Travel Eats: Portland

I’ve found that one of the best ways to reset my brain is to wander a new city or neighborhood. Wandering provides the perfect mix of adrenaline, curiosity and relaxation. As I explore, my brain is so wrapped up in discovery mode that it forgets stressors and to-do lists.

I switched jobs recently and wanted to reset my brain a bit before heading into something new. Portland, Oregon has long been on my mind as a potential vacation destination. I’d heard such good things about its scenery, its people… and of course, its food. So when I realized I’d have a few days between jobs, I booked a rather last-minute trip and finally got to see what Portland’s all about.

We spent 2.5 days wandering every neighborhood we could, and sampling every dish we could. We also rented a car so we could drive to Multnomah Falls, the second highest waterfall in the U.S.

I’d compiled our list of “must dos” based on lots of advice from friends, websites like Eater and a bit of Yelping. We found so many delightful spots on our trip, but today I’m just going to share the very top eats. This was supposed to be a top 5  list… but I couldn’t narrow it down to 5! So, here are my top 8 places to eat in Portland:

1. Chizu 

IMG_0636 Chizu focuses on cheese, and its menu is mighty impressive. You can pick cheeses by the ounce to make your own plate or order “omnikase” style and let the staff pick cheeses on your behalf. We ordered $20 of cheese plus some duck charcuterie and were incredibly pleased with what we got. The platter included an awesome mix of hard and soft cheeses, served with accompaniments like honey and dried fruit. The staffe explained the back story for every single cheese we ordered. Plus the staff was super friendly and chatted with us about recommendations for our stay.

2. Hat Yai

IMG_0870Hat Yai is all over the “best new restaurant” lists for Portland right now, and the hype is definitely substantiated. We loved our meal of meat skewers, curry, roti and grilled corn. Everything was so flavorful, and so satisfying. We stopped here on our way back from the Falls and it was the perfect post-hike dinner!

 

3. MÅURICE

IMG_0907Maurice calls itself a “luncheonette” and is only open until early evening, so make sure you stop here for lunch! It’s adorable inside, and its food is simple but delicious. We got a wonderful shaved carrot salad, delicious scones and yummy open face sandwiches.

 

 

4. Shalom Y’All

IMG_0632.JPGThis recommendation came from my mom (hi Mom!). I love falafel, and Shalom Y’Alls take on falafel was truly incredible. Spiced with sumac, accented by the unusual additions of walnuts and feta – this falafel sandwich keeps calling to me in my dreams. I usually find falafel options disappointing and really wish I had a Shalom Y’All in the Bay Area! The PDX location is in a “food hall” with several other local favorites.

5. Nuvrei

IMG_0900This Pearl District bakery has the most beautiful display of varied pastries and croissants. I opted for the Kare Pan, a brioche bun stuffed with Japanese-style curry. This thing was SO GOOD.

 

 

 

 

 

6. The Meadow

IMG_0939This shop specializes in salts, chocolates and bitters. So in other words, it’s a foodie’s dream. I snapped up awesome saffron salt, and resisted the urge to buy every kind of chocolate they had in stock. There are two locations in Portland and one in NYC, plus an online store!

 

 

 

 

7. Cheese & Crack Snack Shop

IMG_0783I found this shop by Yelping “pickles” and man, am I glad we visited! We stopped here for snacks on our way to the Falls. We got a “cheese plate to go” that had a great selection of cheeses, crackers and spreads like honey and mustard. We ended up eating this overlooking a vista point. Turns out that cheese + vista points = the perfect combo.

IMG_06148. Simple Local Coffee/Sterling Coffee Roasters

Ok, I’m cheating a little, but both these shops serve the same brand of coffee. First we bumped into Simple Local Coffee, a charming shop downtown that serves Sterling Coffee. A couple days later, we sought out Sterling’s own shop over in the city’s Alphabet District. I drink my coffee black, and loved their flavorful roasts. Fun fact: there are remnants of an old tunnel in the lobby adjacent to Simple Local Coffee, complete with old tools. Pretty cool!

 

 

Here are just a few more snapshots of our wonderful trip. If you’re ever headed to Portland, let me know. I’ll give you all the dirt on different neighborhoods, eats, etc.!

 

(This entry is cross-posted on my other blog, Culture Cookies

S’Mores Brownies

I have a confession to make: I didn’t know today was National S’Mores Day until my mom texted me about it (thanks Mom!). But, I’ve been on a s’more-inspired baking kick recently, so I already had the perfect recipe ready to share and commemorate this very special “holiday.”

S’Mores have long been one of my favorite treats. I have fond memories of sitting around the beach fire pits near my high school, making s’more after s’more and memory after memory. My friends and I would play around with the ratio of graham-to-marshmallow-to-chocolate, stacking layer after layer to see how high we could go.

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In recent years, I’ve experimented a lot with s’more-inspired baked goods. Last year I whipped up some S’Mores Cupcakes with Marshmallow Crispies. The year before that, it was these wonderful S’More Cookie Bars. This year I decided to try more than 1 over the course of “S’More Season” – so the brownies you’ll see today are only the first in a series! If you want a sneak peek of other S’Mores treats that may show up on the blog, check out the Pinterest board where I store all my S’Mores-inspired ideas.

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We ate these in a park. It was glorious.

Now: about these brownies. There is a graham cracker layer all the way at the bottom, pre-baked a bit to get it nice and firmed up. You cover the cracker layer with a rich, brownie layer that bakes up into delicious, rich brownies. And then you sprinkle a generous topping of mini marshmallows, graham cracker bits and chocolate pieces on top to create a “s’more” effect in every single bite. I made these for a friend’s going away party and subbed in dark chocolate everywhere possible, since that’s her favorite type of chocolate. Since we ate these outside, the chocolate on top melted a little – which ended up being an awesome touch and amplified the “s’mores” effect.

These brownies are rich, and the recipe makes a full 9×13 pan so these are great for a party. Make sure to allow time for this recipe’s phased baking process: you’ll throw the pan into the oven 3 separate times at different points in the recipe.

S’Mores Brownies

Original recipe: Chef in Training. I’ve made some modifications and added my own commentary. 

Yield: ~20 brownies

Suggested equipment: Mixer 

Total Time: ~1 hour

Cook Time: ~35 minutes 

Ingredients

Crust 

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (I put my graham crackers in a plastic bag and smashed them until I had crumbs. You could also use a food processor)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted

Brownies 

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup dark cocoa (You can sub in another kind if you’d prefer but I loved the rich chocolate flavor from the dark cocoa. I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1⅓ cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt

Topping 

  • Roughly 1½ cups mini marshmallows (you’ll want to eyeball it for the right ratio)
  • 3.5 graham crackers, broken into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 dark chocolate bars, broken into bite-sized pieces (you can swap in another type of chocolate, of course)

Step by Step Directions

Make your crust (use the crust ingredient list) 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375F.
  2. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Combine graham crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a medium bowl and use a spoon to combine them together.
  4. Press the mixture into your pan and make sure it is evenly spread out.
  5. Bake for 7 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and set aside.
  6. Reduce your oven to 350F for the next steps.

Make your brownies (use the brownie ingredient list)  

  1. Cream butter and sugar together.
  2. Add your eggs and vanilla, and mix until it is well-combined.
  3. Add in the cocoa, flour and salt. Use a spoon to stir the mixture together until it is completely mixed.
  4. Pour your brownie batter over the graham cracker crust.
  5. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. The brownies won’t be fully set yet so don’t worry!

Add your topping (use the topping ingredient list) 

  1. Sprinkle your topping ingredients evenly over the semi-baked brownie. You’ll want to eyeball to get the perfect ratio of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers.
  2. Bake the pan again for roughly 10-15 more minutes. Keep an eye on your brownies to know when they’re done; mine took the full 15 minutes. The brownies are done when a toothpick comes out clean with a couple crumbs. Make sure you’re sticking the pick into the brownies themselves and not getting melty chocolate on the toothpick – that can lead you astray!

Eat warm if you want melty chocolate on top; cool if you prefer little chunks of chocolate to bite into. These kept nicely for 2 days beyond the bake date. Make sure to store them in an airtight container if you want to keep them around.

 

Oreo White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you heard the term “pantry loading?” “Pantry loading” means buying things you don’t need immediately – but think you might want someday. Maybe you see ketchup on sale and buy two extra bottles, or you notice a new brand of crackers you’ve been meaning to try and throw them in your cart for that cocktail party you plan to host… eventually. Pantry loading is heavily inspired by promotions and bulk sales. It can be an awesome money-saving strategy, or a money-wasting strategy if you tend to “load” up on things you’ll never use.

I am a pantry loader by nature. When I had a bigger apartment, you’d find all sorts of “backup” foods and toiletries in my cabinets. But now I live in a tiny studio with very little storage. So when I moved in, I remarked “well, this is the end of my pantry loading days!”

Alas: old habits die hard. I no longer pantry load regular food, but I still pantry load baking supplies! In my cabinets right now: 3 bags of sugar, 2 bags of flour, 4 bags of brown sugar, 9 bags of chocolate chips… etc. I just can’t resist stocking up on that stuff when it’s on sale. I also can’t resist buying “specialty” ingredients when I see a good price. Things that I don’t use often, but would totally use in a recipe if I did have them on hand.

Enter these Oreo cookies.

I bought Oreos a bit ago when they were on a great sale, and I knew I’d bake with them eventually. They ended up in the storage bin where I keep my packaged food, along with a box of toffee, a bag of marshmallows and some butterscotch bits. All destined for baked goods sometime, someday.

DSCN3033I was grateful for my stash when I started craving Oreos recently, and decided it was time to use them in a recipe. I’d bookmarked this cookie recipe a while ago, and really liked how simple it was. I’m actually not a big fan of white chocolate on its own, but I liked the idea of combining white chocolate chips and Oreos in one tasty cookie. There’s nothing complicated about the premise, nothing complicated about the execution – and sometimes that’s just what you need, right?

By the way, I pantry loaded Oreos again this week: I bought those new Choco Chip Oreos, intending to bake with them. Stay tuned for what happens next!

Oreo White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original recipe:  Coastal KitchenI’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~30 cookies 

Suggested equipment: Mixer makes it easier 

Total Time: ~30 minutes 

Cook Time: ~7-8 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups of flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Half a pack of Oreo cookies, crumbled into small pieces that will blend into cookie dough (adjust as you’d like for your preferred mix-in ratio)
  • Half a package of white chocolate chips (adjust as you’d like for your preferred mix-in ratio)

Step by Step Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set this bowl aside.
  3. Use your mixer to cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. You’ll want to cream them until the mixture is fluffy; this will take ~2 minutes.
  4. Beat in your eggs and vanilla.
  5. Slowly pour the dry flour mixture into the wet ingredients in your mixer. Mix slowly, just until combined.
  6. Mix in your crushed Oreos and white chocolate chips. You can eyeball this so it reaches your preferred mix-in level; I personally prefer fewer mix-ins per cookie.
  7. Line a couple cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Roll your dough into small balls, and place the balls 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.
  9. Bake about 7-8 minutes. The tops will be a light golden brown when the cookies are done, and the edges will look set. Remember, they firm up more as they cool!
  10. Let them cool on their sheets for a couple minutes, then transfer them over to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookie Butter Bars with Nutella Swirls

I stayed in alone last night – so naturally, I decided to bake cookies. I’d been wanting to bake with cookie butter again for a while, and decided last night was the perfect night to do so. Now, originally I had planned to make cheesecake-stuffed cookie bars. But I just wasn’t in the mood for cheesecake. Instead, I decided to use the base dough from the cheesecake recipe I’d saved as a starting point, and play around with it a bit.

This is an easy trick to customize your baked goods: start with a base you trust, and then play with it. I have a few baking blogs I turn to for the base doughs – e.g. I love Picky Palate’s chocolate chip cookie dough and I adore this brownie base from The Food Charlatan. These bases are essentially your canvas, and then you can try out different additions, substitutions or “hacks.”

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That darker bit in the middle is the cookie butter layer – mmm!

Last night’s experiment led me to make these Cookie Butter Bars with Nutella Swirls. I used a cookie butter blondie dough as the base and decided to split it into two layers, with a cookie butter filling between them. This turned out to be a great choice: the cookie butter filling baked into a smooth, moist layer that adds another kick of gingery, caramelized flavor. After putting the second round of dough on top of the cookie butter filling, I decided to add a Nutella swirl into the very top of the bars. And then I decided to sprinkle on some sea salt because really, why not?

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Next time I’d slather a layer of Nutella over the cookie butter.

These bars came out great! I loved the extra cookie butter layer in the middle and the Nutella on top adds a nice bit of chocolate right when you bite into the bar. Next time I think I’d add a layer of Nutella in the middle, on top of the cookie butter. The bars tasted great out of the oven, when the cookie butter layer was still hot and melty. I actually like them even more on Day 2, because the cookie butter layer has solidified a bit and has a stronger flavor. I tend to like my blondies more on Day 2 – often, flavors meld together over time and are more pronounced after they’ve been sitting around a bit.

I took these bars to brunch today as a sweet surprise for some friends. They were more than happy to be my taste testers!

Cookie Butter Bars with Nutella Swirls

Original recipe: The base dough for this recipe came from Confessions of a Baking Queen.

Yield: 20 bars 

Suggested equipment: Mixer makes it easier 

Total Time: ~50 minutes 

Cook Time: ~25-27 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cookie butter (I used Trader Joe’s version, but use any brand you’d like)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 heaping cup milk chocolate chips (you can swap in a different kind, of course)
  • 10 tsp cookie butter for the filling (this is a rough estimate; you’ll want to eyeball it)
  • 10 tsp Nutella (this is a rough estimate; you’ll want to eyeball it)
  • Fine sea salt, to sprinkle (totally optional!)

Step by Step Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. Line an 9×9 pan with foil and grease the pan thoroughly. I only have an 8×8 so I used that, and just left out some of the dough so it wouldn’t be overfilled.
  3. Use your mixer to beat the butter for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add in the sugar and brown sugar, then beat for about 4 minutes until it looks fully combined.
  5. Add your cookie butter, and beat until it’s uniformly mixed.
  6. Add an egg, mix. Add the second egg, mix again.
  7. Add in the vanilla and mix it all together again.
  8. Add the baking soda, salt and flour. Mix on low, until all of the flour streaks are gone. You’ll need to scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure you get it all mixed in.
  9. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon.
  10. Press half the dough into the prepared pan.
  11. Put dollops of cookie butter on top of the cookie dough. Mine were about 2 tsp each. Then, use a knife to spread the dollops around the dough so you effectively have a cookie butter layer (see pictures below for help!)
  12. Layer on the second half of your cookie dough.
  13. Now, put dollops of Nutella on the top cookie layer. You’ll then use a knife to sort of swirl the Nutella into the cookie dough so it bakes into the top.
  14. Sprinkle some sea salt on top, if you’d like.
  15. Bake your bars for about 25-27 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine took 27; start checking around 23 minutes to see what’s going on.
  16. Let the bars cool in their pan for 15 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

These will stay good for a few days if you put them in an airtight container. I’m guessing they’ll freeze well, too, so I threw some in the freezer!

Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

One of my dearest friends visited San Francisco last week. Hila was one of my first SF pals, and one of my best friends in town until work moved her to LA. She frequently benefitted from my baking experiments when she lived nearby, but now she’s usually relegated to reading about my baking rather than tasting it. So when she booked her flight to visit over the 4th, I promised I’d bake something delicious to celebrate her arrival. A few days before she got here, I asked her favorite flavors so I could bring a treat to brunch. Her list back? “Dark chocolate, peanut butter and almonds.”

And so I started digging through my Pinterest boards and recipe lists. I sent Hila and our other friend Netta an email with some options to choose from. Hila picked these delectable Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting, Netta confirmed it sounded like a good plan – and off I went to find bittersweet chocolate!

IMG_0276These brownies are truly decadent. The combo of bittersweet chocolate, baking cocoa and espresso powder makes the base super chocolatey, with a bigger punch than many other brownie recipes. Espresso adds intensity to chocolate recipes, so it’s a good add when you want to dial up your chocolate flavor. Browning your butter is also always a good choice, and adds a little nuttiness to this brownie’s base.

Once you’ve made your brownies, you whip up a rather simple peanut butter frosting. The “salted” part is actually from a salt sprinkle, and not salt in the frosting itself. Adding salt on top of these brownies results in the ultimate salty-sweet treat. I didn’t have time to let my brownies cool before frosting them, which made the frosting melt a little and thin out. My fine sea salt sprinkle sort of melted into the frosting, too. The result tasted great, but if you want thicker frosting and chunks of salt, you should wait for the brownies to cool entirely before icing them. This also makes it easier to cut the brownies, since warm brownies fall apart if you try to move or cut them. (see photos below for evidence!)

IMG_0282Hila and Netta loved these brownies, and I’m sure you will too! We started eating them while in line for brunch… and then again right after we left brunch. This picture to the right is what it looks like when you pull containers of brownies out of your bag and hand them over to friends while walking around town. Nothing like strolling around San Francisco, catching up with good friends – and enjoying brownies while you’re at it!

Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

Original recipe: The KitchnI’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 16 brownies

Suggested equipment: Mixer makes the frosting easier 

Total Time: ~ 1 hour 45 minutes, including time for the brownies to cool 

Cook Time: 30-35 minutes depending on your oven

Ingredients

Brownies: 

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate (You can use chopped chocolate or chocolate chips as long as you add it up to 3 oz)
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (You can omit this if you don’t have it, but it does add a lot of chocolatey depth!)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Frosting: 

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (You want to buy something like Jif Regular PB. PB with separated oil just don’t work as well for frosting!)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon flake or fine sea salt (The original recipe suggested flake but I only had fine and it was just fine! Heh.)

Step by Step Directions

Brown your butter

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F.
  2. Grease an 8×8 square metal pan, and line it with parchment paper that hangs a couple inches over the edge. Once it’s lined, lightly grease the parchment, too. I use Pam spray for this but you could use butter instead.
  3. Put your butter in a medium saucepan and melt it over medium-high heat. Keep a really close eye on the butter as it cooks – butter can go from nicely browned to sadly charred quite quickly. You want to see the solids bubble up, then settle into the and turn a caramel brown. You’ll know it’s done when the solids are golden and the butter gives off a nutty aroma. It usually takes about 3-5 minutes to brown butter like this.

Make your brownies

  1. Pour the browned butter into a medium bowl, and add your 3 oz of chocolate.Make sure to do this when the butter is still warm – these next few steps depend on warm butter! (Unlike many recipes where you let the butter cool before using it)
  2. Let it stand for 1 minute so the chocolate begins to melt into the butter.
  3. Then, whisk the chocolate mixture until it is blended together.
  4. Add in your sugar and vanilla, and whisk it all together until it’s smooth.
  5. Stir in your eggs, salt and espresso powder. Mix it with a wooden spoon until the entire mixture is well-blended.
  6. Add in your cocoa powder and flour. Use a spatula or spoon to fold the ingredients together until they’re just combined. You shouldn’t see any specks of dry ingredients but also want to be careful that you don’t overmix – overmixing leads to tough brownies!
  7. Pour the batter into your pan and bake until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean. Start checking around 25 minutes to see how your brownies look. Mine took 35 minutes to fully bake, but my oven was acting up a bit.
  8. Let the brownies cool all the way before you start frosting and slicing.

Frost your brownies

  1. Once the brownies are cool, get to work on the frosting!
  2. Use your mixer to combine the butter, peanut butter and powdered sugar. You’ll know you’re done when the frosting is a light brown color, and the ingredients are fully smoothed together.
  3. Frost your cooled brownies with an offset spatula to get a smooth and even frosting.
  4. Once you’ve finished frosting, sprinkle sea salt on the top of your brownies.

Additional tips: 

  • The original recipe notes that you can make the frosting up to 1 week in advance, and the brownies up to 3 days in advance.
  • If your brownies are too dense to cut right away, you can refrigerate them for 30 minutes and then try again.
  • Like I mentioned above: if you want thicker frosting, don’t start frosting the brownies until they are 100% cooled. Otherwise your frosting will melt a bit and thin out, and the salt will melt into the frosting too. It’s totally awesome either way, so it’s just up to your textural preferences!

 

Rosemary Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

First things first: isn’t “snickerdoodle” a wonderful word? Try ordering a snickerdoodle without giggling. Hard, right? It’s so much more fun to say than the boring, descriptive phrase “chocolate chip cookie.”  You may know exactly what you’re getting when you order a chocolate chip cookie, but there’s just no joy in saying the words.

I actually looked into the linguistic origins of “snickerdoodle” the last time I posted a snickerdoodle recipe. Some believe the word is derived from a German word for pastries. Others believe the “snicker” is specifically there to inspire laughter. And some believe the name was invented by bakers who tended to give their treats fun monikers like “jumble” or “doodle.” I’m guessing it’s some combo of theory 1 and 3: it probably does have linguistic roots in an older food, with a “doodle” flourish added in for a smile.

I remember the first time I encountered a snickerdoodle, back in my high school cafeteria. I fell in love with the crackly, cinnamon sugar spiked, pillowy cookies. I rediscovered that love a few years ago when I tried a recipe for Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. Pumpkin in the batter made the cookies even more moist, and pumpkin pie spice added flavor complexity to the dough. Fast forward a few years and I’ve tried many new variations, from an apple pie version to snickerdoodles with caramels baked right into the middle.

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Little bits of rosemary baked right in

When I saw this recipe for rosemary snickerdoodles, I had to try it out. As regular readers know, I have a thing for baking with herbs. So the idea of combining my love of snickerdoodles with my love of “intriguing” flavors made this recipe a “must do.” I added these to a “Web-Hopping” roundup back in April and I’m glad they finally came to fruition!

This is a brown sugar cookie base with little bits of rosemary mixed into the batter. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out to have herbs mixed right into the batter instead of infusing them into the butter or sugar, like I did for those lemon basil cookies I shared a bit ago. Turns out, bits of rosemary in your snickerdoodle is a fine idea, indeed. Snickerdoodles don’t usually have a brown sugar base, so these have more of a molasses taste than you might be used to. The rosemary enhances the dough’s flavor profile, but it doesn’t make the cookie savory by any means. If you didn’t know I put rosemary in there, you might not even be able to figure out what’s happening – you’d just notice there’s a deeper flavor, and a nice contrast between the chewy cookie middles and the crackly cinnamon sugar mix on top.

This dough freezes really well, so you can make it when you have extra fresh rosemary and then freeze the dough until you actually want to bake it. I froze mine for a month or so, then popped the frozen balls right into the oven. You may need a minute or so more in the oven if your dough was frozen, so just keep an eye on how they’re looking.

Rosemary Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles

Original recipe: Baker Bettie. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~25 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~70 minutes assuming the minimum of 30 minutes chill-time

Cook Time: 12 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (preferably dark brown to really enhance the molasses flavor)
  • 1 tbsp very finely chopped rosemary. Really, chop it finely; otherwise you’ll only taste rosemary in your finished cookie!
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar and 1/2 tsp baking soda, OR 1 tsp baking powder*
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsbp additional cinnamon

*If you don’t have cream of tartar, you can swap in 1 tsp baking powder – but then remember to nix the baking soda! Otherwise you’ll have a few too many chemical reactions happening in your dough.

Step by Step Directions

Make your dough 

  1. Chop your rosemary. As mentioned above, I suggest chopping it quite finely so you don’t bite into big bits of rosemary when the cookies are done
  2. Cream your butter, brown sugar and rosemary together until they are light and fluffy. If you’re using a mixer, you should be using the paddle attachment. This will take about 2 minutes, but always check to make sure it looks right before moving on
  3. Add in the egg and vanilla, and mix until incorporated
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together your flour, salt, 1 tsp of cinnamon, cream of tartar, and baking soda (remember to omit the baking soda if you’re using baking powder!)
  5. Switch your mixer on to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed
  6. Cover your bowl, and chill the dough for at least 30 minutes in the fridge, or up to 24 hours. As I mentioned, you can also scoop the dough into balls at this point and freeze it until you want to bake the cookies

Bake your cookies 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375F
  2. Mix together 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tbsp cinnamon to make your cinnamon sugar
  3. Scoop about 1.5 tbsp of dough to make each cookie ball
  4. Roll each cookie ball around in your cinnamon sugar mix
  5. Place your dough onto lined baking sheets, and bake for about 10-12 minutes. The cookies are done when they’re puffy with set edges, even if the middle still looks a bit underbaked

Let the cookies cool completely on a baking sheet, then store them in an airtight container. Or, skip the cooling step and just start eating your cookies… why wait?!

 

Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve already given you several “stuffed” recipes. The Cookie Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies. The Thin Mint Stuffed Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies ( a personal favorite). Oh and those crazy good Peanut Butter Cup Brownies.

I’m not over it yet.

Thing is: merging two delicious things together is just such a good plan. Whether it’s spreads and doughs, doughs and cookies, cookies and brownies – adding two flavors and textures together elevates baked goods so much more than simple mix-in additions could.

DSCN3038

Adding in the caramels

These cookies jumped off my baking list and into my kitchen for a birthday party. Two friends shared a party, and I did some digging to find overlap in their baked good preferences. Caramel won the round! I’d already made caramel-stuffed Snickerdoodles a bit before and loved how the melty caramel centers came out. I decided to work with caramels again, and thought this chocolate chocolate chip cookie recipe might be a nice change of pace.

The cookies turned out great… though I will admit they made me really late to the party! Let’s just say that a side experiment to stuff the same dough with frosting did not turn out so well. No big loss, because the caramel-stuffed cookies were winners (and the birthday was a come-and-go thing, anyway!). My friends gobbled these up real fast. The chocolate base has a satisfying depth to it, with cocoa in the dough plus chocolate chips added in. I swapped in sea salt for regular salt and think it made the base dough even more tasty. Once your dough is ready, caramel candies get stuffed into the cookie dough balls. You stuff them in the middle, but they’ll sink to the cookie bottoms somewhat while baking. When you bite into a cookie you’ll get a nice caramel-y surprise. The caramel does harden over time, so you’ll need to serve these warm if you want a gooey effect.

This dough was a little challenging to work with, so I’d chill it next time. Otherwise, you might find it’s a little hard to form your caramel-stuffed balls.

Caramel-Stuffed Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original recipe:  Crazy Little Projects. I’ve edited the recipe a bit and added my own commentary. 

Yield: ~30 cookies 

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~2 hours 40 minutes, including 2 hours for chilling the dough 

Cook Time: ~9 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 package of caramel square candies – I used Kraft. You’ll probably have leftovers, which you should definitely use to make Caramel Doodles.
  • Extra sea salt for sprinkling

Step by Step Directions

Make your dough 

  1. Cream butter and sugar together
  2. Add the cocoa and eggs, and mix together until it’s combined
  3. Add in the dry ingredients and mix again
  4. Stir in your chocolate chips (I decreased the number of chocolate chips vs. the original recipe because it started to look like a lot of chocolate chips in the bowl. Feel free to dial it back up to 1.5 cups of chips if you so desire!)
  5. Chill the dough for at least a couple hours so it’s easier to work with and doesn’t spread as much while baking

Assemble and bake 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F
  2. Unwrap 12 caramels to start, and cut each caramel in half. You will probably need more than this but I’d lowball upfront so you don’t waste unwrapped caramels!
  3. Line your cookie sheets
  4. Roll out balls of dough so they’re each roughly 1 to 1.5 inches large and place them on your cookie sheets at least an inch apart
  5. Take a caramel half and press it on top of each ball of dough. Push the caramel into the center of the ball and cover it up completely with dough (see pictures for reference). Unwrap more caramels as you need them to fill all the balls of dough!
  6. Sprinkle the tops of the cookie balls with a bit of sea salt
  7. Bake the cookies for ~9 minutes. They’re done when the edges firm up a bit, but the centers still look a little soft
  8. Let them cook for a few minutes before biting in

As I mentioned, the caramel will harden up the longer you let the cookies cool. Still, you gotta let them sit for a few minutes before chomping down – that caramel can get mighty hot!