Tag Archives: cookies

Miracle Bars: easiest cookies ever

21 Apr

passover miracle barsWhen we make sweets for Passover, the ultimate accolade is, “This is good enough for regular!”

Well, these easy-t0-make bars really are, probably because they contain no matzoh meal or matzoh flour — not even potato starch!

I got the recipe from a collection of Passover recipes that came into my email in-box; I apologize that I can’t credit the source.

It’s one of the easiest recipes I’ve ever made, and it would be a great one to make with young children, who can dump the ingredients into a bowl and stir. And they’re gluten-free!

The recipe says you can shape them into cookies instead of bars; I haven’t tried this. My own suggestion is to consider replacing the chocolate chips with Craisins or dried cherries — or add those in addition to the chocolate chips.

The original recipe also called for a 9 x 13-inch pan. I used an 8-inch-square pan and it worked well; I think in a 9 x 13 pan the squares would be too short. I also changed the baking time and temperature slightly.

Another bit of advice: the first few bars tended to stick to the pan, even when I greased it well — after the first few came out crumbled I was able to pry out the others intact. The second time I made this recipe I put a piece of parchment paper in the pan before adding the batter — and had no broken bars!

Ingredients:

1 cups ground almonds
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs (extra-large work best)
1 cup chocolate chips
Optional: 1 cup Craisins or dried cherries in place of or in addition to chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. The batter will be thick; do not add water or other liquid.

Grease an 8 x 8-inch square baking pan and put parchment paper on the bottom. Or lightly grease a cookie sheet if you plan to make cookies. Spread the batter evenly in the pan or shape into cookies and place on the greased cookie sheet.

Bake square pan for 30 minutes (cookies will take less time) until the top is nicely browned and the center of the pan looks dry; do not undercook.

Cool completely in the pan, then turn out and cut into 16 squares. (If making cookies, cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.)

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Easy Passover Brownies

24 Mar

Passover browniesGroan! If you’re like me, you’re up to your elbows in Passover cleaning and starting to think about the cooking. For everyone in the midst of this craziness, I wish you energy to complete the task and joy when everything is done!

I make these brownies every year because they’re easy and they’re good. In fact the recipe is almost exactly the same as the non-Passover brownies-from-scratch recipe I use year-round except it leaves out the baking powder (even though you can find kosher-for-Passover baking powder) and it uses a little less cake flour than all-purpose flour. If you wrap them well, they’ll keep for a few days.

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
⅓ cup matzo cake meal
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tbs. cocoa
1 stick butter or margarine, melted (tip: if you melt it in the baking pan, the pan will be nicely greased!)
½ cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs. Add sugar gradually and beat until light and fluffy. Add the salt, matzo cake meal and cocoa powder and mix well. Add the melted margarine and mix well.

Stir in the nuts or chocolate chips.

Bake in a greased 8-inch square pan for 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Wrap leftovers carefully so they don’t dry out.

Makes 16 brownies

Brown Sugar, Pecan and Kahlua Biscotti

23 Dec

BiscottiThis is another great recipe I clipped from some newspaper long ago. We make it fairly often because it’s not difficult, there’s no fat, it’s very tasty, and the biscotti remain good to eat even when you keep them for a long time.  They’re great dunked into a cup of coffee.

My Jewish friends often mistakenly call these tidbits mandelbrot, which are similar but I think, on the whole, softer.

The key to making good biscotti is to bake them twice so they’re nice and hard. You’ll want to chop the nuts fairly fine so that you can cut clean slices after the first baking.

If you don’t use liqueur, you can substitute strong coffee or orange juice, and you can easily substitute walnuts for the pecans.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
3 eggs
3 Tbs. Kahlua or another liqueur  (Grand Marnier and Sabra are also good)
1½ cups chopped pecans
¼ cup white sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray lightly with cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Combine eggs and liqueur in a large bowl and mix well with an electric mixer. Mix in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the pecans until just incorporated.

Use a large spatula to remove half the dough to the prepared baking sheet and shape into a large, flattened log. Do the same with the other half. You may have to wet your hands to do this easily. Leave at least 3 inches of space between the logs.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until the tops of the loaves are firm to the touch and they begin to crack slightly. Be careful not to over-bake.

Allow the loaves to cool for about 30 minutes, then cut them with a sharp, serrated knife into slices about ½-inch wide. Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with white sugar. Bake for about 8 minutes, then turn the slices over and sprinkle the other side with sugar. Bake another 8 minutes. They should be lightly browned; keep an eye on them so they don’t over-brown.

Cool completely on wire racks before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 2 to 3 dozen biscotti

Trailside Oatmeal Cookies

17 Apr

Trailside Oatmeal CookiesI can’t remember where I got this recipe, but I’ve been making it since I lived in Philadelphia eons ago. You can fool yourself that you’re eating something healthy — after all, they’re full of oats, nuts, raisins and peanut butter. And they taste great too! I like to use crunchy peanut butter to give them an extra crunch. You can substitute dried cherries or cranberries for the raisins, if you like.

Ingredients:

½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup orange juice or milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2½ cups uncooked rolled oats
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter or margarine and sugars together until creamy. Blend in eggs, orange juice or milk and vanilla. Sift together the flour, soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix well. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips and raisins. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Almond Cookies (OK for Passover!)

18 Mar

Almond CookiesHooray, I made a recipe last week that can be used on Passover! But you don’t have to be kosher-for-Passover or even Jewish to enjoy these delicious almond cookies.

We had a friend coming for lunch who is gluten intolerant, which limited our options for dessert. I decided to make this very easy recipe for Passover almond cookies, even though it wasn’t Passover yet, because they really are good enough to eat all year round. They contain no matzo flour, so they don’t “taste like Passover.”

This was the first time I made them with cardamom, because I don’t have kosher-for-Passover cardamom. It gave the cookies a very pleasant, distinctive flavor. I also make them without the almond flavoring for the same reason. I planned to add it this time, since it wasn’t Passover yet and I have lots of almond extract in my pantry — but I forgot! During Passover, I often add a bit of cinnamon to the mix.

If you use a food processor to grind the almonds yourself, pulse it in short bursts. You want the almonds to be very finely ground, but you don’t want them to turn into a paste! I usually splurge and buy packages of ground almonds, even though that’s a lot more expensive.

This is adapted from a recipe in The Jewish Holiday Cookbbook by Gloria Kaufer Greene.

Ingredients:

2 large egg whites
⅔ cup sugar
½ tsp. almond flavoring (optional – may be hard to find for Passover)
2 cups very finely ground almonds
1 Tbs. potato starch
¼ to ½ tsp. ground cardamom or cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Whip the egg whites until they turn white and start to increase in volume, but not until stiff. Stir in the sugar and mix well, then mix in the remaining ingredients. The “dough” will be a very thick paste. With moistened hands, form small balls and place them on ungreased baking sheets about 2 inches apart. (You might want to put parchment paper on the baking sheets to make it easier to remove the cookies.) Flatten the cookies slightly with moistened fingers.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cookies are firm and very lightly browned. Use a metal spatula to remove the cookies from the baking sheets (I’ve found turning the spatula upside down is helpful here) and cool on wire racks.

Makes about 24 cookies.

Hamentaschen

17 Feb

HamentaschenThese fruit, nut or poppy-filled cookies are popular on the Jewish festival of Purim, which commemorates the events told in the Book of Esther. This year, Purim fall on February 24.

The cookie’s three-cornered shape is supposed to represent Haman’s hat, though the word means “Haman’s pockets” in Yiddish. My mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she baked these hamentaschen every year. She got the recipe from our neighbor in Northeast Philadelphia, Ida Silver.

In 2007, I read a Hadassah magazine article by Judy Davis called “My Mother’s Hamentaschen” and I realized Judy Davis was the married name of Ida Silver’s oldest child, a few years older than me. But the recipe in the magazine was not my mother’s recipe!

I hadn’t seen Judy in at least 40 years but I tracked her down – she worked at the University of Massaschusetts – and emailed her. In her response she admitted it the recipe not her mother’s, which she either never had or lost. “I must have had a copy at some time, though I have no memory of it,” she wrote. “I love the idea of your mother having used her recipe (it means my mother must have shared some of them with her), and I love that it is being handed down to the next generation.”

Indeed it is! My children always enjoyed my hamentaschen – at some point, each of them served as my baking assistant. Now they are making the same recipe. And in all humility, I say that I know only one friend who has a recipe for hamentaschen as good as these. The cookie is tender, and the honey and lemon give it a nice flavor.

I usually double the recipe, though now that the children are out of the house and we are retired (with no office colleagues to share goodies with), I am going back to making a single batch. I don’t use a board to roll out the dough. I do what my mother did: cover the kitchen table with an old sheet and work some flour into it and use that as my workspace.

Use Solo brand pie filling or similar; regular pie filling is too runny and will make the hamentaschen soggy.

Ingredients:

2½ cups flour
2½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
⅓ cup vegetable shortening
¼ cup honey
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 eggs
1 can Solo fruit, nut or poppy pastry filling

Directions:

Hamentasch dough

The dough should be soft and pliable and form a ball.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Cream the shortening and sugar. Add the honey and lemon juice. Add half of the flour mixture, then the eggs, then the rest of the flour.The dough should form a ball and pull away from the sides of the bowl; if it’s too sticky, add a little more flour. Take a third to a half of the dough ( less, if you make a double batch), pat it into a flattened disk, and roll it out on a floured board. Keep the rest covered with a damp cloth so it doesn’t dry out.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pinching hamentaschen into a three-cornered shape

Pinch the hamentaschen into a three-cornered shape.

Roll the dough out evenly to a thickness of about ⅛  inch.Filled hamentaschen Cut into rounds with a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass that you’ve dipped into flour. Add the scraps of dough not cut out back into the bowl with the rest of the dough. Place a teaspoonful of filling on each round, then fold into

Pinch the hamentaschen into a three-cornered shape: bring two “sides” of the circle together into a point and pinch to hold them together, then fold up the rest of the circle and pinch it to the two sides formed by the first pinching.

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 12 -15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies.