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November/December 2010 BCTM: Maida Heatter's COOKIES- Hand Formed and Bar

Our baking cookbook for November/December 2010 is Maider Heatter's COOKIES, anyhwhere you can find them.

Please use this thread to discuss Maider Heatter Hand Formed and Bar Cookie recipes. When posting your review, include the source. If the source is a book, include the book name and page number; and if it you found your recipe online, post a link.

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  1. Maida Heatter's Cookies (1997)
    Palm Beach Pineapple Squares pg. 138

    A dessert I like is warm chocolate pudding spooned over fresh pineapple. (sorry, Lulu's Mom! ;>)
    So these 2-layer bars became my first Maida Heatter effort. They are cakelike-- a little drier than a brownie, I'd say, with walnuts in chocolate batter on the bottom, and crushed pineapple in white batter on the top. Finely grated lemon rind in the pineapple mix brings out the flavor.
    I dusted a buttered pan with "fine, dry bread crumbs" as instructed, but wouldn't do that again--parchment paper would be my choice. The butter & sugar gets creamed (she used a stand mixer, I just have a hand mixer). The white batter is then made with eggs, vanilla, the "drys". You take out a cup of this--it gets mixed with the pineapple and set aside. Then (melted unsweetened) chocolate is stirred into the remaining batter, chopped walnuts too, and it is spread into the baking pan. Plop spoonfuls of the pineapple batter on top, smooth a bit, and bake.
    The results are tasty, but not exciting. Mr. blue room agreed, he'd rather have an actual brownie or an actual pineapple cake/cookie of some kind. I like the idea of 2 layers very much--both for looks and the fun of making them, but probably wouldn't do these again.

    1. The Fudge Brownies are my definitive brownie. I don't like my brownies too moist or gooey and these are just cakey enough but still very dense and chocolatey. The key, as Heatter says in the recipe, is not to overbeat the eggs. I stare at my watch and make sure not to beat the eggs for more than 30 seconds. From Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Cookies p 78.

      The Hermit Bars are my gold standard of what a hermit should be. From Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Cookies p. 99.

      Florida Lemon Squares are really easy and always a big hit. They freeze well. From Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Cookies p. 94.

      Coconut Pennies are really tasty.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Velda Mae

        I made the hermit bars last night, with a few small changes based on what I had on hand. I had no mace, so I doubled the nutmeg, and I added 1/2 tsp. ground ginger and some vanilla (they also have cinnamon, cloves, and allspice). I used half dark raisins and half golden raisins, and walnuts instead of pecans. The glaze calls for melted butter, powdered sugar, boiling water, and vanilla, to be brushed on when the bars are hot. I used my last stick of butter for the cookies, so instead of the glaze in the recipe, I used a simple one made from sifted powdered sugar and Meyer lemon juice, which I put on the cooled bars when they were still in the pan.

        I pulled these at 25 minutes (book says 30), but they ended up a bit overbaked and are a little dry, though not fatally so, and I really like the mellow spice flavor. The lemon glaze complements it very well, better than plain vanilla I think. A parchment paper sling made it easy to get them out of the pan to cut.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          This is a long time favorite recipe - the lemon glaze sound like an inspired and wonderful addition. I'm gonna make a note in the book and try it next time. Thanks!

          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            Yes, I'll do these with lemon too, or maybe half the batch lemon and half the batch vanilla to compare.

        2. From Maida Heatter’s Brand-new Book of Great Cookies p.79 the Palm Beach Brownies with Chocolate Covered Mints - I love these brownies and the wonderful minty flavor - they tend to brown a bit around the edges so I usually trim those off and keep for myself:)

          1. Hermit Bars pg. 140 Maida Heatter's Cookies 1997
            Caitlin McGrath and Velda Mae both liked these, and I do too! My pan is glass so I baked them at 325F. I wanted to do a lemon glaze but found myself with only an orange, so used that instead--worked fine. I've never used mace--I had a little bag of mace shavings from a friend so I mortar & pestled 'em into powder. These are very good--very glad I tried these, and *he* likes them too.

            1. Made a nice one from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Cookies from the 1970's - "Viennese Chocolate-Walnut Bars" - a dark brown sugar pastry base (1 stick butter, 1/4 c dark brown sugar, 1 1/4 c sifted flour - I didn't, just went a bit light on it), supposed to be made in the mixer, creaming the butter and sugar together and then adding the flour until it comes together, I did it in the FP, baked 10 mins at 375, topped with 1/4 c apricot preserves (a very scant layer), then a layer of 6 oz finely-chopped walnuts, 3/4 c dark brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 2 TB cocoa, 1/4 tsp salt (did the filling in the FP too, you are supposed to do the walnuts in the blender or a nut grinder, beat the eggs and sugar together until thickened, then beat again 2-3 mins withe the cocoa, then add the other ingredients - I ground the walnuts with the sugar and bunged everything else in, and let 'er rip for a couple of mins) baked on top of the crust for 25 mins, to be let cool and topped with an icing of 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted, 2 Tb light corn syrup, 2 tsp rum, 2 tsp boiling water, and 2 oz walnuts cut medium fine. Allow to set until the icing is firm then cut into bars.
              Sounded very appealing and smells great. Have had this book forever, not sure why I never made it - maybe because the ingrerdients were expensive on a student budget.

              2 Replies
              1. re: buttertart

                I've gotten used to buying butter, and over the years increasingly more expensive chocolate and cocoa powder. Just now though, doing Maida Heatter and David Lebovitz and Paula Wolfert the problem has been the price of liquor and liqueurs! Cognac, Armagnac, Pernod, Grand Marnier --
                that's $150 easy, I'll bet! Little by little I'll have a good collection--meanwhile I substitute like crazy.
                Too bad they don't sell (at least not in Utah) little alcohol samplers just for cooking.

                1. re: blue room

                  That is a good point. We're pretty well stocked in that department but it seems there's always something we don't have that a recipe calls for.

              2. Maida Heatters's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies
                Pecan Passion p.48

                I've been somewhat out the loop on the BCTM, even though the idea really appealed. But I had to bake something for my daughter's dive meet tomorrow so I thought this was a good chance to dig into Maida Heatter's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies. I really liked the look of Brandied Fruit Bars but I decided they probably weren't appropriate for a bunch of teenage divers. But I will definitely make them for an adult occasion.

                So I chose Pecan Passion (perhaps more appropriate for teenagers under their original name of Turtle Bars). A dense chocolate layer is the base then a gooey layer of caramel and toasted pecans. I love these (of course I had to test them before I take them tomorrow). They really are like the bar version of Turtles.

                1 Reply
                1. Christmas Fruitcake Bars - Maida Heatter's Cookies ... p. 139

                  These are chewy and festive and can be pretty much whatever flavor you like. The recipe calls for enough flour/eggs/brown sugar to hold together 4 1/2 cups of fruit and nuts. M. Heatter uses raisins (I used golden raisins), walnuts and dates (me too) and candied cherries and pineapple. I substituted dried strawberries for the cherries. Also some 1/4 inch cubes of candied citron, which look like little jewels
                  but don't add much IMO--could have stuck with the walnuts & strawberries. A little vanilla and a little orange zest, then bake, cool, cut into bars. She covers with powdered sugar, I didn't.
                  Not boozy like actual fruitcake (and weeks/months faster!) but if you like this kind of treat I think it's a recipe you can play with & change but still trust to become good cookie bars.

                  1. Brandied Fruit Bars - Maida Heatter's Brand-New Book of Great Cookies p.51

                    A Swedish friend had a glögg party last night, a lot of fun and I made four different cookies for it. The only one not from the Swedish Cakes and Cookies book I had borrowed from the library was these bar cookies. I used dried blueberries, cherries, apricots, cranberries, figs and prunes plus toasted pecans. The fruit was soaked in brandy overnight (Maida recommends a minimum of 3 hours) Great flavor, like a fruit cake but lighter. Like the Christmas Fruitcake Bars that blue room baked, the batter just holds together the fruit and nuts.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: JaneEYB

                      Let me be bad (OT) and ask what cookies from the Swedish book? I have it and haven't baked from it.

                      1. re: buttertart

                        My friend has an egg allergy so I made two cookies that contained no eggs. Coconut dreams were quite plain but tasty, little ball cookies that didn't spread at all so you need to flatten the balls which isn't in the instructions. The other egg-free cookie was Chocolate cigars which were my favorite of the three, a soft, shortbread like texture. I used ground hazelnuts rather than walnuts and they looked very cute with their ends all dipped in dark chocolate. The third was one with eggs, Almond jitterbugs. This was a rolled spiral cookie with an almond paste filling. The pastry was incredibly crumbly and didn't hold together when I was making the roll and cutting the cookie slices. If I make it again I will either add another egg yolk or some iced water to the pastry. But they looked cute (after I'd patched them up) and tasted good.

                        I wouldn't say any of these rated as great cookies, though the cigars were very good. I just wanted to fit into the Swedish theme and it was fun to do something completely different.

                    2. Dutch Chocolate Bars (Book of Great Cookies, p. 82)

                      As I posted in the master thread, I first noticed this recipe because of the cute post-it note stuck to it. This is a two-layer bar, with a crust and brownie filling. The crust has a small amount of flour (1/3 cup), rolled oats, finely chopped pecans, brown sugar, baking powder and salt, and melted butter. I browned the butter. The filling is melted butter and unsweetened chocolate, sugar, egg, flour, baking soda, salt. I felt that with just 1 ounce of chocolate, it might not be as chocolaty as I'd prefer, so I used a couple of tablespoons of cocoa in place of the same in flour.

                      When I added the butter to the crust mixture, it looked like a crisp topping. I thought maybe I should add some more, but noted she says it will be crumbly and won't hold together, so I went on. Perhaps I should have slightly upped the butter to compensate for the solids left behind when I browned the butter but that wasn't much. Unfortunately, the crust was very crumbly and as I cut the bars, there was left behind a big pile of oats, etc. I think there isn't enough flour to really hold all of it in a solid layer. Despite that problem, and despite the edges being overdone, they tasted quite good, and disappeared at a Hanukkah dinner.

                      1. Made Charlie Brown's Peanut Cookies, and they are as much of a PITA as I remember, and as good. My son helped me, which made the whole thing go faster. After mixing the dough, you then form into 36 balls of dough, roll those in a egg white wash, and then into chopped dry roasted peanuts. You then put the cookies on a sheet, make a well in the center, which you fill with peanut butter and then cover the peanut butter with mini chocolate chips. They are somehow larger than I remembered, and according to my taster, fabulous. I have been beating them off with sticks ever since the came out of the oven. Yesterday I made coconut pyramids, and my son declared them the best cookie I ever made. Today, these were the best cookie I ever made. LOL, I think I made the best cookie I ever made all throughout the Christmas season!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: roxlet

                          Certainly sounds like it, and that sounds both like a PITA to make and a seriously good cookie. Her Peanut Planks (in the cookie book that came out in the '90's) are very good, by the way.