chocolate chip cookie baking in Germany

Yesterday, after two days of collecting ingredients from various grocery stores, I baked some chocolate chip cookies. It was quite an adventure.

Member of the millennial generation that I am, I documented the experience with my social media accounts. So, dear parents, grandparents, and friends who do not participate in Twitter and Instagram, here is what happened:

Chocolate chip cookie baking in Germany. | Step one: let the block of butter soften on a sunny windowsill.

Compare and sample the two barbaric alternatives to impossible-to-find chocolate chips. Decide they’re passable.

Throw the rest of the ingredients on the counter before you have the chance to wonder any longer if all those German words mean what you think they do.

Spend 20 minutes hacking at baking chocolate with a dull knife and muttering about chocolate chips.

At first I thought the butter was rancid. But then I looked at my innocent, little bag of sugar.

Taste the butter and sugar mixture and discover the loud, citrusy overtones of gelatin sugar for canning. Employ tablespoons of vanillin sugar as an antidote.

A bag of sugar shouldn’t have an ingredients list. This one did:
“Zucker, Geliermittel Pektine, Säuerungsmittel Citronensäure, Konservierungsstoff Sorbinsäure”

Taste the mutant, citrusy dough you’ve created. Add vanillin sugar. Repeat. Again. Don’t let the flatmates see you grimace.



The equivalent of several tablespoons of vanilla extract, an oven tutorial from one of the flatmates, some Celsius-to-Fahrenheit calculations, a temperature adjustment or two, and three rounds of baking later: speckled chocolate chunk cookies.

Against all odds, place a plate piled high with sweet success – baked at 185° Celsius – on the kitchen table and watch them disappear.



They were chewy; there was not even the slightest hint of citrus tang; and they were gone in 18 hours. The end.




toasted pecan spice cookies

pecan spice cookies up closeWell, it’s over. After a speedy procedure between 10:30 and 11:30 this morning, I stumbled hesitantly out of the oral surgery office, with a lot less smarts and a mouthful of stitches. Yes, yes, I just made the classic and corny you-must-be-less-wise-because-you-got-your-wisdom-teeth-out joke. I couldn’t help myself. My innocent little wisdom teeth were yanked from their happy homes; I need some puns for consolation.

The remaining sedative fog burned off on the car ride home, so by the time I walked into the kitchen, I felt pretty good. My face – from my ears and lower eyelids to below my chin – was still cold and numb, so the pain was minimal. Fortified by some ibuprofens, I decided to take advantage of my presumably short-lived comfort by making some cookies. Dad’s siblings and my cousin were set to arrive this evening, and one always wants to have cookies on hand when guests are coming. So, I stuffed a napkin in my mouth to catch my wayward drool (tmi?), strapped my ice packs to my face, and pulled out the mixer. Baking therapy. With a side of fruit juice to keep me going.pecan spice cookies on a platter

And the cookies? They’re delightfully chewy, warmly spiced, and full of nuts and raisins. You can’t go wrong. I first made them before Christmas, and between then and now I’ve whipped up a batch three or four times. I think they’re currently my favorite cookie. Their main flavor is reminiscent of gingerbread, but there are also oats for more texture, golden raisins for tangy sweetness, and toasted pecans for crunch and lovely, nutty flavor.pecan spice cookies

I have become loathe to include nuts in anything without first toasting them. They just have so little flavor if you don’t toast them; they’re just texture. But once you brown them a bit, suddenly the aromatic oils burst forth and fill the air and whatever dish to which you add them. It’s marvelous! Even the mild almond suddenly develops a personality. A quality raw pecan itself has a strong, woody flavor; add a little heat and it blooms beautifully.pecan spice cookie dough

Speaking of flavor, if you try these cookies, do use golden raisins. It really makes a difference. Regular raisins are to molasses as  golden raisins are to honey. There’s a brightness, a lightness in golden raisins that you just don’t get with the regular ones. And sometimes I think I can detect just a hint of tartness.pecan spice cookies in a box

Toasted Pecan Spice Cookies 

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 + 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 + 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven as it heats up, until deep brown a fragrant; time will vary according to oven, so be vigilant and check them every minute.

Using a mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs and beat until smooth. Add the oats, salt, baking powder, and spices (or combine separately in a bowl and pour into butter mixture) and mix until combined.

Chop the toasted pecans. Fold pecans and golden raisins into cookie dough.

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes. The cookie will be puffy. As soon as you take them out of the oven, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. They may seem undercooked, but they’ll be fine. It’s okay if they smoosh a little bit when you move them. If you leave them on the baking sheet, they will have crispy, thin edges when they cool.

Enjoy with milk! [Makes ~33 cookies.]

how to send a surprise care package

1. Send the package unexpectedly. Dont’ tell the recipient that it’s coming, so they’ll be pleasantly surprised and curious when they are notified of its arrival.


Screen shot 2013-03-01 at 3.09.03 PM

2. Use unusual packaging to increase suspense.

lots of tape3. Secure the package with unnecessary quantities of tape – just enough to cause puzzlement without creating frustration.

IMG_52664. Seal the package carefully to ensure the safety of the items inclosed within.

IMG_52675. Further package the items for maximum confusion and interest.

IMG_52695. Astound and delight the recipient with your cleverness and creativity.


6. Keep in mind that the best care package ingredients are both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

IMG_5271Exhibit A: Posters from awesome best friends provide both a cheer for the recipient as well as convenient wall art.


Exhibit B: Homemade baked goods such as cookies and muffins from grandmothers and great-grandmothers both look amazing and furnish necessary doses of sugar for studying.

my valentine’s day breakfast


This morning has been excellent. I woke up to the bright sun reaching through our dorm room blinds, promising that it had driven away the cold and drifting mist from yesterday. Finally, I have a new cell phone – that’s a three-week saga that must be told at some point. Carolina’s basketball team lost last night, and I care not a whit, which makes me happier than most anyone else on campus. And, my stomach felt just fine despite my having ingested vast quantities of sugar last night.


Best of all, I had cookies and milk for breakfast.


Grandma L.’s sugar cookies are out of this world. Seriously, they’re better than any I’ve ever tasted before in my life. Better than the kind you buy from a bakery or make from a Pillsbury tin. And this is after they were shipped across the country. I was more than happy to set aside my usual, sensible granola breakfast and use my cereal bowl to hold milk for dipping the cookies.


The insanely delicious cookies, an alarming number of which I snarfed down yesterday afternoon and evening, came along with other Valentine’s candy, the best of which was an enormous bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms. My grandparents know me well.


I had never tried Peanut Butter M&Ms before. They are good. The peanut butter inside is smooth and soft, and the M&Ms themselves are about the size of Peanut M&Ms. I can’t decide whether the crunch of a real peanut or the soft smoothness of the peanut butter is preferable. I think M&M should make a mixed bag with both Peanut M&Ms and Peanut Butter M&Ms. And then give me some of the profits for thinking up the brilliant idea. Yeah.


Anyway, that was my Valentine’s Day breakfast: heart-shaped, frosted sugar cookies dipped in milk and accompanied by Peanut Butter M&Ms. I should get back to homework. Midterms and papers start in earnest next week. Oh goodie gumdrops.


Happy Chocoholic’s Day, guys!

[This post is made possible in part by support from My Awesome Grandparents Inc.]

cranberry oatmeal cookies

These cookies have a boring name, I think. It doesn’t do justice to their true essence. Who wants to eat cranberry oatmeal cookies? Sounds rather dull.

But, the name really is necessary for the sake of simplicity.

This is the eye-full you’d have to read otherwise: Cranberry Macadamia Nut White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.

So, Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies it is. I sacrifice accuracy for the sake of convenience. I wonder if that is a clue that I am part of the millennial generation?

The light sweetness of these perfectly chewy cookies contrasts wonderfully with the tartness of the cranberries within. Buttery macadamia nut bits and creamy white chocolate chips only improve them. All around, I think they’re pretty great.

They’re pretty, too!

Look at that radiant, golden glow. They know they’re pure deliciousness.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies


  • 1 + 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
  • 1 + 1/2 cups frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix well. In a bowl mix together the dry ingredients. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Fold the chocolate chips, nuts, and cranberries into the dough; use your hands if necessary as the dough may be a bit stiff.

Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Makes about 35 cookies.

[Per the recipe as it is these cookies are heavy on the cranberries and lighter on the nuts and chocolate chips. Switch up the ratio of nuts to cranberries to chocolate chips if you like, but I wouldn’t use much more than 2 + 1/2 cups total of the various mix-ins.]