Tag Archives: Cookies

Rose and Pistachio Cookie Bars

rose cookies, rose biscuits, rose and pistachio, rose and pistachio dessert, pistachio cookies, persian flavored cookies

Rose and Pistachio Cookie Bars

I’ve had the idea for these cookie bars for quite awhile.  In fact, it’s a recipe that’s been sitting in the recesses of my mind, begging to be created.

The idea came to me one night while I was reading.  For some reason all my best recipe ideas have popped up when I’m relaxing and enjoying someone else’s writing.  I’m not quite sure what triggered the thought, but at that moment I decided I needed to combine the flavors of rose and pistachio in a cookie.

It had to be done.  Continue reading

Breadcrumb Cookies…Holiday Edition

I realize Christmas has come and gone, and I also realize (as of today!) King’s Hawaiian has had my recipe for Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies with Macadamia Nuts and Holiday Sprinkles posted on their blog for well over a week now, yet I haven’t blogged about it.  I wanted to share the recipe with you all, dear readers, but was waiting until it was posted on their blog.

How it escaped me that it had been posted, I’ll never know.  But, it’s all good!  I’m going to share now!

King's Hawaiian Breadcrumb Christmas Cookies!

King’s Hawaiian Breadcrumb Christmas Cookies!

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apricot almond bars

Apricot Macadamia Nut Cookie Bars: Perfect for Potlucks!

These bars are nothing short of perfection.

apricot macadamia nut bars

They’re incredibly easy to make and take nearly no time; but the result is a light-tasting cookie (well, it’s technically a bar) that has just the right level of sweetness.

I baked these last week for my co-workers to enjoy…and enjoy they did!  They were gone in no time!   I had intended to bake a blueberry tart to share, but I forgot to buy half the ingredients (imagine that!)…so I turned to my favorite–quick–recipe.

I had these bars put together and baked within 30 minutes; which was good because I was running late (hence the not so fabulous photos…).

I love this recipe because all the ingredients are very common things found in nearly everyone’s pantry.  Sure, I add a little cardamom powder–just to give the cookie crust a little “flair”–but this can easily be omitted, and it won’t affect the taste too much.

I use apricot preserves, but I have tried making the bars with other fruit preserves…and they’re equally delicious!

This is the important part though.  Because the preserves are the key ingredient, you want to use something tasty and not overly sweet.

I make my own preserves, but there is no need to worry if you don’t.  Simply “dress” the store-bought preserves up with a little citrus zest (I like lime) and vanilla bean…no one will ever know you didn’t make it yourself!

not so secret ingredients: vanilla beans and citrus

I made these preserves last year, and they were so delicious that I (seriously) hoarded all the apricots I came across; just so I could make a few more batches.  I think I ended up with like 50 jars of the stuff…so I needed to find ways to use them.

That’s when I got the idea to make bars.  I absolutely love lemon bars, and they were my inspiration for this dessert.

**Edited to add some new photos…and a BIG CONGRATULATIONS to my baby sister!  She is a college graduate today…and already accepted into the Mayo School Of Medicine!  Whoa!

I made this batch today for my sister’s graduation…with almonds instead of macadamia nuts

 

Apricot Macadamia Nut Cookie Bars:

CRUST:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom powder (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine flour and sugar.  Using a pastry blender or fork cut in butter and shortening.  Once everything is combined, pat crust onto the bottom of an ungreased pan (I use a 1/4 sheet).  Poke holes all over the dough using a fork–this will keep the crust from bubbling up.
Bake until the cookie crust begins to lightly brown–about 17 minutes.
TOPPING:
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. macadamia nuts–cut into small chunks (or whichever nut you prefer, almonds are also a great choice!)

In a large bowl (I use the same one I used for making the crust), whisk together egg, sugar, and preserves.  Add butter and vanilla and continue whisking until everything is combined.  Spread the mixture over the hot cookie crust and sprinkle with macadamia nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes–until the topping is set but not browned or dry.  Allow to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cut bars into squares (a plastic knife works best!).

I cut the bars relatively small, and can get approximately 30-36 bars from one batch.

printer friendly version

 

Oh…I had to share this too!  So I made these bars for my sister’s graduation party tonight…I didn’t have time to make her a proper cake, so I went to Target to purchase one.   I asked the guy working in the bakery if he could write on it for me using purple frosting.  He agreed.

I asked him to write, “Congratulations on Your Graduation, Michelle” …this is what I got (sorry for the harsh lighting!):

sorry for the harsh lighting!!!

How funny is that?  Grduation–haha! I thought it was funny so I didn’t even say anything.  Spelling “graduation” wrong on a cake for someone graduating from college.  It just made me laugh!

I wonder how long it will take for my dad to comment on it…

I’m guessing about 4 seconds!

Honey Lavender Cookies

To celebrate my twiggy lavender plant surviving another winter…I decided to make cookies!   Lavender happens to be one of my very favorite things.  I dry my laundry with lavender sachets, I wash my hands with lavender soap, I even put lavender drops on my pillow before I go to bed at night.  Obsessed?  Probably.

You can even find a few sprigs of lavender on top of my microwave, along with photos of my 2 grandmothers and my recipe book.

Aside from practically bathing myself in lavender, I also love to cook and bake with it.  It’s fabulous combined with other herbs, mixed with a little butter, and smothered all over a roasted chicken.  It’s equally delicious added to strawberry jam (see recipe here).  Lavender is one of those herbs that can easily teeter the boundary of being both savory and sweet.

I haven’t really baked anything lately, so I figured it was probably about time I did.  I wasn’t in the mood for cake, a pie seemed like too much work, but cookies sounded perfect!  Because Piyush had taken the car today for work (and my vehicle is still at my Dad’s shop), I was stuck at home.  That meant I had to make due with what I had.  …and what I had made some pretty awesome cookies, if I do say so myself.

lavender biscuits, honey lavender biscuits

Lavender Honey Cookies

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“Dorthy’s Cookies”… a.k.a Chocolate Crinkles

Although winter in Minnesota is usually quite harsh—piles of snow deeper than I am tall, and temperatures that would make even an Eskimo cringe— this particular winter has been anything but normal. Its the end of December and it is nearly 40 degrees outside…at 10 pm! I’m not complaining…no sir-ree…in fact, I wish every winter was as mild!
Not everyone agrees with me, though.  Most people that live in Minnesota look forward to the snow and the cold, and all the “joys” that winter brings. Snowmobiles, snowshoes, skis and snowboards… all useless. But, with the absence of snow, it seems there is also an absence of Christmas Spirit.

Christmas is only a few days past, and already businesses have taken down their lights, trees are no longer shining, and parents are wishing the holidays would fly by so they could send their kids back to school.
I suppose I also associate snow with Christmas. A part of me wished for a white Christmas (although, a very small part). And that same part of me was (maybe) disappointed when it didn’t turn out that way.  Christmas just isn’t Christmas unless it’s white outside.  It’s also not Christmas without Dorthy’s Cookies.

Dorthy's Cookies

You see, Dorthy was a little, old lady—one of my grandma’s friends.  She had one of the kindest hearts, an amazing love for her family, and an incredible talent for baking.  Dorthy was always baking something for someone, and she was famous for her chocolate cookies.  My mom told me she called them macaroons (which they weren’t), but I don’t remember that.  For as long as I can remember, my family always just called them “Dorthy’s cookies”, and they were a hot commodity.  She would pass them around at church and often give pails of them out as gifts.  I remember one of the last times I saw Dorthy, she was attending my cousin’s wedding.  She wasn’t in good health but she had a smile on her face and lots to say (Dorthy also had the gift of gab).  Earlier in the morning the little kids at church had celebrated their First Communion and she told me she had baked 12 pails of cookies so each kid could have one.  That’s just how Dorthy was.  She loved everyone and showed that love with cookies—fudgy, chocolate cookies, rolled in powdered sugar…to be specific!

Every year, Dorthy’s cookies made an appearance on my family’s cookie tray.  And every year, they were scarfed down as soon as they were set out.  That is, until Dorthy passed away.  Once she was gone, so were the cookies.  My family had the recipe, and apparently my aunts tried to make them…but they never turned out the same.  Then, one year I asked mom for the recipe.  It was scribbled down on a dirty little note card.  The directions were very vague and the ingredients were smudged.  No wonder they never turned out!  I tried finding them online, but had no luck.  Then, one day, around Christmastime 2009, I was using “stumbleupon”…and as I clicked the button, Dorthy must have been smiling down on me.  There were her cookies!  They were called Chocolate Crinkle cookies and apparently were actually Betty’s cookies (Betty Crocker).

I was so excited.  I called mom and told her I’d be making Dorthy’s cookies for Christmas. That night I mixed the batter together and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  The next day I baked them…and they were perfect!  Christmas was complete!

It’s funny how a cookie can mean so much to a family, but it’s true.  They really do.  And this year was no different.  In fact, a couple weeks ago, as I was mixing up the dough (a double batch) my sister stopped over.  When she saw the dough being mixed, her eyes got huge!  She begged me to bake a pan early, so she could have a couple.  One pan turned to two pans, and then my brother stopped over…and they were gone as soon as I took them out of the oven.

These cookies are definitely something special…

Aside from putting the cookies on the cookie plate this year, I also included a package of them in the gift baskets I made for my family.  I even got my niece involved, and she helped roll them in the sugar.

We celebrate together on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas day I recieved a text message from my brother that said:  “I ate all of the cookies you made by myself.  Please make me more.”  …and that makes me smile.  I’m sure Dorthy would be happy too!

Find Dorthy’s recipe HERE.

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Macarons for My Husband

I love macarons!  I’m not talking about those coconut things people always make for Christmas either. Those are Macaroons, and they are okay, sure, but they don’t even hold a candle to the French Macaron!  The french macaron is a dainty, chewy little piece of heaven.  After one bite your life will be changed.  You will never want another cookie again!  You think I’m kidding, I’m sure, but I most definitely would not kid about Macarons!  They are my favorite cookie because they taste so yummy but also because they are a pain the ass to make.  Is that weird?  I don’t know.  I love the challenge.

So often when you make macarons something goes wrong.  The tops crack and they look weird with no feet or the shells get a funny bump on the top of them.  The shells might look grainy or maybe the cookie isn’t as chewy as it should be. I’ve tried so many ways to make macarons and I think I have finally found what works for me.  I really liked BraveTart’s recipe.  It works for me and even allows me to throw in extra ingredients too.  I often forget to add the salt (oops) but I haven’t noticed that it affects the taste or the success of the macaron.

The Recipe: (adapted from BraveTart)

4 ounces (115g) blanched almonds or almond flour, or whatever nut you like
8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar
5 ounces egg whites (144g), temperature and age not important*!
2 1/2 ounce (72g) sugar
the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2g) salt

*I find that using egg whites that are a couple days old and brought to room-temperature give me the most consistent results.  I’ve used fresh whites that were still chilled before too.  Sometimes they work great, most of the time my shells crack.   I also noticed that after I pipe the macarons,

letting them sit for about an hour really helps to prevent cracking.  The meringue gets a little dry and this helps the macaron keep its beautiful smooth top (and bottom).

I bake them at 300 degrees and hope for the best.  Usually I sit by the oven watching them for the first minute.  I can usually tell if they’ll crack or grow little feet by then.  This is what you want to see:

See how the shell is rising? There is a little fluffy part at the bottom? That fluffy part is what you want, it's called the "feet"

So the other day Piyush told me that he wanted some macarons.  We made a deal.  If he cleaned the cat litter box, I would make him any flavor macarons he wanted.  He loves chocolate ganache so he chose for me to make him chocolate macarons with dark chocolate espresso ganache.  They were delicious but the coffee flavor was way too strong for me.

I made the basic macaron recipe and added a couple spoonfuls of cocoa powder to the almond flour.  I didn’t add any food coloring to the shells because I figured the cocoa would give it a decent tint—and I was out of brown food coloring.  I made the ganache by melting chocolate with some espresso and heavy cream on a double boiler.

They didn’t turn out as smooth and pretty as I would like but right in the middle of mixing everything up I got some phone calls and had to figure out our home insurance stuff, so the macarons were neglected when they needed me the most.

Gosh, owning a home is a lot of work and it’s confusing too.  We changed insurance companies and whoever I spoke with at the mortgage company last month gave me the wrong department and fax number to have the new binder sent to.  We called a few times to verify everything was received and  that our new insurance company was on file and we were assured it was all correct.  WRONG! Although they received the binder and had it on file, the department that needed it never received it so our previous insurance company was paid a tremendous amount of money for a policy that didn’t even exist anymore.  We had to get the refund and figure everything out.  Annoying!  It’s fixed now and I’m glad that we realized what happened before we leave the country next month!

Piyush, happy to be eating Macarons after work!

Oh, the other thing about Macarons… even if the shell cracks and they don’t look as pretty as you’d like, they still taste better than anything you’ve ever tasted!