February 2018 archive

dark chocolate chunk espresso shortbread

In the past few weeks, it seems like everyone on the Internet has been making Alison Roman’s salted butter and dark chocolate chunk shortbread cookies. Cookies are my favorite baked good to make because of their versatility – there is always a twist, an addition, a substitution, or a tweak that can create an entirely new cookie. In this case, the classic chocolate chip cookie and the buttery shortbread cookie met for a totally new take on both cookies.

Dark Chocolate Chunk Espresso Shortbread | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Dark Chocolate Chunk Espresso Shortbread | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Dark Chocolate Chunk Espresso Shortbread | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

You know I love a good chocolate chip cookie, and I’m always excited to see a new version gain popularity, so I hopped on the bandwagon and got my mixer blending up this famous batter as soon as I could. The result? I didn’t love them. They were good and left me wanting more, but they didn’t beat my favorite chocolate chip cookie or shortbread cookie. I made them again to make sure I was secure in my decision and hadn’t made a fluke batch. After tasting the batter and baking up the cookies again, I came to the same conclusion. They were still lacking a little depth, and I wanted them to stand out on their own, rather than compete with the classic recipes.

Dark Chocolate Chunk Espresso Shortbread | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Dark Chocolate Chunk Espresso Shortbread | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Into the mixer went another stick of butter, but this time when I added the flour, a bit of espresso powder joined the mix too. To me, this addition was just what the cookies needed. The espresso powder intensified the flavor of the large dark chocolate chunks and increased the complexity of the cookie. While I felt ambivalent about the original recipe, I went back again and again to bake just one more of these new dark chocolate chunk espresso shortbread cookies.

Dark Chocolate Chunk Espresso Shortbread | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Dark Chocolate Chunk Espresso Shortbread | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

These dark chocolate chunk espresso shortbread cookies are filled with pools of melted deep dark chocolate and flecks of espresso powder and have the buttery texture of a shortbread cookie. While they resemble the original Alison Roman cookie, the flavor variation proves once again just how versatile cookies can be. You may not see me passing these cookies ;)

Dark Chocolate Chunk Espresso Shortbread Cookies
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons salted butter*, cold, cut into small pieces
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
6 ounces semi- or bittersweet dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 large egg
Turbinado sugar, for rolling
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

*if you don’t have salted butter you can add ¾ teaspoon sea/kosher salt when you add the flour and espresso powder.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cold butter, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the flour and instant espresso powder and mix just until combined. Add the chopped chocolate and mix just until incorporated. The dough will be crumbly but able to stick together when you press it between your hands.

Divide the dough in half and form each piece into a log shape, about 2-2 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper.

Lightly beat the egg and brush it on the outside of the cookie dough. Pour the turbinado sugar on top of the cookie dough and press it into the sides. Roll the bottom in the excess sugar, to coat the entire outside edge of the cookie dough log.

Using a sharp knife, cut the logs into ½-inch thick rounds. Arrange the cookies on your prepared baking sheets about 1-inch apart and sprinkle a little sea salt on each cookie. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn golden. Let the cookies cool slightly on the pan before moving to a wire rack to cool completely, or to a plate to eat/serve immediately. I’ve read that these keep for up to 5 days, but can’t say I’ve ever witnessed that.

To make ahead, make the dough and stop at the chilling step. Keep it wrapped in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to one month. When you are ready to bake them, go through the egg wash, sugar and sea salt steps as you would if you were making them fresh.

Slightly adapted from Alison Roman’s Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies.

link love

Hi, friends! Happy weekend! It has been a while since we have done link love over here. Link love posts have always been a fun addition, but were never my favorite posts to put together. Toward the end of last year, trying to find links each week got to be a drag and was causing more stress than it was worth. At the same time, my full-time job got busier and more stressful too. My goal for the year was to simplify, and one of the things I decided in working toward that goal was to only write link love posts when I really had things to share that I have been loving recently, instead of trying to scour the internet each week for links to share. So, while you may see less link love posts, they will be filled with things I am more interested in, and this new schedule will help my mental health. ;)

link love 2.25.2018via

Here we go!

The Everygirl just launched their new website, The Everymom. I love The Everygirl and their goal to inspire, empower, and help other women. While I’m not a mom, I still can’t wait to see how they create this new supportive space and community for moms.

Communication and community-building through social media. This isn’t necessarily a link, as much as it is something I have just been loving lately. I’ll be the first to admit that, like most of millenials, I spend too much time on my phone. However, lately I have been loving the interactions I have been able to make through Instagram stories and direct messages. There are so many people I follow and admire and it is so fun to be able to chat with people I don’t live near and otherwise wouldn’t know.

I have been looking for ways to update our living room decor and love all of the interior design posts by Alaina Kaczmarski, Erin Kestenbaum, and Harlowe James. Check them out! Alaina’s Chicago greystone was all over Pinterest and the internet last year, and her neutral, but still bold style makes me want to move into her lovely home. Erin Kestenbaum has a totally different style from Alaina, but I love all of her rich colors, bold patterns (and pattern mixing), and eye for detail. Her before-and-after photos and amazing DIY skills are so inspiring. Chrissy, from Harlowe James, utilizes lots of neutrals, like Alaina, but incorporates some blues into her laid-back style.

Lastly, this series of posts on solo female adventure guides is so wonderful. When I went to New York in October, most of my trip was spent by myself. I stayed with a good friend and was surrounded by strangers at a conference (where I still felt very alone), but my travels and the rest of my trip was spent with me, myself, and I. I navigated the subway (and bus and airport), found a new park, and walked to some of my favorite places by myself and it was shockingly peaceful and wonderful. Reading these posts took me right back to that experience.

everything cream cheese pastries

Back in September, my family spent a weekend in Delaware for my cousin’s wedding. One of our favorite things to do when we visit new places is to find a good coffee shop, and that we did.

Everything Cream Cheese Pastries | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Everything Cream Cheese Pastries | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

We popped into a cute college-town coffee shop on rainy Saturday morning to grab warm drinks. While we were at the counter the bagel selection caught our eye, and on a whim, Lane and Carter, the bagel connoisseurs of the family, each got a toasted everything bagel with cream cheese. Before that trip bagels had just been so-so for me. They were fine, but I didn’t love them. But, out came these piping hot bagels, golden and seasoned to perfection. One bite into them and I was completely sold. They were the best bagels I have ever had and my siblings were geniuses for ordering them. (more…)

everyday cookbooks

As the millennial that I am, I get most of my dinner recipes from some of my favorite food blogs online. I’ll let you in on a little secret that might sound blasphemous to many people: I don’t look for recipes on Pinterest. To me, Pinterest, like Instagram, is a place for pretty photos that inspire me, not necessarily day-to-day tips and tricks. Pinterest gets overwhelming, and isn’t organized enough for me to be able to find recipes that I want, so I stick to blogs and cookbooks.

Everyday Cookbooks

I have a great arsenal of cookbooks that are focused on baking, but not many that are for cooking, or for easy, healthy dinner recipes, which is typically what I’m looking for when I meal plan for the week. In the past year, I received Molly on the Range (thanks, Carter!) and Love and Lemons for my birthday (thanks, Mimi!), and have loved having a couple of great cookbooks on hand to turn to when I’m stuck in a meal-planning rut, or just to gain inspiration for new recipes when the seasons change and new produce is fresh and available. Since then I have had my eye on a few other cookbooks to use for the same purpose.

Everyday Cookbooks

A bunch of great cookbooks have come out in the past year, and a few are coming out soon, so I thought I would share some of the ones that are on my radar. Again, since I already get most of my recipes from food blogs, I tend to gravitate toward the cookbooks that are written by food bloggers who create recipes that I like, or recipe developers and contributors for prominent food publications.

Recent or upcoming cookbooks:
Pretty Simple Cooking by Sonja and Alex Overhiser of A Couple Cooks
The Pretty Dish by Jessica Merchant of How Sweet It Is, coming out March 20, 2018
Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor of Cookie & Kate
The Minimalist Kitchen by Melissa Coleman of The Faux Martha, coming out April 10, 2018
Dining In by Alison Roman
Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen
Half Baked Harvest Cookbook by Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest

Slightly older, but great for healthy, tasty dinners:
Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking by Dana Shultz of Minimalist Baker
Love and Lemons Cookbook by Jeanine Donofrio of Love and Lemons
Molly on the Range by Molly Yeh of My Name is Yeh

Do you have a well-loved cookbook that you use all the time? I’m all ears!

This post contains affiliate links. First photo via A Couple Cooks, second photo via Fairing Well.

blood orange bundt cake with cinnamon caramel

Last week we covered wine and chocolate as a delicious Valentine’s Day treat. This week, in honor of the month of everything pink and red overlapping with wonderful winter citrus season, I’m excited to bring you this blood orange bundt cake covered in cinnamon caramel!

Blood Orange Bundt Cake with Cinnamon Caramel | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Blood Orange Bundt Cake with Cinnamon Caramel | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

While I love citrus on its own, my appreciation for blood oranges in drinks, meals, and baked goods has grown throughout the years. The vibrant jewel toned ruby red insides of the oranges combined with the bright orange peel are enough to warrant attention on their own, but the amazingly fresh flavor and the gorgeous pink color that the juice provides makes this the perfect cake for this time of the year. (more…)

february goals

Thank you for all of the feedback on my 60 before 30 post! I am so excited for all of those fun challenges, and have already started working on a few of them!

2018 february goals | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

While January was filled with lots of travel and change, I feel good about the goals that I accomplished. I got a good start on my goal for the year – simplifying – by purging my closet of the items I don’t wear anymore and by getting back to meal planning and meal prepping. Looking ahead at my schedule for February, I feel like the short month is already so full. In order to make sure I don’t overcommit myself, one of my goals this month is to do something fun. I don’t know what that will be yet, but I’m determined to stick to that one!

January Goals
– Clean our apartment
– Purge at least one bag of things I don’t use or need
– Build in free time on our trips to make them relaxing rather than overwhelming – There was some free time on all of our trips, some more than others. I’m never good at building in time to relax on trips – I usually want to go, go go – but, I did find that down time helpful.
– Wake up early enough to enjoy a slow morning before work at least two days a week – I can’t say this one was easy, but I really enjoyed the slower mornings! I’m adding it to my February goals list and hopefully the number of slow mornings can grow in the next few months.
– Get back to meal planning – I’m so glad we got back to meal planning! It helped our grocery shopping and our evening schedules. We are implementing a new way of meal planning to make the process even simpler that I’ll share soon!

February Goals
– Celebrate a wedding and mini reunion weekend with college friends!
– Stay on track with race training (more on this later)
– Do meal prep at least two weeks of the month
– Wake up early enough to enjoy a slow morning before work at least two days a week
– Finish editing photos from Paris and post at least one Paris post
– Watch some of the Olympic medaling events!
– Complete our annual budget review
– Do something fun!