Entries tagged with “Cookies”.


After 30 years of utter nonchalance on the matter, I am suddenly interested in gardening. It started with a little lemon tree. A dwarf Meyer lemon tree that arrived one misty morning in February groaning under the weight of two dozen ripe lemons.


The lemon tree was part of a patio redesign project we just finished. After two and a half years in the house, it seemed like a fine time to actually do something more substantial with the front patio than the occasional sidelong glance while muttering “we oughta get a table or something…”  The front patio project spilled into the side yard and then to the back patio; after next weekend, we’ll have it all planted and ready for a good growing season. There are tomatoes. There are fuschias. There is a potted hedge of blossom-studded rosemary. The camelias and azaleas and Japanese maples are on their merry way. I can’t wait.


Back to that tree.  After the sixth day of making John crazy with an endless chorus of “my lemon has a first name, it’s M-E-Y-E-R, my lemon has a second name, it’s M-E-Y-E-R!” (thank you, Derek, for gracing me with this horrible earworm), I sobered up and faced the inevitable question peeking in my patio door: what the hell do we do with all these lemons?

It wasn’t so difficult.  Their thin, supple skin is most conducive to zesting, while their (relatively) mild acidity makes the flesh and juice a handsome complement to sauces, dressings, relishes, and, in a pinch, water.  I’m still working out the proportions for a lemon sage vinaigrette we’ve been enjoying mightily on all things green and leafy.  In the meantime, I’m tremendously excited to share this cookie with you.


If you haven’t ever tried rosemary in your baked goods, you are missing out. I find it brings a big, round flavor to sweet things while tempering the pointedness of the sugar. This is the cookie for people who, inexplicably, roam in search of desserts on the low end of the sweetness spectrum.  The proportions of lemon zest and rosemary are a starting point. Make a batch and see how they strike you, and increase as you see fit to suit your taste.  The rosemary’s strength will surprise you, so don’t haul off and mix in half a cup.  Start small and work up from there.


We’ve been enjoying these cookies without any on them, but they would be lovely with a light buttercream or sandwiched together around a bit of lemon curd.

If you can’t find Meyer lemons in your area, regular lemons will work fine. Look for the ripest ones you can get your hands on: thin skins, bright yellow, and fat little bodies.  Shortly before our tree arrived, I found a bounty of Meyers at Costco.  While picking my carton, an elderly woman next to me pondered the label, unconvinced that they were worth a try.  I piped up, noting that the flesh was sweeter than a traditional lemon and that the peel was also wonderful.  “They’re wonderful with tequila?” she exclaimed, having misheard my comment about the peel. I started to correct her, but decided against it when I saw how her eyes sparkled at the idea. “Yep,” I said, “great with tequila.”  That sold it; into her cart they went.

(Keep reading Lemon Rosemary Cookies…)


Peanut butter, your cookie reign has come to an end. Drop whatever you are doing and get a jar of almond butter, lovelies; a cookie revolution has begun.

Aside from the general avoidance annoyance inherent to any food allergy, I don’t feel like I miss out on very many things due to my inability to eat peanuts. True, peanut M&Ms were tough to give up at first (I didn’t figure out I was allergic to peanuts until I was in high school), but I rarely lament my inability to indulge in the world of everyone’s favorite salty legume.



Except that every so often I really miss peanut butter cookies. The rich, salty ombre of the peanut butter brings a toasty mellowness to an otherwise basic cookie dough in a way that I always found quite irresistible. Once, one of my dad’s coworkers gave everyone in their department a tin of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and I thought I might keel over and die with happiness. They were, in a word, awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I find myself thinking about them every so often.

In thinking about those crazy, wonderful cookies the other day, I realized that I have never tried substituting almond butter for peanut butter in cookies. It seems like a reasonable substitution, but I have never seen a recipe that contemplates it. To my knowledge, I’ve never seen an almond butter cookie. After a bit of research to compare the properties of peanut butter and almond butter, I was convinced that I could swap one for the other without much fanfare.


I’m thrilled to share that it worked; after a few trials and tweaks, I think I’ve come up with a really satisfying cookie. In true peanut butter cookie fashion, the dough provides an ample yield, making this a wonderful option for holiday baking and gifting. You can omit the toasted almonds if you wish, but I think they lend something lovely to the final result. You can also swap them out for ¾ of a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips for a chocolate chip cookie that will blow your cookie-loving mind. You will, I’m sorry to say, discover that the dough is perhaps the loveliest, richest, most craveable cookie dough you’ve come across in a long time. I recommend making these when everyone else is out of the house, lest you find yourself in competition for who gets to lick the beaters.

almond-butter-cookies-munch-ss (Keep reading Almond Butter Cookies…)

We’re going to talk about cookies for a moment, one variety by way of another. I think cookies might be the first thing I ever made from scratch by myself. It was a recipe called Cowboy Cookies that my mom kept in a black recipe binder – the kind I keep telling myself I should start. Sure, I keep copies of recipes on my computer, both good things I’ve tried and things I tinkered with myself. And were you to crawl between the sofa and its accompanying sofa table to see behind the shelf where I keep my cookbooks, you’d find a neon rainbow of sticky flags marking all the things I mean to cook one of these days.


But more often than not, I end up transferring a recipe or an adaptation of a recipe to a scrap of paper that can get down and dirty on my kitchen counter as its progeny springs forth. My go-to pizza crust recipe lives on an index card on the side of our fridge, and many a sauce-spotted post-it have found their way to the top of the flour canister at the hands of Nora, the wonderful woman who cleans for us once a week. There, they await my discovery, and are eventually discarded. I should really get a binder.

My mom’s binder holds about a hundred pages of recipes – clippings from newspapers and old issues of Good Housekeeping, index cards from friends, and a dozen pages of careful, adolescent script – the remnants of her 8th grade cooking class. The pages are covered in plastic and lie flat, both qualities are invaluable in the kitchen. No matter how pronounced the nimbus cloud of cocoa becomes during the too-hurried assembly of a chocolate cake, the pages are easily wiped clean; a new slate for the next cake.


The Cowboy Cookies were not complicated or profound. Just a good, buttery chocolate chip cookie with a hearty helping of oatmeal stirred in at the end. It was making those Cowboy Cookies where I first learned that brown sugar makes flatter, crisper cookies when it takes on a solo act in place of its usual duet with granulated white as the recipe intended. And it was a batch of Cowboy Cookies that fell victim to my experiment with mint extract. Through it all, the Cowboy Cookies endured as simple, reliable, and intoxicatingly delicious.


I remember loving the recipe card itself, too. It wasn’t just an index card. It was illustrated with a joyful drawing of a woman in the throes of cooking. My first memory of the illustration came at that pre-school developmental stage where the only things worth noticing in the world around you are cookies and cartoons, and this was the promise of both. At the time, any brightly-colored illustration gave way to the possibility, no matter how remote, of cartoons; I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Better still, whenever the card came out, cookies were sure to follow.

And so my love of fresh cookies began. Even back then, I knew many children whose mothers didn’t bake, whose class birthday treats came from a bakery or the grocery store. In making Cowboy Cookies, I learned that there was more to baked goods than the end product itself. There was the anticipation, building itself into a craving-laden crescendo throughout the assembly process and fueled by the many opportunities to taste along the way. And oh, the tasting. A finished cookie is all well and good, certainly, but it would be criminal to spend one’s entire life overlooking the various stages of a batter’s life cycle. Cookie dough ice cream-lovers have an inkling of what I’m talking about here (though to base your fondness for cookie dough on that miserable, pellet-form is like listening to a Ride of the Valkeries ringtone and saying you like Wagner). Fresh cookie dough does not have an equal. Neither does the prospect of licking the spoon after all the cookies are made and it’s time to do the dishes.

As you can probably gather, my thoughts on the necessity of making your own cookies are closely aligned with my thoughts on making your own bread. You must. It’s another process that is far less complicated than it seems to the uninitiated, and yields results that will delight you more than you can know.

This is a very fun recipe for cookies that look fantastic and taste even better. They are just the ticket for the chocolate craving that refuses to be satisfied with a single layer of chocolate. These are the big guns, the really intense chocolate assault that will definitely cure what ails you. And surprisingly enough, they do not call for any flour. I made them a few weeks ago in honor of the impending departure of one of my friends at the office who was bound for his upcoming wedding and journey to a year of adventure in Chile. They were well-received; I hope you will agree.

(Keep reading Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies…)


Once upon a time, an enterprising member of a hunter-gatherer tribe grew restless at the idea of yet another bowl of the same mammoth stew and added a handful of peppery-smelling leaves to the batch. The first bite brought surprise and delight to all, and soon seasoning the meat was de riguer.

Or something like that. We don’t really need the specifics. Amidst the variety of reasons our most ancient ancestors began seasoning and varying their food is a reason so simple and obvious it generally goes without saying: because it tastes good.

And so it goes today – we continue to think, churn, generate, experiment, augment, and create, create, create beautiful, wonderful, delicious dishes. Cooking is both an art and a science, and is easily accessible at some level on both fronts. But the art side has a special, unique aspect to it. Everyone participates in it, somehow, every day. You don’t have to listen to music, view a play, examine a painting, or read a book every day, but you do have to eat. I think this is why I find cooking so appealing; it’s at the very core of our lives, waiting to be drawn out and caressed.

Yes, there are different strata of cooking and food. There are simple dishes and complicated ones. I can make a complicated sauce using fifteen ingredients, or a baguette using four. “Good” is so subjective, and doesn’t necessarily correlate to expense, difficulty, or complexity. Food: the great equalizer.

It is also very personal. Everyone’s palate is different, sensitive in varying ways. To prepare food for someone is, in a sense, to attempt to really know a very fundamental part of them. And this is one of the reasons I love to cook. It is powerful to fill an empty plate with the symphonic orchestrations of your kitchen’s contents and your own two hands. You begin with nothing, and end up with a serious something. When you cook with someone else in mind, when you reach out and access someone else’s palate and say “I think I know what you’ll like,” you share a part of yourself with them. I gave my bridesmaids a cookbook of my favorite recipes before my wedding. In the introduction, I told them “I consider the kitchen to be the heart of any home; in sharing these recipes with you, I hope to share a piece of my heart as well as my home.”

I continue to connect with the people around me through food (see, e.g., this website). Recently, upon realizing I had forgotten to wish a coworker happy birthday, I told him I would bring him the baked good of his choice the following Monday. He asked for Mandelhoernchen, a favorite cookie from his childhood in Germany. I happily agreed. He told me later, after leaving me what promises to become one of my all-time favorite voicemails, that he didn’t realize when I told him to specify a baked good that I would be making it. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.