402 Thank Yous & Glazed Mocha Cookies

February 2 048 Edited 402 Thank Yous & Glazed Mocha Cookies

Long ago, I got it into my head that I needed to read a few blogs from the first post on to see how they got their start. Long ago was really not all that long ago, but rather in September 2011 when I was three months into blogging. I have no idea what triggered this compulsion, but I suspect two things came into play. The first is I learn by taking what I see elsewhere and then applying it to my own life. The second is sometimes I am just nuts.

I remember sitting on the couch on a rainy Labor Day weekend and seeing a blog I enjoyed had 4oo Facebook likes. I thought to myself, “I will never be able to get 400 Facebook likes.” But lo and behold, Love & Flour has reached 400. 402 to be exact. To mark this milestone, I have little to offer but a cookie recipe and a heartfelt “thank you”  said 402 times.

I realize 400 likes are not all that much, especially when most popular blogs have likes that number well into the tens of thousands. But as someone who does not make a whole lot of effort at promotion other than to show up in this space every now and again with what I hope is a trifecta of recipes, photos and words, 402 means a lot. If you no longer like this space, that is okay. But for the love of all that is good and holy, please do not unlike my Facebook page for at least a day or two, less I suffer a fit of tears.

February 2 061 Edited 402 Thank Yous & Glazed Mocha Cookies

Now, on to those cookies. I can only imagine the lengths I go to in order to remove everything vegan from a recipe, even though I have tried to get on board with a plant-based diet, is comparable in its ridiculousness to statements like, “I’m a vegetarian except I eat chicken and fish and sometimes pork.” Sooo, you are not a vegetarian then, right? And a person (this would be me I’m talking about) who puts milk from cows and eggs from chickens in a once-vegan recipe is failing miserably at eating a plant-based diet.

The good news is these babies rock. I thought they would be similar to brownie cookies, but the taste actually reminded me of Little Debbie Fudge Rounds. It is worth noting I used Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder, so cookies made with regular cocoa powder will appear lighter than the ones seen here. I also suspect the rich dark chocolate overpowered some of the coffee flavor, but the glaze made up for it. If coffee is not your thing but chocolate is, I suggest omitting the coffee extract from the cookies and glaze (add vanilla in its place, perhaps) and carrying on with baking.

Ironically, as I type this, it is another rainy day where I live. Yet the difference from that rainy day I experienced long ago and this one is, where I was once intimidated by trying out this blogging thing, today I am even more excited about  it. And for that, I thank you.

February 2 046 Edited 402 Thank Yous & Glazed Mocha Cookies

Glazed Mocha Cookies
Serves: 24
  • For the Cookies
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2½ teaspoons coffee extract
  • For the Coffee Glaze
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon coffee extract
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, oil, milk, egg and cornstarch until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  3. Stir in the vanilla and coffee extracts.
  4. Sift in the dry ingredients and continue to stir until fully incorporated.
  5. Allow the batter to sit for a few minutes to thicken, then drop by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes until they appear done in the centers and puffy throughout.
  7. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. While the cookies cool, make the glaze by sifting the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl (taking the time to sift will remove unsightly lumps from the confectioners’ sugar).
  9. Stir in the milk and flavor extracts until smooth.
  10. Drizzle the glaze over the room temperature cookies and allow to set before serving.
To return this recipe to its original vegan state, simply omit the egg and substitute 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds. The original recipe suggested using almond milk, though soy would work fine too.


Challenged Finale! Coffee Turtle Cheesecake

Turtle Cheesecake 011 Edited Challenged Finale! Coffee Turtle Cheesecake

The final round of the five Willow Bird Baking challenges required contestants make a cheesecake. Since Julie is the queen of cheesecakes – featuring selections like Red Velvet and Sticky Toffee Pudding cheesecakes on her blog – I should have seen this coming. I, on the other, am lukewarm at best about the dessert. Then she threw in the requirement to bake something representative of our personal culinary journey. What is that exactly, and how do I get one?

I have said many a time that I am not a “foodie”. Words like “scrumptious” or “delectable” simply do not fill my brain when I am called upon to describe food. Though I look forward to a meal at a really good restaurant, I also enjoy eating pizza from the grocery’s freezer aisle. What the heck and I doing writing a “food” blog?

I am still looking for the answer to that one too. Maybe it was because I was bored to tears with work. Perhaps I just needed a creative outlet. Some people thrive off creating drama in their lives. It very well could be that I like inflicting pain upon myself in the form of continually failing at recipes.

Though I have no formal training and in anything I do here – cooking, writing or photography – people visit from time to time. I can’t say why I started this blog, but I can safely say I keep it up because I value the community, connections, and new friendships it has brought to my life. So thank you for keeping me going.

Turtle Cheesecake 024 Edited Challenged Finale! Coffee Turtle Cheesecake

I chose to craft a turtle cheesecake simply because a good family friend makes these bad boys, and they are to die for. And that’s coming from someone who is not a big fan of cheesecake! It is also worth noting that aside from watching my grandmothers and mother cook, the first thought of a culinary journey outside of my family extend to her.

As a teenager, I remember spending an evening where she tried to teach a few of us to cook. I fear we probably spent more time playing with the dog and just generally messing around. She was also the first person I ever saw use dental floss (not mint flavor!) to cut pieces of cake. This trick also works well for cinnamon-type rolls (see Challenge 1), though I inconveniently forgot about that until well after I made mine.

Why the coffee? Because I never made a coffee cheesecake before and that sounded good. As I was making the filling, complete with a layer of chocolate ganache as suggested, I remembered coffee is certainly indicative of my earliest tastes. As a young child, I used to make a point of drinking a half cup when I visited my grandma, despite warnings it would stunt my growth and perhaps put hair on my chest. Maybe I was just trying to act grown up, but I loved the flavor of the hard coffee candies she had sitting out as well.

The only things I recall loving as much as those coffee candies, were red hot cinnamon disks, tiny Chicklets and those big, red NutraSweet gumballs that used to come in the mail. Hmm, what about gumball cheesecake? Ideas like that are precisely why I should probably not be writing a food blog. Yet since I do, enjoy!

Turtle Cheesecake 016 Edited Challenged Finale! Coffee Turtle Cheesecake

Coffee Turtle Cheesecake Finale
  • For the Crust
  • 2 heaping cups graham cracker crumbs (about two sleeves worth)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • For the Ganache
  • ¾ cups heavy cream
  • 10 ounces chocolate chips
  • For the Cheesecake Filling
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons light molasses
  • 3, 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • Aluminum foil, for baking
  • For the Topping (measurments approximate)
  • 1-2 tablespoons pecans
  • 1-2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
  • caramel sauce, enough to drizzle
  1. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl.
  2. Mix thoroughly to moisten all of the crumbs.
  3. Press the mixture into a thin layer covering the bottom and sides (about 2.5 to 3 inches high) of a lightly greased springform cheesecake pan. Use a flat-sided glass to get the crust even and thin.
  4. Bake the crust in a 350 degree F oven for about 6 minutes, then allow to cool while preparing the ganache.
  5. Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
  6. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.
  7. Once the cream reaches a simmer, pour it over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes.
  8. Whisk in small circles until a smooth ganache has formed.
  9. Pour 1½ to 2 cups of the ganache over the bottom of the crust (leftovers are good for eating or decorating).
  10. Place the ganache-laden crust in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, prepare the cheesecake filling.
  12. In a small bowl, combine the coffee granules, vanilla extract and molasses.
  13. Allow to sit until dissolved, stirring as needed.
  14. Beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until well blended.
  15. Next add the flour and dissolved coffee flavor and mix until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  16. Beat in the eggs one at a time until very well combined throughout the mixture.
  17. Pour the filling into the crust.
  18. Line the bottom outside edges of the pan with aluminum foil, then place the entire springform pan in a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  19. Fill the baking dish with about two inches of water. Make sure water does not get into the cheesecake mixture. It should also not top the edges of the foil lining the springform pan.
  20. Return the cheesecake dish to the oven and bake until the top is lightly browned, puffed and cracked at the edges, about 40-50 minutes. The center should move only very slightly when the pan is gently shaken.
  21. Remove the cheesecake and allow to cool.
  22. Before serving, sprinkle the top with pecans and mini chocolate chips.
  23. Complete with a drizzle of caramel sauce over the top.
One bag of mini chocolate chips should provide enough for the ganache and the topping.


Coffee, Donuts & Cookies

IMG 5086 Edited Coffee, Donuts & Cookies

I do not recall exactly when my love affair with donuts began. All I know is I love donuts in nearly every form. I love the fraternal twins of the donut world – the classic sugared and the traditional glazed. I love plump round donuts that hold delightful little bites of custard or jelly. I love oblong donuts filled with veins of pastry cream.

I love the beauties coated in frosting and their cousins adorned with sprinkles. I love the heart-shaped ones that show up around valentine’s day. I love the red, white and blue sprinkled ones at 4th of July as much as I love the orange and black sprinkled ones at Halloween. I love them all. Well, except for the plain ones. I’m with this girl when it comes to plain donuts.

IMG 5084 Edited Coffee, Donuts & Cookies

There was once a box of donuts in the office, and I overheard someone remark, “LeAndra will want the sprinkled one.” What? How could my co-workers see past my “I’m sick of ego-driven nonsense, let’s just get this sh!t done”  attitude and into my fun, loving, sprinkle-adoring soul? I guess donuts bring out the best in us all.

And about donuts in the office, I think this pretty much sums it up: “Mr. Scorpio says productivity is up two percent, and it’s all because of my motivational techniques, like donuts and the possibility of more donuts to come.”  –Homer Simpson

Despite my love for them, I eat a donut maybe once or twice a month. I am rapidly aging, and my metabolism simply can not keep up with a donut-based diet.  Unlike donuts, I begin most every morning with a cup of coffee.  So when I came across a cookie recipe that combined the two, I was sold.

IMG 5097 Edited e1347237312449 Coffee, Donuts & Cookies

The recipe was a bit vague, as well as a bit large with an original yield of 100 cookies! It did not clarify if cake donuts or fried donuts would make a better cookie. I opted for fried because, like plain donuts, I do not like cake donuts all that much. As for the yield, I halved the ingredients with the exception of the eggs and the vanilla.

I was not sure how to best halve an egg, so I used two instead of the three called for in the original. In regards to the vanilla, I once read doubling the vanilla in a recipe often improves its taste. I cannot vouch for the scientific accuracy behind that idea, but I like vanilla so I rarely halve it when messing around with measurements.

The recipe calls for espresso powder for the coffee flavor. I happen to be partial to Savory Spice Shop’s Baker’s Brew Coffee Spice. It combines coffee with cocoa, cinnamon,  nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, mace and ginger. I am beginning to love that spice mixture as much as I love donuts.

IMG 5093 Edited Coffee, Donuts & Cookies

As I draw this segment to a close, I think it is important to note I am not alone in my love for donuts. June 1 is National Donut Day. We spell their name not one, but two, ways: do you like donuts or doughnuts? In fact, we think they are so special that we keep them behind glass cases. You know what else we keep behind glass cases? Diamonds! And the delicious flavor of donuts can be enjoyed in both vodka and beer (though preferably not at the same time).

In the event you are adamantly opposed to eating donuts for health reasons, take into account the advice of Lewis Black: “If you stop eating donuts, you will live three years longer. It’s just 3 more years that you want a donut.” If you are still opposed, you can paint donut sprinkles on your nails for what it likely the only healthy donut fix.

I thought few things could go together as well as coffee and donuts. Then I baked them in a cookie. Enjoy!

IMG 5074 Edited Coffee, Donuts & Cookies

Coffee Donut Cookies
Recipe type: Dessert (or breakfast)
Serves: 24
  • For the Cookies
  • 2¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ sticks butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso power or coffee spice
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2½ tablespoons corn syrup
  • 6 ounces donuts or donut holes, cut into small pieces
  • For the Glaze
  • 1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup strongly brewed coffee
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
  2. Cream together the butter, the sugars and the espresso powder or coffee spice until light and fluffy.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat together the eggs and the vanilla extract. Slowly add this mixture to the creamed butter and sugar mixture.
  4. Add the corn syrup to the mixing bowl.
  5. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  6. Use a large spoon or spatula to gently fold in the pieces of donut.
  7. Place the cookies by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned.
  9. When cool, glaze with a mixture of confectioners’ sugar and strongly brewed coffee. Sift the confectioners’ sugar in a bowl to remove lumps, then stir in the coffee. Pour a spoonful of glaze over each cookie.
I do not have a kitchen scale, so I used 3 glazed donuts as approximate six ounces of donuts/donut holes.