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Archive for the ‘Cookies and Bars’ Category

We are back home!  We made it back to sunny South Florida on Sunday afternoon.  Walking back into the house was great!  It was sad to leave Charleston, but we were all happy to get back home and back to our surroundings.  It also helped that the weather was 78 and sunny!  A great change from the cold weather in Charleston.  It makes you appreciate the mild climate we have in the winters.  However, today we are experiencing a slight cold front.  I think those of you up North would laugh at our version of a cold front.

While on our trip to Charleston I had the pleasure of making dessert for Christmas Eve dinner.  As I said in my previous post being in my mother-laws kitchen was interesting.  Let’s just put it this way, next year for Christmas I’m going to get her an electric mixer.  It was very comical watching me mix the batter for these cookie cupcakes.  Once the batter got to a certain thickness the beaters would come out of the mixer and into the bowl making a big mess.  At first I thought I was doing something wrong.  After several attempts I realized it wasn’t me but it was the mixer!  I ended up having to go back to the old method of mixing it by hand.  It made me appreciate my wonderful standing mixer sitting on my kitchen counter back at home.  I have to say I almost kissed it when I walked into the door on Sunday! 

This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewarts Cupcake Cookbook.  This was a Christmas gift from my wonderful assistant at work.  Thanks Jenn!  I have had such a great time looking through the cookbook and have so many marked that I want to try.  I thought these cookie cupcakes would be a nice easy dessert and something the girls would enjoy too.  I made just a few slight changes to the recipe but for the most part I have to give Martha all the credit.  Thanks Martha! 

Just a quick note: Make sure to check them towards the end and don’t let them get too golden.

Enjoy!

Chocolate and White Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

Print Recipe

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup light brown sugar, packed

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup milk

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Beat in vanilla.  Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk, and beating until combined after each.  Stir in chocolate and white chocolate chips by hand.

Fill each lined cup evenly with batter.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until pale golden and cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Transfer tins to a wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes. 

For chocolate topping: Place 1 cup chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute.  Remove dish carefully from microwave and stir chocolate.  If the chocolate is not melted, continue to microwave on high at 30 second intervals until melted through.  Once melted, use a fork and dip into chocolate and then drizzle on tops of cooled cupcakes.

Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers.

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My husband loves Oreo’s so when I was looking through Martha’s Holiday Sweets magazine and knew I had to try this recipe.  I changed her recipe a little for the filling because the filling was too sweet and took away from the chocolate cookie. The dough is really sticky so please be patient with it as your rolling it out.  Trust me, I was really arguing with my dough and in the end we worked it out.  I also tried two different fillings, the traditional vanilla and a peanut butter filling.  I really liked the peanut butter version…..yummy!  I think everyone in the house liked those too because those were quick to go.  Another great thing about having my parents here to visit is they help in eating the sweets.  These were delicious cookies and if you get to try them, which I highly recommend, enjoy!

I hope everyone is getting ready for the holidays.  As my last post mentioned I was pretty stressed with my to-do list.  The stress was knocked up a few levels when my husband and I decided to head to Charleston to visit his family for the holidays.  Not only that but we are driving with two 2 year olds, a dog, and luggage.  Wish us luck as we make our adventure!  We are looking forward to seeing everyone though.  That’s another thing, I may be missing from action for a little bit but I promise I’ll be back with more treats for everyone.

Happy Holidays everyone!!

 

Chocolate Cookie Sandwiches

Adapted from Martha Stewart 2009 Holiday Sweets Magazine
For Cookies:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
 
Line baking sheets with parchment paper; lightly coat with cooking spray.  Whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt.  With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until pale and fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beat until combine.  Divide dough in half; form into disks, and wrap in plastic.  The dough will be very sticky.  Chill until firm, at least 2 hours, or up to 2 days.  Dough can also be frozen up to 2 months; thaw in refrigerator before using.
 
Working with one disk at a time; roll out dough to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface.  Using a 1-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out shapes, transferring to prepared sheets (1 inch apart) as you work.  Chill in freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.  Brush off excess flour.  Gather togther scraps; roll, chill, and cut out more shapes.
 
Preheat oven to 325.  Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm, about 12 to 14 minutes.  Transfer cookies, on parchment, to a wire rack to cool completely.
 
Spread a pipe a small amount of filling on half the cookies.  Top with remaining cookies; gently press down to spread filling to edges.  Assembled cookies can be refrigerated up to 2 days in an airtight container.
 
For Vanilla Filling:
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
 
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until smooth.  Add confectioners’ sugar, and beat until light and fluffy.  Use immediately.
 
For Peanut Butter Filling:
Mix as above, but omit the vanilla extract.  Beat in 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter and 1 Tbsp milk into filling.

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12 days to Christmas!!  12 more days left to prepare for Christmas!!  Are you ready??  I have to say that I’m not even close to being ready!  The reason being is because I have not bought one present yet!!  Not a one!  When thinking about this I go into panic and stress mode.  I will try not to get myself so worked up but I will probably be spending the afternoon shopping on the internet.  It’s doesn’t help that it’s in the 80’s in South Florida. This may be playing a part in why I can’t get into the groove of Christmas.  While everyone else is experience really cold weather right now we are dressed in shorts in t-shirts.  I guess there are pros and cons of living in a mild climate but this time of the weather is when I miss the cold weather.  My parents have been visiting since Thursday (which is one of the reasons why I haven’t posted…sorry) and they have to check their flight out because Atlanta might have a chance of flurries!!  Crazy! 

To help me get into the spirit of everything and to also satisfy my dad and husbands sweet tooth I made gingerbread cookies this weekend.  I have to say the gingerbread cookies are great by themselves or with the filling.  The original recipe I tried for the filling was a little too sweet so I reduced the sugar and they came out a lot better.  The recipe below reflects my changes and my recommendations.  The gingerbread cookies are soft and chewy which is how I prefer my gingerbread cookies.  Also on the cookies I made the mistake of making them too big and they ended up spreading and getting really big.  Since they were so big and to avoid making them again I used a biscuit cutter to make them smaller.  I advised below to drop about 1 tsp sized cookies and this should help you to avoid my mistake.  As you can tell I had a lot of distractions while making these, hence the “mistakes”.  I had the girls, the dog, grandma, and grandpa all running and going crazy inside the house while I was trying to make these.  The kitchen so happen to be the place of choice for their fun.

I have also included that these are a great option to package up in a tin and tie a bow on top and give as a gift.  Maybe I should use this idea for someone….one down so more to go. 

Ok stress level rising again.  I’m going to take a deep breath and start my list and know that in the end everything will be ok.

Good luck everyone as you finish your last minute Christmas preparations!!

 

Gingerbread Cookie Sandwiches

Print Recipe

For Cookies:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

1 stick plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

¼ cup unsulfured molasses

For Filling:

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

1 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in the upper and lower thirds.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

To Make Cookies:

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the egg and molasses.  Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until well incorporated, scraping down the sides.  Drop tbsp size dough onto the baking sheets, 3 inches apart.  Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes, until risen and fallen and slightly firm; shift the sheets halfway through for even baking.  Let cool slightly then transfer the parchment paper to racks to cool completely.

 

To Make Filling:

In the bowl of a electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the confectioners’ sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the milk until well combined.

Arrange the cookies in pairs on a large working surface and spoon or pipe onto the flat side of half of the cookie with filling.  Place the other cookie flat side down on top of cookie with filling and press down slightly until filling spreads to the edges. 

Sandwich cookies can be stored in an airtight container between sheets of wax paper for up to a week.

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It’s December!  Wow!  It’s so hard to believe Christmas is right around the corner.  To start off December, I decided that my next five posts will be all about Christmas Gift ideas.  Of course, food Christmas gift ideas.  About a month ago my roommate from college sent me a comment on my blog for ideas to send her triplet nieces and nephew for Christmas.  Her specific request was mixes.  She also wanted something that would be easy to ship since they lived in a different state then her.  I already started brainstorming ideas for my holiday posts before I received her comment, but this really started to spark more ideas.  To start off I decided to post my Christmas cookie mix.  I got the idea from the very talented Bakerella, but changed her recipe by adding a mix of all-purpose flour and white whole wheat flour.  If you have been following my blog you have noticed I try to use whole grains when I can.  I also added cinnamon, removed the pecans, added less M&M’s and more chocolate chips.  I guess I changed it more than I thought.  The cookies turned out great and I think the idea to package this up and give as a gift at Christmas is great!  Especially in the economy we are in!  I purchased the clear Ball jars from Michael’s craft store and the labels I got from Paper Source and what was even better is they have a template to follow on their site.  I had to do several test runs and try to match the best red with the label but in the end it was pretty easy.  I got the ribbon from Michael’s too.  I was going to use fabric to cover the top like Bakerella did but in the end used a double layer of red tissue paper and it worked fine. 

I think the best part about this cookie mix is you could use it year-round.  Just change the M&M color you use or you could even substitute the M&M’s for white chocolate chips.  I actually might try that next time because I’m not a fan of M&M’s in my cookies.  This is also a great mix for the kids to help you with in the kitchen.  Just mix butter, vanilla extract, and an egg into the dry ingredients and have them help you roll the dough in balls. 

Chelsie, I hope this is a start and stay tune to homemade pancake mix, cinnamon sugar pecans, homemade muffin mix, and one other special treat I’m working on.

Happy December everyone and happy baking!!!

Christmas Cookie Mix in a Jar

Print Recipe

¾ cup all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup & leveled

½ cup white whole wheat flour, spooned into a measuring cup & leveled
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup cooking oats
½ cup m&ms, red and green (or color of choice)
¾  cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½  cup brown sugar, packed
½  cup white sugar

Add:

1 slightly beaten egg
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (melted slightly in the microwave)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Use the back of a large spoon to work it all together. You may even need to use your hands to get everything incorporated.

Then roll the cookie dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, place on a parchment covered baking sheet. 

I spaced them about an inch apart.

Bake for about 10 -15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.  I got about 26-28 cookies out of these.

Start with a 1 quart smooth Ball jar. I found mine at Michael’s Craft Store.

Layer the ingredients in like this:

First: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon
Second: oats
Third: m&ms
Fourth: chocolate chips
Fifth: brown sugar
Sixth: white sugar

Pack each level down really tightly. I mean it. Pack it in. Or else it won’t all fit. The ingredients should be flush to the top of the lid when you seal it up.

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Brownie Bites

Happy Halloween everyone!  Today our family started celebrating Halloween a day early.   I took the girls to the local play gym for their Halloween event.  The class was packed with 25 kids and their parents.  Pure chaos, but a lot of fun!  I was all by myself with the girls and times like these I wish I had extra arms and extra eyes because the girls went in opposite directions of each other.  They both wanted to do their own thing.  One was in the foam pit while the other was trying to hang from the monkey bars.  I think all parents with multiples wish they had extra hands and eyes.  Wouldn’t that be great?  Or maybe I should have gone as Inspector Gadget?  That would have been great to press a button and my long arms could reach across the room.  Maybe next year?  Speaking of costumes, when I had the chance I got to get quick glimpse of all the different costumes and they were all great!  There was a fireman, a pirate, a cowgirl, a ladybug, a ballerina, and so much more.  This year the girls are a lily fairy and a rose fairy.  Here is one of the pictures I was actually able to capture of both of them together.

 Halloween 2009 038

It’s amazing to think a year ago they could hardly walk.  Here they are last year for their very first Halloween.  My little bee and ladybug!

 Halloween 2008

Now to celebrate Halloween I made these delicious brownie bites.  They are brownies cut into rounds, then halved, and then I placed pumpkin cream cheese between the halves.  Yummy!  These would be great if you need a last minute treat to take to a Halloween party.  If they are last minute you could always used a boxed mix for the brownies.  If you never had homemade brownies and have time I would recommend making them from scratch.  I took these treats into the office earlier this week since it would be too much of a temptation if they stayed in my house.  They were hit with everyone. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Halloween this year!  If you have time to make these treats please enjoy!! 

Brownie Bites

Brownie Bites with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling

Print Recipe

Brownies

  • 1 ¼ cup cake flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp espresso powder
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
  • 12 Tbsp (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into six 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil; allowing excess to lay over the pans edges.  Spray foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and espresso powder in a medium bowl; set aside.

Melt chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth.  You can also melt in the microwave in 30 second intervals until chocolate is smooth.  Once chocolate mixture is completely smooth, let cool slightly.  Test with your finger it should be like a warm bath.  Once chocolate mixture has cooled slightly, whisk in brown sugar.  Whisk in eggs one at a time until thoroughly combined.  Whisk in vanilla.  Add flour mixture in three additions, folding with a rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth.

Transfer batter to prepared pan; using spatula, spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface.  Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Make sure you don’t over bake your brownies or they will be more cake like.  Cool on a wire rack to cool completely.  Once cooled completely lift the brownies out of the pan using the foil overhang.  Using a 1” round biscuit cutter, cut rounds out of brownies.  I dipped my 1” round cutter in confectioners’ sugar to help the brownies release easier.  You will make about 14 rounds in total.  Once rounds are cut then cut each round in half.   

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling

Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 4 ounces organic Neufchatel cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar (I added a little more about ¼ cup), sifted
  • ¼ cup canned solid pack pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

In a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth.  Once smooth add the cream cheese and whip until smooth.  Gradually add confectioners’ sugar to the bowl, on medium speed mix until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg; whip until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.  

 Brownie Bites 2

Assembly of Brownie Bites:

Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip end.  When brownies have cooled completely and you have cut the rounds and then cut them in half pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat half of brownie half then top with the matching half, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of brownie.  Transfer finished brownie bites to an airtight container and refrigerate 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.

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Whoopie Pies 008

Ok, I’m officially obsessed with pumpkin!  I can’t stop thinking about these small, medium and large orange things!  Maybe it’s because they are on every door step in the neighborhood, or that I pass a pumpkin patch every day to and from work, or maybe because it’s the girls new favorite word?  But in all honesty I think it’s because pumpkin tastes so darn good and when using it in something it makes the house smell heavenly.  Not only that but it’s a fall favorite ingredient.  And everyone knows how much I love fall!  Fall marks that time of the year that I love being in my kitchen.  So once again I have a pumpkin recipe for all of you out there.  Trust me when I say this, it’s the best one yet!  Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, a soft outer pumpkin spiced cookie with a creamy cream cheese filling. Is your mouth watering yet?  Mind is!  If you have never had a Whoopie Pie, they remind me of an inside out cupcake.  The difference is that the icing is tucked inside instead on top of the cake/pie part.  With many of the traditional whoopie pie recipes out there they have shortening in them.  However, I prefer not to bite into something that has shortening in it.  I don’t like the taste and I really don’t like the idea of shortening.  With this recipe I tried to use “healthy” alternative ingredients.  You’ll find I used half white whole wheat flour and substituted half of the oil for unsweetened applesauce.  For the cream cheese filling, I used a organic Neufchatel cheese which is lower in fat than your traditional cream cheese.   I found mine in my local grocery store and it’s also available at Whole Foods if you have one nearby.  If you can’t find it you can always use regular cream cheese.

I brought in these early Halloween treats to the office and everyone loved them.  The best part is they are easy to transport!  If you have ever tried to transport cupcakes to a party or event I’m sure there have been times where you have gotten to your final location and found that the icing isn’t as you placed it.  With these little treats the transporting is easy because the icing is tucked inside. 

These are tasty little treats for anyone in the house.  Great option on the dessert table for the kids at Thanksgiving too.  Enjoy!!

 

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

Print Recipe

  • 1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp ground cloves
  • 1 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 3 cups pumpkin puree, chilled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces organic Neufchatel cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

To make the pies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat; set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves; set aside.  In another large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, oil and unsweetened applesauce until well combined.  Whisk in chilled pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and the eggs one at a time until well combined.  Whisk in flour mixture, in three additions, into the pumpkin mixture until fully incorporated. 

Using a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism, drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.  Transfer to oven and bake until pies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of each pie comes out clean, about 15 minutes.  Let cool completely on pan.

To make the filling:

Sift confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat butter until smooth.  Add Neufchatel cheese (or cream cheese) and beat until well combined.  Add confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth.  Filling can be made up to a day in advance.  Cover and refrigerate.  Let stand at room temperature to soften before using.

Whoopie Pies 007

To assembling Pies:

 Transfer filling to a disposable pastry bag and snip end.  When cookies have cooled completely pipe a large dollop of filling on the flat side of one half of the pies.  Sandwich with remaining pies, pressing slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the pies.  Transfer to an airtight container.  Refrigerate cookies at least 30 minutes before serving and up to 3 days.

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Halloween Blondies

First of all thank you everyone for all your nice comments on the Halloween Lollipops.  I’m so happy that everyone enjoyed my idea.  It’s always nice to see your comments and even better to know that others besides friends and family are reading my blog.  So again, thank you!

To continue with the Halloween theme, I thought I would post another recipe I  included in the gift package I sent my wonderful nieces in California.  These blondies were really easy and fun to make.  I added the idea of the pumpkins on top using mini M&M’s and mini chocolate chips.  It’s so fun to be creative in the kitchen.  I guess going to art school is paying off.  My parents will be happy to know that my 4 years at Savannah College of Art and Design are being used in many ways.  If you don’t have the patience to shape pumpkins on top of the batter with the mini M&M’s then you can also lay regular M&M’s across in Halloween colors.  Or even Reese’s piece could work!  You could also do brownies as the base too.  I might try brownies next time.  Blondies are a favorite with my husband so he wasn’t happy when I told them they were for our nieces.  The good thing was I cut the edges off which he finished off very quickly and was very happy in the end.  As you can see by the pictures the mini M&M’s did crack so I have to warn you that it may happen.  They still came out cute in the end though.  Enjoy the recipe and again have fun making these Halloween treats! 

Top View Halloween Blondies

Halloween Blondies

Print Recipe

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Sucanat (or 1/2 cup white sugar)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Orange and Green Mini  M&M’s
  • Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray; line pan with parchment paper leaving a 2 inch overhang on two sides.  Spray paper with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together butter and sugar until smooth.  Whisk in vanilla and eggs one at a time.  Add flour and salt; stir just until moistened.  Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top. 

Arrange orange mini M&M’s in a circle to make the shape of a small pumpkin.  For the stem, place the mini chocolate chips and add one green mini M&M for the leaf on the pumpkin.  You will be able to make about 6 to 7 pumpkins per 8-inch pan.  Make sure you spread them apart so each pumpkin can be on one square.

Bake until top of blondies are golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.  Set pan on wire rack and let cool completely before cutting.  When I cut the blondies I cut the edges off.

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