Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brother:  Hey Kayla do you think we could make chocolate chip cookies and put bacon in them?

Me: Uhhh, yeah.  Definitely.

Brother:  Cool. 

Yep, that simple convo is how it started.  A little flicker of an idea in that big guy’s head and our baking adventure began.  I think this was the first time I’ve ever baked with my brother.  Sure we’d made dinner together a time or two when we both lived in California.  I’d come over to his house and we would work our way through our mom’s green chile chicken enchilada recipe, but baking?  Nope… that has always been my job.

His number one request is always chocolate chip cookies.  Always, always, and always.  I bet he could eat an entire batch in one sitting… but I think I could too so I’m not that impressed.

Of course, I have baked for him many, many times.  But he never makes much more than burnt popcorn for me.  Wah wahhh.   So naturally I figured his spark of bacon genius would leave me to do the “work” and he would be left with a very tasty reward.  Not that I mind making the cookies it’s just the fairness factor between siblings that is stuck in the back of my mind.  Example:

Brother: Hey Kayla can you get me some water?

Me:  Yeah, next time I get up from the same couch you are on and go to the kitchen I’ll get you one.

…. the next day

Me: Nick can you grab me a kleenex… they’re right there next to you.

Brother: (walks over to the couch) Did you want me to get you something?

This is just one example of a give and take imbalance in this relationship.

To my surprise he helped me out in the end.  I watched, very carefully and slightly controllingly (is that a word? Nope.), as he measured the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  I may have hovered over his shoulder a little bit as he creamed the butter and sugar.  I definitely had to help him put the food processor on the right way.

But really, he helped a lot.  And I really enjoyed it.

Especially when he did the dishes. (what?!)

When the timer went off we were both anticipating what was to come.  Would they taste good?  Would it just be weird?  Too much bacon?  Or worse, not enough?

In the end, and after several taster cookies, I decided that they were perfect for my mouth buds.  I like the subtle salty, smoky flavor that sneaks up on your taste buds.  Since the bacon is ground into small pieces each bite is flecked with a few bacon-y gems.  Not overwhelming but noticeable.  I still feel like I’m eating a choco chip cookie, which was important to me.

I give a high five to the man with idea… Nick, you did well.

Now go to the gym…

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe adapted from nestle tollhouse

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
  • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat liner.
  2. In a food processor, grind bacon into small pieces about the size of a pebble.  Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. One at a time add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture until fully incorporated, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Pour flour mixture into butter mixture and stir until combined.
  7. Add chocolate chips and bacon stirring until fully incorporated.
  8. Using a small ice cream scoop or a large spoon drop about a tablespoon of dough onto the baking sheet.
  9. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 9-10 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 3-5 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.  Or eat one right away when its still warm!

*Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  Have leftovers?  Freeze them!

Cranberry Orange Poppy Seed Shortbread

I have been out of the loop for what seems like quite some time.  Life has been full of transitions, travels, and… I’m trying to think of another “t” word that would describe my life as of late but I can’t… maybe tasty?  Yes, we’ll go with that.

I’ve acquired a new job, taken a little jaunt around Europe, and eaten lots of delicious food over the past month or so but I have also been missing this space.  A place to come and share a thought, a story, or a weird habit.  A time to speak to no one.  A page for anyone to read.

I also missed the kitchen.  I missed beating butter and cracking eggs.  I missed the smell of ingredients blending together and wafting through the house when all was said and done.  And I missed telling you about what’s in my oven baking.  So lets just jump right into this…

Shortbread cookies remind me of girl scouts and my mom.  My mom always loved the girl scout shortbread cookies when I was little and I could never figure that out.  Did she know there were thin mints and tag-a-longs?  My little brain was baffled at the thought of a cookie involving chocolate being trumped by one that was just stamped with the girl scout symbol.

As with most cookies, these shortbreads start by beating butter and sugar together.  Lots of butter inhibits the formation of gluten and gives shortbread its crumbly texture.  Egg is added to act as a binder and vanilla for a touch of flavor!

This is really where things get good.  Cranberries, orange zest, and poppy seeds are mixed in to the dough.  The smell of orange and cranberry is quite refreshing and strangely alluring.  It took everything in me to not eat all of the dough right from the bowl.  Siren song!

After all the goodies are added the dough gets shaped into a log, wrapped in waxed paper, and chilled.  Then we’re on to slicing!  My favorite part.  A serrated knife slides easily through the dough making the process sort of relaxing.

The finished product is beautifully dotted with ruby, orange, and black.  The texture is crumbly and buttery and the fragrance alone will be leave you desiring a second (or third).

They even almost made me forget about the chocolate cookies I was going to bake next!  Almost.

Cranberry Orange Poppy Seed Shortbread

Recipe from Joy the Baker Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberry
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Directions

  1. In a small bowl whisk together flour and salt.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl beat together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until well incorporated, about another 2 minutes.  Scrape the sides of the bowl down when necessary.
  3. Add the flour mixture, orange zest, poppy seeds, and cranberries all at once.  Mix until just combined.
  4. Removed dough from bowl and divide in half.  Place each half on a sheet of waxed paper.  Shape into a log about 1 inch in diameter.  Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least three hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  6. Remove dough from refrigerator and slice into 1/3 inch thick rounds.  Place on baking sheet about 1 inch apart.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.  Remove from oven.  After 10 minutes transfer cookies to cool rack to cool completely.  Store well wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days.

~Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

We’re all unsuspecting, really.  We all just have this body, this exterior that we could fool anybody with.  You know what I’m talking about.  Don’t try to act like you don’t!  I know you’ve got a lot going on inside that never quite makes it to the surface.  It’s okay, I do too.

Because inside I’m quite the talker.  Just in my head though.  Or when I have a drink or two. But thats a different subject.  Inside, I have lots of opinions.  Inside, I analyze like nobody’s business.  Inside, I feel totally normal being totally awkward.  Inside, I’m quite curious.. like George.

Inside, I’m a little crazy.  Inside, I think I’m good singer… then that comes out I realize, once again, that I’m not.  Inside, I should myself a lot… I should do this, I should do that.  But inside, I don’t want to do most of those things.  Inside, I’m a nervous… a lot.

Over the years I’ve gotten good at hiding the inside.  I’ve been perfecting the filter that only allows out the things I think most people will approve of.  Wanting approval, acceptance, a place to belong I shove inside the things about myself that are different in order to fit the body that someone else has constructed.  I feel like I’ve been doing this for as long as I can remember.

I’ve been slowly waking up to this reality that I don’t know who I am exactly.  Or more correctly, that I don’t know how to let it out.

My best friend came to visit last week.  I was continually noticing the ease with which we interact.  The walls were down and the inside flowed to the surface.  We have a transparency with one another that I don’t feel with most people.  But it brought to light how much I want and need that in my life.

 It also brought to light how much cookies aid the process to transparency.  Give a girl a cookie and she’ll open up a little bit.

Give a girl a chocolate cookie with peanut butter inside and she’ll divulge all the craziness going on inside.

And its awesome.

These cookies, too, are unsuspecting.  Much like the people you run into everyday, their exterior only conveys so much.  Chocolate.  That is undeniable.  But whats inside is the treat.  The treasure to this cookie lies right in the center.  Slightly salty with just enough sweetness, the peanut butter surprise offers just that..  a surprise to your taste buds.  And one that I assure you will be welcomed.

Chocolate comes in two forms in this cookie.  Powder and chip.  Double the chocolate, double the fun.  This cookie crisps on the edges and softens as it centers around the peanut butter filling.  It might take a bit or two to get to the center but it’s an enjoyable trip to get there.  And finally, chocolate and peanut butter unite once again to form a delicious union!

I totally suspected that would happen.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

Recipe from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used minis)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

Directions

  1. Mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer or using a hand mixer, beat together butter granulated sugar and 1 cup brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated.  Add in vanilla.
  3. On low speed slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for about 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together peanut butter and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar.
  6. Remove dough from refrigerator.  Using a 1 1/4 inch scoop or heaping tablespoon, drop balls of dough onto baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  The cookies will spread quite a bit so be sure to give them ample room to grow.  Using your thumb, make an imprint in the center of each ball.  Place 1 teaspoon of peanut butter filling into each thumbprint.  Scoop a second ball of dough, flatten it with your fingers, and mold it over the peanut butter filling.
  7. Bake until firm, about 12 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool on pan for about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack to continue cooling.  Repeat process with remaining dough and filling.

~The dough started to be tough to work with when I was molding the tops onto the bottom.  If this happens to you just put a little bit of flour on a plate and dip your fingers in the flour before flattening the dough.

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

March is going swimmingly well so far, which is good since its one of the best months of the year.  Lots of good stuff to look forward to this month.  And good things have already happened… the sun was out on Friday AND Sunday last weekend.  Say what?  If thats not a sign of a good month ahead then I don’t know what is.

Later this month my friend Becky and her lover boy, Pete, are getting married.  So exciting!   And guess what?  My mom and I are making all the food.  It should be an adventure!

A crazy, stress filled one, I’m sure.  But it should be fun… I think.  I’m projecting that I’ll cry at least once because I’ll be all frazzled.  No biggie.  I used to cry at the drop of a hat.  I finally got ahold of myself though.

Really, the wedding will be a piece of cake compared to facing the fact that I’m graduating from college in 2 weeks.  Really? Graduating? Like totally done?

Oh, geez.  I have to find a job.  Just the thought makes me cry.  I’m just kidding.  I’ve only cried about 10 times over having no idea what I’m doing after graduation.  Its a big milestone so more cry sessions are allowed.  Right?

There are two things that I won’t be crying about at all this March.

First, march madness.  I love college basketball and this is the best championship tournament of any sport.  Imo.  Oh man I can’t wait til it starts!

I have to say that if Duke loses at the buzzer at any point in the tourney I might shed a couple tears.  I love that team.  And coach K.

So now I’m down to one event that I won’t cry at.  Fingers crossed.  The day of my birth!  Yes, birthday month is upon me and I’m just a few days away.  I’m quite looking forward to a nice dinner out… and maybe a few presents.  My love language is gifts after all.

But, if no presents await me on Friday I will hold in the tears and count my many blessings. Seriously.  I don’t need presents.  I have too much already.

I just really like them.  A lot.  I can’t help it!  Thats how God made me.

Okay, enough about me.  Lets talk about these cookies!  Something that is good for any of life’s events, for sure.

These particular cookies are filled with whole wheat flour, oats, banana, and chocolate.  Good stuff in there!  I was curious how olive oil would substitute for butter and it worked out great.  Though you can’t particularly taste the olive oil at least there are a few healthy fats in this treat.

That makes me feel better about eating one after a workout.  Oops!

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

slightly adapted from Cookie and Kate

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp or 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 heaping cup banana, mashed
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups oats
  • 3/4 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or spray pan with cooking spray.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, and olive oil until sugar looks similar to wet sand.  Add egg and mix until combined.  Mix in banana and vanilla extract.  Add dry ingredients and oats to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.  Mix in the chocolate chips.

Drop a rounded tablespoon full of dough onto cookie sheets.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.  Pour a glass of milk, eat, and enjoy!

Hazelnut Cream Tuiles

I’m not exactly sure what to say about Valentines Day.  Its coming up as you probably know.  The stores are lined with pink, red, and white.  Every type of candy is shaped in hearts.   There are way too many balloons and all of the sudden grown people want and give stuffed animals.  Its kind of strange.

I’m not a stuffed animal kind of girl.  Never have been.  When I was in 8th grade my friend Kandace had a boyfriend that gave her like six stuffed animals for Valentines Day.  I laughed.  I was probably secretly jealous too.  Mostly because a boy gave her something.  And I wanted a boy to give me something, dang it!

My dad is very sweet to me when it comes to V-day.  He’s never been one to share his feelings or be overly emotional, but he’ll always give me a little something on the 14th of February.  Usually a rose or some other type of flowers.  Sometimes a little chocolate too.  Something to make me feel special.  Loved.  Noticed.

My most favorite of these small tokens was a simple card.  My dad had written me a letter about love, longing, and the desires of a little girl’s heart.  He gave me something that I needed far more than chocolate or flowers.  He gave me words that affirmed my heart and encouraged me to love well.  Thats just what my 16 year-old self needed.

We all need different things.  Some people need stuffed animals.  Some chocolate.  Some words.  And some nothing but the company of another that loves them.

 I wish I was one of those people.  The ones that don’t need anything.  But I really like gifts.

A lot.

And I like to give gifts.  Of the baked variety.  Something special and out of the ordinary.  Unless you really just want chocolate chip cookies… then I’ll give you those.

But!  If you want to make someone something special this V-day might I suggest a tuile filled with deliciousness?  I think its a good way to go.  They’re like fun little cigars that you get to eat instead of smoke.  Its way better.  Trust me.

Tuiles are not the easiest cookie to make.  They look beautiful when they’re finished but they take a little effort getting there.  They are worth it though.  Promise!

These are filled with a hazelnut cream which is smooth and nutty.  However, if I were to make them again I would probably throw some chocolate in the mix.  Like a whipped chocolate hazelnut ganache.  Uh, yum!

No matter what you fill them with, eat one.  Or two (for safe measure).

Then package them up all pretty like and share them with some one you love.

Maybe even write them a little note filled with sweet words.

Hazelnut Cream Tuiles

Recipes from Martha Stewart

Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients

For the tuiles

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved (I didn’t have a bean so I added another 1/4 tsp extract)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt

For the hazelnut cream

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins rubbed off with a kitchen towel while still warm
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Mix in the egg whites, extract, and vanilla seeds.  Mix in flour and salt until just combined.
  2. On a lined baking sheet, spoon 1/2 Tbsp of batter and spread out with an offset spatula to about a 4 inch round.  Repeat forming 3 more rounds and space them about 2 inches apart.
  3. Bake until golden about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and place sheet on a wire cooling rack.  Quickly remove one tuile at a time, rolling around the end of a wooden spoon with a 1/4 in thick handle.  Hold around spoon until tuile hardens, about 10 seconds.  Repeat with remaining cookies.  If cookies become too cool to shape put them back in the oven for about 30 seconds and try again.
  4. For the cream, place nuts in a food processor and process until they are a course meal.  Set aside 3 Tbsp and transfer the rest to a medium bowl.  Add butter, cream, sugar, and salt and stir until smooth.  Transfer to a pastry bag with a plain round tip.  Pipe filling into one end of a tuile until the cookie is half way filled then pipe into opposite end until tuile is filled.  Dip ends in reserved hazelnut meal.  Repeat with remaining cookies.
  5. Store filled tuiles in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Store unfilled tuiles in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Tips:  I tried to speed up the process by heating both my ovens and baking two trays filled with 6 dollops of dough.  Bad idea!  Too many tuiles waiting to be rolled equaled a mini disaster.  So just take it slow and steady.  Bake 4 at a time.  Drink some tea.  Take a deep breath.  You could sheet up an extra try to put in the oven while the first batch is being rolled.  Thats just efficiency!  But don’t try to spread dough on a warm pan.  It  makes a mess… trust me.

Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies

I realized today that its like half way through December already.  Say whaaaat?

I feel like the last few weeks have been a blur.  So much going on, so much to do.

I finished up school last week.  Cramming for finals and writing crazy long papers.  All I really wanted to do was be in the kitchen, but, alas, that was farthest thing from reality.

But, now that I’m finished for the term I am ready to get some holiday baking done!

Every year I have extravagant plans in my head to bake copious amounts of cookies and give them out to all my friends and loved ones.

Usually my plans are far fetched from what I can realistically get done without driving myself bonkers, so this year I’m scaling back.

I think we all put way too much pressure on ourselves to “get everything done” around the holidays and miss we out on a lot of the small jewels of happiness and joy that are available to us.

So, I’m trying not to stress this season.  I’ll bake what I can and shop when I have the time. I probably won’t decorate much (or at all) since I’ll be back home in New Mexico for Christmas, and also because I’m terrible at taking decorations down… I’d leave them up til like April.

But I will play Christmas music and enjoy other people’s lights.  And if you put up a Christmas tree or bake cookies I’ll give you a high five and tell you to take a break.

Cause you know what?  You deserve it!  Relax.  Enjoy the moment.  Give yourself a pat on the back and be okay with what you have and have not gotten done.

Thats what I did when I finished these cookies yesterday!

Chocolate and peppermint are the star attraction in these festive cookies.  Peppermint patties are wrapped in a chocolate cookie dough, drizzled with white chocolate, and sprinkled with crushed candy canes.  The chocolate cookie dough is similar to a shortbread and mellows out the sweetness of the peppermint patty nicely.

I was semi disappointed because the cookies aren’t really soft.  So, if you don’t like crunchy cookies these may not be your cup of tea.  However if you enjoy that sort of thing these are a great, festive cookie to enjoy yourself or give away!

Chocolate Peppermint Patty Cookies

Recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine

Makes about 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 stick unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 1 egg
  • 24 miniature peppermint patties
  • 4 oz white chocolate (not chips), chopped

Directions

  1. Using an electric or handheld mixer, beat the flour, cocoa powder, both sugars, salt, and baking soda on low speed.  Beat in butter, then the egg.  Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap.  From dough into a disk and place in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper, a silpat, or cooking spray.
  3. Working with 1 Tbsp of dough at a time, use your fingers to evenly encase each peppermint patty with dough.  Place on baking sheet and continue until all peppermint patties are covered.
  4. Bake until just firm to the touch, about 15 minutes.  Remove oven and transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, in a double boiler or a small heat proof bowl set over a small saucepan of simmering water, melt the white chocolate until smooth.
  6. Drizzle* white chocolate over the cookies and sprinkle peppermint candy canes over the top.
  7. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

*The chocolate I was working with was not drizzling very well so I used a pastry bag to stripe the cookies.  If you do not have a pastry bag you can also use a small plastic sandwich bag and cut a tiny hole in one of the corners.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Truth:  I’ve been trying to think up ways to get out of doing school assignments.  These ideas center around bribing my teachers with baked goods.  Unfortunately, these ideas will most likely never come to fruition because I’m too self-conscious to actually do that.  I don’t talk much to my professors so I have visions of them looking at me strangely and asking if I’m even in the class.  It would get uncomfortable.  I would turn bright red like I always do when I’m nervous and embarrassed.  My palms would be sweating.  That makes things awkward.

Truth:  I have tried to bribe a teacher with baked goods before.  I was in high school, my senior year, and I was taking Government.  I had very little idea about what was going on in the class.  Everyone else seemed to get it.  I sat in the back.  Stayed quiet.  I went to study sessions before tests and I brought bags of homemade chocolate chip cookies.  I liked baking.  My teacher liked eating cookies.  He had the power to give me an A.  It was a natural progression.  A win-win situation.

Truth: I doubt that the above story has any actual truth behind my grade in that class.  Just so you know.  Cramming the night before the test may have helped too.

Truth: Bribing isn’t good.  It will get you no where because it’s not honest.

Question:  Is it different if you’re just offering tasty treats to people who look like they could use a little sugar while they’re grading?

No?  Thats not different?  You sure?

Fine, forget the bribes.  Or the offerings.  However you’d like to phrase that.

Lets just talk about another truth.

Truth:  These pumpkin whoopie pies are one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.  I’m not exaggerating.  I love them.  And if I didn’t have really good self control, I would have eaten them all.

The first time I made these was last October.  My friends and I were having a wine and cheese party at my house.  I made these as a little sweet bites for people to munch on after they had enough cheese.  Lets just say, that at the end of the night we had leftovers of everything except these.

People went crazy for these pumpkin whoopie pies.  The pumpkin cakes are light and delicate, full of spices, but not too sweet.  They are sandwiching a filling of smooth, creamy mascarpone cheese slightly sweetened with powdered sugar and flavored with vanilla.  The combination of the two is divine.

I don’t enjoy when desserts are overly sweet.  These have a perfect balance of sweetness, with warmth from the spices, and comfort from the familiar taste of pumpkin.

These playful sandwiches will make you smile, they might make you giggle with excitement, and if you’re trying to bribe someone with these, they might even get you what you want.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Recipe slightly adapted from Baked Bakery via Martha Stewart

Yields: about 20  pumpkin whoopie pies

Ingredients

For the pumpkin whoopie cakes

 

  • 11/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ginger
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cloves
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 11/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the mascarpone filling

  • 1  8 oz. container of mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. To make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare two sheet pans with parchment paper, a silpat liner, or non-stick baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices.  Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and oil.  Whisk in pumpkin puree and then add in the egg.  Whisk until all ingredients are combined.
  4. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.
  5. Using a small ice cream scoop, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart.
  6. Transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let cool for about 5 minutes on pan, then transfer to a cooling rack.
  8. To make the filling: sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto a piece of parchment paper.
  9. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat mascarpone cheese until fluffy.  Add in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Mix until combined.
  10. Transfer to a piping bag and snip the the end of the pastry bag.*
  11. Once the cakes are cooled completely, pipe the filling onto half of the cakes.  Top those with the other half, creating little sandwiches.
  12. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.

*If you do not have a pastry bag, you can use a plastic sandwich bag.  Just fill the bag with filling and snip one end off.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

Isn’t it crazy that we all make hundreds of decisions every day?

So many things going on in our heads.  So many choices before us.

And not only having all those choices before us, but realizing that each one of them can influence our day, our mood, or our outlook on a given situation.

I’ve been thinking about my choices and decisions a lot the past couple days.  Thinking about how my mood is affected by the choice I make.

I’m in school right now, and not particularly fond of the classes I’m taking or the amount of homework I have to get done.  My attitude has been less than stellar since week one.  Not wanting to read, write papers, go to class.  Forcing myself into doing them all.

But when I got to thinking about it the other day, I realized how blessed I am to be in this position.  Granted, my interest isn’t particularly piqued with the classes that I’m taking right now, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t beneficial at all.

And more than that, how many people would love to be in my shoes right now but can’t because they don’t have the time, money, opportunity, etc.?

I have been keeping such a negative mindset, choosing to be pessimistic for the last 6 weeks and it’s definitely not making my life more enjoyable.

Sometimes- well many times- in life we get put into situations that we don’t want to be in.

Things happen that are unexpected.   I thought this term was going to be a breeze.  Then after week one I was depressed.  Not really.  I wasn’t depressed, but I definitely wasn’t excited.

But, again, I made a choice to think the worst about it.  I made the decision that I was going to have a hard time.  I let the clouds cover the blue sky.

And there is always a blue sky underneath those clouds.  Thats so cheesy!  But I know it’s true.  There is the choice to make the most of the circumstance that you are in.  It probably won’t be easy to get through, but when it’s all said and done, making the decision to embrace it and learn as much as you can from it will ease the difficulty.

And if the situation seems too difficult.  The choice to be positive is too hard to make then set it aside, and make these peanut butter chocolate chip oatmeal bars.  They might help with the situation!  At least your tummy will be happy.

These bar are loaded with good things.  Whole wheat flour, oatmeal, peanut butter, and dark chocolate.  This is a great sweet treat if you’re watching your kcals.  A little square is hearty, not overly sweet, and completely satisfying.

And if you end up eating the whole pan because you’re craming for finals or stressed about work?  Well, at least you’re getting a lot of fiber!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars

Makes 9 squares

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups peanut butter (I used Adam’s crunchy, but you can use creamy!)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare an 8×8 baking dish by spraying it lightly with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl mix together flour, oats, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Using a stand or hand held mixer, cream together the peanut butter and brown sugar on high until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined on medium speed.
  6. On low speed incorporate the milk into the peanut butter mixture.  Mix until dough forms.
  7. Stir in chocolate chips.
  8. Roll dough into a large ball.  Place dough in the center of the prepared baking dish and press out into the dish, pushing dough to all the corners.
  9. Bake until set and the top is golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool completely.  Cut into squares.
Enjoy!

Butterscotch Marble Blondie Drops

“The best of both worlds.”

I often find myself wanting this.  I want the best of both sides of a decision.  I want to benefit without having to lose.  I want myself to be happy, as well as everyone else around me.  I want to go to Anthropologie and buy a dress without forfeiting $150.00.  I want to eat chocolate cake all day without gaining a single pound.

Is this really too much to ask for?

Yes, yes I’m afraid it is.  Sorry to let you down, but life doesn’t work like this.  Why doesn’t it work like this?  I’m not sure.  It’s sound like a fantastic idea to me.

I suppose if we always had the best of both worlds, then we wouldn’t have to make the hard decisions that “add character” to who we are.  There would be a lack of appreciation for the process that’s involved in coming to the end of a decision.  In choosing between two good things.

Although we all must choose more often than not, there are those sweet moments when we get to enjoy “the best of both worlds.”

Take these cookies, for example.  These are cookies, that are sort of like a blondie, which is basically a brownie without chocolate.  But!  These babies have chocolate swirled right in.  Thats like the best of 3 worlds!  It’s almost too much to handle… almost.

These blondie-cookies bake out very thin with slightly crisp edges, and a soft, chewy center.  They are sweet, but the dark chocolate swirls add a nice balance.  Enjoy with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee.  Or if you’re really feeling feisty, you could sandwich some ice cream between two of them.  That would be sure to take you to an entirely different world.

Butterscotch Marble Blondie Drops

Recipe from BigFatCookies

  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used chips)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.
  2. Heat chocolate over a double boiler and stir until melted.  Once melted set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute.
  5. Add eggs and mix until combined.  Make sure to scrap down the sides of the bowl!
  6. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  7. Drop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto the baking sheet about 2-3 inches apart, as they will spread quite a bit.*
  8. Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate on top of the batter drops.  Then take a toothpick or the tip of a knife and swirl chocolate into the batter.
  9. Bake cookies until lightly browned on top, about 9-11 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack using an offset spatula and let cool completely.
These cookies can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature for about 4 days.
* The original recipe said to drop 3 Tablespoons of batter for each cookie.  I did this and the cookies were too big for my liking.  I scaled them back down to 1 Tablespoon, which I enjoyed better.  You can make them as big or as small as you want.  Just remember to adjust the baking time slightly!