Sunday, February 16, 2014


I don't make cookies very often--too tempting to have around the house.  But I welcome occasions to bake them for others, and a few of those have come up in the last month or so.  Here are three recipes that came out very well.

adapted from

This recipe is especially easy to make because it's a one-bowl method using melted butter, so you don't even have the small effort of creaming the butter and sugar.  I have made this recipe twice using a bar of Ghirardelli white chocolate.  I bought some white chocolate chips also (Hershey, I think), and taste tested them with a piece of the bar, and they tasted the same.  So. . . the next time I make these, I'll try the chips--a less expensive option.

1 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 T. molasses
1 cup plus 2 T. whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
3/4 t. ground ginger
4 oz bar of baker's white chocolate, broken into pieces (or similar amount of white chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put the melted butter, sugar, molasses, and egg in a deep bowl.  Whisk vigorously until well combined and a bit fluffy, about a minute.

Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Stir with a wooden spoon until all is mixed in.  Add in the white chocolate pieces.

Drop dough in mounds onto the baking sheets, about 2 teaspoonsful.  Bake for 10 minutes, until the edges are golden and the bottoms are lightly browned.  Take baking sheet out of oven and let the cookies cook on the pan for 2 minutes.  Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

adapted from

The coconut does some magic here, making these cookies quite different from regular chocolate chip cookies or oatmeal cookies--both of which I like, but if I'm going so far as making a batch of cookies, I'd rather do something a notch above.  These definitely hit the mark.

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1-1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 T. milk (skim is fine)
2 t. vanilla extract
1-3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3 c. quick-cooking (1 minute) oats
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cream together the butter and both sugars.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the milk and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix dry ingredients into the butter mixture just until combined.  Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, and coconut.  This makes a very stiff dough.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Cool on the pan for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  I used four baking sheets to bake up all the cookies from this recipe.

adapted from
1 recipe makes about 42 cookies (1" balls)

In the U.S., people seem to make these cookies mostly around Christmas time, but hey, you can enjoy these any time!  I love how they almost melt in your mouth.

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. confectioners sugar
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
2 c. finely chopped pecans (walnuts also OK)--chopping in a food processor makes this easy
confectioners sugar for rolling the cookies

Preheat oven to 325F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, blend together the butter and sugar until smooth.  Add vanilla and blend until incorporated.  (You can do this with a mixer instead, but the food processor makes it really easy.)  Add the flour mixture in two parts, alternating with the nuts, pulsing until a soft dough forms.

Roll balls of dough about 1" in diameter, and put them about 1" apart on the prepared baking sheet.  (They will spread very little in baking.)  Balls can be larger or smaller, as you wish, just make them all the same size.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until the balls are just done--before they start to brown on top.  The bottoms will be slightly golden.

Let cool a few minutes.  Put a cup or so of confectioners sugar in a flat-bottomed bowl.  Roll each ball in a first coat of confectioners sugar.  Once the cookies are completely cool, roll them again for a second coat.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Retirement and wine

Retirement has brought various changes to my life, including drinking more wine!  With the academic job I had, I often worked in the evenings--preparing for class, grading papers, writing memos, etc.--so it was rare for me to have a glass of wine with dinner.  Wine was special, for dinner with guests.  Soon after I retired, I realized that could change, and now that David is retired too, we've been going through a lot more wine.  We've been sampling various lower end wines, to see how far we could go and still enjoy the wine.  We had settled on Mirassou Pinot Noir, about $8.00 for a regular 750 ml bottle.  Then I decided to try a step lower, remembering the Gallo Hearty Burgundy that was our standard red wine when in grad school 40 years ago.  I didn't see exactly that on the shelf, but found Livingston Cellars (aka Gallo) Burgundy, a 1.5 liter bottle for the same price as the 750 ml bottle of Mirassou.  Very drinkable!  We now happily drink this for our "every night" glass, and enjoy something higher end when we have guests over.