A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘Cookies’

Valentine’s Cookies

In Food, Recipes on February 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm

peanut butter hugs


My favorite cookie when I was a kid was the classic Peanut Butter Kiss my grandmother made, warm from the oven with the chocolate kiss on top still soft. Someone far more clever than I had the brilliant idea of subbing in Hershey’s Hugs—what Hershey’s describes as a Hershey’s milk chocolate hugged by sweet white cream—and adding some food coloring to the dough make Valentine’s cookies (hers were bright fuchsia and super fun).


I dialed it down a bit and added just a few squirts of red to the dough and then rolled them in red sugar leftover from Christmas baking. Also, you might notice from my photos that in a moment of a peanut butter addict’s overkill, I added 1/2 cup of peanut butter chips to my grandmother’s recipe. Go for it. Or don’t. (But I say go for it.) Finally, if you live near a Vons, Pavilions or Safeway supermarket, their generic Organics “O” Creamy Peanut Butter is my favorite for baking.

Peanut Butter Hugs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup organic creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup Spectrum All-Vegetarian Organic Shortening

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons whole milk

2-3 squirts red food coloring

1/2 cup peanut butter chips (optional)

Red sugar for dusting

36 Hershey’s Hugs, unwrapped


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together peanut butter, shortening and granulated and brown sugars, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat on medium until fully incorporated, about 1 minute.

With the mixer on low, add the food coloring and flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in peanut butter chips, if using. Shape the dough into walnut-sized balls, and roll in colored sugar.


Place on two un-greased cookie sheets, with about 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes, switching cookie sheets between racks about halfway through. Remove from oven and immediately press a chocolate into the center of each cookie. (Cookie will crack around edges.)

peanut butter hugs

Using a spatula, move cookies from sheet to baking rack and allow to cool completely. Makes about 36 cookies.

valentine's cookies





Cookie Magic

In Food, Recipes on December 20, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t bake. It’s a well-known fact for regular visitors to this blog. And so you can imagine how overjoyed I was that this month’s theme for cooking club was a cookie exchange! When I think cookie perfection, immediately my friend Christine comes to mind. You may remember this plate of gorgeous cookies she left on my doorstep last Christmas. The woman has mad skills.

cookiesAnd so I took a page out of Christine’s ever pitch perfect book, and made a batch of White Christmas Dream Drops for last night’s cookie swap. They are heavenly bites of meringue, studded with white chocolate chips and crushed peppermint candy canes. They are exquisite. Better yet, even I can make them and they were a hit at cooking club. Take a look at the competition:


If I can get my hands on the recipes from the other girls, I will definitely share because they were all awesome. In the meantime, here’s the recipe for the dream drops. Before starting, make sure your eggs are at room temperature and that your oven is preheated. Otherwise, they’re a snap.

White Chocolate Dream Drops

Recipe from Sunset Magazine, December 2011

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup white chocolate chips

1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp. coarsely crushed peppermint candies

Preheat oven to 250° F.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a deep bowl with a mixer, using whisk attachment if you have one, just until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and salt. With motor running and mixer on high speed, pour in 1 tbsp. sugar and beat 10 to 15 seconds, then repeat until all sugar has been added. Scrape inside of bowl and beat another 15 seconds. At this point, meringue should form straight peaks when beaters are lifted. Fold in chocolate chips and 1/3 cup candies with a flexible spatula.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, using a bit of meringue at corners as glue. Using a soup spoon, drop meringue in rounded 1-tbsp. portions slightly apart onto sheets, scraping off with another spoon. Sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tbsp. candies.


Bake until meringues feel dry and set when touched but are still pale, 30 to 35 minutes, switching pan positions halfway through. Turn off oven, open door, and let cookies stand about 10 minutes. Let cool on pans. Store in airtight container for up to two days, though I doubt they will last that long.



A Pirate’s Birthday

In Baby Love, Design, Food, Recipes on July 16, 2011 at 4:31 pm

I’m still recovering from the sugar coma that was my son’s third birthday party, not to mention the (completely justifiable) death stare another mother shot me when the cotton candy cart rolled out. But you only turn three once. And Tiny G wanted a pirate party, and pirates love sugar, so arrggh! Tiny G’s preschool classmates were arriving at 11 am, so this morning—because I’m a supreme procrastinator—my sister and I got up at 6:30 am to make and assemble the party favors: little treasure bags for little pirates. First, I printed out a recipe for Tiny G’s Desert Island Cookies (my favorite sugar cookie recipe from my grandmother) on mottled paper, rolled up each and tied with a red string.

Meanwhile, Claire rolled out the dough and cut out little sharks using a cookie cutter I got at Sur la Table for $1. (I ended up getting a few dozen for favors.) Claire frosted the cookies and dusted with pale turquoise sugar crystals I found at Surfas in Culver City. They have the BEST colors of sugar crystals.

While at Surfas, I also grabbed some cellophane treat bags. I was concerned about the shark tails snapping off, so I cut out 4″ x 2″ red card-stock rectangles to put the cookies on, then slid into the cellophane bags and affixed the backs with pirate stickers.

For the treasure bag itself, I found these 4″ x 6″ old-fashioned drawstring bags made of organic unbleached cotton mill cloth. They were 19 cents each. We stamped each with a red pirate.

Then we filled the muslin bags with a cookie and a treasure map recipe, and then tied a shark cookie cutter on the drawstring of each bag. The cost of each goodie bag came in at under $2. Which left plenty of room in the budget for Dark & Stormies for the grown ups…

Tiny G’s Desert Island Cookies


1 ¼ cups sugar

3 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 sticks softened unsalted butter

3 eggs

1 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extract


4 cups sifted powdered sugar

3 tablespoons whole milk

1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla extra

Colored sugar crystals (optional)

To make cookies: In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, using a hand mixer, beat together sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir to mix well. Gather dough together; divide in half. Flatten each half into disk; wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour. Roll out dough (1 disc at a time) on floured surface to ¼-inch thickness. Cut out cookies. Transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Chill on sheets for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on rack.

To make icing, Combine powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla in medium bowl. Stir until icing is well blended, smooth, and spreadable. Spread thin layer of icing atop each cookie. If using colored sugar crystals, sprinkle over cookies before icing sets.

Cookie Fortune

In Drink, Food, Out of Town on October 29, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Most wine geeks hear “Teldeschi” and they think gorgeous, spicy Zinfandel sourced from 97-year-old vines in Dry Creek Valley. But from here to eternity, yours truly will be thinking “cookie.” This past week I was working up in Sonoma, exploring some of the most historic vineyards in the country. The highlight of the trip was taking a helicopter ride over Sonoma and Napa Valleys and up through Alexander Valley to the Teldeschi family home, where Caterina, aka “Mama,” hand made exquisite Italian cookies. But first, check out our ride:

The commute from Sonoma to Dry Creek was pretty spectacular and literally gave me a new perspective on where I grew up:

But that view has nothing on Mama’s cookies. She uses grappa and anise seed in her secret recipe, and presses in the most beautiful designs that make these confections look like edible doilies. As the cookies started to make their way around the table, Johnny Teldeschi jumps up and says “I got whipped cream, six cans!” His sister leans over to me and says you’ve gotta try one with whipped cream and hands me a can. She is right. I could have eaten the entire plate and polished off that aerosol can o’ sweetened ultra-pasteurized cream.

Thank you to the Teldeschis for such gracious hospitality. And thank you, Ravenswood, for making such seductive wines from these old vines. Now pardon me while I click my heels to return to the Teldeschi home, where even the recycling bin is the height of good taste.

Cookie Monsters

In Food on December 21, 2009 at 9:35 am

Several of the “girls” on our block decided to do a holiday cookie exchange last night. There were wedding cookies, sugar cookies, rice krispie treats and more—all of them delicious and baked with love. And there were flutes of bubbly, which were enjoyed with much love indeed! I don’t think any of my neighbors would begrudge me—or disagree—for saying that Debra’s cookies completely stole the show. Debra kindly shared links for recipes she used, which I’m sharing with you. The above Rosemary Pine Nut cookie is from a recipe by Nancy Silverton Dahlia Narvaez of Mozza. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a cookie so perfect. And the below Chocolate Sea Salt (which will blow your mind) is from a Pierre Herme recipe. And look at how perfectly ROUND Debra’s cookies are. That’s a talent in itself.

And what did The Foodinista bake? I cheated. And you would, too, if your sister baked as well as mine. Claire made these heavenly Triple Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal cookies, which I took to the party, but in a moment of conscience gave credit where credit was due.

Good to the last bite…

Launch My Line: Gaia’s Goodies

In Food on December 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Gaia Guidi was one of the first people I met when I moved to Los Angeles a decade ago. At the time, she was working for Tod’s, and then later for Bulgari—and always looking fabulous. Simply put, she has always exuded good taste. These days, she’s turned that good taste into a super successful business and has founded Gaia’s Goodies making the most INSANELY delicious cookies (like the flourless cocoa walnut cookies, above) for sale at finer food markets around town. And of course, she still looks impossibly glamorous while doing it. Pick up a bag of Gaia’s Goodies (retailers listed at end of post) for a deliciously tasteful hostess gift. I love how Gaia made the switch from fashion to food (a true foodinista!), and so asked her a few questions about “launching her line” as it were…

What inspired you to make the switch from fashion to food?

Gaia’s Goodies basically started at home – where all good things come from! There was of course a love for baking and pastry making and a growing obsession with the craft. One night, after having made a batch of cookies for dessert, my boyfriend, Marco, insisted I put them on the market…and so it began!

Though I had been out of the fashion biz for a little while already, it wasn’t as much a “switch” as it was a “realization.” Being from a food/ wine importer Italian family and one with a serious tradition for cooking and baking, all things food and drink run through my blood! I am definitely happiest in the kitchen and when people are pleased by the things I make, and I especially crave the precision and concentration I apply when baking. Call it therapy! So really, it had been as plain as the nose on my face for years – I just wasn’t seeing it for a long time.

Couple these factors with a dream team of cheerleaders and supporters (all with relevant experience, mind you)– my parents, Marco, my sisters, a fellow baker and many friends offering a helping hand with setting up a business, and there you have it. Oh yeah – and the will to get up earlier than I am used to!!

Having said all that – I may wear ugly shoes by day, but get me out of the bakery and I am back in my old fashion days’ get-up! [Foodinista note: Gaia does not look ugly by day.]

What flavors of cookies do you currently offer?

Flourless Cocoa Walnut

White Chocolate Apricot Oatmeal (pictured below)

Oatmeal Cherry Mixed Chip

….and more to come in the new year!

How are the flourless chocolate so damned good without flour?

Sometimes, ya just don’t need flour! Think if it as baked chocolate mousse. But also, as with all my children – I mean, cookies, we only use the very best ingredients. I just wouldn’t be doing this if I couldn’t make a cookie, or anything for that matter, that I didn’t think was perfectly delicious myself. As a food snob, that means excellent, natural ingredients – period. The other factor is method. The Flourless Cocoa cookie in particular is very challenging to make in large quantities, and this took many months to perfect. All the cookies are made by hand though, and in single batches.


A growing list of wonderful gourmet markets and cafés around town where you can find cookies and much more – Santa Monica Seafood, Wine House, Wally’s, Simply Italian (Woodland Hills), Hunger Market café (W.Hollywood), Bellissimo (Venice), Café Bello (Santa Monica) – for example. And, of course, at Guidi Marcello – Dad’s import biz in Santa Monica. They’re also available online at Olio & Olive.

Australian for F’ing Delicious

In Food on December 8, 2009 at 10:35 am

Pardon my enthusiasm and salty language, especially where a Pepperidge Farm commercial cookie is involved, but I’m enjoying a Tim Tam with my morning coffee and have gotten away from myself, just a little. A Tim Tam, you ask? Allow me to introduce you, mate. The Tim Tam is Australia’s favorite cookie, or so the package boasts, and it involves chocolate creme sandwiched between malted chocolate cookies. Booth, Kathleen and I were each gifted with a package from our Australian friend Susie, who looked divine in bright red lipstick on Friday night. But enough about lipstick. Get thee to a Target, and get thee a Tim Tam. And while you’re at it, could you pick up an extra pack for me?

Trick or TREAT!

In Food on October 31, 2009 at 9:20 am

Woodhouse Chocolates

For Halloween, my father sent my sister and I a little treat from our hometown, St. Helena. We’re talking about a box of four evil little cookies called “Caramel Helenas” (so-named for the town) from Woodhouse Chocolates. One of the chocolatiers at Woodhouse, in fact, calls them “evil, as in you crave them day and night evil.” These little devils involve a buttery layer of caramel between two almond crisps, covered in chocolate and then sprinkled with fleur de sel. Sweet, salty, chewy, crispy evil! The salt is really what gets me—just divine. You can order a box by clicking here, and do yourself (if not your waistline) a favor and snap up some of their heavenly salt caramels. Thanks, Dad!!!!

Caramel Helenas

Annie the Baker

In Food on September 2, 2009 at 8:00 am


A couple of weeks ago, my sister was visiting from Napa Valley and she brought down a bag of her favorite cookies, which quite honestly left me and my husband a little speechless. Look at them! Now imagine biting into one of these chewy, decadent peanut butter cookies with mini chunks of peanut butter cups tucked in there, or how about one with toffee bits and milk chocolate chips? Oh my god!!! These are the work of Annie the Baker, who sells these heavenly cookies at the St. Helena and Napa farmers markets in Northern California. Annie is the former pastry chef at Mustard’s Grill, and recently she has turned her attention full time to her cookie business. I love her motto: “For those who love cookie dough more than the cookie.” But not as much as I LOVE HER COOKIES! Annie, when can we get our mitts on these in SoCal???

Hadley Fruit Orchards

In Food, On Location: Out and About in L.A. on May 12, 2009 at 7:40 am


Any trip to Palm Springs is not complete without a stop at Hadley’s, home of the best date shake as well as a wacko assortment of dried fruits and vegetables from Calimyra figs to okra chips. It’s a great place to load up on Medjool dates, and an even better place to order a decadent shake. I like mine made with half banana, half date (the banana cuts the sweetness of the dates).


Mr. Foodinista goes cuckoo for cocoa puffs over Hadley’s date cookies, which are deliciously chewy. We always grab a tub of wasabi peas and the cookies, invariably eat too many of each in the hotel room over the weekend, and then gobble up the rest back at home.