Gluten-Free Soft-Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies.

These Soft-Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies are so soft they taste like they just came out of the oven, and they’re so good no one will know they’re Gluten-Free!

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Today’s National Donut Day, but I much prefer chocolate chip cookies over donuts, so I’m popping in with an awesome cookie recipe for you today. I think these are the best gluten-free chocolate chip cookies I’ve had yet! Now, let me go ahead and say this is one of those cases where gluten-free does NOT equal healthier. There’s plenty of real sugar, butter, etc. If you’re looking for a “healthified” gluten-free chocolate chip cookie, you might want to try these.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know chocolate chip cookies are my favorite dessert.
And you also know I am super picky about my chocolate chip cookies.
I want them SOFT. Not crispy, not crunchy, and definitely not super crumbly.
I found the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, but then last year I found out I had a wheat allergy, and I’ve been looking for a replacement ever since.
Ladies and gents, this is it!

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They hold up together really well, but aren’t hard at all. The edges are just sliiiight crispy, but the rest of the cookie is perfectly soft. Sticking the cookie dough balls in the freezer before baking was key in this recipe. Also, as with any cookie, you want to take them out of the oven when they still seem slightly underbaked because they continue baking while cooling on the pan.

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These cookies will stay fresh for up to 2 days in an airtight container.  I mean, obviously, they were best fresh out of the oven, so you’ll definitely want to have one then. I don’t even need to tell you that though because honestly…does anyone actually bake cookies and not taste one fresh from the oven? I didn’t think so.

Gluten-Free Soft-Batch Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients:

  • 1 7/8 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur’s All-Purpose GF mix)
  • 1 teaspoon xantham gum (check your flour mix–if it’s already listed as an ingredient omit it)
  • 6 1/3 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable shortening, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk both at room temperature, beaten
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, mixed with 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1). Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a baking pan or cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Set aside.

2). In a large bowl whisk together the GF flour, xantham gum, corn starch, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Once that’s all blended, add the light brown sugar. Make sure there are no clumps.

3). Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients by pushing them up towards the sides of the bowl. Add the following ingredients, stopping to mix well after each one: butter, shortening, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. The dough should be thick and soft. Add the cornstarch-coated chocolate chips and mix well. (Bonus: there’s no risk of overworking the dough with gluten-free flour!)

4). Roll about 2 1/2 Tablespoons of dough into balls and place on the lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. DO NOT flatten the balls–leave them rounded. Place the baking sheets in the fridge for 1 hour or in the freezer for 10 minutes.

5). Remove from fridge/freezer and bake for 12 minutes. Again, the center of the cookie will appear underbaked. Let them cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheet–they will continue baking as they cool. Remove from the cookie sheet and let them finish cooling on wire racks. Store in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days. Enjoy!

Servings: about 20. Approximate Nutritional information per Serving: Calories: 216 Carbs: 30g Fat: 10g Protein: 2g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 18g Points+: 6 Recipe from here.

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies. (GF, DF)

Soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies that are gluten-free and are sweetened naturally instead of with refined sugar! All the ooey-gooey goodness of traditional chocolate chip cookies, but a little bit healthier.

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Valentine’s day is Saturday! Got any plans to make a sweet treat for your loved ones?

My all-time favorite dessert is chocolate chip cookies. So, you can imagine my frustration when I found out about my wheat allergy over the summer and realized I would no longer be able to enjoy my beloved chocolate chip cookie recipe. I had to find a replacement. Stat.

This recipe is an excellent alternative to my aforementioned traditional wheat-filled chocolate chip cookie recipe. The first time I made it, I was seriously skeptical. I mean, look at the ingredients! Can almond flour really work here? Can honey bind it all without even using an egg?

The answer: yes.

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These cookies are super chewy, which is exactly the way I love them.
And they’re soft.
Really soft. In fact, don’t even think about attempting to eat one as soon as you take the pan out of the oven because they will appear underbaked. This worried me at first, but sure enough, after they cooled for a while they firmed up and could be held just fine. (By the way, underbaking is one of the tricks for making my original chocolate chip cookies amazing, and it works here too!)

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Obviously if you’re making cookies you realize there’s going to be some serious sugar-intake happening, but I do appreciate that these cookies use honey instead of refined sugar. Honey is still a form of sugar, but if you buy good quality, raw, local honey, you are at least also getting some nutrients from the sweetener. The flavor of the honey does come through a little bit, but I love honey so that did not bother me at all. If you don’t like honey (is that possible?), then these might not be the cookies for you!

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A note on the almond flour–I used Trader Joe’s almond meal/flour. I am not sure how well any other brand would work. Almond flour can vary greatly depending on what brand you purchase, so just be aware!

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (use enjoy life for dairy free)
  • 1/4 cup softened butter (coconut oil for dairy free)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

1). Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with silpat liner or parchment paper.

2). In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except chocolate chips together until well-incorporated. Add in the chocolate chips.

3). Scoop about 1 tablespoon of cookie dough and place on the prepared baking sheet. Keep 2-3 inches of space between cookies. Gently press down on the cookie dough to flatten each cookie slightly.

4). Bake for 6-10 minutes, depending on your oven. The cookie should be slightly golden on the bottom and will appear underbaked, but they will finish baking as they cool.

5). Important: cool for 10-15 minutes on the cookie sheet before enjoying! You absolutely must let them cool or else they will be too soft to handle. Enjoy!

Yield: about 19 cookies. Approximate Nutritional Information per cookie: Calories: 135 Carbs: 11g Fat: 10g Fiber: 1g Protein: 2g Sugar: 9g Points+: 4. Recipe originally from here.

Coconut Key Lime Energy Bites + 2 Year Blog Anniversary! (GF, DF, Paleo)

Slightly tangy but sweet, these coconut lime energy bites are a perfect light dessert or healthy on-the-go snack option!

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My blog turns 2 today, and I’m celebrating with a healthy little sweet treat: coconut key lime energy bites! If you’ve been reading Audrey’s Apron from the beginning, you know this blog idea had been a long-time dream of mine since college and I finally put it into motion 2 years ago today. A lot has changed in the 2 years that I’ve been blogging. I’m thrilled that so many of you follow this little cooking journey of mine. And it really does make my day when you comment that you made a recipe and loved it!

The biggest change on the blog this year? Probably my photography skills! It’s still a work in progress, for sure, but at least I’m not taking pictures with my phone camera anymore! OH the horrors! My ever-supportive husband got me a real, legit DSLR camera for my birthday this year and it has been so fun using it!

So, I just want to say THANK YOU for following, reading, commenting, tweeting, etc. I love sharing our culinary successes together!

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Back to this yummy recipe. I found these to be a perfectly delicious paleo substitute for key lime pie. They’re much healthier, and bite-sized, so that’s a win!

The coconut is totally optional, by the way.
I just love how it makes them look sort of like little snowballs.
Or truffles.
Yum!
So for all you coconut-averse readers, just know it’s more for aesthetics and you can definitely leave it off.

A word of wisdom: make sure that your dates are in fact pitted before you throw them in your food processor and turn it on.
Otherwise it will begin to jump wildly all over the counter while making an AWFUL noise.
Don’t ask me how I know, just promise me you’ll double check, ok? Ok.
P.S. The dates I bought from Costco most definitely did have pits in them. #IwishIwouldhavedoublechecked.

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So the great thing about this recipe is that the food processor does all the work for you! Throw in some cashews, almonds, dates (pitted!), lime zest & juice, and turn it on! Then all you have to do is form the mixture into little balls and roll them into coconut if you so choose.

Pack them in your lunch, serve them as dessert, or keep a few in your purse for emergencies–these chewy energy bites are perfect for whenever you need a quick boost!

Coconut Key Lime Energy Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups medjool dates, pitted
  • Zest and juice from 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut for rolling, optional

1). In a food processor, add the cashews and almonds. Pulse until the nuts are finely chopped.

2). Add the dates and lime zest and juice. Pulse until the dates are finely chopped and the mixture begins to clump together.

3). Scoop about a tablespoon of the mixture out and roll it into a ball. Roll in shredded coconut if desired, then repeat with remaining mixture. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to 4 days, or in the fridge. Enjoy!

Servings: about 15. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 74 Carbs: 9g Fat: 4g Protein: 2g Fiber: 1g Points+: 2 Recipe adapted from here. Adapted recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron.

Buckeyes. (GF)

The classic peanut butter and chocolate dessert–perfection!

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Peanut butter + chocolate.

It’s one of my husband’s favorite combinations, and over the years we’ve been married it has become one of mine, too!

I know buckeyes are a Christmas tradition for many families, but although that isn’t the case with mine, I’m quickly getting on board. If you’ve never had a buckeye before, it’s pretty much like eating peanut butter frosting dipped in chocolate.

Yup. They’re amazing.

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And, they’re gluten-free! Hooray!

I made these recently for a friend who just had a baby and I forgot how much fun it is to make these. It does take a while to dip the buckeyes in the chocolate, but just have fun and enjoy the process.

Now all you need to do is turn on some Christmas music and sing your way through making the recipe!

Buckeyes (GF)

  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup butter, room-temperature (can soften in the microwave if needed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening

1). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Make sure you have enough room in the freezer for the cookie sheet.

2). In a large bowl, use a hand-held mixer (or wooden spoon) to mix the peanut butter, butter, vanilla extract, and salt together. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, and mix until fully incorporated.

3). Roll the peanut butter mixture into 1 inch balls (I cheated and used a cookie scoop!). Set them on the parchment-lined cookie sheet and add a toothpick in the top of each one. Freeze for about 30 minutes or until hard.

4). Fill a medium sized pot with about 1 inch of water. Place it on the stove over medium heat until simmering, then set it to low to keep it barely simmering. Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave, heat-proof bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, and stir. Continue microwaving in 30 second intervals for 1 more minute, stirring each time. Place this bowl on top of the simmering pot of water and stir until the chocolate and shortening are completely melted.

5). Use the toothpick as a handle to carefully dip the buckeyes in the chocolate, leaving the top center exposed. Place on the parchment-lined cookie sheet and either refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze for 30 minutes. Remove the toothpicks and gently smooth the peanut butter over the hole from the toothpick. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month!

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

 

No-Bake Chocolate Almond Butter Cups. (GF, DF)

A rich gluten-free, dairy-free dessert without refined sugars! Keep a stash in your freezer to satisfy your next sweet tooth!

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Um, guys?

This recipe is a game-changer. I’m struggling to find the words to accurately convey to you how incredibly awesome these little chocolate almond butter cups are! The flavor. The texture. The chocolate!

They. Are. Delicious!!

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And the best part? This is a guilt-free dessert that doesn’t taste like one. Don’t you hate biting into a “healthy” dessert only to be left wishing for the real deal? Not here. My husband and I were absolutely SHOCKED at how good these were, and not in a that’s-good-considering-it’s-a-paleo-treat kind of way. These are just plain ol’ GOOD. I made these after having eliminated refined sugars for two months and I was on a mission to make something that tasted great but was not full of sugar. The only source of sweetness in these chocolate cups comes from a minimal amount of maple syrup, so they are refined-sugar free. But again, you’d never guess it!

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To make these amazing little cups of yummyness, combine almond flour, a touch of maple syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon, vanilla, and almond butter. One taste of this mixture and you know things are headed in a great direction. That all gets pressed down into muffin tins.

I used a regular muffin pan, but if you want to make them more bite-sized you can use a mini-muffin pan if you have one.

Then, the chocolate sauce.

Confession time.

I had no idea making chocolate could be this easy! Just mix melted coconut oil, maple syrup for sweetness, and pure cocoa powder. The result? Silky, rich chocolate sauce! Pour this on top of the almond butter mixture, top with flaked sea salt and/or sliced almonds, and freeze for about 30 minutes.

Seeeee? Easy! These are my new favorite dessert.

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You do need to keep these cold so the chocolate doesn’t start to melt, but I love having them in the freezer and pulling one out on occasion for a satisfying dessert made of real ingredients and minimal sugar.

P.S. I know these aren’t traditional Christmas cookies, but I think they’d be a great addition! They would cater to every family member’s special dietary needs (gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, etc.) and still taste amazing. Plus, you can make them ahead of time!

Here’s a quick video I made explaining how to make them!

No-Bake Chocolate Almond Butter Cups (GF, DF, Paleo, Vegan)

For the almond butter base:

  • 1 3/4 cups almond flour
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup, warmed if refrigerated
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of fine grain sea salt, to taste

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup, warmed if refrigerated
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • pinch of sea salt, to taste

Optional toppings: flaked sea salt, sliced almonds, coconut, etc.

1). Line a muffin pan with liners and make sure there is enough room in the freezer for the muffin pan.

2). In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the base. The dough should be a little bit sticky similar to the texture of cookie dough.

3). Equally distribute the dough into the bottom of the muffin pans (I got 9 thick cups). Press down until it is smooth and flat.

4). In a small bowl, combine the chocolate sauce ingredients, whisking together until smooth. Equally spoon the chocolate over the base of the cups. Top with flaked sea salt and/or sliced almonds, coconut, etc.

5). Place the muffin pan in the freezer for about 30 minutes before enjoying. Store remaining cups in the freezer until ready to eat. These are delicious straight from the freezer!

Servings: 9 (large) cups. Approximate Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 266 Carbs: 11g Fat: 21g Protein: 6g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 8g Points+: 7 Recipe adapted from here.

Adapted recipe courtesy of Audrey’s Apron. 

1-Minute Gluten Free Chocolate Mug Cake.

A rich, indulgent chocolate cake that’s gluten-free, full of chocolate flavor, and made in a mug. It’s the easiest cake you’ll ever make! 

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Baking is fun, but it’s not something I do often. In fact, I rarely bake unless there’s an event coming up where a dessert is requested. With only 2 people in our home, there’s no need to have large quantities of desserts lying around, and I try to keep our sugar consumption to a minimum.

With that being said, every now and then there are times when one of us (ok, me) would really like a sliver of (gluten-free) chocolate cake. How am I supposed to have just a sliver without baking an entire cake and having the rest of it on our kitchen counter for days? Solution: 1-Minute chocolate mug cake.

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Have you ever made a mug cake? My first attempt was in college, and it was aaaaaawful. Talk about tasteless cardboard! Bleh. I blacklisted all mug cake recipes after that major fail.

But then, a few years ago, I had great success making a vanilla mug cake, and my faith in these types of recipes was revived. Just a couple weeks ago I came across this recipe and thought–why not?! I’m so glad I tried it because it turned out great and it was a fast way to make a small amount of gluten-free cake–perfect for 2 people.

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Reasons I love this recipe:

  1. It makes 1 large mug, perfect for two people to share.
  2. It does not require heavy clean-up. Just a measuring spoon, fork, and a mug!
  3. It is EASY. If you can measure and mix, you can make this.
  4. It is rich and will definitely satisfy your chocolate craving.
  5. It is super quick to whip up. Just 1 minute of cooking, after all!

All in all, you can probably make this in 3 minutes, and that includes measuring and cooking. I know some of you out there barely have 5 minutes to spare, so this recipe is perfect for you busy folks!

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Did I mention it actually tastes good? It’s sweet, chocolate-y, and rich. Mine almost had 2 textures to it: light fluffy cake towards the top and rich fudgey brownie on the bottom. This may have been due to the fact I didn’t mix in the baking soda enough, but I actually loved this happy accident. It’s like having my two favorite chocolate desserts in one!

I think if you leave the baking powder out completely you’ll end up with just a chocolate brownie. I haven’t tried that yet, so if you try it, let me know!

1-Minute Gluten Free Chocolate Mug Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon of coconut oil (or butter, if you prefer)
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons gum-free all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used King Arthur’s GF mix)
  • About 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-2 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips

1).  Add coconut oil and sugar to a large mug, mason jar, or ramekin.

2). Put the mug in the microwave on high power for 30 seconds, then stir.

3). Whisk in the egg and vanilla until well-combined.

4). Mix in the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt with a fork. Mix until very-well combined, then stir in the chocolate chips.

5). Microwave for 1 minute and check to see if it’s cooked through. Mine was perfect at this point but microwaves vary, so add 15 seconds. Do not overcook it or it will become very tough.

Servings: 2, or 1 very generous serving. Approximate Nutritional Information: Calories: 263 Carbs: 33g Fat: 14g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 21g Protein: 4g Points+: 7. Recipe adapted from here.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing.

Looking for the best homemade red velvet cake recipe out there? Your search ends here.

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I know that’s a bold statement. But it’s true. This recipe is perfect. Not only is the flavor great, but the TEXTURE! Light, fluffy, perfectly moist. I had a cupcake in an airtight container in the fridge for an entire WEEK and it was still moist! You can thank the buttermilk and oil for that, but the low-and-slow baking time helps, too!

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There’s nothing crazy about the ingredients; in fact, I bet you probably have everything you need to make this cake right now. Except maybe the red food coloring. I had never bought food coloring before I started testing out red velvet cake recipes, and I had a hard time finding it at first. A word of wisdom: GEL food coloring is not the same as LIQUID food coloring. Trust me. The recipe calls for liquid, and, being a food-coloring-novice, I decided to try the gel variety (because that’s all I could find in my local Kroger). Mistake. That round of batter turned out a pale pink. Epic fail. Don’t do it, mmkay?

One more note about the food coloring: yes you will use the whole 1 oz bottle. Yes, that’s a lot of food coloring and your batter will be bright, bright red. Don’t worry! It’ll bake up beautifully like this:

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The frosting is super simple, too. The only way you can mess up the frosting is by not using room temperature butter and cream cheese. That’s non-negotiable, otherwise your frosting will be too thick, won’t mix well, and won’t be easy to spread.

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I am also including the instructions for other cake baking times (round cake, square cake, mini-cupcakes, etc.) at the bottom of the post. And guys, this is definitely a rich dessert, so no…it’s not exactly healthy. Just enjoy in moderation and share with friends!

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk (you can also mix 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice, stir, and let it sit for 5 minutes.)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 oz bottle red food coloring

For the icing:

  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese (full-fat), softened
  • 1 stick butter (I used salted), softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

1). Preheat the oven to 300F. If making cupcakes, place paper liners in muffin tins (I got about 16-17 in a standard muffin tin).

2). In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then add sugar, oil, and buttermilk.

3). Add the flour and baking soda, mixing well to blend.

4). Add the vanilla extract, vinegar, and red food coloring. Mix until well blended (it should all be red–make sure there’s no white batter hiding at the bottom!)

5). Carefully fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

6). For the frosting: in the bottom of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar gradually, continuing to blend.  Add the vanilla extract and combine again.

Alternate baking times:
If making a 3 layer cake: bake 25 minutes.
If making mini-cupcakes: bake 15 minutes.
If making a 9×13 cake: bake 30 minutes.

Recipe from my go-to cooking friend at church. Thank you for sharing!! : ) 

 

Homemade Strawberry Shortcake.

Happy Strawberry Shortcake Day!! This is the perfect excuse to share my strawberry shortcake recipe with you. It’s one of my favorites. The simplicity of sweet strawberries, whipped cream, and a homemade shortcake screams summertime dessert.

Title Strawberry Shortcake
Many people turn to store-bought cake as the base of their strawberry shortcake. Is it easier? Sure. Does it taste as good? Not a chance! Homemade is always best. If you have a cookout or party planned, add this to the dessert menu. It’s easy to make ahead for guests because you can chop up your strawberries, make your whipped cream, AND make the shortcakes before they arrive. You could even let your guests assemble their own!

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I really want to turn your attention to the foundation of the shortcake. It’s a cross between a cake and a biscuit. No, it’s not exactly the same kind you’d eat for breakfast, but it is close. It’s much sweeter than a traditional biscuit (and sooooo, so good!). I’ll go ahead and warn you–it’s not healthy. I tried to make a healthier version and it was awful! Just treat this like the dessert it is and indulge sparingly. So, back to the star of this sweet treat. In addition to being rustic and unique, there’s one major reason to use this shortcake instead of angel food cake as your base: it’s sturdy enough to really handle the juices from the strawberries without falling apart or getting mushy. It’s buttery, flaky but dense, golden, sweet, and delicious.

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If you have ever made biscuits or pie crusts in the past, you probably already have an idea of the steps involved. If you’ve never made anything like this before, don’t worry! This is one of the first biscuit recipes I ever made and it’s very easy, perfect for beginners. I’m going to take you through the process with step-by-step photos. These are drop biscuits, which means once you have the dough combined you literally just drop them on the baking pan. They’re not supposed to be perfect! Start by putting all your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) into a bowl like this:

dry ingredients
Next add in very cold butter. Use a pastry blender (or two knives) to cut the butter into the flour until it looks like this:

adding butter
Now, in another small bowl whisk together the egg, sour cream, and milk. Add it to the butter/flour mixture and combine. I used a fork to stir everything together. Your dough may be a little crumbly, but it should be able to adhere to itself well if you press it together. Here’s a visual:

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Time to form the biscuits! Like I said earlier, just take (mostly) even amounts of dough and drop them on a baking pan. Warning: it will be VERY, very, sticky and you will get dough stuck all over your hands, so you may want to use a spoon to help you do this!

buiscit prebaked
When the biscuits are done baking, allow them to cool on a wire rack. Now you’re ready to assemble! Gently cut the biscuit in half. Add a small dollop of whipped cream, strawberries, and the other half of the biscuit. Top with more whipped cream and strawberries and you’re ready to eat!

final strawberry shortcake
Homemade Strawberry Shortcake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
  • 2 tbsp milk (I used skim)
    For the topping:
  • 5 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar (this helps bring out the sweetness and juices in the strawberries but is optional)
  • Homemade whipped cream

1). Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, if needed (mine does not). Combine the strawberries and sugar in a small bowl. Make the whipped cream. Refrigerate both the strawberries and whipped cream as you prepare the shortcakes.

2). In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients. Continue until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (see picture in post, if necessary).

3). In a small bowl, beat together the egg, milk, and sour cream. Add this to the butter/flour mixture. Use a fork to mix everything together until just moistened. Be careful not to overmix.

4). Drop the dough into 8 mounds on the baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

5). To assemble: gently cut the shortcakes in half. Add strawberries and whipped cream. Top with the second half and add a few more strawberries and whipped cream.

Recipe from: http://alyssabyoung.com/blog/2010/03/24/strawberry-shortcake/
Servings: 8. Nutritional Information per serving: Calories: 367 Carbs: 39 g Fat: 22g Protein: 5g Fiber: 2g Points+: 10

Karen’s Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies — The Best!

Ok, this may be a really bold statement, but…I’m about to share with you the recipe for the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. IMG_0708 Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite dessert. If given the option between a really great chocolate chip cookie and just about any other dessert, the cookie will win. Not all chocolate chip cookies are the same, however. My #1 requirement to win my seal of approval: they must be extremely soft. Crunchy cookies? No thank you. I really prefer for the whole entire cookie, even the edges, to be soft. IMG_0709 And then there’s the chocolate chip ratio. I like a 50/50 split between chocolate chips and batter. Too many chocolate chips and you may as well be eating a chocolate bar, too few and you might think you’re eating a blondie. Another requirement to add to the list? No chocolate chunks, just chips please. (That goes back to my “too much chocolate” issue.) I’m saying all of this to impress upon you the fact that I am very picky with my chocolate chip cookies, and this recipe is the real deal. IMG_0716

So, the recipe. Karen, a dear friend of mine at work, had borrowed a tupperware container from me. Several weeks later, I found it sitting on my desk, filled with a few chocolate chip cookies. A hand-written note said “thank you!” and explained she was taught never to return tupperware empty. I made a mental note of this because it was so thoughtful. She loved to bake, so I knew they were homemade. I tried one, and immediately flew over to my laptop to email her. I HAD TO GET THIS RECIPE. They were shockingly good! Insanely soft, but still chewy! Chocolate-y, but not too much! Hands down, they were the best homemade chocolate chip cookies I ever had. I emailed her right then, frantically trying to convey to her just how much I loved these cookies, hoping she would be willing to share the recipe with me. Sure enough, a few minutes later I had a response back with the recipe to these amazing cookies. I saved the recipe to make at a later date, and now, a year later, I finally got around to it.

Karen passed away unexpectedly earlier this spring. She was a very special lady and I will always remember her, especially every time I make these cookies (which will be often now that my hunt for “the” chocolate chip cookie recipe is over!). IMG_0701 If you love chocolate chip cookies, you need to try this recipe. At first glance, it is a bit unconventional, but I believe that’s what makes the flavor so unique. Let’s look at what’s different about it. (Nerd alert: baking science ahead!) 1) It calls for only brown sugar. Most cookie recipes call for both white sugar and brown sugar. Brown sugar has molasses in it, which adds moisture to the dough. In cookies it also adds chewy-ness. You can thank the brown sugar for helping every bite of the cookies be chewy. 2) It calls for butter-flavored shortening, not butter. Weird, right? I was so skeptical about this. I always use butter in my baked goods, and to be honest, shortening kindof grosses me out a little bit, but I decided to follow the recipe and use it anyway. Turns out, using shortening instead of butter to make cookies is great because it is already at “room temperature”, so unlike butter, you do not have to plan ahead and leave it out for hours in order to be able to cream it with sugar.  Likewise, because butter has a lower melting temperature, it makes cookies prone to spreading, resulting in really thin cookies. To avoid this, many recipes call for chilling the dough anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours before baking. Honestly? That’s too much planning for me. Using shortening solves both of those issues and helps make a perfectly soft batter. IMG_0699 In her email, Karen gave me 2 awesome cookie-baking tricks: use an air-bake pan, and slightly under-bake the cookies. I took her advice and purchased two air-bake cookie sheets. For years, I always found my cookies to be slightly overcooked on the bottom and I thought I was doing something wrong. I couldn’t believe the difference using the air-bake pans! Problem solved. As for the 8 minute baking time, I was a little apprehensive to remove the cookies from the oven when they looked underdone, but they continued baking while I allowed them to rest on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes. By the time I moved them to the wire rack they were perfect. Under-baking the cookies helped ensure they stayed soft for days to come, so that is a key piece to making these cookies perfect! IMG_0700
Karen’s Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies — The Best!!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 stick Butter Flavor Shortening Baking Stick
  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk (I used skim)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1). Pre-heat the oven to 375F. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla with a hand-held mixer on medium speed until well-blended. Add the egg and blend again.

2). Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, using a spatula to fold the ingredients into the batter. Add the chocolate chips and mix.

3). Using a cookie-scoop, drop rounded tablespoons of the dough on air-bake pans, about 2-3 inches apart. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Cookies will appear under-done. Remove from oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before moving them to a wire cooling rack. Store in an air-tight container.

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies. Nutritional Information per Serving: Calories: 130 Fat: 8g Carbs: 16g Protein: 1 g Sugar: 10g Fiber: 1g Points+: 4
Recipe adapted from: http://www.crisco.com/Recipes/Details.aspx?recipeID=2102

Kitchen Tips and Tricks: How to Make Homemade Whipped Cream.

Homemade whipped cream is one of the easiest things to make, and it undeniably takes your dessert to a whole new level. Whenever I need to serve whipped cream, I always make my own. It is cheaper, requires only 3 ingredients, and is ready in 5 minutes. In my opinion, the light and fluffy richness of homemade whipped cream is not reproducible in the store bought variety. Thanks to my best friend from high school who first made me appreciate the value of this homemade topping, it has revolutionized the way I view the stuff!

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So, let’s get started. All you need are 3 simple ingredients: whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Easy peasy, right? Start by pouring the whipping cream in a bowl. Next, turn your whisk attachment/mixer on to a medium-low speed because you don’t want to splatter cream all over your kitchen.

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Now let the mixer do the rest of the work! See the bubbles happening in the picture below? That’s a good sign. Keep going…

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After a couple more minutes your whipped cream should look like the picture below. It is starting to firm up enough that the whisk is leaving it’s “path” through the cream.

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Mix in your sugar and vanilla, to taste. I like a good amount of vanilla in my whipped cream so I usually use at least 1 teaspoon, often more. Whipped cream should be slightly sweetened, so I use about 1 tablespoon of sugar–granulated or powdered will both work. Taste it and adjust to your liking. Let your mixer continue to whisk the cream until the cream becomes stiff. You should be able to pull out the whisk, turn it upside down, and have stiff peaks of whipped cream on the end that stand up. (Just for the record…if you continue to whisk after it is stiff you will eventually end up with butter, so don’t go too crazy!)

Can you believe it’s that easy?!

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Homemade Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

  • Whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar (granulated or powdered)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or more!)

1) Pour the whipping cream in a  large bowl. Using the whisk attachment, turn it on medium-high and whisk the cream for several minutes until it begins to stiffen.

2). Add the sugar and vanilla. Continue whisking until the whipped cream is firm enough that stiff peaks form. Enjoy!