Sunday, April 24, 2016

Cranberry-Chocolate Chip Cookies

Greetings! Yesterday was a glorious spring day -- the perfect day for a home tour. I didn't bring my camera, but I plan to head back to the neighborhood to snap some photos of the more charming homes, which I will share with you in a future post

There were eight homes on the tour. One was brand new but designed to look like a 20s bungalow from the outside. Another was built in 1998 and had the most incredible garden and screened porch (the inside was lovely, too, and beautifully decorated). There was a plain brick ranch built in the 50s and decorated with hip, vintage mid-Century furniture and art. The rest of the homes were older, some with brightly painted interiors and others more neutral and sophisticated. Each house was unique and delightful, with some amazing gardens. There were peonies in bloom, lots of ferns and hellebores in shady spots, a couple of beautiful water features and even an aviary in one yard with bobwhites, finches and parakeets!

Changing subjects ... last weekend I made a batch of cranberry-chocolate chip cookies that were very yummy, so I wanted to share with you my adaptation of the recipe. I used all butter instead of a combination of butter and shortening. The recipe calls for scooping the dough into balls and placing them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes before baking. I did one tray that way and the rest went straight into the oven. The difference was subtle, with the freezer cookies being lighter in color and spreading a little less. Either way they turned out great.  

Cranberry-Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar (I've recently started using Trader Joe's organic granulated sugar)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli semisweet chips)
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on medium to high speeds for 30 seconds. Add brown and granulated sugars, baking soda and salt. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg, corn syrup and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer, then stir in any remaining flour by hand. Add the chocolate chips and dried cranberries and stir to combine. 

2) Using a small ice cream scoop, drop dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 minutes or until edges are lightly brown (centers may not appear set). Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Pecan Sandies

Looking for an easy and delicious cookie recipe? Try making a batch of pecan sandies. Only six ingredients are needed: butter, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla and pecans. No leavening agent or eggs are required. These little cookies come out crisp and sandy, hence their name! They're buttery and perfect for people who love pecans, like my husband and my best friend. Give them a try!

Pecan Sandies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey brand)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur 100% organic flour)
1 cup pecans, chopped

1) Position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt and beat until blended. With mixer on low, gradually add flour and beat just until combined. Stir in pecans.
2) Using your hands, roll dough into 1-1/2-inch balls and place on parchment lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Lightly flatten each ball with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a glass or metal measuring cup.
3) Bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer to wire racks and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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