Homemade Snow Day Donuts

Back when I first started this blog…almost ten months ago (crazy!), I wrote about one of my favorite kid traditions on a snow day. Snow Day Donuts are the donuts that I make just about once a year. I don’t own any fancy donut equipment or even a deep fryer, so these donuts can be made using the things that I have in my own kitchen. Typically on the first snow day of a year when school is cancelled and there is palpable excitement in the air…we play in the snow, drink cocoa, make donuts and share with our friends and neighbors.

Jump to Our Favorite Snow Day Donuts Recipe

A Weird Year

This year, thanks to COVID, the kids are doing virtual school and we aren’t having friends over right now. This would have been one of those easy traditions to by-pass…but the fact that our first big snow landed on the 1st of December was too magical to miss. We mixed up our donut dough, welcomed our Elf on the Shelf, went sledding, ate far too many donuts and fit in our virtual classes for the day. Whew! And I’m glad we kept the tradition alive this year, even if it wasn’t quite the same.

Plan for about 3-4 hours

This donut dough is very good. It is light, airy and easy to work with. It does take time for the dough to rise, and the frying process takes a little extra involvement too. Plan for about 20 minutes to mix up the dough, then a rise of 1-1 1/2 hours. Cutting out the donut shapes takes another 20 minutes and then another hour rise before frying. I usually whip up the dough while the kids are putting on their snow clothes and let it rise for our first venture in the snow. Then I’ll come back in and cut out the shapes with whoever has had enough of the cold for the time being. All the kids come in for frying/topping. I have actually been eyeing a donut recipe that refrigerates the dough overnight, which I think would give an even better-tasting donut. With that said, I never know if we are going to have a snow day…it’s usually not called until the morning of, so those recipes wouldn’t work well for our snow day tradition. Instead we stick with this recipe, our tried and true favorite that is ready to fry when the kids come in from playing in the snow.

Use What You Have

I am a big proponent of using what I have in the kitchen and not buying a new appliance unless I really think I’ll use it a lot. In the case of donuts, I just don’t make them all that often. I typically make donuts about once a year…on the first snow day of the year. So I don’t have a fryer or donut cutters. I’ve found that plastic tops to water bottles work really well for cutting out the center of the donuts. I also use the lid of a canning jar to cut out the donut shape. Round cookie cutters work well too. Just make sure to press down hard.

Donut Holes, Filled Donuts and Apple Fritters

Once the dough is rolled out, it shouldn’t be re-rolled. If you want to make filled donuts, I take a little bit of the dough, roll it up into a ball and let it rise. Once it is fried, we fill them with frosting, jam or any creamy filing you want. When cutting the donuts out, cut as close together as possible to use up all the dough. I use a large cap to cut out donut holes from the scraps of dough, and when there is no more dough to cut out, with just scraps left over, I cut up an apple and make some apple fritters. The process for this is pretty easy:

  1. Break the scraps of dough into small pieces (using a knife or pulling pieces apart with your fingers so there aren’t long stringy pieces).
  2. Dice an apple (I like Granny Smith) and add it to the scraps of dough along with some brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of lemon juice.
  3. Scoop handfuls of the mixture together and squeeze together, forming a ball-like shape.
  4. Set aside to rise a bit.
  5. After you have fried all the donuts, fry the apple fritters (invariably apple pieces will get into the oil).
  6. Cover with glaze after they cool just a bit.

Frying Donuts

I don’t fry very many things and guess what? I don’t use a thermometer to check the temperature of the oil. This goes back to using what I have. Instead I like to heat my oil up to medium heat, throw in a little donut hole and watch it. That donut hole will tell me if my oil is hot enough and ready for my donuts. It will also tell me if I need to turn the temperature up or down a little bit. If the donut hole takes forever to turn brown, turn the heat up. If it browns too quickly, turn it down. The donut hole should sizzle with little bubbles forming around it and take about 30-45 seconds to brown on one side. Once that happens, I know I can start frying my donuts. Donuts take about 2 minutes per side, then flip to cook on the other side. Be careful about adding more oil to your pot or skillet. If you add more oil, it will cool down your oil and you will need to re-heat it to the correct temperature before continuing to fry your donuts.

Glaze and Toppings

My kids’ favorite part of making donuts is the toppings. We set up different glazes and sprinkles and let the kids go to town! I have recipes listed for a traditional glaze, chocolate glaze and a maple glaze. All are wonderful on their own and all are great topped with sprinkles. I’m dreaming of topping the maple donut with crispy bacon, that glaze is so good! However you top them, these donuts are best eaten warm. For donuts that are made the same day…these can’t be beat. I hope you enjoy them on a snow day or any day that calls for a homemade donut.

Snow Day Donuts

The perfect donuts to share with friends on a snow day. Light, airy, fluffy and sweet. These donuts hit the spot with a cup of cocoa and are perfect to pile high with glaze and toppings.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 3 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 30 donuts/fritters

Ingredients
  

Donut Dough

  • 1 3/4 cup milk, warmed to the temperature of baby's bath water
  • 2 Tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup shortening, melted or unsalted butter
  • 5 1/2 – 6 cups all purpose flour

Frying

  • 48 ounces vegetable oil shortening works well here too

Apple Fritters

  • Scraps of Donut Dough
  • 1 Granny Smith apple chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Powdered Sugar Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or milk thinned to your liking
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze

  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted semi-sweet is my favorite
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • pinch of salt

Maple Glaze

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract
  • pinch of salt

Toppings

  • various sprinkles

Instructions
 

Donut Dough

  • Warm the milk (it should be the temperature of a baby's bath water) and pour into a stand mixer. Add the yeast and sugar. Smell for the yeasty smell that tells you your yeast is active.
  • Next add the salt, eggs and melted shortening (make sure it's not too hot so it won't kill the yeast).
  • Add one cup of flour and turn the mixer on. Continue mixing while adding flour a cup at a time until you've added 5 cups of flour total. Reserve the last cup of flour to add as needed.
  • Knead the dough for 8-10 minutes until it is slightly tacky to touch but clears the sides of the bowl. Check out this post for tips on how to know when the dough is ready. Add extra flour as needed (you may need up to 6 cups of flour but you may also be fine with 5 1/2 cups).
  • Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • On a very lightly floured surface (you may not need any flour at all), dump the dough out and roll out until about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Use a circle cutter or the top of a mason jar or bowl to cut out donuts. Cut out a small circle in the center of the donut and transfer to a baking sheet to rise.
  • Cut out donut holes and make apple fritters with the donut scraps if desired (instructions for the apple fritters are in the blog post).
  • Let rise again until puffy and almost doubled in size.

Frying Donuts

  • Heat 48 ounces of oil in a large pot or skillet. Keep the temperature steady and around medium heat.
  • Toss a small donut hole into the oil when you start to see bubbles and watch how long it takes the donut hole to fry. If it starts sizzling, bubbling and takes about 30-45 seconds to brown on one side before flipping it to the other side, your oil is ready to fry donuts in. If you add more oil, that will change the temperature of the oil and you will need to use another "donut hole tester."
  • Fry the donuts a few at a time for about 2 minutes per side until golden brown.
  • Remove donuts from the hot oil onto a baking rack. Let cool for a few minutes before dipping in glaze, toppings and sprinkles. Enjoy warm!

Glazing Donuts

  • For the glaze, melt together the ingredients and whisk together. If the glaze hardens before or during the process, thin out with a bit of water.

Notes

Recipe Notes:
*Donut dough should not be re-rolled to form more donuts. Instead use the scraps to make donut holes or apple fritters.
*Donuts should be glazed after they’ve had a few minutes to cool so the icing doesn’t run right off them.
*Once the donuts are fried, the oil should not be poured down your sink drain. Instead, pour it into a container with a lid and dispose of it in the trash. 
 
Keyword donut, doughnut

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Family Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

I’ve been making these rolls for many, many years every Thanksgiving.

You may be wondering why I am sharing a cinnamon roll recipe right before the week of Thanksgiving. I should be sharing my favorite pie or telling you about this roll recipe that is perfect for your turkey leftovers. But instead, I am waxing poetic about cinnamon rolls. The best cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon rolls that I have been making and perfecting for many, many years. These rolls are tender, fluffy and filled with an ooey gooey cinnamon mixture then topped with a delicious “light on the cream cheese” frosting that is absolutely amazing. These cinnamon rolls are our family favorite and I have been sharing them with family and extended family every year over our Thanksgiving holiday.

Jump to Our Family’s Favorite Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
Missing this view this year! We’ll be back next year 🙂

My extended family has been going to the coast of Oregon for Thanksgiving every year for the past 50 plus years. We enjoy pot-luck style feasting for many days, lots of family time, long walks on the beach and I especially love making new and favorite recipes fit for a crowd. These cinnamon rolls are a part of our family Thanksgiving week every year. I sometimes make these rolls twice during the week…we love them so much. The dough is substantial, yet soft. The middles are gooey but baked through. The icing takes these rolls to a whole new level of glorious cinnamon rolls. Basically, our whole family loves these cinnamon rolls. 

Because of Covid this year, Thanksgiving looks a little different and my little family isn’t going to the Oregon Coast. It’s been a tough year for so many and I’ll be honest and say, writing out this cinnamon roll recipe has been hard but good if that makes sense. It’s hard to know we won’t be there to carry on this tradition this year but also good because I love looking back on the many memories I have of cinnamon rolls shared and consumed for so many years. 

Enough of the walk down memory lane…Let’s get to the details. Here are some of my pro tips for my family’s favorite cinnamon rolls.

The Dough

This dough is a dream to work with. I like to use a stand mixer (affiliate link…but check your local Costco for a good deal if you’re looking for one) or Bosch mixer but you could also make this dough kneading by hand. Just knead for about 10 minutes…until your arms are screaming at you to be done. All the butter and eggs in the dough enrich it, which can make it take longer for this dough to rise. To help combat this issue, I use instant yeast in the dough. This is my favorite yeast (affiliate link). It doesn’t need to be proofed and it helps an enriched dough rise a little more quickly.

Filling Cinnamon Rolls: Cinnamon-Sugar Paste

Throughout the many years of making this recipe, I’ve learned a few tips that have upped my cinnamon roll game. Many cinnamon roll recipes will have you spread butter over the dough and then add the cinnamon sugar mixture on top. Instead, I like to mix together softened or melted butter in a bowl and mix cinnamon, brown sugar and a little bit of flour into the butter. Then I spread the cinnamon-sugar paste over the roll dough. I think this gives a more even flavor and that little extra flour helps keeps the rolls from gaping open when baked. If you want to add nuts or raisins into your rolls, you can add them right on top of the cinnamon-sugar paste and roll them right up. I sometimes top some of the cinnamon rolls with toasted pecans. Yum!

Shaping Our Family Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe makes 12 large cinnamon rolls. I roll out my dough on the counter, spread on the filling and then roll up, pinching the seam together. To cut out the cinnamon rolls, you can use a sharp knife, bench cutter or even dental floss. If you have any wispy cinnamon roll ends, go ahead and tuck them under the roll so they don’t come loose during the bake. I also prefer baking these rolls six or eight to a pan because they rise a lot on the pan and in the oven while baking. I do know that’s not always possible or ideal (especially when I’m doubling this recipe to feed a crowd), so you can cram 12 to a pan if you want, though they may not rise quite as much.

Add A Little Heavy Cream

One other tip that ups the ooey, gooey factor in a cinnamon roll is the addition of warmed heavy cream. I like to take ¼ cup of lightly warmed heavy cream and pour it over the tops of the cinnamon rolls right before baking. You want the cream a little bit warm so it doesn’t impede the rise of the rolls. This little addition keeps the rolls extra tender and gooey, while still being baked through.

Just drizzle the warm cream right over the top of the risen rolls. Yum!

Baking the Cinnamon Rolls

A word of caution on baking the rolls. Ovens all bake differently. Some ovens bake hotter in the back and cooler in the front. If you want an even bake on your rolls, rotate your pan 180 degrees after the first ten minutes of baking. This will keep half of your rolls from getting too dark and the other half being too light. Check the center of one of the cinnamon rolls once the pan is baked to make sure that the middle isn’t raw. Sometimes you need to let them go a minute or two longer just so they are completely baked through.

The Best Cinnamon Roll Frosting

The frosting on these rolls is amazing. There’s no other way to describe it. I’m not a huge fan of overly “cream cheesey” tasting frosting, and the ratios on this icing are just perfection. More butter than cream cheese, all whipped together take these rolls to an ethereal level. I also highly recommend adding in the maple flavoring that really give a unique flavor to the entire cinnamon roll. It is just divine! Whip the frosting until it is thick and creamy. Let the cinnamon rolls cool about 5 minutes before spreading a large dollop on each roll.

How to Make Cinnamon Rolls Ahead of Time: A Few Options

  1. Mix up the dough, fillings and frosting the night before. Stick the dough in the fridge for the first rise and let it rise overnight. The next morning, shape the cinnamon rolls, let rise and bake. This would probably be my first choice if I wanted the freshest cinnamon rolls for a special morning breakfast.
  2. Make and shape the cinnamon rolls. Place them on a sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge. Pull the rolls out the morning of and let them come to room temperature and puff up a bit before baking and frosting. You may have a little bit of leakage from the cinnamon sugar mixture, but they should bake up well and taste delicious.
  3. Make the cinnamon rolls completely without adding the icing on top. Freeze them in ziplock bags. Warm them up and add icing on top when serving.
  4. Make the dough and increase the amount of yeast to 1.5 Tablespoons of yeast. Shape the cinnamon rolls and freeze them immediately. When ready to use, pull them out of the freezer, let them warm up to room temperature and puff up a bit and bake. The freezer can kill off a small amount of yeast in un-baked dough, so you add more to counterbalance this.

Have I convinced you yet? You need these cinnamon rolls in your life. And your family does too. I usually double this recipe to feed a large crowd at our Thanksgiving celebrations. This year I wasn’t planning to make these cinnamon rolls but my kids looked at me with those sad eyes of “too much has been cancelled in the name of COVID” and this mama has a hard time saying no right now, so I made them. And guess what? I am grateful I did. For the memories. For the traditions. For the look on their faces. And for the amazing gooey deliciousness that is sitting in my kitchen right now. I hope you love them too! Enjoy!

Family Favorite Cinnamon Rolls

All the cinnamon-sugar goodness rolled up in a tender, light & fluffy roll and covered in practically perfect icing. These cinnamon rolls are ooey-gooey perfection and our family's favorite treat.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 3 hrs
Course Bread, Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 rolls

Ingredients
  

Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • 2 cups milk warmed (2% or whole milk works best)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon instant yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 1/2 – 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Cinnamon Roll Filling

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter very soft or melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 oz cream cheese softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream or half and half can also substitute milk in a pinch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple extract
  • a pinch of salt

Instructions
 

Cinnamon Roll Dough

  • Warm the milk in the microwave (about 1 1/2 minutes full power) or on the stove. To the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the warmed milk and melted butter. Feel the mixture with your finger (make sure you feel in the center of the milk/butter mixture) and make sure it is not too hot. You want the temperature to feel like a baby's bathwater. If it is too hot, let it cool a bit before proceeding.
  • Add the sugar and instant yeast to the milk/butter mixture. Stir. Look for the yeasty smell that tells you the yeast is activating (should happen within 10-20 seconds) and then proceed with the recipe.
  • Add the eggs, salt and a cup of flour. Turn on the dough hook on in your stand mixer and continue adding the flour a cup at a time until you have added 5 cups of flour. Knead for 1 minute until all the flour is fully incorporated. Check the dough by rolling it into a ball in your fingers to see if you need more flour. If the dough is too sticky to roll into a ball, continue adding flour 1/4 cup at a time, kneading for 1 minute after each addition. This process will make sure you don't over-flour the dough. Once you can pinch off a piece of dough and roll it into a ball with just a little sticky residue on your fingers, you can stop adding flour. Knead for a total of 5-7 minutes.
  • Lightly oil (or spray with cooking spray) a large container and dump the dough in the container. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel and set in a warm place to rise. I like to turn my oven into a "proofing box" with the oven light turned on. This is a nice warm spot for my dough to rise and speeds ups the process a bit. Make sure the oven is NOT turned on during this process.

Cinnamon Filling

  • While the dough rises, make the cinnamon filling.
  • To a small bowl, add the softened or melted butter. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Mix together until fully combined and set aside.

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

  • While the dough rises, whip together the butter and cream cheese until fully mixed and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla extract, maple extract and salt. Whip together using a mixer until light and fluffy. Set aside.

Assembling the Cinnamon Rolls

  • Prepare two half sheet pans (18 by 13 inches) and cover with parchment paper.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, move it from the bowl to a clean space on the counter. The dough will be soft and not overly sticky. Pat the dough out into an approximate 18 by 12 rectangle.
  • Spread the cinnamon filling all over the dough with your fingers, making sure to cover up to the edges of the cinnamon roll.
  • Starting with the dough closest to you, roll up the cinnamon roll and pinch together the seam. Flip the cinnamon roll over, seam side down.
  • Cut the long log of cinnamon roll dough into 12 equal pieces.
  • Place the cinnamon rolls on the parchment paper, six or eight to a pan, leaving plenty of space to rise. Full disclosure, I often cram twelve to one pan, but I think they bake up better and have a better rise if they are placed six or eight to a pan.
  • Cover the rolls again and let rise for thirty minutes to an hour (depending on how warm your kitchen is).

Bake and Enjoy

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Once the rolls have puffed up and almost doubled in size, they are ready for the oven. If you want an extra gooey cinnamon roll, warm up some heavy cream and drizzle it over the top of the cinnamon roll before sticking in the oven. Bake the cinnamon rolls for 10 minutes. Then rotate the pan and bake for another 8-10 minutes until just starting to brown.
  • Check the middle of one of the cinnamon rolls by using a butter knife to pry up a bit of the roll and make sure it is baked to your liking (the center will tell you if it needs more time or is perfectly baked).
  • Let the rolls cool for 5 minutes before covering with frosting.
  • Freeze any extra frosted cinnamon rolls in a ziplock bag. To re-heat, place on a plate and warm in the microwave for 30 seconds (time will vary depending on microwave) and enjoy!
Keyword cinnamon roll

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Erika’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Erika is known for her chocolate chip cookies

My sister, Erika, is known for making chocolate chip cookies. She has baked thousands of these cookies…to rave reviews every time (and she always triples the batch!). This summer I asked her to make them for me and I’ve made them myself a time or two since. If you want a chocolate chip cookie recipe that comes out perfect every time, this is the one. I have made hundreds of batches of chocolate chip cookies and many, many different recipes. Sometimes they turn out great, other times I’m left wondering why they don’t hold their shape. This recipe is basically the quintessential chocolate chip cookie recipe. Perfect shape. Perfect bake. Little bit crispy on the outside with a nice soft and gooey middle and literally you can have one in your hands and belly within 20-30 minutes. 

Jump to Erika’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

So many versions of the perfect chocolate chip cookie are out there. Every person is going to have their own view (or nostalgic memory) of what the perfect chocolate chip cookie is to them. This cookie is my definition of the perfect bake-at-home chocolate chipper. It takes 20-30 minutes TOPS from mixing dough to baking to eating. The chocolate chip cookie holds its shape with just a little bit of crispy edges (not too crispy), but a soft and gooey middle. They are divine eaten warm after a few minute rest, but are also amazing frozen and snacked on straight from the freezer. If this is the kind of cookie you are looking for, look no further than this recipe. 

A Mix of Butter and Shortening

I admit it. For years I have kind of turned my nose up at this cookie…trying to find a better one because I did not want to bake with shortening. The truth is, the shortening is the key to this cookie. The mixture of equal parts butter and shortening (butter flavor or regular shortening is fine) is what helps this cookie hold its shape while increasing the tenderness of the cookie. Baking with shortening decreases the gluten production in the baked good resulting in a tender cookie AND gives you a taller cookie which makes it chewier. Butter on the other hand tends to give a crispier cookie and a richer flavor. All that said, equal parts of shortening and butter mixed together will produce the best homemade chocolate chip cookie. Can you substitute butter for the shortening, you may wonder? You can, but your cookie will be a little more crispy and a little less tender. 

Should I use Convection Bake?

This question deserves its own post. I believe that if you have a convection oven, your cookies should always be baked with the convection setting. Convection ovens have a fan and exhaust system that blow hot air around the food and then take it back out through a vent. This makes food cook more evenly and quickly than normal bake. For cookies this results in the perfect browning, a little bit crispy edges with a gooey middle. You can also cook many pans of cookies at a time in a convection oven and don’t have to worry about moving pans around halfway through the bake. Moral of the story: use it for cookies!

A Few Rules For Convection Bake

If a recipe does not specifically call for convection bake, the rule of thumb when using the convection setting is to reduce the temperature by 25 degrees and bake for a little less time. In this recipe, these cookies bake at 350 degrees convection bake for 9 minutes. If you don’t have a convection oven, that is okay! You can still bake cookies and have them turn out amazing. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees on the standard bake setting (25 degrees higher than on convection bake) and bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes (depending on how well done you like them). They will still taste amazing.

This is an example of cookies on left baked with convection. Cookies on the lower right are baked at the 375 degree temperature. They are a little darker, a little flatter but still delicious. The convection-baked cookies on the upper left look like perfection. If you have convection, use it!

Let the Cookies Rest

Another one of my cookie rules is to let the cookies set up just a bit on the pan after baking before moving them to a counter area. I usually like to give my cookies about 5 minutes resting on the pan to get them set up before moving them. The way the cookies cool helps set their shape. This in no way means you can’t snatch one up and eat a hot-off-the-pan cookie, but for the cookies you want to gift, freeze or eat a little later, give them a few minutes on the pan to set up and your cookie will be perfect. 

How to Freeze and Thaw Cookies

This recipe makes about 36 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie scoop (a favorite medium sized one linked, affiliate), but once the cookies are cooled, they can be frozen. I use a gallon-sized ziplock bag or a large Tupperware to freeze my extra cookies. They thaw well and I’ve even had kids (who am I kidding…I do it too from time to time) eat them slightly frozen from the freezer. You can give them a quick zap in the microwave to thaw or set them out a few hours before you need them, covered with plastic wrap, and they will be perfect. You can also freeze the cookie dough. I like to let the dough thaw before baking, but you can also bake from frozen, just add a minute or two to the bake time.

Does this recipe mean I’m done with searching for chocolate chip cookie recipes? No it doesn’t! I will always try any chocolate chip cookie recipe and keep testing and sampling new ones. But, this recipe is one I will bookmark and keep for the days that I need a quick and perfect chocolate chip cookie. They are so good. I hope you love them too!

Erika’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Quintessential chocolate chip cookies: Perfect shape. Perfect bake. Little bit crispy on the outside with a nice soft and gooey middle and only 20 minutes start to finish.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course cookies, Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 36 cookies

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening butter flavor or regular
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. If you have a convection setting on your oven, use that instead and preheat to 350 degrees with convection.
  • Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, mix together the softened unsalted butter and shortening.
  • Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Mix until light and fluffy, usually a couple minutes.
  • Add the eggs and vanilla extract. Mix again until light and fluffy.
  • To the center of the bowl, add the baking soda, salt and one cup of the flour. Mix gently. Continue adding flour until all the flour is incorporated and mix until just combined. Feel the dough. If it feels too greasy/sticky, add another Tablespoon or two of flour. You want the dough to feel light and fluffy but it should not be overly sticky on your fingers.
  • Add the chocolate chips and mix until just combined.
  • On a parchment-lined baking sheet, drop spoonfuls of cookie dough using a cookie scoop (affiliate link). Each parchment-lined sheet should hold 12 cookies per pan.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees OR bake for 9 minutes using the convection setting until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool on the pan for a few minutes to set up before transferring to the counter to cool. Enjoy!
Keyword chocolate chip cookie

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Sweet Swirled Brioche

I posted one of my favorite brioche recipes a few months ago. It makes amazing, rich brioche. But you know what’s even more decadent? Sweet swirled brioche. Brioche itself is already rich and delicious (hello copious amounts of butter!) but adding a swirl of cinnamon or chocolate takes this brioche over the top. Two of my favorite recipes for the sweet swirl I like to add in my brioche are listed for you below as well as a little tutorial on how to shape the brioche dough.

Jump Directly to Sweet Swirled Brioche Recipes

Cinnamon Swirl or Rich Chocolate…Take Your Pick

If you are looking for a decadent filling for an already decadent brioche, take your pick! Both of these swirl options make a delicious loaf of bread. The first time I made these loaves, they were devoured by hungry kiddos before I could turn around and ask what their favorites were. Needless to say, we liked both the chocolate and cinnamon option. Whenever I make brioche I often double the recipe so I can make different kinds of brioche and usually one or both of these swirl flavors makes an appearance on our kitchen counter.

Cinnamony Swirl Goodness

The cinnamon sugar in this cinnamon swirl bread pairs perfectly for a sweet swirl throughout a tender brioche. I like using a Tablespoon of cinnamon here so you can taste it. There’s nothing worse than cinnamon bread without any cinnamon flavor. The little bit of water in the filling helps the cinnamon sugar mixture adhere to the bread and not come spilling out when the dough is cut and twisted. Don’t leave that out.

Rich, Deep Chocolate Flavor

Alternatively, you can make this chocolate fudge swirl to add to your brioche. It bakes beautifully into the bread and gives a deep chocolate flavor. There’s not much better than slicing into a piece of brioche swirled with chocolate fudge. I love this filling because it is not overtly chocolate and doesn’t overpower the brioche, but works together to make a delicious loaf.

Assembly

Sometimes it’s hard for me to choose which swirl to use. At times like that…I make them both! This brioche recipe makes two loaves of bread which is perfect for one cinnamon bread and one chocolate swirl. Assembly is fairly easy, but can sometimes be a bit messy. Roll the brioche dough out as you would dough for cinnamon rolls. Cover the brioche dough with one of the swirl mixtures and roll back up, cinnamon-roll style. Using a knife, cut the dough down the center to the end of the roll. Twist the two sides around each other forming a beautiful (and somewhat messy) swirled loaf. Check below for a step-by-step guide:

Roll out the Cold Brioche Dough Into a Rectangle

Spread the Swirl Mixture on the Dough

Roll the Dough Up: Cinnamon-Roll Style

Use a Sharp Knife; Leave a Small Space to Keep the Dough Connected and Cut the Center of the Log all the Way Through as Pictured

Twist the Two Strands Around Each Other to Form a Swirl Bread

Place in a Parchment-Lined Loaf Pan

Let Brioche Rise and Bake According to Recipe Directions

Showstopper

This loaf is a showstopper. It makes the most delicious french toast, dipped in an egg mixture and fried in butter of course. Swirled brioche is the perfect gift to take to a friend or neighbor as a thank you or a “just thinking about you” treat. I hope you’ll #sharealoaf with a friend, family or neighbor soon. And keep one for you…just saying. It’s so good.

Cinnamon Swirl

Cinnamon Swirl to add to your favorite brioche dough
Prep Time 5 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon water

Instructions
 

  • Mix together the powdered sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and water in a bowl. It will be a little crumbly. Add a spritz of water to the rectangular-shaped dough and pour on the cinnamon sugar filling. Shape as directed in blog post.

Chocolate Fudge Swirl

Chocolate fudge swirl for your favorite brioche dough
Prep Time 5 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

  • Warm the heavy cream in the microwave or on the stove. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate into the cream and mix to combine. Add the melted butter and mix. Add the flour, vanilla and salt. Stir to combine. Let the mixture cool completely before assembling the brioche.

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Fried Apple Hand Pies

One of our favorite spots to visit, go for lunch and hang out for an afternoon is a local orchard near our home. It has land as far as the eye can see, pick-your-own fruits as the season permits and apple orchards brimming with blossoms and fruit in the fall. They make incredible fried apple hand pies filled with fresh apple (and sometimes strawberry rhubarb, and peach when the season permits). Hot from the fryer and dipped in a sweet sugar glaze, these apple hand pies are always a favorite of anyone who visits. If they make it home, we like to reheat them a little and add a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top for a practically perfect fall treat. 

Jump Directly to the Recipe for Fried Apple Hand Pies

Turning Farm Fresh Apples into Fried Apple Pies

This fall we enjoyed apple picking as a family and decided to try our hand at making our own delicious hand pies thanks to the excess number of apples we picked. Our resulting hand pies may just rival those at our local orchard. These pies are flaky, soft and oozing with delicious apples. The pie crust itself is worthy of a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar and eating plain…yes it’s that good. Eaten warm or left to cool a bit before devouring, these hand pies are just decadent, delicious and worth the calories in every. single. bite. 

Is the Dough Sticky? Don’t Worry!

The dough for these hand pies may start out pretty sticky. Depending on the size of your egg, you may need to add more or less flour to the dough. Once the dough is mixed up, liberally flour your workspace (about ½ cup of flour). Pour the dough on top of the flour mixture and knead a few times (no heavy kneading, but enough to incorporate some of the flour into the dough and keep it from being too sticky). Add more flour as needed. I like to lay down a piece of parchment paper on my workspace and shape the dough on the parchment paper for easy clean-up.

Chilling the Dough

I am not always a super patient baker. I like to test the limits when it comes to my time. With that said, this dough is definitely better if you give it a full hour to chill in the fridge. If you really want to speed up the process, chill it for 20 minutes in the freezer (take it out before it’s frozen), but give it that time to chill. This helps the butter in the dough solidify which gives flakiness to the dough when you fry it. Chilling the dough also makes it easier to roll out and work with as you shape the pies.

Cooking the Apple Mixture is the Key to Bold Flavor

The filling of these apple hand pies is just perfect. I like using a combination of apples for the pie filling, usually one type that is a bit more tart (ie: Granny Smith) and one type that is a little more sweet (we used Gala and Golden Delicious). Cooking the filling down before putting it in the pies is another trick that makes these pies perfect. The apple filling is delicious stirred into oatmeal, crumbled with oats or eaten by the spoonful with a bit of whipped cream (don’t ask me how I know 🙂 ). The apples are peeled and then simmered in a mixture of butter, sugar and spices before adding in flour to thicken it up.

Fry or Bake…or Both?

If you are really going for the real deal fried apple pies…frying is the way to go. I don’t fry pastry very often, but these pies are worth it. If you are a technical baker, you will want to heat your oil to about 375 degrees. I am not very technical sometimes…so I just throw in a small piece of dough and see what it does. If it browns too quickly, I turn down the heat. If it takes a long time to brown, I turn the heat up a bit. Be careful when adding more oil as that will change temperature and you will need to add a little more time for the oil to heat up again. You can also flash fry these pies, giving them about 20 seconds per side and then baking them in the oven the rest of the way. I haven’t tried using an air fryer, though I think that would probably work. Lastly, you could probably bake the pies for an oil-free and “healthier” alternative. I haven’t tried it but I would probably give them about 10 minutes at 350. Let me know in the comments if you go this route.

Shaping the Pies

These hand pies are fun for the whole family to get involved with. We used a bowl to cut out the pie shape, but you could use a large round cookie cutter or make smaller pies with a smaller circle cut-out. My kids love helping shape the hand pies, and the dough is very forgiving for little fingers.

Glaze. Glaze. Glaze.

The last step in making these pies is pouring the glaze over the warm pies and trying to keep all the little fingers away from snatching bites throughout the day. These apple pies are fun for the whole family to make and the reward is delicious! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Fried Apple Hand Pies

Amy
It's apple picking season and these fried apple hand pies are at the top of the list for treats to make in September. Flaky, soft and bursting with apple flavor, these hand pies will rival your local orchard's and are fun for the whole family to make and eat.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 pies

Ingredients
  

Pie Dough

  • 2.5 cups all purpose flour plus more for rolling out/shaping
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup shortening, butter flavor regular
  • 1/2 cup milk see recipe notes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream see recipe notes
  • 2-3 cups vegetable oil for frying see recipe notes

Apple Pie Filling

  • 4 cups chopped apples about 4 apples peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour reserved

Glaze

  • 2.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4-1/3 cup milk more or less depending on how thin you want the glaze to be
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions
 

Apple Pie Filling

  • Peel about 4 medium-sized apples (I love this apple peeler, affiliate link). Chop into small chunks.
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, add the butter, apples, cinnamon nutmeg, sugar, water and salt. Simmer until the apples are softened, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the flour and cook down a little more until a thick filling is formed.
  • Allow the filling to cool to room temperature until ready to use in the hand pies (you can cool quickly in the freezer or fridge if needed). The filling will also last a day or two in the fridge or about 3 months in the freezer.

Hand Pie Dough

  • Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl.
  • Add the butter and shortening to the bowl. Cut in with a pastry cutter (affiliate link) until it looks like a fine crumb.
  • To a liquid measuring cup, mix the milk and heavy cream together. Add an egg and mix until combined.
  • Add the liquid mixture to crumbled butter/flour mixture, a little at a time. Use a fork to fluff the mixture and combine together until it forms a dough. The dough will be a little sticky. Don’t worry!
  • Liberally flour (about ½ cup or more of flour) a piece of parchment paper or workspace. Pour the dough out onto the counter and knead a few times until the dough comes together and is not overly sticky.
  • Pat into a thick rectangle and wrap in parchment paper. Stick in the fridge for at least an hour to chill (you can leave it in the fridge up to 24 hours if you wish).

Hand Pie Assembly

  • Take the chilled dough from the fridge. Liberally flour a counter and roll the dough out on the counter to about ⅛ an inch thick.
  • Press out circles of dough with a large, circular cookie cutter or small bowl. I like to use a bowl around 5 inches wide, so the pie is of a decent size. Continue pressing out circles until you have 12 circles of dough. If you have extra pieces of dough, you can press them together and form a circle with your fingers.
  • To each circle, add about 1-2 Tablespoons of apple pie filling, right in the center of the circle.
  • Wet your finger and lightly rub your wet finger around half of the pie dough. Fold the other half of the dough over (to form a semi-circle) and seal by lightly pressing a fork down on the edges to crimp them closed.
  • Continue with the rest of the dough circles until you have about 12 apple pies.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the glaze: powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth and set aside.

Frying

  • Heat about 3 cups of vegetable oil in a large saucepan* over medium heat until hot (drop a little piece of dough in the oil and watch it to see if it’s ready. If it darkens and browns immediately, turn the heat down. If it stays light, up the heat  a little. You want a medium brown color.
  • Place about 3 apple pies at a time in the pan and fry for 3-4 minutes. Flip over to the other side and fry for an additional 2-3 minutes. If you notice your pies browning too quickly, reduce the temperature and flip over.
  • Cool on a cooling rack.
  • When they are cool enough for you to touch them, dip them in the glaze mixture, covering the entire pie. Put them back on the cooling rack for the icing to solidify.
  • Eat warm, with a scoop of ice cream if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

*You can substitute 1 cup of half-and-half for the heavy cream/milk mixture in the pie dough.
To flash fry: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fry each side for about 20 seconds and then remove the pies and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 5-7 minutes until cooked all the way through. Top with glaze.
You could also use an air fryer or bake these pies. I haven’t tried them that way, but I’m sure they would be delicious. Let me know in the comments if you choose to do this!
Keyword apple pie, fried pie, hand pie

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One Bowl Pumpkin Spice Muffins

You guys. These muffins. They are what I want to serve to a big group of friends (you know, when we can have a big group of people over again). These pumpkin muffins will fill your kitchen with the aroma of pumpkin spice. “Hello Fall! Please come stay and play awhile” is how these muffins welcome the season. They have the perfect sweetness and are filled with all the spices I associate with the leaves changing and the holidays approaching. Not only are these muffins the perfect way to usher in September, they are super simple and only require one bowl!

Jump Directly to the Recipe: One Bowl Pumpkin Spice Muffins

One-Bowl. Easy Peasy.

I have four young kids. That translates to A. LOT. of dirty dishes and a dishwasher run at least once if not twice a day. I basically do everything in my power to not use up “one more bowl” or dish unless absolutely necessary. In an ideal scenario, should I mix the dry ingredients together before adding it to my wet ingredients? I probably should, but you know what? Sometimes you gotta do what is best for your sanity…and to me that is often not dirtying One. More. Bowl. I’ve found that if I add my baking soda, baking powder and salt directly to the center of the liquid mixture in my bowl and mix it in thoroughly before adding my flour, these muffins turn out great. Every time. If you don’t mind dirtying another bowl, go right ahead and mix the dry ingredients together and then the wet ingredients together and then mix the two together. But for me. I’ll be over here mixing in one bowl as long as I can, and these muffins are amazing either way.

Pumpkin Spice Topping

One of the things that makes these muffins stand out is the pumpkin spice topping that is added after they come out of the oven. I got the idea from these cinnamon sugar muffins and thought they would work perfectly on a pumpkin version…and boy was I right. Take your muffin after it has cooled a bit, dip the top in melted butter and then dip it in a pumpkin spice mixture to give a crunch, sweet, over-the-top delicious factor to a pumpkin muffin. My kids love helping dunk the muffins and put the finishing touches on these shortly after they come out of the oven. It’s the perfect activity for little fingers to get busy in the kitchen.

Recipe Doubles and Freezes Well

This recipe for one-bowl pumpkin spice muffins is an easy one to double. With school starting up again, I’m always looking for quick breakfast ideas. I like to make a double batch (then I can use one 15 oz can of pumpkin instead of the half a can this recipe calls for) and freeze them. I let the muffins cool and then place them in a ziplock gallon-sized bag. I’ll pull them out of the freezer one at a time for a quick re-heat in the microwave, or sometimes I’ll add them frozen to my kids lunchboxes, so by lunchtime they have a perfectly moist muffin. Sometimes I’ll omit the sugar topping and we eat them plain. Still delicious. Pick up a can of pumpkin on your next trip to the grocery store and give these easy muffins a whirl. 

One Bowl Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Amy
Fall is in the air with these one-bowl pumpkin muffins topped with pumpkin spice cinnamon sugar.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Servings 18 muffins

Ingredients
  

Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Pumpkin Spice Topping

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon (or a sprinkle) of ginger, nutmeg and cloves

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fill a muffin tin with 18 muffin liners or liberally spray your muffin tin (for no liners).
  • In a bowl, mix together the canned pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil, applesauce and sugar with a fork or spoon. Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves and stir together. 
  • To the center of the bowl, add the baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine.
  • Add the flour and mix together until the flour is just incorporated, doing your best not to over-mix. 
  • Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop batter into each muffin tin. 
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes until the muffins are baked through. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes until ready to handle.
  • Melt ⅓ cup of butter. In a separate bowl mix together the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves (add more or less of the pumpkin spice flavor you like).
  • Dunk the top of each muffin in the melted butter. Then dunk and twist in the pumpkin spice mixture until completely covered. Repeat with the remaining muffins. Enjoy!

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Simple Oatmeal Biscuit Cookies (Gluten-Free)

Have you ever had breakfast cookies? I’m talking the fat, oatmeal-like cookies filled with apple chunks, chocolate chunks or other delicious mix-ins. These cookies remind me of those breakfast cookies from years past in the delicious oatmeal flavor, though they are a little thinner and crispier in texture. Simple oatmeal biscuit cookies are full of oat flavor, perfect on their own or great for a mix in: mini chocolate chips were a big hit. I also like subbing molasses for the maple syrup for a little kick of flavor. I’m planning to bake up a big batch of these when school starts again for a quick breakfast on the go.

Is it a Cookie or a Biscuit?

Grind up oats in a blender until they form a very fine flour

My family loves watching The Great British Baking Show together and we often notice the different terminology used between bakes in the UK verses what we are used to in the US. These cookies are definitely err on the side of a British biscuit which tends to be a little crunchier version of an American cookie, perfect with a cup of tea. Oatmeal Biscuit Cookies are an American version of an English oat biscuit…hence the name: Oatmeal Biscuit Cookie. Whatever you call them, they’re delicious and made with 100% oats…no wheat flour in sight. 

A Few Tips

I prefer this cookie slightly under-baked which gives a little bit softer cookie. The cookie will be a little more crumbly, which is the nature of a 100% oat cookie. It is also delicious with crispy edges and may hold together a little better. Letting the cookie cool completely before eating helps with the crumbs too. 

Gluten-Free, 100% oat cookie

I don’t bake gluten-free all that often, but I do enjoy cooking up some gluten-free treats for my sister whenever we get together. My sister loved these cookies so much when I made them that we even made them twice while we were together. If you are gluten-free and making these cookies, make sure you use gluten-free oats. Some oats can have trace gluten in them depending on where they were processed. The word on the street is that they make amazing cookies to sandwich between a toasted marshmallow and chocolate…bring on the summer Smores!

Very Versatile Cookie

These cookies are a great base for a variety of mix-ins. If you want a breakfast type cookie that would be perfect for kids on their way to school in the mornings, add in some diced, dried fruit. I think currants or cut up Craisins would be delicious. If you are looking for a sweet treat, try adding some mini chocolate chips or drizzling dark chocolate on top. I would even add a little schmear of peanut butter and jam on these as an after-school snack. These cookies would also make a perfect gluten-free pie crust to crumble instead of graham crackers or Oreos. 

Simple Oatmeal Biscuit Cookies

Yield: 20-24 cookies

Time: 10-15 minute mix, 10 minute bake

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups rolled oats (makes 3 cups oat flour, blended)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons almond milk (milk or water can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup (you can substitute molasses or honey as well for a different flavor)
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips, currants, diced up fruit (if desired)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Dump oats into a blender or food processor and process until very fine. 
  3. Add oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Mix together in a bowl or in a food processor.
  4. Cut the butter into small cubes. Using a pastry cutter or a food processor, cut the butter into the oat flour mixture until crumbly and fine. Alternatively you could also grate the cold butter into the flour mixture like this strawberry shortcake recipe.
  5. Add the almond milk and maple syrup. Mix together until a dough forms. Add mini chocolate chips if desired.
  6. Roll about 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Continue until all the dough has been made into cookie balls. Cookies fit about 12 to a baking sheet.
  7. Lightly wet the bottom of a glass (or your hand), and press down on the top of each of the cookie balls so they are lightly flattened.
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan at the 5-6 minute mark.  
  9. Let cookies cool completely before drizzling with chocolate, sandwiching with jam or topping with a toasted marshmallow and chocolate. Of course they are delicious plain too! Enjoy!

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Free-Form Berry Tart

What foods evoke childhood memories for you? Raspberries, blackberries and boysenberries are the berries of my childhood. I would spend hours picking berries from my grandparents’ berry bushes and devour every last one. My mom would make her famous berry pie every Thanksgiving…and often times throughout the year that was the perfect combination of tart and sweet. Now I take my own kids berry picking every summer to carry on these memories and we dream about all the delicious baked goods we want to make as we pick, including this free-form berry tart.

Summertime tradition

For the past few years this berry tart has become a summertime staple around our house. I love taking our freshly-picked berries, simmering them down to the most delicious berry filling and scooping them on top of a simple, buttery, free-form pie crust. It is the perfect kid-friendly recipe as they can help pick the berries, make the pie crust and decorate the tart in whatever way they want. I often double (or 1.5 times) the crust in this recipe so that I can freely give my kids dough to make their own creations with. Then I’m not stressing about not having enough crust to go around.

Flaky, Buttery, Crust

One of the things I love about this tart is the crust. It is flaky, buttery and oh-so-tasty. This crust allows room for error with it’s free-form shape and rustic appearance being baked straight on a sheet pan with parchment paper. Resting the dough in the fridge for an hour after mixing helps solidify the butter and gives a little bit of extra flakiness to this divine crust. It bakes up perfectly around the berry mixture and is golden brown and delicious. Cooking the berries into a beautiful jam-like mixture before baking them into the tart helps condense the flavor and prevent a soggy crust. Just blissful, buttery, crispy edges here.

Berries are at the forefront of late spring/summer in our family and this flaky free-form berry tart is the perfect dessert to enjoy on a summer night. Enjoy!

Free-form Berry Tart

Yield: 1 free-form tart (about 14 by 10 inches)

Time: 25 minute preparation, 1 hour chill, 25 minute bake

Ingredients:

Berry Filling

  • 3-4 cups fresh berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries), washed and hulled
  • ⅓-½  cup granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2-3 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Tablespoon butter

Flaky Tart Crust

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold from the fridge
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Directions:

Berry Filling

  1. Wash the fresh-picked berries and add them to a small saucepan. If you choose to use larger berries, such as strawberries, take off the stems and cut them into halves or quarters. A mixture of berries works well here too.
  2. Over medium-low heat, add the sugar, salt, flour and butter. You can adjust the sugar in the recipe by adding more or less depending on how sweet you like it. The more flour you add, the thicker the berry mixture will be.
  3. Mash the berries with the back of a wooden spoon or use a potato masher if you have one. Simmer over low heat, stirring more as it starts to bubble. Let the mixture come to a boil and continue stirring for a few minutes until it has thickened. 
  4. Take off the heat and cool completely.

Flaky Tart Crust

  1. To a medium-sized bowl, add the flour, sugar and salt. Mix together.
  2. Cut cold butter into small chunks and place them on top of the flour mixture. Alternatively you can grate the butter into the flour mixture like this recipe.
  3. Using a pastry cutter (affiliate link) or two forks, break the butter up into lima bean-sized pieces. You still want to see some small chunks of butter throughout the flour mixture.
  4. Add the cold water and lightly mix together to form a ball. Separate the dough into two equal pieces.
  5. Place the two balls of dough on separate pieces of parchment paper. Gently flatten into a rectangle shape on the parchment paper. Wrap and refrigerate for an hour before assembling the tart.
  6. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  7. Lightly flour two large pieces of parchment paper (large enough to fit on a half sheet baking pan). Transfer a rectangle of dough to each sheet of parchment paper.
  8. Roll the dough into a large rectangular shape on the parchment paper. 
  9. Choose one rectangular shape of dough for the base of the tart and spread the cooled berry mixture on top of the dough. Leave ½ an inch around the edges of the dough.
  10. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, slice the second sheet of dough into strips. Begin by covering the edges of the tart with 4 strips of dough to help hold in the filling. Decorate the tart as you choose using a criss-cross fashion or other design. 
  11. In a small bowl, whisk an egg with a teaspoon of water together. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the top of the tart. Sprinkle with the reserved 1 Tablespoon of sugar.
  12. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing into squares and serving. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Cream Cheese Pie

Over the summer I’ve been visiting my parents home. Due to COVID cancelling all our summer plans, we’ve spent more time visiting, reading, playing games and baking up a storm. I’ve loved perusing through my family cookbooks from generations and have stumbled on some of my favorites from childhood. This chocolate cream cheese pie is one of them. I used to make this pie for company and Sunday dinners. The first bite takes me back. It is very rich, chocolatey and perfect to serve during the summer time because this pie is FROZEN and served cold.

A little disclaimer: 

This pie uses whipped egg whites. Raw, whipped egg white is often used in royal icing and other desserts, so I feel fine using it. If you are concerned about consuming raw egg white, you can try substituting meringue powder (affiliate link) Mix 4 teaspoons meringue powder with 4 Tablespoons water and whip to stiff peaks. Use in place of whipped egg whites in the recipe.

No Bake Recipe

One of the perks of this recipe, especially for summertime is that you don’t need to turn on your oven at all. All you need is four bowls and a mixer. That may sound like a lot, but trust me. It’s worth it! One bowl to make the cookie crust. One bowl to whip the egg whites. One bowl to whip heavy cream. One bowl for the cream cheese mixture. Mix them all together, freeze and voila…the perfect, decadent frozen chocolate pie.

Kid-Friendly 

This recipe is especially easy for kids to make. Crush up the Oreos, mix them with a little butter and press them in the pie pan. Then freeze the crust until the chocolate cream cheese mixture is ready. I give each of my kids a bowl and let them each mix a part of the recipe. Lightly mix together the whipped egg whites, heavy cream and cream cheese mixture and pour it into the pie pan. Super simple. Super delicious. 

Top with Chocolate Shavings

To top the pie we use any favorite bar of chocolate. Get out your vegetable peeler and peel ribbons of chocolate to top the pie. This is especially fun for kids to do. For some reason they seem to like it a lot more than peeling carrots or potatoes…and I don’t blame them. One bite of this pie and it will become a summer tradition for your family too.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Pie

Yield: One 9 inch pie

Time: 30 minute mix, Freeze 6 hours or overnight, 15 minute thaw before serving

Ingredients:

  • 24 Oreo cookies
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or a favorite dark chocolate)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg whites 
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Chocolate bar for shavings 

Directions:

Oreo Cookie Crust

  1. Using a blender or food processor, blend the Oreo cookies until they are finely crushed. If you don’t have a blender, you can put the cookies in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin.
  2. Mix the crushed cookies with the 4 Tablespoons of melted butter.
  3. Grease a 9 inch pie pan and press the cookie mixture into the bottom of the plate, edging it up the sides to form a crust. Place the crust in the freezer until ready to fill.

Chocolate Filling

  1. Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips in a large microwave-safe bowl in 30 second increments, stirring after every time. 
  2. Once chocolate is melted, beat in the brown sugar, softened cream cheese, vanilla extract and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip two egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Stiff peaks form when you pull the beaters out of the egg whites and they stand straight up (see recipe notes at the bottom for using meringue powder instead of egg whites).
  4. In a third bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks are formed. 
  5. Gently stir the whipped egg white into the chocolate mixture. Then fold the whipped cream into the mixture and mix completely. Spread into the chocolate pie crust. 
  6. Using a grater or potato peeler, shave small pieces of chocolate for the top of the pie.  Freeze completely. Let the pie rest for 15 minutes at room temperature before serving. Serve with whipped cream if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes: If you don’t want to use raw egg white, try this recipe using meringue powder (affiliate link): Mix 4 teaspoons meringue powder with 4 Tablespoons water and whip to stiff peaks. Use in place of whipped egg whites.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

My sisters and I all had unconventional weddings. None of us had big fancy wedding receptions or big groups of people in attendance. Instead, we chose small ceremonies surrounded by family and a few close friends. Later we celebrated by inviting friends over for a backyard BBQ that was casual and fun for everyone. This allowed us to save some money (hubby and I traveled around Europe for our honeymoon instead of having a big wedding reception) and enjoy time with good friends to celebrate our marriage. My dad manned the grill, while my mom cut up fruit for salads and I was in charge of all the baked goodies. You better believe that these chocolate chip cookie bars were on the menu!

These cookie bars are a crowd pleaser

Chocolate chip cookie bars are quick and taste amazing. They are a major crowd pleaser and they couldn’t be easier to make. Using melted butter in this recipe means that these cookie bars can come together super fast. These cookies bake up beautifully in a 9 by 13 pan instead of dropping spoonfuls of cookie dough onto a baking sheet. They cut up nicely into smaller squares to serve for a crowd. I’ve also made these ahead of time and frozen them with great success.

Crispy Edges, Gooey Middle

Are you a fan of crispy edges? Or do you choose the bars in the middle of the pan? The gooey middles definitely went first at our latest family gathering, but that didn’t stop the whole pan from being devoured in about 30 minutes flat. These bars are the perfect amount of chewy, gooey and crispy. Basically they have something for everyone to enjoy.

Use a parchment sling for easy cleanup

Do yourself a favor and please use a parchment sling for these bars. Non-stick parchment paper makes these bars so easy to lift out of your baking pan and cut into beautiful pieces. It also makes clean-up a breeze and while I wouldn’t fault anyone for eating these out of a pan with a fork (or fingers), parchment paper makes these bars so much easier to handle.

If you’re anything like me with my sweet tooth, you’ve got to try these gooey chocolate chip cookie bars. They are so delicious and so easy. The hardest part is waiting for the bars to cool!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Yield: One, 9 by 13 pan of cookie bars

Time: 10 minute mix, 30 minute bake

Ingredients:

  • 12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips, semisweet are my favorite but you can use any chocolate chips here

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare a 9 by 13 pan, lining it with a parchment paper sling (check it out here).
  3. In a microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt the butter. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar. Use a fork (or a hand mixer) to mix the sugars and butter together. 
  4. Add vanilla and eggs. Mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
  5. To the center of the bowl add the salt and baking soda. Mix.
  6. Add the flour and mix until combined. 
  7. Mix in the chocolate chips. Spread evenly into the pan.
  8. Bake about 30 minutes until crispy around the edges but still a little gooey in the middle. Let sit for 20 minutes in the pan before lifting out with the parchment paper. Cool before cutting into bars. Enjoy!

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Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Post a photo and tag me @amybakesbread so I can see your bake 🙂