Coffee Blondies

When an amazing baker like Sarah Kieffer says that she’s been making these blondies for almost two decades, I had to try them. Right? They did not disappoint.

The recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean Blog. I used espresso, fine sea salt, and dark chocolate chips. We ate them with and without (caramel) ice cream. 🙂

Yield: one 9×13-inch pan of blondies (about 12 large or 24 small)

  • 213 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks; 170 g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 297 g (1 1/2 cups) light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 T strong coffee, room temperature (I used espresso)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 86 g (3/4 cup) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
  • 128 g (3/4 cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (I used 72% dark chocolate chips)
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch metal baking pan with cooking oil spray. Line the pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on 2 sides. (I clip the overhang with binder clips to keep it in place.)
  3. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool and then chop; set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder.
  5. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and salt.
  6. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the coffee until well combined. Let the mixture come to room temperature. (I transferred it to a large bowl to expedite the process at this point.)
  7. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk to combine. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl (if you haven’t already).
  8. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  9. Add the pecans and chocolate chips and stir gently until incorporated.
  10. Using an offset spatula, spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  11. Bake 18 to 24 minutes, until the blondies are set on the edges and the top is golden brown and just beginning to form cracks. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out with just a couple of crumbs.
  12. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut into squares.

Italian Butter (Spritz) Cookies

I do admire people who post Christmas cookie recipes prior to Christmas! 😉

This recipe was adapted from one of my absolute favorite books, Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever. I used almond extract, Irish butter, a cookie press, and baked the cookies on convection. Simple and classic.

They can be made in any shape to suit the season. The original recipe also suggests topping the cookies with sprinkles, sparkling colored sugars, or drizzling or sandwiching them with chocolate.

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

  • 8 oz (225 g) unsalted European-style butter, at room temperature (I used Kerrygold)
  • 120 g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond, lemon, or anise extract
  • 256 g (2 cups, spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • sprinkles or sparkling colored sugars, optional
  • melted dark or white chocolate for drizzling, optional
  1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F (180 C), preferably on convection.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. (Silicone liners make piping a little bit easier because the they don’t lift up as the cookie press or piping tip pulls away.)(I used both!)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy.
  4. Add the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and the additional extract of your choice. Blend for 1 minute more.
  6. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the flour, salt, and baking powder. Scrape down the bowl well and make sure the dough is well mixed.
  7. Immediately transfer the dough to a cookie press or a heavy-duty piping bag fitted with a large open star tip, such as Ateco #826.
  8. Spritz the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets. If using a pastry bag, pipe the cookies into desired shapes- aim for cookies about 2 inches (5 cm) wide, spaced about 2 inches apart.
  9. Decorate with sprinkles or sparkling sugars, if desired.
  10. Refrigerate on the sheets for about 15 minutes, or freeze for 5 minutes. (I placed the parchment on a plastic cutting board in the freezer.)
  11. Bake until lightly golden at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies on parchment will brown faster; those on silicone mats will need a little more time to color.
  12. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for 2 or 3 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely. To finish non-sprinkled cookies, drizzle or sandwich with melted dark or white chocolate, if desired.

Ravneet Gill’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have one more sweet treat to share. I could not resist a new chocolate chip cookie recipe claiming to be perfect and the best. When split in half, these cookies were described as having a “wet-sand crumb surrounding a glossy pull of viscous molten chocolate.” Wow.

It is very rare that I follow a recipe to a “t,” but I did exactly that in this case. The NYT article explains that the reason these cookies are exceptional is the meticulous attention to detail in the recipe. I did use granulated sugar instead of superfine. 😉 The original recipe controversially omits vanilla extract. We didn’t notice! They were absolutely FABULOUS.

The recipe was adapted from The Pastry Chef’s Guide by British pastry chef Ravneet Gill, via the New York Times, contributed by Charlotte Druckman. I used chopped 71% cacao Valrhona chocolate.

Yield: 14 to 15 cookies

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/140 grams unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), softened
  • Scant 3/4 cup/140 grams dark brown sugar
  • cup/110 grams superfine sugar (I used granulated sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons/250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon Maldon sea salt (or kosher salt)
  • 6 ounces/170 grams dark (bittersweet) chocolate, chopped into large chunks (I used 71% cacao Valrhona)
  1. Put the butter and both sugars in a stand mixer or mixing bowl. Cream together using a paddle attachment on medium speed, a handheld electric whisk or a wooden spoon for 1 to 2 minutes until paler but not fluffy. (Do not mix for too long; if you beat the mixture until super light and fluffy, that will cause the cookie to deflate later when cooking.)
  2. Add the egg and beat over medium speed until evenly combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (all the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt), then fold into the butter mixture using a rubber spatula until combined.
  4. Add the chopped chocolate and fold into the dough until evenly distributed.
  5. Immediately scoop out heaping 1/4-cup portions (about 60 grams), roll into balls and place on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 12 hours. (If space is tight, you can condense them on one sheet before refrigerating then redistribute among two sheets before baking.)(I used one sheet.)
  6. The next day, heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  7. Make sure the dough balls are evenly spaced out among 2 baking sheets, as they will spread. ( I placed 5 cookies per sheet on 3 baking sheets.)
  8. Bake the cookies for 13 minutes (or 15 minutes if baking from frozen), until the cookies are puffed and golden at the edges. You want the middle to be ever so slightly not-quite set.
  9. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet; they will continue firming up as they cool. Once cooled, eat!

Note: These cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The balls of dough will keep for up to 2 days in the fridge or 2 weeks in the freezer.

Rich Turkey Chili with Bacon, Dark Beer & Chocolate

My daughter and I really enjoy watching Queer Eye on Netflix together. It is so positive and full of love. She is particularly a fan of Antoni, the chef. We were excited to check out his cookbook! 🙂

This fabulous chili recipe was adapted from Antoni in the Kitchen by Antoni Porowski. I modified the proportions. It was rich, full-flavored, and hearty. We ate it with lots of toppings, cornbread muffins and green salad. I’m planning to make it again to serve on a really chilly evening. Everyone loved it.

Super Bowl 2021 Update: This chili was absolutely delicious served with beer bread.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Chili:

  • 1/3 to 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips (4-5 slices)
  • 1 3/4 to 2 pounds ground turkey, preferably dark meat
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 medium or 1 1/2 large onions, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into small cubes
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 5 to 8 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 canned chipotle chile in adobo, seeded (if desired), finely chopped, plus 1 to 2 T adobo sauce (I didn’t seed the chile)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 (15-oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14-oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (12-oz) bottle dark beer (such as Guiness or Negra Modelo)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (scant 1/2 cup) (I used 72% cacao)
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp molasses or dark brown sugar

For the Toppings:

  • sliced avocado
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • grated cheddar
  • diced red or white onion
  • pickled jalapeños
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • lime wedges
  1. In a large Dutch oven or other wide heavy pot with a lid, cook the bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden, 5 to 7 minutes. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a large bowl.
  2. Cook the turkey in the remaining bacon fat over high heat, stirring frequently and breaking up the meat into small bits with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Season turkey with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, then transfer and any juices to the bowl with the bacon.
  4. Heat the oil in the same pot over medium to medium-high heat.
  5. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and the onions are golden, about 8 minutes.
  6. Stir in the tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring, then stir in the chipotle and adobo sauce, oregano, cumin, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add the beans, crushed tomatoes, beer, stock, chocolate, and turkey-bacon mixture. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chili is deeply flavorful, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the vinegar and molasses or brown sugar.
  9. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. Serve hot with toppings, as desired.

After-School Specials

After making the amazing Donut Loaf from this special book, I had to try a cookie. My husband picked this cookie which is a chocolate chip, oatmeal, and snickerdoodle cookie “rolled into one recipe.” Each flavor was distinct! They were definitely a crowd-pleaser.

This recipe was adapted from Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever. I weighed the dry ingredients, used semi-sweet chocolate chips, scooped the cookie dough prior to refrigerating, and modified the baking time.

By keeping the cold (pre-scooped) dough tightly wrapped in the refrigerator and baking the cookies in small batches just prior to serving, we ate them warm from the oven every time. Despite the title, I served them after-dinner instead of after-school. 😉 Great!

Yield: about 40 cookies

For the Dough:

  • 225g (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 57g (1/4 cup) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 250g (2 1/2 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 256g (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour, weighed or spooned and leveled
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda, sifted
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt such as Fleur de Sel or Maldon
  • 256g (1 1/2 cups) semi-sweet or bittersweet (60% cacao) chocolate chips

For the Coating:

  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the granulated and brown sugar and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until aerated and noticeably fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, giving each about 30 seconds of beating time to incorporate fully.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and fine and flaky salt.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly stir in the dry ingredients.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Using a large cookie scoop, form the dough into 2-tablespoon balls and place on the prepared cookie sheet.
  8. Cover the cookie sheet tightly with plastic wrap; place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 2 days.
  9. Position 2 oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  10. In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt to make the coating.
  11. One at a time, form the refrigerated scoops of dough into balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar coating.
  12. Evenly space the dough balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. (I placed 8 cookies per sheet.)
  13. Bake until golden and puffed, about 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time.
  14. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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.

Flourless Cocoa Cookies

Yes! More cookies and ice cream. In fact, I have several cookie drafts waiting to be shared. All of a sudden, it just feels like it’s finally time. 🙂

These cookies are a fabulous hybrid of a fudgy brownie and a cookie. This recipe was adapted from The Fearless Baker by Erin Jeanne McDowell via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I weighed the dry ingredients, included the cinnamon, and used 70% cacao dark chocolate chopped into chunks. Great.

Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups/340 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 ½ cup/106 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup/140 grams bittersweet chocolate chunks (I used 70% cacao dark chocolate)
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (I used Fleur de Sel)
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended.
  3. In another large bowl, sift together confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Whisk into eggs, changing to a spatula when the batter becomes too thick to whisk.
  5. Stir in vanilla and chocolate chunks.
  6. Use a large 2-tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop cookies onto prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2 inches between them. (I baked 9 on each baking sheet.) Sprinkle with flaky salt.
  7. Bake, rotating front to back, and top to bottom, halfway through, until set around the edges, cracked on top and slightly underbaked in the middle, 10 to 13 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely on the baking sheets. Store carefully in an airtight container.

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