Butterscotch Pudding

My son is a major fan of creamy comfort food. He was obsessed with this pudding and its caramel notes. ❤ I loved all of the garnishes.

This recipe for this sweet treat was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. She was able to find the perfect ratio of milk to cornstarch to prevent grittiness. I found that the pudding had to cook a little bit longer to thicken.

I topped the chilled pudding with lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream, toasted and sweetened sliced almonds, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Next time, I may try candied pecans instead of almonds. 🙂 The original recipe includes several other options as well.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3/4 packed cup/165 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups/480 milliliters whole milk
  • 1 cup/240 milliliters heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon or Scotch whisky, optional (I omitted it)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • freshly whipped cream, sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving (I lightly sweetened the whipped cream with confectioners’ sugar)
  • chopped candied ginger, sliced almonds, Demerara sugar, shaved chocolate, cocoa nibs or flaky sea salt, or a combination , for garnish, optional
  1. Put egg yolks, cornstarch and salt into a large heatproof bowl (preferably with a spout), and whisk until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps. (I used a balloon whisk and a pyrex bowl with a spout.)
  2. In a medium pot over medium heat, combine brown sugar and butter, whisking, until the brown sugar melts, 1 to 2 minutes. (I used a sauce whisk so that I could get into the edges of the pan.) Let cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to smell like hot caramel and darkens slightly, about 1 minute longer. (Don’t walk away, or the mixture may burn.)
  3. Immediately pour the milk and cream into the pot. (It will bubble fiercely and seize up- the sugar clumps.) Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the clumps melt, 2 to 4 minutes.
  4. Slowly whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking yolks until smooth, then whisk in the remaining hot cream mixture. Pour the egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan and place it over medium heat.
  5. Cook pudding, whisking constantly especially around the bottom and edges of the pot, until it comes to a full boil. It is important to bring the pudding to a full, vigorous boil to activate the cornstarch. Otherwise, it may not set. (If you end up with thin, runny pudding, undercooking may have been the issue.) Also- it’s okay if the eggs curdle because the mixture is strained at the end.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring the mixture constantly, until it thickens enough to mound thickly on the spoon, 4 to 10 minutes. If at any point the pudding looks curdled, whisk to help smooth it out.
  7. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a heatproof container or bowl, then stir in the Scotch or bourbon, if using, and vanilla.
  8. To prevent a skin from forming, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding. (If you like the skin, don’t cover pudding until it cools.)
  9. Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
  10. If garnishing the pudding with toasted sliced almonds, evenly spread them on a parchment paper-lined rimmed sheet pan; roast in a 400 degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and place in a small frying pan. Top with granulated sugar, to taste, and cook over medium-low to medium heat just until the sugar melts and coats the almonds, about 1 to 2 minutes. Return to the lined baking sheet to cool.
  11. When serving, spoon pudding into dishes. Top with dollops of whipped cream, sour cream or crème fraîche, and any of the optional garnishes. (I incorporated some confectioners’ sugar into freshly whipped cream.)

Pan-Banging Giant Crinkled Snickerdoodles

I first read about Sarah Kieffer’s famous pan-banging baking method when her Giant Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe was published in The New York Times, adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. During the baking process, the sheet pan is intermittently tapped on the oven rack. The resulting cookies have a “crinkled,” rippled, crisp outer edge and soft center. I love how they look. The added bonus is that they have to be large- giant– in order for the method to be successful.

In Kieffer’s second cookbook, 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More, she has an entire chapter devoted to pan-banging cookies. I can’t believe that it has taken me this long to bake them! The original chocolate chip cookie recipe has been modified in the new book. I will have to try the chocolate chip cookie version, of course, but I loved the idea of making giant crinkled snickerdoodles.

I did find that the method was only successful with three cookies per sheet pan. It may be be because the dough is closer to the center of the pan but I’m not exactly sure. The pans with four cookies cracked on the edges and spread more than the pans with three cookies. I reduced the amount of cinnamon sugar topping in the recipe below because there was excess.

The original recipe states that it yields twelve cookies, but, after weighing the rationed dough, each batch (sadly) only yielded ten cookies. I immediately made a second batch to share after baking the first ten cookies! We loved them.

Yield: 10 giant cookies

For the Cookie Dough:

  • 284g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt (I used fine sea salt)
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 227g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Topping:

  • 25g (2 T) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 T ground cinnamon
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. (The remaining oven racks should be below this middle rack to not interfere with the pan-banging.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). (I did not use the convection setting.)
  3. Line 3 rimmed sheet pans with aluminum foil, dull-side up.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar, and nutmeg.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the 300g (1 1/2 cups) sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the egg and vanilla and mix on low speed to combine.
  8. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined.
  9. In a small bowl, combine the 25g (2 T) and ground cinnamon for the topping.
  10. Form the dough in to 85 to 86g (3 oz or 1/4 cup) balls. (I initially used the combination of a large and medium cookie scoop, but found it was easier to just weigh chunks of dough.) Place all of the dough balls on a plate until all of it has been rationed.
  11. Roll each ball in the cinnamon-sugar topping.
  12. Place 3 cookies an equal distance apart on the sheet pans. (One will be leftover to bake after a sheet pan has cooled.)
  13. Bake the cookies one pan at a time.
  14. Bake until the dough balls have flattened but are puffed slightly in the center, 8 minutes.
  15. Lift one side of the sheet pan up about 4 inches (10 cm) and gently let it drop down against the oven rack, so the edges of the cookies set and the center falls back down. (I repeated this lifting the other side of the pan as well.)
  16. After the cookies puff up again in 2 minutes, repeat lifting and dropping the pan. Repeat a few more times, every 2 minutes, to created ridges around the edge of the cookie. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes total, until the cookies have spread out and the edges are golden brown but the centers are much lighter and not fully cooked. (To keep track, I actually kept a paper to keep track of the timing: 8*2*2*2*1.)
  17. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes, then move them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Note: Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days (or refrigerate for up to 3 days).

Everyday Soft French Bread

Recently, my friend’s husband made this wonderful bread. It was so delicious, she ran over to give us a few slices to sample. Lucky me! 🙂 She also shared the recipe, of course. This bread is completely different from a classic crusty baguette. It is soft, tender, and quite dense. The dough is more manageable and it can also be made from start to finish in a single day.

The recipe was adapted from The French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France by Susan Herrmann Loomis. The texture and flavor of this loaf are reminiscent of my husband’s favorite sourdough sandwich bread, which also includes milk and butter in the dough. Both this loaf and the sourdough sandwich bread seem to be resistant to becoming stale- if they’re not eaten right away. 😉

Yield: One 18 by 3-inch (45 by 7.5 cm) loaf

For the Bread:

  • 250 ml (1 cup) whole milk
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast or instant yeast
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 325 g to 360 g (2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur), plus more for dusting
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Glaze:

  • 2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp whole milk
  1. Scald the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat, just until it has tiny bubbles around the edge of the pot.
  2. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or to a large bowl.
  3. When the milk is slightly cooled (and no longer feels hot), sprinkle in the yeast and sugar. Let sit until some of the yeast has bubbled up to the top of the milk, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the salt, stir, and slowly add half of the flour.
  5. Add the melted butter.
  6. Add up to 1 1/4 cups (187 g) of the remaining flour to form a fairly thick dough. If the dough is still soft and very sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get a dough that is firm, but not stiff. (I started with 325 g flour and incorporated an additional 20 g to achieve the desired consistency.)
  7. If using a stand mixer, knead the dough with the paddle attachment on low-speed for 5 minutes. Alternatively, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes.
  8. Form the dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. (I used a proofing oven.)
  9. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and position a rack in the center.
  10. Gently punch down the dough down. Pull to form it into a baguette shape measuring 18-inches by 3-inches (45 cm by 7.5 cm). (I formed mine into a 16-inch long shape because of the length of my baguette pan.) Crimp the ends.
  11. Let it rise until it is about one-third larger, about 30 minutes. (I placed it on a baguette pan in a proofing oven.)
  12. To make the glaze, melt the butter and the milk together, whisk to combine. Keep warm until ready to use.
  13. Brush the loaf with the glaze. (I used about 2/3 of the glaze.) Score the top of the loaf 4 or 5 times using a sharp knife, lame, or kitchen shears.
  14. Bake until the loaf is golden and baked though, about 25 minutes.
  15. Remove from the oven, brush the loaf with any residual glaze, and let cool before slicing.

Vanilla Bean Spritz Cookies

Classic butter cookies are my husband’s absolute favorite, so I had to try this vanilla bean version. He loved them! They are dangerously easy to make too.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used the ground cinnamon option, varied the shapes, and topped the cookies with festive colored sugars prior to baking.

Because the cookies are quite fragile, the original recipe suggests making them into sandwich cookies, filled with chocolate, Nutella, or thick jam, to increase their stability for shipping. We ate them as is!

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies
  • 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), preferably cultured, softened
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup/55 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or use 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or orange zest, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cardamom, OR 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 2 1/4 cups/290 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • decorative sugar, for sprinkling, optional
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla and the zest, spices or almond extract (if using), and mix until well combined and smooth.
  4. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add flour and salt until just incorporated.
  5. Load dough into a cookie press. Following the directions that came with your cookie press (models can vary), push the dough onto ungreased baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 to 1 inch between cookies.
  6. Sprinkle cookies with decorative sugar.
  7. Bake until firm to touch and golden brown at edges, about 8 to 9 minutes, or longer (up to 17 minutes) depending upon the size of your cookie press.
  8. Transfer cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Our festive 2020 “Gingerbread Mansion” (photo above). 🙂

Shortbread Jammers

Over the summer, I brought these fabulous cookies to the beach when we went to enjoy the sunset. They transported very well and everyone loved them. 🙂 Any type of thick fruit jam or marmalade can be spread over the top of the cookie base. By using raspberry jam, I thought that they could be renamed “Easy Linzer Cookies.”

The recipe was adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion via The New York Times, contributed by Vanessa Vichit-Vadakan. I baked the cookies in a 9×13-inch pan, per the original recipe; The NYT recently modified the recipe to bake in an 8×8-inch pan. I thought that they were perfect as is, but may “have to” try the thicker version to compare. 😉

Rice flour is suggested to make the cookies more tender. I used all-purpose flour instead and was pleased with the results.

Yield: 24 cookies (9×13-inch pan) or 16 cookies (8×8-inch pan)

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup rice flour (all-purpose flour may be substituted)
  • 1 cup thick fruit jam, preserves or marmalade (I used raspberry preserves)
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly butter a 9×13-inch or 8×8-inch baking dish. Line with parchment and butter the parchment. (I used a lined, metal 9×13-inch baking pan.)
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar at medium speed for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the salt and vanilla and continue to beat until well combined.
  5. Add the flours and continue to beat until the dough comes together.
  6. Press the dough evenly into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface. Prick it with a fork in about 20 places.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking, or until golden around the edges. Slide a dull knife along the edges. Cool for 5 minutes. (an 8×8-inch pan may require a longer baking time)
  8. Using the parchment, lift the slab of shortbread out onto a clean surface.
  9. With a knife, trim 1 inch from one of the sides. Crumble the trimmings into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  10. Cut the rest of the shortbread into 24 squares (9×13-inch pan) or 16 squares (8×8-inch pan) and allow to cool.
  11. Spread a thick layer of jam on each square. (I kept the cut cookies together and spread the jam over the top of the entire surface.)
  12. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the top.

Note: Layered between plastic wrap or wax paper in an airtight container, the cookies will keep for 3 to 4 days.

Tender Sourdough Sandwich Bread

I have two sourdough sandwich loaves to share. This recipe makes two tender and delicious loaves, absolutely perfect for sandwiches. The inclusion of dry milk and butter resulted in a prolonged storage time compared to typical sourdough loaf. It sliced very easily as well.

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. The levain is prepared the night before making the dough. The dough also incorporates instant yeast to expedite the rising times.

Yield: Two 8-inch loaves

For the Levain:

  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon (128g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (128g) cool water (60° to 70°F)
  • 3 tablespoons (44g) ripe (fed) sourdough starter

For the Dough:

  • 5 1/4 cups (631g) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
  • scant 6 tablespoons (50g) nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 57g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (340g) water (70° to 80°F)
  • all of the ripe levain

To Make the Levain:

  1. Mix all of the levain ingredients together and place in a covered container with room for the levain to grow. It will almost double in size, and will take about 12 hours to ripen (ferment) at room temperature (70°F). When perfectly ripened, there’ll be large bubbles (mostly below the surface) creating a somewhat rippled effect. It’ll appear almost fluffy. If the levain is covered with a froth of tiny bubbles, it’s a bit over-ripened; but don’t worry, you can still use it.

To Make the Dough:

  1. Mix and then knead together all of the dough ingredients, including the levain, to make a smooth, supple, and not overly sticky dough. (I used a stand mixer.)
  2. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours, until doubled in size. (I used a proofing oven.)
  3. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into 8″ logs. (I used a scale to divide the dough evenly, about 710 grams per loaf.)
  4. Place the logs, seam side down, in two lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bread pans. (9″ x 5″ pans will also work)
  5. Cover the pans with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they’ve crowned about 1″ over the rim of the pan, about 45 minutes to 1 hour (or up to 2 hours). (I used a proofing oven.)
  6. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
  7. Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the sides of the loaf feel firm.
  8. Remove the loaves from the oven, and turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool. Let them cool completely before slicing.

*All-purpose flour will produce a somewhat stickier dough.

Note: To prevent a wrinkled top surface: Slash the top of the loaf several times before baking, much as you would a baguette. This helps release the steam that gathers under the crust, which can produce wrinkles as the baked loaf cools.

Honey Beer Bread

My son has become obsessed with making this bread. It is absolutely delicious and he can make it completely independently. He has experimented with several types of beers but his favorite is a light lager because the flavor it imparts is more subtle.

This recipe was adapted from Little Sweet Baker. We have made it several times to serve with pulled chicken sandwiches- a great combination. The bread is buttery and has a chewy texture. Great!

Yield: One 9-inch loaf

  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) honey
  • 1 bottle of beer, of choice (330 to 355 ml) of choice, at room temperature (our favorite is Trader Joe’s light lager)
  • 4 T melted unsalted butter, divided (I melt the butter in the microwave in separate 2 T portions)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9×5″ loaf pan with cooking oil spray. Set aside. (I used a glass loaf pan.)
  3. Sift the flour into a large bowl, then whisk in the baking powder and salt.
  4. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the melted butter, followed by the honey and beer.
  5. Stir all the ingredients together until just combined.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and brush the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter on top.
  7. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove the bread to cool on a wire rack.

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