I Was Drinking When I Made These

These are quite possibly the weirdest thing I’ve ever made.

I’m not even going to make you try to guess the odd ingredient (mostly because it looks so weird in the pictures that I don’t want your mind going creative places).

Olives.  And chocolate.  Yes, you read that right.

Does it help if I explain these are meant to be barely sweet and enjoyed with a nice glass of red (and maybe a sharp cheddar)?

I will say that I actually had to drink a couple of glasses of wine before I worked up the courage to bake these babies off.

And you know what?  They were delightful.  You don’t get olive so much as you get salt.  Which is nice with cocoa.  If you are looking for something a little unusual to add to a cheese board or maybe a unique addition to the traditional host gift of a bottle of wine, give these a try.

Chocolate Olive Cookies

from Dorie’s Cookies, Dorie Greenspan 

makes about 60 cookies


  • 1 1/4 C (170g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C (32g) cornstarch
  • 1/4 C (21g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 stick (8 TBS, 4 ounces, 113g) unsalted butter, at room temp and cut into chunks)
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 C (67g) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/3 C (50g) chopped, pitter oil-cured black olives (I used Kalmata because we have a giant Costco jar on hand at all times)


  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cornstarch and cocoa powder.
  2. Working with a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or hand mixer), beat the butter and olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes).
  3. Add the yolk and beat for 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Turn off mixer, add dry ingredients and pulse to start blending.  Mix on low until ingredients are incorporated and you have moist curds.  Pull the bowl off the mixer and fold-in olives.
  5. Turn the dough out, kneed briefly to bring dough together.  Divide it in half.  Roll each half into a slender log 8-81/2 inches long.  Wrap the logs in plastic and refrigerate over night (or freeze).
  6. When you are ready to bake, position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 325 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  7. One log at a time, cut cold dough into 1/4 inch discs and place them on baking sheets, about an inch apart.
  8. Bake for 15-17 minutes rotating halfway through (done cookies will be firm to the touch).  Remove from oven and allow to cool on sheets for at least 3 minutes.  Carefully transfer to racks to cool completely.

Perfect for your Pik-a-nic Basquete

See what I did there?  No?  You will.

My mom came out to visit (and escape the interminable Montana winter) in late March.  We had lots of adventures and general shenanigans.  As someone who gets up even earlier than I do (an impossible feat according to TD), she spent some quality time perusing my little cookbook collection.

One of the recipes she pulled was for a gateau Basque out of Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  Sadly, this was during our “oven transition” and so my mom had to wait until her return to the Big Sky to try out this cookie-cake-pie recipe.

“You’ve got to make this” she said some weeks later.

“Sure mom, okay” was my reply and then, like most negligent children, I immediately forgot.

“Did you try out the sour cherry tart?” was her question the next time we spoke.

“Err…uhm…just waiting for the new oven to be installed,”  my excuse.

And so it came to pass that after a batch of French macarons and some chocolate chip cookies for TD, gateau Basque was the third item baked in the oven.

Have I ever mentioned that while probably the nicest lady on the planet, my mom is also the most evil?   This is a good example.  Under the pretext of encouraging baking experimentation, she bullied me into bringing this…this…temptation into my house.  Don’t let its simplicity fool you like it did me.  I got all the way to photographing this disk of sin without tasting its rich–soft–toothsome–tartness.  People find this hard to believe, but I generally am not all that interested in eating the things I make.  Baking and cooking for me is about short-term gratification in the creation and experimentation categories.

But in this case?  I was like Eve to the apple (or whatever you’d like to argue the parable referred to).  One bite.  And then another.  And, before I knew it, I’d eaten the entire wedge and found myself eyeing the remaining six (TD ate one too).  While significantly more sophisticated and elegant, there is also something about the gateau Basque that reminds me of the Hostess pies my brother and I coveted as children.   Which I think got me thinking this would be a perfect picnic dessert.  Transport it uncut and then serve up the wedges to be eaten by hand.

Original sin and evil parents aside, according to Dorie, this is the pastry in the Pays Basque region of France (and probably Spain).  There is even a museum dedicated to it (do I hear research junket?).  As if this lovely pastry isn’t enough to create drool-worthy geography, you can visit the region virtually through my talented friend Ann Mah.

While it is traditionally made with sour cherry jam (I found mine at Trader Joes) or pastry cream, I think it would be fantastic with everything from lemon curd to Nutella (which would certainly elevate this seductress from Old Testament to Dante’s Inferno).

A design note.  The top of the tart is traditionally etched with two interlocking scroll, or “S” designs.  Since Dorie said she likes a cross-hatch pattern, I tried that.  Sadly I did not make the pattern deep enough and it baked out.  I guess this means I’ll have to try again.  Darn.

Gateau Basque

Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table


  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 TBS (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 1/4 C light brown sugar
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temp.
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4-1 C thick cherry jam (or cream anglais or lemon curd or….ohhh…Nutella)
  • 1 egg beaten w/ splash of water for glazing


  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (or hand mixer), beat the butter and sugars together on medium for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the egg, beat for another 2 minutes scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  The mixture may look curdled and that’s okay.
  4. Reduce mixer to low, add-in vanilla.  Then add-in dry ingredients in 2-3 additions mixing in between until just combined.
  5. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap, wax paper or parchment on your work surface.  Put half of the dough (it will be sticky) in the middle and shape into  a disk (get it as round and flat as possible…maybe…4-5 inches).  Repeat with second half of dough.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (overnight is always good).
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter an 8X2 round cake pan.
  8. Remove rounds of dough from fridge and let them rest for a couple of minutes.  Then, roll each out into an 8 inch rounds (to avoid adding flour, I like to layer the dough between sheets of parchment and then roll).  If the dough breaks or cracks, not to worry, just piece it back together like you would pie dough.
  9. Fit one round into the bottom of the dough.  If it rides up the sides a little, this is good and will help to seal the top layer.
  10. Spoon 3/4 C of your preferred filling onto dough.  Start at the center and spread until you have about a 1-inch margin.
  11. Moisten the bare ring of dough (around the jam) with water.
  12. Add the second piece of dough, pressing around the edges to seal it.  Dorie says that no matter how tightly you press the dough, a little of the filling is bound to escape during baking.  This will give your gateau some character.
  13. Brush the top of the dough with egg wash.  Using the tines of a fork or a sharp pairing knife etch a cross-hatch pattern into the top (in the one pictured above I did not press deeply enough and the patten baked-out).
  14. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Transfer to a cooling rack, let cool for 5 minutes.
  15. Carefully run a blunt (dinner) knife around the edge of the cake. Turn the cake over onto the cooling rack and then quickly flip it right-side-up so that it can cool to room temp.
  16. I think this is best enjoyed within the first day or two.  While the taste isn’t compromised, the pastry looses some of its crispness the next day.



Cake Apple

I ran across this recipe on Sunday morning while perusing Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.

Simple and rustic, the batter in this recipe serves only to keep the apples together.  Dorie suggests using a variety of apples and, so I did, throwing in a granny smith, fuji, braeburn and even a honey crisp.

The only spring form pan I have is fit for a giant at about 10 inches.  For a deeper cake, I’d reccommend going with an eight-inch pan.

Perfect with a scoop of ice cream or drizzle of cream anglaise and caramel sauce, this gateau would be lovely for Thanksgiving.  Or a brunch. Or, just because.  One word of caution: this cake is so full of apples that the moisture begins to transform this baked good into a pudding by the next day.  So, I think it is best served that same day it is baked.

If you like this, you might like these

Russian Grandmother’s Apple Pie Cake

Misanthropic Hostess Apple Pie

Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake

as appeared in Around by French Table by Dorie Greenspan


  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples of mixed variety
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 3 TBS dark rum (or sub-in 1 TBS vanilla extract)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (omit if not using rum)
  • 8 TBS (1 stick) unsalted butter melted and cooled


  1. Center rack in oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Butter 8-inch springform pan.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set springform pan on top of baking sheet.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Peel and core apples.  Cut into 2-inch chunks.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until foamy.  Pour in sugar and whisk for a minute to blend.  Whisk in rum and vanilla.
  5. Whisk in half the flour mixture until just incorporated.  Whisk in butter.  Repeat these two steps with the remaining flour and butter.
  6. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold-in the apples making sure each piece of fruit is covered in batter.
  7. Scrape mix into prepared pan and push around the apples until you have an evenish layer (evenish is Dorie’s word…this is why I love her so much).
  8. Slide the pan (still on the baking sheet) into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife, inserted deep into the center, comes up clean.
  9. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
  10. Carefully run a blunt knife around the perimeter of the cake and remove springform, making sure to open it slowly so that no apples stick to it.




You know, like those old Yahoo commercials.

It also works if you try saying it in the same tone as Joey from Friends’ “How you doin’?”

And just like that, it’s time to start testing holiday recipes.

I’m planning a couple of new tricks this year in addition to some old favorites.  Dorie Greenspan’s speculoos buttons may  just make the cut.  This recipe graced the cover of Bon Appetit during the holiday season 2012.  However, it’s taken me nearly a year to get back to it.

But, a recent, coolish Southern California Sunday had me pulling out the recipe and checking my sanding sugar supplies.

The speculoos “buttons” are a variation on the thinner-crisper original speculoos cookies that appear in Dr. Greenspan’s Around My French Table.  While the thicker version feel more gingerbread than speculoos, the spice mixture is right on the mark in “holidayness.”  The original recipe includes a glaze but I’ve left it off here because I thought the color of the cookies was so pretty.

And, I don’t even know what to make of all that crazy business over the speculoos butter at Trader Joes.  So, I’m not even going to go there.

Speculoos Buttons

adapted ever so slightly from Dorie Greenspan’s recipe as appeared in Bon Appetit


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Sanding or other decorative sugar


  1. Whisk first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat butter in a medium bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add both sugars and molasses; continue to beat until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Beat in egg and vanilla; mix for 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients and mix to blend well.
  4. Scrape dough from bowl and divide in half. Using your palms, roll each piece of dough into an 8-inch log.
  5. Fill a shallow dish or 1/4 sheet baking pan with sanding sugar (1/2 C should do it for you).  One-at-a-time, place dough log into pan and roll back and forth until the log is covered in sugar.
  6. Wrap logs tightly in plastic or parchment paper and freeze for at least 3 hours.  Dough can be made up to 2 months ahead. Keep frozen.
  7. Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven; preheat to 375°. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  8. Bake 2 sheets of cookies, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 6 minutes, until tops are golden brown and centers are almost firm, 11-13 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool. Repeat with third sheet of cookies

From France to Russian Grandmothers, with love

You realize I couldn’t resist saying that right?

This week we round out the apple-o-rama with a cake that is really a pie.  I found this recipe while looking for another in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours.  It was one of those recipes that I knew I had to try the moment I saw it.  She’s named it Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake after a version her own grandmother made when Dorie was a child.  And it has a secret weapon: cookie-like crust.  For those of us who continue to fear pie crust, this version is almost as easy as press-in dough.

The dough is very much like a butter or even sugar cookie dough.  After it is pulled together, it gets a nice cool-down in the fridge and then you roll it out (as always, I suggest this method).  But, let’s talk about apples first, shall we?

Ms. Greenspan recommends a mix of apples.  I concur.  I used a couple of Granny Smiths, some Gala and a Golden Delicious or two to round-out the selection.

This recipe calls for 10 apples in all (you can never have too many apples, especially in this recipe).

The instructions say to slice these babies in 1/4 inch slices and then halve them if desired.  I left mine just a tad chunkier.

Before they are set aside to marinate for a bit, the apples get tossed with raisins (I used golden), a little sugar, and some cinnamon.  After making this recipe once, I decided that the next go around will include dried cranberries.  I think dried cherries would also be fantastic in this recipe.

Back to the dough.  As you can see, the original version of this recipe utilized a 9X13 inch pan, and you’ll see why in a minute.  Rolling out a perfect 11X15 inch rectangle of dough isn’t all that easy.  However–because the dough has a leavening agent (aka baking powder), any little cracks or patches in the dough fuse together as if they never happened.  For this reason, you can easily piece the dough of the bottom or even top layers together.

During the baking process the sugar dough and apples sort of mate.  The juices soak into the crusts and the result really is a bit like a pie-cake hybrid.  Or at least hybrid enough to cut into squares and still have the pieces maintain their integrity.

Of all the apple treats I’ve baked over the last month, this one has had the most recipes requests by far.

Because of it’s portability and sheer volume of final product, I think this pie-cake would make a perfect potluck dessert (think Thanksgiving).  According to Dorie, this recipe can easily be converted to a deep-dish pie; which I will be doing for my own Thanksgiving.  The dough instructions stay the same but the filling changes as follows: 8 apples, a squirt of lemon juice, 3/4 C raisins, 3 TBS sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.


The Katy Perry station on Pandora.  It’s not my fault, TD set it.  And, he’s passed blame-off to the fluffy Kitchen God.  Apparently Balu enjoys the occasional bubblegum pop tune.

Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake

from Baking from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan


for the dough

  • 1/2 LB unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice of one lemon
  • 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 C all-purpose flour

for the apples

  • 10 medium assorted apples (or all of one kind, your choice)
  • squirt of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 C moist, plump raisins
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


to make the dough

  1. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 more minutes.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the baking powder and salt and mix to just combined.
  4. Add-in the lemon juice (don’t worry if the dough curdles).
  5. Still working on slow speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 C of flour, scraping down the bowl as needed.  While the dough is meant to be soft, if it looks more like batter than dough, add remaining 1/4 C flour.  When properly combined, the dough should almost clean the sides of the bowl.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it into half.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours, or up to 3 days.

To make the apples

  1. Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick then cut the slices in half cross-wise if desired.  Toss the slices in a both with a little lemon juice and add the raisins.  Mix together the cinnamon and sugar, sprinkle of the apples and stir evenly.  Taste and apple and adjust sugar as needed.

Putting it all together

  1. Center rack in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.  Generously butter and line with parchment a 9X13 inch baking pan.
  2. Remove the dough from the fridge.  If it is too hard to roll and cracks, let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin to get it moving (I did both, very satisfying).
  3. Spread the dough between two layers of parchment and carefully roll dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  You can go for the gold and try to roll-out an 11X 15 inch rectangle or you can roll out smaller pieces and patch them together in the pan.
  4. Transfer the dough to the pan.  In a perfect world you want the dough to come up the sides a bit–but in the end it doesn’t matter because of the magic and forgiving puff-factor.
  5. Give the apples another toss in the bowl, then turn them into the pan and evenly spread them across the bottom.
  6. Roll-out the second piece of dough and position it over the apples.  Cut the dough so you’ve got a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhand and tuck the excess into the side of the pan, as though you were making a bed.
  7. If prepping in advance, you can stop here and refrigerate overnight. Otherwise…
  8. Brush the top of the dough lightly with water and sprinkle sugar over the dough.  Using a small, sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in the dough.
  9. Bake for 65 to 80 minutes, or until the dough is nice and golden and the juices are bubbling up through the slits.  Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or room temperature.  Cut into squares, diamonds.

An apple a day leads to…100 posts!

Apple of my eye.  How about them apples? The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Don’t upset the apple cart.   It’s like comparing apples and oranges.  The big apple.  Criss-cross applesauce! An apple for the teacher.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on to a month of apples.

To tell the truth, I was feeling a little uninspired in the baking department.  However, a friend and colleague (thanks GMS!) made a simple suggestion: tarte aux pommes.  Suddenly, I was back in Bayeaux Normandy in early fall just about a decade ago.  The air was crisp, the camembert ripe et les pommes?  Sigh.

Like its cousin, the apple pie, tarte aux pommes has numerous equally delicious incarnations.  But, let’s start with tradition.  With a twist.  I’ve been experimenting with pie and tart crust.  So, this tart started with Dorie Greenspan’s sweet tart dough.  This is a press-in dough, so if you fear the rolling pin, this is a good option. This is also a sweeter dough than some and so, pairs well with tart (as opposed to tarte) flavors.  Simple ingredients get combined in the food processor.

Once sandy, turn the mixture onto a lightly floured surface, and anything that didn’t get combined in the processor gets a light kneed.

From here, the dough can be pressed directly into your tin, pan or mold.  Or, wrapped securely in plastic and chilled until needed.

From Dorie, we now switch to Julia and peel four pounds of apples.  She recommends golden delicious.  I used a combination of Granny Smith, Gala and golden.  Three cups get sliced into pretty 1/8 inch disks.  The rest are cut into chunks.

In the meantime, push all of the preserves through a sieve.

The result will be a gorgeous glaze.

Mix 1/3 of the apricots with sugar and apple brandy or cider.  Set aside.

Now it’s time for the sauce.  Add apple chunks to a heavy saucepan.

Cook on low for about 20 minutes.

Until the apples are tender.  Increase heat and mix-in the preserves mixture and butter.  Bring to a boil.

And stir constantly until the sauce holds a mass on the spoon.

Then, into the cold tart shell (I’ve used a pie tin here because my tart pan was otherwise occupied.  I mean come on, it is a tart pan).

Arrange the apples on top.

And, into the oven until the crust and apples are slightly browned.

As a final step that I somehow forgot to photograph, lightly brush the remaining preserves over the top of the tart.  Enjoy warm or at room temperature.  And with that, I close my 100th post.  Ooh la la!


Coldplay.  Don’t know what it is about them or me lately, but they sure hit the spot.

Tarte aux Pommes

adapted from:

Crust: sweet tart dough, Dorrie Greenspan, Baking from My Home to Yours, Houghton Mifflin

Filling: Tarte aux Pommes, Julia Child (with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck of course), Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Alfred A. Knopf



  • 1 1 /2 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 C confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 9 TBS unsalted butter, frozen and cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk


  1. Put flour, sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combined.
  2. Scatter butter pieces over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut-in.
  3. Stir the yolk to break it up and then gradually add to the mixture, pulsing in between until the dough becomes sandy and and forms clumps and curds.
  4. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and kneed gently to incorporated any unmixed ingredients.
  5. Butter a nine-inch fluted tart pan (or in my case, a pie tin as my tarte pan was in use at the time).
  6. Press the dough evenly into the pan and up the sides of the pan.  (TMH note–using the bottom surface an 8 ounce measuring cup is useful in smoothing down the dough, just don’t press too firmly otherwise the dough loses it’s crumbly texture).
  7. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes.  Or, refrigerate over night.

For filling and to complete the tarte


  • 4 lbs firm cooking apples
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 C + 1/2 C apricot preserves, forced through a sieve
  • 1/4 C Calvados, rum, or cognac or 1 TB vanilla (TMH note:  because I took this tart to work, I utilized the vanilla and substituted-in 1/4 C apple cider)
  • 2/3 C + 2 TBS granualted suagr
  • 3 TB butter
  • Grated zest of one lemon


  • Peel, core and quarter the apples.  Cut enough to make 3 cups into even 1/8 inch lengthwise slices and toss them in a bowl with the lemon juice and first 2 TB sugar.  Reserve for the top of the tart.
  • Cut the rest of the apples into rough slices.
  • Place remaining apples in a heavy saucepan and cook, covered over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender.
  • Beat in the first 1/3 C apricot perserves, butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest.
  • Raise heat and boil, stirring until apple-sauce is thick enough to hold in a mass in the spoon.
  • Remove crust from fridge and spread the applesauce in the shell.
  • Cover with a neat, closely overlapping layer of sliced apples arranged in a spiral or concentric circles.
  • Bake in upper third of over for about 30 minutes or until the sliced apples have browned lightly.
  • Slide tart onto a rack or serving dish and spoon or paint over it a light coating of melted apricot preserves.

Even Mr. Collins couldn’t ruin these: maple pecan oat scones

One of my goals with this blog is to use it as an excuse to try new things.  Expand my culinary arsenal.  Master some mad kitchen skills.  Oh?  You got it the first time? Good.  In this spirit, the next couple of weeks will be all about scones.  Now, I’m a big fan of the idea of the scone.  Just the thought of this crumbly, slightly sweet treat brings to mind images of delicate china cups, green moors kissed by a slowly tumbling fog and Mr. Darcy. Oooooh,  Mr. Darcy (no TD, not Mr. Willoughby…I keep explaining to you, he’s a bad guy…and he’s from a different story).

In reality though, it never occurred to me to try making my own until I discovered that Starbucks appears discontinued my favorite scone (at least in my neck of the woods). Apparently novelty isn’t motivation enough for me…scarcity plays a role as well.  Which brings us to my take on the pecan maple oat scone.

Dorie Greenspan does a fantastic job of laying-out her scone philosophy in her book Baking, From my Home to Yours. Here is the gist: cold butter, all ingredients ready to go in advance, touch everything as little as possible. Understood.

Very cold cubed butter is added to a sifted mixture of sugar, flour, old fashioned oats (not sifted of course) and some levaning agents.

Then, with clean fingertips or a pastry blender (I used my fingers), the butter gets gently incorporated into the dry ingredients until you’ve got a sort of sandy mixture with little peas (while apt, not a particularly palatable description).

Cream and an egg are added and the dough gets a couple of turns until it just comes together.  I then added about a cup of roughly chopped candied pecans.

The tender dough then gets turned-out onto a floured surface and shaped into a disk.

Then cut into six wedges (I realize eight wedges is easier and will do this next time).

Into the oven for about 20 minutes where they expanded slightly and turned golden brown.

Once cooled, I topped these babies with a maple frosting.  Dorie doesn’t use a frosting in the original recipe but, I have to admit, my favorite part of the discontinued Starbucks version was the frosting.  I know, making scones with frosting is sort of like saying you are a wine drinker who prefers white zinfandel.  Whatever.

Mmmm…almost as good as Starbucks. And, if served for tea,  they just might get you a clandestine but very appreciative cut of the eyes from Mr. Darcy.

Oh, and one more thing.  More of an observation on a coincidence.  Unlike Mr. Darcy’s affection for Ms. Bennett, I’ve made no secret of my own love for the Smitten Kitchen.  I love her like a fat boy loves cake.  Which is why I feel the need to point out that she also has a scone recipe up this week.  What is funny is that this isn’t the first time we’ve had similar posts within a week.  More like the third or fourth.  It would be one thing if each time the recipes had recently appeared in the popular press or periodicals. Nope.  Another entirely if it weren’t for the fact that I suspect she, like me, often cooks and photographs a recipe weeks in advance of posting.  So really what I’m trying to say here is that I swear I’m not copying!   Not to go all quantum physics on you all (doing so would first require that  understand the topic), but I do sort of believe that just maybe perhaps there is a baking stream of consciousness and that at least when it comes to pastry, there is some rhyme and reason to the chaos.

Maple Pecan Oat Scones

Adapted from Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones, by Dorie Greenspan, Baking, From my home to yours, Houghton Mifflin Company


  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 C cold buttermilk
  • 1 2/3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 C old fashioned oats (not quick oats)
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1 TBS baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick plus 2 TBS (10 TBS) cold unsalted butter, cult into small pieces–leave in fridge until ready to use
  • 1 C roughly chopped pecans (I used candied because it’s what I had–use whatever you have)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees, placing rack in center.  Line bake sheet with parchment

  1. Stir egg and buttermilk together, set aside.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into oats. Mix together dry ingredients.
  3. Drop-in butter and, using your fingers,  toss to coat the pieces of butter.  Working with your fingertips or pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly and sandy.
  4. Pour the egg and buttermilk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork until just blended and the dough comes together. Add-in pecans.  Then, gently need the dough by hand 8-10 times.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, divide in half and gently shape each piece into a 5-inch disk.  Cut each disk into 6 wedges and place on baking sheet (I had to do some creative placement to get all 12 on the sheet with distance in between.  You could easily do in two batches, just be sure to refrigerate the second batch while the first is cooking).  Dorie notes that at this point, you can freeze the dough–when working from frozen scones, don’t bother defrosting, just add two minutes to the cooking time.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and firmish.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

for frosting

  • 2 C confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 C maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • water to consistency


  1. Using a hand mixer (or by hand), add syrups into sugar and beat until combined.  Add-in extract and then slowly add-in water until you reach your desired consistency.  Top scones cooled scones.

Oh, to love a crumby cookie

It has occurred to me recently that an inherent craving for the byzantine helps  fuel my love of baking and cooking.  Generally the more difficult a recipe, the more piqued my curiosity.  I also happen to feel this way about book and television show plots.  Yes, I cried like a baby when Lost ended last spring.


There is certain elegance in simplicity and restraint.  Think of the black Louboutin pump.  A Rothco painting.  A tulip.  Or, in this post, a sable cookie.  Sandy, crumbly,  buttery and so subtly sweet that the first bite is almost surprising.  This little French sugar cookie is about as perfect as a cookie can get.

When a cookie recipe only has six components, two things become paramount: ingredients and technique. You already know how I feel about ingredients in general: always buy the best you can afford (or, if the misanthrope in you is acting up–like it sometimes does with me–the best you are willing to feed other people).   As for technique, thankfully, we have Dorie Greenspan.

In a 2004 article in the New York Times Style Magazine, Greenspan talks about how she first learned to make sables from Parisian bread baker Lionel Poilane.  In her lovely description of the lesson, she explains that he made them like he made his bread: no spoons, bowls or mixers.  Over time and with the help of Pierre Herme, she refined the recipe that ultimately appeared in Baking, From My Home to Yours (2006). In this recipe, technique is as important as the ingredients.

Sea salt and two types of sugar, confectioner’s and granulated, are added to softened and beaten butter until the mixture is smooth and velvety (not, fluffy as is often the case with cookies).  Greenspan also notes that by “softened” she literally means, soft–not greasy and nearly liquid, as I often let my butter become.

Then a couple of egg-yolks are beaten in.  The presence of yolks in this recipe surprised me.  I had always assumed that sables, like shortbread, don’t contain eggs.  In this recipe, they help to bind together a barely-mixed dough.

After this, flour, the final ingredient is added.  Greenspan recommends adding the flour, covering the standing mixer with a towel and pulsing until it is just mixed-in.  I prefer to start with a couple of turns of the paddle and then finish by hand.  Not that I have control issues or anything.  The dough doesn’t really come together as a smooth mass.  You want soft curd-like (my word, not hers) crumbs.

Then you divide the dough in half and carefully shape each into a log, touching the dough as little as possible.  Here is where I make a slight diversion from the original recipe.  In the original, you roll the logs, wrap them and chill them in the fridge overnight.  Then, before baking, you give the logs a good egg-wash and sprinkle on sanding sugar.  I prefer to roll the still-soft logs in sanding sugar first, then chill.

Once chilled, the logs get cut into coins.

Popped onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.

And then, into an oven until slightly golden and crisp.



Baking from My House to Yours (2004)

Dorie Greenspan

Yields about 50 cookies


  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter (preferably high-fat, like Plugra), softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted before measuring
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
  • 2 large egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

For the decoration (optional):

  • 1 egg yolk
  • Crystal or dazzle sugar

1. Working in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars and salt and continue to beat until smooth and velvety, not fluffy and airy, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 2 egg yolks, again beating until well blended.

2. Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the mixer and pulse the mixer about 5 times at low speed for 1 or 2 seconds each time. Take a peek; if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of more times; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, stir for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. If you still have some flour on the bottom of the bowl, stop mixing and use a rubber spatula to work the rest of it into the dough. (The dough will not come together in a ball — and it shouldn’t. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you’re aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy dough. When pinched, it should feel a little like Play-Doh.)

3. Scrape the dough onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long (it’s easiest to work on a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to help form the log). Wrap the logs well and chill them for at least 2 hours. The dough may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

4. When ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and keep it at the ready.

5. To decorate the edges of the sables, whisk the egg yolk until smooth. Place one log of chilled dough on a piece of waxed paper and brush it with yolk (the glue), and then sprinkle the entire surface of the log with sugar. Trim the ends of the roll if they are ragged and slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.

6. Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each cookie, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Let the cookies rest 1 or 2 minutes before carefully lifting them onto a cooling rack with a wide metal spatula. Repeat with the remaining log of dough. (Make sure the sheet is cool before baking each batch.)

Two ways to world peace

I love this cookie recipe.  Like, cookie monster style love it.  It is so simple and elegant and universally delicious that I really, really wish I had invented it.  But I didn’t.   Pierre Herme did.  And then Dorie Greenspan re-christened the recipe with its current namesake.  For that, they both  may very well deserve a Nobel Peace Prize.  Or at least a nomination.

This cookie is effectively a chocolate sable.  It is buttery, crumbly and very, very chocolatey.  The best part?  You can make up few batches, store them in the freezer and then bake them off at will.

The recipe starts with cocoa.  My weapon of choice when it comes to cocoa is this valrhona cocoa powder I buy by the pound at Surfas in Culver City, CA.

At the end we’ll add some chopped chocolate (or in my case, teeny tiny chocolate chips).

So where were we?  Oh yes, the middle.  Butter and sugar are creamed in the usual way.  And then the secret ingredient is added: Fleur de sel.  French sea salt.  If you don’t have any in your pantry, it is well worth the small investment I promise!  Following this, the remaining dry ingredients are added and mixed in either a standing mixer or by hand until just combined.

Then, it’s time to get brawny.  A few more folds by hand until the flour disappears (but really, just barely).

Add in the chocolate (chips, chunks, or nuggets).

Roll into a log and then into the fridge (or freezer if you don’t plan to bake them in the immediate).

When ready to bake, slice the log and place dough disks on baking sheets.

And in about ten minutes, you’ve got nirvana.

These are truly perfect as-is.  Really.  But then I started thinking.  If  willing to compromise the sandy texture just slightly, I bet they’d make fantastic sandwich cookies.

So, once I got to the part where the dough should have been rolled into a log, I just rolled it into a ball and chilled the dough.  Out of the fridge, I rolled-out the dough (between two pieces of parchment–you do not want to add extra flour) and punched out circles.  Working the dough in this way does make them less crumbly and more cookie-like.

And that’s why I added some chocolate-nutella frosting in the middle.

World peace: two ways.

World Peace Cookies

This recipe has appeared in a variety of venues.  Dorie Greenspan/Pierre Herme


  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (I’ve used kosher with equal success)
  • 5 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate chopped into small pieces (or tiny chocolate chips)

Sift together flour, cocoa and baking soda in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  In a standing mixer or using an electric hand-held mixer, beat butter until smooth but not fluffy.  Beat in both sugars, vanilla and salt until fluffy; about 2 minutes.  With beater speed on low, add flour mixture and mix until dough just starts to form.  Switch to a spatula and fold dough a few more times until all flour is integrated.  Fold in chocolate.  Roll dough into a log (or two if you want smaller cookies).  Wrap in plastic and chill until firms, at least 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line baking sheets with parchment.  Using a sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2 inch-thick rounds.  Space 1-inch apart on baking sheets and bake until cookies appear dry (11-12 minutes).  Let cool.

If making sandwich cookies (a TMH variation)

Follow steps through forming a log with the dough.  Instead, form dough into a flattened ball and chill for at least 3 hours.   Once firm, roll-out dough 1/4 at a time (it will be tough to work with at first).  The chocolate bits will work as a thickness guide.  Punch-out cookies with a circular cookie cutter.  Place on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 9-10 minutes (less than the original because they will be cooler).

You can fill these with anything.  I just added about 4 TBS of nutella to a cup of this ganache in the pictures above (I happened to already have the ganache in the fridge).