Lemon Lime Pistachio White Chocolate Cookies

Lemon Lime White Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

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Lemon Lime White Chocolate Pistachio Cookies is a mouthful of a name. I get it. But these utterly delightful, bright cookies just scream Spring! They have the fresh, bright burst of citrus with the rich, sweetness of the white chocolate chips and added depth from the lightly toasted pistachios. Everything you could want in a cookie. Lumpy and bumpy with pistachios and chips. Crispy at the edges with a soft center! And oh, how they smell!

I saw Valerie Bertinelli make her version of these and instantly knew that I wanted to try them. Anything with citrus has my attention even though I have never been a white chocolate fan. Now I grew up in a candy family. My father was in the business and I know my chocolate. And it has always bugged me when I hear the term “white chocolate.” There is no such thing. It is made from cocoa butter without any cocoa solids. However, with age, I have come to accept that it is universally referred to as “chocolate” and has its place in the baking pantheon. But, to be clear, I am a very dark chocolate person. So while the ease of making these cookies, combined with the citrus were an invitation to me, I wanted something to be a counterpoint to the white chocolate. Toasted pistachios!

Therefore, I have tweaked the original recipe to suit my tastes and the result is a real winner. These delicious Lemon Lime Pistachio White Chocolate Cookies are now a new favorite and very easy to whip up.

While we may argue over whether white chocolate is truly chocolate, there is no arguing over using a quality brand. Same goes for the butter, vanilla and nuts that you use. You can taste the difference.

Let’s talk sugar for a moment. There are soooooooooooooooo many varieties available these days and they each have their place. The original recipe calls for granulated and light brown sugar. As it happens, I don’t buy light brown sugar – only dark, which has more molasses in it. However, I thought that might be a bit overpowering here. What I do happen to have is powdered jaggery, which I started using during the pandemic. It is a cane sugar with lovely caramelly notes – perfect for these and other cookies. My husband and I also really love jaggery when baking with apples and other fruit. If you are interested in trying it, jaggery is available online and through South Asian grocery stores.

Even before the pandemic, my actual travelling had become more limited. Rather than going overseas, we like to go hiking out west. So while I may stay in my armchair so to speak, instead, I travel through food. Every time I try a new recipe, spice or other ingredient, I delve into the culture and customs of another land and another people.

There is a lot of talk these days about cultural appropriation. But I happen to think that when it comes to food (and jewelry!) this should not be viewed as a negative. While I might not always succeed, I hope that I am honoring those cultures and peoples through the food that I cook and eat.

I always used to cook and bake by the seat of my pants, adding things in as I read off the recipe. But since I began my blog, I have found that taking a few extra minutes of preparation (and possibly bowls) at the front end saves me from mistakes and makes the whole process easier. The French call it “mise en place.” Everything is prepped and organized. So that is how I have written the recipe. However, if you aren’t into that, just add things in the order given directly into the mixer.

I guarantee that these cookies will become a new favorite of yours too.

After a day or so the cookies lose their crispiness. Still delicious, but if you are like me, I love when the edges are crispy and the center is soft. In order to achieve this, just place them in a 350 degree oven for a couple of minutes to refresh the cookies.

Lemon Lime White Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Recipe

Yield: About 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

Lemon Lime White Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room
temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar or jaggery
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon zest (About 1 large lemon)
2 tablespoons lime zest (About 1.5 limes)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1.5 cups white chocolate chips, preferably Ghirardelli Classic
1/2 cup lightly pan-toasted and chopped raw, unsalted pistachios

Lemon Lime White Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and line 2 or 3 rimmed baking pans with parchment or Silpat

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

Combine the sugars in a bowl and set aside.

Zest the lemon and lime(s) and set aside.

Add the softened butter and the sugars to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream them for 2 to 3 minutes or until a bit lighter in color and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Lemon Lime White Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Crack in your egg and beat until incorporated. Then add in the lemon and lime zest and the vanilla extract. Beat until evenly combined.

Add the dry ingredients in all at once and mix until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a heavy rubber spatula or wooden spoon, give a good mix from the bottom of the bowl. Toss in the pistachios and white chocolate chips and mix through.

Lemon Lime White Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Using a 1.5 Tablespoon cookie scoop (Yes, of course, you can do this with a spoon.) drop the dough onto the lined cookie pans about 2-inches apart. I was able to get 12 cookies per pan. If you use a smaller scoop, you will get more. There is no need to flatten the balls; it will happen naturally in the oven.

Lemon Lime White Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Bake each tray for about 10 to 12 minutes (less if using a smaller scoop). My oven temperature is very uneven so I turn my pans once while baking. You want to bake the cookies until the edges are golden and the center has puffed up. The cookies will deflate as they cool.

Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the pan before removing them to a cooling rack. Cool completely and enjoy!

NOTE: If you don’t wish to bake all of the cookies now, the dough can be rolled into a log, wrapped well and frozen for up to a month. Defrost the dough slightly before baking.

Saffron Pistachio Blondies

Saffron Pistachio Blondies

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These wonderfully, fragrant Saffron Pistachio Blondies will conjure up 1,001 Arabian Nights or a treat worthy of Rama and Sita. Rich with pistachios, cardamom, saffron and a hint of white chocolate, these chewy delights are even better the next day. I love desserts that I can make ahead, especially when entertaining. It’s true that depending on where you reside in the world, the ingredients that make these blondies special can be pricey. If these are beyond your budget or you are not a huge fan of saffron, please choose to make something else. Do not make substitutions. On the other hand, the amounts used are relatively small and compared to the price of something from a bakery….

The original recipe called for a cream cheese frosting, which undoubtedly would be pretty, especially if garnished with some additional chopped pistachios or rose petals. However, my husband and I aren’t really into frosting which often can simply mask a less than wonderful cake.

These Saffron Pistachio Blondies can stand on their own with no need of embellishment. Saffron lends a beautiful golden color to the batter in addition to the exceptional flavor. (I am including the recipe for the frosting below just in case you want to use it. If you are using the frosting, the blondies will require refrigeration. And the original recipe used the saffron only in the frosting. It was NOT in the cake batter as I have done here.)

And while I may not be a huge fan of cream cheese frostings, I do love to eat the Saffron Pistachio Blondies with a dollop of homemade, lightly sweetened crème fraîche. The slight tang of the cultured crème fraîche adds exactly the right counterpoint to the dense, richness of the blondie. You can sweeten the crème fraîche with a tablespoon or two of confectioner’s or icing sugar or honey.

My recipe for the blondies deviates a bit from the original in the instructions as well as a few tweaks to the ingredients. This lovely cake would be a wonderful finish for any Middle Eastern or South Asian dinner. Enjoy them soon!

Saffron Pistachio Blondies

Recipe

Servings: About 9

Saffron Pistachio Blondies

Ingredients

Saffron Pistachio Blondies

For the Blondies

¾ cup/112 grams raw, unsalted pistachios, lightly pan-toasted plus more for garnish

1 cup/130 grams all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon coarse kosher salt 

¾ teaspoon baking powder 

¾ teaspoon ground cardamom

¾ cup/173 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled 

1 ¼ packed cups/250 grams dark brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature 

½ cup/87 grams white chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper so the paper spills out over the sides of the pan to create an overhang. This will make removing the blondies a snap. (For thicker blondies, you can use an 8-inch pan. You may have to adjust the baking time slightly.)
  2. In a food processor, pulse the pistachios with the cardamom, salt, baking powder and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the total flour. Pulse until the nuts are mostly finely ground. By adding the dry ingredients to the nuts, you prevent them from becoming pasty. Add the remaining flour and pulse to combine.
  3. Add the saffron threads to the melted butter and allow to steep as the butter cools down some. Then add the brown sugar and whisk until smooth and shiny. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. The pistachio mixture gets added next. Mix with a silicone spatula to combine being careful to go to the bottom of the bowl so no flour is left unmixed. Gently stir in the white chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread in an even layer.
     
  4. Bake until the sides are brown and pull away from the pan, and the middle is slightly paler in color, 25 to 27 minutes. Ovens really vary so don’t be surprised if the blondies take longer. Mine baked for 35 minutes and then I left them in the oven for 8 more minutes with it turned off and the door left partially open. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out with a few crumbs attached. Because of the richness of the pistachios and the butter, the blondies are not likely to get dried out. So don’t be afraid to completely bake them through. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.
  5. When the blondies are cooled completely, you can lift them out of the pan. At this point, you can cut them as is or frost them. While the blondies can be eaten as soon as they are cooled, I think they are even better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to really meld.

Note: These blondies are perfect as is in my opinion. However, if you wish to up the Middle Eastern vibe a bit, you could add a few drops of rose water to the batter or frosting, if using. But be careful. Too much rose water tends to make baked goods taste like soap. My husband really dislikes rose water, so I didn’t try it. Let me know if you do in the comments and how it turns out.

For the Frosting, if using

Ingredients

½ teaspoon/.33 gram packed saffron threads

1 ½ tablespoons whole milk 

6 ounces/170 grams cream cheese, softened 

 cup/77 grams unsalted butter, softened 

 cup/93 grams confectioners’ sugar

 Pinch of coarse kosher salt 

Directions

  1. Finely grind the saffron threads in a mortar using a pestle or in a microwave-safe bowl using the back of a spoon. If needed, transfer the ground saffron to a microwave-safe bowl or to a small saucepan if you don’t have a microwave. Stir in the milk, and microwave on high or heat over medium until the mixture is frothing around the edges but not boiling, about 30 seconds. Place the bowl in the refrigerator or freezer to quickly cool the mixture.
     
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, use an electric hand or stand mixer or a heavy whisk or wooden spoon to beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. If working by hand, this takes some muscle. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt and beat again until homogeneous and no clumps of sugar remain. Beat in the cooled saffron milk until well-combined. The frosting will turn a bright golden hue.
  3. Once the bars have cooled completely, scrape the frosting over the top, and use a spatula to spread it evenly. Crush or chop some pistachios for garnish and sprinkle all over the top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before eating. The bars keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 1 month.

Poppy Seed Window Cookies

Poppy Seed Window Cookies

Poppy Seed Window Cookies are a buttery delight with the zing of blood orange marmalade. Some people think that Christmas marks the beginning of an end to cookie season. But Christmas has always been a non-event for me. I am happily and proudly Jewish and have never felt a longing for a Christmas tree or waited for Santa to come down the chimney. So I think any season is cookie season!

This type of cookie has many different names. Sometimes called “lunette” cookies by the French because they resemble eyeglasses or Occhio di Bue Biscotti in Italian which means bulls’ eye. Also similar to a linzer cookie. What they all have in common is a buttery, eggy rich cookie dough with some kind of filling. They are a wonderful cookie to gift because they hold up beautifully. Fillings are only limited by your imagination, but blood orange marmalade, which was used here, is a wonderful foil for the rich dough. I had never seen these made with poppy seed before reading a piece on cookies by Susan Spungen in the New York Times.

After reading comments and making a couple of batches, I have made a few small changes to the directions. Normally, I tend to like things well-done. I always buy the darkest, crustiest bread I can find! But despite the instructions, I found that I liked these best when they were fully baked but not yet golden. I think that it preserved the clean buttery taste and prevents them from drying out too quickly. The only change to the ingredients that I made was to add 3/4 teaspoon of pure almond extract to the dough in addition to the vanilla. Almonds, poppy seed and orange are simply a match made in heaven.

A nice thing about these cookies is that you can make the different parts over a couple of days. The dough, itself will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator if tightly wrapped. And straining the marmalade isn’t difficult, but it is slightly tedious. That can also be done separately.

Chilling the raw cookies before baking is really important. It helps keep the cookies from puffing up and spreading during baking. Since I certainly don’t have room in my fridge or freezer for a half-sheet cookie sheet, I improvised. While it is still unseasonably warm for a Chicago winter, it is cold enough on my terrace to place my cookie trays outside covered in the step before baking. Worked like a charm.

Ovens vary tremendously as will the size and thickness of your cookie. I am giving a suggested size for the cookies as well as a thickness, but you can make these with any set or shape of cookie cutters that you wish.

When making a recipe with multiple parts, I find it easiest to read it through first several times. Then I carefully measure and prep each section so that when I am ready to bake or assemble, I am not suddenly scrambling or forgetting something. Sometimes it means washing one or two extra bowls, but in the long-run it makes things much simpler to accomplish the desired results.

While the blood orange marmalade is a wonderful filling, I did play around with some extra dough that I had. Skipped the window and used Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) as the filling. Then dipped the cookies in a chocolate glaze flavored with a bit of Cointreau. AMAZING! I do need to work on my glaze a bit for it to be perfectly glossy, and my dipping technique, but it was definitely a winner. So have fun making these. And if blood orange isn’t your jam, raspberry jam would be equally delish.

Purim begins at sundown on March 16. Normally I make my delicious Queen Esther poppy seed cookies along with hamantaschen, but I think this year I might just make these instead.

Recipe

Yield: About 2 dozen sandwich cookies depending on size

Ingredients

2 ½ cups/320 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds, plus more for sprinkling

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened

⅔ cup/135 grams granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature (The whites can be saved and used in an omelet or another cookie.)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

2 tablespoons buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons milk
mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or 2 T kefir)

1 cup blood orange marmalade, with the solids strained out

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

In a medium bowl, sift your flour and baking soda. Add the poppy seeds and salt and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes – until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, vanilla and almond extracts and beat well on medium speed, scraping the bowl down as needed.

With the beater on low speed, add half of the flour mixture and just mix until barely combined. Add all of the buttermilk and the remaining flour. Beat on low speed just until combined. Then turn the speed up to medium and beat until the dough begins to clump, scraping down the sides a couple of times.

Divide the dough into 2 balls that have been flattened into disks. Wrap them in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least one hour or up until 5 days.

At any point before assembling the cookies, you can prepare the marmalade. Place spoonfuls of a good quality blood orange or other marmalade in a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Push the clear liquid part through the strainer. The solids are still edible and can be reserved or you can discard them. Cover the strained jam and set it aside until you are ready to use it.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, remove one of the disks from the fridge. It will need to warm up for about 15 minutes before you can roll it out. Flour a sheet of parchment that fits a half-sheet baking pan or a silicone mat. Roll the slightly softened dough out, adding flour as necessary until it is between 1/8 and 1/4 inches thick. If your kitchen is very warm and the dough starts to get sticky, you can always pop it in the fridge for a few minutes. Using a cookie cutter or glass that is about 2 to 2.75 inches in diameter cut out the shapes. Take half of the cut-out dough and using a cutter that is about 1.5 to 1.75 inches, cut out the centers. The cut-outs can be re-rolled along with any excess dough to make more cookies. Keep doing this until you use up the dough. The cookies will not spread much. I was able to easily get 12 cookies on a half sheet pan. When the pan is filled, lightly cover it with a towel and chill for about 15 minutes.

While the cookies are chilling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. with the rack in the middle. Bake the chilled cookies for 12 to 16 minutes or until they look done but are not yet golden. If the bottom or edges just are starting to get a bit golden, they are done! Remove the pan to a wire rack and after 2 minutes, carefully take the cookies off of the pan and place them directly on the rack to cool completely.

Continue this process until all of the dough is used or do some now and some another day. When the cookie parts are baked and fully cooled, separate your top sections (the ones with the cut-out) onto a single cooling rack or piece of parchment. Generously rain powdered (confectioner’s or icing sugar) down over them through a strainer.

Spread a generous teaspoonful of jam over the bottoms. Carefully lay a top cookie over the jam. If desired, you can sprinkle some poppy seeds over part of the visible jam in the window.

Now enjoy!

Iraqi Almond Cardamom Cookies

Iraqi Almond Cardamom Cookies

Iraqi Almond Cardamom Cookies are a perfect Passover cookie gem. Every Passover I try to add a new cookie to my repertoire. While I make a delicious chocolate Passover cake, cookies add variety and there is always something that will please even the picky eaters. And somehow when we are all shmoozing around the table picking at fruit, cookies provide just a little decadence without too much guilt or regret.

These Iraqi Almond Cardamom Cookies (Hadji Bada) are quick and easy to make, which is great when you have lots to prepare. And they are so wonderfully chewy and flavorful that you will be glad that you can whip them up whenever you get a craving for them! My husband described them as both rich AND yet very light – sweet but not cloying. The center has a satisfying chew and they will remain moist throughout the holiday – if they last that long.

Iraqi Almond Cardamom Cookies

I have seen several recipes for these cookies and they are all more or less the same. I made a few tweaks of my own which may or may not be authentic. They are, however, absolutely delicious. Kind of a cross between a French macaron and an almond macaroon, but so much easier to make. Normally the almond in the center would be a raw, natural almond with the skin on. Unfortunately, I didn’t happen to have any on hand but I did have lovely whole blanched almonds. The natural almond provides a bit more visual contrast so use it if you have them; however, the taste is delicious either way.

My husband isn’t a fan of rose water and it is easy to use too much with the result tasting like pot pourri. I found that orange blossom water on your hands gave just a slight wonderful hint of the essence that paired beautifully with the cardamom. If you truly don’t like cardamom, several recipes I saw used cinnamon instead.

For Other Passover Cookies:

Passover Sephardic Wine Cookies

Passover Florentine Cookies

Passover Orange Ginger Spice Cookies

Chocolate Chip Vegan Meringue Buttons for Passover

Passover Almond Coconut Macaroons

Recipe

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

Iraqi Almond Cardamom Cookies

2 cups finely ground almond flour (blanched or natural)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 large egg whites

A few drops of either orange blossom or rose water

24 whole raw or blanched almonds

Directions

Iraqi Almond Cardamom Cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie pans with parchment or Silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, cardamom and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites, almond extract and sugar until just combined. Stir in the almond flour until you have a smooth consistency.

Mix the rose or orange blossom drop in a shallow bowl of water. Dip your hands in the water and pinch off a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball. Place on the parchment or Silpat. Continue with all of the dough. You should have two pans of 12 with the cookies about 2-inches apart. Place a whole almond in the middle of each cookie and very gently press it into the dough.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes (ovens vary) or until the cookies are just beginning to brown around the edges. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the pan before removing to a cooling rack. Et Voila! Store in an airtight container.

Queen Esther Cookies

Queen Esther Cookies

Queen Esther Cookies are a buttery, light poppy seed cookie – perfect for Purim. This year, Purim begins at sundown on February 25. On the Hebrew calendar it is always the 13th of Adar.

Every year I look forward to making and eating these treats. And while I could easily make them anytime, I like that there are certain things I only make for certain holidays, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Purim or Pesach.

Purim, which is also called the Feast of Lots, commemorates saving the Jews of Shushan in ancient Persia, from extermination. While a tale of classic anti-Semitism, it is nevertheless a joyous festival. In non-pandemic years, both adults and children would dress up in costumes and party hard in celebration. A Purim Spiel, which is a humorous skit or play, would often be performed.

We Jews are commanded to eat, drink and be merry and to listen to the reading of the Megillah Esther. Every time the evil Haman’s name is mentioned, we all boo and hiss and wave our noisemakers to show that we are not afraid.

The Book of Esther reminds us of the brave actions of Esther and Mordecai. Mordecai refused to bow down to the evil Haman, advisor to King Ahashuerus. And Esther remained faithful to her religious traditions and the Jewish People while married to the King, who did not know that she was a Jew.

Chag Purim Sameach!

Queen Esther Cookies are named after the woman who spoke to the King on behalf of her People despite the real danger to herself. Esther revealed Haman’s evil plot to destroy the Jews (and that she herself was a Jew). She was able to convince the King to reverse his decree, thereby saving the Jews of Shushan.

It is customary to give out baskets of food and treats to the poor, although over time, it has also become common to make them for friends and family. These cookies are always a welcome addition, along with the more well-known Hamentaschen. Both recipes come from The New Jewish Holiday Cookbook by Gloria Kaufer Greene.

Redolent with vanilla and almond extract, Queen Esther Cookies, also known as Mohn Kichelah, which simply means poppy seed cookie in Yiddish, keep well in an airtight tin or container. So enjoy them even when the holiday is over! And you don’t have to be Jewish to love these little beauties.

Recipe

Yield: Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on size

Queen Esther Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter or margarine, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute

1 Tablespoon water

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Scant 1/3 cup poppy seeds

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

Happy Purim!

Directions

These can be made by hand, but it is much easier to use either a standing mixer or a food processor.

Cream well the butter (margarine) and sugar until they are light and fluffy – about 3 minutes. Mix in the water, egg, vanilla and almond extract. Then pulse in the poppy seeds and baking powder.

Add the flour and mix to form a very stiff dough. These cookies can be made into a dropped cookie or rolled out and cut with a cookie cutter, which is what I do. If you are planning to roll them out, then form the dough into a thick disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight. It should be quite firm. If you are making drop cookies, then use the dough immediately.

Queen Esther Cookies

When you are ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment and coat with non-stick spray. You can also use a Silpat, which doesn’t require any spray.

Roll out the refrigerated dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick. You can cut out the cookies free-hand or use a cookie cutter in any shape that you like. Re-roll scraps and continue cutting out cookies until all of the dough is used up. If the dough begins to get too soft to handle, simply place it in the fridge until it firms up.

Place the cut-out dough onto the baking sheets about 1/2-inch apart. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or until they are lightly browned at the edges. Ovens vary and it will also depend on how thinly you actually rolled out the dough etc. Mine ended up taking about 16 minutes this time…. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Queen Esther Cookies

I have never made these as a drop cookie, but the instructions say to drop by teaspoonfuls onto the cookie sheet. Then flatten the mounds slightly with a fork, your fingertips or the bottom of a glass. Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Queen Esther Cookies

Tahini Swirl Brownies

Tahini Swirl Brownies

Tahini Swirl Brownies – fudgy, rich and deeply decadent. Don’t we all need them now? The temperatures have dropped into the single digits (we’re talking Fahrenheit!) It’s been snowing. And, yes, there is still a pandemic going on. I don’t know about you, but sometimes all you can do is eat chocolate – the extra dark, rich and not overly sweet kind. You know, the one that’s good for depression. Yes, that one.

I’ve been binge watching YouTube cooking shows and I came across one called Milk Street. The host is Christopher Kimball, who I had never heard of before, although he is the co-founder, editor and publisher of America’s Test Kitchen. Not the most dynamic of hosts, if I am being honest. However, I happened to turn on the episode where they were making these brownies. Having made Ottolenghi’s Tahini and Halva Brownie before, which my husband liked more than I did, I was curious what these were like. I was immediately attracted to the simplicity of the ingredients and the process in this recipe. So I decided to try the Milk Street version. And I am very glad that I did! Can you say scrumptious?

By now, no one is surprised to see tahini in dessert recipes. Actually, I’m kind of surprised that I haven’t come across tahini ice cream in the US. It’s ubiquitous in Israel and I’m a fan. Tahini is kind of like peanut butter’s more sophisticated sister. Don’t get me wrong, like most Americans I grew up loving peanut butter. As a child it was Skippy’s or Jif. Now that I’m older, I prefer the kind without any sugar or other additives. But there is a lovely slight bitterness to tahini that cuts through the sweetness and pairs beautifully with chocolate. Tahini enhances the earthiness in the chocolate in much the same way that adding coffee does.

There is nothing terribly tricky about this recipe, but you must use quality ingredients. You want a good bittersweet chocolate, which is no less than 64% cocoa and probably no more than 70%. And a quality Dutch-processed cocoa. I happen to love Valrhona for baking, but there are many fine cocoas available. As important as the chocolate elements are, the tahini you use is equally essential. Some brands are very bitter and taste simply awful. Two brands that I like are Soom and Seed & Mill, both of which are easily available online. (And no, I do not get paid to promote products. I probably should, but I don’t.)

Once your ingredients are assembled, the rest is pretty straight-forward. I did follow the instructions about swirling the tahini on top, but I think next time I might choose to just marble the chocolate through the tahini mixture instead. You probably can’t go wrong either way. Frankly, the only difficult part of this recipe is waiting until the brownies have cooled sufficiently before cutting and eating them. They smell simply wonderful!

You don’t need an excuse to make these, but I think we all probably have several at the ready. It’s been an awful year and we’re still in for a long haul. So treat yourself and your friends and loved ones. Make these tonight. I promise that you’ll thank me.

For other delicious brownie recipes:

Fudgy Brownies with Beets and Walnuts

Tahini and Halva Brownies

Java Brownies (Still my personal favorite)

Recipe

Yield: About 15 Brownies (A little goes a long way)

When I first read that an 8-inch pan yielded 15 brownies, I thought they were crazy. But the fact is that 2-inch brownies are really the right size. These are quite rich. And if you decide to eat two – well, I won’t tell.

Ingredients

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter, plus more for the pan (I don’t generally use salted butter and unsalted seemed to work just fine for me.)

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped or shaved (I used a 70% cocoa. I would not go lower than 64% or higher than 70%.)

3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

3 large eggs

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (223 g) granulated white sugar

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (180 g) tahini

1/3 cup (47 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour

Sea salt flakes for garnish (Optional – I didn’t use them or feel the lack, but if you really like adding salt to everything, go for it.)

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. with a rack in the middle position of the oven. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with 2 pieces of foil, leaving about a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Lightly brush with additional butter.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, just melt the butter. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate and cocoa until smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt until slightly thickened – about a minute. Whisk in the tahini. Fold in the flour until just incorporated.

Transfer 1/2 cup of the tahini mixture to a small bowl. Add the chocolate mixture to the remaining tahini mixture and fold in until fully combined. Alternatively, do not set aside the tahini, and simply take the chocolate mixture and marble it through the tahini mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. If you decided to set aside the 1/2 cup of tahini, dollop it over the top into 6 puddles. Using the tip of a sharp knife, drag it through the tahini dollops, first in one direction and then the other. (I admit that I am no expert in this, but it still worked out pretty well.)

Bake just until the edges are set but the center is still slightly moist. Ovens vary, so start checking at 25 minutes. I baked mine for 28 minutes, but even a couple of minutes less would have been okay. Cool on the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. The longer they cool, the easier they are to cut. Cut into about 2-inch squares. Enjoy.

Rye Molasses Ginger Cookies

Rye Molasses Ginger Cookies

Rye Molasses Ginger Cookies are the spicy, warming cookies we need this winter. I’ve never been a huge fan of overly spicy, hot foods. When something makes the sweat pour out and my eyes stream, all other flavors are subsumed – for days! However, give me something well-seasoned and you have my attention. I love the fiery bite that ginger adds to almost any dish. It could wake the dead but somehow never kills the tastebuds. And hand me a piece of crystallized ginger – spicy and sweet, making my tongue tingle and my tastebuds stand up and cheer – and I’ll be your friend. Make it ginger covered in dark chocolate – and I’ll give you a hug.

As if the taste of ginger alone weren’t sufficient, ginger is a wonderful digestif, the perfect end to any meal that might have proved a bit rich or heavy. It’s been known to be an effective antidote to seasickness and morning sickness or just an iffy tummy. For me – well, I just love the taste and mouth sensation that ginger produces.

So when I saw this recipe on the King Arthur website for Rye Molasses Ginger Cookies, I knew that I just had to try them. And the fact that it also helped me to use up some of that rye flour that I bought way too much of in a moment of madness with visions of rye breads and pumpernickel dancing in my head is an added bonus.

Rye Molasses Ginger Cookies

It’s another dreary winter Sunday. My husband is making pizza for dinner and while his dough is proofing, I decided to make these cookies for dessert. They take no time at all to put together and thankfully I had all of the ingredients on hand. I learned the trick many years ago about adding freshly cracked black pepper to spice cookies so I was pleased when I saw the pepper already in the recipe.

I followed the recipe exactly; however, I did use a cookie scoop that was a bit larger than the one listed. Is anyone going to complain because their cookie is a little larger? I mean REALLY??! So while the cookie yield is not huge, there are more than enough to satisfy any cravings. All I need is a cold glass of milk. But if your thing is tea or coffee, you won’t be disappointed.

Because these cookies stay soft and chewy, rather than growing hard, they are perfect for using in homemade ice cream sandwiches. Just use a good quality vanilla ice cream in the middle and get ready for a real treat.

Rye Molasses Ginger Cookies

A couple of notes before getting started. I got into weighing my ingredients over the past year whenever a recipe gave me that option. It really has been a game changer. No matter how you scoop or pack your flour or sugar or ricotta etc., 150 grams is 150 grams if you weigh it out. Now I know that Americans are not used to weighing ingredients and depending on what I am making, I still use cup measures. But whenever possible I now provide both options for you.

This recipe called for “medium” rye flour. Whether you use medium or dark or light, the cookie will be delicious. It also calls for “molasses” but doesn’t specify “light” or “full-flavored” or “robust.” I used full-flavored molasses because I happen to like that full-bodied taste. The only thing I wouldn’t use is “black-strap” molasses. And if you have treacle but no molasses, you could use that instead. They will all work.

Rye Molasses Ginger Cookies

Do make sure that your spices are fresh. This recipe cries out for robust spices and tired cardamom or ginger that has been in your cabinet for years just won’t cut it. When a recipe calls for “vegetable oil” I almost always choose Canola Oil, but you could use corn or safflower oil if that is what you have. I would not use peanut, olive or any oil with a strong flavor for this recipe. They have their place in baking but this isn’t it. Okay, so now – bake!

Recipe

Rye Molasses Ginger Cookies

Yield: About 18 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (212g) medium rye flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 3/4 cup (149g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (99g) vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (85g) molasses

Coating

  • 1/3 cup (76g) coarse sparkling sugar (sanding sugar) or 1/3 cup (66g) granulated sugar

Directions

Rye Molasses Ginger Cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.
  2. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, using either a hand whisk, an electric mixer, or a stand mixer, whisk the sugar and oil until combined.
  5. Add the egg and whisk until smooth. Stir in the molasses. Then add the dry ingredients to the bowl and stir until well combined.
  6. Use a spoon (or a tablespoon cookie scoop) to portion 1 1/4″ balls of dough. (My cookie scoop was 1.5 Tablespoons so I got fewer than the 22 cookies and my resulting cookies were larger.)
  7. Roll the dough balls in granulated or sparkling sugar to coat before placing onto the prepared baking sheets. (The dough will be somewhat sticky, but it’s fine.) Leave 2″ between them on all sides; they’ll spread as they bake.
  8. Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until they’re puffed and their edges are set and the tops look crackly.
  9. Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool completely right on the pan.  
  10. Store cookies, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

German Chocolate Cookies

German Chocolate Cookies

German Chocolate Cookies are gooey dark chocolate, sweet toasted coconut and pecans. ‘Nuf said.

While I may enjoy a good piece of layer cake, it doesn’t make much sense to make one for only two people. And most cakes that I like have a buttercream frosting or a chocolate ganache and require refrigeration. This is TOTALLY unrealistic for me. Unlike TV cooking personalities, I don’t have an empty spare refrigerator only filled with the ingredients for a single dish. I live in the real world.

So when my husband and I are craving a delicious German Chocolate Cake, I will turn to these German Chocolate Cookies instead. I came across this recipe in the New York Times. Interesting piece of cooking trivia – German Chocolate Cake isn’t German at all. It’s named after an American chocolate maker, Samuel German. Okay, German Chocolate Cookies aren’t an exact substitute for the cake, but they are awfully satisfying. And with cookies, there is never any waste.

If I am making something sweet, I like to balance it out with either a tart citrus or a darker chocolate. You could buy a 64% to 70% chocolate and chop it up yourself or you could take the lazy way out like I did and simply use a dark chocolate chip. Once you could only buy semi-sweet chips, but now you can easily find milk chocolate, sugar-free chocolate, flavored chocolate and dark chocolate.

And while you can easily toast your own coconut, I bought already toasted, sweetened coconut from Nuts.com, my go-to store for nuts, dried fruits and all kinds of wonderful ingredients and hard-to-find items. If you want to cut the sweetness even further, swap out unsweetened coconut for the sweetened coconut.

I have never outgrown my love of milk – real dairy milk. To me, NOTHING beats cookies and milk. So you can have yours with coffee, tea or dessert wine, but I’ll be enjoying my German Chocolate Cookies with a cold glass of milk!

These cookies would make a lovely gift over the holidays, packaged in a nice tin.

For other great cookie treats to fill that tin:

Italian Polenta Cookies

Vegan Italian Chocolate Cookies

Lavender Mint Shortbread Cookies

Chewy Molasses Cookies

Tehina Shortbread Cookies

Who doesn’t LOVE cookies?

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lemoniscious Ricotta Cookies

Ma’Amoul – Moroccan Stuffed Tartlets

Recipe

German Chocolate Cookies

Yield: About 30 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup/128 grams all-purpose flour
½ cup/47 grams Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons/113 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
½ cup/101 grams granulated sugar
½ cup/110 grams packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups/128 grams lightly toasted, sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup/170 grams chopped bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
1 cup/119 grams chopped pecans

Directions

Step 1
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour,
cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter,
granulated sugar and brown sugar together with an electric mixer on
medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla
until smooth.

German Chocolate Cookies


Step 2
Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour mixture. Add coconut,
chocolate and pecans and mix to just combine.

German Chocolate Cookies


Step 3
Portion the dough in 2 tablespoon scoops and roll them into balls.
Place them on parchment-lined baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies until dry on top but still soft in the center, about 10
minutes, turning once unless you have a convection oven. The cookies will not have spread much, so just go by how the surface looks. Remove from the oven and immediately tap the sheets against a work surface to deflate them slightly. Alternatively you could use a flat spatula to lightly press down on the cookies to flatten some. Allow the cookies to sit on the sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Lemoniscious Ricotta Cookies

Lemoniscious Ricotta Cookies are rich, moist and citrusy bright. These perfect cookies are easy to make and even better to eat. As anyone who reads my blog knows, I LOVE lemons. And for me, there is no better finale to a delicious (or even not so wonderful) meal than a good dessert. Of course, these cookies would also be a wonderful accompaniment to afternoon tea. These lovely morsels are really mini-cakes and oh, so satisfying.

One bite and you get the sweet, moistness of the cake with a burst of fresh lemon. If you look back on recent posts of mine, you might detect a trend. That’s right – ricotta! It’s a lovely, creamy cheese along the lines of a farmer’s cheese. While it comes in low-fat versions, I only like to use whole milk ricotta in desserts. If you are lucky enough to live where hand-packed ricotta is available, that only needs a little vanilla extract, honey and cinnamon to make a delicious and quick dessert. Add some fresh berries and/or drizzle with some melted chocolate to make it a bit more decadent and a perfect no-bake dessert.

This cookie comes together quickly and there is no chilling of dough. You simply make the batter and bake it up. The recipe comes from Giada De Laurentiis. I am not generally a fan of hers but after a couple of tweaks, I have made a few things that have turned out well. And this is one recipe that you definitely should give a try.

For more delicious lemony desserts, try these:

Tarte Citron Mama

Lemon Semolina Almond Cake

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

Perfect Lemon Chess Pie

Recipe

Yield: About 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

For the Cookies

2.5 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs

15 oz. whole milk ricotta

3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Zest of 1 large lemon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Glaze

1.5 cups of powdered or icing (Confectioner’s) sugar

3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Zest of 1 large lemon

Directions

For the Cookie

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Using a large bowl, combine the butter and granulated sugar. Using a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. (This can be done by hand as well.) Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well. Now add the ricotta, vanilla, lemon juice and zest and beat well to combine.

Stir in the dry ingredients. Do not over beat. Mix until everything is incorporated.

Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Spoon about 2 Tablespoons of batter for each cookie. The cookies will spread some so leave about 2 inches of space between. Bake until the cookies are just becoming golden at the edges. The original recipe said 15 minutes, but mine were a bit bigger than Giada’s and all ovens are different. My cookies ultimately took about 23 minutes. So keep an eye on them after about 18 minutes. They are so moist that it is difficult to over bake them. You do want the bottom to be golden and just barely dry.

Allow the cookies to cool on wire racks. After they are cool, you can glaze the cookies.

For the Glaze

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon or spatula to gently spread.

While the cookies can be eaten almost immediately after glazing, I would not pack them away until the glaze is truly dry which takes about 2 hours. It’s best to pack them with waxed or parchment paper between layers. The cookie cakes will continue to get moister and you don’t want them to stick to one another.

Anzac Biscuits with Cranberries

I enjoy reading David Lebovitz’s blog and as soon as this recipe came through this morning, I knew that I had to try it. Anzac Biscuits with Cranberries (Cranzac Cookies) is the perfect Covid 19 treat. This sweet cookie which is popular in Australia and New Zealand doesn’t require any eggs or out-of-the-way ingredients. And if you don’t have cranberries or don’t like them, swap in raisins or other moist dried fruits. Don’t have Golden Syrup, use corn syrup. No dark brown sugar, use light brown sugar.

So what are Anzac Biscuits exactly? They are an oatmeal cookie that supposedly was sent by loving wives, mothers and sisters to their soldiers serving abroad during WWI. The cookies held up well to naval transportation. Some stories claim that the cookies were not sent to soldiers but instead were sold at home to raise funds for the war effort. Whatever the true story, everyone will agree that they are a lovely cookie, as we Americans would say, that are perfect for a lunchbox, afternoon tea or healthyish dessert. I love them with a glass of milk but they go equally well with tea or coffee.

Anzac Biscuits with Cranberries has a wonderful toasty, almost nutty flavor even though there are no actual nuts in the recipe. The cranberries lend just the slightest amount of tartness which plays off perfectly with the sweetness. Each flavor element is present with every bite. You have the coconut, the oatmeal, cranberry and that slight hint of molasses from the brown sugar. I would definitely recommend using the Golden Syrup if you can find it although Corn Syrup should work. Golden Syrup is made from pure cane sugar and has a wonderful, clean taste. Don’t get me wrong. I am not one of those who thinks that Corn Syrup is nothing short of devil worship. I swear by it for my Bourbon Pecan Pie. But I have also come to appreciate Golden Syrup.

Aside from the fact that these cookies are absolutely delicious and don’t require any eggs, they also can easily be put together by hand. I even ended up using my hands (immaculately clean, of course) to do the final mixing and forming. There is not a lot of binder in this recipe and so in order for the cookies to form, I found that I needed to pack them a bit by hand. Children should love helping with this part. The resulting cookie is surprisingly moist, with just the right amount of chewiness.

Make these wonderful Anzac Cookies with Cranberries as a treat for your family (or just yourself) or as a special thank you for our soldiers on the front lines of the fight against Covid 19. Bake a batch tonight.

PS: My husband said to be sure to tell you that these cookies taste way better than they even look!

NOTE: While David didn’t mention it and I didn’t try it this way, I really don’t see why the cookies couldn’t be made with a good quality non-dairy buttery product to keep them vegan.

Recipe

Yield: 26 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup (95g) old-fashioned (rolled) oats, not quick-cooking

1 cup (200g) packed dark brown sugar

1 1/4 cups (175g) all-purpose flour

1 cup (90g) unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup (60g) dried cranberries

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted or salted butter, melted

1/4 cup (60ml) golden syrup

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC.) Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. (If you want to bake them all off at once, you can using two baking sheets, although there will likely be enough dough left to bake more. Since I was able to fit 1 dozen cookies/pan, my last batch was only 2 cookies.)

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, flour, coconut, dried cranberries, baking soda, and salt. Add the water, melted butter, and golden syrup and stir until everything is well combined. (I ended up using my hands to fully combine things since there isn’t a lot of binder here. It will come together but the dough is a bit crumbly.)

Using your very clean hands, or a spring-loaded ice cream scoop, shape the dough into 1 1/4-inch (3cm) balls. Place them evenly spaced apart (about 1- inch/3cm) on the prepared baking sheet(s) and use your hand to flatten each mound of dough so they are about half as high as they originally were. (About 2- inches/5cm.) (As mentioned above, I ended up packing the dough firmly with my hands and then slightly flattening the cookies. They do not spread a great deal.)

Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheet(s) in the oven, until they are lightly browned across the top, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from oven and when cool enough to handle, use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack.

Storage: The cookies will keep for up to five days in an airtight container at room temperature. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to three months.