Category Archives: Cookies

Chocolate espresso biscotti

My mother-in-law has a special spot in her heart for biscotti, and her passion has been passed down to her son and daughter. With both siblings’ birthdays in April and Mother’s Day in May, what better opportunity for the daughter-in-law?

And the best part is, my mother-in-law loves them.  They’ve been part of her Christmas gift for the last two years, and both times she called in January to tell me that she had hidden and hoarded them, enjoying one every few days to make them last.  She called me after she ate the last one and told me she needed more, pronto- the biscotti were helping her maintain her sanity.

When I first set out to make biscotti, I had my heart set on a “mocha” flavored cookie and I felt like I had won the lottery when I found this recipe.  I increased the espresso powder slightly, and the effect is exactly what I was looking for– crunchy, crumbly texture with an initial pungent punch of espresso, followed by the bitter/smooth combo of 60% cacao chocolate. Add in the ribbons of white chocolate on top and the occasional burst of white chocolate sweetness in the biscotti, and you’ve got heaven. Italian cookie heaven.

I use Ghirardelli chocolate chips, because the quality and taste is pretty consistent, I think they’re much better than some of the cheaper brands, and they won’t break the bank.  Target seems to have them every Christmastime, so I stock up for a few batches throughout the year.

Chocolate espresso biscotti
Adopted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
3 T instant espresso powder (I used the darkest instant coffee powder I could find, because I couldn’t find instant espresso)
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1 t salt
6 T unsalted butter,  room temperature
1 c sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c (4 oz.) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or chips
2 c (16 oz) white chocolate, chopped or chips

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes.  Add the eggs and the vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes. (Don’t worry if the mixture looks funky; it gets better, I promise.) Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients gradually, mixing only until a dough forms.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix in 1 cup of the white chocolate and all of the bittersweet chocolate.

Sprinkle some flour on a clean work surface.  Dust your hands with some flour – the dough may be very sticky.  Turn the dough out and knead in any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing, and then divide the dough in half.  Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 10-inch long logs.  Transfer logs onto the baking sheet.  Flatten both logs so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high and a couple inches apart.

Bake the logs for 20-25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm.  The tops should spread and crack during baking.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven, place on a wire rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes.  Then working with one log at a time, cut each log into slices 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick– cut parallel to the shorter edge.  Slightly separate the slices on the baking sheet.  Bake the cookies again, this time for 10 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool.

While cooling, melt the remaining white chocolate.  (I add 1/2 tsp. of shortening, if I’ve got it, to the melting chocolate to encourage a glossy consistency.) With a teaspoon, drizzle the white chocolate over the biscotti in ribbons. Let the chocolate set before serving or storing.

*These cookies can be stored in a sealed container for a few weeks, or indefinitely in the freezer- if they last that long. Enjoy!

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Filed under Cookies, Desserts, Winter

Ritz cookies

Is this even a recipe?

I’m pretty sure it’s not.  But I still think that besides being my husband’s favorite, it’s the easiest Christmas “cookie” ever.

I have never seen these outside of my family’s holiday gatherings, though I’m not surprised… they really shouldn’t count as cookies.  But for whatever reason, they’re always loved.  Something as simple a creamy peanut butter spread between two Ritz crackers and dunked into melted chocolate bark shouldn’t be this good.

And yet, it is.

Ritz Cookies

Spread approximately 1/2 T of creamy peanut butter onto a Ritz cracker; add another cracker to make a sandwich. Dip in melted chocolate bark and lay on waxed paper til cool.  Stores in an air-tight container at room temperature for about a week, or in the freezer for a month or longer.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Cookies, Desserts

blueberry scones

Yes, I know it’s not blueberry season, and that I ought to be writing about the beef stew or the pumpkin pancakes I enjoyed last week. But something about scones (and muffins, come to think of it) reminds me of autumn. They’re a perfect treat to whip up while the coffee is brewing, to bake while getting ready for the day, and to grab on the way out the door in a sweater and scarf.

There’s some extra rolling-and-folding with this particular recipe, but I think it makes the scones extra flaky and really ensures that the blueberries are spaced throughout the scone without touching each other or clumping up.

Blueberry Scones
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen and Sweet Savory Southern

8 Tablespoons cold butter, plus 2 T. more for brushing
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, frozen
sanding sugar or regular white sugar for sprinkling

Grate the butter on the large holes of a box grater; scoop into a small bowl and place in the freezer for 5 minutes while prepping.

Preheat oven to 425. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium-large bowl.  Incorporate the frozen butter with a spoon (if you use your fingers, the heat from them may cause the butter to melt slightly).  In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and whole milk, and stir into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Turn out onto a well-floured surface, and knead a few times.  Roll out into a 12×12 inch square.  Using a bench scraper, fold the dough into thirds, then fold into thirds again in the opposite direction to form a square.  Roll the dough out into a 12×12 inch square again and refold.  Place on a plate and freeze for 5 minutes.

Roll out to a 12×12 inch square for a final time. Press the blueberries into the dough in a single layer, getting all the way to the edges.  Carefully roll up as you would a jelly roll.  Flatten and carefully press the roll into a 4-inch wide rectangle.  Using the bench scraper, cut into 4 rectangles.  Then cut each rectangle diagonally to make 2 triangles.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  At this point the scones can be baked or refrigerated overnight.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake 18-25 minutes, or until golden-brown.  Serve warm, with or without butter.

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Filed under Breakfast, Cookies, Summer

Blueberry-Lemon Crumb Bars

I found these listed merely as blueberry crumb bars, but when made with an entire lemon, I think the lemon deserves to be included in the title!

What a great “crumb” recipe. Really. The blueberry filling is simple and straightforward: tart, fresh, and nothing earth-shattering. But the crust… ay de mi. Even with all the lemon zest, it’s not “too” lemony, particularly once cooled to room temperature. It’s just right. Perfect, even. :)

Because I can’t ever leave anything alone, I will be making these again, but probably with strawberry and rhubarb and reducing the lemon juice in the filling. Despite the numerous bags of rhubarb in the freezer, it’s still growing out behind the garden- lucky me!

Blueberry-Lemon Crumb Bars
from Smitten Kitchen

Deb’s note- These are easiest to cut once chilled, and store even better in the fridge than they do at room temperature–something unusual for cookies!

1 c. white sugar
1 t. baking powder
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. cold butter (2 sticks)
1 egg
1/4 t. salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 c. fresh blueberries (2 pints containers)
1/2 c. white sugar
4 t. cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the 1/2 c. sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

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Filed under Cookies, Desserts, Summer

CE oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

I. Need. A. Cookie. NOW.

Don’t lie- you’ve been there.  Everybody has experienced that kind of a day. The kind where you want to grab a package of E.L. Fudge double-stuffed cookies on the way home and just sit on the couch, watching old Grey’s Anatomy re-runs, while you eat 4/5’s of the package.  Not that I’ve ever done that.

I’m trying to stay away from packaged “junk-food,” rationalizing that if I reeeeally want something badly enough, I should have to make it myself.  Especially when you can substitute some healthier items… flax seed or applesauce for oil, whole wheat flour instead of bleached, natural sugar cane instead of white sugar.

These are pretty dang good for “diet” healthy cookies, except for one point: they’re fugly. Seriously. Once you get past that, they’re great! I looooove the dark chocolate chips, and the fact that the sucanat and vanilla combined make them taste a bit like cookie dough.

CE oatmeal chocolate chip cookies [aka Fugly Cookies]
adapted from The Cleaning Eating Mama

Note: This is clearly irrational, but there is something … pretentious?… in my mind about writing “organic” in front of every.single.ingredient. Use organic when you can, as much as you can, for a plethora of reasons.  But if you can’t afford or find organic honey or oats or whatever, this recipe will still go on. :)

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar or natural sugar cane
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 1/4 cup whole-wheat (pastry) flour
  • 1  cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F.  In a large bowl, add applesauce and sugar and mix until creamy. Add egg, vanilla, honey and oil. Mix well.

    Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Slowly add the dry to wet, mixing until moist. Mix in the oats, and if needed, add more oats or flour to get your preferred consistency.  Add the chocolate chips at the end.

    Drop by spoonfuls onto a parchment paper-lined cooking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

    Serves: About 2 dozen cookies (if you don’t eat any batter! I got 22 cookies :)

    And finally, the most impressive part of this cookie-  the nutrition information:
    only 85 calories and 2.5 g. fat, with 2.5 g. protein,18 g. carbs, and 2 g. dietary fiber per cookie!

    YES! You can have your cookie without falling off the bandwagon!

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    Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Cookies, Desserts

    Cute sugar cookies

    After much researching and debate amongst online food bloggers about THE perfect sugar cookie recipe, I’ve developed the perfect one for me. Behold:

    6 T. butter, room temperature
    2 T. butter-flavored Crisco
    2/3 c. sugar
    1/3 c. powdered sugar
    1 egg
    1 1/2 t. vanilla
    1/2 t. almond extract
    dash of salt
    2 tsp baking soda
    2-3/4 to 3 c. white all-purpose flour

    Preheat your oven to 350 F. Cream together butter and shortening in electric mixer with paddle attachment. Mix in sugar and cream for 1-2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, salt, and almond, and mix to combine well.  Sprinkle  in 1 tsp of baking soda and one cup of flour; mix to combine. Repeat. With your mixer on a low speed, add in the remaining 3/4 or 1 cup of flour, being sure the bowl is very well scraped and you haven’t got egg, etc. on the bottom.

    Transfer dough to a medium-sized bowl; cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 20 minutes. Keep unused dough in the fridge while you’re rolling out cookies, and put the scrapes back in the bowl to chill before reusing. I roll out my dough to 1/4 to 1/3 inch, and I bake on professional half-sheets (no special brand needed) with parchment underneath, but before throwing in the oven, I put the entire sheet in the freezer for about 5 minutes. This can help the cookies keep their shape while they’re baking.

    When the cookies are completely cool, I like to decorate with royal icing. I use the Joy of Baking Royal Icing with egg whites recipe. Mmmm. I will post some pictures of the cookies I just made for my hubby!

    Source of inspiration for the recipe and spiderweb designs:

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    Filed under Cookies

    Pumpkin ice cream with Spiced shortbread cookies

    I love autumn. When I was younger, I hated it because autumn inevitably leads to winter, and I hate winter with an embedded, passionate vengeance. Growing up in northern South Dakota, spending my whole life in various parts of SD, until finally moving to northwest Wisconsin… I know, I’m begging for punishment. 3-5 feet of snow, 50 mph winds, and temperatures not rising above zero for days (yes, days plural) at a time.


    Anyway. Fall. In the last six years, I have grown to absolutely love it. And I know everyone else loves autumn, and I know that everyone loves pumpkin. And everybody goes a little pumpkin-crazy in September and October, especially with this year’s shortage. Yes, I enjoy pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. I dig pumpkin cookies and muffins and pumpkin creamcheese logs and all of that. However, I needed something more. Something rougher… but smoother, something pumpkin-hardcore to pop on my tastebuds more than the typical baked good or semi-healthy recipe.

    Eggs, sugar, milk, and cream

    Enter: pumpkin icecream. SDSU (South Dakota State University), my true alma mater, has been doing a pumpkin icecream for years. As soon as a few leaves magically turned bright red overnight and someone living near campus would light a bonfire on a random weeknight, SDSU would start serving pumpkin ice cream exclusively at the Dairy Bar on campus. LONG before DQ dreamt up the pumpkin pie blizzard, SDSU was rockin the orange creamy, spicy goodness. I hearby dedicate this dessert to SDSU and all of my wonderful (slightly hazy) undergrad memories… particularly the autumn memories. Go Big, Go Blue, Go Jacks!

    Here comes the pumpkin!

    Pumpkin Ice Cream
    2 large eggs
    3/4 c. sugar
    2 cups old-fashioned heavy cream
    1 cup milk (skim, 1% or 2%)
    1 can of  pumpkin
    1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice
    1 t. cinnamon
    1/2 t. nutmeg
    dash of cardamom (optional, to taste)
    1-2 Tbsp. brandy (optional)

    Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until foamy, 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar gradually, and whisk another minute. Add the heavy cream and milk and whisk to blend.

    Transfer about 1 cup of cream and eggs mixture to a medium mixing bowl. Add the pumpkin and spices, and stir/whisk until blended. Add the pumpkin mixture back to the cream and blend together. Pour into your icecream maker and make according to manufacturer’s instructions. If desired, add the brandy to the icecream 5-10 minutes before the anticipated end of the cycle.

    Ready to go in the icecream maker

    Spiced shortbread cookies
    1/2 c. butter, softened
    1/4 c. brown sugar
    1 c. + 1 Tbsp. flour
    1 t. cinnamon
    dash of nutmeg, cardamom, and/or pumpkin pie spice (all optional, to taste)

    Cream together butter and sugar. Add the spices and flour and mix. If needed, add 1/2 tsp. of water to form into a ball. Roll out with rolling pin to 1/4-1/3 inch. Cut into circles or triangles or any other preferred shape. Bake on ungreased baking pan at 325 F. for 7-10 minutes. Careful not to overbake– cookies will continue baking on the hot baking pan for a few minutes after you pull them out of the oven.

    Autumn-y, spicy goodness

    Serve these together and enjoy in front of candles or a fire with your loved ones. :)

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    Filed under Cookies, Desserts, Fall