Monday, November 16, 2015

No Apologies - Purely Nuts Cream Cheese Brownie Cookies and Mocha Sanity Cream Cheese Brownie Cookies

During the last day or so, I have been called to task by two people regarding my Facebook post "Tell me again that Islam is the religion of peace." That's two out of 315 Facebook friends, and there were eleven "likes", but I do feel I should respond, in a calm and reasoned manner, and explain why I feel so strongly about this. Both of my friends have essentially stated that it is "insane" to make generalizations based on the actions of crazy zealots. 

I could explain my feelings in a four word sentence and call it a day, but I am a lawyer and lawyers like to talk. And that sentence is, "I am a Jew." 

Attend me, please.  The State of Israel was born on May 14, 1948; I was born on December 26, 1952, which makes us practically the same age.  I cannot remember a time in my life that the followers of Islam have not sought to destroy Israel and the Jews. Visualize if you will tiny Israel surrounded by Muslim countries, all of them hostile to Israel's existence. Imagine the kind of terrorist acts we have  seen in Paris, Madrid, and London, occurring if not every day, then certainly every week in Israel. Those are not Christians or Hindus or atheists blowing themselves up on Tel Aviv buses, or crashing - literally - a bar mitzvah, killing friends and family gathered to celebrate a young Jewish boy's rite of religious passage. Nor are they giving their 12 year old children military grade weapons and training them to fire upon Israelis.

One other sentence: "I am a New Yorker." I was born there, raised there, worked there, and lived there for two-thirds of my life.  Even after 24 years in Florida, I am a New Yorker, and I will never forgive nor forget the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2011.  And yes, those were Palestinians dancing for joy, celebrating the attack on Western culture.  Not just crazy zealots but everyday people. I don't know about you, but 9/11 changed my life forever, and not in a good way.

So with all due respect to my two Facebook friends, I make no apologies for my statement and my beliefs. I will not allow political correctness to blind me to the fact that Islam is anything but the religion of peace.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

In my mind, I designated today as a cookie-baking day, so of course I started preparing the crab stuffed zucchini recipe I had been working on for days.  Once I mixed the crab stuffing, and piled it into the zucchini boats, I stuck it in the refrigerator before baking it off in the oven.  Then I switched gears and started working on some cookies, because in this crazy, mixed up world, cookies make everything seem a little better.

Purely Nuts Cream Cheese Brownie Cookies

These are my variation on Camilla Saulsbury's Cream Cheese Chocolate Softies.  I have been making  cream cheese cake mix cookies for over 40 years, using a recipe I found in a Betty Crocker cookbook.  My favorite version has always been a chocolate chocolate chip, and in fact they are on my list for this holiday season's baking.  But these cookies use a brownie mix, and less cream cheese, and it occurred to me that they would be the perfect base for an all-nut cookie, brownies and walnuts being BFFs and all that.

I love nuts; I love eating them, baking with them, cooking with them. Sadly, I really can't eat them anymore, as they are the one food absolutely guaranteed to get under my dentures and cause me immediate pain. It really sucks getting older.  So I avoid including them in my baked goods these days, which is probably a disappointment to all the nut-lovers I bake for. To them, I dedicate this cookie, which is totally nuts.  No dried fruit or chocolate chips or coconut to sully that special mouthful of soft cookie dough and crunchy nut. And because anything worth doing is worth overdoing, I included some of every nut in my considerable pantry: walnut, pecan, two types of almond, pistachio, peanut, filbert, Brazil nut, cashews, and even pine nuts.  I can't believe I don't have any macadamia nuts in the house!

1 - 18.4 oz. package chocolate fudge brownie mix
4 oz. (half of an 8 oz. bar) cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 extra large egg
1 cup nuts, any number or combination

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. This can be baked on ungreased cookie sheets but if you have silpat, use it.

In a large bowl mix together the cream cheese and the egg, using a wooden spoon to beat well so that the cream cheese breaks up.  Add the melted butter and beat that in as well. Add the brownie mix, and use the wooden spoon and a rubber spatula to thoroughly moisten the dry ingredients.  Finally, stir in the nuts, using the spatula to work them into the dough.

With a cookie scoop, place the dough on the cookie sheet, 12 cookies at a time.  Bake for 13-17 minutes until done. Do not overbake (the silpat helps to avoid this). Remove the cookie sheet to a wire rack and wait 5 minutes before removing the cookies to another wire rack to cool completely.

Mocha Sanity Cream Cheese Brownie Cookies

Substitute a package of mocha fudge brownie mix for the chocolate fudge, and a cup of baking chips for the nuts (Sanity Cookies - get it? - no nuts). I used a combination made up of milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch chips.

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