Pure Barre Is The Best Thing Ever — But Nearly Impossible To Explain

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Okay, fellow Pure Barre addicts: Can you relate to the following scenario?

You fall in love with Pure Barre. It becomes this strange, unexpected addiction, but one you’re totally okay with because, well, it’s healthy and makes your body look awesome. Plus, your studio’s great and the instructors and other clients are super nice. So initially you buy the new client special and then follow up with the regularly priced unlimited membership. (Yikes! It’s expensive, but you love it so much you just can’t say no.)

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At this point, you’re 100% a Pure Barre convert. You live in yoga pants, you know what “LTB” means, and your day doesn’t feel quite right until you’ve had your 55-minute PB fix. If you have a significant other, he’s probably a little baffled by the whole thing, but is supportive because he sees how much you’re digging it. (And, again, your body’s looking awesome. Which he’s very okay with.)

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Now comes the hard part: describing this workout to your friends who haven’t tried Pure Barre for themselves. Seriously — how exactly do you put this into words?

In the past, I’ve said that it’s kind of like “a combination of yoga, ballet, and Pilates.” But that doesn’t feel quite right. Your heart rate is up the whole time, but you don’t get especially sweaty. You work on a barre (like ballet) for a portion of the class, but I don’t think having done ballet would really prepare you for Pure Barre at all. You focus on making the tiniest movements possible, and yet it’s crazy hard. There aren’t levels (beginner, intermediate, advanced) so everyone’s in the same class together regardless of how long they’ve been taking Pure Barre, and yet somehow instead of getting easier the workouts get HARDER. (They do! I swear. It’s the weirdest thing.)

None of these statements make sense to someone who’s not part of the Pure Barre inner circle.

When I think about it, though, that’s part of what makes Pure Barre great: it’s completely its own thing. You honestly have to try it to fully get it. Samantha from Forever Twenty-Somethings published a post recently about “100 Thoughts I Have During Pure Barre.” I laughed the whole way through the post, because I can absolutely relate to just about everything she listed. (Honestly, it was refreshing to learn that I’m not alone in some of those thoughts. Thanks for that, Samantha!) But for someone who had never taken a Pure Barre class? Completely irrelevant. They wouldn’t have enjoyed the post a bit. It’s just for us Pure Barrians (?).

What I’m saying, basically, is that if you haven’t tried Pure Barre yet, you probably should, just so you know what it’s all about. (Come on — you know you’re intrigued, right?) It might not be for you, but more often than not the opposite is true. You’re likely to get hooked quickly (like I did and like and so many other girls did) and before you know it Pure Barre will be your favorite workout. Part of your lifestyle. Part of your social circle. Perhaps part of your identity, in a way. (What girl doesn’t want to work to develop a long, lean, dancer-like body, after all? I never took ballet but sure do want to look as much like a ballerina as possible. Pure Barre helps me achieve that, and so I’m a big advocate for the Pure Barre brand and all it stands for.)

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Any gals in Winston-Salem who are interested in trying a class, please let me know and we can coordinate a time to go together. Things like this are always so much easier when you have a buddy, and I’d love to show you the Pure Barre ropes. (Note: There are no ropes involved, but there are weights, balls, mats, and single and double tubes. Oh, the double tubes!)

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Pattypan Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Corn, and Rice

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Kevin and I checked out the Cobblestone Farmer’s Market in Old Salem for the first time last Saturday (with our friend Bethany, who’s a seasoned Cobblestone-goer with one visit under her belt) and came home with a stellar collection of deliciousness, including cherry tomatoes, bitter melon, lamb sausage, eggs, two Be Nice everything bagels, purple okra (!!!), and pattypan squash. I was particularly pumped about the squash, because I’d been wanting to make a version of a New York Times pattypan squash recipe I tried a couple of years ago.

I modified the recipe a bit based on what we had on hand and was really happy with the way the squash turned out. I’m a big fan of this dish, since it’s easy, fresh, filling, and I love the presentation with each person getting an individual squash to enjoy. Feel free to adjust this recipe based on your taste. It’s hard to go wrong!

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Pattypan Squash Stuffed With Sausage, Corn, and Rice

(note: this recipe makes two squash servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 large pattypan squashes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 sausage links, casing removed (I used hot Italian sausage we got from another farmer’s market recently)
  • 1/4 cup corn (I used Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn)
  • 1/3 cup rice, cooked (I used Trader Joe’s frozen rice medley)
  • 1/3 cup Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 1 egg (fresh from the Cobblestone market!)
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and oil a baking dish or casserole large enough to accommodate both pattypan shells.
  • Slice the top off the squash and scoop out and discard all seeds.
  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes.
  • Add the sausage (removed from its casing), and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the corn and continue to cook.
  • Stir in the cooked rice (for me, that meant microwaving for three minutes — score!).
  • Once sausage is fully cooked, remove skillet from heat and stir in cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Fill the pattypan shells with the sausage/corn/rice mixture, and arrange in the baking dish.

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  • Beat together the egg and milk, season with a little salt, and carefully spoon a little over the mixture in each filled squash. Cover (with a lid to your dish or with aluminum foil if your dish doesn’t have a lid) and place in the oven.
  • Bake 40 to 55 minutes (until the squash is tender).
  • Enjoy! (We coupled our squash with roasted broccoli and cherry tomatoes, and they worked well together.)

 

 

Cake Crumb Coconut Cookies (a.k.a. Busted Cake Pieces Get Another Chance)

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Remember when I showed you that pile of disaster mini pound cakes last night? Here’s a reminder of what I was left with:

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I was determined to find a use for those ugly cake pieces. After all — they still tasted delicious! I felt like they deserved a second chance.

Enter the cake crumb cookie, invented for such a time as this.

Just turn your hunks of disaster cake into legit cake crumbs, add a few ingredients, and — voilà — you have a sort of cake/cookie combo. Almost muffin-like in texture, even. Quite delicious, and much more presentable than a pile of disaster cake, to be sure.

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You can make these cookies in several varieties (spice, chocolate chip, chocolate), but I went for coconut. Because, duh. (And also, I was out of chocolate chips but DID have shredded coconut on hand.)

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups of cake crumbs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Directions:

  • Place left over cake (disaster cake) in a mixing bowl and beat until the cake becomes crumbs. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until well mixed.
  • Refrigerate dough for 30-45 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.
  • Drop into rounded Tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto baking sheet.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden brown.

#savethedisastercake!

Mini Lemon-Glazed Pound Cakes: Delicious Meets Adorable

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This latest recipe was inspired by a visit to Tart Sweets, a local bakery right around the corner from Kevin and me. (It really is close — less than half a mile from our house.) Despite its location, I hadn’t tried Tart Sweets until last Saturday (crazy, since I’m a lover of all things sweet). Kevin and I were running a few errands nearby and stopped in to check out the bakery. They had incredible looking pound cake on display, and Kevin and I chose a slice of Kentucky Bourbon Pound Cake to share. It was SO good, and put me in a pound cake mood. (That reminds me: I need to go back and sample Tart Sweets’ Brown Sugar Pound Cake.)

Determined to try a new pound cake recipe, I then decided I wanted to incorporate the awesome mini bundt cake pan I got for Christmas a couple of years ago. Mini pound cake time, people! We already had lots o’ lemons on hand, so I went the citrus route. It was a good call.

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Mini Lemon-Glazed Pound Cakes:

Ingredients (for cake):

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup milk

Ingredients (for glaze):

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Directions (for cake)

  • Grease your baby bundt pan (really well — get in all those nooks and crannies!) and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Beat the eggs in a stand mixer, then add the powdered sugar, melted butter, flour, baking powder, and salt, beating at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the milk.
  • Spoon batter into prepared pan, then bake for 15-20 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).
  • Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan (carefully — these have a tendency to stick!*) and let cool for 30 minutes.

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Directions (for glaze)

  • While your super cute cakes are baking, whisk 1 cup powdered sugar and lemon juice together in a saucepan, then bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir until thickened to a syrup (about 8 minutes) and let cool.
  • Brush the tops of the cooled pound cakes with the lemon syrup. Let glaze set, then brush with a second layer.

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*While my first pan of mini pound cakes turned out pretty close to perfect (as shown above), my second pan met a different fate (as shown below). I think perhaps I didn’t clean the pan well enough between the two uses and so maybe there was some cake still stuck in the pan from round one, or maybe I should have tried a different greasing approach. Whatever the reason, I was left with lots of, well, pretty much crumbs. The good news? The crumbs are still delicious! Now I’m trying to decide how best to use said crumbs. As a pie crust? In cookies? Cake balls? That’s my project for tonight…

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My 30-Day Wardrobe Challenge: Week 4 Recap

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Happy Monday, friends! Here’s a quick recap of how things netted out in the outfit department last week.

Highlights:

  • You might recall that I was on the fence about rompers just a couple of months ago, but I’ve since bought two I like a ton, and wore one of them this past week.
  • You’ll notice there aren’t any weekend days included in this line-up, and that’s because Kevin and I spent pretty much all day Saturday and Sunday working on the house in scrubby clothes, so I didn’t think that was worth including in the 30-day mix. (We got tons done on the house, though, which was exciting!)

Day Nineteen: Monday, August 11

(top: NY & Co. / skirt: Mod Cloth / shoes: Steve Madden)

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Day Twenty: Tuesday, August 12

(top: Pomelo — via Stitch Fix / jeans: J. Brand / sandals: Target)

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Day Twenty-One: Wednesday, August 13

(top: Asos / jeans: Just Black — via Stitch Fix / shoes: Target)

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Day Twenty-Two: Thursday, August 14 (my birthday!)

(dress: Forever 21 / sandals: Target)

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Day Twenty-Three: Friday, August 15

(romper: Loft / sandals: Target)

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My 30-Day Wardrobe Challenge: Week 3 Recap

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I’m more than halfway done with the challenge at this point, and still have yet to feel like I’m running out of outfit options. (Maybe I should extend this to a 50-Day Challenge…something to think about!)

I was able to incorporate fewer Target sandals into the line-up this past week to mix things up a bit, and rediscovered some dresses I’d kinda forgotten that I actually love a lot (shout-outs to J. Crew and Target in particular on the dress front).

I also took time off from the challenge this weekend since I was at the beach with friends Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and pretty much lived in my bathing suit/cover-up and yoga pants/t-shirts. Starting back up with Day 19 today!

Day Fifteen: Monday, August 4

dress: J. Crew / sandals: Target

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Day Sixteen: Tuesday, August 5

dress: Target / sandals: Macy’s

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Day Seventeen: Wednesday, August 6

dress: Asos / shoes: Nordstrom

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Day Eighteen: Thursday, August 7

skirt: Free People / top: TJ Maxx / shoes: BCBG

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Stack-Worthy Bracelets: Picks That Top My List

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Just because I’m on a 30-day hiatus from purchasing new clothes and accessories doesn’t mean I can’t LOOK, right? No harm in that.

Lately, I’ve been really loving the bracelet stacking trend. It’s such a fun and easy way to spice up a look, and now since so many bracelets are being specifically designed to be grouped and stacked, there are more great picks than ever.

A sampling of my go-to stacking looks these days includes my lovely Loren Hope bracelet + my trusty Michael Kors watch. I’m obsessed:

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I’m also digging my Kate Spade watch + J. Crew link bracelet combo:

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And to throw a non-time piece option into the mix, here’s a look I love with three Lily and Laura bracelets + a Stella and Dot pick Kevin got me for Christmas:

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Time for the wishing to begin! Here’s what I’ve been eyeing recently, and would love to add to my jewelry box:

Kate Spade’s Mini Bow Bangle coupled with House of Harlow’s Aztec Wrap Bracelet. (What a fun contrast, don’t you think?):

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Kate Spade’s Metro Watch partnered with J. Crew’s Tiny Bow Bracelet:

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Marc by Marc Jacobs’ Baker Watch paired with Stella and Dot’s Amelie Sparkle Bracelet:

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Are you a bracelet stacker, too? If so, what looks do you love?

Blueberry Coconut Muffins (Yep — They’re As Good As They Sound)

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As someone with a love for all things coconut, this recipe — which includes shredded coconut, coconut oil, AND coconut milk — seemed like a no brainer. It’s light and sweet and fresh and perfect for summertime.

They’re a great breakfast treat, make for a delicious dessert, and are the perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up treat to enjoy with a cup of coffee.

In fact, I’m making another batch a little later this week to take with me to to the beach this weekend. Y’all should probably make some, too. Just saying.

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(Bonus! You can even make it vegan by subbing out the egg with 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseeds mixed with 3 Tablespoons of water.)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup blueberries (you can use fresh or frozen — I went the frozen route)

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, grease a 12-cup muffin pan or line pan with muffin/cupcake liners, and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  • In a separate medium bowl, mix coconut oil, egg, coconut milk, and vanilla together.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  • Gently fold in the coconut and blueberries.
  • Divide batter among 12 prepared muffin cups and bake for 18-20 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean). NOTE: These will not get “golden brown” as many baked goods do, so watch these muffins carefully to be sure you don’t overbake them.

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My 30-Day Wardrobe Challenge: Week 2 Recap

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With Week Two of my 30-Day Wardrobe Challenge behind me, I wanted to give a quick overview of how things netted out last week. (I was again reminded of just how big a role Target sandals play in my summertime wardrobe.)

Here are my outfits from Days 8-14!:

Day Eight: Monday, July 28:

top: 4Hawthorn (via Stitch Fix) / pants: Paige Denim / sandals: Target

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Day Nine: Tuesday, July 29:

dress and sandals: Target

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Day Ten: Wednesday, July 30:

dress: Asos / sandals: Target

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Day Eleven: Thursday, July 31:

top: Covet / pants: J Brand Denim / sandals: Target

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Day Twelve: Friday, August 1:

dress and sandals: Target

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Day Thirteen: Saturday, August 2:

tee: L.A. Made / jeans: J Brand Denim / sandals: Target

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Day Fourteen: Sunday, August 3:

tee: Urban Outfitters / shorts: Paige Denim / sandals: Target

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Happy Monday!

Movie Recommendations + Oatmeal Cranberry Cookie Sandwiches With White Chocolate Buttercream Filling

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I’ve had an awesome weekend full of great friends, good movies, and some much-needed down time. Kevin’s been in Atlanta this weekend, and so Fulton and I have enjoyed going on runs together and just laying low a bit. I got to spend time with some of my favorite friends, which always makes for a successful weekend. Plus, I got to see THREE awesome movies that I highly recommend AND try a new cookie recipe. Whoa. Lots of good stuff crammed into two days.

First some quick movie shout-outs and then on to the cookies:

The Lunchbox: Rotten Tomatoes scored this flick at 96%, so I had confidence going into it that it was going to be solid, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. This Indian film stars Irrfan Khan, who you’ll recognize from other wonderful films like The Life of Pi, The Namesake, The Darjeeling Limited, and Slumdog Millionaire. It’s a story about unexpected friendship and support in a time when two people desperately need to be seen, valued, and understood. I highly recommend it!

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Begin Again: This is a movie I want to see again as soon as possible. (Anyone in Winston who wants to go, let me know! It’s still playing at Aperture…) In fact, I’m listening to the soundtrack on Spotify as I type this post. The music is incredible, the storyline is captivating, and it’s just a well-done film. (After all, it’s written/directed by John Carney, the magic behind the 2006 music-based film, Once.) See it if you can, fo sho.

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Drop Dead Gorgeous: This movie’s not a new one, I know (1999, to be exact), but it’s one of my absolute favorites and a film that managed to slip through the cracks a bit. It was one of the earlier mockumentaries, and features a stellar cast including Kirstie Alley, Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Ellen Barkin, Allison Janney, Brittany Murphy, and Amy Adams. Please see it if you haven’t. I’ve yet to share this movie with someone who hasn’t liked it. (In fact, I watched it today with three friends who hadn’t seen it and it was a hit. One friend ordered her own copy on Amazon while we were watching it. How’s that for an endorsement?)

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Okay! Time for the sweet stuff.

Typically, I associate cranberry cookies with winter and wintertime holidays, but I wanted to try a new cookie recipe and my friend Watson (who has a knack for finding amazing things for me to bake) suggested I look for a cranberry cookie recipe. So I did, and stumbled upon this one, which turned out to be pretty darn delicious, I must say. Cranberry cookies are officially non-seasonal, as far as I’m concerned!

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Ingredients (for cookies)

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Ingredients (for filling)

  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons milk

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Directions (for cookies)

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, line a large baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper, and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon, and set aside.
  • In a mixer, beat together the butter and both sugars until smooth, then mix in the egg and vanilla.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  • Stir in the oats and cranberries.
  • Roll dough into Tablespoon-sized balls and place them on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes (or until light golden brown).
  • Let cookies cool completely before adding the filling.

Directions (for filling)

  • While the cookies are cooling, make the white chocolate buttercream filling. Place white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30-second intervals until the chips begin to melt. Then stir and repeat, heating chips 10 seconds at a time to avoid burning, until completely melted. Stir until chocolate is completely smooth.
  • Place butter in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until fluffy.
  • Beat in the melted chocolate, vanilla, milk, and half of the powdered sugar until creamy.
  • Slowly beat in the remaining powdered sugar until smooth. (If frosting is too stiff, feel free to add more milk to thin it out a bit.)
  • To make the sandwich cookies, spread white chocolate buttercream filling on the inside of one cookie and top with another cookie.
  • Store cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature.

NOTE: You will probably have extra filling, but no worries — it keeps in the fridge for about a week so you can use it with another recipe or whip up another batch of these later in the week.

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