Oatmeal Cookie Dough with Rum Raisins

oatmeal cookie dough | Zoë Bakes photo by Zoë François

As many of you know, cookies were my first foray into the world of being a “professional” baker. Okay, I was 19, had zero clues what I was doing, but I loved cookies and so did everyone I fed them to. Since those first days baking cookies for my Zoë’s Cookies cart, I have probably eaten my body weight in cookie dough. It is one of the best parts of making cookies. Truth be told it has never made me at all squeamish to eat raw dough, but that’s just me and I know a lot of people are and maybe for good reason. So, when I heard about Dō, a cookie dough shop in NYC, I thought it was so brilliant and wondered how that took so long. I had the great pleasure of meeting Kristen Tomlan when I did an event in Brooklyn this spring and she’s just as fun and lovely as her cookie dough empire. Her method of making the cookie dough safe to eat is brilliant.

When her book came I immediately made the chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies to pack up and send to my son at college. He said the chocolate chip cookies were immediately devoured by the kids in his dorm and he hid the oatmeal cookies so he could eat them without sharing. That’s my boy! One thing Kristen and I disagree on is what’s appropriate to add into the oatmeal cookie dough. She is very clear in the book about her disdain for raisins and I am TEAM RAISIN ALL THE WAY! I soaked them in rum and tossed them in without apology, despite her begging us not to violate her dough with the dried fruit. 😉 And, they were so delicious I made more to eat myself. 

oatmeal cookie dough | Zoë Bakes photo by Zoë François

You will find the Oatmeal (Raisin) Cookies in Kristen’s book Hello, Cookie Dough and here is a link to her Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Rum Raisin add-in goes like this: 1 cup of raisins soaked in 1/4 cup rum for at least 30 minutes. Drain the excess rum before adding to the dough.

oatmeal cookie dough | Zoë Bakes photo by Zoë François

Chocolate Chip Cookies 101

Chocolate Chip Cookies 101 | Everything you need to make the best chocolate chip cookies ever. | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

When I was at the University of Vermont studying theater, studio art, English lit, philosophy, photography, Latin, art history and everything else a Liberal Arts Degree offers, I decided to throw a business class into the mix. Truth is, I was just fulfilling a math credit requirement. I learned how to balance a checkbook and some basic—very basic—accounting, which went something like this … don’t spend more than you make! Then the professor had us write a business plan. It was the mid-1980s and I grew up eating Mrs. Field’s, David’s and Famous Amos cookies, which were the “gourmet” cookies of the day. While in college I was also the “baker” at a favorite breakfast joint in Winooski, VT and spent my free time baking to relax after classes. So, I wrote my business plan based on a fictitious cookie company called Zoë’s Cookies. I can’t remember how I did in the class, but six months later I was standing on Church Street in Burlington, VT, selling my cookies from a hand-pushed cart.

This post is your chocolate chip cookie primer: the result of what I learned making those cookies and the countless batches I’ve baked in the 32 years since then. This post offers a really great chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it is also a Chocolate Chip Cookies 101. I want to explain what the ingredients do to a cookie and how baking can change them. You can tweak your cookies to be just how you like them using my cookie guide towards the bottom of the post.

Read More

Christmas Croquembouche

Christmas Croquembouche | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

A croquembouche (kroke-em-boosh) is a tower of profiteroles (cream puffs) stuck together with a thin layer of crisp caramel, which gives the dessert its name, “crocque em bouche” or “crunches in the mouth.” This dramatic pile of puffs is typically served at weddings, but I’ve taken liberties and find it a worthy dessert for any big occasion.

A Christmas Croquembouche seems like the perfect way to celebrate this holiday season. The puffs are made of choux paste and are filled with mango pastry cream, which isn’t a flavor you might think of for a Christmas dessert, but it is such a wonderful contrast to the sweet of the caramel. When you break into the cream puffs you’ll find the rich, creamy golden filling.  

Read More

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons on a glass cake stand

These chocolate dipped coconut macaroons are from The Great Minnesota Cookie Book by Rick Nelson and Lee Svitak Dean. I often bake from books written by other bakers I admire, but sometimes inspiration comes, not from the professionals, but from our neighbors. The recipes they grew up baking, from their family traditions, have been time tested and in this case, have won first prize in the Star Tribune Holiday Cookie Contest.

Read More