Tuesday, April 20, 2010

[Cookie 074] Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies


You guys. It's almost summer.

Okay, maybe I'm jumping the gun a little bit (especially for those of you living in the other hemisphere), but I am still getting all giddy just thinking about the lovely smells, sights, and activities that come with the warmer weather. I only have TWO, count 'em two, more weeks until I am literally halfway done with my college education--but instead of thinking about that horribly scary notion, I pacify myself by forming mental to-do lists for the coming summer months. And it works, evidently, because I seem to have lulled myself into a false feeling of everlasting security when it comes to being entirely financially dependent on my parents! Right on! Graduating and getting a job in the real world? Hell, that's eons from now! Bring on 3 months of unemployed summer lethargy!


Yes, it's true, I am jobless for the entire summer. Well, that might not be entirely true, but until I've officially worked out some way to bring in the greenbacks, I'll be spending my days waking up early, enjoying homemade bread and homemade marmalade on the back porch for breakfast, and idling away my afternoons playing old country music records and printing black and white photos in my darkroom. God, that sounds way too good to be true.


Whoa, wait, where am I?? Cookies, right?? And where are my manners?! These are BIRTHDAY cookies for none other than my good friend D. Funny story: She likes Frank Sinatra--don't we all--but she, unlike most other people our age, genuinely refers to the act of having sex as "makin' whoopie." Naturally, when I saw this recipe, I immediately scrawled her name across the top so I would remember to make them in her honor. Done and done.


And they are very good. The individual cookies were actually too thick and bulky and I wished they had flattened out a bit just so the whoopie sandwiches would be a little easier to eat, but they were still tasty. And the peanut butter filling is to die for. Seriously, peanut butter + regular butter + powdered sugar + salt = just as good as makin' whoopie. There, I said it.


So I suggest you make these now, because once summer proper rolls around, I don't think you'll be in the mood for a cookie this heavy and rich. Southern-hemispherers, you can take your time--you're in it for the long haul now.


One small word of advice: if you're cookies end up as thick as mine, use a lot of filling. Otherwise the chocolate cookie obscures the flavor of the peanut butter filling and completely soaks up all the saliva in your mouth, leaving it dry, sticky, and chocolatey (in a bad way). Fortunately, this can be easily remedied with Milk: our Lord and Savior.


Also, I made a god awful mess making these guys. Let me just say: Avoid using a handheld electronic mixer in a bowl filled with nothing but cold butter and sugar. It was like Iceland in my kitchen. (...too soon?)

So, anyway, what are you all doing for summer/winter? Goin' anywhere fancy? Making anything? Learning anything? Makin' Whoopie Pies? Makin' Whoopie? Let me know! (Except for the latter--you can keep that between you and Old Blue Eyes).


Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Makes about 4 dozen (I halved the recipe, and still ended up with way too many)

  • For the Cookies:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, not Dutch-process
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Filling:
  • 2/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • Coarse salt, optional

  1. Make cookies: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl; set aside.
  2. Put butter, shortening, and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add egg; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in half the flour mixture, then the milk and vanilla. Mix in remaining flour mixture.
  3. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies spring back when lightly touched, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks using a spatula; let cool completely.
  4. Make filling: Put peanut butter and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on high speed until smooth. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add confectioners' sugar; mix until combined. Raise speed to high, and mix until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Season with salt, if desired.
  5. Assemble cookies: Spread 1 scant tablespoon filling on the bottom of 1 cookie. Sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. Cookies can be refrigerated in single layers in airtight containers up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 2/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 4/5
Tastiness: 4/5
Attractiveness: 3.5/5
Is it worth it?: Yes, I do believe it is.

Drink: Milk--nothing else will suffice.
Song: Makin' Whoopee -- Ray Charles (sorry but I'll take Ray over Frank ANY day...this version is the best)
Activity: Sexual innuendos aside, I'd say these cookies are great to enjoy with platonic friends as well.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

[Cookie 073] Buttered Rum Meltaways


Hey folks, so I don't feel like writing a whole post, because I'm lazy and I really need to sneeze, so I'm just going to leave you with the absolute bare essentials:


These cookies were good, but not great. Probably was my fault because I didn't have any vanilla extract, nutmeg, or cloves, so I winged it and used my favorite cheat spice: Pumpkin Pie Spice! Cookies definitely lacked flavor, but they did "meltaway" like the name says. Also I was just shy of the amount of rum I needed, so really, I should be reprimanded. Whatevvver. Anyway, I bet they would taste better if you actually bought the ingredients needed. Do as I say, not as I do.


Yeah, so that's that. They didn't do much for me, but I didn't really do much for them in regards to putting in any effort. Shame on me. Well, next week I'm making some really great cookies, so get pumped.


Buttered Rum Meltaways
Makes about 4 dozen

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Whisk flour, cornstarch, spices, and salt in a bowl. Put butter and 1/3 cup sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in rum and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture.
  2. Divide dough in half. Place each on a piece of parchment paper; shape dough into logs. Fold parchment over dough; using a ruler, roll and press into a 1 1/4-inch log. Wrap in parchment. Chill in freezer 30 minutes (up to 1 month).
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap logs. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds; space 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until just golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool 10 minutes. Gently toss warm cookies with remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Cookies can be refrigerated in airtight containers up to 2 weeks.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 2/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 3.5/5
Tastiness: 3/5 (But, don't trust my judgment)
Attractiveness: 4/5 (I like how they look a little "rustic"--ie. ugly)
Is it worth it?: I do not know. I think that's the first time I've said that.

Drink: More rum, duh.
Song: Dry Drunk Emperor -- TV on the Radio
Activity: Sneezing, because obviously I can't. This is driving me nuts.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

[Cookie 072] Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies


I think it's time I start getting real with all of you. Yeah, I seem so nice and lovely and admirable and fantastic and funny and brilliant and modest and everything great on this blog (shut up, don't argue), but the truth is, I'm not all sugar and spice and everything nice. I hate Starbucks and Whole Foods and think you shouldn't ever patronize either store, I can't stand Christmas songs, and I have absolutely no problem with the lyrics and message of this song:

Man, I really do love that song. So, is anyone still reading this? Have I alienated all of you yet? I just thought, you know, you should know a little bit more about the real me. Did I mention my finger nails are painted black today? Yeah WHADDUP don't fuck with me.


Okay, that's enough for now. I promise I'm not bipolar or that I suffer from multiple personalities or anything like that. Here, if I offended you, here's a recipe for some kick ass cookies that will make you forget everything you've just read in this entry.


These Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies are insanely addictive, and so simple. I actually thought that the recipe was going to be another one of those Martha recipes that wasn't fully edited and was missing key ingredients, but it worked out just right. The cream cheese is perfect and provides this hint of savoriness and tartness that's really awesome. Oh and don't even get me started about the dough...I nearly ate it all, alone. So not only am I a total badass, but a pathetic one at that.


Oh and be forewarned: I halved this recipe and still had a massive amount of cookies. This is good, and bad. Good because who doesn't like a lot of cookies?? Bad because bikini season is right around the corner. You weigh the pros and cons.


So, I hope this was an enlightening read for you. I hope you all start following Lil Wayne on twitter, because he'll be updating from jail through Lil Twist supposedly. And I mean seriously, his tweets are pretty great.

Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, (not whipped) room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups walnut halves (1 1/2 cups toasted and coarsely chopped), 1 cup finely chopped

  1. Whisk together flour and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in sugar and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and mix until just combined (do not overmix). Mix in toasted walnuts.
  2. Transfer dough to a work surface. Divide in half; shape each half into an 8 1/2-inch long log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in parchment paper; freeze until firm, about 30 minutes or up to 2 weeks.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 with racks in upper and lower thirds. Unwrap 1 log, and roll in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, coating completely. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake cookies, rotating halfway through, until golden around edges, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Repeat with remaining log and remaining 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 3/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 4/5
Tastiness: 4/5
Attractiveness: 3.5/5 (The toasted nuts look like purdy lil' gems...ain't that sweet)
Is it worth it?: Yes, it really is. These things are very very tasty.

Drink: Blood, Absinthe, or seven shots of Jack Daniels--depending on how badass you are feeling. Or combine them all!
Song: Roger That -- Young Money
Activity: Stealing candy from a baby

Monday, April 5, 2010

[Cookie 071] Chocolate Chip Cookies for Passover


This may seem late, posting a Passover cookie recipe on the last night of Passover 2010, but in reality, all Jews should be thanking me for this one. I've got your back, even if you don't know it yet.


Oh wait, where are my manners. Happy Easter to all those who do that, and hope y'all found lots of eggs and ate lots of hot cross buns or whatever you do. Honestly, I don't know the first thing about Easter (well, I know the first thing, but I bet you'd be surprised at my lack of knowledge on the matter), and though I am technically Jewish, I don't really know the first thing about Passover either (alright, I know a little more about Passover than Easter, I admit). Anyway, what I do know is that whenever we did the whole seder business in my family, I was always the one to recite the 4 questions, pile on to my plate an unjustly large portion of charoset, and was so terrible at finding the Afikoman that you'd think I was legally blind. Good memories. Oh, and one other thing I remember about Passovers past--the excessive remains of matzo lurking unhappily in our pantry in the weeks following the holiday.


Devoid of any real flavor (unless you're smart enough to buy the salted or seasoned variety), matzo is literally flour and water. That is all. Right, so we can all agree it's not bursting with umami-goodness or decadent sweetness. I, however, love its blandness; then again, I like eating sauce-less, refrigerated day-old pasta directly out of its tupperware container with my bare fingers, so take my opinions with a hefty grain of salt (pun intended!). So what's a Jew to do once Passover is over and we can all return to normalcy and eat our butter and jam on leavened bread like sane people? Make these cookies!!


Chocolate Chip Cookies for Passover--oh Martha, you kind, politically-correct Easter-obsessed gentile. I appreciate your consideration! These cookies were surprisingly tasty, even though they didn't bake up at all like they were supposed to. I have to admit, from the get-go I was strongly skeptical of this flour-less, dairy-less cookie recipe, but you have proven me wrong! And you have given all us matzo-burdened Jews a unique way to unload our "thank-god-it's-only-once-a-year" stash of mitzva matzo (ooh say that 5 times fast).


Enough blather, lets buckle down and talk cookie. As you might have guessed, there is no butter, no flour, no milk, nada in this recipe. So what is it? It's matzo meal, matzo farfel, oil, and non-dairy chocolate chips--the latter of which I most definitely did not search for, let alone even consider seriously for one minute (go ahead Moses, smite me!).

So where does the actual sheets of matzo come in? Well, funny story: I went to the market last week, went to the Passover section, and low and behold: NO MATZO MEAL. I went back a few days later, same deal. Three separate trips I returned home empty handed and bitter (how appropriate, right?) But really--come on!! Where am I? New. York. City. If I can't find matzo meal here, it must only exist in Jerusalem (and maybe some cities in Florida). But I fixed this minor dilemma by purchasing a box of regular, unsalted matzo and grinding it up to a medium-fine powder in my food processor. Done and done.

This definitely does not look like cookie dough...

Anyway, the recipe essentially has you just through everything together to make the dough. I did this, but the dough turned out far far far far far too liquidy to roll into balls of cookie dough, as the recipe dictates. Was this a result of my impromptu matzo meal? Perhaps. Regardless, I forged ahead, and the cookies spread out into thin pancakes in the oven. Fortunately, they were still good. However, if this does happen to you, I recommend letting them cool entirely before eating any. They really, truly don't taste as good hot and piping out of the oven as they do once they've had time to crisp up. Also, they don't last very long, and after a few days they get a little hard and chewy, so you've gotta pounce on that small window of delicious opportunity!


Alright folks, what have we learned today? Matzo can take the place of flour in a recipe...because matzo IS flour, just with the addition of water and the hot desert sun to bake it into a nice flat piece of sadness. There, there; dry those tears of salt water with this sprig o' parsley! Spring has sprung! Out with the old, in with the new, and bring on the harvest baby! Keep your first-born sons close and don't let the menorah candles burn out. Wait...I think I'm getting confused....


Chocolate Chip Cookies for post-Passover
Makes 2 dozen

  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • 1 cup matzo farfel
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together matzo meal, farfel, sugars, and salt. Whisk together eggs, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl. Stir egg mixture into sugar mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
  2. Roll dough into 1 3/4-inch balls; space 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until golden, 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 2/5 (Would be a 1, but I had to make my own matzo meal, which is painstakingly difficult...sarcasm)
Ingredient Accessibility: 2/5 (Location, location, location. South Americans...this is probably a 1 for you?)
Tastiness: 3.5/5
Attractiveness: 3/5
Is it worth it?: Sure, if not for Passover than just for the novelty of discovering a Jewish Martha Stewart recipe.

Drink: Milk! Juuuust kidding, I'm not that bad. How about some Manischewitz wine??
Song: I've had this baby on repeat for the past 3 weeks!!
Activity: Visiting the Egyptian wing at the Met--too soon? Bad taste? I can never tell...