Thursday, August 23, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Cookies

While Katy teachers are in their classrooms this week, preparing and organizing their rooms for next week's start of the 2012-13 school year, our church congregation has been busy baking and filling trays of homemade cookies for them.

Dozens of fresh cookies filled the tables in our church lobby today, and tomorrow they will be delivered to scores of schools in the Katy ISD, to show hungry teachers our appreciation of the great work they do.

Although I no longer have kids in school, I do have grandkids in school, and I think it's a lovely idea to provide the teachers with a treat. I decided to bake two different recipes I've been wanting to try - Orange Creamsicle Cookies from Life as a Lofthouse and Pumpkin Snickerdoodles from Fake Ginger.

Both recipes were winners. I made minor adjustments in each recipe, as noted below. One was to melt the butter to mix with the sugars instead of creaming it until fluffy. I also used self-rising flour in the Pumpkin Snickerdoodles, and I have included the details of that in the recipe.

Melting the butter is a method that works for me and seems to prevent my cookies from spreading so much.

As I was taste-testing the cookies this morning I was reminded of my dear Mom. She lived with us the last eight years of her life, and she was my eager and willing taste-tester. She got to sample one of the first batch of anything I made - cookies, muffins, cupcakes, breads - fresh from the oven and presented to her on a tray with a glass of cold milk. That glass is the very one pictured - one of her old Wexford glasses - and it was the glass she preferred for milk or orange juice. She said everything tasted better in it, and it was the perfect amount for her.

She loved those treats and was effusive in her praise to me. I miss those moments and have such happy memories of her saying to me, "that is the best (cookie, muffin, cupcake, etc) I have ever eaten."

Orange Creamsicle Cookies
adapted from the blog of Life as a Lofthouse

2-1/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup salted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons orange zest (I used 1/2 teaspoon orange extract)
1-1/2 cups white chocolate chips (I only used 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium bowl, whisk togther flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In saucepan, melt butter over low heat until bubbling. Remove from heat and add both sugars, whisking until completely mixed. Pour into mixing bowl and beat in egg, vanilla, and orange zest or orange extract until well mixed. Gradually add in flour mixture until combined. Stir in white chocolate chips.

Drop by heaping tablespoonful onto large cookie sheet. Bake 10-11 minutes. Makes about 30 cookies.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
adapted from the blog of Fake Ginger

1 cup salted butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour (see NOTE)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cinnamon sugar:
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

NOTE: I used 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour and 3-1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour, which I love! I eliminated the baking powder and salt in the recipe, since they are already contained in self-rising flour. So easy!

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

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat until bubbling. Remove from heat and whisk in both sugars until completely incorporated. Pour into mixing bowl and beat in egg. Add pumpkin puree and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Fold in flour mixture. Cover dough and chill at least an hour, or until dough becomes slightly firm. I chilled mine overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or baking spray. Mix cinnamon sugar ingredients in small bowl.

Take a heaping tablespoon dough and roll into ball. Roll ball in cinnamon sugar mixture, completely covering it, and place on cookie sheet; flatten slightly.

Bake 10 to 14 minutes, or until slightly firm to touch. Let cool on baking sheets at least 5 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

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