Tuesday, November 27, 2012

November Daring Bakers' Challenge - Cookies!

Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

Oh my goodness. When I read this challenge, I was so impressed with Peta. She found, tested and presented to us a well thought out challenge containing twelve mouth-watering varieties of cookies. I wanted to try all twelve. Seriously. And, over time, I still hope to.

But given how much other baking we do on a regular basis, I thought that might be overkill.

So I thought I'd try two this month. The first variety I selected was the recipe that Peta provided for brown butter shortbread.  I mean, shortbread is delicious in and of itself, as a delicious, simple cookie. Add to that the nuttiness of brown butter and the richness of brown sugar - how could I not try it??

I started by browning my butter. Last time I made brown butter I left it on a few seconds too long, so I was a bit trigger shy this time, which resulted in lightly browned butter...


But the smell was so nutty and delicious, I knew it would be delicious.

The browned butter was then whipped together with brown sugar, vanilla, flour and a touch of salt.


This dough was so light and airy, I was amazed. I'd intended to shape the cookies using my cookie press, but the dough kept oozing through the discs... so then I thought I'd pipe the dough into wreath-inspired rounds, but the only tip I have was way too narrow and wouldn't work well. For my third attempt, I started scooping the dough onto my cookie sheet, chocolate chip cookie style, but I wasn't happy with that either. So I went with plan "d" - a classic single, round of shortbread. I press the dough into a round cake pan, scoring the top for easier portioning once baked, and popped the whole thing in the oven.


The result was well worth the effort, frustrating and dishes. It smelled outstanding and tasted even better. The crisp, flakiness of the surface and the delicious flavor of the brown butter, daddy called this addictive and I tend to agree with him.


When I told little miss that we were going to be making lots of cookies this month, she chose a variety that was not included in the challenge, but I couldn't say no. She chose an activity type of cookie that was mentioned in a book she has. She wanted to make funny face cookies. The cookies themselves are simply a variety of oatmeal cookies, shaped into large rounds. The fun part is the decorating.


Awesome use for extra Halloween candy, I might add.

Using frosting and peanut butter as "glue" (and sunbutter for an allergy friendly one for her brother), little miss created some fun, silly and friendly cookies that were as fun to make as they were tasty to eat.


Daddy and I each had a turn decorating, too. Can you guess who made each one?


So while I didn't make twelve different varieties of cookies, we did have a lot of cookie-baking fun thanks to this challenge.

Peta, thank you so much for all of your hard work. I can't wait to try the other tasty recipes that you shared with us!

You should absolutely check out the recipes that we had to choose from this month as presented in the challenge.  And to see the other delicious cookies baked up in the kitchen this month, check them out here.

So tell me - which cookies would you have chosen??

Brown Butter Shortbread
(from November Daring Bakers' Challenge)

1 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (I used 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons table salt

To brown the butter:
Cut the butter into smallish pieces and place in a saucepan over a low heat. Melt the butter and cook until it starts to brown and gives off a warm, nutty aroma. Stir from time to time to make sure the butter browns evenly. As it gets close to being browned enough it will foam up and you will see little brown bits in the foam. Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof jug or bowl. Set aside to cool slightly and then refrigerate until it starts to set again but is not too firm. It should be the consistency of softened butter. Don’t strain out the little brown bits they taste great.

For the cookies:
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Add the sugar and vanilla to the browned butter and beat until very light and fluffy and the sugar is dissolved.
Finally, add the flour and salt and mix for at least 2 – 4 minutes to form a soft dough.
Press the dough into a round cake pan (8" or 9") and flatten the surface. You can score the top if you would like. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking. Bake the large shortbread round in a preheated moderate oven for about 20 – 30 minutes.
Let the cookie cool completely in the pan and remove when cooled. Store in an airtight container.



  1. This was a fun challenge - the oatmeal face cookies are great! Bravo to all the bakers in your house this month.

  2. Oatmeal face cookies are beautiful! Great job on the challenge!

  3. Your funny face cookies are so cute! I am sure you had a lot of fun to make this challenge with yours kids. :)

  4. Oooh, I loves me some shortbread - I have to try that browned butter recipe! The funny faces are adorable, but frankly I'm amazed that you still have leftover Halloween candy! ;)

  5. i hope that someday i can share the joy of baking when i have kids of my own! loved your post and your cookie faces :)

  6. I only made the seven layer cookies, and I already regret not making the shortbread - it sounds amazingly good! And the funny face cookies look like a lot of fun indeed!

  7. Brown butter shortbread sounds like something you would bake! I know you love to do recipes that have brown butter in them, and you have obviously mastered the browning process because they look great. Nice job on the challenge!

  8. I definetly will try the brown butter at some point, but I think I'd even prefer to make faces on the cookies too ;)

  9. Oh my, I LOVE those face cookie!!! Little Miss did an excellent job on them!

  10. Okay, I love the cookies and your efforts look great. I love the cookies your Little miss made, they are perfect and the fact that she made one for her little brother which included sun butter make my allergy needs happy. I would love to know if you have tried any peanut butter style cookies with the sunbutter? Thanks for sharring.

  11. Cut cute cute ! these look like such happy cookies. great job on the challenge

  12. I absolutely love little miss and her wonderful cookies! They're the ones I would make! Thank you for the kind welcome back, Shelley! :)

  13. My kids loved little Miss's creations more than all the cookies they saw on this challenge :)
    I don't blame them, this sounds like loads of fun!
    Great job on this challenge Shelley


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