Another year has brushed passed me just as quickly as a stranger on a busy street. It’s been a whirlwind of a year, with both good and bad memories now in the bank. The very best thing to happen to me in 2011 was the birth of Smart Cookie. I believe my life has truly changed as a result. I’ve been able to take my devoted passion for food and channel it into something that I can share with the world. I can only hope that 2012 will allow me to continue my mission in bigger, tastier ways. I would love for Smart Cookie to continue to grow while I grow as both a chef and a writer. Food and I are bound together in a life-long journey. Hopefully, it will lead to a career that will allow me to share my love for food with the world on an even grander scale than I do now. Regardless of what 2012 brings, I will continue to bring you daily deliciousness. I hope you’ll follow Smart Cookie into the new year & the years to come!
So with that, let us ring in the new year right with my 12 absolute favorite recipes of the year.
Depending on how long you’ve been following Smart Cookie, you might be asking yourself, “Wasn’t Smart Cookie’s first post on Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies?” Allow me to clear up the confusion: Yes. Yes it was. This is the exact same recipe from my very first post.
So why is it making an encore appearance? There are two reasons. First of all, that was my first ever post on Smart Cookie. I had no followers, no fans, no little cookies. I believe this recipe did not get the exposure it deserves. And that brings us to my second reason for reposting it.
These chocolate chip cookies are what I consider to be perfect. Now, I know there are approximately 4.4 million chocolate chip recipes out there, at least 25 percent of which that claim to be “the best.” (Those are not legitimate statistics at all). I am also aware that everyone has a different ideal when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. Some people like them thin; others like them thick. Some people like them chewy; others like them crisp. Some enjoy deep, dark chocolate chips; some enjoy sweet milk chocolate. Therefore, I won’t pretend that these are the world’s idea of the best, most perfect cookies; those do not exist. There cannot be a perfect chocolate chip cookie when there is no universal definition of perfection. However, these cookies are my absolute favorite, everything I’ve ever wanted in a chocolate chipper, and I’m pretty positive you’ll feel the same. So far, everyone who tried them has agreed. So that’s something, right?
Very rarely is it acceptable to rip, tear, and/or obliterate your food. People expect you to use utensils (and your manners). You must be neat and civilized.
I scoff at such social norms. Why, you ask? Because there’s always a loophole. Take this Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Ring, for example. It laughs in the face of proper eating habits. You can use your hands to rip off little pieces or hearty hunks and chow down. No one will judge you for it. It is finger food at its finest. No utensils required.
I’ve had a lot of spinach artichoke dips in my day. In fact, I’d say I’m a Spinach Artichoke Connoisseur of sorts (it’s a legit title). This classic creamy dip is my go-to appetizer of choice at just about any restaurant. It’s always a bit of a gamble to order though; you never know what you’re going to get.
I’ve had spinach artichoke dip that’s killer and spinach artichoke dip that nearly killed me. Mostly, I’ve had dip that’s average. Generally speaking, it’s hard to make a bad spinach artichoke dip (notice I say “hard;” not “impossible”). I mean, it’s spinach and cheese in a creamy dip. It’s difficult for such a combo to become an epic fail.
But that’s not enough for me. Mediocre doesn’t cut it in my book; I want a spinach artichoke dip that’s supremely delicious, the kind of creamy perfection that would be served at a party in heaven. (Do they party in heaven?)
Chances are, there’s a lonely carton of leftover eggnog sitting dormant in your fridge right this very moment. It’s post-Christmas, and you’re asking yourself, “What the heck am I gonna do with that?”
Fear not, my little cookies, for I’ve got an incredibly delicious way to make use of your residual ‘nog: Eggnog Custard Pie with White Chocolate-Eggnog Sauce. Not only is it scrumptious, but it’s also a sweet way to ring in the New Year. This pie boasts a smooth and creamy custard filling, lightly spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and subtle eggnog flavor. Cradled in a Nilla Wafer crust, the whole pie is drenched in a luscious eggnog-white chocolate sauce for additional sweet indulgence.
This pie is light and delicious, an ideal treat for finishing off this Christmas’ carton of creamy eggnog. It requires very few ingredients and even less effort. For an easy dessert with impressive results, you simply must make this Eggnog Custard Pie.
New Year’s Eve will be upon us in six short days. Now, ask yourself this questions: are you properly prepared to celebrate?
If you don’t have all the ingredients to make this Party Bread, then the answer is: no.
You see, I’ve been ringin’ in the New Year with this cheesy, buttery, heavenly bread for as long as I can remember, and I don’t think I could celebrate without it. It is so insanely good; we’re talking blow-your-mind-all-the-way-to-the-moon-and-back good. You won’t even be able to wrap your head around the utter deliciousness of this hot, cheesy bread.
What do you see when you think “Winter wonderland?” I picture rolling hills blanketed by smooth, freshly fallen snow. A few flakes still fall from the gray winter sky. Tall pine trees tower towards the horizon, their dark green branches buried by impossibly white snow. Glittering icicles hang from bare oak trees while bright red birds sit perched within the pines like cranberries in a bush. The snow beneath my feet is so soft that I feel I could curl up on its sparkling surface and drift asleep for days.
If you could take this frosty fantasy and fuse it into a food, the result would be these Fudgy Chocolate Crinkles. These pillows of chewy chocolate goodness are dusted with powdered sugar like freshly fallen snow. The stark white sugar strongly contrasts the dark, fudgy peaks beneath. They look like winter, if winter was a cookie.
Don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure Reese’s Cups are America’s most-beloved candy. There’s just something so seductive about peanut butter and chocolate together that it can turn even the most civilized person into a savage candy fiend. Ever participate in the epic battle for the last Reeses Cup in the candy dish while trick-or-treating? ‘Nuff said.
Now, I myself am I big fan of Reese’s Cups. I mean, it’s chocolate and peanut butter. What’s not to love? However, like almost everything else in the world of food, I have found that homemade is a thousand times better. That may sound ludicrous when it comes to peanut butter cups. Reese’s cups are already awesome. How could you make them any better?