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Cooking

Drop cookies that double as something more

Simple recipes you can divide and dress up, if you like.

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Photo by Jim Scherer / Styling by Catrine Kelty

Use half the recipe to make Chocolate Truffle Bomb Cookies.

Especially when I’m busy, I love multi-task baking. Bake with the kids and reinforce the concept of fractions while making drop cookies for the new neighbors and a cookie birthday cake? Why not? These two recipes produce double batches of batter. You can turn them all into cookies, freezing half for a future use (scoop them onto a cookie sheet, chill, then transfer to a freezer bag — defrost and bake as usual). Or you can use half the batter to make a cake everyone will enjoy, no frosting needed.

CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE BOMB COOKIES AND CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE

Makes 32 truffle cookies and 1 9-inch cake

4¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups dark brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 cups mini chocolate chips

32 Lindt truffle candies (or Baci or cherry cordials)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda, and set aside. In a stand-mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugars on medium speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the eggs, mixing until homogeneous, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla.

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Add the flour mixture and mix on medium until barely combined. Add the chocolate chips and mix until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter from the bottom to the top several times to ensure the mixture is homogeneous.

Grease 2 24-count mini muffin tins with oil or butter. Separate out half the batter. Using your hands, gently press a heaping tablespoon of dough around each truffle; make sure no truffle is exposed. Place the balls in the tins and bake 15-20 minutes, until tops are golden brown, switching racks halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan 15 minutes before unmolding. Eat warm for a chocolate explosion or later rewarm in the microwave for 20 seconds for the same effect.

To bake the cake, spray a 9-inch pan with nonstick spray. Using your hands, pat the batter down evenly and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Slice and serve. (For a single large cake, use the full batch of dough in a 12-inch pan for the same baking time.)

Variation

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Makes 34 Large cookies

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Follow directions for Chocolate Truffle Bomb Cookies, making following changes:

Instead of muffin tins, line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Omit the truffle candies. Drop large balls (about 2½ tablespoons of batter) onto the sheet, leaving 1½ inches between the cookies, for about 10 cookies per sheet. Bake 15 minutes, rotating racks halfway through the baking time. Remove from the oven when cookies are light golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes on the sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack. Repeat for rest of dough.

Jim Scherer

Tip: Make sure dough completely covers chocolates by carefully sealing tops of balls.

CRANBERRY-CARAMEL COOKIES AND CAKE

Makes 36 large cookies or 18 large cookies and 1 9-inch cake

1½ cups quick oats

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1¼ cups canola oil

3 cups dark brown sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

¾ cup white chocolate chips

1 cup toffee bits

1 cup chopped roasted and salted cashews or pecans

1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the oats for 1 minute, until they become a fine powder. In a medium bowl, combine that oat flour, flour, salt, and baking soda, and set aside.

In a stand-mixer bowl fitted with a paddle, mix the oil and brown sugar on medium speed until combined. Slowly add the eggs, then the vanilla, mixing until homogeneous, making sure that the brown sugar is broken up, and scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Add flour mixture and mix on medium until barely combined. Add the white chocolate chips, toffee bits, nuts, and cranberries, and mix until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter from bottom to top several times to ensure mixture is homogeneous.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop or 2 tablespoons, drop large balls (about 2½ tablespoons of batter) onto to the sheet, leaving 1½ inches between the cookies, for about 10 cookies per sheet. Bake 15 minutes, switching racks halfway through the baking time. Remove from the oven when they are light golden brown. Allow to cool 5 minutes on the sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack. Repeat for rest of dough.

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9-inch pan with nonstick spray. With wet hands, pat the batter down evenly in the pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and a skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Slice and serve. (For a single large cake, use the full batch of dough in a 12-inch pan for the same baking time.)

BRUTTI MA BUONI (UGLY BUT GOOD) COOKIES

Makes 36 cookies or 1 10-inch ring cake

12 ounces slivered almonds, toasted

2¼ cups sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

6 large egg whites

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. If making cookies, line 2 large baking sheets with nonstick liners or parchment paper. In a food processor, grind half the nuts to a fine powder and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg, and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the egg whites on medium speed until frothy with medium-sized bubbles, about 1 minute. Add the salt and increase the speed to high. Beat until the mixture holds a medium-hard peak when the beater is lifted, about 40 seconds more. With the mixer still on high speed, slowly add the reserved sugar mixture to the egg whites. Once the sugar has all been mixed in and the mixture holds a stiff peak, add the extracts. Remove from the mixer and gently fold in the ground almonds and the remaining slivered almonds. To make cookies, using 2 tablespoons, drop 2-inch balls of batter onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between the cookies. Bake 30 minutes, switching the racks halfway through the baking time. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees and bake an additional 30 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the cookies in the hot oven 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets.

To make a ring cake (fill with fresh fruit for a pretty dessert, if you like), trace a 10-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. Line a sheet tray with that paper, ink side down. Using tablespoon-size heaps, trace the ring with the batter, leaving the center open. Bake the same amount of time, but leave in the hot oven an additional half-hour and cool completely before removing from the sheet.

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