Archive for DESSERTS

Chocolate Chip, Walnut, Oatmeal Cookies

These have got to be the best cookies…EVER. Soft, chewy, and full of chocolaty goodness, it’s like Heaven in your mouth when you bite into this cookie.

This recipe is actually something I’ve seen circulating the internet for years. You may have heard of it — it’s called the Nieman Marcus $250 Cookie Recipe.

According to urban legend, someone bought a cookie at a Nieman Marcus store. He (or it could have been a “she”) liked the cookie so much that he asked the cafe clerk for the recipe. The clerk replied that the customer could have the recipe, but he had to purchase it. The customer agreed to pay for the recipe, only he did not look too closely at his receipt when he paid for it. Later, the customer realized that he paid $250 for the recipe. From that day on, the customer vowed to share the recipe with everyone so that his $250 purchase would be worth it.

I don’t know how true that story is, but whomever the real author of this cookie recipe is, I want to say a huge THANK YOU for creating and sharing a treasure!

Here’s the recipe. It’s a bit of a process, but it’s well worth it, I guarantee. You can easily halve this recipe. I make it as-is and give some to friends and neighbors. We make rather large cookies, and we’re still able to get about 5 dozen cookies out of this recipe.

Give it a try. I know you’ll love it as much as my family and I do. 🙂

The $250 Cookie Recipe


  • 5 cups oatmeal
  • 1 (8-oz.) Hershey bar
  • 4 sticks (or 2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups chopped nuts (I like walnuts)
  • 24 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Measure out the oatmeal then place in a blender or food processor. Grind the oatmeal until you get a fine flour-like consistency. Set it aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar.

3. Mix in the eggs and vanilla to the butter-sugar mixture.

4. Add half of the gound oatmeal, half of the flour, the baking soda, baking powder, and salt to the egg-butter mixture. Mix on low speed just until combined. Add the rest of the oatmeal and flour; mix to combine.

5. Mix in the nuts and chocolate chips. You can omit the nuts if you don’t like nuts in your cookies.

6. Form balls of dough (about two tablespoons of cookie dough per ball); place the balls of dough roughly 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.

7. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Let the cookies sit on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes after you take them out of the oven, then remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

8. Serve with a tall glass of milk and ENJOY!

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Fruit Pizza with a Sugar Cookie Crust

One of my favorite desserts is a fruit pizza.  My recipe uses a soft sugar cookie crust with a creamy vanilla filling.  Top this delectable dessert with your favorite fruit and voila! ~ you’ll have a dessert that will keep you coming back for more!

Give my recipe a try.  I know you’ll love it! 🙂

Fruit Pizza with a Sugar Cookie Crust



Cookie Crust:

Note: This dough makes enough for two pizzas, OR one pizza and a dozen sugar cookies, OR you can make two dozen sugar cookies.

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white, granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*Note: double the following ingredients for the filling if you are making two pizzas

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup white, granulated sugar
  • 1 large box instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Any fruit of your choosing, sliced.
  • For this particular pizza (see the photo), I used:
  • 1 can strawberry pie filling (use only the strawberries, not the thick sauce)
  • 2 cans mandarin slices, drained
  • 1 container fresh blueberries
  • 1 container fresh blackberries
Other items needed:
  • Parchment paper, cut to fit the size of your pizza or baking pan (go to Tips & Things for my instructions on how to cut parchment paper to fit your round baking pan)


Make the crust:

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Place the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Break the cream cheese into small pieces then add to the mixing bowl.

Melt the butter; pour into the mixing bowl while still hot. Using a whisk, mix the sugar, cream cheese and butter together until somewhat creamy (the hot butter will melt the cream cheese this is what you want to happen).

Next, add the oil; continue whisking until the mixture is nice and creamy.

Add in the egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk until all ingredients are thoroughly combined and the mixture is smooth and creamy.

Using a spatula or large mixing spoon, fold in the dry ingredients. Stir only to the point where you don’t see any large clumps of the flour mixture.

Line your pizza pan with parchment paper. Using either your fingers or a rolling pin, press the dough onto the parchment paper lined pan, stopping when the dough is about 1 1/2 inches from the edge of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the crust starts to become very lightly browned. Set the crust aside to cool then top with the filling then fruit.

Make the filling:

In a small mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese and sugar together until creamy. Mix in the box of instant vanilla pudding mix. Slowly mix in the milk and vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed until there are no lumps from either the cream cheese or pudding mix. Set aside.

Top the pizza:

Spread the filling on top of the cooled cookie crust. Top with your desired fruit slices. Serve chilled or at room temperature.



Make small balls (about the size of a ping pong ball) with the dough. Place onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Using a small spatula, slightly flatten the balls of dough (don’t flatten too much; the dough will expand during baking). Sprinkle different colored sugar sprinkles on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 13 minutes or until the edges of the cookies start to brown lightly. After baking, leave the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then remove to a cooking rack to finish cooling.

Sugar Cookies 2


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Buñelos Dågu

If you had to list your favorite Christmas food, what would they be?  I’d have too many to list since I have quite a few favorites, but up near the top would be Buñelos Dågu.

A delicious treat, these fried yam donuts, or Buñelos Dågu in Chamorro, are synonymous with Christmas.  This is perhaps because the yams are harvested during the Christmas season.

There are several varieties of yams that you can use to make these donuts.  If you live on Guam or the other Mariana Islands, you can use Dågu, Nika, or Gadu’.  There are also both White and Red varieties of Dågu (called Dågun Å’paka’ or Dågun Agaga’, respectively).

Donuts made with dågu tend to be brownish in color after frying.  Nika donuts are much lighter, a golden brown on the outside and creamy white in color on the inside.  While I like both types, I prefer Nika donuts.

Living in the states, I found a great substitute for the white yams we know on Guam as Nika. It’s called Nahme (pronounced nah-may) Root in some Asian Stores.  I’ve even seen it called Namee or Nami.  If your local Asian market doesn’t have it, check the Hispanic stores, or ask the store manager to order some for you.

This is what Nahme looks like.

Nahme Root

If you’re lucky, you can find some dågu as well.  They are quite large, and look like monstrous hands with lots of “fingers”.  Here’s a photo of dågu.


Aside from making donuts with the yams, you can cook them as you would potatoes.  Yams are delicious cooked in a chicken stew or kådu with coconut milk.

You don’t have to wait for Christmas to have these delicious donuts.  Visit your local Asian or Hispanic store and buy some yams then give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Buñelos Dågu

Bunelos dagu 2


  • 2 ­pounds yam (Namee, dagu, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup all-­purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Oil for frying


1.  Heat oil in a frying pan; the oil should come to about 1 inch in depth.

2.  Peel skin off the yam. Using the fine part of a box or hand­held grater, grate the yam into a mixing bowl.

When grating the yam, your skin might be mildly irritated.  The scientific explanation for this is that most yams contain oxalate crystals which can irritate the skin, mouth and sometimes tongue.  I get around this by wearing plastic gloves when I grate the yams.

3.  Mix in the flour, sugar, and baking powder.

4.  Drop batter by heaping tablespoonful into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, turning frequently to ensure even browning on all sides.

Modern conveniences make it so easy to drop the batter into the oil.  Back home on Guam, we’d scoop up a handful of batter then squeeze out dollops between our thumb and pointer.   It sounds difficult, but it’s actually quite easy to squeeze it out from between your fingers. It just takes practice. If you can’t get the hang of forming them this way, use a small ice cream scoop (the 1-tablespoon sized scoop). Dip the scoop in water then scoop out some batter; the batter will slide right out and not stick to the scoop.

Bunelos dagu 1

5.  Serve with maple syrup or a simple syrup.

To make a simple syrup: in a microwave safe cup or bowl, mix together 1 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup water.  Microwave on high until the sugar is melted.  Stir thoroughly.  Let the syrup cool slightly before using. 

bunelos dagu 3



Bunelos Dagu 2

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Coconut Candy

Coconut candy is an island dessert that’s so simple to make, and fun to get the kids involved in making it.

Growing up, we’d make this a lot during Chamorro Week at school.  This was also a popular treat at bake sales; coconut candy was usually the first item to sell out.

Freshly grated coconut is a key ingredient, but you can easily substitute it with frozen grated coconut.  Just be sure NOT to use the sweetened coconut flakes.  I love the taste of coconut, but to me, the best part of this candy is the caramelized sugar (yum!).

Give my recipe a try…get the kids involved in making them too.  I’m sure they’d love making AND eating it. 🙂

Coconut Candy

Coconut Candy - 14


  • 2 large coconuts
  • 2 cups white, granulated sugar


1.  Finely grate the coconut; the smaller/finer the coconut flakes, the better.  You should get roughly 4 cups of grated coconut from 2 large coconuts.  If you can’t find fresh coconuts or don’t have a kåmyu (coconut grater), you can buy frozen grated coconut–make sure you use the UNsweetened kind.

Coconut Candy - 01

Before continuing with the directions, I think it’s important to explain how to choose fresh coconuts.  On Guam, we either cut the coconuts off the trees or pick up the brown ones (niyok) off the ground, then shake them vigorously, listening for the telltale sloshing of the coconut juice.  If you live in the states, it’s sometimes difficult to find coconuts that haven’t already spoiled.  For this batch, I actually bought four coconuts knowing I only needed two.  Sure enough, two of them ended up being spoiled and moldy inside.  Before buying coconuts, shake them.  You should hear (and feel) liquid sloshing around inside.  If you don’t hear and feel any liquid while shaking the coconut, do NOT buy it–it’s gone bad already.  The coconut should also feel rather heavy.  A coconut that either has very little liquid sloshing around or feels light (compared to the weight of other coconuts) are an indicator that the coconut meat inside is dried out or spoiled.

The coconuts I bought–the ones that ended up being bad–had liquid in them when I shook them.  However, the coconuts must have sat in the store for who knows how long. In one of the coconuts, the liquid smelled sour (a sure sign of spoilage) and the meat felt slimy (yuck).  The other bad coconut, after cracking it open, had mold growing between the meat and shell (more yuck!).  And to think I paid about $2 for each coconut….

For those of you living on Guam or in a place where coconut trees abound and you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for them, be thankful.  Ahh…how I miss those days when I could just go out to the back yard and husk open coconuts that just fell off the trees.

Anyhow, on to making coconut candy.

2.  Caramelize the sugar.

Place the sugar into a large frying pan set over low heat.

Coconut Candy - 02

Leave the sugar alone until you see it begin to melt.

Using a heavy duty spoon or heat-safe rubber spatula, scrape the sugar from the edge of the pan to the middle.  You’re doing this for a couple of reasons — first, you want to keep the melted sugar from browning too fast and burning.  Second, you’re moving the unmelted sugar to the hotter spots on the pan to begin melting.

The photo below shows a bit of clumping of unmelted and melted sugar.  Don’t worry if yours looks like this — keep cooking the sugar over low heat and those clumps will melt right out.

Coconut Candy - 07

Keep cooking (and stirring) over low heat…


…and cooking/stirring some more.

Whew!  FINALLY the sugar is melted with a nice caramel color.  Use the back of your spoon to smush any stray lumps of sugar (like the ones shown below).

Coconut Candy - 08

3.  Add the coconut to the caramelized sugar.

The sugar will solidify after adding the coconut, but don’t worry, the sugar will re-melt.

Coconut Candy - 09

This is what the mixture looks like, with the sugar hardening after adding the coconut.

Coconut Candy - 10

Keep cooking the coconut-sugar mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar re-melts. Turn off the heat once the sugar is melted again.  Stir the mixture one last time to evenly mix the sugar and coconut together.

Coconut Candy - 11

4.  Form the candy.

Using a couple of tablespoons (I used a small cookie scoop), scoop small amounts of coconut candy onto a piece of waxed or parchment paper.

Coconut Candy - 12

Let the candy cool for a couple of minutes, then use your impeccably clean hands to roll the candy into balls.  Wrap each ball of candy with plastic wrap.  The candy will keep for about 2 weeks (at room temperature), but I highly doubt they’ll last that long (before it gets devoured).  ENJOY! 🙂

Coconut Candy - 15


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Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Chips

Pumpkin bread, pumpkin turnovers, pumpkin muffins, and now, Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls–with chocolate chips too!  If I didn’t already have you at “cinnamon rolls”, you must surely be hooked now that I mentioned these yummilicious rolls have the added indulgence of Chocolate Chips!

I may have mentioned this in previous posts, but it’s worth repeating–I love anything made with pumpkin! 😀

These rolls are perfect for breakfast, or as an added dessert item on your Thanksgiving menu.

Wait…I forgot that not only are these PUMPKIN cinnamon rolls with CHOCOLATE, these are laced with orange inside and out.  I added orange zest to the filling; I also used orange juice to the glaze (I learned this one from my friend, Vikki Z.).  I have a daughter that doesn’t care for the addition of orange zest in the filling, but I think it takes these rolls over the top and sets it apart from the average cinnamon roll.  You can leave it out, of course, but I like it “in”.

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

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Chocolate Chips



  Yeast mixture:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 3 packets active dry yeast
  • 1 can (15-oz) pumpkin purée
  • 2 tablespoons good quality honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 1/2 to 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • Optional:  1 teaspoon orange zest (or use 1 teaspoon orange extract)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips, about 1 cup
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice


1.  Prepare the yeast mixture.

Place the water in a microwave-safe cup.  Stir in the brown sugar.

image image

Heat the water-sugar mixture in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  The liquid must be between 98-105 degrees.  I find it best to use an instant-read thermometer to ensure the liquid is the right temperature.  Too cool and the yeast won’t proof properly.  Too hot and it will kill the yeast.  101 degrees–or somewhere between 98 and 105 degrees–is perfect.


Once the liquid is at the right temperature, add the yeast.  I’m often asked what a “packet” of yeast looks like.  The photo below shows three packets, which is how they are commonly sold, in a set of three packets.


Pour the yeast into the warm liquid.  Stir the mixture to dissolve the yeast.

image image


Let the yeast mixture sit for about 5-10 minutes.  It should get very frothy, like what’s pictured below.

image image image

2.  Prepare the dough.  I suggest measuring out all of your ingredients beforehand.  The yeast will proof quickly on you, so you’ll want all of the ingredients measured out before you start to proof the yeast (in step 1 above).

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, place the pumpkin purée.  You can also do this by hand, but I prefer to use a heavy-duty stand mixer, like a KitchenAid, which is what I have.


Add the eggs to the bowl.


Melt the butter.  Let it cool for a couple of minutes then add it to the mixing bowl.

image image

Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, mix the ingredients together for a few seconds.


Add the pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt to the bowl.  Mix again for a few seconds.

image image

By now the yeast should be very foamy — pour the yeast mixture into the mixing bowl; mix to combine.

image image

Mix in 3 cups of flour.

image image

After mixing in the flour, take off the paddle attachment and switch to the dough hook.


Mix in the remaining flour, a half cup at a time.  You might not need all 6 cups of flour.


Stop adding flour when the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.  Depending on how humid it is where you live, you might actually need to add more flour (up to a cup more–7 cups total).  The higher the humidity level,  the more flour you may need since flour absorbs liquid in the air (depending on how you store your flour, that is).  Anyhow, 6 cups of flour is about the norm.  If you’re mixing this by hand, do not use more than 7 cups of flour.  The dough will be slightly sticky, but that’s normal.  Too much flour and your bread will be very tough.


After you’ve mixed in all the flour, set your mixer to low speed.  This begins the kneading process; continue mixing for 5 minutes.  If you’re kneading by hand, knead for 8-10 minutes (resist adding flour while hand-kneading–if the dough is sticking to your hands, lightly oil your hands or spray your hands with cooking spray to prevent sticking).

This is what the dough looks like after 5 minutes of kneading.


It’s now time to let the dough rise.  Place the dough into a glass bowl that’s been buttered or sprayed with butter-flavored cooking spray.  I also lightly spray the top of the dough (so the plastic wrap won’t stick to it–see below).


Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap then place a clean dish towel on top of the bowl.  Place the bowl in a dry, warm place to rise until doubled in size.  The time it takes to rise depends on how warm your rising spot is.  It could take anywhere from 30 minutes to more than an hour.  Patience is key.

I usually turn my oven to the Warm setting right when I begin my kneading process.  After 3 minutes of warming up, I turn the oven heat off and turn the oven light on.  This makes the perfect warm place for rising.  It takes about 30 minutes for my dough to rise in this setting.


3.  While the dough is rising, make your filling.

In a small bowl, place the softened butter, brown sugar, and optional orange zest.  If you decide to add orange zest, make sure you don’t get any of the white pith–it will make your filling bitter.  Mix to combine.

image image

Mix in the cinnamon.  Set the filling aside until the dough is ready.

image image

4.  Fill and roll the dough.

This is what the dough looks like after it’s doubled in size.


Generously flour a clean work surface.  Place the dough onto the floured surface — do NOT punch down the dough or knead it again.


Roll out the dough into a rectangle.


Gently spread the butter-cinnamon-orange mixture over the entire surface of the dough, stopping about a half inch from the edge.

image image

Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the butter-cinnamon-orange mixture.


Starting at the long edge, carefully roll up the dough, jelly-roll style.


Using a sharp knife (dental floss works well too), slice pieces of dough, about the width of your finger.  Place the slices into a buttered pan (you can use butter-flavored cooking spray too).  I recommend placing the slices about 1/2-1 inch apart to allow the dough to rise evenly.


Spray the top of the sliced dough with cooking spray then cover with plastic wrap.  Place the pan in a warm place to rise again, until the slices are touching.


Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven; let the rolls cool slightly while you prepare the glaze.


5.  Make the glaze.

In a small mixing bowl, place the powdered sugar.


Add the milk, maple syrup and orange juice.  Whisk to combine.

image image

6.  Drizzle the glaze over the top of the warm rolls.  Serve immediately and ENJOY!!



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