Tahini Blondies

Cookies, Unfussy
If anyone ever asked what my favorite texture would be, these would be my answer. A little dense, tender and chewy. The tahini is reminiscent of peanut butter, but not as heavy-handed. Yum with a capital Y.

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup tahini, well stirred
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″x13″ baking pan. Line with a parchment sling so the long sides of the pan have excess parchment hanging over.

In a medium saucepan melt the butter and brown sugar together until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the tahini and the sea salt – the mixture may look a little broken, which is okay. Let cool slightly. Whisk in eggs, one at a time until fully combined. Whisk in the vanilla extract.

Stir together the flour and baking powder. Fold the flour into the tahini mixture until there are no streaks. Pour into the prepared pan, spread evenly, and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and the center has firmed up.

Let cool completely then refrigerate for at least an hour (otherwise the bars may crack) before lifting out of the pan and cutting into squares.

Whole Wheat Thumbprints

Cookies, Unfussy
These whole wheat thumbprint cookies are super easy. This puzzle is not. Luckily, these cookies keep well for many days.
  • 4 cups whole wheat flour (480g)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (225g)
  • 1 1/3 cups butter (300g), room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • Best jam you have
  • Extra sugar for pressing

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and butter in the mixer with the paddle attachment. Mix on low for a few minutes until the butter is incorporated.

Whisk eggs together in a small bowl and pour into the flour mixture. Mix until incorporated.

Form into balls using a cookie scoop or spoon, using about 2 tablespoons of dough per ball. Slightly flatten each ball with a flat-bottomed glass dipped in granulated sugar. Make an indentation in the center of the cookie using your finger or a teaspoon. Don’t sweat the cracks, unless the jam will leak out, then fix the crack. Fill indentation with jam.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, the cookies are just starting to brown. Rotate the cookie sheets halfway through baking.

Let cool completely before storing, but be sure to eat one warm first. These keep well for many days.

Gingersnaps*

Cookies, Unfussy

*These are soft molasses cookies – they do not snap.

If you only make one batch of cookies this winter, this should be it. This is an all-time favorite family recipe for 2 going on 3 generations.

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 rounded teaspoon ginger

Cream butter and brown sugar until very light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed. This can take up to 10+ minutes if your butter is cold. Be patient. Make sure the mixture is totally uniform in color with no dark streaks. Whisk together flour, baking soda and spices in a medium bowl. When butter and sugar are ready, beat in egg and molasses. Stir in flour mixture until combined.

Scoop the dough into balls and place on a lined cookie sheet or container that will fit in your refrigerator. Cover and let them chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or up to overnight. Or freeze the scooped dough balls for up to 2 months (or something like that).

When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll each dough ball completely in granulated or Turbinado sugar, place on lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 12-15 minutes until just barely starting to brown on the outside. Baking time will vary depending on the size of your dough balls and if you are baking from the refrigerator or the freezer.

Apple Dumplings

A little bit fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge
I really think this is the best apple dessert. Have an obligatory bowl of soup for dinner and then dig in.

Syrup:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Crust:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk

Apples:

  • 6 Apples, peeled and cored
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • granulated sugar for sprinkling

Make Syrup: Combine brown sugar, water, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in butter until melted. Set aside.

Make Crust: Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until the butter is the size of small peas (or use a food processor). Stir in milk all at once and form into a dough.

Peel and core 6 medium apples. Stir together brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Roll out dough into a 18″x12″ rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 6-inch squares. Place a whole apple in each square. Stuff the core of each apple generously with the spiced brown sugar and dot with a pad of butter. Moisten the edges of the square and fold the corners up to the center of the apple. Pinch the edges together to seal. Repeat with remaining dough squares and place about 1-inch apart in a large ungreased baking pan.

Pour syrup over the dumplings. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake for 35 minutes.

Serve warm with cream or ice cream.

Cookies & Cream Chiffon Pie

A little bit fussy, Pie
I got out the good china for this pie – it’s a light chocolate-flecked vanilla mousse in a chocolate cookie crumb crust. It’s the devil’s food because it is so light and tasty you can end up eating the whole dang thing if you’re not careful.

  • 9″ chocolate cookie crust, baked and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon unflavored gelain
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • pinch salt
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate pailletés, or shaved chocolate

Combine gelatin, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Add egg yolks and milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the gelatin dissolves and the mixtures thickens slightly, just enough to coat a spoon. Chill to room temperature.

Beat heavy cream with vanilla and rum extracts until thick. Fold gently into the custard mixture.

Beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Fold egg whites and chocolate pailletés into the custard and cream mixture gently until thoroughly combined.

Pour into prepared chocolate crust and chill until set, at least 4 hours.