Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Only Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need {Day 4}

It's Day 4 of our Simple Handmade Holiday series and today I've got something that I hope will simplify your gift giving or treat making this season. It's an easy recipe that will quickly turn into the only cookie recipe you will EVER need.

I like to keep things simple in the kitchen, especially during the holidays when it becomes part of Santa's gift making workshop. Our family and friends LOVE sweets treats this time of year and this recipe is sure to not disappoint.

It can be tweaked countless ways for a continual supply of creative options. With a simple change of seasonal ingredients, it can be used for winter, spring, summer or fall.

It can be gluten-free for those who have sensitivities. It can be low-sugar for those needing to cut down on the sweet factor by using natural sweeteners like raw honey, coconut sugar or maple syrup. It can even become something completely different...transforming from a cookie into a biscuit by removing the sugar altogether and subbing in cheese - instant Cheese Straw Biscuits (our favorite).

Add herbs and spices to that Cheese Straw Biscuit recipe and now you have herbal tea biscuits that will have everyone coming back for more! One recipe - hundreds of options. Here are just a few combinations we've used over the years...

     ~ Simply switch out the all-purpose flour for almond flour and it's gluten -free.

     ~ Take out the processed sugar and substitute 1/2 or 1/4 the amount of raw honey or
        maple syrup for a naturally sweet cookie that will be kinder to your pancreas.

     ~ Add chocolate chips for a simple Chocolate Chip Cookie.

     ~ Adding in pecans creates Pecan Sandies.

     ~ Almonds make an Almond Teacake Biscuit (I could list other nuts, but you get the idea).

     ~ Oats and raisins create Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.

     ~ Add a little dried lavender, lemon zest and lemon juice for Lemon Lavender Cookies.

     ~ Mix in dark chocolate shreds and a tad of cayenne for an amazing flavor combo.

     ~ Add peppermint chips and dark chocolate morsels for a simple Christmas cookie.

     ~ Cranberries, pistachios and white chocolate chips lend something similar to my
        Christmas bark.

     ~ White chocolate and cashews remind me of the recipe from the Biltmore Estate
        collection that's been handed down for many years.

     ~ Mashed bananas, chocolate chunks and walnuts make Chunky Monkey Cookies.

     ~ Mixing in cocoa powder, mini marshmallows, nuts and chocolate chips creates Rocky
        Road Cookies.

     ~ Replace the sugar with the same amount of cheese and use half the oil and butter, then
        you have Cheese Straw Biscuits.

See what I mean? One recipe, a few tweaks and you already have 14 different options right there. I could go on and on and on, but thought you might like the recipe...

Simple Sugar Cookie Recipe 

  • 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (substitute the same amount of almond flour for a gluten-free option)
  • 2/3 c. oil (we like to use coconut oil or tallow - we render our own tallow from local, grass-fed cows - DO NOT use tallow made from regular grocery store beef)
  • 2/3 c. butter - softened/melted (we prefer to use the butter we make from our raw milk stash)
  • 1 c. sugar (it originally called for 1 1/2 cups, but it was toooooo sweet. The 1/2 cup reduction in sugar creates something similar to a shortbread cookie, which we like better)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  3. Add in melted/softened butter, oil, beaten eggs and vanilla and gradually stir in dry ingredients.
  4. Roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. For a thinner cookie, slightly flatten the top of each cookie.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden. 

In the south we love our cheese straws! The sad things is, I've never been very good at making them. Since most of the cheese straw recipes I found had most of the same ingredients as my cookie recipe, I decided to see how it would taste to completely remove the sugar and substitute cheese in its place.

Turns out, pretty greasy! But as with most of my recipes, one batch is never enough and so I was back at the drawing board ;) The next try was complete with two with almond flour and the other with all-purpose flour plus the tweak of 1/2 the oil from the original recipe. Simple fix and voila! They tasted exactly like cheese straws...only in a biscuit shape ;)

Cheese Straw Biscuit Recipe

  • 3 1/2 c. all-purpose or almond flour (I prefer almond flour for this one)
  • 2/3 c. of your choice of fat softened/melted in the microwave (less is more here if you're using almond flour due to the fat content in the almonds. Tallow is amazing in this recipe! I like to use two fats (1/3 each) for depth of flavor. Using 2 "layers" of fat develops the complexity in a simple way (; We basically use whatever we have on hand...butter, coconut oil or tallow)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of cheese (we love raw goat cheddar, gouda, pepper jack with swiss and really any kind of sharp cheddar. Parmigianino Reggiano is a fave, but use no more than 1 cup due to it's salty nature.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbs turmeric (optional - we add turmeric to everything for a happy liver)
  • 1 tsp sea salt cayenne and paprika to taste.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, salt and shredded cheese.
  3. Add in the melted fats (butter, oil or tallow choice) and beaten eggs and gradually stir in dry ingredients.
  4. Roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. For a thinner biscuit, slightly flatten the top of each ball with a fork. 
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden. 

Now here's where the fun comes in...just as with the sugar cookies, there are options galore! You can keep it simple with the traditional Cheese Straw Biscuit recipe above or add whatever you like to create savory concoctions.

Basil and roasted garlic, rosemary and red peppers, minced olives, your favorite chutney or pesto, etc. You can even add in sweet sausage and they become sausage balls, a holiday favorite. The sky's the limit! Top them with Tomato Chutney and you'll never go back (;

One flavor combo I started enjoying recently was using our homemade ricotta instead of the shredded harder cheeses. Add fresh cracked pepper, rosemary, lemon zest and a touch of honey to the dough...Heaven!

The best thing about this recipe is that it keeps things simple, especially for the holidays. No more running around collecting different ingredients for multiple recipes when one will do. Now you have a way to create custom cookies for everyone on your gift list without a huge run to the grocery store.

I hope you continue to join us for more of our Simple Handmade Holiday series. Later this week we'll be sharing a no-bake way to give these as gifts...and there are free printables involved ;)

In Gratitude,

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