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August Cookie Care Packages

The theme for August’s cookie care pages was “comfort cookies.” Included in this month’s box are snickerdoodle, hot chocolate, and chocolate chip cookies.

Wishing you had ordered a box? I have one extra available for purchase! $30 includes shipping and tax. Email CasualConfections@gmail.com or use the form at CasualConfections.com/Menu to order.

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Flourless Fudge Cookies

Hanging out with friends while they indulge in sweet treats can be a bummer if you stick to a special diet. This is the concern a recent client brought to me. She and some friends were headed to ConCarolinas and a member of the group was gluten free and felt as though she was missing out. The idea my client had was to create a con care package of gluten free treats that hit that sweet spot. A con care package has to meet a few criteria: the treats should not melt easily, they need to travel well, be easy to eat on the go, and stay fresh for longer than a day.

Convention treats
Ready to hit the cons!

After kicking around a few ideas, we landed on some flourless fudge cookies. Half of the cookies were chocolate chocolate chip and the other half were chocolate chocolate chip with raspberries. There are a few great things about the right flourless fudge cookie recipe: 1. it really hits the sweet spot, 2. it satisfies chocolate cravings in the best way, 3. it can easily be made dairy free by using dairy free chocolate chips or using mix-ins other than chips!

King Arthur Flour is a great place to start for gluten free recipes and gluten free ingredients. The base recipe I started with comes from their site. I highly recommend checking out their link for the recipe, their blog post for lots of tips and tricks, and the comments sections to see what others have done in making this recipe. Another big plus about using recipes from King Arthur Flour is that you can select whether you want to bake by volume, ounces, or grams, and the site automatically updates the amounts for you!

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Flourless Fudge Cookies (gluten free, can be made dairy free)

9 ounces (2 1/4 cups) confectioners sugar
3 ounces (1 cup) cocoa powder
3 3/4 ounces (3 large) egg whites (it is helpful to have an extra egg white or two on hand)
2 tsp vanilla extract
8-12 ounces (2 cups) chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and/or chopped dried fruit (my batch used far fewer mix-ins than the recipe called for)

Lightly grease two baking sheets or line with parchment paper and grease parchment (you want the surface to be as non-stick as possible).

Whisk together egg whites and vanilla (I used the whisk attachment in the stand mixer and walked away for a second, resulting in starting a meringue…whoops! If this happens, add an extra egg white to help get the mixture wet again.)

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (powdered sugar and cocoa powder). Stir in the wet ingredients. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir again until smooth. The sticky batter will be the consistency of thick syrup. If the recipe appears too dry and not syrupy, then add another egg white.

Mix in chips (I used mini semi-sweet chips), nuts, and/or fruit. I split my batter in half after adding the chips and added chopped, freeze dried raspberries to one half. The raspberries and chocolate smelled amazing!

Drop the syrupy batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 3″ circles (for large) or 1 3/4″ – 2″ circles (for small). A Tbsp or tsp cookie scoop works well here, respectively.

Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F.

Bake the cookies for 7 mins (smaller) or 8-9 mins (larger) They should spread slightly, become somewhat shiny, and develop faintly crackled tops. Note: large cookies with chips or nuts need to bake for 10 mins.

Remove from oven and allow them to cool on the pan. While nearly cooled, use a spatula to carefully loosen them from the pan. The cookies can also be peeled carefully from the parchment paper.

 

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No Chill and No Expanding Sugar Cookie Recipe

Any time is a good time for sugar cookie cutouts. I had a smallish window to pull together a cookie dough and get it ready for cutters, so I looked around for a recipe that didn’t require time in the fridge. I stumbled across In Katrina’s Kitchen’s recipe for the “Best Sugar Cookie Recipe Ever!” Check out her page for a printable version of the recipe and some of her tips.

For a quick recipe, it worked well. The dough didn’t spread when baked. It ended being a bit difficult to work with as it was a bit too dry and a bit too wet. I had a tough time finding a balance. My dough didn’t end up as thick as the recipe suggests so I may need to try a different approach when I add my dry ingredients next time. I also found the flavor to be ok. It didn’t wow me but I did enjoy it.

Star Wars cookie cutters were purchased from ThinkGeek. Dinosaur cutter was purchased from Michaels.
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Best Sugar Cookie Recipe Ever

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until smooth, minimum of 3 mins. Beat in egg and extracts.

In a separate bowl, combine baking powder with flour. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time to the wet ingredients. The dough will be very stiff. If it becomes too stiff for your mixer, put the dough on a counter top, wet your hands, and finish kneading by hand. DO NOT CHILL THE DOUGH.

Divide into workable batches, roll out onto a floured surface and cut. You want them to be closer to 1/4” than 1/8” in thickness. Bake for 6-8 mins. Start with 6 mins and check on them from there. Let cool on the sheet until they’re firm enough to move to a cooling rack.

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Brookies

Brookies, or brownie cookies, are always a nice treat. You get to enjoy the flavor of a chocolate cookie and a chocolate chip cookie at the same time. What’s not to like? For this bake, I gave this recipe by Mel’s Kitchen Cafe a spin. I really like how this recipe includes the weights for the dough balls to give you a starting point for proportions. After I saw how the first sheets came out, I started making some cookies with a larger percentage of chocolate chip relative to brownie as an experiment. You really can’t go wrong here. You can make these cookies as balanced or imbalanced as you’d like. The only tweak I’m making the next time I make these is to leave out the salt, but that’s due to personal preference. Give this recipe a go and make a fun treat chocolate-lovers will enjoy!
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Brookies

Brownie cookie ingredients:
10 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup (5 oz) lightly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup (5 oz) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups + 3 Tbsp (7.25 oz) flour
1 cup (1.5 oz) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda

Chocolate chip cookie ingredients:
10 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup (5 oz) light brown sugar
2/3 cup (5 oz) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups + 2 Tbsp (10.75 oz) flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Sweet aside.

Brownie cookie batter:
I’m a medium bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together until smooth and creamy (around 1-2 mins). Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla and beat the mixture for 2-3 mins until light in color.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until combined. Cover and refrigerate while making the chocolate chip cookie batter.

Chocolate chip cookie batter:
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until smooth (about 1-2 mins). Blend in the egg, yolk, and vanilla, mixing for 2-3 mins until the batter is very light in color.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter with the chocolate chips and mix until no dry streaks remain and the chocolate chips are evenly distributed.

Both:
Pull out dough to make smallish balls. Use a 0.5 oz ball of brownie batter and a 0.65 ball of chocolate chip batter. Press the two balls together and use your hands to shape the cookie by flattening and turning it to smooth out the edges, forming a flattish but thick shape. Continue until all of the batter is used. Place the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them out to allow for some spreading during baking. Bake for 8-10 mins. The brownie side may crack a bit. Under-cook slightly for a softer and more chewy cookie. Let cool for 1-2 mins on the sheet before moving them to a cooling rack.

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Chai Spiced Candied Nuts

Nuts typically make for a good road snack. They’re more healthy than a candy bar or cookies and can be quite tasty. Candied nuts are great but chai spiced candied nuts are even better! This recipe comes from My Baking Addiction and utilizes her homemade chai spice mix which we used trying her chai spiced sugar cookies previously.
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Chai Spiced Candied Pecans

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp chai spice blend (I accidentally only used 1 tsp. Whoops)
Pinch of salt
1 egg white
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb pecan halves

Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together sugar, chai spice, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla until frothy. Add in the pecans and stir to coat.

Stir in the sugar mixture and stir until the pecans are coated. Spread onto the baking sheet.

Bake for 60 mins, stirring every 15-20 mins. Cool completely before serving.