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A Your Tray or Mine Recipe and an Online Cookie Swap: Chocolate Buttersweets

17 Dec
Chocolate Buttersweets

These are my other top favorite cookie from our trays!

ORIGINALLY POSTED DECEMBER 19, 2014

This week I was invited to participate in such a fun activity: a digital cookie exchange! Now, you know how much I love cookies, and what a fun idea to do an online recipe swap! I was invited by Patience Brewster, a company that offers a unique line of handmade, hand painted ornaments and gifts for holiday and every day decor.  Their products are so beautiful! Every piece in the collection is based on original artwork by artist/designer Patience Brewster and is filled with intricate details and fanciful designs. You can read more about the company here.

As I was going through my favorite cookie recipes, trying to decide which one to choose for today’s online cookie exchange with Patience Brewster, I had such a hard time deciding! Not just any cookie would do. Ultimately I decided to run the recipe for one of my top two favorite Christmas cookies, the Chocolate Buttersweets. These cookies were the ultimate equivalent of a beautiful Patience Brewster ornament, in a cookie. Hand-glazed, multi-step, multi-layer, delectable cookies, beautiful confections….it’s a perfect fit.

Below you’ll find the step-by-step instructions for this cookie. I hope you’ll give it a try, and I certainly hope that you’ll go on over to the Patience Brewster site and and take a look at their beautiful creations.

In the meantime, I’d like to tag my friend Paula over at My Soup for You and invite her to join in on our online cookie exchange! Paula is a wonderful cook and baker, and I know she’ll be doing some baking this weekend, too! In fact, I’d like to challenge all of my readers and fellow bloggers. Link up a great cookie recipe in the comments here, blog about a good cookie recipe on your own blog, or share a cookie recipe wherever you share, and tag us all!

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ORIGINALLY POSTED DECEMBER 19, 2011

When I first began the Your Tray or Mine series of recipes earlier this month, I began with the Chocolate Thumbprints, which I said were one of my top two favorite cookie recipes from the trays my mom and I do. Today’s cookie, the Chocolate Buttersweets, are my other top favorite cookie on the tray.

This recipe is not complicated, although it does have three distinct steps: the cookie, the filling and the frosting. Because the cookie should be frosted when it’s warm (but not hot) I recommend prepping the filling first, so that it’s ready. Then make your cookies, and after they are filled, make your frosting and frost the filled cookies.

INGREDIENTS

Cookie base for chocolate buttersweets

If you have a wooden spoon with a round handle, you can use it to poke the holes in the tops of the cookies before baking.

Cookies:
1 cup margarine or butter
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour (we also make these gluten free, using Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 flour)

**Filling:
6 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
4 TBL flour
2 tsp vanilla

Frosting:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 TBL butter or margarine
4 TBL water
1 cup confectioners sugar

DIRECTIONS:
**Prepare the filling first. The cookies, when done, need to be filled while warm. Have the filling ready to go.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

FOR COOKIES:
1) In large bowl cream together butter, confectioners sugar, salt and vanilla.
2) Gradually add flour to creamed mixture, mix well.
3) Roll dough into 1″ balls, placing them 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
4) Press hole in center of each cookie with finger or the handle end of wooden spoon (if handle is round, not flat.)
5) Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until edges are lightly brown.
6) Fill while warm
7) Frost

Filled Chocolate Buttersweets

Step two: fill the cookies while warm.

FOR FILLING:
Soften cream cheese. Blend in sugar, flour, vanilla. Cream well. Fill cookies.

FOR FROSTING:
In small saucepan melt chocolate chips, butter, and water over low heat. Stir constantly. Stir in confectioners sugar and mix well. Will be lumpy at first until the sugar melts. Spoon a little frosting onto each cookie.

Your Tray or Mine Bar Recipe of the Day: Double Delicious Bars

14 Dec
Double Delcious Bars

Hot out of the oven, this peanut butter-chocolate chip dessert is one of our favorites!

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED DECEMBER 18, 2011

This recipe incorporates peanut butter, so if you have allergies…please take note.

I love this one, it’s super fast and easy and as the title says: delicious. Kids can totally help out with this one too, it’s literally just layering of ingredients, dumping bags of chips into a baking pan.

INGREDIENTS

1 stick butter

One package Nabisco “Famous” Chocolate wafer cookies

One 14 oz. can Sweetened Condensed Milk

2/3 of a 12 oz. package semisweet chocolate chips (I totally use the whole package. No 2/3 for me!)

2/3 of a 12 oz. package peanut butter chips (again I use the whole bag, and if it’s a 10 oz. bag you definitely use the whole thing.)

Chocolate wafer crumbs

First layers: melted butter and chocolate wafer crumbs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees or 325 for a glass dish.

In 13×9 pan, melt one stick of butter in the heated oven.

Crush one package of Nabisco “Famous” chocolate wafer cookies (or if you can find crushed chocolate cookie crumbs, use 1 1/2 cups of those.)

Spread 1 1/2 cups of the crushed wafers into the melted butter.

Pour 1 can (14 oz) of Sweetened Condensed Milk evenly over crumbs.

Top with 2/3 of a 12 oz. bag of semisweet chocolate chips and 2/3 of a 12 oz. bag of peanut butter chips. (If the peanut butter chips are 10 oz, use the whole bag. Depends on the brand you buy.)

Press down slightly to set.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Double Delicious Bars before going into the oven

You don’t even need a mixing bowl for this recipe. You just layer it all in the baking dish.

Cool and cut into bars.

Your Tray or Mine? Cookie Tray Recipe of the Day: “Krispie” Chocolate Chip Cookies

13 Dec

The most recent time I made these, I used a mix of both chocolate Rice Krispies and the plain Rice Krispies. they were delicious!

The following recipe is a newer recipe to my collection, not one that I grew up on as we did our cookie trays when I was growing up. But, I like this recipe because it’s fast and easy, and it’s not “just” another chocolate chip cookie recipe, the cereal gives it an added crunch. I often double this recipe, it makes a lot and it’s a good filler on the trays. I have yet to have someone say they didn’t like these cookies!

I got the recipe from a cookbook I’ve had since before I was married. I always find the best recipes in it! It’s called “Favorite Brand Name Cookie Collection.” I did add the word “Krispie” to the title myself though.

“Krispie” Chocolate Chip Cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
1 cup sugar

1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups Rice Krispies (I have used the plain  Rice Krispies as well as the chocolate flavored Rice Krispies. Either works well.)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

There’s lots of measuring, pouring and mixing in this recipe. Great opportunities for kids to help out in the kitchen, and for them to learn by doing.

DIRECTIONS

Stir together flour, baking soda, salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat margarine and sugar until well combined.

Add egg and vanilla. Beat well.

Add flour mixture. Mix thoroughly.

Stir in Rice Krispies cereal and chocolate chips.

Drop by level tablespoonfuls (I use the Pampered Chef small scoop) onto greased cookie sheets. (I did not grease. But my cookie sheets are pretty well seasoned and there’s butter in the recipe too.)

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Remove immediately from cookie sheets and cool on wire wracks.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies (and mine did make exactly 42 cookies.)

Your Tray or Mine Recipe of the Day: Brown Eyed Susans, a Family Favorite

12 Dec

ORIGINALLY POSTED DECEMBER 7, 2011

When I posted my first recipe last week for Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies, I mentioned that it was one of my top two favorite cookies on our trays each year (I’ll let you know what my other favorite is when I post it.) However, the thing about cookie trays is that everyone has their own favorites. Mine tend to be all the ones that are heavily chocolate chip based, but not everyone’s are.

Brown Eyed Susans for Christmas Cookie Trays

I had a near meltdown when I realized we were totally out of any sprinkles for the tops of the cookies. I recovered when I found red and green stars instead.

Today’s recipe is for Brown Eyed Susans, which are my brother’s favorites. I might have one each year, but he *loves* them. They’re good and easy to make. I hope you’ll try them!

BROWN EYED SUSANS

INGREDIENTS

Cream together the following:

1 cup butter

3 TBL. sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

CHILL FOR TWO HOURS.

Rolled and flattened cookie dough

Here’s what the cookies look like as they are rolled and then as they are flattened.

DIRECTIONS

Roll into about 1 level tablespoon ball and place on greased cookie sheet.

Flatten slightly using your fingers. (This is a good place to have your kids help out.)

Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Frost while warm. (You can make these ahead, freeze cookies and then frost them when thawed.)

I find that if you fill all your baking sheets with the rolled and flattened cookies first, you can use the baking time to make up the frosting so that it’s ready for you to frost them while they’re warm.

Brown Eyed Susans

These look pretty with any sort of decorations on top, but we normally use sprinkes as shown here.

FROSTING INGEDIENTS

1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar

2 TBL Baking Cocoa

2 TBL hot water

1/2 tsp vanilla

Use about 1/2 tsp on top of each cookie (yes the frosting does drip off the cookies, so put wax paper underneath.)
**I found that the 1/2 tsp measure on top of each cookie is important. If you use just any spoon to frost them you run out of frosting because too much goes onto the cookies and then drips off the cookies onto the wax paper and then you have to make another batch of frosting.

Sprinkle colored sprinkles or chocolate sprinkles (or place an almond, or whatever you’d like,) on top. This is also a good “job” for kids to do, decorating the tops of the frosted cookies, that and running their fingers all over the waxed paper where the chocolate has dripped once the cookies are safely removed!

**In Rhode Island, the sprinkles are called Jimmies. My dad is Jimmy and my mom is Pat so we call our colored ones Patsies. Just a random fact for you…

A single recipe makes about 36 cookies.

The challenge is real: health and wellness vs. tradition

8 Dec
Red and green crinkle cookies were new for me this year and I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy them.

Red and green crinkle cookies were new for me this year and I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy them.

ORIGINALLY POSTED DECEMBER 22, 2015

It seems to me that our family often has their “ah ha moment” in regards to what’s been bothering their stomachs *right* before the holidays, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s.

Although I’m always so happy we’ve figured it out and can help them, I always find it totally and completely overwhelming trying to figure out our traditional holiday meals versus their new health and wellness needs. I want everyone to feel good, and yet I want everyone to be able to partake in our usual favorites, whether it’s grilling and eating pumpkin bread in our pjs in front of the television on Thanksgiving morning, or whether it’s making and eating all our favorite Christmas cookies from recipes we’ve held near and dear through the years.

It’s very challenging.

Very.

With our new gluten free needs, I found myself completely overwhelmed, trying to immediately figure out what we needed for Thanksgiving, but while doing so, knowing that Christmas was literally right around the corner, and that holiday for us, had visions of flour and gluten dancing in my head. We normally bake dozens and dozens of our favorite Christmas cookies every year, and it’s a tradition I have held near and dear to my heart since growing up baking with my mother and it’s something I’ve passed on to my children as well. In addition to our old favorites, each year I also will often try out a new recipe and with that, I’ve added a few new favorites to our traditional list as well.

As I searched, scrolled and pinned, I tried to make heads or tails of what I was going to do. I saw many holiday cookie recipes online, and although they looked good enough, they weren’t *our* holiday cookie recipes and I knew that no matter how good they might be, it wouldn’t be good enough for us. I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy our old favorites and any new favorites we might find this year.

Winner, winner! This was the flour blend I decided to try for our cookies this year.

Winner, winner! This was the flour blend I decided to try for our cookies this year. I measured cup for cup as I would have in my regular recipes, as it said you could.

Finally, after avoiding the thought process for a while between Thanksgiving and Christmas, last week I decided to attempt to make our own recipes using gluten free flour. Specifically, I opted to use the Pillsbury gluten free flour blend which already included the various types of flour I’d seen in from-scratch recipes as well as the needed amounts of xanthan gum that is needed to hold the flours together.

I tried a new recipe for Grinch Crinkle cookies that I thought were adorable. I opted to use them for a cookie swap and instead of doing just green, I split the batter, which is made with a vanilla cake mix, and make red AND green. How cute is that??? Very, very cute. They were a big hit.

We'd already successfully used this for cupcakes, so I was willing to give it a go for Grinch Crinkle cookies too.

We’d already successfully used this for cupcakes, so I was willing to give it a go for Grinch Crinkle cookies too.

Luckily, I could make the red and green batch above to take with me Saturday night and use a gluten free cake mix from Betty Crocker for another set. Purple and sparkles were requested but I stayed with the Grinch Green theme. This time.

The cake mix worked out great, and these will be a keeper in our yearly baking for sure. I even see them as being red and blue with white chocolate chips around July 4. Wouldn’t that be adorable? It would. I’m sure of it.

These gluten free Grinch Crinkles were not mixed in with the red and green cookies above. They stayed at our house and got all thumbs up from everyone!

These gluten free Grinch Crinkles were not mixed in with the red and green cookies above. They stayed at our house and got all thumbs up from everyone!

And so, here it is, two days before Christmas Eve, and I’m on a roll. I’ve made a totally gluten free set of Grinch Crinkles, Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Chip Butterballs, Chocolate Thumbprints, Holiday Chex Mix, and I have more to come. A few more, anyway. You can find all the recipes by clicking on the titles and see if any of them work for your dietary needs! I use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter to reduce the fat also, so they’re not too bad in that department either. Overall I find that the batters are coming out almost the same. Maybe a bit more crumbly but not awful by any means, and definitely workable 100% of the time. The cookies taste the same, I’ve made sure to taste plenty of them just to deliver a valid verdict for you!

I wish everyone who celebrates the upcoming holidays this week a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Blessings to you and yours for health and happiness always!

 

 

Your Tray or Mine Recipe of the Day: Chocolate Crinkles

18 Dec
Betty Crocker's Cooky Book

Can you spot the Chocolate Crinkle cookie on the cover of our cookbook?

ORIGINALLY POSTED DECEMBER 15, 2011

This recipe is an original to our cookie trays and I like it because it makes a lot of cookies, so it’s not a cookie that you have to ration one per tray or anything like that. You can be generous when you give them out.

I also think these are such pretty cookies, like snowflakes, which is funny for a chocolate based cookie.

They’re easy to make but you do need to make sure you make the batter ahead of time and chill it, so take that into account when you’re doing your planning.

CHOCOLATE CRINKLES

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 sq. unsweetened chocolate (4 oz.) melted

2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar

Chocolate Crinkles on baking sheet

Chocolate Crinkles fresh out of the oven

DIRECTIONS

Mix oil, chocolate and granulated sugar.

Blend in one egg at a time until well mixed.

Add vanilla.

Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting (I really just measure. I’m not sure what either of those methods are, although it says See p. 5 to find out what the dipping method is.)

Stir flour, baking powder and salt into oil mixture.

Chill several hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into confectioner’s sugar BEFORE rolling into balls. Roll in sugar, shape into balls. (This is how you get the snowflake look when they bake.)

Place about 2″ apart on greased baking sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes. Do not overbake. Makes about six dozen cookies.

Three tiered cookie rack with crinkles

This recipe is the whole reason why I wanted this three tiered cooling rack this year. It makes a ton of cookies!

Baking with the kids

Many hands make light work. Messy work, but light work. Powdered sugar everywhere!

Pumpkin Palooza Recipe of the Day: Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

22 Nov

This new recipe got all thumbs up this weekend!

ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 13, 2011

This weekend I tried a new recipe that came across my virtual “desk” last week. The recipe was from Babble’s Family Kitchen blog that I follow on Facebook. The recipe, for Pumpkin Swirl Brownies, reminded me of a recipe my college roommate used to make for Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies, and it’s made basically the same way except using pumpkin instead of peanut butter.

I must say, I am not the neatest dessert-cutter. All my squares are all different sizes, but really they’re all going to the same place, right? These Pumpkin Swirl Brownies were really, really delicious! The recipe was very easy. Try it and see what you think! Here it is, as I found it on Babble last week. Apparently, the person who posted it had seen it on several other blogs as well.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup butter
6 oz (6 squares) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or 1 cup chocolate chips)  I used the chocolate chips.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin  (I used one 15 oz can of Libby’s canned pumpkin.)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (It says Nutmeg is optional, but I did use it.)

DIRECTIONS

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch baking pan. (I used 11×7 but would use 9×13 next time. They were super-thick.)

2) In a small saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth.

3) In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

4) In a large bowl, beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla for a few minutes, until fluffy; beat in the flour just until combined.

5) Divide the batter between two medium bowls (about 1 and 1/2 cups of batter per bowl) and stir the chocolate mixture into one bowl. Stir the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon and nutmeg into the other bowl.

6) Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan, smooth the top and gently spread with half the pumpkin batter.

Here’s how it looks when you drop the large spoonfuls of batter on top of the two layers, before you swirl.

7) Drop large spoonfuls of chocolate and pumpkin batter on top, then gently swirl the two batters with the tip of a knife (just a table knife, so you don’t scrape the bottom of the pan with a sharp tip) to create a marbled effect.

And here’s how it looks after you do the marbling effect with your butter knife.

8) Bake for 40-45 minutes, until just set. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Makes 16 brownies.