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The Great Cookie Experiment- Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

The Great Cookie Experiment- Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

 I love cooking spooky Halloween food.  Every year, little magazines come out with Halloween recipes, and I collect them fairly obsessively looking for the perfect recipes.  I have a large stack.  Some are so old, they’re falling apart, but I love them, and keep buying more.  I might need professional help for this obsession.  There is ONE Halloween food that I must admit disappoints me- Halloween cookies.  Christmas is easy- almost anything can be classified as a Christmas cookie if you want it to count.  Halloween is much harder.  You either have to have pumpkin in it, or it has to be shaped like something spooky, or it has to be black or orange.  It is not that easy to find unique cookies for Halloween that are more than just sugar cookies decorated to look like pumpkins.  Or bats.  Or ghosts.  Or whatever shape you have cookie cutters for.  I have maybe ten recipes in all of those stacks of cookbooks.

 

Luckily, Taste of Home came out with this awesome Halloween issue last year, that has many different Halloween themes, and some excellently unique and tasty cookies!  It is my current favorite Halloween cookbook, and I plan on having a lot of fun with their ideas.

 

In the meantime, I tried their recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.  I decided I needed these to deliver to neighbors this season, and I’m really glad they were so delicious!  The cookie itself only had a little pumpkin in it, but it was rich with spices and I would say the cookie could stand on its own without the filling, no problem.  Some whoopee pie variants have a bland cookie, and I love this spicy cookie much better.  As for the filling…well…I always have a hard time with whoopee pie fillings.  It’s a shortening based batter that’s thickened with flour, and it always tastes kind of….bland.  I like butter cream frosting or cream cheese frosting so much better, but that isn’t a traditional whoopee pie.  I liked this filling, however, because over time it absorbed the spicy taste of the cookie, and the two complimented each other very well!  I would suggest that you serve these the next day if you want that flavor blend.  Don’t feel like you have to wait, though, they’re still very good.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

 

1 cup shortening

2 cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 ½ cups flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

½ cup canned pumpkin

Filling:

¼ cup flour

dash salt

¾ cup milk

1 cup shortening

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla

 

Cream shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Beat in vanilla.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger.  Add to the creamed mixture alternately with the pumpkin.  Drop by rounded Tablespoonfuls onto greased baking pans.  Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon.  Bake at 400 for 10-11 minutes.  Cool.

 

For filling, in a small saucepan, combine flour and salt.  Gradually whisk in milk until smooth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Cover and refrigerate until cooled.  Beat shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Add chilled mixture.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Spread on the bottom of half of the cookies.  Top with remaining cookies.  Makes about 2 dozen.

 

Julie

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

My sweet hubby needed cookies for a work party.  When he asked, very nicely mind you, I started thinking chocolate chip cookies…a certain favorite…but it wasn’t quite right.  With summer setting in I wanted something brighter and fresh.  I pondered lemon bars, but remembered that I’d seen this recipe for lemon crinkle cookies and was sure I had it pinned somewhere.

So I popped over to pintrest and wandered through my cookie pins until I found what I wanted.  I adjusted this recipe to use Ultra Gel, which I honestly use in close to all of my cookie recipes.  Living in Utah we fight both altitude and humidity when it comes to baking.  Food dries out easily and adding the Ultra Gel and a little extra liquid helps everything stay good longer.  Not that we ever have a hard time working our way through cookies!

These cookies turned out really good.  They have nice crispy edges with a smooth creamy center which makes me happy.  These are powder sugar dusted, very traditional for crinkle cookies, which makes for a bit of a sticky situation on fingertips.  It wasn’t a bad thing, but means you’ll want to separate layers of the cookies with waxed paper if you freeze very many of them.  All in all I’m really glad I made a double batch.  :)

Find the original recipe here.  Add two teaspoons of Ultra Gel with the dry ingredients.

lemon crinkle cookies

The Great Cookie Experiment Pinterest Edition- Sugar Cookie Bars

The Great Cookie Experiment Pinterest Edition- Sugar Cookie Bars

 

I love sugar cookies.  I love frosted sugar cookies.  I’m not such a big fan of rolling out and cutting out the sugar cookies.  This is why I save sugar cookies for a holiday like Valentine’s Day because a holiday makes the labor more fulfilling.  I don’t really make them any other time of the year.  This recipe, however, changes all of that.  Sugar cookies in bar form!  Make the dough.  Press in the pan.  Bake, frost, and cut in squares!  No cookie cutters!  No rolling pins!   No fuss!  If I want something seasonal, I can just color the frosting and add the sprinkles I like.  No problem!  Completely Delicious, the lovely blog where this pin comes from, has a great thing going here!

 

One problem.  One tiny problem.  These sugar cookie bars are also substantial.  They are heavy and thick and rich and super filling.  I cut these generously, and I shouldn’t have.  These were a LOT of cookie, and much smaller little square servings were definitely required.  Friends weren’t finishing the one cookie they got- not because they didn’t like them, but because….wow….this is a LOT of cookie.

 

Serving size aside, I can see turning to this method to get a sugar cookie fix on occasion- especially for a husband who adores sugar cookies and hopes that some neighbor makes us some for Christmas, because I don’t do sugar cookies until Valentine’s Day.  I may try to use my favorite sugar cookie recipe, perhaps using a bigger bar pan to press them thinner.  Either way, sugar cookie bars are a great idea!

 

You can find this recipe here:  http://www.completelydelicious.com/2010/03/sugar-cookie-bars.html

Sugar Cookie Bars

The Great Cookie Experiment- Buttercups

The Great Cookie Experiment- Buttercups

I’m leery of homemade sandwich cookies.   This is because they taste fabulous, but you are technically eating two cookies, which, if you are watching what you eat, is cheating.    In the case of these Buttercup cookies, two rich buttery cookies with a brown butter frosting sandwiched between them and a dollop of jam on top is a LOT of two cookies to be eating as one.  I ate three.  That’s six cookies, if you are doing the math.  Then I ate two more the next day, which is four more cookies.  Sandwich cookies are dangerous traps, my friends.

And they’re worth it.  This is a very tasty cookie.  I loved the brown butter filling, and using Cornaby’s raspberry jam gave it a lovely burst of fruity flavor.  There was just one problem.  I needed way more jam.  There were arguments among my friends how best to eat the cookie.  Some were for eating it in a circle to get a little bit of jam in each bite.  Some were for eating all the cookie section, leaving the little circle of jam for one delectable bite of fruity goodness.  My strategy became more of deconstructionist strategy.  I sucked out the jam, separated the two cookies and licked off the brown butter frosting, then ate the cookies.  I needed to make the center of the second cookie bigger to make room for more jam so there weren’t these issues.  I also really need to get me some scalloped cookie cutters in varying sizes to make it easier and prettier.

Definitely try these.  Play with different flavors and shapes.  Plan on giving them away or sharing them because when one cookie is really two, you can find yourself eating a lot more than you planned on!

buttercups

 

Buttercups

1 cup butter, softened

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2 ½ cups flour

Filling:

¼ c butter

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

¾ tsp vanilla

5 Tbl water

¼ cup Cornaby’s raspberry jam

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Gradually add flour and mix well.  Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 2 hours or until easy to handle.  Roll out each portion on a floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut with a floured 2 ½ inch scalloped cookie cutter (I didn’t have one of these).  Cut a 1 inch hole in the centers of half of the cookies.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.  Cool.  Heat butter in a small saucepan until golden brown- about 7 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Gradually add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and enough water to make it spreadable.  Spread on the bottoms of the solid cookies.  Top with remaining cookies.  Place ½ tsp jam in the center of each.

The Great Cookie Experiment – Raisin-Chip Oatmeal Cookies

The Great Cookie Experiment – Raisin-Chip Oatmeal Cookies

 

There is just no pleasing everybody.  It’s impossible.  I give up.  This is a cookie that to ME would be wonderful because it has a little bit of everything.  Raisins, chocolate chips, oatmeal, coconut, nuts, cinnamon.  Yum!  Except that I make my cookies to bring to our regular Saturday night game nights.  One friend hates coconut and most nuts.  Everytime I make a cookie with those things in them, he looks at me like I kicked his favorite puppy.  Like I made them just to punish him.  I’m just making the cookies as they come in the Taste of Home magazine, good or bad.  It’s not as if I’m deliberately picking the things he hates.  This time, I figure I will be nice and leave out the coconut and nuts, since they are bonus ingredients anyway.  The REAL treat is the combination of the chocolate and raisins.

 

At game night, friends start to sample the cookies.   One friend takes a bite, makes a face and says, “EW!  Why did you put in RAISINS?  I thought these were chocolate chip!”  He wasn’t impressed at my argument that raisins were “Nature’s Candy”.  He gave the rest of the cookie to his wife, and ate the other goodies there.  He would have been happier with the coconut and nuts.  And the friend who hates the coconut and nuts?  He wasn’t there.  He’d have liked the raisins.

 

This cookie has everything in it, and that means that probably somebody in your family will hate something in it.  You will have to figure out which things to put in and leave out.  I should note, that this is a cookie recipe designed for bake sales because it makes TWELVE DOZEN COOKIES.  I did not make twelve dozen cookies.  I cut the recipe in half, and that was plenty of cookies all by itself.  If you are making these for a bake sale or something, please remember that this cookie has everything in it which means that most people will hate something in it.  You can’t please everybody.  Don’t’ even try.

 

And as a note to my friend who hates nuts- next week’s cookie has pecans in it.  Stop looking at me like that, I didn’t kick your favorite puppy!

Raisin-Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Raisin-Chip Oatmeal Cookies

 

2 cups butter, softened

1 2/3 cups sugar

1 2/3 cups packed brown sugar

4 eggs

3 tsp vanilla

4 cups flour

2 ½ cups quick cooking oats

2 ½ cups old fashioned oats

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3 cups chopped nuts

2 cups raisins

1 cup coconut flakes

 

Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Beat in vanilla.  Combine dry ingredients.  Gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, and coconut.  Drop by Tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  Makes about 12 dozen.

 

The Great Cookie Experiment – Orange Dreams

The Great Cookie Experiment – Orange Dreams

 

I have seen several versions of this cookie floating around the internet, and I have been excited to try this one.   This is an orange cookie with vanilla chips and the idea reminds me of a dreamsicle- orange on the outside, creamy vanilla on the inside.  Mm.  Dreamsicles.   I think this is why these cookies are named Orange Dreams.  I’m pretty sure.

 

The cookies were a little dry- they stayed roundish instead of flattening out the way I like them to.  They tasted very good, and most everybody liked them.  I wanted MORE orange, however.  There’s only a bit of grated orange rind in the dough, so there was the occasional hint of orange, but for me there wasn’t enough.  Maybe a splash of orange juice and bit more orange peel would add more flavor, and solve my dry cookie problem in the meantime.  I would say, however, that this is a cookie that would be pretty reliable- it tastes good, and is unique enough that people will be impressed with it.

Orange Dreams

Orange Dreams

 

1 cup butter, softened

½ cup sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 Tbl grated orange peel

2 ¼ cups flour

¾ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 ½ cups vanilla or white chips

 

Cream butter and sugars.  Beat in egg and orange peel.  Combine the dry ingredients, and gradually add to the creamed mixture.  Stir in vanilla chips.  Drop by rounded Tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Makes about 4 ½ dozen.

The Great Cookie Experiment – Elven Lembas Bread, aka Shortbread cookies

The Great Cookie Experiment – Elven Lembas Bread, aka Shortbread cookies

This is not a cookie experiment, because it’s a basic shortbread cookie.  I’m sharing it however, because it was my daughter’s birthday, and she wanted a Lord of the Rings party.   There were a bunch of teenagers coming over to my house, and I figured food was probably a good idea.  We set up a Lord of the Rings feast, with foods that may have been from, or at least inspired by the events of The Fellowship of the Ring.  We had meat pies from the Inn of the Prancing Pony, crisp fried potatoes from the Shire (aka potato chips), Dwarven Ale (homemade cream soda), Vegetables from Farmer Maggots crops, Apples from Buckleberry Orchards, an Elven cake from Rivendell, and of course Elven Lembas bread.

 

In the books, Lembas bread is supposed to fill you up after just one bite.  It is made by elves, so it’s probably pretty yummy.  I figured that Shortbread cookies would fit the bill pretty easily.  It’s yummy, and it has a ton of butter in it, which is enough to fill you up after just one bite.  Perfect, right?

 

There are no surprises here with this recipe.  I made the dough, rolled it out, cut it into squares and baked it.  If I had looked harder, maybe I could have found some banana leaves or something to wrap them in, but I was satisfied with just putting them on the plate.  Five teenagers were there at the party.  Except for a few my husband and I snitched, they ate every cookie.  About two dozen of them.  They also ate both bags of “crisp fried potatoes”, all but two meat pies, all the vegetables and left two apple slices.  I’m glad there weren’t six of them!

 

Either way, the “Lembas Bread” was a hit.  It will be for you, too.

Elven Lembas Bread

Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

¾ cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

¼ tsp salt

Beat together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth.  Beat in vanilla.  Mix the flour and salt together, and add to the creamed mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for an hour.    Roll out onto a floured surface, and cut into desired shapes (in this case, square).  Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes.  Makes about 2 dozen.