Joe Frogger Cookies

froggersJoe Frogger cookies have a long history, dating all the way back to 1700s  Massachusetts. According to various sources, Joseph and Lucretia Brown owned Black Joe’s Tavern, and Lucretia originally baked these treats in a skillet, so they were pancake-sized. Some say these cookies were called froggers because they were as large as the lily pads in the nearby pond, while others believed the batter looked like a frog when it hit the skillet. Whatever the reason, I wonder why they’re not called Lucretia Froggers, since she’s the one who invented them. The patriarchy, man. It’ll get you every time.

Regardless of why they’re called what they’re called, they are absolutely delicious. They’re quite large – I baked no more than five or six on one baking sheet at a time – and made with molasses, rum, and warm spices. Really, how can you go wrong with such amazing ingredients? The recipe below comes from my trusty King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, though the size in the original recipe is “somewhere in size between a table tennis ball and golf ball.” I just used my 2-inch scoop, and it worked really well.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum

Preparation

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, salt, and baking soda; set aside. In a medium saucepan set over low heat, melt butter, brown sugar, molasses, and rum, stirring until smooth. Pour into flour mixture and stir to completely combine; the batter will be very thin, like cake batter, but will firm up once chilled. Chill the batter for about 1 hour, until firm enough to scoop – it will still be quite sticky.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough into prepared sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between them. Lightly spray your fingers with baking or cookie spray and press to flatten slightly; the cookie dough is very sticky, so it helps to grease your fingers.

Bake for 10-11 minutes, until edges are set but centers still look a bit puffy. Remove from oven and allow to cool on wire racks for several minutes; the cookies are very fragile when they’re first out of the oven. Once cookies are firm enough, remove them to a wire rack to cool completely. My recipe made 17 cookies, but the original was supposed to yield 16.

French Toast Cookies

french toast cookiesOur kitchen remodel is three weeks away, and I’m trying to use up as many of my baking ingredients as possible so there will be less to pack away and store during construction. This week’s effort included maple sugar, so I scoured the internet for recipes and came up with a maple snickerdoodle, which tastes uncannily like French toast. Hence, French toast cookies.

This recipe comes from a place where they really know maple: the State of Vermont. While I chose to just bake my cookies without flattening them with the bottom of a glass as the original recipe stated, I can definitely see why you should – I felt like my cookies looked a bit like tiny potatoes. In any case, these were a big hit in Mike’s office today.

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature 
  • 1 1/2 cups maple sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the coating: 

  • 1/3 cup maple sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preparation

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups maple sugar until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and beat; add flour mixture and beat to form a smooth dough. Chill for about 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir together 1/3 cup maple sugar and cinnamon for coating.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop generous portions of dough and roll into balls, then roll in coating. Place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart and bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 1-2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. 

Makes about 2 1/2 to 3 dozen, depending on how generous you are with your scoops of dough. 

 

Under the Sea Cookies

under the sea cookiesAquarium-inspired baking continues with these under the sea treats. Mike’s coworkers actually asked if there would be treats this week, and indeed, there will. A variety of whales, octopuses, crabs, sand dollars, starfish, and sea life motifs that feature kelp, anemones, and jellyfish will join Mike in the office tomorrow.

These cookies took me forever to ice, but it was nice Zen time, which I greatly needed. Although my whales look a bit crusty (I suppose whales actually are a bit crusty?) and my sand dollars (not pictured here) left a bit to be desired, I’m quite pleased with how they turned out. I hope Mike’s coworkers enjoy them.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • Triple batch Zella’s icing
  • Royal blue, pale blue, teal, copper, brown, and moss green food coloring
  • Miniature chocolate chips (for eyes)

Preparation

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add vanilla and about half the flour mixture, beating until combined; beat in remaining flour.

Note: if your dough is too crumbly, you can add just a bit of water or another ¼ teaspoon of vanilla.

Divide dough in half and knead each just slightly until dough sticks together.  Form each half into a disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until just barely firm, about 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees; line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes; I used a crab, whale, star, octopus, and two round cutters (small to make sand dollars, large to make the sea life motifs). Place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart; for the starfish, gently bend the tips of the star to make them more like a starfish.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just golden brown at the edges. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

To ice, divide the icing into six portions: royal blue, pale blue, copper, green, and brown. You’ll need two small plain tips for the white and brown icings, a small open star tip for the green, and a small closed star tip and plain tip for the copper.

For the crabs, use royal blue icing and add miniature chocolate chips for eyes. For the whales, use a base coating of pale blue, then add royal blue and swirl – don’t wait to long to add your coating of royal blue or your whales will turn out crusty like mine! Add a circle of white and a miniature chocolate chip for the whale’s eye. Combine the blue icing portions and add some teal for the octopuses, then pipe on suction cups with white and use miniature chocolate chips for the eyes. For the starfish, use copper and pipe on white details. For sand dollars, use white, then pipe on pale brown details (mine didn’t turn out as well, so I didn’t include a photo of them). For the large round cookies, frost the base with the remaining blue/teal icing, then pipe on kelp using a small star tip and the green frosting, add anemones using a closed star tip and the copper frosting, and add jellyfish or other sea life with a plain tip with the copper frosting. I realize now that I should have made my jellyfish white, but that’s okay. I can always make these again.

Allow icing to set before storing in between sheets of waxed paper. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Sparkling Sea Life Cookies

sparking sea lifeMike and I visited the National Aquarium in Baltimore last weekend after a family party. I love an aquarium – the serene sharks and stingrays gliding through enormous tanks, the colorful tropical fish, the varieties of coral. I don’t scuba dive, but aquariums make me want to. Actually, I always just want to hop into the big tank and swim with the sharks, but I realize such behavior is both a) frowned upon and b) likely dangerous.

This weekend’s baking is inspired by our aquarium visit in these travel-friendly sparking sea creatures, which are basic sugar cookies in aquatic shapes covered in sparkling colored sugar. Easy to make and ship, these treats are on their way to Maryland for Maureen and Margo along with some books. Although the pink ones were supposed to be starfish, they didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped – but fortunately, they could be any kind of interesting aquatic plant.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • Pink and blue colored sugar

Preparation

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add vanilla and about half the flour mixture, beating until combined; beat in remaining flour.

Note: if your dough is too crumbly, you can add just a bit of water or another ¼ teaspoon of vanilla.

Knead just slightly until dough sticks together, then flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until just barely firm, about 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes – I used crabs and what were supposed to be starfish, as I bent the tips of the stars a bit, but actually look more like some kind of aquatic plants. Place colored sugar on a plate and carefully dip each cookie into the sugar, pressing so the sugar sticks (this provides better coverage than sprinkling the sugar on top, but you could do that too if you prefer). Carefully place cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are just golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for about 4-5 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Quantity varies based on the size of your cutter; this batch yielded about 20 cookies because the crab cutters are pretty large.

Unicorn Shortbread

unicorn shortbreadMaureen and Margo, our goddaughters, love unicorns. I don’t remember unicorns being such a big deal when I was a girl, but then again, I was a girl in the 1980s. Back then we had icons like the Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, and Rainbow Brite. Now that I think about it, Rainbow Brite seems like the kind of gal who would have hung out with unicorns. Maybe she did? I honestly can’t remember.

To create this unicorn-inspired treat, I simply took some colored sugar and sprinkled it on top of the dough before baking. You can use whatever colors you like, and I went with pink, purple, blue, and yellow for my mixture. Before I baked, I wondered if I’d gone overboard with the sugar, but once it was done I was really pleased with the result.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • Pink, purple, blue, and yellow colored sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add flour and beat to combine completely.

Divide dough in half and press into the bottoms of the cake pans, using the palm of your hand to create an even surface. Prick all over with a fork, then sprinkle with colored sugar.

Bake for 30-32 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and gently loosen the sides, then allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Gently flip onto a cutting board and slice each round into 12 wedges, then place wedges on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to about 5 days; if shipping, pack between layers of waxed paper.

Makes 24 wedges.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Choosing a favorite cookie is next to impossible…at least for me. But these old-fashioned chocolate sugar cookies, a recipe I found at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, could be serious contenders for one of my favorite cookies ever. They’re soft, with a crunchy edge and soft, chewy middle. Flavor-wise, they remind me just a bit of a brownie, but not exactly. I decided to call mine “old-fashioned,” since I made them slightly smaller than the original and pressed them with a fork like you would a peanut butter cookie. They look very homey, like something your favorite aunt would have made.

The original author stressed the importance of using dark brown sugar in the recipe, and I completely agree with her. I don’t think the light brown version would yield the same kind of flavor or texture you get with dark brown sugar, but you can certainly substitute it and let me know what happens.

Ingredients

  •  1/3 cup sugar
  •  1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons  flour
  •  3/4 cup  unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  •  14 tablespoons butter
  •  1 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  •  1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place granulated sugar in a small bowl; set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder and set aside.

Melt 10 tablespoons butter in a microwave-safe bowl, checking frequently – you want your butter to be just melted and not too hot. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons butter; this will bring the temperature down slightly. Let the butter sit until its about 90 degrees in temperature, then pour into a large bowl and whisk in dark brown sugar, vanilla, and salt until completely smooth. Whisk in egg and yolk, then stir in flour mixture until just combined.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop out dough and roll into balls, then dip in granulated sugar to coat. Place on the baking sheet, leaving space between for spreading. Gently press the tops with a fork to make the crisscross pattern.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until edges are set but tops are still puffy – be careful not to overbake these, or they’ll be too hard. Cool on baking sheet for about 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 24 cookies.

Nutty Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies are an excellent example of the classic chocolate and peanut butter flavor combination with a fun twist. Adapted from a recipe from my King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion (of course), this recipe blends a peanut butter cookie base, made with dark brown sugar for rich flavor, with chopped lightly salted peanuts and chocolate chips. The end result is, not surprisingly, delicious, and the dough is very easy to make.

The recipe below makes a pretty big batch at 46 cookies, but you could yield even more if you used a smaller cookie scoop. I went with a 2-inch scoop for slightly larger treats.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, very soft
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups lightly salted, dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars, peanut butter, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in flour, peanuts, and chocolate chips.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of dough into the baking sheets; the cookies don’t spread much during baking, but you want to leave a bit of room between them. Bake for 13-14 minutes, until edges are brown. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 46.

Old-Fashioned Peanut Cookies

Peanut butter cookies are a classic, especially when topped with a Hershey’s Kiss. But these old-fashioned peanut cookies from King Arthur Flour are quite different than that childhood staple. Featuring both peanut butter and ground peanuts, these cookies are almost cake-like, with a delightful crunch from the ground nuts.

I definitely plan to make these again, and next time I plan to under-bake them but just a few minutes. They were delicious the first day, but started to dry out quicker than I expected on the following days. I suspect a 10-minute bake would be sufficient, so we’ll see what happens next time. I also wonder about adding some peanut butter or chocolate frosting to these cookies, or even some miniature chocolate chips. Ideas for next time!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup salted peanuts, ground*

*When grinding nuts, place them in a food processor and pulse them until they’re a fine consistency with some larger pieces. Don’t go too far, or you’ll make your own nut butter…which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Beat in eggs, then stir in the flour and ground peanuts.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of dough onto the baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are set and light golden brown at the edges. Remove from an oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. Makes about 3 dozen.

Maple Sandwich Cookies

It’s maple season. Yes, I know – pumpkin spice is all the rage in October. I have absolutely nothing against it, but it’s not the only fall flavor, right? Maple is one of my favorite flavors regardless of the month, especially when paired with pecans. But for a while I’ve been meaning to make a maple sandwich cookie, so here we are.

Mike’s colleagues loved these, but truth be told, I think they’re just a bit too sweet. I know! Me, thinking something is too sweet…but on occasion, it does happen. The cookies themselves are absolutely delicious, as is the maple cream filling. I think you could leave the cookies plain, and perhaps pair the filling with a different, slightly saltier cookie. Ah well. As long as someone enjoyed them, that’s all that matters.

Ingredients

Maple Cookies

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour

Maple Cream Filling

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar on high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping the sides of your bowl a few times. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla, then beat in flour.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough into balls and drop about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until edges are light brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make maple cream filling, beat butter on medium speed for about 1 minute; add maple syrup, 1 tablespoon heavy cream, and 1 cup powdered sugar and beat to combine completely. Add remaining powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and maple extract and beat until smooth.

To assemble, flip cookies over and spread filling on half the cookies, then top with the remaining cookies to make sandwiches. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days. Makes 24 sandwiches.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Wedges

“Mom, do we have more of that little bread?” asked Alec Sutton, age five. His mom, my dear friend and colleague Anne, had no idea what he meant until she saw him reach for the bag of shortbread I’d given her for Christmas last year. I love this story for many reasons; first, Alec is one of the most adorable and observant kids you’ll ever meet, and second, I love how children’s minds process information. Shortbread and little bread make perfect sense as synonyms when you think about it. Since hearing this story, my shortbread has been referred to as little bread in our circle of friends.

Anne and Alec moved from Pittsburgh to Altoona to be closer to their family, and I sincerely miss working with her. During my visits to the Steel Tower, I’d always sit at the table behind Anne’s cube, and we had many great conversations and funny times. I’m hoping this chocolate chip “little bread” will make a nice housewarming gift for Anne and Alec in their new place. This batch makes 24 wedges, so I sent some to Anne and Alec and some to my nephew Roman as his back-to-school gift. Shortbread ships very well, so it’s easy to send wherever it needs to go.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease two 8-inch round cake pans. Reserve about 2 tablespoons chocolate chips to sprinkle over the top of your dough.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add flour and beat to combine completely, then stir in chocolate chips.

Divide dough in half and press into the bottoms of the cake pans, using the palm of your hand to create an even surface. Prick all over with a fork, then sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top. You can skip this step if you like – the chocolate chips do flatten out a bit when you turn the shortbread out of the pans later on.

Bake for 32-35 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and gently loosen the sides, then allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Gently flip onto a cutting board and slice each round into 12 wedges, then place wedges on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to about 5 days; if shipping, pack between layers of waxed paper.