Cookies from a Jar

Cookies

When we have friends over for Sunday brunch, the bulk of the meal is conveniently store-bought from the small shops around us. A generous cheese platter, a few items from the charcuterie (such as sliced bone-in ham, terrines, and sometimes eggs in aspic for a bit of harmless proselytizing), ample supplies of fresh baguette (usually a mix of plain and multigrain), and a selection of croissants and pains au chocolat (always a difficult thing to get right, as it’s hard to know who will prefer which, so you end up getting one of each for everyone, but you can make croissants aux amandes with the leftovers so that’s okay).

I like to throw in a couple of homemade items too, and for these I usually have wild ambitions. I picture warm quiches, elegant soufflés, golden frittatas, fluffy pancakes, moist yogurt cakes, plump scones, pretty muffins, or perhaps a few crumpets, which I’ve been wanting to make for about three years and still haven’t, for no apparent reason.

But the problem with brunch, really, is that it happens so early in the day — or more accurately, since 1pm is not exactly early, so soon after I wake up. By the time I’ve emerged, showered, hopped out to the bakery, waited in line while admiring the latest bread creations, and walked back home, chewing on the warm crunchy tip I’ve teared out from one of the baguettes, there is usually little time left to bring my edible projects to life.

And this is why, last Sunday, while Maxence was putting together a batch of simple but outstanding oeufs cocotte with foie gras, I decided to play the trump card of convenience, and use the cookie mix I’d been keping in my kitchen cabinet for such occasions.

This cookie mix is made by an American company called Sisters’ Gourmet, based in Georgia, and was brought back to us from New York by two of our friends. The company’s motto is, “We make it easy for you to make it homemade”, and although the phrase could have been put a bit more elegantly in my humble opinion, it sounded like just what I needed.

The blend I had was called Cookies for Santa — very seasonal, I know. It came in a tall Mason jar with all the ingredients neatly layered inside, like those frames filled with different colors of sand that little girls like to bring back as a souvenir for their mother from a summer camp by the sea. A bit tacky, but the mother is touched nonetheless and keeps it safe somewhere in the back of a closet.

The Cookies for Santa mix produces chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, with shredded coconut and crushed corn flakes thrown in for good measure. As promised, the cookies were extremely easy to make: you just soften some butter (I used my trusted butter with salt flakes), blend it with an egg, dump in the contents of the jar, and happily mix it into the wet ingredients with your clean hands. Added bonus: this works as an astoundingly efficient scrub, and your hands come out of the experience as soft and smooth as a summer peach.

More importantly, the cookies turned out to be delicious. I baked them until crispy on the outer rim but still soft in the center, filling the house with a warm welcoming smell, and they were just perfect: full-flavored but not too sweet, they offered a nice variety of textures to keep your teeth interested — chewy oatmeal, crunchy corn flakes, and smooth chocolate chips. Maxence officialy declared them to be the best American-style cookies he had ever eaten, and they were enthusiastically scarfed down by our guests.

The jar yielded 27 cookies so they fueled us for a few more days, but now that they’re all gone, I really have to enquire about international shipping.

  • http://extravirg.blogspot.com Caroline

    Oatmeal cookies are one of my guilty pleasures, not delicate or pretty enough to be served to guests, but so addictively good that I’m often found covertly making batches for myself.

    By the way, I wrote up a review of one of your recipes in my blog– hope you don’t mind. Check it out if you get the chance.

  • http://www.superfood.blog-city.com Richard Leader

    Regarding your comment about using left-over croissants…
    should you have any left-over pains au chocolat, I can recommend making a chocolate bread-and-butter pudding with them – just sliced with a thick vanilla (or chocolate) custard and warmed through in the oven. However, it’s rare that we ever have any left-overs :(

  • Isahrai

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that someone smarter than me turned the “Cookies in a Jar” into a business. There were several years where I made those as holiday presents for people. The first time, everyone just looked at me funny and tucked it into the back of the cabinent, presumably until spring cleaning when they could toss it out. But then, they all inevitably came upon a time when they had to quickly whip up a dessert for a party or bakesale. Ta da! Cookies in a Jar to the rescue! They are a remarkable easy gift to make for others and a lifesaver for those brunch/bake sale/dinner party panic attacks. I was thoroughly vindicated when I stopped giving the jars because everyone asked about them. I’ll just have to pass along your link so they can order their own!

  • http://intheshadowsofthesign.blogspot.com/ Cynthia

    These look very similar to the cookies I baked last week. A few years ago I adapted a recipe from Joy of Cooking to create the perfect oatmeal chocolate chip coconut pecan cranberry raisin cookie. Super delicious. I sold these at an flea market in the Old Bank District in Downtown LA and they caught the eye (and taste buds) of a local developer. For awhile he was trying to convince me to open a bakery and sell these puppies. Instead, I baked and sold dozens to his company every week for a few months. But the cookie business was not for me…took all the joy out of it for me when baking was something I was hired to do.

    I’ll try to write about these on my blog soon.

  • Jo-Ann

    Maybe the link to this recipe will be a helpful starting point for you to make your own cookie mix

    http://cookie.allrecipes.com/az/RsinCrnchCkiMixinJr.asp

    Thank you for your wonderful blog!
    j

  • C

    It seems to me that having the dry indredients pre-assembled does not save a significant amount of time. Throwing sugar and flour into a bowl doesn’t take very long, does it?

    While there are times when I’m out of an ingredient and I’m too lazy to run to the store, it’s almost always one of the wet ingredients.

    Also, I like to control the amount and quality of ingredients I’m using.

    I guess that’s why I don’t see the point of boxed cake/cookie mixes, either. Of course, if I end up with a mix I’ll certainly end up using it, eventually.

  • http://www.toomanychefs.com Meg

    Clotilde, the next time you are hosting a brunch you might want to try a strata-like dish. My sister’s egg casserole is a stand-by on Christmas day because it actually requires you to refrigerate overnight and so on the morning all you have to do it pop it in the oven:

    http://www.toomanychefs.com/archives/001385.php

    I’m not sure whether you’d want to present it as “anglo-saxon” (egg casserole) or “Italian” (strata) though!

  • Elisabeth

    Oh, Clotilde, it would be so wonderful if you could provide instructions on making croissants aux amandes! I was told that one simply dips stale croissants in syrup, cuts them horizontally, fills with frangipane-type filling, sprinkles with slivered almonds, bakes, and, ta da! But I at least need a little more clarity! Can you enlighten? Merci beaucoup!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Caroline – Glad my grandmother’s recipe worked for you! Thanks for pointing me to your write-up.

    Richard – This sounds pretty good, and just as rich as croissants aux amandes! :)

    Isahrai – It does take skill to put those together, for I have to ask: how do you work it out so it fills up a jar precisely?

    Cynthia – Please do post about the cookies! We’d all love to hear about the adventure, and possibly see the recipe if you’re willing to share it…

    Jo-Ann – Thanks for the link, it does sound like a good basis to elaborate on.

    C – In my experience, it is rarely just sugar and flour that you have to dig out from the kitchen cabinet, open, measure, close, and put back on the shelf: here it’s also the chocolate chips, the brown sugar, the corn flakes (that you have to crush) and the grated coconut. Not to mention that you need a good recipe in the first place of course!

    But I do agree with you about the quantity/quality and I’m not about to stop baking stuff from scratch — all I’m saying is that those mixes can come in handy.

    Meg – Thanks for pointing me to that recipe, I hadn’t seen it!

    Elisabeth – Next time I make some I will post about it!

  • http://laughinggastronome.blogspot.com/ Emma

    Hi, I love the idea of cookies for brunch! But I do recommend making crumpets – they are surprisingly easy. If you would like to try my recipe it is here – http://laughinggastronome.blogspot.com/2005/12/crumpet.html
    Emma

  • http://www.paristriptips.com paristriptips

    I have a jar just like that in my cabinet, a gift from Christmas. I think I might make them tonight.

  • http://www.designindigo.com/fullsteamahead.html kisane

    OOoh…thanks for that link. And yes!! They do deliver, internationally. I love oatmeal cookies with anything in them. The problem is trying NOT to eat them in all in one day. :-P

  • http://kosmonaut.blogspot.com Kathryn

    Eggplant souffle? Got a recipe?

  • http://www.thenkellywrote.blogspot.com Kelly

    Clotilde, I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I always really enjoy it!

    I followed the link to the ouefs cocotte and it looks fabulous (oh-so-healthy, too, no doubt!) and I too am guilty of having beautiful burgundy rammekins that I adore but have never used. But one question – what temperature should the oven be?

    By the way, I’m from the Bay Area, so I always love reading your references to it. =)

  • bea

    Hi! I came across your blog looking for the recipe for the pasteis du Belem, but I got involved with the rest of the wonderful site! Anyway, have you ever tried quick breads for brunch? I use self-raising flour, water, and then add anything that suits my fancy! From a dash of salt and mixed herbs (my Italian roots are very strong) or sugar and chocolate for the morning! And it takes only 5 minutes to prepare, and 40 minutes to bake! If you want, come to my blog, I’m going to post a few examples of this recipe! Have a nice day!

  • Alisa

    Once you do locate a good cookie recipe (of which I have and am happy to share) You can make the dough, roll it into a log and freeze it. Then whenever you like, slice off a few and voila, fresh baked cookies on demand. Cool huh?

  • http://threelayercake.com Three Layer Cake

    Alisa beat me to what I was going to suggest. Rachel Grisewood, of the Manna From Heaven bakery in Sydney, gave me a couple of recipes she uses when she does children’s workshops. She uses organic ingredients, but any kind will do.

    I liked the recipe so much and found it so incredibly easy and fast (after all, it’s a recipe for kids!), I experimented with it and found it a good base to use for whatever kind of cookies, generally choosing different types of chocolate and nut combinations. I roll them into logs and press the sides to make different shapes (square, trangular, round, whatever), and either freeze them, or if I know I am going to use them quickly, just leave them in the refrigerator. The link to the recipe is here:

    http://www.threelayercake.com/content/view/99/26/

    or for ease:

    Organic Milk chocolate biscuits

    * 75g Raw Sugar
    * 90g Butter
    * 1 Egg yolk
    * 1 Teaspoon vanilla essence
    * 125g Milk chocolate buttons/ or half dark and milk cut into small chunks
    * 150g Flour

    Set oven to 160c. Cream the butter and the sugar in a bowl add the egg yolk and vanilla. Mix in the flour and the chocolate until well mixed. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

    Roll into ping- pong sized balls and push into flat rounds on silicon paper on a baking sheet. Keep the biscuits a little a part as they will spread. Bake until just golden underneath, about 15 minutes, cool before eating or if you can not wait blow on them. Good with ice cream.

  • Samantha

    hiya,

    Those cookies sounds delicious.

    You might also like these:
    http://www.post-gazette.com/food/20000326suz1a.asp

    Chocolate Coma Cookies – chocolate, oatmeal, dried cherries and toasted slivered almonds. AMAZING.

    Enjoy!

    Samantha

    PS. I have been enjoying your blog for about a year now. Thanks!

  • Juliette Godart

    Your blog is definitely gorgeous! Thank you for that. It grows me up the power for cooking.

    Kisses,

    Juliette

  • http://thepearlonion.blogspot.com/ The Pearl Onion

    I love desert for breakfast! And even better when it is already halfway prepared. I hate to admit it, but I think Toll House’s pre-made cookie batter is also pretty good…should I be embarrassed to admit that?!

  • http://foodblog.schweerelos.net Andrea

    Thanks for the great idea — now I know what I’ll give to my Mum as a housewarming present! As I’ve never made American style cookies before, I just used one I found on allrecipes.com: http://cookie.allrecipes.com/az/ChewyCrispyCoconutCookies.asp

    It more or less works out with the volume of an old jar from pickled cucumbers that I found in the basement (which I’d guessed from the volumes in the recipe). The trick is to pack the ingredients firmly (push down after putting in each ingredient). Another good idea is to put an ingredient on top where the exact amount isn’t that important — I think in this case I ended up with about 30g shredded coconut less than indicated in the recipe. I guess that won’t make much of a difference.

  • http://yacinfields.blogspot.com/ Man Arenas

    humm :)
    cookies and chocolate… easy to get addicted,
    but what a pleasure :)

  • Becca

    While it can be fun to bake cookies, if you’re oven-less, culinary talentless, busy, or all of the above, I recommend Laura Todd’s cookies, sold in any Lina’s all over the city, and freshly baked at their stand at the Galleries Lafayette Gourmet (they come piping hot out of the oven). The cookies are all “bio” and the white chocolate version is sublime!

  • http://www.jayateas.com/blog/ Madhulika Pareek

    I have always loved biscuits with tea. Its only in coming to US that I found out that “biscuits” are reserved for dogs and cookies for us humans! So now I have cookies with tea! “Tea and cookies” just doesnt have the same ring to it as “tea and biscuits”. Nevertheless, fresh home made cookies are just a wonderful treat with teas, especially if they are baked fresh right before serving. My favorite ones are chocolate chip cookies but I also enjoy other types. Of course, in todays busy world it is impossible to do everything for scratch, so I too rely on the “cookie mix” to whip up a batch.

    I know the french love their baguette very much, but do you eat the baguette with tea or coffee? I find that baguette goes well with the traditional Indian chai, but not the steeped tea.

  • http://www.cookies-in-motion.com bestvnteas

    Cookie mix in a jar is certainly convenient when you are pressed for time and not up to starting from scratch.

    However, I have always been concerned about ingredients interacting prematurely in the jar. Things like flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, etc. could degenerate in quality before they are used.

    In any case, I just found your blog and think that it is very entertaining and informative. I love French food, by the way.

    I am taking a class on how to bake many different types of bread including French baguettes. Until recently, I didn’t realize the extent of sophistication that is involved in bread baking.

    My Web site is http://www.cookies-in-motion.com where I attemp to introduce the art of baking homemade cookies.

    I explain cookie ingredients, baking tips and techniques, and present many easy cookie recipes with step-by-step images of how to prepare them.

    I hope you would allow me to place a link on your site.

  • starinova

    One of the joys of checking your blog is the truly unexpected: Cookies in a Jar. Now, being a single guy, as much as I love to cook from scratch…this truly appeals to me. And what I like best, is that I know if it merits your write-up…it’s going to be…at the very least, interesting, and probably very tasty. I mean, if you haul a jar of cookie mix back to France from the US, that has to be one heck of a cookie mix, right? I checked out the Sisters and will definitely order a Santa mix. Looks like there are some super gift items in there for people who like to cook…but somedays, like you…want to kick back. All the best to your remarkable blog site and your amazing zest for life!

  • Leigh

    Clotilde – I am a little behind on reading your blog…sorry. There are entire cookbooks designed to tell you how to make different cookie mixes in a jar. We make them regularly as to raise money for my son’s school. They are all designed to come right to the top of the jar.

    Please let me know if you would like the names of the books.

    Leigh

  • http://www.sistersgourmet.com Sisters Gourmet

    Greetings Clotilde,
    Thank you for your delightful article about our “Cookies for Santa” holiday line. We enjoyed your review immensely, especially learning about the exfoliating aspect of out cookie dough. We are so glad you enjoyed our gourmet cookies and a new order is just a phone call away!

    Sincerely,
    Sisters Gourmet

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