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.

peanut butter curry ice cream

A few months ago I made a day trip to San Francisco for work (I don’t recommend this if you live east of the Mississippi as I do…) and after the business portion of the trip was complete I was able to meet up with a good friend of mine who lives there for dinner.  Dinner was great and we were chatting along so that time was passing by quickly and all of a sudden I could see a lightbulb go off in his head: he suggested that we try to go to a place in the same neighborhood for ice cream before it closed.  This being a good friend of mine he knows that ice cream is my favorite so we walked as quickly as we could to the ice cream joint with what sounds like a man’s name, Humphry Slocombe.

Unfortunately we were too late, they had already closed for the day, but I peeked in to see what I was missing: flavors with names like Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee, Secret Breakfast, and Malted Dulce de Leche.  I knew someday I would return to sample these delicious-sounding flavors in person.  In the meantime when amazon recommended their cookbook to me based on past purchases I added it to my wishlist and was generously gifted it for my birthday last month.

I knew which flavor I wanted to test first.

If you’ve looked at this blog before you’ve maybe noticed that I like Thai food and curries of any ethnic origin in general.  Peanut sauce is the bomb.  Peanut butter curry ice cream?  What a great idea!

It sounds like it might not work, but it totally does.  It’s sweet, but not overly so and the curry gives it a nice punch.  So until I can make it back to San Francisco I look forward to at least trying more of Humphry Slocombe’s recipes!

Peanut Butter Curry Ice Cream (slightly from “Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book” by Jack Godby, Sean Vahey, and Paolo Lucchesi)

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoon curry powder (vadouvan curry, finely minced, if you can find it)

Fill a large bowl or pan with ice and water.  Place a large, clean bowl in the ice bath and fit the bowl with a fine-mesh strainer.

In a large, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot but not boiling.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla until well blended.  If you’re using curry powder (not vadouvan), whisk that in now, too.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat.  Slowly pour about have of the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly.  Transfer the yolk mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining cream mixture and return it to medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula and being sure to scrape the bottom of the saucepan so it doesn’t scorch, until the liquid begins to steam and you can feel the spatula scrape against the bottom of the pan, 2 to 3 minutes.

Remove the custard from the heat and immediately pour it through the strainer into the clean bowl you set up in the ice bath.  If you’re using vadouvan, stir it in right now.  Let cool, stirring constantly.

When the custard has totally cooled, cover the bowl tightly and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or preferably overnight.  When you are ready to freeze the custard, transfer it to an ice cream maker and spin according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Eat immediately, or transfer to an airtight container, cover, and freeze for up to 1 week.

mid week sweet treat

You might think the below image is of cookie dough about to be baked, but you would be wrong.  Have you ever had Buckeyes before?  Well below is a Buckeye before it gets dunked in melted chocolate.  What we have here are peanut butter balls.

Except in this case we are not dunking the peanut butter balls into melted chocolate but rather placing them on top of a fudgy cookie.  These are Buckeyes in cookie form… genius!  (Thank you Joy the Baker for your brilliant concoction.)

The cookie dough is kind of runny and has to be dribbled on a parchment-lined baking sheet with a spoon.  At first I was a little nervous about this because I was afraid they weren’t going to bake up properly but indeed they did.  They result in a fudgy, soft cookie that makes for a perfect vehicle for the aforementioned peanut butter balls.

You place the pre-made PB balls in the center of the cookies when they are fresh out of the oven so that they meld together into a beautiful final piece that is greater than the sum of its parts.

There is no better combination that exists than peanut butter and chocolate together.  Perfection.  In cookie form.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ball Cookies (from “Joy the Baker Cookbook” by Joy Wilson)

For the peanut butter balls:

  • 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 tablespoons peanut butter

For the cookies:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make the peanut butter balls: in a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter, and peanut butter.  With clean hands begin to work the mixture together.  The butter and peanut butter should come together to create a stiff but pliable dough.  (I had to add 2 additional tablespoons of peanut butter to make the dough come together but I think that’s because I use natural peanut butter which tends to be a little more dry.)  Roll dough between your palms to create 16 small walnut-sized balls.  Place on a clean cutting board or cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

To make the cookies: in a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until thick and pale.  Set aside.

Place about 2 inches of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.  In a heatproof bowl, combine butter and chocolate chips.  Place the bowl over but not touching the simmering water.  Heat until chocolate and butter have melted together.  Remove bowl from heat.  Add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture and fold together.  Once entirely incorporated, stir in the vanilla.  Fold in the flour mixture with a spatula until thoroughly incorporated.  The mixture will be glossy and loose.

Spoon heaping tablespoonfuls of cookie batter onto the baking sheet, spacing the batter 2 inches apart.

Bake for 10 minutes until crackled on top, but still fudgy in the center.  Remove from oven and immediately press a peanut butter ball into the center of each cookie.  The warmth will help meld the two together.  Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies will last, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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


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


  • 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.)

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.