classic cookie salad

I’ve been watching so many '60s period dramas that dressing up to make cookie salad felt like a fun thing to do. And it totally was! I figured since we had so much fun with classic tater tot hotdish, it was also time to make another classically upper Midwestern delicacy, the cookie salad. Cookie salad blows the other upper Midwest sweet salads, like candy bar salad, out of the water. Easily. It’s not like hotdish, where wild rice and tater tot would definitely make for an edge-of-your-seat 7-game neck-and-neck series. It’s truly more like a UND hockey team versus every team in their conference situation, where they are just in an entirely different league and there are fireworks at every game. 

A typical cookie salad consists of the following things:

Fudge stripe cookies 

Canned Mandarin oranges or sliced bananas

Vanilla instant pudding mix stirred into buttermilk

frozen whip

They all get mixed together into a fluffy puddingy dessert and then topped with crushed cookies or cookies broken in half and stuck on top to look like little tombstones. This is an important distinction. Your family either crushes or breaks and there’s not a whole lot of overlap except for now because Eggmom crushes and look, I break. I just like the aesthetic, ok? Eggmom taught me both though. She also taught me that mini marshmallows and jelly beans are acceptable mix-ins (I love the textural sensation that marshmallows add).

And,

Ok,

Here is where things get a little…different: Eggmom serves this with the main course. And so does everyone else!!!!! I thought I was hearing things when she said she serves it with the ham (!!!!) but as I dug further and further it slowly became clear that this. is. actually. served. with. the. salads. and. not. the. desserts. 

This is a next level sweet/savory relationship, right???? 

If ham and cookie salad can work as a marriage then surely we aren’t all doomed.

I present to you, my audition picture for women laughing alone with salad:

On my journey to a homemade cookie salad, I did the following:

Made homemade fudge stripes! I went with a simple buttery shortbread that’s sweet and crispy and has a hint of almond. And rather than dealing with the mess of getting chocolate on the bottom, like regular fudge stripes, I gave them thicker-than-usual stripes on top. 

In place of the pudding + buttermilk combo, I experimented a bit with making homemade buttermilk pudding but found the buttermilk to be just too sour for my tastes. I don’t remember it being this sour when Eggmom made me hers. I wonder if something in the instant pudding packets offsets the sourness of buttermilk. Instead I went with a rich vanilla pastry cream.

And instead of frozen whip I obviously went with a good old fresh whip because duh. I’ve always been a sucker for fresh whip, it is the heavy cream at its best. I’m using Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream here which has a deliciously pure flavor. 

I stuck with the canned mandarins for this but you could definitely go with fresh mandarins as well. 

Lastly, here is a pro-tip: make this the day before so the cookies soak in the pudding and take on a cake-like texture. It is so satisfying. I love it forever. And of course the fact that this can be prepped a day (or even two days!) ahead of time makes this a perfect Thanksgiving dessert. I mean salad! Omg. 


Classic Cookie Salad

Serves 8

ingredients

For the pudding

3 tb (24g) all-purpose flour

6 tb (75g) sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3 egg yolks

1 1/2 c (360g) Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

 

For the cookies

1 1/4 c (159g) all-purpose flour, more for dusting

1/2 c (60g) powdered sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract 

1/2 tsp almond extract 

1/2 c (113g) Land O Lakes® European Style Unsalted Butter, cold and cubed

5 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

For assembly

1 1/2 c (360g) Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream

1/4 c (30g) powdered sugar

2 (11 oz) cans mandarin orange slices

Sprinkles, optional

Clues

To make the pudding, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the egg yolks and then the heavy cream. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until it’s thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, pour into a heat safe bowl, and cover with plastic wrap so that it touches the surface of the pudding. Refrigerate until cooled, about 1 hour or overnight. 

To make the cookies, combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. With the mixer running on low, add the vanilla and almond extracts and then gradually add the butter. Mix until the mixture comes together into a dough, slowly increasing the speed once you’re confident that doing so won’t result in flour flying everywhere. Divide the dough in half, press into discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight. (If you’re impatient, fine, skip this step.)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8”-1/4” thick. Cut out 2” circles with a biscuit cutter and then use a big piping tip to cut out 1/2” holes from the center. (Re-roll scraps as needed.) Place them on the baking sheets an inch apart and then bake until they’re jusssst starting to brown around the edges, start checking for doneness at 12 minutes. Let cool on the pans. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each. Let it cool slightly and then pour it into a piping bag. Snip off the tip and then pipe on 4 thick chocolate stripes. Let the chocolate harden at room temp or in the fridge.

To assemble, first make the whipped cream. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the cream and powdered sugar to stiff peaks. In a large bowl, fold together the whipped cream and pudding. Crush the cookies by hand or in a ziplock bag with a rolling pin or other blunt object (reserving 6-8 for the topping) and fold them in. Drain the mandarin slices and fold those in (reserve some of these for the topping too). Top with remaining cookies, mandarin slices, and sprinkles. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. 

-yeh!

thanks to land o’lakes for sponsoring this post!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

turkish coffee brownies

Ok some little life updates!

The snow is here to stay, I believe. I keep seeing the high of 37º that’s in the forecast for the middle of the week and get very nervous that the snow will leave but Eggboy has assured me that because the ground is frozen the snow likely won’t be going anywhere.

I wear one kind of sock now. They are thick hiking socks, made by Stance, that hug my feet and will never get holes. I never thought I would feel so satisfied about finding a good sock but then again I also never thought that I’d be living in the north pole. 

It’s floor length parka weather!! 

I am in a fantasy figure skating league. I didn’t rank so well for the Cup of China but I’m hoping to be as familiar with this year’s competitors as possible so that the Olympics are that much more exciting. I’ve also obviously begun planning my Olympic party menus, which, no offense to my friends, will probably be served during all of the other sports besides figure skating because when the Shib Sibs come on I’ll need to be in silence and alone so that I can weep. 

An embarrassing amount of my time these days is spent looking for an outfit for my 10 year high school reunion. Do I wear a dress that shows that I’ve been going to the gym an average of 3.5 times a week and eating my yogurt? Or do I wear a wool romper that says that I don’t care if they care that I’ve gone to the gym an average of 3.5 times a week and et my yogurt? Or do I just wear my winter going out uniform of a dark grey turtleneck and dark jeans because it’s comfy and this is about seeing my old friendsies?????? Do they even want to see me????? Will there be name tags??? Should I wax my eyebrows?? Plz send help. But mostly Shopbop gift cards. 

Macaroni have let themselves go. It gets dark around here practically right after lunch and then doesn’t get light again until after my twelfth coffee so there is basically just enough sunlight to foster the entire Macaroni flock laying a collective one egg a day. It is so dumb!!!! The ones who lay the blue eggs have just stopped. 🙄 Come on you silly birds. 

It’s fine though cause I’ve also let myself go and went to bed at 9:50 last night. Yolo!

So in keeping with the theme of letting ourselves go, let’s make something that will be ready by the time the sun goes down. It always blows my mind how quickly and easily brownies come together and I wonder why I don’t make them more often. But easiness does not equal a lack of fanciness in this case, no way. These brownies are based off of my mom’s fudgey schnapps brownies (in Molly on the Range) but instead of schnapps, they’re taking on a flavor profile inspired by Turkish coffee, which often has cardamom mixed in. I first had a Turkish coffee brownie at Fargo’s cute little bagel shop, Bernbaum’s, and recognized its beauty right away. Coffee and chocolate are an obvious good match, but coffee and chocolate and cardamom??? That is a power trio on par with Haim, ya dig? I’ve added a bit of cinnamon as well to help drive home the warmth of the cardamom and the result is one truly fancy brownie.

And a fancy brownie needs a fancy nut!!! Here I’ve added Heirloom Walnuts, which are part of Diamond of California’s new line of Heirloom Reserve Nuts (Pecans and Marcona Almonds are the other two nuts in this line). These walnuts are a varietal that have remained unchanged for generations and have natural, beautifully rustic irregularities. They lend wonderful flavor and texture to these brownies!!


turkish coffee brownies

makes 16 brownies

ingredients

1/2 c (64g) all-purpose flour

1 c (200g) sugar

1/3 c (27g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

2 tsp instant espresso powder

1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter, melted but not hot

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 c (90g) toasted chopped diamond of california heirloom walnuts, plus more for topping

 

for the glaze:

1 c (120g) powdered sugar

3 tb (15g) cocoa powder

3 tb unsalted butter, melted

1 tb brewed coffee or 1/4 tsp espresso powder + 1 tb water

1 tb (21g) honey

1/4 tsp cardamom

Pinch salt

1 tsp vanilla

 

Sprinkles, for topping

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8” by 8” pan and line with parchment paper, allowing 1” wings to hang over the edges.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and espresso powder. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the walnuts and pour the mixture into the pan. Spread it out evenly (it will be quite a thin layer) and bake for 25 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Lift them out of the pan and place on the rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, whisk all ingredients until smooth. Pour the glaze on the brownies, spread it around, and top with walnuts and sprinkles. Let dry and then cut into squares. Enjoy!

-yeh!

Thank you to diamond nuts for sponsoring this post! Starting this month, their new line of Heirloom Reserve Nuts are available in the produce sections of fine grocery retailers. To learn more about Diamond of California, visit their website and follow their Instagram and Facebook.

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

pictured: plate, pan, pot, pastry cutter

my dad's coconut cream pie!

A few years ago, my dad, who has always been more of an eater/human garbage disposal than a cook, casually started mentioning his “famous coconut cream pie.” I would get text message pictures on pi day of this pie, or he would just throw it into everyday conversation about dessert, and one time when our family convened in Los Angeles he had brought an entire pie on the airplane from Chicago. This coconut cream pie thing all seemed to happened out of nowhere, I don't remember him making it when I was little, it just became his "thing" all of a sudden! And I don’t know how it became famous or if it actually is famous, I think he just started calling it that one day?!?? I asked him about it once and he named someone from work who thought it was famous or something… so he went with it. Stoopie and I eventually just shrugged it off and went with it because why not??

And then a lot of things became clear when I made the connection that Eggboy, who is also nary a cook, has his one pie that he makes and, on good years, considers to be very famous. And then I thought: Am I, as a deeply loyal member of #teamcake (well, until very recently), forcing all of the pie-loving humans in my family to step out of their comfort zones and make their own pies? And then I thought: 🙄🙄🙄 I should shut up and not make this about me. 

So then I decided that I shouldn’t dwell on the origins of this pie and whether or not it actually is famous and instead I should learn how to make it. So! I texted my dad for the recipe and he sent back a picture of a printout of a Martha Stewart recipe from 2010 that had some very important annotations in the margins. Martha’s recipe was your typical pudding pie, made with a chocolate cookie crust and topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut. But, as my dad had penciled in, it should be made with 80 chocolate cats (referring to the Trader Joe's cookies), not the 30 wafers that it called for, and it should be made in a springform pan, not a pie pan. And the pudding should be made in a medium saucepan, not a small saucepan. Idk if there is an exact reason for the cats other than that they’re cute and you get to call for “80 cats” in an ingredient list which is fun, but the reason for the springform pan is so that you can see the whipped cream on the sides. And I like the look, it’s so geometrically pleasing! 

I took the recipe for a test run before my dad’s visit, and because our nearest Trader Joe’s is a million miles away, I went the old fashioned route, ordered a plump lil cat cookie cutter online, and made my cats. And because I was making them from scratch, I thought why not make the cats themselves coconutty?? So I threw in some of bob's red mill coconut flour, and this completed their journey to becoming coconut cocoa coco cats. (Coco is one of our farm cats who usually gets out shined by Sven because she is less of a dog cat, but she’s great and plump like these cookies and I named her!) I wanted to make these cocoa cocos with just coconut flour but it turns out that coconut flour is mainly a flavor enhancer, as opposed to a substitute for all-purpose flour. Too much coconut flour will make dense grainy cats, so you just need a little of it to get good flavor! And because they’re plumper than Trader Joe’s cats, you only need about 40 of them. 

I think the only other change I made from my dad’s/Martha’s recipe was to use unsweetened coconut, since it’s easier to control the sweetness that way and since I love the look of the toasted flakes on top. I think pops agreed! I tried to get away with skipping the step where you bake the crust because I typically like a denser moister cookie crust, but he would hear none of that. It had to be crispy like a cookie, he said. And once I stopped being lazy and added that baking step back in, I saw what he meant. Overall I think our pie kicked butt!! It's got a big thick crust (we love crust in this family!!!!), a pudding that is just sweet enough, tons of whipped cream, and a great rustic yet clean aesthetic. It’s definitely worthy of being famous. Right?! Right.

You know what your Thanksgiving dessert table needs? This. And you know what can be made ahead of time?? This!

coconut cream pie

makes one 9" pie

ingredients

For the cats:

1 1/2 c (190g) bob’s red mill all-purpose flour
7 tb (50g) bob’s red mill coconut flour
1 c (80g) unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 c (225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c (150g) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp coconut extract

For the crust:

5 tb (63g) unrefined coconut oil
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/3 c (27g) unsweetened shredded coconut

For the filling:

2 3/4 c (660g) whole milk
4 large yolks
2/3 c (132g) sugar
1/3 c (43g) cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla bean
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 c (100g) unsweetened shredded coconut

For the topping:

1 1/2 c (360g) heavy whipping cream
1/2 c (40g) unsweetened coconut flakes
Shaved chocolate or chocolate sprinkles

clues

to make the cats: preheat the oven to 325ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment paper.


in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, coconut flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. mix in the vanilla extract and coconut extract. with the mixer running on low speed, add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. it will still be a bit crumbly. pour the mixture onto a work surface and give it a few kneads to bring it all together. (at this point you can wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour, up to overnight, but I find that the dough is stiff enough that this isn't totally necessary).
on a work surface, roll out the dough to 1/4" thickness, dusting with cocoa powder if the dough is sticky, and cut out small cats or 1 1/2" circles. transfer them to the baking sheets, 1" apart (using a small offset spatula helps with this step). re-roll the scraps and cut out more rounds. 


bake the cookies until the tops are no longer shiny, about 12 minutes. let cool on the pan. Cookies can be made up to a couple of days in advance and stored at room temperature.

To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325ºf. Line the bottom of a 9” springform pan with parchment and set it aside. In a food processor, combine 40 of your ugliest cats (you'll have some leftover and since those are staying in tact you want them to be the pretty ones) with the coconut oil and salt and pulse until the mixture is sandy and starts to clump together. Add the coconut and pulse just a couple more times to get it evenly distributed. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan, pressing it up against the sides to give it a 1-1 1/2” tall crust and bake until set, 25 minutes. Let it cool. 

To make the filling: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt. Cook over medium high, whisking constantly, until thickened. Stir in the shredded coconut and pour into the cooled crust. Refrigerate for 2 hours, until set. (This can be done up to 2 days in advance; keep covered in the refrigerator.)

To make the topping: With an electric mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Spread it on the pie. Toast the flaked coconut in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown. Let it cool and sprinkle it on the pie. Top with shaved chocolate or chocolate sprinkles and refrigerate until ready to serve. When you’re ready to take it out of the pan, run a small offset spatula around the edge and carefully remove the sides. Enjoy! 
 

-yeh!

Thanks to bob's red mill for sponsoring this post!

marzipan challah hedgehogs

Yogurt book is submitted and I have officially trained myself to never be able to cook with yogurt without feeling like I should be watching Pretty Little Liars and vice versa. In the same way that I wrote Molly on the Range with Sia going on full blast in the wee hours of the morning, I had nothing but PLL on while testing these recipes and I timed it pretty well because I only have about six episodes left in the whole series. I have no idea what’s going on but I do know that Aria’s hair and eyebrows just get better and better. 

In these last few weeks I kept having these moments when I’d drive all the way across town to the Super Target, the closest grocery that sells whole milk Greek yogurt that doesn’t have pectin in it, place four tubs in my cart and do a little cheer to the tune of this is my last Greek yogurt run until my deadline!! Only to have six more failed yogurt loaves come out of the oven before having to do that all over again. Luckily Classical Minnesota Public Radio really brings it and has made my long yogurt runs extra enjoyable. And also luckily, I finally made a really good yogurt loaf and am just generally extremely excited for all of the yogurt recipes in this little book!!! 

I am pretty sure it’s coming out in March but once I know more about release deets I’ll be sure to talk your ears off about it. 

Now it’s time to cook through some recipes that I’ve been wanting to make these past few weeks but couldn’t because I had yogurt chicken and yogurt pita to test. 

This week I’m helping Alana test the beef stew recipe for her book and I’m gonna eat it while it snows outside (!!!!!!). Then we’re going to take our holiday card picture, then we’re gonna put up our Chrismukkah bush, and then I’m going to practice my cookie swap cookies because I’ve got a cookie swap title to defend.

But how was your Halloween??? Did you dress up? We had very chill costumes. This whole time I was planning to be cookie salad but then I kept stressing out about the chocolate from the cookies getting on my clothes and wasn’t really sure what I would do until I woke up Saturday morning and decided to go as the little girl who walked in on her dad’s BBC interview. I dug up my yellow sweater, put on some pig tails, reached into my Quin Candy lollipop stash and taped that professor’s face on a paint stick. Eggboy went as Luke from Gilmore Girls so all he had to do was wear his hat backwards, carry a coffee carafe, and yell at you for using your cell phone. We went to Sheila and Dave’s annual party and Dave wore a banana suit and a bandana and was banana’s foster wallace, lolol.  

Here is a challah recipe that I’ve been so excited about since I first made it back in March at Nosh Berlin: marzipan stuffed challah hedgehogs! Or, as I learned there, they would be Challah Igel, auf Deutsch. They are doughy little challah rolls with a sweet almond filling and glaze on top that can either be a yarmulke or… fur…? Quills? Spiky bits. Sorry, I don’t know hedgehog anatomy. The slivered almond topping gives them a nice crunch, and these hedgehogs in fact have two lives: 

  1. When they first cool down just enough to hold their glaze and you have a fresh plump treat that’s perfect with a spot of tea.
  2. The next day when they’re no longer fresh and you’re like “what am I supposed to do with all of these dead hedgehogs?” And you make bread pudding. Zomg these hedgehogs make the best bread pudding ever. So almondy, so soft. It almost might behoove you to just make a double batch to ensure that you’ll have enough to make bread pudding. This is the basic bread pudding recipe that I use, and it wouldn’t hurt to add a small splash of almond extract in with the milk.

I’m posting these guys today as another nod to my German friends in celebration of the release of Molly’s Kitchen and also because they’d be a great holiday treat! And if you haven’t started planning your holiday menus yet what are you even doing???


marzipan challah hedgehogs

makes 14 rolls

ingredients

for the challah:

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

3/4 c warm water (105º-110ºf)

1/4 c (50g) + 1 tsp sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

3 1/4 c (413g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 large eggs

1/3 c (67g) flavorless oil, like canola or vegetable

 

for the filling:

1/4 c (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 c (150g) sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1 large egg, separated

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 1/2 c (168g) almond flour

 

Black sesame seeds, for decorating

 

for the glaze:

1 1/2 c (180g) powered sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract

5-6 tsp whole milk

 

Slivered almonds, for decorating

clues

To make the challah dough, in a medium bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon sugar and give it a little stir. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl or the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the salt, flour, and remaining sugar. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil.

When the yeast is foamy, add it to the dry mixture immediately followed by the egg mixture and stir to combine. Knead, either by hand on a floured surface or with a dough hook for 7-10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary (but resist any urge to add too much!), until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the marzipan filling. In a medium bowl, mix together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until combined. Mix in the salt and egg white (reserve the egg yolk for the egg wash), and then add the almond extract, and stir in the almond flour.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375ºF.

When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a clean surface (dust with a little flour if it’s too sticky) and divide into 14 balls. Fill each ball with a heaping tablespoon of filling and seal it well to shut. Place the balls seem side down on the baking sheets, spaced evenly apart. Let rise for 30 more minutes. In a small bowl beat the reserved egg yolk with a splash of water and, working with three rolls at a time, brush the egg wash onto the rolls, use scissors to make two 1/2” cuts on one side for ears, and tweezers to stick on two black sesame seeds for eyes. (If you wait too long after brushing on the egg wash, it will dry and the sesame seeds won’t stick, so that’s why you don’t want to work with no more than three rolls at a time.)

Bake until golden brown, begin checking for doneness at 20 minutes.

Let cool and then make the glaze. In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, almond extract, and 5 teaspoons milk. If it’s too thick to spread, add additional milk, a couple of drops at a time, until it's spreadable. Working one at a time, spread a circle of glaze onto the rolls and then top with overlapping rows of slivered almonds.

Enjoy!


-yeh!