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Forgotten Sweets

27 Feb

I’m sitting at home, sick, well sick-ish. Sick enough that my throat is not allowing me to swallow and I sound like a freak, so definitely too sick to go talk on the radio for two hours today. But not sick enough to sleep all day or just be content watching movies in bed. Also I have no TV in my room.

Getting back on track here. I am well enough to realize that I never did my Christmas post and I’m very behind in dessert writing. Does it matter? No, but I like sharing my desserts, especially during lent when I can’t eat any. So this will be a slew of forgotten sweets. Whoops.

Let’s start with what I referred to as “Fake Christmas.” We celebrated Christmas with my immediate family – all 13 of us – on Michael’s birthday this year because when Christmas is on a Tuesday, things get messy. We were all busy on different days and couldn’t find the right time to exchange gifts, so we had fake Christmas and Michael’s birthday together on the 15th. It worked fine, but hopefully in the future, when Christmas is not on a dumb Tuesday, we will get it together.

I was extremely excited to make this three layer red velvet cake covered in chocolate! I saw it on Pinterest, which is where most of my dessert inspiration comes from these days. It was pretty easy and my nephews were mesmerized by the deep red color, and of course the puddle of chocolate ganache that covered everything. You should absolutely put this on your 2013 holiday baking list.

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Since we were also celebrating my brother’s birthday, I threw together some minty brownies, his favorite flavor combination. I’m not 100% sure but I believe these are my famous Bailey’s brownies with added dark chocolate and mint chips.

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And, to top off the day, I made some Christmas punch. I honestly don’t remember the entire recipe. I think it was raspberry sorbet, orange juice and sprite zero. I left it kid friendly, with the choice to add in some white wine for the rest of us. Madeline and Michael loved it, Michael forgot to put the wine in.

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On to real Christmas! Sugar cookies are a staple for our family. Though my mom debates me on this, I always say that these cookies are the only holiday cookies I remember from my childhood. Whether I’m right or wrong, they are the most important cookie of the season, and the only cookie I can guarantee my mom will help me with, on our scheduled Sugar Cookie Day, of course. At this point, we are pros. We have a huge assortment of cookie cutters and know which ones make the best cookies, though we do attempt to make snowflakes each year despite the high percentage possibility that they will break.

 

 

 

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I slacked off a little this year. I think I only made about 12 different cookies, when I prefer making 18. I know that sounds crazy, but once I cover the handful of cookies that I feel like I have to make each year, I want to experiment with new ones. This December was a little crazy and flew by super fast, so 12 was all I could bake. We all survived.

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I referred to these as pop tart cookies, though the recipe called them french toast cookies. These guys actually really frustrated me because I was trying to do too many things at once and forgot to add cinnamon to the batter, and then we accidentally thought they were sugar cookie dough rolls for a while, but in the end they turned out cute and different, which is always my goal. They were also pretty delicious – and my dad attempted to help me frost them. They were a little big, so I think people were less likely to grab them from the dessert buffet, but I was happy to have them as leftovers. Now I want a pop tart.

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I apologize that I can’t figure out how to flip this mouth-watering coffee cake picture. Good thing you are probably reading this from a lap top or a phone, you can rotate your device. I made this for my mom’s Christmas brunch with her friends, it was also super yummy, pecan cinnamon coffee cake. I do recall this recipe being very strange. I think I ended up mixing more of the dry ingredients in with the wet ones, so be careful with these instructions.

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My FAVORITE christmas dessert is a cranberry bliss bar. These are amazing and were developed to copy a Starbucks dessert. A delicious combination of dried cranberries, white chocolate and cream cheese. I find it so weird that I love these because I’m not a white chocolate fan and I do not like cream cheese. Weird, right? But these are a huge exception to those rules. I love them, so will you, that is all.

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More Bailey’s Brownies. What can I say? They’re really good and everyone needs extra Bailey’s at Christmas.

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Here begins a selection of drop cookies. Traditional Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Raisin, Mint Oreo Chocolate Cookies, (amazing even though I totally messed up the recipe) Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bark, and some sort of layer bar that I think I made from a few bags of leftover stuff. They were also really delicious and while I’m typing this I will try to find the recipes.

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I try to Pin all of the things I make so that I can find them later, success for this one. The bark was not supposed to be giant chunks. This is again what happens to me when I accidentally try to do nine million things at once. But you know what? This was the best tasting thing ever in life, so it’s ok. More odd shaped scraps for me and my dad.

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I adapted this recipe from the leftover things I had on hand: weird tasting chocolate marshmallows, super old coconut and chopped pecans. It was actually really really good. Kind of mushier than I think the crust was supposed to be, but another accidental taste of awesome.

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Dark Chocolate Mint Oreo Cookies. Growing up I never understood why Michael and my friend Stevie liked mint chocolate things so much. I hated them for about 16 years. Finally, I’ve come to my senses and realized the intense satisfaction that comes from mixing them together. Plus this recipe has crushed Oreos in it.

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Oatmeal cinnamon chip (an ingredient you must buy) raisin drop cookies can from the recipe on the cinnamon chip bag. Sometimes that is just the way to go.

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I used the “Mrs. Field’s” Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe I found for Septemberfest for these guys. I think they were better as a giant bar, but still pretty good.

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I made these because I really like Pretzel M&Ms. I didn’t like them as much as my drop cookie recipe, but you live, you eat and you learn.

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Fudge. This is actually another recipe my mom made every year for christmas and I make at least 5… ok 10 times a year. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably had it and you love it too.

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Is it a holiday without Oatberries? These were leftover from my unsuccessful attempt to be on the new CBS baking show. That was frustrating because the “taster” ate about 1/16 of one of these. At least I went to round two, that is my goal with most things in life.

 

 

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I was planning on adding my February desserts to this list but I’m too hungry now, plus it’s lent and I don’t know if I have the willpower to look at brownies any more. I still have 32 days left!

Hopefully you did not give up dessert for lent and since there is more snow on the ground than I’ve seen in two years, you can pretend it’s Christmas. Play some deck the halls and make one of these recipes – let me know how it goes!

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No Mixer Required

3 May

Tuesday I took a trip downtown to visit WCIU, the station I interned at, you know, to show my face, bring my new resume and demo and remind them I’m looking for a job. And bring cookies of course.

I kept seeing this recipe on Twitter, Facebook and I think on AOL news, clicked on it, read it and realized it was worth bookmarking. Aside from the thought-provoking recipe title, the fact that the entire cookie is made in a saucepan intrigued me. Ok, it also excited me since I’m still waiting for my moving truck to bring me all my things – mixer and cookie scoops included.

The only tweak I made was to use dark chocolate chips as my chip of choice. These cookies were seriously delicious. Like the recipe mentions, melting the sugars in the melted butter creates a toasty flavor. One of the WCIU producers thought there might be coconut inside, I got a hint of caramel when I tasted (ok, ate 4 of) the cookies. I’m already planning to re-create this for my mom’s quilting lunch in a few weeks. You know me, since I had a success, I’ll most likely change up the mix-ins or add a new flavor, check back in with Sweet Talk then to see the results — and make these!

Oh yeah, I made these on National Oatmeal Cookie Day too! I love participating in food holidays!

Roll Out

24 Jan

Desserts can be easy and desserts can be complicated. Christmas cookies, however, MUST have a balance of both. Would it really be Santa’s day without a stocking shaped sugar cookie on a plate waiting for him the night of the 24th? Nope. Impossible.

That’s why we have roll-outs. I can’t remember a December without sugar cookie cut-outs. In fact, this year I did them twice. Once in LA with Cynthia and Alex and once with my mom on what is always known as “Sugar Cookie Day.” See, she made these cookies for every birthday and holiday when we were little, so I know she can do them and I know she likes them enough for me to guilt her in to helping me.

Because, I love baking and decorating, but there’s something monumentally intimidating about over 100 cookies waiting to be shaped and drizzled. Enter: mom. Thanks.

We did sugar cookie day (and night) the week of Christmas and ended up with some really fun ones. I realized a few years ago that frosting the cookies and shaking colored sugars on top is both the prettiest and easiest way to go. Success once again.

I ventured into the land of roll-outs more than once this season. I also made Candy Cane Kiss Cookies, Cinnamon Bun Cookies and Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies. I’m not going to lie. They weren’t very successful, but I blame myself, not the cookies.

The Candy Cane Kisses idea was again from Recipe Girl, though I’ll be honest mine were too flat and not that delicious. I did like the pop of color they added to my display though. I’m pretty sure I messed them up some how. Maybe next year I’ll try a different kind of kiss cookie – since I love those kisses.

The Cinnamon Bun cookies (also RG) were on my list this year for my brother, Tommy. He loves cinnamon-y sugar sweets and I usually whip up some snickerdoodles to satisfy that craving. I decided to swap that out for these. I failed again. I’m guessing it was something to do with my temperature rolling or impatience baking that made these crunchy fails. The filling was really tasty, so it wasn’t a bad recipe by any means. It was just a crackly crust. I mean, when you try to make 18 cookies in a few days, there are bound to be some that end up at the bottom of the bin. I still served them though and they were good dunkers. Whoops. That’s why I stick to quicker things — i.e. fudge and chocolate chippers.

Finally, let’s take a look back at those Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies. They were fantastic. I make it a point every year to add something red velvet to the mix. First, my mom and a few of my cousins LOVE red velvet. And second, I know that cookies are bland looking sometimes, but you know what’s never bland? A red cookie. These were actually from a cake mix, strange for me, I know, but guess what? Super success. Although they look like drop cookies, they were rolled. I mixed, chilled and rolled the red dough, then I took balls of cheesy-cheesecake filling and mashed them together. Ok, I didn’t really mash. I rolled the red around the white and hoped for the best. Even though most of the cookies cracked, they looked pretty, and since  I nixed the glaze, because sometimes you run out of white chocolate, the pop of white in the middle was the perfect holiday decoration.

The bars

17 Jan

No, not those bars – these bars

Sure the holiday season is filled with places to see friends and family and have a martini and a glass of wine, but the most important bars of the season are filled with chunks and globbed with icing. Yum,

This season I made four different christmas bars. The first was way off my regular schedule – I actually made brownies from scratch. I’m a stickler for making cakes and cookies from scratch. I kind of actually hate when someone suggests a box mix. Ew. But, for brownies, they win me over. How couldn’t they? Two minutes until gooey blissful batter that always bakes perfectly. I have yet to find a substitution for my favorite red Betty Crocker box. But, these guys, took a really close second. I would probably say they were amazing brownies, because the taste was fantastic, but it was more of a cake. Still worth making over and over again though! These chunky path brownies are coming back next year. Or sooner.

On the flip aide I made a very different Cinnamon M&M Oatmeal Bar. You know, I have this thing about M&M’s. I love them. A lot. This christmas I saw something I’d never seen before – cinnamon M&M’s. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about them, but since I once had a love-affair with cinnamon chips, I thought it would go well. It did. I threw them into a recipe for oatmeal cookies and bar-red them. Cinnamon, oatmeal, chocolate – obvious success.

Next, for my peanut butter lovers – Peanut Butter Swag Bars. I don’t know who names these things, but I have to give credit to a recipe that everyone loved. Even though I don’t eat PB, so I didn’t love to eat them, I did love to make them. Think of a grown-up rice krispie treat, but much less cereal and much more density. Now add peanuts and peanut butter and you’ve got the swag.

Finally, best for last, intentionally. My holiday favorite, which has appeared at our dessert buffet since I discovered them a few years ago thanks to Lori the RecipeGirl, Cranberry Bliss Bars! I swear the first time I made these there was ginger in the recipe, because I don’t like ginger and negated it the second time. But the recipe I made this year was ginger-free and as delicious as ever. I always surprise myself with how much I love these each year. I am not a white chocolate person and I hate cream cheese, but I guess when they come together they form this amazing combination of white chocolate cream cheese that fulfills every dessert dream I’ve ever had. Make these. Tonight.

And send me some.

The Drops

12 Jan

A spread of cookies isn’t complete without the drops. Drop cookies are a dessert lovers equivalent to a hug. Yes, fudge, cutouts and bars are delicious and fun, but nothing says cookie like a buttery, sugary circle filled with your favorite chunks.

I’m salivating just thinking about my Christmas trio.

I made three drop cookies this holiday season. First, of course, a chocolate chip dream. Yes, I make chocolate chip cookies more than anything else, but I never make the same recipe. And unfortunately I have no idea what recipe I used, but I’m sure you can find one. My favorite thing to do for these chippers is to mix the flavors. Thanks to my mom’s amazing chocolate chip shopping skills this year I had plenty to choose from. I threw in equal parts milk, semi-sweet and dark chips and voila – sweet deliciousness ensued.

The second drop cookie was inspired by my mom and dad’s recent winter trip to Hawaii. They brought all of us back some amazing (and fresh!) macadamia nuts. Since I have a tendency to eat entire packages of things, I refrained from opening my can until it was cookie baking time and made some white chocolate macadamia oatmeal drop cookies. I’m not lying when I say these were one of the best things I’ve ever devoured. I used the entire can (well minus like 6 that I ate myself) of nuts, which led to a chunkier result that the original recipe, but it was the cookie that defied all laws of yummy.

And finally, no cookie smorgasbord of mine is ever complete without a little blue oatberry chilling out in the corner. These michelle originals were even more fun this time because I made them in mini’s. Bite size soft and chewy cookies, perfect for that last bite.

If only there were leftovers.

 

Technique Upgrade

3 Dec

Dipping stuff in chocolate is two things.

#1 The perfect combination of chocolate and your favorite dipper. Whether that’s fruit, pretzels, Oreos, even bacon, yes bacon, everyone loves SOMETHING covered in chocolate.

#2 It’s a pretty basic, familiar thing to do. Most people who have ever dabbled in desserts have dipped their fair share of things in the sweet stuff.

Because of this, I was very pleased and excited with my recent chocolate dipping venture. You see, I too have been covering things in chocolate for years. I’m a sucker for salty sweet pretzels encased in milk and dark chocolate. They remind me of craft fairs as a kid. I think maybe my mom would buy them for me while she walked around looking at quilt-y stuff, she must’ve known my love for modern decor at an early age, but also knew that chocolate would keep me happy while she picked out antique Santa’s for our family room.

The Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, my family got together for pizza, salad and of course, dessert for my mom’s 5 year cancer survivor anniversary and I figured chocolate covered pretzels and strawberries would be the perfect complement. First of all, after a gluttonous week of turkey, trifles and tryptophan-filled wine, a snack-ier dessert was probably more appropriate than a cake and also it gave me a chance to experiment with dying white chocolate for decorating, purple for my mom. And second of all, my sister-in-law is gluten-free and my nephews are gluten-sometimes, so the strawberries were there for them. Ok, and me, cuz I love strawberries.

Oo, also because I just received a GIANT package of Pretzel Crisps sent to me because my snack budget is low. It’s amazing what Twitter can do. So I planted myself in the kitchen with pretzel rods, pretzel crisps, strawberries, milk, dark and white chocolates and purple food-coloring. Here are the results. Yum. Can we rewind to last week please?

Personalizing a Classic

19 Nov

Every one loves a chocolate chip cookie. Whether you prefer crunchy or chewy, hearty or gooey, it brings a sense of warmth and safety to the chewer. Have you really ever been mad eating a home-baked chocolate chipper? I think that may be impossible.

Since moving to California, I seem to be revamping the chocolate chip cookie for my roomies. This might be out of the comfort that it brings, or maybe just because I don’t know their absolute favorite flavors yet, but I have made a version of the chipper three times in about a month. The first was the pancake cookie, followed but the salty sweet orange Halloween ones, and finally the triple chip, an intense chocolate experience with dark, milk and white chips  mixed into the batter. This was the result of a recent Sunday night when we were all in the holiday spirit. Linda was making crafts and Cynthia had the ABC Family channel on in the living room and, of course, the scene could only be completed by a cookie. Lucky us, chocolate chips were on sale at Ralph’s, so we decided to bulk up these bad boys with some triple chip action. Result, amazing dense cookies filled with complimentary flavors. Even for Linda and I, who would never really choose white chocolate chips, when mixed with the others it’s a fun flavor combo. Even Alex came out of his room for a few. The recipe was off of one of the bags, but the flavor combo was the key – what’s your favorite way to change up a traditional recipe?

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