A slice of heaven for Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate and long-stemmed roses signify Valentine’s Day to many.
For me, though, it’s all about banana cream pie.
You see, when I was dating my husband, he actually took the time and effort to make a banana cream pie for the first time just to surprise me. To understand how out of character that is, just consider that his nickname is Meat Boy, not Pie Boy. Grilling and smoking mega hunks of meat is second nature to him. But making pastries and desserts? Honestly, most times he’d rather eat a second helping of meat than end a meal with a sweet. So, when I saw him turn on the oven and pull out the butter, sugar and flour to mix the dough, it was a shock.
A beaut of a pie.
What made it even more memorable? He made it and then took the cream pie proudly to my parents’ house to share with them.
Now, that’s love.
A sophisticated brownie with the intense taste of almonds.
Include a little Dorie Greenspan in your Christmas to ensure it’s a sweet one.
Greenspan is a baker extraordinaire who also happens to be great at savory cooking too. She can do it all, and it shows in her many cookbooks, Washington Post column, and her wonderful Everyday Dorie blog that’s followed by legions around the world.
Her newest cookbook, “Dorie’s Cookies” (Houghlin Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy, is a 518-page comprehensive cookie trove.
Cookie fans are sure to find something to love. Cookie Monsters like myself will be beside themselves trying not to make every single recipe at once.
There are bar cookies, drop cookies, butter cookies, and even savory cocktail cookies. I’ve bookmarked so many of the recipes, including “Princeton Gingersnaps,” “Devil’s Food Wafflets with Chocolate Sauce,” and “Triscuity Bites” (yes, savory cookies made with cream cheese and crumbled Triscuits).
Not your average chocolate chip cookie.
Does the world really need another chocolate chip cookie recipe?
You bet, if it’s by Nancy Silverton.
The renowned pastry chef can do no wrong. At least in my book. Over the years, I’ve made many of her recipes, and none have ever disappointed. She’s also the co-owner of my favorite pizza joint, Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, as well as nearby sister restaurants Osteria Mozza and Chi Spacca.
“Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies” is from her newest cookbook, “Mozza At Home” (Alfred A. Knopf), of which I received a review copy. It was written with James Beard Award-winning journalist Carolynn Carreno.
It’s a dirty little secret that most chefs don’t cook much at home. They just don’t have the time. Silverton was the same way for many years, until a trip to Italy reconnected her to the pleasures of cooking for friends, family, and even herself.
A simple cookie with a powerhouse of flavor.
Think of these as your favorite snickerdoodles — only taken up a big notch.
They’re crisp on the edges, and wonderfully chewy in the center. And they boast that old-fashioned cinnamon-sugar flavor we all love. What’s more, they get an unexpected punch of star anise, which lends warm, balanced licorice, tarragon and fennel notes.
My husband said they tasted exotic. I think they taste irresistible. Especially with coffee, chai tea or hot chocolate.
“Star Anise Snickerdoodles” is a recipe from “Incredibly Decadent Desserts Over 100 divine Treats with 300 Calories or Less” (Oxmoor House, 2015), of which I received a review copy.
The cookbook is by Cooking Light recipe developer Deb Wise. The recipes use moderate amounts of sugar and fat without sacrificing texture or flavor. Wise is a fan of whole grains, reduced fat cream cheese, fat-free Greek yogurt, and even Cool Whip.
A different kind of Christmas cookie.
You have to love a book that invites you to bake a different cookie every day in the lead up to Christmas.
Indulging in a different, freshly baked treat every day? What could be better?
That’s just the premise of “Cookie Advent Cookbook” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. The cookbook is by Virginia Van Vynckt and Barbara Grunes, two authors who are avowed cookie lovers.
Kids will love the cover of the book, depicting a Christmas tree laden with 24 ornaments. Lift up the flap on each ornament to uncover a tiny illustration of the “cookie of the day.”
The cookies are standard classics for the most part, such as “Swedish Thumbprints,” “Candy Cane Cookies,” and “Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti.”
I gravitated toward one of the slightly more unusual ones, “Green Tea Lemon Wafers.” These are a breeze to make because the flour, sugar, egg and butter get cooked on the stovetop in a saucepan.