Cake and Pastry

Gingersnap S'mores from The Cookiepedia 1

Gingersnap S’mores from The Cookiepedia

It’s no secret that I love cookies. Ever since I was kid, they’ve been my favorite dessert (okay, they might be ties with ice cream as my favorite). Mom had an old cookbook devoted entirely to cookies that was always fun to look through. Every holiday season, we’d pull it out and decide what we wanted to make – they were all good. Unfortunately that book is long out of print (she got it at a yard sale, and it looked pretty old even then). So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that a new cookie-themed cookbook was coming out, right in time for cool autumn nights that call for fresh from the oven cookies.

The Cookiepedia, by Stacy Adimando definitely doesn’t disappoint. First off, the book is adorable! From it’s brown paper bag cover to the bright colors and cute illustrations to the spiral binding that lays flat on the counter, this book is really nicely put together.

Soft & Fudgy Chocolate Pea-nut Butter Cookies 2

Soft & Fudgy Chocolate Pea-nut Butter Cookies

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Hopefully you know enough about me by now to know that I don’t mess around when it comes to dessert. I’m just not going to waste time (or calories) on something that isn’t totally decadent. That whole “black bean brownie” trend just wasn’t for me. I’m going to stop beating around the bush and come out and say it: these cookies have dry peas in them. And they were amazing. I promise!

I was 100% prepared for these cookies to be a complete flop. I regretted tweeting about them because I just knew that the recipe wouldn’t be good enough to post. But you know what? Not only were they not a flop, they were some of the best cookies I’ve made in a long time! Extra moisture from rehydrated and mashed peas makes these cookies really fudgy and brownie-like while the delicate gluten-free flour keeps them light and tender. The deep chocolate and peanut butter flavor masks any potential hint of pea-ness (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Even Shawn, who doesn’t usually touch sweets, helped himself to seconds and asked me if I would make more.

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In keeping with the gluten-free nature of this challenge, I used a sample of King Arthur gluten free multi-purpose flour that I’ve had in my cabinet for forever. If you aren’t concerned with gluten, substitute cake flour rather than all-purpose flour, to maintain the delicate crumb of these cookies. Because gluten-free flour can taste a little chalky when it’s warm from the oven, these cookies are great to make ahead. We liked them better the next day! If you plan to eat them the same day that you bake them, be sure to allow them to cool completely.

Although peanut butter chips don’t include wheat in the ingredient list and appear in many gluten-free recipes, they are not certified gluten-free. If you have celiac or a severe gluten sensitivity, you can substitute chopped, dry-roasted peanuts to avoid any risk of contamination.

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Orange, Vanilla Bean & Cinnamon Pound Cake 3

Orange, Vanilla Bean & Cinnamon Pound Cake

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In these last days of winter, it can be hard to find inspiration for new recipes – I’m tired of starchy winter vegetables, and it seems like there’s nothing in season. It’s times like these when I like to turn to citrus. Navel oranges are at the peak of their season and offer a refreshingly bright note amid winter’s heavier flavors.

This rich pound cake was inspired by one of my favorite breakfasts – Greek God’s Vanilla, Cinnamon, and Orange yogurt. I love the way the spicy, musky notes of the cinnamon and vanilla balance out the tangy citrus, and thought they would be a good way to jazz up my standard pound cake recipe. I really loved the way this came out — the sugars from the fresh orange juice caramelized and created a delicate “crust” around the cake, which is dense and tender.

This cake is perfect straight out of the pan but for an extra-special treat, try lightly toasting it under the broiler or in a hot pan.

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Kitchen Tip: Ever wonder how bakeries get their loaf cakes to crack in a perfectly straight line across the top, rather than in a haphazard mess? Simply use the edge of a knife to draw a line of melted butter across the top of the cake before you put it in the oven — like magic, the crack will form right where the line was drawn. When tasting for doneness, do not insert your tester into the crack — since no crust forms here, the cake will be moister and may lead you to think that the cake isn’t ready. Instead, insert your test about an inch to one side or the other.

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Click to continue reading and get the recipe for Orange, Vanilla Bean & Cinnamon Pound Cake –>

Bruléed Orange Butter Cookies 4

Bruléed Orange Butter Cookies

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I knew that I needed to bring a knockout recipe to the food blogger cookie exchange that I attended last week, so I turned to these citrusy butter cookies. With a delicate crumb, a texture similar to soft shortbread, and a creme brulée-like smattering of burnt sugar that lightly shatters when you bite into it, Bruléed Orange Butter Cookies are a welcome contrast to the denser oatmeal and peanut butter cookies that are so prevalent this time of year. Although these cookies are a festive treat for the holidays, they make a delightful accompaniment to a cappuccino any time of the year.

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While the burnt sugar topping is what takes these cookies to the next level, I understand that a kitchen torch isn’t exactly something that everyone has on hand. My first recommendation is to use this recipe as an excuse to get one – they can be found for under $20 and are also great for toasting the cheese on French onion soup. Alternately, you can brown the sugar under the broiler for 45 seconds; however, taking this approach will also melt the glaze and the cookies won’t look quite as pretty. Of course, they are incredible without the crunchy topping – just be sure to let the glaze fully harden (about 2 hours) before stacking them.

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Click to get the recipe for Bruleed Orange Butter Cookies –>

Chewy Brown Butter-Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies 5

Chewy Brown Butter-Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Psst! Hey… you! Over here. I have cookies.

Not just any cookies: soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies. With brown butter. Because what isn’t better with the addition of brown butter?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a dessert. I’ve been trying to stick to the whole healthy thing. But these last few weeks? They’ve been very healthy; some might even say too healthy. And life is all about balance. No matter how delicious my healthy recipes are, if I don’t get a sweet treat every now and then I get very cranky.

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And these cookies are just what the doctor ordered if you’re in need of a treat! Their delicate crumb and deep, nutty, toffee-like flavor has driven me to distraction. I had originally planned to use them for ice cream sandwiches, but they were so good on their own that before I knew it, there were only two left! (There also may have been a very pathetic instance of me standing in front of the open freezer, eating dough that I had put in there to bake another day. Who had time for baking?) I decided I had better seize the opportunity while I still could, and sandwiched some vanilla bean ice cream between my last two cookies. I immediately set aside any doubt that I had harbored about the potential for the ice cream to ruin a thing that was already too good to be true. It was easily one of the best ice cream sandwiches I’ve ever eaten.

I’ve already made a mental list of events that I can make these cookies for. Because I clearly can’t be trusted with them sitting unclaimed in my kitchen. If you have more restraint than I do — or are generous enough to share them with coworkers or neighbors who will suddenly be your best friends – I highly recommend making these. ASAP.

Chewy cookies not your cup of tea? Try my recipe for Crispy Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart with Brown Sugar Shortcrust 6

Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart with Brown Sugar Shortcrust

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The other day I mentioned on twitter that I have never had rhubarb. The responses were fast and plentiful, and most fell into a rage from disbelief to pity. I never realized it was so popular – I don’t even think I knew it existed until a few years ago! I decided that since everyone seemed to love it so much, I should take the plunge and give it a try. I went with the traditional combination of rhubarb with strawberries, but I didn’t want to commit to a whole pie. So I made a tart. A tart with a brown sugar shortbread crust.

Ok, fine. Maybe I just didn’t feel like dealing with pie crust. But the shortbread crust was perfect. Strawberries and shortbread. Strawberries and brown sugar. How could you go wrong? Especially when you start out with strawberries that look like these:

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I mean, strawberries have been awesome this year as it is, but take a look at those beauties! They were every bit as juicy and sweet as they look. Which is good, since I paired them with rhubarb. Which, in case you’re like me and have never had it before, is extremely tart. Especially when it’s raw. I don’t recommend doing what I did and taking a nibble to test it out.

Despite the tartness of that nibble, I could tell that this was going to be a thing of beauty so I forged ahead. Let the berries and rhubarb macerate in sugar to release the juices. Scooped it into the partially bakes cookie crust. Baked it until the filling became luscious and jammy, almost like a grown up version of a linzer tarte. Where has this been all my life?

Click to continue reading Strawberry-Rhubarb Tart with Brown Sugar Shortcrust –>

(Merry Christmas) Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake

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So here’s the deal… I wasn’t going to post this cake. First, because I didn’t come up with the recipe or change it enough to consider it my own and, second, because of that obnoxious little “healthy” part of Healthy. Delicious. But then I decided that it would be mean of me not to share because oh my goodness this cheesecake was beyond ridiculous and is 100% my new favorite indulgence. My mouth is watering just looking at the pictures.

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Three layers: a rich chocolate ganache spiked with kahluha, a fluffy, mousse-like layer of the most perfect cappuccino cheesecake ever, all topped with a cool, creamy layer of sweetened sour cream. It’s enough to turn even the staunchest of cheesecake and coffee haters into cappuccino cheesecake lovers. More than one person told me that it was the best cheesecake they’d ever had. It also got me a high-five.

The entire cake – all 16 slices – was devoured within about 5 minutes. I’m not even going to tell you how many calories was in each slice (believe me, you don’t want to know!) but it was worth every last one. It’s certainly not a cake to be baking on any old weekend, but for holidays? You can bet I’ll be making this one again! As should you! If you have any last minute holiday gatherings this week, I suggest running straight to the store to get what you nee to make this. It’ll be the hit of the night. And anyway, we all have another week before our diets start up again, right? 😉 [….]

Fat Free Pumpkin Gingerbread

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Happy Fall!! For those of us in the northern hemisphere, fall officially starts tonight at 5:18 – not that I’m counting or anything. As soon as the chilly weather starts, I begin to crave pumpkin but I’ve been resisting the urge for a few weeks now. I’ve had a few pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, but I hadn’t actually opened a can of pumpkin at home. Until now. Now that it’s actually fall, I can eat all the pumpkin I want.I already have more planned for later this week.
I don’t usually experiment very much when it comes to baked goods since its so easy to mess them up, but this was a new creation. And it was a success! I wanted to bake something that would make the house smell fabulous, and I couldn’t decide between pumpkin bread or gingerbread. Finally, I decided to combine them since the flavors seemed like they would go well together. The resulting cake is very dense and spicy like gingerbread, but the pumpkin keeps it extremely moist and gives it an extra layer of flavor.[….]