Top 10 of 2014!

It’s cliché, but it is hard to believe another year is over.  I’m happy to say I met my goal and did a lot more baking this year than last year.  This year I tried many new things.  There were some amazing results and some horrendous flops!  I like to post about them all, because not everything turns out and that’s ok, frustrating, but ok.

Here are what I think to be my best of 2014 as well as a few honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

I have 2 honorable mentions this year.  The first being, I was a judge at a Butter Tart Taste off!  It was an amazing day and I was so honored to be part of it.

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Second honorable mention is for my favourite cake this year.  I really liked how the Camera Cake turned out

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Here is a list of what I picked as my favourites of 2014

10.   S’mores Cups

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These little delights are so easy and very so tasty.  I first had S’mores Cups at the Relay for Life.  One of our team members brought them and I was hooked.  I searched the recipe and made them as soon as possible.  I am not a fan of real S’mores, but these are great!

9. Snickers Popcorn

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This is something I wasn’t entirely sure I would like.  Amy and I were having a baking day, cheesecake was our main delight of the day.  We needed something that didn’t need to be cooked for a family dessert.  Amy picked Snickers Popcorn. Unreal!  It was delicious, and so addicting!  I could not stop. 3 days later when the humidity had got to it I was still wolfing it into me. Excellent and will make again!  It always helps to have someone else to bring you out of your baking comfort zone.  I would have never tried this, but love it!  Thanks Amy!

8. Toffee Cheesecake

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This Toffee Cheesecake was made with the toffee candy I make, kinda like a Skor bar.  This was really good.  I’d definitely make this one again.

7.  Strawberry Pie

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I am starting to get the hang of this pie thing, my crust is improving.  This was my first Strawberry Pie.  It was good.  It got rave reviews from the pie fans of the family, and I admit, I liked it too.

6. OCC #6

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I have been slacking on my Oatmeal Cookie Challenge.  I have been searching for a very long time for ‘my favourite’ cookie. This Oatmeal Cookie is definitely in the running.  It has a great texture, holds its height and had great flavour. The best part? This recipe makes one cookie! Give it a try.

5. Cherry Pie

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This pie was amazing! Hard to believe 2 pies made the list this year.  I’d say this was the perfect Cherry Pie. Hope I can duplicated it next year.

4. Pumpkin Cake

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I am not normally a fan of pumpkin stuff but this Pumpkin Cake was good!  What made it was the cinnamon cream cheese icing. Amazing combination.  It was a huge hit at Thanksgiving.

3. Toffee Chocolate Bars

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These were amazing! I found these Toffee Chocolate Bars on Pinterest.  The picture caught my eye and I knew I had to make it.  They were a huge success.  I loved them.  The gooey middle layer was fantastic and I loved the sugary base.  Definitely worth a try.

2. Pecan Pie Cheesecake

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This Pecan Pie Cheesecake was by far the best Cheesecake I have ever made! The sweet pecan filling went perfect with the creamy cheesecake top.  This got rave reviews and topped everyone’s list as their favourite cheesecake.  You must try it!

1. Christmas Pudding with White Sauce

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Even though I just made this a few days ago, it was by far the best thing I made this year.  Not only was the Christmas Pudding absolutely delicious, but it brought back a family tradition that I can to carry on for many years to come.

I hope everyone had a great year and here’s to a wonderful 2015 filled with many delicious sweet treats!

 

OCC #6

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Have you ever wanted just one homemade cookie? As much as I LOVE to bake, my weakness is eating it, all!!  I keep saying how I wish I could make just a few cookies, get the fix over with and they are gone!  Then there are not 35 other ones sitting on the counter calling me.  Seriously, I can hear them! If they are in the house, I will eat them.

While wasting enormous amounts of time on Pinterest today I found this, “Recipe for One Oatmeal Raisin Cookie“.  I have tried the ‘One Serving Chocolate Cake in a Mug’ (don’t do it, it’s awful!) so I wasn’t terribly optimistic. The cookie looked delicious!  I had to give it a try.

One Oatmeal Cookie

Adapted from Cooking Classy, Jaclyn has some fantastic recipe, check them out!

 

2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup (scant) packed light-brown sugar
1 Tbsp whisked egg*
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup quick oats
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
2 Tbsp raisins

 

Directions

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. *Prepare egg – To get this, just crack an egg into a bowl and whisk until well blended, then measure out 1 Tbsp. Reserve remainder in refrigerator for another use.

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3. Place butter in a medium microwave safe mixing bowl. Heat in microwave on HIGH power until almost fully melted

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4. Add brown sugar, 1 Tbsp egg, flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt

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5. Stir until well blended (it will seem dry at first but it will start to come together). Add raisins and mix.

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6. Shape dough into a 4 inch cookie parchment paper lined baking sheet

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7. Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes until edges are golden but center is still soft.

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Cool slightly and enjoy!

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Looks good! Stayed nice and thick, didn’t fall

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Just look how big this cookie is, that’s my kind of cookie! (an I have BIG hands)

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Quite possibly, this could be the best oatmeal cookie I have ever had, let alone made!  It was perfect!  Thick and chewy in the centre, crispy on the edges and it’s huge! The texture was perfect, and the oat flavour really came though.  I didn’t have quick oats, so I used regular, I also didn’t add the cinnamon.

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I can see making this recipe quite a bit.  I makes just enough to have a treat, but not go overboard.  Also, regardless of its size, It’s only one cookie!! 😉

It seems as though I MAY have found “My Favourite Oatmeal Cookie”.  It would be a shame if the OCC was over.  I wonder if this recipe multiplies well to make a batch…hmmmm

Give this cookie a try, it is wonderful!  Thank you Jaclym for such a wonderful recipe.

 

OCC #5

 

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It is Family Day long weekend here in Ontario, what better way to spend it than baking! As I was unimpressed with my last attempt in the OCC I decided I needed to try again.  This time I went with Ina Garten’s Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies.  I can remember watching her cooking show, The Barefoot Contessa, on the Food Network.  She always had such amazing looking food and desserts!  I have made a few others things of hers and they were all successes, so I had high hopes for these cookies.

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Raisin Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
2 heaping cups of Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.

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3. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.

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4. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together into a medium bowl.

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5. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture.

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6. Add the oat and chocolate chips

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7. Mix until just combine

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8. Using a small scoop or a tablespoon drop dough onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with a damp hand.

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9. Bake until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.

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These were good!  They had great flavour and did not fall when they cooled.  I substitute the raisins with chocolate chips so I omitted the cinnamon.  The true flavour of the oatmeal was wonderful.  The outside had a slight crunch but the inside was soft and chewy.  I do think I over baked them slightly, next time I would bake them a few minutes less.

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They were a huge hit! Everyone loved them! I even made ‘smaller’ ones to please everyone – those weirdos who say my cookies are too big!

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Thick and chewy and delicious!

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These are definitely a runner-up….

Thank you Ina!

OCC #4

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As promised, more baking in the new year!  I have revisited my OCC (Oatmeal Cookie Challenge) as I have yet to find my favourite.

I found this recipe at Give a Blonde a Kitchen.  They looked delicious so I thought I would give them a try!

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 ¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)*

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

2. Melt butter and let cool slightly.

3. While butter is cooling, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

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4. In a medium bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.

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5. Beat in vanilla, egg, and egg yolk for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy.

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Scrape down sides when necessary.

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6. Gradually add the flour oat mixture and mix until just blended.

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7. Stir in the raisins and nuts.

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8. Scoop about ¼ cup of dough and form into balls.

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Bake for 14-16 minutes.  The edges will look lightly browned and the centers soft.  Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 3 minutes  and then transfer to a cooling rack.

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I thought these cookies were ok.  I liked the flavour, but I found them to be quite dry.  They did not spread at all.  I’m all about a thick cookie, but these were still ‘ball shaped’. Everyone else said they really liked them, but to me they were just ok.  I won’t make them again.

The search continues….

OCC #3

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It has been months since I have done an Oatmeal Chocolate Chip recipe! It is hard to find the best when you are not baking, I have been slacking!  Time to get back in the kitchen.  Luckily this year I work with a lovely group of people who just happen to love treats, my kind of people!  A bakers dream, 5 willing tasters. Now I will bake more and not eat it all myself, Perfect!  This week I went with an Oatmeal Cookie recipe as I have still not found ‘My favourite Oatmeal Cookie’.

This recipe was found at Baking is my Zen, some great recipes, check it out!  I did change this recipe a tad.  I loved that they were thick and chewy, but my tasters are NOT fans of raisins, so I had to go with a chocolate chip version.  In doing so I omitted a lot of the spices, that I figured wouldn’t go as well with chocolate.

Big and Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from Baking is my Zen

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven temperature: 350°F

2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside.

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4. Beat the butter and sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.

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5. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl.

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6. Decrease speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients until combined, about 30 seconds.

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7. Mix in the chips until just incorporated.

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8. Chill dough for an hour or more. I chill overnight. ( chilling is OPTIONAL)

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9. Using large ice cream scooper, scoop cookie dough on parchment lined baking sheet. Space cookies about 2 inches apart.

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10. Bake, switching and rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time, until the cookies turn golden brown around the edges, 20 minutes

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Unfortunately, I was not a fan of these cookies.  They were thick, but chewy as in tough chewy.  I won’t make these again.

The search continues

Categories OCC

Oatmeal Cookie Challenge #2

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Giant oatmeal cookies!  One of the biggest complaints I get when I make cookies is “They are too big!”.  Now, I have had a lot, and I mean a lot of cookies in my day and never, ever have I said, “man, this cookie is just too big!” To me there is nothing better than a giant, thick and chewy cookie, especially oatmeal or chocolate chip (hence the OCC and CCCC). There are many reasons I prefer a giant cookie, for one, they usually have a nice golden, crisp edge with a chewy soft centre AND you can say, well I only had one! 😉

It has been a while (3 months!) since I have made a cookie for the OCC.  I have still been looking for recipes just haven’t been baking as much, it has been hot, humid and yucky here, not really baking weather.  Now that the summer is winding down, only 2 more days until I head back to work after summer holidays, I decided I needed to make an end of summer treat.  I went with oatmeal cookies because I had a ton of oatmeal in the cupboard that needed to get used up.

I came across this recipe on Pinterest which lead me to Si’s Bountiful Kitchen, well worth a stop by, she has some amazing recipes!

Giant Oatmeal Cookies

Adapted from A Bountiful Kitchen
2 cups butter, room temperature
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups quick oats*
2 cups chocolate chips or raisins

*I used old fashioned oats

Directions:

1. The day before ( yes you read that right, the day before, plan ahead when making these cookies)or several hours before baking:
Cream butter and sugars.

**tip on quickly getting butter to room temperature – slice thinly, takes very little time at all, especially in this hot weather**

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2. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until no longer grainy. About 3 minutes.

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3. Combine all dry ingredients in bowl.

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**at this point I realize I have a problem, all that dry is NOT going to fit into the mixer bowl!  Had to do some bowl switching**

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This will work much better…

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4. In 3 additions stir into the butter mixture . Do not over mix. Blend just until wet and dry ingredients are combined, You may also mix by hand to prevent over-mixing.

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5. Fold in chocolate chips.

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I also took some dough in a small bowl and added some raisins

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6. Scoop dough onto a large pan, using a 2-3 inch cookie or ice cream scoop. To please those ‘big cookie haters’ I also make both kind of cookies in a smaller scoop.

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7. Cover pan with Saran wrap and place in refrigerator overnight or for at least 2 hours…and now I wait…..

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***18 long hours later, after a good sleep and a run (I don’t feel as guilty eating the cookies now that I have started running 🙂 )***
9. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400°F

10. Place dough onto cookie sheets, no more than 6 cookies per pan. Slightly flatten top of cookie with spatula or palm of your hand. (I flattened some and left some just as balls, mostly because I forgot to flatten them)

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The ones I forgot to flatten

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11. Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cookies cool completely on baking sheet. **In my oven 8-10 was not quite enough, they were still raw, even though I like a slightly undercooked cookie.  Worked best 12 minutes for the small ones and 15 for the big ones**

Flattened

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Not flattened

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Size comparison for the fussy small cookie lovers

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So far so good, they did not fall like a lot of other ‘thick’ cookies I have made

Check out the centre of that cookie!!! (Keep in mind I could not wait until it cooled, this is right out of the even and has not completely set)

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The flattened version

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These cookies were good.  Everyone said they loved them.  Even my Uncle who ‘doesn’t eat sweets’ ate 2 and took a bunch home!  I love how they stayed nice and thick without falling as they cooled.  The texture was excellent, they stayed nice and chewy inside and had a slight crunch around the outside.  Both versions were great, but I think my favourite was the oatmeal raisin ones.  I do have to add that even the ‘small cookies’ were complained about being a ‘whole meal’ they were still too big! I give up, have a half a cookie lol.

The cookies were good, but not my favaourite yet!  I loved the size and how they kept their shape but I think they were lacking in flavour.  I will try them again with a few of my own adjustments.  Now, in saying that, it didn’t stop me from eating them, I wont admit how many I had!!!

Thanks for a great recipe Si

Oatmeal Cookie Challenge #1

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I have another Challenge.  I have been looking for “My favourite Chocolate Chip Cookie”, though I have not found it I have started looking for “My Favourite Oatmeal Cookie”.  Like the chocolate chip cookie, I prefer mine to be thick and chewy.  I hate flat crunchie cookies!   I have found quite a few recipes which claim to be ‘the best thick and chewy oatmeal cookies’ I look forward to trying them and hope one will be “My Favourite”

This first recipe I am trying I found on Pinterest, where I find so many of my recipes.  The picture sucked me right in.  I thought, if these cookies taste half as good as they look, they will be the winner!   They came from Honistlyani.

OCC #1

2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
4 cups flour
5 cups oatmeal (put a small amount into a blender until it turns to powder)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Take a small amount of the oatmeal, about half a cup, and grind it in a food processor/chopper/blender until it resembles flour

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3. In a large bowl combine oatmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

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4. Combine in a small bowl, butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla

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5. Add wet ingredients to dry and add 32 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips – stir to combine – do not over mix!

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6. Use a cookie scoop to form the cookies and place a few inches apart.

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7. Bake until edges just start to brown.  Cool on sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to cooling rack

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Just look at these cookies!  They look perfect!  They are huge, and thick and very chocolatey.  If they taste as good as they look we are in for a real treat.

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These cookies were delicious! The texture was unbelievable,  they had a light crispy edge but a wonderfully soft, chewy center.  The cookie to chip ratio was perfect.  This is a keeper, I will make a few more recipes, but I think this just may be my favourite, and it was only the first try!  Next time I will try them with raisins.