Monday, January 30, 2012

Chocolate Chunk Blondies

I saw Ina Garten make this on her Food Network TV Show Barefoot Contessa and knew it would be perfect for an upcoming bake sale. I made this in a 13 x 9 pan and dusted the final product with powdered sugar after it cooled. I used about 2 cups of chocolate chips and skipped the walnuts. They were very popular at the bake sale!


  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate chunks


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 x 12 x 2 inch baking pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well, scraping down the bowl. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and with the mixer still on low, slowly add flour mixture to the butter mixture. Fold the walnuts and chocolate chunks in with a rubber spatula.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes exactly. Don't overbake! A toothpick may not come out clean. Cool completely in the pan and cut into bars.
Yields 16 big bars.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Aurelie: The Cookie Guru

Anyone who says they're "the cookie guru" and has a display case full of delicious looking cookies is worth a try. The cookies did look scrumptious! At a hefty price tag of $3.00 each, I tried only one- caramel chocolate chip. The cookie was served warm, and I made fast work of it! Soft and gooey, it was under-baked, but in a good way. This has got to be one of my top cookie finds! Now if only the price was a little better...

The Cookie Guru has a boutique in Santa Monica at Santa Monica Place. They specialize in chocolate chip, so only three flavors are prepared each day (chocolate chip, caramel chocolate chip, and a monthly flavor). Currently shipping is not offered, but they plan to start that soon. They do deliver (fresh or frozen) within the LA area, though. For more details visit their website at

The Cookie Guru (The Market at Santa Monica Place) on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 23, 2012

S'mores Cookie Sandwiches

A craving for s'mores hit today, and instead of going with the traditional form, I made a cookie form. Unfortunately my marshmallow fluff had expired (do you ever have that trouble of finding expired things in your pantry?), so I just microwaved a few mini marshmallows between two cookies. The cookies themselves are crispy and have a sweet graham flavor.

1 stick cold, unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Marshmallow fluff

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream together butter and sugars until well blended and fluffy. Add egg and beat  until well incorporated.
Add flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and mix until just combined. Stir in graham cracker crumbs. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
Spoon dough onto baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove baking sheets from the oven and immediately lightly press four miniature marshmallows in the center of each cookie.
Yields 12 sandwiches.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Juliette's Bakery

Coming for a long weekend in Palm Springs, I knew this was the bakery to try. For about $20 I was able to try five average-sized cookies, two large brownies, one cupcake, one coconut macaroon, and two cake pops.

Here's a rundown of the cookies:
Peanut Butter- slight peanut butter flavor, just OK
Double Chocolate- delicious- sure to satisfy any chocolate craving
Chocolate Chip- a little too sweet, but lots of chocolate flavor
Snickerdoodle- super soft, great cinnamon flavor
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut- best cookie of the group, lots of white chocolate and small bits of nuts

Also I tried their brownies (chocolate fudge and caramel pecan) and red velvet cake pops. Both of these were great! Next time in Palm Springs, I'll be sure to get some of these, too.

For more, details visit the Juliette's Bakery website:

On a different note, with Valentine's Day coming up, be sure to take special care of yourself (or the cookie fan in your life). Bath & Body Works has a scent called Homemade Cookies, so not only can you eat homemade cookies, but your house can always smell like them, too! I purchased the room fragrance and the chocolate chunk hand sanitizer. The chocolate chunk is a seasonal flavor, but it is still available on their website. Caution- you may want to eat your hand after applying!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Banana Graham Peanut Butter Chip Bars

These turned out to be more like banana bread than bar cookies, so I called them breakfast bars and ate them for breakfast instead! With only 3 tablespoons of margarine and one egg white, they are not heavy or an overly sweet way to start the day. They bake up quickly and make the whole house smell yummy!

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup flour 
1/2 teaspoon Baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon Salt 
3 tablespoons tub margarine
1/4 cup Sugar 
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1 Egg white
1/2 cup Banana, mashed
1 cup peanut butter chips 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. 
Put butter and sugars into a bowl and mix with an electric mixer; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add egg; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in peanut butter chips. 
Pour into an 8x8 baking pan. Bake until golden brown (about 18 minutes). 
Allow pan to cool completely before cutting. 
Yields 16 Bars.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rice Krispies Cookies

I am still trying to create an at-home version of Heaven's Cookies, and I got a little bit closer with this recipe. While I am still looking for a bit airier of a cookie, this recipe yields a buttery cookie with a nice crunch from the cereal.

2 cups all purpose flour
3/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup Rice Krispies

Preheat oven to 350F.
Stir flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl until combined. 
Cut butter into cubes and combine with the flour mixture in the food processor.
Pulse the mixture (scraping down the sides between pulses) until pea-sized clumps of dough begin to form.
Remove dough from food processor and put into a large bowl. By hand, stir in Rice Krispies until just combined. 
Press mixture into a 13 x 9 baking pan.
Bake for 15-18 minutes.
Allow the cookies to cool for about 5 minutes before cutting into pieces. Cool completely before serving.
Yields 32 servings.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cake Bakeshop

I happened upon a cute little bakery in Manhattan Beach on Saturday. With all sorts of delicious treats it was hard to decide was to pick.

I tried the salted chocolate chip cookie, snickerdoodle, oreo, pb & jelly cookie and a seven layer bar. The chocolate chip cookies had a lot of chocolate chunks for such small cookies, but there was a bit too much salt in some bites (other bites had no salt at all). The snickerdoodles were perfectly chewy and cinnamony. The oreo filling was excellent, but the cookies were dry. The pb & jelly cookie was amazing- chewy, great flavor combination. The seven layer bar was hard to eat (really messy and crumbly) but was rich and delicious. 
On a side note, I tried the cupcakes and coffee cake. The cupcakes and the coffee cake were dry, but the frosting was superb.
Cookies and bars range in price from 75 cents to $3.00. For more information, visit their website at

Cake Bakeshop on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Paris Vacation

Paris was a quick train ride from London but was a completely different and magical place.

Before I tried Laduree, I did not think I liked French-style macaroons. I was so wrong! The macaroons were light and airy with rich flavor. The caramel was my absolute favorite. Vanilla was a close second. I also tried chocolate, apple, and raspberry. Amazing!
A fun shop I visited was La Cure Gourmande. Cookies are sold by weight. Part of the fun is going through their buffet of cookies and selecting the ones to try. It was easy to go overboard! The specialty was a cross between a shortbread and sugar cookie with various fillings (chocolate cream, strawberry, hazelnut). The chocolate cream filled was excellent. Next time I will skip the chocolate cookie with chocolate filling- too grainy. 
What should I try on my next trip to Paris?

Monday, January 2, 2012

London Vacation

Happy New Year! With many of you probably wanting to take a break from baking after a busy holiday (and perhaps eat a little less), I won't temp you with new recipes and instead share some cookie finds from my vacation to London and Paris in November. Thank you to Heavenly Housewife and The More Than Occasional Baker for all of their helpful tips! 
Below is what I tried in London. My next post will include my Paris finds.

Ottolenghi- Walking into this bakery was heavenly- so hard to decide what to try. The fudge cookie and chocolate chip pecan cookie I tried were amazing- soft, chewy, and indulgent.
Le Pain Quotidien- The nougat and fudge nut cookies were surprisingly delicious. The nougat cookie was gooey and sweet. The fudge nut cookie had a rich chocolate flavor.
Pret A Manger- Even more prevalent than Starbucks, Pret A Manger was everywhere. I had a chocolate croissant from there nearly every morning for breakfast. The chocolate chip cookie was very good, too, but not as tasty as some of the others I tried. It certainly satisfied my need for an afternoon snack!
Ben's Cookies- Everyone said that Ben's Cookies were the best in London, and they were right! The triple chocolate was my favorite. The milk chocolate praline and dark chocolate chunk tasted great, but they lacked chocolate and praline.

Outsider Tart- Near our hotel was a farmer's market, and the giant saucer-sized sugar cookies caught my eye. Soft and sweet, this was the perfect afternoon treat.
Hummingbird Bakery- This bakery doesn't sell cookies (they actually recommended Ben's Cookies when I asked if they had cookies), but their whoopie pies are worth mentioning. Delicious!
What's your New Year's resolution?