Chocolate-Speckled Salted Shortbread

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I know, you’re probably thinking, another sweet and salty recipe? It’s fine, you can call me obsessed, I’ll own it. The combination just works!

These are great cookies–easy to make, easy to cut, and just the right chewy texture on the inside. While the original recipe calls for cutting the dough into 1″x2″ strips, I couldn’t resist using one of my cookie cutters that hasn’t seen the light of day lately. Plus, they’re fun!

Chocolate-Speckled Salted Shortbread

Ingredients
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 & 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces dark chocolate, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon water, if necessary
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, such as fleur de sel

Preparation
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until fluffy.

Reduce mixer speed to low. Add flour and salt, mixing just until combined. Stir in chocolate.

Dough will be crumbly but should hold together when pinched. If dough is not holding together, mix in 1 tablespoon water.

Form dough into 2 balls and flatten into discs. Wrap each disc tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disc of dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut dough into 1″x 2″ strips. Carefully transfer cookies to prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake 18-22 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on pans for 10 minutes. Then, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Repeat rolling and baking process with other disc of dough.

Recipe from Bake or Break.

Sugar Cookie Bars

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I love sugar cookies, but rolling out, cutting dough, and decorating individual cookies can be time consuming and messy. Behold–sugar cookie bars! Since they’re baked in a 9×13 baking dish, all you have to do is press the dough down, bake, and frost. Easy peasy, plus there are no special ingredients so no extra trip the grocery store needed!

Sugar Cookie Bars

These cookies are buttery, soft, and chewy, just how sugar cookies should be. If you’re looking for a quick and delicious sugar cookie, give this recipe a try.

Sugar Cookie Bars

Ingredients
Bars
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened to cool room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest (optional)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Frosting
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles (optional)

Preparation
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until combined.

Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Press and/or spread the sugar cookie mixture gently into an even layer into the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 10-13 minutes. The bars shouldn’t have any color around the edges and barely be set in the middle. Let the bars cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, cream together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth (if the mixture has trouble coming together, add a drop or two of milk). Add in the vanilla and mix. Add the milk or cream and mix until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add food coloring, if desired.

Recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.

S’mores Bars

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Every month or two, a few baker friends and I get together for brunch to explore a new restaurant in LA (and to swap our latest treats). There are so many brunch places here, you could spend a lifetime in LA without trying each one. So when our latest plans included a quick bite at Cafe Surfas (yes, the cafe connected to the awesome kitchen supply store), before a shopping spree, I decided to make another version of s’mores bars.

S'mores Bars

Unfortunately, my sciatica had other plans. I had another stupid acute flare up, which this time, I (thought) I was prepared for with Prednisone, but that’s a whole other mess of a story. So instead of sharing these s’mores bars with my friends, they went to the office, where they were a huge hit.

Feb 17, 2013, 5:33 PM

If you’re looking for something gooey and sweet, these hit the spot. The crust is a little more cookie-like that I would have preferred, but it works well with the rest of the bar and elicited only good responses from my coworkers.

Ingredients
3/4 cup Sugar
1 1/2 cups butter (unsalted or salted) at room temperature
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt (less, if using salted butter)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (whole crackers can be crushed in a blender or food processor or else in a zipper-bag with a rolling-pin)
3 cups milk chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Preparation

  1. Preheat your oven to 375° F and place rack on middle rung. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until smooth, about two-three minutes. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and graham crackers. On the lowest mixer setting gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and then mix until well blended. Add up to 1/4 teaspoon of water to the sides of the bowl, drop by drop, just until the dough separates from the sides.
  2. Press the soft dough into an un-greased 9×13-inch pan, preferably non-stick.
  3. Bake the crust for 20 to 25 minutes or until slightly golden-brown and just set. Remove from the oven and sprinkle then spread the chocolate chips evenly over the top of the crust. Allow the base and chocolate to stand for five minutes or so to allow the chocolate to melt slightly. Spread chocolate with off-set spatula.
  4. Set the oven knob to broil. Sprinkle the mini-marshmallows evenly over the melted chocolate, covering it entirely.
  5. Broil the pan, with the top of the marshmallows no closer than five or six inches from the heat for about 30-60 seconds, or until the marshmallows are evenly toasted and browned on top – watch the entire process carefully. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Cut into bars, approximately 2″ by 3″.

Recipe from IslandEAT.

Mini Hershey’s Kisses Peanut Butter Blossoms

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For the past decade or so, my friends have hosted a low key new year’s eve party at their house, and each year I bring dessert. (Actually, when you have a baking blog everyone knows you’ll bring dessert, but that’s a whole other story.) Because there are people in different rooms of the house, I tend to make desserts that can be eaten in a bite or two, so guests aren’t awkwardly holding a glass of wine while balancing a plate with a fork.

Untitled

I’ve been wanting to use these mini (like the size of a large chocolate chip…that tiny!) Hershey’s kisses since I found them at the store, and I figured New Year’s Eve was the perfect night for a mini dessert. I don’t think I realized how mini the cookies really would be until I started measuring out the 1/2 teaspoon scoops of dough. One at a time. Then rolling each in sugar. For what seemed like forever.

Dec 31, 2012, 11:14 AM

But the repetitiveness during the preparation was well worth it. These cookies are tiny (about the size of a quarter), soft, and have the perfect chocolate to peanut butter ratio. Not only were they a perfect bite, everyone got a little kiss at midnight. (And my coworkers got the dozens of leftovers.)

Ingredients
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar
Hershey’s Mini Kisses

Preparation
Heat oven to 350°F. Beat shortening and peanut butter with mixer in large bowl until well mixed. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat well. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat until fluffy.

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to peanut butter mixture, beating until blended. Shape 1/2 measuring teaspoons of dough into 1/2-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 5 to 6 minutes or until set. Immediately press one chocolate into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 14 dozen cookies.

Recipe from Hershey’s.

Hershey’s Baking Melts Cookies & Giveaway

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Before we get into the recipe, look what I got in the mail from Hershey’s!

Nov 24, 2012, 9:34 PM

Yep, that’s a Hershey’s® Cookie Headquarter Apron, one package of Hershey’s® Baking Melts Chocolates, one package of Hershey’s® Bits ‘o’ Brickle® Toffee Chips, one package of Hershey’s® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, one package of Hershey’s® Kisses® Chocolates, one canister of Hershey’s® Cocoa, and one set of recipe cards featuring the core Hershey’s® holiday recipes.

I know, it’s amazing. And I couldn’t wait to try out some of the chocolate, including Hershey’s new Baking Melts. The Baking Melts are these cute little discs that can be mixed into batters or even sandwiched between two cookies. The best thing about using them in this cookie recipe is that you get more chocolate in every bite. And how can you go wrong with more chocolate?

Hershey's Baking Melts Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) butter , softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups (9.5-oz. pkg.) HERSHEY’S BAKING MELTS Milk Chocolate or (10-oz.-pkg.) HERSHEY’S BAKING MELTS Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Preparation
Heat oven to 325°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into butter mixture. Stir in chocolate pieces and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheet.

Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; slide parchment paper and cookies to wire rack. Cool completely. 3 dozen cookies.

Recipe from Hershey’s.

And because Hershey’s is so awesome, they’ve given me a holiday baking prize back to give away to one of you! Leave a comment below stating which Hershey’s product you are excited to bake with this holiday season.

Hershey’s provided me with a holiday baking pack and will ship a second pack directly to a winner. Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, December 9, 2012. One winner will be selected at random shortly thereafter and contacted by email. Please note this giveaway is only open to residents of the U.S.

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