Inside the Baker’s Kitchen: Ginger Molasses and Dark Chocolate Cookies

molasses cookies

Molasses Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello friends!  It’s time for our third and final installment of Inside the Baker’s Kitchen with KitchenAid!  I want to show you my very favorite kitchen appliance, and also make my favorite spicy, sweet molasses cookies. 

This 5 qt. KitchenAid® Stand Mixer  is where luxury meets necessity in my kitchen.  I use it for everything from cake batters to bread loaves.  It’s just a work-horse.  The hum of this stand mixer of is exactly familiar to me… and it usually means cookies are in my future.  KitchenAid now has beautiful ceramic bowls to use with the 5 qt. stand mixers.  They’re beautiful, durable, and feel so special in my baker’s kitchen.  Really the most special thing!  

Molasses Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy edges, soft and cakey centers.  Holiday spiced, dark chocolate studded, utterly perfect because they’re cookies.

Naturally they’re topped with just a touch of sea salt.  Sweet meets salty meets perfect all around.

For more Baker’s Kitchen inspiration:  Sweet and Savory Buttermilk Biscuits and Creamy Spiced Squash Soup with Parmesan Thyme Popovers.

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Butter Walnut Cookies

Butter Walnut Cookies

Butter Walnut Cookies

Cookies for the sake of cookies, for the sake of December, for the sake of Christmas, and just so we can stand at the kitchen counter and count how many of these warm, nutty, powdered sugar bites we can shove into our mouths.

The answer is 3.5.  That’s how many cookies fit in a mouth.  Be careful.

I’m thinking about upcoming holiday parties, possible cookie swap situations, and general winter cookie desires.  These buttery walnut bites totally fit the bill.  Tender, crumbly, two-bites, powdered sugar clouds.

Butter Walnut Cookies

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Pumpkin Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Pumpkin Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies (10)

Pumpkin Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies (9)

My food brain dreamed up these shortbread cookies with creamy pumpkin caramel back in June when the rest of you were thinking about watermelon and Jell-O shots, and bikini tops, and summer sunsets, and all of the amazing summer things.  I was sweating it out in my kitchen, covered in pumpkin puree, completely confused by the smell of holiday spices.

It’s about time these cookies make sense!  I mean… I’m wearing a scarf for goodness sake.  A scarf!

better homes and gardens

I made these cookies back in June for this month’s Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  These cookies are just one of a good handful of pumpkin recipes that fill the pages.

All I’m saying is… this is really good news on the pumpkin front.  Because there is a pumpkin front…. we’re looking right at it.

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Candy Bar Cookie Bars

Candy Bar Cookie Bars (7)

Candy Bar Cookie Bars

This is me finding a solution to your Halloween candy dilemma.  It’s a problem, right?  I mean… how are we supposed to live surrounded by the mini Snickers bars?  It’s entirely distracting. Snickers breakfast lunch and dinner.  Let’s not talk about it.  Instead, let’s add butter and flour and disguise our Halloween stash into chewy sweet and salty cookie bars… all suited and booted for sharing and giving.

Suit and boot.  That’s what we do around here.

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Vanilla Bean Confetti Cookies

Vanilla Bean Confetti Cookies

Vanilla Bean Confetti Cookies

Six years in and I feel like throwing confetti (on my cookies)!  Thank you for your patience this weekend as my site was down to launch this new look.  That that you’re here and I’m here… why not take a look around… beats awkward eye contact.

Here (pretend I’m pointing) you’ll find cookies.  Not just any cookies, but the most colorful and buttery delicious cookies I could dream up.  This recipe happens to be from the cookbook I wrote that comes out TOMORROW!  You can still pre-order the book and receive a lovely print.  It’s not too late and you might be surprised by my stamina when it comes to pestering.

Vanilla Bean Confetti CookiesUp at the top you’ll find a navigation bar that will take you to the many many recipes on the site, the cookbooks, the podcasts, and Bonkers Awesome videos.  It’s all there!

If you’re looking for New Orleans recommendations, click on the pretty water in the sidebar.

The site is not aaalll that different from our previous arrangement.  I want this still to be a place that feels familiar, delicious, and easy to navigate.  Big up (like, the biggest) to Kristin and Leah for making website dreams come true.

Tomorrow I’m going to be back yelling (probably literally) about Homemade Decadence.  Thank you in advance for understanding.

I love you.  Don’t make it weird.

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Dipped + Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate-Dipped Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate-Dipped Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

Some things change:  the city I live in / the friends I visit on a lazy weekend / the view from my living room window / my mega longing for California Mexican food / the frequency with which I eat fried oyster po’boys.

Some things stay the same:  the endless amount of cookies coming from my oven / my desire to eat every doughnut in town (any town) / my fear of spiders large and small / the hope that you’ll invite me to your house so I can share this giant batch of Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies with you and maybe make a few new friends in the process.

Dipped Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

Crisp.  Golden.  Peanut Butter-y Cookies.  AKA  How To Make New Friends And Not Be A Weirdo At A Pool Party.

Edible social tools are my specialty.

Dipped Crisp Peanut Butter Cookies

I wasn’t sure how to tell you that I have a brick-red wall in my dining room so I just took a picture of it.  Ok?  Ok.

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Cherry Pie Bars

cherry pie bars

cherry pie bars

I was standing in line at the corner store just trying to be still.  I’m pretty sure I was a ticking time bomb and the slightest nudge would have been catastrophic.

I had just walked half a mile with my groceries from a place that sells groceries to a corner store for a small bottle of tequila (for a recipe, so what!?) and to say that I was hot would be an understatement.  I was steaming.  The back of my hands were sweating.  I mean… the back of my hands!

The man in front of me was diligently swiping his payment card and pressing the appropriate buttons when a woman entered the store just audibly exasperated.  She was hot, too.  I’m not sure of the exact status of the back of her hands, but I’m guessing… sweaty.  The man in front of me looked up from his task and said to me, “Remember May in August”.

More steam rose from my head.

I’m not sure what kind of pleading panic look my eyebrows betrayed but he also said, “It’s hot, but it’ll be ok”, and then walked out with his groceries.

So… I guess summer is coming.  I should hydrate.  I should also buy more tequila.

I want to honor summer by adding cherries to my kitchen, but it feels like it’s just a little too soon considering that a) cherries are still about a million dollars per pound, and b) I’m afraid that pitting super expensive cherries is just not worth the hand sweats.  Also.. ew!

Cherry Pie Bars // joy the baker

Here’s our ode to summer featuring frozen cherries.  They come pre-pitted and the excess cherries can be used as an ice pack to beat the heat.

I’m afraid this isn’t going to be the last time we talk about the weather.  It’s so real.

Cherry Pie Bars // joy the baker

Let’s get at this quick!

Our butter is melting. I’m not even kidding.

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The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER

I grew up in a ‘because I said so’ household.

“Why can’t I have an Easy Bake Oven?”, I no doubt said in the whiniest voice ever.  “Because we have a real oven and because we said so!” was likely the answer from my very reasonable parents.

“Why can’t I wear these filthy overalls and Nirvana inspired grunge flannel to church!?”  I’d ask my mom as we were rushing out of the house, almost late for service.  “For so many reasons, but mostly because I said so!”.  Thank goodness for mothers.

“Why can’t I drive a car like all of my friends who have cars that their parents bought them to drive!?”  Gah… what a brat I was.  My parents response was likely somewhere along the lines of, “You’re crazy.  You’re lucky there’s food in the fridge for you to eat.  You’ve only been on the planet for 16 years and we care too much about you, and our cars, and about other people on the road to ever merge the three.  Also BECAUSE WE SAID SO! Get out of our faces starting now. ”  Thanks parents.

In that vein, I bring you the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER… because I said so (and also because of browned butter).

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER

I think I’ve posted this recipe on my blog before, but I’ve found a renewed spirit for these cookies after my friends at King Arthur Flour put these Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies to the test.  They asked, in step-by-step pictures of butter melting and flour whisking, if these cookies were the very best there are.  The answer is up to you, really.  Are the cookies that come out of your oven after mixing up this dough the best you’ve ever had?

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Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

double chocolate cookies

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s better to just let it be what it is.

I had every intention of making you a fancy Easter brunch cake… the kind with lemon and lavender and swirly frosting… but as I stood in my kitchen (with exactly zero lemons), and evaluated my desire to go to the store (to buy hella lemons), I thought… can’t it just be what it is?

What it is, is CHOCOLATE.  That’s what I want.  That’s what I need.  That’s what I have in abundance in my kitchen.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

In the spirit of letting it be what it is, I’ve taken all of these photographs on my phone, on the fly.  I also wasn’t wearing shoes and had frizzy hair.  What else is new? Rhetorical question.

I made these cookies for us.  This is that.

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Lemon Raspberry Pie Crust Hearts

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lemon raspberry pie crust hearts

In my house as a kid, where there was pie, there were cookies.  It was a really fortunate, really delicious rule.

My dad would make a pie crust from scratch, roll it out just so, drape it into a pie plate, and trim the edges to help the pie crust fit perfectly.   My sister and I would sit around dad’s work table just itchin’ to snack on the raw pie crust scraps.

The raw pie dough was dough-y, salty, and buttery.  Good… definitely good, but just a bit bland.

We knew that if we just waited a few minutes longer, dad’s pie crust scraps would be sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and baked to a golden crisp. Pie scrap cookies!  Just like that.  Pie and cookies.  That’s real love.  Waste not a bit of butter.

I turned my dad’s pie crust cookies into something heart-shaped and grand.  Skip the actual pie and make pie-like cookies.  Heart-shaped for love.

lemon raspberry pie crust hearts

This is our ingredient list!

Buttermilk Pie Crust- lots of butter, chilled, floured, and easy to roll.

Raspberries- frozen and thawed since they’re out of season these days.  Drained, mostly… then drained again.

Sugar for sweets.  Cornstarch of thickening.

Spices- cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, and lemon zest… which isn’t a spice, but it’s cool.

Lemon Juice- just a squeeze.

Egg- for browning.

Turbinado Sugar- for extra credit.

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Blonde Brownies with Chocolate Chips and Marcona Almonds

marcona almond and chocolate chip blondies

I found this recipe in this month’s issue of Food and Wine magazine.  It was one of those Jerry Maguire moments.  I’ve had these before.  You know… ‘you had me at hello’.  It’s ok.  I can still say that.  I grew up in the 90’s sooooo, just let it happen.

These blondies are studded with dark chocolate and Marcona Almonds.  Marcona almonds come from Spain and are slightly lighter and more creamy than the California variety.  You can usually find them roasted in olive oil and tossed with sea salt which makes then extra snackable.  I love them on top of these brownies because the saltiness balances the sweet of the brownies and the extra roasting makes the almonds dreamy.

marcona almond and chocolate chip blondies

Brown sugar is the base to Blonde Brownies.

Is ‘Blonde Brownie’ an oxymoron?

Brown sugar and butter also happen to be the base ingredients of chocolate chip cookies.  Consider the two to be really delicious cousins.

marcona almond and chocolate chip blondies

It’s time.

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Classic Lemon Bars

lemon bars

Classic Lemon Bars

We all know the deal around here.

I take classic recipes, add chocolate chips, add orange zest, bake them, brown them, stack them, and then shoot them.  I can’t make banana bread without first browning the butter.  I can’t make pudding without adding bourbon.  I can’t make biscuits without adding bacon.

It’s ridiculous and mostly delicious.

Sometimes though… sometimes I just want a Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Sometime I just want a Chocolate Walnut Brownie.  Some baked good should just be exactly what they are, sans bacon, sans bourbon (gasp) (but really though, we’ll survive).

Expect to see more classic recipes on Joy the Baker in the coming weeks.  I’m in the mood and here we are!

Classic Lemon Bars

Classic Lemon Bars:  bright, tart, buttery crust, aaaannnddd go!

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Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I haven’t been feeling at home lately.  I don’t think it’s an issue of physical location… I spend a hearty amount of time sitting at my desk.  I think this might be more of a brain-space problem… my brain is everywhere but in my head doing its job.

I’m not certain how to coax my brain back into the world of now.  I’ve been busying my poor brain with future work, future deadlines, and future anxieties.  The now is certainly suffering in a way that feels annoyingly paralyzing.

Making these cookies came to mind more as a meditation than a treat.  The act of melting butter down into a fragrant amber-colored fat, and creaming it with brown sugar feels like it could lead me home.  Toasted pecans and dark chocolate chunks stud the path.  The smell that fills the kitchen?… Yep, I think it’s working.  I’m finding my way home.

Thank you for being here with me.  Here is home, right?

Editor’s Note (it’s just me, Joy):

-  There’s no way I could mention chocolate chip cookies without mentioning the dad who taught me how to make cookies:  Dad the Baker.  Father’s Day is right around the corner, which makes this week a wonderful time the reminisce about Dad Lessons.  Oh how I need these every single day.

-  If you follow me on Instagram (and I’m super glad that you do!) you may be have seen that this weekend I’m part of a Pop-Up Bake Sale and Shop in Los Angeles.  Just sayin’.  Stay in the know!  

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Mint Chocolate Chip Profiteroles

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IMG_2656

Can we all just stop pretending like it’s easy to take pictures of ice cream?  It’s not.  It’s melty.  It’s madness.  Can we just let it be what it is?  Geez!  We’re not superheros!

IMG_2592

I remember the days when I just ate ice cream… and didn’t take picture of ice cream and then eat mostly melted ice cream.  Those were the days when we just… you know… ate food.  WEIRD!

Nowadays (I love that word, it makes me feel old), I always have my camera with me in the kitchen.  It’s caked in an almost embarrassing amount of flour.  It’s ridiculous and wonderful and I’m glad you’re here to see the results.

Let’s make puffs now.

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Buttered Popcorn Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Buttered Popcorn Chocolate Chip Cookies

There’s a reason my purse is the size of international travel luggage.

I lug around a lot.  There’s my giant makeup bag full of the two things I actually use and the 87 things I sort through in search of my favorite two items.  There’s my camera, because I never know when I want to ignore it to take pictures with my iPhone. There’s a bag of smoked almonds because you do not want to see me hangry.  There’s that calligraphy pen you gave me last week… tucked safely away in a zip lock bag.

There are three pens that don’t work, one pencil, and two lip glosses.  I totally have a band-aid if you need one… I just hope you’re not in a hurry because it will take me a few moments to find it.  Safety pin?  Yes.  Toothpick?  Maybe.  Pair of shoes for spin class? Duh.

You know what giant purses are also great for?  Smuggling a massive amount of treats into movie theaters.  Yea… I’m that girl.  With my giant bag, you’d never know that I’m smuggling a gourmet picnic (with wine).

You’d also never suspect that I’d be smuggling my two favorite movie treats (popcorn and chocolate) in one very snackable cookie shape.  Just for future reference… you definitely want to sit next to me at the movies.  You’ll recognize me as the girl carrying her purse luggage across the aisle.  I apologize in advance.  Have treats; will (most likely) share.

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Black and White Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

black and white chocolate dipped pretzels

I really did have the best intentions this Sunday.  I had a whole list of tasks I wanted to accomplish from unpacking my travel luggage to, you know… organizing my belt drawer and other such Sunday tasks.  The best of intentions, really.  Truth is I spent much of the day melting white chocolate, dipping pretzels in white chocolate, and standing in the kitchen eating melted white chocolate with a spoon… I was staring at the wall eating melted chocolate with a spoon(!!!!).

If I could hide these dipped pretzels from myself, I would.  Be warned/send help.

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Maple, White Chocolate and Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

maple, cherry, white chocolate and oatmeal cookies

Alright Alright Aaaalllllright!  This whole 2013 business is real.  There’s no denying it.  We’re seven days in… and there’s just no stopping this year from happening.  That, in fact, is a total blessing.

January is such a strange month.  I can’t be the only one that thinks so.

Half of my friends are majorly enthusiastic about their New Year’s resolutions.  I am in total support of this… I’m just bummed that we can’t have drinks because they’re on a juice cleanse.  Half of my friends are freaking out about Valentine’s Day, and I firmly believe that it’s a) TOO SOON, and b) we’re totally too old to freak out about that holiday.  The last half of my friends (because I have three-halves of friends) are so majorly task driven that they’re emailing the world into oblivion.

In other words… help!  Where is the room for cookies in this odd summation of friends?

I’m glad you’re here.  Let’s just take this goodness in together.

ps.  HAPPY (dang) NEW YEAR!

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Red Velvet Black and White Cookies

red velvet black and white cookies

I’ve been feeling pretty nostalgic lately.

I’ve been feeling like there are some really awesome recipes living on this blog that might suffer from a bit of neglect.  It’s just the neglect of time, really.  A few weeks ago I brought my Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars back to life with the aggressive use of pecans and oat streusel.

This week I’m feeling out these Red Velvet Black and White Cookies.  I first made these four years ago and I totally think it’s time for a re-do.  Oh, and if you’re going to try and tell me that all things red velvet are soooo 2009… well, you might be right but I’m going to stick my fingers in my ears and hum loudly so I can’t hear you.  Sorry.

These cookies are cakey tender, as festive as the day is long, and happily smeared with vanilla cream cheese frosting and dark chocolate glaze.  I’m proud of how they’ve grown and who they’ve become as cookies…

with ina

I’m actually so proud that I took them to Ina Garten’s house, bamboozled her into being my friend, and took cellphone pictures to prove it (because we all know that if you didn’t Instagram it… it didn’t really happen).  I’ll elaborate on this totally amazing nonsense in just a moment.

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Vanilla Almond Orange Cloud Cookies

almond cloud cookies

November is a month that always makes my head spin.  I feel like I’m barreling full force into the holidays, into the end of the year, into planning my life for the next year, into trying to keep my act together and my sore throat at bay.

I only wish November came with a tally of the year… just a little list that could tell me what has gone down in my year so far.

I don’t need an update on my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012… we all know those were shot to hell somewhere around January 18, 2012.  I want a tally more along the lines of:  How many times I used the word ‘bonkers’.  How many cookies I stress ate in my car.  How many times I’ve walked around town with either a pound of butter, or a bag of brown sugar in my purse.  How many times I’ve Googled the same word to spell check it.  You know… the important things.  The things that really tell you how you’re living in your everyday.  Quirky, cosmopolitan, and resourceful… right?

The November days are ticking away quickly. December will come and go in a blur of cranberries and Mariah Carey Christmas CDs.  Before we know it we’ll be pushing someone in the frigid pool at the New Year’s Eve party.

For now… while we have this simple and quiet November 13th… let’s just enjoy these (or really any) cookies, close our eyes and tally the year’s ridiculousness.

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Creamy Pumpkin Pie Bars

creamy pumpkin pie bars

Every once in a while, a recipe deserves a re-do.  I originally posted this recipe in the Fall of 2008, just a few months into the life of my blog.  I was trying to figure out my photography style.  I was trying to figure out what  a dang blog was.  I was trying to find my voice on the internet.  I was trying my hardest not to be a hot-mess.

creamy pumpkin pie bars

I decided that this dish is just too good to suffer from hot-mess-ed-ness.  Hot-mess-ed-ness is a real word (mostly because it’s a real thing that happens).  The recipe has a mostly infallible list of ingredients that includes pumpkin and cream cheese.  These are two great ingredients that in combination are utterly lovely and you know… festive!  It has taken me almost four years to realize that these bars was missing a certain sort of… greatness.  I’ve figured it out.  As is the case in improving most things in life.. we’re going to need more crust.  More dang crust!

Let’s do!

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