4 cookie recipes to start the school year off right
Back to school is full of promise: new school supplies, new teachers and new adventures.
Almost every year I’ve had kids in school, I’ve stayed home the first day to send them off with a hot breakfast and welcome them with hugs and freshly baked treats when they return.
When children were small, they had no say in what came out of the kitchen; usually it was an eve like chocolate chips, peanut butter, or snickerdoodle cookies. Sometimes it was a tray of bars. There was maybe a hectic year or two when the local bakery got involved, and there was also the year we transferred a kid to college, so my adult daughter did the honors.
As children grew up and palates changed, recipes sometimes changed too. But what was in the cookie jar didn’t really matter. It was tradition, and those moments of connection that are so fleeting.
Today, two decades later, I only have one child at home, and he doesn’t like to fuss too much. I offered to make a hot breakfast like I do every year, but no, it would only have cereal. Her choice for her after-school treat? Rice Krispies Treats, which I can make while I sleep.
It’s not meant to be a culinary challenge, however, there’s plenty of time for it. It’s about making them feel loved and important. So if a simple casserole of bars is what he wanted, this is what he got. But I added nuggets.
Chocolate, pistachio and cardamom cookies
Makes about 20 cookies.
“When baking a vegan bake, I don’t want to compromise on flavor or texture, and these cookies are a great example of that,” writes Chetna Makan in her new cookbook, “Chetna’s Easy Baking” (Hamlyn, 2022). “The delicate flavor of cardamom and the richness of dark chocolate and pistachios make it a riot with every bite.”
• 1/2 tsp. (1 stick) vegan butter, softened
• 3/4 tsp. light brown sugar
• Pinch of fine sea salt
• 1 1⁄4 vs. plain flour
• 1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
• 1 C. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1⁄3 vs. unsweetened almond milk
• 10.5oz. vegan dark chocolate (70% cocoa), coarsely chopped
• 1⁄2 vs. pistachios, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar and salt and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. In another bowl, sift the flour, cardamom, baking powder and baking soda and mix.
Add the almond milk to the butter mixture followed by the flour mixture then chocolate and pistachios. Fold everything to form a soft dough.
Take a lime-sized portion of dough, shape it into a circle, and place it on a prepared sheet. Repeat to form all of the cookies, leaving enough space between them for the cookies to spread out when baked.
Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Lemon birthday cake cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies.
They may be called birthday cake cookies, but they are delicious for any occasion. You may need 5 lemons, depending on the size of each, to get enough zest for the cookies and frosting. Excerpt from “Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, 13e Edition,” by General Mills. (Harvest, 2022).
For the cookies:
• 3/4 tsp. Granulated sugar
• 1/2 tsp. sour cream
• 1/2 tsp. (1 stick) softened butter
• 1 egg
• 1 tbsp. lemon zest
• 2 1/4 tsp. all purpose flour
• 1/2 tsp. baking powder
• 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/4 tsp. multicolored candy sprinkles
For the frosting:
• 2 ch. Granulated sugar
• 1/2 tsp. (1 stick) softened butter
• 2 tablespoons. fresh lemon juice
• 2 tbsp. lemon zest
• 1/8 tsp. salt
• 2 tablespoons. multicolored candy sprinkles
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To prepare the cookies: In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, sour cream and butter with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add egg and 1 tablespoon lemon zest; continue beating until well blended. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; mix until a soft dough forms. Stir in 1/4 cup of chips.
Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls (dough will be soft). On each of two ungreased baking sheets, place 12 balls about 2 inches apart. Flatten the balls to 1/2 inch thick.
Bake a pan for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool 5 minutes; remove from baking sheet to a cooling rack. Repeat with the second baking sheet. Cool cookies completely, about 15 minutes.
To prepare the frosting: In a medium bowl, beat together powdered sugar, butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt until smooth. Spread each cookie with barely 1 tablespoon of frosting. Sprinkle cookies with sprinkles. Let the frosted cookies sit until the frosting is set. Store in a single layer in loosely covered containers at room temperature.
Pumpkin Snicker Crinkles
Makes about 36 cookies.
Traditional crinkle cookies are made by coating portions of chocolate dough in powdered sugar just before baking. For these treats, we’ve combined the warm cinnamon and sugar flavors of a classic snickerdoodle with the puffy, cracked surface of a chocolate waffle. Excerpt from “Fabulous Modern Cookies”, by Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin (Everyman Press, 2022).
• 2 1/4 tsp. flour, divided
• 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 6 tbsp. Butter without salt
• 1 1/2 tsp. dark brown sugar, packed
• 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon, divided
• 2/3 tsp. canned pumpkin puree
• 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
• 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1/2 tsp. Granulated sugar
Place oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line two 18 x 13 inch baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, baking soda, and salt. Put aside.
In a small, light-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Keep cooking and it will start bubbling noisily as the water boils. Once the bubbles begin to subside, stir the pan constantly for about 1 minute or until the milk solids in the bottom of the pan are golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma. Remove the pan from the heat and add the brown sugar and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Stir with a whisk or spatula, making sure to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup flour and pumpkin purée. Cook the mixture in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula. Transfer the pumpkin paste to the brown sugar mixture and, using the mixer’s flat beater, beat on medium speed to break up the pumpkin paste and incorporate the sugar. Let the mixture cool completely, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Once cooled, mix the egg yolks and vanilla into the batter on medium speed. Reduce mixer speed to low and stir in flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl and beater to ensure all dry ingredients have been incorporated.
In a shallow bowl, whisk together the remaining teaspoon of cinnamon and powdered sugar. Scoop out 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter and drop directly into the bowl of cinnamon powdered sugar. (The dough is a little too soft to roll in your hands.) Gently roll them to coat them completely and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until cookies have puffed, cracked and edges are set, 11 to 15 minutes. Halfway through cooking, rotate the molds from front to back and from top to bottom. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter once baking sheets are completely cooled.
Once the cookies have cooled. store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.
Turkish Ginger Lime Cookies
Makes 14 round cookies (2 ¼ inches).
“The texture of this unusual cookie is super crispy, and the flavor is buttery and aromatic, with the perfect balance of lime and ginger,” writes Rose Levy Beranbaum in “The Cookie Bible” (Harvest, 2022). “Try not to eat them all at once.” Note: This recipe requires plenty of time to cool, so you will need to prepare it ahead of time.
• 3/4 tsp. plus 1 1⁄2 soup. all purpose flour
• 3/4 tsp. baking powder
• 1/8 tsp. fine sea salt
• 2 tbsp. lime zest, finely grated and lightly packed, from about 2 limes
• 2 tablespoons. Granulated sugar
• 3 1/2 tsp. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces, softened
• 1/4 tsp. plus 2 tbsp. Granulated sugar
• 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger, from a 2-in. room
• 1 to 2 large egg yolks, about 1 tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the grated lime zest to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the caster sugar and, with your fingers, rub it into the lime zest. Add the butter and powdered sugar to the bowl. Attach the flat beater and beat on low speed until the sugar is incorporated. Increase speed to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes, until lighter in color and frothy.
Add grated ginger and egg yolk and beat until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until incorporated and large lumps form, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
Remove the bowl from the stand and press the dough into a large ball. Place the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and cover it with a second piece of plastic wrap. Press to flatten it, then roll it 1/4 inch thick. Slide the dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or until firm enough to cut into cookies.
Lift the top piece of plastic wrap, cut out the cookies and transfer them to the baking sheet, at least 1 inch apart. Use plastic wrap to knead the scraps of dough and shape them into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to roll and cut.
Continue with the refrigerated dough until you’ve used all the dough. Refrigerate baking sheet, lightly covered, 20 to 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the baking sheet and continue baking for another 5-10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden around the edges.
Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and transfer the cookies to another wire rack. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.