Recipe: White Chocolate Dipped Spiced Molasses Cookies

So far the entire month of December has felt like "Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming!" to me. I'm not totally sure why, but it feels like it has been right around the corner for weeks and I know the next week and a half is going to fly by.

Luckily, I'm not usually one to stress about the holidays. I LOVE buying and giving gifts and I'm pretty much done shopping with a few things I still need to think up and pick up. Our little pink tree is up, the house is decorated, and we even hung some lights around the windows (inside, because we didn't have a ladder to put them outside). This week I have plans to make Christmas cookies with my mom, I have a holiday party with friends, and I'm hoping to make it to the Christmas Village in Center City. This will also be the year I have a proper white Christmas since we are spending Christmas weekend with G's family in western NY. I have a lot of mixed feelings about that, but mostly I hope the snow feels magical and not like a huge pain in the ass.

So here we are with the perfect Christmas cookie. These are basically chewy, soft ginger snaps. A cross between a ginger snap and a molasses cookie that's spicy enough to hold it's own even when dipped in thick white chocolate. This recipe has been foolproof for me. I've made them with both an electric mixer and a wooden spoon and honestly, I liked the spoon method better. Less dishes and a little arm exercise never hurt nobody.

White Chocolate Dipped Spiced Molasses Cookies

Yields 2 dozen cookies
Adapted from this recipe

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground clove
3/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
10 oz package of white chocolate wafers**

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar, shortening, and molasses with a wooden spoon until fully combined. Add in egg. Once combined, add in flour, spices, and salt and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Once it does, roll dough into 1–1 1/2 inch balls, press the top into the 3 tablespoons of sugar, and place 2 inches apart on a ungreased baking sheet (or line with a nonstick baking mat). Bake for 10-15 minutes on the center rack. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Cool completely.

When the cookies are cooled, place white chocolate wafers in a microwave safe bowl and melt in the microwave. To prevent chocolate from burning, turn microwave to half power and zap for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. Don't over heat. Dip each cookie into the chocolate halfway, let some extra drip off and place on a cooling rack with wax paper underneath or a sheet of wax paper. If you are adding sprinkles, you'll want to do that right away after dipping so they stick to the wet chocolate. Once chocolate is dry, store in an air tight container.

** I used these Ghirardelli 10oz package of white chocolate wafers and it was the perfect amount for these cookies. You can also melt down white chocolate chips, heated in the microwave the same way. I would recommend against those candy wafers that you can buy for at-home candy making because they are chocolate flavored and not actual chocolate (and I personally find them disgusting). You could also absolutely switch out dark or milk chocolate for the white if you fancy that.

Recipe: Cranberry Fizz

I'm recently all about the fancy cocktail. Give me all the gin and vodka and bitters and muddled fruit and fancy garnish and hopefully an attractive bearded well-dressed bartender to mix the drink up. There's just something about a well-made cocktail in a beautiful glass that marks a celebration perfectly. But when I make drinks for a party or gathering, I like to keep it simple. It's cheaper, faster, and people still feel like they are getting a special drink but it only took you a few minutes to throw together. So let's throw some champagne and cranberry juice in a glass, garnish with frozen cranberries and tiny limes and get on with the celebrating, okay? 

Cranberry Fizz

Makes one drink

1-2 oz of 100% cranberry juice (the tarter the better)
3-4 oz of champagne
squeeze of lime juice
frozen cranberries, for garnish

This is a pretty lackluster recipe since it's such a simple cocktail. Add cranberry juice to a champagne flute and top with champagne. Squeeze in a quarter of a lime and garnish with a couple frozen cranberries. Serve immediately.

On a slightly related note, I bought a bag of the tiniest limes I've ever seen from Whole Foods! Smaller than key limes and incredibly juicy and pretty perfect for a cocktail. Still trying to figure out what they were because I threw the bag away...

Recipe: Apple Galette

It's the time of year when everyone goes pumpkin crazy. I'm honestly surprised they don't have a pumpkin aisle in Trader Joe's because they must have released 45 pumpkin flavored things this year. Don't get me wrong, I like pumpkin, but that's like whoa. Not kidding that I saw pumpkin spice chicken sausage at the supermarket this week. THAT SOUNDS SO BAD. We've taken it too far. Let's just save the pumpkin for baked goods and coffee, okay? Can we be decent and do that?

With pumpkin getting all the Fall hype lately, what about the apple? There was a time when Fall also meant celebrating the apple. Apple pie, Carmel apples, Jewish apple cake, just simply picking your own apples. But this weekend, there's no time to sit and make a whole pie. So we're making the quirky, fancier-than-it-really-is stepcousin, an apple galette! Easy to throw together. Impress your friends. Top it with ice cream and enjoy it with some pumpkin coffee.

Apple Galette

Yields 6-8 slices

  • 1 store-bought pie crust
  • 2 apples (1 granny smith, and 1 honey crisp)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or make an egg wash)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel, core, and slice your apples in thin slices. 

In a large bowl, mix sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and mix to combine. Add apples, add lemon juice, and toss until the apples are covered in the mixture. 

Roll out a pie crust onto a very lightly greased baking sheet. Arrange the apples in a circular pattern, starting from the center and working your way around. Leave 2 inches of crust around the outside for folding in the next step.

Fold the sides inward, working your way around the galette and overlapping slightly. Cut the tablespoons of butter into smaller chunks and sprinkle them around the tops of the apples. Brush the crust with maple syrup (or egg wash) and sprinkle a little sugar. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm!

Recipe: Grapefruit & Rosemary Gin Cocktail

I have something to admit. I didn't know I liked gin. **Cue gasps**

Most of the time I've been able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage legally, I've been a simple vodka girl. Specifically, vodka and club soda with as many limes as you can shove into the glass. Fancy cocktails kind of overwhelmed me. So many ingredients I didn't really know. Spirits that I wasn't familiar with. What do angostura bitters taste like? All in a glass for $9. But recently I've been on a quest to try more things and of course new cocktails falls into that goal.

Recently I found myself meeting friends at a whiskey bar (which I know I dislike), searching for a cocktail that wasn't whiskey and decided a gin-based cocktail would do the trick. And it was great! I'm sold! So I bought a bottle of gin and made you this cocktail. It's that easy folks.

Grapefruit & Rosemary Gin Cocktail

Yields one cocktail

  • 1/2 cup of grapefruit juice
  • 2-4 ounces gin
  • 1 oz rosemary-infused simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 4 dashed of Angostura bitters
  • Rosemary sprig for garnish

To make the simple syrup: Bring 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sugar, and 2 sprigs of rosemary to a slight boil in a small sauce pan. Stir until sugar is dissolved, then turn off the heat and let the rosemary sit in liquid for 30 mins. Transfer to an airtight container and let cool completely in the fridge before use. 

To make the cocktail, pour grapefruit juice, gin, and simple syrup over ice in a glass. Add dashes of bitters and stir to incorporate. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and enjoy.

Recipe: Lime Tart with Whipped Coconut Cream

It might be September, but summer isn't over yet. It's been in the high '80s all week, I spent the weekend with my parents at the shore, and still have one more shore weekend planned before I'm ready to pack up my shorts and call this the best summer in existence. I think you should hold on to the last moments of summer as well. Make yourself a lime tart and celebrate.

Lime Tart with Graham Cracker Crust

Yields 6-8 servings

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 11 crackers)
6 tablespoons of melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons of sugar

Lime Filling
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup lime juice (about 5 limes worth)

Pulse graham crackers in a food processor to make crumbs. Add butter, salt, and sugar and pulse until just combined. Pour crumbs into tart pan and press evenly across the bottom and sides. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees until a slightly darker color and fragrant. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks. Pour filling into pre-baked crust and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool. 

Whipped Coconut Cream

Adapted from Shutterbean's Whipped Coconut Cream

1 can of coconut cream**
teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of agave syrup
toasted coconut (optional)

**Shutterbean has a great explanation for using canned coconut cream and getting the coconut water off.

Add coconut cream, vanilla, and agave into the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat with whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add to a piping bag with a star tip and pipe around the outside of the tart and in the center. Top with toasted coconut. Refrigerate covered for up to a week. 

This dessert has a strong lime flavor and pretty tart, which is why I've adapted Shutterbean's recipe to make a sweeter whipped coconut cream. That, with the buttery crust, makes this an easy dessert that packs a lot of punch. I also like to add extra toasted coconut to mine once I cut it. Yum!