Fig, Walnut & Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

This is a classed-up version of my  Big and Chewy Oatmeal Cookies. The chopped up figs practically melt into these cookies as they bake, creating a sticky sweetness that pairs beautifully with the smoky molasses. The addition of dark chocolate adds even more sophistication to an otherwise humble cookie, while the walnuts add texture and crunch.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 cup dried figs, chopped
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and spray baking sheets with non-stick spray.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, corn starch and salt.
  3. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar.
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla and molasses. Mix until combined.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the flour mixture. Beat until fully incorporated.
  6. Add the oats, figs, walnuts and chocolate.
  7. Roll generous 1/4 cup measures of dough into balls (you can use a medium- sized ice cream scoop for this.) Place two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. You can press a few chocolate chunks into the tops of the cookies before baking — it makes them look prettier.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

*Yield: Approximately 18 large cookies

 

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Lavender Sugar Cookies

I recently spent an afternoon visiting some beautiful lavender fields in St. Eustache, just north of Montreal. It was spectacular to see the rolling waves of lavender, in varying shades of purple and blue, as far as the eye could see. I felt as though I had stepped into a Claude Monet painting — or something fancy and French like that. It was definitely inspiring. Lavender is often used in baking; it lends a floral flavour to sweets that is actually quite nice. It’s important to use sparingly, however, or you risk having your sweets taste like soap. I bought a bag of dried culinary lavender during my visit, and decided to add some to my favourite sugar cookie recipe. The result is a soft, chewy cookie with a delicate lavender flavour. These taste great with a cup of tea.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup lavender sugar**
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease baking sheets with non-stick spray.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt.
  3. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and lavender sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and mix until combined. Add vanilla.
  5. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
  6. Use a medium-sized ice cream scoop to form the cookie dough into balls.
  7. Roll the balls in sugar. For an extra touch of flavour and colour, you can add a teaspoon of dried culinary lavender to the sugar before rolling the cookies into it.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes.

*Yield: Approximately 16 large cookies.

**To make lavender sugar combine 1 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of dried culinary lavender in a food processor or blender. Pulse until the lavender is evenly dispersed into the sugar. 

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Lavender fields in St. Eustache, Quebec.

 


Italian Hazelnut Cookies

Italy is one of the biggest producers of hazelnuts in the world. It’s no wonder this nut features quite prominently in many Italian desserts. This recipe is a hazelnut version of my Italian Almond Cookies. With their crunchy exterior and soft, tender centre, these cookies are perfect with your afternoon espresso.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp hazelnut extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups hazelnut flour
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • whole hazelnuts, for garnish

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease baking sheets with non stick spray.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the flour, hazelnut flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the sugars and oil.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Next, add the hazelnut extract.
  5. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the dry ingredients. Mix until fully combined. This is a relatively soft cookie dough.
  6. Form the dough into balls and roll into the powdered sugar. Place about two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Press a hazelnut into the centre of each cookie.
  7. Bake for 15-17 minutes.
  8. Store completely cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to one week. These hazelnut cookies freeze extremely well. They can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months.

*Yield: Approximately 30 cookies

 


Milk Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

Brownie cookies have become a bit of an obsession for me lately. They’re the perfect cross between a fudgy brownie and a dense chocolate chip cookie. This brownie cookie has a milk chocolate base and is studded with roasted, salted pistachios. It’s a delicious flavour combination — and the green pistachios contrast beautifully with the chocolate-brown cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup salted pistachios, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease baking sheets with non-stick spray.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt the unsweetened chocolate, butter and one cup of the chocolate chips. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar until very light and fluffy. This may take several minutes.
  4. Reduce speed to low and very slowly pour in the melted chocolate mixture.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until just combined.
  6. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips and pistachios.
  7. Chill dough for at least 15 minutes. This is a relatively soft cookie dough and it will be very difficult to form into balls unless it has been chilled. Do not skip this step!
  8. Roll chilled dough into balls and place at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle a few chopped pistachios on top.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

*Yield: 24 cookies

 


White Chocolate Chip Cookies

White chocolate is the underdog of the chocolate chip world, mainly because some (misguided) people think it’s not really chocolate.  The main ingredient in white chocolate is cocoa butter, which is derived from the cocoa bean.  So white chocolate IS chocolate.  It’s also delicious in these fudgy cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 tbsp corn syrup
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips + more for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease cookie sheets with non-stick spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy — about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, corn syrup and vanilla. Beat until fully incorporated.
  5. Turn mixer to low and slowly add in the flour mixture.  Beat until just combined.
  6. Stir in the white chocolate chips.
  7. Roll dough into balls and place about two inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Press a few white chocolate chips into the top of each cookie.
  8. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

*Yield: Approximately 24 cookies


Chocolate Espresso Brownie Cookies with Sea Salt

If Charlie Hunnam was a cookie this would be it. These are the perfect cross between a soft-baked chocolate chip cookie and an ooey-gooey brownie. The sea salt and espresso in this recipe enhance the deep chocolate flavour and strike the perfect balance of sweetness with just a touch of salty. This is one sexy cookie!

(P.S. If you don’t know who Charlie Hunnam is, do yourself a favour and Google image him. You’re welcome.)

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2  cups  semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease baking sheets with non-stick spray.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt the unsweetened chocolate, butter and one cup of the chocolate chips. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs, sugar and espresso powder until very light and fluffy.  This may take several minutes.
  4. Reduce speed to low and very slowly pour in the melted chocolate mixture.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix until just combined.
  6. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips.
  7. Chill dough for at least 15 minutes.  This is a relatively soft cookie dough and it will be very difficult to form into balls unless it has been chilled.  Do not skip this step!
  8. Roll chilled dough into balls and place at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Top with a few chocolate chips and a sprinkle of sea salt.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

*Yield: 24 cookies


Glazed Almond Ricotta Cookies

I love almond flavoured desserts. When I was a little girl, I was always fascinated by the perfectly-shaped and decorated marzipan fruit at the local Italian bakery.  I would glue my forehead to the glass window, just delighted by how closely the miniature marzipan fruit resembled the real thing. My dad would always buy me one…and I loved every almond-flavoured bite. When I last visited Sicily, I saw the most life-like frutta martorana — traditional hand-painted marzipan sweets — in the window of a bakery in Taormina. The artistry of these bakers is incredible. These soft, cake-like cookies have a very delicate almond and orange flavour. The orange glaze adds a nice citrusy pop, but you can also serve them with just a light dusting of powdered sugar.

 Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds or almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp juice and zest from 1 orange
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • one 300g container of ricotta (about 2 cups)

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp orange juice
  • slivered almonds, for decorating (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease baking sheets with non stick spray.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Add the ricotta, orange juice, zest and almond extract.  Mix well.
  6. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients.
  7. Roll the dough into balls and bake for 15 minutes. Cool cookies completely before glazing.
  8. To make the glaze: whisk together the powdered sugar and the orange juice. The glaze should be fairly thick so it doesn’t just run off the cookies. If your glaze is too thin, you can thicken it up by adding a little extra powdered sugar. Use the back of a spoon or a small off-set spatula to spread the glaze over the cookies. Allow the glaze to set for at least 3 hours before storing cookies in an air-tight container.

*Yield: Approximately 30 cookies 

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