Nutella Pillow Cookies and the 3rd Annual Cookie Swap!

Brrr…it’s cold in here…there must be some Clovers in the atmosphere (sorry, Bring It On reference). Temps are in the 40s in SF which is relatively warm considering I’m from the East coast but I must admit I’M COLD. It must be the wind or the fact that my apartment feels like a refrigerator. Regardless, I am a little nervous going home where temps are in the teens. I hope I can still face “real” winter!

On Sunday, I held my third annual cookie swap. Crazy town. Time has flown by! I made these lovely Nutella Pillow Cookies.

Its fun to host an annual event. Each year I’ve tried to do something a little different. This year I had it on a weekend instead of after work which I think worked well for most people. I also had friends vote on their favorite cookie with a prize for the cookie with the most votes!

The other cookies included: Oreo Cheesecake Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Special K Cookies, No-bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies, Gingerbread Ninjas, Caramel Pecan Turtles, Cream Cheese Cookies, and Chocolate Mint Cookies.

For the first time, we also had egg nog! There was a vote for it too but the winner at the end of the day was:

Snickerdoodles! Kiley made these and they were divine. I loved how soft and light they were. I may have hoarded a few of these just for myself. And the prize for the top cookie? More cookies! Jk, the prize was legit. The Miette cookbook, which I am also a proud owner of 🙂 But truly, all the cookies were delicious! I can’t wait for next year.


Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite combination in the world is chocolate, banana and peanut butter. I call it the yum trifecta. I swoon whenever I see these three things together on a menu.

I had an overripe banana that needed some loving and instead of the usual banana bread (too similar to cake – going on a cake hiatus for now), I had a craving for cookies. These cookies can be prepared in one bowl which is great since that means less clean up!

Chris and I got back from our road trip last week and we’re just getting back into the swing of things. I still have more pictures I want to share but things have been particularly busy. This article from The Bold Italic on why San Franciscans are so busy is really funny. The excuses are true! Not going to lie I’ve used them before…

Anyways, lets talk about these cookies. They are quick to make so it’s good when you’re short on time. I think I had them in the oven in under 20 minutes and then it’s just another 12-15 minutes to bake. Another bonus is that you don’t have to wait for the butter to get to room temperature.

I used chunky peanut butter instead of the creamy peanut butter the recipe originally calls for. I just love the texture from the peanuts. And the banana keeps the cookie really moist. We brought some on our road trip and the cookies tasted great almost a week later.


Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on size
Recipe slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is

  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 6 tablespoons chunky peanut butter, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
*Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare two baking pans with parchment paper or silicone liners and set aside. 
*In large bowl, combine sugars, butter, and peanut butter. Whisk in egg yolk and vanilla until smooth.
*Add in mashed banana.  
*Gradually add in flour, baking soda, and salt. 
*Fold in chocolate chips. 
*Form dough into even sized balls and place them into the baking sheet about 2 inches apart. 
*Bake for 12-15 minutes or until center has set. 
*Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving them to cool on a baking rack. 
*Store in an airtight container for up to 6 days.


Double Chocolate Chip Cherry Cookies

I’m back in SF! Finally.

It’s been awhile. I almost had to remind myself how to get to work. After I left Dili, I headed to Guam and Tokyo. I am still sorting through the photos so I will post them soon. In the meantime, I figured I should write about food since I’m afraid this blog is looking like a travel blog lately. (Hopefully I’ll be grounded for the foreseeable future so I can catch up on some baking and recipe development!) Anyways I saw these Double Chocolate Chip Cherry cookies from Good Things Grow and thought they would be perfect to bake.

Beware, they are very chocolatey (which apparently is not a real word).
I did make a couple adaptations. Instead of using whole wheat pastry flour I used a combination of buckwheat and almond flour to make these cookies gluten-free. Though I think next time I will try using pastry flour or all-purpose flour for a different texture. The sourness from the cherries paired nicely with the richness of the chocolate. Who doesn’t love a well-balanced cookie?

My body is trying to figure out what time zone its in, but other than that it feels good to be back. Though I do miss the flip-flop weather of Dili and Guam (sigh) – my life is so hard 😉

Double Chocolate Chip Cherry Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
Recipe adapted from Good Things Grow


  • 1 2/3 cups (10 ounces) chocolate chips, divided (I used half of Ghiradelli’s 60% and Milk chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1 cold egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped

*Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners and set aside.
*Place 2/3 cup chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 10-15 second intervals, stirring each time to melt the chocolate. Set aside.
*In a medium bowl combine flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, brown sugar, and cane sugar until smooth, about 1 minute. Mix in the melted chocolate until blended. Add the egg, vanilla, mixing until well blended, about 1 minute. Next add in the flour mixture until well incorporated. Fold in the remaining chocolate chips and dried cherries with a spatula.
*Scoop out a tablespoon of dough and place it on the baking sheets, at least three inches apart.
*Bake the cookies for 16-18 minutes. The cookies should give slightly when pressed in the center. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely. Store tightly covered at room temperature for up to 4 days.


Note: I placed the dough in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to chill the dough before baking since I found it a little too sticky. 

Pecan Shortbread Cookies and the 2nd Annual Cookie Swap

6 days until Christmas. Such a joyous time yet as of lately, I am feeling a bit somber. As I get ready to leave for NY tomorrow to spend time with my family, my thoughts are with the families in Newtown, CT.

Last year I held a cookie swap at my apartment so in keeping up with this ‘tradition’ I hosted another one this year. And just like last year, my dinner the night of the swap was a plate of cookies. It always seems like a good idea at the time…

Cookie spread!

There weren’t as many people this year but we still had a lot of great cookies. We even had our first baby come to the swap! That’s how you know you’re getting older. When babies start showing up at events and you think it’s cool. This year there were Chocolate Peanut Butter No-Bake Cookies, Raspberry Crumb Bars, Mint Chocolate Meringues, Cocoa Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites, Apricot-Pecan Crumb Bars, Red Velvet Cake and lastly, Pecan Shortbread Cookies.

I made Pecan Shortbread Cookies, a super easy cookie recipe I found from Food & Wine. The cookie is nutty and buttery, and not too sweet. It is a departure from my usual go-to chocolate cookie recipes and I really liked how they turned out.

Pecan Shortbread Cookies
Makes about 2 to 2 1/2 dozen depending on size
Recipe from Food & Wine


  • 3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • demerara (or turbinado) sugar


      *Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the chopped pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 6 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool. (Note: Instead of toasting the nuts in the oven, I microwaved them for 20 seconds at a time until I could smell the nuttiness of the pecans!)
      *In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, vanilla extract and salt at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour in 3 batches, beating at low speed until just incorporated. Discard the vanilla bean. Stir in the pecans.
      *Transfer the dough to a work surface and roll into a 1 1/2-inch-thick log. Wrap the log in plastic or parchment paper and refrigerate for about 1 hour, until chilled.
      *Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Spread some demerara sugar on a platter. Brush the log with the egg yolk and roll in the sugar. Slice the log into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart.
      *Bake the shortbread cookies for about 20 minutes, until the edges are golden; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let stand until cooled completely, about 30 minutes, before serving.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies


I am officially in the holiday spirit! I know because:

1. I have watched Elf two times already (and still counting);

2. I searched for the music video “Merry Christmas, And Happy Holidays” by *NSYNC recently;

3. One night I asked Chris to stay up to cut out paper snowflakes; and

4. I am craving peppermint!

I love peppermint even though some people associate it with dental mouthwash and chewing gum, I just can’t get enough of it this time of year.

This weekend was a crazy, jam packed one. It started off with a really big lie. I told Chris we were going to a coworker’s surprise birthday party on Friday night when in reality, the party was for Chris! Talk about being blindsided. Chris had no clue and had the worst ‘surprised’ face ever – it was part shock, mostly horror, and teetering on disgust. It was bizarre and I wished I had a picture to share. Chris’ party kicked off the weekend with our friends from Monterey, Ryan and Maegan, who came up to visit. On Saturday, we explored the Haight and Hayes Valley, and ended up in Bernal Heights at Piqueos for dinner. That night we met some random people from Connecticut when we went to a party at a greenhouse in Berkeley (strange, but fun).

On Sunday, we went to the Niners/Dolphins game. It was incredibly hot outside, and not just for December, but for any day of the year. It was so hot that I could have traded my Uggs, jeans and thermal heat shirt with fleece and scarf for shorts, t-shirt and Converses’. It still blows my mind I can get a tan in December.

Which is why it’s hard to be in holiday mode sometimes since there are no seasons! It helps putting up twinkly lights in your apartment and your snowflakes cutouts on the windows:)

Baking peppermint hot cocoa cookies will also help.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Cookies
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Affair via Rachael Ray
Makes about 3 dozen


  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces (2 cups) semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (about 2 packets) hot cocoa mix 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, cut into 1/2 inch squares
  • About 8 ounces of mini marshmallows
  • Crushed peppermint candy canes (optional)
  • Chocolate syrup (optional)

*In a small saucepan, melt together butter and chocolate chips over low heat. Stir until smooth and set aside.
*In a large bowl, beat together brown sugar and eggs. Add vanilla and peppermint extracts. Slowly incorporate flour, hot cocoa mix, baking powder, and salt.  Mix in melted chocolate. Refrigerate cookie dough for 1 hour to solidify (otherwise it is too liquid to bake!).
*Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mats and set aside.
*Use a spoon to scoop out cookie dough and spread out evenly on baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until cookie tops begin to crack.
*Pull out cookies from oven and place a 1/2 inch piece of chocolate on top of each cookie. Take 4-5 mini marshmallows and place it on top of the chocolate. (You can snip the ends of the mini marshmallows to make them adhere better to the chocolate.)
*Bake cookies for an additional 4-5 minutes, or until marshmallows have softened. Drizzle with chocolate syrup and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy canes if desired.


There’s Nothing Wrong With Excess

You know how they say “necessity is the mother of all invention?” Well to translate this into my world, “excess items in pantry is the mother of baking.” Okay, Einstein’s quote is a bit catchier but you get the gist.

I have lots, LOTS of peanuts and more strawberry jam than two people really need. So I’m playing with the two to develop some recipes and of course test them! The yummy and dangerous part of baking (which reminds me I should go to the gym).

First up are these Browned Butter Milk Chocolate Coconut Cookies with Peanuts and Strawberry Ginger Jam. (Title needs some work and a copy editor). I simmered the jam with whole pieces of smashed ginger to infuse the spiciness of the root. I also browned the butter to add to the nutty flavor of the roasted peanuts. I added coconut milk to the butter to add another layer of complexity. (Though in the end I didn’t really taste the coconut flavor. Next time I might use coconut cream instead for a more pronounce coconut taste.) Then I combined some of the flour with the roasted peanuts in the food processor which smelled really awesome. Next, I mixed the wet with the dry and then at the end, I added chocolate just because. Lastly I swirled in the jam and ginger mixture and spooned the dough onto the baking sheets. Into a 325 degree F oven and 10-12 minutes later, I came out with this:

Chris really liked the cookie and so did my coworker who I gave some to. She’s pregnant and will eat anything but I think she really meant it when she said she liked it. The cookies had a nice peanut butter taste to them despite the lack of actual peanut butter. Also, the ginger flavor was subtle and balanced the sweetness of the jam well. The one complaint from Chris was to improve the appearance. And I agree. The cookies look hand-crafted and rustic, but not in a good way. It looks like they just rolled out of bed after a night with Ke$ha and then attempted to fix itself up in a dark room. But you know what, it tastes really good. I made another batch but with jam just in the middle like a thumbprint cookie.

They look a bit better – like the cookie put a comb through its hair. I’m going to continue working on making them prettier and will report back. Next I made muffins. With the edition of an egg and replacing the baking soda with baking powder, not much of the recipe changed. I finished them off by sprinkling crushed peanuts on top.

They were really moist and delicate. I might add some cinnamon to them next time for more aromatics. Recipe developing is fun! I wish I had more time (and supplies) to do it.

I’m preparing to go to Manila soon. Super excited for some good chicken adobo! In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the nice SF weather. It’s been gorgeous here lately which is rare since this city is mostly covered in a blanket of fog. Indian summer is not a myth after all 🙂

Flourless Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt


There are two things I must have everyday: one is coffee and the other is peanut butter. Days when I do not have peanut butter, I crave it really badly. I swear it’s like crack. I think it might be harder to live without PB than chocolate! Lately I’ve been getting into another nut butter – almond butter. I think they bake up much better than peanut butter. 

These cookies are one of the best cookies I’ve ever had! And what’s even more amazing about them is that I made these in under 30 minutes.

They’re so easy to make since you don’t need to wait for butter to get to room temperature or measure out any flour. 

It’s magic. Or science. I get confused between the two sometimes. 

It was hard not to eat all of them when they came of the oven. These cookies are to die for. Because I used chunky almond butter, my cookies had pieces of almond in them which added a nice crunch. The sea salt makes a nice touch if you have any on hand. I love combining salt with sweets especially chocolate since the salt heightens the flavor. My friends sure enjoyed them!

Flourless Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
Recipe adapted from
Makes about 18-24 cookies


  • 1 cup almond butter (I used crunchy and unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • sea salt (optional)

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking pans with parchment paper or silicone liners and set aside.
*Mix first 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Fold in chocolate chips until combined. Drop batter by the spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets about 3 inches apart. Press down slightly. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt if using.
*Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on sheets for about 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
*Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Note: Depending on the size of your cookies, you can get as much as 24 cookies out of this batter. I made my cookies slightly larger and yielded 19 cookies from this recipe. These cookies were done for me in 12 minutes. I noticed when I put them on the top rack some of them were burned so I baked the second batch on the bottom rack.