Perfect Sugar Cookie

From the Flour, a cookbook and bakery in Boston by Joanne Chang. This dough is perfection. Be sure to let it rest at least an hour before baking. I rolled a half of the dough out at a time and kept the other half chilled. Every single bit of the dough rolled out into about 80 cookies. I am going to freeze the cookies and frost them as needed. Note**I prefer the frosting from my blog, Binx’s Christmas Cookies. The butter adds a glisten and it is the perfect amount for this batch of cookies.

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla
3 c. unbleached all purpose flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. kosher salt
Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment ( or a hand held mixer) cream the butter with the sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (5-10 minutes), scraping the sides and bottom often. Beat in eggs and vanilla and mix for at least 2-3 minutes, until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl often. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt until well mixed. On low speed slowly blend in flour mixture until evenly mixed. Let rest wrapped in plastic as an 8” disc at least one hour until dough is firm enough to roll out. Flour a work surface and the dought and roll out 1/4” thick. Cut out cookies and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool cookies at least 30 minutes.
Frosting-see Note** above about optional recipe
3 1/4 c. (1#) confectioners sugar
5-6 T. milk
food coloring as desired
Place powdered sugar in a medium bowl and whisk in enough milk to make a stiff icing.


Fresh Fig Cake with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

From the wonderful Melissa Clark of the NY Times. I used a fig butter from Trader’s Joes and it was delicious. I made this in a 10″ springform pan but you could also bake it in two 9″ cake pans. I only made a half recipe of the frosting as I did not split the cake horizontally and just frosted the top.

Butter, for greasing the pan
3 cups/384 grams all-purpose flour, more for flouring the pan
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 ½ cups/300 grams granulated sugar
4 large eggs
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons buttermilk or plain yogurt
¾ cup/116 grams chopped fresh figs (3 to 4 figs)
¾ cup/225 grams fig jam
¾ cup/85 grams chopped pecans or walnuts
12 tablespoons/180 grams unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
2 cups/16 ounces/454 grams cream cheese, softened
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons/60 grams honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 ⅔ cups/450 grams confectioners’ sugar
1 cup sliced fresh figs (about 5 figs)

Make the cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch cake pan (or two 9-inch pans), and line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, baking soda and salt.
Using an electric mixer, whisk to combine sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Whisk in oil and buttermilk or yogurt to combine.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold dry ingredients into egg mixture just until combined. Fold in figs, jam and pecans.
Scrape into prepared cake pan and bake until browned and springy to the touch, about 65 to 75 minutes (or 35 to 45 minutes for the 9-inch pans). If the top gets too dark before the cake is finished baking, cover it with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
While cake is cooling, make the frosting: Using an electric mixer, beat butter, cream cheese and salt on low speed until smooth. Beat in honey and vanilla, then beat in confectioners’ sugar.
To assemble the cake, remove cooled cake from pan and peel off parchment paper. Slice cake in half horizontally, so you end up with 2 layers. (You don’t need to do this for the 9-inch cakes.) Spread half the frosting between the layers, sandwiching it. Dollop remaining frosting in a thick layer on top of the cake, leaving a 1-inch border on the top of the cake, the sides, bare. Chill until ready to serve. Just before serving, top with sliced figs.

Salted Peanut Butter Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookie

This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen’s latest email. Once you have prepped all of the ingredients, the cookie dough comes together quickly. You cannot go wrong with this cookie-it is full of wonderful tastes and textures!

1 ¼ cups (6 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (3 ounces) quick oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups packed (8 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar
⅔ cup crunchy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 ½ ounces pretzel sticks, coarsely crushed (2/3 cup)
Flake sea salt


These hearty cookies have something for everyone—they’re chewy, crunchy, salty, and sweet.
1. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add peanut butter, egg, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
2. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture; continue to mix until just combined. Add chocolate chips and pretzels and mix until just incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
3. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 2 tablespoons chilled dough at a time, roll into 1 1/2-inch balls and space them evenly on prepared sheets, 12 per sheet. Press each ball to 3/4-inch thickness using bottom of greased dry measuring cup.
4. Bake until puffed and cracks just form on top, 11 to 13 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt, then transfer to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely before serving.

Granola Bark

From the new Tartine All Day cookbook. This is my latest favorite cookbook and it is chock full of wonderful recipes! The bark is good for snacking and the crumbs are perfect for ice cream!

1½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
3 cups Rolled Oats, not quick-cooking
1¼ cups Almonds, chopped
1¼ cups Shredded Coconut, unsweetened
½ cup Flax or Chia Seeds, whole or ground
¼ cup Sesame Seeds
½ cup Almond or Hazelnut Flour
½ cup Maple Syrup or Honey, or ¼ cup of each
½ cup Coconut Sugar
¼ cup Water
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
½ teaspoon Sea Salt
⅓ cup Olive or Vegetable Oil
1 Large Egg White, whisked until frothy

Combine the cinnamon, oats, almonds, coconut, flax or chia seeds, sesame seeds and almond flour or hazelnut flour in a large bowl.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 13 x 18 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Combine the maple syrup or honey (or a mix of both), coconut sugar, water, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat and let cool to warm room temperature.
Add the olive oil and egg white to the cooled syrup mixture and whisk to incorporate. Pour over the oats mixture and mix well.
Spread the mixture evenly across the prepared baking sheet. Using another same-size baking sheet or the bottom of a pot, press the mixture down firmly to compact it before baking.
Bake for 45 minutes or longer, until dark golden brown, rotating the sheet after about 15 minutes to promote even browning. While the granola bakes, open the oven door a couple of times to release steam.
Set the baking sheet on a cooling rack until the surface of the granola is crisp. Leave the oven on. If the surface is still tacky to the touch once it has cooled, return the pan to the oven and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes. Don’t let the bark get too dark, or it’ll taste bitter.
Once cool, break the bark into pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting

From the Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten)-another fabulous recipe. The cake is so light and the frosting is so delicious! Very easy to make and a perfect chocolate cake!

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt2/3 cup hottest tap water
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Pernigotti
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2/3 cup half-and-half

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 × 13 × 2-inch baking pan. Line with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer -fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl. On medium speed, add the vanilla, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated and the batter is smooth.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. In another bowl or a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the hot water, cocoa powder, and espresso powder until smooth. Add the half-and-half and whisk until smooth. With the mixer on low, add the flour and chocolate mixtures alternately in thirds, starting and ending with the flour. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the bowl to be sure the batter is well mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan. Turn out onto a flat platter or board and frost the top with the mocha frosting. Cut in squares and serve.

Mocha Frosting (Frosts one 9 x 13-inch Cake)
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, such as Lindt, ¼-inch-chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1¼ cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon Kahlúa
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place the chocolate, butter, and espresso powder in a bowl. Heat the cream to simmer and pour it over the chocolate mixture, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted. (If the chocolate isn’t melted, microwave the mixture for 15 seconds.) Stir in the Kahlúa and vanilla and stir until the mixture is smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes only, until cool but not cold.

Scrape down the bowl and beat the frosting with a handheld mixer on high speed for 15 to 20 seconds only, until the mixture forms soft peaks. (If you overbeat it, it will curdle!) Note: I beat my frosting for at least 1-2 minutes-watching it very carefully! Spread on the cake immediately with a metal spatula.

Carrot Cake

From King Arthur Flour, a wonderful company and resource of great recipes. I did not have the pineapple although I love the sound of either the dried pineapple or the can of crushed pineapple. I substituted 1/3 c. golden raisins that I soaked in 2 T. Meyers rum. This cake easily serves 24 small squares, you don’t need more than that! I think you could also make this into a layer cake-2 or 3 8 or 9″ layers but you may need a little more frosting. Please excuse the bad photo as I had already cut up the cake and shared it with friends to get a whole picture!

4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) melted butter
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
3 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
1 cup diced pecans or walnuts, toasted if desired
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (preferred) or sweetened coconut
1/2 cup diced dried pineapple*
*Substitute one 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained and squeezed dry, if preferred
3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
1 cup cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk, or enough to make frosting spreadable, if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.
Combine the eggs, sugars, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until smooth.
Mix the melted butter with the oil. With the beater running, add the oil mixture in a stream, beating until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, leaveners, salt, and spices. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring to make a smooth batter.
Stir in the carrots, nuts, coconut, and pineapple.
Spoon the batter into the pan, spreading it to the edges.
Bake the cake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, and cool in the pan.
To make the frosting: combine the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and salt in a medium-sized bowl, and beat together until light and fluffy.
Add the sugar gradually, beating well.
Add the milk a little at a time, until the frosting is a spreadable consistency.
Spread frosting over the cake. Garnish with minced crystallized ginger, if desired.

Bill’s Blueberry Cobbler

A tried and true recipe that is perfect for summer! I have recently started adding peaches to this and it is delicious!

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 cups blueberries (about 11 ounces)
Accompaniment: whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 375°F.
In an 8-inch square or other 2-quart baking dish melt butter. Into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg and stir in sugar until combined well. Add milk and whisk batter until it is just combined. Pour batter into melted butter; do not stir. Pour berries into center of batter; do not stir. Bake cobbler in middle of oven 40 minutes, or until cake portion is golden and berries exude juices.
Serve cobbler warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream.

Chocolate Pecan Bars

A wonderful bar recipe from my sister Meg. We prefer the graham cracker crust but you can chose for yourself. The recipe makes 24 rich and delicious bars!

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg beaten lightly
In a food processor, blend together the flour, sugar, butter and salt, pulsing the motor, until the mixture resembles coarse meal, add the egg and blend the mixture until it forms a dough. Press the dough evenly using floured hands into the bottom of a buttered 13 x 9 inch baking dish and bake it in the middle of a predheated 350 oven for 20-25 minutes or until it is golden.
ALTERNATIVE graham cracker crust:
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick butter,melted
Blend above ingredients and pat into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cup chopped pecans
2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Make one of the two crusts and bake. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, one at a time. At the flour, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the chocolate and nuts.
Spread the filling over the crust and bake in the middle of the 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let cool completely in the dish on a rack and cut it into 24 bars. The bars may be made 2 days in advance and kept in a airtight container.

Key Lime Pie

This recipe comes from an old friend and the former chef, Jeff Lohmann of my husband’s restaurant in 1979. Jeff sent us the key limes from trees in Palm Desert-what a treat. A few things are different with the recipe-he uses brown sugar in the graham cracker crust and he doesn’t prebake the crust. Also there are no eggs in the recipe but two cans of sweetened condensed milk and sour cream. The sour cream seems to lend a velvety texture to the pie.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2 c. graham cracker crumbs, crushed
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 oz. melted butter
Combine and press into pie plate.
Mix together:
3/4 c. key lime juice
1 T. key lime zest (about 4 limes)
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. sour cream
Pour into pie plate and bake for 10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until firm.

Molasses Cookies

From What’s Gaby Cooking blog that is one of my new favorites! I grew up with a molasses cookie with raspberry jam in the center and have never found the recipe but I will try it in these cookies the next time I bake them.
¾ cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar, plus extra for rolling
1 egg
1/3 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda

In a large stand mixer combine the butter, sugar, egg and molasses. Mix for a minute or two until well combined.
Combine the flour, cloves, ginger cinnamon and baking soda and sift together.
Slowly add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture and mix until evenly combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Once chilled, scoop 2 tablespoons of dough at a time and roll into balls. Roll them around in a small cup of sugar and set onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Remove from the oven and transfer the cookies onto a cooling rack to cool.