Category Archives: Sweets

Votemeal Cookies

Today’s the day! If you’re reading this, take a break and go vote. If you’ve already voted, great! You may continue reading for a truly inspirational cookie recipe.

I’m presenting friends, family, coworkers, and you, dear reader, with these delicious oatmeal chocolate cookies to say thanks for voting. There are few things as important to the health of our nation, and few things can make you feel as much a part of the community. Even if you don’t consider yourself especially political, the simple act of casting a ballot renews your stake in the country. It’s the clearest way to say, yes, I am part of this community and my opinion matters.

It’s especially important to vote if you feel ignored or cheated by the government, if your values are under-represented, if you disagree with the laws being passed and the way those laws are enforced. This is a duty to the country, but it is also a duty to yourself. If you take part in choosing who represents you, then they are accountable to you. So thank you for voting, and making sure the people in office are the ones we choose.

This is my tried-and-true oatmeal cookie recipe, a combination of my favorite cookie characteristics. So these cookies are not dense and cakey, thin and crunchy, or soft and soggy – they’re crisp on the outside and soft inside with bursts of chocolate and cinnamon. I’m also including Ian’s recipe for spicy cinnamon glaze, which makes the cookies unforgettable.

Here’s hoping we’re about to start four years of responsible, accountable, trustworthy leadership. And delicious cookies, of course.

Votemeal Cookies

  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 325. Beat butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gently stir in flour until there are just a few white streaks, then mix in oats. Stir in chocolate chips. Form tablespoon-sized balls of dough on baking sheets, and bake 8-10 minutes, rotating trays halfway through. When completely cool, drizzle cookies with glaze. Serve to fellow voters, and make sure to eat two or three yourself to keep up your strength for the long night of poll-watching ahead. Makes 24 cookies, can be doubled and still fit comfortably in a KitchenAid.

Ian’s Cinnamon Cider Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbs apple cider

Stir all ingredients together until smooth. You may need a tiny bit more cider, so increase the liquid 1/2 tsp at a time. This is enough glaze for a judicious drizzle on each cookie, but if you want to slather your cookies, by all means, double the recipe.

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Cider Season

During an early fall picnic in Prospect Park, this honeybee was attracted by the first spiced cider of the season and fell into a cup. I scooped her out, and once dry she helped clean up the droplets left in the cup. She was not, however, much help with the crossword.

I share the bee’s enthusiasm for warm cider fragrant with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, though I have yet to tumble into a cup of it. (Maybe I just need to find bigger cups.) Once the weather cools down and the greenmarkets fill with apples, I start lugging home cider to mull, drink cold, and use in other recipes.

The credit for this recipe goes to Ian, who loves cider more than any person or bee I’ve met. I usually just toss everything into a pot and strain it out, but he’s devoted enough to tie whole spices in cheesecloth and carefully crush them to extract more flavor.

Mulled Cider

  • 1/2 gallon apple cider, non-pasteurized
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • Cheesecloth
  • Cotton twine

Cut a 6 inch square of cheesecloth, double thickness. Place all the spices in a ziploc bag and smash with a meat mallet, steel travel mug, or whatever you have handy. Transfer the spices to the center of the cheesecloth square, gather the corners, and tie with a piece of twine. Pour the cider into a large nonreactive pot and add the spice bundle. Bring almost to a boil over high heat, then when the cider steams, reduce heat to low and simmer at least 15 minutes. The spices will continue to infuse the cider the longer it sits. If you like, you can add a 2-inch strip of lemon rind (bright part only) to the spice bundle. Don’t add any additional sweetener, since the cider is sweet enough on its own.

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It takes two

Two people in search of dessert. Two ice cream add-ins. Two tries to get the custard right. Two spoons for digging in.

Ian and I were in the mood for ice cream this weekend, and as we walked through my neighborhood supermarket, we tried to think of what kind of ice cream we’d like to make. We were in the cookie aisle when he suggested cinnamon graham crackers. Of course, only the regular kind was in stock, so I suggested we make a quick batch of our own cinnamon grahams.

I’ve been eager to try this particular recipe for a while, especially since it’s been years since I last made graham crackers at home. I just needed a reason, and I think we can all agree that ice cream is one of the best reasons to do anything. The homemade graham crackers are really the star of the show, at least in my opinion, but it’s thanks to the supporting actors, spiced chocolate and turbinado custard, that they work so well. Graham crackers fresh from the oven and dusted with cinnamon sugar are so sensual a pleasure that it’s hard to believe they were invented to staunch unhealty carnal urges. But then, the Victorians were occasionally mistaken on other topics as well.

When we were planning the ice cream, we’d talked about chocolate and cookies, but I got so swept away by the idea of making those graham crackers that I forgot about the chocolate part of the plan until after we made the custard. Luckily, I have a stash of mysterious Valhrona cinnamon-chili chocolate balls, and they turned out to be the perfect match for this recipe. Any cinnamon spiced chocolate would be great here, though, or you could just use your favorite non-spiced chocolate and increase the cinnamon in the custard to 1/2 tsp and add a pinch of cayenne.

Spiced Chocolate Graham Cracker Crunch Ice Cream

  • 2 1/2 c milk
  • 4 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 c turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c chopped chocolate bits (I used cinnamon-chili dark chocolate balls from Valrhona)
  • 1c broken graham cracker bits (I made the Nancy Silverton recipe listed on 101 Cookbooks)

In a small sturdy pot, whisk the cornstarch and sugar together. Stir in 2c milk. Turn the heat to medium high until the mixture boils and foams, whisking all the while. Turn the heat to low and cook 1 minute to thicken and get rid of the raw cornstarch taste. Remove from heat and whisk in the cinnamon, vanilla, and remaining 1/2 c milk. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least 4 hours or until the custard is thoroughly chilled.

Pour the chilled custard into your ice cream maker. When it’s pretty much done churning, stir in the chocolate and graham cracker bits by hand. Plop into storage containers and freeze at least 2 hours to firm up before scooping.

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Nectarine Clafoutis

After emerging from a 3 hour meeting on Thursday, I wanted to relax with some baking, but still had lots of work to do. I just needed to do something that made me feel comfortable and competent, and had immediately visible results. Preferably delicious results to buoy the spirits and blood sugar of my exhausted coworkers.

So I tossed together a quick clafoutis with a few things likely to be in the office fridge at any given time: eggs, milk, fancy product samples, and my latest cache of greenmarket fruit. Of course, since there are no measuring cups or spoons in the office kitchen I had to estimate amounts and bake my clafoutis in a skillet instead of a pie plate or souffle dish, but that just attests to the flexibility and forgiving nature of this dessert. And it’s very quick to mix and bake, so I was able to get it in and out of the oven in well under an hour.

Now that I’m sure I can make it at work whenever need be, I feel a little better about all the late nights we’re about to pull in preparation for our biggest event of the year. After that, I’m going to take my nectarines home and bake them into coffee cakes and pies at a leisurely pace.


Nectarine Clafoutis (loosely adapted from a memory of Julia Child’s recipe)

  • 3 nectarines, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 c flour
  • 1/3 c sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • faint grating of nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs hazlenut oil
  • 1 c milk
  • 2 Tbs Saint-Germain elderflower liqueur

Preheat the oven to 375. Put the butter in a 10-inch skillet in the warming oven. Whisk 1/2 c sugar, flour, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Then whisk in the eggs. Take the skillet out of the oven and pour the butter into the egg mixture and whisk in along with the oil. Use a paper towel to rub the remaining melted butter over the bottom and sides of the skillet. Slowly pour the milk and liqueur into the batter, whisking all the while. Sprinkle a little sugar on the buttered pan. Pour about a quarter of the batter into the pan and bake about 5 minutes, just until set. This creates a base to keep the fruit from adhering to the bottom of the pan. Remove skillet from oven, and arrange the nectarine slices over the batter skin. Gently pour the remaining batter over the slices, re-arranging them if any float out of place. Bake 20 – 30 minutes, until center is set and edges are golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle with just enough sugar to make it sparkle. Serve warm or room temperature.

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Ice Cream Party

"it's an eating-too-much-ice-cream party and you're invited"

I’m back on the ice-cream making wagon again. It’s hot, I only want to eat frozen things (and raw vegetables sliced with my new knife), so this makes perfect sense. My only problem is deciding which ice creams and sorbets to make.

I took a short break from my creamy, cold obsession after the monster pictured above took up residence in my stomach. Kimball Farm is just down the road from Ian’s family home and we walked over for dessert one night during our brief visit to Carlisle, Massachusetts. Foolishly, I ordered a small coffee and cookies, which is about three scoops. Ian got the kiddie size chocolate peanut butter and it looked exactly as big as mine. But we were strong, and in the epic battle of man vs. ice cream, we emerged victorious. Yes, I ate all of that, and I didn’t share any with the cute farm animals, even though they were all named after ice cream flavors (by us, at least). The ice cream was great, of course, but the memory of the giant cup’s slow journey into my bloodstream was enough to make me cringe every time I heard the Mr. Softee chimes for two weeks.

I think I’m over it now. This weekend Ian & I were in the mood for a fresh, tart sorbet. He had the great idea to make a blackberry-lemon sorbet, so we churned up a batch. The flavors are great together, but since citrus zest is so powerful, the lemon overwhelmed the berry. I’m going to re-work this recipe and put it up later.

But in the meantime, all I can think about is what frozen treat I want to make next. Rose and mastic, Sour cherry, Chocolate with a peanut butter swirl, Smoky Spanish Almond,  Rosemary and lime sorbet, fresh blueberry sorbet, espresso granita…  I’m sure there’s a 12-step program for this.

What are some of your favorite flavors?

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Rhubarb, Repeated

It’s like I have a one-track mind in spring, and that track is laid with slender pinkish stalks and leads inevitably to the oven.  I’m talking about rhubarb, of course, and my favorite (easiest!) preparation, the oven-baked compote.  So last week at the greenmarket, I was compelled to buy yet another pound-plus of the crunchy, tart, plant.  I had all kinds of glorious plans, but by the time I got home, I only had energy to chop it and toss it with some sugar before collapsing.

When the compote was meltingly soft, about an hour later, it occurred to me that rhubarb would make a delicious, silky sorbet, what with all its pink and earthy flavor and high pectin content.  So I puréed the compote with a cup of Vigonier that had been wasting away in the fridge, and ran the resulting slush through my ice cream maker.

The sorbet was delicious.  Just sweet enough to balance the tartness of the rhubarb and the crisp wine.  Somehow the wine brought a note of spice and sophistication, and thanks to the long, slow cooking process, the rhubarb fibers melted into the gelatinous purée.  I’m already thinking of how to improve this recipe when I make it again (though there’s still a half-full quart container in my freezer).  I think I’d opt for less wine next time and maybe a few drops of rose water.  I meant to put that in this time, but forgot.  I think adding some berries to the rhubarb would also be nice, as would agave nectar instead of sugar or two tablespoons gin instead of the wine.  It’s a pity rhubarb season is so short and my freezer so small — otherwise, I’d make a variation on this sorbet at least once a week.

Rhubarb Sorbet

1 1/4 pounds rhubarb, washed, trimmed, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (or use a mixture of rhubarb and berries)

3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 c crisp, fruity white wine ( I used an Argentinian Vigonier, but a California Pinot Grigio or Provenςal Rosé would be nice, too)

2 tsp rose water (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a pyrex loaf pan, toss the rhubarb and sugar.  Bake about 1 hour, until the rhubarb falls apart when stirred. Cool to room temperature.

Purée the rhubarb with a food processor or immersion blender and add the wine and rose water gradually.  Chill the mixture overnight, then run through ice cream maker.

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Caramel Coulant

I haven’t posted in over a week, as I’ve barely been able to cook anything more interesting than oatmeal. Yes, I have so-called reasons: I’m at work most of the day and trying to see my friends in the evening, and there was that appetite-negating heat wave. But it’s all just an elaborate excuse for not sticking to my guns. Oh, for shame!

The worst of it is, I’ve been neglecting this recipe for The Wednesday Chef‘s role-reversal project. I’ve had the Caramel Coulant recipe in hand almost a month without doing so much as buying a half-pint of cream. I finally made it a few days ago and took some pictures, and I’m glad to have at least one recipe checked off the infinite to-do list.

Thanks to Luisa for implementing this Freaky Friday-esque scheme. Swing by her site for full disclosure!

And just for posterity, here’s the recipe.

Caramel Coulant
For the caramel sauce:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 ½ tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup milk

For the coulant:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch of fleur de sel
  • ¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the sugar and ¼ cup water in a pot. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and deglaze with the cream, standing back to avoid bubbling caramel. Add the butter and milk. (It will bubble again.) Stir until well incorporated. Let cool. (The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated.)
2. Spray 5, 4-ounce ramekins with cooking spray; cover the inside of the ramekin with sugar and remove excess. Place on a sheet pan.
3. Make the coulant by warming 1/3 cup caramel sauce in a medium saucepan; then stir in the butter and fleur de sel. Off the heat, stir in the sugar, then flour, then eggs, adding the next just after the prior has been combined. Pour the mixture two-thirds of the way into each ramekin. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, turning the sheet pan halfway through, until the shell is cakelike but the center is flowing. Let cool. When ready to serve, rewarm the cakes in the ramekins for a few minutes. Place a serving plate over the ramekin and flip it to release the coulant. Serve with salted caramel ice cream.

Serves 5. Adapted from Nicole Kaplan at Eleven Madison Park, New York.

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