Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies

I’m not saying emotional eating is a good thing, but sometimes you just want need a cookie. It makes you feel better and it helps you realize you can face whatever issue you are working through…so maybe it is kind of a good thing (as long as you don’t eat your way into tomorrow).

I found a recipe for chocolate cherry cookies, and decided to add sliced almonds and some more almond flavor – a great addition when there are cherries involved. And what I really love about this recipe? It doesn’t involve a ton of butter. You can have a few cookies and not feel as though your emotional eating has left you with 5 pounds of regret.

Chocolate Cherry Almond Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup dried tart or sour cherries (if they are large, give them a rough chop)
  • 4 tablespoons semisweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • fleur de sel, if desired

How To:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and almond extract. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Fold in cherries, chocolate chips and sliced almonds. The almonds will break up.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on to baking sheets coated with cooking spray or lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes or until set. Remove from oven; cool on pans 5 minutes. Sprinkle with fleur de sel if desired. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

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Breakfast Cookies

You can have cookies for breakfast. They can be something you look forward to when you go to bed at night and still be nutritious.

They aren’t a guilty pleasure even though they kind of feel like it. With coconut, almonds, dried cherries and dried dates, these cookies are full of good stuff.

I love that they are chewy, crunchy, oat-y and yummy. You can grab one and be on your way. So I am telling you they are not only tasty and fairly healthy, but easy as well. Are you still thinking? You should just be baking.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups regular oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries

How To:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Melt the butter in the microwave, about 1 minute. Remove and add the brown sugar, stirring until smooth. Combine the flours, baking soda, oats and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter sugar mixture to the dry ingredients. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and add to the mixture. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Add the dates, almonds, coconut and cherries. Mix well. Place onto baking sheets, about a tablespoon per cookie. Bake for 12 minutes or until tops are lightly golden and dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

I’ve always loved oreos and the base recipe for these cookies is a homemade oreo. I love peanut butter though, and thought it should be included in this party. That’s right, this is a party in a cookie. Lucky for you, you are invited.

Something I wished in an oreo but was always missing was a soft wafer. I’ve never liked a crunchy cookie. I like to think my cookies have perpetually just been baked, and still soft from the oven. Crunchy cookies somehow translate to stale in my mind (but certain cookies should be crunchy, like gingersnaps and nila wafers…I digress).

The mix of a soft chocolate cookie and a smear of peanut butter love makes these cookies pretty much irresistible in my book. Join the cookie party by baking up a batch.

Ingredients:

for the cookies:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room-temperature
  • 1 egg

for the filling:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

How To:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. While on low speed (or pulsing) add the butter, then the egg. Continue to process until the dough comes together.

Using a cookie scoop (this REALLY helps create cookies that are the same size) or a teaspoon, drop rounded balls of dough on a lined baking sheet (use a silpat or parchment paper) about 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, flatten each ball. Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating once to allow for even baking. Let the cookies cool on baking sheets for several minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack.

For the cream filling: with an electric mixer, combine shortening and peanut butter in a medium bowl on low speed. Gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high speed and beat a few more minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

To create the sandwich cookies, use a butter knife to spread 1-2 teaspoons on one half of the cookies, flat side up. Place another cookie (of similar size) on top and smoosh lightly down to spread the filling. Continue until all the cookies have been made into delicious sandwiches. Makes 25-30 sandwich cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have one minor change for the song “My Favorite Things” – chocolate chip cookies would be in there, not crisp apple strudel. Although, I do love a good apple strudel, I usually only care for it in the fall. Chocolate chip cookies is even the same amount of syllables. It just works.

What sets these chocolate chip numbers apart is the sprinkling of fleur de sel. A little salt with my chocolate? Why yes please, and I am pretty sure you will agree. It adds that something you didn’t even know you were missing in your chocolate chip cookies. Note before you start to make these- the dough needs to refrigerate for 24 hours! I hate when recipes give an extended time frame late in the instructions, so I am telling you up front. You know what to expect, and they are worth the wait.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 sticks and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons good vanilla extract
  • 11 ounces chocolate chips – can use milk chocolate or semi-sweet
  • Fleur de Sel

How To:

In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in the vanilla. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients but do not over mix. Add chocolate chips and mix lightly until they are well combined, again taking care to not over mix. When ingredients are incorporated, place a piece of cling on top of the bowl and flip over onto the counter. Huddle up the dough and cover tightly in the cling. Refrigerate for 24 hours – this creates fluffier cookies with better flavor, a super dreamy texture, and a richer taste.

Once you have your dough ready for baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper. Form dough into roughly 2 tablespoon size balls (size of a ping pong ball), and place on baking sheet. Flatten slightly and sprinkle with Fleur de Sel. Bake for about 18 minutes, or until cookies are lightly golden.  Let sit for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack for 10 minutes. Best enjoyed warm!

Homemade Samoa Cookies

I listened to a little Joy Division and made Samoa cookies last night, a la Girl Scouts. It allowed me to reminisce of the days when I was just a girl trying to sell as many boxes of cookies as I could. It also reminded me of the movie Troop Beverly Hills, and what a classic that is. I know my friends Brooke and Lindsay will agree.

Samoa cookies are by far my favorite, but that isn’t to say I would shun a good Thin Mint or Tagalong. I was saddened when I was about to buy some ice cream (low-fat!) with Samoas mixed in, and saw partially hydrogenated fat on the ingredients list. I know food can be made without it, which led me to wonder why couldn’t I make Samoas myself? Which has brought us to this; a fabulous homemade Samoa cookie with all-natural ingredients.

This seriously should have earned an awesome Girl Scout patch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk

for the topping

  • 2 cups shredded coconut (I used unsweetened but sweetened will also work)
  • 12 ounces chewy caramels (you can also make your own caramel, which I’ve detailed below)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 8 to 12 ounces chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)

How To:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add to butter and sugar mixture at a low speed. Add vanilla and gradually incorporate milk, adding only as much as needed to make the dough come together. If it looks grainy, just use your hands to pull it together. If it still won’t come together, add a tablespoon of milk at a time. The dough should not be extremely sticky. Once your dough has formed a ball, its ready to roll out.

On a floured surface (and with a floured rolling pin), roll out dough in batches to 1/4 inch.  Use a round (suggested – 1 1/2-inch) cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Place rounds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. I used a toothpick to hand draw inner circles, but you could use a smaller cookie cutter if you have one, or a wide straw. The cookies don’t expand so don’t worry that the hole is going to disappear.

Bake cookies for about 12 minutes; the bottoms will be lightly browned and the tops still pale, but set. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely.

For the topping, preheat oven to 300. Spread the shredded coconut evenly on a baking sheet with sides. Toast for 20 minutes in the oven, stirring every 5 minutes until coconut is golden. Cool on the baking sheet.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a medium saucepan with milk and salt (or follow how-to-make caramel instructions below). Heat over medium-low until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in coconut. Using a dinner knife or a small offset spatula, spread coconut topping on cooled cookies, using about 2 teaspoons per cookie. You can reheat the caramel if it becomes difficult to work with by microwaving it for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

The topping will set quickly so you can get to work on the chocolate right away. Place chocolate in a small bowl and heat in the microwave for 1 minute. Take out and stir. Heat again for 30 second intervals until chocolate is completely melted. Most bits will melt just by mixing.

Dip the bottom of each cookie into the chocolate and smooth over with the back of a spoon, also getting off any excess chocolate (yep, just said excess chocolate- I know some of you are cringing). Place on a clean piece of parchment paper. Once finished, place in refrigerator or freezer to finish setting (about 10 minutes).

Transfer all remaining chocolate (or melt more chocolate if necessary) into a ziplock bag set in a small glass. This will help you so you can use both hands to get the chocolate into the bag. Snip a bottom corner of the bag and drizzle cookies with chocolate. Allow to set for another several minutes in the refrigerator or freezer, and enjoy! These cookies are also great frozen.

To make your own caramel (which I highly recommend! It’s like a science project):

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water

How To:

Place cream, butter, and fleur de sel or kosher salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil (everything should be melted together), then remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, swirl sugar, corn syrup, and water together without stirring. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Let boil without stirring until the mixture is a light golden caramel. Take care as mixture will burn very fast after it has reached the golden point, so remove from heat promptly.

Carefully stir in cream mixture- it will bubble up and continue to do so for several minutes, especially with stirring which you can now do.  Place back on heat and let simmer (low to medium-low heat) with a close eye, stirring frequently until caramel registers 255 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 15-20 minutes. Let the caramel cool slightly, then pour into a heat-safe bowl and add coconut. Continue with steps above to top cookies.