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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with Coconut and Walnuts

I avoided oatmeal cookies and all things oatmeal related for many years. Not exactly sure why. Actually, I remember watching a cartoon version of Oliver Twist or some other orphan rags-to-riches story (where all the characters are played by cats). There’s that famous scene in the mess hall in which Oliver asks, “Please, sir, can I have some more”—some more totally gross gruel that plops and slaps onto the plate and then jiggles when it lands. I think from that time, I associated oatmeal and oatmeal cookies, cream of wheat and any kind of breakfast cereal with sad, little Oliver and the grody glop he had to eat.

Some time last year, I decided to get over this fear of breakfast cereal. It’s good stuff. Let’s face it, though, hot oatmeal isn’t pretty—it just looks gross, bubbling and slopping around in the pot—but it’s love food. From your mom, to your kids, to your loved ones and to yourself. Because it’s so good for you. But I’m digressing. I didn’t make oatmeal; I made oatmeal cookies. They’re not exactly good for you (so much sugar and butter), but they are mighty fine and tasty.

The recipe I ended up going with is one from Smitten Kitchen, which I found on The Nerd’s Wife’s website (cute name). It’s half of the original, I believe, which is perfect because one dozen regular sized cookies is plenty. I followed the instructions exactly, except I did everything by hand (being stand mixer-less) and added giant coconut flakes and walnut pieces to the mix. I’ve listed both as optional, but would highly suggest putting them in! More texture, more flavor, you know? Also, I baked for 10 minutes. The cookies were still a bit goopy in the middle, but that’s how they should be. As they cool on the silicon mat, they firm up, at which point you can move them to a rack to cool. My friend Natalie and I couldn’t wait; as soon as they were firm enough, we gobbled them up (one each—we’re not gluttons 😛 )

Anyway, try them. The cookies are soft and chewy and stay that way for a few days.


Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with Coconut and Walnuts (adapted from Smitten Kitchen via The Nerd’s Wife)

printable recipe

Makes one dozen standard-sized cookies.


1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 oz) butter, softened

2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 large egg, at room temp.

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups rolled oats

3/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup large coconut flakes (optional)

1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped or broken up with hands (optional)


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the sugars, butter, egg and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix well.
  5. Add the oats, raisins, coconut flakes and walnuts; stir together well.
  6. Drop by the tablespoon on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. They should be about two inches apart. (I made two batches of 6 each.)
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges have just started to turn brown. (They’ll be quite soft and the centers still gooey when they come out, but don’t worry; they should be.)
  8. Let them cool for a bit to firm up before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Birthday Macarons

I am not a natural baker, which is funny because the name of my blog kind of indicates the opposite! Unlike cooking, baking requires concentration and most importantly, discipline. Though I am learning to curb my naughty baking ways, I still find it hard to follow the rules sometimes. I am impatient, I skip steps, I open the oven door during baking, and I (gasp!) guesstimate.

This time, I tried really hard to do exactly as told. I suppose knowing that I would be presenting what I made as a gift helped 😛

My friend Uchi (Ursula 🙂 ) celebrated her birthday this weekend. When I was contemplating what gift to get her, I decided it would be really fun to make little French macarons: they’re sweet and petite, just like Uchi!

As this was my first time, I decided to invest in a few essentials that every baker should have (especially someone claiming to be The Little Baker SF). I bought a Silpat, a pastry bag and a piping tip. So the Silpat cost $20 at Sur La Table, which I wasn’t so excited about, but I figure I’m saving in the long-run since I’ll never have to buy parchment paper again.

The recipe I ended up putting together was inspired by three sources: Tartelette for the macaron ingredients and measurements, Food for Torte for the method, and Life’s A Feast for the buttercream. I decided to do two flavors: classic with a fresh strawberry buttercream filling (I had a few berries left over from my CSA) and coconut with dulce de leche (Wanted to use up the rest of my manjar blanco from Peru).

I was all set to follow the rules. I tried—really, I did. I did my research, read through the recipe to make sure I understood all the steps, figured out all the measurements, and still, things didn’t go exactly as planned. (Sigh…maybe one day they will 😛 ) My first batch was so frustrating. I had no idea what I was doing and ended up underbaking them and having to put them BACK in the oven for another 10 minutes. They turned alright, but were not as fine as I had imagined they would be.

The second (coconut) batch, on the other hand, came out lovely. Such dainty, elegant little things, I was shocked that one batch could be so ugly and the next so gorgeous. I suppose being a little less clueless that time made a difference.

I’ve noted in the recipe below all the things I found helpful in the process. I think, however, that you just have to be brave and do it. It’ll come together in the end!

I’m in love with them. They are the cutest things I have ever made, not to mention a mini triumph for this Little Baker. Makes me feel like I’m finally finding my baker’s feet, or more appropriately, hands. 🙂 The strawberry buttercream is pure love: the softest pink in color, tenderly tart and sweet, and so smooth. That sandwiched between almond macarons is the perfect combination of crunchy bite and soft, chewy meringue. As for the coconut macarons with dulce de leche filling, they’re sticky, gooey caramel treats. Both versions tasted good, but if I had to choose, I’d say the strawberry cream filled ones were the standout.


Dual Flavor Macarons: Classic with Strawberry Buttercream Filling and Coconut with Dulce de Leche Filling (adapted from Tartelette and Food for Torte)

90 g egg whites (between 2 and 3 eggs)

30 g sugar

200 g confectioners’ sugar

110 g ground almonds (For the classic batch, I used 55 g almonds; for the coconut, I used 45 g, plus 10 g shredded and sweetened coconut)

Fresh Strawberry Buttercream Filling (recipe adapted from Life’s A Feast)

175 g confectioners’ sugar

50 g unsalted butter, at room temp.

2-3 fresh strawberries, roughly chopped (or squished with the back of a fork, which is what I did)

1-2 tbsp boiling water


  1. Using a food processor, process the confectioners’ sugar and ground almonds until combined and well ground.  (At this point, I split the mixture into two, measuring out 145 g and adding 10 g shredded coconut for the coconut batch and leaving the remaining 155 g for the classic.)
  2. Separate the eggs. Then, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they begin to rise and hold their shape (soft peaks).  Add the white sugar 1-2 tbsp at a time and beat in well.  Be careful not to overbeat your eggs. (If doing 2 different flavored batches, whip 2 batches, 45 g egg whites and 15 g sugar, or whip the whole amount and split by eye.)
  3. Fold—don’t stir—the dry ingredients, in two batches, into the beaten egg whites with a rubber spatula.  It will seem very dry at first, but will eventually come together; just keep folding under. (If you are adding food colouring, do so now and combine well.  I didn’t do this.)
  4. When the mixture is smooth and there are no streaks of egg whites, scrape the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a small circular piping tip (I used a #4, 3/8-inch tip). Pipe small rounds of mixture onto a baking tray covered with baking paper.  Leave enough room in between each round—they will spread! Note: If a piece of almond blocks the filling from coming out, don’t squeeze harder. Use a toothpick or tip of a needle to dislodge it; this way is more effective and will also save you a lot of tears should you squeeze and the pastry bag were to burst. (I did the piping and baking in two batches: classic then coconut.)
  5. Leave them out so their surface begins to harden up.  This will help the macarons form their shiny shell and ‘foot’.  Rest them for as long as it takes to heat up the oven to 355 F (180 C).
  6. Place the macarons on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes (I needed the entire 15).  Remove them from the oven then let them cool completely before peeling them gently off the baking paper or your Silpat. (I had stickage issues and ended up sliding a piece of thread underneath cookie to unstick them. This worked really well.)
  7. While the macarons are baking, prepare the strawberry buttercream: Using an electric mixer, cream together the softened butter and confectioners’ sugar. Scrape down the sides.
  8. Add the chopped (or squished) strawberries to the mixture and the boiling water. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Set aside until ready for spreading. (Don’t refrigerate; it will harden and become hard to spread.)
  9. Spoon or pipe (I spooned; it was easier) a generous tsp of buttercream onto one half of a macaron, then sandwich together with the other half. together.

Strawberry Thumbprints

Dorie, I adore thee.

These thumbprints are ahhhh-mazing. Seriously. Could be the ground almonds or perhaps it’s the sinful amount of butter that makes them so light and crisp. You barely even have to chew—God, that sounds lazy—they just crumble and melt away in your mouth.

I don’t really have anything to say about the prep or baking process. After baking, I opted not to dust the cookies with powdered sugar; they are sweet enough for me. Plus, the jam-filled center provides more sweetness.

Strawberry Thumbprints (adapted Dorie Greenspan recipe from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine)


1/2 cup + a well-rounded 1/4 cup of finely ground almonds

1/2 cup + 1/4 + 1/8 of a cup of all purpose flour

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) of butter, at room temp.

1/4 cup of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of almond extract

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

About 1/2-1 cup of your favourite jam(s)

Confectioners sugar for dusting (optional)

Cookie Dough

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ground almonds, and flour. Set aside.
  2. In a separate larger bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add both extracts and beat to blend. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the nut-flour mixture, mixing only until it is incorporated into the dough. Cover and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set them aside.
  4. Working with a well-rounded teaspoonful of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls and place them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Steadying each cookie with your fingers, use the back of a quarter-teaspoon to make e a hole in the center of each cookie. Be careful not to go all the way down to the baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 13-16 minutes. The cookies should only be slightly browned. They may look underdone, which is fine. You don’t want to overbake them. When the cookies are baked, remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the cookies rest on their sheets for 2 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks. If the holes have puffed up during baking, gently push them in again with the end of a wooden spoon (be sure to do this while they are still warm.) Place the cooling racks over a sheet of paper towel or parchment paper and sift some confectioners sugar over all the cookies. (I didn’t do this—didn’t feel it was necessary.)


  1. In a small saucepan, bring the jam to just a boil over low heat. You can also do this in the microwave. (Microwave was fine.) Fill the holes of all the cookies with enough of the hot jam to come to level with the tops. Cool to room temperature.

Valentine’s Day Cookies

So sweet of me, I know—to bake cookies and then ship them far, far away and beyond…to Lima. Little did I know that this modest, little Valentine’s gesture would cost $23 JUST TO SHIP.

I’m kind of worried that in the 10 days it will take these cookies to reach Peru, they will have hardened, broken and become almost inedible. When I think about the surprised look on his face when he finds this package from me, however, none of that really matters. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Super easy to whip up, I don’t have too much to say about this Swiss cookie recipe. The one thing I learned—the hard way—is to NOT OVERBAKE. They are egg white-based, so it seems only logical that they would bake up pretty quickly. Duh. Well, I didn’t think of that and was only watching for light browning. As a result, my cookies came out slightly firmer than I would have preferred. Then again, I’ve never made these before, so maybe they’re meant to be a little crunchy?

After baking and cooling, I iced some cookies with a simple frosting and also sandwiched a few together with a layer of blackberry jam.

Tasty, little cookies—I like the nutty-gritty texture from the ground almonds and the citrusy twang from the lemon zest, but am not in love with the crunch, though this is probably my fault for over-baking. (-_-“) I’m hoping the ones with frosting and jam will soften up over time. It is also summer in Lima right now, i.e. high humidity, so maybe by the time Dennis eats them, they’ll be a bit softer.

Btw, if you don’t happen to have empty cookie tins lying around at home—like me—make a trip to The Container Store. They have round and rectangular tins of various sizes. I also picked up a box and all other packaging materials from there. I heart The Container Store. (^_^)

Mandelleckerli / Swiss Almond Bites (adapted from foodnews.ch)

makes 60-65 smallish cookies



250 g butter, at room temp.

250 g sugar

375 g all-purpose flour

250 g ground almonds

2 egg whites, whipped until stiff peaks form

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

grated zest of 1 lemon

a pinch of salt

Simple Frosting (optional)

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup tbsp boiling water

a few drops vanilla extract

food coloring


For the Cookies

  1. With a stand- or hand-mixer, whip the butter until smooth and light. Gently fold in the sugar, lemon zest, almonds, cinnamon, salt and whipped egg whites. Lastly, gradually fold in the flour.
  2. Lightly knead the dough until it just comes together. Put in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next day, cut the dough into 5-6 pieces. Between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, individually roll out each piece of dough until ca. 3 mm thick and use your choice of cookie-cutter to cut out the cookies. (I used 2 rulers as measuring guides and between which I rolled out the dough, in order to ensure even dough thickness and later, even baking.)
  4. Dip an icing spatula (or butter knife) in flour and then carefully transfer the cookies onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Place the tray in the refrigerator for ca. 10 minutes.
  5. While the cookies are cooling, pre-heat the oven to 375 F.
  6. Place the tray on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 10 minutes—not longer. (The dough is made with egg whites; they harden quickly.)
  7. Remove from the oven and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store in an air-tight cookie tin.

For the Frosting (optional)

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, boiling water and vanilla extract. If necessary, add more water— until the frosting reaches your desired thickness.
  2. Mix in a few drops of food coloring until the frosting reaches the desired coloring.
  3. Decorate the cookies to your liking. Allow to sit overnight on a wire rack before storing.

Bye Bye 2009 Peanut Butter and Jelly Biscotti

Before all the New Year’s Eve craziness got started (great night out, btw), I baked these delightful little peanut butter and jelly biscotti. I’ve never seen dual-layer ones before, so making these was kind of exciting—like I was creating something new and of my own imagination. My base recipe is a peanut butter biscotti one I found here.

The biscotti came out really cute and dainty. I used strawberry and blackberry jam. The strawberry layer didn’t really show as well as the blackberry, so from now on, I’ll use darker colored jams. Trader Joe’s has cherry right now, which would be an interesting flavor combination with peanut butter.

Bye Bye 2009. And happy new year!

Bye Bye 2009 Peanut Butter and Jelly Biscotti (adapted from Kicked Up Cookie Recipes)


2 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs

1/3 cup peanut butter

1 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (I used unsalted.)

2 heaping tbsps jelly or jam of any flavor (I used strawberry and blackberry.)

1/8-1/4 cup water (in case the dough is too dry)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In another larger bowl, use a hand-mixer to mix together the eggs and brown sugar. Next, add in the peanut butter. Mix until combined thoroughly (no lumps).
  3. Pour the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Stir together with a spatula or wooden spoon. When the dough starts looking a little dry, add the water.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Divide the dough into 4 roughly equal-sized sections. Then, form the bottom layer of each biscotti log. It is helpful to use your hands (moisten with water first) to shape and flatten the dough section to roughly your desired size. Finish shaping on the cookie sheet, using moistened fingers to smooth out the surface and edges. (I always make 2 biscotti logs—for even baking and for handling ease. Also, for this batch, I use 2 different jam fillings.)
  5. Once you’ve formed the bottom layer, spread a heaping tablespoonful of jam or jelly on top. Be sure to leave about 1/2-inch of space at the edge jam-free.
  6. Form the top layer of the biscotti with your hands to roughly the same size as the bottom layer. Carefully lay it on top of the jam layer. Then, use your fingers to seal and press the edges together. Don’t press from the middle; this will cause the jam to spread and leak out.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow the biscotti to cool for ca. 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 F.
  9. Once cooled slightly, slice at a diagonal and to your desired width. (I like mine about 1-in. thick) Lay the slices out flat on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
  10. After 10 minutes, take the biscotti out of the oven to flip. Return to bake for another 10 minutes. Once finished, allow to sit overnight before eating.

Christmas Cranberry Cheesecake

Christmas Day.

Liam and I are in Portland again for the long weekend. Getting together with my family—no matter how long we’ve been apart—is a frenzy – of stories being told, voices wanting to be heard and a lot of very different personalities trying to get through. It can be a little overwhelming. Actually, I’ve been trying to finish this post all day, but I just can’t. There’s too much going on, too much distraction. But all the good kind.

My sister Christine and I made this cheesecake together. I’m not used to sharing my…space…with others. I’m learning, though.

I adapted Dorie Greenspan’s Tall and Creamy Cheesecake recipe for tonight’s Christmas dinner. I’m not going to say too much about it—the pictures speak for themselves. Super rich and creamy cheesecake base, lovely tartness from the cranberries and holiday spice from the gingersnap base. Sugar, spice and everything nice!!

Happy Holidays! Enjoy!

Christmas Cranberry Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust (adapted from this recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours and this recipe from The Delicious Life)

Makes one gigantic 9-inch cheesecake


Cranberry Sauce:

12 oz fresh cranberries

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

a pinch of salt

zest of 1/2 a medium orange

1 tsp cinnamon


1 3/4 cups graham cracker or gingersnap crumbs

3 tbsp sugar

a pinch of salt

1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted


2 lbs (four 8 oz boxes) cream cheese, at room temp.

1 1/3 cups sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temp.

1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two

1 tsp cinnamon


Prepare the Cranberry Sauce:

  1. Wash cranberries and remove any wayward stems and mushy, brown/bruised berries.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat water and sugar over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add cranberries, increase heat, and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low and simmer cranberries until most of them have cracked or burst, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cinnamon and stir.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Cranberry sauce “gels” more as it cools.

Prepare the crust:

  1. Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.
  2. Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn’t have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.
  3. Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Make the cheesecake:

  1. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
  2. Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.
  3. Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.
  4. Spoon half the cranberry sauce over the bottom of the crust, spreading out evenly.
  5. Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
  6. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
  7. After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
  8. When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.

To Serve:

Remove the sides of the springform pan and set the cake, still on the pan’s base, on a serving platter. Spread the remaining half of the cranberry sauce over the cheesecake. (You can also serve the sauce on the side.)

Cranberry, Pistachio & White Chocolate Biscotti

Biscotti Batch #4 that I made during my Thanksgiving weekend in Portland. I actually remembered to take (blurry :/ ) pictures of these, and of all the batches I’d have to say this one was the prettiest and also the tastiest! My family and I were dunking these in steaming cups of coffee and milk all weekend 🙂

It’s the same recipe I used for the other Thanksgiving batches. The only major change I made this time was the addition of white chocolate.

Here it is again:

Cranberry, Pistachio & White Chocolate Biscotti (recipe adapted from Joy of Baking)


2/3 cup (135 g) white sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups (245 g) all-purpose flour

2 handfuls pistachios, roughly chopped

2 handfuls dried cranberries

1/2 cup white chocolate chips


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (177 C) and place the oven rack in the center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the sugar and eggs on high until thick, pale and fluffy (ca. 5 minutes). (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.) At this point, beat in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the egg mixture and beat until combined. Quickly fold in the chopped pistachios, white chocolate and cranberries.
  4. Transfer the dough to your parchment lined baking sheet and form into a log, about 20 inches (30 cm) long and 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) wide. You may have to dampen your hands to form the log  as the dough is quite sticky.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  6. Transfer log onto a cutting board and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) slices, on the diagonal. Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake 1o minutes, turn slices over, and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Black Friday Biscotti – 2 Recipes

I don’t really get Black Friday—I don’t think I even knew it existed until a few years ago because some of the students at my parent’s house were talking about it. It seems there are a lot of typically American things I don’t know about. My boyfriend Dennis commented about it the other day over a dinner of ribs—a first for me.

“Are you American? Did you grow up here?”

Yes, I am American. But the whole idea of having to commit to one identity and one culture is weird to me. I am older sister, younger sister, daughter; I am mixed, Japanese, Irish, American; I was wife—am soon to be divorced and single. All these labels—they tell me where I belong, and at the same time, where I don’t.

And now I’ve gone way off topic. I want to talk about my biscotti. I didn’t get up early; I missed all the Black Friday sales. I did, however, make a trip to Fry’s with my mom and Liam—a trip which left me feeling confused, overwhelmed and completely drained of energy that I had to run home and bake just to make me feel better.

So I baked biscotti—yes, again. I used the Joy of Baking recipe as a base (the same one I used for my So Thankful Raisin Almond Biscotti). It’s seriously perfect. The basic ingredients, i.e. flour, sugar, eggs, etc. stay the same; the add-ins, though, you can go completely crazy with. All you have to do is remember to keep the amounts to about 1/2 cup (I totally cheat on this. The more nuts, chocolate and berries—the better).

Peanut Butter-Nutella-Chocolate with Almonds Biscotti (for full recipe, click here)


Follow the basic recipe, then adapt by mixing in these add-ins:

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1-2 large handful almonds, roughly chopped

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, warmed in the microwave for 10 seconds.

1/2 cup nutella, warmed in the microwave for 10 seconds

Dark Chocolate Biscotti with Almonds and Coconut (for full recipe, click here)

Again, follow the basic recipe, then adapt by mixing in these add-ins:

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1-2 large handfuls almonds, roughly chopped

1-2 large handfuls unsweetened coconut flakes

4 oz. dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Pictures coming soon!

So Thankful Raisin Almond Chocolate Biscotti

Meant to post these on Wednesday…while I was still home in Portland. That obviously didn’t happen since it’s now Tuesday!?!?!?!

These were the beginning of the Thanksgiving Weekend Biscotti Baking Extravaganza—Batch #1 of 4! I made the first for the family and the subsequent three at my mom’s request.  She wants to serve them when she has guests over. Such a good idea—they’re quick and easy to make and they last FOREVER!! (^o^)

I took pictures of them, but I’m kind of embarrassed to put them up. I was forced to use my camera phone; I haven’t looked at the results yet; and I’m kind of scared to.

Here’s the recipe anyhow. I tried a new one from a favorite website of mine called Joy of Baking. I think this is my new go-to biscotti recipe 🙂


So Thankful Raisin Almond Chocolate Biscotti (adapted from this Joy of Baking recipe)


2/3 cup (135 g) white sugar

2 large eggs (I used extra-large—that’s all my mom had.)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp salt

1 3/4 cups (245 g) all-purpose flour

1 large handful almonds, roughly chopped

1 large handful dried cranberries

4 oz. 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (177 C) and place the oven rack in the center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the sugar and eggs on high until thick, pale and fluffy (ca. 5 minutes). (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.) At this point, beat in the vanilla extract.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the egg mixture and beat until combined. Fold in the chopped almonds, chocolate and raisins.
  4. Transfer the dough to your parchment lined baking sheet and form into a log, about 20 inches (30 cm) long and 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) wide. You may have to dampen your hands to form the log  as the dough is quite sticky.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  6. Transfer log onto a cutting board and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) slices, on the diagonal. Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake 1o minutes, turn slices over, and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

LovEvolution, Barbecue and Peanut Butter Weekend


The city celebrated L-O-V-E this weekend at San Francisco LovEvolution (fka LoveFest and The Love Parade). Thousands danced their way down Market to Civic “in the spirit of tolerance, respect, peace, justice, and yes evolution, and—yes love.”

So what if it felt more like an excuse for 16 year-olds from the East Bay, co-eds and middle-aged nekkid men to get smashed, wear glitter and flash people. There’s a lot worse you could be doing on a Saturday afternoon.

I felt it—love was aaaaalllll around.

In honor of the occasion (and because of the b-day barbecue I was invited to after), I baked peanut butter cookies. A first for me. I’m not really sure why I associate peanut butter with love—not sexy love but warm, life-is-good love. Peanut butter is just one of those things that makes me happy. I suppose I’m also just feeling really grateful right now for all the little blessings in my life.

Anyway, I could have gone with the flour-less, butter-free kind of cookie, but opted instead to keep it classic with a Dorie Greenspan recipe I found on Good Eats ‘n Sweet Treats.

Super simple to put together, the batter was made and 3 batches of cookies were baked in an hour and a half.

To the batter, I added roughly chopped unsweetened 73% dark chocolate and left out the peanuts (Why? Because I felt like it.)

My favorite part of the recipe was the inclusion of nutmeg in the batter. It was an unexpected flavor layer which I thought mixed beautifully with the flavors from the peanut butter and chocolate. I was also totally into the batter itself. I don’t know if it was the peanut butter, the eggs or what that made it so fluffy. Actually, it reminded me of the Japanese peanut butter I love so much—whipped, sweet and marshmallow-creme creamy.

I was surprised how much I liked these cookies—they were pretty popular at the bbq too (^_^). Again, nutmeg was the superstar ingredient here that really pulled it all together. (Is it normally included in peanut butter cookies? I don’t know…) Texture was also really good—soft and chewy. Definitely a winner recipe from The Greenspan. 😛


Feel-the-Love Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Crisscross Cookies (taken from Good Eats ‘n Sweet Treats and adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home To Yours)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

pinch of nutmeg

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup peanut butter (not the “natural” type—I used creamy.)

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (I reduced this to 3/4 cup.)

3/4 cup sugar (I used evaporated cane sugar and reduced the amount to about 1/2 cup.)

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts (I replaced this with roughly chopped 73% dark chocolate.)

About 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling (Again, I used evaporated cane sugar.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg; set aside.
  2. Working with a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment (or hand mixer and a large bowl), beat the butter on medium speed until light and creamy, one to two minutes. Add peanut butter and beat for another minute. Add the sugars and beat 3 minutes more. Add eggs one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing only until they just disappear. Mix in the chopped peanuts.
  3. Pour the 1/2 cup sugar into a small bowl. Working with a level tablespoonful of dough for each cookie, roll the dough between your palms into balls, then roll in sugar to coat. Place two inches apart on baking sheet. Dip the tines of a fork into sugar and press the tines against each ball of dough twice, making a crisscross pattern.
  4. Bake 12 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom and front to back at midway point. When done, cookies will be lightly colored and still a little soft. Let cookies sit on baking sheet a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks. Repeat with remaining dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches.