Super Bowl Sunday

T-minus 2-ish hours until the big game.

You could say I’m a little excited. Actually scratch that. More than a little excited.

I bet you can guess why. If not, just look at the pictures that follow. I’m pretty sure that will clear it up.

Super Bowl Sunday

Cleared up for you? You see I’m kind of sort of totally into football (who knew, right?). And, I rather enjoy being apart of the 12th man. One could say that picture above is the epitome of 12th-manning it. I mean, my Hustle Like Russell Shirt, that chipped glitter blue polish, the large Seahawks helmet ring, and lets not forget the star of the picture, that cupcake.

My oh my what a good-looking cupcake. Blue and Green never looked better on something.

Super Bowl Sunday

I give you Super Bowl Sunday Chocolate Cupcakes with Blue and Green Swirl Vanilla Frosting and Football Sprinkles. Could it get any better than that?

Why yes, yes it can, with these Shortbread Chocolate Dipped Football Cookies.

Super Bowl Sunday

That right there is the bomb.com

But, don’t worry, it gets better. Much MUCH better.

Super Bowl Sunday

What are those you ask? Caramel Blondies with Seahawk flag toothpicks (courtesy of Emerald City Sisters Design). I’m dying at how yummy they are (no, seriously) and at how stickin adorbs these toothpicks are. I mean come on, tell me you don’t just love them.

Super Bowl Sunday

I’ll stop now. I just couldn’t let the day go by without you seeing the dessert spread I put out for the game. I mean, I totally maybe value your opinion. No big deal or anything.

Super Bowl Sunday

Wait, I lied. One more thing. LETS GO SEAHAWKS.

Chocolate Dipped Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Pecan Shortbread CookiesYou know what I was just thinking?

It feels like it’s been forever since I made cookies. Like, I can’t even remember the last cookie I made. Eek.

Oh God, when was the last time I ate a cookie?

I. Can’t. Even. Remember.

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Is it sad that I’m sort of maybe totally kind of panicking? Cause I am. You gotta understand, it’s a pretty sad day when you realize you haven’t made or eaten a cookie in what seems like a million years.

A. Million. Years.

So, as we can see, when I panic I apparently like to over exaggerate. It hasn’t been a million years, but it has been about seven months since I shared a cookie recipe. You have to admit, that’s kind of a long time. I don’t even know how that happened. Definitely not intentional either. I wouldn’t deprive you like that on purpose. That would just be cruel.

Funny enough, the last recipe I posted was also a chocolate dipped cookie. I really don’t know how that slipped my mind considering it was the beginning of my obsession with dipping the bottoms of cookies. I find it unfair for the top of the cookie to have all the fun. Fair point, huh? The dipped bottom, to me, is like putting a big fat shiny bow on top of a present; it just makes it that much better.

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

These cookies almost didn’t make it up on the blog. Why you ask? Oh, let me just tell you. For those that don’t know or don’t remember, my brother has two huskies, (Ms.) Meeka and (Mr.) Archer (look here for their picture). They are the cutest things on the planet. And, that is in no way an exaggeration. Scouts honor on that one. As a rule we don’t feed them human food, mainly because they have super sensitive stomachs and can’t seem to handle it. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t try to eat human food whenever they get a chance. Adorable troublemakers. That’s what they are.

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

I’m sure you noticed these cookies require some work–I swear the end product is so totally worth it though. The dining room table became my work station, or at least half of the table did. It’s a pretty big table. Decent height. Lined with chairs on each side. I had rows of finished cookies just sitting on wax paper as I finished up with the caramel outlining. There was about five cookies left when it happened.

Meeka, my lovely little niece, came running in and quite literally face dived into a row of completed cookies. I repeat face dived. She tasted licked about two rows worth of cookies before I could pull her away. TWO. ROWS. WORTH. That’s a lot of deliciousness (and hard work, I might add) that went straight into the trash. Oh, and the kicker, in the panic I forgot to finishing filling in the trees with caramel on the cookie I had been working on when the face dive occurred. Ask me when I realized this? When I was opening the container filled with cookies to give to one of my coworkers. I was completely embarrassed. Like, blushing hardcore red. I gave someone an unfinished cookie. Poor under-decorated cookie. Poor person eating the cookie. Sad. Sad. Sad. Luckily, my coworker didn’t seem too mind at all. Thank the Baker God’s on that one.

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Anyways, I should probably tell you a little about these cookies. It’s a buttery, melt in your mouth, shortbread cookie packed with chopped up pecan pieces dipped in milk chocolate and then outlined with some caramel. Oh, and it’s stamped with a Merry Christmas cookie stamp to make it festively beautiful. This is probably the first cookie I’ve made that I received equal amounts of compliments on taste and looks. Seriously, people love these cookies. I ate more than half of love these cookies. And, clearly, dogs love them too.

You know what that all adds up to, right?

Winning.

And, the fact, that I absolutely insist that you go make them. If you don’t, I may or may not have to force feed you to eat them. You don’t want that. You just don’t.

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate Dipped Pecan Shortbread Cookies
Yields: about 30 large cookies

Utensils:
Merry Christmas Cookie Stamp
Large circle cookie cutter

Ingredients:
2 cup (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans
3 cups milk chocolate candy melts
1/2 cup of caramel

Directions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy.
Beat in powdered sugar until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add salt and cornstarch. Mix until incorporated. Gradually beat in the flour until combined.
Using a spatula, fold in the chopped pecans.
Gather the dough as best you can into a ball and place on a piece of parchment paper. Cover the top of the dough with another piece of parchment paper and roll to ½ inch thick. Slide the parchment-covered dough onto a cutting board and place in the fridge. Let chill for about 50-60 minutes.
After the dough is finished chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a large circular cookie cutter (or, cup that is slightly larger than the stamp), cut your cookies into circles. Firmly press the cookie stamp into each cookie-if the dough becomes too sticky or tough to work with place back in the fridge until it’s easier to handle.
Bake for 6 minutes, reverse tray (this will ensure an even color on the cookies!), and bake for another 5 more minutes or until lightly brown.
Let cookies cool for about a minute on the cookie sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Once cookies have completely cooled, melt the milk chocolate candy melts in a microwave safe bowl, in 15 second intervals, until of drizzling consistency. Dip the bottoms of each cookie in the melted chocolate. Place cookie upside down on parchment paper until the chocolate has hardened.
Once chocolate has hardened, flip the cookie around. Using a piping bag with a very small tip or simply dipping a toothpick in the caramel (I used the toothpick method, it takes more time, but it ensures that the ‘Merry Christmas’ stays legible), fill in the stamped part of each cookie with caramel.

 

Pecan Shortbread Cookies

No-Bake Mocha Cheesecake

No-Bake Mocha Cheesecake

I’d like to apologize.

I don’t know where my manners went.

How could I have forgotten to wish you a Happy National Coffee Day?

How selfish of me. And rude. And mean.

Okay, I’m just being dramatic here. But, seriously, Happy Belated National Coffee Day.

How belated exactly? Fourteen days. National Coffee Day was on September 29th. Better late than never, right?

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If it makes you feel better, I didn’t really celebrate. In fact, I only had one cup of coffee that day, which is much smaller than my usual amount. Saddening, I know.

This is why we (yes, you and I…no one wants to celebrate alone) need to sit down, clink are forks together, and dig into some No-Bake Mocha Cheesecake.

Or, should I say some No-Bake Mocha Cheesecake with a Kona Coffee Shortbread Crust topped generously with homemade whipped cream and mocha syrup.

Try saying that five times fast. It’s a mouthful. A delicious mouthful. A coffee infused mouthful. But, still, a little long. Hence the shorter name for this dessert.

Let’s break this down.

No-Bake Mocha Cheesecake

Starting from the bottom, we have a Kona Coffee Shortbread Crust. Sounds like a lot of work to make, huh? It’s not. Trader Joe’s has these amazingggg Kona Coffee Creamy Half-dipped Shortbread Cookies, which you simply have to crush up and bam snap clap (just go with it) you have a crust for your cheesecake.

Next up, we have the Mocha Cheesecake. The mocha flavoring is very subtle and doesn’t overpower the creamy taste of the cheesecake in any way. In fact, you don’t taste the mocha until you swallow your first bite. The flavor is easily adaptable too—want more mocha? Add more of the mocha coffee. Need it to be sweeter? Add more sugar. Want a hint of vanilla? Add some vanilla extract. Play with the taste of the cheesecake until you love it.

Lastly, we have the optional, but highly recommended toppings of homemade whipped cream and mocha syrup. This isn’t a very sweet dessert, so adding the whipped cream definitely kicks up the sweetness a little bit. The syrup tastes exactly like mocha—a little chocolate, a little coffee, and a little bit bitter—and adds the perfect final touch to this dessert.
No-Bake Mocha CheesecakeAs a whole, you definitely taste the coffee in this sweet treat. Which, if you think about it, is the ideal way to honor National Coffee Day…no matter how belated we may be.

No-Bake Mocha Cheesecake
Yields: 5-6 servings

Ingredients:
Kona Coffee Shortbread Crust
9 Kona Coffee Shortbread Cookies (I bought these at Trader Joe’s)

Mocha Cheesecake
1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3-1/2 cup Starbucks Bottled Mocha Frappuccino Coffee
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, optional

Mocha Syrup & Whipped Cream (optional)
1/2 cup Starbucks Bottled Mocha Frappuccino Coffee
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
whipped cream, for garnish

Directions:
Kona Coffee Shortbread Crust & Mocha Cheesecake
In a food processor, pulse the Kona Coffee Shortbread Cookies until finely crumbled–I added butter to help combine the crust, but it ended up getting a little hard (still delicious, but you had to stab it with your spoon for it to crumble) after the cheesecakes chilled in the fridge, so I suggest not to use butter, or if the crust needs help combining, add just a little bit of melted unsalted butter to help.
Divide the crumbles into each mason jar equally and press into the bottom. Set aside.
In a stand mixer with a whip attachment, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Scrape into a separate bowl (you can reserve half a cup to use as a garnish on the cheesecakes or you can make fresh whipped cream after the cheesecakes have chilled, up to you!) and set aside.
Using the same bowl you whipped the heavy cream in, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the sugar, mocha, and vanilla (if you decide to use it) until combined–the taste is up to you, if you want it to be more mocha flavored add more of the mocha coffee, if you want it to be sweeter add more sugar, or if you want a hint of vanilla add some vanilla extract. Using a spatula fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake mixture until just incorporated.
Spoon or pipe the cheesecake mixture evenly into the mason jars, make sure to smooth the tops. Let chill for two hours in the fridge.

Mocha Syrup & Whipped Cream
While the cheesecakes are chilling, make the mocha syrup. In a small saucepan, whisk together the mocha coffee, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until syrup begins to thicken.
Once thickened, remove saucepan from heat and stir in the vanilla. Let mixture cool down before pouring over the cheesecakes.
Top cheesecakes with reserved or fresh whipped cream and drizzle generously with mocha syrup.

*Mocha Syrup recipe adapted from Pastry Affair

 

No-Bake Mocha Cheesecake

Toasted Coconut XOXO Shortbread Cookies

Toasted Coconut XOXO Shortbread CookiesWhen I think XOXO, the first thought that immediately follows is Gossip Girl. Yup, you got me, I used to watch the show. My second thought is the more traditional, hugs and kisses. Probably what your first instinct was, huh?

Well, did you know that thinking hugs and kisses isn’t technically right? Apparently, the X is supposed to stand for kisses and the O is supposed to stand for hugs. So, really, we should be saying kisses and hugs. Can I tell you how I know this? I spent a good twenty minutes researching the meaning of XOXO. I had never really thought about why it represented hugs and kisses—yes, I will continue to say it this way, because I think it sounds better…feel free to join me—until I started making these cookies. And, once I thought about it, I really wanted to know the answer. So, here we go. Your very own lesson on the History of XOXO—now you can’t say I never gave you anything for Valentine’s Day.

Back in the Middle Ages, many people couldn’t read or write, and when they were presented with a document requiring a signature of understanding, they would simply write the letter X on the signature line. The X was meant to represent the cross and convey that in Christ’s name the contents of the document were true. But, wait, that has nothing to do with kisses! You’re right, it doesn’t. The kissing part of the story has been debated, but the common theory is that many individuals after signing the X would then kiss the X as a symbol of truly believing in what the document stood for. Sounds legitimate, right? Some people don’t think so. They choose to believe that the X simply looks like two triangle-faced individuals locking lips. Hence, X meaning kisses.

The O, on the other hand, has a history that is still very much debated. Some will argue that it was created by Jewish immigrants, who wanted their own way of signing documents that wasn’t related to the Christian X. Others say that the game of tic-tac-toe provided the inspiration for using the letter O when people decided they wanted another letter to represent a different kind of affection. Or, it could just be that an O looks like two open arms hugging.

What do you think?

Toasted Coconut XOXO Shortbread CookiesAnyways, let’s talk about chocolate X’s and O’s covered in toasted coconut shreds on top of a buttery, coconuty shortbread cookie. Excuse me, as I go eat one right now.

The base of these little loveable bad boys is shortbread. A really reallyyy good shortbread. Before decorating them with X’s and O’s, my Dad taste tested a cookie and asked me if I had really made them. When I said yes—worried, mind you, that I somehow messed up the recipe—he said that they tasted like something you would buy at a bakery. Let me just tell you something about my Dad. He’s not a sugar-coater, if he likes something he’ll tell you, and if he doesn’t, you’ll know too. So, as you can tell, his compliment meant a lot to me. I found the recipe for this shortbread in a little wooden recipe box that used to be my Grandma’s. I don’t know where she got it or if it came from a recipe book, but what I do know is that I will never use another shortbread recipe again. And, since I like you so much, I’m gonna share it!

I wanted a little something more than just shortbread for Valentine’s Day, so I decided to spruce the dough up with coconut. Can I just say, it was the BEST decision ever. The shortbread cookie itself has that buttery, soft, melt in your mouth taste. The addition of coconut from both the extract, which isn’t overpowering, and the toasted coconut shreds, which adds a little crunch to each bite, leaves you with a subtly infused coconut cookie that isn’t overly sweet. I didn’t stop there though. The cookie is then decorated with semi-sweet chocolate and covered with more toasted coconut shreds in the form of X’s and O’s. Again, BEST decision ever.

Toasted Coconut XOXO Shortbread CookiesBelieve me when I say that you can’t go wrong with these cookies. Seriously. Make them for your Valentine, a friend, your family, or for that special someone who doesn’t know that you like them yet. These cookies should definitely win that person over. Oh, and Happy [Early] Valentine’s Day. May it be filled with lots of X’s and O’s.

Toasted Coconut XOXO Shortbread Cookies
Yields: about 30 cookies

Utensils:
Scalloped circle cookie cutter
X cookie cutter
O cookie cutter
Piping bag (or, Ziploc bag) & small tip
Toothpick(s)

Ingredients:
Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies
1 heaping cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
½ cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coconut extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Toasted Coconut & Chocolate Topping
¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Vegetable shortening, as needed

Directions:
Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies
Using a food processor (or, blender), pulse the toasted shredded coconut until coarsely ground. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy.
Beat in powdered sugar until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add salt, cornstarch, and coconut extract. Mix until incorporated.
Gradually beat in the flour until combined, and then mix in the toasted coconut.
Gather the dough as best you can into a ball and place on a piece of parchment paper. Cover the top of the dough with another piece of parchment paper and roll to ½ inch thick. Slide the parchment-covered dough onto a cutting board and place in the fridge. Let chill for about 30 minutes.
After the dough is finished chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using the scalloped cookie cutter cut cookies—if the dough becomes too sticky or tough to work with place back in the fridge until it’s easier to handle.
Bake for 6 minutes, reverse tray (this will ensure an even color on the cookies!), and bake for another 5 more minutes or until lightly brown.
Let cookies cool for about a minute on the cookie sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Toasted Coconut & Chocolate Topping
While the cookies are cooling, coarsely ground (with a food processor or blender) the lightly toasted shredded coconut. Set aside.
Once the cookies have cooled completely, melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and a little vegetable shortening in a microwave safe bowl (microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth).
Lightly press the X or O cookie cutter into the bowl of melted chocolate—make sure the cookie cutter has enough chocolate on the rim so that the outline will show up on the cookies. Use a toothpick to add or take away chocolate as needed. Gently press the X or O chocolate covered cookie cutter into the middle of the cookie and then lift up, there should be an outline of the letter—if the outline is incomplete, dip a toothpick in the melted chocolate and complete the outline by hand.
Working quickly, use either a piping bag or toothpick to fill in the letter completely with melted chocolate (I found the toothpick method to be easiest…just pretend the toothpick is like a painting brush)—if the chocolate begins to harden, place back in the microwave for another 15 seconds or until of drizzling consistency.
Once the letter is filled in with chocolate, sprinkle the toasted coconut over the letter. Dust off the extra coconut. If needed use a toothpick to add more coconut to a specific spot or to help keep the shape of the letter intact.
Using a piping bag with a small tip (or Ziploc), trace the scalloped edge of the cookie with chocolate. Re-melt the chocolate as needed.
Repeat the above steps, alternating between the X and O cookie cutter, until all the cookies are finished.

 

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XOXO,
Meggan

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Cookies

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread CookiesHave you heard the song “I Miss You” by Blink-182?

If you haven’t, there is a line that references The Nightmare Before Christmas: “ We can live like Jack and Sally if we want, where you can always find me, and we’ll have Halloween on Christmas”. These cookies remind me of Halloween on Christmas. Or, really it’s more of Christmas on Halloween. It’s the cookie cutters.

Cookie cutters instantly make me think of Christmas time. Specifically, it makes me think of sitting at the table, covered in flour, wearing an over-sized apron, as my two younger cousins and I frost and sprinkle (in an excessive amount that only an eight year old would consider edible) our sugar cookies.

One of my cousins, Jason, was even around as I glazed and took photos of these cookies. Actually, he always seems to be around during my dessert photo shoots. I think it’s so he can pick out which slice or cookie to eat first. In this case, he went for the owl. Followed by two bats. And later, a ghost.

Even though I’m a fan of enjoying each holiday as it comes (unlike the stores, who like to rub holidays in your face months in advance…I’ve seen Valentine’s Day stuff already…Are you kidding me?), it was actually kind of nice to think of these as Christmas on Halloween cookies. It really put me in a festive mood and made me even more excited for my future holiday baking, which I didn’t think was possible.

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Cookies

These Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Cookies are the perfect fall treat! The shortbread cookie itself is simple to make and has a buttery flavor with a subtle hint of pumpkin spice. The glaze is made from pumpkin spice flavored candy melts, giving each bite the perfect punch of pumpkin spice. So, if you’re in need of a pick me up, some festive spirit, or just a delicious pumpkin flavored cookie, make these. Get in your kitchen. You won’t regret it. And your relatives, like mine, will happily devour them.

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Cookies
Yields: about 40 cookies

Ingredients:
Shortbread Cookies
½ cup (1 stick) salted-butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon pumpkin spice
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

Glaze & Decorations
1 bag pumpkin spice candy melts
1 cup black candy melts
4 teaspoons shortening (plus some more if melts start to harden)

Directions:
Shortbread Cookies
In a large bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese, until well combined.
Gradually add the powdered sugar, baking powder, pumpkin spice, and salt. Beat until combined.
Add eggs and vanilla. Mix until incorporated.
Slowly beat in flour, until mixture forms into dough.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Let chill for about an hour or until dough is easy to handle.
Once dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough until about ¼ inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out dough.
Place cutouts an inch apart on a ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 5-7 minutes (I found the bats cooked faster and were done around 5 ½ minutes, but the bigger cutouts took a little longer) or until the edges start to lightly brown.
Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let them cool completely (I let mine sit over night).

Glaze & Decorations
In a microwave safe bowl, melt a cup of pumpkin spice flavored candy melts and two teaspoons of vegetable shortening. Microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until the mixture is smooth (the hotter the mixture, the easier it is to glaze the cookies).
When glazing, I found that pouring the mixture into a piping bag or Ziploc bag (with the tip cut off) was extremely helpful. Pipe the outline of the cookie first and then fill the inside with glaze.
If the glaze begins to harden, add some more vegetable shortening and microwave until it becomes smooth.
Once all the cookies have been glazed orange, melt a cup of the black candy melts and two teaspoons of vegetable shortening. Microwave in 15 second intervals, until smooth.
Using a toothpick (or, a piping bag if that’s easier for you) add faces to your cookies—remember, it’s Halloween, so have fun with your faces and don’t stress if they aren’t perfect!

 
Isn’t the skeleton cup the cutest thing ever? Don’t even get me started on the napkin…

Pumpkin Spice Shortbread Cookies