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Wednesday
Jul092014

Waste Not Want Not: Compost Cookies Recipe

CakeSpy note: this is a guest post from Stefanie Ellis. When she's not busy masquerading as a giant Thin Mint, Stefanie writes about food and relationships. She is a former restaurant critic and food writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and St. Louis magazine, and is the PR director for Girl Scouts of Western Washington. You can reach her via email here.

I have a confession to make: I don’t really like cookies. I’ve tried really hard to like them. I was even sprawled out on a settee while some handsome man fed some to me, and that STILL didn’t work. Crazy? Maybe. But I’m more of a cake kind of girl. I would ditch a handsome man if it meant I could spend an evening on my settee with a devil’s food cake slathered in bittersweet chocolate ganache. For me, cake takes the cake.

However, there have been a handful of experiences in my life where cookies have actually competed with my love for cake, and left a rather remarkable impression.

Like when I was little, and my mom would serve me chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven when I came home from school. I never knew when these magical, melty kitchen table sessions would happen, so it made it even more exciting. The chocolate would get all over my face, and we’d laugh and talk about our days. I can’t imagine anything more wonderful than that feeling, or that perfect marriage of sugar, butter and chocolate. My local grocery, Metropolitan Market, started making giant chocolate chip cookies with several types of chocolate. They make them every five minutes, so when you walk into the store, there’s always a fat, gooey cookie waiting for you. Instantly, I am catapulted back to my kitchen table, laughing with mom. Sometimes I eat one while I walk through the store, only to realize I had chocolate all over my face the whole time.


When I went to college, my grandmother would send me care packages filled with oatmeal cookies with apricots and pecans. I don’t like oatmeal cookies, but hers were saucer-sized orbs of the softest, silkiest, cinnamon-kissed dough I’ve ever tasted. The apricots paired beautifully with the cinnamon, and she ground the oatmeal so fine you didn’t even know it was in the recipe. These are the only oatmeal cookies I could ever imagine eating every day for the rest of my life.

 

When I went to pastry school, I made my first macarons. They were pink. But more than that, they were so crisp and delicate, it seemed as though they might shatter if you laughed within close proximity. The insides were tender and ethereal, like a pillow made of cotton candy. When I melded the fragile shells together with homemade raspberry jam, it felt like I was painting the inside of a princess castle.

And let’s not forget Girl Scout Cookies. I’m not just saying this because I work for Girl Scouts. I couldn’t, even if I wanted. Girl Scout honor. I’ve had a love affair with Girl Scout Cookies ever since I can remember. To me, Samoas and Thin Mints are right up there with Nutella eaten straight out of the jar. They’re a luxury, and I don’t eat them year-round, as many people believe (people also think our office has stairs made of Do-Si-Dos). When I do eat them, I’m transported back to the sweetest moments in my childhood, when my biggest stressor was whether or not to play freeze tag, jump rope or eat the blackberries from my neighbor’s yard.

Each one of these cookie memories has been completely different – sort of like a bunch of different experiences were dumped into my brain and mixed around, creating a sweet feeling of joy in my heart.

I realize they’ve created the perfect base for these Crazy-Sexy Compost Cookies, my new favorite. Yes, that means I kind of like cookies now. I guess I can thank Christina Tosi for that. I’ve been hearing of her compost cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar for years, and love that her recipe uses coffee grounds. I’m a big compost geek. I have my master composter’s certification, and have even been known to take my compostables on planes from time to time.

I always have random bits of ingredients in my pantry that can never really be used for a single recipe, and that’s why I love these cookies so much. Have just a few ingredients that don’t go together at all? No problem! You might even find, as I have, that cookies are even better when you start adding in wacky ingredients. Goldfish crackers or Almond Roca, anyone?


Tosi’s recipe calls for butterscotch, pretzels, graham cracker crust and oats, and I have eliminated those ingredients, replacing the oats with maple pecan granola, and adding in banana chips and crystallized ginger. I also use almond flour in place of some of the regular flour, which makes for a wonderful texture. All in all, this cookie has really challenged my perception of what a cookie can or should be. Not to mention it has done a nice job in helping me remember that cookies, like memories, are much better when you throw a bunch of different things together and mix them around to create a sweet feeling of joy in your heart – and in your stomach.

Crazy-Sexy Compost Cookies

Note: Compost cookies are trademarked by Momofuku. These cookies were not made for resale.

YIELD: Approximately 25 cookies

INGREDIENTS

1½ sticks butter, room temperature (12 T)

3/4 cup raw sugar

¼ cup coconut sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 cup unbleached flour

1/4 cup ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 T maple agave syrup or maple syrup

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup banana chips, crushed

2T candied ginger, finely chopped

1/2 cup granola, such as Trader Joe’s Maple Pecan

1 cup potato chips, crushed

Procedure

 

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat until well blended. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until dough comes together, about 30 seconds. Do not over mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  3. With a spatula, add the chocolate chips, banana chips, granola, maple agave syrup, ginger and potato chips. You’ll want to crush the ingredients a bit to make sure there aren’t large chunks, but do so judiciously, not incessantly.
  4. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Arrange the chilled dough 4 inches apart on parchment or silicone baking mat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown.

 

Cool the cookies completely before transferring to a plate or container for storage. At room temperature, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

Monday
Jul072014

Pastissets: A Party-Perfect Cookie Recipe from Spain

Pastissets

Last week, I was invited to a party. This was an exciting prospect, because typically at parties there is cake. Or as Julia Child once smartly and aptly put it, "a party without cake is just a meeting."

It was a potluck party, so naturally I decided to bring something sweet. Since these were new friends, I also wanted to kiss up a little bit. So in knowing that they had lived in Barcelona for a while (showoffs), I decided to find a recipe from Spain. Maybe a cake?

Well, almost: a cookie. In my brief research, I discovered a little something called pastissets. In looking at the recipe, which relied on lard for a tender texture and confectioners' sugar for a snowy coating, it struck me that these cookies seem very much like the love child of New Mexican biscochitos and Mexican wedding cakes (or snowballs, or whatever you want to call them). No nuts, but still that melt-in-your mouth texture. 

Pastissets

Apparently, in Spain sometimes pastissets are more like a sweet mini empanada cookie; it is in particular in Amposta that they're created in this way, sometimes with olive oil, sometimes with lard. The fact that some versions are made with anisette makes them only more similar to biscochitos!

I made mine with butter because I wasn't sure if any vegetarians would be in the house, and they went over quite well. I left some for my sweetie, who had to work, and he left me this note: 

Pastissets

So I would say they are a success.

Just to review: melt in your mouth. Nice and tender. Like Snowballs or Russian teacakes or Mexican wedding cakes but without the nuts!

I give them an A+. I hope you do too.

Pastissets

Makes about 24

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (original recipe called for 2/3 cup lard and 1/3 cup butter)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon peel, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • confectioners' sugar, sifted ( for dusting)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth.
  3. Incorporate the sugar, egg yolk and lemon peel. Stir in the vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the cinnamon, flour, and salt; work into the buttery mixture with your hands to form a smooth dough.
  5. Roll the cookies into 
  6. Pastissets
  7. Arrange cookies on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden.
  8. Allow to cool briefly on the cookie sheet as they are delicate when warm. If one looks like it's trying to hide, eat that one first. 
  9. Pastissets
  10. Coat with confectioners' sugar twice: once after they've cooled for a few minutes, and again before serving. 
  11. Pastissets
Saturday
Jul052014

How To Make Sticky Buns Using Pizza Dough

I am totally not kidding when I tell you that sticky buns and pizza are one step closer to holy union in this recipe, which uses pizza dough as the base for tasty, carb-y sticky buns. You've got to try it to believe it. Here's the recipe.

Saturday
Jul052014

Let's Taco About It: An Illustrated Guide to Tacos

Just what you've been lacking in life: an illustrated primer on tacos, featuring emotive taco illustrations! Learn all about tacos and enjoy the cuteness here

Friday
Jul042014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Happy 4th of July! We have a couple of links appropriate for the holiday, but they're all awesome.

Hartford election cupcakes: an American classic.

American flag cake: because, well, of course.

If you have any leftover, make a cake shake.

A great collection of food quotes, including one by ME.

How could cherry pie get better? UM, PUT IT IN A CHOCOLATE CRUST.

If this cake doesn't make you smile, I don't know what will. 

Coconut sugar banana pudding popsicles. They sound vaguely healthy but I think I could rally.

Dark chocolate ice cubes. I'm obsessed, you?

Hazelnut poppyseed cookies. Don't they look amazing?

In case you missed it: Candy Warhol, a tutorial on how to make a fine art inspired candy mosaic.

A retired woman bakes a pie a day and gives each to someone. I love this story! 

Everyone wants a unicorn in roller skates on their t-shirt. Here's how to make one yours.

This is not sweet, but it's one of the best savories you'll try this summer. Mexican street style corn!

I adore this homemade ice cream cake

Book of the week: Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From a Little Neighborhood Bakery. Not only is this book pretty as a picture, with a color scheme which will make you ache to wear a party dress and hold a tea party, but it's got a solid collection of classic recipes, including the best homemade marshmallows I've ever tasted and some especially wonderful lemon squares.

Wednesday
Jul022014

American Flag Shortbread Recipe

When the settlers came over from Europe, they didn't just bring a will for freedom and revolution: they brought over their shortbread recipes. 

Shortbread is perhaps one of the world's most perfect, and most simple, foods. Consisting primarily of flour, butter, sugar, and salt, it can be prettied up in any number of ways, but is in its essence a humble food. 

American Flag shortbread

This recipe takes but one liberty: the addition of cornstarch to mimic the lower-protein flours which might have been used in old-school Europe; but otherwise it is fairly straightforward.

American Flag shortbread

To make it a bit more festive, I reserved about 1/8 of the dough, which tinted red. I then made the majority of the dough into a rectangle, removing a portion from the left hand corner to make the blue portion of the flag. I tinted it after I cut it out; this was how I ensured I had enough dough.

Now, I should tell you that decorating with tinted shortbread is tough because you can't really roll or shape it. So I gathered crumbles and kind of pressed them into stripes, and simply shaped and placed the blue portion where I had removed it initially. I used the leftover bits to form ugly multicolored balls of shortbread. They still tasted good. 

American Flag shortbread

It baked up pretty sweet, don't you think? Here's the recipe for shortbread--it's a keeper. 

How to make perfect shortbread

as seen on Craftsy

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (4 ounces)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar (about 2 ounces)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch (about 1 ounce)
  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Procedure

  1. Cut the butter into pieces. Using a wooden spoon, mix the butter and sugar by hand until pale and creamy.
  2. Sift the flour, cornstarch and salt into the bowl of creamed butter and sugar, and mix well, continuing to use your wooden spoon. It will begin to come together in a somewhat crumbly dough, but it should very easily clump together if you gather it with your hand. If baking as a large round or as small cutout cookies, transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Lightly flour a work surface. Place the dough on top. Roll out the dough until it is about ¼-inch thick.
  4. Decide what shape you’d like the shortbread in (follow the steps above, to flag-ify it). If you’d like it to be a round, shape it into a circle by hand. If you’d like it to bake in a pan, press it into a greased 8″ by 8″ pan. Or, simply cut the rolled dough using a lightly floured cutter. Score the dough if it will be sliced after baking, and lightly prick all over with the tines of a fork.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the sides and bottoms are lightly browned but the top is just set. Step 7: Let cool on the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Don’t get greedy, or you might burn your mouth.

Happy 4th of July! Don't forget to make some pop rocks cookies, too.

Wednesday
Jul022014

Mexican Street Style Corn

Nope. Not sweet. Savory. But oh, so tasty. Seriously, this is the best thing to ever happen to corn. It's my favorite type of corn aside from unicorns. Here's how to do it.

Monday
Jun302014

Millionaire's Shortbread Cookie Cups Filled with Milk

Milk filled cookie shooters

Cronuts. Brookies. Donnolis. S'moreos. The world of mash-up desserts, or the "hybrid trend", as it has been called by food consultants and PR peeps, has pretty much gotten out of control. But as annoyed as you may want to be with the trend, the fact is...if some is good, more has the potential to be amazing. And so we continue to--excuse the pun--eat it all up.

A recent dessert hybrid dreamed up by cronut creator Dominique Ansel was the chocolate chip cookie "milk shot"--a cup made of chocolate chip cookie, enforced so that it could hold milk long enough to take it as a "shot" and then eat the vessel from whence it came.

It never hit as big as the cronut, but I still think it's a pretty nifty idea, because how many desserts can actually allow you to utter the words "I'm gonna get milk and cookie CRUNK right now!"...? Seriously. No other dessert I can think of.

And an easy-to-make version hit my radar recently with an email from Pillsbury featuring several of their easy mash-ups (cannoli doughnuts, crescent bagels, etc). Their version included chocolate chip cookie dough baked in cupcake tins, then lined with chocolate, then filled with milk. Here's their version:

 

Milk Filled Chocolate Chip Cookie Cup

Looks yum, right?

But of course, I didn't want to do EXACTLY what they told me to, so I thought "why don't I do a Millionaire's shortbread spin?".

It was quite easy to do: I used sugar cookie dough instead of chocolate chip, then added a layer of caramel (since I think I'm pretty cool sometimes, I made my own) atop which I added a layer of chocolate. These fat cookie confections held the milk perfectly, and after a minute or two it begins to soak in to the rest of the cookie and soften the caramel. Milk filled cookie shooters You can either drink the milk then eat the cookie, or break it apart and then let the pieces "soak" in the spilled milk for a while longer.

Milk filled cookie shooters

No matter how you decide to eat it, the unrefutable truth is that these things are delicious. I mean, sugar cookie dough, caramel, chocolate, a touch of salt, and milk too? There is no part of this equation that is wrong or bad. The taste is classic, but the method of presentation and the mode of eating is fun. And isn't that what dessert is about, joy and fun?

Here's the recipe. 

Millionaire's Shortbread Cookie Cups Filled with Milk (printable version here)

You need: a cupcake tin (jumbo or regular, but not mini), parchment paper, spoons and spatulas

Ingredients

  • 1 box Pillsbury sugar cookie dough (or one batch of your favorite type), dough prepared per the package instructions but not baked
  • 1 bag chocolate morsels (12 ounces)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Milk

Procedure

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Generously grease the cupcake tin, sprinkle each cup with confectioners' sugar, and place a sheet of parchment along the bottom (for easy removal later). Why not just use cupcake cups? I didn't want the ridges on the sides. You can use the cups if you don't mind the ridges, though. No judgment. 
  2. Milk filled cookie shooters
  3. Grab big fistfulls of dough and press them into each of the cupcake cups. Milk filled cookie shooters Press a dent in the center. You want the cups to be about half full of dough. My entire batch was sufficient to fill a 6 cup "texas sized" cupcake pan. This is to say, these cups were no mere shot glasses. They were fatties. 
  4. Milk filled cookie shooters
  5. Now, bake the cookie cups. Since mine were so thick, they baked for about 25 minutes--longer than the time you'd bake the dough if you were making mere cookies. My advice? Keep an eye on their progress around the suggested cookie bake time, but then keep them in the oven until they are puffy and golden.
  6. Milk filled cookie shooters
  7. Once puffy and golden, remove from the oven. They will start to deflate in a matter of minutes. This is actually a good thing for you. 
  8. Milk filled cookie shooters
  9. After 5 minutes or so, approach with a spoon and knife. Milk filled cookie shootersFirst, use the knife to loosen the edges of each cookie cup to ensure easy removal later. But keep them in the cupcake tin. Now, use the spoon (or go ahead and use your impeccably clean hands) and press the cookies into a more pronounced cup shape. 
  10. Milk filled cookie shooters
  11. Let the cookies cool for about 30 minutes in the cups.
  12. Now, make your caramel. Simply put the sugar in a dry saucepan, and put it over medium-high heat. Caramelize it per the instructions in this tutorial. Once liquid, pour a little into each cookie cup and spread using a spoon to ensure even coverage inside of the cup. Milk filled cookie shooters Let the caramel set for about 30 minutes before proceeding.
  13. Now, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Once melted, pour some on top of the caramel layer in each cup and spread so it covers the inner cup evenly. Don't make it too thick or you won't have anywhere to put your milk.
  14. Milk filled cookie shooters
  15. Let the cookie cups set again, this time for 2 hours or so, until the chocolate has become firm. 
  16. Milk filled cookie shooters
  17. Once the chocolate is firm, you're ready to serve! Remove the cups from the cupcake tin. Place each serving in a shallow bowl (just nicer in case the milk seeps out). Fill each cup with milk--pour it right in. And serve!
  18. Milk filled cookie shooters
  19. It's nicest to let the milk sit for a minute or two before drinking and devouring--this will soften the caramel and chocolate and make it, in my opinion, a more enjoyable experience. Milk filled cookie shootersBut you follow your bliss. 

Enjoy!

Saturday
Jun282014

Candy Warhol: How to Make a Candy Mosaic

Candy just got more artful. Here's a fantastic tutorial on how to create a candy mosaic inspired by fine art! Mine, of course, is inspired by the work of Andy Warhol...making it, yes, Candy Warhol! Learn how to make this art here.

Friday
Jun272014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Well, yes, this peanut butter ombré cake is a thing.

The absolute cutest collection of canine themed cakes.

Tips for creating beautiful painted illustrations.

Chocolate chip cookie milk shooters. YES!

Life doesn't get much better than my mom's Blueberry Pie recipe.

Tips for arranging flowers...on cakes!

OMG alert: salted caramel ding dong cake.

Let's taco about it: An illustrated guide to tacos.

Think ink: an overview of pen and ink illustrations. If you're thinking about getting into pen and ink, this is a very helpful post I wrote!

Edible cupcake wrappers. I'm so down for this.

If you're interested in illustration, you may also have an interest in this post I did about the best types of paper for illustration.

I'm keen to try these Mississippi Mud cookies.

Book of the week: Marshmallow Madness!: Dozens of Puffalicious Recipes. From the puffy cover to the recipes for creative marshmallows (buttered rum, root beer float), I'm in love with this fantastic offering from Shauna Sever via Quirk Books.

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