Cookies

Morning Jolt Cookies – Gluten-Free Oatmeal, Peanut Butter, Vanilla, Coffee, Chocolate Chip!

My Morning Cookies - Oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate chips, molasses, maple syrup, vanilla and coffee!

I needed a jolt this morning.  Strong coffee, chocolate, molasses, peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla… what else could I throw into a cookie?  Yes, this is the way I wake up, especially on mornings such as today. 

I had an ambitious plan to wake up early (I went to bed at 10:30pm last night! It’s an ingenious idea I highly recommend), take the dog to the river, write an article and bake a batch of cookies before heading over to interview some filmmakers.  But then it looked like this:

Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky... stormy weather...

And the dog decided that nestling next to me was much more fun than going outside.  And I decided that hitting snooze five times was more exciting than going outside.  And together we decided that being adorable was much more vital than going outside.  And then, in a Herculean move, I made some decaf espresso (it’s all about mind motivation), put the dog in her sweater (I have become one of those people), and we hit the chilly, misty streets.

Oh, this also helped me get out of bed this morning.  Nothing like a little Gladys in the headphones when you’re out walking.  I want to be like her… oh so cool.

I’m interviewing filmmakers today for a new project (shh) I’m working on.  I lost the guy I was going to do this project with a few months ago and really want a new creative partner, so the next two days I’m interviewing 14 awesome-seeming individuals and am hoping to fall in business-love with one of them, or that one of the filmmakers at the company I’m squatting at falls in business-love with me.  And so I must bring cookies and milk.

I was so psyched by my healthy-ish Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies the other day I figured I’d take it a step further and throw in some mega-energizing peanut butter, coffee and molasses.  Keep it gluten-free, keep it dairy-free.

The result?

OK, so I ate one five for breakfast (in all honesty, it was two.  But I’m hypoglycemic so two feels like five.  I must immediately never stop eating cookies for breakfast).

And they are delicious.  Still a tad too sweet for moi, but most people will find them just-sweet-enough.  I baked one round without pressing, so they were light and fluffy, and used a spatula on the second to flatten and crisp them a little more.  Both are delightful.  You get the depth of the peanut butter, the punch of the chocolate, the whole-grain goodness from the flours and oatmeal, and the dark aftertaste of the molasses.  The coffee just strengthens all the other flavors – if you want a real coffee taste I’d suggest throwing in another tablespoon.

Now the rain is coming down and I’m drinking my second cup of decaf java, ready to write some articles and go meet some new people, and then meet a lovely man for some live bluegrass tonight.

I just got the Happy Days theme song in my head.  Not a bad Tuesday.

Flatter Version of the cookies

Notes: I used teff flour for fiber, millet for protein and the soft texture I love in cookies and arrowroot as a binding starch.  If you so choose, you can substitute this mixture for 1 3/4 cup of all-purpose pre-blended flour, such as one from Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur.  Make sure your oats are gluten-free and your shortening is fresh and preferably non-hydrogenated (I use Spectrum).  Also, please use real maple syrup and never a “pancake syrup”.  If you do, don’t tell me or I will cry, literally.  I used Sunspire’s dairy and gluten-free chocolate chips this time.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup arrowroot flour / starch
  • 3/4 cup millet flour
  • 1/2 cup Teff flour (or brown rice, quinoa etc)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon (or 1.5 tsp of another kind)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp instant coffee granules
  • 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill is awesome)
  • 1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Line heavy baking sheets with Silpat or parchment.
  • In a small bowl mix flours, gum, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Whisk to combine.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, beat shortening and peanut butter on high until smooth and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and beat on high until fluffy and almost marshmallowy in consistency (yes that is a word.  Now).
  • Reduce speed to medium high and add the maple syrup and molasses while mixing, beating until smooth.  Scrape the bowl down if needed to make sure it combines fully.
  • Add the vanilla and coffee granules and beat to combine, scraping bowl as needed.
  • Stop mixer, scrape the bowl, add the flour mixture and mix on low until incorporated, then at medium until fully combined.
  • Fold in rolled oats… hold on, timer is dinging… ok, I’m back.  Fold in the rolled oats one cup at a time until evenly distributed.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Drop onto prepared mats using a little more than a Tbsp (I used two large spoons and rolled the dough between until they were the size and nice little round shape I wanted).
  • If baking two sheets at a time, bake for 6 minutes, then rotate the pans (top to bottom and front to back) so that the cookies bake evenly, and bake for another 7 minutes.
  • If desired, halfway through the baking process flatten a bit with a metal spatula.
  • Bake until slightly brown, adding an extra 3 minutes if you want them a bit crispier.
  • Cool a minute or two on sheets before removing to cooling racks.
  • Enjoy with a glass of your favorite milk, a black coffee or a shot of insulin.

Rounder version

Gluten-and-Dairy-Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten, Dairy and White Sugar Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten, Dairy and White Sugar Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Autumn has hit New York City.  I’m typing at my desk by my window, and a sharp chill sneaks in.

It seems that, practically overnight, we’ve said goodbye to sundresses and sandals, to bare arms and walking in the shade.  One part of me loves this crisp air, and is day-dreaming of pumpkins and pie, of Halloween and Christmas cookies.  The other part of me is mourning how the streets are already a little bit emptier at night, how my dog is going in hibernation mode, how I have to buy new shoes to replace the ones I wore out through the city slush last season.  Of being cold for the next few months.

Saturday I took Mitra for a walk in Central Park with a friend, decked in worn fall boots and a scarf.  And when I got home I knew what I needed to get me through the weekend: oatmeal cookies.

I had spent the morning working out a recipe for a Dusty Baker reader in the UK (Hi, Peter!)  – and it wasn’t quite right.  The night before I had tried a sweet and savory cookie recipe for a local friend – it also wasn’t quite right (all I’ll say is peanut butter and duck fat… it’s coming).  I was a bit of a grumpy dusty baker.

So there was to be no failing with this recipe.  Not only did I have some friends I wanted to bring something sweet to, but I wanted to get back to the gluten-dairy-sugar alternative baking that is a major part of my food lifestyle, which had been neglected a bit by all the baking I’ve been doing for other organizations.  And I had a short amount of time before heading downtown again.

I looked at a bunch of cookie recipes – both those with and without gluten – and was shocked at the amount of sugar or sweetener the recipes called for.  White and brown sugar, and a lot of it?!  A cup and a half of agave syrup? No, thank you!

I wanted my cookies to be simple, wholesome and just-sweet-enough. 

So I used only 1/2 cup of maple syrup for sweetness, added a bit of dark molasses to replace the flavor missing from the absence of brown sugar, and added some flaxseed meal for fiber.  I used shortening for stability.  I added some black pepper for a savory kick, and threw in a healthy spoonful of my favorite Vietnamese cinnamon along with some freshly grated nutmeg (they’re totally worth it).  I followed the advice of Karina at the Gluten-Free Goddess and kept rice flour out of the recipe (I based my proportions off of her recipe, which  is stellar – thank you Karina!).

I love the results.  For me, these are the perfect cookies to dunk.  Slightly sweet and spicy, soft, a perfect vehicle for the delicious chocolate that sits nestled within the oatmeal.

They’d also be stellar with raisins.

Start to finish, it took me 45 minutes to make, bake and wrap 36 of these babies.

I was a happy camper.  I brought a few to a friend to nosh on over some cheap whiskey and a game of chess (which I’m not as bad at as I had previously thought) and to another friend I met up with for a post-show glass of wine.  And may have eaten a few for breakfast before heading off to a late brunch with food-blog people the next morning.  Followed by an awesome Bloody Derby and Stumptown Coffee.

OK, Autumn weekends in New York City can be pretty awesome.  This one was delicious.

Wait, what’s a Bloody Derby, you ask? Oh, let’s just say an incredible cocktail I introduced a few people to at the Ace hotel (and had to name).  I think it will go along swimmingly with a duck-fat cookie. Coming soon to a Dusty Baker near you.

I may have eaten this entire stack of cookies for breakfast today. Yes, salad for dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/4 cup millet flour
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds meal
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp dark molasses
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
  • 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup ground walnuts or pecans, optional

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats (totally worth the $).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk all dry ingredients up to the black pepper and set aside.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl) beat shortening on high heat until fluffy.
  • Add eggs, maple syrup and molasses and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes (beating the eggs gives a little lift and body to the coming flours).
  • Quickly beat in the vanilla.
  • Add all the flour, turn speed down to low, and mix until just combined.
  • Fold in the oats a cup at a time until distributed evenly.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips (or raisins!) and optional nuts.
  • Drop in rounded tablespoons onto mats.
  • Put in upper and lower third of oven and bake for 6 minutes.
  • Press down on each of the cookies with a metal spatula to flatten, then rotate the trays (switch upper and lower) to ensure even baking.
  • Bake for 7-9 more minutes, or until lightly browned. 
  • Cool a few minutes on trays before removing to cooling rack.

These are stellar when warm, and when dunked in a glass of unsweetened almond milk.

These will make soft and chewy cookies. If you like them crispy, turn heat down a bit and bake for about four more minutes.

Rosemary Mint Linzer Cookies for the Cure – Frosting for the Cause

Rosemary Mint Linzer Cookies to Cure Cancer

I am honored today to once again contribute to Frosting for the Cause with these Cookies for the Cure after being the guest blogger on September 11th with my Big Apple Cupcakes with NY Cheesecake Frosting.  Every day of the year, a blogger from around the world shares a story about someone that has been touched by cancer – specifically a women’s cancer – bakes and shares a special recipe, brings that baked good down to a shelter, hospital or community center, and makes a monetary donation to a cancer organization.  After being allowed to stretch the rules a bit and profile how cancer has affected 9/11 first responders, I was excited to step in for a second post this week and share with you this recipe and these stories today.

The stories:

Becky Hewitt

Becky Hewitt was 30 years old, married for five years with two children, when a lump in her left breast turned out to be Stage 2 breast cancer.  After a year and a half of treatment, she thought she had the cancer licked.  But two weeks shy of her 1-year cancer-free anniversary, she was feeling run down.  She was then diagnosed with Stage 4, terminal breast cancer.

In 2008 Becky signed up for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, a 60 mile walk over three days that take place all over the country.  Each walker raises a required minimum of $2,300 to participate.  In the past 28 years there has not been a major advancement in the battle against breast cancer that wasn’t funded in some way by a Komen grant.

Becky was asked to speak at the Saturday nightly ceremony in the meal tent, where thousands of walkers, crew members, volunteers and staff gather to share hot meals, discuss their walking journey, and hear the stories from others who have been so affected by breast cancer.  If you have a few minutes have a good watch, maybe with a box of tissues (it was Niagara Falls over here).

“I am now going through treatment and hoping every day that God gives me more time with my family.  I decided to walk because I thought by walking I could take a stand against breast cancer. I thought both my children could look back and say “wow, my mom walked 60 miles to find a cure for breast cancer”.  I want them to know how hard I have fought and how hard I have fought to stay alive to be with them.  To see both of them grow into young women and have children of their own.  I know that eventually this disease will take my life unless we find a cure.  But I know when I cross that finish line on Sunday that I have done everything in my power to find a cure for breast cancer…. My name is Becky, and I am walking because I want to dance with my children at their wedding.  I want to learn the fox trot and dance with my husband on our 60th wedding anniversary.  I walk because when I’m 80 I want to laugh until I pee my pants.  I am walking because I want my children to watch me die from old age and not to have to watch me die from breast cancer.  My name is Becky and I am walking because I believe everyone deserves a lifetime”.

Unfortunately Becky did lose her battle in February of 2011.  She had walked in several 3-Days by that point, with so many friends and family members, as well as other breast cancer fundraising events.  And in her honor this year, 24 people walked as team Becky’s Hope in the Twin Cities 3-Day for the Cure, raising over $50,000 for the cause this year and bringing Becky’s Hope’s grand total to over $170,000!

I never met Becky, but my team Walking for Udders chose the Twin Cities event as our 10th walk with the Komen organization.  Becky’s team was all over the walk: in the shirts  that her walkers wore in her honor, in the team members who were at every cheering station with signs, noisemakers, clapping hands, treats and big smiles, encouraging all walkers along.  They were delightful.  And made such an impact that as they walked over the finish line together, the crew members standing by to cheer (including my two sisters) knelt down on one knee and raised one of their sneakers in the air – a salute of support and respect at these events.

Team Becky's Hope Walking Their 3-Day Finish line

I was drawn to profile Becky because she is the perfect example of how a passion for life, a big heart and true friendships can inspire change and encourage people to act for the causes they believe.  And, as she died too young at age 36, she is also a reminder of why we still need to work hard to erase this disease.

Over the years we have walked for many people – friends, family members, family members of friends and friends of family members.  And as our miles added up we saw more and more pictures of walkers who passed away between walks – some who we walked with one year to find they were not there to walk again the following year.  My heart goes out to Becky, her family and her team.  I’m proud to make my donation for Frosting for the Cause to her team’s next walk.

To donate to Becky’s Hope in their 2012 walk, please CLICK HERE.

Dr. Bob Kirshbaum

I want to share with you one more very special person who we lost this past year.

Dr. Bob Kirshbaum was Team California along with his wife, Barbara Jo.  Barbara Jo is a hero in her own right – at age 73 she has walked in over 100 multi-day events for breast cancer, and raised over $1,250,000.00.  I met her years ago and have seen her at so many events.  And Dr. Bob.

While Barbara Jo walked, Bob would be on the sidelines throughout the route, from as soon as we took our first step until Barbara Jo walked over her daily finish line.  He would just be standing there, clapping, with a smile on his face, an encouraging “good job, keep going ladies” and a hug if you wanted one.  And, dotted throughout the course just when you needed them, would be bright pink pieces of paper with “Team California” in tiny letters on top, and a show of encouragement or a joke like this:

I’ve seen dozens upon dozens of these over the years, and walked several miles with Barbara Jo in different cities.  So when I saw the Team California signs on our Twin Cities route this year, I immediately got excited.  I looked for Dr. Bob all that first day, and well into the second, when I overheard someone talking about Bob and Barbara Jo, and asked where he was.

The woman told me that Dr. Bob had died the previous May, from cancer.

My heart clenched immediately.  We had truly lost a warrior in the battle against breast cancer, and a true friend of the 3-Day.

I finally found Barbara Jo on Day Three and walked with her a few miles.  We talked about Bob, what he had meant to so many people, and how generous the Avon and Susan G. Komen organizations had been in helping all they could when Bob was ill.  Barbara Jo is still walking, still raising money, and I look forward to seeing her at the Avon walk in NYC this October, and help her son-in-law put up those precious pink signs.

And I join thousands of walkers, crew members, volunteers and staff members in holding up this sign that the staff made:

Thank you, Dr. Bob Kirshbaum

To donate to Barbara Jo, please CLICK HERE.

The Donation:

Our team slogan is “GOT A MAMMOGRAM?”.  Raising money is so important when battling cancer, but so is raising awareness and educating.  Over the years on these walks I’ve had hundreds of reminders how important monthly self-exams and yearly doctors visits are.

As part of my 2011 fundraising, I promised to make a cookie for every $10 that was donated to my team.  So now I have about 400 cookies to make! This is the first batch of many, and several places will get the literal cookies in thanks.

But for this first one, I brought them to Women’s Health Care of New England, my local OBGYN office.  The doctors and practitioners and staff there are amazing – the kind of place that makes women feel comfortable with all the bits and pieces that go into womens’ bodies and womens’ illnesses.  I dropped them off with just a few words, received a few smiles, and enjoyed a huge breath in of health and happiness.

Linzer Cookies with Minted Peach Jam

The cookies:

I wanted to make Linzer cookies in the shape of hearts for my first batch, inspired by some beautiful ones I had seen my friend over at Cakewalker make.  So figuring, “why mess with perfection”, I doubled his recipe and prepared it with just a few modifications.

Click Here for Cakewalker’s Linzer Cookie recipe and some great photos and instructions.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup almond flour / meal
  • 2 cups white sugar, divided
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (one full lemon)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 2 cups jam
  • 4 Tbsp chopped spearmint
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Prepped and ready to go

Directions:

  • Mix the almond flour, white flour and 1/2 cup of sugar in a bowl – whisk to combine.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the remaining 1 1/2 cup sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated, scraping the bowl between additions.
  • Add the vanilla and beat to incorporate.
  • Add the lemon zest, cinnamon, salt and rosemary, and beat on low to combine.
  • In small additions, add the flour mixture and mix on low until combined, scraping the bowl occasionally.
  • When combined, turn the dough onto a floured board and knead a few seconds until smooth.
  • Divide into three pieces, shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until at least one hour or until almost hard.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  If you’re not crazy confident in your baking sheets, line with parchment.
  • Om a heavily floured surface roll the first disk out to about 1/4 – 1/8 inch thick and cut in desired shapes.  Make 12 cookies.
  • Continue to reroll and cut, cutting the second dozen with little windows.
  • Bake for 14 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges and let cool completely, a few minutes on the sheets and then on racks.
  • Repeat until all the dough is used.
  • Place the top cookies on drying racks and use a sifter to sift powdered sugar on top.
  • Mix the chopped mint with the jam, spread about a half teaspoon on the bottom cookies, and then sandwich with a cutout.

These cookies will be perfect when left for a few hours or overnight so the jam has some time to absorb into the cookies and glue them together.

My modifications to Cakewalker’s recipe:

I love using fresh herbs in cookies (see my Lavender Rosewater Shortbread and Lemon Poppy Butter Cookies, with Lemon Rosemary to come).  So when I added the lemon zest to the batter I also added 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped incredibly fine.

And because I happened to have almond flour/meal already (vital when obsessed with macarons), I just used 3/4 of a cup almond meal instead of toasting and grinding a cup of blanched almonds (his instructions are great if you use whole almonds though).

So, for about 36 filled cookies I made a double batch of his Linzer cookies cut out in heart shapes and then filled them with peach jam that my poppa made last year, laced with a LOT of freshly chopped spearmint:

Thanks so much to Paula at Frosting for the Cause, Cakewalker, Becky’s Hope, Team California and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure for this opportunity!

Love Love Love Linzer Cookies

Dairy-free Molasses Cookie Coffee Ice Cream Pie! A Recipe Swap!

Coconut Milk Coffee Ice Cream in a Molasses Cookie Crust

Did I stay in nights this weekend to make cookies and coffee ice cream?  Yes, yes I did, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  Nor am I ashamed to admit that I ate the piece of ice cream pie in the photo above as I started typing this entry – at 11am on a Sunday morning.  And another one later at night while watching True Blood.

I have no shame because this dessert – coconut milk coffee ice cream in a molasses cookie crust – is one of the most insanely delicious things I’ve ever made.  And it happens to be gluten-free, dairy-free  and sweetened only with date sugar, molasses, maple syrup and honey.

Other than watching movies and walking miles on end, this weekend was devoted to a BURWELL GENERAL STORE VINTAGE RECIPE SWAP!  Yep, it’s that time again, when a group of twenty or so bloggers get sent an old recipe that we each have to adapt, changing at least 3 things about the ingredients or process.  This month is an already gluten-free molasses cookie!

Please check out the other swappers!!  It’s always incredible to see how a talented group of inspiring chefs take one idea and run with it.  Details and links are below the recipe.

So, I actually didn’t really want to alter much of the recipe, as it looked simple and delicious.  I just changed the combination of flour and used date sugar instead of white sugar and a little maple syrup, bourbon vanilla and cocoa powder to add even more depth. 

The result?  These cookies taste incredible!  Soft, almost cake-like, and you can taste everything in them: the molasses, cocoa, vanilla, maple syrup and coffee.

But my version looked horrible.  Puffy, no spreading, rough.  I told my roommate they too closely resembled deer turds.  So I needed to take them a step further.  What to do with delicious but ugly cookies?

PIE CRUST!! And what better to put into the pie crust than coffee ice cream?!?!

So I followed the recipe in Simply Gluten and Sugar Free, using honey as a sweetener and maple syrup instead of Stevia.  An overnight chill and 20 minutes in my ice cream maker, and voila! One of the best desserts I’ve ever made and a new favorite.

I’ve been chomping down too many of these cookies this weekend.  And ate that pie with a huge pot of tea made with leaves my friend Jonathan gave to me from a monastery in China.  It think it’s time to get my Physique 57 on and then walk the 8 miles to my yoga studio.  So while I go do that, I leave you…

Coconut Milk Coffee Ice Cream Pie!

Coconut Milk Coffee Ice Cream Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup sticky / sweet rice flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup palm or date sugar
  • 2 eggs, thoroughly beaten
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 3/4 cup coffee, cold
  • 1 tsp bourbon vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Butter or grease thick baking sheets.
  • Sift together all dry ingredients in medium bowl.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, cream the shortening and sugar until smooth and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs and molasses and beat to combine.
  • Add the vanilla to the coffee, then add dry ingredients alternatively with the coffee, starting and ending with dry.
  • Drop in tablespoons onto sheets, flatten, and bake for about 15 minutes or until slightly soft.

To make into an ice-cream pie, simply crush about 16 of the cookies in a food processor and press into a shallow pie plate.  Place in the freezer to harden while you either process your ice cream or melt some store-bought ice cream to pour in.  I made and LOVED the recipe posted on Simply Gluten and Sugar Free.

Recipe Swappers
Lindsay is a gem with honesty and simplicity written into her recipes. She loves Oregon, its ingredients and Portland’s lifestyle, and it shows.
Chef Dennis. A veteran chef in his own right, we are lucky to have his Italian Lemon Pear Cae contribution to the swap.  The rest of his fantastic food blog can be seen at morethanamountfull.
Mari lives in Oregon wine country and is a budding wine connoisseur.  I fell in love with her use of Pinot Gris in the glaze for her (gluten-free!) Lemon Cake swap, which was her inaugural recipe with us. Visit her at The Unexpected Harvest.
Boulder Locavore’s  starting point for the recipe swap is always a local-seasonal-organic combination, though her love of international cuisine and cocktails often work their way into the mix!
Joy, holding down a dairy-intolerant household, doesn’t let that restrict her love of flavors and food, in fact, I think it inspires her to do what she does. When you visit her blog, be sure to check out her “ubiquitous about page” and the balcony gardening category.
Monique has been food blogging since 2007, her Fat and Happy blog is about food, recipes, cooking, baking, drinking, eating and friends! As the former owner of the Monkey Bean Cafe and Bistro, she still loves to create recipes from scratch. If you send her an unusual ingredient, she’ll create a recipe for you!
Shari Good Food Week is almost like my diary as I search for a house, plan the perfect veggie patch, stumble through farmer’s markets with my eye half open (because you need to be there at 6am to get the fresh eggs), gather family and friends around a shared table, laugh out loud and enjoy life to the fullest! Blogging from Canberra, Australia, I hope to bring a different perspective to the Recipe Swap.
Priya is also joining us from Australia. She’s a vegan who loves baking, cooking and eating, having chosen the lifestyle after being a vegetarian most of her life. She caters hand-crafted vegan and vegetarian food, and also delivers hand-crafted  vegan and vegetarian cookies and cupcakes.
Jennifer‘s tag line says it all: Life is too short to eat bad food.  At her blog, Adventuresome Kitchen, you will find a passionate food-type, feeding her family amazing meals and living to blog about it. Jennifer joined in at Grandma’s Chicken Pie and Drop Biscuits.
The Cake Duchess.  The name says it all, and Lora’s recipes are rock solid, creative, decadent, inspiring. What other adjectives can I throw at her?  Her innaugural recipe was Grandma’s Chicken Pie and Drop Biscuits, a rare savory recipe for her to develop.
Pola is a new blogger from Italy, transplanted to the cold Midwestern plains. After years of calling mom to check on cooking times and temperatures of family Italian recipes, she started writing them down. In the process, she is hoping to help new friends discover how to cook simple and authentic Italian food.
Mary is a lifelong resident of the San Francisco Peninsula and was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in 2007. Her search for a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie that didn’t taste, look or feel gluten-free inspired her blog and she’s been happily baking ever since.
Jamie blogs at Random Acts of Food and has a love for food that only an Italian could! She enjoys cooking and baking in all cuisines for her family and friends.  Originally from Long Island, Jamie now resides in Boston with her amazing fiance.
Crissy and Lauren are two So Cal natives and recent college graduates who are embracing their passion for all things culinary in their Little Yellow Kitchen. They blog at From The Little Yellow Kitchen about maintaining a balanced diet of equal parts healthy, savory, and sweet.  From a zesty Chocolate Mojito Key Lime Pie to a nutritional Rosemary Parmesan Kale Chip snack, this kitchen has it all.
Claire blogs with Texas pride from Dallas. She loves chicken fingers, Law and Order SVU and is left handed. We are excited to have her!
Sabrina Modelle  is the girl behind The Tomato Tart, a blog about the unadulterated love of food and cooking. Farmers markets, ethnic groceries, high-end restaurants and tiny taquerias all provide inspiration for the Northern California native who was raised in a French family with food at the center of life. From rich chocolate cakes to vegan curries, the Tomato Tart is full of flavor both figuratively and literally and like food, best enjoyed with a nice glass of wine.
Nicolle writes the joyful Rhythm of the Seasons from Boulder, Colorado and is looking forward to offering more recipes and menus as the spring, summer and harvest seasons heat up.
Linda is an award-winning journalist, food writer and nutritionist and Founder/Editor/Publisher of EENews, for sustainable food and sustainable life. She has written 20 cookbooks that have garnered prizes including the James Beard for one she wrote with her daughter, Katherine West DeFoyd, entitled Entertaining 101, Doubleday. Their follow-up book, Stylish One Dish Dinners, Doubleday, was also nominated for a James Beard prize. Her ground-breaking book, Bread in Half The Time, Broadway Books, was named the Best Cookbook in America by the prestigious IACP, The Julia Child Award.

Jaclyn is a writer, baker, perpetual daydreamer and the author of the cooking and baking blog Food+Words. She has a degree in Creative Writing and is currently studying Baking and Pastry at Le Cordon Bleu. Jaclyn loves poring through old cookbooks she inherited from her grandmother and reinterpreting those recipes with modern, updated twists. Jaclyn has a panchant for baking, laughter, a nice glass of Riesling and anything lemony.
Alli is a research nutritionist by day, transforming into a creative cook by night. She lives in Seattle and scours through her piles of cookbooks, magazines and restaurant experiences for easy ways to transform recipes into healthy and flavorful dishes.
Rachel Saunders is the owner of Blue Chair Fruit and author of The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. She produces all of her jams and teaches classes from her space in Oakland, California.
Lana is a native of Serbia, who has finally found her home in Southern California, after living for ten years in Michigan and ten years in Ohio. She is mother of three girls and wife to a token household male. her blog is a place where the love for words meets the love for food, a place where family and friends, old and new, gather around the virtual kitchen to reminisce, laugh and cry.
Emily thinks that no matter what it is, all foods taste better when made with love. From growing up in North Carolina with a Palestinian father with a passion for food and an American mother who really did not, to being the holiday sous chef to her real-chef brother, to moving to Brooklyn, the love of a good meal pumps through her veins. From her CSA to nostalgic junk food cravings, from the food truck to the fine dining scene, kitchen inspiration is around every corner.
Alex: I live in Seattle and while I have a typical desk job, my heart is in my home, baking, cooking and eating! I love reading about what other people are creating, so I decided to share my own creations. My blog is about food, but also things that I generally love in life. Since I love eating, I also have a huge love of fitness…so I can eat more!
Shumaila:  After I got married in March, 2010, and shifter to a town where take-aways and restaurants are next to none, I started cooking for the first time in my life. I have always loved baking, but cooking to me was completely new. I started experimenting with recipes for my husband and myself and found blogging the perfect way to keep track of things in the kitchen and also a way to document my first year of marriage. Being Indian, I also started a weekly blog posting “Garam Masala Tuesdays” to try, to the best of my knowledge, to explain the Indian recipes I try at home. I blog from Arizona, USA.

“Sleep no more! Macbeth hath murdered sleep!”

Cookies for Smith Street Stage's Macbeth, running in Carroll Park

“Sleep no more! Macbeth hath murdered sleep!” is an unforgettable line from one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays, where a seemingly good man and admired soldier eventually murders his way to a throne, his bloodthirsty, unsexed wife at his side.  The play is considered cursed by many in the theatre world.  In fact, you can’t even say the title within the walls of the theatre, or you may have someone make you exit the space, turn around three times and knock to be given readmittance.  Actors have broken limbs, shows have gone down, and luck has befallen those who utter that name.  Instead, it’s referred to as “The Scottish Play”.  When spoken of at all.

This week was all about Shakespeare’s Macbeth for this little Dusty Baker.

Punchdrunk

Sleep No More by Punchdrunk, UK.

SLEEP NO MORE by Punchdrunk

Tickets and Information

Company Website

Punchdrunk, a theatre company out of the United Kingdom, has brought New York City an incredible treat with their version of Macbeth, one that contains few words and where you have to go (literally) chasing for a storyline.  I can’t give you too much, because what this company offers is a completely different experience for everyone who walks in the doors of the McKittrick hotel they’ve created on 27th street by 10th.  Let’s just say this is a piece of physical theatre, a throwback to the “happenings” of the 60s I so crave and admire, and a breathtakingly designed work.  The friend who went with me and I had completely different experiences; she was following characters through their journeys of the 3-story, walking exploration.  I sat with an actor in an empty room, watching him sew silently, observing the audience walking about and how they did or did not become more bold by their anonymity.  For Punchdrunk gives everyone a mask they must wear for the duration of their experience, and insists on silence.  They purposely try to break up groups of friends so that you explore on your own.  They suggest a cocktail (horribly expensive at the bar) before you go in.  I second them on that.

For those who are sheepish, you can hold someone’s hand and search the cavernous space together.  And if you’re ever overwhelmed, there are black-masked crew members ready to take you to safety.  But I recommend doing exactly what Punchdrunk suggests: go in alone, a tad tipsy, and find the story of Macbeth.  Touch things.  Sit quietly.  Seek out dark spaces and be still.  Watch beautiful bodies give you glimpses of this horrific story.

And then grab drinks with your friends after and marvel at how awesomely different your shows were.

Macbeth by Smith Street Stage, Carroll Gardens, BK

MACBETH by Smith Street Stage

Runs through July 24th

Smith Street Stage Website

Friday night was the polar opposite of Sleep No More.  Well, not polar opposite.  Both shows utilized incredible performers and were smartly directed.  But where Sleep No More contained no text and was all about design and space, Smith Street Stage’s Macbeth was all about the story.  And damned good actors performing it with little more than a few daggers and chairs.

I love what this company is bringing to Carroll Gardens, a part of Brooklyn that I want to live in every time I visit, with an abundance of delicious-looking restaurants, green stores, boutiques… everything.  But until Smith Street Stage came about, the area didn’t have any free theatre in its gorgeous little park.  And it still doesn’t have much by ways of children’s art classes or family-friendly theatre events.  So I am incredibly energized by the creation of this talented company and their growing presence in the neighborhood.

I was blown away by their Macbeth last night.

Their performance space is in the middle of the park, this time set in front of a shelterhouse where they could use doors and have somewhat of a backdrop.  There’s a noisy playground to one side, neighborhood kids come and go around the space, and now and then a large truck rattles down Smith Street.  But these actors know how to work the space, and with minimal effort you get every word.

Which is the most important thing about getting to enjoy this piece.  The play contains some of the most beautiful lines the bard ever wrote.  And with some actors playing double parts and a script that’s heavy with military talk and royal titles, if you miss something you’re off for a while.

Which is where my praise for this cast comes in.  From Ben Horner’s Macbeth to Sam Rosenberg’s Banquo to the weird sister trio of Beth Ann Leone, Leal Vona and Patrick Harvey… I truly admire all of them.  I was especially moved by Mary Cavett’s “will this little hand e’er be clean” (paraphrasing) madwoman scene as Lady M. and Gordon Tashjian’s Macduff, who literally made my heart shake when he learns that his wife and children have been murdered.  It was a particularly incredible scene, very well directed (awesome in general, Jonathan Hopkins), treated with such gentleness and genuine respect despite the chaotic scene offstage in the park.

I’m not a fan of theatre in parks with craziness surroundings.  I produced a version of the Oresteia in Central Park a few years ago, and while I loved my cast I’ll never do it again.  And as much as I love Shakespeare, I know many of the plays so well that it’s hard for me to be moved.  So bravo, Smith Street Stage actors and directors.  Ruark Downey – excellent music again that shaped the piece and pulled it together.  Jessica Weiss – way to make fight choreography in the park fly.

Snag Macbeth Cookies at Smith Street Stage's MACBETH in Carroll Park

Oh, so why was I watching Shakespeare in a park when I’m generally not a fan of ANY theatre in a park?

Because (a) I love this company and (b) I had to bring them Macbeth cookies!  This is the same company that I recently did a benefit for, a concert version of Jesus Christ Superstar, for which I made Cookies for Jesus Christ Superstar.  So we chatted about what I could make for this show and voila!

This recipe is not my own – I simply made Saveur’s Classic Sugar Cookie Recipe and a basic royal icing.  It took a long time.  I definitely don’t charge enough to make up for the ingredients and time I put into them.  But I LOVE making them, and love this company.  So there you have it.

Now go see some Shakespeare!

Bloody Dagger Cookies - ooooh, so dark...

 

Vintage Recipe Swap – Sweet and Spicy Blueberry Molasses Jam Cookies

Ginger Molasses Cookies with Blueberry Ginger Lime Jam

I love the food-blogging community.  For the past few months I’ve been taking part in a Vintage Recipe Swap with Burwell General Store.  We’re sent a recipe and have to alter at least three things about it, then blog our creations on the same day.  I am always incredibly impressed with what the other bloggers post.  They’re truly inspiring, culinary masters that I have so much to learn from.  Please check out their sites (links at the bottom of this post).

This month’s swap is a Jelly Cake.  Check it out:

After my disappointment with last month’s Baked Potato Cakes I knew I wanted to make something decadent this month.  Something that would take some planning and patience and love.

This recipe is wonderfully simple in theory – two cakes sandwiched with jelly.  And I loved that the second cake was spicy with cinnamon, cloves and allspice.

So I decided to make only a slight variation on this classic idea with an easy blueberry jam nested in the middle of gluten-free ginger molasses cookies.  I love how versatile and mobile cookies are.  And while lying in bed, sleepless, one night, I thought how I could try the jam between two round cookies and also try it with the raw dough pocketing it before baking, much like an Italian or Polish pastry cookie.

It took three days in short bursts to make this recipe, which actually made it more relaxing of a process.  One morning I made the Blueberry Ginger Lime Jam.  I loved the fresh, organic blueberries I found at the market and figured I’d spice them up with a bit of ginger and fresh lime juice and zest.  I also made a smoky blueberry sauce with paprika that I then made into a martini.  Delish.

Smoky Blueberry Martini

The second day I made the cookie dough, then stuck it in the fridge and rolled and baked the next morning.  Fully refrigerating dough is a crucial step when making cutout cookies, especially when they’re gluten-free, in order to keep a clean shape and consistent texture.  In my earlier days I thought I could get around a few steps and still have incredible cookies.  Now I know that refrigerating dough, using parchment paper, keeping my gluten-free flours cool and rolling evenly are important keys to mastering this.

The result is a rich, spicy ginger cookie sweetly flavored with dark molasses.  Making them into pocket cookies yields a softer, pastry-like cookie, whereas the rounds have the perfect amount of gingery jam between.  They have a soft mouth feel, and hit you in two stages – first the spicy ginger cookie, and then the rich jam.  I love them.  Love love love.

Note: In this recipe I’ve measured out my preferred gluten-free flours and added some flax seed meal for fiber (it also helps baked goods gel a little bit more too).  All that’s important is that you have three cuts of gluten-free flour.  I recommend keeping your flours in the fridge as they stay fresher longer – it also helps when making a pastry like a cookie that needs to stay tight.  I also usually refrain from mixes that are high in potato flour or starch and only use one kind of flour – usually white rice.  Check out my gluten-free flour blends page for more ideas.

Another note: I used two types of molasses and maple syrup because I had small amounts of each and like using what you’ve got instead of purchasing excess.  Just make sure you have 3/4 a cup of molasses.

Buen provecho!

Sandwich and Pocket cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed meal
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup unsulfered dark molasses
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 egg

Directions

  • In a small bowl, sift together the flours, flax seed meal, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and xanthan gum
  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add molasses and maple syrup and beat to combine.
  • Add egg and beat to combine.
  • Slowly add in flour until combined.
  • Divide in half, flatten into disks and individually wrap in plastic.  Set in refrigerator at least two hours or (preferably) overnight.
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line 4 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Flour work surface with rice flour and roll disk to 1/4 inch thick, rotating dough regularly to prevent sticking (re-flour board as necessary). Cut into circles about 1 3/4 inch in diameter.
  • Bake for 12 minutes or until still slightly soft on top.  If you prefer crispy cookies, bake for 16 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and flip upside-down on a cool cookie sheet or flat work surface.  With the bottom of a shot glass or a small spoon, press a small circle into the bottom of each cookie.  Allow to cool completely.
  • When cool, fill 1 cookie impression with about a teaspoon of your favorite jam (mine was Blueberry Ginger Lime Jam) and use a second cookie to sandwich, repeating until all are done!

Store in an airtight container (preferably in the refrigerator) until ready to serve.  Alternatively, you can cut squares of dough, fill with jam, and make pocket cookies.  These will be a little softer and cake-like. 

Jam-filled sandwich cookies

Check Out the Other Creations From The Recipe Swappers!

  • CM is our Burwell General Store leader.  A food producer and writer, she’s based out of L.A. and has worked with the Food Network and Saveur, amongst many others.  Those are just my two favorites :)  Her site is, of course, divine.
  • Lindsay puts amazing honesty and simplicity written into her recipes. She loves Oregon, its ingredients and Portland’s lifestyle, and it shows.
  • Chef Dennis is veteran chef in his own right.  The rest of his fantastic food blog can be seen at morethanamountfull.
  • Mari lives in Oregon wine country and is a budding wine connoisseur.  Visit her at The Unexpected Harvest.
  • Boulder Locavore’s  starting point for the recipe swap is always a local-seasonal-organic combination, though her love of international cuisine and cocktails often work their way into the mix!
  • Joy, holding down a dairy-intolerant household, doesn’t let that restrict her love of flavors and food, in fact, it inspires her to do what she does. When you visit her blog, be sure to check out her “ubiquitous about page” and the balcony gardening category.
  • Monique has been food blogging since 2007, and her first recipe was a BLT-inspired chicken pot pie!
  • Shari is our first International participant!  Writing from down under, we cherish her voice in the swap because she brings the results of additional recipe challenges; the seasons are flipped from where most of us are blogging.
  • Jennifer‘s tag line says it all: Life is too short to eat bad food.  At her blog, Adventuresome Kitchen, you will find a passionate food-type, feeding her family amazing meals and living to blog about it.
  • The Cake Duchess.  The name says it all, and Lora’s recipes are rock solid, creative, decadent, inspiring.
  • Pola is a new blogger from Italy, transplanted to the cold Midwestern plains. After years of calling mom to check on cooking times and temperatures of family Italian recipes, she started writing them down. In the process, she is hoping to help new friends discover how to cook simple and authentic Italian food.
  • Jamie blogs at Random Acts of Food and has a love for food that only an Italian could! She enjoys cooking and baking in all cuisines for her family and friends.
  • Crissy and Lauren are two recent college graduates who are embracing their passion for all things culinary in the smallest yellow kitchen that ever was.  Their balanced diet of equal parts savory and sweet helps them add a little zest to what they do best!
  • Claire blogs with Texas pride from Dallas. She loves chicken fingers, Law and Order SVU and is left handed.
  • Nay blogs about food at Spicy Living from Portland, Oregon, and joined in on the Lemon Cake swap.  She incorporated lavender and lemon into cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
  • Cindy, food lover, all-around awesome person and her knowledge about US restaurants is almost encyclopedic. Check out her quirky and fun blog.
  • Sabrina Modelle blogs at The Tomato Tart from the San Francisco bay area, and for her first swap (the Lemon Cake) she made a Brown Sugar Lemon Rosemary Cake with Rosemary Caramel.
  • Nicolle writes the joyful Rhythm of the Seasons from Boulder, Colorado and is looking forward to offering more recipes and menus as the spring, summer and harvest seasons heat up.
  • Linda is a saucy Texan with an encyclopedic knowledge of food. She’s published many cookbooks, won many awards, and has been the source of many belly laughs. When she’s not writing books, her latest creations can be found at Everybody Eats News.
  • Tricia is the founder of Pietopia, an annual pie contest that asks “What does your life taste like, in a pie?” and her beautiful work as an eating designer and blogger can be found at Eating Is Art.
  • Jaclyn is a writer, baker, perpetual daydreamer and the author of the cooking and baking blog Food+Words. She has a degree in Creative Writing and is currently studying Baking and Pastry at Le Cordon Bleu. Jaclyn has a panchant for baking, laughter, a nice glass of Riesling and anything lemony.
  • Merry-Jennifer is a physician, a writer, a wife, a mother of two, and the author of the food blog The Merry Gourmet. She focuses on family-friendly original and adapted recipes – with an occasional cocktail recipe thrown in for balance.
  • Alli has a master’s degree in Nutrition and blogs at An Open Cookbook from Seattle, Washington. We met recently at BlogHer Food in Atlanta, and immediately hit it off. A warm welcome to her!
  • Rachel Saunders is the owner of Blue Chair Fruit and author of The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook. She produces all of her jams and teaches classes from her space in Oakland, California.

Blueberry Ginger Lime Jam and Smoky Blueberry Sauce with the cookies

Nutritional breakdown from Cook, Eat, Share

Lemon Poppy Butter Cookies

Lemon Poppy Cookies

This is another version of buttery shortbread cookies I’ve adapted from the Rosewater Lavender Shortbread that went over very well at an event last weekend.  I altered the recipe just a tiny bit – adding fresh lemon juice and poppy seeds and altering the amount of flour, as well as used arrowroot starch instead of cornstarch, which I didn’t have in my apartment (SO nice to be baking in my kitchen again).

These cookies are incredibly easy and only require a few ingredients.  They’re delicate with a buttery crumb, a nice tang and a sweet finish.

Lemon Poppy Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 20 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar plus more for dusting
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350°.  Line thick baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
  • Add eggs and beat until combined.
  • Add lemon zest and juice, beat to combine.
  • Add starch, 2 cups of flour and poppy seeds.  Beat at medium speed until combined
  • Continue to add flour until the dough comes together into a ball and does not stick.
  • Place dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes or until cool.
  • On a well floured surface, work with the dough 1/4 a batch at a time, lightly kneading flour until smooth and not sticky.
  • Roll into 1/4 inch, cut with cutters and use a spatula to transfer to baking sheets.
  • Dust with sugar.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway, until just browned at edges.
  • Cool on racks completely before storing.

Makes 36 medium cookies.

Notes: This recipe can easily be made gluten free by substituting the flour and arrowroot with a gluten-free proportion of 1 cup white rice flour, 1/2 cup quinoa flour, 1/2 cup arrowroot, 2 Tbsp tapioca starch and 2 tsp xanthan gum.  This is the mix I have on hand for cookies, making enough for several recipes at once.

Rosewater Lavender Shortbread

When traveling to perform, I get to glimpse into the lives and the vibes of different homes and cities. I’m currently performing in The Enchanted April at the Hampton Theatre Company and living in the director and producer’s peaceful, beautiful house right on the bay. It’s filled with plants and artwork from all over the world.  I take their dog, Mia, on morning walks past fields of flowers and houses with perfectly manicured laws.  From my attic suite (which makes me feel a little Louisa May Alcott as I write and draw), I can see water. When I open the window, the scent of flowers fills the rooms.

I feel extremely fulfilled from working with this character and this incredible cast, who have been so warm in welcoming me into their lives. And with some time to spare during the day (with rehearsals coming to a close), I’m baking some cookies for concessions. I couldn’t quite put a gluten-free, allergy-friendly cookie out there (both to limit costs and appeal to the appetite of this particular audience), but knew my contribution had to be something special.

The show is about four women who escape from their troubles in rainy London to a castle in Italy, where “in April it is simply a mass of flowers” as “bushels and bushels of wisteria” flank the terraces.  Eventually, they all find their happy endings, their hearts warmed by the Italian sunshine, the “unusually fresh” sea air and facing their demons amongst the company of strangers who soon become friends.

So my contribution is a traditional English shortbread cookie, laced with rosewater and dried lavender.  Simple ingredients, a little time and patience, and a beautiful, garden-scented result.

Rosewater Lavender Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 20 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened (I used Kerry Gold for the higher fat content)
  • 1 cup white sugar plus more for dusting
  • 2 eggs (plus egg whites for brushing)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 scant Tbsp dried lavender flowers
  • 3 scant Tbsp rosewater

Directions

  • With a hand mixer (or in a food processor) beat butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy, about two minutes.
  • Add eggs and blend to combine.
  • Add flour, cornstarch, lavender and rosewater and mix just until a dough ball forms.
  • Remove from mixer, separate into two balls and flatten into disks.  Wrap in plastic and put in refrigerator for at least one hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Line baking sheets with parchment paper and flour work surface.
  • If the dough is still too soft, knead in a little more flour.
  • Roll each disk into 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into desired shapes (I made both 1 1/2 inch and 2 inch cookies with success, both with round and fluted cutters.)
  • Use a spatula to transfer to lined sheets, wash lightly with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on size), switching racks halfway through baking, until slightly golden at edges.

Notes: I made two sizes (one to sell and smaller ones with the extra dough).  Other than rolling the smaller size a bit thinner and baking for a shorter amount of time, they came out with equally beautiful results.  The pictures above are of the larger ones that I brushed with egg white before sanding with sugar.  The picture below shows the smaller cookies that weren’t brushed.  To keep with the traditional sheen of a shortbread, I think from now on I will not egg wash the cookies before baking.

Smaller version of Rosewater Lavender Shortbread

Gluten-Free Cutout Sugar Cookies

Cookies of my boyfriend's face! And gluten-free!

What’s better than flanking a birthday cake with cutout cookies of the birthday boy’s face?!? Nothing!  I had been worried that the cookies in reality didn’t match the brilliant ones in my head, but when my roommate walked into the kitchen and burst out laughing, I knew I had at least achieved the right effect.

This past weekend was insane: I managed to race back to Connecticut after my week of rehearsals to work in my family office, then flew to NYC and made some gluten-free cookies I’ll soon be supplying to a cafe, attended a beautiful dinner to cheers the 30 years of one of my oldest friends, ran down to cut the cake wrapped in the boyfriend’s face, danced my heart out in a club, ran down Avenue A in the rain at 4am and made it back to the Hamptons for our first run-through yesterday.  Yes, I dropped a few lines in this rehearsal.  But overall it was a very fulfilling weekend.

But, wait.  When did I make these cookies?!

A full week ago!

A few weeks ago I made Saveur’s Classic Sugar Cookies recipe, being able to cut and ice them easily for a Jesus Christ Superstar Benefit.  So I figured it was time to make them gluten-free for the festivities.  But I knew I wouldn’t be in my kitchen at all this week, being out of town in a show, and so would have to make them in one precious evening in my apartment last weekend.

They worked! Rather easily and with little alterations, I used Saveur’s recipe and piped them with royal icing.  Then they sat out overnight before being refrigerated for the week.  Yes, they were not as fresh as they might have been.  But after a soft thawing they were still firm and smooth.  Honestly, the hardest part was not sharing or posting these pictures until the celebration – they made me laugh all week!

To make the sugar cookies:  I used a very basic gluten-free blend that I make of 1 part quinoa flour, 1 part arrowroot starch and 2 parts white-rice flour.  For each multiplication I add 2 tablespoons of tapioca starch and 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum.  So, for this recipe I blended 1 cup of arrowroot, 1 cup of quinoa flour, 2 cups of white rice flour, 4 tablespoons of tapioca and 2 teaspoons of xanthan gum in a container and then shook to combine.  In general I find this to be a great basic flour and keep it on hand.

I then used Saveur’s recipe to the last note, replacing equals parts of the white flour with this flour blend.

For notes and tips on making consistent, beautiful cookies with royal icing, check out my Cookies For Jesus Christ (Superstar) post.

Happy Birthday Cookies!

Cookies for Jesus Christ (Superstar) and rehearsing life

Cross Cookies for Jesus Christ Superstar Benefit

Weeks like this I love my life so very much.  But weeks like this also wear me down to the point where I run to Starbucks (gasp) and order a caffeinated Americano (double gasp)!!!

I’m currently in rehearsals for two productions – a benefit of Jesus Christ Superstar that’s happening this Saturday benefiting Smith Street Stage and a play in the Hamptons I started on this week.  I also am running / ran to my family’s in CT to celebrate the Easter holiday and am covering some writing gigs / an interview for a new gig.

So obviously I had to spend one day in the kitchen cutting, baking, piping and flooding 75 cookies in the shape of crosses.  I mean, what else does a gal do when she’s got an insane week?

Oh, and I’m also returning to the city tonight to prep my gluten-free Portuguese masa bread dough to be baked Friday morning for Easter on Sunday and collecting ingredients to drive to the Lower East Side and make malasadas (Portuguese fried dough / donuts) for a party after the Superstar benefit Saturday eve.  That is, the dough will somehow be made between rehearsal and dressing for the event and they’ll be fried after… in a small black dress and very high shoes.

Like I said, love and coffee.

But for now I can take a deep breath and look out at the water from my view in this beautiful house I’m staying in while rehearsing out in Westhampton – my director’s house is really one of the most beautiful I’ve seen, with an overflowing vegetable garden, art from all over the world, old furniture and rugs and an incredible energy.  I can be thankful, and quiet for a bit, and reflect on how much fun it was to cut, pipe and flood all these cookies before sticking them into bags.  I didn’t get to letter them as I had wanted to, as I literally just ran out of time in my week.  But I’m satisfied.

No recipe to post today, just links and tips for cutout cookies.

Cross cookies bagged and ready to go

Cookie:

Classic Sugar Cookies Recipe from Saveur Magazine

Tips for successful cut-out sugar cookies:

  • Get your butter soft, but not completely at room temperature.  I usually microwave mine for about 30 seconds, turning halfway through, to get it soft.  Too warm and it will practically liquify.
  • Cream the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.  Not long enough and they won’t provide enough structure when baking.
  • Only mix dough until incorporated.
  • Refrigerate.  I know sometimes dough is firm enough that you could just roll and cut, but this will change the texture when baking and contribute to loss of shape.
  • After cutting, stick back into the fridge on cookie sheets and let sit until the oven is hot.  Continue rolling and fridging successive sheets – don’t let them sit at room temperature.  Keeping the butter in the cookies cold prevents spreading when they’re baking.
  • Make sure your sheets are cold between rounds: I wash and stick mine in the freezer for a few.
  • Refrigerate dough for a little bit before rolling again.  The Saveur recipe is great at having you split the dough up into four disks instead of two, so you can always have something chilling while rolling something else.
  • This recipe made me 80 cookies about 4 inches high!

Piping and flooding makes for a smooth and hard surface

Icing Tips

I used a basic royal icing recipe with Meringue powder.  If you haven’t used meringue powder or powdered egg whites before, I highly recommend them.  They make getting a stiff but workable icing so much easier, with greater room for dusty mistakes!

I used a classic proportion of 4 cups of powdered sugar per 3 tablespoons of meringue powder.  I whipped them in my standing mixer and then added about 6 tablespoons of warm water.  At about 6 tablespoons it was perfect for piping.

  • Keep the icing covered in a towel between separating / changing consistency
  • Don’t worry about over or under watering – add more sugar or water as necessary
  • Always mix this thoroughly – when it comes to stiff peaks and has a glossy shine, it’s ready.  For me this took about 7 minutes on medium/high speed.
  • I found my piping texture to be a little looser than recipes I looked at – loose enough that it flowed too much out of a pastry bag.  So I used a paintbrush with ease, glopping some on and then spreading it around.  It set and dried smoothly.
%d bloggers like this: