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Bird’s Nest Cookies

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Most of my readers probably know by now that I’m a Christian.  What might surprise you is that I don’t celebrate Christmas and Easter as Christian holidays.  We do the secular stuff with our families, exchanging gifts, hunting for baskets, but we do not recognize any affiliation of those holiday traditions with our faith.  We recognize Christ as our savior, remember his birth, life, death, and resurrection, but we do not do it just because it’s Easter or just because it’s Christmas–holidays that ultimately have pagan roots and nothing to do with Christ, despite the emphasis put on Him during this time by many. Not that I despise that emphasis, it’s actually refreshing, but we choose to keep these holidays secular while keeping our focus on Christ year-round.  Make sense?

*crickets chirping*

Hello?  Is anyone left?  Hopefully I didn’t lose everyone by starting out on such a serious note.  I have lots of thoughts on this subject…and maybe I should share them some day.  I was thinking about starting a “my faith” page on my blog where I can file my thoughts on spiritual matters in more detail.  Let me know if you’d be interested.

Anyway, whether you celebrate Easter or not, these moist chocolate macaroons shaped into nests with white chocolate truffle “eggs” are a perfect spring-time treat!  I made these a couple years ago and nearly forgot about them until I ran across the photos I took.  Perfect timing!  I hope you enjoy them, I know our family did!

Bird’s Nest Cookies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 squares (2 oz) unsweetened baking chocolate
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 (14 oz) bag sweetened shredded coconut
16 to 18 white chocolate Lindt Lindor balls (2 bags), or other egg-shaped candies

Move the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 275 degrees. Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Melt baking chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave on high 30 seconds at a time. Stir after each stop until melted; set aside.  With a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the egg whites on high until stiff and glossy. Add the salt, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and chocolate. Beat until mixed. Stir in the coconut and hazelnuts. Scoop into mounds with a small (size 24) ice-cream scoop or a 1/4th cup dry measuring cup. Place on cookie sheets and make an indent in the middle with your thumb.

Place both cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Switch the cookies to the opposite shelf halfway through baking. This will prevent over-browning. Meanwhile, unwrap the candy.

Move cookies to a cooling rack and allow to sit for five minutes, or until they are barely warm to the touch. If you place the truffles on top while they are more than barely warm, they will melt into goo. If you are using candies with a shell, wait until the cookies are cool to place them on top, or the shells will crack. For the truffles, working quickly, set the Lindt balls on top of the cookies. Let cool completely. The Lindt balls may drip a little so you may want to place a sheet of parchment underneath the cookies.

*To toast the hazelnuts, place them in a small bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir, and microwave another 30 seconds. Immediately rub together in a paper towel to remove a little of the excess skin. Leave most of the skin on. Chop coarsely and set aside.

Makes 16 to 18 large cookies.

Recipe source: The Cooking Photographer

Question of the day: if you celebrate Easter, what are your favorite traditions?  Our family (technically Den’s family–mine doesn’t really celebrate) always does a Easter basket hunt, even for the adults. I love hiding them almost as much as finding them! :)


Cookie Brittle

All right, it’s the last day of cookie week!  Here’s another great recipe from Marina, and as with all her recipes, this one is a winner.  (Literally, the woman has hundreds of ribbons for her baking!)  These cookies are exactly what the title suggests.  Cookie brittle is the perfect cross of cookie and brittle, is super crunchy, buttery, studded with toffee, and garnished with chocolate.  I bet these are great with the almonds, but I made mine without.  These are perfect for gifts!

Cookie Brittle

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 (7.8 oz) packages toffee candy bars, chopped fine
½ cup almonds, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine butter, vanilla and salt in medium bowl and beat with electric mixer until fluffy. Add flour, sugar, chopped toffee candy, and almonds if desired. Blend well. Press mixture into 15 x 11 inch cookie sheet with sides. Cover with waxed paper and flatten with rolling pin to edge of pan. Discard paper. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. While still hot, cut into diamonds or squares. Cool completely. Drizzle with chocolate if desired.

Recipe source: Marina C.

Chocolate Chip Macaroons

Jacqueline is in the front, kneeling on the far right.

After I started The Postcard Project, I went to and got the address for a female soldier in Afghanistan that I could correspond with.  (If you don’t know any soldiers that are currently serving, I recommend this site–it’s the only place I’ve found where you can get an address for a soldier you don’t know.)  Through our letters, I have come to understand how important mail is to soldiers.  I was moved by how happy I could make this woman just by sending her a few pages of my craziness, blabbing about things most people could care less about.  When she replied with her gratitude, answering all the questions I had asked and telling me about herself, I felt the connection we had made, all thanks to the Postal Service and the exchange of a few letters.

I asked her in my first letter if there was anything I could send her to make her happier while she was serving overseas.  She replied, much to my glee, that her team (I love how she said “her team” and not “I”–it just shows how selfless soldiers are) loves snacks, especially homemade, and if I could send some that would be great, but if not, “the letters are great also, it shows that someone really cares and values what we are doing.”

I don’t think she had any idea how happy her request for homemade snacks would make me. tells us not to send homemade goodies if the soldiers do not know us (for safety reasons, most likely), so I had not hoped that I could take my baking love out on her.  But she must have felt like she knew me after only one letter, and I couldn’t have been more delighted by her request.  My favorite way to make people happy is by making them goodies, so I literally was jumping up and down and squealing to my husband “she wants homemade snacks!!!” like I had just gotten a Kitchenaid stand mixer for Chrstimas.  I think it makes me happier to make and give the treats than it makes the people who receive them!

I did some research and found a good article on the best cookies to ship long distances, and macaroons were listed as a cookie that gets better with time, so I immediately decided I would be including some macaroons in the boxes.  (Yes, there were more than one.  I couldn’t help myself.)

So along with a batch of homemade butterfingers and 3 pounds of seasoned crackers, I included a tin of these chocolate chip macaroons.  I had saved a very simple & easy (also multiple blue ribbon-winning) recipe using sweetened condensed milk, and I kicked them up a notch by adding in some mini chocolate chips…because chocolate makes everything better.

These were wonderful fresh from the oven, and as promised by the article mentioned above, did taste even better the next day!  They are moist and chewy–nice and soft when warm from the oven, and more dense & rich the next day.  Hopefully they were like bites of nirvana by the time they made it to Jacqueline and her team, and from the feedback I got, they must have been close!

Chocolate Chip Macaroons

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (14 oz) package sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla, then stir in the coconut and chocolate chips with a spoon or your hands until well blended. The mixture will be very sticky. Refrigerate for two hours, or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat mat to prevent sticking (like I said, this dough is sticky!). Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about golf ball size. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until coconut is toasted. Cool completely on a wire rack and store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag(s).

Recipe source: adapted from Allrecipes

Turtle Cookies

Since this is my second cookie post in a row, and I have enough cookie recipes to share every day this week*, I’m officially declaring it “Cookie Love” week on Veronica’s Cornucopia!  Next to dog love, this is the best kind of love there is. ;)

*Except for Thursday, of course, when I will be doing my Thankful Thursdays feature.

These are the cookies I made for The Postcard Project Cookie Swap.  I had purchased a bag of Kraft Caramel Bits on sale, because I couldn’t resist the 75-cent sale price, even if I had no specific purpose in mind for them.  As with the Snickers and the Sneaky Snickers Cookies, thought maybe I could use them in my cookies for the swap.  My first idea was to use them in a vanilla dough with chocolate and pecans, and it turned out to be a great one!  These are now in my top five favorite cookies, for sure.

I based the dough off the recipe for these blue-ribbon chocolate chip cookies and just stirred in chocolate chips, toasted pecans, and the caramel bits.  I was surprised how something so simple (no browning of the butter, no toasting & grinding of oatmeal!) could be so wonderful.  Soft, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, gooey with caramel and studded with chocolate & pecans.  Just soooo wonderful.  If I do say so myself. :)

Turtle Cookies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
½ teaspoon white vinegar*
2 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup caramel bits
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped**

Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats to prevent the caramel from sticking.

Cream the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and vinegar together until light and fluffy, five minutes. Add the eggs and baking soda and beat until combined. Add the flour and mix just until combined. Add the chocolate chips, caramel bits, and pecans, and either stir them in or beat just until combined.

Using a cookie scoop, portion the dough out onto the cookie sheets, leaving an inch between cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes or just until the cookies are beginning to get golden brown around the edges. Remove and leave on pan for 5 minutes before removing cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

*The vinegar helps make the cookies tender. You can not taste it, as the extra baking soda neutralizes its flavor.

** To toast the pecans, place them in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between with fingers, until toasted and fragrant, 1-2 minutes total. Set aside to cool. Chop before using in recipe.


I wanted to share the cookies I received in this swap like I did yesterday for the ones I received in the blogger cookie swap.  Amber sent me four each of three kinds in a holiday tin (I had no idea you could ship in a tin–very cool!): gingerbread cut-outs, chai snickerdoodles, and spiral slice-and-bake cookies.

And check it out–I even got a stocking with my name on it! :)

The chai snickerdoodles were fantastic–they were (were because they have long since departed this world through my belly) all-butter snickerdoodles and instead of a plain cinnamon-sugar coating, there are other spices in the mix to give them a chai flavor.  I can’t even imagine how great these must be fresh from the oven!  However, despite their yumminess and being Amber’s favorite, I have to say my favorite in the tin was the spiral sliced cookies. I know, I’m so boring, but I just love a good sugar cookie (much like my favorite cake is white with white icing!) and these were perfect–nice and soft with a kiss of almond. Yum! Thanks, Amber!

Katie sent me two kinds of cookies, both recipes from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.  I was so tickled when Katie wrote that is her favorite baking blog because it is one of my favorites too–in fact, I think I trust Mel more than any other food blogger!  Her recipes have never failed me.

Katie sent me cranberry white chocolate cookies that she adapted from Mel’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Coconut:

These were nice and soft and chewy and I really loved the white chocolate and cranberry combo.

However, the other cookies Katie sent are the ULTIMATE and my favorite of ALL COOKIES SENT IN BOTH SWAPS.  Yes, I needed caps for that statement, that’s how strongly I feel about these cookies.  These are Mel’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, and they arrived tasting so fresh, I doubt they were any better the day she made them.

Seriously, just like with the Sneaky Snickers Cookies, I have been dying to make this recipe ever since I first laid eyes on it over a year ago.  But I was able to steer clear for the sake of my thighs.  Do you even understand how wonderful it was to receive just six of these cookies, the best cookies perhaps of all time, and maybe, just maybe, even better than my favorite cookies, so that I could savor them without risking my health by eating an entire batch made in my own kitchen?!?!?!  Thank you Katie, you rocked my world. :)

I haven’t received my third dozen yet, but as I wait patiently, I have a few cookies stashed in my freezer to keep me happy until it arrives.  See you tomorrow for a cookie that is perfect for shipping!

Sneaky Snickers Cookies

The Cooking Photographer posted this recipe over two years ago and her picture, with the caramel and peanuts oozing out, planted itself and made deep roots in my cranium.  Then she had to go and use that same picture in her website header, reminding me weekly how much I wanted to make them.

Well, as I may have mentioned before, cookies are my favorite food group (in my perfect world, yes, they would be a food group, and a prominent one), and as I may have also mentioned, I do not make treats that I REALLY like very often because I simply can not trust myself with them.  I knew I would be in trouble if I made these without a specific purpose in mind and without  a good reason to get rid of most of the batch.

That reason finally arrived with The Great Blogger Cookie Swap of 2011.  (If you missed this year’s, sign up to be notified of of next year’s swap here!)  I had just picked up a bunch of half price Halloween candy when I was brainstorming what kind of cookies I could make for the swap, and how I could use up some of the candy I bought and of course, the first thing I though of was Laura’s Sneaky Snickers Cookies.

Well, the batch made enough that there was still plenty for me to sample and go a little overboard on, but it was well worth it!  Soft peanut butter cookies surrounding a chewy chocolate, peanut, caramel, and nougat center is just a lovely combination.  I especially love them warm so that the middles are oozing gooey caramel when you bite into them, and might have kept a few for myself in the freezer to nuke in the microwave for cookie-craving emergencies.  They are so yummy!

Sneaky Snickers Cookies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 (11.5 ounce) bags Snickers Miniatures (Half a bag is for snacking during cookie making.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter, sugar, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla until light and fluffy, five minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until combined, another minute. Add the eggs and baking soda and beat until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Add the flour and beat until just incorporated. Don’t over-mix. Press plastic wrap down over the surface of the dough and refrigerate at least two hours before baking.

Unwrap 52 mini Snickers bars. Then with a standard cookie scoop (size 50), scoop the dough into your hand. Press the dough together and flatten. Place a Snickers bar in the center of the dough and push the dough around to seal, rolling into a ball.

Place cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and bake for about 12 minutes. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to cooling racks.

Recipe source: The Cooking Photographer, with slight changes in preparation method.


I wanted to share the cookies I received through this swap as well!  Click the blog links to get their recipes, which are posting today.

Christian of M.E. sent me these Carrot Cake Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing and they were a lifesaver.  It was 4 PM when I received them, and I hadn’t eaten anything all day.  I was running on empty and didn’t have time to stop and figure out something to eat.  I ripped into the cookies and ate half a dozen right away, which got me through to the party I was preparing for.  Thanks, Christian!

Check out the carrots, nuts & raisins these cookies were loaded with!

Lauren Brennan of Lauren’s Latest sent me these soft and buttery Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookie Stars (aren’t they beautiful?):

Julie M. of Burnt Carrots sent me my favorite batch of cookies, at least for the blogger swap.  Her Chocolate and Butterscotch Chip Cookies took me by surprise because I would have thought they had butterscotch chips in them, and maybe they do, but they also have toffee chips and I looooove toffee.  The combination of chocolate chips and toffee is a winner!

I also received cookies through my own cookie swap for non-bloggers, and will share those with tomorrow’s cookie recipe that I sent out for that swap!

Grandma’s Pie Crust Cookies

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Lacey, Mom, Me, Dad, and Grandma Davis, 1997

We all had a special someone or someone’s on our minds and hearts on Memorial Day and for me, that was my Grandma Davis, my paternal Grandmother.

Grandma and Grandpa Davis with their eight children. My Dad (front middle) was the surprise, born when Grandma was 45 and most of the other children were grown.

As a kid, I remember being annoyed when she telephoned because she would talk our ears off and at that age, I didn’t have the patience for it.  I remember listening to stories from her childhood while visiting her, often wishing I was outdoors playing instead.  I now wish I could do those years over and spend the time with her that she craved and that I long for now that it is too late.

Grandma (left) and a friend in 1961

I want to ask her what life was like during her childhood, during the Depression, and how she felt the first time she rode in a car.  (She was born in 1904.)  I want to hear more about the years when they had a farm and ranch in Nebraska and she cooked for all the ranch hands.  I vaguely recall a story she told me about stuffing mattresses with human hair, and now I burn with curiosity about it.  Was it hair from concentration camp victims during World War II?  Why was she stuffing mattresses with it?  I think I remember her saying that the government was letting poor people do it for free so they had something to sleep on.  Could this really be true?  At the time, all that really made an impression was the way she pronounced mattresses.  How sad, when obviously there was quite a compelling story there if I’d just had the interest to ask.

In Grandma Davis's arms the week of my birth, with Grandma Millner on my left and cousin Tammy on my right.

There were a few stories she told that did pique my interest, and they were usually the ones in which she was being ornery or rebellious.  I guess I held her up as a hero for these instances, like when she set her mother’s kitchen on fire as a child because she didn’t like the new curtains.  I thought that was brilliant, because I would have loved to take revenge on my mother for all manner of wrongs (mostly imagined) that she committed against me.  I also loved the story of how she punched her future husband when he tried to be a gentleman and pick her up and carry her over a puddle.  She was indignant because she was a self-sufficient woman that could walk over the puddle on her own two feet and didn’t need a man to show off for her in such a silly manner.  That really tickled me!  Or the story about when she punched him years later when she thought he was asleep, (apparently she had waited for this moment to punch him because he had made her mad!) and he bit her thumb when the punch landed.  Or the time when she found him gambling with his friends and started throwing rocks at them in a fury.

Meeting my Great-Grandma Gailey. Looks like we don't quite know what to make of each other! Grandma Davis, her daughter, is behind her and my Mom is holding me.

I guess my Grandma was a feisty lady!  But she also was incredibly loving.  She cried every time it was time for me and my sisters to go home and she loved having us stay with her.  Although I had no patience for her stories, I loved staying with her too because she let us watch all the TV we wanted, she always had tins of cookies and peanut butter crackers that I liked to sneak into, and I loved her cooking!  She made us things like pigs in blankets, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, and let us have angel food cake with whipped cream for dessert.  This was AMAZING food to a child that frequently dined on baked fish, plain salads (dressing was a no-no), lentils, and tofu sandwiches on Ezekiel 7-grain bread.

Grandma's yard in the 80s. Can you find the wind catcher she made out of a 7-up bottle?

Here it is, as clear as I can get it. She used to make a lot of these.

One of the things Grandma Davis taught me was not to waste anything, and that almost everything can be put to use.  She made rugs out of empty plastic bread sacks.  She made quilts out of old jeans.  She took empty 2-liter pop bottles and turned them into hanging ornaments that caught the wind and turned on her front porch. She also taught me to make little cinnamon roll cookies with leftover pie dough, rather than throwing it away.

Photograph courtesy of Upscale Downhome. This is exactly how my grandma’s bread sack rugs looked!

Grandma made this blanket for us with old jeans. As for the identity of the naked child, I plead the fifth.

RE: Plastic Soda Bottle Wind Chimes

Photo source. My Grandma’s wind spinners were always made with 7-Up bottles and looked very similar to this, though she made smooth cuts instead of wavy.

I’m thankful for every story that I can still remember, and for this lesson in waste that she passed on.  Sure, it can get me into trouble, because I tend to hoard things (for starters, I have a sack full of clean, empty food jars in my basement, waiting for an opportunity to be useful), but when it comes to these cookies, I feel the lesson is a blessing!

These cookies are delicious and so simple to make.  Flaky, buttery pie pastry layered with cinnamon, sugar, raisins, and nuts makes for something nearly akin to a kicked up cinnamon roll, and I like to go ahead and drizzle a simple glaze over the top of mine since I keep the sugar on the inside pretty low.  It makes them even more like a cinnamon roll in appearance, which I like.

I think many Grandmas taught their grandchildren to make these cookies, though my Grandma’s way seems to be a little different from the other recipes I’ve seen online.  Those call for cinnamon and sugar only, but that’s not the way Grandma Davis rolled (if you’ll pardon the pun).  She sprinkled on the raisins and nuts too!  Maybe it’s only because it’s the way my Grandma made them, but it’s the way I like them best.

Cinnamon Roll Pie Crust Cookies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Leftover pie pastry (I recommend this recipe–it stays tender and flaky, even after gathering up the scraps, pressing together and re-rolling)
Powdered sugar & milk for optional glaze

Gather up your pie dough scraps and press together to form a new ball and flatten into a disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until ready to use. If you aren’t making the cookies for a day or two, you’ll want to remove the pie dough from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for half an hour to an hour so that it is soft enough to roll out.

Preheat oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, a silpat mat, or spray with cooking oil.

Roll out the leftover pie pastry on a floured surface.

Sprinkle sugar over the top.  This amount won’t make the cookies very sweet, but that’s OK if you plan on using a glaze.  If you’re skipping the glaze, you’ll probably want more sugar.

Sprinkle on the cinnamon!

You could stop there, but I like to add some raisins and nuts, because Grandma said so.  And Grandma knows best.

Roll into a tight log, like so:

I didn’t get any pictures of this because my hands were busy doing this step, but use a piece of waxed floss to cut 1/2″ cookies from the log. To do this, run the floss under the log, then cross the ends of the string over the top, and pull the ends in opposite directions until the string passes through and makes a cut. This will be messy and you’ll have nuts and raisins popping out which you can then pop back in before placing on prepared baking sheet. Some of the cookies will have to be rewrapped completely, especially those on the end that are smaller. Place all the cut cookies on the baking sheet.  I like to use parchment paper, but would like to get a silpat mat soon since it’s reusable.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies. Cool on a wire rack. I just slid the entire sheet of parchment paper off the cookie sheet and onto a cooling rack.  Handy dandy.

Once cool, you can make a glaze by mixing powdered sugar with a little milk until it is a drizzling consistency. I think I used like 1/2 a cup of powdered sugar and a teaspoon or two of milk. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the top.

If you aren’t serving these right away, let them sit out until the glaze hardens, then you can store them in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. Will keep for at least a week but they won’t last that long!

In loving memory of Alta Davis.  1904-2001

Blue Ribbon Almond Fudge Cookies (gluten-free)

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**Update 9/10/11: I have made these cookies several times since this blog, and have updated the recipe so that you use a a full cup of almonds, ground, instead of 3/4 cup.  This makes a more roundish cookie, which I prefer, but if you want flat ones like pictured, go with using only 3/4 cup.  I put pictures of the puffy kind at the end**

I have not been blogging recipes very often lately, which is more indicative of the amount of free time I have rather than the amount of recipes I have to share.  I have a whole file full of pictures I need to blog recipes for, but I figured I should first get to the one I promised you in the Carrot Cake Cookies blog.

I got this recipe from my friend, Marina, along with several others in an email she called “My favorite cookies.”  She didn’t point out these were gluten-free but while making them for the first time, I realized they were flourless!  My favorite gluten-free recipes are those that are naturally gluten-free and don’t call for strange ingredients, both because the taste is usually better and because those strange ingredients are usually quite pricey.  These cookies didn’t disappoint, in fact they pretty much astounded me.  They are so soft and chewy, they almost remind me of a brownie.  The flavor is outstanding.

If you won’t take my word for it, then maybe you’ll believe the Kansas State Fair judges.  They gave me a blue ribbon for them in the gluten-free category and wrote on my assessment paper, “one of the best we’ve tasted of all the cookies so far!”  That means they thought these puppies were better than most regular cookies with gluten, with which I whole-heartedly agree.  They are really, really good, whether you can have gluten in your diet or not.

Almond Fudge Cookies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 cup raw, unsalted almonds
½ pound semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
¼ teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Lay almonds on a microwave-safe plate and toast in microwave in 30-second intervals on high, stirring in between, 3-5 times until nuts are fragrant. Cool to room temperature. In a food processor, grind nuts until very fine, almost like flour. Measure out 1 cup and set aside; discard or save extra, if any, for another use.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler; remove from heat and set aside. Beat the eggs with an electric mixer on highest speed, gradually adding the sugar and salt. Continue beating until ribbons form; about 10 minutes. Fold in the chocolate-butter mixture. Gently add the ground almonds. Cover and refrigerate overnight or 8 hours.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a cookie scoop to form the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in granulated sugar, place on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart and immediately place in the oven. Bake until the center of the cookies are no longer wet, 10-14 minutes. Allow to cool five minutes on sheet before removing to rack.  Dust cooled cookies with powdered sugar or more granulated sugar if desired.

Recipe source: adapted from Marina C.

Carrot Cake Cookies

This is another recipe from my foodie Mama, Marina, and it won me second place in the “filled cookies” category at the state fair this year!  I also won first place with another cookie recipe of hers, but this is the recipe that everyone on Facebook demanded after seeing the picture, so I’m posting it first.  My only other first place ribbon was for Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies, in the “refrigerated cookies” category, which I have already posted the recipe for. I got eleven ribbons total and plan to share most of the recipes with you in future posts.

I don’t know what to say about these cookies that isn’t obvious just from looking at the picture.  They are delicious!!  Imagine classic carrot cake flavors combined with the buttery taste and soft, chewy texture of a cookie and there you have it.  Perfection!

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 ½ cups finely grated carrots
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Filling (recipe follows)
Powdered sugar for dusting (I skipped this)

Heat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with Parchment paper, and set aside. Cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla until well combined. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger; stir to combine. Gradually add flour to butter mixture; mix on a low speed until just blended. Mix in oats, carrots, raisins and walnuts. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight. Drop dough onto parchment paper, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Bake until light brown, about 12 minutes. Cool cookies on cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Once cooled completely, pipe or spread about 2 teaspoons of filling on half the cookies & sandwich together with a second cookie; dust with powdered sugar on both sides. Serve at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Makes about 2 cups

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons crushed pineapple, well-drained and squeezed dry
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

Place the cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Beat the cream cheese until soft. Gradually add the butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in the powdered sugar, and beat until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine. By hand stir in the pineapple and walnuts.

Recipe source: Marina C.

No Bake Cookie Bars

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No-bake cookies are probably made most often during these sweltering summer months, and in our house that is no exception (despite the fact that I regularly turn on the oven to bake!!  I can’t help it.  I have a problem).  Since I pretty much think of them as “beneath me” (hello, I need a dessert recipe that is at least two pages long with instructions that include things like whipping something for ten minutes straight!), my hubby is the one who makes them and his recipe is pretty much the standard except that it has a lot more cocoa powder, which makes it that much better (IMHO).  I usually let him do his thing with the cookies, including this amusing little mishap, where he decided to make long “bar” cookies that ended up looking a bit like…well, see for yourself.

Yeah.  Let’s just delete that from our memory, shall we?

So anyway, when he made the next batch I convinced him to pour the batter into a greased pan and (proper) No-Bake Cookie Bars were born!  The recipe was already insanely easy, and dumping the mixture into a pan makes it even easier since you don’t have to put spoonfuls onto wax paper.  All you have to do is pour and slice.  The extra benefit to this method is that the mixture stays glossy since it doesn’t stay in the pan too long.  I hate it when the cookies lose their gloss and look all dry and sad.  No danger of that here!

So next time you need a cookie and it’s too hot to turn on the oven, whip some of these babies up!  You can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate, even if it does look like…nevermind.

No-Bake Cookie Bars
Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Spray an 8″ square pan with cooking spray and set aside. Measure the peanut butter & oats and set aside so they’re ready when you need them. Have your vanilla bottle handy along with a teaspoon. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa. Bring to a boil and once it reaches a full rolling boil, cook for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter until melted, then stir in the vanilla and lastly the oats. Immediately pour mixture into prepared pan and put on a cooling rack to set until completely cool. Once cool, cut into bars.  To make this recipe into the regular round cookies, just drop the mixture by spoonfuls onto wax paper and let cool. You can store them in an airtight container several days at room temp or over a week in the fridge.

Recipe source: Dennis Miller (no, not that Dennis Miller), the bestest husband on the planet (IMHO) :)

Cookie Mondays Gets the Axe

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Remember that “genius plan” I had to bake cookies for Dennis’ co-workers once a week so that I could get my bake on while losing weight since I wouldn’t be as tempted to eat something meant for others?  Yeah, that didn’t work out so well.  Almost four months into the year and I’m actually a few pounds heavier than I was on January 1st.  And cookie Mondays was definitely a factor that played into the weight gain. 

Despite the fact that I was making cookies for others, one batch of cookies usually makes plenty so that they’d never miss a few.  And in the case of the brown butter chocolate chip cookies, I ate more than two dozen.  I kid you not.

So when Dennis got a new supervisor and was switched to a different team of all-new co-workers that had no idea about Cookie Mondays, I took advantage of the situation and decided to stop the madness.  If you were wondering why I hadn’t posted any cookie recipes in a while, now you know.  Cookies seriously are my favorite of all sweets and I must have been insane to think I could keep my paws off of them.  I now realize why, despite loving them so much, I rarely make them.  I just can not resist homemade cookies, so it’s better not to make them at all!

All told, I made 11 batches of cookies:

Jan 4 – Easy Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Jan 11 – Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Jan 18 – Millionaire Bars (Twix Bars)

Jan 25 – Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Feb 1 – Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies

Feb 8 – Cherry Tea Cookies

Feb 15 – Peanut Butter Blossoms

Feb 22 – Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies

Mar 1 – Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

Mar 8 – Black Gold Cookies

Mar 15 – Loaded Oatmeal Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

The co-workers voted on their favorite cookies for the months of January and February.  January’s favorite was the Brown Butter Chocolate Chip (no surprise there!) and the Peanut Butter Blossoms and Cinnamon Roll Sugar Cookies tied for February’s favorite.  No votes were cast for March’s cookie since Dennis left his team, but one co-worker, upon gobbling a Black Gold cookie, proclaimed “I know which cookie I’ll be voting for this month!” 

The Loaded Oatmeal Cookies never made it to the co-workers because the switch was sudden, so most of them went in my belly, some to friends, and the rest remain in the freezer because the recipe makes a very large batch.  I’ve posted the recipe before, but I’ll include it here as well since I now have prettier pictures than the first time I made them. 

They are my favorite oatmeal raisin cookie because they really are loaded with all the good stuff and I really think the brown butter icing puts them over the top (brown butter makes everything better!).

Loaded Oatmeal Cookies with Brown Butter Icing
recipe from Paula Deen

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Brown Butter Icing, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease 1 or more cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, shortening, and sugar in a bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and beat until mixture is light in color. Add buttermilk. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice; stir into creamed mixture. Fold in oatmeal, raisins, walnuts, and vanilla, blending well. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle with Brown Butter Icing.

Brown Butter Icing:
1/2 cup butter
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons water

In a small saucepan heat the butter over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown and the milk solids have separated and turned chocolate in color.  Remove saucepan from heat; stir in 3 cups sifted powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in enough water (3 to 4 tablespoons) to make an icing of drizzling consistency. Drizzle on warm cookies. (I left mine fairly thick and used a pastry bag with the end snipped to drizzle. Ideally you’d want a thinner icing that you could drizzle with a spoon or fork.)

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