Archive for the ‘Cookies/Bars’ Category


Buttered Popcorn Chocolate Chip Cookies

May 26, 2013

I have a recipe for cookies with potato chips that I’ve been wanting to make for ages, but have never gotten around to. Then I saw this popcorn cookie recipe and decided I needed to make it right away. I don’t know if it’s because I like popcorn more than I like potato chips, or because Michele offered to bake along with me, or if I was just in the mood for popcorn + chocolate + cookies.


Oh, they were good. Chewy cookies with chopped chocolate which would be good if you left them at that, but they’re better with lots of popcorn mixed in. And then there’s the magic of stirring a whole lot of popcorn into not a whole lot of cookie dough, then forming the dough balls and watching with disbelief as it all holds together and then bakes into an actual cookie.

You can find the recipe here on Joy the Baker, who adapted it from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Michele used the cookbook version of the recipe, and after we made these we discovered that Joy the Baker’s version has chocolate and the cookbook version does not. We weren’t planning on making two different versions, but in the end we did.

Recipe notes

  • Do you see the part in the recipe where she says to sort through the popcorn to remove any unpopped kernels? Don’t skip that step! I didn’t have any unpopped ones, but I had some of those half-popped ones (you know, where it’s half kernel and half popcorn) and I didn’t remove all of them. Next time I’ll be super-picky and will pull out anything that doesn’t look like a perfectly popped piece.
  • I did salt the popcorn but didn’t sprinkle extra salt on top of the cookies.

Be sure to check out how Michele’s cookies turned out!


TwD Baking with Julia: Mocha Chocolate Chips

March 19, 2013

In summary, I screwed up these cookies, but they were still really good. Beautiful, no. Good, yes.


I made half the recipe but put in the full amount of granulated sugar. I realized my goof right away, so decided to leave out the dark brown sugar. Then I decided to use chocolate chips (plus a few cappuccino chips) instead of the chopped chocolate called for in the recipe. I didn’t want to waste my good chocolate in case the cookies were a bust. But they weren’t a bust – they were chewy, chocolatey, and coffee-y, and I imagine they’d only be better with dark brown sugar. I purposely omitted the dried apricots, because I cannot get on board with coffee + apricot.

Do you want a jolt of coffee in your chocolate chip cookies? This recipe, baked by the Tuesdays with Dorie group this week, is on page 330 of Baking with Julia, or pop over to Galettista, where Peggy has the recipe posted.


Biscoff Spread Biscotti with Chocolate Chunks

August 30, 2012

This summer kicked my butt. Record-breaking heat and a super-icky project at work took its toll, but now there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and lo and behold, I had this post sitting around just waiting to be published. What a nice way to ease back into blogging!


I picked up a jar of Biscoff Spread on a recent trip to World Market. Being a big fan of the cookies, I knew I’d like it. And I was right! My favorite ways of eating it so far are straight out of the jar and spread onto a banana. I wanted to try baking something with it too, so I got going before I dipped a spoon too many times and emptied the jar. I figured it would be easy to swap Biscoff Spread for Nutella, so I decided to adapt a biscotti recipe from The Art and Soul of Baking, which I had also seen here on Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. Tracey bakes and cooks amazing things, and Art and Soul is one of my favorite cookbooks, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong. And for the most part, I didn’t.

These are super-awesome biscotti. Crunchy but not too hard. Almonds, chocolate, and a delicious toasty flavor from being twice baked. But they don’t taste like Biscoff Spread. Not the first day or the next day or the day after that. After my husband ate several biscotti, I had him try the Biscoff Spread (he hadn’t tried it and didn’t know it was in the biscotti) and he confirmed that they didn’t taste like the spread. But the good news is that the biscotti are so good! I’m over my disappointment that they don’t taste like Biscoff and I’m ready to make these again. Obviously the spread did something behind the scenes to make these taste so good. Whatever that behind-the-scenes magic was, it worked!

Biscoff Spread Biscotti

Adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (6 oz) Biscoff Spread, room temperature
2/3 cup ( 4 3/4 oz) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 3/4 cups (13 3/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (4 1/2 oz) slivered almonds, toasted
5 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/4″ chunks (you can also use 1 cup (6 1/2 oz) mini chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350º F and place oven rack in the center of the oven.

Put the butter, Biscoff Spread, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened in color, 2-3 minutes. (Or use a hand mixer and beat a little longer.) Add the eggs one at a time , beating well (15-20 seconds) and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture all at once, blending with the mixer on its lowest speed just until there are no more patches of flour. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

Add the almonds and chocolate and mix on low just until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir gently to make sure everything is distributed evenly.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place half the dough on one side of the sheet and gently squeeze and roll to shape into a log about 13 inches long. Press down to flatten the log to about 2 inches across. Repeat with the second half of the dough, keeping the logs about 4 inches apart. Place the baking sheet on top of another baking sheet to  prevent the bottoms from browning too quickly. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the logs are firm to the touch and lightly golden brown. Place the pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. While the logs are cooling, turn the oven to 275º F and place two oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven.

When the logs are cool, carefully transfer a log to a cutting surface. Using a serrated knife, slice the logs on a diagonal to 3/8 inches thick. Place the slices, cut side down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the second log and another baking sheet. Put both sheets in the oven and toast 30-40 minutes, switching the sheets between the racks and rotating each front to back halfway through the baking time. Bake until dry and lightly tinged with color. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Store in an airtight container up to 2 months. If they soften during storage, re-crisp in a 300º F oven for 10-15 minutes, let cool, then return to the airtight container.


TwD Baking with Julia: Hungarian Shortbread

May 1, 2012

I’ve eaten and baked many a shortbread cookie, but had never heard of Hungarian Shortbread before reading the recipe for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. The recipe is from Gale Gand. Do you remember her show, Sweet Dreams?

I don’t know what makes this Hungarian, but it is different than other shortbread recipes I’ve seen. The dough (flour, baking powder, salt, butter, egg yolks, and sugar) is mixed and then frozen. After a stint in the freezer, the dough is grated into the pan – this worked great! The dough was so sticky after mixing, but very easy to handle and grate after a little time in the freezer. Half the dough goes into the pan, then a layer of rhubarb jam, then the rest of the dough is grated on top. The whole thing is baked and then topped with a “generous amount” of powdered sugar.

I went the extra mile and made the rhubarb jam. OK, it was only an extra quarter-mile or so, because the jam was so easy to make. Cut up the rhubarb, put it in a pan with water, sugar, and vanilla, and cook it for about 10 minutes. Fresh rhubarb was easy to find at my grocery store, so it was worth it to make this tasty jam. I strayed from the recipe and baked the bottom layer of dough for 15 minutes before adding the jam and the top layer. Other cookie bar-type recipes I’ve made call for baking the bottom a little bit first, and some of the other bakers commented that the bottom layer didn’t seem baked through, so I decided to pre-bake. It worked well – the crust was baked through and not over-browned.

This was quick and easy to make, even with the extra step of making the jam. I made 1/4 of the recipe in a 6″ pan (and 1/4 of the recipe still used 1 stick of butter – yikes!).  As much as I love shortbread, this didn’t quite do it for me. I liked the crumbly texture and the layer of jam, but I felt like it was missing something. My husband wasn’t a fan and thought it needed whipped cream on top. There was nothing bad about it; it just wasn’t quite as good as we’d hoped. Oh well, it was still fun to try the technique of grating the dough, and the leftover rhubarb jam will be stirred into yogurt – yum!

If you want to take a look at the recipe,  look on page 327 of Baking with Julia. Thank you to this week’s hosts: Cher and Lynette. They will have the recipe posted on their blogs today.


Easter Cookies and a tip for rolling cookie dough

April 7, 2012

I think about making decorated cookies a lot more than I actually do it. I always seem to run out of time around Christmas, but Michele and I decided to make decorated cookies for Easter this year. I found some ideas and techniques in my copy of  Cookie Craft that I wanted to try out.

The bunnies have white outline and flood and white jimmies, and then some pink outline icing for the ears, nose and tail (I waited a couple of hours before adding the pink accents). Some have a mini-chocolate chip eye that was added when the flood was wet, and some have an eye that was glued on with pink frosting – adding the chip to the wet flood worked better. The white jimmies on white frosting idea is from the book, and it’s a nice touch.

These eggs have white outline and flood and chocolate jimmies and mini chocolate chips. I’ve tried to melt chocolate and decorate with it, but it is always a hassle, so I thought this was a good way to get some chocolate onto the cookies.

I also made eggs with pink outline and fill, and I used the wet-on-wet technique from the book to make the green dots. It’s green flood icing that goes on right after flooding the cookie. I was skeptical that this would work, but I like how it looks! These pastel colors were tough to photograph, but it looks like a watercolor effect. I had a lot of air bubbles, which I could have but did not pop with a toothpick. I’ll have to look into what, if anything, to do to prevent them.

After I made all the dotted cookies, I did a test cookie with squiggles made with the wet-on-wet technique. This would be really cute on an egg. The white jimmies are also cute on colored icing. Next time!

I also took some of the cookies and pressed mini chocolate chips into them before baking. This frosting-free version is tasty and easy.

I made my favorite cookie dough for these. It’s so buttery and good, but not the easiest dough to work with. So, when I looked through my copy of Cookie Craft and saw this tip for rolling dough, I was thrilled. Here’s my version of their tip.

Right after mixing the dough, put a portion of it on a sheet of parchment that’s the same size as your baking sheet.  Top with another sheet of parchment or wax paper and roll to 1/4″. Slide the whole thing (parchment, dough, and waxed paper) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. When you cut the cookies, you can either transfer them to a new baking sheet, or you can leave them on the sheet they’re already on and just peel away the scrap dough. Since you’re not using any flour to roll the dough, you can re-roll with no worries of the dough drying out.

This method was fast, easy, and worked like a charm. If you don’t have a copy of Cookie Craft, Sweetopia is a great resource for cookie decorating information and recipes.

Be sure to stop over at Michele’s blog to see her cookies!


TwD Baking with Julia: Rugelach

March 6, 2012

The Tuesdays with Dorie group tackled Rugelach for the group’s first March recipe. I’ve made rugelach once before; in fact, it was the first recipe I made for the Tuesdays with Dorie group back in November 2008. Here I am making it again a couple of years later and guess what…I really messed it up!

Here’s one of the better-looking ones:

And an overview of the whole pan:

They smelled fantastic, but what a mess! The filling that’s all over is apricot jam and currants. Some things I know I did wrong, like putting some of the nut/sugar/cinnamon mixture inside the rolls when it’s supposed to go on the outside (it went on the outside too, and I still had a ton left over). But I don’t know why they unrolled and lost most of their filling. I’ll have to read some of the other group members’ blogs to see if I can get any tips. Some filling was still there, because my husband described them as “a cinnamon roll with a classy center.” I thought they were very tasty, and I especially liked the cream cheese pastry.

You may have better luck with this one! You can find the recipe on page 325 of Baking with Julia. This recipe is hosted by Margaret and Jessica.


Girls’ Night, featuring Salted Chocolate Pretzel Toffee, Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies, and more!

January 15, 2012

Last night I had some friends over to watch a movie, chat, and eat. While I was planning what to make and making my grocery list, I saw this recipe for Salted Chocolate Pretzel Toffee, and immediately put it on the menu. I’m a sucker for sweet and salty, and if the salty component involves pretzels, all the better. It’s so easy to make, and dangerously tasty.

I didn’t want to serve just one dessert, so I also made Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies. I saw these cookies in Real Simple Magazine and was intrigued by a variation that called for mixing in 1 cup of broken pretzel pieces and 1 cup of chopped chocolate-covered toffee bar after mixing the other ingredients (the variation was in the magazine, but is not included in the recipe that I linked to). I made the recipe that way the first time and it was delicious. This time, since I already had a pretzel dessert on the menu, I added mini chocolate chips, which was also delicious. How the heck these end up looking and tasting like cookies amazes me, but they’re good, so I’m not going to question it.

And there was cotton candy!

Last summer, my friends found out that I had a cotton candy maker, so I knew the next time I had them over, I better serve cotton candy. My husband is the expert cotton candy spinner, so we let him do the work! I don’t make cotton candy very often, but it’s a fun activity once in a while.

It sounds like this was an all-dessert gathering, but it wasn’t. Actually, the star of the show was Pioneer Woman’s Olive Cheese Bread. Oh my gosh, this was an olivey, cheesy, buttery delight. The full recipe makes a ton, so its good for a gathering, plus there’s a tip for freezing it at the end of the recipe. I sent my friends home with some extra bread and topping so they could assemble and bake their own at home.

I’m a little sad that I gave away all the leftovers of the Olive Cheese Bread, but not too sad, because I have leftover Baked Chicken Meatballs. When I was thinking about what to make, I somehow got fixated on meatballs. I’m not sure if I’ve ever made meatballs of any kind before; if I did, it was a long time ago. So where the meatball idea came from, I don’t know, but I took a look on Smitten Kitchen and decided on these. I made them appetizer size (about 1 tablespoon each) and got 30 meatballs. They tasted great!

I didn’t get photos of the savory food, but if you click over to the recipes, you’ll see photos that are a whole lot nicer than what I would have taken. I also made Baked Potato Skins with Creamy Spinach and Turkey Bacon, which I’ve written about before, and Pioneer Woman’s Sangria, which I’ve also written about. We would have had a good time even without all of the food, but I enjoyed making it and they enjoyed eating it, so I think girls’ night was a success!


Two cookies from Martha Stewart: Rum Raisin Shortbread and Chocolate Pretzel Cookies

December 29, 2011

I didn’t get too far with Christmas baking this year, but I did try a couple of new cookie recipes, thanks to Michele, who suggested that we pick some cookies to bake together (in a virtual sense, since we live many miles apart).

I love rum raisin anything, so the recipe for Rum Raisin Shortbread jumped out at me as I was paging through my copy of Martha Stewart’s Cookies. I must admit that it bugs me that the recipe has raisins in the title but calls for currants, but I can see that Rum Currant Shortbread doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. And the tiny currants were perfect in these petite cookies.

Along with rum-soaked currants, these cookies have coconut and orange zest (which I wish there would have been more of – the rum overpowered the orange). They’re moister than the usual shortbread and have a nice chew from the coconut. I liked them and thought the dried fruit and rum made them seem holiday-ish, yet they’d be good year-round. Mine didn’t hold their shape when baked; Michele mentioned that she added more flour, and I think she was on to something. I also goofed and used sweetened coconut instead of unsweetened, but I didn’t think they seemed overly sweet.

Twisted into a pretzel shape and sprinkled with big pieces of sugar, the Chocolate Pretzel Cookies have a cute factor of 10!

Although they have cocoa and espresso powder, they didn’t pack much of a chocolate punch. I think they’d be better dipped in white or dark chocolate, but that would take away from the “pretzel with salt” cuteness.

Thank you Michele for prodding me to try some new recipes (and for letting me select them)! Be sure to check out how her cookies turned  out.


Tuesdays with Dorie Finale: Kids’ Thumbprints

December 27, 2011

It’s the end of an era: the last Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, selected by Dorie herself. Peanut butter cookie dough, rolled in chopped nuts, and filled with chocolate chips (as I did) or jam. I made mine tablespoon size rather than teaspoon, but there were no complaints that they were too big.

I wish I could remember where I heard about TWD. I remember being in my hotel room during my week at Pastry Boot Camp, debating whether I should join the group. Then I saw that the group was going to be closing to new members, so in November 2008, I went for it. I baked Rugelach and I wrote a post about it. I haven’t baked every week, and haven’t come close to baking every recipe in the book, but I’ve stuck with it for over two years. I’ve baked a lot, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve had fun, and I’ve made some friends along the way.

My top five list? That’s too hard. But I’ll tell you this: if my copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours was on fire and I only had time to tear out one recipe, it would be Chocolate Oatmeal Almost Candy Bars. If you haven’t made these, make them!

When one book closes, another book opens. A new group is forming to bake through another Dorie Greenspan book: Baking with Julia. Keep your eye on the Tuesdays with Dorie site for more information on joining the new group. I hope a lot of you TWD bakers are joining the new group, and I look forward to meeting new bakers!

Please take a moment to read Dorie’s lovely post about TWD. She’s got the cookie recipe posted too!


Homemade Kit Kat Bars

October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! I signed up to bring dessert (of course) to an office potluck lunch, but wasn’t sure what to make. Then I saw a TV commercial with trick-or-treaters and Kit Kat bars and the light bulb went off in my head: homemade Kit Kat bars! These aren’t a fancy-shmancy individually dipped in chocolate homemade candy bar; they’re a pan of bars that you cut and serve. Easy to make and really good.

They don’t taste exactly like a Kit Kat, but they taste pretty fantastic, with sweet brown sugar and butter filling between layers of crisp, salty crackers, topped off with a soft blanket of chocolate, butterscotch, and peanut butter.

I’ve made these quite a few times, but it’s been years since the last time. Right after I put them in the refrigerator to chill and sat down to type this blog post, I got an email from one of my good friends, who happens to be the person I got the recipe from. She said she got the recipe from a co-worker’s wife many years ago, and that she remembered eating them and thinking I would like them. She was right! At the top of the recipe, she wrote “A recipe for those of you who appreciate a good treat.” So true.

Recipe Notes:

  • The original recipe calls for Waverly crackers. I couldn’t find those, so I used Club Crackers instead. The Waverly people, whoever they are, may not agree, but I think the Club Crackers are pretty much the same thing.
  • I used unsalted butter, but I bet you’d do fine with salted too.
  • Thanks to the peanut butter in the topping, they are easy to cut. None of that rock-hard chocolate that cracks when you cut it.

Kit Kat Bars

Club Crackers: I used 90 crackers, which is about 3/4 of a box
1 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Spray a 9 x 13″ pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line with whole Club Crackers. Put butter, sugar, brown sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and milk in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat; bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour half of the mixture over the crackers. Spread to create an even layer. Add another layer of crackers and top with the remaining sauce mixture. Add a final layer of crackers for a total of three layers of crackers.

In a small bowl, melt chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and peanut butter. Mix until smooth and pour over the top layer of crackers. Spread to create an even layer. Refrigerate until firm. Cut and eat!

I used Club Crackers

First layer of crackers

Adding the second layer of crackers

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