Chocolate Chip Cookie Pretzel Pie + 5 Pie Recipes to Get You Through the Pandemic

 

 

I made this pie five times before getting it just right.  My kids questioned me and even complained a bit by the fourth try- “Again, Mama?”  I felt bad for them.  How unfortunate they should have to eat this chocolate chip cookie pretzel pie again.  The hardship of it all is immense for them.  I stuck with it even after one unfortunate incident when the slightest comment by my husband regarding the pie lead me to take a deep dive off a raged cliff into the dark spaces of my mind that are quite scary to visit.  I recovered; retrieved the recipe notes from the recycling bin; and tried again.  The fifth time is a charm.  This pie is now lovingly called pandemic pie.  I pushed through until it got better.  We all need to push through until it gets better and if making this pie or any pie helps, go for it.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pretzel Pie

Recipe adapted from A Family Feast

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell, store-bought or homemade (I have tried both.  Go with what works best for you!)

2 eggs at room temperature

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ granulated sugar

½ brown sugar, packed

¾ cup or 1+ ½ sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup dark chocolate chips

½ cup milk chocolate chips

A good pinch of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

½ cup pretzels, crushed for sprinkling

¼ cup mini chocolate chips for sprinkling (optional)

Vanilla ice cream (completely optional but excellent with this pie)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325F.  Place the unbaked pie crust into a 9-inch-deep dish pie plate.  Crimp the edges.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixing with a paddle attachment or large mixing bowl with a handheld mixer, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until pale and foamy.  Add the flour, sugars, a pinch of salt, and vanilla.  Mix until combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice with a spatula.  Add the butter.  Continue to beat until the butter is well combined with the batter.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the unbaked pie crust.  Spread evenly.  Sprinkle the crushed pretzels and a handful of the mini chocolate chips over the entire pie.

Bake until the pie is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the pie comes out with just a few crumbs and melted chocolate, about 50-55 minutes.  (If you see batter on the cake tester it should bake for a few more minutes.)  Check the pie at 50 minutes.  Bake longer if necessary but check every two minutes.  Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired.  Enjoy!

Leftovers can be covered loosely with foil and stored at room temperature.

5 Pie Links To Get You Through The Pandemic

What month is it?  I have completely lost track of time.  Somehow it is May.  May in Massachusetts can vary weatherwise but strawberries and blueberries displayed in the grocery store is a welcome reminder that it is spring.  If you are craving a summer berry pie check out this strawberry pie and this blueberry pie.  If you cannot find fresh berries, frozen works too!

If you are looking for something refreshing, affordable, as well as, ingredients that are easy to find check out King Arthur’s recipe for key lime pie.

Smitten Kitchen has a recipe for a black bottom oatmeal pie that is delicious.  The ingredients are likely ones you already have in your house so no need to run to the grocery store.  Bonus!

My husband and I watch The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah every night after the kids go to bed.  This show is truly getting me through the pandemic.  In honor of Trevor Noah and his South African roots here is a recipe for South African milk tart.  It is on my must-make list!  Looks like comfort in a pie plate!

 

Jerry’s Halfway Cookies + 5 Holiday or Anyday Cookie Links

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Anne stared at her mother’s battered and torn recipes and wished she wasn’t dead because she didn’t feel like making halfway cookies, they were Tess’s specialty.  She missed Tess.  Death is inconvenient especially around the holidays, thought Anne.  She felt much more than inconvenience since Tess’s miserable, drawn-out death.  In fact, most days she wasn’t entirely sure how she functioned.  Her children saved her, kept her occupied with their schedules and needs.  Their never-ending stories, sentences that began with “and” starting at one pick up, continuing to the next drop off allowed Anne to feel engaged but mostly sad and hollow all at the same god damn time.  Anne could forget, though, when the day mercifully allowed it.

Sort of.  When her mind didn’t ache from all she pushed through over the last two years. Ya, she could forget if she willed herself.  She forgot about holding Tess’s hand as she struggled to breathe and feeding her spoonfuls of water.  Watching her son and her husband feed, Tess teaspoons of water was especially awful.  Changing her diaper wasn’t as bad as Anne expected because there was nothing left to expel.  Everything was shutting down, something they mention in the helpful reading material hospice had left on their way out the door while Anne held Tess’s hand and watched her slowly transition from this world to the next.

Telling the nurse not to offer Tess any more food as she may choke was especially heartbreaking for Anne.  It was just so final.  Decisions were made without fully understanding that, yes, Tess would soon be gone.  Administering morphine and lorazepam to Tess as she begged for help, tiny squirts from a plastic syringe dribbling down her tongue, into her throat, smaller than a pea and so painful for Tess to swallow made Anne want to vomit.  A grimace on her mother’s face after each swallow, followed by relief until Tess saw Anne wasn’t done, not yet.  More morphine.

“Please help me, please help me,” Tess whispered.  Anne felt small.  “I don’t know what to do,” Anne cried.  “Yes. you do,” Tess said.  Hadn’t it always been this way? Anne a mess and Tess calm and knowing.  She hated and loved her for it.

Anne watched the hospice nurse change her mother’s bandages. Every time they asked Anne if she wanted to leave the room.  Anne never left.  Cancer on her mother’s breast now like a crater on the surface of the moon, devouring Tess, reaching for her collarbone.  Additional tumors were growing, making their presence known in the form of little mushroom heads and excruciating pain.  The smell was gone now. 

So many indignities for such a beautiful, refined woman.

The hospice nurse called Anne at two in the morning to let her know her mother had passed but Anne knew when she left her mother to pick up the kids from school just hours prior, she would not see Tess alive again.  She hugged and kissed her; told her it was ok to let go now.  The words flowed easily from Anne’s mouth to Tess’s ear as if someone else was speaking for her.  

How could you tell her to let go, Anne?

Anne hours before, holding her mother’s cold hand, watching her chest rise, her mouth ajar, teeth exposed as if drawn by a caricature artist, lips dry, crusted, and colorless.  The breathing pattern had changed as mentioned in the handy death pamphlet.  Anne studied that pamphlet like she was getting a graduate degree in end of life care as if it would somehow predict when Tess would leave this world and maybe, if Anne were lucky, she could escape the tsunami of grief that was headed her way if she was prepared and organized. 

The joke’s on you, Anne. 

She harassed her sister via text with the latest bodily changes Tess was undergoing during the transition, every time asking herself if it was necessary to share so much dying with her angry and already grieving sister who lived two thousand miles away.  Maybe the next text would go to her brother who had removed himself from the situation just enough that he could put off the grief until one day when Tess was gone and the grief brought him to his knees. 

And then the call. 

Tears struggled to come.  Anne steadied herself, threw her messy hair into a ponytail, and put on her glasses. She felt her husband’s hand on her back like an anchor reminding her of all the life that was still waiting for her.  The hand felt heavy as if it was asking too much of her to keep going, to keep pushing through when she was bone tired and heart-broken.  Anne kissed him goodbye, relieved the weight was gone if only briefly.

Anne drove in silence to her mother’s house.  The land looks different at two in the morning.  Twisting and turning in unexpected formations, shadows throwing off perspective.  So much unexpected life!  Random cars on the highway.  Where are you headed? Did you just lose the love of your life too?  The serpentine road that took Anne to Tess’s house was full of nocturnal animals, shocked by the car’s headlights, watching Anne pass, pausing to acknowledge her existence in their world, seeming to pay homage to Tess, as if they knew a good soul had passed.

Anne pulled into the driveway.  Tess’s house looked so alive with nearly every light on as if letting anyone who passed know something was amiss.  She steadied herself, walked in, said hello to the old cat purring by his water bowl, and the night nurse sitting in the rocking chair.  Anne’s father stood before her in a t-shirt and pajama pants looking older than he had a week prior.  They hugged briefly before Anne went into Tess’s room.  Tess looked beautiful with the covers up around her shoulders and the pink rosary beads Anne had just given her lying across her chest.  The giant seventies lamp cast a warm glow on the entire room making Tess look as if she was just resting, certainly not dead.  Anne collapsed on her mother’s bed and held Tess, crying like a wounded animal.  Tess’s forehead was still warm but her cheek was cool, almost waxy.  Anne gently rubbed Tess’s hair and cheek just as Tess had done so many times when Anne was a child.  She put her head on her mother’s chest.  The weight of Anne’s head pushed the remaining air out of Tess’s lungs making a ghoulish, cinematic sound and yet Anne felt nothing but comfort resting against her mother.  The last of Tess’s breath exiting and Anne breathing in all she could, taking some of Tess with her.  Internalizing her.  She closed her eyes and may have slept. 

Anne remembers the hospice nurse arriving, removing her stethoscope, and checking for a heartbeat that no longer existed.  I’m sorry for your loss.  God those words feel empty tonight. 

Anne remembers falling asleep next to Tess listening to the sounds of her father weeping upstairs.

Let’s wait until morning to call the funeral home. 

Try to sleep. 

Ok, Dad. 

Anne woke a couple hours later to find Tess very cold and pale.  Mouth firmly open, one eye half parted.  She was gone.  There is a difference Anne now understood in acknowledging the love of your life will soon be gone and living with their absence. 

After months of no tears, the tears came and Anne worried they may never stop.

Anne watched the funeral home director and his assistant place Tess’s body into a black, sterile body bag.  The sound of the zipper so decisive.  A folksy blanket placed over the bag, over Tess, so it didn’t look quite so unnerving.  Tess was wheeled out to hearse and that was it. 

It was over now. 

Something Anne had wished for repeatedly.  Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.  Anne drove home, stopping at Dunkin’ Donuts for a coffee and thinking how funny it was to do something so ordinary when something so life-altering and extraordinary had just occurred.  

The months that followed Tess’s death were foggy.  Anne could barely remember the details of those initial days.  She slept and cried.  Ate when she felt like it and drank too much.  Spring turned into summer and then into fall.  The kids went back to school.  Her husband checked in daily, tending, as best he could, to her grief.  The days passed and Tess was still gone.  The saying life goes on is so horribly true and gut-wrenching when you lose someone you love more than yourself.  The reality of so much life continuing without Tess, some days, just too much to shoulder.

Today Anne’s house was quiet except for their old dog snoring and farting in the hallway.  Christmas had passed and Anne somehow managed to push through it all.  Expectations remained intact.  Expectations are worthless, Anne believed, something she learned shortly after her mother died.  Keep your expectations of other people low and you won’t be disappointed.  Anne’s new mantra, if you want to call it that, brought a sense of peace to her.  She could let go of the raw hurt she felt from those who had disappointed her.  Those who didn’t show up.  How great it felt to be free of everything unnecessary.  Is this what Tess felt now? It was a relief for Anne to rid herself of that weight because there was just too much to carry.  The grief had changed her but into what she was unsure.

Anne made the halfway cookies.  An Avett Brothers song repeated in her head like a tripped record.  Like a prayer.  “No hard feelings, Lord knows they haven’t done much good for anyone.”

 

Chocolate Half Way Cookies

Makes 24 bars

Recipe slightly adapted from Evelyn Hamilton, my grandmother

Ingredients:

1 cup or 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup of sugar

½ cup of brown sugar

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten with 2 tablespoons of water

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 cups of all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon of kosher salt

½ teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 package of chocolate chips

Ingredients for meringue topping:

3 egg whites, beaten stiff

¾ cup brown sugar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a 14×10 jelly roll pan and set aside.

Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder to a medium bowl.  Blend together using a whisk.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides and the bottom once or twice.  Add the egg yolks (with the water), one at a time, until well blended.  Next, add the vanilla.  Beat for a few minutes until everything is blended.  Reduce the speed of your mixer and add the dry ingredients.  Mix on low speed until everything is well combined.  Add the dough to the prepared pan.  Spread it evenly across the pan using your fingertips until the dough covers the entire pan.  Spread the chocolate chips evenly over the dough.  Press the chips into the dough gently.  Set aside.

Beat the egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form.  Add the brown sugar.  Beat for an additional 2 minutes.  Spread the meringue across the prepared dough.  Bake until the meringue and cookie dough are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack completely before cutting.  Once cool, cut into squares and serve.  Halfway cookies are best the day they are made but taste damn good the next day as well.  Enjoy!  Store any leftover cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

5 Cookie Links

Indulge a bit this holiday season and make The Vanilla Bean Blog’s holiday cheesecake cookies.  Yum!

Fudgy brownie crinkle cookies- yes they exist and they look divine!  Head to Mike Bakes NYC for the recipe.

Oatmeal lace cookies are a holiday classic and a sure winner.  Head to Julie Banner for the recipe.

If you love red velvet cake, why not make red velvet cookies?  Food 52 has the recipe for you.

Six years ago, I made these Italian lemon ricotta cookies and they were a huge hit.  Check them out!

Key Lime Ginger Doodles + 5 Can’t Miss Cookie Links

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A change in perspective was all Ann needed.   As the plane hurdled down the runway, ascending through a layer of gauzy clouds reaching an abyss of pale blue nothingness Ann took a deep breath then expelled the air from her lungs bit by bit.  It hurt to breathe so slowly, it hurt to be quiet, to silence her breath so no evidence of relief was obvious to the couple seated next to her.  She did it anyway.

Four hours later she was in a different time zone, breathing thinner air while standing on an empty train platform.  Waiting.  Ann could feel the strength of the mountain sun on her pale Northeast skin.  She thought for sure the tan, athletic woman sitting on the bench could hear her skin sizzle, as if announcing I’m not from here.  This feeling unsettled Ann.  She liked to blend in.

The train pulled into the station making no sound as it came to a stop.  The doors opened with ease.  No one rushed out or pushed her aside, swatting at her like a fly.  Inside the train smelled fresh with no hint of old urine or forgotten food containers, a welcome change to the trains she knew at home.  Ann chose the window seat.

[Always choose the window seat.  His simple instructions resonated with Ann.  Most of the advice she received from well-meaning friends and lovers caused her belly to burn, her jaw to tighten as if Ann’s body knew before her mind she would never take their advice anyway.]

She plopped down in seat, rearranged her shirt, pulled on her too tight jeans until satisfied and somewhat comfortable.  Across the isle three women from Minnesota, friends, chatted about margaritas, Mexican food they couldn’t wait to devour and the Zach Brown concert they would attend with full bellies and foggy brains.  Ann listened to them chat for a while, a little jealous of their intimacy, yet relieved to be alone. Unrecognizable in a city she barely knew.  Free.  And when one of the women turned and smiled at Ann, a gesture of kindness to most, Ann turned and faced the window.  The stranger’s smile seemed to say I see you, Ann.  The last thing she wanted today, and yet the only thing she wanted most days.  Careful what you wish for her mother said.  You just might get it.  Ann picked at her nail bed until it bled.

The train picked up speed and the station disappeared.  The land lay this way and that appearing painted and untouched.  Ann found the flat earth, dry and scorched from the sun, the sapphire sky, the still snow-covered Rockies in the distance disorienting.  It hurt to look at the mountains, to see something new and beautiful, after so many years of the same.  The mountains have a funny way of drawing you back to yourself when you have strayed too far. 

Ann put on her sunglasses, hoping her eyes would stop aching.  Soon her stop would be announced.  She would exit the train, breathe in the mountain air.  Across the tracks her sister, Gracie, would be waiting for her, eager and beautiful in the world she created thousands of miles away from Ann.  They would hug.  Gracie’s hair would smell like the baked snickerdoodles they ate as kids, weed, and sweat from her morning run.  Ann relieved to be in her arms again would hug longer than expected.

All of this would happen or none of it.  Ann hadn’t decided yet.

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Key Lime Ginger Doodles

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Recipe adapted from BraveTart

Ingredients:

2 + 1/3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 + ½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 ¼ cups sugar

2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons of key lime juice

1 large egg

¼ cup raw sugar

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

1-2 tablespoons key lime juice or to taste

Pinch of salt

Directions for cookies:

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and ginger in a medium bowl.   Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat on medium speed the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice.  Reduce speed and add the egg.  Mix on medium speed until combined.  Next add the key lime juice.  The mixture may curdle but don’t worry it will come back together!  Reduce the speed and add the dry ingredients.  Mix on low-speed until just combined.

Use a cookie scoop (I used a medium scoop or 1+1/2 tablespoon scoop) to form round balls.  Roll the balls in the raw sugar.  Divide the dough between the two cookie sheets, twelve cookies per baking sheet.   Bake the cookies until puffy and lightly golden brown, about 8 minutes.  (Be sure not to over bake so check at 6 minutes!)  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cookies cool, make the key lime icing.  In a small bowl mix together the confectioners’ sugar, key lime juice and salt until completely smooth.  Add more juice if needed.  Add more sugar for desired consistency, if needed.   Set aside.

Once the cookies are completely cool, decorate with key lime icing as desired.  Enjoy!

***Cookies taste best the day they are made but will last in air-tight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.***

 

5 Can’t Miss Cookie Links

Looking for a unique spin on a shortbread cookie? Check out Food 52s honey-butter chip shortbread cookie recipe. Honey, butter and potato chips? How can you go wrong!

Vegan shortbread cookies do exist.  Head to Love & Lemons for their vegan almond shortbread cookie recipe.

I love chocolate and ginger together especially in cookie form.  Head to i am baker and check out Amanda’s chocolate caramel ginger cookie recipe.  Don’t wait until the holidays to make them!

Celebrate summer with mojito cookie bars! Go Bold with Butter has the recipe for you.  Check it out!

S’mores cookies by Sweet Paul magazine claims to be better than sex.  Curious?  Head here for the recipe.

 

 

Pineapple Coconut Granola Biscotti + 5 Biscotti Links!

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Ann drove away from her childhood home knowing two things: her mother would be dead soon and her marriage was over.  The sudden clarity of her situation sucked all of the air right out of her dirty, crumb covered car.  She thought of pulling over, taking a minute, breathing but there was no time for something so self-serving.  School would be out soon.  The kids expected her, as they did every weekday after school.  She didn’t want to disappoint them.  [Disappointment would come soon enough.} So Ann drove with the window down taking in big gulps of the damp, early spring air, her fingertips turning white as she gripped the steering wheel as if gripping the wheel hard enough would somehow change the direction of her life.

Ann reached a stop sign just as the sun split the clouds.  She glanced at her dry, pale hands, spun her mother’s sixty-nine-year-old engagement ring which sat nestled underneath her own wedding band.  Every spin reminding her that Tess had been married for sixty-two years, fifty years longer than Anne’s volatile marriage to David.  She resented her mother’s successful marriage.  Tess had always been a difficult and demanding woman, putting her needs far above Ann and her father.  And yet, William adored Tess.  [William’s one indiscretion early in their marriage, followed by a mysterious tire slashing and a six-month stint at a local apartment complex changed the trajectory of his married life.  His daughter, too young to remember, would see a devoted husband. A doormat if she was being more honest.  William saw survival.]

Ann never understood her mother, nor, did she care to look closer at Tess.  And just to piss Tess off, Ann chose to be accommodating, easy-going.  She twisted herself like a noodle fitting into the crevices of others, never understanding the more she let go, the more she lost.  By the time she met David, Anne was like a patched quilt, mismatched bits and pieces, thoughts, likes, and dislikes of all she had encountered sewn together forming an unknown woman.

And now?  Anne liked what David liked.  His thoughts were her thoughts.  Ann’s every imaginable need or desire mirrored David’s.  She felt content in his image.  Until that morning she thought for the first time, Tess will be dead soon. [Relief flushed her cheeks.]  Until some hour later that morning she watched her kids nibble on the biscotti she had made the day before, their heads bowed down, barely looking at her as she gave her husband, their father, a perfunctory kiss goodbye.

[What do they see when they look at me? They saw a lost woman. 

Ann would never know this harsh truth.  A blessing and a curse.] 

Ann’s belly tightened.  She felt beads of sweat under her sagging breasts and acid in her throat.  She stared at her children and wondered if her own mother ever felt so invisible.  Did it matter if she had?  Would it have changed anything for Tess?

 “Mama?”

“Time to get dressed.”

The day would start the same, the day would end the same, and in between, Anne would make a decision.  There was no good decision or bad decision, just a choice which led to a path and all that followed.

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Pineapple Coconut Granola Biscotti

Makes about 36 cookies

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour plus more for rolling out

1 + 1/2 cups rolled oats plus 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup raw sugar or granulated (I used raw sugar.)

1/4 light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 cup dried sweetened pineapple, chopped into small pieces

zest of 1 orange

1 egg white

Directions:

Using a small bowl, mix together the flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Grab a large bowl.  Add the melted butter and sugars.  Whisk well.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and orange zest and whisk until well combined.   Stir in all of the dry ingredients.  The batter will be stiff.

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Like a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.  Put a bit of flour on your hands and on a clean countertop.  Roll half of the dough into a log about 12-14 inches long.  Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet.  Pat and roll log until it becomes more oval-shaped.  Repeat this process with the second half of the dough.  Beat egg white until foamy.  Using a pastry brush, cover the dough logs with the whipped egg white.  Bake until beginning to crack and turn golden brown, 20-30 minutes.  (Check at 20 minutes!  I baked the dough for closer to 30 minutes.)

Allow to cool completely, about 1 hour.  Using a serrated knife gently cut the biscotti on the bias into 1/2 inch slices.  Spread out cut biscotti on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for another 20 minutes.  Cool for a few minutes after removing from the oven, then allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Store biscotti in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.  Enjoy!

5 Biscotti Links To Check Out!

Celebrate a friend’s birthday this year with funfetti biscotti.  Molly Yeh from My Name is Yeh has the recipe for you.  Check it out!

Looking to bake something sweet and bright to lighten up a gray spring day? Check out King Arthur Flour’s lemon almond biscotti or Vegetarian Ventures citrus biscotti with hibiscus glaze. 

Craving chocolate? Me too.  Once Upon A Chef has a recipe for a double chocolate biscotti that is making my mouth water!

If you prefer savory over sweet, check out Molly Yeh’s parmesan rosemary biscotti.  I bet it pairs well with a nice glass of white wine and a sunny, seventy-degree day.

Double Chocolate Tahini Cookies + 5 Tahini Dessert Recipes

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“Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation.  The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.”   
David Whyte Everything is Waiting for You

 

She knows me.  All of the beautiful, funny, ugly parts of me.  She sees my life now, not as the whole picture, but a small piece of the story.  A friendship like that is a lifeline when the world seems unrelenting.  So, it would seem shocking to think I almost didn’t answer her call the other afternoon.

Cut the rope and let me drift out to sea.  No!  She screams.  You drift away and we are both lost.  

I stared at my phone, picked up on the fifth ring.  A quiet “hi” and “how are you, Kel?” Twenty-three years of her voice, a “hi”, a simple question; she is as comforting to me as anything I have ever known.  Words came, trickling, one after another to her, an inlet discovered just in time.

My son’s recent Autism diagnosis had muted my words, left my mind torpid, my heart divided. Relief and sadness intertwined, choking my voice.  I needed space, a dark cave, time.  And she knew all of this because she fights the same beast, she wears the same albatross around her neck.  Though our conversation was brief, I felt better than I had in months.  Something in me cracked, revealing a sliver of light.  And then.  Gratitude and love followed, marching ferociously back, surrounding me.  [You are not alone!  You. Are. Not. Alone!]  If I were a religious woman I may have fallen on my knees, given thanks to him/her for the blessing of this friendship.  But I am not.  Instead, I picked my kids up from school, made a batch of cookies and poured myself a glass of wine.

Double Chocolate Tahini Cookies

Savory tahini replaces peanut butter and pairs perfectly with chocolate in this traditional cookie recipe

recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s peanut butter cookies

Makes 3 dozen (using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop)

Ingredients:

1 + 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup light roasted tahini,  at room temperature (be sure to mix in the oil well before measuring)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon of milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet)

raw sugar and festive decorations for sprinkling, optional but adds a yummy crunch

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside. Slowly, melt the 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on the stove top or in the microwave.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or an electric mixer, beat the butter and tahini until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add sugar and dark brown sugar.  Beat until fluffy, about 3 more minutes.  Add the milk and vanilla extract.  Add melted chocolate.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure everything is well incorporated.  Add the flour and mix until well combined.  Lastly, stir in the dark chocolate chips.

Place raw sugar and/or decorative sprinkles on a plate.  Using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop, place cookie balls in sugar, roll around and cover completely.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Gently, make a cross-hatch pattern with a fork on each cookie or lightly press on the cookies with an off-set spatula.  ( I used an offset spatula.)

Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes.  Be sure not to over bake! The cookies may look under baked, but as long as they are puffed and just set at the edges you are all set!  Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.  Cookies will last in an air-tight container, at room temperature, for 2 days.  Enjoy!

5 Tahini Dessert Recipe You Must Check Out!

Molly Yeh’s chocolate tahini cake with rosemary buttercream is stunning and sounds delicious.  Check it out here!

Chocolate tahini cake two ways, curious?  The Brick Kitchen has the recipe for you.

Tis’ the season for cookies so add something new to your Christmas cookie plater this year with NYT’s salted tahini chocolate chip cookies and A Cozy Kitchen’s tahini concord grape thumbprint cookies.

If quick breads are your go to when it comes to holiday baking, check out my recipe for tahini chocolate chip banana bread.  It is delicious!

Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Butter Cookies + 5 Can’t Miss Holiday Cookie Links

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Do you know 2am?  I’m guessing, yes.  You see the pitch-dark shadows, you hear creaking pipes.  Nearby deep,heavy breaths attempt to lull you to…sleep.  And yet.  One side proves as uncomfortable as the other, stomach, back, side again.  Round and round you go. Thoughts simultaneously occur, then evaporate into the cool night air, as if never thought.

Do not believe everything you tell  yourself late at night.  [Who said this?]   But, you do.  And then you carry them around with like a small child, tending to their needs.  They don’t need you. The people in this house/home, they need you.  

So, you drag your weary body out of bed, walk around a bit, looking for answers in another room.  [Cold floor meets warm feet, shocking you from the bottom to the top, leaving goosebumps on your bare arms.  Shiver followed by a longing for the bed that provides no respite.]  Answers are not found.

What’s the alternative?  Return.  Try again.  This time…

The god awful bed you curse at 2:37am welcomes you back like desperate lover.  You give in, conceding, this time, because a bit of comfort and rest is better than none at all.

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Chocolate Dipped Rosemary Butter Cookies

A savory, sweet, even floral cookie with a crunchy exterior meets chocolate and falls in love.  Cookie conceived at 2am.

Makes about 2 dozen

Butter Cookie Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 sticks or 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature ( I used Plugra Butter)

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

1 egg white

4 tablespoon raw sugar

festive sprinkles for decorating, optional

2 inch round cookie cutter, optional

Directions:

Using a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy.  Add sugar and continue to beat for about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom once or twice.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined.

Slowly add the flour, beating until the dough just comes together.

Place the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap and press into a 8 inch circle.  Chill the dough for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 375F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.  Place chilled cookie dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper.  Lightly flour rolling-pin and roll out dough to 1/4 inch thick.

Using a 2 inch round cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on prepared baking sheets. (If cookies become difficult to cut out, freeze dough for 15 minutes, then proceed.)  Brush cookies with egg white and sprinkle with raw sugar.  Bake until puffed and golden brown at the edges, about  10-12 minutes.   Allow to cool on pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling,  gently melt chocolate chips on the stove-top or in the microwave.

Once cookies are cool, dip in melted chocolate and place on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Add festive sprinkles to chocolate, if desired.  Enjoy!

*Cookies will last up to 5 days.  Store in an air-tight container at room temperature.*

5 Can’t Miss Cookie Links for the Holidays

If you are a fan on linzer cookies, head to The Whole Bite for a chocolate linzer cookie recipe with dulce de leche.   I love this twist on a classic!

Still craving all things pumpkin?  Satisfy your craving with a batch of pumpkin cookies with brown sugar frosting.  Head to Creme de la Crumb for the recipe.

Crackle cookies are always a hit the holiday cookie swap.  Check out She Wears Many Hats double chocolate crackle cookie recipe.  Yum!

Have you ever tried an alfajore cookie?  I have the recipe for you.

This is a chocolaty twist on my favorite holiday cookie.  Check out the recipe here.

Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies + 5 Bake Sale Hits For the School Year

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My sister took refuge in baking long before I joined her.  While I retreated from our volatile family life with a book in hand, she baked.  Chocolate chip cookies, dozens at a time, made in our grandmother’s no frills kitchen.  And when my grandmother chirped “chocolate chip cookies again?!”, both a question and a criticism, she remained intent on producing another dozen of warm, gooey, crisp chocolate chip cookies.  Unwavering and focused at just 10 years of age.

Flour, baking soda, salt set aside in a small, banged up metal bowl.  Butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla mixed in a large, partially chipped glass bowl until fluffy, while a timeworn  hand-held mixer rested on a white and gold-speckled Formica countertop.  Ten year old hands eager to the add the chocolate chips and sample the raw dough.

She immersed herself in a simple formula, soothed by nearly the same, pleasing results every time.  Her quiet, almost mechanical process allowed for an escape from our uncertain reality.  Just three years her senior, I admired her peaceful focus from a distance, unable (or unwilling) to fully understand it.  And though I enjoyed every sweet bite, dozens after dozens, I never asked “chocolate chip cookies again?”  Unspoken air and a smile were enough.

Twenty-five years later and I bake for the same reasons she began baking: a refuge from that which we cannot control.  I should thank her.  And yet, once again, unspoken air and a smile seem to be enough.

Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies

A crisp and light chocolate chip cookie with the addition of a nut-free granola makes for a fun twist on a classic combo!

recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker Levain Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 2 dozen

Ingredients:

3 cups of bread flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup or 2 sticks, unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/2 sugar

2 eggs, cold

1 tablespoon of milk (any kind)

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 + 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips

1 cup of granola (Your favorite recipe, store-bought or the recipe listed below)

Directions:

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Grab a medium bowl and whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until it comes together as one.  Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat for an additional 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula after each addition.  Add the vanilla.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and 1 tablespoon of milk.  Do not over mix!  Stir in granola and chocolate chips.  Place dough in an air-tight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 375F.  Scoop out a 1/4 cup of cookie dough with your hands and roughly shape it into a ball. Place on prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch between each cookie.  Continue with remaining dough.  Bake until a light golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.  Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then place on a wire rack to cool completely.  Cookies stored in an air-tight container will last up to 2 days.  I think these cookies are best the day they are made.  Serve with a cold glass of milk.  Enjoy!

Nut-free Granola

recipe adapted from Cookie + Kate’s Healthy Granola

makes about 6 cups

Ingredients:

4 cups old fashion oats

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup millet, rinsed

1/2 wheat germ

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup maple syrup or honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl combine, oats, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, millet and wheat germ.  Add the oil, maple syrup and vanilla.  Stir until every oat is covered in the oil and maple syrup.

Spread granola evenly across prepared baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.  Allow the granola to cool completely, undisturbed,  on the sheet pan.  Break into chunks and store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.  Enjoy!

5 Bake Sale Hits You Should Check Out!

Looking for a gluten-free cookie option for your next bake-sale?  Head to My Gluten-Free Kitchen for a chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe that will win the hearts of all kids.

Brownies are always a hit.  Head to Alexandra’s Kitchen for Fine Cooking’s rich, fudgy brownies recipe.

Cupcakes make people smile.  Head to Sweetest Kitchen for a chocolate cupcakes with fudge frosting recipe that is sure to pull in some fast cash!

Sugar cookie bars with lemon cream cheese frosting.  Just make them.  Head to Two Peas and Their Pod for the recipe.

Check out Baked By Rachel’s snickerdoodle blondie bars.  They are on my must make list!