Friday, November 26, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Cookies

With Halloween, football, Thanksgiving, and crisp weather, fall is definitely my favorite time of year! I like putting pumpkin into everything to turn it into a seasonal dish. Last year's pumpkin shortage was so difficult!
I needed a portable pumpkin pie to pack in my lunch, and this is what I came up with. I took a pumpkin cookie base and stirred in white chocolate chips for added sweetness along with graham cracker pieces to mimic a crust and add texture. The result was a thick, dense, satisfying cookie that goes perfectly with a cup of hot cider.
I hope you enjoy this fall treat! Happy Thanksgiving!
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup graham cracker pieces
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a small bowl mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together sugars and butter. Add vanilla and eggs. Mix in canned pumpkin.
Gradually add in the flour mixture. Stir in graham cracker pieces and white chocolate chips.
Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough onto prepared cookie sheets.
Bake 14 minutes.
Yields 24 cookies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Essential Chocolate Desserts

Walking into Essential Chocolate Desserts, I was overwhelmed with choices! The rich chocolate brownie sample only made my decision harder. I was intrigued, though, by the giant, thick, chocolate-covered cookie shaped object in the front of the case. It was described as a variation of a moonpie. For those of you who don't know what a moonpie is, it is a soft graham cracker cookie sandwich filled with marshmallow cream and covered in chocolate. The moonpie at Essential Chocolate Desserts is a layer of marshmallow between two chocolate chip cookies that is then dipped in chocolate. I HAD to try it!

As you know, I have a hard time calling desserts too sweet or too rich. I was looking forward to devouring the entire moonpie,  but alas, I could not. I saved the other half for the next night, and it stayed perfectly fresh. The cookies were soft and thick. The marshmallow cream was gooey and sticky but did not melt or drip. The chocolate coating was thick and did not melt. I will be making my own version of these soon!

The Moonpie is $7.00. Regular cookies are $1.50. Their website ( includes pricing for their other specialty treats (brownies, snack cakes, macaroons, cupcakes, etc). Be sure to order in advance or go earlier in the day since they do run out of items.

Essential Chocolate Desserts is located at 10868 West Washington Boulevard in Culver City. There is even a little seating area if you prefer to eat your treat immediately.

Essential Chocolate Desserts on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pumpkin Softies

These pumpkin-flavored cookies have a soft, muffin top texture and plenty of pumpkin flavor. Not overly sweet, these cookies are a great mid-morning fall snack. Thanks to Nicole at Baking Bites for this great pumpkin spice ice cream topping!

This was the first time I had used an ice cream topping in cookies. I think I will try this again with chocolate. Have you used ice cream toppings for anything other than topping ice cream?
1 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup pumpkin spice ice cream topping
1 egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Cream butter, brown sugar, and ice cream topping until creamy. Add egg and mix.
Gradually mix in the flour mixture.
Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.
Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.
Yields 1 dozen

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dee's Treats

I was very excited to finally try the delights of a local baker who focuses on fresh, creative treats! I was not excited about the price, though. $9-$11 per dozen of small cookies was a bit much.
Mounds of Chocolate was the first cookie I sampled, and it was delicious! This chewy chocolate cookie was studded with chocolate chips, Oreo cookie pieces, and a layer of sweetened coconut. I also tried a caramel swirl cookie. I really liked the chewy caramel swirls and soft, chewy texture of the cookie with the rich chocolate flavor.
Overall, I love the creative flair of Dee's Treats, but due to the cost, I will not be ordering them again soon. You can order Dee's Treats through her website ( or you can find them in various shops around Orange County.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Magic Bars

These bars were indeed magical! Last weekend I found a can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk in my pantry set to expire in a few days. "What am I going to make with this?" I thought. "Make me!" said the recipe on the can. I had all of the ingredients in my pantry, and the picture looked tasty, so why not?
I will be making these again. This is a great make-ahead recipe. Coming out of the oven and later in the day, the bars were too hot and too goopy to really enjoy. The servings I had the next day and the day after were incredibly chewy and chocolatey. Another thing I really like about the recipe was the flexibility. Just put whatever you want on top of the graham cracker crust and condensed milk, and you are set for a delightful treat! I swapped out half of the chocolate chips for 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and 1/2 cup butterscotch chips.
What would you put in your magic bars?
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13 x 9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter in small bowl. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture.
Layer chocolate chips, coconut and nuts on top.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Loosen from sides of pan while still warm; cool on wire rack. Cut into squares.
Yields 30 bars.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Banana Walnut Bars

This is a fast and healthy recipe that yields a soft, bread-like bar cookie. I made this in a loaf pan, but next time I plan to use an 8x8 pan for a thinner bar.

I always use real banana in my banana flavored treats, but sometimes I don't want the texture to be altered by it. Have you tried banana extract or flavoring? If so, what did you think of the result?

1 cup wheat flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp margarine
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg white
1 mashed banana
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/8 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda is a small bowl. Set aside.
Cream together the margarine and brown sugar. Add egg and mix. Stir in the mashed banana. Mix in walnuts and mini chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into a loaf pan or 8x8 baking pan.
Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely in the pan.
Yields 12 bars.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Trail Mix Cookies

These easy-to-make cookies were a hit at the birthday party I took them to. They loved the chewy texture mixed with the crunch of nuts and flavor of dried fruit and chocolate pieces. I like how flexible I can be with the mix-ins. I just poured in a store bought, pre-made trail mix with almonds, peanuts, raisins, oats, and M&Ms, but you can use any trail mix ingredients you like.

I did have a bit of a disaster making these, though. I have decided I am finished using dark pans for baking! No matter what I do (change oven temperature, move oven racks, decrease baking time), I end up with burned cookie bottoms. Do you have any tips for baking with dark pans? I love my giant baking sheet and want to be able to use it...

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2  cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter or margarine softened
1/4 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup trail mix


Preheat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, beat sugars, peanut butter, butter, shortening, vanilla and eggs until creamy. Stir in flour, oats, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in trail mix.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet.
Bake 10 minutes or until light brown.

Yields 2 dozen.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Paradise Perks

Paradise Perks is a great new coffee house in Irvine (15475 Jeffrey Road, corner of Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive). Like any respectable coffe shop, they have tasty pastries to go along with their coffee beverages, so of course I am required to try them!
I sampled the chocolate chunk cookie and the peanut butter cookie. Both were very large for the $1.50 price tag. Both were also delicious! Soft and chewy, the chocolate chunk cookie was filled with TONS of chocolate chips and chunks. The peanut butter cookie was very chewy and did not have that chalky taste that peanut butter cookies sometimes have. I wish I could get my peanut butter cookies to be so chewy! The full-size Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in the middle was an added bonus. I have only made cookies with fun-size, mini peanut butter cups, but the thinner regular size peanut butter cup melted into the cookie better. I will be sure to try this in my future peanut butter cookies!
I like my cookies with milk, but Paradise Perks (visit for more details) has a number of beverages available to go with your cookies. What do you like to drink with your cookies?

Paradise Perks Espresso & Tea Bar on Urbanspoon