Homemade Halloween Oreo Cookies

 

Halloween OreosI love Oreos. Lately, every time I go to the grocery store I see Halloween Oreos on display. The kids beg for them, but I say no. I am so tempted to buy them but I resist because I have a problem with this cookie. I can’t have just one. I need to have many usually with a cold glass of milk. I am not sure if it is the processed cream filling or the perfectly crunchy cookie that gets me every time. Either way I avoid them.

Months ago I found a recipe for homemade Oreos in Joanne Chang’s Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Café and I thought this could be dangerous. Typically, for this holiday, I make sugar cookies, pull out the Halloween cookie cutters and let the kids go nuts. This year I decided to try something different because sometimes I have to shake things up a bit. When C watched me put a few drops of orange food dye into the cream filling, her eyes widen and she asked me “are you making Halloween Oreos?” When I told her yes, she nearly collapsed with excitement. She couldn’t wait to try them and neither could I.

Chang’s recipe for homemade Oreos is not nearly as sweet as the store-bought version but they are delicious. I mean really, really good. This is a very rich chocolate cookie with a fresh buttercream filling. The cookie itself is perfectly crunchy and the buttercream is not overly sweet but works so well with the intense chocolate flavor of the cookie. They are easy to make though do require some planning ahead. The dough needs to firm up at room temperature for about an hour and then rest in the fridge for another two hours.

The cookies taste best the day they are made but still taste dam good for several days if stored in an airtight container. I think nothing is better than a fresh cookie with a glass of milk. Actually, watching the kids eat them, as they tell me about their day totally unaware of the Oreo mustache that has formed around their sweet little lips is better. It’s the little things.

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I made the vanilla buttercream filling first and added a few drops of Americolor food coloring. The filling will last at room temperature for up to two days or refrigerated for a week. If refrigerated bring to room temperature before spreading on the cookies.

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After making the cream filling, I made the cookie dough. Both melted and cooled semi-sweet chocolate chips and Dutch-processed cocoa powder are added to the melted butter sugar mixture. So good!

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After the cookies baked for about 20 minutes and cooled a bit, I assembled them. I added a heaping tablespoonful of filling but feel free to add more! C’mon, treat yourself this Halloween. The cookies can be stored in an air tight container for several days but I bet they won’t last that long!

Homemade Halloween Oreos

Recipe from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery and Café

Make about 18 sandwich cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup or two sticks of unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled a bit

1 egg

11/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

Vanilla Cream Filling Ingredients:

1/2 cup or 1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

12/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp. milk

pinch of kosher salt

a few drops of orange food coloring

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until well mixed. Whisk in the vanilla and melted but cooled chocolate. Add the egg and whisk until thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda until well mixed. Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The dough may seem like it won’t come together. If necessary use your hands to finish incorporating. The dough will seem thick and a bit dry. Let it sit a room temperature for about an hour.

Transfer dough to large square of parchment paper and use your hands to the shape the dough into a 10 inch log about 21/2 inches in diameter. Roll the parchment paper around the dough and roll the log into a longer smoother log, still keeping it at 21/2 inch diameter. Refrigerate for about 2 hours or wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for about a week.

Pre-heat your oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices and place them about an 1 inch apart. Bake for about 20 minutes but start checking them after 16 minutes. When they feel firm remove them from the oven. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet to slightly warm or room temperature.

Do not fill the cookies when they are hot!

While the cookies are cooling make the vanilla cream filling. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on low-speed until totally smooth and creamy. Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the milk, salt and about 3 drops of orange food coloring and beat until smooth. The filling can be stored at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for about a week.

Select two cookies and fill with a heaping tablespoon of filling to make a sandwich. Continue with remaining cookies. Share with family and friends, if you can!

The Hunt for the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

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I love chocolate chip cookies. In fact if my last dessert on this earth was a warm chocolate chip cookie with a cold glass of milk, I would die happy.

When I come across a new recipe for the “best chocolate chip cookie ever” I usually try it. All across Pinterest, the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe keeps popping up. I read the recipe a couple of times and thought about trying it but pushed it aside mainly because the dough needs to rest for 24-72 hours. I am not a patient woman, especially when it comes to cookies. A couple of days ago the recipe appeared on the blog Tidy Mom. I felt oddly patient that day and very curious to see if this is indeed the best chocolate chip cookie ever. It is. The outer cookie has a nice crispness and the addition of the sea salt sprinkled on top of the cookie before it bakes highlights the sweetness of the chocolate. It was almost too much happiness for my taste buds to handle at once but then I got to the middle where the chocolate melts and the crumb is soft and I felt ecstatic.

If you don’t have cake and bread flour already, go out now and buy it. If you don’t have sea salt; get it. It requires a lot of chocolate but it is so worth it! Set aside time for the dough to rest. Be patient. It is worth the wait. Once you bake the cookies and they have cooled a bit share with the people you love with a cold glass of milk. Sit back and smile.

_KH10003Be sure to cream the butter and sugars for about 5 minutes, scrapping down the bowl once or twice.

_KH10005I used a combination of Guittard’s super melt chips and dark chocolate chips. The super melts are large and flat and melt nicely into any cookie, brownie or blondie.

_KH10021I used an ice cream scoop to get consistent golf ball sized cookies. Be sure to sprinkle sea salt on the cookie before they bake.

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The cookies should bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

barely adapted from NY Times Recipe found on Tidy Mom

makes about 3 dozen

**Cookie dough chills for 24-72 hours. These cookies are worth the wait!**

Ingredients:

2 cups minus tbsp unbleached cake flour

1 2/3 cups bread flour

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4lbs dark chocolate ( I used Guittard)

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt or Sea Salt

Directions:

Sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl once or twice while creaming the butter and sugar mixture. Add your eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add your dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in chocolate.

Place dough in an air tight container with plastic wrap pressed against the surface, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours but up to 72 hours.

After the dough has rested for 24-72 hours, pre heat your oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out golf ball size rounds of dough. I used an ice cream scoop for this part. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt and bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. Transfer entire cookie sheet  to wire rack and allow to cool for about 10 minutes and then place on wire rack to cool a for little longer. Enjoy the cookie warm with a glass of cold milk.

Grapefruit Crinkle Cookies + Strawberry Summer Cake

“I give you this to take with you: Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.” Judith Minty, Letters to My Daughters

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We spent the weekend packing. It is odd how quickly a home can change when everything that defined the house is placed in a box. Suddenly, something so familiar and comforting becomes stark and cold. You see the house with different eyes. You separate yourself from it because you know it is easier to let go of it and what it meant to you than to carry it with you. Once all the stuff is packed you realize it is just that: stuff, replaceable crap. It is not so much the walls you will miss but the life, the moments, that place in time you cannot get back. It is accepting that “nothing remains as it was.”

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Though not planned, it seems fitting that our best friends, the couple that introduced us to this house and this town 6 years ago came over for our last dinner with friends. I was newly pregnant with Charlotte when they mentioned the condo above them was for sale. Bubba and I took a look and 3 months later we left Boston for the burbs. We spent 5 years living in the same multi-family above two of our favorite people. It was like living with family who respected boundaries. It was built in social time for new parents who were a little shocked by how much a baby had changed everything.   Babies were born, jobs changed, friends and family married and divorced, a loved one passed, kids grew and we aged too. It sounds corny but the passage of time is so dam beautiful and heart-breaking all at the same time.

Surrounded by boxes and bubble wrap we spent our last Saturday night at the table chatting, laughing and drinking beer. It is what we do best when we are together.  I made 2 desserts; desserts that are perfect to share with friends.

Grapefruit Crinkle Cookies

Adapted from White on Rice Couple’s Meyer Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup packed light brown  sugar

1/2 cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 Tablespoon of Grapefruit zest

2 Tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice

1/4 cup  confectioners sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda for a minute and set aside.

Zest the grapefruit so you have 1 Tablespoon of zest. In a small bowl add grapefruit zest to the 1/2 cup of sugar and blend together with your fingers.  This will make the sugar very fragrant and you will end up with a tastier cookie.

In a mixer, with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and grapefruit sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract, egg and grapefruit juice until well combined.  After two or three minutes scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for several minutes to make sure everything is well incorporated.

Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all of the flour mixed into the dough.

Sift the confectioners sugar on a large plate. Make the dough into 1 inch sized balls. (A small cookie scoop works great here.) Roll the balls in the confectioners sugar then place a couple of inches apart on the lined cookie sheets.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies just begin to turn golden and the tops of the cookies no longer look wet. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Strawberry Summer Cake

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for 9 or 10 spring-form pan

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of oat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

7/8 cup of granulated sugar (1 cup of sugar minus two tablespoons)

1 large egg

1/2 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pound  strawberries, hulled and halved

2 Tablespoons Turbinado Sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. ( A nine or ten inch deep dish pie pan will also work. A standard pie plate will not work here because the batter will overflow.)

Whisk  flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.  In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and 7/8 cup of sugar until pale and fluffy with about 3 minutes. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Slowly, add dry mixture mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. You may need to overlap them to get all of them on the batter. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes at 350°F then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown or until a tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Wet strawberries on the tester are ok.) Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream.

Cake can be stored, loosely covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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Birthday Granola and Funfetti Cookies

My little sister, Jamie, is about to turn 32 on May 3rd. She lives in Denver with her fantastic husband, John and their sweet little boy Dezmond. She is strong, smart, loyal and loving. She is a great mother. I miss her terribly. The years speed up once you have kids. That saying “the days are long but the years are short” rings more true now than ever. The miles that separate us frustrate me. I miss her. I miss my nephew. The days go by too fast. Slow it down. Lets just stop for a minute and breathe. I wish I could hop on a plane and be with her for the start of her 32nd year but I can’t, not this time. So instead I bake two of her favorite things to eat and ship them to her hoping that when she opens this package she will know that I love her and think of her often.

Happy Birthday Jame.  Miss you so. xo

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Basic Granola Recipe

slightly adapted from Cannelle at Vanille

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Ingredients

3 cups  rolled oats (you can use gluten-free)
1 1/2 cups  nuts and seeds – I used a combination of whole almonds and pumpkin seeds (any kind of seed and nut combination can work here)

1/2 cup  apple juice
1/2 cup  maple syrup (or honey)
1/4 cup coconut oil or canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cup (180 g) dried fruit – I used dried blueberries, strawberries, bing cherries and cranberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 325F

Combine the oats, nuts and seeds in a large bowl.

Mix together apple juice, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, cinnamon, sea salt and black pepper in a medium saucepan. Gently heat all together until salt is dissolved and coconut oil is melted. Pour liquid over the dry oat mixture and toss to coat. Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes until golden. Be sure to stir the mixture about every 15 minutes to make sure it is evenly baked.

Let the granola cool completely. It will become crunchier as it cools. Stir in the dried fruit when completely cool. Store in an airtight container for a few weeks. Makes a great gift too!

Funfetti Cookies

barely adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

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Ingredients:

1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature

1-¼ cup sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 egg

2-½ cups flour

¼ cups cornstarch

¾ teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoons salt

½ cups rainbow jimmie sprinkles

2 tablespoons nonpareil sprinkles

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Cream the butter and sugar in stand mixer (or hand mixer) for about 2 minutes, until fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg. Beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sift in the flour, cornstarch, soda, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and continue on low-speed until it’s all added and combined. Mix in the sprinkles (don’t overmix or the sprinkles will start to bleed into the dough). I mixed them by hand.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop cookie dough onto cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart (fits 8 cookies per sheet). Bake for about 15 minutes. (Note: Only bake until they very slightly start to turn light golden brown just on the edges. You don’t want them to totally turn golden or they’ll be crisp cookies. Check them around 10 minutes, then 12, and so on.) Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 4 days.