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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Our Frugal Lunchbox: cookies - 1 basic dough makes 4 kinds

One dough, 4 varieties -- peanut butter-oatmeal,
chocolate chip, apricot-almond, jam thumbprints
These are my September cookies. I love them because I can put together a variety of cookies in one afternoon. Originally, the recipe came from a Christmas issue of a magazine (almost 20 years ago). It's one of those, "mix one dough, make 8 kinds of cookies" recipes. I love those recipes. And I figured you might, too.

I've modified the mix-ins. And for lunchbox cookies, I just make 4 kinds. The other 4, I like better at the holidays.

The other thing that I like about this recipe, is that the dough can be kept in the freezer, and baked up a few, or a whole batch, at a time. Mixing up the dough with the different variations, takes about an hour, start to finish. (Not bad, eh?)

The Basic Dough (total yield -- about 120 cookies)

2 cups (1 lb.) (450 g) butter or margarine, room temp
1 cup (180 g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla extract
4  1/2 cups (540 g) all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla, until fluffy. Gradually beat in flour, just until blended.

Divide dough into 4 portions. Mix in the extra ingredients (except the jam for the thumbprints), and roll into logs. Wrap in waxed paper, and pop into a freezer bag. Keeps for up to 3 months in the freezer, or 5 days in the fridge. If wanting to bake cookies right away, chill logs in the fridge for 1 hour, first.

Varieties and their mix-ins

Chocolate chip cookies -- 3/4 cups (125 g) chocolate chips

Peanut butter-oatmeal cookies -- 1 cup (90 g) uncooked oats, 1/2 cup (133 g) creamy peanut butter

Apricot-almond cookies -- 1/8 teaspoon (0.60 mL) mace *or* 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) cardamom, 12 large dried apricots, diced, 1/2 cup (75 g) sliced almonds, chopped

Jam thumbprint cookies -- jam

(This is a great recipe for experimenting. I've done 1) chopped macadamia nut-white chocolate chip cookies, 2) sliced plain dough dipped in cinnamon and sugar on the top side, 3) chopped dried cherries in plain dough, then after baked, drizzled with melted white chocolate chips, and 4) Hershey's kisses embedded in balls of dough -- all very yummy. So if one variety doesn't sound appealing to you, try one of these substitutions, or come up with your own.)

To bake, place oven rack in the middle of the oven (to prevent over browning of the bottoms of cookies).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (162 C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.

slice and bake for chocolate chip,
peanut butter-oatmeal, and apricot-almond

For Chocolate chip, Oatmeal-peanut butter, and Apricot-almond cookies, slice about 1/4 inch thick and place on baking sheet. (Alternatively, with the peanut butter cookies, you can slice the dough into 1  1/4 inch thick slices, then halve those. Roll into balls, place on baking sheet, and criss-cross mark with a fork dipped in sugar -- for the traditional look of peanut butter cookies.) Bake for 12-15 minutes. The fruit pieces in the Apricot-almond cookies over brown on the bottoms easily. Remove from baking sheet immediately.

slice thick and halve, then roll into balls for
jam thumbprints, or also for peanut butter-oatmeal

For the Jam thumbprint cookies, slice dough into 1  1/4-inch thick slices, then halve each slice. Roll into balls. Place on baking sheet. Make indentation with thumb. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) of jam into each indentation. Bake 12-15 minutes. Cool 2 minutes on the baking sheet (to firm up the cookie and jam a bit), then transfer to cooling rack.

I also find myself bringing cookies to coffee hours, meetings, and work parties, fairly often. This recipe gives me variety of cookies, with minimal work.


  1. Yum! Yum! Yum!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe. I need to make something for hubby to take to work for Christmas gifts. These would let me do most of the prep in advance.

    I have a basic sugar cookie dough (my grandmama's depression era recipe) that isn't super sweet, but we like. I freeze it and we've also frozen chocolate chip cookie dough.

    My daughter will be excited when I show her these!

    1. Hi Shara,
      There are also some nice Christmas variations that I'll make up later this fall. I'll take a picture and show you, when I do. But these variations I do for school lunches, as they're very simple.

    2. Shara, I forgot to mention, for lunches I make these slightly bigger than the recipe calls for. But at the holidays or when bringing to a coffee hour, I make them smaller (according to what the recipe suggests), and the batch makes about 150 cookies, enough to fill 2-3 good sized tins.

  2. You actually have cookies left to put into lunch boxes every day? These look very tempting. I'm not sure they would survive a whole week in this house.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      well that's one of the things I like about this dough. I freeze all of the dough when I make it up, and only bake a dozen at a time. And also, we don't pack cookies every day. Probably just twice a week. The rest of the week there are muffins, fruit, jello, etc. But yeah, I can imagine with all the men in your house, these might not last, if you baked them all up.

  3. What a versatile recipe, Lili. They look great and wouldn't last very long at our house. :) lol

    1. Hi Belinda,
      It's one of those recipes that I love because I can bake a variety of cookies from the same batch of dough. They only last a while in our house because I only bake a dozen at a time. The recipe makes at least 10 dozen, so I can manage to stretch that out for a month.


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