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10 delicious facts you never knew about Girl Scout cookies

Just in time to spoil your New Year’s Resolution, badge-covered vest wearing Girl Scouts arrive at your door with their brilliant fundraising idea — cookies.  Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs: You know you can’t resist. If you haven’t placed your order yet this year, better hurry. More than 2.6 million Girl Scouts in the United States will be turning in their cookie orders soon. And while you’re looking forward to receiving your cookies sometime in weeks that follow, its also worth reflecting on the storied past of these iconic cookies. The entrepreneurial cookie initiative dates back a whole lot further than you might expect. So listen up and earn your merit badge for the day with these 10 facts about Girl Scout cookies. 1. Home baked business In 1917, just five years after Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts in Savannah, Georgia, the Mistletoe Troop in Muskogee, Oklahoma decided to sell cookies…

Queen Elizabeth’s pastry chefs share her favorite gingerbread biscuit recipe

Mince pies and Christmas pudding aren’t the only sweet treats served at Buckingham Palace, of course. Luckily for those of us not dining with the Royals this holiday, a palace pastry chef has revealed (via the Official Royal Family Website) another one of the Queen’s festive favorites — gingerbread biscuits. And the secret recipe has been shared online for you to try. With only a few ingredients, it’s the kind of recipe you can whip up last minute with ingredients you already have if you’re behind on your holiday baking. Of course the decoration on the biscuits at Buckingham Palace will be the definition of perfection, while the rest of us are left to struggle with keeping the lines straight, but none-the-less, it will be fun to have a taste of one of the things the beloved monarchy loves most at her Christmas table. One tip offered by a royal…

How to tell if your edible glitter is actually safe to eat

This time of year, we’re up to our elbows in cookie dough. While decorating the finished product has always been the most fun part of baking, the Food and Drug Administration has warned that some products we use to decorate our holiday cookies aren’t actually edible. It turns out that the dust and glitters you find at the store — yes, even in the food aisles — aren’t always edible. So if you’re shopping for sparkles for your Christmas cupcakes or shimmer powder for your NYE disco ball cookies, you’ll want to take a closer look at the packaging. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s edible and what’s purely aesthetic once you know what to look for. Companies that make edible decorations including glitter and twinkle dust are regulated by the FDA and, just like any other food, are required by law to list the ingredients on the…

Apricot Pinwheel Cookies

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without these dainty, bright orange apricot-filled cookies brightening up the table. The melt-in-your-mouth cream cheese pastry dough and light fresh, apricot filling are too good not to share this holiday season. I remember my grandmother saying these cookies were an Italian tradition, yet, much like the handful of Italian slang words she spoke, I’m not sure how much validity there is to that claim. I’ve found links to similar Hungarian and Polish recipes, and even a few from Finland. Regardless of their origins, this cookie has become a Christmas classic. You’ll often see similar cookies on mixed catered cookie trays in a basic roll shape —but those cookies don’t even compare to the perfection of these little wonders. Plus, the pinwheel shape adds some extra fun for the season. My aunt (who has literally made our family thousands of these little time consuming cookies in her…

Avoid these 10 common baking mistakes for better baked goods

Sometimes that fun afternoon in the kitchen turns into a stressful battle with baked goods. There are some mistakes that even seasoned bakers continue to make. Here are a few easily avoidable mistakes that can help you correct your process, and return baking to a productive, enjoyable activity. 1. You check your oven too often. Naturally, you want to see the reward of your hard work, so you open the oven to take a peek. But know that opening the oven, even a tiny crack, released enough hot air to change the temperature in the oven. This can mean an undercooked or unevenly baked cake. If you must check, use the little light switch on your oven — that’s what it’s there for. 2. You don’t really read the recipe. If you’re guilty of jumping right into a recipe, you’re setting yourself up for some major mistakes later. Read through…

Ginger Pear Bread Recipe

This time of year pears are seemingly available everywhere, but it wasn’t always that way. Pears are native to Asia and Europe, so the first pear tree wasn’t planted in North America until 1620 in the Massachusetts Bay colony. Today, there are more than 3,000 varieties of pears grown around the world. The U.S. is the third largest producer, with most of the commercial crop coming from Washington and Oregon. California, Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan are also top growers. While pears are in season, try this bread with fresh fruit. You can used the canned stuff in the off season. Just like banana bread, this recipe is a great way to use up slightly over-ripe pears. The flavor is not overly sweet, so you’ll find it delicious for a lighter breakfast.  The pear ginger combination is an interesting alternative to other more common breads like apple or zucchini. This…

Sand dollar sugar cookies make a splash for Shark Week

Shark Week returns to the Discovery Channel this Sunday. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the annual Shark Week event, so expect new television shows centered on the sea’s most fascinating predators. Over the past three decades, the mid-summer shark series has gained quite the following — it’s practically a national holiday at this point. The shadowy feeling shows air just as many Americans are heading to the beach, increasing the nervous anticipation of a run-in with the ocean’s apex predator. But fear not! As the series frequently demonstrates, sharks want nothing to do with you, mere human. So instead, celebrate! Dare to sink your teeth into these delicious sand dollar sugar cookies. They’ll make a big splash at the office or at your own home-viewing party. They stack well too, so take them to the beach or give them as a pretty summer-inspired gift. Sand Dollar Sugar Cookies Ingredients 3/4 cup butter, softened 3/4…

Patriotic thumbprint cookies

Where I’m from, thumbprint cookies seem to have a place at every holiday get-together. For Christmas and Easter we roll them in nuts and make icing centers coordinate with the season. At Valentine’s Day, we make them chocolate. And now for Fourth of July we dress them up with star sprinkles. These thumbprint cookies have a delicious sweet and tangy flavor. The vanilla and raspberry are perfect companions. And the red, white, blue sprinkles make them fun and ready for the Fourth! Patriotic thumbprint cookies Makes about 3 dozen cookies Ingredients 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour 2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 1 cup butter, room temperature 1 cup white sugar 2 tsp vanilla extract 1 egg white icing 1/4 cup sprinkles 1/8 cup raspberry jam Directions Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set…

Springtime lime cookies

These lime cookies are buttery and bursting with tangy citrus flavor. They’ll remind you of a pleasant spring day. Enjoy alone or with tea or milk. Just enjoy them before some else does — These cookies never last long! Springtime lime cookies Ingredients Icing 1/3 cup confectioners sugar 2 tbsp lime juice 1 tbsp butter, room temperature 1 tbsp lime zest Cookies 2 tbsp lime juice 1/3 cup milk 1/2 cup butter, room temperature 3/4 cup white sugar 1 egg 2 tbsp lime zest 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp baking soda Directions Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a small cup, combine the milk and 2 tbsp of lime juice. Let stand for up to 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add 2 tbsp lime zest and the…

Chocolate raspberry thumbprints to love

Raspberry and chocolate. Need I say more? This classic combo is easy to love on Valentine’s Day or anytime you want to treat yourself — or someone else! — to something special. I wanted a quick cookie that could ship easily to those I love overseas and across country. With protection of a cookie tin and a few layers of wax paper to separate, these did the job beautifully — thanks for the idea Saving Room for Dessert.  Chocolate raspberry thumbprints Ingredients 2 cups flour, leveled 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 tsp salt 1 cup sugar 2 sticks butter (1 cup), room temperature 1 egg yolk 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 cup raspberry jam, stirred (seeded or unseeded) Optional: 2 tbsp milk Optional: crushed pistachios, Directions In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar…