hot chocolate bombs.

I made hot chocolate bombs! It was so incredibly difficult and I’m pretty traumatized from the experience. But I made them.

I used this recipe. That’s the one.

Doing any kind of “baking” that involves melting and molding chocolate is like REALLY HARD YOU GUYS. I’m not really sure why I signed myself up for this but I did and once I started I had to finish.

There were enough ingredients in my house to make 6 but only 3 survived. The second half of chocolate chips I tried to melt got messed up and melted wrong and could not be recovered. It was actually really disgusting and made me feel sad about chocolate overall which is something I’ve never felt but I’m not sure how to avoid it next time. So who knows.

The bombs themselves are very fragile and didn’t seal together very well and I propped them up in a ziploc bag and nestled them in a plastic container and then wrapped that in plastic wrap to get them home.

Making hot chocolate bombs is a project for people with more concern and consideration when it comes to attention to detail and also more precise fine motor skills.

Because I do not have any fine motor skills. OR care and consideration for attention to detail.

Tomorrow I will feed these bombs to my family and we’ll see what happens.

i made pie.

Yesterday I made pie and I would like to memorialize it on yet another platform because tiktok and instagram and facebook don’t feel like enough. So here we are.

The last couple of years I have gotten more interested in baking. I started with cookies, and I’ve also made different kinds of dessert breads (banana bread, lemon poppyseed loaf, etc), and of course banana pudding.

But I felt it was now time to conquer pie.

Actually it came to me after we watched a movie called “The Swerve.” The protagonist makes apple pie and the pie-making process was shown in an interesting visual way and I was like, “I want to do that.” Spoiler: Just not with the rat poison.

My boyfriend picked out this recipe for me to make because he is the pie eater of the family, and it was time to get going.

I made homemade crust for this and I will say that I now know why my mom and Grammie were always like, “Pie is a pain in the ass just buy one.” Because this was certainly a pain in the ass.

First of all, you have to mix it in some wacky way with two knives? I’m still not fully sure if I did the right thing but it turned out so I’m okay with it. Apparently there is a special pastry blender that can also do this, maybe I’ll look into that. But for this particular pie-making sesh it was all good old fashioned manual blood, sweat, and tears to get this crust mixed up.

After it’s mixed you flatten it…with your hands because it will stick to a rolling pin and you don’t want to add too much flour. I think.

AND THEN you have to put it in the fridge for 45 mins. This pie crust is diva AF.

Because this is an APPLE pie, I had to PEEL APPLES. Peeling ANYTHING is TERRIFYING to me because the peeler thing is sharp as hell and stuff starts to get slippery and THAT is how PEOPLE GET HURT.

After the trauma of peeling I also had to cut the apples into thin slices and I was frightened of that as well.

Peaches aren’t in season so I had to get some in a jar and I didn’t feel great about that but I drained the syrup and rinsed them off to try to get them as close to real peaches as possible.

You take that crust out of the fridge and put one half in the pie…device? Then you put the fillings in.

The thing that entertained me most is that you just cut butter into small chunks and “sprinkle” it over the filling. Like just chunks of unmelted butter sit on top of this thing as it goes into the oven. Most baked goods have butter but this obvious and visual use of excessive butter staring me right in the face really made me laugh. For whatever reason.

This was a “lattice” pie so it called for a “lattice” design on the top and putting that part together WAS SO INCREDIBLY HARD, YOU GUYS. I had to cut the crust dough into long strips and then weave those strips into each other and I’m sure there’s an expert, easy way to do it but i was just weaving haphazardly and the strips kept breaking and my hands were shaking and it was a mess.

But I got it done and threw it in the oven. Whew.

This pie smelled SO GOOD as it baked. It was a really nice Sunday feeling, to sit on the couch and it was cold outside and to smell that smell. Beautiful stuff.

And the pie TASTES good too! I’m not big into fruit pies but I had to try a piece, and it was DELISH. I also added a bit of habanero pepper to give it a nice little savory spice and I was into that.

In conclusion, MAKING A PIE IS VERY LABOR INTENSIVE. At least it is for a baking novice like me. It was a nice little challenge/learning sesh/mind exercise to keep me busy and fill up a Sunday afternoon, but I can see why most people buy pies for Thanksgiving. Well, most people I know. Because if you’re making all that other food there is 100% not time to make a pie.

So if I ever asked you or even wondered in my head, “Why isn’t there HOMEMADE pie?” or “Why do you buy a crust instead of making it?” I am sorry please forgive me.

xmas cookies.

I spent a big chunk of the last two days making Xmas cookies and I’m going to take a moment to reflect on that.

Making Xmas cookies is pretty hard and I’m very tired and also my back hurts. It’s enjoyable but it’s also very, very hard, you guys. I need to express how hard it is and how tired I am.

It is so hard.

This year I made an actual plan, too. Which should have made it easier. And it did! In years past I was like, “I have ingredients, I will make cookies.” And that was it. I just went for it without much thought.

And I never had enough time. I was always rushing around before my dad came to pick me up like, “HOW ARE THESE COOKIES NOT DONE YET?’ WTF?! WHY IS THIS MY LIFE. I AM A FAILURE.”

But this year…NO! I was a NON-failure.

Cookie level: Expert/Non-failure

Yesterday morning I went for a run because I do that now and while I ran I developed the cookie plan/mantra of “sugar cookies-peanut butter cookie dough-banana pudding-take a break and drink coquito-and watch Prom on Netflix-bake peanut butter cookies-then double chocolate peanut butter cup-then fudge and fudge is so hard-then Russian tea cookies-then sleep.”

So it was laid out. And it was time to begin.

sugar cookies.

Sugar cookies are the only baking thing I’ve mastered so far.

I call the ones I make “Shan’s Sugar” and I think that’s quite nice. I used a star, ornament, and Xmas tree cookie cutter. I got some GOOOOOLD sprinkles at Target and I was pumped AF to sprinkle them.

This is the recipe.

peanut butter cookies.

These cookies are an Xmas tradition in my extended family and I think probably in the extended world.

You make the dough first and then put it in the fridge and wait two hours so in the interim I made banana pudding.

They’re like…pretty simple? But did not turn out. And I was pissed.

So pissed that I woke up early again today and made MORE dough and put it in the fridge for TWO MORE HOURS OF MY LIFE. This second batch came out better so I threw out most of the shitty burned first batch.

Ugh.

banana pudding.

Banana pudding is not an Xmas cookie but I did make it. I made this Paula Deen version of banana pudding for a Friendsgiving in November. IT WAS A HIT. Even though Paula Deen sux.

My boyfriend commanded that I make the banana pudding for him since I wouldn’t be home at our apartment for Xmas so I was forced into it.

JK I loved every minute.

JK I didn’t but I did add Oreos also at his command.

And that was a pretty good idea.

break time.

After not really doing much I had to take a break.

I sipped on some coquito that my boyfriend got off of Instagram and watched The Prom on Netflix.

It was fine. Any musical will charm me as long as there is dancing and fun costumes.

Any coquito will also charm me.

double chocolate pudding peanut Reese’s cookies.

After the break I did bake the peanut butter cookies but as I said they pissed me off so moving right along.

This was my first time making these double chocolate pudding Reese’s cookies and by the time they were done I felt sick from taste testing and also eating raw batter I licked from empty bowls so I haven’t gotten to taste them yet.

It seems like they’ll be delicious! I also had some fun cutting up the special seasonal nutcracker Reese’s because why wouldn’t I?

These cookies were made with dough that was already put together so that was interesting and stuff.

fudge.

Fudge is hard as hell to make and super labor intensive. As a kid I was OBSESSED with Xmas fudge that my Grammie made but I was always thinking, “Why does she ONLY make this at Xmas?!”

BECAUSE MAKING FUDGE SUCKS.

My first attempt at making fudge the regular way was a huge failure, but last year a kind and benevolent client of mine emailed me this recipe. It’s a bit simpler and therefore probably idiot-proof.

So it’s how I make fudge now. And my dad likes it and he is the Fudge Judge for all the world. Believe it.

russian tea cakes.

After I made the fudge I was exhausted and pretty much died so I had to save the Russian tea cakes for this morning.

As a kid the Russian tea cakes were a fav for me. I don’t really know why but I do think that I went through a phase where I was into anything vaguely “Russian” because I was trying to connect with my Eastern European roots. Like I got really excited learning about tzars and shit. Czars?

Anyway, I made these a few years ago and I felt “meh” about how they turned out, but this year I think I did okay!

Well…after the first batch when I didn’t have enough flour in them. I even followed the recipe. I swear I did. But the dough looked suspect and I was right.

Ugh. Trash.

After that, i added more flour and I did okay.

Ready to share!

So that’s my cookie story and I’m sticking to it. I would ask like, “What Xmas cookies do you like to make?” but no one ever answers so I give up.

banana pudding.

Last year we attended a Friendsgiving and our favorite thing there was this banana pudding one of our friends made.

IT WAS INCREDIBLE.

So this year we asked her for the recipe and then I made it.

AND IT WAS EVERY BIT AS INCREDIBLE.

It’s a Paula Deen recipe and I realize that’s problematic and I’m sorry. But it’s also a very good recipe so we can just pretend my friend actually made it up and forget about Paula altogether.

Paula who?

Exactly.

This recipe starts with a foundation of Chessmen cookies. These are holiday Chessmen and I didn’t realize it until I got them home and I feel really silly about it but they taste the same.

Then you make a layer of bananas. Because this is banana pudding.

Then you mix up vanilla pudding mix and milk and condensed milk and maybe something else I forgot.

Oh! There was cream cheese involved too.

CURVEBALLS – I used one packet of French vanilla and one packet of banana cream pudding and I was pleased with the results. Also, I used vanilla almond milk as the milk and it tasted great. According to me.

Once that stuff is mixed you have to “fold” in some Cool Whip.

First of all, I had no idea how to thaw Cool Whip in a reasonable amount of time and I felt all was lost and I wasn’t going to be able to make this recipe and I totally panicked. But I googled it and you can thaw Cool Whip in a bowl of room temperature water and it only takes like 30mins.

Oh.

Second, I had to figure out how to “fold” the Cool Whip into the rest of the mixture. After some reading and searching I came to the answer that “folding” is “gently mixing” and I think they could have just said that. Either way I learned a new baking skill!

Before “folding in” the cool whip.

You put that pudding on top of the bananas, then more chessmen on the top, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

This stuff turned out so good and it was so easy. That sounds obnoxious but I feel it’s necessary to tell the truth here. And the truth is, it was life changing.

oatmeal raisin cookies for my boyfriend.

Raisins are the proven enemy but this weekend I was kind and generous enough to make oatmeal raisin cookies for my boyfriend. He better be grateful.

Oatmeal raisin cookies for my boyfriend on drying rack

I used this recipe to make the cookies with the following caveats:

  1. I was out of vanilla extract. They seemed to be implying that some kind of INTENSE EXTRACT flav was necessary for these puppies to really kill it, so I used 1/2 tsp of almond extract instead.
  2. I used an extra 1/2 cup of white sugar, which is standard for my baking recipes because we like things extra sweet in this family.
  3. My boyfriend made a rum-infused butter so I used 1/2 cup of that and 1/2 cup of regular unsalted butter.
  4. I baked the first batch for 8 mins and they got darker than I like, so I baked the rest for 7 minutes instead!
Oatmeal raisin cookies for my boyfriend on drying rack next to cookie jar that says "oatmeal rum raisin" in chalk

Here is the recipe, for your information:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  1. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in oats. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into walnut sized balls, and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie with a large fork dipped in sugar.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

If you’d like to make oatmeal raisin cookies for my boyfriend, please keep in mind that this particular recipe requires at least an hour of chill time between the mixing of the dough and the baking of the cookies. Unfortunately this couldn’t be used as “Netflix and chill” time because while I was making oatmeal raisin cookies for my boyfriend my boyfriend was at work.

Oatmeal raisin cookies for my boyfriend on drying rack

The nerve of some people.

Oatmeal raisin cookies for my boyfriend on drying rack
Oatmeal raisin cookies for my boyfriend on drying rack ON TOP OF cool kitchen cart i got as Xmas gift
But srsly check out this cool kitchen cart my boyfriend got me for Xmas it’s perfect for cookie cooling!

What’s your fav oatmeal raisin cookie recipe? I hate raisins so I prob won’t make them a lot but maybe one or two more versions to try would be fun.

foolproof sugar cookies recipe.

I have a foolproof sugar cookies recipe for you. I have been provided with firsthand accounts from various people in various walks of life that these are the best sugar cookies they have ever had. They are unable to keep themselves from eating a second or third if they have them in their home or office and will quite possibly eat foolproof sugar cookies until they have a stomachache.

It can’t be helped.

Foolproof sugar cookies in the morning sunlight.

Recipe first, BECAUSE IT IS ANNOYING AS HELL WHEN THE STORY BULLSHIT IS FIRST AND YOU HAVE TO SCROLL FOR THREE HOURS TO GET TO THE RECIPE.

Shan’s Sugar (foolproof sugar cookies recipe):

Ingredients.

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup sugar

1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 large fresh egg from a Golden Comet chicken (or just a large brown egg if you don’t have access to a Golden Comet chicken, as I do).

1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

How to make.

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Bust out some cookie sheets and some parchment paper and line the cookie sheets with it. You’ll never have to clean the cookie sheets again.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; set aside.
  3. Place sugar and cold butter into bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed until well combined. Add Golden Comet (large brown) egg, vanilla and almond extract; beat until well mixed. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until just combined. The gradual addition of the flour is important because if you add too much too fast it starts to get weird. As in too dry.
  4. Often I don’t even add the whole 3 cup of the dry mixture, I will keep an eye as it mixes and once it seems dry enough but not TOO dry, I will take it out of the mixing bowl and get moving with the next step. This makes the cookies super sweet and soft because unnecessary flour isn’t weighing them down and ruining their lives with its nefarious blandness.
  5. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness and cut into shapes with 2 1/2-inch cookie cutter. OR, and this is what I do more often and prefer, grab dough and roll into 1.5 ish inches in diameter balls, put them on cookie sheet about 2 inches apart, then flatten into cookie shape with the palm of your hand. Then add sprinkles! It takes way less time to do it the balls way you guys.
  6. Place onto cookie sheets. Bake 8 minutes or until just beginning to brown around edges. Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes; remove to cooling rack. Speaking of cooling racks I really need more cooling racks. Let them cool completely, then immediately add to an airtight container, this will help retain the softness!

AND BOOM. THAT’S THE FOOLPROOF SUGAR COOKIES RECIPE.

For credit where credit is due, this is mostly pilfered from this recipe from Land O’Lakes. After a few times making these cookies and sticking exactly to this recipe, I added an extra half cup of sugar, watched while I gradually added the flour mixture and then didn’t add it all, and then started always baking them for precisely 8 minutes. And all of these changes made them foolproof sugar cookies.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

The story.

I didn’t bake until a little over a year ago because it seemed like a scary science experiment that I would mess up. And it is. These cookies are the only actually really consistently good thing I’m able to make.

My pal that got me interested in baking when she let me use her adorable pink Kitchen Aid (woo!), also gave me an awesome Tillie cookie cutter for my housewarming party!

Photo of Tillie mural in Asbury Park.
Tillie, not the cookie cutter.

I am attending a Friendsgiving later today and I baked some standard Shan’s Sugar cookies for it! But I also wanted to bust out this Tillie cookie cutter for the first time and see what I could do.

I went to Michael’s on 6th Ave the other day on my lunch break and got icing, edible markers, and candy eyes to try to add the elements of Tillie that were missing from just the silhouette of the cookie cutter.

The cookie cutter worked GREAT! I’ve encountered some that have smaller details that seem too small because the dough keeps getting caught and messes up the shape of the cookie and I have to start again and I become outraged. But this one was able to cut out the funny turn up of Tillie’s hair on both sides, and the shape of the cookie still survived and didn’t get stuck in the cutter.

The edible markers DID NOT WORK. They were too dry to make a mark on the cookies. Maybe you were supposed to do them before you baked? But that wouldn’t make sense. I really don’t know, besides that they DIDN’T WORK.

The markers sucked. 🙁

The eyes worked fine. I love putting eyes on anything, it’s a real delight, so I think they look fab. Not sure how they’ll taste but I prob wouldn’t eat them anyway, they’re just for lewks. Icing was just to attach the eyes and it did the job.

The eyes are the only good part.

I’m disapointed in the edible markers though! I wanted something I had more control over adding color with, because I don’t have a steady hand. I think I would have a hard time using icing to add color to these cookies but I guess now I have to try. Because this looks like a creepy Pinterest fail and I am sorry.

Uhhhh…creepy.

At least everyone at the Friendsgiving should be familiar with Asbury Park and New Jersey in general so they should get the Tillie reference. I hope.

Do you have a favorite thing you like to bake that you feel like you’re really good at? Do you hate baking? Do you hate or love sugar cookies? What about foolproof sugar cookies? What about…Tillie?