Utterly Buttery Shortbread with Chocolate

Utterly Buttery Shortbread

This is the last of my shortbread series, if you hadn’t already figured out that I was doing that.  I actually just figured it out this morning.  I don’t think I have ever made more shortbread in a short period of time.  I have to say, I really did love all of them, but this one in particular was my favorite.

So even though my older daughter is not writing this post, this is all her.  I love to watch her grow, and hope that maybe I have rubbed off on her, at least my positive attributes that is.  People often ask what I do with all the stuff that I bake – especially because my husband can’t eat most of it (needs to be dairy-free) – well, for the most part I bake for my kids, my neighbors, and for any event I possibly can.  Basically I look for any excuse to bake something.  Well, I am seeing my daughter follow the same pattern.  The other week she came downstairs and asked if she could bake something.  I asked her why, and she told me that she met a 1st grader on the bus this year, and she really wanted to bring her cookies.  I couldn’t believe how sweet that was.  My daughter was her “5th grade buddy” on the bus – basically she looked out for her, and made sure she was ok.  I was so proud.  I told her to look through her books and find something she could make all by herself.

She found this recipe from The Cookie Book, and I thought it would be perfect.  It had very few ingredients although my daughter added the chocolate, and that was a very smart move – it really gave the cookies a nice flavor.  So, this was a funny recipe though.  We baked them in glass pie dishes like the recipe called for – and we didn’t spray the bottoms.  Well – one of them turned out just fine, and slid right out of the pan – the other one stuck completely to the bottom.  Good thing it made two rounds…her 1st grade friend got the good batch, and we got the crumbs of the failed batch.  Let me tell you though, those were the best crumbs ever – you could put them over yogurt, ice-cream, or just take a handful and pop them in your mouth.  I hope that when my younger daughter starts riding the bus this year that a really nice 5th grader is there to keep an eye on her – she doesn’t need to bake her cookies though – we’ve got that part covered…


  • 8 ounces butter (2 sticks)
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup shaved dark chocolate


Mix the first four ingredients with a mixer until a ball has formed.  Carefully mix in the shaved chocolate.  Place dough on a counter, and separate dough in half.  Gather dough into a ball, and flatten into a disk.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.  Grease two 9″ pie plates.  Press dough into the pie plates until flat.  Bake at 400° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Utterly Buttery Shortbread with Chocolate


Pistachio Shortbread

Pistachio Shortbread

I swear July has seemed like the longest month ever.  It is strange – it has been amazingly beautiful here, the nicest summer I can ever remember (in 17 years!), I have made it to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday, and I have gotten some good cooking time in on the weekends (ok, bare minimum of what I find acceptable).  Aside from my frantic work weeks, and the fact that most nights I head home just completely stressed out – ok, maybe that’s why it has been a long month…  I am looking forward to August – looking forward to maybe getting a break, and maybe (just maybe), working on getting my piles of recipes down to a respectable size.

I love pistachios – they are hands down my favorite nut out there.  I love when I crack open the shells, and find a really green one – and I love even more when I buy the pre-shelled pistachios from Trader Joes.  Boy are those dangerous.  Opening up the shells actually slows you down a bit – but when you can pop a whole handful in your mouth at once…they can definitely go quickly.  I remember seeing this recipe in Bon Appetit and imagining exactly how these would taste.  I was very strategic though on when I made them – I wanted to make sure I knew what to do with the entire bag of pre-shelled pistachios, before I ate myself sick.  The weekend finally came along and I had 2 different recipes with pistachios all set and ready.  I snuck a few in my mouth here and there, but I was good – and had plenty to make both desserts.

These shortbread were fantastic – maybe even the best I have made yet.  They were crunchy and buttery and that was before I even brought out the strawberry jam.  Once the jam came out – it took them to an entire different level – a level that I have not experienced with shortbread before.  Wow, what a treat.

As we end July – I want to remind everyone that summer is not over yet – and it is not too late to get out there and have some fun in the sun.  And for those who are like me, there are still plenty of long days left to make lots more jam.  In fact – maybe that’s exactly what I need to start doing after work – how’s that for a stress reliever?  Uh oh, I am starting to think I am the best nut out there.


  • 1 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios (about 4 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose  flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter,  cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher  salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla  extract


Pulse pistachios in a food processor until finely ground but  not a paste, about  30 seconds. Add flour, sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla;  pulse until mixture is the consistency of cornmeal. With machine running,  drizzle in 2 tablespoons ice water (a crumbly dough should form; do not  over process).  Transfer dough to a sheet of parchment paper and pat into a  rectangle. Top with another sheet of parchment and roll out to a 12×8-inch  rectangle. Transfer dough (in parchment paper) to a baking sheet and chill until  firm, about 1 hour.

Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to  350°. Remove top sheet of parchment paper from dough and discard.  Cut dough  lengthwise into 8 equal strips, then each strip crosswise into quarters, forming  32 rectangles. Place rectangles on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing  1-inch apart.  Bake shortbread until golden brown, rotating sheets halfway  through, 18-20 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.

DO AHEAD: Shortbread can be made 5 days  ahead. Store airtight at room  temperature.

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

Pistachio Shortbread 5

Strawberry Jam Biscuits

Strawberry Jam Biscuits

It’s jam time…that’s right, one of my very favorite times of the year.  The time of year when those empty shelves in my pantry start getting filled with all sorts of delicious cooked fruit.  My daughters love that I make jam, in fact my younger daughter refuses to eat any other jam except my homemade.  You could say I have spoiled them, or maybe just taught them what good food is.

I have already started stock piling for the holidays – but I always save some for the girls.  Usually I just put the leftovers in a ramekin, or in a jar that is not labeled, that I place on a special shelf in the pantry – “our jam section” – as opposed to the jam for gifts.  Last week I came over after a long day, and saw that there was a new jar of strawberry vanilla jam in the refrigerator.  I just about lost it.  Ok, so it wasn’t my proudest moment – but when I asked why they didn’t use the other two already opened jars of jam (one which I might add was the exact same variety, and another was the leftover jam I used for these delicious treats) – they told me that the jam with the pretty labels tastes even better.  Seriously???  I was so angry, but part of me was laughing inside (although that laughing started much later) – but I was fuming that they had just wasted one of my holiday jams.  I brought them into the pantry and showed them where I keep “our jam section” as opposed to the “holiday jam section”.  Of course the “holiday jam section” has about 30 jars already – where as ours only has about 5.  The girls didn’t understand why they didn’t get both.  Wow – that would be a lot of jam.  So – no Mom of the year award for me…

Back to this recipe…I found this in Bon Appetit, and I felt like it was time to actually bake with some jam.  These were so perfect for strawberry season – just the right amount of sweetness with the biscuit – the girls ate them every morning before swim team, and they were gone in no time.  Fortunately there is still some of that great leftover jam in the refrigerator…I just need to get a label for the jar, and it will disappear magically, so I am told.


Strawberry Jam

  • 12  ounces fresh strawberries, hulled, halved or quartered if large (about 3  cups)
  • 1/4  cup sugar
  • 1  tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh  lime juice


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  baking  powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher  salt
  • 2 1/4 cups  all-purpose  flour plus more
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon finely  grated lime zest
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1 tablespoon raw  sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream (for  serving)


Strawberry Jam

Cook strawberries and sugar in a medium saucepan over  medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until jamlike in consistency, 12–15  minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lime zest and juice. Pour into a shallow bowl  and let cool.


Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk sugar, baking powder, salt, and 2  1/4 cups flour in a large bowl. Add butter and lime zest and blend with your  fingertips until coarse crumbs form. Add buttermilk and, using a fork, mix until  just combined. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Gently knead just until a  shaggy, moist dough forms, about 4 times.

Roll out dough about 1/2-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch  biscuit cutter or inverted glass, cut out rounds. Gather scraps and repeat  rolling and cutting until all dough is used.  Place biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using your  thumb, make a large divot in the center of each biscuit; brush with egg and  sprinkle liberally with raw sugar. Spoon a scant 1 teaspoon strawberry jam into  each divot.

Bake biscuits until golden brown, 18–22 minutes. Serve warm  with vanilla ice cream, if using, and remaining jam.

DO AHEAD: Jam can be made 3 days ahead.  Cover and chill.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Strawberry Jam Biscuits

Strawberry Jam Biscuits 2

Chocolate, Cinnamon, and Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

Chocolate, Cinnamon and Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

Summer came and hit us all in the head this weekend – I must say, there wasn’t much of a Junuary this year, which is a good thing, and a bad thing.  Of course we had our share of rainy days, but nothing like our normal kick-off to summer vacation.  I am sitting here typing at almost 8pm, sweating bullets in my non-air conditioned home, where the temperature on the thermostat is reading 83 degrees (and that is on the main floor, it is hotter upstairs).  Ok, yes, I am officially a wimp.  After almost 18 years in Seattle – I have forgotten what it is like to live with hot weather.  The funny thing is each summer when we travel back-east for the summer grandparent tour – if it is not in the 90s, I am disappointed.  But I am usually on vacation at that time, and most places have AC…unlike here.

Last night my husband and I had a date night – it was the first in many weeks, and we were really looking forward to it.  We decided to try a new place – a new restaurant opened by a Chef/Restaurateur that we really love – it got a lot of local hype, and the space and menu looked amazing.  The space was even more beautiful in person, really high ceilings, more of a modern rustic feel, and extremely bright – but when we got there our table wasn’t ready so we decided to sit at the bar.  This was actually the highlight of our meal.  The bartender did a really nice job with the drinks – the bar was not extensive, which again proves, you don’t need a lot to make really good drinks.  The problem was the bar stools were too low – and the counter came up to my upper chest.  I felt like a kid.  If it wasn’t for that, we probably would have just eaten at the bar (which is definitely something we love to do), but I didn’t think I could comfortably eat my meal – so we waited for our table to be ready.  45 minutes after our reservation, they finally sat us.  If we were not paying for a babysitter, it probably would have been fine – but the one drink they took off the bill, didn’t really make it even.

The biggest disappointment was the food – although it tasted good, it was not noteworthy – I would rather eat my husband’s chicken on the egg any day of the week – and the pork he had was fine, but nothing to write home about.  Even though we had 2 appetizers and 2 main courses, we were still hungry at the end of the meal.  At that point we were both sweating – there was no air-conditioning (which is not uncommon), and the delay in getting our table and the slow service afterwards just made things a bit worse.  There was no way we were waiting for dessert – especially when the 3 choices didn’t really appeal to us.

So, what is the best dessert for a hot summer’s night – what would have actually gotten me to sit there longer and endure the heat and slow service?  Definitely these ice-cream sandwiches from Bon Appetit.  We changed the recipe slightly to appeal to our cinnamon loving tastes – and all I can say is WOW.  The cookies are on the softer side, so they are perfect for ice-cream sandwiches, and that coffee ice-cream with that chocolate and cinnamon cookie, it is exactly what this summer weather needs.  Who needs air-conditioning when you can cool off with a summer treat like these.


  • 8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate 60%–72% cacao), chopped
  • 3  tablespoons  unsalted  butter
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking  powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine  sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground  cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  extract
  • 1 quart coffee ice cream


Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds  of oven; preheat to  325°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine chocolate and  butter in a medium heatproof bowl; set over a medium saucepan of simmering  water. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Combine almonds, flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a  food processor. Pulse until almonds are finely ground.  Using an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a  medium bowl until pale and fluffy, 3–4 minutes. Add chocolate mixture in 3  additions, mixing well between additions. With motor running, gradually add dry  ingredients; mix well.  Scoop out a rounded tablespoonful  of dough. Use another spoon  to help push dough onto a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough to  make 27 more portions, dividing between sheets and spacing dough 1-inch apart.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until tops begin to  crack and cookies are set, 12–14 minutes (don’t overcook; cookies will firm up  as they cool). Transfer cookies  to wire racks and let cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Cookies can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight  at room temperature.

Place a large scoop of ice cream on flat side of 1 cookie. Top  with another cookie, flat side down; press down lightly. Freeze on a baking  sheet while preparing remaining sandwiches. Repeat with remaining cookies and  ice cream.

DO AHEAD: Ice cream sandwiches can be made 30  minutes ahead. Keep frozen until ready to  serve.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate, Cinnamon, and Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

Granola Cookie Wedges

Granola Cookie Wedge 2

We are nearing the end of our vacation, and what a week we have had.  Every year it gets better and better – and each year my daughter is able to appreciate the food more and more.  I can’t wait to bring my younger daughter here next year – I really think she is going to love it.  I am fortunate that they are both adventurous eaters, and can definitely appreciate a very good dessert…

Today we had a magnificent lunch – and my parents have gotten to know the Directeur of the restaurant.  He told us today that he loves cookies and brownies – and in particular, he loves a good pumpkin pie.  With all of the amazing pastries in Paris, it is hard to believe that someone would rather have a good cookie or brownie – if you ask me, I would vow to never eat those again, if I could have pain au sucre and tarte au fraises outside my front door whenever I wanted.  He told us there is nothing better than a nice chocolate cookie with some coffee in the morning.  I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.  I know the grass is greener on their side.

The other week I decided that I would try and make something homemade each weekend that I could easily pack in the girls lunches for treats.  The packaged treats are garbage – and if you are going to eat a cookie, why not make it good with real ingredients?  I found this recipe in Cooking Light – and it went with my whole simplicity theme – making cookies in a pie pan instead of individually – brilliant!!  I have had skillet cookies before (wow…) but have never thought to make them like this to store.  The girls LOVED them, and they lasted the entire week, and still tasted good.

So – these are not Paris pastries, but as I go back to my real life – this is what we are stuck with for now.  Seriously though, things could be a lot worse…and then again, there is always Paris to look forward to in the future.


  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1  large egg white
  • 2.25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
  •   Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl; stir until well combined. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Add flour, oats, nuts, and chocolate chips to sugar mixture; stir until just combined.

Scrape the dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate coated with cooking spray, and spread to edges using a spatula. Bake at 350° for 13 minutes or until set. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Cut into 8 wedges.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Granola Cookie Wedges

Granola Cookie Wedge Test

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookes Change is good – sometimes it is hard, but in the end, it helps us grow and learn.  I actually look forward to change – most of the time.  There are facets of my life that need to be in a constant state of change, and others that need to hold steady.  For example – I have some friends that feel the need to rearrange the furniture in their homes all the time.  I never know  just where the couch is going to be when I enter the living room.  That would drive me nuts.  Fortunately for my husband, I like to place the furniture once – and unless I have a really good reason – I leave it there.  It’s funny, last summer I decided to rearrange the outside furniture – it had to be done.  The girls came outside, and my younger one actually started crying.  Too much change is hard…good thing she eventually got used to it, just like I told her she would. At work, I need change.  I am always looking for the next shake-up.  It actually keeps things interesting – because I have a history of getting bored pretty easily.  Fortunately I work at the right company, because things are always changing.  You just have to blink, and everything turns upside down.  We use the word agile a lot – I love that word, it is a delicate version of the word change.  It makes it seem elegant, in a very smooth way.  I’m sure the next time one of my daughters throws a fit about things being off – if I ask them to be agile, they will instantly calm down. Another part of my life that needs constant change – is food.  I almost never make the same dish twice – and if I do, it is an exceptional recipe.  Last night I made refrigerator casserole – I just took everything from the refrigerator that I had to use up – put it into a pan with some rice, and made a delicious meal.  My husband loved it – and asked if we would ever have it again.  I laughed. Chocolate chip cookies are a staple – yet I always seem to find one more version that I have to try.  This recipe from Cooking Light was no exception.  Brown butter…now seriously, how can that be anything but amazing?  Let me tell you – these were just about the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made.  Let alone the fact that one of these babies had less than 100 calories a piece.  I promise you these will be made again – that is until I find an even better recipe.  So – go change something in your life – not everything, but try for something new every day.  It will keep you on your toes – and you might even end up with something better than you started with.  What a novel idea.


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 5.6 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 3.3 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2  large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (such as Hershey’s Special Dark)


Preheat oven to 375°. Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook 5 minutes or until browned. Remove from heat; add oil. Set aside to cool. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking powder, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Place butter mixture and sugars in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Add vanilla and eggs; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by level tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake 12 minutes or until bottoms of cookies just begin to brown. Cool slightly.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
BB CC Cookies 3

Speculoos Buttons

Speculoos Cookies

There are so many different words to describe a good “spiced” treat.  Of course the obvious is just to use the word “spice” – like spice cookies or spice cake.  Of course, then there is the word “ginger” – which is my favorite (gingerbread) – and then came speculoos.  A few years ago, I was visiting my cousins in Belgium.  They were living there for a couple of years right after they got married.  What a way to start a life together!  Well, they took me to their favorite chocolate shop.  This place was amazing.  The chocolates were not only delicious, they were spectacular looking – like a piece of art.  I remember looking at the different types, and one of them was “speculoos.”  I asked them what that was, and both their eyes just rolled backwards – they loved that type.  They explained to me that it was cinnamon ginger spice.  That was the first time I had heard that word, but I guess it is pretty common, I then found a speculoos flavored macaroon, and some ice cream on the same trip.  It was so odd that I travelled all over Europe as a college student, but never encountered that word then.

Fast forward a few months, and I was reading emails on our company’s internal alias for “Food and Wine Enthusiasts” – and someone was looking for those “Biscoff” cookies that Delta Airlines carries on certain flights.  I didn’t realize they were such a hot commodity.  That conversation quickly turned to the “speculoos spread” – basically a spice spread, with a similar consistency to peanut butter.  Who knew they actually carried it at Trader Joes!  I swear this speculoos thing has almost a cult following!

A few months ago I was reading my Bon Appetit, and came across this recipe.  I almost went to the kitchen right then and there – but I had a lot going on so decided to save it for another time.  That time finally came – and you know why?  I was looking for a cookie that I could give my new mommy friends with their Shepherd’s Pie – something that could sit in the freezer until they were craving something sweet – almost like a roll of Pillsbury cookie dough.  When I saw that these cookies made three rolls – it was too good to be true.  One roll for each of my friends, and one roll for me…  OMG – AMAZING!!!!  First of all, the smell that these cookies give your house – just the perfect fall/holiday smell – ok, it is March, but who doesn’t love their house smelling like that?  They tasted great – not too sweet, but just sweet enough.  You can’t just stop at one.

So – I thought it was only fitting to post these tonight – as I sit hear waiting for my Delta flight – where I am sure I will get some of those Biscoff cookies.  Seriously though, those are good – but these mean business.  Everyone should have a roll waiting for them, without having to get on an airplane.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground  cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine  sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly  grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground  cloves
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mild-flavored  (light) molasses
  • 1 large egg, room  temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  extract
  • 1 large egg white
  • Sanding or turbinado sugar


Whisk first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside. Using  an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter in a medium bowl until smooth,  about 2 minutes. Add both sugars and molasses; continue to beat until mixture is  smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla; mix for 2 minutes.  Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients and mix to blend well.

Scrape dough from bowl and divide into thirds. Using your  palms, roll each piece of dough into an 8-inch log. Wrap logs tightly in plastic  or parchment paper and freeze for at least 3 hours. (For neater edges, remove  logs from freezer after 1 hour and roll on counter.)

DO AHEAD:  Dough can be made up to 2 months ahead. Keep  frozen.

Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven; preheat to  375°. Line 3 baking  sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking  mats.

Whisk egg white in a small bowl to loosen; lightly brush all  over 1 log. Sprinkle with (or roll in) sanding sugar. Using a long, slender  knife, slice off a sliver of dough from each end of log to make ends flat. Cut  log into 1/4 inch-thick rounds. Transfer to 1 baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch  apart; place in freezer while you cut the next log. (The cookies hold their  shape better if you bake when dough is cold.) Repeat with remaining  dough.

Bake 2 sheets of cookies, rotating the sheets from top to  bottom and front to back after 6 minutes, until tops are golden brown and  centers are almost firm, 11-13 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let  cool. Repeat with third sheet of cookies.

DO AHEAD: Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room  temperature.

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