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66 posts categorized " 07) Cookies, Brownies, Bars, Fudge & Brittle"

11/07/2018

~ Triple Chocolate & Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies ~

In a nutshell, the problem with loving the combination of chocolate and peanut butter is you can't eat Reese's peanut butter cups with your morning coffee -- well, you can, you just can't admit to it. These brownies, inspired by a version my mom used to make using a Duncan Hines brownie mix, are a pitch-perfect reason to skip waffles and pancakes and start the day with a brownie. Back in the days when no one ever heard of a peanut allergy, they made great lunch box treats too. A rich triple-chocolate layer, &, a thin salty peanut-butter layer sandwiched...... View full recipe for "~ Triple Chocolate & Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies ~"

07/31/2018

~ Peanut Butter-Banana-Oat & Tropical Trail Mix Bars ~

Hot fun in the Summertime. As a fan of peanut butter and banana sandwiches (no honey please, just smash a banana into some crunchy peanut butter and slather it between two slices of my Wonder bread or toast), when I decided to intervene in the world of recipes for peanut butter and banana bar cookies, I already knew my version was going to be loaded with one of my favorite snacks: sweet and savory tropical trail mix (my favorite brand is a mix of dried coconut, mango, papaya and pineapple, raisins, banana chips, brazil nuts, cashews and peanuts). Oh yum....... View full recipe for "~ Peanut Butter-Banana-Oat & Tropical Trail Mix Bars ~"

06/10/2018

~Love is Blueberry Oatmeal-Crumble Cookie Squares~

Blueberries are a fruit best served cooked. Simmer down and read on. When it comes to eating fresh, perfectly-ripe, high-quality, locally-grown berries hand-to-mouth, there are three seedier-types I enjoy more -- blackberries, strawberries and raspberries (in that order). I love blueberries, but, it's my opinion that the blueberry is enhanced by cooking. Given a choice, I'll choose the blueberry jam, blueberry pie or blueberry bread pudding over the bowl of fresh blueberries any day of the week -- they even taste better after the little bit of cooking they get in pancakes. Dare to be a buttery-rich & delicately-crumbly kind...... View full recipe for "~Love is Blueberry Oatmeal-Crumble Cookie Squares~"

05/22/2018

~ Buttery Candied-Pecan and Toffee Bit Shortbread ~

Shortbread. Melt-in-my-mouth, buttery-rich, slightly-salty and not-too-sweet, every bite of one of these humbly-crumbly understated cookies is akin to an extravagant indulgence -- the amuse bouche of the sweet treat kind. From one or two sitting atop a paper napkin next to a cup of caffeine, to hundreds piled high on shiny trays at a celebration, shortbread has earned its place on the table of any occasion. In my food world, every day and its accompanying problems has the potential to turn out ok, as long as there are a few shortbread to nibble on in the cookie jar. A day...... View full recipe for "~ Buttery Candied-Pecan and Toffee Bit Shortbread ~"

01/02/2018

~Swiss Chocolate, Cherry & Almond Puff Pastry Braid~

Imagine eating a freshly-baked, still-warm chocolate croissant at your favorite coffee shop. Just thinking about one of those divinely decadent indulgences makes me happy. Now imagine it super-sized, more than enough to feed four, with sweet cherries and crunchy almonds added to it too. Need I say more? Valentine's Day will be here before we know it, and, if you're looking to surprise the chocolate lover in your life with something truly sweet, stash the ingredients on this list in your pantry and freezer, then, start counting the days to February 14th. Tick, tock. From appetizers to entrées to desserts......... View full recipe for "~Swiss Chocolate, Cherry & Almond Puff Pastry Braid~"

12/25/2017

~ Four Kid-Friendly Candy-Bar Cookies of My Youth ~

I happily chose cookies-made-with-candy-bars as this year's 2017 theme for Christmas cookies on Kitchen Encounters, and, I gleefully baked all four. Reese's, Snickers, Kit Kat and Whoppers. Everyone is well-familiar with this cast of candy-bar characters. These particular four weren't just chosen at random. They were my favorite candy bars when I was a kid -- they're close to my heart, and, they're an all-star lineup too. I know, Whoppers aren't a bar -- whatever, move along. A bite out of any one of them would bring a smile to my face, and, if asked to make a choice, to...... View full recipe for "~ Four Kid-Friendly Candy-Bar Cookies of My Youth ~"

12/23/2017

~ Whoppers Milk-Chocolate Malted-Milk-Ball Cookies ~

Back in the 1970's, a shopping trip with mom to Hazleton, Pennsylvania's indoor Laurel Mall, was not complete without picking up a carton of Whoppers -- conveniently located close to the checkouts in the K-Mart. I was almost a teenager. My brother, three years younger, required a stop at K-Mart to appease him -- and it was always our last stop at the mall. Whoppers were our treat for the thirty-minute car ride home, and, as mightily as we all tried, it was next to impossible for mom, David, and I, not to polish off the contents of that entire...... View full recipe for "~ Whoppers Milk-Chocolate Malted-Milk-Ball Cookies ~"

12/18/2017

~ My Chewy Coconut & Crispy White-Kit-Kat Cookies ~

The first time my mom came home from the grocery store with a bag of white chocolate chips, I was fascinated by them. "What are you going to do with these?" It turns out she was going to bake white-chocolate macadamia-nut cookies that Nestlé had printed on their package. "Daddy loves macadamia nuts." I knew he was going to love mom's new all-white cookie invention -- I could barely wait for the butter to soften. Tick tock. As we two gathered together and measured the list of ingredients, it was mom who schooled me on the fact that white chocolate...... View full recipe for "~ My Chewy Coconut & Crispy White-Kit-Kat Cookies ~"

12/12/2017

~Chocolate & Peanut-Butter-Snickers Cookie Squares~

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Just when I thought Snickers couldn't be improved upon, I find out they make peanut-butter-Snickers bars. Yes, my love of milk chocolate and peanut butter struck again for the second time in two weeks -- this time in the form of bar cookies. By the time you read this post, I will have sliced these into small, three-four bite squares, individually wrapped them in plastic and stacked/stashed them in a corner of my freezer. Amongst the foodie cravings I get, believe it or not, chocolate isn't in my...... View full recipe for "~Chocolate & Peanut-Butter-Snickers Cookie Squares~"

12/07/2017

~ Over-the-Top Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies ~

Amongst the foodie cravings I get, chocolate isn't in my top ten. That said, I confess to a weakness for Reese's peanut butter cups and Snickers bars. There's just something about the combination of mellow milk chocolate and salty peanuts or peanut butter that I find hard to resist. I love it enough to keep a bag of mini-Reese's cups and a bag of snack-sized peanut-butter Snickers bars in my freezer. A bite-sized nibble of either one and I am a happy woman. Two things transpired this week: I replenished my supply of mini-Reese's cups via Amazon. My candy delivery...... View full recipe for "~ Over-the-Top Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cookies ~"

09/28/2017

~ Seriously Special K Crispy & Chewy Sugar Cookies ~

Sugar cookies traditionally fall into the category of "rolled cookies" which are cut into shapes to suit your fancy and the occasion, but, they can be treated as "drop cookies" too, meaning: they can be formed into uniform-sized balls and baked. They can be crisp and thin or soft and thick. They should melt-in-your mouth, taste rich and buttery and have a flaky, delicate texture. Perfectly baked sugar cookies have clean edges that hold shape when baked. They emerge from the oven just cooked through and puffy, with almost no signs of browning. Sugar cookies require patience and love --...... View full recipe for "~ Seriously Special K Crispy & Chewy Sugar Cookies ~"

09/20/2017

~ Start Dunking: Double-Raisin Bran Cereal Cookies ~

If you're one of the few, the proud and the many who adore Kellogg's raisin bran, this cookie recipe is for you. I'm sure the recipe is a Kellogg's original too, because I remember sitting at my mother's kitchen counter the day she made them, for me, the first time. It's odd, but, as a child, when all the other kids were reaching for the Frosted Flakes and Sugar Pops, the only two cold cereals I would eat were: Kellogg's Raisin Bran and Special K exclusively. That 1960's Winter afternoon, which was a snow day off from school, we decided...... View full recipe for "~ Start Dunking: Double-Raisin Bran Cereal Cookies ~"

09/05/2017

~ Butter-Rum Frosted Banana-Walnut Spice Cookies ~

Spice is nice, particularly in spice cakes and spice cookies, and, when Summer turns to Fall, I find myself gravitating to spiced sweet treats. I generically refer to them as the "apple pie spices" -- you know the ones -- spice rack essentials. They're exotic and aromatic, and, they play oh-so-well together: allspice, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and nutmeg. Sometimes I choose just one or two, other times I use three or four, occasionally I use all five. That said, I'm always reminding folks to use them judiciously, as, too much of any one, is overpoweringly wrong. These spice cookies are...... View full recipe for "~ Butter-Rum Frosted Banana-Walnut Spice Cookies ~"

08/20/2017

~Oatmeal Peanut-Butter Milk-Chocolate-Chip Cookies~

At 6:30AM I took my poodles outside and turned the sprinklers in our vegetable gardens on. As the water droplets hit the leaves, I watched as the red tomatoes, green basil, purple eggplant and other prime produce started to glisten in the early morning sun. While walking my pooches back to the house, I decided to bake cookies today. A girl cannot live on tomato sandwiches and caprese salad forever. The eggplant will live to see another day too. It's cookies I crave. This is the paragraph where I am supposed to divulge where I got this recipe, share a...... View full recipe for "~Oatmeal Peanut-Butter Milk-Chocolate-Chip Cookies~"

06/30/2017

~Dare to be Square: Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares~

Pan cookies. That's what I called this oldie-but-goodie recipe way back when my mom used to make them in the 1970's. She made Magic Cookie Squares and a Wacky Cake in that 9" x 13" aluminum pan too, but, when I asked for pan cookies, or, when she announced she was making pan cookies, it meant one thing: The Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Pan Cookie -- the one printed on the back of their bags of semi-sweet chocolate morsels (and currently on their website). It also meant that besides a few days of great after-school snacks, there'd be...... View full recipe for "~Dare to be Square: Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares~"

04/30/2017

~ Five-Minute Food-Processor Cream-Cheese Glaze ~

Everyone loves cream cheese frosting sandwiched between the layers and slathered on the sides and top of an applesauce, banana, carrot, coconut or pumpkin cake -- meet my short list of layer-, sheet-, or cup- cakes that require cream cheese frosting. That said, certain quick breads and muffins (which traditionally don't get frosted), many bundt cakes, cinnamon rolls, pastries and even an occasional cookie, benefit from a smooth, drizzly, glaze, and, the tang that cream cheese adds to the classic confectioners'-sugar-and-milk mixture is: a perfect finishing touch. I've decided, in tandem with a few professionals, that making the ultimate smooth,...... View full recipe for "~ Five-Minute Food-Processor Cream-Cheese Glaze ~"

03/26/2017

~ Lidia's Big, Golden, Crunch-a-licious, Sugar Cookie ~

Question. Have you ever been tempted to bake one giant cookie? The one you're looking at here is an oval, about 12" long and 10" wide. It's a thing of beauty. It's sugar cookie perfection. No need to chill or roll dough or cut cookies. No nothing. It eliminates all the nonsense involved with baking sugar cookies. Second question. How many times have you bought sugar cookies to process, or sugar cookie crumbs to use ready-made, to make a cookie crust for a pie or a cheesecake or sprinkle between the layers of a parfait? Admit it, we all do...... View full recipe for "~ Lidia's Big, Golden, Crunch-a-licious, Sugar Cookie ~"

01/07/2017

~ Nana's Pennsylvania Deutsch Sand Tart Cookies ~

Over the weekend we took a quick trip to Eastern Pennsylvania (Hometown) to visit my parents. Mom and dad subscribe to The Morning Call newspaper, which publishes quite an impressive food section each Wednesday. My mother saves them for me, so whenever I visit, I have a short stack of "foodie reading" to peruse during our two hour ride back to Happy Valley. It's very enjoyable, and, on occasion, one inspires me to write a blog post. Today is such a day. On Wed., Dec. 7th, the foodie headline in The Morning Call read: "Macungie woman finds late Great-Aunt's recipe...... View full recipe for "~ Nana's Pennsylvania Deutsch Sand Tart Cookies ~"

12/17/2016

~ Old-Fashioned Chocolate & Almond Buttercrunch ~

Caramel, butterscotch, English toffee and American buttercrunch. These rich butter-and-sugar-based candies are all related, and, I have an affinity for them all. As a little kid, my hand gravitated to the bag of those little chewy squares of Kraft Caramels, and, when I got a little older, I always kept a few cellophane-wrapped Brach's Butterscotch hard-candies in my purse -- they were a way to enjoy an otherwise long and boring class at school or sermon at church. I developed a crush for English toffee in London the 1990's. There was a Confectioner across the street from our hotel and...... View full recipe for "~ Old-Fashioned Chocolate & Almond Buttercrunch ~"

12/12/2016

~ Boozy Confection: Coconut Rum & Walnut Balls ~

In my lifetime, I can't recall a holiday season without encountering these boozy little sweet treats somewhere. As a child, one of our neighbors, Agnes, always served rum balls at her Christmas party and we kids made a point of sneaking a few when the adults weren't looking. As an adult, I typically serve them alongside my rum-laced eggnog to ring in the New Year. If there is a person who doesn't like a chocolatey rum ball rolled in coconut, I've yet to meet him or her. Rum balls are on my top 5 list of "easiest holiday confections". Rum...... View full recipe for "~ Boozy Confection: Coconut Rum & Walnut Balls ~"

08/26/2016

~ I'm in the Mood for: Plain-Jane Chocolate Cookies ~

Hold the chocolate chunks, hold the chopped nuts and hold everything you think you can put in a chocolate cookie to impress me. Don't bother sprinkling them with fancy sea salt, slathering them with caramel frosting or sandwiching them together with a layer of your best buttercream either. It won't work. As a well-seasoned foodie who lives in the blog world, where everyone strives to make each and every recipe unique in some way or another, in my kitchen, every once in a while, plain is the best flavor of all -- especially when it comes to these chocolate cookies....... View full recipe for "~ I'm in the Mood for: Plain-Jane Chocolate Cookies ~"

05/28/2016

~ Tropical Fruit, Nut and Chocolate-Chip Congo Bars ~

In most circles, Congo squares or Congo bar-cookies are made by spreading a batch of Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie batter into a square or rectangular pan, then cutting the big cookie into smaller, cookie-sized squares or bars after baking. They shouldn't be confused with layered or 'magic' cookie bars -- the kind with a graham cracker crust and held together with condensed milk. The Congo square is a WWII era pan-cookie marketed like this back in 1942: The Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip "Congo Square" Pan-Cookie is like a brownie with all the rich flavors of a...... View full recipe for "~ Tropical Fruit, Nut and Chocolate-Chip Congo Bars ~"

05/25/2016

~ Chocolate & Crunchy-Peanut-Butter Brownie Bites~

Things I know: I know I will always choose a chocolate brownie over a slice of chocolate cake. I know I will always choose chunky over smooth peanut butter too. I like the informality of the pick-up-and-eat moist and cohesive user-friendly brownie over the refined use-a-fork-and-don't-get-any-crumbs-on-my-floor, moist and grainy cake. As for peanut butter, I choose Jiffy over Skippy, never was a fan of Peter Pan, and I adore the flavor and texture that roasted peanuts add to it. I know that chocolate and peanut butter is an irresistible combination. Put peanut butter frosting on a chocolate brownie and I'll...... View full recipe for "~ Chocolate & Crunchy-Peanut-Butter Brownie Bites~"

04/17/2016

~ Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate-Raspberry Tart Bars ~

The purchase of a few rectangular- and square-shaped tart pans were some of the best baking investments I've ever made. When it comes to serving crumbly cookie-type crusted tarts with custardy-textured centers, I find portioning and slicing a tart into bars or squares, instead of wedges from a round-shaped pan, more "user friendly" -- it's a kind of unique presentation too. There's more: When I'm making tarts that require refrigeration, I find these shapes to be a more efficient use of refrigerator space -- which, in my kitchen, is valuable real estate. "Tarte au chocolat" -- no special skills required!...... View full recipe for "~ Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate-Raspberry Tart Bars ~"

02/29/2016

~ Making Graham Cracker & Cookie Crumb Crusts ~

Cheesecakes, cream pies, many layered bar-type cookies, and, some refrigerated pudding and frozen ice-cream desserts call for using a graham cracker or cookie crumb crust as a buttery, crunchy base. While homemade graham crackers, sugar cookies, gingersnaps and chocolate wafers make exceptional crumb crusts, I won't lie, it would have to be one heck of an insanely over-the-top dessert for me to bake any of them for the sole purpose of starting with a real-deal scratch-made base. That said, I don't at all care for the quality of ready-made crumb crusts. Why? They taste bland to me, and that's primarily...... View full recipe for "~ Making Graham Cracker & Cookie Crumb Crusts ~"

01/24/2016

~ Old-Fashioned Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cookies ~

Oatmeal -- I've loved it since the first spoonful of Gerber's got fed to me (or so I am told). I like my oatmeal creamy and smooth, I like it thick and lumpy, and, I especially like it crispy on the outside and chewy in the center of a cookie. I prefer oatmeal cookies to chocolate chip cookies and I do not like chocolate chips in my oatmeal cookies. If you are an oatmeal cookie lover, you already have a favorite recipe. If you are in search of "the best" or "ultimate" oatmeal cookie recipe, you'll not find any claims...... View full recipe for "~ Old-Fashioned Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cookies ~"

12/26/2015

~ The Original Nestle's Toll House Cookie Recipe ~

When my mom asked me to bake the Toll House cookies for Christmas, I did it with more joy than all the fancy-schmancy stuff I have baked in a long while. When I was a kid, Toll House cookies reigned supreme. Besides store-bought Fig Newtons and Pecan Sandies, homemade gingersnaps and Toll House were one of the few cookies my dad would eat. The apple didn't fall far from the tree -- we both dislike Oreos too. So, every year, amongst an array of fancy confections, the basic Toll House cookie proudly takes its place on our holiday cookie tray....... View full recipe for "~ The Original Nestle's Toll House Cookie Recipe ~"

12/23/2015

~ My Six-Ingredient Last-Minute Eggnog Shortbread ~

There are two kinds of people. Those who finished their holiday baking last week and those who haven't started. If your holiday is under control in a Martha Stewart-esque sort of way, the force is with you and you need no help from me today. If, however, you fall into the category of those who just got home from doing all of your gift shopping and find yourself panic stricken in the kitchen in need of a last-minute cookie recipe, preheat your oven to 325 degrees now. ~ Step 1. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom...... View full recipe for "~ My Six-Ingredient Last-Minute Eggnog Shortbread ~ "

10/26/2015

~Pumpkin Spice Cookies w/Cream Cheese Frosting~

My grandmother never made pumpkin cookies, my mother never made pumpkin cookies, and I never felt deprived. The first time I encountered pumpkin cookies was at an elementary-school Fall-Festival fundraising-bake-sale back in the 1980's. All of the teachers and staff baked Fall desserts which were served with coffee and tea to us parents as we watched our kids parade through the school in their costumes. At the end of the festivities, the desserts were sold, some by the piece, some by the dozen -- you get the picture. My son Jesse's first grade teacher, Mrs. Rhodes, made pumpkin cookies, from...... View full recipe for "~Pumpkin Spice Cookies w/Cream Cheese Frosting~"

07/17/2015

~ Andrew's Favorite: His Mom's Cherry Cookie Bars ~

Cherries and cherry desserts -- more specifically sour cherries and sour cherry desserts -- I don't know anyone who doesn't love cherries. My husband picked 150 pounds of pie cherries from our backyard tree last week, and ever since, I've been "making hay while the sun shines" -- posting as many of my favorite cherry recipes as I am physically capable in order to use up all of these culinary jewels. Click on the Related Article links below to get the most recent ones. Andrew is the Production Manager for WHVL-TV here in State College, PA. He's the host of...... View full recipe for "~ Andrew's Favorite: His Mom's Cherry Cookie Bars ~"

07/12/2015

~ Sweet Treats: Sour-Cherry-Pie Cookie Squares ~

When it comes to cherry desserts, these sweet little easy-to-make cherry treats hold their own amongst the heavy hitters. I can't lie either, this is not an original recipe of mine, it is my amped-up version of one that came straight from the pages of Taste of Home magazine, which, as most home cooks know, is one of a handful of reliable sources for good-tasting, easy-to-make, family-friendly, kitchen-tested recipes made from readily-available or on-hand ingredients. When it comes to baking fruit pies, tarts and galettes, with few exceptions, I never consider using pre-cooked, store-bought, canned pie filling (which is what...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Treats: Sour-Cherry-Pie Cookie Squares ~"

07/09/2015

~ Seriously Simple Stovetop Sour Cherry Pie Filling ~

When it comes to baking fruit pies, tarts and galettes, with few exceptions, I never consider using pre-cooked pie filling, the kind made-from-scratch, in advance, on the stovetop. Lots of people do, and, I'm not here to criticize. If the end justifies the means, there is nothing wrong with pre-cooked. In fact, it's a commonly used, kid-tested, mother-approved method. There's more. Even when I'm faced with an over-abundance of fruit, depending on the fruit, whenever it's applicable, I choose freezing the fruit or cooked fruit concoction over the more laborious option: water-bath canning and preserving (which was a necessary way...... View full recipe for "~ Seriously Simple Stovetop Sour Cherry Pie Filling ~"

06/01/2015

~ GrandMel is Not a Campfire Girl: S'mores Indoors ~

I hate camping. Camping caused me to quit the Girl Scouts in 1965. I was nine. Hiking into the woods, pitching a tent, building a campfire, singing songs, telling ghost stories, sleeping on the ground in a bag with a zipper, gazing at the stars, listening to the crickets, smelling the night air -- I hated it all. All it took was one night in the woods and I quit -- the very next day. I gave my green uniform to my girlfriend Brenda and went AWOL. I did, however, enjoy the s'mores. You don't have to love the lifestyle...... View full recipe for "~ GrandMel is Not a Campfire Girl: S'mores Indoors ~"

05/14/2015

~ It's the Little Things: Homemade Graham Crackers~

A graham cracker dunked into a glass of milk. Said with certainty, once I was removed from my high-chair and placed at the table, this is the first store-bought snack I was allowed to sink my baby teeth into. Then, when I got to kindergarten (back in 1960 there was no such thing as daycare or preschool and kindergarten was limited to a five-hour half-day), one big graham cracker, which each one of us kids carefully cracked into four parts, was the snack the teacher handed out every morning at 10:30AM with our half-pint of milk. After snacks, we got...... View full recipe for "~ It's the Little Things: Homemade Graham Crackers~"

05/08/2015

~Fun with Flour Tortillas: Sugar 'n Cinnamon Snacks~

When I first tasted these easy-to-make sweet snacks, my heart skipped a beat. It was back in the 1970's and leftover, made-from-scratch flour tortillas were cut into strips and deep-fried. When they emerged from the hot oil, all curled up and crunchy and resemblant of Fritos, they were immediately tossed in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. My girlfriend Toni, a Mexican-American, served them with cinnamon ice-cream. "Totopos de azucar con canela" ("sugar and cinnamon chips") are, what I suppose to be the Mexican-American version of what us American grandmothers do with leftover scraps of pie pastry -- we make...... View full recipe for "~Fun with Flour Tortillas: Sugar 'n Cinnamon Snacks~"

04/21/2015

~ Madeleines: 'Hoity-Toity' Shell-Shaped Tea Cakes~

If you ever want to be accused of being hoity-toity (a pretentious show-off), serve some freshly-baked buttery-rich madeleines with tea or coffee as a finish to your next ladies luncheon. Within my small circle of close friends this kind of thing happens all the time. We take it upon ourselves to poke fun at each others talents -- especially after a few cocktails. It keeps us grounded. When lunch is at my house, I am the designated target. "La-tee-da, Melanie made madeleines." Revenge is sweet because the jib-jabs flow both ways. "Mel, these cookies are great." "Barb, they're not cookies,...... View full recipe for "~ Madeleines: 'Hoity-Toity' Shell-Shaped Tea Cakes~"

03/03/2015

~ I've Got Ganache! Gotta make Chocolate Truffles ~

Chocolate truffles. Sigh. I know people who pay big bucks for them. Sigh. I am not of that mindset -- I make my own, and the end 100% justifies the means. Chocolate truffles are the easiest confection you will ever make resulting in the most gratitude and accolades. You got kids? Conduct an experiment. Give them a choice between a chocolate cupcake, a brownie, or, a truffle as an after-school snack. Truffle moms are the best moms -- call it "truffle love"! A sweet treat as an after school snack? Simmer down & read: Save your "don't give your kid...... View full recipe for "~ I've Got Ganache! Gotta make Chocolate Truffles ~"

01/31/2015

~ Sugar 'n Cinnamon Toasted-Pound-Cake Sticks ~

This simply-delicious short-and-sweet, playful post is for anyone who loves cinnamon toast with their coffee or tea in the morning -- just looking at the cute little Domino Sugar 'n Cinnamon container makes me smile. This sweet 'n aromatic powdery concoction, when sprinkled atop a pat or two of sweet cream butter melting over a hot, crispy piece of toast is blissful. My grandmother had a penchant for sweets, sometimes finding ways to make sweet things even sweeter. She had a "sweet tooth". One of the things my she did on occasion was treat a piece of 'Plain Jane' pound...... View full recipe for "~ Sugar 'n Cinnamon Toasted-Pound-Cake Sticks ~"

12/11/2014

~ Baking Basic: Evaporated Milk & Condensed Milk ~

I was just asked a question from a KE reader who said, "I ruined my mother's pumpkin pie recipe at Thanksgiving because I substituted condensed milk for evaporated milk. I'm about to bake some Christmas cookies from one of her recipes, and, while I won't make that mistake twice, I still don't understand what the difference is between the two. Can you quickly explain it to me?" It only takes a taste of each to know they are very different... No kidding around, I thought everyone knew the difference between these two commonly used ingredients -- I remember learning about...... View full recipe for "~ Baking Basic: Evaporated Milk & Condensed Milk ~"

12/09/2014

~ Mel's Happy Valley Meyer Dairy Eggnog Cookies ~

Eggnog -- the traditional and official drink of Christmas and New Years. There is nothing quite like sipping slowly from a punch-cup full of this creamy-rich liquor-laced libation. In many families, making eggnog from scratch is an event. The recipe is often times a well-guarded secret, being passed down from generation to generation. The only egg nog I got to drink as a child were the sips I could sneak out of a jovial adult's punch cup at more than a few neighborhood cocktail parties. Our nextdoor neighbor, Mrs. Rimm, she made great eggnog! A bit about eggnog: References to...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Happy Valley Meyer Dairy Eggnog Cookies ~"

12/01/2014

~ How do you measure up? Dry vs. Liquid Measure ~

'Tis the season for making and baking candies, cookies, cakes and all sorts of sweet treats. Great cooks know that in order to achieve confection perfection, it's imperative to weigh and measure all ingredients precisely -- and this means using the right tools the right way. How many of us have tried to duplicate one of grandma's vintage recipes only to be met with disappointment in the end because grandma measured using "a handful of this" and "a pinch of that". If this was how grandma measured, grandma wasn't a great cook and I don't care how good her food...... View full recipe for "~ How do you measure up? Dry vs. Liquid Measure ~"

09/21/2014

~ Apple What? Bars, Blondies, Brownies? Squares!!! (Pennsylvania Dutch-Style Apple-Streusel Squares) ~

Where I grew up, these were called apple squares -- a lesser known but very popular and delicious apple dessert in Pennsylvania Deutsch country (the land of apple desserts). Lots of women made them. I liken them to a moist and crumbly cross between a Jewish apple cake and a German apple-streusel coffee cake. Recently, I've seen them referred to as apple blondies and apple brownies, but, unless my "cheese has slid off my cracker" they have little to do with either: A brownie is made with chocolate and a blondie is a brownie made with butterscotch instead of chocolate....... View full recipe for "~ Apple What? Bars, Blondies, Brownies? Squares!!! (Pennsylvania Dutch-Style Apple-Streusel Squares) ~"

08/01/2014

~ Loco for Cocoa: Spicy Chocolate Cherry Cookies ~

This recipe started off back in the 1980's as a simple-to-make but excellent chocolate chocolate-chip drop-cookie recipe. It was so kid-tested and mother approved there was a period in my life when I had it committed to memory. Those were the PTA bake-sale days -- these and a few other cookies of mine (gingersnaps, snickerdoodles and peanut butter cookies) made a few elementary schools quite a few dollars. I remember making 25 dozen of these chocolate cookies for Park Forest Elementary's Thanksgiving play (Jesse, in the 1st grade at the time, played the role of Christopher Columbus and opened the...... View full recipe for "~ Loco for Cocoa: Spicy Chocolate Cherry Cookies ~ "

02/11/2014

~ Hello Dolly! The 5-6-7- Layer 'Magic' Cookie Bar! ~

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, I've decided to share a few retro sweet treat recipes of my youth this week. If you are in your 50's or 60's, you know the ones: those quick and easy to make "back-of--the-box" recipes our moms made for us. It's always fun to take a trip back to kinder, gentler times and you can find my recipes for ~ 'Impossible' Coconut Custard Pie ~ and ~ Pucker Up for: Triple-Lemon Lemon Squares ~ by clicking on the Related Article links below. I was about 9, circa 1964, when my mom started making...... View full recipe for "~ Hello Dolly! The 5-6-7- Layer 'Magic' Cookie Bar! ~"

02/08/2014

~ Pucker Up for: Triple-Lemon Lemon Bars/Squares ~

Call me an eternal sourpuss. Lemonade, lemon sorbet, lemon meringue pie, lemon tart, lemon cheesecake, lemon pound cake, lemon shortbread, etc. Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, these are a few of my favorite things. I am a lover of all things tart and citrusy, and, I consider the lemon the diva of all citrus. I am never without lemons in my refrigerator and pure lemon oil in my pantry, because, like salt, their zest, juice and textureless, bold-flavored oil just makes everything taste better. I'm not a lemon snob either. I prefer the ordinary, tart, supermarket lemon to the "sweet"...... View full recipe for "~ Pucker Up for: Triple-Lemon Lemon Bars/Squares ~ "

12/20/2013

~ "My" No-Fail, Easy-to-Make Sugar Cookie Recipe ~

Just in time for the premiere cookie baking holiday of the year, yesterday, I got an e-mail from a reader living in "sugar cookie purgatory": I'd like to say I was surprised, but, I wasn't. I'm quite adept at baking, and, I'm ok with stating: sugar cookies can be positively persnickity. Taking it one step further: The easiest cookie to screw up is the sugar cookie. While these cookies only contain a few simple ingredients, "things" can and will go wrong quickly, especially if details regarding mixing, refrigerating and rolling this delicate dough are left out of the recipe instructions....... View full recipe for "~ "My" No-Fail, Easy-to-Make Sugar Cookie Recipe ~"

12/17/2013

~ Martin Yan's Wonderful Walnut Cookies a la Mel ~

It's time to get into the Christmas spirit, and, unless you're from a different planet, if you are the family cook, this means cookie baking. My recipe file is full of ethnic and heritage cookie recipes passed down to me from my Eastern European (Russian Orthodox) family, Joe's Italian (Catholic) family, my diverse group of friends, plus, some worldly ones that I've picked up over the years on our travels. Some are quick and easy-to-make, some are time consuming and difficult. Some are big, some are small, all of them are delicious, and: ever since I began this blog in...... View full recipe for "~ Martin Yan's Wonderful Walnut Cookies a la Mel ~"

11/07/2013

~ Flour Facts: All-Purpose, Bread, Cake and Pastry ~

As the holiday season approaches, family bakers everywhere will be purchasing flour to make their signature breads and sweet treats: pies for Thanksiving, cookies for Christmas, cakes for New Years, etc. There are savory ethnic treats too. For example: My family's Eastern European noodles and pirogi, and, Joe's Italian family's pasta and pizza. Savvy bakers with heritage recipes will be purchasing more than one type of flour to accomplish all of these with ease! A well-written recipe will specify the type of flour required to produce the best results, and, I'd rather not bake something than substitute different flour. Why?...... View full recipe for "~ Flour Facts: All-Purpose, Bread, Cake and Pastry ~"

10/13/2013

~ Let's Talk Chocolate: All about Baker's Chocolate ~

Baker's chocolate per se is an unsweetened dark chocolate intended for baking, not eating. On its own, it does not have a pleasant taste (truthfully, it tastes awful), but, when you combine it with ingredients like eggs, sugar, flour and milk, it adds lots of deep, rich chocolaty flavor to all sorts of sweet treats. That being said, when a recipe specifically calls for "Baker's Chocolate", with the "B" being capitalized, the recipe is telling you to use a brand of chocolate that has been used in our kitchens for over 200 years and was invented right here in America....... View full recipe for "~ Let's Talk Chocolate: All about Baker's Chocolate ~"

07/03/2013

~ Culinary Jewels: Dehydrated Sour (Pie) Cherries ~

I am a fruit lover and I've been baking with dried fruits for as long as I've been baking, which is almost 40 years. I grew up watching my grandmother add dried apricots, dates and raisins to all sorts of Eastern European baked goods. I was a young mom of three small boys when the trail mix craze began. My kids liked the brand that included dried bananas, pineapple and papaya. Back in those pre-internet days, if I wanted to make homemade trail mix for our family, catalog shopping was my source for buying dried fruits and nuts, and, one...... View full recipe for "~ Culinary Jewels: Dehydrated Sour (Pie) Cherries ~"