Rum Balls

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Ever since I was a kid, holidays centered around two things: family time and food! Both my grandmothers are great cooks and bakers, so holidays were always full of amazing food. Christmas Eve was spent at my mom’s parents’ house, where we would have our big family dinner and open presents at midnight, as is tradition in my Norwegian family.

(It was also tradition for the kids to play or color while the adults played Monopoly or cards. I even remember one Christmas where a particularly heated game of Monopoly kept the parents shooing us away until almost 2am!)

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Christmas morning, as the early-riser in the house, I would wake up the rest of the family with great excitement. After breakfast and presents, we’d head over to my dad’s parents’ house. More food and tons of baked goods would always greet us at my grandmother’s house. And one of my favorites, which was really only made during the holidays, was my grandmother’s rum balls!

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For anyone not familiar with rum balls, they are a dense, sweet unbaked cookie. Flavored with chocolate and rum, they are similar to a truffle. Traditional rum balls are usually coated in chocolate sprinkles, powdered sugar, or cocoa powder. But my grandmother modified the recipe slightly and decided to coat the balls in sanding sugar, giving the rum balls a sweet crunchy coating!

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Assembling the rum ball dough is pretty simple. The time-consuming part is rolling and coating all the balls, which is why I suppose my grandmother usually recruited my sister and me to help. The best part about helping though, besides getting to pinch a few rum balls, was licking the chocolate off of our hands! 😉

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This year, I tracked down the recipe from my grandmother and made up a batch of rum balls to share with my friends. And they were devoured so quickly that I made a second batch last night to keep for myself and the boyfriend. Now I just have to resist grabbing one each time I open the fridge… 😛

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

Download the recipe!

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Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Vegan Banana Chocolate-Chip Cookies

To preface this post, I am not vegan. I do this in case it’s not obvious in some of my earlier posts about foods that are definitely NOT-vegan… But I do have several friends who are vegan, and I like to cook/bake for them when I can. (I do the same for my friends who are gluten-intolerant, so I promise that some gluten-free recipes will be coming too!)

I first made these cookies to hand out at my first regional Burn. I’d made about 500 cookies to gift over the weekend, and I wanted to make sure my vegan friends didn’t feel left out. After that, these cookies became my go-to vegan recipe because they are amazing, whether you are vegan or not! They are like little banana bread cookies: crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and loaded with chocolate chips!

It’s been over two years since I first made these cookies, based on a recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Since then, the recipe has evolved, as has my education on cooking and baking vegan. Personally, I sometimes gravitate towards vegan foods because I’m severely lactose intolerant, and vegan foods are frequently the only way I can ensure no tummy troubles later in the day…

A few important things to remember about this recipe:

  • The more disgusting your bananas look, the tastier they are! I like to let my bananas turn mostly black, and then I stick them in the fridge until I’m ready to use them. It looks and feels gross, but the extra kick of banana flavor is totally worth it!
  • Make sure you use quick-cooking oats or rolled oats and not instant/minute oatmeal.
  • Vegan chocolate chips are getting easier to find. Personally, I use this variety from Enjoy Life, which I first found at Whole Foods. (They’re now also carried by my local Target!) I’ve tried a few other brands of vegan chocolate and carob chips, and these are my favorite!
  • If you’re not concerned about making the cookies totally vegan, you can use white sugar and regular miniature chocolate chips. Vegan or not, they’re super-tasty!

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Monster Five-Chip Cookies

Monster Five-Chip Cookies

When I was a kid, about 10 or 11 years old, I remember my mom making these amazing cookies filled with different types of chocolate and not-chocolate chips. Even though I swore to her that these cookies and the lingering half-full bags of chips that my sister and I would pick at existed, she could not remember them. She only made them once, and the recipe was apparently lost. Over the years, I mostly forgot about the elusive cookies, though a memory would peak up every now and then.

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This weekend, when I was trying to decide what to bake and blog about this week, I remembered my resolution to bake more cookies! Cookies were one of the first baked goods that I gravitated towards. They’re soft and sweet and have built-in serving sizes! So I mulled around on different cookie ideas and these cookies popped in to my head… Like I said, they’re hard to forget!

It’s been over 15 years, but I’ve finally pulled together a recipe and recreated these cookies. They’re like a regular chocolate chip cookies, with the amp turned up to 12! The peanut butter and oatmeal cookie base is studded with five different types of chips: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, butterscotch, and peanut butter. And some chopped walnuts are added for a little bit of extra crunch.

Sooo many chips

While I remember my mom making these cookies in normal-cookies sizes, I decided to bulk them up a bit. I wanted to make sure each cookie had a little bit of every type of chip!

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cookies

Happy Cookie Swap Day! The 2nd Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is officially over, which means that it’s time for me to post my cookie swap recipe. According to Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil, the swap raised over $4,400 for Cookies for Kid’s Cancer and more than 20,000 cookies were shipped around the world! I really enjoyed participating in this year’s swap, from coming up with my own cookie recipe to receiving other blogger’s cookies! And I look forward to reading some of the 576 recipes are being posted today!

For the cookie swap, I sent out a dozen cookies to three different food bloggers in Virginia and Georgia. In return, I received some really amazing cookies from other bloggers! (I’ll post links to the recipes next week!) The best part definitely eating and sharing the cookies that I received. Tho, I have to admit, one batch never made it home to share with the boyfriend. 😛

Looking back at my blog, this is only the second cookie recipe I’ve posted. I find that amusing because cookies were one of the first things I gravitated towards when I started baking. But now that I’ve rediscovered my love of cookies, look out for more cookie recipes in the future! 😀

This cookie recipe was inspired by chocolate covered cherries. The cookies are a rich, chocolate cookie dotted with brandy-soaked cherries and chocolate chips. I’m not sure how they lasted so long, but the last of the leftovers from my double-batch were devoured last night by me and the boyfriend. They’re really tasty and make a great alternative to more traditional holiday cookies!

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Maple-Pumpkin Pillow Cookies

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a friend about ideas for the blog and what I wanted to make coming up. She mentioned that I have not been giving cookies enough attention here at Pie with Sparkles, and she’s right! In the [almost] 9 months of blogging — wow, has it really been 9 months already?! — I’ve only published one cookie-related post… So I think it’s time that cookies get a feature! And getting on a cookie-kick is perfect since the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is coming up very soon!

This recipe is the last in my pumpkin series: the Maple-Pumpkin Pillow Cookie. The first thing people have asked when I talked about the Maple-Pumpkin Pillow Cookies was, “What’s a pillow cookie?” Well, I decided to call them “pillow cookies” because I think that describes their texture perfectly. They are a light and cake-like cookie, like a little tasty pillow.

The pumpkin cookies are sweetened with both sugar and maple syrup, as a nod to being Canadian and creating this recipe while visiting my grandparents this fall. They are then topped with a maple glaze to amp up the maple flavor, which goes beautifully with the spiced pumpkin cookie. And they taste AMAZING! 😀

This is also the first thing I’ve baked in my new-to-me kitchen! It’s been a bit of an adjustment to get used to a new kitchen layout and oven, but I’m loving the huge increase in space! I used to blog everything from a kitchen that was only about 3 feet wide in each direction with one counter-top. But now, I actually have space to move around, and I don’t need to pull chairs in to the hallway to have a place to put things down!

The kitchen was the first thing to be organized and unpacked, and I’ve been playing around in it ever since I moved in! However, I did misplace my cookie scoop during the move, so I made the first batch of cookies with an ice cream scoop. With a few extra minutes of baking time, they still came out perfect, but they were a little BIG for the average person… The boyfriend and I have been splitting them for dessert, but feel free to make some HUGE cookies if that’s your style! 😀 (Just add about 4 or 5 minutes to the baking time.)

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading!  🙂

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Mustache Cookies

I’ve been wanting to make mustache cookies for a long time, but I couldn’t find the right cookie cutters. Then, I saw these from Fuzzy Ink. I immediately bought them, and waited for the right instance to make mustache cookies…

The cookies start off with a simple sugar cookie dough, which is rolled and cut in to mustache shapes. After the cookies are baked and cooled, they are iced with royal icing dyed black (or brown or whatever color you choose) and attached to a lollipop stick. They make a great costume accessory for Halloween or work as an edible prop for whimsical photos! These cookies are a lot of fun, and everyone will love posing with them. 🙂

Thankfully, an early Halloween costume party provided the perfect opportunity to bring these tasty and fun mustache cookies! And my friends are great sports, who were willing to pose for some photos before nibbling on their mustaches…

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading! 🙂

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The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

One of the food blogs that I follow (Love and Olive Oil) announced the launch of the 2nd Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap yesterday. Of course, I signed right up!

The Cookie Swap involves food bloggers from all around the world, exchanging homemade cookies and recipes. Every blogger who signs up sends a dozen cookies to three other bloggers who signed up for the Swap. Then, the recipes are posted on each blog, and everyone wins! Give cookies, get cookies, share recipes! The Swap is even paired with Cookies for Kids’ Cancer in order to raise money for funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer! (Each blogger donates $4 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and the donations are  being matched dollar-for-dollar by OXO!)

I am really excited to participate in this year’s cookie swap!! What should I bake up and send?? Is anyone else signing up??