“I browned butter for you!” Or, Mini-Caramel Stuffed Snickerdoodle Cookie Cups.

Doesn’t that sound like a line from a soap opera? Scene: Eleanor, finding the door to boyfriend Jonathan’s apartment unlocked, steps inside, only to find Jonathan making out with Alexandra. Alexandra having fled the scene, Eleanor confronts an embarrassed, red-faced Jonathan in his entirely unkempt kitchen.

Eleanor: A year of dating and this? That? You with that woman? My God, Jonathan, I’ve done all I could for you – sat with you as you wept over Jane Eyre, drove you to the bakery every morning when your car was in the shop so you wouldn’t have to live a day without Josie’s bagels, didn’t laugh at the stupid things you said after your wisdom teeth were taken out. I made puff pastry for you from scratch! I slaved over that eighteen-layer cake for your mother’s birthday! I browned butter for you, Jonathan. And there you were, with that tramp who can only make cookies from refrigerated cookie dough.

End scene.

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Maybe I should be a writer.

Anyways. I’m still having a love affair with my mini muffin tin, because mini muffins and small cups of various baked goods are automatically 50 zillion times more delicious than any standard-sized or jumbo counterparts. Size matters. And what’s better than cookies baked in a mini-muffin tin? And what’s better than cookies covered in cinnamon and filled with caramel in a mini-muffin tin? (Your boyfriend eating them is even better, actually.)

I’m a big fan of this recipe…but I wanted cups. So I searched the internet and found a recipe for maple snickerdoodle cookie cups…but, the addition of maple was overwhelming. Brown butter? (Everyone says browned butter smells nutty. To me, it smells like pancakes.) Vanilla? Cinnamon? Caramel? And you want me to add maple? No. Can’t do it. Maybe next time, when my caramel fiend of a boyfriend won’t be around.

After tweaking with reckless abandon (sort of), the results are…delicious. And perfect. Also, delicious.

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#1 rule of baking: always “accidentally” add more vanilla extract than necessary. Oops, my hand slipped. Better let the overflow happen.

#2 rule of baking: there is no such thing as too much cinnamon.

Add the maple if you want. Fill with chocolate if you want. What-ever you want.

Go forth and enjoy. Before any significant others consume them before you get the chance.

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Mini Caramel-Stuffed Snickerdoodle Cookie Cups
Recipe adapted from Beyond Frosting and inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

For the cinnamon-sugar coating

  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a mini muffin pan with cooking spray or line with muffin liners.
  2. Brown the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, stir constantly until it turns brown with a nutty aroma.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream the browned butter with sugars and cinnamon. Set aside and allow the butter to cool.
  4. When butter/sugar mixture has cooled, beat in the egg and vanilla.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
  6. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter until well combined.
  7. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the coating in a small bowl. Roll about a tablespoon of dough in the cinnamon sugar and place into the mini muffin pan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes, until cookies are lightly browned.
  9. Allow the cookies to sit in the pan for 15-20 minutes before removing and cooling completely. Devour.

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Crispy Coconut Cookies.

Oh, look. A recipe not involving chocolate or peanut butter.

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Coconut is one of those foods most people either love or hate – I’ve never met someone who is on the fence about it. Some of my friends vehemently detest its existence, while others would top any dessert with coconut and be happy.

I’m a fan of the coconut. It’s tropical, unique, and delicious. Coconut oil is incredible, not to mention mind-boggling (solid at room temperature…but it melts so easily? Tastes absolutely dreadful when eaten straight out of the jar, but adds a beautiful sweetness to baked goods? What is this magic?); shredded coconut, straight out of the bag, has become one of my go-to snacks if I just need a little something sweet; toasted coconut is absolutely divine.

Speaking of toasted coconut, toasting is the secret to these wonderful cookies. Simply toast the coconut before you make the cookies. Heat often brings out the best in food (hmm, can we say the same about humans, perhaps? Ok, no more philosophy).

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What is it about coconut, though? It’s so different. Its taste is matchless, so unlike any other flavor. It’s distinct and capable of taking a dish from good to great. Just like people. (Ok, now I’m done with the philosophy.)

My father wanted macaroons, but he got these instead. And, by some weird twist of fate, he hasn’t stopped raving about these since I made them. Then again, neither have I. Coconut is so simple and incredibly complementary to other ingredients brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and almond (any recipe involving almond extract gets me excited). They’re crispy, they’re sweet, they won’t let you down.

One minor mishap: I had problems with the dough. Like, big, sticky problems. Even after I added extra flour, they wouldn’t roll out, they wouldn’t cut out, they wouldn’t stay together, even after I refrigerated them for quite some time. Being the incredibly impatient human I am, I just went with the tablespoon-drop standby and smashed them flat into thin circles. If you have the patience, go ahead and roll them out or figure out what I did wrong. Mine still turned out delicious.

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Besides, these aren’t just any flawlessly shaped, boring circles. Imperfect cookies have a lot of character. Just like you.

Crispy Coconut Cookies
from Joy the Baker

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread the coconut evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, stirring two or three times, until coconut is evenly golden. Make sure to keep an eye on it because coconut will burn easily. Set aside to cool.
  2. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and almond extracts; mix well until blended.
  5. Add flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated together. Stir in the toasted coconut.
  6. Divide the dough into two portions. Roll out the portions of dough between two pieces of wax paper. Cut cookies into preferred shapes after removing the top sheet of wax paper.
  7. Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets (if you have trouble with this, you can try putting the dough in the fridge for a few minutes to harden). Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes or until edges and bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer for a wire rack to cool. Devour.

Incredibly Versatile Granola Bars.

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Waiting for a call to schedule a job interview is probably one of the more stressful waiting games I’ve played. Last week, the manager of the bakery (yes, bakery!) I applied to told me he’d call me back yesterday. Yesterday, I missed his call because I was driving and couldn’t call him back until a few hours later. When I finally called him back that evening, he wasn’t there. After waiting all morning and part of the early afternoon to see if he’d return my message, I called him instead, and left another message. Needless to say, I’m a little stressed. Especially because I hate talking on the telephone.

Stressful situations call for stress-baking.

There’s something comforting about nearly upsetting everything in my cupboards as I root around for measuring cups and mixing bowls. The familiar rhythm of pouring and stirring is comparable to giving a fussing child his favorite pacifier. It’s a sort of sedative, which is why I instinctively reach for a cook book in times of anxiety.

Enter the glorious homemade granola bar.

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Quaker Chewy granola bars have never been my favorite. I know, I know, I must have malformed tastebuds or something. Honestly, they’re not as flavorful or satisfying as, say, a Kashi bar. Maybe that’s the health freak in me preferring whole almonds over weird crispy things (what ingredients make up a Chewy bar, anyways?), but I honestly think it’s just the fact I prefer my granola bars to be…well, chewy. For real chewy. With identifiable ingredients.

The great thing about homemade granola bars is that you can add basically anything you want – different types of dried fruit, nuts and seeds (pecans, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds…the list goes on, and on, and on), flavorings and spices, nut butter, honey or maple syrup…it goes on forever. If it’s small enough to mix in, go for it.

The cinnamon comes through perfectly, and for once, I can say that I wouldn’t add any more. Unless you prefer to up the cinnamon. The more, the merrier.

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Perfect for breakfast (I’ve been crumbling mine up like cereal & eating it with milk), snack, post-workout, whatever. The world is your…granola bar.

Homemade Granola Bars
Based off this recipe
Makes 12-16, depending on the size you cut them

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup dried fruit of your choosing (I used golden raisins and mixed berries)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, optional
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, optional
  • 3/4 cup nuts and seeds (I used pecans and almonds)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 1/2 x 11 baking dish with parchment paper or grease it. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar together until creamy. Add egg and beat well. Stir in flax and honey.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, cinnamon, and baking soda; stir into creamed mixture until just blended.
  4. Stir in fruit, nuts, and other add-ins.
  5. Press firmly into the baking dish. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until middle is set and edges are lightly browned.
  6. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Devour.