You know that scene in The Truth about Cats and Dogs where Janeane Garofalo tells the caller “you can love your pets, you just can’t looove you pets?”

So, I may just loooove Christina Tosi of Milk Bar (yeah, the Momofuko one).  This blog already has a couple of her recipes–the famous crack pie and, what would easily qualify as one of my top five favorite cookies recipes, blueberries and cream cookies.  However, it wasn’t until I procured and purchased her cookbook, Momofuko Milk Bar that the true romance started.  I literally read the book cover to cover in one sitting.  I laughed (a lot).  A cried a little.  I licked the pages.  Anyone who has ever read a cookbook will tell you that even in the most scientific of recipes, the author’s voice comes through.  Ms. Tosi?  Is really funny.  And really real.  And, like me, she really loves sprinkles.  Like, a lot a lot.

Her recipes are quirky.  It makes sense, she worked for Wiley Dufresne, the grand puba of molecular gastronomy.  And, some of her ingredients are a little out-there.  However, as she reminds we, the humble reader quite often, Amazon.com makes finding freeze-dried corn as easy as finding candy corn.

Like many bakers, much of the diversity in her baked goods are variations on a single “mother” recipe.  This week and next, the mother recipe is a snicker doodle dough base.

Which brings us back to the sprinkles.  Sprinkles within sprinkles in fact.  We start with sprinkle scrapple.

Think really colorful streusel-type stuff.

That gets baked in the oven until golden brown.  Set it aside and try really hard not to eat it all right away.  You’ll need some for the cookies.

Next, we have a little fun with chemistry.  I found glucose syrup at Surfas, our local restaurant supply nirvana.  But, it can also be ordered from Amazon.

The glucose syrup replaces some of the sugar in the recipe.  And, after a marathon 7-8 minutes of creaming, creates a completely different texture than the regular sugar-butter combo.  It reminded me a lot of marshmallow fluff.

Another quirk of Tosi’s is the use of bread flour in her cookie recipes.  She believes the additional gluten content helps to create that perfect crispy-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-insideness for cookies.  The recipe calls for the flour to be added and mixed in on low-speed until just combined.   I found that hand-folding from this point on is more effective.  At this point the rainbow scruples is incorporated.

The recipe specifies the size of scooper to use when shaping the cookies.  I went smaller.  Do what you want.  Once scooped, line up the dough half-domes on parchment-lined baking sheets, flatten (I used the bottom of a pint glass dipped in sugar so the dough wouldn’t stick).  Then, wrap each sheet in plastic and let it chill in the fridge for at least an hour.  This allows the butter to get cold and will help both the texture and shape of the final product.

Finally,  FINALLY, into the oven.  And, just because one can never, ever have too many sprinkles,  I topped each little dough disk with some extra rainbow goodness before popping them into the oven.

These cookies were incredibly fun, if not time-consuming to make.  And, the speed at which they disappeared was ridunculous.


Really, is there anything other than disco to listen to while baking with sprinkles?

Confetti Cookies

from the Momofuko Milk Bar cookbook


For the Birthday Cake Crumb

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Cookies
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons glucose (or 1 tablespoon corn syrup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract (original recipe calls for clear vanilla extract)
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2/3 cup milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles
  • 1 heaping cup of Birthday Cake Crumb


For the Birthday Cake Crumb
  1. Heat oven to 300ºF
  2. Combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt,and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until well combined.
  3. Add the oil and vanilla and paddle again to distribute. The wet ingredients will act as glue to help the dry ingredients form small clusters; continue paddling until that happens
  4. Spread the clusters on a parchment lined (or silpat) sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should be slightly moist to the touch; they will dry and harden as they cool.
  5. Let the crumbs cool completely before using in recipe!
For the Cookies
  1. Combine the butter, sugar, and glucose (or corn syrup) in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and almond extract, and beat for 7 minutes (Set a timer!)
  2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the bread flour, milk powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt and rainbow sprinkles; mix just for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  3. On low speed (or by hand…do it by hand), add the birthday cake crumbs and fold until the flour mixture is just incorporated.
  4. Using a medium sized scoop (or about 2 tablespoons per cookie) portion out the dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat using the bottom of a 3″ glass or mug. If the dough is sticky, first dip the surface in sugar, then flatten, repeating for each cookie.
  5.  Wrap the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do NOT bake your cookies from room temperature, they wont bake correctly.
  6. Heat oven to 350ºF
  7. Arrange the chilled dough on parchment (or silpat) lined pan, no more than 8 per pan. Bake for 11-13 minutes. They should be lightly browned on the top, and golden brown on the bottom.
  8. Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack.


Tom and Jerry Tuesdays

Did you ever watch Tom and Jerry as a kid?  Or maybe you watch it now?  I’ll admit, it wasn’t my favorite.  I think that might have been because the cat was generally the bad guy, and, as you may have guessed, I have a particular fondness for cats.  So, I took it sort of personally.

Other than thinking, even as a kid, that the cartoon was gratuitously violent, the other thing thats stuck with me about Tom and Jerry was how people were depicted.  Do you remember?  Whenever humans were drawn into the cartoon, it was always from the knees down.  I’m guessing this was a technique sort of like the “mwahwahwahwah” from the Peanuts cartoon; a signal to the audience that the adult was an unimportant but necessary device included only to further the plot.  Or whatever.

Which brings me to Tom and Jerry Tuesdays.  I am required to wear suits to work.  And, if the suit includes a skirt or dress, nylons.  I know, I know.  I wish I could say pantyhose have gotten better since I last wore them to Monday night sorority meetings in college.  They haven’t really.  But, for all my complaining, they aren’t that bad.  And, when it gets cooler, I’ll wear tights.  So there’s that.  There is also the shoes.  I should be humble about it, but I’m not: I’ve got good shoes.  Not great shoes–I do, after all work in a conservative environment.  But, they’re pretty good and they make me feel a little better about the, you know, pantyhose.

So, I thought I’d share on Tuesdays, Tom and Jerry style.

For the inaugural post, I’ve picked a basic but significant mainstay of my shoe collection: the black platform pump.  Classic, with just the tiniest hint of a platform to keep things from being too buttoned-up.    Stuart Weitzman, 2009 collection.


Crackers and straws and cheeses oh my!

Every time I start writing this post it somehow sounds like the setup to a Chris Rock joke.  Give me a minute to get it out of my system.

Cracker Crackedy Crack Crack Cracker.

That should do it.

This week we’re experimenting with crackers.  Inspiration came in the form of a huge box of Southern goodies our summer graduate intern from the University of South Florida sent post-internship. JL…come back…please…come back!  The box contained (among other things), Moon Pies, a t-shirt  from the infamous Piggly Wiggly (holy cow…it does exist outside of Stephen King novels), a cookbook that contains a recipe for moonshine (seriously, not kidding) and, a box of cheese straws.  Where? WHERE have cheese straws been all my life?

Now, I admit to having a predisposed weakness for cheese related crackers with parmesan goldfish being a favorite.  But, cheese straws are something entirely different.  Rich, crunchy and crumbly, they scream for a cocktail and a warm summer sunset.

So of course, I had to try my hand at them.  You know, to go with the moonshine.

Research revealed that many recipes utilize a cookie press to churn-out the dough into pretty little shapes.  I have a bit of a prejudice against cookie presses (I sort of think it’s cheating…I know, I know, the Dutch would have issue with my sentiment) and didn’t want to buy one just for this purpose.  I did some more searching and, naturally, ended up where I should have started, with a recipe from Smitten Kitchen that calls for rolling-out the dough.  Then I did some experimenting of my own.

The base for this recipe is simple with the bonus that much of the work can be done with a single instrument: the food processor.  Shredded cheese, butter, a little flour, a wee bit of cream and some seasoning–that’s it folks!  We’re going to toggle back and forth between two takes on the same base recipe.  Hope this doesn’t get confusing.

This first version is a sharp white cheddar and cayenne pepper.

The second version swaps-out the white cheddar for pecorino romano and the cayenne for freshly chopped rosemary.

There isn’t a ton of ceremony to this recipe: dump in all ingredients but the cream and pulse, pulse, pulse until you get lumpy sand.

This photo is the pecorino version at the same stage as the cheddar version above.  Pecorino is a shade harder than cheddar and you can see it in the texture of the dough.  I’m no expert, but I’m thinking you’d be just fine utilizing any kind of cheese hard enough to shred in these crackers.

Here is where I found a couple of tricks that will make working with the sticky dough a little easier. To avoid adding extra flour, roll-out the dough between two sheets of parchment.  On recipe will get you one-layer (do not re-roll dough). Try to get it into a rectangle or square.  I happen to be horrible at this–I’m sure you’ll have more success.  Then, pop the thin layer of dough into the fridge for about half an hour.

Deb at Smitten Kitchen cut her dough into long elegant straws.  For the cheddar version I went for a shorter rectangle.

I found that during the baking process, the cracker puffed a bit–no bigger but I lost the pretty scallop edge created by my roller.


For the pecorino version, I tried squares and added a hole in the middle of each (Cheez-It style).  I also put this version back in the fridge for a few minutes after cutting them into squares.  No puffing and the edges stayed clean.

Regardless of shape, both versions were dangerously tasty.  If making for a party, you could easily bake them off, freeze and then re-crisp right before the party in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

Now…if only the moonshine would hurry up and finish…I need my bathtub back.

If you like this you might enjoy these

Garlic Knots

Scooby Snacks


Fellow Bruin Sara Bareilles.

Cheese Straws

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted them from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook


  • 1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
  • 3/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon half-and-half, cream or milk


  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a food processor, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper in five 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the half-and-half and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.
  • Place the dough ball in the middle of a large piece of parchment.  Cover with another piece of parchment and roll the dough into a (roughly) 8×10 rectangle about 1/8 inch thick.  Let dough cool in fridge for about 30 minutes.
  • Remove from fridge and pull-off the top layer of parchment.  Using a sharp knife, pizza cutter or pastry wheel, cut dough into desired shapes.  Deb from Smitten Kitchen cut them into long 1/8 inch straws.  I made both 1X2 inch rectangles and 1X1 inch square crackers.  Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.
  • Serve at room temperature. Cheese straws will keep in the refrigerator, in a sealed container, for two days. Straws can also be frozen in an airtight bag and crisped-up in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

Variations: In the variation above, I swapped-out the cheddar for pecorino and the cayenne for 1 tablespoon of fresh, chopped rosemary.  The combos are limitless…


Things that make you go hmmm, then, mmmm


Counting preschool (and I do), I have been either the recipient or producer of education for over 35 years—nearly 90% of my life (and yes, I realize that, for the quantitatively inclined I’ve given you the tools to figure out my age…for those not as inclined, I’m 39…fair is fair).  This probably explains the building exuberance I feel each year as September approaches.  For me, fall, not mid-winter signals the new year.  

Growing up, I loved the promise of a new teacher, new classmates (and old) and learning new things.  As a professional, I love the excitement in the air as a new class matriculates and the returning students re-energize the atmosphere.  I love the start of college football.  I love that there is something fun to celebrate each month between September and the end of the calendar year.  And spanning those 35 years, of course, is the anticipation of back to school shopping.  If it were a matter of national security, I could probably recite every first-day-of-school outfit I’ve ever worn.

In my formative years, it was my dad, not my mom who took me school shopping.  As I transitioned from kid to tween I remember voraciously studying the back to school edition of Seventeen Magazine.  Never mind that fall fashion in Southern California is an exercise in cruelty as it doesn’t get nearly cool enough to enjoy autumnal wool and long sleeves until, oh, February.   Recognizing the opportunity and leverage she  had  over her burgeoning clothes horse of a daughter, my mom also decided it was time I did my own laundry and ironing at this point.  Which I did gladly.  Smart mom.  By the time I reached college, my parents (unnecessarily but very generously) wrote me a check each September and let me obsess how to make it go as far as possible.  Yes, there were spreadsheets.

Which brings me to last week.  Oh, I still go back-to-school shopping.  The total of my haul this year?  Eight pairs of nylons and tights.    After a summer of bare legs and free-to-be-me toes, approaching September now means the return of the pantyhose.  Oh, how the mighty has fallen.

But anyway.  Let’s make an after school snack.

I first saw this recipe in Cleaning Eating Magazine while getting my hair cut and was intrigued.  By the recipe, not the hair cut.

Sweet potato and peanut butter? (Death to the first person who calls me out for calling a yam a sweet potato)

Sure, why not.


The recipe calls this a blondie.  It’s really more like a snack cake.

But, I think it would be perfect in a lunchbox or with a tall glass of  cold (insert your preferred type) milk.  This recipe could easily be healthied-up.  In fact, the Clean Eating version was significantly healthier than the one below (I’ve listed the link to that recipe as well).  However, I figured I should try making the original version before attempting any modifications.  Sweet potato.  Sweet potaaato.


DMB, just because its been a while.

If You Like This, You Might Also Like These

Lunchbox Sugar Cookies

Potato Cake

Sweet Potato Peanut Butter Blondies

Clean Eating Version

the version below is adapted from Whitney Miller, Masterchef


  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13×9-inch baking pan with unsalted butter.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a small bowl.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter and brown sugar. Stir in the beaten eggs, sweet potato, peanut butter, vanilla, and cinnamon until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix well.
  • Spread the batter evenly in the baking dish. Bake for 18 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.  Cut the blondies into squares or desired shapes.


Like locusts, only tastier

They appear out of nowhere.  From seemingly anonymous sources.  And gather in unlikely places.  Office kitchens and doorsteps.  Like Christmas trees on the curb two days after New Years.  Once the focus of joyous celebration.  Now an overage in need of riddance.

That’s right, I’m talking about zucchinis in August.

I don’t know what it is about the green summer squash.  Perhaps they are the gremlins of summer; allow them to stay on the vine after July 31st and they multiply exponentially.  But man, those babies are everywhere.

I will admit, I’ve been slow to warm to squash of any sort.  I was well into adulthood before I came around to butternut squash (delicious) and I am still gathering courage to try the acorn variety.  And zucchini?  Forget about it.  Not my deal.  Aside from green beans, zucchini may be the only vegetable I actually dislike.

Unless, of course, it’s in a brownie. I found these lovelies at the Friday morning farmer’s market in Venice.

Any mention of the opportunity to bust out the food processor and I’m in.

My adaptation to this recipe include about 10 ounces of mini chocolate chips and a cup or so of toasted walnuts.

The batter will be kind of a beast.  But remember, brownies like a little neglect.  Fold-in the dry ingredients until just barely incorporated.

Into the pan you’ll wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into.  Unless, of course, you like carrot cake.  Then you’ll know exactly what you’ve gotten yourself into.

While we’ll call these brownies, the texture really is more cake-like.  And yes, you can tell they’ve got zucchini in them.  This isn’t about hiding a vegetable so much as it is about enhancing it.


Flight of the Condors.  Wearin’ my team building exercise t-shirt from ’99.

Zucchini Brownies

adapted from several recipes


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated or baking sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips


  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and line a 9X13 pan with parchment.
  2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until smooth. Beat the first egg into the butter until completely blended, then beat in the vanilla extract with the last egg.
  4. Fold-in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in the zucchini, walnuts and chocolate chips; mixing just enough to evenly combine. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is dry and the edges have started to pull away from the sides of the pan, 25 to 30 minutes.


Christmas in July

Oh crap…I mean August.  How did that happen?

Ever since learning that I didn’t have to shell pistachios to get at their delectable meat, I’ve been on the hunt for a recipe that takes advantage of this little miracle.  This also happens to be about the time of year that I start experimenting with holiday recipes.  For me, the actual holiday season is much too frenetic to try-out new recipes with good intention or leisure.  During what amounts to my own little bake-a-palooza, I need to know that a recipe is going to work.  No time for mistakes, flops or resources wasters, soldier.

Which brings me to pistachio almond cake.  This recipe derives nearly all of its flour from ground pistachio and almonds.

We aren’t talking angel food cake here.  In addition to giving the cake considerable texture, the nut meals also give it girth.

I swapped-out the lemon zest for orange.  The zest (whatever citrus is your pleasure) brings out the bright notes.  Candied orange zest would also work well in this recipe as the cake is lightly reminesent of fruitcake (but in a good way).

Because I thought they’d be pretty and add an interesting dimension, I also added a cup of dried cherries (be sure to dust with flour first so they don’t sink to the bottom of the cake).  Should the mood strike, cranberries, apricots or any dried fruit would be fun.

I topped this loaf with a simple glaze of confectioner’s sugar, orange juice and a touch of Grand Marnier.  The final loaf weighed about a pound, impressive in its heft, the cake is moist and dense and absolutely festive enough for the holidays.


I’ve been experimenting with the 8tracks app.  For the class I’m teaching, I made a playlist of all the #1 songs during the 3rd week of July for the eight years I went to college (I rounded up to include the summers before and after for good measure which gave me 10).  Thematically we went “old school” and I thought this might put them in the right frame of mind.  While the technique proved to be a complete pedagogical bust–the class couldn’t get past Sir Mix A Lot singing Baby Got Back without completely dissolving into giggles, the soundtrack was fun.  So, Becky, that’s what I was listening too while baking up some nutty cake.


adapted from Nate Appleman and Shelley Lindgren of A16 Food + Wine


  • 1 1/3 cups unsalted shelled pistachio nuts
  • 1 1/3 cups blanched whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • zest of two oranges (reserve naked orange to juice for the icing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon “00” flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup dried cherries, cranberries or as desired (optional)
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grand marnier
  • orange juice


Preheat the oven to 300°F. Butter a 4-by-8-inch loaf pan and line bottom with parchment. Then, using a sifter or a fine-mesh strainer, dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.

In a food processor, combine the pistachios and almonds and pulse until finely ground. Set aside.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Grate the zest from the oranges directly into the bowl. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. Mix in the vanilla just until incorporated. On low speed, gradually add the nuts and mix just until incorporated. Then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition just until incorporated. Stir in the flour and salt and mix just until incorporated. Fold-in the fruit.

Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then, run a paring knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake sides, invert the cake onto a plate, and lift off the pan.

When cake is completely cooled, mix together icing ingredient, adding juice to desired consistency.  Working on a wire-rack, pour glaze over top of the cake allowing it to drip down the sides.  Let set completely before wrapping-up or serving.  While I didn’t try it, I am confident this cake would do well in the freezer for a couple of months.  Just wrap tightly and freeze.