Brown Butter Cookies and Cream Blondies

Brown Butter Cookies and Cream Blondies

Ingredients

2 sticks (16tbs/226g) (or 13tbs/185g if not browning) unsalted butter
¾ cup (150g) dark brown sugar
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
2 ¼ cups (293g) all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp fine grain kosher or sea salt
2 large bars (4oz each) Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Cream Chocolate
18-20 (230g) Oreos, roughly chopped

Directions

Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally. (Turn off the heat here if you’re skipping the browning!) After melting, it will start to simmer and look foamy. Swirl some more. The foam will start to clear, and the solids at the bottom will begin to brown. It should take 10-12 minutes to start seeing some nice brown bits. Immediately pour into the bowl of your stand mixer, or a large bowl if you’re using a hand mixer, and allow to cool.

Heat oven to 350°. Prepare a 13×9″ baking pan by lining with parchment paper, leaving a few inches to hang over each side to use as “handles” for removing the blondies when they’re done baking. Give the paper a good spritz with nonstick spray.

In a small mixing bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

In stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or a bowl with a hand mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar for 1-2 minutes until lighter in color and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat another 2 minutes, scraping down the sides if necessary.

Gradually add in the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined and no flour pockets remain. Stir in the chopped Oreo cookies and cookies n’ cream chocolate with a large spatula, saving some of the goodies to put on the top of the bars before baking (because it’s pretty ☺️). Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and top with remaining chocolate and cookies.

Bake blondies until the edges are just golden, about 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly or completely clean. Cool completely on a wire rack, and then cut into squares. Enjoy!

Full Pan Cookies and Cream Blondies

Pizza al Taglio (Thick Crust Pizza)

Pizza al Taglio (Thick Crust Pizza)

Ingredients

Dough
1 cup warm water (110°-120° is the optimal range for yeast growth)
1 tsp honey
1 rounded tsp active dry yeast (not instant yeast)
2 tbsp olive oil (plus 3 tbs for oiling the pan)
1 ¼ cup (163g) all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cup (163g) 00 (extra fine) flour (if you don’t have/can’t find 00 flour, the same amount of all-purpose flour will be fine)
1 ½ tsp fine kosher or sea salt
No-Cook Pizza Sauce
28 oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes
2 tbsp minced fresh basil (if using dry basil, decrease to 2 tsp)
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp brown sugar (dark or light)
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
The Rest of the Story
1 lb sliced whole milk mozzarella cheese (deli sliced, not fresh mozzarella, which is too wet)
8-12 oz natural casing pepperoni, cut in 1/8 inch slices (or as much as it takes to completely cover your pizza!)
4 oz (115g) grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Directions

Generously oil or butter a metal 13×9″ baking pan (preferably a darker, nonstick pan. Never glass.) Pour 3 tbs of olive oil in the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, stir together lukewarm tap water, honey, yeast, and olive oil. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until it becomes foamy on top and smells “bready”. Stir into flour and salt in a medium bowl. Knead with your hands or a wooden spoon until just combined, approximately 2-3 minutes, then let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.

If your kitchen is cold, turn on your oven light while you complete this step to warm it up a little for when we leave it to rise. Seems like a small thing. but it works! Knead the dough for 3 minutes, on a lightly floured counter, until smooth. Place in your generously oiled baking pan. Before covering with plastic wrap, spray the dough side of the plastic with nonstick spray. Cover with the wrap and let rest and rise in the oven (not on!), or another warm spot, for 1 hour.

After an hour, remove the plastic wrap and set aside. using oiled hands and working as gently as possible to maintain air bubbles, push and stretch dough into the corners of the pan by pressing out from the center and nudging it to the edges of the pan. It will bounce back, but just keep gently nudging and you should get it to stay pretty close to all edges and corners. Re-cover with the plastic and let rise another 2-3 hours, or until it is about halfway up the sides of the pan. When it’s ready, set aside on the counter while you preheat the oven and make the sauce.

Preheat oven to 500°. If you have an oven that heats from the bottom, set the rack to the lowest level. If you have a baking steel or a pizza stone, warm that up with the oven to place the pan on while baking (it’s all about that crust folks!)

Pour the can of tomatoes into a medium bowl. Using your hands (the best tools!) crush the tomatoes as small as possible. Mix all the other ingredients in and allow to sit for about 10 minutes for the herbs to bloom and the flavors to marry. Slice your pepperoni and sneak a few pieces while you wait for the oven to heat up.

Shingle the mozzarella across the entire surface of the pizza dough, going all the way to the edges.

Spoon the sauce over the top. You want to cover the cheese, but not make it soupy. You won’t use all the sauce, but it’ll be delicious added to pasta later in the week!

Sprinkle with grated Pecorino Romano cheese, reserving some for after it comes out of the oven, if you’d like. Evenly cover the top with pepperoni slices, giving really good coverage. Remember, pepperoni shrinks, so you want to really cover the whole pizza!

Bake at 500° for 20-25 minutes or until pepperoni is curled into cups and filled with that delicious grease (yay!) and cheese edges are browned. Run a thin metal spatula or thin paring knife all the way around the edges of the pan to loosen the pizza. Carefully lift it out using 2 spatulas and slide it onto a cutting board.

Let cool for a little bit (it’s molten lava under there) and then slice into big ol’ squares. Serve with more romano. Enjoy that crispy cheese skirt on the side. Share if you’re feeling generous. Don’t share if it’s been a rough week.

Pecan Turtle Shortbread Bars

Pecan Turtle Shortbread Bars

Ingredients

Chocolate Shortbread Base
2 cups (260g) all purpose flour
¼ cup (21g) unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup (100g) brown sugar (light or dark)
½ cup (50g) powdered sugar
½ tsp fine grain kosher or sea salt
¾ cup (170g or 12 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, diced
Turtle Filling
¾ cup (150g) brown sugar (dark or light)
¾ cup (170g or 12 tbsp) unsalted butter
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream
1 ½ cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
Finishing Touches
8 oz (225g) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream
½ cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
Flaky sea salt (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9×13″ baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some paper to hang over the sides to use as a handle for lifting the bars out of the pan later. (Always thinkin’ ahead!)

In a food processor (or with an electric mixer) mix together flour, cocoa powder, butter, sugar, and salt until fully combined and crumbly. Press evenly and firmly into the bottom of the pan and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring brown sugar, butter, salt, and cream to a boil, stirring continuously until sugar dissolves. Boil for two minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans.

Pour the caramel and pecans over the baked shortbread. Bake at 350° until caramel bubbles and darkens in color, about 18-20 minutes.

While the bars are baking, place chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate in a heat safe bowl with the heavy cream. Set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water and stir until the chocolate is melted and everything is combined and smooth. You made ganache!

Spread the ganache evenly over the caramel and pecan layer and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of pecans. Finish with flaky sea salt if desired. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Cut into slices using a warm dry knife, wiping between slices. I do this by dipping the knife in a tall glass filled with hot water and drying it on a towel then slicing. Slice, dip, dry, repeat, EAT!

Ham and Swiss Buttermilk Biscuits

Ham and Swiss Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients

2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp fine grain kosher or sea salt
½ cup (113g or 1 stick) cold 🥶unsalted butter, cut in cubes
¾ cup (180g) cold buttermilk
4 oz Swiss cheese
4 oz ham
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp honey
Pinch of kosher or sea salt
Flaky sea salt (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°. Put your butter cubes in the freezer to get ’em nice and chilly while you do these next couple steps.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or (my preference) lightly butter a cast iron pan and set aside.

Finely dice both the Swiss cheese and the ham and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.

Toss the butter cubes into the dry ingredients and, using a pastry cutter or your fingers, mix in the cold butter until you have a mixture of flat pieces and crumbly bits of butter mixed into the flour. Using a pastry cutter helps make sure you don’t accidentally warm the butter too much with your hands.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the cold buttermilk. Gently mix it together with a spatula or your hands until you have a fairly uniform loose dough. It won’t look all mixed in and that’s okay. It will come together. Have faith!

Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pile it up and push the dough together until you can pat it into a big square. With a bench scraper or knife, cut into four smaller squares. Sprinkle the ham and Swiss on three of the squares.

Stack the pieces of biscuit dough on top of each other, finishing with the plain one on top. Smush it all down into a square again (the ham and Swiss will be all snugged into the layers). Repeat this cutting and stacking procedure 3 more times. This is how you form your flaky layers!

Pat or roll dough to 1-inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter (or a round drinking glass) to cut into traditional round biscuits, or you can use a knife or the bench scraper to make square biscuits. If you use a biscuit cutter or drinking glass, dip it in flour first to make sure it doesn’t stick too much. And remember: Do not twist as you cut the dough or you’ll squash all the layers you created with the stacking technique!

If you have time, place the biscuits in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up the butter before baking. Remember, cold butter creates steam in the oven that also creates layers! (See where we’re going here?)

Place the biscuits, sides touching lightly, on your parchment covered sheet tray or in your cast iron pan. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the 2 tbs melted butter mixed with 2 tbs honey and a pinch of salt. Honey butter!

Bake at 425° for 18-20 minutes or until nicely browned on top. Brush with more honey butter as soon as they come out of the oven. Sprinkle with a bit of flaky sea salt for a nice salty sweet combo, if you like. Let cool a bit before eating. Just a bit.

We made beautiful Ham and Swiss Biscuits! We’re amazing! Now, let’s eat.

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Brownies

Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Brownies

Ingredients

Brownie Base
½ cup (113g or 1 stick) unsalted butter
3 oz (85g) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% is good), coarsely chopped
1 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee crystals
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) brown sugar (dark or light)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup (98g) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (75g) dark (or dutched) cocoa powder
½ tsp fine grain kosher or sea salt
½ tsp baking powder
Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Layer
1 ½ cups (255g) semi-sweet chocolate (either chips or chopped chocolate will work)
1 ½ cups (405g) creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 ½ cups (40g) Rice Krispies cereal
1 cup chopped peanut butter cups

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add chocolate and espresso to the melted butter and stir until melted and well mixed. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes as you prepare your pan.

Spray a 9X13″ baking pan with non-stick spray and line with parchment paper, allowing some to hang over the sides to act as handles for lifting the brownies out at the end.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder together in a bowl. Set aside. Now you have a saucepan with the chocolate mixture, and a bowl with a flour mixture. Got it? Good.

Whisk the sugars into the chocolate mixture until fully combined. Add in eggs and whisk well. Fold the flour mixture in by hand just until the last bits of flour have completely mixed in.

Spread into prepared pan (it’s a thin layer) and bake in 350° oven for 15-20 minutes, turning the pan around half way through. Once the time’s up, check it with a toothpick. Just poke it in to the center. If it comes out with just a bit of chocolate crumbs, you’re good. If it’s got some extra gooey bits on it, give it a few more minutes and check again. Allow to cool on a wire rack while you prepare the top layer.

In a heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt chocolate, peanut butter, and coconut oil, mixing until smooth. Fold in the cereal. Spread mixture in a smooth layer on top of brownies and sprinkle with the chopped peanut butter cups. Lightly press the larger pieces to adhere to the surface. Chill for at least 90 minutes in the refrigerator or overnight on the counter before cutting and serving.

Cast Iron Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Cast Iron Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients

1 cup (200g) brown sugar
½ cup (100g) granulated (white) sugar
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract or paste
1 ½ cups (195g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp fine grain kosher or sea salt (fine grain salt disperses throughout the dough better than coarse grain)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks (you can use chips, but I like the way chunks of chocolate melt, as opposed to chips, which have added stabilizers to keep them… chippy)
flaky sea salt for garnish

Directions

Preheat oven to 375° and place your oven rack on the lowest level. Lightly butter the inside of a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet. You can use a larger or smaller one, if that’s what you have, but you’ll have to adjust your cooking time accordingly. I’ve only made this using my 9 inch pan 😬

Get all your ingredients together so we don’t get halfway through and find out we’re missing something 🙄.

In a medium bowl, mix your sugars and your softened butter together with either a wooden spoon or a hand mixer until fully combined. There’s no need to cream the butter and sugar together like you would in actual cookies. Yay!!

Add in your one egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract or paste. Whichever you have. I had paste, so I used it. Combine completely. Isn’t this easy?

Now stir in your flour, salt, and baking soda until combined no streaks are left. We want the flour fully incorporated, but don’t overmix it. When you don’t see any more white bits, you’re done.

Fold in all but about 1/4 cup of your chocolate chunks. We’ll save a bit to sprinkle over the top before baking. It makes it look really pretty! I chopped mine up a bit so that there would be different sized bits of chocolate all over the pie 😋

I have a culinary quirk. I use a rice paddle for a lot of non-rice kitchen activities, especially folding ingredients. I find its short handle and wide face gives me more control over whatever I’m working with, whether hot or cold foods. I use it when tossing pasta, a salad, or folding in chocolate chips. Like I said, quirky, but really effective. Just “tossing” that out there 😉

Spread the cookie dough all the way to the edges of your buttered pan. Lightly wetting your hands will help you spread the dough without it sticking all over you, forcing you to repeatedly lick the dough off your hands. Not sanitary. Cookie for one? Do you.

Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chunks over the top of your dough and finish with a sprinkling of flaky sea salt. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until the center is set.

Resist the urge to cut into the cookie pie for about an hour. I know, that’s asking a lot, but try.

I cut mine into wedges. Pie style. If you want, plop some ice cream in the middle and get to it. I do not judge.