I should not have attempted this recipe–it's dangerous…dangerously good. The last thing me–or my health or my waistline–needed were quick access to amazing homemade 'smores. But a part of me always wanted to attempt to make graham crackers, just to see if it was doable. I never cook with butter–and hardly ever bake with it–so I relished the challenge of making such a uniquely textured cookie butter-free. Turns out it was more than possible. The dough was easy to work with and the end-product was tasty, soft, and perfect to layer with ooey-gooey chocolate and marshmallows.
1 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp salt
5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup or molasses
1/4 cup oil
2 tbsp water
1. Combine dry ingredients. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then mix together.
2. Form dough into a ball, place on a piece of wax paper, then place another sheet on top and use a rolling pin to flatten.
3. Cut into rectangles, place on an ungreased cookie sheet, and pierce to form decorative holes. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, careful to avoid overcooking
One night as I was making a few Lebanese-inspired dishes for dinner (these meat pies included), I decided to surprise everyone with a matching dessert. The flavor combination in these cookies seemed like absolute perfection–and I was right. The pistachios, lime, and cardamom come together in a bright, unique (and not to mention colorful) way. The crisp finished cookie is both sugary and savory and probably unlike any you've tasted before. In a word: yum.
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3/4 cups sugar
½ cup canola oil
3 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. rosewater (optional)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
¼ cup cornstarch
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
½ cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line trays with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, milk, rosewater (if using), vanilla, lime juice, and zest. Add the cornstarch and whisk until dissolved. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. Mix well.
3. Roll dough into balls about 2 teaspoons in size and drop into chopped pistachios. Press down until the dough flattens and the nuts collect on the bottom.
4. Place the cookies, nut side up, about 2 inches apart on the lined trays. Bake for 13 minutes (cookies will be soft but will firm up as they cool). Remove from the oven and let cool on the trays for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before serving.
As I've said before, a dessert without chocolate (almost) isn't worth the calories to me. Of course truth be told there are many treats that sneak in past this rule. Biscotti regina, or "queen cookies," are one of them. Simple but flavorful thanks to their coating of nutty sesame seeds, these crisp oblong confections are a perfect light snack. Tradition holds that the "queen" in the name is Margherita di Savoia, the second regent of a united Italy who was well-known for her love of sweets–and no, I don't think we're related.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tablespoons of baking powder
1.5 teaspoons salt
1 cup sugar
3 extra large eggs
3/4 cup olive oil
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.5 teaspoons orange juice
sesame seeds, for coating
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine flour, powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, juice and extract.
2. Add the egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until a smooth dough forms (it will be crumbly and slightly oily).
3. Form the dough into small ovals about one inch in diameter. Roll the top and sides of each cookie in sesame seeds. Place one inch apart on baking sheets and bake 25 minutes or until golden and just firm.
I've made coconut macaroons a few times before–they're pretty simple and practically fool-proof–but although they're tasty, something about them always seemed too candy-like to pass for a cookie (think a "Mounds" or "Almond Joy" bar). These not-too-sweet treats on the other hand don't suffer from any identity problems: chewy and full of flavor, shredded coconut is mixed with flour to ensure that the end result feels, looks, and tastes like a cookie. I highly recommend the chocolate drizzle–it really complements all the other ingredients.
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2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
scant 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, for rolling
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place coconut in a food processor along with cinnamon, salt and baking powder; process until finely ground. Add flour and process again.
3. Combine wet ingredients and sugar, beat well.
4. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix (do not overmix: dough should be slightly crumbly). Shape the dough into 1/2 inch balls and roll balls to coat with coconut.
5. Bake about 10 minutes on a lightly greased cookie sheet (do not brown).
6. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Drizzle cookies with melted chocolate if desired.
p.s. Congrats to Cindy…she's been selected as the winner of the Sven Clogs givaway. Disappointed? Don't be! Check back soon because there will another amazing giveaway coming up! x
¾ cup honey
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup blanched almonds, toasted
½ cup blanched hazelnuts, toasted
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 ½ cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 tablespoons hot water
1. Heat honey and brown sugar in small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture is thin. Remove from heat and cool until just warm, about 10 minutes.
2. In food processor, finely grind almonds and hazelnuts with 2 tablespoons of flour.
3. In medium bowl, sift remaining flour with baking soda, spices, and salt. Stir in ground nuts and set aside.
4. Beat eggs on medium speed for several minutes until light colored and thick. Add cooled honey mixture and mix until combined. Add flour mixture and mix until combined (dough will be very stiff and sticky). Add zests and mix just until incorporated. Cover dough and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a medium (1 ¾ –inch) cookie scoop, drop dough onto cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown.
6. Remove cookie sheets from oven and immediately transfer baked cookies to a cookie rack. Prepare glaze by mixing all ingredients. Use an offset spatula to spread glaze over top of each cookie. Let stand until completely cool and the icing is set, about 1 hour.
If you happened to follow my Instagram posts last week, you'd have seen my Christmas cookie dish fill up with the twelve different treats I made this year. It's hard to pick a favorite from the bunch especially since there's a mix of old favorites and new ones represented. Of course I'll always have a special place in my heart (and stomach) for the cookies that my family has made since I was a child–like these yummy lemon knots. An Italian bakery staple, the soft cookies themselves are more about texture than flavor–their characteristic burst of a sugary lemon taste comes from their glaze and not the dough. I rarely uses sprinkles when I bake but the multi-color nonpareils that top these little knots are a tradition I'd never break.
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Ingredients, for the cookies:
4 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 eggs lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Sift dry ingredients (four, baking powder and salt) into a large bowl.
2. Blend in beaten eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla.
3. Mix and knead dough by hand until soft and smooth (make sure you flour your surface before kneading).
4. Break off pieces of dough about the size of a small unshelled walnut. Roll each piece of dough by hand on a floured board into a rope about 6 to 7 inches long. Tie each dough rope into a knot.
5. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for about 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack and then glaze.
Ingredients, for the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tsp. lemon juice, or to taste
1. Add powdered sugar and 1 tsp lemon juice to a bowl. Mix well.
2. Using a whisk add remaining lemon juice 1 tsp. at a time to the powdered sugar. The consistency should be a bit thin to glaze properly. Either drizzle glaze or gently toss cookies completely in the glaze to coat from top to bottom to sides.
3. Place on wire rack with a cookie sheet or newspaper under it to catch drippings. Set out until glaze sets. To store put in an airtight container with wax paper or parchment paper in between in layer and leave in the fridge.
When it comes to making amaretti cookies, there always seems to be debate. Should you use whole nuts or almond paste? Is adding almond extract or almond-flavored liquor necessary? Will the end result be chewy or crispy? Most agree on one thing though: the Italian macaroons always are bursting with flavor. This version definitely delivers in that department: chewy, textured and light, the recipe sticks to the basics of ground nuts, sugar, and separated eggs. Interestingly, a fun little legend is associated with the dessert: when a bishop surprised the Italian town of Saronno with a visit, two residents quickly decided to make a welcoming sweet treat with their limited ingredients. The "amaretto" was born–and the couple received a blessing for a long, happy marriage in return.
3 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/3 cup caster (superfine granules) sugar
1.1 pounds blanched almonds, very finely ground in a food processor
Confectioners’ sugar, for rolling
1. In a large bowl, using a whisk beat the egg yolks. Gradually add sugar, whisking until well combined. Add the almond flour; whisk to just combine (do not over mix).
2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to barely a soft peak (do not over beat).
3. Using a large flexible spatula, fold one-third of the egg whites into the almond mixture (this will loosen the almond mixture). Fold in remaining egg whites just to combine (do not over mix). Cover and refrigerate amaretti batter for at least one hour.
4. Preheat oven to 325° F. Line trays with parchment paper, set-aside. Roll amaretti dough into ½-ounce balls, coat in confectioners’ sugar, and place on baking sheet (do not flatten cookies). Chill dough in between baking times to prevent cookies from spreading in the oven.
7. Bake until lightly golden, about 25 minutes.
[fresh picked blueberries]
[gerber daisy floating centerpieces]
[my purple rain boots (Original Hunter Wellington Rain Boot in Aubergine, Hunter Boots - $135, available here)]
[a seed pod from a faded flower]
[a batch of these sea salt chocolate chip cookies ready for the oven]
I'm not yet fully in fall mode, but tomorrow marks the official end of summer and the beginning of autumn. I've already unearthed my rain boots from my closet (I must say I did not miss them), switched to favoring deeper colors like the oranges and reds of changing leaves (captured perfectly by those beautifully simple floating flowers), and started manically baking like I need the heat from the oven to stay warm (on some nights I do). I'll miss summer–it was a good one–but I'm ready for the changes a new season brings.
What do you think? Are you looking forward to fall?
I would be lying if I said I had a favorite dessert–there are just too many that I love for me to pick only one. However chocolate is definitely the ingredient that unites them all so these rich little cookies easily earn a top spot. If you've never tried so-called "crinkle cookies" you're in for a treat. Not only are they delicious, they are a lot of fun to bake: they start out small, puff up in the oven to crack their powderd-sugary coating, and stay perfectly chewy for days.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
3 tablespoons of canola oil
3 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup confectioners sugar
1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. Melt chocolate with oil in a medium pan over low heat, stirring until smooth.
3. Remove from heat and stir in eggs, granulated sugar, and almond extract.
4. Stir in flour mixture, then stir in almonds. Chill covered until firm, about 2 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 350 F. Sift confectioners sugar onto a plate. Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls and roll balls as formed in confectioners sugar to generously coat.
6. Arrange balls 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until puffed and cracked but centers are still a bit soft, 10 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to racks to cool.
[blue skies + tall grasses]
[colorful mixed drink garnishes]
[2013 new york edition 6" diary in purple 'brights' leather, courtesy of graphic image and gigi new york - $34, available here]
[an old-fashioned glass water bottle during a late afternoon lunch]
[party favor starfish-shaped sugar cookies]
I always think summer can't fade away all that quickly but in New York by the beginning of September that's exactly what happens. Temperatures may stay warm but they somehow lack any intense heat, the air gets crisper and sunlight not as sharp, and schedules get increasingly less carefree and more cluttered. These pre-fall days still have their own beauty–I'm a sucker for a perfect sky, subdued colors, and little things that remind me of what's just passed (like seashore-themed baked treats). I'm looking forward to autumn–and eventually filling that 2013 diary.
P.S. The people behind Graphic Image couldn't be anymore sweet: not only did they stamp my initials into the cover of my date book (in my favorite color no less), they sent their 'New York edition' complete with city maps and guides. I'll be organized, prepared, and chic in the New Year.