I am so glad my friend, Gordon, turned a year older in January. Why? Well, because I’ve never known anyone who likes chocolate more than he does and it gave me an excuse to try yet another chocolate recipe. On his 60th birthday (a few years ago) I gave him a chocolate party and I’m sure he had a hard time sleeping after trying all the chocolate delights we had that night.
Roaming around the chocolate section of HEB the other day I came across a bag of Kraft Caramel Bits. I had to buy them even though I didn’t know what plans I had for them. I always have chocolate chips and never without plenty of sugars, flours, butter and anything it would take to throw a dessert together so I thought why not take a chocolate cookie recipe and add nuts, caramel and chocolate chips and turn it into a turtle cookie.
I love anything lemon, and this tea cookie is the best!
Years ago I made a cookie called High Tea Lemon Cookie. They were good but could have been a little more lemony and a little less crumbly or at least not fall apart before getting in your mouth. That recipe was made with 1 1/2 cups of cornstarch and to me not quite sweet enough.
My sister and I first put the High Tea Lemon Cookie in one of our cookbooks we did together (self-published so no longer around) 30 years ago. I’ve made that recipe numerous times and finally decided to try and rework the ingredients for a sweeter little firmer cookie.
Have you ever wanted a recipe so bad you’d do almost anything to get it. Well, I was watching an episode of Top Chef on Bravo and one of the challenges was a Kentucky Derby party and one of the contestants, Kelsey Barnard Clark, made her Puppy Chow Key Lime Crunch.
So, before the show was even over I was in bed trolling the internet fo find the recipe. I guess everyone else who watched that show was doing the same thing. Finally KBC put a recipe (kind of) on her facebook pages with ingredients but she was using 5 pounds of white chocolate and I knew I was going to have to scale down and I changed a few of the ingredients. Then I came across on on Ritzymom.com and made my own adjustments to her recipe.
Crunchy, coconuty, delicious, what more can I say.
I don’t talk about failures very often because I don’t have a lot of them. When I do make a mistake, I never make it again. Let me tell you what recently happened.
When we went to Austin back in February for our grandson, Frankie’s, first birthday celebration I took along some beautiful little caterpillar sugar cookies all decorated with green royal frosting, yellow polka dots along with eyes and even little mustaches. Four of our six grandsons were at the party and they loved the cookies (not sure if Frankie got to eat one or not) and I promised Milo and Donovan that when we picked them up the next weekend to see a local production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame that I would have some some more cookies made — Fish and Dolphins.
I love David Lebovitz blog Living The Sweet Life In Paris. We were in Paris and southern France back in 2012. Paris was kind of a blur with two bad knees that didn’t know then that in 3 months they would be replaced. So many restaurants, good food, stops in the afternoon for frites and wine or macarons that it’s hard to remember that trip unless I go back and read my journal about all the great food we had and all the interesting things we saw.
Through David’s blog I can see Paris through his eyes. He has authored seven cookbooks and his blog is full of information about cooking classes, vacationing in Paris and much much more. I’m always excited to get an email with his newest post to his blog.
So, when this Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie popped up one day I knew exactly who I was going to make it for. We have a friend, Gordon, who is a chocolateholic and these are his favorite cookies that he usually buys at Randall’s grocery and then hides them from his wife so he can have them all to himself. I do not blame him on these cookies, they are that good you will be hiding them too.
Don’t you just love Valentine’s Day. For some it is a good excuse to go out to dinner or to give someone special a gift, some red roses, or box of candy. For me it is a challenge to cook a new recipe and come up with a very nice dessert.
Back in the day when schools allowed parties for all occasions plus birthday parties, there were room moms just waiting to sign up to bring homemade treats. Valentine’s Day was my favorite holiday when I was a kid and when I volunteered as a room mom for my kids.
In our younger years we (seem to always refer to myself as “we” since I have a twin sister) made valentine boxes to put our valentines in that we would be getting from fellow classmates. I particularly remember one year my mother helping me make ruffles of pink and red crepe paper to glue to my shoe box with a hole cut in the top. I’m sure for the party we had red punch, lots of candy and there were always cupcakes and more than likely we were all wired from all the sugar before we got home; but guess what, we survived.
Cats, ghost, witches, colored leaves, pumpkins, turkeys, falling leaves, the smell in the air are signs of fall and the holidays to come. I just love fall because I know those hot days of summer are behind us and we will start having a little chill in the air in the evenings. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I think that’s because it’s the easiest meal I ever put together.
Thanksgiving is all about pumpkins and I’m not even a pumpkin pie fan. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin bread pudding, pumpkin tomato soup and these pumpkin cookies should be on your list of things to try for the holidays. I even bought a pumpkin piñata which I’m filling with candy and toys for the four little grandsons to bang away at.
One of the good things about these cookies is you can make these ahead and freeze them and bake them when you want a hot treat to go with your cup of tea (or coffee) in the morning or for an afternoon snack. They are fantastic and make my mouth water thinking about the ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon that spice up these little cookies and the dough has molasses in it which gives the cookies a deep brown color. I normally use a 3″ cookie cutter but the day I made these I knew I was going to be taking them to craft circle to share so I wanted to get as many out of a recipe as I could. I ended up tripling the recipe and each recipe makes about 24 cookies.
Babe was my sister’s mother-in-law and this wonderful recipe was one she use to make. I have several recipes of hers and her mother-in-law’s that I still go to like their banana nut bread and an asparagus casserole.
But, for the holidays, these are especially nice and so easy to make, and, for some reason, I keep hearing Marilyn Monroe singing “Santa Baby” —
“Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, for me
I’ve been an awful good girl
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight”
(I have some Santa Kisses for you!)
Find a you tube version of this song — you’ll love it!
I remember when I was a kid my grandmother would buy these certain peppermint sticks that my grandfather liked. I think the brand was Bob’s and they were twisted sticks and they were so much fun to twirl in your mouth until you had a really sharp point on the end of the stick. My grandmother always seemed to like the peppermint balls that kind of melted in your mouth. And, my little brother use to love peppermint canes and sometimes at Christmas we would try and buy the biggest stick we could find and I’m sure it took months for him to eat the whole thing.
I made this recipe for two parties I catered this season and will be making them for my family as well.
The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.
Today I was sitting in a dentist chair waiting to have my teeth cleaned. Now, there isn’t a thing in the world I wouldn’t rather be doing at this moment. My least favorite thing to do in life is having my teeth cleaned. Don’t ask me why. I think, mostly, it is the polishing and that little grinder and that gritty stuff they put on your teeth. Years ago when my kids were in the dentist chair, I said to the dentist, “do you use the gritty stuff on them”, the dentist says, “oh, we don’t say gritty to the kids, we say CRUNCHY”.
Well, trying to take my mind off this “crunchy” treatment, I start thinking about the blog and what I could make. Crunchy keeps coming to mind and I know I’m making these Nanaimo (Nah-nye-Moh) bars for the challenge and I want to try and make homemade graham crackers for part of the recipe. So as I sit here, I imagine rolling out the dough, pricking holes in the individual cookies, baking and then pulverising them to make graham cracker crumbs. Ahh, that seems to do the trick because I can almost smell the cookies baking in the oven and before you know it, I’m out of this chair.
I have never heard of this dessert before. The recipe is a classic Canadian dessert recipe that originated in Nanaimo, British Columbia and since the winter olympics are going to be in Vancouver it seems a fitting dessert to try. After making it, I need to find someone to give them to to get them out of the house. This is a no-bake recipe so if you aren’t up to making the graham crackers from scratch, just buy some graham cracker crumbs from your grocery.
The graham crackers were actually fun to make. I think these homemade crackers would make great smores.
For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, peanut butter, pudding powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in color. Add the Nutella and swirl a bit with a knife. Do not over mix. Spread over bottom layer.
For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and sprinkle with additional chopped walnuts. Chill until firm. If you have a hard time cutting these, try dipping a knife into very hot water and then cutting. The knife will slide right through the bars.
I think graham crackers are the most misunderstood cookie ever eaten.
This is such a simple little cracker/cookie that never has gotten enough attention. Kind of like Cinderalla. Add some buttons and bows and dress her up and she becomes a beautiful young lady. Well, you can do so many things with this plain little graham cracker. Over the years I have made so many different desserts using graham cracker crumbs. Everything from pies, tortes, smores, pineapple puff balls, and was probably one of the first cookie/crackers I let my kids eat when they were toddlers.
These graham crackers were part of a recipe for Nanaimo Dessert Bars and this recipe was adapted from Nancy Silverton’s La Brea Bakery book.
I first saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s website and thought they would be fun to make and then when this Nanaimo Challenge came up from The Daring Kitchen, I decided it would be a good time to try the homemade graham crackers.
The graham cracker was developed back in 1829 by a Presbyterian minister Rev. Sylvester Graham as part of the Graham diet. Even though it is called a cracker it is more like a digestive biscuit (according to Wikipedia).
This is what the dough looks like when it is ready to go into the refrigerator to chill.
All rolled out. I used a fork to prick the tops.
Finished cookie. Next time I will put the cinnamon topping on them even though a traditional cracker does not have cinnamon in it.
Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off or mix on low until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and dust it lightly with flour, then turn the dough out onto it and pat it into a rectangle about 1" thick. Wrap it, then chill it until firm, about 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, prepare the topping, if using, by combining the sugar and cinnamon a small bowl and setting aside.
Roll out the crackers: Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8" thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4" wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip ever 4 1/2" to make 4 crackers. I made mine about 1 1/2 - 2" and used a fluted cutter for the edges.
Place the crackers on one or two baking sheets lined with parchment or Silpat. Sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes in the refrigerator or 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Repeat with the second batch of dough. Gather scraps together into a ball, chill until firm and re-roll.
Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To decorate the cracker: Mark a vertical line down the middle (I didn't do) of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick, skewer or fork, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2" for each side of the dividing line.
Bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.
This is my first attempt at making French Style Macarons — will I make them again?
I call these M&M Macarons for two reasons. First they are decorated with these beautiful pink and purple M&M’s and the second is they are marvelousssss…
I have started participating in The Daring Kitchen baking challenges. I think this will be a lot of fun and will push me to try things I’ve never baked before. Once a month someone sponsors a challenge. Everyone is given the same recipe and you have a month to make it and post it to your blog. After catering for 20 years and being married for 40 years I can’t believe I have never made French Style Macarons so this is going to be an attempt to go out of my comfort zone. Whether it fails or succeeds, the results are posted here.
I was in NYC in September on our anniversary trip with some friends who were also celebrating their 25th anniversary. Our last night’s dinner was at Gramercy Tavern and one of the amuse bouche desserts (we had 4) we were served were tiny little raspberry French Macarons. They were fabulous. So, I guess after this challenge I will know if am a failure or not at making Macarons.
Three days before I’m suppose to be making these, I have my egg whites sitting at room temperature. From everything I have read on macaron tips aging of the whites is really suppose to make a difference in the finished product.
Here I’m sitting at the computer, knots in my stomach trying to get up enough nerve to start these cookies. Oh, how I want them to turn out the first time. I don’t deal very well with failures. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. (I ended up making four batches.)
I put it off a little longer, decided to go work out and get rid of some of the anxiety that is building in this challenge. And, I thought I was fearless 🙂
Now that we’ve broken the 67 consecutive days of 100 degree temperatures , it almost feels like fall here in Austin. So gearing up for fall, I thought it might be time for me to attempt my first blog post with possibly the best two (fall-ish) flavor combinations…coffee and ginger.
Both of these recipes are great as stand alone recipes, but my idea was to make the ultimate ice cream sandwich. Smooth, creamy coffee ice cream sandwiched between two soft and chewy gingersnap cookies. If this isn’t a flavor combination you have tried before, you definitely need to experience it!