Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chocolate Chip Peppermint Cookies

With my remaining Andes Peppermint Baking Chips, I made a version of this recipe from Food Network's Sunny Anderson. These cookies turned out slightly crispy and had just the right mix of peppermint and chocolate.

Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1 large egg beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/3 cup peppermint baking chips


Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
Cream together the margarine and sugars until well combined.
Add the egg and blend until combined.
In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Gradually stir in the flour mixture to the butter mixture. 
Fold in the chocolate chips and peppermint chips. 
Spoon tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until golden.
Yields 2 dozen

Monday, December 23, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread


Christmas is almost here! This is an easy and delicious way to reward yourself for all of your hard work this year (or perfect for a last-minute party or guest). As an added bonus, your entire kitchen will smell like peppermint!

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/3 cup Andes peppermint baking bits

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 1 (9-inch) glass pie plate with cooking spray.
In large bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in flour and cocoa. Stir in peppermint baking bits. Press dough evenly in pie plate.
Bake 22 to 24 minutes or until edges just begin to pull away from sides of pie plate. Cool in pie plate for 5 minutes. Cut into 16 wedges.
Yields 16 servings.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mint Chocolate Brown Sugar Bars

I had such a great result with these Chewy Toffee Bars from Food Network's Jamie Deen earlier this fall that I wanted to make a mint version for the holidays. They come together so quickly, so they're perfect for this time of year.

Ingredients 
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter 
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
Pinch salt 
2 large eggs 
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
1 cup mint chocolate chips 

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust the racks to the center of the oven. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. 
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the brown sugar until melted together. Let cool for 5 minutes. 
While the mixture is cooling, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. 
Stir in the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract into the cooled sugar and butter mixture. Add the dry ingredients into the saucepan until combined. Fold in the mint chocolate chips. 
Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before slicing into squares. 
Yields 16 servings

Monday, December 16, 2013

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

This recipe is great for the holidays. Not only is it a festive traditional treat, but I think they taste better the day after you bake them! If you want flatter cookies, press down the dough on the cookie sheet before baking.

Ingredients
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine flour and baking powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture. Stir in white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of cookie dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Yields 2 dozen

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mint Truffle Cookie Butter Cookies

For some reason the chocolate and mint combination always tastes best at this time of year. It was so hard to stop at three of these cookies! The chocolate mint really shines and is complimented by the flavorful cookie butter dough. Cookie butter is delicious on its own, but it's worth saving a half cup for this recipe!

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup cookie butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
36 unwrapped Hershey Mint Truffle Kisses

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
Mix the butter and cookie butter until smooth. Add in sugars. Then stir in the egg.
Gradually add in the flour mixture. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets. Slight press one mint truffle Kiss into each cookie.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
Let sit on cookie sheet to cool for 5 minutes. Then move to cooling rack to cool completely.
Yields 3 Dozen

Monday, December 9, 2013

Salty Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I made a few modifications to this recipe on Epicurious. I didn't use as much salt, so these cookies were more like regular chocolate chip instead of salty chocolate chip. It didn't matter, though. They were delicious! I enjoyed them soft and warm out of the oven, but they were even better slightly crispy the next day (perfect make-ahead cookie!). I was really intrigued by the powdered sugar included in the ingredients list and think it made the cookies a little softer and sweeter.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar 
1/4 cup powdered sugar 
2 large egg yolks 
1 large egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
Sea salt

Instructions
Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375°F. Whisk flour, baking powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add egg yolks, egg, and vanilla. Beat, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is pale and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low; slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just to blend. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate.
Spoon rounded tablespoonfuls of cookie dough onto 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing 1" apart. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.
Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until just golden brown around the edges, 10-12 minutes (the cookies will firm up as they cool). Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks; let cool completely.
Yields 3 dozen

Thursday, December 5, 2013

White Chocolate Mint Chocolate Cookies

I can never make it through the holidays without several mint chocolate or peppermint chocolate treats! Here is one to kick off the season. It is not overly minty, and the mint with white chocolate combination balances nicely.
Ingredients
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
1 cup mint chocolate chips
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In large bowl, cream together brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, shortening, vanilla and egg. Gradually mix in cocoa powder, flour, and baking soda. Stir in mint chips and white 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 2 dozen

Monday, December 2, 2013

Top 10 Cookie Finds 2013


Happy Cyber Monday! I hope you all had a great turkey day. Here are my top cookie finds of 2013 that are sure to be a hit with everyone on your gift list. If you need more inspiration, check out my Top Cookie Finds from 2011 and 2012.

Specialty's Cookie Mix- Perfect for the baker in your life- several varieties to choose from
Baking Betty's- I wish I discovered them earlier. Giant cookies with so many great flavors.
Tate's Bakeshop- They're pros when it comes to gift boxes. Your gift is sure to impress!
Miss Lilly's Trading Company- Not only do they have mouthwatering cookies, but a portion of proceeds go to Meals on Wheels.
'lette macarons- Beautiful packaging- try one of every flavor!
Miette- Their graham crackers are amazing.
SusieCakes- In-store pick up and local delivery are available. Whoopie pies are the best!
Christopher Garren's- Delicious treats (and lovely cakes, too!)
Joan's on Third- Be sure to get the mini chocolate chip cookies! They have beautiful gift baskets available for in-store pick up and local delivery.
Thickys- The presentation of these deliciously sweet bars isn't the best, so take that into consideration when purchasing.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This year, as every year, I have a lot to be thankful for- good health, the wonderful Mr. Sleuth, and a supportive family. I hope you all have a great day and that this is the start of a lovely holiday season for you. A few of my favorite fall cookie recipes are below. Gobble! Gobble!



Monday, November 25, 2013

Cinnamon Pumpkin Bars

This recipe has exhausted my pumpkin supply for the season. These bars are light and not too sweet. Come back on Thanksgiving for a recap of some of my favorite fall recipes. Now it's on to holiday mint and peppermint cookies!


Ingredients
Crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons melted butter
Bars
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup cinnamon chips

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a small bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and 2 tablespoons of butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of an 8x8 baking pan. Bake for 5 minutes until crust is set.
In a another small bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. 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 the cinnamon chips.
Pour over the graham cracker crust.
Bake 20 minutes.
Yields 16 bars.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Chocolate Fudge Bars

Who doesn't love an easy chocolate dessert recipe? This chewy, dense bar came together very quickly. My only complaint was that the edges ended up being a little too crispy for me.


Ingredients
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 ounces dark chocolate
1 egg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray.
Sift the flour and baking soda together in a bowl. Set aside.
Melt together the butter and chocolate.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg until foamy and then beat in the sugar until well-blended. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients and spoon into the pan. 
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Yields 16 servings.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bouchon Bakery Double Chocolate Cookie Mix

A few weeks ago we had a fun little shopping spree at William Sonoma to use up a gift card. Included in my purchases was Bouchon Bakery's Double Chocolate Cookie Mix. The mix is $19.95 and includes a sugar packet, dry ingredient packet, and chocolate chip/chunk packet. All I needed to add was 9 Tablespoons of butter and one egg. As you can see from the picture, my cookies ended up a little thinner than the picture on the box due to a little accident with the dry ingredient packet. The flavor of the cookies still was great (deep, rich dark chocolate flavor), but the texture was off. Even if all of the dry ingredient packet made it into the mixer, I do not think I would get this mix again due to the price and the good (but not amazing) flavor of the cookie. If you are in need of a baking mix, I would recommend Vosges and Specialty's.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

La Dolcerie & Papa John's


Mr. Sleuth had a business trip to the Dominican Republic recently and he brought me back two cookies from La Dolcerie. One was oatmeal raisin (extremely chewy with not too many raisins), and the other was chocolate chip (slightly crispy and buttery with plenty of chocolate chips). If you happen to be in Santo Domingo, it's worth a stop.


Something a little closer to home is the Papa John's chocolate chip cookie. For just $5.00 you can add an eight slice cookie to your order. The cookie was a little smaller than I thought it would be (about 8 inches across), but there was plenty to go around. The inside was chewy, and the edges were very crispy. Lots of chocolate chips helped, too. It's worth adding to your meal if you want a little something sweet and warm to finish it off with. I saved a slice of the cookie for the next day, and it stayed fresh.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Believe it or not, I needed a break from chocolate. This recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod had everything I was looking for- slightly chewy, texture from the oatmeal, and not overly peanut buttery. The original recipe included filling, and I skipped that portion today.

Ingredients

3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 
1 large egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 cup quick-cooking oats 

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, peanut butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Finally, add the oats and mix until just combined.
Take about 1 tablespoon of dough and roll into a cookie ball. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly golden and the edges are set. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yields 2 dozen

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Recchiuti Triple Chocolate Cookies

I love Recchiuti Confections and this recipe from his website was a great version to make at home between visits. Below is the recipe, but I made a few changes since I was short on time. Instead of making into logs and refrigerating, I pressed the dough into an 8x8 pan and baked immediately in a 350 degree oven for 18 minutes. I also did not have a vanilla bean or fleur de sel available. I'm sure they would have made the bars even better, but I was still happy with the rich chocolate and crispy result.

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened natural cocoa powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter with 82% butterfat, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
3/4 cup dark brown cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, preferably Madagascar Bourbon or Tahitian
1/2 Tahitian vanilla bean, split horizontally 
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel in fine grains
3 ounces 41% milk chocolate, roughly chopped
3 ounces 65% chocolate, roughly chopped

Instructions
Make the dough:
Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together into a bowl. Set aside.
Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until creamy. Add both sugars and the vanilla extract. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the bowl. Sprinkle the salt over the top. Beat on medium speed just until combined.Reduce the speed to low. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, pulsing the mixer to incorporate each addition before adding the next one. Pulse just until a crumbly dough forms. Add both chopped chocolates and mix on low speed just until incorporated.Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead a few times to incorporate any crumbs.Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a log about 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 12 inches long. As you roll, gently push the ends toward the center occasionally to prevent air pockets and to keep the logs at an even thickness.Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Bake the cookies:

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottoms of two 12-by-18-inch sheet pans with parchment paper.Remove the logs from the refrigerator and unwrap them. Using a ruler to guide you and a sharp knife, cut each log into rounds 1/2 inch thick. If the dough crumbles as you cut it, reshape each slice. Place the rounds on the prepared pans, spacing them 1 1/2 inches apart.Bake on the middle shelves of the oven, rotating the pans 180 degrees halfway through the baking time, until set but soft enough to hold a slight indentation when pressed with a fingertip, about 14 minutes. Let cool completely on the pans on wire racks. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Yields 48 cookies.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Even though we just got through Halloween, I'm craving chocolate! This recipe is simple and makes just one dozen, so you can't get too carried away. These cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. 



Ingredients
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/8 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt together the bittersweet chocolate and butter.
while the mixture is cooling, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract together.
To the egg and sugar mixture, gradually add in the melted chocolate. Then add in the flour mixture and semisweet chocolate.
Drop tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.
Yields 1 dozen

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! We don't get that many trick or treaters at our house. Each year I'm hopeful we will have more than our usual 10-12, so I buy way too much candy. If you're like me and have some extra candy on your hands, give these recipes a try.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blackmarket Bakery & The Cravory Revisited

I just made my way to Blackmarket Bakery's new location in The Camp. What a magical store! Some items are a bargain (large, rich hot chocolate just $2.30 and homemade graham crackers- $3.75 for 8), but others seem a bit overpriced ($3.75 for 8 small, two-bite shortbread cookies). The store is absolutely worth a visit. Everything is fresh and uses high quality ingredients. The mocha shortbreads were especially good and were very crispy. Even though they had a rich chocolate taste, I could have eaten all 8 in the package at once. The homemade graham crackers were crunchy and not overly sweet- perfect for any time of day. 
If you need a Halloween gift or just some inspiration for what to do with some extra Halloween candy, look no further than The Cravory's October Flavors of the Month. For $38, you can try two of each of the six special flavors. The Almond Joyous and Pumpkin S'mores were the best. The PB Butterfinger and Snick or Treat were nothing special, and the Eminem's cookie was not overly creative but well-executed. The Twixed was very delicious as well. 

I've reviewed The Cravory previously. Take a look at my first and second reviews of their cookies.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

The Back In the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith Day has so many amazing recipes. This was no exception. Besides producing a deliciously sweet and chewy cookie, the recipe itself has ingredients that every home cook will have on hand.
Ingredients
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick of butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted

Instructions
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 350′ F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until light and fluffy.
Mix in the oats until just combined. Add in the flour mixture.
Sprinkle in the coconut and mix until just combined.  
Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time to ensure that they bake evenly.  The finished cookie should be golden brown most of the way through. 
Yields 2 dozen

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

I'm not one of those people who gets tired of pumpkin flavored foods and drinks during the fall. I could eat it all year-round, but it does seem to taste better in fall. :) These not-too-sweet cookies make a great morning or afternoon treat.

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup granulated sugar 
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg 
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Stir in pumpkin and egg. Stir in flour mixture. Fold in dried cranberries.
Drop on tablespoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheets.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
Yields 3 Dozen

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Fall is here! I book marked this recipe from Baking Bites last fall and was excited to make this over the weekend to usher in the season. I did not have any pumpkin spice, so I used cinnamon, which worked nicely. I also used only one cup of rolled oats and preferred to use mini-chocolate chips.

Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (pref. homemade)
1/4 cup butter room temperature
1/2 cup white sugar 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1 large egg 
1/4 cup pumpkin puree 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 cups quick cooking oatmeal 
1 cup chocolate chips 

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars until fluffy. Beat in the egg, followed by the pumpkin puree and the vanilla extract. Working by hand, stir in the flour mixture and the oatmeal until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for about 11-13 min. Cookies will be lightly browned at the edges when done. Don’t be tempted to over-bake them in the hope of browning them more, or they can dry out.
Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yields 2 dozen

Monday, October 14, 2013

Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

This recipe was inspired by one I found on Cookies and Cups. It was such an easy cookie to put together because of the cake mix. It's a little sweet, so next time I'll cut the brown sugar in half. These tasted best warm and right from the oven. Yum!

Ingredients
1/2 cup margarine, room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar 
1 egg
1 cup devils food cake mix 
1/2 cup flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3/4 cups mini chocolate chips 
Instructions
In a small bowl, mix together the cake mix, flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Gradually add in the cake mix and flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Refrigerate dough for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place tablespooonfuls of dough onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
Bake for 8-10 minutes until cookies are set.
Yields 2 dozen.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chocolate Studded Oatmeal Bars

I found this recipe on the Scharffen Berger website and made a couple of adjustments. They were delicious and tasted better the next day. Do allow this chewy treat to cool completely before digging in.

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat well. Add the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture. Mix until just blended. Add the oatmeal and the chocolate chips.
Press the dough into an ungreased 8x8 inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cool. Slice into bars.
Yields 16 servings.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Specialty’s Cafe At-Home Semi-Sweet Chocolate Cookie Mix

Several years ago I tried Specialty's Cafe cookies for the very first time. Since then I have been a regular, and I was excited to try their at-home mixes so I could make my own Specialty's cookies. The cookie mix is $12 and comes in semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate varieties. Each box comes with a bag of sugar/flour mixture and a bag of chocolate chips. All you need to add is 5 Tablespoons of butter, vanilla, and 1 egg. They came together in a breeze and go right into the oven after mixing (not refrigeration time required). 12 minutes later I had delicious semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies that were very similar to the real thing. For me the only difference was the size (cookies from the mix were slightly smaller) and the texture (mine were a little gooier and softer in the middle than cookies from the bakery). I also froze a couple of balls of dough and made them two nights later. They turned out just as good as the first round and did not require any thawing. I just left them in the oven about three minutes longer. Overall, this mix is definitely worth a try and would make a great gift!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chewy Toffee Bars

I saw Jamie Deen make these delicious (and easy to make) bars on his Food Network show. They tasted even better than they looked. I didn't toast the pecans since I was short on time. The corners that didn't have the toffee or pecans in them had a rich brown sugar taste and were wonderfully chewy.

Ingredients 
Nonstick spray 
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter 
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons baking powder 
Pinch salt 
3/4 cup pecans, chopped 
2 large eggs 
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
1 cup toffee pieces 

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust the racks to the center of the oven. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with nonstick spray. 
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the brown sugar until melted together. Let cool for 5 minutes. 
While the mixture is cooling, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. 
Toast the pecans in medium skillet over medium heat. Remove to a plate once toasted. 
Stir in the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract into the cooled sugar and butter mixture. Add the dry ingredients into the saucepan until combined. Fold in the toffee and chopped pecans; the batter will be very thick. 
Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before slicing into squares. 
Yields 16 servings