Jammy Bars

Cookies, Unfussy

This is an excellent use of any tasty jam you have sitting in your fridge for a little too long. The peach rosemary jam I had from last year was lovely.

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Streusel:

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 TBSP butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups jam

Make Crust: Place all ingredients in the food processor. Process in long pulses until the dough is just formed, stopping and scraping the bowl when necessary. Remove dough from bowl and pat into a rough square.

Place dough between layers of wax paper and roll out to approximately 9×13″ and 1/4″ thick. Lightly grease a quarter-sheet pan or 9×13″ pan. Place the dough in the pan – the dough is forgiving and you can press it around to make it as even as possible.

Place dough in freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Make Streusel: In a small bowl, stir together flour, sugars, salt and cinnamon. Cut the butter into tablespoons and work into the flour mixture with your fingers until clumps form. Toss with vanilla and set aside.

Assemble and Bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1 1/4 cups jam evenly over the dough in the prepared pan. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel.

Bake for 35 minutes, until the streusel becomes light brown. Let cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.

White Whale Monster Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

Anyone that grew up in Iowa City will tell you that the monster cookie at Cookies & More in the Old Capitol Mall is the all-time greatest cookie. I have been testing monster cookie recipes for years trying to crack the code. I finally got it (it’s not an oatmeal cookie with peanut butter, it’s a peanut butter cookie with oatmeal). My sister-in-law, Katherine, tested the recipe and said the only thing it lacks is awkward adolescence and the mall smell.

If using Jif/Skippy peanut butter instead of natural peanut butter, add an extra 1/2 cup quick oats to the recipe.

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups M&Ms

Cream butter, peanut butter, sugars and honey together until very light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, until the mixture is uniform in color.

Beat in eggs, one at a time. Scrape bowl.

Sift flour, soda, powder and salt and add to mixer. Stir until well combined, scrape bowl and mix well. Add oats and chocolate chips and mix well, scraping if necessary. You CAN mix in the M&Ms at this point, but if you want to be able to see them perfectly on top, reserve M&Ms until you have scooped the cookies.

Using about 3 TBSP of dough per mound, scoop the dough into mounds on a cookie sheet or plate that you can fit in your refrigerator to chill. Press 5-6 M&Ms onto the top of each mound. Chill at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Transfer cookie dough balls to a parchment lined baking sheet, spaced about 3″ apart (you can roll them slightly into a more uniform ball at this point if you are into that sort of thing). Press each cookie down to flatten slightly.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are starting to brown. The center will look slightly under-baked. Cool completely on cookie sheets- they will fall apart if you try to remove them too quickly, but will firm up as they cool.

Repeat with remaining dough, or freeze dough balls and bake on demand. The cookies can be baked from frozen, you will just need to lengthen the baking time by 5 minutes or so.

Breakfast Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

I’ve been eating these breakfast cookies for about two weeks now. They are perfectly chewy and chock full of seeds, fruit and nuts. It’s safe to say they are a great “on-the-go” breakfast, but I wouldn’t know. I DO know that they are a great “going-nowhere-soon” breakfast.

  • 3/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 10 dates
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup pepitas
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 cup assorted dried fruit (raisins, craisins, cherries, blueberries, chopped apricots, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast walnuts until lightly browned for about 8-10 minutes. Let cool.

Combine almond butter and dates in a food processor and process until pureed. Add coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla and process until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or by hand in a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in oats, toasted walnuts, pepitas, coconut, chia and sesame seeds, dried fruit.

Add the pureed mixture to the oat mixture and stir until well combined. Let sit 30 minutes.

Using about 1/3 cup of dough for each ball, scoop onto lined or greased baking sheets, leaving about an inch between cookies. Flatten each cookie slightly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until just starting to brown on the edges. Let cool completely.

These keep well for a week. Or you can freeze the scooped cookie dough balls for up to a month.

Double Chocolate Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

I was workshopping these cookies for awhile – the end result is soft chocolatey goodness.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, optional

Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until very light and fluffy 5-10 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed and mixing until the mixture is all the same pale color.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping as necessary. Add vanilla and mix.

Sift together cocoa, flour, soda and salt. Add to mixer and stir to combine well on low speed. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Mix in chocolate chips and walnuts, if desired.

Scoop 3 tablespoon mounds onto cookie sheet, leaving 2″ between each cookie.

Bake 12-15 minutes, until the edges are firm and the centers seem a little undercooked.

Cool 10 minutes before removing from cookie sheets and baking remaining dough. Or scoop and freeze dough balls for up to a month -baking a couple from frozen at 9:30pm when you need a little something.

Chocolate Black Sesame Rugelach

A little bit fussy, Cookies, Food Hoarding Confessions

A little leftover hand pie dough, black sesame paste from my freezer, and a bar of chocolate with almonds all found each other today.

Dough

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, straight from the refrigerator
  • 1 stick butter, straight from the refrigerator
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Black Sesame and Chocolate Filling

  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (with or without almonds), chopped

1 beaten egg and coarse sugar for topping

For the dough: Cut the cream cheese and butter into cubes. Place flour, sugar and salt in food processor and blend. Toss in cream cheese and butter. Pulse until the dough comes together – check it by taking the lid of and pinching some dough – if it sticks together it is ready.

Divide dough into two pieces and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

For the filling: Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet. Let cool completely. In a food processor or blender, combine cooled sesame seeds, butter and sugar. Process into a paste.

Chop chocolate into small pieces and set aside.

When ready to assemble: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil (these will leak a bit).

Divide the dough into two. One at a time, roll out on lightly floured surface to about a 10-inch circle. Spread 1/2 of black sesame paste onto one circle and sprinkle half the chopped chocolate on top.

Cut the circle into 16 pieces, like a pizza, first in half, then quarters, then into eighths, etc… Roll up each triangle starting with the fat end of the triangle. Place on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

If desired, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars

Cookies, Unfussy

These are chewy, rich and delicious. The brown butter is key.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups butterscotch chips
  • 1 1/2 cups butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 inch pan with a foil sling (leave foil overhanging out of the pan to make removing the bars easier). Lightly grease the foil.

Combine flour, oats, soda and salt in a medium bowl. Place butterscotch chips in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to cook until the butter is brown and nutty – this could take up to 15 minutes or so. Pour browned butter over the butterscotch chips, scraping all the brown bits at the bottom of the saucepan and including them too. Whisk until butterscotch chips are melted. Whisk in brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in eggs and vanilla.

Stir flour mixture into butter mixture until well combined. Pour into prepared pan and smooth evenly.

Bake for 35 minutes, until the edges are brown and the center is just firm.

Let cook completely in the pan before lifting out and cutting into squares.

This recipe is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

Homebakers Collective February Challenge:

Cookies, Fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge

What Kind of Macaron Are You?

Blackberry Mint Macarons

Tangy, sweet and fresh – just like yours truly.

Fresh ‘n Tart Blackberry Mint Jam:

  • 1 pint fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped fresh mint

Fresh Mint Macarons:

  • 200g almond flour
  • 200g powdered sugar
  • 150ml egg whites, room temperature, divided
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 60 ml water
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine blackberries, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, crushing blackberries with a fork or spoon as they start releasing their juices. Cook for 15 minutes, until thick. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Strain using a mesh strainer to remove most of the seeds. I like to add 1 TBSP of the seeds back into the smooth mixture and discard the rest. Refrigerate.

Line 3 baking sheets with silicon mats (preferred) or parchment. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fit a large pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip.

Whisk the almond flour and powdered sugar to combine. Press through a fine mesh strainer, into a large bowl, using your fingers or a rubber spatula to work it through.

Place 75 ml of egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer. Put the other 75 ml into the bowl of almond flour and stir with a rubber spatula until it is a smooth, thick paste. Let sit.

In a small saucepan, combine water and granulated sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Swirl pan gently to dissolve the sugar. Insert a candy thermometer and cook until syrup reaches 245 degrees. Meanwhile, whip egg whites in stand mixer on medium speed until they reach medium peaks. When the syrup has reached temperature, pour it slowly down the side of the stand mixer bowl while mixer is running. Once all syrup has been incorporated, increase mixer to high and beat until the meringue is stiff and has cooled to lukewarm, about 10 minutes.

Add the cooled meringue to the almond flour mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and flows off the spatula easily. Mix in the fresh mint until well combined.

Fill pastry bag with half the mixture and pipe onto prepared baking sheets in 2″ rounds, leaving space between them as they will spread. Once the cookie sheet is full, drop it onto the counter from about 12″ high to get rid of any air bubbles in the batter. Continue piping rounds until all the mixture is used.

Set the cookie sheets aside until the macaron batter dries and forms a skin – when pressed lightly with a fingertip the batter will be dry, not tacky.

When the macarons are dry, bake one sheet at a time for 12 minutes, rotating pan at 6 minutes, until they are firm but are still pale.

Let cool completely before peeling off and matching.

Place all cream cheese filling ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping bowl if necessary. Do not over-whip.

Fit pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip and fill with frosting.

Match macaron shells

Stir 1 TBSP fresh mint into cooled blackberry jam.

Pipe a ring of cream cheese filling around the base of one macaron shell. Fill the center generously with blackberry mint jam. Top with second macaron shell, pressing down gently to seal. Repeat.

Place sandwiched macarons in an airtight container, or wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

I know this is controversial, but I think the oatmeal raisin cookie may just be the best cookie out there. These are soft and chewy. You can bake these right after mixing, but they keep their shape better if you refrigerate the dough for an hour before baking.

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups quick oats
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins

Cream butter and sugars together until smooth. Add honey and vanilla and mix. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl as needed. Mix in flour, baking soda and salt until well blended. Stir in oats and raisins, scrape the bowl and mix well.

Shape into balls using about 2 tablespoons of dough, (or use a cookie scoop) and place onto a cookie sheet to chill in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cookie dough onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet about 3″ apart. Bake for 12-18 minutes until light brown.

Tell people that yes, they do have raisins, but just try them already.

Hello Dolly Bars

Cookies, Food Hoarding Confessions, Unfussy

These are completely uncalled for. This is a variation of a hand-written recipe titled “Hello Dolly Cookies” that has been in my recipe box for years, but I have no idea who’s handwriting it is (please let me know if this sounds familiar). It was a very forgiving recipe – I used up a variety of cookie crumbs and flavored chips that I was food-hoarding in the pantry. You could do the same. These are sweet.

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 1/2 cups homemade speculoos cookie crumbs (or Biscoff or graham cracker crumbs)
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips (these can be hard to find, but they are not too sweet so I like them. I get them at the Amish grocery store in Iowa.)
  • 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs ( I used some of my chocolate shortbread cookie crumbs)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a 9″ square pan. Sprinkle speculoos/graham cracker cookie crumbs over butter and mix a little bit, then spread evenly. Sprinkle evenly over the top in this order: coconut, then chocolate chips, then cinnamon chips, then chocolate cookie crumbs. Pour condensed milk evenly over the top. Finally, sprinkle pecans.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until they are well-caramelized and not too gooey. They shouldn’t be wet when you press in the center.

Cool completely before cutting into small squares. Makes 16 diabetic sugar bombs.

Cream Cheese Cookies

Cookies, Unfussy

This is a slightly adapted version of my Grandma Suzie’s favorite Christmas cookie. They are a not-too-sweet slice-and-bake cookie. The beauty (and problem) with them is that they can be eaten at any time of day or night, even if you are not hungry in the least.

  • 14 TBSP butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs green food coloring
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • red hots

Cream butter, cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and several drops of green food coloring (the color will fade significantly after you add the flour, so make it a little brighter than you’d like). Stir in flour, salt, and baking powder and mix well until a uniform dough is formed.

Shape into 2 rolls, each about 12 inches long. Wrap in wax paper and freeze until firm.

When ready to bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If desired, roll outside of dough in colored sugar. Slice about 1/4 inch thick and place on lined baking sheets, about an inch apart. Press red hots into center. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until firm to the touch.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.