TRIED AND TRUE RECIPES
(most of these are mentioned in my books)
ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
If you like extra-chocolaty brownies with just the right mix of chewy edges, ooey-gooey middles, and a thin flaky top layer, then look no further, you’ve found the Ultimate Brownie Recipe. So easy you’ll never go back to a mix. Seriously. I’ve actually never made brownies from a mix, but friends who’ve asked for this recipe very often tell me they’ll never make mix brownies again. Whip up a batch and let me know what you think!
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I use Baker’s unsweetened)
¾ cup unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract (go a little over rather than a little under)
1 cup all-purpose flour (I use Gold Medal)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I use Nestle’s)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly butter a 9×13 inch metal baking pan. (Note: If you only have a glass pan that will work too, but lower the oven temp to 325 degrees.)
Place butter and chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for two minutes. Stir butter/chocolate mixture until all the chocolate is completely melted. (Note: If you don’t have a microwave you can do this in a pot on top of the stove, just make sure to do it over low enough heat that you don’t brown/scald the butter.)
When all the chocolate is melted, stir in 2 cups of sugar. Mix until completely blended.
Add three eggs and the hearty teaspoon of vanilla. Stir until completely blended.
Stir in 1 cup of flour.
Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips.
Spread evenly in buttered pan.
Place pan on the center rack of the oven and bake for 33 minutes.
Remove brownies from the oven and insert a toothpick in the center to test them. If the toothpick still has wet batter on it, put them back in for a minute or two. If it has fudgy crumbs stuck to it or comes out clean, you’re done. (You’re aiming for fudgy crumbs, but honestly it depends what you hit when you stick the toothpick in—if it looks like you stabbed a chocolate chip and the toothpick has melted chocolate on it, take a fresh toothpick and try again.) DO NOT OVERBAKE THESE BROWNIES—a few extra minutes in the oven will turn them from a delightfully soft chewy/gooey treat into chocolate flavored bricks. Better underdone than overdone.
Let the pan cool on a rack for at least an hour or so (if you can wait a few hours that’s even better).
Once the pan is completely cool you can cut the brownies into squares (or rectangles, or whatever other shapes you please). Use a very sharp knife, or a pizza cutter, or a sharp-edged spatula. Store any brownies you’re not planning on eating immediately in an airtight container or cover tightly with plastic wrap. Air is not their friend and they will dry up if left uncovered.
Individually wrapped brownies travel well and are great for bake sales, packed lunches, or kept in a purse or briefcase for potentially stressful moments.
For an extra-special treat these can be topped with a swirl of your favorite chocolate frosting and a pretty M&M, but really, they don’t need it.
They’re pretty tasty under ice cream and hot fudge as well.
Whatever you choose to do with them, enjoy!
INSANELY GOOD CARAMEL SAUCE
I’m a big fan of caramel. I like all kinds—chewy, soft, liquid—it’s all good! There is, however, one caramel recipe that is my absolute favorite. Straight out of the fridge it’s ever-so-slightly chewy, at room temperature it’s soft and melty, and warm it’s pourable liquid heaven. In addition to being my favorite caramel recipe, it makes an appearance very early in my novel when Marienne brings it for dessert to the first dinner the two couples in Meant to Be share together. It’s a big hit with the guests and I’m sure it will be a big hit with you. Everyone loves this caramel.
It’s fantastic poured over ice cream, or brownies, or brownies and ice cream….it makes a wonderfully amazing dip for fruit (I recommend pineapple chunks and apple wedges)…and it’s to-die-for with chocolate. My most decadent use of this recipe is to make caramel truffle cups—I use a candy mold shaped like a peanut butter cup, coat it with chocolate, fill it with ganache and this caramel, then seal it closed with more chocolate. There are no words to describe how good it is. A simple chocolate/caramel combo is to just spread some caramel (fridge temperature) on a chocolate bar. Yum.
Warning: Although this is a most awesome recipe, it’s not without challenge. I’ve been making it for years and it still has probably a 10% failure rate—it’s a very temperamental chemical reaction and sometimes chemistry isn’t working in our favor! Be patient. Pay attention. If it doesn’t come out right, try again. Seriously. It’s worth the effort. And sometimes the “mistakes” are pretty tasty too. In any case, I’ll give the most detailed directions I can in hopes of teaching you how to prepare this buttery-rich, golden delight!
Insanely Good Caramel Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Put the cream in a glass measuring up and microwave it until it’s warm but not boiling. The length of time will vary by microwave, so just base it on the power of your machine. 30-40 seconds will probably do it. Watch it closely—if you see bubbles in the cream, hit stop.
Put the cup of sugar into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and turn the heat onto medium-high. Using a fork, stir the sugar. STIR CONSTANTLY. At first it will seem like nothing is happening. Keep stirring. The heat will melt the sugar. You want to make sure no big clumps form in the melting sugar, so keep stirring.
It will likely start to liquefy on the edges first, so make sure to stir those in. The whole thing will start taking on the texture of cornmeal and then will start to become more liquidy. KEEP STIRRING.
If it’s turning golden too fast, lower your temperature a little. If any clumps form, try to break them up with the fork (a few clumps are okay, lots of clumps, not great).
If it starts to smoke on the edges, don’t panic, lower your heat and keep stirring. (If you have an area where the side of the pan is blackening you can carefully give it a quick wipe with a damp paper towel, but be very careful not to burn yourself!)
Once it is all melted continue stirring until it turns a deep golden color—the color of honey or dark maple syrup is about right. As soon as the proper color is attained, REMOVE THE POT FROM THE HEAT.
Take the hot cream and, wearing an oven mitt so you don’t scald your hand, pour the cream into the liquid sugar. BE CAREFUL—this mixture will boil up like a witches cauldron and tons of steam will rise—stand back so you don’t get burned!!
Place the bubbling pot back onto the stove burner at medium heat and STIR CONSTANTLY until you have a uniform liquid. Sometimes this is almost instantaneous. Other times you have a big ball of caramel goo stuck on the fork and tons of creamy liquid in the pot. If it’s all liquidy caramel, congratulations, you’re done—pour it into a bowl and let it cool. If it’s a ball of goo, KEEP STIRRING.
Most times, with enough stirring, you can incorporate the ball of goo into the liquid and attain the desired liquidy caramel. It can take a while. Be patient. Keep going until you can’t stand it anymore. If there’s still a clump on the fork or lumps in the caramel all is not lost, you may just have less liquidy caramel sauce than you planned.
IF you have lumps but you’ve stirred to the point where you can stir no more, pour the caramel through a strainer when you pour it into the bowl—-it will take out the lumps and the caramel you are left with in the bowl will be smooth and perfect.
IF there’s a big clump on the fork, let it cool and see what consistency it is. It’s possible you’ll be able to cut/chip off pieces and eat them as hard candy.
In any case, let the caramel sauce cool to room temperature, then cover and store in the fridge.
I wish everyone good luck making this, because when it turns out well (which is most of the time, after you get the hang of it) it’s truly worth it. Let me know how it goes. Enjoy!
CHEESY STUFFED PIZZA BREAD
Since we had an ultimate dessert recipe last week, this week I thought I’d offer up a super savory treat. This Cheesy Stuffed Pizza Bread Recipe is a take-off on my friend Joan’s famous Pepperoni Bread Recipe. I’ll give that as a variation as well. This recipe is absolutely delicious as a snack, an appetizer, or a meal. Serve it with a bowl of your favorite soup on a cold night. Bring a tray to your next pot luck party. Or make a bunch of them for your Super Bowl party. The awesome thing is you can vary the filling to taste and even make a vegetarian version. No matter how you slice it (ha) this bread is simple and delicious. Bake up a few batches and try to sneak one into the freezer before it gets eaten—it’s a great treat to have on hand for unexpected guests or a quick meal.
Cheesy Stuffed Pizza Bread (makes two loaves)
2 balls of pizza dough (most pizzeria’s will sell you a ball of raw dough, and many supermarkets sell bags of raw dough, usually by the prepared pizza section)
3 eight-ounce packages of Kraft Italian Five Cheese Blend shredded cheese (if you can’t find this you can grate your own blend of mozzarella, provolone, asiago, parmesan and romano cheese to duplicate it, or you can use another similar cheese blend. I recommend something mozzarella-based rather than cheddar-based because of overall better meltability)
1/4 – 1/3 pound of thinly sliced genoa salami
1/2 pound sliced deli ham
1 egg yolk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Lightly flour your kitchen counter and your hands. Using a light touch, stretch the pizza dough into an oval shape about 9×14 inches. The dough is naturally springy and will shrink back against your efforts. Once you start getting it stretched you can use a lightly floured rolling pin to try to get it as close to size as possible. Don’t worry too much, it’s not a precise science, you just want it to be thin but with NO HOLES and as few air bubbles in the dough as you can manage. Don’t overwork the dough too much, just do your best to get it into a flat oval.
Once your dough is spread out, start with a layer of salami, like this:
Sprinkle on about ¾ of a package of shredded cheese, making as even a layer of cheese as possible. Layer on a thin layer of ham. Sprinkle on another ¾ of a package of cheese.
Now you’re ready to roll. Think of it as a jelly roll. Roll, long ways, until you get near the end, then stretch the dough up and over to make sure you have a good amount of overlap. Press the dough along the seam to try to seal it as best you can. Be careful not to poke any holes in it! Fold the short ends over, again pulling the dough to make sure it is well sealed on both sides. Once it’s all sealed, lay your forearm down on the long seam and transfer the whole log of dough onto your arm, then place it on a rimmed cookie sheet.
Take your egg yolk and, using your fingers, give the top of the loaf a generous glaze.
Place the loaf in the oven and set the timer for 25 minutes. It may take a little longer to bake, depending on the size of the dough you used. When it is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap on it, it is most likely done.
While this one is baking, go to work on your second one.
Don’t be concerned if it springs a leak while it’s baking and a bunch of cheesy goodness pours out—this happens more often than not—the cheesy puddle can be cooled and diced up as an additional snack treat. I’ve had guests beg for the spilled-out part!
Let the loaf cool on a rack or counter top. When it is warm (but not hot, you don’t want the cheese to pour out!) slice it into 1-inch or ½-inch slices. You can serve warm or at room temperature, or you can lay the slices on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven for a minute to get them a little extra-melty and crisp the edges.
You can serve plain, with mustard, or with marinara sauce, depending on preference.
Pepperoni—prepare as above only use shredded mozzarella cheese and Hormel sliced pepperoni in place of the other cheese and meat. Serve with marinara sauce and it’s like the best pepperoni pizza you’ve ever had.
Spinach—-cook up 2 packages of frozen chopped spinach and squeeze to drain out all the water. Stir some black pepper and garlic powder into the spinach, to taste. Use any blend of cheese you like with spinach. Mozzarella works great, the Five Cheese Italian does too. Slices of provolone or swiss add a nice kick. After you stretch out your dough, brush it lightly with olive oil and sprinkle it with garlic powder, then layer on the cheese and spinach. This is also great either plain or served with marinara sauce.
No matter which version you make, I hope you enjoy it! Write and tell me your success stories and feel free to ask any questions!
This is a favorite recipe with family and friends and works equally well as an appetizer or a side dish. I usually make it as a strudel and cut it into slices to serve but it can also be made into individual triangle or it can be made in muffin tins (full size or mini) for little "purses" or bite-sized tarts. No matter how you shape it the buttery, flaky, crunchy goodness blends with the creamy, savory mushroom filling for perfectly heavenly mouthfuls. Make a lot. Your guests will love it!
Mushroom Strudel with sour cream and fresh dill
2lbs of assorted fresh mushrooms (I like to use a mix of crimini, shitaki and button but any combination will work)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 package of frozen filo dough, thawed
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use unseasoned but add a teeny bit of black pepper and garlic powder)
1 bunch fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for sauteeing
Preheat oven to 400F (if you plan to bake this right away, if you're making it ahead, preheat oven before you put strudel in to bake)
Brush the mushrooms clean and slice them into uniform slices. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauce pan and saute the mushrooms until they are cooked down and have released their moisture. You don't want them dried out but you do want to make sure they're nicely cooked and all the water has been released and has evaporated (you don't want moisture ruining your pastry dough).
Spoon the mushrooms out of the saute pan with a slotted spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool. While it's cooling, rinse and finely chop your fresh dill. You want to add this to taste as well but I'd say you'll need several tablespoons or more. Add a generous spoonful of sour cream to the mushrooms along with the chopped dill. Stir. It should be creamy and the consistency of a very thick dip/spread. Taste it to see if you want to add more dill. Once you get it to the right flavor set it aside to come to room temperature.
Melt a stick of butter. Set up your work space with your roll of filo dough (keep it covered with a damp towel whenever you're not using it so it doesn't dry out---there are tips about this on the box).
Place a cookie sheet on your work space and put down a layer of filo dough. Brush it quickly and evenly with a thin layer of melted butter. Sprinkle on a tablespoon or two of bread crumbs then add another layer of filo dough. Repeat until you have 6-8 layers of dough. Spoon the mushroom filling down the center of the dough and roll it like a jelly roll. Make sure to tuck the ends under then carefully flip the roll over enough that the seam is facing down. brush the whole loaf with a final coating of melted butter. If you'd like to, for decoration, you can place some more chopped dill or even a few sprigs atop the roll and brush them with butter to keep them in place.
If you have used a small box of dough or made a lot of mushrooms you may have enough ingredients to repeat this process. If you do, go ahead and do it all again!
At this point you can refrigerate the studel (if you're going to serve it later that day) or you can freeze it for use another time.
When you are ready to bake it, place it in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the loaf is a golden brown color. Allow to cool at least a little before slicing and serving. May be served at room temperature.
Refrigerate any leftovers and reheat to serve.
To make individual filled triangles, prepare the filo dough as above but use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough into long rectangles. Put a spoonful of mushrooms at one end of the rectangle then fold the dough over into triangles again and again until you've reached the end and have a neat triangle packet. Brush the whole top and any seams with butter. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Bake until golden brown.
To use muffin tins, prepare the dough as above. Spray the muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray or brush each tray with melted butter. Prepare the filo dough as above but once it is layered cut the dough into square that are slightly larger than the size of the muffin cup. Press a layered square of dough into each cup, fill with mushroom, tuck the corners down on top of the filling to cover it, brush with butter. Bake until golden. Allow to cool slightly then gently pop each one out of the muffin pan with a spoon or dinner knife, being careful not to pierce the crispy crust.
TURKEY MEATBALLS WITH APPLE BUTTER GRAVY
I’m a fan of food on a stick, so I generally like anything that can be served on a toothpick. That’s how my quest for a great cocktail meatball started. Years ago I played around with several recipes and couldn’t find one that I really liked, so I made up a recipe instead. It’s similar to Swedish meatballs, but with my own twist. When my kids first asked what it was and I said “it’s kinda like Swedish meatballs” they had no idea what Swedish meatballs were and one of them said “sweet-ish meatballs?” That’s what we’ve called them ever since. It’s fitting because it sounds like Swedish but it’s not…and they’re kinda sweet, but not overly so. Whatever you call them they’re yummy—equally good served over buttered noodles for a winter entrée or on toothpicks for an anytime hors d’oeuvre. They can be kept warm in a crockpot or chafing tray for parties too. Whenever you make them and however you serve them, I hope you like them!
Turkey Meatballs with Apple Butter Gravy (aka Sweet-ish Meatballs)
1 lb ground turkey (I use the 93/7 lean plain ground turkey—NOT seasoned, NOT the all white meat—for some reason the packages are usually 1.25 or 1.33 lbs, that’s fine, don’t adjust the recipe)
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
Dash of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 ½ cups plain bread crumbs
All-purpose flour (for coating)
2 cups chicken stock
½ – 1 cup of apple butter (I always use Musselman’s, but your favorite will work)
2 tablespoon butter (more as needed)
2 tablespoons oil (more as needed)
Place egg, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, pepper, nutmeg and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Mix in the ground turkey (use your hands, it yields a much better texture for the meatballs than stirring with a fork). Add in the bread crumbs (again, hands only). Once combined, form the mixture into meatballs around the size of ping pong balls.
Place a heaping scoop of flour on a plate and season it a little (a few dashes of pepper and salt and a dash of nutmeg will do just fine). Roll each of the meatballs in flour to give them a nice coating. They should look like powdered sugar donut holes when you’re done.
In a large, heavy bottomed frying pan (aim for one that’s the right size to hold all the meatballs in a single layer) melt the butter and oil until they’re bubbly (tilt the pan around to incorporate the butter and oil). Brown the meatballs on all sides.
As you do this you’ll notice that the flour is browning on the bottom of the pan—that’s good—you’re making a roux while you brown the meatballs—this will thicken the sauce as they finish cooking. BE CAREFUL not to burn/scorch the flour. If you see things getting too dark, lower your heat and add a pat of butter or a small amount of oil. (Also, if your meatballs aren’t browned on all sides and the bottom of the pan looks too dry/crusty add a little more butter or oil just to keep things going.) As soon as the meatballs are browned all around add your 2 cups of chicken stock right to the pan (I usually heat the stock in the microwave so it’s warm).
Ideally the meatballs should be about 2/3 submerged in liquid. Cover the frying pan and simmer (it should be bubbling but not a full rolling boil). Stir the meatballs every 5 minutes or so, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. You’ll see that the sauce is thickening as this happens. When the sauce gets to a good gravy consistency (fairly thick and coating all the meatballs), you should be done. This should take anywhere from 35-50 minutes, depending on the size of your pan and how high you had the heat.
Remove the meatballs to a serving bowl and tent with foil to keep warm.
Stir ½ – 1 cup of apple butter into the gravy (I like a lot of apple butter flavor, so I use a cup, if you prefer a less-sweet gravy, use ½ cup—taste as you go to determine your preference). Stir the gravy until heated through then pour it over the meatballs and toss gently to coat.
These can be served immediately or kept warm in a chafing tray. They can be made a day or two ahead and reheated, but the gravy will be much thicker upon reheating.
Chocolate Dipped Butter Cookies (aka Snowballs)
Holiday times are busy and with all the baking that I do I'm always excited when I find a simple recipe that not only tastes fantastic but is capable of doing double duty. This butter cookie recipe is one of my absolute favorites for both of those reasons. The cookies themselves couldn't be easier to make. They're rich and buttery on decadent. They're perfectly round and look temptingly delicious. And after they're baked you can serve them one of three ways: coated in powdered sugar (snowballs), dipped in chocolate, or dipped in chocolate an sprinkles (or jimmies depending on where you live).
Chocolate Dipped Butter Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or regular if you don't have kosher)
Semisweet chocolate (for dipping, amount will vary by number of cookies you dip, approximately 6 oz for a whole batch), sprinkles (chocolate or holiday colored), confectioners sugar (if you're going for the snowball look)
Preheat oven to 400F.
Mix butter and confectioners sugar in a large bowl. Stir in vanilla until well combined. Add flour and salt in small increments and continued stirring until the dough is firm. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten it into a disc that is approximately an inch thick. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Lightly flour hands and counter top. I prefer to use a pizza wheel to cut the dough but a knife works just fine. Slice the chilled dough into strips then cut the strips into pieces and roll each piece until it's smooth an spherical. You should get approximately 36 balls out of a batch of dough.
Place the balls on a cookie sheet (nonstick or ungreased) about an inch apart. Press down just gently enough that they won't roll off the sheet, but don't flatten them at all, you want them nice and round.
Bake 10-12 minutes until set but not yet browned. Remove from oven and cool on pan for 2 minutes. Roll in confectioners sugar OR dip half in chocolate and then sprinkles if desired.
Allow cookies to cool completely on a rack (and allow chocolate to set up) then store in air tight container. Separate layers with wax paper to prevent sticking.
GRANDMA ROSE'S MARMALADE COOKIES
My novel Then, Again is a foodie romance that is dedicated to my grandmothers and all the wonderful food-related memories they gave me while I was growing up. This recipe is one of my favorite cookies. My grandmother, Rose, used to bake them at holidays when I was a child then later sent them to me in care packages while I was away at college. It’s a simple recipe but I bake a lot and have never come across any other recipes that duplicate the taste and texture of these treats. Honestly I don’t even like marmalade but somehow in these cookies it’s wonderful. Try them. Enjoy them. Share them with your family and friends. Taste a bite of my memories.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup white sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
Small jar of orange marmalade (I use Smuckers brand)
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Melt butter and add sugar. Stir until combined. Mix in eggs one at a time. Gradually add flour, stirring slowly until a loose dough is formed. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
When ready to bake:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Sprinkle flour on counter top or rolling surface. Scoop out a large spoonful of dough and roll out using a lightly floured rolling pin. The dough is fairly delicate and becomes softer as you roll it, so go carefully, be sure to flip it over and flour the surface beneath it each time you flip.
Roll dough to between 1/8 inch and ¼ inch thickness. Use a sharp knife or pizza wheel to cut the dough into squares about 2x2 inches. Place a small spoonful of marmalade in the center of each square and fold the corners in toward the center. Pinch the dough shut at each corner so you wind up with a little sealed pouch. You may reroll scraps as you repeat the process with all of the remaining dough.
Place each cookie gently on an ungreased cookie sheet approximately 2 inches apart (they will spread while baking). Bake until just starting to turn golden at the corners (roughly 8-10 minutes). Let sit on cookie sheet for a few minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cool sift powdered sugar over the top to coat. Store in an air tight container. When ready to serve you may sprinkle with additional powdered sugar to freshen the look.
Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.
PUMPKIN MAPLE ICE CREAM
I've been on an ice cream making kick lately. Today's creation is the best one yet! It tastes like pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream. Totally yummy! And seeing as there's a bit of pumpkin in it I think it counts as a serving of fruits/veggies! Enjoy!
Pumpkin Maple Ice Cream
1 3/4 cups heavy cream (whipping cream or full cream, depending on where you live)
1 1/4 cups 1% milk
1/2 cup grade B maple syrup (or amber grade A maple syrup)
3/4 to 1 cup of canned pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 pinches of salt
Whisk ingredients together in a bowl or in a large measuring cup with a spout (for easier pouring). Chill in fridge until cold (at least a half hour). Whisk again briefly, just to combine, then place in ice cream machine. It took roughly 22 minutes in my Cuisinart ice cream maker. Makes 1 quart.
I spent years looking for a good gingerbread recipe that used butter instead of shortening, but I never found one I loved, so I made up this one. Whether you like your gingerbread cookies soft and chewy or nice and crispy, this is the perfect recipe. The dough is easy to work with, the cookies are flavorful but not overpowering, and they last for weeks in an airtight container. In a word: yummy.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup molasses
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
confectioner's sugar and milk (for glaze)
Place butter in large bowl and beat with electric mixer for one minute or until soft and creamy. Add sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Beat until well combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in molasses, egg and vinegar. Beat in flour.
Divide dough in half and wrap each portion in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 in thickness. Cut with cookie cutter and place one inch apart on cookie sheet (works equally well with large cookie cutters or the little mini-cutters).
Bake for 5-6 minutes until cookies become a lighter brown. Cool on sheet for a minute or two before transferring cookies to a rack to cool completely.
Decorate as desired. (I mix 1 cup of confectioner's sugar with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of milk, until the mixture is a good drizzling consistency, then I drizzle the cookies with the glaze. They can be iced entirely or decorated with the glaze or frosting of your choice.)
Layer between slices of waxed paper and store in airtight container.
Note: if you prefer a chewy cookie, take them out of the oven while your finger still leaves an indentation in the dough, if you like a crunchy cookie, bake a few minutes longer.
After years of trying different Chocolate Crinkle recipes I finally settled on this as the best one. They stay soft and chewy for at least a week if packed in an air tight container, which makes them perfect to make ahead for an event or to ship to out-of-town friends who may be in need of a chocolate care package.
Soft. Fudgy. Delicious.
Try them. You'll like them.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 ounces unsweetend chocolate, melted
1/2 cup oil (I use expeller pressed canola, any vegetable oil will do but do NOT use olive oil)
2 teaspoons baking power
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
Melt chocolate in large microwave safe bowl. Add sugar, oil, baking powder, vanilla and eggs. Beat with hand mixer on medium-high speed, scraping sides of bowl, until well combined. Mix in as much flour as possible using mixer. Stir in last bit of flour by hand. The dough will be quite firm. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Scoop dough into 1 inch balls (I use a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon). Roll each ball in confectioner's sugar and place on cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Press down on each ball just enough that it won't roll off the sheet when you're putting it in the oven (trust me on this---powdered sugar burning onto the bottom of your oven is not something you want to deal with).
Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges of each cookie are set and the tops are all crackled. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in air-tight container. You can redust them with fresh confectioner's sugar if needed.
BEST EVER FROSTED SUGAR COOKIES
Looking for the perfect cut out cookie and the ideal frosting to make them beautiful and that much yummier? Look no further. These sugar cookies are simple to make, easy to work with, look fantastic and taste delicious. Who could ask for anything more? You can make them ahead of time, as they stay fresh for weeks if stored in an airtight container, then frost them when you need them to look fabulous and be ready for eating. The icing recipe below is the best I've found for decorating---it develops a thin crispy shell but the frosting beneath remains creamy and delightful. Color it, don't color it, add sprinkles---the only limit is your imagination.
Best Ever Sugar Cookie Recipe
(makes about 100 three-inch cookies)
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
In a very large mixing bowl cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for AT LEAST one hour (can be refrigerated overnight if that works better time-wise). *Note- I usually refrigerate this a minimum of two to three hours, it's easier to work with the dough when it's nice and firm.
When you're ready to bake...
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Roll out dough in batches, on lightly floured surface, to 1/4 inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter of your choice to cut out the desired shapes. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Leave about 1/2 an inch or so between the cookies as they will puff a little while baking.
Bake 7-10 minutes (depending on size and shape of cookie)---start checking them at 7 minutes and continue baking until the edges just start to turn golden brown.
Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.
Best Ever Icing for Sugar Cookies
4 cups confectioners sugar
5 tablespoons heavy cream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (though you can use any flavor you'd like)
food coloring, if desired
Heat the cream and butter in a large saucepan until the butter is melted (don't let it brown!).
Stir in the sugar and the extract.
Remove from heat and beat until thick and creamy.
You can divide the icing into bowls and color each differently (a few drops of food color).
As the icing cools it will get a firm shell on it (like pudding skin). If you are still frosting cookies when this happens, just give the icing a vigorous stir. If it becomes too stiff add a little more cream, a few drops at a time, until it returns to the proper consistency.
The icing hold sprinkles or colored sugar well, but make sure to get the decorative items in place on the cookie BEFORE the icing starts to harden.
Store the frosted cookies in an airtight container SEPARATED by layers of waxed paper. They will stay fresh for two weeks.
OREO STUFFED CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Most of the recipes you'll find on this blog are tried and true recipes I've been making for years, but once in a while I'll come across a new recipe that is so good I simply have to share it immediately. Last week someone emailed me a recipe for Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies. It sounded so good I made a batch that day. The original recipe credit goes to http://picky-palate.com ( http://goo.gl/oKMO0 ) for coming up with the idea for this insanely good treat. Below you'll see my tweaked version of this recipe. I made it the original way first (and it was awesome) but I prefer it with the adaptations I've made (I prefer semi-sweet chocolate chips, used dark brown sugar for richer flavor, and used more vanilla because, well, I always use more vanilla than things call for). Either way you try it, I highly recommend you make a batch of these as soon as possible. So, so good.
Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 TABLESPOONS pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
24 Oreo cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cream together butter and both sugars. Mix in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture in small batches. The dough will get fairly stiff. Mix in the chocolate chips.
Lay a dozen Oreos on a cookie sheet and place a rounded tablespoon of dough on top of each.
Take a second rounded tablespoon of dough and place it on the other side of each Oreo.
Use your fingers to mold and pinch the dough shut so that the Oreo is completely surrounded in chocolate chip goodness.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are turning slightly golden in color.
Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to a rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container. This should make 24 jumbo cookies.
SUPER BOWL OF SPLIT PEA SOUP
In honor of the Super Bowl I’m posting a recipe for a Super Bowl of Soup. I know. I’m ridiculous. I’m okay with that. This recipe for split pea soup is a favorite among my friends and is often requested even by people who “don’t ever like pea soup.” I’ve always liked pea soup, and this is by far my favorite recipe. It’s made with Canadian bacon, which adds a nice smoky flavor but not a lot of fat (or calories). It’s creamy, smooth, hearty, and reheats well. It’s also one of the only ways I can get my children to eat green vegetables. This recipe can be doubled, and often is at my house.
Super Split Pea Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 cups carrots, diced (depending on how much carrot you want in your soup)
6 ounces bacon, diced
1 bag dried split peas (green or yellow), sorted to remove any non-pea items (pebbles, etc.)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
8 cups chicken stock (If you have homemade stock on hand, great, if not you can use boxed or canned or bouillon cubes or some combination of all of them.)
In a large stock pot melt butter in olive oil until butter is completely melted and bubbly. Add diced carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots begin to caramelize a teeny bit (if your carrots are too wet when you add them, this won’t happen, so dry them off first, and if for some reason they still don’t start to caramelize it’s no big deal---the caramelization just adds an extra touch of flavor but it’s not essential).
Add your diced Canadian bacon and stir. Add the split peas and stir.
Pour in your 8 cups of chicken stock. Add the bay leaves and the thyme.
Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for anywhere from one to two hours, until you have a creamy, thick soup. (The time varies depending on the brand of peas, and sometimes depending on the bag of peas. If the soup is getting thick but is still grainy, add more stock or plain water and continue cooking----it will become creamy eventually!)
Once the proper texture is achieved, fish out the bay leaves (or offer a prize for the diner who finds them) and serve immediately! Note: Pea soup thickens as it cools. If you allow it to thicken, simply thin it out with a tiny bit of water while you reheat it---this will be necessary when reheating any leftover soup and it in no way compromises the flavor of the soup.
I love to serve this soup with warm, toasty sandwiches---some family favorites include grilled ham and cheese, warm cheesy chicken salad on buttered toast (recipe to be given in future blog), or any kind of Panini. It’s also great served with some nice fresh hot bread (or rolls) and butter.
Let me know if you make it and what you choose to serve with it! Enjoy!