Gooey delicious. Thank me later.

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Brownieeeeessss!!!!

These are as different as can be from the sweet potato brownies I posted not too long ago—if you like fudgy, dense deliciousness, these are for you. Prepare to have your tastebuds assaulted (in a really good way, obviously).

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I happen to be writing to you from my little vacation in Oregon! I’m currently very much enjoying some drizzly, wet weather (thanks for the welcome back, Oregon, it wouldn’t feel quite right if I wasn’t slightly damp) and taking a break from my horrifically boring online bio class. Snooooze. On the plus side, I will be doing nothing much besides eating for the next week. ALL the food… ALL the time. It’s too bad I couldn’t rent an extra stomach or something to go on vacation, you know? Someone should come up with that.

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Anyway. Pumpkin brownies. It’s fall, therefore there is absolutely NO excuse necessary to put pumpkin in EVERYTHING.

Like these.

Mmm.

Complete with gooey, delicious frosting.

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AND…..

Even better… these are good for you (or at least less bad than usual, and nutrient dense)!! Refined sugar free, grain free, and full of antioxidants (hello, super dark chocolate and pumpkin, I’m looking at you). They even have a bit of protein from the almond butter, so really, what more could you ask for?

Find some rainy weather, pop these babies in the oven, and eat them with company. Life is always a little better with a brownie, don’t you think?

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Fudgy Pumpkin Brownies

Recipe only slightly adapted from Specialty Cake Creations, here! Makes one 8 or 9″ pan, or anywhere from 9-16 brownies, depending on how hungry you are… Refined sugar free, gluten free, grain free, and dairy free!

Brownies:

  • 4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (I used Ghiradelli 100% unsweetened)
  • 1.5 tbsp unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/2 c raw, unrefined honey
  • 3/4 c pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Frosting:

  • 1/8 c unsalted almond butter
  • 5-6 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375, and line an 8 by 8 or 9 by 9 pan with parchment paper. I used a 9″ pan and they were fine, just a little thinner.

Melt chocolate, coconut oil, and honey together in a mediumish bowl (on the stove if you’re slightly less lazy than me, I used the microwave…). Stir until combined. Whisk in pumpkin puree and egg. In another smaller bowl, stir together almond flour and cinnamon, then toss that into the melted deliciousness of chocolate and pumpkin. Stir together until just combined.

Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan, smoothing the top just a bit. Bake for just about 30 minutes (a tester should come out clean), then let cool before frosting.

In a small bowl, whisk together almond butter, pumpkin, pie spice, and maple. Adjust for taste!

Spread that goodness on your cooled brownies, and then find someone to share them with. Brownies are definitely better with company :)

[These keep best in the fridge!]

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Cookie Monday

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Cookie Monday.

Because, honestly… Mondays. Ugh. Today was an alarm goes off, I turn it off, roll over and promptly ignore it while carrying on a ridiculous conversation with myself about why I should get up morning. Or not. Not won and I spent and extra half an hour in bed. I am SO ready for this time change, I do not relish getting up in the pitch blackness of ugh.

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At least if you have cookies, Mondays are slightly better. Not that I have these, mind you, I made them last Wednesday and they were eaten in… six hours.

Yeahhh. Hello small batches and starving post-spin class family, bye bye cookies! At least they were a decent post-spin meal, what with having good fats and being refined sugar free and all that. You know, business as usual around here in the hippie natural food universe…

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Also. My lovely neighbors dropped off a bag of pomegranates and they’re GORGEOUS so I’m including photos for your fall pleasure. This is my favorite time of year!

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So now it’s Monday and I’m tragically cookie-free, but lucky for you, I hand deliver cookies to your inbox! Happy Monday, even if they’re virtual. Toddle off into your kitchen and you can have these for yourself in less than half an hour, which would a) make your Monday better, b) prevent bart strike angst by giving yourself something far more productive than work to do (who needs to commute, anyway?), and c) give your body what it wants while tricking your brain into thinking you’re eating something decadent. Everybody (stomach gremlins included) wins!

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Two types of cookies for you today: I made a half batch of each since I couldn’t decide which one I wanted to make more. Life is full of such complicated decisions…

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Quinoa Date Cookies

Lightly sweet, chewy, and thick. These are delicious warm or room temp, and if you make a half batch as I did, you should come out with about 8. Gluten free and refined sugar free. As posted, this makes 8 cookies—double for a full batch! Recipe only slightly adapted from Sweetest Kitchen, here!

  • 1/2 c sprouted quinoa flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp organic cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c dates, pitted
  • 1/8 c coconut oil
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 squares super dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt. Using a food processor (or alternatively an immersion blender—-this is what I did as I didn’t feel like doing extra dishes, but it works slightly less well), puree dates. Add in coconut oil, egg white, and vanilla, and stir to combine. Add wet into dry, and stir in chocolate pieces. The dough will initially seem dry, but keep stirring and it’ll incorporate. Drop by the spoonful onto your prepared cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake for about 10 minutes, until firm to the touch and slightly browned.

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Almond Butter Pumpkin Cookies

Mine came out very soft and flat, with a bit of a gooey consistency (likely the result of too much flax egg, but I don’t care—they were delicious!). Gluten free, vegan, and refined sugar free. Wheeee! Again, I made a half batch of 7 cookies. Double for more! Recipe from the awesome blog Mangia, here!

  • 1/4 c pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 c maple syrup (I use organic grade B)
  • 1/4 c unsalted almond butter
  • 1/2 tbsp ground flaxseed+1.5 tbsp water (1/2 a flax egg)
  • 1/4 tsp (runneth over) vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1-2 squares dark chocolate, chopped (I used a mexican stone ground vanilla chocolate, so delicious)

Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine flax and water and let sit aside.

In a mediumish bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, maple, almond butter, flax egg, and vanilla. In another smallish bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, spice, and baking soda. Dump dry into wet and stir to combine (cookies are maybe like the most wonderful, easiest thing ever), toss in chopped chocolate, and drop by the spoonful onto your cookie sheet. Bake for 10-13 minutes—I checked mine at 10, but let them go closer to 13. Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few minute (almond flour is delicate), then remove to a cooling rack.

I’m sure these store well, but I had absolutely no opportunity to test this as they disappeared the day I made them. Ah well, cookies are best fresh ;)

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Cookies that play nice in the sandbox

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OoOooOOOOooohhhh the first of the fall baking has arrived!

PUMPKIN.

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Why isn’t it a year-round thing?? I always think that summer fruit is my favorite thing, but then around comes fall (which happens to be my favorite season anyway) and I get all obsessed with pumpkin. So fickle.

But seriously. Pumpkin is one of my favorite things ever. And healthy cookies are right up there next to pumpkin on the favorite things list, so obviously why would I NOT combine these?! Helloooo.

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I’m going to start my pumpkin hoarding sometime soon…. you know what I mean if you’ve hung around my inbox snark the last several years: come fall, everyyytime I go to the store, I grab an extra can of pumpkin. Can never have too much, right?! … Right. Sorry. I have a problem. BUT. That also means that when everyone else is fighting over the *last* can of pumpkin within a 10 mile radius, I am sitting pretty on my hoarded stash. And can therefore make pumpkin things. All. The. Time. Yep. Be jealous. Or don’t, and implement my genius strategy for yourself… you’ll thank me later.

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These cookies play nice in the sandbox, too, as they’re dairy free, refined sugar free, gluten free, and paleo. Even if you don’t subscribe to any particular dietary theory (like me. I’m an omnitarian), it’s only fair to make cookies that can make nice for other people too, right?! Cookies are meant to be shared. They’re like love, in food form.

Bake love. Share food (preferably with a bestie over tea). Eat. Be happy!

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Pumpkin Cookies

Recipe lightly adapted from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, here! My batch yielded 10 cookies, about 2.5-3″. Paleo, gluten free, refined sugar free, and dairy free! Not to mention full of beta carotene, healthy fats, and antioxidants. How could you pass up these little gems?! That’s right… I thought not!

  • 1 c almond flour/almond meal
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp refined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 c pumpkin puree (Just pumpkin, not pie filling pleeease!)
  • 2.5 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I make my own: 1 tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, pinch of cardamom or mace), plus more to sprinkle on the top of yet-to-be-baked cookies
  • 2 large squares of 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped

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Preheat oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, sea salt, baking soda and 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice. In a smaller bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, pumpkin, honey, and vanilla. Stir wet into dry (and do try to avoid overmixing, we can’t have that…). Stir in chocolate, and drop by the tablespoonish onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkleysprinkle some extra pumpkin pie spice on there because that is an excellent idea. Smooth them out just a little… then pop them into the oven for about 15 minutes.

Let cool on the cookie sheet for a few as they’re soft right out of the oven—they’ll seem too soft at first but they firm up nicely. Store them in the fridge, if they last that long!

Your kitchen will smell like heaven. Indulge responsibly ;)

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Upgrading the childhood favorites, one cookie at a time

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As you can see, I’m having quite a bit of fun riffing on things that I used to eat as a kid, except making them… edible. Because I don’t know about you, but if I try to eat conventional graham crackers now, they taste like cardboard. STALE cardboard… which is about as bad as it can get, in my book.

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So this is fun! Real food ingredients that you can pronounce and have fun eating. Because these taste almost like the “real” thing, but BETTER! Wheee!

Graham crackers. What an ubiquitous little kid snack (um. And adult?! Hellooooo).

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My grandma used to keep them in the cupboard above her fridge, probably because it was high enough up to be out of the reach of small Hayley (though why the baking drawers with chocolate chips and butterscotch chips were at child level I’ll never know—I got really good at swiping handfuls of ‘baking morsels’ every time I went into the kitchen… although sometimes it was with my grandma’s consent, ha). Anyway. She ALWAYS had graham crackers. And I loved them. Crunchy-soft, subtly sweet. Besides that, I have called my grandma Gram for as long as I can remember, and gram=graham! Get it?? Like Gram Crackers? The crackers that Gram always has? Do you see? Perfect.

My dad and I used to eat them for lunch sometimes with milk. We’d get out a really nice plate, put a glass of milk in the center, and then break up about two sleeves worth of crackers nicely and place them around the edge of the plate. And then sit outside, preferably, in the sun, companionably dipping graham crackers.

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Middle school meant that I was obsessed with the cinnamon graham sticks, except my mom would never buy them (actually… thanks mom! In retrospect that was an excellent choice you made), so I would always eat them over at my friend’s house… with applesauce. For some reason that was our thing and we would literally go through a box in one sitting. Whoops. I do have to say, they were startlingly good dipped in applesauce. Weird.

Later in life (ie college) I started buying organic ones and eating them with nut butter and dark chocolate for dessert. Sort of like a deconstructed s’more, except better as I don’t care for marshmallows… so this just leaves you with the good parts… carbs and chocolate! Yessss.

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SO anyway. Lots of good memories associated with these little guys, besides the fact that I like the way they taste. BUT. I don’t really like that they come in a package, even if they are organic. SO. I’ve started making my own! It’s WAY more fun, AND I know exactly what’s going in them. Solving for nostalgia and taste, all in one fell swoop.

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Milk in a shot glass. So classy.

Homemade Graham Crackers

Recipe from Salt&Smoke, here! I adapted it only very slightly. I made two batches, one with coconut oil and maple syrup, and one with butter and honey. The butter ones browned a slight bit more, due to the honey, but they’re both delicious. I think the coconut oil one is actually my favorite—you can’t taste the coconut, but something about the almond flour/coconut oil/maple/vanilla combo really tastes like graham crackers to me. I think my next project will be adding cinnamon to the batter, to make cinnamon crackers!!

I got a yield of 20 from the coconut oil batch, and 23 from the butter batch. They’re about 2″ by 2.5″ (ish).

  • 1 c almond flour
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2-1 tsp sea salt (I used fine grain with 1 tsp, if you’re using coarse, use 1/2!)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 5 tbsp refined coconut oil or butter (I used unsalted)
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • a small splash of almond extract*

*I only used the almond extract in the butter/honey version, and to me it is barely noticeable

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl, and stir until combined. In a small bowl, combine coconut oil or butter, and maple or honey, and microwave (I’m lazy—you can also use a saucepan) until melted and combined. Stir in extract(s). Pour wet into dry, and stir until mixed.

Roll dough out between two pieces of parchment paper, approximately the size of your cookie sheet. I rolled mine out to about 1/8″ thick—-go thinner if you want really crunchy cookies. Score into rectangles using a butter knife, then get fancy and poke little holes in the tops with a fork (because graham crackers aren’t complete without fork marks, duh). I trimmed the excess dough off the edges and re-rolled it into more squares and a few circles.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, until lightly golden. I took both batches out around 13, let them cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then moved the parchment paper to the cooling rack.

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Fig Newtons don’t have figs in them… do they?!

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I’m pretty sure everyone has a fig newton memory.

Not necessarily a good one, mind you, but I’m sure there’s at least one stored away in those memory banks. Mine happen to be a positive ones… I looooved those little figgy cookies growing up. I liked to eat around the cakey outside first, and then eat the middle with tiny little nibbles (Strangely enough I did that with Madeline cookies too, I see a trend here?!). But probably if you’d have asked me if I liked figs, I would have turned my nose up in an unbridled look of disgust. Because I did I associate figs with fig newtons? Absolutely not. Does a fresh fig taste like the interior of a fig newton? Um… no.

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Luckily for me, liking figs had nothing to do with liking fig newtons. I was fairly well supplied with fig newtons as a child, and even into college when I became obsessed with the Whole Foods version of “healthier” figgy bars (and my mom would nicely send a box of them in my freshman care packages). I’m pretty sure I hadn’t eaten a real fig until I was (gasp) OUT of college. Whoops. Definitely didn’t do that on purpose. Hey, in my defense, I didn’t cross paths with figs very often (until now).

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Oh fig newtons, how full of processed crap you are! I want to like them from a nostalgic point of view, but seriously?! I tried a bite of one a while ago and almost spat it out. Fact: they taste like cardboard. Thanks, five kinds of corn syrup… you might enable these to last through the apocalypse, but you can’t make them taste like food! Oh wait. That’s right, they’re a food product, not a food.

BUT!

Lucky for you. THESE taste even better than a fig newton AND they’re made from real food and things you can pronounce. Wheeee!

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Vegan Figgy Bars

I got about 20 little bars out of this, that were slightly bigger than a conventional fig newton. Vegan, refined sugar free, and gluten free. What’s not to like? Oh and right, they’re delicious. Recipe slightly adapted from The Iron You, here!

  • 1.25 c almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4+1/8 c maple syrup
  • 1/8 c refined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c (a good handful) dried figs*
  • 1/8 c lemon juice
  • 2 dates, chopped
  • 1 tbsp peach jam**
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

*my figs were SO dry, they were like small pebbles. I reconstituted them in a bit of boiling water for about 10 minutes, which made them soft enough not to kill my food processor.

**mine was flat peach, raspberry and vanilla (freaking delicious), courtesy of Anna!! Her blog is over here.

In a largeish bowl, combine almond flour and salt. In a slightly smaller bowl, stir together maple syrup, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir until combined. The batter will be super runny, which is okay! Cover the bowl and pop it into the fridge for at least an hour, to let it solidify a bit.

In the bowl of your food processor, process figs until they’re more like a chunky paste. Add in lemon juice, dates, jam, and vanilla, and blend until combined. I tasted mine a few times along the way and adjusted as I went. Set the filling aside until the dough is done.

Preheat oven to 350, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using two separate sheets of parchment, roll out the dough to about 1/4″ thickness. Use a knife to divide it into two roughly even rectangles, then spread the filling down the dough, slightly off center so there is enough dough to cover it back up. Use the parchment paper to roll the dough back over the filling, pressing the edges and the ends together to seal it off. Make them look pretty by smoothing with your fingers (you’re all alone in the kitchen, who’s to see?!)… then pop them into the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until they begin to brown. They should feel slightly firm to the touch in the center when they’re done. Let cool on the baking sheet before moving them, as they’re slightly delicate before they’re cooled. These keep best in the fridge!

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Milkshakes happen.

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Sooo…

I made cookies.

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And then I made a milkshake. With cookies. And Bailey’s.

Yes.

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(This was the other night. And then this morning I went to my favorite bodyrock class and now typing is difficult because my arms are shaky and already sore. Bahahah ooooh I love that class so much! See? It’s all about balance. Milkshakes one day, total and complete ass-kicking the next: this is how I roll)

Be jealous… be very, very jealous.

Luckily I had Vaccuum Vati around to test run the milkshake, just in case it was terrible. Except excuse me?! How could molasses-ginger cookies+ice cream+Bailey’s ever be terrible?! That’s right. It couldn’t.

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The cookies are fabulous on their own of course, and actually rather guiltless (Not that I think anyone should EVER associate guilt with food—I’m just using this as a handy turn of phrase. Food is love! Just indulge responsibly…). They are soft and chewy, with an amazing gingerbready-molasses kind of flavor, and actually really remind me of cookies my grandma used to buy when I was a kid: I liked taking three evenly spaced bites around the perimeter of the cookie to make it look like a dress. Yeah. Weird child, don’t even get me started. But whatever, they have a similar taste profile, at least as far as I remember. Apparently all my memory cells regarding that particular memory are taken up with the three evenly spaced bites (I don’t even remember what brand they were…).

Anywayyy, moving on. Make these! Your body will thank you for the nutrients, and your brain will thank you for tricking it into thinking you’re totally indulging. When you’re really not. Unless you choose the milkshake option, which you totally should. Obviously.

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Molasses Ginger Cookies

The recipe comes from Running to the Kitchen, here! I made only a few slight changes (mostly just flour), but mine did this weird spreading thing. Can’t say I particularly minded, since I obviously have a thing for enormous cookies the size of my face. I got 11 palm-sized, really flat cookies.

  • 3/4 c almond flour (I ground almonds in my food processor until fine)
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 c chopped dark chocolate

These cookies need to chill for at least 2 hours, so keep that in mind before you mindlessly preheat the oven like me.

In a mediumish bowl, combine almond flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt, and stir to combine. In a smaller bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, molasses, honey, vanilla, and egg. Add wet into dry, toss in chocolate shards, and stir until just combined. Cover the bowl and stick it into the fridge for at least an hour and a half, preferably more like 2.

Now you can preheat the oven to 350 (you impatient little minx), and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When the dough is thoroughly chilled, drop the cookies onto the prepared cookie sheet, using your fingers to smooth them into nicer-looking shapes. My dough was very sticky, so I advise using spoons rather than attempting with your fingers. Leave enough space between your cookies to allow them to spread, as mine did—or rather, as mine morphed into a giant cookie amoeba. Ridiculously tasty, but they ended up with some flat edges, hhehe. Bake for 8-10 minutes (mine went for 10), then let cool on the sheet for about 5 before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Store in a plastic container between wax paper to retain their chew!

you see what I did there??
you see what I did there??

If you care to try the milkshake (which you most definitely should…), blenderize a cookie, a few blobs of vanilla ice cream (good quality, please), and a healthy glug of Bailey’s. Serves… one. Don’t plan on sharing: trust me, you won’t want to.

oops, caught in the act
oops, caught in the act

Don’t be judgy, it was delicious!