Thursday, January 31, 2013

Susie Cakes & Joan's on Third

Susie Cakes
I tired cupcakes from Susie Cakes ( in Costa Mesa a couple of years ago and finally just got back to try some of their other delicious treats. It was hard not to go completely crazy, so I just went a little bit crazy in trying a whoopie pie ($5.00), seven layer bar ($3.00), snickerdoodle ($2.00), and chocolate chip cookie ($2.00). The whoopie pie and seven layer bar were both fantastic. The whoopie pie was very rich and had the perfect cookie to filling ratio. It was very sweet and did give me a headache, though. The seven layer bar was dense. My only complaint was there was not enough chocolate and a little too much coconut. The snickerdoodle was soft and chewy, but the flavor was just average. The chewy chocolate cookie was filled with chocolate chips and was a bargain at $2.00 for such a giant cookie. I definitely will not be waiting another two years before my next visit!

Joan's on Third
Last weekend Mr. Sleuth and I went on a great adventure around LA. It included a surprise stop at Joan's on Third ( This little store/bakery/coffee shop/cafe/caterer has all sorts of great sandwiches, soups, and sweet treats. I tried the Sugared Molasses cookie ($1.25), the Monster Cookie ($2.50), and the bite-sized chocolate chip cookies ($8.99 for a bag of 12). I was a bit disappointed with the sugared molasses cookie (very average) and the monster cookie (not enough chocolate, more peanut butter flavor than I would have liked), but the chocolate chip cookies were amazing! The bite-sized treats had lots of chocolate and were soft and chewy. Yum! Next time each of us will get our own bag!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Coconut Oreo Brownies

When I was in college, the dining hall had these really great cookies and cream brownies. I was addicted to them! I love brownies, and I love Oreos. I have a really hard time controlling myself around both of them, so this was a double whammy. I decided to give this same recipe a try with coconut cream Oreos. Delicious! Since these were thinner than regular Oreos, the cream filling played a bigger part. I could not taste coconut in the finished product, so I recommend adding 1 teaspoon of coconut extract if you want more of that flavor. Also, I was short on time, so I made this with boxed brownie mix. If you prefer to make your brownies from scratch or want to make a smaller batch, try this brownie recipe.

1 box of fudge brownie mix (sized for a 13x9 pan)
1 package of Coconut Delight Fudge Creme Oreos (about 30 cookies)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 baking pan with cooking spray.
Prepare brownies per the instructions on the box. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan.

Layer the Oreos on top of the brownie batter. Pour the remaining brownie batter on top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.
Yields 36 bars

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wynn Cafe Cookie & Lagasse's Stadium Cookies- Las Vegas

A few weekends ago we made another trip to Las Vegas. We had a great time as always. We watched a football game at Lagasse's Stadium  at the Palazzo. Wow! What an exciting place to be. Of course, since it's an Emeril restaurant, the food was great, too. For dessert, I went with the Shake & Cookies ($7 for two chocolate chip cookies and a milkshake). The chocolate milkshake was fantastically rich and chocolatey. The cookies were good, but they were a little too crunchy and didn't have as many chocolate chips as I hoped. It probably didn't help that I was super full by that point in the day, too! Once I regained my appetite the next day, I stopped by the Drugstore Cafe at the Wynn for a chocolate chunk cookie ($2.50). (By the way, if you are in the mood for a rich treat, try their fondue for two. Delightful!). I intended to save half of the cookie for later, but it was too good to stop eating! The cookie was soft and fresh with tons of chocolate chunks. It disappeared quickly!

What should I try on my next visit to Las Vegas?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

After visiting the Hershey's Store in Chicago, I've been wanting to make my own version of the fantastic dark chocolate cookies I tried there. This was a very successful copycat, and they were surprisingly simple. I shared these goodies at work (since I could not be trusted at home with the extras!), and they were gone by lunch time. No one could resist the deep chocolate flavor and soft, chewiness of the cookie. Enjoy! 

1 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup (1 stick butter, softened)
1/2 cup sugar 
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract.
Very slowly add in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Spoon tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Yields 18 cookies

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I have been wanting to make my own alfajores (a delicious South American cookie) since my visit to Patagonia Restaurant in Florida last year. This homemade version turned out great! They were a bit messy, but that is part of the fun. The lighter cookie makes up for the sweetness of the dulce de leche filling. I will be making these again.
2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 of a 14 ounce can of dulce de leche

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the granulated and brown sugars. Beat in the egg and the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Shape the dough into a ball and roll to 1/4 inch thick. Chill until firm (about 30 minutes).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut out small circles with a cookie or biscuit cutter. Place on the prepared sheets. Re-roll and cut out the scraps. Bake until the cookies are lightly golden brown around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
Once they are completely cooled, spoon 1/2 tablespoon of dulce de leche onto half of the cookies. Use the remaining cookies to form sandwiches.
Yields 3 dozen.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Oatmeal Carmelitas

This recipe is a bit more time consuming than what I normally like to do. Waiting two hours to eat something after it comes out of the oven is torture! These treats are worth the wait. Chewy, sweet, and chocolatey... What could be better! I used the rest of the dulce de leche in alfajores, which I will share with you later this week.
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/2 of a 14 ounce can of dulce de leche
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and margarine until crumbly.
Press half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 8 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and pour dulce de leche over the crust. Top with chocolate chips. Put the rest of the crumb mixture on top.
Return the pan to the oven and bake 15-18 minutes.
Cool in the pan for one hour. Then refrigerate for one hour. Slice into bars and enjoy at room temperature.
Yields 16 bars.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Miette and Scharffen Berger- San Francisco

Just before Christmas, we made a long weekend trip up to San Francisco. I've been to San Francisco a couple of times, and this was by far my best visit. We visited the Walt Disney Family Museum and took a great tour of the area. And there was plenty of time for eating and relaxing!

Here are two new finds from the Ferry Building:

Scharffen Berger- Here I tried an ultra thin and crispy chocolate chip cookie ($2.95 for a large, shareable cookie). The cookie had some chew like there were oats in it. The best part of the cookie definitely was the chocolate, and the rest of the cookie was just OK.

Miette- I tried their bite sized chocolate chip cookies ($4.50 for one dozen) and freshly made graham crackers ($6.50 for one dozen). The chocolate chip cookies were very crispy and obviously made with good quality, rich chocolate. The base of the cookie was just average, and due to their price tag, I would not get them again. On the other hand, the graham crackers are a must. YUM! They have a rich graham flavor and are not as crumbly as store bought graham crackers. I rationed one per day for 12 days since they were so good! Online ordering and shipping is available.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Breakfast Cookies

Here's another lighter recipe to start off the year. These are great for breakfast or an afternoon snack. I had some extra candied pecans from the holidays that I chopped and added in as well. Delish!
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg white
1/4 cup (1 small jar) strained carrot baby food
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnut pieces or almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter, oil, and sugar. Add in egg white and carrott baby food. Gradually add in the flour mixture. Stir in oats, cranberries, and nuts.
Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets.
Bake for 12 minutes until slightly golden.
Yields 2 dozen.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Banana Bars

Banana Bars
Happy 2013 everyone! Do you have any resolutions to start the year? Last year my goal was to email my brothers more frequently and make more charitable contributions. This year I want to keep my eating under control. I'm not going to deprive myself of anything, but I just want to do a better job with portions. Easier said than done!

To start out the year, I have a simple, light banana bar recipe to show you. These are almost bread-like. For a little more zing, I suggest topping with a cream cheese frosting or chocolate drizzle. I kept mine plan and had them for a morning snack.
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup mashed very ripe banana (1 medium)
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
Mix together sugar, banana, egg whites and vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour mixture.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely before slicing.

Yields 16 bars