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Monday, March 29th, 2021

Recipe: confetti cookies

Please tell me you are okay.

We are safe, but… I don’t feel okay.

So flowed texts and messages last Monday evening with friends and family checking on us, and for us checking on our people in Boulder after the mass shooting that afternoon. This, right on the heels of another mass shooting in Atlanta that included 6 Asian women in the death count. It’s been a lot to process as a Chinese-American woman living in Boulder County. Actually, it’s a lot to process if you are capable of empathy.


behind a snow bank on the side of a building in frisco, colorado


My fully vaccinated parents are starting to visit with their fully vaccinated friends in small numbers and I think it has really lifted their spirits. I know this because random urgent cooking question texts from my parents have begun popping up on my phone. In contrast, Jeremy and I continue to isolate, mostly because of the pandemic and partly because the absence of a social life is far less stressful for us. As many ski resorts and Nordic centers begin to wind down their seasons, we are hopeful more spring storms will deliver an extended backcountry season and boost the moisture our mountains desperately need.


glorious skate ski under the watchful eye of mount crested butte

the pups love a ski tour in fresh snow

powder day on the mountain


Guess who turned 6 years old this weekend? It’s hard to believe we’ve had Neva for nearly 6 years. The first three felt like an eternity, but the last three have flown by as Neva made enormous progress with her anxieties. Proper medication, training, compassion, and even Yuki (!) have all contributed to Neva living her best good girl life. We love her so and look forward to more adventures and butt rubs and special dinners and UPS/FedEx/school bus warnings and snuggles.


such a good and patient birthday girl

her favorites: beef, bacon, cheese, apple (the parsley, not so much)

what’s a birthday pawty without your little sister?


I’m pretty sure if it feels like spring around our mountains, the rest of you are immersed in the signs of the new season (unless you are in the non-tropical Southern Hemisphere). In addition to longer and warmer days, I relish the color explosion after our extended season of muted winter tones. Tiny new leaves catch the sunlight and glow like peridots suspended in the air. Flower blooms round out the rest of the rainbow. It’s festive, much like this confetti cookie.

I set about testing the recipe in December when there was a sprinkle shortage. I should have anticipated that the home-bound and pandemic-fatigued, plunging toward the darkest nights of the year, would reach for those tiny symbols of edible joy on the store shelves to get them through the holidays. A little tweaking and a month later, I was able to finalize our preferred version of the cookie and with a better selection of sprinkles.


almond extract, butter, flour, cream cheese, sugar, sprinkles, baking powder, baking soda, salt, egg


I admit, the sole reason I made these cookies was because I found the colorful sprinkles mesmerizing. I wasn’t expecting deliciousness, but they are that AND they are easy to make. Tasty, pretty, easy: three qualities that define a happy cookie, which is what we could all use about now. I doubled the amount of vanilla bean and almond extract for a more pronounced flavor, but you can dial that back if you prefer. And if the step of rubbing the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar is not within your time constraints, use vanilla extract.


rub the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar

whisk the dry ingredients together

add egg and extract(s) to the creamed butter, cream cheese, and sugar



**Jump for more butter**

the chewy parts of life

Monday, January 13th, 2020

Recipe: flourless chocolate walnut cookies

We have emerged on the other side of the holidays more or less unscathed. People are crazy, and there is nothing like Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day to really drive that observation home. Jeremy and I filled the past few weeks with many flavors of skiing, catching up on work, exercising the pups, long and thoughtful discussions, doing our best to eat like sensible adults, and avoiding other people. It was great.


christmas morning, an uphill ski on the mountain with our crazy pups

calendar girl, yuki (rezdawg rescue’s 2020 calendar)

national bacon day and a -10°f skate ski with my denver erin

new year’s day uphill ski

frost flowers on a cold skate ski in crested butte

skiing down the mountain with this crazy pack



During the holiday downtime, we came to the realization that Yuki is now an adult (despite behaving like a puppy) and that travel might just become a reality for us again. And I decided it’s time to put Twitter and Facebook into full neglect mode. The only reason I keep a Facebook account is to access the driving conditions page for our local canyon – otherwise it is a hugely unproductive time suck. So for now, if you want updates on new posts, you can follow me on Instagram at @jenyuphoto (personal) or @userealbutter (just the blog), subscribe to this blog (there is a link at the top of this page), or periodically check here.

Also? I sorta got my cooking mojo back! There were recipes that piqued my interest enough to want to make and even photograph to share here. I’ve always got one eye open for decent gluten-free recipes. I eat the hell out of gluten, but there are a handful of people I really like who cannot. If I like you, I will bake for you. If I really like you, I will cook for you. Don’t let the gluten-freeness of these flourless chocolate walnut cookies deter you if you dig on gluten. These gems are not only delicious and perfectly textured, they are easy to make (i.e. hard to fuck up). It’s like the ghetto version of a French macaron.


walnuts, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt, cocoa powder, egg whites



Apparently, there is great flexibility to the recipe according to the Food52 post. You can omit the nuts, change the flavorings, add chocolate chips. I haven’t tried any ingredient variations yet. First, you want to toast the walnuts which involves a quick 9-10 minutes in a moderate (350°F) oven. Chop them up and let them cool. If you mix the cookie dough with a stand mixer, the nuts will get bashed up by the paddle during mixing. If you mix the dough by hand – which I haven’t done – you may want to chop the walnuts a little finer as they won’t receive as much of a beating. I do recommend weighing your ingredients rather than measuring by volume because: 1) it’s more accurate and 2) fewer dishes to wash.

coarsely chop the toasted walnuts

combine the dry ingredients in a bowl



**Jump for more butter**

out of sync

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Recipe: strawberry vanilla shortbread cookies

I know most of you already have your sights set on the December holidays, so please forgive me for rehashing last week’s Thanksgiving festivities. It was my intention to share this with you then, but a family emergency came up. It’s a good thing I didn’t plan a fancy meal. Well, that’s not entirely true. I planned a special plate for Neva, as always, and for Yuki, because it was her first Thanksgiving! And then it snowed and we enjoyed skiing and playing in the powder.


a plate for each pup

yuki had no idea what was going on

enjoying a proper start to the ski season

yuki chasing neva in the snow

a dazzling sunset



I posted the video of the pups eating their plates on Instagram and there is also a blooper cut. And thankfully the emergency turned out all right. Huge yay!

If you were hanging out in our house of late, you’d think it was spring because we have been engaging in what can only be classified as a giant Spring Cleaning in Autumn. It’s the stuff of nightmares for Jeremy because I say something as innocent as “let’s replace the sofas”. First we assess if we really do need to replace them. Yes, they’re 38 years old and ergonomically terrible for our backs when we sit on them. Then we calculate finances, find a good sale, determine the best model for our needs. Then the avalanche begins. Where are we putting the old sofas? And before you know it, we are moving half the furniture around in the house which makes me reorganize all of our books, gear, and storage and then I’m declaring that we need to donate or recycle a lot of old stuff that we haven’t needed nor unearthed in the last decade. Jeremy will be moving a bookcase and pause as I stare at the pantry. “None of that needs to be moved to make space for the couches,” he’ll mention in passing as Yuki happily shadows his every move.

But spring cleaning isn’t the only out of season activity I’ve been pursuing. Each fall I start getting nervous about the cookies I distribute in December and I feel compelled to add a new recipe to the rotating assortment. I tested a new one this fall. It’s definitely more of a spring or summer cookie, but I think people will like it no matter the season and I want to share the loveliness with everyone now.

What makes it a spring/summer cookie is the inclusion of strawberries. I had a lot of trouble finding chewy dried strawberries that weren’t loaded with sugar and opted to dehydrate my own. That meant I was the lady in all of the grocery stores examining every box of strawberries for the ripest ones I could find in October. There weren’t many, but there were some decent berries. If you are already worried about drying your own strawberries, never fear. I tested these with freeze-dried strawberries (which are pretty much everywhere) and they work. Some of my taste testers even preferred the freeze-dried to the dried strawberries. But I prefer the slight chew of the homemade dried strawberries. So I’ll show you how I dried my strawberries in my food dehydrator and then I’ll get to the cookies.


water, lemons, strawberries



I started with 4 pounds of ripe-ish strawberries which yielded about 3 cups of dried strawberries. The water and lemon juice mixture helps to prevent browning. If you are drying strawberries for snacks, you can cut the berries into 1/4-inch thick slices, but I wanted them chunky for the cookies, so I halved them. This increases the drying time and results in a little chewiness. How dry you want the slices is up to you. If you do leave them slightly soft, then use or consume them right away or store them longer term in the freezer.

hull the berries

combine the lemon and water

halve the strawberries

soak in the lemon-water for 5 minutes



**Jump for more butter**