Imagine these tucked into your Easter basket.
Easter may be all about chocolate eggs and marshmallow Peeps. But I think it should be about cookies.
But then again, I think every day should be a cookie day.
And this cookie has it all: A twinkle of color in keeping with that festive holiday. Chocolate for tradition’s sake. And almonds for their symbolic promise of hope.
“Big White Chocolate, Almond and Cherry Cookies” is a recipe by Pastry Chef Joanne Chang that was originally published in the December 2013 issue of Food & Wine magazine. The recipe by the chef-proprietor of Flour Bakery in Boston was originally called “Big White Chocolate, Almond and Cranberry Cookies,” but I substituted dried cherries for the dried cranberries to make it more appropriate for this time of year.
The recipe uses three different flours — all-purpose, bread and almond. They give the cookie great texture. They are thin and crisp on the edges,, but stay thick, soft and chewy in the centers. The white chocolate gives the cookies a good measure of sweetness, the cherries add a subtle fruity tang and the almonds a lovely crunch. It’s a cookie that hits all the notes.
Dark chocolate, rye and salt combine to make these fudgey cookies.
There’s a reason why this “Salted Chocolate-Rye Cookies” recipe is one of the most publicized ones from the new “Tartine Book No. 3.”
First, it’s one of the simplest recipes from the book (Chronicle) by Chad Robertson of San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery, of which I received a review copy. If you’re familiar with Robertson’s other two books, “Tartine” (written with wife, Elisabeth M. Prueitt) and “Tartine Bread”,” you know how painstaking his recipes can be, particularly the bread ones. “Tartine Book No. 3” is no exception, especially because it’s all about baking with whole grains such as flax, spelt and kamut. The master method for Tartine loaves spans eight pages alone. Even the fruit scone recipe requires the making of a leaven (or starter).
Second, these cookies are a guaranteed hit. They are extremely fudgey and chocolatey tasting with the perfect sophisticated crunch of sea salt over the top.
I had one more reason for tackling these cookies: the bag of rye flour taking up space in my freezer that was left over from making Nancy Silverton’s amazing pizza dough recipe.
The rye flour replaces whole-wheat in these cookies. Rye contains gluten. It also lends a slight malt taste to baked goods. With chocolate, it’s a natural.
An ice cream sandwich that you don’t need an ice cream machine to make.
As a native San Franciscan, I’m proud to say that my first encounter with an ice cream sandwich was with the It’s It, the iconic treat invented here way back in 1928.
In our freezer at home, my Dad would often stash a few of those big-fisted oatmeal cookie sandwiches filled with vanilla ice cream and dunked in chocolate. As a kid, I couldn’t even eat an entire one at one sitting.
I’ve been a sucker for ice cream sandwiches ever since.
So when a review copy of “Ice Cream Sandwiches” (Ten Speed Press) landed in my mailbox recently, I leafed through it with the utmost nostalgia. The book is by Donna Egan, founder of the Buttercup Cake Shop, London’s first cupcake bakery. After opening in 2006, the bakery added ice cream sandwiches to its repertoire five years later and has never looked back.
The book features 65 recipes for all manner of ice cream sandwiches. The “Peanut Butter Dream” caught my eye because, well, who doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter together?
Buttery shortbread with pecans and plenty of browned butter.
Your honor, I can’t say I’ve sampled every pecan shortbread cookie in the world. But this one sure does pose a strong case for being the best, as it so claims.
Let me call my first witness — the cookie, itself.
Here you have the melt-in-your-mouth, crumbly evidence. It’s chock-full of pecans, then crowned gloriously with one perfect pecan half.
What makes this cookie even more decadent is that you coat the chopped pecans that get stirred into the dough in two stick of butter that you slowly and ever so carefully melt on the stovetop until the butter turns deeply golden and fragrantly toasty.
Then, add all the other ingredients straight into that pot to finish making the dough — all without a mixer. How easy is that, your honor?
OK, technically, “Apple Brownies” are not brownies at all.
For one thing, there’s no chocolate in them.
But there are plenty of apples in a tender crumb that is suffused with cinnamon.
Plus, just like the best brownies, these bake up with an irresistible crackly texture on top. So much so, that just like brownies, you will be grabbing for the corner pieces first just to get as much of the sugary, crisp edges as you can.