Category Archives: Cookies

Happy National Brownie Day!

Here’s how to make your Monday better–celebrate National Brownie Day! Here are three suggestions from our archives.

First, everyone deserves a good brownie – even those who are gluten-intolerant orDSC01583 gluten-free by choice.  Our vote goes to1-2-3 Gluten-Free Brownies.  Kimberlee Ullner developed this and other delicious mixes after she and her family members were diagnosed with celiac disease.  The mix is affordable compared to many other gluten-free brands and the brownies are quick, easy, and delicious.

Ghirardelli broGhirardelli Triple Fudge Brownie Mix is an always reliable pantry staple.  If this isn’t my favorite brownie, it is certainly in the Top 5.  Top your brownies with some chocolate orange buttercream frosting and perfection ensues.

Finally, if you aren’t sharing brownies with the kids, try these adult treats we baked up IMG_1173with another great Ghirardelli brownie mix, Kahlúa, and espresso powder.  Even though the alcohol evaporates during baking, sugar and espresso are just not a good combo for the kiddos.  Just saying.

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Double Mocha Brownies

As I may have confessed before, I do not make brownies from scratch because Ghirardelli’s mixes are just so good.  I can have brownie mix from box to oven in less than five minutes with stellar results, but I never stop looking for interesting variations on plain brownies.  Enter Kahlúa with a sponsored post on for Kahlúa brownies, which immediately went on my must-have list.  Just because I could, I amped up the mocha flavor ever so slightly by adding a little espresso powder.  If you are a mocha fan, you will totally love these fast and fantastic brownies.

Double Mocha Brownies

  • 1 – Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix (You could also use Ghirardelli’s Triple Fudge Brownie Mix.  I usually buy whichever flavor Costco has on hand.)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Kahlúa
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350° and lightly coat a 9″ x 9″ pan with non-stick spray.  Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl and spread evenly in the prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes.  (Do not over bake!)  As soon as brownies are out of the oven, cover lightly with foil to keep the edges from hardening.  Cool completely before cutting in 16 brownies.  Store in an airtight container.

Note:  This recipe calls for different measures of oil and water than the back-of-the-box instructions.  It works very well as written above!



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Immaculate Baking Co. Supremes Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ice cream sandwiches have been near the top of my “crave” list recently.  Immaculate Baking Co. Supremes Chocolate Chunk Cookies were on sale, so I knew it was time to indulge.  Immaculate Baking Co. has become one of our staples for convenience baking items.  Their Blueberry Scones are a regular breakfast treat, and we are seriously addicted to Gingerbread Spice Cookies.   The Supremes Chocolate Chunk Cookies are quick to bake and impossible to resist, with chunks of milk and semi-sweet chocolate in an all-natural, preservative-free, sugar and butter-rich dough.  With the Cream Cheese Ice Cream recipe we used in our Peach Pecan Amaretto Cheesecake Shooters, super-rich ice cream sandwiches are ridiculously easy, but that could be our secret.

Make the ice cream first, and freeze it in a shallow dish until very firm.  My dish was 10″ square, which made 9 sandwiches.  While the ice cream is in the freezer, bake 2 packages of Supremes Chocolate Chunk Cookies and cool them completely on a wire rack.  (You will have leftover cookies, which is never a problem.)  When you are ready to assemble the ice cream sandwiches, you will need to work quickly using a biscuit cutter or glass just about the same size as the cookies, and small plastic bags or plastic wrap.

IMG_0636Place 9 cookies upside down on a flat surface.  Cut an ice cream circle using the biscuit cutter or glass.  Carefully remove the ice cream and place one circle on the first upside down cookie.  Immediately top with a second cookie and very gently press together.  Wrap the ice cream sandwich and pop it in the freezer.  Repeat until all sandwiches have been assembled.  You will need a spatula or spoon to rework the ice cream in order to cut the circles.  I waited a couple of hours until the ice cream was firmly frozen again, then transferred all the sandwiches to a freezer bag for storage.

Friends, ice cream sandwiches will never show up in a list of healthy foods,  but these are healthIER  because there are no preservatives or “unnatural” ingredients in the cookies or ice cream.   The hands-on preparation time was probably less than an hour, thanks to a head start on the cookies provided by Immaculate Baking Co.  Could you make the process even easier with purchased ice cream?  You bet, but I promise you’ll be missing out if you don’t try the cream cheese ice cream.  These ice cream sandwiches were the best ever.

Check out Immaculate Baking Co.’s full line of all-natural, organic, and gluten-free products, as well as their commitment to children’s causes and folk artists.  You will become fans!

Where to buy Immaculate Baking Co. Supremes Chocolate Chunk Cookies

(Note:  “Find a store” links to a list of retailers on the Company’s website, but stores may not carry all of the Company’s products.  Please check with your local store to be sure they have this specific product in stock.  If not, ask them to carry it!)


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1-2-3 Gluten Free Brownies

Gluten-free food has got to be one of the most significant menu trends in many years.  Many people are making voluntary decisions to go gluten-free, but those who have  been diagnosed with celiac disease have no choice but to eliminate gluten from their diets.  Such has been the case for my sweet mom, who recently learned she  has celiac.  As she has been working on a major diet makeover, I’ve been trying to help out by researching gluten-free foods and doing some cooking for her.

I purchased a box of 1-2-3 Gluten Free Brownies before I knew the story behind the product, but I started doing my research as soon as I got home with the brownie mix.  Company founder Kimberlee Ullner learned she had celiac when she was an adult, and she resigned herself to eliminate foods she loved to eat, and eat only the gluten-free foods available on the market.  Her resignation turned to resolve when her two nieces and a nephew were diagnosed with celiac.  She wanted them to be able to eat the same types of foods their friends enjoyed, and she started developing her own recipes for gluten-free foods.  Her nieces and nephew were not the only ones to give her recipes rave reviews; everyone thought they were delicious, and family members encouraged her to develop products for the market.  Kimberlee’s story was very compelling and her products appealing.

Mom and I had researched gluten-free baking from scratch, and we quickly determined that was going to be a no-go in most cases.  In Mom’s home town, all the specialty flours and gluten-free products aren’t readily available.  In anyone’s home town, these ingredients can be expensive to buy and a pain to store.  Although the products are more accessible in the Dallas area where we live, the “from-scratch” recipes we found were complicated.  Mom doesn’t have the energy, and I don’t have the time for complex recipes.

When Mom was diagnosed, one of the first gluten-free products I bought was a brownie mix that yielded an 8″x*8″ pan and cost $19.99.  Not very practical for many people!  I was happy to find the 1-2-3 Gluten Free Brownie Mix for less than one-half of that cost, and was thrilled with the end result.  The mix makes a 9″x13″ pan of thick, silky, and completely delicious brownies.  They aren’t just good gluten-free brownies; they are really good brownies, period.   The company’s tag-line is “Easy to Make, Can’t Beat the Taste!”, and we heartily agree.

1-2-3 Gluten Free Brownies

1-2-3 Gluten Free Brownies achieved a trifecta in gluten-free baking:  affordable, easy, and delicious.  Mom and I are anxious to try some of the company’s other baking mixes.  “Aaron’s Favorite Rolls” just might be next!  Check out Kimberlee’s gluten-free mixes on her website.   Mom and I highly recommend the brownies!

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The Crispery Crispycakes

Do you think marshmallow crispy rice treats are just for kids?  Me neither.  I still love that combination of crispy, creamy, sugary awesomeness.  So does Vicki Mate.  She is creator and owner of  The Crispery, purveyor of handmade, gourmet crispy rice treats.  Vicki grew up loving marshmallows so much that creating imaginative marshmallow crispy rice treats became her life’s work.  Her creations are not those of your childhood; think marshmallow crispy rice treats at the Ritz-Carlton.  Just as you traded up from the circle-shaped canned spaghetti of your youth to handcrafted pasta with bolognese, you can upgrade to Vicki’s rich, sophisticated crispy rice treats.

I have a serious weakness for white chocolate, so the The Crispery’s White Chocolate Crunch Crispycake was my first choice.  Marshmallow cream lends a fluffy, airy texture to any crispy rice treat, but white chocolate adds more creaminess and depth of flavor than the back-of-the-cereal-box recipe could imagine in its wildest dreams.  I probably could have eaten the entire Crispycake in one sitting, except for the nagging thought that it might contain my calorie allotment for the entire week!


So what could be better than these White Chocolate Crunch Crispycakes?  Having more flavors to try!  We haven’t tasted them yet, but Vicki has many varieties available: peanut butter fluff, cookies & cream, coconut, creamy caramel and marshmallow fluff, banana chip, chocolate caramel and more.  Specially decorated Crispycakes would be perfect for weddings, showers, graduations, or sporting events.  They are available at a crazy number of retailers, and also on The Crispery’s website.

What else is there to say about Crispycakes?  Find them, eat them, love them!

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Salem Baking Company Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Who doesn’t love shortbread cookies?  I guess people who don’t like butter might not be shortbread fans, but how many people can that be? These dense, buttery cookies have got to be in my Top 10 list.  They originated in Scotland around the 16th century, and were traditionally made with only three ingredients:  butter, sugar, and flour.  Simply fantastic!

Salem Baking Company specializes in vintage cookies.  The Winston-Salem, North Carolina company opened in 1930 as Dewey’s Bakery, offering a centuries-old Moravian cookie .  They added other products with a “story”, a long history of popularity that spans generations and cultures.  Shortbreads certainly fit that category.   Making traditional cookies is only part of Salem Baking Company’s equation; their bakers also take care to make their products using traditional methods and natural ingredients.

DSC01362I found Salem Baking Company Lemon Shortbread Cookies at Central Market.  The packaging caught my eye, and when I realized this very cool vintage plaid cylinder contained shortbread cookies, the sale was made!  At home, my mouth was watering before I could get the package open, and I was very impressed with the taste.  The shortbread is very rich and buttery, and has just the right amount of sugar.  Lemon oil and lemon peel provide a bright citrus pop that is just awesome!  In the past year, I’ve been using pure essential oils in some of my cooking and baking, and I really appreciate the depth of flavor only a few drops provide.  The lemon peel adds a delicate crunch to the shortbread and layers the lemon flavor.

These shortbread cookies would be great with coffee or tea, and I think they would make a tasty partner to raspberry sorbet.  My favorite way to enjoy them so far has been straight from the package!  Since Allen doesn’t care for lemony desserts, I will be sharing with a friend, because these rich cookies are just way too tempting!

Check out Salem Baking Company’s website and their selection of vintage cookies, flatbreads, cheese biscuits, cheese straws, and their signature Moravian Cookies.  I love their vintage gift tins, too!

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Tiff’s Treats

If you don’t like warm cookies, you might want to skip this post.  Everyone is still in, right?  How about warm cookies delivered to your door?  If you live in Houston, Dallas, or Austin, you can experience this treat, or surprise a friend or family member who lives in the area.   Although most of the foods we share are pretty widely available, either at brick and mortar retailers or online, there are some foods that may be limited to certain areas.  Tiff’s Treats is one of those products, but it is too good not to share with local residents and with those who want unique food gifts for folks in these areas.

DSC01289We were introduced to Tiff’s Treats when they arrived during the holidays.  A neatly uniformed young lady was on our doorstep with two insulated bags.  From the first she pulled a warm box and from the second, a cold bag.  We opened the box to find warm chocolate chip and snicker doodle cookies, while the bag contained a pint of Blue Bell Cookies ‘n Cream Ice Cream.  Talk about a wow factor!  We were impressed before we took the first bite, and that first bite (as well as those that followed) were terrific.  The chocolate chip cookie had a generous number of chips in a soft and chewy cookie.  The snicker doodle was also delicious with a satisfying cinnamon sugar crunch on top.  The accompanying ice cream was super, as always.  The little creamery in Brenham, Texas turns out some of the best premium ice cream imaginable.  This is a long-time Texas tradition,  and now Blue Bell is available in 20 states, mainly in the south.

Tiff’s Treats started in Austin in 1999 when University of Texas students Tiffany and Leon recognized a need – the need for college students to have warm cookies.  The business launched with $20, Leon’s apartment oven, and a cell phone, operating only at night.  Their genius idea and quality product led to expansion, and now Tiff and Leon have 11 stores delivering warm cookies to college campuses, businesses and homes.  Cookies aren’t the only thing coming out of the oven — the Tiff’s Treats website has yummy-looking brownies, too.  A variety of cookie flavors and accompaniments makes personalizing a gift easy.  How about warm milk and cookies for a late night study session?  Brownies and Starbucks Frappuccino for an afternoon break from work?  How about treating yourself?  Very reasonable prices make Tiff’s Treats an affordable luxury!

Cookies & Ice cream

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Lemon Sugar Cookies

I knew I would be making sugar cookies around Christmas time, and I also knew I was going to find a new recipe this year.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have a good recipe; it was just too much of a good thing.  The full recipe yields more than 12 dozen cookies.  Talk about a baking marathon!  Obviously, I could half, or even quarter, the recipe, but it was also time for a change of texture.  Instead of my usual crisp sugar cookies, I was craving some chewy ones. is my go-to source for recipe browsing, and I quickly found a recipe for lemon sugar cookies.  This pantry-friendly recipe does not require lemon juice or zest, so it had potential as a recipe box staple that didn’t require a grocery store run for fresh lemons.

Sonoma Lemon ExtractSeveral weeks ago, I shared how much we loved Sonoma Syrup Co. Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush”.  Its mellow intensity gave a simple custard incredible vanilla flavor.   On the heels of that discovery, I had picked up a bottle of Sonoma Syrup Co. Lemon Extract, and now there was an opportunity to try it.  This small-batch extract is made from California lemons using a cold-process method that produces more complex flavor.  Its aroma was less harsh than that of another brand of lemon extract I had in the pantry, and it definitely had a more complex bouquet than the national brand.  I was hopeful for the same successful outcome as Sonoma Syrup Co. vanilla extract had produced.  Reviewers of the lemon sugar cookie recipe frequently suggested increasing the amount of lemon extract, and the recipe below reflects that change.

Lemon Sugar Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter (use the real stuff!)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons Sonoma Syrup Co. Lemon Extract
  • 2 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup white sugar

In a medium bowl, cream together butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg, corn syrup, and lemon extract.   Stir in flour, baking soda, and baking powder.  Cover dough, and chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 325°.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll chilled dough into walnut-sized balls.  Roll balls in remaining  sugar, and place on the prepared cookie sheet  Bake 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until very slightly golden brown.  Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to complete the cooling process.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.


The corn syrup gave the cookies a satisfying, chewy texture.  The lemon extract performed as expected, yielding cookies with an intense, yet mellow lemon  flavor.  It was late afternoon when the last cookie sheet came out of the oven, so enjoying a cup of tea and a warm cookie seemed to be in order.  Now, if the dish fairy had just washed the cookie sheets while I was relaxing, it would have been perfect!

Using great ingredients in your cooking and baking makes for great taste.  Karen Campion, Sonoma Syrup Co.’s founder,  has created a stellar line of products that capture the flavors of the Sonoma area.  Make Sonoma Syrup Co. your resource for artisanal extracts, simple syrups and bar mixers, breakfast syrups, and cheese accompaniments.

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Orange Frosted Gingerbread Spice Cookies

We’ve been enjoying Immaculate Baking Co. Gingerbread Spice Cookies a lot recently.  Really — a lot.  These ready-to-bake cookies are almost too convenient.  We pop them in the oven right after dinner and just about the time the kitchen is cleaned up, we have warm cookies for dessert.  The all-natural cookie dough keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month, and can be frozen for as long as four months, so it is easy to keep on hand for impromptu deliciousness!

Although these cookies are wonderful in their own right and really don’t need any embellishment, I couldn’t help tinkering with them.  I checked out the company’s website for recipe ideas, and loved the Ginger Spice Ice Cream Sandwiches found there.  How good would those be with the Cream Cheese Ice Cream I shared in a recipe for Peach Pecan Amaretto Cheesecake Shooters?  However, since I needed cookies for Christmas gifts and a dessert buffet, I deferred the ice cream sandwich idea to another day.  Buttercream frosting seemed like a good option, and orange flavored buttercream sounded very appealing.  This super-easy recipe added a perfect cool creamy balance to the warm tones of the gingerbread spices.

Orange Frosted Gingerbread Spice Cookies

  • 1 package Immaculate Baking Co. Gingerbread Spice Cookies
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cream*
  • 6 drops of orange oil* (or to taste)

Bake cookies according to package directions and allow to cool completely.  Combine softened butter, sugar, and orange oil, and blend well.  Frost cookies and allow frosting to dry before storing at room temperature in an airtight container.

*I enjoy using essential oils in cooking and baking, but if you don’t have orange oil on hand, substitute 1 tablespoon of orange juice for the cream, and 2 teaspoons grated orange peel for the orange oil.

Orange Frosted Gingerbread Cookies

After taste-testing one of the frosted cookies, I realized it was a good thing I had plans to share them.  I think I could have eaten a dozen!

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Wackym’s Kitchen Snicker Doodles

It’s almost time for Santa to start making his rounds.  How he manages to deliver all those toys in just one evening has always been a mystery.  An even bigger question might be what he thinks about all those sweet treats left by hopeful boys and girls.  Somewhere around 4:00 AM, does he loathe the sight of yet another chocolate chip cookie?  It seems only hospitable to leave Santa a snack  as unique as his mission, and Wackym’s Kitchen has the perfect solution.

We’ve been happily eating our way through Paul Wackym’s entire line of delicious gourmet cookies.  We started with Margarita Cookies, then went crazy over his Salted Caramel Cookies.  I picked up a package of Snicker Doodles recently, because who doesn’t love this classic cinnamon sugar cookie for the Christmas season?  The first bite was sweet crispy cinnamon awesomeness just as I had anticipated, but there was an unexpected kick of heat at the end.  I scrambled quickly for the package to read what I had missed earlier.  The cookies are described as “crunchy cinnamon toast cookies with a spicy finish”, which is courtesy of cayenne pepper!  It’s hard to describe much I love these cookies, but I could mention that I ate 3 before I managed to get out the camera to share them with you.  Paul had told us about his passion for finding the perfect combination of unusual ingredients in his cookies and I’ll give these spicy snickerdoodles a five-star rating!

Wackym’s Kitchen cookies would be welcome gifts and are extremely well-priced.  A tin of approximately 4 dozen cookies (about one pound) is priced at $25 including shipping.  Eight dozen cookies with up to four different flavors in a very attractive keepsake photo box is less than $50.  Don’t forget to save some for Santa!  And one last thing – as of this moment, Wackym’s Kitchen’s Facebook page is just 9 “likes” short of 500.  Click over now and help get it over the top!

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