Made with chocolate, coffee, and a hazelnut-mascarpone filling, these mocha crinkle cookie sandwiches are the ultimate Christmas treat. They have been deemed a “more dank Oreo”, if that’s your thing.
Hello from beautiful Oregon! I’m here for the next few days road tripping through the state, and I have big plans of drinking lots of beer + coffee and buying all the cheese at Face Rock Creamery! Yesterday, we went fishing on the Umpqua River, and I caught 20 fish! I even stuck my thumb into a few of their mouths, because apparently this stiffens them up and keeps them from flopping everywhere. I wasn’t totally down with this method of fish-holding, or any method for that matter, but I did it for the ‘gram. The Umpqua River might be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, so for most of the journey, I sat back on the boat and admired the view. I saw at least a dozen giant birds, including some bald eagles which you can recognize because they have white butts.
Today, I head over to the coast, and apparently there will be wine tasting involved! I’m also in desperate search for some good coffee, because being in the middle of nowhere Oregon = little to no coffee options, and I’m dying of caffeine headaches. On the other hand, I found a legit drive-up ice cream spot today, which I honestly didn’t even know existed anymore, and they had cherry-dipped cones (a.k.a. the way to my heart). I vote that Reno gets an ice cream drive-up that specializes purely in cherry-dipped cones. I will invest actual money into this enterprise. Continue reading “Caramel + Coconut Nanaimo Bars”
I’m just going to start off this entire post with the disclaimer that this recipe for zimtsterne is absolutely not traditional. I’ve been known around these parts to bastardize traditional recipes, such as when I baked a “New York” cheesecake with mascarpone + amaretto or when I made tater tot poutine. And if there’s one thing I’ve noticed about the internet, it’s that people get actually upset when you don’t make a recipe exactly like their recipe. It’s the precise reason that I probably will never post a recipe for goulash or huevos rancheros, and why I keep disclaimers on these posts in the first place. But I digress…this is about cookies.
Ever since I went to Germany, I’ve been obsessed with Germany. Like, all I think of is Five Elephant and eating schnitzel with fries + mayo. And then yesterday, I went to a local bakery in town, Bavarian World, and honest to god it’s probably one of my favorite places in Reno. On one side, there’s a bakery/market that has absolutely the best baklava and pretzel rolls, and pecan cakes. And then on the other side is a restaurant that I’ve never eaten at, but I have secret dreams of going on a date there Fast Times at Ridgemont High style. While I was in line waiting to buy my pretzel rolls and roast beef for Christmas-day lunch, I saw a package of zimtsterne, a star-shaped cinnamon cookie, which I had never heard of before, but then I got really excited (!!!) because I literally stayed up the night before trying to think of a cookie I could make with pistachios. And even though zimtsterne is usually made with almonds, I am having a love affair with pistachios almost always, so I figured I could add those too. Yay Bavarian World!!!
This past week, I’ve had approximately three or four different Christmas parties to attend, and I am partied tf out. I have spent two too many mornings hugging a Gatorade and popping Ibeuprofen for my headache after an evening of Moscow Mules and late-night tacos. Which is why I spent my Friday night listening to She & Him Christmas albums and making this cookie dough. And it was perfect, because it has to chill for at least a few hours, and it was perfectly chilly by the time I woke up to bake them this morning! Traditionally these cookies are made with a meringue, but there are two ways you can go about things:
1. If you’re a sinner, you can just add the egg whites straight to the dough (hi), which yields a denser, chewier cookie.
2. If you’re a traditionalist, you can whip up a meringue and fold the nut mixture into the meringue which will result in a cookie reminiscent of a macaron.
Out of sheer laziness, and because the last time I whipped egg whites ended in an epic failure, I went with the “adding the egg whites” option, and I love that the texture is somewhat biscuit-y and chewy. However, next time I’m going to try it the meringue way, because I also love airy cookies.
Now, if I can just somehow get myself back to Germany ASAP I promise to try real-life, traditional, Christmasy zimtsterne. Scout’s honor.
Makes 28 two-inch cookies
100 g ground, unsalted pistachios (about 1 c. whole)
200 g ground, unsalted almonds (about 2 c. whole)
100 g (about 1/2 c.) powdered sugar
50 g (1/3 c.) flour
2.5 g (1 tsp.) cinnamon
Zest of 1/2 orange
4.2 g (1 tsp.) vanilla extract
2 egg whites
200 g (about 1 c.) powdered sugar
30 g (2 Tbs.) orange juice
30 g (2 Tbs.) milk
2 g (1/2 tsp.) vanilla extract
In a food processor, combine pistachios and almonds. Pulse until they are finely ground, but be careful not to grind them too much, or they’ll turn into a nut butter! In a bowl, combine the ground nuts, powdered sugar, flour, cinnamon, and orange zest. Stir in the vanilla extract and egg whites until a crumbly dough forms*. Using your hands, knead until everything is mixed together and the dough forms. Flatten, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least an hour, but you can make it up to 2 days in advance.
Preheat oven to 350* F (170* C). After the dough has chilled, roll it on a powdered-sugar surface until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Using a star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out about 28 cookies, re-rolling as necessary. I like to dip the cookie cutter in powdered sugar before cutting, because it prevents sticking. Line on a greased baking sheet. They can be pretty close together, because they don’t puff up much. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the edges are very lightly browned. Let cool completely.
*Alternatively, for airy cookies, you can whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the dry mixture into the egg whites, add the vanilla, and finish the recipe as directed.
While the cookies are baking, combine the remaining powdered sugar with the orange juice, milk, and vanilla. I start with 1 Tbs. each of orange juice and milk and add more liquid to get my desired consistency of icing. After the cookies have cooled, dip each one in the glaze. Add sprinkles if desired! Let harden, and keep stored in tupperware.
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: I’ll Be Home for Christmas by She & Him
Every once in a while, I actually get my life together enough to provide a seasonal recipe before the season actually ends. Most of time, I end up making the recipe, taking about half the pictures, running out of time to finish taking the rest of the pictures, and decide I will keep them around until the next year when I can post that recipe. And by the time the season rolls around again, I a. forget about it completely, b. have decided the recipe needs to be improved, or c. hate the pictures I’ve taken from the year before.
And the cycle continues.
But! This year, I was actually responsible and got it all done, and now we have a springtime cookie recipe! Eeee! Also, not even kidding, I was able to get a couple of branches of the springtime cherry trees flowering a mere two. days. before they turned into dark purple leaves. It was meant to be.
These cherry macaroons were loosely inspired by smitten kitchen’s raspberry macaroons, which are 10/10, but I was looking for something a little different that had more of a “spring” vibe. I always think of cherries when spring rolls around, because the cherry trees bloom like crazy around Reno once it hits March. We also have these absolutely gorgeous trees that bloom little white flowers (as seen in a post from last year), and I absolutely loooove them, except I just learnt a dirty little nickname for them (prompted by a certain smell they give off) that I will keep off my
family-friendly PG-13 blog, but let’s just say it rhymes with sum-trees *insert blushing-face emoji*. If you really need more information, there’s a very entertaining article about it here.
The more you know. I guess that’s what they mean when they say “Spring is in the air!”. Thanks internet!
But anyways, is this really a topic we should be discussing in the presence of innocent, delicate, spring-time cookies that summon images of blossoms, bunnies, and little chickies popping out of eggs? No. But it is me after all, and this is just the kind of thing we can expect on SSL.
One of my favorite aspects of these macaroons is that they are not quite as crackly as most macaroons I have tried in the past. Luckily for us, Cooks Illustrated solved all of our coconuty-problems with one simple solution: just puree the coconut in a food processor! Yay! Also, I loooove that I don’t have to whip egg whites for 20 minutes, which is traditional in most macaroon recipes. so. much. easier!
Lastly, while I think this is the perfect recipe for Easter-fun, I also just discovered that this is a kosher-approved cookie for my friendies celebrating Passover! Macaroons for all!
Oh wait, P.S. I highly recommend drizzling some of these with chocolate and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios. I used semi-sweet, but white chocolate or milk chocolate would work too!
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the Day: The Next Time Around by Little Joy
I’ve spent the last couple of days not even realizing that it’s September. Mentally, I have been completely checked out, which has been rudely unhelpful considering I just started my senior year of college this past Monday. The most surprising aspect of this scenario is that a mere 2 1/2ish months ago, I was in complete denial that I was almost done with the college portion of my life. Where did the time go?! Wasn’t I supposed to cherish this more? Get more involved? How are my 20s going this fast? SOS.
However, the closer I get to graduation, the more I realize the wonderful things ahead of me. Traveling around Europe. Getting a dog. Interviewing for my first big girl job. Getting said big girl job. Buying my first house. Opening up my coffee shop. Hopefully eventually getting married, which I’ve heard can sometimes be fun. Putting things into those perspectives can be really enlightening, especially when they’re looked at from a broad, futuristic viewpoint. It’s not that I necessarily expect every single one of those things to happen (or at least when I expect them to), but I love having future accomplishments or events to look forward to. Because, as far as I’m concerned, every Millennials’ goal should be to plan, plan, plan – but also, be flexible. Plan that trip to Thailand! Take that class on how to make perfect bread! Finish writing all those songs you’ve been stumbling over for months! And yes, while these are things that I would like to do, everyone should have their own goals, and hopefully with time, everything uncontrollable will fall into place.
And if I am totally wrong about all of this, please do not tell me, because I like to be
If I have not yet mentioned this a thousand times in the past, baking is one of many outlets I use to help relieve stress when I’m in the midst of school and work busyness. Along with playing instruments, I’m usually baking if I have a day off on the weekend. Sometimes, I tackle more difficult or time consuming projects like cinnamon rolls or strawberry galettes with homemade crust, but other times, I like to stick to something that can be made super easily! Usually in those times, I make my favorite 15 minute brownie recipe or chocolate chip cookies.
Chocolate chip cookies are one of my favorites, which is pretty much a given, because they’re essentially everyones’ favorite. Since they’re everyones’ favorite, everyone also has their favorite recipe. If you scour the internet, it’s filled to the brim with a million “Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever” recipes. That market is saturated, folks. However, this recipe is one that I have adapted from the original Nestle Tollhouse recipe, and I think it’s absolutely perfect. If you watch Friends, you know what I mean.
As for the butterscotch chips, I’m not sure when I really became obsessed. I don’t know that I’ve necessarily had anything that was true “butterscotch” flavor, but one time I had some butterscotch chip cookies, and I thought they were amazing. With that said, I always love classic chocolate chip cookies the best. Sometimes, I just want a little bit more fun, and that’s when butterscotch gets added to the mix (literally). As for my recipe, I have made slight adjustments that fit with my taste preferences over the years , but you can use the original Nestle recipe if you prefer. You can also use all chocolate chips in my adjusted recipe if you like that better than butterscotch!
*Recipe Notes: 1. I live at a higher altitude, so I use 2 1/2 c. of flour to stabilize the cookie dough a little more. If you live at sea-level, you can use 2 1/4 c. like the original recipe, or you can use 2 1/2 for a little bit of a thicker, chewier cookie. The rest of the ingredients will work at both sea-level and high-altitude. 2. I add the cornstarch, which makes the cookies a little bit softer, but it is not necessary if you do not have it at home.
Have a beautiful weekend ♥
XO Sara Lynn
*Song of the Day: Will I Come by King Krule
Picking a Valentine’s Day recipe was more of a debacle then I ever thought imaginable. To a normal person that doesn’t spend their days thinking about food or clothes, this sounds absolutely crazy, but for me, that’s pretty much my life. Valentine’s Day recipes to me is creme brulee, chocolate lava cakes, maybe macarons if you want to get cute. Valentine’s Day to Pinterest=pink, pink, pink, sprinkles, pink. Since I was wanting to make something for my friends, I decided creme brulee might be a little too romantic, but I also don’t want to poison my friends with 1/4 cup of pink food coloring. Then I thought of chocolate covered strawberries, because they’re probably one of my favorite things ever, but strawberries aren’t in season yet.
Being an adult is hard )-:
All of a sudden, I realized I was completely overthinking every decision in my life (the usual), when I came across a picture of M&M cookies while paging through recipes. And then I found a bag of V-day colored M&Ms while strolling through the grocery store. Game over.
I think, in the end, my ultimate goal was just to go back to elementary school V-Days, because those were fun as hell. What happened to tissue boxes covered in crepe paper and cupid stickers that your friends would put little cards and candies in? That was the coolest. Since now I’m old enough to safely use an oven (debatable), I can make cute little cookies for Galentine’s Day and still celebrate the friendship aspect of the holiday.
Valentine’s Day has always been something that I thought was incredibly over done in movies and TV shows (seriously, have you seen the movie Valentine’s Day? I accidentally saw it last night, and it was the worst), but I love fun, laid-back, romantic V-Days with my SO ♥♥♥ I think everyone gets so busy that they sometimes forget to appreciate their loved ones, but it’s totally important to take time for a date-night (or family night, or friends night) whether it’s on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year.
I hope you have a super cool V-Day with your special human, family, friends, fur babies, and/or yourself.
*Song of the Day: I’ll Try Anything Once by The Strokes*
I’ve decided to start off the official twelve days of Christmas by posting a holiday recipe every day until the 25th! Cookies, candies, and other foods that are bad for you (but it’s okay because it’s the holidays). The recipes will be some old, some new, but all worthy of your holiday baking list.
First Day of Christmas: German Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
This is an old recipe, dating back to 3 years ago (didn’t really think I had a blog that long ago tbh). These cookies remain one of my favorites, and I also like how they look snowy!
Second Day of Christmas: Soft Sugar Cookies with Sour Cream Frosting
These cookies are perfect for the holidays, because the recipe makes a lot, everyone likes them, and you can decorate them with holiday sprinkles. They take a little extra time than most cookies, but it’s worth it, I promise!
Third Day of Christmas: Orange Drop Cookies
This is my grandma’s recipe that I bake entirely too much (although, I don’t really see anyone complaining about it). It’s been one of my favorite desserts since I was really little. If you’re indecisive about holiday baking, just trust me on this: make these cookies.
Fourth Day of Christmas: Cheesecake Crumb Bars
Taking a break from the cookies to present cheesecake crumb bars! A mix between cheesecake, crumb cake, and shortbread. Customize with different flavors, or go simple with a little vanilla.
Fifth Day of Christmas: The Best Nut Caramel Ever
This is one of my family’s favorite holiday recipes! The caramel is super easy to make, and it’s customizable, because you can just add in whatever nuts you have on hand (although I highly recommend walnuts and hazelnuts). Wrap them in mini Christmas cupcake liners, because it’s cute.
Sixth Day of Christmas: Pineapple Zucchini Bread
This bread is a nice break from all the super sweet that comes with cookies and candy during the holidays. Filled with zucchini, walnuts, and pineapple, it’s perfect with a little butter and some coffee for breakfast!
Seventh Day of Christmas: Cinnamon Butter Candy
Unique, spicy, and the hardest part of the recipe is boiling the water. Wrap as a gift, and give your friends a break from peppermint chocolate bark. Or just keep it for yourself (trust me, you’ll want to)!
Eighth Day of Christmas: Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
These are time consuming, but if you make these, you will pretty much win Christmas baking altogether. P.S. They’re not hard. They just have to rise for a few hours!
Ninth Day of Christmas: Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
These cookies are really easy to make, and I love how festive they are! Sweet from white chocolate, tart from the cranberries, and chewy from the oatmeal. Santa will be happy 🙂
Tenth Day of Christmas: Butter Cookies with Walnuts
Effortless, buttery icebox cookies filled with walnuts that melt when you eat them. Keep them simple with vanilla, or add extra flavors to get more creative with your holiday baking. This recipe makes a lot of cookies, so you have plenty to wrap up and gift!
Eleventh Day of Christmas: Espresso Hot Chocolate with Vanilla Whipped Cream
This is by far my favorite hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Only 5 ingredients and perfect for Christmas brunch!
Twelfth Day of Christmas: Norwegian Lefse
My family’s Christmas tradition every year! Lefse is a cross between a tortilla and a crepe, made out of potatoes. I look forward to making lefse every year, because it’s fun and of course, it tastes amazing! If you’ve ever wanted to make Nordic food, this is the best place to start.
Merry Christmas, my friends ♥
Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like nothing goes right?
And then you realize that literally everything you’re sad about is just a bunch of first-world problems, and nothing is actually wrong and you’re just being a princess about everything…?
Because I had that kind of day on Friday.
First, I woke up really early (at like, 6 a.m. On my day only day off…) and could literally hear my next door neighbor’s TV. Please note: I live in a house. Not an apartment. Not a condo. A house. And I could hear their TV. Because only at 6 a.m. do I have superpower hearing. After laying in bed staring at the wall for a few hours, I got up and *attempted* to do my hair and makeup, but no matter what I did, I looked like a hot mess. After about 1 1/2 hours, I finally was able to make myself look how I do every single day. It just took twice as long.. I finally decided that I would grab lunch and watch movies. But then I dropped my lunch on the ground 1 bite in (and ate it anyways because at that point, I had no limits). I also couldn’t find half of my Disney movies. So to solve that problem, I had a meltdown.
I am almost 20 years old and I cried over not being able to find my Disney movies.
Eventually, I decided to go grab a coffee, talked to a cute barista, and ended up at an 80’s party wearing a Risky Business costume.
The day ended up pretty great, and I realized that I just needed to take a deep breath, and understand that my problems were really not that bad.
Because they weren’t.
But they were kind of funny and now you can mock me a little.
Plus, I had these sitting in my fridge, so how bad could my day really be?
Since I know most of you are probably thinking, “What’s a nanaimo bar”, here’s a brief history:
The Nanaimo bar was invented in none other than Nanaimo, Canada. That’s about all I know. The actual dessert is made up of 3 layers. The first is a no-bake crust made with chocolate, nuts, coconut, and graham crumbs. The second layer is traditionally a custard buttercream, and it’s topped with chocolate.
But since it’s Girl Scout Cookie season (because obviously that’s a season), I decided to make them using Somoa cookies. Which already have chocolate, coconut, and a graham-like texture.
Plus caramel which is never a bad thing.
As previously stated, traditional nanaimo bars have a custard buttercream filling. Which is really good, but really rich, and really sweet. To make it a little less dense, I decided to make a swiss meringue buttercream filling. And add caramel to enhance the Somoa theme.
Result = something you need to make now.
Note: Please don’t be scared. 3 layers sounds like a lot. Swiss meringue buttercream sounds intimidating. SO NOT. These are very easy and don’t require that much time. Be brave, bakers.
1/2 c. unsalted butter
3 Tbs. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c. Samoa cookie crumbs, crushed + 1/2 c. chopped roughly for garnish
1/2 c. almonds, chopped
1 c. sweetened coconut
3 egg whites
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. caramel sauce, homemade or store bought
4 oz. baking chocolate
1 Tbs. butter
For the bottom layer, melt the butter, sugar, and cocoa on the stove over medium heat. When it’s combined, mix 1/4 cup of the mixture into the egg to temper. Add egg mixture back to the chocolate mixture and stir over the heat until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in Samoa crumbs, almonds, and coconut. Press into a greased 8×8 or 8×11 baking pan. Freeze for 20-40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1-2 inches of water in a medium sized sauce pan on the stove until it starts to simmer. In a heat-proof mixing bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar. Place mixing bowl on top of the sauce pan and stir the mixture until a candy thermometer reads 140-150* F. Remove from heat, and whip egg mixture until stiff peaks form and mixture is cooled. Add butter, 1-2 Tbs. at a time until frosting forms. If it appears curdled, keep beating until it forms, or add butter 1-2 Tbs. at a time until the texture is creamy and smooth. Add vanilla extract, salt, and caramel sauce. Pour mixture and spread evenly over the crust layer. Refrigerate until buttercream is firm.
While the buttercream firms, heat the chocolate and butter over low heat until melted. Spread chocolate evenly over firm buttercream layer. Sprinkle chopped cookies over the top, and refrigerate until chocolate is hardened. Cut into bars, or bite sized pieces. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes 16 large bars or 64 bite sized pieces.
I hope you all had a wonderful Sunday. I laid in bed until 11, went to my favorite coffee place, and watched Friends for hours.
What did you do?
*Song of the Day: Pedestrian at Best–Courtney Barnett
I know that you’re probably over cookies right now after the holidays. You’re probably really over all of my cookie recipes.
And if you’re still doing well with your New Year’s resolution to work out and eat healthy, then you’re probably mad at me for rubbing these in your face.
I get it. I’m over cookies/shouldn’t be looking at pictures of cookies too, but for some reason that’s not stopping me.
They’re actually a copycat Swig recipe from Vintage Revivals. I’ve never actually been to Swig, which I’m sad about because they’re located in St. George which I used to pass by at least once a month when my family and I would go to our cabin. But if I ever end up in St. George again, I’ll stop by and give you an update. Mandi from Vintage Revivals claims that these are not only the best sugar cookies ever, but the best cookies ever in general.
And while I wouldn’t say they’re the best cookies I’ve ever had, I would agree that they’re pretty damn good. Plus my friends were obsessed with them soooo…
Anyways, sorry I haven’t posted in a week (or two or something). I’ve had food poisoning for the past few days, which makes me both repulsively nauseous and ravenously hungry, which seems contradicting, because it is.
Anyways, today I actually made myself get out of bed (I’ve been on a Friends Netflix marathon for 3 days since I’ve been sick) and organize my closet, run some errands, and clean my house, which makes me feel a little better about the Friends marathon.
Now that I’ve told you all about my gross sickness, here’s a delicious recipe!
I’m the best.
*Recipe slightly adapted from Vintage Revivals*
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1 1/4 c. sugar + 1/4 c. extra for top
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbs. water
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
5 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sour cream
1 1/2-2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Sprinkles (optional–I actually only used them for pictures)
Preheat oven to 350* F.
Cream together the butter, vegetable oil, sugars, water, eggs, and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients in increments. Mix until well incorporated, but not overmixed. Roll into larger balls–about 2 inches.
Spread remaining sugar onto a plate. Using the bottom of a glass (I found the wine glass was best), press the bottom into the sugar, and use the bottom of the glass to flatten each cookie. If the sugar won’t stick at first, slightly dampen the bottom of your glass by rubbing water on with your finger.
Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the bottoms are slightly brown.
Meanwhile, for the frosting, cream the butter and sour cream until smooth. Add powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla until it is a thick frosting. Thin to desired consistency with milk.
Spread frosting on cooled cookies. Add sprinkles, if desired. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.
According to Vintage Revival’s instructions, the cookies should be cold while the frosting is room temp in order to get the real Swig experience. I wouldn’t know, but I’m sure it’s a good combo. Since I didn’t have time to frost cold cookies as my guests were coming in, I left them in the fridge and let them come slightly to room temp. I also added vanilla because I think every baked good should have vanilla in them.