Trail Mix Cookies

Sweet, salty, and crunchy - the perfect mix-and-match cookies!  These Trail Mix Cookies are hearty and full of nuts, seeds, fruit, and grains.

Trail Mix Cookies

My baby boy started pre-school on Monday.  Let's all take a moment (mostly just me) to let that sink in...

...

Okay, but seriously – how can that be?!?!  To celebrate, we made these delicious Trail Mix Cookies together.  If that's all you came here for, then go ahead and scroll down.  But if you want to read a bit about my darling boy (even if it's just me and maybe my mom coming back to read this 10 years from now), then keep reading.

Trail Mix Cookies
Trail Mix Cookies

Oh Everett James... I am so proud!  My baby boy is still so sweet, sensitive, and without an aggressive bone in his little body.  But while he still asks for cuddles, he is also brave, silly, and clever.  It's funny, I feel like he is one of lasts ones left of all my friends' kids to go to school/daycare but he is only 2.5 years old.  I didn't start pre-school until I was 3, so who knows.  What I do know is that he is going to thrive in this program.

Everett spends a lot of time with adults so I am excited for him to truly interact with kids his own age.  Sure we go to music class and gymnastics, but this is his first time without mom or our wonderful nanny.  Being around adults all the time has made him quite mature, curious, and patient.  He looks before he leaps and likes to figure things out first instead diving right in.  I swear I can hear the wheels churning is his little brain while he tries to take in a new situation sometimes.  He gets nervous when there are too many kids around, especially when they are being rowdy.  He likes rules and order, unless I'm telling him not to do something that he really wants to do, haha.  Having a January birthday likely means he is the oldest in his new class.  I hope he learns to play hard and be a bit more free-spirited while also being a leader for those little ones that are lot younger than him.

Trail Mix Cookies

Things he's into these day:
– Cars of all kind
– Jumping off the furniture and rough-housing with dad
– Riding his balance bike
– Cooking with mom (mainly smoothies, granola, and cookies/muffins/bread)
– Books
– Learning his letters, numbers, and colors
– Riding the SkyTrain
– Swimming at Nan's house
– Singings songs (nursery rhymes and show tunes, lol)
– Beach life

Trail Mix Cookies

Okay, on to the cookies.... oh these cookies are soooo good!  I literally can't stop eating them and I don't even feel bad about it.  The recipes comes from America's Test Kitchen's latest masterpiece: The Perfect Cookie.  Perfect, indeed!

ATK really nailed this book.  Seriously.  They killed it - in a good way.  It is jam-packed with recipe after recipe for cookies, brownies, and bars – each one tested and retested until perfection.  What I absolutely LOVE about this book is that each and every recipe comes with a section called "Why This Recipe Works" which breaks down not only what the cookies should taste/look/feel like, but all the tips/tricks, techniques, and exact ingredients that went into creating the perfect recipe.  I live for this stuff!!  If you like to know the how's and why's behind your recipes, then get this book!

Trail Mix Cookies
Trail Mix Cookies

I book-marked over a dozen recipes to make, but I ultimately picked the Trail Mix Cookies because I had all of the ingredients already.  All of the ingredients that I wanted to use, that is.  I love this recipe because it is totally customizable.  The base is actually on the healthy-ish side (as far as cookies go) using only a little melted butter, whole wheat flour, and tons of oats.  The fun comes with all the add-ins.  I live for add-ins!  These hearty cookies are filled with an assortment of nuts, seeds, fruit, and a little bit of chocolate (because you can't leave out the chocolate, am I right?).  These were also fun for Everett to make because he got to scoop and toss in so many different ingredients.  In the end, we went with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds (ours were salted and made the cookies perfectly salty/sweet), dried cherries, and chopped walnuts.  Feel free to mix and match your own batch with whatever you have on hand!

Trail Mix Cookies
recipe from The Perfect Cookie

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
splash almond extract (optional)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup dried fruit (cherries, cranberries, raisins, currants)
1/2 cup seeds (pumpkin or sunflower)
1/4 cup toasted, chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds)
1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a small-medium bowl, stir together the oats, flours, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the butter, egg, vanilla, and almond (is using).  Add in the brown sugar and stir until no clumps remain. Add in the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to stir until just combined.  Add in the nuts, seeds, fruit, and chocolate.  Fold until evenly distributed.

Using a mechanical disher, scoop out balls of dough (about 2 tablespoons) and place on the lined baking sheets at least 2-inches apart.  Bake for 14 to 18 minutes (depending on the size of your cookies).  When done, the edges should be set but the center should look almost raw and undercooked.  Let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Thank you the America's Test Kitchen for providing a copy of The Perfect Cookie.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.
 

 

 

BAILEYS Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

Fudgey, almost brownie-like cookies with flakey sea salt filled with espresso ganache and Baileys cream frosting.

Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies with Baileys cream and espresso ganache

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner.  This year, I am tapping into my (very) inner Irish side and making these BAILEYS Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies!  Creamy, chocolate-y, and extremely decadent – make sure you have a tall glass of milk near by.

Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

I’ve talked about my mixed heritage before and specifically about my maternal grandmother in this post. Her ancestors came from Puerto Rico before eventually settling down in part of the Arizona agricultural community where she was raised.  Just judging by her tanned skin, dark features, and wild curls, you probably wouldn’t guess that she is part Irish.  Before settling in Arizona, a brief stop in New York, and establishing roots in San Juan, my Puerto Rican ancestors were originally from Spain – Barcelona and Madrid, to be exact.  While in Europe, someone of Irish decent slipped into the mix when the roots of my family tree were being planted.  In the end, the members of this side of my family all look vastly different from each other.  Some have dark skin, some have red hair and blue eyes, and then there’s me with my incredibly pale skin, my father’s German features, and my grandmother’s curls.  It might just be me, but I find genealogy fascinating, especially when it means I get to indulge in these Baileys Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies in honour of my heritage.

I may be just a sliver Irish, but that won’t stop me from treating myself with these decadent cookies this St. Patrick’s Day.  Even if you aren’t Irish at all, you should still make these.  They are so good!

Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies
Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies
Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies
Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

Coffee and Baileys Irish cream have always gone hand in hand, and these cookies are no exception.  Ever indulge in one of those fancy after-dinner drinks with dark espresso, creamy Baileys, and mostly likely a tall swirl of whipped cream?  Well these cookies are kind of like that but in dessert form.  The cookies themselves are so deeply fudgey that they remind me of brownies.  I then stuffed them with a truffle center made from Baileys and espresso-infused ganache and a swirl of Baileys Irish cream frosting.  Each bite is more decadent than the next!  To balance out the richness, I sprinkled the cookies with my favourite flakey sea salt, but I bet dunking them in the above-mentioned coffee drink or a tall glass of milk would be equally satisfying.

Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

Baileys Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Brownie Cookies
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (mini or regular)
flakey sea salt for sprinkling

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Place the chopped bittersweet chocolate in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Heat the chocolate until it begins to melt.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy.  Beat in one egg at a time followed by the vanilla.  Stir in the melted, cooled chocolate until combined.

With the mixer on low, gradually mix in the dry ingredients until incorporated and the last of the flour streaks disappear.  Fold in the chocolate chips until combined.

Using a mechanical ice cream scoop or small disher, scoop the dough into uniform balls and place on the lined baking sheets 3-inches apart.  Each ball should be about 21/2 tablespoons.  Gently flatten the dough with the palm of your hand and sprinkle with a pinch of flakey sea salt.  Bake for 10 minutes and let rest on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before moving the baked cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

 

Espresso Ganache
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon coarsely ground espresso or coffee beans
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon Bailys Irish cream

Place the cream and espresso in a small saucepan.  Over medium heat, gently bring the cream to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and place in a heat-safe container (with the espresso beans).  Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight (the longer the cream is infused, the stronger the espresso flavour).

When cool, strain out the ground beans with a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth.  Place the infused cream back in the saucepan.  Over medium heat, gently bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl.  Once the cream comes to a simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate.  Let stand for 30 to 60 seconds.  Add the Baileys Irish cream and whisk until smooth.  Allow the ganache to completely cool and thicken.  Once the ganache is spreadable, gently whisk by hand until slightly whipped and fluffy (do not overmix or the chocolate will appear grainy).

 

Baileys Irish Cream Frosting
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons Baileys Irish cream
½ teaspoon vanilla

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  With the mixer on low, gradually add in the remaining ingredients and mix until combined.  Once the sugar is incorporated, beat on medium-high for several minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy.

 

Assembly
Once the cookies have cooled and all of the components are made, pair off the cookies into sets of two.  Flip half of the cookies upside down.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium star tip with the Baileys Irish cream frosting.  Pipe a ring of frosting on half of the cookies.  Fill in each right with a tablespoon or so of ganache.  Top the frosting with the spare cookies and gently press together to form a cookie sandwich.

 

NOTES
If the cookie batter is too runny to scoop, let stand 5 to 10 minutes until it stiffens up slightly.

Ganache may be cooled in the refrigerator.  Stir every 5 minutes to keep an even consistency.  Ganache will take about 20 minutes to cool in the refrigerator.

 

This post was sponsored by BAILEYS.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience. 

As always, please remember to drink responsibly.

Holiday Spritz Cookies with Wilton Cakes

Hey all!  For today only, I will be taking over the Wilton Cakes Instagram page.  Follow along for some Holiday Spritz Cookie action!

Holiday Spritz Cookies

Fun, whimsical, with a touch of nostalgia, the Classic Spritz Cookies are guaranteed to add a playful touch to any cookie platter this holiday season.  Between all the different shapes, colores, and sprinkle options, the decorating opportunities are endless. The recipe comes together so quickly, and I just love the hint of almond.  When you don’t have the time to take on a massive baking project like a layer cake, what to include the kids (like me son), or simply because Christmas is typically synonymous with hundreds of cookies, make these cuties!

Holiday Spritz Cookies

As you all know, I spend most of my time making complex layer cakes with lots of decorative details.  Ever since I started my career in cakes 10 years ago, I have always used Wilton cake products.  From various piping tips, gel food coloring, and most of my cake tools, I’ve been counting on Wilton to help elevate my cakes for years.  

In my humble opinion, nearly every occasion call for a great cake.  Pretty?  Yes.  Time consuming?  You bet!  But as the holidays get closer and closer, I always find myself taking a quick departure from my beloved cakes in favour of other baked goods and cookies.  I love making cakes because it fulfills my need to be creative, but the same goes for decorating cookies and even pie!  When times are busy (cue the hectic-ness of the holidays) and you still want to create something cute and customizable, why not make these Classic Spritz Cookies!

Holiday Spritz Cookies
Holiday Spritz Cookies
Holiday Spritz Cookies

Classic Spritz Cookie Recipe
1 ½ cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt (optional)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
gel food coloring (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  Add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together.  Set aside.

With the mixer on low, add in the egg, followed by the milk, vanilla, and almond.

Gradually add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Form the cookie dough into logs and use with your Wilton cookie press.

“Click” each cookie onto an aluminum baking sheet (not parchment paper and NOT non-stick).  Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or when the edges just barley begin to brown.  Remove the cookies from the baking sheet within 5 minutes or they may stick!

Decorate as desired with cookie icing and sprinkles!

Lastly, Wilton is giving away a fabulous prize package including some of their trusted products and a signed copy of my book, Layered.  Be sure to check it out on their Instagram page!  I’ll be selecting a winner on Thursday.  Good Luck!!

A HUGE thank you to Wilton Cakes for hosting my take-over and supporting my book!