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34 posts categorized " 07) Cookies, Brownies, Bars, Fudge & Brittle"

06/01/2015

~ GrandMel is Not a Campfire Girl: S'mores Indoors ~

I hate camping. Camping caused me to quit the Girl Scouts in 1965. I was nine. Hiking into the woods, pitching a tent, building a campfire, singing songs, telling ghost stories, sleeping on the ground in a bag with a zipper, gazing at the stars, listening to the crickets, smelling the night air -- I hated it all. All it took was one night in the woods and I quit -- the very next day. I gave my green uniform to my girlfriend Brenda and went AWOL. I did, however, enjoy the s'mores. You don't have to love the lifestyle...... View full recipe for "~ GrandMel is Not a Campfire Girl: S'mores Indoors ~"

05/14/2015

~ It's the Little Things: Homemade Graham Crackers~

A graham cracker dunked into a glass of milk. Said with certainty, once I was removed from my high-chair and placed at the table, this is the first store-bought snack I was allowed to sink my baby teeth into. Then, when I got to kindergarten (back in 1960 there was no such thing as daycare or preschool and kindergarten was limited to a five-hour half-day), one big graham cracker, which each one of us kids carefully cracked into four parts, was the snack the teacher handed out every morning at 10:30AM with our half-pint of milk. After snacks, we got...... View full recipe for "~ It's the Little Things: Homemade Graham Crackers~"

05/08/2015

~Fun with Flour Tortillas: Sugar 'n Cinnamon Snacks~

When I first tasted these easy-to-make sweet snacks, my heart skipped a beat. It was back in the 1970's and leftover, made-from-scratch flour tortillas were cut into strips and deep-fried. When they emerged from the hot oil, all curled up and crunchy and resemblant of Fritos, they were immediately tossed in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. My girlfriend Toni, a Mexican-American, served them with cinnamon ice-cream. "Totopos de azucar con canela" ("sugar and cinnamon chips") are, what I suppose to be the Mexican-American version of what us American grandmothers do with leftover scraps of pie pastry -- we make...... View full recipe for "~Fun with Flour Tortillas: Sugar 'n Cinnamon Snacks~"

04/21/2015

~ Madeleines: 'Hoity-Toity' Shell-Shaped Tea Cakes~

If you ever want to be accused of being hoity-toity (a pretentious show-off), serve some freshly-baked buttery-rich madeleines with tea or coffee as a finish to your next ladies luncheon. Within my small circle of close friends this kind of thing happens all the time. We take it upon ourselves to poke fun at each others talents -- especially after a few cocktails. It keeps us grounded. When lunch is at my house, I am the designated target. "La-tee-da, Melanie made madeleines." Revenge is sweet because the jib-jabs flow both ways. "Mel, these cookies are great." "Barb, they're not cookies,...... View full recipe for "~ Madeleines: 'Hoity-Toity' Shell-Shaped Tea Cakes~"

03/03/2015

~ I've Got Ganache! Gotta make Chocolate Truffles ~

Chocolate truffles. Sigh. I know people who pay big bucks for them. Sigh. I am not of that mindset -- I make my own, and the end 100% justifies the means. Chocolate truffles are the easiest confection you will ever make resulting in the most gratitude and accolades. You got kids? Conduct an experiment. Give them a choice between a chocolate cupcake, a brownie, or, a truffle as an after-school snack. Truffle moms are the best moms -- call it "truffle love"! A sweet treat as an after school snack? Simmer down & read: Save your "don't give your kid...... View full recipe for "~ I've Got Ganache! Gotta make Chocolate Truffles ~"

01/31/2015

~ Sugar 'n Cinnamon Toasted-Pound-Cake Sticks ~

This simply-delicious short-and-sweet, playful post is for anyone who loves cinnamon toast with their coffee or tea in the morning -- just looking at the cute little Domino Sugar 'n Cinnamon container makes me smile. This sweet 'n aromatic powdery concoction, when sprinkled atop a pat or two of sweet cream butter melting over a hot, crispy piece of toast is blissful. My grandmother had a penchant for sweets, sometimes finding ways to make sweet things even sweeter. She had a "sweet tooth". One of the things my she did on occasion was treat a piece of 'Plain Jane' pound...... View full recipe for "~ Sugar 'n Cinnamon Toasted-Pound-Cake Sticks ~"

12/11/2014

~ Baking Basic: Evaporated Milk & Condensed Milk ~

I was just asked a question from a KE reader who said, "I ruined my mother's pumpkin pie recipe at Thanksgiving because I substituted condensed milk for evaporated milk. I'm about to bake some Christmas cookies from one of her recipes, and, while I won't make that mistake twice, I still don't understand what the difference is between the two. Can you quickly explain it to me?" It only takes a taste of each to know they are very different... No kidding around, I thought everyone knew the difference between these two commonly used ingredients -- I remember learning about...... View full recipe for "~ Baking Basic: Evaporated Milk & Condensed Milk ~"

12/09/2014

~ Mel's Happy Valley Meyer Dairy Eggnog Cookies ~

Eggnog -- the traditional and official drink of Christmas and New Years. There is nothing quite like sipping slowly from a punch-cup full of this creamy-rich liquor-laced libation. In many families, making eggnog from scratch is an event. The recipe is often times a well-guarded secret, being passed down from generation to generation. The only egg nog I got to drink as a child were the sips I could sneak out of a jovial adult's punch cup at more than a few neighborhood cocktail parties. Our nextdoor neighbor, Mrs. Rimm, she made great eggnog! A bit about eggnog: References to...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Happy Valley Meyer Dairy Eggnog Cookies ~"

12/01/2014

~ How do you measure up? Dry vs. Liquid Measure ~

'Tis the season for making and baking candies, cookies, cakes and all sorts of sweet treats. Great cooks know that in order to achieve confection perfection, it's imperative to weigh and measure all ingredients precisely -- and this means using the right tools the right way. How many of us have tried to duplicate one of grandma's vintage recipes only to be met with disappointment in the end because grandma measured using "a handful of this" and "a pinch of that". If this was how grandma measured, grandma wasn't a great cook and I don't care how good her food...... View full recipe for "~ How do you measure up? Dry vs. Liquid Measure ~"

08/01/2014

~ Loco for Cocoa: Spicy Chocolate Cherry Cookies ~

This recipe started off back in the 1980's as a simple-to-make but excellent chocolate chocolate-chip drop-cookie recipe. It was so kid-tested and mother approved there was a period in my life when I had it committed to memory. Those were the PTA bake-sale days -- these and a few other cookies of mine (gingersnaps, snickerdoodles and peanut butter cookies) made a few elementary schools quite a few dollars. I remember making 25 dozen of these chocolate cookies for Park Forest Elementary's Thanksgiving play (Jesse, in the 1st grade at the time, played the role of Christopher Columbus and opened the...... View full recipe for "~ Loco for Cocoa: Spicy Chocolate Cherry Cookies ~ "

02/11/2014

~ Hello Dolly! The 5-6-7- Layer 'Magic' Cookie Bar! ~

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, I've decided to share a few retro sweet treat recipes of my youth this week. If you are in your 50's or 60's, you know the ones: those quick and easy to make "back-of--the-box" recipes our moms made for us. It's always fun to take a trip back to kinder, gentler times and you can find my recipes for ~ 'Impossible' Coconut Custard Pie ~ and ~ Pucker Up for: Triple-Lemon Lemon Squares ~ by clicking on the Related Article links below. I was about 9, circa 1964, when my mom started making...... View full recipe for "~ Hello Dolly! The 5-6-7- Layer 'Magic' Cookie Bar! ~"

02/08/2014

~ Pucker Up for: Triple-Lemon Lemon Bars/Squares ~

Call me an eternal sourpuss. Lemonade, lemon sorbet, lemon meringue pie, lemon tart, lemon cheesecake, lemon pound cake, lemon shortbread, etc. Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, these are a few of my favorite things. I am a lover of all things tart and citrusy, and, I consider the lemon the diva of all citrus. I am never without lemons in my refrigerator and pure lemon oil in my pantry, because, like salt, their zest, juice and textureless, bold-flavored oil just makes everything taste better. I'm not a lemon snob either. I prefer the ordinary, tart, supermarket lemon to the "sweet"...... View full recipe for "~ Pucker Up for: Triple-Lemon Lemon Bars/Squares ~ "

12/20/2013

~ "My" No-Fail, Easy-to-Make Sugar Cookie Recipe ~

Just in time for the premiere cookie baking holiday of the year, yesterday, I got an e-mail from a reader living in "sugar cookie purgatory": I'd like to say I was surprised, but, I wasn't. I'm quite adept at baking, and, I'm ok with stating: sugar cookies can be positively persnickity. Taking it one step further: The easiest cookie to screw up is the sugar cookie. While these cookies only contain a few simple ingredients, "things" can and will go wrong quickly, especially if details regarding mixing, refrigerating and rolling this delicate dough are left out of the recipe instructions....... View full recipe for "~ "My" No-Fail, Easy-to-Make Sugar Cookie Recipe ~"

12/17/2013

~ Martin Yan's Wonderful Walnut Cookies a la Mel ~

It's time to get into the Christmas spirit, and, unless you're from a different planet, if you are the family cook, this means cookie baking. My recipe file is full of ethnic and heritage cookie recipes passed down to me from my Eastern European (Russian Orthodox) family, Joe's Italian (Catholic) family, my diverse group of friends, plus, some worldly ones that I've picked up over the years on our travels. Some are quick and easy-to-make, some are time consuming and difficult. Some are big, some are small, all of them are delicious, and: ever since I began this blog in...... View full recipe for "~ Martin Yan's Wonderful Walnut Cookies a la Mel ~"

11/07/2013

~ Flour Facts: All-Purpose, Bread, Cake and Pastry ~

As the holiday season approaches, family bakers everywhere will be purchasing flour to make their signature breads and sweet treats: pies for Thanksiving, cookies for Christmas, cakes for New Years, etc. There are savory ethnic treats too. For example: My family's Eastern European noodles and pirogi, and, Joe's Italian family's pasta and pizza. Savvy bakers with heritage recipes will be purchasing more than one type of flour to accomplish all of these with ease! A well-written recipe will specify the type of flour required to produce the best results, and, I'd rather not bake something than substitute different flour. Why?...... View full recipe for "~ Flour Facts: All-Purpose, Bread, Cake and Pastry ~"

10/13/2013

~ Let's Talk Chocolate: All about Baker's Chocolate ~

Baker's chocolate per se is an unsweetened dark chocolate intended for baking, not eating. On its own, it does not have a pleasant taste (truthfully, it tastes awful), but, when you combine it with ingredients like eggs, sugar, flour and milk, it adds lots of deep, rich chocolaty flavor to all sorts of sweet treats. That being said, when a recipe specifically calls for "Baker's Chocolate", with the "B" being capitalized, the recipe is telling you to use a brand of chocolate that has been used in our kitchens for over 200 years and was invented right here in America!...... View full recipe for "~ Let's Talk Chocolate: All about Baker's Chocolate ~"

07/03/2013

~ Culinary Jewels: Dehydrated Sour ("Pie") Cherries~

I am a fruit lover and I've been baking with dried fruits for as long as I've been baking, which is almost 40 years. I grew up watching my grandmother add dried apricots, dates and raisins to all sorts of Eastern European baked goods. I was a young mom of three small boys when the trail mix craze began. My kids liked the brand that included dried bananas, pineapple and papaya. Back in those pre-internet days, if I wanted to make homemade trail mix for our family, catalog shopping was my source for buying dried fruits and nuts, and, one...... View full recipe for "~ Culinary Jewels: Dehydrated Sour ("Pie") Cherries~"

05/19/2013

~ Three Cookies of Mel's Youth Week -- In Review ~

I rarely write a retrospective blog post. In fact in almost three years of blogging, this is only my third one. If you've been following along this week, I shared three simple, straightforward and special-to-me recipes for "drop cookies": snickerdoodles, ginger snaps and peanut butter. All three of the recipes can be found in Category 7 or by clicking on the Related Article links below! A bit about drop cookies: They are one of the simplest types of cookies to make, and the term refers to cookies made from a relatively soft dough that gets dropped, in uniformly-sized spoonfuls, directly...... View full recipe for "~ Three Cookies of Mel's Youth Week -- In Review ~"

05/17/2013

~My Favorite Salty Cookie is: Chunky Peanut Butter~

"Three cookies of my youth week" here on KE is coming to a close! Sigh. On Monday we made ~ My Favorite Sugar Cookie: The Snickerdoodle ~, then, on Wednesday we made ~ My Favorite Spice-y Cookie is: The Ginger Snap ~. Both recipes can be found in Category 7, and they are from my very 1st cookbook: a bridal shower gift to me 'way back when' in 1974! Snickerdoodles (pictured above) and gingersnaps (pictured here) are referred to as "drop cookies". They are made by dropping uniform sized pieces of dough onto a baking pan. They are not fancy...... View full recipe for "~My Favorite Salty Cookie is: Chunky Peanut Butter~"

05/15/2013

~ My Favorite Spice-y Cookie is: The Ginger Snap ~

Today is part two of "three cookies of my youth" week here on KE. Here in Central PA we're experiencing some unseasonably cold weather, 30-40-degrees (which I dislike), with lots of rain (which I admit we need). I've decided to take advantage of the uncooperative weather, preheat my oven and bake some cookies. Not fancy gourmet cookies either. The kind your mom and grandmom had waiting on the kitchen table with a glass of milk for you and your friends after school. By next week at this time I'll probably be complaining about how hot it is -- there will...... View full recipe for "~ My Favorite Spice-y Cookie is: The Ginger Snap ~ "

05/13/2013

~ My Favorite Sugar Cookie is: The Snickerdoodle ~

Today is a preheat the oven kinda day in my kitchen. We're having a cold snap here in Central PA: frost warnings and 30-40- degree temperatures in mid-May -- what's up with that? Don't ask me why, but while I was clutching my steaming hot cup of coffee this morning, snickerdoodles popped into my foodie head. I haven't posted a cookie recipe in quite a while, and, if the weather isn't going to cooperate, I'm declaring it "three cookies-of-my-youth week" on KE. Nothing's ever as good as it was when you were a kid: What in the wide world of...... View full recipe for "~ My Favorite Sugar Cookie is: The Snickerdoodle ~ "

04/15/2013

~ My Caramel Corn vs. Cracker Jack? No Contest. ~

"Take me out to the ball game, Take me out with the crowd, Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, I don't care if I never get back." NOT SO FAST. I don't like Cracker Jack. I never did. I never will. As a child, even the prize in the box wasn't enough inspiration for me to ask mom or dad to buy me a box. As an adult, I never bought Cracker Jack for my children. Come to think of it, in my lifetime I've never bought any Cracker Jack. Why? I grew up eating freshly made caramel corn...... View full recipe for "~ My Caramel Corn vs. Cracker Jack? No Contest. ~"

12/23/2012

~ Confection Perfection: Teresa's Buckeye Candies ~

The clock is ticking down to Christmas Eve, and, if you find yourself in need of a last-minute, easy-to-prepare sweet-treat that everyone will love, this is the recipe for you. It doesn't require any special equipment, it doesn't have to be baked, and, you probably have the ingredients on-hand in your pantry. My first encounter with buckeye candy (which are little, round peanut butter balls dipped into chocolate) was in the first grade. Mrs. Gordon would make them and bring them into our classroom for birthday parties and holiday celebrations. Us kids loved them. Those were the good old days,...... View full recipe for "~ Confection Perfection: Teresa's Buckeye Candies ~"

02/01/2012

~ Spicy Groundhog Cookies for Punxsutawney Phil ~

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day! Will Phil See His Shadow? Tradition says that if the groundhog sees his shadow on a bright, sunlit day, we're going to have six more weeks of Winter, and, he goes back to his burrow and returns to sleep. If he doesn't see his shadow on a dark, gloomy day, it means Spring is right around the corner, and he stays above ground. If this seems odd, it is worth mentioning that the custom of predicting the weather based on animal behavior dates back at least a thousand years. In more recent American history, it is...... View full recipe for "~ Spicy Groundhog Cookies for Punxsutawney Phil ~"

01/18/2012

~ Melanie's "Original" Secret Signature Macaroons ~

No folks, I am not the inventor of the macaroon, but, neither is anyone else. Food historians say they first appeared around 1533 in an Italian monastery. These crispy cookies were made without flour or yeast, contained egg whites and almonds, and, were flavored with amaretto. My original and authentic American recipe (right up until the moment I will reluctantly push publish on this post tonight) has remained a pretty well-guarded family secret and dates back to my grandmother and her sister. They were both superb bakers and they both loved coconut. My grandmother was known for her large coconut-almond...... View full recipe for "~ Melanie's "Original" Secret Signature Macaroons ~"

01/03/2012

~ The Frozen Hot-Chocolate Popsicle... Decadent! ~

In a few short days our 4 1/2 year old grandson David will be coming for a visit. Needless to say, JoePa and GrandMel are quite excited. Everytime DJ comes for a visit we try to think up fun things for him to do with the both of us, singularly or together. For instance: the last time he was here, JoePa bought him a microscope and we all spent a couple of hours together viewing things like, strands of each others hair, onion skin, and CHEEZ-IT crumbs (David loves his "Cheese-y Crackers"). Later that day, David tried to teach GrandMel...... View full recipe for "~ The Frozen Hot-Chocolate Popsicle... Decadent! ~"

12/21/2011

~ Double-Lemon & Vanilla-Kissed Pizzelle Cookies ~

Pizzelle, which is plural for pizzella, (pronounced with a "ts" sound, like "pizza") are large, thin, embossed wafers that are formed using a special iron. They get their name from the Italian word "pizze", meaning "round and flat". It is said they were born in central Italy and were served to honor important government celebrations and family weddings because they are so beautiful to look at (not to mention delicious). Historically, each family's pizzelle iron was embossed in the center with the family crest or other symbols of specific meaning, which indicated that each cookie was made by hand, and,...... View full recipe for "~ Double-Lemon & Vanilla-Kissed Pizzelle Cookies ~"

12/11/2011

~ Agnes Starosta's Creamy, Dreamy "Killer" Fudge ~

Everyone remembers their very first bite of fudge... that creamy, semi-soft confection made with corn syrup and/or sugar, butter, cream and various flavorings. The most popular fudge flavor, hands-down is chocolate, with peanut butter, maple, butterscotch and vanilla all being strong contenders in the top five. When I was growing up, Agnes Starosta was our next-door neighbor. She loved to bake, and all year long, her sweet treats would make their way over to our house. Every year on Christmas Eve, Agnes joined us for dinner and would grace our dessert table with a plate of her homemade fudge. No...... View full recipe for "~ Agnes Starosta's Creamy, Dreamy "Killer" Fudge ~"

08/24/2011

~ Pucker-Up Lemon & Lavender Shortbread Hearts ~

If you've been following Kitchen Encounters for the past week and a half, you've been reading my favorite "the sun is setting on Summer" seafood recipes. I just couldn't end this series without posting what I happen to believe to be the PERFECT DESSERT for each and every one of these delicious meals, my: Pucker-Up Lemon & Lavender Shortbread Hearts! I am a lover of citrus in general, but I'm downright passionate about lemons. I like to add fresh lemon juice and zest to all sorts of sweet and savory dishes, condiments, and sauces. My own lemon-lovin' recipes for sweet...... View full recipe for "~ Pucker-Up Lemon & Lavender Shortbread Hearts ~"

12/22/2010

~ Toasted Pistachio Pillows (Russian Tea Cakes) ~

The people of Russia have a passion for Russian tea, and the Russian tea-sharing ceremony. Tea in Russia is traditionally served after a meal (unlike the mid-afternoon "tea time" break in Britain or "high tea" in Britain if it gets served in place of the evening meal). Tea was introduced to Russia by the Chinese in the mid-1600's. The Russian people, who for the most part lived in a harsh environment, quickly embraced it because it was storable, soothing and warm, and like most Russian beverages (and foods), they created their own strong, hearty, dark brew, which they sweetened with...... View full recipe for "~ Toasted Pistachio Pillows (Russian Tea Cakes) ~"

12/17/2010

~ Warm Cinnamon-Orange Berry-Blend Sauce ~

It is mid-December here in "Happy Valley" Pennsylania, and this year, it is VERY, VERY, VERY cold outside. They are making snow up on the Tussey Mountain Ski Slope (right behind our house), and, as I write this, I can almost hear the low-level hum of their snow machines, which is actually quite cathartic. Tomorrow morning, while I am making breakfast for Joe and I, Bear Meadows Road will surely be abuzz with vehicles full of skiiers and wannabe skiiers. To be sure, by the end of the day, an ambulance, with its screaming siren, will speed up the road...... View full recipe for "~ Warm Cinnamon-Orange Berry-Blend Sauce ~"

12/16/2010

~ Mexican Chocolate Cinnamon-Orange Brownies ~

If you love chocolate brownies but have never tasted Mexican chocolate or used pure Mexican vanilla extract, you are in for a treat! I won't lie to you, when my chocoholic son Jess was growing up, I did more than my part to keep the Duncan Hines company in business. A couple of boxes of their "chocolate lovers" brownie mix was always in my pantry. I even mastered the art of doctoring them up so they tasted really made-from-scratch, my favorite trick being to add some ground cinnamon and orange extract to the mix. So many people (kids and adults)...... View full recipe for "~ Mexican Chocolate Cinnamon-Orange Brownies ~"

12/12/2010

~ Oatmeal & Savory Dried Sour Cherry Sensations ~

I was either born loving oatmeal cookies or all of the oatmeal cookies I was initially introduced to as a child were spectacular. Our neighbor Ruth Yacobenis always had small crunchy ones in the apothecary-shaped cookie jar in her kitchen. Our other neighbor Agnes Starosta made small chewy ones which she used to decoratively arrange on top of a pretty little dish containing one scoop of vanilla ice cream. My Tettie (my great Aunt Mary) made large flat ones that were crunchy on the outside, chewy in the middle and had dark raisins throughout them. All of the above were...... View full recipe for "~ Oatmeal & Savory Dried Sour Cherry Sensations ~"

12/07/2010

~ Mrs. Prizzi's Cookies (Italian Celebration Cookies) ~

It was the Christmas of 1981. Joe and I were newlyweds and this was my first holiday with Joe's family. Joe's mother and her brother Stan, lived in Jessup, PA (very close to Scranton). "Aunt" Theresa (Uncle Stan's fiancee of 25+ years) served her mother's cookies for dessert. I can only describe these sublime 3"-round confections as: subtly vanilla-flavored, puffy, soft-centered "cookie-cakes", drizzled with a silky-smooth pink-colored vanilla-flavored sugar glaze and topped with a sprinkling of crunchy sugar crystals. I had never tasted anything like them, and after eating at least six, I was disappointed to learn that no formal...... View full recipe for "~ Mrs. Prizzi's Cookies (Italian Celebration Cookies) ~"