Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

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I’ve been slacking in the recipe department, so I thought I would share a recipe for my father-in-laws favorite cookies, chocolate thumbprints. I’ve attempted to make these for him every Father’s day for the past 3 years, and I could never quite get the flavor right. This recipe is a keeper though, as it is has the closest taste to the cookies he loves from the bakery. Sophie loved helping me roll the dough and dip some of the sides in sprinkles. This is a great project for little bakers to help with.

Cookie Dough:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 4 oz. (3/4 cup) whole almonds
  • 12 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cut in large chunks and slightly softened
  • 4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
  • 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) bleached all-purpose flour

Chocolate filling:

  • 1/4 cup coarse sugar, such as turbinado, OR sprinkles (we did a variety)
  • 2-1/2 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 5 tsp. unsalted butter (or you can substitute 3 tsp, karo light corn syrup… like we did when we ran out of butter.)

Preheat oven to 350. In an electric mixer, mix all the dough ingredients EXCEPT the flour, on medium speed. 1 cup at a time, add in the flour until a thick dough begins to form and there are no lumps of flour. Scoop up a generous teaspoonful (2 level teaspoons) of the dough and shape it into a 1-inch ball with your hands. Roll the ball in the sugar and set it on a tray lined with waxed paper. Repeat with the rest of the dough, setting the balls slightly apart. Press a thumb or forefinger, dipped in flour, into each ball to create a depression. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Gently redefine the depressions with your thumb or the tip of a wooden spoon’s handle, if necessary. Rotate the sheet and continue to bake until the tops are lightly colored and the bottoms are golden brown, another 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack and let cool completely.

When the cookies are cool, prepare the filling: Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set in a wide skillet of almost simmering water, or in the top of a double boiler. (Or microwave on medium power for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring after the first minute.) When the chocolate is almost completely melted, remove the bowl from the heat and stir until completely melted and smooth. Using a spoon, fill the depression of each cookie with the chocolate filling. If the filling hardens while using, reheat it in the pan of hot water. When each cookie is filled, let the chocolate set for at least 15 minutes, then you can store them in an air tight container.

ENJOY!

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

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I tried dieting and cutting out cookies and other treats… that just led me to crave and then binge on said treats. My new plan is to simplify and make healthy a few treats that I can enjoy in moderation. These oatmeal cookies hit the spot, are gluten free, and contain less sugar than your average cookie.

What I used:
1 stick of butter at room temp
1 egg
1 bag of Pamela’s oatmeal bar mix
1/2 c. dried cherries
1/4 c. Enjoy Life chocolate chips

Mix ingredients, bake at 350 for 10 minutes, AND THAT’S IT! Simple, quality ingredients.

I enjoyed 2 with a mug of my favorite tea this morning. Some people can completely restrict certain foods from their diets. I do fairly well avoiding gluten, but I love baking, and of course I love sweets. Finding a healthy balance for these foods in my diet is a better solution for me. I’ve found success replacing white refined sugar with organic coconut sugar. Some sweets, like an apple tart for example, are sweet enough on their own to not even need sugar. Anyway, I have found that you can alter recipes and your favorite foods so that they have a more appropriate place in your diet. That way you don’t feel deprived and end up bingeing on oreos instead.

If you’ve never tried Pamela’s gluten free products, I highly suggest you do! (This post isn’t sponsored, I’m just an enthusiast)

Homebound

This winter hasn’t been as cold or as treacherous as predicted (yet,) but we still haven’t left the house much in the past week. There have been regularly scheduled doctors appointments and grocery runs, but my babies are California girls at heart, and don’t like to be out in the cold long.

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Most days have been spent either baking, or watching movies (some times both,) and I have been surprisingly thankful. Usually this season really gets me down. I feel hopelessly homesick, trapped, and isolated. This year I am busy trying to keep an almost 1 year old away from the stairs, while wrestling a 2 year old to try and use the potty. I just haven’t had enough time to really dwell on the weather.

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Another factor, I think, is that I have more friends than I’ve ever had. Not that I am “Mrs. Popular” or anything, but since I have become more active and social with my local community of moms I find myself being invited to more play dates, mom nights, and runs to the gym. That is perhaps the single most important part of my mood being boosted, as it’s the one thing I have been missing for the past 5 years: a community of other moms who genuinely care about me.

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The next few months are pretty exciting for us! We have a couple birthdays including Cora’s famous 1st birthday…. and we are planning some weekends away with family to make sure we stay out of our winter-time-funk.

What have you been up to, lovely readers? What cheers you up when it’s cold and bleak?

Chocolate Sugar cookie Recipe

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After my last post, I got a lot of requests for the exact recipe I used for these cookies. I guess people weren’t fond of my response to “google it, and make these alterations….” so I decided to give the people EXACTLY what they want!

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour (I used a white rice/tapioca blend. My favorite blend though, is King Arthur’s Gluten Free Flour)
  • 3/4 cup  unsweetened natural cocoa powder (or dutch process, I use Hershey’s)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
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  1. (I followed these instructions from Sally’s Baking Addiction) In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the granulated sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract on high speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl. Whisk in the baking powder and salt until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment to about 1/4″ thickness. Stack the pieces (with parchment paper between) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Chilling is mandatory. (ESPECIALLY for this being a gluten free recipe!) If chilling for more than a couple hours, cover the top dough piece with a single piece of parchment paper. You can chill up to 2 days.
  4. Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. The amount of batches will depend on how large/small you cut your cookies. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a cookie cutter, cut in shapes. Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes– the cookies will still appear soft. Make sure you rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
  6. Make the icing and decorate the cooled cookies however you’d like. I did not color the icing, as you can see. Add sprinkles on top of the icing if desired. Once the icing has set, these cookies are perfect for gifts, sending, or munching on right away. I find they stay soft for about 5 days at room temperature.
  7. Make ahead tip: Unfrosted cookies freeze well up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Frosted cookies do not freeze well at all. You can chill the cookie dough for up to 2 days (step 3). You can also freeze the cookie dough before rolling for up to 3 months. Then allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Then allow to come to room temperature for about 1 hour. Then roll and continue with the recipe as directed.

Recovering From California

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For those who don’t know, we had an unfortunate repeat of our trip from last year, in that we all contracted the stomach flu while visiting family in CA. Yup, we all had it last year[me, when I was 7 months pregnant with Cora,] and so I thought, Surely we won’t get it 2 years in a row…. The Lord is kind and merciful…. I won’t pack medicine because what are the odds? The odds are pretty high, apparently.

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The Lord is still kind and merciful though, as no one ended us seriously suffering [the Christmas we found out my youngest brother had Type 1 Diabetes comes to mind…] and we made it home safe. The past few days have been spent in recovery: catching up on laundry, finishing Christmas shopping, adjusting back to the Eastern Time Zone, etc. In an attempt not to have this Christmas “ruined” by a series of unfortunate events, I am trying to really jumpstart our Christmas spirit with lights, cookie decorating, and religious traditions [like our advent wreath]

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We have plans to do more cookie decorating with friends later in the week, and I am looking forward to doing a little more shopping and seeing The Nutcracker Ballet with Sophie for the first time. Funny enough, it will be my mother-in-law’s first time seeing it, too!

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Poor Cora was hit the hardest with the illness while we were traveling, but it has been a consolation to all of us to see her slowly returning to her smiley self. The hardest part about being sick on vacation, was all the hype I prepared Sophie for. She kept asking when we were going to see Mickey Mouse and the princesses. Because every one was so sick, we never made it to Disneyland. I felt like I let her down. I know she will eventually forget, but nothing breaks a parent’s heart like letting down their kid .

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We’ve also had our first real snow, so it has been wonderful to cuddle up next to the fire as we spend our first winter in this new house! I just think there is some thing so festive about a fireplace!

I hope you all can find time this week to do one of your favorite Christmas activities! And I hope you all avoid the terrible flu we got.

Getting Your Kids to Eat Spinach

So I’m blaming this recipe hunt on my kids, when in reality I should have titled this post “Getting YOURSELF to Eat Spinach.” If you’re like me, you buy baby spinach in bulk with good intentions of starting a healthy lifestyle, and then when morning comes and you’re faced with making a healthy smoothie or eating cookies with your cup of coffee you always,  ALWAYS pick cookies.

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This week I went to the store and got, you guessed it… SPINACH. After a trip to the doctor [and their scale] I decided I really do need to commit to eating more vegetables. So, how to make them appealing? Chocolate, of course! I have had success tricking both myself and Sophie with spinach hidden in chocolate this week and now I am passing the success on to you, my readers.

Recipe #1 : Predominantly Paleo’s Chocolate Spinach Cake. 
I wanted to barf the first time I read the title of that recipe. It was close to my reaction for “Black Bean Brownies” WHY?! But, I had all the ingredients on hand, so I decided to give it a shot. Wow, I totally underestimated the power of cocoa. This cake was moist, chocolaty, and contained 2 full cups of spinach. I served it up with strawberries and a tablespoon of whipped cream. Sophie, my husband and I all loved it. I wouldn’t recommend making it for Thanksgiving or any other event where you really want to impress people with dessert, but if you have a sweet tooth like me, and simply MUST eat dessert every night, then this is a recipe for you! It cures your sweet tooth while still giving you an antioxidant punch.

Recipe #2: Chocolate Spinach Protein Shake
We invested in a Nutribullet a few years back and I love it. I filled the smaller sized cup with a handful of spinach, ice, and chocolate walnut milk. You could use chocolate almond milk as well, that is just what I had on hand. Blend it up, pour it in a cute cup with characters on it, and your kid will love it.

What does everyone love besides chocolate? Cheese! Martha Steward has a really delicious, home made Mac N Cheese recipe, but you can add spinach to any boxed version as well. Just make sure you chop it up finely, so you aren’t getting an entire soggy leaf on your fork when you dig in.

Chewy Almond Cookies

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Don’t be fooled by this Paleo, gluten free cookie… it tastes amazing and you’d never know that is is [somewhat] good for you! I adapted this recipe from Texan Erin. She is an awesome baking blogger, and I look forward to trying out more of her recipes! If you love to bake or make sweets, check out her other recipes!

In the mean time, try out this one… I tweaked Erin’s recipe to my taste, and that Is what I am sharing with you today!

What you need:

  • 1 cup  blanched almond flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1/4 cup  coconut flour (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or unsalted butter, room temperature (if your coconut oil is a little melty, put it in the fridge for about 10 minutes until it’s firmer, like the softened butter. If you use slightly melted coconut oil, the dough will be greasy and the chocolate chips will be hard to incorporate. I know, because I made this mistake the first time!)
  • 3/4 cup  coconut sugar
  • 6 tablespoons  natural almond butter (natural peanut butter works too! I’ve made this recipe twice… one with almond butter and the other with PB and they both came out delicious!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life brand)
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer beat together the fat and sugar at medium speed until well combined.
  3. Beat in the almond butter and vanilla extract on medium speed and mix until combined. Beat in the egg on low and mix until well incorporated. Stir in the flour mixture until well combined. I start with half of the flour, then incorperate the other half. If you used brown sugar, skip to the next step.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (175 °C) and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Place the bowl with the dough  in the refrigerator for about 1 hour or until the dough is firm.
  5. Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place the remaining 1/4 cup (43 grams) of chocolate chips on the top and on the sides of the dough balls.Place 3″ apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 11-14 minutes or until the surface of the center of the cookies no longer appears wet. They’ll be very soft but will continue to cook as they sit on the cookie sheet.
  7. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.But trust me, you’ll probably eat them all the first day… Enjoy!

{Photo credit: Texan Erin}