Dashboard Cookie Confessional

Ever since I was a little kid, it’s something I wanted to do. Young and naive, I couldn’t wait to grow up to have such freedom and access. Now that I’m an adult, I’m finally making my inner child proud: I baked cookies inside my car.

As temperatures began to exceed 100℉ on a regular basis, I knew this was my time to shine. Finally, I have my own car, live in an environment that’s somewhere between the depths of hell and the surface of the sun, and am still crazy enough to do it. If you’ve always wanted to open up your car door and step into your own mobile oven, here’s what you need to know.

Use Protection

  • Metal baking sheets are the best conductors of heat, but that goes both ways. Place a kitchen towel, pot holder, or trivet underneath so it doesn’t melt or burn the interior of your car.
  • Line the baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the cookies from sticking. A silicone baking mat will absorb too much heat to be effective, and aluminum will reflect too much and cause the edges to get too crispy.
  • Likewise, use a pot holder whenever moving the sheet because it will be hot.

Placement and Timing Are Important

  • Make sure you park your car in direct sun to maximize those UV rays.
  • Start baking when the sun is at its peak; usually around noon or 1:00pm.
  • While your cookies will bake in any position, I found it was most effective to place the baking sheet directly on the dashboard, as close to the windshield as possible. Barring that, the next best place is the trunk, as long as you have a glass window in back too.

Turn Up The Heat

  • Keep the windows rolled up and the doors closed. Any time you open them or break the seal, you’re letting the heat drop.
  • It needs to be at least 95℉ (35°C)outside to attempt this with any level of success.
  • Keep a thermometer inside your car to monitor the temperature, and place it somewhere that you can see it without getting into the car.
  • The interior needs to reach at least 160℉ (71°C) to “bake” effectively.
  • Cooking time will vary, since this isn’t a regulated heat source. Expect it take anywhere from 2 – 5 hours for the cookies to set. They may not brown as much as you’d normally expect, but should be firm enough to pick up and no longer shiny on top.

Recipe For Success

  • While any recipe can technically work, simple drop cookies are your best bet, since they’re more forgiving with variable times and temperatures. A cookie with a high butter to flour ratio is more likely to end up greasy, which means that chewy wins the battle over crunchy for this round.
  • Size does matter. My usual cookies use about 1/4 cup of dough, which took roughly 3 hours to bake while it was 104 degrees outside. You can expedite the process by making smaller cookies, especially if it’s not as hot in your neck of the woods.
  • Vegans have the added benefit of being able to eat semi-baked or even raw cookies without fear. Look ma, no raw eggs! That means every attempt is always successful, with or without an excessive heat warning in effect.

The beauty of car-baked cookies is that you’re using a completely renewable, entirely free energy source while saving electricity inside your home! No need to blast the AC after cranking up the oven, which can add up quickly.

The only thing better than sinking your teeth into warm, gooey, homemade cookies on a hot summer day is getting to enjoy that freshly baked aroma for weeks to come. Hope you don’t drive hungry!

Fig Newton’s Laws

Physics are not my strong suit, but I do know one thing is for sure: Sir Isaac Newton understood the laws of cookies. It was all cleverly disguised as the principles that govern motion, but I can see through that ploy. It’s all written out, clear as day.

Law #1: A body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion, unless it is acted upon by an external force.

Unless you start preheating the oven, it will never get hot. These cookies won’t bake themselves, you know.

Law #2: The force acting upon an object is equal to the mass of that object multiplied by its acceleration.

A rolling pin must be wielded with both gentle yet firm pressure to properly flatten the dough.

Law #3: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Though tempting, if you eat a whole batch of cookies by yourself, you WILL get a stomachache.

Whether or not Fig Newtons were named for the mathematician is still up for debate, though we can all agree that they’re logically sound snacks. They’ve been around since the 1850’s, changing very little over the years. Take a wholesome, lightly sweetened pastry dough and wrap it around a whole fruit filling for surefire success. Sure, they’re not as glamorous as chocolate-coated, sugar-encrusted, or sprinkle-topped sweets, but they’re deeply comforting in a way that such flighty trends can’t even touch.

For their latest evolution, I’m bringing healthy back and taking out the gluten and refined sugars. With a touch of lemon juice mixed with the lightly simmered fig jam, these humble little bars taste so much brighter and fresher than anything sitting around on grocery store shelves.

I think Mr. Newton himself would be proud.

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Peppered with Sweet Presents

Sugar cookies iced with delicate features come to life; chocolate snow caps shake off a light dusting of powdered sugar to reveal cacao crevasses; peanut butter blossoms bloom in the dead of winter. Christmastime is cookie time, and everyone has a favorite. Taste memories are intrinsically linked with these cherished, traditional flavors, which makes it hard to break away and try something new.

What if I told you there was a way to satisfy the craving for nostalgia, while still feeding the desire for adventure? Small twists on established crowd-pleasers make sure that everyone walks away happy. Besides, in the case of my Chocolate Pfeffernüsse, who’s ever complained about adding in some extra chocolate?

German “pepper nuts” are basically soft, anise-forward gingerbread bites with a hint of alluring cardamom that lingers like a sweet memory. Condensing a world of flavors into such small packages, these classic holiday treats are long overdue for a modern revival.

This year, I have Rodelle helping me make that comeback possible. Their extracts and cocoa powder are essential staples in my pantry all year round, but they really shine when it’s time to bring out the very best treats for the holidays. You can taste that quality in every bite thanks to Rodelle Gourmet Cocoa Powder, Vanilla Extract, and Pure Almond Extract here. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t entrust such an important task to any other brand.

As if the boldly re-imagined morsels, blanketed in a powdery sheath of confectioner’s sugar was not enough of a gift, Rodelle has offered to further sweeten one lucky reader’s holiday with a GIVEAWAY!

You’ll be able to bake right along with me using the best possible ingredients. This generous bundle includes (1) 4oz Pure Vanilla Extract, (1) 8oz Gourmet Baking Cocoa, (1) 2oz All-Natural Vanilla Paste, and (1) 2oz Almond Extract. To enter be sure to follow @RodelleVanilla on Instagram, and find more ways to rack up entries below.

Rodelle Baking Bundle Giveaway

Everyone’s a winner here, because you can still enjoy these divine chocolate cookies no matter what. You might want to double the recipe if you plan on sharing, though.

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20 Best Vegan Christmas Cookies

Cookies never go out of season, but the winter holidays are truly the best time to stay warm by the oven and indulge your sweet tooth. So much of the experience has to do with spending time with friends and family, creating memories that will long outlast those cherished treats.

The end results spread joy to all those gifted, and it’s easy to make enough to go around. If you’ve been waiting for a reason to bake cookies, this is your prime opportunity.

Guided by tradition, certain morsels show up to the party year after year. However, there’s always room on the cookie platter for something new.

Whether you’re looking for a twist on a classic or an entirely different way to shake up the dessert course, I’ve got you covered. These are some of my favorite holiday cookie recipes that are guaranteed to keep your celebration sweet.

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Cookies for All Occasions

If there’s one thing I got really good at during the pandemic, it’s baking cookies.

  • Stuck at home with some spare time? Bake cookies.
  • Celebrating another holiday alone? Bake cookies.
  • Can’t sleep at night? Bake cookies.

In times of joy and sadness, there is always a case to make for baking cookies. All it takes is a solid formula and the flavor options are limitless. When grocery shortages kept me on my toes, there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t put in a cookie. From oddball mix-ins to uncommon flours, nothing escaped my mixing bowl. Even ketchup and BBQ sauce became fodder for more sweet treats in my hands.

Infinitely scalable to feed an army or just one, I’m elated to increase the output again, as restrictions loosen and we approach a more “normal” festive season once again. Winterizing my trusty cookie formula with warm spices, tart and tangy cranberry sauce, and chewy bites of dried currants, you’d never know this approach was once born out of desperation and deficits.

Soft and toothsome, these morsels bake up with the ideal texture using common, inexpensive pantry ingredients. Approximately my 10,000th iteration of the basic blueprint, they’re definitely tried-and-true, worthy of a place in your kitchen, and stomach, too. There’s no wrong way to adapt them to your tastes; consider different nuts or dried fruits, like hazelnuts, walnuts, raisins, or dried cranberries, just for starters. Cut the recipe in half for a smaller crowd, or toss “extras” in the freezer to keep beautifully until cravings strike.

I’m grateful to leave most quirky habits from the pandemic behind, but this one is staying with me. Keep on baking, my friends, but make sure you share now!

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Nuts and Bolts

Confession: I like peanut butter cookies, though try as I might, I simply don’t love them. Their alluring crosshatch imprints do beckon, and I wouldn’t turn down a nutty morsel when offered, but they’re never my go-to treat. I don’t crave them like I do a proper fudgy brownie, or chewy caramel candies. When offered the choice between peanut butter cookies and just about any other comparable confection, be it gingerbread, biscotti, thumbprints and beyond, it’s almost always going to fall to last place.

Perhaps this isn’t such a scandalous admission, especially compared to the controversy that merely including raisins in cookies can cause, but somehow it feels like a personal shortcoming. There must be something inherently wrong with me that I can’t appreciate the subtle art of classic peanut butter cookies more thoroughly.

Ultimately, it comes down to texture. I’m not talking about creamy versus crunchy spreads; the very foundation of the treat fails to meet my expectations for an ideal cookie. Coarsely textured, a bit crumbly and sometimes sandy, yet it doesn’t have the same buttery richness of shortbread. Plagued by dryness if over-baked for a single second, they’re easy to throw together, but shockingly unforgiving once they hit the oven. Making peanut butter cookies is a snap; making great peanut butter cookies is no small task.

The solution is surprisingly simple: add more peanut butter.

Peanut butter powder stands in for plain flour, adding an extra punch of rich, nutty flavor along with a more flexible foundation. Working in concert with cornstarch for a gluten-free base, the results are exceedingly tender, soft, and chewy. Better yet, there’s no eggs or butter anywhere to be found in such a spare list of ingredients. In fact, no extra oil is needed at all when you can harness the natural oil of the peanuts themselves.

Complete with classic crosshatching, they may look like the traditional sort of peanut butter cookies that deserve only a passing glance, but I’d implore you to look closer. These treats could upset the conventional cookie hierarchy as we know it.

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