Malaysian Pineapple Tarts for Chinese New Year

Malaysian Pineapple Tarts by A Little Yumminess

Pineapple tarts are little pockets of crumbly, buttery, pineapple-jammy goodness…… the quintessential Lunar New Year’s sweet treat in Malaysia and Taiwan. Making these cookies is a tasty little way to bring a little lunar new year celebration into your kitchen and makes for a fun collaborative cooking project to do with kids or friends. It’s true that they’re a bit time consuming to put together since you have to make pineapple jam in addition to the cookie dough, but all in all none of the steps are particularly difficult.  Just make the jam and dough ahead of time and then gather your helpers for a cookie assembly party.  Luca, who is 6 was able to assemble the cookies with only very little help from me — thanks to our trusty tortilla press. My little guy loved brushing the cookies with eggwash before they went into the oven.

Having delved into the world of pineapple tarts over the past weeks, I have learned that there are a variety of styles (Malaysian, Taiwanese, different shapes and decorations, filled, open face)….. which means with the basic dough and jam, you can experiment with making the shape and size that appeal to you. The kids and I started off making ovals (more of the traditional pineapple shape), but somehow decided we liked the look of round balls with pineapple-ish slashes on top, glazed with an eggwash enhanced with sweetened condensed milk to make the cookies super golden and shiny.

After making a small test batch of these, I brought some over to Simran and her family for a taste. I didn’t get nervous until I thought about the fact that Simran and her parents lived in Singapore for many years, are total foodies and  would most definitely be familiar with this signature holiday treat…and I should probably also mention that they’re not afraid to call out sub-standard food when it crosses their path! So it was a bit like going in the lions den with this one. Luckily, they gave their thumbs up which means that you can feel free to make this recipe with a bit of street cred and that you really should bake some the next time you need to cheer up a homesick friend from Malaysia.

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Breakfast Cookies

breakfast cookie by A Little Yumminess

I got interested in the idea of breakfast cookies one day when I came across a recipe while wasting time on my iPad. Cookies for breakfast? Yes please and a double yes please from my kids. I suppose it’s part of the psychology of eating that you can call anything cookie-shaped a cookie and you’ve automatically got most people’s interest. (Perhaps that phenomenon explains the growing number of circle shaped things with a hole in the middle masquerading as donuts.). I would classify the various breakfast cookies we’ve been experimenting with as not too sweet, “almost” cookies. They work from a healthy food perspective but somehow do not possess the soul of a cookie, landing somewhere between a true cookie; a soft, a crumbly granola bar; and a flat, squat muffin… but still close enough to be worth making.

While we wait to discover a true breakfast cookie, we’ll happily keep using these recipes because they turn out tasty “almost” cookies which the kids happily gobble up and they’re full of fruit, nuts and whole grains to start your day off right.

* Ellie Krieger’s breakfast cookies (pictured above) use bran flakes which we sometimes buy and carrot puree (more veggies is always good)

* King Arthur Flour’s recipe brings in a little peanut butter and some chocolate chips

* Bon Appétit’s “Almond, Cranberry and Quinoa Cookies” recipe makes use of leftover, cooked quinoa

You might also like these breakfast-y posts: Cozy Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls; Breakfast for Dessert Sundaes; Ria’s Breakfast Invention; Simran’s Mango Coconut Pancakes

Our Very Favorite Biscotti

Classic Italian Biscotti by A Little Yumminess

Classic Anise Biscotti by A Little Yumminess

I have a little handwritten cookbook where I jot down recipes and details of tasty meals and if you were to flip through this little book you’d find that a contender for the most dog-eared page is the one that contains this biscotti recipe. I got the recipe from Tim’s grandmother who got it from her friend Ann, which means it has the “Italian nonna seal of approval” squared. I’ve made this recipe dozens and dozens of times and it has never failed to deliver perfect, dunkable biscotti which are wonderfully crisp but not so hard that you worry about breaking any teeth. They are great for little teethers, for grown up kids and especially for avid, obsessed coffee drinkers like myself. I love the classic anise flavor and never feel too compelled to experiment much beyond that, but it’s one of those recipes that can be a great canvas for improvisation which makes it a nice baking project for kids. Lend a hand with putting the basic dough together and then stand back and let the kids come up with their own creative (and hopefully delicious) dried fruit, nut and spice combinations…. I’m just guessing here, but I have a hunch Miss Ria’s biscotti concept would include a generous scattering of chocolate chips! Continue reading

Layered Neapolitan Butter Cookies

A Little Yumminess_Neopolitan Cookie Press

Sometimes the best counterbalance to all the overload of commerce this time of year, is to sit down and just make something… and even better yet to make something to give. And what better thanks can you think of for all those people who make a difference in our lives, than freshly baked homemade cookies?

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

We just completed our first ever A Little Yumminess Around the World summer camp with our friends at 18 Reasons where we cooked, ate and crafted our way across India, Japan, the Middle East, Scandinavia and Mexico with a great bunch of 6-8 year olds. One thing that I was reminded of is that you can never go wrong with cookies…. or chocolate. While the kids had a blast cooking everything from Indian paratha, Japanese onigiri, Swedish knäckebröd, and Middle Eastern meze we got an extra big thumbs up for these Mexican hot chocolate cookies. While they come from a not-so authentic source, Martha Stewart, they do combine chocolate and chile — two important and quintessentially Mexican ingredients.

You might experience some skepticism from little ones about the inclusion of chile powder in the cinnamon-sugar topping for these cookies, but the effect is subtle — rich and smokey rather than spicy. The combination is really fabulous and I think chile will be making an appearance on our cinnamon-sugar toast from now on. If you have a reluctant spice-eater, this is actually a great way to get them cooking with chile powder because I guarantee that they wont be able to resist the final product.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

(adapted form Martha Stewart, makes about 2 dozen)

What you need

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1  egg

for the cinnamon-chile sugar

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder (or more to taste)

How to make them

  1. Sift the dry ingredients together (flour, cream of tartar, salt, cocoa powder, baking soda).
  2. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy (about 2 minutes), then add sugar and egg and beat another 2 minutes. [Forgot to let your butter come to room temperature? try this handy trick.]
  3. On low speed mix the cocoa-flour mixture into the butter. Add it in small increments, about 1/4 cup at a time, so the flour doesn’t fly out of the bowl as you mix.
  4. Once the dough is well combined, remove it from the bowl, wrap it in plastic and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, up to several days (you can also form the dough into a log and freeze it for slice and bake-type cookies).
  5. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix the ingredients for the chile-cinnamon sugar. Taste the cinnamon-chile sugar and see if you are happy with the balance of flavors.
  6. Roll the chilled dough into 1 1/2″ balls, then roll in chile-cinnamon sugar.
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Start with 10 minutes, then check for done-ness every 2 minutes. The middle will be set and top will be cracked. The cookies will be crisp on the edges and soft/chewy in the center.

Notes for baking with kids

  • These are good tasks for small bakers: measuring and sifting the dry ingredients, cracking an egg into a separate small bowl before adding to dough, taking turns with the mixer.
  • We shaped the dough into a flattened rectangle about an inch and a half thick before wrapping it in plastic and chilling. This made it easy to portion the chilled dough into equal sized squares so the kids could focus on shaping the squares into balls and rolling them in cinnamon-chile-sugar. You could also form the dough into a log for easy portioning.

You might also like: Leslie’s Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies, Devil’s Food Drop Cookies, Laure’s Chocolate and Sea Salt Sables

Leslie’s Favorite Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal and Cranberry Cookies

And now a guest recipe from my friend Leslie. I made these cookies for snack day at preschool today and couldn’t resist snitching one before packing them up. These cookies have a very respectable amount of whole grain goodness and just the right sweetness – but most importantly, they’re just plain delicious. Thanks Leslie!

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I love cooking for boys!  They like to eat and devour good hearty food and then love you for it.  Our family motto is balance and that means as the Kale, Broccoli and Brown Rice go down so does dessert.  Who can resist?!   If there is one cookie I bake that will literally pull my boys off the Wii without a request or warning it is this recipe for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.  I use dark chocolate as my boys love it most likely because I started them in utero.  I have never been a fan of raisins interfering with an oatmeal cookie however, I have tried dried cranberries and they pair quite nicely with the chocolate.  As always I use organic ingredients.  I now double this recipe especially if friends are on the way over!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

  • ½ Cup Unsalted Butter (Take out of the fridge and let warm up to room temp)
  • 2/3 Cup Dark Brown Sugar (I love the dark brown sugar from the brand Wholesome Sweeteners)
  • 1  Egg
  • 1 Teaspoon High Quality Vanilla
  • 1 cup Whole Wheat White Flour (you can find this from the King Arthur brand) — or substitute ½  Cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour  and ½ Cup Whole-Wheat Flour
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¼ Teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Thick Rolled Oats
  • Chocolate Chips, Bits (My latest favorite has been Scharffen Berger Chocolate Bits)
  • Dried Cranberries (optional)

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the Egg, Vanilla and beat well.  Stir together flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Fold dry ingredients into butter mixture until dough comes together.  Stir in Oats and Chocolate.

Drop dough in tablespoons or desired size onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 8 – 10 minutes.  Let cookies set on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer with a spatula to a cooling rack. Serve with glass of milk!

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A few cookie notes:

** If you forgot to soften your butter like I did this morning, check out this handy little trick for softening (not melting) butter in a jiffy.

** When I can, I like to chill most unbaked cookies after placing them on the baking sheet. This keeps the butter from melting out too quickly and guards against excessive flattening and drying out. You can chill them an hour or two or up to a couple of days. You can also freeze cookies in a single layer. Once frozen you can move them to a freezer bag, then bake a few cookies right from the freezer when you need a sweet treat. Just a few minutes to the bake time.

You might also like some of our other snack time favorites: Orange Creamsicle Smoothie, Banana-Avocado Bread, Jamie Oliver’s Mini Egg Cupcakes, Farmhouse Cheddar Muffins

‘Tis the Season for Momofuku Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies (or something to do with all that Halloween candy)

I’m sure you can relate…… the endless buffet of Halloween candy that you just want out of the house. You could work out a candy for books or games trade or thin the herd in the cover of night, but you could also have some fun and make these cookies.

With the cornucopia of mini candy bars and random candy you see but once a year, this is THE season to make Momofuku Milk Bar’s famed compost cookies. It’s a neutral cookie dough to which you can add whatever bits of sweet and salty goodness you have laying around. Pretzel pieces, candy bars, jelly beans, potato chips — heck even other cookies! Sky’s the limit. If you like sweet and salty AND thinking up silly combinations, then you will love making these. Have a few for dessert, bring some to friends, and pop some extra dough into your freezer so you’re prepared when a cookie emergency arises.

I am intrigued by Chef Christina Tosi’s method of creaming the butter, eggs and sugar for 10 minutes (!) to let the sugar fully dissolve and incorporate air into the mixture. I’ve never come across this before, but it does make for a very creamy batter. Something to do some further research on. Where’s Harold Magee when I need him?

Without further ado…. Here’s the recipe from Chef Tosi’s appearance on Live! with Regis & Kelly and some great pictures and commentary on the Compost Cookie from one of my favorite food blogs Momofuku for 2. I’m noticing my cookies look (and probably taste) a lot less delectable than the Momofuku for 2 version, but hey that’s just how baking goes. It’s such a finicky art. But all the more reason to make these again and see what happens. It’s all part of the adventure.

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Just for fun:

  • The menu for Momofuku Milk Bar’s East Village location. Check out the Compost Cookies of course…. how about a kimchi and blue cheese croissant? Cereal-milk-flavored soft serve, volcano potato gratin, apple pie cake, anyone?
  • If you’re a fan of the “cookie in  cookie” concept like Luca and I are, I can heartily recommend the Cookies and Cream cookie at Anthony’s Cookies at 1417 Valencia here in San Francisco. [See Simran’s previous “Dogs, Pies, and Cookies” post to read more about her Mission District food adventure including her stop at Anthony’s Cookies.]