The only cocktail snack you need: Gougeres

I think I’ve said this before.  But, it bares repeating.  If you aren’t following David Lebovitz on Instagram (@davidlebovitz) you are missing out on some of the most gorgeous Parisian instagramming out there.  I enjoy following his daily life as much as I enjoy his recipes and cooking.

The first time I made choux pastry, this blog wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye.  TD and I were newly married and had finally settled into our  house in Westchester (we closed escrow and walked down the aisle within six weeks of one another).  I’d made a turkey and wild rice soup and was following a recipe for what I thought was a wreath of dinner rolls (oh the enthusiasm of newly minted matrimony).

The technique seemed unusual: melt butter and water together and stir in flour almost like a roux.

Then add seasonings and cheese.  Lots of cheese.

I had no idea I was about to fall in love with pate a choux by way of gougeres.  This is actually the first of three weeks of recipes involving pate a choux, the ever versatile puff of crunchy, airy pastry.  It started this summer with a recipe for Paris Brest (the third I’ll post) and then I realized I didn’t have a gougeres recipe on here.  So, we’re going to go backwards to go forwards.

Options with these cheese puffs are expansive (and very satisfying to think about).  Here, I’ve used grueyre and cayenne. But, I’ve made them with blue cheese and black pepper and even cheddar and chili powder (to surprisingly good…if not very French results).  My friend Ann Mah’s favorite version uses Comte.

Gourgeres

makes about 20

adapted just a bit from David Lebovitz

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C (125ml) water
  • 3 TBS (40g) butter, cut into cubes (he says salted or unsalted, your choice)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • big pinch of chili powder, a few turns of black ground pepper or my favorite, a nice shake of cayenne
  • 1/2 C (70g) flour
  • 2 large eggs at room temp
  • 2 tsp minced chives or other fresh herbs
  • 3/4 C (about 3 ounces, 90g) grated cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Have a pastry bag at the ready.  Use a 1/2 inch tip if you like, I don’t bother (any piping will be lost) and just snip the end at just under 1/2 inch.
  2. Grate your cheese, set aside. Set up your stand mixer.  Also, a ziplock bag works just fine if you don’t have a pastry bag.
  3. Heat water, butter, salt and pepper (or other dry seasonings) in a saucepan until butter is melted.
  4. Dump in the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the mixture pulls away from the sides into a smooth ball.  Remove from heat and let rest two minutes to cool down.
  5. Scrape dough into the standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can do this next bit by hand, but you don’t really want to).
  6. With the mixer on medium, add the eggs, one at a time.  The batter will look lumpy at first but will smooth out.
  7. Add 3/4 of the cheese and your fresh herbs.  Stir until well mixed.
  8. Scrape the dough into your prepared pastry bag.  Pup the dough onto your prepared sheet into mounds about the size of unshelled walnuts.
  9. Top each puff with a sprinkling of the remaining cheese.
  10. Into the oven and bake for 5 minutes.  Then, turn down over to 375 degrees and back for an additional 20-25 minutes, until they’re completely golden brown.  Don’t be afraid to let them get a little dark (darker than the ones pictured above).  Toasty cheese is superlative.
  11. These are best served warm.  If made in advance, crisp up before serving in a 350 degree oven.

Pan Thumped Snickerdoodles

There are times when I think I’ve done, baked, eaten and shared every cookie there is.

Luckily, each time my ego begins to slip in this direction, I stand corrected by something new and innovative that someone other than me thought up.

Case in point: pan thumping (and now you too will have the 1997  one hit wonder genius, Tub Thumping in your head).

Pan thumping’s (well, actually, banging…I just wanted you to join me in my Chumbawumba misery) mistress, Sarah Kieffer gives the fully skinny on the technique in her new book: 100 cookies: The baking book for every kitchen.  Arthur of the popular blog, The Vanilla Bean Blog, she discovered the ripply-edge effect of picking up and (gently) banging the edge of the pan of cookies starting at the half-baked mark while on a quest to find the ultimate chocolate chip cookie.

It’s a little like cookie dough whack-a-mole.  About halfway through the bake, you go in for the first bang, allow the cookies to puff up and then repeat at two (or so) minute intervals until your cookies are to desired doneness.  The result is a crispy ripply edge and chewy center.

Ms. Kieffer’s original pan banging recipe was for chocolate chip cookies.  I haven’t tried that recipe yet, but did jump right in with the snickerdoodle version.  Because it’s fall.  And cinnamon = fall.

The verdict: delicious and gorgeous.  The pan banging takes a little more attention (and time–you have to bake them one pan at a time), but the results were thin, crispy and chewy.  Basically snickerdoodle nirvana.

I did make one slight adjustment to the recipe, that I’d recommend if you already have the ingredient on hand.  Right before these cookies, I made a couple of my favorite chocolate cakes, Lori’s Chocolate Midnight Cake and used up the last of my vanilla.  Not willing to stop my baking process to run to the store, I subbed in a reduced amount of almond extract.  If you have some, try it out.  The difference is subtle but enough to make them a little unique.

And, just in case it’s still not stuck in your head.  I’ll leave this here:

(Pan Banged) Snickerdoodles

adapted just slightly from Sarah Kieffer

Ingredients

  • 2 C (184g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 C (227 g) unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 3/4 C (350g) granulated sugar, separated
  • 1 large egg, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1/2 tsp almond extract)
  • 1 TBS ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to center and pre-heat to 350 degrees.  Line three sheet pans with parchment (or aluminum foil, dull-side up).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar and nutmeg.
  3. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat butter on medium until creamy (about 1 minuye).  Add 1 1/2 C  (300g) of the sugar and beat until very light, 2-3 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla (or almond extract) and mix on low to combine.  Add the flour mixture and mix on low until just combined.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together remaining sugar and cinnamon.
  5. For the dough into balls.  The original recipe calls for 3 oz balls.  I prefer a smaller cookie and used a 1 ounce scoop.  Roll each dough ball in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  6. Place on pan an equal distance apart (if 3 oz balls, you’ll fit about 4 on half-sheet pan.  Twice that if using 1 oz scooper).
  7. Bake the cookies one pan at a time.  Bake until the dough balls have flattened but are puffed slightly,  8 minutes (closer to 7 in my own oven).  Life one side of the sheet pan up about 4 inches and gently let it drop against the oven rack.  After the cookies puff up again, repeat.  Repeat a few more times, baking 14-15 minutes total, until the edges are golden brown but the centers are still lightish.
  8. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let the cookies cool for 10 minutes.  After this, move to rack (no pan) to cool completely.

Variation on a TMH Favorite: Coconut Sesame Sugar Cookies

The idea for this was not my own.  I can’t give attribution because I don’t know who came up with it–or where I came across the idea, but creating a love triangle between the sugar cookie, coconut and sesame seemed like a really good idea when I saw it.

Sugar cookies, like love triangles, come in all shapes and sizes (well, except love triangles are only one shape…technically).  Some are soft.  Some are chewy.  Some are crunchy (I’m talking about the cookies now…not love triangles).

For this recipe, I decided to use my favorite no-fail cut-out cookie recipe as the base.  When it comes to texture, this version is buttery and tender but with enough structure to hold its shape.

I played with several finishes: coconut, coconut and sesame, coconut, sesame and sanding sugar.  Plain.

The best by far in my opinion was the sanding sugar version.

Coconut Sesame Sugar Cookies

makes about 30 thick cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, at room temp
  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 C finely ground and then toasted coconut (I used the food processor here.  I bet you could sub-in actual coconut flour, just make sure to toast it first)
  • 1 C toasted sesame seeds (I used regular because that’s what I had, but these would be really pretty with black sesame seeds or a combination)
  • Sanding sugar for topping

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking powder.  Whisk-in coconut.
  2. Cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy (I prefer to use a standing mixer for this recipe, but can be done with a hand mixer), about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add in egg and vanilla, beat another 2 minutes.
  4. Dump dry ingredients into butter and egg mixture, mix on low until well combined.  Add-in sesame seeds and mix until incorporated.
  5. Divide dough in half.  One at a time, roll out each half between two pieces of parchment paper.  Allow to chill in fridge for at least an hour, even better over night.
  6. When you are ready to bake, preheat over to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment.
  7. Pour sanding sugar into a shallow dish wide enough so that you drop your entire cut-out cookie into it face-down.
  8. Cut cookies into desired shapes.  Re-roll leftover dough and pop into the fridge to chill or cut-out.  I like to cut out all the dough and allow cut cookies to chill for another hour but you don’t need to.
  9. One by one, place each cut-out cookie face down into sanding sugar. Push gently to get sanding sugar to stick to the entire surface of the cut out.
  10. Bake two sheets at a time for 10-12 minutes (depending on how thickly you rolled-out the dough) or until the edges of the cookies are light gold.  Rotate baking sheets halfway through.
  11. Allow to cool on a rack.  These will freeze really well in double-bagged ziplocks.

 

Things I Made with Sourdough Discard

Okay, I admit it, I jumped on the sourdough starter train.  It started just as it did with most people:  lockdown (well, and because my college friend Ann Mah was doing it too).

For two weeks, Stevie the Starter lived in our guest bedroom (warmest room in the house) and I lovingly fed him and cleaned up after him.  I nurtured his little yeasty smells as he went from “dirty feet” to “good funky” (not my words).  And when he was “ready” I split him, saved half to the fridge and tried my hand at sourdough bread.

My first attempt wasn’t great, but I kept caring for Stevie week after week.  My second, third and fourth attempts weren’t spectacular either.

Setting aside my bread failures, I did successfully make a handful of tasty recipes with the weekly sourdough discard.  I’ve since put Stevie into the deep freeze (literally: I dried him out, flaked him and had him cryogenically stored [and by that, I mean in the freezer in the garage]). But, in case you are on the sourdough bus, I thought I’d share some of the best things we made with his weekly ‘leftovers.’

The Sourdough Crackers from King Arthur are dangerous. Like CheezIt dangerous.  I only made a half batch which turned out to be a good thing since I ate every single one of them.

Also from King Arthur, who doesn’t love a soft buttery Sourdough Pretzel?

Two words: sourdough naan (from Breadtopia).

Finally, I’d be completely remiss if I left out the queen of sourdough discard recipes: focaccia.  I have to admit, I’ve lost track of the recipe I used in this picture.  I think I might have just modified a Cook’s Illustrated recipe I’ve used before, but I can’t remember.  So,  I’m linking to the King Arthur recipe for Focaccia because I know their recipes reign supreme.

bon appetit’s Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf Cake

I know you’ve seen it.

Page 56 of September’s bon appetit; the delicious looking but ridiculously named apple cider doughnut loaf cake (after the third word I was like ‘now you’re just stringing words together’).

Enrobed in melted butter and then liberally dusted with cinnamon sugar, this doughnut loaf cake tart pie may actually scream autumn louder than pumpkin spice latte.

I took it as a sign that I was meant to make this sooner rather than later when, on my first trip to Trader Joe’s since March, I laid eyes on their Pink Lady Cider.

The cider, reduced to a thick, fragrant syrup is what gives this doughnut cake loaf  brownie cookie its apple-y flavor.

I have to admit, I’ve never actually had an apple cider doughnut, so I can’t make comparison.  But, this moist, spiced treat holds up on its own regardless of how much it might taste like its namesake.

I appreciate that the magazine’s editors had space constraints and only so many inches to write-up the recipe (perhaps a more succinct name would have helped).  However, I found the recipe disjointed as originally printed (and even rewritten, be forewarned, it’s fiddly).  So, I’ve reorganized it a bit in my own version.

Apple Cider Doughnut Cake Loaf

bon appétit, September 2020

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 9 TBS butter total (8 + 1 TBS) plus more to butter pan (or use 1/2 C neutral oil for brad plus 1 TBS butter for topping)
  • 1 1/2 C apple cider
  • 1/2 C sour cream (buttermilk can be subbed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBS corn starch (or sub in same amount of flour)
  • 1 1/4 C + 2 TBS (172g) all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, divided: 1/2 + 1/2
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg, divided: 1/4 + 1/4
  • 2 large eggs at room temp
  • 1 C (200g) sugar, divided: 3/4 C, 150g + 1/4 C,  50g

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack in the middle.  Lightly butter an 8 1/2X4 1/2 or 9X5 loaf pan.  Line with parchment so that long ends overhang the sides.
  2. Bring cider to boil, allow to reduce to about 3/4 C.  Add 1/2 C to small bowl and set aside remaining 1/4 C in another bowl or measuring cup.  Set aside saucepan (you’ll use it again in a minute).  Allow cider to cool for 5 minutes.
  3. While apple cider reduces, sift together flour, cornstarch, soda, powder, salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cut nutmeg (I grind my nutmeg right into the bowl and just eyeball it).  Set aside.
  4. Returning to your small bowl of cider (the 1/2 C), whisk-in sour cream (or buttermilk) and vanilla.
  5. Melt 8 TBS of your butter in the saucepan. Set aside for a couple of minutes.
  6. Whisk together 3/4 C sugar and eggs until pale, volumous and frothy (about 2 minutes).  In a steady stream, whisk melted butter into sugar and egg mixture until butter has emulsified (no visible fat) into the mixture.
  7. Add dry mixture and cider/sour cream mixture to sugar mixture in alternating turns, starting and ending with the dry mixture (3 adds of dry mixture, 2 of the cider).
  8. Bake batter in prepared pan set over a baking sheet for 60-80 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes up clean.
  9. Right out of the oven, use the same toothpick to poke lots of holes in the top of the baked load.  Gently spoon 3 TBS of reserved cider over top.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  10. While loaf is cooling for 10, melt 1 TBS of butter together to remaining cider.  Mix together 1/4 C sugar, pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.
  11.  Once loaf has cooled for 10 minutes, grab the sides of parchment, carefully lift out of pan and set in a baking pan.  Brush butter-cider mixture all over the loaf.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over entire loaf, using parchment to shift loaf side to side.
  12. Allow loaf to cool completely.

 

Vanilla Ice Cream

I know.  This could not get any more vanilla.  Plain Jane.  Milquetoast. Waspy.

But.

There is a reason you don’t see many ice cream posts on this blog (I think there may be one).

I do not have the ice cream juju.

Every summer, I set out to conquer the beast, and every summer I fail. Regardless of recipe, my attempts turn out chalky, overly rich and just plain sad.  Oh, and expensive.  Last summer’s attempt involved Sicilian pistachios and dozens of hand-pitted cherries.  The result was inedible.

So this summer I decided to dial it back and start with crawling instead of toe picking.  And it worked.  The result was creamy, just sweet enough and perfect for topping a piece of peach pie.

So, I thought I’d share. In case I’m not the only remedial ice cream maker out there.

I don’t really have a recipe for the peach pie, but I live and die by this sour cream pie crust.

I know it’s supposed to be hot this holiday weekend, but speaking of toe picks.

Vanilla Ice Cream

New York Times (I swear I don’t get all of my recipes here)

Ingredients 

  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt (I had this on hand–if you don’t, just use kosher)
  • 6 large egg yolks

Directions

  1. In a small pot, simmer heavy cream, milk, sugar and Salk until everything completely dissolves (about 5 minutes). Remove pot from heat.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks.  Whisking constantly, slowly whisk-in about 1/3 of the hot cream to the yolk mixture.  Then whisk the yolk mixture back into the remaining cream in the pot.
  3. Return the pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees).
  4. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.  Cool mixture to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours (overnight is even better).
  5. Follow directions on your ice cream machine.  Serve directly for soft-serve, store in freezer for a more ice cream like consistency.

 

 

 

Higher Challah

Somewhere along the way I saw a funny meme that said something like,  ‘well, we finally found out what happens if you take sports away from men, they replace it with baking’ (like most of the stories I retell, the original was better written and funnier in delivery. Mea culpa ).  Setting aside gender stereotypes, it does seem true that in this locked-down, stay at home culture, people (not just the menfolk) have been baking a lot of bread.

This post is more about a technique I learned than an actual recipe (though I’ve linked to a recipe that I like below).  But, since I’ve seen lots of homegrown challah on Instagram, I thought I’d share.

And, if you are considering trying your hand at bread, challah is a great dough for it.  It takes a little time, but, the enriched dough is very easy to work with and forgiving to novice braiders.

So, on to the technique.  Most challah consists of a three-to-many stranded braid. While lovely in any iteration, apparently a critique is that the bread spreads horizontally, not vertically.  To be honest, I’m not real sure why this might be an issue except for maybe making a sandwich?

But anyway, Cook’s Illustrated came up with a solution (of course they did): stack your braids.   That’s right, make a big braid on the bottom.  And then, top if with a smaller friend.

The ratio you’ll want to use for the dough is 1/3 little braid, 2/3 big braid. And, a little egg wash works as your glue.

Cool or what?  If you don’t have a favorite recipe for challah, I like this one from years back: Challah.

Easy Summer Fruit Torte

A couple of weeks ago a friend (hi Julia!) texted me asking if I wanted some plums from her parents’ tree.  Of course I did, thinking she’d bring me three of four.

What I found on my doorstep was a bagful of gorgeous summer plums.

I love plums.  Like, LOVE them.  I can’t place the memory specifically, but nothing smells more like summer to me than an almost-too-ripe late summer plum.  Gemstone colored and juicy, one whiff of a plum and I’m back on my boogie board catching waves at Mission Beach or sitting on a towel on the pool deck of my childhood home, waterlogged, smelling strongly of chlorine and letting the sun warm me up.

While I considered taking the challenge,  even I couldn’t eat three three dozen plums (and Tom doesn’t like them).  So, I set out to find something to bake with them.

Not having baked with plums before, I had no idea there was a reigning queen of the plum recipes.  First published in the New York Times in 1983, Marian Burro’s plum torte earned its sovereignty by being the newspaper’s most ever requested recipe.

According to legend (okay, fine, well documented as fact), the recipe was printed each year until 1989 and for many, symbolized summer’s last fete.

Poetry has been written about this recipe.

The recipe itself is simple, as the best summer things are.  It’s equal parts fruit and cake and endlessly adaptable.  While I’ve given the recipe in its original below, I subbed-in some toasted almond flour for the torte pictured above. I plan to try this with whatever fruits come my way in the next few months (and whatever flour I have on hand).

At this writing, we’re only 2/3rd of the way through summer as a season. But, school started this week (well, my school).  And the mornings are darker.  And though it won’t get cooler here in Southern California for at least another couple of months, the danger apples will be ready to pick in a few weeks.  So onward we go.

Original Plum Torte

Marian Burros as published in the New York Times, 1983

Ingredients

  • ¾ C sugar
  • ½ C unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 C unbleached flour, sifted (TMH note: I subbed in 1/4 almond flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 24 halves pitted purple plums (any soft fruit will work–peaches, blueberries etc)
  • Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line springform pan with parchment (any size pan will do–mine is larger, 10″–but the original recipe says 8-10 is fine). Grease lined pan.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Cream sugar and butter.
  4. Beat-in eggs.
  5. Beat in dry ingredients (yes, beat–no need to be gentle).
  6. Spoon batter into prepared pan.
  7. Place plums (or other fruit), skin-side up on top of batter.
  8. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, and lemon juice.  The sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.
  9. Bake for about an hour (longer than you feel comfortable…trust me).  Remove and cool. Refrigerate or freeze.

When life gives you lemons, make them into brownies

It’s been some time my friends.  I hope anyone reading this is well, healthy and hanging in there.

I’ve been absent for a variety of reasons.  For one, while the working part of the working from home transition has been easy, it means I’ve lost my “client” base.  Baking really just isn’t as fun when I can’t share the spoils–and my creativity has suffered for it.

Speaking of work, it’s really all I’ve been doing.  I work for a university, and like lots of large, human-dense institutions, the pandemic has disrupted just about everything we do.  It’s exciting in a way–higher education evolves at a notoriously slow rate, so a catastrophic event is often the only excuse we have to enact change quickly.  The work has been interesting, I think eventually it will be useful and it’s empowering to be able to contribute during a time when helplessness is often the plat du jour (at least for me).

But, it’s been all-encompassing.

Even so, I had to stop by and share this recipe for lemon brownies.  It’s by Helen Goh, so I really don’t need to say any more.  Except, that, you need them in your life.  And, they’re simple enough in ingredients and technique that you can have them in your life over and over again.

These snack cakes are tart, sweet and on par in deliciousness with their fussier to make cousin, the lemon bar.  And unlike lemon bars, they travel really well should you need something to bring to your next socially distanced outing.

The original recipe calls for half a cup of berries.  I haven’t used them here, but if you have them, go for it! Lemons and blueberries or raspberries are good friends.

I have no idea how often TMHostess will be updated in the coming months.  I have several posts ready for the writing, just not the time (or motivation) to get them to “print.”  So, I’ll see you when I see you.  Stay well and safe.

Helen Goh’s Lemon Brownies

adapted slightly because I can’t help it and converted to include volumetric measurements

Ingredients

  •  1 2/3 C (200g) all purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 C (250g) unsalted butter, cut into dice-sized pieces
  • 1  1/2 C (300g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest, chopped
  • 1/2 C (100ml) lemon juice (separate 2 TBS for icing)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Optional: 1/2 C blueberries, raspberries or whatever fruit you like to pair with citrus
  • 1 C confectioner’s sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line bottom of a 9X9 pan with parchment and grease.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt butter on low heat.  Once butter is melted, gently stir-in sugar and lemon zest. Continue mixing (with heat on) until mixture is smooth, shiny and hot (about 2 minutes).
  4. Remove from heat and whisk-in lemon juice (minus 2 TBS) followed by the eggs (one at a time).
  5. Pour mixture into sifted dry ingredients.  Using a spatula, fold until just combined.
  6. Scrape batter into prepared pan.  Bake on middle shelf of oven for 35-40 minutes or until the edges begin to pull away from the pan and the top is golden brown.  Brownies are done when a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean (or with a few crumbs).
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  8. Whisk together confectioner’s sugar and 2 TBS lemon.  Water can be added until you get desired consistency.  Using a fork, drizzle icing over brownies.
  9. These will keep in the fridge for at least a week.  You can serve them at room temp but we decided we like them chilled.

 

Weird, but in a good way?

I don’t know about you guys, but I haven’t been in a Grocery store since March 14th.  If my Instacart account is correct, we’re averaging groceries every 2 1/2 weeks or so.  And, the results have been mixed (Understandably. This is an observation, not a complaint.).

On the last order there was no fresh garlic or lemons.  But they did have the Pepperidge Farm Frozen Coconut Cake I threw in as a one-off to celebrate our anniversary.  By the way, it was delicious.  Seriously.  Who would have thought?

If your experiences have been similar, now is either a really good–or a really bad–time to post a recipe with an unusual ingredient.

Like, say miso (soybean paste).  When I saw this recipe in the New York Times Food section a while back, my weird, but good spidey sense began to blip.  The combination works really well in savory dishes.  Why not a cookie?

My tried and true critic liked them even when he didn’t know the secret ingredient.  Further beta-testing revealed a generally favorable opinion of these weird-but-in-a-good way treats.  And then the holy grail was discovered by one test subject…I mean friend: a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Cold, creamy and rich, the ice cream is a perfect complement to the earthy, almost spicy flavors of peanut butter and miso.

Bonus these cookies make excellent ice cream sandwiches.

Peanut Butter Miso Cookies

Krysten Chambrot, as posted in the New York Times

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 C (225g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp  baking powder
  • 1/2 C (115g) unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1 C (220g) light brown sugar
  • 1/3 C (80ml) white miso paste (you are right…I didn’t use white…it was fine)
  • 1/4 C (60 ml) chunky peanut butter
  • 1 large egg
  •  1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C (105g) Demera sugar (or substitute granulated)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and baking powder until incorporated. Set aside.
  2. In standing mixer (or hand) fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, light brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes.
  3. Add miso and peanut butter and continue to beat, about one minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for another minute.  Make sure everything is well-incorporated.  Add egg and vanilla, mix until just combined.
  4. Remove bowl from mixer and gently fold-in flour mixture 1/3 at a time.
  5. Place Demera (or granulated) sugar in a bowl.  Scoop-out 2 TBS dough, roll into a ball with hands and then roll in sugar.  Transfer to a parchment lined pan that will fit in your fridge.  Repeat with remainder of dough lining up balls into rows.  Refrigerate two-hours to over night.  I suggest over night…it will optimally mellow out the flavors.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place cookie balls on sheets leaving about three-inches in-between (these will spread).  Bake for about 15 minutes, until crisp at the edges and slightly puffy in the middle.  When you pull them out, rap the baking pan on the counter to help further-flatten the cookies.  Let cool on sheets for a few minutes and the transfer to rack to cool completely.