most ardently.

(I love you.)

  1. All of these dresses. All. Of. Them.
  2. Portable burrito. When I was in Poland, my friends and I had the misfortune of dining at a “Mexican” restaurant, a night which became one of my regretted adventures. But, going to Chipotle in Paris (we were homesick!) made up for it. Burritos for days.
  3. Honey Almond Quinoa Granola. Do you know how much I adore Kristin’s blog? A lot. This granola looks to die for.
  4. Gregory Alan Isakov. Be still my heart. My roommate and I listened to this song all semester, and it’s still as gorgeous as ever.
  5. Music to my little introverted ears.
  6. Lemon Basil Shortbread Cookies. Yes. Please. In my mouth. Now.
  7. Just for fun. Because who doesn’t like ridiculous looking cats?

“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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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.

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My blog felt a little empty without the combination of peanut butter + chocolate chip. Thankfully, these bars have remedied that.

I’d wager that the best things in life are the simplest, like feeling cool grass beneath your toes, having a guy hold the door open for you, sitting in silence with the people you love, waking up to the sound of rain. And strangely enough, the things that are worth it are the most difficult, the most heartwrenching, the most frustrating.

Lucky for us, these bars are both simple and worth it. Why? Here’s a list.

  • chocolate
  • peanut butter
  • one bowl
  • one bowl
  • peanut butter
  • one bowl
  • chocolate
  • one bowl
  • peanut butter + chocolate

And here’s a picture, too.

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Observe the texture. Observe the chocolate chips. Observe the lovely aroma. (Whoops, you can’t do that, can you?)

The peanut butter and chocolate combination sold me right off the bat. No star-crossed food-lovin’ here – peanut butter and chocolate were clearly made for each other. Food soul mates. Then I saw the tablespoon of vanilla extract and very nearly swooned. Vanilla makes me weak-kneed.

Speaking of weak knees, I’ll be honest: initially, these were made for a boy (what I lack in charm I make up with baked goods) BUT, most unfortunately, my plans were foiled when my parents informed me that, instead, we’d be taking them to my cousin’s birthday party. “What? No, of course I didn’t have plans for these, I was just…baking stuff. Because I actually have time to. All right, we can take them to the party…”

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Regardless of how my plans were thwarted, these did not disappoint. After 22 minutes of baking, the toothpick came out clean, and although I freaked out a little because I still thought they were underbaked, they weren’t. The edges puffed up while the middle remained miraculously soft and gooey. Peanut buttery, chocolate chippy, buttery, deliciousy.

Have I mentioned they’re made in one bowl? All the goodness of cookies without the fuss. Perfect if you’re lazy (like me) or in a hurry (like most of humanity). Not too much chocolate (let’s be honest, is that ever possible?), just enough peanut butter (although adding another tablespoon or two wouldn’t hurt too much), and more than enough sweetness. And CRAZY GOOD.

Clearly my cousins thought so, considering all of them were gone within an hour.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (printable recipe here!)
from Averie Cooks

[Note: Honestly, I laughed out loud when I saw you could scramble the egg if you mix it in while the butter is still too hot. But apparently it can really happen – make sure the butter is cooled!
Baking time will also depend on how gooey you want your center. I’d wager they could be baked up to 30 minutes if you want a more-set center. Just keep an eye on them.]

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • heaping 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 6 – 7 ounces (about 3/4 cup) semi-sweet or dark chocolate (chips or chopped)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter (about 2 30-second intervals). Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool before adding the egg (to prevent it from scrambling).
  3. Stir in egg, sugars, and vanilla extract until well combined. Stir in peanut butter.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, and salt; mix until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate.
  5. Scoop batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until center is set and golden (or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean).
  6. Allow bars to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes. Cut into slices and devour.

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Crispy Oatmeal Pecan Butterscotch Chip Cookies.

[Alternately, Crispy Oatmeal Pecan Triple Chip Cookies.

Or Half-Burned Oatmeal Pecan Triple Chip Cookies.]

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Do you ever have those times when you think you’re doing something very, very well, which makes you proud of yourself and suddenly you feel invincible…only to find out later that you weren’t as great as you thought you were?

…that’s what happened with the photographs I took of these cookies. Oh, and the fact that I burned half of them. Oh, and the fact that most of them hopelessly stuck to the bottom of the pans.

Sigh.

It could be worse. It could’ve been a thesis or a big project at work. I could’ve broken one of my great-great-great-grandmother’s vases. I could’ve accidentally bought a plethora of items I thought were on sale but weren’t. I mean, that still doesn’t erase the let-down, but I do feel a little better about myself.

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Thankfully, the recipient of these semi-disastrous cookies was none other than my father, the man who has never once refused a baked good from me. With a smile on his face and suddenly a possessor of infinite patience, he would eat anything I made for him without a complaint or critique – whether it was an ice cream “sundae” doused in sprinkles, stale cookies, and weird, edible, red gel, or a burnt, soggy pie. I know I’ve disappointed him in many ways, but my cooking has never been one of them.

Butterscotch cookies, or oatmeal scotchies, are one of his favorite foods. Not just any oatmeal scotchies, though – crisp, crunchy ones. In all my nineteen years of living, I’ve heard hundreds of variations on a phrase he always says: “Cookies are meant to be crunchy, cake is supposed to be soft.” Soft cookies bought from the store are always met with an eye-rolling; cookies in the windows of bakeries are always ignored for their lack of crispy edges.

With Father’s Day weekend here and a small amount of butterscotch chips remaining in the cupboard, I decided to make these for the man who would eat anything I presented him from the heart.

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Since I didn’t have enough butterscotch chips left, I added in some white and semi-sweet chocolate chips, along with a few pecans for extra flavor. More granulated sugar and less brown sugar is one of the secrets of making these crispy.

My final product wasn’t perfect. No, they’re nowhere near perfect, considering a fourth of them have (nearly) black bottoms and another fourth are crumbs. But you know what? It doesn’t really matter that much, because my dad had two of them before the second batch was even out of the oven. Then he told me, with excitement in his eyes, they were fantastic and had another one. With praise like that, who needs perfection?

Whether your dad likes soft or crunchy cookies, brownies or blondies, cake or pie, do something special for him. Appreciate him. Go out of your way to love him.

eh

Even if things fall apart a little.

Crispy Oatmeal Pecan Butterscotch Chip Cookies
adapted from Nestle

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups flour (I used a mixture of whole wheat and all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 2/3 cups butterscotch chips OR 1 cup butterscotch chips + 2/3 cup other chips (I used white and semi-sweet)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and extracts; set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Gradually add flour to the creamed mixture and stir until well combined.
  4. Stir in oats, chips, and pecans.
  5. Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for two minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Devour.

Sugar-Doodle Cookies.

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I have a confession: I only made these so I could take a big, fat spoonful of cookie dough.

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Yep, like one of those spoonfuls.

I know, I know. Salmonella and sugar comatose and who could forget that one cookie dough overdose encounter? But when I’m right in the middle of that wondrous bloodbath from Mother Nature (sorry, guys, and everyone else who has weak constitutions and just visualized that phrase), I want grease and meat and sugar – but not at the same time, mind you.

Enough of my hormonal cravings. Let’s talk cookies.

These are the soft, sugary cousins of the snickerdoodle. I will unashamedly admit that I’ve always loved sugar cookies (well, properly-made sugar cookies) for their simplicity. These are even better than your run-of-the-mill sugar cookie…and definitely not a hard, tasteless one. Who wouldn’t like a cookie that tastes like straight-up sugar, butter, and vanilla?

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Oh, and you only need one bowl. None of that “in a separate bowl” nonsense.

The original recipe yields one dozen “generous-sized cookies”, but even after making 20 tablespoon-sized ones, I had enough dough remaining for 9 cookies half the size of my face. If you’re feeling generous, you’ll probably end up with 15 or 16. (Unless I’m doing it wrong. Which is always a valid possibility.) Regardless of how many are made, these are incredibly simple but incredibly delicious…soft, sweet, comforting.

It also calls for bread flour, something I have none of but will hopefully acquire in the future. If you have some on hand, use it! Bread flour will make the cookies softer and chewier. I wouldn’t recommend omitting the salt, either – just a pinch of salt will make the vanilla & sugar more pronounced through its small bit of contrast.

Also, my pictures suck. Mine weren’t pretty enough to photograph…mostly because I had eaten/given away most of the pretty ones.

See? Shoddy photography and unfortunately unattractive cookies. Sigh.

See? Shoddy photography and unfortunately unattractive cookies. Sigh.

Don’t let them fool you, though! Just because they look like beige disks doesn’t mean they will taste bland, or even remotely bland. Let them surprise you.

Only after I put these in the oven did I have the idea of rolling them in (more) sugar. There’s always next time, though.

(The cookie dough stomach ache was worth it, by the way)

Sugar-Doodles
from Averie Cooks
makes 2 dozenish cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons cream or milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup bread flour (all-purpose can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
  • Sugar for rolling, optional

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and mix until creamed.
  2. Add egg, cream/milk, and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour(s), baking soda, and salt; mix until just combined.
  4. Transfer dough to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (up to 5 days).
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray with cooking spray. Scoop the dough into mounds the size of your choosing on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes until pale golden and edges have begun to set. (It’s ok if they appear slightly undercooked – they will firm up as they cool) Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Devour.

Guest Post(!!): Chocolate Fudge Pomegranate Cookies.

CAKEY’S NOTE: Hi! We’re taking a break from our normally scheduled programming from the world of my kitchen and brain and giving you, with great pleasure, Cakey Bakes’ first-ever guest post, brought to you by my dear friend & partner-in-crime Kathryn, & I wouldn’t have anyone else for our first guest post. I happen to be horrendously jealous of her (don’t tell her!) art, writing, fashion, and sweet-talking skills, not to mention her dedication to everything she endeavors upon. She’s been a huge encouragement to me when it comes to blog matters as well as real-life stuff, and she’s let me use her iPhone to take pictures countless times. She is smart, clever, and all-around fabulous in every sense of the word. Oh, and she knows how to spell “pomegranate”, unlike yours truly. So without any further ado…

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Kathryn: I’d like to consider myself a balanced health-freak.

Which means I work out for an hour and a half a day, eat organic and whole foods (no gluten here), and feed my cat non-chemical-doused food. I do yoga, peruse healthy-cooking blogs, volunteer at the local environmental outreach and Humane Society – if you’re looking for “organic”, here I am…or as granola as a girl who likes designer fashion and jazz can get.

Uh, yes, I’ll take “break-in at Tiffany’s” for 100, please?

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But where’s the balance, you ask? In these cookies.

These decadent, delicious, sexy cookies provide the balance.

There is nothing even remotely healthy about these treats, which is why I love them so much. Smooth cocoa and rich dark chocolate combined with the dash of salt create a surprisingly soft, gooey center. And the pomegranate arils? Perfection. A little burst of tangy-sweet in every bite. Don’t be intimidated by the pomegranate, please! She may look dangerous, but trust me. You can handle her.

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Horribly, irrevocably seduced yet?

Good.

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Chocolate Fudge Pomegranate Cookies (recipe from How Sweet Eats)

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (melted)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup pomegranate arils

(*alternatives: replace half the butter with coconut oil, switch out a lower-fat/whatever margarine for the butter, use whole-wheat OR oat flour. You can also replace up to 1/3 of the flour with almond flour, for those of us who can’t have gluten.

Dark chocolate is healthy for you. Don’t replace that sucker with anything. Shut up and enjoy it.)

Directions:

1. Cream together the melted butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy.
2. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Add pomegranate juice and mix until combined.
3. Fold in chocolate chips and arils. Refrigerate dough for 2-4 hours (or less/more)**.
4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350, roll the dough into balls and set on baking sheet.

**I made a batch without refrigerating and they turned out fine. They were actually softer without the chill, so…take that advice as you may.

Tip: freeze any leftover dough for slice-and-bake chocolate fudge pomeganate cookies up to two weeks later!

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Pair with milk, a good book, and enjoy the decadence, lovelies.

Double Chocolate Cookies [with Homemade Oreo Creme Filling].

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My dear reader, I pray you have more self-control than I do. And if you don’t, I beg and plead and implore you with all my heart (and – groan – stomach) to keep your fingers out of the damn bowl. Not just for my sake, but for your own. I know how tempting it is to take a spoonful of dough, to scrape a finger down the side under the guise of mixing all the ingredients equally, to lick the spoon after you finish mixing. Oh, believe me, I understand that temptation all too well (maybe Eve was tempted by cookie dough, not an apple).

Now, here I sit, two water bottles and three green-tea-with-lemon tea bags later, nursing a cookie dough hangover. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about, don’t pretend like it’s never happened to you. If only I hadn’t eaten those last two spoonfuls! If only I had been nibbling on fruit while I was mixing everything up! If only I had kept my hands clean! If only I had steel-plated temperance!

What on earth possessed me to do such a ridiculous, unhealthy thing? Well, it was partially stress-eating. It was partially my need for security and comfort. But mostly? I was seduced. Heartlessly, utterly seduced by the irresistible combination of cocoa powder, sugar, butter, and chocolate. And more chocolate. Can you blame me?

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I should have known better. By the age of 19, I should be deaf to the cries of, “Eat me! Eat me! Ruin your dinner, eat me! You won’t get salmonella, eaaaaaat me!” You’d think I’d have built up a cookie-dough-stomachache tolerance. Nope. I was wrong then, yet I’m still tottering on the fence between, “Do I really regret this?” and “I REGRET NOTHING.”

Okay, let’s cut to the chase. These babies are ridiculously good. Gooey, chewy, sweet…and full of chocolate. Chock full of chocolate (oh, I take that phrase back. I detest any usage of “chock full”). You need these in your life to bring you up on sad days and share in all your triumphs and joys. Just one will satisfy the most severe chocolate craving. Two will have you running for a glass of cold milk. Or whatever it is you use to wash down cookies.

If you decide you’d like to send all your loved ones into a sugar coma, you can make some creme filling and make chewy chocolate chip Oreos.

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I leave you with one thing: when you endeavor to make these, guard your heart. Guard your hips and thighs. These things will steal your soul faster than you can say, “Ooh, cookies!”

Double Chocolate Cookies
from Inspired Taste
makes 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups chocolate chips (any kind)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Add sugars and butter to a large bowl; mix until creamy. Beat in first egg, then beat in second egg with vanilla extract. Mix until well incorporated.
  3. In a separate smaller bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Slowly add dry incredients to the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Mix until combined. Mix in chocolate chips.
  5. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheets. If you want flatter cookies, press them down a little with a knife or fork. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely on a cooling rack. Devour, or fill with creme.

Homemade Oreo Creme
from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Place butter in a mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer on low speed, gradually beat in sugar and vanilla.
  2. With the mixer on high, beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until creme is light and fluffy.
  3. To assemble the cookies: place about a teaspoon of creme on the bottom of one cookie. Place another cookie on top of the creme and lightly press down until creme is evenly distributed between the two cookies. Repeat with the remaining cookies and creme.

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