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Actress delivers creative cookie molds
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Actress delivers creative cookie molds

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The majority of theater fans will know Susan Moniz from her many roles in Chicago-area productions through the years.

Moniz, though, is also interested in culinary matters. The actress is the founder of the company Artesao Cookie Molds, through which she creates a variety of specialty cookie molds.

"It's my side business," said Moniz. The actress is currently starring in the national touring production of "Fun Home," which plays through Nov. 13 at The Oriental Theatre in Chicago. (FYI: Visit BroadwayInChicago.com).

In addition to her acting career, Moniz has been operating the cookie mold business for the last 5 years.

"I've always loved to bake. And I've always been artistic my whole life," she said, about her decision to start the business.

Because of her affinity for baking, Moniz naturally took to making cookies, one of her favorite sweets.

"I've often made cookies for cast members for opening nights," the actress said. "It's great fun."

Moniz said her love for baking grew while she was in college. And when she had her first apartment, she got more involved in kitchen work.

"I started baking a lot of cakes and cookies," she said. One of her favorite sweets to make is a Whoppie Pie, which is a cross between a cake and a sandwich cookie.

Moniz said through the years she's developed her own cookie recipe to use in the molds she creates.

"People are often hesitant to use cookie molds. But this recipe makes it easier for people to use them," she said.

Moniz' molds are available through her website. They are currently not in a "brick and mortar" store, she said.

The actress said when she has time she'll make cookies using her molds for weddings, for friends, bridal shows and other events.

When it comes to the holidays, Moniz said, "I'm the one in the family who always makes the desserts."

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Moniz has called Chicago home for the past 30 years. The actress, who is of Portuguese and Irish descent, said she remembers her mother making a Portuguese soup for many family dinners.

A fan of seafood, Moniz said she'd have no problem eating seafood every day. She's also a fan of Thai cuisine. "I love almost any kind of food," she said.

The following is a cookie recipe from Moniz.

Susan’s Favorite Cookie Recipe

Flour should be weighed for the most reliable results.

2 1/2 cups flour, don't sift it -- scoop it

1/2 teaspoon salt 

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

I cup sugar, minus 1 3/4 tablespoons

1 medium to large egg

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS: Beat the butter on med-high speed until creamy. Scrape down sides of bowl when needed. Reduce speed and slowly add sugar. Return to med-high speed and beat until creamy (note: mixture lightens when creamed). 

Reduce speed to medium and add the egg and vanilla. Mix until well incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl when needed. In a separate bowl combine the flour and salt together with a whisk or fork.

Reduce the speed to low and add half of the flour and salt mixture. When almost fully incorporated, add the remaining flour and salt mixture and mix until dough starts pulling away from sides of the bowl. Dough should not feel sticky--more like a Play-Doh texture. If dough is sticky, add more flour 1 teaspoon at a time till desired texture is achieved. Too much flour can cause cookies to crack, so check often to prevent over drying.

Divide dough into 2 portions. Form each into disk shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or freeze for later use. (If frozen, best when used within 6 months.) 

Bake cookies at 350˚F on parchment paper until lightly browned on edges. Turn cookie sheet about halfway through baking time. Times vary according to size and thickness of cookie.

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