Chocolate-Pistachio Sables

Chocolate-Pistachio Sables

I know that one of my New Year’s resolutions was dairy-free baking, but everyone needs just a little break from their resolutions every once in a while.  I am no exception – particularly because I love butter.  It has been fun experimenting without butter lately, but sometimes you just need a little butter in your life.  With 75% of our household being dairy lovers, every once in a while we just need to indulge.

As I was making these delicious morsels, I was reminded about the last time I had pistachios in my baked goods.  Yes, my wonderful week in Istanbul…  So, Istanbul has always been one of those places that I read about, but never thought I would actually go there.  As it turns out, I was asked to travel that in the fall for work.  Lucky for me, my meetings didn’t start until Monday evening, so I had Monday during the day to explore, and I definitely wanted to make the best of it.  Of course food was at the top of my list.

I did some research on the internet, and all roads led to this woman named Olga.  She was amazing – her blog captivated me instantly.  She runs a food tour (as well as owning a B&B), and it was exactly what I was looking for.  Five hours of walking the city tasting all of the local delicacies. Fortunately I had some adventurous co-workers that I was travelling with, and when I told them about this fun excursion, they were completely on board.  We had the most incredible day.  It started off with a delicious breakfast (eggs with tomato sauce, cheese, peppers, sausage, etc…) then onto a pastry shop where we tried two sweets with some amazing Turkish coffee, we went to markets, local eateries, bakeries, and everything in between – and ended the afternoon at a very local fish restaurant.  Of course I couldn’t try the fresh fish, but they brought me other local food to eat instead.  I was absolutely stuffed, but loved every minute of it.  We learned so much about the food and culture of Turkey, I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Oh, and did I mention the amazing restaurant recommendations?

Of course my favorite of all the sweets I had in Istanbul was pistachio baklava – and when I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, that’s immediately what I thought about.  These cookies are much easier to make than baklava – although quite tasty.  What I loved most about this recipe was that I could leave 3 logs in the freezer, and make a fresh batch of cookies in just minutes.  The girls have been taking these in their lunches, and I think they are helping them focus in the afternoons – with all that chocolate, how could they not?

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups (lightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg white
  • 5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
  •  Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Preparation

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients; mix just to combine, then mix in egg white. Fold in chocolate and pistachios.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8”-long log about 1½” in diameter, pushing dough together if it feels crumbly. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (The colder your dough, the easier it will be to slice.)

Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Working with 1 log of dough at a time and using a serrated knife, cut logs into ¼”-thick rounds and transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing ½” apart.

Sprinkle cookies with sea salt and bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until set around edges and centers look dry, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.

DO AHEAD: Cookie dough can be made 1 month ahead; freeze instead of chilling. Slice frozen logs into rounds just before baking.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate-Pistachio Sables

About these ads

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Things are not often as they appear.  I love that saying on mirrors on cars, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”  It should just say something like this, “Watch out, nothing is ever as it seems.”  Many people don’t like to admit that though, and are stuck in the past.  That is definitely not me – sometimes I feel like I live a little too much in the future, thinking that things have changed when they haven’t just yet – maybe just hoping.

I have almost surpassed a major milestone – I have lived in Seattle just about longer than I have ever lived anywhere in my life.  That is quite a big deal – particularly because I didn’t grow up here, and I didn’t leave my home town until I went to college – so we were not one of those families that moved around.  In addition to that, when I go back to my home town (which I don’t do very often), nothing is really the same – including where my parents live.  When people tell me that I haven’t changed a bit – they are only looking peripherally.  In my view, there is very little that hasn’t changed.  Or maybe those people never really knew me to begin with.

The thought of making dairy-free and gluten-free baked goods has just no appeal to me whatsoever.  I have really never been impressed with a gluten-free baked good – but then again, I don’t really eat them very often.  I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and it is a good thing it was not labeled DF and GF.  I swear, had it been, I would have passed right over it.  Instead, the title got my attention, and there it went into the pile.  It didn’t really hit me until after the batter was made what I had done.  I was actually falling for a DF and GF baked good – and wow did I fall hard.  These cookies were outrageous – and so ridiculously easy to make.  I let a few different people sample these, and the reviews were unanimous – in addition to the kids, who absolutely devoured them in their lunches.  So, there you have it – nothing is ever as it seems – particularly when it comes to these Chocolate Brownie Cookies.  Nothing like a good taste of reality.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups gluten-free powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2  large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cacao nibs

Preparation

Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Whisk powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk in egg whites and egg; fold in chocolate and cacao nibs. Spoon batter by the tablespoonful onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2” apart.

Bake, rotating sheets once, until cookies are puffed, cracked, and set just around the edges, 14–16 minutes.

Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool on pan (they’ll firm up).

Do Ahead:  Cookies can be baked 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate Brownie Cookies – GF and DF

Chewy Molasses Cookies

Chewy Molasses Cookies

There is really only one time of year when everything slows down, at work, at home, and pretty much everywhere.  We are in that zone right now, and boy am I loving it (as I knock loudly on wood).  Thanksgiving was more like a tease…there was hopes of quiet in the air, but that never really happened.  Similar to any vacation I try to go on during the year, life never stops, you just dodge the waves the best you can and put everything back together again when you return.

Of course relaxation in my world takes on a very interesting form.  Yes, cooking is always involved, and I am looking forward to making some fun creations for New Years this year.  So this brings me to this recipe.  As I mentioned before, Thanksgiving was a little crazy for me, mostly on the work front, and of course because I thought things would be slow, and I was taking some time off, of course I tried to cram in a little too much.

A week before Thanksgiving I travelled to Istanbul (definitely more on another post), and the day after I retuned our house guests started arriving.  I have no idea what possessed me to do this, but when the email came asking for baked goods for teachers during parent- teacher conferences, I signed up.  Big mistake.

So, here I was scrambling for a simple yet delicious holiday cookie.  It was a good thing I read the annual cookie edition of Bon Appetit and found these morsels.  I swear they were a life-saver.  Within an hour, the house smelled amazing, and the girls were standing over the counter drooling.

As I sit here relaxing, I look back on that day with a smile.  Typical me trying to do too much, but it ended in sugar, spice and everything nice.  Just the way a holiday should be.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup mild-flavored (light) or robust-flavored (dark) molasses
  • 1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • Coarse sanding or raw sugar (for rolling)

Preparation

Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 375°. Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and salt in a small bowl. Whisk egg, butter, granulated sugar, molasses, and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Mix in dry ingredients just to combine.

Place sanding sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop out dough by the tablespoonful and roll into balls (if dough is sticky, chill 20 minutes). Roll in sugar and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2” apart.

Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until cookies are puffed, cracked, and just set around edges (overbaked cookies won’t be chewy), 8–10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.

DO AHEAD: Cookie dough can be made and rolled into balls 2 weeks ahead. Freeze on a baking sheet; transfer to resealable plastic bags. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before rolling in sugar.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chewy Molasses Cookies

Spiced Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream

Spiced Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream

First impressions can be tough – particularly when things don’t go so well.  So what happens if the second impression is not much better, and either is the third?  Well, it definitely can be tough to recover.  I say this because I am definitely not one that gives people lots of chances.  Most of the time you are guilty and then you must prove yourself innocent – I hate being this way, but it is just who I am.  I have worked hard over the years to adjust my style at work, but every once in a while I see myself slipping.  Years ago though, I was told I have a gift – I can certainly be hard on people, but I do it with a smile on my face.  And being in those situations on the other side – isn’t it always better to receive critical feedback when someone is smiling at you on the across the table?  It is all in the delivery.

Food is the exact same way.  How many times have you eaten something for the first time and hated it?  You might decide to give it another chance at some point – but if it doesn’t meet your expectations again – it is just that much harder to have an open mind the next time.  I have never been very fond of lemon flavored desserts.  My mother makes some amazing lemon squares – but I just can’t get myself to like them, no matter how hard I try.  I love lemons in savory dishes – and definitely in cocktails – but sweets just don’t cut the mustard.

The other week my daughters and I spent the afternoon at The Pantry at their Holiday Gift Workshop for Kids.  We made three delicious treats and then packaged them all up to give as gifts.  I have been there before for this workshop, but this was the first time they offered it for kids – it was awesome.  When I saw the recipe for Spiced Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream – I was hardly excited.  I knew I would love the cookies, but was not crazy about the lemon cream.  My daughters on the other hand couldn’t wait – they both love lemon desserts.  As we were finishing up, there were plenty of extras to snack on.  These were hands down their favorite treat that we made, and absolutely loved the lemon cream.  They convinced me to give it a try – and I am so glad they did – finally a lemon cream that I could have eaten with a spoon.  I know it was the cream cheese that won me over.  But seriously – put that on top of one of these crunchy cookies, and lemon – you just made it to my good side.  Thank goodness for second chances…or should we say, never underestimate the power of the delivery.

Ingredients

 Cookies

  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces butter, melted and warm
  • ¼ cup unsulfured molasses
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces diced crystallized ginger
  • ½ cup turbinado sugar

Filling

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest + 2 teaspoons (from about 2 lemons)
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Preparation

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.  Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Combine the flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly with a whisk or fork.  Combine the warm butter, molasses, sugars, fresh ginger, and egg in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Add the flour mixture and crystallized ginger and stir until incorporated.  The dough will be soft.

Form the dough into a log shape on a piece of parchment paper.  Roll into a 1 ¼ inch diameter log.  Sprinkle the outside of the log with the turbinado sugar and place in the freezer to chill completely.  Once chilled all the way though (about an hour), slice into 1/4-inch rounds and bake for 7-8 minutes.  Let cool on a rack.

In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, lemon zest and powdered sugar until well mixed.  The frosting should be pretty stiff – add more powdered sugar as necessary.

Pipe filling over the bag side of one cookie, and place another cookie on top.

Makes about one dozen sandwich cookies.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Spiced Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Lemon Cream

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

My grandmother was 100% goodness.  There is really no other way to describe her.  She was beautiful – no stunning; she was quiet yet always had something to say; she was very strong, although she didn’t have a lot of will power when it came to sweets – which always cracked me up.  I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, and I always enjoyed it – in fact, I longed to be at her house with her.  She offered me advice from time to time, but like a good grandmother, mostly she just loved and supported me unconditionally.  In my life, she was a strong force of stability.

I have so many good memories over the years – her calming voice, her endless love of flowers (which I did not inherit), watching her play bridge with her friends or having a glass of Scotch before dinner, spending endless days at the beach then having her get the aloe plant for my very red body – it goes on and on.  She was a great traveler – and was very adventurous.  When most of her friends were spending their winters in Florida, she and my grandfather would go to Portugal.  About 12 years ago she wanted to go to Alaska, so I told her I would go with her.  We had a great week together and even went on some fun excursions – she was over 80 at the time, but that didn’t stop her.  She was incredibly active most of her life – and it inspired me.  I remember that my goal when I was younger was just to be able to keep up with her.  I remember the day when I started walking faster than her, and it made me sad.  When my daughters were born, she came out to Seattle to help – again, she was over 80 at the time.  The girls loved her – and she loved them.  I can still see her smile as she stared at them – even just watching them eat made her happy.

Sweets were just about her only vice that I knew of – my grandfather died when I was in high school – and he was diabetic.  She hid just about anything with sugar from him – and after he passed away, she was free to eat what she wanted.  I never saw her go nuts, but she would tell me stories about how she couldn’t keep ice-cream in the freezer because she would eat it all.  She always kept baked goods in the freezer just in case she happened to entertain – and she would wrap them tightly and in multiple layers – just another way to make it difficult for her to indulge.  She was never overweight – so I had a hard time believing she really had a problem – which made it somewhat funny to think about.

This year for my younger daughter’s birthday (which was on Thanksgiving), she had a very specific request – Red Velvet Whoopie Pies.  She loves her cream cheese frosting – and she wanted to make it clear that this dessert was all birthday and not about Thanksgiving.  She loved helping me find a good recipe on Annie’s Eats.  I remember telling my grandmother on the phone what I was going to make for her birthday, and she wasn’t quite sure what I was talking about – once I explained them to her – she told me they sounded delicious. I know she would have loved them – but what she would have loved more was watching my daughter devour hers.

When I saw my grandmother this summer, I remember I gave her an extra big hug when I said goodbye.  For some reason I knew it might be the last time.  Unfortunately I was right, but she was ready to go.  All I could think of when I hugged her frail body is that she will always be 100% goodness.

Ingredients

For the cookies:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 oz. red food coloring

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Using a circular template (biscuit cutter), trace evenly spaced circles onto pieces of parchment paper sized to fit two cookie sheets. Place the parchment on the cookie sheets so that the side you have drawn on is facing down; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Blend in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated.  Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat.  Blend in the food coloring.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip.  Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper using the heart tracings as a guide.  Bake 7-9 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through.  Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack.  Repeat with any remaining batter.  Allow cookies to cool completely before proceeding.

To make the cream cheese frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.

Transfer the frosting to a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip.  Pair the cookies up by shape and size.  Flip one cookie of each pair over so that the flat side is facing up.  Pipe frosting onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, leaving the edges clear.  Sandwich the cookies together so the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling reach the edges.  To store, refrigerate in an airtight container.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Acorns

Chocolate Peanut Butter Acorns

Not only it is Thanksgiving at our house tomorrow – we are also celebrating the first day of Hanukkah – and my younger daughter’s 8th Birthday.  It is quite the celebration, the trifecta to end all trifectas.  There has been a lot of activity in the house this week – with the birthday party this weekend – and then guests arriving for the week.  It has been quite something – but the best is yet to come.

One of our special visitors this week is my sister-in-law – she is a “real” foodie (where I just play one on TV) – she does this for her career, so she actually knows what she is talking about.  One of the treats I made for Niela’s birthday party were these cute little acorns.  For the life of me, I can’t remember where I saw these, but I remembered there were 3 ingredients, and I knew they would be adorable.  I usually make treats from scratch, but occasionally I find something like this that I can’t resist.  When I saw her pop one in her mouth – I was a little worried, but she had the same reaction as me.  Wow, what a combination.  Nutter butter’s are not my favorite cookies – but stick a Hershey’s kiss on top, with a chocolate chip on the bottom, and boy do you have yourself a delectable morsel.  That got us talking about how there are certain combinations of foods that are just meant to go together.  Hands down – these win.  I can pass of a peanut butter cup any day of the week – but these babies are in a different league.

So, as you celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, take some time to remember what this holiday is all about.  I am so thankful for my family and friends, and the food I am always surrounded by.  I am thankful that I have a beautiful kitchen to cook in tomorrow, and my family around me to share the bounty.  I am thankful that my children understand they will not get Hanukkah presents tomorrow, but at some point this month they will…and I am thankful that my daughter’s birthday party this past weekend was a complete success, and that she is thrilled to be sharing her day with a turkey and a menorah tomorrow.  Happy BirthGivakkah everyone!!

Ingredients

  • Mini Nutter Butter Sandwich Cookies
  • Hershey Kisses
  • Chocolate Chips

Preparation

Place 1/2 cup chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until melted.  Dip the bottom of the Hershey Kiss in the melted chocolate, and stick onto one side of the cookie – do the same with the chocolate chip on the other side.  Let sit until the chocolate gets hard.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate Peanut Butter Acorns

Spiced Palmiers

Spiced Palmiers

No, it’s not Valentine’s Day – but fall has definitely hit us like a ton of bricks here in the Pacific NW.  Fortunately we had a spectacular summer, so I am actually just fine that fall came a little early for us.  Normally September is one of our most beautiful months – but this year I feel like I live on the east coast.  The leaves are already starting to turn – go figure?

Today was a hard day – I have been dreading it for months – my older daughter got braces.  Now normally that wouldn’t be such a big deal – but my daughter is not a tough cookie.  She reminds me of the Princess and the Pea.  She definitely would know if there was a pea underneath her mattress, and wouldn’t sleep a wink.  Every little slight deviation in her body bothers her – and unfortunately I can’t relate.  I am basically on the opposite end of the spectrum.  The only reason why I stay home from work when I am sick is not to get other’s sick – and rarely do I take any type of medication.  Well, dinner was a tear-fest tonight, as she took a bite of the very soft homemade macaroni and cheese I made for dinner (leftover from last night, so even softer).  Then I tried giving her some chicken soup and dumplings (homemade ricotta dumplings that basically melted in your mouth), and that worked a little better – but the tears kept flowing.  She was in pain – and I could tell that she was thinking she would actually stay home from school tomorrow.  That didn’t last long – when both my husband and I agreed out loud, that she needed to toughen up.  I can’t believe this actually came out of my mouth – but I told her if she thinks this is bad, just wait until she goes into labor.  My husband didn’t think that was funny.

Ok – onto more brighter topics – food.  So, I am sure you are all waiting at the edge of your seat to find out about the second day of the IFBC.  It was pretty spectacular.  It started off with one of the best breakfasts I have ever had at a conference.  As if the yogurt, granola and hard-boiled eggs didn’t make me happy enough – the two types of biscuits, and smoked ham that someone was carving fresh – really took it over the edge.  I had to go back for seconds.

Next we had a sushi cooking demonstration – and tips from the NYTs food photographer Andrew Scrivani.  He was so good, I decided to go to his session next – and learned a ton about workflow. I was a little overwhelmed at this point – but reminded me, this is just for fun, someday I will have lots of time to really perfect my photos.  Now is not that time in my life.  After that, there was another tasting show – with tons of wonderful products (the cheeses really blew me away) to sample.  The last session of the day for me was a Food and Wine Pairing by Chateau St. Michele – it was something else.  Six wines, with six different bites of food.  They were spoiling us rotten – and this was all before Saturday night.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better – Urbanspoon came along.  They arranged over 20 wonderful dinners at local restaurants – and let me tell you – the list was extremely impressive – but all a secret from us.  I was supposed to go to Bellevue (John Howie Steakhouse), but I really wanted to stay on the Seattle side – so I got lucky.  They ended up sending me to my favorite restaurant in all of Seattle – Lloyd Martin.  Sam created a delicious 3-course family style dinner – that was just incredible.  Every course was paired perfectly with wine (thanks to Jennifer!), and there was so much food – we couldn’t possibly eat it all.  Fortunately I was local, so they packaged up some leftovers for me, and the girls and I had a wonderful dinner on Sunday night as well (my husband missed out because he was travelling).

If you are curious about the entire menu – here it is:

First: Bacon wrapped Dates; Bar cheese with house crackers; duck rillettes (OMG amazing); spicey coppa; smoked almonds; watermelon salad; heirloom tomato salad; foie gras mousse; albacore crudo

Second: Fettuccini with wild mushrooms and black truffle (homemade pasta, melt in your mouth delicious…)

Third: Lan roc pork roast; summer squash and zucchini with hazelnut agradolce; ramano beans with kimchi spice; parmesan risotto

It was a perfect way to end a wonderful foodie weekend.  So I leave you with these delicious little morsels.  If you are not feeling the fall yet – just pop these babies into the oven, and your entire house will smell of spice.  They are wonderful with a nice espresso – as you sit and watch the leaves turn (ok, who has time to do that??).  Hey – and they would even be perfect come February.  Too bad my daughter won’t be enjoying these over the next couple of days.  I better work on my jello skills…

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground  cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground  cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons ground  allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground  cloves
  • 1 14-ounce package frozen puff  pastry (such as Dufour), thawed
  • All-purpose flour (for  dusting)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted  butter, melted, divided

Preparation

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix sugar and spices  in a small bowl. Unfold pastry on a lightly floured work surface into a  14×10-inch rectangle, rolling out if needed. Brush lightly with butter. Sprinkle  1/4 cup spiced sugar over. Cut in half lengthwise.  Fold both long sides of 1 pastry strip so that outer edges  meet in the center of strip. Brush with more butter; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons  spiced sugar. Fold in half lengthwise, forming a 14 inch-long log about 1 inch  wide. Repeat with remaining pastry strip.

Place logs on prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap,  and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

DO AHEAD Palmier  dough can be prepared 2 weeks ahead. Store airtight in freezer. Thaw overnight  in refrigerator before continuing.

Preheat oven to 425°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment  paper. Cut each log crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. Lay slices flat on prepared  baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart.  Bake palmiers until golden on bottom, about 8 minutes. Using a  thin metal spatula, turn palmiers over. Brush lightly with butter; sprinkle with  more spiced sugar. Bake until sugar is bubbly and pastry is golden brown, about  15 minutes longer. Transfer palmiers to a wire rack; let cool.

DO AHEAD  Palmiers can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room  temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Spiced Palmiers

Utterly Buttery Shortbread with Chocolate

Utterly Buttery Shortbread

This is the last of my shortbread series, if you hadn’t already figured out that I was doing that.  I actually just figured it out this morning.  I don’t think I have ever made more shortbread in a short period of time.  I have to say, I really did love all of them, but this one in particular was my favorite.

So even though my older daughter is not writing this post, this is all her.  I love to watch her grow, and hope that maybe I have rubbed off on her, at least my positive attributes that is.  People often ask what I do with all the stuff that I bake – especially because my husband can’t eat most of it (needs to be dairy-free) – well, for the most part I bake for my kids, my neighbors, and for any event I possibly can.  Basically I look for any excuse to bake something.  Well, I am seeing my daughter follow the same pattern.  The other week she came downstairs and asked if she could bake something.  I asked her why, and she told me that she met a 1st grader on the bus this year, and she really wanted to bring her cookies.  I couldn’t believe how sweet that was.  My daughter was her “5th grade buddy” on the bus – basically she looked out for her, and made sure she was ok.  I was so proud.  I told her to look through her books and find something she could make all by herself.

She found this recipe from The Cookie Book, and I thought it would be perfect.  It had very few ingredients although my daughter added the chocolate, and that was a very smart move – it really gave the cookies a nice flavor.  So, this was a funny recipe though.  We baked them in glass pie dishes like the recipe called for – and we didn’t spray the bottoms.  Well – one of them turned out just fine, and slid right out of the pan – the other one stuck completely to the bottom.  Good thing it made two rounds…her 1st grade friend got the good batch, and we got the crumbs of the failed batch.  Let me tell you though, those were the best crumbs ever – you could put them over yogurt, ice-cream, or just take a handful and pop them in your mouth.  I hope that when my younger daughter starts riding the bus this year that a really nice 5th grader is there to keep an eye on her – she doesn’t need to bake her cookies though – we’ve got that part covered…

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces butter (2 sticks)
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup shaved dark chocolate

Preparation

Mix the first four ingredients with a mixer until a ball has formed.  Carefully mix in the shaved chocolate.  Place dough on a counter, and separate dough in half.  Gather dough into a ball, and flatten into a disk.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.  Grease two 9″ pie plates.  Press dough into the pie plates until flat.  Bake at 400° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Utterly Buttery Shortbread with Chocolate

Pistachio Shortbread

Pistachio Shortbread

I swear July has seemed like the longest month ever.  It is strange – it has been amazingly beautiful here, the nicest summer I can ever remember (in 17 years!), I have made it to the Farmer’s Market every Saturday, and I have gotten some good cooking time in on the weekends (ok, bare minimum of what I find acceptable).  Aside from my frantic work weeks, and the fact that most nights I head home just completely stressed out – ok, maybe that’s why it has been a long month…  I am looking forward to August – looking forward to maybe getting a break, and maybe (just maybe), working on getting my piles of recipes down to a respectable size.

I love pistachios – they are hands down my favorite nut out there.  I love when I crack open the shells, and find a really green one – and I love even more when I buy the pre-shelled pistachios from Trader Joes.  Boy are those dangerous.  Opening up the shells actually slows you down a bit – but when you can pop a whole handful in your mouth at once…they can definitely go quickly.  I remember seeing this recipe in Bon Appetit and imagining exactly how these would taste.  I was very strategic though on when I made them – I wanted to make sure I knew what to do with the entire bag of pre-shelled pistachios, before I ate myself sick.  The weekend finally came along and I had 2 different recipes with pistachios all set and ready.  I snuck a few in my mouth here and there, but I was good – and had plenty to make both desserts.

These shortbread were fantastic – maybe even the best I have made yet.  They were crunchy and buttery and that was before I even brought out the strawberry jam.  Once the jam came out – it took them to an entire different level – a level that I have not experienced with shortbread before.  Wow, what a treat.

As we end July – I want to remind everyone that summer is not over yet – and it is not too late to get out there and have some fun in the sun.  And for those who are like me, there are still plenty of long days left to make lots more jam.  In fact – maybe that’s exactly what I need to start doing after work – how’s that for a stress reliever?  Uh oh, I am starting to think I am the best nut out there.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios (about 4 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose  flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter,  cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher  salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla  extract

Preparation

Pulse pistachios in a food processor until finely ground but  not a paste, about  30 seconds. Add flour, sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla;  pulse until mixture is the consistency of cornmeal. With machine running,  drizzle in 2 tablespoons ice water (a crumbly dough should form; do not  over process).  Transfer dough to a sheet of parchment paper and pat into a  rectangle. Top with another sheet of parchment and roll out to a 12×8-inch  rectangle. Transfer dough (in parchment paper) to a baking sheet and chill until  firm, about 1 hour.

Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to  350°. Remove top sheet of parchment paper from dough and discard.  Cut dough  lengthwise into 8 equal strips, then each strip crosswise into quarters, forming  32 rectangles. Place rectangles on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing  1-inch apart.  Bake shortbread until golden brown, rotating sheets halfway  through, 18-20 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.

DO AHEAD: Shortbread can be made 5 days  ahead. Store airtight at room  temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Pistachio Shortbread

Pistachio Shortbread 5

Strawberry Jam Biscuits

Strawberry Jam Biscuits

It’s jam time…that’s right, one of my very favorite times of the year.  The time of year when those empty shelves in my pantry start getting filled with all sorts of delicious cooked fruit.  My daughters love that I make jam, in fact my younger daughter refuses to eat any other jam except my homemade.  You could say I have spoiled them, or maybe just taught them what good food is.

I have already started stock piling for the holidays – but I always save some for the girls.  Usually I just put the leftovers in a ramekin, or in a jar that is not labeled, that I place on a special shelf in the pantry – “our jam section” – as opposed to the jam for gifts.  Last week I came over after a long day, and saw that there was a new jar of strawberry vanilla jam in the refrigerator.  I just about lost it.  Ok, so it wasn’t my proudest moment – but when I asked why they didn’t use the other two already opened jars of jam (one which I might add was the exact same variety, and another was the leftover jam I used for these delicious treats) – they told me that the jam with the pretty labels tastes even better.  Seriously???  I was so angry, but part of me was laughing inside (although that laughing started much later) – but I was fuming that they had just wasted one of my holiday jams.  I brought them into the pantry and showed them where I keep “our jam section” as opposed to the “holiday jam section”.  Of course the “holiday jam section” has about 30 jars already – where as ours only has about 5.  The girls didn’t understand why they didn’t get both.  Wow – that would be a lot of jam.  So – no Mom of the year award for me…

Back to this recipe…I found this in Bon Appetit, and I felt like it was time to actually bake with some jam.  These were so perfect for strawberry season – just the right amount of sweetness with the biscuit – the girls ate them every morning before swim team, and they were gone in no time.  Fortunately there is still some of that great leftover jam in the refrigerator…I just need to get a label for the jar, and it will disappear magically, so I am told.

Ingredients

Strawberry Jam

  • 12  ounces fresh strawberries, hulled, halved or quartered if large (about 3  cups)
  • 1/4  cup sugar
  • 1  tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh  lime juice

Biscuits

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  baking  powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher  salt
  • 2 1/4 cups  all-purpose  flour plus more
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon finely  grated lime zest
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1 tablespoon raw  sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream (for  serving)

Preparation

Strawberry Jam

Cook strawberries and sugar in a medium saucepan over  medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until jamlike in consistency, 12–15  minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lime zest and juice. Pour into a shallow bowl  and let cool.

Biscuits

Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk sugar, baking powder, salt, and 2  1/4 cups flour in a large bowl. Add butter and lime zest and blend with your  fingertips until coarse crumbs form. Add buttermilk and, using a fork, mix until  just combined. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Gently knead just until a  shaggy, moist dough forms, about 4 times.

Roll out dough about 1/2-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch  biscuit cutter or inverted glass, cut out rounds. Gather scraps and repeat  rolling and cutting until all dough is used.  Place biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using your  thumb, make a large divot in the center of each biscuit; brush with egg and  sprinkle liberally with raw sugar. Spoon a scant 1 teaspoon strawberry jam into  each divot.

Bake biscuits until golden brown, 18–22 minutes. Serve warm  with vanilla ice cream, if using, and remaining jam.

DO AHEAD: Jam can be made 3 days ahead.  Cover and chill.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Strawberry Jam Biscuits

Strawberry Jam Biscuits 2