peanut butter chocolate toffee cookies

I love browsing in the baking goods aisle in my local grocery store.  I particularly love looking at all the different kinds of baking chips — semisweet, bittersweet and milk chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, cinnamon chips, and on and on.  Among my favorites are Heath Toffee Bits.  There are two varieties — Bits O’ Brickle, which are just the toffee bits, and Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits, which are pretty much chopped-up Heath Bars.  I found this recipe on the back of the bag of the latter.  Ordinarily, I prefer not to bake with shortening, but I decided to bake them as written to see how they’d turn out.  I was concerned that substituting butter for the shortening would produce cookies with too much spread and that were too thin.  And they are pretty thin, even with the shortening.  Maybe next time I’ll try them with the butter and substitute baking powder for the baking soda (baking soda contributes to spread).  One more thing: the recipe cautions to be careful to not overbake the cookies. However, the cookies looked a bit raw at the 8-minute mark so I baked them for another minute or two.  Even then, I thought the centers were a bit iffy.  I had to cool them on the baking sheet for longer than the recommended 2 minutes as well; they were just too soft and fragile to move at that point.
The verdict on the cookies?  Thin and chewy, with crisp edges — I love how the peanut butter and chocolate toffee bits play against each other. Give them a try!
Heath Bits Peanut Butter Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen cookies. 
1/2 cup (95g) shortening
3/4 cup (202g) creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cups (284g) packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk (I used 1%)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups (181g) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups (8 oz. pkg.) Heath Milk Chocolate Toffee Bits
Preheat oven to 375°F. Beat shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add egg; beat just until blended. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Stir in 1 cup bits; reserve remainder for topping. Drop by heaping teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet; top each with reserved bits. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until set. Do not overbake. Cool 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

happy fourth of july!


I made these for a cookout this weekend. I glazed them with white icing and then dotted the cookies while the icing was still wet with red- and blue-tinted icings. Then I used a toothpick to swirl the colors around. The results were pretty cool-looking — they reminded me of the trails of color that fireworks leave in the sky as they die out.

The cookies themselves were from the Holiday Cookies recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. WPR.org posted the recipe here so I won’t repost it, but it’s one I’ve used before. I love it because it’s easy to work with and the cookies are soft and have great flavor. The icing is the shiny cookie glaze from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Cookbook.

King Arthur Flour’s Shiny Cookie Glaze
(reposted from Serious Eats, with my adaptations)
3 1/2 cups (14 oz.) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 tbs. (3 oz.) milk
1/4 cup (about 1.25 oz.) meringue powder
1 tsp. clear vanilla extract
Wilton icing colors

Place the sifted confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder in a medium-sized bowl. Add the milk and vanilla to the sugar and meringue powder and mix on low for 4 to 5 minutes, until the glaze is the consistency of molasses. Adjust the consistency with a tablespoon of water if necessary. Add icing color if desired. Important: keep the glaze covered while working with it to keep it from forming a skin or hardening up.
Use the spoon for apply the glaze to the cookies and spread using the back of the spoon, removing any excess. Place on a drying rack to let the excess glaze drip off and let the glaze harden and dry for several hours or overnight.

And here are some from the “let’s get rid of the rest of the dough and the icing” batch. They were decorated a bit differently!

gingersnaps

I have a tremendous soft spot for all things ginger, but I particularly love ginger cookies. My favorite ginger cookie is the double ginger cookie that we bake for our church’s Holiday Fair. They are a little plump (not much spread, but good rise) and are half-dipped in white chocolate. The combo is heavenly. But I don’t have that recipe.

I had a hankering for ginger cookies the other day and perused my cookbooks for something that would fill my craving. I found a recipe for Gingersnaps in my old stand-by — The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I had some misgivings about the recipe, namely that it contained shortening, but in the end, I couldn’t taste it at all. The cookies were chewy and pleasantly gingery… everything I was looking for. And even P. (who doesn’t share my ginger cookie fixation) enjoyed them immensely.

another practical is upon me

I’m wrapping up the first segment of my second trimester next Sunday — Cookies and Petit Fours. I’m shocked to find that I will soon have four Baking and Pastry classes under my belt; it seems like such a short time ago when I was so overwhelmed and crazy from the pace of the classes. Now it seems (mostly) like old hat.

Below are a few of the items we made during this segment.


Clockwise from top left: Raspberry Wreaths, Chocolate Biscotti, Checkerboard Cookies, Almond Spritz, Arachides, and Harlequins.

The Raspberry Wreaths have a layer of short dough on the bottom, with butter spritz dough and a raspberry jam filling on top. Chocolate Biscotti have chocolate chips in the cocoa-flavored dough. The Checkerboard Cookies are made with vanilla and chocolate shortbread. The Almond Spritz contain almond flour and are garnished with a sprinkle of almond flour and slivered almonds. The Arachides are filled with a mixture of Pralinosa (a hazelnut-flavored paste) and peanut butter and are dipped in ganache and sprinkled with toasted peanuts to finish. The Harlequins are made from short dough and are filled with orange jam.


Above are another Petit Fours — Japonaise Mochas. They are tiny Japonaise wafers sandwiched with a layer of a mocha-flavored Swiss Buttercream and are finished with a little more buttercream on top, a drizzle of chocolate and a mocha coffeebean. These were P.’s favorites!


And last are the Petit Fours Glacé. Two layers of frangipane, spread with thin layers of orange jam and topped with a thin layer of marzipan. The whole thing is glazed with a layer of poured fondant and decorated with a chocolate filigree. The sugar in these makes my heart race!

nick of time cranberry-white chocolate (and a whisper of oatmeal) drops

One of the perks of being a habitual baker is that I usually have a fairly well-stocked pantry. And even when it’s not well stocked, there are usually enough odds and ends that I can pull something together in a pinch if necessary. Case in point — this morning I received the call to send in a sweet goodie with L. for tonight’s teen book group. After perusing my pantry, I managed to cull enough oatmeal, dried cranberries and white chocolate for this recipe from the King Arthur Flour site. I didn’t have a ton of any of these particular ingredients so I halved the batch (just as well — we have a lot of other baked stuff in the house already).

oatmeal cinnamon chips cookies

I have a real weakness for oatmeal cookies. Maybe it’s because I can tell myself that they aren’t really naughty to eat, but are actually very healthy, like teeny disc-shaped bowls of oatmeal. I found this recipe on a bag of Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips.

Texturewise, they resemble Oatmeal Scotchies — thin, delicate and chewy. I don’t love how fragile they are — not great for gift giving or even storing for that matter. They are fairly light tasting, particularly when you take into consideration what I consider an almost ungodly amount of butter. And I love the caramel-tinged cinnamon chips. But all in all, they’re really just an average tasting batch of oatmeal raisin cookies. It won’t stop us from polishing them off lightning fast, but I don’t think I will be making them again.

oatmeal date cookies

Essentially the same cookie as the oatmeal raisin cookie I made a couple of weeks ago — I just substituted dates for the raisins. I thought they would be amazing, as I LOVE dates, but they were just okay. The relatively pure sweetness of the dates just didn’t contribute anything special to the cookies. I also inadvertently overbaked them; I used my new cookie scoop instead of shaping them by hand, so these cookies were about half the size of the earlier cookies. The overbaking actually makes them quite crunchy and somewhat more interesting texture-wise, but I still prefer the raisins.

awesome pb lovers’ cookies (aka get well soon cookies)

I love reading food blogs, as is evidenced by the lengthy list on the right sidebar. One of my favorites to comb through is Anna Ginsberg’s Cookie Madness. Some months ago, Anna posted the recipe for the Get Well Soon cookies she had created for a sick friend and I immediately bookmarked it for future use. I made them today for L.’s book group gathering and have taken the liberty of rechristening them (just for today) “peanut butter lovers’ cookies,” because (hopefully) none of the kids present are sick. These soft molasses-tinged peanut butter cookies, with chopped up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Dove Dark Chocolate and Reese’s Pieces, are quite addictive. P., who is not normally a big peanut butter cookie kind of guy, couldn’t stop eating them.

double chocolate chunks revisited

The last time I made these I ran out of confectioners’ sugar and wasn’t able to photograph them powdered as intended. I made these yesterday for an end-of-school-year party. The recipe is from King Arthur Flour and can be found here. Double Chocolate Chunks are soft and cakey, dotted with gooey chocolate chips. The espresso flavor really shines too. It’s rather hard to tell when they’re done since they are so dark and so soft… I’ve found that the best way is to taste one or two!

oatmeal raisin cookies

Oatmeal raisin cookies fall into a gray area for me. While I acknowledge that they are cookies, the fact that they also contain oats and raisins allows me to tell myself that they are more health food than guilt-inducing treat. I’ve even been known to let my kids eat oatmeal raisin cookies for breakfast. I understand that this smacks of bad parenting in some people’s eyes, but I stand firm.

Tomorrow L. and his compadres in his teen youth group are going on a hike at Blue Hills, so I decided to bake Oatmeal Raisin Cookies for their trek. I made a different recipe than my usual — this one was from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book (read Andrea’s Recipes‘ post about the same recipe here). I had misgivings initially because unlike the one I usually use, there is no molasses in America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe. Also the recipe does not contain that spice which screams oatmeal cookie to me — cinnamon (but I added some anyway, in addition to the nutmeg in the recipe). The resulting cookies are oversized, and crisp but chewy, very much like the America’s Test Kitchen’s chocolate chip cookies. L. can’t stop eating them — hopefully there will be some left for tomorrow!