Everyone knows that the best gifts to give (and get!) are those that you make with your own two hands. Today’s recipes from Simply Scratch make the perfect, homemade gift idea for teachers, neighbors, and any other loved ones on your list. Plus, you can make a little extra to keep for yourself, too! 

SALTED PISTACHIO DARK CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

SALTED PISTACHIO DARK CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

I made these cookies the night before my friend Heidi and I went on a mini-road trip way across town to go vintage antique shopping. The morning of, I packed a container to take with us, and I’m so glad I did. Not only did these cookies make a great mid-morning snack to go with our coffees, but I was eager for her to try them because we both are lovers of all things dark chocolate. Her exact words were, “these are salty-sweet-cookie-heaven.” I think she’s 100 percent correct.

If heaven has a dessert table, I bet these would be on it.

Salted Pistachio Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Makes 3 dozen | Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients

2 ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 cup)  unsalted butter
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces dark chocolate (I use 60% cacao), chopped
¾ cup coarsely chopped pistachios
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt, or more to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars on medium-low speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl after each egg. Add the vanilla and blend until combined.
  4. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix until the flour is incorporated. Add the chopped dark chocolate and pistachios to the batter. Mix on low until combined, scraping the sides and the bottom of the bowl one last time.
  5. Use a 2-tablespoon scoop, scoop out the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing the scoops an inch or so apart. Sprinkle them with a small pinch of sea salt.
  6. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Let the cookies cool slightly, 2 to 3 minutes before using a spatula to transfer them onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

OLIVE OIL ZUCCHINI BREAD

OLIVE OIL ZUCCHINI BREAD

This zucchini bread recipe was one of the earliest recipes I shared on my blog. It’s now buried under hundreds of recipes, but it’s still one of my all-time favorites. It makes two loaves, so you can keep one and give away the other to a friend or neighbor. Or wrap the extra loaf in plastic wrap and heavy aluminum foil once it’s cooled and store it in the freezer for another day. This flavorful and moist zucchini bread is just begging to be toasted and buttered.

Olive Oil Zucchini Bread
Makes 2 loaves | Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup good-quality olive oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 generous cups grated zucchini

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter two 9 by 5-inch loaf pans and line them with parchment (or butter and flour them, omitting the parchment paper).
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the salt and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Add the grated zucchini. Pour the wet mixture into the bowl with the flour ingredients, stir until just incorporated, and divide the batter between the two prepared pans (about 21⁄2 cups per pan).
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs still attached.
  5. Let cool completely in the pans before removing and slicing.

Reprinted from Simply Scratch by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2015, Laurie McNamara

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