Brown Butter, Cherry & Salted Pepita Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Butter, Cherry & Salted Pepita Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Butter, Cherry & Salted Pepita Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. There are times when I’m creating that I find that to be true. I had this cookie all planned out. it was going to use a combo of flavors I loved- cherries, chocolate and pistachios. But have I ever mentioned that little fact that I’m a mom to two young men? Well, I’m a mom to six, but only three are still at home. So, I went to go get all my ingredients ready (big believer in “mise en place” here… never start cooking until you have everything you’ll need ready to go) and lo and behold, my recently bought bag of roasted and salted pistachios were nowhere to be found. That’s where the “I have two young men still at home” seems to have come into play. I have learned that if I have something that is out of the norm for our household, I need to stash it away somewhere where it isn’t found quite so easily. I must not have heeded my own advice in this case because….. no pistachios. Nada, zip, zilch. All gone.

After I stopped crying and making plans to go live on a deserted island in the south Pacific all by myself, I had to reinvent what I had planned to invent. After a search through the cabinets, I found a bag of roasted and salted pepitas. I originally bought them to make my “famous” :-p pumpkin bread. But for unbeknownst to me reasons, I never got around to making any pumpkin bread this past Autumn/ Winter season. The result being that I had still had a full bag of pepitas. So I improvised. And you know what? These are some seriously awesome cookies. You can never go wrong with browned butter anyway… and then when you add in sweet creamy chocolate, tart cherries and crunchy salted pepitas, you end up with a really really tasty treat. I also sprinkled a little salt on top of the cookies. This is something I had never done before myself, though I’d seen it done elsewhere. I figured “what the heck” and went for the whole sweet/salty thing and oh my gosh, it was fantastic. If you’re not sure, just sprinkle some on one cookie and try it. If you don’t like it, just one cookie wasted. but if you DO, you’ll be in Heaven.

You know the drill…. Get to cookin’!

Brown Butter, Cherry And Salted Pepita Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, browned to a golden brown color & cooled
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces dried tart cherries
  • 1 cup roasted, salted pepitas
  • 1 12 ounce bag semi sweet chocolate chips
  • coarse salt for sprinkling on top (optional)
  1. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and brown your butter-  toss your butter into a medium pot. With the heat on medium high, cook the butter (DON’T walk away!) until it turns a medium (dang, I’m using the word medium a lot) golden brown. Swirl the pan a few times to help it along. Have a bowl ready and once it gets to the right color, immediately pour the butter out into the bowl. Let this cool for about 30 minutes before you continue.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cooled butter and both the sugars. Beat on medium (there’s that word again) speed until it is thick and creamy. Add in the egg, egg yolk, cream and vanilla. beat on low speed just until combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Dump this into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until thoroughly combined, scraping the bowl down once.
  4. Fold in the cherries, chocolate chips and pepitas.
  5.  Line your cookie sheet(s) with a silicone baking mat ( like my favorite ones right here )  or lightly grease.  Scoop out large spoons full of dough (about golf ball sized) and shape into a circle in the palm of your hands. Place them about 2 inches apart on your cookie sheets.
  6. Bake at 350 until golden brown and firm on top, about 16 to 18 minutes. let rest on the pan for a minute, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Other than the one or two you snag for yourself to eat all warm and gooey, of course. If desired, sprinkle the tops of the cookies with coarse salt upon taking them out of the oven. If you don’t, that’s cool; they are still some of the most delicious cookies ever.

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Brown Butter, Cherry & Salted Pepita Chocolate Chip Cookies

Brown Butter, Cherry & Salted Pepita Chocolate Chip Cookies

What I REALLY Think Of Valentines Day


Brandied Cherry, Toasted Coconut & Dark Chocolate Brownies

Brandied Cherry, Toasted Coconut & Dark Chocolate Brownies

I’m not a big Valentines Day person. Don’t get me wrong… I enjoy any holiday where you can go to the store and see an aisle set up just for special candy. What’s not to like? But otherwise? Not so much. I think it’s a day where a lot of men (and women somewhat) feel pressured to “be romantic”, “make this a day she’ll never forget”, “buy this, spend more, get diamonds, MAKE HER LOVE YOU!!!!”. And then what happens? You go out, you wait in an outrageously long line for an hour to get a dinner that was haphazardly prepared and served because 99% of restaurant staff absolutely hates working on Valentines Day. Trust me.. they do. By the end of the evening, you’re tired, you’re frustrated and you’re feeling anything but loving towards ANYONE. You get flowers and candy from a man who felt like crap cause he forgot what day it was (“Hello… February 14th, dude… that day meant for lovers world wide to suck up to atone for their sins the other 364 days of the year. Now go buy some dying roses at the grocery store!” hehe) and three days later you have dead flowers and an increasing waistline.

Yeah, yeah, I know. “Cynical much, Janet?” And honestly, it’s not that really. I am a sappy fool. I just don’t want to be EXPECTED to be sappy. Nor do I expect my husband to be sappy because someone, somewhere decided that it was a good day for it. Nope; ain’t happ’nin. So how am I sappy? How is my husband sappy?

I make his coffee at night so all he has to do in the morning when he’s half asleep is press a button. I make baked goods that I know he likes, even if I don’t like them. I give him my last chicken McNugget even though I’m still hungry. I kiss him when he has morning breath. I cuddle at night when sometimes what I really want to do is roll over and read a book, I watch Holmes on Homes when I’d prefer to watch an old episode of Roseanne.

Him? He makes me tea every single morning. Tonight, he is making me grilled cheese and tomato soup because my mouth still hurts from dental surgery. He doesn’t gripe at me when I spend too much at Trader Joes. He rubs my back when it hurts and doesn’t expect it to be anything but a back rub. He gets up with our son (his stepson really; mine biologically) at 6:30 every school day so that I can sleep because I don’t sleep well. He supports, financially and otherwise, my two teen boys even though it’s not his job. he loves my kids as his own to the point that he is not bitching about my daughter and her kids moving back in for 6 months while her husband is in Boot Camp. He was there to hold my hand and help me walk down the stairs when I had my stroke and he still does that when I’m having a bad day physically.

These are my Valentines Day Gifts. I get them every day of the year. I don’t need the calendar and some cheap flowers bought on the fly to know that he loves me. He doesn’t need me in a slinky nighty with a rose between my teeth (though I’m sure he wouldn’t argue) willing to try every position in the Kama Sutra for him to know I love him. We do our damndest to prove it to each other each and every day, in small ways and in big. We talk out our problems, we hold hands in public, we make love when we’d rather sleep, we sleep when we’d rather make love. We share, we love, we STAY… even when it’s not easy. Not just on February 14th.

This recipe makes a large 13×9 pan. Feel free to cut it in half and do it in an 8×8 pan if you’d like. Also, unless you make the glaze alcohol free, this is NOT kid friendly.

Brandied Cherry & Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Brownies

  • 6 ounces dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup brandy (can sub 1/4 cup juice and 1/2 teaspoon brandy flavoring)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried coconut flakes (sweetened or not; your choice. I used unsweetened)
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 stick (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 teaspoons dry instant coffee (optional- helps deepen the chocolate flavor but don’t run out and buy it if you’ll never use it again)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chopped good quality dark chocolate (I used a Trader Joes Dark Chocolate bar, chopped)
  • GLAZE-
  • Reserved brandy from the cherries
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil and then line a 13×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray Sprinkle your coconut in another baking pan and toast at 350 until lightly browned. Don’t forget it in the oven and make charcoal. Don’t ask me why I advise this….ahem.
  2. Meanwhile, put your brandy and cherries in a shallow bowl. Stir to mix and then let sit while you make the brownies.
  3. Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave, using 45 second increments and watching carefully. Set aside.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add the extracts, coffee is using and again mix well.
  5. Beat in the melted chocolate.
  6. In a large bowl, mix your flour, salt, baking soda and coconut. Drain your cherries, reserving he liquid to use in the glaze.
  7. Pour your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients.  Mix just until combined then fold in the chocolate and drained cherries.
  8. Spread mixture into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake at 350 until a skewer or toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean, with maybe a few moist crumbs on it.
  10. Let cool in pan on rack until cool. For glaze- mix powdered sugar with the reserved brandy (that has now been wonderfully flavored with cherries). If desired, add a bit of red gel food coloring to make this pink…pink is always good. Drizzle glaze over cooled brownies 😀 Lift brownies out by the parchment paper then cut into SMALL pieces. Trust me; these are rich.

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(Mine and my husbands song)

“Just One More Box Hon!”

I’ve talked about my dad in here before.  He died in 2006 from complications due to diabetes after having lived next door to me for about 8 years.He was an ornery cuss at times and did things I know he regretted because he apologized many times over for them but he was my best friend nonetheless.

He was generous to a fault and man did he love his food, especially sweets. That man could inhale some sweets! I mean, really. He would buy a six pack of ice cream bars and eat them in one night. Or on Halloween, he would buy a few gazillion bags of candy, ostensibly for the trick or treaters but I still laugh over how the kids got all the smarties or dum dum suckers and somehow, there just HAPPENED to be 14 bags of “the good stuff”, aka mini Snickers and the like, left for him to eat. As a diabetic, he shouldn’t have been eating it at all, but he had no willpower when it came to candy. He would give me that wonderful little boy giggle he had, smile and tell me he would only eat a little this time. My dad was a wonderful mix of a wise man and a young boy all tucked into a six foot tall sweets loving body.

One of the things he totally loved was cherry cordials. OMG, could he eat those like they were going to be going off market any second! He would buy a ton of them when they were on sale at Christmas (as well as 97 other times during the year) and when I would pretend to glare at him as he shoved boxes in his grocery cart, he would laugh and say, “just one more box hon!”

Dad would have loved these bars. He and Russ, my husband, would have been fighting over them because they are one of Russells favorites among the baked goods that I make. Speaking of inhaling… Russ is a diabetic also and is pretty good about not eating the bad things but when I make these, all control goes out the windows. So I don’t make them often. When I do though, I quietly smile over the mental image I get of dad and Russ sitting down together to talk with some coffee and a plate of these Cherry Cordial Bars. I wish they’d met.

This recipe originally comes from I have made some changes over the years but not many.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Bars

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 1 bag Dove Dark Chocolate And Cherry Swirl candies, coarsely chopped (can use the dark chocolate and Raspberry ones too when the others aren’t out, but the flavor will be different)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×9 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Beat until fluffy.
  3. Add in the eggs and extracts.
  4. Combine the flour and baking soda together and mix into the bowl of wet ingredients. The mixture will be thick.
  5. Pour in the cherry pie filling and mix well.
  6. Fold in the candy pieces. Spread mixture in the prepared pan.
  7. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until light brown and the top springs back when touched.
  8. Let cool and cut into squares.
  9. This is a very moist bar, pretty much a cross between a cake and a bar cookie.

The Coyotes Sang For Me And Fall Harvest Cookies

As many of you may know, my family and I recently moved. We had been living for three years in a  house we were renting on a dead end street. This house had a postage stamp sized yard. I mean, really really small. On top of that, it was sloped too deeply to use for anything. Where we are now is a normal sized house… we love it but we also know it’s nothing Earth shaking in most peoples eyes; just a typical 3 bedroom 2 bath house. What really made both of us want it was the land. This house came with ten acres of land. About 3 of it is cleared but 7 of it is forested as it much of the surrounding area. Plainly put, we are out in the boondocks… and we love it. 😀

Some of you may also remember that I have mentioned that I grew up in Chicago. I’m a South Side girl from birth. :-P  Plainly put there, I grew up with polluted Lake Michigan (though I love(d) it anyway), cement as my playground and wildlife that consisted of neighborhood dogs that had a thing for humping everyone’s legs and squirrels that I loved to watch back then and still enjoy watching though they are surprisingly rare around here. THAT was my wildlife hehe.

I’ve lived in Kentucky now longer than many of my readers have been alive (since ’88) but I still haven’t gotten to the point of taking it for granted. Part of this I think stems from the fact that my mother was from Alabama so if it’s possibly for one to be genetically hardwired to love the country, I am a walking example of this. I am so at peace here now, out of the city (such as our town of 17k is), away from traffic and ornery teenage kids skateboarding at midnight as they cuss up a blue streak.

One of the things I love here is knowing that we are surrounded by wildlife. I haven’t seen any yet but oh my, I know it’s there. The other night, at about 3:30am, I was suddenly startled awake from a dead sleep. I had no idea what woke me; still don’t really. Maybe I heard something in my sleep. But nonetheless, I was up for a while as is the norm for me when that happens. So, as I tend to do now, I headed outside. Within a few minutes, I heard it. The coyotes were also awake (it was the night of the full moon funnily enough) and they were giving me a serenade. I stood there for maybe ten minutes listening to their song. Up and down the musical scale it went, giving me chills. I went and got my husband to verify what I was hearing (in theory anyway; in reality I just wanted to share this with someone but had to have a valid excuse for waking him at almost 4 in the morning hehe). He stood with me for a bit but since he was snoring standing up, I had mercy and sent him back to bed.  When I went back outside, I realized that maybe it was time to take my listening back inside. Why? Because the one or two coyotes had increased by at least a few and they had moved quite a bit closer from the sound of it, MAYBE half a mile from the house if that.

I realize that coyotes can be a hazard to other animals and I wouldn’t want to walk in our woods at night. I like to think I have a LITTLE sense lol.. But I will never ever take for granted that I have been blessed to live somewhere now where, in the middle of the night, I am privy to the songs of the night. It was the most eerily awesome sound I have ever heard.

Moving on….. no coyote shaped cookies, no casserole made with coyote meat (ummm; eww?), no twilight themed treats. What I DO have for you is a cookie I created the other day. I wanted something Autumnish (yes, that is still a word because I said so darn it) and I was in the mood for maple… and apples… and white chocolate… and crunch. Lol. They turned out spectacularly if I do say so myself. My husband and my daughter (she was visiting which I love) said they didn’t like the Pepitas but neither of them like nuts and such in cookies either. Not to mention, for someone who didn’t like the seeds, my daughter sure ate enough of them :-P. So here you go… give my Fall Harvest Cookies, chock full of Autumny (yeah that’s a word now too) goodness., a try. I think you’ll enjoy them. Plus there is actually some semblance of nutrition in these :-p

Fall Harvest Cookies

  1. 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  5. 1 1/4 cup sugar
  6. 1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons maple flavoring
  10. 1 teaspoon butter flavoring (sold same area as vanilla extract)
  11. 2 cups peeled and chopped apples
  12. 1/2 cup Pepita’s (do NOT use the salted in the shell pumpkin seeds in these please)
  13. 1 1/2 cups Planters Brand Maple Pecans, coarsely chopped (found mine at Wal-Mart & had been dying to figure out a way to use them)
  14. 2 cups dried cherries
  15. 1 bag good quality white chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli’s)
  • Heat oven to 350. Mix the flour, baking powder& baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
  • Combine the butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until well mixed and creamy.
  • Add the eggs and the 3 extracts. Continue beating until it’s all well mixed.
  • Gradually add in the flour mixture on low speed (unless of course you WANT to be flour covered 😛 ). Beat well until mixture is thoroughly combined. If it’s too much for your poor mixers motor, use those arm muscles and mix it by hand.
  • When well mixed, mix in (by hand) the white chocolate chips, pepitas, pecans, apples and dried cherries.
  • Shape into balls (I am no good at saying “make them such and such diameter so just make them the size you generally make, say, a chocolate chip cookie. Lol. I’m sorry.) and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Because of the apples, this is a fairly sticky dough so yes, you will get goop on your hands 😀
  •  Bake at 350 until top is firm and golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. I cooked some a little longer and while I generally prefer chewier verging on underdone cookies, these were actually good crispy too.
  • Let cool for about a minute on the cookie sheet then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
  • Eat many of these. Feel righteous because it has nuts and seeds and fruit 😛 Go outside and say hello to the night. Smile and feel blessed no matter where you are. 🙂

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Sweets For The Sweet

I’ve mentioned my kids before. I have six. Five boys and one girl. My three oldest are grown and married and have given me five grandchildren. Honest, they started young. I’m really only 29. Honest and truly. Sigh. Not falling for it are you? Moving on… I still have two teens (16 and 14) and a two year old at home. Nice age spacing huh? 😛 It was something in the water. It must have been. By the time my youngest gets out of high school, I won’t be too far away from social security. I think I’ll stop thinking about that though and go look for wrinkles for a few minutes.

Ok, back. Wrinkles glared at menacingly. They’re still there. I don’t think they were impressed.

My teen boys are almost done with the school year. Next Friday is it. Zach will be graduating eighth grade; with honors no less. He’s an awesome kid. Jordan will be finishing his freshman year of high school. Once upon a time, I wasn’t sure if he would even make it TO high school, much less finish a year. Not because of anything due to him, but due to the things he has to deal with on a daily basis. Both Jordan and Zach have grown so much this year in so many ways.

When Jordan was born, he had a Strep B infection and Pneumonia.  He came very close to death and was in the hospital for almost 2 weeks. We started noticing developmental delays when he was about 3. To make a long story short, Jordan has mild M.R., is Autistic, has one hellacious case of ADHD, minor OCD and has had many schizophrenic/psychotic episodes and these have increased as he has gotten older which is fairly typical. He has had more inpatient stays in the hospital for aggression and psychosis than any one boy should have to deal with. Through it all, though he’s not perfect, he stays the sweetest child one could ever hope to know. He would give the shirt off of his back (literally) just to have a friend. He has a warped sense of humor (I have no idea where he got that) and loves his family and his God with all his heart. He can’t decide if he wants to be a forklift driver, work at Starbucks, drive a semi or become a chef. Personally, I think he can be anything. We are hoping he will be able to enter into a live in vocational school here in the state after high school. He will learn to be as self sufficient as he is able to be, learn skills for work and learn things like working with money and social skills. He is sixteen going on eight going on forty and will always be a child in many ways and I hope he knows how much I love him

Zachary was my youngest for a long time. Eleven years almost. Sometimes that shows in the way he acts lol.  However, he has also had to be older than his years so many times due to having a brother with disabilities. You can’t be part of a family with someone who is challenged without it changing you in some way. Except for his first few years of life, he never got to be the baby brother to Jordan and now he is older than him, just not biologically. It hurts me for him at times to think of that. So many times he gets shoved to the side because of his older brothers needs and now his younger brothers needs. But he still laughs, still jokes, still loves to play practical jokes on everyone who breathes near him and has a sense of responsibility, that while he pushes it aside at times because…well, he IS fourteen after all, that would put many adults to shame. He is a gifted student who is always on the honor roll. He can’t decide whether to join the military, be a chef, a writer, an artist, an architect, a lawyer or so many other things that change according to his moods. Personally, I think he can be anything. He is fourteen going on forty and sometimes going on three lol. I hope that he too knows how much I love him.

I wanted to make them a treat today and well, you can never go wrong with cookies. They are typical boys. The second they saw the cookies on the cooling racks, they were beggin for them. I let them beg for a minute…or 15… because I’m cruel that way 😛

I also made a double batch because I know that between them and Russell, that’s the only way I’ll get more than one.

These are wonderful cookies. They are stuffed full of dried cherries, milk, semi sweet and white chocolate chips. They have a subtle almond flavor, a nice chewy bite with a crisp edge and the tartness of the cherries is offset wonderfully by the sweetness of the various chips. You can also add nuts to these but I don’t like nuts in cookies other than white chocolate macadamias so I didn’t. Nuts are good in fudge and sometimes in brownies but they have to stay away from my cookies. 🙂

Cherry Chunk Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 5 ounce package dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add extracts and egg and beat thoroughly
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture and mix well. Add in the cherries, chips and nut (if using).
  4. Drop or scoop by rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 until golden brown, about 14 minutes.
  5. Cool on pan for a minute then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  6. Eat about 6 of these and vow yet again never to look at sweets. Wait until the kids are in bed and eat more. Rinse; repeat.