Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cookie #48 - Nevada Sand Tarts

Nevada is such a fascinating state to me.  Over 85% of the state's 2.8 million residents live in Las Vegas and Reno.  Not hard to believe when you learn that 86% of the state's land is owned by the US Federal Government. 
Since most of Nevada is desert, I chose a cookie to mimic the texture of sand.  This cookie is crumbly and sort of dry, but the flavor is fantastic and the nuts make them nice and crunchy.

Nevada Sand Tarts

1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 confectioner's sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Cream butter, vanilla and sugar until smooth.  Gradually add flour and mix until just combined.  Stir in chopped pecans.
Shape dough into crescents about 2" wide and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until just golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
If desired, sprinkle with more confectioner's sugar.

Cookie #47 - Nebraska Haystacks

I first made these cookies about 10 years ago for Christmas.  I love the combination of the butterscotch, chocolate and peanut butter that coats the crispy noodles and peanuts.  The original recipe I used called for Spanish peanuts, but I'm not such a fan of them.  I chose to use plain old dry roasted, salted peanuts instead.  They salt the bring to the party really accentuates the chocolate. 

Nebraska Haystacks

1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup peanuts
1 small can of LaChoy Chow Mein noodles

In a double boiler, melt the butterscotch, chocolate and peanut butter until melted and well combined.  Be patient as the butterscotch doesn't melt as quickly as the chocolate and the peanut butter.  Just keep stirring and don't allow the mixture to scorch. 

In a large bowl, combine chow mein noodles and peanuts.  Pour melted chocolate over the noodles & nuts and mix until well coated.

On a parchment (not waxed paper) lined baking sheet, drop tablespoons full of the mixture into little piles.  Try to make the piles tall and not wide.  Put the baking sheet into the fridge to set. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cookie #46 - Montana MONSTER Cookies

I was first heard of these cookies it was from my husband's college buddy Jim and his wife Tricia.  They talked up these cookies so much that I had to try them myself. 

Imagine my excitement when I was searching for Montana cookies and this recipe came up in several results.  Initially, I was going to save them for October and Halloween week.  Since I love these cookies so much, the second the name graced my laptop screen I got a craving.  Montana Monster Cookies it is!

These are some serious monster cookies.  From the size of the measurements to the size of the cookies. Each cookie is about 4".  What's funny is, they're not overly sweet.  The peanut butter and oats really balance out the sugar.  You can add whatever you want to these cookies, too.  I've seen different recipes that use different dried fruits like cranberries and blueberries, Reese's Pieces, white chocolate chips, toffee chips, peanuts, walnuts - anything you'd like mixed into a cookie.  I kept mine simple - semisweet chocolate chips, raisins and M&Ms. 

What's also great is that this recipe contains NO flour.  Now, I don't know much about gluten-allergies, but I assume the lack of flour would make these cookies gluten-free.  Someone please correct me if I'm wrong. 

Now, obviously, this makes a TON of cookies.  Feel free to halve the recipe - I've done it before and it works better.  I halved it the first time I made them because the initial ingredient measurements wouldn't fit in my KitchenAid.  When I mentioned this to Tricia, she said she actually mixes the dough by hand.  Her reasoning is that if she does the actualy physical labor, she can eat more cookies.  I like that thinking. 

I also have this philosophy that if a cookie contains good for you stuff like oatmeal, peanut butter and raisins, you can totally eat them for breakfast.  Let's just say I ate Monster cookies for breakfast for about a week. 

If you're going to mix these by hand, be very certain that your butter and peanut butter are room temperature before starting.  It will make mixing the dough much easier. 

Montana MONSTER Cookies

1 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups packed brown sugar
3 cups chunky peanut butter (you can use smooth if that's your preference)
6 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
9 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups M&M's
3/4 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream butter, peanut butter and sugars together until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add vanilla extract, baking soda and salt.  Stir in oats until well combined.  Fold in chocolate chips, M&Ms and raisins. 
Drop by 1/4 cups full onto parchment line baking sheets, about 3" apart.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges just start to turn golden.  Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes to allow the cookies to set before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Keep the cookies tightly covered to ensure they don't dry out. 

Cookie #45 - Missouri Gooey Butter Cookies

St. Louis is famous for thier gooey butter cake.  It's traditionally served as a coffee cake and not as a dessert.  Sort of like a cheese danish, but better.  Traditionally, it was made with a sweet yeast dough as the bottom and the gooey butter portion on top.  Today, it's most often made with a yellow cake on the bottom.

For the gooey butter cookies, I took the basic ingredients for a gooey butter cake and mixed them all together and baked them as cookies.  Sort of a variation of the cake mix cookies I made for the Smith Island cookies. 

These cookies are soft and rich.  The tang of the cream cheese doesn't really come through, but rather seems to amplify the yellow cake flavor.  When Trusty Tastetester #2 (aka, my mom) initially tasted the cookie, she hated it.  Then, the flavors settled in her mouth and she was in love.  Two more cookies later, she finally decided that they were delicious. 

I mean, seriously look how soft and gooey they are inside.  Who can resist that?

One note about this recipe:  One of my tricks when I make recipes is I add certain things to compliment the flavors in the recipe.  For example, I'll add a little espresso powder to my chocolate recipes, a little extra salt to recipes with nuts, and I'll double the vanilla in recipes that call for vanilla.  DON'T DO THAT HERE.  The recipe calls for 1/2 tsp vanilla - trust me, it's ENOUGH.  I had to remind myself that I was already using a premade cake mix and the vanilla was included in the mix.  I think If I used a full teaspoon of vanilla it would have empowered the whole cookie and that's all you'd taste.  So don't do it.  No matter how much that full teaspoon calls to you....don't do it.

Missouri Gooey Butter Cookies

1 box yellow cake mix (I prefer Duncan Hines)
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter and cream cheese together.  Mix in egg until well incorporated.  Add cake mix and vanilla an mix until well combined.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined cookie sheets about 2" apart.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are slightly browned.  Cook for a couple minutes on the cookie sheets to allow them to set a bit.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

If desired, dust with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cookie #44 - Mississippi Mud Cookies

I found this cookie to be quite interesting.  When I first set out to making this, I was expecting a deep, chocolatey cookie.  Something crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  Something like a chocolate lava cake in a cookie or something like my mom's brownie drops (look for that recipe in December). 
This is not that cookie.
While crispy on the outside and crispy on the inside, it lacked that deep, dark chocolate I was craving.  Yet, it's quite yummy.  It tastes almost EXACTLY like a cup of hot cocoa.  I think they'd be far better with a bittersweet chocolate, though.
Now, a word about the marshmallows.  Please, please, please do yourself a favor and buy good marshmallows.  I made the awful mistake of buying a store-brand marshmallow for this cookie.  The marshmallows were almost crunchy.  They were super sticky and just plain strange.  Definitely not a sweet, fluffy marshmallow you'd like to skewer and roast over an open flame. 
After I discovered my marshmallow flub, I chose to bake half the batch without the marshmallows.  They were still yummy, but really needed that toasty marshmallow on top. 
Since I've never actually had a Mississippi Mud Pie, I cannot say if these cookies perfectly mimic the flavor of one.  I always imagined a MMP to be far more chocolatey than these cookies. 

Mississippi Mud Cookies

2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Miniature marshmallows (you need 3 per cookie, I didn't measure how much I used, but I didn't even make a dent in the bag I bought)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in a double boiler and set aside to cool.
Cream butter and sugar together until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add vanilla.
In a seperate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  Add flour mixture to egg/butter mixture slowly until just combined.  Don't overmix.  Stir in remaining chocolate chips.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment lined baking sheets.  Nestle three mini marshmallows into the top of each cookie.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until set. 
Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cookie #43 - Minnesota Munchers

Dear Minnesota: Why can't you have a nice easy state food that lends itself well to cookies?  I searched and searched for something that represented Minnesota.  I thought about perhaps doing a dual flavored cookie to play on the "Twin Cities," but I just couldn't find what I was looking for.
Then, I came across this recipe.  They're called Minnesota Munchers and won Taste of Home's Country's Best Cookies contest. 
These cookies are really yummy and I can see why they won.  Two types of chocolate chips, toffee chips and pecans (which I left out due to my allergy). 
Unfortunately, this batch of cookies is how I discovered where my oven's hot spot is.  Out of the 3 dozen cookies I made, only about 12 didn't come out with this lovely burnt bottom:

Boo to my Caloric.  Boo.

I chose to make these cookies slightly larger than the tablespoon recommended by the recipe.  The result was a wonderfully fat, soft, squishy, crunchy cookie that I just adored.  Yum!  You can see all the deliciousness that awaits you inside:

Minnesota Munchers

1 cup butter, softened

1-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup toffee baking bits
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Stir in the milk chocolate and semisweet chips, toffee bits, and pecans. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Cookie #42 - Michigan Buried Cherry Cookies

Every Independence Day weekend, Traverse City, Michigan holds the National Cherry Festival.  With over 500,000 attendees, the festival holds events like cherry pit spitting contests, cherry pie eating contests as well as a parade and the crowing of a Cherry Queen. 
In 1987, the festival was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for baking the largest cherry pie weighing in at over 28,000 lbs and over 17' in diameter.  That's a lot of cherries!!  Just look at the pan:

*photo courtesy of

For this cookie, I decided to try something a little different.  I found this cookie through Better Homes & Gardens Magazine.  My initial thought was to do a dried cherry, white chocolate chip cookie but that is so plain.  I wanted something with a different technique - something I've never done before.  This cookie fit the profile. 
A juicy maraschino cherry is placed in the center of a scrumptious almond scented butter cookie and topped with a chocolate topping before being baked.  The smell while baking was unreal.  The chocolate and almond fragrance filled my entire house and had some serious staying power.  I can still smell them and they've been out of the oven at least an hour.  My husband's favorite candy is those Queen Anne Cherry Cordials and he loved these.
I was really happy with how juicy the cherry stayed after baking.  You can see the juice on the cutting board in the picture below.  I hope they stay that way after sitting awhile.
The original recipe calls for a half cherry in the center of each cookie, but I chose to use a whole one.  I'm glad I did, because it really added a nice body to the cookie.  If you choose to use a whole cherry, you'll need to double the amount of cherries listed below.  I'm sure a half is just as good, but I had an abundance of cherries in my fridge begging to be used for something other than Rob Roys
The other change I made was I used semisweet chocolate for the topping because that was what I had on hand.  This was pure accidental as I couldn't sworn I had a bar of bittersweet chocolate on hand.  Perhaps it disappeared during one of my sleep-walking/sleep-eating episodes.  That's another story....

1 10-ounce jar maraschino cherries  (2 jars if you're going to use a whole cherry per cookie)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, *chopped  (I used semisweet and the flavor was good, but bittersweet I'm sure is better)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drain cherries, reserving juice. Halve enough large cherries to make 42 to 46 pieces. In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and almond extract until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place balls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press your thumb into the center of each ball. Place a cherry in each center.
For frosting, in a small saucepan combine chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate melts. Stir in 4 teaspoons reserved cherry juice (I had to use more). Spoon 1 slightly rounded teaspoon of the frosting over each cherry piece, spreading to cover cherry.** (Frosting will be baked on the cookies, so it should be thick. If it is too thick, thin it with additional cherry juice.)
Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are firm and just start to brown. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool. Makes: 42 to 46 cookies

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cookie #41 - Massachusetts Tea & Honey Cookies

"On December 16, 1773, after officials in Boston refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, a group of colonists boarded the ships and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor. The incident remains an iconic event of American history, and other political protests often refer to it." - Wikipedia

My first thought for Massachusetts was to do a Boston Creme Pie cookie.  Then I started to think about it:  I had yet to see a tea flavored cookie, so I was anxious to try my hand at it.  After a bit of searching, I came across a few recipes for all sorts of tea flavored shortbreads, cookies and cakes.  Black tea, green tea, white tea - and this really awesome looking stuff called matcha (which will have to make it into a cookie later).  I chose to do a shortbread type cookie and sweetened it with honey.  The resulting cookie was dry like a shortbread and the flavor was very subtle.  I was pleased with how these turned out and think that after some further tweaking, they could really be an excellent cookie.

Massachusetts Tea & Honey Cookies

2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp tea (I used Earl Gray tea right from the tea bag)
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream butter and honey together until smooth.  Sift flour, salt and baking soda together in a small bowl and add slowly to butter and honey.  Stir in tea.
Roll into 1" balls and place 2" apart on parchment lined baking sheets.  Flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass dipped in flour to prevent sticking.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the bottoms are just golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Cookie #40 - Maryland's Smith Island Cookies

Smith Island is located off the coast of Maryland in the Chesapeake. It's Maryland's only off-inhabited off-shore island in the Chesapeake with a population of about 375. 
In April 2008, the state of Maryland declared the Smith Island Cake to be it's official dessert.  The cake consists of 8-15 thin layers of cake with chocolate frosting and crushed candy bars in between.  The traditional flavor is yellow cake with chocolate frosting and it is often made with boxed cake mix.  During my research, I did find a few "scratch" recipes, but most that I came across used a mix.  What I thought was funny was that even though a cake mix was used, a canned frosting was not. Most recipes I came across used a cooked chocolate icing.  When you see the cake, you'll know why.  The layer of icing is thin - both between the layers and on top.  To achieve this look, a thinner icing, like a cooked icing, is ideal. 
When I started to think about how to translate a Smith Island Cake into a cookie, my original thought was to do a layered cookie.  Plan A consisted of baking thin vanilla wafer type cookies and layering them with chocolate icing.  After some consideration, I felt that type of cookie would be quite cumbersome and difficult to eat.  Plus, the thin, crispy vanilla wafer wouldn't really mimic the soft cake.  As the day for the Maryland cookie drew near, I started to panic a little.  I still had no idea what I was going to do.  I thought of abandoning the idea and just do an Old Bay savory cookie.  I couldn't.  This was a challenge and I had to see it through.
Then, I had a brainstorm.
What if I made the cookie from yellow cake mix?  It would be the perfect flavor and consistency - just like the cake.  Then, rather than layering them, I'd just ice each one with cooked chocolate icing and top with crushed candy bars.  I focused on capturing the flavor and texture of the cake, rather than the appearance.

Smith Island Cookies

1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs

2 sticks butter

2-12 oz. cans evaporated milk
8 heaping Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2 lbs. confectioners Sugar
3/4 cups toffee chips for decoration (or crushed candy bar of choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix cake mix, butter and eggs until well combined.
Roll into 1" balls and place 2" apart on parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges just turn golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To make icing:

In a medium saucepan, melt butter.  Remove from heat and stir in evaporated milk.  Whisk in cocoa until smooth and return to heat.
Cook for 10 minutes - but DO NOT BOIL.
Remove from heat and whisk in confectioners sugar slowly.
Return to heat and slowly cook, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Icing will coat the back of spoon.  Set aside to cool.
After cookies are cooled, pour about a tablespoon of icing over each cookie and top with toffee chips or crushed candy bars.  Allow icing to dry before transferring to a resealable container to store.

**Photo from The Cheesemonger's Wife

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cookie #39 - Maine Blueberry Biscuits

I have this very fond memory from my childhood of picking blueberries.  One summer, I was invited to my friend's grandparent's house in Monticello, NY a few times to spend the weekend.  On Saturday mornings, we went out in their backyard and picked wild blueberries for pancakes.  I can almost taste those pancakes.  The blueberries were so tiny and sweet, I had never tasted anything like it before.   
I often think about that summer.  Of riding in the bed of her grandpa's old rusty pick up holding onto a canoe and getting pelted with pebbles from the gravel road we traveled to the lake.  We made up a game that it was hillbillies in the woods shooting at us as we drove by.  We swam in that murky lake until we were water logged and the skin of our finger tips was wrinkled like a prune.  We'd fall asleep in sleeping bags on the covered porch to the sound of the crickets, cicadas and owls. 
Sadly, this friend and I grew apart as some childhood friends do. Our freshman year of high school, our grandmother's both passed on the same day. We came together for a short period during that time of grief and I shared with her my fond memory of her gran's blueberry pancakes.
Fast forward to today, and my 3-year-old daughter's obsession with blueberries.  I keep a bag in the freezer for her.  She'll eat them frozen and be covered in blueberry juice by the time she's done.  I actually bought her a special bib just for blueberry eating.  Actually, it's a smock.  Hey, kid's clothes are expensive and it's the next best thing to letting her eat naked.  Here's an example of what Miss Nee looks like after a bowl full of blueberries:

Now onto the cookie.  These biscuits are known by a rather strange name, which I'm not particularly fond of.  They're called "Smashed Fly Biscuits" because, well, the little dried berries look like smashed flies. Yuck.  They're traditionally made with currants, but I substituted dried wild blueberries. 
They are scrumptious.  They're not an overly sweet cookie - more like a shortbread.  The sugar on top adds a nice crunch and extra sweetness and the egg wash gives them a beautiful glossy finish.  They'd be perfect for breakfast with a cup of tea (or in my case, a Diet Coke - yes, I'm one of those).  I ate a good portion of this batch in the car on my way to work and, of course, I had to share some with Sydney.  Thank goodness they're dried and didn't make too much of a mess on the way to preschool.
I adapted this recipe from a few different ones I found while researching the Smashed Fly Biscuit.  Most of the recipes I found where British and therefore the ingredients are listed by weight. 

Maine Blueberry Biscuits
8 ounces softened butter
6 ounces sugar
2 eggs, separated
Zest of one lemon
14 ounces AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 ounces of dried blueberries (that was the package size I could find)
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
Cream butter and sugar together until smooth.  Beat in egg yolks until just combined, then add lemon zest. 
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and add slowly to the butter/egg mixture until well combined.
Stir in dried blueberries.
Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll dough on a well floured surface until about 1/4" thick.  Cut into desired shapes (I used a 2 1/2" scalloped circle cutter).  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 2" apart.
Chill the cut out dough for about 15 minutes before baking. While the dough is chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies are just starting to turn golden.
Whisk the egg whites with about a tablespoon of cool water.
Remove the cookies from the oven and brush one cookie at a time with egg white and then sprinkle with turbinado sugar. 
Return to the oven for about 5 minutes more until the edges are golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cookie #38 - Louisiana Praline Lace

Praline Lace cookies are a wonderfully versatile cookie.  They can be formed into a variety of shapes and used as a crispy, nutty vessel for mousse, ice-cream, or fruit.  I like the non-pecan version (made with almonds) filled with Nutella mousse and raspberries. 

I have only one problem with these cookies.  I have never, ever been successful with them in the summer.  This time was no exception.  They were fantastic for the first day - the next day the humidity wreaked its havoc on my beautifully molded cones and cigarettes causing them to fall flat.  I ended up with a sticky, buttery heap.  I've resigned myself to the fact that these will be my fall & winter cookie.  How the heck do they manage these in the bayou? 

Louisiana Praline Lace

2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Combine pecans and flour in a small bowl.
In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup (spray the measuring cup with cookie spray to help the syrup slide from the measuring cup).  Bring to a boil.
Remove from heats and stir in pecans and flour.
Transfer the batter to another bowl and cool, stirring occasionally until mixture is cool enough to handle - about 20 minutes.  In the mean time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For cookies, roll into 1" balls and place 3" apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. (If the batter is sticky, spray your hands with cooking spray before rolling.)
For cones, roll into 1 1/2" - 2" balls and place 7" apart on a parchment lined baking sheet - only two per cookie sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes.  Allow to cool about 3-5 minutes or until cookies are firm, yet malleable.
For cookies, leave as is or roll around a chopstick to create cigarettes (which can be later dipped in chocolate). 
For cones, form cone shape and use a small spice bottle to keep the cone shape while the cookie cools.
For bowls, drape the warm cookie over a small custard cup and allow to cool.
Fill cones and cups with mousse, ice cream, berries or whatever you desire.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cookie #37 - Kentucky Mint Julep with Maker's Mark Fudge Topping

Did you know that even the little airline bottle of Maker's Mark comes with that famous red wax seal? I was quite impressed at that attention to detail.

At the Maker's Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky, the Toll Gate Cafe has these most wonderful cookies. The cookie portion itself is absolutely one of the best cookies I've ever had. It's a sweet cookie full of minty chocolate pieces. I loved the cookie by itself, but the bourbon fudge topping took it to a whole new level. I made my whiskey-loving man very happy with these cookies.

My only warning: since you don't actually cook the fudge topping, I'm not sure the warmth of the melted chocolate is enough to actually cook the alcohol out.

Toll Gate Cafe's Mint Julep Cookies with Maker's Mark Fudge Topping

2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely ground oats (I just ran them through the food processor)
2 cups Andes Mint Chocolate Candy pieces

Fudge topping:
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 to 1/2 cup Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Preheat conventional oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar and eggs until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix flour, oats, baking soda, salt and mint chocolate candy pieces. Gradually add to butter mixture until incorporated. Drop by rounded tablespoons 2" apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in until edges are golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
In a double boiler, heat chocolate chips until melted, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and add sweetened condensed milk and bourbon, whisk until well combined. 
Top cooled cookies with a teaspoon or so of warm fudge.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cookie #36 - Kansas Sunflower Cookies

I was so excited about these cookies.  I love sunflower seeds.  Since Kansas' state flower is the sunflower, I knew I had to do a cookie that featured these little nutty gems.  Then I came across this recipe from Midwest Living magazine.  They're sweet and nutty and crunchy and, well, flat.  They turned out very similar to a lace cookie (which I love) only crunchier. 

Then I compared my version to the cookie from the magazine.  They looked nothing alike.  Not even close.  I don't know what I did wrong, but apparently I did something.  Even so, the cookies came out quite yummy and I think I ate half the batch myself. 

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup shelled sunflower seeds

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add the sugars and beat till combined.
Add the eggs and vanilla to butter mixture, and beat till combined. Using the mixer, beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can. Stir in any remaining flour mixture by hand. Stir in the oats, coconut and sunflower seeds.
Drop the dough by slightly rounded tablespoons about 3 inches apart on several lightly greased cookie sheets lined with foil.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 to 9 minutes or till lightly browned. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Makes 60 cookies

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cookie #33 - Illinois Lincoln Logs

I have NO idea how I did this, but I seemed to have skipped cookie #33!!!!  At first, I thought I missed an entire day, but I didn't - I just jumped from cookie #32 to #34.  I'm convinced it was because I was so excited about the checkered flags, but in reality, it was problem just my mommy brain.  I'm constantly striving for that perfect balance between all the different aspects of my life - work, kids, husband.  For some reason, the summer just seems to add extra pressure.  I'm menu planning for summer parties, prepping for our vacation in three weeks (yippee!), and making sure Sydney has all her necessities for daycamp in addition to my regular stuff.  It's no wonder I missed Illinois. 

Illinois = the Land of Lincoln.  I'm immediately reminded of Lincoln Logs.  I never had them as toys growing up - I was more of a Tinker-Toy kinda gal.  These cookies are dense and super chocolatey.  They have a great texture - not to dry and not too moist - and the chocolate chips add some creaminess.  The original recipe I found called for a frosting on the cookies.  I initially thought the cookies didn't need it - they were sweet enough - so I skipped it.  In retrospect, I wish I'd frosted them.  They needed just a bit more sweet to balance the bitterness of the chocolate.  Frosted, I think they'd look a little like the buche de Noel I make every year for Christmas.

Illinois Lincoln Logs

1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweeted cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Cream brown sugar and shortening together until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla until well mixed. 
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. 
Add half the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until well mixed. 
Add water. 
Add remaining flour until just combined. 
Stir in chocolate chips. 
Chill dough for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll dough into 2" logs and place about 2" apart on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake for 7-9 minutes until set.  Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cookie #35 - Iowa Popcorn Cookies

When I came across this recipe for popcorn cookies, I knew they'd be perfect for Iowa.  The recipe comes from a cookbook called Forgotten Recipes by Jaine Rodack.  The cookbook is an amazing collection of recipes from 1870 on.  There are some gems in there like Ice Box cake which is always a family favorite.

The popcorn cookies are this fantastic light and airy meringue.  They're crunchy and sweet and melt in your mouth.  I encountered two small problems when making them:  the popcorn and the cook time.

I found the presence of the hulls of the popcorn an unpleasant surprise when biting into these cookies.  Most likely, it was the type of popcorn I used.  I used a microwave popcorn and I didn't get a very good total kernel pop.  I was very careful to only select the popped corn, but it was still very hull-y.  Next time, I think I'll process the popped corn in a food processor to make sure I get an even mince.

As for the cook time, the recipe instructs you to bake the cookies a mere 7 minutes at 375 degrees F.  This is no where near enough time to properly cook the meringues.  I let the cookies rest on a cooling rack after I baked them.  They were still sticky and gooey, so I decided to do what I do with all meringues.  I lowered the oven temperature to 325 degrees and put the cookies back in.  I immediately shut off the oven and kept the cookies in overnight without opening the oven door.  When I removed them in the morning, they were the perfect light, crispy texture I'd hoped they'd be.  You can see just how light and airy they are:

See the popcorn kernel inside?  Yum!!

Iowa Popcorn Cookies

2 egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
4 tsp butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 cup minced popped popcorn
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped, toasted almonds
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Keep beating as you gradually add the sugar.  Beat until stiff.
In another bowl, combine butter and popcorn (I skipped this step because I used butter flavored popcorn).
Fold into egg whites.  Add vanilla and salt (I also omitted the salt).
Drop by teaspoonful onto parchment lined baking sheets. Top with toasted almonds.
Bake for 7 minutes.

If they don't turn out crispy, you can do what I described above:  lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.  Return cookies to the cooler oven and immediately shut the oven off.  Leave the cookies in the oven overnight - NO PEEKING!! 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cookie #34 - Indiana Checkered Flags

In 1909 the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built.  Two years later, Ray Harroun won the first Indy 500.  There was much controversy over the first race and many believe the driver who came in second, Ralph Mulford, was actually the winner.

I chose a cookie to represent the victory flag of the race Indiana is so famous for.  I chose a variation of Martha Stewart's Checkerboard Cookie recipe.  The cookie is a combination of a chocolate and vanilla butter cookie with a hint of lemon, but I must admit, the chocolate flavor dominates.  The cookie is crumbly and butter and ideal with a cup of coffee or tea.  They require a lot of patience and practice to get the checkers just right.  This was my first attempt at a cookie like this, and I was pleased with how they turned out - even if the checkers were a little wonky.  Hey, we can't all be as perfect as Martha, right?

My only piece of advice is to not let the cookies chill too long.  If they are too cold, cutting can be difficult (think about trying to cut a stick of ice cold butter into 1/4" pats) and will crumble under your knife.  I also don't suggest halving the recipe like I did.  You end up with too little dough to properly form the checkerboard pattern and it was quite frustrating.  If it's warm in your kitchen, you might want to chill the dough slightly to facilitate rolling the layers. 

I also have to excuse the horrible picture.  The only excuse I have is this:

 It seams when you put your camera away and it's still turned on, the battery runs out.  Doh!  Guess it's time to invest in a second battery, huh?  So, I had to snap a pic using my iPhone since these cookies were GONE before I could get a proper picture. 

Indiana Checkered Flag Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 large egg

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until well blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract, lemon extract, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, scraping down sides of bowl.

Turn dough out onto a clean work surface; it will be loose and crumbly. Knead dough by pushing small amounts away from you with the heel of your hand for 1 to 2 minutes. Divide dough in half. Sprinkle cocoa powder over one of the halves. Knead until cocoa has been fully incorporated.

Place each half of the kneaded dough between two sheets of plastic. Using a rolling pin, shape dough into two 7-inch squares, about 3/8 inch thick. Using a sharp knife and a ruler, slice each square into nine 3/4-inch-wide strips.

Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Cover work surface with plastic wrap. Place three strips of dough on plastic, alternating white and chocolate strips. Brush tops and in between the strips with egg wash. Gently press strips together. Repeat, forming second and third layers, alternating colors to create a checkerboard effect. Wrap assembled log in plastic. Repeat process for second log, reversing color pattern. Refrigerate 30 minutes, or freeze 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. line a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper. Slice each log into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place on baking sheet. Bake until done, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven, and let cookies cool 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cookie #32 - Idaho Potato Chip Cookies

I find it intersting that Idaho is nicknamed the "Gem State" because nearly every gem known has been found there.  That's pretty darn cool.  I've never known Idaho to be famous for gems, just potatoes - and boy, do I love potatoes.  I can only think of one way I don't like potatoes:  potato salad (and that's only because of my irrational fear of mayonnaise. 
I heard about potato chip cookies quite a few years ago during a cookie swap.  I thought the idea was intriguing.  I'm a fan of chocolate covered potato chips, so why not in a cookie? 
I'm going to be brutully honest here.  I was not impressed.  I thought the potato chips got soggy - like potato chips do after being left in a bowl all day outside at a barbeque.  Kind of squishy.  Perhaps it was the humidity or the moisture from the cookie in general.  The flavor itself was good.  Salty and sweet and not at all potatoey.  It was just the texture that threw me off.

Idaho Potato Chip Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 cup crushed potato chips

Preheat oven to 350F.
Cream together butter and sugar until smooth.  Mix in egg.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt, then stir into butter mixture. Stir in potato chips.
Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto parchment lined baking sheets, about 2" apart.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until light golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.