Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Double Chocolate Cookies

November 19, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments
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double chocolate cookies

Rick Katz’s Double Chocolate Cookies came along at just the right time…I have been majorly craving chocolate lately.  I’ve hardly touched the stuff in the last six months, and that’s just plain unnatural!

I knew exactly what these cookies would be like.  I’ve worked in two places where we made cookies very similar to this, method and everything (just in way bigger batches).  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if my two former chefs started with this recipe originally.  These are rich– a dark chocolate batter with extra chocolate bits mixed in (preferably a high percentage bittersweet)– and exactly the fix I was looking for.  The recipe intro calls them something like “half cookie, half brownie,” and that about sums it up.  You have to whip the heck out of the eggs and sugar when you make these, so they get that awesome brownie-like crackle shell, but they’re really soft inside.  As soon as they cool from baking, they’re pretty gooey.  But give them the better part of a day, or even overnight, and they become chewy.  So good.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also all over the Interwebs) Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: X Cookies

October 1, 2013 at 12:26 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 9 Comments
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X cookies

Finally–Nick Malgieri’s X Cookies!  I’ve had a little hunk of pasta frolla in the freezer waiting for these guys ever since we made pizza rustica.  What’s that you say?  That means it’s been in the freezer for almost a year and a half?  Details, details…

X cookies are a take on a traditional Sicilian cookie called cucidati…a sweet dough filled with a paste of dried figs, raisins, orange, nuts, rum, spices, etc. Think of a more grown-up Fig Newton and you’re on the right track.  Truth be told, I’m not the biggest fan of darkly flavored dried fruit and spice stuff like this.  I probably would have skipped this recipe, but the process looked fun, and my husband’s half Sicilian, so I thought he might like them.  Of course I tried them, too.  And while they aren’t my favorite (although, as predicted, my husband likes them quite a lot), I can see their appeal when dunked in hot coffee or eaten with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The instructions for forming the Xs were very clear.  It could have been a long process if I’d made a full batch, but I sure don’t need five dozen of them hanging around.  I did just a quarter batch for fifteen cookies.  I didn’t have any dried orange peel, so I improvised by using Grand Marnier instead of rum.

X cookies

We’re going without hosts now for TWD, so for the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  It’s also here, and there’s even a video of Nick and Julia making the cookies together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

March 19, 2013 at 1:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 20 Comments
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mocha chocolate chip cookies

I don’t think Rick Katz’s Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies are meant to be a before bed treat.  These are zippy!  Two to three tablespoons of instant coffee and a pound of chocolate may just keep you wired.  Too be honest, you could back off a bit on either of those and you’d still have a delicious chocolate chip cookie.

My dough looks dark compared to some others I saw online.  Maybe it’s because I used instant espresso instead of coffee, or because I used Billington’s molasses sugar (which is a bit stronger than regular dark brown sugar).  Anyway, I liked these a lot.  Pre-scooping the dough and then baking them straight from the fridge or freezer helps keep the cookies from spreading too much.  While I left out the suggested apricots, I used a mix of dark, milk and white chocolates because I’m crazy like that.  Also, ice cream–well, you can see what I did there.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Peggy’s Galettista Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Best-Ever Brownies

November 20, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 15 Comments
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Rick Katz’s brownies for Julia

It wasn’t until yesterday when I actually got cracking on Rick Katz’s Best-Ever Brownies, that I realized I’ve made this recipe before.  Back in Season 1 of TWD.  Only then they were called Rick Katz’s Brownies for Juila.  Different book, same recipe, same strange egg whipping technique.  I am cheaply recycling the photo, because I missed my light window both yesterday and today (curses to work!).

Well, there is one difference between the two recipes.  This version in Baking with Julia calls for 1/4 cup of extra flour.  I prefer it with that extra little bit of flour…I think it gives the brownies a bit more structure.  The batch I made yesterday looks the same as the one in the photo, but they are a little taller.  This time I made half a recipe and baked it in a 9″ x 5″ metal loaf pan lined with parchment for 30 minutes exactly.  Then I pulled them out of the oven to come to room temperature before I put them in the fridge to chill through.  I did the same thing the last time around, because I remembered this made the chocolate goo solidify into chew.  They were good brownies back then, and they are still good now.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Monica’s A Beautiful Mess.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Hazelnut Biscotti

July 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 16 Comments
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hazelnut biscotti

I’m not supposed to be home writing this post right now, but the last three days we’ve had power outages at work and closed up shop early.  Hard to work in a food business when your refrigeration is down.  I feel bad for the store owners because it’s truly a mess and they lose sales when this stuff happens, but it’s a little bonus time off for me.  Time off means time for a cookie break with Alice Medrich’s Hazelnut Biscotti!

These super-crunchy biscotti are the perfect little something on the side of a plate.  Good with coffee (naturally), ice cream or fruit.  The recipe calls for skin-on hazelnuts and has kind of a kooky method for removing the skins (just watch this video…ick).  I went a far more straight-forward route– I bought pre-blanched nuts!  I just toasted them as directed before proceeding with the dough.  A tip that worked well for many of us this week is to lightly wet your hands before shaping the dough into logs.  This helps neatly deal with the stickiness.  And I recommend slicing the cookies pretty thin after the first bake, because after the second, the cookies are so crisp that a fat cookie would be hard to bite down on.  They have proven to be good keepers, even with the heat and humidity we’ve had here this past week. 

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Jodi’s Homemade and Wholesome and Katrina’s Baking and Boys.  There’s also a video of Alice and Julia making the biscotti together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!  I kept mine pretty plain and simple, but I’m sure there are lots of fun substitutions and biscotti variations this week.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Hungarian Shortbread

May 1, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 20 Comments
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Hungarian shortbread

Glad I didn’t have to wait very long for TWD to choose Gale Gand’s Hungarian Shortbread…this recipe has been calling to me since I bought Baking with Julia years ago (but I was rather painfully pretending I couldn’t hear because of all the butter).   Shortbread dough with a homemade rhubarb jam layered in between– oh, come on.  Actually, I didn’t find rhubarb at the greenmarket in my neighborhood the weekend I made these, so I used it as an excuse to help clear out the fridge and went with store-bought jam instead (I used Sarabeth’s Plum Cherry).

I made half of a recipe, which worked wonderfully in an 8-inch square metal cake pan (I prepped it with parchment first).  The dough is pretty cinchy to layer in the pan because you freeze it and grate it….then just sprinkle the grated dough fluff right in and pat without really pressing much.  I grated my dough the old-fashioned way, but I hear a food processor works great, too. I figured my store-bought jam would likely be sweeter than a homemade rhubarb one, so I cut back on the sugar in the shortbread just a tad to compensate.  Then I added in a splash of vanilla and bumped up the salt with an extra pinch.  I didn’t want the bottom layer to be rawsies (which can sometimes happen with multilayered bar cookies), so I decided to par bake the bottom crust before adding jam and top layers.  Twenty minutes in the oven was enough to make the bottom layer look set but not browned, which was all I was going for.

I went to Budapest back in the nineties, but I didn’t have anything like this.  I’m certain I would remember, because these are really delicious (so don’t feel bad at all if you want to skip the homemade filling and use jam from the shops).  And they hold up very well refrigerated, as I can assure you, since it takes us days for the two of us to get through an 8-inch pan.  In fact, I wound up freezing the last couple of pieces before my husband and I went out of town for our anniversary this past weekend (nine years– what?!?), and they were perfect after they defrosted to room temp…even the powdered sugar on top was still intact!

Hungarian shortbread

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Lynette’s 1smallkitchen and Cher’s The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler…  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Rugelach

March 6, 2012 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 42 Comments
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rugelach

This week, Tuesdays with Dorie is celebrating Purim with Lauren Groveman’s Rugelach!  (I know it should be hamentaschen, but that one’s not in the book.)  Anyway, we made rugelach in the last round of the group, but that was years ago now, so I was more than ready to make them again this past weekend.  This version’s quite different, as it turns out.  Most noticeably, these rugalach are round spirals, not cresent-shaped.  They’re formed from slice-and-bake-style rolled logs.  And they are stuffed–almost bursting– with good things.  Things like cinnamon sugar, nuts, dried fruits and apricot or prune lekvar (a thick jam/fruit butter).  I went with walnuts, golden raisins and prune butter.

What with making the cream cheese dough and prepping the list of fillings, this recipe has a lot of steps, but you can make it a little easier on yourself if you want.  I made my dough the night before, and toasted my walnuts then, too, since I already had the oven on for dinner.  The one big shortcut I took was that I used a plum butter that I had bought at the Grenemarket in place of making my own lekvar.  I’d had that little jar of plum butter open in the refrigerator for months, so I was glad for the excuse to finish it off.  It was the consistency of a thick prune paste, anyway, so I thought it would work perfectly, and in fact any thick store-bought jam would likely do just fine.  Also, I admit I didn’t measure anything related to the fillings.  I used good judgement and eyeballed it all.  I also eyeballed the amount of filling I put into each dough roll-up.  I know when enough’s enough and I didn’t want my spirals to unravel or explode.

These taste great.  The flavors are big and warm, so I’m glad we made them while it’s still chilly where I live.  They’re thick cut, so they’re nice and sturdy.  And I am in love with the prune swirls…it looks like a letter “C” in each cookie.  So cute that even though the cookies are supposed to be completely coated in cinnamon-nut sugar, I didn’t want to hide the tops.  Instead kept the sugar concentrated on the outside of the cookies and just sprinkled a bit on top.

Here are my rugelach pointers: With all the cream cheese in the dough, it gets soft fast, so I didn’t hesitate to left it have a rest in the fridge at different stages of rolling and filling.  The dough rolls up best if the chunky things like nuts and dried fruit are chopped pretty fine.  When these guys bake, there’s a lot of jam and sugar that gets caramelized on their bottoms, and it’s best to get them off the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack as soon as you can so they don’t get stuck.  They’re sturdy enough to handle almost right out of the oven.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Margaret’s The Urban Hiker and Jessica’s My Baking Heart, as they are co-hosting this week. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.

P.S.: For something totally unrelated, enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Marshmallow Madness!

TWD Rewind: Chocolate Biscotti

January 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments
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chocolate biscotti

Today was a warm and beautiful day (what a strange winter we’ve been having over here).  Too bad I was mostly unaware of it because I work in a basement, but at least I had a nice walk home.  And now that the sun is about to set, I think I’ll plop on the couch next to an open window and watch Downton Abbey (oh, please tell me you love it, too!) while drinking tea and eating crunchy biscuits.  I’m quite certain that Mrs. Patmore didn’t make Chocolate Biscotti for the Crawleys, but I bet these are tastier than the whatever dry cookies went into the biscuit jar in those days.  These are full of flavor.  I contrasted the dark cocoa and espresso base with chunks of white chocolate and macadamia nuts.  Mmmm…they sliced and baked nicely and are good keepers, too.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Daisy Lane Cakes, as it was Jacque’s pick back in June.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Kids’ Thumbprints

December 27, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 29 Comments
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kids' thumbprints

So here is it…the last recipe TWD is baking as a group from Baking: From My Home to Yours. I’ve been in the group for close to four years, close to 200 recipes. It’s kind of hard for me to imagine that we are here at the finish line, and I almost don’t know what to say.  It’s very true that my week-to-week posts are not as wordy as they were at first, but I have still have been baking (and eating) with the same enthusiasm.  I bake professionally, but, as much as enjoy it, it is so much more satisfying to fire up the oven at home and bake for people I know and love. So, thank you, Dorie for your big, beautiful book of recipes, stories and kitchen wisdom.  My husband thanks you, too, btw…that guy has gotten quite accustomed to homemade cake and cookies!  Thank you, Laurie for your brilliant idea to start this group and to Julie for keeping it running like clockwork.  And thanks to my fellow bakers for leaving so many nice comments over the last four years and always being quick to lend advice and suggestions.  You have been so much fun to bake with and get to know!

Boy, I am talking like we are all done here, or maybe like I have just won an Oscar, and neither of those things are true.  Starting in February, TWD is switching to a different Dorie book, the classic Baking with Julia.  New members are very welcome, so if you want to join the fun you have a whole month to get the book and get on board!  And while we’re on hiatus in January, I’ll definitely be posting a least a few rewinds for the handful of BFMHTY recipes I’ve missed along the way.

I almost forgot that there are cookies to talk about!  These Thumbprints feature the classic kids’ flavor combo (which I have never outgrown), PB&J.  A peanut-coated shortbread-style cookie holds a dollop of yummy jam in the middle.  Here, I used the concord grape jam I made back in the fall.  These were good cookies, and they served as my Christmas cookies (since they were the only cookies I made).  I have some more unfilled doughballs in the freezer, and I think when I bake those I will try filling them with some chocolate in the center.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, or stop by Dorie’s blog since she is our host for this last week.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

TWD Rewind: Bittersweet Brownies (with Peppermint)

December 21, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 2 Comments
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bittersweet brownies with peppermint

I’ve been doing a lot of holiday baking…but it’s all for work…all for strangers. Home baking will largely have to wait until our customers resolve not to eat another slice of almond cake or pint of gelato or whoopie pie until Valentine’s day.  (I kind of like the holiday rush, but I love the post-holiday slow-down.) I can’t possibly miss out on the last couple weeks of TWD, though, and this week the group is giving us a chance to make up a recipe we missed.  I chose these Bittersweet Brownies specifically because I thought they might lend themselves to a little bit of Christmassy doctoring up…maybe my husband won’t feel so neglected.  Instead of espresso powder, I added a few drops of mint extract to the brownies.  And I actually do use a dropper for mint extract because things can go from a hint-of-mint to mouthwash pretty easily.

Everything came out right with these brownies. Since it’s the last brownie recipe in the book, maybe that means I’ve learned something.  The texture was perfect…rich and fudgy.  And of course they were choco-minty. I liked them best right out of the fridge. I’m going to leave one for Santa and see if I get a good present.

bittersweet brownies with peppermint

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Lethally Delicious, as Leslie chose this recipe last month.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll and see what everyone else chose to rewind this week!

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