S’more Cookies

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It has been a while since I made something so good that it was worthy of prioritizing time to document…but here they are.  My time in the kitchen has resorted to cooking for survival – dinners at night, occasional banana bread (just so I have some in the freezer for those last minute baked goods) and jam.  Yes, plenty of jam.

These cookies might just be the best cookies I have ever made.  They are from a food store in Seattle called Dish D’Lish.  I made them smaller than the recipe called for and they were still giant – I also kept a careful eye on them and took them out a few minutes earlier since they were smaller.  Enjoy!!

Ingredients

Dough
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
One 8-ounce package toffee baking bits

Topping
1 cup mini marshmallows
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

Preparation

To make the cookie dough, in a mixing bowl, cream the butter, shortening, sugars, egg, and vanilla well. Sift the flour, cocoa, soda, and salt together in a small bowl. Mix into the butter mixture. Stir in the toffee bits.

In a large piece of plastic wrap, roll the dough into a 3-inch-diameter log with flat ends. Wrap well and refrigerate the dough to chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.

When ready to bake, preheat an oven to 350°F. Line 4 or 5 baking sheets with baking parchment (see Chef’s Note, below).

While the oven is heating, make the topping. Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a rubber spatula or spoon until the marshmallows are thoroughly coated. The mixture will be very sticky.

Cut the chilled dough into 10 equal slices. Place 2 or 3 slices on each prepared baking sheet. (When baked, these cookies spread to about a 5-inch diameter, so bake only 2 or 3 per pan.) In the center of each cookie, place about 1 heaping tablespoon of topping, using it all.

Bake the cookies for 18 to 20 minutes, or until just done. Let cool on the baking parchment until totally cooled and easy to remove.

Chef’s Note: If you’re short of baking sheets, just lay out the dough slices on additional pieces of baking parchment. When a pan of cookies is done, remove the pan from the oven, slide the parchment with the baked cookies onto a rack, place the next parchment sheet of dough on the pan and bake.

Recipe © Dish D’Lish®

For a printer friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Smores Cookies

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Tahini Cookies

I love bonus days.  Today was mine.  It is a day that you were not expecting because you thought you were doing something else – and at the last minute everything changes.  Sometimes those last minute changes work out for the better, and you get your bonus day.

So what did I do with mine?  I mostly spent some quality time in the kitchen.  Catching up on some cooking that should have been done earlier in the week.  And making these little treats.  Now these are what I would call an acquired taste.  My girls were so excited that I was baking in the kitchen – but after one bite, my little one was not sold.  Sesame paste is definitely a taste that grows on you, and it hasn’t grown on her just yet…but I thought they were delicious – and certainly different.  I found this recipe in Bon Appetit, and it hardly sat in my pantry for a week.  Thank goodness for bonus days.  If only I could figure out how to get more of them…

Ingredients

Makes about 24

  •  2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • ¾ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds

Preparation

Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, and honey in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in tahini, then add dry ingredients in 2 batches, beating after each addition until fully combined. Dough will be slightly sticky.

Place sesame seeds in a small bowl. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of dough (about 1 oz.) and roll into balls. Dip tops of balls in sesame seeds, pressing to adhere, and place, sesame side up, on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2″ apart. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until golden brown, 13–15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets (cookies will firm as they cool).

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Tahini Cookies

Chocolate Dreams (aka Surprise Cookies)

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

Wow, could it possibly be May already?  Well, considering that today is Mother’s Day, then yes, it must be.  I completely missed posting in April all together – I think that may just be a first for me – but I have not given up.  I am just slowing down a bit as the other parts of my life have been ramping up.  There are only so many hours in each day, and in order to try and stay sane, I have decided not to do it all.  Boy does that feel good to get out in the open.

Last month I forgot those words though, and I signed up for Book Larder’s Cookie Contest.  I knew it was the last possible thing I needed to do in my life, but I knew the girls would love it, so I gave in.  A few days before the contest, I still hadn’t decided what to make – and that’s where my very capable daughter came to the rescue.  She decided to test out a recipe that looked just AMAZING from the Martha Stewart’s Cookie book – and we were all sold.  They were moist, chocolatey, and had a fluffy marshmallow in the center.

Unfortunately we didn’t win, but that’s not at all why I did this.  We had a fun couple of hours stressing out trying to finish these cookies in time to get there for the judging – it was exactly my style – nothing like getting there just in time.  But we did, and it was super fun.  I must say that there are a lot of awesome bakers in Seattle.

So to all the mother’s out there – today is your day – and I hope you thoroughly enjoyed yourself.  Maybe next weekend you can bake these cookies for your kids to thank them…Happy Mother’s Day!!

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 12 large marshmallows, cut in half horizontally

Chocolate Frosting

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 t. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T. milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add reserved flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined.

Using a tablespoon or 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies begin to spread and become firm, 8 to 10 minutes. (I think next time I’ll only bake them 7 minutes)

Remove baking sheets from oven, and place a marshmallow, cut-side down, in the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Return to oven, and continue baking until marshmallows begins to melt, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Place confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in butter and cocoa powder. Add milk and vanilla, and whisk until well combined. Spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting over each marshmallow, starting in the center and continuing outward until marshmallow is covered.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate Dreams

Chocolate Chunk-Pumpkin Seed Cookies

Chocolate Chunk-Pumpkin Seed Cookies

I have some exciting news!  First Look, Then Cook has finally joined the Instagram revolution!  I know I have been horrible about posting this year, and if you could shadow me for a day, you would completely understand why – but I figured this would be a great way to be able to share more with you – and not just what I am posting on the blog – but the amazing sandwich I ate yesterday, and other foods that I find when I travel.  I am super excited about it – so please check it out!  Right now I don’t have any followers – who will be my first?  Now for the post, as you can see by the picture, that has been ready now for a while…but is there ever a bad time to make cookies?

Making a decision is tough enough.  But imagine if you felt like everyone should have a say in every decision made – and worse, that everyone needs to agree.  You might feel good because your opinion really does matter – but imagine how often in life you can get everyone to agree on something.  Sometimes it is good for someone to make a decision that you don’t agree with – it opens your mind up to new ideas, to take risks, and to grow as a person.

Now think about applying that strictly to food – can you imagine if everyone in your family had to agree on what you made for dinner every night?  Wow, what a nightmare.  I would say that we have a 70% hit rate at home – where the majority of the time, everyone is happy with the dinner options – but there are definitely some times when my children are not happy.  Then out of those times, I would say that 50% of the time, they end up really liking it anyway.  Those are pretty good numbers right there.  And because of that, I continue to stretch the boundaries – making sure they are continuously trying new things.

There are other times when everyone is super excited about what I am making, and then the outcome is not what was expected.  I found this recipe in Bon Appetit, and it had been a while since I made some cookies – so I decided to give them a try.  The batter was delicious, but I decided to make the cookies smaller than they suggested in the recipe – and unfortunately I probably cooked them a little longer than I should have.  It did not impact the flavor at all, but these were definitely more on the crispy side.  My older daughter LOVED them, but my younger one, not so much.  She only likes soft chewy cookies, and although she did give them a try, they were just not her favorite.  Oh well, you can’t please everyone all the time – but that’s ok.  It was still an excellent decision to make the cookies.

Please note – I left the recipe exactly as it was printed below, and if you decide to make the cookies smaller, I would only cook them about 8 minutes max.

Ingredients

  • cups raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
  • cups (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • cups bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • Flaky sea salt

Preparation

Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Toast pumpkin seeds on a large rimmed baking sheet on upper rack, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, whisk flour, cocoa powder, kosher salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and paprika in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing until well blended after each. Fold in chocolate and pumpkin seeds.
Portion dough into 18 balls (about ¼ cup each) and divide between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 3″ apart. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake cookies, rotating pans halfway through, until edges are slightly browned and firm but centers are still soft, 18–20 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate Chunk-Pumpkin Seed Cookies

Chocolate Muscat Cookies

Chocolate Muscat Cookies

Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you could actually see what was going on in people’s heads?  I am sure someone created a television show on that at some point, but think about it – so often people convince themselves of something that really deep down inside, they don’t believe for a minute.  Transparency is a very powerful tool.  It just goes to show you, that everything is more complex than it seems.  Just when you think you understand exactly what it going on, think twice. It’s what makes life extremely interesting.  It is the people that can navigate well through ambiguity that deserve all the credit in the end.

The same can be said about food – what if you always knew exactly what you were eating – not just that you were eating a chocolate cookie, but exactly what ingredients were.  Sure, we are living in a world where that is happening more and more with packaged foods – but when you are in a restaurant, there are still unknowns.  And that is exactly what creates the “secret ingredient”.  I have never been a fan of the “secret ingredient” or even not sharing recipes.  Sharing a recipe allows other people to join in on the happiness that you felt when eating that special dish.

But there is another side to all of this – if you knew that you didn’t like something, and then you knew it was in the food you were eating, you would never have the opportunity to try it in a different way.  For example, my daughter doesn’t like nuts – but in these cookies, they are so finely ground that she loves them!  It wasn’t until after she ate one did she ask if there were nuts in them – when I said yes, she already decided she liked them, so we were good.

This recipe from my mother not only has ground nuts, but also Muscat – a desert wine.  You would never know, but again, it just gives these cookies a hint of flavor that you would not get otherwise.  They are absolutely delicious.  So – maybe not knowing exactly what is going on is a good thing – it opens your mind to new things…a perfect way to learn and grow.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 lbs. Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 oz.. sweet butter
  • 3/4 cup Muscat
  • 6 eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • granulated sugar for rolling
  • confectioners sugar for rolling

Preparation

Melt together butter and chocolate over double boiler. Meanwhile, mix eggs, Muscat, and sugar.  Grind almonds with flour and baking powder in food processor. Whip the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the almond mixture. Chill the dough until firm. Overnight works best (can freeze). Scoop out about 1 oz. of dough and roll into a ball with the palms of your hands. Roll the ball, first in granulated sugar, then in confectionery sugar. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place 1-2 inches apart to allow for spreading. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Bake at 350 for 13 minutes. Freezes well after baking. Batter can keep in refrigerator for a week as well. Makes 90 small cookies. For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate Muscat Cookies

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Double-Chocolate Cookies

Double-Chocolate Cookies

Sometimes life takes you by surprise.  Even when you knew it was a possibility, it still catches you off guard.  Then it is up to you to figure out how to move forward.  That was my Friday night at 10pm.  And yes, it still shocks me even as I write this.  I won the Girl Scout Recipe contest

I couldn’t believe it, and still can’t.  I had such strong competitors!  But in the end, I think it came down to my daughter’s marketing plan.  And yes, at age 12 1/2, she definitely succeeded.  At 10pm on Friday night, already in bed, I frantically rearranged my Monday morning schedule, because as a winner, I get to make my recipe on television – which just happens to be filming tomorrow morning.  So thank-you to all of my readers who voted, every vote counted, and from what I heard – it was an extremely close race.

Now for the really fun part!  As I mentioned previously, I plan to donate my prize winnings to a charity.  Which charity?  Well, that is up to you.  Please leave me a comment on this blog post of your favorite charity, and I will select one randomly that will receive the donation.

Speaking of cookies, I leave you with this recipe for Double-Chocolate Cookies, which I found in Cooking Light.  They were super easy to make, and were a huge hit with my daughter and her friends – they are particularly good right out of the oven.  It is important not to bake these cookies to much, you want them to be soft and chewy.  Ok, so maybe they are not as good as Samoas, but hey, you can make these all year long – and you only have a few more weeks to get ahold of those Girl Scout Cookies!!

Ingredients

  • 6.75 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar, butter, and oil in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla; beat 1 minute. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Add chocolate; beat at low speed just until combined. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Drop dough by 1 1/2 tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pan 2 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pan; cool on wire racks.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Double-Chocolate Cookies

Macklesmores

Maclasmores

Macklemore is now a household name in most families with teenagers.  That’s what happens when you have a hit song.  He is even more of a hit in his hometown of Seattle.  People here love him, and he was a product of Seattle Public Schools – even better. My daughter may just end up at the high school he attended – which is now probably famous because of him.

Not far from where he went to high school is a cookie shop named Hello Robin – they sell delectable homemade cookies (that you can watch come out of the oven), along with Molly Moon’s Ice Cream (another Seattle icon).  We started going there last summer, and that’s where I saw the Macklesmores.  I was instantly obsessed – without even trying one.  It took me a few visits, but I finally broke down and bought one.  Oh my gosh – this was quite a cookie.  It was almost the best cookie I have ever had.  I had to make them for myself.

So one night when we were there, they were actually taking them out of the oven – so I asked the woman if I could get the recipe.  No can do – she said she really didn’t mix them up anyway, but she was pretty sure they used Honey Maid Grahams.  That’s all I got.  So – I was on my own to try and figure it out.  The first batch I made I decided to go with these cookies.  I thought they looked similar to the cookies in the store.  Unfortunately it was a bust – the cookies just almost melted over the grahams, and the marshmallows just melted into the cookies – they tasted great, but they were just sad looking.

That’s when I turned to my mother.  I needed a rustic cookie recipe that would be perfect for these grahams, and she had just the solution.  Her go-to cookie recipe.  Now, when she determines that something meets that type of standard, she has done her due diligence.  She doesn’t mess around when it comes to perfecting the best recipe.  Even though I knew this, as I was mixing them up, I was still worried – I made her call me from Paris just to make sure I was doing it right – and I was.  I followed the directions though completely – the most important of the steps is refrigerating the batter.  You MUST do that for these cookies to work, and for the marshmallows to stay intact.  These were outstanding…they looked exactly like the real thing.  Even if Hello Robin is frustrated right now…at hopefully Macklemore would approve.  After all, how many other Seattle legends have a cookie named after them?

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound sweet butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • Honey Maid Graham Crackers
  • Dark Chocolate cut into squares

Preparation

Melt the butter. Whisk in both sugars and cool to room temperature. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time and beat well. Stir in dry ingredients then chips, then wrap and chill 60 minutes.

Break the graham crackers in half, and place them on a sheet pan lined with parchment.  Using a small ice cream scoop (a generous tablespoon), place a scoop on each of the graham crackers.  Bake 325 degrees convection until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Turn pan in oven when there’s 3 minutes left on the timer refrigerator between batches.

Makes about 40 cookies.

When cookies come out of the oven, place a square of chocolate in the middle of each chocolate, and lightly press.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Macklesmores