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Carolyn

Sara

Sara and me

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Erik Larson’s tome, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz. This book covers the “reign” of Winston Churchill during the height of WWII. You’ll learn so much more about him. About the war. About the inner workings of the British government, including political. I’m a great admirer of the late Mr. Churchill. One of my more recent trips to England I visited Chartwell, the family home and where Winston died. If you’ve never been there, do add it to your itinerary next time. Beautiful grounds, including the small studio he used to paint.

Ken Follett is one of my fav authors, and I pre-ordered his newest, The Evening and the Morning (Kingsbridge), which is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth: A Novel (Kingsbridge), my all-time favorite book I’ve ever read. Time period: 975 to about 1007 or so. Give or take. It follows a poor, but eager and intelligent builder as he earns his trade. It’s about his loves. His failures. The families all around, and much about the ever-present church (and its leaders, some honest, many not). Could hardly put the book down. Love Follett’s style of writing.

Every so often I read a romance of some kind. Historical ones mostly. And most I don’t include them here. But one I liked a lot is The Secrets of Saffron Hall by Clare Marchant. It happens to be very inexpensive right now on amazon, on Kindle, in case you’re interested. It jumps from 1538 and to 2019. Having to do with a precious book, a Book of Hours, and what secrets it contains. The growing of saffron plays large here and both romance in Tudor times and a tenuous marriage in current time, but nearly all of it takes place at a Tudor castle. Loved the book.

The book Where the Blind Horse Sings: Love and Healing at an Animal Sanctuary shares the story of a number of animals brought to an animal sanctuary in the Catskills. If you’re an animal lover, you’ll enjoy the stories, each animal bringing more to the human-animal relationship than you might even guess. Profound stories of love of animals. Not a long book; I think I got it as a bargain book from bookbub.

The title caught my attention on this one: Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim by Sabeeha Rehman. She’s written her own autobiography, beginning when she was a young child in Pakistan, to her eventual settling in New York. It’s about the Muslim experience. Their beliefs, their customs and traditions, told in a very pleasing and informational way. She marries in American Pakistani Muslim (an arranged marriage) and it’s the story of everything. Nothing much is left out of the journey she made, and still makes. She became a kind of activist for her religion, trying to bring Muslim customs to integrate into American culture (not always an easy task). Her husband is a doctor; she a hospital administrator. Likely you’ll learn more than you thought about Muslims. Very well written. Enjoyed it very much.

Finished Chinn’s story, The English Wife. What a great read. Could hardly put it down. I’m reading 3-4 books a week these days, and am so happy when I have a book I can’t wait to get back to. Really the story is about two sisters. Partly in Norwich, England, then in Newfoundland. One there, one here. And some of it takes place during WWII in Norwich, and much of it Newfoundland, then, and more recent. I loved the part of the book that took place on 9/11 when flights were diverted to Newfoundland. Family secrets, family lies, much anger between the sisters. There’s romance. There’s war. There is love of family. Particularly I savored the descriptions of Newfoundland, mostly rock, if you’ve never been there. It’s a twisted tale, by that I mean the family secrets which become the undoing. It’s a bargain on amazon right now, as I write this.

Also finished reading Sue Monk Kidd’s recent book, The Book of Longings: A Novel. It is a book that might challenge some Christian readers, as it tells the tale of Jesus marrying a woman named Mary. The story is all about Mary, her growing up, her scholarly pursuits, and then from the moment she meets Jesus as a young man. The story follows along to and beyond his death on the cross. In the time of Christ it was extremely uncommon for a man not to marry. It was almost unseemly. Fraught with suspicions, I’d suppose. Although scripture, as scripture, does not play a very strong part here, if you’ve read the Bible you’ll see many of the stories of Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes. I loved the book from the first word to the last one. The book is believable to me, even though the Bible never says one way or the other that Jesus ever married. It’s been presumed he never did. But maybe he did?

Jeanine Cummins has written an eye-opener, American Dirt. A must read. Oh my goodness. I will never, ever, ever look at Mexican (and further southern) migrants, particularly those who are victims of the vicious cartels, without sympathy. It tells the story of a woman and her young son, who were lucky enough to hide when the cartel murdered every member of her family – her husband, her mother, and many others. Her husband was a journalist, and his life was always in danger because he wrote the truth, and that was taking a risk. The story is about her escape, with harrowing chapters as she makes her way north from Acapulco, with various major detours, one step, or sometimes nothing more than a hair’s width ahead of the cartel minions trying to find her. I could NOT put this book down. The author is not Hispanic, and some have criticized her for that, but she did her research, and many authors write about places and people they are not. I have nothing but respect for her having told this story. You need to read this.

Also read JoJo Moyes’ book, The Giver of Stars. Oh gosh, what a GREAT book. Alice, living in an English home which lacks much, leaps to agree to marry a visiting American. It was an escape for her. He is a man of some family wealth, and she travels from England to Kentucky, during the 1920s. Once settled into the family home, she discovers married life is not what she had expected. Affection is lacking, and she must share the home with her tyrannical father-in-law, the owner of mines in the deep mountains. And with the ghost of the deceased mother-in-law. The family cook won’t tolerate Alice’s help in the kitchen. Alice is terribly lonely and unhappy. The town doesn’t much like this English woman with her funny way of speaking. But then, she meets a woman who encourages her to join the Horseback Librarians. With trepidation, she begins traversing the remote hills, through unbelievable weather, to deliver old, battered and tattered books to the remote inhabitants of the area. She makes friends, wonderful, loving people from all walks of life. There is tremendous tension from the danger of the mines, the unions trying to get a foothold, plus the unraveling of her marriage, including the dreaded father-in-law who feels she should answer to him, behave as he wants. Uh, no. Alice goes her own route. Her new friends become her family, and, oh, what love. There has been much criticism of Moyes’ possible plagiarism of another book regarding the Horseback Librarians. I read the other book – but I didn’t feel remotely as intrigued by that story as I was by Moyes’ version. A feel good story, but it takes some while getting to that “feel good” part, nearly to the end.

Frances Liardet has written a blockbuster tale, We Must Be Brave. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Although the scene is WWII England, this book is not really about the war. It’s about the people at home, waiting it out, struggling with enough food, clothing and enough heat. It’s about Ellen. Her early years, under much hardship. About her teens, some of it as an orphan. Then a young adult, which includes marriage, a marriage blanc, which I didn’t understand until you learn the meaning. Then a child enters the picture, a child that will become a focus for the remainder of the book. Through the war, and beyond. I cried several times, as will you, I suspect. What’s a constant is the descriptions of the place, a town called Upton, near Southampton. About the hills and dales, the flora and fauna, the rain, the mud sometimes, the flooding sometimes. But throughout, it’s about neighbors caring for neighbors, and about love. A must read. Would make a really good book club read.

Jamie Ford has written another good one, Love and Other Consolation Prizes. Remember, he wrote The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Loved that book. This one takes on a rather ugly part of America’s past, when Chinese people were treated like trinkets. Ernest Young is such a boy, who ends up being a “prize” at an event, and with great angst, ends up as a kind of servant at a high-class bordello in Seattle. Yet, the women and girls there become HIS family. He is intelligent and learns many lessons. Eventually, when society women battle to close down such houses of ill repute, he leaves that life, with his wife. They have children. The bulk of the book is about the early years around the turn of the 20th century, then you pick up the threads nearing the end of his life, and his wife’s. There are any number of small mysteries, which unravel with a word here or there – you know that word foreshadowing? Really interesting read.

In between more literary novels, I bought a comedic memoir . . . Juliette Sobanet’s Meet Me in Paris. There’s the falling apart of a marriage (and divorce), but in the inbetween, she decides to take a trip (sans husband) around Europe to get her head straight. The kind of tour that would drive me crazy, but it was one night, maybe two at each major city. She knew no one, but soon enough bonds with  three other women. Then she has a chance-meeting of a young Frenchman who had been an exchange student in her home town. They’d lost touch, yet there were definitely sparks there, never realized. Some of the touristy stuff was trite, I must say, although the women do try to take in all the major sites, if only for a few minutes. There is plenty of humor. Some steamy stuff too as she meets up with the young man in another city. Apparently it’s a happy-ever-after story. Great literature it is not, but it was a fun romp, so to speak.

Recently finished Thomas Nelson’s The Hideaway. It seems like there are SO many novels out there about families finding, inheriting or otherwise going to an old house with memories. Especially ones on the water. With stories to tell. It’s a great way to introduce some light mystery to the telling of some other family story. In this case it’s Sara’s grandmother who was enigmatic in every way. And Sara inherits the run-down, ramshackle B&B on Mobile Bay. Cute story with lots of twists and turns.

Also just finished James Conroyd Martin’s Fortune’s Child: A Novel of Empress Theodora (Book 1 of 2). Theodora grew up the daughter of a circus performer, but then moved onto “the boards,” as acting was called back in Byzantine times (Constantinople, 6th century). She always had high expectations – she just “knew” she was going to accomplish great things. She was an occasional prostitute, a mistress, and then, behold, the son of Emperor Justin is mesmerized by her beauty, takes her on, and makes her his wife, amid much royal machinations. A young eunuch also plays large in the story too, a man hopelessly in love with Thea, but knows his love can never be returned or fulfilled. He becomes an historian to the Empress. Quite a story – much of it chronicles her early life and not a lot of it in Constantinople. But riveting story.

I’m doing SO much reading of late. Read this book in one day. The Glass Hotel: A novel by Emily St. John Mandel. Loosely based on the story of Bernie Madoff (Ponzi scheme), it tells a novelized version of a man with incredible power and charisma who gathers a group of willing partners. It’s about the people he cuckolded, and the people who took him down. At the beginning drugs come into play and I almost didn’t continue, but that was a very short section. Well worth reading. Lots to discuss if you’re looking for a book club read.

Once in awhile I read a poignant animal story, as you know if you’ve followed this sidebar for any length of time. Craig & Fred: A Marine, A Stray Dog, and How They Rescued Each Other by Craig Gross, tells the story of his military duty in Afghanistan, in a war zone. And how his unit befriended a dog, a stray, and how that dog really did become his lifeline.

Cara Wall’s new book, The Dearly Beloved: A Novel. It tells the story of two couples. The two husbands become co-pastors of a New York City church. The wives? Oh my, are they ever different. They don’t abide. The husbands try to get a grip on their jobs, pastoring, preaching, and keeping the wives happy.

Loved-loved Gregory Buford’s humorous memoir, Kept: An American Househusband in India. He aims to be a U.S. diplomat, takes the tests and fails. On a whim, his wife takes the test and is hired. Their first assignment: Chennai, India. They spent two years there, with his much-loved wife going off to do diplomatic duties (albeit at a low level – everyone must pay their dues at the beginning) and Greg is left at home to deal with the servants, the house, the beggars, the nanny, the construction next door, shopping, and also partly caring for their infant.

William Kent Krueger wrote Ordinary Grace. From amazon: a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God. It’s a coming of age story.

Shirley Ann Grau’s book, The Keepers of the House. Hmmm. Much to think about. [from an amazon review]: There is a reason it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1965. Seven generations of Howlands have lived on this rural Alabama plantation in good times and bad. It tells the story of this family from the time its patriarch settled the land in the early 1800s to the mid-20th century.

Marie Martin wrote Harbored Secrets. From amazon: In May of 1935, Blinny Platt’s homestead shack burns to the ground forever leaving her family asunder, scattering them like the embers flew on the Montana wind. She was only 8, sent away and in charge of her little sister. She could handle that because Platts take care of Platts. However, it is the hidden secrets of her parents smoldering beneath the charred remains that haunts Blinny until 1982.

Best book I’ve read recently. Not new. Called Follow the River: A Novel by James Alexander Thom. This one is also based on the history of a woman (married, pregnant) who was captured by the Shawnee, during the early settlement days east of the Ohio River, about 1755. And her eventual escape. I stayed up all hours to keep reading. The book was written from the many journals and writing compiled by her children. Her name: Mary Ingles. And it chronicles her 1000-mile trek in treacherous weather and over uncharted ground. What an amazing woman, and what a story.

Alan Hlad has written quite a novel. From true life. The Long Flight Home. It tells the story based on family history, of the homing pigeons that were used in Britain during WWII that flew back and forth across the English Channel into German-occupied France. It’s a heartwarming story. Heart-wrenching sometimes. War is an awful thing no matter which side you’re on when it comes to how it affects everyday people. You’ll learn a lot about pigeons, but also about love. Great read.

Riveted to Katie Munnick’s novel The Heart Beats in Secret. It begins in Scotland in 1940. A woman, a single mother. A journey across the sea. Then her daughter’s story, and finally the granddaughter’s story, when she inherits her grandmother’s old cottage back in Scotland. Plenty of mother-daughter dysfunction. But it comes right in the end.

Sarah Vallance has written a book about her devastating brain injury. Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain. What a story. What a saga of her recovery. And how she did it. An open wide sharing of her angst, her anger, her journey. Well worth reading. If you have anyone who has suffered a brain injury, it would be wise reading.

Just love all of Amy Harmon’s books. This one is no exception. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel. A pioneer story of a young woman made a widow on the trail to the west. 1850s. As it was in life, tragedies occur. But there is caring and love too. Loved it.

Read Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers. After leaving her childhood home of Switzerland, young Marta Schneider dreams of one day owning a boardinghouse, until marriage and motherhood change her ambitions. Determined to give her family a better life, she vows to raise strong children. But her tough love is often misunderstood, especially by her oldest daughter, Hildemara Rose, creating repercussions that will echo for generations.

Esther Freud’s book The Sea House: A Novel is about a small village on England’s southern coast.  The book is about love found, love lost, love sometimes found again, sometimes not. About how fleeting it can be or seem.

Amor Towles’ book, Rules of Civility: A Novel was quite a read. It’s NYC, 1937. Twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent [Kon-TENT she iterates to many] is in a Greenwich Village jazz bar when a handsome banker happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society.

Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl by Stacey O’Brien. What an adorable book. True story about Stacey’s 20 years with a feisty but lovable barn owl.

Loved The Wedding Officer: A Novel by Anthony Capella. It takes place in the middle of WWII in Naples. A young British officer, Captain James Gould, is sent to Naples to wade through the zilions of applications from soldiers to marry local Italian women (and presumably take them back to England when the war ends).

Reading behind Bars: A True Story of Literature, Law, and Life as a Prison Librarian by Jill Grunenwald. So interesting. Jill is  young, with a newly minted degree in library science at a time when the economy was very slow. She accepts a position in a minimum security prison in Ohio.

The Walls of Lucca by Steve Physioc. A novel that takes place in between WWI and II about a weary Italian soldier.

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna. A novel about Croatia in the aftermath of their more recent wars.

A Column of Fire: A Novel by Ken Follett. It takes place in the 1500s, in England, and has everything to do with the war between the Catholics and the Protestants, that raged throughout Europe during that time, culminating in the Spanish Inquisition.

Having read all of Kristin Hannah’s books, I knew I’d read her latest too: Between Sisters: A Novel.  Two sisters, raised by the same mother but different fathers. At a young age a rift occurs and the sisters go their own way.

Just finished Matt McCarthy’s book The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly: A Physician’s First Year. It tells the true life story of his first year as an intern at a New York hospital.

Also read Karen Harper’s book The Royal Nanny: A Novel. The time frame is 1890s onward, at Sandringham, when Charlotte Bill (a real person) was hired by the Duke and Duchess of York, to care for their children.

Also read Roger Swindell’s Mendelevski’s Box. It’s an historical novel about the aftermath of WWII in impoverished Amsterdam.

Also read a very quirky non-fiction book: The Perfect Gentleman: The remarkable life of Dr. James Miranda Barry by June Rose. This is a biography about a person who lived in the mid-1800s. He was a surgeon; graduated from Edinburgh Medical School at the age of 14. Joined the British Army as a medical officer then sent off to South Africa and many other tropical outposts during his career.

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. The premise of this book is different . . . a woman writer goes to Scotland to connect with her distant heritage.

Another great read, The Island of Sea Women: A Novel by Lisa See. It’s about Jeju Island off the coast of Korea where the island as a whole is matriarchal because the women were trained from a young age to deep dive, free dive, for mollusks. These women were the breadwinners. Husbands stayed home and cared for the babies. The island is real. The history is real.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford. A novel about the early days of radio in London.

A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler. This book is a novel, but based on the life of Alva Smith Vanderbilt (Belmont). Her family was nearly destitute (and faking it) when a marriage was proposed for her with William Vanderbilt.  You see the inner life of Alva – her day to day busy work, charity work, visiting for afternoon tea, the undercurrent of society’s morals.

Also read In Falling Snow: A Novel, by Mary-Rose McColl. From amazon: Iris, a young Australian nurse, travels to France during World War I to bring home her fifteen-year-old brother, who ran away to enlist. 

Also couldn’t put down The Secret Wife by Gill Paul. A long story that begins in war-torn Russia. Cavalry officer Dmitri falls head over heels in love with one of the daughters of Tzar Nicholas.

Uncommon Woman. A book about Colonial America, but really the western frontier at that time, which is in western Pennsylvania.

My Name Is Resolute by Nancy Turner. She’s the author of another book of some renown, These is my Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 (P.S.). Resolute is what I’m discussing here. It’s fiction, but based some on a true story. Resolute, as a young girl from a privileged life on a plantation in Jamaica, was taken captive by slavers, eventually ended up in Colonial America. This book is the story of her life. The people she met, the men in her life, her children, and always about her indefatigable energy for life. Always hoping to return to Jamaica.

The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks. This is a memoir, so a true story, of a young man growing up in the Lake District of Northern England, the son of a farming family, who sabotages everything in his being regarding going to school and leaves as soon as he is able (probably about 8th grade, I’d guess). And becomes a shepherd. And at night, he read literature that he accumulated from his grandfather. And then what happens to him as he grows up. Riveting.

Moloka’i: A Novel by Alan Brennert. A riveting book about the early days of Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and the stigma attached to the victims AND their families. It chronicles the story of a young woman, diagnosed almost as a child, and ostracized from her family, subsequently learning to live alone and remote.

House by the Fjord by Rosalind Laker. What a darling story. From amazon: A touching and atmospheric love story – When Anna Harvik travels to Norway in 1946 in order to visit the family of her late husband, the country is only just recovering from five cruel years of Nazi occupation.

Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This story, which takes place in a kind of Texas backwater, sets a town into an angry mess when two young boys, one white, one black, become friends, something most folks don’t like. At all. There’s a dog involved, the father of the black boy, the father of the white boy plus a woman who lives in the town and does her best to avoid people altogether. But they all get fused. Wonderful story.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. You might think what a stretch – what does an Indian (Native American) tribe have to do with the FBI. Read and you’ll find out. This is back in time, 50s I think, and a number of murders have taken place on the Osage Reservation. A wake up call, even for today.

Oh wow. Just finished reading David Guterson’s book, East of the Mountains. You know this author from his most well known book, Snow Falling on Cedars. I loved the Cedars book when I read it years ago, and assumed I’d like this other book (not new) as well. Have you learned to trust my judgment when I tell you, you HAVE to read a book? If I tell you the story line, I can already hear you thinking . . . oh no, I don’t want to read this kind of a book. Please trust me. You’ll come away from it being glad you did.

A fabulous read – Catherine Ryan Hyde’s newest book, Have You Seen Luis Velez? Raymond, a youngster, an older teenager, who  lacks self-confidence and feels like an odd duck sometimes, reluctantly (at first) befriends an elderly woman in the apartment building where he lives with his mother and step-father. Sweet story.

Magic Hour: A Novel

Excellent Women

Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) by Min Jin Lee. Everyone should read this one.

An American Marriage (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel by Tayari Jones. DIdn’t like it much, but others do.

Recently finished Sally Field’s memoir (autobiography) called In Pieces.

If you want grit, well, read Kristen Hannah’s newest book, The Great Alone: A Novel.

You’ve got to read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book – Take Me With You. What a story.

 

Tasting Spoons

My blog's namesake - small, old and some very dented engraved silver plated tea spoons that belonged to my mother-in-law, and I use them to taste my food as I'm cooking.

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Posted in Cookies, Desserts, on November 14th, 2020.

gooey_fudge_brownies

A post from Sara . . .

This is my new go-to brownie recipe.  It’s a bit more challenging than the one-bowl recipes but well worth it.  They taste great out of oven (if my kids are home, I usually loose 1/4 of the tray within minutes of removing it from the oven!).  And soooo much better frozen.  They are the true dense, chewy chocolaty taste that I feel brownies should be. The recipe comes from the back of the Rodelle brand cocoa package. It’s been on the back of their product for years and years.

The recipe requires the extra step of melting the butter with sugar to make a syrup.  Then the 5 (that’s right, 5) eggs makes the chewy (and tender) factor.  You can double this recipe easily and bake it in a large sheet pan.  Don’t skip the parchment paper on the bottom for easy removal. The recipe says it makes 12, but I think I cut them smaller, so I get about 18 out of the 9×13 pan.

I’ve been known to modify the recipe by adding these items:

1. melted smooth peanut butter and swirl it in

2. or dulce de leche and swirl it in

3. or stack it on top of a batch of my chocolate chip cookies in bar form.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Gooey Fudge Brownies from Rodelle

Recipe By: Rodelle’s famous recipe
Serving Size: 12 (or 18)

1 cup butter — PLUS 2 tbsp
2 1/4 cups sugar
5 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour — PLUS 1 tablespoon
3/4 cup cocoa powder — PLUS 1 tablespoon
1/4 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped nuts — (optional)

NOTE: If you cut smaller squares, you’ll get more than 12 brownies.
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Line 9×13 pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray.
3. Melt butter and sugar in a heavy saucepan on very low heat. Let the mixture cool slightly and transfer to a large bowl. Add eggs gradually, mixing well. Add vanilla extract.
4. Sift dry ingredients together and add to egg mixture, stirring gently and minimally.
Add chocolate chips and nuts (if using). Pour into prepared pan and bake approximately 35 minutes – do NOT overbake or you’ll lose the fudgy, gooey texture!
5. Cool before cutting. Turn onto a surface and peel parchment paper off. Cut into squares. They are great frozen, just so you know.
Per Serving: 431 Calories; 25g Fat (48.6% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 118mg Cholesterol; 298mg Sodium; 42g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 35mg Calcium; 2mg Iron; 200mg Potassium; 124mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, Desserts, on August 26th, 2020.

whoopie_pies

A post from Sara . . .

Do you remember that childhood treat, the Whoopie Pie?  That hand-held delectably moist chocolate cake with marshmallow buttercream inside?  I recently made this recipe again. I can’t remember when I made it last but whoa, was it good! My kids and their friends who are now in their 20’s ate them within 2 days and I made a double batch! I’ve already been asked to make more. They are an excellent make ahead individual dessert that travels well and freezes easily.

My suggestions while making the cakes:

  • Use a scoop so that the cakes are close in size and shape.  That way they can be matched up easily to make the sandwich-style “pie.”
  • Keep the cake batter chilled, as it tends to spread out if it gets too warm.
  • When assembling the pies I paired the cakes on a cooling rack. Then flip every other row onto its top to expose the flat bottom of the cake for frosting.
  • Use a smaller scoop to add frosting.  It spreads out on its own, no need to use a knife.  I topped each upside down frosted cake with another so that both cake tops were showing.
  • If it’s warm, the top cake will slide.  So once assembled,  immediately refrigerate to solidify the frosting.

Due to COVID, I chose to wrap each pie individually in plastic wrap so the kids could just grab and enjoy.  

The recipe makes 8 pies but they are quite large.  I think using a smaller scoop and making twice as many would be better next time. There is a Wilton 12-Cavity Whoopie Pie Baking Pan available on amazon, but those are the larger (standard) size. If  you decide to make them smaller, just use a cookie sheet. These dessert cookies are very rich and full of flavor so I believe the smaller size is a better choice.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook ** Exported from MasterCook *

Whoopie Pies

Serving Size: 8 (or 16, if you make them half-size)

CAKES:
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsalted butter — softened
1 cup brown sugar — packed
1 large egg
FILLING:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 cups marshmallow cream topping
1 teaspoon vanilla

Notes: Sara’s advice – make smaller cookies, about half as large as indicated, which would give a double yield. These are very rich.
1. Mix flour, cocoa, soda and salt in a bowl.
2. Stir together he buttermilk and vanilla.
3. Beat together sugar and butter in large bowl until mixture is very pale and fluffy.
4. Add egg. Reduce speed, then add buttermilk mixture with flour mixture, alternately, starting and ending with flour.
5. Spoon 1/4 cup batter on greased baking sheet, 2″ apart. Bake in 350°F oven for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
6. FILLING: Mix all ingredients together in electric mixer. Spread 1 large tablespoon of filling onto flat side of cake. Top with a second cake, flat side down. Chill immediately.
Per Serving (for 8 cookies): 695 Calories; 26g Fat (32.7% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 113g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 87mg Cholesterol; 674mg Sodium; 65g Total Sugars; 1mcg Vitamin D; 75mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 300mg Potassium; 137mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, on June 21st, 2020.

sandy_cc_nutbutter_cookies

Yes, chocolate chip, but with a decidedly different texture and flavor profile.

Necessity is the mother of invention. During the time when I was eschewing nearly all carbs, I had collected a lot of recipes, including this one for a GF cookie (although this one I made here is not quite GF). I was all out of my last batch of choc chip cookies, so needed to find something new to try. I wanted to make something that had next to no sugar, and very little if any flour. This recipe came into being. I had almond butter on hand. In little 1 ounce packages. Hmm. But not enough to make 6 tablespoons. But I did have peanut butter, so I combined the two. Neither flavor really prevailed in the finished cookie, which was fine with me. The recipe called for coconut butter (oil), but I used unsalted butter. It also called for coconut sugar. I had some, but decided to use some monkfruit sweetener in addition, so I did half and half. I had the pure blanched almond flour on hand, but I also had some of Trader Joe’s almond meal (which contains some of the almond skin – hence these cookies have a little more dark/speckled look to them. The recipe also called for coconut flour, so that’s when I substituted regular wheat flour, all purpose. It was only 1/3 cup, so hardly any carbs for the whole recipe.

I’ve renamed the recipe because these cookies have a different texture – not exactly like pecan sandies – but they’re similar in texture. So even though they’re chocolate chip, with a hint of peanut butter, they do have a different texture than any chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever made.

sandy_cc_nutbutter_cookies_closeupMixing it up was no trouble – into my stand mixer went the ingredients in a specific order. Refrigerated butter needs nothing more than 10 seconds in my microwave to be softened. No more, no less.

Knowing that I’d veered away from the original recipe with a lot of different ingredients, I wasn’t sure how they would turn out during the baking process, so I baked just two at first, thinking that I could add more flour or something else if it needed it. Once out of the oven they were incredibly soft and tender. They looked done, but when I touched the top of the cookie, it was almost a wet pouf, but once I let them cool  on the sheet first, they were easy to remove from the cookie sheet. And they were fine. Just fine. Better than fine!Next time I’ll add some chopped walnuts, just because I like choc chip cookies with nuts. So you could easily add 1/3 cup of them to this recipe, or not; your choice. You’ll get a yield of a couple more cookies.

What’s GOOD: definitely chocolate chip. Definitely different texture (but good). Like them a lot. I wouldn’t change a thing.

What’s NOT: only if you don’t have almond flour, or almond butter. Easy to make. Can be refrigerated before baking.

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Sandy Chocolate Chip Nut Butter Cookies – nearly GF

Recipe By: Adapted from a paleo blog cookie recipe
Serving Size: 34

6 tablespoons unsalted butter — softened
3/8 cup coconut sugar — or regular sugar, or use more monkfruit
3/8 cup monkfruit sweetener
3 tablespoons almond butter
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup almond meal — or almond flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour — or substitute coconut flour if you want a GF cookie
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped walnuts — optional

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a mixing bowl (stand or hand mixer) combine the softened butter, sugars, almond butter, peanut butter and vanilla. Mix until smooth, about a minute.
3. Beat in egg until combined, then add almond meal and flour and continue beating just until it’s mixed. Add chocolate chips and walnuts (if using) and beat until incorporated.
4. Use parchment paper on cookie sheets to prevent sticking. Using a cookie scoop, place rounded balls of dough on cookie sheets, about 1 1/2″ apart.
5. Bake for 11-13 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine took 12 minutes. Recommend: Bake two cookies first, to see how long they need to bake. They’ll still be very soft when you remove them from the oven. Allow to cool on the cookie sheets, then taste to make sure they’re “done.” Bake remaining cookies. Freeze for long term storage, or eat them within 3 days if left at room temp.
Per Serving: 86 Calories; 7g Fat (63.0% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 12mg Cholesterol; 12mg Sodium; 2g Total Sugars; trace Vitamin D; 23mg Calcium; trace Iron; 63mg Potassium; 42mg Phosphorus.

Posted in Cookies, on April 9th, 2020.

mega_ginger_cookies

This recipe was a winner of some kind of contest. A good reason to try them.

Whenever I input a recipe into my MasterCook software, and it has some kind of special accolades, I usually write it into the title so I can see it easily when I’m scanning through the list of recipes to try. In this case I wrote after cookies – “Sunset winner.” It’s been a few years ago, I think, but this cookie did win something. It might have been for Christmas cookies? I don’t recall. They contain an inordinate amount of crystallized ginger – plus ground ginger – so yes, these really have a ginger pungency. Not overwhelming by any means. I used every bit of crystallized ginger I could find in my pantry, and I’m not even sure I had quite enough. But it was close enough.

The making of the cookies was exceedingly easy – it got mixed up in the food processor – not my normal bowl of choice for making cookies and I will say, I had to remove half of it (I made a double batch) in order for the food processor to mix it sufficiently. Then remove that to do the second half. Then the dough was refrigerated – for me it was overnight. It would be best if you chilled it overnight if you took it out for about 30-45 minutes before trying to roll them in sugar. If the dough is cold, it’s harder to do that part.

mega_ginger_cookies_sheetpanI used my cookie scoop, but with that, I made them smaller than the scoop. I think the double recipe was supposed to make 72. Uhm, no, it didn’t. It made more like 48, but perhaps I made them much bigger. They were supposed to be 1-inch balls. I’m sure mine were a tad bigger than that. I have offered to bake cookies for a memorial service reception – as I write this, it was supposed to take place tomorrow, but with the Covad-19 overwhelming our country, the service has been indefinitely postponed. But I made them now and will just store in the freezer until they’re needed.

The only alteration I would make – and I did make in the recipe attached – was to reduce the amount of sugar. I thought the cookies were overly sweet. So, if you make these, taste the dough (note: the dough has raw egg in it) to see if you think it’s sweet enough with the reduced sugar amount. The original recipe called for 1/3 cup sugar to mix with the ginger, and 1/3 cup sugar mixed with the dough. You could also use 1/4 cup rounded on each measurement. I’ve not included this information in the pdf recipe attached. The difference could be the amount of sugar used in the crystallized ginger. Every product could be different.

What’s GOOD: lots of gingery flavor, crisp. Chewy. Love the craggy, crackled tops. Very sweet. I changed the amount of sugar in the attached recipe – read the above paragraph for more information.

What’s NOT: nary a thing that I can think of, unless you don’t like ginger!

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Mega-Ginger Cookies

Recipe By: Sunset Magazine winning cookie
Serving Size: 36

1/2 cup crystallized ginger — chopped
1/4 cup sugar
COOKIES:
4 1/2 tablespoons butter — at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup molasses
3/4 large egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar — for rolling dough

1. In a food processor (or blender), whirl chopped ginger and sugar until ginger is very finely ground. Pour from container.
2. In the same container, whirl butter and sugar until fluffy.
3. Add ginger mixture, molasses, and egg; pulse to mix.
4. In a bowl, mix flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pulse into butter mixture.
5. Cover dough and chill until firm to the touch, about 1 hour. If chilled overnight, allow to sit at room temp for 30-40 minutes to warm slightly.
6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and coat in remaining sugar (use a little more sugar if needed). Place balls 2 to 3 inches apart on nonstick or oiled baking sheets.
7. Bake until slightly darker brown, 11 to 12 minutes, switching positions of baking sheets halfway through. Cookie tops will be crackled in appearance. They’re very soft when they come out of the oven, so allow to cool slightly, then transfer cookies to racks to cool. Make ahead: Up to one week, stored airtight at room temperature; frozen, up to 4 months.
Per Serving: 60 Calories; 2g Fat (24.1% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 11g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 8mg Cholesterol; 71mg Sodium.

Posted in Cookies, on April 3rd, 2020.

cc_cookies_alice_medrich

Are you really tired of reading another chocolate chip cookie recipe from me? My apologies, but I guess I’ll be forever on the quest for the perfect one.

I’m assuming most of you are on house arrest, aka shelter-in-place like I am. Social Distancing. What a phrase – we’ll remember that word forever, won’t we? As I write this, I’m on day 17 of being at home all day, all night, with not a single trip out of my driveway. In many ways, I’m lucky – I live in a big house, and I use most of the rooms  – living room for my phone calls on my cell – dining room table for a project now and then – kitchen all the time because I’m cooking a lot more than usual – my kitchen dining table is where I eat most of my meals – and my family room with TV (on from about 8am to 8 pm every day) and the gas fireplace nearby. Master bedroom of course, my big bath and dressing room area gets daily use, and my very comfortable library/study up there where I watch TV in the  evenings.

My report? I’m fine – feeling fine, no symptoms. My next door neighbor, Josee, has been a lifesaver for me – she goes shopping for me about once a week or every other week. The high school kids at my church are also available for shopping – all I have to do is send a list, put out some cash and shopping bags and they bring it back an hour later. I stay busy enough, I guess. I do watch the TV more than usual – tuned into news most of the hours, then in the late evening I go upstairs to my comfy study and start watching some of my recorded shows that take my mind off coronavirus. Have you seen this picture?

Screen Shot 2020-03-30 at 1.49.08 PM

That’s my neighbor’s very well-trained standard Doberman. I was sent a similar picture of a little Chihuahua with similar wording but had an acronym on the photo that wasn’t nice language – I sent it to my neighbor and she took a picture of Batman and added the same lingo but with the word “heck” instead of the f word.

Anyway, I belly-laughed so hard over this picture. Laughing is good for us, you know?

In my normal life I’m so busy I rarely have enough time to read or go up to my studio (an unused room in my house at the moment) to draw or paint. Reading I’m doing (see sidebar on my web page for what I’ve read recently). Cooking, I’m doing. But most everything else has fallen by the wayside. Have I cleaned my house? Nope. I’ve paid the two women who come clean my house for me, but I told them not to come in. I’ll do that again next week when they’d be due to come again. And I’ll pay them anyway as I know they need the money. I can’t seem to concentrate on doing other things. A couple of days earlier this week we had really beautiful weather here in Orange County and I went outside and sat in my nice outdoor furniture, under the umbrella and read for awhile, always conscious of the fresh air, the birds singing and the butterflies flitting.

What I crave is comfort food. What I really want is a pasta casserole (haven’t made one). Or things like mashed potatoes (haven’t done that either). Soup has been a mainstay on my table and you’ll have another recipe up soon – a delicious creamy chicken poblano chile from Joanna Gaines. Delicious. Most nights I have a big green salad. My neighbor is bringing me fresh salmon today from her shopping run, so I’ll have that with some fresh asparagus tonight.

Comfort food: [from wikipedia] The term comfort food has been traced back at least to 1966, when the Palm Beach Post used it in a story: “Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to what could be called ‘comfort food’—food associated with the security of childhood, like mother’s poached egg or famous chicken soup.”

I can’t say that I turn my mind to poached eggs. Or chicken soup either as my mother didn’t make chicken soup (my dad wouldn’t eat chicken). It might be better for me if I indulged in pasta or potatoes – rather than chocolate chip cookies! I don’t know about you, but I have a favorite brand of chocolate chips. I grew up on Nestlé’s semisweet, but oh no, since the advent of dark chocolate chips, I’m all over those, and Ghiradelli Bittersweet are my favorite. They’re very hard to find these days – have you noticed? I even considered ordering a 25 pound bag from amazon, but it was semisweet and I want bittersweet. So I’m figuring that lots of other households are baking chocolate chip cookies just like I am. My neighbor took a photo of the shelf at the grocery store – empty of Ghiradelli’s bittersweet. Sigh. So, since I’m nearly out of them in my own pantry, I dug into my chocolate stash and found a bag of Callibaut very bitter chocolate chips. They’re fine – I like them. So I’ll certainly have a couple more recipes’ worth before I’m desperate for Ghiradelli. Now that I’ve alerted my neighbor to look for them, she’ll probably hunt for them whenever she’s shopping.

cc_cookies_dough_aliceTurning to a cookbook I’ve had for awhile (I think I bought it just before Dave passed away) I found several cc cookie recipes that would suffice, but this one, Alice Medrich’s favorite, seemed to leap off the page. When I began I didn’t realize how different the batter/dough would be. This recipe uses melted butter  – certainly a variant that was not something I’ve ever done for cc cookies. The butter is combined with the regular and brown sugars, eggs, then the dry ingredients. The dough has a totally different look – it’s wet. See photo. I’m not sure you can tell from the photo  – it really does LOOK wet, although the dough is handle-able and pliable. It’s not sticky in the least.

The only other variant was that it recommended at least an hour or two of chilling (even overnight if time permitted). I did an hour. Then used my scoop for 1-tablespoon sized mounds. My baking sheets don’t require foil or parchment – they baked up perfectly.

What’s GOOD: gee, I really like these cc cookies. I want to try them with Ghiradelli, but other than that, they’re a perfect complement to a hot cup of coffee or tea. Or a mid-afternoon snack.

What’s NOT: nothing really. My problem is that I know they’re in the freezer . . . .

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Chocolate Chip Cookies Alice Medrich

Recipe: From Alice Medrich’s cookbook: Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy
Serving Size: 60 (I got about 54)

10 1/8 ounces all purpose flour — about 2 cups
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces unsalted butter — melted, cooled slightly
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts — chopped, or pecans

1. Melt butter and set aside to cool for 2-3 minutes.
2. Combine in a bowl the flour and baking soda. Stir well and break up any lumps.
3. In a bowl combine the melted butter with sugars, vanilla and salt. Mix in the eggs. Stir in flour mixture just until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in chips and walnuts. [This dough looks WET – very different than usual because of the melted butter used – see photo.] Chill dough for at least an hour, or overnight. If chilling overnight, let the bowl sit out at room temp for 20-30 minutes to warm up slightly.
4. Preheat oven to 375°F. Scoop dough into 1-tablespoon mounds and place on greased or foil lined cookie sheets. Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes, rotating pans and switching them halfway through. Cookies should be golden brown on the edges, and no longer look wet on top. Remove pans from oven and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes until cookies “set.” Remove to rack to cool completely. They will keep at room temp for several days if stored in an airtight container. Otherwise, freeze them.
NOTES: you may substitute raisins for chocolate chips. Also, you may remove chocolate chips and use only pecans (double the quantity). This latter is one of Alice’s favorite variations.
Per Serving: 115 Calories; 7g Fat (49.4% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 15mg Cholesterol; 61mg Sodium.

Posted in Cookies, on January 28th, 2020.

thin_crispy_cc_cookies_stack

One might think these aren’t mixed or baked correctly. They are, actually. They’re supposed to look like that, and act like that when these hit the hot oven.

Really, I think I was pussy-footing around about cookies – when I made and posted the chocolate log/biscotti last week. What I really wanted to make was choc chip cookies, but I was trying to convince myself not to. Since they’re not all that good for us – butter, chocolate, sugar, etc. And my problem is that if they’re available – meaning they’re IN my freezer – I want to enjoy one every day. And I shouldn’t. None of us should. But then, David Lebovitz posted a new chocolate chip recipe, and I got sucked down that vortex of I want – I want – I want. So I gave in and made these.

The recipe originated with Joanne Chang, a chef/baker of renown (her bakery, Flour, in Boston). She’s written a bunch of cookbooks. She’s slender/thin (how does she DO that and own/run a bakery and develop recipes?). Anyway, I think this recipe came from her most recently published cookbook. David Lebovitz adapted it slightly (reducing the amount of flour in it) and posted it on his website.

thin_crispy_cc_cookies_topWhat’s different about these? You have to use superfine sugar (I whizzed up regular sugar in the food processor). You have to whip up the butter and sugars until they’re really light and fluffy. It gives these cookies a totally different batter-feel. And when they pop in the oven they spread a lot. So the baking sheet can only hold six to seven of them at a time. But then, this recipe only makes 25 cookies. The cookies that David Lebovitz made were even thinner than mine – and even more slumped than mine – slumped with little whorls of ridges. There’s another recipe here on my blog that has very thin, slumped chocolate chip cookies and I don’t really understand how the chemistry works that way – it can’t be just the lesser amount of flour.

But thin, chocolate chip cookies it is and I loved them. Hard to make? – no. Much the same ingredients as every other chocolate chip cookie out there with a mix of white and brown sugar, vanilla, egg, flour, in this case, baking soda not powder, and chocolate chips and little bit of water. There are nuances of that chemistry – far be it from me to understand it. For the last half of the cookies I added some very finely chopped walnuts. I know, blasphemy for some. I like them with nuts in them. This recipe has less flour in it than Joanne Chang’s original recipe, per David L.

These will be going into the freezer and I’ll hope to eat only one. A day. And savor every bite.

What’s GOOD: the thin, crispy texture, for sure. That’s what these cookies are all about. If you like soft, cakey cookies, skip by this recipe. Thin, chewy a little bit, all about the mouth-feel of the caramelization of the dark brown sugar. And then the chips. Use good chips, not Nestle’s. They recommended Guittard. I used Ghirardelli dark chocolate. In sum, though, I think I like my other iteration of these thin, slumped cookies better that did slump and have whorls. These cookies definitely have dark brown sugar caramelization going on in the cookie itself, just so you know.

What’s NOT: nothing at all. These are really delicious.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Thin, Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe By: David Lebovitz from Joanne Chang
Serving Size: 25

8 ounces unsalted butter — (225g) at room temperature
1 cup superfine sugar — (200g) (see headnote)
1/2 cup light brown sugar — (100g) firmly-packed
1 large egg — at room temperature
3 tablespoons water — (45g)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour — (245g)
1 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt — or kosher salt, or if using Morton’s kosher salt, use 3/4 teaspoon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate — (280g, 10 ounces) or semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand with a wooden spoon or spatula in a bowl, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and creamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, reaching down to the bottom of the mixer bowl. Beat in the egg, WATER, and vanilla.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the chocolate chips, and toss in the flour mixture. With the mixer on low speed, stir in the flour and chocolate chip mixture until thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl (or transfer to a smaller container, and cover) and refrigerate the dough at least 3 to 4 hours, or overnight.
4. To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line two baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the dough, formed in 1 1/4-inch (1/4 cup, 45g) balls on the baking sheet, spaced at least 3-inches (8cm) apart. (They will spread, so expect to get 5 or 6 on a standard baking sheet.) Press the cookies down slightly (use a bit of water on your hand as the batter is very wet and sticky) with your hand and bake until the cookies have spread and just until there are no light patches across the center, rotating the baking sheet(s) midway during baking so they bake evenly. They’ll take about 13-14 minutes, but best to check the cookies a few minutes before and use the visual clues, rather than adhere to strict baking time, to get them just right.
5. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.
Per Serving: 132 Calories; 6g Fat (35.6% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 21g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 8mg Cholesterol; 157mg Sodium.

Posted in Cookies, on January 22nd, 2020.

almond_cocoa_logs_stacked

Chocolate cookies. Yes. But not exactly. Hard to describe. Maybe Biscotti is a better name.

Laughing at myself. I’ve finally gone off this restrictive diet and after having a couple of old dinner favorites (already posted here) I settled back into a fairly low-carb regime with an occasional sweet or treat. I was craving a cookie, and after going through my huge to-try file, I settled on these things. It’s a recipe that’s been in the file for years, I believe. These cookies – not exactly biscotti, because they’re not double baked liked biscotti, or cookies either, because they’re sliced on the diagonal (kind of like biscotti would be) are different. Kind of hard to describe, as I said above. You could call them chocolate rocks. Or biscotti. Or chocolate sliced cookies. Any name would work.

almond_cocoa_logs_cuttingThe dough contains no butter or traditional fat – the only fat comes from the nearly one pound of chocolate in the batter. That’s enough, although I’ll tell you, the dough is not very easy to man-handle. It’s a very dry dough (eggs, espresso, cocoa, vanilla, leavening, flour, sugar, fresh orange zest, and a hefty amount of cinnamon and ground cloves). At the end you add in some nuts (hazelnuts and/or almonds). I ended up removing half the dough and just mixing half at a time. Overworking the dough would make for a very tough cookie. The dough – almost the consistency of firm bread dough  – is sectioned into 4 pieces, then rolled into short logs. Because of the chocolate pieces in it and the nuts, it makes for some difficult handling, I’ll tell you. The rolls don’t want to roll very well. Or as you roll one, a drier spot appears (more nuts, for instance) and then the roll falls apart. I ended up adding a bit more espresso to the mixture to help hold it all together. The original recipe, from Susan Herrmann Loomis almond_cocoa_logs_tobakeis called Almond Cocoa Cookies. Maybe they came from one of her cookbooks as I don’t find the recipe on her website.

You can see from the above picture – the rolled  up log at the top and then the cut (raw) cookie dough below. Onto a cookie sheet they went (mine are ridged, so nothing sticks) although the recipe suggested parchment be used.

They’re baked at 375°F for somewhere between 15-20 minutes. Susan indicated at 15 minutes they’re still quite soft and cakey, and with 5 more minutes baking they’re then firm. I baked mine for 17 minutes and they were firm enough, although my oven runs a bit hot so that may be why. They cooled easily enough and Susan says they keep for a couple of weeks at room temp. I’ll be freezing mine, just because I always do. But as firm as they are, I may truly want to defrost them before eating. Don’t want to break a tooth.

MY CHANGES: I reduced the amount of ground cloves and that was a good thing. Clove flavor goes a loooong way, in my book. She used a full tablespoon. I also didn’t get as many cookies as Susan did. I may have added a little bit more espresso to the mixture just to get it to hold together. I also used half sugar and half Swerve, and used 1 3/4 cups total, not 2 cups. It made for a slightly less-sweet cookie. I also didn’t have vanilla sugar – I just added in a slightly large quantity of liquid vanilla. The original recipe called for 8 ounces of almonds AND 8 ounces of hazelnuts. There is simply no way the dough could absorb that much nuts. I didn’t have hazelnuts on hand so just added almonds and only about 5 ounces.

What’s GOOD: well, they’re different. Different texture (firm to the tooth) and flavor (lots of ground clove flavor comes through). Yes, chocolate too. Although there is all that bar chocolate in it, these don’t taste decadent. I think, overall, I prefer the easy chocolate biscotti recipe I have here on my blog already, but then it’s truly a biscotti (easy one, though). Later note: I enjoyed one of these with my morning coffee and have decided they really are more like biscotti. They’re not hard crunchy (break your tooth kind of crunchy), but more like a firm but dry cookie. The coffee flavor came through and the ground clove flavor has tamed down a bit. Do note the low calorie and fat – even with a pound of chocolate, I’m pleased at the statistics.

What’s NOT: only the difficulty rolling the logs. The dry parts of the cookies (the nuts, chopped chocolate and the dry ingredients in general) make it hard to combine. Cutting them into their log shapes was okay – if you have any larger pieces of chocolate in them, it may make for difficult slicing. Other than that, nothing is hard to do. They’d be good dunked in coffee which is probably what I’ll do tomorrow morning.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Almond Chocolate Biscotti Cookies

Recipe By: Adapted slightly from Susan Herrmann Loomis, 2015
Serving Size: 50

4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch sea salt
16 ounces bittersweet chocolate — preferably Lindt brand
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups vanilla sugar
The minced zest of one orange — preferably organic
3/4 cup espresso coffee — or very strong coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 ounces almonds — lightly toasted, or hazelnuts, or a combination or both

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powders, cloves, cinnamon, and salt together onto a piece of waxed paper.
3. Chop the chocolate into chips the size of a pea. The pieces will be uneven – don’t worry.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and the sugar and whip until the mixture is pale yellow and light. Mix in the orange zest, 1/2 cup of the coffee, and the vanilla. Then add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly but JUST until combined. If the mixture is very dry, add the remaining coffee – the dough should be somewhat sticky; it will also be very firm. Add the almonds and the chocolate and mix until combined. NOTE: If the mixture stresses your stand mixer, remove half of the dough and set aside and add half the nuts and chocolate. Remove it, then combine the 2nd batch of dough with the nuts and chocolate.
5. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Cover three of them with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. Lightly flour your hands and roll the fourth piece on a floured work surface to form a log that measures 14 x 1-1/2-inches.[I couldn’t get rolls that long no matter how hard I tried.] Roll over the log with a rolling pin to slightly flatten it, then cut the log diagonally into 1/2-inch thick strips. Transfer the strips to one of the prepared baking sheets, placing them 1/2-inch apart. Repeat with the remaining dough.
6. Bake the cookies in the center of the oven until they are puffed and look dry, 15 to 20 minutes. (When they have baked for 15 minutes, the cookies will have a somewhat cakey texture; during the last 5 minutes of baking they will harden like biscotti). Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. They will keep for several weeks.
Per Serving: 135 Calories; 7g Fat (41.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 18g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 8mg Cholesterol; 37mg Sodium.

Posted in Cookies, on December 1st, 2019.

lemon_ricotta_cookies

Soft, flavorful lemony cookies. With a lemon glaze.

At Phillis Carey’s cooking classes, she always serves some kind of dessert. Even if dessert isn’t the focus of the class. At this particular class she made these cookies. Sorry to say, I didn’t eat them, but my friend Cherrie did, and pronounced them delicious. Kind of like cake, she said, but not. She mentioned the lemon flavor in the glaze added a lot. These cookies aren’t overly sweet, just so you know.

Oh, and I mentioned having eaten a cheesecake made in the instant pot? Here’s the link to it. I’m not going to write up a post about it because I haven’t made any cheesecake in the IP yet. The Bloomingdale’s chef had found the recipe online:

Instant-Pot Oreo Cheesecake from My Baking Addiction (blog).

The cookie recipe came from Giada, by the way.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

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Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

Recipe By: Phillis Carey class, but originally from Giada
Serving Size: 44

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter — softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon — zested
Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon — zested

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Cookies: In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.
4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
5. Glaze: Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container, using waxed paper in between layers of cookies.
Per Serving: 110 Calories; 3g Fat (25.1% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 19g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 18mg Cholesterol; 68mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

Posted in Cookies, Desserts, Gundry-friendly, on October 6th, 2019.

gf_almond_brownies

Decadent tasting, full of chocolate, chocolate chips and chopped almonds. AND gluten free.

Last week I had a new friend come to visit for a few hours. She’s a Type 1 diabetic (like my DH was) and she does her best to avoid carbs. I introduced her to chaffles (you can google it – it’s quite a phenom in the low carb world). My chaffle is not really one made with cheese (that what the ch means in the name, the affle means it’s made in a little Sur La Table Dash Mini Waffle Maker waffle iron which makes one waffle round). Mine was made of egg and a tetch of almond flour, a tablespoon of mayo, baking powder and water. I doubt many of you would be interested in any of this, but they make a great substitute for bread. Put two together and you have a sandwich. If you’re interested in the recipe, click that link.

Anyway, when I pulled out my bag of Costco’s Kirkland almond flour to demonstrate how easy it is to make a sandwich chaffle, my friend Vicki asked if I’d tried the almond brownie recipe on the back of the bag. Nope, had not. But it got my taste buds hankering for brownies.

Daughter Sara and her husband were here this weekend so I had a reason to make these brownies. I did use Hershey’s cocoa powder extra dark – so the resulting brownies were really dark/black. Regular cocoa powder might not make them so dark colored. Me? I’m all into the intense flavor. But, if I’d made them for myself, I’d have eaten them all – myself. Not good. Even though they’re GF, and not too high in fat, they’re still calories. As I’m writing this, there are just 4 left. Maybe I’ll freeze them so I can dole them out to myself slowly. We’ll see how THAT goes! I cut them into small squares – I think I got more than 16 out of the 8×8 pan. But you can cut them any size you want.

Because I loved them. And I know my cousin Gary, who loves carbs and chocolate, but is GF, will love these too. He’s not much of a baker, so I’ll make a batch for him when he comes to visit next month. I mixed these up in a bowl with my hand mixer and they baked for about 30+ minutes. Once cooled, these were still quite wet/sticky, but by this morning they were perfect for picking up in hand and didn’t fall apart. I forgot to put more almonds on top. Made no never-mind in the end. These are delicious. I did use some sugar (not supposed to have any sugar, but I used half and half with artificial sugar). I think next time I’ll use a little less sugar and Swerve – I think they’re quite sweet.

What’s GOOD: the intense chocolate flavor. Love that I can have a brownie recipe that satisfies my desire for something brownie-like. The longer I’m on a no-flour diet, I realize how much white flour is used in everyday cooking, and how incredibly versatile it is. AND how important it is to making baked goods have the texture they do. Can’t get that with any of the substitute flours out there. Anyway, I loved these and will most definitely be making them again.

What’s NOT: nothing really – you do need almond flour. Trader Joe’s brand does have the skins in with the flour in their bag (which I can’t have on this diet – lectins live in the skins of almonds, amongst hundreds of other places in various foods). Kirkland’s is ground up blanched almonds. That’s what I buy now and keep it in the freezer to store it so it stays fresher, longer. What these don’t have if a ton of chewiness – they’re quite tender and soft. You won’t get chew from almond flour, I guess.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file – click link to open recipe

* Exported from MasterCook *

Gluten-Free Chocolate Almond Brownies

Recipe By: adapted slightly from Kirkland brand almond flour package
Serving Size: 16

2 tablespoons butter — softened
1/4 cup Swerve — or other artificial sweetener
1/4 cup sugar — or use all artificial
1 egg
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk — or whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup almonds — chopped
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
More almonds for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Cream together butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl. Blend in egg. Blend in almond milk and vanilla.
3. In another bowl, whisk together almond flour, cocoa powder, sea salt and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and blend just until mixed. Stir in chopped almonds and chocolate chips.
4. Coat an 8 X 8 baking pan with non-sticking cooking spray. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving. They’re better if allowed to cool well (like overnight). Right out of the oven they may be quite wet and sticky, hard to hold together.
5. Garnish with more chopped almonds or with sliced almonds, toasted. Goes well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Per Serving: 98 Calories; 6g Fat (42.3% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 17mg Cholesterol; 66mg Sodium.

Posted in Cookies, on January 3rd, 2019.

prize_winning_coconut_caramel_bars

A recipe from Sara – a delicious bar she’s made a couple of times in the last few weeks and everybody just LOVED them.

So, Sara hasn’t yet learned how to post recipes, so I’m doing it for her, for the moment. She’s going to come visit me sometime soon and she’ll learn, get it down pat, then she can post recipes and the write-ups herself, from home. . . carolyn

Sara says: these were an easy-fix to take to a party, to serve to friends, especially with a cup of coffee in hand, or to provide for a kids’ event. These are sweet and chewy, and chocolaty. I love to make recipes like this because they are fast, easy to cut and pretty to display on a tray.

In reading the original recipe at King Arthur Flour, I found several complaints, and one in particular about the addition of the caramel layer (it worked for some and didn’t for many who tried it), SO, I made some adjustments.

In the original recipe, people complained about getting them out of the pan – so I added the step of lining the pan with parchment; the recipe didn’t say light or dark brown sugar, so I chose dark; I prefer dark chocolate chips, but you can use semisweet, or even milk chocolate if that’s your preference; and the biggest change . . . I’ve started using canned dulce de leche for all of the recipes I make that call for baking the caramel. It’s just easier, period. And I’ve never had a failure. These cookies are very sweet, so a little bit goes a long ways – hence I cut them in 1-inch cubes. That’s truly enough!

What’s GOOD: this recipe is a definite keeper for me. All my friends enjoyed them and my kids went nuts over them. They’d be easy to ship to my daughter away at college (cookies = love from mom). I loved the sweetness of the caramel and the robust flavor of dark chocolate. These are easily frozen and brought out for unexpected guests.

What’s NOT: nothing except incorporating the changes I made to the recipe – all for flavor or for ease.

printer-friendly PDF and MasterCook 15/16 file (click link to open recipe)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Grand Prize Coconut-Caramel Bars

Recipe By: Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Serving Size: 90

2 cups sweetened coconut flakes — toasted, reserving 1/2 cup for topping
1/2 cup butter — softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar — packed
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 can dulce de leche
2 cups dark chocolate chips

1. Toast coconut in 9×13 glass baking dish in a preheated 300°F oven, for 18-20 minutes. Stir coconut halfway through and watch carefully as it may burn quickly. Remove coconut and set aside to cool.
2. Line the same 9×13 dish with parchment paper that is higher than the pan edges.
3. Increase oven temp to 350°F.
4. In a large bowl beat butter, brown sugar, vanilla and egg. Mix in flour, salt, baking powder and 1 1/2 cups of the coconut.
5. Spread mixture into prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes. Just before the 15 minutes are up, put the entire contents of the dulce de leche in a glass measuring cup and heat in microwave in 20-30 second intervals until pourable. [It took me 90 seconds.] Remove crust from oven, pour caramel on top and smooth to all edges. Return to oven to continue baking for 10-13 minutes. Caramel will bubble up. Remove from oven. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of hot caramel. Let stand about 5 minutes for the chips to melt. Spread evenly over top of bars, then sprinkle with the reserved toasted coconut. Set aside to cool completely.
6. Using the parchment paper “handles” lift the bars out of the pan and set on cutting board. Cut into 1″x1″ bars.
Per Serving: 62 Calories; 3g Fat (42.6% calories from fat); 1g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 5mg Cholesterol; 32mg Sodium.

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