Extraordinary Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made this recipe for the second time yesterday. This time I doubled it. This morning I couldn’t wait to get out of bed to get the plate out of its hiding place (from the kids, of course) and eat these cookies for breakfast. They ARE that good! Not breakfast material, granted, but who can resist mocha and dark chocolate in a nutty cookie? Anyone who knows me can say I refuse to read a book more than once. The same goes for recipes–I prefer to test a new recipe than to repeat an old one, so the fact that I’ve repeated a recipe is certainly saying something! It’s worth trying.

I tweaked and personalized this recipe so much that it no longer resembles the original recipe. At this point I feel compelled to post THIS version because I know deep in my heart that I’ll start going crazy with the tweaking and add coconut (horrified gasp from audience!) or something to ruin it.

You will notice that the cookie dough will be much darker than usual chocolate chip cookie dough. I’ve added a pinch of cocoa powder and coffee for flavor and divine-ness (for lack of a better word)… and I also threw in that “secret ingredient” cornstarch for pillowy second-day softness. You can make the espresso a bit stronger if you’re a fan of caffeine jitters. Don’t worry if the dough seems dry. It should, however clump together when you mash it in your fist. If it doesn’t, add a tablespoon of milk and whip-it-good into the batter.

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

Extraordinary Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Adapted from Food Network)

1 stick soft butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
3 T. granulated sugar (this is necessary for crunchiness)
1 large egg, room temp
2 t. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking POWDER (aluminum free)
1/2 t. baking SODA
1/2 t. salt
1 T. cornstarch
3 T. cocoa powder
2 t. instant espresso coffee powder or coffee concentrate
2 c. dark chocolate chips
2 c. walnuts
Blend the butter until it’s pale and fluffy. Add sugars and beat until it’s even fluffier, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined.

Prepare espresso with 1 T. boiling water.
Measure out dry ingredients in separate bowl and  slowly beat into the butter mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. The longer the better! Overnight refrigeration is best.

Preheat oven to 350° and place chilled cookie dough in blobs onto cookie sheets. This cookie dough does not spread if dough is cold when placed in the oven so you can place cookies fairly close together on greased cookie sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or when edges start getting dark. You want the cookie to be fluffy on top but not hard-baked all the way through (this will result in a soft and chewy consistency so don’t overbake!)


Mini Orange Marmalade Apple Crumble Pies

Before you start judging my photos and wondering why on earth there’s Christmassy penguins on the tablecloth, I’m breaking down and admitting that YES, this is when I made this recipe and did the photoshoot! It’s nearing the end of May now. I am full of shame :)

I decided to experiment with orange marmalade when Dad gave me a huge tub of it during the holidays. Gorgeous marmalade: thick, golden and zesty strips of orange rind in a sweet sauce. I thought, why not use it with apples….apple pie…spices…? Sounds divine, tastes divine, too. Don’t use sugar if you’re adding marmalade, of course. Brown sugar or flour are usually good thickening agents for pies but marmalade on its own does it quite well with a teaspoon of flour or cornstarch.

I love using crumble toppings instead of dough for pies to add extra crunch and texture (apple pies are usually mushy and runny!). Plus the oats and nuts add enough of a healthy factor to eat this goodness for breakfast or at least more than one…for me, anyway! Make sure when you’re rubbing butter over your oats and nuts that all of them are covered so that they bake up nicely golden brown. If you leave any out, the poor guys might burn and won’t get crispy in that good, buttery way.

This recipe has two components: the filling and topping. Honestly with the apples I always just wing it. What you want is soft apples (I keep the peel on for extra fiber) and a sweet, sticky consistency. The topping should be buttered, slightly sweet and crunchy. Use any nuts you like. I usually have  more almonds on hand than any other nuts (family not included, hah!).

Winter 20123

Mini Orange Marmalade Apple Crumble Pies

5-6 apples (if making a 9-inch pie) chopped
1/4 c. orange marmalade
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. allspice
1/8 t. nutmeg
1 T. vanilla
1/4 c. fresh orange or other citrus juice
2 T. butter (optional)
9-inch pie crust (optional, you can make this without pie dough at all)

1/2 stick soft butter, chopped for easier crumbling if its cold
1-2 c. quick oats (instant works too)
3-4 T. honey
1 c. chopped nuts
1/2 t. vanilla


Preheat oven to 350°F. Make sure your oven is empty of pans, pots and lids :)

Start by preparing the apples, peel them if you like. I like my apples thickly sliced and unpeeled. Throw into a pan with butter and spices on MED heat, saute until almost soft. Stir often. Add the rest of the filling’s ingredients, stir another minute and set aside.

Combine the oats, nuts, honey, vanilla and butter in a bowl and shmush the butter and oats together, making sure to rub butter over all of the oats.

Pour apples into your prepared pan(s) and cover them with the topping. I like a thick layer of topping but you can reserve some for another time.

Bake for 20-30 min. or until apples are bubbling and the topping is golden and crispy-looking. You don’t want to overcook the apples since they’re already pre-cooked or they’ll turn to mush. Enjoy before the kids eat all of it!

Winter 20124

Winter 20127



Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone has a chocolate chip cookie preference, right? I’ve searched high and low for the perfect cookie, sometimes finding them in stores but never made the perfect batch at home. It has to be chewy, soft, slightly crunchy on the outside but moist and chewy and VERY chocolaty on the inside, with lots of nuts too. This new recipe I tried a few days ago is pretty great. The “secret ingredient” is corn starch and it keeps the cookies soft even on the next day. The cookies don’t spread on the baking sheet much, so you can place them pretty close together for quicker baking and faster consumption (the faster they bake and the more you bake, the more you can eat at a faster rate…my kind of plan). I’ll admit I hid a plate of cookies to eat myself that the kids didn’t see. It’s for their own good, really.

Let the cookies cool a bit on the baking sheet first, they’ll fall apart otherwise. Transfer them to a wire rack after a few minutes to finish cooling without absorbing steam.

Notice how dark and yellow my “homemade” hen’s egg looks! I love it.

I found this recipe on: http://kelseysappleaday.blogspot.com/2011/08/best-ever-chewy-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

Soft’n’Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Adapted from Kelseysappleaday.blogspot.com)
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. dark chocolate, chopped
1 c. walnuts (I used toasted chopped almonds)
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and blend in.
3.  Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chunks.
4.  Using a standard-sized cookie scoop or tablespoon, drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges.  (The tops will not brown, but do NOT cook longer than ten minutes.)

5.  Let cool, on the sheet, on a wire rack for five minutes.  Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.  Makes approximately 3 dozen.


Sweet Lemon Truffles

Here’s a very easy, very quick recipe for dessert. Your kids will have fun rolling the truffles into balls (and you can avoid getting your hands sticky if you have little helping hands). I’ve had multiple requests for this recipe and it’s exhausting keeping the recipe in my head. The sour lemon flavor is balanced very well with the sweetness of the white chocolate, it has a lovely flavor. To liquor it up you can substitute a tablespoon of Limoncello for some of the lemon juice…but with so many kids in the house it’s impossible to have ANY foods that are deemed “ADULTS ONLY”. Sweet Lemon Truffles

Sweet Lemon Truffles

500 grams white chocolate
60 ml. lemon juice (1/4 cup)
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup heavy cream

Powdered sugar for rolling the truffles

1. Heat cream and lemon zest in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat until hot (avoid boiling).

2. Remove from heat and mix in white chocolate while it’s still hot. Add lemon juice and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.

3. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Freezing works if you’re in a hurry but pour the mixture into a flat container for quicker cooling.

4. Scoop with a small spoon or melon baller and roll into balls. Roll in powdered sugar if desired. Keep refrigerated, they melt quickly! September 20124I made these for my sister’s baby shower, along with almost all the other desserts. My sister’s signature dessert dish is the one with pink Jello and raspberries on top. That recipe will be posted soon! I will also be posting a post under “Events” for the baby shower decorations my sisters and I made for the inspiration of our readers.

Let me know if you enjoyed these truffles! It’s easy to substitute any citrus for the lemon juice, you can experiment with another juice instead of lemon… the white chocolate hardens enough to hold a ball shape without adding other unnecessary ingredients (like Crisco, my most abhorred and avoided ingredient!).
Baby Shower

“Men’s Day” Par-tay

Even though its America we occasionally celebrate former Soviet Army Day, also known as “Men’s Day” to balance out March 8th celebrations for women. Except this year…we threw the guys a big party and they innocently forgot March 8th. How convenient! The girls from our couple’s Bible Study group all planned this party for weeks…*sigh*…

The watermelon idea was mine!Make sure you wash your axe with soap and water, then carefully slice the rind of the watermelon without reaching the pink flesh inside. That way it’ll be safe to eat. Ours turned out watery (it was February, after all) so we didn’t eat it. I was pregnant and craving watermelon like nobody’s business but I was out of luck.

We used paint chips and pieces from my boys’ construction set to string up as a banner, used a dirty beat-up cooler for ice and bottled drinks, and scattered building supplies around the table and floor. The men were told to wear old work clothes and those leather belts. I stopped by Home Depot and they really have a ton of nearly free stuff that’s great for a construction party theme. Paint trays, masks, hats and all other kinds of protection gear while painting, etc. are great for a boy’s birthday party theme.

Spring 2011

Ah yes that’s me on the left, 6 months pregnant back in 2011, cheesing and dorking like always :) Olya, Tonia and Tanya look awesome!

Food was served in (washed) paint containers and brush holders. We served baked potato wedges, chicken wings, garlic bread and salads. There were cakes and fruit for dessert. Drinks were piled into the beat-up cooler. We were going to use those horrid-looking orange drink containers from construction sites but we figured a cooler was fine in a hurry.

Spring 2011

 The guys were so surprised! And it was fun for us girls to create a “legitimate” mess. My son was over the moon with excitement even if the party wasn’t for him. He was very curious that adults can make a big deal about parties and have silly decorations :)

One thing I’d add is paint-splattered shoes and work boots lined up under the table! I’d utilize paint cans more, too. The guys do look happy, right? :)

Spring 20112