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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Poppable Rice Krispie treats

I've had 2 disjointed thoughts about these treats that I feel the need to share with you:

1. Sometimes I see a recipe online, and I think to myself "that's brilliant!"  And after a second of berating myself with thoughts of "why didn't I think of that?!," I realize that I'd really like to give the creator of said recipe a giant hug or pat on the back.  Even though I don't know them and they'd probably be freaked out by me doing so, but still.  Latest on the list?  Most recently was Shelly from Cookies & Cups, and her Toasted Marshmallow Rice Krispie Treats (here's the link to mine).  And she did it again with these Krispie Treat Party Bites.

2. I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin anything.  I've decided it's two-fold: I don't like pumpkin pie spices and I don't like pumpkin itself that much, either.  But it's the first few days of cooler weather in New York City, and that screams FALL!! to me.  And to most people, fall means pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pie and all those festive pumpkin-y fall treats.  And I wanted to make a fall dessert for the cooler weather, but I wanted to avoid pumpkin.  So I needed to come up with something...


And now back to my regularly scheduled post:

Truth be told, I love Rice Krispie Treats.  Not the prepackaged, wrapped in blue foil ones you buy in the store but the tried-and-true homemade variety.  Sometimes, I think it's a waste to take the time to press them into a pan and set, since I think the best part is licking off the spatula!  And while these are a little more time intensive than bars that are pressed into a pan, they're utterly adorable and worth the slight increase in effort!

Because they're POPPABLE!  Mini Rice Krispie Treat balls rolled into nonpareil sprinkles, and made into a 1 or 2 bite snack!

See?  2 little bites....

And the best part?  You can make them to match any theme!  I made mine in yellow-orange-brown nonpareils because it's fall, but you could use any colored nonpareils to match the season or holiday or a party color theme.  Can you tell I'm a planner?!  Already thinking about making some of these for Halloween...

Poppable Rice Krispie Treats
From Cookies & Cups


1/3 cup nonpareil sprinkles, in your choice of color or combination
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
Pinch of salt (I left this out)
2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal (I used Trader Joe's brand)


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Set aside.

Place sprinkles in a bowl.
Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over low heat.
Add the mini marshmallows into the melted butter.
Stir frequently until the marshmallows are melted and smooth.
Immediately remove from the heat.

Stir in the cereal.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Lightly grease your hands and form the Krispie Treat mixture into 1 Tablespoon-sized balls.

Immediately roll each ball into the sprinkles, coating evenly.
Place each ball onto the lined baking sheet.
Repeat the process with the remainder of the Rice Krispie Treat mixture.

Try not to eat them all at once!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Coffee cake cookies

My family has all the holidays divvied up quite nicely and evenly.  Since as far back as I can remember, since my grandmother vacated her role of preparer of break fast (the meal after the fast of Yom Kippur, when I eat almost 300 times more calories in one meal than I typically eat in a day), my aunt has held the title.  And although the meal is chock full of delicious food (appetizing and bagels and cream cheese, oh my!) we feel the need for dessert.  Even though a typical breakfast doesn't have dessert, our break fast always does.

My grandmother still usually makes the coffee cake -- handed down to her from her mother, my great grandmother, and possibly (and likely) from generations before her -- but since she did some sort of acrobatics last month and ended up with a fractured shoulder (she's healing quite nicely and is quite the champ!), I graciously usurped the cake-baking responsibilities for her.  Here's the problem.  This recipe I talk of?  This heavenly coffee cake?  Well it's a family secret.  It's always referred to as "Nanny Rose's Coffee Cake," and even if you promised to call it "Julie's Great Grandmother Rose's Coffee Cake," I don't think my family would ever forgive me for sharing it with you.  I did bake it and talk about it on the blog almost 3 years ago (see here for that post and a fabulous picture of four generations of women on my mom's side -- me, my mother, my grandmother, and my two great grandmothers), but I figured it wasn't fair to have another post about the cake and leave you drooling with no recipe, so I decided it was only fair to also make some coffee cake cookies.  Because that recipe I can share with you!

My Great Grandmother's Coffee Cake

I saw this recipe for coffee cake cookies over 6 months ago and I emailed it to myself.  "I must make these," I thought to myself, but then I never did.  See, just about anything that is advertised as coffee cake gets my attention.  And if you say coffee crumb cake, well then I'm 1000% sold!  So imagine a coffee cake cookie topped with loads of crumb topping, in a portable snackable delicious cookie that's been dusted in a faint snowfall of powdered sugar?!  I can't believe it's taken me this long to make them!

Coffee Cake Cookies
From Cookies & Cups


For the crumb topping:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 2/3 cup flour

For the cookie:

10 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1.5 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 1/3 cup flour


powdered sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon liner.
Set aside.

Make the crumb topping.
Mix all the crumb ingredients together in a medium bowl.
Cut together with a pastry cutter or a fork until evenly mixed.
Refrigerate while making the dough.

Make the cookies.
Mix together the butter, shortening, and both sugars for 1-2 minutes on medium speed, until combined and smooth.
Add in cinnamon, eggs, and vanilla.
Continue mixing until evenly combined.
Turn mixer to low and mix in baking powder, salt, and flour.
Mix until dough comes together evenly.

Scoop cookies out using a cookie scoop or spoon (about 3 Tbsp) and place on lined cookie sheets.  If using a spoon, roll dough into balls.
Make an indentation in the center of the cookie dough.
Scoop at least 1 Tbsp of the crumb topping into the center of the dough, pressing lightly to stick.  Don't be afraid to cram it in!
Bake cookies for 9-10 minutes, or until edges start to get golden.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 3 minutes on cookie sheet.
Transfer cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Dust cooled cookies with powdered sugar, if you'd like.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Double chocolate chip cookies

Everyone likes a chocolate chip cookie, right?  That's what I thought when I set about choosing the last varieties of cookies that I was making for Rosh Hashanah lunch.  I made the soft, chewy oatmeal raisin cookies for my chocolate-hating sister (don't ask, I personally cannot explain this one).  I made the triple ginger cookies because, well, I wanted to make them.  And then I figured chocolate chip cookies would round out the assortment nicely.  I never got to the last few cookies that I wanted to make, including honey cookies (honey is a typical ingredient in Jewish cooking this time of year as it is used to symbolize a sweet new year), but that's OK because I'll just have to bake you some more cookies soon.  I know, you hate me for that, huh?

These cookies started out as run of the mill chocolate chip cookies, the Toll House variety to be exact, because they're just so tasty.  And I ended up baking a few of them that way.  But then I got all crazy and added mini -- mini!! -- white chocolate chips.  I think they're just the most adorable things out there, and particularly good for baking because I generally find white chocolate chips too sweet when they're the regular size.  Plus, these cookies were already chock-full of chocolate chips since I used the whole amount of semisweet chocolate chips already!

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Embellished from the Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels Bag


2 1/4 cups of flour (all-purpose)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar (granulated sugar)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12 oz package) Toll House semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup mini white chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 F.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. 
Beat butter, both sugars, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. 
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
Gradually beat in flour mixture. 
Stir in morsels.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets (I used parchment paper-lined baking sheets)
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown
Let cool on baking sheets

Triple ginger cookies revisited

A long time ago, I made these triple ginger cookies.  Almost 2.5 years ago, I made those cookies because of my love of ginger and I wanted a tasty cookie.  They turned out delicious, but given a lot of what was going on in my life at the time (grad school, portfolios, stress....), I didn't have all the ingredients on hand - I fell short on the crystallized ginger, I didn't have molasses so I subbed in corn syrup.  So while I ended up making a delicious cookie, I wanted to revisit this recipe and make them as they were supposed to be made.  But then I made a few smaller adjustments (no allspice, no cloves, because in my personal opinion, ugh!!).  All I have to say is, it was worth it!  These cookies were the star of our Rosh Hashana lunch!  My grandmother wanted me to make more for her, my cousin was literally drooling on the table cloth, and my aunt thought they were super tasty.  It's a good thing I made extra dough and froze it, because guess what I'm bringing (in addition to other things) to my aunt's house when we break the fast on Yom Kippur this week!

Triple Ginger Cookies
Adapted ever so slightly from Will Cook for Friends


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8th tsp. sea salt
3/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped fine
1 stick (4oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
2 tsp. freshly grated ginger*
1/4-1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

As per the original recipe, * Crystallized ginger can be chilled in the freezer to make chopping easier. Fresh ginger can be stored in the freezer for easier peeling and grating.


Sift together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.
Add in the chopped crystallized ginger, breaking up any clumps.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and fresh ginger.
Pour in the molasses and beat well.

Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.
The mixture should be thick and somewhat sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, fold the plastic over itself, and pat into a 1 inch thick disc.
Wrap it up and refrigerate until firm (at least 1-2 hours, or up to a few days).

Tear or break the dough into about 20 equal chunks, and roll each into a ball between your palms.
Roll each ball in granulated sugar, and return to the fridge to keep cool (rolled cookies can be stored in the fridge, or frozen in an airtight container, for future baking).

Preheat oven to 325F. 
Place the chilled balls of dough onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet, spacing them at least 1.5 inches apart.
Bake on the middle rack for 10-12 minutes, or until the surface begins to crack - for a crispier cookie, bake a few minutes longer (I like chewy cookies, personally, so I skipped the extra time).
Let the cookies cool 3-4 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Once completely cool, cookies can be stored in a baggie or airtight container for several days, or frozen...but they won't last that long.

Chewy oatmeal raisin cookies

Everyone says their mother makes the best brisket -- but mine really does!  Over three years ago, when B and I first met, we talked about my mom's brisket.  And although it took a while for him to actually get to try it, he happens to agree!

So it should come as no surprise that this year, when I asked my mom what I could bake for dessert for Rosh Hashana, she said "Just some cookies.  We don't really ever eat dessert because we always fill up on the brisket and the meal, and I don't want you to go overboard with dessert."  Well, I got half of it right....I made cookies, but not just cookies, lots of cookies.  A variety of cookies -- 4 types, to be exact!  I had set my goals a little loftier at first (I had about 8 kinds of cookies I wanted to make) but time was not on my side, and some had to fall by the wayside.  

Of the ones I actually got to make, the first up were these chewy oatmeal raisin cookies. 

Now I've made my fair share of oatmeal raisin cookies in the past, but one of my biggest complaints was that they weren't quite as soft and chewy as I'd like.  The flavor was always spot on, but sometimes they were perfect out of the oven, but once they cooled they were a little on the crispier side.  OK, not the worst thing in the world, but sometimes you could really just go for a soft chewy cookie.  This recipe was the answer!!

From Sally's Baking Addiction


1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar (I used light because that's what I had on hand)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp molasses
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon (I used a little more because I love cinnamon!)
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins (soaked in warm water for about 10 minutes to plump them up, then drained and blotted to dry them)
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional.  I left these out because (a) I don't like nuts in my baked goods, and (b) we are having a nut-free holiday because my nut-allergic cousin is coming)


Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars on medium speed until smooth.
Add the eggs and mix on high until combined, about 1 minute.
Scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
Add the vanilla and molasses and mix on high until combined.
Set aside.

In a separate bowl, toss the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together.
Add to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined.
Beat in the oats, raisins, and walnuts (if using) on low speed.
The dough will be thick yet very sticky.
Chill the dough for 30-60 minutes in the fridge.  
If chilling for longer (up to 2 days), allow the dough to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling and baking.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Set aside.

Roll balls of dough (about 1.5 Tbsp worth) and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Or use a cookie scoop for uniform cookies, which I prefer to do.
Bake for 10 minutes until very lightly browned on the sides.  The centers will look very soft and undone.
Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes (the cookies will continue to "set" on the baking sheet) before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make ahead tip: Cookies stay fresh, covered and at room temperature, for up to 1 week.  Baked cookies freeze well, up to 3 months.  Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well, up to 3 months, and do not need to be thawed but just be baked for an extra minute

Friday, September 11, 2015

I know it's not technically baked but.....HUMMUS!

B and I were in Israel for a week at the end of August.  It was my first trip and it was absolutely amazing!  The food, the sights, the people, the culture....did I mention the food?!

One of the (many) culinary highlights of the trip was the hummus.  Honestly, it is worlds different than the stuff you buy off the shelves in the grocery stores here in the states!  It's much paler in color, and smoother in consistency, and the flavor....oh, the flavor....I can't even begin to describe!  We didn't get enough hummus while we were there (I know, it's hard to believe, but I was obsessed!), despite me telling people that in the seven days we were in Israel I ate at least 50 pitas with some sort of hummus or tahini.  I might be slightly over exaggerating, but I'm not entirely sure that it's not the truth.

So it was amazing that a few days after we got back from Israel, I saw a link on my Facebook feed titled "The Secret to the Creamiest, Dreamiest Hummus."  And even more fitting, it was a recipe from an Israeli guy who has a hummus restaurant in Philly, which B has tried and said was the closest to the hummus you can get over in Israel while here in the states.

And I knew I had to make it.  Now if only I could find good, fresh, authentic pita bread here to eat with it....guess that'll be up on the list of things I'll be needing to bake soon....(I served mine with pita chips and pieces of flour tortilla, but mainly because I forgot to buy pita at the grocery store, each of the three times I was there today).

Israeli-Style Hummus
Found on Bon Appetit, originally from Michael Solomonov


1 cup dried chickpeas
2 tsp baking soda, divided
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1/3 cup (or more) fresh lemon juice
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more
2/3 cup tahini
1/4 tsp (or more) ground cumin -- I despise hate cumin, so I left this out.  Next time I might up the lemon/garlic/salt mixture a little for a little extra flavor
Olive oil, paprika, and fresh parsley for serving


Place chickpeas and 1 tsp baking soda in a medium bowl.
Add cold water to cover by 2 inches.
Cover and let sit at room temperature until chickpeas have doubled in size, 8-12 hours.
Drain and rinse (I didn't rinse them....oops).

Combine soaked chickpeas and remaining 1 tsp baking soda in a large saucepan.
Add cold water to cover by at least 2 inches.
Bring to a boil, skimming surface as needed.
Reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover.
Simmer until chickpeas are tender and really falling apart, about 45-60 minutes.
Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, process the garlic, lemon juice, and 1 tsp salt in a food processor until coarsely purred.
Let sit 10 minutes to allow the garlic to mellow.

Strain the garlic mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing on solids to release as much liquid as possible.
Discard the solids.
Return the liquid to the food processor.
Add tahini and pulse to combine.
With the motor running, add 1/4 cup ice water by the Tablespoonful and process (it may seize up at first) until the mixture is very smooth, pale, and thick.
Add chickpeas (and cumin, if using) and process, occasionally scraping down sides, until mixture is extremely smooth, about 4 minutes.
Then with more water, if you prefer.
Taste and season with more salt/lemon juice/cumin, if desired.

Spoon hummus into a shallow bowl, making a well in the center.
Drizzle liberally with oil, and top as desired (my preference is paprika and fresh parsley).


I've made challah twice in my life.  The first time, I had the perfect braid, but it was a bit dense.  The second time, I made an apple challah for Rosh Hashana, and I remember it being good, but not much else.  I thought I made it for the blog but I can't find it anywhere in the archives, which means it was either pre-JulieBakes or I just never posted it.  Oh well.  I was hoping this recipe would be a keeper, and I could just forget about the other two.  Looks like it was a success!

Every year for the Jewish High Holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur), I buy round challahs from a bakery in Crown Heights near my office.  (Round challahs are customary for Rosh Hashana and the high holidays, whereas other times they're usually long and braided.)  They are, in my opinion, the best challahs one can buy, -- and so well priced!  I like mine with raisins on the holidays, but my sisters don't.  So I end up bringing home a bunch of challahs, some with raisins and some without.  But this year, my schedule was such that my last day of work before Rosh Hashana was a few days before the holiday, and I didn't want so bring home challahs a few days before and have them be stale.  So since I was off the Friday before the holiday, I decided to attempt challah again.

I went with the recipe I found on SmittenKitchen, because, well, I think Deb's blog is amazing (I call her Deb though I don't know her at all; I assume if we did meet, we'd hit it off quite nicely) and everything I've made from it has been fantastic.  And plus, it was the first place I looked and I felt I didn't need to go any further.  Duh!  And added bonus, it makes two loaves -- so I went with one with raisins (for me!) and one without (for my sisters).

I had trouble with the braiding directions that she gave, so I ended up making a long 3-strand braided raisin challah (because it's not round, it won't be served on the holidays, but I don't mind that much since I can sample some today!) and a 6-strand braided plain round challah.

From Smitten Kitchen


3 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (about 1.5 packages, but I ended up using two full packages)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing bowl (believe it or not, I couldn't find vegetable oil at Whole Foods, so I used canola)
5 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp table salt
8 to 8.5 cups all-purpose flour (I ended up needing 8 cups)
1/2 cup raisins per challah, if using, plumped in hot water and drained, and blotted dry
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional, I opted not)


In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 Tbsp sugar in water (I used my stand mixer bowl).
Set aside for 5 minutes until a bit foamy.

Whisk oil into yeast.
Then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time.
Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and salt.
Gradually add flour.
When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.  (Deb says: You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading, but be careful if using a standard size KitchenAid - it's a bit much for it, though it can be done -- I used the stand mixer for mixing but ended up kneading the dough on the counter).

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.
Clean out bowl and grease it (I used a different bowl since I needed my stand mixer for other things....stay tuned!).
Return dough to the bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap.
Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size (alternately you can let it rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees and then turned off).

Punch down dough.
Cover and let rise again in a warm place for another 30 minutes.

If using raisins, this is the point at which you should knead them in.

Smitten Kitchen talks about how to braid the challah but I had a really hard time following it, so I ended up doing a 3-strand braid and a 6-strand "fishbone."  Her directions on braiding are as follows:

"To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way."

Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches between.  I did this but they rose so much they were touching.  I recommend doing 2 separate baking sheets, with one challah on each.

Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves.  If baking challahs immediately, save egg for second brushing later on.

If baking immediately, let rise another house.  If freezing, freeze them now.

If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375F.
Brush loaves again with egg wash.  I brushed them for the second time right before placing them in the oven.
If using, sprinkle with seeds.
If you previously froze the loaves, remove them from the freezer 5 hours before baking.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool loaves on a rack.

Deb also says: Note: Any of the three risings can be done in the fridge for a few hours, for more deeply-developed flavor. When you’re ready to work with it again, bring it back to room temperature before moving onto the next step.