Category Archives: Food

Perfect pudding cookies

I’ve been on the search for the perfect cookie recipe.  Sorry, Nestle, but when I made homemade cookies using the Toll House recipe, they were coming out too flat and crispy.  It was probably my fault, but I need a recipe that I can’t mess up!  I love the Toll House chips, so it was time for a new cookie recipe for them.  I want cookies that bake up to the perfect fluffy and soft texture every time.

When I started seeing pudding cookies on Pinterest, those sounded promising.  Since cake mixes advertise that they’re better with pudding in the mix, it makes sense that pudding will make cookies bake up to the ideal texture, too.

After some taste tests, I’ve made adjustments to land upon a super, simple recipe for perfect pudding cookies.  I didn’t want to make anything too complicated – no separating egg whites or any other extra steps for me, please!  I like recipes that make baking easy.

This pudding cookie recipe is just right – simple and delicious!M&M Pudding Cookies - AMerryMom.com

Since beginning my cookie quest, I learned the secret behind pudding cookies: cornstarch.  As the second ingredient in the pudding mix (behind sugar), the cornstarch helps the cookies bake up thick and soft.

This is my new go-to recipe for both chocolate chip pudding cookies and M&M pudding cookies.  No matter which you choose, these cookies are a yummy treat!Pudding cookies - recipe at AMerryMom.com

Super, simple pudding cookies

Ingredients

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 package (3.4-ounce size) vanilla instant pudding mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup mini M&Ms (can substitute mini chocolate chips)

Directions

  1. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  (Chilling the dough for 30 minutes to a couple of hours before baking can help the cookies bake up thicker.)
  2. With a mixer, combine butter, white and brown sugars, and the pudding mix.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  4. A little at a time, add the baking soda, salt, and flour.  Mix until they are well combined.
  5. Gently fold in the mini M&Ms (or mini chocolate chips).
  6. If you have time to chill the dough, cover and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to two hours.
  7. Place scoops of dough on a greased or nonstick baking sheet.  (I use a 1.5-inch cookie dough scoop, which makes 42 cookies that are about 2.5 inches in diameter.  You can also roll the dough by hand to 1-inch balls of dough.)
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 9-12 minutes until the tops just begin to become golden brown.
  9. Cool and enjoy!

Pudding cookies - recipe at AMerryMom.com

These pudding cookies are so yummy – and super easy to make.  It just takes a few minutes to whip up a delicious batch!  They store well, too.  They stay soft and delicious in an airtight container.

M&M pudding cookies - recipe at AMerryMom.com

 This recipe is linked at some of these link parties.

Easy cannoli bites

One of my favorite parts of our summer vacation to the Northeast was eating some delicious cannoli from Mike’s Pastry in Boston’s North End.  It was recommended as one of the best bakeries in Boston for cannoli, and it did not disappoint!

There’s just something about the crispy shell with the creamy ricotta filling that makes cannoli so delectable!

I decided I had to find a way to make cannoli at home so we can enjoy it more often.  But I really didn’t want to spend the time making and rolling the cannoli shells.  I wanted to make a simple cannoli variation – a yummy dessert without a lot of work.  These easy cannoli bites are perfect!

They are so simple to make and taste so good!

Cannoli bites - AMerryMom.com

How to make easy cannoli bites

The pastry for these easy cannoli bites is a phyllo dough shell rather than a traditional fried cannoli pastry.  I make the shells from frozen sheets of phyllo dough (click for the instructions).  You can also purchase pre-made frozen shells at the grocery.

I love phyllo dough because it bakes up light and flaky and the box doesn’t list any trans fat or partially hydrogenated ingredients.  The shells are a light, no-fuss base for the delicious cream filling.

Ingredients

24 phyllo dough shells  (thawed if using frozen shells)

1-1/3 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

4 ounces mascarpone cheese  (I buy an 8-oz. container and use half)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips  (be sure to use the mini chips for these small dessert bites)

+extra mini chocolate chips for garnish

Instructions

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta and mascarpone cheeses, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Stir with a spoon until the mixture is smooth.  These ingredients combine together easily – no mixer is needed!  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Use a spoon to fill the shells with the ricotta mixture.  Handle the shells gently, as they can be a bit delicate.  Don’t overfill the shells, or you won’t have enough of the cream filling for all of them.  Sprinkle more mini chocolate chips on top as a garnish.Easy cannoli bites - AMerryMom.com

That’s it!  These easy cannoli bites are seriously so simple, and also incredibly yummy!

They’re my favorite type of dessert for entertaining.  They seem fancy but are a snap to make.  The bite-size portions make these desserts a perfect way to finish off a great meal.

Keep in mind that these are best when they’re fresh.  After they’ve been filled with the ricotta mixture, the shells will become soggy with the passing of time.  If you need to work ahead, you can prepare the shells and filling and keep them separate until you’re ready for these desserts.

The filled cannoli bites keep in the refrigerator overnight with some crispness left in the shell, but they’re pretty soft after two nights in the fridge.  So don’t fill the shells too much ahead.

Enjoy!  Mangia!

Easy cannoli bites
 
Ingredients
  • 24 phyllo dough shells (thawed if using frozen shells)
  • 1-1/3 cups low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips
  • +extra mini chips for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta and mascarpone cheeses, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir with a spoon until the mixture is smooth.
  2. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Use a spoon to fill the shells. (Don't overfill the shells or there won't be enough of the mixture for all of the shells.)
  4. Sprinkle extra mini chocolate chips over the cannoli bites as a garnish.

 

Adapted from EmilyBites.com.

This recipe is linked at some of these link parties.

Make your own phyllo dough shells

When recipes call for phyllo dough shells, you can find them in the grocery store freezer section.  You can also make your own little pastry shells from phyllo (or filo) dough sheets – which are also from the grocer’s frozen foods aisle.

Sometimes we can’t find the pastry shells at our grocery store, but we can get the sheets of phyllo dough.  And, as with most things, it costs less if you make it yourself so that’s a plus.

Fortunately it’s really easy to make your own phyllo dough shells from the sheets of dough!

I use this method for phyllo dough shells to make the pastry for easy cannoli bites.  They are so good!Mini phyllo dough shells - AMerryMom.com

How to make phyllo dough shells

Thaw a roll of phyllo dough according to the directions on the box.  I use Athens brand phyllo pastry sheets, which come with two individually wrapped sleeves of dough in the box.  I thaw one at a time.  One roll of dough goes a long way!

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray a mini muffin/cupcake pan with cooking spray.  You can actually use the inside *or* the outside of the muffin pan to make the phyllo dough shells.  I like to use the outside.  I find it a bit easier to form the dough this way.  I also like that it gives me a slightly larger pastry to fill.
  3. Melt 2½ tablespoons of butter.
  4. Unroll the sheets of dough and place on a smooth, dry surface.  (I keep the dough on the sheet of plastic from inside the packaging.)
  5. Cover the flat stack of dough with parchment paper or wax paper, then place a damp towel on top of the paper.  This step is important because the individual sheets of dough are super thin, so they can dry out quickly and flake or crumble if they’re not covered.  Don’t skip this step, even if you think you’re going to work fast.
  6. On a large cutting board (12″x15″ works well), place a single sheet of phyllo dough and recover the rest of the dough.
  7. Lightly brush the dough with the melted butter, working from the edge toward the center.
  8. Layer another sheet of phyllo dough directly on top, repeating with the butter and layers until you have five sheets of phyllo dough stacked together.
  9. Cut your prepared phyllo dough into 12 sections.  Use a nice, sharp knife to cut cleanly through the dough.  (Since it’s a rectangular shape, make three cuts down from long side and two cuts across from the short side.)Phyllo dough shells - AMerryMom.com
  10. Carefully press each of the 12 pieces of prepared phyllo dough into *or* around the outside of the mini muffin pan, depending on which way you prepared the pan in step 2.  Shape the dough as flat as possible at the bottom so the baked cup will sit flat.phyllo dough shells - AMerryMom.com
  11. I repeat this process to make a batch of 24 of the phyllo dough shells.  (Since each roll of Athens brand dough sheets has 20 sheets, I refreeze the unused sheets in the package.
  12. Bake for about 7-10 minutes until your phyllo dough shells are a nice golden color.  Keep a close eye on them to prevent them from getting overdone, and pull them out when they look right.Phyllo dough shells - AMerryMom.com
  13. The shells should pop right out/off from the muffin pan.
  14. Cool and use with your favorite fillings!  These light, flaky shells are a great crust for desserts like cannoli bites, mousse, etc.  They can also be used for little appetizers, such as egg salad.

Phyllo dough shells - AMerryMom.comThese instructions are adapted from the phyllo cups technique from thekitchn.com.  I’ve never tried storing the baked shells on their own, but they have instructions for how to store them if making the shells ahead.

I’ve only stored the shells after they’ve been filled.  In my experience using them for cannoli bites, the shells become mushy after a couple of days in the refrigerator so I don’t make a huge batch.  I only make and fill enough at one time to finish within a couple of days.

Note:  The basic instructions for working with phyllo dough are right on the side of the Athens box.  Their instructions are helpful!

This recipe for phyllo dough shells is linked up at some of these link parties.