Monthly Archives: October 2014

Samoas Brownies

Samoas Brownies!  These coconut topped brownies with caramel will become a memorable favorite!

Samoas Brownies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - Fudgy brownies with a caramel coconut pecan toppping inspired by Samoas Cookies!I dreamed these brownies up clear back in August when my family had a brownie bake-off at the family reunion.  I brought these.

After they didn’t win, and I was in my little corner licking my wounds, I thought that I should have made something like these Samoas Brownies.  The caramel coconut pecan topping is seriously to die for.

I was inspired, in part, by the Samoas Rice Krispie Treats I made a while back.  They might be the tastiest thing I have ever stuffed in my face.  And make no mistake, stuffing them in my face is exactly what I did.  I couldn’t stop doing it.  These things are evil that way.

These brownies kind of had the same effect on me.  Apparently the chocolate-caramel-coconut combination is my own personal form of ambrosia.  I had to send extra brownies in the kids lunches to keep myself from eating the whole pan.

Samoas Brownies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - Fudgy brownies with a caramel coconut pecan toppping inspired by Samoas Cookies!

My daughter loves to share her treats with her friends at school.  She reports that girls offered her their food, and even their cash, for them.

She didn’t accept the cash, but shared freely.  Good girl.  I sometimes send extra treats with her, because I know she does this.

There are, of course, other recipes similar to this out there in the interwebs.  Most of them, however, melt store bought caramels.  I figure, caramel is easy enough to make, there’s no reason not to.  It’s probably easier than melting down the candies, if you ask me.  And the taste is so much better!

Samoas Brownies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - Fudgy brownies with a caramel coconut pecan toppping inspired by Samoas Cookies!

The entire recipe is listed below.  But if you must know, I used my favorite go-to brownie recipe (minus the vegetable oil), and this caramel sauce recipe, and threw in some coconut and pecans.

It’s so awesome having trusted basic recipes to build from.  It makes these Samoas Brownies a total no-brainer.  AND, I dare say they would do very well in the family brownie bake-off!

 

Want more?  Try these family bake-off inspired treats!

pb-marshmallow-crispy-brownies-3Peanut Butter
Marshmallow Brownies
samoas-rice-krispie-treats-6Samoas Rice
Krispie Treats
scotcheroos-2014-3Scotcheroos
(PB Krispie Treats)

 

Samoas Brownies
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A chocolate brownie topped with coconut, caramel, and pecans.
Author:
Recipe type: Brownies
Serves: 20
Ingredients
BROWNIES:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
CARAMEL:
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup whipping cream
TOPPING:
  • 1½ cups shredded coconut
  • ½ cup pecan chips
Instructions
  1. For brownies: Place butter and chocolate in a medium sized microwave safe dish. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring between each, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
  2. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add flour and mix until combined. Do not overmix.
  3. Pour batter into a greased or lined 9x13 pan. Bake at 350F for 18-22 minutes, until edges are dry.
  4. For topping: While brownies are baking, make caramel. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan. Add brown sugar and cream, and bring to a boil, stirring. Let boil 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add coconut and nuts to the caramel sauce, stirring to get an even mixture. Pour topping over the top of baked brownies.
  6. Let cool on the counter or in the fridge before cutting into 20 bars.

 

Dulce de Leche Cookies

Caramel cookies taste so rich and delicious!  These caramel cookies are easy, perfect, and tasty!

Dulce de Leche Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - They have a great caramel flavor, and you can sandwich them with extra dulce de leche.

Robb was driving my car today, and had the audacity to tell me my mirrors were in the wrong place.

I told him his head was in the wrong place.

Then he told me he still loved being married to me, even though I couldn’t properly adjust my mirrors.  And I retaliated by putting the whole story on Facebook.  He saw me do it, and said, “NO!”

So I win.

I justified myself by telling him that this is probably a conversation that lots of couple have had, and that people would relate to it.

We had a similar conversation about these cookies.

I gave him a taste of the dough, and he said he didn’t like it.

Dulce de Leche Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - They have a great caramel flavor, and you can sandwich them with extra dulce de leche.

I literally could not understand him.  What’s not to like?

I told him he would like the cookies better than the dough.  And he did.  But not that much better.  “I don’t like dulce de leche,” he explained.  “It’s caramel,” I retorted.  “You like caramel.”

See what I mean?  He’s clearly wrong, and clearly there are a lot of people on my side about this.

Dulce de Leche Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - They have a great caramel flavor, and you can sandwich them with extra dulce de leche.Dulce de Leche Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - They have a great caramel flavor, and you can sandwich them with extra dulce de leche.

In Robb’s defense, these taste different plain than they do sandwiched with dulce de leche.  If I had it to do over, I probably would not sandwich them, I would just leave them plain.

If you really love that strong, rich, caramel, dulce de leche flavor, by all means, sandwich them.

Dulce de Leche Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - They have a great caramel flavor, and you can sandwich them with extra dulce de leche.

But, if Robb moves my mirrors, I’m going to keep his Dulce de Leche cookies for myself.

That’ll show him.

 

Want more?  Try these caramel treats!

brown sugar cookie recipeBrown Sugar
Cookies
brown sugar recipeBrown Sugar Cake &
Caramel Dip
caramel-layer-cake-5Caramel
Layer Cake

 

 Recipe from Annie’s Eats

Dulce de Leche Cookies
 
Cook time
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A rich caramel cookie sandwiched with dulce de leche.
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 15
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter at room temperature
  • 1 can dulce de leche
  • ½ cup sugar + additional for rolling
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • dash salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ cups flour
Instructions
  1. Cream butter until light and smooth. Add ⅓ cup of the dulce de leche and mix well.
  2. Add sugars and mix well. Add egg and mix well.
  3. Add salt, soda, and flour, and mix just until combined.
  4. Drop small spoonfuls into a dish with sugar, and roll to coat. Place rolled dough balls on a baking sheet, and bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes. Let sit on the pan 1-2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
  5. Use remaining dulce de leche to spread on cookies, and sandwich them together.

 

Peanut Butter Brookies

This chocolate peanut butter recipe is cut into bars; These chewy brownie cookies bars are so delicious and easy to make!

Peanut Butter Brookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a layer of peanut butter cookie and a layer of brownie, the ultimate dessert power couple!My brother, the peanut butter addict, literally has the worst ideas for birthday gifts on the planet.

He and his wife both have birthdays in the same month, so we usually have a family party for both of them at the same time.  This year, when we asked them what they wanted, they gave the same answer as last year.  And the year before.  And the year before that.

Gift cards.

Yeah, yeah, gift cards are easy, and my sister in law loves shopping, so that makes the gift cards extra fun, but I can’t be alone in feeling like they are super duper boring to give, can I?  I mean, there’s nothing to open, AND there’s no personal touch.  You don’t get the satisfaction of giving them something you think they would love and enjoy.

It’s a real downer for me.  And as everyone knows, my brother’s birthday is all about me.

Peanut Butter Brookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a layer of peanut butter cookie and a layer of brownie, the ultimate dessert power couple!

I went ahead and told him his gift ideas were terrible, and he promptly sent me a new idea:  peanut butter baked goods.

Now THAT, I can do.  Good call, little bro.

I had this brilliant idea to pair a peanut butter cookie with a brownie, and make them into fun little muffin-shaped bites.  BUT, of course, despite my generous (and I do mean generous) greasing of the muffin pan, those things just did not want to let go.  They came out in crumbly pieces.  See the photographic evidence of this here.

FAIL.  I actually just put all the crumbs in a bowl and let the kids dig in.

Peanut Butter Brookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a layer of peanut butter cookie and a layer of brownie, the ultimate dessert power couple!Peanut Butter Brookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a layer of peanut butter cookie and a layer of brownie, the ultimate dessert power couple!

For attempt number two, I layered the cookie dough and the brownie batter in a pan, baked, and cut them into squares.  This was a much better plan, and the one I highly recommend.

They were really fun to give away, and a much more personal birthday offering than the gift card I paired with them.

I hope they conveyed the message to my brother that I wanted conveyed:  that I love you, you peanut butter eating dork.  Don’t ever change.

 

Want more?  These bars will knock your socks off!

Nutella-swirled-PB-bars-6Nutella Swirled
Peanut Butter Bars
scotcheroos-2014-3Scotcheroos
(PB Krispie Treats)
no bake dessertsNo-Bake Peanut
Butter Bars

 

Peanut Butter Brookies
 
Cook time
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A peanut butter and chocolate bar, with peanut butter cookie layer on the bottom and a brownie layer on top.
Author:
Recipe type: Brownies
Serves: 20
Ingredients
FOR PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE LAYER:
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ cups flour
FOR BROWNIE LAYER:
  • 1 box brownie mix, with ingredients listed on the box
  • (OR you can use this recipe, and double it.)
Instructions
  1. For cookie layer, cream butter, sugars, and peanut butter. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
  2. Add salt, soda, and flour, and mix until combined.
  3. For brownie layer, prepare batter by mixing ingredients as described on the brownie mix box.
  4. In a 9x13 pan, press cookie dough into the bottom, spreading to cover the entire pan. Pour brownie batter over the top, spreading to cover the entire pan.
  5. Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes, until edges are dry and pulling away from the pan, and the center is not runny.
  6. Let cool, then cut into 12 large or 20 small bars.

 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hot Cheese Dip

This hot cheese dip recipe works great with Wheat Thins!  Roasted red peppers and jalapenos make this hot cheese dip recipe spicy, and a fun Halloween Snack.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  For more fun Wheat Thins and Oreos ideas, search for #SpookySnacks on social media.  #CollectiveBias

Roasted Red Pepper Hot Cheese Dip from JensFavoriteCookies.com - A warm and spicy crowd pleaser!At this house, we love cheese.

Robb’s kind of a mild cheddar guy, while I’m more of a pepperjack girl.  My favorite grilled cheese sandwich ever involves pepperjack cheese, caramelized onions, and garlic butter.  Seriously, it’s over the top, decadent heaven.

This week, I figured it was about time for me to put a bunch of cheese together and get it all warm and melty and eat it with Wheat Thins.  It was a brilliant and tasty idea.

And what’s a hot cheese dip recipe without a little heat to it?  I did something I don’t do nearly often enough, and I roasted some peppers.  They added a really flavorful sweet spicy component to this dip.  I couldn’t have done it without them, truth be told.

Roasted Red Pepper Hot Cheese Dip from JensFavoriteCookies.com - A warm and spicy crowd pleaser!

I started out trying to roast the peppers on my stove.  But I wasn’t in love with how it was going.  It’s because I have one of those glass top stoves, so it’s impossible to get the pepper directly on the heating element.

After I fiddled with that a while, I went with plan B: roasting in the oven.

It’s what I should have done in the first place.

Roasting peppers in the oven is crazy easy.  Just line a baking sheet with foil, put the peppers on it, and throw them in the oven.  After a few minutes, they’ll need to be turned.  Once they are all done, I removed the stems and seeds, and diced up the pepper.

Roasted peppers are so different from raw peppers.  They have this slightly oily, slightly sweet, rich flavor.

Roasting Peppers for Hot Cheese Dip from JensFavoriteCookies.comRoasting Peppers for Hot Cheese Dip from JensFavoriteCookies.com

You can see from these pictures that the one I tried to roast on the stove has black spots.  Black spots are fine, by the way.  But the problem was, it wasn’t really cooking the pepper, it was just burning the parts that touched the heat.  Some spots were kind of impossible to get heat to.

After I took the photos of the raw peppers, I decided to roast some jalapenos too.  I mean, why not?

Roasted Red Pepper Hot Cheese Dip from JensFavoriteCookies.com - A warm and spicy crowd pleaser!wheat-thins-walmart-2oreo-shelf-walmartWheat Thins are the perfect companion to this cheese dip.  They taste awesome, and stand up to the hot cheese without getting soggy.  It’s a win-win.

I got my Wheat Thins at Walmart, and you can too.  Coming up on the weekend of October 25th, 2014, many Walmart stores will be holding in-store demos featuring Fanta, Oreos, and Wheat Thins.  Check here to see if the demos will be at a store near you.

It’s a great combination, since Wheat Thins, Oreos, and Fanta are all perfect for entertaining during the holiday season, football season, or any season, really!  It’s easy to make a great party with these products.

 

 

 

 Want more?  Try these crowd-pleasing appetizers!

pulled pork tortilla cups thumbPulled Pork
Tortilla Cups
stuffed mushroomsStuffed
Mushroom Cups
caramelized onion dip and potato chipsCaramelized
Onion Dip

 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hot Cheese Dip
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dips
Ingredients
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
Instructions
  1. Roast the red pepper and the jalapeno by placing on a foil lined baking sheet, and baking at 400F for 20-30 minutes, turning once halfway through baking.
  2. Let peppers cool, then dice.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream cheese and cheeses, stirring until melted and smooth. Add chopped roasted peppers and paprika, and stir well.
  4. If desired, place dip in a oven-safe serving bowl, and top with additional cheddar cheese. Bake at 400F for about 10 minutes, until top is brown and bubbly. Serve warm.
Notes
Since this is best served warm, you may want to keep it warm on the stove or in a slow cooker on the low setting.
This makes a rather large serving, so for smaller gatherings, I recommend cutting the recipe in half.

 

 

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Easy peanut butter cookies recipe; Make baking peanut butter cookies fun by adding candy in the middle.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - they're stuffed with peanut butter cups!Not that there’s anything wrong with a plain old, ordinary peanut butter cookies or anything, but sometimes it’s fun to just take them to the next level.  Know what I mean?

I took these to the next level by stuffing them with peanut butter cups.  It’s like homemade cookie meets candy bar.

That’s how I roll.  With sweets upon sweets inside sweets near sweets.

This particular sweet creation is the brain child of The Incomparable Miss K.  It seems she is a fan of peanut butter.  And peanut butter cookies.  And peanut butter cups.  And putting them all together.

Which is probably why she is so incomparable.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - they're stuffed with peanut butter cups!

The key to these babies is a muffin tin.  You put a little dough in the bottom of the muffin cups, then put a peanut butter cup on top, and a little more dough over that.

Then bake to peanut butter perfection.

I wanted to give them a peanut butter cookie look even though they didn’t look like a traditional cookie.  I dumped them out on the cooling rack upside down, and left them there a couple minutes.  It gave them a square grid pattern on top that reminded me of the crosshatch that most peanut butter cookies have.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - they're stuffed with peanut butter cups!

The really fun thing about these is that, like the preachers daughter, they’re not as innocent as they look.  Cut them open and surprise people with a little extra decadence!

Decadence that requires a glass of milk, and a grateful nod to The Incomparable Miss K.

 

Want more?  Try these stuffed cookies!

PB-stuffed-chocolate-cookies-6Peanut Butter Stuffed
Chocolate Cookies
chocolate-stuffed-peanut-butter-cookies-6Chocolate Stuffed
Peanut Butter Cookies
caramel-stuffed-chocolate-chunk-cookies-3Caramel Stuffed
Chocolate Chunk Cookies

 

 

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A peanut butter cookie stuffed with a peanut butter cup.
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: about 18
Ingredients
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 16-20 peanut butter cups
Instructions
  1. Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.
  2. Add salt and soda and mix well. Add flour and mix just until combined.
  3. Prepare a well-greased muffin tin. Take a small amount of dough, and flatten into a disc, and place it in the bottom of the muffin cup. Place a peanut butter cup on top. Make a second disc of dough and place that on top of the peanut butter cup. Fill all muffin cups this way.
  4. Bake at 350F for 13-18 minutes, until edges are a bit dry and center appears done. Remove from oven, and use a knife or spoon to loosen cookies. Turn out on to a cooling rack and allow to cool.

 

Caramel Layer Cake

One of the best caramel cake recipes I’ve found!  This easy caramel cake recipes will become a family favorite.

Caramel Layer Cake with Caramel Frosting from JensFavoriteCookies.com Some days I wish I lived closer to my sister.  The day she sent me photos of this Caramel Cake, for instance.

I want to dive face first into this thing.  I want Caramel Cake for breakfast.

But alas, *sniff, sniff*  she lives two states away, and the cake was history long before I could have gotten there to share it.  But it’s not too late to share it with you!  I’m turning my blog over to Em now, to give you all the delicious details.

 

Work hard, eat hard; that’s what I always say.  This weekend I know someone who has been working very hard and it’s my responsibility to take care of the rest.

Caramel Layer Cake with Caramel Frosting from JensFavoriteCookies.com

My husband works in a glass factory, which is hot work given that he spends 8 hours a day around furnaces turned on to temperatures in the thousands.  This was an unusual week in that he had to work all weekend long, which sucks bad enough, but to add insult to injury, it’s 90+ degrees outside making hot work excruciating.

Like my workin’ man, I am really ready for summer to be over.  I’m itching to pull out all my jewel-toned sweaters and scarves.  I’m ready to turn on the heater and snuggle up under a blanket with a book and a glass of whiskey.  More than anything though, I’m ready for fall food: pumpkins, butternut squash, soup, apples, and of course….caramel.

Caramel Layer Cake with Caramel Frosting from JensFavoriteCookies.com

Yes, yes, you can eat caramel year-round but there’s something about caramel that pairs so well with fall and winter flavors.  It rounds out the tartness of an apple pie, it gives depth and creaminess to carrot cake, and if you haven’t put a little caramel on your pumpkin cookies, then it’s time to come toward the light.

Despite the hot weather, I turned on my stove and made caramel frosting then I turned on my oven and made caramel cake.

 Want more?  Try these layer cakes!

mint-cake-6Mint Cake grandmas-chocolate-cake-5Chocolate Cake Chocolate-peanut-butter-cake-5Chocolate PB Cake

 

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Caramel Layer Cake
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A sweet, caramel layer cake with caramel frosting.
Author:
Recipe type: Cake
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • ¼ Cup milk
  • 1 Cup butter, softened
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2¾ Cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine sour cream and milk.
  2. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at medium-low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
  4. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and let cool 1 hour or until completely cool.
  5. Spread Caramel Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.
Notes
As pictured, cake is made with 4 6-inch layers. Since it was pretty unstable, I recommend using 2 9-inch layers.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Caramel Layer Cake
 
Caramel frosting, perfect for caramel cake!
Author:
Ingredients
  • ⅓ Cup sugar
  • 1 Tblsp. flour
  • 2½ Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup milk
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle ⅓ cup sugar in a shallow, heavy 3½-qt. Dutch oven; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is melted and syrup is light golden brown. Remove from heat.
  2. Stir together 1 Tbsp. flour and 2½ cups sugar in a large saucepan. Add milk, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
  3. Gradually pour about one-fourth hot milk mixture into caramelized sugar, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in remaining hot milk mixture until smooth.
  4. Cover and cook over low heat 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium; uncover and cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reaches 238° (soft-ball stage, about 10 minutes). Add butter, stirring until blended. Remove from heat and let stand, without stirring, until temperature drops to 110° (about 1 hour).
  5. Pour into bowl of heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Add vanilla, and beat at medium speed with whisk attachment until spreading consistency (about 20 minutes).

 

Almond Shortbread Fingers

You’ll love this shortbread fingers recipe!  Have fun with these finger cookies for Halloween, and snack pack pudding cups.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.  Please visit SnackPacks for more info on the product, or search for #SnackPackMixins on social media.  #CollectiveBias 

Almond Shortbread Fingers and "BLOOD" Vanilla Pudding from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a fun treat for Halloween!Sometimes my kids are the envy of the school cafeteria.

I mean, they show up with different fun cookies and treats in their lunches frequently, and the other kids are often asking for samples.  The Hippie Chick actually asked me to put extra cookies in her lunchbox this week, so she could share with her friends.

Fine with me, I have a whole jar full of them.

It did inspire me, though, to come up with some more fun seasonal treats that the kids could share with their friends.  Since it’s almost Halloween, I figured some blood was in order.

Not real blood.  Just something reminiscent of blood.  Something reminiscent of blood and edible.

Almond Shortbread Fingers and "BLOOD" Vanilla Pudding from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a fun treat for Halloween!

Shortbread was the perfect cookie for this job, because in addition to being really tasty, shortbread doesn’t spread much when it is baked.  I basically keeps the same shape it had before baking.

I shaped some “fingers” out of this shortbread, by making 4-inch by 1-inch logs, then adding a little extra dough in two spots for knuckles.  I used a knife to cut some wrinkles into the knuckles before baking, and a slice of almond made a perfect fingernail.

Almond Shortbread Fingers and "BLOOD" Vanilla Pudding from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a fun treat for Halloween!

And the blood?  For this, I turned to Snack Pack Pudding!  I used a Vanilla pudding cup, and added some red food coloring, and mixed it in.  It’s not very realistic blood, (for that matter, they are not very realistic fingers) but it is reminiscent of blood, not too scary for little kids, and most certainly edible.

Almond Shortbread Fingers and "BLOOD" Vanilla Pudding from JensFavoriteCookies.com - a fun treat for Halloween!

It’s kind of nice that these pudding cups are available in so many places.  I found it at Walmart.  You can find it on the baking aisle, or sometimes in a special display.

They’re a little work, but they are worth it.

Why?  Because I’m pretty sure these finger cookies are going to be a hit in the school cafeteria!

almond-shortbread-fingers-3
Print

Almond Shortbread Fingers

Almond Shortbread cookies shaped like fingers for Halloween, and served with blood red vanilla pudding.

Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 12 cookies

Ingredients

COOKIES

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 cups flour

DIP

  • vanilla SnackPack pudding cups
  • red food coloring

Instructions

  1. Beat butter, sugar, cornstarch, and almond extract. Add salt and almonds, and mix well.

  2. Add flour and mix until combined.

  3. Form a disc with the dough, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes.

  4. Use pieces of the chilled dough to form 4-inch long by 1-inch wide logs. Press small dots of dough into two spots on the log to form knuckles. Use a knife to cut 3-4 wrinkles in the knuckles. Press an almond slice on one end for a fingernail.

  5. Place on a baking sheet, and bake at 350F for 15-18 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack.

  6. For dip, mix desired amount of red food coloring into pudding. Serve with cookie fingers.

Recipe Notes

If dough chills longer than 30 minutes, it will need a few minutes (up to 10 minutes) out of the fridge to soften before working.

 

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Halloween sugar cookies recipe; These decorated Halloween cookies are fun to make!

Chocolate Sugar Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - These cut out cookies are decorated for Halloween!I’d like to tell you that chocolate is the perfect flavor for Halloween, but the truth is, chocolate is the perfect flavor for every holiday.

And for every day, for that matter.

I was worried that Chocolate Sugar Cookies would be too boring and cliche, so I spiced them up with some adorable holiday decorations.

Well, sort of adorable.  Decorating has never been the thing I’m best at.

In fact, I had to give these cookies two tries to get them right.  Not only was the recipe a little off on the first try, but the decorating was… uh… pretty bad.  Let’s just leave it at that.

I fixed the recipe by using shortening instead of butter.  I know butter tastes awesome and all that, but it makes cut out cookies a little too soft for cutting out.  Getting the recipe right makes all the difference.  If you’re really interested in cut out sugar cookies, I have an in-depth tutorial about making them perfectly thick, soft, and flavorful here.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - These cut out cookies are decorated for Halloween!

Before I get into the how-to’s of decorating these cookies, let me first introduce you to my talented friends!  We decided to make this a Halloween even to remember by putting together 10 fun Halloween-inspired recipes.  You can find a link to each recipe on the list below.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - These cut out cookies are decorated for Halloween!

 

  1. Mini Pumpkin Oreo Cheesecakes from Chocolate Moosey
  2. Liquid Ghost Halloween Cocktail from Pineapple and Coconut
  3. Peanut Butter White Chocolate Popcorn from The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
  4. Nutty Peanut Buttery Caramel Apples from Hungry Couple
  5. Creepy Crawly Coffee Cake from gotta get baked
  6. Chocolate Sugar Cookies from Jen’s Favorite Cookies
  7. Baked Chocolate Donuts with Pumpkin Bourbon Glaze from Crumb
  8. Count Chocula Peanut Butter Marshmallow Treats from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
  9. Devil’s Wing Sauce from Magnolia Days
  10. Spider Web Cookie Cake from That Skinny Chick Can Bake

 

Let’s talk decorations for a minute.

I started with one big batch of homemade frosting.  Then I split it up and made it 5 different colors.  I used gel food coloring

The difficult part was dealing with the chocolate.  The first thing I did was draw my shapes on a piece of wax paper.  Triangles for the jack-‘o-lantern eyes, horns for the devils, and bats for the moons.  Then I placed the wax paper pencil-side-down on a baking sheet.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - These cut out cookies are decorated for Halloween!Chocolate Sugar Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - These cut out cookies are decorated for Halloween!

I melted about 2 oz. of bittersweet chocolate (semi-sweet is also fine) in the microwave and spooned it into a piping bag with the smallest round tip I could find.  It was a little tricky getting the hang of piping the melted chocolate, but after a minute, I got pretty good and tracing and filling the shapes I had drawn.  Then I used up the rest of the chocolate by making tails for the devils, legs for the spiders, and lots and lots of eyes.

I put the whole pan in the freezer to let the chocolate set.  The real trick here is that when they are frozen, and ready to be placed on the frosted cookies, as soon as you touch the chocolate with your hands, it melts.  Talk about frustration.  I skirted the issue by using tweezers to lift the chocolate pieces off the wax paper and place them on the cookies.

Another issue was that the spider legs and devil tails didn’t hold up very well.  Some of them broke as I took them off the wax paper.  Others broke after I placed them on the cookies.  Still others got sort of soft and melty, and just didn’t look good.  I ended up preferring to use black licorice laces for the spider legs and devil tails.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies from JensFavoriteCookies.com - These cut out cookies are decorated for Halloween!

If you find the chocolate eyes to be too fussy, I have a solution for that too.  Using decorating gel (find it near the birthday candles and sprinkles at the grocery store) is far easier, and results are just as good.

And if all else fails, just frost them and eat them undecorated!

 

chocolate sugar cookies
Print

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Rich chocolate cookies, decorated for Halloween.

Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 3 dozen
Author Jen @ Jen's Favorite Cookies

Ingredients

COOKIES:

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups flour

FROSTING:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream
  • about 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

DECORATIONS:

  • 2 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • black licorice laces
  • black decorating gel

Instructions

FOR COOKIES:

  1. Cream shortening and powdered sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

  2. Add cocoa, salt, and soda, and mix well. Add flour and mix until combined.

    Chill dough for 1-2 hours, or as long as overnight.

  3. Roll dough on a well floured surface or between layers of wax paper, to ¼-inch thickness. Cut out 2½- inch circles. Place on greased or lined baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 10-11 minutes.

FOR FROSTING:

  1. For frosting, combine all ingredients, using an electric mixer to beat until smooth and creamy. Separate even amounts of frosting into 5 separate small dishes. Color four of the dishes with black, red, orange, and yellow coloring. Leave the 5th white.

FOR DECORATIONS:

  1. For chocolate decorations, prepare by drawing desired shapes onto wax paper. (I drew eyes and mouths for jack-o-lanterns, bats, and horns for devils.) Place wax paper pencil-side-down on a baking sheet or cutting board.

  2. Melt chocolate in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each. Spoon melted chocolate into a piping bag with a very small round tip. Carefully drizzle chocolate over drawn shapes, and fill in. Make several small dots for eyes.

    Freeze chocolate shapes for a few minutes.

  3. FOR MOONS: Frost with yellow frosting, and use tweezers to place chocolate bats on top.

    FOR PUMPKINS: Frost with orange frosting, and use tweezers to place eyes and mouth.

    FOR DEVILS: Frost with red frosting, and use tweezers to place eyes and horns. Use a small length of licorice as the tail, pressing into the frosting to secure.

    FOR SPIDERS: Frost with black frosting. Use tweezers to place eyes. Use small lengths of licorice to make legs, four on each side, pressing into the frosting to secure.

    FOR MUMMIES: Use a piping bag with a large round tip to make wide, flat lines of white frosting in criss-cross patterns. Use tweezers to place chocolate eyes.

    For best results, keep cookies in the fridge until ready to serve. Store in an airtight container.

Essential Baking Supplies for your Pantry

 

pantry-essentials-4My mother is easily the most organized person I know.  She is like the gold standard of organization.

When I was a kid, I liked thinking that some of those amazing organizational abilities rubbed off on me, but as an adult, the chaos and disorder in my own home makes it apparent that this apple fell FAR from the tree.

It doesn’t help that my house is small, and the original builders of the home obviously didn’t value storage space much.

Take my pantry, for example.  It’s far too small, and has far too much stuff crammed in it.  It’s not that things don’t have a home in there, it’s just that the home is so hard to get to, no one wants to do the work to find it.

As you might imagine, I was thrilled when OXO sent me these amazing POP containers!  I finally had some time to clean out that crammed pantry, and get some of the stuff in there into clear, easily sealed containers.  It’s like a dream come true!

pantry-essentials-1

I mean, who actually keeps their pantry like this???

While I was organizing the pantry, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite baking ingredients, those things that are essential for anyone who wants to bake to have on hand.

FLOUR:  Good old all-purpose flour.  Bleached or unbleached, it’s your choice.  Personally, I use unbleached.  There are lots of flour varieties out there, but all purpose flour will work for 95% of your baking projects.

SUGAR:  Regular white granulated sugar is the backbone of baking.  I try to always keep extra on hand, because I tend to run out often!

BROWN SUGAR:  You almost can’t bake without it.  There is a light and a dark brown variety, and light brown works well for most things.  If you’re doing a lot of baking, though, you may want to keep the dark brown sugar on hand as well.

POWDERED SUGAR:  (a.k.a. icing sugar or confectioners sugar)  You’ll need this for frosting, at the very least, as well as some shortbread recipes, no-cook candies, and a few other things.

SALT:  Every recipe uses it.  Literally.  And it’s the cheapest baking ingredient there is, so no excuses.

BAKING SODA:  (Bicarbonate, for some of you.)  Most baking recipes use baking soda as leavening.  It also has some other great uses, like taking the smell out of dirty laundry, cleaning showers and sinks, and reducing pet odors.  I honestly buy it in bulk.

BAKING POWDER:  Another very common leavening agent.  It comes in a small can, so there’s room in every pantry.

VEGETABLE OR CANOLA OIL:  It’s not uncommon for baking recipes to use oil in place of butter, so it’s a handy thing to have around.  It’s also essential for greasing pans, seasoning cast iron skillets, and fried foods.

NUTS:  I use them enough, that I try to keep walnuts and almonds in my pantry all the time.  They keep well in a sealed container, too.

MOLASSES:  I use this in the winter almost exclusively, but oh how I love the molasses treats!  It doesn’t require refrigeration, so it will keep on your shelf for ages.

SPICES:  The most common for baking would be cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and pumpkin pie spice.

VANILLA:  I buy large bottles, and use it constantly.  I definitely recommend getting the good quality stuff.

CHOCOLATE CHIPS:  Let’s face it, you can’t bake chocolate chip cookies without them!

BAKING CHOCOLATE:  I generally keep some unsweetened and some semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate bars on hand for brownies and cakes.

There are a few other things I use only occasionally, which would be optional pantry items.  These are things like cornstarch, corn syrup, olive oil, raisins or other dried fruits, peanut butter, graham crackers (or crumbs), marshmallows, and white chocolate.

pantry-essentials-3

Most of these baking ingredients fit beautifully in the OXO Pop Containers.  They are perfect for powdered sugar, brown sugar, and chocolate chips!  I literally love them so much, I am seriously considering getting another set.

They are all square or rectangle, so they fit next to each other very nicely, unlike my round containers which leave plenty of unused space in my pantry.  They have flat lids, so they all stack very well, too.  It makes them look so cute, and clean, and perfect!

My favorite part is the lid, though.  The button in the middle of the lid lets you know that the lid is closed securely.  You don’t have to worry about air or moisture getting in when that lid is closed.  The button makes the lid easy to open, as well.  Plus, it looks cool.

There are plenty of places to find these containers, if you want your own set, but I recommend checking out The Container Store.  (We’re finally getting a store near me, and I can’t wait!!)

pantry-essentials-6

Doesn’t my pantry look SOOOOO much better now?

It feels better too.  Getting rid of a good chunk of the stuff in there that was never being used, cleaning shelves and walls, and putting down new white shelf liner really made it feel a lot cleaner and roomier.

Here’s the good news… if you want some of these awesome containers for yourself, you can enter to win them!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE CONTEST!  You could win a $500 prize pack, with up to $250 worth of OXO organization and tools, AND a $250 gift card for Elfa products.  (If you haven’t looked at the Elfa products, you can see them here now.  They’ll make you want to completely remodel your pantry.)

For ideas about which OXO organizational tools you would choose if you win, you can look through my OXO Poptober wish list Pinterest board.

Follow Jen’s Favorite Cookies’s board Poptober Organization with @oxo on Pinterest.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Donuts

Pumpkin donut recipe;  You’ll love this buttermilk pumpkin donut recipe, with chocolate milk glaze!


Pumpkin Buttermilk Donuts with Chocolate Milk Glaze from JensFavoriteCookies.comDonuts mean Halloween to me.  I think it’s because my grandparents always served donuts and cider when we went trick-or-treating at their house.

Of course, that doesn’t stop me from eating them every chance I get.  My favorite are the cake donuts.  Chocolate cake donuts.  Obviously.

This is the year I decided to buy a donut pan and try my hand at my own cake donuts.

But before I tackle my favorite chocolate donuts, I thought I would try the pumpkin version.  After all, pumpkin, donuts, Halloween, chocolate milk, they all go together, right?

Oh yeah, chocolate milk.  Did I mention that?  It’s perfect with pumpkin donuts.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Donuts with Chocolate Milk Glaze from JensFavoriteCookies.com

I told you it’s my first time making donuts, right?  Technically, it’s my second time.  The first time I made the pumpkin donuts I made a total rookie mistake.  I filled the donut pan too full, and even after 30 minutes in the oven, the donuts were still gooey and weird looking.

{Note to self: don’t overfill the donut pan.}

Also, they were not that tasty.  Which is why I decided to add some buttermilk.  It’s my secret ingredient for making all baked goods tasty.

Don’t believe me?  Try one of these buttermilk recipes.  I have a whole list of them.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Donuts with Chocolate Milk Glaze from JensFavoriteCookies.comPumpkin Buttermilk Donuts with Chocolate Milk Glaze from JensFavoriteCookies.com

I was pretty excited to use TruMoo Chocolate Milk to glaze these donuts with.  TruMoo is a brand we’ve been using for years at our house.  The swim coach told our son that chocolate milk was an excellent after-practice treat, and our son told us it was an absolute necessity.  (He loves chocolate milk!)

I like giving it to him, because I know TruMoo won’t have any high fructose corn syrup or artificial growth hormones in it.  In fact, an 8-oz glass has as much potassium as a small banana and as much calcium as 5 cups of broccoli!  And he would much rather have chocolate milk than broccoli.

So what was once an occasional treat is now more or less a daily one.  Which is fine with everyone.  We love having TruMoo around.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Donuts with Chocolate Milk Glaze from JensFavoriteCookies.com

Can’t get enough of TruMoo?  Follow TruMoo on Pinterest for more delicious recipes and enter the Facebook contest for a chance to win weekly cash prizes through October 31!  You can also enter the TruMoo Sweepstakes for a chance to win a family trip for four!

And if all else fails, you still have some very nice donuts for Halloween.  Or whenever.

Want more? Try these dessert-like breakfast treats!

spiced-zucchini-muffins-9Spiced Zucchini
Crumb Muffins
chocolate muffinsChocolate
Buttermilk Muffins
sconesWhite Chocolate
Coconut Scones

 

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

 

Pumpkin Buttermilk Donuts
 
Cook time
Total time
 
A baked pumpkin cake donut with chocolate milk glaze.
Author:
Recipe type: Donuts
Serves: 11 donuts
Ingredients
DONUT:
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1½ cups flour
GLAZE:
  • ½ cup chocolate milk
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. For donuts, combine melted butter, oil, and brown sugar. Add egg, pumpkin, and vanilla and mix well.
  2. Add salt, baking powder, and spice and mix well.
  3. Add flour and buttermilk alternately, mixing just until combined.
  4. Spoon batter into a plastic zipper bag with a corner cut off. Pipe batter into a greased donut pan, taking care not to over fill.
  5. Bake donuts at 350F for 9-11 minutes. Turn donuts out, and let cool.
  6. For glaze, combine milk and sugar. Spoon over cooled donuts. Wait a few minutes, and glaze a second time.
Notes
The glaze is quite thin. I had the best luck by glazing once, then freezing for a few minutes, and glazing a second time.
These donuts also taste great frozen!

 

September Wrap-Up

Sept-2014-wrap-up

September might be my favorite month.  I love when summer lingers, reluctant to transform into fall.

And, I’m not going to lie, I do enjoy the routine and the hopefulness that comes with the beginning of the school year.

I’ll tell you the truth, I spent at least half this month feeling very behind, and making recipes the day before I posted them.  I’m kind of glad the month is drawing to an end, so I can finally catch my breath!

My favorite post of the month, as weird as this is to say, is the Chocolate Cheesecake.  It’s a more complicated recipe than I normally make, it took quite a while, and to be completely honest, I didn’t love the photos that much.  It was a frustrating day, to be sure.

But, as time wore on, I found it more fun to remember and look at.  And it had some success on Pinterest, which didn’t hurt my opinion of the cake at all.

Here is a list of everything I worked on in September, in case you missed anything.

 

 

oatmeal-cream-pies-2014-C5

Oatmeal Cream Pies

There’s something about the back to school
season that makes me think of these simple
oatmeal cookies with marshmallow filling.

grandmas-chocolate-cake-5 Grandma’s Chocolate Cake

We celebrated Robb’s 40th birthday with
his favorite chocolate cake, the one his
Grandma used to make.

lazy-squares-2 No-Bake Lazy Squares

This is my sister’s creation this month, and
lazy is exactly right!  These are super duper
easy to make, and really delicious.

chocolate-coconut-cookies-3 Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies

Some days regular chocolate just isn’t
chocolatey enough.  The coconut adds a
wonderful chewy texture to these cookies.

peach-plum-crisp-4 Peach Plum Crisp

I was excited to use my favorite fruit, the
peach, and the huge harvest of plums I
collected this season to make this tasty
dessert.

5-great-snacks 5 Great Snack Products

I shared 5 of my all time favorite quick and
easy snack products.  These are products
you should try anytime you need something
delicious quickly!

banana-pudding-3 Banana Pudding

I had to revisit my son’s favorite dessert
ever this month.  This kid loves bananas in
any form he can get them!

brown-sugar-chocolate-chip-cookies-4 Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dark brown sugar not only gives these cookies
a fantastic rich, molasses flavor, it also gives
them a soft and chewy texture.

chocolate-cheesecake-6 Chocolate Cheesecake

I added chocolate to my Grandfather’s famous
New York style cheesecake to make this one
seriously rich and decadent treat!

cheddar-bacon-pecan-bites-2 Bacon Cheese Pecan Bites

This one courtesy of Em, whose motto is, when
in doubt, Add Cheese And Bacon!  These make
a great snack or even a breakfast!

pumpkin-bars-egg-free-5 Pumpkin Cookie Bars with Cinnamon Icing

I couldn’t let September slip by without at least
one pumpkin dessert recipe to drool over!  The
cinnamon frosting puts them over the top.

 

Other highlights from this month:

I found some amazing recipes from other talented blogger this month too.

Coming up in October:

  • I use copious amounts of pumpkin.  And probably copious amounts of chocolate, too.
  • I celebrate Halloween with my friends.  They are great at coming up with fun holiday foods!
  • I finally make the birthday cookies for Miss K, 4 months past her birthday.  Pretty sure this makes me the worst aunt ever.

Chime in!  How was September for you?  What plans do you have for October baking?  Leave your answers in the comments below.