Thursday, March 28, 2013

White Chocolate Caramel Layer Bars

These bars are fairly quick to make despite the extra step of baking the base before adding the caramel layer. They're very sweet and would also be good with dark chocolate chips instead of white.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
15 caramel squares, melted
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, cream together the margarine and brown sugar. Add in the egg.
Gradually add in the flour mixture.
Press half of the dough into the bottom of the loaf pan. Bake for 8 minutes. While the base is baking, stir in the white chocolate chips to the remaining dough. 
Remove the base from the oven. Pour in the melted caramel. Press the remaining dough on top. Put the pan back into the oven and bake for another 8 minutes until golden.
Cool completely before cutting into bars.
Yields 12 pieces.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Queen's Bakery & Gypsy Den

Over the weekend I headed over to Queen's Bakery in Costa Mesa. I tried one of their beautiful Easter cookies ($3.95 each). The cookies are beautifully decorated and would make a lovely gift. Plus they taste great! An added bonus was the friendliness of the staff. They were excited about their products and created an atmosphere where you want to be one of the "regulars" and ask for "the usual".

Also this weekend I had breakfast at Gypsy Den and purchased a chocolate chip cookie for an afternoon snack. The chocolate chip cookie ($2.25) was super soft and full of chocolate chips. I'll get another one or maybe even try one of their vegan nut cookies the next time I go back for the blueberry pancakes.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bakeshop Cookies

This delicious cookie was inspired by a recipe I found on the Hershey's website after my visit to the Hershey store in Chicago. These perfectly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside cookies tasted fresh a couple of days after baking. Next time I will add in more of the dark chocolate, though.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1 dark chocolate bar (4 ounces, cut into chunks)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Cream butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla in large bowl until thoroughly blended. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour mixture.
Mix in the white chocolate chips and chocolate bar chunks.
Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on cookie sheet and move to wire rack to cool completely.
Yields 2 dozen cookies.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cookie Butter Toffee Bars

This recipe produced soft chewy bars that weren't overly sweet and melt in your mouth. These make your kitchen smell amazing!

1 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cookie butter (I used Trader Joe's brand)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup toffee pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cream together butter, cookie butter, and sugars. Add in egg and vanilla extract.
Gradually mix in flour mixture. Stir in toffee pieces.
Press dough into an 8x8 pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool completely in the pan before slicing.
Yields 16 servings.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Triple Chocolate Cookies

I intended to bring these into work for a mid-week treat, but they were so good that I kept most of them for myself. They are very close to Specialty's black and white cookies. Next time I try this recipe, I will make big balls of dough and refrigerate before baking so I can more closely mimic the Specialty's cookies. 

1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Cream together butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla extract and mix well. Stir in both kinds of chocolate chips.
Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Yields 2 dozen

Monday, March 11, 2013

Chloe's Corner & Newman's Own Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chloe's Corner
Last week I was visiting Phoenix, and the unanimous recommendation for lunch downtown was Chloe's Corner ( Not only did I have a great lunch here, but I also picked up a snack for later. Cookies are only $1.25 each and are filling. I tried the Triple Chocolate Chip (buttery, white chocolate, dark chocolate, and semi-sweet chocolate chips) and Toffee Chocolate Chip (chewy, gooey toffee with a few chocolate chips). What a find! It is worth a visit the next time I'm in Phoenix. 

Newman's Own Chocolate Chip Cookies
I've had many Newman's Own products (pasta sauce, salad dressing), so I was very excited to see Newman's Own Chocolate Chip cookies at my local Gelson's grocery store. Priced at $3.59 for 30 two-bite sized cookies, the price was about what I expected for such a great quality product. The cookies themselves were crispy and had large chocolate chunks. I ate 2/3 of the bag in one sitting and definitely could have kept going. If I trust myself with a whole bag, I will be getting them again. For more details, visit their website:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

About this time of year, I start hankering for spring. Now sunny Southern CA is always comfortable, but there is a feeling that comes along with spring that I relish. Even though fall is my favorite season, the transition out of winter and into spring is rejuvenating. What better way to welcome spring (and use up 1/2 of a container of ricotta cheese) than to make lemon ricotta cookies. I found this recipe of Giada DeLaurentis and made a couple of adjustments. I was short on time and did not do the glaze suggested, but it would have made for a much nicer presentation.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 stick margarine, softened 
1 cup sugar 
1 egg 
1/2 of a 15-ounce container ricotta cheese (I used part skim)
2 tablespoons lemon juice 
1 lemon, zested 

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.
Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
Yields 3 dozen cookies

Monday, March 4, 2013

Thin Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

As if you need another excuse to buy extra Girl Scout Thin Mints this year, this recipe will have you stocking your freezer with them! Sometimes the easiest recipes are the best, and this is certainly easy and produces a delicious snack in record time. I typically like my Thin Mints plain and at room temperature, but this may now be my favorite way to enjoy them.
1/2 tube of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough
18 Thin Mints, broken into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, use a large spoon to break apart the cookie dough. Stir in 3/4 of the Thin Mint pieces.
Form dough into tablespoon sized balls and drop two inches apart onto cookie sheets. Top the cookies with the remaining Thin Mint pieces.
Bake for 12-14 minutes. 
Yields 12 cookies