blueberry cookies and a casual addiction

There’s this thing that happens when you’re a twenty-something girl who upgraded from a Blackberry to an iPhone about six months ago. Suddenly, everything becomes a bit… filtered.

Did you do a particularly awesome job wrapping your Christmas presents?

Christmas presents

Instagram it.

Are you totally bummed because it’s a gloomy January morning and your Americano didn’t come in a festive red cup?

Starbucks cup

Instagram it.

Did you bake cookies with your sister on her brand new KitchenAid stand mixer and forget your real camera at home?

brown sugar blueberry cookies

… you Instagram the hell out of those adorable little nuggets. What else is there to do?

I won’t say I’m obsessed, especially compared to the addiction some of the friends I follow have clearly developed. But there’s just something about a square, antiqued photo of other people’s food that has my heart. And these little cookies are just so perfectly imperfect and homemade-looking, they were destined to be Instagrammed. Seriously, you can practically smell the warm cinnamon through the touchscreen.

This is less of a recipe post and more of a recommendation- my sister and broke in the stand mixer she got for her wedding by baking up a batch of brown sugar blueberry cookies from How Sweet It Is. My brother-in-law isn’t a fan of chocolate (I know, right??) so we wanted to find a recipe that even he couldn’t resist and boy, did we succeed.

We made them about half size just because we like our cookies adorable, but otherwise we followed the recipe just as Jessica wrote it, so head on over there for the recipe and have yourself a nice little drool-fest over her gorgeous photos. And then make them. You owe it to yourself, you really do.

These taste exactly like cookiefied blueberry muffins and I can’t really think of anything better than cookiefied muffins. I can’t wait to remix this recipe with different mix-ins and executions- the dough is ideal for nearly any big, soft, chewy cookie you want to make. And again, I dare you to think of anything better than big, soft, chewy cookies.

I think my favorite part of baking with my sister was being able to teach her things. She’s my big sister and I’ve followed in her footsteps in quite a few different ways – same university, partly the same major, same first job out of college – but in the kitchen, I have the chance to show her something new and it’s just so much fun. I can’t wait to come over and bake with her even more in the future, and not just because she’s the one with the big fancy Kitchenaid, I promise ;)

Food Photography Shame and Jam-Striped Vanilla Bean Cookies

When I’m in the mood to try a new recipe, I play one of two games: one is “What Would Happen If…” and the other, which I tried on this day, is “What’s in the Pantry.” This past summer, I had an unused vanilla bean left over from The Night of the Awful Scones. (So bad! So very depressingly bad.) Since I completely abandoned that scone recipe, I had a vanilla bean without a home.

Vanilla bean jam stripes

I had recently seen a delicious-looking recipe for Jam Striped Lemon Cookies over at Clockwork Lemon, so I made it work for what I had at hand- vanilla beans, strawberry jam, and apricot preserves. While I did them in long strips and sliced them, I think this recipe would also work great as a thumbprint cookie. The cookie is really wonderfully light and buttery and the jam makes them just chewy enough for my liking. I also love that the recipe seems to be very adaptable – I’d love to try the original lemon cookie with raspberry jam, but it held up to my random flavor adjustments quite well.

IMG_3588

By the way, how about those photos, eh? The composition! The angles! The I-obviously-baked-these-well-after-sundown of it all! It hurts me too, trust me. I read/stalk enough other foodie blogs to know what a good cookie photo looks like and I’m not looking at any right now. I’m just taking solace in the fact that I know they’re bad photos. I once heard a very reassuring speech on creativity with a moral that was approximately the following: If you know you suck, at least that means you have taste. You just don’t have the skill to meet your own standards yet. So there’s that. I have style, I just can’t make it happen quite yet. To growth!

Jam Striped Vanilla Bean Cookies (slightly adapted from Clockwork Lemon)

Yield: about 40 inch-wide cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 split and scraped vanilla bean
¾ cup softened butter
1 large egg
1 and ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
Jam of your choice

Stir together flour, sugar and baking powder. Beat in the butter, egg, vanilla bean, and vanilla extract until dough comes together. Divide the dough into 4 equal-sized balls, cover in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator 15-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Working with one ball at a time, knead and squeeze the dough into a rope 12”-13” long. Place on the parchment and flatten into a strip about one inch wide. Repeat with other balls of dough. Using your fingers, make a depression down the center of each strip. Use your fingers to pinch the edges into a wall that can hold the jam, being careful not to make the bottom too thin to hold the jam after baking.
Fill the channel with jam. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges are slightly golden.
Slide parchment from the baking sheets and slice cookies diagonally while they are still warm.