Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Baltimore Berger Cookies

Back while I was still living in the UK one of my friends brought us some Berger cookies from her hometown of Baltimore.  Like most of the rest of the world, I had never heard of these cookies.  According to wikipedia, they were developed by a baker in Baltimore in the 1850s, adapted from a German recipe.  The base is similar to that of the black and white cookie, aka a soft boring sugar cookie.  But then that simple white cookie is piled high with a fudge like chocolate frosting and that is what makes this cookie shine.  My friend from Baltimore tells me the goal when making them at home should be to have as high a ratio of chocolate to cookie as possible.  I usually aim for 1:1, before the chocolate looks about to topple off the cookie base.

I think I've finally perfected the chocolate fudge topping, now that a few people from Baltimore have tasted them and said they are better than the original.  I shipped some this week to the friend who introduced them to me, and she wrote back that "they taste like friendship and home."  For a blog that is all about comfort food and baking away from home, that seemed like a pretty perfect endorsement (at least for those from Baltimore).

Monday, September 28, 2015

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pretty soon into starting my internship this summer, I realized that fitting things into my weekly schedule other than work, food and sleep was almost impossible.  As usual, this meant that running/exercise was one of the first things to go out the door so I tried to compensate by keeping myself from buying junk food or dessert at the grocery store.  However I developed a bad habit of eating giant spoonfuls of peanut butter dipped into chocolate chips, repeatedly, every night.  Until one night I glanced at the side of the peanut butter jar and learned just how many calories are in one small spoonful of peanut butter...  This encouraged me to dredge up the recipe for these cookies so I could get my delicious peanut butter and chocolate craving satiated with a cookie or two, without consuming a 1000 calories each night.

These cookies are soft, super peanut buttery, packed full of chocolatey chunks, and wrapped in a thin crisp coating of sugar.  They got rave reviews the first time I brought them to work, but that was also on a crazy day, and half of the comments where things like "this is the first thing I've eaten all day, and this cookie is amazing" (at 5pm).  So I brought in another batch on a less hectic day, and they still got rave reviews, and my cookie tin was emptied pretty rapidly.  So if you are one of the smart people out there who likes peanut butter and chocolate, then I recommend you go bake some cookies.

Peanut butter cookies
Minimally adapted from Smitten kitchen
Makes 2-3 dozen

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, softened (or microwaved 10 seconds)
1 cup peanut butter (I use smooth)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 Tb milk
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chocolate chips

Optional: 1/4 cup sugar to roll cookies in

Make the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350
  1. In a medium bowl, mix the butter, peanut butter, and both sugars with electric beaters until smooth and fluffy
  2. Add in the egg, milk, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and mix well.
  3. Mix in the flour, just until combined, then mix in the chocolate chips by hand, using a spoon.
  4. Pour your 1/4 cup of sugar into a small bowl, if you opt for the sugar coaint.  Using your hands form small balls of cookie dough into balls about 1-1.5 inches wide, roll each ball in sugar, then place on a ungreased cookie tray, about 1 inch apart.  Use a fork and press down to slightly flatten each ball of dough to get your signature peanut butter cookie mark.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating tray half way during baking time, until the edges look slightly golden.  Cool on a wire rack and enjoy within 1-2 days (store in an air-tight container).

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Coconut macaroons (aka the other macaron)

Coconut macaroons where a dessert I grew up eating only at passover, store bought from a can; which is why I always call these the "jewish macaroons," as opposed to the french macaron that is so trendy right now.  (Though no one else seems to know what I'm referring to when I say that...).  While they were always great, but I never thought to make my own or to eat them the rest of the year, until a friend shared some of her homemade macaroons with me recently.

These are even better than the store bought ones of my childhood, the texture and taste comes out a bit like the inside of a mounds bar.  These are very chewy, delicious and addictive.   What's more, they only require 5 ingredients (2 of which are chocolate), they are gluten free, and they freeze well!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookies

These last few months have been quite a transition period.  They included finishing vet school rotations, a few trips to the US, planning a conference, studying for finals, planning a move back to the states, and taking final exams...  I have actually fit in quite a bit of baking into that period (its possible I'm a stress baker, oops!), but I only recently realized that I've let the blog fall behind!  My most recent baking has alternated between french macaron's (as usual) and recipes chosen purely to use up ingredients left in our cupboards - which didn't always lead to the most delicious, blog-worthy things.   I do have a few newer recipes to share at some point in the future, but I decided that as I'm moving back to the US, and started this blog about baking American in the UK, maybe an old fashioned classic would be a great transition recipe.  So here I present you with my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  (My apologies if posts continue to be sparse over the next year, I'm not sure how many hours I will get to spend outside of the hospital walls!)

This recipe, if baked right, will give you a thick-ish cookie, soft in the middle, a little crunchy on the edges, and oh so delicious.  In fact is so good I've often had people ask for the recipe, which is impressive for something as simple as a chocolate chip cookie!  I'm sure anyone who bakes in the US already has their standard go-to recipe for the chocolate chip cookie, but if you ever have any disappointment in the outcome, then I recommend you try out this new variation, it has a few things going for it!  Here are some of the aspects to the recipe that I think makes the difference:

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Melting Chocolate Meringue Cookies

Passover is just around the corner, so I thought I would share a pesach-friendly recipe to get everyone excited.  The holiday often is often known for having mediocre desserts, as people try to adapt their favorite every day recipe to not include leaveners, replacing flour with matzah meal etc.  But personally, I prefer to instead choose recipes that are meant to not rise or have flour in them to begin with.  There are a lot of delicious recipes out there that I make all year, that just so happen to be kosher for passover.  I just realized last year that this cookie recipe is one of those... And it is also gluten free!  So this is a great recipe to have in your book, and its fast to whip up.

These melting chocolate cookies are made from meringue, so they are light as air when you pick them up, and melt in your mouth, filling it with a rich chocolatey taste.  Even though they are light, and small, they are full of flavor and decadent, so just one or two little cookies will fill your your chocolate cravings.  These are delicious all year round!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Gruyere and Carmelized Onion Flower Brioche

Lets just start by saying I am so glad this recipe finally made it into my life.  Apparently the brioche flower (usually Nutella filled) has been floating around the internet and gracing peoples tables for a while, however it only just came onto my browser a few weeks ago.  Upon seeing a picture of it, I instantly had to try making it, and have made it a few times since.  As you can probably tell, I usually go for flavor over looks in my baked goods, but this is one of those few special recipes that is simple to make (unlike the macaron), amazing to look at, AND delicious to eat.  Either sweet or savory, this recipe is a winner.  People are so impressed its home made when you bring it in, and its so easy to share, as everyone just tears off "petals."

My discovery of this recipe on the interwebs also happened to coincide with being given a gopro as a present.  This seemed like a perfect excuse to try out time-lapse baking... thus leading to my new obsession (expect to see more here soon!) Here is my first baking time-lapse, of the brioche making process (nutella filled):

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Almond Cookies

During our many travels the last few months we ended up spending a quick weekend visiting family in Minnesota.  It just so happened our visit coincided with a tasting event for their local Star Tribune's annual holiday cookie competition.  We spent a great afternoon sampling delicious cookies, and got to leave with new recipes in hand, and it was great seeing some new variations on old holiday classics.  The winner this year were these tasty Italian almond cookies - little soft balls of almondy, lemony deliciousness rolled in powdered sugar.

A few things drew me to this recipe... I find that without outside guidance my baking sometimes gets repetitive, alternating between chocolate, peanut butter, and chocolate and peanut butter, sometimes mixing it up with some caramel... Not that any of my taste testers (friends), complain, but its still nice to mix it up.  This recipe provided a nice alternative to the classic chocolate chip cookie.  I also liked that this recipe is a similar base to the macarons I'm obsessed with making, but much easier to make. I had just brought back some fresh cinnamon from a vacation to Zanzibar last week, so I rolled some of the cookies in a cinnamon/sugar mixture instead of the powdered sugar called for in the original recipe.

The Fudgy (chai/mocha optional) brownie

In my house chocolate is basically always an appropriate choice. Whether you are celebrating, mourning, or having a stressful or happy d...