Friday, October 31, 2008
Hopefully they'll all enjoy the chocolate chip cookies that I made, and maybe one of them will have a recipe for Pan de Muertos, for tomorrow's Day of the Dead.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Soft Molasses Drop Cookies
Yield: About 5 dozen
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup molasses
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup hot milk
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets with baking spray.
2. Combine the first eight ingredients, in the order given, in a large bowl and stir to mix.
3. Stir the baking soda and the hot milk together and add to the flour mixture. Stir well until fully combined. Scoop out the dough by tablespoons and drop about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
4. Bake 12-14 minutes until dry but still soft. Cool on the baking sheets for five minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I like to call this time of year the beginning of hibernation season. Already, my slippers have replaced the flip-flops sitting by my front door, the giant fleecy blanket has taken up residence on my futon, and my jar of hot-chocolate mix is sitting on my counter top. I know that we're only awaiting even colder weather, of course, but I'm trying to ease into it. And this weekend has truly been a pleasant help with that: a cool crisp bite to the air, a clear blue sky, a sun that made its presence known without any overbearing heat. Although I chill easily, the only two complaints I have about our autumn are the the swiftness of the sunsets and the shortness of the days...all the less time to enjoy them! But I suppose if I really want a lesson in darkness, I should spend some winter time in Alaska.
Anyway, when I get into my hibernation mode, I don't think I'm alone in the fact that warm, soothing recipes are at the top of my must-try list. When I woke up this morning, I was all set with a pan to make a loaf of Honey Whole Wheat bread. I eagerly anticipated how the aroma would emanate through my apartment and how satisfying a slice would taste with a glass of milk.
Unfortunately, I did something terribly wrong, and even now, I'm not exactly sure of what that might have been. I think perhaps that I did not work with the yeast correctly, or maybe I didn't heat the other ingredients to the right temperature. My guess is that I did something wrong with the yeast; my dough refused to rise at all, even after an hour spent in my oven (not turned on, but always warmed) in hopes of rising. Because of this, I wasn't able to continue with baking, which was a big disappointment. But also within it is a good lesson: though not as much or as frequently with cooking, recipes in baking are finicky and demand precision. If one is too busy reading the first issue of The Food Network magazine to pay careful attention to the mixing bowl in front of her (as a certain baker might have been this morning) then one's Honey Whole Wheat bread might not turn out well.
Well, I seemed to have failed as a baker today. But I do think that this recipe will yield yummy results, and I will try it again sometime soon, myself.
Honey Whole Wheat Bread
3/4 cup warm water
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm milk
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
Place the warm water in large bowl. Sprinkle in yeast, stir until dissolved and let stand until creamy. Add the warm milk, honey, oil, salt, and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; blend well. Stir in whole wheat flour and mix well. Add the remaining all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is soft and workable (there may be some flour left over).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and turn the dough to grease the top. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. Punch the dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Form dough into a loaf and place into the prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove loaf from the pan and cool on a wire rack.
Monday, October 13, 2008
I also love M&Ms, but I eat these candies throughout the year, no matter what color combination the Mars company has decided would sell more bags to unwitting consumers.
So given these two sugary fancies, along with my obsession with chocolate chip cookies, one can only imagine the thrill I felt when I was scrolling through the posts on Cookie Madness and found this recipe for chocolate chip cookies with Halloween Oreos and Halloween M&Ms. Toward the end of my preparation, when all of the ingredients sat in the bowl, ready for the final mixing, I noticed how festive these cookies appeared, and how decorative they would look on the buffet table at a kid's Halloween party or at a school's October bake sale. With the bright colors and the familiarity of the ingredients, I could see just how whimsical a tray of these cookies would be for a group of little kids; I also recognized my own excitement at this Halloween-themed cookie. So many of the seasonal desserts I see involve massive decoration, and really seem to come together with the finesse of the final decoration or construction. Being a slightly less-than talented artist, I was pleased to find a holiday treat that I would be able to make without the fear of frosting muddled Frankensteins or vampires or witches.
And beyond the playful colors of the final product, these cookies are delicious as well. To give fair warning, though, they are quite sugary (hmm, how could that be?) and could easily put one into a cookie coma with just two or three helpings. But since we are approaching Halloween, it seems safe to assume that most of us will be in sugar shock soon enough anyway.
Halloween Chocolate Chip M&M Oreo Cookies
Yield: About 30 cookies
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup Halloween M&M candies
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
6-8 Oreos, broken into fourths (do not crush)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and both sugars. Beat in vanilla and egg. Add baking soda, salt, baking powder and cream of tartar and beat well. Add the flour and mix until well-blended. Stir in the M&M’s, chocolate chips and cookies. Using a heaping teaspoon, drop the cookies about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets. Bake for 13-15 minutes.
Friday, October 10, 2008
We all have a certain bakery or café that we know makes the absolute best chocolate chip cookie or brownie or cheesecake; these are our “go to” places where we bring friends from out of town and where we head when we have a craving not just for something sweet, but for that very specific recipe that we’ve tried over and over again.
I have my short list of places, many of which have been mentioned in my posts, or are linked on this website, and all of which I’ve gushed about to no end. But in a city as large as this one, so many worthwhile places get lost. It seems that even now, after two years in
What bakeries and cafes and food shops are on your list? Which ones have the best baked goods, or the best quality ingredients? What are the places that you would implore anyone and everyone to try, at least once?
Sunday, October 5, 2008
The Sweet Life is a candy and gourmet chocolate family owned retail shop and has apparently been a landmark on the on the Lower East Side for the past 25 years. I can see why this would be true; the first thing that struck me upon entering this tiny store was the strong aroma of chocolate and sugar that had permeated the air. Next, I looked from corner to corner and saw clear jars filled with chocolates and jelly beans, stacks of finely wrapped chocolate bars, tins of tea, containers overflowing with nuts and dried fruits, scales and metal scoopers, tiered displays of chocolate candies, bottles of sweeteners and spreads...well, I could go on and on. I have no problem admitting that this tiny shop gave me a brief vision of what my personal heaven could be.
The second wave of adoration for The Sweet Life came later, when I tried their milk chocolate covered raisins. Now, I've been patronizing candy shops since I was little, always delighting in filling the small plastic bags with bulk candy from the plastic bins, and generally choosing at least one small handful of chocolate covered raisins. Every other chocolate covered raisin I've ever eaten pales in comparison to the rich, creamy, and properly sweetened chocolate of these raisins. I found out that they have their own chocolate machines, and while I could not extract any kind of recipe from the gregarious young shop keeper, I knew at first taste that this was a product of true quality. And continuing with the idea of high-quality ingredients, I was also thrilled to pick up a small container of Valrhona cocoa power. A product of France, Valrhona chocolate is supposed to be amongst the very, very best in the world. When purchasing the cocoa, the shop keeper urged me to try some in hot chocolate, which I believe I'm now required to do. The rest will be going into a batch of brownies which ought to be the best I've ever baked, I'm sure. Just having spent several minutes in this store, I feel that my weekend on the whole has been a success. But now I slightly worry: how many other wondrous New York City candy and chocolate shops am I missing?
The Sweet Life
63 Hester Street
New York, NY 10002
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Despite its ease and its versatility, I always seem to forget about my Cinnamon Raisin Quick Bread. Basically, it’s a bread that the baker can make as healthful or unhealthful as he or she wishes, a bread that almost anything can be added to, a bread that works well in the morning as a fast breakfast and, of course, in the evening as a tea-time companion.
The best thing about this bread is that it is easy enough to whip up on a whim. And, if you’re anything like me, then you already have all the ingredients you need on hand. I like to let the bread cool quite a bit before eating, though, otherwise it’s too crumbly to fully enjoy.
Cinnamon Raisin Quick Bread
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1 ¼ cup skim milk
2 egg whites
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup raisins
1 tbsp. ground flax seed
1. Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.
3. Bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees.