Category Archives: Cookies

Midweek Romance: Whole Wheat Rosewater Cookies

April 2014

The attentive barista placed two cold-brew coffees in front of the customer, whose mix of jet black and bright pink hair contrasted sharply with the minimalist aesthetic of the space.

“These are actually both for me,” she said, demanding shock. “This night job is killllling me.”

“Oh wow!” the barista complied. “What’s your night job?”

“Stripping.”

There was nothing but a solid, conclusive period on the end of that statement. No joke. Without hesitation or judgment, the very attentive barista replied, “that is a really tough job!”

“It is! The other night I fell off the pole!”

Rosweater Cookies and Florals

Flowers by Thommy Conroy.

Maybe you fell off a stripper pole earlier this week. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you’re looking for a picker upper after a tough night on the job. Maybe you’re seeking just a little note of romance, how about a simple, delicate cookie to get you past the hump day?

Rosewater Hearts

These buttery hearts have a hint of refreshing rose in each bite. Eat them simply, or pair them with a smearing of jam, a drizzle of honey, a dunking’s worth of melted chocolate, a dollop of rosewater whipped cream (recipe below), a dusting of powdered sugar or with two cold-brew coffees. The possibilities, much like a pole routine [I imagine?], are pretty endless.

Whole Wheat Rosewater Cookies

Ingredients

1-3/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
2 Tablespoons organic cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) organic unsalted butter softened
1/3 cup organic confectioners’ sugar

3 Tablespoons rose water

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat butter and confectioner’s sugar with an electric mixer on medium high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add rose water, and mix until combined scraping down side of bowl.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture; mix until just combined.

Divide dough in half, and shape into disks. Wrap each in plastic, and chill 1 hours.

On parchment, roll 1 disk of dough to 1/8-inch thickness; chill 15 minutes.

Cut 1-1/2 inch rounds (or hearts) from dough, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining disk.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until barely golden, about 14 minutes.

Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

Single-Grain

Rosewater Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons rosewater

Directions

Chill the cream in a mixing bowl in the freezer until the cream just starts to freeze. Remove from the freezer. Add the vanilla and honey.

Use a mixer, on medium speed, to beat until peaks begin to form.

Add the rosewater, and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Single-Grain

May Your Week Be Filled With Romance!
-Quelcy

Chocolate Sables with Pistachios & Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

January 2014

Trudging. Shuffling. Slipping. Trekking.

These are synonyms for walking in Pittsburgh in the winter. Though I am still managing to appreciate the pristine effects of the snowfalls this year, I do lament the many pairs of boots and shoes that sit idly while my Sorels steal the show [best investment ever!]. If it weren’t for my playful pup, who powders her nose like a model in an L.A. party scene, I might be singing a different tune (in the tone of a snow-stained, teary, emotional breakdown).

Chocolate Sables

If your hibernation needs a little inspiration, there’s nothing quite like piling on the blankets, firing up the projector, binging on guilty pleasures and dipping a little salty, chocolaty cookie into a mug of rich hot cocoa.

Chocolate Sables Pair

Sablés, as these biscuit cookies are called, come from the French word for sandy, perhaps as a nod to their crumbly consistency. Whatever their etymological origin, may these cookies help you to endure the longest stretch of winter, and if need be, may they mentally transport you far, far away to warmer places, brighter skies and sand between your toes.

Chocolate & Pistachio Sables
adapted from Bon Appétit
makes ~8 dozen cookies

Ingredients 

2 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) organic, unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups (lightly packed) organic, dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large, organic egg white

5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted, shelled raw pistachios, coarsely chopped

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Directions

Whisk flour, cocoa powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients; mix just to combine, then mix in egg white.

Fold in chocolate and pistachios.

Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8”-long log about 1½” in diameter, pushing dough together if it feels crumbly. Wrap tightly in parchment paper and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (The colder the dough, the easier it will be to slice.)

Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°.

Working with 1 log of dough at a time and using a serrated knife, cut logs into ¼”-thick rounds and transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing ½” apart.

Sprinkle cookies with sea salt and bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until set around edges and centers look dry, 10–12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool.

Do Ahead: Cookie dough can be made 1 month ahead; freeze instead of chilling. Slice frozen logs into rounds just before baking.

Single-Grain

Bon Appétit!
-Quelcy

Coconut, Pistachio & Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

January 2014

I have a guilty pleasure, and it starts with, “And who am I? That’s one secret I’ll never tell … You know you love me. XOXO, Gossip Girl.” I fought it at first. One episode into the dramatic lives of New York’s Upper Eastsiders, and I swore I had had enough. I fought it hard, but my inner gossip won. Multiple episode binges later, I’m sitting at the hairstylist’s divulging my love of Chuck Bass’s bravado, Dorota’s devotion, the brevity of “S” and “B,” and for the love of all that is sacred- those dresses and parties!!! Gossip Girl had clearly cemented itself as a guilty pleasure.

Oatmeal-Cookies

However, in that same hairstylist’s chair, I rattled off the laundry list of justifications for watching a show which quickly escalates into a teen soap opera with better lighting and locations.

1. Living vicariously stretches the imagination.
2. The show references a lot of high culture from art, to fashion, to music.
3. I dig the music featured in the show.
4. I now know what Louboutins are. Though clearly behind the curve, that acquired knowledge seems like a rite of passage. Now if only I owned a pair.
5. The actors’ names alone are quite elegant- Penn Badgley, Leighton Meester. I find different names interesting and inspiring in their own right.

If you’re going to have a guilty pleasure, might as well find a way [or five] to justify it, right?

Oatmeal and Chocolate Chunk

Tucked nicely in my collection of guilty pleasures is my belief that each day should hold a sweet indulgence. To be fair, I was reared on daily dessert offerings, and my bones were fortified with ice cream in addition to garden fresh veggies. Instilled though it was, this belief in sweets leads to its own set of justifications.

Chocolate Chunks

If I’m going to eat sweets, I might as well make them more than sweet nothings. Whole grains and oats blur the line between dessert cookie and wholesome granola bar, but chunks of chocolate satisfy the desire for a sweet indulgence.

Oatmeal Cookies Stacked

The slightly misguided moral of this blog post? Go ahead and justify your guilty pleasures.

Coconut, Pistachio & Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) + 6 Tablespoons organic, unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup organic evaporated cane sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed organic brown sugar

2 organic eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, optional

3 cups organic rolled oats
1 cup organic semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1/2 cup roasted pistachios
1 cup unsweetened, coconut flakes

Directions 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two cookie sheets and set aside.

Beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar together on medium speed until smooth and creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, then add to the butter mixture and beat until combined.

Stir in oats, chocolate chips, pistachios and coconut.

Scoop dough into rounded tablespoons and place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until done (crisper edges and gooey centers)

Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Single-Grain

Bon Appétit!
-Quelcy

Chocolate Gingerbread Twigs

January 2013

I am a January baby, so snow is part of my story. When the flurries falls fluffily, all white and pristine, I am happy to watch from my window. Ideally, I remain huddled under blankets with my warm, little puppy, who curls into the most cuddly of wheels. When the time comes to venture into the snowflakes, winter boots, a puffy coat and puppy antics are my physical and mental shields against Pittsburgh’s long winter.

Gingerbread Bark Cookies

When it came to baking gingerbread this year, I couldn’t resist Martha Stewart’s extra white-chocolate steps. Whether they mimic birch branches or snow laden boughs, these wintry treats offer another opportunity to appreciate the beauty of winter, and their taste is addicting too!

Chocolate Gingerbread Bark

Chocolate Gingerbread Twigs
adapted from Martha Stewart

Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Yield: ~80 cookies

Ingredients

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

3 cups white whole-wheat flour, plus more for rolling
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 stick organic, unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed organic, dark-brown sugar

1 large organic egg
1/3 cup molasses

4 ounces white chocolate, chopped

Directions

Melt bittersweet chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth; remove from heat.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes.

Add egg and molasses and beat until smooth.

Beat in bittersweet chocolate, then flour mixture, until combined.

Divide dough in half; form each half into a rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate until firm but still pliable, about 30 minutes.

Dough can be made 3 days ahead and stored in refrigerator, or frozen up to 1 month.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out each piece of dough to a rectangle 1/8-inch thick, with 1 side roughly 12 inches long, on a lightly floured piece of parchment.

Transfer rectangles on parchment to baking sheets and refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes.

Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut into 1/4-to-1/2-inch-wide irregular strips, each about 12 inches long.

Separate strips on parchment-lined baking sheets and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

Bake until slightly darker around edges, about 12 minutes. Let twigs cool completely on baking sheets.

Melt white chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth.

Paint chocolate along length of each twig with a pastry brush to create a faux-bois look. Refrigerate until chocolate sets, about 15 minutes. Twigs can be made 3 days ahead and stored in a cool place.

Single-Grain

Bon Appétit!
-Quelcy

Double Chocolate Cookies with Orange, Cranberry & Hazelnuts

December 2013

Brown bags became a covering for the wooden kitchen table. Once the cookies had cooled sufficiently on a rack, my mom would transfer them to the paper. I can still see the circular imprints from the buttery bottoms. She’d cover that impressively long wooden table with cookies and fill the house with their fresh-baked scent. I would do my part to eat them while they were still warm, soft and gooey. From my little step-stool, my mom’s massive cookie endeavors always seemed effortless.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

This year, I holed away and made cookies for hours upon hours for a Harvest & Gather winter market. Though I covered my long dining room table with cookies, the word to describe my endeavor was “frenzy.” One element from my cookie memories remained the same though. I still took time to eat these double chocolate cookies while they were warm, soft and gooey.

Double Chocolate, Orange, Cranberry & Hazelnut Cookies
makes ~4 dozen

Ingredients

2 cups white whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup pure cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup organic, unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup organic pure cane sugar
2/3 cup organic brown sugar

2 large organic eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon orange zest

3/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup chocolate chunks (pref. dark chocolate chips)
1/2 cup hazelnuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together melted butter and sugars.

Mix in the eggs, stirring them in one at a time, then add the vanilla and orange zest.

With the mixer on low or working by hand, stir in the flour mixture, mixing until no streaks of flour remain.

Stir in dried cranberries, chocolate chunks and hazelnuts.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet (dough balls were a bit larger than 1 inch in diameter). Leave about 2 to 3-inches between cookies to allow for spread.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, until cookies are set at the edges and tops are slightly cracked looking. Cool on baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack.

Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Single-Grain

Bon appétit!
-Quelcy

Joyeux Noel & Season’s Eatings!

December 2013

With my little co-pilot by my side, I ventured east, where I’m spending more time sitting at the table than hustling in the kitchen. Whether you’re baking or relaxing, here’s wishing a joyous day to you and yours filled with lovely delicacies, hearty laughter and brisk winter walks with your four-legged companions.

Joyeux Noel

Seasons Eatings

*These photos were part of a Christmas card shot by photographer Adam Milliron and styled by me. 

Double Chocolate Cookies with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

August 2013

I consider myself a pretty empathetic person. I “occasionally” cry during movies (shhh…don’t tell). I understand why my sister is losing it as she prepares to send her baby to college. I listen understandingly to looming life questions from friends.

Salted Chocolate Cookies

However, when someone stares at an almond croissant, from an authentic French bakery and tells me, “Meh, I’m just not that into sweets. I’d rather have a bagel,” I am at an utter loss. A COMPLETE & UTTER LOSS.

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

When said person has a potluck to celebrate his new abode, my response is to put some salt on something sweet. The result is a beautiful, pink accented, middle ground?

Salty Cookie Stack

Double Dark Chocolate Cookies with Sea Salt
makes 24 large cookies

Ingredients

6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
8 Tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup pure cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup pure cane sugar
2 large, organic eggs

Pink Himalayan sea salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F and line a baking stone (or cookie sheet) with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt chocolate chips and butter, stirring until smooth. Let cool 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Stir sugar and eggs into the chocolate mixture until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate, mixing until fully combined.

Use a Tablespoon to scoop dough and place on cookie sheet, leaving room for spreading. Sprinkle lightly with pink Himalayan sea salt.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until center is set. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling tray. Sprinkle with additional salt if need be.

Serve warm or store in an airtight container for up to a week.

I Love You Like You Love Sushi (Sushi Inspired Macaroons)

February 2013

If the ecosystem and toxins in fish weren’t factors, my Special One could easily consume enough sushi to make a large dent on the world’s fish population. When it came to our belated Valentine’s Day celebrations (belated bc holidays are flexible in my world), I put my love in terms he’d easily understand- sushi love!

With his extensive sushi-eating history, I dared not prepare the real deal and disappoint, so instead, I made…

Sushiroons Text

A sushiroon is a coconut macaroon dipped in dark chocolate with pistachio and dried apricot for its filling. I formed the nigiri with the same coconut macaroon base, and topped them with a dab of dark chocolate and either dried mango or candied ginger dipped in natural cherry juice (for a touch of color).

Sushi Chocolates

Plate of Sushiroons

One Sushiroon

Nigiri Plate

Nigiri

Soy Happy Together

Coconut Macaroons
Makes ~40 small macaroons

Ingredients

1 large organic egg white
Pinch of salt
14 ounces (one can) organic, sweetened, condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
14 ounces shredded, sweetened coconut

Directions

Heat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg white and salt until frothy, about 2 minutes.

Stir in condensed milk and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold in coconut until well combined.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Using a spoon and your fingers, form macaroons into 1 1/2-inch mounds about 1 inch apart.

Bake until macaroons are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to a cooling rack; let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

For the Sushi Effect

Melted Dark Chocolate
Dried Mango
Dried Apricot
Pistachios
Crystallized Ginger + Natural Dark Cherry Juice (Such as the juice from these cherries, which are about as natural as canned cherries come)

Jack Daniels Blondies For A Plaid Weekend of Harlem Shaking

February 2013

Our common thread is a school so nerdy its mascot was Tartan plaid. When the eight of us gathered at that Special Cabin in the Woods, naturally, the occasion also called for plaid all around (and not one but two roasted chickens).

Plaid-Weekend

No matter how I describe this weekend, my words would pale in comparison to Doug’s poetic conclusion penned in the cabin’s visitor book. Thus, I am borrowing his prose:

As I sit here eating jack links premium cuts beef jerky, before shortly leaving to drive back to Philadelphia, I realize the eight of us who spent the weekend here, thanks to the generous hospitality of Jono and his family, have a great unknown future ahead of us, one filled surely with stardom and success and newfound celebrity status. And we have the cabin to thank. For it was here on the evening of February 16th that we filmed our version of the Harlem Shake viral video- the Cabin Fever Edition. Like any masterpiece, it will not be fully appreciated for its ingenuity and vivre for decades- or unless watched at least eight times. The filming of the video was not without its obstacles and roadblocks. We weren’t going to make it!…We made it! The 31 second video starring Jono, Dan, Ben, Kyle, JP, Quelcy, Doug and Diane has 251 views already on YouTube, and if my math is correct, at this rate, we should surpass 1 million votes by Memorial Day.

Clearly, the weekend at the cabin called for a Harlem Shake- A Cabin Fever Edition! Take away the plaid, and what do you get? A video worth watching at least eight times!

After all that, it was time for dessert- dessert and a nightcap in one!

Jack Daniels Blondies 01

Jack Daniels Blondies

Ingredients

16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) organic, unsalted butter, melted
2 cups pure cane sugar

2 large eggs (local/free-range)
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup whiskey (Jack Daniels)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F

Butter a 9 x12 glass pan.

Mix melted butter with brown sugar, and beat until smooth.

Beat in eggs, and then vanilla.

Stir in the salt and flour.

Mix in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake at 20-25 minutes.

Cool on rack before cutting.

Jack Daniels Blondies 02

While you’re eating one of these gooey, whiskey-y bars, you might want to listen to this song. Enjoy!

Tea With “Tea With Me”

February 2013

Without discipline, our various online personas can easily lead to lost time and lost connections. On the other hand, through these portals, we have more opportunity than ever to find kindred spirits. It’s amazing what can develop in exchanges of 140 characters or less!

Frick Menu and Reflections

It was through Twitter I came to know Heather Mulholland of the beautiful blog Tea With Me. I was honored when Heather asked to interview me for her “Tea With…” series, which inspired my High Tea Hike. After “sharing” tea in the blogosphere, I was faily certain our paths would cross in real life too; I just thought I’d be the one venturing to Vancouver. As the journeys would have it, Heather came to me as part of her enviable travels throughout the US and Europe. This special visit called for a proper tea together, which in Pittsburgh means a trip to the Cafe at the Frick!

Tea With Heather

This was the perfect time for us to meet. Earlier this year, Heather quit what she called her “cushy marketing job.” A major, international trip was a way to start fresh and inspire herself anew before pursuing her passion for holistic nutrition. Meanwhile, yours truly is on the verge of something far more creative for those 9-5 hours. Inspiration, tea and cameras all around!

Frick Window View

A morning of art, an afternoon of tea and thoughtful conversation throughout…not bad for a Thursday!

Tea Sammies

Tiers and Scone

The moral of this tea is to reach out, connect and find a kindred spirit and maybe even live a little vicariously as well, which is exactly what I will be doing when Heather posts beautiful pictures from Paris!!!

Frick Sweets

Heart Cookie

And, as it turned out, this wonderful Thursday was Valentine’s Day!

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: Cookie Cups & Cartwheels

September 2012

When is the last time you really went outside and played?

When is the last time you flew through the trees?

When is the last time you ran like a fool? When is the last time you did a cartwheel?

There’s something about being at the special cabin in the woods that simplifies fun. Maybe it’s because we’re removed from typical routines or because no one is watching, or maybe because we’re just plain weird [magical]? Whatever the impetus, there we were playing outside, laughing and seeing the world from all angles. It took me back to a time when fitness was just an afternoon spent outside with friends.

Perhaps it was all the play that incited my craving for cookies. Perhaps I was transported to the time when I’d run inside with numb fingers and find a kitchen table covered in warm, fresh, gooey, chocolate-chip cookies.

One of the advantages of being a baking adult is I can make cookies when the craving hits. This time I was inspired by the ol’ cupcake form. Another advantage of being a baking adult is I can also be inspired by bourbon!

Bourbon, Cranberry & Pecan Cookie Cups
Makes 20 cookie cups

Ingredients

3/4 cup raw cane sugar
3/4 cup organic packed brown sugar
dash of nutmeg
1 cup organic, unsalted butter, browned
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 Tablespoons bourbon
1 egg (local/free-range)

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (leaving a handful whole for garnishing)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1/2 cup organic dried cranberries

Directions

Heat oven to 375ºF. Line a cupcake pan with natural parchment liners.

Mix sugars, nutmeg, butter, extracts, bourbon and egg in large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the egg mixture.

Stir in nuts, cranberries and chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls into lined cupcake pan.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until light brown.

Cool on wire rack, and go play!

weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

A Cookie For The Kind of Man I’d Be (Snap ‘Staches)

February 2012

If I were male, it’s pretty safe to say, I’d have obnoxious facial hair, channel the Prohibition era in my fashion choices and fantasize about having a dimly lit den, where my male counterparts would gather, perhaps even smoke some cigars (though I generally find this habit disgusting), drink brandy and discuss the world.  If I were male, I’d channel the quintessential high society, manly man (minus the misogyny) of yesteryear.  In a distilled manner of speaking, I’d be one of those Brooklyn hipster types.  If I were that man, these would be my cookies, and this would be my coffee!

Presenting another collaboration between yours truly on the baking/styling front and the ever talented man behind the camera, Adam Milliron, who has now entered the twittersphere!  Three tweets for Adam!  Tweet tweet hoorah!

Strong Black Coffee + Snap Whipped Cream

Strong black cuppa joe, prepared as you see fit (I generally press my beans in the French style)

1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
1-2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup, to taste
2-3 Tablespoons AITA Snap, to taste
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized, chilled bowl.  Use an electric mixer to beat until peaks form.

Add in heaping dollops to a cup of joe.  Political debates to ensue.

Snappy Gingerbread Mustaches
(Makes about 3 dozen cookies)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups chestnut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamum
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled organic smoked black pepper
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1 large egg (local/free-range)
2 Tablespoons AITA Snap

Directions

Combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and brown sugar until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes.

Beat in the molasses, egg and Snap.

Using a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough.

Divide the dough into two thick disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. (The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.)

Position a rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

To roll out the cookies, work with one disk at a time, keeping the other disk refrigerated.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just warm enough to roll out without cracking, about 10 minutes. (If the dough has been chilled for longer than 3 hours, it may need a few more minutes.)

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick.

For softer cookies, roll out slightly thicker. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and transfer to a baking stone lined with parchment, placing the cookies 1 inch apart.

Gently knead the scraps together and form into another disk. Wrap and chill for 5 minutes before rolling out again to cut out more cookies.

Bake until the edges of the cookies are set and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire cake racks to cool completely.

The cookies can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, stored in airtight containers at room temperature.

The Method To Our Madness & Make Believe

Want to see how obsessive Adam and I are about arriving at the perfect shot?  Here’s a glimpse into our madness.  It may seem petty to some, but finding that perfect spot for a sugar cube really makes our day!  Hopefully, it makes your day in some way as well!

Fin.

C is for Cookie and Collaboration, Part Deux

Holidays 2011

In C is for Cookie and Collaboration, Part One, I shared my recipe and the cookie cause for collaborating with my talented photographer friend, Adam Milliron.  I offered a glimpse of our combined effort, but this, Part Deux, is all about the eye candy [cookie]!

C is for Cookie and Collaboration, Part One

Holidays 2011

There is something so classic about red and white when winter chills are in the air, and when those classic colors come in a nutty cookie, even better!  When that cookie is cause for collaboration…better still!

The Cookie….

(click the recipe to enlarge)

The Collaboration!

Once upon a time, I posed in front of the camera- Adam’s camera!  There was a designer, a hairstylist, a make up artist- the whole works!  A few years passed, and Adam and I reconnected at the local source for world class coffee (where else?!?).  I was working on a blog post (what else?!?), and I sought Adam’s opinion as a photographer whose work I respected (which is saying A LOT coming from this little critic).  He was impressed and excited by my food styling, and shortly thereafter, a collaboration was born!  We both see the world in terms of props, lighting, the perfect shot and after all that, eating really good food!  Working together gives us both a new point of view and a chance to learn from each other.  On a surprisingly sunny day in November, the collaboration gave us some really great shots of some delicious cookies.

C’est moi…

About Adam Milliron
(From Adam’s website)

Today, one of the hardest tasks of a photographers’ job is setting your work apart from anyone who owns a camera and snaps photos with it. I always thought this was a challenge, to show others what I can do – until I realized that there is more to a photo than what meets the eye. I am creating a brand, an idea, a feeling, and often a lifestyle through my images. You learn to use lighting and composition as your canvas, creating images that make you happy and move brands forward.

About Milliron Studio

My newly renovated studio is located in the 10th ward of Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh. My staff is a group of people I have hand selected for not only their amazing talents but their ability to seamlessly work towards a common goal. A goal of creating stunning images while having fun and loving what we do.

Our work spans large catalog productions, high-end single page ads, product packaging, editorial magazines and volume web shots with clients ranging from small, independently owned businesses to national retail chains and monthly publications.

The studio offers full post-production services, in-house food and product styling and an extensive prop house. We specialize in retouching, design, creative direction and image handling services.

Without Further Ado…

Part Deux will ensue with more of my favorites from the shoot!  Stay tuned!

Happy Holiday Cookies!

Pique-Nique Planning

September 2011

I had this idea brewing for a while:  a Pique-nique at Fleatique, a monthly outdoor flea market/antique show fusion that happens at an old, coal mine site, outside Pittsburgh.  “Coal mine site” might seem like a horrible picnic location idea, but the grounds are grassy and tree lined and lovely.  The previous month, the skies were too threatening to my picnic basket plans, so we lunched inside instead, but the September skies were promising!  We proceeded with the picnic plans!

Pique-Nique Planning

Kneadless bread has been all over the baking blogosphere.  I am way behind on this trend, and after my own experiment, I’m not fully convinced that kneading is the enemy.  I did like the crumb and crust of my little loaves, but I wanted more flavor.  If I try this method again, I am going to add more complexity via honey, toasted grains or maybe a nut of some sort.  That being said, this bread served us nicely on a sunny Sunday, on a red checkered tablecloth, under shade trees.

See what you think.

No Knead French Bread

3 cups lukewarm water
2 Tablespoons active dry yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
3 1/2 cups local unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 ½ cups whole-wheat pastry flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, yeast, and salt.  Set aside for a few minutes to allow the yeast to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, and then add them all at once to the yeast mixture.  Use a wooden spoon to stir.  You do not need to form a dough ball, but stir until no flour streaks remain and everything is well mixed.

Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp, lint-free towel.  Set aside for a few hours to rise.

After the dough has risen and deflated slightly, dust your hands with flour, and remove a portion of dough approximately the size of a grapefruit.  At this point, you could also refrigerate the dough if you’re not ready to use it or any remaining dough.

Pull the sides of the dough toward the bottom to form a loaf shape and a smooth surface.

Dust a surface with a cornmeal to prevent sticking, and let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes (longer if you have refrigerated the dough).

Put it on a cutting board that’s been dusted with cornmeal to prevent sticking, and let it rest for at least 40 minutes (longer if the dough has been refrigerated).

Twenty minutes prior to baking, put a pizza stone in the middle rack of the oven.  Place a broiler pan on the bottom rack.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

After the remaining twenty minutes and oven preheating, dust the loaves with flour and slash the surfaces with a sharp knife.

Slide the loaf (or loaves) onto the baking stone.  Quickly pour 1 cup of water into the broiler pan, and shut the oven door promptly to trap the steam inside the oven.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until you get a nice brown crust.

Remove and let cool completely.

Pique-niquing ladies cannot live by bread alone…

Porquetta (recommended by the friendly Italian at Penn Mac), honey crisp apples, Danish Blue, speck, sardo cheese and local pears.

and chevre!

Of course there needed to be a dessert to extend the afternoon lazing!

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies & Cookie Cups

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups whole-wheat pastry flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 Tablespoons local unsalted butter (1 ¾ sticks)
½ cup organic Agave syrup
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large egg*
1 large egg yolk*
(*local/free-range)
12 oz (1 pacakge) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped

Directions

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Insert cupcake liners into a cupcake pan.

Whisk flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Heat 10 Tablespoons butter 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue to cook, swirling the pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1-3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Use a heatproof spatula to transfer the browned butter to a medium-sized, heatproof bowl.  Stir remaining 4 Tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

Add the agave syrup, brown sugar, salt and vanilla to the bowl with the butter, and whisk until fully incorporated.

Add egg and egg yolk, and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining.

Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds.  Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny.

Use a spatula or wooden spoon to fully incorporate the flour mixture.

Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Fill the cupcake liners about ¾ of the way full.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until edges are golden brown.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

(Quality Control:  check!)

Stay tuned for the FleaTique and Pique-nique photos!

You Can’t Take the Nebraska Out Of The Girl

An Ingredient Near & Dear To My Heart, Part Deux
A Food 52 Challenge
August 2011

I was born in a small town, founded by the Swedes, called Gothenburg, Nebraska.  The state of Nebraska, as you might recall, is “The Cornhusker State,” and despite moving at a young age, I have always had a healthy appreciation for golden kernels spiraling around a cob.  I even devoted the better part of a semester of architecture school studying corn as a set of systems, structures and rules.  I came to be known as “the corn girl” for quite some time.

Later in that same architecture stint, I made my way to Argentina for study abroad and general self-discovery.  I would frequent a little organic grocer in my neighborhood, and I bought my fair share of the national cookie:  the alfajorAlfajores are two corn flour based cookies sandwiched around the other national treasure- dulce de leche.  Using my Nebraskan roots and my world wanderings for inspiration, I kicked up the corn content of the average alfajor, and thus I present “Alphacornes Ice Cream Sammiches”

As I mentioned, I concocted this corn creation as part of a Food 52 recipe challenge.  I had just found the site and the contest, so my time was crunched.  The following presents my full blown intention, and it was quite the endeavor!

Corn Cookie + Dulce de Leche + Corn-Infused, Crème Fraiche Ice Cream
(in one summer sammich treat!)

Part One:  Dulce de Leche

Ingredients

28 ounces (2 cans) organic sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of sea salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425° F (220° C).

Pour the two cans of organic sweetened condensed milk a glass pie plate or shallow baking dish.

Stir in a few flecks of sea salt.

Set the pie plate within a larger pan, such as a roasting pan, and add hot water until it reaches halfway up the side of the pie plate.

Cover the pie plate snugly with aluminum foil or a lid if you have one and bake for 1 to 1 ½ hours.

(Check a few times during baking and add more water to the roasting pan as necessary).

Once the Dulce de Leche is nicely browned and caramelized, remove from the oven and let cool.

Once cool, whisk until smooth.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Warm gently in a warm water bath or microwave oven before using.

Part Two:  Alfajores de Maizena

Ingredients

1 2/3 cups whole-wheat pastry
2 ½ cups organic whole grain corn flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar in the raw
3 egg yolks (local/free-range)
1 Tablespoon whiskey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons organic lemon extract
1 ear of local corn, kernels removed and chopped
Unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions

Combine the whole-wheat flour, corn flour, baking soda and baking powder.

Cream the butter with the sugar.

Add the egg yolks, the vanilla extract, the whiskey, the lemon extract and the crushed corn.

(note the grains on that bottle of whiskey!)

Add this cream to the dry ingredients making a hole in the middle of the flour and making a crumbly dough using a spoon.

When you see that the dough is cohesive enough, make a ball with your hands pressing the different pieces together.

Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30-60 minutes (30 is usually enough if you are in a hurry).

Roll out the dough carefully flouring the counter until it gets around 1/4 inch thick.

Cut with a round cutter, and repeat joining the scraps again and again until you´ve used all the dough.

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Place on a stone baking sheet and bake for around 15 minutes, checking frequently. The dough should not be golden, it can appear undone.

Remove quickly to avoid burning and place on a rack to cool.

Part Three:  Crème Fraiche, Corn-Infused Ice Cream

Crème Fraiche Ingredients

2 c heavy cream
2 T buttermilk

Directions

Place heavy cream in a bowl or large jar.

Add the buttermilk, which will act as the culture.

Partially cover the jar or bowl and let it sit at room temperature until mixture has thickened to approximately the consistency of yogurt.

Depending on the temperature of my house, it takes between 12 and 48 hours to thicken properly.”

When it’s ready, give it another good (but gentle) stir, cover, and refrigerate for at least a day before using.

Crème Fraiche Corn-Infused Ice Cream

Ingredients

1¼ c whole milk
2½ c heavy cream
3 ears of local sweet corn, husked
½ t salt
1 c local honey
7 egg yolks
1 c crème fraîche
1 Tablespoon vanilla
Fresh squeezed juice from one lemon

Directions

Cut kernels from corn cobs, reserve cobs.

Break each cob into 2-3 pieces.

Whisk milk and cream in a heavy-bottom saucepan with the salt, half the honey, the corn kernels and cobs.

Let steep overnight.

Whisk egg yolks in another bowl with remaining sugar.

Turn the heat to medium-low and bring cream mixture to a simmer, whisking frequently.

Ladle a quarter cup of the cream mixture into the egg yolks and beat thoroughly, then pour the egg mixture into the cream mixture.

Switch to a spatula and run it along the bottom of the pan constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

When cooled, whisk in the crème fraîche and vanilla. Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Whisk in the lemon juice and freeze per your ice cream maker’s instructions.

Final Assembly

Did you ever imagine this moment would come?

I was beginning to have my doubts, but at last, my mega corn dreams became a reality,

and then they became dessert!

Mouth full…sticky fingers…can’t type.

Fin.

Pick Me Up: Tiramisu

March 2011

I had dinner plans with two very special ladies in my life, and I was going for an overall Italian themed meal.  A fancy Tiramisu seemed just the right dessert to top off the night.  I’ve eaten Tiramisu every now and then, but I’ve never been attached to it at the spoon until I made it myself.  I am not boasting, just confessing.  This was one of those desserts that demanded a nibble each time I opened the refrigerator door.  The Italians weren’t kidding when they called this dessert “Pick Me Up.”  Luckily, I shared most of it, or I would have had a real chocolaty, creamy overload.   

Being the purist that I am, this recipe began with the ladyfingers and continued as such…

Directions

Stir the espresso, coffee granules and 5 Tablespoons of the Frangelico in a wide bowl until the coffee dissolves; set aside.

Use a mixer to beat the egg yolks at low speed until just combined.

Add the sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1 ½  to 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the remaining 4 Tablespoons Frangelico, and beat at medium speed until combined, 20-30 seconds; scrape the bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1 ½  minutes.  Increase the speed to high and continue to beat until the cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1 ½ minutes longer.

Use a rubber spatula to fold one-third of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain.  Set the mascarpone mixture aside.

Working one at a time, drop one half of a ladyfinger into the coffee mixture, roll, remove and transfer to a glass baking dish (roughly 13 x 9 inch).  The entire drop and roll process should take no longer than 2-3 seconds for each cookie.

Arrange the soaked cookies in a single layer in the baking dish, breaking or trimming the ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into the dish.

Spread half the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers, being sure to cover the entire surface.

Using a fine mesh strainer, sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of the cocoa over the mascarpone mixture.

Repeat dipping and arranging ladyfingers to form a second layer.

Add the remaining mascarpone mixture and then remaining cocoa.

Wipe the edges of the dish clean, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6-24 hours.

Serve as the dessert to a dinner with lovely ladies!

PS: I had extra filling and just a bit of extra chocolate ladies, so I added some chopped walnuts and made a more nontraditional, less layered but equally addictive version.

Mai Tai Cocktail Cookies

February 2011

This is what I had planned on happening…

… so Julia and I baked accordingly.

Mai Tai Cocktail Cookies

Cookie Ingredients

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 pound good-quality dark chocolate1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups organic light brown sugar
2 large, local, free-range eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
zest from 1 organic orange

Whipped Topping Ingredients

1 miniature bottle of Captain Morgan Rum
1 miniature bottle of Bacardi Rum
1 Pint local heavy whipping cream
Fresh squeeze juice from 1 lime
Fresh squeezed juice from 1 orange
Organic powdered sugar to taste

For the Cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Melt 4 ounces coarsely chopped chocolate with the butter in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water; let cool slightly.

Put chocolate mixture, sugar, eggs, vanilla and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on medium speed until combined.

Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chunks.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a large spoon, drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart.

Bake until cookies are flat and surfaces crack, about 15 minutes (cookies should be soft).

Let cool on parchment on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

For Whipped Topping

Use a mixer to beat all the ingredients together until stiff peaks form.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Place a dollop of whipped topping on the cookies of those old enough and willing to partake in a boozy afternoon treat.  Garnish with a natural maraschino cherry.

As exhibited, I had planned for the company to go on a bowling outing and thus baked thematically.  However, the plethora of league bowlers, the added obstacle of some adult intramural bowling group and the lack of any direct communication from the bowling facility foiled my plans.

We still had really stylish ties and so many mai tai cookies.

In an effort to mitigate the afternoon’s disappointment, Julia and I loaded a tray with cookies and walked around the office asking the hardworking folks if they wanted a cocktail cookie.  One of these days we’ll have the chance to bowl.  I’ll have to plan a new outfit, but I have just the right dress in mind.

Speaking of ridiculous outfits, I wore this ensemble on headshots day at work!  My working self was immortalized on the org chart as a very Western version of me.

Just in time for the new CEO!

Mind you, I was the one shooting all of the headshots except mine for obvious reasons.  I saw this coming, but I was true to my mai tai cause through and through.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

April 2010

Once while I was selling my homemade butternut squash, cinnamon rolls, a customer asked me, “Do you ever make anything simple?  Like chocolate chip cookies?”

Years later, I baked my response, and the answer was yes, I bake chocolate chip cookies, but even the way I make the classic cookie probably doesn’t count as simple.  In my health and environmental efforts, I have added a few extra ingredients.

C is for Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick butter, softened
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup local, wildflower honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1-cup whole-wheat pastry
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup old-fashioned oats
Chocolate chips to heart’s content

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F

Place the butter, brown sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a mixer and beat on medium speed until blended.  Scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

Add the egg and vanilla.  Mix well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add to the butter mixture all at once.  Turn the mixer on the lowest speed and blend slowly until there are no more patches of flour.  Scrape down the bowl.

Add the oats and blend on low until combined.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir gently a few times with the spatula to make sure there are no patches of unincorporated flour or butter.

Add chocolate chips to heart’s content and mix into the batter with the spatula.

Using a large spoon, scoop portions of cookie dough onto a prepared baking stone, spaced about 2 inches apart.

Bake 13-16 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown at the edges and still a bit pale in the center.