Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cookies aka “Terry the Berry” Cookies

The inspiration for these comes from my cousin Terry, who texted me one day wondering if I happened to have a recipe for cookies made with dark chocolate and raspberries.  I didn’t — but I was game.  The issue I’ve had in the past with cookies made with fresh berries is that the fruit tends to bleed out too much liquid and often results in a big mess — or mediocre, soggy cookies.  But after some research, I’ve found that some experienced bakers use frozen berries instead of fresh in their drop cookie recipes.  I decided to give it a try.  It worked.  These Dark Chocolate Raspberry cookies are dense and decadent.  They’re named after my cousin whose nickname in the family is “Terry the Berry.”  I have no idea why we call her that.  She’s also known as “Terry Next Door, ” because, well, she used to live next door. We’re really not that creative.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar.
  3. Add the eggs, corn syrup and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.
  4. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chunks and the raspberries.
  7. Roll dough into balls and place about two inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 12-14 minutes.

*Yield: Approximately 24 cookies

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I took a plate of these cookies to a PPO meeting at my kids’ school. Jason and Julia couldn’t keep their hands off them. They must be good.

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Maple Squares

I could not let the sugaring off season go by without posting at least one maple recipe.  These squares are basically tarte au sucre —maple sugar pie— for dummies (i.e. people who can’t make a decent pie crust, aka ME.)  I still remember the first time I tried tarte au sucre.  One of my father’s French-Canadian friends invited our family up to his chalet.  After dinner, his wife served us maple sugar pie.  I will never forget that first bite.  It was like nothing I had ever tasted before: rich, sweet and delicious.  It’s still my favourite part of the sugar shack meal.

Ingredients:

For the base:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold butter, cubed

For the filling:

  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (35%)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a 9×9 baking pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper, allowing some of the parchment paper to overhang.  This will make it easier to remove the squares from the pan later on.
  2. Using a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Pulse until combined.
  3. Add the cold butter and process until the mixture starts to hold together and form a ball.  This may take a minute or two.
  4.  Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  5. Next, prepare the filling. In a bowl,  whisk together the brown sugar and eggs.  Add the maple syrup, cream, salt and melted butter.  Whisk until combined.
  6. Pour filling over the base and bake for 1 hour.
  7. Allow to cool before removing from pan and slicing into squares.  Do not attempt to cut the squares unless they are completely cool or they may fall apart.

 


Italian Almond Cookies

These are my father’s favourite cookies.  Like a lot of Italians, he is a big fan of anything almond flavoured.  This is my take on a recipe I cut out of an Italian magazine many years ago.  That recipe consisted of a list of ingredients and very few instructions.  In my experience, most of  the Italian mammas, zias and nonnas I know do not write any recipes down — everything is done from memory and instinct.  I had several disastrous batches before I got these just right.  The original recipe called for all-purpose flour, but I like to use a combination of all-purpose and almond flour.  The almond flour adds moisture and tenderness. The end result is a cookie that is still quite crunchy – with a chewy centre – and a pretty pronounced almond flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp almond extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • slivered almonds, for garnish

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and grease baking sheets with non stick spray.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the flour, almond 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 almond 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 balls into the powdered sugar.  Place about two inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Press a few slivered almonds into the centre of each cookie.
  7. Bake for 15-17 minutes.  Store completely cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to one week   These almond cookies freeze extremely well.  They can be kept in an airtight container in the freezer for up to three months.

*Yield: Approximately 30 cookies


Big & Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

These are the oatmeal cookies you daydream about on rainy Sunday afternoons when there’s nothing good on TV…or maybe that’s just me.  In any case, these cookies are real good. The addition of cornstarch ensures the cookies remain perfectly chewy on the inside, and a little crispy on the outside. A touch of molasses adds depth of flavour to an otherwise simple treat.  I also like to add some shredded coconut to my oatmeal cookies — this is more for texture than flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  •  2 1/2 cups oats
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)

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, coconut and raisins (if using.)
  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.
  8. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

*Yield: Approximately 18 large cookies


Zucchini Carrot Coconut Bread

This is a hearty and delicious bread flavoured with cinnamon and ginger.  My kids love to have this for breakfast…try a slice with a little peanut butter spread on top.  I use pure maple syrup to sweeten this bread, with just a small amount of brown sugar to round things out. The maple syrup adds a subtle sweetness to this loaf and makes it very moist.  I also like to use spelt flour in this recipe because I’ve found it adds a lighter texture to cakes, as compared to whole wheat flour.  It also has a bit of a nuttier flavour, which works well in this recipe.  The other great thing about this bread is that it freezes extremely well.  Just wrap the cooled loaves in plastic wrap and place in a resealable freezer bag.  You can keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups spelt or whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F and grease two 8 x 4 loaf pans with non stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, brown sugar and vanilla.
  4. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  5. Fold in the zucchini, carrots and coconut.  Stir until fully incorporated.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a loaf comes out clean.
  7. Cool cakes completely before removing from pans.

*Yield:  Two 8×4 loaves


Lemon Ricotta Cookies

If there’s one sweet treat that reminds me of Easter and spring, it’s this one.  Lemon Ricotta cookies are probably my favourite cookies in the world.  These are soft, cake-like and drizzled with a sweet, tart lemon glaze.  If you’re not crazy about the glaze, you can dust these with a little powdered sugar — or nothing at all.  Either way, they’re delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • juice and zest from 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • one 300g container of ricotta (about 2 cups)

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3- 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • sprinkles, 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, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and mix until fully incorporated.
  5. Add the ricotta, lemon juice, zest and lemon 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 lemon 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: 24 cookies 


Carrot Cupcakes

‘Tis the season for carrot cupcakes.  My favourite part of most cupcakes is the frosting.  Now, there are two camps of people when it comes to cupcakes; the icing-lickers who use the cake part of the cupcake merely as a conduit for the frosting, and then there are those who scrape the icing off and eat only the cake (which is terribly, terribly wrong.)  The icing I use for these babies is a decadent vanilla-bean mascarpone buttercream.  I’m surprised any of it actually made it onto the cupcakes.  For those of you who don’t like the best part of the cupcake, unfrosted carrot cupcakes make great snacks!

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts, plus more for garnish (optional)

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together carrots, eggs, sour cream, sugars, oil and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.  Add walnuts (if using) and stir until fully incorporated.
  5. Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting the cupcakes.
  6. Make frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter and mascarpone until light and fluffy.
  7. Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time.
  8. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla bean seeds, the heavy cream and the salt.  Whip until fully combined.  If the icing is too soft, add a bit more powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached.  If the frosting is too stiff, add a little heavy cream to thin it out.
  9. Frosted cupcakes can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.

*Yield: 24 cupcakes