Tag Archives: baking

An Ice Cream Cake For My Long Distance BFF

31 May

Friendships have always been something that is super important to me – and as I get older (and in theory – wiser?), I am reminded just how much a good friend is worth. Sometimes it’s a lot of effort to maintain/cultivate friendships, and it can be even tougher when the friends don’t live near each other. Long distance relationships – whether they be romantic or just platonic friends – are HARD. For those of you who haven’t experienced it – you’re lucky – TRUST me!

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A few snapshots of me and my Long Distance Bestie over the years

My best friend from college lives in Virginia with her husband and two kids, and I miss her every day. We are lucky enough to get to text, email, call, and FaceTime pretty often (thank GOD for Iphones, right?), and we also take turns traveling to see each other several times a year.

In fact, we just returned from a long weekend at their house – full of fun and crazy kids and laughter – and I wouldn’t have it any other way! We celebrated hers and her husbands birthdays while we were there – and when I was thinking about how to celebrate, I KNEW some kind of baking had to be involved – I just wasn’t sure what. Her favorite (and probably my LEAST favorite) birthday dessert is Ice Cream Cake. I hate it because it’s not even really cake – which means no frosting (a BIG no no for me – as what’s the point of cake with no frosting?), and she loves it because ice cream is awesome and it reminds her of her childhood as they always got them growing up. So – I can see where she’s coming from – and decided to make one for her – cuz I love her THAT much

Finding a recipe was not too hard – scrolling through Pinterest and This one caught my eye – using store bought brownie mix and ice cream – easy enough!

Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Cake
(Recipe Courtesy of Suburbia Unwrapped)

Ingredients
1 box brownie mix for 9 x 9 inch pan
1 container Blue Bunny PB N’ Cones ice cream
FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter
FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
FOR THE TOPPING
peanut butter chips or chopped peanut butter cups

Instructions
-Make the package of brownies according to package directions EXCEPT bake in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan for 20 to 25 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean. Let brownies cool completely
-When you are ready to assemble: Let the ice cream sit at room temperature for 20 minutes until slightly softened. Spread over cooled brownies and place in freezer.
-MAKE THE SAUCE: In a double boiler, combine the heavy cream, chocolate chips and peanut butter. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly. (SAVE 1/4 CUP FOR SERVING!)
-Remove the brownie/ice cream layer from the freezer and pour the chocolate sauce over the top. (don’t forget to save some!) Smooth it out and return to the freezer.
-MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM: In a mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
-Remove the brownie/ice cream/ sauce from the freezer and spread the whipped cream over the top.
-Sprinkle the peanut butter chips or chopped peanut butter cups on top and freeze for THREE HOURS before serving.
-Right before you serve, drizzle with remaining chocolate sauce that you have heated slightly.

I was lucky enough to have TWO tiny adorable kitchen helpers this time – my son and my BFF’s daughter helped with all the prep:

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Brownie baking and Ice cream testing (both very important)

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Whipping the cream and assembling the layers

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“Decorating” the cake with Mini Reese’s Cups

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The delicious finished product

I used Moose Tracks Ice Cream for this – which is basically vanilla with PB swirl, fudge and PB cups – but you can really use any kind you want for it – anything with peanut butter would work great! I also substituted the PB chips for the mini PB cups – I figured they would be more delicious

This was really easy to put together, and the kids had a blast helping! My BFF and her husband loved it so much that they didn’t even want to share it with their friends when we had them over for a Memorial Day BBQ the next day! And I can’t blame them – this was REALLY tasty – the chewy brownie, the ganache – YUM. While it in no way constituted a cake in my mind (what with it’s lack of frosting) – it was still a really delicious dessert, and I was glad to make it and get to enjoy it with my BFF (who I won’t get to see until July now – boo – but luckily, there’s FaceTime to get us through!)

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

2 May

Peanut Butter and chocolate is one of those magical combinations – from peanut butter cups, to cakes, to brownies and cookies – it is a union that will forever be amazing and delicious. These Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars are no exception – and they were so easy to make, too!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
(Recipe Courtesy of Averie Cooks)

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
1/3 heaping cup peanut butter (I use Jif, Skippy or similar; natural PB can separate and/or be too oily)
1 large egg
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips + 2 tablespoons, for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:
-Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
-In a large, microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.
-Wait momentarily before adding the egg so you don’t scramble it. Add the peanut butter, egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and whisk until smooth.
-Add the flour and stir until just combined, don’t overmix.
-Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips.
-Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing the top lightly with a spatula.
-Sprinkle evenly with 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, smoothly the top lightly with a spatula.
-Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until done. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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This is one of those doughs I had to restrain myself from inhaling raw – it was just so perfect looking (and tasting!)

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Before and after baking

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That cross section says it all – melty chocolate and gooey bar – yum!

Had all ingredients on hand? Check
Easy to make? Check
Delicious? CHECK!

These were a winner – definitely great for beginner bakers – and anyone else who cherishes the marriage of Peanut Butter and Chocolate as much as I do!

Nutella Monster Cookies

2 May

I was itching to bake something new, and so instead of starting a new search for something, I headed to my “Must Try Desserts” Pinterest board. Ah….Pinterest. The home of ambitions, dreams, ideas – and most of all, the home of “shit I want to try/make/do but will never have the time/money/patience to do so” (harsh, but true). So – needless to say, there were plenty of recipes saved there that I have yet to find time to bake – and after careful consideration I decided to give these Nutella Monster Cookies a try

Nutella Monster Cookies
(Recipe Courtesy of Something Swanky)

Ingredients
3 eggs
1/2 c. shortening (not butter!)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. baking soda
4 1/2 c. oats
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. corn syrup
1 1/2 c. Nutella
1 package M&Ms
1 c. dark chocolate chips

Instructions
-Using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer, combine all ingredients except for the M&Ms and the chocolate chips.
-Add in the chocolate chips and M&Ms using the lowest speed on the mixer.
-Scoop by tablespoons onto parchment lined baking sheets.
-Bake at 350 for 7 minutes. Let set and cool on the baking sheet.

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It was my little sous chef’s first time trying Nutella – he LOVED it!

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Bringing these “monsters” to life – the various stages of dough and baking 

Ok – so – truth be told – I really don’t care much for these cookies. I hate how much they spread, how crispy they are, how thin they turned out…NOT a favorite for me. The recipe doesn’t have any flour in it, and I think that’s the main issue – they didn’t stay together and rise like a “normal” cookie does

I got so mad about halfway through that I ended up adding a few cups of flour to it – helped a lot in keeping the cookies from spreading into crispy thin masses – but it sort of took some of the taste away, too

I think one of the reasons I am so irritated with the way these turned out is that I went to the store and spent money on a bunch of ingredients: Nutella, M&M’s, dark chocolate chips, extra oats, etc – and the results were just not something I really enjoyed at all. I LOVEEEEEE a huge, gooey, thick cookie – and these just did not do it for me. However, everyone else who tried them liked them – so if crispy cookies are your jam – you should give these a go!

And if you’re a Nutella lover (like me) who likes a thick, gooey cookie (like me!) – try these Soft and Chewy Nutella White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Cup Earthquake Cake (Happy Birthday to ME!)

17 Aug

I just celebrated my 33rd birthday – and as I am sure most of you adults (and moms!) out there can attest to – birthdays aren’t exactly a big deal anymore, but one thing that I do especially enjoy about birthdays is the FOOD! When you’re a kid, it’s all about sheet cake full of sugar and pizza and candy – and I would like to say that as an adult my tastes have evolved and I enjoy a fancy meal in an upscale restaurant for my birthday – but that’s just not me ha. I still love pizza and frosting and candy – but I have evolved a bit past the sheet cake, to this magical creation called the “Earthquake Cake”. It’s full of peanut butter and chocolate-y goodness, and it is a MUST try for those of you who love the PB/chocolate combo as much as I do!

PEANUT BUTTER CUP EARTHQUAKE CAKE
(Recipe Courtesy of Lamberts Lately)

INGREDIENTS
1 Box of yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup milk
2 cups peanut butter
2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature
chocolate syrup
¼ cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
30 chopped peanut butter cups

INSTRUCTIONS
-In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup of peanut butter, and 1 stick of butter. Spread mixture in a greased 9×13″ baking dish.
-In a mixer, mix together 1 stick butter, 1 cup peanut butter, and ¼ cup milk. Slowly add in powdered sugar until frosting is mixed well.
-Spoon half of the frosting mixture on top of the cake mix. Add 6-8 large squirts of chocolate syrup.Very gently swirl frosting and syrup into the cake mix. Don’t completely mix. Make sure you get swirls into the edge of the cake pan.
-Gently press in half of the chopped peanut butter cups.
-Bake cake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees
-Once cooled, Top cake with remaining frosting, more chocolate syrup, and remaining chopped peanut butter cups.

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A boxed yellow cake mix gets a healthy dose of peanut butter

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Half the frosting is actually used INSIDE the cake – keeps it moist and EXTRA peanut butter-y

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A Swirl and some PB cups and this guy is ready for the oven

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The name “Earthquake” is no joke – it got so big while baking it erupted over the side of the pan!

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The finished product is so rich and dense – and FULL of peanut butter – SO GOOD!

The only thing I really changed about the recipe is that I bought a big bag of the mini “unwrapped” reeses’s cups instead of using chopped ones. Truth be told I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to bother unwrapping a ton of candies and then chopping them – the unwrapped ones worked really well! Half went in the cake, half went on top. Easy.

Ok now, I know what you might be wondering – Did she make her OWN birthday cake??? And the answer is technically no – as my husband purchased my cake of choice – cookie cake with extra frosting (you can pay like $2 extra and they will cover the whole thing in frosting – best add on EVER!), but I knew we were having some people over last weekend and while cookie cake is great – it’s not everyone’s favorite – so I decided to make the Earthquake cake in addition to the cookie cake – because who doesn’t love multiple dessert choices, right?

My husband says I only made the Earthquake cake so that people wouldn’t eat as much cookie cake and I could have more of it to myself – which is actually NOT true – I hadn’t thought of that ahead of time – but he might be onto something there…hmm. Either way – the earthquake cake is the ultimate indulgence for the peanut butter/chocolate lovers in your life – it’s easy to make and delicious to eat!

Chocolate + Peanut Butter = Amazing Cupcakes

19 Jul

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When your BFF (Best Friend Forever – or at least for the past 15+years anyway) has a birthday, you go all out – especially when it comes to the dessert. Previous years have seen me making Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes and Rainbow Cake, but this year I had to go for her main love – PEANUT BUTTER. And what pairs better with it than CHOCOLATE? Nothing – the answer is nothing. It’s a match made in baking heaven

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I decided on Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes because we were going to one of those painting places (where you can bring wine, too!) and I knew I would want something easy to serve and that didn’t require cutting, or plates and forks. Oh – and I picked this recipe specifically because it featured Peanut Butter Cups INSIDE the cake – what a perfectly delicious surprise, right?

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cupcakes
(Recipe Courtesy Of Tastes Better From Scratch)

Ingredients
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
• 1 box chocolate cake mix
• 4 eggs
• 1 cup milk
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 2 heaping Tbsp Greek yogurt
• 30 mini Reese’s cups , divided

Instructions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
-Line 2 regular muffin tins with cupcake liners
-Mix together the cake mix, milk, eggs, oil and Greek yogurt until smooth
-Spoon batter into cupcake pans, filling the liners 1/2 full
-Place a Reese’s PB cup into the center of the batter in each cup and gently press it down a little
-Bake cupcakes for 16-20 minutes or until done. Allow to cool completely before frosting

Some action shots of the baking process:

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The peanut butter cups completely disappeared once baked – making them truly a surprise!

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So this came with an accompanying frosting recipe – but – I admit, I was completely UNsuccessful in getting it to work – which is why I didn’t include it here with my post. Seemed simple enough – peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, milk – so, I made it, and was wondering why it was so soupy/oily…then I tried to put it on the cupcakes and it just basically melted off – so I knew something had to be wrong. I followed the given amounts, but maybe I screwed something up along the way?? I was pretty confused – but luckily my husband was kind enough to give it a second go for me, and unfortunately, his results were even worse than mine!

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The super oily (and unusable) result of the frosting recipe provided with the cupcake recipe in the original link

Followed exactly, the frosting recipe provided in the above link just DOES NOT work – AT ALL. If you can get it to somehow come together and stay on the cake and not be gross – then kudos to you! But – since I was unable to get it together – literally – so I ended up googling peanut butter frosting recipes – and using the very first hit:

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
(Recipe Courtesy of All Recipes)
Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons milk, or as needed
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Place the butter and peanut butter into a medium bowl, and beat with an electric mixer. Gradually mix in the sugar, and when it starts to get thick, incorporate milk one tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is mixed in and the frosting is thick and spreadable. Beat for at least 3 minutes for it to get good and fluffy

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Luckily – this one worked great on the first try (thank goodness – as I was running low on peanut butter at this point!) – and turned out exactly as promised – fluffy and smooth, sweet and amazing! I didn’t have time to pipe it on (since the extra batches put me just a bit behind schedule – oops!), so I slapped it on with my trusty offset spatula, and decided each one could do with another peanut butter cup – because – why not?

The overall taste was great – cake was moist and combined with the frosting was just perfect. Then the surprise of the peanut butter cup inside was great, too. A winner all around (once I found a better frosting recipe!), and my BFF loved it, too!

These S’more Cookie Bars Have Me Saying “Gimme S’more!”

14 Jun

Ok, I know – the title is a ridiculously bad pun – but I just couldn’t help myself – it was so punny!!!! Ok. Done now – for real. But what’s no joke is how deliciously easy these bars are – I mean, basically you take a chocolate chip cookie, and add marshmallow creme and graham cracker – what’s not to love about that?

Truth be told – I already have a S’more’s Bar Recipe that I love – but I am all about trying new things, and these looked easy (translation – I already had most of the items on hand – which is really the big seller for any recipe in my book, cuz, well… #lazy)

Ok – time to get down to it:

S’more Cookie Bars
(Recipe courtesy of Something Swanky)

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup fine graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup marshmallow cream
1/2 cup chocolate semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper or foil.
-Beat together the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg and vanilla.
-Mix in the baking soda, salt, flour, and graham cracker crumbs until dough forms.
-Press 3/4 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread the marshmallow cream over top. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the cream.
-Press the remaining cookie dough over top of the chocolate chips. Bake for 20 minutes.
Let cool before cutting and serving.

Some “Work In Progress” Photos:

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Basically cookie dough with graham cracker crumbs in it (YUM).

Oh and I doubled the recipe because – well – why not?

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My thought process was “oh maybe the marshmallow cream will be easier to spread with my hands than the spatula!” It wasn’t. At all. Take my word for it – use the spatula – and you can even coat it in non-stick spray before attempting to spread the creme around. This is the hardest part of the whole recipe – stickiest stuff ever!

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I am not sure why – but that dough just looks so goodddddd – and I love that you can see each “s’more” component in the pan

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Oh – hello lovelies. Boy am I glad I made two pans of you!

So – the original recipe says to cut the pan into 9 squares – but – I cut mine into WAY more than that (mostly so I can eat a bunch of them but not feel guilty because “they were tiny!” HA)

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They were an instant hit with the husband – kid took a minute but also declared his love for these cookie bars soon after his initial taste test!

These are perfect for those moments when you’re craving a s’more but the weather isn’t cooperating so you can’t have a bonfire (which – here in Upstate NY is like most of the time, since we spend over half the year with snow on the ground!)

As for their comparison to my original beloved S’mores Bars – overall – they are pretty similar in taste, with the main difference being ease of eating – in that these cookie bars are much easier to pick up and eat without making a mess (the original ones have a thicker chocolate layer which makes them a bit trickier to eat). These would be really great to make for a picnic or BBQ – especially if you do like me and cut them up small (and make a double batch – because – who doesn’t need S’more of these?!)

Celebrate Your Next Birthday (Or ANY Day Really) With These Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

16 May

I have been making funfetti cookies for years – they are cheap, easy to make, and they taste delicious – so what’s not to love about that, right? I was actually about to make another batch of those to gift to someone for their birthday when I came across these online – Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies – basically a hybrid funfetti and chocolate chip cookie – all in one pretty, colorful treat!

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies  (Recipe Courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup yellow or vanilla boxed cake mix (I typically use vanilla cake mix – you just need the DRY mix)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup  chocolate chips (I used 1/2 cup of white and 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles
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Assembled ingredients ready for action! Side note – this is a perfect time to use up all those half empty containers of sprinkles you have sitting around!

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cake mix, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter and both sugars together on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and beat on high until combined. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low-medium speed until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and sprinkles. Mix on low until the add-ins are evenly disbursed.

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    Various stages of dough-inc the hodge podge of sprinkles (Easter, Valentine’s, Christmas – all present and accounted for!)

  3. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, or up to 3-4 days. This step is mandatory. The dough is fairly sticky, so chilling the dough is required in order to avoid the cookies from spreading too much
  4. Once dough has been chilled, preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats
  5. Scoop rounded balls of the cold dough onto an ungreased baking sheet, use about 1.5 Tablespoons of cookie dough per cookie. Make sure to keep dough chilled when working in batches.
  6. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until edges are slightly browned. Mine take 10 minutes exactly. The centers will still appear very soft, but the cookies will set as they cool. You can also press a few more chips into the tops of the cookies at this point (the chips will melt down and stick from the warm cookies).

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    Obviously you can’t smell through the screen – but trust me – the smell that fills the kitchen as these bake is divineeee

  7. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 4 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
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I love the look of these – all the colors of the sprinkles, and the dots of the white and semi sweet chips – so pretty and unique!

Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 1 week. You can make the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Allow to come to room temperature and continue with step 4. Baked cookies freeze well – up to three months. Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well – up to three months. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for an extra minute, no need to thaw.

….Of course, freezing the baked cookies or the dough itself would mean that you would have to have some left after making a double batch…oops….

 

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My littlest critic approved of them (after intense pre-inspection!)

Needless to say – these were a hit – as a gift, and in my own house, too! One to make again, for sure!