The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_9326If you’re anything like me, you are constantly in search of the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. And not one ever, quite lives up to the hype. Too crunchy. Too Chewy. Too sweet. Etc. etc.

Well, search no further. This is, literally, the best cookie I’ve ever tasted or made (of the chocolate chip variety). And good news to all you gluten-avoiders: it’s got no flour in it!

“Oh, geez.” you may say, “Another one of these silly ‘healthy’ desserts. Desserts aren’t supposed to be healthy. Stop trying!”

Well, I promise you, that’s usually what I say. Don’t mess with a good thing and all that. I mean, if I’m going to ingest sugar, it had better be as tasty as it possibly can be. HOWEVER, in this situation, it works excellently. The recipe replaces wheat with almond flour, and the absence of gluten makes for an extraordinarily tender cookie.IMG_9323 These are more on the crunchy side of the spectrum, but they are by no means hard. They’re a little like shortbread – melt in your mouth.

Seriously, you have to try these – if you’re not converted – well, I don’t know what to say… Recipe

Perfect Pastry Pie Crust

Thanksgiving time is pie time. No question about it. This year we had a bit of a pie disaster. My sister has been experimenting with Einkorn flour, which is actually quite good. 969434_669408952378_958001088_nHOWEVER, we had no experience with working with it in pie dough – which is a finicky process. The result was – less than ideal. The first blind baked crust stuck like mad to the parchment paper. The second one basically collapsed. It was getting late on Wednesday and there was no pumpkin pie, never mind apple pie! My dad and I hopped in the car and made a run to the King Arthur Store in Norwich. There we found a bag of their Perfect Pastry Blend flour, which, of course, has a recipe for pie crust on the back.
When in doubt, turn to the experts.1470063_669444885368_1560865055_n
As promised, it was perfect. So I thought, why not share it. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who always struggles to find the crust recipe I want. Next time, I’ll just have to leave a little more time for experimenting with the Einkorn flour.

The only change I made was to add a little sugar – I think when making a sweet pie you need that touch to balance the flavors. I also didn’t use the optional buttermilk powder they called for – I’m honestly not sure what the point of it is, so I haven’t put it in here. But at the bottom of this post, you’ll find a link the the original recipe. Continue reading

Best Brownies

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Brownies. Everyone needs a good brownie recipe. It’s pretty much a necessity of life. I’m here to tell you that you need look no further! This is it. The one, the best, the only brownie recipe you ever need. It’s that good. I swear. And it’s really pretty easy to whip together. Just make sure you have enough chocolate!

The low baking temperature creates a really nice texture, and there’s room for playing with flavors. I’m partial to coffee and rum myself – because, why not? However, there are so many options! I’ve done coffee and cinnamon (clearly, I’m partial to coffee and chocolate), which was excellent. You can also boil down 1/2c stout to 1/4c and add that – I haven’t done this yet, because I don’t often have a stout just sitting around waiting to be used. It sounds excellent though. You could do lavender. Hazelnut. Plain, obviously.

Enough of the variations, you say, get on to the recipe! Ok, ok. I got carried away. Here it is: recipe

French Style Supper: Apple Cardamom-Cream Tart

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Last but certainly not least in this series: the apple tart. For this tart, a loose bottom pan is also ideal, but not necessary. However, don’t use a deep one like I did – it takes forever to cook! A 9-12″ shallow tart pan should be good.

You’ll want the same Pâte Brisée recipe from the Quiche. However, since this is a sweet tart, I like to up the sugar just a touch (maybe a scant tablespoon). Whether or not you do that is totally up to you. Now for the filling: Read More:

French Style Supper: Bacon and Onion Tart

IMG_1083Ok. Now for recipe number two in the French Style Supper series: the tart, or quiche. First of all, for this recipe, you will need a free-bottom tart pan. Second of all, don’t do what I did; make sure the crust is thin enough – especially down in those corners! – otherwise your tart will be heavy and the crust won’t be crisp.

Alright, crust comes first. For my crust, I used Julia Child’s Pâte Brisée recipe, which can be found here. HOWEVER, PLEASE don’t use vegetable shortening! Use lard – it’s real, and it’s good for you. Anyway, that’s all from me. Once you have your crust all done and pre-baked, you can start on the filling.

Chocolate “Hostess” Cupcakes

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Another fun thing to do when you’re home alone is to bake – and then bring things into work so that you don’t eat it all yourself, and so your coworkers like you. 🙂 I’m particularly partial to cupcakes myself – chocolate please! Usually I just make my favorite chocolate cake from Gourmet, Dec ’87. After all, that’s the year and month I was born – it must be made for me, right? But, this time I decided to switch things up a bit. I’ve never made a chiffon cake before ’cause I’ve always heard they were more finicky. Maybe they are, but I had good luck with this recipe, and now, in my opinion, chiffon is the way to go for cupcakes. Light, fluffy, moist. But they have a firm enough texture that they don’t fall apart when you take a bite. Perfection. I even ate one without any frosting and it was good! But then, to top it all off – to guild the lily as the saying goes – I decided to fill them with pastry cream and smother the top in chocolate-coffee ganache. What?!

The Revelation of French Buttercream

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You know how American buttercream frosting is always really sweet (4 cups of sugar?!) and no matter how long you heat and stir it, it never seems to get smooth? You know how those nice bakeries always have really smooth, buttery buttercream? Well, as usual, the French have the culinary answer. Read More

When Autumn Comes: Grape Focaccia

Make sourdough grape focaccia!

Nothing says Autumn like fresh grapes. I’m not talking about those aroma-less, seedless excuses for grapes you can buy in the grocery store all year long. I’m talking about big, plump, seedy, perfumed grapes. Concord grapes, for example. Freshly picked. There’s a fruit you can smell from a mile away. Plop those on top of focaccia with rosemary and anise seeds and bake it in the oven; suddenly your whole house will smell absolutely amazing. Breath it in; that’s the smell of harvest time.

See recipe…

Experiment: Nectarine-Lavender Muffins with Coconut Flour

So, I saw this pin on Pinterest (yes, I spend too much time on that site. But, all the cool ideas I find there!). Anyway, someone pinned Lavender Nectarine Muffins. Sounds damn good, I thought. So (after repinning, of course) I clicked for the recipe. Despair! It was in German! What now? I don’t speak German! Ahhh, but the internet can do anything – right? Hasty Google search. Some copy and pasting. Soon I have a VERY rough translation. Well, I’m creative. I can make this work; I WANT ME SOME MUFFINS.

Of course, being the impatient person I am, I decided to experiment on my first go. I wanted to use less flour by substituting coconut flour. This is not quite as straightforward as I thought it would be since you have to add equal parts extra liquid to coconut flour and sometimes you even need more egg for loft. Add to this that I was working with oz (weight) instead of cups (thanks European measurements). Anyway, for a bit, it was very confusing. However, in the end I actually came out with a batch of tasty muffins. Turns out the combination of nectarine, lavender and coconut flour results in a something that tastes a little like a corn muffin. Who knew? I think I may want to try making the straight flour version just for the sake of comparison. We’ll see…

See recipe.

Fig and Honeyed-Chevre Tart with Rosemary Shortcrust

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The school my mom works at has a couple of fig trees, so, of course, we picked a bunch of figs. They were delicious. Nothing beats fruit picked ripe and eaten fresh from the tree. You can keep your flavorless, California fruit that was picked green and shipped across the country. Anywho, we had so many that we couldn’t eat them all right away, so I made a tart. The recipe was partly inspired by the most recent issue of Fine Cooking and partly by some research I did. We are a low-grain family so we really don’t eat much flour and my first thought was that I would make an almond flour crust. Unfortunately I forgot to set the timer on the blind-bake and – well – it was a disaster. Back to the beginning. This time with a classic short-crust. Melt in your mouth.

Lots. Of. Butter.

If you are one of those people who thinks butter is bad for you, this recipe probably isn’t for you. I suppose you can substitute a different type of crust, but I guarantee it won’t be as good. I say: eat more (good) fat. But, do as you will with the crust – here’s what I did:

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