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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Mushroom Kale Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Mushroom and Kale Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Mushroom and Kale Goat Cheese Quesadillas

Bloggers can be pretty predictable.  Since it’s December, you can count on most of us writing about tinsel and cookie swaps, peppermint coated this, mulled wine that… all the pine, all the Santa hats, all the sugar spice and nice.

Come January we’ll all be talking about salads and smoothies.  I don’t think we’re allowed to talk about fudge in January.  I think that’s actually against the law.

I have to shake loose from the holidays for a moment.  I mean… can we just sit at the kitchen counter and eat quesadillas for a while and not think about Winter cookies and holiday shopping?  That would be cool.

Let’s do that.

Ps.  The fact that these Mushroom and Kale Quesadillas are topped with sriracha makes them aaalllmost Christmas themed.  See how these holidays sneak in to stay?  Dang.

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Winter Citrus Booster with ginger and sweet potato

Winter Citrus Booster with ginger and sweet potato

Winter Citrus Booster with ginger and sweet potato

Cold season?  Nope.  Not going to do it.  Flu season?  Get right outta here with all that.  Sniffles?  Congestion?  The general drags?  Nobody has time for all that.

To keep the sickness bugs at bay as the days frost over and chill, I’m shoving every whole and healthy bit of produce I have into my juicer.  This version is heavy on the big, bright citrus of Winter, and spiked with spicy fresh ginger.

There’s no way a cold is getting me down.  #knockonwood

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Beer Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Beer Sauce

Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Beer Sauce

My mom had a few predictable and necessary things she’d have to repeat ad-nauseam to my sister and me at our family dinner table night after night.  There was the inevitable ‘sit still and someone please say grace’ followed by something like ‘do NOT kick your sister under the table’ or ‘stop staring at your sister when you know it bothers her and eat your fish sticks, thank you’.

My favorite/least favorite was ‘eat your vegetables, they’ll make you beautiful’.  The vegetables she was referring to were usually barely steamed broccoli or cauliflower served nearly raw (and yes, full of nutrients… which is entirely unimpressive to an eight year old).  If the (basically raw) vegetables weren’t eaten within three minutes of leaving the steamer they devolved into sometime entirely inedible to a child that wanted nothing more than a Happy Meal for dinner.  Eat your vegetables.  They’ll make you beautiful.  Eat them.  Eat them.  No seriously.  Eat them.

We ate them.

What my mom didn’t have in mind is that I’d grow up to simmer my dinner vegetables in butter and olive oil and serve them in a homemade Cheddar Beer Sauce.  I mean… Eat your vegetables!  (roasted and toasted and awesome!) They’ll make you beautiful.  (and so will the cheese sauce?)  Oh man.  Thanks mom / Sorry mom.

Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Beer Sauce

Here’s how this happens.  Here’s what you’ll need:  a big head of cauliflower, a big pot to boil it in, butter, olive oil, lemon, and spice.

For the cheese sauce, all good things which include: milk, butter, beer, mustard, and Worcestershire.

Let’s!

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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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Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

I don’t know whether I should rip into some yo mama jokes, flip a table, or pull the fire alarm, or just stop and shove aaaalll of the fudge into my face.

This fudge makes me feel aggressive.  Like I should beat my chest with pride.  Like I should… maybe I should stop talking.

The thing is… I feel like I made candy.  I’m pretty sure I made candy. Yup, I definitely made candy.  This fudge is the real deal.  No microwave.  No sweetened condensed milk.  We’re using  a real pot, a real candy thermometer, real cream, and we’re twerking sugar and chocolate into fudge.

Why would be so excited about doing something the hard way? Well… I think it’s important to know how to do things the old-school way before learning the quick tricks.  You know… like long division in mathematics.   (Do people do long division anymore?  That was always a special kind of torture.) Maybe long division isn’t the right analogy.  Fudge is way better than long division.

Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge

Here’s what we’re going to need:  granulated sugar and brown sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, half-and-half, salt, vanilla extract, dark chocolate, and just because:  marshmallows, peppermint candy, and pretzels.  Turnt up.

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Kale, Avocado, Tangerine, and Sesame Salad

Kale, Avocado, Tangerine, and Sesame Salad

Kale, Avocado, Tangerine, and Sesame Salad

Forgive me, belly.  I’ve done you wrong.  I mean… I’ve done you so so so right, but wrong wrong wrong.

I’ve done you with too much macaroni and cheese.  I’ve done you with ALL of the gumbo in New Orleans, the smothered greens, the doughnuts, the doughnuts again… I’m sorry.  It was delicious so you’re welcome… and I’m sorry.

You deserve a break.  Enjoy this salad.  It’s just about time to start making fudge.  Hold on tight.

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Apple Buttermilk Beignets and New Orleans Originals

jtb x nydj

Buttermilk Apple Beignets (1)

I‘m really excited to spend my first holiday here in New Orleans.  There’s a chill and a palpable spirit in the air.

New Orleans is such a unique place, it’s only natural that I would want to dive all the way into the holiday spirit here.  I’m hitting the streets to put together a casual holiday gathering with my friends at NYDJ.  In order to make it feel as special as New Orleans, I’m stopping in at some of favorite local shops:  LoomedNOLA for sweet and cozy gifts, Keife & Co for amazing wine, and St. James Cheese Company to make the perfect cheese plate.

No New Orleans gathering at my house would be complete without freshly-fried beignets.  They’re best enjoyed from scratch with your friends gathered around a heaping plate of fresh fried dough and powdered sugar.

I hope you find loads of holiday inspiration here!  Add a little New Orleans spirit to your holiday!

zNola Originals

Loomed Nola is my favorite textile store in New Orleans.  They sell lovely Turkish cotton kitchen towels, scarves, and blankets.  It’s the perfect place to shop for a thoughtful hostess gift or a comfy treat for your best girlfriend.

Keife & Co. is my go-to spot for wine in New Orleans!  Not only is it stocked with really unique bottles, the brothers that own the shop are more than willing to find the perfect bottle of bubbly for your holiday party without totally breaking the bank.  No pretension, just great wine and bubbles!

One of my favorite stops in New Orleans is St. James Cheese Company.  Step inside and the staff will dazzle you with cheese knowledge and let you sample your way through your cheese purchase.  Putting together a cheese plate can feel rather daunting but St. James makes it easy… and it’s always fun to eat all the cheeses before you buy them!

jtb x nydj (3)

I set out into the streets of New Orleans sporting my favorite pair of NYDJ jeans.  Super flattering, fitted, slimming, and real.  They’re perfect for jaunting around town in style and hoping in the kitchen to get down with some beignets.  My style also has to be functional.  I want to feel pretty, stylish, and I definitely need plenty of room to fry up and eat my fair share of New Orleans treats.

This holiday I’ve paired up with NYDJ to bring you flattering comfort, radiant style, and a big bundle of holiday inspiration and confidence.  Let’s look great, eat well, and entertain in easy style!  Here are all the recipes you need to do it!

nydj + jtb holiday party originals

jtb+nydj holiday recipes:  for cocktail, salad, and gifting inspiration!

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Inside the Baker’s Kitchen + Creamy Spiced Squash Soup with Parmesan Thyme Popovers

creamy spiced squash soup

creamy spiced squash soup

I‘ve been thinking a lot about comforts.

As I’m preparing to host my first Thanksgiving in New Orleans, I’m thinking a lot about exactly how to make my guests feel comfortable.  I’m thinking beyond moist stuffing and sweet cranberry sauce, because comfortable house guests require much more than one fancy meal on a Thursday.

I’m gathering baskets filled with filtered water, fancy soaps, good hand cream, extra toothbrushes just in case, extra blankets for the bed, a lavender spray for the bathroom, and a refrigerator full of snacks and comforts.

It’s essential and ultra luxurious… and since I don’t often host a house full of family (loud, hungry, crazy crazy family), it would be fair to say that maybe I’m going a bit overboard.

I’ve made a giant batch of this creamy squash soup and added a bit of ground clove and freshly grated nutmeg to highlight the sweet squash.  Salty pancetta breadcrumbs add a bit of crunch, and the whole deal is waiting in the refrigerator for a Thanksgiving week lunch.

I expect to feel proud and accomplished, until I run out of popovers and someone asks for more.

inside the baker's kitchen

We’re back in the kitchen with KitchenAid and it’s time to work these shelves.  It feels like I’m going to have every pan and every appliance on their job this week.  For this creamy soup and crispy popovers, I’m using a few new favorites:  the 7-speed Hand Mixer which is a savior for quick baking jobs, and the Pro Line® Series Cordless Hand Blender for the smoothest, creamiest blended soups.

If you missed our first Inside the Baker’s Kitchen, be sure the check out these sweet and savory biscuits!

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Brown Butter Cranberry Almond Pancake Muffins

Brown Butter Cranberry Almond Pancake Muffins

Brown Butter Cranberry Almond Pancake Muffins

Well… I mean… once you have half a bag of fresh cranberries sitting in your refrigerator, you really can’t ignore them.  Technically, you can ignore them until they soften and just about turn themselves into something between wine and jam… but that takes months and is not listed among ideas that are good.

These particular fresh cranberries were left over from the Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie:  a good idea that I will continue to support.

It’s the weekend which means it’s time for warm things straight from the oven, preferably covered in maple syrup.

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Mushroom and Mash

Mushroom and Mash

Mushroom and Mash

I just realized something essential to my next week.  Um… this is my first Thanksgiving!  This is the first year, of my 33 years in the world, that I’m hosting my first totally-grown, matching-casserole-dishes, not-paperplate, make-all-the-pies THANKSGIVING at my New Orleans apartment with aaallll of my family.

I’m pretty sure this is a big deal.

I need a plan.  I really need a plan.

Nervously tapping my foot, biting my nails, and drinking toooooo much coffee is not a plan, right?  It’s the opposite of a plan.

I’m putting together a meal that is simple, casual, non-traditional, and filled with sides and pies.  I’m not cooking a turkey… which either makes me THE WORST person, or a genius.  Probably the worst, but even knowing that, I’m still not doing it.  We’re going to enjoy a giant pot of gumbo and aaalll of the Thanksgiving sides, including these fluffy and earthy mashed potatoes.

The plan is coming together (and also includes a triple batch of this Mac and Cheese).

Mushroom and Mash

Being bigtime thankful is also part of the plan.  Thankful for New Orleans, and visiting family, and warm gumbo, and mashed potatoes with roasted mushrooms.  Thankful for all of the good and the gnarly and everything in between.

The Internet wants us to succeed next week:

•  I’m definitely into group games… unless I have to act something out and hope people guess it:  10 Thanksgiving Games To Make The Holiday Fun For Everyone

•  These Molasses Spice Cookies are developing quite the reputation here in New Orleans.  I also love Jessica’s Thanksgiving Dos and Don’ts.  

•  I’m not making a turkey BUT I am ordering aaallll of the gumbo from Cochon Butcher.

•  Dijon Maple Green Beans sound like juuust the ticket.  They also have bacon and feta!

•  Deb’s Pretzel Parker House Rolls!  Just pretzel everything, thanks!

• Tracy’s Creamed Spinach should be an everyday thing, don’t you think?

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Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie

Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie (7)

Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie (7)

I’ve set out on the very serious task of brainstorming ALL of the Thanksgiving pies.  Good reason.  I’m preparing the welcome most ALL of my family to New Orleans for Thanksgiving.  There will be no turkey in my oven.  There will be no stuffing.  Green beans and cranberry sauce are a major maybe.

There will be a tremendous amount of gumbo and an equally tremendous amount of pie, Apple Cranberry among them.

In addition to a bounty of gumbo and pie, I’m also prepared for a week full of (ohhh gosh) family fun with a detailed week-long itinerary, a bull horn, a few bottles of bourbon, and a whistle.  I mean… right?

Apple Cranberry Crumble Pie

Send help.

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Inside The Baker’s Kitchen + Sweet and Savory Buttermilk Biscuits

biscuits sweet and salty

inside the baker's kitchen

Once upon a time I was a baker in a professional kitchen.  I’m talking about the kind of kitchen with bins of flour so large they you could climb inside and take a nap…. the kind of kitchen where you had to yell (and I mean YELL) ‘behind’, so no one crashes into your pan of scones on their way to the oven…. the kind of kitchen that was noisy, full of chocolate, hot pans, sheet trays for days, savory scones… and smelled REALLY GREAT.

I spent so much time in the professional kitchen that my home kitchen was as modest as it was tiny.  I had two mixing bowls, a spoon, and a spatula to my name.  Why bother with more than one cake pan when I make ALL of the cakes in a rowdy kitchen with thundering ovens?

My working kitchen these days is very different.  I have more than one cake pan.  I have more than a single wooden spoon, yes… and while it’s still a humble kitchen, there are a few tools in the kitchen that feel like necessary extravagances.

I want to take some time to talk about what I keep in my Baker’s Kitchen.  I think it’s important to know what’s over-the-top extravagant, and what’s a reasonable tool to stock.  Kitchen real-estate is a precious commodity.  Let’s only stock up with what we really need.

I’ve partnered with my very favorite kitchen brand KitchenAid in a 3-part series to show you some of my very favorite kitchen tools and baker’s tricks.  It doesn’t take a lot to coax great flavors and flakey crusts out of the oven.

Today we’re talking about my favorite 11-cup Food Processor.  It will have you making ALL of the biscuits, ALL of the pie crusts, and ALL of the pesto.  It’s the best, and super versatile!

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Baking Bootcamp: Gruyere and Green Olive Rolls

Gruyere and Green Olive Rolls

Gruyere and Green Olive Rolls

The first thing you should know is that it’s time for our THIRD installment of Baking Bootcamp with King Arthur Flour! Bring out your jazz hands. It’s about that time.

The second thing you should know is that we’re making the most delicious and chewy, salty and cheesy loaves. Like cinnamon rolls, hold the cinnamon, extra Gruyère and green olives.

The third thing you should know is that I always wanted to be a hand model so I’m beyond satisfied with myself here… that’s just my truth.

Gruyere and Green Olive Rolls

For our first baking bootcamp we piled berries high and braided bread for the Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread. You amazed me with your kitchen bravery.

For our second baking bootcamp we folded dough and made Apple Pie Biscuits. So stellar. You guys got all up in the season!

Now we’re taking a step to the savory side. Salty and soft. And we’re using an entirely new flour: King Arthur Flour’s Unbleached Bread Flour!

Baking Bootcamp Essentials III

Here’s what we’ll need:

1 • King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour.  High protein content for chewy and sturdy buns!

2 • I use this King Arthur Flour Bench Knife just about everyday in my kitchen. It’s perfect for scraping little dough bits from the countertop… something a sponge just pitifully attacks. You might also use the bench knife to slice though the center of the rolled dough. It’s sharp too! I love this tool!

3 • Kitchen fashion is important to me. Hedley & Bennett understands my needs for a functional, durable, totally chic apron. Not too frilly. I always want to be more badass than 50’s housewife-y in the kitchen.

4 • A good 9×13-inch baking pan is a kitchen staple.  The new ones are nice, mine happen to be covered in years of kitchen rust. Part of the charm!

5 • Having Colorful Mixing Bowls is the kitchen equivalent of having a great black dress in your closet. Necessary treat.

6 • We’re going to need lots of medium shreds of Gruyere cheese. Box Grater to the rescue!

7 • I like a natural bristle kitchen brush in my arsenal.  Great for egg washing biscuits and rolls!

8 • The Pyrex glass measuring cup.  A forever kitchen classic.

9 • These wooden spoons just get better with time.

10 • Is it normal to have a completely mismatched set of Measuring Cups, or should I just treat myself to a matching set like this? Don’t answer that…

11 • Same goes for the Measuring Spoons… it’s nice to have a full matching set.

12 • I go through Paring Knives like I go through socks.  How is it possible to have them one day and then lose them the next? I don’t know.  Clearly I have an issue.

Gruyere and Green Olive Rolls

There are loads of resources to help you get from here to warm cheesy buns.

• All of these step-by-step photographs in the post were done by the incomparable Jon Melendez.

Baking 101: The Difference Between Baking Flours for all the nitty-gritty on bran and germ and protein content.

• King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Hotline is a fantastic resource for curious home bakers to discuss your fears, concerns and eventual successes. Give them a ring! It’s magic. 1-855-371-2253

Four Flours + Four Recipes Challenges + One Instagram #bakingbootcamp + Four Awesome Sets of Prizes!

The idea is simple!

• Make these Gruyère and Green Olive Rolls (they’re sooo delicious!) and take a picture of your creation!

• Follow @joythebaker and @kingarthurflour on Instagram

• Photograph your beautiful rolls and post them to Instagram with the hashtag #bakingbootcamp

• When you submit a photo, you’ll be entered to win a one year supply of King Arthur Flour and a Baking Essentials box valued at $250!! Official rules and details can be found here.

By entering the challenge you’ll also have amazing cheesy rolls in your kitchen, so… you really can’t lose.

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Oat and Pistachio Crumble Topped Baked Sweet Potatoes

Oat and Pistachio Crumble Topped Baked Sweet Potatoes

Oat and Pistachio Crumble Topped Baked Sweet Potatoes

These November days are quickly running away which can only mean one thing:  we’re going to need to think about Thanksgiving and let’s try not to completely freak out about it.

It’s possible… the thinking without the freaking out.  We’ll make a plan.  We’ll ask someone else to roast a turkey.  We’ll cross our fingers a few times.  It will all work out.  Part of our success includes roasting aaalll of the sweet potatoes and adding oats and pistachio.  We’re making a play on Sweet Potato Pie:   no crust, extra crumble, easy and delicious!

Oat and Pistachio Crumble Topped Baked Sweet Potatoes

When in doubt, can we just go ahead and add an oat crumble?  Hearty and sweet, buttery and spiced.  The oats make for a wholesome crumble that is both comforting and substantial.  We’re going to need the hearty oats to stand up to the butter and not shy away from the spices and sweet potato.  Balance, you know?

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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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Apple Snap Cocktails

Apple Snap Cocktails (4)

Apple Snap Cocktails (4)

It’s time for a new go-to cocktail.  This summer’s negroni and sangria indulgences are long past me.  I’m looking for an Autumn cocktail that feels ample and cozy… but nothing like mulled wine or syrupy sweet pear drinks.

Has there ever been a tasty mulled wine?  I think no.

Apple Snap Cocktails

I wanted to combine the sweetness of fruit with the spiciness of the season.  Apple juice.  Fresh pressed and unfiltered.  Bourbon, naturally.  Lime and bubble water.  But spiiiiice! Needed and necessary.

Have you heard of Art In The Age?  They make the most lovely, unique organic spirits.  My favorite this season is SNAP, inspired by old school Pennsylvania Dutch ginger snaps.  Yessss, right?

SNAP is made from a neutral alcohol, molasses, ginger, vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, tea, and sugar.  So so good!  Pairs perfectly with bourbon (yes!) and fresh apple.  I’ll be sipping on this SNAP all winter and I’m pretty sure I’ll keep a bottle or two around for hostess gifts.  It’s a treat.

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Curry Roasted Acorn Squash

curry roasted acorn squash (4)

curry roasted acorn squash (3)

I‘m back in my kitchen this week… back from making pies with you up and down the east coast… back from gently and not so gently asking you to buy my dang book… back to my roasting pan.

curry roasted acorn squash

This acorn squash was patiently awaiting my return.  Just sitting tight, waiting to be more than it already is.

I hacked my way through the protective skin (didn’t even lose a finger), removed the seeds, sliced, and drizzled.

This is the result of those efforts.  Let’s make it together… I mean, right!?

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Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Krispie Treats

Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Krispie Treats

Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Krispie Treats

You know my tricks.  You know the games I play around here.  The more browned butter, sea salt, and chopped pistachios, the better! It’s just that… pistachios are the best, browned butter reigns supreme, and I think good sea salt is my secret weapon in my baking pantry.  I’m not wrong.

We’re keeping it simple by shoving all of the good things into one pan of rice krispie treats.  Fancy rice krispie treats are totally my go-to party trick.  They never disappoint.  Also consider Salty and Malty Rice Krispie Treats.  So much win.

I’m traveling these next few weeks to meet you and celebrate the release of my cookbook Homemade Decadence.  I’m in Philadelphia Tuesday 10/21 and you should totally come say hi!  Keep in mind that for some reason I’ve been listening to the Once soundtrack nonstop for the past week, so… just so you know where I’m at and that I’m weird.  Ps. Do you know how easy it is to cry to the Once soundtrack?  Like crazy easy.  I don’t know what’s going on with me.  I really am in a happy place, I promise.

I’ve said too much.

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