I sat in a math talk (it goes with the territory) on Friday evening (it’s love). Since words like natural numbers and limits define the edge of my math comprehension, and words like rational approximates and loop products have never been in this household’s dinner conversation, my eyes began to wander around the lecture hall. I could not stop watching a girl who was compulsively rocking back and forth in her chair. And then, I tried to stifle my grin as I thought about my favorite David Sedaris story, A Plague of Tics.

I took to violently shaking my head, startled by the feel of my brain slamming against the confines of my skull…I’d like to think my nervous habits faded during high school, but my class pictures tell a different story. “Draw in the missing eyeballs and this one might not be so bad,” my mother would say. In group shots I was easily identified as the blur in the back row. For a time I thought that if I accompanied my habits with an outlandish wardrobe, I might be viewed as an eccentric rather than just plain retarded. I was wrong. (Naked p. 18).

I’ve been reading David Sedaris, Bill Bryson, and Ruth Reichl as of late, but it hit me a couple of days ago that I hadn’t read a book that was a challenging read since college. Since college! 4 years ago! I was an English major!

I went to the library and picked out City of God by E.L. Doctorow. I decided to start with this one solely because my friend Ali is  his granddaughter. If I’m separated by a mere degree from a prominent American writer, I mind as well read something he wrote. I didn’t realize until after I’d checked the book out that City of God is actually dedicated to Ali, as well as her brother and cousins.

Ali is very modest and Will and I were friends with her for a year and a half before she mentioned E.L. Doctorow was her grandfather. We were hanging out in her mom’s apartment when Will noticed she had a bookshelf dedicated to everything E.L. Doctorow ever wrote. “Wow, you guys must be big fans,” Will said. “We are,” Ali said, “He’s actually my grandfather.”

I baked these White Chocolate Cranberry Macadamia Cookies in between chapters. I really like them. They are buttery and crispy, and the salty-sweet-tart combo makes for great cookies. I’ll be making them again for sure, as my friends enjoyed them quite a bit as well. Guess I’m not nearly as modest as Ali!

(Adapted from White Chocolate, Cranberry, and Macadamia Nut Cookies from Bon Appetit, December 2006)

I decreased the amount of brown sugar to 3/4 cup based on Epicurious comments

I got 60 cookies from this recipe using a tablespoon sized scoop. Feel free to chop the recipe in half unless you have a lot of people you’d like to share your cookies with.

These keep for a few days at room temperature, or for 2 weeks in the freezer.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips (about 8 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped roasted salted macadamia nuts (about 4 1/2 ounces)
Recipe
Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
Use a standing or handheld mixer to beat butter until it fluffs up. Add brown and white sugars and beat until combined. Beat eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. Add the sifted flour mixed and beat until just mixed.
Use a fork to stir in cranberries, nuts, and white chocolate chip.
Drop by the spoonful onto the cookie sheet. Bake 12-16 minutes until cookies are lightly browned.

So much of what I make is based on my dislike of wasting food. I had leftover coconut milk from the Adobo Chicken I made and wondered what would happen if I used it in place of the butter in a cookie. I also had bananas that were on their last legs. And so Banana Coconut Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies were born

These cookies taste a lot like banana bread, and have a soft consistency. Coconut milk gives the cookies a puffiness and softness similar to cookies made with shortening. Except they taste waaaay better than shortening cookies. I would love to make these again the next time I’ve got two over-ripe bananas on hand.

BANANA COCONUT CHOCOLATE CHUNK OATMEAL COOKIES (invented by me)

Ingredients

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1.5 cups rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 ripe bananas

6 oz (a teeny bit more than half a regular sized bag) semi-sweet chocolate chunks

1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

Recipe

Preheat oven to 375

In a bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat coconut milk, and sugar until well-combined. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat again until well combined. Next, beat in the bananas. Once incorporated, stir in the oats and coconut.

Refrigerate the mixture for at least 45 minutes. Then scoop tablespoon-sized spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet spaced about 2 inches apart as they will spread.

Bake 10-14 minutes until light brown on top, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through baking.

Chocolate Puddle Cookies

January 13, 2011

OH MY GOD

Crispy and crackly on the outside, gooey brownie-like on the inside.

When has chocolate and hazelnut every led me astray?

NEVER.

New favorite cookie of all time. HANDS DOWN.

CHOCOLATE PUDDLE COOKIES (lightly adapted from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks)

I adapted these only by subbing hazlenuts for walnuts and decreasing the total amount of nuts by just a bit. My life is nutty enough as it is (ba-dum-cha!) Actually I just don’t like nut overload.

Toast hazelnuts at 350 for 10-15 minutes until gently browned.

Ingredients

2.5 cups hazelnuts, toasted

4 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar

1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

4 large egg white, room temperature

1 tablespoon real vanilla extract

Recipe

Preheat oven to 320F degrees and position racks in the top and bottom third. Line three rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Let your hazelnuts cool, then chop coarsely and set aside. Sift together the confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, and sea salt. Stir the hazelnuts into the cocoa mixture, then add egg whites and vanilla. Stir until thoroughly combined.

Spoon 1-2 tablespoons full of batter onto the baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 3-4 inches apart. They will expand a lot.

Rotate the pan about halfway through baking (6-8 mins). Bake until they get puffy and crack a little bit about 12 -15 minutes.

Let the cookies cool for one minute, then place them on a cooling rack. They’ll stay fresh in an airtight container for several days (like they even last that long in this household).

Thanksgiving blogging turned into a “Oh crap let me make like 3 Thanksgiving recipes in 2 days so my followers have something relevant to read,” so I thought I’d jump on Christmas sides and cookies a few weeks early. Of course I started with cookies. And the Christmas station on Pandora that I cannot recommend highly enough.

These are delicious! Part cookie, part candy. I altered the recipe by mixing crushed candy canes in with the chocolate batter. It was a very good alteration.

Some very exciting news is that I purchased a one-tablespoon scoop. I know that this is probably exciting to you, but for anal-retentive persons (who? where?) who find themselves frustrated creating irregularly-shaped cookie balls by hand, it is exciting. Observe my perfectly shaped cookie balls.

Now observe some of them whose guts leaked out during baking.

I also considered this recipe an opportunity to use up stray bits of chocolate from my pantry. Though the chocolate coating was mostly all semi-sweet, it had a little dark and a little milk thrown in there too.

But I guess in the end that evens it all out to be semi-sweet?

I don’t know but it sure tasted good.

And, of course, no ball recipe would be complete without a reference to Pete Schweddy. Click here for The Delicious Dish Enjoy. “I like to leave Santa a big glass of tap water, and rice. If Santa’s anything like me, Christmas foods really wreck havoc on the old digestive system.”

Bone Happy Teeth!

Hungry for more cookies? Check out my cookie archive.

CHOCOLATE COVERED PEPPERMINT COOKIE BALLS (adapted from Martha Stewart Living, December 2010)

The cookie “base” of this recipe (everything minus the candy canes and chocolate chips) is a base that may be used for many other chocolate cookie treats. For more ideas, check out the December 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Ingredients

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetend Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup PLUS 1/3 cup crushed peppermints

12 ounces chocolate (preferably semi-sweet)

Recipe

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Fold in 1/2 cup crushed candy canes.

Roll cookies or use cookie scoop into one tablespoon balls. Place about 1 inch apart on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate 30 mins, then bake until firm, about 14-16 minutes. Let cool.

While cookies cool, melt chocolate in a double boiler. Dip cooled cookies into melted chocolate and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup crushed candy canes. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, then enjoy.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies

November 15, 2010

A few weeks ago, I had a very confused 88 year old patient. She spent half the day telling each staff member, “I hope you enjoy your freedom, because I’m sending you to prison!” and the other half of the day pointing to women on the TV and saying, “Look at her LEGS! Ooo la la!” Her son came to visit. He was a very nice man, probably in his late 40s, wearing an expensive suit, well groomed, and very polite. As soon as he left her bedside, she pulled me close, as if to tell me a secret. She looked me in the eyes and, with a quivering upper lip asked, “Is my son selling his body for money?” I can only hope that if I become demented, I am half as entertaining to my nurses.

In other news, Will and I are spending our holidays together for the first time. We’ll be at his parents house for Thanksgiving, and I’m trying to audition a few make-ahead dishes for the holiday. I’m aiming for dishes that can be made 24-48 hours in advance, so I’ll take up minimal kitchen space on Turkey Day.

The first thing I made was pumpkin cookies. Will and I just love them! They taste a little sweeter than pumpkin bread (but aren’t too sweet). They have a cake-y consistency, but are slightly browned and chewy at the edges. I will definitely make these for Thanksgiving.

A note on my modification. The original recipe calls for a chocolate drizzle. I liked the plain cookies so much that I decided to drizzle half with chocolate and keep the other half plain. Good thing I did. Will and I both like them better without chocolate, actually. These are a delicate cookie, and we think the chocolate overpowers the subtle spices and the mildness of the pumpkin.

Oh and, uh, the “drizzle.” Some water from my bottom pot spilled into my top pot in my makeshift double boiler. And I just mixed the excess water into the chocolate, convincing myself, “Oh, the chocolate will probably be too thick without a liquid thinner anyway!” It was less of a drizzle and more of a slop. I just spread it around the cookies. Not pretty. Keep them plain. They’re much better. And they don’t look so… you know…

Well, this recipe is definitely a winner. I’m going to audition some more Thanksgiving dishes and will definitely be blogging about them in the upcoming days!

More on pumpkin: Pumpkin Ginger Butter, Pumpkin Ginger Muffins

More on cookies: Cookies Archive

What I’m reading:

PUMPKIN COOKIES (adapted from Chocolate-Glazed Pumpkin Cookies Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food)

My adaptations were to double the amount of pumpkin pie spice and nix the chocolate drizzle. Or “drizzle” in my case.

Yields about 24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin-pie spice, and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat until smooth. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture in two parts and pumpkin puree in one, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined (do not overmix).
  3. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto two baking sheets, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until puffed and edges are golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets once during baking. Immediately transfer cookies to wire racks, and cool completely.
  4. When cookies have cooled, set them (still on rack) over a baking sheet or waxed paper. Cool and enjoy!

I had a great Halloween this year. Our last few Halloweens were celebrated with costumes thrown together last minute. This time, however, we spent some perfecting our Halloween alter-egos. I forgot how much fun Halloween is when you’re so into it!

Here are Pauly D and Mary Katherine Gallagher. I think the bronzer is really what made Will’s costume. Will danced like Pauly D all night, talking with an accent and beating up the beat. I jumped around like a maniac yelling, “gym-NASTICS!” and also serenaded our friends singing “Sometimes When We Touch.” Our friends who hosted the party also turned their garage into a dance floor. There was a lot of singing along and at some point in the evening, we formed a conga line that danced to “Shots.”

Some may have even dropped it like it was hot.

What an insanely fun Halloween. Oh, wait, right, cookies.

Well these are quite good. They are a solid, crispy cookie. I suspect they’d be even better if you follow the original recipe and use peanut butter chips instead of chopped up honey roasted peanuts like I did (where can I find peanut butter chips??) If you can find PB chips, stick with Deb’s recipe. I believe that Deb’s original is the true Superstar.

PEANUT AND CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES (adapted from Peanut Butter Cookies at smittenkitchen. Original recipe from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (I used smooth)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped honey roasted peanuts
1/2 cup chocolate chunks

For sprinkling: 4 tablespoons sugar, regular or superfine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanuts and chocolate chips. Place sprinkling sugar — the remaining tablespoon — on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisss-cross pattern, but do not overly flatten cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Pauly D, Bernie from Weekend at Bernie‘s, and Kenneth from 30 Rock. It should be noted that Bernie acted “dead” in every picture to be in character. A+ my friend.

Raspberry Crumb Bars

March 15, 2010

On Friday night, a few friends and I got together to cook together and hang out. The menu was roasted vegetables, fetuccini with My Grandma Rose’s Pasta Sauce, and these delicious Raspberry Crumble Bars. There are few things I love more than cooking with friends. The time always flies and no matter what happens, the food still tastes great. And even if it doesn’t, you can laugh about it. For instance if–JUST THEORETICALLY–some olive oil dripped off the cookie sheet with roasted vegetables and managed to catch your friend’s oven on fire. So instead of making roasted asparagus we made SMOKED asparagus. It was like eating a dark green carcinogen. It also provided the comedic entertainment for the rest of the night. 

After we extinguished the fire with a spatula, we let the oven get rid of the smoky flavor and then made these delicious Raspberry Crumble Bars. They were magnificent. The crumble topping was somehow both rich AND airy. I can only imagine how great this will be this summer with fresh berries from the farmer’s market. My only regret is that I forgot to buy vanilla ice cream. Darn you 20/20 hindsight!

RASPBERRY CRUMB BARS (adapted from Blueberry Crumb Bars from Deb at smittenkitchen)

Ingredients

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh raspberries
1/3 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Recipe

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch pan. In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup sugar, 3 cups flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the raspberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes-1 hour until top is lightly browned.