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Thursday
Jul082010

The Perfect Sugar Cookie

 

Ok. So we are really tired of arguing with everyone the merits of the crunchy cookie (um, buttery crisp flavor amazingness accompanied by the satisfying and audible crackling in your mouth) versus those of the soft, chewy cookie (there are no redeeming qualities).

We know, we know. But really, you can’t convince us. We are steadfast.

Well, ok, so cookie dough is technically soft and we do love raw cookie dough. And, gooey, melty, under-cooked chocolate chip cookies are somewhat fantastic...hmmm...dilemma...

But, wait!! Flash of genius. What if we had a way to combine our cookie’s crusty goodness with the downy deliciousness of a soft cookie?!?! Yes! It can be done! And, frenemies the world over will be thanking us for, let’s face it, basically solving the peace crisis and bringing people (and people-like dogs) together at last.

The Perfect Sugar Cookie
Makes 20 cookies
Adapted from 125 Cookies to Bake, Nibble and Savor

Print Recipe

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup of cold vegetable shortening
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 large, cold egg
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 350° F and line two heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.

Place the vegetable shortening and 1 cup of the sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg, corn syrup, vanilla and almond extracts and blend on a low speed until combined. Make certain to scrap down the sides of the bowl periodically during this mixing.

On a low speed, add the flour mixture to the shortening, sugar and egg mixture, until it is all incorporated and the dough comes together though is still slightly sticky.

If you want at this point, you can refrigerate the dough to firm it up a bit, though it’s not completely necessary.

For each cookie, roll 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball and coat with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar to coat them. Coarser sugar might also work here and look great on these cookies. Place the dough balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake each pan about 11 minutes total or until the sides of the cookies are a golden brown but the centers remain pale. If needed, turn the baking sheets while cooking to ensure consistent baking.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheets and remove to wire racks after 5 minutes to cool completely.

 

Monday
Jul052010

Raspberry Pistachio Brown Butter Babycakes

You know what sounds adorably delicious? Babycakes. Raspberry Pistachio Brown Butter Babycakes. Oh yes. We had to make them. Just had to. We have weakness for adorable sounding baked goods (who doesn't really?).

Plus, pistachios are delicious. And Demerara sugar in its caramel-y, crunchy goodness isn't so hard to love either.


Oh and also - we really enjoy shopping. Bonus when it's shoe shopping. Double bonus when it's shiny new pan shopping. Any recipe that suggets using 4-inch springform pans just calls out to our sweet retail-loving souls.

And now we own these cute little pans. Babycakes for everyone!

Raspberry-Pistachio Brown Butter Babycakes
Makes 4 4-inch cakes or 1 9-inch cake
Adapted from The Craft of Baking

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, plus more for the pan
2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup pistachio flour (see note)
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 large egg whites
1 cup fresh raspberries
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar

To make 1 cup of pistachio flour, grind 1 cup unsalted pistachios with 1 tablespoon flour in a food processor until fine.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until light brown and slightly nutty smelling, 6-8 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar, pistachio flour, cake flour, and salt. Add in the egg whites and whisk to combine. Slowing adding in the strained brown butter, whisking constantly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until it thickens up – at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter 4 4-inch springform pans. Note: To make one large cake, use a 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Pour the chilled batter into the buttered springform pans. Sprinkle raspberries over the top, keeping the fruit 1 inch in from the edge of the pans. Sprinkle the cakes with the Demerara sugar.

Place the pans on a large baking sheet and bake until the edges of the cake are golden and the top is slightly springy to the touch, 23-25 minutes (if you’re using 1 9 inch tart pan it will take 35-40 minutes). Transfer the cakes to a wire rack, removing the outer rings of the pans, and let cool.

The babycakes are best eaten warm or at room temperature the day they’re made, but can keep covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Thursday
Jul012010

Maple Oatmeal Pecan Scones

 

We love Starbucks. We love everything about Starbucks. We love the way coffee smells waft out of the door in the winter begging you to warm up inside. We love the way the overly cold air conditioning pours out of the door in the summer making a hot city day slightly more bearable. We love the smooth white cups with the sophisticated mermaid logo. We love the super friendly baristas (ok, so one of us was one of them in darker times in San Francisco, but that doesn’t make us biased). We love the coffee too. Mostly the least-coffee-y drinks they make, but those count, right?

But, more than anything though, we love the Maple Oat scones.

It was a sad, sad day in Starbucks when our local outpost stopped making the beloved Maple Oat Scones. And, even now, you can rarely find a Starbucks with this perfect pastry (at least not in Boston or New York). It’s terrible. It’s tragic! Maple Oat Scones….Nooooooo!!

Yes, our lives are very melodramatic.

 

Being resourceful blue-eyed blonds, however, we decided to pick ourselves up from the depths of despair and make our own version of Maple scones.

You know what? They are pretty freaking divine. 

Next thing you know we’ll be making coffee at home too. Yipes!

Maple Oatmeal Pecan Scones
Makes 14 extra-large scones
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

Print Recipe

For the scones:
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats (not old-fashioned)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 ½ cups lightly toasted pecans, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, diced
2 teaspoons maple extract½ cup cold buttermilk
½ cup pure maple syrup
4 eggs cold, extra-large eggs 

For the frosting:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
5 teaspoons of cream or half and half
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon maple extract
2 cups powdered sugar
Demerara or Turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw) for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flours, oats, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Gradually add in the cold butter at the lowest speed and mix until the butter is in pea-sized-ish pieces. This may take a minute or two.

Combine the maple extract, buttermilk, maple syrup, and eggs (make sure they are beaten well) and add quickly to the flour-and-butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough is going to be very sticky.

Dump the dough onto a very well-floured surface. Extensively flour your hands and the rolling pin. Roll out the dough to ¾ inch thickness. You will see large pieces of butter in the dough. Cut the dough into 3-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter (or you can cut the dough into 2 ½ inch squares if you don’t have a cutter just make sure your knife is well-floured) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are crisp and the insides are done.

Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.

To make the frosting, melt the butter in a medium bowl. Add in the maple syrup, cream (or half and half) and extracts. Gradually start to add in the powdered sugar, stirring after a few additions to smooth out the frosting. Keep stirring because the frosting will look thicker when you first add the powdered sugar and will thin out as you mix. Continue to add the powdered sugar until you are happy with the consistency. We liked about 2 cups.

Generously frost each scone and sprinkle with Demerara sugar for looks.

Sunday
Jun272010

Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Ok let’s play a game.  Yay games.  This one is called word association.  No no it’s fun.  Ok go. 

Chocolate chips?  Cookies.  Apple?  Pie.  Carrots?  Cake.  Oh we mean salad…mmm mmm vegetables.  Buttermilk?  Lemon cake.  Well lemon cake and biscuits – but this post is about the lemon cake so…buttermilk?  Lemon cake!

Wow that was a fun game.  We’re all fun-ed out.  Utterly exhausted on fun.  We deserve a treat for all that fun-having and game-playing.  Buttermilk lemon cake?  Yes please.


It’s so soft!  And fluffy!  You know what that is?  That’s the buttermilk doing wonders is what.  And that crunchy, tangy crust?  That’s the lemon glaze getting all up in that buttermilk cake’s grill.  No no, in the best way possible.  We promise. 


So go have more fun and then go make this cake.


Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Print Recipe

3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
5 eggs
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons lemon juice

For Glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons lemon juice 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, sift together flour and baking soda and set aside. 

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar and mix until blended and fluffy – about 2 minutes.  Add eggs and lemon rind and continue to mix until blended.  Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating each addition with the buttermilk.  Stop and scrape down sides of bowl if necessary.  Lastly, mix in lemon juice.

Pour the batter into a well greased and floured bundt pan.  Bake for 55 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. 

Allow cake to cool in pan for five minutes.  While cake cools, make glaze by combining sugar and lemon juice and mixing.  Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and brush with the lemon glaze. 

*Note: Make sure you use all the glaze mixture.  You might need to glaze in a few batches to allow the cake to absorb the liquid, but use it all…it makes such a difference to the flavor of the cake.

Friday
Jun252010

The Blue-Eyed Bakers' Chocolate Chip Cookie

Well hi there. We are positively thrilled you’re here. Tickled pink really. Honestly, we can’t tell you how happy we are that you stopped by.

Stay awhile, put your feet up! 

Are you hungry?  You must be! Would you like a cookie?

Of course you would – it’s a cookie! Who says no to a cookie? Not on this blog. Milk? There you go.

It’s good right? Delicious! Oh thank you! We feel the same way.

Another one? You bet. Who says no to another cookie? Not on this blog.

Done?  Take one for the road.  Oh you’re welcome! 

You’ll stop by again right?  Of course there will be more…we’re bakers.  What’s that?  Well, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see… 

See you back here soon.  Yes yes, very soon.

The Blue-Eyed Bakers’ Chocolate Chip Cookies

Print Recipe

1 stick unsalted butter, cold & cubed
1 stick margarine, cold & cubed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table or fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped or chips
1 cup milk chocolate, chopped or chips

In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until well blended and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until well incorporated.

Into the bowl, add the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips/chunks.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap & chill dough for at least an hour.

While the dough is chilling, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Scoop out 2 oz balls of dough and place each on sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Bake 15-20 minutes on a rack in the upper third of the oven until lightly browned.  (Be sure not to bake these on the bottom rack in the oven – the recipe has a large amount of brown sugar that could cause the bottoms to burn).

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