Chips off the old box: cookies from cake mixes

October 12, 1994|By Cathy Thomas | Cathy Thomas,Orange County Register

It was an angry letter from a loyal reader. Written in bold strokes with bright red ink, some of the sentences were underlined -- some twice.

Why hadn't I tried her recipe for chocolate cookies? Not only are they easy, she wrote, but they are a lot better than most of the recipes that appear in the newspaper.

Dumbfounded, I scanned the recipe. Chocolate cookies made with chocolate cake mix, chocolate chips, vegetable oil and eggs. Better? I didn't think so, but I decided to find out.

It took about eight minutes of preparation time and those beauties were in the oven. After about 10 minutes of baking, they were ready. Rich chocolate smells filled the kitchen as the large, cakelike cookies emerged from the oven. My daughters gobbled them up and gave them rave reviews.

With a new attitude, I began saving recipes for cookies made from cake and brownie mixes. Thinking of mixes as simply "flavored flour," I started turning out drop cookies, rolled cookies and bar cookies -- all based on box mixes.

Crisp Little Lemon Cookies, made with lemon (pudding-included) cake mix and crisp rice cereal, are delicious. For a decadent treat, use them as "dippers" for lemon curd, found in many gourmet specialty shops and some supermarkets in their import specialty sections.

Polka Dot Brownie Cookies, dark fudgy cookies laden with white chocolate chips, are outstanding. For added glamour, dip half of each cooled cookie in melted chocolate and place on waxed paper for chocolate to harden. Yum.

German Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies are a soft cookie version of the German chocolate cake. They are somewhat fragile but delicious with ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Apricot Almond Squares, made with a yellow or white (pudding-included) cake mix, make a delicious, layered bar flavored with apricot preserves.

A combination of chocolate and peanut butter is an all-time favorite with many cookie lovers.Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies use a devil's food cake mix and peanut butter chips. For chocoholics, layer a little chocolate frosting between two cookies to make chocolate cookie sandwiches.

Reader's Easy

Chocolate Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 box devil's food cake mix

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Mix until blended. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets, about 2 1/2 inches apart.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Allow to rest on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Remove with a thin, flexible spatula.

Per cookie: calories, 213; protein, 3 g; fat, 14 g; sodium, 230 mg; carbohydrates, 22 g

Crisp Little Lemon Cookies

Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies

1 package pudding-included lemon cake mix

1 cup crisp rice cereal

1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted

1 egg, slightly beaten

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Shape into 1-inch balls, pressing firmly. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Cool 1 minute; remove from baking sheets.

Per one of 42 cookies: calories, 67; protein, 1 g; fat, 2 g; sodium, 113 mg; carbohydrates, 11 g

German Chocolate

Thumbprint Cookies

Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies

TOPPING:

1 cup sugar

1 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 1/2 cups flaked coconut

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

COOKIES:

1 package pudding-included German chocolate cake mix

1/3 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter, vanilla and egg yolks; blend well. Cook over medium heat 10 to 13 minutes or until thickened and bubbly, stirring frequently. Stir in coconut and pecans. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature.

Reserve 1 1/4 cups of topping mixture; set aside. In large bowl, combine cookie ingredients and remaining topping mixture; stir by hand until thoroughly moistened.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. With thumb, make an indentation in center of each ball. Fill each indentation with rounded 1/2 teaspoon of reserved topping.

Bake in center of a 350 degree oven for 11 to 14 minutes or until set. Cool 5 minutes; remove from baking sheets. Cool completely.

Per one of 54 cookies: calories, 118; protein, 2 g; fat, 7 g; sodium, 127 mg; carbohydrates, 13 g

Apricot Almond Squares

Makes 36 squares

butter or margarine, for greasing pan

BASE:

1 package pudding-included yellow or white cake mix

1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine or butter, melted

1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

1 cup apricot preserves

FILLING:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1/3 cup apricot preserves

1/2 cup flaked coconut

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter or margarine.

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