Category Archives: Cookies and Bars

Walnut Brownies

Let me start with an apology. My last post was from mid-March. Pitiful. It’s not that I haven’t been baking these past few month; I have. I’ve just been so consumed with school that I haven’t had time to tell you about it. Will you forgive me? I’d love to tell you that I’ll be baking for you all summer…but I can’t. You see, I’m going to New Jersey for the summer for an internship. I’ll be staying in an extended stay hotel. There’s no oven. That’s right, no oven. This is a sad post so far, isn’t it?

Well the good news is, I will be doing plenty of cooking so you’re likely to see a lot more “real food” around here over the next few months. I’ll also be experimenting with stove-top and no-bake desserts so you (and I) won’t be completely deprived for the summer. Do you feel better now? I do. To make you feel even better (or to make myself feel better, I haven’t decided yet), I made brownies. This is a recipe I saw on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine months ago and have been dreaming about since. I love brownies (who doesn’t?) and I was actually surprised when I realized I haven’t posted a brownie recipe here!

I’ve tried many, many brownie recipes, but haven’t found one I truly love. I think the problem is the chocolate I use. To be honest, it’s hard for me to drop 4 times as much money for the fancy chocolate than I would for the regular (read: cheap) stuff. Is it worth it? Yes, I’m sure it is, but I just can’t do it. What’s good about this recipe is that is uses cocoa powder instead of baking chocolate. Of course, you can buy fancy cocoa powder too, but I find that the difference between fancy and cheap cocoa powder is much smaller than the difference between fancy and cheap baking chocolate. So here we have it! Cocoa brownies with walnuts. They also have browned butter. I can’t decide yet if it makes a difference, but I think the smell of browned butter alone makes it worth it. You can leave the walnuts out if you’d like. I know some people are weird about nuts in their brownies. But you could add in anything you want. Have fun!

*Bonus fact: these are made in one bowl! I refuse to ever make brownies that require more than one bowl.

Walnut Brownies
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Ingredients

  • 10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, chilled
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnut pieces

Directions

Preheat to 325°F. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan (or 7 x 11) with non-stick foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. You can also use foil coated with nonstick spray. Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Be sure to watch closely as it can go from brown to burnt very quickly. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, salt, water, and vanilla. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 30 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Remember that other birthday recpe that I mentioned earlier? Well, here it it. Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies. And here’s the story:

If you’re following along, you’ll know that last week I discovered that my cousin Amy would be in town from Florida just days before her birthday, so I decided to surprise her with a twist on her favorite dessert. As it turns out, my brother’s birthday was the same weekend and wouldn’t you know that he was coming in from out of town too! What kind of sister would I be if I made cookies for my cousin and not for my favorite/only brother? I decided to let him choose what he wanted, and he quickly decided that he wanted mint chocolate chip cookies. There was no recipe, just an idea. The only guideline: “does not necessarily have to be green.”

So off I went looking for a recipe for mint chocolate chip cookies. What we’re talking about here is a plain cookie (i.e. not chocolate) with mint and chocolate chips. Nearly every recipe I found was a riff on a traditional chocolate chip cookie with peppermint extra swapped for the usual vanilla extract and sometimes with green food coloring added. I know I can make chocolate chip cookies, but a certain brother of mine thinks I make them too thin. I love the thin chewy cookie with a crisp edge, but for the purpose of making my brother happy on his birthday I made them puffier. Still chewy, but not so thin.

Then I had a brilliant idea. I’m sure others before me have had this brilliant idea, but I’m going to enjoy it anyway. I decided I would use Andes as the chocolate chips. Brilliant, right? If you’ve never heard of or had Andes, you’re missing out. They’re melt in your mouth chocolates with a creamy mint layer in the middle and they are so good. So I bought one package of Andes (my mother was kind enough to painstakingly unwrap each one), and cut each candy into 4 pieces which ended up giving me about 1 cup of chips, which I then supplemented with regular chocolate chips. You can definitely use all chocolate chips, but the Andes added an extra minty kick to the cookie.

I’m happy to report that the cookies were a hit. They were exactly what my brother wanted. Mission accomplished.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 28-piece package of Andes Crème de Menthe candies
  • About ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small mixing bowl. In a large bowl beat together butter, sugars and peppermint extract until fluffy. Add eggs and beat again until combined.

Mix in the dry ingredients in 3 batches until the batter is completely combined. Stir in the Andes and chocolate chips.

Scoop dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes until cookies are just golden brown around the edges, rotating once halfway through cooking time.

Makes about 40 cookies

Red Velvet Black & White Cookies

This has been a very birthday weekend. So birthday in fact, that I feel it necessary to use “birthday” as an adjective. I think it’ll catch on. I spent Saturday afternoon making two kinds of cookies for two different people. I’ll show you one today and another very soon. So here we go: Red Velvet Black & Whites.

To make a not-so-long story even shorter: My cousin’s bat mitzvah was this weekend in Atlanta and my cousin Amy (amongst many others) came in from Florida for the occasion. It came to my attention that a) Amy’s birthday was the following Monday (today) and b) Amy loves red velvet cake. She says it’s her absolute favorite and she’s a red velvet snob.

Well, I’m no fool. I’d be crazy to try to make a red velvet cake when I know Amy is very particular about it and I’ve never made one before. Plus, she was staying in a hotel. You can’t give a cake to someone on vacation. It’s just not right. What is right is to find a clever variation on red velvet that travels well. Enter the black and white cookie.

The recipe comes from Rachael Ray, and I’ve seen it made by many food bloggers. The cookies turned out amazingly. The icing was the real challenge though. The icing from the original recipe was a traditional black and white cookie icing made with water and powdered sugar. But come on! This is supposed to be red velvet! These cookies needed cream cheese. I took ideas from a few different places and came up with a sort of cream cheese glaze. Unfortunately, I lost track of measurements while I was adjusting to taste, but I’ll do my best to explain the method later.

Ultimately, these cookies turned out great. Plus, Amy loved them, and that’s what matters. The punch-line of “what’s black and white and red all over?” will never be the same…

Red Velvet Black & White Cookies
A full ¼ cup of batter makes for cookies as big as your face. If you want a cookie about 3-inches in diameter use 2-3 tablespoons of batter instead. Be aware that does batter does spread when it cooks, even if you spread it out on the cookie sheet, so be sure to scoop them out far enough apart. You can get 6-8 cookies on a standard baking sheet.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 6 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • Milk
  • Powdered sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

Using a mixer, beat 5 tablespoons butter with the granulated sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, food coloring and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk until smooth.

Place 1/4-cup (or smaller) scoops of batter 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet; spread out. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies sit for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.

Once the cookies are completely cool, beat cream cheese, ¼ cup of powdered sugar and about 3 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl until smooth. Add more sugar until you reach the desired sweetness. You don’t want to icing to be too tangy. Add more milk until you reach a thin, but spreadable consistency. Flip the cookies over so that they are flat side up. Ice one half of the cookie with the white icing. Once all cookies are half-iced, add a few tablespoons of cocoa powder to the remaining icing. You want the icing to be a dark brown, so continue to add cocoa powder until you reach the desired color. Then add more powdered sugar and milk to again reach the desired sweetness and consistency. Ice the other half of each cookie. Refrigerate until set, or eat immediately!

Makes 8-10 very large cookies or about twice as many smaller ones


Double Chocolate Cookies

Why do I keep making cookies? I have no idea. Probably because they’re easy. Easy to make. Easy to grab one every time you enter or exit your apartment. Errr…I’ve eaten a lot of cookies lately. I should probably be nice and give you some healthy options to help you take that holiday weight off, but that’s just not my style.

That’s not to say that I’m not trying to eat healthier or that I don’t want you to eat healthier. I just love baking unapologetically. That means butter, sugar and chocolate. If it makes you feel better you can partner a cookie or two with a salad. I call that dinner.

This recipe came from Ina Garten. The only changes I made were to replace the white chocolate chips with semisweet (I have made them with white chocolate though and I think I may prefer it, and that’s coming from someone who isn’t a huge lover of white chocolate), and to bake less than 15 minutes. I had mine in for about 12 and they were definitely on the more done side of where a cookie should be. Delicious nonetheless. I also halved the recipe because I did not need 40-48 cookies sitting in my kitchen taunting me.

Chewy Ginger Cookies

One perk of being Jewish is that it’s easier to get away with doing things that are typically associated with Christmas at times other than Christmas. Since I’m not supposed to be eating candy canes in the first place, who cares if I eat them after December 25th? I use this weak logic to justify making ginger cookies well into the new year. Isn’t life swell?

This recipe comes from my aunt’s friend Patty (heck, she’s my friend too). It’s the kind of recipe that makes you feel like it’s the holidays even if it’s, oh, the middle of January. If you think that’s it’s still reasonable for me to be making these cookies, talk to me in June when I’ll probably be whipping up another batch.

These cookies are so freaking good. I mean, I’m a friend to all cookies, but these are special. Patty even got a shout-out on NPR because they were so good. You’re not going to questions NPR, are you?

Chewy Ginger Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup shortening
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ¼ cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger*
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Raw or granulated sugar, for rolling

*You can also add crystallized ginger for a more intense ginger flavor.  I recommend processing about ¼ cup of crystallized ginger with the molasses into a paste in the food processor then adding it where you would normally add the molasses.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cream shortening and sugars until fluffy. Add molasses (or ginger molasses paste) and egg. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir dry ingredients into molasses mixture. The dough will be slightly crumbly but should hold its shape, if it doesn’t, add a little more molasses as necessary. Scoop dough into balls (I use a 1½ tbsp scoop) and roll in bowl of sugar. Place on greased or parchment lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for 7-8 minutes and remove cookies when they look slightly underdone.

Makes 2 dozen

Meyer Lemon Bars

I don’t really think of lemon desserts when I think of Wintertime, and I certainly didn’t have any plans to make any this winter. But when Meyer lemons show up in the grocery store at the end of December for the first time all year, you buy them and you make lemon bars. It’s the law.

I found a good looking recipe on Epicurious and, despite suggestions by some of the reviewers, I kept the proportions of crust and filling as written and was not disappointed. Also, although the bars looked thin in the pan they were actually a nice size once cut into 24 bars. I used Meyer lemons instead of regular lemons (duh) and they were delicious, but I’m sure the original version would be just as good.

Meyer Lemon Squares
Adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons grated Meyer lemon peel
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine 1 ½ cups flour and ½ cup powdered sugar in large bowl. Add butter and cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture into bottom of 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Beat eggs, sugar, lemon juice, flour and lemon zest in medium bowl to blend. Pour into crust. Bake until mixture is set, about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Sift powdered sugar over the top then cut into 24 bars.

Makes 24 bars

Chanukah Sugar Cookies

Chanukah means many things: candles, latkes, presents, etc. But if you’re in my family it also means sugar cookies. As far back as I can remember we’ve been making sugar cookies for Chanukah, proven by the fact that this recipe is printed on stationary that says it’s from “the kitchen of the Dinosaurs”.

The Dinosaurs was the name of the preschool class my mom used to teach when my brother and I were little kids at the same school. She loved to bake (it’s in my blood) and loved to do baking activities with the kids. This is the first recipe I think of when I think about the kitchen of the Dinosaurs, but a close second is soft pretzels shaped like your initials. Delicious AND educational! You may be seeing that on here soon.

As for the nonpareils, I have no idea why we use them. It’s not a Jewish thing. It’s just what we do.

Please don’t hold it against me that I’m posted this after Chanukah has ended. Final are coming up. You understand.

Chanukah Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • ¾ stick of butter
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 c flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • Nonpareils or other sprinkles for decorating

Directions

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Bend in oil, egg, vanilla and orange juice. Sift dry ingredients together then blend into wet ingredients. Split dough into two disks and wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight if you can.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°. Roll out chilled dough to about ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle liberally with nonpareils then gently press into dough with a rolling pin. Cut out into whatever shapes you like then place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Gather scraps into a ball then roll and cut out again. Cookies spread slightly, so be sure to leave a little room between them. Bake 6-8 minutes and watch closely. When cookies just barely start to brown on the edges, they’re done.

Makes about 2 dozen depending on shape and size.