Seven Days of Cookies: Cacao Nib Meringues a la Tartine

Tartine. The storied bake shop in San Francisco. Everyone has a Tartine story, almostimg_7759 all begin with the length of the line and include a remark on the size of their gougeres (softball). Even my own review includes both.

During my just under three-year-stint living in the Bay Area, I only visited Tartine the one time. I lived in Oakland and there were so many cakes to see and pastries to try. But their Cacao Nib Rocher is a sweet for the ages. Unforgettable. A mini-Matterhorn of vanilla scented meringue studded with cacao nibs. Such simple ingredients, it’s hard to imagine just why these are so spectacular. But they are.

tartine-rocher

The original from Tartine

As it happens, I own the Tartine cookbook. It includes a Rocher recipe but for their Almond version. However, since I am Nib obsessed, I decided to adapt the almond recipe to see if I could approximate the deliciousness of the originals.

Turns out, I could! Almost: I used to help my mom make meringues for some 1970s showstopper of a dessert so I used her  instructions (a holiday nostalgia moment), which call for three egg whites, cornstarch, and granulated sugar. (Tartine’s Almond Rocher recipe calls for 2 egg whites and powdered sugar.) And yes, both recipes call for one cup of sugar. Friends, I just can’t. So I reduced to 3/4 cup and these are plenty sweet. They are crunchy on the outside and a bit marshmallowy on the inside. These are perfectly lovely for the holidays what with their snow white color and dark specks.

The meringues are delicious on their own, but I suggest balancing the sweetness by serving two on a plate with a small puddle of bitter orange marmalade (warmed and strained) to round out the flavor.

Cacao Nib Meringues a la Tartine

Adapted from the Tartine Cookbook

Ingredients

Whites from 3 large eggs (about 1/2 cup), room temperature

¼ tsp cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

3/4 tsp  vanilla

1 Tbs cornstarch

3/4 c granulated sugar

½ cup cocoa nibs (I use Valrhona)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 250° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Whisk the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment and combine the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl. Starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium, whip until soft frothy peaks form.img_7755

Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add the sugar/cornstarch mixture. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted. Add the vanilla.

Continue beating until the mixture is glossy and very thick. Remove the bowl and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the cocoa nibs.

Using a #40 ice cream scoop, drop dollops of meringue on the prepared img_7756-copybaking sheets. You should get about 10 on each sheet. Use a small spoon to drop any remaining meringue on the tops of  the dollops on the sheet.

Bake for about 30-45 minutes, rotating and switching the sheets halfway through, until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside (not sticky at all), and still white. When done, let cool on the pan on wire racks for 20 minutes or until completely cool.

Serve plain, or with two on a dessert plate alongside a teaspoon of bitter orange marmalade (1/4 cup heated in the microwave and strained).

Enjoy!

 

Advertisements

Seven Days of Cookies: Cornmeal Fruit Biscotti

img_7733Here’s a thought. Make holiday cookies in September and take all photos. Then simply post, post, post in December.

Anyway, just in time for an afternoon break, these wonderful Cornmeal and Dried Fruit Biscotti from Alice Medrich are just waiting for a sip of Vin Santo.

The genius here is the addition of crushed aniseed. The licorice aroma might scare you at first, but steady on. It perfumes the cookies beautifully and is especially nice with the dried cranberries and apricots.

I love cornmeal-based sweets, both cakes and cookies. These do not disappoint. It took willpower not to tinker and add some orange  (because I love cranberry and orange so much), but Alice is a master of distinct flavor notes. Girlfriend does not need my help.

These cookies can be fragile so use a sharp serrated knife when cutting the baked loaf.

Cornmeal and Fruit Biscotti

Adapted from a recipe by Alice Medrich, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies

Makes about 30

Ingredients

1 c plus 2 Tbs (5 oz) all-purpose flour

1 c  (5.375 oz) cornmeal (I used white)

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened

1 c (7 oz) white sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 Tbs aniseed, crushed

½ c  coarsely chopped dried cranberries

½ c  chopped dried apricots

1 c toasted, coarsely chopped almonds*

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

img_7722Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt to blend.

Add flour mixture, mixing  until moistened. Mix in dried fruit and nuts.

Turn the dough out onto the parchment lined baking sheet, and with damp hands, pat and squish the dough into a 12-inch by 2-inch log. Usloafse a spatula or bench scraper to clean up any bits of dough clinging to the parchment around the log. (See pic at right: Pretty loaf on marble – no way to move that sticky baby to the pan. Use the parchment.)

Bake on the center oven rack for 35-40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until lightly browned and cracked on top. Cool on the cookie sheet on a rack for at least 15 minutes.

Slide the parchment onto a cutting surface. Use a long serrated knife to cut the loaf on a diagonal into slices about 3/8-inches wide. (If the loaf is too crumbly to cut, let cool completely.)

img_7730Transfer slices to cookie sheet, standing them ½ inch apart. Bake 15-20 minutes, until barely beginning to brown. Cool on rack. Once completely cooled, can be stored airtight for about two weeks.

Note: I cut my biscotti slices in half to increase my yield and, because, I don’t really like a long stick of biscotti.

Enjoy!

 

 

Seven Days of Cookies: Mast Bros. x 2

I’ve long loved the Mast Brothers Chocolate cookbook. It’s lovely to look at and full of img_7704amusing, literary anecdotes. The photos are dark and mysterious, the preparation guidelines have an insider’s vagueness, the cover is a glorious matte paper that evokes the 1940s.

In other words, these are speakeasy recipes. Best enjoyed with a bourbon-based artisanal cocktail in a booklined room, seated on a burnished leather Chesterfield that someone found in an alley. This is hipster baking. And I mean that in the very best way.

And, as I am with most things hipster, I’ve been slightly intimidated by the Masts. But I stepped up, making two recipes: Chocolate, Maple & Pecan Cookies and a variation on their Peanut Nib Brittle. (The brittle makes up for the non-cookbook Panforte from yesterday.)

Both are terrific. The maple sugar in the cookies is inspired. But both are true to their Brooklyn roots: These are treelight and firelight sweets, late night on Christmas Eve. Don’t forget the iced bourbon.

(By the way, the lovely plate is by Josie Jurczenia Clay, Berkeley, CA.)

Chocolate, Maple & Pecan Cookies

Adapted from Mast Brothers Chocolate, yield about 24 cookies

Ingredients

½ c pecans

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ¾ c maple sugar

2 large eggs

1 ¼ c flour

1 Tbs baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

10 oz dark chocolate chips (I use Guittard semisweet)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350.

Toast pecans on a silpat-lined baking sheet for 10 minutes. Cool and coarsely chop.

img_7710Cream butter and maple sugar in a medium bowl until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Add to the butter/sugar mixture in two additions, beating until combined after each.

Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Use a #40 ice cream scoop to form balls, placed two-inches apart on baking sheets. (I lined with parchment.)

Bake for 15 minutes. Cool one minute on baking sheet before moving to racks to cool completely.

Notes: These exceptionally delicious cookies came out flat, despite the baking powder and the chilling. I live in Los Angeles where maple sugar is a costly ingredient. I used the entire 8.8oz, $12 package from Whole Foods for these. I have since ordered a 48 oz tub of maple sugar from Amazon.

Almond Nib Brittle

Adapted from Mast Brothers Chocolate, yields 2 lbs.

The original recipe calls for peanuts. I don’t care for peanuts so I made this with an equal measure of toasted almonds.

Ingredients

2c granulated white sugar

½ c water

½ c honey

½ c cacao nibs (I use Valhrona)

½ c toasted and coarsely chopped almonds

2 Tbs unsalted butter

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

Preparation

Arrange a silpat or waxed paper lined, rimmed baking sheet near the stove, along with the nuts and nibs, baking soda, and butter.

Combine sugar, water, and honey in a 1.5 quart saucepan. Bring to a simmer and withoutimg_7709 stirring, cook until golden brown. (I get nervous around boiling sugar and color instructions. I clipped on a candy thermometer and let it go to 300F.)

Remove from heat and quickly add the butter, baking soda, nuts and nibs. Stir until the butter is melted. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt.

When cool, break into pieces.

Notes: This is fantastic.The honey notes come through strong in this brittle so be sure to use a great honey whose flavor you enjoy straight from the jar.

Enjoy!

Salted Caramel ‘Need I Say More’ Cookies

Hello friends, it has been quite a while since we’ve been in touch! I’m back with you, IMG_4168offering, of all things, a cookie.

Not just any cookie though. A cavity inducing combo of butter, chocolate and caramel. A carbo-phobe’s nightmare. A cookie that will get real with your resolutions and shatter them all to heck. And you. won’t. care.

From whence comes such a thing? A delightful blog called Grandbaby Cakes where Jocelyn Delk Adams shares the love of baking she learned at her grandmother’s knee. I saw a picture of these cookies on Instagram and had to track them down.

Salted Caramel. Chocolate Chips. OK?

Perhaps I’m late to this party. Perhaps you all knew about hiding caramel inside a ball of cookie dough, then sprinkling with salt. But if you didn’t, don’t be afraid. Take my hand. We’ll do this together.

Note: Fresh from the oven, I found these cookies far too sweet. I sadly set them aside thinking I’d have to give them to my sugar-cube loving friends. The next day, though, they looked so very delicious I ate one. Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous.

You won’t be sorry. Neither will your dentist. .

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from a recipe by Jocelyn Delk Adams

Ingredients

2½ c flour

2 tsps cornstarch

¾ tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 c unsalted butter (room temperature, or beaten cold until soft)

½ c granulated sugar

1½ c packed brown sugar

1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks at room temperature

1 Tbs pure vanilla extract

1 ½ c semisweet chocolate chips (I use Guittard, just shy of a 12 oz package)

1 11-oz bag Kraft caramels, unwrapped

Sea Salt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350. Line two large baking sheets with parchment, set aside,

Whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.IMG_4181

Unwrap caramels and cut each into quarters.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.

Lightly beat together egg, yolks and vanilla, then add to the butter in three additions, beating until smooth after each addition.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three intervals beating well after each addition. Add chocolate chips and mix until well distributed.

Cover the bocaramelswl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. (according to Jocelyn, two hours is better!)

Use a #40 ice cream scoop to gather balls of dough. Press 4 caramel pieces into each ball and place on prepared baking sheets, 6 balls per sheet.

 

IMG_4170Bake 14-16 minutes until brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle with sea salt and let cool on sheets 10 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely. I rushed the cooling step and created little caramel aliens on the bottom of my rack.

Makes about 30 large incredibly delicious cookies.

IMG_4184

Bonus Holiday Cookie!

OK, so yes, we completed the Seven Days of Cookies, but in the course ofIMG_3696 all that baking, I came across a recipe from Alice Medrich that cried out to be tried. So even though I’ve been rolling [in] dough for a week, I had to make one more batch of cookies.

These are called Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares. The recipe is from Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies. These are beyond delicious, a crispy-chewy sandwich of delightfulness.

Notes

  • Alice says these cookies can be customized to your taste through your choice of fruit and spice. I love cranberry and orange so I used dried cranberries and candied orange peel with just a touch of cinnamon.
  • Make sure your fruit is moist! If it’s not, Alice says to soak it in water, juice or spirits for about 20 minutes (any longer and it will be too mushy to use). Pat dry before using.
  • Do the best you can when rolling the dough. It was a bit sticky so I rolled it between two pieces of parchment, flipping it several times and smoothing the paper. Even then I fell short of the desired 16.5 inch length.

I wasn’t sure whatIMG_3697 to expect from this cookie. I knew it would be good (Medrich, dried fruit, butter), but I wasn’t prepared for just how good. The kind of good that makes you laugh out loud.

Which is truly the best way to conclude a “baker’s dozen” of Seven Days of Cookies.

Enjoy! And have a beautiful Christmas!

Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares

Adapted from Alice Medrich

Ingredients

1 3/4 c plus 2 Tbs flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened but still cool

3/4 c granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

Finely grated zest of one medium lemon and one smallish orange

1/2 c moist candied orange peel

½ c moist dried cranberries (coarsely chopped to about the same size as the orange peel)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup crystal sugar

Preparation

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

squareIn a medium bowl (with a mixer set on low), beat butter with the granulated sugar until smooth and well blended but not fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and both zests, and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix until completely incorporated.

Divide the dough in half and form each into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Wrap the patties in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven. Line two large baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the dried fruits with the cinnamon.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and let sit for 15 minutes to soften slightly.

IMG_3682On a sheet of parchment at least 17 inches long, roll one piece of dough into a rectangle 8.5 inches by 16.5 inches. With a short side facing you, scatter half of the dried fruit on the bottom half of the dough. Fold top half of the dough over fruit, using the paper as a handle. Gently peel paper from the top of dough. (If it sticks, chill dough for a few minutes until the paper peels easily.)

Press the top of the dough down lightly, then dust with half of the coarse sugar, again patting it lightly to make sure the sugar adheres. Use a heavy knife to trim thIMG_3683e edges. Then cut it into 4 strips and then cut each strip into 4 pieces to make 16 squares. Place cookies 2 inches apart on lined or greased cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, fruit, and sugar.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Rotate pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Let cool on sheets for about 10 minutes, then move to racks to cool completely.

Cookies keep in an airtight container for a week. Yields 24 to 32 squares. I wasn’t able to roll my dough to the full 16.5 inches so I ended up with about 24 cookies.

These are insane.

 

 

Seven Days of Cookies: Chocolate Molasses Buttons

OK, I’m veering from my original plan of only tried and true recipes to closeupinclude this one which I just discovered: Chocolate Molasses Buttons. These are a variation on the traditional molasses crinkle through the addition of cocoa and a chocolate ganache to dress them up. The cookie is crisp-chewy and the flavor is addictive. The molasses comes through clearly here, so if it’s not a favorite, I suggest you go with a traditional molasses crinkle using the best recipe I’ve found.

Also newly discovered this year is delicious. magazine out of the UK. Not sure how I stumbled across it, but their FB feed is fantastic, full of recipes and gorgeous photos. I’ve adapted this cookie recipe from their site, converting the measurements from metric to American Standard. Full disclosure: I weighed my ingredients (setting the scale to grams). If you’d like to do the same, the original recipe is here.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Molasses Buttons

Adapted from delicious. magazine.

Ingredients

1 c plus two tablespoons flour

1/4 c natural cocoa powder

¾ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground allspice

¾ tsp baking soda

½ tsp fine sea salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c brown sugar, packed

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/3 c scant, unsulphured molasses (such as Grandma’s)

Crystal sugar for rolling

For the chocolate filling;

1/4 c, generous, dark chocolate, chopped

2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

½ tsp unsulphured molasses (such as Grandma’s)

Preparation

For the dough,  in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Line two large baking sheets with parchment, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer), combine the butter, brown sugar and vanilla. Beat with on medium-high for about 4 minutes or until the mixture transforms from a dark gritty mixture, to a smooth, noticeably lighter color. Beat in the egg. Beat in the molasses until blended.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing until fully incorporated. Scrape dough into a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for about  2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 and position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

snowPour the crystal sugar into a shallow dish. Using a small ice cream scoop with a capacity of about a tablespoon, portion the dough into balls. Roll the dough balls in the crystal sugar, coating each one completely. Even space 12 of balls on each prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes or until they are set at the edges but still very soft in the centre.

Quickly pull the baking sheets from the oven to retain the heat then, using the handle of a wooden spoon, make a deep, fairly wide indentation in the center of each cookie. Return to the oven for 5 minutes more. If the indentations have become shallow, press down again with the wooden spoon handle. Cool cookies on racks.

To make the filling, melt the chocolate and the butter in a heatproof glass measuringIMG_3617 cup. Melt in the microwave on low in 30 second bursts, stirring well after each interval. Stir in the molasses. Transfer the ganache to a small Ziploc bag or disposable piping bag  (I use a small sandwich bag draped into a drinking glass) and work it toward the corner. When ready to fill the cookies, snip off a tiny bit at the corner and fill the indent of each cooled cookie. Let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour or until the ganache is firm.

Yields aboutchocmol 24 cookies.

Note: My cookies came out flatter than the rounded version in the photo on the delicious site (which look like traditional chubby thumbprints). The taste, however, is exceptional.

Seven Days of Cookies: Lemon Almond Shards

Lemon is not your typical holiday flavor but I love these cookies during theDSC00551 holidays. The bright freshness of the lemon and the super crunch is refreshing amidst the heavier, spicier seasonal sweets.

I pulled the recipe card for these from a Martha Stewart Living magazine while at the salon a few years ago. I’ve been making them year round ever since. If you can get hold of some backyard lemons (or farmers market), it makes a difference. I think these are pretty special.

Lemon Almond Shards

From Martha Stewart Living

Ingredients

3/4 c flour

3/4 c fine ground yellow cornmeal

1 tsp anise seeds

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 c sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1 large egg white, lightly beaten for egg wash

2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Crystal sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Gently crush the anise seeds a bit before whisking together with the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in whole egg and lemon zest. Reduce speed and beat in flour mixture.

DSC00552Press dough into an even 1/4-inch thickness on prepared baking sheet. Brush with egg white; sprinkle with almonds and crystal sugar.

Bake until golden, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Break into pieces.