thin ‘n chewy gingersnaps

The holidays definitely snuck up on me this year.  As they do every year, but still.  I perpetually procrastinate decorating the house, buying presents and really getting into the Christmas spirit until about halfway though the month and then scramble at the last minute to get everything done.  Every year I keep telling myself to start earlier, make more lists and manage my time better but old habits die hard.

We are flying back to Illinois for Christmas so we decided to forgo some of our usual traditions, which has eased the holiday stress just a bit.  Instead of chopping down our own tree in the wilderness of Tahoe, we put up a light-up twig tree from Target.  There are no stockings, no ornaments, and no lights on the house which, at times, I feel slight pangs of guilt about.  However, it’s actually a win-win because I’m not playing hide-and-seek with ornaments that my 2 year old would definitely hide and he still LOVES the lights on his twig tree.  So as long as he’s happy, he won’t know the difference.  This year.

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tahini-espresso chocolate chip cookies {with sesame smoked sea-salt}

At the end of every day, I feel like I deserve a treat.  I mean, I know I am home with my toddler all day so how hard could daily life really be?  But I am at home with my toddler alllll day.  Though I love my little man to the moon and back, he is like the Energizer bunny- always going, and going and going…

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So after dinner has been served, dishes have been done and kitchen has been wiped down, I turn the oven back on because the day is never really over until I’ve had my cookie for dessert.  I’ve gotten in the habit of freezing a freshly-made batch of cookie dough so that I won’t eat half the cookies throughout the day.  It’s the perfect solution curb my mindless snacking and allows me to really savor the one cookie I’ve baked for myself after dinner.  Because it really is a treat.

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This cookie dough is special.  It’s not gluten-free.  Nor is it vegan.  And I definitely wouldn’t consider them a health food.  But sometimes a special chocolate chip cookie is just what we need to put a period on the end of the day.  I’ve made this recipe numerous times and have fallen in love with the addition of tahini in the batter because it creates a subtle depth of flavor even though the tahini itself isn’t really that pronounced.  This time there was a higher chocolate-to-dough ratio so they were super gooey, almost falling apart when taking a bite.  Feel free to use less chocolate if desired.  Just because, I also threw in some espresso powder since coffee is never a bad addition with chocolate.  Finally, I whipped up sesame smoked sea salt to top the cookies, as one does. (say that three times fast).

All I gotta say is…make these cookies.


tahini-espresso chocolate chip cookies {with sesame smoked sea-salt}

A tahini chocolate chip cookie spiked with espresso powder and topped with sesame smoked sea salt.  The very best treat to end your day!

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup tahini
  • 1 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 1 cup + 2 tbs whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbs espresso powder
  • 1 ¾ cup chopped dark chocolate

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, tahini and cane sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes.  Add in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and continuing mixing on medium for another five minutes.

In another large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso powder together to combine.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low until just combined.  Toss in the chopped chocolate and stir them into the mixture by hand with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and using a cookie scoop, scoop out dough balls and place them on the sheet.  Wrap the baking sheet in plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least 12 hours.  This step is important because it allows the gluten in the flour to relax, giving way to a more tender and chewy cookie.

At this point, you can bake 1 or bake them all.  I love storing cookie dough in the freezer to have on hand when the craving strikes.  Plus, not having a jar of chocolate chip cookies on the counter to snack on which to snack freely helps with self control.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  space cookies at least 3” apart to allow for them to spread.  Bake for 13-16 minutes, until just golden around the edges.  Even though they may look underbaked, this is actually perfect.  Sprinkle with the smoked sea salt/sesame mixture and allow to cool for at least 10-20 minutes before eating.

sesame smoked sea salt

  • 1 tbs smoked sea salt
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds

In a spice grinder, add smoked sea salt and sesame seeds and pulse until combined.  You don’t want to pulverize the mixture, just coarsely chopped enough so that it’s fully mixed together.

 

 

 

Nut-Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies (with Crisp Brown Rice)

My husband is raving about these cookies.  Yes, they’re tasty and crunchy but simply the best cookie I’ve made thus far?  I didn’t think so, but he says otherwise and I’ll take that from my harshest (only) food critic.  I’ll let you decide for yourselves.

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These are nut-butter cookies because they’re made with a combination of almond and cashew butters, though I’m sure substitutions (all almond butter, peanut butter, etc) would work just fine.  Cashews are a bit more mellow in flavor than almonds (in my opinion) so using cashew butter really balanced the strong almond flavor of these cookies.  Add chopped dark chocolate and crisp brown rice (or Rice Crispies) and you’ve got a cookie with lots of flavor and tons of texture.  Top with flaked sea salt for good measure.

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They’re chewy, crispy and chocolaty…you should totally do it.  Happy weekending!


nut-butter chocolate chunk cookies (with crisp brown rice)

These come together in a snap and substitutions are welcome.  If you don’t have cashew butter, 1 cup of almond butter can be used instead.  Or peanut butter. Or any nut butter, really.  Don’t skip the crisp brown rice.

  • ½ cup cashew butter (raw or roasted)
  • ½ cup roasted almond butter
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup muscavado sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1/4-1/3 cup crisp brown rice
  • ½ cup  chopped dark chocolate (I prefer at least 70% cocoa)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine nut butters with both types of sugars in a large bowl until everything is combined.  Add in the egg and stir until fully incorporated. Add vanilla, baking soda and salt.

Add chopped dark chocolate and crisp brown rice.  Stir to combine.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  I then rolled each cookie dough ball between my hands to make sure they were all uniform in size and would spread evenly.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown around the edges.  Let them cool completely on the cookie sheet before removing them.  Store in an airtight container and they should keep for about a week.

 

White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies with Vanilla Salt

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If you’re looking for a Christmas cookie, this one is it.  Seriously.  Once I discovered this recipe, there was no going back.  Everyone was going to receive this cookie as a gift and they were going to like it.  Which is why I’ve made it my staple cookie once December rolls around.  Just within the past few days, I have made two batches and still have one more to go.  No joke.  Reason being was that we ended up slowly snacking on the first batch, sneaking a cookie (or two) for breakfast until I realized there weren’t enough left to actually give out as gifts. Oops!

So, the cookie itself includes both peppermint and white chocolate (if you couldn’t tell from the title) and are perfect complements to the intense caramel notes the dough develops while resting in your refrigerator overnight.  Just prior to baking, the unbaked cookies are then garnished with vanilla salt which just takes their deliciousness to the next level.  It’s a killer secret ingredient and not one to leave out–I’ve included the how-to at the end of the page.

Pepp White Choc Cookies 4

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Hawaij-Coffee Snickerdoodles

 

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If you’ve never heard of Hawaij (“huh-why-edge”), that’s ok because I certainly hadn’t either until I stumbled across it on Molly Yeh’s blog where she presented us with some hawaij-coffee donuts.  What?  Needless to say, I was intrigued!  I’m all for incorporating new spices into my dishes and this one sounded like a winner, mostly because it’s used with coffee.  Because right now coffee is everything.  It turns out there are two versions of hawaij, a Yemeni spice blend, that are used in both coffee and soups.  Here we use the coffee blend where ground cardamom and ginger are the stars of the show, followed by a mixture of nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon.  Sometimes anise and fennel seeds are included but I opted to skip them.  Add a pinch or two of the spice to your coffee grounds and boom…you have a better-than-Starbucks holiday brew.  Not only can you add Hawaij to your coffee, but now you can also add your Hawaij-spiced coffee to cookies!  Double win!

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