Cookie Mom-ster

momlede

For this Mother’s Day I wanted to dedicate this post to my mom. She is an amazing, smart, strong, beautiful, hard-working, loving, and resilient woman. I like to think (and hope) that I inherited all of those beautiful qualities from her.  Happy Mother’s Day, mama!

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Unlike me, my mom is very particular when it comes to sweets. She loves desserts with fruit, whereas I love rich desserts with chocolate. Remember this post? But one of the desserts my mom and me can agree on are Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. They’re her favorite cookie because they have a form of fruit in them, I imagine.

So when my parents came up to visit me a couple months ago, I asked my mom what kind of snack she wanted me to make for their trip back home. She mentioned oatmeal raisin cookies, so I put this recipe together that I thought she would love. I had a bottle of rum on hand from a rum cake recipe I always make for her, and decided to use it to rehydrate the raisins. I love the rich, caramel-like flavor the rum gives after they’ve been soaking with the raisins, so I added them to the dough. The recipe isn’t too sweet, so I also rolled the dough in sugar to create a pretty sugary crust. The end result is a not-too-sweet, spicy, (a bit boozy) oatmeal raisin cookie with a great depth of flavor.

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Snacks intended for their voyage back home, my parents confessed to me that the cookies were all gone way before they even got home. Apparently, my dad was a fan of them, too!

What are your favorite cookie flavors? What recipe reminds you most of your mom? Share your stories in the comments below; I’d love to read them!

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Mom’s Favorite Oatmeal Rum Raisin Sugar Cookies
Yields 1 dozen medium-sized cookies

INGREDIENTS 
1/3 cup dark rum, more if needed
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar, for dusting

METHOD
To rehydrate the raisins, place them  into a small bowl and pour the rum into the bowl. The raisins should be completely immersed in the liquid. Add more if needed. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium-speed till incorporated. Add the egg and vanilla and mix till combined.

Drain the excess rum from the rehydrated raisins, reserving the rum. Set raisins aside. Fold in the rum into the mixture. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are mixed well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, spices, salt, and rolled oats. Slowly add the flour mixture into the sugar/butter mixture on low till just combined. (Don’t over-mix.) Fold in the rehydrated raisins to the dough. The dough will be slightly sticky—that’s OK.

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Place the dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is solidified. (Cook’s Note: If you’re making these a day ahead, wrap and place into the refrigerator overnight.)

While your dough chills, preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Place about a half-cup of sugar into a small bowl. Set aside.

Roll a small ice cream scoopful (or 2 Tablespoonfuls) of dough and place into the bowl of sugar and fully coat the cookie ball. Place the dough ball onto the sheet tray, leaving about 2 1/2 inches of space between each cookie.

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Bake for about 14-17 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

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The Cookie Strikes Back

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One of my favorite ice cream sandwich memories were in the early-2000s, in the countless times I waited in a line that curved around the corner of a bakery in Westwood (close to the UCLA campus) called Diddy Riese for a sweet treat. Their ice cream sandwiches were a big deal to Angelenos and UCLA students alike. It was a #treatyoself moment every time my friends and I would drive over and grab a sandwich. Back then the cookies sold for .25 each and $1 for a scoop of ice cream to make the sandwich, and you could mix-match whatever cookie and ice cream flavor you wanted. I’d always take an extra bag of cookies back home for sharing and snacking.

I haven’t been to Diddy Riese in years, but I always enjoy a good ice cream sandwich when I can get one, or better yet, make one. The following cookie and ice cream sandwich combo was with some ingredients I already had in my refrigerator and pantry. Tart blueberries and rich white chocolate chips just go so greatly together, and I love the idea of a rum-coconut ice cream with a nice salty macadamia nut note.

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Brown Butter Blueberry White Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from Keep It Sweet Desserts
Makes about 12 large cookies

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large whole egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2  teaspoon Kosher sea salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup fresh blueberries, washed and dried 

METHOD
Brown the butter by heating in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. When the butter turns a medium brown color, remove from the heat and pour into a small bowl. Allow to cool.

Once the butter has cooled completely, place into a large bowl of an electric mixer with the sugars; beat on medium-high speed till well combined. Add in the egg and vanilla extract, mix on medium speed until thoroughly combined.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; slowly add into the wet ingredients with the mixer on low speed till just combined.

Turn off the mixer and with a spatula, slowly stir in the white chocolate chips and then gently fold in the blueberries. Wrap the dough into a container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, overnight if possible.

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When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees. With an ice cream scoop, scoop the dough (about 4 tablespoons) onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet tray. Bake the cookies till medium golden brown, about 17-20 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

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streetcardevouric

Macadamia Nut-Rum-Coconut Ice Cream
Yields 1 pint

INGREDIENTS
3 cups coconut milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup honey
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, roasted and roughly chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoons coarse sea salt

METHOD
Heat the coconut milk in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, stirring the bottom every few minutes to avoid scorching.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks till slightly thickened. Set aside.

When the coconut is heated and it begins to haze, take a ladle or 1/2 cup measuring cup and slowly add in the heated milk into the egg yolks. Whisk quickly to incorporate and to avoid curdling. Slowly add in more milk until 1/2 of the milk is incorporated, then add in all of the egg-milk mixture back into pot and turn the heat down to medium. Whisk the mixture to avoid curdling.

While the mixture heats up, set up an ice bath in a large bowl.  Wait for the custard to thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon. When the custard is thickened, remove from heat and place into a shallow pan or bowl. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Place the bowl over the ice bath and whisk the custard to cool down. Allow ice cream base to fully cool down in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Place ice cream base into your ice cream maker and operate using the machine’s instructions.

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Cookie Sandwich Assembly
Pair the cookies according to likeness in size. Scoop the ice cream onto the bottom side of one cookie and top with the other. Place into the freezer for about an hour to finally set. Enjoy!

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Khaki Wishes and Cookie Dreams

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I was never a Girl Scout. In lieu of those activities, my mom encouraged me take ballet and tap dance classes, piano lessons and vocal coaching. I was a bit of a singer/dancer as a child, taking any chance I could to steal the limelight to sing in front of an audience (large or small). I loved singing and dancing so much that I didn’t miss or even notice the other activities I could’ve been doing with other kids my age. It wasn’t until I was about 12 years old when I first saw Troop Beverly Hills, a movie about a group of Wilderness Girls from the 90210, led by the fierce (and amazingly dressed) Shelley Long.

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Troop Beverly Hills is one of my favorite movies, and after re-watching it in my 20s I immediately recognized one of my favorite artists, a young Jenny Lewis. In fact, the movie is flooded with young stars you may recognize.

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Looking back, I kind of wish I would’ve been a Wilderness Girl, just so that I could sing the “Cookie Time” song.

So right now (with all of my social media channels flooded with posts of Girl Scout cookies) I’m craving Thin Mints so very much. But no such luck on finding any Girl Scout cookie sales booths. Being the proactive and slightly impatient person that I am, I decided to create my own. The resulting recipe is vegan-optional (if you choose to use margarine instead of butter) and has a very subtle coconut flavor. ‘Cause mint and coconut go together like khaki and green, right? I’m calling ’em “Thick Mints” for obvious reasons.

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Homemade Thick Mints
Recipe slightly adapted from BakingBites.com
Yields about 2 1/2 dozen

INGREDIENTS
For the cookies:
8 ounces butter (or margarine)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup rice flour (I used Mochiko)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups all purpose flour

For the dipping chocolate:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
1/8 cup canola oil

METHOD
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter (or margarine) and sugar till fully incorporated. Stir in the salt, extracts, coconut milk and cocoa powder. Mix until the cocoa powder is integrated and the batter looks like chocolate frosting. Add the flours and mix till just combined, making sure to not over-mix.

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Form the dough into a cylinder-like roll (think rolling pin-sized). Wrap the dough completely in Saran or other plastic wrap tightly. Place the dough into the freezer for at least 3 hours or overnight.

After properly resting, remove dough from the freezer and carefully discard plastic wrap. Using a sharp serrated knife cut dough into 1/2-inch discs, slowly cutting so as to not break the dough.

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Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack, about 5 minutes.

While the cookies bake, make the peppermint coating. Heat a sauce pot of water till boiling. Place the baking chocolate into a heat-resistant bowl over the boiling water, making sure not to get water  into the chocolate.

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(Cook’s Note: I have read recipes online instructing to place chocolate into a microwave. Please, I repeat, please don’t do that. Heating chocolate in the microwave will oftentimes scorch it. Chocolate is a temperamental food that needs to be treated carefully. On that note, please don’t ever heat chocolate over a direct flame. Melting chocolate over a double-boiler creates a more controllable heat source.)

Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the peppermint extract. Then slowly add in the oil to thin it out.

Slowly drop the cookies into the melted chocolate. Turn to coat the cookies entirely, then lift the cookie out of the chocolate with a rubber spatula.

Place the dipped cookies onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Place the cookies in the freezer to set for at least an hour, preferably overnight if you’re patient!

Now it’s “cookie time, it’s cookie time, it’s cookie time!”

(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots are property of Weintraub Entertainment Group)

Don’t Mess With Cookie Lyon

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Jamal

By a show of hands, who’s also obsessed with Fox’s television show, Empire? I just can’t get enough. I was introduced to the show via some friends at work who also share my love for VH1’s Love and Hip Hop.

“Oh girl, you think Love and Hip Hop is good, you definitely need to watch Empire. You’ll thank me later,” one friend said.

“You’re not watching Empire yet? Get on it, girl! It’s like a scripted, well acted version. But 1000-plus times better. Trust me,” another friend exclaimed.

So I gave in to the peer pressure and watched the pilot that night. My expectations were exceeded. Are you kidding? This show is phenomenal. (Know that I don’t use that term lightly.) My girl Taraji P. Henson is KILLING IT as the lead heroine, Cookie Lyon. Mama is fierce! And I just can’t get over how gorgeous Jamaal (portrayed by actor Jussie Smollett) is.

(Side note: Did anyone realize a young Jussie was in THIS movie?) The relationship he and Cookie have is so beautiful to watch, like how a mama lioness watches over her cub. This show proves that a mother’s love is stronger than just about anything.

With all this talk about Miss Cookie, I got to thinking: It’s been a few weeks since I’ve made some actual cookies at home. So I got to the kitchen and started baking away. These cookies are such a great twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie. The brown butter deepens the flavor and the pecans add spice with a nice bit of crunch.

(Editor’s Note: All television show screenshots are property of 20th Century Fox.)

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cookiesmilk

Brown Butter Spiced Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cookie recipe slightly adapted from Joy the Baker
Spiced pecan recipe by A Streetcar Named Devour
Yields about 3 dozen cookies

FOR THE SPICED PECANS

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup pecans, whole

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and thoroughly coat the pecans.  Spread the pecans into a single layer onto the sheet tray. Place into the oven for 15 minutes. Once done, remove and allow to cool.

FOR THE COOKIES

INGREDIENTS
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (recipe above)

METHOD
Place half of the butter into a medium skillet. Melt the butter over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally to avoid burning. The butter will begin to foam while cooking. Once the butter starts to smell nutty and the color is light amber, it’s done. Carefully remove the butter and pour it into a small bowl to cool down.

While the brown butter cools, mix the other 1/2 cup of butter with the sugars, until the mixture is well incorporated. Add in the vanilla and the egg. Once cool, pour in the brown butter. Mix until smooth. Slowly add in all the dry ingredients until just incorporated.

Place the dough into a sealable container and into the refrigerator to cool for at least an hour. Even better if it’s overnight.

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When you’re ready to bake the dough, preheat the oven to 350°F. Scoop the refrigerated dough in 2-tablespoon scoops onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet tray, lining them so that they have plenty of space as they will spread considerably once baked. Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes, or until they’re a pretty golden brown. Remove from the oven, and allow them to cool for at about 5 minutes.

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Must Be a Full Moon

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Let’s take a few minutes to watch this before we continue.

Got it? Good. ‘Cause I’d totally eat the moon if it was made of these chewy cookies. (And heck, I’d have seconds. And thirds.) Although they’re perfect on their own, I strongly suggest you make the Black Sesame Ice Cream to go with. They are so good together. Kinda like Will Ferrell and Jeff Goldblum in that SNL skit.

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Brown Butter Sugar Cookies
Recipe adapted from Food Network
Yields 12 cookies

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.

Melt the butter into a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until the butter is a deep golden brown. Remove from the heat and place the butter into a large bowl to cool.

Once the butter is cooled down, add the brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and stir until smooth. Stir in the egg and vanilla extract, mixing until well combined.

In another medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture and stir until well incorporated and smooth, about a minute.

Add the rest of the granulated sugar to a plate. Divide the dough into 12 equal-sized balls and roll them in the sugar. Arrange the dough on the parchment paper lined sheet tray at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool the cookies on the sheet tray for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack for another 10 minutes.

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Return to full story HERE

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner…

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It’s National Cookie Day, and to celebrate this grand occasion (I think it’s worth a day off from work and school, whattya think?) I wanted to share a recipe much similar to the one my half-Italian grandmother made during Christmas. If you love the taste of anise (licorice) then you’ll certainly love these.

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Pictured above with my Aunt Sandy, my Grandma Irma always had her coffee table adorned with platters of various cookies and fudge she made during the holidays. Us kids would run to that table before having Christmas dinner and nosh on the sweet treats despite our parents’ scolding. But she didn’t mind. She loved it that we loved them so much. She, too, was a cookie monster, and devoured them with us when the parents weren’t looking. I’m pretty sure I got my sweet tooth and love of baking from her.

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Italian Anisette Cookies
Recipe adapted from Vittles and Bits
Yields about 2 1/2 dozen

FOR THE COOKIES
INGREDIENTS
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoon pure anise extract

FOR THE ICING
INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
4-5 T. milk (first try 4, then add a little at a time if necessary)
1/2 t. anise extract
1/2 cup nonpareils aka “Jimmy” sprinkles

METHOD
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.

In large-sized bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and eggs on medium-low speed until combined. Lower the speed and gradually add in the flour mixture, scraping the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Increase the speed to medium-low, and whip till a dough forms. It may be a little dry. That’s OK.

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Using a small ice cream or cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop the balls of dough and roll them into uniform-sized balls.

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Place the dough onto a prepared baking sheet, and bake for about 7-10 minutes (depending on your oven’s convection) till puffed and lightly golden.  Allow the cookies to cool for one minute before transferring to a wire rack.

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Once the cookies have completely cooled, sift your powdered sugar through a sifter till all clumps are gone. This way, the icing doesn’t come out chunky. Whisk in the milk and anise until smooth. Check for consistency, it should be somewhat runny.

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Now dip the tops of the cookies into icing, and then finish with Jimmy sprinkles.  Allow for the icing to set completely.  Cookies can be stored in an airtight container.

The Cookie Project

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So I’m a bit of an oversharer. I’ve been described as being kind of like Mindy Kaling’s title character on her eponymous show, The Mindy Project. And after watching the show obsessively for the past 3 seasons, I must say, I slightly agree. If you don’t already watch the show: Mindy is a hilarious, hopeless romantic, oversharing OB/GYN, who puts all of her business out there for her co-workers–regardless if it’s welcomed or not. (For instance, Morgan, the funny and always inappropriate ex-con male nurse, has her menstrual cycle memorized.)

I’m kinda the same way. Working in a kitchen full of guys, I often find myself talking about my personal life (solicited or not) and never hesitate to let them know when it’s “that time of the month.” (It’s actually in their best interest to know, so as to not make a rather hormonally charged emotional woman even more irritated.) When I am actually PMS-ing, the following occurs: a long, dragged-out, piercing headache; bouts of random crying spells watching television shows and/or movies that don’t necessarily require a tissue box on-hand (like that time I was watching Sister Act and started balling my eyes out during the scene when they were singing “Salve Regina”); and an uncontrollable craving for chocolate and baked goods. During the latter symptom, I’m often found in the kitchen scrounging up any ingredients I have to create something on the fly to nourish that sudden and unstoppable craving. For the last two cycles, I’ve been repeating the following recipe which I’ve affectionally dubbed my “P.M.S Cookies.” It’s the perfect name for them, actually, considering their origins and the fact that they’ve got pretzels + milk chocolate chips + salt in ‘em.

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P.M.S Cookies
(Pretzels + Milk Chocolate Chips + Sea Salt)

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
8 tablespoon unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup lightly crushed pretzels

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METHOD
In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Set aside.

In another bowl cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the Nutella and vanilla extract. Add the egg.

Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips and pretzels.

(If you’ve got the time and patience, keep reading. For all cookie emergencies, scroll down to the following paragraph.)
Portion dough with an ice cream scoop or heaping tablespoon onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the freezer overnight.

Portion dough (using an ice cream scoop or heaping tablespoon) 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350-degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes until the center is fully cooked.

Allow cookies to cool on the trays for 3-5 minutes then carefully place onto cooling racks.

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