Blueberry Pancake Bread

Just when you start to think all the things have been baked, Trader Joes goes and invents pancake bread.

And, because it’s Trader Joes, pancake bread is now every where.  Impending recession?  Government shutdown?  Global warming?  Yeah, but have you tried TJ’s pancake bread?

First things first, pancake bread does not taste like pancakes.  Not even a little bit.  It’s delicious.  But, it doesn’t taste like pancakes.

Which is good for me because I make certifiably terrible pancakes.  I can whip up a batch of rough puff, no problem.  But, ask me to make pancakes and I’m at a loss.  Luckily, TD figured this out very quickly and doesn’t ever ask for the least elevated of all the cakes.  Parenthetically, I think I’m a poor pancake provider because I really don’t like them.  I know, it’s un-American and all that.  Pancakes just aren’t my jam so I’ve never been particularly motivated to master them.

But back to the pancake bread.  After trying the TJs version I thought I’d come up with my own.  With blueberries and an optional freeze dried blueberry crumble.

This loaf has all of the elements of a great stack of pancakes: fresh blueberries, buttermilk, and  maple syrup.

I’m of the opinion that in this case, the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.  But that’s probably because this blueberry bread tastes nothing like pancakes.

If you decide to make this, especially for pancake adoring fans, I suggest you employ the placebo effect.  Tell them what it’s called.  Maybe list some of the pancake ingredients.  And leave it at that.

I’m fairly confident that believing in the pancake could make it so.

Blueberry Pancake Bread

makes two regular loaves

Ingredients

for the streusel (optional)

  • 1/2 C ground freeze dried blueberries, finely ground
  • 4 TBS brown sugar
  • 2 TBS flour
  • 3 TBS cold butter

for the bread

  • 3 C all purpose flour (plus 1/4 C for blueberries)
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 C butter, softened (I use unsalted)
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2/3 C maple syrup
  • 4 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 C buttermilk, at room temp

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two 9X5 (or similar size) loaf pans with parchment.  Then butter or oil pans.  Set aside.
  2. To make streusel, in a small bowl, combine flour, blueberries and brown sugar. Cut butter into small pieces. Using the tips of your fingers, cut the butter into the sugar mix until combined (butter pieces should be pea sized, maybe smaller).  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  4. Set blueberries in a fine meshed sieve and sprinkle reserved 1/4 C flour over. Gently toss blueberries so that they are covered in flour.  This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the batter.
  5. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (or electric mixer), cream butter until light, about 2 minutes.  Add-in sugar and syrup.  Beat for another couple of minutes.
  6. Beat-in eggs on at a time.
  7. Starting and ending with the flour, add 1/3 flour, combine and then add 1/2 buttermilk.  Mix after each until just combined.  Repeat until you end with the last of the flour.
  8. Gently fold-in blueberries with a spatula (do not use mixer).
  9. Fill loaf pans with batter and sprinkle tops with streusel.
  10. Bake, both loaves at the same time, for 45-60 minutes, rotating pans at the 30 minute mark.  At 45 minutes, start checking for doneness by inserting a wooden skewer into the middle of the loaf.  Loaf is done with skewer pulls out with barely dry crumbs.
  11. Allow to cool in pans for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool completely on cooling rack.

 

Rugelach, Ugh

Over the years I’ve made a few attempts at rugelach.  At its best, this deli favorite is  flakey, nutty, just barely sweet and a little chewy from the carmelized jam.  Even not at its best, this cream-cheese based pastry is pretty delicious.

And then there are my versions.  My fault, I think, lay in attempting the lovely crescent shaped version.  Perhaps I was too heavy handed with the preserves because everything would leak out and sort of cement the cookie to the parchment.

A couple of years ago, Deb Pearlman of Smitten Kitchen did a sort of study on variations of the rugelach shape.  And, because she’s one of my kitchen heroes, I took good notes when I rediscovered the post earlier this year.

With her help, I made the move from crescents to rolls.  It’s made all the difference.  Fair warning, rugelach (even in easier shapes) is a finicky mistress.  While the dough comes together easily and quickly in a food processor, it is sticky and only behaves when really cold.

Rugelach also takes some diligence.  Not happy to be rolled out in a single attempt, the dough insists on being addressed one-quarter at a time.  Listen to the recipe.  I didn’t the first time.  I wished I had.   Funny (or maybe just typical) story about the rugelach pictured here.  I knew I had a jar of raspberry preserves in the cupboard and grabbed the new jar for this recipe.  On the first roll-out of dough I thought, ‘hmmm, the seeds in this raspberry jam are all clumped together, how weird.’ I pulled off the little ball of seeds and tossed them.  On the second round I thought, strange, this is really is pink for raspberry jam.  On the third round I observed how strawberry-like the jam smelled.  It wasn’t until I was doing the last roll out that I actually looked at the jar.  Yep, it was strawberry.

My rugelach competency leaves something to be desired.  Luckily, much of the fun is in the practice.  I’m also going to leave you with the link to Deb Pearlman’s recipe and instructions.  I haven’t advanced enough to add my own spin.  And, not that I’d question her (other than to ask her to be my bestie in baking), but I did my own research and she’s right.  There really is only one recipe for rugelach dough.  The success (or in my case, middling okayness) it seems, lies with the baker.

Smitten Kitchen’s Variously Shaping Rugelach

Have fun!

After the Girls Scouts are gone…

To be clear, there is no replacement for bonafide Girl Scout thin mints. Also to be clear, thin mints are the only Girl Scout cookie. O.N.L.Y.

And while I think many of us have gotten wise and learned to squirrel away a box or two in the freezer, let’s be honest–even the most stalwart of thin mint hoarders never makes it through the year.

I’ve got a stop-gap for you.  These aren’t quite thin mint duplicates.  But, they’ll do during the long, dark days of summer when that neatly stacked roll of  crumbly minty, chocolate goodness is but a distant memory.

True thin mints are more cookie than chocolate.  These are about two-parts chocolate to one part cookie.  This is because unlike the Girl Scouts of America, I have to hand-dip.  And, I use real chocolate, not chocolate flavored dip mixture.  I mean, you can use those melt things you find at Michaels if you want.  I won’t judge.  Too much.

As you’ll see in the recipe, there is very little sugar in the cookie dough.  Two reasons for this.  First, you’re going to use an entire tin of crushed Altoids.  Trust me.  Don’t hold back.  Second, because they are enrobed  in chocolate, the cookie doesn’t really need to be sweet.

A word to the wise on dipping.  See how the cookies are neatly lined up on the rack below?  Don’t do that.  I made a complete rookie mistake in thinking this would allow the excess chocolate to drip.  It did not.  Instead it allowed the chocolate to fuse with the rack grid making it nearly impossible to free the individual cookies without ruining them.  Instead do what I’ve got going on in the corner: dip and then gently set directly onto parchment.

I made another grave mistake when making these.  Once complete, I photographed them, packed them up and immediately gave them away.

This means I missed the crucial step of setting some aside to freeze.  Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?  Is there any other way to eat them?

Speaking of Girl Scouts, I only lasted a year.  It was the third grade.  I was a brownie.  In retrospect, I should have loved the experience–they did all the stuff I liked to do: socialize, earn rewards for completing tasks,  arts and crafts.  There were snacks.  However, eight year old me had strong sartorial objections to the outfit.  I hated it.  And, so ended my career.

(Okay, I also switched schools between third and fourth grade which is probably the real reason my mom let me off the hook.  But as I remember it, it was just one in a string of fashion boycotts that shaped my participation in youth activities.)

Thinish Mints

Makes about 48

the cookie base is adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Cocoa-Cayenne Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 tin of peppermint altoid mints, finely ground
  • 1 1/2 C (204 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C (42 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound, 8 ounces, 226 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 12 ounces chocolate of your choice for melting and dipping

Directions

  1. Sift together flour and cocoa powder, set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and salt on low until creamy; about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and ground Altoids and beat thoroughly until incorporated; about 2 minutes.
  4. Add in egg yolk and combine.
  5. Turn off mixer.  Add all flour.  If you are concerned about flying flour, cover mixer with tea towel and mix on low (skip the towel if you are flying particle carefree) until just combined.  The dough will be soft and crumbly.  That’s good.
  6. Divide dough in half and roll out each half to a bout 1/4 inch thickness in-between two pieces of parchment.  Freeze for at least an hour, better over night.
  7. After dough has frozen, preheat oven to 350 degrees. You’ll cycle through about 4 sheet pans but can do 2 and 2 or even 1 at a time, depending on your supplies.  Line what you have with parchment.
  8. With a 1 1/2 inch cookie cutter (I obviously used round but use what toots your horn), cut out cookies and place about a dozen on eat sheet.  Once you cut out all you can, form scraps into a ball and re-roll between parchment.  Put back in freezer for at least 10 minutes and then repeat until you’ve used all the dough (note, you can start baking–no need to wait until all dough is rolled).
  9. Bake, two sheets at a time for about 14 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.  You’ll know the cookies are done when they feel slightly firm to the tough (and they’ll spring back a little when touched).  Allow to sit on sheet pan for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely.
  10. If you are short on time like me, you can stop here, wrap the baked cookies well in a freezer ziplock and freeze for up to a month.  Or, just wait for the cookies to completely cool before dipping in chocolate.
  11. Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a simmering pot of water (or use a double boiler if you have one).  Have a couple of sheet pans lined with parchment ready.
  12. Once chocolate is melted, dip cookies one at a time, flipping them in the chocolate and then gently set to Harden directly on parchment.  I find using a fork works well here: set cookie flat on fork, dip and then allow excess chocolate to drip into pot of chocolate before sitting on parchment.
  13. Allow chocolate to set until hard.

Gunga Galunga (Via Corona yard update)

After writing the final check to our builders in early 2018, we laid low with Via Corona for most the year.  It was nice to just hang out, let her settle (literally) and, you know, not hemhorrage money.

Our one major task for Via Corona in 2018 was to address the remaining strip of dirt that was our front and side yards.

Lest you have forgotten just how awful Via Corona’s yard began, allow me to refresh your memory.  Though there isn’t much to it, when we moved in, Via Corona’s yard was derelict.

Though we encountered its destitution every time we visited the house, we somehow completely forgot to include it in our renovation plans.

Which turned out to be okay since TD and I watched a ton of YouTube videos and learned how to do some yard stuff.

You can see the entire madcap adventure (montage included) in our Working Har Har Hard on the Yard Yard Yard post.

We gave ourselves some serious back pats for our landscaping accomplishments and have continued to do so while we’ve kept everything alive.

YouTube learning (actually, let’s be honest, TD and I) has its limits however and alas, a significant portion of the yard remained, shall we say, au natural.

A couple of things were keeping us from moving forward.  First, we needed an irrigation system and we needed to figure out if we could do it ourselves.  I’ll cut to the chase tout suite.  The answer was no.  Like, NO! With that out of the way we had a second obstacle: our neighbors.  We’ve got a leaning wall between the two properties.  They’ve got a leaning fence.  We wanted to pull down the wall and have a nice redwood fence built.  They had some “concerns.”  After several months and unsuccessful attempts at understanding their concerns in a way that would cost us less than $50,000, we gave up on that version of the plan.  We’ve got bigger, badder ideas for that wall down the road and have decided to play the neighbor long game.

Obstacles out of the way, we had the irrigation and sod installed in something like 48 hours. Almost over night we went from “dirt patch alley” to “pass me a beer, where’s the corn hole?”

Cool slider alert:

While we may have conceded (temporarily) on the long wall battle, we did win some view.  We’re quick learners and when it came to the short wall, we didn’t consult with anyone and had the nice professionals open things up a bit for us.

Another cool slider alert:

 

Via Corona has wrap-around grass.  All my life’s wishes I didn’t know I had have been fulfilled.

Final cool slide alert:

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished.  The sod had been down less than a week before the gophers moved in.  And then the skunks and raccoons started taking advantage of the worm-rich soil and regularly aerating the sod.

So, we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

Want more Via Corona renovation stories?  Of course you do: Via Corona The Remodel

Mula Pie

Growing up in San Diego my family had a tradition of visiting Jake’s in Del Mar for special occasions.  Part of the TS Restaurant Group (think Kimo’s and Dukes), Jake’s edges right over the surf and is a favorite spot for watching the sunset while enjoying excellent seafood and fresh sourdough bread.

As much as we’d ooh and ahh over the the tenderness of the sea bass or buttery ahi, the whole meal was just prelude for the dinner’s denoument: the hula pie.

If you haven’t already been inducted (and you’d know if you were), hula pie is a concoction of mounds of macadamia nut ice cream perched on top of a cookie crust and drenched in hot fudge.  While meant to be shared, even a slice of the slice is enough to put you into a deep sugar coma in the very best way.

Since my parents moved to Montana full time nearly 10 years ago and Dukes in Malibu is a hearty drive, I decided to make my own version for my folk’s visit last month.  My parents live just outside of Bozeman Montana.  According to Sunset magazine and more than a handful of best places to live rankings, Bozeman is a happening place.  While this may be true, they still don’t have a Trader Joe’s and so as an homage to my mom’s favorite state’s away grocery, I used as many Trader Joes ingredients as I could muster.

The original hula pie I made with an alarming amount of academic nut ice cream.  This version has that in additional to a layer of coffee ice cream elevating the hula to a mula: the hula and mud pie love child.

I started with a nine-inch pie tin.  I quick baked a Joe Joe’s chocolate crust and painted on a thin layer of hot fudge.  To this I added a leveled-off layer of coffee ice cream.

Since macadamia nut ice cream can be hard to find outside of Hawaii, I came across an easy fix (that I really should have come up with on my own): soften the ice cream and then beat-in the macademia nuts.

The trick with the macadamia nut ice cream (that I somehow didn’t photograph) is to use a bowl with the same diameter as the inside of your pie tin.  Line that bowl with plastic wrap and then fill it with the softened ice cream.

This next part is important: freeze both the bowl and pie tin of ice cream over night.  The pieces need to be really, really frozen for what comes next.

Once everything is frozen and the pieces are fit together, it’s time for the fudge.  I’ll tell you, I had a hard time with this.  My suggestion is to have the fudge ready at room temp.  Then place the pie tin on a larger plate and working very quickly, pour out the fudge and “ice” the dome with an off-set spatula.  You are going to have some drippage over the side.  You may have more than some.  Don’t worry about it.  Just know–there will be chocolate all over your kitchen.

When you are ready to serve, heat up the leftover hot fudge, cut a thick slice.  Smother in the warmed fudge, sprinkle some macadamia nuts and garnish with whipped cream (if you dare).

It took four of us five sittings to get through the entire pie.  It was rough, but we’re not quitters.

Mula Pie

Ingredients

for the hot fudge

  • 6 ounces chocolate chips (pick your type)
  • 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 C corn syrup
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt

for the pie (this makes a nine-inch pie, adjust ingredient volume as needed)

  • One column plus two cookies of your favorite chocolate sandwich cookie (Oreo’s, Joe Joe’s, Hydrox etc)
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 1 Quart coffee ice cream (strongly recommend Trader Joe’s version) [you probably won’t use all…]
  • 1/2 Gallon vanilla ice cream [you won’t need all of it]
  • 4 + 1 ounces of macadamia nuts (I prefer roasted and salted) separated
  • Hot fudge sauce
  • Whipping cream (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. If using a 9-inch pie tin, find a bowl that fits just inside the inner rim of the tin.  It’s okay if the bowl is just under the diameter (up to 1/4 inch) but it shouldn’t overhang.
  3. Using a food processor or by hand (a ziplock and rolling pin will work), finely grind chocolate sandwich cookies until you’ve got chocolate dirt.
  4. Melt butter.  Combine with ground sandwich cookies and press into pie tin.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  5. While crust bakes, pull ice creams from the freezer and allow to soften.
  6. Chop macadamia nuts.
  7. Once vanilla ice cream is softened to soft serve consistency, place in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Add-in four ounces of the chopped macadamia nuts and mix on low until nuts are combined.
  8. Line your pie-tin fitting bowl with plastic wrap so that there is enough allowance around the edges to wrap across the top of the bowl once it is filled.
  9. Fill plastic-lined bowl with the macadamia nut ice cream.  Press ice cream into the bowl so that it is densely packed.  Wrap top of bowl with edges and freeze over night.
  10. Fill cooled chocolate crust with coffee ice cream so that the ice cream is densely packed and level with the top of the crust (I know there is a layer of fudge in the pictures–my recommendation is to wait until you are ready to cover the dome with fudge to make the sauce–it will be easier to work with than attempting to reheat and spread).  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze over night.
  11. To make the fudge sauce, in a medium, heavy bottomed sauce pan, warm corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk, whisk to combine.  Remove from burner and add-in chocolate (chopped if not using chips) and butter.  Allow to sit for five minutes to melt.  Once chocolate is melted, add in salt and whisk until smooth.
  12. Pull pie tin and bowl of ice cream from freezer and unwrap. Fit ice cream dome on top of unwrapped pie.  The dome should fit level with rim of the tin (or just below).  Place pie tin on plate with enough lip to catch overflowing hot fudge.
  13. With the fudge sauce at room temp and starting at the top of the dome, quickly pour and spread 2/3 of the fudge with off-set spatula.  Work quickly and don’t worry if you have an occasional bald spot.  Place pie in freezer and allow to freeze for at least an hour.
  14. Check pie.  There is a good chance that some of the fudge will have migrated off the pie and onto the plate.  If so, scoop up and add to the top of the pie.  Freeze until ready to serve.
  15. To serve, gently heat remaining fudge sauce.  Cut pie, drizzle warmed fudge, sprinkle with remaining macadamia nuts and garnish with whipped cream.

 

 

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)