Category Archives: Cookies

Abuelita Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream


While travelling in Mexico during my college years,  I always enjoyed having Mexican hot chocolate at breakfast.  It’s tastier than its American counterpart and has subtle notes of cinnamon.  Then, many years later after moving to NYC, I discovered that the little bodega on our corner had the Abuelita chocolate disks, so I happily started making Mexican hot chocolate at home.

Nowadays, you can find these disks (the other common brand is Ibarra) in the international foods section of large grocery stores.

In fact, my sister-in-law in Gurnee, IL who didn’t know we could get it here sent us about 10 boxes after we commented how much we loved it while visiting during Thanksgiving!

So good on a cold day…

Since it’s been so hot these days, we’ve been enjoying lots of yummy home made cold treats like smoothies, soft serve “ice cream”, and rocket pops.  Hot chocolate hasn’t made the cut!  I decided to make ice cream instead because I had some heavy cream I needed to use up (I mixed it with milk to make half and half).

This recipe is based on one in Gourmet magazine (Feb. 2003).  It’s an egg based ice cream, but since it requires whole eggs, instead of just the yolks,  it’s not as heavy as your usual custard based ice creams.  It’s closer to a gelato.  The flavor is wonderful too.

Abuelita Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream

3 3/4 cups half and half

3  1/2 disks Abuelita (or Ibarra) chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Heat half and half, chocolate, and cinnamon in a large saucepan over moderate heat.  Whisk until chocolate dissolves.  Bring to a boil; remove from heat.

2.  Whisk eggs with a pinch of salt in a large heat proof bowl.  Add a few cups of  the hot chocolate* slowly* to the egg mixture while whisking.  Add the rest of the chocolate and continue to whisk.  Add vanilla. Stir to incorporate.

3.  Transfer to a clean saucepan and heat over low to moderate heat for about 5 minutes, or until mixture is 175 (F) degrees.  It will thicken and coat the spoon.

4.  Immediately strain into a large bowl set over another larger bowl of ice water.  Don’t skip this step!

5.  Chill mixture until cool and then churn  according to ice cream maker instructions. (The original recipe calls for churning right after, but I find that the heat impedes the ice cream making process which results in “soupy” ice cream.)

Makes about 4 cups.

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Boys Can Bake Too (and Create Candy Sushi)!

Do you remember Easy Bake Ovens?  They still make them, though I don’t know if they still are pink or have pink trim (they probably do).  My son wanted one for Christmas/Hannukah last year, and I said, “No, Hon.” But not because it is marketed as a “girl toy”.  It’s because we have a really great Cuisinart toaster oven with convection feature and “we don’t need no stinkin’ Easy Bake Oven” that probably has a light bulb to bake miniature cakes!

Instead we gave him this bake set I got a long time ago at FAO Schwarz when he was a baby and had completely forgotten about.  I always dreamed of baking with him even before he could talk.  Lucky for me, seven years later, he loves to bake!   So I was really happy when I rediscovered this set buried in Denis’ closet.

Glad J didn't notice the gender stereotyping on package!

It irritated me that it was marketed only to girls, but luckily, Jamie didn’t seem to notice or care. At least the packaging wasn’t all pink and magenta…  We quickly dumped the box, and I put the utensils in a bag to be stored in my baking cabinet.

The Boutique Bakery set includes a spatula, a whisk, a rolling pin, mixing bowls, a wooden spoon, a muffin tin, three bread pans, cookie cutters, toothpicks (for testing) and muffin liners — all mini sized!

To test out the set, we first made a Mini Chocolate Loaf.  I used Anna’s recipe from Cookie Madness and halved it.  Instead of ganache, we just covered the loaves with chocolate chips.  We baked it in the Cuisinart and I let him press the buttons to set the temperature.

The Mini Chocolate Loaf came out out beautifully.  The crumb was moist, the flavor great, and because it was so small, it was the perfect size for all three of us.

Then, the last week,  I discovered a half batch of  cookie dough buried not in our closet (yikes!) but in our freezer from the holidays!  Do you see a pattern here…?  I thawed it in the refrigerator, and when Jamie had a play date with his friend, Lucas (who also loves to bake) we used it to make cookies.  The child sized rolling pin was perfect for rolling out their doughs.  I had them working on parchment paper and covered the dough with saran wrap to keep it from sticking.  Then they cut out shapes using the mini cookie cutters from the bake set.  I chilled the dough for awhile, then baked them.

Sprinkles decorating station

For decorating, I was too lazy to make frosting, and I was planning to use Nutella instead, when I discovered someone had been eating it late at night so we didn’t have enough… So we improvised and used raspberry preserves instead.  It actually tasted quite delicious in place of frosting or Nutella!

Some of the boys' decorated cookies

Though it isn’t really baking per se, Jamie requested that I share his most recent sweet creation on my blog.  I aspire to avoid being one of those parents who think everything their kid does is amazing, so I don’t put everything up that he wants me to, believe me!  But this one was kind of cute and it ties into this theme of cooking not being a girls only activity. And he came up with the whole thing independently of me (I was otherwise occupied with my daily Ken Ken!)

I present to you — Jamie’s Candy Sushi:


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I guess it says something about our household that we have a ton of random candy lying around — mostly due to Denis who has a wicked sweet tooth!  We keep it in a container with the marshmallows.  So the other night, Jamie asked if he could have a marshmallow, an orange jelly candy, one Lindt truffle, and two chocolate sticks.  Typing it all out, it sounds like an outrageous amount of sugar, but they were all pretty small! The next thing I knew, he was cutting the marshmallow, truffle, and orange candy into pieces  and making a “tableau” as he called it.  It turned out to be dessert sushi.

chopsticks are edible!

I’m so glad I have a little baker who shares my passion for creating yummy things in the kitchen!

Chocolate Mini Loaf

Adapted from Cookie Madness

I halved the recipe, used milk in place of buttermilk and omitted chocolate ganache.

nonstick spray
1.4 cup cake flour (2 oz.)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (2.25 oz.)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon lightly beaten egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brewed coffee, cooled
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
 
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Spray one 3×5 inch mini loaf pan nonstick spray (I also lined the bottom with parchment paper).
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in small yet deep mixing bowl and stir very well. Add the soft butter and mix with the flour mixture. Stir in the milk. Stir mixture vigorouslyfor about two minutes, scraping sides of bowl, until smooth.
  3. Mix the lightly beaten egg, vanilla and cooled coffee together in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add to the batter in three parts, stirring gently with a spoon until mixed. Stir in half of the chocolate chips. Then sprinkle remaining chips on top.  Bake on center rack at 325 F for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan set on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then carefully turn from pan.

Dessert Sushi

Adapted from Jamie

1 Marshmallow

1 Lindt White Chocolate Truffle

1 Orange jelly candy or other soft candy, cut into pieces

2 chocolate sticks (Pocky would work too)

1.  Cut marshmallow and truffle in half.
2.  Scoop out some of the filling from the truffle and  set aside.

3.  Top marshmallow with candy pieces.  Then top with filling from truffle.

4.  Eat with chocolate sticks

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Ancient Egypt Inspired Fig and Date Swirl Cookies

With the holiday season in full swing and various book events and work projects on the table, I haven’t had a chance to do my Bonanza Cookie Baking Spree I do annually this time of year (I did barely manage to find time to make some Spritz Christmas cookies with my son, and some Turtle Brownies and Hidden Surprise Cookies that I make every year but that’s about it).

My son’s 2nd grade class had their Holiday Sing and holiday party last week, and winter break is here already!

His class has been studying Ancient Egypt all fall so the end of term potluck party theme was “Food Ancient Egyptians Might Have Eaten” (honey, pomegranites, figs, dates, etc.)  So with this in mind, I brought Fig and Date Swirl Cookies.

The recipe is based on a 2005 Gourmet recipe for Fig Swirls.  The original shape was an “S”, but the last time I made these, I found them to be too big and too delicate. So this time, I made mini swirls, which encourages people at a potluck (who also have glazed Dunkin’ Doughnut holes  as options!) to eat them, since they are bite sized!

I substituted a mixture of figs, dates, prunes, dried cranberries, and golden raisins instead of just all figs because that’s what I had on hand.  The resulting flavor was great and more complex than the fig only version.  So that was a happy surprise.  Another substitution I made was to use mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese, because I didn’t have any cream cheese (can you see a theme here?)  I had heard it is possible to substitute these cheeses with each other in some cases.  It produced a rich buttery dough in this cookie.

Making these cookies reminded me of sushi.  You roll out the dough into two 10″ x 4″ ( because I wasn’t making “S” shapes) rectangles.  Cover each rectangle with fruit filling, leaving a border at the top.

The orange zest and cinnamon in the fruit filling is a wonderful addition!

Then you roll up the logs starting from the long side closest to you just like sushi.  You can wrap them in saran,  put them in a freezer bag, and freeze them at this point if you like.  I cut the rolls in half for easy storage.  When you are ready to bake them, just cut into slices and bake!

They are a perfect holiday cookie since you can make a batch in advance and make fresh batches as needed throughout the holiday season. 🙂

Fig and Date Swirl Cookies

Adapted from Gourmet 2005 (Fig Swirl Cookies)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened

4 oz cream cheese (or mascarpone cheese) at room temperature

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup packed soft dried Mission figs or combination of figs and dates and other fruits (8 oz), hard tips discarded

3/4 cup mild honey

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 teaspoons grated fresh orange zest

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Make dough:
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Pulse butter, cheese, yolk, and vanilla in a food processor until smooth, then add flour mixture and pulse until dough just forms a ball.

Halve dough and form each half into a roughly 6- by 2-inch rectangle. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 1/2 hours.

Make filling:
Purée figs and other dried fruit, honey, juice, zest, and cinnamon in cleaned food processor until almost smooth.

Make logs:
Roll out 1 piece of dough between 2 sheets of wax paper into a 10- by 4-inch rectangle (about 1/3 inch thick), long side facing you. Remove top sheet of wax paper and gently spread one half of fig mixture over bottom half of dough, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Using wax paper as an aid, roll dough, jelly-roll style enclosing fig mixture. Make another log. Chill logs, wrapped in wax paper, until firm, at least 4 hours.  I cut my logs in half so they would fit in the freezer at this point.

Bake cookies:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut logs crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices and arrange slices about 2 inches apart on parchment paper (don’t use Silpat!  My first batch stuck to it – perhaps I need a new mat… ). Bake until pastry is pale golden, 12 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.

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DIY Nagini (Lord Voldemort’s Serpent) Costume, Flesh Wounds, and Other Halloween Fun Stuff

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Copyright 2011 Melissa Iwai

I was never much of a Halloween person.  I don’t particularly enjoy dressing up.  I don’t eat a lot of candy.  Then ever since Jamie, I guess it’s become fun and exciting again.  We made Graveyard Cups the other day with leftover gingerbread I made into tombstones.  We used leftover fondant to make creepy creatures in the graveyard.

Gravestone says: RIP

On Saturday, we trudged in the snow to get a pumpkin at the Farmer’s Market only to find that they were packing up at 11:30 am (I didn’t blame them!), so we got a small one at Trader Joe’s instead.  To continue with my son’s obsession with all things Harry Potter, I carved a Harry Potter face (he drew the design beforehand).

Surprised Harry

I roasted the seeds from the pumpkin.  Yum!

I’ve also been dabbling in gory makeup techniques.  This guy has a great tutorial on making flesh wounds.  I didn’t have liquid latex and tried using liquid frisket which I use sometimes in my work.  It was perfect!  I layered frisket and thin pieces of torn tissue on my hand, letting it dry after each layer.  Then I cut out a wound with scissors.  I applied foundation and eye shadow to the area and filled the “wound” with fake blood.

Disgusting, eh?

I plan to make more on my face and be a flesh eaten zombie.

Jamie, on the other hand, decided awhile ago that he wanted to be Nagini, Lord Voldemort’s serpent.  I think it’s because he always loved the name.  Denis made up a song about her sung to the tune of the Hayden’s Surprise Symphony:

Malfoy’s Manor is the place

Where Nagini stuffs her face,

Doesn’t matter where you’re from

She will eat you up — yum!

Of course there’s no way I was going to find a Nagini costume to buy, so I made one for him out of a grey hoodie, a ping pong ball, and some felt.  You could easily make another kind of animal using the same technique — an alligator, lizard, even some mammals with some improvisation (e.g. adjusting color of hoodie and the felt and how you drew the eyes)!

He's also wearing grey sweat pants which we obviously need to retire!

Hope everyone has a Happy and Safe Halloween! 🙂

DIY Nagini (Serpent) Costume

You’ll need:
– a hoodie

-paper

-pencil

-scissors

-pins

-thread

-sewing needle

-large piece of felt for the snake pattern

-white felt

-red felt

-1 ping pong ball

-thick needle

-yellow highlighting pen

-black marker

-a large

1.  Trace a snake pattern on paper that fits the spine of the hoodie.  I just did a simple diamond shape with stripes to go behind the eyes.

2.  Pin to a large piece of felt.  Cut out.  Sew onto spine of hoodie.

3.  Cut a ping pong ball in half.  Punch holes around bottom with a large needle.

Color ping pong balls with yellow highlighter.  Draw in pupils with a black marker.

4.  Sew “eyes”, threading through the holes you punched out, onto sides of the hood of the jacket.

5.  Cut out fangs out of white felt and a serpent’s tongue out of red felt.  Sew a pair on the top of the hood and a pair at the neck of the hood.  Sew on tongue in the middle of the top two fangs.

6.  If you’re up for it and you have another sweatshirt of the same color, make a long tail by cutting out a long size from the front of the sweatshirt.  Trim to size.  Cut out another diamond pattern from felt and sew onto tail.  Then sew tail onto the bottom of the hoodie.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees

2. Rinse seeds in a colander under cold water.  Pat dry with paper towels.

3.  Line a baking sheet with Silpat, parchment paper, or foil.  Spray with non-stick spray.  Spread pumpkin seeds in one layer on sheet.  Spray again and sprinkle with salt, or other seasoning (chili powder, cumin, garlic salt might be good)

4.  Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway.

5.  Transfer to a plate to cool — they crisp up in a few minutes.

Graveyard Cups (Based on Foodista’s)

1 package of instant Chocolate Pudding mix

About 10 Chocolate Wafer cookies or Oreos processed into crumbs in food processor

Gummy worms

Cookies for tombstones (in the original recipe, Milano cookies were used)

Optional:  Icing and Halloween candy creatures

1. Prepare pudding as instructed on box.

2. Spoon 2 tablespoons cookie crumbs in the bottom of four parfait glasses.

3. Spoon chocolate pudding on top (it is also fun to “bury” things in the pudding like the candies and the gummy worms).

4.  Spoon more cookie crumbs on top.  Insert cookie tombstone.  You can decorate it with icing.  Decorate rest of graveyard with candies.

Makes 4 graveyards.

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Gingerbread Magna-Tiles


As Halloween fast approaches, the thought of doing another haunted gingerbread house crossed my mind.  But a couple of weeks ago Jamie had a play date with his friend, Lucas, and they built an amazing Azkaban Prison (from Harry Potter) out of Magna-Tiles, which inspired me to do something different.

Some basic shapes in a Magna-Tiles set.


Magna-tiles are great building tiles with magnets on their edges making the pieces stick together when placed side by side.  They come in two sizes of squares and several triangular shapes.  I decided to create gingerbread Magna-tiles for them to build their own haunted houses with during a cooking project/play date at our house.  Instead of magnets, of course, Royal Icing dyed grey would be used.  The recipe for the gingerbread is the same one I used last year.  It is so delicious and is perfect for building.

In preparation for the project, I made templates of the Magna-Tiles shapes out of card stock.  Downloadable PDF files of these are here.  Then I cut them out and placed them on top of the gingerbread dough and scored the dough around the shapes with a sharp knife.  I kept the rough edges intact so that the cut edges would stay sharp and crisp.

Roll out the dough on parchment paper to about a 1/8-inch thickness about the size of your baking sheet

I baked it for about  10 minutes (the recipe says to do so for 15 minutes, but I found this to be a bit too long).  Then I cut out the shapes while the dough was still soft. After it cools a bit on the baking sheet, you can remove the side pieces and cool cookies on racks.

Since there were three boys involved (Lucas’ brother Caleb also joined in the fun)I made a double batch of dough.  I ended up with three large squares for each boy to be used as a base and twelve squares and a bunch of triangles.  In retrospect, I should have made more squares!

Before they arrived, I made a work station for the builders.  Each had a baking sheet covered in foil to make their house on, a bag of grey cement (icing), a bunch of different goodies to decorate with, some white, black and red fondant for sculpting objects and monsters, and some food coloring pens (love these!)

Then they got to building (as will be evident, all three boys are really into Harry Potter right now)…

Lucas made Bellatrix Lestrange’s  Cave:

Dementor in front

I think this is a dragon egg encircled by Nagini (Voldemort's snake)

Jamie made the Shrieking Shack:

Close up of interior

Caleb made Hogwarts Castle:

It was a very creative and sugar filled play date. 🙂

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Harry Potter Lego and Mr. Cookie Baker’s Oatmeal Cookies

Harry and Dumbledore's Pensieve with Draco in background

Last  month we were happily surprised when our neighbor’s twelve year old boy gave our son, Jamie a.k.a. The Lego Man, a couple of giant bagfuls of Star Wars and Harry Potter Legos.  True, it was also tempered by the faint unease of where we were going to put it all on my part, but it was worth the joy and excitement of Jamie.  He is obsessed with Harry Potter still.  His entryway into the whole Harry Potter series was via Harry Potter Lego.  Jamie had practically memorized the LEGO Harry Potter Building the Magical World book before he even began reading any of the Harry Potter books!  Thus, when he discovered two extremely rare mini-figures, Filch and Ginny Weasley,  only found in sets #4842 and #4840, he was quite certain it was a mistake.  We double checked with our neighbor, and it had in fact been unintentionally given away — our neighbor’s son had thought he had lost them!

Jamie immediately returned them without a fuss.  We were extremely proud of him that it was all on his own initiative.  I, for one, had no clue as to how unique and valuable those particular mini-figs are.  I hesitate to think what I might have done in a similar situation at seven.  Would I feign ignorance to be able to keep them?  It is entirely possible!  It made bringing two garbage bagfuls of yet more Lego into our tiny home worth it.

Oatmeal Cookies from Mr. Cookie Baker

To thank his friend, Jamie thought we should bake him a batch of cookies.  He has always loved the book, Mr. Cookie Baker, by Monica Wellington, who is a wonderful author and illustrator of over 40 books.  This adorable book is about a cookie baker and his day in the bakery.  There are several delicious cookie recipes at the end.

We used to read  Monica’s  All My Little Ducklings to Jamie when he was a baby, so it was a real pleasure to meet Monica when he was about two and get to know her over the years.  She is also a wonderful teacher of children’s book writing and illustration at the School of Visual Arts here in Manhattan, and I took her class.  I’ve learned so much from her.  It was an honor to come back years later and talk to one of her classes and show my work this past summer.

The Oatmeal Cookie recipe from Mr. Cookie Baker did not disappoint!  We also added in a 1/4 cup of chocolate chips because Jamie wanted to (he’s a chocoholic like his mom).  These cookies are the thin kind and very crunchy yet chewy with great flavor!

Thank you card and package with Lego stickers

Mr. Cookie Baker’s Oatmeal Cookies

(From Mr. Cookie Baker, by Monica Wellington, Dutton, 2006 — we halved the recipe and added 1/4 cup chocolate chips)

1/2 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup flour

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats (we used old-fashioned not quick cooking)

1/2 cup raisins

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Cream together the butter and brown sugar.

3.  Mix in the egg and milk.

4.  Then mix in the spices, salt, baking soda, and flour.

5.  Stir in the oats, and then the raisins (and then we added the chips).

6.  Drop rounded teaspoons of cookie dough onto greased cookie sheet (we used parchment paper).

7. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until golder brown.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Biscotti and the 6th Annual Princeton Children’s Book Festival

Chocolate glaze optional - I'm trying to decide if it is better with or without.

In the midst of trying to finish 52 illustrations by next week (I have 11 more to go!), summer activities, preparing for September book events, I decided to honor my recent white chocolate fixation and attempt to create an original recipe of White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Biscotti.

I will be reading from my book, Soup Day, at the 6th Annual Princeton Children’s Book Festival at the Princeton, NJ Public Library this Saturday at 11:30 am.  I will also be meeting amazing authors and illustrators,  greeting the public, and signing books!  If you happen to live in or near Princeton, NJ, please stop by and say “hello”.  I’d love to see you. 🙂

I’m traveling with my friend Kate the day before, who just released her book, Big Bouffant, and we are staying with her dear friend in Princeton who has generously offered us lodging.  I decided to make this creation to bring to her.

Hopefully she won’t mind the sloppy chocolate garnish I mistakenly put on the sides instead of the tops (see note below)!

White Chocolate Macademia Nut Biscotti

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

½ cup white chocolate chips

optional:  1/3 cup semisweet or bittersweet chopped chocolate

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Stir flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl with a whisk. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add sugar and beat another minute.  Add egg and extracts and beat until incorporated.  Stir in macadamia nuts and white chocolate until evenly distributed.
  4. Dump batter out onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Wet hands and form dough into a large rectangular log, about 4-inches by 12-inches in size.
  5. Bake in oven for about 25 minutes until top is firm.  Let rest on baking sheet on wire rack for 15 minutes.  Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees.
  6. Carefully transfer log with two spatulas (it can easily break if it is not supported) to a cutting board.  Cut log into diagonal slices about ½-inch thick with a serrated knife.  Gently use a sawing motion, don’t press down too hard, or the log will break.
  7. Transfer the pieces back to the baking sheet and bake for another 20-25 minutes, flipping baking sheet and cookies halfway through.
  8. Remove baking sheet from oven and let rest on wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Then move biscotti to rack to cool completely.
  9. If you’d like to drizzle them with chocolate, just melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl at 30 second intervals (it took me about 90 seconds), stirring in between.  Transfer melted chocolate to a sandwich Ziploc bag and press all the chocolate to one corner of the bag.  Snip off a small bit of the corner so you have a tiny hole.  Turn biscotti so that the tops are up!  (I forgot to do this – oops!)  Squeeze the bag gently, drizzling chocolate over the biscotti.

    Major fail: I drizzled one side instead of the tops -- oops!

    To speed up the hardening process, you can chill in the refrigerator or freezer for a bit.

Makes about 13-14.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Big Bad Wolf

Today was my last class visit at P.S. 142.  As a tradition, I always bring a treat for the kids on the last day.  This time, I made chocolate chip cookies because I figured:  Who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies!?  Alas, there were a few non-chocolate eaters, but the cookies were devoured by the the rest of the students.  I guess you can’t please everyone!

These chocolate chip cookies are really delicious and more importantly, EASY, to make.  I was happy to give them away because it makes a huge batch (I made about 4 1/2 dozen) but we three could have easily eaten them all — they are that tasty.

For my class visit, I read an old favorite — Big Bad Wolf by Clare Masurel which I illustrated many years ago.

It is a dye-cut book with holes cut out on the pages to reveal something coming next:

The hole on this page shows the wolf's pointy ears and shiny eyes, and when you turn the page, you see him in his entirety, serenely having a picnic by a lake.

Since the book’s cover is similar to a mask (the wolf’s eyes are holes which reveal the eyes of two frightened children when you open the book), I  did a wolf mask project using paper plates with the children during my visit.

Here is a pattern I made up of the mask:

Using the pattern as a guide, you can draw the red lines on the paper plates.  Cut out holes for eyes.  Then cut out the ears and the side face fur.  Punch a hole using a hole puncher on each side and tie a piece of string or yarn in each hole. Decorate the mask any way you like!

Of course, you could have fun doing various different animal faces using a similar template.

Here I am with a pack of little wolves!

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Martha Stewart’s Cookies, Clarkson Potter/Publishers

Original recipe

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups (about 12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.  Set aside.

2.  Measure flour and baking soda in a bowl, stir with a whisk and set aside.

3.  Cream butter and sugars in the bowl of a mixer with paddle attachment for two minutes until light and fluffy.  On low speed, add one egg at a time, mixing to incorporate.  Add salt and vanilla.  Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

4.  Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough onto parchment, spacing about two inches between cookies.  Bake for about 10 minutes, rotating sheets and alternating them on racks in oven halfway through.  Cool for a couple of minutes on baking sheets on cooling racks.  Then remove cookies onto racks to cool.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

************************

Update:  Snuggle Mountain now available for iphone for $1.99!

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Matzo Almond Roca

OK, here’s another quick post because I have a scary deadline!

This is a great way to use up all the leftover matzo crackers after Passover.  Or… it’s great to make anytime of year — whether or not you observe Passover at all!

I’ve been making this forever.  I even gave some to Joan Rivers, who loooved it and said I could make a fortune on it.  Unfortunately, I did not make up the recipe, so I can’t take credit for it.

Here is the fabulous recipe from David Lebovitz (who apparently adapted it from Marcy Goldman of betterbaking.com).

I decided to lighten it slightly, but cutting the caramel toffee part in half.  In the past, I’ve found it to be a little too sweet and decadent.  Also, instead of baking the toffee layer first, I spread the chocolate on soon after spreading on the toffee layer and sprinkled the almonds on top and then baked it, as I have seen in another recipe that uses this more streamlined technique.  It was still delicious and went quickly. Seriously folks, this stuff is addictive!


Matzo Almond Roca

4 sheets of matzo crackers

1/2 stick butter (I used salted– if you use unsalted, add a pinch of salt to toffee mixture with vanilla)

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place matzo crackers on sheet.  Break into pieces to make it all fit on the edges.  Set aside.

2.  Melt butter and sugar together in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.  Pour over matzo crackers.  Spread around to coat each cracker. Let cool slightly.

3.  Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring at 30 second intervals.  Pour chocolate over toffee covered matzo.  Spread around to cover.  Sprinkle with toasted almonds.

4.  Put pan into oven and bake for about 5 minutes.

5.  Remove and let cool to room temperature.  Then freeze in freezer for about an hour.  Break into pieces.  Store pieces in a container –it will keep for a week, but it probably will be eaten much faster!

Note:  If making for Passover, you can omit the vanilla or use a kosher brand.  We do not keep kosher, so I used it.

This is what your pan should look like before baking.

Enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Cookies

Last week my friend, Jessica, posted a fantastic recipe in the comments section of my Experimenting with Trader Joe’s Peanut Flour post.

Did any of you see it?  It’s a recipe for chocolate chip cookies made with added peanut flour and Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels.  They have a delicious peanutty flavor that harmonizes with the chocolate chips.  The pretzels give the cookies a nice salty note and crunch that contrasts with the chewy cookie texture.

Do you see that piece of crunchy goodness?

It is too good a recipe to let go undetected by other readers, so I am featuring it in this post (with Jessica’s blessing – thanks Jessica!)

Check out her new site also.   She’s opening a cute crafts space/store for kids in Durham, NC.  Jessica is a talented artist and amazing baker.  For my baby shower in 2004 she made me the most gorgeous chocolate cake which she decorated by creating some illustrations from my books – out of white chocolate!

Sheep are from Good Night Engines. Moon face is from a promo I did.

We saved the little pieces of chocolate art for a year and ate them while celebrating the anniversary of Jamie’s birth – his first birthday.

Now years later, my “baby” helps me bake goodies in the kitchen.  He and I made Jessica’s cookies to bring to his Didi and Mimette’s (grandparents’) house this past weekend, where they were happily devoured.

After playing in the snow, these cookies hit the spot.  Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Filled Pretzel Cookies

2 sticks butter
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c sugar

2 eggs
1 T vanilla
3/4 t baking powder
2 c flour
1/2 c peanut flour
2 c peanut butter pretzels
1 c chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream butter and sugars together in a stand mixer until fluffy.
  3. Add egg and vanilla, beat again.
  4. Whisk together baking powder and flours together in another bowl.  Slowing add this to batter while mixer is on lowest setting.
  5. Add peanut butter pretzels and chocolate chips.  Stir until evenly incorporated.
  6. Roll into 1″ sized balls and flatten on a baking sheet lined with parchment or Silpat liners leaving about 2″ in between cookies.
  7. Bake in oven for about 14 minutes, switching positions of pans halfway through.
  8. Cool on sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Filed under Children, Cookies, Desserts