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White Chocolate Pineapple Macadamia Cookies

23 Jan

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The white chocolate macadamia nut cookie got a little fancier today.

Partially whole wheat, with big chunks of chopped white chocolate (Callebaut brand), roasted macadamia nuts, dried pineapple chunks. You could use chips, but if possible, I recommend buying a block of good quality chocolate and chopping it yourself. It looks nicer, especially when using white chocolate, to have those uneven blobs of chocolate all melted and shining. Tastes better, too, what with the oozing chocolate hugging the slightly salty macadamias and pineapple bits.

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Browned butter adds an extra rich, nutty element to the cookies. Using browned butter makes things easier since you don’t have to wait for butter to soften…which can take hours in the cold weather temperatures.

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Macadamia nuts, eaten in moderation, are rich in the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. Alright alright, so we are about to chow down on some cookies, but…at least we can get a little pumped about the macadamias…

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White Chocolate Pineapple Macadamia Cookies

adapted from Joy the Baker

yields about 30-36 smallish cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 oz) butter

1 cup (200 grams) light or dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons milk (I used 1% milk)

1 egg (if possible, try to use an organic egg; even better, purchase your eggs locally at the farmer’s market or another reliable source…)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cup flour (I used 1 cup ap flour + 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts

1/2 cup roughly chopped dried pineapple chunks

1 cup roughly chopped good quality white chocolate (a serrated knife works well for chopping chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brown the butter: in a medium saucepan, melt the butter, swirling and stirring until nice browned bits appear in the bottom of the pan. This may take 5-7 minutes. Once the butter is browned, remove from heat and set aside to cool a bit while you measure out the dry ingredients.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, add the brown sugar and slightly cooled browned butter. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat for another minute. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

Turn the mixer off, scrape down the sides, and add flour, baking soda, and salt all at once. With either the stand mixer on low or by hand with a spatula, incorporate the dry ingredients until just mixed in. Fold in the chopped nuts, pineapple chunks, and white chocolate.

Scoop two teaspoon size balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet (this should use two baking sheets). Bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating once through baking, until the cookies are soft and golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

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Smitten Kitchen’s Cranberry Crumb Bars

21 Dec

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Well tickle me pink, these crumb bars are beauts. They taste like pie, but in cookie form. Perfectly balanced tart berry and buttery crumb. I don’t know why I didn’t eat these bars with vanilla ice cream heaping over the top. I did, however, manage to eat every last crumb that happened to “fall off” the top of the cookies. Good heavens!

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I finally found an excuse to do something with the half-full quart container of cranberries that I had been keeping in my freezer for a year. The cranberries held up in perfect condition throughout their year in stasis, and now they’ve had the chance to shine (I tend to put things in my freezer and forget about them until a year later…not the smartest thing to do…but these cookie bars were just a sweet treat to eat at home so the only harm done would be done to me…and I gladly took the risk for these buttery babies!).

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To get a nice, clean cut, it is best to refrigerate the cookie bars for an hour or a few hours and cut them when they are cold. I got too greedy and went right in for the bars when they were still slightly warm and at my disposal. Sigh…I think I need some company to keep my self-control in check.

In other news, I’m totally Smitten with the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. I feel like almost half of the recipes on my blog are “adapted from” Deb Perelman’s beautiful blog, and now I get to cook my way through her beautiful book. Three cheers for Deb!

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Smitten Kitchen’s Cranberry Crumb Bars

adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

makes an 8×8 inch pan of bars

Crumb:

1 stick of butter, cubed and chilled

1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon cloves

1 egg

Filling:

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

1 tablespoon orange juice

2 cups fresh cranberries

1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper, and butter the sides and the parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spices. Work the chilled butter and egg into the flour mixture until it resembles a course meal. You can use your hands (my preferred method), a fork, or a pastry blender. Pat half of the crumb base into the bottom of your prepared pan. It will be thin.

In the bowl of a food processor or a blender, briefly pulse the filling ingredients until the berries are coarsely chopped but not pureed. Spread the filling over the crumb base. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs evenly over the cranberry mixture.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until lightly brown on top. Cool completely before cutting into squares. It helps to refrigerate the bars once cool and then cut them when cold.

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Easy Peasy Pasta + A Glimpse At My Life In A Restaurant

17 Jan

Easy Peasy. Dinner in a pinch.

Drop your pasta into salted boiling water. Add a few handfuls of frozen peas in the last 3 minutes of boiling. Saute a few minced garlic cloves in a skillet and add fresh spinach with a tiny splash of water. Cook down and add a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas. Season with salt, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, and chili flakes. Dump the pasta and peas into the skillet, mix everything together and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

For when you want a healthy, no fuss meal thrown together quickly by taste.

After spending most of my nights making the desserts at Print restaurant, on my days off, all I want is a quick home-cooked meal. I crave salt, I crave savory, but below I want to show you a tiny glimpse of some of the sweet things I do at work.

Every night before the restaurant opens, the staff has the opportunity to eat a meal together. We call it “family meal.” Usually the meal is something super simple that can be thrown together quickly: think chicken and rice or pasta. There is always a salad. The pastry team tries to offer something sweet for family meal, too, sometimes. Lately we have been making Horchata. Mexican Rice Milk with cinnamon. We based our recipe off of David Lebovitz. Just a yummy drink to start the night off.

One of the first things I tackle when I arrive at work is preparing for the next morning’s breakfast service. We (in pastry) make muffins and scones and coffeecakes, yogurt (from Argyle farms in NY) and fruit parfaits (topped with homemade granola), and fresh fruit plates. We offer two flavors each of muffins and scones every morning. The scone pictured above contains walnuts, Asian pears, and flaxseeds. Check out that seductive sugar sprinkle on top. Hellooooo coffee and a pastry!

After I finish preparing for the next morning’s breakfast, I begin to set up for dinner service. We currently have 6 desserts on the menu. Above you see our most recent addition to the dessert menu: Hazelnut Parfait, Maple Yogurt Mousse, Grappa Candied Chestnuts, Espresso Syrup. There’s all sorts of warm and cool, soft, creamy, and crunchy to this dessert. Mmm mmm winter wonderland.

And when you get your coffee or when you order some house made ice cream, you get to try our rotation of biscotti. We are currently serving pistachio polenta biscotti with dried cherries. Dip and go.

Sometimes there are large parties eating at the restaurant. We offer a special dessert menu for these parties. One of the desserts consists of chocolate hazelnut mousse, fleur de sal, hazelnut streusal, poached pear halves, brown butter ice cream, and chocolate decor. I would describe chocolate decor as tempered chocolate cut into shapes. There’s all sorts of heating and agitating and spreading and cooling. It’s a science that I have yet to perfect. But it sure tastes good along the way.


I feel like I have to leave you with a savory item from the restaurant. The burger is on our lunch menu and sometimes pops up on the dinner menu. This gargantuan meat stack has cornichons, pickled red onion, gooey cheddar, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, and a toasted bun. Ah, swoon.

So now you have seen a tiny glimpse into restaurant dessert/food. Tiny.

And people always ask me how I don’t gain a zillion pounds working in pastry. I answer with: the stairs, the heavy lifting, the stirring, the rolling…I get quite the workout. So a few nibbles and tastes won’t spiral me out of control. I am constantly moving. And we work with so many fresh, local ingredients that I feel pretty darn good eating what I want.

Molasses Spice Cookies

20 Dec

Hey there you cute crackly chewy little cookie. I like you. I like you a lot. You are made of molasses and cinnamon and nutmeg. You are sparkling and wintry.

Oh and you are absolutely perfect with a little vanilla bourbon ice cream. Bourbon vanilla + spiced molasses.

A new and now favorite ice cream flavor. Purchased at the corner store. Tastes like real homemade ice cream with lots of love and big hints of bourbon in it. Ooooo yes.

Psst…I also absolutely ADORE lemon ice cream with gingersnaps swirled in (even though these are not gingersnaps nor do they contain any ginger, they would be fantastic with lemon ice cream as well).


I rolled my dough into little balls the size of a quarter and then rolled the balls in sugar.  About midway through baking I took a spatula and lightly flattened the cookies so that they would achieve a nice chewiness.

I knew these would be a winner because we make them at my work. My co-workers and I are all about Martha Stewart’s recipes. Her recipes are pretty spectacular. A big tip for making good cookies is to chill the dough for a long time (I chilled it overnight), and then pinch off the dough and roll into little balls. Or, do the same and then freeze the balls and bake off as needed.

Molasses Spice Cookies

from Martha, makes about 36 cookies

2 cups (310 g) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (200 g) sugar + more for rolling

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, soft

1 egg

1/4 cup molasses

Combine all of the dry ingredients and set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Add the molasses and mix. Dump the dry ingredients into the bowl and stir until everything is combined (You can do all of this either by hand or in a stand mixer).

Wrap up the dough and refrigerate. Or, pinch off the dough and roll into balls and then refrigerate or freeze the dough balls.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Have a shallow bowl or plate ready with about 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and roll each ball in the sugar until coated evenly. Drop onto a parchment lined baking sheet (will take 2 sheet trays worth, but only bake 1 sheet tray at a time**) and bake for about 10-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through and flattening each cookie lightly with a spatula.Cool for about 1 minute then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

**cookies can be baked two sheets at a time, but they will not crackle uniformly

Jewish Cookie Love: Rugelach

4 Oct

Homemade Rugelach. Little Jewish crescent cookies filled with jam, nuts, and/or chocolate! A crowd-pleaser like you wouldn’t believe.

The dough is a combination of butter and cream cheese mixed together with some sugar, vanilla, salt, and flour. You chill the dough in disks, then roll out each disk, spread with filling, cut and roll into cute crescent shapes.

The filling could involve jam (many like to use apricot preserves, but I went with a mixed berry jam), cinnamon sugar, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, or all of the above.

I remember back in the day when I was a novice baker, I made some whole wheat fig rugelach from a Whole Foods recipe. Those particular rugelach were not crescent shaped; I rolled them into logs and then cut the logs into 1-inch cookies. Yes, there are 2 different ways to shape rugelach. I remember making those fig rugelach over and over again for a long time.

Sorry fig rugelach, but there’s a new cookie in town.

I found my new go-to rugelach recipe: Ina Garten, you did it again. You wooed me with another of your baked goods recipes (also see: Brownie Pudding Amazingness).

I have a feeling that I will be making these cookies again, very soon.

Rugelach

**the recipe looks long and daunting. It is actually quite easy and a fun process albeit a bit messy. Ina and I just want to be thorough with the directions so you feel confident in your rugelach-making. And don’t forget that you can get creative with the fillings!

recipe from Ina Garten

makes 4 dozen cookies

Dough:

8 oz of cream cheese, at room temperature

8 oz unsalted butter (1/2 lb, 2 sticks), at room temperature

1/4 cup plus granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups (310 g) all purpose flour

Spread:

jam or preserves of your choice OR melted butter

Filling:

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup chopped walnuts + 3/4 cup raisins

OR 1 cup chopped chocolate

Sprinkle:

1 egg, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons of granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light (I did everything by hand). Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Dump the dough out onto a well-floured board and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

 To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts OR chocolate.

On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons jam or preserves or melted butter and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges—cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge thinly. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Brush each cookie with the egg wash. Combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle on the cookies. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

OPTIONAL: Instead of sprinkling the cookies with cinnamon sugar, just do the egg wash, wait until the cookies have baked and cooled, then dust with powdered sugar.