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Available Now: Carrot cake cookies!

Package of carrot cake sandwich cookies

Carrot cake cookies are everything you love about the dessert, down to the cream cheese filling, but in a snack portion!

Two boxes (update: Only one left!) of six carrot cake cookies are available for purchase today! $15/box + tax.

Local pick up only (Charlotte/Matthews, NC).

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August Cookie Care Packages

The theme for August’s cookie care pages was “comfort cookies.” Included in this month’s box are snickerdoodle, hot chocolate, and chocolate chip cookies.

Wishing you had ordered a box? I have one extra available for purchase! $30 includes shipping and tax. Email CasualConfections@gmail.com or use the form at CasualConfections.com/Menu to order.

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Ice Cream Sandwiches

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making a traditional ice cream sandwich, but didn’t really carve out the time to do so. This week, a video from Delish.com came across my feed and I had to try it. They made red velvet ice cream sandwiches using a box mix. I had a box of devil’s food mix sitting in my pantry and some mint ice cream in the freezer and decided to give it a go.

This recipe takes almost no time on task to whip together. While my sandwich ends were more thin and cookie-like and less thick and cake-like, they made for a very tasty treat!

One thing to note, the recipe in the link has fewer details than the video. The butter should be melted. I creamed some softened butter for mine which may have played a role in the cookie vs cake texture.

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Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Sandwiches (using a red velvet ice cream sandwich recipe)

1 box cake mix
2 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 gal ice cream, softened (apply as much as you like. I prefer a thinner ice cream layer, so I only used about half a carton)

Preheat oven 350°F. Line a large rimmed pan baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine mix, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Mix until evenly combined (mixture will be thick).

Spread the batter onto the prepared baking sheet. My batter was quite thick and I found it easier to drop globs on different parts of the pan and using an offset spatula to slowly work it around until there was a smooth and somewhat even layer of batter across the pan.

Bake until set (about 18-20 mins).

Let cool in the pan completely, then cut the cake in half across the middle to make two large rectangles. Spread ice cream onto one half and then place the second half on top to form one large sandwich. Freeze until ice cream is firm (about 2 hours) then slice it into bars (should yield about 12 depending on size of slices). Serve immediately.

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Sandwich
Chocolate mint ice cream sandwich
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Individual Strawberry Jam Cakes

Looking for a tasty little treat for a mid-day snack or and end-of-day dessert? These hand-cakes by Martha Stewart will hit the spot. You can easily customize the recipe by switching out the flavor of the filling and using or omitting the citrus.
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Individual Strawberry Jam Cakes

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp finely grated orange zest (I left out the citrus)
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (left out)
1/4 cup milk
6 Tbsp strawberry jam or preserves
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (I substituted milk and added 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to make a vanilla glaze)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a standard 6-cup muffin tin and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, (and zest) until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time until creamy; set aside. Into a small bowl, soft together flour, baking powder, (and salt). Add flour mixture and milk in alternating batches to butter mixture. Set aside.

In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks; fold into batter among muffin cups. Make an indentation in the middle of each; full with 1 Tbsp of jam. Top with remaining batter.

Bake until a cake tester inserted in top cake layer comes out clean, about 30 mins. Untold cakes and transfer them to a wire rack to cool. In a small bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and juice (or milk). Place parchment paper; drizzle cake with glaze.

Notes:
1. When separating batter, crest a thick enough base but conserve enough to cover the jam to reduce or prevent the jam leaning out.

2. When whisking icing, start with powdered sugar and slowly add the juice/milk to desired consistency. Blending all at once results in a thin, runny icing.

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No Chill and No Expanding Sugar Cookie Recipe

Any time is a good time for sugar cookie cutouts. I had a smallish window to pull together a cookie dough and get it ready for cutters, so I looked around for a recipe that didn’t require time in the fridge. I stumbled across In Katrina’s Kitchen’s recipe for the “Best Sugar Cookie Recipe Ever!” Check out her page for a printable version of the recipe and some of her tips.

For a quick recipe, it worked well. The dough didn’t spread when baked. It ended being a bit difficult to work with as it was a bit too dry and a bit too wet. I had a tough time finding a balance. My dough didn’t end up as thick as the recipe suggests so I may need to try a different approach when I add my dry ingredients next time. I also found the flavor to be ok. It didn’t wow me but I did enjoy it.

Star Wars cookie cutters were purchased from ThinkGeek. Dinosaur cutter was purchased from Michaels.
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Best Sugar Cookie Recipe Ever

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
3 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until smooth, minimum of 3 mins. Beat in egg and extracts.

In a separate bowl, combine baking powder with flour. Add the dry ingredients a little at a time to the wet ingredients. The dough will be very stiff. If it becomes too stiff for your mixer, put the dough on a counter top, wet your hands, and finish kneading by hand. DO NOT CHILL THE DOUGH.

Divide into workable batches, roll out onto a floured surface and cut. You want them to be closer to 1/4” than 1/8” in thickness. Bake for 6-8 mins. Start with 6 mins and check on them from there. Let cool on the sheet until they’re firm enough to move 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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Coconut Crack Bars – Keto

My first keto-friendly, sugar-free experiment. I came across a post on The Big Man’s World for a coconut crack bar. Many friends have expressed interest in keto-friendly desserts so I wanted to try my hand at one.

This recipe is simple as you just mix three ingredients. However, it proved to be a pain in my butt today as I had to go to five stores to find unsweetened coconut and to Amazon for the syrup. After all of the running around, my bars didn’t turn out like the picture. However, they are very tasty, work well as a frozen treat, and surprised me with the monk fruit maple syrup!

One thing to note is that the recipe is not clear on whether it needs 1 cup of solid coconut oil, melted, or 1 cup of melted coconut oil. It’s possible mine have a bit more than intended leading to a thinner batter.

Curious? Give it a go!

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Coconut Crack Bars

3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup monk fruit sweetened maple syrup (I used Lakanto brand)

Line an 8×8 or 8×10 pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add the shredded coconut. Add your melted coconut oil and monk fruit syrup and mix until a thick batter remains. If it is too crumbly, add a little extra syrup or a tiny bit of water.

Pour the coconut crack bar batter into the lined pan. Lightly wet your hands and press firmly into place. Refrigerate or freeze until firm. Cut into bars and enjoy.

Storage:
Room temp – 7 days
Fridge – 1 month
Freezer – 2 months

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New York Style Crumb Cake

One of my favorite breakfast treats is Entenmann’s crumb coffee cake. It never lasts long in our house since I simply cannot control myself around it. I knew it was only a matter of time until I tried making one from scratch. For my first try, I went with Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe. It’s very straight forward and easy to put together.

Of course, there’s always the chance you’ll misread the ingredients during your prep and melt 1 3/4 cups of butter instead of 1/2 cup. Looks like I’ll be baking cookies later this week to use up the extra butter.
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New York Style Crumb Cake

Crumb topping:
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (66 grams) dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp table salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1 3/4 cups (198 grams) cake flour

Whisk the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a medium bowl to combine. Add flour and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough. Set aside to cool to room temperature – about 10-15 mins.

Cake:
1 1/4 cups (142 grams) cake flour
1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp table salt
6 Tbsp (85 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk
Powdered sugar for dusting

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325F. Spray 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, allowing excess to hang over the sides.

Using an electric mixer on low speed, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt to combine. With mixer continuing to run at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continuing to beat until mixture resembles moist crumbs with no visible butter chunks visible – 1-2 mins. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 min, scraping once if necessary.

Transfer batter to baking pan using rubber spatula, spread the batter into an even layer. Break apart the crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces and spread in an even layer over the batter, beginning with the edges and then working toward the center. Be sure not to push the crumbs into the batter, just sprinkle on top. Bake until the crumbs are golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean – 35-40 mins.

Cool on wire rack at least 30 mins. Lift out of pan using parchment overhang. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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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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DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you’ve ever stayed at a Doubletree hotel, chances are that you’ve enjoyed one of their tasty chocolate chip cookies. I asked around for a decent copycat recipe to try and was sent to The Little Kitchen’s recipe.

It’s been a while since I’ve had a Doubletree cookie, so I couldn’t do a side-by-side comparison for flavor, but these are some pretty tasty cookies!
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Doubletree Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup rolled oats
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 large eggs
2 cups semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (I used 1 bag of regular sized chips and 1/2 bag of mini chips)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Pulse oats in a food processor until semi-fine or fine. Since I don’t have a processor, I used a hand chopper.

In a small mixing bowl, add the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

To a medium bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars. Add vanilla extract, lemon juice, and eggs. Mix until you have a smooth mixture. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl with a spatula at least once.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a spatula, being careful not to over-mix. Drop in the chips and nuts and mix until both are evenly distributed. Be careful not to over-mix or the cookies will have a cake-like texture.

Use a large cookie scoop (I used a regular tablespoon) to scoop dough into a lined baking sheet. Place dough balls close to each other for easier storage. Freeze or refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours (I left mine in the freezer overnight).

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Remove dough balls from storage and place on a new baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place dough 1 1/2” – 2” apart. Bake for 13-14 minutes or until desired doneness. Let cool on a the baking sheet for a few minutes to harden a bit before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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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.