Reese’s Cookie Cake

You know when people ask silly questions like “If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?”

Which – sidenote – doesn’t even make sense, because if there was only one food item left in the world, you probably wouldn’t be able to choose what it is. I’m guessing it would be something like Spam. Or raw onions. Not, let’s say, a REESE’S COOKIE CAKE. But, if the world was fair, and I had a say in it, it would be this cake.

Of course, that brings up a whole different set of problems. Like, who would be baking it? And where would the ingredients come from if… ugh, nevermind. Regardless, I’d eat this chocolate peanut butter cookie cake every day forever and ever. And I think that’s the most serious commitment I’ve ever made!

When I’m asked to do something really major like decide what type of birthday cake I want, I usually can’t. There are just far too many cakes and cookies and ice creams and pies in the world to pick favorites. So, I typically strategize on how to maximize the opportunity. For instance, my cake this year was made of cookies AND candy, too. All in one. Three for one? I win.

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I was lucky enough to have my mom, brother and sisters all pitch in to make this amazing cake for my birthday. It was so much fun celebrating with Ryan and my family in Arizona. Lots of swimming, shopping, and of course, eating.

We all gave this cake two thumbs up! The dough seems like a funny consistency when you’re baking at first, but it’s just because it’s more of a peanut butter cookie base and is a little lumpier. My mom used this recipe for the cookie cake, and this recipe for the peanut butter frosting. Then, they drizzled chocolate sauce and chopped Reese’s on top. It was my best birthday cake yet!

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White Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

When someone says the word “chocolate,” does white, milk or dark chocolate come to mind first?

As you can see, I am all about asking the tough questions today. It’s pressing matters like these that are constantly circling my train of thought and need addressing. Because who can focus on work when there are so many types of chocolate to be examined!

I, for one, rarely think about white chocolate. I have just never been a fan, unless it’s paired with lots of other delicious items like coconut and candy and nuts.

And apparently, I’m not alone! I did a little digging and discovered that in an EatingWell poll, only 6% of people said that white chocolate is their favorite. Dark chocolate won, with 64% of the votes, and milk chocolate gathered 28%. Of course that isn’t exactly the most scientific poll, but still interesting to consider.

I also found a fun article on Kitchen Daily: “What Your Favorite Type of Chocolate Says About You.” I couldn’t decide on my favorite, since peanut butter chocolate wasn’t an option, so I’m somewhere between dark chocolate and chocolate caramel.

The description for a chocolate caramel lover is: “People who prefer caramel-filled chocolate are happy and impulsive. They typically have high self-esteem and are considered thrill-seekers. Caramel chocolate lovers good-natured and easily satisfied.”

Find your description here.

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And then, go make these delicious white chocolate chip coconut cookies! I knew that if I – someone who isn’t even a big fan of white chocolate – loved this recipe, then it had to be shared.

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White Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

Via Babble

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup coconut oil, or 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter or coconut oil with the white and brown sugars. Stir until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix.

Next, add in the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda and salt. Then mix in the white chocolate chips and coconut. Drop by the tablespoon on a cookie sheet and bake for (approximately) 10 minutes.

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

I’m totally failing at weekly menu life.

I was in coma of exhaustion at work on Monday after spending a whirlwind girls weekend in San Francisco with my mom and grandma. We nicknamed it the “macaron tour” because that’s pretty much what we ate the whole time… along with other amazing food like shrimp tacos, cotija gucamole, clam chowder, sesame chicken and strawberry crepes, of course. A few favorite restaurants we came across: Lolo’s, L’Osteria Del Forno, and Fang’s.

Plus, we took a macaron class at Sur La Table there. It was a ton of fun, and I’d definitely recommend it! I’ve tried making them before without much success, so the tips from the pastry chef were super helpful. You can expect some macaron experimentation soon!

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Before I left last week I made this Cranberry Almond Biscotti. It’s a special recipe for me, because it’s a family favorite and I grew up watching my parents make it together! My dad would chop the cranberries, almonds and white chocolate – and my mom would do everything else 😉

I love having it around to snack on, especially with my morning coffee. Some places make it too hard or crunchy, so I love the idea of controlling the consistency when it’s homemade. When I’d make this in college, one of my roommates would beg me to keep out a few pieces after cutting them so that they were like soft cookie bars.

The steps can seem confusing at first glance, but I promise it’s really easy! And the end result is so worth it.

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First, prep your almonds, cranberries and white chocolate.

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Then, follow the directions to mix together the dough. Add it all together and spread it out on your pan.

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Stick it in the oven until barely browning. Then, pull it out and let cool. Cut it into pieces – you can choose your desired thickness and length – and put it back in the oven to finish browning.

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Let them cool, or enjoy them right away!

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Cranberry Almond Biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 2  cups  all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4  teaspoon salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup  granulated sugar
  • 2 whole  eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • ½ cup  toasted almonds, chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs, egg whites and almond extract until blended. Add the flour mixture to it and continue beating until smooth. Stir in the chopped almonds, cranberries and white chocolate.

Spread the dough on the baking sheet, smoothing it into one big strip (as shown above). Bake until firm and barely browning (light golden). Then take out the pan and lower the oven temperature to 300. Let the pan cool for a few minutes, and then cut into strips. Arrange slices standing upright on baking sheets and put them back in the oven until crisp (about another 15-20 minutes). Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cookies

PB & J.

PB & chocolate.

PB & honey & bananas.

Clearly, peanut butter is a match made in heaven for everyone and (almost) every food!

Of course, I’m a little biased. My love for peanut butter is definitely not a secret!  I eat peanut butter toast for breakfast every morning. My preferred candy is Reese’s. I’ve even recently become obsessed with this Thai peanut butter dipping sauce for our chicken at dinner.

So, peanut butter in cookies? My favorite food mixed with sugar and butter and all the sweet goodness? Absolute perfection.

I haven’t even tried many other peanut butter cookie recipes because this one is always right on point! I’m not sure where it originally came from, but my mom has been making these for years with consistent results.

I mean, peanut butter AND cookies. In one (!)

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 C butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 C peanut butter (I use creamy but chunky would work)
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1 C packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix together the butter, peanut butter, sugars and eggs. Add the rest of the dry ingredients. Once it’s all mixed together, take a spoonful of batter and shape it into a ball. Then, roll the ball in sugar (This is separate from the 1 C above…I usually just pour a little white sugar into a small bowl for this), place it on the cookie sheet, and press down on the cookie ball with a fork (making a crisscross pattern). Continue to do this for each cookie. Timing depends on the size, but take the cookies out just before you think they’re ready – they’re best a little softer!

 

Soft & Sweet Sugar Cookies

If I was ever to write a love letter to food, this would be it: ode to a sugar cookie. I mean, butter and sugar? Yes please – with frosting on top.

You just can’t go wrong with the classic sugar cookie. This recipe is from an old ’90s Betty Crocker cookbook my mom has – I have yet to find another that beats it! There are only a few simple ingredients (rare today), with little prep and baking time, and it comes together perfectly as an impressive dessert. It’s my classic go-to for any and all occasions, from birthdays and holidays to I-just-need-sugar days.

I included this (admittedly plain) picture to demonstrate the ideal blank slate that is the perfect sugar cookie. The possibilities – in shape, color, décor – are vast, and the taste is always consistent. In order to get that soft, melt-in-your-mouth sweetness, it’s important to take them out of the oven maybe a minute before you think they’re actually ready. I’ve found that this is right when they lose that doughy sheen, and start to look matte (I’m not sure that this is proper chef-speak, but after making them a million times, this is the best way I can describe it!).

Sugar Cookies

Classic Sugar Cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • colored sugars or other decorations

Basic Buttercream Frosting

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1 t skim milk
  • 2-4 cups of powdered sugar, depending on desired thickness

Yield: 3 doz. cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt with a wire whisk. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until well mixed. Scrape down sides of bowl, then add the flour mixture. Blend on low speed just until combined.
Gather dough into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk and wrap tightly in a plastic wrap or a plastic bag. Refrigerate 1 hour until firm.
On a floured surface, roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. With cookie cutters, cut dough into desired shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, being careful not to brown. Immediately transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool, flat surface.

Mix all of the frosting ingredients together, slowly adding powered sugar until you reach the desired thickness. (The measurements are loose on this one!) You can also add a few drops of food coloring. Frost and enjoy!

Lemon Glazed Ginger Cookies

If you’re ready for your home to have that “holiday aroma,” then it’s time to make these yummy lemon glazed ginger cookies.

I found this recipe several years ago in a magazine (Sunset, I think) and it was love at first bite. They are just the right mix of spiced chewiness. Of course, the lemon glaze also balances out the sweetness.

The spices in them permeate as they cook, making the tasty scent spread far past the kitchen. And they are so easy! I’ve made them at least a dozen times and each time they turn out perfectly – gotta love a recipe that’s consistent!  Of course they’re good any time of year, but right now, this will remind you that holidays are not far off.

Enjoy!

Lemon Glazed Ginger Cookies
Lemon Glazed Ginger Cookies
 Ingredients
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, at room temp
1 egg
3 TB molasses
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp each salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 TB lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar
Directions
Preheat oven to 350.  Cream sugar with butter and beat til flufffy.  Add egg and molasses and beat again.  Mix flour, baking soda, and spices and add to butter mixture.  mix well.  Scoop small balls of dough, roll into balls and roll in sugar.  Arrange on baking stone/cookie sheet and bake until golden, about 10 min.  Make the glaze while cookies cool, mixing lemon juice with powdered sugar. Drizzle over the cookies – Yum!

Simple Pesto Sauce

This famous pesto recipe is from “Mama C,” my mom’s college roommates mother. She was first-generation Italian and an awesome cook. Her pesto recipe is yummy and super easy (especially if you keep Trader Joe’s basil plants in your pots at home!). You can also mix up the nuts in the recipe to use what you have . For instance, we just made it with walnuts and loved it.

It stays fresh in the fridge for several weeks if you top it with olive oil. Mama C used to make the most of fresh summer basil by making batches of this and freezing it in little containers too.

Enjoy!

Pesto sauce

Pesto Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, preferably extra virgin
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (or 4 tablespoons dried basil)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

Directions

Place oil and nuts, garlic and salt in a blender or food processor. Process until nuts and garlic are finely chopped. Add basil and process until finely chopped. Stir in parmesan and Romano cheese.

Serve with your favorite pasta (gnocchi shown above). Or, spread it on a pizza!