Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

My latest food obsession is rhubarb. I’ve been buying it every Saturday at the local green market since early May. But I’ve only made one thing with it: compote—which is fantastic and delicious on top of damn near anything—but after awhile I needed a break.

Then last weekend, on a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard with my boyfriend and his family, I had a slice of strawberry rhubarb pie from Morning Glory Farm (a place that I’ve heard makes the best pies on the island). And all throughout the following week, I had pie on the brain. I explored the interwebs looking for recipes, and by Friday decided that perhaps pie was too ambitious a project for my Saturday. There just wouldn’t be time.

But I went to the green market yesterday—as some of you may have seen from my previous entry—I found some beautiful rhubarb, and [finally!] some reasonably-priced locally grown strawberries. I went for them, and then popped into Key Food to buy refrigerated pie dough.

Not to sound like Anne Burrell, but look at these cuties!

(Side note: Unless you’re entering a pie contest and trying to prove you’re the best pie-maker at your job/in the county/the state fair, there is absolutely no shame in buying pie dough from the store. It’s a time-saving short cut, and if what you’re buying has a very short ingredients list that includes butter, you’re set.)

I went home and put together a recipe that incorporated elements from recipes I had read online over the week (thank you, Saveur and Martha Stewart). The resulting pie, while not perfect, was indeed beautiful—a golden brown and buttery shell, smattered with siren-red stains of juice, containing a soft, garnet fruit—tender to the bite and exuding the sweet-tart nectar of early summer.

Ta-daa.

 RECIPE:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie I

Ingredients:

Shell:

  • 2 refrigerated pie crusts (I went with Pillsbury)

OR

  • Enough pie dough for two 9” pie crusts (top and bottom)

Filling:

  • 1 pound rhubarb
  • 1 quart strawberries (the smallest, ripest berries you can find)
  • 1 cup plus 3 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tbsp. corn starch
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp. butter

For Topping:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. turbinado sugar

Tools:

  • Clean hands
  • Sharp knife
  • Large and medium-sized bowls
  • Pie plate
  • Wax paper
  • Rolling Pin
  • A brush (for the egg wash)

Method:

Allow pie dough/refrigerated crusts to come to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Rinse and dry rhubarb. Cut each stalk into thin slices (between 1/8 and ¼ of an inch thick). Put the sliced rhubarb in a large bowl. Rinse and gently dry the strawberries, then cut them in half (if they’re small) or quarter them if they’re larger. Combine the strawberries and rhubarb in the bowl – you’ll have about 7 cups of fruit. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine granulated sugar and spices. Sift the flour and cornstarch over the mixture, then mix well with a whisk or fork.

Cut butter into small pieces, set aside. Beat an egg in a small bowl, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add dry ingredients to the fruit, mix well with your hands.

Roll one of the pie rounds between two sheets of wax paper until it’s about 11-12” in diameter. Remove wax paper and set crust over pie plate so you have about 1” overhang. Press dough into pie plate.

Combine the dry ingredients with the fruit and mix thoroughly with your hands, until all the fruit pieces are coated. Transfer the fruit mixture to the pie plate, making sure the top is even. Sprinkle the butter pieces on top.

Roll out the 2nd crust the same as the first, but this time remove the top sheet of wax paper and score the crust with the tip of a sharp knife. You can cut out little shapes like I did if you feel like being fancy, but this isn’t necessary. You just have to make sure steam can escape from the interior of the pie so it doesn’t explode in the oven.

Peel the back sheet of wax paper off the pie dough and lay it very gently atop your half-built pie.

Crimp together the edges of your pie with your fingers, by folding the edge under and pressing them gently into the rim of the pie plate. Next, grab a fork and press it all away around the edges of the pie. (Cute, right? My mom taught me that.) Finally, brush the egg wash lightly all over the top of the pie, and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.

Tip: If you don’t want to shell out the bucks for a box of turbinado sugar (like me), snag yourself two packets of Sugar In The Raw the next time your buy yourself a cup of coffee. Done and Done.

Set the assembled pie over a cookie sheet or piece of foil to catch any juice that might leak, and place in the oven. I baked for 55 minutes, until the crust turned a rich, golden brown color. The edges of the crust were not burned, but if you see yours start to burn during baking, cover the edges with foil.

As you can see, the inside of the pie was so juicy that some liquid escaped through the top. I don’t mind; I wasn’t entering this baby in a contest, and more than anything I wanted to make sure the taste and texture were perfect. To that end, I let the pie rest nearly 8 hours before cutting into it.

Right out of the oven.

The results: a perfectly flaky top crust, tender fruit, and running juices. Delicious, but messy. The bottom crust, while cooked, was not cooked enough to my liking. I wanted it to be crisp, but all the juice in the interior made for a semi-soggy bottom. Again, still delicious, but it was impossible to cut a slice of this pie neatly. I have a feeling the crust would have turned out better if I had blind-baked it, but I have not seen the method called for in recipes for double-crust pies. And next time, I’ll add a half-cup of the flour/corn starch mixture, instead of just a quarter cup. In short, more experiments are definitely in order (much to the delight of my boyfriend).

Lip-Smacking Lemon Curd

Picture this:

You’ve been wanting to make lemon curd for weeks. After a lengthy search for just the right recipe, you find one that calls for the following:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest

The recipe yields 1 and 1/3 cups curd, which would be enough for you—but you’ve been invited to a dinner party tonight.  And the irrepressible overachiever within you thinks it would be a fabulous idea to surprise your host with sponge cupcakes, strawberries macerated in Grand Marnier and agave syrup, and some of that lemon curd.

Solution: double the ingredients, double the curd.  Easy enough.

But as you’re gathering all the elements, you realize you have only 3 eggs. And just under a cup of sugar. You find 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (exactly!) wrapped in the fridge, but that’s all the butter you find.

You have laundry at various stages of washing and drying in the basement. You have not showered, and the bed hair you woke up with isn’t the sexy kind you can get away with outside the home. Four pots, each containing lunches and dinners for the week, are at various stages of cooking on the stove. The dinner party is less than 3 hours away, and it’s pouring outside.  You’re not particularly anxious to run to the grocery store, nor do you have time.

You could stop here, just bring the bottle of wine you told the host you’d bring to the party.  But you’ve been wanting to make lemon curd all week. And because the cake batter has been mixed—and you can’t very well serve a naked cupcake—there’s no turning back.

New plan: Make the curd, but just increase the ingredients by a third.

Again, easy enough. But you’ve forgotten how to add fractions. And you’re running out of time. Did I mention you really need a shower? The pot filled with black bean soup is bubbling over. The phone is ringing. It’s Mom. Those phone calls never last 5 minutes.  What do you do?

Stop thinking and cook.  And somewhere in between, just breathe.

RECIPE:

Tart Lemon Curd,

A Very Happy Accident by Yours Truly

bastardized from Cooking Light’s Lemon Curd (May 2000)

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • a scant cup of sugar
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 5 medium-large lemons’ worth)
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

Method:

Combine eggs, zest and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until sugar dissolves.  It’ll take about 3 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and the butter. Continue stirring, and cook until the mixture loosely coats the back of a spoon. It’ll thicken as it cools.

Transfer the curd to a bowl to cool for about 10 minutes. Then, get a piece of plastic wrap big enough to cover the bowl. Poke a few holes in it, and then place the plastic wrap directly on top of the curd. This prevents condensation from forming, but more importantly it prevents a thick, rubbery skin from forming on the curd (note: this applies to any hot/warm pudding or custard).  Refrigerate.

Once the curd is [mostly] chilled, you can transfer it to a glass jar. It keeps for about a week—if it lasts that long. You’ll get about 16-20 servings from this recipe, assuming each serving is about 2 tablespoons. (In which case, it’s 2 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving.)

A couple of notes on taste…

This curd is ideal for spooning over a sponge cake, a croissant, sweet bread or macerated berries; or, mixing it with yogurt and granola.  You could call it “tart”, but I like to think the limited sugar helps to preserve the integrity of the lemon’s punch and zing. Tracie, who hosted the dinner party, loved the stuff, as did our friend Liz. My boyfriend found the curd a bit too tart. If your sweet tooth needs a little more sweet, add more sugar. Or, you could just follow the original recipe.

Recipes from Mom: Spinach Phyllo Triangles & Lemon Cookies

Happy Monday, all!

For those of you that asked, here are the recipes for two of the many dishes my mom served at this year’s Easter feast—Phyllo Triangles stuffed with spinach & ricotta cheese to kick off the meal, and sweet-tart Lemon Cookies to end it.

Phyllo Triangles filled with spinach & ricotta. Serve alone or with marinated artichokes.

RECIPE:

Spinach-Phyllo Triangles

Yield: 40-50 pieces

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. frozen leaf spinach (not chopped)
  • 2 pounds ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 whole clove of garlic, peeled
  • Extra virgin olive oil (for sautéing)
  • Parsley (leave from 4 stems), chopped
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 package Phyllo dough (preferably fresh)
  • ½ stick of butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil

Method:

Remove spinach from freezer to defrost. When it begins to soften, use a knife to cut the block into strips, about 1” thick. Once it reaches room temperature you can start pulling it apart. Drain the spinach of any excess water using a colander, or wrap it in paper towels and squeeze the water out.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat, and add about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, followed by the garlic. The garlic should not be sizzling strongly; you just want it to flavor the oil. Once you see the garlic start to turn a golden brown, remove it and add the spinach and a pinch of salt. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a bowl.

After the spinach has cooled for a few minutes, add the cheeses, parsley, a generous pinch of pepper and a small pinch of salt, then finally the egg. Mix with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are combined.

Combine the melted butter and 4 tbsp. olive oil in a bowl. Remove a sheet of phyllo carefully and set it on a large cutting board or other large, clean flat surface. Brush the phyllo sheet lightly with the butter & oil mixture. Lay a second sheet of phyllo on top and repeat.

Cut the 2 layered sheets into 5 strips. Towards the bottom of the first strip, in the center but towards the right, apply 1 tbsp of the spinach/cheese mixture, and fold according to the diagram below.

How to fill, shape and fold your triangles, courtesy of Mom.

Brush the top and bottom of the stuffed triangle with the oil/butter mixture, and set the triangle on a cookie sheet.  Repeat the process with the remaining phyllo and filling until you run out.  The triangles should be 1.5” – 2” apart on the cookie sheet. Use more if needed.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the triangles for about 25 minutes, until they turn golden all over. Serve immediately, or cool completely and refrigerate for up to one week. Heat before serving.

* * *

Lemon Cookies!

RECIPE: Lemon Cookies

Biscottini al Limone

Yield: 30-35 cookies

 Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of butter, softened  (4oz)
  • ½ cup of sugar  (4 oz)
  • 2 eggs (large or extra large)
  • 1 ts of Lemon Extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose)
  • 4 tsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup of milk
  • Icing (recipe follows)

Method:

Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Cream butter and sugar together with a mixer, then add eggs, one at a time, followed by extract. Continue beating and add the flour mixture, and as it incorporates into the dough, add the milk. Mix until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Using a tablespoon to shape each dough mound into a ball, place each dough ball about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, until they are just turning a light golden brown at the edges.

As the cookies cool, prepare your icing.  You will need:

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract

Mix ingredients thoroughly with a spoon or whisk. The mixture should not be watery.  When ready, apply about a spoonful of icing to each cookie and coat with your fingers. Allow the icing to solidify for about two hours.

Serve immediately, or store up to 4 days in a cookie tin lined with wax paper. Do not store the cookies in a plastic container (it makes the icing funky).

Sweet Tooth: Two Desserts Made With Fresh Ricotta (Caution: Wine and Salted Caramel are involved…)

When last we met yesterday, I was telling you about my experiment making fresh ricotta cheese.  There are lots of desserts made with ricotta—cheesecakes, pies, cakes, cannoli cream, pudding—and when they’re done right, all of those desserts are wonderful. Creamy and dreamy.

But those desserts can take a lot of time to prepare. If you have fresh ricotta on hand and want to satisfy your sweet tooth—okay, need to satisfy it—I’ve got two desserts that do the job. Each recipe takes 30 minutes or less to prepare, and showcases the soft & creamy texture of ricotta alongside simply cooked and incredibly flavorful fruit.

Exhibit A: Broiled Pineapple with Salted Caramel, Fresh Ricotta, and Chopped Pecans

Serves: 4

Time: 25 minutes

Hi there.

What you will need:

  • 1 golden ripe pineapple
  • 2 tbsp. dark rum (I am a fan of Black Seal)
  • 2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (or walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts)
  • Access to a broiler (and if you don’t have that, a stove-top grill pan will work just fine)

How To Make It:

Set your broiler to high and let it pre-heat for ten minutes.  Peel and core the pineapple, and cut it into 8 stalks. Line up the pineapple stalks down the center of a foil-lined cookie sheet.

Place the pineapple about 2 inches from the broiler flame. Grab a small sauce pan and add the brown sugar, rum, and butter. Set the pan over medium-low heat and stir with a whisk to break up the sugar. Continue stirring until all the sugar dissolves, then add the salt. Allow mixture to boil for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.

Check on the pineapple. Ideally, you’ll want a little char on the edges of the stalks, but be careful not to burn them. Remove from the broiler once the stalks are ready. Drizzle half of the caramel sauce on each of four plates and place two stalks on each plate. Place about a 1/4 cup of ricotta on top of each pair of stalks, then drizzle the remaining caramel over the cheese. Top each dessert with about a tablespoon of chopped pecans and serve.

Voi-la!

Exhibit B: Red Wine-Poached Pears with Fresh Ricotta and Chopped Walnuts

Serves: 4

Time: 30 minutes

Hello, gorgeous.

What you’ll need:

  • 4 pears (I used D’Anjou, but Bartlett or Bosc pears work just as well)
  • 1.5 cups red wine
  • 1.75 cups water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (pecans or almonds work here too)

How to Make It:

Combine wine, water, cinnamon stick and lemon in a medium saucepan and set over medium high heat. While you’re waiting for the mixture to boil, peel the pears.

Add the pears to the boiling liquid and reduce to a simmer.  The pears should be completely submerged in the liquid. Poach pears for 8-10 minutes, until they’re tender enough to pierce with a knife. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears to a plate to cool. Continue simmer the poaching liquid, allowing it to reduce by about a quarter.

Remove the pan from heat, and use the same slotted spoon to lift out 4 of the lemon slices, placing each on a dessert plate. The lemon slice will anchor the pear so it doesn’t roll around. Next, spoon some of the reduced poaching liquid over each pear, letting it pool on the plate.

Set about 1/4 cup of ricotta on each plate, right in the pool of liquid, and sprinkle the top of each dish with the chopped nuts.

Boom! Done.

Happy eating!

Holiday Re-Cap: Memories of Lobsters Past, A Feast Short of Four Fishes, and… fried balls?

I am writing from my mother’s kitchen table, still full from our afternoon meal.  I was here two days ago, on the 24th, for our yearly Christmas Eve feast.  The Italians are famous for the Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve; since it’s just Mom and me, we scale back a bit.  Usually our meal begins with fried squid (calamari) or shrimp, followed by a pasta-with-fish course (usually clams or mussels), and for the main course, lobster. Always lobster.

When I was little and my parents were still married, we had a much bigger crowd for Christmas Eve dinner, about ten people.  My father and I had taken to racing the lobsters on our kitchen floor before they met their death in my mother’s able hands at the sink.  They didn’t move very fast, but watching eight lobsters waddle about was great entertainment for us, until we were shoo’ed out of the kitchen and back into the living room, where I was stuck watching football and staring longingly at unopened presents.

As the years passed, the crowd at the table got smaller and smaller, and I stayed in the kitchen watching TV while my mother cooked.  Some years she prepared a stuffed lobster, and bought another to make a wonderful red sauce to have over pasta.  Other years, she made linguine with clams, and steamed that second lobster so we could dip the claw and tail meat in a garlic-parsley butter.

Last year, my mother didn’t have time to go shopping till the morning of the 24th, when the supermarkets are teeming with nervous cooks speeding down each aisle, stopping only at the meat counter or fish counter to pick up the centerpiece of their dinners, usually ordered well in advance.  My mother had not placed an order for lobsters (generally we each get one, around a pound and a half each).  When she got to the fish counter, there was a lone lobster left in the tank.  This lobster was unlike any my mother had ever brought home, and much larger than anything she’d even consider preparing for two people.  Sure, we could have eaten something else, but this was for Christmas Eve dinner, and she didn’t want to disappoint me.

Are you sure you want to remove those rubber bands?

This guy weighed in at about 5.5 pounds, and I bet at least a third of that was in its left claw.  The tail alone contained over a pound of meat.  Killing the creature was a two person job—this guy was a wriggler, and a strong one at that, so I held him still, and my mother delivered the fatal stab to his middle, killing him instantly.

In the end, my mother prepared three courses from this one lobster, and we still had shrimp, clams, and calamari to eat, too.  It was an incredibly delicious but overwhelming meal.

This year, my mother did her food shopping on December 23rd, and nearly had to beg the fishmonger for two small lobsters (he had a full tank, but many orders to fill).

Meet Hans and Frans.

My mother prepared her lobster in red sauce, and steamed my guy.  We skipped having an appetizer in favor of having more pasta.

Mussels and cockels cooked in white wine with parsley...

...with spaghettini. "Tutti a tavola, a mangiare!"

It was a wonderful dinner, made even better by our dessert—a very traditional Italian holiday favorite: pignolata.

Pignolata

The preparation for pignolata (also known as Struffoli, if your mom or grandma is from Naples) is about as simple as it gets.  You prepare a pastry dough, generally not more more than flour, eggs, a bit of butter and a pinch of salt.  The dough has to rest about a half hour at least until it is rolled out, cut and shaped into ropes, about a foot long and a half-inch wide.  Each rope is then cut into segments, about 3/4 of an inch each, before frying.  Drain the fried dough of any excess oil on paper towels.  At this point, you’re basically looking at fried balls. But pignolata is more than fried balls! And pignolata sounds so much nicer!

While the balls, err—bits of fried goodness—are cooling, prepare the sauce: put 3 parts honey and 1 part sugar in a large sauce pan or stock pot and bring to a boil.  Next, add the grated zest of one lemon and reduce heat to very low (unless you’re working on an electric stove—the shut the heat off entirely).  Then add the fried bits, with a handful of roasted almonds, stirring to coat everything (which takes a few minutes).  Pour out of the pot and into a platter, shaping however you like.

You can top the dish with sprinkles, but there’s really no need.  It already tastes like Christmas.

* * *

EPILOGUE: The haul

Some girls want clothes, others want jewelry.  I wanted cookware.  I would especially like to thank both my mom and dad for supplying me with a fleet of brand new cast iron pans, a Dutch oven, a variety of awesome bakeware, cookbooks and kitchen tools.  It’s going to be a great year for cooking!

Squee!

Sweet Tooth: The Revamped Chocolate Chip Cookie

Meet the cookies.

A lot of my experiments in the kitchen over the last few years have focused on “lightening up” traditional recipes for sweet treats.  Admittedly, weight loss is difficult to achieve when you have a sweet tooth (okay, a mouth full of sweet teeth) and a discerning palette. I don’t do 100-calorie packs or diet cookies. I can taste the fakeness.  I’ve [almost] perfected angel food cake, and meringues of many flavors, but sometimes—many times—I don’t want a light, airy dessert. I want a cookie.

A real cookie.

Chocolate chip cookies were the first cookies I learned to bake. They may be the first cookies I ever ate.  I remember watching my mother get all the ingredients together hours in advance of the actual baking, allowing plenty of time for the butter to soften and for the eggs to get to room temperature. I remember stealing a taste of the dough at every stage of mixing —once the butter and sugar had been creamed together, after the eggs and vanilla had been added, again after the dry ingredients had been mixed in, and finally—blissfully—after the semi-sweet morsels had been stirred in and evenly distributed throughout the dough.

My hand got a few good smacks, and I was chastised repeatedly for eating raw eggs, but I didn’t care.  I thought it was my duty to ensure that our final product was perfect, and you can almost guarantee a perfect cookie when you have perfect dough. I say “almost” because if you bake chocolate chip cookies even a minute too long, you can miss perfection entirely.

That was my thinking, anyway.  I didn’t drink milk as a child (and I still haven’t acquired a taste for it), so I didn’t want a crisp cookie for dunking.  I wanted chewy cookies, and not rubbery-chewy, like the kind of cookies made with applesauce or some other fat stand-in for butter. I wanted the real deal, and I was very quick to detect imitations (ahem, Pillsbury & Pepperidge Farm. I am talking to you).  Those kinds of cookies were readily available at school functions and friends’ houses, but my mother always made Tollhouse cookies, faithfully following the recipe on the back of a bag of Nestlé semi-sweet morsels.  To this day, I still uphold that recipe as the gold standard.

Last Sunday, I was faced with a challenge: I wanted a real deal cookie, and I’d also made a really good effort to plan a series of healthy meals for the week, so I didn’t want to make something that would thwart my efforts.  How to make a real-deal cookie without all the fat in a real-deal cookie?  This is a multi-layered challenge for a number of reasons.

  1. Baking being chemistry, altering the fat content of a classic recipe could produce a disaster, and it has in the past (with applesauce).
  2. Butter guarantees excellent taste, a perfect crumb, and moisture (as do the eggs).  Water or fat-free milk simply would not do.  Vegetable oil?  Sorry, but no.
  3. Chocolate chips are a key ingredient in these cookies.  No fat free substitutions would fit in there.

Ultimately, there was one solution: keep all the good stuff in, but use less.

For guidance, I referred to a recipe from Nick Malgieri and David Joachim’s book, Perfect Light Desserts, “David’s Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies”.  The recipe served as a good starting point: lower in fat, no substitutions for the good stuff, and heavy on the chocolate—perhaps a little too heavy.  So, if I cut back on the chocolate chips, what could I add to the ensemble cast of ingredients that would amp up taste and texture without getting in the way of the show’s star, the wonderful semi-sweet morsels?

Enter Rice Krispies.  Think about it for second.  Makes sense, right?

Many bakers have prepared chocolate chip cookies with Rice Krispies (several recipes are available online).  They add crunch, and an airy lightness to the cookies.  Their sweetness is subtle, but there’s enough of a presence that you can cut back a bit on the white sugar (which I did, by 2 tablespoons from David’s recipe).

But I didn’t stop there. After another scan of my pantry, my eyes spied the finely shredded, unsweetened coconut, and I added some of that to the recipe, too. You know, just because.

The result, friends, is a batch of wonderful, delicious and truly dynamic cookies—chocolaty, chewy and crispy, warmly sweet, and perfectly satisfying.  I sent my boyfriend to work with them on Monday (reserving a few for myself, naturally), and they disappeared very quickly.

Then the compliments flowed in, and I knew I couldn’t keep this one to myself.

RECIPE

Chocolate Chip Rice Krispy Cookies

Adapted from David Joachim’s recipe for Super Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 30 to 35 cookies

For Ronnie

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp 2% or whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping cup Rice Krispies
  • 3 tbsp finely shredded unsweetened coconut

Method:

  1. Set racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (or lightly grease them).
  2. Mix the first 3 ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugars together in mixer with a paddle attachment on medium for about a minute.  (Alternatively you can use electric beaters.) Then beat in egg and milk until they are absorbed, then the vanilla.
  4. Scrape down the bowl and beat in the flour mixture on low speed until all ingredients are blended together.
  5. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the chocolate chips, Rice Krispies and coconut. Make sure all the additions are as evenly distributed as possible.
  6. Chill the dough for at least 15 minutes before baking.
  7. Use an ice cream scoop to form the cookies into 1.25” balls, and set each about 2 inches apart in the pan.
  8. Put cookie sheets in the oven and set the timer for 8 minutes.  At this point you’ll want to check the cookies and see if they’re browning – you want to bake them till they’re just golden to ensure a good balance of chewiness and crispiness.  My cookies took about 10 minutes to bake.
  9. Cool in pan for 2 minutes, then using a spatula move cookies to cool on a wire rack.  These cookies are terrific warm (not hot), or at room temperature.
  10. Store between sheets of wax paper in an air-tight container for up to 4 days— if they last even that long.

Weight Watcher Points Plus Info

  • 2 points per cookie

Sweet Tooth: Ginger Molasses Cookies— A Step by Step Guide (Part I)

Ginger. Molasses. Greatness!

My boyfriend is heading to Hartford to see his family for Thanksgiving, and I wanted to send a dessert that would be a little different from everything else on the table, and transport well.  Thanksgiving is a pie holiday—and I love pie—but the idea of traveling with a pie while taking public transportation in bad weather on a three-hour trip to Connecticut just gives me anxiety.  So, I decided to make cookies.

The inspiration to make these cookies is the Little Buddy Biscuit Company of Brooklyn, a wonderful cookie shop that unfortunately closed earlier this year.  Little Buddy made the most incredible Ginger Molasses Cookies—packed with ginger flavor, perfectly chewy, and huge.

This is the first time I’ve worked with ginger as a baking ingredient—and it appears twice in this recipe: in ground form, and as crystallized ginger, which gives these cookies a memorable zing.  This is also the first time I’ve worked with molasses, and now that I have so much left over, I may be bold enough to make a pecan pie (but that’s another entry).

Without further ado, here is the step-by-step guide to making these beautiful, spicy, marvelous cookies.

Spicy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pinch of allspice
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses (I used Grandma’s brand, the dark robust molasses)
  • 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp milk (2% or whole) – IF NEEDED
  • 1 chopped crystallized ginger (chop in a food processor if you have one)
  • Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies

 Method:

Combine all of your spices (cinnamon through allspice), flour and baking soda.  Sift everything into a large bowl to ensure all the flavors are evenly distributed throughout, and set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large stainless steel bowl), combine the brown sugar, molasses and vegetable oil.  Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.  Set the timer for this one – it’s essential to mix these ingredients this long to ensure they’re fully blended (similar to the way you would cream butter and sugar together in other recipes).

The mixture of oil, molasses and sugar after 4 minutes of beating.

Turn your mixer or beaters to low speed, and add the egg, beating for 1 minute.  Turn the mixer or your beaters off, and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Resume beating on low speed for another minute.

With the mixer or beaters still on low speed, slowly add the flour/spice mixture.  You can pour slowly from the bowl, but I find that tends to get messy, so I use a large serving spoon to add the flour/spice mixture incrementally.  You may have to pause mixing every now and again to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Once all of the flour/mixture has been added to the bowl, beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  If you find that the dough is becoming too dry (perhaps your mixer or beaters are stuttering or stalling, like my mixer was), add 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk, and continue mixing until all ingredients are incorporated.

Add dry ingredients 1 spoonful at a time, as they incorporate into the dough.

Finally, it’s time to add the crystallized ginger.  This is pretty sticky stuff once it’s chopped up, so you’ll want to mix it in, on low speed, until it’s fully incorporated into the batter.  Scrape the dough around the sides of the bowl and double check everything has been fully mixed and incorporated.

While you could bake the cookies immediately after mixing the dough, I recommend refrigerating the dough overnight.  It’s a very sticky dough, and very hard to roll in your hands while it’s soft.  So – grab a clean bowl, lay a large sheet of wax paper on top of it (see photo) and scoop your dough onto the wax paper.  Wrap it up, then put it in a zippered plastic storage bag and put it in the fridge.

Have a cup of tea, lick the dough off the beaters if you’re not frightened of raw eggs (I’ve been doing it since I was 5 years old, and I’m 30 now, very healthy).  Clean up the lovely mess you’ve made, and go to bed.  We’ll bake together tomorrow.

Stay tuned!