Category Archives: Dessert

Soft Ginger Cookies

ginger cookies

I need to be straight with you guys. I was off my kitchen game last week, hence my absence from the blogosphere. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. Oh no, I thought my persistence would pay off eventually, but sometimes a girl doesn’t know when to quit.

It all started on Saturday when I went to Joann Fabrics to look for feathers for my Halloween costume. I left without feathers, but with a donut pan (cause that’s the same). Sunday morning I woke up and was all, “I’m going to make pumpkin chocolate donuts with orange sprinkles in my new donut pan! Yay Halloween!” I then proceeded to make two batches of “donuts,” which looked awfully nice, but the texture was like bread and the flavor was like…well nothing. To the trash they went.

ginger cookies stack

Then I decided to make pizza dough so I could have it ready for baking throughout the week, and maybe sneak in some cooking photos before the early sunset (shorter days make life hard for the food photography perfectionist). I bought some pizza ingredients on Monday after work, then came home to find that the boy surprised me by coming back from “Deer Camp” early. Whatta guy. Instead of a new experimental dish, I used my pizza dough for our tried-and-true calzones, and decided to jazz things up by making a balsamic glaze for drizzling. Do you know what happens to balsamic glaze if you bring it to a boil and then forget about it? It turns to a solid…a solid that looks like a lava rock, and sticks to the pan like one too.

ginger cookies molasses

On Tuesday the boy’s mom brought us a Halloween treat basket with Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread mix. “Perfect,” I thought, “I’ll make some pumpkin chocolate brownies to bring into work on Halloween! How festive!” I baked them, tried a corner, and thought they tasted great. Fast forward 13 hours, when I grabbed one after lunch on Halloween and I realized the bars were under-baked, under-sweetened and…wet. Yes, wet. Embarrassed, I removed them from the communal kitchen and hung my head in shame.

ginger cookies sugar ball

It may have taken three failures to make me see the light, but I finally realized that it was just not my week in the kitchen, and certainly not my week to try to guide others on how to succeed in the kitchen. Rejection and defeat finally set in. As a golfer might say, I had a case of the shanks.

I was trying to figure out how to rebound from my week of failures when I received my first daily holiday cookie email of the season. I decided the best way to recover would be with an old favorite: soft ginger cookies that I make year-round, but more often around the holidays. I know it’s the first week of November, and that may seem a tad early to bring up “holiday” talk, but in my book it’s never too early for festive treats or feeling jolly. As a side note, I’m also a person who has already checked if my local Christmas music station has started up the seasonal tunes, so take my “too early” radar with a grain of salt.

ginger cookies stack halved

My college cafeteria had the most amazing ginger cookies, but you could never count on them being in the dessert aisle when you needed them. My friend Emma introduced me to them, and once I got my hands on one I was hooked. I don’t know if they didn’t make them everyday, or if they just didn’t make enough of them to keep up with the demand, but Emma and I would often be disappointed when we scoped out the ginger cookie situation. The recipe below is as close as I’ve come to replicating those evasive cafeteria cookies. They’re fluffy, soft, and full of warm spices.

soft mini ginger cookies

Since I made these baby-sized, they’re the perfect amount of sugar for a little bite of after-meal sweetness. However, if we’re being honest, I really wanted to make these baby-sized because mini foods are just so darn cute. I’m such a girl.

ginger cookies candles 2

And yes, those are Christmas candles in the images above. Yes, I just bought those this weekend. Yes, it’s just the beginning.
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Double Chocolate Macadamia Cookies

double chocolate macadamia nut cookies 2

After college I used to go to my parent’s house every Sunday to do my laundry. It wasn’t that I didn’t have laundry at my apartment, I was just terrified beyond belief of the laundry room beneath my apartment. When my roommate and I moved in, we looked at the dark dungeon of a laundry room and both gave it a definitive “no thanks.” I only used it a few times, and always in the middle of the day, and on my final trip I had a perfectly pleasant conversation with a man who had just moved in…which seems harmless enough looking back, but at the time I was convinced he was going to kidnap me. Yes, my mind is a weird place.

Anyway, my laundry room fear led to several cozy Sundays at my parent’s place. My sister would usually come over too, and we’d fight, as sisters do, over who got to put the first load in. While waiting for our laundry, we’d sometimes watch Grey’s Anatomy on the DVR, but usually we’d make cookies for my dad. Sure, my mom enjoys cookies (as long as they have “nothing weird” in them like peanut butter…crazy lady), but my dad is the one who really treasures baked goods. Now that my sister and I both live in places with in-unit laundry, our weekend baking adventures happen less often than my dad would like. When we do go to my parents place, my dad will inevitably come upstairs and say, “Are my girls baking me cookies? I haven’t had fresh cookies in so long…” Guilt.

A few weeks ago, this same scenario played out, but then my dad reached for a package of store-bought cookies. STORE BOUGHT! That’s what he’s succumbed to? I felt ashamed. It only got worse when he said, “Katie, give these a try. They’re really good.” Oh ARE they…We’ll see about that.

They were good. I hated them for it, but they were really good…disturbingly good, and of course full of the scary ingredients that come in store-bought cookies.

With my dad’s birthday coming up this Thursday, I decided to make him a batch of cookies that would at least keep him away from the store-bought variety for a few days. For this birthday treat, I put my own spin on those boxed white chocolate macadamia cookies he talked up so much. I wish I could say this “spin” was purely out of artistic inspiration, but in the same fashion that my sister and I usually make cookies at my parent’s place, I just went with what I had in my cupboards and made it work.
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Pumpkin White Chocolate Cake Bars

pumpkin white chocolate bars stacked 2

Since September 1st rolled around, I’ve been thinking about pumpkins, and what my first baking move would be this year. There’s just something so comforting about pumpkin baked goods; I think it’s a mixture of the warm spices, coupled with the feeling that you should be wrapped up in a blanket and drinking tea, or tromping through leaves on a sunny, but kind of cold, day.

While contemplating my first move in the kitchen, I kept coming back to my favorite pumpkin cookie recipe. These cake-like cookies practically begged me to transform them into bars so they’d be even fluffier, and allow more space for white chocolate chunks (one of pumpkin’s best friends) to make a home.

If you’re feeling the Fall fever like I am, you should probably grab one (or three) of these bars…immediately. They’re soft, perfectly spiced, and full of the warm-fuzzies an Autumnal freak like me craves..

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Peanut Butter Drenched Ice Cream Sandwiches

chocolate peanut butter ice cream sandwiches with peanut butter drizzle

Some people can fall right into vacation mode. They simply finish up work, walk out the door and haven’t a care in the world.

I’m not one of those people. Not even close.

Since the 4th of July fell on a Wednesday this year, I went crazy and took a 5-day weekend. Look out for this girl, I know. The boy and I decided to spend the vacation at his dad’s place in Wisconsin. It’s secluded within a bunch of tree-covered bluffs, has a creek the weaves throughout the property, and it’s also one of the few places where my phone absolutely refuses to work. So, to summarize, it’s pretty great.

On our first day of vacation, Wisconsin set a heat record (brace yourselves, here I go complaining about heat again), so, with the exception of an hour sitting in the creek with a beer in my hand, the outdoors was off-limits. No structure and no outdoors? My thumbs started to twiddle, my toes started dancing up, down, around…I needed to do something to settle into vacation mode. Naturally, this “something” became a baking project. I’m so predictable.
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Red, White and Blueberry Crisp

Triple Berry Crisp a la mode

This weekend had some ups and downs. Not in temperature or humidity, of course, as those just kept going up, up, and away. Sure, it was beautiful, sunny, and full of skin-burning loveliness, but it was also the weekend when I started to move my stuff from my apartment to the boy’s place. This is a great thing, yes, but what is NOT great is that I currently live on the third-floor of a brick building with absolutely zero air conditioning. Not even a window unit, because in all my cockiness I thought, “Psh, I’m moving out in July, I don’t need to pay $25 for someone to install my air conditioner. I’m stronger than that.”

I’m not stronger than that. That was a mistake.

The air was heavy, the floor was hot and moist, and the fans were just turning their heads in vain. We were productive, sure, but also…thirsty. So very thristy. I wanted all the water in the world, and something refreshing and sweet. Yes, I wanted dessert, because even when nearing heat-stroke I’m still me.

So when I finally got in his (/my new) central-air-conditioned home, I deemed it dessert time. Fruity, fresh, and weather-appropriate dessert time, that is, and something likely involving ice cream. Yes, that is what I needed. And a cold glass of Chardonnay on the rocks. This, my friends, is the key to hot-weather happiness. Fact.
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