Halloween M&M Cookies

Finding Halloween cookies that ship well can be a challenge. Many adorable treats involve icing, frosting, or other decorations that aren’t quite suitable for a trip across the country. Sure, I’d love to bake adorable sandwich cookies with eyes and fangs that look like The Monster Book of Monsters from Harry Potter, or witch hat cookies made with Hershey’s kisses, or even just cute cut-outs frosted to look like ghosts and tombstones, with but such treats don’t hold up in shipping.

Fortunately I found these easy-to-bake, easy-to-ship Halloween M&M cookies at Cooking with Karli. I amended her recipe just a bit by adding two tablespoons of vanilla extract, rather than just one. I also meant to keep some M&Ms out to press into the tops of these cookies but totally forgot, so they definitely look more cookie-from-the-black-lagoon with the M&M lumps in them than I’d intended…but that actually works well for Halloween, right?

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 11.4 ounce package Ghoul’s Mix M&Ms

Preparation

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

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat until creamy.

Add flour mixture all at once and beat with the mixer running on low speed; when the flour mixture is about halfway incorporated into the butter/egg mixture, add milk. Beat to combine completely, then stir in M&Ms. Though the original recipe said the dough will be very soft, mine was pretty sturdy.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough and roll into balls, then flatten the balls slightly and place on the parchment-lined baking sheets. If your dough is softer, you’ll be able to just drop the scoops onto the baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are set and tops no longer look shiny. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container; if shipping, store between layers of waxed paper. Makes about 30 cookies.

Chocolate Hearts

chocolate-heart-cookieI inherited some vintage cookie cutters from my grandma Zella, among them a scallop-edged heart with a red wooden peg handle. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it seemed appropriate to make chocolate hearts to send to my nephew Roman, who now lives in North Carolina.

Cookie cutters come in nearly every shape and size, for every occasion and holiday. My cookie cutters, of which there are dozens, live in a wonderful set of stackable drawer containers in one of my kitchen cabinets. I have all the basics, plus cutters for nearly every holiday, with some animals, dinosaurs, and other fun shapes like an umbrella and a teapot mixed in. Zella’s vintage heart is among my favorites, though.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation 

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract, beating until well-combined.

Slowly add flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl often and beating until a very well-combined, soft dough forms.

Gently knead the dough a few times to make sure it comes together; roll dough into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees; line three baking sheets with parchment or foil.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter; if using different sizes of hearts, be sure to bake all of the same size on one cookie sheet. Baking different-sized or differently-shaped cookies on the same sheet can lead to uneven results; some of your cookies might be underdone while others will be overdone.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are set. Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheets for 1-2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen, depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

Chocolate Orange Cookies

chocolateorangecookiesSometimes I wonder who first looked at a piece of citrus fruit and thought, “hmm, I’m going to scrape off the outer layer of that skin and bake with it.” Regardless, it was a great idea.

Proper zesting of oranges, lemons, and limes can best be achieved by using a microplane grater, like this one. When zesting, wash your fruit, dry it with a paper towel, and stick to the colored outer layer of your rind, leaving the white pith alone. I usually zest my fruit first, then slice it and juice it; you can always reserve the juice for another time.

This recipe is adapted from Boys Ahoy.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Zest of one large orange
  • 10 2/3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar (reserve 1/3 cup for rolling)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preparation

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

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.

In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup sugar with 1 teaspoon orange zest and mix together very well.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, and remaining orange zest until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

Add egg, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon orange juice and beat until combined.

Add flour mixture in two batches, beating well and scraping the sides of the bowl a few times. Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon orange juice and beat until fully combined.

Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, scoop generous portions of dough and roll into balls. Dip in sugar/zest mixture, coating well.

Place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart and flatten with the bottom of a glass to about 1/2 inch thickness.

Bake for 10-11 minutes, until edges are set but centers are still just slightly puffy.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Chocolate Caramel Cookies

chocolate caramelRolos have been around since 1937. Originally manufactured in Britain, they are made by Nestle everywhere except the United States, where the fine folks at Hershey’s produce them alongside other heavenly treats like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats, and Mr. Goodbars.

So, what happens when you take a Rolo and wrap chocolate cookie dough around it? You get a delicious treat, like these cookies.

The original recipe I found included a salted caramel drizzle, and the next time I make these, I’ll definitely include it. While they’re certainly delicious on their own, I think these cookies could benefit from an extra kick of caramel and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 36 Rolo candies, unwrapped

Preparation

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

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Add sugar and brown sugar, beating until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl frequently.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined, then add vanilla and beat until combined.

Add flour mixture about a half-cup at a time, mixing well between each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl frequently.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, shape dough into balls and press a Rolo into each center, shaping dough around the candy to enclose it.

Place cookies about 2 inches apart on prepared sheets and bake for 10 minutes, until edges are firm. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on cookie sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Hot Cocoa Cookies

hot cocoa cookiesI joined Pinterest several months back, at the recommendation of my friend Kerry from work. At present, my “baking” board has 246 pins…and it gets bigger every day. I also have boards that celebrate lemons, gardens, eco-friendly housekeeping practices, good advice, and movie villains, but more often than not, I pin things that involve butter and sugar.

Kerry is also active on Pinterest, and she recently confessed that she pins recipes in the hope that I’ll see them and bake them. This is one of those examples, as she requested hot cocoa cookies for our holiday party at the office today. The recipe below is actually an adaptation of a recipe that I found on another food blog and combined with my own chocolate drizzle instead of the recipe’s original chocolate icing. The end result is a rich treat that tastes remarkably like a cup of hot cocoa. Next time, I might try a peppermint drizzle, or even a caramel one.

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 15 large marshmallows, cut in half crosswise

For the chocolate drizzle

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon shortening

Preparation

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla and beat until well-blended. Add cooled chocolate and beat until combined.

With the mixer running on low, slowly add flour/cocoa mixture until a smooth dough forms. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop out dough (dough will be very stiff at this point) and roll into balls. Place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. My recipe above yielded 30 balls of dough, but if yours varies, simply adjust the quantity of marshmallows for topping.

Bake for 12 minutes, then remove from oven and quickly top each cookie with one half of a marshmallow. Return to the oven and bake 3 minutes more; remove from oven once again and gently press the marshmallow down to flatten it just slightly. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cookies are completely cool, place waxed paper beneath the cooling racks to catch any drip from the chocolate drizzle. To prepare the drizzle, combine 1/2 cup chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon shortening in a small saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Drizzle over cookies and allow to harden before serving.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Veteran’s Day! As I baked these treats, which taste like an amazing combination of a sugar cookie and a dark chocolate brownie, I thought about the care packages that members of the US military receive from their families. Then, I thought about all of the veterans I’ve known—men, mostly, in my family and among my friends—and how profoundly grateful I am to have known them.

One of my favorite veterans was Francis Kruhm, our landlord in Sunshine, MD. Mike and I lived there before our move into DC while he was on active duty with the Maryland Army National Guard. Mr. Kruhm served in the Army during World War II, and was part of the invasion at Anzio, Italy in 1944.  The Kruhms were friends of my Aunt Liz’s in-laws, the Brighams, and they had a tiny apartment on the side of their house that they rented to us for an extraordinarily low rate.

About a week after we moved in, Mr. Kruhm gave me a service banner to hang in the front window. He had a full-sized flagpole in the front yard and raised the stars and stripes every single day. Mr. Kruhm was an active member of the VFW and an impressive gardener; I would often come home to find bags of corn, tomatoes, and zucchini on my porch. Even after we moved to DC and later, back to Pittsburgh, I sent Mr. Kruhm a Christmas card every year, and he sent us one in return. He passed away not long ago, another member of the Greatest Generation who surely made it into heaven.

I wish to sincerely thank all of the member of the US military, as well as their families, for their bravery and sacrifice. I am truly grateful to be a citizen of this amazing nation, and to the men and women who fought for our freedoms.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and butter; beat until fluffy.

Add shortening and beat well.

Add egg and vanilla and beat until creamy.

Add flour mixture in two batches, beating until combined after each.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, drop onto baking sheets about two inches apart.

Bake for 18 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

 

 

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Vanilla Cream Filling

 

 

 

 

 

As far as store-bought cookies go, I’m pretty loyal to the Nutter Butter and the Double Stuf Oreo. Regular Oreos don’t have quite enough filling for my preference, though I’ll certainly eat them.  This cookie is like a homemade Oreo on steroids; you can certainly make them smaller, using a one-inch cookie scoop if you prefer.  Someday soon, I’ll devise a recipe for a homemade Nutter Butter.

Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for flattening cookies
  • 10 tablespoons of butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • Vanilla Cream Filling (see below)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.

Add egg and beat well.

Slowly add the flour mixture, beating until combined.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets.

Pour about 1/4 cup of sugar in a small bowl.  Butter the bottom of a glass and dip it in the sugar, then press each ball of dough to flatten.  You will need to re-butter the glass several times; if the glass sticks to the dough after flattening, gently peel the dough away with a knife.

Bake for 10 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through.

Cool completely before filling and sandwiching.

Vanilla Cream Filling

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and shortening.

Add powdered sugar in small batches, beating until combined.  Once all sugar is incorporated, beat on medium speed for two minutes

Add vanilla and beat to combine.

Using a one-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of filling onto half of the cookies.  Spread filling to the edges, then top with another cookie.