With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fudge Mint Double Cookies

If teaching has taught me one, it is that our differences most definitely make us stronger.

To suspect that age is the only marker of a human's intelligence is the perfect way to stop some of the best ideas imaginable to come into light.

Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don't.
- Bill Nye

Around holiday times, however, these differences tend to sometimes be a sore subject, left with words unspoken so as to not offend and a lack of celebration seeming like the only safe way to make everyone happy.

Whatever holiday you celebrate, celebrate it well, and celebrate it with the people you love.  We may certainly be different, but truthfully that's half the fun.

The world could use a bit more reason to celebrate, and I'm happy to comply.

Cookies on cookies, during the holidays when indulgence runs second nature is the perfect time to debut these.  Five ingredients.  Maximum ease and wow factor.   More time for celebrating.

Let's do just that.
A very happy holiday to you.

Fudge Mint Double Cookies
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: Approximately 2 dozen cookies

- 1 box devil's food cake mix
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 Tbsp water
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 24 thin mint cookies (available all year round in various brands)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cake mix, water, and softened butter until well combined.  Beat in eggs until well combined.  Roll approximately 1 inch dough balls in powdered sugar and place at least 2 inches apart on baking sheets.  Bake 9-11 minutes (rotating pans halfway through) until cookies have begun to set.  Immediately push a thin mint into each cookie.  Cool on wire racks completely.

Recipe adapted from: Taste of Home

Monday, December 9, 2013

Open Faced Pumpkin Cream Whoopie Pies

Most days, it seems, were all just looking for some balance, most definitely myself included.

Described as a renaissance woman on a good day, and indecisive on a bad one, I myself am always searching for balance in my life in more ways than one.

Never was this more present than in my college days.  A self-proclaimed "future pharmacist" from the age of 5 years old onward, I arrived at Temple University and discovered *shockingly* that I didn't actually want to be a pharmacist.  From then on choosing what I wanted to do FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE (dramatically at the time) felt overwhelming and daunting in all senses.

Pharmacist -> Journalist -> Science Teacher -> Elementary School Teacher -> Science Teacher

Any time I turned my back on science I missed it and felt incomplete, and yet couldn't seem to find how to fit it all in.

I spent part of the time under the impression that nothing would in fact, make me happy and fulfilled in a career.

And then, slowly but surely, it snuck up on me.  Without a doubt, 7th grade science is where I am meant to be.  I look forward to Monday morning just as much as Friday afternoon.  But most importantly what I've come to realize is that I've found a career that inspires me to pursue all of my other interests as well.

If you're at a point in your life where something seems like it's out of place, keep searching.  It's out there.  Maybe a massive change of career isn't as a dramatic of a shift that you need to make.  Just pursue what makes you happy, and you'll find in time you'll get there.

I am a teacher.  A baker.  A blogger.  And probably always searching for even more.  Because if I've learned one thing, it's that being a life-long learner isn't the worst thing to be, and happiness comes from  figuring it all out - and it will never be figured all out.

And for the days when even this seems a bit too daunting - redefining a classic recipe fits the mold just fine.  A bit dense as two sided and filled whoopie pies, as open faced they are just enough.  Mildly sweet, soft, creamy, and filling.

It's true we can't always change or make the rules for life - but with whoopee pies, we definitely can.

The universe has its own way of balancing itself of (scientifically speaking and otherwise). We will all get there in time.

Open Faced Pumpkin Cream Whoopie Pies
Servings: Approximately 30 cookies


For Cookies:
- 3 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3 cups pumpkin puree
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For Cream Cheese Frosting
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Make cookies.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with either parchment paper or silicon baking mats.  In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Set aside.  In another bowl whisk together sugars and oil.  Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine with sugar.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over top and whisk to combine.  Scoop rounds of batter 1- 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto baking sheets, flattening slightly if desired.  Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until cookies are beginning to crack on tip and a toothpick inserted into one comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make frosting.  Combine butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until completely smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Frost cooled whoopee pies and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Honey Roasted Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Some days, it feels like life keeps trying to teach me the same lessons over and over.

On good days I feel like I'm getting better with them, and on bad days it just feels like the same old strike out.

The sting of when things don't exactly go as planned, or when circumstances are out of your control.

Maybe there is no right way to handle hurt, but to just accept that is comes and goes in life, and to realize we do the best we can with where we are.

Being thankful for what's going well and letting what might not be push you to be better.
Remembering that joy doesn't depend on circumstance.

Find your balance, even if today it's just in something like this.

Happiness embodied in chocolate, honey roasted peanuts, and oatmeal cookie topping.

Simple indulgence. Made for sharing.

Just sweet enough for any and every day.

Honey Roasted Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: 22-24 bars


For Oatmeal Bars:
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 16 Tbsp unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 2 cups light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup salted honey roasted peanuts (roughly chopped)

For Chocolate Layer
- 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp sa;t
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts (roughly chopped)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cover the bottom of a 9x13 inch paper with parchment paper.  Grease the sides of the pan with butter.

Make the oatmeal cookie layer.  In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Whisk to combine.  In a separate bowl beat the butter on medium-high speed until soft and creamy.  Add the brown sugar and beat until well combined, 1-2 minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Blend in vanilla.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Mix in dry ingredients until just combined.  Stir in oats and peanuts.  Set 1 1/2 cups aside.

Press remaining dough into pan in an even layer.

Make the chocolate layer.  Set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.  In heat proof bowl combine condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter, and salt.  Stir until warm and combined.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining vanilla and peanuts.

Pour chocolate layer over cookie layer in pan.  Spread evenly.  Crumble remaining oatmeal mixture over top of chocolate evenly.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until topping is golden town and chocolate layer has started to set.  Let cool on a wire rack completely.  Cut into bars and serve.

Recipe adapted from: Baking From My Home to Yours

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Lemon Crumb Cake

"If the world was blind, how many people would you impress?"

Needed words.  Words that change my perspective, which often times seems to fall on the wrong side of where it can and should be.

Once in awhile I tend to lose my focus and get caught up in outward appearances.  Do I look the "right" way, do I speak the "right" way, do I come off in the "right" way?  Putting too much power in others perceptions of myself, losing out on chances to be genuinely happy regardless of what someone else thinks.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe that taking pride in how you look and who you are outwardly is important, but I also don't think it should be the meat of life, and I know from experience it's far too easy to get caught up in it.

The way I see it, outward appearance should be the icing on the cake.  Important and something to be taken care of an celebrated for sure, but alone nothing.

I feel outward appearance is nothing without the cake of who you are within.  So take a step back and love yourself.  You whole self.  Even on the bad days.  Even on the days you feel like that ugly cake that decorating wise was a total flop.  Odds are if you take the chance to try it, it's still really good.

There's always a chance to wipe the slate clean and try again.  That's the beauty of it.

Every day you have a chance to decide who you'd like to be, both inside and out.

Every day can be something new and something good.

And remember, even the most beautifully decorated cakes can taste awful and the most simple can be divine.

Be both.
You always have the chance to be both.

Lemon Crumb Cake
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: 16-20

- 4 cups flour
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- Gratzed zest of 4-5 small lemons
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 cups vanilla greek yogurt
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 9x13 inch baking dish.  In a medium bowl, add flour, sugars, lemon zest, and cinnamon.  Stir until combined.  Add oil and lemon juice and mix until clumps form and flour is incorporated.  Set aside 2 cups of mixture.  Add remaining mixture to the bowl of  stand mixer.  In another small bowl whisk together yogurt, egg, vanilla, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add mixer to crumb mixture in stand mixer and beat over low speed until smooth.  Spread into prepared dish and top with reserved crumb topping.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Once cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature.  Only gets better as days pass.

Recipe adapted from: Blogging Over Thyme

Monday, October 14, 2013

Birthday Thoughts - On 23 and 24

Every year, in the days preceding my birthday, something seems to come over me.

I feel compelled to live more out loud. Love deeper. Laugh harder. Have less inhibitions. Do more. 
Although it's a week pretty close to any other, all of a sudden time feels more real. More finite.

Suddenly I'm hit with the fact that this is the last time ever I'll be able to be this age, whatever that age may be, which right now is 23.

I urgently feel like I have to cram as much life as possible in, so as to not miss a minute of it.  Hoping somehow to hold on to familiarity as I dive into brand new.  Wondering if I'm ready.  Knowing that it's coming regardless.

It happens every year, and every year it still sneaks up on me.

A similar phenomenon happens around the turn of the new year, but really it's not the same. New Year's is everyone's new time. October 13-18th feels solely mine.

23 has been incredible, awesome, heart warming, and heart wrenching. 

Going into 24, I hope I remember that life is too short not to love something every day. Whether that something is someone, what you do, or just yourself.

Mostly importantly yourself.

Cheers to reveling in the last few days of 23 and welcoming in 24.

And to living every week like it's birthday week.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lemon Pistachio Cornmeal Muffins

Compromise is key.

Decide what's important to you, and hold tight to it, but always being open to going a little bit in either direction.

Realize that most everything is better when shared.  Remember that we never know who or what we'll find when we keep an open mind.

My parents are a testament to a life lived in happiness and compromise that I hope I one day get to live with someone as well.

Giving a little here or a little there to each other, and never even thinking that it could or should be any other way.

Always supporting me and not once asking for credit.

My dad being a huge pistachio fan and my mom loving corn muffins, I knew there wasn't a better treat to celebrate them both. As individuals and as a couple.

These muffins are delicious and simple on their own, but when split in half and grilled with a little brown butter, they're taken to another level.

To 30 years married this week, these are for you mom and dad. Thank you for everything.

Congrats to you.

Lemon Pistachio Cornmeal Muffins:
Printer Friendly Version
Serves: 12


- 1/2 cup pistachios, divided
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- zest of 1/2 lemon
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder

In a food processor, pulse pistachios until coarsely chopped.  Remove 1/4 cup and pulse remaining pistachios until almost powdery.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly spray a 12- cup muffin or cupcake pan with vegetable oil.  In a medium bowl, whisk eggs lightly.  Add sour cream, lemon juice and zest, and butter and whisk until combined.  Set aside.  In a separate large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, powdery pistachios, and the baking powder.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.  Fold ingredients together until just combined.  Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full and sprinkle the tops with remaining pistachios.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature, as is or split in half and grilled in a little melted butter.  Enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: Baked Elements

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Things I'm Loving Lately: Summer 2013 Edition

Exploring my city more and more, getting to know Philly better every day.  A first walk across the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Graduating from college.

And getting to share it with the people that mean the most. (And accidental pictures of us that sum us up pretty well.)

A trip to Rome.

With all the inspiration you can imagine.  

A first trip to Nashville.

Where I reaffirmed I may be one of the few people to never get sick of country music, no matter how much I've heard.

Some smaller trips to,

Baltimore MD


Chincoteague Island

Lancaster PA (a wolf sanctuary - the coolest thing I never knew existed)

And the good old Jersey Shore.

Time spent at home.

Landing and preparing for my dream job, a 7th grade science teacher.  Taking a deep breath before I start on Tuesday.  

Looking back and smiling at how far I've come.  
Realizing that the journey is the reward.

Realizing that the journey is the reward.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sunset Cocktails

If it seems like things have been a bit quiet in these parts lately, it's because quite simply they have been.

There always seems to be a few weeks out of the year when despite my good intentions of keeping up with everything in life, I find that some things slip away from me for a bit.

And if there is ever a time to let some things slip a bit, I'm thinking summer is it.

The important part is that I always find my way back, with renewed vigor and much needed rest and with plenty of stories to share.

While it's true my oven went untouched for a bit this summer, cocktail making remained as strong as ever.  My go to drink this summer has been a glass of lemonade with a splash of honey whiskey, but attempting new drinks and combinations has always been on the radar as well.

This drink originally struck me because of how it looks (I'm a marketer's dream and love pretty things) but what's great is that it tastes just as stellar too.

Mild and slightly sweet wine is layered on top of Mandarin soda for a quick fix that looks like a ton of work, when the truth is it couldn't be simpler.

So easy and laid back for summer.  Beautiful without even trying.  And most importantly, different and fun.

For keeping this last month of summer going, because there is still so much to celebrate.

Sunset Cocktail
Servings: 1 (can be easily multiplied)

- mild sweet wine (I used lambrusco - sparkling!)
- mandarin soda (found in spanish aisle of supermarket)
- ice

Pack whatever size glass you would like with ice.  Fill halfway with mandarin soda.  Slowly pour wine over top so it sits on the soda and does not mix.  Drink with straws and enjoy.  Repeat as necessary.

Recipe adapted from: Joy the Baker

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gumbo Dip

One of my biggest passions the past few years has been traveling. While I'm nowhere near done my (very) long list of places to travel, finding somewhere new and immersing myself in the sites, the people, and the food available brings me so much happiness that I try to make it happen as often as possible.

This spring I was lucky enough to travel to New Orleans.  To say I was inspired by the city is a huge understatement.  I fell in love and can't wait to get back.  I happened to be visiting during crawfish season.  I decided to step out of my food box and give something completely new a try, and subsequently fell in love with crawfish too.

Now while I can't get crawfish in my local area ever, when I saw this recipe, it immediately brought me back to New Orleans and I knew I had to give it a shot.  While cheese and seafood may seem like an odd combination, this dip is a clear winner.  Substantial enough to be a small meal on it's own, or large enough to share, until I can get myself back to the magic that is New Orleans dishes such as this are a great stand in.

Gumbo Dip
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: 8 small or 4 large portions

- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped okra
- a few celery ribs (diced)
-5-6 scallions (chopped)
- 1 clove of garlic (minced)
- 1 1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
- 1 lb shrimp (peeled, deveined, and pre-cooked)
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
(crackers or baguettes for serving)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Chop bell pepper, okra, and celery. Set aside. In a medium skillet set over medium/high heat, melt butter. Add bell pepper, okra, and celery and sauté until they begin to soften (about 5-6 minutes). Chop scallions and mince garlic. Stir in scallions, garlic, and Cajun seasoning, cooking 1-2 minutes more (or until fragrant). Stir in shrimp, cream cheese, and Parmesan over low heat until everything is melted and evenly distributed. Spoon into approximately an 8x8 dish and bake for 25-30 minutes (until the top is brown and bubbly). Serve warm.

Recipe adapted from: Annie's Eats

Monday, July 8, 2013

Black Bean Salad

It may seem as though (in a lot of senses) cooking and baking go hand in hand.

In my life however, that rarely rings true. Cooking requires so much premeditation, planning, and time that more often than not I find it daunting to say the least.

What usually draws me back to the kitchen to try and branch out with something savory every once in awhile are easy to throw together meals that last (and even get better) over time.

This salad hits the mark on all of those different levels. Easy to throw together, it lasts and even becomes better tasting after some time in the refrigerator. Overwhelmingly healthy, and downright delicious. Perfect as a side or even as a light meal on its own.

To make this even easier substitute sun dried tomatoes, but if you have the extra 40 minutes, oven roasted tomatoes really set this over the top.

For summer barbecues and easy meals alike. For branching out and trying something new.

Black Bean Salad
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: 4-6

- 4 cups black beans (rinsed and drained)
- 3/4 cup grape tomatoes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds
- sea salt
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Slice each tomato in half and place cut side up on a foil lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, maple syrup, and 1/2 tsp sea salt, making sure everything is well coated.  Roast for 40-60 minutes to until tomatoes begin to caramelize.  In a large bowl toss the beans, the tomatoes (with their juices), the almonds, the lemon zest, and the lemon juice.  Finish by sprinkling with feta and stirring a few times.  Serve immediately.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from: Super Natural Every Day

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I've never been one to deny the power of words.

Words can hurt. Words can heal. Words can definitely inspire.

Words are the way we attempt to classify and understand the world around usas we know it. Words are the way we attempt to define ourselves.

For the last few years three of the most important and frequent words I've used to describe myself have been "almost science teacher".

And just like that three words go to two, and change a huge amount about who I've been. Change to a definition of who've I've been imagining I'd be. (But if I'm being honest someone I'm definitely still shaping.)

Almost science teacher. 

My graduation from undergraduate college and being hired as a seventh grade science teacher has finally come.

And now that's its here I couldn't be more thankful to have shared it with so many wonderful people who mean so much to me.

A part of the celebrations were these classic cookies, ones that bake up quick and simple, and in large quantities no less.  Perfect for celebrating big victories as well as the every day.

Perfect for celebrating with anyone you love.

Cheers to anyone else out there in the class of 2013.  It may have taken me an extra year to get here, but I couldn't be happier to be joining you where we are today.

Classic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Servings: 6-7 dozen cookies

- 3 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour
- 1/2 cup wheat germ
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 sticks (16 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl combine ingredients oats through salt, and stir until well distributed.  In the bowl of a separate electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until pale and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Beat in vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  With the mixer on low mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.  Stir in the raisins until well distributed.  On baking sheets lined with either a silicon baking mat or parchment paper, scoop between 1-2 Tbsp dough (a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop works great) spacing at least two inches apart.  Bake for 13-15 minutes (or until just set and light golden) rotating galway through.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 5 minutes and then transfer cookies directly to wire racks to cool completely.  Continue with cookie dough until completed.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature when cooled completely.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart's Cookies

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Occasionally to be inspired, we don't have to search out something completely new.

We don't have to reinvent the wheel, start from scratch and develop the next greatest thing.

Often times, inspiration can come in the form of revisiting a familiar favorite. Something tried and true. Something that either stirs a memory or rekindles a feeling within us, reminding us why we fell so hard in the first place.

At least for me that is.

Simple dark chocolate brownies.  Dense.  Fudge like.  One bowl.  Most importantly outstandingly satisfying.

These could be a vessel for just about any add in you could think of: nuts, candy, even more chocolate. The combinations alone could keep you busy for ages.  But that being said, these are just as great on their own.

Simple and sweet or adorned and fancy. Whichever way you choose, a real winner.

Dark Chocolate Brownies
Servings: 9 large or 16 small brownies

- 8 Tbsp butter
- 4.5 oz dark chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup flour (sifted)
- powdered sugar for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a 9x9 inch baking dish with aluminum foil.  In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine butter and chocolate until melted and combined.  Take bowl off the heat and whisk in sugar.  Whisk in eggs, one at a time.  Whisk in vanilla, espresso powder, and salt.  Stir in flour until no streak remain.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-22 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean).  Let cool on a wire rack.  Top generously with powdered sugar, slice, and serve.  

Recipe adapted from: Baking From My Home To Yours

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Miniature Oreo Cheesecakes

On more than a few occasions, baking is my favorite type of therapy.

When the world gets a little too loud, or confusing, or dare I say hard, a way to take a step back and relax is exactly what I need.

There's comfort in knowing combining butter, sugar, and flour will usually yield something wonderful.

All they need is a little work from me and a little time.

Idealistically a euphemism for life. Realistically a lesson in not sweating the small stuff.  And more importantly remembering that 98% of it is small stuff.

Take a step back, turn on the mixer and let these easy little cheesecakes whip themselves up. Or lose yourself in mixing them up with nothing but a spoon (while getting a great arm workout I might add).

While cheesecake and Oreos aren't two of my go to treats standing alone, together here they just work.

Highly portable. A built in crust. Just sweet enough. 

A pick me up or a celebration.  Realizing that no matter what life throws at you, you're always in control of the way you see it.  Remembering that you get to choose.

Miniature Oreo Cheesecakes
Servings: 15 individual portioned cheesecakes

- 25 oreo or similar sandwich cookies (15 left whole and 10 roughly chopped)
- 1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- small pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.  Line two standard cupcake pans with paper liners.  Place an oreo cookie in the bottom of each well.  Beat cream cheese until smooth in a medium bowl, gradually add sugar and beat until combined.  Beat in vanilla.  Drizzle in eggs and beat to combine, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in sour cream.  Stir in cookies and and salt.  Divide batter evenly among liners.  Bake, rotating halfway through, until filling is set (about 21-23 minutes).  Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.  Remove from tins and serve.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart Cupcakes

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mocha Almond Fudge Cookies

There's no denying that cookies play a prominent role in my baking life.

A quick scan through my recipe index shows they are the biggest category by far, and no matter how distantly I go in other directions, I always seem to come back to them without fail.

And with near limitless options to try, I don't see that stopping anytime soon.

Not that I'd want it to.

This particular combination brings together espresso powder and dark chocolate in a soft and chewy cookie with a crunch from toasted chopped almonds.

They're reasonably sized, and highly portable, which makes eating an unreasonable amount in one day a little too easy.

If almonds aren't your thing, leave them out.  But I highly recommend giving them a try as is.

Coffee + chocolate is hard pressed to go wrong, but in these cookies it couldn't be more right.

Mocha Almond Fudge Cookies
Servings: About 2 dozen cookies

- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp espresso powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips

In a bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to combine.  In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand mixer, or in a bowl with a spoon) cream butter and sugar until well combined and fluffy.  Add in eggs, one at a time, beating until combined.  Add in vanilla.  With mixer on lowest setting, add in flour mixture until just combined, finishing by hand.  Pour in chopped almonds and chocolate chips and fold in until well distributed.  Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Roll into 2 tsp size balls and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake 7-9 minutes or until cookies have begun to set.  Let cool on wire racks.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  Enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: How Sweet Eats