Category Archives: Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares

Chocolate Chip Cookie SquaresHappy Valentine’s Day ❤ If you are looking for holiday-appropriate treats, click here and here.Chocolate Chip Cookie SquaresIf, however, you are over the heart-shaped baked goods—or, more likely, are looking for something to bake after Valentine’s Day is over—look no further than these very good, anything but boring, extremely square Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares.Chocolate Chip Cookie SquaresWe’re talking about a thick, soft layer of cookie studded with miniature chocolate chips, topped with a blanket of chocolate buttercream, and scattered with more miniature chocolate chips. Always more chocolate chips, am I right?!Chocolate Chip Cookie SquaresThese sweet squares are perfect for a multitude of occasions. They’re one of those recipes to keep in your back pocket for a game or movie night, class party, office break room pick-me-up, friend who needs a treat, picnic, casual birthday #stickacandleinit, or just…Saturday.Chocolate Chip Cookie SquaresAnd while they are not red, strawberry-flavored, rolled into truffles or cut into hearts, I know I’d be hard-pressed to pass one up on this fine, frigid Friday Valentine’s Day.Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares

Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares
makes one 9-inch pan, about 16 squares

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

Chocolate Buttercream:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
miniature chocolate chips, if desired

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides, and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cookie layer. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in light brown sugar, followed by egg and yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating just until combined. Add miniature chocolate chips. Dough will be thick.

Press dough into prepared pan with a silicone spatula. Bake 20 minutes, or until no longer wet-looking. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or with only a few moist crumbs. Let cookie layer cool completely in the pan on a rack. Do not remove bars from pan.

Make chocolate buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Use an offset icing knife to frost bars. I like to do this in the pan so that the edges are clean.

Use overhang to carefully lift bars onto a cutting board. Gently peel back edges of the parchment. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice into 16 squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts.

Serve squares. Store leftovers in an airtight container with wax paper between layers. They will keep at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.Chocolate Chip Cookie SquaresChocolate Chip Cookie SquaresChocolate Chip Cookie Squares

Friday Favorites: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a divisive occasion, but whether you love it or hate it, it’s a week away. I, for one, think any excuse to show people you love them is a good one, and you won’t be surprised to learn that I express love primarily through food (and videos of dogs on Instagram).

Here are some of my favorite treats from Valentine’s Days past. Look out for a new one next Wednesday!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayRed Velvet Cheesecake Bars

I may associate red velvet with Oscar Night, but most bakers like to make it for Valentine’s Day. These bars are much simpler to make than the traditional cake, and bypass the frosting in favor of a thick layer of cheesecake.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayStrawberry Sugar Cookie Squares

I’ll never understand why strawberries are so popular for Valentine’s Day. Who wants to eat a flavorless February strawberry?! That said, freeze-dried strawberries are good year-round, especially when pulverized and mixed into soft sugar cookie squares and buttercream. They provide both flavor and color here—these are food coloring-free!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate-Covered Strawberry Buttercreams

Speaking of strawberry buttercream, that’s the name and filling of these homemade candies! The frosting is made and chilled before being scooped, rolled, and enrobed in dark chocolate.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayCoconut Cluster Brownies

I have a bit of a thing for cheap drugstore chocolate, which is exactly what inspired the milk chocolate-coconut candy layered on top of these brownies. I’ll take these over a heart-shaped box any day of the week!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread

These Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread hearts are one of my favorite recipes on this site. They’re simple to make and the flavors are universally loved, and while you can make them in any shape you like, I think they are particularly adorable as half-dipped hearts.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate Cut-Out Cookies

For all the class and restraint embodied in those shortbread, these cookies go in the exact opposite direction. They’re brash and bright and snarky and I l-o-v-e love them. Oh, and while icing is great, the rich chocolate cookies underneath are the real stars of the show.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Valentine’s falls on a Friday this year, and if you’re anything like me, making a fuss after a long workweek is not my idea of a good time, especially if it means I have to wear real clothes. Skip the fancy dinner and celebrate the morning after with a Chocolate Puff Pancake. It’s super delicious and easy to make and you don’t have to change out of your pajamas to make it.

Have you made any of these or any of my other Valentine’s Day recipes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayFriday Favorites: Valentine’s Day

Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints

Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsIt’s a tradition of mine to make a red velvet treat for Oscar Night, which happens to be this Sunday. It’s sort of my “thing.” Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsYes, I know the Oscars are silly, but I, too, am silly. Also, I love a theme, especially when it means I get to watch 15 or 20 movies, cheer/curse/cry at my TV and eat red velvet baked goods. There was once a whole meal I made only for this occasion, but over the years it’s been reduced down to a “red velvet something.” This is what restraint looks like for me.

As far as the red velvet something goes, it could be the classic cake or cookies or a cookie cake—it’s just got to have that perfect mix of chocolate and vanilla flavors, preferably have a cream cheese element, and be an astonishing shade of crimson. Or, as I like to explain it, it has to be red like the red carpet.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsThis year’s treat? Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints. They’re exactly what they sound like—red velvet cookies with little wells of cheesecake baked into their centers—and they are also as delicious as you’d expect. Chocolate, vanilla and tangy cheesecake are a match made in heaven. And also my kitchen. And soon, yours.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsThe base for these cookies is a slight variation on my Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookie dough; as with my sugar cookie-based thumbprints, the “variation” is a reduction of baking powder. The dough is mixed ahead of time and chilled before being scooped, formed into balls, and rolled in sugar for both texture and sparkle.

I mean, I guess you could skip the roll in sugar if you want, but you’d be missing out on a crisp sugar crust/sugar cookie/squidgy cheesecake textural experience *and* sparkle. Sparkle is very important on Oscar Night.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsNext come the thumbprints or, if you want to keep things transparent, spoon-prints. Each sugar-crusted dough ball is indented with the back of a rounded 1/2 teaspoon measure. You could, of course, do this with your thumb, but a spoon is a more accurate (and less messy) tool for the job.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsThe cookies are baked at a fairly low temperature (300F for ten minutes) before the thumbprints are deepened and widened with the back of a 1 teaspoon measure. Oh, and filled with cheesecake ♥️Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsAfter ten more minutes in the oven, the cookies will be set and the cheesecake will be a little puffy. Let them cool to room temperature—the centers will deflate a bit—before chilling for at least 45 minutes. You want those little wells of cheesecake to be nice and cold when you’re snacking on them mid-Oscar broadcast.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsIf you don’t have traditions and superstitions (and an entire friendship) based around an awards show, you can make these Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints for Valentine’s Day. They’re the right color *and* they’re full of cheesecake. Nothing says love like cheesecake.Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints

Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints
makes 3.5 dozen cookies

Cookie Dough:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon red gel food coloring

Cheesecake Filling:
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Rolling:
1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated sugar, followed by the egg, egg yolk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and gel food coloring. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Divide dough into quarters and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 300F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Make the cheesecake filling. In a small mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sugar, followed by egg yolk and vanilla. Transfer to a piping bag (or ziptop sandwich bag). Set aside.

Place rolling sugar in a small bowl.

Scoop cookie dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Roll each ball in sugar and place at least 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Use the back of a rounded 1/2 teaspoon to slowly press a well into each dough ball. They may crack a bit—just carefully press/pinch big cracks back together with your fingers.

Bake cookies 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven, then carefully press the back of a rounded 1 teaspoon measuring spoon into the centers again. Pipe cheesecake filling into each well. Carefully tap the pan on the counter a couple of times to release large air bubbles. Bake cookies another 10 minutes, until cheesecake is set and a bit puffed.

Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Cheesecake will deflate a bit. Repeat rolling and baking process with all remaining dough, letting the cookie sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Refrigerate cookies for at least 45 minutes, until chilled, before serving. Leftovers may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsRed Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsRed Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints

One Big Snickerdoodle

One Big Snickerdoodle There is a time for large-batch, super-shareable baking, and then there is the time for a cookie for one (or two, if you’re feeling generous) that can be measured in tablespoons instead of cups, mixed with a fork, and baked to crisp-chewy perfection all in the span of 25 minutes.

Mid-January is that time. I’m still not fully over the holiday food, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to skip dessert. And not some “healthy” dessert either, because I am firmly in the camp that believes a cookie should be…a cookie.One Big SnickerdoodleI started making these One Big Cookies about a year ago; you can find the chocolate chip and chocolate M&Ms versions in the archives. Those recipes are great, but find me someone who can resist the allure of this giant Snickerdoodle with its craggy top and cinnamon-sugar edges.One Big SnickerdoodleThis is a cookie designed to be made on the fly. Yes, you’ll need baking basics (sugar, butter, flour), but you likely have all of them and even if you don’t, swaps can be made in the moment. Trust me. I did nine test rounds of this recipe, so I know all the ins and outs.One Big Snickerdoodle
• Don’t have light brown sugar? Just swap it for granulated. Your cookie will be paler and slightly crisper, but it’s not a bad thing.
• If you want to make this cookie vegan, exchange the butter for an equal volume of a plant-based substitute. That’s it! All of my One Big Cookies are egg-free as water does the job just fine in small amounts, so veganizing really is that simple.One Big Snickerdoodle
• Snickerdoodles are traditionally leavened with a mix of cream of tartar (an acid) and baking soda (a base). Now, I always have a tiny jar of cream of tartar in my arsenal, but I understand that I’m unusual in that regard. If you don’t have this leavening agent around, this is one special case where you can use baking powder instead. This swap almost never works otherwise, so please don’t make a habit of it, but these One Big Cookie recipes are surprisingly resilient.One Big Snickerdoodle
• If you don’t press the dough down with the heel of your hand, nothing terrible will happen. This is purely for aesthetics, as it seems to mitigate having a giant crack in the middle.
• Yes, you can split the dough in half and make two cookies. I’m not sure on the exact bake time, but I’d start checking around 9 minutes.One Big SnickerdoodleAs you can see, adaptability is the name of the game! It’s such a rarity in baking, but this Snickerdoodle allows for it in spades. Who doesn’t need that sort of cinnamon-sugar-coated positivity in their life?

Have a great weekend, y’all!One Big Snickerdoodle

One Big Snickerdoodle
makes 1 large cookie

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoons) granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon water (not cold)
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar*
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Coating:
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

Make the dough. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together melted butter, granulated and light brown sugars. Mix in water and vanilla. Add flour, cinnamon, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt, and whisk until a dough forms; a silicone spatula may be helpful here.

Make the coating. In a small bowl, use a fork to mix together granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Use your hands to form dough into a ball. Carefully roll ball in cinnamon-sugar coating so that all sides are covered. Place on parchment and use the heel of your hand to press down gently, just so that the dough is more of a disk and less of a ball.

Bake for 13-14 minutes or until the top is craggy and appears just slightly underdone.

Let cookie cool on the pan for 5-7 minutes before using a spatula to remove it to a plate. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Note:

An equal volume of baking powder will work in place of cream of tartar. I do not recommend swapping cream of tartar and baking powder in any other recipes.One Big SnickerdoodleOne Big Snickerdoodle

Flourless Italian Rainbow Cookies

Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesI had never seen Italian Rainbow Cookies (aka Seven Layer Cookies) until I moved to New York. Come to find, they are everywhere here. I mean everywhere. Little Italy (duh), bakeries, bodegas, bagel shops, grocery stores—everywhere. I can’t go a day without seeing these festive Italian-American confections, and yet, it took me eleven years to try one.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesWhat can I say? Almond cake, jam, chocolate, food coloring—Italian Rainbow Cookies are kind of a lot. Even when I did finally try one, I wasn’t a huge fan. Most of the versions you see in NYC are mass-produced, and while they are ostensibly fine, they’re nothing to write home about. Dry, too dense, probably full of stuff that wouldn’t go in a homemade cake…Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesAll that is to say that homemade Italian Rainbow Cookies are where it’s at. Sure, they take a little more effort than popping down to the corner store and handing over some cash, but they are also infinitely better, and you don’t have to put on a coat to make them.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesMost Italian Rainbow Cookies are made from a standard torte batter that’s spiked with almond paste. Mine are different though, relying on almond flour instead. These cookies are grain-free—inclusive baking for the win!Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFor the colorful layers, I used my Flourless Almond Cake recipe as a starting point, doubled the batch, then tweaked it to use softened butter, and added almond paste and a bit of baking powder.

Once the batter is mixed up, it’s divided into three portions. One is dyed red (I like mine a bit pink), another is dyed green, and the third is left plain. They’re each baked for 10 minutes and will look super underdone when they’re ready, but a toothpick inserted in the centers should come out clean.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesThe layers are very thin and will cool quickly. Once you can handle them, spread two of them with jam and stack ‘em up so they resemble the Italian flag. Then put them in your refrigerator and weigh ‘em down for several hours. I like to leave mine in the fridge overnight—you want those layers to become besties for the resties.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesOnce the chill time is up, give each side a good swipe of dark chocolate and a chill, and then slice them into as many pieces as you like. The cookies here are 1 1/2”x1” with the total count coming out to 49. That’s enough to keep some, gift some, and still have a few to leave for Santa!Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesI know this all sounds like a lot of work, but it really happens very quickly and is pretty simple. The most taxing part is making the batter (whipped egg whites alert!) and that’s really no problem. Really, the biggest obstacles between you and a batch of homemade Flourless Italian Rainbow Cookies are time and fridge space.

If you can’t find either of those things between now and Christmas, don’t worry. New Yorkers eat them all year round, and you can, too.Flourless Italian Rainbow Cookies

Flourless Italian Rainbow Cookies {Grain-Free}
makes one 9×13 pan, 4-5 dozen cookies

6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces almond paste (not marzipan)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 cups blanched almond flour (measured by spoon & level)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5-6 drops red gel food coloring (liquid will work)
5 drops green gel food coloring (liquid will work)

For assembly:
1 10-ounce jar jam (raspberry and apricot are traditional)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Read this recipe before proceeding. None of the steps are difficult, but there are a lot of them. The active work time for this recipe is between 2-3 hours, and there is one 4 hour chill.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3* 9×13-inch pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Separate egg yolks from whites. Set whites aside in a very clean, dry bowl.

Pour sugar into a large mixing bowl. Pinch almond paste into small pieces. Turn your mixer to low and allow to mix until the largest pieces of almond paste are the size of small peas. Add butter and mix until fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing until combined. Add half the almond flour, the baking powder and salt, and beat until combined. Mix in remaining almond flour. If using a stand mixer, transfer batter to a separate bowl.

Wash and dry mixer attachments, along with a medium mixing bowl. I also like to wipe down the equipment with vinegar, just to ensure that everything is completely clean before I add the egg whites. There is no way to salvage this recipe if the egg whites are contaminated with oil, yolk, or even water.

Transfer egg whites to the very clean, dry medium mixing bowl. Use the very clean, dry electric mixer to whip them until stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.

Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the almond mixture. Gently fold half the remaining egg whites into the mixture, followed by the other half.

Divide batter into three bowls (about 1 1/4 cups batter in each). Leave one plain, dye one pink(red, and dye the remaining one green.

Taking care to wipe down silicone spatulas, spoons, etc., between colors, transfer batters to the three pans. Use an offset spatula to smooth batter to the edges of the pans, taking care to wipe it clean between colors.

Bake the pink/red and plain layers for 10-11 minutes. They will look underdone, but a toothpick inserted in the centers should come out clean. Let cool in their pans for 5 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.

Bake the green layer for 10-11 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in their pans for 5 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.

Prepare the jam. Transfer jam to a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds and stir to see if it’s loose enough to sieve. If not, microwave in 15 second increments until it is (it shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds).

Place a wire mesh sieve over a heatproof bowl. Pour warm jam into the sieve and use a spoon to press it through. Discard solids.

Assemble layers. Top the pinkish-red layer (still on the rack) with a piece of parchment. Top with a cutting board or sheet pan (top side down) over the parchment. Use both hands to grab the rack/layer/board situation and invert. Remove rack and discard pinkish-red layer’s baking parchment. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of strained jam over the entire layer.

Carefully invert plain layer over the pinkish-red layer. Peel off and discard plain layer’s baking parchment. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of jam over the entire layer.

Carefully invert green layer over the green layer over the plain layer. Peel off and discard green layer’s baking parchment. Replace with a new sheet of parchment. Place a rimmed sheet pan over the top of the parchment.

Set this entire contraption in the refrigerator. Place a few canned goods in the sheet pan to weigh down the layers. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Remove layers contraption from refrigerator. Remove weight, sheet pan and parchment over the green layer. Use a serrated knife to slice off a thin edge all the way around.

Prepare the chocolate. Combine chopped bittersweet chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, just until smooth.

Spoon half the chocolate over the green layer. Use an offset spatula to smooth it just to the edges. Use the cutting board (or sheet pan) under the layers to transfer them to the freezer* for 10 minutes, or until chocolate is set.

Remove layers from freezer. Top chocolate with a sheet of parchment. Top with a cutting board (or sheet pan) over the parchment. Use both hands to grab the cutting boards on both sides of the layers. Holding them tightly, invert. Remove cutting board and discard parchment over the pinkish-red layer.

If chocolate has cooled too much, reheat for 10-15 seconds. Spoon remaining chocolate over the pinkish-red layer. Use an offset spatula to smooth it just to the edges. Use the cutting board (or sheet pan) under the layers to transfer them to the freezer* for 10 minutes, or until chocolate is set.

Slice cookies into 1 1/2×1-inch pieces. I use a serrated knife, but press directly down instead of sawing. Wipe down knife between cuts.

Serve cookies. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container container in the refrigerator for several days. Put wax paper between layers of cookies to prevent sticking.

Note:

If you do not have 3 9×13-inch pans, you may bake the layers one at a time, washing and drying the pans between layers. Cover any batter with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until you need it.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow Cookies