Puttin’ suckers in fear

Photo circa 2014.

Don’t call it a comeback (but it really is)
I’ve been here for years (just haven’t had a kitchen)
I’m rocking my peers (with baked goods that is)
Puttin’ suckers in fear (literally, no sugar source is safe)

Song credit: Mama Said Knock You Out, L.L. Cool J.

On Saturday, October 14, 2017, after a three year hiatus, I officially kicked off my 2017 holiday baking.  If you follow me on Instagram (@tmhostess), you’ve already been harassed by the crappy instastories and mediocre ‘grams. I’ve even got a hashtag going: #misanthropichostessholidaybaking2017. #worsthashtagever.

While I plan to keep most of the visuals on Instagram, I thought it would be fun to include Holiday Baking 2017 analytics.  And of course, a contest.

First the analytics.  I’ve created a separate page on this site with a live feed of my baking analytics.  That’s right, real time baking data on:

  • Running total of units in-production and completed
  • Running total, pounds of butter used
  • Running total, pounds of sugar used
  • Running total, pounds of chocolate used
  • Running total, pounds of nuts used

To follow along at home, go here:

2017 Holiday Baking Analytics

Each Tuesday I’ll upload some photos and remind you of where to go to see the latest stats (because I’m a data pimp).

A box (or extra box) of goodies goes to the person who can get closest to the sum below without going over:

  • Total pounds (lbs) of: butter + sugar + nuts + chocolate

If you want to play along, cast your vote via comment to this post no later than midnight, November 9th.

Here we go, here we go, here we go again…

Chai Butternut Squash Muffins

Brace yourself.

This is the annual post where I talk about how much I don’t like squash or root vegetables  and then incorporate it into a recipe (the eve of the fall equinox seemed appropriate). You know, just like I did with these carrot cupakes , pumpkin oatmeal cookies, pumpkin blondies, and zucchini brownies.

I’m nothing if not consistent.

This year I’ve chosen butternut squash as my quarry.  To be fair, I actually like butternut squash. Especially in savory dishes like lasagna and ravioli.

I should have a good story about adding in the chai, but I don’t.  It just seemed like a complimentary set of flavors.

Somewhere I read that if you put uncooked rice in the bottom of your muffin cups it will absorb some of the grease that appears on the papers.  It wasn’t life changing, but it did work pretty well.

I was cruising the bulk aisle in our local Sprouts, spied some roasted, salted pepitas and thought it would be fun to sprinkle some on top.  It wasn’t until later that it occurred to me that putting pumpkin seeds on top of butternut squash muffins might be construed as false advertising.

You know, it’s all gourd with me.

TD said these were like “fall in his mouth.”  Of course this was then followed by an un-printable list of other things he said he’d like to put in his mouth and book ended with “if you know what I mean.”  Yes, I’m married to a 12 year old. But, you knew that already.

Happy autumnal equinox!

Chai Butternut Squash Muffins

adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon crushed chai tea (from 3 bags)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1C butternut squash puree (make your own or buy it canned)
  • 1 1/3 C  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Roasted and salted pepitas or nuts of your choice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°,  line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper or foil liners.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the chai tea.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar, butternut squash puree and chai butter until smooth. Whisk in the flour, baking soda and salt until incorporated.
  4. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups and top with the pepitas.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  6. Transfer the muffins to a rack to cool completely before serving.

 

Ginger and peach muffins

So there I was on a Thursday evening, all set to make White on Rice Couple’s ginger and peach muffins when I realized I did not follow my own golden rule.  I did not have all of the ingredients on hand before turning on the oven.  Sigh.

In fact, not only was I short on ingredients for the target recipe, but I also discovered that the only dairy I had in the house was half a cup of Greek yogurt left over from a Blue Apron recipe.

It was getting late and I needed muffins for a meeting bright and early Friday AM.  So, I set off looking for peach recipes that only needed four ounces of dairy.

The internet is a vast and wonderful landscape and in very little time I found a base recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction.  And as a bonus, this recipe offers a rich cinnamony streusel as topping. I don’t know about you, but you could put streusel on top of an open can of Fancy Feast and I’d eat it.

Of course I played with this recipe a bit and subbed-in some oat flour (per the White on Rice Couple) for some of the AP.

I also added half a cup of crystallized ginger.  Yeah I know, I put that s*&t in everything.

These were really good and made the house smell like what I imagine heaven smells like.

Peach and ginger streusel muffins

adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

Crumb Topping

  • 1/3 C (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 TBS (15g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 C (60g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 C (84g) all-purpose flour

Muffins

  • 1/2 C (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 C (100g) packed golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 C (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1/2 C (120g) plain yogurt–Greek or regular, your call
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 C (220g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) milk (any kind)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups peeled, chopped peaches (3 peaches)
  • 1/2 diced crystalized or candied ginger

Directions

  1. For crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine  sugars, the cinnamon, and melted butter. Stir in the flour. The crumb topping will be thick and crumbly. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat on high until creamed, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  5. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and uniform in texture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  6. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, all-spice, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly mix with a whisk. Add the milk, gently whisking until combined and little lumps remain. Fold in the peaches with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  7. Spoon the muffin batter evenly between all 12 muffin tins. There may be enough to make a 13th muffin in a 2nd batch, depending if there were a few extra peach chunks thrown in. Fill the muffin tins until they are full all the way up to the top. Press a handful of the crumb topping into the top of each; crumble it with your hands to make some big chunks.
  8. Bake for 5 minutes at 425F degrees, then keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350F degrees and bake for 15-19 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Browned butter and rye summer fruit shortbread

I’ve been playing with browned butter and rye flour over the last couple of weeks.  Sometimes, when I get something in my head, I just have to iterate until whatever the seed that’s been planted either blossoms or dies out.

While I’m not nearly done with either browned butter or rye flour, I thought this little seedling was worth sharing.

You all know I totally crush on Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perlman.  Her presence on Instagram and Instastories has only made my grow creepier.

A few weeks ago, her recipe for peach shortbread popped up and I knew this was a great place to start. This time of year, summer fruit is just too good to not…The recipe already had browned butter as an ingredient (though regular butter would be just fine if you were in a pint for time).  I added in the toasted rye flour after hearing about the technique on Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street podcast. I used one-part toasted rye flour to three parts all-purpose.

As for the fruit, I used what I already had on hand, specifically: a peach, a nectarine and a couple of cups of blueberries.  I didn’t touch the stone fruit before slicing and fanning them onto the shortbread base,  but I did reduce the blueberries so that they were dark and jammy and wouldn’t add too much moisture to the shortbread.

Plumbs would be gorgeous and delicious in this recipe.  So would crisp and tart apples later in the fall. Oohh–or persimmons (note to self). And, just think of the possibilities with roasted strawberries and rhubarb in the spring.

While it takes a planning ahead to brown the butter and toast the flour, this recipe pulls together easily and would be a smash at an end-of-summer BBQ or in a lunchbox.  While they were great they day they were made, I think these summery bars were even better the next day.  Just store them in the fridge in an airtight container.

Browned butter and rye summer fruit shortbread

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 C (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1 tsp  baking powder
  • 2 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C plus 2 TBS rye flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced (between 1/8 and 1/4-inch thick)–or nectarines or plumbs (you’ll probably need three of these).  If you go the blueberry route, use three-four cups and reduce first.

Directions

to brown your butter

  1. Cut up cold butter and add to a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan.
  2. Place over medium-low heat.  Allow butter to melt and then foam (it’ll make an odd squeaking noise).  Once the foam clears, stir constantly, bringing up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.  It will begin to darken and smell nutty (best smell ever).  When it reaches a light brown, remove from heat and strain into a heat-proof bowl over a fine-meshed strainer.
  3. Place in freezer for 30 minutes or in fridge.

for shortbread

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9X12 pan with oil.
  2. Add rye flour to large frying pan and set over medium heat.  Stir constantly for 4-6 minutes until the flour smells strongly of popcorn.  Remove from heat and allow to cool a couple of minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking powder, salt, spices and flours with a whisk (this should help the rye flour cool down completely).
  4. Cut up brown butter into 3/4-1-inch pieces.
  5. Using a pastry cutter, forks and/or your fingers, blend first the egg and then the browned butter into the flour mixture.  The butter should be pea sized or a little smaller.  The mixture will be crumbly.
  6. Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of the pan, pressing it in firmly.
  7. Tile your thinly sliced peaches (or nectarines or plumbs or a combo) across the based in a single layer.
  8. Scatter remaining crust crumbs across the top in an even layer.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes until top is slightly brown and the edges take on a little color (go a couple of minutes longer if you like your shortbread well done like I do).
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.
  11. If you have the time (and will power), store in an airtight container separating layers with parchment paper in the fridge over night.

Hummingbird Cookies, Mon

This is one of those situations where the dish’s name is a symbol of honor, not an indicator of the main ingredient.  I mean come on, hummingbirds are like key limes, who has time to catch and bone two dozen of the little critters for a recipe?

I’m kidding.

So here is the story.  Hummingbird cake is from Jamaica and named after the island’s national bird.  Which begs the question, what do you think would be in a bald eagle cake?

Anyways, several years ago, I did a recipe for hummingbird cake so it seemed time to do a cookie version.  As a refresher, hummingbird cake has a banana base and is then studded with all kinds of fruits and nuts.

Anytime there is a variety of goodies like dried pineapple, coconut, raisins and such in a recipe I take it as license to use whatever I have on hand.  You should too.

The recipe from which I’ve adapted these hummingbird cookies involves a more complicated cream cheese frosting.  I swapped it out for a simple drizzle of icing because a. I needed to transport the cookies and b. am of the opinion that there is already enough going on with these soft but crispy mound of deliciousness that they didn’t need a complicated topper.

As I’ve said more than once over the years, the cinnamon, raisin, oatmeal genre really isn’t my preferred flavor profile.  So I was surprised at how much I liked these cookies.  I also feel like there is enough of an element of muslei in them pairing them with a strong cup of coffee makes for a delightful breakfast.  And who doesn’t want to eat cookies for breakfast?

Hummingbird Cookies

adapted from Southern Living (it only seemed appropriate)

Ingredients

  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 C butter, softened
  • 1 C firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 medium-size ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 1/2 C regular oats
  • 1 C finely chopped pecans
  • 1/2 C finely chopped dried pineapple
  • 1/2 C coconut.  Use shredded or flaked, it’s up to you
  • 1/2 C of anything else you think would be tasty in a cookie.  Maybe some raisins, dried cherries or as is the case here, cranberries
  • 1 C powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Stir together first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 to 5 minutes or until creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and banana; beat just until blended. Add oats and next 4 ingredients; stir until blended.
  2. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Flatten each, using a lightly floured flat-bottom glass.
  3. Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until golden. Cool on baking sheets 10 minutes; transfer to wire racks, and cool.
  4. Once cookies are cool, combine powdered sugar with water 1 TBS at a time until you reach desired consistency.  Drizzle over cookies and allow to set.

IRAA needs a cookie!

And we’re back to cookies with weird (but tasty) crap in them.

First things first: nerd alert!  You’ve been warned.

I’ve been working on a signature cookie for my team at work.  The idea is to include this cookie along with the traditional list of holiday goodies in the boxes I give to professional colleagues.  Dude…you were warned.

Officially, the department is called Institutional Research and Academic Administration but we call ourselves IRAA (Ira) because we’re chill like that. During a recent planning day at Via Corona, we tried out some options (and by “try” I mean I forced them into a surprise team building activity that involved hot ovens…in the middle of summer.  I really know how to treat my team well.).

While we’ve narrowed it down considerably (we all agree there should be lots of colored sprinkles), the recipe needs quite a bit of tweaking before we’ve got something we think really represents our team.

In the meantime, here is an early contender.  It’s another Christina Tosi hack but if you like colored sparkles and Captain Crunch berries, these babies are right up your alley.  That’s right, this recipe includes a crunch made of crunch berries.  You are welcome.

 

Captain Crunch Berry Cookies

adapted from the Momofuko Milk Bar cookbook

For the captain crunch crunch

Ingredients 

  • 2 C captain crunch cereal
  • 1/4 C (50g) sugar
  • 2 TBS (10g) milk powder
  • 1/4 tsp (1g) kosher salt
  • 4 TBS (50g) melted butter

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 275 degrees
  2. Pour the cereal into a medium bowl and crunch them up a little. Add the milk powder, sugar and salt.  Toss to mix.  Add-in the butter and toss to coat.
  3. Spread the clusters on a parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake for 20 minutes, giving the pan a good shake every 8 minutes or so.  Allow to cool completely.  Try not to each entire batch before they go into the cookies.
For the Cookies
Ingredients
  • 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 (or more) of the captain crunch crunch
  • large crystal sanding sugar (if desired)

Directions

  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 captain crunch crunch 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.
  5. Pour sanding sugar into a shallow plate or dish.  Plop scooped dough onto the sanding sugar.  Using a flat-bottomed glass, flatten cookie to about 3″.  If the dough is sticky, first dip the surface of the cup or glass in sugar, then flatten, repeating for each cookie (note, you may have to sacrifice the first cookie in the flattening process to get the bottom of the cup sticky enough to hold the sugar so that it doesn’t stick to the rest of them.  Sacrifice one for the good of the many and all that).
  6.  Line dough disks into cookie sheet separating layers with two sheets of parchment. 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.
  7. Heat oven to 350ºF
  8. Arrange the chilled dough on parchment (or silpat) lined pan, no more than 8 per pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. They should be lightly browned on the top, and golden brown on the bottom.
  9. Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack.

 

I’ve got your summer dinner party dessert right here

I know I said we’d be all crazy-go-nuts cookie recipes for a while but I had to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this Ina Garten inspired frozen key lime pie.  It is the perfect summer dessert.  I would know.  I’ve served it at three different dinners this summer to unequivocal (if not redundant) success.

I’m guessing many of you subscribe to Ina Garten which means you also got her recipe for frozen key lime pie earlier this summer.  The recipe arrived in my in-box just days before a small dinner party we were throwing and I stopped the presses on whatever dessert I had planned to make this baby.

With some changes.  First, I swapped-in spicy gingersnaps for the graham crackers.  Everyone knows citrus (especially limes) and ginger are summer besties.  I also added a layer of raspberry jam.  I’m glad I did this because the citrus filling is deliciously zingy and the sweet of the raspberry is a nice note.

Ina’s original recipe calls for fresh lime juice.  BUT the recipe is called frozen key lime pie.  As written, the recipe has no key to the key lime.  And I get it–‘aint nobody got time to juice 100 key limes for 3/4 C of liquid.  Luckily, many moons ago I read, or heard or osmotically gained the knowledge of Nellie and Joes key lime juice.  You can find it in most grocery stores and I always try to have some on hand.  Trust me, it’s good stuff.

I’ve played with the whipped cream topping decorations quite a bit.  I was fairly restrained for the above pie.  However I did another (and got no photographic evidence) where I covered the entire surface in whipped cream roses.

If you need a refreshing but decadent dessert for the next few hot summer months, look no further.  Major bonus?  It can be made a few days in advance.

Next week we’re back at Via Corona where I will attempt to show you show you Tom’s eight foot shower and the master bath.  Temper your expectations.  I’ve tried to photograph the damn room three times now to middling results.  This latest effort is mostly so that I can put the room to bed.

Frozen Key Lime Pie.  With a Twist.

see what I did there?  Because Ina always says ‘blah blah blah, with a twist..

adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure the sides and the bottom are an even thickness. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

For the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until thick. With the mixer on medium speed, add the condensed milk, lime zest, and lime juice. Pour into the baked pie shell and freeze.

For the decoration, beat the heavy cream on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm. Spoon or pipe decoratively onto the pie and decorate with lime. Freeze for several hours or overnight.

Putting on the peanut butter ritz

After we moved into Via Corona, it was nearly three months until we had a kitchen. All things being equal, it wasn’t a huge day-to-day issue (this coming from the person who plans, shops and cooks most of the food so, take the statement for what it is). Not wanting to completely bankrupt our reno budget with crazy take-out bills,  one of our first orders of business after moving in was to hit up the grocery for ready to-go-snacks.

That Friday night at the grocery may have been the first time TD and I ever shopped for snacks together.  I learned a lot.  Like the fact that dude loves those packets of crackers and peanut butter.  And even weirder, also loves those packets of peanut butter filled cheese crackers.

I’m not sure what he learned about me.

That was also the night we came home to a raccoon sitting in the middle of our driveway.  Just hanging out, as they do.  Little did we know that this was just the beginning of our adventures with Via Corona’s resident small mammal population (let’s just say we’re pretty sure the raccoons are running a discoteque under our deck).

But back to the peanut butter crackers (I bet the raccoons like those too).  When I saw Christina Tosi’s recipe for crunchy, salty and sweet ritz crunch, I knew I had to put it in a peanut butter cookie.

Warning: ritz cracker crunch is dangerous stuff.  I ended up just throwing the entire batch into this recipe for the sole purpose of keeping myself from eating the leftovers.

The result was an ultra-cripsy but ultra-tender and flaky peanut butter extravaganza.  Most likely due to the high fat-to-starch ratio, they were also very delicate.  While they probably wouldn’t survive a care-package trip across the country, this batch (unlike the corn cookies) did make it into work.  They were gone before 10:00 AM.

For the cookie, I just futzed with an old school Betty Crocker recipe for peanut butter cookies.  The original recipe calls for a shortening to butter recipe of 1:1.  I used all butter.  If you like a cakier peanut butter cookie, go the shortening and butter route.

Peanut Butter Ritz Cookies

For the ritz crunch (recipe from Christina Tosi)

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 sleeve (50g) ritz crackers
  • 1/4 C (50g) sugar
  • 2 TBS (10g) milk powder
  • 1/4 tsp (1g) kosher salt
  • 4 TBS (50g) melted butter

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 275 degrees
  2. Pour the ritz into a medium bowl and crunch them to desired size (I went dime-sized pieces and smaller). Add the milk powder, sugar and salt.  Toss to mix.  Add-in the butter and toss to coat.
  3. Spread the clusters on a parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake for 20 minutes, giving the pan a good shake every 8 minutes or so.  Allow to cool completely.  Try not to each entire batch before they go into the cookies.

For the peanut butter cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 C peanut butter
  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking sode
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Directions
  1. Mix sugars, peanut butter, shortening, butter and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients
  2. Carefully fold-in the ritx crunch
  3. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm
  4. Heat oven to 375 degrees
  5. Shape or scoop dough into 1 1/4″ balls. Place about 3 inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet
  6. Flatten slightly with the bottom of a cup or mug dipped in sugar
  7. Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.
  8. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet and cool completely before storing

 

 

You say summer, I say corn!

Is it me or does that sound vaguely dirty?

The seed for this recipe was planted one Friday evening at the Fresh Choice Market in Lomita CA.  I drive by this newish grocery store on PCH every day on my way to work (and sometimes on my way home).  Unfortunately, it’s closed when I’m driving in and on the wrong side of the street to easily stop into on the way home.

So, it wasn’t until one early Friday evening that I finally had a chance to experience the Fresh Choice Market.  To quote Stefon, “this place has everything!”: panderia, Jerusalem bread shop, baklava station, insane carniceria, crazy exotic produce section, aisles and aisles of international ingredients that I’d previously only been able to order.  I wasn’t the only person with conchas on my mind that Friday–the place was packed with all kinds of people.  After slowly perusing the market, I somehow ended up with a cart full of interesting odds and ends I had no idea I needed.  Among them was a pouch of honey powder.  Per its name, honey powder is just dehydrated honey and can be used as a sugar substitute.  I’m always on the lookout for new things to put into French macarons so I grabbed a bag.

With the Via Corona renovation wrapping up, much of my free time is still spent on “house stuff” so macarons won’t be on the agenda until late summer.

But regular cookies I can do.  I love Christina Tosi’s corn cookie recipe and have been looking for excuses to play with it some more.  Honey powder was my in.  Honey, corn and jalapeno are great friends in a biscuit, corn bread or scone so why not a cookie?  I replaced some of the sugar with the honey powder and then  infused a diced jalapeno into the remaining sugar.  In addition to using the freeze-dried corn powder in the original recipe, I also threw in some whole freeze-dried kernels for additional texture. And there you go: you say summer, I say corn (honey, jalapeno cookies)!

So I have an admission to make about these cookies.  While I thought they were fun and tasty, when it came to offering them up to others, I completely chickened out.  I had a box ready to go in to work and couldn’t bring myself to bring it in.  The box sat on my counter for three days until I gave up and threw it out.

Jalapeno and Honey Corn Cookies

adapted from Christina Tosi, Milk Momofuko Milk Bar

Ingredients

Makes about 2 dozen smaller or 1 dozen large cookies

Note–I use the weight not volume measurements for this recipe.

  • 16 TBS, 2 sticks, 225g room temp butter
  • 3/4 C, 150 g granulated sugar
  • 1 fresh jalepeno
  • 1/4 C honey powder (or 3/4 C granulated sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/3 C, 225 g flour
  • 1/4 C, 45 g corn flour
  • 2/3 C, 65 g freeze-dried corn powder (I found freeze dried corn on Amazon but later saw it at Bristol Farms and used the Vitamix to make the powder)
  • 3/4 tsp, 3 g baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp, 1.5 g baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp, 6 g kosher salt
  • 2/3 C freeze dried corn kernals

Directions

  1. Finely chop jalapeno (de-rib and de-seed), combine sugar and chopped jalapeno into an airtight container.  Shake to distribute and allow to mingle for at least 30 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, corn flour, corn powder, baking powder, soda and salt.  Set aside.
  3. Cream together butter,  sugar and honey powder using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer or an electric mixer on high for 3 minutes.
  4. Scrape-down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and beat for 7-8 minutes.
  5. Reduced the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture, combining until the dough just comes together (no more than a minute).  Fold in the corn kernals by hand.
  6. For smaller cookies, use about a one ounce scoop (the original recipe calls for a 2  3/4 ounce scoop) and scoop dough out, placing on to a cookies sheet lined with parchment.  Leave a couple inches between each dough mound.
  7. Either pat, or use the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar to flatten-out the dough.  Wrap tightly and cool in fridge for a minimum of  an hour, but up to a week.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Arrange chilled dough on parchment-lined baking sheets (they’ll need more room between them then when you put them in the fridge).  Leave 2 inches in between each.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Cookies will puff, crackles and spread.  Done cookies will be faintly browned on the edges but bright yellow in the middle.
  11. Cool completely on sheets before transferring to a plate, storage container or your mouth.

Chocolate Dirt Cookies

Long ago

And oh so far away

I was in a social club

Lived on sorority row

It probably isn’t appropriate to riff on a Carpenters song in the same post as a cookie recipe.  It also isn’t particularly appropriate or appealing to use the words dirt and cookie in the same sentence.

But anyways.  I think we’ve already talked about the whole sorority thing  right?  I loved my Hellenic days and now more than 20 years later, I continue to be impressed by the accomplishments of the women I chose as friends in college.

But what does this have to do with dirt?  Long before Pinterest, some clever member came up with (or borrowed) a bid-day treat that was as much an institution in our organization as owls and the Chi Omega Symphony: flower pot sundaes.

Nowadays, anyone who can Google garden party knows what these are.  Crafted in tiny flower pots,  a layer of ice cream is topped with fudge and then finished with ground-up Oreo cookies.  A straw is  inserted into the concoction so that an actual daisy pops out of the center.

Pretty mundane by today’s standards, but in the mid-nineties, these were the pinnacle of sophistication (at least to me…so take it with a grain of salt).

What does all of this have to do with today’s post?  Well, I’ve been playing with Christina Tosi’s cookie recipes (again) and made her chocolate-chocolate cookies to get the wheels turning.  Simple though it appears, this deep, dark treat is fortified by a chocolate crumb.  Or, for the more literal, chocolate dirt (I think Ms. Tosi would support and encourage this idea).

Consider yourself warned.  In the coming weeks, alternating between Via Corona posts, I have half a dozen riffs on Christina Tosi cookies.  This one is a straight shot, but future cookies will feature ingredients like jalapeño, Nestle’s Quick, graham crackers, honey powder, crunch berries and Ritz cracker sand (in no particular order or combination).

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies

In milk momofulu milk bar by Christina Tosi

for the chocolate crumb

Ingredients

  • 1/3 C, 53g flour
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 50 g sugar
  • 1/3 C, 53 g cocoa powder (preferably Valrhona
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 TBS, 82 g butter, melted

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Paddle on low until mixed.
  3. Add the butter and mix on low until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.
  4. Spread the clusters on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet pan.  Bake for 20 minutes, breaking up the clusters occasionally.  The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool.
  5. Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating.  Stored in an airtight container, they will keep fresh for 1 week at room temp or 1 month in the freezer.

for the cookies

Ingredients

  • 15 TBS, 2 sticks, 225g butter at room temp
  • 1 1/2 C, 300g sugar
  • 1/4 C, 100g glucose
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ounces, 60g 55% chocolate, melted (the chocolate police won’t come and arrest you if you use semi-sweet)
  • 1 1/4 C, 200g flour
  • 3/4 C, 100g cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Chocolate Crumb

Directions

Combine the butter, sugar and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle.  Cream together on medium-high for 2-3 minutes.  Scrape down bowl, add the egg, vanilla and melted chocolate. Beat for 7-8 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flora, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix just until the dough comes together–no longer than 1 minute,  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Still on low speed, add the chocolate crumbs and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Using a 5/8 ounce scoop (or heavily rounded tablespoon), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan.  Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat.  Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week.  Do not bake at room temp, they won’t bake properly.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 3 inches apart on parchment-lined pans.  Bake for 10 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.  The cookies will puff, crackle and spread.  It’s tough to gauge if a cookie that is this dark is done.  If, after 10 minutes, the cookies still seem doughy in the center, give them another minute in the oven.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage.  At room temp, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days, in the freezer they’ll keep for up to a month.