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You'd think that, after nearly eight years of baking and blogging at Hummingbird High, I'd have a better sense of which recipes will take off on the internet. Because a few weeks ago, when I posted this photo of these s'mores chocolate chip cookies on Instagram, I literally had no intention of even posting the recipe on my site—they were something I'd whipped up on a whim, as a way to procrastinate from awful book deadlines and to use both the cookie dough in my freezer and the bag of gourmet marshmallow squares I'd spontaneously bought at Target. But lo and behold, many of you demanded the recipe, and here it FINALLY is.

Now, because I feel your insane thirst for this cookie, I'm going to skip all the filler details us food bloggers usually tend to ramble on about, like the origin of s'mores, my undying love for chocolate chip cookies, or maudlin, gushing descriptions like how, when fresh out of the oven, these cookies taste like the love child of your favorite chocolate chip cookie and the best s'mores you ever made with your best friend in middle school while at summer camp together. Instead, I'm gonna give you all my best tips and tricks for making these beauties:


The first is this: use brown butter for the chocolate chip cookie base. In a pinch, regular melted butter is fine too (in fact, the first version I made with regular melted butter was plenty tasty), but brown butter always gives everything a nutty, toasted flavor that works especially well in these s'mores chocolate chip cookies. It's worth the extra step.

The second: graham crackers are a must. I'll admit, I made a few versions that used speculoos cookies as a substitute for graham crackers. They were also delicious, but graham crackers really are what make s'mores s'mores. In my earlier trials, I rolled each cookie dough ball in cracker crumbs, but found that I liked it much better with actual shards of graham cracker in the dough itself. The trick is to not think about it too much and break the graham crackers by hand into fairly large, random, and uneven pieces. Throw it all into the mixer all at once—the beater will crush some of the graham crackers into fine crumbs, while keeping other pieces in bigger shards, giving each bite of cookie lots of different graham cracker textures with every bite.


And finally, both the chocolate and the marshmallows you use are very, VERY important. Like a 7 on the INES scale important (Did anybody get that VERY dark reference? Sorry, I binge watched Chernobyl recently and it's still on my mind). Although s'mores are typically made with Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bars, do NOT use them in these cookies. I tried. It didn't work. Hershey's chocolate bars contain too many additives to melt properly in the oven. Ditto with chocolate chips—I've already ranted about how cheap chocolate chips contain paraffin wax (yup, the same stuff candles are made out of—it's what helps them keep their shape in the oven). You want to shell out for the good chocolate here, whether it's Valrhona feves or your favorite expensive pretentious dark chocolate bar, chopped up by hand. Good chocolate will melt into puddles throughout the cookie, emulating the way chocolate melts in a classic s'more. If you're on a budget and/or don't want to order feves online, use Trader Joes' Pound Plus 72% cacao chocolate bars (it's made by Callebaut, a rival of Valrhona's who makes equally high-quality chocolate) or Ghirrardelli's 60% cacao bittersweet baking bars.


With marshmallows, you can get away with using the classic Kraft Jet-Puffed kind you know and love from your childhood. Just be sure to get the large kind—although smaller or mini marshmallows will work in a pinch, to get the EXACT look of my cookies, you need a big marshmallow to melt into a huge, gooey, glorious puddle. I used this fancy kind from Smashmallow, which I literally bought only because I liked their square shape (though apparently Jet-Puffed makes square ones too, even ones that stack!). The best part is that the Smashmallow Toasted Vanilla flavor literally comes pre-torched, which means that they've already got the Maillard reaction kickstarted in them. Not to mention they bake up beautifully too, giving the puddles a kind of ombre look. If you want that look for your cookies but can't find Smashmallows, use a chef's torch to gently and quickly lightly brown the tops of the marshmallows you're planning on using. Don't have a chef's torch? No problem—toasting them on the stovetop like you would over a campfire works just as well.

Okay, that is literally everything you could possibly need to make these cookies (also be sure to check out the baker's note below, because it's important). So go forth and enjoy. You know I got ya back.


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Some baker's notes:
  • When placing the marshmallow on top of each cookie dough ball, lightly place each one on top of its ball; it doesn't really stick since the cookie dough is too greasy. You can quickly pat the top of each dough ball too to make a plateau on which to rest the marshmallow on. Either way, know this—some of the marshmallows are going to fall off the cookies as they sink and expand in the oven. It's fine if they end up a little lopsided (it's what makes the cookies pretty!), but it's definitely a problem if they fall off completely: they'll melt into a puddle on the pan, and not on your cookie (and I will be very sad for you). I recommend peeking in the oven about 3 minutes into the baking time to see if any marshmallows have fallen off. If they have, don't worry about it too much! Quickly open the oven door, reach in there, and re-position it back onto its cookie dough ball. At this point, the marshmallow is still solid enough to handle, but don't squish too hard—it should already be getting a little melty. Peek into the oven again 6 minutes into the baking time and make any adjustments as necessary. You got this.
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Erlend's birthday was this past weekend, and, gasp, we did not celebrate with cake. In fact, he specifically requested that I *NOT* make cake and make him a cobbler instead. I was aghast, but to be honest with you guys, he'd been making this request for years and I've just been ignoring him all this time. Because, alas, while I've been #teamcake my whole life, he's been #teampie. Opposites attract, what can I say?


But between you and me, the only reason why I finally caved and made him a birthday pie was because I'd accidentally bought a half flat of berries that needed to be used up fast (seriously—why do berries go bad so quickly?). Even after making a generous berry cobbler, we still had a few flats to burn through. So I made this blackberry almond cake!


I've always liked the combination of blackberries and almonds—the nuttiness kind of helps cut away the tartness of the fruit. I decided to take the white cake from my book, Weeknight Baking, but make it with almond milk and extract instead. I was a little worried that it wouldn't work out since almond milk is much less fatty than traditional whole cow's milk, but it worked out really well! The almond milk gave the cake a really fine and tender crumb. And for even more almond flavor, I topped it all off with an almond German buttercream frosting.


Are you guys familiar with German buttercream? It's basically my new favorite thing. Whereas Italian and Swiss buttercream recipes instruct you to make a meringue and whip butter into it, German buttercream is made by first making a pudding, then whipping butter into it. The result is a dreamy frosting that's easy as heck to pipe, with the taste of vanilla pudding. It's absolutely perfect with the blackberries and cake—every bite tasted like berries and cream. Enjoy!


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Some baker's notes:
  • This cake is made up of multiple components: a quick blackberry jam, pudding for the buttercream, and the cake and frosting itself. Both the blackberry jam and the pudding will need to be cooled to room temperature before using in the cake and frosting recipes. As a result, it can take a long time to make this cake from start to finish. I suggest breaking it up over multiple days, since both the jam and pudding will keep in the fridge for up to one week. Just be sure to warm both to room temperature before using in the full recipe! I made the blackberry jam and pudding on Day 1, the cake on Day 2, and then finished by making the frosting and decorating on Day 3. 

  • When making the cake batter, it’s especially important that your butter, milk, and egg whites are warmed to room temperature—this batter will curdle if some of the ingredients are colder than others.
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This post was done in partnership with Café Appliances, who sponsored this post by providing the compensation and appliances to make it happen! I'm incredibly lucky to be a member of the Café Collective, a group of nine women with impeccable style and expertise in home design, fashion, lifestyle, and food. Be sure to follow along the next few weeks to learn more — as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own, and thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Hummingbird High possible!


I cannot believe that, in my nearly eight years of blogging, I do not have a simple brown butter chocolate chip cookie recipe. I have all sorts of chocolate chip cookie recipes—one made with peanut butter cups, another with rainbow nonpareils, one made with just egg yolks, a slice-and-bake version, and even ones without any chocolate chips—but no brown butter. What on earth? Brown butter makes every dessert taste better, and chocolate chip cookies are no exception.


It’s funny because a few years ago, I just did not understand the hype around brown butter. It turns out it was me all along—the whole time I *thought* I was making brown butter, I was actually just melting it instead. Brown butter is made by melting butter and cooking it until the water in the butter evaporates and its milk solids caramelize. Most brown butter recipes come with intense warnings, telling you to watch what you’re doing like a hawk; just a few seconds too long on the burner will lead to burned butter. So being the insanely risk-averse person that I am, I skewed the opposite direction and never cooked the butter long enough for it to properly brown. It didn’t help that I had old-school electric coil burners on my range that took forever to heat up and cool down, despite how many times I fiddled with the knobs.


Finally switching to a gas range was such a godsend. Gas burners are a lot easier to control than their coil counterparts, with the size and heat of the flame easily controlled by knobs. My new Cafe Appliances range also has a whopping SIX burners, all of which are different sizes (including a large, pro-level, high-heat emitting one!) to really enable you to control your cooking. Browning butter has never been so easy—when I’m in a rush, I cook the butter on the high heat burner to melt it fast, then switch the pot over to one of the smaller, lower-heat burners to really control the color of the final product.


The best part? The Cafe range has two ovens, allowing me to cook multiple pans of cookies all at once. I know that most people just position their oven racks to be able to bake two pans at the same time, but I’m actually VERY against that—I find that the pan on the lower rack always leads to cookies with burned bottoms, while the upper pan takes forever to cook. I’m all about positioning the rack in the center of the oven and baking each pan on there one at a time. The problem is that most recipes make at least two to four trays of cookies, meaning that I’m stuck in the kitchen baking tray after tray. But with the new double oven, I’m able to cut this waiting time in half. Not to mention that my model is dual-fuel: whereas the burners are controlled by gas, the oven is powered by electricity, leading to much more consistent temperatures throughout the bake time.


Everything I bake comes out perfectly, like these cookies: dense and chewy in the center, with crisp edges on their outer rings, all dotted with molten chocolate and the toasty, nutty flavor of brown butter. See what I mean? These really are the easiest brown butter chocolate chip cookies ever.


Some baker’s notes:
  • When browning butter, it can be incredibly difficult to tell what color the butter is and accidentally go overboard. The mixture will get incredibly foamy, too. It’s best to use a light colored pan to help you control the color and see what’s going on. When all else fails, dip a light colored spoon into the mixture to check its color, or even simply spoon out a small amount on a light colored plate. The longer you cook the butter, the darker and more flavorful it will be. But watch out! There’s a fine line between brown butter and burnt butter; you don’t want to go too overboard.

  • After you’ve browned the butter, you’ll see some dark flecks in the brown butter—these are the caramelized milk solids. Some folks like to strain out the solids and just use the butter, but I generally tend to keep them in since they tend to add more flavor to whatever I’m baking, too. To store brown butter, pour it into an airtight container and refrigerate for 1 to 2 weeks. You can use brown butter in place of butter in just about any recipe, both sweet and savory.
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I know that Memorial Day weekend is supposed to be the official start of summer, but for the last few years, 4th of July has held this place of honor for me. Part of it is that many big life events always happen around now—last year, the manuscript for Weeknight Baking was due this same week, and fast forward literally a year later (after SO MANY edits and design iterations), Weeknight Baking is finally going to the printers!


Honestly, I thought I would feel more joy or pride or something, but I'm mostly just relieved that Weeknight Baking will finally be out of my hands and I can catch up on sleep again. I know I keep saying this, but the last few weeks—no, months—were a little insane. My publisher set crazy deadlines; to wit, I'm currently waiting for the latest and last pass of the book, which is supposed to land in my inbox this afternoon. They asked for me to turn in feedback by first thing TUESDAY MORNING. That's 300 pages to comb through in less than 24 hours!!! To get it done, I'm going to have to pull an all-nighter, ugh. I literally have a six pack of cold brew coffee in the fridge, ready for the mad rush later tonight.


I wish I could say that these intense deadlines were atypical, but it has been like that for the last year and, well, I don't really know if I can say too much without exploding right now, lol. But rest assured—I know I keep saying this, but I'm working on a series about what it's like to really like a cookbook with all the details about the crazy scheduling and deadlines. And I have opinions and feelings, both of which I'll definitely go into more detail about. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait to read it until after summer's over, because I'm currently burned out and planning for a relatively chill next few weeks. What does that mean? I'm planning on doing as much as I can this month so I can hopefully take the entirety of August off. Expect lots of baking on Instagram stories this month (maybe I'll even try my first IGTV, but that seems ambitious, lol) as I get everything set up for the next two months—I'm planning on baking with all the summer fruits and making desserts like this tayberry pie.


What are tayberries? Tayberries are a cross between raspberries and blackberries; they look a little bit like raspberry-colored blackberries. They're a relatively recent cultivar, and, according to this Serious Eats article, were developed in the late 70s by the Scottish Horticultural Society and named after Scotland's River Tay. They're sweeter than traditional blackberries, and have a higher level of pectin, making them perfect for pie filling. One of my pet peeves are leaky pies, and pectin helps the fruit filling solidify without being too gummy. Not to mention leading to perfect slices, too. Enjoy!


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Some baker's notes:
  • Oregonians: I found my tayberries at my local New Seasons supermarket; I've also seen a bunch sold at the various farmers' markets around Portland. If you're not an Oregonian or Californian, it's likely that tayberries are harder to find. In a pinch, you can substitute the tayberries for blackberries. You may want to add 1/4 cup more sugar, as tayberries are significant sweeter than blackberries. If not, you might find your pie a little on the tart side (which, no worries—just serve it with ice cream). 

  • To make the pie pattern, I used a mix of cookie cutter sets: big stars from this Wilton set, and little stars from this fondant cutting set. You can use whatever shapes you have on hand to make other patterns and designs too! 
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Today's recipe comes from Happiness is Baking, a new cookbook from famed dessert queen and cookbook author, Maida Heatter. It saddens me to say that Maida passed away at the start of the month after releasing Happiness is Baking (at age 102!!!). She had an illustrious career as a restauranteur, cookbook author, and food writer (she published some of the New York Times' most popular recipes, including the most requested recipe in 1972, a triple layer chocolate torte). Her death was commemorated by many notable publications like Bon Appetit, Epicurious, Food & Wine, The Washington Post, and The New York Times itself.


Her final book is a delight and a breath of fresh air. Because in many ways, Happiness is Baking almost feels like a throwback to an earlier era, before the internet really had any influence in the way we eat and make food now. Like how the book skips the use of photos, instead providing retro watercolor illustrations of cakes, cookies, and bar recipes. And despite the growing trend of extreme precision in recipe writingHappiness is Baking skips the weight measurements in favor of volume ones like a "sifted cup of flour" (see more in the baker's notes). In many ways, baking from her book reminded me of the times in which I've been in the kitchen with my mom and grandma, where they determine the quantities and processes of their cooking and baking by look, taste, and feel. Despite the lack of precision, it always came out delicious. And some of the best food I’ve had–like my lola’s leche flan, or more recently, the Yemenite kubaneh we were taught to make by an elderly lady in Ein Karem–weren’t made with any recipes at all.


Which brings me to this recipe from her new book. In the headnotes, Maida writes that she loves this cake because it comes out looking different every time. Chocolate cake batter is scooped on top of vanilla batter, creating a dramatic swirl of both in each slice. Although it looks complicated to make, Maida makes it quite easy: she flavors half the vanilla batter with Hershey’s syrup to make that picturesque (and apparently unpredictable) chocolate swirl. As a special treat, I’m giving away a copy of her book and the fancy Nordicware bundt pan on Instagram–be sure to check it out!


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cake pan || knife || small plates

Some baker's notes:
  • The original recipe instructs you to bake the cake in a 10 x 4-inch tube pan; I cut the original recipe's quantities in half so I could bake it in my Nordicware Brilliance pan (which holds much less volume than a 10-inch tube pan). When using a bundt pan, especially one with an elaborate design like the one in the photos, be sure to use a generous amount of cooking spray to cover every nook and cranny of the pan (including the middle tube) with oil. After spraying with oil, sift 1 to 2 tablespoons over the oil, then spray again. It seems excessive, but this is how you get the cake out of the pan without breaking it, I promise! Maida's original recipe gets around this by instructing you to dust the pan with breadcrumbs. But because I only had Japanese breadcrumbs on hand (whattup, panko), I stuck to my method above and it worked perfectly.

  • For this recipe, you'll need a 1/8-teaspoon measure. Most measuring spoon sets don't actually come with a 1/8-teaspoon—you can order one online.

  • Alright, let's talk about the "sifted cup of flour" situation. Most of the recipes in her book call for sifted flour, which means that you sift the bag of flour and THEN measure out the quantity needed for the recipe. Doing so results in a lighter and fluffier product, because you end up using less flour—to wit, my sifted cup of flour ended up weighing around 4 ounces, whereas my unsifted cup of flour weighs around 4.5 ounces. To save you the stress of sifting your flour, I've included weight measurements with the recipe below—using them means you won't need to sift your flour in the first place! 
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So I didn't realize that it was my birthday this weekend (TODAY!) up until literally two days ago. In my head, I thought that we were still at the end of winter/early spring (and NOT the middle of June, ahhhh). A big part of that disorientation comes from working on my book. This past year was especially rough; I've basically been in a constant sprint of meeting editing deadlines since the start of the year. Which seems appropriate, because literally two years ago on this date, my book went to auction (on my 30th birthday too, eeeep—do not recommend having a book auction on your birthday, lol).


And here's something I haven't told you guys about: the results of my book auction were disappointing. So disappointing that, up until the minute I held my breath and decided to reluctantly sign the contract with my publisher, I was convinced I wasn't going to do the book at all. My expectations for my advance were inflated, but maybe not unjustifiable so. At the time, I knew that the book was going to be a lot of work (and even then, I'd grossly underestimated how much work it really, truly ended up being), that 15% of that money was automatically going to my literary agent with the rest to be stretched out over the years it takes to actually write a book. I deserved to have my work and time fairly compensated. I was also still working my tech job at the time, and the way I saw it then, it was a choice between keeping that or writing the book—I knew back then that I couldn't do both at the same time (and oh boy, was I right about that), in addition to blogging too. Did I really want to leave my cushy six-figure-salaried and very stable job for something so unknown?


In the end, I still don't know what compelled me to say yes to the book deal. I wish that I could say that, in the two years that have passed since then, it was obvious that it was the right decision. But that'd be a lie. The book took a massive toll on my health, both physically (I gained 20lbs on my 5"3 frame while developing the recipes, then went on several crazy diets to lose that weight) and mentally. If that's something you're interested in, I can talk more about the pros and cons of writing a book in the upcoming months. Because I'm going to stop myself here, before this birthday post turns out to be even more depressing, lol.


I will say though, that writing a book taught me many things in the kitchen and ultimately made me a better baker. To develop recipes for Weeknight Baking, I would spend days trying different recipes for the same thing, as well as remaking the same ones over and over. One of those recipes was for classic yellow cake, one of my favorite desserts to eat. I thought I'd seen all the different ways to make yellow cake, but this recipe from King Arthur Flour (which they dubbed their recipe of the year) surprised me. The recipe uses hot milk, which gives the cake a unique flavor and is an old-fashioned way of making the cakes more fine-grained and rise higher than it otherwise would. Topped with a creamy, classic chocolate frosting, it was the perfect birthday treat.


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Some baker's notes:
  • Warning: each cake layer bakes up REALLY tall! Be sure to use a cake pan with sides that are at least 3 inches tall, or you'll end up with some batter spilling to the bottom of your oven. In a pinch, use the original recipe's quantities and bake in three 8-inch pans. I tried baking the original recipe in two 8-inch pans, like it instructs, and found that it *STILL* made too much batter—three 8-inch pans really is the way to go. If you go this route, I suggest checking for doneness at around the 30 minute mark.
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Hi friends! I'm sorry for my brief absence, on both this blog and Instagram. Two weeks ago, I embarked on a pastry tour of Israel with some of my favorite baking bloggers (more on that soon!), then got back home and hit the ground running with a major deadline for #weeknightbakingbook. I'm on the home stretch, as the manuscript is being sent to the printers on June 27th. Just between you and me, I can't wait to get it out of my life so I can get back to what matters the most—baking. There's been too much sitting around in front of a computer, editing!


In any case, I'll keep this short and sweet. At the start of the month, the incredibly talented and wonderful Sarah from Broma Bakery worked with Vibe Israel to organize a pastry tour of Israel for baking bloggers like myself to learn about Israel and its cuisine. If I'm being honest with you guys, prior to the trip, I didn't really know too much about Israel and wasn't particularly inclined to visit—I had a list of nonsense excuses in my head (like it was too far, too hot, too controversial, etc, etc). Part of the reason why I accepted the trip was to learn more about that part of the world, and to push myself out of my comfort zone. I'm really glad I did because it was incredibly eye-opening. We were able to meet a ton of locals, from renowned bakers and pastry chefs to humble home cooks, who welcomed us into their homes and taught us how to make challah, Iraqi kubeh, Yemenite kubaneh, and more. I'll hopefully have a more in-depth post for you guys soon—I'm just trying to decide what to make first!


As always, as I'm wont to do whenever I travel abroad, I came back home with a suitcase full of ingredients to bake with. This time around, my bag was filled with jars of tahini and spices like Israeli za'atar, sumac, and even Persian black limes. And of course, boxes and boxes of halva.

If you guys don't know what halva is, you're in for a treat. Halva is a Middle Eastern candy, made from tahini and sugar. It sort of has the texture of meringue, but is much denser and definitely with more chew. It's also not quite as sweet, and tastes primarily of sesame (its main ingredient). Although you can get halva here in the United States, it mostly comes stale and pre-packaged in small boxes (with the exception of Seed + Mill—see the baker's notes). In Israel, most of the halva sold was made in the same day and for sale in open-air markets, in giant concrete-type blocks that could pass for soap. Vendors would slice chunks off the blocks and package them in wax paper for you. The halva there also comes in a ton of varieties, with nuts and seeds often mixed in to give the halva more flavor.


Like this black sesame halva! On our last day in Tel Aviv, Edd and I split off from the group to explore Levinsky Market in Tel Aviv. Levinsky Market is known for having a variety of spice shops, small grocers', and more. It was there that I found this black sesame halva. Although it looked pretty unappealing (seriously, it looked like a lump of charcoal or something), I ended up buying the entire block (mostly because the Russian lady selling it to me didn't speak a word of English, but also because I love the toasted flavor of black sesame).

Which leads me to these cookies! Ever since seeing Claudia's halva cookie post from yesteryear, I've been wanting to try incorporating chunks of halva into some of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes. But because I really wanted the black sesame halva to pop, I decided to stick it on a pale snickerdoodle cookie, where its unique color would really stand out. To add to the black sesame flavor, I rolled each dough in a mix of black sesame sugar (more on that in the bakers notes) and plain ol' black sesame seeds (which was what most of you wanted me to do on Instagram Stories all along, lol) in the style of traditional snickerdoodles. Enjoy!


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Some baker's notes:
  • Alright, confession time: I'm not exactly sure where to buy black sesame halva in the United States. SORRY, I'm the worst, I know. I know that Seed + Mill occasionally has some (FYI—if you're in New York, I recommend checking out Seed + Mill in Chelsea Market; they sell halva in blocks by weight, similar to how its sold in Israel), but it's a seasonal thing and it doesn't seem to be available right now. In a pinch, you can make your own (ugh) or substitute with regular or chocolate halva (definitely available at Seed + Mill). OR skip the halva completely for plain old black sesame snickerdoodles. They'll still be good, especially if you go for the black sesame sugar route (see below)—I promise!

  • A few days ago, when I was developing the recipe for these cookies, I did an Instagram Story series where I baked the cookie dough balls plain, rolled them in black sesame seeds, and rolled them in black sesame sugar. I asked you guys to vote on which variety you liked best. Seeds won by a landslide, every time. I was actually quite disappointed by the results; I wanted black sesame sugar to win! Black sesame sugar, which you've seen on my blog before in the form of cookies and cinnamon rolls, is made by toasting black sesame seeds and then pulsing them with granulated sugar to create a sugar infused with toasted black sesame seeds. It's wonderful and delicious, and I highly recommend making some for these cookies, especially if you can't find black sesame halva (if not, your cookies might not taste black sesame-y enough!). The recipe below includes both varieties—the snickerdoodles rolled in plain seeds, and rolled in the black sesame sugar.
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This post is sponsored by the National Peanut Board. I received compensation, but all opinions and content are my own. Thank you for supporting Hummingbird High and the companies that help me keep the lights on!


It’s spring cleaning time in #casahummingbirdhigh and we’ve been cleaning and tidying every nook and cranny of the house for the last few weekends. The basement has been especially challenging; we’re both guilty of just throwing whatever junk and random items down there. One day, I finally took the time to go through the mountain of boxes. I immediately stumbled upon a box of old Halloween costumes, including an old banana suit that I recycled every Halloween between the years 2011 to 2015, lol.

The banana suit unearthed a ton of memories—while most of them were related to Halloween shenanigans, it also re-surfaced this ancient meme (maybe even one of the internet’s first memes ever, no?) of a dancing banana yelling “It’s peanut butter jelly time!” on repeat. For the rest of the day, “It’s peanut butter jelly time!” looped in my head, inspiring me to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my spring cleaning snack and eventually turn the classic combo into a layer cake:


To be honest with you, it’s always peanut butter and jelly time in my house. Or maybe just peanut butter. Erlend and I can’t get enough of the stuff. He eats a variation of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich everyday for breakfast, and I always inhale a banana with generous heaps of the stuff or spike my smoothies with it after every workout (it’s the best post workout snack; you get 8 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber with every tablespoon). No joke—we go through one of those economy sized jars almost once a week. It was only inevitable that I started baking with the stuff too. Peanut butter is like, a magic ingredient in baked goods. It has so much flavor, and it keeps recipes so moist and flavorful for several days.

Like this cake! This is a peanut butter cake, inspired by my friend Molly and her peanut butter cake recipe from her book. Because of the peanut butter, it’s so flavorful, soft, and moist. The best part? It’s a one bowl recipe! You literally put all the dry ingredients in a bowl, mix them together, then mix in the wet ingredients. Simple as that.


My version (which will also be in my upcoming cookbook, Weeknight Baking) uses brown sugar for extra flavor and is three layers, all covered in the creamiest Swiss meringue buttercream frosting. As an homage to the classic combo, I spiked the Swiss meringue buttercream with my favorite strawberry jelly (but you can use any flavor you like—see more in the baker’s notes!). It’s peanut butter and jelly, but in layer cake format. Because yes, it is peanut butter jelly time.


Are you a peanut butter (and jelly) fan? If so, let me know your favorite peanut butter recipe in the comments with the hashtag #HowDoYouPB below—I’m always looking for new peanut butter recipes to try out! You can also head here for even more peanut butter recipes for any occasion.


Some baker’s notes:
  • For this recipe, you can use any brand of peanut butter you want—just be sure it doesn’t have any added sugar in it because the cake itself is already going to be pretty sweet. But you can definitely use either creamy OR crunchy peanut butter. Creamy peanut butter will result in a soft and tender cake crumb, while crunchy peanut butter will result in a crumb more similar to a carrot cake or banana bread recipe with nuts in it.

  • I mentioned before that you can use any kind of jam or jelly you want, too. The frosting is infinitely customizable; simply make the Swiss meringue buttercream, then mix in your favorite jam or jelly after to flavor it. I especially love the combo of strawberry and blackberry jam with the peanut butter.

  • When making the frosting, make sure the butter is completely at room temperature (ideally at 70 degrees). Swiss meringue buttercream has a tendency to curdle or separate if the butter is too cold. If you find that the buttercream has curdled once all the butter has been added, scoop out ¼ cup (no need to be precise—you can just eyeball it!), microwave it until melted but not hot, then pour it into the buttercream and beat on medium for 2 to 3 minutes. The buttercream should turn silky and creamy.
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I made these cookies a few weeks ago, right when spring had officially sprung in Portland and the city was finally bursting with sunshine and fresh flowers. But since then, the weather has turned gray and rainy (everyday, yikes), which makes the "spring celebration" vibe I'd planned for this post a little debatable. Oh well. They're still pretty cute, right?


These cookies are inspired by Craftsman and Wolves' shortbread cookies, as seen in this beautiful spread by Bon Appetit magazine. Craftsman and Wolves is a fancy patisserie in San Francisco known for that cornbread muffin with the runny sunny side egg inside (it's so famous that it even has its own name—The Rebel Within). I used to live a stone's throw away from their location on Valencia Street and, whenever folks were in town, I'd always insist on meeting them there so that we could split The Rebel Within and one of their $12 pastries.


Although I never saw the flower shortbread cookies on sale, I think about them every time I see cakes decorated with flowers. Most flowers on cakes are inedible and need to be plucked off before eating; I really appreciated that Craftsman and Wolves used edible flowers for their cookies. For these cookies, I used a mix of cornflowers, calendula flowers, and radish flowers, as well as rose and lilac petals. Although my cookies look as fancy as theirs, they're actually a touch more simple—I've eschewed the shortbread dough for my favorite sugar cookie recipe, and flavored the entire thing with rose water. Enjoy!


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Some baker's notes:

  • Although Craftsman and Woves uses dried flowers for their cookies, I used a mix of both dried (cornflowers and rose petals) and fresh flowers (everything else) for mine. Dried flower petals are available at herb and spice stores—Kalustyan's has a great selection online (but it helps to know what you're looking for since their browsing experience isn't the best). I sourced the fresh flowers from our garden and the Portland Farmers' Market.

  • For this recipe, be sure to use rose water and NOT rose extract. Rose extract is much more concentrated, and will be too intense and floral in this recipe. In a pinch, you can use rose extract, but I suggest halving the recipe quantities if you do. Rose water is available in Middle Eastern grocery stores and specialty food markets.

  • To stamp out the cookies, I used cutters from this fluted circle set—I used a 3-inch cutter for the big circles and a 3/4-inch cutter for the small circles.
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