Florentine Cookies (Laceys)

Florentine Cookies (Laceys)

Please don’t look at these cookies and think they are too complicated for you to make. They aren’t! If you haven’t tryed Florentine cookies, they are sort of a mixture between a candy and a cookie with their chocolaty, toffee-ish, nutty taste and texture.

Florentine Cookies

Some people think of these little delectable treats as a Christmas cookie, but I don’t really believe in holiday cookies. If you love a cookie, I say eat it year-round! As far as these Florentines, I actually was reminded how much I love them after enjoying them this summer at Peet’s Coffee, and  after buying a package of them at Trader Joe’s for myself…I mean…my mom and her friends  at the senior community. ; )

The ladies went crazy over these cookies, so of course I had to get in my kitchen and whip up a batch for them the following week. They liked the homemade version even better. Of course they did. Isn’t everything always better with the addition of love?

Happy cooking making!

By the way, I slightly adapted this recipe that I believe is a Food Network recipe.


Florentine Cookies (Laceys)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 13/4 cups slivered almonds, lightly toasted
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  3. If almonds need a little toasting, just roast in a dry pan for a few minutes until lightly toasted on edges.
  4. In mixing bowl, stir together nuts, flour and salt (and orange zest if you prefer).
  5. In a small fry pan, on medium heat, whisk together sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter until mixture simmers and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to simmer for another minute.
  6. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla, and pour into almond mixture. Stir to combine; set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Don't let cool too long; it will become to hard to work with.
  7. Carefully form rounded teaspoons of mixture into ball and place on baking sheet, leaving a few inches between cookies.
  8. Bake for about 18-20 minutes until cookies are thin and have a carmel color (be sure to check to ensure they don't burn). Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.
  9. For drizzle, melt chocolate in heat-proof bowl over boiling water, or in microwave.
  10. Spread thin layer on flat side of half the cookies and make "sandwich" with the other half.
  11. Spoon remaining chocolate into small plastic sandwich bag and cut tiny hole at corner. Drizzle over tops and let cool.
  12. To store, place parchment paper between cookies to prevent from sticking together.
  13. Makes about a dozen "sandwich" cookies.
  14. Enjoy!

 

Roasted Peanut Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

I’m afraid to write too much about these peanut butter cookies because I don’t want the biggest point to get lost – which is that these cookies are ah-mazing. If you are a fan of peanut butter cookies, I would seriously recommend you stop what you’re doing right now and make these cookies!

Peanut Butter Cookies

Here is how I can describe them: peanuty with a combination of crunchy and melt in your mouth textures; sweet and subtly savory, and just simply addicitive.

The best part is that the cookie part is really good, so if you don’t love the chunky roasted peanuts, you will still have the best peanut butter cookie (ever!) even if you leave them out.

This is my recipe that has evolved over time. I just tweaked it yesterday after getting inspired (once again) after eating the peanut butter cookies from my favorite little funky place, Charlie Hong Kong in Santa Cruz (but made at the wonderful Buttery Bakery).

Enjoy!


Roasted Peanut Peanut Butter Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Makes about 18 cookies, depending on size of cookies.
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (you can replace with all purpose, I just prefer including whole wheat)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raw peanuts, skins removed if preferred (I like leaving some skins on the peanuts)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Roast peanuts on baking sheet for about 15 minutes until light golden brown. Place in shallow bowl, and set aside.
  3. With electric mixture, cream butter with both sugars for about 3 minutes, until very creamy. Add peanut butter and beat for another minute.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla extract.
  5. Sift all dry ingredients together in a bowl (except nuts). Slowly add to peanut butter mixture, bea on low until just blended.
  6. Roll about a ping-pong size ball and flatten slightly. Roll sides in peanuts, making sure to push them in a bit so they don't fall out. It's ok if it's a little messy.
  7. Place flat side down and 2 inches apart on baking sheet (you don't need to line with parchment paper, but it won't hurt).
  8. Optional: Gently flatten top of cookie with spatula or fork.
  9. Bake for 12 minutes or until light golden brown.

Here’s how they look before baking. No need to be so precise, just roll those peanuts and shove them in the sides if they roll back off!

Roasted Peanut Peanut Butter Cookies

Kolaches, Kolackys, or Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies

Every now and then I get a specific food  request from friends, family and co-workers. One of my friends at work, Stan, started requesting “Kolaches,” pronounced koh-latch-keys. I didn’t know what they were, so he showed me an image and a recipe, and off I went to make them. It turns out, though, that the ones I prepared were not the type of Kolaches Stan wanted.

Since I’m wildly curious about all things food, I did a little googling and found there are different kinds of Kolache-type pastries, depending on what part of the country (or world) you’re from. But from what I see, there are pretty much two distinct types: one that it more like a bun prepared with a yeast dough, and the other that is a flaky-type dough that doesn’t not need to rise. Both are mildly sweet. Even the flaky ones are prepared differently in that some are round with jam-filled centers, and others are rolled, filled with jam and folded over. One thing is clear: people love their kolaches, kolackys, thumprints or whatever they want to call them!

After preparing the differnt kinds several times and experimenting with recipes, I have to say that I prefer the kind that Stan is talking about. These are the ones that are not very sweet, but have a buttery flavor and  melt-in-your mouth. They are the absolute perfect way to enjoy a cup of coffee. It goes like this: one bite of kolache, one sip of coffee…one bite of kolache, one sip of coffee. Repeat until your tummy is happy. : )

This recipe is my own as I adapted other recipes until I found the perfect combo. Enjoy!

 
Pin It
Kolacky

Kolache, Kolackys, or Thumbprint
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Makes about 20 cookies.
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour (plus a little extra for rolling)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (if you want a sweeter cookie, double the amount)
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup raspberry jam (or your favorite flavor)
Instructions
  1. In mixing bowl, whisk together 1½ cups of flour and baking powder.
  2. In separate bowl, with electric mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and continue to beat until incorporated.
  3. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat on low just until combined. Scrape down sides.
  4. Turn out onto parchment paper, sprinkle with a little flour, knead a couple times.
  5. Flatten a bit, wrap with the parchment paper to completely cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Break off piece of dough and roll into small balls (if dough feels sticky, dust hands with a little flour while rolling).
  7. Place 2 inches apart of baking sheet. With your thumb or finger, make impression in the center.
  8. Using small spoon, add jam in impression of each cookie.
  9. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until slightly golden brown at the very bottom.
  11. Let cool completely and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  12. Enjoy!
Notes
Make sure to chill the dough at both intervals. This will give the dough a better texture and prevent the bottoms from flattening out during baking.

Chocolaty Chocolate Chip Cookies

I loooove me a good a chocolate chip cookie. And I especially love a chocolatey chocolate chip cookie. It may be possible I like them too much since these cookies are the reason behind breaking my committment to minimize the sweets in my life. Instead of having one, or two – I ate three in one night! And then I went on to the continue the pattern for the next couple nights.  They’re gone now, so I can rest. ; )

 I found this recipe on Cooking with the Big Dogs and just revised the directions slightly.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup good quality dark cocoa powder
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
  2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In medium bowl, whish together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  4. In bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high 2- 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  5. Blend in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed.
  6. On low speed, mix in the cocoa powder until well blended.
  7. Continue on low speed and slowly add flour mixture until well blended.
  8. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula until entire mixture in well blended.
  9. With slightly damp hands, roll about an oversized tablespoon of dough into a ball, and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Sliightly flatten with hand. Continue until batter is gone. Should make about a dozen.
  10. Bake abpit 15 minutes, until you’re just able to lift the edges up off the pan without breaking the dough.
  11. Let cool on the baking sheet a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pistachio Snowball Cookies

Pistachio Snowball Cookies
 

 
My mother was a good cook who served up a variety of delicious dinners for her four little kidlets. And I didn’t think about it at the time - but as good as she was at cooking, she could not – or did not- bake. So obviously we didn’t eat a lot of homemade, sweet goodies. And now that I’m an avid baker and adore the aroma and taste of all things sweet and baked – I now know what I missed.

But I think I’m making up for what I didn’t have – especially when it comes to homemade cookies. I just love them. And when I (or someone I love) get a cookie monster attack, I don’t hesitate to stop whatever I’m doing to whip up a batch of cookies, no matter what time of the day or night.

I definitely have an affinity for buttery, shortbread-like cookies, so naturally I’m mad about Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cakes, snowballs – or whatever you choose to call them. They are the epitome of buttery, melt-in-your mouth cookies that are delicious and quite addictive. Just for fun, If you’re not sure what you to call them, here’s a tiny exerpt of history I found on wikipedia:

Russian tea cakes appeared in Russia in the 18th century as a confection used in a tea-sharing ceremony. By the 20th century, they were a part of wedding and Christmas traditions in the U.S., known by their popular “Russian tea” name. Mexican Wedding Cookies, and Bizcochitos, the official cookie of the State of New Mexico, are similar except that they have the addition of anise, although, properly made, the anise flavor is very mild. Many cultures have a similar cookie. In Spain, they are called Mantecosos. I suggest you eat a hearty meal before you bake these because it could be pretty easy to swallow up about a thousand.

I created a pistachio version of Russian tea cakes because, well, I love things just a little more with pistachio added. I also added a touch of green tea powder just for added flavor and color.

Of course you can cutomize these cookies and choose your favorite nuts, and even eliminate the green stuff, but if you are also a pistachio lover, you may never settle again for the more traditional version made with pecans or walnuts.

Anyway, hope you enjoy these if you make them!
 

Pistachio Russian Tea Cakes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup unsalted, raw pistachios
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons green tea powder
  • optional - a dot of Wilton gel food color (blue, yellow)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spread pistachios on baking sheet and toast in oven for about 7 minutes, until aromatic, but not browned. Cool, and then grind in food processor to a coarse meal.
  3. In mixing bowl, add flour, salt, green tea powder and pistachio meal.
  4. In separate bowl or stand mixer, cream butter, add ½ cup of powdered sugar and continue to beat for a few minutes until creamy and smooth. Blend in the vanilla extract and optional food color. I recommend using the gel mentioned in the ingredient list because it's much easier to control the amount of color. I just use a toothpick to blend a tiny bit of color.
  5. Slowly add the dry mixture until blended.
  6. With your hands, roll 1 teaspoonful of dough in your hands and place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart. The sheet doesn't have to be lined with parchment paper. Repeat until dough is used up.
  7. Bake for about 17 minutes until cookie sets and the bottom is slightly golden. Cool completely on wire rack.
  8. Roll in powdered sugar.
Notes
Makes about 24

Peanuty Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies


Christmas time or not, I’m stubborn about sticking to making and sharing the cookies I love, not just this time of year, but all-year round.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the tradition of baking cookies around the holidays, I just care more about the downright yumminess of a cookie, rather than making cookies that fit a theme or season. That’s why I made my favorite peanut butter cookies for today’s cookie swap going on at My Kids Eat Squid.  A few days ago, I also made Hot Chocolate Cookies with Marshmallow Whipped Cream, so feel free to check those out too while you’re checking out all the recipes in this swap.

Before you dive into cookie recipe land, I just wanted to add that this recipe can be adapted to your taste. You can forget about the peanuts and chocolate chips and just make a simple peanut butter cookie, because the cookie part of the recipe is just right!

So here are the swappers! Happy cookie baking and Merry Christmas!

Kristen J. Gough
Blog: My Kids Eat Squid
Cookie: Nutella

Teresa Robeson
Blog: Homestead Notes
Cookie: Whipped shortbread

Laura Davis
Blog: Laura’s Delicious Food
Cookie: Raspberry thumbprint cookies

Susan Johnston
Blog: Boston Food Swap
Cookie:
Old-fashioned molasses cookies

Melanie McMinn
Blog: Frugal Kiwi
Cookie: Chocolate Marshmallow Raspberry Cookie Delight

Peanuty Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raw peanuts, skins removed
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Roast peanuts on baking sheet for about 20 minutes until light golden brown. Set aside.
  3. With electric mixture, cream peanut butter, butter and sugars. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla extract.
  4. Sift all dry ingredients together in a bowl (except nuts and chocolate chips) and slowly add to peanut butter mixture, beating until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Lightly crush peanuts and place in shallow bowl.
  6. Roll a teaspoonful of dough into a ball and press one side into nuts.
  7. Place clean side down and 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheet. Gently flatten top of cookie with spatula or bottom of a clean glass.
  8. Bake for 12 minutes or until light golden brown.

Hot Chocolate Cookie Bites with Marshmallow Whipped Cream

Hot Chocolate Cookies
Ever wonder what it would be like to eat a cup of hot chocolate with melted marshmallows? I have. So I did a little experiment and baked up cookies that combine all the things I love about hot chocolate.

Here’s a peek inside my cookie brainstorming session: 1. I love chocolate, 2. I love hot chocolate with whipped cream, 3. I love chocolate and cinnamon, 4. I love marshmallows, and 5, I love hot Mexican chocolate with whipped cream around the holidays!

I’ve never been big on the whole Christmas cookie thing, but after being invited to a cookie swap by one of my favorite food blogger buddies over at My Kids Eat Squid, I immediately got excited about it and before you know it, I was daydreaming about what cookie to bake.

I love these cookies. Seriously, I closed my eyes when I was eating one and it really tasted like I was taking a bite out of hot chocolate. When will I ever grow up?!

One last note, they are a little tricky to transport with all their sticky goodness.

These cookies have the texture of a snickerdoodle, rich chocolate flavor with a bite, and the whipped center is perfectly creamy and marshmallowy!

Hot Chocolate Cookie Bites with Marshmallow Whipped Cream
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Makes about 18 sandwich cookies
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon (split)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder - (split) optional
  • pinch of cayenne powder - optional
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (split)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the filling
  • ½ cup marshmallow cream (I used Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. For cookie dough, in large bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, cream of tarter, baking soda, salt and ½ teaspoon of the chili powder.
  3. In mixing bowl, cream butter with ¾ cup of the sugar (note that you need to reserve ¼ cup for later).
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
  5. Slowly add flour mixture until fully combined.
  6. Line cooke sheet with parchment paper.
  7. For cookie coating, in shallow bowl, combine remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon chil powder, cayenne (if using); set aside.
  8. With clean hands, shape a small teaspoonful of the dough into a ball, roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture to coat surface, place on cookie sheet and gently press with bottom of glass to flatten.
  9. Repeat until mixture is used up.
  10. Bake for 8 minutes, cool completely.
  11. For the filling, in mixing bowl, cream 1 cup of confectioners' sugar with 4 tablespoons of butter. Add ½ cup of marshmallow cream, vanilla extract and beat until creamy and smooth.
  12. Spoon small amounts of filling on center of flat side of cookie. Place flat side of anohter cookie over the filling and gently turn from left to right to spread filling evenly, until it reaches the edges.
  13. Makes about 2 dozen.

Instead of rolling each cookie, you can toss several at a time in a bowl!

This whipped filling is not too sweet and just stiff enough to hold the cookies together!

 

Pistachio Macarons

French Macarons

I’m so in love with French macarons that I wish I could quit doing every other thing in my life so I could stay home every day and just bake these things in every imaginable size, color and flavor. Well, sort of.

French Macarons  
I’ve been obsessed with these beautiful little pastries for the last couple years and have wanted to make them for quite some time but always thought they were beyond my capabilities. Well, that changed after seeing a French macaron demo by the lovely pastry chef, Clemence Gosset, at The Gourmandise School of Sweets in Santa Monica during the International Food Blogger Conference I recently attended. I was amazed at how easy she made it look! 

Guess what? It actually is kind of easy to make them! If you get anything out of this post, it’s this: Don’t be afraid to make macarons – they’re not hard and they are such a delightful treat! Everyone I shared these with said they were delicious and wanted more. I can’t wait to make more!

French Macarons

I’ve shared the recipe below the way it was given to us. Just a couple personal notes since you didn’t get to see the demo:

  • The recipe calls for 2 cups of almond flour (also called meal) but you can replace up to one cup with pistachio meal (ground pistachios). I used about one half cup which created a nice subtle pistachio flavor and color.
  • I recommend watching a brief video just to get the idea of how the batter should look before you fold in the dry ingredients when you’re making the shells. Here’s one that might be helpful.
  • Take your time with folding the batter – it could take about 40 or 50 strokes before it’s about right (but don’t over do it).
  • Make sure you let the shells rest at least 30 minutes until they are not tacky to the touch. This prevents them from cracking.
  • It’s really helpful to use a stand mixer because it takes several minutes to get firm peaks when you whip the egg whites for both the batter and the buttercream filling.
  • Make sure you have the simple, round tips for piping. I used Wilton 1M. Although you can use the star tips like I did, they look even more beautiful with a smooth surface.
  • Take a few minutes to do a bit of research to find other tips, like “aging” the egg whites and how to peel the shells off the parchment paper, or vice versa. I didn’t age my egg whites, but I’ll probably try that next to compare the difference.

I hope this helps – and let me know if you try them!

Updated Note: I tried them again using a little food coloring, a plain piping tip and they looked lovely – check them out!

Pistachio Macarons

With a variety of piping tips and a tiny bit of food color, you can be as creative as you want!

Pistachio Macarons
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: makes 24
 
Ingredients
  • 140 grams egg whites (about 4)
  • 80 grams vanilla sugar (1/3 cup)
  • 240 grams powdered sugar (2 cups)
  • 3 grams egg white or meringue powder (1/2 teaspoon) - I replaced this with cream of tarter and it was fine.
  • 1½ cups almond flour
  • ½ cup pistachio meal (ground pistachios)
  • 2 grams salt (a pinch)
  • For the Egg White Meringue Buttercream filling
  • 5 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 pound butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or ½ vanilla bean)
Instructions
  1. For the macaron shells, place the almond flour, salt and powdered sugar in the food processor. Pulse a couple times.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and powder until soft peak stage. Slowly add the vanilla sugar and continue beating until just before stiff peak stage.
  3. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg whites in three stages, continuing to fold until a ribbon forms (about 40-50 strokes).
  4. Pipe onto parchment paper and let set for a half hour or until they are not tacky to the touch.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place cookies in oven and lower the temperature to 300. Bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Optional: Sprinkle with finely chopped candied violets and allow to set. Remove cookies after 10 minutes of cooling.
  7. Variations: Up to 50 percent of the almond flour can be replaced with pistachios, hazelnuts or pecans by weight. Grind them in food processor with the powdered sugar.
  8. For the Egg White Meringue Buttercream, place a medium saucepot filled a third of the way with water and bring to a simmer.
  9. Place sugar, salt and egg whites in bowl of stand mixer. Holding the bowl over the saucepot, whisk the mixture until it feels hot to the touch.
  10. Place bowl on stand mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.
  11. Once the bowl is cool to the touch, add butter, small pieces at a time.
  12. Add vanilla. Switch to paddle attachement to smooth out buttercream.
  13. Variation: Make fruit buttercream by adding in a half cup of freeze dried fruit or ¼ to ½ cup frozen fruit puree.

Fig and Anise Biscotti

Fig and Anise Biscotti
Sometimes joy can be found in the most unexpected places.

My 87-year old mother now lives in a senior community with a lot of other men and women around her age and even older. I have to admit when I first started visiting her there I was looking for ways to avoid socializing with some of her new friends because, after all, how boring would that be? Well, I’ve since had a much-needed attitude adjustment.

In the last couple months, I started visiting my mom at dinner time when she’s sitting with a table full of her BFFs. I’ve gotten to know a few of them, including Vivian from the UK who provides daily updates on Fred, her tiny fish who is sick and tinkering with death.  

Then there’s Carol, a retired school teacher, who wrote the most articulate essay on why she “almost always votes democratic.” And of course I can’t forget Virginia, who enjoys a daily regimen of two ounces of vodka – one shot at 6:30 p.m., the other at 7:30 p.m. – and then heads off to bed at 8:30. She says her doctor approves of this routine because “it works.” I’m no doctor, but that makes sense to me!

This morning I got up at 4:30 a.m. to make these biscotti and lemon poppyseed muffins to share with my mom and her friends at their 8 a.m. breakfast. It warmed my heart to see how this simple gesture put big smiles on their faces and how happy they were to get these fresh-baked goodies.

It’s been quite a gift getting to know these beautiful people who have so much to say and have more dynamic personalities and zest for life than some folks half their age. It’s funny how God works in our hearts. The truth is that I’m probably getting a lot more from seeing them then they are from seeing me. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to my next trip. What shall I bring next?

Fig and Anise Biscotti
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: Makes 20
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 11/2 teaspoon ground anise seed (I used whole seeds)
  • 1 cup dried figs, finely chopped (tough stem removed)
  • 1 egg white, beat with a little water (for egg wash)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper (or plain baking stone)
  3. Add flour, baking powder, anise and salt to bowl and mix.
  4. With electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter til creamy. Add one egg at a time at beat until incorporated. Stir in vanilla extract.
  5. Now add the flour mixture and beat until blended.
  6. Stir in chopped figs.
  7. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Form the dough into a 12-inch by 3-inch log. Transfer the log to the baking sheet.
  8. Bake for about 30 minutes until firm. Cool to touch and place the log on cutting board.
  9. With serrated knife, slice along the short edge in ½ inch diagonal slices.
  10. Return to baking sheet and bake for another 10 minutes until light golden brown and then flip and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool completely.
  11. Serving suggestion: Great with coffee or tea, or just on their own!
  12. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat and Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

 
With chocolate chip cookies on my top ten list of favorite sweets to eat, I’m always experimenting with different combinations of ingredients so that I have a handful of favorite go-to recipes at any given time. I like to play with different types of flour, chocolate chips and sugar, but as purist, I don’t stray very far with additions. Most recently, like with most sweets I’ve been baking, I’ve been using more and more whole wheat flour. In addition to enjoying the healthier aspect of whole grain flour,  I’m actually starting to prefer the grainier texture too.

In this recipe, I only used brown sugar for sweetness and I used Guittard milk chocolate chips which made a big difference in the creaminess department. The combination was so good that I didn’t do the typical sharing with others (shame on me). This time I stuck a bunch  in the freezer so we can relive the yumminess again and again. Every time we feel like a fresh chocolate cookie, we just send one or two on a 15 second trip in the microwave!


Whole Wheat and Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup butter, room temp
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1½ cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 8 ounces Guittard Real Milk Chocolate Chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In mixing bowl, beat the sugar and butter.Add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat until blended.
  3. In separate bowl, sift flours, cornstarch, baking soda, salt amd add slowly to the butter mixture. Mix until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips until blended.
  4. The dough will be on the dryer side, so you may have to form a ball with your hands. Place cookes a couple inches apart on baking sheet and bake at 375 F for about 10 minutes.