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!
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.
P.S.: On Dorie’s blog, she has an idea for using this same dough to make roll-out cookies. Take a look!
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- 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.
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!
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.
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.
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?).
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.
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…
Let me tell you right off the bat: these Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies that Donna of Life’s Too Short Not to Eat Dessert First picked for TWD…I love them! Maybe this has something to do with the fact that the first time I had one, it was made by Dorie herself. My friend Lauren and I braved a load of snow to visit Dorie’s pop-up CookieBar back in February, and I bought heaps of cookies. All were delicious, but the Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread was my clear favorite.
I’ve made them a handful of times since, and they’ve come out every bit as good as the ones Dorie made. Of course they taste like coffee and chocolate, which is reason enough to like them, and they have that crisp-yet-melt-in-your-mouth texture of great shortbread. I refuse to think about the winter holidays when it’s 90º outside, but if I were to think about packing up holiday cookies, these would be a great addition to the standards.
Natalia of gatti fili e farina chose Gingered Carrot Cookies for TWD– an overlooked recipe whose time I’m glad has come. These cookies are full of tasty bits and are just sweet enough. At first glance, the recipe looks like it might make carrot cake in cookie form. Shredded carrots and coconut, raisins, ginger and pecans…I was certainly surprised to see mine bake up as little hearty, lumpy-bumpy mounds instead. Dorie says these are scone-like, and she’s right (of course she is– it’s her recipe afterall). If I’d thought to scoop out a couple of triple-size ones, I bet they would have made a great breakfast!
I never make blondies (except for this batch, obviously). I don’t know why…they are like chocolate chip cookies on steroids, and who wouldn’t like that? Nicole of Cookies on Friday picked Chewy, Chunky Blondies for TWD, and they are certainly juiced up with chocolate chips, toffee (or butterscotch) chips, walnuts and coconut.
I love butterscotch, but I hate those fake-tasting chips…I still have toffee bits left in the freezer from the Caramel Crunch Bars (yeah, apparently they last forever), and I was happy to use those instead. With all that’s going on in these blondies, I wanted to tame the sweetness a little, so I cut back just a bit on the sugar and used unsweetend coconut flakes.