Peanut Butter and Nutella Cookies

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I got this idea for making peanut butter cookies the other day, but not just any old peanut butter cookies I had to put a little sumtin’ sumtin’ in them, so I decided to go with a little hazelnut spread (aka Nutella or in my case the new Jif hazelnut spread) then I had to decide how to make them and I came across two recipes that I based my variation on:

http://pickfreshfoods.com/2013/08/17/peanut-butter-nutella-cookies/

http://www.thesisterscafe.com/2012/07/peanut-butter-nutella-cookies

I give credit where credit is due, I liked the idea of both of these recipes, but I call this Steal the Baking for a reason. In any case, I made these cookies, they were amazeballs. I think you’ll love them if you give them a try. Here’s the recipe:

 

Peanut Butter and Nutella Cookies

 

  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature (1 stick)

  • 2/3 cup peanut butter (chunky or creamy, your choice, I always vote chunky because of texture)

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

  • 1/3 cup of Nutella or similar chocolate hazelnut spread

  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (Greek or whatever flavor you want, I went honey)

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

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Makes about two dozen medium sized cookies.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cream butter and sugars.

3. Add yogurt, peanut butter, egg, vanilla extract, almond extract (optional, maybe this makes too many different nut flavors, I don’t know, do whatever floats your boat) and mix well.

4. In separate bowl mix dry ingredients. In two parts combine with mixture from step 3 above.

5. Spoon dough onto cookie sheet and flatten. Take teaspoon or so of hazelnut spread and drop on top of cookies. Take small amount of cookie dough and cover up the hazelnut spread, completely or not, make these cookies your own. I did not cover completely as you can see in the photos.

6. Bake at for 8-10 minutes or so depending on your taste. Remember it’s always best to undercook them because the residual heat will keep them cooking for a little bit after they’ve been taken out of the oven. I gave my cookies no more than 9 minutes and out they came.

7. Enjoy with your beverage of choice.

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Hope you love these cookies the way everyone who got to try these did, they’re delightful. Please let me know what you think of them.

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S’mores Cupcakes (or Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes With a Graham Cracker Crust)

I’ve been kicking around this idea for quite some time and when I was asked to make a little last minute treat for company, I figured this might be a good time to work on them. So, I did a little bit of research and after looking at multiple recipes I decided a little combination of three simple recipes would help me achieve more or less what I wanted. These are the three recipes I pilfered elements from: Cupcakes Take the Cake –S’mores cupcakes, Annie’s Eats –S’mores cupcakes, Culinary Couture Blog –Chocolate graham cracker cupcakes. A little idea from each went into these to make a very tasty cupcake. My only issue with these was that I didn’t try to make a frosting because it was so last minute, so I used Jet-Puffed marshmallow fluff for a jar and while it gave me the desired (more or less, anyway) flavor, it was not pretty at all. You know, this stuff:

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But, like I said they were good and I didn’t hear any complaints. Forgive me for not having better pictures, but I had a lot of people in the house and all I have is a couple shots of the finished products. Sue me.

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Here comes the recipe:

S’mores Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of graham crackers finely ground
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 generous teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder

For the Graham cracker crust:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of graham crackers
  • 1/3 cup of butter melted
  • 1/4 cup of sugar (I skipped this ingredient, it was sweet enough without it)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grind about 40 graham crackers in food processor to make 3 cups. Split into two portions of 1 and 1/2 cups each. Set one aside for crust.

3. Melt butter in microwave and add 1 and 1/2 of graham crackers (plus sugar if desired) and mix well.

4. Spoon 1 tablespoon of mixture into cupcake liners and tamp down with small glass.

5. Place in oven for 5 minutes. Remove, but maintain oven temperature.

6. Combine flour, ground graham crackers, cocoa powder and baking powder in one bowl. Set aside.

7. Cream butter and sugar. Add one egg and mix well, then add second and continue to mix while adding vanilla.

8. Add flour and graham cracker mixture to creamed butter, alternating with milk and continue mixing until batter has a nice consistency.

9. Spoon mixture into cupcake liners to 3/4 full. Place in oven for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

10. Cover with your marshmallow frosting, small marshmallows, Jet-Puff, etc. If you have any remaining graham crackers from the crust feel free to sprinkle on top.

Enjoy!

Again, I used Jet-Puffed marshmallow crème, which, while it gives you the marshmallow taste you want for s’mores, it doesn’t look pretty because it goes from fluff to sticky marshmallow goo in no time at all. That’s why my cupcakes look the way they do, but I didn’t have many options due to my time constraints and not knowing that the marshmallow crème would just turn into cream. See?:

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The graham cracker crust gave the cupcake a great flavor as well as a little bit of texture. My only issue was that if you weren’t careful it all stayed in the liner. I found this to be easier to eat with a fork than to eat straight from the wrapper, but maybe that’s me. Who knows? But, hey if you want to try making these your own, feel free. I want to see how yours come out. Until next time.

Mexican Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

Sorry for not writing something sooner. I don’t know how many people actually visit to check for updates versus subscribing/following the blog. I don’t get a ton of comments, so it’s tough to tell. In any case, I’m back with something a little different. Shout out to my co-worker May who I was talking to about some other thing and led me to this idea. This will span two posts, as I will post the frosting separately. This recipe is stolen from My Baking Addiction’s – Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes only I passed on the chocolate frosting and decided to go with an horchata frosting instead. The idea stemmed from a summer party I had last year when I made my Mexican chocolate chunk cookies and horchata ice cream. That was a huge hit and when I was thinking of something to bake this week and I thought of Mexican chocolate chocolate cupcakes, but got stuck with what to top them with. I first thought of marshmallow icing, but that’s not how hot chocolate is drank south of the border. I sat on the idea for a day before I wondered if horchata icing existed. Turns out someone created it, so off I went to the store to pick up the necessary ingredients, namely horchata, but at the store I decided to just go ahead and make my own. Anyway, that’s the other recipe which you will find here: Horchata Icing.

Mexican chocolate chocolate cupcakes with horchata icing

Ok, without anymore unnecessary here’s a recipe that I hope you will enjoy: Mexican chocolate chocolate cupcakes.

MEXICAN CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup of oil or 1/2 cup of applesauce 1/2 cup of oil
  • 2 cups of hot water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4 pucks) of Mexican chocolate broken up (See here how to do so)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine all ingredients into large mixing bowl and mix well.

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3. Fill cupcake cups 2/3 of the way with batter. The easiest way to do this evenly  is to scoop from the bottom where the chocolate chunks are and then a little from the top, so that you don’t get a dozen chocolate cupcakes and another dozen with chocolate chunks and not much else.

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4. Bake for 10-15 minutes or something like that, you know the drill, shove a toothpick inside and when it comes out clean they’re ready. Allow to cool before frosting.

Mexican chocolate chocolate cupcakes

5. Eat’em up!

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I ran into a couple of issues with these cupcakes, but I’m not sure which step is at fault, maybe someone out there with more experience could tell me. My cake stuck to the paper more than usual. I’m not sure if it was the Mexican chocolate, the half cup of oil, the cheap baking cups, or even a combination of all of those or none of those.

Mexican chocolate chocolate cupcakes with horchata icing

In any case, I hope you enjoy them with the horchata icing as I would recommend, but do with them what you will. They’re probably pretty good without icing, I wouldn’t know, but I’ll let you tell me below. Until next time, I stole the baking.

Puff Pastry Palmiers

I don’t watch Martha Stewart often. I happened to see one episode , though, at my parents house where she was making palmier cookies out of frozen puff pastry sheets. Having never worked with puff pastry before I thought I’d give it a whirl. These are a lot easier than you would think and pretty good for beginners who want to look better than they are. (I’m looking at myself in the mirror as I type this.)

The reason these are so easy is because you can buy puff pastry sheets ready to go. You will find them in the frozen food section probably somewhere around the frozen pies, at least that’s where my local supermarket stocks them.

This is the Martha Stewart recipe. It’s not terribly detailed, but that wasn’t a big deal since I saw her do it on the TV. They’re fairly self-explanatory, actually. Before you start you should read the directions on the puff pastry box, mine said to leave refrigerated overnight or for a quick thaw leave out for about 40 minutes at room temperature. At that point you can begin working with it.

Puff Pastry Palmiers

  • 1 Box Frozen Puff pastry sheets (My box had two sheets, roughly 8×12)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Place 1/2 cup of sugar on work mat and put your puff pastry sheets over the sugar. Work the sugar on to the underside of puff pastry. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top and roll up each side of puff pastry to meet in the middle. (You probably want to be neater than I was below)

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2. Cover in plastic wrap and freeze for about 20 minutes.

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3. I then cut off the ends to prevent weird shapes into 3/8 slices. Place on parchment paper and flatten with rolling pin or wide end of a chef’s knife. My cookies will not be winning any awards for looking picture perfect. Note: You really want to use parchment paper because the sugar will melt and make a huge mess on your cookie sheet. Learn from my mistakes.

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4. Bake 4-6 minutes at 450 degrees until golden brown on bottom. Flip over and bake for another 2-4 minutes, they will look golden and crispy. All the dough should be baked thoroughly and you shouldn’t see any semi-clear areas in the center.

If you baked your palmiers correctly they should look golden brown and should have expanded to about twice their original size. Enjoy.

Like I said, this is an easy 5-10 minutes of work, but the frozen puff pastry makes it look like they’re that much harder to make. Your friends and family will be impressed by your mad baking skills. You don’t have to admit to them how easy it really is, let them figure it out on their own.

What I learned from this recipe:

  • Don’t worry so much about time if you’re monitoring your cookies closely, if they’re not baking up don’t rush them just because the recipe calls for 4-6 minutes (or whatever the time is). Otherwise your cookies will be the slightest bit smaller than they should or could be. You can see in the topmost photo that mine were slightly undercooked. No one will complain, but if you’re a perfectionist it’ll bother you. The first sheet that goes in will not be as good as the second sheet. And the next time you make these, provided it’s in the near future, those will be even better.

So, pretty simple. Give them a try, one batch makes more than enough for company. You should manage roughly 35-40 palmiers out of the two puff pastry sheets. Share them with friends, share this with friends and thanks for swinging by, stick around and I hope you come back next time.

Banana Oatmeal Bread With Chocolate Chips

I hadn’t planned on baking anything today, that is to say, I didn’t have a recipe picked out already like I might normally. I thought about making a pie because I’ve never made one before and I’ve covered a lot of the basic dessert groups thus far, but I changed my mind when I noticed some very ripe bananas. I knew banana bread would be a great option. It was 105 degrees outside and while I’ve avoided turning on the oven for the past two weeks it turned out that I had four bananas already a funky looking dark brown. Of course, that’s not reflective of what is inside, but try telling that to the kids. They’re not trying to hear it.

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Anyway, I’m a huge fan of banana nut bread. I heart ❤ it so much. So, I decided to go with something a little more traditional and just make a loaf this time around. In looking for a recipe, I happened upon one that had oatmeal, didn’t like that particular one, so did a more specific search for banana oatmeal bread and found exactly what I was looking for on Multiply Delicious, with the caveat that I didn’t have many of the ingredients to make mine all healthy, so I substituted what I did have and that’s what I’m going to show you today.

Not so many pictures this time around, but you’ve seen batter and the like before, you can imagine what it looks like. Not even much of a story, this is straight forward, plain and simple. That being said, I love understated desserts. I don’t need it set on fire, I don’t need it covered and/or smothered in some form of alcoholic beverage, and I don’t need gold flakes or anything fancy really. Just give me the basics because if you’re not doing that right you’re hiding it with unnecessary bells and whistles.

So, here’s a simple recipe for Banana Oatmeal Bread with Chocolate Chips.

Banana Oatmeal Bread with Chocolate Chips

  • 2 Cups flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats (quick oats will work in a pinch)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 cup of ripe bananas, mashed approximately 3 (I used four)
  • 3/4 cup of chocolate chips (optional)
  • Even more optional choose 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/4 cup peanut butter chips or 1/4 walnuts or pecans

1. Take all dry ingredients and mix in bowl. Minus the chocolate chips, of course. At this point you could pretty much begin preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

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2. Put eggs into bowl for light mixing. I used my stand mixer and the paddle attachment. Add melted butter, buttermilk, and bananas and mix.

3. Add your dry ingredients, keep mixing. Add in chocolate chips, mix well.

4. Spray two 9×5 baking dishes/pans with non-stick spray. Pour batter into your baking dishes. Place in oven for 45 to 50 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick comes out nice and clean.

banana oatmeal bread with chocolate chips

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I thought about completely altering this one by using white chocolate, but I wasn’t entirely sure how well the flavors would work. I also contemplated peanut butter chips, which would have gone well. A combination of chocolate and peanut butter would have been great, too, as would have been chocolate and pecans (walnuts are out of the equation because my Misses is allergic), in the end I used what I had in the house. Problem solved, but experimenting in the future is always an option.

This is where I talk about what I learned from making this recipe. Um, this one is pretty straight forward, so I’m having a little difficulty here, but how about this.

  • When placing two baking dishes in the oven at the same time there’s a good chance that your dish will skew towards the back end of the necessary time and may even run over. You might be able to tell from the photo above that the bread came out a touch earlier than it could have and came out, not raw, but a touch dough-y.

This bread goes perfect with cold milk and can be used as a dessert or a breakfast bread of sorts. You could also make muffins out of the batter if you choose. Cut the baking time in half and keep an eye on the muffins so that they don’t overcook.

In summary, if you like banana bread and you’re looking for something to make give this one a shot. My girl absolutely loved it. I hope you do as well. As always, thanks for reading and I hope you share with friends and family.

Chocolate-Cookie Butter Ice Cream

I hadn’t heard of cookie butter until a few months ago when I was first introduced to it by someone on Twitter. Shortly after that I had some in my grubby hands, and, though it’s delicious as all hell, I don’t use it all that much. I’ve seen cookie butter cookie recipes, but try entering that into the Google and see what happens…a bunch of butter cookie recipes show up. I’ll eventually get to one of those, but this time around I wanted to beat the Central California heat (again) with ice cream. For the second week in a row, I’m not baking. I’m sorry, I’m not living up to the title of the ‘blog, but I think you’ll be ok with it once you get a taste of this ice cream.

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Let’s go back for a second to explain a little about cookie butter. Think about what peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter, etc. are and you can imagine what comprises cookie butter. Cookie butter tastes a lot like gingerbread cookies. This particular jar used in my ice cream comes from Trader Joe’s. I made a special trip just to find this as the nearest store to me is roughly an hour away…ok, I went to the one near work, it was still a special trip just for this little jar.

Cookie butter

So, this weeks recipe is adapted from the ice cream recipe book, The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz. Incidentally, I own one book of recipes and this is it, I bought it two years ago and have never used it because I don’t make a ton of ice cream because something is apparently wrong with me. This is from the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Ice Cream recipe with cookie butter substituting for peanut butter…obviously.

Chocolate-Cookie Butter Ice Cream adapted from recipe by David Lebovitz

  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 cup of unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup cookie butter

1. Place half and half, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt into saucepan and whisk away.

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2. Heat to boiling. Stir frequently until it comes to a boil. It will foam up at which point you have about three to five seconds to remove it from the heat or risk it boiling over and making a mess of your stove top. Trust me on this one. Your chocolate may or may not look like mine here. This should take somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10 minutes or so, now you’re done with the stove top.

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3. Add in your cookie butter and whisk away, the heat will melt up the cookie butter easily. At this point I let mine cool off for a few minutes and stirred every couple of minutes to avoid that film that covers the top of anything milky. After a few more minutes you can place in a heat proof/freeze proof container and place it in the freezer giving it a little stir every few. I don’t know if this is at all necessary, for all I know the ice cream maker would take care of all that, but I don’t chance the little clumps in my ice cream, so I cut them off before they even start.

4. Check the directions for your particular ice cream maker and add mixture according to their suggestions. Mix it up and you will eventually get something that resembles ice cream like this:

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5. Work quickly to avoid the melted spots like those in the picture below. It’s just not pretty for picture taking. Freeze in container, I use the disposable/reusable Ziploc containers, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes and enjoy 8 or so hours later, any sooner than that and you’re eating pudding or soft serve.IMG_0152

What I learned from this recipe:

  • You have no idea how easy some ice cream mixtures are to make. This is one of those recipes that takes all of ten minutes worth of work and the rest of the time is spent either waiting for the ice cream maker to do its thing or waiting for it to freeze so you can have at it. Oh, and you will have at it, it’s sooooo good.
  • One quart of ice cream is never, ever, under any circumstances enough. Especially when you make something that’s really good and you’ve got a few sweet tooth’s (sweet teeth?) to satiate.
  • You know what doesn’t photograph well? Ice cream, that’s what.

I’m still thinking of what this would pair up really well with, so if you’ve got an idea please let me know. Maybe it’s time to work on a cookie butter cookie recipe? It’s like the M.C. Escher drawing of the hand drawing the hand.

As always, thanks for reading. If you’re inclined, please share this with friends and family.

Mexican Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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OK, this is sort of a lengthy story that I will try to condense into something a lot shorter and neat. I think it was a year ago that the family went to lunch in Santa Cruz, CA. As we were leaving town and making our way home the other folks we were with decided they wanted some coffee and something sweet. We stopped at a little café and my better half (I always refer to her this way because she’s just better human being than I) got this cookie that was sort of an orange color, she didn’t like it, so she passed it over to me and I thought it was delicious. Some time later I thought to myself, ‘I could probably make something like that’, so I scoured the web for a recipe and sort of struggled to find anything. At that point I figured I’d take the next logical step, which would be to just make a chocolate chip/chunk cookie and replace the chocolate with Mexican chocolate. I did and they were a hit with a particular little visitor, who happened to be coming over this past weekend.

On Saturday ‘mi media naranja’  (that means my half orange…it’s a saying in Spanish akin to better half or other half) got a text from a cousin that was coming over stating they hadn’t left yet and that her son was wondering if I would be making the cookies I made last time. I was going to make cupcakes, but when you get requests they’re hard to ignore, right? So, her son wanted these cookies and I was willing to oblige. Luckily, I had just about everything on hand, well everything except for Mexican Chocolate that hadn’t gone beyond the best by date. If these were for myself I’d take a look at the chocolate and ‘risk’ something only two months beyond said date, but I would never do that to others. The chocolate is only $3-4, so it’s not a terribly expensive endeavor and after you have these cookies you’ll feel they’re well worth the effort of seeking out.

If you’re not familiar with Mexican chocolate it comes in an octagonal shaped brick/puck and is usually found somewhere either with the baking stuff or near the hot chocolate stuff since that’s traditionally what it’s used for. It essentially consists of three ingredients, chocolate, sugar and cinnamon, so if you can’t find it anywhere you could probably just add cinnamon to regular chocolate and get similar results, though how much is out of my scope of knowledge. These are the two brands generally found at the market’s nearest us:

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As you can see one is made by Nestle and features an old lady who resembles Mrs. Doubtfire on the box, the other doesn’t. I used the chocolate on the right for these cookies.

This is what the chocolate looks like, you can see the sugar crystals sticking out and that it’s divided into wedges for portioning out when turning into a drink:

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So, now that we know a little more about the chocolate and my family life let’s go ahead and move on to the recipe, yes?

I set off to look for a nice chocolate chip cookie recipe and found this one, by Dora on AllRecipes.com, with over 4000 reviews and a 4.5 star rating I figured this would be a good one. This is my adaptation of said recipe:

Mexican Chocolate Chunk Cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups Mexican chocolate (4 pucks broken up)
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    First I took a hammer, yes, hammer to the chocolate to break it up into chunks. In the past I would take a can of corn or soup to it, then finish it off with a hand operated food chopper, (Slap Chop, anyone? Yeah, me neither) but that’s not all that efficient, so this time I took a hammer to it and it was much easier. Just be careful please. You might be able to do this with a knife, but that’s a little too dangerous for me because it’s such a thick piece of chocolate. Anyway, I threw four on the floor and pounded them until they were broken up pretty good. [Note: The Ibarra’s chocolate was handy for this because it comes in sealed plastic packaging, the Abuelita’s comes wrapped in a wax paper type package, so bag it up before breaking to avoid a mess.] I then threw it into a measuring cup since I didn’t know how these would measure out. I then threw the chocolate into a Ziploc back and pounded out the chunks that I felt were too big, be careful not to rip the bag. Four pucks were a perfect two cups:

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    By the way, don’t reach your hand into my picture, please. By the way, I use by the way a lot.

    Hammer and chocolate. That should be my logo…or not.

    What you’ll notice when you hammer out the chocolate is that the cinnamon and sugar will start to come out. If you cared about how the cookie looks you could probably take out all the powdery stuff and just drop in the chocolate. I throw it all into the mix.

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Go ahead and cream your butter and sugars together. When that’s done add in your first egg let it mix well and then add the second and keep mixing. Add vanilla and keep mixing.

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    This next step I’d never done prior to this recipe, not sure if this is some trade secret or not, but dissolve your baking soda into hot water and stir into mix. Add your salt. Mix in your flour, I always do so in portions, so as not to make a huge mess. That much I’ve learned from experience. Add chocolate. Note that because the chocolate is in fairly big chunks if using a stand mixer it will struggle trying to mix this, it may sort of kick and buck a little. You could also mix it in by hand if you’re not comfortable with subjecting your mixer to this ‘torture’. Drop your cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for ten minutes.

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    I took my cookies out at exactly 10 minutes because I like them chewy. Leave them in a touch longer if you like them crispy. I just got the OXO medium size cookie scoop from Amazon.com to make uniform cookies and it was my first time using it and it works just as well as advertised.

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    I only noticed this yesterday, but the chunks weren’t as prevalent as I would have liked, but it was pointed out to me that it may have been because I ate it when it was still warm. They don’t stick out much, but they’re there.IMG_0079

    Those look pretty uniform if you ask me.

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    I ate mine warm with a  small scoop of vanilla ice cream. IMG_0086

    When I made these cookies last year I served them with homemade horchata ice cream, but that’s a recipe for another day.

    The cookies went fast and I got lots of compliments from everyone. Let me know what you think.