Tag Archives: Cookie

Butter Bars with Chameleon Coffee Frosting

I’m sharing this recipe in support of Austin Bakes for Japan, happening Saturday, April 2nd!! Please join us at one of the five bake sale locations in Austin on Saturday starting at 10 AM. If you’re not in Austin, you can follow our progress that day via Twitter or our online giving page.

Butter bars with Chameleon Coffee Frosting

So remember when my mom and I threw a book-themed baby shower for my sister Beth? One of the things we had to make for Beth were butter bars with coffee frosting. This cookie recipe is her very favorite. It is a pretty straightforward icebox cookie, named for the butter in the dough, and the shape of the bar of the dough before the raw cookies are sliced.

This recipe is one of my favorite family heirlooms, and I love it more than any china or jewelry I’ve inherited. My Grandma Hakes (mom’s mom) gets credit for the recipe, and for three generations, women in my family have been making butter bars. Make that four generations! Beth had her baby in January, and Ella was in tow in the Snugli when we were making these cookies on Saturday.

My mom’s Butter Bar recipe card is a little tattered at the edges, and it lists ingredients in her usual way. She always writes in impeccable print the measurements and ingredients, in the order that they should be used. Mom’s instructions for recipes are always spare; here she writes “shape into bar, wrap in foil, chill. Cut into 1/4 inch slices.”

The notes on the bottom right of the recipe are in my Grandmother Hakes’ hand. She was on hand for the cookie making at Christmas 1996. I don’t remember the specifics of that visit very well, but  I always smile when I see Grandma’s notes on my mother’s recipe cards.

I’m not sure whether Grandma iced her butter bars when she first started making them. My mom developed this coffee frosting recipe, and our family has perfected it over many years of practice and testing.

I’ve given Mom’s frosting an Austin twist by using Austin-brewed Chameleon Cold-Brew coffee in place of the instant that she uses. I think the cold brewed coffee has a stronger, sweeter flavor than regular coffee that pairs perfectly with the toasty crunch of the cookie. In fact, the first time I tasted Chameleon Coffee at TECHMunch, I knew I had to use it in this recipe. Disclosure: the bottle of coffee that I used for this batch of cookies was a gift from Chameleon Coffee to all TECHmunch participants, so I didn’t buy it with my own money. Thanks, Chameleon Coffee!

I’ll be joining hundreds of other bloggers, bakers and local businesses this Saturday for Austin Bakes for Japan, a city-wide bake sale benefitting AmeriCares work in Japan. We have five locations in town, and there will be 24 packages of butter bar cookies at the East and Central locations. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that each package of cookie will pull in $5 or so, and my contribution to Saturday’s $10,000 goal will be over $100! Don’t the cookies look pretty on the plate?
Items at the bake sale have to be wrapped and ready to sell, so we packaged six cookies each on rectangular appetizer plates that Mom found at Party City. The plates of cookies fit perfectly into Ziploc freezer sandwich-sized bags (about an inch longer than regular sandwich bags).
Here’s what the cookies will look like on the tables Saturday.
Brown Sugar Butter Bars with Chameleon Coffee frosting (yields 4 dozen frosted cookies)
Cookies:
1 cup butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
Cream butter, brown sugar and vanilla using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add flour and keep mixing until it is completely incorporated into the dough. It will be thick and very crumbly. Divide the dough and shape each half into a log 1-3/4 inches in diameter. Wrap each bar in foil and chill for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 350. Cut dough into 1/4 inch slices and bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Allow cookies to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Here’s a step by step of the rolling, wrapping and cutting process:

These cookies will not spread much on the cookie sheet, so it’s good to put them close together:

Frosting:
1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons shortening
4 tablespoons Chameleon Cold-Brew coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 to 4-1/4 cups powdered sugar
Cream butter, shortening, coffee and vanilla using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. Spread frosting on completely cooled cookies. Top each cookie with a chocolate covered espresso bean, a few cocoa nibs, or (my mom’s favorite) a coffee flavored jelly bean.

Thanks to my mom and dad who bought the ingredients for these cookies, my mom and sister who made all the cookies and packaged them for the bake sale. Mom and Dad also gave $50 to AmeriCares through the bake sale’s online giving page. My sister Beth is going to be helping with the sale on Saturday. Rah, rah, rah Hutchisons, Decks, El-Farrahs!

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Spiced Beet Whoopie Pies

These whoopie pies sandwich a layer of fluffy cream cheese frosting between two pillowy mounds of spice cake.  They’re like a cross between a gingersnap, a cupcake, and a cloud from Care-a-Lot*. Perfect for holiday gatherings, or for eating by yourself during a claymation movie marathon.

Pumpkin has become a popular ingredient in holiday whoopie pies, but it makes the cake stickier than I like.  I adapted this recipe from Martha Stewart’s and Rachel Ray’s recipes for pumpkin whoopie pies, using beet puree in place of the pumpkin.  The beets give the finished cookies a soft, cake=like texture, and an earthy flavor that’s not too sweet.  The beet flavor in this recipe is complemented by a blend of traditional holiday spices: cinnamon, allspice, cardamom, and nutmeg. (I would have added cloves and ginger if I had them on hand.) Don’t skimp on these spices!  The taste of beets needs a big spicy kick to balance it out.

Spiced Beet Whoopie Pies
(makes 8 large desserts; each serving 2 people or one very hungry elf)
Cookies:
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup beet puree, from 1 large beet or several mini beets (instructions below)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon cardamom
1/2 tablespoon allspice
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2/3 cups flour
Filling
4 tablespoons butter, softened
4 tablespoons cream cheese
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk, as needed for texture

First, make beet puree. I used 6, ping pong ball-sized beets to make 3/4 cup puree.  One or two large beets would work, too. Place whole, unpeeled beets in a saucepan and cover with water.  Boil for at least half an hour, until flesh is tender and can be pierced with a fork.  Drain beets and allow to cool. Once beets can be handled safely, remove skin with a paring knife or your fingers and puree cooked beets in a food processor.

Next up, make the cookies. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.  Combine in a food processor 3/4 cup beet puree, 8 tablespoons softened butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract.  Process until mixture is smooth and well combined. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and dried spices. Carefully pour the beet mixture into the mixing bowl, and use a rubber spatula to fold the beet mixture and flour mixture together.

Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup, portion cookie dough into 16 mounds, spaced evenly onto each baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes, until springy to the touch. Remove from oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, cream 4 tablespoons softened butter with cream cheese.  Add the confectioners’ sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing on low until blended and then at medium-high speed until fluffy. Depending on the weather, the frosting may reach the appropriate texture before the full two cups of sugar are mixed in.  If necessary, thin frosting with a little milk.

Spread cream cheese frosting on the flat side of half the cookies; top with remaining cookies.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for at least an hour and up to three days before serving.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

*Remember Care-a-lot?  I like to think that even Professor Coldheart would get into the holiday spirit if he were served beet whoopie pies at a Festivus party.

Rosemary Lemon Cornmeal Cookies

I’m planning a little series of Christmas cookie posts this month, loosely titled “The 12 Cookies of Christmas.” (For the most part, I have just been calling it that in my head since it’s such a cheesy title. Let’s not call it that out loud, okay?) Each of the twelve recipes will feature locally-sourced ingredients in a holiday-cookie-exchange-ready format.  Get ready for beet whoopie pies, apple spice cookies, meyer lemon bars, and other holiday treats, just waiting to fill your Santa shaped cookie jar.

Rosemary’s sweet, pungent flavor and green needles remind me of Christmas trees, so when I was planning the series, I knew I wanted to kick things off with these crispy lemon rosemary cookies.  The timing couldn’t be better since Meyer lemons are finally in season here in Austin.  This recipe also features eggs from Ringger Farm and cornmeal from Homestead Gristmill, near Waco, Texas.  The course texture of the Homestead’s cornmeal enhances these cookies’ crunch, and I find these cookies to be more flavorful than ones I’ve made with nationally distributed brands of cornmeal.

Rosemary Lemon Cornmeal Cookies (yields 32 cookies)
adapted from “Cornmeal Cookies,” by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley
Cooking Light, May 2008

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary needles
1 tablespoon grated Meyer lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a cookie sheet with silpat or baking parchment. (Don’t skip this. The finished cookies are very delicate and will lose their shape if they stick to the pan after cooking.)

In a small bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, baking soda, and salt.  In a large mixing bowl, beat softened butter, sugar, rosemary, lemon rind, and lemon juice until creamy, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.  Add egg and beat until well combined.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until just blended.  Dough will be very soft.

Spoon dough by heaping teaspoons 2.5 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Cookies will spread while cooking, so take care not to put dough too close to the edges of the baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 11 1/2 minutes, until lightly browned and almost firm. Remove from oven and cool on pans for 2 minutes or until firm. Remove firm cookies from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.