But Sugar is Sweeter

Cookie

Salted Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hi y’all.  So it has been about 2 years …eeek. Sorry about that.  There have been  new jobs, new cities, new friends, lots of vacations, and 2 dog surgeries that have happened since then, but I have been cooking the whole time! I decided to start an instagram account (@spicenice), more for a personal way to keep a log of things I have made and liked; but I got a request for this chocolate chip cookie recipe and I figured, why not start blogging again!

I made these cookies for a very specific purpose – to give to the wonderful workers at Pet Palace, who saved our dear dog Houston’s life by recognizing immediately that something was wrong with our normally bubbly and light hearted pup, and got him to the vet ASAP. They really couldn’t have been more wonderful  – between covering the initial diagnostic vet bill, to transporting him all the way across town to where he could have the needed emergency surgery done, to just generally loving our pup, we are really grateful. And so I figured they deserved a special cookie. Chocolate chip will forever be my favorite (and the most popular); but how can you make it even better….brown butter and flakey sea salt, that’s how. These were really good.  I actually consider it a serious win on the new years resolutions that I managed to only eat 2.  Enjoy, and hopefully you’ll be hearing from me again soon!

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Salted Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 and 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons milk

1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

One bag semisweet chocolate chip cookies

Fleur de Sel or flaky sea salt

Instructions

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until it is frothy and browned, about 7-8 minutes or so (the browning process goes quickly once it starts so watch it carefully.)

2.  Transfer the butter to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature, or place in fridge to help the process.

3.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.

4. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the browned butter and both types of sugar, until smooth and light, about 7 minutes. This will only work if you have let the butter cool completely.

5. Add in the whole egg, the egg yolk, milk, and the vanilla.

6. Decrease the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients.

7. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

8. Cover the cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

9. The next day, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.

10. Using a cookie dough scoop, place about 2-3 Tablespoons of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each cookie individual with flakey sea salt. For thinner cookies let the dough reach room temperature before baking.

11. Bake each cookie sheet until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom, about 12-14 minutes or so.  Because of they previously browned butter they brown quickly so check yours accordingly.

Adapted from:  The Curvy Carrot, Originally from Food and Wine magazine,  June 2012 issue.

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Funfetti Sugar Cookie Bars

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In case you missed it, the super bowl was this weekend, and…it. was. amazing.  While I will never give up hope of seeing a Browns super bowl in my lifetime, the caliber of the patriots vs. seahawks game really made appreciate ‘Merica. Also, can we please talk about that half time show?  While I am by no means being unfaithful to my one true love (Taylor Swift), Katy Perry did a phenomenal job.   The whole thing was American entertainment at its finest.

We had a small get together at our house, in the midst of a terrible snow storm. There may or may not have been multiple difficulties getting both in and out of the driveway, but everyone (amazingly and thankfully) made it both here and back safely.  Thanks for braving the weather for us!  There was lots of food, including my all time favorite pizza bites, and of course these cookie bars.

I picked these because they were relatively simple and can be made with ingredients you probably have lying around the house – butter, sugar and sprinkles -so they are perfect for a snow day.   I actually used left over halloween sprinkles for the inside, and then some left over stars for the topping.  What I like most about these bars is that they can so easily be adapted for any holiday depending on the sprinkles you choose.  With valentine’s day around the corner, there may be another batch coming up shortly (I’m sure no one will protest). IMG_5768

Funfetti Sugar Cookie Bars

adapted from  Smells Like Home
Makes one 13×9 inch pan

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbs sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish and set aside.

Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the vanilla.
Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl along with the sprinkles and mix by hand until flour is just incorporated. On low speed, combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing until blended.
Lightly press the dough into the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. The bars will still look pale with barely a hint of browning around the edges.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to allow the bars to cool completely in the pan.

Whipped Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream (substitute sour cream if unavailable)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for 6 to 8 minutes on medium speed; it will be very pale and light. Add in the sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt and mix on low for 1 minute and then on medium speed for 6 minutes; the frosting will be very light and fluffy. If using food coloring, blend it in until it is fully incorporated.
Use an offset spatula to frost the fully-cooled bars in the pan.  Use a sharp knife to slice them into your desired size and shape, garnish with more sprinkles, and serve.

 

 


Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

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While it may be the end of October, it’s certainly not the end of fall inspired treats.  I made these for a trip down to Lexington to see some of our best friends, and they were definitely a big hit.  I knew Samiya in particular would like them because, well, because they’re cute and little and involve pumpkin! Moving to a new place, with new people, has really made me miss the awesome friends we had in med school.   Following college, I moved to Louisiana with three crazy awesome roommates, and there was pretty much a constant source of entertainment and adventure at our house (and in Louisiana in general).  Then in medical school, our apartment complex was basically like a grown-up college dorm, where study groups, dinner parties and watching people play video games was always only a step away.  It’s a lot different now,  living in a neighborhood, with friends scattered all over, and schedules that are completely different because of residency.  But I guess that’s just part of growing up, and it’s not so bad.
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Now these pumpkin whoopie pies were described as a pumpkin cupcake in a different form, and I’d say that’s pretty close to accurate!  The batter is a bit more dense than a cupcake, but just as moist, and the filling is strikingly similar.  Truthfully, can you go wrong with cream cheese frosting?  I really liked these because they are visually appealing, and easy to eat…which turned out to be both a good and bad thing.  Just glad I had people to help me finish them off :-).
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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Makes approximately 36 sandwiches

For the pumpkin cookies:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the maple cream cheese filling:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, cold
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the pumpkin cookies, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and spices.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk sugars and oil together.  Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly.  Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.

Transfer the cookie batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip.  Pipe small rounds of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1½-2 inches in diameter. If desired, smooth the top of cookies with a few drops of water and the bottom of a spoon.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pan for about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Repeat with remaining batter.

To make the filling, combine the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-heat speed until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Be careful not to overbeat the filling or it will lose structure, if this occurs refrigerate for 20 minutes. Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip.

To assemble, pair the cookies up by size.  Pipe filling onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair, and sandwich together with the remaining cookie.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm before serving.

Adapated from Annie’s Eats


Chocolate Oatmeal Moon Pies

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These babies have been on my “To Make” list for a long time, but they are the kind of cookie that you absolutely cannot make unless you have people to share them with (or have better will power than myself ).  So when our friend planned a dinner party, , I immediately knew that I wanted to bring these. Everyone enjoyed them, but I think they are a new personal favorite of mine.  The cookie itself is to die for.  If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making the whole sandwich, just make the cookies-  you won’t be sorry.  They have chocolate chunks, pecans, dried cherries, oatmeal and brown sugar.

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Then sandwiched between that goodness is a marshmallow frosting.  If you really want to get fancy, you could try toasted marshmallow frosting instead.   And if you aren’t drooling yet, on top of all that is a dark chocolate ganache.  The only problem I had with these  was that they are very messy if you try to eat them right after making them.  For a more refined dessert, just place them in a fridge for at least an hour before serving.  And since these taste so good cold, I think chocolate oatmeal ice cream sandwiches are in store for later this summer.  Perhaps I will make some toasted marshmallow ice cream to go with them – because a cookie as fabulous as this can’t settle for plain old vanilla.

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Chocolate Cherry Pecan Oatmeal Moon Pies

Makes about 20 large sandwich cookies

For the cookies:

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. coarse salt
  • 2¼ cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries, chopped
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 4 oz. chocolate chunks
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 6 oz. marshmallow fluff
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the drizzle: 

  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk to blend, and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, cherries, pecans, and chocolate.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the flour mixture, beating just until incorporated.  Fold in the oat mixture with a spatula until incorporated.

Use a scant ice cream scoop or a 1 oz cookie scoop to shape dough balls.  Place the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing each 2-3 inches apart.  Bake for 14-18 minutes, until cookies are light brown in color.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the filling, place the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Blend in the confectioners’ sugar until incorporated.  Beat in the marshmallow fluff and vanilla until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

Match the cookies up in pairs by size.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip with the marshmallow filling.  Pipe a dollop of filling onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair, and sandwich the cookies together, pushing the filling to the edges.

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat.  Once simmering, remove from the heat and immediately pour over the chocolate.  Let stand 1-2 minutes.  Whisk in small circular motions until a smooth ganache has formed.  Whisk in the butter until completely incorporated.  Let the mixture stand at room temperature until slightly thickened, about 10 -20 minutes.  Drizzle over the assembled cookies.  Chill to set the ganache and stabilize the filling.

Adapted from Annie’s Eats


Lime Coconut White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

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Phew, that was a long title.  But these cookies deserve it.  Now before you go clicking away because this recipe doesn’t include real chocolate, let it be known that I, a dark chocolate is aways better kind of gal, really  love these cookies.  I bookmarked them a few weeks ago because they sounded like an interesting variation to the monotony of chocolate chip, but when the weather reached 80 degrees in March (in Ohio!), I really had no choice but to make tropical cookies.   I also reasoned that  since I’m not a huge white chocolate-macadamia nut lover, these cookies would be safe to have around the house.  Ha.  I wish I could tell you that I didn’t eat 6 for breakfast one day.

After that incident, I was almost afraid to make them again,  but I also felt guilty letting the left over macadamia nuts go to waste (they were the most expensive part of the cookie).  So I decided to make a half batch the second time around.  Well wouldn’t you know-  when I went to toast the leftover macadamia nuts, I burnt them to a crisp.  I swear, one moment they were white, and 20 seconds later they were black.  What can I say, “I got it from my momma”.  Toasting nuts just isn’t in our blood :-).  But since I had all the other ingredients mixed together, I decided to improvise with some slivered almonds.  The cookies still turned out pretty amazing so if you are trying to cut cost, try some slivered almonds as a substitute.  Also don’t be afraid (like I was)  about putting 2 tablespoon of lime zest, you need at least the entire rind from one lime just to get some lime flavor.  If you can imagine what a lime pina colada would taste like, I think it would be these cookies.  They will definitely be making a reappearance this summer – barbecues, pool parties, breakfasts, etc.
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Lime Coconut White Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies 

  • 2 cups flour, spooned lightly into measuring cups and leveled with knife
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled until luke warm
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coconut (toasted or untoasted)
  • 1 cup toasted macadamia nuts
  • 1 1/2-2 tablespoons grated lime zest (1-2 limes)

Melt 10 tablespoons of the unsalted butter, then add the remaining two tablespoons and stir until smooth (This helps the butter return to room temperature quickly).

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix until combined.

Add white chocolate chips, coconut, macadamia nuts, and lime zest.  Mix to distribute.

Scoop cookie dough into large balls and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake until cookies are set around outer edges, yet centers are still soft and puffy, and appear slightly under-baked, about 10-12 minutes.  Cool cookies on cookie sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

Source:  Our Best Bites


Chocolate Sugar Cookies for Valentines Day

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Happy Valentine’s Day!  Let this post be my contract that next year I will actually get these cookies made ahead of time so that 1) you can actually make them in time for Valentine’s day if you wish, 2) I won’t be writing this post at 11 pm when I have to get up at 4:30 for surgery tomorrow), and 3) so that I can actually get them in the mail to some people in time for the holiday.  I had to laugh when I looked back at my Valentine’s  post from last year and realized I stated almost the exact same thing (you’d think I’d learn to plan ahead….this is clearly a difficult concept for me).

I’ll admit that the multiple layers of royal icing that was required for these cookies was a little bit more than I had planned for, but the cookies themselves are quite easy and completely delicious.  Besides, if you don’t want to go to the trouble of icing, try sprinkling powdered sugar or topping with Nutella + sprinkles.  The mixture of a chocolate with a touch of cinnamon added a really nice layer of complexity to this cookie.  I still think the conversation heart cookies are one of the most clever Valentine’s ideas, but you can really never have too many Valentine’s cookies, can you?

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Chocolate Cutout Cookies

Makes about 18-20 large heart cut-outs

  • 2-1/4 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (I used Dutch processed)*
  • 1 cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 whole Large Egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 sticks (1 Cup) Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • Icing, powdered sugar or Nutella for finishing

Preparation Instructions

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa powder in a bowl. Whisk together and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add flour/cocoa mixture in two or three batches, mixing well after each addition.

Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To make to cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from bag and place on a floured surface.  You may need to let the dough warm up for several minutes to make rolling easier.  Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness and cut with a heart cutter.

Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Bake for 12 minutes, or until set (but not browning at all.) Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Ice as desired, using royal icing, sifted powdered sugar, or Nutella (yummm).


Snowball Cookies for Daddy-O

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I thought about telling you all sooner, but I was too beside myself when I first found out to write something that would even come close to describing how I was feeling.   In all honesty I still don’t know what to say.  My dad passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on November 30, 2011.  These past few weeks have been very difficult, but I want to thank everyone for your kind words, actions, thoughts and prayers.  I have been so comforted by the love others have shown me and my family.

I used to talk to my Dad almost everyday on my way home from school.  I had just been talking to him on  about how excited I was to be starting my internal medicine rotation, because it was my dad’s specialty and I was really looking forward to being able to discuss it with him.  Just on Monday he had explained the mechanism, symptoms, diagnostic tests and treatment of pleural effusions to me.   I had told him to get excited for Christmas, and I had even mentioned how I was planning to make a bunch of cookies  including his favorite – these snowballs.  I have such found memories of my dad sneaking into the cookie tins in the kitchen to get just one more cookie.  I can even remember John joking with him last Christmas, “Ahhh, now I see where Jacqueline gets her sweet tooth from,” as my dad was slyly removing yet another powdered sugar covered cookie and plopping the  whole thing in his mouth.  (Personally I always thought these were more like 2 bite cookies – but he seemed to think differently :-)). 

So Daddy-O, these are for you…

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Snowball Cookies

Makes  8-9 dozen cookies

  • 1 ½ cups butter, softened (3 sticks)
  • 1/4 cup crisco
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 c. finely chopped nuts*
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • Powdered sugar for rolling

*Pecans are my favorite, but walnuts work too

1. Cream butter, crisco and sugar.  Add nuts, vanilla, flour.

2. Work all the flour in using your hands.  Roll into a large ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate several hours, or overnight. Dough can also be made ahead of time and frozen, just thaw enough to handle before using.

3. Before baking, preheat oven to 300º.

4. Remove ball from refrigerator and allow dough to sit long enough until able to handle.  Roll  into smaller than walnut sized balls – small is better.  Remember they will be slightly bigger once they are covered with powered sugar. 

6. Place cookies about 1 inch apart on an un-greased cookie sheet.

7.Turn oven down to 275° and bake cookies for 30-35 minutes, or until very light in color.  Cool for about 15 minutes then roll in powdered sugar to help sugar stick.  They can be re-rolled in powered sugar before serving.

From my favorite Christmas cookbook: Christmas from Heart of the Home, by Susan Branch

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