Category Archives: Cookies/Bars

Back to School Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Cookies

“Cookies” should probably be in quotation marks.  But we’ll get back to that in a second.

It’s back to school time for us already.  The summer went by so quickly I can’t even believe it’s over.  My oldest is now in 4th grade and my boys are starting preschool in a few days.  For all of 2.5 hours a week the baby will have me all to herself for the first time ever!  (The other 2.5 hours we’ll be at jazzercise like normal).

The weather is still summer like and I expect it will be for a few more weeks yet – which is great because there’s still a ton of stuff on our summer bucket list that we never got to do or only did once.  But with school back in session it has brought our household back to the old familiar daily grind.  The one punctuated by pick ups and drop offs and afternoon homework.  It’s time to get organized and efficient again after a glorious summer of “whenever”.

So this morning I made breakfast cookies.  It took me literally 3 minutes to mix them up and 9 to bake them.  I’ve never actually attempted anything like this before and they came out quite wonderfully!   Cookies normally start with a base of butter and sugar and these cookies contain neither.  They are substantial; soft, and cakey, and subtly sweet.  A perfect little protein-rich bite to get the kids off to school with good food in their tummies.

Speaking of good food – there are two kinds of “breakfast cookies” out there.  There are cookies masquerading as health food and there is healthy food masquerading as cookies.  These are definitely in the latter group.  Peanut butter, banana, honey, egg, and whole oats make up the bulk of these cookies.  They would also be fabulous with some chocolate chips sprinkled in but then, you know, we’d be backsliding into the world of dessert for breakfast.  (Which is fine for you and me but not for our children who have to learn stuff during the day :p)

Here they are straight out of the oven.  They’re kind of like what you’d get if peanut butter cookies and banana bread had a baby.  Does that make sense?

Sorry for the lack of pictures.  You know how I said these took sum total 12 minutes to make?  That didn’t include taking pictures throughout.  But they’re super easy to bring together so I’m sure you’ll be okay.  Now get going, I’m sure you have as much to do as I do right now!

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Cookies

(makes 1 dozen cookies)

1 over-ripe banana, mashed

1 egg

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

3 Tbsp clover honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup gluten free oats (can’t wait for the day Quaker can say theirs are, for now they are not)

1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour mix  (or regular flour if you’re not GF)

2 Tbsp nonfat powdered milk

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mash banana and beat together with egg, peanut butter, honey, and vanilla.   Combine dry ingredients (you really just want to make sure the baking soda is evenly distributed – I didn’t even get out a second bowl for this) and mix with the peanut butter mixture.

Spoon even mounds of cookie dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet.  Mixture will not be as stiff as a traditional cookie dough.

Bake 9 minutes.

Cool and serve.

Makes 1 dozen cookies.

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The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

I don’t often claim to have made the “best anything ever”.

This is the notable exception.

These cookies are PERFECT.  They are soft and chewy with just the right amount of butter and sugar – if you didn’t know they were gluten free you would still say, “Man, that’s a damn good cookie.”

I have to admit I vacillated on whether or not I would put these up on the blog.  Whether I have said it explicitly or not, my end goal is to go into business for myself making gluten free baked goods.  These will definitely make the cut when that day arrives.

If you have ever bought a box of Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (or any other GF cookie mix for that matter), you know the unique joy of trying to squoosh together masses of semi-dry crumbs into little piles so they can kind of resemble cookies in the end.  I’m not trying to be down on Betty, quite the opposite actually.  I applaud the company for catering to the gluten free community.  But the formula for their cookies could have been better.

Way better, as it turns out.  The difficulty with gluten free cookies is that non-glutenous flours cannot support as much butter as regular flour can.  I figured out how to get around that dilemma by accident.

I sent my husband to the store a few weeks ago for just a couple things including a box of pudding (for what purpose I don’t even remember).  Anyway, he came home with four boxes “just to be safe”.  Having all that pudding in front of me reminded me of seeing a recipe for “pudding cookies” a long time ago.  I made a glutenous batch for the kids and they turned out really great.  My best friend told me afterwards that she always puts pudding in her cookies to make them puffier.  Who knew?

So after the glutenous ones came out so well I knew I had to try it with GF flour and they came out amazingly.  The pudding keeps the cookies from spreading out all over the cookie sheet (who here has had that happen?!?).  It also gives the flour a structural boost, allowing us to put in an appropriate amount of butter making for truly excellent cookies.

Alright, enough yappin.  Let’s get into the kitchen!

Here’s what we need to start – butter, (sugar, not shown, see edit below), brown sugar, AP GF flour mix, baking soda, salt, a box of instant butterscotch pudding mix, and chocolate chips.  Oh, and two eggs.  Duh.  All ingredients should be room temperature – that means get those eggs and sticks of butter out an hour before you plan to start.

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream two sticks of butter and a cup of firmly packed brown sugar (EDIT:  I now use half a cup of brown sugar, half a cup of white.  I like them better that way.).  My butter looks funny because I accidentally bought 1 lb blocks instead of sticks.  Oops.  It’s actually best if you beat the butter first and then add the sugar but not all of us have the wherewithal to remember that every time…

With the mixer running, pour in the eggs in a steady stream.  I beat mine first (obviously).

Next, turn the mixer down to low and add in the pudding.  Mix until incorporated.  Your cookie dough is now a strange orange color.  That’s okay.  The cookies won’t be orange in the end.  They also won’t taste noticeably “butterscotchy”.   Trust me – for a chocolate chip cookie – butterscotch is perfect.  The brown sugar (in the pudding and in the dough) is what makes it all magic!

In a small bowl, measure out 280 grams of AP GF flour mix.  Or if you’re using regular flour, 280 grams/2 cups of that.  I actually ran out of my regular flour mix before I hit 280 grams so I filled in the rest with potato starch and it worked really well.  I think I might use a 50/50 flour/starch mix for all my sweet goodies from now on.  (The mix I usually use is 60/40 flours/starches.  For more info on GF flour mix composition see here)

Add in a teaspoon of baking soda…

…and a half teaspoon of salt and whisk to combine.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, mixing on medium speed and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

I swear kids can smell chocolate from a mile away.  Once your dough is together, add in your chocolate chips.  I only used 1 cup here.  You could use 1 1/2 cups if you like your cookies “chippier”.

Drop your cookie dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

And bake 9-10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Here they are right out of the oven.  With chocolate chip cookies, you want to take them out of the oven when they are still a little glossy in the middle, just a little bit raw looking.  That’s because they continue to cook once they’re out of the oven.

And here they are after cooling a few minutes on the rack.  Nom.  P-E-R-F-E-C-T.  Chewy and soft and sweet and buttery and chocolatey.  My kids love them.  I love them.  I can’t eat just one they’re that good.  For anyone you know who has recently gone gluten free and is freaking out because they think they’re never going to get to eat real cookies again – make them these.  They will be so happy they will hug you and cry and hang on you until you give them the recipe.

Uh oh.

Babies like cookies too.

Enjoy!

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

2 sticks butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2  cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 eggs, room temperature and beaten slightly

1 (4oz) box Instant Butterscotch Pudding Mix

280 grams AP GF Flour Mix (or 2 cups regular flour)

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat butter until fluffy.  Add sugar and brown sugar and cream together until well combined.  Pour in beaten eggs slowly with mixer running on medium speed.  Turn mixer down to low and add pudding mix.  Mix until well combined.

In a small bowl combine flour, salt, and baking soda.  Whisk to combine.

Add half the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix on low until combined.  Scrape down the bowl and repeat with the second half.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes.

These are best if eaten warm out of the oven but will keep well for a few days, tightly covered.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

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Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

So, I’m not actually a huge coconut fan.  I mean, I like coconut as much as the next person, it’s just not my flavor of choice when it comes to desserts.   Chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter, caramel, coffee, lemon, raspberry… probably a host of others come before it.

But I’m making literally 20 different kinds of cookies and candies right now for Christmas.  In the interest of variety I thought we’d mix it up a bit this week.  (In the last week I’ve made Snickerdoodles, Gingerbread People, Sugar Cookies, Turtles, Buckeyes, Chocolate Chip Biscotti, Chocolate Mint Cookies, Almond Toffee, PB + J Thumbprints, and Magic Cookie Bars.  I’m working on some Vanilla Latte Cookie Truffles right now.  Lemon Bars, White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal cookies, Raspberry Linzer cookies and Cinnamon Rolls coming up the next few days.  I see a lot of kale in my future.)

Macaroons are great for anyone who:

A. Likes Coconut

B. Likes desserts that look elegant but are actually really quick and easy and

C. Doesn’t have any more flour in her cupboard because of making so many cookies in the last week

Which is not actually me…today.  But it is me many, many times a year.  And Coconut Macaroons are naturally gluten free which makes things easier for all of us.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

Here’s everything you need:  A 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk, a 14oz bag of sweetened shredded coconut (obviously yours will have something in it, oops), 1/4 tsp salt, one teaspoon vanilla, and 3 large egg whites.  That’s the yellowish stuff in the tupperware.  I always have some egg whites sitting around which is weird because I swear I have no recollection of using just yolks in anything.  Anyway…

In a medium bowl, fold together the sweetened condensed milk, the coconut, and the vanilla until well combined.

Whip up your egg whites and salt on high, using a whisk beater if you have one, until you have firm peaks.  (It looks like there is something red on the beaters.  There isn’t.  I have Christmas lights strung up by my mixer.)

Gently fold the egg whites into the coconut…

…until well combined and creamy.

I made mine kinda big.  Yours don’t have to be this big.  I just felt like using my new cookie scoop.

Plop the little piles onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Here they are right out of the oven, the tops nice and toasty brown.  Now, you could leave them like this…

…or you could dip them in dark chocolate for an extra flavor dimension. 

Me gusta mucho el chocolate.

Enjoy!

Coconut Macaroons

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 14oz bag sweetened shredded coconut

1 tsp vanilla

3 large egg whites

1/4 tsp salt

Dark Chocolate for dipping (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla until homogenous.

Combine egg whites and salt and whip on high speed, using the whisk attachment (if you have one) until you achieve firm peaks.

Gently fold egg whites into coconut mixture.

On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, drop batter by tablespoonfuls into little mounds 2 inches apart.  Bake 25-30 minutes.

Allow to cool and dip in dark chocolate if desired.

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Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Don’t these look totally amazing???  You know you want one.  I want one.  Too bad for me, ’cause they’re gone.

I offered these up to my 8 year old daughter and her best friend as they were being made.  The looks on their faces told me this one was a keeper.  And can I just say now thank goodness for pumpkin???  It is literally the only vegetable my daughter will willingly eat.  No wonder since it’s always paired with sugar.  But that’s okay.  A vegetable it still is.

I like them so much I think they may make the cut for Thanksgiving.  I know.  Thanksgiving already?!?  Where has the time gone???  Usually I take weeks to plan the menu and figure out the logistics of seating 23 people in my smallish kitchen/living room/dining room space.  Suddenly it’s, holy cow, it’s the 8th and there’s just a little over two weeks until the big day.  And yes, I did just scroll over the time on my monitor to check what day it is.  I live in a bubble.

So over the next couple weeks it is likely you will be seeing a few test recipes before we hit the actual holiday.  Yay!  LOVE Thanksgiving.  I mean, I think when asked why we like certain holidays the first thing that comes to mind is the food.  And Thanksgiving is the only holiday explicitly dedicated to the food!  And being thankful and our cultural heritage and all that.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, Pumpkin Whoopie Pies.  Southeastern PA, this one’s for you.

 

First let’s mix our dry ingredients.  Here we have 210 grams of my All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix (or you can use 1 1/2 cups regular flour), 1 tsp Xanthan Gum (only if you’re using GF flour), 1/2 tsp EACH salt, baking powder, and baking soda, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and an 1/8 tsp ground cloves.   Whisk those all together.

As for our wet ingredients, in another bowl we have one egg, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 3/4 cup pure pumpkin (not Pumpkin Pie Mix), 1 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract.  Mix that all up as well.  Pour the contents of the smaller bowl into the bigger one and mix until well combined.

Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet and pop into your preheated 350 degree oven.  I used parchment paper.  Obviously.  Makes the whole process run quicker and easier.

Can you tell spatial reasoning is not my strong suit?  Here’s the first batch of…seven.  You’ll get about 28 depending how “heaping” your tablespoons are.

The filling is super easy and it’s probably already in your house waiting to be made.  It’s just 3 oz cream cheese, softened, mixed with 3/4 cup marshmallow fluff.  That’s it.  I nuked mine just a little to get it to come together easily.  I have a “soften cream cheese” setting on my microwave.  I know, I’m spoiled.  Spread some of that loveliness on the bottom of one cookie nice and thick…

Put another soft, fragrant cookie on top and voila!  You have your Whoopie Pie.  Pillowy, sweet, wholesome (haha), portable delights.  So yummy and easy.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (adapted from allrecipes)

1 egg, slightly beaten

3/4 cup Pure Pumpkin (not Pumpkin Pie Mix)

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

210 grams All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix (or 1 1/2 cups regular flour)

1 tsp Xanthan Gum (only if using GF flour mix)

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

For Filling:

3 oz cream cheese (I used light)

3/4 cup Marshmallow Fluff

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine flour mix, xanthan gum (if using), baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

In a medium bowl combine egg, pumpkin, oil, sugar, and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

Drop dough (it will be thin) by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper leaving room for the cookies to spread.

Bake 10-12 minutes.

Allow cookies to cool on racks.

Meanwhile, make filling.  Combine softened cream cheese and marshmallow fluff until smooth.

Spread on the bottom of one cookie and top with another to form a sandwich.

I’ve heard these can be frozen for three days.  Haven’t tried it yet.

Makes about 14 Whoopie Pies.

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Salted Caramel Squares

Salty and sweet.  Round two.

So I was at Starbucks last Friday night for, like, the first time since…I don’t know… probably since dinosaurs worked as baristas.  (If anyone else just got a crazy image of an apron- clad dinosaur unsuccessfully trying to steam milk with it’s teeny three-toed hand/foot let me know – we’d probably be great drinking companions.)

Anyway, since date nights are few and far between for us I thought I’d celebrate, you know, “me style” by getting something sweet to go with my Tall Caramel Latte.  Starbucks has such a tempting array of sweets…  all the HUGE pieces of cake, brownies, cheesecakes, cookies and whatnot.  Except since I’ve been tracking my calories on livestrong.com I am depressingly aware of the fact that those enormous goodies have like, 800 calories in them.  Le sigh.  BUT – on the upside – they also had a little tray of “petite” sweets all under 200 calories.

(Yeah, you guessed it.  They all looked lovely… and like they could be eaten in about one and a half bites.  But that’s okay.  I’m an adult.  I can be content with just a bite or two.  Repeat repeat repeat.)

So, since I’m a big time caramel addict I got a Salted Caramel Sweet Square to go with my Caramel Latte.  For 190 calories I was pretty impressed.  It had a shortbready crust covered with bits of pretzel (I think), something like fudge and sticky caramel on top.  I started thinking immediately of how I could do something similar at home (and make it easily adaptable to be gluten free).

These squares my daughter and I made last night in about 15 minutes.  She was very excited to help me make them which was cool because she never wants to do any cooking with me.  Say “chocolate” and a girl’s ears perk up I guess.

I’ve modified the recipe  slightly to make them a bit easier to handle.  We ate these with a fork for the most part but that’s easily adjusted.

They are almost gone now, by the way.  The kids and I cut them up this morning “to take pictures”…and then totally ate a quarter of the pan for breakfast.  Mommy nutritionist FAIL.

Here’s the set up –

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Grab an 8″x8″ pan and crush up pretzels until you have about a cup.  I let my daughter use a glass to crush these straight in the pan.  You can crush them finer if you like.  We liked the larger bits though.  Gave the whole thing a nice crunch.

That’s mi’ja there.  Melt six tablespoons of butter…

And add it, along with two teaspoons of sugar to your crushed pretzels.  Mix thoroughly and use a fork to press it down evenly into the bottom.  Slide into the oven and bake for eight minutes.

Next we’re going to make a quick and easy ganache for the chocolate layer.  Classic ganache is simply one part chocolate to one part heavy cream (by weight).  Warm, it is used as a sauce.  At room temperature it makes a decadent frosting.  Cold out of the refrigerator it is almost as thick as fudge.  I used 8 oz of chocolate chips and a cup of heavy cream to get that bowl right there.  You don’t need that much for this recipe – I made extra to use this weekend.  For today, grab 4 oz chocolate chips and 3 oz heavy cream (1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp).  Using less cream will result in a firmer ganache that is easier to cut into bars.  Simply microwave your cream until boiling, pour it over your chocolate, and let it sit at least five minutes before stirring.  It will take a minute but eventually your chocolate and cream will come together into a smooth, pourable sauce.

And lastly, let’s make our caramel.  We’re going super easy today.  Unwrap 20 caramels (Kraft Traditional Caramels are GF, as are many others), add two tablespoons milk or cream (I already had the cream out so I figured what the heck), and microwave until hot and bubbly.

Stir together to form a very thick sauce.

Pour the ganache over your baked pretzel crust.

Now drop spoonfuls of caramel into your chocolate…

And swirl with a knife until pretty and marbled like this.  The caramel is heavier than the chocolate and will want to sink if you mess with it too much.

What’s this?  This is the one I made for my husband, the one out of six of us who can’t eat wheat.  His pretzels look, taste, smell, and crunch, EXACTLY like regular pretzels.  But his pretzels are shipped from Israel and cost literally TEN TIMES as much as regular pretzels do.  So he got his own little salted caramel in a ramekin.

And there we have it!  Salty, crunchy, creamy, chocolatey, caramely goodness!  And if you cut the pan into 16 small squares like these, your calorie count is considerably less even than the treat I had at Starbucks.  PERFECT with a cup of coffee…I think I’m going to go grab one right now 🙂

  Later all!

Salted Caramel Squares

1 cup crushed pretzels (GF or regular)

6 Tbsp butter, melted

2 tsp sugar

4 oz chocolate chips

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp heavy cream

20 Kraft Traditional Caramels

2 Tbsp milk

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix crushed pretzels, melted butter, and sugar in an 8″x8″ glass baking dish.  Press down evenly with a fork and bake for 8 minutes.

Place chocolate chips in a bowl.  Microwave heavy cream until boiling and pour over chocolate.  Let sit five minutes and then stir until smooth.

Unwrap caramels and place in a small bowl with milk.  Microwave on high until hot and bubbly.  Stir until smooth.

Pour chocolate over baked pretzel crust.

Drop caramel by the spoonful over chocolate.  Use a knife to marble.

Refrigerate until firm enough to cut into squares.

Makes 16 squares.

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