Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies with Chambord-Mascarpone Filling – also known as my favorite cookies of all time

Chocolate thumbprint cookies with mascarpone chambord filling

chambord mascarpone cookies

From the archives: This was originally published on 2/14/10, however I’ve noticed renewed interest with the holidays coming up. People have been using this recipe for Christmas cookie swaps or holiday baking exchanges. And why not? It’s elegant and tasty! So read on for the recipe!

My mom found the recipe for these cookies in our local newspaper’s holiday cookie contest. When she makes them, they look like they came out of a professional bakery. When I make them, they look like they were a 5-year-old’s first baking project. But it doesn’t really matter because, lucky for us, they’re delicious either way.

I’m not going to lie to you; they’re a lot of work. You have to make the dough, chill the dough, roll the dough and coat in sugar, make the filling, fill the cookies, and then melt and pipe chocolate over the top. But, again, these are my favorite cookies ever and I will gladly put in the work because the end product is just so fantastic.

The cookies are flavorful and crunchy on the outside. The filling is creamy, sweet, and full of berry flavor. The chocolate topping is deep and rich and perfectly complements the cookies. They are ideal to serve to company because they have the right combination of fancy-schmancy and homemade rustic-ness about them.

The combination of Chambord and mascarpone is a winner. The Chambord gives the filling a rich berry flavor. You can substitute any berry liqueur or brandy. I bet cherry brandy or creme de cassis would be great here. Or you can leave out the alcohol altogether and add a teaspoon of raspberry extract. Mascarpone is awesome – creamy and fresh and yummy. If you can’t find any at your local grocery store, you can actually make your own. You could probably also substitute cream cheese, but I haven’t tried that so I don’t know how it would taste.

But you have to make them! I’ve never had anything like these cookies before. The flavor combination is unbelievable.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

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Buttery Shortbread Cookies

When anyone mentions dessert, we tend to think of ooey-gooey concoctions dripping in chocolate, filled with creamy frosting, or drizzled in caramel. “Plain” old shortbread doesn’t usually come to mind. Well, these cookies are here to change all that. They are bursting with the flavor of butter, the aroma of vanilla, and a nice hint of background saltiness. When you bite into one, it crumbles beautifully in your mouth and then melts away as you chew.

These cookies are the perfect vehicle for jam. Or, like in the first picture, lemon curd. Or you can just smother it in frosting. But I feel like that would overwhelm the shortbread as a unique and delicious flavor all on its own. These are a great ending to a nice meal. Serve with coffee for dipping!
Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Meyer Lemon Bars

meyer lemon mascarpone blondies

Ok, I am beginning to think that I just don’t like Meyer lemons. I was uninspired by a pots de creme recipe last week so I needed to take another shot by making some lemon bars. And again, they were quite good – sweet and light. But I found myself longing for the tang of Eureka lemons. I like my citrus desserts to be sharp and sour.

For example, I love key lime pie. Key limes produce really tart juice and a slice of that pie is wonderful with a scoop of whipped cream on top. And now I’m going to give you my recipe for key lime pie. Really, it’s a pretty standard recipe that’s available all over the internet. It’s so easy that it needs three sentences.  Mix one can of sweetened condensed milk, 4 egg yolks, and 1/2 cup key lime juice until incorporated. Pour into a graham cracker crust and bake at 350°F until set, about 20 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours and serve with whipped cream. So easy! And so delicious!

But back to the bars. I liked them, but I didn’t think there was anything special there. I would eat them again, but I wouldn’t take the time and energy to make them again. Look out for recipes in the future where I use regular old Eureka lemons for that mouth-watering pucker.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Meyer Lemon Pots de Creme

meyer lemon pots de creme

Speaking of ingredients we’ve never cooked with before, I managed to get my hands on some Meyer lemons. I’d heard so much about their delicate flavor, their lack of pucker-inducing sourness, their almost sweet aftertaste.  I scoured the internet for the best recipe to make use of my precious lemons. And I found this one, for pots de creme.  French for “pots of cream.” I know, I should be a professional translator. Essentially, they’re little custard cups, made mostly with eggs and cream. You have to bake them in a water bath. See my notes towards the bottom of the post for tips about that.

Anyway, I was really excited about this recipe. And the little custards came out yummy. But it appears I’ve come to expect that pucker from lemony desserts. I actually missed it. These seemed kind of mild. Sure, they were creamy and sweet (but not too sweet) with just a hint of lemon. But I found myself wishing lemon was more of a star and less of an aftertaste. I’m not sure if I just didn’t use the right recipe to highlight the Meyer lemons or if I’m just a sucker for regular, super sour Eureka lemons.

So I recommend this recipe for people who like milder lemon flavor or creamy custards. I probably won’t make it again. I prefer lemon tarts or bars with a nice zip to the them. But I wouldn’t turn it down if somebody offered it to me, so it’s not like it’s bad. It’s just not for me.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Buckwheat Cake with Sea Salt

buckwheat cake

The recipe for this cake sounded very unusual: buckwheat flour, rum, salt?! I did have a bottle of dark rum just begging to be used up, and for some reason, I also had buckwheat flour in the pantry. So I figured, why not? And I’m so glad I did!

Everything in this cake is so perfectly balanced: lightly sweetened and a kick of salt, not too airy or too dense, no distracting frosting or toppings, a deep and interesting but not over-the-top flavor. It goes great with a cup of tea or an after-dinner drink like Frangelico. The salt provides a really nice contrast to the sweet cake. It highlights the flavor without being overwhelming.

My photos certainly don’t do it justice. It was really difficult taking a good photo of this cake. I even made it twice and tried to make the pictures look better on the second pass, but no luck. You’ll just have to take my word for it. This cake is divine. And all the family members who tried it loved it. Even my little cousin, who was confused about why it was salty, still gave it a thumbs up.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Shortcut Baklava

shortcut baklava cup

My mom and I were making some spanakopitas the other night and we had a couple of sheets of leftover phyllo dough. I thought it would be a good idea to cut the dough into squares, stick them into a muffin tin and bake them to make little cups for a dessert. I then made a less-complicated version of baklava filling on the stove top and spooned it into the pre-baked cups. It was so easy and tasty!

You can make it even easier by buying already-made phyllo cups at your grocery store. But for those who like working with phyllo, I’ve included directions below on how to make these.

I love desserts that use nuts and honey and the wonderful thing about this shortcut baklava is that you can taste as you go and adjust flavors to your liking. Don’t like cloves? You can substitute allspice instead. Only have pistachios in your pantry? Just use a cup of those! This would also be tasty with some lemon zest or some almond extract. Experiment and see what you get! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Chewy Chocolate Fudge Cookies

I made these warm, gooey, fudgey, chocolaty cookies three times. And they quickly disappeared each time. At first I thought they would be too light because this recipe calls for beaten egg whites. But that fear went away when I bit into one: warm and fudgey in the middle, chewy on the outside.  Make sure not to leave them in the oven for too long – at this high temperature, they can turn from perfect chocolatey consistency to hard and burnt pretty quickly. These cookies will be even better if you use a higher-quality chocolate like Scharffen Berger or Valrhona.

Don’t be afraid of the chili powder! It might seem like an odd ingredient in chocolate chip cookies, but it doesn’t add any spiciness — it just increases the deep flavor of the chocolate.

I highly recommend you make these cookies. They’re delicious and deep and dark and fudgey and gooey and wonderful. They got rave reviews from my family and friends. And they are worth it.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon-Cognac Glaze

If you’re wondering what to do with some leftover pumpkin puree, I demand you make these scones at once. I went to a pot luck the other night and these pumpkin mini scones were a huge hit! It had a “fall harvest” theme and what could be more fall than pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves? The scones were light and moist and everybody loved the addition of alcohol to the icing. I made a double batch of mini scones so I would have enough for everybody, but I’m including the single recipe here. Double it if you’re going to a party! You probably won’t have to bring any back home.  I highly recommend these scones – the pumpkin flavor is pretty mild, but the spices make it sing!

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Dulce de Leche Brownies

My mom had this recipe sitting on our kitchen table for about 6 months. I’m not joking! She had made several cans of dulce de leche by boiling them in a pot of water and found a brownie recipe that she kept begging me to make. Well, I finally gave it and the results were fantastic. The brownies were so chocolatey and the pockets of dulce de leche were gooey and sweet. I think I messed something up in this recipe because my brownie batter wasn’t very easy to work with. It was kind of greasy and it stayed in one big lump instead of spreading out like a liquid. But it still tasted great!

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Soft and Chewy Ginger Cookies

I love to bake these cookies around the holidays – they’re full of spice and perfect on a really cold winter night with a glass of milk. (Soy milk for me because I’m lactose-intolerant!) But I just couldn’t wait for those cold nights to come around. I was craving them. My favorite part about these cookies is that they stay moist and chewy for days if you keep them in some airtight tupperware. And they taste just like gingerbread! (without that hard, brittle texture).

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…