Bake cookies for Easter this year

Easter offers it its share of delicious traditions. I have nothing against chocolate bunnies or colorful candy assortments. I ate my share of decorated chocolate eggs, some hollow, some filled to the brim. But on a personal sweet-love scale designed to rate the pleasures of taste and texture, none of these Easter treats come close to homemade cookies. At least to the preference of this adult’s palate.

So, as I’m considering something to give to my neighbors this Easter, I decided to fill small baskets and containers decorated with ribbons with homemade cookies and pass them out. Many families on my street moved in during the pandemic lockdown and I didn’t get to know them. I see homemade cookies as an opportunity to break the ice.

These three varieties of cookies can be prepared in advance, as indicated in each recipe.

Happy Easter!

Angel Delights straddles cookies and sweets. This recipe reduces the need for sugar by getting the sweetness of diced dates and shredded coconut. (Photo by Cathy Thomas)

Angel’s Delights

Are these Angel Delights cookies or candies? To fit into this story, I’m going to classify them as cookies, unbaked crisp candy-like cookies. Call them a no-bake treat if you like. My friend Judith Norton introduced them to me.

The cookies won a cookie contest sponsored by Eating Well magazine several years ago. Norton reduced the amount of sugar in the original recipe from 1 cup to a generous 1/3 cup. Dates and sweetened shredded coconut provide just the right amount of sweetness even with the slightest amount of sugar. They can be refrigerated for up to two weeks, stored airtight in a single layer, or stacked between parchment paper to prevent sticking.

Yield: 18 to 20

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates; see cook’s notes

1/8 tsp salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups of Rice Krispies

1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Parchment paper or wax paper

Cook’s notes: I find using clean scissors to be the easiest way to cut dates. It is a good idea to place the spheres in paper cups or fluted glassine paper cups.

PROCEDURE

1. In a large deep saucepan, combine butter, sugar and dates. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter is melted, sugar is no longer white, and dates are mostly melted, 8 to 15 minutes. The mixture should be a shiny brown sticky mass. Remove from fire.

2. Stir in salt, vanilla, cereal and coconut. Stir until combined (this requires some determination).

3. When barely cool enough to handle, squeeze and roll mixture into 1 1/4 inch balls (for scooping I use a small ice cream scoop – 1/2 ounce size – letting the mixture will build up a bit on top rather than scraping it even with the top of the shovel). Place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. Refrigerate until chilled. Best served at room temperature.

Source: Adapted by Judith Norton from Frances Van Vynckt, winner of Eating Well magazine’s cookie contest in 2008.

The mocha and ricotta soufflés are crispy on the edges and soft in the center. To make them even more special, you can dip half of each cookie in melted chocolate. (Photo by Cathy Thomas)

Mocha-Ricotta Puff Pastries

These seductive cookies are crispy on the edges and soft like devil’s cake in the center. I like to give them more glamor by dipping half of each cookie in melted chocolate coating; melted enrobing chocolate hardens quickly and looks great. Cookies can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 1 month, or stored at room temperature, airtight, for up to 4 days.

Yield: 26 to 32 cookies

INGREDIENTS

Parchment

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces

1 1/4 cups (250 grams) sugar

3/4 tsp salt

2 teaspoons instant espresso or 1 teaspoon instant coffee

1 large egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup packaged whole milk ricotta (any liquid above poured yogurt before measuring)

Optional for dipping cooled cookies: 10 ounces milk chocolate flavored fondant wafers, melted according to package directions

PROCEDURE

1. Position two racks to divide the oven into three and preheat to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In medium-large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and cinnamon; put aside.

2. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy, about 2 minutes. . Add sugar and salt, beat for another 2 minutes. If the mixture has wrapped around the beater, scrape it up. Stir in espresso or instant coffee. Add the egg, then the vanilla and beat for another minute. With the mixer on medium heat, add the ricotta and beat for about 2 minutes. The dough may look curdled, but it will even out when the flour comes in. Turn off the mixer, add half of the dry ingredients and beat to start incorporating them, then beat on low until combined. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients, stopping to scrape beater and bowl as needed. The batter will be soft, sticky, heavy and reminiscent of fudge frosting.

3. Using a medium cookie scoop (ice cream scoop), scoop out equal portions of dough or use a tablespoon for rounded dollops. Place rounds of dough about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.

4. Bake 26-29 minutes, rotating baking sheets up and down and back and forth after 15 minutes. They will puff up and spread out as they cook, you’ll know they’re fully cooked when they’re firm around the edges and give way slightly when lightly pressed on top. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool completely before gently lifting them off the sheets with a wide spatula. Be careful – they can be soft on the bottom.

5. More glamorous? If you want to dip half of the cooled cookies in the coating chocolate, melt the chocolate wafers according to package directions. Place a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper on the counter. Dip half a cookie into the melted chocolate, holding it perpendicular to the chocolate, then shaking gently to let the excess drip into the melted chocolate. Place cookie on waxed paper or parchment and allow chocolate to harden.

Source: Adapted from “Dorie’s Cookies” by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin, $35)

Potato chip cookies are an enticing combination of sweet and savory, with plenty of crunch. (Photo by Cathy Thomas)

Potato chip cookies

Potato chip cookies look unsophisticated, but believe me, they can be seductive. It’s the combination of sweet-salty flavor and loud crunch that wins you over. I like to use Lay’s Lightly Salted Potato Chips; for my taste, they offer just the right amount of salt and plenty of crispiness. For chocolate lovers, add 1-2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips in step 1, but try them as they say at least once.

Yield: About 18

INGREDIENTS

Parchment

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, such as kosher

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

4 cups coarsely crushed salted potato chips (about 10 ounces), divided use

1 cup pecans, toasted, cooled, coarsely chopped; see cook’s notes

Cook’s notes: To toast the nuts, place them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until lightly browned in a 350 degree oven about 8 minutes. Turn on the oven light and watch them as the nuts can burn easily.

PROCEDURE

1. Set oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt; put aside.

2. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars on high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add vanilla and eggs; beat on medium speed until just combined. Gradually add flour mixture and beat on low until just combined. Stir in 2 cups chips and pecans.

3. Place remaining chips in a shallow bowl or pie pan. Scoop out rounded tablespoons of batter (enough to make 2-inch balls — or use a 1-ounce ice cream scoop to scoop batter), then roll into balls and roll balls in potato chips to coat. Place cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

4. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Place baking sheets on cooling racks and cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Source: “Martha Stewart’s Cookie Perfection” (Clarkson Potter, $35)

Kitchen issue? Contact Cathy Thomas at [email protected]

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