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Entries in cookbooks (13)

Wednesday
Jun082011

Street Eats: Chocolate Pudding and Cookies Recipe from Food Trucks by Heather Shouse

Image credit: sugarcave.com

Street food is one of the most exciting emerging sectors of the foodie landscape, creating impromptu dining experiences made possible by following trucks on Twitter or Facebook to find out where they are, and then lining up on the street to get some of the (often unique) food being served up.

It was only a matter of time before a book came out dedicated to the subject, and Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels is a fun and timely ode to The New Street Food. It is full of stories and recipes, mostly savory, but a small handful of sweet ones.

The one that I zeroed in on, though? Yellow Submarine in Miami, Florida--because they had the most compelling dessert recipe, for Chocolate Pudding and Cookies. It's sort of like my favorite Banana Nilla Wafer pudding, but with chocolate pudding and no bananas.

Angela's Chocolate Pudding and Cookies

8-12 servings

  • 2 boxes (3.5 oz) chocolate pudding (cook and serve)
  • 4 cups cold milk
  • 1 can Nestle table cream
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 2 (3.15 oz) packages Goya Maria cookies (mexican butter cookies) 
  1. Make the pudding according the package instructions. Let the pudding rest for 2-3 minutes, then add the table cream and condensed milk, mixing very well.
  2. Into a large, round glass bowl, pour enough of the chocolate mixture to cover the bottom of the container. Add a layer of the Maria cookies, then top with a layer of the pudding; repeat until the cookies and chocolate mixture are used up. Let the treat rest in the fridge for 2 hours, then spoon out on to plates and serve.

 

Tuesday
Dec072010

Tate's-Off: A Tasteoff Featuring Homemade Vs. Purchased Tate's Chocolate Chip Cookies

For your consideration: Tate's Bake Shop, in Southhampton, NY. As their website invites, 

If you're in the Hamptons and walk around the charming little Atlantic coast town of Southampton, you'll see a celadon green Victorian structure with white shutters, framed in flowers, that seems to attract people like bees to a hive. It's Tate's Bake Shop, the fairytale culmination of a dream that got started when 11-year-old Kathleen King began baking cookies to sell at her family's farm stand not far out of town.

Sounds pretty idyllic, huh? But wait, there's more: in addition to having a full-fledged retail store, retail mail order business and wholesale division, they also have a cookbook, released a couple of years ago: Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton's Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads

And even more recently, they sent me a parcel of samples, containing aforementioned cookbook, as well as a variety of mail-order cookies (in three flavors: macadamia, oatmeal raisin, and their bestselling item, chocolate chip cookies). Now, of course I am thankful for these goodies--I mean, who doesn't love free stuff? But at the same time, every time I receive something like this, the mischievous side of me can't help but cry out to be heard.

And so I decided to put these cookies to the test by doing a taste-off: Tate's Versus Tate's. I made a batch of their bestselling item--the chocolate chip cookies--and then my friend Danny and I did a taste-test of the mail-order version versus the homemade version. Which would win?

Now, I realize that I probably had the home-team advantage here: my cookies would be slightly fresher, warmer, and we both would have known that someone superbly cute had made them. So to level the playing field, I did make sure to fully cool the cookies before serving, and then to lightly warm both specimens on the still-warm oven before serving. The results?

Appearance:

Tate's Mail Order: More perfectly formed than the homemade version, and the chocolate chips must have been different, because they were slightly flatter in this version.

Tate's Homemade: Slightly irregular, but not displeasing in appearance. Also the centers were slightly lighter, probably because if anything I err toward slight underbaking.

Texture:

Tate's Mail Order: Very crunchy--crackery, even.

Tate's Homemade: Crunchy on the outside and mostly through, but lightly chewy in the center even when cooled.

Taste:

Tate's Mail Order: Dry, but not stale--still very buttery, and redolent of brown sugar and deep chocolate flavor.

Tate's Homemade: More moist, even when cooled and crunchy. Pleasingly salty, and although they used less chocolate than the original recipe, they still tasted like they had more chocolate chips. Perhaps uneven distribution? Or perhaps the fact that although they had cooled, they still retained that chocolatey glow of taste from the oven permeations?

All said and done: While it was clear that these were variations of the same cookie, the homemade version definitely won. Obviously, even though I tried to level the playing field, one thing holds true: just-baked cookies always win. There's a certain something that comes from home baking that can't be beat. Nonetheless, I feel as if it might have been a slightly different outcome had we just scored the Tate's mail-order ones on the same day they had been baked.

Final word: Unless you're in the tri-state area and can go to the source, buy the book and make 'em yourself.

Tate's Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (I used Rodelle--they recently sent me some as a sample and I am very impressed!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpat.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Add the water and vanilla. Mix the ingredients just until combined.
  4. Add the eggs and mix them lightly. Stir in the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. Don't overmix the dough.
  5. Drop the cookies 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets using two tablespoons or an ice cream scoop.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges and centers are brown. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
Wednesday
Dec012010

Batter Chatter: Interview with Alice Medrich, Author of Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy

I'll tell you the truth: I don't get starstruck easily. Oh, Brad Pitt's walking by? "He's shorter than I thought" will probably be my reaction (no offense, Angie).

However, it's a different story entirely when I encounter an expert baker and all-around kitchen hero like Alice Medrich. I kind of swoon. Like, OMG! Owner of Cocolat, a dessert shop in San Francisco! She worked at Chez Panisse! She's written 7 cookbooks! And it gets even more exciting with the prospect of actually hanging out with her tomorrow, at a fancy Cookies and Cocktails cookie swap at Cupcake Royale, hosted by Kim Ricketts book events!  Luckily, I kept my cool for long enough to pick her brain about her newest book, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies (officially a big deal as one of my top picks of 2010)--here's what I learned:

CakeSpy: I am making the black bottom pecan praline bars for your upcoming event with Kim Ricketts book events in Seattle. Not that it's a competition, but I really want mine to disappear first--any tips?

Alice Medrich, photographed by Dave LauridsenAlice Medrich: Yes, I think you might do well with Scharffen Berger chocolate. 

CS: Hey! I was reading through your book acknowledgments and noticed one of your recipe testers was Jenny Richards. Is that my beloved Jenny, from Seattle?

AM: Yes! I gave her some things I especially wanted to be reviewed.

CS: Soooo....for you, is it chewy, gooey crispy or crunchy?

AM: I love, love, love crispy. But I am also a chocolate lover, so I love the gooey brownies too. And I love crunchy.

CS: What is the difference between crispy and crunchy?

AM: There is a fine line between crispy and crunchy--it was a little tricky to draw it for for the book, but I tried. For me, crispy is thin and makes a certain type of high pitched cracking sound when you bite into it. And crunchy is thick, and it's noisy, but the sound is a lower tone. I consider biscotti to be crunchy, and little thin tuiles, for example, to be crispy.

CS: What do cookies mean to you?

AM: Little flavorful sweet bites that because they're small you're tempted to eat more than one, two, three...

CS: Why do this type of cookbook, and why now?

AM: The reason for doing this book was to create a collection for our current times, which means a collection of cookies that have all the classics we gravitate to--the brownies, the chocolate chip cookies, the snickerdoodles--but that also has some new and modern flavors as well as variations of those cookies, with an emphasis on flavor.

I've also felt for a long time that cookies have been left behind. We're doing all of these exciting things with food--salt is being used in new ways, and herbs and spices, not so much in a fusion way but with a sense of adventure. And so I did want to bring a sense of adventure to cookies--you'll see cookies with exotic herbs and spices, or with salt and pepper, or with options to experiment. An example is the meneina, which I discovered via a Facebook friend. I found it so fragrant and yummy, and it was a lot of fun to develop; also the carrot masala macaroons, which I invented, which were very fun. It takes very little effort to make a cookie into an adventure.

CS: You've had a flour re-awakening, in a few ways. You've switched from bleached to unbleached flour, as well as started to experiment with gluten-free baking. Tell me more. 

AM: I did switch over to unbleached flour, because I believe it's a better ingredient, a purer ingredient and flavor and aroma from the oven. I loved working on the gluten free part too, which was great fun because it's fun to experiment with new ingredients. I didn't want to work with preconceived notions, so I went into the kitchen and tried to come to my own conclusions with what worked.

CS: Your book has a lot of cookies what include grains, or are low-fat, or gluten-free. How do you get your tasters to get over the "healthy cookie" stigma?

AM: I love that question. When I do something that is supposedly "healthy"--whether it's low fat or gluten-free or or whether it's got whole grains, my first concern is "does it taste delicious?". I'm not looking for "pretty good for gluten-free, or low-fat, etc." And it should be delicious enough for you to serve without qualification. In other words, If I make gluten-free cookies and serve them, I will say nothing--unless of course it is of dietary importance to a guest. I may tell them afterward. 

CS: What quality you detest in a cookie?

AM: In a gluten-free cookie, the taste of raw starch; overdone sweetness and fat in others. It has to go together to make it worth my eating. I don't want to eat sugar and fat calories that don't taste good. For me, a cookie shouldn't be primarily sweet--of course it will be sweet, but it should have a flavor that comes forward.

CS: Tell me about some of the recipes that were particularly interesting to develop in the book.

AM: One of the areas I had a lot of fun with in the book is I found a new way of adding flavor to macaroons; I tried peanut butter, and freeze-dried bananas, and they were incredible. It is interesting--you have to have a light hand with the folding, and it does affect hte texture of the meringue, but it makes it more melt-in-your-mouth, and it's just a whole different way with meringues. And they're also naturally gluten-free, so it's great for people who aren't eating wheat.

CS: If you could give the bakers of America one piece of advice, what would it be?

AM: Get comfortable with measuring by weights--not digging the baking cup in the flour canister to measure. People's measurements are far more varied than you'd think. Get a kitchen scale. They require fewer utensils, less cleanup. I think we would get more consistent results from anything that is baked that has flour--they take away the guesswork about measuring flour correctly--and ultimately we would end up with far better quality.

CS: Tell me about an amazing cookie experience--one of pure pleasure.

AM: . It happened a while back, and I wrote about it in my last book--the spice-dusted brownies. It was a day when I had brownies in the oven, and while they were baking I was working on another recipe where I was grating nutmeg on a microplane zester. Then the brownies were done, and I took them out and across the room, I started smelling the brownies, and I went to taste a tiny corner with nutmeg all over my fingers, and I got a sort of nose of fragrant nutmeg, and then this pure hit of bitterswet chocolate, and it made me realize  that what I wanted to do was serve those brownies with that grated nutmeg just beforeso that they could have that same experience. That layered spicy aroma and the pure chocolate, and you still have the nutmeg in your nose a little biut, but you have that lasting tasting of chocolate in your mouth. And it's different than adding the nutmeg in the brownie--it deconstructs the experience. I do the same with cinnamon. It makes it a full sensory experience.

Oh, baby. With that sensuous story of delicious brownies, I'm signing out and getting into the kitchen to bake! You can buy her book here , and if you're in Seattle, you might still be able to snag a ticket to the event if you're lucky: find out more here.

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