Recipe Redux: Rainbow Cookies Stuffed With Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Every now and again, it's good to look back at where we've come from, so that we can proceed mindfully and deliciously into the future. #sodeep

What I mean to say is, I recently revisited an old recipe from my first book and am happy to report that it is still delicious, still magical: rainbow cookies stuffed with chocolate chip cookie dough.

I mean, what could be better than taking a bite of a magical rainbow cookie and then realizing it's stuffed with chocolate chip cookie dough? It's like...your brain will be a confetti cannon, that degree of mind-blowing. 

Realizing that my original recipe, which employed a full batch of Kaleidoscope-cooky (yes, cooky) batter was a bit LARGE, this time I tried a half-batch, and it worked splendidly. So when just a half million cookies as opposed to a full million are in order, give this recipe a try!

Rainbow Cookies Stuffed With Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. 

Here's how you do it. Adapted from CakeSpy Presents Sweet Treats for a Sugar-Filled Life

You'll need:

  • 1 batch rainbow cookie dough 
  • 1/2 batch or a little less of chocolate chip cookie dough (bake the rest normally, or use it to stuff cupcakes, you follow your bliss)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. So, you've got your rainbow cookie dough all ready to go. Now, slice it into fairly thin coins--like, 1/8 inch thick. Lay them on your prepared baking sheet with about 1 inch in between rounds (they won't spread too much).
  3. On the center of each round, place a small dollop of chocolate chip cookie dough.Place a second coin of rainbow cookie dough on top. If it cracks between color segments, use your fingers to smooth it back into place. Gently press the sides down so your chocolate chip cookie dough doesn't ooze out.
  4. Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until rainbow cookies have a dull finish on top. 
  5. Let cool for 5 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Can You Make Caramel Sauce With Milk Instead of Cream?

FACT: Caramel sauce is delicious. Caramel sauce is dreamy, and filled with cream. But wait. Can you make creamy caramel sauce when you're all out of cream? The answer is yes: it's possible to make caramel sauce with milk instead of cream, and I want to tell you how. 

But before I do that, I feel that I should offer a small education on the unusual process that is making caramel, because it is full of moments when your mixture looks WRONG, and I want to tell you about them and why you're actually doing things right.

These are some hard-earned tidbits I have picked up from experience. These hold true whether you're using cream OR milk.

1: A sturdy, heavy-bottomed saucepan with tall sides is your best bet.

You'll see that I didn't quite follow my own advice in the photo tutorial, but I am pretty accustomed to making this sauce so I have learned how to do it. If you have never made caramel, you'll be happy for the tall sides on a pot, because of the next thing:

2: When you add the milk to the sugar, the reaction can be scary.

The basic process of making caramel sauce is this: you'll melt some sugar, then you'll incorporate milk, then cook until thickened. 

But here's the thing: when you add the liquid to the hot sugar, it's going to have a firecracker of a reaction: it's going to bubble, it's going to hiss, it's going to seem like something is very wrong. Guess what? It's totally normal. You just want those high walls on the pot so that when it gets bubbly and scary, it doesn't make a big mess on your stovetop.

3: When you add the milk to the sugar, weird, hardened bits of sugar will form.

In addition to the crazy reaction, bits of sugar will solidify and look like ruined lumps and bumps when you add the liquid. Some of them, as you can see above, are really quite scary and wrong-looking. Guess what? Also this is normal. By continuing to cook the liquid, those bits will dissolve gradually. Even that monster-lump above! 

4: It's not hard to make caramel sauce, but it requires your full attention.

Making caramel sauce isn't hard, but please give it your undivided attention. It's worth it in the end, because you'll have a smooth, delicious caramel, and won't have any scorched pans to have to deal with later.

OK, now that you've read these cautions, let me tell you how to make caramel with milk instead of cream! 

Note: this is a salted caramel sauce. If you're the single person in the world who does not love salt and caramel, you can omit the salt. 

Caramel sauce with milk 

Printable version here

Makes about 1 3/4 cups 

  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 1 3/4 cups milk (I used whole milk)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Pour the sugar into your large pot. Shift the pot side to side to distribute the sugar evenly.

Put the pot over medium-low heat. Stay nearby, but don't stir or shift the sugar. This is a slow, gentle heating, and nothing visual will really happen for a few minutes. Concurrently, you can combine the milk and the vanilla in a heatproof measuring cup, and heat the mixture in the microwave for about 1 minute (this will help lessen the reaction when the liquid hits the hot sugar in a bit). 

After several minutes (it was about 8 minutes for me), you'll see the sugar beginning to liquefy. At this point, use a heatproof rubber spatula to turn the mixture over on itself, moistening the still-dry portions of sugar. 

Continue heating. As the sugar warms, it will begin to darken in color, first to a sort of beige and then to a light caramel tone. When the sugar has reached a rich caramel tone, medium-brown but not dark, remove from heat. Now, be ready for some hissing and bubbling as you pour about 1/3 to 1/2 of the milk mixture into the caramel mixture. It will hiss, it may bubble, hardened bits may form, but it shouldn't bubble over the sides of the pot. Once the bubbling has subsided, add the rest of the milk mixture, and return the pot to the burner, and put it on medium-low heat. Remember: those hardened bits = totally normal.

Stir constantly as the mixture cooks. You'll see that the hardened bits begin to shrink and then dissolve. Once they are mostly dissolved, stir in the salt.

Cook for about 10 minutes for a thinner caramel sauce, 15-20 minutes for a thicker sauce. Remove from heat when the mixture is about 20% short of how thick you'd like it, because it will thicken more as it cools. 

Transfer the mixture to a heatproof container to cool. Store leftovers in the fridge in jars. Enjoy on EVERYTHING. 

Do you like caramel sauce?

Two FREE Coloring Book Page Downloads!

Heyyyy creative people! I have made two brand new and totally free-to-download coloring book pages for Craftsy.com. The images below are previews; you can click on them to go to the download! 

First up is a coloring book page designed for cake decorators...

and then the next design is made for knitters!

Carrot Sugar: It's a Thing. Or at Least it Should Be.

I have done something creative and unusual with carrots. No, it doesn't involve starting my own adult YouTube channel. What I did is this: I made carrot sugar. 

CARROT SUGAR! 

Let me explain how this magical orange dust came into existence. You see, a few weeks ago I was working on developing a recipe for carrot cupcakes. They came out beautifully, and part of their appeal was the homemade candied carrot peel garnish. 

Candied carrot peel is made by boiling carrot shavings in a simple syrup, then baking them low and slow until they become firm. It's a fantastic carrot cake garnish.

But once the recipe was done, I had a lot of candied carrot peel. As appetizing as it is as a garnish, it's not quite as appealing as a stand-alone snack. So, I found myself with a good 3/4 cup of candied carrot peel. 

I don't know if I'm the only one who thinks like this, but.

When it came to using up this candied carrot peel, I pretty immediately thought "I wonder what would happen if I ground this candied carrot peel back into sugar?"

After it had been around for a few days, it had gotten pretty dry, which I figured would work to my advantage. 

So, I put the carrot peel in the blender...

...and blended. At first it was somewhat coarse, so I blended a bit more, until it had a consistency with the smallest granules like confectioners' sugar, and the largest about the consistency of granulated sugar. 

All of those candied carrot bits yielded a rather small amount of sugar (about 3 tablespoons' worth), but look at how pretty. 

So how would I use this carrot sugar? 

The way that I decided to do it was like so: to use it in a very small-batch buttercream. 

I combined about 2 tablespoons of softened unsalted butter with the carrot sugar and a pinch of salt, and mixed with a little spreading knife, acting like it was a palette knife and I was mixing acrylic paint. It made me feel like a particularly artistic bunny. 

Then, I piped it on to a cupcake. 

I loved how this came out! I have to say that I have the benefit of having gone through the process of creation, so I think that I was tasting with extra curiosity and anticipation. I don't know if you'd be able to tell that this was a carrot buttercream, because interestingly, it didn't SCREAM carrot.

So, the carrot-sugar buttercream was subtle--not super carrot-y, but definitely a little different. The carrot bits gave it a little bit of texture, and a definitely earthy flavor. The sweetness wasn't as tooth-numbing as a typical confectioners' sugar. 

To review: how I made this carrot sugar

  1. I made a batch of candied carrot peel
  2. Part of it, I used to garnish carrot cupcakes. But I had about 3/4 cup of candied carrot peel leftover, and no particular use for it.
  3. I blended the leftover candied carrot peel into a sugar consistency.
  4. I used it in a small-batch buttercream, but I bet it would be a great way to sweeten a club soda or a cocktail, or to use as a sprinkled garnish on a carrot cake. 

Oh, and PS, I also reserved the sugar-water from boiling the candied carrot peel, let it dry, and then ground that, too. It's in the background here. What should I do with that, do you think? 

If you give it a try, enjoy! 

Rainbow Cookies

If you are what you eat, be a unicorn-approved rainbow cookie.

Sometimes, you want to eat a cookie that is beige. Sometimes, you want to eat a cookie that is the color of coffee. But me, I like my cookies the same way I prefer unicorns: full of rainbows and magic.

These cookies are incredibly easy to make, a little old-fashioned (they're based off of the Kaleidoscope Cookies in Betty Crocker's Cooky Book), and totally delicious. They taste more subtle then they look, with a basic, simple, nothin-wrong-so-why-change-it butter cookie flavor.  But the look is really what draws you in: a multicolored array of slice and bake cookies that will delight people and have them asking "how'd you do that?". 

Well, it's easy. I'll tell you how. Let's make these cookies. Right here, right now.

Easy rainbow cookies

Makes about 40 cookies, maybe more - Printable version here

  • 2 1/4 cup flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • food coloring 
  1. Sift together the flour and salt; set to the side.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until nice and creamy. Add the sugar, and continue beating until the sugar has been absorbed (employ rubber spatula as needed). Stir in the vanilla.
  3. Add the flour mixture in 2-3 additions, mixing on low speed, using the rubber spatula as needed. You're gonna be all "this flour is never all gonna fit in this dough" but trust me, it will.
  4. Divide the dough into four equal portions (or five, if you're feeling frisky). Tint each one a different color. Go vibrant, because food coloring fades a touch in the oven.
  5. Divide each tinted portion into two equal parts.
  6. Grab one portion of each color of dough, and roll each portion into a log about 4 inches long. Press the portions together, firmly, to ensure a seal. Now, roll the multicolored log into one long log, about 12 inches long. Repeat with the remaining dough portions, so you have two logs of dough.
  7. Wrap each log with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 2-3 hours or overnight.
  8. When you're ready to bake, line 2 baking sheets with parchment and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  9. Remove the dough from the fridge, and let it soften slightly. Slice into "coins", at least 1/4 inch thick, a little thicker if you like fat cookies. If the dough is flaky or the color segments are cracking as you slice, let it soften a few minutes before working with it. (you can also gently smoosh the dough back together).
  10. Place the coins on the prepared baking sheets--they won't spread much so you can put them fairly close together.
  11. Bake for 7-9 minutes, rotating the pans at the 4 minute mark.
  12. Once matte on top (it can be hard to tell if they are lightly browned on the sides because of the vibrant colors) remove from the oven. Let the cookies cool on the pans for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Taste the rainbow!

Five Things to Do With Leftover Carrot Cake

Please don't say "I never have leftover carrot cake". Because you're being boring and dismissing the important things I have to say here. And after all, what if one day you did have leftover carrot cake? It makes for a fine #whathappenswednesday question. 

Last week I had leftover carrot cake, because I had to make three batches of carrot cupcakes for a recipe I was developing. That's quite a few cupcakes.

With three dozen cupcakes and a household of two, a couple are bound to go stale before they are consumed. So if you should find yourself in the unlikely but possible situation where you have leftover carrot cake, here are my suggestions on how to use it creatively:

1. Melty ice cream and carrot cake cubes.

This is easy. It is not attractive, but it is delicious. It goes like so: cut the carrot cupcake into cubes. Distribute them in a container of nice and melty ice cream (or, in a soft scoop that is in a cup). Mix together, and enjoy. 

1b. Carrot cake milkshake

Related to the previous idea, you could just mix more vigorously and turn your creation into a shake, which is always a great use of leftover cake. 

2. Fried carrot cupcakes

Simply slice up the carrot cake and fry it in butter. It's easier than making French toast (which is also an option, of course) but no less delicious. You don't even need sugar because the cake is already sweet. 

3. Small batch cake truffles 

Crumble up the cupcake; the amount of frosting in proportion to the cake should yield a mixture which can easily be formed into balls. I got three good-sized portions from a single cupcake. Let the cake balls freeze for an hour or so, so that they won't crumble when you enrobe them.

Melt some chocolate (I used about 2 ounces of white chocolate), and coat the frozen balls (haha) with the melted chocolate. Enjoy! 

4. Carrot cake pudding

Crumble a carrot cupcake, as you did for the cake truffles. Place about half of the cupcake crumbles in the bottom of a bowl or mason jar. Spoon 1/2 cup (or more, to taste) vanilla pudding on top. Layer with the remaining cake crumbles, then with more pudding. You have a pretty parfait of a pudding. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product!

5. Make carrot cake infused vodka.

Hmm, do you want to get a sugar high or do you want to get crunk? Why decide when you can enjoy both intoxicating effects, simultaneously, in one potable form? Making carrot cake infused vodka is the ultimate way to maximize vice consumption. Simply cut up the cupcake, put it in a sealable container (mason jars work well) with enough vodka to submerge it (it won't be pretty at first), and let it sit in the fridge for 2 days. Strain out the cake, and enjoy the sugary flavor it imparts on the vodka. Enjoy alongside one of the other carrot cake creations listed in this post.

Which is your favorite idea for using up leftover carrot cake?

April 5: National Raisin and Spice Bar Day

Today is National Raisin and Spice Bar Day. While they have a different name, I'm gonna say that these interesting bars fit the bill as they do contain raisins and spices: the "1812 Cookie Bar" by Matthews 1812 House

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A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a mail-order cookie and cake company called Matthews 1812 House. They asked if I would like to try some of their goodies. Well, twist my arm why don't you. I requested the "1812 Cookie Bar", because it seemed like an interesting item, and one unlike anything else I had ever seen.

The description of the bars goes like so: "Tangy apricots, crunchy pecans and chocolate chips are mixed into a honey and brown sugar batter, then baked on a buttery shortbread crust. Finished with our own special browned butter icing, you'll find these bars truly amazing."

While not specifically mentioned in the description, raisins and spices are listed in the ingredients, which is why I find them appropriate for today's national food holiday.

Actually, more than appropriate. Because look at these things. They look crave-worthy, right? Especially on my new custom tray, by Bags of Love

They taste crave-worthy, too. I love a good bar cookie, and these are indeed a fine specimen. The cookie base is sturdy and flavorful, with just the right amount of salt, butter, and sweetness coming together. My darling one didn't care for the apricot, but I told him to shut up because I thought it was great, and I'm the one with a food blog, so I win, right? 

But really, for me, what brought these bars together was the browned butter frosting. I don't know if they sneak an elixir of addictiveness into it somehow, but I could eat this stuff with a spoon from a jar and be very happy. It gives the sweet frosting a depth of flavor that lasts on the tongue for several moments after you've taken a bite, in the best way possible. 

I won't lie, these bars are not cheap. A 6x9 tray (a bit smaller than a sheet of printer paper) is $32 plus shipping (I calculated to my home; the total cost would be $44 or so). But they are interesting, and very well made, and they were securely packaged and arrived fresh. So...if you feel like you want a unique, artisan treat, I would say they're worth it for a special occasion. 

Also, I thought the story of the company, which is based in Northwest Connecticut, was cute (right from their site), if not revealing about why the company has its unique name:

"Matthews 1812 House was started in 1979 in the family farmhouse by Blaine and Deanna Matthews. Named after the year the house was built, they started with two fruitcakes (and had two small children at the same time)! Soon there were baking racks in the hallways and people sorting apricots and pecans on the dining room table.

In 1991 the business moved to a dedicated facility just a mile from the farmhouse. With a carousel oven (yes, it rotates), and more room, they expanded from their line of specialty cakes into cookies, bars, and other mouth-watering baked goods."

Check out these bars and the full offerings of Matthews 1812 House here.

24 Hours In and Around the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff

Wow! It has taken me a while to get to this post, but finally I have, and I am so happy to share with you my whirlwind GRAND CANYON ADVENTURE. 

We went to the Grand Canyon for just one day, and stayed in nearby Flagstaff, AZ. While it wasn't a goal at all to hit every spot, we did hit a few good ones, so let me tell you about them. 

It started on a Friday, when I woke up and went to yoga in Santa Fe, with one of my favorite teachers. Afterward, me and my sweetie packed up our pugs and hit the road in our car. Westward on I-40! Pugs in my lap! Let's go! 

In Grants, NM, we paused and had a picnic, because I had thoughtfully packed slices of chocolate cake. Here's the recipe

After a few hours and a few small cities, we arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona. Since I'm into craft beer now, we checked out Mother Road Brewery, where I tried their Black IPA. I later used it to make a cake. Good stuff! 

Then, we went to my favorite store, possibly in the world, Black Hound Gallerie. I'll show you just one of the things I've purchased there over previous visits to illustrate the total awesomeness of this establishment:

Then, we had an awesome dinner at Criollo, a Latin american restaurant. This bread pudding was for dessert. 

The next morning, we had my favorite new coffee drink the Flat White at Firecreek Coffee. It was also here that I discovered the existence of something called barista milk, which is gently homogenized to create the most stable texture for frothing. It really is special!

We also observed that they had this, a pretzel breakfast roll among their offerings:

Then we hit up Macy's Coffee Shop, a unique shop featuring all vegetarian food. I got a towering quiche, which was seriously about a foot tall...

and we got cinnamon rolls, which were croissant-like in their flakiness.

And an almond danish. Because, don't do breakfast halfway.

Afterward, we went to...the Grand Canyon! Here I am with one of my pugs, Olive. I know, I know, you can't get over how remarkably good-looking we are. 

What everyone says about the Grand Canyon is true: you can't grasp its amazing-ness until you actually see it. I am so glad I finally got to see it!

On the way back, we passed this establishment. I wonder what they do there?

We headed on back, and snacked on some of the homemade candy corn I made (I told you I'm a bit delayed with posting this trip roundup!). When we got home, we were exhausted but happy.

When is the last time you took a road trip? 

Magical Unicorn Cookies

OMG! My friend Joanne had a baby, and a few of us bloggers are celebrating. I brought unicorns to the party. Unicorn cookies, that is.

You might think that since she had a baby boy, I should go all blue, but I disagree, because I think that unicorns and magic transcend gender. And any boy who can embrace a sprinkled pink unicorn is a boy I'd like in my life. 

Best of all, these cookies are easy to make. It's actually an adaptation of the DIY animal crackers from my second book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods, but with a magical upgrade: pink icing and plenty of sprinkles. 

BTW, I couldn't find a unicorn cutter and my existing one is in a different city right now, so I went and bought a pony-shaped one.

It was easy to affix horns by hand. So if you can't find a unicorn cutter, buy a pony cutter. Just don't let any un-horned ponies get cornered by unicorns. 

OK, I know you're getting eager to make these babies, so let me help you. 

Scroll to the bottom of the post for the recipe; meantime, directly below you'll find the links to other blogger creations inspired by Joanne, and check out the hashtag #fifteenspatulasbaby to follow the posts and story!

Appetizers

Italian Sub Sandwich Roll-ups from Michael of Inspired by Charm

Smoky Roasted Red Pepper Sun Dried Tomato Hummus from Jeanette of Jeanette’s Healthy Living

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup from Sadie of Dairy Good Life

Whipped Goat Cheese & Blueberry Balsamic Crostini from Meseidy of The Noshery

Rosemary Flatbread with Baked Goat Cheese from Heidi of FoodieCrush

Spring Herb Cream Cheese Appetizer Cups from Rachel of Rachel Cooks

Crostini with Almond Ricotta and spicy olive tapenade from Heather of HeatherChristo

Drinks

Fruit Freeze from Deborah of Taste and Tell

Mint Lemonade from Trish of Mom On Timeout

Ginger Lemonade from Kathy of Panini Happy

Desserts

Chocolate-Covered Rice Krispies Treats from Julie of The Little Kitchen

Orange Fluff from Jamie of My Baking Addiction

Peanut Butter Pretzel Brownies from Susannah of Feast + West

Mini Ombre Heart Cookies from Bridget of Bake at 350

Mini Coconut Pound Cakes from Mary of Barefeet In The Kitchen

Yellow Sheet Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting from Jennifer of Savory Simple

Unicorn Shaped Cookies from Jessie of CakeSpy

Oreo Cheesecake Bites from Brenda of a farmgirl’s dabbles

Lemon Blueberry Bread from Glory of Glorious Treats

Blintz with Blackberry Sauce from Sommer of A Spicy Perspective

Pastel Rainbow Cake from Bree of Baked Bree

Individual Chocolate Souffles from Andie of Andie Mitchell

 

MAGICAL UNICORN COOKIES 

Makes about 30 (Printable version here)

Ingredients

  • 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3⁄4 cup (1 1⁄2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to cool room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Icing

  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3-5 tablespoons cream
  • pink (or red) food coloring
  • LOTS AND LOTS OF SPRINKLES

Procedure

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, stirring until combined.
  3. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Form the dough into 2 disks and wrap well with plastic; refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Chilling the dough will ensure that the shapes hold once cut out and that the dough will not spread too much during baking.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  6. Allow the cookie dough to warm slightly at room temperature before rolling it. On a floured work surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough to about 1⁄4 inch thick. Use your unicorn or pony cutter to cut out as many cookies as you can; re-roll scraps to get more cookies from the dough.
  7. Let the cookies chill (on the baking sheets) in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking. This will ensure that they retain a crisp shape.
  8. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, rotating at the 5 minute mark, or until firm, just lightly brown on the edges, and with a dull finish on top. Let cool on the pan for several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Mix the confectioners' sugar with cream until it reaches a thick but spreadable consistency. Stir in the food coloring. Working with one cookie at a time, spread the icing on top, and then add the sprinkles right away (they'll stick best right after the cookies are iced).

CONGRATULATIONS, JOANNE!

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Chip Chia Seed Cookies

It is in the name of honesty that I divulge this shameful fact: I don't like yogurt as a stand-alone food.

This may be an unconventional way to set up a recipe post sponsored by Greek Gods Yogurt, so let me explain. I love yogurt as a COMPONENT of other foods. Or combined with other foods. Especially Greek yogurt, which I will use for any and everything from a mayo substitute to a topping for baked potatoes. 

Here's the thing: I have discovered that I do like baking with yogurt. In fact, I love baking with yogurt.

Yogurt--Greek yogurt in particular--lends a tangy, buttermilk-like flavor to baked goods, and an incredibly fluffy texture. I am guessing the texture has something to do with the fact that the acidic component of yogurt acts in tandem with any leaveners to create fluff city, but I am no scientist, so that is only a theory. 

OK, so with all that having been said, I need to tell you that when Greek Gods was all, "let us send you some of our chia seed Greek yogurt to bake with!", I was all (please imagine me saying this in Justin Timberlake's voice) "yeah girl, let me see what I can bake up with your chia seed goo". 

As long as there are no follow up questions, that is exactly how it happened.

So, a few days later the yogurt arrived, and I got baking. I love healthy-ish cookies (you know, the kinds with oats and whole wheat flour, but still plenty of butter and sugar), so I was really psyched about a riff on chocolate chip cookies using this yogurt.

I thought it made a great #whathappenswednesday concept, too: what happens when you make chocolate chip cookies with Greek yogurt?

These cookies came out awesomely! 

As I had previously experienced, the yogurt gave the cookies an amazingly fluffy texture. The chia seeds were subtle, but definitely present, adding a little bit of an earthy flavor and tiny bit of texture. With a bunch of oats and some very good quality chopped chocolate thrown in the batter, these were definitely not your typical chocolate chip cookies, but turned out to be 100% crave-worthy.

I brought some to the yoga studio where I teach, I brought some to a fellow yoga instructor's birthday party, and the rest my sweetheart ate. They all disappeared, nobody declared them too healthy, everyone remarked on the fluffy texture.

These cookies are well worth a try if you want to add a little health to your cookie but, you know, still have a cookie, or if you just want to try something new, or if, like me, this is a way that you can enjoy yogurt. And if you love yogurt, go ahead and dip these cookies in it for added bliss. 

Greek Yogurt Chocolate Chip Chia Seed Cookies

Printable version here

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I like salty; use less, like 1/8 to 1/4 tsp if you don't)
  • 1/2 cup, or 1 stick, unsalted butter, softened 
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 container (150g) Greek Gods Vanilla Chia Seed Yogurt
  • 2 cups good quality semi or bittersweet chocolate, chopped; or, use chocolate morsels 
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats 
  1. In a large-ish bowl, sift together the flour(s), baking soda, and salt. Set to the side.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed, until soft and malleable-looking. Add in the two types of sugar, and continue creaming for 2-3 minutes, or until nice and fluffy. 
  3. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing completely and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  4. Stir in the vanilla and the Greek yogurt, mixing on low speed to combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. The dough will become very gooey at this point.
  5. Add the flour mixture, mixing on low speed to combine. Once completely cohesive, fold in the chocolate and the oats, stirring to ensure even distribution. 
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with plastic, and put the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or (even better) overnight. This is very important as it discourages the cookies from spreading too much, as well as allowing the flavors to come together.
  7. Near the end of your cooling period, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  8. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough on to the prepared sheets, leaving plenty of room around each cookie to allow for spreading. (I did 12 cookies per sheet). 
  9. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until golden and "set" on top, rotating the pans at the 5 minute mark. Remove from the oven, let cool on the sheets for a couple of minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 
  10. Repeat baking until you've used all the dough. I made about 40 cookies from this batch. 
  11. Store leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature, for up to 5 days. 

Have you ever made cookies with yogurt?

An Easy and Inexpensive Substitute for Mascarpone Cheese

There are a few good reasons why you might want to make a mascarpone cheese substitute.

One is availability. Mascarpone isn't what I would call a rare ingredient, but it can prove tricky to find depending on where you are and what your local market stocks. Even within a grocery store it can be tricky to locate: is it near the fresh pasta, or near the cream cheese? It can take some effort to track it down.

Another is price. When recently developing a recipe that called for mascarpone cheese, I had to fork over $6.99 per container of the stuff. Not too bad for a one-time deal, but when testing recipes, you have to buy 3-4 batches' worth sometimes. That starts to add up! 

So, I thought it might be valuable to offer an alternative to mascarpone cheese. If I do say so myself, I think I have done a very good job here. 

I looked up recipes online to start, but ultimately decided on my own configuration. Butter and cream cheese give this mascarpone substitute a rich flavor and texture, and a touch of lemon (or lime, depending on what the final recipe you're using this for and your taste) helps add to the natural tang of cream cheese; a touch of salt brings out all of the flavors, and a little cream gives it a texture similar to mascarpone.

This can be substituted in equal quantities for mascarpone cheese in your favorite recipe, with delicious results. It doesn't taste identical but in a recipe with other ingredients, it really does come pretty close. 

Mascarpone cheese substitute

Makes a little over 1 cup 

Printable version here

  • 1 brick (8 ounces) full fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • pinch salt

Mix together the cream cheese, butter, and lemon juice, mixing very completely. Like, start mixing and walk away for 10 minutes thorough mixing (this is literally what I did). 

Add the salt and heavy cream, and mix until creamy and cohesive. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

Substitute for mascarpone in your favorite recipe! 

Have you ever made an interesting DIY substitute?