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Cookie grandma

By Staff | Sep 28, 2018

Sue Braland, of Randall, paints leaf-shaped sugar cookies for her family to enjoy this season. “I find painting them with a paint brush is easier for me,” she said.



RANDALL – For several years, Sue Braland has posted pictures and recipes on social media, much to the delight of her friends and followers.

On one particular day, as she was preparing food for the Story City Historical Society Milk Can Dinner, Braland, of Randall, talked about her history with baking.

“After I retired from real estate, I had more time to cook from scratch,” she said. “I love to bake. My daughter also loves to bake. Marv (her husband) and I go down and rock the baby, so she can prepare a homemade banana pudding or loaf of banana bread.”

Sue Braland has been painting icing on her cookies for years and said it is fun to mix up the seasonal colors.

Both of the Braland’s children have recently moved back to central Iowa, which Sue Braland said makes her family “so glad.”

One of her favorite items to bake are sugar cookie bars – both for her family and events, including the Historical Society dinner.

“These can so easily be made seasonal,” Braland said. “In the fall, I’ll color the frosting a light orange and put some fall colored sprinkles on. At Christmas it gets a pale green frosting; July 4th, light blue with red, white and blue sprinkles. For the baby reveal party for our daughter and son-in-law, I frosted half the pan in pink and half the pan in blue.”

And Braland delivers her sweets all over the place.

“We take to cookies to the Story City doctor’s offices, Nucara Pharmacy, Bliss Cancer and Iowa Heart Center,” she said. “It makes people happy.”

A sample plate of Sue Braland’s creations awaits visitors at her home. “I enjoy tweaking recipes to our taste,” she said

When asked what the heart doctor says about the sweet treats, Sue smiled.

“We don’t mention those recipes.”

Double chocolate and mint cookies

6 ounces, semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoon water

One 4.67-ounce package chocolate mint thins, such as Andes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

Combine the chocolate and butter in a small bowl and place over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool for 10 minutes.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the sugar, eggs, water and vanilla to blend in a separate large bowl. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the cooled chocolate using a rubber spatula. Fold in the chocolate mint pieces. Chill dough to firm slightly, 10 minutes.

Scoop the dough onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Can make extra-large cookies by using a 1/4 cup measure but I generally just make regular-size cookies. Baking two pans at a time, bake in a pre-heated 300 degrees for 9 minutes and then switch the baking sheets (top to bottom) and bake the cookies until slightly puffed and dry looking with some small cracks on top, 9 to 10 minutes longer.

Cool completely on the baking sheets (cookies may deflate slightly as they cool).

Lemon bars

2 cups, plus 4 tablespoons, all-purpose flour, divided

1 cup butter (or margarine), softened

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoons grated lemon rind

1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine two cups flour with butter and confectioners’ sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut together until well blended. Press into bottom of 13 by 9 baking pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until lightly done but not browned.

Beat eggs with a mixer. Add sugar; blend well. Add lemon juice and lemon rind; beat well. Add baking powder and remaining flour; beat well.

Pour over hot crust; do not let it cool. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle top with additional confectioners’ sugar.

Sugar cookie bars

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened

8 ounce cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 1/2 cups flour


1/2 cup butter, softened

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 to 5 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Food coloring

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, sugar and egg until nice and frothy. About 4 minutes.

Add the vanilla and almond extract and beat for 1 minute more.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Mix them around so that all ingredients are well incorporated.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat for about 2 minutes.

Press the dough into a large jelly roll pan (17 by 11).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (check after 17 minutes so it doesn’t get dry).

Let the pan cool completely.

For the frosting, first combine the butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl or stand mixer. Beat for about 2 minutes.

Add the powdered sugar, milk, vanilla and food coloring. Mix for 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth.

Frost your pan of bars.

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