Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Cookies

Dessert

Holy moly it’s been a long time since my last post! These last few months have been FULL of travel for me and Jon but it’s time to get back to business. To kick off things off, today’s post is dedicated to the face of Fall— Pumpkin.

Two years ago, I was introduced to the joys of pumpkin carving by my good friend Carolyn. Her family is incredibly festive for every holiday, and it’s no surprise that Halloween was a thing in their household. Her parent’s bought us pizza, we carved our little hearts out and good times were had by all.

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Although last year was a miss, this year Carolyn and I were back on track!

With fall beers and light hors d’oeuvres on the menu, Jon and I decided Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies were the perfect compliment to Carolyn’s spread. The recipe below yielded 28 cookies and they were all pretty big! Unlike the texture of traditional chocolate chip cookies, these were a little more voluminous/cake-like. Also, in order to achieve a little crunch on the bottom, we left our cookies in the oven for 27-29 minutes BUT the original recipe did say they could be removed in 22-24 minutes. All depends on your preference :).

Have a safe Halloween, and happy baking!

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P U M P K I N   S P I C E   C H O C O L A T E   C O O K I E S

Ingredients (yields 28 cookies)

Pumpkin Pie Spice*

2 Cups flour

1 Teaspoon baking soda

3/4 Teaspoon baking powder

1/4 Teaspoon salt

1 1/2 Cup granulated sugar

1 Stick unsalted butter

1 Can of pumpkin

1 Egg

1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 Cup semi sweet chocolate chips

(*You can absolutely buy pre-mixed pumpkin spice, but if you tackle it  yourself, just do a pinch of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, black peppercorns, and star anise.)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice in a medium sized bowl. Set this aside.
  3. Mix butter and sugar in a large bowl until the texture is smooth. Mix in vanilla extract, egg and pumpkin. IMG_9271
  4. In small batches, add dry ingredients into the large bowl with the wet mixture. For easy, even mixing, use a sifter throughout the process. IMG_9185
  5. Fold chocolate chips into the large bowl of cookie batter.
  6. Using a tablespoon, scoop  batter on to a non-stick tray with two inches between each cookie. (My baking sheets have seen better days so I tend to add foil and non-stick baking spray to play it safe.)
  7. Bake cookies for 24- 29 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Allow cookies to cool for 15 minutes, then chow down! IMG_4199

 

 

Crackle Brownie Cookies

Dessert

It’s borderline embarrassing just how many unutilized pins I have on Pinterest. It’s as if every pin binge is followed by an immediate black out.

The cookie recipe below is the product of not one but TWO over due efforts.  Well, the original plan (when I found this recipe in March) was to make this my contribution to the Rhoads’ Easter Extravaganza. Granted, Jon did get sick so we didn’t actually go but here we are three months later and I’m finally circling back. Now, where it gets really sad— about a week ago I decided I’d finally make these cookies and bring them to our 4th of July party at work but this was also a fail! My hectic week got best of me and I folded for store-bought cookies instead.

So, here we are three days after the party (but still a day before the holiday!) and I’ve finalllllly made these cookies from Cincy Shopper ! They’re a little on the messy side but overall pretty cheap and easy. Couple notes before we get started:

1. I swear by Ghiradelli brownie mix but I wouldn’t recommend using the chocolate chip variety for this particular activity. The cookie recipe itself calls for 1 cup of chocolate chips so for me it was almost a little too chocolatey having both.
2. When you drop the cookie batter into the powdered sugar it’s going to be goopy. Don’t freak out, just dust the sugar over the dough and it’ll act like flour. With a few mini kneads you’ll be able to scoop it out and place it on the pan with no problems. Just don’t over-work the sugar, the recipe is sweet enough as it is!
3. For me, these cookies turned out a lot larger than expected. With the first tray I definitely went overboard with my scoops– they were heaping. On the second tray I backed off and kept it to a plastic spoon full for each. Even then, the cookies turned out pretty sizable (maybe 3-4 bites, instead of 1-2 bites like I anticipated).
4. Sprinkles weren’t part of the recipe but I needed an element of “God bless America”. About 2-3 minutes before the timer went off I just tossed a few sprinkles on and lightly patted them down into the cookies so they wouldn’t roll away.

Alright, that’s all I got. Recipe time!

 

C R A C K L E   B R O W N I E

C O O K I E S

Ingredients

Brownie Mix

1 1/4 Cup flour

1/3 Cup vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon water

3 eggs

1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 Cups powdered sugar

Sprinkles (optional)

Process

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl combine brownie mix, flour, eggs, olive oil, and water. When smooth, slowly add chocolate chips.

3. In a smaller bowl sift 1/3 cup of powdered sugar.

4. For each cookie, scoop dough with a small spoon and place a dollop into the bowl of powdered sugar. Sprinkle a little sugar on the top of the dough (so it doesn’t stick to your hands) and lightly roll it around. Then place directly onto a non-stick cookie sheet.

5. Bake cookies for 10- 12 mins on the middle rack. Once done, allow cookies to cool for atleast 15 mins.

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Apple Sharlotka

Dessert

Thanks to our friends at Facebook and Instagram, a lot of us instinctly eat with our eyes before we even get a taste with our mouth. When I saw a picture of Food And Wine’s Sharlokta (a traditional Russian apple cake), I knew it was something I’d have to try. First of all, I LOVE fruit desserts. Second of all, I had been dreaming of a very similar french dessert (Clafoutis) that Jon prepared from one of our Raw Spice Club packets earlier this year. Once this strangely constructed Sharlotka caught my eye on Pinterest, everything just felt right!

Although I had a few concerns the recipe would be out of scope for my afternoon, to my surprise, the only ingredients I needed to purchase were 4 apples, powdered sugar, and almond extract (in which case I’m still convinced there’s another vile of extract sitting in the back of my pantry). What’s more– the only prep required was a little chopping, and basic cake making tasks: mix wet stuff into a bowl, mix dry stuff into bowl, pour bowl contents into a baking dish.

In terms of a formal description for the Sharlotka, it’s basically a cross between a biscotti and an apple coffee cake… the top is kind of hard but the inside is soft. That may sound little bizarre, but it’s absolutely fabulous served warm. Now, when it comes to flavor the taste of almond extract may be a polarizing. For me, I find that almond paste or extract truly adds a wow factor. For jon, the presence of almond was more of a distraction.

So that’s it. I loved it, the coworkers who gobbled it up from the work break room loved it, and hopefully you will too! See below for an adapted version of Food and Wine’s Apple Sharlotka.

A P P L E  S H A R L O T K A

 

Ingredients

4 Granny Smith apples

1 Tablespoon lemon Juice

1 Teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

1 Cup white granulated sugar

3/4 Cup and 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 Teaspoon cloves

3 Eggs

1/4 Teaspoon salt

1/2 Teaspoon almond extract

2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar (for dusting)

Process

  1. Wash, peel and chop apples into thin slices.
  2. In a large bowl, mix apple slices, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cover or place in a zip loc bag, setting the contents aside for atleast one hour.Sharlotka apples_bowl
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. In a different large bowl, whisk eggs, 3/4 cups sugar, and almond extract together thoroughly.  When egg and sugar mixture is smooth, slowly pour flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt into the bowl and mix. 
  5. Place apples into baking ware (I used a 9″ pie pan), and pouring the contents of the other bowl on top. Let this sit for 5 minutes before placing into the oven. 
  6. Allow the sharlotka to cook for 1 hour and cool for atleast 15 minutes.
  7. Dust the dish with powdered sugar and serve warm.  img_2654.jpg

Note: If you’re preparing this dish for family and friends make sure you warn them of the possible nut allergy :).

Twix Holiday Cookies

Dessert

It’s funny how the holiday season brings out the baker in all of us. Other than pies, I’m not really one for baking. Why? Because unlike cooking— baking is truly a science. Measurements should be exact. Cook times are bible. There’s a ton of focus and patience required that generally I just don’t have. As we approached the holiday season last year I remember racking my brain for weeks, just trying to come up with something festive I could bring to Jon’s family on Christmas day. I knew the “real adults” would handle the ham and major sides, but I couldn’t bring myself to show up empty handed. I remember asking— has anyone called dibs on holiday pretzels? What about buckeyes? Are cupcakes and sprinkles lame? What’s the guest count and do I need to have enough to feed everyone? After 50 questions, “Thumb Print Twix” sufficiently met criteria:

Minimal Ingredients
Recipe easily multiplied
Must have chocolate
Random enough for no one else to duplicate

To my relief, these cookies were truly simple and a pretty big hit! Like a true weirdo, I didn’t even claim these guys as mine, just so I could safely gage reactions for a while! By the time the evening was over, I decided this recipe had to be my holiday thing. From Christmas 2015, hence forth— I would be Thumbprint Twix girl. Committed to the cause, I’m proud to say these cookies made their second debut this Christmas at my sister’s 30th birthday party!

T W I X   H O L I D A Y   C O O K I E S

Ingredients
1 / 2 Cup sugar
2 / 3 Cup butter (basically 1 stick + 2.5 tablespoons)
1 Teaspoon vanilla
2 Egg yolks
1 / 2 teaspoon salt
1 1/ 2 Cup flour
1 Cup chocolate chips
50 Soft caramels
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
Sprinkles (optional)

Process
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Dice sticks of butter into cubes and microwave for 30 seconds to soften. Dump this into a large bowl.img_1474
3. Mix vanilla, salt, and sugar into the bowl of butter. If the butter is not too warm, stir in 2 egg yolks.  (Note: if you over did it in the microwave, just put the bowl in the fridge for a few minutes. You don’t want piping hot butter turning the yolks into scrambled eggs!)
4. Using a sifter, pour small batches of flour into the mixing bowl. Not only will sifting cut down on the mess, but if you’re mixing by hand you’ll have way more control when you’re combining the ingredients!
5. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and place this into the fridge for 30 – 45 minutes. (Note: if you don’t have time to tackle everything in one night, you can leave the dough in the fridge for a night or two. The first time, I made this I knocked it all out the morning of the festivities, but this time I couldn’t get to part 2 until the next night!)
6. Scoop cookie dough batter into small balls (about the size of a tablespoon) onto a sheet pan, or into a cup cake tin. (Last time my cookies turned out much wider and flatter than I imagined so this time I used a cupcake tin so the dough would be forced to rise).  Also apparently I only own one cupcake tray so that was a hurdle too!
7. Place cookies in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the sides turn golden brown. img_1485
8. Remove cookies from the oven and press a teaspoon into the center of each cookie. Let the cookies cool completely (I placed mine in the fridge for 45 minutes) before adding caramel and chocolate.
9. In a small sauce pan, combine heavy cream and caramel morsels. Stir this continually until the mixture is smooth. When the cookies have cooled, scoop 1/2 teaspoon of caramel into each thumb print. Let this sit.
10. Pour chocolate chips into small – medium glass bowl. Melt chocolate in the microwave at 30 second increments, OR create a double boiler on the stove. (Note: if you create a double boiler, fill 1/3 of a sauce pan with water, and place the glass bowl on top. Turn the stove to medium, and stir the bowl of chocolate as the steam causes it to melt).
11. After the chocolate is melted and smooth, let this cool for a few minutes then scoop the sauce into a piping bag (plastic zip lock bag with a corner snipped off). Drizzle cookies with chocolate and add a pink of sprinkles to the tray.

 

Brownie S’mores

Dessert

Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday and this year was a welcomed marathon. Instead of the usual low key gig with my mom and sisters, my recent Thanksgivings have evolved into a multi site, high calorie, somewhat exhausting production that I sort of love. After participating in Jon’s very first Turkey Trot, we showered, napped, got our butts in the kitchen (DELICIOUS brownie s’mores recipe below), and set out for the festivities ahead!

First leg- Lunch with the Rhoads in Davie

Unlike myself, Jon has a ton of family that’s local. After meeting the majority of his clan at the end of their feast last year, I knew I was in for a real treat at this back yard gathering. Turkey. Ham. Homemade bread. Casseroles for days. Side dishes for days. Pies for days. Beer. Wine. Football. In anticipation for the delights in store, Jon and I both made a crucial error: eating a comically light breakfast in order to conserve room. By 2:30pm we both killed a massive plate of entrees and by 3pm we followed up with dessert. This was terrible call but the selection was truly that delicious.

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Second leg- Dinner with Jon’s mom in Palm CityThank God this actually turned out to be less of a dinner and more of a hang out. The crew had already eaten by the time we arrived (the trek was about an hour and a half north), but we were greeted with liqueur and coffee upon entry. From there, this morphed into a serious throwback affair with his sisters DJ-ing the likes of Michael Jackson, Hall and Oats and a myriad of Skating Rink artists. By the end of the evening Jon and I were pooped but still managed to try a bite of the cheese rolls and fried turkey everyone had raved about.

Final stretch- Fortune fam jam in Orlando

Honestly, this year was pretty impressive for my side of the family! Lining the kitchen counters was a fantastic ham from my older sister Natasha, turkey, home made stuffing and cranberry sauce from Angelica, wine and champs compliments of husband Torey, pumpkin bites, sweet potato pie and tiramisu from my mother. Although Jon has spent limited time with my family in the past, after the two spirited hours of Wii Sports and Dance Party that followed— he’s practically one of us now!

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Tablescape brought to us in part by my younger sister Angelica (our host), West Elm and good ole Rifle Paper Co.

B R O W N I E    S’ M O R E S

Ingredients
2 Boxes brownie mix (for me, it’s Ghiradelli all day every day)
1  1/2 Sleeve of graham crackers
1 Bag marshmallows

Process

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease (or Pam) one 9 x 13 pan

2. Prepare brownie mix as instructed on the back of the box. Once you’ve made your batter, set this aside.

3. Pulse 1 1/2 sleeve of graham crackers into a food processer to line your 9 x 13 OR lay each plank side by side at the bottom of the pan.

4. Pour brownie mixture over the grahams and place into the oven for 30 – 35 minutes. Poke with a fork to make sure the batter is cooked to your liking. (Note: if you leave the left the graham cracker planks whole, some will randomly float up but this isn’t a big deal).
Remove brownies from the oven and let this cool for 10 – 15 minutes.

6.  If your brownie mix came with fudge, squeeze the contents of the pouch over the brownies after they have set. Open 1 bag of marshmallows and spread evenly on top. Set your broiler on high and place the brownie pan back in the oven for 3 – 5 minutes (that’s all it takes, so don’t wander away).

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All the brownies to cool for 1 hour, then cut into individual pieces. If you like it warm, pop your slice into the microwave or oven after the pan has been cut!