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Martha’s Cookie of the Month

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I’m a Martha person. Are you? Her recipes are usually simple enough, well tested, and tasty. She only makes me feel like the most disorganized person on the planet some of the time. What a woman. When I get too discouraged I just remember she spent time behind bars and it makes me like her again.

This month the special cookie in her magazine is the “Nutty Butter.” This really isn’t a “throw it in the mixer and forget it” type of recipe. There are a few steps involved, so make sure you have about 45 minutes. You can find the recipe for these cookies after the pictures.

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Recipe can be found on page 56 of Martha Stewart Living Magazine, April 2012.
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Mix Mix Mixing up the butter and sugars.
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Thank you to my back yard chickens for making this egg and these cookies possible!
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Highly recommend investing in a full sized sheet pan. It takes up the entire oven and you can bake all of your cookies in one huge batch. Cuts a lot of time and energy…
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Here they are! And they were awesome. Not just because I’m pregnant.

Ingredients:

  • I 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 cup plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup nut butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (If that sounds too healthy, substitute chocolate chips. That’s what I did.)
  1. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add oats and cook, stirring, until toasted, 5-7 minutes. Spread oat mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet; let cool.
  2. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat together the remaining stick of butter and the sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg, and beat until combined. Add nut butter (I used peanut butter but you can also use almond or cashew), and beat until combined on medium speed.
  3. Add oat mixture and chopped nuts (or chocolate chips), and beat on low speed until combined. Add flour mixture, beat until combined.
  4. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake until golden, 12-15 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets, can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week. But they won’t last that long.

An Acceptable Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Koslicks (Koslick is my maiden name) are notorious cookie snobs. Your cookie better not be too hard, too lemony, too crumbly, too chocolatey, or not brown-sugary enough. I have never been able to make a cookie that is worth their caloric intake…until now.

I believe I have found the holy grail of ingredients… Cornstarch. Cornstarch?! In a cookie?! I finally found the recipe to appease even the most sensitive Koslick cookie palate. And today, I will share it with you. See below.

Ingredients: 
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (or whichever you prefer)
Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. I use my stand mixer for this… and one of the reasons why I love this recipe so much is that you can make the dough using only one bowl! So next you want to…..
3.  Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Then add the chocolate chips.
4.  I roll my cookies into one inch balls and place them close together on a baking sheet. You can fit quite a few on one baking sheet since they puff up rather than spread out when they are cooked. Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on how large of a pan you use. I used a sheet-cake size, so I can literally fit this entire batch in my oven all at once. Which is amazing. Start to finish the cookies take me about 20 minutes. Makes approximately 36 cookies.

*Recipe comes from http://kelseysappleaday.blogspot.com/, which she adapted from Anna Olsen, Food Network Canada.

Bars it is

Bars are as good as it gets these days. And probably will be as good as it gets for a few more months. It could be worse, of course. What if I left it all entirely? So, bars it is. Bars are as far as my brain can go.

I should have done lemon bars. Ha. That’s quite a way of beginning an entry. I made a coconutty-type of bar, but while they baked I thought of how terribly refreshing lemon bars would be and the winter seems like the time to be dehydrated and not know it. When else do you eat iceberg lettuce? Why does it taste so good in the winter? You’re dehydrated.

No, I shouldn’t write these blog posts late at night.

I’ll keep this brief.

So, when you are in the throes of everyday life, think of the humble goodness of the bar. Today, we’re featuring Jim Fobel’s Coconut Bars from the cookbook Jim Fobel’s Old-Fashioned Baking Book.  Dress up the recipe by drizzling the bars with chocolate ganache. There’s a good idea for you.

Coconut Bars

Bottom Layer

1 stick of butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour                                  1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

Top Layer

2 large eggs                                                           1 cup slivered almonds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup lightly packed sweetened shredded coconut

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder                                     1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 325 F and butter an 8-inch square pan.

2. In a medium bowl, combine butter, flour, and brown sugar and mix well with a spoon. Turn the dough over into the pan and spread it out evenly. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

3. Meanwhile, beat together the eggs, vanilla, and brown sugar for 1 to 2 minutes. With a spoon, stir in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, almonds and coconut.

4. Spread coconut mixture over the bottom layer once it has baked. Return the pan to the oven for about 30 minutes more.

5. Cool on a wire rack before cutting into bars.

Jessica’s Rustic Apple Pie

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Rustic apple pie.

What makes something “rustic?” Is it unfinished looking? Usually. That’s the case with this apple pie. There are no crimped edges, no perfectly pressed crust. There’s not even a stitch of butter in the crust, which is normally a no-no for me [Jessica]. This pie takes about 15 minutes to throw together, and that’s what’s so beautiful about it. Maddy Lu has an eye for the “rustic” in dessert. It might not be pretty, but I bet it’s one of the best things you’ve ever eaten! Here is my recipe for rustic apple pie. I highly recommend it… and your husband will thank you when he walks in from work and smells the cinnamon. Maybe a back rub is in order?

Preheat Oven to 375…

Ingredients:

FILLING

  • 8 Medium Sized Apples, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • A generous sprinkling of cinnamon
  • 3 TBS Flour

CRUST

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. To begin, slice and core your apples. This is the time when an apple peeler/corer comes in handy.
  2. Melt a stick of butter on medium heat, once melted, add the flour.
  3. Add the white/brown sugars and the cinnamon.
  4. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes. That’s it.
  5. Get that crust prepared- using a pastry cutter or a big fork, cut the flour/salt into the shortening.  Mix in the water with your hands until the dough comes together.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface- you want a big huge pancake.
  7. Lift the dough onto your baking sheet, and dump the apples into the center.
  8. Pull up the edges so they come in about halfway towards the center.
  9. Bake on center rack at 375 or until you can see the apples are bubbling and the crust is browned.

In a Sequined Christmas Blouse

We took down our trees today. I know it’s a bit late, but we were waiting for snow. The snow came down early this morning…

and the trees followed.

While we tried to not be nostalgic, I couldn’t help but think of the season when the most delightful part of each day will be choosing from the manor’s menu–boiled ham sandwich or beef goulash.

The holidays will arrive and my children will draw from a hat to see who will feed me and the unlucky grand-kids will cry, “Do we have to?!”

I will sit in the manor lobby in my sequined Christmas blouse and wait. I imagine I’ll wait for at least forty-five minutes before I see an angry-looking relative.

All year long I’ve been looking forward to a festive dinner and I’m given an hour or so to choke down my rations while no one even attempts to talk to me. I don’t even get a peek at the Christmas tree.

I’m back in my room again before I know it and it’s time to choose breakfast–honey bun or runny eggs. Neither. Thanks.

To lighten the mood, I went with something terribly easy for someone in such a mental state–chocolate chip bars. And chocolate can be so comforting.

The recipe comes from Jim Fobel’s Old-Fashioned Baking Book. These chocolate chip bars are just right.

Jim Fobel’s Chocolate Chip Bars

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour                                            1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda                                                 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt                                                1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened                     6 ounces of chocolate chips

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour an 11 3/4-by-7 1/2-inch pan.

2. Stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3. Beat together the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla.

4. Combine the wet with the dry and fold in the chips and nuts ( I omitted the nuts).

5. Spoon the mix in to the pan and spread it out evenly.

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (I baked for 18).

7. Place the hot pan on a wire rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

8. Cut the bars and eat them.

Happy Winter. Enjoy the soft centers and the chewy edges.

Caramel and Crumbs

Soft bites and chewy edging. Perfection. Butter meets caramel meets powdery crumb topping. The flavor expanded and spread over every taste bud and then I was hit, mentally, by a shot of satisfaction and I smiled.

I meant to save some of these edges for Josh. I’m not sure what happened.

Rewind, rewind, rewind.

She’s gotten too smart for me. No more holding my breath while putting her down for a nap, to exhale upon my feet hitting the cold kitchen floor. After she graduated from naps, I used to try to bake while she painted or set up her princess figurines, but she couldn’t go at it for very long before needing me to squirt more paint or change Tiana’s dress.

(I did let her refill her palate once. Notice I said once.)

I would level off a measuring cup or separate an egg, run to Sophie, change the dress, run back and before I could find my place in the recipe, I would be summoned once again.

No good.

I gave it up. But I found that I couldn’t give up on baking. So we work together. Note the shower caps. She likes us to wear “hats.” Oh and don’t note the dishes. I did get to those. Eventually.

I wear the orange apron and she wears the green one. I weigh and measure the ingredients and she throws them in. We may lose a touch of flour this way, but mother and daughter are not losing their minds. If the recipe is complicated, she runs off after a few steps and I finish up on my own. We’re both happy with this set-up. I get to bake and she gets to make. Yes, I said make. “Can I make with you?” Sophie asks. And she’s right. It’s never just baking or cooking, It’s a lot more.

Today we made Caramel Crumb Bars from Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker. This book is just right. I love what it features—pies, tarts, cakes, cookies, bars, pastry, and even savory tarts, pies, and breads. The photography is complimentary and I have faith that each recipe will give me a delightful product.

I chose this recipe because 1) I have the ingredients and 2) I was able to make it with a three year old. (Don’t attempt puff pastry with a toddler as your sous chef.)

We were happy with the results. And the recipe was fairly simple. And I like the idea of cookie bars. They’re rustic and pleasing and almost always appropriate. And a baker can be somewhat experimental with bars. Experimenting with different nuts and fillings and crumbs and toppings can be exhilarating. Trust me.

Caramel Crumb Bars

Dough

2 sticks of butter    1/2 cup sugar    1/4 teaspoon salt    1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

4 tablespoons unsalted butter    1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1/4 cup dark brown sugar    1 (14-ounce) can sweetened, condensed milk

Directions

1. Butter and line a 9 x 13 x 2-inch pan with buttered parchment paper.

2. Preheat the oven to 350.

3. Beat the butter with the sugar and salt at medium speed for 3 minutes.

4. Beat in 2 1/4 cup flour at the lowest speed. Scrape down the bowl a few times in the process.

5. Take 1/4 of the dough and press it into the pan. Chill the pan.

6. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour into the rest of the dough and make crumbs by rubbing the dough with the flour between your fingers.

7. Make the filling by simmering the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, and condensed milk in a medium saucepan. Stir often and cook for about 10 minutes. Pour mixture into a stainless-steel bowl and allow it to cool for 5 minutes.

8. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and pour the filling on top, spreading it evenly with a small spatula. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top.

9. Bake for about 30 minutes.

10. Place the pan on a rack and allow it to cool for 15 minutes. Cut it into bars before it cools completely.

Really?

What’s this? Gingerbread was an early baby food? That’s what I’ve read. I would cite my sources, but I’d rather be lazy now.

Just don’t tell my students.

But yes, gingerbread was given to German babies. The mothers would let it harden and then crush it into a powder and add the powder to milk or water.

How fantastic. Gingerbread does seem awfully wholesome to me—even medicinal. And what happy babies!

After I read about the gingerbread powder, I pinched off a hearty portion to accompany my morning coffee and my baby boy happily received any bits his papa had to offer.

And you can have some of this excellent stuff if you do one of two things:

1. Order it from Maddy Lu’s.

2. Follow the following recipe and bake your own.

The choice is yours. Make a good one.

This gingerbread comes from the fabulous Lynne Rossetto Kasper. She, along-with Sally Swift, includes this recipe in their book The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper.

Dark and Moist Gingerbread

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 generous teaspoon baking soda    1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves   1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted    3/4 cup mild or dark molasses

3/4 cup very hot water (190F)   1/3 tight-packed cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1. Preheat the oven top 350 F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper.

3. Beat together the butter, molasses, hot water, and brown sugar. When the mixture is almost frothy, beat in the egg and gradually add the flour blend. Stir until blended.

4. Pour batter into pan and bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

5. For a moist cake, cool in the pan on a rack. For a drier cake, cool for 10 in the pan and then turn it out of the pan and cool on a rack.

Serve this with a puff of whipped cream and  a dab of lemon curd.