Sugar and Spice Cookies with Cookie Butter Swirls

DSCN1625

Most of the time I’m not this straightforward, but if you haven’t tried cookie butter yet you’re really missing out. I eat this stuff straight out of the jar. No joke. 

The truth is, I really can’t describe cookie butter. It has the consistency of peanut butter, but it isn’t chalky enough so that you can’t eat it plain. For some reason, it tends to complement most everything. I love eating it on a toasted English Muffin with slices of banana. It’s very versatile.

DSCN1616

I’m so glad I got to fit in some baking even though finals have started (just two more days to go! aaghhh!). After this Friday, I’ll be free to bake to my heart’s content. I’m looking forward to sharing  a few recipes that  I make every year for Christmas. Just the thought of them makes me anxious to get finals over with.

This recipe was originally without the “cookie butter swirls” part, but a part of me guided my hand to the pantry straight towards the cookie butter. The “swirls” part is a bit exaggerated because they aren’t really swirls. I just gently mixed it in so that it wasn’t completely incorporated into the mixture– maybe you could call it cookie butter stripes? Whatever the name is, enjoy the recipe. They taste like Christmas in a bite. Literally.

DSCN1618

Sugar and Spice Cookies with Cookie Butter Swirls sort of adapted from Bake or Break.

Makes about 35 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) cream cheese
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cookie butter

Directions:

1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices until well incorporated.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, cream cheese, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add egg and vanilla, mix well.

3. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Add the cookie butter, gently stirring just until it is dispersed in “stripes” across the mixture.

4. Cover dough and refrigerate for at least an hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray baking sheets with nonstick spray.

6. Roll the dough into 2 tablespoon balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 12 to 14 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.

7. Cool on pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (minus the snow)

The air is getting colder, the heater is on a regular schedule, and it never seems like there’s enough time in the day to accomplish anything (well, it always seems to feel that way, regardless of the season). We lit the fireplace for the first time this autumn, clearly signifying the beginning of the holidays. To be honest, time has flown by all too quick– on Thanksgiving, I woke up and to me, it felt like just another day until the ovens turned on and the mad rush to make Thanksgiving dinner began.

Last weekend we got our fresh-cut Christmas tree. My parents have considered just buying a fake one, but every year I insist on driving to the tree place up the street. I think I’ve persuaded them to keep doing so until I go to college- then *maybe* they can buy an artificial one. I just love the smell of a fresh Christmas tree.

Trees1.jpg

Finals are in 2 weeks (ugh) and it’s been hard to get into the Christmas spirit. School ends just a few days before Christmas Eve, which frustrates me– by the time we’re done studying, done with exams, there are only a couple days before Christmas and then it’s over. There’s hardly enough time to go ice skating, gift shopping, etc.

Despite school’s interference with holiday joy, I’m trying my best to enjoy the season anyways. Sometimes when I’m working late, I’ll cozy up with my AP World History book and a cup of Ghirardelli hot chocolate. That stuff is amazing. It’s so rich that I can hardly finish an entire cup without feeling the need to drink a cup of milk to compensate for the intense chocolate-y goodness. We decorated our Christmas tree yesterday, and I must say, it is beginning to feel like the holiday season.

Tree2.jpg

It’s a gorgeous tree. The picture doesn’t really do it justice. We’ve collected so many ornaments over the years; whenever we pull one out of the tissue paper, the “remember this?!” ‘s always start a story. Decorating the tree has been a post-Thanksgiving tradition for as long as I can remember.

Another reminder of the season is the major drop in temperatures. This week we’re experiencing below freezing temperatures. The low tonight is 28 degrees.

DSCN1349

This Christmas, it’s my goal to slightly put aside the school stress and focus on the bigger picture: it’s a joyful time that comes only once a year; why waste it by focusing too much on school, which already gains my attention for 10 months out of the year. I also refuse to fall into the ever increasing consumerism mindset that Black Friday sales and “holiday specials” magnify.

I hope everyone enjoys the holidays with their friends and family. What are some Christmas traditions you have?

PS: Expect more recipes soon!

Soft Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and Walnuts

DSCN1511

These cookies are literally the epitome of an autumn cookie. Walnuts, cranberries, oats… it honestly can’t get any better than this. They’re the perfect soft cookie- not too underdone. Initially I thought, “it’s a healthy cookie, I won’t feel guilty eating them…” but three cookies later I started to feel pretty bad. They’re so addicting, it’s scary. I can’t wait to bake another batch and give them away as Christmas gifts.

DSCN1512

It’s been such a long time since my last blog post… it makes me sad. But I hope to be more committed to blogging, especially during the holiday season. I think I’ll make a promise to myself to post a recipe at least once a week. :) Let me know if you bake these cookies- they definitely won’t disappoint.

Soft Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries and Walnuts slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction

Makes about 45 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups oats
  • 2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy using a mixer.

2. Beat in eggs one at a time and add the vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon until well combined. Combine the dry ingredients with the creamed mixture until just mixed in.

3. Fold in the oats, cranberries and walnuts until just incorporated. Chill the dough for at least one hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees farenheit. Spray the baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Create dough balls roughly the size of two tablespoons. Place the balls of cookie dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the tops are slightly brown. Allow to cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

The Best Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

DSCN0925

My summer days are very unpredictable. One day I could be at home, working on my summer assignment for next year’s AP course (yay… not.) and then baking up a storm as a reward for completing a chapter of that boring history book. Or, I could be out and about, shopping or walking around San Francisco and enjoying the peaceful noise of waves crashing on the beach. I love getting out of the house and strolling around or visiting a new town. I just need to be out. My mom always gets annoyed whenever I use the phrase, “I’m bored”– (her common response is, “Then clean the house!”). I’m sure there are plenty of things to do around the house, there’s no doubt about it. But there’s nothing that makes me happier than going somewhere and exploring.

However, the days when I am at home, I will whip up a recipe and blog about it, hoping that someone reads my ramblings and enjoys a recipe. :)

This particular recipe is one to treasure. This cookie stays moist and soft for days– definitely resembles a “bakery cookie”. Yum. The peanut butter cups aren’t overwhelming, so you get a subtle hint of peanut butter flavor amid the pillowy center and gooey chocolate chips.

The Best Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cup Cookies   lightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 10 – 12 mini peanut butter cups, halved

Directions:

1. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.

DSCN0887

DSCN08903. Mix in egg and vanilla.

DSCN0889

DSCN0888

4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstach, baking soda and salt.

DSCN0892

5. On low speed, combine flour mixture with the wet ingredients. Dough will be slightly sticky.

DSCN0894

DSCN0897

6. Carefully stir in chocolate chips and halved peanut butter cups. The peanut butter cups may fall apart, but don’t worry about it. :)

DSCN0898

7. Chill dough for 30 minutes (at the least).

8. Preheat oven to 350℉.

9. Once chilled, roll dough into the size of 1 tablespoon (mine were larger) and place onto the cookie sheet.

DSCN0901

10. Bake for 8-9 minutes until edges are barely golden brown. Do not bake for more than 10 minutes!

DSCN0904

11. Remove and transfer to a cooling rack, then store in an airtight container once cooled completely. If the cookies are too puffy for you, you can lightly press down on them.

Unfortunately, the pictures didn’t turn out very great. Let me know if you try the recipe– it’s very simple and trust me, you’ll be glad you made them.

DSCN0922

DSCN0923

DSCN0909

DSCN0928

Thank you all for your support! Keep looking for more recipes to try out this week. :)

~Sydney

Sugar Cookies with Cookie Dough Frosting

Image

It’s been a while since I last blogged! It was a craze with finals going on, but summer is officially here! This past school year went by so fast, it was hard to believe that it’s over. It’s been crazy hot the past few days, so unfortunately I haven’t been able to bake as much as I’d like. This recipe was from a few weeks ago– I hope you enjoy!

Sugar Cookies with Cookie Dough Frosting adapted from Sweet Boake

Ingredients:

Sugar Cookies (makes about 60)

  • 10 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 cups flour

Cookie Dough Frosting

  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 + 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup flou
  • 2 + 1/2 tablespoons of milk

For the cookies:

1. Preheat oven to 350℉.

2. Cream the shortening and butter until smooth.

DSCN0830
DSCN0831

3. Beat in sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth.

DSCN0833

4. Mix in baking powder and salt. Add the flour in one cup at a time, along with a tablespoon of milk and mix until well incorporated.

DSCN0834

DSCN0835

5. Roll dough into balls and place onto baking sheet. Slightly flatten the top.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes until cookies are golden brown. It’s important to not overcook them!

DSCN0838

DSCN0839

7. Transfer cookies onto a cold surface or cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

For the cookie dough frosting:

1. Beat the butter, brown sugar and and salt until fluffy.

2. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until well combined.

DSCN0840

3. Beat in the flour and milk.

DSCN0841

6. Pipe onto cookies and consume immediately. ;)

DSCN0852

DSCN0851

These were a big hit and were gone within two days. Great sugar cookie recipe! The frosting will surprise you– it really does taste like cookie dough. More cookie recipes soon!

~Sydney

The Best Lemon Bars (Ever)

DSCN0762

DSCN0765

I was craving a citrus dessert- who isn’t this time of year? Yesterday I made these beautiful, delicious lemon bars by merging two recipes. These bars are cakey and thick, with a subtle (but not too subtle) lemon flavor. Next time I would add just a tad more lemon juice, but other than that, I think this recipe has been perfected. :) (Note: It’s crucial to use FRESH squeezed lemon juice! The artificial stuff just doesn’t cut it). 

Sydney’s Best Ever Lemon Bars lightly adapted from both sugarwinzy and citronlimette

Ingredients:

For the crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

For the lemon filling

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (If you want a more bold lemon flavor, add 3/4 cup)
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Spray a 9″ by 13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Zest the lemon! DSCN0731
  4. For the crust: In a medium-sized bowl, combine the 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 (or 3) teaspoons powdered sugar and lemon zest. Slice the 1 cup butter into the mixture and cut until crumbly.DSCN0733

    The mixture will appear crumbly after cutting in the butter.

    The mixture will appear crumbly after cutting in the butter.

  5. Lightly press mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. DSCN0736
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crust is lightly brown.
  7. For the filling: First, use a juicer to squeeze approx. 2 1/2 lemons. I used my mom’s old (but trusty!) juicer. DSCN0742
  8. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. Then whisk in 1/2 (or 3/4) cup fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 2 – 3 teaspoons of lemon zest until well combined. Finally, whisk in the 3/4 cup all-purpose flour.DSCN0743
  9.  Pour the well-combined mixture over the hot baked crust.
  10. Bake at 350℉ for 20-25 minutes, or until filling is set.DSCN0758

11. Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle powdered sugar on top. DSCN0753

DSCN0761

You will not regret making these delicious, refreshing treats! It’s also a fairly simple recipe that experienced bakers could whip up in 15 minutes (minues the baking time). Anyways, let me know what you think if you decide to bake these! Thanks again for your support. :)

~ Sydney ~

Angel Food Cupcakes with Strawberries & Cream

DSCN0699Last Saturday, I searched and searched for a simple, “spring-y” dessert to make for Mother’s Day. And voilá! I found this easy and super tasty recipe. At first, I was skeptical because I had never made angel food cake before, but everything worked out. :) The strawberries add the perfect refreshing touch to it– almost like a modified strawberries and shortcake.

Angel Food Cake Cupcakes with Strawberries and Cream adapted from design. bake. run. 

Ingredients:

Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar – i added 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 egg whites – note: it is best to use fresh egg whites not from the carton. most of the store-bought egg whites will not form stiff peaks due to the pasteurization process
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla – i used 2 teaspoons (i love my vanilla!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Strawberries & Cream Filling

DSCN0686

  • 12 strawberries, washed and sliced (you can use more or less, depending on how many you’d like per cupcake)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar – i like my whipping cream a little sweeter, so i changed this to 4 1/2 tablespoons
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉ and line 1 cupcake pan (12 count) with cupcake liners.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour and sugars (1/2 cup granulated + 1/2 cup powdered).
  3. Using a mixer, whip the egg whites for approx. one minute, until frothy. Add the cream of tartar, vanilla and salt. Whip for 5-6 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. note: this is where I became worried! it took longer than 6 minutes for the stiff peaks to form, but it worked out. be careful not to over-whip the egg whites. 

    After whipping the egg whites for 6-7 minutes, they should look like this.

    After whipping the egg whites for 6-7 minutes, they should look like this.

  4. Pour 1/4 cup of the flour mixture into the egg mixture and gently fold in. Repeat until all of the flour is incorporated.

    Step 5 - Add 1/4 of the flour mixture and fold in the egg mixture. Repeat until all of the flour mixture is incorporated into the egg white mixture.

    Step 4 – Add 1/4 of the flour mixture and fold in the egg mixture. Repeat until all of the flour mixture is incorporated into the egg white mixture.

  5. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way (i only poured the batter in halfway- still works fine, just makes smaller cupcakes) and bake for 15-17 minutes or until the cupcakes are lightly golden and springy to the touch.

    Step 6 - Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners.

    Step 5 – Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners.

  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

    The finished product.

    The finished product.

For the whipped cream:

  1. Add the heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla to a medium-sized bowl and whip for 3-4 minutes, or until light and airy. Store the whipped cream in the refrigerator until ready to use.

    The ingredients adore their creation of the amazing whipped cream.

    The ingredients adore their creation of the amazing whipped cream.

To assemble the cupcakes:

  1. Carefully take off the cupcake liners and slice the cupcakes in half.
  2. Spread a generous portion of the whipped cream on the bottom half, then add the sliced strawberries on top. Top the strawberry layer with another spoonful of whipped cream.DSCN0693
  3. Place the top half of the cupcake back on (don’t press down too hard or the strawberries will fall off on the sides). If the cupcake is about to fall apart, place a toothpick in the middle to hold it together.
  4. Serve right away, or refrigerate until ready to consume.

Thanks again to design.bake.run. for this simple and perfect summertime treat! This weekend I’ll be posting another surprise recipe… (hint: I’ll be using the egg yolks that I got from the egg whites in this recipe, and it also has to do with summertime). If you try the recipe, let me know how it works for you. :)

~ Sydney ~

Happy (Belated) Mother’s Day! (And Happy 1st Post?)

Don’t worry, I remembered it yesterday- just didn’t have enough time to blog about my day. We enjoyed a nice day up in San Francisco and the weather was BEAUTIFUL.

Image

View from China Beach.

DSCN0656

China Beach.

Gorgeous, right? I wish I could spend more time up there- great weather (I love the fog), plenty of amazing food and an abundance of cultures all meshed together.

We started the day off in the upper Mission area and tried out a restaurant called Grub. Reasonable prices, bottomless Mimosas (Mom loved that!) and quality dishes. I had the Pulled Pork Sandwich that came with a side of french fries (they listed them as “pomme frittes”, but whatever- I’m not really into the whole fancy shmancy names for average foods).

Image

A few of my friends are vegetarians and honestly I don’t understand how they can cope without meat… I mean, who could resist that ^^ ? They’re missing out big time. (But I guess that means there’s more for me!) ;)

We walked around the Mission for a while afterwards and stumbled upon a few cute shops. This one building was very charming on the first floor… But wow. The second level gave us all the creeps. There was definitely an eerie feeling to the peeling paint and huge level filled with old furniture. Looks like the set of the next cheesy horror film…

DSCN0638

Just so you know, I really have no tolerance for horror films- gory movies aren’t my thing.

Anyways, after the “haunted” building, we went to Russian Hill in search of coffee. I had the best fro-yo of my life at this tiny place called Loving Cup. I can’t even begin how to describe how they make it. You pick from a list of toppings and they like, blend it in. The coffee is amazing too (or so I heard). Although it’s fairly expensive ($4.75 for a medium fro-yo), I’d say it was worth every. single. penny. :) I have a picture, but it’s pretty bad because I took it after I had already indulged. But if you can get past the crappy photo quality, please just imagine: decadent, creamy, rich (my stomach thought it was ice cream) and flavorful.

DSCN0642

This photo embarrasses me. It really doesn’t do the yogurt any justice. Oh well.

Anyways, hopefully we’ll be going to the city more often because summer is just around the corner! I can’t wait to get through finals and be freeeeeeee. :)

I’ll be sharing a recipe I made for Mother’s Day sometime this week!

~ Sydney ~