vanilla bean thumbprints

As the holiday season winds into New Year’s Eve, I know more of you are thinking of starting diets than starting a batch of cookies, but I have a few new recipes from the holidays that are too good not to share!  This first one was inspired by two lovely food gifts from the year – a large jar of demerara sugar packed with vanilla beans, making a wonderfully fragrant raw vanilla sugar, and several jars of homemade jams from my auntie.    I knew I wanted to use the jam to make Jam Thumbprint cookies, a childhood favorite, but I needed just the right cookie recipe.  After a few false starts, I came up with this dough that has the perfect crisp outside-soft inside texture and adds a fragrant vanilla creaminess as a counterpoint to the sweet-tart jam.   Fast, easy, and really delicious, this one is a cookie all-star!

A Fine Kettle of Ish's Vanilla Bean Thumbprint

See those little flecks of vanilla cookie goodness?

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devilishly good

Folks, autumn is upon us and Halloween will be here in less than two weeks.  Why not take a leisurly stroll over to The Year of Halloween and check out my guest post, 5 Spooky Treats for Halloween?  From Living Lucurto’s sweet brains in a jar to Martha Stewart’s shattered glass cupcakes, these are some of the spookiest, ooiest, devilishly decadent Halloween treats around.

Image & Recipe via Living Locurto


baking makes you a crazy person

Since it’s currently eleventy-billion degrees in San Diego, no sane person would be gleefully contemplating turning on the oven and spending a day basking in cookie-fueled heat. Clearly I have the crazy, because the next few days look like they’re going to be a baking marathon and I couldn’t be more excited!

Two projects I’m tackling are treats to pack up and send on a guys get-away weekend, and making another round of gluten-free vegan cupcakes.

First, I’ve been itching to make these Peanut Butter M&M Bars from The Gonzo Gourmet.

Gourgeous, right? Thinking that they will be the perfect send-along treat. Maybe I’ll mix things up and make a few with Reese’s Pieces for my fellow peanut butter fiends. Can’t wait!

As for the cupcakes, I love making things for my friends with dietary restrictions. Sure, it’s easy to whip up a batch of flour-butter-egg goodies, but a little extra time and effort can often yield a batch of deliciousness that’s all the more meaningful to someone seldom able to indulge in treats. I’ve been playing around with some recipes and resources to make gluten-free, vegan cupcakes for a special occasion. My first batch yielded these dark chocolate cupcakes with chocolate filling, topped with “butterscotch” mousse, caramelized sugar, and smoked sea salt.

The flavor was great, but (as usual), I didn’t write much down so need to re-make it a few times to check quantities and technique for the big event. And I always figure that, as long as I’m making another batch, I might as well tinker with it a bit. I originally used a GF mix (with some tweaking) for the cake, but I’ve been eyeing this slightly more complex chocolate cupcake recipe from Gluten Free Girl. So dark. So chocolate-y.

Next step: to the ovens!

chocolate cookie love

Lately I’ve been experimenting with chocolate cookie recipes.

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