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Cookies - Biscotti

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A little to the right, a little to the left and I think you got it – the baby elephant walk done a la Elephant Ear cookies. These whip up in seconds and make great coffee and tea ‘go-with’ cookies. Not sweet, not heavy, elegant and special. A little crisp puff of a cookie.

When is a cookie not a cookie? When it's a bickie. These are Scottish-born buttery cookies also called Jammie Dodgers, that feature  a raspberry jam layer, and topped with a pink glaze and maraschino cherry half (where the jam pokes out).  These are a hybrid of shortbread and a butter cookie and are fabulous, minus any further touches but please go the full nine yards. I would make these tiny (1 1/2 inches) or large (4-5 inches). In-between are fine but like an iffy love affair: neither here nor there. I love my version of this old-fashioned classic.

This shortbread-like cookie is the perfect foil for mousse desserts

Come on, you know you want one. Have a macaroon already. Among the items displayed in the photo on the cover of my first cookbook are macaroons. The art department doesn't always communicate with the editorial department. There is no recipe for macaroons in the book. The recipe exists, however and here it is. If you don't like nuts, leave them out - variations are listed below. The margarine is optional, but it helps these brown better.

I often refer to one of my first jobs, as a creative baker/manager at a health food store café, called Terre Etoile which lived briefly in Montreal in the mid 80’s. There was a bookstore, a stunning architecturally gorgeous sky lit café, health food ingredient store and a little nook that was my bakery. Left there, free to invent whatever I wanted, was unleashed creativity in flour that never seems to have left me. Terre Etoile was the most beautiful place you can imagine and it drew everyone from new age types, to those who knew great California styled sandwiches when they found it and city groupies, in a manner of speaking, who realized early on, this was the place to be. Not surprisingly, despite the dramas (Lawsuit Muffins et al), people I didn’t know I knew then, I became friends with later in life –never realizing we walked alongside each other at Terre Etoile. Others who worked there, I am still in touch with. Sometimes we consider having a Terre Etoile reunion. I’ve talked about Lawsuit Muffins but there were romances aplenty at TE, and other escapades that need their own book. But the cookies? Ah, those were also special.

I was asked to create David’s Style, big, chocolate chunk cookies. I did –and they sold like wildfire. I also made wonderful, oversized oatmeal cookies (wherever there is chocolate chip, one must serve oatmeal). To give us a baking head start, we began making and freezing extra batches of dough, and used magic markers to label the parchment paper packets, so we would know which doughs were which. For some reason, one batch of pens transferred their ink onto the dough. We neatly avoided any problems by just shaving off the pen marked doughs and discarding it. But one day, a few customers saw the pen marks on the dough, as it sat out on the bakery counter, prior to baking and before we had a chance to scoop off the offending black writing. “What IS that?” said one customer. Oh, I said, it’s a vegetable dye, totally edible. Nothing to worry about”. One of my bakers heard me say it and ended up on the floor, in snickers and convulsive chuckles. He’d heard my baking stories before. The other time was then the blueberries stained the lawsuit muffins and over zealous mixing turned the batter totally greenish blue. Oh that, I explained, that was organic blueberries and they react different with the buttermilk (actually, all blueberries, if you mix too much and a soda-leavened batter will stain the batter).   These days, I still wrap up packets of oatmeal cookie dough to bake when needed. I still mark the packets with big, black writing so I can see at glance what something in the freezer is. And I still smile, thinking of the infamous ‘vegetable dye markers’ I invented. Oh the stories one tells when on the spot.

This is a wonderfully, classic oatmeal cookie. Not dense or soggy soft. Not too crisp or hard. Just perfect. Golden, caramel taste with a wee kiss of cinnamon and vanilla. Like Lawsuit Muffins, this cookie helped create my baker’s legend. It also has a little story behind it

These are funky, chunky, chewy, buttery and wonderful. It is one of the best cookies you will ever make.Make these huge (but chill the batter) or small and delicate. Nothing but nothing beats the flavor and texture of these cookies. A winner from my early days, baking career. Use storebought granola or the easy Gift Giving Maple Vanilla Granola.

Want better shortbread? You need a finer sugar.

Tiny little butter cookies that taste like a vanilla creamsicle in a cookie. The Fiori Di Sicilia is a specialty extract that perfumes these morsels just so. I get mine from King Arthur Flour  or you can make up your own (substitute given in the recipe). I dust these with fine sugar before or after baking or dip them in melted white chocolate.

Tender little chocolate chip cookies. Easy to make, captivatingly simple. Use unbleached flour in all cookie making, it helps with spread. The high heat, upper rack of the oven is the trick for these. But if you oven is very hot, you will find  375 quite sufficient. How to tell? Test 1-2 cookies before you put in a whole batch.

This is a Canadian heritage cookie, that has appeared in the many editions of the Five Roses Cookbook (Five Roses to us is like Pillsbury, King Arthur, Gold Medal to you all). Behind everyone’s ‘favorite’ best, most successful sugar cookies in Canada, there seems to be this recipe. For a tender cookie, it handles like a dream. You can double the recipe, but do not double the salt, quite. Generations of Canadian families have made this recipe without even knowing where it first came from.

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