Variations on a sable

At this point I must have half a dozen sable recipes scattered throughout TMH’s pages.  I just can’t help myself.  And, I have no intention of stopping.

When the Wall Street Journal published their mother recipe for sables in the Off Duty section just before the holidays I was on it like an otter on an oyster.

I had some leftover candied orange peel and ginger from my own holiday baking and decided to throw them in.

As a category, sables are a lesson in simplicity.  Just four ingredients: butter, sugar, flour and salt.  And this recipe my friends, is the closest I’ve come to the golden quadrangle.

Slightly sweet, crumbly and while delicious plain, just asking for fun and unique combinations.

If you decide to fancy-up your sables, you’ll need about 3/4 to 1 cup of goodies.  Need some ideas?  How about:

  • Any kind of freeze dried fruit, chopped (Trader Joes is a great source)
  • Citrus zest: lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange
  • Herbs: fresh mint, rosemary, thyme, lavender (as a note–start with 1 TBS chopped and go from there).  If you are going to herbs, a good way to further infuse flavor is to measure out your sugar and add it and your herbs to a ziplock bag.  Let “steep” for at least an hour.
  • Chocolate: any kind.  Chop it up and add it in
  • Teas: Chai, Earl Grey and fruity teas work well.  Depending on how strong you want the flavor,  start with a teaspoon and go from there
  • Candied fruit

Master Sable Recipe

The Wall Street Journal

makes 24 cookies

note–this recipe doubles very well

Ingredients

  • 11 TBS (1 stick plus 3 TBS) unsalted butter at room temp (use good quality here with high fat content like Plugra)
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 1 3/4 C all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 C sanding sugar, turbanado or Demarara for rolling
  • 1 C total mix-ins of choice

Directions

  1. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and whipped, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add sugar and continue beating until well incorporated. Add salt and beat to combine.
  3. Add flour and beat until almost all flour disappears into the dough.  Finish by giving the dough a few good folds with a rubber spatula.  The dough will be crumbly.
  4. Divide dough in half (I use the food scale here but eye balling works).  Gently coax first half into a general log shape.  Set the log on to parchment paper and roll it back and forth until you have an even log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 8ish inches long.  Set aside and repeat with other log.
  5. Sprinkle the sanding/decorating sugar onto your parchment and gently roll each log until the surface is completely coated.
  6. Roll each log individually in either plastic wrap or parchment.  As a note, I first roll the log in a sheet of parchment, then place in a paper-towel roll and THEN wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap.  Rolls can now be frozen for up to two months.  They can also be baked from frozen but I prefer to move them to the fridge a couple of hours before I want to bake, I think they cut more nicely.
  7. When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds in the oven.  Line baking sheets with parchment.
  8. Remove parchment/paper towel/plastic wrap from logs.  Using a sharp knife, cut into 3/8 inch disks.  Arrange cookies on baking sheets with about an inch in-between (the sables will not spread).
  9. Bake for 18-21 minutes rotating sheets halfway through and until sables are lightly toasted.  Let stand for 1-2 minutes then slide the parchment off the pan and onto a heat-proof surface.  Allow cookies to cool completely before removing from parchment.
  10. These freeze well.

Chocolate Licorice Brownie Cookies

Hey, hey, hey wait a second.  Give this a chance before you run away screaming.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve made every cookie out there.  Were I enterprising, the next step would be to work out my own original recipes.  Alas, that will have to wait until my brain is less stuffed with other, more important things (eg whether our bathtub is big enough to keep a pet otter happy and, when I get a pet otter, what I will name it).

So, when I came across a recipe for salty black licorice brownie cookies by Charli Nowak over on Food 52, I was over on Amazon ordering ingredients before I’d even finished reading the article.

Now, I know what you are thinking–adding chocolate to black licorice is like putting lipstick on a pig.  But, stick with me. Something cool happens when you mix the earthy, herbal flavors of anise and licorice root with the smoky sweet flavors of deep dark chocolate.

I’ll admit, my own pump for licorice and chocolate were primed before I saw the recipe.  I’ve been thinking about creating an All Sorts French macaroon for a few months.  If you are a fan of these licorice candies paired with a host of flavors and stacked into colorful little blocks, you already know that chocolate and licorice are good friends.

These cookies are indulgent and immensely satisfying.  They’re deeply chocolate with enough je ne sais quoi to make them sophisticated and dare I say, sexy. Think Valentine’s Day worthy.

Still not convinced?  I’ve got you covered.

In the name of research, I offered up a couple to TD without mentioning the unusual ingredients.  TD is squarely in the no black jelly bean camp.

The verdict?  He was a big fan.

When I asked if he could identify the secret ingredients he guessed chocolate.

Did you know TD is the Latin abbreviation for Captain Obvious?

I ordered my licorice root powder and ground anise from Amazon in larger quantities because, as I mentioned, I have bigger plans for these flavors.  However, you should be able to find them at a spice shop like Penzy’s.  Or, if you live close and want to make these, let me know and I’ll share my stash.

Salty Black Licorice Brownie Cookies

adapted just a bit from Charli Nowak for Food 52

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces 60% dark chocolate chips
  • 2 TBS water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • stick (1/4 pound or 8 TBS) unsalted butter
  • large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 3 TBS black cocoa powder (or Dutch-processed cocoa powder)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 TBS licorice root powder (available in specialty spice stores)
  • 2 tsp ground anise
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (plus more or flaky salt for sprinkling on top)
  • optional: 6 ounces mini chocolate chips or finely chopped dark chocolate bits optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line 4 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. Place butter in a small pot over medium heat and begin melting. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until butter begins to brown and smell nutty. Immediately pour over chocolate mixture and stir until completely melted. Set aside.
  3. To the hot, melted butter, add chocolate, water, and vanilla extract.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes and then whisk until smooth.
  4. Place eggs and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed for 7 minutes until eggs are pale and ribbony.
  5. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, licorice root power, anise, and salt. Set aside.
  6. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add melted chocolate mixture. Once combined, add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
  7. Gently fold in chocolate chips
  8. Using your choice of scoop size (I used my favorite 1 1/2 TBS size, the original recipe called for a 3 TBS scoop), portion batter onto prepared trays leaving two inches between each. Sprinkle tops with flaky salt and bake until puffed and crackly, about 11 minutes. Remove from oven, give the tray a good smack against the counter, and let cool for at least 20 minutes.

TMH turned 10 this year and I completely forgot

Oops.

I am a very bad blog custodian and completely missed the 10th anniversary of The Misanthropic Hostess  (I started this blog in August of 2008).  In fact, it wasn’t until I was doing some longitudinal statistical stuff (technical term) for my day job  that I realized I’d been entertaining myself in written word and recipe for an entire decade.  For what it’s worth I also have a hard time keeping track of my own wedding anniversary (though that I chalk up to the fact that TD and I dated for so long before formally institutionalizing ourselves that the actual date of recognition was just a chance to get together with friends and family, wear awesome shoes and eat cake).

For those of you who are new to this dog and pony show, the Misanthropic Hostess started as a way for me to document an attempt to build my beloved alma mater’s Royce Hall out of gingerbread.  Every weekend  throughout the fall of 2008, as the economy imploded and the world became uncertain, I played with flour, cinnamon and royal icing.   Nobody was more surprised than me when it actually came together: Extreme Makeover: Gingerbread Royce Hall.

Unlike nearly everything else in my life, I’ve never had a plan for The Misanthropic Hostess.  Other professional and  life responsibilities have always kept me from having to take her too seriously.  Instead, we’ve enjoyed our casual but steady relationship as the months turned into years. Here we are, 10 years and 400 or so posts later and I find myself feeling indelibly grateful for this little hobby of mine.

While I don’t know where we are headed, I have no plans to end this carnival.  If you read, thank you.  If you don’t, no biggie.  Here’s to another 10!

 

 

Posession with intent to distribute

Sometimes I feel like a drug dealer when I deliver baked goods to friends and colleagues.  And, that’s not just because I like to lurk in dark alleyways and whisper, “hey kid, you wanna smoke some drugs?” out of the side of my mouth.

It’s also not the whole sugar is a drug thing (Yes, I know it is.  No, I’m not going to stop baking).

Maybe it’s because my hobby yields something people generally seem to want to consume. Then there is that part where people enjoy and then talk about why they shouldn’t have.  It may also have something to do with my ties to the Salamancas Family.   Anyhow on to the biggest baking drug deal of the year: 2018 Holiday Baking!

My analytics weren’t super awesome this year.  I just didn’t have time to work on data visualization. In their place,  I offer a summary:

  • 35 pounds of butter
  • 75 pounds of sugar
  • 25 pounds of fruits and nuts
  • 25 pounds of chocolate
  • 3500 units

And some old fashioned visuals.  You’ll find a  list of everything I baked with links at the bottom.

 

Holiday Baking 2018: The List

Candied Orange Peel

Candied Ginger

Triple Gingersnaps

World Peace Cookies

Sugar Cookies

Royal Icing (Sweet Sugarbelle)

Rum Butter Nuts

Peanut butter (schweddy) balls

Almond Butter Crunch

Cranberry White Chocolate Doodles (recipe isn’t quite ready for prime time)

 

 

Cranberry Curd Tart

Curd is an unfortunate word.  Especially for something as lovely as when it comes in fruit form.

This recipe caught my eye by the gorgeousness of the color of the curd alone.  Gem-like and rich, I imagined how good something this pretty might taste.

The original recipe appeared in the New York Times and calls for a hazelnut crust.  However, when I went to buy my nuts, the nice lady restocking the bulk bins informed me that she’d seen nary a hazel or macadamia nut in weeks.  I was undeterred.  As we were chatting, I spied whole blanched almonds.  Skinning hazelnuts is not my idea of a good time so I took it as win-win.

Fair warning.  While this is a beautiful dessert (and delicious each of the three times I tried a square just to make sure), it is fiddly.  It would be a wonderful addition to a holiday meal if it was  your sole charge.  However, if you need a dessert along with everything else you are making, save this one until Valentines day.  Or, get someone else to make it for you.

Because I had an extra bag of cranberries, I decided to sugar some for a garnish.  Not necessary, I promise.

But seriously, this color!  My crust was a little thicker because the recipe calls for a 10 inch tart pan and the one I used was 8.  So, while not as refined as a traditional tart, the trade-off was even more rich almond shell in each bite.

The original version of this tart came from the New York Times.

Like the recipe however, the NYT can be fiddly about letting you behind their firewall for recipe content.  I don’t believe in secret recipes so while I’ve attributed to the original below, I think I’ve made enough changes that they won’t arrest me.

Cranberry Curd Tart

Ingredients

For the (insert your nut here) crust

  • 1 ¼ cups/180 grams raw hazelnuts (I subbed in the same weight of blanched almonds and just skipped the skinning step)
  • 1 cup/125 grams rice flour (I used brown rice flour because that’s what I had)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup/112 grams sugar
  • 6 tablespoons/100 grams softened butter, more as necessary, torn or cut into dice-sized pieces 

For the cranberry curd

  • 12 ounces/340 grams cranberries
  • 1 cup/225 grams sugar
  •  Juice and peel (orange part only) of 1 orange
  • 4 ounces/113 grams softened butter(1 stick)
  • 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks

For the sugared cranberries, optional

  • 6 ounces/ 170 grams fresh cranberries
  • 1 C sugar, divided (1/2)
  • 1/2 C water

Directions

  1. Make the crust: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Put hazelnuts (or almonds) on a baking sheet and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until skins darken and crack. Put roasted nuts in a clean towel and rub off skins. Discard skins and let nuts cool.
  2. In a food processor, grind nuts with half the rice flour until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining rice flour, salt and sugar and pulse briefly.
  3. With the processor running, add-in butter a few pieces at a time until the dough just comes together.  If it seems crumbly, add 1 to 2 additional tablespoons softened butter or a little cold water.
  4. Press dough evenly into a 10-inch French tart pan; use half the dough for the sides and half for the bottom. Prick bottom with a fork and freeze for 30 minutes (or several days if desired).
  5. Make the sugared cranberries (skip ahead if you aren’t doing this).  Combine sugar and water in a small sauce pan, stirring until sugar is disolved.  Bring to boil and add cranberries.  Remove from heat and place cranberries on a cooling rack over a sheet pan (or parchment to catch the excess syrup).  Allow to sit for at least an hour.  Add remaining sugar into a small dish.  Toss cranberries to coat.
  6. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake chilled tart shell about 15 minutes until lightly brown. Cool.
  7. Make the cranberry curd: Put cranberries, sugar and orange juice and peel in a saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until cranberries have popped and softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food mill or medium mesh sieve and press cooking liquid into a bowl. Whisk the butter into the warm liquid.
  8. Put eggs and egg yolks into a bowl and beat lightly. Slowly whisk a cup of warm cranberry liquid into the eggs to temper, then combine both and whisk together. Wipe out pot if necessary, return liquid to pot and cook over low heat until nearly bubbling and thickened, about 10 minutes. If using immediately, let cool to room temperature. If working ahead, cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap (press wrap against curd) and refrigerate. (Curd may be cooked up to 1 day ahead.)
  9. Pour cooled cranberry curd into the cooled prebaked tart shell and smooth top with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to set curd. Cool on a rack. Store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Cranberry shortbread squares

Since it is the season, we’re giving it up for the Cran Man for the next couple of weeks.

As everyone knows, cranberries are delicious.  Especially when they are jellied or sauced.  Despite this established fact, when I started to think about it, I realized  I’ve done very little baking with them.  Which, is sort of a slap on the forehead considering the little ruby orbs of tartness are filled with tons of pectin making them ideal for filling things.

And I can’t forget to mention just how strangely satisfying it is to combine them with a little water, sugar,  heat and hear them quietly pop and squeak as they cook.

These bars are a take on the more traditional raspberry or apricot bars with an interesting twist on preparing the shortbread.

Like some short breads, the dough is combined until it just comes together.  Then it goes into the freezer for at least an hour.

While the dough freezes, you bust out the food processor and affix the shredding tool.

The frozen dough is then fed through the processor so that the result is basically dough confetti.  If you can get past the part where it really does look like something that belongs on a taco, this hack is brilliant.  By shredding the dough rather than rolling, it remains tender, crumbly and of course, buttery.

Once the base is pressed into the pan, it is topped with a generous slathering of cranberry sauce.  The whole shebang is then finished with the other half of the dough shreds.

The result is delightful.  And festive.  And exactly what we all need.

Cranberry Shortbread Squares

from Southern Living

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 C fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 C granulated sugar, divided
  • 3/4 C salted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 C all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Bring cranberries, water, and 1/4 cup of the sugar to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high. Cook, stirring and smashing berries occasionally, until mixture thickens, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool completely.
  2. Beat butter, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add egg yolks and vanilla; beat on low speed until combined. Add flour to butter mixture; beat on low speed until combined.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead until dough comes together, 3 to 4 times. Shape into a 14-inch-long log. Cover with plastic wrap, and freeze at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing paper to extend past edges of pan. Grease paper.
  5. Remove plastic wrap from dough log; cut in half crosswise, and cut each piece in half lengthwise. Feed dough log quarters through the chute of a food processor fitted with a shredding blade. Press half of grated dough into the bottom of prepared pan. Spread cranberry mixture over 1 dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Top with remaining half of grated dough, pressing to seal edges.
    Bake in preheated oven until firm and golden brown, 33 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan. Lift cranberry shortbread from pan using parchment as handles; cut into rectangles; then cut into triangles.

Candied Ginger

…candy her? But I hardly know her!

Don’t worry, I’m keeping my day job.

Candied and/or crystalized ginger can be hard to find in stores here in California.  I used to be able to buy it at Trader Joes but they stopped carrying it in the golden state because of food and drug regulations (something about the way the ginger is processed doesn’t play well with the rules).  Since my triple gingersnaps would not be triple without it, I usually hit up Amazon.

But then I was at H Mart, the giant Korean market that’s taken up residence in the old Osh store at the bottom of the hill, and they had fresh ginger at a ridiculously low price.  So, I decided to make my own.

As a note, candied and crystallized ginger are often discussed interchangeably,  though I’ve come across recipes that call for one and are specific about it not being the other.  As a newbie candied ginger maker, I did a little research to set the record straight.  From what I could tell, preparation is what makes the difference.  Crystallized ginger is dried and then sugared (and maybe sometimes not sugared) while candied ginger is cooked in simple syrup as you would candied citrus peel.  I realize this is about as clear as the difference between yams and sweet potatoes (one I still don’t understand), but there you have it.  For the record, what we’re making here is definitely candied ginger.

While I don’t do it very often, I love making candy.  Let’s face it, my chosen hobby is about a risky as petting kittens.  So, getting to work with a mandolin and molten hot sugar in the same go is about as exciting as it gets for me.

Truth–you can find candied ginger on Amazon for a great price.  But, if you have a little time and a candy thermometer, making your own is incredibly satisfying. And, unless I unwittingly used some extra potent ginger, the home maid kind is the far superior product.

I made about five pounds worth for holiday baking.  But I’ll tell you a secret.  In my opinion, the best way to enjoy candied ginger is as a garnish for a moscow mule.

You’ve got to love a cocktail that comes with its own snacks.

Candied Ginger

Adapted from Alton Brown, Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh ginger root
  • 5 C water
  • About 1 1/2 lb granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Spray a cooling rack with nonstick spray and set it in a half sheet pan lined with parchment.
  2. Peel the ginger root and slice into 1/8-inch thick slices using a mandolin (you can also hand cut the slices if you are the world’s most patient person).
  3. Place into a 4-quart saucepan with the water and set over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 35 minutes or until the ginger is tender.
  4. Transfer the ginger to a colander to drain, reserving 1/4 C of the cooking liquid. Weigh the ginger and measure out an equal amount of sugar. Return the ginger and 1/4 C water to the pan and add the sugar.
  5. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar syrup looks dry, has almost evaporated and begins to recrystallize, approximately 20 minutes.  If using a thermometer, pull the ginger off the heat at 225 degrees.
  6. Transfer the ginger immediately to the cooling rack and spread to separate the individual pieces (they cool down pretty quickly. Once completely cool, roll in granulated sugar.
  7. Store in an airtight container with the sugar for up to a month (to be honest, I use it much longer)

Damn Cake

If you’ve been to my house for dinner in the last year or so, there is a good chance I served you this cake for dessert.

I first saw this recipe in The New York Times food section.  My attention was captured with Buddy the Elf like enthusiasm by the title of “World’s Best Chocolate Cake.” Its author, Yotam Ottolenghi sealed the deal (important to note–this is actually Helen Goh’s recipe, read on for explanation).

For being the world’s best chocolate cake, its outward appearance is pretty humble.  Just a single layer topped with ganache.

Even the recipe is easy; reading an awful lot like my favorite brownie recipe.

And yet–here, humble and easy translated become elegance.  The crumb is incredibly dense and rich (especially if you err on the short side of cook time) but balanced by the addition of coffee.

The recipe appeared in the NYT as precursor last fall’s publication of Sweet, the cookbook devoted entirely to Ottolenghi and his pastry chef, Helen Goh’s, desserts.

The cake recipe is as fantastic as it is easy.  However, it’s the ganache technique that was a major game changer for me.  I’ve had middling success with ganache in the past(and I’ve made a lot of it)  More often than I’d like to admit, for reasons I can’t explain, it comes out pellety (probably not a real world) despite my commitment to whisking it the right way.

In Ottolenghi and Goh’s version you get to trade your whisk for a food processor.  Before the addition of the usual cream and butter, the chocolate is basically pulverized into a fine dust making for an incredibly smooth and silky ganache.  Once you Goh ganache, you’ll never go back.

[See what I did there?  I know, I know,  a joke isn’t clever if you have to explain it.]

If you want to serve this at a party or for the holidays, the cake recipe is simple enough that you should probably make it the same day (the crust on the top is part of the cake’s charm but is lost if frozen or left over night).  Instead, if you are trying to save time do what I do–and make up 2-3 batches of the ganache at a time and freeze them.  Then, on the day of, pull the ganache, let it come to room temperature and then use as if you’ve just made it.

Why do we call it damn cake instead of world’s best chocolate cake?  Well, last fall my parents were at our house for dinner.  We were all a couple of gin and tonics into the evening by the time we got to dessert and my mom kept exclaiming how damp it was  (she meant moist).  Another round of gin and tonics and damp became damn.

By the way, the cookbook, like all of Yotam Ottolenghi’s books, is superlative.

World’s Best Chocolate Cake, also known as Take-Home Chocolate Cake

In Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh 

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE:

  • 1 C plus 1 1/2 TBS /250 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks plus 1 1/2 tablespoons), at room temperature and cut into 3/4-inch/2-centimeter cubes, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 7 ounces/200 grams dark chocolate(70 percent cocoa solids), chopped into 3/4-inch/2-centimeter pieces
  • 1 ½ tsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1 1/2 cups/350 milliliters boiling water (TMH note–I use Nespresso powder)
  • 1 ¼ C/250 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ C plus 2 tablespoons/240 grams self-rising flour (see note)
  • ? C/30 grams Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons, for dusting
  • ¼ tsp salt

For the ganache

  • 7 ounces/200 grams dark chocolate(70 percent cocoa solids), broken or chopped roughly into 3/4-inch/2-centimeter pieces
  • ¾ C/180 milliliters heavy cream
  • 1 TBS light corn syrup
  • 1 TBS unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/170 degrees Celsius. Grease a 9-inch/23-centimeter round springform pan with butter and line with parchment paper, then set aside (TMH–I’ve also used a smaller 6 inch springform with equally good results).
  2. Make the cake: Place butter, chocolate and hot coffee in a large heatproof bowl and mix well until everything is melted, combined and smooth. Whisk in sugar by hand until dissolved. Add eggs and vanilla extract and whisk again until thoroughly combined and smooth. Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt together into a bowl and then whisk this into the melted chocolate mixture. The batter here is liquid, but don’t think you have missed something; this is how it should be.
  3. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the cake is cooked and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with just a few dry crumbs attached. The top will form a crust and crack a little, but don’t worry, this is expected (TMH note–it’s the best part). Leave the cake to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan, then set aside until completely cool.
  4. Make the chocolate ganache: Place chocolate pieces in a food processor, process until fine and set aside. Combine cream and corn syrup in a small pan and place over medium-high heat. As soon as bubbles begin to appear (just before it comes to a boil), remove from the heat. Get the food processor running again, with the chocolate still inside, and pour in the hot cream in a steady stream. Process for 10 seconds, then add butter. Continue to process until mixture is shiny and smooth. (You can also make the ganache by hand; just make sure the chocolate is chopped fairly finely before adding the cream mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until almost melted, then add the butter. Stir again until the ganache is smooth.)
  5. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the ganache into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, with the plastic actually touching the top of the ganache. Set aside until it has set to the consistency you want. If you want a thin layer to spread over the cake, it can be poured over while liquid so that you get an even, light and shiny coating. For a thicker ganache with a spreading consistency, leave it for about 2 hours at room temperature. (The ganache can be stored at room temperature, providing it’s not too warm, for 3 days or kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It can also be frozen, although it will lose a bit of its shine when defrosted.)
  6. Peel the parchment from the cake and discard. Transfer to a serving platter and spread the ganache, if using, on top of the cake. Slice into wedges, divide the cake among plates and, if using, spoon the mascarpone cream alongside. With or without icing, the cake will keep well for 4 to 5 days in an airtight container.

 

Spider egg and pickled newt’s eye chocolate chunk cookies

Most likely for her own amusement, my mom told my brother and I numerous falsehoods about all kind of things when we were growing up.

Several of them had to do with food. And aliens.  And big foot.  But, we’ll leave the aliens and big foot for some other post.

Cheetos were rusty nails.  The meat from the stew she made each Halloween came from the graveyard.  And, poppy seeds were spider eggs.

Mostly we knew she was joking.  Mostly.

So, when my friend Ann Mah made the Mokonut’s rye-cranberry chocolate chunk cookies she’d earlier featured in her Insta Stories while at their bakery in Paris, the first place my mind went was spider eggs and pickled newt’s eye (no, I don’t know what newts are, don’t ruin it).

This recipe has been making the rounds in-part thanks to a feature by Dorie Greenspan in the New York Times.  No doubt, they’re this fall’s “it” cookie.

With the unusual addition of poppy seeds (spider eggs) and dried cranberries (pickled newt’s eyes), they are also just the thing to make up for your favorite witches, goblins and storm troupers.

Mokonuts’ Rye-Cranberry Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

as presented by Dorie Greenspan in the New York Times  

Ingredients

  • 1 C plus 1 1/2  TBS (130 grams) medium rye flour
  • ½ C plus 2 TBS (85 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 10 TBS(140 grams or 1 stick + 2 TBS) unsalted butter at cool room temperature
  • ½ C (100 grams) sugar
  • ½ C(100 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 C (50 grams) poppy seeds
  • 2/3 C (80 grams) moist, plump dried cranberries
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • Flake salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Whisk together the rye flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, sea salt and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Working with a mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment), beat the butter and both sugars together on medium speed for 3 minutes, until blended; scrape thebowl as needed.
  3. Add the egg, and beat 2 minutes more.
  4. Turn off the mixer, add the dry ingredients all at once, then pulse the mixer a few times to begin blending the ingredients. Beat on low speed until the flour almost disappears, and then add the poppy seeds, cranberries and chocolate. Mix only until incorporated. Scrape the bowl to bring the dough together.
  5. Have a baking sheet lined with parchment, foil or plastic wrap nearby. Divide the dough into 15 pieces (TMH note–I used a 7/8 ounce scoop and got about 30 smaller balls), roll each piece into a ball between your palms and place on the baking sheet. Cover, and refrigerate the dough overnight or for up to 3 days. (TMH note–I froze them for three days but they should be fine in the freezer for up to a month)
  6. When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven, and heat it to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange the cookies on the sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie (work with half a batch at a time and keep the remaining balls of dough in the refrigerator until needed). Sprinkle each cookie with a little flake salt, crushing it between your fingers as you do.
  7. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, pull the baking sheet from the oven and, using a metal spatula, a pancake turner or the bottom of a glass, tap each cookie lightly. Let the cookies rest on the sheet for 3 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a rack. Repeat with the remaining dough, always using cold dough and a cool baking sheet.
  8. Serve after the cookies have cooled for about 10 minutes, or wait until they reach room temperature.