omnomnom cupcakes

As someone who has a well documented penchant for cookies and an overall appreciation for yummy food it should not come as a surprise that I wholeheartedly relate to Cookie Monster’s unbridled enthusiasm for treats. I’ll bet everyone can in some capacity! Everybody’s got a vice whether it’s drinking, smoking, spending, gaming, gambling or whatever else… For me (and Cookie Monster) it is omnomnom-ing my way through a pile of goodies.

My love for food and regular practice of seeking too much comfort in its sweet nourishment have led me on my own personal journey. Over the years and with some help, I have learned to manage and maintain a healthy weight, enjoy indulgent treats in moderation and even make more informed decisions about what I splurge on.

All that being said, one thing that has NEVER wavered is my utter joy at the sight, smell and taste of a freshly baked good. Even though I have come a long way to feel in control of my cravings, it’s still not easy to eat just one! Nobody understands this and portrays this with more accuracy than my honest to goodness spirit animal, Cookie Monster.

Obviously I HAD to make this insanely adorable confection as a tribute:

omnomnom cupcakes

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First, I baked up a batch of Nestle Toll House cookies. I dropped them from a teaspoon measure and reduced the bake time by a couple of minutes in order to make perfectly delicious miniatures.

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Next, I made classic vanilla cupcakes. Any recipe would do but I knew I would be making a buttercream frosting and vanilla on vanilla always gets my vote!

I used a standard recipe for buttercream mixing in Royal Blue gel food coloring until it looked like muppet and adding sifted icing sugar in small increments until I got the right consistency for piping.

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Cookie Monster wastes no time on hair care so I went to town making his icing fur all haphazard and messy. I love when there’s no fear of messing up and such is the case with these little guys. The eyes were fashioned out of white candy melts and chocolate chips. I used a little frosting as an adhesive.

That knife in the background cut a slit so that the mini cookie could be inserted into the mini-monster’s “mouth”.

Et voila!

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reese’s pieces be nice chocolate chip cookies

Today I am feeling totally out of sorts. The truth is I have been feeling sort of blue these days. Maybe it is pure coincidence but I have been hearing all kinds of deflating stories about mean people lately.

It seems that the same bullies we witnessed as kids in our elementary school classes rear their ugly heads again in a great many of our workplace settings today.  The passive-aggressive comments, back-stabbing and cliques appear to be cropping up in my friends’ stories and my own life.

Life is so short and offers up so many uncontrollable and unforeseeable  obstacles and heartbreaks – why must anyone go out of their way to make things worse for another person? The only consistent explanation I can come up with is that this bad behavior almost always comes from a place of deep insecurity.

I am certainly not perfect, but I am no bully. When I feel insecure but not quite ready to deal with my feelings – I EAT them! That’s right. I’m not saying that it’s a great coping mechanism but it is effective in extreme situations and far nicer than making someone else feel awful.

Getting home from work tonight I couldn’t even make it all the way into my pajamas. A silky sleep shirt and tights was the haphazard and incomplete look that reflected my mood perfectly. I decided to bake up a batch of cookies that I will bring to work tomorrow. Hopefully my crusty coworkers will benefit from my therapy of choice – cookies.

I had a bag of Reese’s Mini Pieces on hand and decided to mix them with chocolate chips and stuff them into GIGANTIC cookies. The kind so big and scrumptious that they make your mouth too full to say mean sh*t!

Here is the recipe I threw together for Reese’s Pieces Be Nice Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 package Reese’s Mini Pieces, or about 2 cups of regular Reese’s Pieces
  • 1 package of chocolate chips, I used milk chocolate… and ate a bunch before they made their way into the dough…

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

Mix flour, baking soda and baking powder together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Next, beat butter with sugars together. When this mixture looks light and creamy, add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined.

Add the flour combo in thirds and mix until flour disappears.

Dump the Reese’s and chocolate chips into the dough and work them in until they are evenly dispersed.

Use a quarter measuring cup to scoop uniform balls of dough onto a lined cookie sheet, leaving about two inches of space in between.

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Bake for approximately 12 minutes and allow to cool on a wire rack … before taste testing at least one cookie from each tray that comes out of the oven:)

I made some smaller cookies by using a tablespoon to measure out a consistent size and baked them at the same temp for 9 minutes.

hamantaschen-ish

Between my husband, myself and my family, we celebrate pretty much every major holiday. This means lots of traditions shared and a great deal of feasting! Easter and Passover are just around the corner but this week I hosted a small gathering in honour of the Jewish holiday, Purim. 

Acknowledging Purim entails listening to the story of the holiday, giving to charity, sending gifts of food and having a big feast that usually includes Hamantaschen (triangular shaped cookies filled with one of many fillings). Some even dress up in costume, traditionally as the heroes of the Purim story.

Stories, helping others in need, baking for friends, eating cookies, AND an excuse to top my pajamas off with a Queen Esther crown? This is my kind of holiday!

This was my first attempt ever at making Hamantaschen from scratch and was a delectable failure! All of the elements were spot on but the triangular cookies I carefully placed in the oven opened up during baking. Sad face.

They ended up looking somewhat like confused thumbprint jam cookies but tasted like Hamantaschen heaven. No lie. Yum!

The moral of this baking story? Don’t worry too much about messing up or making mistakes. Have fun, use yummy ingredients and you might end up with a perfect dessert or a perfectly delicious mess!

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Here is the simple recipe I like to use for Hamantaschen dough, it is not overly sweet and balances perfectly with whatever decadent filling you choose. I used a simple and traditional prune filling for some and a new-school toffee cheesecake filling for others (recipe down below).

Hamantaschen Cookie Dough:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
Beat the butter and cream cheese together until light and creamy. Slowly add the flour and sugar until fully combined. Finally, form the dough into a ball, wrap tightly and chill overnight.
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Let the dough ball rest at room temperature for 30 minutes and then roll it out to approximately 1/4″ thickness. Using a 3″ round cutter, or in my case the top of a drinking glass, cut out circles.

As is the case with any rolled cookie, remove the surrounding scraps of dough to be re-rolled for more cookies.

Place a small dollop of filling in the centre of each cut circle.

Next, fold one edge of the circle inward to begin making a triangle. As you fold each third pinch the corners together with a drop of water to ensure a tight seal. This may be where I seriously dropped the ball!

Bake them at 400 F for 12-15 minutes, until they start to look slightly golden.

In any case, I served them up with a sense of humour and a pot of coffee and they were ALL gobbled up by the end of the night. Turns out looks aren’t everything!

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The cream cheese filling was an experiment and a total hit. It can be piped into cupcakes, stuffed into cookies or scooped up on a graham cracker. It’s like cheesecake’s answer to Nutella.

To make it:

  • 1 cup or 8 ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup toffee bits, approximately

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together until the mixture looks well combined and irresistibly smooth. Stir in as many toffee bits as you like.

reverse chocolate chunk cookies

Sunday night is almost always a baking night for me. I am usually bummed about the weekend being over and somehow the whole creative process and subsequent snacking process both work wonders, easing my transition to Monday.

Tonight’s creation is feeding a group of hungry artists. Seriously. I decided to make something traditional but unconventional, classic but unexpected. What could fit the bill more appropriately than a reverse chocolate chunk cookie?

There is nothing too extraordinary about this recipe but I firmly believe that oftentimes, the very best (not to mention yummiest) things are the most simple. These cookies boast big chunks of velvety white chocolate that burst through a rich dark chocolate base. They are a little puffy, a little chewy, and a lot delishy.

Mushy PJs? Check. Apron? Check. Here is  my recipe of choice for:

Reverse Chocolate Chunk Cookies:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6-8 ounces of white chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until the mixture is fully combined, light and fluffy.

Add in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Mix in vanilla and instant coffee granules.

In a separate bowl, stir to combine cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and baking soda.

Slowly, adding in thirds, add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined.

Fold in white chocolate chunks until evenly distributed.

Drop tablespoon-sized scoops of dough onto lined cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack.

Finally, marvel at how incredible you are for turning ordinary ingredients into a delightful concoction, and celebrate that you did it all in the comfort of your jammies! Then, if you’re feeling so inclined, take a couple of them to munch on in bed and enjoy a sweet, sweet end to the weekend… …that is my plan anyhow!