Monday, April 7, 2014

Mountains of cookies!

We went to a party this weekend and I promised to bring dessert so I made 3 varieties of cookies and a batch of fudge. After finishing up the last batch of cookies on Thursday, I felt like a professional baker or at least like my mom, when she had her cookie making business that almost took over our house, if we hadn't moved to Japan.

As I've mentioned before, my mom was a wonderful cook and baker. I never ate store bought cookies growing up and only tasted my first Oreo when we had kids and my husband introduced me to them! Well, my mom, Kate, was known for her fantastic cookies and she and her friend Aggie had a brilliant idea that sprang from the delicious care packages my mom was sending to my oldest brother in college. All his friends would devour my mom's cookies as soon as they arrived. We lived in Pittsburgh and it is filled with a number of colleges. This was back in the mid 60's and privacy wasn't as closely guarded. Mom and Aggie were able to get the names and addresses of the parents of freshmen at a number of the schools. So they sent out mailers offering delicious, homemade care packages for a fair price.

The orders started to trickle in. Mom was the baker and Aggie was the delivery person. They decided to do this on the quiet, as Aggie's husband didn't want her "working", so no one in either family knew about it. In our house, we did notice that the house smelled continuously of fresh baked cookies, but the only ones we saw were burnt and broken ones, so we thought my mom's skills were deteriorating.

Aggie had a bigger challenge. Their family, like many in the 60's only had one car and her husband took it to work with him. Fortunately he worked at the local steel company that was in the same town. So Kate would drive Aggie and the cookies down to the parking lot of Edgewater Steel, where Aggie would use her keys to take the car and care packages and drive to Oakland and drop off the batches of cookies to the starving freshmen. The complication came in when she would return the car to the parking lot at the steel company. Often the original parking space was now occupied so she'd be forced to park the car in a different spot...attempting to get as close as possible to the original space.This went on for MONTHS and her husband never noticed the car was moving!

Once the college students had a taste of my mom's cookies, the business exploded. The orders began pouring in and it was like an "I Love Lucy" episode of constantly baking and delivering cookies (and moving the car) and then trying to figure out how to explain the influx of cash (or figure out where to hide it!). They were just at the point where they were considering bringing on more bakers and delivery people (and about to spill the beans to the spouses), when we were transferred to Japan and the cookie business crumbled!

So, as I was making fudge and the chocolate chip, and the Asian pear spiced and lastly the lemon lavendar cookies, and my house smelled heavenly, I thought of the cookie business and Aggie and Mom, early culinary entrepreneurs!

I'll share with you the secret to my mom's chocolate chip cookies which are the BEST...use the recipe on the back of the toll house chocolate morsels package BUT melt the butter in the microwave and then add the sugars. It creates a much better flavor. I also prefer Trader Joe's or Ghiradelli's semisweet bits.

And below I present the recipe for the Asian pear spiced cookies. It uses Asian pear butter which is probably tough to get for you but you could substitute apple or peach butter and it would taste just as divine. I am not a chocolate dessert person (though the rest of my family is). I much prefer cinnamon/ginger spiced cookies or citrus and fruit based desserts. These cookies taste yummy and earthy and luxuriously spiced with the combination of cinnamon, clove and ginger. The recipe is another from North Star Orchards (, where I bought the Asian Pears butter and I've mentioned repeatedly in this blog.

Erica's Asian Pear Cookies

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup Asian pear butter (or apple butter or peach butter)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • powdered sugar for rolling
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add egg and mix until smooth, then stir in the Asian pear butter. 
  3. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt and spices). 
  4. Blend the dry mixture into the sugar/egg mixture.
  5. For thicker, soft cookies (which I recommend), chill batter for at least one hour and then roll about a teaspoonful into balls, roll the balls in powdered sugar, and bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 10 minutes or until tops are cracked.
  6. For thin, crisp cookies, don't chill the batter, and drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with regular sugar and bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges look browned and dry.
  7. Cool on wire racks.
I don't like blogs where the recipe is imbedded with the photos so I include these photos below (separately) to help:

Rolled ball of dough
Dipped in Powdered Sugar
Cracked and Cooling!

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