Posts tagged Desserts

Fall Into Baking For Friends

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

My living room (this is where I do most of my laying and writing of this blog, thought you should know about the recent updates to my space)

The best part about autumn in New York, aside from the obvious - like no longer sweating, wearing hoodies, phenomenal hair weather, diving into a more neutral make-up palette (I can’t pull off reds when I’m pale, but boy did I hit the jackpot on some gorgeous pouty pink lipsticks), rocking big, bold colored scarves with long sleeved tees and reuniting with my couch after a long summer of running around …


Me and my oven are back together, bitches. 

The best part about baking this bodacious chocolate chip banana bread pictured above … giving it to a man that I adore.  

My buddy, Crobin, just completed his first short film.  A labor of love, Alan Smithee is a coming of age story, telling the tale of a young boy - who’s somewhat of a loner - growing up on Long Island.  I was lucky enough to attend a screening of the film, which left me happy, sad and wanting to live in Crobin’s brain for just one day.

I keep asking him if I can, but he won’t let me.

Please, watch the trailer - you’ll be intrigued and swept away with stunning visuals.  The trailer is big, and the film - with it’s killer audio, stellar writing and cast - make Alan Smithee memorable.  We all have a part of Alan in us.

I’m so glad Crobin completed this film and that he’s sharing it with the world.

Chocolate chip banana bread was his nom request, since it wasn’t feasible to bake enough for all of the folks at the screening.

Here’s to Fall, films, baking and big dreams coming true.

Thanks for inspiring me to turn on my oven, buddy.


Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

3 c. bananas (mashed)
1/4 c. milk
1 T. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 c. sugar
1 stick of butter (room temp)
2 eggs 
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking sode
1 tsp. salt
1-1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocoalte chips 

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
-Place flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl a whisk.  Put aside.
-In a large bowl, mash bananas, add milks, cinnamon and nutmeg. Put aside.
-Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing until incorporated.
-Add banana mixture to creamed mixture and stir until combined.
-Little by little,  incorporate dry mixture to wet mixture until flour is mixed in (do this gently).
-Fold in chocolate chips.
-Pour batter into prepared loaf pan (and place on a large baking sheet in case there’s any overflow while baking) and bake for 50-60 minutes until deep brown and testing toothpick comes out dry. 


Sunday, October 7, 2012   ()

Gather Up Your Peaches

Peach Crumb Cake 

It’s official, I haven’t been on a date in a year.  I love love, thoughts of it make me warm and fuzzy - but so do large slices of cake and plastic containers teeming with tripe in a spicy broth.   

I’ve recently enrolled in a Spanish class, joined a gym, and am looking forward to knife skills and butchering courses in August.  I’ve been spending less time on my couch and more time in the world.  Long walks about the neighborhood, food tours, weekend food bazaars, and weaving in and out of grocery stores have also been inspiring and tasty - and I look forward to sharing more food finds.  I’m tired and a little bit cranky (because I thrive on 8-9 hours of sleep and routine), but I might’ve needed to break up with my couch for a little while (at least for the summer months) while I discover new things about myself.

Keeping in my good faith of cooking and baking when I have the chance (because I so firmly believe that a happy home and mind come from taking the time to cook your own food - even when it’s not the healthiest option) - I’m taking the opportunity (with every walk) - to notice the little things that make me remember what summer is all about.   

Lately, every where I turn, there seems to be a luscious offering of peaches begging to be bought.  Since my last round was used for peaches and wine, I wanted to make a cake with my newest bag of fuzzy finds.    

A friend and I were discussing that peaches are delicious right now. I’ve made purchases every where - from the farmers market, to Key Food, to local fruit stores, the guy with the cart on my street corner and even the neighborhood bodega.  

Not a bad one in the batch.  

Every summer I like to whip out my sour cream coffee cake recipe and fill her up with fruit.  Ok, I do this multiple times a summer because I’m a lazy baker and I know this recipe always works.  Whether I add fruit, chocolate chips, nuts or keep it pure and plain, it’s always moist and delicious.

Peach Crumb Cake
*Adapted from this Sour Cream Blueberry Muffin Recipe which is a spin off of my mom’s banana cake recipe.  One day I will put in the work and make the banana cake recipe for real.  I smell an autumn project.  

For Cake

1 stick of butter (room temperature)
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. sour cream
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
5 peaches (skin removed, cubed and sprinkled with 3 T. of white sugar) 

For Crumble

2/3 c. flour
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 c. toasted almonds (finely chopped) 
6 T. butter melted

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Coat an angel food cake pan (a bundt also works) with non-stick cooking spray
-Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and put aside
-Set sliced peaches in a bowl and mix with 3 T. of white sugar and put aside
-With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar
-Beat in eggs and vanilla
-Fold in sour cream
-Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix until full incorporated
-Pour 1/2 of the batter into the greased baking angel food cake pan and layer with peaches - the spread the remaining batter on top
-To a  medium bowl, add additional flour, brown sugar, almonds and cinnamon together and mix with a fork
-Add melted butter and mix until crumbles form
-Sprinkle over the top of batter and bake for 45-50 minutes

Tuesday, July 24, 2012   ()

A Celebration of Friendship

Sour Cream Mini-Muffins (some filled with salted Nutella)

Stef and I have been best friends since the age of 12.  Thanks to her mom and dad, I experienced family vacations, delicious Entenmann’s cakes for breakfast, became a fan of classic rock, and had an audience to laugh at my jokes.  Most nights we would hang in Stef’s bedroom, watching Arsenio, talking and listening to dancehall classics, while her parents sat in the living room.  One time, I emerged from Stef’s bedroom with a pillow stuffed up the back of my olive green t-shirt.  I walked from the bedroom to the living room, dragging my right leg behind, hanging my head down so my hair covered the front of my face.  I approached her parents and said hello in my best Quasimodo voice.  Stef and I had recently seen the movie when we were vacationing with her grandparents upstate.  I showcased what I learned on vacation. They laughed.  To this day I’ll still do anything for a laugh, even if it’s sort of wrong.  Sometimes I think about curbing my inappropriateness, but instead I’ve surrounded myself with people who delight in it.      

After school Stef would get off of the bus at her house, and then I was dropped off  just 6 blocks away.  The minute I walked in, I grabbed the phone and retreated to my room.  I called Stef.  I don’t even know what we talked about, it couldn’t have been anything ground breaking, we were together all day.  It was a ritualistic phone call for comfort.  I escaped my loud uncles, my grandparents and my brother Lou.  Phone calls with Stef were my quiet, and my days wouldn’t have been the same without them.  Often times we wouldn’t even talk, the only thing that could be heard on each end was a shuffle from bedroom to refrigerator, the movement of some tupperware or jars, and the sound of air.  

The sound of air …
We were simultaneously squirting Reddi-Whip in our mouths while we were on the phone.  Ladies indeed.  Bonded for life.  

Stef’s friendship filled me with new experiences, like my first concert to see George Thorogood, road-trips, roller coaster rides, science museums, unconditional love and food.  

She knows me.  She knows of my intense feelings for Nutella and we’ve both sat, spoons in hand, passing the jar back and forth across the kitchen table.  Since age 12, we’ve replaced Reddi-Whip phone calls with double dipping spoons into Costo sized jars of Nutella.  

We’ve turned into sophisticated women who live in lovely new homes, and we’ve taken with us our dirty habits.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I wouldn’t want us to be any other way when we’re together.    

A few weeks ago, at 3pm, my bewitching hour for sweets and coffee after the lunch slump,  she hit me when I needed a high.   I saw an email from Stef, I love a mid-day email from Stef.  The email contained a recipe for Nutella muffin-doughnuts.

Bitch!  I was having dirty mid-day fantasies and I hadn’t baked in months.  I can’t lie, I’ve been thinking about these Nutella stuffed treats for weeks.  

Last night I came home, no intention to bake, but somehow I found myself in my kitchen.

National Nutella Day was February 5th.
National Doughnut Day was Friday, June 1st.
My birthday is tomorrow, so why not let Nutella and mini-muffin meet on June 5th?
Hybrid holiday!    

I altered the recipe slightly, replacing milk with sour cream, skipping the cinnamon in the batter and adding salt to the Nutella.  I also went the route of shooting the Nutella into the muffin with a pastry bag, although Desi didn’t use that method.  I opted to leave some muffins plain, simply rolling in butter and cinnamon/sugar.  

My only wish is that Stef were here to have them with me.  

Sour Cream Mini-Muffins (some filled with salted Nutella)
*makes 24

1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt 
1/3 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. sour cream
1 egg
1 T. vanilla extract
1/2 c. white sugar
Nutella mixed with Sea salt
1 stick of butter (melted)
Sugar & Cinnamon

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Coat a small muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray and put aside
-Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl
-Whisk oil, sour cream, egg, vanilla and sugar in a large bowl  
-Using an electric mixer (on the lowest speed), combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients
-Spoon batter into muffin tin (until full) and bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes (timing may vary depending on your oven, I’m finding everything I make in my new power house oven bakes a lot quicker than normal)
-Remove muffins from tin and allow to cool on a wire rack
-Fill pastry bag with salted Nutella and inject chocolaty hazelnut goodness into each mini-muffin 
*I left some plain, Desi recommends filling with your favorite fruit jam - but I’ll pass on that 
-Once each muffin is filled, dip in melted butter and roll in sugar

Tuesday, June 5, 2012   ()

Salty & Sweet Treats

When a friend is pregnant, it’s only right to bake some sweets when swinging by for a visit.

When a friend comes for dinner and you both end up drunk, sitting on the couch, talking the night away - instead of going out to meet dudes, which was the original plan - snacking becomes necessary.

The below oatmeal cookies were inspired by a Gale Gand recipe, but I’ve made some tweaks.  The peanut butter popcorn was just some drunk concoction that ended up working.  I made round two of the popcorn because I wanted to see if it held up in sobriety, and it turns out the drunk concoction was even better the second time around - with the addition of honey roasted peanuts.  

Crispy Oatmeal Cookies

3 sticks butter
1 c. white sugar
1 c. light brown sugar
1 egg
1 T. vanilla extract
3 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 T. kosher salt
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
Fleur de sel for topping

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Mix flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl and put aside
-Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, then add vanilla and egg and continue to mix well
-Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until combined
-Spoon batter on to baking sheet and sprinkle each cookie with fleur de sel
-Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes or until deep golden brown
-Let cool on tray for 2-3 minutes before attempting to place on a wire rack (the cookies are thin and delicate)

Peanut Butter Popcorn

10-12 c. popped popcorn
3/4 c. peanut butter
2/3 c. honey
1/4 c. white sugar
1 c. honey roasted peanuts
Kosher salt

-Mix honey and sugar in a large pot and let boil
-Lower flame, add peanut butter and mix until peanut butter is completely melted
-Remove from heat, add popcorn and peanuts and toss to coat - sprinkling salt while tossing/coating
-Place popcorn on large baking sheets, let cool and serve


Monday, May 21, 2012   ()

I’m Coming Out

Orecchiette With Broccolirabe, Broccoli Florets and Sausage

Jamaican Rock Buns

Jack Daniels Apple Cake

Recipes follow story

I’m not going to lie, I can’t, not here.  I’m always honest in this space.  I’ve been going through somewhat of a cereal  eating, lay on my couch and watch stand-up comedy phase - while burrowed in blankets and protecting myself from the world.

A downward spiral of thinking about family, dudes, should I go out - I should go out - but I don’t want to go out, has been numbing me.  Numbing me so much I have no new meals, stories or anything to speak of.  I’m a tank of this weird combination of elation and melancholy.  I know, it doesn’t seem possible to be both happy and depressed at once - but I am and I have mastered a balance with this shit which makes me OK.

The equation is:  happiness + sadness + accepting times will be good and shit = YOU’RE OK 

The Happiness:

To be on my couch eating cinnamon toast crunch and watching tv while wrapped up in blankets.  It’s feels so good and right that it’s almost wrong.  I haven’t been completely anti-social, I have Facetimed with friends so they know I’m still breathing and not just ignoring their invitations to get together.  Although I am attached to my blanket fort I am leaving my house and trotting off to work everyday - quite happily.  The tv I am watching is not depressing.  I’m not watching Sylvia and writing bad poetry like Daddy, Part Deux or Lady Lazarus Returns.  No.  I’m draining my brain on filthy stand-up comedy because cereal dinner tastes better with blow job, boob and raunchy sex jokes.  I do this alone and I’m more than happy that that’s the case because my faith in ever finding a life partner is slowly dwindling - but I’m comfortable with that.  Besides, I’ve booked and planned a trip to Tulum where I plan on starring the lead in How Tinamarie Theresa Got Her Groove Back.  I’ll probably sit on my hammock, eat alone and talk to no one for 7 days, while I avoid eye contact with anyone who dare look my way when I am standing in my bathing suit, but it’s nice to think that fun and non-traumatic nudity could be a possibility.  

The Sadness:

As I’m laying on my couch, with no life force, like a blob - but surprisingly not having gained any weight - not even as a result of bloating (this should be filed under The Happiness), I’m thinking about the fact that I’m unevenly wearing in my new couch.  I’m laying there, right, with more body pressure on the center cushion than on the outer ones. I think about standing up and doing a quick flip, re-arranging the cushions for even wear, but putting the cereal bowl down on the floor, taking the blanket off, getting up - all seem way to taxing.  I think about doing it when I get up to move to my bedroom for real sleep, but I just walk on by.  In the morning I do the same thing; I walk on by.  It’s like I don’t really care about my couch, it’s sad.  While I lay, on my couch, in my bed (wait, I flipped my mattress last weekend - THE HAPPINESS) my mind cycles through the traumatic events that have unfolded in my life in the past few weeks, like being left naked in my bed, family issues that have my mind in a whirl and wondering what I’m doing with my life and whether or not it matters that I don’t have a plan.  

Now, don’t be too concerned - like I said - I’m eating and I’m leaving my house for light socializing - I even managed to go out last Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I just haven’t found it in me to cook.  Not once, mid-lay or mid-wrist  twist to get the right remote angle from couch to tv did I think I should be cooking, what can I cook?  I should visit the grocery.  Almond milk, cereal, grilled chicken and fresh vegetables have been tiding me over.  I’m staring at food photos I took, stories and recipes I haven’t written, that $500 credit from my food photography class.  I’m frozen.  When my heart’s not open.  Madonna went through a weird phase with that Ray of Light album.  In the Frozen video I always thought it would be much cooler were she to morph from scary Madonna, clad in black garb with that terrible dye job - into the Brandon Lee reincarnate.  The color and the way that video was shot always reminded me of The Crow.  I suggest a Brandon Lee button surprise to close the video if she ever does decide to revisit this song.  I would’ve been much happier had she done that from the get go.

Anyway, here are some old recipes, which are new to you because you wouldn’t have known any better had I not been so honest.

I could pretend right now.  Pretend that I’ve been cooking and chopping and drinking wine and giggling, but there’s so much make believe behavior going down around me that I needed to be brutally honest with you and myself.  

I hate myself for being so honest sometimes.

Orecchiette With Broccolirabe, Broccoli Florets and Sausage

3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. spicy sausage (remove from the casing)
2 heads broccolirabe (cleaned and de-stemmed)
2 broccoli crowns (stems trimmed, leave about 1”)
6-8 cloves garlic (peeled, smashed and sliced)
Red pepper flakes
1 pint grape tomatoes (halved)
1 lb. orecchiette (cooked al dente according to instructions and reserve a cup of pasta water)
Kosher salt to taste
Locatelli for serving
Olive oil for serving

-Heat olive oil in a large stock pot and add sausage, cooking for 8-10 minutes or so, until all sausage is light brown
-Add garlic and red pepper flakes, tossing with sausage and cook for 5-7 minutes
-Add broccolirabe to the pot in batches, adding more as each batch cooks down, drizzling with olive oil between tossing 
-Once all broccolirabe has been added, toss in broccoli florets 
-Cook for an additional 10 minutes, then add tomatoes, salt and cook until vegetables are tender and tomatoes have collapsed
-Serve hot, over orecchiette pasta, drizzle with olive oil and top with grated Locatelli

Jamaican Rock Buns

To complete my West Indian dinner,  which took place over a month ago, and I still haven’t posted all of the recipes – pathetic -  I landed on these sweet treats.  I referenced a recipe from The Trini Gourmet and combined it with my very own scone recipe.  You can find the recipe and some background info on Jamaican Rock Buns or Toto – right here.

Jack Daniels Apple Cake

I had a bottle of Jack in the house.  Rather than have friends over for shots or enjoy a little sip over ice while laying, alone on my couch – that’s just a suicide PSA waiting to happen – I cooked with the stuff.

4 apples (peeled and cut into cubes)
1/2 c.  Jack Daniels
2 c. flour 
2 tsp. baking powder
Zest from 1/2 of a lemon
1 c. white sugar 
1 stick of butter
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk

For topping

1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1/3 c. light brown sugar
4 T.  of melted butter

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-In a small bowl, toss apples with Jack and put aside
-In a large bowl, sift together 1 c. flour and baking powder, add lemon zest
-Beat butter and sugar, adding eggs one at a time
-Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients, add milk and gently mix
-Fold in Jack Daniels soaked apples
-Put r1/2 c. of flour, brown sugar and slivered almonds in a bowl and mix with melted butter 
-Pour batter into the pyrex dish
-Sprinkle almond crumble topping over the top 
-Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until cake is deep golden brown
-Cool on a rack, cut chunky boozy slices and lay on your couch 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012   ()

The Return Of Hot, Sticky, Balls: A Neapolitan Christmas Treat


Recipe follows story

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a dose of hot, sticky, balls.

Struffoli are little flavor packed balls of dough that are deep fried, coated with honey, nuts and sprinkles.  They’re traditionally served on Christmas and Easter, but the Corrado’s only made and consumed Struffoli but once a year.  I don’t believe my mother liked cleaning up after these balls had exploded their goodness all over her tiny kitchen, so doing it two times a year wasn’t in the cards.  We would never dream of buying them from a bakery:  Tinamarie - they’re like cardboard.  They look like marbles and taste like marbles.  Mine are better.  My mother’s rants went something like that.  So, she and my father got to work - every year - fearless in their Struffoli making.  Turning out enough batches to feed an army, which is what was necessary to keep the folks in the Corrado home happy.

There were also no boundaries for Struffoli consumption.  Picking into the Struffoli plate days before Christmas, go ahead - but don’t eat too many - is what my mom would tell us.  Following fish salad on Christmas Eve dinner, of course - bring out the plates of Struffoli.  Christmas morning, sure - why not?  And don’t forget the Panettone and rum.   

Last year I went on and on about Struffoli and how I could never make it because it takes a certain level of patience.  Patience that I do not have when it comes to rolling out sticky dough, cutting snakes of said dough into perfect bite sized pieces, and then deep frying batches of little balls until they’re golden brown.  Then there’s the honeying and the mounding of the balls on to plates.  And the wrapping, and the sticky table, pots, remote controls - anything you touched in the Struffoli making process - sticky and tainted for days on end.

It’s a process, a process I’ve been unwilling to go through - even though those little sticky balls are delightfully addictive.  My mother would mound them a mile high, on a plastic holiday plate, using a glass to create the shape.  Once all of the Stuffoli settled, the honey would collect in the center of the large plate, and I can still see my father digging his fingers into the pool of honey and picking out the balls that were coated the most.  Mom would make Louis his own batch and every night, he would sit on the living room couch with a spoon and a cup of coffee and tear into his plate of sugary sweet delight.  

I’m spending Christmas with my Aunt Deb, Uncle Al and Cousin Danielle.  Of course, Struffoli is their favorite holiday treat.  My aunt makes about 1500 cookies in a holiday season, but she doesn’t mess with the hot, sticky, balls.

The woman takes me into her home and treats me like her own, I wasn’t going to roll out dough, cut, fry, and live in a honey  coated world all to make their little mouths happy?  I would be the worst niece ever if I showed up Struffoli-less.

On with the rolling, cutting and frying I went.  Unstoppable in my ripped yoga pants, that I never do yoga in, a wife beater and a bandana.  Flour coating my freshly cleaned tiled floor, fingers stuck together with tacky dough, oil popping in my face - I got to work.  Two batches, done.  Two batches pales in comparison to the eight my mom and dad make every year, in addition to her 15 some odd varieties of cookies.  I’ll get there.  Someday.  I hope.    

Making a mess with hot, sticky, balls was worth seeing the smile on my aunt, uncle and cousins faces.  When they saw the plates of Struffoli sitting on my kitchen table, I thought they saw heaven on earth.

When we sat on the couch watching It’s a Wonderful Life, passing the plate of Struffoli back and forth - picking apart the little balls with our little paws - my uncle exclaiming, now everything is sticky - my sweatpants, the table, the remote …

I smiled and nodded.  

So long as my mother and father, the dynamic duo of Struffoli making, are not with us on Christmas - I must uphold tradition.

My family has been using the same recipe from the NY Times for many years.  It’s flawless, there’s a hint of booze in every ball, and this sweet treat happens to pair well with champagne.

Check out the link above and read some of my fondest Struffoli memories. 

Happy Holidays.



4 egg yolks
2 egg whites
4 T. white sugar
4 T. corn oil
1 T. distilled white vinegar
3 T. rye whiskey or bourbon
1 T. vanilla
2 c. pre-sifted all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
Corn or vegetable oil
1 c. honey + 1/4 c. white sugar
2/3 c. toasted almonds
Non-paerils for decoration

-Beat together yolks, whites and sugar
-Beat in corn oil, vinegar, whiskey/bourbon, and vanilla
-Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix to a soft dough
-Cut dough into strips, rolling into strings that are about 1/4 of an inch thick
-Cut into the strip - making pieces that are about 1/4 of an inch thick
*repeat making strips and cutting until you’ve used all dough
-Pour oil into a deep frying pan (we used to use a wok, now my parents are high class so they use a deep fryer) - enough to coat the pan and deep fry the dough
-Once the oil is heated, transfer little balls into the oil and fry until they are light brown
-Once balls are browned, remove and place them on paper towels, so oil absorbs
*repeat frying process until all dough is fried
-Heat honey and sugar in a large pot, over a medium flame, when honey starts to boil/bubble, remove from heat and add in fried balls of dough
-Toss little balls and coat in honey, adding in almonds and continuing to toss to coat
-Transfer honeyed balls on to large plate and let set in a giant mound, topping with sprinkles

Sunday, December 25, 2011 — 2 notes   ()

Excuse Me, Is That Dried Fruit In Your Chocolate Chip Cookies?

Cherry-Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Recipe follows story 

I have professed many times that baking is not my first love.  At least baking cookies. We’ve slowly rebuilt our love over the past 18 months or so, but I’m still reluctant and scared.  I don’t completely trust myself to not screw this up.  We’re getting better, together, but we’ve a long road ahead.  Baking cookies tests my patience, but I suppose any relationship worth having takes work. 

So, a looming cookie swap had me in a semi-frightened state.  I have a food blog, so the expectation is probably that my cookies will be tasty and made with love and smiles … not cursing, floured hair, burned digits and tray dropping dilemmas.  

Sure, it’s a holiday cookie swap - certainly the ladies would be making ginger snaps, linzer tarts and other bite sized festive like confections.

But who says chocolate chip cookies aren’t festive?

Chocolate chip cookies are always a favorite.  Hand someone a chocolate chip cookie on a Wednesday or a holiday and they will be equally happy.

The chocolate chip cookie is also one that I like to hone in on and tweak recipes for.  What makes them thin and chewy?  Fluffy, fat and gooey?  Limited baking knowledge and research on my part has led me to: more butter and yolks, will make your cookies spread.  Brown sugar retains moisture in cookies - and using this over white sugar will leave your taste buds with a butterscotch finish.  Thank you for your help, Joy of Baking.  

From the ice cream sandwich cookie I adapted from Smitten Kitchen (which was adapted from All Recipes), to the standard Nestle Toll House recipe on the back of their bright yellow bag - chocolate chip cookies are always delicious.

A few things about today’s cookie, it’s a first try recipe.  A combination of methods and proportions from my favorite Toffee Bar cookie(made for last years swap) and the ice cream sandwich chocolate chip cookie linked above.

I did, however, add a little something extra …
This was an idea extracted from Tasting Tables The 12 Days of Cookies

Per Tasting Table, I addd dried cherries to my chocolate chip cookies.  I split the batch, in case I ended up not being too keen on mixing my cherries and chocolate. The deep red cherries added the bonus of a color zing.  
I do enjoy a color zing.   

My best friend and chocolate chip cookie aficionado, Stefanie, would be vehemently opposed to my tainting chocolate chip cookies with fruit - but this cookie making session was experimental - so please forgive me.  I will never sneak fruit in your cookies, cross my pasta pumping heart and hope to die.  Really, I won’t do this again. 

The end result …
There should be no fruit in chocolate chip cookies.
The walnutty chocolate chippy half batch … Solid gold.

The batch with the dried cherries - like a loaf of fruit bread that no one wants.
Everyone ate them, I think - except Eva, who’s allergic to chocolate.  Poor thing.
But I wasn’t in love.   

They weren’t terrible, they had great flavor and the consistency of the cookie was hard on the outside, chewy on the inside.  I believe I’ll reserve my dried cherries for my pear, pecan and goat cheese salads and for my buttery scones.

Give this recipe a whirl (sans cherries, if you ask me).   I LOVE the flavor of vanilla in my chocolate chip cookie, but lessen the amount if it’s not your thing.  The cookie is nice and moist, and the hints of vanilla and butterscotch in this batch really make the semi-sweet morsels sing.  

Making this baking relationship work will be a long road indeed. 

The good news:  Nancy’s 2nd Cookie Swap was a rousing success, with cocktail wieners and stuffed mushrooms, holiday punch and, of course, 10 varieties of cookies. I trafficked home one too many sweets for a single woman who used to be overweight, but - ‘tis the season.  

Cherry-Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 c.) butter (melted)
1 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 egg yolks
1 T. vanilla extract
3/4-1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. dried cherries (chopped)
*Bear in mind I only added cherries to half of my batch, so if you love cherries and you’re into tainting your cookies - add a half cup.  Tasting Tables recipe calls for 1 c.  - but I think that’s a whole lot more than you’ll really want.  

-Preheat oven to 325 degrees 
-Sift together flour, baking soda and salt
-In a large bowl, melt butter and mix in brown sugar
-Incorporate 1 egg yolk at a time and the vanilla
-Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined
-Gently fold in chocolate chips and walnuts (cherries, if you dare)
-Spoon large tablespoon gobs of dough on to baking sheet (placing 2 inches apart so there’s some room to spread, although these are not flat cookie) and bake for 15-18 minutes
-Let cool on a wire rack

Monday, December 5, 2011 — 1 note   ()

Baking For Forgiveness

Apple Muffins

Recipe follows story

You know those apples I wished would bake themselves …

Well, thankfully, they didn’t.  
I actually needed them because they had a bigger purpose. 

I needed to make Apology Apple Muffins.

There are a series of photos on my iPhone, from last Friday night,  wherein my friend and I are smiling, pointing at wine bottles, staring at cheese with a drunken sex-like glow.

I hadn’t achieved a glow like that in months.  

There might even be a photo where I’m sticking my entire hand through my giant hoop earring and waving at the camera.

Clearly, one baked good wouldn’t be enough.
So I made a batch of Please Forgive Me Pumpkin Scones.

What does one do when they’ve gone out to dinner, to a fantastic restaurant in the East Village (where a family member works), gets loaded, takes pictures, and doesn’t calculate the tip properly?

That’s right, you write a card, bake a sweet treat and march back down to the scene of the crime - even though the thought of re-entering in sobriety is mortifying.  Even though the thought of walking through Tompkins Square park haunts you because you feel like you might very well bump in to someone you used to date while out on his night walk with his very cute dog.  Luckily, I only managed to bump in to Alan Cumming and his two dogs.  

I made the drop-off last night, and I was thanked with a hug and many smiles and Ciaos.  In making an ever so graceful exit, I tripped down the restaurant stairs and prayed neither my cousin nor his manager saw the slip of my foot.  

I left feeling confident in my baking decisions; as confident as I could be. I recalled a conversation I had with my cousins wife.  She recently made an apple cake and pumpkin muffins last weekend, so I knew they might enjoy seasonal treats in their package.  She and I often chat about baking and cooking and I know she understands my love for it - so there was no better way for me to communicate my feelings.

Sharing food and using words is the only way I know how to say thanks and I love you.

Sweets can heal any moment in time - right?

I know I’ve ended many an ill date with dessert and always felt a little better inside - even if I never saw the person again.  Sure, it doesn’t remove the awkwardness or a bad kiss.  Sweets do not magically erase the moment where you tell the manager at a restaurant that you love his voice. Then when he walks away, but is still in ear shot - you tell your friend you want him to yell at you in bed.  No, no, no.

But, I tried.  

There are restaurant rules and in my pea sized brain they exist as follows:

1.  Never go back to a certain location with a new date if you’ve had a bad date there.
2.  Never go back to a restaurant where you’ve gotten sick in or where you’ve fallen off of a bar stool in drunkeness.

Bad juju.  

3. Wait two years (or more) before going back to a restaurant where you feel the need to apologize (I’m sure I made a bigger deal of this in my head) for your behavior with a box of muffins and scones.  

I was happy to bake and put my love for food in a box and offer it from my heart to my cousin and his wife.  

I hope they enjoy the treats.
I hope I’m allowed to have dinner in the East Village again.  

Apple Muffins

2 large apples (peeled and cubed)
1 stick of butter + 3 T. (softened)
3/4 c. sour cream
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. flour (sifted)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
Non-stick cooking spray

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees, coat muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray a put aside
-Cream stick of butter and sugar, add eggs, vanilla - continue to mix - add sour cream and incorporate well
-Sift together flour, baking soda, powder and salt - adding to wet mixture and blending well
-Once flour is completely mixed in, gently fold in apples
-Spoon muffin batter in to pan and top with crumble (instructions below)
-Bake for 20 minutes and let cool on a wire rack

For Crumble Topping

-Cut 3 T. of butter in to small pieces, add brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and combine well (with fingers or a fork), until mixture is crumbly

Pumpkin Scones With Spiced Glaze
*referenced the Starbucks Pumpkin Scone Recipe, but made some tweaks based on my own scone recipe 

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour 
1/3 c. sugar 
1 T. baking powder 
2 tsp. pumpkin spice
1 stick of butter (cold and cubed) 
1/2 c. canned pumpkin 
1/4 c. heavy cream 
2 large eggs

-Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large mixing bowl
With a fork, pastry knife, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter remain
In a separate mixing bowl, whisk pumpkin, heavy cream, and egg
Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and form dough into a ball
-Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle
-Use a large knife to slice the dough into 5 equal portions and cut diagonally to produce 10 triangular slices of dough 
Place on prepared baking sheet (covered with parchment paper or a Silpat)
-Bake for 14–16 minutes until scones turn light brown and cool on a wire rack before you ice

Spiced Glaze

2 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin spice
1/4 c. heavy cream 

-Combine all ingredients with a baking spatula and ice scones 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 — 3 notes   ()