Spicy Mexican Shortbread Cookies

20170501_150058Cinco de Mayo is tomorrow and there will be festivities all across America and Mexico to celebrate. Whether you want to bring a dish to a party you’re attending or simply desire to serve some Mexican inspired cuisine at home to family then I have just the dessert for you.

20170501_150014Spicy Mexican Shortbread Cookies combine different elements of Mexican cuisine into one delicious cookie, making them the perfect dessert addition to any party table or family dinner. The cookie base features the rich combination of cocoa and cinnamon with a hint of spice from cayenne pepper, all reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate. The icing is designed to replicate the flavors of dulce de leche and compliment the cookie without conflicting with its complex flavors. Lastly, the sweet and salty pecan topping adds a crunchy texture to an otherwise extremely delicate shortbread cookie base.

20170501_150119Whether you plan to make these cookies as a last-minute treat for Cinco de Mayo or enjoy them at other times of the year, you can’t go wrong with this stellar combination of pecans, chocolate shortbread, and dulce de leche flavored icing!

Spicy Mexican Shortbread Cookies

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 6.75 oz. (1 ½ cups) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • ½ cup Unsalted Butter; softened
  • ½ cup light Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
  • ¾ cup Powdered Sugar

Icing Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • ½ cup packed Light Brown Sugar
  • ½ cup 1% Low-Fat Milk
  • 1 ¼ cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Nut Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. Unsalted Butter; softened
  • ¾ cup Chopped Pecans



  1. To prepare cookies, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper in a bowl; stir with a whisk.
  2. Place ½ cup butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer). With stand or hand mixer set to medium speed, beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add oil and beat 3 minutes or until well blended. Gradually add ¾ cup powdered sugar and beat well. Add the flour mixture and beat at low-speed until well blended. Form dough into a long uniform log, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°. Meanwhile, unwrap chilled dough from plastic wrap and slice into ¼ inch thick slices. Bake for 20 minutes (DO NOT turn off oven after last tray of cookies is removed). Cool 1 minute on baking sheet. Remove from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the icing. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and milk; cook 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, stirring with a whisk until smooth. If mixture is too thin, add more powdered sugar until icing is thin enough to drizzle over cookie.
  5. To prepare nut topping, arrange pecans on a small baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until toasted. While pecans toast, combine 1 tsp. brown sugar, sea salt, and 1 tsp. butter in a medium bowl. Once pecans have finished toasting, add hot pecans to butter mixture. Immediately toss pecans well to coat. Cool completely.
  6. To assemble cookies, drizzle 1 tsp. of icing over each cookie then sprinkle with chopped pecans. Enjoy!





Dreamy Coconut Cookie Cups

20140128_162242Today was a rather dreary day and that made it perfect for staying in and baking. After a relatively busy day yesterday full of appointments revolving around my little one and grocery shopping, I was ready for a mellow day. After making breakfast for my little family I took on a recipe called Dream Bars. I decided to reinvent it into a more convenient, portable treat.


Sure they may not seem like much but they sure do taste delicious. Surprisingly, despite how simplistic they may appear, these little guys can cause some problems. First off, most of the traditional Dream Bar recipes out there were just too sweet, even for my very forgiving sweet tooth. To overcome this, I wanted to overcome the sweetness with nuts. By toasting the nuts until crunchy, it cut through even the toughest of residual sweetness.


Perhaps my favorite part of this treat is the coconut topping. Of course my favorite things always end up being the most problematic… go figure!!! Shredded coconut on its own would just dry out, burn, and become gross. To keep the shredded coconut moist and delicious I soaked it in cream of coconut, which not only kept it moist but added richness and the perfect concentration of sugar that results in a caramelized topping without being overly sweet.


To further balance out the sweetness it is key to dial back the sugar in not only the topping but also the crust. By making the crust thicker and resemble a shortbread cookie instead of the typical thin, weak base, the nuttiness is more prevalent and keeps the sugary topping at bay. Speaking of sugar, I’m sure Domino Sugar would be hating on me for discouraging the over usage of its product since back in the day it was the bar version of this recipe that was used as a marketing tool to sell their sugar to housewives. Sorry Domino, please forgive me 🙂


I will admit this isn’t my strongest post, but it was never meant to be. It was meant to be an experiment, a way to refresh a recipe created in the Great Depression into something modern for our crazy, hectic world we now reside. It is not glamorous or gourmet. It is homey, practical, and satisfying. Probably why it has stuck around for so many years and had so many back-of-the-box variations. If it made some of the harshest moments of American history a bit more dreamy, than it is okay in my book!!!

Note: Formula yields 18 cookie cups. Cookie cups can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 5 days.

Dreamy Cookie Cups

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup Dark Brown Sugar; packed
  • ½ cup Pecans
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • 10 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; cut into pieces & chilled

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups Shredded Coconut
  • 1 cup Cream of Coconut
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¾ cup Dark Brown Sugar; packed
  • 2 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla-Nut Extract
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Pecans; toasted & chopped


  1. Heat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. To make the crust, process flour, sugar, pecans, and salt in a food processor until pecans are coarsely ground. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture firmly into the bottoms of each muffin tin. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the topping. Combine the shredded coconut and cream of coconut in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Stir in the pecans, then spread over the cooled crusts, dividing evenly among each cookie cup. Dollop heaping tablespoons of the coconut mixture over the filling and spread into as even a layer as possible.
  4. Bake the cookie cups until deep golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before serving.






Cherry Almond Cookies

I hope everyone survived our first wave of the holiday season and enjoyed their Thanksgiving. I made it through but I will admit was super tired and have practically slept my days away since. Being seven months pregnant and preparing an entire holiday meal did take its toll on me more than I anticipated but it sure did make a little girl in my belly surprisingly happy to eat thousands of calories. Hopefully all of you had a wonderful meal like she did without packing on too many unwanted reminders found in pounds on the scale the next day. I have fared pretty well so far but am a bit worried about Christmas… where more tempting goodies await me. Which leads me to another installment of my 2012 search for new and unique cookies to introduce to all of you readers, so that you can possibly add these new finds to your own holiday baking list.

My previous post featured the delicious Nutella confection Hazelnut Chewies. Today I introduce to you a sandwich cookie that can rival Oreo itself… the Cherry Almond Cookie. This delicious confection begins with the most simple cookie dough you will ever create and no better time than the holidays to have an extremely simple recipe when you have so many other items to be preparing. Every ingredient is dumped into the food processor and given a twirl until the dough forms. This process only takes a few short minutes and then the dough is ready to be rolled out and cut into shapes. I used a simple round cutter with a fancy edge however if you want to be more in the holiday spirit you could maybe use a holiday cutter. I wouldn’t attempt to use any complicated shapes though because the cookie is very delicate and is prone to break and probably wouldn’t hold up to any intricate designs. You are welcome to try but I don’t want to recommend anything too complex and lead you to disaster on Christmas or whatever holiday your family celebrates. Even without a holiday cookie shape, the color of the jam, whether you use cherry or my other recommended flavor, raspberry, both provide the signature red color of the holidays and will bring the festive holiday spirit to your dessert table.

With that said let’s talk a little bit more about the filling. The almond cookie is so delicate it literally melts in your mouth when you eat it. Not to take anything away from this tender confection, you want a filling that will compliment the almond flavor without overshadowing it but also manage to glue the two delicate pieces together into a sandwich. I chose a cherry preserve because cherry is a favorite flavor of mine and also compliments the almond flavor of the cookie. Another filling that I recommend if you don’t prefer cherries is raspberry jam, as it also compliments the almond flavor profile of the cookie. If you choose to follow this formula for the cherry preserves, make sure to avoid the large chunks of cherries as they will not allow you to press the cookies together firmly. If using raspberry jam then you have it a bit easier 😉 Also be sure to work quickly spreading the preserve or jam once the cookies come out of the oven. If you wait for them to cool they will not stick together as firmly and the cookies won’t absorb some of the flavor from the filling. The final touch I give the finished cookie is an ample sprinkling of sugar on top. I used vanilla sugar but regular sugar works just fine too. If you desire to use vanilla sugar, you can either by a jar carried at most specialty spice stores or make it from scratch using a vanilla bean placed in some sugar for a few days.

One final note: If you don’t have slivered almonds on hand or would rather purchase sliced, you can substitute but make sure you use 1 ½ cups sliced almonds not the 1 ¼ called for in the formula. The following formula produces approximately 2 dozen cookies.



Cherry Almond Cookies


  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 ¼ cups Slivered Almonds (see above for alternatives)
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, cut into ½ in. pieces; chilled
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Cherry Preserves (see above for alternatives)



  1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Heat oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Process 1 cup flour and almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add ½ cup sugar and remaining flour. Process until combined. Add butter and vanilla to food processor and pulse until dough forms. 
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ¼ in. thickness. Using a 2 in. round cookie cutter (or your desired shape: keeping in mind a larger cutter will result in a lower production amount), cut out cookies, gathering and re-rolling dough as needed. Place cut cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until light brown around the edges, about 15 minutes, making sure to rotate pans halfway through the cooking time. Cool cookies on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
  3. Place remaining sugar in a bowl. Working quickly, spread 1 tsp. jam on the bottom halves of the warm cookies, then press the remaining cookies onto the jam, forming a cookie sandwich. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar to coat. Cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days.