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Cadbury Fingers

31 Jan

Hello there, all!

Did you know that Ghana is the #3 Cocoa-producing country in the world? Yep, it’s right up there with the Cote d’Ivoire (neighbors!) and Indonesia. The English company Cadbury (Ghana was an English colony until 1957) is the largest producer in Ghana, pumping out tons of deliciousness every year, most of it being uber sweet milky kind.

To commemorate my trip to Ghana (less than one week left in America!), I decided to whip up a quick batch of these traditional Cadbury Fingers. Have you ever tasted them? They are my mom’s absolute favorite–she has admitted to regularly consuming a whole box after school as a little girl. I got to try them for the first time two years ago, and boy are they addictive! Consisting of a crisp shortbread biscuit cookie covered in a layer of creamy Cadbury milk chocolate, and in pinkie-finger-size form, I can definitely see how easy it is to eat a dozen no problem. ;)

Stock Photo from

Of course, they were so much easier to purchase in England, and are common imports to France, but here in America you rarely see them at the grocery store. I find them (and more Cadbury chocolate, and more international treats) at World Market in my town. As a special treat or a way to say “I love you” to my mom, I pick up a box on occasion. Do you have a World Market near you? They’re almost the best things ever!

This homemade version I adapted from a traditional shortbread recipe is quite delicious, if I do say so myself! They are slightly more buttery and rich than the store-bought ones, because of the recipe and because they are about twice as big, but who’s complaining? :) They consist of about 5 ingredients–butter, flour, salt, sugar, and Cadbury chocolate so they are super simple and easy to make!

Here’s the step-by-step–full recipe at the bottom!

First cream the room-temperature butter in your mixer (hand-held or standing). In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add it to the creamed butter and continue mixing until it forms a dough.

Ball up that dough and turn it out onto a clean floured surface. Flatten it out into a disk with your hand and flour the top. Roll out to an even thickness, about 1/4 inch.

Use a pizza cutter or another such device to square off your edges. Cut finger-sized rectangles out of your square.

Place those suckers on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes at 350, or until lightly browned on the top.

Cool them on a wire rack

Meanwhile… melt some milk chocolate in the microwave! For these fingers specifically, Cadbury would be best, but whatever you have is fine, too! I actually want to make these again with super rich dark chocolate. :)

When your babies are cooled, take a fork and sink them into this chocolate, like they’re Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka’s chocolate river. If you didn’t think he was the luckiest kid of the bunch, I don’t know where your priorities lie.
Oh, and tapping the fork against the edge of the bowl helps to drip the excess chocolate off the cookie.

Place them on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and stick them in the fridge for a little. Resist the temptation to touch or lick!

They’ll come out looking deliciously smooth. In the middle they are SERIOUSLY buttery, crisp, and delicious! These were a perfect after-school snack for my mom, and a perfect anytime snack for me!

Cadbury Fingers
2 c. All-purpose flour
2/3 c. Powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
3/4 c. Unsalted butter, room temperature
About 6 oz. of Cadbury milk chocolate

  1.  Cream the butter in an electric mixer. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. Mix in the dry ingredients with the butter until it forms a dough.
  4. Turn out the ball of dough onto a floured surface and roll out to 1/4 of an inch thick.
  5. Square off the edges of your dough and continue by cutting finger-sized sticks out of the dough. I cut out about 42 little fingers, and the rest of the edge dough I used for traditional shortbread wedges.
  6. Place the fingers on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes on the middle rack, or until lightly browned.
  7. Cool the fingers and melt the chocolate in the microwave in a deep bowl.
  8. Using a fork, completely submerge the fingers in the chocolate. Tap the fork on the side of the bowl to drip the excess chocolate off the finger.
  9. Place the fingers on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and refrigerate until the chocolate has set. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

The deliciousnes to easiness ratio of these cookies is SKY-HIGH, people. Make them tonight for your little taste of Ghana! Your roommates/parents/significant other/dog will thank you immensely.



Gingerbread Valley Life Sciences Building

19 Dec

This Christmas season, I haven’t had as much time to do all the baking or cooking that I would have liked. I was planning on making a towering cake, mixing a festive cocktail, trying my hand at decorating sugar cookies with royal icing, and assembling large batches of other treats to give out as gifts, etc. Sadly, with the MCAT looming, I’ve had a hard time justifying time spent on things other than studying (even blogging makes me feel guilty)! That’s what I felt so lucky that I did get the chance to spend some time with my boyfriend and his sister constructing this awesome gingerbread house!

I know my readers mostly consist of my friends from college… So does this structure remind you of anything? I’ll give you a closer look…

Why yes, bravo! This is indeed a small model of Valley Life Sciences Building, fashioned in gingerbread. This building is where I spent most of my days–either in class, lab, office hours, or the Biosciences library (perfect spot for studying). Even the pre-med chapter of American Medical Student Association met in this building for our evening meetings! My boyfriend was a different major, so his department was in another building, but he was still here very often even when fulfilling all his pre-req’s.

Both of us being recent graduates, and missing our alma mater and all the wonderful people we don’t get to see anymore, this tribute to VLSB in gingerbread form seemed quite fitting. What do you think–should I email a photo of our masterpiece to Chancellor Birgeneau? Or are we just waaaaay to nerdy for our own good?! Comment below and state your opinion!

This is how we started the project! The first step was making the dough. With a few modifications, I used a gingerbread recipe from King Arthur Flour, a trusted resource for aspiring bakers like me!
First, heat the butter and milk until just melted. Then whisk in the molasses, brown sugar, and egg.

While you’re waiting for the butter to melt into the milk, whisk together some of the flour, salt, baking soda, and the spices.

Next, you want to pour the liquid mixture into the bowl, and using a STRONG electric mixer, add in the bowl of dry ingredients. The dough becomes really thick, so I am really grateful that I got to bake the gingerbread at my boyfriend’s place, which has a Kitchenaid.

Continue adding the additional flour until you reach a play-doh like consistency. Once all the flour is just incorporated, turn out the dough onto plastic wrap and form it into a disk. Wrap the disk up and let it rest in the refrigerator for about an hour.

Once you’ve patiently waited an hour, roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness. Based on our rough estimate of the ratios of VLSB, and how many square inches of dough we had, we went for a building that measured 12×6 inches (golden rectangle)! After you’ve done some similar planning, cut out the shapes of the walls, roof, and other architectural adornments. :) We had 38 separate pieces of gingerbread of all different shapes and sizes to match the basic outline of VLSB!

Pop those in a 350 degree oven, and wait 15 minutes! These cookies don’t spread much, so it’s OK to place them close together on the baking sheet. Additionally, the larger pieces baked to the same hardness as the smaller pieces, so don’t worry about varied baking times. :)

Gingerbread for Gingerbread House
Makes about 450 square inches, rolled out to 1/8 inch thickness

3/4 stick. Unsalted Butter (6 tbsp)
3/4 c. Milk
1 c. Brown sugar
1/2 c. Molasses
1 Egg
5 c. Flour
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp Ground ginger
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Salt

  1. Melt butter and sugar together
  2. Add molasses, sugar, and egg
  3. Transfer to bowl of mixer and incorporate 1 c. flour, spices, salt, and baking soda.
  4. Gradually add the rest of the flour until just incorporated
  5. Turn out dough and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  6. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness, and bake on 350 for about 15 minutes.

While the gingerbread is cooling, whip up a batch of easy-peasy royal icing. This icing is the perfect consistency for constructing a gingerbread house because it is quite sticky and dries relatively quickly. That means you don’t have to be concerned about your building collapsing, as long as you’ve held the pieces in place for maybe 20 seconds, and the walls have another structure to attach to other than the ground. Make sense? For example, there would be a reduced risk of a vertical wall falling down if it also had an an adjacent wall that it was glued to. Free-standing vertical walls? Meeeh, not so much.

I don’t have photos of making the icing or the process of erecting Ginger VLSB (my new name for our magnum opus), but it’s pretty simple!

Royal Icing for Gingerbread House
makes just enough for one Ginger VLSB, plus maybe 1/2 c. extra (so accurate, my measurements)

3 Egg whites
1/2 tsp. Cream of tartar, or other egg white stabilizer (white vinegar, lemon juice, meringue powder)

1 lb (about 4 cups) Confectioner’s (powdered) sugar

  1. With the egg whites in a bowl (we used the Kitchenaid), whip with an electric mixer until frothy, like bubble bath.
  2. Add the cream of tartar (or your alternative), and mix a little more.
  3. Slowly add in the powdered sugar. We went about 1/2 cup at a time. Finito! If you’re not using the frosting right away, make sure it is well covered and air-tight (tupperware, or in a closed piping bag). This frosting dries out really quickly!

Now you’re ready to start construction! We lined a tray with foil, piped frosting on the the edges of the gingerbread pieces, and after sticking all 38 pieces together, ended up with this! For decorations, we used thin black licorice ropes to emphasize some of the different long, dark windows of VLSB, as well as for the overhangs and doors. Mini marshmallows cut in half were used for the big white steps, and white Life-Savers were used for further adornment. It didn’t turn out as big or detailed as I wanted it to be (I went slightly OCD and wanted to be able to pipe the Egyptian hieroglyphs, columns, and other bas-relief sculptures, but that just didn’t work out, hehe).

For our first time making a gingerbread house completely from scratch (no graham crackers on milk cartons), I’d say we did a pretty bang-up job! Austin and Emily, you rock! This project would have been a complete mess without you!

I think it still looks awesome even without the green sanding sugar I wanted to use for the banks of grass!

So there you have it, folks! Merry Christmas from two devoted biology nerds and one awesome younger sister! We hope you have a wonderful season, spent with your loved ones, and full of delicious treats and merry festivities. Maybe that includes making a gingerbread house of your own! Have you already constructed this year’s? Post a picture of your obra de arte, or tell me in the comments below what you did to make yours special. Or are you inspired to make one of your own? Share your ideas! Do you have other Christmas or holiday traditions you’d like to share? Let me know below as well–I’d love to hear about them. :)

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies <3 Happy Birthday Tiffany!

6 Nov

Today is a special day! If you couldn’t already tell, today is my dear friend Tiffany’s birthday! For the occasion, I baked up some very simple but very delicious “mocha chocolate chip cookies,” which should be sitting on her kitchen counter right now, along with some other goodies, if USPS did what they were supposed to! :)

These cookies are basically a glorified chocolate chip cookie recipe, infused with a good helping of cocoa powder and a couple spoonfuls of instant espresso powder, a.k.a. a match made in HEAVEN. I made these for Tiff’s birthday because of our shared love of mochas, and the many times we indulged in these drinks over our college years together. In making these, I didn’t do much in the way of fancy techniques, intricate decorating, or innovative flavor additions–these morsels are just full of plain good old espresso and chocolate flavor.

That’s OK with me though. This post is mostly about how wonderfully awesome and fabulous my good friend Tiffany is. I am writing this post as a little addition to what couldn’t fit on her birthday card, because I know she’ll be reading this eventually. Right now, however, she’s out celebrating with friends and a fishbowl margarita while I study for the MCAT all by my lonesome. I’m totally not joking either, she even sent me a picture text of it all! Yeah Tiff, thanks for that. ;]

Anyway, I must warn you that this may get a little warm… a little fuzzy… maybe even a little (OK, A LOT!) mushy. So if you’re here purely for the cookie recipe, scroll to the bottom and enjoy the sugary goodness there. I don’t presume that y’all want to know every detail that follows (this is really for her). But if you’d like to stay a few minutes and hear about an example of a true friend, keep on reading. :)

HOMAGE COMMENCES: Tiffany and I met on the very first day of our sophomore year in college. We got all settled into the dorms, and wanting to get a head-start on meeting my floormates and being social, I (and a bunch of other people) ended up in Tiffany’s double, just shootin’ the breeze about our summers. I remember how excited I felt, because here was this girl speaking in such an earnest and passionate manner, and I could see right away how easy it would be to get to know her an be friends. What made it even better was that she was a pre-med just like me, and we were even enrolled in some of the same classes! On the other hand, Tiff was so darn beautiful and vivacious, and she seemed so pulled together and outgoing that I was a little intimidated. Little did I know that Tiffany would turn out to be one of the most down-to-earth, easy-going, fun-loving, hilarious girls I would ever meet.

Here we are at a splinting workshop!

Three years later, we’ve accumulated these (and many more) memories:

  • Me (sometimes futilely) knocking on her dorm room door, trying to wake her up for our 8am bio class
  • Subsequently staggering to class, and consistently being unable to resist the call of mochas and bagels from The Coffee Spot on campus
  • Then being faced with more than 6 chalkboards full of color-coded notes that were written by our professor before anyone even showed up in the lecture hall… and then furiously trying to copy them all down before he started talking.
  • Solidarity in pain and suffering after a physics final, which included a shared pint of haagen dazs and The First Wives Club dvd. Ballin’.
  • Tiffany introducing me to the Dance Fail, Can I Have Yo Numba? (best things evar), and Glee.
  • Our shared affinity for 80’s songs we’re embarrassed to admit we love (Don Henley’s Boys of Summer, George Michael’s Faith, to name a few). I have to text her whenever I hear these songs playing in my local Safeway.
  • Random crazy Irish men
  • AMSA national conference at the Disneyland Resort, churros, and karaoke
  • Being stuck in a tiny elevator with 12 people for 45 minutes, and then being broken out by firemen with axes (AMSA, again)
  • Basically every Monday and Thursday night for the past two years of our lives (AMSA, what else?)
  • Tiffany giving me the SUBLIME gift of Philz Coffee
  • Long study sessions at The Beanery coffee shop… and basically our entire obsession with coffee.
  • Talking about everything– friends, school, guys, faith, our goals, our families, fun we’d currently be planning…
  • Shopping, need I say more?
  • Dancing in SF!
  • By chance always wanting to do the exact same thing at the same moment. This girl is “down to hang,” as she puts it :)
  • Sharing the same heart for serving in the medical field
  • Being Toasts. ’nuff said.

Wow, I did not mean for that list to get so long, but what can I say–this girl is amazing! I know all these things may sound only fun and lighthearted… The truth is, we shared a ton of those awesome carefree memories, but most of the times our friendship is a little more serious–Tiffany is constantly inspiring me with her example to be the best that I can be, to never shrink from challenges, and to not be afraid to give all of myself for my beliefs, my passions, and my goals. She may be embarrassed if I reveal these things about her, but I am actually proud of her for them. She is such a hard worker, she never settles for the status quo, but always strives for something better. That’s the way she is–a woman with a clear vision, complete confidence, but also complete humility.

We're about to walk!

Even with her many accomplishments and her bright future, above all Tiff is a friend whom I can lean on. Throughout all my ramblings, problems, insecurities, she’s always the one to listen, encourage, and strengthen me in that calming, compassionate, realistic manner that she has. Even though we are individuals and may not share the same perspective all of the time, or even though we may disagree about something, my friend will always completely consider what I’m expressing because she values me. Of course, I also value her more than I could ever say. I am so thankful for this 3-year friendship, and am SO excited for the years that are to come.

Happy Birthday, Tiffany! YOU ROCK!













Tiffany’s Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 30 4-inch cookies

2 c. All purpose flour
1/4 c. Cocoa powder
1 tsp. Baking soda

1 tsp. Salt
1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted butter,
room temperature
3/4 c. Granulated sugar
3/4 c. Brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 tbsp. Espresso powder
2 Large eggs, room temperature
2 c. Semi-sweet cho
colate chips

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F
  2. Whisk/sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. With a stand mixer or a hand-held electric mixer, cream the butter till it is light and fluffy. Add the sugars and continue beating till fluffy, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  4. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the vanilla, and add the espresso powder. Beat the espresso powder into the wet ingredients until it is dissolved.
  5. With the electric mixer again, add the egg/espresso mixture in a steady stream to the creamed butter. Beat till smooth.
  6. Add the dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated. Turn off the electric mixer, and add in the chocolate chips with the rubber spatula.
  7. Place spheres of roughly 1.5-inches onto your baking sheets about 3 inches apart. Bake about 15 minutes. After baking, let the cookies sit on the sheet for about 2 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool.
  8. Package these up and send them to your best friend, birthday or not!

Big Bear Cookies

15 Aug

This is one "Papa Bear" cookie, about as big as my hand. It will probably take 5 cups of tea to finish him.

For a first post, this quite fittingly contains four things I LOVE.

1.) Bears:
The bear is the noblest of creatures! Not to mention, my boyfriend, sister and I are all bears, having graduated from a university with the bear as their mascot!

2.) Big Bear:
… Is one of the few skiing spots in So Cal, where it was tradition for my family to go for a couple days every winter. While learning to “make a pie, make a pie!!!” with my skis was frustrating in the beginning, after a couple trips, skiing quickly became one of my favorite pastimes. Big Bear is a wonderful place to make great family memories to cherish forever.

3.) Chocolate (and lots of it!)

4.) These beautiful people I get to travel with for the next few days!
Yes, I am leaving tomorrow with two families that I adore on a journey to the mountains! With this group of people, a trip inevitably means delicious food, belly-aching laughs, and an overflow of love. There’s nothing else I could ask for.

“Big Bear” Cookies
2 sticks (1 c.) of Unsalted butter at Room Temperature
1 1/4 c. Granulated sugar
2 Eggs
1/2 c. Cocoa powder
2 1/4 c. Flour (I used all-purpose)
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Baking powder
1 tbsp. Corn starch
2 1/2 c. (or as they say in Nor Cal, HELLA) Semisweet chocolate chips

Oooh baby...

Preheat your oven to 350 F

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  3. Beat the cocoa into the mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and corn starch. Or stir haphazardly, like me.

    "Baby Bear," smaller-sized cookies

  5. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter until JUST combined. Mixing too much after addition of flour releases gluten proteins from the wheat, which causes your baked goods to become tough. This structure-lending process is good for baking breads, but not for a delicate cookie. :)
  6. Mix in the chocolate chips. This might have been a bit too much for my poor handheld mixer, so I put my biceps to use and did it with a spatula.

    "Mama Bear," medium-sized cookies

  7. Place lumps of cookie dough on a cookie sheet and bake! Depending on how big you make your cookies, the baking time can vary. In my (weird, crazy, psycho) oven, I baked the Papa Bear (biggest) cookies for about 20 minutes. They were flexible when I took them out, but not wet in the middle. The Mama Bear cookies took about 17 minutes, and the Baby Bear cookies took 15.

I am bringing these cookies along for everyone to eat on the trip. Our pancreatic beta cells are going to be working overtime. ;)

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