Cookies and Bars Recipes

Soft & Fudgy Chocolate Pea-nut Butter Cookies 1

Soft & Fudgy Chocolate Pea-nut Butter Cookies

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Hopefully you know enough about me by now to know that I don’t mess around when it comes to dessert. I’m just not going to waste time (or calories) on something that isn’t totally decadent. That whole “black bean brownie” trend just wasn’t for me. I’m going to stop beating around the bush and come out and say it: these cookies have dry peas in them. And they were amazing. I promise!

I was 100% prepared for these cookies to be a complete flop. I regretted tweeting about them because I just knew that the recipe wouldn’t be good enough to post. But you know what? Not only were they not a flop, they were some of the best cookies I’ve made in a long time! Extra moisture from rehydrated and mashed peas makes these cookies really fudgy and brownie-like while the delicate gluten-free flour keeps them light and tender. The deep chocolate and peanut butter flavor masks any potential hint of pea-ness (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Even Shawn, who doesn’t usually touch sweets, helped himself to seconds and asked me if I would make more.

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In keeping with the gluten-free nature of this challenge, I used a sample of King Arthur gluten free multi-purpose flour that I’ve had in my cabinet for forever. If you aren’t concerned with gluten, substitute cake flour rather than all-purpose flour, to maintain the delicate crumb of these cookies. Because gluten-free flour can taste a little chalky when it’s warm from the oven, these cookies are great to make ahead. We liked them better the next day! If you plan to eat them the same day that you bake them, be sure to allow them to cool completely.

Although peanut butter chips don’t include wheat in the ingredient list and appear in many gluten-free recipes, they are not certified gluten-free. If you have celiac or a severe gluten sensitivity, you can substitute chopped, dry-roasted peanuts to avoid any risk of contamination.

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Bruléed Orange Butter Cookies 2

Bruléed Orange Butter Cookies

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I knew that I needed to bring a knockout recipe to the food blogger cookie exchange that I attended last week, so I turned to these citrusy butter cookies. With a delicate crumb, a texture similar to soft shortbread, and a creme brulée-like smattering of burnt sugar that lightly shatters when you bite into it, Bruléed Orange Butter Cookies are a welcome contrast to the denser oatmeal and peanut butter cookies that are so prevalent this time of year. Although these cookies are a festive treat for the holidays, they make a delightful accompaniment to a cappuccino any time of the year.

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While the burnt sugar topping is what takes these cookies to the next level, I understand that a kitchen torch isn’t exactly something that everyone has on hand. My first recommendation is to use this recipe as an excuse to get one – they can be found for under $20 and are also great for toasting the cheese on French onion soup. Alternately, you can brown the sugar under the broiler for 45 seconds; however, taking this approach will also melt the glaze and the cookies won’t look quite as pretty. Of course, they are incredible without the crunchy topping – just be sure to let the glaze fully harden (about 2 hours) before stacking them.

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Click to get the recipe for Bruleed Orange Butter Cookies –>

Chewy Brown Butter-Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies 3

Chewy Brown Butter-Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Psst! Hey… you! Over here. I have cookies.

Not just any cookies: soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies. With brown butter. Because what isn’t better with the addition of brown butter?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a dessert. I’ve been trying to stick to the whole healthy thing. But these last few weeks? They’ve been very healthy; some might even say too healthy. And life is all about balance. No matter how delicious my healthy recipes are, if I don’t get a sweet treat every now and then I get very cranky.

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And these cookies are just what the doctor ordered if you’re in need of a treat! Their delicate crumb and deep, nutty, toffee-like flavor has driven me to distraction. I had originally planned to use them for ice cream sandwiches, but they were so good on their own that before I knew it, there were only two left! (There also may have been a very pathetic instance of me standing in front of the open freezer, eating dough that I had put in there to bake another day. Who had time for baking?) I decided I had better seize the opportunity while I still could, and sandwiched some vanilla bean ice cream between my last two cookies. I immediately set aside any doubt that I had harbored about the potential for the ice cream to ruin a thing that was already too good to be true. It was easily one of the best ice cream sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.

I’ve already made a mental list of events that I can make these cookies for. Because I clearly can’t be trusted with them sitting unclaimed in my kitchen. If you have more restraint than I do — or are generous enough to share them with coworkers or neighbors who will suddenly be your best friends – I highly recommend making these. ASAP.

Chewy cookies not your cup of tea? Try my recipe for Crispy Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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Lavender and Vanilla Bean Macarons

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Why what do we have here? Just my long promised second (and more successful!) post about making macarons! I know. I left you hanging for forever. A few of you even emailed me. But what can I say? I got distracted by other goodies like pineapple upside-down cake, cappuccino cheesecake, and a delicious orange pound cake that I still need to post.

I recently began seeing a group of people on twitter posting about a monthly #mactweets event. It took me a while to figure out what exactly was going on, but eventually I got it : a group of people looking to perfect macarons, and sharing laughs, encouragement, and cheers along the way. All with a monthly theme. I’ve been watching from the sidelines for a while, but decided that this would be the month that I would jump right in.

The theme for March is “Spring Fling: Baking Your Favorite Springtime Flowers.” I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy some of the beautiful dried flowers that they keep in the bulk bins at the co-op, so this was the perfect month for me to start! It took me a while to settle on a flavor, but I ended up choosing lavender and vanilla bean macarons with buttercream frosting.

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I’m not going to lie. These are tricky little devils to make! It actually took me two tries to get them right – I over folded my first batch and ended up with flat, cracked cookies that stuck to the baking sheet and were a huge mess to clean up. But I didn’t give up. Instead, I did a little more reading and gave it another go. My results still weren’t perfect, but they were a lot closer! I mean, how cute are these?!

A few tips that I learned along the way:

  • You need to mix the batter a lot more than you think you should. It’s ok! Start out quickly and the slow down — it should take around 50 strokes. When it’s folded enough, the batter will flow like magma, and a line drawn in it with a knife will disappear after about 10 seconds.
  • Use a scale. It’s much more accurate than trying to measure your ingredients.
  • Parchment paper works better than a silpat. I don’t know why, but it does.
  • Don’t crowd your oven. Bake one tray at a time, turning it halfway through so they cook evenly.
  • It’s much easier to put your “toppings” on before the macarons bake. I don’t now why I thought I would be able to get stuff to stick to them once they were baked last time!!

Also, one of the things that I didn’t like about the other recipe I had used was that it didn’t call for the piped macarons to rest before baking. Instead, you baked them for a few minutes at a high temperature, and then the rest of the way at a lower temperature. I much prefer the method of letting them rest, which helps the tops dry out. When they bake, the dried top will rise straight up, giving you nice, ruffly “feet.”

The tops on this batch isn’t as smooth as I would have liked — blame that on me being lazy and not sifting my sugar/almond mixture. Also, I didn’t let my egg white age (my aged white went into my failed batch). I’m not sure what aging does to them, but these seemed to come out ok. They were also a little more hollow than they should be. So I know what I have to work on for next month. But for now, not bad, if I do say so myself. {….]

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Crispy Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

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(Before I start talking about these cookies, I’ll let you know that there’s a great giveaway at the end of this post. Including FREE CHEESE!)

Ok, now that that’s out of the way…..

I’m not going to go on and on about how these are the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. I promise. Everyone thinks they’re recipe is the best and, honestly, few stand up to the one that printed on the back of the bag of chocolate chips. But sometimes you’re looking for something different. Something… crispier! Soft, gooey cookies have their place but sometimes I just want a little bit of crunch. They’re great for dunking in eggnog (I don’t like dunking soft cookies – they get too soggy) and they keep really well. They best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever? I’ll leave that up for debate. But let’s just say if I was Santa, whatever kid left me a plate of these would be written on the “nice” list in permanent marker. [….]

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies

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A lot of people have asked me if I eat “this way” all the time. Now you’ll be able to see for yourself – I’ve started a new blog where I plan to document everything that I eat in a day. I can’t promise you that it will be pretty, but you will get to see what else I eat – including some recipe failures that I don’t deem good enough to post on this blog for some reason or another. You’ll also get a sneak peek at some up and coming recipes. Why am I doing this? Honestly, I’ve put on about 5 pounds and I don’t like them! I want them gone before I go on a cruise in September, and I know that my main problem is snacking too much. I hope that posting everything I eat will help keep me accountable, and will really make me think about whether I *really* want more cookies. I hope to see you there!

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Speaking of cookies…. The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Since I obviously didn’t need to be eating that many cookies, I decided to make just one of the recipes. It was a tough call: milanos are my favorite, but I’ve also been dying to try making homemade marshmallows. Since this was for Daring Bakers, the marshmallows ultimately won out. [….]