Sweet Treats: Baking Cookies & Handpies

Before we start baking cookies today, Allow me to share a bit of the backstory. On one of my food-centric trips to Greenwood, SC, last year, I discovered boiled peanuts, several farms producing local SC honey and delicious chocolate chip cookies, served to guests at Greenwood’s Inn on the Square.

Inn On the Square, is a beautiful boutique hotel located in downtown Greenwood, SC at 104 Court Ave E. I’ve had the pleasure of staying there several times. I highly recommend it as your Greenwood home base next time you go to visit.

Fresh Baked Cookies at the Uptown Greenwood Farmers’ Market

Tom and I were in town for Greenwood’s annual Festival of Flowers, but we decided to start our Saturday morning with a quick trip to two area farmers’ markets. As it turned out, the hotel had a table at the Uptown Greenwood Farmers’ Market and was selling oversized cinnamon buns, fresh baked pumpkin and zucchini bread and and super sized melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies.

The cookies we bought were so delicious, that we took the boomerang video here for a chocolate chip cookie toast to the day.


Meet the Pastry Chef, Baking Cookies at Greenwood, SC’s Inn on the Square

After a taste of these delicious cookies and (I must confess) a cinnamon roll for the road, I knew I had to meet the talent behind all of these wonderful baked goods.

I was delighted to learn that Pastry Chef Olivia Taylor is part of the next generation heading into the culinary world.

As you will hear at the end of the video below, Olivia started working in the kitchen at Inn on the Square right out of high school and has a real knack for baking. She loves baking cookies and making desserts and is happy that Inn guests love what she does as well. Her goal? To keep growing and get better and better at her craft. Happy to make introductions to you here and showcase her talents in this post.

It took some time, but I’ve finally caught up with Pastry Chef Olivia Taylor at Inn on the Square and was able to film her baking cookies as she shared a recipe or two on video.

You are going to love these cookies, too. Plus the recipe is easy enough for your kids to make with you and there are lots of ways to make it your own.

Olivia was sweet enough to share her cookie recipe for all of us who love to bake cookies at home. In fact, after I filmed the HBTV ( get it?) video in this post with her, I came back home and spent the day baking cookies. Nothing like a Chocolate Chip Cookie kind of day! Delicious!

You’ll Love Olivia’s Simple Technique for Baking Cookies

Read on, you will love her no fuss, one bowl recipe and her tips and tricks for turning the baked cookie recipe into one for a delicious edible cookie dough.

The recipes for the chocolate chip cookies and the edible cookie dough are at the end of this post, following the video.

Consider the dough your base; and then do as Olivia does in the video and add chocolate chips, m&m’s or peanut butter. You can also break up any other kind of candy to add if you would like. Think crunched up Butterfingers, KitKats or your favorite peanut butter cups for a delicious spin on the original recipe.

In a post I wrote on the winners of the 2021 NC Specialty Foods awards, I told you about an award-winning NC toffee snack mix from Durham Toffee Co. called, Durham Toffee Mash Up. This tasty mix of sweet and salty nuts, pretzels, chocolate and creamy tasting homemade artisan toffee, would be a great addition to these cookies!

Or, use two of Olivia’s famous chocolate chip cookies, back to back, to sandwich in ice cream, your favorite chocolate fudge icing or your favorite peanut butter.

Try them with Coddle Creek Farms Mama Young’s chocolate peanut nut butter inside instead or along with the chocolate chips and you will never look back.

Raw Edible Cookie Dough for a Quick Fix instead of Baking Cookies

When it comes to Olivia’s edible raw cookie dough ( I have to say, I love her how-to make it edible raw tips) , eat it as is, by the spoonful, or freeze it slightly and scoop in into an ice cream cone and drizzle chocolate syrup over all for a fun sweet treat. Or, roll it in little bite-sized balls and then roll those balls in chocolate sprinkles, crushed graham cracker crumbs or crushed chocolate cookies for a fancier version to box and give as gifts.

Ice cream lovers can drop dollops of the raw edible dough into your next batch of homemade ice cream. Add just as your frozen blend hits the final stages of freezing.

If you like to bake brownies as well as baking cookies, put several dollops of this tasty cookie dough into the pan of brownie mix just before baking. It goes without saying that the possibilities are endless.

Go Gluten Free

I didn’t ask Olivia about Gluten Free options in the video. But, back at home I did a bit of research. I made the cookies, and the edible dough variation, with almond flour. Measure cup for cup like the all purpose flour. I am happy to report that in both recipes, gluten free substitutions worked like a charm.

If chocolate’s not your thing, no worries. Simply substitute peanut butter or peanut butter chips in the cookie recipe, or use your favorite chopped nuts instead. A cup of raw oatmeal and a cup or two of raisins or dried cranberries work well in the cookies, as well.

Chef Olivia’s Pumpkin HandPies

Say your sweet tooth leans towards pie instead of a cookie. Olivia has you covered as well with her fun but simple recipe for seasonal handpies.

She’s filled them with canned seasoned pumpkin here for special Halloween treats. But, try them with mashed, sweet and seasoned sweet potatoes or any of your favorite fruit pie fillings. Swap up your cookie cutters with the season. Then, play around with the filling and you can make these easy handpies any time of the year.

Olivia Taylor’s Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies (as enjoyed at Inn on the Square in Greenwood, SC)

1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour. Or, you can use almond flour or your favorite gluten free flour blend. ( I like Trader Joe’s Brand of Gluten Free Flour in the pink packaging)

1/2 cup room temp butter (Use the real deal. If you want the recipe to be dairy free, try Earth Balance or Miyoko’s European Style Cultured Vegan Butter.)

6 Tbsp. granulated sugar ( I like going organic here)

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tsp, Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. Vanilla extract

1 local egg

2 1/4 cups chocolate chips, or chocolate chunks

Use an electric stand or hand mixer to cream together the butter and the sugars. Add the vanilla and the whole egg and blend well. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients and break up any lumps. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed batter all at one time. Stir with a mixer or a rubber spatula to blend well. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the cookie dough out onto a parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheet using an ice cream scoop. Refrigerate the sheet of raw cookies for 10 minutes. Then bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Cool on a cake rack, call all of your friends and enjoy!

To Make Chef Olivia’s Raw Edible Cookie Dough

Use all the same ingredients, except omit the leavening ingredients, that is the baking powder and the egg. Toast the flour before adding it to the mix. There may be dangers in eating quantities of raw all purpose flour. Instead of using raw AP flour (regular or gluten free), spill the measured amount out evenly onto a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet. “Toast” it in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 mins. If you are making a gluten free version there is no need to toast the almond flour, although you will get a nuttier flavor in the end.

If you are crafting this cookie dough for some Halloween fun, don’t forget the candy googly eyes as finishing touch!

Chef Olivia’s Pumpkin Hand Pies

This one is so easy, there’s really not a recipe, rather a list of ingredients and just a couple of pointers.

First, you’ll need your favorite pie crust dough. You can make your own – my go to recipe is here – or buy a refrigerated pie dough to make this recipe quick and easy.

Roll the dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper or use a Silpat to cover your workspace, as Chef Olivia did in the video.

Select seasonal cookie cutters to cut out two of each shape for each hand pie. One is the top and one is the bottom.

Top the bottom shape with a tablespoon or two of your selected hand pie filling. Carefully cut slits or, in the case of the pumpkin shape – a jack-o-lantern face, into the top pie crust. Gently place the top crust over the filling-topped bottom crust, and pinch the seams to seal the hand pie.

Brush with a egg wash, made from a beaten egg and a bit of water. Place the hand pies on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven, until the crust begins to turn golden, 17 to 20 minutes.

Want to decorate the hand pies with fine colored sanding sugar, like the Halloween bats Olivia made? Make a blend of a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and a couple of teaspoons of water to make a sweet glaze. Brush the glaze over the warm out-of-the-oven handpies and sprinkle with the colored sugar. Cool on a rack and then enjoy!

Before you start Baking Cookies, use these fun recipes to make your own important ingredients

Two quick tips for you before we wind this one up. The first is how to make your own brown sugar. We heard Chef Olivia talk about the flavor and richness brown sugar adds to any cookie recipe, so its an important ingredient. But if you are out, it’s very easy to make your own.

In fact, I really don’t keep brown sugar in the pantry any more. Instead, when I am at farmers’ markets and roadside stands, I stock up on local Sorghum Syrup Molasses whenever I see it. Fall is the season for local sorghum syrup – so scope out the farmers’ market and I feel sure you’ll find some. Combine the sorghum molasses with organic granulated sugar as directed below and you’ll have homemade brown sugar to use in all of your favorite recipes. Here’s the how-to…

Make Your Own Brown Sugar & Vanilla for Baking Cookies

Did you know you can make your own brown sugar in small batches as needed? That way it never gets hard or dried out. Simply combine 1 cup of organic sugar with 2 Tablespoons of Local North Carolina or South Carolina Sorghum Syrup Molasses. Stir until all of the sorghum syrup dissolves into the sugar. And there you have it – homemade dark brown sugar! Add more sugar or molasses as needed until you get the correct consistency. You’re gonna love it!

To make your own version of light brown sugar, do the same with your favorite local honey.

And what about Vanilla? I’ve made my own homemade vanilla for years. It’s easy to make and tastes better than store bought. Once you’ve started a batch you can keep adding to it for years to come. All you need are two whole high quality vanilla beans and a pint of your favorite local spirit.

To make your own homemade vanilla, start with a pint of your favorite local vodka, gin, rum or bourbon. Take two soft vanilla beans and split each of them lengthwise, so that you now have four pieces. Place the beans and your liquor of choice in a decorative jar or bottle with a tight fitting cork or top and allow it to sit for 2 weeks before using. As you use your hand-crafted vanilla, add more vodka, gin, run or bourbon to top off the bottle. As the color begins to lighten, add another split bean and you can keep going for years.

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