Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies w Skor Bits

When we were little my brother Murtaza decided that we need to eat peanut butter. It was hardly a staple in our Pakistanis-in-Saudi Arabia household, but my parents promptly obliged by buying an imported jar of the stuff. We tried it and all of us unanimously thought it sucked. My mother then tried the back of the jar cookie recipe for peanut butter cookies, but with no success. Not for a lack of talent mind you, my mother was quite the baker. We just didn’t like peanut butter.

Somehow I went from being that kid to the adult who eats it off a spoon as a snack, whose kids do the same, who doesn’t believe in peanut butter and jelly because it gets in the way of the peanut buttery goodness and who can’t say no to a peanut butter cookie. How did this happen? Beats me.

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies

When I recently acquired Tara O’Bradys Seven Spoons cookbook I marked a whole variety of things to try, but a late afternoon craving had me turning to her Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies first. Whole Wheat Flour, Natural Peanut Butter, 2 tbsp honey, I didn’t think that these changes off the usual would make such a difference, but suddenly it was like I was eating a cookie that had grown up. It is less cloyingly sweet than previous ones, but has a deeper flavour. I added 1/3 cup of skor bits and while they weren’t noticeable in a warm cookie, they definitely added interest to cooled ones.

As you can see my cookies were slim at best despite the freezing and I blame that on my overfull freezer. I am sure if you follow the freezing instructions yours won’t be so slender. They are in their thin form the perfect candidate for a filling. Strawberry Jam, Dulce de leche, vanilla cream, or perhaps a dollop of Nutella with a little Sea Salt?

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies

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My Favorite Sugar Cookie – Cream Cheese Cut-Out Cookies

Decorated sugar cookies are so pretty aren’t they? I frequently see them in bakeries and cafes. The pretty colors and designs always make my older girl ooh and aah then beg and plead and most of the time she winds up not liking them. I can’t blame her because neither do I. Then a few years ago I discovered this cookie. This cookie has real bona fide flavor. People like it even without the icing and that says a lot.

My Favorite Sugar Cookie - Cream Cheese Cut Out Cookies

My Favorite Sugar Cookie - Cream Cheese Cut Out Cookies

There are two things that make this cookie a little extra special – one the inclusion of cream cheese and the second the few drops of almond extract which give it a fresh undertone without it tasting overtly like almonds. Mind you, I don’t always use the extract especially if I am taking them somewhere that is nut free and they are delicious without.

My Favorite Sugar Cookies - Cream Cheese Roll Out Cookies

My favorite part about making these cookies was decorating them. My royal icing skills were pretty pathetic, but then youtube came to the rescue and now I love it and can’t wait to try different designs and techniques!

For those of you keeping track this is now my 8th out of 10 (hopefully) posts as part of the South Asian Blogger Networks two week blogging challenge! I see more and more of you are coming back here and I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU!

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The Very BEST Cocoa Brownies and a Blogger Challenge!

Hello friends – how goes the long weekend? Good you say? Let’s make it great by rustling up a pan of these brownies. All it takes is some undecidedly fancy ingredients to get some pretty darn delicious results. Now I have had a go-to brownie recipe for a long time now, it is quick and delicious. With a few notable exceptions other brownie recipes have left me feeling a little ‘meh’ especially the ones that have involved elaborate procedures and recommended that I wait 24 hours before trying a piece – laughable really.

When I came across this one from Cookie + Kate I had a feeling. For one she takes crackly tops seriously, as do I. For another she seems to really get that a brownie, a perfect brownie, should be mostly fudgy but with a little bit of heft. A rich caramelly back note, a touch of coffee and a little extra cocoa powder doesn’t hurt. Also I think the stirring is kinda magical – the last 50 strokes at the end – don’t skip it.

The Very BEST Cocoa Brownies

Speaking of skipping things, I think I may have failed to mention something – the South Asian Bloggers Network. A duo of wonderful women came up with the idea of bringing South Asian bloggers under one banner to help foster the advantages of a community both in terms of blogging support and sponsorship. You can read more about it here.

Well the same duo also came up with a challenge a few weeks ago – a two week blogging challenge, a post on each weekday for two weeks straight making for a total of 10 posts over 14 days. Bring it on I say! Actually moment of truth:  I totally panicked and am now faking a cool bring-it-on-its-no-bigs attitude. What I am genuinely excited about is bringing you a slew of yummies over the next two weeks – as my insta followers now I have been cooking and baking away and now it’s time to get blogging!

The BEST Cocoa Brownies

Hope you enjoy this sweet start to the next two weeks!

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Orange Cake

I know, I know, it’s Spring. Citrus was so last season. I shouldn’t even be entertaining the idea of such blasphemous behavior, but you know what guys, this cake is easy and delicious all year round. There is something about beautiful sunny days that makes me want to eat things that feel bright and sunny and this cake does.

Orange Cake

So maybe you make it now and then again in the winter? You know, just to balance things out 😉

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I am not sure whose recipe this is, but all of the women in my family have it in their go to recipe book, the one that is a ‘best of’ of sorts. Also there? My super easy Lemon Velvet. I know, I know, I gots citrus on my mind.

Back to this cake then, I used to make it with a hand mixer and then it occurred to me that since it is made with oil not butter creaming is a little unnecessary so I just let my whisk and arm do a little bit of work and call it a day. The orange zest is my addition, but it goes a long way towards enhancing the orange flavor so please don’t skip it. I do skip making the glaze sometimes and instead warm and pour over some lovely sticky orange marmalade to good effect.

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Ferrero Rocher Stuffed Brownies

It’s almost that time. That time when the excess of the holidays and it’s impact on our overall well-being (aka waistline) catches up with us and we swear to ourselves to eat better, live better, be better. Well before all that noble stuff kicks in let’s go out and buy an obscene amount of chocolate and make these brownies.

Ferrero Rocher Brownies

The Ferrero Rocher that is nestled within takes these brownies over the top, but even without it the actual brownie itself is exceptional. My usual go to recipe is a cocoa based brownie that comes together in a saucepan and while I would never give it up, this folks, is truly spectacular. Think rich deep chocolaty flavor and a distinct crumb that is almost cakey, but with the moist chew that is a must have for brownies.

Ferrero Rocher Brownies

Happy New Years folks, go out, celebrate, eat these brownies and I’ll see you next year 🙂

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Crunchy Delicious Hazelnut Sticks

There are biscuits you make to impress people – the pretty kind, the indulgent kind, the kind that you look at and ooh and aah. These are clearly not those biscuits, these are the biscuits that you put into the nearest jar and share with a good friend over coffee and really good conversation. There is something extraordinarily comforting about the crunch of finely chopped hazelnuts toasted to nutty caramelly perfection and I can imagine them disappearing quickly over gossip with friends.

Delicious Hazelnut Crunch Sticks

If you wanted to make these prettier looking you could do so with a little drizzle of chocolate or a dunk in Nutella and some nonpareils. Before gussying them up try them as they are just so you can truly appreciate just how something so simple can be so good.

Added perks? Great hazelnut taste without peeling and toasting hazelnuts AND they are eggless for those avoiding eggs.

Delicious Hazelnut Crunch Sticks

These babies are from Alice Medrich’s book Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy and so far most of the things that I have tried from this book have turned out well including these.

Crunchy Delicious Hazelnut Sticks

On another note, I am sorry for the lack of posts. A crazy combination of time away, failed photos, recipes that I came up with and forgot to write down has meant that I have been an absentee blogger. My instagram followers (@sarahjmir) know that for the most of it I have been cooking and baking away and will have lots to share with you in the coming weeks!

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Coffee (Flavored) Cake with Coffee Buttercream

Coffee and I we go way back, the kind of way back that makes it clear that I was my parents’ third child and not their first 😉 Baking and I also go way back. A successful combination of the two brings me infinite joy. And several extra pounds, but let’s focus on the positives here.

My sister in law recently made this cake and brought it over for me to try (so good) and insisted I make it as well and am I glad I did. She found the recipe here, but it was originally posted here. I tweaked it slightly to enhance the coffee flavor, but otherwise it is as posted. The result is a cake that is moist and full bodied and just perfect with the creamy sweetness of the buttercream.

Unlike most cake recipes this makes a smaller amount of cake and frosting which is nice because let’s face it: If it made the twice the amount I would still finish it equally fast.

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Strawberry Summer Cake

I think it says a lot about this cake that my two year old now feels very comfortable telling people that she made it. The first time she actually said “mama helped me” and then next thing you know she apparently made it “all by myself”. Fact is that we have made it THAT many times that she feels like she knows what she is doing and it is so delicious that who wouldn’t want to take all the credit! Seriously though, I may have gotten her to mix, add ingredients, wash the strawberries, place the strawberries and sprinkle the sugar on top. I am sure I did something…

The original recipe is from Martha Stewart, but I actually came across it on Smitten Kitchen a while ago. It should go without saying that this tastes best when strawberries are in season, but it is still surprisingly good when they aren’t quite there. I have tried making it with less sugar and found that it really impacted the texture of the cake. It was still good, just not great.

Try this cake. It is so perfectly summer and so easy that even a 2 year old can make it (almost).

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Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Guys, I don’t know if you have noticed, but I have been a little off baking recently. Turns out everything that was on my ‘to bake’ list had copious amounts of chocolate in it and I am still recovering from the luxurious flourless chocolate cake here.

Anyway, it was only natural that I turn to my second favorite baked goods flavor – lemon. It was only a matter of time that I decided upon this recipe here  and tweaked it only a little to produce a delicately flavored lemon cookie that went oh so well with a cup of tea in the afternoon. Now I don’t usually even drink tea in the afternoons, but with a cookie like this it seemed very much in order. Even my tot who several times during the baking process announced that she did not like lemon cookies and wanted to make ‘chap-e-chip’ (chocolate chip) cookies fell in love with these. A little too much so as I found out when I turned around and discovered that where there once were 4-5 cookies stacked on a plate there was now nothing, but crumbs.

This is not a puckeringly sour lemon cookie, but a more gently flavored one that seems to get better as it sits out for a little bit. I had almond extract handy so I used half that and half vanilla extract because I find that in ‘lemony’ things it adds an extra note of brightness.

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Nutella Pound Cake

This is probably not entirely normal behavior – by which I mean I know I am about to sound a little wacko – but, I sometimes hide treats from myself. That is why I can’t actually find the more than half jar of Nutella that I know is somewhere in my compact kitchen. I really looked, but apparently I was much more motivated when I was hiding it than looking for it. Perhaps this is one of those acts of divine mercy or something because if I were to find that jar it would not be half full for very long.

I recently made this Nutella pound cake for the dozenth time to take to a friends house except this time I reduced the sugar by a quarter cup and more than halved the Nutella. I definitely would not reduce the sugar again as it impacted the texture of the cake. This previous attempt I used less Nutella, but I can’t say I have ever been able to use an entire jar. My happy spot is somewhere between half and three quarter. The cake is definitely a little on the sweet side which is why you should not have it for breakfast like I did yesterday. Learn from my mistakes people!

The cake tastes best when I remove it from the pan, wrap it thoroughly in foil and let it be for a few hours. If you plan to serve it to guests then make sure it is stored out of reach of your husband and two year old both of whom are equally capable to tearing off random chunks. I take it as a compliment 🙂

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