My Ivy-educated, strawberry-blonde sister-in-law Cele has a dry wit and too many talents to itemize, though right up at the top of the list would have to be baking (which she’d deny) and her signature Christmas Cookie Platter. Such precision! Every cookie is perfectly uniform, as if each dough ball were weighed and measured before being shaping into a crescent or whatever. And for me, the stars of Cele’s famous Platter (and the first to disappear) are her quarter-sized, chocolate-dunked peppermint patties. Continue reading
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – an especially fun and goodie-filled holiday for kids, as well as for women with creative, generous, romantic spouses . . .
While expressing love with a Valentine’s card is always appropriate, a little homemade treat can make the sentiment even sweeter. These Oreo cookie pops look fancy and festive, but can be assembled and decorated in less than half an hour. Sweet mother of shortcuts!
When chocolate cravings hit, they hit hard. One of the (many many) great things about having kids is that it gives you an excuse to make ridiculously indulgent treats like these S’mores Bars. “They’re for the kids!” you say to anyone raising an eyebrow, or to yourself, as you polish off an entire row.
Well, maybe in a few years. In the meantime, we’ll get into the spirit of things by serving up these mini tennis ball cookies – simple sugar cookies with a shiny, glow-green glaze.
How’s this for hitting the sweet spot?
Yes, the cookies are a bit time-consuming to make, but I promise they taste as good as they look. And as Sophie (above, in the shades) will tell you, sometimes looking good is worth a little extra effort.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. These cookies are highly addictive, and almost impossible to resist when fresh out of the oven. If you ignore my advice and make them anyway, at least don’t do so on an empty stomach.
My daughter Leah would do almost anything for these cookies – which are crisp on the outside, chewy inside, and bursting with Hershey’s Mini Kisses, pecans and toffee bits. If I were the manipulative type I could bake my way to mommy nirvana – beds made, clothes put away, piano practiced, maybe even cat litter scooped! But of course that would be wrong. I make the kids cookies to show how much I love them. But wait – that’s wrong too! Or is it?
Since these cookies are best the same day they’re baked, I usually only bake one sheet pan (12 cookies or 2 servings – kidding!) at a time. I freeze the rest of the dough balls in a Ziploc bag for easy, fresh-baked treats (or bribes) whenever the need arises. (Freeze on a small baking sheet in a single layer first, then transfer to a bag when firm.)
Best-Ever Chocolate Toffee Chip Cookies
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated (white) sugar
- 2 large eggs (ideally at room temperature)
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 1 cup chopped pecans (taste a few first to make sure they haven’t turned rancid)
- 1 package Heath Toffee Bits (in the baking aisle)
- 1 package Hershey’s Mini Kisses (in the baking aisle)
Heat oven to 300ºF. (The low temperature is key.) Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. (Each baking sheet should hold 12 cookies.)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add softened butter and both sugars. Beat (“cream”) until well combined.
Add eggs (crack into a separate bowl so no shell bits get into the batter) and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
With mixer off, sprinkle baking soda and salt over butter/egg mixture, then add the flour. Mix on lowest speed to prevent flour from flying all over the kitchen. Slowly increase mixer speed just until flour is fully incorporated.
Then add pecans, toffee bits (extra credit for making your own Almond Toffee!) and Hershey’s Mini Kisses. Even the most powerful mixer will groan a little at all this. Finish mixing by hand if necessary.
Using a small ice cream scooper or a spoon, form walnut-sized balls. (Gather all inner strength to resist OD’ing on dough.) Place on baking sheet a few inches apart.
Bake for 20-22 minutes (depending on how hot your oven runs or whether the dough balls were frozen); cookies should pale/just barely browned. If using two baking sheets, rotate halfway through baking. Slide parchment sheet with cookies onto a counter to cool slightly and firm up. (I don’t bother with a cooling rack for these cookies – they usually disappear well before they’ve cooled all the way.)
Makes approximately 36 cookies, but we’re usually too busy devouring them to get an accurate count.