Monday, December 30, 2013

2013: Year in Review

I thought it would be fun to do a brief Year in Review of What's Baking in the Barbershop?! for 2013. Many other blogs I follow have done this, and I always enjoy reading their year-end recaps. Sometimes bloggers share their most popular posts with readers, their own personal favorites, and various highlights from their own personal lives. I thought I'd follow suit and share a few in each of these categories!

First, a brief recap of the posts that were most popular with my readers this past year...

The post for these cookies ended up surpassing my chocolate chip graham cracker blondies as my most viewed post of all time!

My own personal favorite recipes that I posted in 2013?

Well, a few are the same as what my readers liked! I was a huuuuge fan (and still am) of the chocolate almonds date balls and the peanut butter oat granola bars. And my other favs... 

And a couple other highlights from my year...

Going on a most amazing honeymoon to France and Belgium this summer with my husband! If you missed some of the pictures I shared, you can check out this post.

Celebrating our one year wedding anniversary in November. :)

We celebrated with a wonderful meal at Ten Tables in Jamaica Plain.

And finally, we sold our condo! That was definitely a big highlight. Although we are sad to leave the city, we are ready for a house in the 'burbs with more space. We are still house hunting (the Boston market right now is ridiculously tough for buying!), and thankfully, we are lucky enough to be staying with my in-laws in the meantime while we house hunt... We're really hoping that 2014 is our year to find our new home! :)

I also wanted to share a big thank you to my readers who continue to read my blog; you are very much appreciated! The blog "audience"is what keeps me going. Although I may not post as frequently as I used to, I still really love trying new recipes and sharing them with you in this little space. Thank you for being there for me!

And I wish everyone - all of you - the best year yet in 2014. :)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chocolate Espresso Crinkle Cookies

The countdown is on! Fewer than 10 days until Christmas. Have you done your fair share of holiday baking already, or have you yet to start?! I have done some here and there, but I plan to do more. Thankfully, I've already made these awesome cookies with enough time to spare before Christmas to share them with you! If you're still looking for more Christmas cookie recipes to try, then stop looking. I've found one for you. ;) These chocolate espresso crinkle cookies are amazing.

The fabulous recipe is from Heather Christo.


-1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
-1 and 1/2 cups sugar
-2 eggs
-3 Tbsp. espresso, cooled
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-2 tsp. baking powder
-1 tsp. salt
-1 to 2 cups powdered sugar (for rolling)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with a silpat or parchment paper. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the espresso. Mix everything together until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt; add dry ingredients to the wet. Scoop dough by the tablespoonful, roll into balls, and then coat by rolling in powdered sugar. Place on cookie sheets, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies "crack" and are set. Let cool for a couple minutes before removing to cool completely on cooling rack. Store in airtight container. Makes about 30 cookies.

 I baked these the day after we got our first snowstorm of the season. It was a perfect way to spend a snowy afternoon!

We love these cookies. If you know someone who loves coffee and chocolate, definitely make these for them! They are soft, chewy, and full of flavor. And the espresso definitely kicks up the chocolateyness (yes, that's a word) a notch.

Also, a few notes about the recipe and method... I did use espresso, although my guess is you could try making these with regular coffee - just brew it strong! Also, I refrigerated my dough, only for 10 - 15 minutes or so, before rolling it into balls. It made it slightly easier to work with. That being said, it wasn't a very difficult dough to work with in the first place! So chilling is definitely not necessary (the original recipe does not instruct to chill the dough). And finally, I only needed about 1 cup of powdered sugar for rolling although the original recipe calls for 2 cups. So, I recommend starting out with just 1 cup so you don't "dirty" more powdered sugar than you have to. And finally, my cookies took closer to 11 or 12 minutes to bake, instead of 8 to 10 - so just keep an eye on yours. As we all know, baking times will vary with each oven!

Santa was eyeing these cookies... I think he'd like some left out for him on Christmas Eve. ;)

These are a perfect Christmas cookie, in my opinion! I hope you get the chance to make them this season. :)

Btw, apparently I'm into sharing recipes lately that involve rolling things in powdered sugar! In case you missed it, these rum balls I recently posted about would also make an excellent Christmas treat this season.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rum Balls (No Bake)

Rum balls = holiday time. Wouldn't you agree? :)

Last year I made some deeelicious Bailey's balls, and boy, were they good! I think I made them three different times for various holiday-themed occasions, and they were a big hit every time. For the first holiday party that we attended this past weekend, I wanted to bring the Bailey's balls...but the blogger in me also wanted to try something new! I know all you other bloggers know what I mean... So, I made some Bailey's balls and I tried a new recipe for rum balls. Thankfully, they turned out quite well also!

And these rum balls couldn't be any easier, just like the Bailey's balls. They come together in 15 minutes flat. Perfect for when you're rushing around at the last minute, getting ready for that holiday party this coming weekend but don't yet have a treat to bring. ;)

The recipe is adapted from this recipe from Taste of Home.


-2 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or vanilla wafer crumbs)
-1 cup ground pecans (or walnuts)
-1 cup confectioners' sugar
-2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
-1/4 cup rum
-3 Tbsp. honey (or maple syrup)
-2 Tbsp. water
-additional graham cracker crumbs, ground pecans, or confectioners' sugar


In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, ground pecans, confectioners' sugar, and cocoa. In a small bowl, combine the rum, honey (or maple syrup), and water. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well incorporated. Shape into 1-inch balls. Roll into the additional graham cracker crumbs, pecans, or confectioners' sugar to "garnish." Store in airtight container in fridge for a couple weeks. Makes about 2 dozen balls.

A few points to note...

The original recipe actually called for crumbs of vanilla wafers, not graham crackers. But graham crackers are what I had on hand, so that's what I used. I'm sure vanilla wafers would work just as well. Also, I used a combination of ground pecans and walnuts, as I didn't have enough pecans on hand. Again, this worked just fine! I love recipes like this where it's easy to improvise. And finally, the original recipe called for honey, but I tried maple syrup instead. Easy and delicious! So, keep in mind when you make these that you have some options. ;) For the rum, I used Captain Morgan's, as you can see in the photos.

You can definitely taste the rum in these! It wasn't too much though. It was juuuust right. They're just slightly chocolatey and sweet, and then that rum flavor comes through as well. And they're fun to eat besides! I also think the flavor of these is even more enhanced a day or two after you make them. So, if you have the time to make them ahead, definitely do that!

In need of other ideas of sweet treats to make this holiday season? Maybe to give to friends or coworkers? Or to bring as a host/hostess gift to a holiday party? Then check out these other recipes that have previously been on the blog. They're all fairly simple - perfect for this time of year when you might not have much extra time to spend in the kitchen!

Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Caramels

Cinnamon Sugar Almonds

Hershey Kiss Pretzel Bites

Easy Peanut Butter Fudge

Chocolate Graham Toffee Treats

Cranberry White Chocolate Cinnamon Chip Bars

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cranberry, Oatmeal, Cinnamon Chip Cookies

The holiday season is here! Hard to believe, but it's true. And with the holiday season comes cookies. Of course. :)

Whether it's for a family gathering, a work party, or a cookie swap with friends, this time of year there always seems to be a reason to eat cookies.

And to me, any reason to eat a cookie is a good reason. ;)

These cranberry, oatmeal, cinnamon chip cookies are just a simple variation on another couple cookie recipes I've shared on the blog before. This recipe involves the same base cookie dough recipe as my pecan, cranberry, cinnamon chip cookies and these oatmeal, butterscotch, chocolate chip cookies. The main thing I changed this time around was just the add-ins. It's almost too simple to share on the blog, but we enjoyed this ingredient combination so much that I decided it was blog worthy!


-6 oz. (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
-1 cup packed light brown sugar
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 eggs
-2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1 cup white whole wheat flour
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-1 tsp. cinnamon
-3/4 to 1 cup regular oats
-3/4 cup dried cranberries
-3/4 cup cinnamon chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter, and let cool slightly. Combine the two sugars in a large mixing bowl with a whisk, and once the butter is cooled slightly, whisk in the butter with the sugars. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined. Stir in the oats, cranberries, and cinnamon chips.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper, and drop cookie dough by the tablespoonful on baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until outside edges of cookies are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple minutes before removing to cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cooled, store cookies in an airtight container. Makes approximately 2 dozen cookies.

What I love about these cookies (and the other cookies made with the same base dough recipe) is 1) how simple they are (you don't even need a mixer), 2) how full of flavor they are, and 3) how soft and chewy they are. There is just a very, very slight crisp to the outside edges of these cookies, but the overall texture of these is definitely chewy. It's my favorite kind of cookie!

I think these would make a great addition to your holiday cookie swap or dessert table over the holidays. The cranberries and cinnamon are such perfect flavors for this time of year.

Happy December! I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, and delicious food. Thanksgiving is my favorite for those reasons. :)