Candy bark cookie mess

Chocolate Candy Icebox Bars

Is candy/cookie gravel a thing?  Because I think that's what I made

Is candy/cookie gravel a thing? Because I think that’s what I made

All of these “use up candy” recipes start with a false premise, namely, leftover Halloween candy is something that you need to do something with.  Like something other than just put it in your face or give it away.  I mean, it’s a fun idea, but these are difficult recipes to justify.  Also, this recipe specifically calls for Kit Kat, Snickers, and Crunch.  What if you gave away something else?  I actually wound up buying Halloween candy so that I could have these particular leftovers.  That’s kind of the tail wagging the dog, right?

All musing aside, these are amazing.  They are actually worth buying the stuff for.  They are rich and sweet and delicious.  They are a little like muddy buddies and oreos and a bowl of candy had a baby.  If that sounds good, then welcome aboard.

But I must get a few pointers out of the way.  1) chocolate wafer cookies don’t exist outside of the east coast.  Stop it, B, they don’t.  I put oreos in the food processor instead.  Because that meant that I pulverized both cookies and filling, I omitted the powdered sugar from the recipe.  Side note: if you have extra cookie dust, you can mix it into vanilla ice cream and make your own cookies and cream.  2) Do not let this chill overnight before cutting into it.  Just don’t.  I used melted chocolate chips with M & M’s on top because I didn’t have Crunch bars, but I did have M & M’s and those are crunchy…  I wound up with a rock hard topping that could not be cut, which turned cookie bars into a sort of candy bark.  Let’s have an illustration to explain where this went wrong:

I did the first step with all of the cookie crumbs and peanut butter and candy bars, and I followed those instructions to the letter.  Then it was getting late, so I decided to melt the chocolate chips, sprinkle on the M & M’s…then I went to bed.  The recipe calls for you to let it set for 30 minutes.  I woke up to this:

Um, and there were parchment paper pieces in it...that wound up in my sister's mouth.  oops.

Um, and there were parchment paper pieces in it…that wound up in my sister’s mouth. oops.

Cutting it with my biggest, sharpest, nastiest knife left me with this:

Clean little bars, these are not...

Clean little bars, these are not…

It went downhill from there:

I literally took this picture and thought, "Well, you caption this one 'the moment I gave up.'"

I literally took this picture and thought, “Well, you caption this one ‘the moment I gave up.'”

The top kept busting off of the bottom, the M & M’s were coming apart.  This is what I wound up with:

*shrugs

*shrugs

I brought the pretty pieces (the ones that kind of stayed together) to my family’s party.  The rest of it hung out in my fridge.  And was eaten by me.  Pretty?  No.  Delicious?  My word, yes.

So save yourself the heartache and follow the directions on this one.

 

Obsession: brownie ice cream sandwich

Brownie ice cream sandwich

You were just here!

You were just here!

I think I can hear your thoughts.  You’re thinking, “Yeah.  Of course it’s good.  It’s ice cream and brownies.  We’ve all had a brownie sundae before.”  Stop right there.  You are wrong.  This is not like an ice cream sundae.  Well, at least not the way that I made it.  Take a look at that picture.  See how thin the actual brownie is?  Now take a look at the picture that Martha uses on her website:

I've got to figure out these jaunty angles...

I’ve got to figure out these jaunty angles…

Notice how thick the brownie is?  Kind of like an actual brownie, right?  Mine was more like a super crispy and thin brownie-flavored cookie, at least on the first day that I ate it.  Every day the brownie kept getting softer and softer and the sandwich kept getting better and better.  I believe mine wound up thin because I had to get creative with my pan.  I only have 18×13 quarter sheet pans/whatever you want to call them.  Cookie sheet with the lip on all sides.  How’s that?  This recipe calls for a 10×15 jelly roll pan.  Well, in order to make the surface area smaller, I created a dam of sorts with a glass loaf pan upside down on one side and a sheet of foil bumping up where loaf pan met brownie batter.  It was not perfect.  The loaf pan wasn’t as long as the sheet pan, so I kinda scooted it back and forth every time I opened the oven to check.  That helped make the brownie a little more rectangular.  Anyway, I have no regrets and I will not be rushing out to buy a new pan.  The thin brownie was great.

So here’s another question that haunts me and D: what other ice cream flavors would be good?  Mint chocolate chip was pretty perfect.  We were thinking moose tracks, but we don’t want it to get too rich.  Cookies and cream, surely.  Plain vanilla would probably be nice.  Coffee ice cream, maybe?  I think anything but plain chocolate (too weird) would be excellent.

On a related note, these ice cream sandwiches ruled my world for the one week that they were in our freezer.  Everything that happened all day long revolved around making it home to have another ice cream sandwich.  They are that good.

 

Lemon Icebox Cookies

Lemon Icebox Cookies 

All packed up to go to Book Club.

All packed up to go to Book Club.

This recipe is super simple. I just tossed everything into the food processor and I had my dough within seconds.  Literally.  However, this recipe made me realize two things.  Number one, I need to upgrade to a new zester, rasp, whatever you want to call it.  The one I have was sent to me as a gift for renewing my Everyday Food subscription many years ago.  It probably wasn’t great to begin with.  Now, it just needs to go.  Time to upgrade to a microplane.  Second, I need to upgrade my baking sheets.  I’ve had them for close to a decade and used them continually.  It’s time.  It’s also time because for some reason one of the pans I was using made the bottom of these cookies super dark, despite rotating the pans in the oven.

The cookies themselves were delicious.  They were like a lightly lemony shortbread. Yum!  They went over well with my new book club (I took them to the first ever meeting I attended.) and I’m sure they aided my acceptance into the group.  And so, I’ve decided to rename them Lemon IceBreaker Cookies!

 

 

 

 

 

Sandwich cookies.

Heart Sandwich Cookies, January/February 2010, pg.124

heart sandwich cookies

I was more than happy to make another dessert/snack that required rolled oats!  (I’m almost down to one container.)  I also thought these cookies would be perfect to mail to my brother for his birthday.  He’s a very busy person who eats at least 3 forms of peanut butter and jelly everyday.  Since, his cabinets are full of different jellies, hazelnut spread, peanut butter, almond butter, etc., (If you are going to eat three PB&J’s a day, you need variety!) I left the sandwich filling up to him.

The heart sandwich cookies were very easy to make.  I did use dark brown sugar, because that’s what I had.  The dough was a little darker than those in the Everyday Food issue, but the taste probably didn’t change that much.  Holy Moly, was the dough hard after I took it out of the refrigerator!  I had to let it sit for over 30 minutes before I could roll it.  I decided not to use a heart cookie-cutter, since I would be sending the cookies to my brother.  I also had to bake the cookies longer than the recipe said.  I am to blame for that because I’m not good at rolling thin cookies.  My rolled out dough is always thicker, maybe I need to keep a ruler in the kitchen.

The final product was pretty good.  I had a plain cookie and decided it tasted a lot like shortbread.  Which makes sense since there is 1.5 sticks of butter and a decent amount of sugar in the cookies.  I did find that the cookies were a little salty.  I would recommend decreasing the amount of salt.  My husband made a grape jelly sandwich with the cookies.  He said it was good but the jelly was rather messy.  So I decided to dip the cookies in some melted semi-sweet chocolate and make some sandwiches with the melted chocolate.  The hardened chocolate went well with the cookies and prevented a gooey mess while eating the sandwich cookies.  Overall, the sandwich cookies were fine, nothing special.

Chocolate-Peppermint Thumbprints

Chocolate-Peppermint Thumbprints

This photo would have been wildly appropriate if I had managed to write this post even reasonably close to when I baked these cookies...

This photo would have been wildly appropriate if I had managed to write this post even reasonably close to when I baked these cookies…

So these cookies were pretty easy to make.  The most tedious part was actually rolling the dozens of little balls that become the cookies.  I also found it curious how under baked they looked when they came out.  (The directions said it was ok and even desired so I ran with it).

All in all, the cookies were pretty tasty.  The chocolate cookie part itself is very slightly salty but it goes along well with the peppermint and the cookies stay nice and soft and super poppable (as in pop them right in your mouth!)

I’ve made chocolate peppermint EF cookies before (they were basically thin mints, yum!) so I had very high standards for these thumbprints.  These didn’t quite live up to my expectations (trust me, those thin mints were probably the best cookie I’ve ever made – I had them at a party and people were stuffing them in their coat pockets so they could take some home before they were all eaten). 

Something about the peppermint amount wasn’t quite perfect in my apparently very elitist opinion.  (Maybe I just need to upgrade my peppermint extract.)They were however, very good.  The bear ate loads of them.  So if you are in the mood for some post-season Christmas cookies, give these a try!

flipped cookies and the bar to be savored

Cinnamon-sugar palmiers

coconut-lime bars

If you look very closely, you can tell what day it was

If you look very closely, you can tell what day it was

Folks, you need to make these palmiers.  I’ll wait.

Good, right?  Let me show you a couple things in case the recipe looks weird and intimidating.  First of all, I need to say that you barely need to roll the puff pastry out to get it to 9 by 11 inches.  It’s about 8 by 10 to begin with.  Second, try folding a piece of paper the way they tell you to fold the dough in order to practice and get the idea.  It’s simple, but it’s very hard to picture in your mind, and it’s not something you can see a picture of and instantly understand.  At least it wasn’t for me.  So I had to try it with paper a few times.  Here’s what it looks like all folded up:

not unlike churros...

not unlike churros…

You can cut the slices with a knife.  It’s not too terribly delicate. Be sure to space them those 2 inches apart.  These puff up quite a bit.  That’s a good thing.  Look at how ridiculous they look raw!

cue the sad trombone

cue the sad trombone

Ah, but here they are finished:

even the burned ones are good

even the burned ones are good

The really odd thing about this recipe is that you flip the cookies about halfway through.  I don’t mean rotate the sheet or swap the top rack for the bottom rack.  I mean you literally take the cookies out of the oven, flip each cookie upside down and cook the other side.  That was a new one for me.

What you wind up with is a light, airy, delicate, sweet, wonderful cookie.  Good luck not eating them by the handful.  You’ll note that we didn’t drizzle them with chocolate.  It didn’t seem necessary.  They were sweet enough already.

Now, the coconut lime bars.  They’re also delicious.  They are thick and dense.  We used salted macadamia nuts because we couldn’t find unsalted.  All we did was just omit salt otherwise.  Easy peasy.  They are a nice bar cookie to sit and savor.  There’s really no trick to them except that I think the pan size is more forgiving than the recipe seems to suggest.  I only have an 8 by 8 pan.  This calls for a 9 by 9.  First we tried to do some half-assed math with surface area and volume.  Ugh.  Then, we thought we’d just make the normal batter and throw some of it out.  A triumph of American public schooling right here.  Well, when we pushed the batter for the bottom crust down into the pan, we noticed that it wasn’t all that thick.  So we figured, let’s just bake it a little longer and see how it goes.  It goes well.  It goes very well.  I think you could use a 9 by 9 or an 8 by 8.  Just keep an eye on them.  And enjoy!

Yeah, the coconut toasted just like that.  It was amazing.

Yeah, the coconut toasted just like that. It was amazing.

Not a cookie I would recommend…

December 2011, pg. 103

Stained-glass sugar cookies recipe

Stained glass cookies 3

My parents’ taught me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  So I will make this short and sweet.  In my world, hard candies and sugar cookies, DO NOT go together.  They are both great on their own, but you don’t want to bite into a sugar cookies with a hard candy center.  Hard candies are meant for sucking on.

I didn’t have any appropriate pretty cookie cutters so I used my doughnut cutter.  I know, BORING, but that’s all I had.  And it’s not all about how a cookie looks but how it tastes.  Or maybe in this case these cookies should have looked pretty if I was intending to use them as an ornament and not an edible snack.

I used 6.25 ounces of lifesaver hard candy.  I ran out of candy for the 4 dozen cookies I made.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Gingerbread cookies

December 2011, pg. 104

Gingerbread bells recipe

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies are a classic holiday cookie that I thoroughly enjoy eating!  I made the cookies the day we going to our friends’ house for dinner because P and I didn’t need 3 dozen gingerbread cookies to ourselves.  I also wasn’t going to make 3 dozen gingerbread bells.  BORING.  I used several different cookie cutters for the cookies.

I burned the first batch of cookies that I baked for 14 minutes like the recipe said.  The rest of the cookies I baked for a total of 10 minutes.   After cooling the cookies, P and I tried a plain gingerbread cookie and we both decided the same thing.  They tasted good but were very hard.  This would be a good recipe for those who want to make gingerbread houses.  I’m going to stick with my other gingerbread cookie recipe that results in a softer cookie.

I was not a fan of the frosting ingredients.  I don’t use pasteurized egg whites and didn’t want to buy them.  I did a little research on how to pasteurize eggs and decided I would try to pasteurize the eggs myself.  It seemed pretty easy, but it would take some time and quite a few eggs.  I thought I would have plenty of time to make the frosting but P and I decided to do some Christmas shopping (which always takes longer than expected), and our friends said dinner was going to be at 6 o’clock (I was expecting a 7 o’clock).  So, I didn’t have the opportunity to make the frosting in the December 2011 issue.  I went with an easy and delicious butter cream frosting.  I don’t even measure the ingredients anymore.  A little bit of vanilla, a tablespoon of butter, milk and confectioners’ sugar.  The gingerbread cookies got some frosting and sprinkles.  Nothing fancy.  Time just disappears during the holidays.

Our friends liked the cookies.  They were all gone by the end of the night.  They were still hard but they tasted good and the frosting was delicious.  This was a one-time only recipe for me.

Toffee Blondies

Toffee Blondies

October 2003, pg. 106 (no link found)

Image

Ingredients and Directions

½ cup melted unsalted butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. salt

1 ½ cups flour

1 cup toffee bits

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°.  Line bottom and sides of pan with aluminum foil.  (I used an approximate 8”x 5”x 1.5” casserole dish.)

Step 2: Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs, vanilla, and salt.  Add flour slowly and beat until combined.  Stir in toffee bits.

Step 3: Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake 30-35 minutes. (Toothpick should come out clean when inserted in center of cake.)  Let cool completely before lifting cake out of pan by grasping sides of aluminum foil.

Step 4: Cut cake into squares or freeze for a later date.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

*adapted from Everyday Food, October 2003 issue, p. 106

I’m not sure why, but I don’t tend to bake with toffee.  My choice add-in is usually chocolate or some kind of fresh or dried fruit.  Making me a little apprehensive of the toffee blondies recipe that was up next on my list to bake.  There must be a reason I don’t use toffee: Did I have a bad cooking experience or eat a toffee desert that wasn’t delicious?  I’m very good at forgetting the bad things that happen to me in life, maybe this was one of those cases…it was not!

I had to force myself not to cut the hot toffee blondies immediately after taking them out of the oven.  The smell was intoxicating.  (Yankee Candle would most certainly benefit from a ‘toffee blondie’ scent, if they don’t already have one.)  I didn’t think I would be able to wait until they were cool, and I was right.  I had my first toffee blondie bite when they were warm.  Great decision.  They were delicious!  My husband agrees.

The toffee blondie recipe was fantastic.  Easy to make and tasted great!  Everyday Food said it perfectly when they suggested this baked-good for lunchboxes, bake sales, or to share at a friend’s house party.  We chose to bring the toffee blondies to a friend’s house and they were a hit!

Shortbread Wedges

Shortbread Wedges

http://www.marthastewart.com/336979/shortbread-wedges

October 2003, pg. 144

Shortbread wedge

I LOVE shortbread.  Butter.  Sugar.  Honestly, what isn’t there to love about this simply delicious snack?  My love of shortbread began when I worked at the coffee shop in Brewer Bookstore at St. Lawrence University.  They had shortbread for a quarter.  Whether I was in the mood for plain, chocolate chip, and/or pecan, the buttery goodness let me step away from my ever so stressful undergraduate life.  Plus they sat on the counter calling my name.

I decided to whip-up a quick batch of the shortbread wedges this morning.  Letting the butter sit at room temperature, I watched ‘Meet the Press’ for an hour.  After I was done drinking coffee and watching some news, I creamed some butter.  Mixed the sugar and flour with the butter and put the crumbly dough in an 8-inch springform pan.  I thought I was being clever with the pan choice.  There was no need.  A half-pound of butter isn’t going to let a cup of flour and a third cup of sugar stick to anything.  I attempted crimping the edges with a fork and failed.  The top layer of dough was flaking off and I probably should have chilled the dough for a full 10 minutes like the recipe suggested.  ‘Hindsight is 20/20.’

I cooked the shortbread for 35 minutes to ensure the center was firm.  The edges of the shortbread did start to brown, so I laid foil over the pan for the last 5 minutes of baking.  This is where I digress for a moment and explain my kitchen and oven.

I currently live in an old gristmill built before 1800.  A well-known interior designer bought the severely neglected mill in the 1950’s and turned it into three apartments.  My husband and I rent what was the old gear room.  NOT a traditional living space.  Our kitchen is about 6’x 5’ including the sink, counter, and oven.  As you can imagine such a small kitchen can only fit a small oven.  The oven doesn’t have a glass window.  So I need to open the door, which lets heat out, every time I want to check on the cooking item.  The temperature control knob does not have any temperatures on it.  I had to buy a thermometer to put in the oven so I know what the temperature is.  Requiring me to open the door more frequently.  Lastly, there is not a tight seal on the oven door and it’s so small the temperature is not consistent.  Now you know what I am dealing with.

Oven

After letting the shortbread cool completely I removed the shortbread from pan.  I was able to break this delicious treat into the 8 wedges, no need for a serrated knife.  Scoring the shortbread worked perfectly.

The shortbread wedges were a success.  Not perfect, but delicious buttery snack!  They almost melted in my mouth.  They had a flaky texture when I was expecting a crumbly texture.   I may not have creamed the butter long enough or I may try creaming the butter and sugar together and then adding the flour.  My husband and I both prefer thicker shortbread.  The next time I bake shortbread wedges I will use a smaller pan.  A piece of advice: Only eat one wedge at a sitting.  Your stomach may be yelling, “Too much butter.”  If you go back for seconds, as mine did.  But they were just so darn good!