White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

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This year has been a big year for my family. Lots and lots to celebrate! My dad turned 60 and my parents will celebrate their 40th Anniversary in just a few weeks! We needed it…because 2015 was a pretty heavy year.

There has also been lots of really good things for Ean, Nora and myself. I promise an update in the next couple of weeks…giving said big news the poper post it deserves.

Anyways…back to my parents and cookies. My parents took a trip in February to Hawaii to start this crazy good year off right. My mom asked what I would like for them to bring back before they left on the trip. I told her ‘Macadamia Nuts.’ And so they brought me several bags of these glorious little nuts…and I finally put the first bag to good use.

I can honestly say that white chocolate macadamia nut cookies have always been some of my favorites. Many times the ones I have had were lacking in nuts because they are so expensive…but this recipe is full of them, balancing the sweet and salty so nicely.

Jen’s White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs lightly beaten

1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 – 12 oz bag white chocolate chips

6 oz chopped macadamia nuts

In a medium bowl, mix flour, soda and salt together and set aside. Combine shortening, sugars and vanilla; beat until creamy. Add beaten eggs and flour mixture, alternating between the two. Mix well. Stir in white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. If you have time, chill the dough for an hour in the refrigerator, this will help the cookies from becoming too flat. You can skip this step and the cookies will still be wonderful! Roll into balls (I like to use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop) and bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Do not overbake. Once they have set on the cookie shoot for 5-8 minutes, place on a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

 

 

I Like You Sprinkles

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So…I’m loving these ‘I like you’ Cupcake Sprinkles! I got them as a gift for Christmas from one of my favorite people. Fish Eddy & Amy Sedaris teamed up to make these amazingly cute sprinkles. You can order them online at Fish Eddy’s for yourself, or they make a perfect gift for one of your favorites.

A Few of My Favorite Foodie Gifts

If you have been following this blog for a while, chances are you know I get excited about giving gifts. It is up there on my list of favorite things (along with baking and throwing parties). These are a few of my favorite foodie gifts for this Christmas.

Homemade Vanilla Extract – I am a huge fan of homemade gifts…especially vanilla. Once you use it, I promise you will be hooked.

Gingerbread Chocolate from Askinosie Chocolate  – Love this gift because not only is the packaging creative, it supports a local business and gives back internationally!

Seven Daughter’s Moscato – Seriously the cutest bottle of wine I have ever purchased. Love the branding and packaging for this Moscato! I picked this bottle up at Hyvee.

I’m pretty sure the recipients of these gifts are going to be pretty excited too!

 

Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumb Print Cookies

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I’ve spent a great deal of time in the kitchen over the past week…and it has been wonderful. Every year, I have my Christmas favorites, but I love to add new recipes to the mix as well. This year I wanted to add a salted caramel recipe. I found a great recipe from Cooking Classy and made some adaptions to make these Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumbprint Cookies. Perhaps not the shortest name for a cookie…but I promise they are super delicious!

Salted Caramel Pretzel Thumbprint Cookies

Makes: 2 dozen

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 large egg, yolk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp buttermilk

1 1/4 cups finely chopped pretzels

15 caramels

2 1/2 Tbsp heavy cream

Coarse sea salt

3 oz chopped milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate

1 teaspoon oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt, set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium-high spread until slightly pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in egg yolk (set egg white aside in a bowl in refrigerator) and vanilla extract. Blend in buttermilk. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Shape dough into a ball and drop onto a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten dough into a 6-inch disk then wrap with plastic wrap and chill 45 minutes, until slightly firm.

Place finely chopped pretzels in a bowl. Shape dough into 1-inch balls  then working with one at a time, firmly roll dough into chopped pretzels. Transfer to parchment paper lined baking sheets and make a deep indentation with thumb in the center of each dough ball. Bake in preheated oven until set, about 10 – 12 minutes. Remove from oven then using the bottom of a rounded teaspoon, gently press down on existing indentation (to create more space for caramel). Cool on baking sheet several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Place caramels and cream in a microwave safe bowl. Heat mixture in microwave on HIGH power in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Spoon caramel into indentation in cookies and sprinkle tops with a small pinch of sea salt.

Place chocolate and oil into a separate microwave safe mixing bowl. Heat mixture on 50% power in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval until melted and smooth. Pour into a piping bag or ziplog bag and cut tip of corner. Drizzle over cookies. Allow to set then store in an airtight container.

 

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next week! So much baking to be done, and so many new recipes to try for the holidays! There are several classics that are so great this time of year too…like peanut butter cookies. They make a great addition to any cookie tray or as a cutely packaged and delicious gift!

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup  granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Using a mixer, cream together butter and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth. Add eggs and mix until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and mix on high until combined. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be thick, yet very sticky. Cover dough tightly and chill for at least 2hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Roll balls of dough (about 1.5 tablespoons of dough per cookie) and roll into granulated sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Press fork into the tops to create the criss-cross pattern. Bake for 10 minutes or until very lightly browned on the sides. Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

Classic Cheesecake

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It is National Dessert Day! I hope you are celebrating with some amazing dessert!

I thought I would celebrate with a blog post on a timeless recipe, Cheesecake. Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts and I have been making variations of this recipe since I was in high school, however this is the first time I went with the classic base. I will say I have no regrets about that decision what-so-ever.

Classic Cheesecake

3 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons butter, melted

3 (8oz) packages of cream cheese, softened.

2 eggs lightly beaten

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1-2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 F. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a small bowl. Press into a springform pan and set aside. Beat cream cheese on medium speed until whipped, slowly stir in sweetened condensed milk, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Pour over prepared crust. Cover pan with foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes until set. Cool at room temperature then refrigerate overnight.

A few tips: You can choose to leave the foil step out, but it helps the cheesecake from getting too brown.

I prefer to cool my cheesecake in the oven for a bit with the door open, this allows the cheesecake to come up to room temperature and helps prevents cracking.

I also think cheesecake is best the second day, after the flavors have had time to sit and chill…but let’s be honest, I’ll be happy to eat it any time.

Enjoy!