays, so I made a cake for that. Wednesday at work we celebrated the upcoming arrival of a new baby. It’s also the end of the academic quarter, which means there are a lot of little things to finish up. When looking for this week’s cookies, I didn’t want anything too complex. I came across these cookies, a variation of the cowboy cookie, and they sounded so yummy.

I grew up calling this type of cookie, basically a chocolate chip cookie with coconut and crispy rice cereal or corn flakes, a ranger cookie. Perhaps it’s regional, I’m not sure. It’s one of my favorite types of cookies, the crunch of the coconut and cereal adds so much. This recipe has a couple of additions: honey roasted pecans, toffee bits, and two types of chocolate chips. I’m sure you could mix up the types of chips you use; don’t make a special trip to the store to get specific types of chips. Don’t skip the toffee chips though!

I read through the recipe, which mentioned that this makes a lot of cookies and thought, Nah, I’ll be fine. This recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies, and I made my cookies larger than I normally do. When you think it has six cups of mix-ins, that tells you a lot! I usually have no problem mixing with my artisan KitchenAid, but I had to do the last of the mixing by hand. The original recipe mentioned saving some of the pecans and chips to sprinkle on top of the partially baked cookies. I did that with one batch, but it was a bit of a pan so I didn’t do that with the rest of the dough. These don’t look quite done when you take them out of the oven, but trust me, they’ll be ok. These have so many flavors, sugary sweet with some crunch. Homey but addictive!

Toffee Cowboy Cookies
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup toffee bits
1 cup crispy rice cereal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking pans with silicone baking mats.

Line an additional baking sheet with foil. Spread the chopped pecans on the foil and drizzle with the olive oil and honey. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 3 minutes, stir, and then bake for 6 more minutes until toasted. Allow to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and sugar on medium until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.

Add the flour mixture and stir on low until partially incorporated. Add the oats, milk and mini chocolate chips, coconut, toffee bits, crispy rice cereal, and cooled chopped pecans. Stir on low. Depending on the size of your mixer, you may need to do the last bit of mixing by hand.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, using about 1-1/2 t0 2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie. Bake for about 10 minutes, until browned along the edges. The centers of the cookies will be soft, but will set as the cookies cool. Cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars

You know, when I look at recipes from around the world, they sure look a lot different than American recipes. British baking recipes tend to have less sugar, but still seem to taste as good. American recipe seem to want to use the entire kitchen sink! These cookies are a great example of that! This cookie uses cookie crumbs, 18 ounces of peanut butter/chocolate candy, two packages of cream cheese, and a cup of butter. How decadent! Lots of ingredients, but they sure come together to make a tasty cookie.

In my efforts to have a well-stocked kitchen (well, for baking at least), I will pick items up at the grocery store as I might be thinking about a recipe that uses the particular ingredient. Thankfully, most items aren’t that perishable, so it’s ok if I take my time using them. I had picked up several packages of cream cheese at some point, and I figured that I should use them since, well, they are more perishable. I did some searching and came across these bars. I’d recently had some awesome trail mix with peanut butter cups, so this sounded extra appealing to me.

I won’t lie, these cookies take a little bit of extra effort and makes a lot of dishes. They are supposed to have a graham cracker crust, but when I went to the store to get graham crackers they didn’t have any! I figured a chocolate cookie crust would work since they have chocolate, so I went with that. I ended up having to do the dishes half way through the process, but it worked out. These are messy to make, especially spreading the cookie layer on top of the cheesecake layer. Just take your time; there is plenty of dough to cover the cheesecake filling, so you’ll eventually get there. Not surprisingly, these bars are super decadent, and certainly worth the extra work!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars
2 1/2 cups cookie or graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 ounces peanut butter chips
8 ounces Reese's mini peanut butter cups

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9” x 13” pan with foil.

In a food processor, pulse the cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter until the mixture forms crumbs. Press evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle the crust with half of the mini peanut butter cups.

Make the cheesecake filling: in a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla on medium high until smooth, 3-4 minutes. Carefully spread the cheesecake filling over the crust and mini peanut butter cups.

Make the cookie topping: in a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium until combined. Stir in the egg, milk, and vanilla. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda and mix on low to combine. Add the peanut butter chips and stir on low until incorporated.

Working with a small amount of dough at a time, spread the dough on top of the cheesecake filling. I used my hands, flattening the dough and then piecing it together on top of the filling. Try to cover the filling as much as possible. Sprinkle the cookies with the remaining mini peanut butter cups.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top layer is golden brown and is set. Allow the cookies to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the cookies for at least 3 hours before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Shugary Sweets

Friday, March 10, 2017

Pineapple Almond Cookies

I know that spring is coming soon, but the weather in the Seattle area is certainly unaware of this. We’ve had rain, snow, hail and even thunder snow in the past two weeks or so. This week, especially the end of it, has just been a soaker. While I love cooler weather, even I am ready for a little bit of spring. I have three daffodils outside blooming that tells me it’s time. Until the weather decides to cooperate, I will have to get my spring in the form of spring baking.

Anything with fruit or citrus makes me think of sunnier days. These cookies are Hawaiian, which also makes me think of the sun. I had pinned this recipe some time ago, but I knew that the day would be right eventually. This recipe doesn’t call for dairy, which is good as one of my friends at work can’t have dairy. She doesn’t like coconut, so I decided to make pineapple almond cookies rather than pineapple coconut cookies. I think the slivered almonds add a needed texture to these cookies.

For a cookie without butter, it sure seems like they taste buttery. The pineapple and almond come together to create such a great flavor. I do like the crunch of the almonds, and think that these cookies would be bland without that crunch. Since they don’t contain butter, they don’t brown (except on the very edge) so it is difficult to tell when they are baked through. I baked one batch at 350, but I don’t think those turned out as well, so I would recommend just being patient and baking at 325 degrees. These cookies may look a little plain, but they taste great!
Pineapple Almond Cookies
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
3/4 cup crushed pineapple, well drained
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat the shortening, sugar, vanilla and almond extract on medium until combined. Add the egg and beat on medium until light. Stir in the pineapple, flour mixture, and almonds, stirring on low until the dough comes together.

Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, using about a tablespoon of dough for each cookie.

Bake for 17-20 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are slightly browned. The cookies themselves don’t change color very much. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

Recipe from Heather Tallman