Tuesdays with Dorie: Pecan Powder Puffs

March 29, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 12 Comments
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pecan powder puffs

Even if you’ve never heard of a Pecan Powder Puff, you probably already know what’s up with these cookies.  You’ve likely seen (and tasted) them under one of their other aliases: Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cookies, etc.  Something that goes by that many names sounds a little sneaky, but if you like nuts, they are really one of the nicest little cookies you’ll come across.

These little puffs are full of ground pecans (although you could certainly use walnuts or almonds in their place).  They get their sweetness mostly from a liberal coating of powdered sugar….preferably enough powdered sugar to make you cough a little bit…know what I mean?  They are crumbly, but melt in your mouth.  If it’s still chilly enough where you live for hot cocoa, the two are a perfect match.  I wish I’d made them a little bigger.  I wish I’d made more of them.  *sigh*

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Buttercream Barbie, as it was Tia’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Honey-Nut Brownies

March 22, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 15 Comments
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honey-nut brownies

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flipped through the book and wondered what this Honey-Nut Brownie would be like.  Well, now I don’t have to wonder anymore.  If, for you, the word “brownie” immediately calls to mind a rich, fudgey square of chocolatey goodness, then you may want to adjust your mindset a bit if you go off to make these.  There is still goodness, but it is more cakey than fudgey, and tastes more of honey than chocolate.  There is a little chocolate in the base, but “blondie” may be a better description here.  A few extra chocolate chips in the batter and a quick ganache icing on top will boost the cacao factor, though, if that’s what your after.

Even though the texture is on the cakey side, it’s still chewy, I guess thanks to the honey.  It occurred to me that slicing these brownies in half and sandwiching them with vanilla ice cream might be tasty.  That’s what I did with half of my tray (I iced the other half with ganache).  They weren’t firmed up by photo-time, but I assure you, they were pretty good!

I used Tremblay Apiaries’ Summerflower Honey and almonds in my brownies.  For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Suzy Homemaker, as it was Suzy’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Oatmeal Drops

February 15, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 24 Comments

chocolate oatmeal drops

I love chocolate.  I love oatmeal.  Naturally I’d been hoping that we’d get to make these Chocolate Oatmeal Drops sooner rather than later.  Yet, when their turn rolled around, I wasn’t at first convinced.  They seemed a little dry to me…like maybe the oats had robbed the cookies of some of their moisture.  I almost never bake off a whole batch of cookies at once though, so into the freezer went a slew of scooped out raw dough drops. 

I pulled a handful of scoops out a few days later and baked them off, shortcutting the recommended time by just a minute or so.  They were not at all raw inside, but soft and really chocolatey, just the way I’d hoped they would be.  So, now I am convinced: chocolate + oatmeal = tasty cookies. 

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Bake With Us, as Caroline and Claire picked it this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines

January 11, 2011 at 12:20 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, cookies & bars, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 26 Comments

fluff-filled chocolate madeleines

Whenever I start a new food job, my new coworkers always seem to ask me where I’m from.  I’m going through this phase at my job right now, and sometimes the question makes me scratch my head…like, what was the last place I worked for, or where did I grow up?  I’ve come to realize that, more often than not, the person asking has recently moved to NYC from someplace else, and is wondering about my hometown.  While I think a lot about the places and people I grew up with, the day I left for college in the early ’90s was the last time I was ever in my childhood home…my parents packed up and moved cross-country a few weeks later.  And, apart from the two years I spent in Sydney, I’ve been in New York since 1996.  Sometimes I think that I’m more Brooklyn than NoVA now, but I don’t, and wouldn’t ever want to, forget where I’m from.

If you asked a Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleine where it’s from, it would probably tell you, that while it was born in France, it has spent the last couple decades living in Texas.  A plate of these guys would likely not make Proust remember anything, but one taste would probably shoot most American grown-ups right back to childhood!  Apart from their scalloped shape and cakey texture, they are pretty far removed from their French origins, but with ganache and marshie Fluff, they are instantly recognizable to me.  A couple of tips if you want to make these yummies at home: if you nuke your Fluff jar for 5-10 seconds, it will be much easier to get the sticky stuff out of the jar and into a piping bag; also, madeleines stale quickly, so if you like them soft, eat them soon after they’re put together.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here on Serious Eats) or read  Effort to Deliciousness, as it was Margot’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!


Tuesdays with Dorie: Midnight Crackles

January 4, 2011 at 12:18 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 23 Comments

midnight crackles

Is there a sweeter way to celebrate both the new year and the third anniversary of TWD than with chocolatey cookies?  These little, soft, dark and spicy Midnight Crackles were Laurie and Julie’s pick for TWD’s anniversary recipe.  Here I made the “Playing Around” Chocolate Gingerbread variation, which uses some ginger, allspice and coriander in addition to the cinnamon and cloves that already scent the “regular” dough.

Apart from arming yourself with a glass of milk when you eat these, my one piece of advice is to not chill the raw dough for too long before forming it into balls.  The chocolate in dough makes it very firm, very fast.  And the just-mixed dough is a lot like Play-Doh and is easy to work with.  Bake them on the short end of the time recommendation and they are kind of brownie-like inside.  I made just half a batch, but it yielded a heap of cookies, so I have a stash of unbaked dough balls in my freezer– ready for when the midnight munchies strike.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read the TWD blog.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

P.S.: On Dorie’s blog, she has an idea for using this same dough to make roll-out cookies.  Take a look!

Glitter Ball Cookies

December 29, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, sweet things | 10 Comments

glitter ball cookies

I like sparkly things.  Sequins, glitter, rhinestones, metallics…totally mesmerizing.  Well, ’tis the season for sparkly things, and for New Year’s Eve, why not make cookies with some bling?  These little Glitter Balls are just shortbread rounds dressed up in shimmery sugar.  Festive little head-turners…and tasty, too.

Happy New Year!!

glitter ball cookies

Glitter Ball Cookies- makes 12 double cookies
adapted from marthastewart.com

Steph’s Note: While the suggested filling here is flavored with ginger, you can flavor it with anything you wish.  I actually made mine almond instead (using extract), but vanilla, lemon and rum are other tasty-sounding options.

for the cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
sanding sugar, in assorted colors

for the filling
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon honey

-Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.

-Beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down side of bowl as necessary.  Beat in vanilla.  Reduce speed to low; add flour, and mix just until combined.  Shape into 3/4-inch balls (chill dough if too sticky).

-Place sanding sugar in shallow bowls. Roll each ball in sanding sugar, and place on baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart.  If you find that the sugar won’t stick, lightly wet one hand, and roll the cookie first in your hand just to dampen, and then roll in sugar.

-Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are lightly golden, 15 to 18 minutes. let cookies cool completely on a wire rack.

-While the cookies cool, make the filling by beating all ingredients by hand or with an electric mixer on medium high speed until smooth.

– Spread two cookies with just enough filling to allow them to stick together.

Eggnog Snickerdoodles

December 10, 2010 at 5:28 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, sweet things | 7 Comments

eggnog snickerdoodles

Every December I have these grand plans for holiday cookie baking…and that’s as far as I get.  Plans, but no cookies. What I should really do is host a cookie swap– make one big batch of cookies and invite my other baker friends over to trade away for a fabulous variety. I’ll work on getting that together next year, because I think it would be tons of fun (especially if Christmas cocktails are involved!), and I’ll be sure to consult my new book The Cookie Party Cookbook by Robin Olson for the organizational low-down.  Did you know there are rules to hosting a cookie swap?  Glad I have the book, because I had no idea.  My cookie exchange would have been lawless, sugar-fueled chaos!

This book is not just about rules and tips, of course.  It has heaps of recipes…homey recipes, straight from the kitchens of the author and the friends and family she’s been exchanging with for years.  Some of the recipes are not my really style, but I tape-flagged a whole mess of them that I’m eager to try.  I couldn’t resist making Eggnog Scickerdoodles first.  The boozy, nutmeg flavor of eggnog gets me jazzed about Christmas, and I’ve already declared my love for snickerdoodles here.  These are buttery, chewy and really do remind me of eggnog.  A definite contender for next year’s cookie exchange!

Eggnog Snickerdoodles- makes about 40 cookies
adapted from The Cookie Party Cookbook by Robin Olson

Steph’s Note:  While I usually think I can find anything I could ever want in NYC, sometimes that’s just not true.  I couldn’t find rum or bandy extracts in my local grocery stores, so I just subbed a teaspoon each of the real things.

for the dough
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 teaspoon brandy extract
2 large eggs

for the nutmeg-sugar mixture
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 cup sugar, colored or plain

-Heat oven to 400°F/200°C.  Line baking sheets with parchment.

-In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs and beat well, followed by the extracts.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and beat until well blended.  

-Stir together the nutmeg and sugar in small bowl. Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart onto the lined cookie sheets.

-Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned (less time if you prefer softer cookies).  Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Please note that the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin, sent me a copy of this book.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Translucent Maple Tuiles

December 7, 2010 at 10:14 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 16 Comments

translucent maple tuiles

I’ve had a busy last couple of weeks, with back-to-back sets of houseguests to entertain, take care of and clean up after.  It was fun, but I’m glad to be back to my regular routine…and that includes getting my Tuesday TWD post up.

Luckily, this week’s pick, courtesy of Clivia of Bubie’s Little Baker, couldn’t be easier.  The world’s simplest cookie dough, made of just maple syrup, brown sugar, butter and flour, gets a quick-mix by hand.  After a brief rest in the fridge, and only seven minutes in the oven, Translucent Maple Tuiles are ready!  Tuiles are crispy, buttery, lacy-thin cookies.  The coolest thing about a tuile is that, while still warm from the oven, it’s pliable.  If you don’t want to cool your tuiles flat on a rack, you can gently curve them around a rolling pin, or roll them more tightly, like cannoli tubes.

I followed Clivia’s suggestion to use a “shave” less butter than the recipe called for.  They come out of the oven a little greasy, so I was glad I did.  R and I enjoyed our maple tuiles with a little bowl of ice cream. 

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or Bubie’s Little Baker.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Peanuttiest Blondies

November 2, 2010 at 1:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 21 Comments

peanuttiest blondies

As evidenced by the little bit of blur along the plate rim on the bottom left, I am apparently not quite grown up enough to have a set of unchipped plates.  If I did act my age, though, I may not have appreciated these Peanuttiest Blondies as much as I did.  With hunks of chocolate and peanuts, and lots of peanut butter, they tasted remarkably like a favorite candy bar of mine (which I ate way too many of on Sunday night, by the way).  A nice crackly top and chewy on the inside gives them a homebaked feel.  I think I’ll wrap one up and take it to the polls with me today.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, or read Bakeologie, as it was Nicole’s choice for TWD this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!  I’m interested to see if anyone else had this sinking middle (why? they were not underbaked–wacky, right?).

Tuesdays with Dorie: Peanut Butter Crisscrosses

September 7, 2010 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 27 Comments

peanut butter crisscrosses

Sometimes I’ve wondered how I would function if I had to share living space with someone allergic to peanuts.  My peanut butter addiction just might force me to move out. I can’t imagine not being able to have a PB&J for lunch or, say, these Peanut Butter Crisscrosses for a treat.

Peanut butter cookies are one of those childhood things that I’ve never tired of (one of many, I will admit!).  These ones are soft and chewy, as a good peanut butter cookie should be, and the sugar sprinkled on top gives them just the right amount of crunch.  The recipe was pretty clear about not using natural PB here, but that was what I had, so that was what I used.  To make it a little more like the kiddie brands, I put in a squeeze of golden syrup.  I also swapped a little AP with a little whole wheat flour.  I don’t think anyone would be able to call me out on either of these changes.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, or read Jasmine Cuisine, as it was Jasmine’s choice for TWD this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Speaking of peanuts…has anyone noticed the peanut flour Trader Joe’s is now selling in with the baking stuff?  Has anyone baked with it?  I am curious…

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