Messenger Lemon Cookies

crunchy and gooey

I wanted to make something speical for my friend Mel’s birthday, but we were going to be traveling in a car, so a traditional cake wouldn’t survive. I thought of regular drop cookies because they are oh-so-tasty, but they aren’t screaming “Happy Birthday!” in that festive way that cakes do.

Then, as I was about to go to sleep one night,  it came to me: large sandwich cookies with “Happy Birthday Mel” carved into the tops! Perfect! I based it on a scrumptious-looking ginger lemon recipe from Elinor Kilivan’s book “Big Fat Cookies.”

The cookies turned out tasting great- the almonds and spices make it hearty and flavorful- but they were a little bit messy. The lemon curd filling I made had fantastic lemon flavor, but oozed out the sides of the cookies, even after refrigeration! So, I am including Elinor’s powdered sugar-based filling in the recipe here. Although I haven’t tried it, I am confident it will come out better than what I used!

I used the extra dough and filling to make sandwich cookies with holes in them, as pictured here. This recipe makes 10 large cookies. (more…)

Fudgy Mint Cookies

devil's fresh breathA while ago I bought a bag of mint baking chips because they were on sale. What a silly reason to buy something! ;) I put them in the freezer and promptly forgot about them. When I was organizing my overflowing freezer this weekend, I decided to finally get creative with the mint chips. I read the recipes on the back of the bag and they sounded plain awful… sweet mint is a strong flavor and one that I am particular about when it comes to baked goods. Then I remembered one of my all time favorite cookies- Mint Condition made by the Pacific Cookie Company. A large, dense, rich, chewy chocolate cookie with lots of mint chips. I found an America’s Test Kitchen recipe for chewy chocolate cookies and modified it to make it even chocolatier and chewier. I also substituted mint chips for the semisweet chips it called for. And, I’m happy to report that these cookies are just as good as the ones I was reminiscing about!

A few tips: the cookies will be chewier and thicker if you refrigerate them as the recipe reccomends. If you don’t have time to refrigerate them for hours, at least put them in the freezer for 10 minutes or so before baking so that they don’t turn out thin and crunchy (unless you like that sort of thing). Also, when you pull these out of the oven, they will look underdone. Trust the timing and sample them when they are cool. I tried leaving some in the oven a little bit longer than the recipe recommended and they were fine warm, but once they cooled they were very crunchy and hard.

 The recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies or more, so feel free to halve it if you don’t need a bunch. You can also spoon the dough into balls and freeze them for up to a month, adding about 4 minutes to the cooking time when you decide to bake them. (more…)


I’ve always fancied these mini rolled up pastry-like cookies called rugulach. Although, I never knew how to pronounce them. To myself, I called them roo-gaa-lash, but man I must have sounded like such a hick! They are to be pronounced ru-gu-luhk (or something like that). I’m just glad I don’t have to be able to pronounce the things to blog about them!

The traditional rugalach recipe is made with cinnamon and sugar and sometimes raisins and nuts. I wanted to try something a bit different, so I found a recipe called Golden Rugalach on the Food Network’s website. I made the dough ahead of time and froze it, so all I had to do was remove it from the freezer, slice and bake to have warm delicious cookies anytime!

These cookies are so cozy and warming. They are soft and sweet with a little bit of crunch around the edges. They are also fantastic with tea!

This recipe makes 50 2 1/2 inch rugalach. (more…)

Baby Raspberry French Macaroons

Until recently, I only knew a macaroon to be a big chewy coconut cookie. However, I discovered a very different type of macaroon when my friend Jojo took us to a bakery in San Francisco called Miette. What they called a macaroon looked to me a lot like a meringue. I have never been fond of meringue, so I wasn’t attracted to these cookies. But, the friendly lady behind the counter offered me one to sample. Oh boy! These were no puffy air-filled balls of sugar! They had a chewy almondy texture and a rich flavor. And the bakery had so many different types to choose from! Besides tasting good, these little treats were sooooo cute that I was determined to make some for myself.

In doing research on the french macaroon, I learned how finicky the batter is and how easy they are to mess up. I also learned about an italian method which involves heating the ingredients before baking them. I read that the french method is easier to learn, so I went with that. They are actually pretty easy to make if you take your time and pay attention to the details. They have remarkably few ingredients and don’t take long to assemble.

I decided to go basic with my first recipe and found a plain macaroon shell with a raspberry white chocolate filling recipe in Desserts Magazine. These cookies turned out to be really cute, but a little too sweet for my taste buds. Both the cookie and the filling were a little on the sweet side. They also didn’t taste as almondy as I would have hoped. So, if you like sweet meringue and sweet berry filling, this recipe is a good one. They turned out beautifully and so adorable! I think I’ll keep searching though for that amazing confection made by Miette.

This recipe makes approximately 50 1 1/2 inch macaroons. (more…)

Gingery Stars & Snowflakes with Frosty Icing

Q. What’s better than watching snowflakes fall? A. Eating them! Especially if they aren’t made from frozen water, but instead from gingery spicy cookie dough and sweet smooth icing. Yum! I absolutely love anything with ginger in it and ginger and molasses are an amazing combination! What’s even better is that these cookies are so easy to make and so fun to decorate.

I made tiny stars and snowflakes (about 2 inches) so my recipe yielded almost 250 cookies… yikes! Although this is good if you plan to give them as gifts for the holidays (as I plan to). If you like your cookies soft, you should roll them thicker and bake them for less time. And if you like your cookies crispy, do just the opposite. I also decorated mine with sugar crystals and round white sprinkles, but the sky is really the limit for decorating, so be creative!

I found the cookie recipe in Gourmet Magazine and the icing recipe on the Food Network’s website. (more…)

Kricket’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Craving

I get a chocolate chip cookie craving at about 3pm every day… people who have witnessed the craving know that it can be bad! And not just any cookie will do! Unless an exceptional bakery is serving them up fresh, it has to be homemade!

I have been on a mission for a while to create the BEST chocolate chip cookie. Let me be the first to say that this is no easy task. To my fellow chocolate chip cookie lovers, I ask: how many chocolate chip cookies have you had that just aren’t that great? I’ve studied them for long enough now, that I can almost tell whether or not I’m going to like a chocolate chip cookie just by looking at it.

To me, the perfect one is chewy and thick with a slightly crunch on the outside and soft center. It is full of semi-sweet chocolate chips has and an occasional crunchy thing here and there (like maybe a nut). Oh, and I like my cookies to be big! I want one to be enough to satisfy the craving.

This recipe is pretty easy to make and the cookies keep well in the freezer. I like to prepare the dough the night before I bake the cookies so it has plenty of time to chill. Besides, I eat so much dough while making it that I’m good for the day’s craving. I keep the dough in the fridge for about two weeks so I can bake up a fresh mini-batch whenever I want.

Once again, I have Alton Brown to thank for guiding me to a base recipe that I have modified to meet my likes. Enjoy these special treats and be sure to save one for me! (more…)

PB & C Cookies

Two flavors that are better togetherI baked these in memory of John’s dad who recently passed away. He loved peanut butter cookies “with no nuts.” I fancied them up a bit (just cuz I gotta!) with rich drizzled chocolate. I will miss him and think of him fondly whenever I eat these cookies!

I based this recipe on Alton Brown’s Peanut Butter Cookies from “I’m Just Here for More Food.” These cookies are on the crunchy side and jam packed with peanut butter flavor. I used semi-sweet chocolate for the drizzly top of goodness, but you could substitute milk or dark chocolate to your liking. Makes approximately 30 large cookies. (more…)

Long Lost Quinoa Cookies

I made these cookies per Melissa’s request. She and I took a cooking class years ago at Baumann College where we learned a version of this recipe. Ever since then, Melissa regularly attempts to make them from memory, but ends up asking me to make them or give her the recipe. More often than not, I can’t find the recipe. Well, now it is here for Melissa and you to make whenever you want… the recipe is no longer lost!

I must warn you, these cookies could almost be considered good for you. I would even go as far as to say that they would be an acceptable breakfast (far better for you than a donut!). And, they are excellent for tea time! These cookies are vegan, wheat free and gluten free. But don’t let that scare you away! They are also sweet, nutty, soft, crunchy, and delicious. They are two bite (or maybe one if you like a big bite) cookies that can disappear quickly if you aren’t paying attention.

This recipe calls for quinoa flakes. You probably haven’t heard of these before and most stores don’t carry them. If you live in Santa Cruz, you can get them at Staff of Life. If you live elsewhere, look in a health foods store (where they will also have the rice flour) for a box of quinoa flakes in the hot cereal section. If all else fails, use oats.

I have experimented with different nuts in this recipe and personally like almonds the best. My second favorite version is made by substituting walnuts for the almonds and vanilla extract instead of almond extract. Feel free to do your own expermentation based on your tastes.

I used Rasberry Rhubarb preserves for the decoration. These preserves are a little on the sour side and may not be to everyone’s liking. My best suggestion when choosing what type of jam to use is to pick one with a smooth, thick consistency. You don’t want watery, globby decoration!

This recipe makes approximately 29 cookies, depending on how much of the raw dough you eat and your interpretation of “tablespoon sized balls.” (more…)