Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell 2012

2012 has been quite a year! Has it gone as fast for you as it has for me? The first half of the year flew by, and the rest of the year after Labor Day always goes incredibly fast. I always thought my parents were crazy when they talked about how time flies, but now I really get it.

I made some really delicious recipes this year. A few of my favorites... 

I also ate a lot of great cookies. A few highlights from 2012...
Chicago Cookie Finds 1 and 2

I'm sure 2013 will be just as great! What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Delicate Mint Holiday Sandwich Cookies

I came across this recipe on Food Network's website for new ideas. Below is my adapted version. I happened to have 2 ounces of cream cheese in the refrigerator, so it was meant to be! These cute cookies are a great size for a holiday party. They are not too sweet either. The cookies themselves have nice buttery flavor and are slightly crispy. I didn't decorate mine with sugar, but it would have been a nice touch. I'll remember that for next year!
1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
2 ounces cream cheese softened
3 tablespoons granulated sugar 
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 

Mint Filling:
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar 
2 tablespoons butter softened
1 drop mint extract 
2 drops red or green food coloring 
1/2-1 teaspoons water

For the cookies: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cream the butter, cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the flour slowly, mixing on low, until incorporated. Scoop the dough into a ball using your hands and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until the dough has firmed slightly, about 30 minutes.

On a floured surface, roll the dough about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out as many rounds as possible with a small cookie cutter and transfer to ungreased baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between each cookie. Re-roll the dough scraps and repeat until all the dough is used.

Bake until golden around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

For the filling: Place the sugar, butter, mint extract, food coloring and 1/2 teaspoon of water in a medium bowl and beat on medium speed until well combined and fluffy. Spread a thin layer of mint filling on the cookies and form sandwiches.
Yields 18 sandwiches

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mint Chocolate Cookies

I know I go on and on about my chocolate and mint obsession. These cookies are slightly chewy, but not cakey. They are full of chocolate and mint chunks and were especially good warm from the oven. This treat will definitely warm up a cold winter afternoon!

3/4 cup packed brown sugar 
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup shortening 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
2 eggs 
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
24 Andes Mint candies, unwrapped
1 cup mini chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
In large bowl, cream together brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, shortening, vanilla and eggs. Gradually mix in cocoa powder, flour, and baking soda. Stir in mints and the mini chocolate chips.
Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto cookies sheets..
Bake 11 to 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown slightly. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Yields 3 dozen

Monday, December 17, 2012

Peppermint Frosted Brownies

I cannot believe we are this far into December! This time since Thanksgiving has really flown by. If you're like me and need a holiday treat and are short on time, try this fast recipe. If you want to make your brownies from scratch, try this brownie recipe. I decorated my brownies with red decorating sugar. These have a slight peppermint flavor that is not too strong.

1 box of fudge brownie mix (sized for a 13x9 pan)
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 baking pan with cooking spray.
Prepare brownies per the instructions on the box. Pour the batter into the prepare pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.
While the brownies are baking, using a hand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Mix in peppermint extract. Gradually add in the powdered sugar. If necessary add milk to achieve desired consistency.
Spread a light layer of frosting over the brownies. Then slice and decorate.
Yields 36 bars

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dancing Deer Baking Company- Cookie Sampler

Are you looking for a holiday gift this season? Well, look no further! Since I had such a great experience with the shortbread assortment earlier this year, I purchased the Classic Cookie Sampler from Dancing Deer Baking Company. It arrived in a cute box with a green ribbon and was filled with nicely packaged cookie stacks. The cookie sampler includes eight of each of these cookies: molasses, triple chocolate chip, lime sugar, and cranberry orange. What a perfect assortment for this time of year! Here's the scoop:

Molasses- It's like taking a bite out of Christmas!
Triple Chocolate Chip- This was my favorite. Yum! I had a hard time limiting myself to two per day on these chewy treats. They had plenty of chocolate and white chocolate chips, too.
Lime Sugar- This slightly crispy cookie has a very strong lime flavor that is a little overpowering.
Cranberry Orange- What a perfect cookie for the holidays! This crispy orange, cranberry, and white chocolate cookie gave me a nice burst of afternoon energy.

The Classic Cookie Sampler was $39.99 plus shipping. To take a look at Dancing Deer Baking Company's online catalog, visit

Monday, December 10, 2012

Three Hearts Bakeshop & Cookies by Design

Cookies by Design
I had a wonderful birthday celebration a few weeks ago that included a surprise visit to pick up my very own cookie bouquet at Cookies by Design. What a fantastic treat! My fall-themed five cookie display (2 pumpkin shaped cookies, one sunflower, one scarecrow, and one leaf) was beautifully wrapped and easy to transport. The handmade decorations were perfectly done. The cookies themselves were thick sugar cookies that were soft, but not crumbly. The taste was just average, so you are definitely buying the bouquet for its beauty rather than taste.
Cookies by Design has about 60 locations throughout the country and also ships their beautiful displays (there are a lot of cute holiday-themed gifts!). Visit their website at for more information.

Three Hearts Bakeshop
A few weeks ago I came across some cookie sandwiches and Deli-licious in Costa Mesa. The sandwiches were individually wrapped and looked mighty delicious! I went with the chocolate chip with chocolate filling. Yum! What a find. The filling was a little too sweet, but the intense chocolate flavor made up for it. Luckily Three Hearts Bakeshop also ships across the country. Cookie sandwiches are $18-$20 per dozen and come in a variety of flavors. You can also order just cookies for the reasonable price of $30 per dozen. Definitely add them to your holiday shopping list:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Beverly Hills Brownie Company

Going into this store, I was pretty skeptical. The selection was amazing, but the $3.25 price tag seemed steep. Despite that, I tried the Red Velvet Brownie and the Classic Chocolate Walnut Brownie. Both were excellent! I'm wishing I bought more. Both kinds were rich and chewy. The red velvet even had a buttercream filling.

If you are in need of another sweet gift for the holidays, this is it. Brownies can be shipped anywhere in the continental United States or Canada or purchased at their store in Beverly Hills (315 N. Beverly Drive). Visit their website for more details:

Monday, December 3, 2012

One-Bowl Peppermint Patty Brownies

Here is another great recipe from Anna Ginsberg's The Daily Cookie- a wonderful holiday gift for the baker in your life. These brownies and chocolaty and chewy, and the peppermint patties are a nice surprise. If you don't like mint, this is a great brownie recipe on its own.
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs plus 2 tablespoons of lightly beaten egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
12 small peppermint patties

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the center. Line an 8-inch metal pan with nonstick foil, or line it with regular foil and spray the flour with flour-added baking spray.
In a large, microwave-safe mixing bowl, microwave the butter on high for 30 seconds, or until melted. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth, then whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. When eggs are well mixed, whisk in the baking powder, salt, and flour. Reserve about 1 cup of batter. Spread the remaining batter in the prepared pan.
Arrange the peppermint patties about 1/2 inch apart in a single layer over the batter. Spread the reserve batter over the patties. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center. It should come out with moist crumbs as opposed to batter. Let cool completely in the pan, then chill until cold. Grasp the foil, lift from the pan, set on a cutting board, and cut int sixteen squares.
Yields 16 servings.