Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Last weekend at the grocery store, as I waited at the self-checkout, I spotted a Better Homes & Gardens fall baking magazine. Flipping through, I saw chapters on maple, cobblers, whole grain treats, apples, cinnamon, and peanut butter…and I simply had to get it.

The next time I make this recipe, I’ll remember to leave about 1/4 inch of dough uncovered to make a seal; I had a hard time getting my dough to stick together because I spread my cinnamon-sugar mixture all the way to each edge, which I’m sure I wasn’t supposed to do. Oh well. The cookies were delicious anyway! I added a bit of vanilla extract to the icing for a richer flavor, but you could certainly leave it plain. These cookies are also delicious without the icing, so you could skip that step if you prefer (see the photo below).

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

For the icing

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • About 2 teaspoons milk

Preparation

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add sugar and salt and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl a few times.

Beat in 1 egg and vanilla, then beat in flour.

Wrap dough in plastic and chill until easy to handle, about 30-60 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar and cinnamon until well-blended.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 15 x 10 rectangle. Brush with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, leaving about 1/4 inch edge of the far end to make a seam. Roll up from the long end closest to you to make a log; cover with plastic wrap and freeze for about 30 minutes, until firm enough to slice.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line three cookie sheets with parchment.

Remove cookie log from freezer and slice into 1/4 inch slices; place about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8-11 minutes, until edges are very light brown. Remove from oven and cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, beat cream cheese and butter in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat well; add vanilla extract, then add milk about 1/2 teaspoon at a time until you have an easily spreadable consistency.

Frost cookies and place in the refrigerator to set the icing; store iced cookies between sheets of waxed paper in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Makes about 40 cookies.

The un-iced cookies are delicious, too!

Valentine Cookies

valentine-cookiesLooking for fun Valentine’s Day cookies for the kids in your life? Look no further. These slice-and-bake treats are a cross between shortbread and a sugar cookie, and can be tinted whatever color you wish. My goddaughter Maureen loves pink, and these are for her and her family.

If you don’t usually do slice-and-bake cookies, I have some suggestions to help with the process. Wrap your dough in plastic wrap, then slide it onto a baking sheet to chill. This will help the log from breaking or getting misshapen as you transfer it in and out of the fridge. Make sure your dough chills for at least two hours so it’s easy to slice; you can let it chill overnight if you like. As you slice, turn the log after every few slices. This keeps a flat edge from developing on one side. And, if you’re coating the cookies in sprinkles or nuts, remember that small sprinkles and finely-chopped nuts will coat the log better and be easier to slice through.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pink (or red) food coloring
  • About half a 3-ounce bottle Wilton Micro Hearts sprinkles

Preparation

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

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract and beat until well-combined, scraping the sides of your bowl frequently.

Add flour in three batches, mixing well after each until a soft dough forms.

Add food coloring and tint to your desired shade.

Turn dough onto a very lightly floured surface and knead it slightly to make sure all of the food coloring is well-distributed and the dough is smooth. Roll into a 12-inch log.

Place sprinkles on a rimmed baking sheet and carefully transfer the log onto the sprinkles, rolling it back and forth to coat.

Wrap log in plastic wrap, slide it onto a baking sheet, and chill for at least 2 hours.

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

Remove log from fridge and discard plastic wrap. Slice into 1/2 inch slices and place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, until tops are set. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for about 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Makes 28

Brown Sugar Pecan Toffee Rounds

brown sugar pecan toffee roundsWhy do some cookie recipes call for chilled dough? While it certainly makes your dough easier to handle, there are also some scientific principles at work. When you chill your dough, it gives the butter, shortening, or other fat in your recipe a chance to solidify, so when your cookies bake, the fat will take longer to melt than if it were at room temperature. This means your cookies will stay in shape, rather than spreading into puddles of goo. Chilling dough also dries out the dough a bit, but in a good way, enhancing the flavors of your ingredients. For more in-depth info on chilling dough, check out this great post from the folks at King Arthur Flour.

Slice-and-bake cookies, like these brown sugar pecan toffee rounds, must be chilled so you can actually slice them. The recipe below is adapted from one I found in a Better Homes & Gardens holiday cookie magazine, which called for ground almonds instead of pecans. As I only had pecans, I substituted them with great results.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup toffee pieces
  • 1 cup ground toasted pecans

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat shortening and butter until combined.

Add brown sugar, baking soda, and salt; beat until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times.

Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

Beat in flour about 1/2 cup at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl well, then beat or stir in toffee pieces and ground toasted pecans. You may need to use your hands to fully incorporate the pieces into the dough.

Divide dough in half and shape each half into a 10-inch log. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about 5 hours, until the dough is firm enough to slice.

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

Cut logs into 1/4 inch slices and place about 1 inch apart on your baking sheets. Bake for 8-11 minutes, until edges are light brown and firm.

Cool on cookie sheets for about 3-4 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.