Bake Homemade Cookies For Family Treats, After School Snacks

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Cream cheese filled pumpkin bars are easy to assemble and offer a taste of fall spices. Prepare a batch or two of dropped or bar cookies this coming week as a special treat for your family. Photo by ANN CIPPERLY

By Ann Cipperly

When family walks in the house, there is something wonderful and welcoming about the sweet aroma of cookies baking in the oven. While cookies are great for after school snacks, they are also popular with almost everyone to savor with a cup of tea or coffee any time of day.

Letting children help bake cookies is a good way to teach them to enjoy cooking. First, they learn to always wash their hands before starting to cook. Show them how to measure flour by stirring it in the canister first, then to dip a large spoon or a small measuring cup into the flour a few times until the cup is full. Then, let them take a table knife and scrape with the straight end to level.

When teaching grandchildren to cook, I have noticed that they want to hurry the process and dip the cup into the flour canister and just dump it into a bowl. Last year a sweet family member told me that her pound cakes were not as good as mine. I watched her make one and saw that she was measuring the flour by dipping the entire cup and not leveling it off. She was adding much more flour than needed for the recipe, making the cake dry.

If children are cracking eggs, be sure they wash their hands again afterwards. Also, teach them not to eat raw cookie dough as it could make them sick. The cookie dough tastes much better after it is baked.

When baking cookies, I line cookie sheets with parchment paper. The cookies are easily removed without sticking, and it makes cleanup quicker.

My friend Cindy Avery, who I wrote about earlier this year, is in my Sunday school class and Bible study group. She adores baking. As soon as September arrived she was in the kitchen making pecan bars with brown sugar and pumpkin truffles. Cindy also likes to share, and I was blessed with a taste of the first batch of both.

Although the truffles are not cookies, I am including that recipe too since they have a wonderful pumpkin flavor. Add a few of these among the cookies you are baking. The pecan bars are excellent too.

Bar cookies are the easiest to assemble and bake if you are in a hurry. Pumpkin bar cookies are especially good in the fall months. They mix up quickly and are ready quickly to slice and serve. Try the cream cheese filled pumpkin bars. It has four spices which are well blended for a tasty treat.

When baking with canned pumpkin, most recipes say pure pumpkin or just pumpkin. Do not use canned pumpkin pie filling unless the recipe calls for it.

During the fall months, anything with pumpkin spice is popular from coffee drinks to assorted pastries. You can purchase a container of pumpkin spice at the grocery store, or you can mix your own with a variety of spices. Combine 2 tsp. ground cinnamon with ¼ tsp. ground cloves, ½ tsp. ground ginger and ½ tsp. ground nutmeg. You can increase the amounts and store in a tight fitting container.

Keep a couple of jars of peanut butter on hand to have for baking cookies on the spur of the moment without having to go to the grocery store. Peanut butter is used in making dropped and bar cookies. One favorite peanut butter cookie involves placing the dough in a miniature muffin tin and adding a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup near the end of baking time.

The easiest cookies of all to prepare are only three ingredients. Easy peanut butter cookies combine peanut butter, sugar and an egg. Children love to make these, and with no flour it keeps clean up to a minimum.

Years ago I judged a cookie contest at the fair. While all of the cookies were delicious, one stood out, butterscotch apple cookies by Katlin Mulvaney. She found the recipe in her great grandmother’s cookbook. She added grated apple and other enhancements for a first place win. Since this recipe ran years ago, it is included now for those who missed it the first time around.

Whether you are baking drop cookies or bars, have a batch ready when the children come home from school this week. Over the weekend, let the children help bake a batch for the everyone in the family to enjoy.

Cipperly can be reached at recipes@cipperly.com.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dr. Sara SmithT

2 sticks softened margarine

¾ cup brown sugar, packed

¾ cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream margarine and sugars. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; mix in well. Stir in chocolate chips (with a spoon). Drop with a tablespoon onto greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 350.

Pecan Bars with Brown Sugar Filling

Cindy Avery

1 cup unsalted butter softened

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

3 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

1/2 cup unsalted butter cubed

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp. sugar

1/3 cup honey

2 Tbsp. heavy cream

1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups chopped pecans

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or maple flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix 1 cup softened butter with 3/4 cup brown sugar. Gradually add in flour and salt until dough forms. Place in 13 x 9 casserole dish that has been lined with parchment paper, leaving enough paper on the ends to lift out when squares are done. Pat dough in bottom of dish and up the sides just a little. Bake for 16-20 minutes. Remove from oven.

In a medium saucepan, melt cubed butter, and sugars. When mixed, add honey, salt and heavy cream. Stir continuously on low to medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and add pecans and flavoring.

Pour mixture on top of baked crust and spread evenly. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely, then cut into bars – enjoy!!

White /Chocolate Covered Pumpkin Truffles

Cindy Avery

While these are not cookies, Cindy brought me a sample of these with her Brown Sugar Pecan Bars, and they were so tasty that I had to include the recipe. Note that this recipe calls for canned pumpkin pie filling not plain pumpkin.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

½ cup canned pumpkin pie filling

White chocolate melting wafers

Mix cracker crumbs with pie filling un till a soft dough forms. Spray hands with vegetable oil spray and scoop 1 Tbsp. dough and roll into a ball. Place on small baking pan and freeze for one hour.

Melt chocolate wafers according to directions. Dip pumpkin balls in white chocolate with two forks, shaking off excess.

Store in airtight container refrigerator until ready to serve.

Italian Cream Cookies

Betty Williams

Bettye enjoys making these with her grandchildren.

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened

15 oz. container ricotta cheese

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large eggs

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

Icing:

1½ cups confectioners’ sugar

3 Tbsp. milk

Cream sugar and butter. Add ricotta, vanilla and eggs; beat well. Add dry ingredients.

Drop dough by Tbsp. onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cookies will be soft.

Make icing by combining confectioners’ sugar and milk. Drizzle on cookies.

Cream Cheese Filled Pumpkin Bars

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter melted

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 15 oz. can pumpkin

1/4 cup water

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

Cream Cheese Filling:

8 oz. cream cheese softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, pumpkin,  vanilla and water until well blended.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add dry ingredients to pumpkin/butter mixture, combining until well blended.

Spread about 2/3 of the batter evenly into prepared pan.

In a small bowl, mix cream cheese filling ingredients until smooth.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over pumpkin batter. Dollop remaining pumpkin batter over the cream cheese batter and spread out as evenly as possible. Use a table knife to swirl together the cream cheese and top layer of pumpkin batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until venter of the pumpkin batter springs back when touched. Cool completely in pan, then cut into bars.

Butterscotch Apple Cookies

Katlin Mulvaney

These cookies were the first place winner at the Lee County Fair years ago.

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ cup butter, softened

1 egg

¾ cup grated apple (1 small apple)

½ cup raisins

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. salt

1 1/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar

½ cup apple juice

12 oz. pkg. butterscotch flavored morsels, divided

½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Icing

¼ cup butter

½ cup butterscotch flavored morsels reserved from 12 oz. pkg.

1 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

2 ½ Tbsp. light cream

¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl, combine flour, baking soda, ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In bowl, combine butter, brown sugar and egg; beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture alternately with apple juice. Stir in grated apple, raisins, and 1 ½ cups butterscotch flavored morsels.

Drop by rounded Tbsp. three inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12minutes. Cool; spread with icing.

To make icing, combine butter and remaining ½ cup butterscotch morsels in saucepan; stir until melted. Add sifted confectioners’ sugar, cream and salt; beat until smooth. Cool slightly. Makes 42 cookies.

Caramel Brownies

2 sticks butter

1 box light brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups self-rising flour

1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Beat the butter until fluffy. Add brown sugar and vanilla; cream together. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Mix nuts with flour until coated. Add flour and nuts to batter; blend well. Pour into a greased 11 by 7 inch pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Cool in pan. Cut into squares and serve. Freezes well.

Easy Heath Bits O Brickle Cookies

Margaret Walker

1 yellow cake mix

2/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

8 oz. pkg. Heath Bits O Brickle bits

Mix all ingredients. Shape into small balls. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees 12-15 minutes.

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

These are the easiest cookies for children to make.

1 cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy

1 cup brown or white sugar

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, mix peanut butter and sugar. Add egg and blend well. Drop by tsp. onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Ruth’s Pecan Toffee Chip Cookies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 large egg

½ tsp. vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 ½ cups toffee chips

1 cup chopped pecans, optional

Preheat the oven to 350°. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and sugars; beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, mix flours, baking soda and salt until combined. Stir in toffee chips and nuts.

Drop cookies onto greased cookie sheets. Bake until golden about 10 to 12 minutes.

Glazed Peanut Butter Bars

½ cup shortening

¼ cup butter or margarine

1/3 cup peanut butter

1 cup light brown sugar

1 egg yolk

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

1 ¾ cups flour

Glaze:

2 Tbsp. peanut butter

2 Tbsp. milk

1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine shortening, butter or margarine, 1/3 cup peanut butter, brown sugar, egg yolk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat until light and fluffy; add flour and blend. Press dough into an ungreased 9x9x2-inch pan. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine 2 Tbsp. peanut butter, milk and powdered sugar to make icing. Pour over warm cookies. Cut into squares.

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

1/3 cup butter or margarine

1/3 cup cocoa

2 cups sugar

1 small can evaporated milk

2 cups quick cooking oatmeal

½ cup peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla

In a medium sized saucepan, melt butter; add cocoa, sugar and milk. Bring to a boil over medium to medium high heat. Boil for 3 minutes or until a soft ball is formed when dropped into a cup of cold water. Remove from heat. Add oatmeal, stirring well. Stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Drop by tsp. onto greased waxed or foil sheets. Cool. For a fancier cookie, drop by tsp. into greased mini muffin cups and top each with a pecan half.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Cheryl Hulsey

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup white sugar
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. milk
40 miniature chocolate covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped
Sift flour, salt and baking soda into large bowl; set aside. Cream butter, sugar, peanut butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla and milk. Add the flour mixture a little at a time; mix well. Shape into 40 balls and place each into an ungreased mini muffin pan. Bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately press a peanut butter cup into each ball. Cool and carefully remove from pan. Makes 40.

Pumpkin Bars with Brown Sugar Frosting

Donna Woodham

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup canned pumpkin

For the frosting:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8 by 8-inch baking pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving an overhang.

In a large bowl combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.

In another medium bowl whisk together the butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla and pumpkin. Add flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

With a mixer for making frosting, beating butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add the cinnamon and salt. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk; beat until smooth, adding more milk if needed. Spread evenly all over the pumpkin bars.

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