Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Cookies

Something is making me sneeze.

Perhaps it is the colossal pollen eruption that took over my neighborhood:

Or maybe it has to do with this new family member:

Here’s another photo, because one is just not enough:

One thing for sure is that these scrumptious things are so amazing that I would be willing to sneeze continuously for the rest of my life in order to eat these. Of course, this side-steps the fact that if I were sneezing continuously, I probably couldn’t eat.

These are Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Cookies.

Say what?

I love peanut butter cookies, but adding salt and chocolate to them? That should almost be illegal.

Thankfully, I made these pups for my little cousin’s birthday party so I didn’t have to sit in a corner and shovel them down my throat in guilt. While these certainly didn’t overshadow the Modern Pastry cannolis, or the blue frosted Carvel cake, I feel these at least stood up to the other desserts. I realize they look like feces, particularly when placed against other desserts, but believe me on this one: they don’t taste like feces.

My only complaint is that they have a cake-like consistency. I prefer my cookies to be gooey, melting, and chewy. Don’t let that stop you from trying these out. An easy recipe to follow, you can substitute peanut butter chips for a sweeter taste, or use peanuts as I did.

Check out the recipe at Food 52.

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S’mores Rice Krispie Treats

It’s starting to feel a bit like summer. And by this, I mean I am boggled down with projects, papers, exams, and stress.
Summer is long walks in the woods with bug-spray amply applied, trips to Maine for fresh lobster, weekends spent on the beach, thunderstorms rattling the house, humidity blowing up my hair, breathing in the night air, eating fresh strawberries, biking to the store instead of driving, and of course, s’mores made on a fire pit.I don’t have a fire pit with me in my college-owned housing (shame), but I can make s’mores in the microwave if I’m desperate. This is not the same thing, of course, as a melted, toasted, perfectly charred marshmallow sandwiched between chocolate and graham crackers, made on a hot summer night. I decided that if I can’t have my s’mores like I do in the summer, then I’ll at least take microwaved s’mores up a notch and make S’mores Rice Krispie Treats. My housemates gobbled these up in one night. Addicting, delicious, almost-as-good-as-the-real-thing bites of goodness.

Smore’s Rice Krispie Treats

3 cups mini marshmallows

1 Tbs butter

2 tsp vanilla

3 cups Rice Krispies cereal

1 cup Graham Crackers, original or honey flavored, coarsely chopped

1 cup milk chocolate chips

Microwave marshmallows, butter and vanilla in a bowl until the marshmallows begin to soften, or about one minute. Stir mixture and microwave for another minute until fully melted. Add the Rice Krispies to marshmallow mix, then graham cracker pieces and chocolate chips. Press into a greased 8″x8″ pan. Allow to cool for 30 minutes. Cut into squares.

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

One morning when I was little, I awoke with hives from an allergic reaction. This occurred right before a trip to the dentist to get several molars pulled. I desperately wanted to jump out of the chair in the dental office in order to scratch my skin, but instead I got injected with novocaine, temporarily blind-siding me from my intense itch. My binge drink the day before of ten boxes of Minute Maid Very Berry juice, which contained raspberry juice, was the only potential culprit of my allergy. To this day, I enjoy raspberries but in moderation.

Now, let’s focus in on these babies: Raspberry Oatmeal Bars. They remind me of Nutri-Grain bars, which subsequently reminds me of recess in elementary school. These are twenty times more delicious than the processed bars. Use the best raspberry (or apricot, strawberry, etc.) preserves you can find. The seedless type is the best, but ultimately you can use any preserves, so long as it tastes good when you swipe a spoonful out of the jar. The only change I would make to these bars would be to prepare more dry, oatmeal mixture to crumble on top. But, I can’t complain: these were out-of-this-world amazing.

Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup canola oil

3 tbs water

1 10oz. jar raspberry preserves (I used Bonne Maman”brand which worked out tremendously)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease an 8″x12″ pan.

Mix together oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda in large bowl until no lumps of brown sugar remain. Pour oil and water over oats and mix with fingers or spatula until evenly moistened. Set aside 1/2 cup of mixture for topping. Press remainder in pan. Spread preserves on top. Sprinkle remaining oats on top. 

Bake until golden 30-40 minutes. 

A Long Run, and Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Coming home from Mexico, with only four weeks until the Boston Marathon, I vowed to eat more protein, vegetables, and whole grains. I was doing a tremendous job, eating hard-boiled eggs, hummus, vegetable-filled sandwiches, and Greek yogurt. What loomed over my head all week was my 21 mile training run. I carbo-loaded on Thursday night, eating bowls of cereal instead of my vegetables (I know how my digestive system would act if I ate my traditional vegetables and legumes right before running 21 miles). Then, I ran and ran and ran and ran. Until my legs felt like goop, my sweat caked to my forehead, and my  body felt arthritic. Success!

I counteracted this extreme exercise with an extreme dessert, as a gift to my friend who vigilantly held water for me during the run.  My friends gathered around the pan of gooey, crunchy, sweet and salty masterpiece. The pretzels take this cookie bar over the top.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla

12 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 oz. bag peanut butter chips

1 1/2 cups mini pretzel twists, chopped.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a square baking pan with cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. In a large bowl, combine sugar and butter. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients. Fold in half a bag of chocolate chips, half a bag of peanut butter chips, and chopped pretzels. Spread batter in pan, press down. Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown. While still hot, sprinkle bars with additional chocolate chips and peanut butter chips, as well as pretzels. Place in oven for a minute so that chocolate and peanut butter melt. Cool completely, then cut into squares.

My Grandmother’s Favorite Cookies

My grandfather had a passion for genealogy, and I believe most everyone in my family was affected by his zest for family heritage. He kept a diary for most of his life, something that most people can’t say they have done. I was always intrigued by family histories, particularly that of my maternal grandmother. Born in Egypt but of Russian heritage, she immigrated to the U.S when she was 18. I’ve always admired her independence, perhaps because, like me, she is an only child. During the holidays, my mother told me my grandmother would be visiting. She also hinted that my grandmother’s favorite cookies were Russian Tea Cakes.

These treats also go by Mexican Wedding Cakes, so I’m not sure whether to attribute the recipe to one culture or another. However, the combination of butter, sugar, finely chopped nuts and some vanilla is ubiquitously delicious. I used good ol’ Betty Crocker’s recipe, which you can find here.

My grandmother did not realize I had made her these cookies on Christmas Day until my aunt ran into the living room exclaiming how amazing these cookies were. I’ve never seen my grandmother leap out of her seat as quickly as she did, particularly considering that my grandmother claims she would prefer a piece of bread at the end of dinner, rather than a sweet.

The way the cookie melts in your mouth is surely why so many people commented on these bites of goodness. Not to mention, that messy powdered sugar that remains on your lips after taking the first bite is a cute look.

Easy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Many times when I was little, I would try baking cookies on my own and forget and/or mix up ingredients. Take for example the time I filmed my friend and I making chocolate chip cookies, as if we were on a cooking show. We left out the vanilla extract. There’s the time I put in baking soda rather than powder in a recipe. And then there’s the big “no-no” of melting butter in cookie recipes.

Using stiff butter is the proper way to make cookie dough, regardless of how difficult it is to cream. One of those $200 pink KitchenAid stand mixers is what I lust after. Unfortunately, as a college student, I don’t have a stand mixer or even a hand mixer, nor are my arms and willpower strong enough to cream butter and sugar by hand. This is when cookie bars come into the picture.

Like brownies, bar cookies typically involve (cooled) melted butter, whether in the microwave or on the stovetop, in order to add consistency to the batter. The recipe I used to make these devilishly good Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars is essentially a cookie recipe, but suitable to be baked in one flat sheet. I avoided an arm workout and got to enjoy the taste of chocolate chip cookies. As if the mention of not having to cream butter is enough, let me reiterate how simple this recipe is. If you need a dessert in a flash, this is it. I used a good brand of chocolate chips, which I recommend for taking these bars up a notch.You of course could add nuts, other kinds of chocolate, or even dried fruit.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8 pan.

Mix butter with sugars. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Almond Joy Cookies

I am now living in a house with fifteen other people, and though our kitchen is generous in size, I still only have one shelf to keep all of my food. This means that boxes of cereal, cans of soup, and coffee take precedence for shelf space over kitchen staples like flour, sugar, etc. What is a college student to do, when the need to bake is obvious but the ingredients are not present? The answer is Almond Joy Cookies.

Using store-bought dough and adding ingredients is the key to these cookies. My fellow housemates seemed to enjoy these scrumptious little bites full of coconut, almonds and chocolate. What’s more to love? Although I am usually against store-bought dough, these cookies taste just as good as home-made, from-scratch cookies. Go on, make these and devour a whole plate of them. I dare you not.

Almond Joy Cookies

1 16.5 oz. prepared roll of sugar cookie dough

3/4 cup shredded coconut

1 cup milk chocolate chips

3/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheet. 

Let dough soften for several minutes. Break up cookie dough in large bowl. Add coconut, chocolate chips and almonds. Mix together (you may need to use your hands to properly mix the ingredients). Drop rounded tablespoons on sheet. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.

The Ocean (and Brown Butter-Fleur de Sel-Chocolate Chip Cookies)

I made these:

I went here:

The ocean is my therapy.

Maybe I have obscured vision, but if you stare at the horizon for long enough, it becomes a solid white line. Things become aligned, at peace. Even if it is below freezing out.

Other things that make me at peace: film rolls and these cookies.

These are heavenly Brown Butter-Fleur de Sel-Chocolate Chip Cookies. I have never browned butter before, but boy does it add a kick to the average chocolate chip cookie. And then you add sea salt and suddenly these cookies are divine. Check out the recipe here.