World Peace Cookies

These were the World Peace Cookies from Dorie Greenspan’s book. I was utterly charmed by her little sidebar story about being served these at a party where she was the guest of honor.

I really liked these cookies and the sweet/salty balance they had. I was a little concerned because the dough, when shaped into logs, looks, quite, well, icky. I persevered and the resulting cookies were well worth the effort. I used Scharffen Berger cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate. I baked these exactly 12 minutes and they were perfectly done. These were easy and I would certainly make this again.

Excerpted from Baking: From My House to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). Copyright 2006 by Dorie Greenspan.
Makes about 36 cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

3. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the dry ingredients, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

Getting Ready to Bake:

5. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

6. Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.

7. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

Almond Tart

Almond TartThe almond tart recipe is from the blog of David Lebovitz.  This came together very easily and the only tricky part was removing the sticky bottom of the tart pan.  The detailed instructions listed lining the bottom rack in the oven with foil and this was an absolutely crucial step and definitely saved me a clean-up hassle.    This was tasty and I highly enjoyed it.   I would definitely make it again.

Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie in ProgressI have sampled some of the baked goods at Tartine and have yet to be disappointed. This recipe is from the Cookbook via Tartelette. I followed the directions, except for some slight modifications. I made only enough dough for one pie crust. I blind-baked the crust for 20 minutes with beans as weights and then an additional 20 minutes without the weights. I initially used all of the ganache, but decided this looked like too much and scooped out about half of it (which was delicious to eat on its own later).  I used approximately half of the caramel.  The pastry cream came together well.  I added two thirds to the caramel, then the bananas and the last third of pastry cream.

Banana Cream PieI chose to whip 1 c. of heavy whipping cream and  spread it on top of the pastry cream. This wasn’t the prettiest pie and I didn’t bother with chocolate shavings, but it was extremely tasty. This was by far the favorite dish at the party. I want more right now, I wish some could instantly appear.

I really need to get this book, even if it is not the best written cookbook.

Candied Nuts

Candied NutsThis is from the Alice Waters book, The Art of Simple Food. I used a mixture of pecans and walnuts (about 50% each). These cooked up very easily. They weren’t as “candied” as I expected and the spice added a nice touch. They were hard to photograph and they are a bit “ugly”. They don’t have that hard candy coating, but instead a lumpy brown sugar coating. I would make this again, but only for a casual party or when I wasn’t as concerned about presentation. This was the only dessert from the party to make it to work and it received many compliments, so perhaps it is only my perception that they aren’t “pretty”.

Candied Nuts from The Art of Simple Food

Serve these nuts as candy, use them to garnish a cake, or fold into homemade ice cream.
Preheat the oven to 325 F
In a medium bowl whisk until frothy:
1 egg white
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
A pinch of ground cloves
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Stir until combined, then add:
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) pecan or walnut halves or whole almonds

Mix together until all the nuts are coated. Pour onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn the nuts from time to time with a large offset spatula until all the nuts are coated and dry. Let cool before serving. Store in an airtight container.

Dulce de Leche Macaroons (Macarons)

Dulce de Leche Macaron
I love French macaroons. I seek them out at every opportunity that I get. When I was in Las Vegas for a weekend, when a friend requested them, without hesitation I could point us in the direction of some. It seems odd that I had never tried to make them at home. Until now. I went with Dulce de Leche Macarons from delectable site of Tartelette. I made the praline a few days in advance – this was the easy part. I think I overprocessed the praline into crumbs/dust instead of small chunks, but it was a minor variation. The Dulce de Leche (from David Lebovitz recipe) was also very straightforward.  I used Safeway brand condensed milk and this was fine.  The macaron cookie part made me nervous, but I followed the directions and everything went smoothly.   I had some size variations as I practiced my piping skills.  These don’t quite have the “feet” that are usually seen and some were a little cracked.  They tasted delicious and that’s what really matters.  I would absolutely make this again.

Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake

Brown-Sugar Apple CheesecakeThis is from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. I became acquainted with this recipe while following the group, Tuesdays with Dorie, it was the group recipe on February 12, 2008. If I get my act together, I may even join the group, but making a recipe a week is ambitious. There are several online descriptions of the recipe, including here, here, here, and here. I sliced my apples (instead of cutting them in 8ths) using my all in one peeler/corer/slicer. I love that device, it makes using apples so much easier. This was a hit at the party and several people picked it as their favorite dessert. It was tasty with a nice flavor profile (cinnamon and brown sugar) and the cheesecake layer was very smooth and just what I expect from cheesecake. I had a little issue with the contrast in texture between the cheesecake and the apples, it was just slightly difficult to slice all the way through in a smooth motion. I placed the apples on the very bottom and I might consider placing them in the middle instead. Overall, I liked this recipe and would make it again.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Frosting

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes
For the monthly dinner potluck I attend, the drink of the night is Absinthe, aka the Green Fairy and to go along with it I decided I wanted something green. Plus I have been on a bit of a mint kick lately. I frequently drool over the creations of Chockylit and chose her Rich Chocolate Cupcakes Filled with Chocolate-Mint Ganache with Topped with Mint Buttercream as a delicious sounding choice. I had some Ghiradelli chocolate from Trader Joe’s that I used for the chopped chocolate in the cupcakes. I skipped the ganache, as it seems to be optional. For the mint buttercream, I used 1/8 tsp of peppermint extract, also from Trader Joe’s. I also added a bit of green gel food coloring. I don’t think I added quite enough powdered sugar, because I was able to pipe it, though it was also a little loose. When I first made these, the smell of mint in the kitchen was overwhelming and when I tried to first cupcake I was very nervous they were too minty. The next day at lunch they were just right.