Baking and Chocolate
Growing up with an Italian grandmother, desserts usually meant full-bodied, booze-spiked, often savory treats including tiramisu, Italian pizzelle cookies, pignoli cookies, and pepper biscuits. The only thing I knew about Scandinavian desserts was, well, nothing. Thumbprint cookies didn't count since I thought Mrs. Claus invented them.
Not anymore. Thanks to Pat Sinclair's lovely new cookbook Scandinavian Classic Baking, I now know how to make Swedish Pepparkakor (spicy gingerbread cookies), Sandbakkels (miniature butter cookies shaped into a cup and filled with jam or cream), and Spritz (classic Swedish butter cookies made with a cookie press).
Sinclair organizes her 42 recipes into five chapters: Coffee Breads, Cakes, Cookies, Tarts, Fruit Desserts & Pastries, and Traditional Favorites. Recipes are highly detailed, so even a novice baker can feel confident attempting a new recipe. You'll find sublimely simple recipes such as orange bundt cake next to more sophisticated ones such as Scandinavian apricot almond bars.
What is life without a little bit of the whimsical? The magical? The fanciful?
I think that is perhaps what I love most about the idea of decorating a wee cupcake: it’s an opportunity to let your creative heart out.
Call me silly, but I just can’t help but feel a bit of whimsy these days. Life is crazy as ever and the world is as strange as ever but some things never change.
I can smell spring in the air.
The other day I saw a few brave daffodils insistently pushing their way through the soil. Today I saw the most perfect pair of summer sandals.
Ah, whimsy! But whimsy also comes in other forms, namely a cookbook by the name of Little Cakes from the Whimsical Bakehouse: Cupcakes, Small Cakes, Muffins, and Other Mini Treats by Kaye and Liv Hansen.
The best things come in small packages. In the case of “Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers,” the best chocolate things come in small packages. Author Debby Maugans perfected the art of baking for one or two people in her first book, “Small Batch Baking.”
Realizing that the average recipe produced a larger quantity of the end product than a single person, or couple may want to eat, or be able to finish she revised recipes so that the serving sizes were more appropriate for one or two people. A pretty smart idea in and of itself.
Being the professed chocoholic she is, Maugans saw a need for a small-batch cookbook for chocolate lovers. And thank goodness she did!
I've said it before, but I'm in awe of Alice Medrich. She was an early chocolate evangelist in the Bay Area, who brought us luscious desserts and truffles, inspired by what she had tasted and learned in France. Over the past few years she has written several terrific and award-winning books on chocolate including Bittersweet, Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts, and Chocolate Holidays.
Her latest book is a bit of a departure, it's not just about chocolate, but an exploration into the world of high quality ingredients. The chapters in Pure Dessert are focused on the flavors of Milk, Grain, Nuts and Seeds, Fruit, Chocolate, Honey and Sugar, Herbs and Spices, Flowers and Herbs, and Wine, Beer and Spirits. Intriguing, don't you think?
It was my friends birthday last Wednesday and I had every intention of making her a cake, yet the day got away from me. I wanted to make something she could share with her employees, but also wanted there to be enough for her take some home.
This recipe is from Elinor Klivan’s book, Big Fat Cookies. I love most of the cookies from this book and what I love most about this particular recipe is that it can whipped up in minutes. It doesn’t require your Kitchen Aid Mixer; just a bowl and a wooden spoon. I love this cookie and so does everyone else I have ever made this for.
It is not a drop and bake recipe, which is a true time saver. You make the batter, spread it on a silpat pad on your baking sheet and bake. Once it is cool enough, you break similar to a candy bark. I have made this dough and have used all kinds of tasty additions. Be creative and enjoy this batter with your favorite candy, dried fruit, nut, etc!
A great book for entertaining and gift giving ideas. The recipes are broken down into type of cookie (drop, rolled, slice and bake, no-bake) with easy instructions and everyday ingredients that make baking these wonderful classic holiday treats a snap for regular bakers and newbies alike. The storing and shipping instructions are helpful as well for those who want to send their efforts to others as gifts. A holiday cookbook that’s sure to please.
As recommended by Lisa Dinsmore