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Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

tipple and cookies

A friend who has very discerning tastes in matters of, well, taste, gave me this combination as a gift, suggesting that they’re best consumed together. I couldn’t wait, of course, and tore into the cookie package and had one (numnumnum..what Bing marshmallow experiment?). You don’t have to sell me on salt or brown butter; I make the latter just to have on hand, in case I get inspired. The cookie was scrumptious, but almost the tiniest tad bit too salty (and I like salt! Despite what all those nutritionists have told me during interviews over the years…).

A couple of days later, I did right by her recommendation.

grown-up snack time

And…balance achieved! The sweet, thick port offset the buttery cookies; I could feel the liquid dissolving the salt crystals, a perfect flavor amalgam of richness and bite. I felt like I had made something by having the combination, too, like how Seinfeld used to say about dumping milk into cereal. How’s that for accomplishment.

I’ve been told by pro food people that chocolate and wine don’t go together—both are acidic and mute each other’s flavors—but this is the cocoa-and-wine combo you can get away with and enjoy.

Do it!

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hazelnut kipferls

Alright, my holiday-baking friends: what doughs are you elbow deep in right now? Mexican wedding cake cookies? Pignolis? Or the gool ‘ol classic gingersnaps? If I can muster up the energy, I might whip up a batch or two of some hazelnut kipferls, which are lip-smacking cookies that don’t have a big enough presence in my life. Come find me sometime during Xmas day, and I might just have a few leftover. You better hope that there’s not another foot-tall snowfall, because you might just go weak-kneed after tasting these and then you won’t be able to get home. Which is fine, because I’ve missed you for the past four months and we can spend some QT together.

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…can take a toll (ha ha) per the news about Nestle’s recall and the e. coli outbreak. Seriously, though, e. coli is no laughing matter, and food-borne illnesses happen too often these days: ground beef, spinach, onions, peanut butter, and so on. “Shiga-toxin? It’s the shits,” my ServSafe Food Safety instructor once alliterated. Happy to see, though, that New York State is not in the yellow on this outbreak map…yet.

Tubes of cookie dough encased in sausage-casing plastic make me sad. No one’s life can be that busy or saved that much by convenience. Why not make it yourself, and as a bonus, sidestep the diarrhea? It’s the easiest recipe—takes five minutes to throw together. You can leave out the eggs, even, and eat it raw without consequences.  Do it for your tummy.

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Salty shortbread cookies wearing chocolate pants

Salted shortbread cookies wearing chocolate pants

I spent Saturday morning tempering chocolate for these salted shortbread cookies (above), which will be a part of a cookie plate at a luncheon my sister is hosting.

chocolate

It reminded me why I like to consume chocolate, not temper it. It seems like a pretty simple process—take it up to 122 degrees, bring it down to 81, then take it back up to 86—but it sometimes doesn’t work out and you have no idea why. Is it humidity? Barometric pressure? Sometimes it just likes to be mercurial and you must try and try again and conquer it.

Taste-wise, there’s a playful balance here between the salt and the sweet and the chocolate. I could give you the recipe, but then I’d have to kill you. I kid! If you’d like it, please write me.

I also made Martha Stewart’s carrot cake cookies with cream cheese icing for the plate. You can get the recipe online or in the book.

sea of carrot cookies

Sea of carrot cookies

I’m generally against the idea of and weirded out by carrot cake (‘Why is there a vegetable in my cake??’) but these are plain delicious. The cookies are chewy, and the sweetness of the icing is just right, plus I used really flavorful (and happened to be organic) carrots and golden raisins. I took some to a gathering after (related post coming) and friends gobbled them up.

carrot cake sandwich cookies

The third part of the cookie plate were sesame tuiles. They’re normally light and thin and crispy, but I didn’t take any photos as they turned out, er, not so light, thin, and crispy. To get them looking perfect, you need a tuile template, or an infinite amount of patience to spread the batter evenly in a uniform shape on the Silpat. But after the chocolate, the tuiles were an uphill battle. Here’s to hoping the shortbread and carrot cookies will distract the guests.

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Break time!

Break time!

These are great everyday cookies. They won’t knock your socks off like a special-occasion City Bakery or a Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookie (I’m still waiting to try that recipe), but they surely do you right when you need one, right about…now.

The cookie part is buttery and crumbly, and there’s something for everyone (that really means all the voices in my head) with the mix of the different kinds of chocolate chips.

And I will lay off the Mark Bittman for a bit…at least for a week.

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What other sight promises more comfort?

What other sight promises more comfort?

From the May 5th “Freeze That Thought” story in the Times. Contrary to popular belief, something can be frozen and still be fresh. Of course, freezing has its limits, too, like that unidentifiable piece of meat that’s now encrusted with an icy fur coat (…is it…breathing??!). But the freezer is a very valuable tool to bakers. You can freeze cookie and eclair doughs, for instance, for at least a couple of weeks, even months, and the day you bake them you can call tell your friends “Fresh Baked!” and you wouldn’t be lying. Nearly magical!

I fussed only with the chocolate content here: 1/3 milk chocolate chips, 1/3 bittersweet chocolate chips, and 1/3 unsweetened chocolate, because I like it extra bitter to offset the sweetness of the dough—matches my emotional makeup, and indecisiveness. I once watched a demo by Alain Sailhac, former chef at Le Cirque and now dean at FCI, and he said some chefs taught him to fully peel rhubarb and others told him not to peel rhubarb at all, so he now just peels half of it. So, can’t decide between milk, bittersweet, semisweet, or unsweetened? Throw them all in there!

Will bake off and report soon.

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I sincerely would love to sit here in this still, cramped corner in a small NYC apartment and provide some sort of pastry-related distraction to you, dear, lovely, patient readers. Alas, I have a long list of to-dos, and a tic, itching to check all the boxes off. Whether any of the list items will bring me money in the long run I don’t know for now, but here’s to hoping.

In the meanwhile, I will leave you with this photo hodge-podge.

In season now, strawberries at the farmer’s market. Hellooooo fruit tarts and jam and muddled strawberry-rhubarb cocktails.

At Philips Farm on Saturdays

At Philips Farm on Saturdays

This swan holds half a cup of sugar:

Once, an ugly duckling cup measure

Once, it was an ugly-duckling cup measure

And lastly, a word to the wise: Do not add a cocktail mixer as a substitute for actual liqueur to flavor macaron batter. I learned the hard way this weekend, thinking this below would suffice for cassis. But it was fun, eating macarons like those candy buttons that come stuck on paper.

When life gives you lemons, just eat them off the paper

When life gives you lemons, make like candy buttons

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