In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not a huge fan of cake as we know it. I’m pretty thrilled when I pull off a layer cake, and I swoon at Molly Yeh’s gorgeous creations, but I’ll almost never go into a bakery, look at the cake options, and say, “ooh, I’ll take a slice of that, please.” In fact, for our wedding we had a rustic and delicious pie station with three sweet and tart options to sample and devour (apple, pumpkin, and cranberry pear, of course) in lieu of the traditional, schmancy multi-tier wedding cake, and our guests didn’t even miss it. But — combine a cake with a brownie, flavor it with almond and orange, and call it a torte, and I will throw my hat back in the cake ring with relish. Continue reading →
When people ask me what my favorite dessert is, I usually say, without hesitation, apple pie. Please don’t make me a cake for my birthday — in fact, for our wedding we cut into a small pumpkin cake just for tradition’s sake but had a table of fall fruit pies for all our guests (and us, of course). But guys, I’m at that point in the year when I’m kind of over fruit and I want everything to be chocolate. I want all cookies, all the time. ‘Tis the season, right? And while I am definitely shoving many peanut butter blossoms in my face each day, I also have been craving the more refined variety. There’s nothing better on a cold winter’s day than an afternoon coffee or hot cocoa and a crunchy biscotti — unless it’s these Mexican Hot Chocolate Biscotti. These are biscotti on an even higher plane.
This one goes out to all you marathoners out there. All you celiacs. All you vegans. This is the back-pocket recipe I wish I had over the last two years, when I was training my ass off, hungry all the time and only half-heartedly fooling myself into thinking I could eat whatever I wanted. These vegan, gluten-free chocolate peanut butter banana energy bites have everything I want in a sweet, satisfying treat, and nothing I don’t need. Continue reading →
For years, it seems, Ray has been asking me to make a French silk pie, and every single time I’ve balked. It just never appealed to me. I’m not a fan of most whipped frostings and most whipped mousses — unless they’re drenched with flavor. Flipping through Cindy Mushet’s The Art and Soul of Baking a few weeks ago, though, I stumbled upon a chocolate silk pie that sounded leagues more sophisticated than anything I ever imagined French silk pie to be — it looked, in essence, like a chocolate truffle pie. It sounded decadent, dense, and rich — and quite a bit less cool-whippy than I always thought it traditionally was. And, to make it even more enticing, the crust was to be made from Oreos. Now this was the sort of silk pie I could get behind. This would be his birthday surprise. Continue reading →
Do you remember when life was simple and all you needed for a delicious, well-earned, just-baked dessert was a Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie? Cream the butter and sugars, add the eggs and vanilla, add the flour mixture in three portions, stir in chocolate chips, bake at 375 degrees. In our quest for always better, always different, always new, I wonder if we’ve sort of lost sight of the basics. I’ve seen gorgeous recipes for dishes and desserts with 4,000 ingredients that you never thought to put together. I, myself, proudly brown my butter and whisk it with sugar and eggs in four different stages, because, yes, I really, really like these cookies. These are the ones I want in my life every single damn day. And last week, I finally replenished my tahini supply and made these lovely Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies from Danielle Oron’s book Modern Israeli Cooking, reprinted earlier this year in the New York Times. Like the brown butter chocolate chip cookies, they straddle the classic and the different, yet are still entirely simple to make — you even cream the butter and sugar, like the olden days! Continue reading →
It’s amazing what happens when one piece of a seemingly complex puzzle falls into place, and you realize it was never complex at all. Simply different, maybe a little foreign, and rare — for the time being. That’s how it was with chouquettes, but they’re merely a template — a very simple template — for all the wonderful things you can fill choux pastry with. I’m riding that French pastry train through the woods, past pristine rivers and pines, and into Paris. Next stop: Éclairs. All aboard! Choux-choux! Continue reading →
I have a confession to make: I absolutely, positively can’t stand Mariah Carey’s silly, saccharine “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” Earth-shattering, I know. But there are few songs that fill me with rage deep enough to make me threaten to leave a party. I don’t know what it is. It’s just so — happy. And catchy. It’s in my head as I type this, threatening to overpower my vocabulary with generic, candy-coated truths. I mean, the sentiment is nice. The sentiment of the lyrics I generally agree with. I don’t need Santa to bring me toys either. I just want the love of my life. And cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. But I’ll be singing the praises of these deliciously perfect mint mocha crinkle cookies in the deliciously dark key of F minor.
When you make the decision to sign up for a marathon, you are essentially giving up a large portion of your life for one third of a year. Last year, my first, was hard. Adjusting to running five days a week, up to 22 miles at a time, was rough on my body, but not necessarily on my mind. Last year, I had the luxury of flexibility. I had lost my job just two weeks before my training was set to begin. If it was going to rain in the evening, I could get my miles in in the morning — and not just at the crack of dawn in order to make it into an office at a decent hour. I could do it whenever I felt like it, whenever the weather permitted. This year is a whole new ballgame. I once again have a relatively low-mileage schedule to make it easier on my injury-prone body. But the intense heat of the summer has forced me into 6:00 a.m. workouts or earlier, freeing up my evenings, yes, but leaving me so exhausted that I can do no more than throw together an easy dinner (preferably without an oven or extended stovetop-time) before I feel I can do more than sit on the couch and stare at something — with my legs elevated, of course — and eat ice cream.
All too often, we spend too much time apologizing for words and actions, or silence and inactions, for which we have no reason to apologize. For speaking too quietly, for asking someone to repeat something he said. For having dinner ready half an hour later than we intended. For asking for help. And for not baking, or writing a blog post, for two and a half weeks. I want to say I’m sorry. I want to throw myself at the mercy of the few of you who read this blog, apologize for having external deadlines, interviews, a raging stomach flu. But I won’t.
Instead, I’ll present to you this gorgeous flourless chocolate cake. Hailing from the brain of the wonderful David Lebovitz, it has four ingredients that you very well might already have in your pantry, and is an easy go-to for a last-minute dinner party — or, hell, a last-minute chocolate craving. I made this for the second night of Passover, when I was no longer sick but hadn’t had any energy to go running around looking for matzoh meal or cake meal or even almonds or hazelnuts or coconut. What I did have was nearly a whole Pound-Plus Bar of bittersweet chocolate, eggs, sugar, and butter. And, with only a few minutes of prep, it was probably the only thing I had the energy to stand in my kitchen for.
What grounds you? For me it’s the gentle purr of a cat. The peaceful fall of snow against lamplight. A warm, firm embrace. And cinnamon. No matter where my mind is, whether it be under stress or on the high of a possible opportunity — an electrical current coursing — they bring me back down to earth. They give me a moment to pause, to breathe, to close my eyes and smile.
So when it snowed on the first day of spring, my brain frustrated from staring at research and trying to edit on an 11-inch screen, I stepped into my kitchen and watched our one tree being blanketed swiftly with white as the sky became greyer and greyer, then darkened towards nightfall, pink and purple in the cloudy city sky, and knew that I also needed to inhale the aroma of butter and chocolate and oatmeal and cinnamon. The frustration of technology, and not having a printer, required a double dose of grounding. I needed oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies to connect me back with the earth, my sanity, myself.