5 Cookie Mistakes

Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies

Milk can help wash down failed baking experiments at home. But it can’t save you from turning up at a holiday party with tough, flat or, worse, fugly cookies. The F&W Test Kitchen’s Kay Chun, however, can help. Here, she explains how to avoid the most common mistakes.


1. Underbeating (a.k.a. undercreaming) the butter and sugar. The butter mixture should be pale yellow in color and fluffy, which takes about three minutes; this helps form tiny air bubbles so that during baking, the bubbles expand and help the cookies rise.

2. Overbeating (overcreaming) the butter and sugar. Stop once the butter is pale yellow and fluffy, otherwise the butter starts to break down and release all those air bubbles you’ve just created. During baking, the cookies will remain flat and dense.

3. Placing the cookies too close together on the baking sheet. Give the cookies enough space to spread. If there’s not enough room, bake the cookies in batches.

4. Overmixing the cookie batter. Overmixing activates the gluten in the flour, yielding chewy and tough cookies. Beat in the flour on low speed just until combined.

5. Overbaking the cookies. Check the cookies at the minimum baking time and remove them when they’re lightly golden on the top and bottom, and firm around the edges. Even a few extra minutes can lead to cookies that are too dark and very hard once they’ve cooled.

Candied Pumpkin

Candied Pumpkin (Calabaza en Tacha)Ingredients

  • 1 calabaza squash (4-5 pounds) or other winter squash like butternut or sugar pumpkin
  • 2 cones brown sugar cane (Piloncillo)
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 3 to 4 Mexican cinnamon sticks
  • Whipped cream or ice cream for serving (optional)


Cut squash in half. Scoop out and discard seeds and stringy flesh. Cut squash into 12 wedges or 3-inch pieces.

Add 8 cups of water to a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add brown sugar cane cones and bring to a boil.

When sugar dissolves, stir in orange juice, zest, and cinnamon sticks.

Add the squash wedges and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Loosely cover and simmer until squash is completely tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

Transfer the squash to a platter using a slotted spoon. Cover squash with foil.

Remove and discard cinnamon sticks. Strain liquid into a bowl to remove cinnamon bits, zest, and any solids.

Pour the liquid back into the pot and bring to a boil.

Cook until liquid reduces to a syrup (similar consistency to maple syrup), about 30 to 45 minutes.

Serve squash warm or at room temperature. Drizzle squash with syrup and top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

Calabaza squash is also called West Indian Pumpkin.

Butterscotch Banana Bread Recipe

Butterscotch Banana Bread Recipe:
(Makes 1 9″x5″ loaf)


3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 large egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup butterscotch chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, egg, vegetable oil and sugar.  Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Add flour and mix until combined.  Fold in butterscotch chips.  Pour batter into a greased 9″x5″ bread pan and bake for 55 minutes or until golden brown on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

Pumpkin Crème BrûléeIngredients
2 cups evaporated fat-free milk
1 carton (8 oz) fat-free egg product (1 cup) or 4 eggs
1/3 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground ginger 
Pinch of ground allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 teaspoons granulated sugar 
  • Step1 Heat oven to 325°F. Spray 6 (6-oz) ceramic ramekins* with cooking spray or grease with butter; place in 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish. In large bowl, beat all ingredients except granulated sugar with wire whisk until well blended. Divide mixture evenly among ramekins.
  • Step2 Place baking dish on rack in center of oven. Pour enough warm water into dish, being careful not to splash water into ramekins, until water covers halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake uncovered 40 to 45 minutes or until center is set, but soft.
  • Step3 Carefully remove baking dish from oven; place on cooling rack. Cool 20 minutes; remove ramekins from water. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until chilled.
  • Step4 Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar over each chilled custard. Holding kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches from custard, caramelize sugar on each custard by heating with torch about 2 minutes, moving flame continuously over sugar in circular motion, until sugar is melted and light golden brown. (To caramelize sugar in the broiler, see Broiler Method below.) Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 8 hours before serving.

Oreo Popcorn Balls

Oreo Popcorn Balls: A Halloween Favorite Treat

 Compliments of It’s a Keeper


8 cups popcorn, popped
12 Oreo cookies, crushed3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup margarine
2 tsp cold water
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup marshmallows

In a large bowl, combine popcorn and crushed Oreos. In a large sauce, combine the corn syrup, margarine, cold water, confectioners’ sugar and marshmallows over medium heat. Stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Carefully remove from heat and pour the mixture over the popcorn and crushed cookies until each piece is coated.

Spray popcorn baller with non-stick cooking spray and quickly shape the popcorn mixture into balls before it cools. Let cool on a sheet of wax paper. Wrap each ball with wax paper or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Spooky Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes

Spooky Apple Cinnamon

Yields 50 cupcakes


  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces (4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 Medium Apples, diced small

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add liners to cupcake pan. Mix all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, cream the butter. Add sugar and continue mixing. Add eggs one at a time. Add milk. Scrape down sides and add dry ingredient mix, one cup at a time. Fold in diced apples.  Fill cupcakes liners to 3/4 full and bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool before frosting.


  • 3 sticks of butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, to taste

Whip butter until white and fluffy. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time. Continue whipping. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Scrape bowl and whip another 30 seconds.

Add sprinkles, plastic spiders or whatever your heart desires to complete the cupcakes!

Meatless Wine Pairing

As we get closer to winter, we are able to pull fewer vegetables from the ground. Fortunately, there are root vegetables, squash and some late season corn and zucchini popping up. The good news: the starchier veggies are wonderful wine vegetables with less interference than some of the greens and herbs we use in the summer months have. In general, lighter more versatile reds are easy to pair with most veggies, as are most non-oaky whites. But we’ve come up with a few meatless meal pairings for you bought to you by BottleNotes.com
NAISSANCE Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Napa Valley, CA) $30
The mineral notes and crisp acidity in this sauyvignon blanc make it a perfect pairing for veggie cooking. Use the last fresh zucchini of the season and either grill them or use them to make an onion and zucchini frittata.
L’ECOLE NO. 41 Chenin Blanc 2012 (Columbia Valley, WA) $15
This robust white wine is a great match for quinoa, as well as root veggies like beets, parsnips and carrots, roasted and plated with lentils and shallots. The wine is crisp and versatile with a mineral finish.

PERTICAIA Rosso 2010 (Montefalco, Italy) $15
Being a vegetarian doesn’t mean cooking night after night. Just pick up the phone and order. Looking for the perfect pizza pairing? This Umbrian red is it. It’s a dark and earthy mostly sangiovese blend is perfectly spiced for that mushroom or cheese slice.

CAPEZZANA “Ghiaie della Furba” 2007 (Tuscany, Italy) $55
A splurge wine is in order to celebrate the arrival of fall. Try this elegant mostly cabernet blend with dark cherry notes and a hint of spice. If you’re still pulling garlic from your garden, try a very simple pasta dish made with olive oil, grated parm and garlic.

Skinny Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes

Skinny Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes | gimmesomeoven.comPrep Time: 5 minutes

Yield: About 3 cups

All of the goodness of pumpkin pie in a skinny milkshake!


  • 1 cup lowfat milk (or almond or soy milk)
  • 1/2 cup plain lowfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ripe banana, cut into chunks and frozen
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2-1 cup ice cubes


Pulse all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Add extra ice cubes if desired.

Lemon-drop Chicken Wings

Lemon-drop Chicken Wings


½ cup vodka*
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pounds chicken wings, tips trimmed off
This recipe uses Vodka as one of the ingredients…


1. In a large bowl or resealable plastic bag, combine vodka, lemon juice, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Add the chicken wings and mix to coat. Cover bowl or seal bag and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. 2. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a 9- by 13-in. baking pan with two layers of foil. Arrange the chicken wings in a single layer in the pan, and pour the marinade evenly over all. Bake until meat is well browned and pulling away from the bone, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm. Note: One reviewer of this recipe stated in part: “…I definitely recommend these! I followed the recipe exactly for our Super Bowl party and they were a huge hit! They had just enough flavor and our guests who don’t like spicy foods liked having chicken wings at the party..

Biscoff Stuffed Pumpkin Mini Muffins

Biscoff Stuffed Pumpkin Mini Muffins are coated with cinnamon sugar and perfect for fall! From HandletheHeat.com

Biscoff Stuffed Pumpkin Mini Muffins

Yield: 24 mini muffins


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup Biscoff spread

Cinnamon sugar coating:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


For the muffins:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick baking spray.

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice.

In a medium bowl whisk together the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin, and milk. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.

For the filling:
Pour 1 tablespoon of batter into each mini muffin cup. Top with a 1/2 teaspoon of Biscoff. Top with about another 1 teaspoon of batter.

Bake for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the batter is set. Let cool.

For the coating:
Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dip each doughnut hole into the melted butter then coat in the cinnamon sugar. Serve.