Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread [and behind the scenes!]

Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread

I’m usually the one behind the camera when I’m blogging. I cook in my no-so-photogenic kitchen and shoot the finished product using a simple setup in my dining room. With three little ones running around, I don’t always get a chance to get in front of the camera or snap many process shots.

A couple months ago, friends of ours stayed at our house while they were in town for a wedding—and since one of those friends is a super talented photographer, I took advantage. Despite my outdated cabinets and the fact that it was dark in my house that morning due to impending thunderstorms, I love what Taylor Rae Photography captured. You can see my little ones running around and my flour covered counters. I’ll admit my kitchen usually looks way messier, and I often wear yoga pants and a top-knot. But other than that, this is basically what it looks like when I’m trying to capture recipes for the blog. (What you can’t see in pictures, though, is the chaotic noise level from my kids.)

We shot my recipe for Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread. I based it off my Mix + Match Shortbread and used almond extract instead of vanilla. Originally I intended to dip the cookies in white chocolate but made a last minute adjustment using chocolate chips I had on hand. It’s a flexible recipe, though, so use whatever you want! You can also drizzle on both white and milk chocolate instead of dipping for a different look, try pistachios instead of almonds, or top them with a little sea salt.

Scroll down for the recipe!

Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread | Sarah J. Hauser #baking #foodphotography #cookies #shortbread

Chocolate Dipped Almond Shortbread
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Adapted from Ina Garten

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon almond extract
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
6-8 ounces dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
A handful of almonds, roughly chopped (just eyeball it)

Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until combined. Mix in the almond extract along with two teaspoons of water.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix until ingredients are fully incorporated.

Place the dough on a floured surface and form into a log shape. Wrap the log in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the dough and slice it into about ½ inch slices. Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies turn golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on a wire rack.

While the cookies are cooling, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in 20-second intervals in the microwave, stirring frequently. Dip the cooled shortbread cookies into the chocolate and then lay them out on parchment paper.

Sprinkle on the chopped almonds, gently pressing them into the melted chocolate so they stick. Allow the chocolate to harden completely before serving. (You can place the cookies in the refrigerator to speed up this process.)

Serve and enjoy!


All the photos in this post were taken by Taylor Rae Photography. Head over to her website to see more of Taylor’s incredible work!


Lemon-Basil Whole Wheat Coffee Cake [and finding solace in the village]

Lemon-Basil Whole Wheat Coffee Cake - Sarah J. Hauser

I sit alone in bed, pillows propped behind me and books, dishes, and pumping supplies piled on the nightstand to my left. My youngest isn’t yet a month old. I hear the doorbell ring, but I don’t move. I know it’s my sister. My husband walks upstairs to check on me and let me know she’s there, and I mumble something about getting out of bed eventually. Then again, maybe I won’t. She won’t be offended. I know she gets it, and she’ll end up making us dinner or cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry without me having to ask.

I hear a soft knock on the bedroom door as she peeks her head in. I try to hold it together and say I’m fine, and I’ll come down to visit. But that’s an empty promise. She sits on the edge of the bed and my eyes begin to water. I mutter something about how there’s nothing actually wrong. I really am okay.

“It’s nothing, but it’s everything, isn’t it?” she says.

I nod. It’s nothing major, no “real” reason to complain or be sad or not be able to get out of bed. But it’s also everything. It’s the sleeplessness, c-section incision, whining toddlers, hormones, grief over my late mom, anxiety, burden of parenting, and even the news headlines that seem a heavier weight to carry than normal. I turn her words over in my mind. Nothing, but everything. Yes.  

I don’t have to justify my tears or explain away my emotions. I stay in bed, but the tightness in my heart releases, and I finally exhale.  

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Lemon-Basil Whole Wheat Coffee Cake - Sarah J. Hauser
Lemon-Basil Whole Wheat Coffee Cake - Sarah J. Hauser
Lemon-Basil Whole Wheat Coffee Cake - Sarah J. Hauser
Lemon-Basil Whole Wheat Coffee Cake - Sarah J. Hauser

Full post and recipe instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!


Baked Oatmeal Cups with Raisins, Seeds + Cinnamon

Baked Oatmeal Cups with Raisins, Seeds + Cinnamon

“One of the greatest barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on 'going it alone.' Somehow we've come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we're very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It's as if we've divided the world into 'those who offer help' and 'those who need help.' The truth is that we are both.”
-Brene Brown

You know those memes and prints that say phrases like, “You’ve got this!” and other motivational words? I think those are great, and can truly be motivating sometimes. Some days, I really do need a kick in the butt and someone to say, “You’ve got this!”

But other days, it is so abundantly clear that I don’t “got this.” I need a hand-lettered print that says, “You are completely falling apart today…and that’s OK.” Or “Maybe today you should ask for help – and not feel guilty about it.” Or “You’re not the only one who has massive meltdowns.”

I’m appreciative of the emphasis I’ve seen lately in social media and other places on encouraging others, embracing the messy, and not always trying to be perfect. Even so, those ideals seem nearly impossible for me to live out! I feel like I have to “handle it,” and in my head, asking for help is a signal of failure. Mama, it’s not. There’s a great deal of good in the idea of independence, but let’s remember that we were never actually created to be entirely independent.

I’m currently reading Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman, and one section stood out to me like a blinking neon sign. She writes, “Things that are part of our design – our need for others in community, our physical limitations, being embodied in an ‘earthly tent,’ and our lack of knowledge – are not failures…this is the way God designed us.”

That was a breath of fresh air to me. While I do fail in so many ways every day, my dependence is not one of them. Asking for help is a part of life – a beautiful part of life that so often I shove to the side for the sake of my independence. If I am created to be dependent, I don’t need to feel guilty or ashamed when I admit my need. (Can I get an “Amen?”) And to take it one step further, when we accept help freely, I think we're more likely to give it freely. As Brene Brown says, “Until we can receive with an open heart, we're never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”

We were not meant to do life alone. We were meant to depend on Christ and lift each other up in the good times and hard times. There is no more reward for the one who secludes herself from her community and attempts to “handle it” than the one who works hard and asks for the help and the guidance of others.

Baked Oatmeal Cups with Raisins, Seeds + Cinnamon
Baked Oatmeal Cups with Raisins, Seeds + Cinnamon
Baked Oatmeal Cups with Raisins, Seeds + Cinnamon
Baked Oatmeal Cups with Raisins, Seeds + Cinnamon
Baked Oatmeal Cups with Raisins, Seeds + Cinnamon
Baked Oatmeal Cups with Raisins, Seeds + Cinnamon
Baked Oatmeal Cups with Raisins, Seeds + Cinnamon

Over the last few months as I've been extra tired during this pregnancy and we were sick a good portion of the winter, we've been the recipients of extra hands to help and lots of meals from friends and family. We've been nourished in body and soul, and for that I am learning to not feel guilty, but be truly thankful.

If you're in a place to give to someone else right now, these baked oatmeal cups make a perfect quick breakfast or grab-and-go snack for someone who could use a break. (And since Mother's Day is around the corner, pair a batch with a copy of The Magic of Motherhood to encourage a mama's heart!)


Baked Oatmeal Cups with Raisins, Seeds + Cinnamon
Yields 12 oatmeal cups
Adapted from The Kitchn

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (use gluten-free oats if needed)
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup flax seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 Tablespoons unsalted almond butter
2 Tablespoons honey
1 cup raisins
Yogurt, honey, or fresh fruit for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a regular-sized muffin tin or line with paper baking cups. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, baking powder, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, almond milk, almond butter, and honey.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until fully incorporated. Fold in the raisins. Divide the oatmeal mixture evenly into the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 22-25 minutes.

Serve with yogurt, additional honey, or fresh fruit. These oatmeal cups can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days, or you can freeze them.


Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter

Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter | Sarah J. Hauser

I'll be the first one to admit that a stocked pantry with grab-and-go foods is essential. Whether you have to head out the door early for work, or you've got toddlers pulling on your legs asking for a "nack! nack!" (translation: snack), chowing down on a granola bar or muffin is sometimes the best you can do at the moment.

But I find when the noise settles and there are a few moments of calm, I need to stop and eat - and I mean actually stop. It's not always just for physical nourishment; sometimes, it's for my mind and soul. I need to sit down without staring at a screen and without a pen, scribbling down my grocery list. I need to enjoy the food in front of me and embrace the opportunity to slow down. Some days, this means warming up leftovers for lunch and attempting to eat without interruption. Other days, it's simply drinking a fresh cup of coffee while it's still hot, or indulging a really good chocolate bar at the end of the day. Most recently, it's meant an afternoon cup of tea with some sort of baked good - a scone, muffin, or in this case, biscuits. 

While the cold weather lingers (currently accompanied by clouds and rain), I've been craving comfort food, i.e. anything buttery and straight out of the oven. But I also find myself looking forward to the bright, fresh flavors of spring. This recipe - warm, lightly sweetened biscuits dotted with flecks of lemon zest and rosemary - is the best of both worlds. My favorite way to enjoy them is with copious amounts of lemon-honey butter (or sometimes an big spoonful of raspberry jam) and a steaming cup of herbal tea.

Make a batch and sneak away for a few minutes to truly savor. Savor the flavors of rosemary and lemon, the textures of creamy, sweet honey butter and crumbly, flaky biscuits. Most of all, let yourself savor a moment of stillness...because we all know it won't last forever. 

Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter | Sarah J. Hauser
Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter | Sarah J. Hauser
Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter | Sarah J. Hauser
Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter | Sarah J. Hauser
Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter | Sarah J. Hauser
Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter | Sarah J. Hauser
Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter | Sarah J. Hauser

Lemon + Rosemary Biscuits with Lemon-Honey Butter
Yields 10-12 biscuits

Biscuits
2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling out the dough
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, diced
1 cup buttermilk, plus a little extra for the top of the biscuits

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use a silicone baking mat), and set aside.

Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, soda, rosemary, and lemon zest to a food processor. Pulse until combined.

Add the diced butter to the food processor, and pulse a few times until the mixture looks like coarse meal. There should still be pea-sized bits of butter throughout the flour mixture.

Add the buttermilk and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. You don’t want to overmix, otherwise, the biscuits will be dense. It’s OK to still see small bits of butter in the dough.

Spread a bit of flour on your work surface. Turn the dough out on the floured surface, and pat it into a rectangle, about ¾ inch thick. Fold the dough over and pat it down gently again. Fold it over one more time, and pat it down until it’s ¾ inch thick again. (Be careful not to overwork the dough beyond this.)

Use a 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits. Reroll the dough scraps as needed and continue to cut out more biscuits until all the dough is used.

Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet, leaving space in between each one. Brush the tops with buttermilk or milk (this helps them brown).

Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the tops and edges are slightly browned. Remove from the oven, and let them cool slightly. Serve warm with lemon-honey butter. (They also taste great with raspberry jam!)

Lemon-Honey Butter
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup honey
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mix together all the ingredients until smooth. (I prefer to do this with a stand mixer or handheld mixer.) Transfer to a small bowl or dish, or spoon the butter onto plastic wrap, roll into a log shape, and wrap it up tightly. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use. 


This recipe was originally featured at Lark + Linen.