Cooking with Alison

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Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes

In Cupcakes on March 27, 2010 at pm

I first discovered the concept of cheesecake cupcakes when I made and fell head over heels in love with Peaches and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes (recipe here).  I love Hershey’s cookies and cream chocolate bars so when I saw these in Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book, I knew I had to try them.  I really like the crunchy cookie base.  It’s the perfect contrast in texture to the smooth and creamy cheesecake on top.

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Best Chewy and Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

In Cookies on March 11, 2010 at pm

I used to get anxious about baking cookies because it was a guaranteed Fail for years.  But I finally got the hang of it by pushing my way through more than a dozen different peanut butter cookie recipes over a short period of time.  Here’s a link to my tips for baking cookies.  After I recovered from baking peanut butter cookies, I took on a mission to find my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I love cookies that are chewy in the middle with crunchy edges.  I tried 13 different recipes before I declared 2 of them the best.

Both of the recipes that I’ve posted below will give you beautifully chewy and crunchy chocolate chip cookies.  If you like your cookies crunchy, the second recipe makes excellent crunchy cookies if you make them smaller or add an extra minute or two to the baking time.  The first recipe is the one I use when I want to make a large batch quickly and easily.  The second recipe is unique in that it uses browned butter.  I prefer the flavour of the first recipe but I prefer the texture of the second recipe.  Also note that cookies from the second recipe taste better on the second day compared to cookies made from the first recipe.  Both make excellent cookies but the second recipe requires a bit more time and work.  Also, the second recipe doesn’t make as many cookies as the first one.

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Chinese Almond Cookies

In Asian Desserts on January 27, 2010 at pm
Chinese Almond Cookies are one of my favourite chinese cookies.  I liked these even more long after they were baked because then they were crunchy (and probably stale) like the store bought ones that I’m used to  🙂

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Tips for Baking Cookies

In Cookies on January 21, 2010 at pm

For the longest time, I was horribly defeated every time I tried to bake cookies.  But through batch after batch (to the power of an insanely large number) of trial and error, I figured out the following basics for baking cookies.  It took me a Very long time, Much work and even more butter, but I can finally say that I think I’ve got it.  🙂  Hopefully you’ll find these tips helpful.  Keep in mind they’re more geared towards baking cookies that are chewy on the inside and crunchy on the outside because that’s how I like my cookies.

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Peanut Butter Hershey’s Kiss Cookies

In Cookies on January 21, 2010 at pm

Most people call these Peanut Butter Blossoms and they are Very Very good.  These are my favourite peanut butter cookies and I’ve tried 13 different peanut butter cookie recipes.  There are many different kinds of Hershey’s kisses, so use your favourite.  I imagine these would taste great with the caramel kisses (available in the USA) or Rolo’s.  I made these for a baby shower and even though there were several other desserts, not a single one of these cookies made it home with me.  I’ve tried this recipe using shortening, butter, and a mixture of both.  All of these options work well, but I prefer using half shortening for the texture and half butter for the flavour.

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Valentine’s Day Cookies

In Cookie Decorating, Cookies on January 16, 2010 at am

Shortly after I completed my cake decorating course (link here), I applied the techniques that I learned to decorate cookies.  I made royal icing (recipe from Joy of Baking) for the first time and bought a good paint brush to flood sugar cookies.

I’ve never liked the taste of iced sugar cookies, but I would consider these to be good recipes, because the texture and taste are very similar to the store-bought ones.  They were very popular when I brought them into work.  Also, if you like the taste of almond extract, you’ll probably like these.

I use the recipe for sugar cookies from Joy of Baking when I’m decorating with icing.  See here for my favourite plain sugar cookies recipe.

Versatile Ingredients #1 – Semolina Flour

In Breakfast, Cookies, Desserts, Grocery Budget Challenge, How-To, Pasta, Rice, and Doughs, Random on October 8, 2018 at pm

One winter, I bought a bag of semolina flour to make cookies. The cookies were great! But after making just 2 batches of cookies, the remaining semolina flour sat in my cupboard, taking up precious storage space, for longer than I’d like to admit. So one week, I made it my mission to use up all of the semolina flour. Here are some things that can be made with semolina flour. I’d love to hear what you use it for!


The Versatility of Semolina Flour

Here is a list of things that can be made with semolina flour. Please note that I have not personally tried all of these suggestions.

  1. Cookies
    • I made delicious shortbread cookies (recipe here).
  2. Creamy Polenta
    • I usually use cornmeal for my polenta, but polenta can be made using a combination of cornmeal and semolina flour (see recipe here).
  3.  Pasta
    • I used semolina flour to make angel hair pasta. The semolina pasta had a great, substantial texture!
    • Semolina flour can also be used to make gnocchi.
  4. Cake and Muffins
  5. Bread
  6. Pancakes
    • I used the recipe here. The texture of the pancakes was more dense and grainy than pancakes made with all purpose flour, but they were still great!

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How else do you use semolina flour? Please let us know in a comment! Thanks in advance!

Grocery Budget Challenge – The No-Buy List

In Grocery Budget Challenge, Mind Your Cents on June 28, 2016 at am

This article is part of the Grocery Budget Challenge series. See the Introduction here.

A great way to eat better and save money is to avoid buying the items on this no-buy list. I use this list to help resist temptations when I’m in the grocery store, especially when I see great deals on tasty but unhealthy foods. No matter how cheap something is, consider it a complete waste of your money if it’s bad for your health. (Keep your eyes open for my upcoming post, How to Shop in Bulk and Actually Save Money, for the buying rules that I created specifically for bulk shopping.)

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Versatile Ingredients – Introduction and Staples

In Grocery Budget Challenge, How-To, Mind Your Cents, Versatile Ingredients on June 21, 2016 at am

This is the first post in the series, Versatile Ingredients.

I’ve been working on using up old ingredients in my pantry. To do this efficiently, I choose a single ingredient and give myself up to one month to use all of it. In order to make this challenge enjoyable (i.e. not having to eat the same dish every day), I’ve been experimenting with new ways to use familiar ingredients. I’ve learned so much and discovered so many new favourite recipes that I decided to start a new series, Versatile Ingredients. Each post will feature a different ingredient. To start, I’ve shared my versatile grocery staples below. See also, creative uses for avocados here.

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Cream of Tartar Substitution

In Desserts, How-To, Other Desserts on May 1, 2016 at am

I very seldomly use cream of tartar, so one box has lasted me several years. Whenever I clean out my pantry, I’m tempted to throw it away, because storage space in my home is literally that precious. I recently made a batch of cookies that, surprisingly, required cream of tartar. I didn’t have any on hand and didn’t have time to buy more. Luckily, I found a website that provided a simple and effective substitute for cream of tartar. I also finally learned what it does. It turns out that cream of tartar is an acid that reacts with baking soda to create carbon dioxide gas, thus acting as a leavener. Cream of tartar can also stabilize whipped egg whites (by maintaining the air bubbles) and prevent crystals from forming in simple syrup.

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Favourite Sausage, Kale, and Lentils Soup Recipe

In Soups and Salads on March 7, 2016 at am


Gina DePalma is my all-time favourite pastry chef. Sadly, she passed away late last year. Her sugar cookies recipe is the absolute best I’ve ever had (see here). After discovering her sugar cookies recipe, I had the intention of trying more of her recipes. I didn’t follow through with that plan until now. Her sausage, chard and lentils soup recipe is easy to make, comforting, hearty, and our new favourite soup. This soup freezes well, so we always make large batches.

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Naughty Gingerbread People

In Cookie Decorating, Cookies, Desserts on December 2, 2014 at am

WARNING:  The following material contains photos of sexual nature that are intended for mature audiences only.  Reader and viewer discretion is advised.

Two years ago, my friend Allan threw a cookie decorating party where we cut out (freehand using a small, sharp knife), baked, and decorated gingerbread people doing naughty things.  I’m not talking about the typical gum drop boobies, I’m talking about The Cookie Sutra.  It was a lot of fun.  Luckily, I can’t take credit for all of them. 🙂  Decorations aside, the chewy gingerbread cookie dough that Allan made was so delicious that it converted me into a gingerbread fan!  I ate more gingerbread cookies that day than I ever had in my entire life.  That is, until last Christmas when I discovered my new favourite recipe for making crisp and crunchy gingerbread cookies (see here).  (See my gingerbread house here.)

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