Tag Archives: Baking

Cookies

Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries, Pistachios, and White Chocolate

As promised, I am popping in today to share one of the recipes from my cookie baking extravaganza last weekend.

Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries, Pistachios, and White Chocolate Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

Now, I can’t take full credit for these delicious cookies because Kelly was truly the mastermind behind them. But with her permission, I get to share these bites of sugary heaven with you.

Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries, Pistachios, and White Chocolate Recipe - Little Chef Big Appetite

My favorite part about these cookies is the texture. They are crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, and the oats and nuts give each cookie that perfect crunch. Every cookie in this large batch is jam-packed with so many different flavors: oats, brown sugar, cranberries, pistachios, and white chocolate, so you never have to go digging for the “best” cookie, because they’re all so darn good!

Oatmeal Cookies

Bake these oatmeal cookies for a holiday party this week. Odds are they’ll be gobbled up in no time!

 

Oatmeal Cookies with Cranberries, Pistachios, and White Chocolate
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4 Dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 stick + 6 Tablespoons (14 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ½ unsalted shelled pistachios
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until creamy. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and beat well. In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and oats and mix.
  3. Slowly sift the flour mixture into wet mixture and stir. Fold in the dried cranberries, pistachios, and white chocolate chips. Mix well. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes or until the edges begin to brown slightly. Cool for 1 minute on the baking sheets and remove the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container.
 

Tips and Tricks

Mom’s Best Baking Tips

I’ve mentioned this plenty before, but my mom is a fantastic baker. I’ve learned so much by watching her mix, stir, roll, ice, and slice in the kitchen. My mom would admit she is a total perfectionist, and I think that is what makes her such a great baker. I, personally, don’t have the same level of patience,  so I don’t follow everything she does (e.g. all of her cookies are EXACTLY the same size  – madness!)

In honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, I am sharing five of my mom’s best baking tips:

Tip #1

Baking is a science. You must be precise. Use the back of a knife to level dry ingredients in measuring cups. Scrape off the excess ingredients.

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

 

Tip #2

This tip goes with #1. Place a piece of wax paper on a cutting board. Measure all of your ingredients over the cutting board (NOT your mixing bowl). The dry ingredients that spill onto the wax paper (from tip #1) can easily be scooped up and poured back into their respective containers. This makes clean up a breeze and you end up wasting so much less.

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

 

Tip #3 

1 cup milk + 1Tablespoon white vinegar = 1 cup buttermilk. Learn this equation. Memorize it. I use this one ALL the time, especially for pancakes. I never, ever buy buttermilk because I can make it so easily with this simple substitution. Simply add 1 Tablespoon of white distilled vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Then pour milk (nonfat and lowfat are fine) into the measuring cup until it reaches the 1 cup mark exactly. Give the mixture a quick stir and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Then use as you would buttermilk. Easy peasy!

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

 

Tip #4

When making multiple batches of cookies, always let the baking sheet cool before adding more raw cookie dough. A hot baking sheet will cause the cookies to bake unevenly. If you want perfect looking round cookies, allow the baking sheet to cool for about 10 minutes before adding your next batch.

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

 

Tip #5 

You can never be too generous,” my Mom says.  Whenever family and friends come over, my mom always bakes their favorite treat in preparation of their arrival. My aunt is hooked on her ginger snaps. I always request her carrot cake and my brother loves her Bailey’s Irish Cream cake. Growing up, my friend Ben loved her congo bars. No matter how busy she is, my mom always makes sure to bake these treats for us whether or not it is a special occasion. This year on Passover she sent me a surprise package with lots of homemade Passover goodies. It felt so special having a little piece of home all the way across the country in Los Angeles with me.

I’ve really tried to embrace this value and bake for those I love whenever possible. Even our foster dogs get homemade treats from me now:

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

Growing up I have vivid memories of my mom baking late at night for my school bake sales. I was really good at letting her know about the sales well in advance (NOT!), but despite working a full-time job, my mom always managed to stay up late the night before and bake the best treats.  I know lots of other moms would have just run out to the store  and picked up something for the bake sale, but not my mom – she insisted on baking something every time. And it was worth it, because her baked goods sold out immediately at each sale!

Looking back on it now, I realize she always has been “SuperMom” and I am incredibly lucky. I wish I appreciated these little things more when I was younger (like how she would take me to shop at Hollister, even though she hated it because it was pitch black and the music was blasting).

I love you, Mom. Thank you for your endless love and support. And, see – I will always remember your tips no matter how silly they are!  I am so looking forward to celebrating Mother’s Day at home with you this year.

My mom's best baking tips for guaranteed perfect results.

 

Has your mom taught you any special baking tips?

Desserts

Healthy Blondies

These healthy blondies require NO flour, butter, or oil all thanks to one secret ingredient. Can you guess what it might be?

Recently, my friend from elementary school, Ben, reached out to me on Facebook after seeing my blog (Hi Ben!). I hadn’t heard from him in years, so when he asked me if I ever made my mom’s congo bars it brought back a flood of memories. I hadn’t thought about my mom’s beloved congo bars in ages. In fact, I couldn’t even recall that last time she made them.

But when I was growing up, my mom used to always make Congo Bars. By the way, if you’re sitting there scratching your head, wondering what the heck a congo bar is, then think of it like a blondie. In fact, I don’t even know if there is a discernible difference between a congo bar and a blondie. Is there?

These healthy blondies require NO flour, butter, or oil all thanks to one secret ingredient. Can you guess what it might be? // www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Whenever I had friends come over for playdates, study sessions, sleepovers, etc. there seemed to always be a batch of ooey-gooey melty congo bars.

Ben, in particular, loved my mom’s congo bars. In fact, he loved them so much that he made up a song and dance about them.  No joke. My mom loved this, of course, so just about every week she asked me if she should make a batch of congo bars just for Ben (my mom is one of the most thoughtful, generous women you will ever meet and if she knows you love one of her baked goods, she will make sure to always bake it for you).

Ben’s comment got me craaaaaaaaving one of my mom’s congo bars. So, I set out a healthier version of my beloved childhood treat.

These healthy blondies require NO flour, butter, or oil all thanks to one secret ingredient. Can you guess what it might be? // www.littlechefbigappetite.com

In this version we’re using chickpeas.

Yup, chickpeas. No flour. These are gluten-free. In fact, they’re vegan, too (unintentionally, but hey now I am just pleasing loads of different diets!)

These healthy blondies require NO flour, butter, or oil all thanks to one secret ingredient. Can you guess what it might be? // www.littlechefbigappetite.com

And what goes better with chickpeas then peanut butter, am I right!?

*Crickets*

I’m kidding. I’ll admit we’re doing weird things with these healthy blondies. It is completely strange combination, but it works, so just hang in there a little while longer, would’ya?

These healthy blondies require NO flour, butter, or oil all thanks to one secret ingredient. Can you guess what it might be? // www.littlechefbigappetite.com

You’re going to need a food processor or a very good blender. Everything gets thrown in and blended up all nice and smooth. You just let that food processor do alllllll the work.

These healthy blondies require NO flour, butter, or oil all thanks to one secret ingredient. Can you guess what it might be? // www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I may or may not have eaten 1/3 of the batter before it went into the pan. I mean, there was no egg in it, and it was calling to me….so what’s a girl to do – just let it sit there??

See if you can exercise a little more self-restraint than me and get the batter into the pan sooner than I did. In the end you’ll have some pretty delicious congo bars / blondies / whatever the heck you want to call them.

You would never in one million years know these healthy blondies contain chickpeas…OR they’re gluten-free and vegan.

 

Secret Ingredient Healthy Blondies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 1 15oz. can unsalted chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ⅓ cup natural unsalted peanut butter or almond butter* (See note below)
  • ¼ – ⅓ cup maple syrup (to taste)**
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 bar good quality dark-chocolate, chopped
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips for sprinkling (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 baking pan.
  2. Combine all ingredients besides the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth (about 45 seconds). Gently fold in the chopped dark chocolate.
  3. Pour the mixture into the baking pan. Sprinkle the top with additional chocolate chips (optional). Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges begin to harden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The blondies will harden as they cool, so be careful not to overcook them. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Be careful not to cut them too soon, or you will just get blondie mess instead of nice squares!
Notes
*Peanut Butter will provide a noticeable peanut butter taste and almond butter will be mild and less detectable.

**You can substitute honey, but they will no longer be vegan.