Monday, July 16, 2012

Cookies for Retreat: A Quick Visit to Dewachen!

Ontul Rinpoche
We had a wonderful time this weekend at our Buddhist center, the Amitabha Foundation in Rochester, NY. Ontul Rinpoche, a skillful teacher and inspiring yogi, was invited by our founder Ayang Rinpoche to teach  on several topics, including Bodhicitta (Loving Kindness and Compassion) and Lojong, a Tibetan mind-training tradition. Ontul Rinpoche brought his son, Ratna Rinpoche along. It was wonderful to see Ontul Rinpoche again and meet Ratna Rinpoche.

Buddha Amitabha, for whom our center is named, has a pure land called Dewachen, the land of great bliss. There all the conditions are perfect for enlightenment. We strive to give our retreatants an experience that mirrors that. So we do a lot of little things to that end, including serving yummy snacks!

I made some cookies for retreat, and they were very well received by everyone, including Ginger Cookies that I make all the time. You can find the recipe here.

Here are the other (much requested) recipes!

This first recipe is from the site Two Peas and Their Pod. The original recipe says it makes only 16 cookie bars. Believe me, if you ate one that big, you would probably go into a coma! This are rich rich rich! I cut them in to about 36 bares and that was plenty big! Also, the recipe says there is a 15 minute prep time. It took me at least that long to unwrap the darned carmels! I think the prep time was at least double that. But the cookies are worth it, I promise you.
You can find the original recipe here.

Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Cookie Bars

Yield: 16 cookie bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Chocolate chip cookie bars with a layer of salted caramel. These gooey sweet and salty cookie bars are pretty much perfection!


  • 2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 10 ounces caramel candy squares, unwrapped
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling over caramel and bars


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 2-quart baking pan (which is an 11 X 7 pan-I used a glass Pyrex dish) with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the melted butter and sugars together until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream. Microwave caramels on High until caramels are melted, stirring every 20 seconds. This will take about 2 minutes, depending on your microwave.
  5. Divide the cookie dough in half. Press half of the cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula. Pour hot caramel over the cookie dough. Sprinkle caramel with sea salt. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough over the caramel and spread dough with a spatula until the caramel is covered. Sprinkle the bars with additional sea salt.
  6. Bake cookie bars for 30 minutes or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Cool bars on a wire rack to room temperature. Cut bars into squares and serve.
This second recipe comes from Cooking Light and can be found here. I added pecans to the recipe. I think just about everything is better with nuts!

Chewy Chocolate-Cherry Cookies


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg 
  • 2/3 cup dried tart cherries
  • 3 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
  • Cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Place sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add vanilla and egg; beat well. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture. Beat just until combined. Fold in cherries and chocolate chips.
  3. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or just until set. Remove from oven; cool on pans 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.
I wanted another non-chocolate cookie to offer our guests, and as I said earlier, I love all things nutty. So I decide a  peanut butter style cookie made with almond butter would be just the thing. It was harder than you can imagine to find such a recipe. But I did finally find this one. Everyone raved about these cookies. I didn't put the almonds on top, only because I forgot.

You can find the original recipe here.

Eastern European Almond Butter Cookie Recipes


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter
  • 3/4 cup cold almond butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. 
  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together butter, almond butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined. 
  3. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing well after each addition. If dough is too soft, refrigerate for up to 3 hours. Otherwise, using a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop, portion out dough on ungreased cookie sheets, spacing at least 1 inch apart. Using the bottom of a floured glass or a glass dipped in sugar, flatten each cookie mound slightly. Top with a few slivered almonds, if desired. 
  4. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden on top and bottom. Do not overbake. Cool on pan 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store tightly covered.

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