Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

reesescookies

My husband and I are huge fans of warehouse club shopping. The only one out here is Sam’s Club, but we’re getting a Costco soon, and I couldn’t be more excited to check that place out!

Even though there’s just two of us in the house, we buy a lot of staples there. To name a few, we like to buy cheap spices, baking ingredients, frozen fruits, meat (we use our FoodSaver religiously), dog treats and a lot of times, even clothes!

Clothes are a new thing, for sure. Before my weight loss journey began, I barely fit in the shirts they would sell there. It’s very odd to now go to Sam’s, and purchase jeans/shirts/cardigans from there. It all fits now! It’s awesome, because it’s dirt cheap and most of the time, they offer fairly classic pieces.

The nemesis of warehouse club shopping, however, are the impulse buys. Whew…can’t tell you how many times random things just hop in our cart! In fact, just recently, there was a bulk box of Reese’s mini cups (the already unwrapped kind) that somehow found its way in our cart. :-P

Since I had a plethora of Reese’s cups to now use up, I decided that cookies would be an awesome idea. I searched the Internet, and found these giant cookies. I was immediately smitten. These were so good…they have the classic chewy peanut butter cookie flavor with Reese’s all throughout. Can’t go wrong here, folks!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
Source: Real Mom Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 32 mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, quartered

Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the butter and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer, and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Scrape down the bowl, and add the peanut butter, eggs and vanilla. Mix until well-combined
    2. With the mixer on low, add in the baking soda, salt and flour. Mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and Reese’s cups using a spatula.
    3. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto a parchment or silicone mat lined cookie sheet. For me, 6 cookies fit on each sheet. Slightly flatten each scoop with your hand, and then bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes.
    4. Allow the cookies to cool for 2 minutes, then place them on a cooling rack to finish cooling.

 

 

 

Chocolate Malted Milk Ball Cookies

whoppercookies

Do you ever smell something that just takes you back to a memory? I had a memory like that when I was making the batter for these cookies.

When I was a kid, one of my uncles used to own a snoball stand. In case you don’t know what New Orleans style snoballs are, you’re missing out they are basically ice, VERY finely shaved with flavored syrups added throughout. I know it doesn’t sound like anything special, but the ice is what makes it. Next time you’re in NOLA for the Spring/Summer, seek out a snoball. It’s worth it.

I remember going to my uncle’s snoball stand quite frequently, and just watching them work. Since they were close to so many refineries (lots of people working outside in the Louisiana heat), there was never a dull moment there. They were always busy. Since he also had a soft serve machine in his stand (to make stuffed snoballs), he would also offer malts and shakes. OMG…the banana shakes that he would make were just amazing. To this day, banana is my favorite flavor in a shake. However, when I tried the malt, I was ehh…it was the ONE THING I just didn’t like. Am I weird for not liking malts?

Ever since trying a malt as a kid, I’ve just steered clear of anything malt-y flavored. Malts, malted milk balls…if it has anything to do with a malt flavor, I’m out. After Halloween, I was sorting through our leftover candy and found a TON of malted milk ball packs in the bowl. I stashed them in the fridge, and forgot about them…until this month. I was looking through one of my cookbooks, and came across these cookies. Perfect.

I whipped up the dough for these, and decided since I haven’t tried malted anything in at least 15 years, I’d try a cookie. I found that I’m still not a fan of malted anything…ah well! So, I brought them to my coworkers. Y’all…if you’re a lover of the malted milk balls, try these cookies. I had quite a few coworkers stop by my office asking for this recipe. They were apparently that good. :-)

Chocolate Malted Milk Ball Cookies
Source: Baking From My Home to Yours

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup malted milk powder (regular or chocolate flavored)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick + 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups Whoppers (malted milk balls), coarsely chopped
  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Prepare two cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside. Sift together the flour, malted milk powder, cocoa, baking powder and salt into a medium sized bowl, and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  3. Reduce the speed on the mixer to low, and add in half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add in the milk, and then the remainder of the dry ingredients, mixing again, until just combined. With a spatula, fold in the Whoppers and chocolate chips.
  4. Scoop the dough with a tbsp. sized scoop onto the lined cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between the cookies. Bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes, rotating the sheets in the oven halfway through the baking process. Do not overbake…these cookies will be puffy and set, but still slightly soft to the touch when done. Allow the cookies to cool for 2 minutes after baking before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack.
  5. Repeat until all of the dough is used, keeping in mind to allow the cookie sheets to fully cool between batches. Enjoy!

Quick(er) Royal Icing

Magically Royal Icing

Tomorrow, I’ll be on a plane en route to Orlando, Florida for my first Food Blog Forum. Last year, I stalked Twitter and Instagram the whole weekend of the conference, and it sounded like everyone had a fantastic time. You really can’t go wrong with food bloggers and Disney. :-) After reading blog recaps last year, I just knew that I had to go to the one this year. I was so happy to see the dates, because there were no conflicts. You see, this weekend is sandwiched between my husband’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. It was the perfect date to go without feeling insanely guilty for missing a personal holiday. :-)

I’m sort of obsessed with all things Disney. There’s videos of me from a family trip when I was 3 years old at Disney World. I could see that while I was petrified of the characters (my reaction was OMG…Mickey is HUGE?! WAHHH!!), while at the parades and on the rides, I was beaming. Absolutely BEAMING. Even at home, Disney was the best! I was obsessed with the animated movies, Sing Along Song tapes & the books. Also, for the first few years of my life, my Uncle Brian had a picture of the infamous “Epcot ball” (as we called it) in the living room. He would point to it, and ask us “What’s that?” We knew that if we said “Epcot”, it would be a tickle war. So, I quickly learned other words…simply calling it a ball, a circle…ANYTHING but EPCOT! LOL! It’s one of the few memories I have of my uncle. He went to Disney World multiple times a year and had a killer pin collection. Disney was his thing. Sadly, cancer took my uncle when I was 5 years old, so I always tear up a little when I see the “Epcot Ball”…even as an adult. (Whew…I’m wiping tears writing this post. This is supposed to be a happy post, right?)

Anyway, it just goes to show you that Disney will always have a special place in my heart. Always. And while being at Disney World this weekend is a definite perk, I’m really looking forward to meeting so many bloggers that I consider my friends. While I’ve never met many bloggers in real life, I feel like I have a great friendship with so many of you. So, I’m very excited to finally meet and talk to those who are attending.

I thought it would be fun to psych myself up for the weekend by decorating some sugar cookies with a cookie cutter from Disney World. While decorated sugar cookies are usually very time consuming, I saw this post which made me think otherwise. This royal icing (originally by Sweetopia) eliminates the need for using both an outline and flood icing. It’s all in one. The consistency reminds me of a super thick flood icing, so while you can’t pipe many details, you can do a good basic cookie with this recipe. It took me three hours to go from cookie dough to decorated cookies. Crazy, right? I think I’m going to use this from now on for when I make multiple decorated cookies (especially for the holiday season). I’m so glad I found this! Make sure you follow this recipe perfectly, though (note: when the hand whisk vs. when to use your mixer).

Quick(er) Royal Icing
Source: The Way to His Heart, originally from Sweetopia

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 5 tbsp. meringue powder
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 2 1/4 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a mixer, add the water and meringue powder. Hand whisk the mixture for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the cream of tartar, and hand whisk again for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the confectioners’ sugar & extract, and mix with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer on low for 10 minutes.
  4. Optional: add gel food coloring to tint the icing to the color(s) of your liking.
  5. To decorate your cookies, add the icing to a squeeze bottle and pipe/fill the cookies with the icing. Allow the cookies to dry for a full 24 hours before serving.

Italian Anise Cookies

Italian Anise Cookies

About a month ago, the local grocery store started carrying Italian cookies (baked by a local small business). I’m a huge fan of Italian cookies…cuccidati, sesame cookies, anise cookies, biscotti…you name it, I probably love it! Since I missed out on the St. Joseph’s altar this year, I was definitely craving some cookies after I saw them in the store. Instead of purchasing them though, I wanted to make them. I’m stubborn like that, and hey, our church fair was coming up….the sweets booth needed donations. :-) Any excuse to bake, right?

The only issue I’ve faced with Italian cookies is that it’s VERY hard to find a good recipe, since they’re almost always a family secret. :-( Most of the recipes that I find on the Internet are very hit or miss, and I lucked out with this one (being a hit). It’s a soft, cakey cookie with a very subtle anise flavor. It’s enough to give a hint of anise, but not enough to make you think oh man, that’s too strong. :-) You have to be careful with anise extract…too much of it can make something taste like licorice…it’s a strong extract! I loved adding the icing and sprinkles. I made mine in mint green and pink, and went a little crazy with leftover pastel non-pareils. They turned out so spring-y and fun! I tried one of these, and it was just so good! I bagged them up immediately so I wouldn’t eat a dozen. :-) I need to make these again…or it’s probably best that I don’t. :-P

Italian Anise Cookies
Source: Food.com

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. anise extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 -3 tbsp. milk

For the icing:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp. milk
  • 1/8 tsp. anise extract
  • food coloring
  • decorative candy sprinkles

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare the cookie sheets by lining them with a Silpat or parchment paper, and set them aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, and mix well after each addition. Add the anise and almond extracts.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder. With the mixer on low, add in 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and then add 1 tbsp. of the milk. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1 tbsp. of milk. Repeat once more with the remaining flour and milk, and mix until the dough is brownie batter like.
  4. Use a 1 tbsp. cookie scooper to make simple drop cookies. Keep a bowl of warm water handy to dip your fingers in (use your wet fingers to smooth the tops/sides of the cookies, since it is a rather sticky dough).
  5. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes (they will not brown in that time, but they will be done), and then place them on a cooling rack to cool.
  6. While the cookies are cooling, make the anise icing. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, milk and extract together. Then, add in the food coloring of your choice (it doesn’t take much with this icing to get the color you want). The icing will be a little on the thick side, so it’s best to microwave it for a few seconds to make it thin enough for dipping.
  7. Once your icing is microwaved/thinned out, it’s time to dip the cookies. Hold the cookie in your hand (top side down), and dip the top half of the cookie in the icing. Shake off the excess icing, turn the cookie over and place on the cooling rack. Immediately add sprinkles over the iced cookie (the icing sets fast). Repeat until all cookies are iced/sprinkled. Then, allow the cookies to set overnight on the cooling rack before serving.

Monster Cookies

Monster Cookies

In the 13 months that I’ve been on my weight loss journey, I’ve never found myself as challenged as I am this month. Last January, when I started counting calories, I was on a weight loss high. I was dropping weight left and right, and it was completely motivating to stay on track. This January, however, my weight isn’t coming off as quickly as it did (of course), and for some reason, I keep having a raging craving for all things sweet. I usually have some awesome willpower to say “no”, but I’m finding that I can’t trust myself lately.

Example: I bought a king cake for the first time this season. That same day, I ate THREE slices. The scale went up 2 lbs. ::sad:: Must.find.willpower.ASAP!

Now, I find that I’m improving a bit since Christmas. Y’all….the holidays had a ton of food. It all started with a cruise that my husband and I went on. Unlimited food that was already included? Well, let’s just say five pounds later I found myself standing on the scale in awe. You would think my mind would say GET BACK ON TRACK, but no…my mind said WHERE’S THE CHOCOLATE? Ugh.

So, all of the candy had to go. All of it. The best way I’ve discovered to get rid of a bunch of random candy? Add oatmeal and peanut butter and make some monster cookies! This was my first time making these cookies, and y’all….I think these were a worse temptation than the darn candy! I had to revert back to the days when I couldn’t resist baked goods, and immediately wrap the cookies in saran wrap, and ask my husband to just take them to his office. I know…I really need my willpower back, y’all. My husband told me some people took 5-6 of these cookies with them, so I know they were a hit in the office!

Monster Cookies
Source: adapted from Paula Deen

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. creamy peanut butter
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms
  • 1/2 cup assorted chocolate candy (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal

Directions:

    1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
    2. In a mixing bowl, mix the eggs and sugars for about a minute on medium, or until mixed well. Scrape down the bowl and add the salt, vanilla extract, peanut butter and butter. Mix everything on medium high for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and using a silicone spatula or spoon, stir in the M&Ms, chocolate candy, chocolate chips, raisins, baking soda and oatmeal.
    3. Scoop the cookies out with a medium sized scoop, allowing 2 inches between each cookie, onto the already prepared baking sheets.
    4. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, making sure not to over-bake the cookies. Allow the cookies to cool for about 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring the cookies to wire racks to finish cooling. Enjoy!

 

 

Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Red Velvet Cookies

I’ve been blogging for almost 5 years, and I never imagined what would come out of it. I’ve made so many wonderful friends through this blog, and when there’s good news in the blogging community, I feel like it’s happening to a real life friend. Sometimes, I actually almost tell my real life friends “OMG ::blogger name:: is engaged!”, but I thankfully stop myself because my friends would think I’m a little crazy. Oh well….

Today, I’m contributing a dessert to Amy’s (of Amy’s Kitchen Creations) virtual baby shower, which was organized by Carrie of Carrie’s Sweet Life. I know Amy from a cooking forum that we post to. I feel like this little cooking/food forum is just a big group of friends. While we no longer post on The Nest (where the original forum was), it’s great that someone started a forum elsewhere for us to remain in contact. A bunch of us on there are bloggers, and it’s just wonderful to discuss things with other bloggers. It’s not like I can go to my friends/family and ask them about a certain plug-in or blogging conference lol! So, being able to “talk” to these gals is just amazing.

Anywho, back to Amy. Amy is expecting a little girl very soon, and I figured I’d contribute a dessert (as always haha). I went to her blog to see what she enjoyed dessert-wise, and thought that I should contribute something chocolate, but well….chocolate isn’t very pink. I like to make pink desserts for showers haha! So, I kept reading and noticed her post about red velvet cupcakes…I thought, hrm….could I make something PINK velvet?! So, I went to Pinterest, and found these red velvet white chocolate chip cookies. They sounded awesome, and I thought if I added enough pink coloring, I could get the color to stand out over the cocoa. Well…they still turned out red lol, so it’s the thought that counts, right?

While the cookies aren’t that pink color I was hoping for, I will say that the taste of these cookies more than make-up for it! These cookies are thick and chewy…the cornstarch is an ingredient that I’m loving lately in cookies. It just gives cookies a wonderful texture, and the flavor of these cookies are spot-on. Definitely the red velvet that I know and love. :-)

Congratulations, Amy! I wish I could really send you these cookies…I think you would enjoy them!

If you want to check out what other bloggers contributed to Amy’s shower, check out Carrie’s round-up post.

Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Source: Cooking Classy

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. red food coloring
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Set this aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer, mix together the butter, sugar and vinegar for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg and scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and food coloring and mix until just blended.
  4. With the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients and mix until everything is just combined. Using a spatula, mix in the white chocolate chips.
  5. Using a medium sized cookie scoop, scoop the dough out onto the prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie for baking. Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes, and allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Then, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Enjoy!

Top 10 Recipes of 2012

Man, what a year it has been! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with their friends and family. :-)

Most years, I feel like time has flown by, but for some reason, it feels like last January was truly a year ago. So many great things have happened to us this year (as well as some really crappy events).  

Some highlights and not so highlights:

  • It was our first full year in our new house, which has been such a blessing. It’s just awesome to finally have friendly neighbors, who don’t throw their trash in our backyard or play loud music at 2am (side-eye to the neighbors at the old house).
  • My husband and I have both decided to live healthier. Between us, we’ve lost over 150 lbs. this year. (I’m sure my husband is rolling his eyes at me sharing this, but seriously..I’m gonna brag here!) That’s just amazing to me. I’m so proud of us.
  • Another weight loss highlight. I fit into a clothes size that I haven’t been able to wear since 10th grade. That was 12 years ago. OMG!
  • A not so highlight. Hurricane Isaac…don’t want to go into too much detail with that one, but yeah, hurricanes suck. Oh, and for the record, labradors don’t care if the winds are 50 mph outside. If there’s rain/water, it’s playtime! (ugh)
  • I think I’m making some good progress on my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list.

And of course, it’s been another fun year blogging. I really appreciate all of y’all taking the time to read my tiny corner of the Internet. Thank you for your sweet comments, emails and tweets. In January, it’s gonna be this blog’s 5th anniversary, and I’m just amazed by all of the friends I’ve made and people I’ve “met”  through this blog. You guys are the best!

Just to round up the year, I wanted to share with y’all your top 10 most read posts from 2012.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies w/ Salted Caramel Buttercream

10. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Buttercream – These whoopie pies were made for a work fundraiser, and they were a huge success. Great pumpkin/spicy flavor, and the salted caramel buttercream just makes them super indulgent. Pumpkin + caramel is a wonderful combination!

Red Velvet Bundt Cake

9. Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting – I love anything red velvet. This bundt cake is a fun change from a regular cake, and it was pretty easy to throw together and bake!

Baked Oatmeal

8. Baked Oatmeal – My breakfast has been forever changed by this. This oatmeal is not soggy at all (which I hate about cooked oats), and it’s very sweet with the addition of bananas.

Peanut Butter Cookies

7. Peanut Butter Cookies – Just simple, classic peanut butter cookies. :-) Very good!

Candy Corn Oreo Truffles

6. Candy Corn Oreo Truffles – Oreo truffles are insanely good, and it was fun to make these with seasonal flavors. Always a favorite when I bring these truffles to work!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

5. Fresh Strawberry Pie – I’m SO glad strawberry season is back. I need to make this pie again…it’s not rich at all, and since it involves no cooking (except for the crust), it tastes so fresh!

Snickers Cupcakes

4. Snickers Cupcakes – Oh, I totally need to make these again. If you love Snickers, you will LOVE these!

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

3. Homemade Strawberry Lemonade – Meyer lemon season + strawberry season? Um…guess I need to make this too and ASAP!

Red Velvet Swirl Brownies

2. Red Velvet Swirl Brownies – These were just delicious, and so pretty too! Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Feta

1. Spinach, Strawberry, Pecan and Feta Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette – This is a huge favorite of y’alls. I think Pinterest made this a popular one, and it is VERY easy to throw together! This is a salad you want to make for your next party…it’s an awesome combination!

Thanks so much for reading this blog, and I hope everyone has a Happy New Year! Time to get used to writing/typing “2013”. :-)

Molasses Spice Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Molasses Spice Cinnamon Chip Cookies

One of the biggest addictions I had as a kid around Christmas were the Little Debbie frosted gingerbread man cookies. If my Mom brought those home….oh man, they were gone within 2 days between us 4 kids. I’ve made rolled gingerbread cookies before, which tasted very good, but soft and chewy is my ideal preference when it comes to cookies.

When I was at the store a couple of weeks ago, I came across cinnamon chips. I’ve always seen them on blogs, but NEVER in the stores near me. Maybe I’m just not that aware or it could be a seasonal thing around here, but when I saw them, I knew I had to scoop them up. I was thinking of how I could use them, and I didn’t want to just make chocolate chip cookie base and replace chocolate chips with these, so I thought that a molasses-y cookie would taste wonderful with these! I went to my favorite cookbook, and dug around for a recipe that featured a soft, spicy molasses cookie. When I read soft, chewy and “gently spiced”…I was in.

I will admit, I burned a batch of these. It’s VERY easy to overbake these cookies, so it’s best to keep an eye on the first batch to see how long it takes to bake them up in your oven. They will look kind of raw out of the oven, but they finish “baking” on the cookie sheet during the first part of the cooling process. These cookies have a wonderful flavor, and the cinnamon chips are the perfect enhancement to these. I rolled them in Christmas-y sparkling sugar instead of the granulated sugar as originally called for, which gave them a more festive feel. (Y’all can tell I’m obsessed with Christmas sprinkles, eh?…if you follow my Instagram, you know what I mean!)

Molasses Spice Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Source: adapted from Cooks Illustrated Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup granulated sugar (can sub 1/2 cup sugar for 1/2 cup festive sparkling sugar)
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup light or dark molasses
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and make sure the oven rack is in the middle position. Prepare your cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper or a silicone sheet liner and set aside. Place 1/2 cup of granulated (or sparkling) sugar in a baking dish or pie plate and set aside for later.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, pepper and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add in the egg yolk and vanilla extract. Once those are added, increase the speed a bit and beat until everything is incorporated (about 20 seconds).
  4. Reduce the speed to medium-low again and add in the molasses. Beat the molasses in until the batter is well-mixed. Scrape down the bowl at this time, if it’s necessary. Reduce your mixer speed to low and add in the flour mixture. Mix everything until the dough is just incorporated. Using a spatula or large spoon, stir in the cinnamon chips.Scoop the dough into tbsp. sized scoops, and place the top half of the balls in the leftover sugar. Place the balls of dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking pans.
  5. Bake the cookies 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are browned but still puffy, about 11 minutes, making sure to rotate the pans halfway through baking. The centers of the cookies will still be soft, and look raw between the cracks. Do not overbake these cookies…they can overbake very easily (within a minute, I found).
  6. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Chewy Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Chip Cookies

Last Christmas, my in-laws got me this awesome cookbook as a gift. I’m a big fan of Cook’s Illustrated’s recipes, and so I was so thrilled to unwrap this book last year. I immediately skimmed through it while we still had family at the house…I just couldn’t wait! While the cookbook doesn’t have pictures throughout, I have to say it’s a VERY comprehensive cookbook, full of tips and recipes that are well-tested. Whenever I think of a recipe I want to make in the kitchen, this is the first book I look to for a recipe, and it hasn’t let me down yet!

I wanted to try a new cookie this year for food gifts, so of course I had to flip to the index to find a chocolate cookie.  The original recipe calls for chopped semi-sweet chocolate, but I just had to use up the Andes chips that I had in the pantry. (I used both the creme de menthe and peppermint crunch varieties since I made a ::gulp:: triple batch of this dough..)

This cookie is insanely rich and fudgey…I could barely finish one without gulping down water! The addition of the mint chips makes it so festive, not just flavor wise, but color wise, since the two chips are green and red. :-)

Chewy Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies
adapted from: The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup granulated sugar (separated)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. + 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup mint chips (like Andes)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment or a silicone sheet.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Place the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in a small, shallow baking dish or pie plate and set aside. Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a medium-sized bowl, and in a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the corn syrup, egg white and vanilla.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium-low, and add in the corn syrup mixture. Beat the mixture for about 20 seconds, until everything is fully incorporated, being sure to scrape down the bowl as needed.

Turn the mixer to a low speed, and add in the flour mixture, as well as the mint chips. Mix everything together until the dough is just incorporated (do not overmix), making sure to scrape down the bowl as needed. This should take about 30 seconds to mix. With a spatula, turn the dough a couple of times to make sure there are no pockets of flour in the dough. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow it to firm a little.

Roll the dough into tbsp. sized balls, and then roll the top half of the dough balls into the sugar (in the baking dish or pie plate) to just coat them. Place the dough balls about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet (with sprinkled sugar halves facing up), and bake the cookies until they are puffed and cracked, about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway into baking. The edges of the cookies will have begun to set, but the middle of the cookies will still be soft. Be mindful not to over-bake these.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, and then place them on a cooling rack to remain cooling. Enjoy!

 

Homemade Holiday Gifts: Part 1

I absolutely love baking during the holiday season. I’m always looking for excuses to bake, and during the holidays, I tend to find a ton of excuses. :-)

One of our biggest traditions around the holidays is what I like to call the annual bake-palooza, which is the weekend before Christmas. Basically, we live in the kitchen for the majority of the weekend and bake, bake, bake for friends, coworkers, neighbors…you name it! It doesn’t sound fun to most, but to me, it’s a blast! Over the years, I’ve learned which recipes are great for gifting, and which recipes, while impressive, are just too much work to make for 15-20 gifts.

This year, I’m doing something different. While I’m still baking up a storm, I figured I could lighten the load a little by spreading out the majority of the work—the cookies.

Since we’re making a ton of goodies (husband likes to help), I had to do the math to see how many batches of each recipe I’d need to make for gifts. Most cookie recipes make 24 cookies (check your recipes first), so after doing the math, I decided 11 batches of cookies was a good number (2 of those being cookie dough gifts, which is a whole ‘nother gift idea). Of course, I doubt we’ll need all of those cookies, but I wanted to make sure I had extra dough, just in case…you can never have too much cookie dough, right?

One of the first things I always do for a big bake-palooza, is to stalk the grocery ads. I refuse to buy butter that’s over $2/pound box. I live in a fairly low to middle cost of living area, and from experience, I know $2 is rock bottom for the price of butter. It’s probably different in, say, New York or Los Angeles, but the idea is to buy butter when it’s the cheapest. Oh, and buy a LOT of it. I bought 12 boxes. Did you know that you can freeze butter? Just in case you don’t use it all..

Butter isn’t the only thing I shop for…I usually go through 3 bags of flour and sugar, multiple bags of chocolate chips, as well as 2-3 cartons of eggs. All of these go on sale this time of the year, and I know I sound like a cheap person for saying BUY EVERYTHING CHEAP, but seriously, when you’re baking multiple gifts, it all adds up! (and hey, saving money on ingredients means more money to buy pretty packaging, right?)

Once you have your ingredients, now of course you can make your dough. Since I’m usually doubling (or tripling) some recipes, I do that math in advance. Write those numbers on a post-it or something and stick it next to your recipe OR retype out your recipe with the correct amounts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve doubled a recipe, only to realize I forgot to double one thing…like sugar. Yup. Not good. Just do the math in advance. :-)

Side note: Just keep in mind your mixer size when you’re doubling or tripling recipes. My standard 5 qt. mixer can usually handle a double batch of cookie dough, but tripling really pushes the limits on the capacity of my bowl. I was able to triple recipes just fine in the 7 qt. mixer I have, though. 

Once your dough is mixed, use a medium sized cookie scoop (or large, if recipe calls for it), and scoop dough balls out. My freezer is a side by side, and a 9×13 cake pan fits just fine in there. So, I scooped them out into a cake pan, making sure to leave a tiny bit of space between dough balls, to make sure they don’t freeze together.

Holiday Prep Pt 1 (1)

If you have more than one layer of cookie dough, just layer balls of dough between sheets of wax paper.

Holiday Prep Pt 1 (2)

Once you have your cookie dough scooped out, place the pan into a freezer and allow the dough balls to freeze for 1-2 hours, until they are fairly set. Then, take them out of the pan and throw them into a freezer bag. Allow all of the excess air out of the bags, and seal until you’re ready to bake them.

Holiday Prep Pt 1 (3)

To bake the cookies, all you need to do is place the balls on a cookie sheet, allowing a couple of inches in between for spreading, and bake at the temperature specified for the recipe for just 1-2 minutes longer than called for.

Holiday Prep Pt 1 (4)

You can see that I burnt the cookie in the back, but that was because it was meant to be baked 25 degrees cooler than the others. Whoops! Glad I learned that lesson before the big baking weekend!

Stay tuned for the next posts in this mini-series: one about favorite recipes for gifting and another about packaging. :-)