Category Archives: Cookies

Chocolate Sablés (or Chocolate French Butter Cookies)

These crumbly chocolate sables are a twist on the classic French butter cookie and every bit as good as the original. Stuff with dark chocolate chips and white chocolate bits for an even more dynamic taste.

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The Winter Olympics are here, and we’re SNOW excited! Settling into a full-time job and life in a new part of the city has been an intense process over the past four months, but thankfully all the late-night baking has been keeping me grounded…perhaps more than I care to admit! I’m still working my way slowly but steadily through the long list of travel-inspired recipes from last summer’s trip to ten European countries, but of all the recipes that I’ve tried so far, these Chocolate Sablés (or Chocolate French Butter Cookiesé) are certainly a French-inspired favorite.

Classic sablés consist of a few top-quality ingredients: Butter, flour, and powdered sugar. The word “sablé” means “sand” in French, which is fitting for these perfectly crumbly shortbread biscuits. Last year I shared a recipe for Classic Scottish Shortbread after visiting Edinburgh (Spoiler Alert: We visited again this year!), so I decided to shake things up by throwing a bit of smoky chocolate and cookies ‘n’ cream white chocolate into the mix. Because who doesn’t love a chocolatey twist, right?

The verdict was resounding and clear: The buttery crumb of these biscuits, coupled with their subtle sweetness and chocolate overtones, made them an instant hit with all of my friends. (To give you a better sense of what I mean: Four friends of mine polished off two dozen of these bad babies in a 5-hour period!) What’s more, they stand up to shipping and look beautiful however you package them, whether in a classy cellophane bag or your run-of-the-mill Tupperware. If only I could have doled them out as thank-you gifts while I was wandering around trying to speak terrible French during my last day in Paris!… Read more

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Anzac Biscuits

These Anzac Biscuits are a popular egg-free Australian sweet biscuit with oats, golden syrup, and coconut. Perfect for holiday shipping and gifting!

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I’d almost given up on writing about Europe when we hit the crazy pre-holiday season at my new job a few weeks back, but just thinking about that summer adventure brings a goofy smile to my face and makes me slow down as I get used to working life. I don’t think I’m ready to write about work yet anyway, so now I’m determined to keep writing about Europe even if it kills me takes a few more months than originally anticipated. Mazel tov!

As it so happens, Anzac Biscuits aren’t a European invention at all: They’re a traditional Australian hard biscuit first created by wives during WWI and shipped to the front lines because the egg-free treats could last so long in transit. Or at least that’s what Marty–the cheery, enthusiastic Australian guy I met on my second night in Dublin–tells me.

Marty can only be described as the kind of inspirational that, if you’re lucky, you encounter once in a lifetime. Like me, Marty was making a solo trek through Europe, paying visits to friends along the way and stretching his wanderlust wings as he trekked through several of the continent’s largest cities. We met at the Riverdance, and it became immediately apparent that Marty’s joy for life–magnified tenfold by his thick, jovial Aussie accent–was effusive. By the time intermission ended, I’d agreed to grab a pint with him after the show (the friend he was visiting in town had work the next morning and couldn’t join us)–and an hour later, we were out roaming the streets of downtown Dublin, soaking in the sights of a rushing city thousands of miles from both of our homes.

After crossing the main bridge, we found a local bar with amazing live music (or, as Marty put it: “Ripper!”) and ducked inside to chat.… Read more

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XL Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

These bakery-style chocolate chip cookies are perfectly chewy in the middle, crispy around the edges, and filled with delicious semi-sweet chocolate morsels. Extra-large and certainly as good as–if not better than–the cookies you’d find in your neighborhood bakery!

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Like any good baker, I have been on a perennial quest to discover the BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe out there.

I’ve shared these perfect pudding chocolate chip cookies and my self-proclaimed favorite thick, chewy chocolate chip cookies, but I have yet to meet a cookie that fits the “bakery-style” bill quite as well as these do. Crispy edges, perfectly chewy centers, and chock-full of chocolate morsels: these cookies are bound to leave your friends stunned and begging for more! My swim coach’s wife apparently devoured seven before my coach even managed to snag a bite, and I’ve been delivering the rest to the entire department as thank-you gifts for putting up with me throughout these past few years.

Oh, and even my mom ate them. She actually ate several of them in one sitting without a single comment, which is basically the highest seal of approval that you can receive from an Asian parent.

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Between intermittent spurts of baking and work, I’ve been celebrating post-graduation life with–wait for it–one round of strep throat and another hearty bout of bronchitis/costochondritis! Hooray! I’d planned to post more frequently the moment I walked across the graduation stage (more on that exciting news next week), but I’m currently on my second round of antibiotics and hoping that this time they’ll actually do the trick. My right ribcage feels like it’s about to explode with all of the coughing and vomiting that have become my besotted bedside fellows over the past three weeks!

Sending all my love and a healthy dozen of these perfect, extra-large bakery-style chocolate chip cookies your way this week!… Read more

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Slice-and-Bake Heart Sugar Cookies: How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day (on a Budget You’ll Love!)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Doingthe99 #99YourValentinesDay #CollectiveBias

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Love is in the air–and so is the aroma of these adorable slice-and-bake heart sugar cookies!

Last weekend, about 20 of us squished into my tiny apartment to eat dinner and bake Valentine’s Day cookies together. Since we needed a lot of dough (but had very little to spare from our wallets), I nipped over to 99 Cents Only to pick up flour, sugar, and all that jazz that I needed that night for our baking/dinner party! They have my favorite name brands at student-friendly prices, so shopping there really is a one-stop shop kind of deal for lucky me ;)

While I was there, though, I also found these super cute V-day cards (for under a dollar! Whoo!) and just couldn’t resist snatching up a few for my friends. Guess you never know what you’ll find when you shop at the 99, eh? I’ll be writing them next week, so if you’re lucky one might just be headed your way soon!

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The best part of this whole experience–shopping at the 99, making messy heart shapes out of red cookie dough and wrapping them in even more sugar cookie dough, and eating merrily at my place–was just spending time with some of my favorite people in the world. Best of all, since these dough logs needed to be chilled overnight before baking, we had an impromptu picnic the following Wednesday to enjoy the fruits (or hearts) of our labor!

So as you can see, this V-Day I have tons to celebrate: friends, cookies, and just about everything I need at unbeatable prices for a day filled with love. Wishing all of you the very same! (Hint: making these adorable cookies for loved ones are a great start–learn how to make your own in the recipe below!)

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 With love,

Ala

Slice-and-Bake Heart Sugar Cookies: How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day (on a Budget You’ll Love!)

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These adorable slice-and-bake heart sugar cookies are the perfect gift for someone special on Valentine's Day!

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Top 10 Recipes of 2016

A few weeks ago, I posted some of my very favorite photos from this year. Now that it’s the last Thursday of 2016, I’m throwing back to some of this year’s most popular and viewed recipes!

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10. Copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

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If you secretly make trips to Red Lobster just so you can stuff your with their famous, melt-in-your-mouth buttery Cheddar Bay Biscuits, here’s some good news for the new year: now you can make (and enjoy) them in your own home! (Recipe here.)

9. Slutty Cheesecake Bars

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A thick layer of chocolate chip blondie, rich cheesecake on top, and whole Oreos crammed all throughout give these infamous bars their name. One of the very first recipes that I posted on Wallflour Girl (note the tacky rainbow wrapping paper backdrop) and still one of the most popular after five years! (Recipe here.)

8. Extra-Fudgy Kahlua Brownies with Kahlua Icing

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I’m not a booze kind of girl…usually. But put a plate of these extremely fudgy Kahlua brownies (and maybe a White Russian!) in front of me and they’ll be gone before you can say “boozy.” (Recipe here.)

7. The Very BEST Tiramisu (from America’s Test Kitchen)

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 My shortlist for best recipe sources is, well, short–but I would trust America’s Test Kitchen with my first-born baby. This simple but authentic tiramisu recipe is the best that I’ve ever made and constantly requested at family functions! (Recipe here.)

6. Idiot-Proof Healthy Chocolate Chip Bars

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Here’s an idiot-proof recipe that you can hand off to even the most baking-illiterate of your friends! These one-bowl, dump-and-stir chocolate chip oat bars are healthy, too, making them perfect for kicking off a brand new year. (Recipe here.)

5. Hawaiian Chantilly Layer Cheesecake Cake

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This recipe holds a special place in my heart: inspired by one late-night, post-movie dinner conversation at Lenny’s Deli, my ex shared his fond memories of a dessert known as Chantilly cake.… Read more

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Super Chewy Molasses Ginger Cookie Bars with Cheesecake Filling

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Growing up in California, my Christmases were never filled with real snowdrifts and cups of hot cocoa over a crackling log fire. Christmases were thin flyaway scarves on nippy sun-soaked mornings and Chinese sticky rice served in a large rice cooker. They were elaborate piles of wrapped presents under a tree, but they were also eggnog-free, booze-free, cookie-free celebrations of time together with family. Until a few years ago, I never even considered what it meant to have a conventionally Western Christmas: to build floppy houses made of real gingerbread, to squeeze into an abhorrently amusing ugly holiday sweater for the evening with your friends, to stroll down snow-lined lanes and eat fruitcake and sing (slightly drunken) Christmas carols all season long. I think I tried making chocolate chip cookies for Santa once when I was eight, but I was so offended by the fact that he only ate half of the twenty-something cookies that I never baked for him again.

Living in LA for the past five years means that a lot of that has changed. While I still haven’t had my first white Christmas–though it’s on the bucket list!–I’ve proudly donned my inaugural ugly gingerbread man sweater, hosted themed holiday parties, and made my first-ever Christmas-inspired treats, which include these Super Chewy Molasses Ginger Cookie Bars.  These bars, by the way, may be new to my life, but I am most definitely and madly in love with them already. (Update: my mom just tried a bite and said rather matter-of-factly, “You don’t have to give all of these away” before whisking a few of the squares away for herself. High praise indeed!)

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I’ve only ever baked with molasses once, when my ex and I had a Harry Potter-themed cooking night a couple of years ago and decided to try making treacle tarts…with blackstrap molasses, because apparently we didn’t know that there was a difference between different types of treacle.… Read more

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Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

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There are no “foodies” in Italy–there’s simply food. As I quickly learned during my week-long stay in Putignano, food is a way of life, not simply a packaged bar of high fructose corn syrup that you snatch while dashing out the door for work. While food has always been a central part of my Chinese family and culture–think lazy Susan’s groaning under the weight of 15 or 20 dishes, chopstick wars over the last piece of fried tofu, literal battles between relatives over who is going to pay the bill–being in Italy felt like landing on an entirely different food planet altogether: one made of family friends, 10 o’clock dinners, and lots–I mean LOTS–of cheese.

Aside from enjoying homemade meals with Alessio’s family, I was invited to taste (quite literally) a whole sampling platter of Italian dining experiences throughout the week. One of my favorite meals happened on my second night in Putignano, when we drove over to the countryside home of one of their family friends for a pizza party. No, not a pizza party of 90’s Chuck E. Cheese glory–we’re talking 2 kilos of homemade pizza dough, dozens of fresh meats and vegetables, authentic brick oven right on the patio, the whole shebang. Better yet, we went through something like six courses (a crust “test run,” individual pizzas, dessert pizza with Nutella, gelato, fruit, and cake), so that by the end of the night I thought my stomach was going to burst straight through the too-snug button on my jeans. Seated along a long table that seated all 15 or 16 of us, everyone seemed content to sit and eat and chat as the early evening faded into evening proper, then late night. The pace of Italian life during the summer offers an incredible contrast to the hustle & bustle of American day-to-day, and as someone who spends half of her solo meals typing away at the computer, it was amazing to be granted this glimpse into a truly mindful culture of eating.… Read more

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Scottish Shortbread

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Scotland: land of the kilts, castles, and sweet mother of Mewtwo best shortbread ever!!!

My first blissful taste of Scottish shortbread happened in a cozy two-apartment AirBnb nestled just outside Edinburgh city center. Our hosts, Alicia and Mauricio, were a lovely couple from Venezuala with an adorable beagle and the best advice on what free shows to see during our four days at the Fringe festival. In true host fashion, they had also stocked our room with a variety of local munchies, ranging from biscuits and candies to–of course–the famous Walkers Scottish shortbread. I ate most of the bag a few for breakfast, along with some cheese rolls that Alicia had shared with me the night before while we were chatting in the living room about old Tom Hanks films. I melted from the moment that I popped that cookie in my mouth–the buttery, crumbly shortbread melted too–and from there it was love forged on the Highlands for me.

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But quick important sidenote! That totally cute teal notebook featured in these photos? It was gifted by my amazing friend Moupi, who messaged me on the day before my trip and (since she knew I wouldn’t have my laptop with me) gave it to me as a way to commemorate my travels! I ended up only using it occasionally on the trip to jot down some of the thoughts I shared in my last post and hastily scribble in my highlights for each day–BUT when I got back, I found that my bag was drowning in a silly pile of ticket stubs, fliers, and pell-mell paper memorabilia from my three-week travels. Cue brilliant idea to organize everything in this notebook: so now I have an entire little journal devoted to my Europe trip! It’s kind of neat to see one of the best experiences of my life neatly encapsulated in scrapbook form so that I can revisit it anytime I want now :) The tickets pictured here are from all of the plays and performances that we saw while we were in Edinburgh.… Read more

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Strawberries ‘n Cream Cookies {+ A Few Thoughts from a PokéTrainer}

You know those incredibly frustrating people walking around on the streets and into traffic and over cliffs and right smack dab on top of your newly-polished dress shoes because they’re too busy playing Pokémon GO?

I have a confession to make.

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I am one of those incredibly frustrating people playing Pokémon GO.

I apologize if I ever trampled over your dog in my haste to catch an Arcanine. It was (probably) an accident, unless you just happened to be in my way while a Squirtle is loose nearby and a mad, mob-mentality stampede that would make any Black Friday vet proud seized hold of me. Then it was probably deliberate. But I realize that being part of a cult(ural phenomenon) doesn’t make me any less of a Poké-jerk, so please excuse my trangresses…

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There are many downsides to living in a college neighborhood. Blasting music at 3 in the morning, piss-drunk but holier-than-thou undergrads whom you hope to never see in your classes, zero parking…

But there are also upsides, one of which is that when geeky pastimes hit home, they hit hard. For the past 7 days or so, seriously over half of the people walking around campus are fueling up at Pokéstops, catching Pokémon, talking about Pokémon, dreaming Pokémon. We shuffle casually up to spots where those glorious purple lure modules have taken over our AR screens, grinning sheepishly around at the other folks around us who have stationed themselves on the same block as we swipe our fingers upward in an all-too familiar motion, swiping in harmony with every other index finger in a 30-foot radius, warmed by the knowledge that we are all part of the same cultural moment–that even though we are strangers, we are a community, too.

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It’s easy to make fun of Poke-players as geeky eccentrics or even fanatics, but there is also something strangely democratizing about the game that should not be ignored, even at this early stage of the craze.… Read more

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White Chocolate Cookie Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BiteSizedBitsOfJoy #CollectiveBias

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My favorite phrase of the year: oldies but goldies!

As the de facto ancient dinosaur/matriarch of every one of my friend circles–I’m officially like a 22nd grader or something this year–I now love this phrase because it makes me feel…classic. And let’s be honest here: some things really do get better with age. Wine, cheese, dad jokes…my students’ end-of-year evaluations, which from now on I will only read while I am double-fisting these gorgeous White Chocolate Cookie Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies, because these retro treats make everything better.

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Why retro? For one thing, these rich morsels are no-bake and take only 5 minutes to make, which is for some reason something that I imagine saying when I’m wearing a 50’s sweetheart red-and-white-polka-dotted apron and heels in my kitchen. For another, I was browsing the cookie aisle at Ralph’s last week when I stumbled upon an entire shelf of these classic gems:

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KEEBLER!!! To my five-year old self: you’re so welcome.

Growing up, Keebler was the eye candy of the TV commercial world. The food porn before food porn was a thing. The sacred key to unlocking my refined preschooler palate.

There are, however, definite perks to revisiting these cookies as an adult. The biggest perk is, without a doubt, that you get to enjoy all of the stuff that you loved as a kid, except now you can eat it at any time of day for any meal you want and your parents won’t pounce on you in the kitchen to tell you that you’re going to spoil your dinner, and nobody else is allowed to judge you because you’re an adult, dammit, or do I need to bust out my snazzy driver’s license and show you that I am a real bona fide grownup?… Read more

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