Archive for DESSERTS

Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies are so much fun to make — and eat!  My daughter even says they “taste like Thanksgiving and Christmas.” 😉

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These aren’t the kind of cookies that you bake and form into shapes suitable for ornaments or making gingerbread houses.

In fact, this dough cannot be rolled out like traditional gingerbread.  Rather, the dough is soft and moist (and actually requires chilling in order to handle it better), and the cookies bake up super fluffy, soft, and chewy.

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Funny story here…

I brought a couple dozen cookies to work and offered them to my coworkers. They all smiled politely when I said they were gingerbread cookies, but then politely declined to eat any. The SECOND I told them they were SOFT and CHEWY, not the hockey-puck-rock-hard-gingersnap cookies, they ate them like they hadn’t eaten in days! 😀

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So, let’s get to it, shall we?

Start by placing the flour into a medium sized mixing bowl.

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Now for the heart and soul of these incredible gingerbread cookies.  You’ll need baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg, salt and ginger.  Even before the cookies bake, the aroma of these spices make you think of fall and Thanksgiving, and all that comes with holiday baking.

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Mix the spices with the flour.  I use a whisk to really mix it all together.  You don’t want any of the seasonings to clump together when you mix it with the wet ingredients.  Set this flour mixture aside for now.

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Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl.  I use a stand mixer because this makes a lot of cookie dough, but you can use a hand mixer as well.

As mentioned above, this makes a large batch of cookie dough, but don’t worry.  These cookies are so good, you’ll be glad you made a lot of them. 🙂

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Beat the butter until creamy.

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Add the brown sugar to the mixing bowl.

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Mix until light and fluffy.

This is a great mixture to spread over hot dinner rolls, by the way.  Just add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and voila! Sweet Cinnamon Butter!

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Now I want to make some dinner rolls, but I digress.

Anyhoo…back to the cookies.

Add the molasses, eggs and vanilla extract to the mixing bowl.

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Mix on low speed for a minute or so, or until you get a nice creamy consistency like what’s pictured below.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl if you need to then mix again.

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Add the flour mixture, one cup at a time, mixing on low speed just until the flour mixture is incorporated into the wet batter.

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Continue mixing in the dry ingredients, a cup at a time, until a dough forms.  Stop mixing when you no longer see clumps of dry ingredients.  Do not over mix the dough.

Because this is a really wet dough, you need to chill it for several hours before making dough balls.  I usually prepare the dough while dinner is cooking, then I pop the mixing bowl into the freezer while we eat dinner.  After dinner, I take the dough out of the freezer and bake the cookies.

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Now that your dough chilled sufficiently enough to handle, scoop out small amounts (about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons) and form into balls.  I use a small cookie scoop to do this — I have a bit of OCD; I like all of my cookies to be the same size. 😉

Roll the balls of dough in a bowl of granulated sugar.  Ensure the entire ball is well-coated with sugar.

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Place each ball of dough onto a baking pan.  If you have regular baking pans, make sure to line the pan with parchment paper first.  I use stoneware pans; there is no need to line them with parchment paper.

Place the balls about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.  These cookies will spread, but they won’t spread too much.

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Bake the cookies for 10 minutes.  Let the cookies cool on the pan for a couple of minutes then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

See how nicely they puff up?  As the cookies cool, they will settle just a little bit, but they will still be a bit puffy, and they will most definitely be soft and chewy.

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Place any uneaten cookies in an airtight container.  They will stay soft and chewy for several days (if they last that long). 🙂

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Here’s my complete recipe.  I think you’ll really like this one.  ENJOY!

 

Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
SOFT & CHEWY gingerbread cookies that make you think of Thanksgiving and the holidays, all year round. These are NOT at all like the typical rock-hard gingersnap cookies.
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1½ cups (or 3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups dark brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup dark molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup white, granulated sugar (for coating the cookie dough balls)
Instructions
  1. In a medium sized bowl, place the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and ginger. Whisk to combine all the dry ingredients then set aside.
  2. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Using a stand or handheld mixer, beat the butter until creamy.
  3. Add the brown sugar to the creamed butter. Mix until fluffy.
  4. Add the molasses, eggs and vanilla extract to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix until well incorporated. Scrape down the sides if required and mix again.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients, one cup at a time, with the butter mixture. Stop mixing once the last bit of the dry ingredients are mixed into the dough (do not over mix).
  6. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 2-3 hours. (I placed my bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes to speed things up.)
  7. Scoop out some chilled dough and roll into a ball. I use a small cookie scoop that holds 1½ tablespoons.
  8. Roll each ball of dough in the granulated sugar, coating the entire ball. Place the coated balls onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet (if you use a stoneware pan you don't need to line it), about 1½ inches apart. These cookies will spread only a little, so you don't need to space them too far apart.
  9. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pan for a couple of minutes then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
These cookies are soft and chewy, and will stay soft for several days (if they last that long!) when stored in an airtight container. This recipe makes about 6 dozen small cookies.

 

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Åhu

Åhu is a sweet and warm soup of sorts, and is a very popular dessert drink on Guam.  It’s one of the first things I make when I go home for visits.

While you can make this dish using frozen månha (the meat from young coconuts) and the juice from the månha, there is nothing like using the real thing.

This delicious and sweet drink is thickened by the månha dumplings, made by mixing pureed månha, sugar and tapioca starch.  The dumplings — I call them lumps — cook in boiling hot månha juice until they float to the surface indicating they are done.

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It doesn’t take long to cook up a huge pot of åhu.  What DOES take long, however, is cutting down a bunch of månha, cutting them open and collecting the juice, then scraping the meat.

Here’s an entertaining (at least I think so) video of the guys working hard at harvesting the månha for us. 🙂

I’ll bet many of you didn’t know there are some species of coconut that are orange when young, not just the common green ones.

My sister and I recruited the men to do the gathering with the promise we’ll do the cooking.  They eventually enjoyed the fruits of our labor and relaxed with a huge cupful of delicious åhu. 🙂

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After draining out the juice, cut open the månha and scrape out the meat.  Be careful not to scrape out any of the husk if you can help it.  The månha meat is very tender; it doesn’t take much effort to scrape it out of the shell.

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After you’ve collected the juice and meat, it’s time to get cooking.  Place the månha juice into a large pot.  You don’t need much juice to get great tasting åhu.  You can use all juice or a mixture of juice and water.  My dad likes to drink the månha juice so when my sister and I made this, we diluted it by mixing 8 cups of månha juice with 8 cups of water, saving the rest of the juice for dad.

If the juice is sweet, you don’t need much sugar.  We added about 3 cups of sugar to all that liquid.  Add a cup at a time and taste as you go, adding as much sugar as you like.

Bring the liquid to a slow boil while you make the månha dumpling mixture.

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Place the månha in a food processor.  Use more månha if you like lots of “lumps” — we used 4 cups of månha (my family likes lots of lumps) for a large pot of åhu.

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Process the månha until it’s smooth and creamy.

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Add the entire bag of tapioca starch to the pureed månha.  Save the rest of the tapioca starch in case you need to thicken the åhu liquid later or to add more to the månha-starch mixture (more on this later).

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Add sugar to the månha-starch mixture.  You don’t need much since you’ve already sweetened the liquid.  The amount of sugar also depends on how sweet the månha meat is.  This batch of månha was very sweet so we added just one cup of sugar.  The mixture will be very thick, thicker than cake batter.

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Drop small dollops of the batter into the boiling liquid.  Do a test batch first to taste if it’s sweet enough.  Add more sugar if you want it sweeter.

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The lumps will float to the top of the pot when done.  If the lumps break apart during the cooking, that means you need to add more starch.  Add a few spoonfuls at a time, then cook a test batch to make sure they stay intact.

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This recipe makes a LOT of lumps — just the way my brother likes it.  The starch in the lumps also serves to thicken the åhu.  Let the mixture cook over low heat for a few minutes after all of the lumps are done.  If, after a few minutes, the liquid is not thickening, mix any reserved tapioca starch with a cup of water; stir the mixture into the åhu and cook for a few more minutes until thickened.

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Serve while still hot and ENJOY! 🙂

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Åhu
 
A warm, sweet dessert drink made from the juice and meat of young green coconuts.
Author:
Cuisine: Chamorro
Ingredients
Liquid
  • 8 cups Månha juice
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar, more or less, to taste
Dumplings
  • 4 cups månha meat, pureed
  • 1½ (15 oz) bags tapioca starch
  • 1 cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Place the månha, juice, and sugar in a large pot. Bring to a boil over low heat.
  2. Mix together the pureed månha, one bag of starch (reserve the remaining half bag), and sugar to form the batter for the dumplings.
  3. Drop the batter into the boiling liquid by the teaspoonful. The dumplings will float to the top when done. If the dumplings break apart during cooking, add a couple of tablespoons more starch to the dumpling mixture. "Test cook" a few dumplings to ensure they don't break apart and is sweet enough. If the dumplings still break apart during cooking, add a couple more tablespoons of starch.
  4. After all of the dumplings are done, check to see if the åhu is thick enough for your liking. It should be the consistency of not-too-thick gravy. If you'd like it thicker, mix any remaining starch with 1 cup water; stir the mixture into the hot åhu. Cook for a few more minutes until the åhu thickens.
Serve while still hot and ENJOY! 🙂

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Potu

Potu is a sweet steamed rice cake that’s a Chamorro favorite.  It’s traditionally made using sweet tuba, a Chamorro beverage made from fermenting (like wine) coconut juice.  Rice is soaked overnight in the tuba then ground into a super-fine consistency the next day.  The mixture is sweetened and steamed into these amazingly delicious rice cakes.

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When I was younger, I usually only had potu when we went to parties or (I don’t mean to be morbid) at rosaries.  My late aunt used to make potu as well.  I remember those sleepovers at her house —  Auntie Frances had the entire kitchen and dining room filled with tubs of soaking rice and pans of potu ready for delivery.  Ahh…those were the good ‘ole days.

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This is my friend, Judy Dillinger’s recipe.  Being away from home, I definitely don’t have access to a lot of home-grown ingredients, tuba being one of them.  Judy’s recipe makes use of readily available ingredients that you can find in almost any grocery store.  It’s also quick and easy, using rice flour instead of soaking rice overnight.

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If you’d like to try another of my friend’s Potu recipes, take a look at this one by my friend, Rose Camacho.

I’ve made both recipes and I will tell you they are both equally delicious and definitely tried-and-true.

Give Judy’s or Rose’s recipes a try.  I think you’ll like them.

Here’s how to make Judy’s Potu.

Events - 017You’ll need to find rice flour that is NOT glutinous.  The label will tell you whether it’s glutinous or not.  The glutinous kind will NOT work for potu.  Glutinous rice flour is made by grinding sweet rice, which is very sticky when cooked.  The NON-glutinous rice flour (the kind you need for potu) is made by grinding short or medium-grain rice.

This is a photo of the brand of rice flour I used.  There are many different brands; make sure the label states non-glutinous.rice flour

I’ve also used this brand of rice flour (the red bag, pictured on the right).  Notice that the green bag clearly states “Glutinous.”  If you’re familiar with mochi, glutinous rice flour is used to make mochi.  Again, for potu, you want to use NON-glutinous rice flour.

Events - 0545As I mentioned above, tuba is not available here in the states, unless you have a friend or family member visiting from home bring you some.  An easy substitute for tuba in this recipe is coconut vinegar.  You only need a little bit of vinegar.  Judy’s recipe calls for four tablespoons mixed with enough water to make one cup of liquid.  I actually cut the amount of vinegar in half because it’s quite pungent.  This is the brand of coconut vinegar I use.

Mix the vinegar with enough water to make one cup of liquid.  I only used two tablespoons of vinegar, but Judy’s recipe calls for four.  It’s all up to you, really, on how much vinegar to use.  Remember, a little goes a long way.

Mix the rice flour, sugar and baking powder with the vinegar-water mixture.  Let the mixture sit for a few minutes — it will get very bubbly.

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Pour the batter into molds, filling them almost to the top.  I’ve used silicone molds, little glass cups and the silicone molds lined with mini cupcake paper liners, all with success.

Place the molds into your steamer basket before filling — it’s easier than trying to place full cups into the basket without spilling any batter.

Events - 020Place the steamer basket into the steamer.  Place a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth beneath the lid to keep the condensation from dripping back onto the potu.

Events - 023Steam for about 20 minutes.  The tell-tale crack on top indicates the potu is done.  Let the potu cool for a few minutes before removing from the molds.  Serve and ENJOY! 🙂

 

Potu
 
A sweet steamed rice cake that's light and fluffy and easy to prepare.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Chamorro
Serves: 2½ dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 cup rice flour (make sure it's NOT glutinous rice flour)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons vinegar mixed with water to equal 1 cup of liquid (OR use 1 cup sweet tuba)
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  2. Pour the mixture into miniature molds and steam for about 15-20 minutes.

 

 

 

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Caramel Apple Cake

Fall is probably my favorite season because of all of the yummy fall fruits that abound this time of year.  Apples are in full season right now, and rather than wonder what to make with them, how about you bake my friend, Vikki’s Caramel Apple Cake?

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This cake is incredibly moist, and the thick batter suspends chunks of sweet apple so that they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake during baking.  You get a taste of sweet apple and cinnamony (my new word) goodness in every bite.

My husband took some cake to work and shared it with his boss, who said this was the best apple cake he’s ever had. (Thanks, Vikki!) 🙂

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This cake is screaming your name…wait, it’s screaming MY name.  I need to make another one.  My family devoured the one I made the other night.  It’s that good.

Let’s get to it.

Whisk the oil and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.

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Whisk the eggs into the sugar-oil mixture.

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Add the vanilla extract, apple pie spice, salt and baking powder; whisk to combine.

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Add the flour to the bowl.  This batter is very thick.  Use a spatula to fold in the flour.

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See how thick the batter is?  My spatula is standing straight up in the batter.

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Fold in the chopped apples.  You can’t tell from the photo, but I cut the apples very small and relatively thin to ensure they cook through during baking, but not too small that they turn to mush.  I used Honeycrisp Apples in this recipe, which I recommend you use as well.  They are sweet, crisp apples that hold up to baking.  The apples were still somewhat firm after baking, but cooked through (not over cooked at all).

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Pour the batter into a greased baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until it tests done (insert a knife or skewer into the middle; it should come out clean).

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While the cake is baking, make the caramel sauce.

Place the butter, brown sugar, and milk in a small sauce pan over low heat.

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Whisk occasionally, cooking until the butter and sugar melt and the sauce thickens.

Don’t make the glaze until right before the cake is done, however.  The sauce thickens as it cools, so make it just minutes before the cake is done so that it’s thin enough to drizzle.

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Drizzle the caramel glaze all over the top of the cake.

This is wonderful just as you see it below, but if you want to take it over the top, add a huge dollop of whipped cream and you’ll be in caramel apple heaven! 🙂

Vikki says this cake freezes well.  All you’ll need to do is defrost the cake at room temperature then make up a fresh pot of caramel sauce to drizzle over the cake just before serving.

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Cut yourself a huge slice of this sinfully delicious cake, serve and ENJOY!

Doesn’t that caramel sauce make you want to run your finger across that plate, scoop up some sauce, and lick your finger?  😉

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Caramel Apple Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A super moist cake with chunks of sweet apples and a luscious caramel glaze
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
CAKE:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons apple pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and finely chopped
CARAMEL GLAZE:
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk
Instructions
Make the Cake:
  1. Mix the sugar and oil together in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, apple pie spice, salt and baking soda.
  3. Fold in the flour.
  4. Fold in the chopped apples.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until the cake tests done.
Make the Glaze:
  1. Cook the glaze in a small sauce pan on the stove, just until the butter and sugar melt and the sauce thickens.
  2. Pour the glaze over individual pieces or over the entire cake while it's still warm.
NOTE: I used Honey Crisp Apples (2 of them) -- I recommend them for this recipe. The apples stayed somewhat firm during the baking; they were definitely cooked through, and I liked that the apples didn't become mushy after baking.

 

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Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn’t love a good chocolate cookie?  Not only are these scrumptious cookies made with good quality cocoa powder, it’s doubly delicious with the addition of chunks of good quality bittersweet chocolate.  You can use semi-sweet chocolate chunks instead of bittersweet, but bittersweet chocolate gives you a very intense chocolate flavor that can’t be beat. cookies1
These delicious cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. cookies2

Enjoy them with a tall glass of cold milk.  My kids sure did! 🙂

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Make ice cream sandwiches IF you have any leftovers!

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar (for dough)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (for coating the cookie)
  • 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate pieces (may substitute with semi-sweet chocolate)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place ½ cup sugar in a shallow dish.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together the remaining ⅓ cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter.
  3. Mix together the egg white, corn syrup, and vanilla extract. Add to the butter-sugar mixture.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Add to the butter-sugar mixture.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then slowly mix in the chocolate pieces.
  6. Using a small cookie scoop (one that holds about 1 tablespoon of dough), drop scoops into the dish containing the ½ cup sugar to be used for coating. Roll the cookie dough in the sugar until it's entirely coated in sugar. Place balls of sugar-coated dough 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-11 minutes (do not bake any longer!). Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then remove them to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
Enjoy!

 

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