Rhubarb Lemon Drop Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

True confession time: Despite decades (and I do mean DECADES…Eeek!) of culinary adventurousness and a love for all things tart, I have never eaten rhubarb. Now, given that people wax rhapsodic about its tangy joys and the fact that it’s abundant this time of year, you might wonder why I've avoided it like the plague. And the answer is…POISON! Yes, folks, somewhere along the line I found out that rhubarb LEAVES (and I’m stressing LEAVES here) were poisonous and I decided to damn the stalks as well. Never mind that people were delighting in rhubarb the world over and none of them were ending up dead as a result. Nope, I was convinced that I would be the one to succumb to improperly prepared rhubarb, perhaps from ingesting an errant leaf morsel that went unseen. In my mind, rhubarb was the vegetable equivalent of fugu. Let the Type A’s take the risk. Not I. Obviously, I have issues. As in, dramatic much?

I finally decided to pull up my Big Girl Underoos and throw caution to the wind in honor of this month’s #CreativeCookieExchange theme: Seasonal Spring Baking. There I was, standing in the grocery store trying to decide what springy ingredient to use, when the rhubarb started taunting me. Daring me. Mocking me. So I took the plunge. I bought the rhubarb. I baked with the rhubarb. I ate the rhubarb. And I’m happy to report…I’m not dead. Which is a really good thing because that means I can continue baking and eating these cookies for many years to come. To steal a line from Agent Cooper, that’s a damn fine cookie.

I kind of winged it (wung it?) with these. I started with my basic drop cookie recipe—the “throw stuff in it” recipe I’ve been baking for more years than I can remember (unfortunately, because, until I added it to my recipe app, it was just a scribble on a piece of paper, I have no idea where it originated) and I threw stuff in. Diced rhubarb macerated in a bit of lemon juice and sugar. Lemon zest. More lemon zest. Lemon oil. The result was the kind of soft, tart, melt-in-your-mouth cookie that I love. They’re fast, they’re easy and best of all, they’re plentiful—I got almost 5 dozen cookies from one batch of dough. I consider this bounty my reward for facing my rhubarby demons and coming out the other side still alive. I feel tingly with excitement, I feel empowered, I may even try growing this stuff! Feel the power!

Rhubarb Lemon Drop Cookies are my contribution to this month's #CreativeCookieExchange theme: Seasonal Spring Baking. Don't forget to check the links below to see what the rest of this group of talented bakers came up with. And no one died!

Rhubarb Lemon Drop Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of rhubarb, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2½ cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon oil (or 1 teaspoon lemon extract)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest  (or more to taste)

Directions

  1. Place the diced rhubarb, lemon juice, sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and creamy with a hand mixer or the flat beater of a stand mixer. Beat in egg, vanilla and lemon oil or  extract until throughly combined. Add the flour mixture slowly until combined but don't overmix. Stir in lemon zest and rhubarb mixture (draining the mixture a bit if it's too wet).
  5. Drop tablespoon-sized rounds of dough about 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. (A small cookie scoop works great here.) Don't flatten the dough rounds.
  6. Bake 10–12 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden around the edges, switching and rotating the baking sheets if necessary for even baking. Cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes to set, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

#CreativeCookieExchange Bakes for Spring

Spring is here! And with it loads of great flavors for baking!

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Kahvalti – Turkish-Style Breakfast Buns #Breadbakers

Kahvalti, which roughly translates to “before coffee”—is there life before coffee?—is the Turkish word for breakfast, and oh boy, is it ever a Feast, with a capital F. A far cry from the typical American grab-and-go affair. Think pots of tea (the coffee comes later). Olives, cheeses, fresh fruits, jams, honey, eggs, tomatoes and cucumber, yogurt and…bread. Breads like simit (think Turkish bagel) or pide ekmeği (flatbread). Or these buns—Kahvalti—or more accurately Kahvalti Çörekleri. (Google translates Çörekleri as “donut.” I’m thinking Google needs to work on that translation thing.) Soft little round potato rolls, full of tangy bits of feta and topped with nigella (or black sesame) seeds. Since I discovered them, thanks to Jane Mason's fabulous book, The Book of Buns, I've made them several times and they never disappoint. 

I have this theory about things like buns and rolls. They’re teeny breads. Teeny breads with fewer calories. That don’t add up (sometimes it pays to be a dolt at math). Therefore, unlike when you snarf down an entire loaf of bread at once, you can eat a lot of them and not end up with hips that require you to purchase an extra seat on the plane. That’s the way it works, right? RIGHT? Teeny breads, teeny calories? No? Oh well. Teeny calories or not, these kahvalti buns are worth every one. 

Rolls (and buns) were this month's #BreadBakers theme for May, chosen by Deepti at Baking Yummies. Be sure to check out the links below to see what the other #BreadBakers came up with. So many teeny breads to tempt and tantalize your tastebuds…

Kahvalti

Ingredients

  • 350g bread flour
  • 2g instant yeast
  • 240g milk, heated to just below boiling, then cooled to room temperature
  • 5g salt
  • 1 medium potato, peeled, cooked and mashed
  • 100g crumbled feta cheese

Glaze

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp water
  • nigella (black onion) seeds or poppy seeds for sprinkling

Directions

Add flour to a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add yeast to the well, pour in the milk, then cover the well lightly with with flour, cover the bowl and let rest for about 1 hour.

After the resting period, add the salt and mashed potato to the bowl and combine into a ball, then transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. (It's kind of gloppy but hang in there.) Gather the dough into a ball again, place it back in the bowl, cover and let rest for another 20 minutes.

Transfer the dough back to the work surface, flatten it out,  add the cheese and knead it gently until it incorporates, taking care to leave some large bits of cheese. Form the dough into a ball, place in the bowl, cover and let rest for about 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Lightly flour the pieces, cover and let rest for about 15 minutes. While the dough is resting, line a baking sheet with parchment.

After the dough has rested, form each piece into a tight ball, flouring your hands lightly as needed. Place the balls on the baking sheet, cover and let rest for about 1 hour. While the buns are resting, preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C.

To make the glaze, whisk together the water and egg white. Brush the risen buns with the glaze and sprinkle with the nigella seeds.

Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through for even baking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

#BreadBakers for May:  Rolls

This month, #BreadBakers takes on rolls—yeast or quick, sweet or savory, drizzled or plain, filled or not. Thanks to our host Deepti of Baking Yummies for the theme. Because rolls are the bomb.

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

BreadBakers

Pineapple Coconut Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

I’ve never been one to dream about a vacation in the tropics. The closest I’ve ever come to a tropical locale was when I was a kid in the 60s and visited my grandparents in Florida. In Miami. Which at the time was pretty much just like being in New York, only with hot weather and a lot more old people (and for some reason, lots of Canadians). No, my preferred vacation spots—and I haven't been on a proper vacation since 1981, poor baby— have been places like Alaska (way back in the 70s) and the Shetland Islands. My dream vacation if I ever get there? Iceland (snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure? Swoon). Machu Picchu and Patagonia with a side jaunt to Antarctica. I’m not sure why I have such an aversion to the tropics. Well, other than the fact that I'm not too crazy about hanging out on the beach and I hate the heat (and that whole “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” thing? So not true. It’s definitely the heat.) 

But as I sat here this past weekend, with temps in the single digits and a sub-zero windchill, the tropics weren't lookin’ too shabby. Bali Ha'i was calling. But what's a girl to do when faced with a job and a budget and multiple pets to board? Hopping on a jet was clearly out of the question so instead I baked cookies. Cookies with a tropical theme. I'll grant you, it's not quite the same, but when I curled up on the couch with the dog, dressed in my fuzzy jammies and fleecy socks (me, not the dog), and closed my eyes while snarfing down these cookies…well, gosh darn it, it was almost like being in the Bahamas.  

Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating about the Bahamas thing—ya think?—but I'm definitely NOT stretching the truth when I say that these cookies are good. Ridiculously good. Insanely good. I'll admit that when I saw that tropical cookies were February theme for the Creative Cookie Exchange I wasn't exactly thrilled. Tropical flavors aren't really my favorites, especially since so many tropical cookie recipes include those damned macadamia nuts (sorry, nut lovers) or coconut which I'm just "meh" about. But I came upon these while searching for recipes that matched the theme and since I love pineapple I decided to give them a try (despite the coconut) and I'm not sorry. They're soft, silky and cake-like, with a melt-in-your-mouth feel. They're sweet but not too sweet—the sweetness of the glaze is balanced out by the tangy pineapple and hint of lime. And the coconut adds a toasty, nutty but subtle flavor. These were a HUGE hit with the Official Shaggy Dough Taste-Testing Team. I brought in almost 4 dozen of the first batch to work and those babies were GONE by lunchtime. Demolished by 4 very picky people. Even our UPS guy loved them.

So if you're in need of a tropical fix and a there are no island getaways in your near future (and if there are, just keep it to yourself, okay?), bake up a batch of these little gems and create your own paradise. It's just like being there. Sort of.

Be sure to check out the links below to see what the other bloggers came up with for this month's #CreativeCookieExchange tropical theme.

Pineapple Coconut Cookies

Ingredients

  • 57g / 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 163g / 5-3/4 oz diced dried pineapple *see Notes
  • 170g / 6 oz soft butter
  • 71g / 2-1/2 oz brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 57g / 2 oz coconut milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime oil or pineapple flavor (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 241g / 8-1/2 oz unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 71g / 2-1/2 oz toasted shredded coconut

Glaze

  • 28g / 1 oz coconut milk powder
  • 113g /4 oz confectioners' sugar
  • 28g / 1 oz pineapple juice
  • a few drops of lime oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Add the diced pineapple and pineapple juice to a small, microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for about 1 minutes. Stir and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter, brown sugar, coconut milk powder, lime oil (or pineapple flavor), baking powder and salt. Beat together until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  4. Add the egg and beat until smooth.
  5. Add in the flour, microwaved pineapple and any juice and toasted coconut and mix until thoroughly combined.
  6. Drop the dough (approximately tablespoon size—a small cookie scoop is great for this) onto the baking sheets.
  7. Bake for about 12–14 minutes, turning the pans and switching racks to ensure even baking, until the cookies are lightly browned on the bottom.
  8. Cool the cookies in the pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. To make the glaze, sift together the confectioners' sugar and coconut milk powder, then whisk in the juice and lime oil (if using) until smooth. The glaze should be thick but pourable. Add a little extra juice if needed.
  10. Drizzle or pipe the glaze over the cookies, then top with a little toasted coconut and set aside to let the glaze harden.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Notes

I'm a big fan of dried fruit and while I normally buy only naturally dried or juice infused (usually from nuts.com—they're awesome and if their packaging doesn't make you smile there's something wrong with you), in this case, I thought the sweetened pineapple (the stuff you can find easily in the grocery store) worked best. First, it cut into small dice much more easily than the naturally dried, unsweetened stuff and small dice made for a neater cookie. Second, the natural pineapple didn't really soften up much in the pineapple juice so there were chewy bits in the baked cookies, whereas the sweetened pineapple had an almost jammy consistency—little bursts of soft tangy goodness. And third, this isn't a particularly sweet cookie so the sweetened pineapple gave the cookies a bit of a boost. It wasn't that the cookies with the naturally dried pineapple definitely were bad, just that the ones with the sweetened pineapple were better.

I could only find artificial pineapple flavoring—not my preference. I used it in my first batch of cookies and thought it was okay. For my second batch I decided to try some lime oil and while the cookies weren't obviously lime-y, the oil did add some extra zing that the pineapple flavoring didn't. I added some to the glaze as well.

I used the microwave to toast the coconut. Spread it evenly on a microwave-safe plate, then nuke on high in 30-second increments, stirring after each. Once you see the color start to turn, microwave for 15 seconds at a time, until the shreds are a nice toasty shade of brown. The first time I used this method, my coconut shreds had been opened and stored for a while and this process took very little time—in fact, I burned the first batch because it toasted up so quickly. The next time, I used a fresh package of coconut and the process took longer, about 2 and a half minutes at 30-second bursts and another minute for the 15-second bursts. So you do need to keep an eye on things, but I still found this easier and faster than toasting in the oven.

A word about links: As always, any links here are just that, plain old links. No affiliates, no nothing. I only link to things that are necessary for a recipe or to things that I use and love.

#CreativeCookieExchange...Take Me Away!

It’s that time of year again, the time when many of us want to daydream about being somewhere else. A tropical treat is just the ticket! The Creative Cookie Exchange is going all tropical this February, and that could mean anything from fruit to spices to cut-out cookies. We’ve got you covered!

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

PIneapple_Coconut_Drop_Cookies-3.jpg