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This is the third oatmeal cranberry white chocolate cookie recipe I’ve posted on my blog, the others being Cooks’ Illustrated and Serious Eats, and I think this one is one of the more successful ones. (Got my coworkers’ stamp of approval!) I usually have little faith in corporate recipes and I don’t believe them to be as rigorously tested as other baking blogs, but I decided to give this one a shot because it had a surprisingly low sugar-to-cookie ratio and it also looked really easy.

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And it turned out great! I loved that it wasn’t too sweet, and it felt almost healthful in certain bites. I feel like most cookie recipes tend to be overly sweet, and I usually have no problems reducing sugar by 1/4 cup or so to no ill effect. The other perk of this recipe is that it bakes at a slightly higher temperature of 375F than the standard 350F, so it didn’t spread out too much, had a crisp edge but still retained a chewy center.

Since it is an Ocean Spray recipe, I found that the 5 oz portion of cranberries that was listed was excessive and I only used about 3 oz, or until the cookie dough looked sufficiently studded with cranberries.

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Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Ocean Spray
Makes approximately 40 two-bite sized cookies

2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 oz dried cranberries
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

It’s been so long since I last updated my baking blog! But this comeback recipe would be well worth your time – it is a homemade version of my most favorite cookie ever (and I don’t use superlatives lightly) – the Tim Tam!

 

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Tim Tams are chocolate overloads in a little package. You have a chocolate biscuit sandwich with a malty chocolate buttercream filling, which is then dipped into creamy chocolate. Chocolate3! My next favorite cookie are probably Loackers and I enjoy it for the same reason I do Tim Tams – that textural contrast, mmm. Note that Tim Tams and Loackers are from Australia and Italy respectively. America, can you please step up your cookie game?! Happy to take any recommendations.

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Here’s a close-up cross-section of the cookie. I think what really elevates the cookie is the malted chocolate filling. I don’t even know how to describe the taste of malt. I just spent five minutes Googling it and it looks like the Internet doesn’t know either. To me, it tastes like nostalgia and afternoon snacks composed of Milo drinks and Hup Seng cream crackers.

Anyway, Whoppers (or Maltesers, for my Commonwealth folk) have a malt interior.

Now that I have expounded upon my love for this cookie, let me nerd out about the recipe I tried. The cookie made surely wasn’t perfect, but I’ve analyzed what exactly to watch out for to ensure utmost approximation to the original cookie.

  • I tried both a dark chocolate and a milk chocolate coating. I used Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate for the other half batch and I would recommend using more coconut oil than recommended to compensate for the lower fat content in the dark chocolate. The coating on the dark chocolate Tim Tams were more of a crisp shell than a creamy coating, which is not ideal.
  • Use good quality  chocolate to better approximate the high quality chocolate that Commonwealth countries get, i.e. not that sour chalky Hershey crap. I used American-produced Cadbury milk chocolate and that tasted decent.
  • Try as much as possible to roll the cookies to a 1/4 inch. It’ll also help with ensuring cookie crispness. You want that nice contrast between crunchy cookie and creamy chocolate.
  • Dip the cookie sandwiches sparingly into the melted chocolate. Otherwise, the chocolate coating ratio goes all awry.

Enough talk, on to the recipe! I made very minor edits to the source.

Homemade Tim Tams
Adapted from Elizabeth LaBau, originally from The Sugar Hit Cookbook
Serves: 14 Tim Tams
Ingredients
For the Cookies:
  • 4 oz (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup, or 115 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 oz (1/3 cup, or 30 g) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 5½ oz (1 cup, or 150 g) all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
For the Filling:
  • 4 oz (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 oz (1 cup, or 115 g) powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp malted drink powder (like Ovaltine or Horlicks)
For the Coating:
  • 10 oz (280 g) milk or dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (if using dark chocolate, use 1.5 tbsp)
Instructions
To Make the Cookies:
  1. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and cream until pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, and add the egg and continue beating until the egg is incorporate and the mixture lightens in color. Add the cocoa powder and beat until there are no lumps. Finally, fold through the flour and salt until it is all incorporated. The dough will be very soft.
  2. Scrape the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Add a second sheet of paper on top, and roll out the dough between the two sheets until it is a rectangle about ¼-inch thick. Place the dough on a tray and freeze it for 30 minutes, or refrigerate it for 1-2 hours, until firm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  4. Cut the chilled dough into 28 small 1¼ in x 2½ in rectangles. Place them in evenly spaced intervals on the baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet.
To Make the Filling:
  1. Cream the butter until soft, then sift in the remaining ingredients and beat until light and fluffy. Spread a heaping teaspoon of filling on half of the cookies, or transfer the frosting to a piping bag and pipe an even layer of filling on half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies, then put in the refrigerator to chill while you make the coating.
To Assemble:
  1. For the coating, place the chocolate and coconut oil in a heat-proof bowl and melt them together in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring after every 30 seconds to prevent overheating. Once the chocolate is mostly melted, remove and stir gently until smooth.
  2. Using a fork or dipping tools, dip a chilled cookie in the melted chocolate and place it back on the baking sheet. If you want to create a wavy pattern on top of the cookies, lightly press the tines of the fork or dipping tool to the top while the chocolate is still wet. Repeat until all of the cookies are dipped. Chill in the refrigerator, then devour!

The end of summer is one of the best times to eat seasonally, as plenty of produce are in abundance. While I enjoy sweet juicy summer fruits like peaches and berries on its own, zucchini, a summer squash, needs a little transformation to truly be palatable. My favorite way of consuming zucchini is in the form of a quick bread, like I’ve done before.

Then 19-cent Trader Joe’s bananas beckoned to me and I thought… how about a banana zucchini bread?! Banana bread is awesome. Zucchini bread is awesome. They should be married together in a happy bread combination!

I knew I wanted chocolate in my bread, because sweets don’t spell “dessert” to me unless there’s chocolate in it. I started off by looking at banana zucchini bread recipes, and after comparing a few, I used this Allrecipes recipe as a base and made some tweaks. I halved the recipe because I don’t want to be eating banana zucchini bread for days. I also used less sugar, knowing that the banana and the chocolate will add a bit of sweetness. I used less flour as I wanted the bread to be more chunky from half-mashed banana pieces and chocolate bits, and added more zucchini so the bread would be moister.

And it was perfect. The muffins have a delectably browned muffin top, and the inside is studded with mashed banana, chocolate chunks, and walnut pieces. It’s not quite as sweet as a typical banana bread, yet is still very moist. I love the textural contrast that this moist yet densely packed muffin provides. At 204 calories apiece, I think I’ll allow myself a few more.

Banana Zucchini Bread with Chocolate and Walnuts
Adapted from Allrecipes
Makes 12 muffins or 1 8×4 loaf pan

1 1/2 (73g) large eggs
6 tbsps vegetable oil
1/3 cup (67g) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (45g) white sugar
1 cup grated zucchini
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups (180g)  sieved all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (34g) dark chocolate (optional, can be swapped out for raisins, cranberries, etc.)
1/4 cup (30g) chopped walnuts (optional, can be swapped out for pecans)
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. If making a loaf, grease and flour one 8×4 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until light yellow and frothy. Add oil, brown sugar, white sugar, grated zucchini, bananas, and vanilla; blend together until well combined. Stir in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the chocolate and nuts. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes for muffins, or 50 minutes for a loaf. Allow to cool in the muffin cups or loaf pan on a wire rack before removing and serving.

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I am pretty certain that this red velvet cheesecake brownie takes the cake for being an all-star red velvet recipe. If you’re at all familiar with what makes red velvet red velvet, you’ll know that it is a subtle balance of tang and cocoa. It’s chocolatey but not quite (from a scant amount of cocoa powder), sour but not quite (from the buttermilk). Another defining quality of red velvet cake is its cream cheese frosting. Last weekend, I happened to be in Grand Central and I bought a Magnolia red velvet cupcake to satisfy my craving. No dice – the frosting was a weakly flavored meringue frosting, ugh. My palate teased, I had to make some legit red velvet.

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This recipe though, was a winner. While it may not be a classic red velvet cake, it’s got the key elements in it – cream cheese and a cocoa-y tang. I love how simple it is to whip up – it didn’t require any finicky preparation method, and I enjoyed that the “frosting” in this brownie is dolloped onto the brownie batter and haphazardly swirled in. It ended up not looking too shabby even though I was supposed to reserve some of the brownie batter to layer on top of the cream cheese dollops so the swirls would be more refined.

The texture of the brownie is more cakey/fudgy than dense, like a traditional brownie. I personally like the brownies chilled since the cream cheese is a little more refreshing there. All those who have tried the brownies like it a lot (although I’ve learned to recalibrate the compliments I receive re: my cooking – very good means good, good means okay, okay means it was terrible.)

This recipe differs from the Food Network recipe it was derived from (which I made 4 years ago) in that there’s more butter in the brownie batter and less egg in the cheesecake filling, so it’s more moist and the cheesecake layer tastes less eggy.

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Red Velvet Marble Cheesecake Brownies
Makes 1 8×8 pan
Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

This recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction had grams pre-calculated – yess!

Brownie Batter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup (21g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon liquid or gel red food coloring
3/4 teaspoon white vinegar
3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour

Cheesecake
8 ounces (224g) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Make the brownie layer first. In a small bowl, beat the 2 eggs together. Set aside. Melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments until melted. Stir in 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar. Mix each of those ingredients into the batter in that order. Whisk in the eggs, then fold in the flour until completely incorporated. Do not overmix. Pour the brownie batter into prepared baking pan, leaving about 3-4 Tablespoons for the top.

Make the cheesecake swirl. With a hand-held mixer on medium speed (or a stand mixer, which is what I used), beat the softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl until completely smooth – about 1 minute. Dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture on top of the prepared brownie batter. Cover with the last few tablespoons of brownie batter. Glide a knife through the layers, creating a swirl pattern.

Bake the brownies for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting into squares. Cover brownies and store at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Brownies will freeze well, up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

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These are the second oatmeal cranberry white chocolate cookie recipe on this blog, the first being a Cooks’ Illustrated version I posted five years ago. Wow, has it really been that long? Anyhow, the cranberry-white chocolate flavor combination is very fall/winter, but it finally feels legitimately like spring in New York – I think my cookies must have chased the cold away. These cookies weren’t quite what I was hoping them to be. They turned out a little flat, but they did have crisp edges and a chewy centre as promised by the recipe. It’ll serve to please both crisp and chewy cookie-lovers alike. The caramelized flavor is strong on the edges, but tempers out when you encounter wholesome rolled oats and tart cranberries in the middle.

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Chewy-Crispy Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes approximately 40 cookies
From Serious Eats

Ingredients

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups (about 6 1/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
3/4 cup (about 6 ounces) light brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips

1
In a small bowl, combine oats and water; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt; set aside. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. As soon as it’s melted, remove from heat and stir in sugar and brown sugar. Add egg, stirring quickly until incorporated. Add flour mixture to the pan and stir to combine. Stir in oats, cranberries, and white chocolate. Cover dough with plastic wrap and put in freezer for at least 2 hours.

2
Adjust oven rack to lower and upper middle positions and preheat oven to 350°F. Drop cookies by the rounded tablespoon (I did 20-22 grams) onto prepared cookie sheets and bake until brown on top, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely before moving.

IMG_4283This brownie recipe is the strongest I’ve seen in a while, and will likely go in the hall of fame for being a delicious combination of flavors and textures that are irresistible to me. When I was making the recipe, I was at first a little suspicious. Why is there more chocolate than there is butter? There’s just as much sugar as butter! And one whole TABLESPOON of vanilla? That’s crazy!

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But I persevered and made the recipe as it is and I did not regret it. Firstly, the smell of this is intoxicating. It has the woodsy fragrance of bourbon and vanilla, without an alcoholic bite. It also smells a little comforting like a cup of coffee, even though there’s no coffee in it and I don’t even drink coffee. (But I can appreciate the scent memory it holds for most people.) Be sure not to overbake the brownie, but you don’t have to worry about the brownie not holding together because when the chopped chocolate solidifies, it’ll hold everything together. It’s less a cakey brownie than a chewy, dense one with crunch from the chopped chocolate and, so keep that in mind depending on what you’re looking to make. The sprinkling of fleur de sel on the brownies isn’t necessary, but it does heighten the sweet, earthy, caramelly and woody flavor profile.

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Melty chocolate when warmed up, crunchy chocolate bits when cooled

 

Since the ingredients in this recipe are so simple, I highly recommend using good quality vanilla extract and chocolate. I used Trader Joe’s bourbon vanilla, and their Pound Plus Semi-Sweet Chocolate. You do NOT want to use chocolate chips in this once, since it’ll throw off the texture. Take the effort to chop the chocolate, and you’ll be rewarded with craggy, crunchy chocolate bits with a chocolate-flavored batter.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Bourbon Brownies
From The Vanilla Bean Blog
Makes one 9×9 pan

1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla (use genuine vanilla extract, since this is quite a lot of it)
2 tablespoons bourbon
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse salt [to taste]
Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 9 inch square pan, and line pan with a parchment sling.

Heat the brown sugar and butter together in a saucepan until the sugar is melted into a gooey mass with the butter, stirring occasionally. Let cool. Whisk flour and baking powder together, and set aside. Add egg, vanilla, salt, and bourbon to the cooled butter mixture, and beat together. Stir in the flour, and then the chocolate, until just combined. Spread batter in the pan, and bake 18-22 minutes, until light golden brown, and a tooth pick comes out clean, being very careful not to over bake. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Let cool in the pan, then carefully lift sling from the pan and cut into squares.

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After having a red velvet cupcake from Two Little Red Hens, my hankering for red velvet cupcakes was insatiable. It’s unfortunate how far away Two Little Red Hens is from my apartment, so it’s a rare treat that I have maybe a couple of times a year. I was desiring a red velvet cupcake up till a week after I had my first bite and had to quell the thirst immediately. For some inane reason there are no decent red velvet cupcakes within a ten block radius of my apartment.

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Making these cupcakes was also a bit of a triumph for me. My left hand had been bit by a dog in the last month, and the fracture I sustained with the inflexibility rendered by the deep scars meant I was still struggling to hold onto things with my hand, or carry heavy things.

These cupcakes are moist, and almost too oily for me. I think I had rather high standards after having a light and fluffy Two Little Red Hens cupcake, but well, I also don’t run a bakery. Other than that, the cupcake had a distinct red velvet taste – a balance between being tangy and cocoa-y. The frosting is creamy and delicious – I would suggest making sure it’s 100% lump-free before applying it onto your cupcake. I’d say these cupcakes aren’t deathly sweet and actually have a decent balance of flavor. I thought the batter was top-notch when I was licking it off the bowl, mmm.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes from Throwdown with Bobby Flay
Makes 14 cupcakes
Recipe from Cookie Madness

7 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cups minus a teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cups vegetable oil
6.5 ounces granulated sugar (1 cup minus 1 tablespoon)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (Jin: as a substitute, I used milk and a tablespoon of white vinegar, let it sit for five minutes to curdle and used that)
1 egg plus 2 tablespoons beaten egg
1 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon red food coloring
1/2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon water

For the cream cheese frosting:
6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz butter, room temperature
1/2 pound (1 ¾ cups) powdered sugar, sifted
3/4 vanilla extract

Preheat oven 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a bowl and set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat oil, sugar, and buttermilk until combined. Add eggs, food coloring, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well. Add the dry ingredients a little bit at a time and mix by hand until well mixed. Be sure not to overmix, or the batter will come out tough.

Line 14 cupcake cups with paper liners, scoop the batter into the liners dividing evenly (a little over halfway full) and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

For the cream cheese frosting:

Whip the butter and cream cheese together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until creamed. Gradually add powdered sugar to the mixture and scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.

Makes 14