Dating someone new entails navigating a precarious route – not unlike those rickety rope bridges suspended above Amazonian rivers. Say the wrong thing, show too much interest – or not enough – and the entire contraption and both of you plunge into the abyss below. Sheer disaster. I’ve learned to tread slowly and deliberately along that path.
Last week, I baked 200 cookies for two catering jobs. On Wednesday, I was also going out with a new guy. My initial thought was to grab a few cookies, pop them in a decorative bag tied with raffia and give them to him as a little gift. Why not? Baking is what I do and I was already in it for over 16 dozen. What’s a few more cookies? Yet dating caution overrode these initial innocuous intentions. How would he interpret the gesture? Would he think I spent all day baking exclusively for HIM? Would I be accused of moving too quickly? I could hear him tell a friend:
“Shit, dude, it was our second date and she was already baking me cookies! Psycho!”
So, I decided against the cookies. I’ll save my talents for now. If we manage to survive a few more dates, then maybe I’ll break out my baking prowess.
This is my favorite cookie dough when faced with a large baking project. The dough can be shaped and flavored in myriad ways limited only by imagination.
Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Cream butter and sugars in a stand mixture until light and fluffy. Slowly add beaten egg and vanilla until incorporated. Add salt to flour and gently stir in. Don’t overmix. Your dough is ready to use!
To make Cherry Streusel Triangles: Cover 9×9” pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang. Butter foil well. Press 9 oz. of Basic Butter cookie dough into pan. Deck dough with fork and bake for about 15 minutes until just beginning to brown. Cool for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix cherry jam with zest and set aside. Mix an additional 2 oz. of Basic Butter Cookie dough with 3 Tablespoons brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon flour and ¾ teaspoon cinnamon.
Spread jam evenly over baked dough, leaving a ¼” rim and sprinkle with streusel. Bake until cherry filling is bubbly, 20-25 minutes. Cool cookies completely. Cut in 16 squares, cut each square in two triangles. Mix powdered sugar with enough water to make a glaze. Drizzle glaze over cookies. Makes 32 cookies.
Certain weeks, this week for example, I struggle to post even once. I’m typically not confounded by the culinary piece (although I can get frustrated when a day-long recipe results in an inedible flop), but by this part – the header, the “intro”, the story behind the recipe. Often, I’ve cooked (and eaten) my creation days, if not weeks, before I hit upon a header for the recipe, if ever. Many dishes never make it to publication.
Last night, “D” and I were batting around fictional “intro” ideas for these scones (baked last Sunday) that included a faux picnic featuring these scones at last night’s Hollywood Bowl concert (à la Sunset Magazine) and another story involving Jared Kushner, Russia meetings and his desire for sweet scones vs. savory.
Unfortunately, in my world, the truth behind the recipe is never that compelling.
I baked these savory scones for no other reason than I wanted kitchen time. The flavor combination idea (a classic) resulted from watching a rerun of The Great British Baking Show. Originally, I was imagining a yeasty swirl bread, loaded with a filling of bacon-cheesy goodness when I hit upon the idea of scones instead. Using my favorite sweet scone recipe as a base, I decreased the sugar, swapped sweet ingredients for savory and, voila – buttery, savory scones.
Granted, the Kushner-Russia connection would have been more interesting.
I’ve taken my favorite American scone recipe and turned it savory and loaded with flavor. With three sticks of butter in the dough, no additional butter is needed on these babies.
8 strips bacon, cubed
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts only, sliced
3 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 ¼ cup buttermilk, divided
1 whole egg
flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Cook bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Add green onions to bacon grease in pan and sauté until softened. Add onions to bacon and cool both. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicon mats.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the cold butter. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until butter is pea-sized.
In a liquid measuring cup, measure 1 cup buttermilk. Beat in whole egg until well combined. Pour buttermilk into dry ingredients and gently combine with your hands until dough barely comes together. Add bacon, green onion, and cheddar and gently combine. The secret to flaky scones is not to overwork the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into two disks about 1 ½ inches high. Cut each disk into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on the baking sheets. Brush scones with remaining ¼ cup buttermilk and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 35-40 minutes until scone are golden brown. These scones are best served slightly warm.
Inspired by one of my favorite recipes for Ginger Crunch Slices, these rich bars combine buttery shortbread, spicy ginger-cardamom caramel, creamy bittersweet ganache and sweet-salty hazelnut “croquant.”
I planned on giving them to the new neighbors across the street, but after eating two, decided to keep this batch all for myself.
More like an exotic candy than a cookie, the combination of butter, heady spices, bittersweet chocolate and hazelnuts create quite a flavor bomb.
¾ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
7 Tablespoon butter
4 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoons cardamom
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons corn syrup
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons water
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted
4.5 oz. bittersweet chocolate
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 inch square pan with aluminum foil and butter the foil.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and beat until the batter just starts to clump together. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan, lightly prick the shortbread with the tines of a fork, and bake for about 20 minutes, or until pale golden in color. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool while you make the caramel.
In a 1-quart saucepan over medium heat, combine caramel ingredients, bring to boil and pour over shortbread. Cool.
While caramel is cooling, heat sugar and water in a small nonstick skillet over high heat, swirling, until sugar dissolves. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, swirling occasionally, until amber, about 4 minutes. Add hazelnuts and stir for 30 seconds to coat.
Pour mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a nonstick baking mat, and immediately spread nuts on sheet and sprinkle with salt. Let cool. Coarsely chop.
Once caramel is cool, place bittersweet chocolate, heavy whipping cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk until completely melted and combined. Pour over caramel and smooth. Sprinkle with hazelnut croquant. Let set for an hour or two, or refrigerate until set. Remove from pan using foil, cut into 16 fingers.
I’m heading to the Southwest next week to look at a potential Inn to purchase. A small adventure contained within a frighteningly large adventure. I haven’t shared much about possibly becoming an Innkeeper, partially because musing on it for hours gives me heartburn and insomnia but also because others’ unhelpful comments and opinions usually make me want to strangle them.
My sister offered to accompany me, but I declined. This is a trip I need to take on my own; a humongous life-changing decision I need to make on my own. To get me in the Southwest spirit for next week’s trip, I baked these vegetarian enchiladas in a creamy pasilla chili sauce.
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano or oregano, crushed
5 pasilla chilies, roasted, skinned, seeded and roughly chopped
1 ½ heavy cream
12 corn tortillas
1 – 2 cups shredded Oaxaca cheese (or mozzarella)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ½ chopped onion and sauté until the onion softens and is translucent. Add ½ minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and sauté until all liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. Add corn and sauté until corn and mushrooms are beginning to brown and no liquid remains. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.
Stir ricotta and oregano into mushroom mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add remaining ½ chopped onion and sauté until the onion softens and is translucent. Add remaining ½ minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the pasilla chilies and heavy cream, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and simmer for about 5 minutes to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and cool.
Purée chile sauce mixture in a blender until smooth. If sauce is too thick, thin with a bit of water. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven 350 degrees. Spread a thin layer of sauce over bottom of a 9×12” baking dish. In a small, dry skillet over medium heat, heat a tortilla until it’s pliable about 20-30 seconds. Fill with about 3 Tablespoons of the filling and roll up. Place in baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Are you a Chocoholic – a craver of all things chocolate? Come into my lair, darling…my aspiration for this recipe is your personal entrapment. If my baking raison d’être is luring you into my den of culinary debauchery, guaranteeing your enslavement, what would your cocoa kryptonite look like? My money is on these – thick layers of creamy bittersweet ganache sandwiched between soft jumbo double-chocolate cookies.
In fact, I may have overdone it – a pinch too much. Neither my 14-year old niece, my sister-in-law, nor I could eat an entire cookie. One of these cookies wouldn’t just enslave you, it would incapacitate you. I recommend you go with the standard size option listed below.
P.S. After naming these, I discovered that “Motherload Cookies” is also the name of a strain of marijuana. Rather than change the name, I decided to keep it – you’ll need to be stoned to eat an entire jumbo size cookie.
The “jumbo” cookies are too much, even for those addicted to chocolate. I recommend the standard size if you want to remain upright after eating one. This recipe was adapted from The Sugar Cube bakery’s Triple-Threat Chocolate Cookies.
32 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips, divided (YIKES!)
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 Tablespoons flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
Place 12 oz. chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl and microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted (about 90 seconds). Set aside to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla. In another small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir egg mixture into melted chocolate until fully incorporated. Then add flour mixture, stirring until combined. Stir in 8 oz. of chocolate chips and toasted walnuts. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 60 minutes.
Make ganache by placing the remaining 12 oz. of chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl and microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted (60-90 seconds). Cover and refrigerate until spreadable consistency, about 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets will Silicone or parchment paper. Scoop dough onto sheets, placed about 1” apart (2 Tablespoons dough for jumbo, 1 Tablespoon for standard size cookies). With the bottom of a glass or similar, press dough to flatten into even ½” thick rounds. Bake until cookies no longer look wet, but they are still soft ( about 12 minutes for jumbo and 10 minutes for standard size). Cool cookies on sheets then transfer to racks.
Generously spread flat side of half the cookies with ganache and top with remaining cookies. Cookies filled with ganache will keep, covered, at room temperature for two days. More than two days, store filled cookies in refrigerator, bring to room temperature before eating. Pour yourself a tall glass of ice-cold milk and enjoy.