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Posts tagged ‘cookies’

labeled blondies

As you know I’ve been on a bit of a cherry kick lately. That’s because cherry season is only a few short weeks and I just love those little red orbs. They’re so sweet and tart and absolutely delicious. It’s because of the quick season that I’m bringing you yet another cherry recipe, but this time there’s chocolate and browned butter involved.

chocolate and cherries

Since one of my favorite flavors are chocolate covered cherries, I knew I had to make something with both those flavors before cherries disappear for another year. A few years ago I made Black Forest Brownies, but this time I wanted something a little nutty. Something that still had chocolate but was more cookie than brownie. I love blondies, so I thought why not? I mean if cherries are great with chocolate who’s to say they won’t be good with cookie dough? Or better yet browned butter cookie dough.

I’m so happy I took the leap. I still got that great chocolate-cherry flavor, but now I had that delicious browned butter cookie dough surrounding it. What makes these blondies really awesome though, are the fact that they’re the perfect finger food. I’ve made them twice now for meetings and get-togethers and everyone gobbled them up. Since you can just pick them up and nibble, they are the perfect dessert for parties or barbecues. As a matter of fact, both times I made them they were gone before the night was over, which means there were none to take home. While I was bummed, my husband was really upset. See, he wanted one (or two) for himself.

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So, now that I’ve made and tasted them twice, there’s no doubt I’m addicted. I actually bought another pint of cherries yesterday just so I could make them one more time before the season ends. Yes, I’ll have to pit those cherries and I’ll have to brown the butter, but the end result is sooooo worth it. While you could use frozen cherries in these bars, there’s no comparison to using fresh; and that means you have about 2 weeks to grab a basket and make these babies. Trust me, after one bite you’ll be dashing back to the farmers market hoping there are enough cherries around to make one more batch.

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Browned Butter Chocolate Cherry Blondies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cherries, stemmed and pitted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8 pan and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, swirling the whole time until it turns a golden brown and develops a nutty smell. (Make sure you watch it, otherwise your brown butter will turn to burned butter and we don’t want that.)
  3. Pour the butter into a mixing bowl. Add the sugars and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the egg and continue to mix. Add the vanilla and beat for another minute.
  4. Sift together the flour and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add it to the sugar mixture until just combined. Don’t overmix.
  5. Fold in the chocolate and cherries.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 -35 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean (as long as you don’t hit any chocolate or cherries.) Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, slice and serve.

labeled macaroons

Passover is on Monday and if there’s one thing I always have trouble with when planning the menu, it’s what to make for dessert. See, you’re not supposed to have any wheat, oats, rye or barley. That means most flours are off the table. You also shouldn’t eat corn, rice, millet or legumes. So, you can see why it’s so hard to come up with a dessert since most cookies, cakes or pies have some sort of grain in them.

In the past we’ve made our chocolate or lemon mousse pie because unlike most pies, the crust for these is made of meringue. While delicious, the pie takes several hours to make and chill. So, if you don’t have that kind of time, a dessert that’s a little more common, and much easier to throw together are those cute little coconut cookies known as macaroons. Not only are they a cinch to make, there isn’t one ingredient that’s bad for Passover.

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Now, you could make your basic macaroon which is pretty much just coconut, sweetened condensed milk and eggs, but I’ve never been a big fan of basic. I prefer to shake things up and try something new. A couple years ago I made Cinnamon Macaroons dipped in Chocolate and they were the bomb. So this year I found another recipe, thanks to Fine Cooking, that swapped out the chocolate and cinnamon for lime zest and dried cherries.

They were completely different from the other batch. They weren’t sweet, spicy and decadent like the cinnamon ones. Instead, they were light, sweet and tart thanks to the cherries and limes. It’s those fruity flavors that make these cookies taste like a cocktail on a tropical island. You not only have the tang from the lime zest, but there are chunks of sweet dried cherries throughout each cookie. Add to that a kick of Cherry Heering (a cherry liqueur) and these cookies are a delicious way to end your Passover seder. They make even make you feel like you really are in Jerusalem… or if not Jerusalem, at least Tel Aviv. They go perfectly with coffee or tea and are a sweet tidbit that should last you through all eight days of Passover… that is if there are any left when the seder ends.

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Cherry Lime Macaroons

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon Cherry Heering
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped and divided
  • 4-1/2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place the condensed milk, cherry heering, lime zest and 1/4 cup dried cherries in a blender and blend on high until smooth.
  3. While the milk mixture blends, beat the egg whites and salt in a mixer on high until stiff peaks form, 4-5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the milk mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the coconut and remaining cherries. Then using a spatula, fold the whites into the coconut mixture and bring together.
  5. With wet hands form small round balls of the batter about 1-inch in diameter. Place on the prepared baking sheet about 2-inches apart. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating and swapping the positions of the pans halfway through. When ready, the macaroons should be golden brown in spots and tan on the bottom. Cool briefly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely. These macaroons will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

labeled trifle

We’re right in the middle of two of my favorite seasons: citrus and Girl Scout Cookie. Okay, I know Girl Scout Cookies aren’t necessarily a season, but they’re around for at least a month (and still available until March 12th) and that’s more than enough for me.

I’m a huge girl scout cookie fan. I’ve been eating them since I was a girl scout myself, many moons ago. As a matter of fact this year marks the 100th anniversary of girl scouts selling those awesome little cookies. Every time I get an email or text from my friends whose daughters are selling cookies, I immediately make my list of which ones I want. My favorites are the Samoas, Thin Mints and Do-si-dos (but there are several other flavors in case you want to pick some up). While I love munching on those three with a tall glass of milk, the Savannah Smiles are my go to when it comes to baking. It was actually this time last year that I made another recipe using the lemony Smiles thanks to Melissa’s Produce and the Girl Scouts of greater Los Angeles.

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I prefer to bake with the Smiles because they’re light little cookies that taste of sweet lemons. While they’re delicious on their own or with a cup of tea, I like them in my desserts because they add an extra burst of lemon flavor, which is why I knew these little cookies would be a great base for a trifle. I’d only used cake before in trifles because it’s already soft and moist, so I wasn’t sure how the cookies would fare. But they were wonderful. Yes, they got a little soggy from the two different curds, but they still retained a slight crunch and melded with the rest of the trifle wonderfully.

Trifles are often thought of as spring and summer desserts. But since we’re right in the middle of citrus season, this is the perfect opportunity to make a beautiful dessert that’s light and delicious. While lemon curd is a common curd of choice when it comes to trifles, I wanted to add a little something extra. So I didn’t just make a lemon curd, I also made a blood orange curd. Not only does it make for some great colored layers, both curds really smack you with that delightfully tart citrus flavor. When combined with the raspberries and those Savannah Smiles, you get one awesome trifle and a dessert definitely worthy of those amazing girls and all they stand for.

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Citrus Raspberry Trifle

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups butter, cubed and divided
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup blood orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 7 eggs, divided
  • 8 egg yolks, divided
  • a couple drops pink food coloring (optional)
  • 5 pints of raspberries
  • 3 boxes of Savannah Smiles

Directions:

  1. Make the curds: Combine the lemon juice, 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. While the juice mixture boils, whisk 5 eggs and 2 egg yolks with a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and whisk the egg mixture into the juice mixture. Continue stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the curd coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat, whisk in the lemon zest and set aside to cool.
  4. Combine the orange juice, 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  5. While the juice mixture boils, whisk 2 eggs and 6 egg yolks with a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and whisk the egg mixture into the juice mixture. Continue stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the curd coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat, whisk in the orange zest and the food coloring (if you’re using it) and set aside to cool.
  7. Build the trifle: Place one-third of the cookies on the bottom of a large trifle bowl. Spoon half the lemon curd over the cookies and spread to the sides of the bowl. Cover with one-third of the raspberries. Repeat with the remaining cookies, curd and raspberries, alternating between the orange curd and lemon curd as you go. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Melissa’s Produce provided me with the Meyer Lemons and raspberries, and the Girl Scouts provided me with the Savannah Smiles for recipe testing. As always, any opinion expressed is my own and is not influenced in any way by the manufacturer/PR firm as I only review products that I have personally tested and endorse.

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Two big holidays are next week: Valentine’s Day and Galentine’s Day.  Galentine’s Day? What the H.E.double hockey sticks is Galentine’s Day? It’s a relatively new phenomenon where girls get together the day before Valentine’s Day, February 13th, and celebrate. You know, a girls’ night. I mean, why should you miss out on wine and chocolate just because there’s no significant other in the picture? You shouldn’t.

I’m a strong believer in the fact that chocolate shouldn’t just be for those in relationships. It should be for everyone, whether you’re blissfully happy in coupledom or blissfully happy in singledom, whether you’re hanging out with the girls or snuggling up in your favorite pajamas with a good book… or that special someone… or both.

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But if you think chocolates should only come in a box for either of these events, you’re wrong. Chocolate comes in all different shapes and sizes which is why I’m such a fan. Sure, you could enjoy a pound of your favorite chocolates, or you could have it in ice cream form or as a cake or even as a cookie. While I love a box of really good chocolates, I won’t turn down the ice cream, cake or cookies, which is why I’m such a fan of these cute little thumbprints from Dorie Greenspan.

These cookies are great because they aren’t too sweet. The chocolate cookie is made of unsweetened cocoa powder and a touch of sugar, while the filling is made of pure raspberry jam. It’s those little red circles that bring the whole cookie together and add just the right amount of sweetness. And since they’re bright red, they’re prefect for this red and pink holiday, no matter if you’re sharing them with that special someone or adding them to a girls’ night table full of cookies and cakes.

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Chocolate Raspberry Thumbprints (adapted from Dorie’s Cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Sift the flour and cocoa together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat the butter, sugar and salt together in a large bowl until smooth and creamy.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to to low and add the egg whites and vanilla.
  5. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  6. Using a spoon or small cookie scoop, scoop out the dough. Roll each scoop into round balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each ball, it’s probably going to crack a little, but that’s okay. Fill the indentation to the top with jam and repeat with the remaining dough.
  7. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the jam is bubbling, rotating halfway through. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature.

labeled-nuggets

I LOVE cookies! They’re small, sweet, bite-sized circles or squares of deliciousness. So when Melissa’s invited me to a meet, greet and taste all about cookies, I was soooooooooooooooo in!

dorie

In case you aren’t familiar with the name, Dorie Greenspan is a “culinary guru” according to the New York Times. She’s been around the food world for awhile now, working with most of the greats including Pierre Hermé and Julia Child. Through all those years cooking and baking, Greenspan has written several cookbooks and made or created numerous cookie recipes. But until Dorie’s Cookies, she has never written a book about them. This 500-plus page book is filled with every cookie recipe imaginable. Looking for your basic chocolate chip? She’s got it. Want something fruity? It’s in here. Do you prefer nuts or peanut butter? Greenspan’s got you covered. She even has several recipes devoted to different types of brownies. I’m telling you, this book is going to be my cookie bible for years and years to come. The fact that Christmas and Hanukkah are three weeks away, makes this book the perfect go to for all those cookies we want to make.

Now while I’m usually all about sweet cookies, I know not everyone out there likes rich, gooey, sweets. Some people like savory bites instead. Well, don’t worry, there’s a whole chapter on savory options in here called Cocktail Cookies. It’s in this chapter that I discovered these awesome Bee’s Sneeze Nuggets. They’re lemony, salty, spicy bites that are great with a cocktail or some cheese. If however, you want to add a little sweetness, Greenspan suggests dipping them in some honey. I’ve tasted them plain and dipped and they’re great either way.

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Wondering how Greenspan came up with the idea for these little nuggets? From a cocktail menu. She was at Booker and Dax, a cocktail bar in New York City, when her friend ordered the Bee’s Sneeze which was a gin cocktail made with lemon juice, honey, ginger and black pepper. Greenspan took one sip and knew immediately she wanted to turn it into a cookie. She kept all the ingredients from the cocktail and added a little flour and olive oil. What she got were flaky nuggets that are perfect for any cocktail party and a nice change of pace from all the sweet Christmas cookies you’ll be seeing this holiday season.

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Bee’s Sneeze Nuggets

Ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons gin
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and pepper together in a small bowl.
  3. Whisk the lemon juice, oil, gin, and honey together in another bowl.
  4. Toss the sugar and salt in a large bowl with the lemon zest. Then rub the sugar, salt and lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar and salt are moist and aromatic. Mix in the grated ginger. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Make a well in the center and pour in the lemon juice mixture.
  5. Using a fork, mix the dry ingredients into the wet. After a couple minutes you’ll have a soft dough. Fold and knead the dough gently just to pull it all together.
  6. Flour a work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Using your hands, pat the dough into a square shape that’s 1 inch thick.  Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 1-inch squares.
  7. Place the nuggets on the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating the sheets half way through the baking time, until the nuggets are golden brown. Let the nuggets cool completely and serve with honey, cheese or a cocktail.