Thank you, Saturday.
It’s been a long week, full of “new parent” things. Now, before you people-parents get all angry, I’m not trying to minimize what you do, but I’ve learned this week that being a pet parent can be a whole lotta stressful, too. Especially in that first getting to know you phase: figuring out the schedule (so, breakfast/play time starts at 6:30? That’s cool), figuring out why he won’t eat certain foods (guy does NOT like treats. Weirdo), freaking out because I came home yesterday after being gone longer than I wanted to find that he didn’t eat anything all day, stressing out about leaving for Boston next Friday (thank you Meatball for pet sitting).
Whenever I’m stressed, I bake. It’s almost mindless in a way- the mixer doing all the heavy lifting, my 90’s pop playing in the background and Crawley now circling at my feet- and results in an almost instant gratification with homemade cookies that lift any clouds away. They deliver on so much more than flavor, and leave me with all the good feels.
Speaking of cookies, have you ever heard of Carol’s Cookies? They’re amazing, and honestly they’re the closest thing to homemade-from-my-kitchen I’ve ever tasted…well, outside my kitchen! Thanks to the wonder that is The Facebook, I got the chance to chat (virtually) with her about her cookies, her business and her love of The Diamond, and she generously agreed to give away one of her cookie tins to one lucky duck. More on that later, but first, here’s a bit from the Carol behind the Cookies.
THB: As you started out as a small business owner, who inspired you by their example, and what did you learn from them that has made you successful?
CC: Eli’s Cheesecake and Lou Malnati’s were local, family businesses that I really respected early on. They taught me to not veer from the “family recipe” and NEVER skimp on quality. Don’t sacrifice quality and you’ll keep your customers for life!
THB: If you weren’t in the cookie business, is there anything else that you think that you’d be doing?
CC: I have always dreamt of one day riding around on Neil Diamond’s tour bus and tour the country with him. (My maiden name is Diamond, so I was always hopeful we were related somehow.)
THB: While your cookies have made you famous, do you cook as well? What is your favorite dish to make at home?
CC: I do cook but it’s rare I have time to cook dinner with the baker’s hours I keep. So, my favorite dish to make at home is actually take-out…and I serve up some pretty sweet reservations, too. 😉
THB: Of all the cookie flavors that you offer, what is your favorite?
CC: Chocolate Chip with Walnuts – my original. Yum!
THB: Baking trends are constantly evolving, from the explosion of cupcakes to the popularity of macarons. Have you ever considered expanding into other areas?
CC: Never really understood the cupcake trend. I have always been careful about not trying to be everything to everyone. I wanted to do one thing, really really well and focus on that only. So we just make handmade cookies all day long and only cookies.
THB: I’m a big fan of kitchen-dance parties. Is there a favorite artist or genre that you rock out to in the kitchen while the cookies are baking?
CC: Sappy love songs, helps me to relax and get in the zone. “Cousin” Neil, Barbara Streisand, Breathe, Chicago…nobody said I’m the hippest baker around.
THB: What is your funniest/most embarrassing baking moment or faux paus?
CC: I used to bake out of my kitchen at home for friends, and used Nestle like everyone did back in the 1970s. Well, I poured in a bag into a batch of my chocolate cake mix, quickly as I normally did. One of my friends was enjoying a slice…and bit into a coupon for Nestle chips! I yelled, “Bonus!” Boy, was I embarrassed.
THB: I don’t think anyone can argue that homemade baked goods are the best, but do you have a favorite “guilty pleasure” pre-packaged cookie dessert? I personally think there is no homemade substitute for an Oreo!
CC: Walker’s Shortbread, reminds me of huddling around the radio with the family growing up in Michigan and digging into a tin of their cookies.
THB: If you could cook and eat dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would you pick and what would you serve (or bake!)?
CC: My mom – she never knew about my cookie business as she passed before I got my start in 1979 in Chicago. She was a wonderful baker and taught me how to be a patient baker.
THB: And finally, the superpower you’d like to possess in real life is…
CC: Invisible powers. Would love to go around and eaves drop on people when they taste our cookies, hear their reactions, learn from it. That would be an awesome power to have!
And while Carols’ famous cookie recipe rightly remains a trade secret, she was willing to share her grandma’s recipe for coffee cake. A grandma recipe! We all know that’s clutch. When looking over the ingredients, I realized it was very different from my family’s coffee cake, which is rich from all the butter and sour cream. This recipe has neither, keeping it pleasantly light and still very moist. Thumbs up from all the work crew, and I think you’ll like it, too.
- 3 cups flour
- 5 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup pure cane sugar
- 2 egg whites
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 1 ½ cups fat free milk
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
- 4 TB flour
- 4 TB vegetable oil
- 4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven at 375 degrees.
- Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl.
- Blend in egg whites, vegetable oil and milk.
- Stir and/or whisk until smooth.
- Mix topping ingredients in a separate mixing bowl.
- Pour half of the batter into a greased bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the topping mix evenly around the top of the batter in the bundt pan.
- Pour the remaining batter into the bundt pan.
- Sprinkle the rest of the topping mix on top of the batter in the bundt pan.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Watch for desired color, then remove from oven.
- Serve it at room temperature, or warm it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Enjoy!
Written before doughnuts.