Cheese, Herb, Garlic Quick Bread

“Two small garlic cloves.” That’s just so cute. “Two” and “small,” ha, adorable! Uh, yeah, when it comes to garlic that’s not how I roll. If you don’t like garlic, you will never like my cooking. My view of garlic is the more, the merrier (kinda like bacon and chocolate).

I think I may have made this bread before and blogged about it too. Oops! Figured that out about three to four steps into making it this morning. Oh well, we love good food and don’t mind a repeat. But if I did make it before, this one turned about better.

Just a couple of notes having now made this twice:

I used dried herbs rather than fresh. Easier and cheaper. Just be sure to use two tbsp dried herbs and not four. Dried herbs are stronger than fresh.

I used a block of sharp cheddar, and would highly recommend this. The sharp cheddar can stand up to the strong flavors of both the herbs and the garlic. However, I would slice this cheese as directed but I would additionally cut the slices into small pieces. I’d pour half the batter into the bread tin, push half the cheese pieces throughout the dough, pour in the rest of the dough, then finish by adding the remaining cheese. I loved the slices of cheese in the bread, but they were almost too thick. Small cubes/pieces would be delightfully surprising as you slice it.

I used about 6-7 garlic cloves. I also minced them. So if you look closely enough at my photograph, you’ll see the chunks of garlic.

I whisked the oil/herb mixture into the wet ingredients by accident. Once again I did not read the recipe carefully (shocker), but I actually like how it turned out.

Regardless of differing strategies, this is a delicious bread. I would heat it up and serve it straight with or without butter. Enjoy!

No Yeast Cheese, Herb, & Garlic Quick Bread (recipe care of recipetineats.com)

INGREDIENTS:  4 tbsp fresh herbs (finely chopped, I used a mix of dill, rosemary, parsley and thyme), 2 tbsp olive oil, 5 oz / 150g block cheese (cut into 2mm / 0.1″ thick slices, about 10 to 12 slices), butter for greasing, 2 1/4 cups plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, 2 eggs, 2 small garlic cloves (crushed)

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Grease a bread tin (21 x 11 cm / 8″ x 4″) or small cake tin with butter. Mix the herbs and olive oil in a small bowl. Sift the Dry Ingredients into a bowl. Combine the Wet Ingredients into a bowl and whisk to combine. Make a well in the centre of the Dry Ingredients. Pour the Wet Ingredients in and mix until just combined. Pour 1/3 of the batter into the bread tin. Dollop half the herbs across the top then use a knife to “swirl” it into the batter up and down, and also turning the batter over (refer photo below). Use half the cheese slices and push them randomly into the batter. Push some all the way in and leave some poking out of the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the top. Dollop and swirl the remaining herbs, then randomly wedge in the remaining cheese, pushing most of it below the surface of the batter. Even out the surface. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden. Remove from oven and cover with foil, then bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes (total baking time of 45 to 50 minutes). Check to make sure the centre is cooked by inserting a skewer – it should come out clean. Turn the bread out onto a cooking rack. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

RECIPE NOTES:

1. You can substitute the fresh herbs with 2 tbsp dried herbs.

2. You can substitute with pre sliced cheese but I found it did not work as well because they are slightly thinner so they sort of disappear when baked. Cutting it yourself means you can cut them slightly thicker so you will end up with some ribbons of melted cheese in the bread.You can also substitute with grated cheese. If you do this, mix it straight into the batter just before pouring it in the tin.Tasty cheese is a common type of cheese here in Australia. A great all rounder and very good value. You can use any type of melting cheese with flavour / salt that you wish. Colby, Monterey Jack, cheddar, gruyere are all great! I don’t recommend Mozzarella – it does not have enough salt or flavour for this particular recipe.

3. You can substitute this with 1 cup + 3 tbsp milk at room temperature +
1 tbsp vinegar. Set aside for 10 minutes until the surface of the milk curdles. Then use the milk, including the curdled bits, as the buttermilk in this recipe.

4. Store in an airtight container for 3 days (4+ days, keep it in the fridge and toast to freshen up).

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Okay, today’s photograph does not do justice to how pretty these muffins are. And for that matter, you also can’t see how moist and crazy delicious they are. You’re just gonna have to trust me on this one. (I had to tell my little brother multiple times that he could only have one. He was not happy with my intent to send them to work with Paul.)

These muffins are as simple to make as possible. Even all those people who say they can’t bake (which I think they can, they just need a bit of encouragement and fun music to dance around to while baking) will turn these out like pros. They literally took me about 15 minutes to prep and 19 minutes to bake.

I loved that they were not too sugary. They have a very mild banana taste with a delightful, chocolatey surprise with each bite.

You will look like a rockstar if you serve these for breakfast or brunch, share them with your family and/or friends, or bring them to work. The recipients of your generosity might hug you so be prepared.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (recipe care of spendwithpennies.com)

INGREDIENTS: 1 ½ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda,  ½ teaspoon salt, ¾ cup sugar, 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium), 1 large egg (room temperature), ½ cup vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, ¼ cup milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Stir in chocolate chips. Combine sugar, bananas, egg, oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Pour into prepared muffin tin and bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake. Cool 5 minutes in the pan before removing and cooling on a baking rack.

Recipe Notes

For mini muffins, bake 14 to 16 minutes

For regular-sized muffins, bake 18 to 20 minutes

For Texas (jumbo) sized muffins, bake 20 to 22 minutes

Chocolate Blueberry Cookies

As in typical fashion, I was gettin’ my groove on in the kitchen this morning. Today’s Pandora station of choice: “Yacht Rock.” If you’ve not stumbled up this, without question, you need to add this to your repertoire. I say that assuming most of my readers were born in the 70’s, having come to their true understanding of music in the 80’s.

One of my friends recently wanted me to bake chocolate blueberry muffins, but as a twist of fate I stumbled upon this fabulous recipe. I say that without explaining my failure (yet).

So teachers are notorious for not reading directions (I know, ironic considering we ask our students if they’ve read the directions before saying they don’t understand what to do). I am no exception. I NEVER pre-read recipes, and when I do actually read them while cooking/baking, I don’t read them carefully. Stupid kitchen arrogance!

While singing and dancing along to the Doobie Brothers, I skipped reading the part about refrigerating the dough. In the author’s blog, she said to chill if for an hour. This may have been my problem.

These cookies are delicious!!! And easy. When you bite into it, the blueberries burst and mix into the rich, chocolatey flavor. Wow! (That’s sincerely my best description, “Wow!”)

The only problem I had was that the cookies, once removed from the oven, fell apart easily (like crumbled the second you picked one up, “fell apart”). It was either the lack of chilling the dough or the fact that I added a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (because, well why not?). Well, maybe there wasn’t enough dough to hold both the blueberries and chips together. Oops, my bad.

When I give these a go the next time (and there will be a next time), I’ll double the dough and keep the same amount of blueberries and chocolate chips. Because we all know I’m not omitting the uncalled for chocolate chips. Because, why not have extra chocolate in a blueberry chocolate cookie?

Blueberry Chocolate Cookies (recipe care of cupcakes for dinner)

INGREDEINTS: 10 tbsp butter (softened), 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed), 1 large egg, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 cup flour, just under 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 cups blueberries

DIRECTIONS: Mix the butter and the two sugars together until smooth. Then add the egg and vanilla and stir to combine. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Then add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Fold in the blueberries, try not to burst any but it’s totally fine if you do. Place the dough in the fridge to chill. Preheat the oven to 350F and scoop heaping tbsps of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, at least and inch apart.Bake for 10-12 minutes until they seem just slightly underbaked. Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

Yep, that didn’t work.

This recipe is kinda a pain in the arse.

I have to say I really like the website from which I pulled this recipe. I’ve been on a kick trying lots of her recipes. They’re pretty solid and I’ve had success with them.

Not so much with this one.

I followed this recipe to a tee, even the part when I had to refrigerate it for two hours (which I wanted to cheat on by putting it in the freezer but Paul convinced me to follow directions, damn rule follower). But even so, this did not work.

When I rolled it into a log, the chocolate chips squished out everywhere. When I cut it with a super sharp knife, every single dough cookie crumbled and I had to mash the pieces together. When I ate the perfectly baked cookie, it was dry and crumbly.

So yeah, not a success today. But maybe y’all will have better luck. May the baking gods be with you!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies (recipe care of theviewfromgreatisland.com)

INGREDIENTS: 1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature ~ important!), 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I like Jiff), 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, scant 1/2 tsp sea salt, 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS: Cream the butter and the peanut butter together in a stand mixer, with a hand mixer, or a wooden spoon. Make sure to get the butter and peanut butter completely combined and creamy. Beat in the vanilla. Whisk the sugar, flour, and salt together and add to the butter mixture. Mix until the dough comes together and is no longer crumbly. Stir in the chips, and turn the dough out onto a piece of waxed paper. Gently pull the dough together and form it into a log. If it is still crumbly, work it with your hands until it holds together smoothly. Roll it up in the paper, smoothing the shape as you go. Twist the ends securely and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours. The log will be roughly 7 1/2–8 inches long. While the dough is chilling, pre-heat the oven to 350F Slice the log into slices with a sharp knife. Not too thick, not too thin, about 1/2 inch. If a slice crumbles a bit, just smoosh the dough back together. These don’t have to be perfect disks. Bake on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet at 350F for about 12-14 minutes, depending on how thick your cookies are. The cookies will not be browned, and they may look undone, but don’t over bake. One of the joys of shortbread cookies is that they fall apart and melt in your mouth.Let the cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack.

Dublin Coddle

I’m gonna shed some serious Irish pride here, so don’t mind me.

I’ve got Irish, English, and Welsh in my blood and bones, but I tapped into my Irish roots early on (thanks to my Irish mom). She and I used to dance in the hallway to her favorite Irish music records when I was a little girl. When I got married my mom, my very Irish sister-in-law, and I all took over the dance floor, dancing a reel as I was in my wedding dress and barefoot laughing the whole time. Needless to say, I’ve got the Emerald Isle in my veins.

I took my Irish heritage to heart, so I found a way to travel abroad for a semester in college. I landed in Cork City, Ireland and loved every moment. I made fabulous friends, failed at learning to speak Irish, rode some horses, drank some Guinness and Murphys, and ate LOTS of brown bread with whipped butter. After that, I returned with my little brother, then again with my best friend. Every time I returned to Ireland it felt like returning home.

I’ve never made an Irish dish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. In truth, I can’t stand corned beef and cabbage. Absolutely grosses me out. But I found this recipe and it sounded intriguing. Not only because it had “bangers” in the recipe which my little bro used to order every time we went to a local Irish bar, but also because I had some very fun times in Dublin including playing in a volleyball tournament at UCD (University College Dublin). I had to give this a try.

In a very feeble attempt to make this healthier, I used chicken sausage and only half the amount (that was purely by accident as I didn’t read the recipe when I made my grocery list).

Definitely a meaty meal, but enjoy! Sláinte! (“Cheers” in Irish)

Dublin Coddle (recipe care of theviewfromgreatisland.com)

INGREDIENTS: 8 slices thick cut bacon (rough chopped), 8 large fresh pork sausages (or whatever sausage you can get), 1/2 yellow onion (diced), 3 leeks (trimmed, sliced, and washed), 4 carrots, peeled and sliced, 1/2 cup barley (uncooked), 1 cup chicken stock, 1 cup beer, 3 bay leaves, salt and black pepper, 4 large yukon gold potatoes, 2 Tbsp butter (melted), parsley (chopped)

DIRECTIONS: Peel the potatoes and place in a bowl filled with cold water. In a large braising pan or Dutch oven, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon to a plate, leaving a layer of grease in the pan. Brown the sausages on both sides, and remove the to the plate. Add the onions, carrots, and leeks to the pot in an even layer. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange the sausage and bacon over the veggies, along with the barley and bay leaves. Pour the beer and broth over all. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Thinly slice the potatoes and arrange in overlapping fashion over the top of the pan. Bring the pan up to a boil, then turn down to low, cover, and let simmer gently (coddle it!) for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 425F. Uncover the pan, brush the potatoes with melted butter, and then put in the oven (uncovered) for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and tender. Check the potatoes with the tip of a sharp knife to be sure they’re tender. Note: If you like you can place the pot under the broiler briefly to get more color on the crust, but watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. Sprinkle with parsley and serve asap with biscuits and beer!

Notes: To prep the coddle ahead of time: You can layer up the casserole in the morning, without the sliced potato topping. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to cook, slice and arrange the potatoes.

Savory Herb Shortbread

Well, that didn’t work. But as my mom always says, “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.”

Before I get into my debacle of a baking experiment I created this morning, these shortbread cookies are amazing! As they were cooking I said to Paul, “I seriously hope these taste as good as they smell.”

We’re hosting a backyard happy hour today for a friend who just got promoted to sergeant at the Santa Barbara Police Department. She’s crazy awesome… she’s only 31 and got the job. Yeah, she’s not a slacker.

Anyway, for my cheeseboard I thought it would be fun to add a homemade touch. Yes, I don’t make my own hummus, spreads, etc. Call me lazy, because I’m totally okay with that. In searching for recipes I stumbled upon this wonderful blog that was really well written and had recipes that looked solid.

I chose the savory shortbread. Most people love buttery shortbread but aren’t use to the savory version. They tend to be a bit skeptical, if not hesitant. But their faces light up when they realize that savory shortbread is fabulous in every way.

Now for the debacle… This recipe looked and was very easy to follow. I even enjoyed mincing the rosemary and delicately placing each rosemary leaf on top of each cookie. My issue was following directions. (Shocker!)

When I pulsed the ingredients in the food processor, the dough “didn’t come together.” I added the 1/2 teaspoon of water and pulsed again. It didn’t make any difference. I thought, “Well maybe this is just what the dough is like and it’ll harden up in the fridge.” Uh, yeah no.

I wrapped up the powdery dough and placed it in the fridge. About an hour later, I took it out and it was still powdery. I was about to throw it out and call it a day, but I second guessed myself. I poured it back into the food processor and added 2 tablespoons of water. Worked like a charm!

I’m stoked I didn’t give up. These are delicious! Definitely give these a go!

Savory Herb Shortbread (recipe care of theviewfromgreatisland.com)

INGREDIENTS: 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, 2 Tbsp finely minced rosemary leaves plus extra whole leaves for the tops of the crackers (If you like you can mince the rosemary right in the food processor first.), 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper, 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (at room temperature), extra whole leaf herbs for laminating onto the dough

DIRECTIONS: Put the flour, cheese, rosemary, salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Add the chunks of soft butter and pulse about 30 times to combine into a crumbly mixture. The process until the dough comes together, this should not take longer than 30 seconds to a minute. If the dough does not come together, add a tiny bit of water to the bowl, start with 1/2 tsp, and process again. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and bring together into a smooth flat disk, just like you do with pie crust dough. The dough should be smooth and uniform, without dry floury parts. Knead it with your hands if necessary. Wrap the disk in the plastic and refrigerate for an hour. Preheat the oven to 350F. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 to 1/8 thickness. I do this between two sheets of waxed paper and it works like a charm, no sticking. If you want to laminate herbs onto the surface of the dough, lay them out onto the dough, leaving space between. Put the waxed paper back over the top and lightly roll with your rolling pin to press the herbs right into the dough. Use a 2 inch round cookie cutter to cut out your circles. Remove the dough to a baking sheet. Reform the leftover dough, roll and repeat until all the dough is used. Bake the shortbread for 10-15 minutes, until they are just starting to turn pale golden around the edges. Cool for a few minutes on the pan, then remove to a rack. The shortbread will firm up as it cools.

NOTES:

Make it ahead ~ you can make the crackers up to a couple of days ahead of time, or freeze the dough.

Make it easy ~ if you don’t care about the herbs laminated on top of the crackers you can roll the dough into a log and slice and bake.

Make it pretty ~  use edible flowers in place of the herbs ~ try spicy marigold petals.

Make it with different herbs ~  I think thyme or sage would be fabulous

Make it with different cheese ~ other hard aged Italian cheeses like Asiago, Romano, or Grana Padano would work too.

Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies

Huh. Interesting. My reaction to the dough after adding in the ricotta.

Huh. Interesting. My reaction to the very sticky dough while dropping it onto the cookie sheet.

Huh. Yummy! My reaction after tasting one of the soft pillows of loveliness.

I happened to have a good amount of ricotta left over after making a pesto, tomato, red onion pizza. So I looked up what recipes might be out there for ricotta other than the usual lemon/ricotta ones.

This recipe grabbed my attention because it was specifically made for left over ricotta. It was also written in such an approachable way, anyone could succeed in baking these delightful cookies. I also loved that the author was extremely flexible in the ingredients. Kinda like, go with what you’ve got mentality. Right up my alley.

This is gonna sound weird but if a cookie could be creamy, this would be it. When I pulled them from the oven, they still looked raw even though they were fully cooked. They were incredibly moist. I’ve never quite had a cookie like this before. And the fact that they were easy as pie (pardon the pun), this is a go to recipe.

Bake them for a lunch, dinner, brunch, back to school event, afternoon snack, high tea, whatever. Enjoy thoroughly!

Notes: I could only find regular sized chocolate chips and didn’t bother chopping them up (laziest baker ever). I also added the zest of one lemon. I was a little hesitant about the lemon zest, but I’m so stoked I added it. It brought a light, freshness to the cookie.

Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe care of thespruceeats.com)

INGREDIENTS: 2 cups/9 ounces flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup/4 ounces unsalted butter (softened), 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed), 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 cup ricotta cheese (whole milk or part skim milk), 1 1/2 to 2 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS: Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Measure the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt into a bowl or sheet of wax paper. Set this mixture aside. In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth and well blended. Beat in the ricotta cheese, then gradually add the flour mixture, beating on low speed until blended. Fold in the mini chocolate chips. With a small cookie scoop or teaspoon, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until set and lightly browned on the bottoms.

Blueberry Scones

Holy heck! These are damn good!

Earlier in the week I asked Paul what he’d like me to bake this Sunday. Ya never really know what kind of answer he’ll give, so it’s an adventure every time I ask. He promptly said, “blueberry scones.”

Now the chances that Paul actually knows what a scone is are slim to none. I’m quite certain that he thinks scones, muffins, and biscuits are all the same thing. But none the less, I started looking for recipes.

This one promises the “better than a bakery” scone. That’s either an arrogant baker or a kick-arse one. It’s definitely the latter. This is a a fabulous recipe that will guide you into baking moist, buttery scones.

Now I’m not gonna lie to you, I may have (or definitely) got heavy handed with the icing. I accidentally made the icing much too thick, but by the time I drizzled the sugary loveliness on the first scone I got lazy and didn’t want to fix it. I’m not proud. So I just kept drizzling away. Enjoy!

Note: When I make the icing, I use vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract. I feel like vanilla extract has a harsh taste if it’s not cooked. Vanilla paste on the other hand, is a lot more gentle. Plus, it looks super fancy because you can see specs of the vanilla bean in the icing.

Blueberry Scones (recipe care of sallysbakingaddiciton.com)

INGREDIENTS: 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour spoon & leveled (plus more for hands and work surface), 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar, 2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter (frozen), 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream (plus 2 Tbsp for brushing), 1 large egg, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract,1 heaping cup (180g) fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

Topping: coarse sugar and vanilla icing

DIRECTIONS: Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a large bowl. Grate the frozen butter using a box grater. Add it to the flour mixture and combine with a pastry cutter, two forks, or your fingers until the mixture comes together in pea-sized crumbs. See video above for a closer look at the texture. Place in the refrigerator or freezer as you mix the wet ingredients together. Whisk 1/2 cup heavy cream, the egg, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the flour mixture, add the blueberries, then mix together until everything appears moistened. Pour onto the counter and, with floured hands, work dough into a ball as best you can. Dough will be sticky. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour. If it seems too dry, add 1-2 more Tablespoons heavy cream. Press into an 8-inch disc and, with a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut into 8 wedges. Brush scones with remaining heavy cream and for extra crunch, sprinkle with coarse sugar. (You can do this before or after refrigerating in the next step.) Place scones on a plate or lined baking sheet (if your fridge has space!) and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. After refrigerating, arrange scones 2-3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet(s). Bake for 22-25 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes before topping with vanilla icing. Leftover iced or un-iced scones keep well at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Classic Peanut Butter Blossoms

A new friend of mine found out that I love to bake and that I write this weekly blog (unless I get lazy and take a week or two off). Her eyes lit up with admiration and awe as she said, “That’s so cool! Do you know how to make peanut butter blossoms?” Did I mention that she’s more than 20 years my junior? So the fact that she thought my Sunday baking habit/mad scientist experiments were cool was adorable.

Now peanut butter blossoms are just about the easiest thing to bake. Seriously, pretty much the easiest thing. And when I drop off the cookies for her, she will be floored thinking I slaved away just for her when in fact these take very little effort (insert evil laugh here).

When looking up recipes, I happened to click on the Sally’s Baking Addiction site. In reading her recipe, it was obviously a solid one, had excellent tips, and I really just enjoyed reading her writing. I’m for sure gonna check out more of her stuff.

These are a fun treat that will make any crowd happy and you’ll look like a rockstar because everyone will be incredibly impressed. Enjoy!

Classic Peanut Butter Blossoms (recipe care of sallysbakingaddiction.com)

INGREDIENTS: 1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened to room temperature, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 large egg (at room temperature), 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 24 chocolate kiss candies (unwrapped), 1/2 cup granulated sugar or 1/4 cup green sanding sugar and 1/4 cup red sanding sugar (for coating)

DIRECTIONS: Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on high speed until creamy. On medium-high speed, beat in 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and the 1/2 cup of brown sugar until completely creamed and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat on high until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the peanut butter and vanilla extract and mix on high until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Cover and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator (and up to 1 day). If chilling for longer than a few hours, though, allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling and baking because the dough will be quite hard and the cookies may not spread much. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Always recommended for cookies.) Set aside. Also, make sure there’s room in your freezer because the cookies will need to be placed inside to prevent the chocolates from melting. Roll & Coat the Dough: Scoop and roll cookie dough, about 1 Tablespoon of dough each. Roll each ball in the 1/2 cup of sugar (or sanding sugar) and arrange on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until the tops begin to slightly crack. Remove cookies from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Press a chocolate kiss candy into each cookie on 1 of the baking sheets until it sticks. Place the baking sheet in the freezer so the chocolate does not melt. Remove after 10 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with 2nd baking sheet of cookies.

NOTES:

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Allow to come to room temperature then continue with step 4. Baked cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well for up to 3 months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw. Click here for my tips and tricks on freezing cookie dough.
  2. Granulated Sugar: You’ll only need 1/4 cup of granulated sugar for the cookie dough and the other 1/2 cup will be for coating in step 5. Or you can use sanding sugar to coat the cookies instead, noted as optional in the ingredient list. If using sanding sugar, you do not need the extra 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.
  3. Recipe excerpted from Sally’s Candy Addiction cookbook.

Mexican Brownies

A few weeks ago our younger nephew called out a fabulous bakers’ question… “Have you ever tasted unsweetened cocoa? It sucks!” He said it with such passion, and the facial expression was hilarious!

Well Little Man, you’re absolutely right. Unsweetened cocoa does suck! That bitter, dry, powdery essential ingredient is nasty. But that bitter, dry, powdery essential ingredients will unfold in the layers of this dessert.

I’m quite certain I’ve shared this recipe before but regardless, this is a kick-are reason for a repeat…

Note: Be sure you cool the melted chocolate mixture before adding in the eggs. If it’s too hot, the eggs will scramble the second you drop them in, and nobody wants scrambled eggs in their brownies.

Mexican Brownies (recipe care of I have no idea ( tore the recipe from some sort of magazine…)

INGREDIENTS: 1 cup all-pupose flour, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon each table salt and baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 8 ounces semisweet bar chocolate (chopped), 1 stick unsalted butter (cubed), 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 Tbsp instant espresso powder, 3 eggs (beaten), 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS: Preheat: oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with non-stick spray. Whisk: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 unsweetened cocoa powder, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon each table salt and baking powder, 1/4 cayenne pepper. Melt: 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped, 1 stick unsalted butter (cubed), 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder in a saucepan over low heat. Off the heat, stir in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake brownies until a toothpick inserted into center comers out with a few moist crumbs, 25 minutes.