Homebakers Collective August Challenge: Favorite Childhood Treat

Cookies, Fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge

Fig Newtons

The Spencer house didn’t stock store-bought treats. At lunchtime I used to trade my mom’s homemade cookies for oatmeal creme pies. One time I asked for Pop-tarts for Christmas. But every so often Fig Newtons would appear and I thought it was a treat royale.


Fruit:

  • 1 cup (1/3 lb.) dried figs (Black Mission or Turkish will do fine)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

Cake:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Turbinado sugar and water

Put figs in a 1- or 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Pour boiling water over figs, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.

Prepare your work surface with a baking sheet and two pieces of parchment paper that are about 14″ long. Make sure your baking sheet can fit in your freezer. Cut a 1 1/2″-wide tip off the end of a pastry bag or ziplock bag that can fit your fig filling.

Combine butter and brown sugar in a mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat until light and fluffy. Add egg, honey and vanilla and beat to incorporate, scraping bowl and paddle when needed.

Stir together flour, salt and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and stir on low to combine. Increase speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds, until well incorporated.

Scrape dough onto a sheet of parchment paper about 14″ long. Sandwich with the second piece of parchment and roll out gently so your dough is 10″ wide by 14″ long. You can cut and paste the dough to fill in bare spots if needed. Slide the dough onto a baking sheet and put in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Pour the figs with their water, honey and graham cracker crumbs into the food processor. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape the bowl, and making sure there are no chunks. Scrape into prepared pastry bag or ziplock. Chill in the refrigerator until dough is ready (this can be done ahead of time).

After the dough has chilled, remove from freezer. Trim edges. Cut in half lengthwise so you have two 5″ by 14″ pieces. Separate the pieces- placing each on it’s own piece of parchment.

Pipe a 1 1/2″ thick line of fig filling down the center of each strip of dough. Carefully fold over one side of dough over the filling, then fold again- enveloping the filling in the center, with the seam on the bottom. Repeat with second piece of dough.

Use the parchment paper to lift the uncooked fig bars onto the baking sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

After chilling, remove from freezer. Wet a pastry brush with water and moisten the tops of the bars. Sprinkle liberally with Turbinado sugar. Trim the ends of each log and slice each into 2″ bars. Place on lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until light brown on the bottom.

Whoopie Pies – a.k.a – Devil Dogs

A little bit fussy, Cookies

Devil Dogs are a favorite of my mother-in-law who grew up in Massachusetts. This is an adaptation of her mother’s recipe. The original recipe states that it is critical you use Marshmallow Fluff, not Marshmallow Creme. Even if it means driving east until you see it in the grocery store.

Cakes:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk

Marshmallow Cream:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups marshmallow fluff
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Make Cakes: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, cocoa, soda, powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs and mix to combine. Stir in dry ingredients, alternating with milk. Mix well.

For Whoopie Pies: Scoop with a tablespoon or cookie scoop onto prepared cookie sheets, leaving 2″ between cookies. For Devil Dogs: Fit a piping bag with a large round tip and pipe 3″ lines onto prepared cookie sheets, at least 2″ apart. You can also pipe rounds for whoopie pies instead of scooping if you want more uniform cakes.

Bake at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until barely firm in the center.

Make Filling: Cream butter until light. Add powdered sugar and beat until very light and fluffy. Fold in marshmallow fluff and vanilla by hand with a rubber spatula until the color is uniform and there are no streaks.

Match up the cakes. Using either a spoon/cookie scoop, or a pastry bag fitted with a round tip, fill one half of the cookies with about 2 tablespoons of filling per cookie. Sandwich and press gently until the filling reaches the edges.

These are best eaten within a day or two at room temperature. Or refrigerate them and they will keep longer. It’s really hard to not eat 4 of these in one sitting.

Jammy Bars

Cookies, Unfussy

This is an excellent use of any tasty jam you have sitting in your fridge for a little too long. The peach rosemary jam I had from last year was lovely.

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Streusel:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 TBSP butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups jam

Make Crust: Place all ingredients in the food processor. Process in long pulses until the dough is just formed, stopping and scraping the bowl when necessary. Remove dough from bowl and pat into a rough square.

Place dough between layers of wax paper and roll out to approximately 9×13″ and 1/4″ thick. Lightly grease a quarter-sheet pan or 9×13″ pan. Place the dough in the pan – the dough is forgiving and you can press it around to make it as even as possible.

Place dough in freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Make Streusel: In a small bowl, stir together flour, sugars, salt and cinnamon. Cut the butter into tablespoons and work into the flour mixture with your fingers until clumps form. Toss with vanilla and set aside.

Assemble and Bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1 1/4 cups jam evenly over the dough in the prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel.

Bake for 35 minutes, until the streusel becomes light brown. Let cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.

White Whale Monster Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

Anyone that grew up in Iowa City will tell you that the monster cookie at Cookies & More in the Old Capitol Mall is the all-time greatest cookie. I have been testing monster cookie recipes for years trying to crack the code. I finally got it (it’s not an oatmeal cookie with peanut butter, it’s a peanut butter cookie with oatmeal). My sister-in-law, Katherine, tested the recipe and said the only thing it lacks is awkward adolescence and the mall smell.

If using Jif/Skippy peanut butter instead of natural peanut butter, add an extra 1/2 cup quick oats to the recipe.

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups M&Ms

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugars and honey together until very light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, until the mixture is uniform in color.

Beat in eggs, one at a time. Scrape bowl.

Sift flour, soda, powder and salt and add to mixer. Stir until well combined, scrape bowl and mix well. Add oats and chocolate chips and mix well, scraping if necessary. You CAN mix in the M&Ms at this point, but if you want to be able to see them perfectly on top, reserve M&Ms until you have scooped the cookies.

Using about 3 TBSP of dough per mound, scoop the dough into mounds on a cookie sheet or plate that you can fit in your refrigerator to chill. Press 5-6 M&Ms onto the top of each mound. Chill at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer cookie dough balls to a parchment lined baking sheet, spaced about 3″ apart (you can roll them slightly into a more uniform ball at this point if you are into that sort of thing). Press each cookie down to flatten slightly.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are starting to brown. The center will look slightly under-baked. Cool completely on cookie sheets- they will fall apart if you try to remove them too quickly, but will firm up as they cool.

Repeat with remaining dough, or freeze dough balls and bake on demand. The cookies can be baked from frozen, you will just need to lengthen the baking time by 5 minutes or so.

Breakfast Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

I’ve been eating these breakfast cookies for about two weeks now. They are perfectly chewy and chock full of seeds, fruit and nuts. It’s safe to say they are a great “on-the-go” breakfast, but I wouldn’t know. I DO know that they are a great “going-nowhere-soon” breakfast.

  • 3/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 10 dates
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup pepitas
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 cup assorted dried fruit (raisins, craisins, cherries, blueberries, chopped apricots, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast walnuts until lightly browned for about 8-10 minutes. Let cool.

Combine almond butter and dates in a food processor and process until pureed. Add coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla and process until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand in a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in oats, toasted walnuts, pepitas, coconut, chia and sesame seeds, dried fruit.

Add the pureed mixture to the oat mixture and stir until well combined. Let sit 30 minutes.

Using about 1/3 cup of dough for each ball, scoop onto lined or greased baking sheets, leaving about an inch between cookies. Flatten each cookie slightly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until just starting to brown on the edges. Let cool completely.

These keep well for a week. Or you can freeze the scooped cookie dough balls for up to a month.