There are a couple of types of macaroons out there which can make for occasional pastry confusion. French macarons are all the rage right now and they are delightfully delicious to boot but Coconut Macaroons (note the second “o”) are old school but equally delicious. Both treats are gluten free and use egg white to bind the “doughs” together but what makes the two macaroons different, really is that the French version uses ground almonds as the base of the dough and the coconut version uses, well, coconut. Now these coconut macaroons were a bit of a pickle for me. The recipe variation here is the third one that I tested, having had fairly epic fails with the first two vintage recipes I tested. I didn’t previously eat coconut macaroons all that often but after making this recipe, I’m really not sure why. Sweet, chewy, full of coconut-ty goodness, these macaroons are a winner.

Coconut Macaroons (adapted from marthastewart.com)

Makes about 10-¼ cup sized macaroons

2 ½ cups sweetened medium flake coconut

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 egg whites

½ teaspoon vanilla paste

Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients. Using your hands (a spatula doesn’t do the job quite right), combine all the ingredients until the coconut is thoroughly moistened. Using a large cookie scoop, portion the macaroon batter onto the parchment sheets about 1-2 inches apart. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the macaroons are slightly toasted on top. Allow to cool completely, about 1 hour. Store in a covered container. Enjoy.

Any foodie with an internet connection has a collection of food blogs that they regularly check. Personally, I just love seeing what these people come up with, how they style things — it’s a little like daily inspiration for me. One of my favorite blogs is Joy the Baker. Her blog is fresh, funny, sweet and frequently features pictures of her handsome orange cat. How can you go wrong, really?

I found this recipe on Joy’s site and immediately decided to try it out because I was truly curious to see what using all brown sugar would taste like in a cookie. I also decided to take Joy’s advice and added butterscotch chips and chopped pecans to the batter, just for a little texture and extra sweetness.

I must  say that I was thrilled with these cookies. Using all brown sugar made for a cookie with a lovely caramel flavor and the addition of the butterscotch chips and pecans made the cookies pretty addictive. Just ask Collin Murray, they didn’t last long…

Butterscotch Brown Sugar Cookies (adapted from Joy the Baker)

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¾ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ¼ cups brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste

½ cup butterscotch chips

½ cup pecans, rough chopped

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about three minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating about 1 minute.

With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until the batter comes together and the flour has disappeared. Add the pecans and butterscotch chips and mix until just combined. Using a medium-sized cookie scoop, portion the batter onto baking sheets.

Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned just on the edges. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy.

 

I know I’ve been a little obsessed with citrus lately but in my defence, it’s that time of year when the only produce that’s any good is citrus. Plus, it’s just so dang refreshing and I’ve been wanting to make these key lime bars for a long while. I just think key limes are so cute and I’m a sucker for cute things.

The only thing that makes these bars a bit of a pain is juicing all these key limes. Since they are little you about get about a tablespoon of juice per lime. Settle in for the long juicing haul or get a citrus juicer — you will thank me, I promise.

These bars are light and fluffy and have a fantastically crunchy crust. They are quite tart from all the key lime juice but they would be the perfect end to a meal of rich comfort food.

Key Lime Bars (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies)

Makes one 8-inch square pan

1 cup crushed graham crackers

⅓ cup granulated sugar

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3 large egg yolks

⅔ cup freshly squeezed key lime juice (between 15-25 key limes)

1 can sweetened condensed milk (300mL or 14 ounces)

Whipped Cream, to serve, optional

Sliced key limes, to serve, optional

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Stir till well combined and press into an 8 by 8 inch square pan. Bake for 10 minutes, allow to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg yolks on high until very thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Turn the mixer speed down and slowly add the sweetened condensed milk in a steady stream. Speed the mixer up and beat mixture thoroughly for an additional 1-2 minutes. Lower the speed, add the lime juice and mix until just combined. Pour the filling over the crust. Use an off-set spatula to ensure that the filling reaches into all the corners of the pan.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the filling is just set. Allow to cool at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, then refrigerate for at least four hours before serving. Top with whipped cream and sliced key limes if desired. Enjoy.

Collin Murray loves his granola and I’m often looking for different ways to incorporate it into muffins and cookies. These little cookies, energy bites, whatever you want to call them, are the perfect healthy snack. By combining granola with peanut butter, maple syrup and egg whites, these bites lack a lot of the high fat and processed sugars that your garden variety granola bars contain. Though you can you use any kind of purchased granola to make these bites, I used my Maple Almond Granola and was quite satisfied with the results.

Chewy Granola Bites (adapted from The Lonneyspoons Collection)

Makes about 20 mini-muffin-sized bites

⅓ peanut butter

⅓ maple syrup

2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

2½ cups granola

¾ cup dried fruit (your choice of dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries or apricots)

Preheat an oven to 250˚. Spray a mini-muffin tin with non-stick spray and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine peanut butter and maple syrup, mix until combined. Add the egg whites, vanilla and spice and continue mixing until combined, about 1 minute. Stir in the granola and dried fruit with a spatula and portion into the muffin tin. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Allow to cool in the pan before eating. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Enjoy.

How did it happen that Christmas is this Sunday? Where did December go? In fact, where did the whole year go? Needless to say, Christmas has snuck up on me this year. I’ve had visions of baking dozens of cookies, making truffles, Real eggnog…it hasn’t happened…and let’s just be honest, it’s probably not going to — sometimes busy girls make Christmas baking sacrifices. Like these cookies which have six ingredients and can be made in 10 minutes.

I say sacrifice but in actual fact, these cookies are no sacrifice at all. They are totally delightful, gluten-free and use items that you likely have in your pantry right now. Initially I started making these cookies for my dear dad who is gluten-intolerant but I’ve found that Collin Murray loves them so much that they have become a staple in our house.

The original recipe for these cookies called for chunky peanut butter and though I don’t use it here, you certainly could, it adds a lovely crunch to the cookie. Similarly, I use milk chocolate chips because Collin Murray has an aversion to any chocolate but milk (it’s his fatal flaw) but you could use any type of chocolate you like — personally, I think dark would be delightful.

Make them for your celiac friend, the neighbour who shovels your walk or for Santa…

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from epicurious.com)

Makes about 30 cookies

1 cup peanut butter (chunky or regular)

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix until combined. Scoop the cookie dough using a small ice cream scoop. Place dough balls onto the parchment-lined trays about two-inches apart from one another. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then cool thoroughly on cooling racks. Store covered. Enjoy.

A little while ago I gave you a peek at some of the beautiful images from the Black and Blush photoshoot I was apart of with super stylist AJ of Alexandra’s Joys and Pink and Honey Event Styling and photographer extraordinaire Genevieve Renee. Today friends, may I present for your viewing and baking pleasure, a delightfully simple recipe for Glittering  Sandwich Cookies.

These cookies, which I’ve been making for ages, I originally found on epicurious.com while preparing for a catering event. The beauty of these cookies is that they are so versatile: by changing the shimmering sugar used to coat the outsides of the cookies, you can change the festiveness of the cookies. I’ve made red cookies for Christmas, pink for Valentines, White for several occasions, including the Black and Blush shoot — friends, the possibilities are endless!

Glittering Sandwich Cookies (adapted from epicurious.com)

Makes 2-4 dozen cookies depending on size

For the Cookies:

1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour

⅔ cup cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

½ cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sanding sugar, your choice on color

 

For the Filling:

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 ½  teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

2-3 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

Food coloring, if desired

 

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch and salt and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and confectioner’s sugar and beat for about two minutes or until fluffy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and stir to combine. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the flour mixture and continue mixing until you a soft dough forms.

Cover the mixer bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about 15 minutes, or just until it firms up a little to help make the dough easier to shape. Place the sanding sugars in small bowls and have a small dish of water nearby to dampen your hands when rolling the dough in the sugar. Using a teaspoon (for tiny sandwiches), or small cookie scoop (for larger sandwiches – you can also divide the cookie dough in half after you’ve scooped and produced mini cookies too), scoop a little bit of dough into your hands, roll into a ball and then roll into the sugar. If the sugar doesn’t stick well, slightly dampen your hands and roll again and then roll in the sugars again. Place on the baking sheet with about an inch of room in-between each cookie. Repeat the process until all the dough has been sugared.

Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes or until slightly golden on the bottom and firm to the touch. Allow the cookies to cool completely before sandwiching them with the filling.

For the filling, in a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and gently work together into a paste-like consistency. Using a spoon or palate knife, spread a small amount of frosting onto the back or flat side of a cookie, top with another cookie, press the little sandwich together and continue sandwiching until you run out of cookies. You will likely have more frosting then needed but I like for there to be lots of frosting for quality control AKA me eating it, and just in case you want to use lots in the cookies.

Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Genevieve Renee Photography. Styling courtesy of Alexandra Joy Wig.

Why are these cookies called Cowboy Cookies? I don’t know. It’s a great question. Can they be made on a camp-fire? No. Are they full of cowpokey ingredients? Not really. Their name is kind of a mystery but what’s not a mystery is how delicious they are.

If you’re familiar with Calgary, Alberta — the place Collin Murray and I hang our hats, you will know that this week is the Calgary Stampede. Sigh: I’m not a fan. The Stampede is all about rodeo, beer, mini doughnuts, over-priced rides, and hideous cowboy/girl fashions. I’m not bitter, I’m just not into Stampeding. That being said, I never turn away from the opportunity to make a festive dessert and this week, you couldn’t get more festive in my hometown then by making a Cowboy Cookie.

This recipe really isn’t too different from most recipes out there for chocolate chip cookies but with the addition of oats and pecans, these cookies really shine. They are dense and full of flavor but with the baking time that I’ve suggested, they are also soft and chewy. The perfect cookie if I do say so myself.

Cowboy Cookies (adapted from La Pinata – Junior Service League of McAllen, Texas)

Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 cups oats, not quick cooking

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugars and softened butter and cream together, about 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; add vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture. Turn up the speed to medium and beat the batter until well combined. Add the oats, chocolate chips and pecans, beating for 30 seconds or until thoroughly incorporated.

Using a medium cookie scoop, portion out the dough onto to the prepared pans, pressing down each ball till about 1-inch thickness. Bake for about 15 minutes, cooling on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Y’all remember my favorite cookies, right? Remember, the ones that use cake mix and are so so delightfully tender and easy…well here they are again.

This time I used chocolate cake mix, walnuts, milk chocolate chips and toffee chips. My land are they ever yum, yum, yummy!

Toffee Chocolate Cake Cookies (inspired by the 1954 Purity Flour Mills cookbook)

Makes 2 dozen cookies

1 box chocolate cake mix

2 eggs

⅓ cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ cup toffee chips

½ cup milk chocolate chips

¼ cup walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 375˚F.

In the bowl of an electric mix fitted with a paddle attachment, combine cake mix and eggs. Beat about one minute to combine. Add water and vanilla and continue beating till smooth, one to two minutes.

Add chocolate chips, walnut pieces, and toffee chips and then beat on low until mixture is thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.

Using a medium-sized cookie scoop or a tablespoon measure, scoop the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets about two inches apart. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the cookies are just slightly cracked.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

An excess of eggs in my fridge and a desire to make a vaguely festive sweet treat led me to making meringues. Flourless and perfect for Passover or Easter, these little cookies are very easy to make.

Since I had so (so) many eggs, I decided to make two batches of meringues: vanilla and rose water. I happen to really enjoy rose water but if you aren’t a fan, you could easily substitute orange blossom water or a small amount of really any extract that tickles your fancy.

It is essential when making meringues to include a little bit of cream of tartar. Cream of tartar, in case you’re interested, helps not only to stabilize beaten egg whites but also to increase their volume — you could see how that might be helpful with meringues, no?

When making meringues, it is rather important to beat your egg whites till they are very stiff and glossy. If you are using a stand mixer, this should take less than five minutes; if using a hand mixer, it might take a wee bit longer; and if beating the meringue by hand, settle in for the long haul and try to save up for a stand mixer because you are going to be mighty, mighty tired, mighty, mighty quick.

Here’s a hot tip! Before you pipe your meringues onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, I’ve found that it’s quite helpful to put a dab of meringue on the corners of parchment paper so that the paper sticks to the sheet and doesn’t move around as you pipe.

And speaking of piping, feel free to pipe your meringues in whatever manner makes you happy. I like the star shape but that’s just me.

Anyway you slice it, meringues are pretty delicious, fat-free, and fabulously festive.

Meringue Cookies (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)

Makes dozens of meringues, depending on the size

3 egg whites

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ to 1 teaspoon flavouring (vanilla, rose water, orange blossom water)

1 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 275˚F.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine egg whites, cream of tartar and flavouring. Beat till the whites are extremely frothy and then, with the mixer still running, gradually add the granulated sugar. Continue beating till the egg whites are very stiff and glossy.

Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice and pipe your meringue shapes onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Depending on the size, bake for at least ½ hour. Once the cookies are crisp and are not longer moist inside, turn off the oven and allow the cookies to dry out for an additional hour.

Eat alone or sandwich the cookies together with a ganache frosting, buttercream or lemon curd and enjoy!

I know few people who don’t like the classic combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

Perhaps this is no surprise: peanut butter and chocolate are one of the most well known (and well loved) combinations in the baking world because they are just the perfect compliments to one another. So when I saw this easy recipe for peanut butter chocolate cereal squares from America’s Favorite Recipes from Better Homes and Gardens, I knew I needed to make it immediately.

As it turns out, this recipe is super fast and super easy. It literally takes 10 minutes from start to finish and uses items that are fairly common to the pantry of most home bakers — peanut butter, corn syrup, sugar, chocolate, rice crispies and cornflakes.

Like the Tutti Frutti Butterscotch Squares, this recipe does require you to work quickly which is why I would suggest having all your ingredients measured out before you start — it helps to be prepared. However, if you find that your mixture has cooled too quickly and has become a little unruly to press evenly into your baking pan, simply melt one cup of chocolate chips over a double boiler and spread the chocolate on top of the squares. I promise no one will ever notice any uneven lumps or bumps that way — too bad the same technique won’t work on my cellulite.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cereal Squares (adapted from America’s Favorites Recipes from Better Homes and Gardens)

Makes one 9-inch square pan

2 cups Rice Crispy cereal

1 cup Corn Flakes cereal, crushed slightly

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup dark corn syrup

¼ cup granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cup chunky peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine cereals and chocolate chips, set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine corn syrup, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Immediately remove from heat. Pour peanut butter mixture over cereals and stir with a spatula to combine. Press into a 9-inch pan and allow to cool before cutting. Enjoy.