Peanut butter banana cookies.

Cookie monster.

He’s got my nose, but pretty much nothing else. This picky-eating business is flummoxing at best – the kid would live entirely on Nutri-Grain bars if given the option. I don’t get it. There is no “just try it,” no “just one bite.” He must get this stubbornness from his father.

Occasionally it’s nice to save ourselves a fight and just give in and give him what he wants. He wants cookies.

Fortunately he likes things like raisins and bananas, so I can make him cookies and not be tempted to eat every single one. To be honest, baking’s been a bit weird around here. It’s rare that we have a purely decadent baked good, as Toddler adjusts his standard of living very quickly and we’re trying to maintain some standards by keeping him off white flour … at least until he’s reached the age of reason and can be convinced to eat actual food. (The white flour is for me, because I have a lot of feelings to eat.)

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Peanut butter and banana cookies

(Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.)

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed overripe bananas (about two medium)
  • 2 tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Optional: 2 tbsp. hemp hearts or chia seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter, peanut butter, and both sugars together until the mixture is fluffy and paler in colour than when you started. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add banana, flax, raisins, and chocolate chips, and hemp or chia seeds if using, and mix well.

Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined,

Roll into balls about an inch in diameter, and placed on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about an inch between each ball. Press with a fork, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly golden. You don’t want to over-bake these, as they should be a bit soft and chewy. Serve warm, with milk.

Store in a container with a lid, or portion them off into smaller containers or baggies and freeze.

cookies

Oh! Pretty!

It’s a very good day when I arrive home to find elegant gift bags stuffed with individually wrapped homemade baked goods.

I suppose that’s stating the obvious. But it’s true, because a gift of baked goods is a gift just for me, because Nick can’t sneak bites when I’m not looking or, as I’ve convinced him to believe, he will lapse into a diabetic coma and die before ever finishing his video game or seeing the Canucks win the Stanley Cup. Marriage has given me a chance to really shine.

The cookies are from my friend Amber (pictured in this post here), who lives in Victoria which is inconvenient as she is all kinds of fun (especially as a shopping buddy) and a highly skilled baker – I would like to see her more. Someone needs to give her a donation to start up a bakery, as you can clearly see (preferably a tall, olive-skinned benefactor with his own plane and a villa in Provence). She has endless patience and apparently a fabulous collection of cookie cutters. And she has excellent timing, as I have been wanting homemade cookies but not wanting to make them myself. When I bit into these I discovered that they’re better than I can make anyway.

Thanks, Amber! The lobster is my favourite, but I am going to eat him last.

Persimmon oatmeal cookies.

I have had a headache for three days. THREE DAYS. I think it’s the combination of too much to eat this past weekend and too little sleep, and whenever I can’t sleep my arthritis gets uppity and my mind races and all of a sudden I’m imagining worst-case scenarios like the student loan people beating down the door and shooting my cat because they want Nick and I to pay a combined total of $998 per month in loan payments so we’re always coming up short because that is too many dollars and they would shoot the cat, I just know. So, to counter that, I have been taking melatonin by the handful to get sleep, and Nick says that you really can take too much of that.

So, sleeplessness, oversleep, chemicals, joint pain, and never enough caffeine, and my head hurts. Also, logic has gone right out the window. With it, focus and discipline. Also, I’m a complainosaurus.

But because of all this, and because I had nothing to do tonight, I made cookies, and now I am happy and the universe promises to right itself. Tonight I will get a good sleep. Or I will smother the cat in a valiant attempt at saving her from my bad dreams. Either way, the apartment will smell like cookies!
These are made with persimmons, because we get a lot of those around here when they’re in season. Peel them first with a paring knife, and mince them fine. Their mindblowing sweetness is tempered here, balanced with salt and spice, and they make the cookies chewy and delicious. They’re crisp outside, and soft in the centre – all good stuff here.

Persimmon oatmeal cookies

(Adapted from Fannie Farmer. Makes about three dozen.)

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. fancy molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup finely chopped persimmon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 cups uncooked oatmeal (not the instant kind)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cream together butter, sugar, and molasses. Add egg, and beat until thoroughly combined. Add persimmon.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Pour gradually into wet ingredients, beating all the while. Add oatmeal slowly, and beat until well mixed.

Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until slightly puffed and golden. Cool on racks. Eat almost immediately.

The autumnal spiciness of these will make any kitchen smell just wonderful, curing headaches and cookie cravings. I’m taking a plate of these to bed, where I’ve got a cold glass of milk waiting with a book by MFK Fisher, and by tomorrow I expect I’ll be a superhero. You too?

A little trip requires a lot of cleaning and I prefer baking so I made cookies and the apartment is still gross. But carrots! Cookies! Carrot cookies!

Tremendous news – we’re going on vacation! A short one, but it counts because there are planes involved (several … which is only glamourous if I don’t tell you that we have layovers … on a trip from Vancouver to San Francisco) and because we are staying in hotel rooms and not tents. I all-caps HATE tents. At the first sight of springtime sun, Nick gets all goobery-eyed at the idea of driving to the middle of nowhere and sleeping in a tent we borrow from one of our sets of parents, and subsisting on hot dogs and box-wine while sitting in busted folding chairs for four days. Which? I’ll pass on, thanksverymuch. The last time we went camping we ended up parked beside the highway and Nick fell asleep under a van in nothing but his underpants and running shoes, and at that point I didn’t even care if he got eaten by bears. We weren’t married yet, so I didn’t have a lot invested in his NOT being eaten by wildlife, and that weekend he had it coming.

But the important thing is not that Nick and I are charmingly, recklessly dysfunctional, or that since it’s my blog I can make him look like the irresponsible one and you have only my word to go on. No. The important thing is that we (me, Nick, and Paul) are going to San Francisco. And also Las Vegas. Because my friend Theresa is flying in from Australia with her boyfriend, and we’re going to have the most fun ever.

And I’ve digressed again, because this isn’t a post to brag to you about my exciting, margarita-filled journey or my tumultuous, margarita-filled marriage. I’m really here to talk to you about cookies, because I thought it would probably be wise to clean out the fridge before we go, and I always get so distracted doing that. Out came the carrots and a lime, and I thought about how nice cardamom would be with all of that, and before I knew it, the butter was unwrapped and the oven was preheating and I’d forgotten why I’d opened the fridge door in the first place.

So these are carrot cookies, but because I was procrastinating, they’re different from your typical carrot cookies. The carrots are not grated as if you were making carrot cake; they’re puréed. The cookies are soft, so fluffy – like little cookie cakes, or sweet tiny scones. I’m going to eat twelve of them with tea for breakfast. There are no awful raisins crammed in, and the spices aren’t autumnal either. Not a whiff of cinnamon in the batch. And forget about cloves! These are carrot cookies for the bunny rabbits – all spring and POP! and there is no way I’m sweeping the kitchen floor tonight.

Carrot cookies

(Makes about 24 cookies.)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 lb. carrots, cooked and puréed (you should end up with 1 cup of purée)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. lime zest
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Add carrot, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix well. Beat in eggs, vanilla, lime zest, lime juice, and cardamon.

Stir flour mixture into carrot mixture and beat until thoroughly combined. What you will end up with will look like a thick cake batter and a very moist and sticky cookie dough. Place in fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Roll chilled dough into one-inch balls, dropping and rolling each ball in sugar. Place each ball on a buttered cookie sheet, about an inch apart, and press with the tines of a fork. Repeat, 12 to 24 times.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned. I’d say golden, but these are already orange. I wish I could show you how orange.

Eat as many as you can hot from the oven. Or, cool on a wire rack, and store in a sealed container.

Peanut butter and white chocolate shortbread cookies.

It’s my birthday (tomorrow)! Exciting news, I know. I’m now 27, which is three years older than my mom is in that picture, which makes me feel fairly unproductive and much less like an adult.

Fortunately, those feelings are easily forgotten by eating cookies, so I made myself some special birthday cookies and then stuffed my face with them. Being a grown-up means that I can have all the cookies I want, which is the best but most often overlooked part of adulthood. And tomorrow we are celebrating my birthday by driving two hours to Hope for pie, and then to a dodgy casino across the border for $1.75 pints and $3.00 blackjack. Adulthood can be kind of awesome if you don’t take it very seriously.

Peanut butter and white chocolate shortbread cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, whatever you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted (if you don’t like white chocolate or simply prefer dark, use the same amount of semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

This is the kind of recipe for which you need to have some sort of electric mixer or food processor. You can do without, I suppose, but that would be an incredible pain in the ass. The thing about shortbread, especially shortbread made with granulated sugars (including brown sugar) is that you literally have to beat the hell out of it. And not for a minute or two either – I’m talking 25 to 30 minutes, so that the sugar rips tiny little tears into the butter before dissolving back into it.

Yes. Now. Cream together the butter, the peanut butter, and the brown sugar. Meanwhile, melt white chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove. Once melted, pour into the butter-sugar mixture, and continue beating. Beat for 25 to 30 minutes, total.

After what will seem like forever, especially if your mixer needs to have its engine WD40d or something because it howls like it’s been stabbed, add the flour, a bit at a time, until a dough forms. Mix for another three to five minutes, until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.

Divide into two balls. Roll out into two logs, about a foot long each, and an inch and a half in diameter. Cover tightly in plastic wrap, and place in the freezer to firm up, 30 to 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Slice each log into about 24 equal pieces, place on a baking sheet about an inch apart, and poke each piece with the prongs of a fork. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, but check occasionally during the last few minutes to ensure the cookies have only just begun to brown. You want them firm and crumbly, but pale.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before eating, and then enjoy with chocolate milk (as much as you want).

Meyer lemon shortbread.

I’ve been thinking about shortbread lately, and I wasn’t going to give in to temptation (especially after I consumed 80% of the butter/cream/cheese buns the other day), but then I needed comfort food and my stew failed last night and cookies always make everything better when we’re out of the stuff to make pudding (pudding is the most soothing of comfort foods). My grandpa died yesterday, and though we all knew it was coming, that kind of advance warning doesn’t make the news any less surprising or unpleasant. And while I certainly have thoughts on the matter, I think I’d best save them for now – I’m well past the age of emo, and besides, it’s impossible to think clearly about anything until you feel able to focus.

So this morning, I am busying myself with shortbread cookies, the kind that sparkle with Meyer lemon and whisper vanilla. Regular lemon – or any citrus you like – will do if your local market didn’t surprise you with Meyer lemons this week. To replicate the taste of Meyer lemons, use two tablespoons lemon juice and one tablespoon orange juice (preferably mandarin orange juice), and that should give a suitable impression.

Meyer lemon shortbread cookies

(Makes about 24.)

  • 1 cup butter, softened (room temperature)
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 Meyer lemons, zest and juice (zest = about 2 tbsp., juice = 2 to 3 tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Cream together butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice, vanilla, and salt until liquid is absorbed into the mix. Mixture should be shiny and light.

Add flour, stirring until a soft dough forms. Form dough into a log (make sure the ends are equal to the middle in girth), and wrap tightly in plastic. Place in the freezer for up to one hour.

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Slice cookie roll into approximately 24 equal pieces. Place cookie slices on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, checking after 15 minutes for doneness.

Shortbread is different from regular cookies, in that it’s best if it isn’t allowed to bake until golden. The other thing that’s different is that you don’t want to eat it warm. Like bread, there are changes that occur when the shortbread cools, and you want the texture to have a sandy fall-apartness that you have to wait for. Troublesome, isn’t it? Not really, but they smell so good when they bake you’ll want to dive in right away.

Allow to cool on the baking sheet for five minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Serve with tea.

Blood orange cookie bars.

I love blood oranges so much. It’s not just their deep red flesh – they taste like a mash of oranges and raspberries, at least to me, and they peel easily and they aren’t so bitter that you can’t eat eight of them in one sitting if you wanted to, and I want to, most of the time.

When I was a kid, my mom used to make lemon slice – lemon custard baked onto a shortbread cookie crust. I think everyone’s mom made it – it was the kind of thing you’d have at open houses, grown-up birthday parties, or on Sundays. I’ve made them with limes, and the result was delicious, and with oranges. I wonder about grapefruit – I bet grapefruit cookie bars would be pretty interesting. Today, we have blood oranges, because to be honest when it’s blood orange season we always have more than we can peel and eat on hand anyway. I hope you like these. They’re like mom would make – especially since they’re adapted from a recipe I swiped borrowed from her tattered kitchen binder. But prettier, because they’re pink.

Blood orange cookie bars

Shortbread crust:

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of one blood orange
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Custard:

  • Zest of one blood orange
  • 4 tbsp. blood orange juice
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Cream together the butter, sugar, and zest to make your crust. Stir in flour until a crumbly dough forms, and then press it into a 9″x9″ square baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, until the edges have browned and it smells like cookies. Remove from oven and cool in the pan on a rack, about 20 minutes.

Whisk together your zest, orange juice, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, flour, and salt. Pour over crust. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges, dry on the surface, and pretty much firm in the centre when tilted slightly.

Cool, again in the pan, on a wire rack. Once completely cooled, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and cut into slices. Serve with tea. Or, if you had a crappy work week and it’s over now, serve with a glass of sparkling wine with just a squish of blood orange for colour.