Lavender White Chocolate Chip Cookies

When you think about New Mexican cuisine, lavender probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. The state is better known for its chile laden cuisine.

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And yet, on my recent trip to New Mexico, lavender played a crucial supporting role. Our whole trip was fabulous, from the art galleries of Santa Fe to the beautiful vistas of Taos and gypsum sand dunes down south. But one of my most treasured memories comes from our very first night of vacation, which we spent at a lavender farm called Los Poblanos.

Los Poblanos is on 25 acres of land just outside Albuquerque. It’s surrounded by gorgeous lavender fields, vegetable gardens and tons of beautiful foliage. Our room in the “Field” section looked out to growing lavender, fall leaves and beautiful mountains in the distance.

We were lucky to stumble on this place. Fittingly, I found it because of its reputation for amazing cuisine. I stumbled on their restaurant’s page first, then decided to book the night at their hotel, too. It was completely, totally worth it. Both our dinner and breakfast were fresh, flavorful, memorable meals. And of course, they make sure to work lavender into their menu. At dinner alone, I had a lavender margarita and lavender peach gelato!

IMG_4453My mind has been on lavender since that stay and I’ve been dreaming of these Lavender White Chocolate Chip Cookies. This is definitely one of my favorite recipes I’ve made in 2017. Lavender adds a floral hint to the dough, subtle but distinct. It pairs really well with white chocolate, and the sea salt on top is the perfect finishing touch.

Someday, I hope to make it back to Los Poblanos. Until then, I’ll just have to content myself with a plate of these cookies, and beautiful memories.

Lavender White Chocolate Cookies

Original recipe: Spache the Spatula. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: ~24 cookies

Suggested equipment: Food processor

Total Time: ~45 min

Cook Time: ~12 min

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp culinary lavender (I bought mine at World Market)
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 6 tbsp vegetable shortening
  • 1 large egg at room temp
  • 1 extra large egg yolk, at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips or chunks
  • Sea salt to sprinkle on top

Instructions

  1. Grab a small bowl, then combine the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Set that bowl aside
  2. Throw your sugar and lavender in your food processor. Process the mix for about 10-20 seconds to chop the lavender into really small pieces. Sugary “smoke” will start coming up out of the top of your processor as you grind the mixture together—totally normal!
  3. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, shortening and sugar-lavender mix on medium-high for about 3 minutes
  4. Add the egg and egg yolk, then beat for another 3 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy
  5. Add your flour mixture, and beat on low until it’s all combined
  6. Stir in your chocolate by hand
  7. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper
  8. Scoop dough onto the sheets, about an inch apart
  9. Preheat your oven to 375F. While it’s preheating, throw your cookie sheets in the freezer so the dough can firm up a bit
  10. Once the oven is ready, start baking sheets of cookies! Bake about 11-13 minutes (mine took 12). They’ll look a little undone, but will set as they cool
  11. Throw the cookie sheets on a cooling rack, and immediately sprinkle them with sea salt
  12. Cool the cookies on their sheets for about 10 minutes, then move the cookies straight to a rack to finish cooling

 

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Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

I’ve been waxing poetic about the merits of gooey butter cake for years. It’s not something you see on many menus or at many bakeries…and I can’t understand why. I started experimenting with gooey butter cake recipes back in 2010, and I’ve tried many different takes over the years. Earlier this year I made this Biscoff Gooey Butter Cake, declaring it my favorite version yet.

IMG_5984But now…there’s a new contender for that title. This Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake is truly something else. The top is similar to pumpkin pie: soft, perfectly spiced, comforting. The bottom is cakey, with a slight layer of goo between the cake and pumpkin layers. It all adds up to an awesome flavor combo, and textural mix.

This recipe was inspired by a couple of recipes I kept seeing in my Pinterest feed. I loved the idea of pumpkin gooey butter cake—but didn’t want to follow those actual recipes. They used cake mix for the bottom layer, and I prefer to make my own cake instead.

So: I combined bits and pieces from a couple recipes. The bottom layer comes from the same Butter Baking recipe I used for my Biscoff-flavored version, and the top pumpkin layer came from Averie Cooks. If you want to use a cake mix on the bottom, just follow Averie’s original recipe and use spiced cake mix. If you want to make your own plain cake layer—keep reading below!

Note that the bottom layer bakes faster than the top pumpkin layer, so make sure to keep an eye on your oven. And allow time to let this chill for a few hours before you cut in.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

Source: Bottom layer came from Butter Baking, and the top layer came from Averie Cooks. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: 36 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 1.5 hours, but I recommend tacking a few more hours on to let the bars cool completely before you cut them.

Cook Time: ~45 minutes

Ingredients

Cake layer 

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Pumpkin layer 

  • 8 oz of cream cheese, softened
  • 15 oz of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I used this recipe)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

Make your cake layer 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350F
  2. Mix your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl
  3. Add your egg, butter, milk and vanilla, then stir until it’s just combined
  4. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper, leaving a little extra hanging on the sides so it’s easy to pull out your cake later
  5. Pour your cake layer into the prepared pan, making sure it’s evenly distributed

Make your pumpkin layer 

  1. Use your mixer to beat your cream cheese and pumpkin until it’s smooth. This can get pretty messy, so I suggest using your mixer cover if you have one!
  2. Add the eggs, vanilla and butter, then beat until it’s all smooth again
  3. Add your powdered sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Beat until ingredients are totally incorporated. You’ll need to scrape down the bowl a few times to get there
  4. Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of your cake layer
  5. Bake for 43-48 minutes (mine took 45). When it’s done, the edges will be set—but your center will look a bit jiggly. Resist the urge to bake longer, because you’ll start to burn your cake! Rest assured that the cake will set up more as it cools
  6. Let the cake cool on a wire rack for a bit. Then cover it, and move it into the fridge to cool completely. It’ll be much easier to cut chilled
  7. After a few hours, cut your cake into bars

These bars kept nicely in a covered container for a few days. You could also store them in a fridge for up to 5 days.

 

Caramel Apple Butter Snickerdoodles

I first made apple butter snickerdoodles in the fall of 2014. I liked them so much, I made them again a couple weeks later for a fall-themed potluck. And then…they fell victim to my tendency to try new recipes. I thought about them every fall, but always ended up making something new instead.

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This year, I decided it was time to change that. But I also had a new idea: what if I mixed caramel bits into the batter? Caramel apple is such a classic flavor, after all. I’d never mixed caramel and apple butter together before, but I had a feeling it’d be great.

It turns out caramel bits were a really good idea. They add another layer of flavor to an already great cookie, taking it up just one more notch. The base of this apple butter snickerdoodle is pure delight. It’s a cakey cookie, with a subtle apple flavor. You mix apple butter right into the dough, then mix in the caramel bits, and roll the cookies in a cinnamon sugar mix before you bake them. That adds up to a delicious pillows of apple butter goodness, with a hint of cinnamon and a bit of chewy caramel.

Make sure to allow time to chill this dough so it doesn’t spread during baking. These cookies stay fresh for a few days in an airtight container, and freeze nicely too.

Caramel Apple Butter Snickerdoodles

Original recipe: Crazy for Crust. I modified it and rewrote things a bit. 

Yield: 36 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~4.5 hours (including chill time)

Cook Time: 14 minutes

Ingredients

For your dough 

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup apple butter (any brand will do!)

For your cinnamon sugar

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Make your dough 

  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl
  2. Using your mixer, cream butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until fluffy
  3. Mix in your eggs, vanilla, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and the apple butter. Beat until it’s just mixed
  4. Add in your flour mixture, and mix the whole thing until it’s blended together
  5. Throw your dough in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours. This keeps your cookies from spreading, so you don’t want to skip this step!

Bake your cookies 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line cookie sheets
  2. Mix 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl so it’s fully combined
  3. Scoop a ball of dough, roll it in the cinnamon sugar and place it on your baking sheet. Repeat until you’re out of dough!
  4. Bake your cookies 12-14 minutes. Mine were perfect at 14 minutes, but make a call depending on how you like your cookies
  5. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets, then move them to a wire rack to cool completely
  6. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temp, or freeze for later

 

 

10 Pumpkin Recipes for Fall

Growing up in southern California, I was a bit disconnected from this whole “pumpkin season” thing. Fall certainly brought pumpkin carving, and a trip to the local “pumpkin patch.” But…our pumpkin patch was just a straw-covered section of a mall parking lot. It wasn’t exactly the experience you get at an actual pumpkin farm.

My pumpkin patch experience got a serious upgrade in college. I started going to the Fall Harvest at the Kirkwood Farmer’s Market. Kirkwood is a small-ish suburb that’s part of St. Louis County. It was only a 20-minute drive from my college dorm, but felt like worlds away. It was always a nice reprieve from college life….small town vibes, fresh food, friendly vendors. I often invited friends, but sometimes I’d just go alone and unwind.

The market is great year-round, but fall is especially fun. I’d walk around sampling all the ciders and pumpkin treats and apple pies…and I got totally hooked on fall flavors. So thanks, Kirkwood, for helping me discover my love of all things fall. This list of pumpkin recipes is dedicated to you.

Here are the pumpkin recipes I’m most excited to try this year, and some old favorites:

 

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Nutella Bread from A Treats Affair

 Pull Apart Nutella Filled Pumpkin Bread: Just reading this recipe name makes me hungry. I love surprise pockets of Nutella, so there’s no doubt I’d devour this bread.

 

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake: This recipe is especially appropriate given my ode to St. Louis. Gooey butter cake is a St. Louis gem. I’ve made it with Biscoff…now it’s pumpkin’s turn!

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Snickerdoodles from Half Baked Harvest

Pumpkin Gingerbread Coffee Cake: I’ve made pumpkin gingerbread before, and the flavor combo turned out great. This kicks it up a notch with the streusel topping.

Pumpkin Chai Snickerdoodles: I had planned to make this recipe last year, but never got around to it. Hope to make it happen this year!

Soft Batched Frosted Pumpkin Cookies: These are pretty simple compared to some of my other picks, but sound incredibly satisfying. Cakey pumpkin cookies are my favorite, and I bet they’re awesome frosted.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice: Did you know it’s super easy to make your own pumpkin pie spice? I make a batch every year  instead of buying it. I like controlling the spice levels, and this is my go-to!

Pumpkin recipes already on this blog:  

Craving more fall flavors? Check out last year’s pumpkin roundup, or my fall recipes Pinterest board.

Brownie Bit Cookies

Can’t decide whether you want a cookie or a brownie? Have I got a treat for you!

img_0453These chewy cookies boast more than chocolate chips: there are also chewy brownie bits. Start with a cooled batch of brownies. Then you whip up a batch of cookie dough, crumble the brownies into bits, and fold those bits right into the dough.

This recipe takes longer than most, since you have to bake brownies all the way through and then bake a batch of cookies too. But you can totally save time by making semi-homemade brownies, or even buying some at the store. You could definitely use store-bought cookie dough, too. Makes no matter: you’ll end up with great cookies regardless. Every bite into these beauties rewards you with buttery dough, chocolate chips and fudgy brownie. Plus, you should have extra brownies left over…so that’s a win, right?

Brownie Bit Cookies

Original recipe: Two Peas and Their Pod. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~30 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~2 hours

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

Brownies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt (regular salt is fine if you don’t have sea salt)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups brownie chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • Extra sea salt to sprinkle on the cookies

Directions

Make your brownies

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Use a medium, microwave-safe bowl to melt the butter. Use 30-second increments until the butter is fully melted
  3. Add your sugar and stir to combine
  4. Microwave the mixture until it’s hot, but not bubbling. Keep an eye on it, and stop microwaving once it’s shiny
  5. Stir in your cocoa, baking powder, salt, espresso powder and vanilla
  6. Whisk the eggs into the batter, stirring until it’s totally smooth
  7. Line a 9×13 pan with foil, and spray with nonstick spray
  8. Pour your batter into the pan. Bake about 28-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Your edges will look set, but the center will still look pretty moist
  9. Let the brownies cool completely, then chop them into bite sized bits so they’re ready to go for your cookies. Measure as you go, because you’ll have leftover brownies and can just keep the rest in the pan for later. You only need 1.5 cups of chunks for the cookies!

Make your cookies

  1.  Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  3. Use your mixer to cream butter, sugar and brown sugar for about 3 minutes
  4. Add your eggs and vanilla, then mix again until it’s fully combined
  5. Set the mixer to low, and slowly mix in your dry ingredients. Only mix until it’s combined—the dough is a little runny so you might be tempted to keep going, but don’t overmix the dough!
  6. Add your chocolate chips and brownie chunks, and stir one more time. I like to do this part by hand so I can keep an eye on mix-in distribution and size!
  7. Line baking sheets with parchment
  8. Use about two tablespoons of dough per cookie, and place onto the baking sheet. You can sprinkle the tops with sea salt if you want (definitely recommend this!)
  9. Bake about 10-12 minutes, until the edges are turning a golden brown
  10. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely

Web-Hopping vol. 26

It’s been a while since I did a web-hopping post! That doesn’t mean my actual web-hopping stopped, though. I add dozens of recipes to my “must bake” list every week. Right now, I’m all about fall flavors. From pumpkin to zucchini—I’ll take them all.

Apples are particularly top of mind for me this week, because friends are starting to post their apple picking pictures. I love apple picking, and used to go every year when I lived in the midwest. It’s a tad harder when you live in San Francisco and don’t own a car…but I’m sure I can make it happen!

In the meantime, I plan on scooping up tons of apples from my local markets. Here are the six apple recipes I’m most excited to try this year, and few old favorites.

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Pretzels from Baked by Rachel

Apple and cheddar soft pretzels: I’ll be honest: I get lazy about making yeasted recipes. But these have been on my list for years (literally) and maybe this will be the year I finally make them happen!

Caramel apple shortbread bars: I mean, what’s not to like? A buttery cookie-like base, topped by the classic combo of caramel and apple.

Apple cinnamon zucchini muffins: Zucchini makes for moist, flavorful baked goods so it’s the perfect solve for muffins—which are often too dry for my taste. And in this recipe, chunks of apple take things to an even better place.

 

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Snickerdoodles from Bob’s Red Mill

Apple pie-stuffed snickerdoodles: I mean: just look at that picture. You cook up apples like you’re gonna throw them in a pie…but instead, you throw them in the middle of snickerdoodles. And you all know how much I love a good stuffed cookie!

Apple shortcake with honey, cinnamon and lavender: Naturally, I’m intrigued by the lavender in here. I can’t quite imagine how it will taste…which makes the recipe super compelling! (Warning: this recipe is in Hebrew. If I ever make it, I’ll report back on whether translating the page works out!!!)

Ginger apple molasses cake: I’m a sucker for anything ginger or molasses, so clearly this is a must-make. I also love that it has mascarpone frosting!

And just in case you’re craving more: here’s a handy roundup of apple recipes I’ve shared with you in the past.

Strawberry Saffron Chocolate Chip Cake

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You know when you get your heart set on making a certain recipe? And even though there are other options that are totally easier for one reason or another…it doesn’t matter?

Ladies and gentleman: Welcome to my brain when I made this cake.

The recipe itself is super simple. But it turned out that getting my hands on the right ingredients wasn’t so easy. This post may say “strawberry cake,” but the original recipe called for figs. And in a silly, produce-naive move, I was trying to make this cake before fig season kicked into full force. (Ahem: I made this cake in April…so now you know I’m not always the most punctual with my posts 🙂 )

I had already bought the other ingredients when I realized my faux pas. I tried four grocery stores, but there were no figs to be found. Still: I really wanted to make this cake. I’d been eyeing this cake for months, and was so curious about what a saffron-tinged cake would taste like. Plus, I’d already bought the yogurt and saffron. Time for Plan B!

Lucky for me, the recipe’s author helped me out. I commented on Alejandra’s blog asking if she thought dried figs would work ok. And she gave me so much advice! She suggested other recipes on her site that were fig-less, but similar. She suggested a way to rehydrate dried figs. And she also suggested swapping in berries instead.

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Ta-dah! We had a new plan. Since I stubbornly wanted to use the saffron and greek yogurt, swapping in another fruit was my best option. I got some strawberries to replace the figs, and finally this cake and I got to have our moment in the sun.

I brought the finished beauty to my cake party and it was a total hit. Friends kept commenting on how different it was from other desserts they’d tried before. They couldn’t put their finger on the saffron, but they loved how it tasted!

The cake is super moist, thanks to the olive oil and greek yogurt in the batter. Saffron and almond extract combine for a really unique flavor that’s a little earthy, but balanced. The strawberries add a bit of juiciness and a sweet topping before you bite into the cake itself. Alejandra mentions you can omit the saffron if you want to…but I don’t think you should.

In the end, it all worked out. Thank to Alejandra for all her help! I’m definitely going to try this again now that figs are actually in season!

Strawberry Saffron Chocolate Chip Cake

Original recipe: Always Order Dessert. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: One 9-inch cake

Suggested equipment: It’s best to use a springform pan, if you have one!

Total Time: 1.5 hours

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain, whole Greek yogurt
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Whisk together your yogurt, eggs, olive oil, vanilla, almond extract and sugar until the mixture is smooth
  3. Combine your heavy cream and saffron in a small bowl. Microwave the bowl until the cream is hot—should take about 20 seconds
  4. Whisk the cream, and let it sit for 2 minutes. That gives the saffron time to steep into the cream
  5. Pour the cream into your bowl of batter, and mix it together
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk your flour, baking powder and salt
  7. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until it’s just combined
  8. Grease a 9 inch springform pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper
  9. Pour your batter into the prepared cake pan
  10. Arrange strawberry slices and chocolate chips all over the top of your cake
  11. Bake the cake 40-45 minutes, until it’s golden on top and on the sides. A tester in the middle should come out clean and free of liquidy batter!
  12. Let the pan cool for fifteen minutes. Then, remove the sides of the springform and transfer the cake to a wire rack so it can cool completely

Note: I actually thought this cake tasted even better the day after I made it, so feel free to prep ahead!