Penuche Fudge

And on the 10th Day of Christmas Cookies I made my Dad’s favorite.  We weren’t a big “fudge” family, but I do recall his love for Penuche!  As a young girl I didn’t understand why he liked it so much, since there was no chocolate in it. I guess I just figured it was a “grown up” dessert, like his love of Mincemeat Pie.   I might not have understood or like Penuche back then but that story has changed for sure! 

Penuche Fudge

Penuche Fudge has butterscotch and maple overtones, due to its caramelized brown sugar.  You can leave the walnuts out if you prefer, but they really do add a great texture.


  • 4 1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar (2 lb.)
  • 1 c. evaporated milk, undiluted
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. chopped walnuts
    Seriously melts in your mouth!


In a large saucepan, mix sugar, milk, butter and salt. Cook over medium high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Allow it to cook until 238 degrees registers on candy thermometer*. Remove from heat and let stand until lukewarm, 110 degrees. Add vanilla and walnuts. Beat until mixture is thick and loses its gloss. Pour into buttered 9 inch square pan. When firm, cut into squares.

*If you don’t have a high temperature thermometer another trick is to determine when the candy has reached the right temperature is to take a small amount of mixture and drop it into cold water.  If it forms a soft ball you are in ready to remove from heat.

Makes about 3 pounds

No chocolate, but it's still got dessert "cred"!

Fudge is pretty easy to make- it’s all about cooking the candy to the right temperature.  After that it’s simple!!


Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies- The Forgotten Cookie

And on the 9th day of Christmas cookies, I made a cookie that I have been making since high school.  One I can make in my sleep, literally in my sleep.  Forgotten cookies were my “go to” cookie in high school, any friend’s birthday, a big game, or even the dreaded Senior Speech.  I went to a high school that required all graduating senior students to deliver an eight minute speech, to the entire upper school.  It was eight minutes that most of us dreaded for years leading up to it; somehow we thought getting cookies on your “Speech Day” would make it a little easier !

They're like little snow puffs!

Chocolate Meringue Cookies, AKA Forgotten Cookies are delicious and so easy.  Just mix them up, drop them on to the cookie sheet and pop them in the oven.  Go to bed and pack them up in the morning! 


  • 2 egg whites
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. chocolate miniature chips

    Melt in you mouth!




Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff and glossy. Add all other ingredients to egg white mixture gradually. Drop by teaspoon on non- stick pan. Put in oven preheated to 375 degrees. Turn off heat and leave overnight.

Yield is about 4 dozen

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

It’s been almost 20 years since I made my senior speech, wow….and over 20 years of making Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies.  And now I feel just a little bit older than I did when I started writing this post!

These cookies go absolutely wonderful with the amazing products sold at

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

On the 8th Day of Christmas Cookies I remembered why I fell in love with Crackle Cookies a few years ago!  It is the season for Christmas cookies and at work many friends bring in plates of cookies to share.  It’s a great way to celebrate the holiday season and to try new types of cookies (and fall off the diet).  I fell for this cookie at first bite!

Good Things Come In Small Packages

There are a ton of recipes for the popular Crackle Cookie, some use dark chocolate, some semi-sweet chocolate, and some even add nuts- hazelnuts or pecans.  My favorite is simple with semi-sweet chocolate as these cookies are so rich. If you are a dark chocolate fan, you can just substitute bittersweet chips in place of the semi-sweet chips.

Of the many recipes for Crackle Cookies I have tried, the recipe below from Culinate is my favorite.


  • 6 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  •  ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  •  ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  •  3 large eggs
  •  1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  •  2 tsp. instant espresso powder
  •  1 ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  •  3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  ½ tsp. baking powder
  •  ½ tsp. kosher salt
  •  ¾ cup powdered sugar

Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside!


1. In a large saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring frequently, until evenly melted. Set aside to cool down to warm, about 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar and then, one at a time, the eggs. Stir in the vanilla extract and the espresso powder.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. The batter will have the sticky consistency of brownie batter.

3. Scrape the batter onto a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap the dough into a large ball. Place in the fridge for at least two hours (up to eight hours) or in the freezer for 30 minutes, to firm up the dough.

4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper or silicone baking mats on cookie sheets.

5. Put the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Roll chunks of the chilled cookie dough into 1-inch balls, and then roll the balls in the powdered sugar until evenly coated. Arrange the balls about 1½ inch apart on the cookie sheets.

6. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes (the baking time will vary, depending on how cold the cookie dough is), until puffed and cracked on top. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing the cookies with a spatula to wire racks to finish cooling.

7. Serve warm or at room temperature. Keep in an airtight container for a few days. (Do not freeze, as freezing makes the powdered-sugar coating soggy.)

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

I can’t believe I went so long in life without meeting this cookie! 

Benne Wafers- A Charleston Treasure!

On the 7th Day of Christmas Cookies I pretended to be back in my favorite place in the world, Charleston, SC.  I spent about 5 years there while I was going to the College of Charleston and now my parents reside there.  There truly is no place like home!  And when home is Charleston you are one of the luckiest- Especially if you are a food lover!   The Low Country is packed with history and tradition, creativity and inspiration.  Chefs today redefine the Charleston classics while pushing the envelope in the culinary world- a chef’s playground! 

Benne Wafers

Among other treasures you can find in Charleston are these famous treats- Benne Wafers.   They are light and crisp, native to the Low Country.  It is said that sesame plant was first grown in Africa, and that the West Africans, as slaves, brought it to this country in the 17th and 18th centuries, calling sesame “benne”.   Legend has it that eating sesame seeds brings good luck.


  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Racks and Racks of Benne Wafers


Blend butter and sugar together until creamy. Add vanilla and egg; beat until light and fluffy. Mix in sesame seeds, flour, baking powder, and salt. Drop by half teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets, allowing enough room for spreading. Bake at 375° for about 10 minutes. Remove from pans immediately.

 Makes 5 dozen cookies.

One of Charleston’s Best Treats!

Happy Eats!

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

On the 6th Day of Christmas Cookies….Things didn’t go my way.   Another recipe from the Ritz Carlton at Amelia– Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, the most favorite cookie I have ever met.  Sir Wes has even gone to our local Ritz to see if he can find them- no luck.  Alas, the kind Pastry Chef sent us the recipe to try ourselves.  At the hotel, these cookies are huge, so soft, decadent and chewy.  A cookie you will never forget. 

Mise en Place

They cookies I made…not the same.  They taste awesome and are moist inside, but definitely fell flat.  I am quite sure it was the baker, not the recipe so I want to post it anyways! 

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • ½ cup and 1 tbsp. milk chocolate chips
  • 2 ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ stick butter
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. espresso extract (2 tbsp. Water and ¾ tsp. instant espresso)
  • 3 tsp. vanilla
  • ¾ cake flour
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

    Sir Duke is very curious at the mess that's been happening in the kitchen lately!



Whip Eggs and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy.  Over a double boiler melt the milk chocolate, dark chocolate and butter.  When melted slowly add chocolate to the egg and sugar mixture.  Add espresso and vanilla extracts to the chocolate mixture.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl and then slowly add the flour to the chocolate mix.  Gently fold in the semisweet chocolate chips.  Refrigerate batter for an hour or longer.  Preheat oven to 350 and scoop golf ball size balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Put in freezer for 10 minutes before baking for 15 minutes.   Cool on wire rack.  This recipe makes about 6 dozen cookies- We froze half of the dough and they baked the same.

The dough is pretty soft, I put it in the freezer to be able to scoop it!

I can’t be sure where I went wrong, but these guys didn’t turn out the way the cookies are at Amelia Island.  That’s not saying the cookies I made aren’t delicious- they were trust me…. There will definitely be a “Take Two”

Very moist inside, light and flaky outside!

Not bad for a “Mistake”!

A glass of milk is a must!

Rosemary Walnut Shortbread

On the Fifth Day of Christmas Cookies….I was running short on sugar.  Decided to go down the savory road- these are still a little sweet, but a great alternative for the strange people that don’t enjoy sweets!

The rosemary is great for holiday parties!

Martha Stewart has some magical recipes, and they are always perfectly written and tested.  I know that half of a cup means half of a cup with her recipes!  These cookies are delicious on their own, but serve them with a bit of blue cheese to them and you will never forget them!


  •  1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  •  1/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  •  1/4 cup granulated sugar
  •  1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  Raw sugar, for decorating


Rosemary Walnut Shortbread Cookies


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Whisk flour, nuts, rosemary, and salt in a large bowl.

 2. Put butter and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until lightened, about 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until dough comes together and is smooth, about 3 minutes.

 3. Turn out dough onto parchment paper, and pat into a round. Place parchment paper on top; roll into a 12-inch round, 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet; refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

 4. Cut out cookies using various sizes of heart-shape cutters (1/2 inch to 3 inches); transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. (Keep same-size cookies on same sheet.) Roll scraps; cut out. Gently press raw sugar onto edges of cookies.

 5. Bake until just golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

Add a hunk of good blue cheese and savor it!

 Take these and a wheel of blue cheese to a holiday party!  Woot!

Chocolate Mint Thumb Print Cookies

And on the Fourth Day of Christmas Cookies …I found some Andes Candies!

Chocolate Mint Thumbprints

Taken from Burghilicious– They just look so amazing.  The recipe can also be found in Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented.

For the cookies

  •  2 ounces dark chocolate
  •  2 ounces mint chocolate or Andes mint chocolate candies
  •  1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  3/4 teaspoon salt
  •  1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
  •  1/3 cup granulated sugar
  •  2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
  •  2 egg yolks
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1 cup coarse sugar for rolling

 For the mint ganache

  •  3 ounces high-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  •  3 tablespoons heavy cream
  •  1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

    Olive Garden should give these out instead of Andes Candies!



 Melt together the dark and mint chocolate in the microwave using 30 second bursts. Whisk until smooth, and then set aside to cool.

 In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Add the white and brown sugars and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and continue beating until combined. Add the cooled chocolate and mix gently until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then add the flour-cocoa mixture. Mix on a low speed until the dough is smooth, but only just. Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and form it into a disk. Wrap it up and chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

 When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and let the dough soften on a counter for a few minutes if it got really hard. Pour the coarse sugar into a shallow bowl and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

 Form tablespoon-size dough balls, taking care that they have no lumps or cracks, and try to make them all the same size. (A cookie scoop is awesome here.) Roll each ball in coarse sugar and place it on the cookie sheet. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make an indentation in the center of each cookie.

 Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the sheets from the oven and re-make the indentations (aren’t you glad you used that wooden spoon and not your actual thumb!) Swap and rotate the cookie sheets when you return them to the oven for an additional 4-5 minutes. Pull the cookies out of the oven at the very first sign of cracking and cool completely on a wire rack.

 To make the mint ganache, put the white chocolate in a glass measuring cup with a pour spout. Heat the heavy cream in the microwave until it boils, about 30 seconds. Pour the heavy cream over the white chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in the peppermint extract. Use the measuring cup to fill the thumbprints with the ganache and refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Chocolate and Mint! Yum!!

 These cookies freeze beautifully and thaw in minutes. …..if you can get them to the freezer!

Salted Caramel Candies

On The Third Day of Christmas Cookies… I found the Sea Salt!

Melt in your mouth perfect!

This is a recipe from the Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island, straight from the Bakery.  There is an amazing restaurant, Salt, at the resort, which Sir Wes and I love to indulge at for our anniversary.  On the last trip to Amelia, we discovered these indescribably, ridiculous, caramels, made from the restaurants specialty sea salt collection.  They are amazing! 

I followed the exact recipe from the Ritz Carlton kitchen-


  • 1.7 pounds       Unsalted Butter
  • 2 cups               Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tbsp              Fleur Del Sel (salt)
  • ½ cup               Glucose Syrup
  • 5 cups               Sugar, Granulated 
  •                           Water


  • In medium sauce pan, heat butter, heavy cream, and fleur del sel salt until mixture starts to simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In large pot, place the sugar and glucose, add enough water to the sugars so when mixed, the sugars resemble wet sand. Using a pastry brush, wash the sides of the pot with water so that there is no sugar on the sides (otherwise your sugar will crystallize).
  • Cook the sugar on high with a lid. Remove the lid once the sugars have dissolved and the mixture is bubbling.
  • When the sugar reaches a light amber color, slowly pour the cream mixture on top of the sugar. Pour about a third of the cream and then whisk, repeating until you have used all the cream. CAUTION! The mixture will bubble up and release lots of steam.
  • Place your thermometer into the sugar. Continue to cook the sugar until it reaches 125 Celsius. Occasionally whisk the sugar while the temperature is rising. Have your silpat-lined tray ready on a heat resistance surface.
  • Once the caramel reaches 125 Celsius, pour onto the silpat covered tray. Be careful as sugar is extremely hot. Let set for 4 hours.
  • Run knife around the sides of pan and flip caramel onto cutting board.
  • Sprinkle with extra fleur del sel salt, cut into pieces and enjoy!

    Just the right amount of salty and sweet!



Glucose Syrup may be purchased in most craft stores (i.e. Michaels) in the cake decorating or candy sections. It is extremely sticky. The best way to measure it is by using a glove. Fleur Del Sel salt is available in our Salt Shop at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and may be found in an upscale grocery store.

Youll need a silpat (silicone non-stick baking mat available at Williams Sonoma) to line the tray you pour the caramel. Use a candy thermometer or digital thermometer to read temperatures up to 125 Celsius.

Salted Caramel Candies

 Salted Caramels….I don’t think I can ever go back to Caramel Squares- Sorry Kraft!

Chewy Lemon Basil Cookies

On The Second Day of Christmas Cookies….

It tis’ the season for Christmas Cookies!  The last few years I have been baking the Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies and I thought I would share the recipes this year.  There are always a few cookies I love and repeat each year- this recipe is definetly a keeper!!

Chewy Lemon Basil Cookies

Inspired by How Sweet It Is , these just looked so mouthwatering, and I am a sucker for all things lemon!

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

 1/4 teaspoon salt

 1 stick ( 1/2 cup) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

 1 cup granulated sugar

 1/4 cup brown sugar

 1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature

 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest/rind

 ½ Vanilla Bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 teaspoon finely chopped basil


½ cup confectioner sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice, milk or water

Super Light and Refreshing!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in mixing bowl and set aside.

In another mixing bowl, add cooled, melted butter and add sugar, mixing until creamy. Add in egg and egg yolk, mixing to combine, and then blend in vanilla and lemon extracts, lemon juice, lemon zest and basil. Slowly stir in dry ingredients, mixing until a dough forms.

Using an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, scoop the dough into rounded balls and place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 14-15 minutes, or until middle is just set an edges are slightly golden.

While cookies are cooling, mix glaze and add into a pastry bag with a fine tip.  If you don’t have a pastry bag, put the glaze in a small ziplock and snip a tiny corner.  Carefully stripe the cookies with the glaze and allow to set for 1 or 2 hours.

Basil adds a great twist to a typical pile of Christmas cookies

These little guys are so light and lemony! The basil flavor is an unexpected surprise!

Cranberry Salsa!

I have an admission to make- I like canned cranberry jelly, ridges and all.  This is how I grew up-which is probably why I am ok with having the good old sliced cranberry jelly every so often.   HOWEVER- as long as time permits, I would much rather make my own cranberry relish or chutney.  This year’s planning session led me to find a recipe in Southern Living featuring a Cranberry Salsa, which I knew must be great being that all things “salsa” are always delicious.  It’s the cilantro I love, not to mention usually there are chips, and maybe a cerveza. This is a great alternative to a typical relish, or even the lovely canned cranberry jelly! 

Fresh Cranberry Salsa Mise en Place
Another great thing about this dish is that you can do it pretty far in advance, I made it on Sunday and the flavors are melding together already. 


  • 1 (12-oz.) package fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


  • 1. Pulse cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.
  • 2. Pulse orange zest and next 5 ingredients in food processor 3 to 5 times or until orange, ginger, and pepper are finely chopped. Stir into cranberries; cover and chill 2 before serving.


Into the food processor!

You can chop everything by hand or use a blender if you are without a food processor or time! 

Can you see all that delicious cilantro!

 From start to finish it took me about 15 minutes- super easy!

The longer it sits the better!


I actually could eat this by the spoonful, out of the jar!

The last perk of this recipe is that I am guessing by adding a little cream cheese to it after Turkey Day is done, you will have a tasty tortilla chip dip!

Cranberry Salsa! Ole!

  Happy Holiday Cooking!!!!!!! And Happy Leftover Eating!