Category:  Cookies, Candies & Sweets

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Halloween Oatmeal Bars

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Fun Foods, Holidays On October 23, 2015 0 Comments

These oatmeal power bars are a fun treat to make for that Halloween bash! One look at the ingredients and you’ll approve – no sugar or flour. These bars are so scrumptious and healthy that you won’t have to stop reaching for a second, third, fourth … Happy Halloween!

Prep time: 15 to 18 minutes
Bake time: 10 to 12 minutes
Makes: 24 bars

Ingredients:
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup 100% pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted, slivered almonds
2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
2/3 cup raisins
Dash salt

Toast the Oatmeal:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Place oatmeal in an 18 X 12-inch rectangular baking sheet.

3. Toast the oatmeal for about 5 minutes.

4. After 5 minutes, stir the oatmeal – this prevents blackening at the edges of baking sheet.

5. Toast the oatmeal for an additional 5 minutes; stir once more.

6. When oatmeal has turned light golden brown, it is done.

7. If needed, toast the oatmeal for an additional 2 minutes. Set oatmeal aside in baking sheet to cool on counter.

8. Keep oven constantly heated at 350°F.

Prepare the Syrup:
1. In a 1-quart sauce pot, heat together the peanut butter, honey, maple syrup and vanilla until mixture is warm and runny; set it aside.

2. In a 2-quart mixing bowl, combine the toasted oatmeal, almonds, sesame seeds, raisins and salt.

3. Gently stir in the warm syrup mixture until all ingredients are combined.

4. If the mixture is too loose and grainy, add 1 to 2 more tablespoons maple syrup to combine and amalgamate the ingredients.

5. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.

6. Transfer the oatmeal mixture to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

7. With wet hands, pat the mixture to form an 11 X 7-inch rectangle in center of sheet.

8. Using a knife, gently cut the oatmeal mass into 24 bars.

9. Bake the oatmeal bars for 10 to 13 minutes or until they turn golden brown.

10. Set oatmeal bars aside in baking sheet to cool completely.

11. When bars are cool, carefully cut through the squares to loosen them. Serve immediately or store the oatmeal bars in a glass jar in refrigerator.

12. Halloween oatmeal bars will keep, refrigerated, up to two weeks.
Text and Photograph ©2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

Persian Almond Cookies

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets On May 26, 2015 0 Comments

Iran is the modern name for ancient Persia. The people of this culture call themselves “Persians”. I can see how proud they are when they say they are “Persians”, for they stay connected with their great empire dating back to 2,400 years ago. Persia was rich with architecture, visual and decorative arts. And, it flabbergasted its visitors with succulent foods, then and now.

The first time I tasted Persian food was at my friends’ home. My hosts, Elena and Robert, presented an ornate and colorful buffet with an array of freshly-made meat, chicken and vegetarian stews. My taste buds went crazy – herbs, spices, pomegranate seeds, apricots, cherries, walnuts brought out sweet and savory flavors in at least 4 to 5 rice dishes and fish. However, I was most impressed with how Persian cuisine combines fresh fruit, nuts and rosewater in desserts. These ingredients are used in cakes, marzipan, saffron ice cream, rice sorbet and cookies.

Here’s a cookie recipe which I developed by combining almonds, cardamom, cinnamon, butter and rosewater. Once baked, enjoy these with a cup of Persian tea.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes
Makes: 24 cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 large eggs
3/4 cup unbleached, granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon rosewater
1 cup roasted, unsalted, slivered almonds (ground)
powdered sugar (for garnish)
ground cinnamon (for garnish)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease and flour one 12 X 18-inch baking sheet and set aside.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cardamom in a medium bowl and set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl and with a hand mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar and butter on medium speed until well blended.

4. Stir in the rosewater and the slivered almonds.

5. With mixer set on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture (1 cup at a time) to the wet ingredients, mixing well after each addition.

6. Transfer the dough onto a smooth, floured surface.

7. With lightly-floured hands, lightly knead the dough until smooth and uniform.

Rolling Out the Dough:

1. Divide the dough into two portions; set one portion aside.

2. With lightly-floured hands, roll out one portion into a log measuring 10 inches long by 2 inches wide.

3. Cut off a 1-1/2-inch piece and, with lightly floured hands, roll it into a ball.

4. Flatten the dough ball into a circle measuring 1-3/4 inches and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

5. Repeat cutting and placing the cookie dough on baking sheet; space each dough circle two inches apart.

6. When baking sheet is filled, bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until bottoms look light golden brown when lifted with a spatula.

7. After cookies have baked, transfer the baking sheet on a counter; let the cookies cool in baking sheet.

8. At serving time, sift powdered sugar and cinnamon onto cookies.
Photograph & Text 2015 Nancy DeLucia Real

Fruit n’ Nut Oatmeal Bars (Sugarless & Vegan)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets, Fun Foods On November 8, 2013 2 Comments

Do you usually crave something sweet with that afternoon coffee, cappuccino, latte or tea? If you’re like me, then you want sweets at all hours of the day. I created these healthy treats in an effort to avoid dairy products, eggs and sugar.

The moist texture of these bars is derived from the maple syrup and honey. Cranberries, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg are added to make these bars scrumptious, healthy and vegan. Serve these Fruit n’Nut Oatmeal Bars to your kids – guilt-free!

Prep time: 8 to 10 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:
2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash grated nutmeg
1/2 to 3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup safflower oil (this can be substituted with canola or sunflower oil)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8 X 8-inch baking dish (alternatively, you can use a rectangular dish measuring approximately 7 X 10 inches).

2. In a 3 or 4-quart mixing bowl, combine the oatmeal, flour, salt, baking soda, spices, cranberries and walnuts.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

4. Add the oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla to the well in center of the dry ingredients.

5. Mix thoroughly and transfer mixture to the greased baking dish.

6. With your hand, pat down the mixture so that it is even from center to sides of baking dish.

7. Transfer the baking dish to a rack positioned in center of oven.

8. Bake for 25 minutes or until the oatmeal mixture looks golden brown.

9. After 25 minutes, transfer the baking dish to a counter to cool.

10. When completely cool, cut bars to measure 2 X 2 inches and serve.

To store in refrigerator: transfer Fruit n’ Nut Oatmeal Bars to a glass or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. The bars will keep, refrigerated, up to two weeks.

To freeze: transfer Fruit n’Nut Oatmeal Bars to double, plastic, freezer bags and seal completely. The bars will keep, frozen, up to one month.

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Rice-Spice Cookies (Gluten-free)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets On September 6, 2013 4 Comments

A few weeks ago, one of our friends on Facebook/The Kitchen Buzzz asked us for a gluten-free recipe. Here it is – rice cookies with a hint of cinnamon, allspice and a drizzle of chocolate. Please make our Rice-Spice Cookies and let us know how they taste with coffee, tea or cappuccino!

Prep time: 25 minutes (cookies and chocolate drizzle)
Bake time: 12 to 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1-2/3 cup white rice flour (preferably organic)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash ground allspice
1/3 cup granulated, unbleached sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
2/3 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (for chocolate drizzle)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. In a 2-quart mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, sugar and vanilla.

3. Using a fork or pastry cutter, mix in the oil and raisins.

4. Add 2/3 cup water and mix again. If mixture is too crumbly, add 1 tablespoon water and mix again. If mixture is still crumbly, add the remaining tablespoon of water; mix until a dough is formed.

5. After dough is formed, pull off a piece of dough to form a one-inch ball. Place ball on a 18X12-inch baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Continue forming dough balls, spacing them one inch apart from each other on baking sheet.

6. Using a fork, flatten the cookie dough tops slightly.

7. Place baking sheet with cookie dough balls on rack positioned in center of oven.

8. Bake cookies 12 to 15 minutes or until undersides are light golden brown.

9. After cookies are done, transfer the baking sheet to a counter; cool the cookies completely.

Note: Due to the consistency of the rice flour, these cookies have a grainy texture.

Make the Chocolate Drizzle:

1. When cookies are cool, set the chocolate chips in a double boiler and melt. When chocolate has melted, set the upper portion of the double boiler on a trivet, away from heat. Cool the chocolate for 2 to 3 minutes.

2. When chocolate is still warm and melted, but cool enough to handle, transfer it to a pastry bag fitted with a narrow tip.

3. Holding the pastry bag with both hands, squeeze it to drizzle the chocolate over cookie tops.

Cool and serve Rice-Spice Cookies with coffee, tea, milk, cappuccino or other favorite drink.

Text and Photographs ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Passover Amaretti Cookies (gluten-free)

In Cookies, Candies & Sweets On March 26, 2013 0 Comments

Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes
Makes: 28 to 30 cookies

Passover is a holiday celebrated by people of the Jewish faith. It celebrates the great exodus of the freed Jews from Egypt in the late 13th century BC. Passover deals with the last of 10 plagues that God sent over Egypt. He sent the plagues to soften the heart of the pharaoh to free the Jews. But Ramesses II was not to be softened. So the plague with the hardest blow came at the end – on a certain night God was to strike the first-born male child in every Egyptian home.

Moses was ordered by God to instruct the Jewish people to kill an unblemished lamb and to cover the post and lintel of the doorway with the lamb’s blood. “… the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you and the plague shall not be on you ….” Exodus 12:13.

Ramesses II’s first born died. This is when pharaoh finally decided to let Moses’ people go.

The Jewish people left in haste and this means there was no time to let bread rise. The tradition holds that no flour should enter the preparation of Passover foods.

These delicious, gluten-free (flourless) Italian Amaretti fit in with the Passover holiday. Make these and watch them melt in your mouth, just like candies.

Happy Passover and peace to all!

Ingredients:
1 pound almond paste
3 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon rosewater (optional)
Slivered, roasted almonds, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a 12 X 18-inch baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In order to break it up, place small pieces of the almond paste in a food processor and “pulse-blend” until it breaks down; set aside.

3. In a 1-quart mixing bowl, beat 3 large egg whites until stiff. Gently fold in the sugar, little by little. Set the egg white-sugar mixture aside.

4. Transfer the broken-down almond paste to a 2 or 3-quart mixing bowl.

5. Gently fold in the egg white-sugar mixture until combined.

6. Placing a small bowl of cold water alongside the mixing bowl, slightly wet your hands (this will prevent the almond dough from sticking to your fingers) and pick up a small piece of almond dough.

7. Roll 1-inch almond dough balls, wetting your hands slightly in between rolls.

8. Place the almond balls on parchment-lined baking sheet, with 2-inch spaces between each one. Set 2 slivered almonds atop each almond roll.

9. Position the baking sheet with raw Amaretti on a rack centered in oven.

10. Bake Amaretti for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove baking sheet and set on a counter. Let the Amaretti cool for 10 minutes.

11. After 10 minutes, using a spatula, carefully remove the Amaretti from parchment paper and set them on a serving platter. Alternatively, place Amaretti in double freezer plastic bags and freeze up to 2 weeks.

To thaw: set Amaretti on serving platter and thaw about 30 minutes prior to serving.

Text & Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real