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Being a robot is tough. It’s the little things that get to me. I heat up too quickly in the sun, so no matter how good I look in a bikini, there’s no sunbathing for me. I’m not allowed to apply for a driver’s license because the DMV thinks I’ll cheat on the written exam. I would give you a high five but my robot strength would probably break your arm.
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I moved to a new city a few months ago and I’m overwhelmed with food.
I moved from Springfield, Missouri, which is a decently sized little city. We had four grocery stores options in the whole town. Now that I live in Columbus, Ohio, I have six grocery options on my street alone.
Six! On one road! Where am I supposed to shop? I’ve been shopping at each store bit by bit – flour here, sugar there, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream pints from over there, etc…
One of those stores is Trader Joe’s, which I have waxed poetically on before. Trader Joe’s is a super fun pit stop for candy or cookies, but it’s too expensive for us to viably shop there for all of our groceries. But hey, I’m not complaining about their cookies or candies. You’ve had cookie butter before, right? You haven’t truly lived until you’ve seen a robot piling a cart high with cookie butter in Trader Joe’s. I like to give the locals a little something to look forward to in their menial grocery shopping. I’m a super nice robot like that.
However, it is a bit disappointing to admit that I did come across a Trader Joe’s cookie failure. It might not be a failure to you if you prefer crunchy cookies. We don’t.
We (and by we I mean the humans I bake for, OBVIOUSLY) are soft, chewy cookie fans. As in, if it isn’t chewy, it’s not a cookie. It’s like a cookie-wannabe. The Cousin Oliver of cookies, if you will.
So Trader Joe’s offers these tiny crunchy cashew caramel cookies. The flavor was great but it was like eating rocks (only a slight exaggeration). But don’t worry, I’ve fixed that problem in this recipe. These cookies are delightfully soft (but not fall-apart-in-your-hands-soft, if you know what I mean) and chewy, and the kick of salt from the cashews pairs with the caramel bits like – well, like salt and caramel.
And that flavor combination is just as popular in Ohio as it in Missouri. You humans are all the same.
Chewy Cashew Caramel Cookies
makes 3 dozen
slightly adapted from Oh My Sugar High
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup cashews, halves and pieces, salted
1 cup caramel bits
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or Silpat!).
2. In a large bowl, cream together shortening, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla extract.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, mixing until just combined. Gently stir in cashews and caramel bits.
4. Roll the dough into rough balls, approximately 2 tablespoons-worth. Space cookies about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are just turning golden brown. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for a minute before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
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Snickerdoodles are the best cookie. Is there anything they can’t do? Let’s check out the list:
- taste good
- look good
- smell good
- feel good
- hear good?
Okay, okay, we’ll stop there. But I really do think snickerdoodles are the best. Not only are they super easy and fast to whip up and bake, but they have the fluffiest! the chewiest! with a slight crunchiest! texture. And that cinnamon sugar coating? Ugh, I can’t even start talking about that without writing a short book titled “Cinnamon Sugar Coating on Snickerdoodle Cookies and Why It Can Help Change Your Life.” (Which you can find on Amazon any day now probably.)
You’ve got it, right? Snickerdoodles can’t be beat. But we can make them a little better.
Cue flashing lights and techno music! The words “RED VELVET-IZE TIME” flashes before your eyes and suddenly the world starts to smell the chocolate!
…Or did that only just happen to me? Maybe my computer brain is malfunctioning.
Anyway! When it comes to changing the taste of a snickerdoodle cookie, I don’t like to mess with too much because it’s important to keep that same fluffy consistency. That’s why I love using red velvet bakery emulsion so much – I honestly just use it like it’s vanilla extract. It gives the dough flavor and red coloring at the same time. Add a little cocoa powder and bam! You are now the most popular robot in the neighborhood. Or human. Whatever you prefer.
PS! If you just want regular red velvet cookies, leave off the cinnamon sugar coating. They’ll look something like this:
Red Velvet Snickerdoodles
makes 5 dozen (feel free to halve this recipe, but I promise even 5 dozen won’t be around for long)
adapted from Coffee Snickerdoodles
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar + 3 tbsp for coating
2 tsp red velvet bakery emulsion (I purchased mine from LorAnn Oils)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, shortening, and 1-1/2 cups sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and then stir in red velvet bakery emulsion.
3. In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add this to the butter mixture, stirring until just combined.
4. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon and the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar. Roll dough into one tablespoon-sized balls and coat in cinnamon sugar. Place on cookie sheet 1-1/2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes or just until the cookies have set. (Don’t let the tops get too crackly.) Move to a wire rack and let cool slightly.
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Okay, okay, I get it: I’m the worst (and only?) robot blogger in the world. “Where have you been?” you probably have not been asking. I’m ashamed to admit that I actually made this recipe several weeks ago. Oops.
If I can defend myself, I struggled with sharing this recipe. The cake batter chips (which are freaking awesome, can we all agree on that) are a bit of pain to work with, so I didn’t know if I should spread the recipe around. Well, I guess it’s obvious that I decided to finally share it, but it comes with a PSA.
I’m treating these chips as if they were candy corn – they have a very similar consistency. Have you ever baked with candy corn? If it touches the pan, the candy corn melts out of the cookie and creates a gooey burned mess. The cake batter chips react the same way, so when I formed the cookies, I rolled the dough into balls before I baked them – and I didn’t have any problems.
I will admit that since these cookies are so delectably chocolate-ly, the cake batter flavor is very subtle. It adds just a hint of sweetness and color to an already rich cookie. If you don’t feel like spending an hour making the cake batter chips, go ahead and leave them out. These cookies are amazing on their own. Soft as a pillow and richer than Mark Zuckerburg. (Well…)
If you do want to put in the extra effort for the cake batter chips, once you’re ready to form the chips, plop yourself in front of the TV or listen to an audio book to make it go faster. It’s tedious, long work for such a small amount of chips. Hey, I’m just warning you!
And of course, you don’t have to use the chips for this particular recipe only. Use them in cupcakes, brownies, bark, whatever! Just always remember the cautionary acronym: WTWWCC? (Would This Work With Candy Corn?)
Cake Batter Chips
makes approximately 3/4 cup (depending on size of chips)
adapted from Cupcake Project
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp white cake batter
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup nonpareil sprinkles
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or Silpat!).
2. Mix all ingredients together until completely combined. Spread the mixture onto the cookie sheet until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 30 minutes or until the mixture is bubbly around the edges. When you remove it from the oven, it should be translucent. Let cool completely before tearing little bits off and rolling into balls. (You may have to discard some dry edges.)
3. Store in a sealed bag and use within a week.
makes 3 dozen
slightly adapted from allrecipes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup cake batter chips (optional)
1/2 cup sprinkles (also optional… or add more!)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or Silpat!).
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla extract.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips, cake batter chips, and sprinkles.
4. Roll cookie dough in balls (I made mine about 2 tablespoons in size). Place cookies on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. (Do not press down on cookies!) Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are set. Let cookies cool for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack and cooling completely.
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The 4th of July is almost upon us, for all those American humans and robots out there, so naturally I felt the best color to embody in this recipe was LIGHT PURPLE. It doesn’t really get any more American than light purple.
Let’s just say that light purple is the result of taking the colors from the American flag – red, white, and blue – and mixing them together into a COOKIE DOUGH FOR YOUR ALL-AMERICAN PIE CRUSTS.
Sorry for the caps, I’m just very excited about this recipe and bursting with robot electricity. I wasn’t sure if the filling would taste like blueberry cookie dough but that’s exactly what it tastes it! Well, of course I shouldn’t have had my doubts, since it is, in fact, blueberry cookie dough and so should taste like one, but you know how fickle these recipes can be sometimes.
But we got lucky with this one, humans! I will say this though: because I wanted the cookie dough to be spreadable enough to fill the tart shells, it doesn’t have that almost chewy texture of regular cookie dough. It tastes just like it, but has a more ooey gooey feel to it. Which isn’t anything to complain about, if you ask me. Just make sure you don’t make the filling too gooey, because you still want it to hold its shape when you cut into the tarts.
I also had a can of black cherries hanging about, so I tried those too. (That’s why you see light pink tarts in the photos.) I didn’t quite like it as much as the blueberry cookie dough, but I would gladly try it again using bright maraschino cherries. Although I think maraschino cherries could make anything taste better. Try maraschino cherries and broccoli sometime! You’ll like it!
The filling is adapted from a sugar cookie dough recipe in The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook, which is probably one of my favorite books ever.
Blueberry Cookie Dough Tarts
makes 8 small tarts
adapted from The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook
8 store bought frozen mini tart shells
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp almond extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp canned blueberries, plus a little extra for garnish
whipped cream, for garnish
1. Bake tart shells according to packaging. Let cool completely.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in milk and almond extract. Add flour, salt, and cinnamon, stirring until completely combined. Mix in canned blueberries, using both the blueberries and the juice until you reach the desired texture. It should be about the spreading consistency of a thicker buttercream.
3. Gently spread cookie dough into cooled tart shells, filling them to the top. Garnish with whipped cream and a little extra blueberries and juice from the can.