Speculoos with Spiced Sugar Topping

I cannot resist trying a new Speculoos recipe. I am mildly obsessed with these crispy spice cookies! 😉 I love the spiced sugar sprinkle on this delicious version. They may be my new favorite!

This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Erika Bruce. I modified the method and used a combination of molasses and light corn syrup instead of dark corn syrup. Next year I need to make a double batch!

Yield: about 60 2-inch square cookies

  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 320 g (2 2/3 cups) cake flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, cool room temperature
  • 218 g (1 cup) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1 1/2 T light corn syrup
  • 1/2 T molasses
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Line 4 baking sheets with kitchen parchment.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon, coriander and allspice. Measure 1 teaspoon of the mixture into another small bowl, then whisk the white sugar into it and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, cloves and the remaining spice mixture.
  4. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and salt on low until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase to medium-high and beat until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes.
  5. With the mixer running, gradually add the corn syrup, molasses, and 2 tablespoons water.
  6. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl, then mix for another 30 seconds.
  7. Reduce to low, add the flour mixture and mix until the ingredients just begin to form an evenly moistened dough, about 15 seconds.
  8. Dust the counter liberally with flour and scrape the dough onto it. Gently knead the dough, giving it 2 or 3 turns, until smooth; it should feel moist and supple but should not be sticky.
  9. Divide the dough in half; wrap 1 piece in plastic and set aside. With your hands, pat the second piece into a rough 8-by-6-inch rectangle.
  10. Using a well-floured rolling pin, or between layers of plastic wrap, roll the dough rectangle to an even 1/8-inch thickness. Wrap well and place in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. (I place the dough on a plastic cutting board to keep it flat.)
  11. With a 2-inch rectangular or round cookie cutter (ideally with a fluted edge), cut out cookies as close together as possible. Use an offset spatula to carefully transfer the cutouts to one of the prepared pieces of parchment paper, spacing them about 1/2-inch apart. (I used a square cookie cutter.)
  12. Gently pat the dough scraps together, then re-roll and cut out additional cookies; transfer the cutouts to parchment paper.
  13. If desired, use a slightly smaller cutter of the same shape to imprint a decorative border (do not cut all the way through the dough) and use a toothpick to poke a few holes in the centers. (I put 4 holes in the center of each square.)
  14. Sprinkle the cookies evenly with half of the spiced sugar, then freeze or refrigerate uncovered for 15 minutes. (I place the parchment paper on a plastic cutting board to put it in the freezer.)
  15. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
  16. Place the first sheet of cookies in the oven. Bake until the cookies are firm and beginning to brown, 14 minutes, on convection, or up to 18 minutes in a standard oven, rotating once halfway through.
  17. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to a wire rack.
  18. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Cool completely before serving.

Frog Birthday Cake (Yellow Layer Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting & Oreo Filling)

My daughter’s 15th birthday celebration involved several sweet treats. All of her requests were granted! 🙂 We enjoyed crumb cake, salted brown butter blondies, number cookies, of course, and this cute cake. She asked for a frog cake after falling in love with others she had seen while perusing Pinterest.

For dinner, we had Summer Corn Pasta with Sausage & Basil– her favorite dish from our summer vacation in Rehoboth Beach. I was surprised by this request because we usually have calzones!

The recipe for the yellow layer cake was adapted from The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. We also enjoyed this cake on her 13th birthday. I used the vanilla cream cheese frosting with Oreo filling from her 12th birthday cake– it’s her favorite.

Yield: One 9-inch layer cake, generously frosted

For the Cake:

  • 7 oz (1 3/4 cups) plain cake flour, sifted, plus more for dusting pans
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 1/2 oz (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces
  • vanilla cream cheese frosting, recipe below
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans and cover the pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Grease the parchment rounds and dust the cake pans with flour, tapping out the excess. (I would consider using 8-inch pans next time to elevate the cake slightly.)
  3. Beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla with a fork in a 2-cup measuring cup with a spout. Measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat at the lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds.
  5. With the mixture still running at the lowest speed, add the butter, one piece at a time; mix until the butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, about 30 to 40 seconds after all the butter is added.
  6. Add the reserved 1 cup egg mixture and mix at the lowest speed until incorporated, about 5 to 10 seconds.
  7. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the remaining egg mixture (about 1/2 cup) in a slow, steady stream, taking about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  9. Beat at medium-high speed until thoroughly combined and the batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds.
  10. Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans. (about 1 lb plus 2.5 oz per pan) Spread to the sides of the pans and smooth with an offset or rubber spatula.
  11. Bake until the cake tops are light gold and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 27 minutes. The cakes will mound slightly but will level when cooled.
  12. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  13. Run a knife around the pan perimeter to loosen. Invert one cake onto a large plate and reinvert onto another wire rack. Repeat for the other layer. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and Oreo Filling (as well as Frogs & Mushrooms):

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 to 6 full-size Oreos or 15 mini-Oreos, crushed in a food processor
  • green gel food coloring, plus additional colors for mushroom caps, as desired
  • chocolate chips, for frog eyes
  • chocolate sprinkles, for frog mouths
  • sugar pearls, for mushroom caps
  1. Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low-speed to combine.
  4. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
  5. Remove about 1 cup frosting and set aside for mushrooms and frog cheeks.
  6. Remove 1 1/4 cup of frosting for the Oreo filling and place in separate bowl.
  7. Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling frosting. Spread on one of the layers.
  8. Place the second layer on top.
  9. Tint the remaining frosting pale green with food coloring, mixing well.
  10. Cover cake with a crumb coat and chill briefly, if necessary before continuing.
  11. Using an offset spatula, ice the sides of the cake with the pale green icing.
  12. Tint the remaining frosting deeper “frog green.” Place the majority of the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip, for the frog bodies. Place the remaining frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, for the frog eyes, arms, and legs.
  13. Pipe the frogs on the cake, as desired, using the large bag/tip. Add eyes, arms, and legs using the small bag/tip.
  14. Divide the remaining frosting into 4 bowls. Keep one bowl of frosting white for the mushroom stems.
  15. Tint one bowl red, for the frog cheeks and mushroom caps.
  16. Tint the other 2 bowls of frosting, as desired, for mushroom caps.
  17. Pipe mushroom stems around the sides of the cake. Using a variety of pastry bags and tips, pipe decorative multi-shaped mushroom caps on the stems. Decorate caps with sugar pearls.
  18. Pipe rosy cheeks on each frog with the red frosting.
  19. Place 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate chips in a sandwich sized ziplock bag. Microwave until melted. (I check the progress in 30 second increments.) Cut a small corner off of the ziplock bag; use the melted chocolate to pipe eyes onto the frogs.
  20. Add mouths onto the frogs with chocolate sprinkles.
  21. Chill prior to serving and store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

In the fall, my daughter would love to eat some sort of “pumpkin spice” item every day to celebrate the season. 😉 She loved these cupcakes!

These super moist cupcakes were delicious but it was the maple-cream cheese frosting that really put them over the top. The frosting was fabulously creamy with the perfect amount of sweetness.

The recipe was adapted from David Leite via smittenkitchen.com. I modified the method and used fine sea salt.

Yield: 18 cupcakes (with leftover frosting)

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

For the Frosting:

  • Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) pure maple syrup
  • pinch fine sea salt

To Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Heat oven to 350° (175°C), preferably on convection. Line a cupcake pan with 18 liners.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition.
  5. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup.
  6. Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures to the mixer, beginning and ending with the flour.
  7. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.
  8. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  9. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, rotating halfway through the baking time, about 19 to 20 minutes on convection or up to 20 to 25 minutes in a standard oven.
  10. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely before topping with the frosting.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter to combine.
  2. Add all of the additional ingredients and continue to beat on medium speed until fluffy.
  3. Frost the tops of each cupcake, swirling decoratively. (I used a pastry bag and decorative piping tip.)
  4. Refrigerate cupcakes for 30 minutes to set up frosting prior to serving.

Red Velvet Banana Pudding

My friend’s daughter is in love with Magnolia Bakery’s Famous Banana Pudding. She inspired me to peek at the recipe in their cookbook and to try this unique, upgraded version. The book declared that this is actually the “ultimate version.” 🙂

The recipe was adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Handbook- A Complete Guide for the Home Baker: Baking Made Easy with 150 Foolproof Recipes & Techniques by Bobbie Lloyd. I used red gel food coloring and modified the method. I also layered the dessert in various individual glass serving bowls. Fun. We love red velvet anything so this was very well received! I’m not sure that it even needed the bananas. 😉

This “ultimate version” requires advanced planning. I made the cake a day in advance. I would also recommend making the pudding base a day in advance! Next time. 😉 Once the dessert has been layered, it is refrigerated another 4 hours to overnight prior to serving.

Yield: Serves up to 16 (4 to 5 quarts)

For the Red Velvet Cake:

  • 383g/13.5oz (3 1/3 cups) cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup or 170g/6oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 450g/16oz (2 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 scant tsp red gel food coloring (or 6 T liquid red food coloring)
  • 3 T (22.5g/0.75oz) unsweetened dark cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (240g/8.5oz) buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

For the Pudding & Assembly:

  • 1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups (360g/12.7oz) ice-cold water
  • 1 (3.4oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferably Jell-O brand)
  • 1 (8oz) package full-fat cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature
  • 3 cups (720g/25.5oz) heavy cream
  • 4 to 5 ripe, firm bananas, sliced
  • 160g (1 cup plus 1 T or 5.6oz) mini chocolate chips or chocolate shavings

To Make the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, preferably on convection. Butter a 9×13-inch metal baking pan; line with parchment paper and butter and flour the parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth.
  4. Gradually add the sugar and beat until very light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl and the paddle.
  6. Add the red food coloring and sifted cocoa powder to the mixer bowl.
  7. With the mixer on low speed, carefully mix until combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  8. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the vanilla and buttermilk.
  9. Beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. After each addition, be careful to mix just until the ingredients are incorporated. Do not ovemix. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  10. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda.
  11. With the mixer on low speed, carefully add the cider vinegar and baking soda mixture to the batter and combine well. Scrape down the bowl.
  12. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  13. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (I baked mine for 47 minutes.)
  14. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes, then transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely. (The cake can be made ahead and wrapped in plastic for up to 3 days.)

To Make the Pudding:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the condensed milk and water on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the pudding mix and beat until no lumps remain and the mixture is smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Put the room temperature cream cheese pieces in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Beat until smooth.
  5. Add the chilled pudding to the to the cream cheese and mix until thoroughly combined and smooth, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate while you prepare the whipped cream. Clean the stand mixer bowl and whisk.
  6. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the heavy cream on medium speed for about 1 minute; until cream starts to thicken, then increase the speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form. (be careful not to over whip)
  7. With the mixer running on low speed, add the chilled pudding mixture a spoonful at a a time. Mix until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain.

To Assemble:

  1. Cut the cake into a 4×2-inch grid. (8 rectangular pieces) If preparing the dessert in individual servings, divide the cake into 16 pieces. Set aside.
  2. Select 16 individual serving bowls (or a trifle bowl or wide glass bowl with 4-5 quart capacity). (I used a variety of glasses and glass dessert dishes.)
  3. Spread 1/3 of the pudding on the bottom and layer with enough slices of the red velvet cake to cover the layer. (I used about 1/2 (slightly less) of each rationed slice of the cake, reserving crumbs for the top.)
  4. Add 1/2 of the sliced bananas (enough to cover the cake pieces) and 1/3 cup of the chocolate chips. (I used 1 tsp of chocolate chips per layer in each serving.)
  5. Repeat twice more. The second layer will be identical; the final layer will be pudding topped with a cake crumbs instead of pieces, and chocolate chips without (or with, if desired) banana slices.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Magnolia Bakery’s Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes

My daughter and I made these cheerful cupcakes together. She is obsessed with sprinkles! 🙂 She wanted to give them to her friends as a little surprise. We put one in each of their mailboxes with a note. ❤

The cupcake recipe is from The Magnolia Bakery Handbook- A Complete Guide for the Home Baker: Baking Made Easy with 150 Foolproof Recipes & Techniques by Bobbie Lloyd. The recipe is adapted from their recipe for “Everyone’s Favorite Vanilla Cake.”

The vanilla frosting recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, via Martha Stewart.com. We used fine sea salt and weighed the ingredients when possible for both the cake and frosting. They were moist and tasty- Fun too!

For the Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes:

Yield: 24 cupcakes

  • 3 cups (345g/12.2oz) cake flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (240g/8.5oz) whole milk (I used 1%)
  • 1/2 cup (115g/4oz) sour cream
  • 1 cup (2 sticks/226g/8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup (300g/10.6oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (130g/4.6oz) confetti sprinkles, plus more for decoration, if desired (We used rainbow sprinkles)

For the Fluffy Vanilla Frosting:

Yield: frosting for 24 cupcakes (about 4 cups)

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature  
  • 1 pound (16oz/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • gel food coloring, for tinting, optional
  • confetti or rainbow sprinkles, for decoration, optional

To Make the Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. (I set my oven to convection.) Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk and sour cream until no lumps remain. Set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the paddle and the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the egg whites, a little at a time, beating until incorporated before adding more. Once the egg whites have been incorporated, stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix for about 15 seconds, just until incorporated.
  7. Scrape down the paddle and the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the sprinkles and mix for 20 to 30 seconds, until smooth and combined.
  8. Using a scoop or a 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, evenly ration the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  9. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched and a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean.
  10. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool completely on a wire rack.

To Make the Fluffy Vanilla Frosting & To Decorate the Cupcakes:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.
  3. Add salt and vanilla; beat until frosting is smooth. The frosting can be tinted with food coloring, if desired.
  4. To decorate, fill a piping bag with desired tip and pipe onto cupcakes. Top with additional sprinkles, if desired.

Note: If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

The other day, my husband suggested making cupcakes topped with cookies in some way. I found this recipe the next day! I love the idea and now hope to try other variations.

My daughter and her sidekick (bestie) were baking together over the summer and spent an afternoon on this deliciousness. Everyone was quite pleased with the results. The cupcakes were very moist and tender and the cookies on top were crispy and delicate. Perfect.

The recipe is from Martha Stewart Living; we modified the proportions and method. Next time, I may reduce the size of the cookie on top and chill the cookie dough prior to baking.

Yield: 18 cupcakes

For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Base & Cookie Topping:

  • 1 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light-brown sugar, packed
  • 6 T granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (6 oz) semisweet chocolate chips

To Make the Chocolate Chip Cookie Base:

  1. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
  2. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. On low-speed, beat in the egg.
  4. Add flour mixture in 3 additions.
  5. Beat in vanilla.
  6. Mix in chocolate chips.
  7. Chill dough while preparing the cupcake batter.

For the Cupcakes:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 T baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 T granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T whole milk
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Base (see above), including 18 (1.5-inch) cookies
  • Simple Vanilla Frosting (see below)

To Make the Cupcake Batter:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 18 muffin tin wells with baking cups.
  2. Whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low.
  4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla.
  5. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour.

To Layer & Bake the Cupcakes:

  1. Press 1 tablespoon cookie dough into bottom of each baking cup. (At this point, I used a small cookie scoop (1/2 T) to ration the remaining cookie dough and put it back in the refrigerator.)
  2. Top each with 1.5 to 2 tablespoons batter. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. (Keep oven on to bake the cookies for the topping.)
  4. Transfer tins to wire racks; let stand for 5 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to racks. Let cool completely.
  5. While the cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting and bake the cookies for the topping.

For the Simple Vanilla Frosting:

  • 2 sticks plus 2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups plus 6 T confectioners’ sugar, divided
  • pinch coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 T whole milk

To Make The Frosting:

  1. Beat butter and 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Reduce speed to medium-low; gradually add the additional 2 1/2 cups plus 2 T confectioners’ sugar.
  3. Add milk and vanilla; mix to incorporate.
  4. Raise speed to medium-high and continue to beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

To Finish & Decorate:

  1. Place the chilled scoops of cookie dough on 2 parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheets.
  2. Bake in the pre-heated oven until edges are dark gold but centers are pale gold and look a bit underdone (for chewy) or until centers are set (for crisp). (We baked ours for about 7 minutes.)
  3. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks to cool for 5 minutes; then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, or as desired.
  5. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes, and top each with a cookie.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Admittedly, I love all types of chocolate chip cookies. 😉 That being said, these might be my ultimate favorite chocolate chip cookies. They are thick, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, and are loaded with both semi-sweet and dark chocolate. SO good.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Leite. I weighed all of the dry ingredients, modified the cookie size and baking time, and used a mixture of chopped bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate as well as semi-sweet chocolate chips. The original recipe uses disks of chocolate because they melt differently than chocolate chips; the chopped chocolate had the same effect.

Prior to baking, the dough is refrigerated for 24 to 36 hours. This results in a firmer dough because the dry ingredients absorb the wet ingredients. I also froze scoops of this cookie dough with great success.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 ⅔ cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 ½ sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves (at least 60 % cacao)(I used a combination of semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate)(see note below)
  • flaky sea salt
  1. Sift or whisk flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Stir in the vanilla.
  5. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds.
  6. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them.
  7. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
  8. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  9. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop mounds of dough (about 2 tablespoons each) onto the prepared baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. (I placed 8 cookies per sheet.)
  10. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 14 to 16 minutes.
  11. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more.
  12. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Serve warm.

Chocolate: Bittersweet chocolate disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are sold at Whole Foods.
Note: The dough can be scooped into portions and frozen. Bake directly from the freezer adding 2 minutes onto the baking time.

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