Macarons are probably the most finnicky cookie you will ever come across. So, in my laziness, I was overjoyed to learn that I could find them in freezer section of my local Trader Joe’s store. Of course, curiosity will always get the better of me, so I had to try to make them on my own. Continue reading
I’ll admit that I have always been a cereal girl. Left to my own devices, I would eat cereal every day: morning, noon, and night. I’m the reason they are still releasing crazy new flavors, because I buy just about every single one. You’re saying that my favorite peanut butter is now a cereal? Sold! What’s that? There’s a cookies and cream cereal? Don’t mind if I do.
If there is a new cereal on the shelf, there’s a darn good chance I’m going to be bringing it home with me. Continue reading
I’m usually late to the holiday party, but this year I’ve got it covered. Well, for one holiday at least.. assuming that you even count St. Patrick’s Day as a holiday that should be celebrated… Either way, these cookies are the perfect treat for St. Patrick’s Day or, if you’re not into that, we can just call it Tuesday. What makes them so perfect for St. Patty’s? They are filled with the flavor of our beloved childhood favorite cereal – Lucky Charms! And everyone know their mascot is a leprechaun which means that cereal (and by proxy these cookies) are perfect for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
Assuming, of course, that you are celebrating the leprechaun-chasing, green-beer-drinking, shamrock-sporting, rainbow-chasing, pot-of-gold version and not the saintly actual St. Patrick version. You could still celebrate the saintly version with these cookies, but they might not seem quite as relevant.
Ok, now that you’ve endured weeks of healthful meals from me, I thought I would reward you with some cookies.
These crumbly sables combine salty pistachios and tart cranberries which just happen to pair perfectly with the sweet, buttery cookies. Oh, and then I rolled them in big chunks of decorative sugar for some sparkle and crunch. Because who doesn’t love sparkles – especially when you can eat them and be sparkly on the inside! (It IS what’s inside that counts, right?)
I first made these cookies around the holidays and tucked them away into the freezer so they would be ready for when the holidays rolled around. I had every intention of sending them out with my Christmas cookies but there were… technical difficulties.
Mostly that I ate them.
And while, yes, the red berries and pale green pistachios were super cute when I first made these for Christmas cookies, no one will complain about consuming them during a non-Christmas time of year. Not to mention they are ice-box cookies, which means even if you make them around the holidays and stuff them (tightly-wrapped) in the freezer, they will still be every bit as delicious once July rolls around…
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
- 1/2 cup pistachios, shelled
- 1/3 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup decorative sugar (preferably coarse)
- In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and orange zest at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
- Add flour mixture in 2 batches and mix on low, just until the dough comes together in clumps, then add pistachios and cranberries. Mix just a few moments longer to combine.
- Pour dough onto a lightly-floured surface and press together into a single mass. Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, then form each half of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours. (Or you can freeze the logs until you are ready to bake them)
- If from frozen, let cookies set out about 30 minutes. If from refrigerated, no need to let them sit.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350F. If baking both sheets at once, put racks in upper and lower third of oven, if only baking one at a time you can leave the rack in the middle.
- Beat the egg and pour sugar into a shallow dish long enough to roll the log in (I used a paper plate).
- Brush egg over all 4 long sides of bars (but not ends) and press bars into sugar, coating well.
- Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. (It may be crumbly, just smoosh the cookies back together).
- Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets and bake until edges are pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes total.
Recipe source: Gourmet, December 2006
Saturday morning a strange thing happened – someone knocked on the door.
This might not seem that strange to you, however, we live in a pretty quiet area and we know approximately zero people so we basically never get visitors. Like, ever.
And when we do, we follow a strict protocol involvng things like muting the TV and waiting for the person to leave. This time, however, our front door was wide open and we were sitting in the living room (which is where the front door leads into) so I wasn’t confident that the whole “muting the TV” thing would work.
Unless we could also convince them that we were statues…
FH told me to “handle it” so I got up to assess the situation and there she was – standing no more than three feet tall, quite possibly the smallest Girl Scout I had ever seen. Normally I am a firm believer of the “stranger danger” motto, but she was pretty small so I was pretty sure I could take her if things went south.
She mumbled something shyly about cookies and I assumed that in this case “handle it” meant to find any cash I had on hand and throw it at her in exchange for cookies, so I yelled for FH to get his wallet. If FH’s “handle it” meant for me to tell her to go away he was sadly mistaken, because who can say no to a little girl? No one. Well maybe this guy could, but I don’t have any Knuckle Blasters so that’s not even an option.
Even if I could say “no” to a small child, I definitely couldn’t say no to cookies, especially since for the other 11 months out of the year I listen to FH go on and on about how much he loves samoas and how delicious they are. So I quickly purchased a box of Samoas from her and ran back inside, closing the door behind us to prevent any future incidents.
FH hurried into the kitchen and ripped into them, took a bite, and… groaned?
It wasn’t the usual “these are so good” sound that you might hear when you eat your favorite cookie. It was a more whiny tone filled with dismay and dissatisfaction.
I asked him what was wrong, hoping for something cool like finding a finger or a dead bug or something like you hear about in those news stories. But, no. Nothing so exciting.
His “problem” was that just last week I made these samoa bars for him and apparently the flavor was still fresh in his mind and now he real samoa cookies, the ones that inspired the very bars that I made because he loved the cookies so much, are now “ruined” for him.
His word, not mine.
I will admit that these bars are bit more “grown up” than their ancestors. Rather than just being a vessel to carry the caramel, this cookie layer is thicker than that of the original samoa with a bit more crunch and a more intense vanilla flavor. Meanwhile, the caramel layer is a bit more complex with a hint of saltiness, and the dark chocolate gives the perfect bit of bitter-sweet to compliment the sweet caramel and cookie.
Oh yes, and don’t let me forget the ground unicorns and cocaine, but those ingredients are optional.
So at the risk of ruining the legendary Girl Scout cookies for someone you love…
And at the risk of putting thousands of young girls out of business…
Give these bars a try.
Ground unicorns and cocaine optional.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 3.5 cups shredded coconut
- 2 11-oz packages caramel bits
- 3 Tablespoons whole milk or cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 oz dark chocolate (I used the Ghiradelli melting wafers)
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract and milk. Add flour and mix on low until just incorporated. It will be on the dry side.
- Pour out onto parchment paper and form into general rectangle shape. Roll close to 9 x 13” and transfer into 9 x 13 baking pan. Press into bottom of pan until it reaches the edges, leaving a slight lip on the edges.
- Poke holes in shortbread with a fork and bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, until lightly golden on top. Cool completely in pan before topping.
- Toast the coconut by placing on a parchment-lined baking sheet and baking at 300F for about 15 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning. Coconut is done when it is a golden-brown color. Set aside to cool.
- Melt the caramel bits with the milk and salt per package directions, until smooth. Once metled, stir in the vanilla extract and the coconut.
- Pour onto the cookie layer, spreading into an even layer with a spatula and pressing down with your hands.
- Melt chocolate at 50% power in the microwave starting for 1 minute, then continuing in 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Drizzle over coconut layer and allow to cool completely. Once hardened, cut the cookies into bars and store at room temperature in an airtight container.
[ shorbread adapted from here]