Mango-Key Lime Bars

I’m not a huge mango fan unless it’s in a margarita or lassi, but these bars are beyond. I love an easy cookie bar that comes together quickly. I used the food processor to make both the crust and the filling. My processor lives on my counter top and I admit I use it at least once a week for something. I had a taste for something sweet but fresh and summer like. Served cold right out of the fridge on a hot day, these are divine. You could easily drizzle some melted white candy melts or white chocolate over the top of these instead of the confectioners sugar if you prefer.

Mango-Key Lime Bars

 

Crust:

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 C granulated sugar

1/4 C confectioners sugar

zest of one lemon

pinch of salt

1 C all purpose flour

 

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Line an 8 inch square pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan. In a food processor place the butter, sugars, zest, and salt and pulse to combine. Add in the flour and pulse just to combine. Remove from work bowl and combine any areas of flour with a spatula to make a cohesive dough. Place dough in pane and press with your fingers into an even layer; extending up the sides slightly; about 1/2 cm. Chill the crust for 30 mins.

Bake the crust 16-18 mins until the edges are starting to turn light brown.

 

Mango Filling

2 ripe mangoes peeled, diced and pureéd*

  • Pass the puree through a fine mesh sieve in order to yield 1/2 C + 2 Tbsp mango juice (it will be thick).

2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp.  key lime juice (I use Nellie and Joes bottled juice)

1/2 tsp. key lime zest or lemon (I have a lemon tree so I used lemon)

5 large egg yolks

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

pinch of salt

In a large bowl whisk together all the ingredients until smooth. Pour over the baked crust and bake until center is set about 25 minutes. Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Remove entire slab by lifting the parchment out of the pan, peel away the paper and cut into desired shape. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar before serving.  Serve chilled or slightly chill. Keep chilled and covered with plastic wrap any remaining bars until ready to serve.

 


Chai Spice Glazed Cookie Thins

I don’t know why a chai latte taste better on a cold rainy day or why we tend to think of spices more during Holiday time, but chai spice is something I tend to equate with colder weather. A lazy Sunday morning snug inside your favorite cozy robe with your cold hands wrapped around a hot mug of tea definitely beckons for one of these cookies. You’ll suddenly forget you have piles of laundry to fold or the dog needs to be fed. All of a sudden, it’s only about you and this moment of sweet bliss while you sip on your tea and nibble on a couple of these sweet, but not too sweet spicy cookies. The thing is, this cookie dough almost taste better after it has sat in the fridge for a few days while the spices mingle together. You can even let the dough rest in the fridge for a week as long as it’s well wrapped in plastic wrap to avoid taking on any other odors; making sure not to park it next to an onion for instance. I tested a couple batches with 1/8 inch and also 1/4 inch thickness and found that I like the thinner version better. You can certainly make them thicker if you like; just bake them a minute or two longer. Do not skip on the glaze-it totally makes this cookie!

 

Chai Spice Blend

3 Tbsp. cinnamon (I like Saigon cinnamon)

1 1/2 Tbsp. ground ginger

2 1/2  tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

1/4 tsp. finely ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. white pepper

Mix together all the ingredients and store in a glass jar (you’ll have some leftover)

 

Chai Glaze

2 Cup confectioners sugar

1/ 2 tsp. chai spice

3 Tbsp. water

 

Chai Spice Cookies

(yield: 2-3 dozen depending on size) 

1 Cup unsalted butter

6 Tbsp. confectioners sugar

1/3 Cup honey

3/4 tsp. vanilla bean paste

2 /12 Cups flour

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. chai spice blend (from recipe above)

 

1. In a stand mixer with paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the honey in a slow stream and mix until combined. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix. Combine the flour, salt and 3/4 tsp of prepared chai spice in a separate bowl with a fork. Reduce the mixer to low and add the flour in two additions and mix until combined.

2. Divide the dough into two portions, flatten into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for a least 8 hours or even up to one week. Unwrap one disc at a time and roll out onto a floured board into 1/8 inch thickness and cut into circles with a small cutter. Place onto a Silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet and chill for 30 minutes. Bake in a 350 preheated oven for 12-13 minutes or until light golden brown. Allot to  chill completely.

3. Dip the tops of cooled cookies into glaze, then turn cookie vertical and allow excess glaze to drip down off cookies; run finger around edge to clean off edges then rest on a wire rack to allow glaze to set until no longer wet.


Classic Chewy Sugar Cookies

The classic bakery style chewy sugar cookie can be hard to replicate. Quite often they come out too hard and crispy and not chewy. The folks at Cooks Illustrated once again have figured this out and have a stellar recipe for a soft chewy cookie with a crispy edge that is really tasty. At first glance the recipe may sound a little daunting and complicated, but it’s really quite simple and easy. Just follow the steps and it comes together really easy. You don’t even need a stand mixer. Just a nice big bowl, plus a couple extra-one for sugar rolling, and another for mixing your dry ingredients.

This cookie was part of a care package for a young man who used to live in our neighborhood who is in basic training in the Army who sent us a letter, (he admitted he was a little lonely) and so my husband wrote him a letter back and I whipped up some goodies which also included some fudgy brownies which I will post at a later date as I’m tweaking that recipe slightly. The brownies were amazing, but I felt they could have used just a couple more tablespoons of sugar.

There’s nothing like being surprised getting a package when you’re not expecting it (I remember that feeling when I was at camp once while everyone around me was getting care packages except me and it was not a good feeling-but I digress…). The key to shipping cookies is to pack them snugly.  To retain moisture its best to place them into cellophane bags in small quantities of 3-4 with a twisty tie so they don’t jostle around in the box. I put 4 sugar cookies each in cellophane bags.  I wrapped the brownies individually in plastic wrap to keep their moisture as well. I then packed the cookies and brownies in an airtight plastic container separately that went inside the cardboard box. Any free space in the box, I used paper and scrunched it up and rolled it into the space so the cookies could not budge. You don’t want to go to all that trouble baking knowing that someone could be tossing your precious box all around to have your cookies reduced to crumbs.

Chewy Sugar Cookies

recipe: Cooks Illustrated via Food.com

yield: 24-30 cookies

2  1/4 C all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1  1/2 C sugar, plus more for rolling

2 oz. cream cheese (kept cold), cut into 8 pieces

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter melted, still warm

1/3 C vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 Tbsp. milk

2 tsp. vanilla

 

• Preheat oven to 350° F. Have oven rack set to middle position. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. Note original recipe states the yield is 24 cookies but I got 30.

• Whisk first four ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

• In a large bowl place the 1 1/2 Cups sugar and the cold cream cheese and pour over the melted butter and whisk to combine; some small pieces of the cream cheese will remain, but will smooth out later.

• Whisk in oil to combine. Add in egg, milk and vanilla and continue to use the whisk until batter is smooth.

• Switch over to a rubber spatula and fold in the flour mixture until homogenous mixture is achieved.

• Place about 1/2 Cup sugar in a shallow pie plate for rolling cookie dough.

• Use a 2 Tbsp. size cookie scoop to portion out even size scoops, then roll between your palms to form balls and roll balls in sugar to completely coat. Place balls on prepared lined parchment pans; no more than 12 cookies per each sheet pan; 3 across in 4 rows, as they will spread. Press down on balls with bottom of a drinking glass or (I like to use a 1/3 C metal measuring cup) until 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle the top of each unbaked cookie with a pinch more little sugar. Bake one cookie sheet at a time. Bake in 350° F preheated oven for 11-13 minutes until edges are set. Don’t over-bake as you still want them to be chewy, and keep in mind they will firm up a bit as they cool.  I found that for my oven the right time was 12 minutes, but each oven is different.

• Place cookie sheet over a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove cookies to continue to cool onto the rack itself until cookies are completely cool.


Chocolate Cookies for Ice Cream Sandwiches

Chocolate Cookies Bake From Scratch 2

Are you ready for Summer and Ice Cream Sandwiches?

When I was just a kid (about 100 years ago) I used to ride my bike up to our favorite diner and we would buy an ice cream sandwich for (I swear 50 cents). A group of us would jump on our bikes and make the trek into town. By the time we got there on our mile journey we would be hot and sweaty, but it was so worth it. Of course you can buy a good ice cream sandwich anywhere now a days, but with making your own cookies, the combination is endless with a quick scoop of your favorite ice cream. You can even go that extra mile and make your own ice cream if you like. My new favorite magazine is Bake From Scratch from the people of Hoffman Media Publications and every one of their recipes are simple but scrumptious. This recipe is from their current Summer issue. Whip up a batch and channel your inner 10 year old!

Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies 2

chocolate cookies for ice cream sandwiches

 

Do you know how hard it is to get a good picture of ice cream  in a hot Arizona kitchen?!

Ice Cream Sandwiches Cookies For

 

Chocolate Cookies (for Ice Cream Sandwiches)

Recipe from Summer 2016 issue of “Bake From Scratch”

yield: 14-16 cookies

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 Cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 Cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

1  1/2 Cups all-purpose flour

1/3 Cup Dutch process cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. baking powder

 

Beat the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla bean paste, beating until combined. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and the next 3 ingredients. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating until combined. Shape the dough into a rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or more.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide dough into 2 pieces and roll out between sheets of parchment paper to 1/4 inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper. Cut with desired cutter (I used a 3 inch cutter). Reroll scraps of dough as necessary and chill the dough if it gets too soft to work with. I found that it was easier to remove the cut cookies after chilling the dough for about 10 minutes. Place the cut cookies on prepared sheets, spacing them about an inch apart (they don’t really spread much) and dock the cookies with the blunt end of a wooden skewer. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for about 7-8 minutes or until slightly puffed. Let cool completely on wire racks.

Store the cookies in an airtight container.

To make ice cream sandwiches take a scoop of your favorite ice cream and sandwich between two cookies and wrap sandwiches in wax paper and store in the freezer.


Happy Chinese New Year 2015: Chinese Almond Cookies

Happy Chinese New Year 2015. The year of the sheep or as some say; the goat. These cookies are simple and perfect any time of year with a little bit of tea, but very popular during Lunar New Year. May the year bring you prosperity, good health, and above all-happiness.

Chinese Almond Cookies

 almond cookies sliced

almond cookies unbaked

Chinese Almond Cookies for Chinese New Year

Chinese Almond Cookies

yield: about 4 1/2 dozen small cookies

1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp

1 Cup sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp. pure almond extract

3/4 Cup almond meal (almond flour)

1 3/4 Cup all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 egg (for egg wash)

2 tsp. milk (for egg wash)

blanched almonds for tops of cookies*

* (If you don’t have blanched almonds-you can take whole almonds with the skin on-and soak them in water for 1 hour. After one hour drain the almonds and gently push the skins off by pressing with your first two fingers. Blot almonds with paper towels to absorb any excess water).

 

1. Cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy; about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and almond extract. Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and combine on medium speed until almost combined. With clean hands mix together gently until rest of dough is combined. Divide dough into 2 equal portions and roll each into a 1.5 inch wide by 14 inch long log; wrap in parchment paper and chill for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 325° F. In a small bowl; make the egg wash by whisking the egg and milk until combined. Cut logs into scant 1/2 inch slices and press an almond onto each cookie. Place cookies 2 inches apart. Brush with egg wash. Bake for 17-19 minutes until cookies are light golden brown. Let cool on sheets over a wire rack until cooled. Serve with tea.