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Flourless Fudge Cookies

Hanging out with friends while they indulge in sweet treats can be a bummer if you stick to a special diet. This is the concern a recent client brought to me. She and some friends were headed to ConCarolinas and a member of the group was gluten free and felt as though she was missing out. The idea my client had was to create a con care package of gluten free treats that hit that sweet spot. A con care package has to meet a few criteria: the treats should not melt easily, they need to travel well, be easy to eat on the go, and stay fresh for longer than a day.

Convention treats
Ready to hit the cons!

After kicking around a few ideas, we landed on some flourless fudge cookies. Half of the cookies were chocolate chocolate chip and the other half were chocolate chocolate chip with raspberries. There are a few great things about the right flourless fudge cookie recipe: 1. it really hits the sweet spot, 2. it satisfies chocolate cravings in the best way, 3. it can easily be made dairy free by using dairy free chocolate chips or using mix-ins other than chips!

King Arthur Flour is a great place to start for gluten free recipes and gluten free ingredients. The base recipe I started with comes from their site. I highly recommend checking out their link for the recipe, their blog post for lots of tips and tricks, and the comments sections to see what others have done in making this recipe. Another big plus about using recipes from King Arthur Flour is that you can select whether you want to bake by volume, ounces, or grams, and the site automatically updates the amounts for you!

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Flourless Fudge Cookies (gluten free, can be made dairy free)

9 ounces (2 1/4 cups) confectioners sugar
3 ounces (1 cup) cocoa powder
3 3/4 ounces (3 large) egg whites (it is helpful to have an extra egg white or two on hand)
2 tsp vanilla extract
8-12 ounces (2 cups) chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and/or chopped dried fruit (my batch used far fewer mix-ins than the recipe called for)

Lightly grease two baking sheets or line with parchment paper and grease parchment (you want the surface to be as non-stick as possible).

Whisk together egg whites and vanilla (I used the whisk attachment in the stand mixer and walked away for a second, resulting in starting a meringue…whoops! If this happens, add an extra egg white to help get the mixture wet again.)

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (powdered sugar and cocoa powder). Stir in the wet ingredients. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir again until smooth. The sticky batter will be the consistency of thick syrup. If the recipe appears too dry and not syrupy, then add another egg white.

Mix in chips (I used mini semi-sweet chips), nuts, and/or fruit. I split my batter in half after adding the chips and added chopped, freeze dried raspberries to one half. The raspberries and chocolate smelled amazing!

Drop the syrupy batter onto the prepared baking sheets in 3″ circles (for large) or 1 3/4″ – 2″ circles (for small). A Tbsp or tsp cookie scoop works well here, respectively.

Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F.

Bake the cookies for 7 mins (smaller) or 8-9 mins (larger) They should spread slightly, become somewhat shiny, and develop faintly crackled tops. Note: large cookies with chips or nuts need to bake for 10 mins.

Remove from oven and allow them to cool on the pan. While nearly cooled, use a spatula to carefully loosen them from the pan. The cookies can also be peeled carefully from the parchment paper.

 

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Causal Confections Kids (CCK) – Chocolate Chip Cookie Halloween Cake

Baking with kids can be a lot of fun and very educational. It can also be a test in patience for the head baker. Finding the right terms and ways to explain measuring ingredients, why things need to be mixed a certain way, and what happens in the oven can be a challenge, but it is a great mental exercise and kids are typically fascinated to learn how things work. The absolute best part of baking with kids is seeing the look of pride, surprise, and satisfaction on their faces when they get to eat what they created.

This past week, a 3.5-year-old designed a cake with me. It started with a simple question: “Do you want to bake cookies this weekend?” After excitedly answering “yes,” I asked which type of cookie he wanted to bake. It was no surprise it was chocolate chip. They are his favorite to make. It escalated quickly from there. When all was said and done, the final design ended up being a devil’s food cake with orange-colored icing that has pieces of chocolate chip cookies in it. It typically takes me no time to whip each of these parts together, so I figured it would take a few hours, tops.

We compiled our grocery list and went to the store to get what we needed. We talked about why we were getting the smaller bag of sugar instead of the larger bag of sugar (storage), why we didn’t need marshmallows for this bake (any excuse to eat marshmallows is a good one), and the ways we need to be careful when handling a carton of eggs. After getting back to the kitchen, we prepped our ingredients, set out our tools, and selected our aprons (having at least two kid-size aprons around is great as it gives them a choice and they get to dress like you do in the kitchen). After selecting his apron, the young baker got a quick introduction on how to tie it around his waist. It will take some practice, but he loved seeing how easy it could be to tie something.

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We did this bake in three parts.

Part 1 – Chocolate Chip Cookies (soft batch recipe)

Chocolate chip cookies are a great first-bake for kids. The ingredients are easy and safe to work with, it’s more than four steps, and, for most kids, it’s a treat they love to eat. Flour and sugar are easy for kids to use to measure out ingredients and are easy to clean up if it results in a mess. While putting the dry ingredients together, it’s easy to talk to the young baker about ingredients that are safe to taste and ones that are not. For example, cookie dough that is just butter and sugars mixed together is safe to taste. Once the flour and/or eggs are added, however, the dough is not safe to taste. The flour and eggs can be unsafe to eat before they are baked or cooked. Speaking of safe to taste, a tradition I have when baking chocolate chip cookies with anyone is to pour out a few chips to eat before we dump the bag into the dough. It’s a special treat since the baker has not had a chance to sample anything in a bit while the dough was coming together and it’s a few small bites of chocolate. Yum!

This junior baker did everything for the cookies except for cracking the eggs (he decided it was too messy for him to do that day) and dealing with the oven (he’s not quite tall enough or his arms long enough to do that, yet).

For most cookies, and especially the soft batch, it’s a good idea to roll the dough into balls or mounds for them to bake properly. Some kids, however, struggle to roll a ball between their hands when they’re younger. This young baker decided that he was going to roll logs instead of balls. We did one full tray of logs and one full tray of balls so that we could gauge the baking time for the logs and have everything cook evenly. When we took the tray of logs out of the oven, we were excited to find that the logs had baked down to perfect dipping bars!

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Chocolate chip cookie logs or dipping bars

While the cookies cooled on our cooling racks, we did a quick clean up of the area and of the tools we’d need to use for our cake. At this point, the junior baker needed a break.

After a break watching some videos on his iPad and having lunch, we got back to work on part 2.

Part 2 – Devil’s food cake

For this bake, we kept it simple. We grabbed a box of Duncan Hines mix and doctored it. Doctoring a box cake mix can range from very simple to more complex. I like to keep it simple. Use the same measurements that are on the box but use milk in place of water and use butter in place of oil. Typically, I melt the butter to add to the mix, but this time, I tried creaming the butter first and then adding the other ingredients to the butter. Making a cake using a box mix is another great first-bake for kids, though it can be disappointing as there aren’t too many steps and it’s over quickly.

We poured our batter into two 9″ rounds greased with Baker’s Joy (this is my favorite non-stick baking tool outside of parchment paper). Once baked, we let the cakes cool in the pans before flipping them out onto the cooling racks.

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Two 9-inch rounds of devil’s food cake.

After another round of clean up and preparing tools and ingredients, it was time for the junior baker to take a good long break and for me to make the buttercream. This junior baker does not enjoy American buttercream as it is too sweet, so for him to really enjoy his creation, we decided to go with Italian meringue buttercream (IMBC). It’s less sweet, very creamy, and is easy to work with. Since the IMBC is basically boiling a syrup and whipping egg whites, there wasn’t much for this junior chef to help out with at this stage.

Part 3 – Italian Meringue Buttercream

For this cake, I halved the recipe I used in the pull apart cupcake cake (link above). It ended up being a nearly perfect portion! After adding the butter to the mixture, my buttercream wasn’t coming together. Having made this several times now, I was a big confused and just kept whipping. It took about 10 minutes for me to realize that I had only prepared and added half the amount of butter I needed! I quickly grab a stick from the fridge, throw it on a plate, and send it spinning in the microwave for a couple of 10-second rounds to soften it. After adding the second stick of butter, the buttercream came together quickly and beautifully! Phew!

A few years ago, a dear family member had given me a set of measuring spoons that included a pinch, a smidgen, a dash, etc. They’re an amusing gift for most but are extremely useful in my kitchen! For IMBC, I use these to measure out and add gel food coloring.

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Measuring spoons for smaller measures.

The junior baker wanted the buttercream to be orange. I did not have orange color (on purpose) and asked him which two colors we could combine to make orange. This is an easy way to work color lessons into baking. As he excitedly stated “yellow and red,” we grabbed the correct bottles of gel coloring and decided which order to add them to the buttercream. Once the colors were added, we set the mixer to run and watched as the yellow and red streaks started to combine into a light orange. Bouncing up and down with excitement, the junior baker proclaimed the color to be perfect so we stopped the mixer and grabbed our cookies. This was the moment the junior baker was waiting for. We crumbled the cookies into the buttercream. As we crumbled, we talked about the differences in adding big pieces vs. smaller pieces vs. crumbs. He decided for chunks instead of pieces. We added 3-4 cookie logs to the batter and folded the chunks into the buttercream.

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Orange-colored IMBC with chocolate chip cookie chunks.

Now for the new challenge, spreading the buttercream with large cookie chunks across the cake without ripping up the cake. Junior baker did a great job of spreading and our cake handled it very well.

Once the cake was iced, it was time to enjoy!

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Sliced chocolate chip cookie Halloween cake

We asked the junior baker what he was going to call his cake. He proudly proclaimed “Chocolate chip cookie Halloween cake because it’s orange and black!” and so the dessert earned its name.

The cookie chunks ended up working really well with the icing and the cake for flavor and crunch. The bake ended up taking us all day instead of the few hours I itiniall thought but it was well worth it. This cake design was definitely a success and the junior baker has told everybody who would listen, including a very nice lady at the deli counter in the grocery store, about the cake he designed and baked.

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Brookies

Brookies, or brownie cookies, are always a nice treat. You get to enjoy the flavor of a chocolate cookie and a chocolate chip cookie at the same time. What’s not to like? For this bake, I gave this recipe by Mel’s Kitchen Cafe a spin. I really like how this recipe includes the weights for the dough balls to give you a starting point for proportions. After I saw how the first sheets came out, I started making some cookies with a larger percentage of chocolate chip relative to brownie as an experiment. You really can’t go wrong here. You can make these cookies as balanced or imbalanced as you’d like. The only tweak I’m making the next time I make these is to leave out the salt, but that’s due to personal preference. Give this recipe a go and make a fun treat chocolate-lovers will enjoy!
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Brookies

Brownie cookie ingredients:
10 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup (5 oz) lightly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup (5 oz) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups + 3 Tbsp (7.25 oz) flour
1 cup (1.5 oz) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda

Chocolate chip cookie ingredients:
10 Tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup (5 oz) light brown sugar
2/3 cup (5 oz) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups + 2 Tbsp (10.75 oz) flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Sweet aside.

Brownie cookie batter:
I’m a medium bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together until smooth and creamy (around 1-2 mins). Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla and beat the mixture for 2-3 mins until light in color.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix until combined. Cover and refrigerate while making the chocolate chip cookie batter.

Chocolate chip cookie batter:
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until smooth (about 1-2 mins). Blend in the egg, yolk, and vanilla, mixing for 2-3 mins until the batter is very light in color.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the batter with the chocolate chips and mix until no dry streaks remain and the chocolate chips are evenly distributed.

Both:
Pull out dough to make smallish balls. Use a 0.5 oz ball of brownie batter and a 0.65 ball of chocolate chip batter. Press the two balls together and use your hands to shape the cookie by flattening and turning it to smooth out the edges, forming a flattish but thick shape. Continue until all of the batter is used. Place the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them out to allow for some spreading during baking. Bake for 8-10 mins. The brownie side may crack a bit. Under-cook slightly for a softer and more chewy cookie. Let cool for 1-2 mins on the sheet before moving them to a cooling rack.

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Oatmeal Chai Sandwich Cookie

Today I utilized three different recipes I’ve tried in previous bakes and ended up with something very tasty! How tasty? The entire plate of cookie sandwiches was gone before any could be shared outside of the house! This has become a new favorite.

May I present to you, the oatmeal pecan sandwich cookie with chai buttercream.
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• Chewy oatmeal cookies from a previous post (just use chopped pecans as your mix ins instead of apples or walnuts)

• Chai spice* (from the chai spice sugar cookies post) I make a batch of this to keep handy for experiments like this. The buttercream only needs up to 4 tsp so there will be more than enough left over if you make a batch of the chai spice.

• Chai buttercream (modified from Chocolate, Chocolate and more)

6 Tbsp butter at room temp
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tsp chai spice mix* (see recipe above)
2 tsp whole milk

Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 mins. Sift the powdered sugar into the butter in 3 half cup sections, scraping the sides of the bowl and beating well after each addition. Add the chai spice and beat again. Add milk a 1/4 tsp at a time and beat for a few mins until the frosting is smooth and keeps its form when manipulated. If it looks too runny, stop adding milk. Adding more powdered sugar will thicken it. Adding more milk will make it less stiff. Mix until desired consistency is reached.

Spread a thick layer onto a cooled oatmeal cookie. Place second cookie on top and press down to secure the cookie, but not hard enough to make the frosting run out of the cookies.

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White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

I’ve had a stash of macadamia nuts for a few weeks now and had been itching to try a new recipe for white chocolate macadamia cookies. I found a highly-rated recipe on Allrecipes and decided to give it a try. The recipe produced some very tasty and soft cookies. The only tweak I would make next time is using half the salt, but that’s only due to personal preference.
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White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

1 cup butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup white chocolate chips or morsels

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth – about 3 mins. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Mix in chocolate and nuts.

Drop teaspoonfuls of dough onto the prepared sheets. Bake for around 10-12 mins or until golden brown.

I baked some of mine until golden brown and then others I took out as soon as the edges browned. Both bakes turned out soft and tasty, though the ones that were in the oven longer had a bit more of a crunch. Tweak your bake time based on your preference of how you like your cookies.

czzt0616

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S’mookies

Last night, I came across a video by So Yummy that highlighted different desserts you can make with take and bake cookie dough. Of course, right after seeing the s’mookie and pinwheel brookies, I knew I had to give these a go. Today’s bake was the s’mookies because we love s’mores at our house!

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S’mookies

Cookie dough (I made fresh dough using the classic Nestlé Toll House recipe)
1 package of graham crackers
1 package of regular sized marshmallows
1 package of Hershey’s chocolate bars

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Break a graham cracker in half and place each half on the sheet. Break a Hershey bar in half and place each half on the graham cracker half. Take one marshmallow, tear it in half, and place each half on top of the chocolate so that the marshmallow halves are side-by-side. Be sure to leave plenty of space on your sheet as the cookies will spread and be a decent size. I made six cookies per cookie sheet.

Preheat your oven to 375F (or temp for the specific cookie dough you’re using).

Prepare your cookie dough. Take 1 Tbsp of dough and form it into a thick but flat disk. Place the disk on top of the marshmallow and push down slightly to ensure the stack is balanced.

Place sheet in the oven for 15 mins or until browned to desired doneness (time may vary depending on amount and type of dough). Let cool on the tray or parchment paper for several minutes before moving cookies to cooling rack.

Notes from my first go:

For my first tray, I only used a quarter of a Hershey bar and noticed that it causes more of the cookies to collapse and cook lopsided resulting in more melted marshmallows and over-cooked graham crackers. Using half a bar gave the cookie a nice base.

Also in my first tray, I used 1.5-2 Tbsp of dough. This resulted in huge cookies and way too much spreading. The flavor wasn’t quite right because the proportions of chocolate to dough to marshmallow and graham cracker were off. You need enough dough for the cookie to form around the s’more but not so much that it overtakes it.

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Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes a recipe trial comes out of necessity rather than curiosity. My husband had oral surgery about three weeks ago and has had to be on a soft food diet ever since. This meant he had to cut out almost all of his favorite treats. One of his favorite cookies used to be Keebler Soft Batch. Like most things, the recipe has changed over the years and they just don’t taste like they used to. So I used this opportunity to seek out and test a recipe for soft batch chocolate chip cookies. To our delight, they came out quite tasty. The taste leaves a lot of room to play with different flavors (extracts or pudding mix) but isn’t bland in its first iteration. This pleasant recipe comes from Brown Eyed Baker.
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Soft Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 small box) instant vanilla pudding mix (Brown Eyed Baker has a link to a homemade version in her recipe)
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pudding mix, and baking soda and set aside.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary, for about 3 minutes. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing only until a little flour is left in the dough. Using a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate chips into the dough.

With a medium cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop out dough and form it into balls and place on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake until the outside edges are just set and light golden brown and the middles are still puffy (about 10-12 mins – mine were in for 12). Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for five minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to five days.

 

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Experiments with Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Today’s experiments provided a mixed bag of results. The cinnamon apple additions worked great but I need to find a maple glaze recipe that provides a less sugary and a stronger maple flavor.

Chewy oatmeal cookies (this recipe is essentially for a whoopie pie but makes a tasty cookie) –

1 cup unsalted butter softened
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups quick cook or old fashioned oats

Cream together the butter and the sugars for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Add oats and mix until incorporated. Then add other mix ins. For this batch I did a half bag of mini semi-sweet morsels and 1 cup of chopped walnuts. Then I split the batch in half. For one half, I diced 1/2 a gala apple and let the pieces sit in a coating of cinnamon while I prepped the dough. I added this to one of the portions of dough and mixed until evenly distributed. For both portions of dough, spoon into a greased whoopie pie sheet and bake at 350F for 13-15 mins until they start to brown. Let cool in the sheet for 5 mins before moving cookies to a cooling rack.
(Cookie recipe from My Baking Addiction)

Maple glaze –
1/4 cup milk or cream (I used milk)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar (This amount makes it very sweet)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place butter, milk, and syrup into a sauce pan and bring to a boil on low heat, stirring constantly. Cook for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. Finish by whisking in powdered sugar and vanilla until creamy. Drizzle or pour over cookies and let cool.
(Glaze recipe from 2teaspoons