Simple Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

This is the recipe I use anytime I want perfect sugar cookies. Great flavor, and the dough is a dream to work with.

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This is the recipe I use anytime I want perfect sugar cookies. They bake up beautifully with nice structure and a hint of snap when you break them in two. Especially true if you can wait that extra minute or two before taking them from the oven. So they have time to shift from just-plain-baked to golden, crisp, and toasted. The dough is an absolute dream to work with. And the flavor? They have just the right amount of salt to counter the sweet. Simple Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies
This recipe makes enough dough to yield plenty of cookies, with dough left over to freeze. I typically run out of energy before I run out of dough. I thought I’d posted this recipe long ago(!), but a search through the archives proved me wrong! I’m also including the icing I like.

Icing

As far as icing goes, I have a lot of thoughts. 😉 I have a base recipe I use and then tweak it from there. Sometimes, I like my icing somewhat translucent, like a wash – so I add more water. Other times, I want it more opaque, so I leave it as written (below). I always like it to be a bit matte, and not hyper-glossy, so that’s what you’ll get here. Also, have fun with natural colors. You could do tiny hot-pink dots on the trees pictured with some raspberry powder plus a bit of the icing added to it. I like saffron for yellow, matcha for green, etc. Play around!

Simple Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

Pro-tip! Keep your eyes peeled at yard sales, flea markets, and the like for special cookie cutters – that’s where you’ll find the gems. I have a bin of favorites that I can go to each time I make cookies.

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Chocolate Dipped Biscotti

Sesame studded and heavily scented with crushed fennel seeds and chamomile, these chocolate dipped biscotti punctuated my espressos this week.

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Sesame studded and heavily scented with crushed fennel seeds and chamomile, these chocolate dipped biscotti punctuated my espressos all week. They were the petite treats I looked forward to. If you’ve never baked biscotti before, they’re a lot of fun, and quite adaptable. The main thing? You double bake them. First with the biscotti dough shaped into a long loaf. And a second time after you’ve baked and sliced those loaves into biscotti.

Chocolate Dipped Biscotti Recipe
You can play around with the flavors here, but the way the fennel seeds and chamomile complements the chocolate is really fantastic (I used, and loved, Guittard 66% organic semisweet). That said, I’ll offer up some alternative suggestions down below, because I totally get that not everyone keeps chamomile around 😉 xx!
Chocolate Dipped Biscotti Recipe

Biscotti Tips:

A couple things I should point out:

Rolling Technique: First, make sure to roll your dough into a tight shape (pictured below). This way, when you go to slice your biscotti after the first bake, they’ll hold their shape. You don’t want crumbling biscotti going into the second bake. A serrated knife is the way to go for slicing, using a quick sawing motion, and not too much downward pressure.

Texture and Baking: If you like a cake-y biscotti, slice them a shade thicker and bake them for a hint less time. If you like a crunchier, more structured biscotti, slice them a shade thinner, and bake them a bit longer (consider flipping them toward the end to really get both side toasty).

Storage: On the storage front. They’ll keep in an air-tight container for a couple of weeks.

Chocolate Dipped Biscotti Recipe

Variations

Herbs: I love herbs like rosemary, thyme, and lavender in biscotti. You can experiment with those. Chop and add to your dough with the other dry ingredients. Go easy, make notes, and adjust each time you bake them. A teaspoon is a good place to start.

Spices: A bit of turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, all are welcome here. Basically if it’s a flavor you can imagine being good in a muffin, it’s fair game here. Or, pre blended spices. My favorite chana masala blend is magic here, and garam masala is a good fit as well. 

Citrus Zest: Lemon zest, makrut lime zest (or minced leaves), orange zest – all add a sunny punch of flavor.

Outer Texture: I rolled these biscotti in sesame seeds to add some texture and boost the flavor inside the cookies, but you could go in all sorts of directions. You could roll them in large grains of sugar, for a crunchy, shardy texture. Or, poppy seeds (or a blend of seeds) could be nice. Or, you could add some sort of flavor boost or ingredient to the egg wash you do before the first bake.
Chocolate Dipped Biscotti Recipe

This is what my biscotti looked like when they came out of the oven after their second bake. Once you’ve sliced your biscotti, for the second bake, you can put them all on one pan. They’ve already risen, so you don’t need to distance them the way you would with most other cookies.
Chocolate Dipped Biscotti Recipe
If biscotti aren’t your thing, but you’re still up for a baking adventure, I love these brownies, this Devil’s Food Cake, these snickerdoodles, or the swirl cake from last week.

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Super Swiss Meringues

Let’s make beautiful, billowy Swiss meringue! You can shape it into all sorts of shapes and swooshes, or punctuate with a range of nuts, seeds, and spices.

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Let’s make beautiful, billowy meringues! Few treats are more charming or versatile. The first order of business is deciding which method to use – there are a number of options. More often than not, I go the Swiss meringue route, which I’ll explain below. A lot of people like to use the French method – where you whisk eggs until they are nice and frothy, adding granulated sugar, a bit at a time. I wouldn’t disagree that it’s the simplest method, but I like the Swiss meringue approach instead, for a number of reasons.How to Maker Swiss Meringue

Swiss Meringue Technique

To make Swiss meringue, you basically combine all your ingredients in a mixing bowl. Heat it over a pan of simmering water until smooth, and then pop that mixing bowl back into your mixer. Whisk until you have a beautiful, bright, glossy meringue. It’s quite straight-forward. I think cooking sugar always freaks people out, and to do it right, you should use a thermometer, but don’t let that deter you.How to Maker Swiss Meringue

Why Swiss Meringue?

Reason number one, you don’t have to remember to bring your eggs to room temperature. This is major. I always forget to pull my eggs from the refrigerator. You don’t have to worry about this if you’re using the Swiss approach. The second thing, I like to be able to pipe my meringue into somewhat intricate shapes (see photos). I have much better luck with Swiss meringue. It’s stiffer, and holds ridges, dollops, and flourishes better. If you’re trying to avoid blobby meringue, start here. 
How to Maker Swiss Meringue

Keys to Success

1) Use a completely clean, dry  bowl, whisk, spatula, etc. to get the most volume of meringue. Any residual oils will hamper your efforts.

2) Adjust your baking time based on whether you’re like a chewier or crisper meringue. Leave them to bake longer for crisper. Up to a few hours even!

3) If you do leave your meringues to bake longer, just be sure they aren’t taking on any/too much color. Ways to counter coloring: gently rotate pans, propping over door open with a wooden spoon, moving baking sheets either up or down in oven.

4) To maintain a glossy sheen and texture, try not to slam your oven door or baking sheet while baking. They might collapse a bit and end up with a crackled texture.
How to Maker Swiss Meringue

Favorite Add-ins

The recipe below is a nice base recipe. Once you get the hang of it play around with different add-ins. I love to stir in cacao nibs, toasted coconut flakes, saffron bloomed in the almond extract, dried rose petals + rose extract, lots of mixed sesame seeds, or toasted pistachios.
How to Maker Swiss Meringue

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Rosewater Shortbread Cookies

One of my favorites. Classic, buttery, whole wheat shortbread cookies fragrant with rosewater, flecked with toasted nuts, and dried rose petals.

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These are buttery, whole-wheat shortbread cookies – fragrant with rosewater, and flecked with toasted nuts, and dried rose petals. They have a crunchy dusting of sugar on top that provides a satisfying, sweet tongue scratch, and are punctuated with black sesame. I’m not going to lie – it took a few attempts to nail them down. As many of you know – dealing with floral flavors can be a bit tricky. But now, as written, they’re oh so tasty.Rosewater Shortbread Cookies Recipe Rosewater Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Shortbread Cookies: Inspiration

These little guys came about when I was tasked with bringing dessert to a friend’s house. She was cooking an impressive Ottolenghi-inspired feast, and I thought these would be a pretty finish. With the rose petals and all. In the years since that dinner they’ve become part of my regular shortbread repertoire, and I make them often for special occasions and holidays. I mean, they’re so pretty and tasty!
Rosewater Shortbread Cookies Recipe

Baking with Flowers

The trick with cooking or baking with florals is figuring out how much is too much, and how little is too little. For example, with this shortbread recipe, the first couple of attempts I used dried rose petals only, and a good amount. But the flavor got pushed around a bit, bullied and overpowered by the browning butter.

Second attempt? I gave the rose notes a boost by layering the petals in the dough with a splash of rose water. The dough immediately became more fragrant, balanced, and helped nail what I intended (and hoped for) from the start. I suggest using a bit of caution when baking with rose water, because each bottle seems to vary in strength, quality, and scent. Strictly for reference, I’ll mention that I have been using Nielsen-Massey Rose Water. If you’re unsure about the quality or strength of your rose water, start with half, and taste the dough. You can always adjust with more from there. Trust your senses :)!
Rosewater Shortbread Cookies Recipe

These little shortbread cookies are perfect alongside other bite-sized treats on a post-dinner sweets board. I like to break up a good bar of chocolate, include some salted caramels, maybe a few dates, etc. Or you could do a cookie-only sampler, with a range of tiny cookies. There are a lot of favorite cookie recipes to explore, or bake larger cookies, and cut them into quarters so people can sample.

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Gingerbread Cookies

Everything you want in a classic gingerbread cookie. These are classic, spice-flecked, and delicious.

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Gingerbread cookies are the best. I like to bite their heads off first, then each arm, and then each leg. These are going to be the second cookie I am going to include in my holiday cookie boxes.

I have a few strong opinions on how I like my gingerbread and this recipe fits the bill on every front. These cookies are tasty, classic, spice-flecked and a rich shade of brown – exactly what they were supposed to be.Gingerbread Cookies Recipe with Icing

Let’s Make Strong Gingerbread Cookies

This isn’t the time for chewy, moist, or flaky cookies. When you are making gingerbread men (or women) it’s important to make a cookie that is crisp, sturdy, and a shade on the dry side. This is especially important if you are making large + tall gingerbread men, or using the recipe to create walls for a gingerbread house or structure. You should be able to hold you gingerbread cookies by one leg and not have the leg crumble or bend off. I’m not talking about making a gingerbread cracker here, but hopefully you get my drift. As you can see from the picture my gingerbread cookie is standing tall and straight. That’s what you’re after.

Big Flavor

I love gingerbread cookies with some kick. No skimping on the spices please. This recipe is loaded with a generous dose of ground ginger, cinnamon, ground cloves, and pepper. Every bite should have a spicy tingle to it. As they are baking, people should flock to the oven from the far recesses of the house to have a peek at the source of the wonderful smells. You can’t be shy with the spices.
Classic Gingerbread Cookies Recipe

Appearance

Gingerbread cookies look best when they’re deep ginger in color, and spotted from head to toe with freckles of spices. The molasses in this recipe along with the generous amount of spices made for a nice, classic gingerbread appearance. I’m also picky about the shape and physique of my gingerbread people. I’m always on the lookout for cookie cutters that are just the right shape for them. Too squat or stubby is no good, but my current cutter (the one I used for these pics) is a tad on the lean side.

Decorating Gingerbread Cookies

I tend to opt for simplicity here. Sometimes just two little button dots are enough. I may do a few without the buttons and go for one tiny white heart sprinkled with a touch of sugar sparkles instead. A little variety is nice.  And, although I like a cookie with higher frosting to cookie ratio, more elaborate frosting designs on gingerbread sometimes end up looking a little too krafty for my tastes.

Gingerbread Cookies Recipe with Icing

Baking Tips

Getting the baking time key. Whatever you do, don’t over bake these guys. They will dry right out. If anything, under bake them just a shade. They will continue to bake for another couple of minutes once you pull them from the oven. Big cookies take longer to cook than tiny ones, keep that in mind as well.

A Clever Serving Idea

I was at a holiday part once where gingerbread cookies were baked onto popsicle sticks. They were arranged, bouquet-like, in a container filled with sugar. Kids loved eating them like lollipops.

Use all the Dough

My gingerbread men and women tend to bake alongside tiny gingerbread stars, hearts, and gingerbread candy canes. All made from dough scraps. You can gather your scraps and re-roll a couple of times to use as much of the dough as possible.

Overall, I love this gingerbread recipe, especially for cookies (and beyond!). It’s a classic dough that could easily be adapted for other gingerbread endeavors!

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