Dark Chocolate Almond Lace Cookies (Copy Cat Recipe)

Dark Chocolate Almond Lacy Cookie (Trader Joe's Copy Cat Recipe)

I wanted to share how delicious these crisp, chewy toffee cookies turned out. I love the Dark Chocolate Almond Lacey Cookies from Trader Joe’s. So when Little Bird insisted we do a mommy-daughter baking project during Baby Bird’s nap yesterday, we tried out this copy cat recipe featuring a honey toffee and orange zest.

We used this recipe from My Jerusalem Kitchen with local honey. We made them exactly as written with a few small changes. I think they taste better than the store-bought. The orange zest and cinnamon add more levels of flavor. The store-bought can be pretty addicting, but these went really quick!

My notes on making Dark Chocolate Almond Lace Cookies:

  1. We used Trader Joe’s Almond Meal in place of the finely chopped almonds. The recipe still worked great and it was a convenient swap.
  2. I baked them on silicone mats instead of parchment paper. Again, worked well and a reusable option.
  3. We made the sandwich version with melted chocolate in the middle. Our yield was a dozen sandwich cookies. I might double the recipe if making to share.
  4. Please use organic citrus anytime you are zesting or otherwise eating peel. p.s. Our orange tree smells AMAZING right now!

Dark Chocolate Almond Lacy Cookie (Trader Joe's Copy Cat Recipe)

Rugelach

First: I’m an aunt again! My baby birds are now “big cousins” to a little girl. Congratulations to my sister, Marjorie, and brother-in-law, Sam!! Now, rugelach… Rugelach is a Jewish cookie made with a cream cheese pastry dough, and rolled with brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon, and anything else you like. These rugelach include chocolate chips.

Rugelach recipe from Baby Birds Farm

This rugelach recipe comes from my mom and has been perfected for over 20 years. For most of those years she has lead the baking for the Jewish Food Festival in Carmel, for which she and a team make 2000+ pieces in small batches each year. When a recipe has been made several hundred times, you know that it is tried and true.

jewish food festival brideHere I am with my dad, circa age 15, in a mock wedding from the era of “Fiddler on the Roof” at the Jewish Food Festival.

Random trivia: My cousin Rachel has had many nicknames over the years, but “Rugelach” is one of the earliest.

This recipe freezes really well. My mom will pre-cut a roll, but leave one layer of the roll intact, so that it stays together as a log. Then you can pull it out, cut the rest of the way,  and bake any time you have a craving. The cookies don’t even have to defrost before baking.

This chocolate chip version is tasty, but I love the simple brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts original the best.

Tried and true rugelach recipe, been perfected over 1,000s of times.

Rugelach
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Jewish
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Like my great-grandmother's matzo ball soup, this recipe was originally published in 1994 in a synagogue cookbook. The rugelach recipe was submitted by Joyce Kurtz, with additional tips by Diana Rosenthal.
Ingredients
  • ½ pound (8 ounces) butter
  • ½ pound (8 ounces) cream cheese
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup walnuts (chopped fine)
  • cinnamon, to taste, or mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and cream cheese and gradually add flour. Roll into a ball and chill overnight.
  2. Divide ball into 2 pieces and roll each into an ⅛ inch oblong. Mix the brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon and liberally spread the mix on the dough. Roll jelly roll fashion.
  3. Cut ¾ inch slices and bake on a silicone mat at 350* for 20 minutes, or until brown and bubbling.
Notes
Nuts chopped fine with a food processor and mini chocolate chips are preferred as bigger chips or nuts will tear the dough when rolling up the logs.

S’mores Baked Alaska

S’mores Baked Alaska is a recreation of a delicious dessert we have had several times at Waypoint Public in North Park. A meringue top is toasted, like a perfect campfire marshmallow, covering a scoop of chocolate ice cream and a crunchy graham cracker crust.

S'mores Baked Alaska recipe

This recipe was also the perfect excuse to try out the blowtorch Papa Bird gave me for Christmas. Being a food blogger, cooking gadgets are always a good call for gifts. As usual, Little Bird helped out on every step, except maybe the blowtorching. The recipe is actually pretty easy. The crust is just graham cracker crumbs with melted butter, pressed into pans. You could make crumbs easily with a food processor, but giving a three-year-old license to whack anything is fun. It’s also a good emotional outlet, as I learned during a school social work internship.

I thought about making something more like homemade marshmallows for the top (like this David Liebowitz pie), and thought I had gelatin leftover from the last time I made pumpkin cheesecake with cranberry gelee, but I was out. I might try marshmallow next time, if I’m feeling ambitious, but a simple meringue totally worked. We topped it like the restaurant with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and graham cracker crumbs. Yum!!

S'mores Baked Alaska recipe from Waypoint Public

Our whole family has always enjoyed Waypoint Public. It is one of the few places with an indoor play area. That’s not McDonald’s. But an actual restaurant with tasty food. In fact, their executive chef, Amanda Baumgarten, was a contestant on Top Chef. Tip: They have a back room for private events. We hosted my sister’s baby shower there in December. All of the staff were very accommodating.

S'mores Baked Alaska
 
Author:
Recipe type: Restaurant Recreation
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 3 4-inch pies
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
This a recreation of a dessert from Waypoint Public restaurant in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego, CA.
Ingredients
  • 8 graham crackers
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups chocolate ice cream, slightly softened
  • 3 egg whites
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar (optional but helps hold peaks)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • chocolate syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Place 8 graham crackers in a gallon-sized zip-lock bag and seal. Use a rolling pin to crush the crackers until they are broken into uniform crumbs. See video above. (Or pulse in a food processor.) Place ½ cup of graham cracker crumbs in a mixing bowl with the melted butter. (Reserve the rest of the crumbs for decorating.) Stir the crumbs and butter until combined and then press into three four-inch tart pans or ramekins. Put the mini pans on a baking sheet and bake for about 6 minutes. Allow to cool completely, but leave on the baking sheet.
  2. Place a scoop of ice cream in each cooled crust. Leave a rim of crust around the edge uncovered. This will allow the meringue to completely surround the ice cream and make a good seal with the crust. Place the baking sheet and pans in the freezer to chill a bit while you make the meringue.
  3. Separate the eggs and place in a clean bowl of a mixer with the vanilla and cream of tartar. Using a wire whisk attachment, beat until soft peaks form. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar a little at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form.
  4. Pipe or spoon the egg white mixture over the ice cream, making sure you bring it all the way down to the edge of the pie. Using a kitchen blowtorch, carefully toast the outside of the meringue.
  5. Decorate with a little chocolate syrup and graham cracker crumbs and eat right away.
Notes
You can refreeze any leftover pies.

 Continue for step-by-step photos and a video of the blowtorch in action. Continue reading

Red Velvet Cake with No Food Coloring

Happy Valentine’s Day! I shared the other day on my mental health blog about loving one’s self. Here I’d like to share one way to love someone special. Bake a cake! And if you are concerned about not feeding your family artificial dyes and ingredients, here’s one way to have your cake and eat it, too. I have made red velvet cupcakes before using beets to color them. This Valentine’s I tried out a red velvet cake with no food coloring.

red velvet cake with no food coloring

Last week I was helping Little Bird with a science kit, and we were learning about acids, bases, and ph. We experimented with adding acidity (in the form of citric acid and vinegar) and baking soda (with is alkaline) to water colored with red cabbage powder. The acid made it more vibrantly red and the base made it more purple. No wonder red velvet has something acidic like lemon juice and/or vinegar in it! It also made me wonder if too much baking powder was the reason the red velvet potato bundt cake I tried to make came out purple/brown. (I love learning more of the science behind baking.)

red velvet cake with no dye

I consider this more a recipe review than a super polished recipe. But I wanted to share none the less. I have only made it one time, and would tweak it some more to make it a little lighter. I used the suggested cream cheese, but found it way too dense, for my preference. I would replace that with buttermilk, and use more eggs. I reduced the sugar by half, in both the cake and the frosting. Next time I might play around with non-refined sweeteners.

Red Velvet Cake with NO Food Coloring

5.0 from 1 reviews
Red Velvet Cake with No Food Coloring
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
 
This recipe makes a dense red velvet cake, colored by beets and without any food coloring or dye.
Ingredients
  • 2 large beets (enough for 1 cup puree)
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese or 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons natural raw cocoa powder
  • 2 recipes cream cheese frosting
Instructions
  1. This recipe is adapted slightly from a post from sophistimom. I did not change her method, so follow the link for the instructions. Here are my notes, however:
  2. Starting with raw beets seems more labor intensive, but my past results using packaged, pre-cooked and peeled beets did not work as well.
  3. My Vitamix did not process the beets well, as it wasn't full enough or liquid enough. My old Kitchen Aid food processor worked great, and I wish I would have started with it from the beginning.
  4. I found it too dense and heavy with the cream cheese. I suggest buttermilk, which I will use next time.
  5. I used 4 eggs as called for in the original recipe. Next time I will increase it to 6. My mom suggested separating the eggs, beating them separately to give it more leavening from the egg whites, and then folding them in.
  6. For the frosting, I made a double batch of my Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, omitting the cinnamon and pumpkin.

Chestnut Tart with Fresh Winter Fruit (GF, Vegan, Low Sugar)

I accepted another cooking challenge from Melissa’s Produce! This box arrived with beautiful winter fruit including Korean pears, mandarin oranges, and red grapes. It also included a package of steamed and peeled chestnuts. I learned making a chestnut bundt cake that prepping chestnuts can be a pain in the butt. But I also learned how delicious chestnut puree can be. I used the same gluten-free cashew/almond crust I made up for a lemon meringue tart (using my meyer lemon curd.) It can be made with butter, but this time I used coconut oil, which inspired me to make the whole tart vegan. Normally I would’ve considered mixing the chestnut puree with some whipped cream, but coconut oil and coconut milk made for a delicious vegan chestnut cream. By sweetening with only a little maple syrup, the whole delicious dessert qualifies as practically health food!

Chestnut Tart with Winter Fruit  (GF/Vegan/Naturally Sweetened)

This post was sponsored by Melissa’s Produce, who supplied the featured ingredients free of charge. Recipe and opinions are my own! The box also included steamed beets, potatoes and a copy of “DYP’s The Perfect Everyday Potato Cookbook.” Among the inspiring recipes was a chocolate potato cake. I experimented with a red velvet potato cake. Unfortunately, it fell far short of being blog worthy. Sometimes I can spin a failure, such as my zucchini bread pudding, but there are also many, many recipes that just don’t make the cut. Being a recipe developer means taking risks. I only share the best of the best recipes — ones I want to make again and hope you might want to try, too.

pressing crust into chestnut tart

Fortunately, this chestnut tart was a keeper! If you, like me, look for opportunities to bring your children into the kitchen, this is also a perfect dessert recipe. This tart crust is simply pressed into the pans. No finicky pastry dough or rolling out. My three-year old enjoyed pressing the dough. She loved decorating the tarts with the fruit, and sampling the fruit as she went along.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chestnut Tart with Fresh Winter Fruit (GF, Vegan, Low Sugar)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: vegan, gluten-free, naturally sweetened
Serves: 5 4" mini tarts or one 11" tart
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
A gluten free almond and cashew crust holds an irresistible chestnut cream. Topped with fresh seasonal fruit. Using only a little maple syrup to sweeten yields a winter decadence you don't have to feel guilty about.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup cashew meal
  • ¼ tsp salt

  • 6.5 oz peeled, steamed chestnuts
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon organic lemon zest

  • 3 cups fresh fruit, such as mandarins, korean pears, grapes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350*. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the melted coconut oil, cashew meal, almond meal and salt. Using your hands, press the mixture into one 11 in tart pan or 5 4 in individual tart pans. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool completely.
  2. In a food processor, mix chestnuts, coconut milk, coconut oil, maple syrup and lemon zest until very smooth. Add additional milk if necessary.
  3. Spoon the chestnut cream into the cooled tart shells and smooth the top. Decorate with fresh fruit. Can be enjoyed immediately or refridgerated up to 3-4 days.
Notes
I like using a food processor better than a blender. Even though I have a fabulous Vitamix, my old kitchen aid processor does a better job with thick and sticky chestnuts.

See what my fellow San Diego Food Bloggers came up with. Continue reading