dirty leprechaun & thin mint s’mores

Homemade chocolate (with a hint of mint) cookie coated marshmallows! That’s what the Dirty Leprechaun is all about. I can’t think of anything more perfect right now then being on a camping trip at the close of a full day, sitting around a campfire and toasting one of these babies over hot embers. They really need nothing more than a little heat to be thoroughly enjoyed. But since I could, I put it between two Girl Scouts Cookies. Thin Mints to be exact. Now there’s a St. Patrick’s Day S’more if I ever saw one.

my spicy valentine

I think Indian food is a nice choice for Valentine’s. Inspired by that idea, and a trip to the local Indian food grocer (that actually had Bird’s Custard Powder on the shelf!) I put together this sandwich cookie. It’s a mash-up of recipes from Aarti Sequeira and Nigella Lawson. Custard Cream-Filled (link to recipe) Garam Masala-Chocolate Gingerbread (link to recipe) Sandwiches. Long name, lots of flavors and textures.  All squeezed together in one smooth, rich and spicy cookie sandwich. xoxo, Amy

s’more soul cookies

The honey graham dough I made over the weekend was a sort of “healthier” version of shortbread. I added fresh ginger to the recipe and sprinkled demerara sugar over the tops before baking them off. Honestly, I would have been happy stopping there, but remember the mallow bits? I melted some chocolate over the stove in my homemade double-broiler, drizzled it over the grahams, and stuck the mallow bits on top. They turned out to be easy-to-package, simple self-contained s’mores.

Honey-Ginger Grahams, adapted from Cooks.com

2 C whole wheat flour
1 C unbleached flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C butter
1/3 C honey
2 t freshly grated ginger
1 t vanilla
1/2 C milk

Sift together first 4 ingredients & set aside. Cream together brown sugar and butter until smooth. Add honey, ginger, and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add dry mix to creamed mixture, alternately with milk. Chill dough. Roll out onto well floured surface, cut into shapes, and score cookies with a fork. Bake in preheated 350-degree oven for about 12 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

The ancient Greeks maintained that the seat of the soul was in the stomach. If I had a cookie cutter in the shape of a stomach, I would use it.

pear shortbread with shaved pecorino

An inspiration storm hit when I opened a package that came in the mail for me last week. A friend, who knows a thing or two about treasures, sent me this tin of cutters that she uncovered at a thrift store! I gave them each a bath and decided to start out with a classic shortbread recipe. Since I was using the pear shape, I made a pear glaze to coat the shortbread. To cut the sweetness, I added shaved slices of the salty Italian sheep’s milk cheese and topped it off with a toasted walnut. Flavor boomerangs! I will make these again with other fruit, cheese and nut combos. Fun little pick up snacks made with a super pick-me-up gift.

Cookies: I use Ina Garten’s Recipe.

Pear Glaze: In a saucepan, stir together one cup of pear nectar (I like Looza or Knudsen brands, but if you have time, I suppose you could make your own) and 2 T brown sugar. Add 1 T unsalted butter and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat until liquid reduces by half (about 10 min).

Walnuts (optional): Toast 8-10 min. in 350-degree oven.

butterscotch cookie candles

Have you ever made window cookies with hard candies? I thought it would be fun to do a butterscotch flame version with my tin candle cookie cutter. I rolled out some sugar cookie dough, crushed some butterscotch discs, and whipped up some frosting using powdered sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, butter and milk. Tasty cookies with a bottle of milk.

While I was making them, I thought about a song that my nephew learned in choir that starts out, “light one candle for hope.” My niece, whose name sounds a lot like “candle” thinks the song is about her. What a true thought; we are all capable of being figurative candles for peace, hope and love.

cookie tray in a pinch

I had grand plans for my contribution to the office sweets party this year, but life events intervened and those plans will have to be realized in the future. Whattodo when you can’t make your own homemade treats? Make your own assortment tray of your favorite locally made cookies! In my case, I dropped by the Cookie Cottage for some soft double chocolate raspberry cream and double chocolate chip mint cookies. Selection and presentation can be gifts, and a positive part of the holidays is sharing the things you love; so I say, double it up whenever possible!

decorating with gingerbread, part 2

To commemorate my mom’s Wild Horses grant study this year, I decorated her tree with new gingerbread ornaments. Two additions to the cookie cutouts were two Martha Stewart craft products that I have been eyeing for at least five years. Thanks to a Michael’s coupon and the excuse of “it’s my birthday,” I now own superfine glitter and baker’s twine! When I look at the finished tree I can’t help but think of the song lyric, “All of the good gifts given today; Ours is the sky and the wide open range.” I am thankful for all of the gifts that would never have a coupon or need wrapping.