Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Blackberry Shortbread WedgesIt’s never fun to come home from vacation, but I think I did it right this time. Returning over the holiday weekend left me ample time to relax, grocery shop, meal prep, put up all the new things I bought in Swan’s Island and Portland, and watch all of The Good Place season 2. I’m calling it a success.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Getting back into the groove yesterday wasn’t too terrible, but a piece of my heart is definitely still in Maine. You know, where it’s not 95 degrees.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

Two days before I packed up to go home, my sister and I walked a good stretch of the North Road at a snail’s pace, picking upwards of a quart of tiny wild blackberries in about two hours. It might sound dull, but I can assure you that Eliot and I were anything but bored.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

The vast majority of the berries we found were the blackberries we expected, but we also spotted a blueberry patch and two teeny raspberries. All the apple trees were starting to turn, too. Maybe one day I’ll vacation a little later so I can enjoy them.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

I’ve written before about how I consider baking (and cooking) to be a form of active meditation; I feel the same way about foraging for berries. It’s easy to get lost in the simple process of plucking them from bushes and interacting with nature in a very tactile way. Berry-picking is probably the only time in my life where I am able to peacefully, fearlessly coexist with bees and that I’m not mad about a few good scratches from thorns. If anything, they’re little badges of honor.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

I’ve made pies with my foraged berries the last three years I’ve been on Swan’s Island, but decided to keep it easy this year, opting instead for these Blackberry Shortbread Wedges.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

They’re a slight adaptation of my Sweet Cherry Shortbread Bars (and their apple counterpart), this time baked in an 8-inch round pan. The resulting wedges (or bars or whatever you want to call them) are served up almost like pie, and have a thick, buttery shortbread crust that is difficult to stop eating. You could certainly serve these at room temperature, but my fellow vacationers and I preferred them straight from the fridge. There’s just something about the combination of cold, tangy blackberry filling and rich shortbread.Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

You’ll notice in the photos that I didn’t line the pan with foil or parchment—that’s only because I didn’t have any at our house. Instead, I greased and floured the pan and then sliced and served them directly from the pan. You may follow my lead here, or line the pan with foil and lift them onto a cutting board before slicing. I’ve written instructions for both methods in the recipe.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

However you choose to go about making these, I urge you to do so in these last weeks of summer. We saw pumpkins for sale as we drove out of Maine on September 1st, and while I am all for pumpkin after September 20th, I’m going to enjoy these end-of-season berries while I can.Blackberry Shortbread WedgesBlackberry Shortbread Wedges

Blackberry Shortbread Wedges
makes one 8-inch pan, 8-12 wedges

Filling:
3 cups fresh blackberries
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Shortbread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes

Place oven racks in top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 375F. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan, or line with aluminum foil, leaving overhang, and grease with butter. Set aside.

Make blackberry filling. In a medium mixing bowl, combine blackberries, lime juice, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and cornstarch. Set aside while you make the shortbread.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture for topping.

Pour remaining shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Pour blackberry filling over the top, leaving behind any excess liquid. Spread berries into an even layer.

For the topping, use your fingers to pinch together small portions of the reserved shortbread mixture. Scatter them over the top of the blackberry layer.

If your pan is on the shallow side, place it on a rimmed baking sheet to collect any light overflow. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 20 minutes. Move bars to the top rack and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, until barely golden. Tent with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 90 minutes, or until cold.

If pan was buttered and floured, slice and serve wedges directly from the pan. If it was lined with foil, use overhang to remove to a cutting board. Peel off foil before slicing and serving.

Leftover Blackberry Shortbread Wedges will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. They will soften over time.

Blackberry Shortbread Wedges

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Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free}

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}After I made Toasted Oat Graham Crackers a few weeks ago, I ran across the recipe for Ovenly’s Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies, which I had bookmarked in three separate places, including my copy of their book.Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}I should acknowledge that I already have four recipes for chocolate chip cookies in my archives (see here, here, here, and here) and another I’ve been tinkering with for over a year. I don’t need another, but I made an exception for Ovenly because theirs’ is naturally vegan and doesn’t involve any egg substitutes or sticks of “buttery spread.”Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}The original recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but as I had plenty of oats leftover from making from my adventures in graham cracker-ing, I figured I’d give it a shot with toasted ground oats. I also swapped out plain granulated sugar for an equal volume of light brown, added some vanilla, switched from chocolate chips to finely chopped dark chocolate, and nixed the extra salt entirely.Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}The Ovenly overlords will tell you that theirs’ is a finicky recipe and to follow it to the T. They are correct—it’s a very precise recipe and works perfectly as-is. But I messed with it anyway because I can’t help myself.Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}It took me five test rounds to get these cookies to work consistently with toasted ground oats, but I persisted and have been rewarded with super chewy, chocolaty cookies that anyone will love (not just your favorite local gluten-free vegan).Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}I will, however, jump on Ovenly’s soapbox like a hypocrite and tell you not to mess with this recipe…any further than I have already.Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}As with most baking recipes, the volumes of ingredients are very specific for a reason. In the case of this recipe, adjusting the liquid ingredients by 1 tablespoon (!) will either yield sad, soupy dough (and lacy cookies) or a chilled rock of inedible dough. Trust me, I know.Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}And for the love of everything, don’t shorten the 12-24 hour chill. If you do, I guarantee you will be disappointed. But if you work ahead, as specified in the recipe, you’ll be rewarded with some seriously good Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies.Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}For all my “don’t mess with the recipe” talk, these are remarkably easy and delicious cookies! They’re a guaranteed hit, not only for their chewy texture and perfect amount of dark chocolate, but because they’re vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free, so more people can eat them. Love that ❤Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}

Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}
adapted from Ovenly
makes 21-24 medium cookies

3 cups old-fashioned oats (certified gluten-free for gluten-free)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 ounces dark chocolate (certified dairy-free for vegan), finely chopped

Place oven racks in the top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 350F.

Spread oats onto a dry rimmed sheet pan. Place in oven and toast for 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Transfer oats into the bowl of a food processor. Process for 3-4 minutes, or until there are no recognizable oats. Transfer ground oats to a large mixing bowl and freeze for 5 minutes, or until no longer warm.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine light brown sugar, oil, water, and vanilla. Whisk until the sugar has melted, and everything is fully combined and thickened slightly. Set aside.

Retrieve ground oats from the freezer. Whisk in baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold in chopped dark chocolate. Pour in liquid ingredients and fold together. Mixture will be pretty thin. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Do not skip or shorten this step.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Line a dinner plate with wax paper or parchment. Scoop dough (which will still be soft) in 2 tablespoon increments. Place dough balls on lined plate. Freeze for 10 minutes.

Place dough balls at least 4 inches apart on prepared pans (I get 6 on a half sheet pan). Place any remaining dough balls back in the freezer.

Bake 7 minutes. Rotate pans top-to-bottom and back-to-front. Bake an additional 6 minutes. Let cool for at least 7 minutes on prepared pans before removing to a rack to cool completely. Let pans return to room, temperature before baking remaining dough balls.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. They may also be frozen after baking and are shockingly good when they are ice cold.Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies {Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free}

Neapolitan Shortbread

Neapolitan ShortbreadI have never had many feelings about Neapolitan ice cream—that classic all-in-one combination of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry—except that I’d probably prefer a scoop of vanilla with sprinkles instead.Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan Shortbread, though, are a different story. I saw a few recipes for them while scrolling through Pinterest a few weeks ago and thought they were super cute with their different colored stripes. I just had to make them, if only to make the world’s most adorable ice cream sandwiches. Neapolitan ShortbreadI clicked on a link and saw, to my utter (and definitely over-the-top) horror, that the layers were all made with one dough, the chocolate portion being mixed with melted chocolate and the pink part being just vanilla with food coloring! I clicked through more links and found a lot more of the same. Some had mixed their pink portion with strawberry jam, but that was even more problematic—it meant that all three portions would have different textures and bake differently. Neapolitan ShortbreadAnd so, I set out to fix this problem. Yes, I know that this “problem” is one I created with my own pickiness, but I don’t care because I believe in cookies that bake evenly and deliver flavors as advertised, damn it! I will not apologize for being a cookie snob. #justiceforstrawberry

Okay, rant over. (Sorry.) Neapolitan ShortbreadI set to work, and it took me five test-batches, but y’all, these Neapolitan Shortbread are fantastic. They’ve got bold colors and big flavors and they bake evenly and they are shockingly easy to make.Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadEach layer is made from its own quick, simple dough, all three of which can be made in the same bowl in under twenty minutes. Here’s the rundown:

  • the chocolate dough is made with cocoa powder and a hint of espresso.
  • the vanilla dough is made with vanilla (duh) and a touch of almond extract.
  • the strawberry is made with pulverized freeze-dried strawberries (a la these) and a few drops of food coloring to keep the pink portion vibrant while baking.

Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadAll the doughs are all pressed together in a wax paper-lined loaf pan and chilled until hard. Then the edges are trimmed off, the dough is cut into two long pieces, and each one is sliced into cookies. I ❤ ❤ ❤ a slice & bake recipe! Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan Shortbread bake at a low temperature for 17-18 minutes. The cookies will be a little soft coming out of the oven, but should set up quickly. They’ll be crisp at the edges, slightly chewy in the centers, and oh, so buttery. Neapolitan ShortbreadThese cookies are as delicious as they are beautiful, with plenty of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry flavors in every bite! And that’s to say nothing of the bright, bold colors—I just love that berry pink!Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadOh, and I was right. They do make adorable ice cream sandwiches 🙂 Neapolitan Shortbread

Neapolitan Shortbread
makes about 6.5 dozen cookies

Chocolate Dough:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon espresso granules (optional)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Vanilla Dough:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Strawberry Dough:
1 cup freeze dried strawberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-5 drops liquid red food coloring (or 1 drop red gel food coloring), optional
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with wax paper, leaving a couple of inches of overhang on the sides. Set aside.

Make the chocolate dough. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in vanilla. Add cocoa powder, flour, espresso granules and salt, and mix until a dough forms. Dough will look crumbly, but should pinch together very easily. Press chocolate dough into a mostly-even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate while you make the vanilla dough. Wipe down beaters and bowl.

In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and optional almond extract, followed by flour and salt. Press vanilla dough into a mostly-even layer over the top of the chocolate dough. Refrigerate while you make the strawberry dough. Wipe down beaters and bowl.

Combine freeze dried strawberries and sugar in a food processor* and blitz until they are a powder. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add butter and use an electric mixer to beat it together until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and red food coloring, followed by flour and salt. Dough may be crumbly, but should hold together very well when pinched. Press strawberry dough into a mostly-even layer on top of the vanilla dough. Fold wax paper overhang over the top of the dough. Refrigerate for 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 300F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Unfold wax paper overhang and use it to lift dough brick onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to trim the edges (which can be cut into rectangles and baked into cookies). Slice rectangle down the middle lengthwise so that you have two long, skinny rectangles of dough. Refrigerate one rectangle.

Slice rectangle into 1/4-inch slices, placing them at least 1 1/2-inches apart on prepared pans. If dough gets too warm, refrigerate full pans for 5 minutes before baking.

Bake cookies for 9 minutes. Rotate pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Bake an additional 8-9 minutes, until no longer wet looking. Shortbread should not turn golden. Let cool on the pans for 7 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat slicing and baking processes with remaining dough, letting pans return to room temperature between batches.

Neapolitan Shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week. They will soften slightly over time.Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan Shortbread

Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I’ve eaten a lot of desserts in my life—A LOT—but as far as sheer enjoyment goes, I still think it’s pretty hard to beat homemade chocolate chip cookies. The combination of caramelized brown sugar cookie and semisweet chocolate chips is about as perfect as it gets, don’t you think?Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe is in the archives along with a chocolate chip cookie cake that’s bigger your face <—make that! I’ve been working on another iteration of this classic for about a year, too. I wonder if the people I work for have noticed that every batch of cookie dough I’ve made for the last year has been just slightly different than the last…

But enough about old favorites and the cookies to come—today is all about Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies!Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}That’s right—these delectable chocolate chip cookies are made with creamy cashew butter in place of a traditional flour base, making them gluten-free. If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I have a bit of an obsession with reimagining classic cookies with a cashew butter base. The smooth, buttery flavor of cashews is a perfect jumping off point for revamping all sorts of cookie jar favorites! I posted Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles about a year ago and Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies around Christmas, but I think this is my favorite so far. I mean, hello—melty chocolate chips, y’all!Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Another great thing about these Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies? They’re vegan! The natural oil in the cashew butter negates the need for butter, and the usual egg is swapped for a few tablespoons of aquafaba AKA the cooking/canning liquid from chickpeas. Sounds weird, but it totally works, it’s inexpensive and readily available, and no, it will not make your cookies taste like beans. If you’re still skeptical, you can use a flax egg. Either way, you’ll end up with a batch of spectacular vegan, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}You’ll notice that these cookies don’t have the slightly raggedy edges of my other forays into cashew butter cookies. That’s because I finally figured out that these cookies bake up in a more aesthetically pleasing way if you flatten them before they go in the oven.Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}*cue “The More You Know” jingle*Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}I’m going to gush a little more about these cookies and then I swear I’m done 😉 This recipe doesn’t require anything beyond a whisk, a silicone spatula, and a bowl. There’s no required chill either–if you turn on the oven right now, you can have an entire batch of cookies ready to go in just about an hour!Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Seriously, there are so many good things to say about Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Their shockingly-close-to-the-real-deal flavor and soft & chewy texture are enough to capture just about any cookie-loving heart ❤ My favorite thing about them though is that they’re vegan and gluten-free, so I can share them with more friends. I’m pretty sure that the only thing better than a fresh homemade batch of chocolate chip cookies is having people to share them with.Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 2 dozen small cookies

1 cup creamy-style cashew butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea canning liquid) or 1 flax egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 1/4 cups dairy-free chocolate chips + more for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cashew butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar until combined. Mix in aquafaba (or flax egg) and vanilla. Use a silicone spatula to fold in cornstarch, baking powder, and salt. Fold in dairy-free chocolate chips.

Scoop dough by the tablespoon and form into balls. Place dough balls 2 inches apart on prepared pans and press down to flatten. Bake 10-11 minutes, just until no longer wet-looking. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Press more chocolate chips onto the tops of the warm cookies, if desired. Repeat baking process with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Cashew flavor will mellow slightly over time.

Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesI won’t lie to you—I was tempted to take today off of blogging. I made fifteen cakes between last Monday and this Monday. I like making cake, but fifteen is A LOT.

My brain is fried and my feet hurt. I went to bed at midnight last night without protest. That never happens. I slept for almost nine hours (hooray for working from home!) and I’m still basically half-asleep.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesBut I love this little corner of the internet, so I’m here anyway–just taking it easy this week. I’m saying a big “NO” to yeast doughs, frying, and things that require a million step-by-step photos. I’m taking a hard pass on petit fours.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesBut I’m saying yes to tried-and-true cookie recipes.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesYes to oats. (And butter and brown sugar and the tiniest pinch of nutmeg.)Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesChewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesYes to chocolate chips. Yes to dried cherries.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesYes to dough that doesn’t need a chill.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesYes to Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal CookiesYes.Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies
makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup dried cherries

Place oven racks in center positions. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add light brown and granulated sugars and beat until combined. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Mix in oats, followed by chocolate chips and dried cherries.

Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments and drop 2 inches apart on prepared pans (I like to use a medium cookie scoop for this). Bake 6 minutes. Rotate pans top-to-bottom and back-to-front. Bake another 4-6 minutes, until golden at the edges. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies