World Peace Cookies

If you are craving something intensely chocolaty, give these cookies a try.

Divine with a glass of COLD milk.

World Peace Cookies
Recipe from Dorie Greenspan via Bon Appetit

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
11 T unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
5 oz extra-bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 85% cacao), chopped (no bigger than 1/3 inch)
(I substituted Guittard Extra-Dark Chocolate Chips)

***all my cookie dough lovers out there: UNITE! no eggs in this dough. eat with reckless abandon!***

Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth but not fluffy. Add both sugars, vanilla and sea salt; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; beat until just blended (mixture may be crumbly). Add chopped chocolate; mix just to distribute (if dough doesn't come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball...mine came together easily). Divide dough in half. Place each half on sheet of plastic wrap. Form each into 1 1/2-inch diameter log. Wrap each in plastic; chill until firm, about 3 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead...just keep in refrigerator.)

Preheat oven to 325. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using thin sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), 11-12 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.

Creamy Lemon Squares

These treats reminded me of a tangy lemon cheesecake. You could certainly use full fat cookies and cream cheese, but believe me, they are satisfyingly decadent as is.

adapted from Kraft Food and Family

20 reduced fat vanilla wafer cookies
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butte, cut into half-inch cubes
8 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. flour
3 Tbsp. lemon zest, divided (you should get enough juice and zest from 2 large lemons)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Line 8-inch square pan with foil. Put cookies in bowl of food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until you have fine crumbs. Add 1/2 cup flour and brown sugar. Pulse to combine. Add cold butter cubes and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; press onto bottom of prepared pan. (If you don't have a food processor, stir the crumbs, flour, and sugar together in a bowl, then cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or two knives.) Bake 15 minutes.

Beat Neufchatel cheese and granulated sugar with mixer until well blended. Add eggs and 2 Tbsp. flour; mix well. Blend in 1 Tbsp. zest, juice and baking powder; pour over crust.

Bake 25-28 min. or until center is set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and remaining zest before serving.

We loved this refreshing dessert after a spicy Mexican dinner. I think next time I make it, I will try limes!

Frozen Brownie Sundaes, or "Cousin Lindsey Strikes Again"

Thursday afternoon, I got a text-recipe from Cousin Lindsey (the cyclist said I couldn't mention her syrup or you know that I would).

I've said it before...I've learned from experience, her recipe suggestions are are her crafting ideas...and her style advice. I wonder if she gives stock tips?

Frozen Brownie Sundaes
from Giada (via Lindsey)

Brownie Layer
2 T water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1 3/4 cups brownie mix
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 (1.4 oz) Heath or Skor bars, coarsely chopped

Ice Cream Layer
1 pint dulce de leche or caramel ice cream (Haagen-Dazs), softened
(if you think you may want to sneak a bite, just to taste, take my advice and just buy two pints...unless you're superhuman and can really stop at just one bite)

Chocolate Layer
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 3/4 cups milk chocolate chips

1 (12 oz) bag frozen strawberries, thawed
(could substitute raspberries)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Brownie layer:
Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8 x 8 inch glass baking pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, allowing at least 2 inches overhang
(you will use this to pry the entire dessert out of the pan...much easier to cut that don't skimp. You'll need the leverage). Spray the parchment with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the water, oil and egg. Add the brownie mix and stir until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips and candy bar pieces. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely (in the pan, on a wire rack), about 1 1/2 hours.

Ice Cream Layer:
Using a spatula, spread the softened ice cream on top of the brownie layer and freeze until firm, at least four hours, I say overnight.
Go ahead and lick the spatula.

Chocolate Layer:
In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium-low heat until hot but not boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and the mixture is smooth. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate mixture over the ice cream layer. Freeze for at least one hour or until ready to serve.

Put the strawberries, powdered sugar and lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth.

To serve:
Remove the layers from the pan and peel away the parchment paper. Cut the layers into squares and drizzle with the strawberry sauce.

We took them to one of the last cookouts of the season. The filmmaker ate three servings.

Truffle Brownies

These brownies are dec-a-dent. And they are just as delicious the second day (like you'll be able to save any).

The original recipe is baked in a 9-inch square pan. I thought the wedges made the presentation a bit more fancy.

Truffle Brownies
recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

12 oz bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped, divided
11 T (1 stick plus 3 T) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla
1/4 t salt
1 cup unbleached all purposed flour
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line bottom of a 9-inch round pan (I used a spring-form pan) with parchment paper. Spray paper with nonstick spray.

Combine 6 ounces of the bittersweet chocolate and butter in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and stir until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water and cool chocolate mixture until lukewarm, 5-10 minutes.

Whisk sugar, eggs, vanilla and salt in large bowl to blend. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Stir in flour. Transfer batter to prepared baking pan.

Bake brownies until tester inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes. Transfer pan to cooling rack and let brownies cool completely.

To make ganache, bring cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add remaining 6 ounces chocolate to hot cream and let stand 5 minutes to soften, then whisk until melted and smooth. Pour chocolate ganache over brownie in pan and spread to cover completely. Let stand at room temperature until topping is set, about 4 hours.

Using foil as an aid, lift brownie from pan. Fold down foil edges. Using large sharp knife, cut browniet into wedges, wiping knife with hot, moist cloth after each cut.

Banana Bars

I buy bananas every week, which means that I regularly have brown bananas. I love the idea of eating fresh bananas. We usually go through 4 or 5 that first day. My problem is once they are even the slightest bit over-ripe, they are far too mushy for they sit on the counter for a week, then I start to get a craving for banana bread. Subconsciously, that must be why I buy the bananas in the first place.

We took a break from the usual banana bread to try these little bars. The sour cream makes them so tasty. And cream cheese frosting...what doesn't taste better with a schmear of cream cheese frosting?

These delicious banana bars come from Lindsey of Cinnamon Syrup fame. I've tried many of her recipes...she has a knack for picking good ones.


1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 c butter
2 eggs
1 c sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 med ripe bananas (1 cup)

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c butter, soft
2 tsp. vanilla
4 c powdered sugar

Cream sugar, butter and eggs. Add sour cream and vanilla. Combine and add dry ingredients. Mash then stir in bananas. Bake at 350 for 20- 25 minutes in a jelly roll pan.
Let cool completely before frosting.

Margherita Pizza on Honey Wheat Dough

Homemade pizza is one of my favorite dinners. We love to make this variety in the fall, when the basil and tomatoes are ripe in our garden. You'll love this dough. The whole wheat flour gives it a great flavor, and the chewy texture......mmmmmmm......

Invest in a pizza stone* and peel. These two tools will help you turn your kitchen into a pizzeria.

Margherita Pizza

one recipe pizza dough (this will make one large, thick crust pizza, or two thin crusts)
1-2 large, garden tomatoes, thinly sliced (we used a delicious Black Krim tomato...grown in our garden, from one of Matt's seedlings)
Fresh Basil (we cut some thinly and cooked it on the pizza, then garnished with fresh leaves after removing it from the oven)
Fresh Mozzarella, sliced as thick as you want it (find it packed in water. We also topped the whole pizza with a little of the shredded variety)
Balsamic Reduction (this stuff is excellent on pastas and veggies as well.)

Honey-Wheat Pizza Dough
from The California Pizza Kitchen Cookbook

1 teaspoon yeast
1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon warm water (105-110 degrees F)
1 cup bread flour (can use all-purpose in a pinch)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
5 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon for coating
Cornmeal, for dusting

Dissolve the yeast in the water and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

If using an upright mixer, use the mixing paddle attachment because the batch size is too small for the dough hook to be effective (I tripled the recipe to serve a crowd, so I used the dough hook). Add the flours, honey, salt and 1 T olive oil. Mix gradually using the lowest 2 speeds. Mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. If mixing by hand, place the dry ingredients in a 4- to 6- quart mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour in the liquids (reserving the 1 teaspoon olive oil). Use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients. Once initial mixing is done, you can lightly oil your hands and begin kneading the dough. Knead for five minutes. When done, the dough should be slightly tacky (barely beyond sticking to your hands).

Lightly oil the dough ball and the interior of a 1-quart glass bowl. Place the dough ball in the bowl and seal the bowl with clear food wrap. Set aside at room temperature (70-80 degrees F) and allow to rise until double in bulk ; about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

The dough can be used at this point, but it will not be that wonderful, chewy, flavorful dough that it will later become. Punch down the dough, re-form a nice round ball and return it to the same bowl. Cover again with clear wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

About 2 hours before you are ready to assemble your pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Use a sharp knife to divide the dough into two equal portions. Roll the smaller doughs into round balls on a smooth, clean surface, being sure to seal any holes.

Place the newly formed dough balls in a glass casserole dish, spaced far enough apart to allow for each to double in size. Seal the top of the dish with clear plastic wrap. Set aside at room temperature until the dough balls have doubled in size (about two hours).

About one hour before you assemble your pizza, put your stone in the COLD oven and preheat to 400 degrees. If you put your room temperature pizza stone into a hot oven, it will probably crack.

To form the dough, sprinkle flour over a 12-inch by 12-inch smooth surface. Use your hand or a rolling pin to press the dough down, and roll or stretch into a 9-inch circle. Pinch the edges to form a lip. If you are adventurous, you can try the "toss and stretch".

Dust both your pizza stone (it's heating in the oven by now) and your peel with cornmeal.
Put your pizza dough on the peel and pierce all over with a fork (this will prevent those huge bubbles from forming). Shake the dough on the peel back and forth just to make sure that you have enough cornmeal. The dough should slide around on the peel. If you don't have enough cornmeal, the dough will not slide and will be a mess when trying to get it into the oven after you have already put all of the toppings on.

Arrange tomato slices and mozzarella over dough. Slide the pizza onto the stone. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is done (you may need to use your peel to peek at the underside or rotate) and the cheese just begins to brown. Remove from oven using the peel. Drizzle with balsamic reduction, garnish with fresh basil, cut and ENJOY!

*I use my pizza stone for more than just pizza.