Salted chocolate-pretzel peanut butter cookies

Salted chocolate-pretzel peanut butter cookies

You are King Midas.
You have the power to turn everything around you to gold. 
You are a wonderfully gifted and eternally beautiful person, 
And I thank the winds every time I think of you.
•     •     •

Thom‘s words of wisdom during a time when I felt as though my entire world was crumbling beneath my feet. If your world is crumbling (or even if it’s not), just remember – you are King Midas.

Let’s turn everything to gold.

Pretzel sticks
Pretzel flour
Creamy peanut butta
Mini chocolate chips
Salted chocolate-pretzel peanut butter cookie dough
Salted chocolate-pretzel peanut butter cookies

Notes: Cookies can be made gluten free by replacing the flour with a gluten free flour blend + 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum and the pretzels with gluten free pretzels. If you prefer your cookies light and fluffy (opposed to thin and chewy), don’t smash the cookies with a fork – lightly flatten them with the palm of your hand. I use Jif natural peanut butter in this recipe because it’s really fucking delicious – but if you’re opposed to the company, use a different natural peanut butter. Just make sure it’s smooth and creamy. SERIOUSLY. If you want to replace the shortening with vegan butter, that will work – but the cookies will be a bit more oily. Also, someone try this recipe with salty potato chip crumbs and let me know how it turns out. Or graham crackers. Oh, and to make finely ground pretzel crumbs, simply blend pretzels in a food processor for 1-2 minutes – tada!
SALTED CHOCOLATE-PRETZEL PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup sucanat
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 flax egg
2 tbsp non-dairy milk
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup finely ground pretzel crumbs
1/4 cup vegan mini chocolate chips
Coarse sea salt
, for topping

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two large baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening, peanut butter, sugars, and vanilla extract using a hand mixer on high speed for one minute. Add the flax egg and milk; beat until incorporated. Stir in the salt, baking soda, flour, and pretzel crumbs with a wooden spoon; mix until combined then stir in the chocolate chips.

Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets and flatten with a fork. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Chill baking sheets in freezer for at least 15 minutes – this helps the cookies retain their shape, so don’t skip it. Bake at 350˚F for 10-12 minutes (one sheet at a time). Transfer to wire rack to cool then store in an air tight container. Will keep for up to three days.

*Frozen cookies can be stored in the freezer and baked as needed.

Yield: about 30 cookies

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Almond linzer cookies with cherry preserves

Almond linzer cookies with cherry preserves
Almond linzer cookies with cherry preserves

Thom and I don’t get into the whole Valentine’s Day thing. Not by my choosing, but because he thinks it’s silly to have a holiday where you’re expected to do something nice for your significant other. Shouldn’t that be every day? Why can’t I bring home flowers or chocolates, just because? he’ll argue. And so I support him because Yeah, ok, Valentine’s Day is straight up superficial and I don’t like roses anyway. But that’s not going to stop me from squeezing (literally) into a sexy black dress, putting on red lipstick, and taking my handsome man out on the town. Because that aspect of Valentine’s Day I can totally get behind. An extra day to channel my inner Beyonce? Count me in.

Sexy black dress aside, the real reason I don’t fight him on Valentine’s Day is because he’s the guy who planned a faux vacation to Canada, just so that I’d have a reason to finally get my passport. And then, as we were coming up on customs at the Montreal airport – as I’m jogging twenty paces ahead of him and shouting Seriously dude! Hurry up before the line gets outta control! – he stops and starts rooting through his bag. I give him my best ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? face and he yells Stop! We’ve got to go the other way. To which I call him a moron and ask if he can read BECAUSE IT SAYS VISITORS TO CANADA THIS WAY. The way I’m going. And then he pulls out his phone and says We’re not actually staying in Montreal; we’ve got a connecting flight. We’re going to Paris for two weeks. And then I gasp and start bawling my eyes out, while he captures my reaction on camera

Almond meal + Creaming
Flour prints
Almond linzer cookie dough
Dough rolling

But that’s not all. He’s the man who waits for me at the bus stop with an umbrella, because it’s pouring rain and he doesn’t want me to get wet during the ten second walk to our building’s entrance. The man who hides my favorite candies in the pockets of my pants and cardigans, just so that one day I’ll find them and be reminded of how much he loves me. He’s the man who tolerates our perpetually messy kitchen because I’m a complete slob (for real) (Slobby McSlobberson) who can’t be bothered to clean it when I know it’s just going to get messy in the morning.

And so he’s the man who washes the dishes and cleans the countertops every night before he goes to bed, just so that I can wake up to an immaculate kitchen. The man who refuses to let me carry the groceries, and holds the door even when his arms are full. In fact, I can probably count on one hand (ok, two) the number of times I’ve had to open a door while in his presence. He’s the man who offers to go get me fries at midnight because I can’t sleep and Goddamn it, I’m craving something greasy. And salty. Always something salty. The man who would literally give his life – his existence on this planet – if it meant I’d never feel another ounce of pain as long as I live. He’s the man who chose to share his life with me and, despite his blatant refusal to celebrate Valentine’s Day, sometimes I can’t help but feel like the luckiest lady on the planet.

Maybe I am. And maybe you are, too.

We be cuttin'
Almond linzer cookies6
Almond linzer cookies with cherry preserves

Notes: I use mostly powdered sugar in this recipe because it helps to keep the cookies softer than they would be if made with granulated sugar. Feel free to use your favorite nut meal and/or jam – I chose almond and cherry because the two together are pretty delicious. But I’ve got pecan meal and apricot preserves on the mind for the summer. If you don’t have almond extract, substitute additional vanilla extract. And for the love of Buddha, make sure you freeze the dough before you put it in the oven – this ensures the cookies keep their shape. If you don’t do it they’ll be puffy and mishapen. And you don’t want that.

ALMOND LINZER COOKIES WITH CHERRY PRESERVES
1/2 cup vegan butter
2 tbsp cane sugar
1/4 cup powdered cane sugar, plus more for dusting
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup almond meal
1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup morello cherry preserves

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the butter, sugars, and extracts. Whip on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed, until light and fluffy. Add the salt, baking soda, and almond meal; mix just until combined. Add the flour and mix until incorporated. Divide the dough in two and pat into discs. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to two days.
Line two large baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper; set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Remove one ball of dough from the fridge and roll it out until it’s about 1/4-1/8″ thick. Slide the dough, on the parchment paper, onto a cutting board or other flat surface that will fit in your freezer. Cut dough with a round 2″ cutter, then use a 1.5″ heart cookie cutter to cut the centers of half of the cookies (you will need a total of 12 cookies with centers removed), but don’t remove the center pieces just yet. Remove dough scraps from around the cookies and place tray in the freezer for 10 minutes. Transfer the frozen cookies to one of the prepared baking sheets, removing the center pieces from the cut cookies (you can bake those too, if you want). Repeat process with scraps and remaining disc of dough. Freeze cookies for another 10 minutes prior to baking. Bake at 350˚F for 7-8 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an air tighter container until ready to spread with jam; will keep for up to five days.
When you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches, use a fine mesh sieve to sprinkle the cookies with the cutout centers with powdered sugar. Spread the uncut cookies with about 1 teaspoon of cherry preserves and sandwich with powdered cutouts. Serve immideately.

Yield: 1 dozen 2″ linzer cookies

Dark chocolate coconut oatmeal cookies

Dark chocolate coconut oatmeal cookies

For the first thirteen years of my life, 18 December was a day where we gathered around a table, with cake and ice cream, to celebrate the birth of my Great Oma. Despite the fact that she’s been gone for eleven years, I still consider 18 December to be her day. So today I celebrate the life of my favorite woman in the entirety of existence, because doing anything else just seems wrong.

That lady, I miss her deep wrinkles and unintentional frown. I miss the way we used to spend late mornings in our pajamas, watching the Price is Right. I’d try my best to sync the rocking chair to the tick of the clock, and she’d crochet on the couch across the room. I never liked that couch, but I liked watching her crochet. Her knobby fingers were quick, creating cloths we would use to wash dishes, and delicate pink doilies that would line the bottoms of things capable of scratching her fine wood tables. I didn’t know it then, but a few of those doilies would later adorn my bedside table. I miss the way she used to spoon sugar over my bran flakes, and the look she’d give me when I’d ask for Just one more spoonful, please? She’s the reason bran cereal is the only cereal I’ll ever eat. Except now I eat it sans sugar and have a tendency to drown it in almond milk. I miss sneaking into her bedroom and going through the tray of clip-on earrings she tucked into the top drawer of her dresser. After all these years, I can still hear her lecturing me about her thoughts on pierced ears – If God wanted us to have holes in our earlobes, he’d have put them there!

Toasted coconut
Valrhona chocolate and unrefined coconut oil
Muscovado sugar

These cookies, they’re a jazzed up version of the ones we used to make together. I can still picture her standing at the kitchen counter, hunched over the mixing bowl trying to scrape every last bit of shortening from the measuring cup. She’d spoon the dough onto a baking sheet, put the cookies into the oven, then sit down at the breakfast nook and tend to her crocheting. She was always crocheting, and I was always waiting for the cookies to finish baking. Like the anxious child I was, I’d sit right in front of the oven – nose pressed up against the window – watching the cookies as they came to life.

Sometimes I close my eyes and picture myself as that blonde haired girl sitting cross-legged in front of a 350˚ oven. In this moment I can feel her sitting within arm’s reach. I can hear her humming and tapping her foot to the beat of some made up tune, and I can smell the cookies baking in the oven. This moment, it grounds me and reminds me to breathe. It reminds me that all I have to do is close my eyes and there she is, living in my memory; sitting right beside me, just as she had never left.

As the days pass, I find myself missing her more and more. I long for her wisdom and warmth, and the way she used to embrace my shoulders and kiss my forehead one thousand times. But more than anything, I long to be that small girl again, baking alongside her in the kitchen. I didn’t appreciate it much then, but those moments of baking together so perfectly illustrate my childhood. I was lucky to call her mine for thirteen whole years.

To my sweet lady in the sky, I love you immensely. And I will never stop celebrating you.

Dark chocolate coconut oatmeal cookies
Great Oma's recipe book

Notes: These cookies are delicate and more complicated than your average cookie, but they’re worth the extra effort. If dark chocolate + toasted coconut aren’t your thing, you should probably see a doctor. Just kidding – omit them and add something else. Or add nothing. The cookies can be made gluten free by replacing the spelt flour with a gluten free flour blend (I recommend 1/2 cup all purpose + 1/2 cup buckwheat), but make sure you add 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum. I use unsweetened shaved coconut, but if you plan on using that moist, stringy crap, I recommend finely chopping it first. Also, how to toast coconut.
DARK CHOCOLATE COCONUT OATMEAL COOKIES

1 cup spelt flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, softened
1/2 cup coconut milk fat
2/3 cup muscovado sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 flax egg
3/4 cup coarsely ground rolled oats
1/2 cup toasted coconut shavings
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two large baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, cream together the oil, milk fat, sugar and vanilla extract using a hand mixer on high speed; blend for 45-60 seconds. Add the flax egg and mix just until incorporated. If you can see clumps of coconut oil (which may develop when you add the cold flax egg), set the bowl on top of your warm oven and continue mixing, just until the clumps dissolve. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in two parts; stirring after each addition. Once the dough is combined, mix in the oats, coconut, and chocolate. Dough is best if wrapped in plastic and refrigerated overnight – but if you don’t have time for that, proceed to the next step. I figured most of you wouldn’t have time.

Using a medium (1 1/2 tablespoon) cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet; flatten with the palm of your hand. Their shape won’t change much in the oven, so flatten to whatever thickness you prefer. Bake at 350˚F for 8 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, then store in an air tight container for up to three days.

Yield: 30 cookies

Lazy girl peanut butter cookies

Lazy girl peanut butter cookies
Lazy girl peanut butter cookie ingredients

In case you couldn’t tell by my lack of posting, shit has hit the fan over here. I’m scrambling to put finishing touches on projects and research papers, and trying my best to refrain from using inappropriate language when I get upset or frustrated. The end is in sight, so close I can almost taste it. But unfortunately, the end being in sight means my anxiety has quadrupled and, as a result, I’ve morphed into a complete nutcase who binge eats dark chocolate, tortilla chips, and caramel covered popcorn. At the same time.

As if luring me from this place wasn’t enough, the massive amount of school work has also managed to sabotage my diet and fitness regimen. What used to be chock full of fresh fruits and vegetables now consists of junk food. Lots of it.* And don’t even get me started on the fact that I don’t remember the last time I picked up the dumbbells in my spare room.** That’s how lazy I’ve become – I cannot even be bothered to lift in the comfort of my own home.

Lazy girl peanut butter cookies

My pants like to remind me of what this type of neglect will do to a body. Little do they know, I have a secret stash of jeans for moments like this; moments that would have previously resulted in a meltdown of sorts. You know, like me throwing every pair of pants I own out of my fourth story window. Or shoveling spoonfuls of homemade cookie dough ice cream into my face while crying to the tune of Kate Winslet telling Leonardo DiCaprio she’ll never let go. But now? Now I just give my skinnies the middle finger and pull out my boyfriend jeans. Otherwise known as the jeans that were made for fat days. Or weeks. Months? I’m not judging.

*My version of junk food isn’t really junk food. I don’t want you to picture me eating corn dogs or donuts or any other stuff that is worthy of being called junk. Peanut butter is hardly junk, but I consider it so when half the jar gets eaten in one day.
**I wrote this post earlier in the week. Dumbbells were picked up yesterday. Progress.

Lazy girl peanut butter cookie pie

Oh, that thing up there? I call it lazy girl peanut butter cookie pie. It’s the result of pressing the dough into a 6″ cake pan then pouring melted chocolate (1/4 cup chocolate chips + 1 teaspoon coconut oil) over top. It’s good. You should make it.

Notes: Any type of flaked grain will work in this recipe – so far, I’ve made the cookies with kamut and quinioa. If you want to turn these into protein cookies, omit 1/2 cup of the oats and add 1/3 cup of your favorite protein powder. Cacao powder would be good, too. Every once in a while I’ll throw in a handful of cacao nibs or a pinch of cinnamon. If your dates aren’t fresh, you’ll want to soak them in water for 15-20 minutes to soften them up.

LAZY GIRL PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

2 cups rolled oats
Pinch of fine sea salt
10 medjool dates
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
6 tbsp nut milk

In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the oats and sea salt into a fine meal. Add the dates and peanut butter; blend for 30-45 seconds. Add the nut milk and pulse just until combined. Using a small cookie scoop, drop the dough onto a flat surface lined with parchment paper. Press a fork into the tops, then freeze for 15 minutes to set. Refrigerate in an air tight container for up to two weeks. Cookies will keep in freezer for months.

Yield: 2 dozen

Raw cacao nib cookies

Raw cacao nib cookies

There’s a certain level of responsibility that people expect from you as an adult. Even more responsibility when you’re an adult in a relationship with another adult. And even more (can you imagine?) when you’ve been in a relationship with aforementioned adult for five years. FIVE YEARS. You know what I’m talking about. Questions of marriage, and when we’re going to settle down and buy a house and make tiny monsters with skinny bodies and blah blah blah I CAN’T HEAR YOU. These questions make me extremely uncomfortable. They make my heart palpate and cause my hands to sweat excessively. These questions are the bane of my existence when all I want to do is fall asleep at night, but my brain keeps trying to figure out our place in this world.
I picture two lives for Thom and I. Him as a professor, me as a stay at home wife. We wear our wedding bands on our right hands because we’re both lefties. It confuses people. We have a loft in the city, similar to what we have now, and we share one of those fancy cars that emits fewer pollutants than the ones our neighbors drive. I stay up late helping him grade research papers, and wake up early to prepare a hearty breakfast for the family. Our family. We have a family that consists of more than just the two of us. I do the laundry and go to the grocery store, and iron his shirts while he’s away teaching a bunch kids who couldn’t care less about the freaking Napoleonic Wars. I bitch about folding laundry for a living. He bitches about the students and their cell phones going off in class. We lay in bed at night and dream about running away and never coming back.

Cacao nibs
Untitled
Raw cacao nib cookies in the making
Raw cacao nib cookies

And then there is the running away and never coming back. Eating our way through Italy and climbing to the base of Everest. We go fishing off the Northern coast of Iceland despite my inherent fear of the ocean, and I convince him to swim at the top of Victoria Falls, despite his fear of heights. We don’t have a mortgage, or a car payment, or anything else that restricts you to the bounds of a place. We are perpetual wanderers who find comfort in exploring every nook and cranny of this world. Antarctica is no exception. We have backpacks, heavy ones, and only the most important things fit into them – no fancy hair straightening device or bow ties or pumpkin scented candles on this adventure. This world-wandering path is full of uncertainties, but that’s just the way we like it – there is no routine, no order, or anything even remotely linear. We take life one step at a time and we are happy. So incredibly happy.
This is the point where I tell you that the former scares the shit out of me. Absolutely, positively keeps me up at night just thinking about it. The latter? It is so us. And right now, it’s the clearest it has ever been. I want to spend the rest of my life exploring this massively fascinating and wildly beautiful world. I want to meet people who bend and shape and question everything in which I’ve ever believed, and I want to do it with Thom. More than having a house or children, I want a backpack weighing heavy on my shoulders and hair that hasn’t been washed for days. And you know what? I think he wants the same thing, too.

Raw cacao nib cookies

Notes: If you’re not concerned about preserving raw status, you can replace 1 cup of the cashews with 1 cup of rolled oats, for a lower fat alternative. I achieved the flat cookie shape by scooping, rolling, then pressing the balls with the back of a spatula. (It’s borderline obsessive compulsive and completely unnecessary.) I don’t recommend using any nuts other than cashews and almonds; but you can replace the cashews with more almonds, or vice versa. If you have a vanilla bean on hand, scrape the seeds into the mixture the same time you add the nut milk. You won’t be sorry.
RAW CACAO NIB COOKIES

10 medjool dates, pitted
1 1/2 cups raw cashew pieces
1/2 cup raw almonds
1-2 tbsp raw nut milk (or water)
3-4 tbsp cacao nibs

Place the dates in a small bowl and cover with water; let soak for 15-20 minutes and set aside. In a food processor fitted with the S blade, blend the cashews and almonds into a fine meal. Once the dates have finished soaking, discard the soaking water and add the dates to the food processor. Blend for 20-30 seconds, just until the dates have combined. Add the nut milk and blend for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture forms a smooth dough.  The longer you blend, the smoother the dough will be. Remove dough from the food processor and mix in cacao nibs.
Using a small cookie scoop, drop the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze until firm, then transfer to an air tight container for storage. Cookies will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator, or several months in the freezer – but they never last that long.

Yield: about 24 cookies

Sugar cookies

Sugar cookies

I’ve never met a vegan sugar cookie I liked. You read that right, I’ve never had a good vegan sugar cookie. So a few weeks ago I changed that by creating the most flavorful, vegan sugar cookie in existence. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating, but this recipe makes some damn good sugar cookies. They’re like soft, little pillows of vanilla flavored goodness. And there’s no need to coat them in icing because they’re delicious on their own. But you can totally do that, if you’d like. I did.
The best part about these cookies isn’t the flavor – even though the flavor is spot on – it’s the fact that they’re tiny and adorable and you can eat ten without making yourself feel completely miserable. But if you’re like me you’ll find a way to do that, anyway. Like, by pulling out a jar of Justin’s chocolate hazelnut spread and eating the cookies like they’re dunkaroos. Don’t do it. I mean it. Hide the jar in your closet and and spin around 347 times. See? You forgot about the cookies becuase your head’s in the toilet throwing up your lunch. Who’s good?
DSC00242

If you’d prefer to roll out the cookie dough and use a cutter, add an additional 1/4 cup of flour. You’ll also need to chill the dough in the refrigerator for 45 minutes prior to rolling and cutting, then chill the cut dough pieces in the freezer for 10 minutes prior to baking. And these bad boys can easily be made gluten free by replacing the flour with gluten free flour and xanthan gum.
SUGAR COOKIES (GFO)

1/2 c. vegan butter
1/2 c. cane sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp vegan sour cream
Pinch of salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 c. unbleached flour
Icing
1 c. powdered cane sugar
7-8 tsp water
Sprinkles, optional

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and sour cream using a hand mixer on high speed; mix for 1-2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Mix in the salt, baking soda and flour; beat just until combined. Using a 1 1/2 teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with sanding sugar, if desired. Bake at 350˚F for 8-9 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. To make the icing, stir together the powdered sugar and water. Dip the top of each cookie into the icing and cover with sprinkle. Store in an air tight container for up to five days.
Yield: 65-70 bite sized cookies

Gingerbread folk

Gingerbread folk

Lately, I’ve got a slight obsession with bite sized cookies. It all started when I purchased a 1 1/2 teaspoon cookie scoop and, as a result, felt the need to bake bite sized cookies for days on end. I made bite sized gingersnaps, bite sized raw cookies, bite sized chocolate crinkles, bite sized sugar cookies. Bite sized everything. Then, while I was searching for my gingerdead man cookie cutter, I discovered these mini gingerbread folk at the bottom of what is, admittedly, a large container that houses every cookie cutter I own. Friends, I fear the bite sized madness is never going to end. But that’s ok, because everything’s better when it fits perfectly into your mouth. And no, that was not a sexual connotation. Or was it?

Perverts.

GINGERBREAD FOLK (GFO)

1/2 c. vegan butter
1/2 c. cane sugar
1/2 c. unsulphured molasses
3 tbsp soft silken tofu
3/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 c. unbleached flour

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and molasses, using a hand mixer on high speed, for 20-30 seconds. Beat in the tofu (or sour cream), ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and baking soda, just until combined. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the flour 1/2 cup at a time. Once you’ve added 2 cups, start mixing in the flour 1/4 cup at a time. If the dough feels firm enough after 2 1/4 cups of flour have been added, omit the last 1/4 cup.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper; set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and lightly sprinkle with flour. Roll out half of the dough until it is 1/4″ thick. Cut dough and transfer pieces to the prepared baking sheet; chill in freezer for 5 minutes prior to baking. Bake at 350˚F for 6-7 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack then store in an air tight container for up to five days.
Yield: 100+ mini gingerbread folk