I decided to go with a “crackle” theme for my holiday baking this year. These three recipes are similar in execution and general appearance (no fiddly decorating but you do have to chill the dough so planning ahead is required) but the flavors and colors vary nicely. Each recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies. CHAI LATTE COOKIES are adapted from a recipe in the New York Times, using my daughter’s and other reader recommendations and experimentations. This is a cakey, not-overly-sweet, uniquely spiced cookie. A nice change of pace. GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES are adapted from a 2013 Bon Appetit recipe. I upped some spices and added others after reading user comments. These are quite spicy and have a lovely chewy texture. Using turbinado sugar for rolling gives them a nice crunch but you can use granulated sugar if that’s all you have. MINT CHOCOLATE CRACKLE COOKIES. This is a dark chocolate almost brownie-like cookie with a strong mint flavor and a pretty white crackle. Adapted from a recipe in Southern Living. I used a bit less sugar and changed the methodology a bit. I’m going to post each recipe on a separate page to make printing easier. Let me know if you have success! CHAI LATTE COOKIES GINGER MOLASSES COOKIES MINT CHOCOLATE CRACKLE COOKIES
A recipe for National Doughnut Day! There are a lot of steps, and it does take a chunk of time (as well as some whisking elbow grease) but the final result is worth it: a not-too-sweet super-moist cake with just the right blend of spiced-cider goodness.
(and preferably, baked goods) If you have a family like mine, where everyone likes different things, this is the recipe for you. Easy and quick, not too dense and not too sweet, these were great on their own or with a bit of butter or cream cheese. Based on this blueberry muffin recipe, I added chocolate chips to some and a berry variety to others. Yield: 24 regular sized muffins Ingredients 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1/4 cup almond flour (or flour of your choice) 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 eggs 1 1/2 cups buttermilk* 3/4 cup canola or other light vegetable oil 2 teaspoons vanilla extract about 2 cups berries, chocolate chips, nuts or other add-ins Turbinado or other coarse sugar for dusting (optional) Instructions Preheat the oven to 400°. Line or grease 24 muffin cups. In a large bowl, whisk together the first five ingredients In a medium bowl, beat eggs and then whisk in next three ingredients. *if you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute sour cream, plain yogurt, regular milk and/or cream. If you use the latter two, cut the baking soda Mix ingredients into the dry, just until blended. If everyone wants the same kind of muffin, gently fold in the final ingredients and then fill each muffin cup almost to the top If people want different add-ins, fill each muffin cup halfway with batter, drop in a few berries/chips/nuts, add more muffin batter and sprinkle a few more add-ins on top Sprinkle with coarse sugar Bake 20 – 25 minutes, until tops spring back to a gentle touch, or tester comes out clean. Don’t overbake! Cool on a rack for five minutes and serve. You can print the recipe here:
(and preferably, baked goods) This is an adaptation of a favorite from a bakery that was in biking distance of my house in Los Angeles, the Buttercake Bakery. The recipe I started with, printed in the LA Times, was a bit too sweet for me, so I made a few adjustments. Today, since we are doing our best to limit visits to the grocery store, I had to make do with some ingredients (see photo below of dairy product lineup) . It still came out yummy! Ingredients 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder ¾ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon baking soda** 2 cups sugar 1 cup butter, room temperature 4 eggs, room temperature 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup buttermilk* 1 cup chocolate chips (optional) ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened (good quality) cocoa powder ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water powdered sugar, for dusting (optional) *if you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute (or use a combo, as I did today) of sour cream and/or plain yogurt **if you don’t have any of the above dairy options, you can use regular milk but if that’s the case, eliminate the baking soda Directions Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter well and lightly flour a 12-cup bundt pan. Whisk together the first four ingredients in a medium bowl. In a stand mixer, cream sugar and butter. Beat in eggs one at a time, then vanilla. Mix in flour and buttermilk alternately in a couple batches. Stir in chocolate chips if using. In a medium glass or metal bowl, stir together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. Then mix in about 1/3 of the flour mixture. Pour half of what’s left of the plain batter into the bundt pan. Pour chocolate mixture on top, and then the rest of the plain batter on top of that. Gently swirl with a wooden skewer or sharp knife to marble (don’t over do this). Bake for about an hour, until the cake springs back lightly and tester comes out clean. Don’t overbake. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack and then invert onto serving plate. Dust lightly with powdered sugar and serve. You can print the recipe here:
(and preferably, baked goods) BLUEBERRY GALETTE A galette is a rustic tart that cooks up faster than a double crust pie. It can be totally freeform, that is, the fruit just gets piled in, or you can cut the crust into a perfect circle and arrange things fussilly. I prefer the former. If you have pie crust ready to go in your freezer, then it comes together super easily, with whatever fruit you have on hand. All the measurements are rough – it really takes tasting and eyeballing. Luckily, the recipe is very forgiving and will likely taste fantastic, even if it looks a bit messy. NOTE: I highly recommend the recipe Basic Flaky Pie Crust. I make it with a food processor, regular flour and it is buttery and perfect every time. I don’t freeze the flour, but I do what you’re supposed to with the butter. It freezes well. Also, I know the vinegar seems weird, but it’s chemistry or something. Ingredients One Pie Crust 1 1b. fresh blueberries, about 3 cups, rinsed and de-stemmed and then set on a towel to dry a bit zest of one large lemon or an orange about 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or orange juice 2 – 4 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour ¼ teaspoon cinnamon ¼ teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces 1 egg, beaten or 1 tablespoon heavy cream Directions Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, gently toss blueberries with lemon zest and juice, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt. (Start with 2 tablespoons sugar and test for desired sweetness, add more if you want.) Roll out dough (on a silicone sheet or pastry slab, slightly floured) to a 12” round. Top with the parchment paper and flip over. Place on baking sheet. Spoon blueberry mixture in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold edges of dough over blueberries, pleating as you go. You’ll have an open section in the center that’s not covered with crust. Dot that filling with the butter pieces. Brush the crust with the egg or cream wash and sprinkle with about a teaspoon of sugar. Bake until filling is bubbly and pastry is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly and serve with vanilla ice cream, citrus sorbet or whipped cream.
(and preferably, baked goods) As promised, here’s my other go-to brownie recipe, not quite as heart-stopping but still quite excellent. (Unless you’re my kids. See previous post.) Still no photos. The only caveat – it can be tough to get these baked the right amount. If you keep them in too long, they’ll be dry, if you take them out too soon, they’ll be almost underdone. My vote leans toward the latter. TRIPLE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES 6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter 1 1/2 cups sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla 4 large eggs 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips In a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water melt the bittersweet chocolate and the unsweetened chocolate with the butter, stirring until the mixture is smooth, remove the bowl from the heat, and let the mixture cool until it is lukewarm. Stir in the sugar and the vanilla and add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Stir in the salt and the flour, stirring until the mixture is just combined, and stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into a well-buttered and floured 13- by 9-inch baking pan, smooth the top, and bake the mixture in the middle of a preheated 350°F oven for 25 – 30 minutes, or until a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it. Do. Not. Overbake. Let the mixture cool completely in the pan on a rack before cutting.
(and preferably, baked goods) Per request, I am posting “The Farm” brownie recipe today. But I’m also posting another brownie recipe to follow. You’ll see that they follow pretty much the same procedure, which to me is key to making excellent brownies. The differences are in the amounts of some ingredients (butter goes from 3 to 2 sticks, eggs from 6 to 5) and the chocolate varieties. Basically, this one is more expensive and over the top rich. The next one is better for every day but still pretty awesome.* Sadly, I have no photos to share since they always just get eaten up fast. But you know what brownies look like. CHOCOLATE BROWNIES #1 I got this recipe from Gourmet years ago, who published it when someone asked for The Farm of Beverly Hills‘ recipe for brownies. I make them only for special occasions because they are really, really rich. The comment I get most often is, “I thought I had the best brownie recipe, but…” Good ingredients are important, and make sure you let them sit at least 2 hours before cutting or you’ll just have a big mess. Otherwise, it’s an easy as pie recipe (way easier, actually). 3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces 12 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped 6 large eggs 1 1/4 cups cake or pastry flour (I use All Purpose, honestly) 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process) 3 cups sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 13- by 9- by 2-inch metal baking pan, knocking out excess flour. Melt butter with chocolate in a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from pan and whisk in eggs, 1 at a time. Sift together flour and cocoa powder in a separate bowl and stir into batter with sugar and salt. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven until top is firm and a tester inserted into center comes out with crumbs adhering, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a rack, about 2 hours, before cutting into squares. *FULL CONFESSION: my kids prefer these brownies. Where, oh where did I go wrong?