Baking seasonally: Martha Stewart’s Strawberry-Shortcake Cookies [RECIPE]

Cooking seasonally comes easy because there are so many great fresh vegetable recipes out there. But baking (more specifically cookies) can be a bit hard. Often times, recipes ask for dried fruit. Right now, strawberries are in season and I’ve been scouring my cook books and the web for a recipe that called for fresh strawberries – not as a cream or preserve for a cookie sandwich or dehydrated bits but actually integrating strawberries into the cookie.

I ended up finding this simple recipe by Martha Stewart for Strawberry-Shortcake Cookies that used fresh strawberries. I thought it would be perfect for a potluck I was going to. I bought some fresh local strawberries – pick a package with smaller strawberries because they tend to be sweeter than large strawberries.

I like this recipe because it doesn’t use unfamiliar ingredients. It’s everything you can find at your local grocery store and you don’t have to spend a whole lot of money. The ingredients:

  • Fresh strawberries
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice (squeeze from a real lemon – tastes better)
  • Course salt
  • Baking powder
  • Unsalted butter (COLD BUTTER!)
  • Heavy cream
  • Sanding sugar for sprinkling (optional)

I actually didn’t use the sanding sugar because I’m trying to cut down excess sugar in my food and it still tasted good – actually, I think the extra sugar would have made it too sweet. Make sure your dough IS NOT  smooth – you want to make sure it’s crumbly and lumpy. They key to this recipe is to use cold butter, don’t leave it out. The reason is if the dough is too pasty it will be hard to mix in the strawberries. The crumbly mix will make it easier to fold in the strawberries – you don’t want to beat it in or it will get masked up. Spoon about a tablespoon on your parchment paper on the cookie sheet and form into a circle. When it’s all done it will look like this:

You know when it’s ready because the edges are slightly brown and the strawberries keep their shape. These cookies should be eaten in 24 hours because you don’t want the strawberries to dry out. I brought them to a potluck dinner and they were all eaten.

Can’t wait to make these again!

RECIPE: Strawberry-Shortcake Cookies

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Baking gluten-free almond macaroons [RECIPE]

This is my second attempt trying to bake almond macaroons. The first time I did it, it turned out pretty bad so I didn’t even bother taking photos. I recently found a recipe that I posted on my Pinterest board for chewy almond macaroons from Saveur. I love almonds and it’s gluten-free and vegan-friendly – which is a safe dessert to bring for potlucks if people have aversions to certain ingredients.

The recipe calls for just a few ingredients:

  1. Almond paste (do not use marzipan)
  2. Superfine sugar (aka Baker’s Sugar)
  3. Salt
  4. Amaretto liqueur
  5. Powdered sugar

I’m not going to lie, almond paste is pretty expensive. I bought mine for a little under $7 for 7 oz. This recipe calls for 18 oz. Next time I may try to make my own almond paste if I have the time – or shop around for a beter deal (but I doubt I will find anything better). Here’s how it looks after the ingredients were all mixed and they were put on the parchment paper on the cookie sheet.

You’re supposed to take the macaroons out when they have turned golden however, mine took a long time to turn golden and when it did, the macaroon shape flattened to look like a cookie – it didn’t look like the one that Saveur posted.

DO NOT use regular granulated sugar. The recipe calls for “superfine sugar” which is something between the consitancy of granulated sugar and powdered sugar. I was going to buy the superfine sugar but it was almost $5 for a carton and I only needed 1/2 cup. I did some research online and apparently, you can put granulated sugar in the food processor for a couple minutes or until it gets really fine.

Granted the look of the almond macaroons didn’t look like I had expected BUT it tasted great. There was a little caramelization on top and the cookie was dense and chewy. Even though the base of the recipe is almond paste, the almond flavor didn’t overpower the cookie – it was subtle and sweet. If you have tips to make this dessert better, please share your tips with me! I’d really appreciate it.

If you’re willing to give it a try, here’s the RECIPE for chewy almond macaroons.

Thanksgiving treat: bite-sized pecan pies (recipe)

I was searching for an easy dessert to bring to a Thanksgiving potluck at work. I wanted to bring something bite-sized so it would be easy to eat and serve. Luckily, my search didn’t last long because The Kitchn posted an entry titled: Bite-Sized: 10 Mini Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes.

I wanted to make every single item on the list – I mean, who doesn’t love bite-sized food!? But the one that won me over was the Joy of Baking recipe for Pecan Tassies that The Kitchn linked to. Pecan Tassies are basically bite-sized pecan pies.

The key to this recipe is getting one of those mini-muffin trays that are non-stick and good unsalted butter at room temperature. If you know you’re going to bake these, leave the butter out in the morning before you head out to work so it will be soft enough for you to cook with in the evening.

Also, for the crust, you need to cut out a circle that is slightly bigger than the individual muffin in the tray – I suggest looking at your cups as a cookie cutter and testing out different cups to find the right size – I ended up using a mug and it was the perfect size! I then used a fork to put ridges on them before I poured the sweet sugary pecan pie goodness in.

Note: Every mini-pecan pie was eaten at the potluck. I think this was a successful dessert…. down to each bite!

More bite-sized recipes for Thanksgiving (and the holidays): The Kitchn