Tag Archives: father’s day

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​

By now, you all know I love a cookie cake. I mean, what’s not to love about a giant shareable cookie with a frosted edge?!

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​

I’ve made all the classic flavors at this point: chocolate chip, double chocolate, red velvet, Funfetti. They are all wonderful, but sometimes I want a cookie cake that’s a little more…niche. Like one that tastes exactly like the signature banana pudding cookies from my favorite bakery in New York City.

As Shakespeare said, specificity is the soul of good baking. Or something like that.

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​

You may notice that there isn’t any boxed pudding mix in this banana pudding dessert. Instead, the dough contains the three primary ingredients in instant pudding mix: sugar, cornstarch, and powdered milk. When combined with the banana, vanilla, and white chocolate, they perfectly mimic the flavor of classic banana pudding.

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​

This Banana Pudding Cookie Cake is a dreamy dessert year-round, but is somehow especially good in summer. I mean, think about it. Banana pudding is a classic summertime dessert, right? Well, take all that banana-vanilla loveliness, add some white chocolate chips, and bake it into a giant cookie. Finish it off with a vanilla buttercream border, then slice it up and prepare to be both shocked and delighted that it tastes *exactly* like the best cookies in NYC…which taste *exactly* like banana pudding.

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​
Banana Pudding Cookie Cake
makes 1 9-inch round cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
~1 1/2 medium very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips + more for topping

For decoration:
Vanilla Buttercream (recipe below)
white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, non-fat dry milk powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Whisk together melted butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Whisk in egg, followed by mashed banana and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients, then fold in 1 cup white chocolate chips. Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 28-30 minutes, or until the top is no longer jiggly & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not batter). Top with more white chocolate chips for aesthetics, if desired.

Let cookie cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan before inverting the cake onto the rack. Revert onto a serving plate. Decorate with Vanilla Buttercream and sprinkles as desired.

Decorated cake will keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Vanilla Buttercream
makes enough for 2 dozen cookie cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner's sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

In a medium-large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner's sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Add heavy cream by the tablespoon until desired consistency is reached.

How to pipe: Stand a piping bag fitted with a coupler and star tip in a tall cup and fold any bag overhang over the outside. Use a silicone spatula or spoon to “load” 1/3-1/2 of the buttercream into the bag. Unfold bag overhang and lift piping bag out the cup.

Press frosting toward the tip. Twist bag overhang closed and hold tight between your thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand, letting the main portion of the bag be held by your palm and remaining fingers. Use your non-dominant hand to tap the bag a couple of times to dislodge any air bubbles. Pipe a dab or two of frosting onto a surface or small plate, just to get the buttercream going in the right direction.

Pipe a buttercream border onto the cookie cake, refilling the bag if/when necessary.

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats​

I’m on a bit of a freeze dried strawberry kick these days. While fresh are delicious and plentiful this time of year, they can be finicky in baking due to their high moisture content, so I tend to keep bags of freeze dried around no matter the season. Want a big burst of strawberry flavor in a cookie or cake or pastry without reformulating the recipe? Freeze dried strawberries to the rescue!

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats​

Now, we’re not actually baking today—just making a pan of Rice Krispies Treats—but freeze dried strawberries still give these sweets a huge punch of flavor. And that’s to say nothing of their berry pink color! Oh yes, these are about as strawberry as it gets.

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats​

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats are a snap (…crackle…pop?) to put together. Their ingredients list is short and sweet, as is the amount of time you’ll need to make them. Like the classic recipe, these treats come together in a single pot on the stove in less than ten minutes.

Start by melting some butter with some crushed freeze dried strawberries and salt. Add some marshmallows and let them melt before folding in the Rice Krispies cereal and a cup of white chocolate chips. The white chocolate will mostly melt, leaving the treats with a creamy texture…and the occasional pocket of white chocolate nestled in all that strawberry crunch.

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats​

The most time consuming portion of this whole operation is waiting for the treats to cool enough to slice. I used an 8” square pan for thicker treats, so cooling takes a bit longer than it would if you went for a 9×13” pan. Whatever your preference, I highly encourage you to decorate the tops of your treats with more freeze dried strawberries and white chocolate chips—pretty food is just more fun to eat, ya know?!

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats are perfect for picnics and cookouts, but quick and easy enough to whip up the minute a craving strikes. And, oh, the craving will strike.

Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats​
Strawberry Rice Krispies Treats
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan, about 16 treats

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1.2 ounce bag freeze dried strawberries (~1 1/2 cups pieces), pulverized
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows (mini or regular)
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup white chocolate chips

For garnish (optional):
1/2 cup freeze dried strawberry pieces, whole
white chocolate chips

This recipe makes thick Rice Krispies treats. For thin treats, use a 9x13-inch pan.

Heavily butter an 8-or 9-inch square pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on two sides for removal.

Place butter and pulverized freeze dried strawberries in a medium heavy-bottomed pot. Place pot over medium heat, stirring frequently until butter is melted and strawberries have soaked much of it up. Add mini marshmallows and salt, and stir constantly until melted. Remove pan from heat and stir in Rice Krispies cereal. Fold in white chocolate chips.

Transfer cereal to prepared pan. Use greased implements or hands (be careful—the mixture is hot!) to press the mixture into an even layer. Immediately garnish by pressing in freeze dried strawberries and/or scattering on white chocolate chips. Let cool completely.

When ready to serve, run a thin knife along the edges of the pan for easy release. Use the parchment overhang to lift the treats onto a cutting board and use a sharp knife to slice them into squares. Serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Freeze dried strawberry garnish will soften over time, but not in an unpleasant way.

Pecan Sandies

Pecan SandiesWhen the folks at Fisher Nuts gifted me a bag of their delicious pecan halves a few weeks ago, the first recipe that came to mind was Pecan Sandies.Pecan SandiesThere was a package of storebought Pecan Sandies in our pantry for my entire childhood, but I never cared for them. In fact, the kindest thing I can think to say about them is that they were inoffensive. These shortbread were too hard, flavorless at best, and seriously lacking in pecans for something with the word “pecan” in their name…but they’d do if there were no other desserts available.Pecan SandiesI remember going into the pantry to grab a snack and eyeing that package of cookies—who in their right mind would buy those over and over again?!

My dad. That’s who. I can’t tell you when or why he started eating Pecan Sandies, but I can’t see the packaging without thinking of him.Happy Father’s DayMy dad’s a great guy. He’s sweet, he’s smart. He looks great in a hat. He took us to a gazillion baseball games, danced with me in six of my dance recitals (once in tights), and tried to teach me to golf for years in hopes that I’d ever be good enough to play with him (I’m not). He’s the kind of guy who uses pecan halves to write your name on brownies on your 35th birthday and then sends you a video of your family singing “Happy Birthday to You” and blowing out candles in your honor, even though you are halfway across the country and unable to travel due to a pandemic.

Y’all, my dad deserves better Pecan Sandies.Pecan SandiesLucky for him, they’re easy to make and far superior to anything on store shelves. We’re talking thick, rich, buttery shortbread loaded with chopped toasted pecans. They’re crunchy with ever-so-slightly soft centers and a sort of smooth meltaway quality (sandiness?) from the addition of confectioner’s sugar. That’s a long way of saying that they’re very good.Pecan SandiesThe dough is a seven ingredient slice-and-bake situation loaded with real butter and toasted chopped pecans. It comes together quickly, but does require a two hour chill, so plan ahead. Once it’s nice and cold though, you’re just twenty minutes away from the best dang Pecan Sandies you’ve ever had.Pecan SandiesPecan SandiesThe recipe makes three dozen and they keep like a dream for days on end. If you’re a better daughter (or son or child) than I am, these would be perfect for sending to your dad on Father’s Day. Unfortunately for my dad, I’m terrible with anything involving the post office, so he’s getting something I can order online that will not make it on time. Ah, well.Pecan SandiesHappy Father’s Day to everyone celebrating, especially my sweet dad. He loves all his daughters, but I think the dog is his favorite. Pecan Sandies

Pecan Sandies
makes 36 cookies

1 cup raw pecan halves
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 300F. Place pecans on a cutting board and use a large, sharp chef’s knife to chop them finely. Place them on a dry rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes, until fragrant and toasted. Let cool completely.

Place softened butter in a medium-large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat it until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add granulated and confectioner’s sugars and mix until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and salt. With the mixer on low, beat in flour. Dough will be crumbly looking, but should hold together very well when pinched. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in chopped pecans.

Divide dough in half. Take one half and lay it on a piece of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap and clean hands, form the dough into a log (roughly 8 1/2 x 1 1/2-inches) and wrap tightly. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 325F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Remove one log of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it and place it on a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice the dough into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place them 1 1/2-2 inches apart on prepared pans. Refrigerate any leftover dough between batches.

Bake cookies for 18-20 minutes minutes, rotating the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back at the halfway point. Let cool on the pans for 10 minutes before using a thin spatula (not your fingers!) to remove cookies to cooling racks to cool completely. Repeat slicing and baking processes with any remaining dough. Serve.

Shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.Pecan SandiesPecan SandiesPecan Sandies

Brown Butter Strawberry Shortcakes

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesFather’s Day is coming up! Normally, I would write a sappy post about my dad (he’s a great guy–see here and here), but he’s a little Internet shy. I don’t blame him. So, instead of writing about him and a dessert he would love, I’m going in the opposite direction.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesMy dad doesn’t care for strawberries, so in order to keep him out of this post, I am bringing you Strawberry Shortcakes. But not just any old strawberry shortcakes–these little guys are made with brown butter. See those gorgeous golden brown biscuits? They’re full of the stuff.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesSo, how exactly does one make biscuits with brown butter? Well, logically, you start by browning the butter. Place a stick of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, and then babysit it. No, helicopter parent it. It will melt and bubble and sputter for a few minutes, and you need to be swirling it frequently. Don’t leave the room, don’t check your work emails, don’t strike up a conversation with your roommate. You need to watch that butter. Just when you think it’s not going to do anything beyond splatter your stovetop, the solids in it will turn brown and give off an incredibly rich, nutty aroma. That’s how you’ll know it’s ready. Immediately pour it into a little bowl–don’t let it sit in the pan or it will burn. Burnt butter is not delicious.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesOnce that brown butter isn’t searing hot anymore, place it in the fridge. Unlike most recipes calling for brown butter, this recipe will not work if the butter is liquid. For our biscuits to be flaky (instead of brown butter-flavored hockey pucks), it needs to solidify and be very cold. This will take a few hours. I recommend browning the butter the night before you want to use it. That way there’s no waiting the next day.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesMaking brown butter biscuits is a lot like making Buttermilk Biscuits. Whisk together flour, baking powder, a few tablespoons of brown sugar (these are decidedly sweet), and a touch of salt. Use a pastry blender or your fingertips to cut the cold brown butter into the dry ingredients, before stirring in some cold half-and-half. I don’t recommend using milk in this recipe. When the butter browns, its water content evaporates. Using a liquid with a higher fat content helps restore some of that lost moisture.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesBrown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesTurn the dough onto a floured surface. Pat it out and give it a few folds to ensure flakiness before cutting it into rounds. Pat your leftovers back together and cut them again–you should get about a dozen biscuits. Place them close together on a lined baking sheet, brush them with more half-and-half and sprinkle coarse sugar over the tops. Bake them for 12-14 minutes, just until puffed and golden.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesWhile the biscuits are baking, fold together a ton of sliced strawberries and a bit of sugar. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and let them sit. This is called macerating–it will allow the berries to release a lot of moisture, creating a delicious strawberry syrup. The longer they sit, the more liquid there will be. The strawberries pictured only sat for half an hour, but you can do this up to a day in advance; just let the berries macerate in the fridge.

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesBrown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesWhen your biscuits are cool and your strawberries are to your liking, whip some cream. Slice the biscuits in half and layer them with the strawberries and whipped cream–there are no hard and fast rules about how much of each, at least as far as I’m concerned. Just pile them up how you like them, and then dig in!

Brown Butter Strawberry ShortcakesY’all, these Brown Butter Strawberry Shortcakes are in. sane. INSANE. Beyond the absolute perfection that is the combination of strawberries and whipped cream, there are the incredible brown butter biscuits. They are lightly sweet, but rich from the brown sugar and the nutty brown butter. Layered with the berries and cream–well, they’re about as wonderful as strawberry shortcake gets. Even my dad might like ‘em.Brown Butter Strawberry Shortcakes

Brown Butter Strawberry Shortcakes
makes 12 servings

Brown Butter:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

Brown Butter Biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup brown butter, solid, very cold
2/3-3/4 cup half-and-half, very cold, plus more for brushing
1 tablespoon coarse sugar (like turbinado), for sprinkling

Strawberries:
1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 4-5 cups)
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a small bowl. Let the butter cool to room temperature before refrigerating until solid and very cold, several hours or overnight.

Make the biscuits. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt. Add cold brown butter. Use a pastry blender or clean fingertips to cut the butter into the flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in 2/3 cup half-and-half. Add more half-and-half by the tablespoon (up to 2 tablespoons), until no unincorporated bits remain.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Pat it to 1/2-inch thickness. Fold it in half and give it a quarter turn (more details on this process here). Repeat patting and folding until you have done it 3-4 times total. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut biscuits. Pat scraps back together and cut a few more. Place biscuits close together on the prepared pan. Brush them with more half-and-half and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 12-14 minutes, until puffed and golden. Let biscuits cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature.

While the biscuits are baking, fold strawberries and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for up to an hour. This may also be done a day in advance–just let the strawberries macerate in the refrigerator.

When the biscuits are cool and the strawberries are ready, whip the cream. In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar. Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to whip cream until soft peaks form.

Assemble shortcakes. Slice biscuits in half. Lay the bottom half of a biscuit on a plate. Top with strawberries and whipped cream. Place the top half of the biscuit over the top. Spoon on more strawberries and whipped cream. Repeat with remaining biscuits. Serve immediately.

Brown Butter Strawberry Shortcakes

Chocolate Chip-Pecan Brown Butter Blondies

 Father’s Day is this Sunday, and I’ve been thinking all day about what I would say about my dad. I mean, I’ve already said a lot–I wrote about him in my first blog post. But he’s such a great guy, I had to give him another. 

My dad is the kind of guy who taught his three daughters how to play golf, throw a baseball, and shoot hoops. But he also did the Father-Kid number at my dance recitals for seven years straight (and once in tights).

He works really hard and is always trying to better himself–intellectually, physically, in his chosen field, in relationships, you name it. His tagline is “Always go forward.” And he means it. Thank goodness that’s the line he uses most frequently–I don’t know how I would have worked “See that? *points to glass* That’s glass,” into this post. 

While my dad has had some success in his life, he is also one of the humblest people I’ve ever met. You can congratulate him on something he’s achieved and, after he thanks you, he’ll immediately turn the conversation to you and what you are achieving. This is something I try to emulate in every interaction I have.

I could go on and on about him, but let me just say this: my dad is a kind, sweet, compassionate, generous person. He has ambition coming out his ears. He loves my mom, his daughters, his friends, and his dog fiercely. If I become half the person he is, I will consider myself the luckiest girl on earth. 

My dad loves chocolate, especially brownies, and he always tops them with pecans that get super toasty while they bake. I’ve already made a pecan-topped brownie recipe on here though, so today, we’re going with blondies. But not just any blondies: Chocolate Chip-Pecan Brown Butter Blondies. They’re super chewy, filled with melty chocolate, and extra nutty from the toasted pecans and brown butter. 

I know my dad would love these and they’re so simple, he might even try to make them. The recipe only has eight ingredients and doesn’t require a mixer. It can be made start-to-finish in about forty minutes! The hardest part is browning the butter, and that takes almost no effort at all. You could make these blondies with regular melted butter and they would be great, but by taking the time to brown it, you add tons of rich, nutty flavor to the finished product. 

Browning butter is mostly letting butter melt over a burner and then letting it continue to cook until it turns a lovely shade of amber. The only real tip I have is not to take your eyes off the pan. Do not step away from the pan, even for a second. Butter can go from brown to burnt in the blink of an eye, and there are few things I hate more than wasting good ingredients.

To brown butter, start by melting a stick of butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Make sure to use a silver or white pan so you can clearly see the butter browning. Once the butter melts, it will start to bubble and crackle. Don’t be alarmed–this is just the water content evaporating. Once the crackling stops, swirl the pan occasionally for 4-7 minutes. You’ll see the milk solids in the butter gradually start to brown. You’ll know your brown butter is ready when you smell the most amazing, deeply nutty, buttery aroma coming from the pan. At this point, turn off the heat and pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl. That’s it!

Mix your brown butter with brown sugar, an egg, some vanilla, flour, and salt. Fold in some toasted pecans and chocolate chips before spreading the batter into a pan and baking it for 20 minutes. Let the blondies cool to room temperature before slicing and serving. 

If I were going to be anywhere near the great state of Texas this weekend, I’d make these Chocolate Chip-Pecan Brown Butter Blondies and serve them warm with ice cream, just how my dad likes his brownies. They’re fantastic at room temperature too, and perfect for packing into a box to deliver to all the great dads in your life.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddio! 

 Chocolate Chip-Pecan Brown Butter Blondies
makes one 8×8″ pan, about 9-16 blondies

1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with butter, and dust with flour. Set aside.

Toast the pecans. Place pecans on a dry baking sheet. Place in the oven for 4-5 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool completely.

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 4-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a large mixing bowl.

Add brown sugar to the brown butter and stir to combine (it will be thick and look like wet sand). Whisk in egg and vanilla. Use a silicone spatula to stir in flour and salt, scraping down the bowl as needed. Stir in chocolate chips and toasted pecans.

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Let blondies cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan to release them (they should be sturdy enough to lift out of the pan in one piece). Slice and serve.

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