Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a love/hate relationship with chocolate chip cookies.

I love to eat them but I hate how fat they make me. Chocolate chip cookies are probably the reason I stayed away from being a pastry chef. That much access to sweets would put me in the diabetic ward.

When I was the executive chef at Donald Trump’s casino in Gary, Indiana, we made hundreds of giant chocolate chip cookies for hungry gamblers from scratch daily. It’s a good thing chef’s pants have elastic waistlines.

So here’s a way to enjoy chocolate chip cookies without feeling guilty about it: Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies! They are half the calories of regular chocolate chip cookies because they are half the size!

The only difference between the formula for regular chocolate chip cookies and minis are that you use mini chocolate chips. Normal sized chocolate chips would not work because they would take up too much room inside the cookie and they wouldn’t hold together very well.

Did you know chocolate chip cookies were invented by accident in 1940 by Ruth Wakefield, a baker at the Toll House Restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts? She happened to have a bar of chocolate lying around and decided to throw it into her butter cookie batter. The rest is history.

This miniature version of Ruth’s recipe may be lower calories, but if you eat twice as many there’s no real caloric savings. What I usually do when I bake sweets is to make sure I give them away as quickly as possible. If they are lying around the house, I am powerless to not eat them.

Needless to say, my family and neighbors love when I bake. I’m like a one-man Cub Scout bake sale except for free!

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 egg

2-1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

12 oz bag mini chocolate chips

1 cup walnuts, chopped fine (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Cream butter, shortening and sugars in Kitchen Aid, or use hand mixer. Meanwhile, combine flour, salt and baking soda in mixing bowl.

2. Add the flour mixture to the Kitchen Aid and mix just until dough is combined and moist but don’t over mix because it will make the cookies tough. Nobody likes a tough cookie. Add the mini chocolate chips and nuts and mix a few more seconds so they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

3. Use your hands to form small cookie drops, about 1 TBS each, and spread out evenly on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until just browned. Remove and cool on baking racks. When completely cool, store in airtight containers. Make sure to give them away as quickly as possible, otherwise you may eat them all.

This recipe also can be used to make chocolate cookie bars. Just press all the dough into an ungreased baking pan, 15-1/2″x10″x2″, and bake at the same temperature for 15 to 20 minutes or until brown. When cool, cut into 2″ bars. Serve with milk. Yum!

Are there any foods that you hate because you love them so much? Share your tragic love story in the comments section below. And, as always, thanks for looking at my blog!

Oatmeal Cookies

Did you know that in the United Kingdom, what we in the US call cookies are known as biscuits? And that in Scotland a cookie actually refers to a plain bun? Or that in South Africa, if you ask for a cookie you will be given a cupcake?

Let’s all agree on one thing, at least: These oatmeal cookies are delicious!

Growing up, oatmeal cookies were my favorite, especially those iced oatmeal cookies that came from the grocery store. My mother knew a handful of those would stop me in my tracks for at least a couple of minutes, so she always made sure she had a supply on hand.

I have always preferred homemade oatmeal cookies to chocolate chip cookies, which are often so sweet I get a headache after eating only one or two.

As if that would stop me! As if I could eat only one or two!

While these oatmeal cookies are certainly sweet, the sugars don’t overpower them and the fructose in the raisins balance out the sucrose in the granulated and brown sugars. Even better, try them with the lactose from a glass of milk. That will boost the glucose in your bloodstream. That’s a lot of -ose’s!

So whether you are eating biscuits in the UK, cookies in the US, or whatever South Africans call them, these oatmeal cookies are the bomb!

Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

3 TBS milk

1-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup raisins (or chopped walnuts)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Cream the butter and sugars together in a Kitchen Aid (or use a mixer). Add the vanilla, milk and the egg and mix until absorbed. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the oats and raisins (or walnuts) and mix until just combined.

2. Use two tablespoons to drop cookie batter onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving at least 2″ of space in between for the cookies to spread. Bake 13 minutes or until cookies start to brown on the bottom. Remove from oven and immediately use a spatula to transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Cool completely before storing unrefrigerated in an airtight container.

This recipe also can be used to make oatmeal squares. Instead of forming cookies, press the dough into the bottom of an ungreased 8″x8″ baking pan. Bake about 25 minutes or until it turns light brown. Cut into 2″ squares while still warm.

Okay, it’s the time of year to share your favorite cookie recipes. Please share the wealth in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!

Historic Apple Butter Jumble Cookies

Old family recipes give us a fascinating glimpse into the lives of those who came before us.

Recently, I attended a presentation at Chicago’s famed Newberry Library by archivist Kelly Kress on a 19th Century family heirloom cookbook donated by the Blatchfords, a Chicago family of note who resided at their home, Ulmenheim (German for “Elm House”), which stood on LaSalle Street between Maple and Elm streets.

The topics of Ms. Kress’s insightful talk ranged from the kinds of foods families ate during the years leading up to the Civil War to the growing influence of immigrant cultures on American dinner tables. To help illustrate her talk, she served a traditional cider cake she made following one of the book’s actual recipes. Sadly, I arrived too late to indulge, but I’m told it was marvelous.

Another popular dessert from that era was jumble cookies, which are a mixture of a variety of ingredients, but usually include raisins, nuts and spices. They are a very old dessert, dating back to the Middle Ages, but also have been popular in the United States since the colonial days.

Martha Washington had a famous jumble cookie recipe and they are reported to have been among the items brought over on the Mayflower and were a staple in Jamestown.

Apple Butter Jumbles with Walnuts and Raisins and Brown Butter Glaze

Apple Butter Jumbles with Walnuts and Raisins and Brown Butter Glaze

Jumble cookies are simple to make, very flavorful and can be stored a long time without going bad, which probably accounts for their popularity though the ages.

Their name derives not from “jumble” as in a lot of things mixed together, but from the Arabic “jemel”, which means “twin” and refers to the shape into which they were formed. They are sometimes called “jumbals”.

The recipe I found in the Betty Crocker Cookbook (originally published in 1969) called for all ingredients to be mixed together in one bowl simultaneously, but I don’t think that would turn out so well. I’ve modified it to improve the end product.

The recipe also called for applesauce, but I substituted apple butter because I recently made a batch and wanted to use it up. Try this recipe if you want to bring a little history to your kitchen!

Apple Butter Jumble Cookies

3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

3/4 cup apple butter

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

Brown Butter Glaze (Recipe below)

Preheat oven to 375F. Cream the shortening and sugar in Kitchen Aid bowl (or use hand mixer), then add the apple butter, vanilla, and the eggs one at a time until absorbed. Meanwhile, combine cinnamon, ground cloves, salt, baking soda and flour in a separate bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined, then fold in walnuts and raisins. Use two teaspoons to drop onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving about 2″ between, and cook for about 14 minutes. Remove immediately from the cookie sheet and cool on racks. When cool, ice cookies by dipping them upside down into the glaze, allowing the excess to drip off.

Brown Butter Glaze

1/3 cup butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1-1/2 tsp vanilla

2 to 4 TBS hot water

Heat butter over low heat until it browns, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Once browned, remove from heat and whisk in sugar and vanilla. Thin out with water until proper consistency for dipping.

Does your family have dishes that have been passed down from generation to generation? Share your traditions in the comments section below. And thanks for looking at my blog!