Venezuelan Polvorosa Cookies

Vene Polvorosa Cookie_n

These cookies are SOOOOO good!!! I can’t believe I didn’t discover them until just recently but now that I am “in the know“, these easy cookies have been added to my cookie rotation. A little while back I was asked to do a cooking lesson with my friend’s Girl Scout troop and the focus was, “Snacks From Other Cultures“, and I thought these would be a nice treat to bring in for the girls. They are a traditional Venezuelan cookie that is typically made around the Christmas holiday but truth be told, they are a wonderful treat anytime of the year!

I came across this recipe online at the “Mommy’s Home Cooking” blog site, you can find the original recipe right here . It is such a super easy recipe to make and the ingredients are things that most everyone should have on hand. The recipe calls for pure vanilla extract as a flavoring but since this is a very “vanilla forward” cookie, I decided to amp up the flavor by using vanilla paste (I love all of the flecking in the cookies!!) and my homemade vanilla sugar instead of plain granulated sugar. It was absolutely delicious with these two additions however, they aren’t necessary to use in order to make a delicious cookie. The cookies are still excellent even if you’re using plain granulated sugar and vanilla extract.

This cookie is a crumbly, sandy cookie which I found to be delicious but it’s important to NOT over-bake them or they will really dry out and have an unappealing texture. Watch them carefully towards the end of the baking time, you’re looking for a light colored cookie with just very slight browning on the sides. I didn’t let mine go past the 25 minute mark and they were absolutely perfect. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for coating 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix shortening on medium speed until creamy, about 20 seconds. Blend in sugar and salt and mix to combine. Add in vanilla and cinnamon.

With the mixer set on low speed, slowly add in the flour and mix just until combined.

Roll balls of dough, about 1 tablespoons of dough per cookie. Arrange the balls on a large baking sheet, spacing them 1/2 inch apart. Press fork into the tops to flatten them a little.

Bake for 20 -25 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the sides. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cookies are cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

EASTER SUGAR COOKIES

I love ALL things vanilla! It’s my most favorite flavor and smell and when made right, nothing beats a good vanilla sugar cookie. This recipe comes from an amazing cookbook that I picked up a few months back entitled, Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques by Shauna Sever. If you love vanilla this is one cookbook you’ll want to add to your collection. It’s filled with delicious recipes for cookies, cakes, puddings and even candy!

I followed this recipe as is however, instead of just using pure vanilla extract I also used vanilla paste because I really wanted to bring out and highlight the vanilla flavor of this cookie. I used two teaspoons of vanilla paste and one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract in the cookie dough. I did have to restrain myself from throwing the whole bottle in! The combination of vanilla paste and extract really made for an exceptionally flavored cookie! I highly recommend investing in a bottle of vanilla paste if you haven’t already done so. It is a little pricey nowadays but in desserts that are very vanilla forward such as these cookies, it’s really worth using.

While most cookies are incredible when they come right out of the oven, I have found that these cookies actually improve in flavor as they cool and “age“. As they cool the vanilla notes really pop and the texture becomes that perfect combination of sandy, chewy and crispy. I thought that the next day, they were even better and more perfect. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 cup vanilla sugar*
  • colored sanding sugar

*If you do not have vanilla sugar, plain granulated sugar is also fine to use.*

Instructions

Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven. Preheat to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt. In another small bowl, whisk together the oil and egg.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, confectioners sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale in color, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the oil/egg mixture until smooth. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed until smooth. The dough will be soft.

Roll dough into balls, about 1 tbs in size and place them about 2″ apart on the baking sheets. Pour the vanilla sugar onto a plate and dip a flat bottom glass into the sugar to coat, press into each ball to flatten to about 1/4″ thickness. Re-sugar the glass after every cookie. Sprinkle the cookies with colored sanding sugar.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are pale golden and just beginning to lightly brown at the edges. Rotate the cookies sheets from top to bottom and from front to back about halfway through baking. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for about 2 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

**Tip** – Make vanilla sugar by taking used, scraped vanilla beans and submerging them in granulated sugar. Store in a tightly sealed container and within a few weeks you will have vanilla sugar which is perfect to use in all baking applications.

Killer Chocolate Chip Cookies

killer choc chip1_n

For Christmas this past year I received an awesome new cookbook by renowned pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini entitled, “Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking“. If you’re interested, you can get yourself a copy right hereIt’s packed with a ton of awesome tips and recipes for delicious treats such as a Pineapple Coconut Meringue Torte, Crumb Cake, Double Lemon Tarts, and the Killer Chocolate Chip Cookies that I made below. This book is great for experienced bakers but it’s also perfect for newbies because he takes a lot of time and care to explain technique while walking you through each recipe step-by-step. It’s a fantastic cookbook and I highly recommend adding it to your collection, it’s been a great addition to mine!

These cookies came out delicious, soft and chewy in the middle with a slight crisp on the edges. Everyone loved them, even my picky kids!! I followed the recipe as is however, I did not have Maldon sea salt for the garnish so I substituted with Fleur de Sel which is also a light, flaked salt. The only change that I would make in future batches of this cookie would be to decrease the amount of cinnamon to just a 1/4 tsp. I don’t care for a pronounced cinnamon flavor in my chocolate chip cookies but other than that small change these cookies were, as the name suggests, killer!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (232 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (110 grams) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 14 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • Maldon sea salt, for garnish

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

Place the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and toss with your fingers until the butter is coated. Attach the paddle and beat the butter and sugar on medium-low speed until a thick paste forms with no visible butter lumps. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

With the mixer on low, add the egg and egg yolks one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Sprinkle the Kosher salt over the top. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture stopping frequently to scrape down the bowl. Mix until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the chocolate by hand.

Using a small (1/2 ounce) ice cream scoop, scoop level balls of dough and arrange them about 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets. Use the bottom of a glass to slightly flatten the dough balls and then sprinkle a little Maldon salt over each cookie.

Bake for 12-13 minutes, rotating the pans once, until the cookies are just set and beginning to brown. Cool for 10 minutes on the pans before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Store the cookies in an airtight container, they will keep for up to 3 days.

Thick and Fudgy Brownie Cookies

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I’ve been making these fudgy brownie cookies for years and they are always a hit with everyone. They are SO good. Soft, fudgy, and bursting with chocolate flavor. The best part? They are super easy to make and require only a few ingredients that most everyone will have on hand. For this batch I added some Sno-Caps® candy to the top but you can either leave them plain or add any other topping that you wish. Be sure to watch these cookies closely as they bake. They can go from perfect to overdone quickly and you want to be sure to not overbake them or you’ll lose that soft, fudgy middle.

These cookies also make great holiday gifts! I’ve made big batches of them, packaged them nicely into holiday cookie tins and then secured a bag of good quality coffee to the top of the tin with pretty, festive ribbon. It’s the perfect gift for bus drivers, teachers, group leaders or anyone else on your holiday gift list! You could even assemble the dry ingredients into Mason Jars and secure the recipe to a tag on the jar and that way your gift recipients can make a batch of fresh, warm cookies at home. These are also great cookies to bring for your next cookie swap! Enjoy!!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (the darker the better)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3 tbs heavy cream
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

Cream the butter and sugars. Add in egg, yolk and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add half of the dry mixture to the butter mixture.

Pour in the heavy cream and mix until combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop 2 tbs of dough (I use a medium cookie scoop) onto the cookie sheets. Flatten tops slightly and leave about 1.5″ between cookies. Bake for 9-11 minutes. The tops should be puffy, rounded and set. DO NOT OVERBAKE or they’ll be too dry. Let cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes exactly 2 dozen cookies.

 

Halloween Candy Cookie Bars

Halloween Cookie BArs

If your house is anything like mine then I am sure once the kids are done with their trick-or-treating you’re left with about 4 tons of candy in the house. Why not take some of that delicious chocolate and turn it into Halloween Candy Cookie Bars! They are easy to pull together, so delicious and fun to make with the kids since they can choose their favorite add-ins.

I came across this recipe on The Today Show website, you can find the original recipe right here . It did not specify what size pan to bake the cookie bars in so I went with a 9X9 square pan lined with parchment paper. The baking time listed, 45-50 minutes, was about right. Just watch them to make sure they do not over brown and get burnt, test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. It should come out mostly dry with a few moist crumbs adhered to it.

For the add-ins, use whatever chocolate you have on hand and feel free to use a mix as well. In my cookie bars I used toffee bits, M&Ms® and chopped up Milky Way®, Kit Kat®, 3 Musketeers®, and Snickers® bars. I added a few mini chocolate chips on the top too! They were delish!

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbs pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups assorted Halloween chocolate candy, chopped

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Chop the Halloween chocolate candies into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine both sugars and the melted butter. Mix until the sugars and butter lighten in color, about 6-8 minutes.

Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix. Then add in the salt and flour and mix until everything is well combined.

Stir in the Halloween candy and then spread the cookie batter into a 9X9 pan that is lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Allow to cool and then cut into squares.

Giant Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Giant Crinkle Choc Chip

When I was in junior high school the cafeteria use to serve these delicious, barely baked, warm chocolate chip cookies. They were SO amazing and I’ve spent years trying to find a recipe that replicated that cookie but to no avail. Then I made this recipe! Out of the oven, they reminded me so much of those giant, warm cookies from school. Score!!

This recipe comes from The New York Times , you can find the original recipe right hereTo ensure that these cookies came out EXACTLY like the ones pictured I weighed all of my ingredients instead of just measuring them out. With baking, being as precise as possible is the key to perfect, consistent results. That being said, if you don’t have a scale in your kitchen that is fine, just use measuring cups and spoons. Make sure you follow the directions very carefully, it’s imperative that you freeze your dough for the right amount of time and then watch those babies like a hawk once they are in the oven so that you can bang the pan at just the right time. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Banging the pan not only allows the cookies to bake more evenly but it creates crispy edges, a gooey center, and those cool looking crinkle rings on the surface. Don’t be afraid to give them a good whack, you need the center to fall in on itself.

The recipe calls for 6 oz. of bittersweet chocolate, I decided to use Ghiradelli® brand. I was short 2 oz. though so I make up the difference with a Ghiradelli® Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree bar. It’s a nice dark chocolate so it worked well as a replacement and it also added a hint of salt to the cookie which I really love. Do NOT use chocolate chips in this recipe, you will NOT get the same result both in appearance and flavor. Buy full bars of chocolate (you can find them in the baking or candy aisle) and roughly chop them with a chefs knife. The variation of chunks, shards, and bits really adds to the cookie. Lastly, in place of the pure vanilla extract I used vanilla paste and I increased the measurement to 2 teaspoons. I just love vanilla so for me, the more the better!

Trust me, these cookies are a keeper! They were out of this world and HUUUUUGE!!! You can definitely make them smaller but be sure to adjust the baking time if you do. Watch them carefully so they do not over bake. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (256 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (302 grams) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (55 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces (170 grams) bittersweet chocolate (about 60 percent cacao solids), chopped into coarse pieces, bits and shards

Instructions

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Heat the oven to 350ºF. Line 3 baking sheets with aluminum foil, parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium until creamy. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and 2 tablespoons water, and mix on low to combine. Add the flour mixture, and mix on low until combined. Add the chocolate and mix on low into the batter. (At this point, the dough can be refrigerated for several hours or overnight)

Form the dough into 3 1/2-ounce (100-gram) balls (a heaping 1/3 cup each). Place 4 balls an equal distance apart on a prepared pan, and transfer to the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. After you put the first baking sheet in the oven, put the second one in the freezer.

Place the chilled baking sheet in the oven and bake 10 minutes, until the cookies are puffed slightly in the center. Lift the baking sheet and let it drop down against the oven rack, so the edges of the cookies set and the inside falls back down. Bang it down, if necessary, to make the center fall.

After the cookies puff up again, 2 to 3 minutes later, repeat lifting and dropping the pan. Repeat a few more times, every 3 minutes, to create ridges around the edge of the cookie. Bake 16 to 18 minutes total, until the cookies have spread out, and the edges are golden brown, but the centers are much lighter and not fully cooked.

Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool before removing the cookies from the pan.

Repeat with remaining cookies.

 

Autumn Spice Oatmeal Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Squeal!!! Sally McKenny has a brand new cookbook, Sally’s Cookie Addiction: Irresistible Cookies, Cookie Bars, Shortbread, and More, and to my delight, there was an outstanding recipe for Autumn Spice Oatmeal Cookies. (page 42) There isn’t one word in that title that doesn’t make me happy. Let me repeat: AUTUMN SPICE OATMEAL COOKIES!! What’s better than fall spices, oatmeal, and cookies??!! I’ll tell you, not much!

Due to my high blood sugars, I’ve been hesitant to bake much lately but I really couldn’t resist these cookies so I decided to go ahead and make them. I thought it was good opportunity to try and turn them into a treat that was a touch healthier and lower in sugar so that I could enjoy them too. I followed the recipe as written making only a few substitutions with regards to the ingredients. First, I substituted the granulated sugar with Truvia Baking Blend Natural Sweetener in order to cut down on the calories. Be aware that Truvia® does NOT measure one-to-one with granulated sugar so it’s imperative that you adhere to the conversion chart that is printed on the side of the bag.

I also cut down the molasses from 1 tbs to only 1/2 tbs, I felt that using a little less would still impart the molasses flavor while lessening the overall calorie and sugar count. Instead of sweetened coconut I used unsweetened as it allowed the texture of the cookie to remain the same without adding the extra sugar. In place of ordinary dried cranberries I used  Ocean Spray Reduced Sugar Craisins Dried Cranberries  which again saved on calories and sugar. Lastly, I eliminated the pepitas that were called for (simply because I do not like them) and instead, I added half of a finely diced Granny Smith apple to the cookie dough. I adore apples and I thought it would be a perfect addition to these fall inspired cookies.

The cookies were fabulous and were everything you want a fall cookie to taste like. They were chewy, delicious, and bursting with flavor. The best part was that the substitutions I made resulted in an excellent cookie and I certainly did not miss anything by reducing the sugars where I was able to. Of course, these still need to be enjoyed in moderation but it’s nice to know that when a sweet craving hits, I have something on hand that I can eat with minimal guilt.

**I listed to ORIGINAL recipe below noting my substitutions in the parenthesis.**

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (OR 1/8 cup Truvia Baking Blend)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbs unsulphured or dark molases (OR 1/2 tbs)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup dark or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut (OR shredded unsweetened coconut)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries (OR Craisins Reduced Sugar Dried Cranberries)
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, finely diced (optional)

Instructions

Whisk the flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat on medium-high until creamed, about 2 minutes. Add in the eggs, molasses, and vanilla. Beat on high speed until combined, scrape down the sides as needed.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. With the mixer on low, beat in the oats. Once combined, fold in the chocolate chips, coconut, cranberries, and pepitas or apples if using them. The dough will be thick and sticky. Cover and chill the dough in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Scoop balls of dough, about 2 tbs each, onto the baking sheets, spacing them about 2″ apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. The centers will still look a little soft.

Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

**Tip – The cookies will stay fresh for up to a week when stored in an airtight container**

 

 

Solar Eclipse Cookies

Eclipse Cookies.jpg

This past Monday was a big day across the United States as we experienced a cross-country solar eclipse. Unfortunately, being in New York we were not in the path of totality so we didn’t have as cool of an experience as some of the other states but it was an exciting day nonetheless. To celebrate this momentous occasion my daughter and I decided to bake Solar Eclipse Cookies! We took a basic Black and White Cookie recipe and just did a little tinting of the glaze to make an eclipsed sun. They were so much fun to make and my kids loved them!

We used a recipe from the The Brown Eyed Baker blog site, you can find the recipe right here . We didn’t make any adjustments to the recipe other than to substitute fresh lemon juice for the lemon extract. Traditional Black and White Cookies have a very moist, cake like texture so be sure to remove them from the oven when they are just slightly browned around the edges. Keep a close eye on them as they can go from pale to burnt in seconds. If you let them go too long you won’t have the proper texture and they will be ruined. Also, make sure the cookies are completely cooled before glazing them or you will have run off and very messy cookies. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract or fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup milk

For the icing

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • yellow food dye
  • black food dye (optional)

Instructions

To make the cookies – Adjust the oven racks to lower-middle and upper-middle positions and preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat the butter at medium speed for 30 seconds to loosen it up. Keeping the mixer running, gradually add in the sugar and then gradually increase the speed to medium high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, vanilla and lemon extract/juice. Beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again. With mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour in four additions and the milk in three additions (beginning and ending with flour), and mix until just combined. Give the mixture a few final stirs with a rubber spatula to ensure all of the flour has been incorporated.

Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leave about two inches between them. Using moistened fingers, gently press each mound of dough into a 2″ inch circle. Bake until the edges of the cookies are set and light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

To making the icing – Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a small saucepan of barely simmering water or using the microwave on 50% power in 30-second increments. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and corn syrup to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Transfer 3/4 cup of the icing to the bowl with the melted chocolate and whisk to combine. If desired, add a little black food dye to darken the chocolate. Using yellow food dye, tint the remainder of the white glaze until it’s a sunny yellow color.

To ice the cookies – Place wire racks over wax paper to catch any drips. Gently dip each cookie into the yellow icing so that the top is fully coated. The icing should move on its own when the cookie is tilted. Using a small offset spatula, scrape any excess from around the edges. If the yellow icing begins to thicken too much, stir in a teaspoon of warm water at a time until the icing goes back to a smoother, looser consistency. Place the finished cookies on the wire racks and allow to set for at least 15 minutes.

Place the chocolate icing into a Ziploc™ bag and snip the corner. Carefully pipe a half moon shape onto the cookie and then fill it in. Using a small offset spatula, spread the icing to fill in any gaps. If the chocolate icing thickens too much, place the bowl on a small saucepan of barely simmering water so that it can re-melt. If it’s still too thick, you can add warm water, a teaspoon at a time, until it returns to the correct consistency. Place the finished cookies on the wire racks and allow to set for at least 1 hour.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. If you stack the cookies, be sure to place a piece of wax paper between layers.

Oreo Cheesecake Brownie Bars

Oreo Chesecake Brownies.jpg

Oh. My. God. These were absolutely one of the most divine treats that I’ve ever had! I made them for the first time a few months ago and they’ve since become a favorite in my house. It’s hard to decide which part of this decadent treat is best, the chewy ooey gooey brownie layer, the creamy cheesecake layer, or the crushed up Oreos on the top. Individually they are all delicious but when combined together in one bite, it’s out of this world!

I just happened to put on the “Today Show” one morning, which I usually don’t get to do anymore thanks to my TV hogging children, and I discovered this insanely awesome recipe. Elise Strachan of “My Cupcake Addiction” fame was on doing a cooking segment for summer treats and she made these Oreo Cheesecake Brownie Bars that the Today Show crew went nuts over. Not even kidding, I made these the next day and they were every bit as awesome as she promised they would be! I did not deviate from the original recipe at all, I followed her instructions to the letter and they turned out absolutely perfect. Bring a batch of these to your next get together and you will be a rock star!

Ingredients

For the brownie batter

  • 13 tablespoons (185 g or 6½ ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 7 ounces (200 g) good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups (270 g or 9½ ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (90 g or 3.2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (40 g or 1½ ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Nonstick cooking spray

For the cheesecake batter 

  • 16 ounces (2 bricks) cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the topping 

  • 48 Oreo cookies, broken into chunks
  • 1 package mini Oreo cookies

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 320°F.

Make the brownie batterIn a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and bring to a gentle boil. Turn the heat OFF and then add the dark chocolate, stirring intermittently until the chocolate has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer until they have almost doubled in size and are super light and fluffy, at least 7 minutes.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and gently fold the two together using big round figure-8 movements. Stop mixing as soon as you no longer see white streaks through the chocolate batter.

In another bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder together. Sift the cocoa flour mix directly over the top of the chocolate mixture so it falls evenly. Fold together, again using big round figure-8 movements.

Spray a 9-inch x 13-inch pan with the cooking spray and line the base with parchment paper. Pour half of the brownie mixture into the prepared pan and par-bake* for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the cheesecake batterIn a large mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in between each addition.

Stir in the cream, vanilla and 1½ cups of the crushed Oreo cookies.

Remove the partially cooked brownie from the oven. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the par-cooked brownie and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the tray from the oven and gently spread the remaining brownie batter over the cheesecake layer. Cover the brownie with chunks of crushed Oreo, adding some whole and halved mini Oreos throughout before returning to the oven for a further 20 minutes. The top should start to look a little flaky and the middle should spring back lightly when touched.

Cool completely in the pan (or preferably, chill overnight) before cutting into bars. Store the cut bars in the fridge, sealed tightly.

*Par-bake means to partially bake

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

lemonricotta

What do you do when life hands you lemons? You make Lemon Ricotta Cookies, of course! These cookies are delicious, light, and the perfect summer treat to serve at your next BBQ. They are more like little soft cakes than crispy cookies and they are bursting with lots of bright lemon flavor. I came across this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis when I was on the hunt for something to do with the 500 lemons that were taking up space in my fridge. I had already made Freshly Squeezed Lemonade and a Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake so I was ready for some cookies!

The original recipe by Giada can be found here and it was pretty much perfect “as is“. The only changes that I made to the recipe was to add 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract (because vanilla makes everything better) and I substituted 4 oz of french vanilla yogurt for some of the ricotta since I was a little short. The resulting cookie was delicious and had just the right amount of lemon, ricotta, and vanilla flavor. They were a big hit, even with my picky kids!

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

For the glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

While the cookies are baking, make the lemon glaze. Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Once the cookies are fully cooled, spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.

**Tip** – Using a Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater is the easiest way to zest lemons. It’s a great little tool to have in your arsenal! Hold the zester upside down as you use it so the zest collects in the channel of the Microplane instead of getting all over the counter.