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 →
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 easy to get tucked into the cradle of comfort in the kitchen: bake the same things over and over, use tried and true recipes in your back pocket or from the very best food bloggers or cookbook authors. Tweak nothing. Why diverge from what works, has always worked, has been proven to work? But when you want to turn your favorite oatmeal into cookies, tried and true doesn’t always translate. So this week, with a little time on my hands, I experimented with versions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of peaches and cream oatmeal cookies.
Spring has finally arrived: the sun is out this week, and rhubarb has been spotted — and picked through and procured — at the Union Square Greenmarket. “O, frabjous day! Callooh, callay!” she chortled in her joy. But what to do with these nearly neon pinky-green, celery-like stalks? Especially when trucked-in, beat-up strawberries are still upwards of $6 or $7 at the supermarket? Can rhubarb stand alone? The answer, unabashedly, is yes. And with a sweet, crackly, crumbly crisp envelope and a touch of orange, they shine as brightly as that sun out there. 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.
What do you do when you miraculously find a bit of extra time on a weekday and are preparing for a half marathon? You bake peanut butter cookies, of course.
I took most of last week off from running, trying to heal up what I think was a bit of tendonitis in my foot before the Brooklyn Half Marathon on Saturday. It’s sort of amazing how much free time I have when I don’t run. Don’t get me wrong, I need it for my health and my sanity and I’m glad I have the ability to do it (read: no serious injuries), but it was nice to be able to spend time cooking, relaxing, and finally baking — on a weeknight.
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.
Simplicity. It’s something I fear losing as I delve deeper and deeper into this food blogging thing, deeper and deeper into the world of the locavore. The other week I melted some chocolate and swirled in some peanut butter. Tried to let it set, become a creamy candy bar, but my impulse control left me and I ate it straight from the bowl, warm and melty and messy. It was heaven. And I didn’t tell you about it. It’s a relic from my teenage years, but just doesn’t seem sophisticated enough, mature enough, detailed enough, for a culinary blog. What is happening to us?
Yet besides experimenting with marshmallows and croissants, simple is oftentimes all I do. Simple is what I turn to when I need to whip up a batch of something for a dinner party or a whiskey party or a barbeque and I don’t have the time or attention span to devote to a tart or a cake. Simple is usually cookies these days, but simple used to always be brownies. These magical brownies, to be precise (not to be confused with “magic” brownies). This is a two-bowl, once in the oven recipe, which tickles me. Chocolate and butter. Salt and sugar. Vanilla and eggs. And flour — but just a little bit. No leaveners, no hand mixers or stand mixers, no food processors required. Just a couple of bowls and measuring spoons and cups, and a bit of love and magic. Continue reading →
I know for the last days of Hanukkah I should probably be making jelly doughnuts. Or a jelly doughnut cake. But sufganiyot, the traditional treat served during the Festival of Lights, was never high on my mother’s dessert agenda, and I’m not sure we ever tried convincing her otherwise. Once, as an adult, I fried up some apple cider doughnuts for our Hanukkah feast, but have since realized they’re much better baked. And although I’ve had no problem stopping at Dunkin Donuts for some chocolate honey glazed (which, I think in this day and age, is no longer glazed with honey, but rather some other sugary concoction) to share around the menorah, rugelach is more in line with my family tradition. And unlike fried doughnuts (but not fried cookies), they’ll last for more than one sitting. I’m also gearing up to try my hand at croissants, so I may as well work on my crescent-rolling technique now, right?
This year I set out to do something a bit different from the traditional. At least, traditional in my family. My mom’s recipe, which comes from my grandma’s Romanian side of the family, is filled with sugar, cinnamon, and chopped walnuts. Actually pretty perfect for this time of year. But I must be stuck in some other dimension because my December treats have been suspiciously lacking in chocolate, and this must be amended immediately. This year we’re going to make rugelach of the babka variety: chocolate and cinnamon; tender and bittersweet. Sort of like 2014. But that’s a whole other story.