Raspberry-Ricotta Cake

This recipe encourages the use of frozen berries! It was very quick to put together, had a lovely presentation, and most importantly was delicious as well. :) We ate this cake for dessert but it would also be an amazing coffee cake. This recipe is from Bon Appétit.

Yield: Serves 8

  • nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ cups ricotta
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries or blackberries, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 350° (preferably on convection).
  2. Line a 9”-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended.
  5. Then fold in butter, followed by ¾ cup raspberries, taking care not to crush berries.
  6. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining ¼ cup raspberries over top.
  7. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes on convection or up to 60 minutes in a standard oven. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.

Note: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Strawberry Slab Pie

Despite being overbooked with so many end of the school year activities- orchestra concerts, dance recitals, field days, parties- we have to squeeze in strawberry picking! The resulting year supply (a well-rationed year supply, mind you!) of strawberry-vanilla bean jam makes it SO worth it!!

After making my special jam, I love to try a new recipe to use our overflowing 8 quarts of mouthwatering strawberries. :) This year the first new one was this amazing slab pie. The juice from the fresh berries resulted in a very syrupy pie. oozing… It also had a lovely hint of orange flavor. The crust was over the top buttery as well. Mmmmm.

This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff favorite” recipe contributed by Joanne Chang. I adapted the recipe to bake in a convection oven. Fabulous!

Yield: 6-8 servings

For the Pastry:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and chilled
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cold whole milk
  • baking spray

For the Filling & Pie:

  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered (4 cups)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons sanding or turbinado sugar

To Make the Pastry:

  1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the flour, sugar and salt and mix at low speed.
  2. Add the butter and mix at medium speed until almost incorporated, with some pecan-size pieces remaining, about 1 minute.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the milk.
  4. With the machine on, drizzle the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until the pastry just starts to come together, about 30 seconds; it will be crumbly.
  5. Scrape the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it together. Using the heel of your hand, smear the pastry against the work surface to work in the butter. Form the pastry into a 1-inch-thick disk, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350° (on convection, if possible).
  7. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving 
3 inches of overhang on all sides.
  8. Cut one-third of the pastry off of the disk. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the smaller piece of pastry to an 8-inch square; transfer to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and refrigerate.
  9. Roll out the larger piece of pastry to a 12-inch square, about 1/4 inch thick. Ease the pastry into the prepared pan, pressing it into the corners and up the sides; trim the excess pastry, leaving no overhang.
  10. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake for about 25 minutes (convection) or up to 30 minutes (standard oven), until just pale golden and set. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper. Transfer the pan to a rack and let 
the crust cool completely.

To Make the Pie:

  1. In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with the granulated sugar, cornstarch, orange zest and salt.
  2. Spread the filling in the pastry crust.
  3. Cover with the chilled piece of pastry crust, gently pressing it down around the edges.
  4. Brush the top with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sanding sugar.
  5. Using a sharp paring knife, make six 2-inch-long slits in the top pastry.
  6. Bake for about 45 minutes (convection) or up to 50 minutes (standard oven), until the crust is deep golden.
  7. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool, at least 3 hours. Carefully lift the pie out of the pan and transfer to a platter before serving.

Note: The pie can be kept at room temperature overnight.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Mini Pear & Blueberry Upside-Down Cakes

My daughter has been asking for an upside-down cake! When I spotted this seasonal recipe, and had all of the ingredients on hand, I made it to surprise her. :) A springtime spice cake was such a nice change of pace. The spices worked nicely with the blueberries and pears too. The mini size was just the icing on the cake. ;)

This recipe was adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics. I used my pretty Daisy cupcake pan- so pretty!

I’m bringing this tasty dessert to share with my friends at Fiesta Friday #72– hosted by Quinn @ Dad Whats for Dinner and Naina @ Spice in the City. Enjoy!!

Yield: 6 small cakes

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for tin
  • 6 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 12 teaspoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 ripe Bartlett pear, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into thin wedges
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (I used freshly ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large whole egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees on convection.
  2. Generously butter the cups and top of a muffin tin with six 8-ounce cups. (My 8-ounce cup muffin pan is a Daisy Pan! I used cooking spray instead of butter to coat the details more easily.)
  3. Place 1 teaspoon butter in each muffin cup. Top each with 1 tablespoon corn syrup; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons light-brown sugar.
  4. Arrange 7 to 9 blueberries in each cup.
  5. Cut pear slices to fit the shape of muffin cups; place 4 or 5 pieces on top of the berries, spreading slices to cover berries.
  6. Arrange remaining berries over the pears, and set tin aside. (I didn’t have leftover berries!)
  7. Into a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger; set aside.
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat granulated sugar and remaining 5 tablespoons butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk; beat until smooth.
  9. Combine the vanilla with the buttermilk.
  10. With mixer on low-speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, and beginning and ending with flour.
  11. Pour 1/3 cup batter over fruit in each muffin cup. Gently tap bottom of tin against counter several times to evenly distribute the batter.
  12. Bake cakes until golden around the edges and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 17 minutes on convection, or up to 25 minutes in a standard oven. Remove from oven; let cool in tin.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Mark Bittman’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I feel somewhat compelled to try different chocolate chip cookie recipes- especially when they claim to be “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER”…. (and I don’t think I’m alone!)

A couple of weekends ago, I had to make a dessert for my kids and their friends, so naturally I thought of chocolate chip cookies. I had seen this recipe adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything on Sarah n Spice.com. She said that they were “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER”- even beating out a recipe from Alton Brown. (WHAT!?!?) I had to try this one.

I liked that the recipe incorporated both mini and standard semisweet chocolate chips. I adapted the recipe only to chill the dough prior to baking. We ate them as is as well as in chipwich form with French vanilla ice cream. SO good!! I have come to the conclusion that I just appreciate a really good chocolate chip cookie. It’s too hard to judge “The Best!”

  • ½ pound unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375 on convection.
  2. Start off by creaming together sugar and butter in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the dry to the wet ingredients and mix until the cookie dough comes together.
  5. With a spoon, stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour or up to overnight.
  7. Scoop tablespoon-size mounds on a baking sheet. (I used an ice cream scoop.)
  8. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Other Chocolate Chip Cookie Favorites:

Vanilla Rose Cake

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When my daughter saw photos of a rose cake on The Quiet Baker– she had to have it! The rose cake frosting pattern, originally from I am Baker, I believe, is actually quite simple and seems to be popping up all over the place. I think that the pink sugar pearls were a nice addition. What a pretty cake!

My daughter requested a yellow cake with cream cheese frosting; I aim to please. ;)  I used a yellow cake recipe adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, via epicurious.com. The vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe is from Martha Stewart Living. This cake needs a LOT of frosting… I initially made 1 1/2 times the amount for a standard cake, but had to make even more! The recipe below may yield extra frosting (not such a bad thing)- but better safe than sorry. :)

The frosting needs to be warm enough to pipe, but not so warm that the roses slide down the sides of the cake. I had to repeatedly chill my frosting to prevent this from happening. I guess that is a drawback of warm weather… (Trust me, after this past winter, I’m not complaining!) I used a 1M pastry tip. Lovely. <3

Yield: Serves 12

For the Cake:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (must be softened)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (on convection).
  2. Prepare 2 standard cake pans by lining with parchment paper and grease with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a medium bowl lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla.
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend.
  5. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
  6. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full.
  8. Bake 25 to 27 minutes on convection or up to 35 minutes in a standard oven, or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pan on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.

For the Frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • sugar pearls, optional
  1. Beat together butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 1 minute.
  2. Reduce speed to medium. Add confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add salt, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Note: If not using immediately, cover surface of frosting with plastic wrap. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week. Before using, bring to room temperature, then beat on low speed until smooth.

To Frost the Cake:

  1. Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread 1 cup frosting on top. Place remaining cake layer on top.
  2. Crumb coat the cake. Chill for about 10 minutes.
  3. Using a pastry bag fitted with the 1M tip, pipe rows of rosettes, starting from the bottom edge and work upwards towards the center of the top. (Piping the side is a little more challenging than piping the top, so try to do a couple of practice rosettes on the side first, then scrape them off  being careful not to take off any crumbs.) (a 2D tip could also be used)
  4. Once the entire cake is covered in piped rosettes, pipe in little ‘stars’ to fill any areas between the roses.
  5. Add on edible sugar pearls, if desired.

Note: If frosting becomes too soft, refrigerate to firm up. The cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated overnight.

**Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.**

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Black & White Crème Brûlée

When my husband works at night, he is home with me during the day. It is the best! Not only are we able to do yard work and other things around the house (fun!?!) together, we occasionally also go out for a special lunch while the kids are at school. Recently, we had an amazing lunch and splurged on dessert as well- it was a black and white crème brûlée- SO delicious. Such a nice surprise to have the taste of chocolate underneath the classic custard. It had to be recreated at home! :)

I started collecting recipes while living in Charleston, South Carolina- many years ago. Southern Living was my absolute favorite recipe resource. I had saved this recipe for many many many years and was so happy to have found it! (My crazy recipe collection payed off!) It was similar to the delicious dessert we had enjoyed. I adapted the recipe to decrease the portion size, adjust the cooking time, to incorporate dark bittersweet chocolate, and to torch the brown sugar topping.

The chocolate layer is baked first. When I poured the custard topping over the chocolate layer, some of it rose to the top. I don’t think that the baking time needed to be adjusted- next time I would pour the custard layer even more slowly over the top? I’m not sure if it would make a difference, but it certainly didn’t affect the flavor. SO rich and delicious! This recipe was adapted from Southern Living. We enjoyed it on Easter this year; it is perfect for a dinner party or special occasion because it is made a day ahead.

Yield: 8 servings (using 4 to 5 oz ramekins)

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 5 oz dark bittersweet chocolate (I used 71% cacao Valrhona chocolate), finely chopped
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  1. Cook 1/2 cup whipping cream and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Pour into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together remaining 2 cups whipping cream, yolks, sugar, and vanilla until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Whisk 1 cup egg mixture into chocolate mixture until smooth. Cover and chill remaining egg mixture.
  3. Pour chocolate mixture evenly into 8 (4 to 5-ounce) custard ramekins; place ramekins in a 13- x 9-inch pan and a 8- x 8-inch pan. (I placed a silicone square underneath to prevent the ramekins from shifting in the pan.) Add hot water to pan to a depth of 1/2 inch.
  4. Bake at 325° (I used convection) for 15 to 20 minutes or until almost set. (Center will be soft.)
  5. Slowly pour remaining egg mixture evenly over custards, and bake 20 to 25 more minutes or until set.
  6. Cool custards in water in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cover and chill at least 8 hours.
  7. Sprinkle each custard with 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
  8. Using a handheld propane kitchen torch, brûlée the topping until caramelized. Let stand 5 minutes to allow sugar to harden before serving.

Note: Make the custard a day ahead and torch the topping at the last minute.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Tate’s Shortbread

My way of celebrating a friend’s birthday is to bake something for her… This is difficult for one of my buddies because she isn’t really a fan of desserts. It’s terrible. ;) (One year I actually just gave her butter! – it was special butter…) Well, lucky for me, I was able to find the recipe for her absolute favorite cookies this year. Yay! Shortbread from Southampton, New York’s Tate’s Bake Shop.

This super simple recipe results in perfect, slightly crunchy, crumbly cookies. The recipe was adapted from Baking for Friends by Kathleen King, owner and founder of Tate’s Bake Shop, via redtri.com. I used unsalted butter and coarse salt instead of salted butter. Delicious!

Yield: Makes 32 cookies

  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 lb (3 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  1. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (on convection). Line the bottom and 2 short ends of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper or a 20-inch length of aluminum foil, pleating the foil as needed, and letting the excess foil hang over the ends. Butter or lightly spray the parchment with cooking oil.
  2. In the bowl of a standing, heavy-duty electric mixer, combine the flour and sugar. Add the butter and mix with the paddle attachment on low-speed until the mixture looks crumbly, about 1-½ minutes. (Add any of the variation flavorings listed below at this point.) Press firmly and evenly into the prepared pan. (I use the base of a dry measuring cup.)
  3. Bake until the shortbread is golden brown on top and slightly darker around the edges, about 1 hour. Cut into 32 pieces while still warm. (If cooled before cutting, the shortbread will break.) Let cool completely in the pan on a wire cooling rack.
  4. Run a dinner knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the shortbread. Lift up the parchment or foil “handles” to remove the shortbread from the an. Cut through the previously cut marks into 32 pieces.

Other variations:

Lemon Ginger Shortbread: Add 1 cup chopped crystallized ginger, 1 cup minced candied lemon peel (or the grated zest of 1 lemon), and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

Brown Sugar Ginger Shortbread: Substitute 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar for the granulated sugar, and add 1 cup crystallized ginger.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread: Add 1-cup (6 ounces) miniature chocolate chips

Pecan Shortbread: Add 1 cup toasted and finely chopped pecans.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Gooey Cinnamon Squares

Wow. These super moist cookie-cake squares were good. They are snickerdoodle meets creme brûlée meets coffee cake (maybe even (our favorite) King Cake!?!). Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen has shown me- once again- why she is an amazing food blogger… This is her own description of this dessert:

“The base is slightly more cake than cookie, the topping is a cross between toasted marshmallow and cinnamon toast, and if you just read that and haven’t shut this book to make this happen in your kitchen immediately, I’ve failed.”

She didn’t fail to encourage me to make them- and we were very pleased with the results. :) This recipe is from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Wisdom from an Obsessive Home Cook by Deb Perelman. I used coarse salt instead of table salt. Traditionally cream of tartar is used, but 2 teaspoons of baking powder could be substituted for both the cream of tartar and the baking soda. I used the traditional corn syrup but Perelman noted that honey or golden syrup would work equally well. Great!!

For the Soft Cookie Base:

  • 8 T (115 g, 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups (188 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk (I used 1 percent)

For the Gooey Layer:

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) light corn syrup, golden syrup, or honey
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk, half & half, or heavy cream
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 12 T (170 g, or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 T (225 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups (155 g) all-purpose flour

For the Topping:

  • 2 T (25 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

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  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (I used the convection setting.)
  2. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch cake pan with at least 2-inch sides with parchment paper and either butter the paper and sides of the pan or coat them with non-stick spray.
  3. Prepare the Soft Cookie Base: Whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the 8 T butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the egg and the milk, and beat until combined, scraping down the bowl and then beating for 10 seconds more.
  6. Beat in the dry ingredients until just combined.
  7. Dollop cookie base over the bottom of the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer with a butter knife or offset spatula. Set pan aside.
  8. Prepare the Gooey Layer: Whisk liquid sweetener, milk, and vanilla together in a small bowl and set aside.
  9. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  10. Beat in the egg, scrape down sides of the bowl, and mix 10 seconds more.
  11. Add 1/3 of the flour and mix, then 1/2 of the vanilla mixture and mix. Repeat again, twice, until all of the flour has been mixed until just combined.
  12. Dollop over the cookie base and spread carefully with an offset spatula or butter knife.
  13. Make the Topping: Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a tiny dish and sprinkle it over the entire gooey layer. It will be thick but will come out of the oven almost like a creme brûlée lid, i.e. awesomely.
  14. To Bake & Serve: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the cookies have bronzed on top. The gooey layer will rise and fall in the oven but will still be a bit liquidy under the cinnamon crust when the squares are done.
  15. Let cool completely on a rack, then cut into 1-inch squares.

Note: The squares keep at room temperature in an airtight container for at least a week.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Apple Biscoff Crumble

We love love LOVE LOVE Biscoff cookies in our house. An absolute favorite. (You get the idea…) When I saw this recipe, it had to be made ASAP!! We ate it warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. It transported us to a Parisian bistro with every bite. Easy and fabulous!!

This recipe was adapted from Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan. I used a combination of Gala, Fuji, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith apples. Greenspan suggests that any fruit can be substituted for the apples (making it a year-round dessert!!): peaches, nectarines, plums, berries, or cherries in the summer, pears, bananas, or pineapple in the winter, or a holiday mix of cranberries, apples, dried fruit and nuts. I’m pretty sure we’ll be eating it at least once a season! :)

  • 2 pounds (900 grams) apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 3 T plump raisins
  • 1 package (about 8 oz) Biscoff or other speculoos cookies
  • 1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks, at room temperature
  • vanilla bean ice cream for serving
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (on convection).
  2. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan or a baking dish that holds 4 to 5 cups. Put the dish on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the apples with the sugar and raisins. Set aside, but stir occasionally while assembling the topping.
  4. Using your hands, break the cookies into pieces in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss, turn and press the cookies and butter with your fingers, working them together until you have a fairly well-blended ball. (You want the cookies to stick together.)
  5. Stir the apple mixture and then pour it into the prepared baking dish. Spoon any accumulated juices over the mixture.
  6. Pull off bits of the crumble mixture and strew it over the apples- you should have enough to practically cover all of the fruit.
  7. Bake the crumble for 25 minutes and then tent it with foil to prevent over-browning. Continue to bake an additional 10 to 20 minutes, or until the topping is deeply brown and the fruit is bubbling.
  8. Transfer to a cooling rack and let it cool until it is just warm. (It can also be eaten at room temperature.) Serve with vanilla bean ice cream.

Two Years Ago:

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Viennese Sablés

These cookies are supposed to taste just like the wonderful Danish butter cookies that come in the famous blue tin. (I think they may even be better!) Aside from that yummy association, what is really winning about them is their texture; they are very slightly crisp on the outside but the inside is soft and melts in your mouth. Mmmmmm.

This recipe is from Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan. According to Greenspan, they are traditionally piped into a “W” shape as both the initial for Wittamer, a famed pastry shop in Brussels where they are made, and for Wien, the German word for Vienna- where the cookies were thought to have been invented.

Despite requests from my kids to pipe the cookies into their own initials, I made the traditional “W”‘s. (I’ll get more adventurous next time!) Other suggested shapes included circles, pretzels, or swirls. I initially had difficulty piping the dough, but as the dough warmed up it became much easier to pipe. I was hoping that they would be worth the trouble- and- thank goodness- they were! :)

These cookies can be served just as they are or dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Greenspan suggests eating them with coffee or tea, ice cream, fruit salad, or creme brûlée. Delicious!!

Yield: Makes 2 dozen cookies

  • 9 T (4 1/2 oz; 128 grams) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 T (153 grams) all-purpose flour
  • confectioners’ sugar for dusting, optional
  1.  Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (on convection).
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  3. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift the confectioners’ sugar over it, then add the salt.
  4. On low speed, beat until smooth but not fluffy. (You want the dough to be homogeneous, but you don’t want to beat air into it.)
  5. Beat in the egg white. The white will make the dough separate and it will be slick and slidey. Keep mixing for about 1 minute, and, if the mixture curdles, don’t be concerned; the flour will smooth it out.
  6. Beat in the vanilla and scrape down the bowl.
  7. Gradually add the flour, beating only until it disappears into the soft dough.
  8. Fit a pastry bag with an open star tip, one that’s a scant 1/2 inch in diameter. Scrape the dough into the piping bag.
  9. Pipe the dough onto the lined baking sheets in tight “W” shapes that are 2 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches high (or in desired shape), leaving about 2 inches of space between them (the dough will puff and spread under heat).
  10. Bake the cookies for 14 to 15 minutes on convection, or up to 17 to 20 minutes in a standard oven, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies should be golden brown at their edges and on their bottoms and paler at the center.
  11. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer them to racks to cool to room temperature.
  12. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving, if desired.

Note: These cookies will keep for at least 1 week in an airtight container. They can be frozen for up to 2 months.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

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Vanilla-Bean Sablés

I learned so many things from this recipe! My first lesson was to learn that the sablé, a simple shortbread cookie, is the French equivalent of the American chocolate chip cookie. The “icon.” Greenspan says that these cookies are really known for their fine texture (sablé means sandy)- “snappy around the edges, cakier in the center- its fresh butter flavor and, often, its bit of saltiness.” I HAD to try her version- what an irresistible description!! :)

Typically, the sugar and butter in cookie dough are mixed until light and fluffy. My next lesson was learning that in order to achieve the desired sandy texture in these cookies, the sugar and butter are mixed only until a smooth consistency is achieved (much less) so that air is not incorporated into the dough.

My third (most exciting!) lesson was learning how to achieve super-tight cookie logs! Greenspan includes her party-trick technique (with photos in the book) that I describe below to share with you. Worked perfectly. LOVE it!!

This recipe is from Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere by Dorie Greenspan. Delicious and pretty cookies- perfect for dessert, a snack, or with a cup of tea.

I’m sharing these with my friends for Fiesta Friday #60 at The Novice Gardener- Enjoy!!

Yield: about 36 cookies

For the Dough:

  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 moist, fragrant vanilla beans
  • 2 sticks (8 oz; 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (40 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour

For the Edging:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • coarse sanding sugar or turbinado sugar
  1. Put the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  2. Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the pulp over the sugar. (I save the pods in a jar filled with turbinado sugar to make vanilla sugar.) Using your fingertips, rub the vanilla pulp into the sugar until it’s fragrant.
  3. Add the butter, confectioners’ sugar and salt to the bowl and beat on low speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy (you DON’T want it to get light and fluffy), scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  4. Drop in the egg yolk and beat for 1 minute.
  5. Add the flour all at once and pulse the mixer on and off to start incorporating it into the dough. Mix on low speed just until the flour has disappeared (or do this last little bit by hand with a flexible spatula).
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it in half. Shape each half into a log about 9 inches long. (**Trick to get really tight logs (perfectly round and free of air pockets): Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Place the cookie log one-third in and parallel to one short edge. Fold the remaining two-thirds of the parchment paper over the log. Grab the bottom edge of the parchment with one hand and place a ruler on top of the overlaying parchment with the other hand. Wedge the ruler against the bottom of the log. Push the ruler under the log at the same time that you pull the bottom paper toward you. Don’t be afraid to aggressively push and pull- it will result in a firm log. Lift the paper off of the dough.**)
  7. Wrap the logs in parchment and/or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (They can be wrapped airtight and put in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let the logs sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting and baking; no need to fully defrost.) I place them in a wrapping paper tube in order to ensure that they keep their round shape in the refrigerator.
  8. To Bake: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees (on convection). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  9. Add a splash of cold water to the yolk and mix with a fork to blend. Brush each log with this egg wash and roll it in sanding sugar until it’s evenly coated.
  10. Using a sturdy knife, trim the ends of the logs if they’re ragged, then cut the dough int 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place them on the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
  11. Bake the cookies for 14 to 15 minutes (on convection) or for up to 18 to 22 minutes in a standard oven, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The cookies are baked when they are brown around the edges and golden on the bottom.
  12. Carefully transfer them to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature. These cookies really shouldn’t be eaten warm; they need time to cool so that their texture will set properly. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for about one week.

Variations:

  • Lemon Sablés: Rub the grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons into the sugar with the vanilla bean.
  • Orange Sablés: Rub the grated zest of 1 orange into the sugar with the vanilla bean.
  • Nut Sablés: Lightly toast 1/2 cup hazelnuts (skin them while they are still warm), almonds, pistachios, or other nuts, finely chop them and mix them into the dough once the flour is incorporated.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

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Outrageous Chocolate Chunk Cookies

IMG_2844

Move over brownies! These cookies are super chocolatey, soft, and chewy. Loaded with chocolate chunks. Quick, easy, and delicious. The recipe for these tasty cookies was adapted from Martha Stewart Living; I melted the chocolate in a double boiler and adapted the cooking time to use a convection oven. I’m ready to make them again!!

I’m bringing these goodies to Fiesta Friday #59 at The Novice Gardener. Enjoy :)

Yield: Makes 2 dozen

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 package (10-12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (on convection).
  2. Heat chopped chocolate and butter over a double boiler. Set aside to cool.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high-speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate.
  5. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.
  6. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 8 to 10 minutes in a convection oven, or up to 12 to 15 minutes in a standard oven. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. (Do not bake the cookies to a crisp; they are meant to be soft and chewy.)

Note: Don’t worry if the batter seems thin. It should look more like a brownie batter than a cookie dough.

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