Saturday, 24 December 2011

Cookie Holiday

Thank you to all who participated in the 12 Days of Cookies -- our bakers, tasters, public entries, delivery guy, and staff. We hope you enjoyed this fun treat, and maybe you found a new recipe or new favourite cookbook to enjoy! We'll be taking a holiday from cookies, but we'll return with the blog in the New Year, so come back and visit us for book reviews, program reviews, and more! See you in 2012. Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year to all.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

More from you!

We had a few more entries from our patrons, so we thought we'd show them to you! Ruth from Wolfville made these lovely Bizcochitos from the Gourmet Cookie Book:

Yes, upside down cookies.

 And the Whitman family of Annapolis Royal was inspired to make 2 batches of cookies!

Soft Spice Bars

Chocolate Snowballs
Thanks for entering -- they all look very yummy.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Day 12: Cranberry Orange Pinwheels

The 12th Day of Cookies! We hope you've been inspired to bake using our wide selection of cookbooks. Today's cookie is baked by Patricia Milner, Head of Reference Services. She's thinking healthy and cooked up a batch of  Cranberry Orange Pinwheels from the book, One Smart Cookie

Here's the recipe:


·         *In a medium bowl, beat margarine and sugar with an electric mixer for 1 minute, until well combined.  Beat in egg white and vanilla until smooth.
·         *In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Add to the sugar mixture and stir by hand just until you have a soft dough.
·         *Roll the dough between two sheets of waxed paper into a 12” square.  Place on a cookie sheet in the fridge for about 30 minutes or the freezer for 15 minutes.
·        * In a small saucepan, combine cranberry sauce , marmalade and cornstarch. Bring to a full boil over medium heat set aside until cool.
·        * Remove the dough from the fridge and peel off the top layer of waxed paper.  Spread the dough evenly with the cranberry filling going right to the edges.  Gently roll into a log, peeling back the bottom paper as you go.  Wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap and freeze for 3 hours or up to 3 months.
·         *When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice the log into ¼ “slices and place 1” apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. (Patricia says they are hard to cut this thin. She ended up cutting them about a half-inch thick.)  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until pale golden.  Let cool on a cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

·         Makes 3 dozen cookies. (Less if you cut them thicker)

Monday, 19 December 2011

Day 11: Candy Canes

Our 11th Day of Cookies features baker Tim Jackson, who works at our Headquarters location in Bridgetown. He's made Candy Canes from Better Homes and Gardens: Cookies for Christmas. Hang these on your tree for an edible decoration!

Here's the recipe:

·        1 cup butter or margarine

·        1 cup sifted powdered sugar

·        1 egg

·        ½ teaspoon vanilla

·        ½ teaspoon peppermint extract

·        Dash of salt

·        2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

·        ½ teaspoon red food coloring

·        Peppermint Glaze

In a large mixer bowl beat butter or margarine till softened. Add powdered sugar and beat till fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, peppermint extract, and salt. Beat well. Add flour and beat till well mixed. Divide dough in half. Stir red food coloring into one half. Cover each half and chill about 30 minutes or till easy to handle.  

For each cookie, on a lightly floured surface shape a teaspoonful of plain dough into a 4 inch rope. Repeat with a teaspoonful of red dough. Place ropes side by side and twist together. Pinch ends to seal. Form twisted ropes into canes. Place canes 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in a 375⁰ oven for 8 to 10 minutes or till done. Remove and cool. If desired, brush with Peppermint Glaze. Makes  48.

 Peppermint Glaze: Stir together 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar, ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract, and enough water (4 to 5 teaspoons) to make a brushing consistency.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Day 10: Chocolate Wows

Frances Newman, Regional Librarian, has baked Chocolate Wows from Cookies: Good Houskeeping favorite recipes. With that glass of milk standing by, you-know-who would enjoy a plate of these on Christmas Eve.  Her cookies are going to Port Williams Library today.

Here's the recipe:
1/3 cup flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
6 squares semisweet chocolate, chopped up
½ cup butter or margarine
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ tsps vanilla extract
2 cups pecans chopped
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F, Grease 2 large cookie sheets. 
  2. In small bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder & salt.
  3. In heavy 2 quart saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring frequently, until smooth.  Remove from heat and cool.
  4. In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat eggs and sugar until light and lemon colored, about 2 minutes, frequently scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
  5. Reduce speed to low.  Add cooled chocolate mixture, flour mixture, and vanilla; beat until just blended.  Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes. 
  6. With wooden spoon, stir in pecans and chocolate chips.
  7. Drop batter by rounded teaspoons, 2 inches apart, on greased cookie sheets.  With back of spoon spread batter into 2 inch rounds.  Bake for 13 mins until tops are shiny and cracked.  Cool 10 mins on cookie sheet.  With metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Day 9: New Year's Icy Shortbread

Angela Reynolds, Head of Youth Services, has delved into the children's cookbooks for this shortbread recipe. It is from the book Make and Bake Amazing Cookies, by Elizabeth MacCleod. How can you go wrong with shortbread and candy canes? These starry treats are making their way to the Wolfville Library today.

 Here's the recipe, with added notes from Angela:
You will need:
2 c. butter
2 c. lightly packed brown sugar
Peppermint flavouring (or vanilla)
4 c. all-purpose flour
½ c. crushed candy canes
Large mixing bowl, wooden spoon, wax paper, rolling pin, cookie cutters, lifter, baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

1.       Preheat oven to 315 degrees
2.       Beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add 12 drops of peppermint flavouring (I used ¼ tsp of vanilla). Add the flour and mix thoroughly  (you’ll probably have to use your hands for this step).
3.       Roll out some of the dough until it is ¼ in thick. Cut out using cookie cutters. (Dip the cutter into flour each time to keep it from sticking to dough). Using lifter, transfer to cookie sheet. Sprinkle a little crushed candy cane on each cookie.
4.       Bake 12-15 minutes, until firm and very pale. Cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooking area. 

This is my first time to make shortbread, and it is quite tasty. I think these cookies would be fairly easy to make with kids. The book has some good tips for young bakers!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Day 8: Snickerdoodles

They must love to bake in Annapolis Royal, because today's cookies again hail from there. Dorothy McDonald, the Branch Manager, has made Snickerdoodles from Betty Crocker's Best Loved Recipes.

Here's the recipe for this fun-to-say cookie:

1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. margarine or butter, softened
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
2. Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, margarine, shortening and eggs thoroughly. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt until blended. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls.
3. Mix 2 Tbsp. sugar and the cinnamon, roll balls into mixture. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until set, 8-10 minutes. Immediately remove from cookie sheet.

Note: Watch these carefully. Definitely check at 8 minutes. They are a nice, light cookie - nothing fancy, but tasty. And so much fun to say Snickerdoodle!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Day 7: Two Moons

Sandie Troop, who works at the Annapolis Royal Branch, has baked Two Moons, a rolled ice-box style cookie with chocolate and pecans. Her recipe is from the book The Joy of Cooking: Christmas Cookies. Sandie's cookies will be at the Windsor branch today.

Here's the recipe for Two Moons:

Cream together:
7 oz unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar

1 large egg lightly beaten

Add, 1/4 cup at a time:
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour

Divide the dough in half. Wrap half in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Divide the remaining dough in half.

Knead into 1 piece:
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (Sandie toasted them)

Knead into remaining piece:
1 1/2 oz finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (Sandie used
Callibault chocolate)

Roll each flavored dough into a 10 inch long cylinder. On a lightly floured
surface, roll the chilled dough into an 11 x  9 inch rectangle and cut in
half lengthwise.

Brush with:
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Place 1 flavored cylinder in the centre of each rectangle. Completely
encircle each cylinder with the dough, gently smoothing the seams at the
bottom and ends.

Brush the logs with:
1 large egg beaten
and roll in:
1/2 cup coarse sugar crystals

Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 4 hours.

To Bake:
Preheat the oven to 400*. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or
greased aluminum foil. Slice each roll into 36 cookies and place on the
sheets. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. store airtight for
several days or freeze for up to one month.

Sandie says:  "I have chosen this recipe because I'm super busy right now and this reads like an icebox cookie recipe so I can fit this into my life when I have
time. It makes a lot and I won't be snitching bits of yummy cookie dough
if it's rolled into a log and then sliced."

Monday, 12 December 2011

Day 6: Brandy Snaps

Lynn Manning, who works at the Kentville Branch, has made Brandy Snaps, from page 18 of the Gourmet Cookie Book. This book features the best cookie recipe from each year of Gourmet magazine's 68-year publication. Lynn's cookies will be at the Kentville branch today!

Here's the recipe:
Heat together in a saucepan 1-1/2 cups each butter and sugar and 1 cup molasses, stirring the mixture until it is well blended.  Stir in 4 teaspoons powdered ginger, remove the pan from the heat, and add 3 cups sifted all purpose flour, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.  Drop the batter from the tip of a spoon onto a buttered cookie sheet, allowing 2 inches between the wafers.  Bake in a slow oven (300F) for about 12 minutes, or until they are nicely browned.

Remove from pan immediately with a spatula (I used a steel one) and roll wafers over a wooden stick or the handle of a wooden spoon, (I used a 9 mm knitting needle).  Or, if preferred, shape them into cones.  Store the brandy snaps in airtight containers. 

Lynn’s Recipe Notes

  1. Use about 2 teaspoons batter for each cookie.
  2. Be sure to remove the snaps from the baking sheet while they’re still warm and immediately roll them around the wooden stick.
  3. Work quickly.  Return the cookies to the oven for a few seconds if they cool and become hard to roll.
  4. Brandy snaps not only keep well, they taste better on the second day.
  5. Recipe says it makes 18 to 20 dozen cookies. Ha! I was lucky to get 8 dozen.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Day 5: Gingerbread People

Today's cookies are baked by Wendy Kearnes, Outreach Services Manager.  She's made gingerbread people from Mrs. Fields Best Ever Cookie Book, page 81. Stop by the Bookmobile at the Bridgetown Library today from 2-4 PM, and you might be able to try one of these delightful treats!

 Here's the recipe:

3 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup salted butter
1 large egg
½ cup unsulphurized  molasses

2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons milk

About 2 ½ dozen 6-inch cookies
About 3 ½ dozen 4-inch cookies

Preheat oven to 325 F. Combine flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a medium bowl. In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream butter and sugar. Scrape down the sides  of the bowl. Add egg and molasses, and beat on medium speed until smooth. Scrape bowl and add the flour mixture. Blend on low speed just until combined; do not overmix. Separate dough into 2 balls and flatten into disks. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap or a plastic bag, and refrigerate 1 hour until firm. On floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll dough out to ¼ inch thickness. With floured cookie cutters, cut into gingerbread men. Gather scraps and reroll dough until all dough is used. Place on ungreased cookie sheets ½ inch apart. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes being careful not to brown. Transfer to a cool, flat surface with a spatula. Prepare the icing: Whisk sugar and milk together in a small bowl until mixture is smooth but liquid. If it seems dry, add ¼ teaspoon more milk. Spoon icing into a pastry bag fitted with a small piping tip. Decorate gingerbread men as desired.

Wendy says she used Scribblers (pre-made icing), and this is a fun (and quick) option for decorating the ginger people with kids. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Day 4: Triple Chocolate Cookies

Today's cookies come from Charlotte Janes, Head of Systems & Administration. She's made some decadent Triple Chocolate Cookies from the book, Robin Hood home baking: from cookies & cakes to pizza, pot pies, and more. Don't they look enticing? These cookies are making their way to the Hantsport Library today.

Here's the recipe, with some comments from Charlotte:
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees

1 cup butter softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (I use white chocolate chips)

Cream butter in a large bowl on medium speed of electric mixer until light.  Gradually beat in brown and granulated sugars, egg and vanilla until smooth.  Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add to creamed mixture, beating on low speed until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using).

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls, about 2 inches apart, on greased cookie sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until set.  Cool for 5 minutes on sheet, then transfer to rack and cool completely.

These freeze really well.  My kids say these are to die for.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Cookies from YOU!

Gingerbread Cookie Mix in a Jar, baked by Diana in Lawrencetown, from the book Christmas Gifts from the Kitchen.

Day 3: Pecan Turtle Brownies

Connie Jodrey, Bridgetown's Branch Manager, has baked Pecan Turtle Brownies from Debbie Macomber's Christmas Cookbook.

Connie will be sharing these treats with the attendees at the library program in Bridgetown this evening (which is filled to capacity).

Here's the recipe:

¼  cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream
¼  tsp salt
¼  cup water
2 tbsp corn syrup
1 ¼  cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter
½  tsp vanilla extract

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
4 ounces  semisweet chocolate chips
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
20 pecan halves, toasted

1.        For caramel: Pour cream into a glass measuring cup; stir in salt to dissolve.  In a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine water and corn syrup.  Gently stir sugar into pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Cook for 4 minutes, until sugar is completely dissolved, without stirring.  Uncover and cook for 4 minutes, without stirring.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for 2 more minutes, until golden and a candy thermometer registers about 360 degrees F.
2.       Remove pot from heat and carefully pour cream into center of pot.  Mixture will bubble vigorously; stir until cream is incorporated.  Once bubbling eases, stir in butter and vanilla.  Lightly coat a glass measuring cup with butter; pour caramel into prepared cup.

3.       For brownies: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Set oven rack to lower-middle position.  Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, letting foil hang over sides of pan.  Lightly butter bottom and sides of foil.
4.       In a medium heatproof bowl, combine butter, semisweet and unsweetened chocolates.  Microwave until melted, stirring at least once; set aside to cool.
5.       In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla until blended.  Whisk cooled chocolate mixture into egg mixture.  Fold in flour mixture until blended.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Drizzle about ¼ of the caramel over top.  Using tip of a knife, swirl caramel and batter.  Bake for 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

6.       Warm remaining caramel (you should have about ¾ cup) in microwave until pourable to still thick (do not boil), stirring once.  Pour caramel over brownies; evenly spread caramel.  Refrigerate brownies, uncovered, for at least 2 hours.
7.       Using foil extensions lift cold brownies from pan.  Run a knife around edges of brownies to loosen sides from foil (caramel may stick).  Peel away foil.  Using a sharp knife, cut brownies into squares.  Press a pecan half onto middle of each brownie.

Connie's tips:  Pour the finished caramel directly into a glass measuring cup that has been sprayed with nonstick spray or coated with butter.  This makes for safe reheating in the microwave, foolproof pouring and easy clean-up. Also:  the 35 minute cooking time seemed way too short.  I continued cooking the brownies, checking every five minutes or so, until they were done, probably another 15 minutes or so.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Day 2: Pistachio & Almond cookies

Wendy Trimper, Head of Branch Services, has created some lovely Pistachio and Almond Cookies from the book Cookies: 200 Inspirational Cookie Recipes 

Her cookies are going to be in Lawrencetown. Here's the recipe:
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tsp almond extract
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
heaping 1/2 cup ground almonds
1/3 cup pistachios, finely chopped

Place the butter & sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg yolk and almond extract.  Sift together the flour and salt into the mixture, add the ground almonds, and stir until thoroughly combined.  Halve the dough, shape into balls, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Unwrap the dough and roll out between 2 sheets of parchment paper to about 1/8 inch/3 mm thick.  Sprinkle half the pistachios over each piece of dough and roll lightly with the rolling pin.  Cut out cookies with cutter and place them on the baking sheets, spaced well apart.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

With Pistachio Cream -
Whisk scant 1 cup heavy cream to soft peaks with 2 tablespoons of confectioners' sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of green food coloring.  Fold in 1/2 cup chopped pistachios and spoon into a bowl, then use as a dip for the cookies.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Day 1: Espresso Shortbread

 Sally MacDonald, who works at our Headquarters Office, has baked Espresso Shortbread from Martha Stewart's Holidays: recipes, gifts, and decorations, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Perfect treat with a cup of tea or coffee on a cold winter's day. Sally's cookies are making their way to the Annapolis Royal branch today!

Here's the recipe:
Espresso Shortbread


A simple shortbread with a sophisticated coffee flavor
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon powdered instant coffee
2 ¼ cups sifted all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and coffee. 
Sift together flour and salt ; add to butter mixture and beat well.
2. Chill dough until firm.
3. Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
4. Roll dough ¼ inch thick and cut into 2-inch-by 5-inch bars. 
Prick with a fork. Score middles of bars with a knife.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Sally's Tips: Since I can’t leave any recipe alone, I changed this a bit. I used the same ingredients, but I divided the dough into two equal parts and pressed each part into an 8” round pan. I pricked all over with a fork and baked in a 275 degree F. oven for about an hour. As soon as they were removed from the oven, I cut them into 16 equal segments with a sharp knife. Then I let them cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing them to cooling racks.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

12 Days of Cookies - How to enter

Want to join in on our 12 Days of Cookies? Here's how you can participate, and maybe even win a gift card! 

  • Bake a cookie recipe from a book you borrowed from the library, send us the book title and a picture of your cookies, and you’ll be entered into a random draw for gift cards.
  • Selected entries will be posted on our 12 Days of Cookies blog page. All complete entries will be entered into the draw.

To enter, send the following, by email, to this address -

Please use the subject “12 Cookies” or your entry may appear as spam.

1) Book title (must be a book that is available through the AVRL libraries)
2) Name of the cookie recipe
3) Photograph of your baked cookies (must be your own photo)
4) Your name, email address, town you live in, and phone number, in case you win!
5) All entries must be received by midnight on December 20, 2011. You may submit more than one cookie, but your name will only be entered once.

By entering you agree that if your cookies are chosen to appear on our blog page, you allow your first name and town to be posted along with the entry. Personal information will not be used for any purpose other than this contest.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

12 Days. 12 Cookies. 12 Books.

The staff at Annapolis Valley Regional Library invite you to share in the joy of cookies.  For twelve days in December, staff will be baking – and sharing – cookies. Each recipe will be shared online via Twitter @valleylibs and Facebook, on our website, and here, on this blog. The cookies will be sent around to various branches, so you might even get to taste them!

Staff will bake a recipe, photograph it, and share the recipe and book on our blog. “This is a fun way to showcase the library’s collection of cookbooks, especially during the holidays when many people are baking.”, says Frances Newman, Regional Librarian.  The staff of AVRL invites everyone to take a look and see what we are baking on December 5-9, December 12-16, and December 19-20.