Recipe: Peanut Butter Candy Cookies
The peeps are out; bright yellow, green and shocking hot pink round out the line up. I’m referring to the fluffy marshmallow concoction covered in colored sugar that only makes their appearance during the Easter holiday. This is the time of year that sweet pastel candies of every shape and flavor hit the stores, some traditional to the Easter holiday and others created in a new shape or flavor to add to the traditional Easter morning basket.
The smell of ginger cookies baking is in my opinion one of the most beautiful aromas. The combination of ginger, cloves, and cinnamon are intoxicating and permeates the entire house. One of my first big “corporate” positions as an executive pastry chef was in a restaurant where I had the distinct pleasure of helping to build from the ground up. Endless hours were spent purchasing equipment, assisting in the design of the kitchen, and creating recipes. Our team was incredible and the desserts that we produced were some of the best in the area. Although I loved pretty much all of the products, my favorite is, and will always be, our ginger cookies. Soft and chewy with beautiful hints of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Our ginger cookies are a delightful treat!
A pastry chef that doesn’t really eat sweets, that’s me! Don’t worry, I test everything I create but I simply do not crave sweets. It may stem from the years I spent in commercial kitchens and fine dining restaurants. Hundreds of plated desserts and homemade sweets came out those kitchens over the years, which may explain my lack of desire for the sweet treats. I will let you in on a little secret; I do still have one craving. It has never receded or lessened over the years. Oreos or more specifically, Trader Joe’s Chocolate Jo Jo’s. Just the thought of them makes my stomach growl.
Fall is here! We are located in the beautiful state of Michigan and the air is starting to take on that beautiful fall feeling. The nights have a chill that requires an extra layer and the days are beginning to dip into the cooler temperatures. The maples are beginning to show their glorious fall colors and my thoughts turn to baking. Warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom cross my mind. Pumpkin spice lattes, donuts and apple cider are prominent in every retail setting. I prefer maple; maple brings a warmth and depth to bake goods and pastries without overwhelming the other flavors.
Cake, the traditional offering at nearly every birthday, graduation and anniversary celebration. While I have never been known to turn down a piece of cake, I think that you may agree that after a while cake just becomes, well..... boring! Chocolate chip cookies are a classic treat that just about everyone has had at one time or another. Why not bring two classics together into one delicious dessert?! A celebration dessert, worthy of anyone's big day. These cookie cakes can be customized to just about any size you need, one of two large cookie cakes for an intimate family gathering or many tiny individual cookie cakes for a large celebration.
What is the perfect chocolate chip cookie? Is it soft and "cakey", hard and crispy, or crispy edges with a soft chewy center? Chocolate chip toffee cookies fall into the last category. Crisp and sweet around the edges but soft and chewy in the middle, this might just be the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Let it snow! Or maybe we shouldn’t say that too loudly here in the very snowy state of Michigan! Our headquarters are close to the Lake and the lake effect snow is always in full swing here. Baking a batch of our almond snowball cookies is the perfect way to bring the snow indoors.
Valentine's day is less than 2 weeks away! Do you have something in mind for that special someone? Or are you the type that waits until the last minute, hoping for that one elusive dinner reservation? Instead of spending a fortune on roses or jewelry, why not make them a special treat? Black and white shortbread hearts are so simple to make and can be arranged in a special box, stuffed with pink tissue paper and tied up with a bright red bow. What valentine could resist such a sweet gesture!?
Who doesn't love oatmeal creme pies? With their two soft oatmeal like cookies sandwiched between a layer of vanilla creme, Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies were a staple in my lunchbox growing up. One of my favorite ways to eat them was to pull off the top cookie layer and fold over the second cookie onto the layer of creme. This created the perfect double stuffed creme pie! Now that I’m older (and supposedly wiser), I have found myself reading more and more labels on food products. All of the processed foods that we grew up with as children are packed with so many preservatives and food additives. Including those delicious Little Debbie's that I enjoyed so much as a child. What a downer!
The children's book, Madeline, is a sweet story about a young girl and her escapades in Paris. It's a classic children's story that I have read to my daughter many, many times! As I baked the cookies, I imagined the spunky Madeline sitting down with her school mates, a spot of tea and a madeleine cookie in hand.
Kahlua; a simple concoction of vodka, water, coffee and sugar cane. If you made some homemade Kahlua using our delicious recipe, you know that the addition of a Beanilla vanilla bean made this liquor even more delicious!!! Kahlua is definitely a popular liquor to pour over ice and leisurely sip on after dinner. Did you know that you can utilize this liquor in a variety of desserts and baked goods?! One of my very favorite pairings is with chocolate. Simply add a small amount to chocolate ice cream bases, drizzle into your favorite mousse recipe or make a batch of chocolate Kahlua cookies!
If you live in Michigan, Ohio or any of the surrounding Midwest states, you are most likely familiar with Buckeyes. For those of you who live in the Southern states, or on either of the coasts, and have never had a Buckeye, you must make these delicious candies a part of your holiday traditions!
The buckeye is the state tree of Ohio. It produces small nuts that have a dark outer shell, but the lighter colored interior of the nut is visible from the top. The candy resembling this beloved nut is made with a creamy peanut butter center and dipped in milk chocolate. The creamy center is visible from the top of the candy. The candy is reminiscent of a peanut butter cup, and is primarily made on and around the holiday season or during the Ohio State football season. Our buckeyes are traditional, but you can mix it up and dip the entire creamy center into the chocolate. Drizzle a bit of melted chocolate on top for a finished look.
The tradition of cutting down an evergreen, placing it in a stand, lighting it up and garnishing it with ornaments began in the early 1600s. The evergreen symbolized life when every other tree had shed its leaves -- the evergreen remained green and lush. The very first holiday lights were candles, and they often symbolized loved ones, friends and family. Many of these first trees were decorated with fresh garlands of berries and baked cookies. Electricity introduced the first electrified strings of lights, and homemade ornaments of fruits and cookies were replaced with glass balls and molded plastic figurines. Many of these ornaments have been lovingly collected over the years, with each having a special meaning of a specific place or time in our lives.
Grocery shopping when you're a kid can be downright monotonous. Walking behind one of your parents while they decide which macaroni and cheese was a better buy was never my idea of fun; except when we were bribed to be on our best behavior. This meant that my brother's and I would break off from our macaroni and cheese indecisive parents and beeline for the Brach's candy bins. Brightly colored hard candies sat next to soft and chewy fruit slices. Ultimately I would choose the wrapped chocolate creams. Raspberry, vanilla, maple and orange were just a few of the flavors they had to offer. More often than not my perfectly measured bag of treats would consist of a few raspberry, perhaps a vanilla, but mostly orange creams. I loved how the orange flavoring played beautifully with the slight bitterness of the dark chocolate. I haven't been to the candy bins in years but the allure of dark chocolate and orange cream still calls my name from time to time.
(For a Delicious 1st Birthday)
As parents we spend the first year of our children's lives celebrating all the momentous milestones: The first smile, rolling over, crawling, the first tooth, the first word and finally the first attempt at walking. Many sleepless nights are spent in those first few weeks as well as numerous trips to the drugstore for infant Tylenol for a cranky teething baby and wandering through the aisles of what seems like endless cabinet safety latches and toilet safety clips. Through all the sleepless nights, mounds of diaper changes and endless feedings we endure, sweet innocence prevails. Sweet moments of first words, softly read lullabies and clean, baby soft skin linger with us as parents as they grow and become more independent and less dependent on us. Continue reading
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