Brownie Roll-Out Cookies

cookiesThis recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, a blog I love so much I bought her cookbook. Some people say Ina Garten’s recipes are fail proof; I guess you could say Deb Perlman is my Ina. I made these cookies for the first time for my cookie party, which is a commitment. But they worked great, and I frosted them the exact same way as my sugar cookies, and they were a nice change of pace! 

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Peanut Butter Balls

My friend Jen brought these to my cookie party, and it originally came from my friend Allison. Love a recipe that is good enough to get passed around! They were a hit at my cookie party and with my husband! I think the Rice Krispies are the secret ingredient that takes them over the top! 

1 stick butter (slightly melted)
1 box powdered sugar
2 cups peanut butter
3 cups Rice Krispies
2 packages semi sweet or milk chocolate chips ( I use ghiradelli or guittard)

Mix butter,powdered sugar, peanut butter, and Rice Krispies together to form 1″ balls. Melt chocolate chips on low heat in double broiler. (I refrigerate the balls about 30 min. because it makes them easier to dip.) Dip and cool on wax paper. Place in individual mini muffin cups for display. They will stay in the fridge a up to 2 weeks.

Canyon Ranch Oatmeal Cookies

The dangerous thing about being at Canyon Ranch is that everything is so light, you never want to skip dessert! But their cookies are really delicious, and I was fascinated to find that they have cream cheese. How bad can they be?

¼ cup unsalted butter
⅓ cup low-fat cream cheese
1 cup brown sugar
1 lge egg yolk
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups rolled oats
¾ tsp aluminum-free baking powder
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
½ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with canola oil spray.

In a large bowl, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar. Add egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix briefly. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Add to creamed mixture and mix until all dry ingredients are moistened and a dough forms.

Portion heaping teaspoonfuls of dough (about ¾ ounce) onto baking sheet about 1½ inches apart. Bake for 7 minutes. Lightly flatten with finger. Rotate baking sheet and bake for 4 minutes.

Everyday Brownies

I love these brownies, because they are quick and easy and can be made in one pan. I make them often and sometimes vary them up with marshmallows or caramel.

1 4-oz Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Bar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan. Break the chocolate bar into a few pieces, and put it in a pan with the butter on low, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove the pan from heat, and let cool to room temperature (you can speed it up in the fridge if needed). Stir in the brown sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs and mix well. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt (I do this with a sifter on a paper plate), and slowly fold it into the chocolate mixture, mixing well until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into 2-inch squares. Makes 16

Dulce De Leche-Filled Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

I made this recipe for the first time on Thanksgiving 2013 – it’s a winner!

Makes about 24 sandwiches (48 cookies)

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (I used a mix of Dutch and non-Dutch, and it worked!)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 can (13.4 ounces) dulce de leche, located in the grocery baking or ethnic aisle or World Market (or make yourself)

1. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on high for 30 seconds. Add sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined, then beat in the flour.

2. Divide dough in half; cover and chill 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle. Shape each portion of dough into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap cylindrical rolls in plastic wrap and chill for 4 hours or until firm enough to slice.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut rolls into 1/4-inch slices. Place slices 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

4. Spread dulce de leche on one side of half of the cookies, using a rounded tablespoon on each cookie. Top with the remaining cookies, pressing together lightly to make a sandwich.

Adapted from a recipe in Seattle Times

Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies

I haven’t made these as much as I should have, but I made them for my annual cookie exchange one year, and so they hold a special place in my heart.

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 1.4-ounce chocolate-covered English toffee bars (such as Heath), coarsely chopped
1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; whisk to blend. Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool mixture to lukewarm.

Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, then toffee and nuts. Chill batter until firm, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto sheets, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Rocky Road Crunch Bars

My platonic crush Nigella makes these, and they are so easy and delicious. They even remind me of s’mores, which are just about my favorite thing in the world. I’ve used several different kinds of crunchy cookies, but graham crackers would work in a pinch. What a great, easy chocolate gift for someone you love.

Rocky Road Crunch Bars

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon soft unsalted butter
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
3 tablespoons golden syrup or 1/4 cup corn syrup
8 ounces plain hard and crunchy cookies
2 cups mini marshmallows
2 teaspoons powdered sugar

Melt the butter, chocolate and syrup in a heavy based saucepan. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of this melted mixture and put aside.

Put the biscuits/cookies into a freezer bag and then bash them with a rolling pin. You are looking for both crumbs and pieces of cookies. Fold the cookie pieces and crumbs into the melted chocolate mixture, and then add the marshmallows.

Pour into a 9-inch square foil tray; flatten as best you can with a spatula. Pour over the reserved 1/2 half cup of melted chocolate mixture and smooth the top.

Refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.

Cut into 24 fingers and dust with powdered sugar by pushing it gently through a tea strainer or small sieve.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recently I became obsessed with chocolate chip cookies. The reason is that I read an article in the New York Times with some secrets to making better cookies. There were three tips. I already knew the one about salt making sweet things better, but I didn’t know about the other secrets that bakers know but home bakers don’t generally use.

The most interesting new one to me was about making the dough 36 hours ahead of time. Who knew? Of course this requires a level of organization that I can’t even hope to have. But a girl has to have  a dream, right? It also talked about making them really big, like golf ball sized. This one is a little tougher for me, but I may just have to try it in the name of science!

And finally, I have a confession to make. I love chocolate chip cookies, but sometimes, well they are almost too chocolate chippy. So when I made these, I got chocolate bars and thinly chopped them instead of using chips. I’ll do this from now on. It took 2 minutes, and the results were thin chocolate ribbons going through the cookies, which I found so much more delicious than the lumps of chocolate. It’s just my opinion; don’t judge.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies

Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
Sea salt

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.