Tag Archives: dessert recipes

Ginger Spice Pumpkin Thumbprint Cookies & The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

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box of cookiesDesserts pretty much make the holidays for me. I know that sounds lame, but as a Jew and a foodie, there isn’t a ton to look forward to. We don’t have a big Christmas dinner or cookies for Santa, and there is no sipping eggnog by the tree. For me, the reason I love the holidays is the food. Eating lakes with friends, Chinese food with family and baking an insane amount of dessert for my coworkers.

So this year, I decided to get in on the holiday spirit on my own, and when I came across The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I knew I had to participate. Here’s the fun part: each food blogger participant bakes 3 dozen cookies and ships them to 3 other bloggers they are paired with, also receiving 3 dozen different cookies back. Here’s the amazing part: each blogger donates $4 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and OXO matches the donation dollar for dollar. As it turns out, getting 3 dozen cookies in adorable Christmas boxes in the mail is also pretty amazing.

The easy part was done. Next came the real decision: what type of cookies to make. It’s pretty apparent from my blog that I’m not one to do anything traditional when it comes to food. I needed something seasonal and not too complicated. I also needed a cookie that could hold up for a few days in the mail. As much as I love to fill things with cream cheese frosting, that was out.

Then it came to me. Gingersnaps! I am a ginger myself, and I love all things flavored with ginger. My fantasy football team even goes by the same name. Somehow, I had never made  a single gingersnap cookie. You can only imagine how much that has changed since I got my hands on some molasses a few weeks ago – the single ingredient standing between me and a lifetime full of gingersnaps.

The recipe I ended up developing wasn’t technically a gingersnap because they really have no snap like the traditional cookie. They turned out with a deliciously chewy interior. And even though they turned out much flatter than a traditional thumbprint cookie, I think they still held the pumpkin filling pretty well. If you want to leave out the filling, I’m sure they would still be (almost) just as delicious.

ginger spice cookiesGinger Spice Pumpkin Thumbprint Cookies
Makes 3 dozen (exactly!)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 stick butter
  • Turbinado sugar (for rolling the cookies in)

Pumpkin Filling:

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  1. Cream together butter for dough and sugars in a stand mixer or with your hand mixer.
  2. Then, add in your molasses and egg.
  3. In a separate bowl combine your flour, spices, salt and baking soda.
  4. Gradually add in wet ingredients to dry until well-incorporated.
  5. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.
  6. Meanwhile, make your filling. Mix together the pumpkin and powdered sugar.
  7. Cream in your butter to the mixture, and then add in your spice.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  9. Roll out dough into small, evenly sized balls.
  10. Then, roll each in turbinado sugar until covered all around.
  11. Push down in the top of the ball with your thumb, creating a small well for the filling. Carefully fill the hole with the pumpkin mixture.
  12. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned and thoroughly cooked in the center.

Cool, and then enjoy!

boxesThe three lucky bloggers who received my cookies were Leila of Belly., Rachel of La Pêche Fraîche and Hannah of FleurDeLicious. I mean, I hope they thought they were lucky. I packed a dozen into each of these adorable boxes, and then in a sugar-induced haze attempted to mail them via USPS priority mail. Like many twenty-somethings, I become very frazzled when I step inside a post office and didn’t know how to handle the flat-rate box/bubble wrap/packing tape situation. So I really just threw them in there and hoped for the best.

I spent all of my money, integrity and patience at the post office, and I wasn’t so sure if the experience would be worth it in the end. But once I saw that first box at my doorstep, I realized how wrong I had been. Getting a package in the mail is one of the greatest feelings. It’s like the feeling you have when you get junk email in your inbox, but the complete opposite. Check out what I got in the mail.

ginger bread man

 

 

 

Chai-Spice Gingerbread Men from Rachel of Passing Daisies

These were actually addicting. Soft on the inside and a great crunch on the outside from the sugar. I ate six basically in one sitting and then I had to remove them from my apartment. It was a dangerous business.

 

 

chocolate cherry cookies

 

 

Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies from Emilie of Scarborough Food Fair

I was absolutely obsessed with the box that these cookies came in. Like so adorable I almost didn’t want to open it. But then I did. I also loved doing this swap because I found some amazing new blogs to read! I loved the mac ‘n cheese bites she made recently.

 

 

 

crinkle cookies

 

 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies from Courtney Fos

Last but not least were these chocolate crinkle cookies. They looked just like Christmas! They were also in an adorable looking box that I completely tore open. Courtney shares such inspiring stories on her blog about her family, and I loved reading her weekly menus.

 

 

 

 

 

I loved participating in this cookie swap, and not only for the cookies I received. It was great hearing from the bloggers around the country who got boxes of my cookies. And most of all, it’s going to be great finding out how much money OXO is donating this year. I think I have a few weeks off before my holiday baking starts, and my biggest goal is to not eat 3 dozen cookies by then. Is that called a diet?

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On Thanksgiving

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I had quite a bit of writer’s block while trying to start this post. It isn’t because I don’t have anything to say about Thanksgiving. And it isn’t because I have a different favorite holiday. It’s because this one day means so much to me that it’s hard to put it into words.

Growing up, I always looked forward to Thanksgiving because in my family it was a holiday of such tradition. Both sides of my family got together at my parents’ house for one very long meal filled with what felt like unlimited appetizers, an impressive spread for the meal and then a dessert course to make any restaurant menu shudder with jealousy. My mom would fold the napkins at each place setting accordion style  (see picture) weeks before the big day. We generally used plastic plates and got our food buffet style, but the fancy napkins were always key. She wouldn’t fold them that way for any other holiday because – for whatever reason – that specific folding style was special for Thanksgiving.

My grandma would carefully carve the turkey before guests arrived so it was easier for serving. Aunt Sheryl would make her famous stuffing (and slip me an extra-large piece wrapped in foil to save since she knew I loved it so much). Aunt Caryn made her classic green bean casserole. And my other grandma, mentioned in #2 of this post, would bring a giant fruit tray.

I have memories of cutting off hunks of warm brie in puff pastry, oozing out of the shell with jam, and devouring it with greasy fingers. My cousins and I were drunk on sparkling apple cider – or maybe it was the excessive food that made us a little loopy. We’d pile our plates high, eat as much as possible and then retire to my room for our traditional Thanksgiving showing of the movie we watched every year (I will not name it since I’m embarrassed it received a 31% on Rotten Tomatoes). Swearing we would never eat again, we’d laugh at the terrible movie, which has some really famous actors in it by the way. And then we’d hear a call for dessert and go running downstairs as fast as our turkey-laden bodies could carry us.

Today, it isn’t so different. But then again, it really is. I can expect the baked brie, among other appetizers. Sheryl still makes her stuffing, and Caryn does the green bean casserole. Of course my grandma brings the fruit tray, and we still watch that terrible movie (on VHS, no less). And the fancy folded napkins will forever be a staple – that picture was taken just last weekend. But my other grandma passed away a few months ago, so there isn’t anyone to carve the turkey. Or tell me that something I made is too spicy. Or ask for a “tiny piece of everything” from our giant dessert table.

It isn’t going to be the same this year. And part of me feels like she would’ve been okay with that. I’ve sort of started to take over Thanksgiving as my holiday. Each year, I’ve taken on more and more dishes, and my family has given me more freedom to make what I want. At first, my mom was nervous to try anything non-traditional because she thought the picky eaters wouldn’t eat anything. As it turns out, my family is more adventurous than we give them credit for. The spinach artichoke dip will forever be a staple appetizer now, and the brussel sprouts I made last year are being repeated this year. I’m also contributing mushroom and caramelized onion appetizer bites, orange cranberry sauce, creamed spinach and parsnips, a vegetarian mediterranean salad, a raspberry & lemon curd tart and a dark chocolate & salted caramel pie.

As I was chopping onions, roasting vegetables and stirring my lemon curd, I couldn’t help but think what my grandma would’ve thought of everything I was cooking. She was definitely a traditional woman, yet she always told stories of creating new recipes (mock cheese cake…still not sure what that one is) and being adventurous in the kitchen. I know that I get that trait from her. Most of the recipes I’m making this year are new, and I love trying out different dishes on my family each year. I thought Beverly would have particularly liked the salted caramel pie. She was pretty salty herself, although she did have a soft spot for sweets. I haven’t bit into the pie yet, and I’m already getting the feeling I’ll need to share this recipe.

Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
Adapted from Food & Wine

  • About 2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (should be 1 1/2 sleeves of crackers)
  • 8 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • Two 14 oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate
  • Kosher salt or fleur de sel
  • Optional: 2 cups heavy cream and 2 tbsp confectioners sugar

**Note: This makes one deep dish 9 1/2″ pie. For a regular crust, just decrease the amount of crust you’re making.

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Pour your sweetened condensed milk into a 8×8 baking dish and sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp of the salt. Cover tightly with foil.
  2. Put that baking dish into a 9×13, and fill about 1/2 full with warm water, or until it is as high as your milk goes. FYI, there are other ways to make dulce de leche. Check them out here > 
  3. Bake until the milk has thickened, which will take 2-2 1/2 hours. Every 20 minutes, stir and carefully add more water to the bath. It might get a little lumpy, but that’s okay.
  4. When it is done – and it will thicken more upon standing – remove from oven and turn oven down to 350 degrees.
  5. Crush your graham crackers in a food processor for a uniform consistency. Add in your sugar and vanilla. Press down onto pie pan so that crust is evenly distributed.
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  7. In a double boiler, melt your chocolate until smooth. Pour evenly onto the pie crust. Let sit, and then refrigerate to cool.
  8. If you want to top with whipped cream, just whip together your cream and sugar until light and fluffy.
  9. Once your pie has cooled, pour in your caramel. Note that if you refrigerate it, it will set. You can microwave for a few minutes to make it more fluid.
  10. Top with a bit of the salt, and spread with whipped cream if you want. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

This Thanksgiving, we’re drinking wine instead of cider, enjoying my aunt’s homemade bread and skipping the store-bought appetizers at my request. I don’t know who will be carving the turkey; I know there will be one. And I don’t know about you, but I’ll be camped out at the dessert table waiting for some salted caramel pie.