Saturday, January 5, 2008

Best of 2007: Cookies & Bars

Baking is my favorite type of cooking. I'm fairly good at it (me thinks) and I love to bake and give away. Can't keep all of these wonderful treats sitting around you know! As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I made 25 different kinds of cookie and candy during the holidays this year but it doesn't have to be a holiday for me to come up with a good excuse to make something yummy. Here are my absolute favorites that I discovered last year:

These Oreo- Chunk Brownies are a takeoff on the popular Barefoot Contessa brownie recipe. I modified Joe's recipe slightly from Culinary in the Country. These are *so-far* the most AMAZING brownies I've tasted. They are thick and gooey and chocolatey and just about everything that you would want a good brownie recipe to be. It's best to just break up the oreos yourself rather than use a food processor. You might just end up with more crumbs than cookie chunks (ahem... from experience)... but they were still delicious! Be prepared to feed a crowd- this recipe makes a ton. These would be terrific for a SuperBowl party.

Three cookies in one, these Peanut Butter- Oatmeal- Chocolate Chunk Cookies are best dunked in a tall glass of cold milk. A little bit of spice in them from ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg make them a little different than the usual chocolate chip cookie recipe. Use a high quality bittersweet chocolate and you'll get a better result. This recipe has been modified from the Dorie Greenspan cookbook, Baking, From My Home to Yours.

I honestly wasn't really quite sure about this recipe until I actually tasted the cookies: Orange Almond Wafers. They're not much to look at but were oh-so-yummy. I brought them along on a multi-family camping trip (with a few other different kinds) and these cookies were the biggest hit... scarfed down in no time. Kids and adults both enjoyed them. This recipe is from the Junior League of San Diego's cookbook: California Sol Food.

A really easy recipe that is great to prepare for a quick dessert or a bake-and-take kind of goodie is Lemon Brownies. I'm not usually a cake mix kinda gal, but these use a lemon cake mix as a starter and add gelatin, oil and eggs. Top them with a lemon glaze and you have lemon "brownies." Not sure how they got that name except that they are cooked in a pan like brownies and you cut them the same way. These were a hit at a neighborhood barbecue last summer. Again, not terribly elegant by any means but really tasty. This recipe was shared on the Southern Living cooking forum.

Finally, the biggest hit in the holiday cookie category last year was Sparkling Butter Toffee Cookies. It's a delicious butter cookie with toffee bits mixed in and then rolled in sugar. This cookie stays softish and doesn't turn crispy like some cookies to after a day or two. The best thing about these cookies is that they can be made all year long! I sent my nephew (a chef) samples of all of my holiday cookies, and these were his favorite! The source for this recipe is Land O' Lakes, which has many other great recipes as well.

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