Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category


Some people like crunchy cookies, other likes soft, chewy cookies- I like both, but today I’m standing up for cakey cookies. Perhaps these would be better named as cake bites, since the dough is looser than normal cookie dough and the resulting texture is more like a cakey pumpkin blondie than a cookie, but the shape and size beckon me to continue to refer to them as cookies. The fact is, in order to make the cookies taste enough like pumpkin to merit their title, you have to moisten the batter with so much pumpkin puree that there’s no way this cookie could come out chewy, let alone crunchy.


pumpkin cookie innards

Since the recipe calls for 1 cup of pumpkin puree and most cans are over 14 oz, use the extra for mini pie fillings, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin muffins, or freeze it in a ziplock bag to defrost when you want to make these cookies again- it won’t be long. Enjoy!


Pumpkin Cake Bites (Soft Pumpkin Cookies)

Makes 40 small cookies

  • 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup white or milk chocolate chips (or both)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with a silpat or lightly grease it.

2. Mix first seven ingredients (the dry ingredients) in a small bowl and set aside. Combine butter and sugar in another bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy and lightened in color, about 5 minutes.

3. Beat in egg, then stir in pumpkin puree. Add dry ingredient mixture all at once and stir until just combined. At this point you can fold in white or milk chocolate chips if you;re making drop cookies, or if you;re piping the cookies, add the cookie dough to a pastry bag fitted with a tip at least 1/2” wide. Drop or pipe cookies onto baking sheet and if you piped the cookies, place one chip, white or milk, in the center of each cookie.


4. Bake in the center of the oven for 10-12 minutes. Cookies should be fairly firm to the touch, but not dry, and they should only be barely browned on the top and bottom. Move to a rack, cool, and enjoy! Cookies keep in an air tight container for up to 5 days.

-M : )

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pretty pecan pinwheels!

As I continue with my baking kick, my mind turns to cost. What ingredients can I cut out and still have a great cookie? Butter? No way. Sugar? Not in a million. Flour? Fat chance. Eggs? Hmm….And that’s where we begin.

In nearly every traditional cookie recipe, eggs lend texture, flavor, rise, and even sheen. But what if you’re secure in the ability of butter, sugar, and flour to add texture, pecans and warm spices to add flavor, and the layers created by the careful combining of butter and flour to create rise? Then you’ve got yourself a great cookie recipe. These Chinese Five Spice Cookies are not only fun and easy to make, but also resourceful. Change the filling to cinnamon, sugar, and currants, or fig jam and chopped almonds-any way you make these, they’re flaky and delicious.


Eggless Chinese Five Spice Cookies

Makes 25 cookies


1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup butter, in small cubes, chilled

3-4 tbsp cold water

1/8 tsp salt


1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1 tsp chinese five spice

1/4 tsp cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet or use a silpat to line one.

2. Mix the salt into the flour. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, quickly incorporate the butter into the flour, until the mixture resembles coarse sand and the butter is still cold. If butter begins to warm, place mixture in the freezer for 5 minutes and begin again. Add just enough cold water to make a rough dough that stays together. You should be able to see butter streaks in the dough. Wrap in plastic and set in the fridge for 10 minutes to relax the gluten you may have developed in mixing and to allow the butter to cool.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.

4. Unwrap dough, lightly flour a flat surface, and roll out dough to a rectangle (about 12” x 8”), making sure it’s 1/4” to no less than 1/8” thick.

5. Sprinkle filling on top of the dough to make a thin, even layer and roll lengthwise until you’ve created a log. Place in the freezer to firm up for 10 minutes.

6. Slice the log into 1/4” to 1/2” slices, depending on how big you’d like the cookies, using a sharp knife. Place cookies flat on the baking sheet and into the oven, for 10-12 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool on a rack and enjoy!

-M : )

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Ok, so I guess I’m on a baking kick. Its just that D and I have a few friends coming over to watch football tonight and tomorrow night, and I couldn’t help but bake some goodies to munch on during the game. I made both palmiers (recipe in part deux) and chocolate-dipped pecan meringues (recipe below). I am particularly fond of cookies that are easy, cheap, and can be made small, and these two recipes match all the criteria.

Not only do smaller cookies take less time to bake, they are also a wiser bet for satisfying your guests and making sure that your baking doesn’t go to waste (and frankly, your feelings don’t get hurt). Bigger cookies require the guest to contemplate the size of their appetite, normally an evaluation that takes place after a meal. If you want your baking to be put to good use (i.e. chomped and digested) then make those cookies smaller! Smaller cookies means more cookies to enjoy, and fewer people saying no to trying one. No one’s going to need to consult their diet commandments to eat one. All the pleasure in a couple fewer bites, that’s all. You can even feel good having seconds. And trust me, you’ll want more than one.

What I love about these cookies is not only that they’re easy and liked by all, but also that they have a certain adult quality about them. Its that almost-burnt flavor, that caramelized, brown sugar taste that deepens and balances the sweetness. They are crunchy, light, and even great without being dipped in chocolate, white or dark. Serve a few in a bowl with some raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries, add a little whipped cream or ice cream, and you have a more formal dessert. Whether you share them with friends while watching football or enjoy them crushed into ice cream, cuddled up with a good book, enjoy!

Chocolate-Dipped Pecan Meringues

Makes 25-30 1 1/2” cookies

1/2 cup pecans

2 egg whites

pinch salt

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/8 cup white chocolate chips

1/8 cup dark or milk chocolate chips (your choice)


1. Preheat oven to 385 degrees and lightly grease baking sheet, or better yet, use a silpat baking mat on top of the baking sheet.

2. Pulse pecans in a food processor (preferably a small one) until coarsely ground. Take care not to over pulse, or else oils will release and coarse texture will be lost.

3. Whip eggs whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form and add sugar slowly, while continuing to beat whites. Beat until stiff peaks form.

4. Immediately fold in pecans, taking care not to deflate the egg whites (the sugar does help to stabilize them, though).

5. Drop or pipe about a tablespoonful of batter onto baking sheet or mat, and leave 1” of room between cookies. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 285 degrees. Bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden all over. Cookies will still be slightly soft to the touch, but they will harden as they cool out of the oven, yielding a crunchy texture.

6. While cookies cool, melt the chocolates in separate dishes in the microwave. Dip bottoms of the cookies in melted chocolate once completely cool and firm and place them on wax paper, then in the fridge, so the chocolate can harden.

Note: white chocolate-dipped cookies will not need to be refrigerated to harden, but the milk or dark chocolate-dipped ones probably will.


-M : )

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There are some no-brainer food combinations that come to mind when I think of things to make for dessert: chocolate and mint, chocolate and cherry, chocolate and coconut, chocolate and almond, chocolate and peanut butter, white chocolate and berries, hmm…chocolate, white, milk, or dark, seems to compliment an inexhaustible list of flavors, huh? However, chocolate desserts, even when they contain fruit, can be quite heavy. The solution? Use the chocolate as a background flavor, as I’ve done in this take on a napoleon, using pate a choux (cream puff) disks in place of the traditional puff pastry rectangles, and pumpkin white chocolate puree in place of the heavy pastry cream filling. The result is a light, texturally interesting, and visually impressive dessert. And, of course, it’s delish- would I post the recipe if it wasn’t? Be assured, its a winner. Enjoy! : )

Pumpkin White Chocolate Pate a Choux “Napoleon”

Pate a Choux Dough (adapted from Nick Malgieri’s “How to Bake“)

Makes 30 3” rounds

1 cup water

6 tablespoons butter (I actually prefer salted butter, here)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all purpose flour

4 large eggs

2/3 cup coarse white sugar, for sprinkling (coarse brown sugar is a fine substitute- look for demerara sugar)

pastry bag with 1/4 inch round tip


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a large baking sheet, or place a spat mat on the baking sheet. Arrange racks so that they are in the center of the oven.

2. Combine water, butter, and salt in a medium size saucepan or pot over medium high heat and bring to a boil. When mixture boils, turn off heat, add flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon until incorporated and mixture leaves the sides of the pot cleanly.

3. Transfer paste to a bowl and spread the paste up the sides of the bowl to quicken cooling process. Let cool for 1 minute, then add eggs, one at a time, stirring until each is absorbed before adding the next.

4. Spoon mixture into pastry bag fitted with 1/4 inch wide round tip and pipe 3” pinwheels onto the baking sheet, keeping 1” between each puff. Pipe pinwheels by starting in the center first and coiling the dough around the center. When you’ve made a 3” pinwheel, release pressure on the bag and pull the tip away to the side (don’t pull the tip up) in a quick motion. Sprinkle tops of pinwheels liberally with coarse sugar. Don’t worry about shaking excess sugar off the baking sheet or mat, it will just caramelize in the oven and add extra crunch to the pinwheels.

4. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and fully cooked through. Puffs should retain their shape out of the oven. If they collapse on themselves, bake for an extra minute or two.
Pumpkin White Chocolate Puree

Makes enough for 4 Napoleons

1 small can pumpkin puree

1/4 cup real maple syrup

2 tsp molasses

1 tsp cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

1 cup white chocolate chips, melted in the microwave


1. Mix 1/2 pumpkin puree (1 of the two parts) with the rest of the ingredients, except for the white chocolate, together in a bowl. Divide in half. Add melted white chocolate chips to one of the halves, mix and set both bowls aside.

Construction of the “Napoleon”

Pate a Choux Pinwheels

Pumpkin Puree

White Chocolate Pumpkin Puree

white chocolate chips, about 1/8 cup per person

1. Place a pinwheel cream puff in the center of a plate. Spoon or pipe about 1 tbsp of the non-white chocolate pumpkin puree onto the pinwheel and repeat layering process until you have used 3 pinwheels. Repeat with other plates.


on top: the recipe; on bottom: a variation

2. Drizzle white chocolate pumpkin puree over each stack and sprinkle with white chocolate chips so your guests know the components of the dessert. Enjoy!


-M : )

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Of all four seasons, autumn has the best food. Its like Goldilocks and the three (well, four..) bears: Winter’s food is too heavy, Summer (and Spring) food is too light, and Autumn’s just right. Vegetables and Fruits get the attention they deserve, and the spices are warm without being heavy, simultaneously sweet and savory. It is often a time of indulgence, as people are eager to make desserts with the apples, pears, pumpkins, and even sweet potatoes that crowd the market shelves, but our bodies are pushed back into balance by the amount of nutrients in the available food: brussel sprouts, winter squash, leeks, green beans, and broccoli, are a few that come to mind (in addition to those mentioned above, of course).

Using fruits and vegetables in desserts has always been an interest of mine. I much prefer zucchini breads, banana muffins, sweet potato pies and berry cobblers to cheesecakes, pecan pies, and other (in my opinion) more cloying treats. Produce in desserts adds depth of flavor, texture, color, and boosted nutrition. Its also a great way to help introduce kids to unfamiliar and perhaps intimidating foods.

This recipe for Pumpkin Ginger Bars is special then, in two ways: it’s in tune with the season and it includes some healthy ingredients (like molasses, cinnamon, and pumpkin). It’s also the most addictive baked good I’ve ever made. The lightness of the filling combined with the chewy, crunchy base provides a textural contrast that most desserts lack. For me, when I have pumpkin pie, I find the crust to be superfluous, unnecessary, almost a dilution of the filling’s flavor. Not so with these; the crust is made with ginger snaps, and then covered in a thin layer of caramel, pairing perfectly with the homemade pumpkin filling. The filling is incredible on its own, but you’ll never leave tasteless crust behind when you eat these. So take a little time this afternoon to appreciate and share autumn’s bounty with these Pumpkin Ginger Bars. With two of these warm from the oven, a cup of mulled cider and a good book, you’ll be fully equipped for a cozy afternoon : )

Pumpkin Ginger Bars
Makes 28 bars

For Crust:
30 2″ gingersnap cookies (I like Sweetzels brand), crushed in a food processor
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/8 cup brown sugar

For Caramel layer:
2 bags Werther’s classic chewy caramels
1/2 cup milk
3 tbsp butter

For Pumpkin filling:
1 15oz. can pumpkin puree
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 cup molasses


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a 13 x 9 in. pan (glass works especially well).

2. Combine the cookie crumbs, butter, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Dump the mixture into the greased pan and distribute evenly over the bottom. The mixture will be very crumbly but don’t worry. Press it down lightly with your hands and make sure the crust extends to the edges of the pan.


3. Bake the crust blind for 10 minutes in the 425 degree oven to help it firm up. Don’t let it get too brown!

4. Unwrap caramels and place in a bowl over a pot of simmering water to melt. Add 1/2 cup milk and 3 tbsp butter to the bowl. Once caramels have melted, stir the mixture until it is fully incorporated and keep it over the double boiler to remain warm.


5. When the crust is ready, pour the caramel mixture over the crust and spread delicately to distribute it evenly over the crust’s surface. It will be thin, but there is exactly enough.

6. Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over the caramel, again distributing the filling evenly.


E. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 then lower oven to 350 and finish cooking for 35 more minutes. Bars are done when the top feels firm and the filling no longer jiggles in the center.

Note: I recommend letting these cool to room temp before slicing them, and when you do slice them, make sure you use a sharp knife and press down firmly- the bottom crust is very dense. Additionally, I would refridgerate these, or they will be incredibly chewy. The fridge makes the crust crunchy rather than chewy and I tend to find them even better this way.


-M : )

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