tahini chocolate chip cookies

I love sesame seeds and while I’ve mostly had them in savory foods, I am starting to really appreciate them in sweets too, as evidenced by this ice cream and this cake.  A while back I bought myself a lovely cookbook that has a recipe for chocolate tahini cookies and since tahini is just ground sesame seeds I thought this seemed like a really great idea.

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The recipe in the cookbook called for a few gluten-free flours that I do not currently have in my arsenal so I instead took inspiration from it and adapted a traditional chocolate chip recipe instead.

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I had a few mostly empty bags of chocolate chips and chunks so combined forces in these cookies and actually like how the texture turned out as a result.  Love those happy accidents!  Instead of traditional salt I used fleur de sel (fancy French sea salt) which gave it a little extra bite as well.

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Tahini kind of reminds me of peanut butter but not as sweet.  I don’t know that I’ll be smearing it all over a piece of bread anytime soon but think it will be great as a substitute in baked goods.

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These cookies are a nice twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie.  They are not quite as sweet and have the subtle sesame seed flavoring that I found to be very nice and I think you will too.

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Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies (inspired by recipe found in “La Tartine Gourmande” by Beatrice Peltre)

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 tablespoons), softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 white sugar
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel (sea salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Cream together butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; add the eggs one at a time until well blended.  Blend in tahini until incorporated.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add to the wet ingredients and stir until well blended.  Stir in vanilla until combined and then stir in chocolate chips.

Place small rounds of dough two inches apart on ungreased baking sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until brown.  Let cool and enjoy.

a monster of a cookie

Holiday baking is the best but it’s definitely more fun when it’s a shared experience, so I invited a friend and her 5-year-old daughter over to help me last weekend.  Little Sofia was a major help in the kitchen.  She deftly crushed the peppermint candies for the Double Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies, she almost mastered separating egg whites from the yolks on her first try (not easy!), and she is an expert stirrer as demonstrated below.  She even came with her own apron!  Love it. 12.8.12 006

One of the cookies we made were monster cookies from a recipe by the guys who run Baked in Brooklyn.  Monster cookies are basically everything you could ever want in a cookie all rolled into one: peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips, and M&M’s.  A few years ago I made them with another friend and we experimented with pretzel pieces and marshmallows as well and both were nice additions.  You should be able to have a little fun with recipes.  Go nuts!  (I did not intend for the pun but while on the subject I will say I’m not a fan of nuts in most desserts but those would certainly be a nice addition too, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

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The resulting cookie almost feels like it’s good for you– at least that’s how I justified it as breakfast more than one morning this week… The recipe makes a lot of cookies so it’s a great one if you are participating in a cookie swap or giving them away in care packages.  They also freeze well if you want to make them now and save them for later.  Enjoy!

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Monster Cookies (from “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup M&Ms

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add in the oats and whisk until evenly combined. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth and pale in color. Add in the brown sugar and the granulated sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time, being sure to incorporate the egg fully before adding in the next one. Add in the corn syrup and vanilla extract and beat until combined.

Scrape down the bowl and add in the peanut butter. Mix gradually until just combined. Very carefully add in your oat mixture in three separate additions, so you don’t overload your mixer. Mix until just incorporated (don’t overmix).

Fold in your chocolate chips and M&Ms. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 5 hours. This is important for the texture of your cookies.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into balls the size of 2 tablespoons and place them on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart from one another.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, turning the pans once through the baking time. The cookies are ready when they are set and golden. Let the cookies cool completely for 8-10 minutes on the baking sheets before removing them and placing them on a new surface to cool completely. These can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for 3 days.

double chocolate peppermint crunch cookies

It’s that time of year again– time to bake Holiday cookies and try to share more of the resulting treats than you eat yourself.  I’m not doing so well on the latter part but I guess that is just a testament to how good they turned out… right?  I’m going with it.

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I’m not normally a fan of peppermint-flavored things but this recipe sounded so darn good I decided to give it a try.  And am I glad I did!  The first step is to melt down some bittersweet chocolate chips in a metal bowl over a simmering pot of water on your stove.

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Some of the melted chocolate gets mixed in with the batter which has a teaspoon of espresso powder to deepen the chocolate flavor.  It totally works.  In addition to the melted chocolate you also mix some of the (whole unmelted) bittersweet chocolate chips in with the dough which also has cocoa powder in it so these could probably be called Triple Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies.

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The crunch part comes in with crushed peppermint candies being sprinkled on top after the cookies have baked and you’ve drizzled a little of the leftover melted chocolate on them.  The dough also has a little peppermint extract in it to really bring the mint-chocolate combo home.  The cookies are fudge-y which makes for a great texture with the peppermint candies.  No wonder I had a hard time resisting sampling a few…

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Check back in later this week for another cookie recipe, this time involving peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate, aka all things good.

Double Chocolate-Peppermint Crunch Cookies (recipe found at www.epicurious.com)
  • 2 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (do not exceed 61% cacao; 15 to 16 ounces), divided
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 candy canes or 16 red-and-white- striped hard peppermint candies, coarsely crushed

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir 2 cups chocolate chips in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Measure 2/3 cup melted chocolate; transfer to small metal bowl and reserve for drizzling.

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until creamy. Add sugar and both extracts; beat until smooth. Add eggs; beat to blend. Beat in melted chocolate from medium bowl. Add dry ingredients; beat just to blend. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips. Measure 1 level tablespoonful dough; roll dough between palms to form ball. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake cookies until cracked all over and tester inserted into center comes out with large moist crumbs attached, 8 to 9 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment paper to racks to cool completely.

Rewarm reserved 2/3 cup chocolate over small saucepan of simmering water. Using fork, drizzle chocolate over cookies. Sprinkle crushed candy canes over, arranging some pieces with red parts showing. Chill just until chocolate sets, about 20 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 weeks ahead. Store airtight in freezer. Bring to room temperature before serving.

a classic, minus the gluten

A friend of mine who is allergic to wheat once gave me the sage advice to not expect gluten-free things to taste like the gluten-filled counterparts that I am used to.  This has proven to be true in most areas but I will say that thankfully it is not always the case.  This gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe from the “Blackbird Bakery” cookbook is just as good as the Tollhouse version I grew up on.  I promise.

The main difference is that the dough for these cookies needs to be refrigerated for at least two hours prior to baking.  A minor inconvenience for a delicious cookie.  Just keep this tidbit in mind should you need to whip up a quick batch! 

The resulting cookies are moist and rich.  I think the greatest compliment that I can give them is that I plan to make them again even after my gluten-free diet is over with.  They’re delicious, and I don’t know if this is psychological but I swear I didn’t feel as heavy after eating a couple then I usually do with traditional chocolate chip cookies… so that meant I ate like four in a sitting.  No judgement.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (slightly adapted from recipe found in “Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free” by Karen Morgan)

  • 1 ¼ cups glutinous rice flour (Bob’s Red Mill Sweet White Rice Flour works just fine)
  • 1 ¼ cups sorghum flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum
  • 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all the dry ingredients, including the sugars, and mix on low speed to blend.  Add the butter and mix on low speed until blended.  Add all the eggs at once along with the vanilla and mix on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Fold in the chocolate chips until evenly dispersed.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Using a 1 ½ -inch-diameter ice-cream scoop, place mounds of dough 1 ½ inches apart on the prepared pans.  Bake one pan at a time for 13 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes; transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

christmas cookies

Today is another bonus post as I am sharing three (three!) recipes of sweet treats.  Unfortunately I was not so great with the photography of said sweet treats while making them… You will see that I got some beginning images of two of the cookies and nothing at all of the buckeyes.  So even though you will not have much of a visual feast with this here post I guarantee you that the recipes herein are winners.  Guarantee!

One of my favorite traditions of the season is exchanging plates of various Christmas cookies and candies with neighbors, friends, coworkers, etc.  The variety of cookies is key because there’s bound to be something you’ll like on the plate and conversely something that the recipients of your plates will like.  For example, those little peanut butter cookies with the Hershey’s Kiss in the middle that seem to be so popular this time of year– I love those things!

So this year I made jam thumbprint cookies for people who don’t like super sweet things, caramelita bars for people who like rich treats, and buckeyes for everybody.  Because who doesn’t like buckeyes?  They’re crowd-pleasers.  Peanut butter and chocolate is the finest food pairing that ever existed, for shizz.

The buckeyes went first, then the caramelita bars, and finally the jam thumbprints.  Add one or all to your Christmas cookie plates this year!

Jam Thumbprint Cookies (from recipes for “Basic Vanilla Dough” and “Thumbprints and Ball Cookies” at www.marthastewart.com)

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Jar of fruit jam of your choice (I used raspberry and blackberry)

Whisk together flour and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and beat until combined.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls.  Arrange on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing each 1 inch apart.

Press well into the center of each ball using your finger.  Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 for 7 minutes.  Remove from oven, and press well again with handle end of a wooden spoon.  Bake until firm, 7 to 9 minutes more.

Let cool completely.  Spoon filling into thumbprints.

Crunchy Buckeyes

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate (chips or baking bars—both work)

Mix butter and peanut butter in a large bowl.  Add crispy rice cereal and blend, then add confectioners sugar and blend.  Form dough into balls and place on foil-lined baking sheet.  Place sheets in freezer to harden for about 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in heat-proof bowl placed over saucepan with boiling water, stirring until smooth.  Dip peanut butter balls in melted chocolate with fork until only an “eye” of peanut butter is visible (i.e. ¾ of the ball should be completely covered in chocolate.)  Set on foil-lined baking sheet to cool and set.

Oatmeal Caramelita Bars

CRUST:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cup butter, softened

FILLING:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped nuts, optional
  • 12 oz jar of caramel ice cream topping
  • 3 tablespoons flour

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 13”x 9” pan with butter.  In large bowl combine all crust ingredients.  (I recommend using a pastry knife or a fork to do so.  I used my stand mixer and it pulverized the oatmeal to flour consistency.)  Press half of crumb mixture, about 3 cups, into prepared pan.  Reserve remaining crumb mixture for topping.  Bake for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle warm base with chocolate chips and nuts if using.  Combine caramel topping and flour.  Pour evenly over chocolate chips and nuts.  Sprinkle with reserved crumbs.  Return to oven and bake 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely.  Cut into bars.  (Note: refrigerate prior to cutting to make it easier on yourself.)

what’s up doc?

Sometimes I like to tell myself that incorporating healthy things like vegetables into baked goods makes them less bad for you.  Seems logical, right?

Well, maybe by the time you add the butter and the sugar that’s not always the case but it sure makes me feel better about stuffing myself with a treat such as these inside-out carrot cake cookie sandwiches.

That’s a mouthful in more ways than one.  The cookies have shredded carrots (obvi), raisins, and walnuts (if you so desire; I happen to think nuts [with few exceptions] ruin desserts).  They are hardy and cinnamon-y and make your kitchen smell like a cozy fall afternoon.  Guaranteed.

The filling is two simple ingredients: cream cheese and honey.  I substituted Mascarpone cheese for cream cheese as I have been wont to do lately.  It complimented the sweeter cookie quite nicely.

I have tagged these as being appropriate for Thanksgiving.  I made them a few years ago for the young ones in case they weren’t into pecan and pumpkin pie like I wasn’t when I was their age, and adults ate them just the same.  I mean, who doesn’t love carrot cake?

Inside-Out Carrot Cake Cookies (recipe found at www.epicurious.com)

Yield: Makes about 13 cookies

  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely grated carrots (2 medium)
  • 1 scant cup walnuts (3 ounces), chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (I substituted Mascarpone cheese instead)
  • 1/4 cup honey

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 2 baking sheets.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in carrots, nuts, and raisins at low speed, then add flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Drop 1 1/2 tablespoons batter per cookie 2 inches apart on baking sheets and bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 12 to 16 minutes total. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

While cookies are baking, blend cream cheese and honey in a food processor until smooth.

Sandwich flat sides of cookies together with a generous tablespoon of cream cheese filling in between.

bacon makes everything better

Totally true!  I used to say that about butter (and still do sometimes) but now I say it about bacon too. 

A few years back people starting putting bacon in everything: donuts, scones, lattes, cupcakes.  Why oh why did it take so long for us to realize what a genius move this was?  Though as they say, better late than never.

A few months back I found a recipe for peanut butter bacon cookies on one of my favorite food blogs.  And while they sounded pretty good as is, I asked myself how could these be even better?  The answer was to candy the bacon prior to adding to the cookie batter.  While bacon is wonderful simply prepared, it is even better when it’s candied!  Salty and sweet at the same time!  I think the word I am about to throw out is seriously over-used in this day and age so I reserve it for times I really mean it and I really mean it when describing candied bacon: amazing.

I candied the bacon in the oven and it couldn’t have been easier.  With a little parchment paper, the clean-up was even super simple!  Then I chopped up the bacon finely and set out to getting the batter mixed up.

The batter consists of all-natural peanut butter, brown and white sugar, an egg, and baking soda– that’s it.  Oh, and then the bacon.  There’s no flour so it’s actually a gluten-free recipe.  The result is a crumbly batter that just holds together when you ball it up to make the cookies.

 These cookies are sweet and a little savory at the same time.  Heck, I ate two after baking them and called it dinner.  It’s got protein, right?  For sure.  Try some right away!

Candied Bacon (found at foodnetwork.com)

  • 10 strips thick-cut bacon
  • About 1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Position a cooling rack over a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet (for easy clean up). Lay the strips of bacon on the rack and place in the oven to bake for 6 to 8 minutes.

 Sprinkle each strip with brown sugar and bake until the sugar melts and caramelizes and the bacon is crispy, another 6 to 8 minutes; don’t let them burn. Remove from the pan and lay on the cooling rack to solidify and come to an eat-able temperature.

Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies (slightly adapted from a recipe joythebaker adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

  • 1 cup all-natural chunky or smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • about 6 slices of bacon, candied, cooled and diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a mixer combine peanut butter and sugars until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg and baking soda and mix for another 2 minutes. Fold in candied bacon. Roll into large walnut sized balls and create a criss-cross pattern with a fork. If you’d like, roll the dough balls in granulated sugar before making the criss-cross pattern. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a baking sheet for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.