This recipe is crave-worthy. This recipe is worth your time. This is good stuff, people. A salted caramel filling made with smooth, rich olive oil, and then topped with a rich, thick chocolate ganache.
Since I was in San Diego all week, this edition of #whathappenswednesday is from my archives. It's an oldie but a goodie: what happens when you try to cook chocolate chip cookie dough without the use of an oven? I found out, and the results are pretty funny:
Who out there can resist a chocolate chip cookie? Raise your hands. I'm waiting. Waiting...
Seriously. Chocolate chip cookies are basically the best, and arguments are few and far between.
These days, there are so many chocolate chip cookie recipes out there that it makes your brain feel tired (or at least it does to mine). Sometimes, you just want a good, solid, dependable recipe.
This recipe, featured in the new book The Yellow Table, is just that. There's nothing crazy funky about it, but the combination of salted and unsalted butter yields what, to me, is a perfect cookie flavor. I think you'll enjoy this one. Below is the recipe and headnote from the book.
PERFECT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
This recipe is the result of my obsessive quest to create the perfect chocolate chip cookie: slightly crisp on the outside, gooey on the inside, and with plenty of chocolate chips and a touch of sea salt. My husband loves these cookies so much that I made hundreds of them—with help from a team of friends and family—as favors for our wedding.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, plus
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups allpurpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 (12 ounce) package semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Soften both the salted and unsalted butter in the microwave (or on the stovetop) until nearly melted, about 1 minute. Let cool slightly then transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add both sugars, and beat on high until smooth and lightened in color, 2–3 minutes. Add the egg and the egg yolk and beat until fully combined. Add the vanilla and beat until fully combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the stand mixer and mix on low just until no flour streaks remain. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts, if using. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Drop tablespoonfuls of dough, about 2 inches apart, onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake until the cookies are slightly brown and puffy, about 11 minutes for soft cookies and 13 for crisp ones. Set the baking sheets directly on the racks to cool for 10 minutes then place the cookies directly on the rack to cool completely. Eat one (or two or three!) warm with a glass of ice cold milk. Life doesn’t get much better than this.
Store cookies, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 3 days.
Reprinted with permission from The Yellow Table published in 2015 by Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. © Anna Watson Carl. Photography by Signe Birck
While I primarily focus on sweets on this website, my recent writing about body acceptance, health, and well-being has been personally rewarding in that I feel that my words are really able to help people live fuller, more delicious lives. So when I was offered the opportunity to share information on eye health in this sponsored post, I felt it was appropriate, important, and worthwhile information to share. After all, we eat with our eyes first, and the world out there is big and wide and open and beautiful. We should all approach it with an open heart and clear, bright eyes!
In a nutshell, my story is this: when I was 11 years old, I got my first pair of glasses. I have worn them ever since. I love my glasses--they are part of my personality and I have different pairs to match my mood, or at least my shoes. That having been said, I know it is of the utmost importance to care for my eyes. While my vision isn't naturally the best, I know that by keeping myself healthy, I can help prevent vision decline as I get older. As cute as glasses can be, I don't want to succumb to macular degeneration or age-related eye diseases.
Basically, I want to do everything I can to keep my eyes healthy.
Eye health is often overlooked, although vision is responsible for many health issues: 258 million people worldwide are visually impaired; 39 million are blind. A significant percentage of eye disease in the US is age-related macular degeneration. Overall, the medical costs associated with vision disease exceed $20 billion dollars per year in the US.
The thing is this: much of that cost and suffering is preventable. If we were to take proactive steps toward eye health, the costs and medical complications could be reduced dramatically.
So how do we take proactive steps? The first step, which is accessible to anyone, is proper nutrition.
Taking care of your eyes: nutrition everyone needs
There are certain essential nutrients which can help maintain eye health. Let's explore them:
Lutein and zeaxanthin
These are two nutrients which support eye health. Both lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids, occurring naturally in leafy greens such as kale and spinach, as well as other fruits and vegetables. They have two key functions: they absorb potentially harmful blue-violet wavelengths of light energy that come into the eye, and they also function as antioxidants.
Studies show that lutein and zeaxanthin can boost macular pigment optical density (MPOD) in people in early stages of age-related macular degeneration, enhancing overall retinal function.
Most Americans only get about 1mg of the suggested 10mg per day of lutein, and 0.2 mg of the suggested 2mg per day of zeaxanthin.
DHA and EPA Omega-3s
These polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are found primarily in fatty fish like salmon, are important for overall health, but are particularly important for healthy eyes.
Some studies have shown a link between low levels of DHA and EPA and eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, AMD and retinopathy of prematurity. By increasing intake of DHA and EPA Omega-3s today, we can help maintain our eye health.
This is no mere vitamin: it's a fat soluble superstar which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is naturally found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and greens.
However, neither adults nor children are getting the recommended amount of vitamin E from diet alone.
So how do we up our intake of these vital nutrients?
Even with the best of intentions, fitting all of these nutrients into our diet can be difficult. This is where vitamins and other essential nutrient supplements can play a vital role in closing the nutrient gaps in our diets.
For more information on essential nutrients for brain health, go to vitaminsinmotion.com.
This post includes my own personal opinions, and should not be taken as medical advice.
You want to make a big batch of something? I can help.
I wrote a post for Craftsy about how to successfully double or triple recipes - some tips for success. It's a handy-dandy reference, if I do say so myself.
Mostly, but not apples in this series of links.
The Mason Jar: how it went from food vessel to hipster icon. (The Atlantic)
Apple crumb cheesecake bars. (Spiffy Cookie)
Apple cinnamon breakfast cookies. (Eat Drink Love)
How to make candy apples in any color. (Rose Bakes)
Philadelphia Jewish apple cake. A fave of mine when I lived there! (Just a Pinch)
A helpful guide to apples in cooking and baking. (Williams-Sonoma)
Fried apple pies. (CakeSpy for Craftsy)
Honey apple pancakes. (Clabber Girl)
Apple sandwiches with granola and peanut butter. These are cute! (Whole Foods Market)
Caramel apple pie bars. (CakeSpy archives)
Apple pie cookies. (Oh Bite It)
Crumb topped apple slab pie. YES! (BHG)
Cinnamon apple snack cake. Niiiiice. (Recipe Runner)
Maple apple cake. Yumz. (Grandbaby Cakes)
Book of the week: Astonishing Apples. With a leaning toward midwest apple specimens, this book is fascinating. It has a ton of recipes, yes, but for me, the most interesting bits were actually the apple lore--learning about how apples have been developed and how they've evolved, plus regional guides to apples and how to use them.
Oh yes, I did.
Before today, Now & Later Pop-Tarts were not a thing, but now they are. All thanks to ME.
Well, me and Now & Later. Because it's thanks to a box of these sweet candies that arrived at my door that these sweet treats now exist.
OMG. Did you love Now & Later candies as much as I did growing up? They were actually my cool older sister's favored candy, and as a result, they seemed to be the most impossibly cool and grown-up foodstuff I could possibly think of. They've always tasted like aspiration and joy to me. And sweet and sour goodness, of course.
To say that I'm proud of this recipe would be a vast understatement. Yes, they're funny and clever and feature pop culture candy and pastry icons in one mashup. But beyond that, these things actually taste good. Melted down with butter, the taffy-like candy becomes soft and creamy, and the flavor is the perfect sweet-tart complement to a rich, flaky homemade pastry dough. The creamy icing is pretty as a picture when studded with sprinkles and a little extra candy for good measure.
For the pastry
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter, cut into small pieces, very cold
- 1 stick butter, cut into large cubes, very cold
- 1/2 cup ice water
For the filling
- 6 packages (6 candies each) strawberry Now & Later candies
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
- 6 Strawberry Now & Later candies, cut into small pieces
Make the pastry. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and the small pieces of butter. Combine using a pastry mixer until the butter and flour mixture resembles a meal, and no pieces are larger than the size of a pea.
Add in the rest of the butter (the bigger pieces). Coat with flour, and then squeeze each piece so that it is flat. Weird, I know, but trust me, it makes a great crust.
Add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until the dough comes together. It won't be totally wet; just add water until you can easily clump the dough.
Divide the dough in two equal parts, and form each portion into a rectangle. Wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for several hours.
Once you're ready to get going, it's time to make the filling. In a double boiler, melt the candy and the butter over low heat. The low heat helps the mixture melt and remain cohesive as the candy melts. Once melted, set to the side. Stir every few minutes to make sure it doesn't separate while you work on the next steps.
Working with one portion of dough at a time, roll the dough into a rectangle shape. Cut off the corners with a sharp knife or pizza cutter so that you have an approximately 12 by 10 inch rectangle.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone.
Cut the dough into 8 equal portions. Repeat with the second round of dough. Now, you'll have 16 rectangles. Place half of the rectangles on the prepared baking sheet; keep the other ones close by as they will be the tops of the tarts.
Spoon the filling in the center of half of the rectangles. Don't spread it all the way to the edges.
Brush the uncovered edges with your egg wash mixture. This will help the top portion stick.
Place the second rectangle of dough bookmarked to match up with each piece, and press firmly (to create a seal). Really be sure that you've made a seal, as the candy can leak if you don't. Enforce that seal by pressing the edges with the tines of a fork; poke the tops of the pastries with the tines of a fork a few times to create a release valve for any steam while the tarts bake.
Place the tarts in the fridge for about 30 minutes; this will help the filling set a little so it doesn't "bleed" too much during baking.
Near the end of the chilling period, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Bake in your preheated oven for 8-12 minutes, or until just lightly browned.
If you find that a few of the pastries have leaked candy, don't panic. Some "bleeding" is fine; even if it looks like a lot, the pastries are probably nicely filled--mine leaked filling, and it looked like a lot, but it actually wasn't much at all. But I was really glad I lined the tray with a silicone mat, because it made cleanup so much easier. Once the pastry is browned to your liking, remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes or so on a wire rack.
Make the icing. In a bowl, sift the sugar; stir in the cream or milk until it reaches a glaze-like consistency. Drizzle on top of each of the tarts. Immediately sprinkle each one with sprinkles and the cut-up candy.
Let the icing set, then enjoy.
Here's the answer to a question you might never even have known you had: what happens when you melt the contents of an entire bag of candy corn in the oven?
I can tell you what happens, because I did it the other day.
The short answer is this.
But if you'd like a little more information...allow me to expand.
First, I got a baking tray and set a silicone mat on top (so the corn wouldn't stick. I know from melting candy in the microwave that it does not like to come off of a surface once melted).
Then I scattered the contents of a bag of candy corn on the sheet.
Then I preheated the oven to 300 degrees F. I just kicked back and looked at Facebook til it was fully warmed, with the tray of candy corn right next to me.
Then I popped the tray in the oven, and set the timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, here's what I found.
It flattened a bit as it cooled. Perfect.
I let it cool for a while longer, then noticed that it began to firm so that I could actually pick up an edge.
Actually, the whole thing. It looked like beautiful stained glass.
I tried to roll it, and it rolled. But then I had an even better idea!
I unrolled and re-rolled into a cornet shape.
I put some foil in, and used a mug to keep the opening in shape as it set.
Once it did, I filled it with candy corn, for a...
Oh my god, I am so brilliant.
*Pats self on back.*
Oh, and P.S., once the cornucopia set, it was crisp. That means that you can crack off shards of it and have a little snack once you've finished the candy corn kernels you stuffed inside.
So...what happens when you melt an entire bag's worth of candy corn in the oven?
You may find that you need more candy corn, is what. Because it's a lot of fun to get crafty with your sheet of candy corn melt!
Is there a happier dessert confabulation than the Neapolitan triplet combination of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry?
Me, I'm a sucker for Neapolitan. Oddly, the ice cream doesn't quite do it for me, but everything else labeled Neapolitan really, truly does. Like blondies. Or cupcakes. or cake.
So when I received a review copy of Something Sweet by Miriam Pascal, I was super excited to see Neapolitan trifles. They are not only adorable, but sound like a perfect, travel-friendly, palate pleasing dessert. So let's get to it!
Dairy or Pareve Yield 12‐14 (6‐oz) trifles
This recipe was created out of necessity. I needed a dessert recipe that looked pretty, traveled well. and could be made ahead and frozen when fully completed. This one fits all of those criteria. It freezes well, can be stored frozen and transported in a sealed jar, looks gorgeous, and tastes great. It was a hit, and surely will be a hit at your parties too!
1 cup flour
1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2⁄3 cup brown sugar
1⁄3 cup oil
1 cup heavy whipping cream or nondairy whip topping 1 cup strawberry pie filling, puréed
8 oz cream cheese or soy cream cheese
1⁄3 cup sour cream or soy sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream or nondairy whip topping
1⁄3 cup powdered sugar
Prepare the chocolate crumbs: Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
Combine all crumb ingredients in a bowl. Mix until combined and the texture of coarse crumbs. (I found it easiest to mix this with my fingers.)
Spread the crumbs in a single layer on prepared baking sheet; bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven; cool completely before assembling the trifles.
Prepare the strawberry mousse: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on high speed, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Remove whipped cream to another bowl. There’s no need to wash the bowl before continuing. Add pie filling, cream cheese, sour cream, and vanilla to mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed until combined and smooth. Add powdered sugar; beat until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture until combined. Set aside.
Prepare the vanilla cream: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on high speed, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until combined.
Assembly: Place crumbs into a 6‐ounce jar or cup, filling it about one‐quarter full. Spoon or pipe strawberry mousse over crumbs, filling container a little more than three‐ quarters full. Pipe on vanilla cream, filling container almost to the top. Repeat with remaining jars.
Note Use canned pie filling, or use the filling for Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies (p. 118), using additional strawberries to replace the rhubarb.
Variation Substitute a container of strawberry ice cream for the mousse to create an ice cream trifle.
Plan Ahead These trifles freeze beautifully (see introduction)! Move them into the fridge for a couple of hours before serving to allow them to soften a bit.
Recipes from Something Sweet by Miriam Pascal. Reproduced with permission from the copyright holders, ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications; http://artscroll.com/Products/SSWH.html
This is not a cake ball. It's not a truffle. It's a "shuffle".
What's a shuffle, exactly? Well, physically, it's sort of like a cake ball's cousin. It's not round, but rather, it's got a shape that is sort of somewhere between a peanut butter cup and a mini muffin.
Inside, rather than just crumbled cake, you'll find an adventure. Flavors include a chubby hubby inspired variety with caramel and a cookie bottom covered in chocolate, a tiramisu-inspired flavor including a white chocolate coating and spices (pictured above), and a chocolate lover's version with espresso and dark, dark chocolate.
So let me say: I'm obsessed with these things.
They started carrying one flavor at the local Santa Fe Whole Foods, and I basically bought them every day. I would buy extra and freeze them in case I found them sold out.
And then I went to Whole Foods in Dallas and realized I was being gypped in Santa Fe, because in Texas, they had not just one flavor but like six. I bought one of each, thankyouverymuch.
So yes, I love these things.
But why are they called shuffles? My theory was that it was some play on "truffle" but I couldn't imagine where the "sh" came from. So instead of theorizing further, I reached out to the company. Here's what Ben May at Austin Cake Ball had to say after I sent him an email asking about the availability of the shuffles and how they got their name:
"Hi Jessie, we do indeed make all the shuffles for Whole Foods and you can get them in any Whole Foods in the Southwest or Rocky Mountain states. The map for the regions is right here.
You will be getting more flavors at the Santa Fe store in the not too distant future. We came up with the name shuffle because they look like a shuffleboard puck, they are a neat “shuffle” of baking and confectionary disciplines, and they just make you do a little happy dance when you get to eat one."
Well, yes, they make me do a happy dance, so I liked that explanation.
Check them out if they're available to you! Austin Cake Ball also does mail order for their traditional cake balls, but I love these shuffles so much I don't know if I'll ever even quit them long enough to eat any of the regular cake balls.
Austin Cake Ball "shuffles"--available in "region 11" Whole Foods locations--map here.
Macaron vs. Macaroon: what's the dif?
Ice cream sundae cupcakes. TOOOOOOO CUUUUUUUTE.
DIY candy buttons. Amazing!
100% perfect dinner rolls. Easy to make, too.
Stand mixer recipes. Not just cakes!
FRIED PIES. Do you need more than those two words?
Tips for doubling or tripling recipes. Great reference!
An awesome (and easy!) carrot cake recipe.
Abstract watercolor techniques. Worth your time!
Easy acrylic painting ideas. Get painting!
Fall drawing ideas. Get inspired!
How to prep a canvas (and why it's important)!
How to draw paisley. Useful and sweet!
Brown sugar chocolate chip cookies. (Coco in the Kitchen)
Free coloring book page download: donut stop believin'! (CakeSpy)
Tips for doubling or tripling recipes. You're welcome! (CakeSpy for Craftsy)
Whole wheat harvest carrot muffins. Healthy, but I'd hit that. (Baking Bites)
Who wants CARROT CAKE? (CakeSpy for Craftsy)
Strawberry "brownies". Not actual brownies but so pretty and sweet. (Family Savvy)
Churro French toast ice cream sandwiches. Like, whoa. (Cafe Delights)
Love it: a page dedicated to foods associated with famous people. (The Food Timeline)
BEER brownies! Sounds interesting! (Deschutes Brewery)
Jack o lantern pumpkin hand pie. SO CUTE! (Bakers Royale)
Don't toss that sour milk! Great ideas to reduce kitchen waste. (NPR's The Salt)
How to store cupcakes. Useful! (Cupcake Project)
Watermelonade. Can it still be summer?? (Coconut & Lime)
Chocolate pasta (!!!) with warm and spicy strawberry sauce. (Chowhound)
Related: Lemon "brownies". Once again, not actual brownies but yum. (There's Always Thyme)
Book of the week: The Secret Lives of Baked Goods. Yes, the book I wrote. Because I was reading through it the other day and found myself thinking, "Damn, this is a great book. Why doesn't everyone on earth own it?". Make that happen, k?
Free coloring book page, for all ages! To download, click the photo below, or click here. It will direct you to Flickr; click the "download original size" and that should be the perfect size to print (let me know if not!).
Peanut butter blossoms.
You've definitely seen these cookies, even if you don't know them by that name. Well, they got that name because that is how they were entered in the 1957 Pillsbury Bake-Off. They weren't the winning recipe: that honor went to "accordion treats", a sort of tuile-like cookie, which took home nearly $50,000. But even though peanut butter blossoms didn't win big money wise, perhaps they were the true winner because they would go on to become a classic cookie. Everyone has seen or tried these cookies--when is the last time you picked up an accordion treat cookie, though?
I became re-acquainted with the blossoms when I dug up an old recipe book of my late grandma--a self published church cookbook from the 1980s. I love these kinds of books. And peanut butter blossoms have become an enduring classic partly because of their popularity at bake sales and in books like this.
Of course there was a recipe for peanut butter blossoms in this book. It was a fairly straightforward recipe, but I decided to veer off from tradition. The reason is that I needed some peanut butter cookies, but I was actually primarily using them to crumble for a most awesome cookie pie crust, so I didn't want the chocolate kisses included.
So I made the cookies, but...unblossomed.
Turns out, the peanut butter blossom sans blossom is still quite good. It's a solid cookie recipe, and the results taste like the peanut butter cookies you remember as a kid (or at least the ones I do).
It feels like maybe there's a life lesson in that: even if we're not fully "bloomed" in life, there can still be delicious stuff going on even if our life isn't in full blossom.
Ponder that one over a cookie, lets?
Peanut Butter Un-blossoms
Makes 24 or so cookies - Printable version here
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
If you want to blossom-ize them: 24 Hershey's kisses
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line or grease two baking sheets.
Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter, and salt until really nice and fluffy. Add in the milk, vanilla, and egg; stir it until everything is combined.
Add the flour, and mix gently until combined into a cohesive dough.
Portion out the dough into balls, about 1 inch in size. Place them on the baking sheets with a little space between. Use the tines of a fork to gently flatten the cookies by pressing once vertically and once horizontally, leaving a cross-hatch pattern. OR, if you must blossom these cookies, don't do the fork thing--simply press a hershey's kiss on top of each cookie.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Let cool on the sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.