French Toast and Guest Stars on the West Coast

…as you might have noticed, I haven’t been posting for a little while. Craziness at work aside, I’ve spent the last several days preparing for–and then taking–my very first trip to California. Now I’m here in Silicon Valley, visiting my mom & younger brother, who made the exodus out here just a few short months ago.

While this trip was LONG overdue, I’m glad I had the chance to take it when I did: My plane touched down on the afternoon of my brother’s 12th birthday!

Even though I’m 13 years older than Jack, I have a really great relationship with him. When I moved home about a year and a half ago, he and I had a chance to bond over iCarly, Harry Potter, and cookies. Ever since he moved, however, it’s been harder to be a part of his life. I still call him to find out his reactions to the new episodes of iCarly or to hear about the newest handmade wand he purchased with leftover Christmas money, but it’s a lot harder to make cookies for him to taste-test.

Last spring, after he had a bad day with a bully, I made up a recipe that combined two of his favorite things: french toast and Snickerdoodles. Jack’s French Toast Cookies were an instant hit–and he’s been asking for them ever since. So it was only fitting that I make him some French Toast Cookies for his birthday.

And, because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with him (and not just hidden in the kitchen, while he played angry birds on Mom’s iPhone), I asked him if he wanted to help out. The answer? Well, I’ll let you see for yourself:

Love & Cookies,

KP

Unusual and unexpected

It happened innocently enough, a simple question asked in the back of house while my friends bit into the copy cat Thin Mint cookies I made for my friend Rhett’s birthday: “What kind of cookies should I make next?”

Of course I got the usual: banana cookies, chocolate chip, peanut butter…and I said, “fine, I’ll see what I can come up with.”

I didn’t get far, because the next day, my friend Sidney issued me a challenge: biscotti.

I’d never really tried to make biscotti before, since I’m more of your super-soft-and-chewy-pillowy-anything-peanut-butter-or-chocolate kind of gal, so the hard, crunchy, dip-me-in-coffee-or-break-your-teeth kind of cookie never really did it for me. But I took the challenge, because what kind of woman would I be if I let a challenge pass me by?

And then, of course, he threw a curveball: Pistachios, apricots, chocolate.

And so I made it happen.

What I like about these biscotti–twice baked cookies–is that they’re not the hard, stale-tasting cookies I remember coming on the side of my mom’s coffee saucer at an Italian restaurant. In fact, I suddenly understand why people like them so much. This particular recipe has the perfect combination between moisture & crumble, and when I bring them in to work, they disappear faster than any cookie I’ve made so far, Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies excepted (because the two are pretty much on par for disappearance speed).

What I find so funny is that they’re unexpectedly popular…It’s not every day that you hear requests for ingredients like apricots or pistachios, and biscotti are certainly not the first cookies you find at your typical bake sale. But I like that these cookies, despite their unusual nature, still have the charm and charisma, if you will, to outperform your run-of-the-mill peanut butter or sugar cookies.

Here’s how the biscotti are made:

PS Happy birthday, Sidney! Thank you for inspiring me to make these cookies–and to take the first steps to make KP’s Cookies a reality!

Love & Cookies,

KP

Vegans like cookies, too!

Around August first of this year, I became a vegan.

It was a spur-of-the-moment kind of decision…prior to that date, I was still holding onto the insane dream of being a competitive bodybuilder, and all that had gotten me was a stress fractured ankle, a weak shoulder, a couple of back injuries, and several pounds heavier. I was pounding my poor body with heavy weights, high intensity cardio/plyometric exercises, and too much protein, nearly all of it from animal sources.

I decided it was time for a change. I didn’t really publicize it, at least not until my strange food habits (i.e. bringing tempeh, kale, rainbow chard, and spinach salads to the food court on my lunch breaks) were questioned.

So it was kind of a shock when my little sister called me the other night and told me that she was trying veganism. Apparently, great minds think alike.

Of course, her announcement threw a wrench into the recipe that I was designing just for her…Here I was, prepared to create a cookie to reflect two of her favorite food groups (Pumpkin and Coffee, natch), and here she was, no longer eating the butter & eggs or milk-infused glaze that would make said cookie recipe shine.

Turns out, there was an easy fix for that. So, as of today, I present to the world my Vegan Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookies. I hope you enjoy them (and I hope that they give Ari a reason to come and visit asap)!

Love & Cookies,

KP

Oh, and PS: Frida helped with the clean up, because she’s helpful like that:

Puppy loves pumpkin!

Reconnected (with Double Mocha Caramel Cookies)

I know a lady never reveals her true age…but I guess I’m not much a lady because I have no problem telling you how absolutely freaked out I am by the concept that I am turning 25 next month.

I know that every 20-something blogger worth her weight in Facebook “likes” & retweets has put in her two cents on the concept of the quarter-life crisis, but I figure there’s no harm in adding my own loose change to the pot.

See, I don’t know when it happened, but two very big shifts happened in the last (gulp) seven years since high school. Shift one: My Facebook newsfeed (or whatever they’re calling the constant stream of status updates these days) went from displaying “what I drank last night at my (insert college and/or fraternity name here) party” to “what we drank at our wedding/engagement party/baby shower.” I’m not okay with this, since my longest relationship only lasted a few months (during several of which we didn’t even live in the same state), and the only child I’m ever going to have has fur and a tail.

and she *loves* being an only child....

 

Shift two: old, long lost friends have suddenly popped back into my life in a big way. People whose faces I haven’t seen since we graduated (and some I haven’t seen since we graduated middle school…) have shown up in my inbox, on my telephone, and even in the mall where I work. It’s pretty exciting, this whole concept of being reconnected…and it makes me wonder why I ever let some of these people fall out of my life.

I suppose that I shouldn’t look at my quarter-life crisis as a “crisis”–there’s a lot to look forward to in the next 3/4 of my life, especially if the amazing people who helped make the first part so great keep coming back.

I mention this because I filled my very first official order for KP’s cookies yesterday. The girl (woman? what are we now?) who ordered them was one of my very best friends through high school, and she and I really hadn’t had the chance to speak probably since the very first winter break of college (2005, I’m looking at you!). I made her dad a birthday batch of my Double Mocha Caramel Cookies. Here’s what the process looked like:

Hm. It’s strange….just as I’m dealing with one of the hardest transitions in my life (accepting my move into the other side of 20-something), so am I dealing with the two most difficult ingredients I could handle in my home kitchen. It’s all so time-bound–waste a moment and your sugar burns or your chocolate seizes. Turn your back and you’ve lost the whole recipe and have to start over. But do it right…well, do it right, and the sugar stays connected and the chocolate stays shiny & smooth. Do it right and you have a hell of a cookie on your hands. Or in your mouth. Whatever works for you.

Here’s hoping I get this right. Step one: make sure those reconnections are correctly bound into my life again so it’s shiny & smooth sailing to step two. Whatever that may be.

Love & Cookies,

KP

There’s nothing better than chocolate chip cookies…

I never thought I’d be a baker. In high school, I spent my time preparing to become the next Press Secretary to the President of the United States. And an English professor at an Ivy League school. And a Broadway-produced playwright/leading lady.

And then I made Matt a batch of cookies.

You see, back in high school, my best friend & I started going to Whole Foods & buying their amazing blueberry muffins to eat on the beach at sunset. And so I baked Matt a batch of blueberry muffins. And somehow that got us on the subject of chocolate chip cookies. I don’t remember the details, but I do remember that he prefers his chocolate chip cookies to be of the harder, browner variety, whereas I prefer the soft or chewy kind. Either way, I decided to bake a batch.

After some trial and error,  I stumbled upon a best-of-both-worlds kind of recipe–chocolate chip cookies that have the deep, full flavor of a harder, more browned cookie, but retain the bite of a chewy, soft cookie. The depth of flavor comes from the spices I add…and the fact that in my first batch I accidentally tripled the vanilla (and then never looked back!).

These cookies really are “Better than Chocolate Chip.” If you don’t believe me, ask my friends who taste-tested the batch I brought with me to work yesterday. Or don’t–because they’ll tell you not to eat them (so they can have them all for themselves!).

Here’s how I make my Better than Chocolate Chip cookies:

Turns out, being a baker is “better than” I could have ever expected in high school.

Love & Cookies,

KP

PS If you want to know more about what Matt’s doing to help New Haven Schools, check out this link! (and also this one!)