Strawberry Coconut Paletas

Paletas are natural fruit Popsicles served in Mexico. They can be made with fruit alone or fruit and milk or cream. I made these with coconut milk and just a bit of lime juice to balance the sweetness from the fruit. You know exactly what is in these so you can feel happy to share them with children of any age this hot summer! They can also be made with your favorite fruit or combination of fruit.

You will need:

  • 1 container of ripe sweet strawberries (3-4 cups cleaned and sliced)
  • 3-4 tbsp honey
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (you can add a bit more if you like)
  • 1/2 lime juiced

Step 1: wash strawberries, remove the tops and slice. You don’t have to be careful in this step since the berries will be processed you just want some surface area so the fruit starts to soften when heated briefly. Add clean fruit & honey to a pan or pot and heat for 2-3 minutes just until the fruit gets hot and starts to release some of it’s juices.

Step 2: in a large measuring cup (this makes it easily to pour!) add the coconut milk, the vanilla paste (you can use real vanilla extract here instead but never use artificial because it is made from a wood by product and is not vanilla) and add the juice of a half a lime to balance the sweetness. It really works well here. Stir or whisk to combine.

Step 3: add the hot slightly cooked fruit to a blender or food processor and puree until it is liquid.

Step 4: add the hot fruit puree to the coconut milk and whisk well. The hot fruit will help to melt any coconut solids in the milk and make the mixture smooth. Taste it and if you want to add more honey add it here.

Step 5: add to 2 sets of four Popsicle molds. (these can be found at most grocer stores) Freeze completely.

Get outside and eat it in the sunshine!

Orange Lemon Cream Pie

This is like those Creamsicles you had as a kid. Just a bit tart and sweet. Of course you can change the ratio or lemon vs orange depending if you prefer more of one fruit vs the other! As simple as a Key Lime Pie to make and perfect for a summer dessert. I also use a mild buttery olive oil instead of melted butter cause that is my thing and you cannot taste it so why would I use butter?! Just sayin.

You will need:

  • 1 store bought graham cracker crust – mine was 9 inches (larger than the standard pie shell)
  • 2 oranges (1 zested finely and both juiced = 1/2 cup juice)
  • 5-6 lemons (2 zested finely and all juiced = 1/2 cup juice)
  • 4 large egg yolks (you can freeze the whites for something else later!)
  • 2 cans -14 oz each sweetened condensed milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp mild olive oil (I used Texas Hill Country Sola Stella Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp powdered icing sugar (its fine and has corn starch to stabilize the cream)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste or pure extract

Step 1: bake the pie crust at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes, remove to cool.

Step 2: grate 1 orange and 2 lemons (this zest will be added to the pie and keep at least a bit more to top the whipping cream at the end)

Step 3: juice both types of juice and make sure to remove any pits…or pips as the English say! These are a few different ways to get your juice out.

Step 4: in a large bowl add egg yolks (you can freeze the whites for something else) add the citrus zests and condensed milk, stir to combine. Add juices and incorporate with a whisk. It will come together and thicken. Add a pinch of salt (cause salt always balances the sweet in a dessert like this !) and 2 tbsp of melted butter or a mild lovely olive oil -I have used a Texas Hill Country mild and buttery Sola Stella Olive oil.

Step 5: pour combined mixture into pie shell and bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove to cool. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the top of the citrus curd and once cooled place into fridge to set for at least 4 hours

Step 6: whip cream, with vanilla and sugar until you get soft peaks. Mound on top and add some grated zests to finish! Eat it within a day….if it lasts that long!

Chocolate Almond Olive Oil Biscotti

I always try to replace butter with Olive Oil when I can and most times the swap works out quite well. These rich, deep chocolate, almond biscotti are not too sweet but, the addition of the chocolate drizzle on top made them perfectly decadent. They can be sliced thin for a very dry, hard biscotti, which is perfect for dipping into steaming mugs of hot coffee or make a thicker slice wrapped in pretty cellophane for a special treat.

These are Big Pete approved which is saying something since he is pretty picky.

You will need:

 
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder -best quality
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt – I used a chocolate sea salt but you can use plain as well
  • 1/2 cup Mild Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I used a Oltremonti from Corsica, France
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or pure vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (the best quality you can get)
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • an additional 1/2 cup chocolate chips for melting drizzle topping
Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

 

 

 Step 1: in a large bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Sift the cocoa powder into bowl to remove any lumps. Combine all dry ingredients with a whisk.

Step 2: in another bowl add olive oil and sugar and mix until it resembles wet sand. Add 2 eggs and  vanilla paste if you can find it (regular real vanilla extract if you can’t find the paste) Whisk hard for a full minute. You can of course use a hand mixer but, I like to make it an arm workout!

Step 3: add the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until it gets too stiff then turn out the whole mess and incorporate on the counter.

Step 4: when the flour is added add the chocolate chips and almonds. I basically roll them and press them into a dense paste. Form a log and press top to make a long log. You can make this thicker or thinner depending on whether you want thin slices or think logs.

Step 5: place log onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. You can form the log directly on the paper if you do not wish to move it. If it sticks you can use a spatula to loosen it for moving onto cookie sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes and remove from oven for 5 minutes. (this is what is looks like after 30 minutes)

Step 6: with a very sharp serrated knife saw the logs into individual biscotti. If you do not have a good sharp knife you may want to use sliced almonds in the recipe.

Place the slices on their sides and bake another 10 minutes, then flip over and bake an additional 10 minutes.

In a small bowl over boiling water melt final 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Place melted chocolate in a bag, slice off end and drizzle over tops.

Coffee optional but definately recommended!

 

Chocolate Pear Frangipane Tart

If you have a jar of lovely poached pears this is a perfect idea for using them. Of course you can poach them yourself in some sugar and vanilla. This is a chocolate crust made with chocolate cookies, a nice almond frangipane filling and the sweet pears on top.

Get the whipped cream and a great cup of coffee!

You will need:

  • 2 cups crushed chocolate cookies (homemade or Oreo crumbs)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 5 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 100 grams almond flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 4-5 poached pears (I used bottles pears from a winery poached in vanilla syrup)
  • sprinkle of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of apricot or orange jam heated and strained.

350 degrees F 30-40 minutes

Step 1: take some homemade cookies or you can buy store bought Oreo crumbs already crushed just like Graham cracker crumbs. I placed them in a food processor to crush. Once you have 2 cups add to a large bowl with sugar and melted butter. Mix until like wet sand.

Step 2: butter a tart pan with removable bottom (can be a round pan if yours isn’t rectangular) press in the cookie crumb mix and using a 1/4 cup measuring cup press evenly into sides and bottom of tin. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes.

Step 3: in a mixing bowl add butter and sugar and mix for 1 minute.

Step 4: add almond flour, rum, egg and almond extract. Mix until smooth.

Step 5: take some poached pears and slice into thin slices.

Step 6: layer the almond frangipane over the crust. Place fruit in a pretty pattern over top. Add a sprinkling of sugar over the pears.

Step 7: bake for 30-35 minutes.

Step 8: take some apricot jam and heat in a pan until more viscous and easy to brush. Brush on a bot over the pears.

Slice and serve with some soft whipped cream.

 

Chocolate, Beet and Olive Oil Cake – Naturally Red Velvet!

This cake is good for your HEART and your SWEETHEART!! 

Make it with buttery extra virgin olive oil and beets to replace a bottle of red food colouring and it tastes like…..chocolate cake!! Crazy I know!

 You can top it simply with powdered sugar or a drizzle or even make it fancy with chocolate ganache (which is really just melted chocolate and whipping cream)

It can go from everyday to Valentine’s Day with a bit of chocolate icing.

You will need:

  • 225 grams/8 oz beetroot – cooked and grated/processed
  • 100 grams – good quality dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla (pure never artificial cause that stuff is made from wood! look it up!)
  • 1/4 cup hot coffee
  • 4 eggs (separated)
  • 1/2 cup good Extra Virgin Olive Oil – I used a mild and buttery Oltremonti from France
  • 1 cup flour (all purpose)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 1: Use an 8 inch spring form pan. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan and lock. Butter and flour pan and tap out any excess. Set aside.

Step 2: Boil or roast beets. I used 2 small beets and cooked for approximately 1 hour until tender. Run the beets under cold water until you can handle them and cut off tops and bottoms and  rub off the skins.(PS. if you are lazy they actually sell cooked beets in grocery stores now!) Weigh beets and grate them by hand or just put them in a food processor for a few seconds until they are coarsely pureed.

Step 3: Take a bowl and place over a pot with a few inches of water. Chop chocolate into pieces and place in bowl. Heat pot on medium heat until chocolate starts to melt.Add butter and stir once melted enough to combine.

 Step 4: Remove from heat and add sugar and vanilla and combine.

Step 5: Add hot coffee to chocolate and mix. Separate yolks and whites into 2 bowls. Add the yolks to the cooled chocolate and whisk in. (put the whites in another bowl and set aside) Add olive oil to chocolate and whisk until incorporated. Finally add beets and mix then set aside the wet ingredients.

Step 6: Whip egg whites until light and fluffy (few minutes) and they form stiff peaks.

Step 7: In another bowl  add dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. You can sift if your cocoa has lots of clumps or use a whisk to mix all dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to chocolate (wet ingredients) and stir to just combine with a wooden spoon.

Step 8: Fold in the egg whites until just incorporated and then pour into prepared pan.

Step 9: Bake 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean. Let cool 10 minutes then un-latch spring form pan and let cool completely.

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You can just top with a dusting of sugar or mix the powdered sugar with a few drops of juice or water to create a glaze or make a chocolate ganache icing (which is the simplest icing in my opinion and only has heated whipping cream poured over chocolate chunks and stir…TA DA!!)

and guess what!! it tastes like CHOCOLATE CAKE!!

Shut the front door!!

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cake

When I was a kid I remember having this Lemon Pudding Cake. It came in a box and when you baked it there was a cake on top and a pudding layer underneath. It was the weirdest cake. I have made one here using Meyer lemons. It is more of a kind of Souffle than a cake but, still lovely with a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top.  You have it eat it warm and you can make it in 4 small ramekins instead of an 8 x 8 baking dish for everyone to their own.

You will need:

  • 3 small Meyer Lemons – zested  finely and juiced (pits removed!)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs – separated at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp mild fruity olive oil (or butter melted and cooled if you like) – I used a Mild and fruity Lorenzo Biancolilla Olive oil from Sicily.

Step 1: heat oven to 300 degrees F and generously butter an 8×8 inch glass baking dish or 4 small ramekins if you want individual little cakes.

Step 2: finely grate just the outer zest of the lemons to make 1 tbsp of zest.

Step 3: squeeze the 3 lemons to get  1/3 cup of Meyer lemon juice (watch out for the pits!) I just squeeze over a sieve to catch any.

Step 4: In a large bowl add the dry ingredients: sugar, salt and flour. Mix and set aside.

Step 5: Separate egg whites from yolks. In another bowl add egg yolks, milk, olive oil (or butter) lemon zest and juice. Whisk to combine.

Step 6: Add liquid to flour mixture and combine to mix.

Step 7: Whisk egg whites until you get soft peaks.

Step 8: add 1/2 of the egg whites to start to incorporate, mix and then add the rest of the whipped egg whites and fold until mixed. Do not deflate. The mix will thin.

Step 9: pour into pan and bake until lightly golden 35-40 minutes.

Serve warm – you can also sprinkle top with powdered sugar to make it prettier. Not particularly pretty but, it is delicious.

 

Chocolate Orange Walnut Cake

This cake is moist and decadent and just happens to be gluten-free. It is is also known as a Torta Caprese in Italy. There will be nobody feeling unhappy after a slice of this beauty, I promise!

It has a crunchy meringue like top and the inside is moist and rich. There is a nice balance between great quality chocolate and orange flavours and I simply cannot tell you how perfectly this goes with the soft, slightly sweetened whipped cream! Perfect!

In fact, my husband Big Pete said it was one of the best chocolate cakes he had ever had and neither one of us has a Gluten issue. Those who do will love it because it is not your typical dense gluten-free cake. In Europe many cakes have always been made with nut flour instead of wheat flour.

You will need:

  • 1 cup fresh walnut pieces – which will be processed to a walnut flour (1/4 cup used for dusting pan and rest in cake)**note you can replace walnuts for almonds or other nuts
  • 1 tbsp butter for coating cake pan
  • 1/4 cup mild olive oil or butter which ever you prefer
  • 150 grams of great quality dark chocolate – broken into pieces
  • 4 eggs – separated (room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup whipping cream whipped with 2 tbsp vanilla sugar until soft peaks
  • bit of powdered sugar or cocoa powder to top

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 1: process your walnut pieces for approx 10 seconds – you want a powder but, if you process too far it will turn into nut butter. You can use almonds, hazelnuts/filberts or your favourite nut here.

Step 2: place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of a 9 inch spring form cake pan and click the spring form right over it. I don’t even trim it. Then take 1 tbsp of butter and grease sides and bottom of pan. Remove 1/4 -1/3 cup of the walnut flour and coat the pan – knocking out any excess back into the bowl of the remaining walnut flour to be used in the batter of the cake.

Step 3: add a few inches of water to a small pan and place a bowl over the top to form a water bath. Heat on stove over medium heat to melt broken pieces of chocolate and butter (or olive oil). Let sit over heat for a few minutes before stirring. Once melted remove from stove and pan to cool before adding to cake batter.

Step 4: separate egg whites and yolks into 2 bowls.

Step 5: add 1 cup sugar to egg yolks, orange juice and orange zest. Mix with a whisk or hand mixer for 3-4 minutes this will dissolve the sugar and the egg yolks will become a lighter, paler colour.

Step 6: whip egg whites on high until you get stiff peaks.

Step 7: add nut flour to the egg yolk mix and stir to incorporate well.

Step 8: add cooled melted chocolate and mix well.

Step 9: fold in egg whites with a spatula until just incorporated. Folding is when you cut your spatula into the middle of the bowl and then cut down to the bottom and fold towards yourself, then flip back into the middle. Keep spinning the bowl, cut, fold over and turn…repeat until just blended. You don’t have to be scared or worried about this step just don’t whip it or stir hard or you will deflate the eggs you spent time whipping.

Step 10: Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes. It will puff and then crack and fall a bit.

Remove from oven and let cool at least 20 minutes (it will deflate and crack which is fine) run a knife around cake pan to loosen and unhook. Top with a bit of powdered sugar or cocoa and serve with whipped cream. Stays fresh in a covered container at room temperature for a few days. (I just cover the plate it’s on with the Spring form pan flipped over.)

I like to eat this while slightly warm best but, honestly it is still fantastic a couple of days later!!

Pineapple Banana Bread

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 Instead of just making banana bread why not make banana, pineapple and coconut bread. This is a quick bread you can make with canned pineapple, some shredded coconut and some rotten looking over-ripe bananas. It is moist and delicious because of the fruit and extra virgin olive oil. You can feel good about giving your family a treat that has many good ingredients contained in it. It can be topped with cream cheese icing, a simple glaze like I have made or nothing at all!

You will need:

  • 3 mashed ripe bananas = 1 cup
  • 1/3 cup mild fruity olive oil – I used Amelia Extra Virgin Olive Oil- from Umbria
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp real vanilla
  • 3/4 cup crushed pineapple – I used canned and drained about 2 tbsp liquid for the glaze
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

Glaze

  • 2-3 tbsp pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup icing sugar -I just keep adding icing sugar until I get a nice thick glaze

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Step 1: this is an easy recipe. The wet ingredients are mixed in a blender and then poured into the dry. Start with the bananas added to the blender to puree.

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Step 2: add the olive oil, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla and pineapple. If you are using canned pineapple you can pour off 2 tbsp of the liquid to make the glaze later. Blend until smooth (30 seconds)

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Step 3: butter and flour a loaf pan.

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Step 4: in a large bowl add all dry ingredients (except coconut) and combine with a whisk.

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Step 5: pour in the wet ingredients and gently stir with the whisk until just incorporated. Don’t beat the batter or stir too hard or too long or you will have a tough, dense cake.

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Step 6: gently mix/stir in the coconut until just incorporated.

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Step 7: pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

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once baked allow to cool 15 minutes in the pan before removing to a cooling rack.

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once completely cooled pour over the glaze you made by just adding icing sugar to the reserved pineapple juice until it is as thick as you like.

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It is moist and dense and delicious.

Orange Passion Fruit Rice Pudding for Two

I always find people are reluctant to make a dessert if there is just two people in the house. This is the simplest sweet treat that can easily be doubled if you have a bigger crowd. I love it topped with some fresh fruit, a drizzle of honey and (yes!) a drizzle of buttery mild extra virgin olive oil. If you have ever tried a supreme mild olive oil it has a velvety, fruity taste that perfectly cuts the sweet pudding……Just try it!! I also pour some on my breakfast oatmeal. Leftovers can be made into sweet risotto balls rolled in graham cracker crumbs…like a sweet rice donut.

You will need: for 2 people

  • 1/2 cup of arborio, carnaroli or bomba (risotto rice- short grained)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1% fat)
  • 1/4 cup vanilla sugar (that’s just sugar infused with vanilla beans or you can use regular sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • another 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 ripe peach – peeled and sliced
  • a few pistachios – chopped (unsalted)
  • a drizzle of honey
  • a drizzle of a mild fruity olive oil like a Lorenzo Biancolilla …..if you dare! (don’t use cheap grocery store plain ol’ olive oil here)

Step 1: in a large pot add rice, salt, cinnamon and 1 1/2 cups milk. Let the milk just come to a boil (don’t walk away!) stir and then turn down to the lowest setting and cover. Leave for 10 minutes.

Step 2: remove lid and stir to loosen any rice from bottom of pot. It has to cook on very low to avoid burning. Add sugar, orange liqueur and another 1/2 cup of milk. Mix well to incorporate. Cover and continue to cook on very low for another 14 minutes until it looks like risotto. It should be creamy and thick and the rice should be tender.

Step 3: Place in individual bowls and serve this warm or room temp with some slices of peaches or mango and a scoop of a fresh passion fruit a drizzle of honey and a bit of some great olive oil.

Step 4:  if you have leftovers you can scoop into balls and roll in some graham cracker crumbs, dip in a whisked egg and another roll of crumbs, then fry in some mild fruity olive oil. They taste like a cinnamon rice donut ball.

Chocolate Hazelnut Fudgy Cake Cookies

These are quite simply the best fudgy,chocolaty, cakey cookies I have ever made! They hard on the edges and soft and moist on the inside and they stay moist for days if you should have any left over. There are some very high quality chocolate bars available in your plain old grocery store these days, try a really good bar or two instead of dull old chocolate chips or reaching for the Baker’s chocolate for a really fantastic cookie. Big Pete said he could eat these all day.

Get out a glass of milk and enjoy!

You will need:

  • 200 grams of the best chocolate you can find 70% ( Lindt or similar bars are usually 100grams each and not a bad option but, if you can get something really good try it….it’s only a small amount!)
  • 1/2 cup softened/room temp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1 tsp best Vanilla (never use artificial Vanilla its made from a wood by-product)
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts – roughly chopped (I like lots)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (depending on the chocolate you might need another tbsp or two)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  •  pinch of salt

Step 1: buy some really great bars of chocolate. I bought these in my plain old grocery store in the speciality chocolate aisle (don’t use the Baker’s chocolate or choc chips if you have some better options. This is the star of the cookie and you will be amazed at the difference it will make. Of course it is still a good cookie with any chocolate but….just sayin!!! (look how pretty that bar is)

Step 2: chop chocolate into large chunks and place in a large bowl over a pot with a few inches of water. Allow the water to simmer on a medium heat for a few minutes. Once it looks like half of the chocolate has melted you can gently stir a few times to incorporate. Remove bowl from pot and let cool on the counter slightly. Be aware that the bowl should be bigger than the pot  and you should not get any steam or water in the chocolate or it may seize up on you.

Step 3: in another bowl add softened butter and sugar. You can mix with a stand or hand mixer but, I am lazy and will avoid washing extra things if possible so I just used a wooden spoon and mixed by hand. Don’t worry if it seems too dry, once you add eggs it will be fine.

Step 4: add the eggs and vanilla and beat for 2-3 minutes. I actually changed from a wooden spoon to a whisk at this stage to get it fully incorporated.

Step 5: toast nuts in a dry pan for a few minutes and you can remove some of the skins by placing the warm nuts in a clean tea towel and rubbing them. I take off some of the skins and leave most but you do them as you like. You can be flexible and add a bit more or less nuts. Add nuts and stir into mix.

Step 6: add your slightly cooled melted chocolate and stir to incorporate.

Step 7: add your flour, baking powder and salt and stir until incorporated. It should thicken up enough to glob a heaping tablespoon of thick batter on a parchment lined cookie sheet. If it is too thin add another tbsp of flour until it looks thick enough.

Step 8: with a tablespoon measure out a large blob of batter and using another spoon you can scrape off dough onto sheet. Pile 6 cookie blobs per parchment lined cookie sheet. I got 10 big cookies in total from my mix. Make sure there is lots of room around each cookie.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes (no more) – to make a giant soft, gooey cake cookie. You will think the cookie is not done but, I assure you it is better to under bake a cookie than to over bake it. 10 minutes and you should have a puffy, crackled cookie but it will be too soft on the inside. It will harden as it cools on the tray. Don’t try to remove to a cooling rack, just leave them for a good 15-20 minutes. They will harden up enough to pick up however, they will still be a delicate cookie with a cakey interior. This is also why they should be exactly 1 tablespoon in size – if you make them too big they wont hold together and will just crumble if you try to pick them up. 1 tbsp size =  10 perfect cookies.

You know you are dying to eat one of these!!