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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here I am with some basic chocolate chip cookies. No lavender or exotic nuts added, just the classic cookies. But the thing about chocolate chip cookies is that there’s no ‘basic’ or ‘normal.’

Everyone has a different vision, or at least a preference for how the perfect cookie should be.

That’s why it’s always fun to give the old Google a spin and type in, ‘perfect chocolate chip cookies.’ Oh, did you guys all use the same recipe? I’d accuse the baking community of being sneaky, but none of these cookies look the same.

When it comes to variety, I’ve really tried every trick in the book to get the perfect cookie. I’ve followed the classic back-of-the-bag recipes, gone by eye with adding the dry ingredients, and even added a little cornstarch.

But for some reason I have never been able to settle. This is partly because of an optimistic idea I have that the best cookies ever have yet to come out of my oven, and they will with time.

However, I’m pretty sure I’m haunted by some not-so-good batches I’ve made in the past. Everyone knows a dry cookie that you finish and think…hm, maybe I’d rather just have raw cookie dough?

Of course, even with a good cookie this is still valid emotion. Being the official cookie dough taste-tester is God’s gift to bakers everywhere.
Chocolate Chip Cookies Homemade Sweet Spree

When I saw this recipe poking around the Internet, I wanted to give it a try. I’ve had a lot of success with chilling the dough as well as adding cornstarch. And they did turn out really well. I always strive for a chewy middle and crisper edges and these do not disappoint.

Are they perfect? Is there perfect? I don’t know, ask Google.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ sticks (6 oz) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ dark chocolate, chop coarsely

Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the cooled melted butter and the sugars with a hand-mixer for about one minute. Then, add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat until just combined.
  3. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix briefly, just until there are no flour clumps left. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to an hour.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 325 degrees, making sure you have the racks in the middle of the oven.
  6. Scoop heaping tablespoons of cookie dough at a time and roll into balls. Form the dough into an upside down traffic cone shape that still stands up. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure the cookies have plenty of space to spread.
  7. Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating half-way through, or until the cookies have spread out and the edges are golden, but the center of the cookie still looks soft and just slightly under-cooked. Let cool on the baking sheets until the cookies are firm enough to remove. Every oven is different, so I recommend starting with just one or two cookies on the tray to see what baking time works best for you!
  8. Repeat with remaining batches, until all cookies are baked.

Adapted from The Best Chewy Café-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

 
Oreos

Oreos

Confession time: I love Oreos.
I don’t always admit to myself that processed wafers stuffed with an ambiguous cream make me happy. And really, to be properly enjoyed, an Oreo must have a good slather of peanut butter. (The most sugary, unnatural kind. This is dessert you know).
Even I don’t understand how a chocolate and cream fanatic can enjoy this extremely basic treat. But here I am?
Confession number two: The other night I somehow ended up watching Oreo taste tests on YouTube.
It’s summer, okay? I’m allowed to watch strangers on the Internet enjoy caramel apple and birthday cake flavored cookies.
In this web excursion, I knew I wasn’t going to survive the week without recreating this cookie. So I did.
Homemade Oreos Original
This is what happens when you come home from college for the summer. The freedom gets to you. Oh, you want to make Oreos right now? You can!
[Cut to a later scene of me rolling out the last of the dough, as well as my patience.]
These are pretty close representations in terms of taste and texture. The cookie recipe is pretty simple, and the cream is actually a sugar paste.
When you make your own Oreos you have the freedom to take on the cream myth. Nabisco, are you really going to argue that “double stuffed” are in fact, double stuffed? I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a mind game because those “double stuffed” cookies look single stuffed to me.

Despite this process being a bit tedious, it’s quite pleasing to see your efforts come together in a neat cookie (or a million, which is how many I made).
(And you should eat this many, because think of all the chemicals you’re not ingesting that normally inhabit Oreos! #cleaneating #notreallythough #fitfam?)
I hope you all had a lovely long weekend! Enjoy this amazing weather!

Also…sidenote. I used whole wheat flour (all I had) which contributed to the texture of the cookies. Gotta love the specks, right?

Oreos

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tps baking powder
  • 2 sticks of salted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs water (+/-)
  • For the Cream
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 1 tbs water, if needed

Instructions

  1. Begin by creaming the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and well combined
  2. Add in egg and vanilla and mix briefly until just combined
  3. Sift dry ingredients together, then mix into the wet
  4. If dough does not come together, add in water by tablespoon
  5. Finish needing dough and separate into 2 slabs. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour
  6. Roll out dough to 1/4" thickness and cut into circles (I used a tea canister for a cutout!)
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes. As a rule, they'll probably take less time than you think. Don't wait for crisp edges, take out when they have just set.
  8. For the cream, mix cooled, melted butter with powdered sugar and vanilla until a dough forms. If the dough is too thick add in water by the tablespoon. If it is too thin add in more sugar.
  9. Roll the dough into a cylinder roughly the same size as your cookies will be. Refrigerate until firm. When ready to use, remove and slice. Assemble cookies! Enjoy.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Somehow I always have a strange and intense craving for Buckeyes during the summer. I hop on a plane and camp out by their stadium with all my gear on just hoping to catch a satisfying glimpse of one of the players. Unfortunately I usually just end up with another jersey.
Okay, as you may have guessed from the photos the Buckeyes I’m actually referring to are the chocolate and peanut butter holiday treats that I can never get out of my head.
These mini desserts are best described as an amped up, homemade Reese Peanut butter cup rolled into a ball. The name actually does derive from their resemblance to the Ohio Buckeye tree, so I guess Ohio is not totally irrelevant here. And yes, while they are normally served in the colder months, I find them all too appropriate for summer. This is because you can serve them chilled, and that my friends, is pretty amazing.
So you might be asking yourself, why is she talking about Buckeyes when all I see are some bars above? Given my klutzy tray and dipping skills, the balls don’t always work out the best. And to be honest, I always end up dropping a few. This time around I decided to use similar ingredients but transform them into bars. Insert chocolate peanut butter bars. In addition to being a lot easier (no ball rolling), I upped the basic chocolate section to a ganache. This works better with the consistency of the peanut butter layer, and now this dessert is just way too easy to make at any time. That’s your warning, okay? But whether you make these bars, or buckeyes, or are simply too lazy and go buy a Reese’s cup (boo) I think most can agree the chocolate and peanut butter will always be magical together.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Ingredients

  • 11/2 cups peanut butter
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine vanilla, peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar with a mixer until homogenous and creamy.
  2. Place mixture in the bottom of a parchment lined pan (8x8 works well for this recipe). Chill.
  3. Meanwhile in a saucepan bring heavy cream just to a boil. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl, stirring rapidly. When chocolate has melted, cover and place the ganache in the fridge to chill.
  4. When the ganache is not completely hard but begins to thicken pour over the peanut butter layer. If it is too thick it will not spread and if it is too hot it will melt the peanut butter. The temperature can be adjusted by either leaving it out or chilling it.
  5. Place the bars in the fridge or freezer until chocolate is firm. When mixture is chilled remove the bars by the sides of the parchment and cut into small squares with a sharp knife. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Chocolate Cake with Cream and Cherry Sauce

Chocolate Cake with Cream and Cherry Sauce

I love a good chocolate cake. And when I say “good” I don’t mean the dry lump you sometimes get at birthday parties or the supermarket because that lump has no place in my heart.
And in my time as a baker I’ve tried out a good amount of recipes. I’ve frequented sour cream chocolate cakes, and cakes with ingredients that are basically equivalent to a brownie, and of course a few million boxes of good ole’ Betty. (Ugh, Betty).
But something my mom and I have both found is tha this recipe, yes this one, is pretty much always fantastic. Something about either the boiling water or just the recipe itself has always yielded a rich and super moist chocolate cake.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake with Fresh Cream and Cherry Sauce
However, you might not believe that this recipe is in fact on the Hershey’s Cocoa Powder box. It doesn’t even have melted chocolate in it, and still retains a wonderful flavor. This is especially good considering an innocent bag of chocolate chips has a shelf life of about 1 day in my household. (But I can’t say I’m not to blame?)
This time around I really put this recipe to the test. I used whole-wheat flour and honey instead of white sugar. To be honest I did not expect anything close to the normal result, yet, there I was, impressed by the back of the cocoa powder container again.
We also had a bunch of cherries in the house so I figured I’d make a cherry sauce, which is a lot easier to make than it sounds. With a little whipped cream and the sauce, this was definitely well received. I could eat some right. Now. Want to make it for me?
Cake recipe adapted from Hershey’s

Chocolate Cake with Cream and Cherry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup Hershey's Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Cherry Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted or sliced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
  4. For Cherry Sauce
  5. In a small saucepan heat water and honey over medium high heat, stirring. Stir until mixture is homogenous and a syrup/combination has formed.
  6. Add in Cherries and vanilla and adjust the heat to low. Cover on a low boil for about 20-30 min or until your ideal syrup has formed. Serve warm or cool and reheat.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake with Fresh Cream and Cherry Sauce

Healthy Key Lime Pie

Healthy Key Lime Pie

I always enjoy making healthy alternatives to heart attack-worthy desserts because it’s challenging and sometimes rewarding. But my family members are not always fans. And I have to admit, these desserts can go very wrong, very quickly. I’m looking at you, pumpkin quinoa cookies (oompa-loompa cookies). Sometimes they look and taste…awful.

However, some of these desserts come out fantastic and make me consider giving up ingredients that are delicious, but not doing anything good to my body. This key lime pie was simple to make and actually tasted amazing. Everyone thought it was pretty neat to replace sweet and condensed milk, which usually makes your typical key lime pie, with healthier ingredients. Despite the pie’s low stature (whoops) the taste is on point, and I highly recommend it. Otherwise, I would also recommend buying or saving some coconut cream for a whipped topping, pictured is just conventional whipped cream. Another interesting addition would be to top it with unsweetened toasted coconut!
Additionally, this recipe is grain, dairy and processed sugar free. And it has avocado! So what’s not to love?

Healthy Avocado Coconut Key Lime Pie

Note: For separating the coconut milk I recommend letting it chill and then opening up the can upside down and letting the oil part drain out! It’s a lot easier than blindly poking a spoon in the cream end.

Healthy Key Lime Pie

Ingredients

    Filling
  • 2 cans coconut milk, chilled with the cream separated
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and mashed
  • 4 tbs lime juice
  • 2 tps lime zest, more for garnish
  • 2 tbs honey
  • Crust
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 1 cup nuts (used a combination of walnuts and almonds)

Instructions

  1. Pulse nuts and raisins in the food processor until smooth. Feel free to add other ingredients such as coconut or a nut butter.
  2. Press into a springform non-stick tart pan, chill while prepping filling
  3. In a large bowl mix lime juice, avocado, coconut cream, honey and zest. See note for coconut cream tip.
  4. Mix all until creamy and well combined, adding more or less honey and lime juice to taste.
  5. Spoon batter over chilled crust and chill for 3 hours or freeze until firm. Top pie with extra zested lime and or whipped topping of choice. Enjoy!

Raspberry French Macarons

Raspberry French Macarons

Something about these cookies makes people go nuts. Myself included. Maybe it’s because they look as sweet as they taste, or that they’re difficult to make, or maybe it’s that they are French (because let’s face it…they’re good at food).
The idea of making French macarons at home seems a little foreign to the usual baking crowd, and I don’t blame them. These cookies are not easy at all. The main indicator of success is the “foot” of the macaron, or the little ridges on the sides. To this day I’ve made the cookies 3 times and only the most recent time (this batch) had feet. You can imagine my excitement, and you can also imagine how strange my Dad must have felt about me babbling about “feet!”

Raspberry French Macarons
There are a few different ways to make these cookies, but a lot of the tricks are pretty consistent. If you make them you have to be hyper aware during each step ensuring that you sift correctly, don’t overmix, don’t undermix and wait till the cookies are tacky before baking. It’s a lot of little steps and then you have to wait to bake them. I’ll tell you one thing, if you don’t get the feet you may or may not feel like dumping the tray in the trash after all the work. But the good news is that all renditions of this cookie (feet or not) taste pretty delicious.
I followed Beth Le Manach of Entertaining With Beth’s macaron recipe video. She has a great recipe and great tips. However, I also recommend spending some time on Youtube to get a sense of other’s tips and tricks and unique flavors.

(And recipe credit goes to Beth Le Manach)

Raspberry Macarons

Ingredients

  • 3 Egg Whites
  • ¼ cup white sugar (50 g)
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar (200 g)
  • 1 cup almond flour (120 g)
  • pinch of salt
  • Raspberry Buttercream
  • 1/2 cup salted butter (60g)
  • 3-4 cups powdered sugar (75 g)
  • 1/2 cup (150 g) fresh raspberries, worked through a sieve to extract 3 tbsp of juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300F degrees. Beat egg whites until foamy, then add salt, cream of tartar and white sugar for 8-10 mins.
  2. Eggwhites should be room temp. To create room temp eggs, submerge in warm water for 5 mins.
  3. Whip until they form a peak that stands upright. Add food coloring when peaks are almost stiff.
  4. Sift almond flour, and powdered sugar once or twice. Discard large lumps of almond.
  5. Fold flour/sugar mixture into the egg white mixture. Under mix and your macaroons will be lumpy and cracked when the bake with no feet, over mix and your macaroons will be flat and won't have feet, the mark of a well-made macaron. 65-75 turns of your spatula when folding is about the right amount of time.
  6. Transfer batter to a pastry bag. Pipe out 1 inch rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Tap the pan hard at least 2-3 times to release the air bubbles. This will prevent the tops of your macaroons from cracking.
  7. Let them sit out for 20-30 mins, or up to an hour if you want. This will allow them time to dry out a bit before hitting the hot oven. They should be "tacky" to the touch, but not stick to your fingertips.
  8. Bake for 20 mins, ensuring that they are down and will not stick to the tray.
  9. For The Buttercream
  10. Whip butter with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Slowly add sugar.
  11. Place sieve on top of a bowl the same size. Work raspberries through the sieve with a spatula, pushing them through, mashing them around until you extract their juice. You want 3 tablespoons of juice.
  12. Add juice to buttercream, and whip until combined. Transfer to a pastry bag, fitted with a small tip (about ¼ " in diameter) Reverse cookie shells on their backs, and pipe a small mound of filling on one of them.
  13. Refrigerate if not serving, bring to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!

Raspberry French Macarons