Pecan Toffee Snickerdoodles

Hey y’all. It’s been two weeks since my last post rather than the typical one. It wasn’t intentional, I’m just super preoccupied with the goings-on of RL and apart of RL for me right now is getting ready to finish out one stage of my life and transition into a completely different one. I’m a bit on the frazzled side most of the time, but in a good way. Just send me lots and lots of good vibes over the next few weeks.

I’m pretty picky when it comes to my preferences for cookies. It’s a texture thing for me. I do prefer to make them for myself at home just because my texture preferences for cookies are very particular, and I know that I have a better chance at getting the texture that I want in the cookie if I do it myself.

Snickerdoodles are one of those cookies where the texture is key and for that reason, if I want one, I’m more than likely just going to bake it rather than buy. I’d had my eye on this recipe to try out for a while and it really only needed sone modifications in the technique to get it to where it needed to be.

Most snickerdoodles are just flavored with cinnamon, but these have added flavor and texture with the addition of both toasted pecans and chopped Heath chocolate bars. I do recommend giving them the overnight chill in the fridge. There are very few cookie recipes where I don’t do this, as I find that chilled dough just results in a better textured cookie that won’t spread like a pancake when you bake it.

This is truly a next level snickerdoodle. The combination of cinnamon, chocolate and pecans just really works and I’m not sure if I’m ever going to be go back to making them the plain way every again.

Wear a mask. Social distance. If you haven’t already, get the vaccine when you can. Be kind.

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Pecan-Toffee Snickerdoodles

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature  
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar 
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extraxt
  • Five 1.4-ounce chocolate toffee bars, chopped 
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped

Directions

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, or using a handheld one, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until just combined.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients. Beat on low until just combined. Add the chopped chocolate toffee bars and pecans and stir to combine.

Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup or a cookie scoop to scoop leveled mounds of cookie dough. Roll each mound into a ball. Transfer cookie dough balls to a plastic container (place a layer of wax paper, foil or parchment paper in between the top and bottom layer of dough balls so they don’t stick together). Cover the plastic container and refrigerate overnight.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Arrange the cookie dough balls evenly spaced out on the baking sheets. Use the heel of your hands to gently press them down about 1 1/2-2 inches.

Bake the cookies on the middle rack of the oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the edges are rippled and golden brown and the center is soft. Lift the baking sheet up a few inches, then let it tap down once against the flat surface of a countertop.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with the remaining baking sheets.

Also linking this up to Fiesta Friday #379.

Raspberry Hamantaschen

This post is late. In more ways than one.

I typically try to have my weekly blog post up by Saturday, but I was up against a deadline for work and had to push the blog post back a day. Then, this particular post is one I intended to have up several months ago, when it would have made more sense and aligned more with its cultural significance.

But in any case, here we are.

I’m not Jewish, but I was raised in a Christian church where we read from the Book of Esther at least once a year. Long story short, Esther was an ancient Hebrew queen who married a Persian King called Xerxes. The villain in the Book of Esther is one of the King’s advisors, a man named Haman who conspires to kill all of the Hebrew people in Persia without realizing that the Queen herself is Jewish.

In the end, Esther and her cousin Mordecai manage to outsmart Haman and save the Jewish people of Persia from extermination, which from what I understand, is what the Jewish celebration of Purim commemorates. At Purim, Hamantaschen cookies get made. For what ever reason, the cookies are named after Haman, with their triangular shape signifying the shape of his hat.

(At least, that’s my understanding of it, but anyone can feel free to correct any part of the above that’s not accurate if you celebrate Purim.)

Anyway, Purim 2021 was several months ago, but I’ve been intending to try to make Hamantaschen for several years now. I had some raspberry preserves on hand and the process seemed relatively easy, so I decided to give it a try.

Don’t be intimidated by all the steps. The directions are thorough but that’s just to make the process as clear and easy to follow as possible, and if you’d like visuals, just check out the link to the blog I adapted the recipe from.

These were delicious. As you can see, they bake up very pretty and although there was a little bit of seepage of the raspberry preserves, it wasn’t anything that ruined the look or the taste.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine if you can. Be kind.

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Raspberry Hamantaschen

Recipe Adapted from Tori Avey

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into chunks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-5 tsp water (if needed)
  • 1 10 oz jar of raspberry preserves (I liked mine with the seeds, but you can go with seedless if you prefer)

Directions

Sift flour together in a small bowl with the salt. Stir with a fork and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a medium sized mixing bowl until light and fluffy.

Add the egg, orange zest and the vanilla, beating together just until combined.

Add the flour in two batches, mixing just until combined. Begin to knead dough with hands till a smooth dough ball forms. Try not to overwork the dough, only knead till the dough is the right consistency. If the dough is still too dry to hold together, add a few teaspoons of the water at a time, just until it comes together.

Form the dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly flour a smooth, clean surface. Have the raspberry preserves and 1 teaspoon scoop ready.

Unwrap the dough disk and place it on the floured surface. The dough will be very firm after chilling.

Divide the dough into quarters. Roll one quarter at a time out to 1/4 inch thick. At the beginning, it will be tough to roll out– you may need to pound it a bit. A heavy rolling pin works best. As you roll, cracks may form on the edges of the dough. Repair any large cracks with your fingers and continue rolling.

When the dough reaches 1/4 inch thickness, scrape the dough up with a pastry scraper, lightly reflour the surface, and flip the dough over. Continue rolling the dough out very thin (less than 1/8 of an inch thick). The thinner you roll the dough, the more delicate and crisp the cookies will turn out– just make sure that the dough is still thick enough to hold the filling and its shape! If you prefer a thicker, more doughy texture to your cookies (less delicate), keep the dough closer to 1/4 inch thick. Lightly flour the rolling pin occasionally to prevent sticking.

Use a 3-inch cookie cutter (not smaller) or the 3-inch rim of a glass to cut circles out of the dough, cutting as many as you can from the dough.Gather the scraps and roll them out again. Cut circles. Repeat process again if needed until you’ve cut as many circles as you can from the dough. 

Place a teaspoon of the preserves into the center of each circle. Do not use more than a teaspoon of preserves, or you run the risk of your hamantaschen opening and the preserves spilling out during baking. Cover unused circles with a lightly damp towel to prevent them from drying out while you are filling.

Assemble the hamantaschen in three steps. First, grasp the left side of the circle and fold it towards the center to make a flap that covers the left third of the circle.Grasp the right side of the circle and fold it towards the center, overlapping the upper part of the left side flap to create a triangular tip at the top of the circle. A small triangle of filling should still be visible in the center.

Grasp the bottom part of the circle and fold it upward to create a third flap and complete the triangle. When you fold this flap up, be sure to tuck the left side of this new flap underneath the left side of the triangle, while letting the right side of this new flap overlap the right side of the triangle. This way, each side of your triangle has a corner that folds over and a corner that folds under– it creates a “pinwheel” effect.

Pinch each corner of the triangle gently but firmly to secure the shape. If any cracks have formed at the places where the dough is creased, use the warmth of your fingers to smooth them out.Repeat this process for the remaining circles.

When all of your hamantaschen have been filled, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, evenly spaced.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-25 minutes, until the cookies are cooked through and lightly golden. Start checking them at 10 minutes; because the dough thickness tends to vary on these cookies they can cook quite fast if rolled thin. In most ovens it will take around 15-20 minutes, but best to keep a close watch over them as they cook to avoid overcooking or burning.

Cool the cookies on a wire rack. Store them in a tightly sealed plastic bag or Tupperware.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #377, cohosted this week by Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons.

Cappuccino M&M Cookie Bars

When it comes to candy, I really only still rock with chocolate. Snicker bars are the perfect candy bar. Peanut M&Ms also remain a favorite of mine.

About two years ago, I discovered a flavor of Peanut M&Ms called Coffee Nut. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that coffee and I are bound at the hip. I love to drink with it, and I’ve also loved finding ways to incorporate it into my cooking and baking.

But y’all, let me tell you: Coffee Nut M&Ms are unparalleled when it comes to coffee flavored anything, let alone coffee flavored candy. They are SOOOOO good.

And apparently I’m not the only one that feels that way, because whether I’m on the West or East coast, Coffee Nut M&Ms are always a hot commodity in grocery stores. It’s a toss up whether or not they have any in stock, and if they do, I always buy 2-3 bags just to stock up in case there aren’t any later. While they’re perfectly delicious on they’re own, the baker in me is always thinking about a way to repurpose my favorite ingredients into a recipe, and this was no exception.

Cookie bars are an easy and pretty foolproof way of baking cookies when you don’t have the time or energy to let the dough chill or roll out individual portions. They taste the same, they just have a tendency to be a bit more chewy and fudgy in texture–which I prefer with my cookies anyway.

When it came to these, I adapted a chocolate chip cookie bar recipe and made some modifications; first, I obviously swapped out the chocolate chips for the Coffee Peanut M&Ms, and then I added some instant espresso powder to the dough. After they were finished, I topped them off with a cappuccino flavored glaze.

If you’re a coffee lover, these are a must try.

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Cappuccino M&M Bars

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

For Cookie Bars

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 Cup Coffee Nut Peanut M&Ms

For Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot cappuccino
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with foil or parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides; coat the foil or parchment paper with cooking spray.

Beat the 2 sticks softened butter, 1 cup each granulated and light brown sugar and espresso powder with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy.

Add the 3 eggs, one at a time and the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low. Add 3 cups flour and 3/4 teaspoon each baking soda and salt; beat until combined. Stir in the M&Ms.

 Spread the cookie dough in the prepared pan or press in using damp or oiled fingers. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Allow to cool completely. To make the glaze, combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until it has reached desired consistency. Use a fork to drizzle over the cooled bars.  Allow glaze to set, then cut into squares.

Fiesta Friday #373, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats & Greens.

Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies really should be a separate ‘genre’ of baking all on their own.

I know that they’re a classic and with classics people tend to search for that One and Only Holy Grail of a recipe, but in my experience I’ve found that there are so many ways to make a perfect one.

My mom always used to tell me that in both cooking and baking, getting ‘good’ was a matter of getting comfortable with a base recipe and/or technique, then once I grew comfortable with it, experimenting with other flavors and seeing what worked and what didn’t. It’s advice that’s never steered me wrong in the kitchen.

The older I get, the more that I notice that my taste buds tend to prefer a counterbalance to the sweetness with either salt or bitter flavors. Salt and sweet is a combination that I’m growing increasingly interested in using in baking, and today’s recipe was eye-opening in showing me just how well it could work.

A chocolate chip cookie with pecans is already a winner so far as I’m concerned, but this recipe takes things a step further. First, butterscotch, butternut or butter-rum flavor is added to the dough, which I would best describe as a rich browned butter extract that pairs VERY well with chocolate. If you can’t find it in stores, it’s definitely available on Amazon. And if you can’t find it at all, that’s fine too. The cookies will still come out amazing because of the second element.

After the dough is made, chilled and portioned out into balls, it then gets rolled in a mixture of sugar and salt. As it bakes, that sugar and salt creates a sort of crackly, salty-sweet crust on the outside of the cookie.

And y’all: that crust is where the magic happens.

In the first place, it creates amazing texture to contrast with the fudgy, chewy interior of the cookie itself. And second, the flavor of the salt in that sugar crust is INSANE. Taken together with the sweetness of the sugar, the nuttiness of the pecans, and the slight bitterness of the chocolate, it literally hit every note.

I tried these on a whim and I can honestly say they’re my new favorite way to make chocolate chip cookies, and are definitely in my top three of cookies I’ve ever made. They’re well worth trying out.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine when it’s your turn. Be kind.

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Salty-Sweet Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups pecan halves
  • 2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup  granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons  butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon butterscotch, vanilla-butternut, or butter-rum flavor, optional
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, mixed with 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, for topping* (The amount of salt depends upon how much of a salty-sweet combination you prefer. I went for the full 1 teaspoon, and it was perfect, to ME.)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Place the pecans in a single layer in a pan, and toast until they’ve darkened a bit and smell toasty, about 8 to 9 minutes. Set them aside to cool, then chop coarsely.

In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, espresso powder, baking soda, and extracts, beating until smooth and creamy.

Beat in the egg, again beating until smooth. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined.

Mix in the flour, then the chips and toasted nuts.

If you’re going to refrigerate the dough, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for about 4 to 5 hours; or overnight. Cookie dough refrigerated for 4 to 5 hours will spread moderately; chilled overnight, it will spread much less.

Mix the 1/3 cup sugar and salt for the coating, and put it in a bowl. Use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to scoop 1 1/2″ balls of dough into the sugar/salt mixture, rolling to coat. Then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2″ between them on all sides; they’ll spread quite a bit. Or use a teaspoon cookie scoop to scoop 1 1/4″ balls of dough.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes — 10 minutes for smaller cookies made from unrefrigerated dough, 12 for larger cookies whose dough has been refrigerated (and something in between for other iterations of size and refrigeration). Their edges will be chestnut brown and their tops a lighter golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan until they’ve set enough to move without breaking. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #370.

Browned Butter Sandwich Cookies

I love when something happens that’s unexpected but really awesome.

The weekend I made today’s recipe, I had several surprises happen that were really unexpected, but still great. I was in a great mood, I had more time to experiment in the kitchen than I normally do, and so I decided on a random whim to try out something new.

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know that I am a staunch browned butter advocate. Regardless of the food, it will improve literally anything that you’re cooking, whether it’s sweet or savory.

Slice and bake cookies are another of those baking recipes that I put in my “You Can’t Mess this Up” category. The dough is very quick and forgiving in putting it together, and after you’ve let it rest in the fridge, all that’s left to do is literally slice, throw the cookies on a sheet and bake them up.

Best of all, it’s also a recipe where you don’t have to bake the batch all at once if you prefer not to. You can leave the log in the fridge or freezer, slice off as many cookies as you want (or don’t want), and save the rest for later.

Having said that, I will throw out a disclaimer in that, you’re going to want to make the whole batch of these because they’re just that good and if you have other people living with you in your house, they’re going to gobble them up and you won’t have enough ready-made for yourself to enjoy.

I can predict this, because it’s pretty much what happened to me.

If I had to describe what they taste like, I’d say they are the best pecan sandie you’ve ever had and didn’t know that you needed in your life. The cookie is delicious enough by itself; it’s crisp and full of nutty, pecan flavor. The filling is what sends them over the top: it’s rich, and full of that delicious, golden flavor that can only come from browned butter.

These disappeared in our house quick. Try ’em out.

Wear a mask. Social distance. Get the vaccine when it’s your turn. Be kind.

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Browned Butter Sandwich Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Land O’ Lakes

Ingredients

For Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (yolks only)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For Filling

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of Half & Half, cream, or milk

Directions

For Cookies:

Combine 1 cup butter and brown sugar in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add egg yolks and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla; continue beating until well mixed. Add flour, pecans and salt; beat at low speed until dough forms a ball.

Divide dough in half; shape each half into 10-inch-long log (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter). Wrap each log tightly in plastic food wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut each log into 1/8-inch slices with sharp knife; place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7-9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.

For Filling: Melt 1/4 cup butter in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5-6 minutes or until butter just starts to brown. (Butter will bubble and foam. Watch closely.) Immediately remove from heat. Cool 5 minutes. Stir in powdered sugar,1/2 teaspoon vanilla and enough half & half for desired spreading consistency.Spread 1 level teaspoon filling on bottom-side of 1 cookie; top with second cookie, bottom-side down. Squeeze together gently. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #369.

Brookies (It’s a Brownie and a Chocolate Chip Cookie)

Y’all. I have an announcement to make.

I’ve made a love connection.

No. Not *that* kind of a love connection. But it’s just as good. Maybe even better.

I’m in a phase right now where what I want most from my desserts is texture. Thick, chewy, fudgy texture. As a result, (and if you’ve been following along with the blog, you’ll have no doubt noticed this) I’ve been churning out a lot of thick cookies, brownies, blondies and whatnot from my kitchen because everything I make on the blog, we actually eat.

(Throwing away food is a no from me; but also, we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic, so we don’t go anywhere where I can give it away either)

This is another one of those recipes where I’d heard of it before, but I have no idea what took me so long to finally getting around to trying it out. It combines two of my favorite desserts–the brownie and the chocolate chip cookie into one truly perfect bite: the Brookie.

So how is it done? Pretty easily enough you may be surprised to find out. You make the recipes for the two desserts separately; first a cookie dough, then a brownie batter. The brownie batter is spread in the bottom of the pan and dolloped with cookie dough.

And then…a true love connection is made.

You’d think that the chocolate chip cookie layer would be overpowered by the  brownie layer, but it isn’t. It forms a crackly, brown sugar-y crust that evens out the richness of the brownie beneath perfectly. And don’t even get me started about what it tasted like with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Sinful I tell you.

You all absolutely have to try this. It’s become one of our new favorite desserts, and I guarantee that it’ll become one of yours too.

There’s a certain holiday coming up that celebrates love connections, and all I can say is that I think this a perfect dessert to make for one.

Brookies

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

For Cookie Dough Layer

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

For Brownie Layer

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

Directions

For Cookie Dough:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with butter; line with parchment, leaving a slight overhang on long sides. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter with both sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in egg. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture; beat until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate. Set aside

For Brownie Batter

Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl set over (not in) a pot of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat; whisk in granulated sugar. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Whisk in cocoa and salt. Fold in flour until combined.

Pour brownie batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with an offset spatula. Crumble cookie dough evenly over batter.

Cover with parchment-lined foil; bake until just set, 20 minutes.

Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into center (avoiding chocolate chunks) comes out with moist crumbs, 27 to 30 minutes more.

Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Lift brookies from pan using parchment; cut into squares.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #36.

Coffee Blondies

I have a love-hate relationship with coffee. And by love-hate I mean, I love drinking the stuff, but I also hate that I’m semi-addicted to it.

I go through these periods (I’ve gone as long as a few years at a time) where I can completely kick the habit and not even miss it. But then, out of nowhere the craving for it will settle in and suddenly I’ve got to have it and I fall off the wagon and go back to my dependency on it like nothing ever happened. It’s odd.

I’m regrettably back in my dependency stage at the moment. Every night before bed I ensure that I place the grounds and the water in my coffee maker and set the timer to make sure it’s ready for me in the morning. First thing in the morning after I wake up and brush my teeth, I go into the kitchen, pour out two in two mugs, then put them both in the fridge to chill for about an hour. I add a coffee ice cube to the mug (yes, I keep coffee ice cubes in my freezer) a little bit of milk, then a splash of vanilla syrup, and bam. That’s how I take it. Every day.

There’s usually at least a little bit of coffee left in the pot at the end of the day, and I try not to end up throwing it out–especially if it’s good coffee. As I said, my most common use for the ‘leftover’ coffee is to freeze it into ice cubes. The other is to try and bake something with it.

Coffee is an ingredient that can really enhance the flavor of chocolate, which is why sometimes you’ll see it included in brownie or chocolate cake recipes. But for coffee fanatics like me, sometimes you want a dessert that makes it the central flavor. I’ve experimented with coffee in desserts before on the blog, including this pound cake (one of the best cakes I’ve ever tasted for what it’s worth), as well as with cookies and scones. Today, I’m trying something new.

I’m in a phase where I really want texture from my desserts. I like chewy richness, like the kind you can only get in a pie, or brownies, or thick cookies…or blondies.

The blondie itself is like a really rich, chewy cookie. Take a look at that shiny, crackly crust, would you? The nuts add another textural element to that chewiness. Best of all, because it’s a blondie and not a brownie, the coffee flavor stands out on its own. These are everything that my tastebuds want. They come together in minutes and bake in less than an hour, so it’s also a pretty fool-proof recipe too. Even if you don’t like coffee, I think you’d still like these.

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Coffee Blondies

Recipe Adapted from Canadian Living

Ingredients

1½ cups (213 g) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks; 170 g) unsalted butter, cold
1½ cups (297 g) packed brown sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons strong coffee, room temperature
1 egg
1½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup (86 g) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
¾ cup (128 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking pan and line it with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder with a fork and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and salt. Remove from the heat and stir in the coffee until well combined. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add the pecans and chocolate chips and stir gently.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake 18 to 24 minutes, until the blondies are set on the edges and the top is golden brown and just beginning to form cracks. A wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies should come out with just a couple of crumbs.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut them into squares.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #364, hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Petra @ Food Eat Love.

Secret Ingredient Rice Krispie Treats

So, I feel like on a list of the easiest things to cook/bake, rice krispie treats are right up there with spaghetti, scrambled eggs, and grilled cheese sandwiches. They all feature pretty basic ingredients, come together within minutes and are all (I think) pretty hard to mess up.

Even back when I was an abysmal cook, I knew how to put together rice krispie treats. No matter what anybody says, the pre-made packaged ones don’t taste as good as the ones made from scratch. They just don’t.

There’s nothing wrong with pre-packaged rice krispie treats, but I’m partial to making my own from scratch because if I can control the amount of marshmallow in the mix, then I can control the ‘gooey-ness’ factor. Packaged ones don’t really have it.

You want to know what ones do? These.

I’m always interested in finding ways to improve on classics, and today’s recipe is another one of those ways. If you’re a fan of scratch made rice krispie treats and you want to up their gooey-ness factor, this is for you. It doesn’t require a whole lot of extra steps or ingredients. There’s just one extra step and one extra addition to the usual suspects of ingredients, actually:

Browning the butter, and a can of sweetened condensed milk.

That’s right folks. Browning your butter and adding sweetened condensed milk to your treats mix will alter everything you ever thought you knew about how to make or eat rice krispie treats. You are not prepared for how incredible this is. I wasn’t. The rich, gooeyness it adds to them is everything you want in a treat. It adds a real ‘bakery’ taste and flavor to them that almost makes no sense, because rice krispie treats aren’t baked at all. I don’t understand it, and I really don’t need to. I’m just glad to have discovered it, and you will be too once you try this out for yourself.

Wear a mask. Social Distance. Stay safe. Be kind.

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Secret Ingredient Rice Krispie Treats

Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 6 cups toasted rice crisp cereal, such as Rice Krispies
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (10-ounce) package mini marshmallows (about 4 cups)

Directions

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the cereal and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or pot over low heat, gently stirring with a rubber spatula so all the butter melts evenly. When the butter is bubbling, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk* and stir to combine.

Bring the sweetened condensed milk to a boil (this will happen really quickly) and cook for about a minute until it is fragrant. Once the butter begins to foam, watch carefully, as it will quickly begin to brown and emit a nutty aroma. When browned, turn off the heat. Stir in the salt and vanilla.

Working quickly, add half the marshmallows and stir until thoroughly melted. Add the remaining marshmallows and stir until melted. The residual heat from the butter should be enough to melt them off the heat, but you can return the pot to low heat for a few seconds if the marshmallows aren’t melting easily. Keep a close eye on the butter, however — you don’t want it to continue to brown to the point of burning.

Add the toasted cereal and gently fold it in until the cereal is completely coated with the marshmallow mixture.

Transfer the mixture to an 8 x8 inch baking pan that you’ve sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Using the rubber spatula, lightly and gently press into an even layer.

Let the treats stand at room temperature until set and completely cool, about 1 hour.

Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

*This all depends on how gooey you want the treats to be. I went for the full 1/2 cup.

Linking up to Fiesta Friday #362, co-hosted this week by Petra @ Food Eat Love.

Cranberry Pound Cake

Happy eve of Christmas Eve everyone. We’ve reached the final day of the 12 Days of Christmas series on the blog. And as with every year, I feel a little blue about it. I’ve said before that the lead up to Christmas Day is actually my favorite part of the season, not the actual day itself. Once the day comes, it’s already almost over and the next one is as far away as it’s ever going to be. Add to that this year has been… a particularly different kind of year and holiday season for most of us.

2020 has been very, very difficult. Unimaginable, really. If you’re reading this and you have experienced particular hardship, tragedy or loss in 2020–also if the holiday season is a typically bleak and sad time of year for you in general– please know that you are in my thoughts. I wish there was a way that I could send/share some warmth, compassion and light in your direction–or at the very least some of my food.

I don’t know what all is going to happen in 2021. After the year we’ve had, it’s rather pointless to try and make predictions. The best that I can do is to remain grateful for all of the blessings I have in my life, and to hang on to the hope that better things and times are on the horizon for myself, and for all of you reading this blog post.

12 Days/recipes of baking a lot of work, but I do it because it never fails to insert a lot of light and cheer into my holiday season. To those who’ve been following along with it, I hope that my little baking series has done the same for you.

I decided to close out the series with pound cake, because why not? It’s something that I think it’s safe to say, most people like, and it gave me another opportunity to work with an ingredient I’ve been particularly obsessed with this season: fresh cranberries. Cranberries are a perfect addition to pound cake because as with many other desserts, they provide a much needed tart and slight bitterness to balance out all the sugar. With six eggs in the batter, this cake is extremely dense and rich, but the cranberries give it a real lift of freshness that almost makes you forget about pesky little things called calories. This is a really delicious cake, you guys. Try it sometime.

I wish everyone a sincere and heartfelt Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Stay safe. Wear a mask. Social distance. Be kind.

 

Day 1: Orange Cranberry Buns

Day 2: Sausage Bread Pudding & Cranberry Sauce

Day 3: Sugar & Spice Crackers

Day 4: Cranberry Cookie Tart

Day 5: Spicy Gingerbread Sticks

Day 6: Reindeer Munch

Day 7: Jell-O Butter Cookies

Day 8: Gingerbread Blondies

Day 9: Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle

Day 10: “Berry” Christmas! Scones

Day 11: Chocolate Turtles

Day 12: Cranberry Pound Cake

Cranberry Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

Ingredients

For Cake

  • 1 lb. unsalted butter (4 sticks), softened
  • 2 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • a few tablespoons orange juice

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 16 cup (10 inch) Bundt or tube pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) beat the butter at medium speed until creamy and lighter in color. Gradually add the sugar, about 1 cup at a time, beating 5-7 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears. (Make sure you scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as you’re doing this to ensure even mixing.)

Add the flour to the butter mixer alternatively with the milk (begin and end with the flour). Beat at a low speed, just until combined after each addition. Add the extracts and the cranberries, stirring just until combined.

Pour the batter into the cake pan. Lift and tap it down on the counter a few times (this will prevent air bubbles from forming).

Place the cake pan on a sheet pan, then bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (Pound cake is done at an inner temp of 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Cool in pan on a wire rack 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.

For icing, stir together ingredients in a small bowl, then use a small fork to drizzle on top of cake. Allow icing to set for about 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle

As the saying goes, you learn something new every day; hopefully, the something new that you learn is useful and pleasant. Today’s recipe came as a result of me recently learning something new that was useful, pleasant, and delicious. It’s always nice when that happens.

It wasn’t until the month of November in the year 2020 that I learned about a nifty little invention called cookie brittle for the first time. Maybe some of you will be learning about it for the first time in reading this blog post. To you, I say: welcome. Your lives will never be the same.

Cookie brittle is a cookie dough made without any leavening agents (no egg, no baking powder, no baking soda). Ingredient wise, it resembles shortbread. But the method in making it departs from shortbread in that no air whatsoever is whipped into it. Instead, the butter is melted, combined with sugar, then spread thin into a sheet pan. With no air or leavening, the baked dough creates a very close textured crumb that after it cools becomes extremely, well…brittle.

I have a very special relationship to chocolate chip cookies. I have a go-to recipe that I very seldom deviate from, as I believe it’s as close to perfection as one can get. But in this instance I was just too curious not to give this cookie brittle thing a try. Boy. I learned something that day, that’s for sure. Texturally speaking, cookie brittle goes far beyond the texture of crispy chocolate chip cookies like Chips Ahoy or Tate’s Bake Shop. It’s called brittle for a reason; if I had to describe it, I would say that it’s like…a chocolate chip cookie crunchy toffee. Chocolate chip cookie candy. Now, doesn’t that sound absolutely delicious?

The recipe is actually very easy to follow, you just have to make sure that you follow it to a T. The dough has to be cool before you mix in the chocolate and nuts, and you have to be careful not to leave it in the oven too long. Because it’s baked directly in an ungreased pan, it can go from perfectly golden brown to burned in seconds. Don’t ask me how I found out both of those tips, just follow them.

Did I mention that this also makes great gifts? Cause it does. That’s if you’re still feeling in the giving Christmas spirit after trying this for yourself. You may not be. It’s that good.  

Day 1: Orange Cranberry Buns

Day 2: Sausage Bread Pudding & Cranberry Sauce

Day 3: Sugar & Spice Crackers

Day 4: Cranberry Cookie Tart

Day 5: Spicy Gingerbread Sticks

Day 6: Reindeer Munch

Day 7: Jell-O Butter Cookies

Day 8: Gingerbread Blondies

Day 9: Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle

Recipe Courtesy of Cookies & Cups

Ingredients

  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup Turbinado sugar (Sugar in the raw)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set aside a large rimmed baking sheet.

In a medium saucepan on medium heat combine the butter and sugar, stirring constantly. Once butter is melted, cook for one more minute and remove it immediately from the heat, being careful not to bring the mixture to a boil. Alternatively place butter and sugar in a large heat-safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 90-120 seconds until the butter is melted and sugar has dissolved slightly.

Whisk mixture until it is combined.Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes (this part is VERY important, it needs to be cool before you continue) and then whisk mixture again for 1 minute.

Whisk in the vanilla and the salt. Stir in the flour until the dough forms and then stir in the pecans and chocolate chips.

Press the dough onto the ungreased pan spreading it out all the way to the edges, you want the brittle to be thin.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, rotating the pan every 7-8 minutes until it’s lightly golden and firm to the touch in the center.

Let the brittle cool in the pan for 3 minutes and then line a counter or second baking sheet with parchment paper and invert the first pan onto the second, and allow it to cool completely.

Break the brittle into pieces and enjoy!