The Simple Yet Essential Chocolate Chip Cookie

I’m kind of a sucker for cookies. Thin and crispy, moist and crumbly, slightly burnt, undercooked… I’ll eat them all. Especially chocolate chip cookies, and this is the perfect recipe. Soft, chewy, and the way all cookies should be: a cinch to make.
Chocolate Chips | Photo by Nicole Zarate Eggshells | Photo by Nicole Zarate Chocolate Chip Cookies | Photo by Nicole Zarate Chocolate Chip Cookies | Photo by Nicole Zarate Chocolate Chip Cookies | Photo by Nicole Zarate

Find the recipe for these perfect chocolate chip cookies here. Enjoy!


The Perfect Bite: Caramel Shortbread Squares

Let’s just say this post has been a long time coming; this is definitely a favorite in my immense arsenal of dessert recipes. If there’s one thing to make when you want to impress, perhaps before asking for a big favor, it’s these irresistible bites of thick and gooey caramel sandwiched between buttery, crumbly shortbread and velvety chocolate. I like to use dark chocolate to help balance out the sweetness of the caramel, and if you’re feelin’ fancy, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt on top won’t hurt one bit.

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Find the recipe for caramel shortbread squares here. Enjoy!

Clementine Posset

Every winter, I look forward to buying crates and crates of clementines. Sweet, juicy, seedless, easy to peel… what more can you ask for in a citrus fruit? As delicious as they are on their own, I wanted to do something else with the bowl of clementines sitting in my kitchen. And then I remembered I had a recipe for a clementine posset lost amongst the hundreds of “need to try!!” recipes I had bookmarked.

What’s a posset, you say?

I don’t know either.

Apparently, it’s a hot drink originating from Britain, made with milk curdled with wine or ale. These days, you’ll find it more commonly describing a dessert similar to pudding. Clementine pudding!!




Find the recipe for clementine posset here. Enjoy!

It’s Cookie Time!!

Why sure, the first week of January is the perfect time for cookies, right? You certainly want more cookies after gorging yourself on sweets during the holidays, right? …..Right?

Okay, I’ll be honest, I spent about a week straight in the kitchen during Christmastime and while I took photos, didn’t quite have the time to blog. So feel free to save the recipe for these peppermint bark cookies for next holiday season, or whip them up anytime this year– who says that chocolate and peppermint (layered on shortbread and drizzled with white chocolate!) is only for the holidays? Not me.



Find the recipe for chocolate peppermint bark cookies here. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Morning

Happy Thanksgiving to all!! I wanted to share a quick photo of some gorgeous Thanksgiving morning light, unedited, straight out of the camera… just one of the many, many things I’m thankful for. 🙂

The recipe for these moist and soft cakey pumpkin cookies can be found here. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Happy Birthday to Me

As you may know, I’ve already confessed my profound and undying love for macarons in this post. So imagine how giddy I was when J bought me a box of these perfect little confections for my birthday last week! (Okay, there’s a chance I may have insisted on him taking me to the bakery since it has been way too long since I had a really good macaron.) Anyway, I had to share just how beautiful these are. The colors themselves excite me! Not to mention how incredibly perfect the texture is– crisp, chewy, and creamy all at the same time… pardon me while I try to eat my computer screen. Thank you Bottega Louie for making me a very happy birthday girl!

Lemon Sandwich Cookies

As we’re teetering between winter and spring, (the other day it was warmer in Chicago than in LA? hmm…) I came across a recipe that is perfect for cases of seasonal ambiguity. These lemon sandwich cookies are light and airy, and have the perfect amount of creamy lemony fresh flavor for spring, but are also perfect to pair with hot tea on those chilly winterish nights. And, bonus, the cookies are egg-free if you find yourself empty-handed or are baking for those with allergies. Plus, well, they are just so darn little and cute. But that also means you might find yourself in a once-you-pop-you-can’t-stop kind of situation. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Lemon Sandwich Cookies
(Courtesy of The Kitchn)
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

For the cookies:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
Colored sanding sugars (I just used plain white)

For the filling:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

Combine flour, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk until well distributed.

Beat together butter and confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add zest and vanilla, then gradually add flour mixture. Mix at low speed just until dough forms.

Put sanding sugars in different bowls. Roll a scant teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll through sugar, turning to coat. Transfer to baking sheet, spacing the balls 3/4-inch apart. Chill dough balls on baking sheets for about 30 minutes to help them retain their shape during baking.

Bake until tops are slightly cracked and bottoms are pale golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, beat together all filling ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Once cookies are cooled, turn over half of them so that the flat sides are facing up. Pipe about 1/2 teaspoon filling onto each overturned cookie. Sandwich with remaining cookies. Chill until they are served, and enjoy!

It’s a Dutch Baby, Baby

So, remember how I raved about the Dutch Baby I had in Palm Springs? Not really? Well, I had a Dutch Baby in Palm Springs and I raved about it. One of the first things that popped into my head as I scarfed it down in a ladylike manner was, “I have to find a recipe for this.” The best way I can describe a Dutch Baby is a cross between a popover and a light, airy pancake. And once I discovered how incredibly easy it is to make one, I vowed that I would never have regular pancakes again. I mean, it doesn’t even need syrup! Just a dusting of sugar and you’re good to go. No flipping pancakes and making a mess all over your stovetop. No irregular shapes that you’re trying to pass off as Mickey Mouse. One skillet, pop it in the oven, and twenty minutes later, welcome to Dutch Baby heaven.

Just look at that! You’ll be surprised how a little bit of runny batter turns into something so impressive.

Dutch Baby with Lemon Sugar
(Courtesy of Epicurious)
Makes 4-6 servings

1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp grated lemon zest
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Lemon wedges, for serving

Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet on the middle rack of the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Stir sugar and zest together in a small bowl and set aside.

Beat eggs with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and frothy, then beat in milk, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Continue to beat until smooth, about 1 more minute (batter will be thin).

Add butter to the hot skillet and melt, swirling to coat. Add batter and immediately return the skillet to the oven. Bake until puffed and golden-brown, 18 to 25 minutes.

Top with lemon sugar and serve hot with lemon wedges. Enjoy!

Warm and Comfy Cinnamon Bread

Sometimes (read: every day) I just want to go home, throw on some girl power tunes (a.k.a. my “baking music”) and bake all day. There are times when you don’t have a special occasion, a birthday, or a holiday to celebrate, but you want the smell of something warm and comforting permeating your kitchen. Preferably something edible, of course.

Cue cinnamon bread.

It’s warm, it’s comforting, it will cuddle you at night. It’s one of those things where you have yourself a slice, then go back for just a little sliver, then, oh let me just even it out, then, I can’t believe I ate the whole thing. Well, it’s best eaten still warm from the oven and within five minutes, right? …Right.

Cinnamon Bread
(Adapted from AllRecipes)
Makes one 9-inch loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Combine 4 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tsp ground cinnamon and butter or margarine, mixing until crumbly. Set aside.

Combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and beat with a hand mixer for three minutes.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture over the batter. Pour the remaining batter into the pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle remaining topping over the smoothed batter. Gently run a knife through the batter in a light swirling motion to give the bread a marbled effect.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean. Remove bread from the pan and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Slice and enjoy!

A New Year’s Eve Feast

Happy New Year!!! I hope you all had a fun and relaxing holiday weekend. I’m super excited to share the long list of recipes I have lined up for this year. But first thing’s first– what’s a New Year’s Eve without a delicious dinner? This year J and I opted to stay in and have a cozy meal, watch movies, and experiment with cocktails!

For our main course, I decided to give short ribs a try– because, let’s face it, I think I’ve always been impressed with any meal that involved short ribs. Braised for three hours in a thick veggie and red wine sauce, the meat transforms itself into tender beef heaven. Impressed is an understatement. I served the short ribs with roasted garlic mashed potatoes (one of the first dishes I ever cooked all by my teenage self!), but I’ll be honest with you, the flavor of these ribs outshines anything else on the plate. The best part? This is pretty darn easy to make. Yes, three hours in the oven is a long time, but it’s well worth the wait.

After such a heavy meal (and a cocktail or two… or three) and all our hefty holiday eating, I wanted to make something super light for dessert, so cranberry granita was the perfect thing. And also super easy to make (just takes a few hours with the freezing and scraping you need to do.) A perfect end to a great year, and I’m looking forward to all the new and exciting things 2012 has to offer!

Braised Short Ribs
(Courtesy of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef)
Makes 6-8 servings

6 bone-in short ribs (about 5 3/4 lb)
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste (this is just under 3 6-oz cans)
2-3 cups hearty red wine
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves

Season each short rib generously with salt. Coat a pot large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

While the short ribs are browning, purée all the vegetables and garlic in a food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a crud has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the crud and let it reform. Scrape the crud again and add the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat if things start to burn. Reduce the mixture by half.

Return the short ribs to the pan and add 2 cups water or until the water has just about covered the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce. When done the meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid.


Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Makes 4-6 servings

6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 lb red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tbsp butter
3/4 to 1 cup milk
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange garlic in one layer on a double thickness of foil. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly. Roast garlic for 30-35 minutes, or until very soft. Unwrap the foil and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy saucepan, simmer potatoes in salted water for 20 minutes, or until very tender. Drain.

In a large pan combine potatoes, butter, and milk. Mash potatoes with a potato masher until smooth, adding more milk if necessary. Peel garlic cloves and mash into potatoes.

Place pan over medium heat, stirring, and season with salt and pepper to taste.


Cranberry Granita
(Courtesy of Everyday Italian)
Makes 6 servings

2 cups cranberry juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 1-2 limes)
1/4 cup vodka
Fresh cranberries or lime wedges, for garnish

Whisk the cranberry juice and sugar in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves. Pour the cranberry mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Cool completely.

Whisk in the lime juice and vodka. Freeze until the granita becomes slushy, about 2 hours. Using a fork, stir to blend.

Continue freezing the granita until frozen, stirring every hour to form crystals, at least 5 hours or overnight.

Divide the granita among 6 dessert glasses. Garnish with fresh cranberries or lime wedges, if desired, and serve.