Lebkuchen, most delicious of all the Christmas cookies.
Lebkuchen, most delicious of all the Christmas cookies.
Time to bake for the shelter again. I was trying to focus on maple, but my brain kept getting distracted by the pile of pumpkins that was slowly growing on the dining room table, waiting to be put up for the winter. Maple. Pumpkin. Maple. Pumpkin. Hmm. Determined to ignore the gourds, I pulled out the maple syrup cookbook. Yes, she has one. We’ve discussed her addiction before. Anyway.
We first spotted the Maple Syrup Cookbook by Ken Haedrich last year while we were poking around a bookstore in Vermont. It contains many delightful recipes for everything from maple butter to maple coffee cake to crispy maple spare ribs. Yum. Not wanting to make yet another impulse cookbook purchase, mrslovey took a picture of it and kept browsing. We figured we’d put it on a wish list when we got home, and decide at a later date if we really wanted it. Fast forward a year or so, and we’re in a different bookstore, different town, in Vermont. Suddenly from halfway across the store I hear “This is the one!” Confused, I hurry over to mrslovey, to see her with cookbook in hand. She’s convinced that it’s the same one she wanted a year earlier, but to be honest, I’m skeptical. You’re going to remember this glanced at and passed by item for that long? Eager to prove me wrong, she pulls out her phone, skims through the photos, and I’ll be damned, it’s the same book. Since we’ve now encountered and been interested in it twice, we decided it was a safe buy. Read the rest of this entry ?
Reader C sent in a request for a chewy molasses cookie. She then clarified that the request was really for her mom, who had been trying for years to recreate her grandmother’s cookies. Talk about a no-pressure request! Research was a little frustrating, as it seemed like so many of the recipes I found ended up in crispy, not chewy cookies. I for sure needed chewy, not only for C, but for myself. I have memories of my mom taking me to a small bakery near our house, and I always thought it was a special treat when I was able to get a hermit cookie to munch on. They were flavorful and chewy, packed with spices and raisins, and they were the biggest cookies in the display. Who could resist?
While the cookie I ended up with isn’t a hermit (no raisins or nuts), it does have a deep molasses flavor, and the spices almost seem to sneak up on you before leaving a glowing aftertaste. And the chew? Oh my goodness, these are some of the most satisfyingly chewy cookies I’ve ever made. Results were sent into work with mrslovey, with a portion set back specifically for C and her mom. I’m hoping that even if they’re not exactly like Gram’s, they’re close enough to keep the memories fresh and bring a smile to her face. Read the rest of this entry ?
I got some reader-request baking done on Sunday, during a short break in the heat wave. K had requested Martha Stewart’s Lemon-Thyme Wafers, so I found the recipe online and got to work. People, let me tell you, it was like an episode of I Love Lucy or something. Anything that I could have messed up, I did. (And of course, it wasn’t helped by the fact that I was working on two things at once for part of the time).
The first step of the recipe is to warm up some cream and then add lemon zest and thyme springs, to let the flavors infuse the cream, ooh la la fancy fancy. I did this no problem, let it sit for a while infusing, and then strained the now-flavorful cream into a glass coffee mug for later use. Step into the other room for a few minutes while I wait for the oven to be free. Come back into the kitchen to talk to mrslovey who is using the break to do some dishes*, and I see a soapy sponge – wiping out a glass coffee mug. Seems I need to label things better. Out comes more cream, more zest, and more thyme from the herb garden. I strain it into a measuring cup and say very slowly and loudly, like I’m talking to a toddler, or a dinosaur, or something, “I’M PUTTING THIS OVER HERE, WITH THE INGREDIENTS,BECAUSE IT IS AN INGREDIENT. WHICH I AM GOING TO USE. WHEN I MAKE THESE COOKIES, WITH THESE OTHER INGREDIENTS. OVER HERE.” I’m lucky she didn’t crack me in the head with a glass coffee mug.
Next step was mixing a bunch of stuff together to make the batter, no biggie. But then, THEN, was the first circus act of the day. Imagine, if you will, that you are holding in one hand a stainless steel mixer bowl, and are trying to pour and scrape the contents into the open end of a big zippy bag, that is perched in a(nother) glass mug, with a piping tip that is way too big for the thickness of the batter, so everything seems to be either flowing right out of the tip, or trying to pull the bag out of the mug and onto the counter. Not saying that’s what happened, but just imagine the frustration if that were the case. Then start piping your cookies out, and realize your piping skills still suck, so you’re dripping batter everywhere and this bag is too big and now the tip is coming out of the bag and batter is leaking out of THAT new hole and OMG is this really this hard???? Read the rest of this entry ?
Several weeks ago, before cookie month even started, I was trying to decide what to bake when a blog post from King Arthur Flour appeared on my Facebook wall. The recipe was for their Kids’ Choice Chip & Fruit Oatmeal Cookies. The name was a little unwieldy, but the recipe itself looked delicious (as most KAF recipes do), and the feedback from bakers across the country was coming in at warp speed – they ARE delicious! I was intrigued by the fact that they used oatmeal and white whole wheat flour, making them vaguely healthy, and also that they encouraged you to use whatever add-in combination you desired. Mrslovey and I started throwing out combination ideas for when I’d make these at some point in the future. After several minutes of back and forth, I mentioned that we had some dried sour cherries left over from another recipe. Oooh, you know what would go good with those? Dark chocolate chips! Yep, we’ve got those, too. But what about the nuts? And then it hit us both at the same time – PISTACHIOS – and we nearly fell over each other racing for the kitchen. Who cares about dinner, we have to make these cookies NOW!!!!! Read the rest of this entry ?
The other day we were hit with a serious chocolate craving. I’m talking capital “S” Serious. Chew-your-own-face-off serious. So serious that serious recipe consideration would be needed. This wouldn’t be satisfied by any half-assed wannabe somewhat thinking about chocolate recipe. We needed something overwhelmingly chocolate. The chocolatelyest chocolate cookie that could be found, no holds barred.
I think the results were successful. These cookies are deeply, darkly chocolate. They’re a little crisp around the edges, but have a fudgy, chewy interior. I used one of my new favorite ingredients, Bensdorp Dutch-Process Cocoa. Between the Dutch-processing and the full-fat, it gives it a darker, more chocolate flavor, with a beautiful mouthfeel (you can use regular non-Dutched cocoa, but you’ll lose some of the extreme chocolate flavor). Next, chocolate chunks were added. If you stole a cookie moments after they came out of the oven (not that we would ever do that), then the chunks were hot pockets of molten chocolate goo. If you waited until they were fully cooled (of course we did), then you’d chomp into a big nugget of pure chocolate. I also added toffee pieces to give a little more depth of flavor, and the ones on the bottom of the cookies were a little caramelized and crunchy. Yum.
Altogether, an exquisite cookie, and just what was needed to chase away the chocolate fiend that had taken up temporary residence. Another benefit is that since the recipe made so many (5 dozen) we were able to send samples to both workplaces, avoiding potential rioting. I knew I had a good thing when one of my coworkers, who normally doesn’t praise beyond ‘good cookies, thanks,’ stopped at my desk, and tried to tell me how much she liked them, but wasn’t able to finish her sentences due to the groaning and twitching and eye rolling (all in a good way) that accompanied each bite. Seriously. You’ve been warned. Read the rest of this entry ?
Mrslovey has an addiction issue that not everyone may be aware of. She is addicted to maple. You might think I’m kidding, or that’s it’s funny, but it’s completely true. A recent trip to Vermont had us returning with maple of every imaginable variety: two different grades of maple syrup, maple cream, granulated maple sugar, maple pepper, maple barbeque sauce, maple candy, maple mustard, chocolates filled with maple, and cheddar cheese rubbed with maple and sage (I feel a little like Forrest Gump after sharing that list). She’s also a fan of maple cotton candy and maple ice cream, and on days that she’s gotten overly enthusiastic with the maple and consumed far more than any normal human needs, she enters a state we which we call simply ‘maple coma’.
Knowing how much she loves maple, I knew I’d have to come up with a maple cookie this month. Looking around at all of the mapleness in our cupboards, I started to formulate a plan. Hmmmm. I myself was thinking of snickerdoodles, so how could I incorporate both of these things together? Then it occurred to me – maple snickerdoodles! I took a regular sugar cookie dough and added some grade B maple syrup (grade B has a stronger flavor, so is excellent for baking. If you don’t have B, A is fine). Then instead of rolling in the traditional cinnamon-sugar blend, I rolled them in granulated maple sugar. The result is a chewy cookie with a strong maple flavor, crusted with crunchy maple goodness that melts on your tongue. I must admit I tortured her a bit. I only gave her three of the finished cookies, then I packed the rest of them off to the monthly shelter dinner. I think I’m doing the right thing, though – I don’t want her to resent me too much for contributing to her addiction.