WTAF Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

There’s no such thing as a reimagined-to-be-healthy recipe that’s as good as the original. Anyone who says otherwise is either delusional or magic. That’s my long-held belief, anyway–which is why I’m naming my recipe WTAF Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies. If we’re in need of a bit of decoding, WTAF stands for “What The Actual F***,” a fitting exclamation of surprise at how perfect these cookies are. Why was I so surprised? Because, after months of experimenting with healthier cookie recipes, I had resigned myself to the fact that without AP flour, butter, sugar, and other highly-processed ingredients, healthier cookies would just never compare. Then I made these (!!!), drawing from a recipe I saw on Whole and Heavenly Oven. Maybe the trick is the making my own cashew butter (easier than it may sound), or that I’ve left in just enough brown sugar to be a *little* bad. But the first bite from my first batch was so damn good, these cookies earned their name and then some. If my mom’s chocolate chips are an 11 on a 1-to-10 cookie rating scale, I’m awarding these guys a solid 9.5. They meet all my cookie requirements: golden color, chewy texture, good chip distribution, and they taste pretty much perfect. PLEASE make them soon, and know true healthy dessert joy.

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INGREDIENTS

1 heaping cup raw cashews
1 heaping cup honey roasted cashews (or, cut out all the cashews completely and replace with 1 cup store-bought cashew butter, WITHOUT the oil layer on top stirred in, as this will likely make the cashew butter too liquidy)
scant 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I like to go lighter on chips (…I know…) so feel free to add more)

*Note on replacements: This recipe doesn’t turn out anywhere near as good if you omit the raw cashews and replace them with another cup of roasted cashews. For whatever reason, it throws the texture off. Stick with 1 cup raw and 1 cup roasted.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper.

In a food processor or bender, add both types of cashews and grind them into nut butter. It takes my food processor about 5 minutes to get to the right stage: completely pulverized and able to hold together as a ball (read: a thick, just-barely-spreadable nut butter), but not liquidy.

Measure out 1 cup of the cashew butter (you should have just about that amount in your food processor, with maybe a little left over) and transfer it to a mixing bowl. Add the brown sugar, egg, vanilla, baking soda, and salt, and stir until combined. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. Your batter will be sticky.

Scoop the dough into small balls and press them flat onto the baking sheet–not too close, as they do spread just a little bit. Then, pop them in the oven.

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After about 6 minutes, bang the bottom of the cookie sheet onto the oven door a few times to deflate the cookies (this step will help result in cookies that are more chewy than cakey–I HATE cake-y). Continue to bake for 4-6 more minutes, til the cookies have turned a gorgeous golden brown color. Let them cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

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Like all chocolate chip cookies, they’re at their most amazing while still warm, right out of the oven. If you do have any leftovers, keep them sealed and they’ll last up to a week.

IMPORTANT SERVING NOTE: I have also successfully baked these pressed into mini-skillets with a scoop of ice cream on top. Highly recommended.

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Sugar & Spice Cookies.

Crazy to think it’s been over 4 months since I’ve posted a recipe. I still cook and bake all the time, but my weekend days (when I tend to test out new recipes, and when there’s nice daylight for photos) are not about the blog right now. Instead, I now spend at least one day of my weekend volunteering at a local dog shelter. I started volunteering last spring, but lately it’s become a huge priority for me. It’s so rewarding and special – I encourage anyone who’s interested to start volunteering at an animal shelter near you, because I can promise you they need the help!!

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Meanwhile, I’m exhausted from work travel this week, so I decided to take the day off from the shelter and bake these cookies. Adapted from a recipe by Joy the Baker, they smell amazing and taste even better. And I’ll still get my pup time in – it’s a three-day weekend for MLK Day, so I’ll get to spend all of Monday with them!

Sugar and Spice Cookies | KellyintheKitchen | 12 tbsp softened butter, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, pinch of ground nutmeg, 1 egg, scant 1/4 cup molasses, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup turbinado sugar

INGREDIENTS

12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 egg
scant 1/4 cup molasses
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (or other sugar with large crystals)

Sugar and Spice Cookies | KellyintheKitchen | 12 tbsp softened butter, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, pinch of ground nutmeg, 1 egg, scant 1/4 cup molasses, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup turbinado sugar

DIRECTIONS

Cream together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg until the mixture is fluffy in texture and light brown in color. Add the egg and molasses and stir just evenly combined. Then sift in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir just until combined – don’t overstir, or the cookies could become tough. You can advance to the next step here if you like, but I like to put the batter in the fridge for about 30 minutes, just to tighten up a bit.

Sugar and Spice Cookies | KellyintheKitchen | 12 tbsp softened butter, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, pinch of ground nutmeg, 1 egg, scant 1/4 cup molasses, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or baking mats. Set up a little station with your baking sheets, your cookie dough with spoons or a cookie dropper, and a little bowl full of the turbinado sugar. Scoop a small amount of dough, form it into a ball, and roll it in the turbinado sugar so that it’s completely coated. Place on the baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until the cookies are set but the very tops are still soft to the touch. Let cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet and then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Put them on a plate and bring them to a friend before you eat all of them yourself.

Sugar and Spice Cookies | KellyintheKitchen | 12 tbsp softened butter, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, pinch of ground nutmeg, 1 egg, scant 1/4 cup molasses, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup turbinado sugar

Coconut Macaroons.

These are as as delectable as they are adorable. I saw Ina Garten make ’em recently on Barefoot Contessa and have had them in the back of my mind ever since. Oh man, are these coconut macaroons delicious. But my favorite part about them (okay, one of my many favorite parts) is how totally easy they are. Just look at the ingredient list – so simple! As I was whipping them up, I thought about adding a new section on my Recipe List page where I could collect my simplest, easiest recipes in one place. So if you check out the Recipe List now, you’ll see a new section called “Easiest, Simplest Recipes,” where I’ve called out all my recipes that are amazingly basic and basically amazing. And these  chewy, gooey coconut macaroons are going right there.

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INGREDIENTS

14 oz sweetened shredded coconut
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp salt

Just the Recipe link: Coconut Macaroons

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Stir together the coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl.

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In a separate bowl, use a whisk to beat the egg whites and salt until they form medium-stiff peaks. Fold the whites gently into the coconut mixture.

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Use an ice cream scoop (or your fingers) to drop little scoops of batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Don’t put the cookies too close, as they spread out a little bit.

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Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and set. Devour.

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Sticky Glazed Vanilla-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies.

I haven’t been baking much recently. I miss it! Cutting way down on sugar and processed grains, as I have been, means a lot of my favorite baking activities are on hold. This weekend, however, I was up at my family’s lakehouse in Wisconsin, celebrating my sister’s seventeenth birthday with a handful of her girlfriends. And I saw my chance. My chance to make these cookies, inspired by 101 Cookbooks. Ever the pragmatist, I recognized in this group of high schools girls a captive audience; I knew, if I placed a platter of gleaming sweets in the midst of their Beyonce-listening sunbathe-fest of Saturday, they’d happily help me out by disposing of the evidence. And they did not let me down—when we left the lakehouse on Sunday, only one cookie remained. Nicely done, girls. And happy birthday, Kathleen!

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INGREDIENTS:

for cookies:
12 tbsp (or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar
, plus more for sprinkling
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 scant teaspoon salt
about 3 tbsp chocolate, finely chopped (I used semi-sweet)
2-3 tablespoons milk (I ended up using about 1 ½ tbsp)

for glaze:
2 tbsp milk
about 6 heaping tbsp. powdered sugar
splash of good quality vanilla extract (you want to use the good stuff here – don’t skimp on quality)

Just the Recipe link: Sticky Glazed Vanilla-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

DIRECTIONS:

Using an electric mixer (or your best elbow grease), cream the butter until it’s fluffy. Then add half the brown sugar, stir it in, and scrape the sides of the bowl, and repeat with the other half. Beat in the egg yolks and the vanilla until combined.

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In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and chopped chocolate. You want the chocolate very finely chopped – if the pieces are too big, your dough won’t hold together as well when you’re rolling it out.

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Stirring by hand, gently mix part of the flour into the butter and sugar, just until it combines. Add the rest of the flour, careful not to over-mix. If the dough looks too dry, add a tbsp of milk or two – we’re looking for the dough to just hold together when pressed into a ball. Which, conveniently, is the next step.

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Turn out the dough into a cutting board or countertop and form it into a ball using your hands.

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Then divide the ball into 4 equal sections.

IMG_8660Form the sections into balls and then flatten them into discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

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When the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 F.

Take one of the discs out of the fridge. Lightly flour a flat workspace and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough very very thin, like wafer thin.

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With a cookie cutter (or a small glass, because I couldn’t find any cookie cutters) cut out the cookies and place them on a baking sheet. They don’t spread out much, so crowding the cookies is okay. Sprinkle each one with a bit of brown sugar. Repeat with the other 3 sections of dough.

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Now, to the oven. Depending on how big the cookie cutter you use is, these bake pretty quickly because of how flat they are, so watch them. Mine baked about 8 minutes, just until the edges started to turn golden brown.

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Put the cookies on a cooling rack and cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, pour the milk into a small bowl and add the vanilla. Then add 4 tbsp of powdered sugar and whisk or use a fork to combine. From there, add the rest of the powdered sugar as needed until you reach the right consistency – thin, but not watery.

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When the cookies have cooled, glaze them. The quick way is to spoon the glaze over the cookies, drizzling a bit on each one. If you want to put a bit more TLC into the glazing process, dip the top of each cookie into the glaze. Either way, set them back on the cooking rack to set before plating.

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That’s all! Enjoy.

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But be careful – my tasters found these pretty addicting.

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Glazed Lemon Madeleines.

I’ve been looking for the perfect homemade madeleine. I think this is it. I would say that this recipe is “adapted from David Lebovitz,” but I realized that I really didn’t change much of anything! His recipe is perfect just the way it is (if you’ve never been to his website, please check it out – he usually inspires me either to cook something beautiful or to speed along my plan-making for another trip to Paris).

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I love these lemon madeleines anytime. My roommate can attest that for some inexplicable reason I even made them during the Super Bowl this year–not BEFORE the Super Bowl, but actually DURING THE GAME. I have no excuse or explanation for that. And while they’re fine with football, they’re especially well-paired with tea. Lemon madeleines are actually one of the only things in this world for which I will actually delay drinking my daily pot of tea in order to whip up a quick batch.

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To give these adorable little cookie-cakes their distinctive shell shape, you need a special pan, called a madeleine pan (go figure). The pan gives them their scalloped bottom and humped and fluffy top. I’m quite happy with my madeleine pan, so if you ask me, it’s worth the investment for this little lemony French treat. However, if you want to try these but don’t have a madeleine pan of your own, just follow the directions exactly as written but use a mini muffin pan instead.

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INGREDIENTS

3 eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 healthy pinches of salt
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder (optional – it helps them rise when baking, and I haven’t decided my opinion on it yet.)
zest of one medium lemon
9 tbsp butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup powdered sugar
up to 2 tbsp water

Just the Recipe link: Glazed Lemon Madeleines

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DIRECTIONS

First, grease your madeleine pan and put it in the freezer. This will make sure the madeleines hump up when they’re in the oven.

Add eggs, sugar, and salt to a bowl. Whisk like crazy until frothy and thickened.

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Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the egg mixture.

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Gently stir the lemon zest into the butter and pour into the flour and egg batter, stirring until just combined. Pop the batter into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

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As the batter chills, preheat the oven to 425 F.

Once the batter is slightly chilled, use a spoon to scoop into the cold madeleine pan. Don’t fill the scalloped cups up all the way to the rim, as the cakes will rise quite a bit.

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The same goes if you’re using a mini muffin pan – give them a little room to grow.

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Pop them in the oven for 8-9 minutes, until the tops are set and the bottoms are lightly browned. While they’re baking, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together for the lemon glaze, thinning with water until you reach the consistency you like – it should be pretty thin (think of a glazed doughnut).

Set the baked cakes to cool on a cooling rack. As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, dip each one in the glaze, both sides (!), and set back on the cooling rack, scalloped-side up, letting the glaze set as the cakes cool all the way.

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Here they are as little mini muffins. Not as dainty as the madeleine-shaped madeleines, but just as tasty!

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Serve immediately with a beautiful cup of tea or coffee. Make sure to use one of your prettiest cup-and-saucer pairs.

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Maple and Orange Marmalade Cookies.

Yesterday I posted a goodbye-to-summer cocktail. Today I’m posting a hello-to-fall cookie. Now that I’m thinking about it, apple pie would probably be the most appropriate late summer/early fall baked good, but to me, maple syrup and fall just go together. Why is that? Maybe it’s the tree connection, I’m not sure. But I do know that these cookies, from a sweet beet & green bean recipe, make me want to cuddle up with a warm blanket and a hot cup of tea and watch the leaves change. Fall is cozy and comforting and so are these cookies, so get excited – my favorite season is on its way!

INGREDIENTS

for cookies:
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 generous tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup, plus 3 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
healthy pinch of salt

for glaze:
2 tbsp orange marmalade
1/3 generous cup powdered sugar
splash or two of water

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Stir together butter, brown sugar, syrup, cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla in a mixing bowl until combined. If you’re as impatient as I am and your butter hasn’t softened all the way, no worries. Then gently mix in the egg.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 batches, stirring to full incorporate between each addition.

Using a spoon, scoop the dough in small knobs onto a cookie sheet, either floured or lined with parchment paper. They’ll spread out a bit, so leave some room between each one.

Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the pans around for the final 2-4 minutes of bake time. They’re done with the outsides have just barely started to brown.

While the cookies cool, mix up the glaze. First combine the marmalade and powdered sugar. Then slowly add water until it’s thin but still spreadable.

When the cookies have completely cooled, spread or brush the glaze over each one. Let the glaze harden a bit before packing them up. Share them and get ready for a change in the seasons!