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life as an aspiring amateur
No, it’s not Christmastime. Yes, these cookies include nutmeg. No, I don’t really care that these are not seasonally appropriate. Because yes, they are one of the most amazing cookies you will ever eat.
Like, they are in my top five favorite cookies. If that was a real list, because I haven’t even thought about it except to include these. And these, maybe.
They are my aunt’s recipe, and they always remind me of her. At least, they will always remind me of her, when I make these every year from this point on in my life. It’s not like she’s dead or anything. I suppose that would increase the nostalgia. This recipe will only get more warm and fuzzy for me, I can feel it.
Apply gold dust. I used freshly grated nutmeg for a change, and I was really pleased.
Please remember these for your to-do list next November. You will not be disappointed.
Adapted slightly from my auntie’s recipe
Makes about 5 dozen cookies
1 cup (2 sticks, 16 tablespoons) butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons imitation rum extract (or rum???)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg (or not fresh)
For the frosting:
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon imitation rum extract
2 cups powdered sugar
nutmeg for sprinkling
Cream together the butter and white sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla and rum flavoring. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour and ground nutmeg, mixing until fully incorporated.
Shape the dough into long rolls about 1/2″ in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while the oven preheats.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and slice the logs into 2″ slices and flatten slightly, so they look like logs. I had troubles with this because I am silly, so I shaped my cookies into tiny disks. You can really make them whatever shape you like.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are set and you think you might possibly see a shade of brown at the edges. Let cool on a rack. Beat together the frosting ingredients and spread a little on each cookie, sprinkling each with nutmeg.
So, welcome to this week, when I finally catch you up on things I baked at Christmastime. Consider it a late gift from me. Or a really early gift. Or just a random gift, which is never a bad thing. Remember RAKs from middle school? Random Acts of Kindness?
Nice idea, usually lame execution in middle school. “Sure, I’ll sharpen your pencil for you. RAK for the day, CHECK.”
Now that I’m an adult, I can do more with the whole idea. Like go big on this bread pudding. I mean, I’m not sending you to an all-inclusive in Fiji this Wednesday, but it’s better than carrying your trapper keeper, amirite?
I have many bread puddings in the archives. This one is standout because of the sauce. The white chocolate sauce. Get in it.
White Chocolate Bread Pudding
Adapted from Serious Eats
For the bread pudding:
9 ounces crusty, day-old French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup (about 2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
4 large yolks
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the sauce:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
Grease an 8-inch square pan with non-stick spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F. Put the bread cubes in the greased pan.
In medium saucepan whisk milk, cream, and sugar to combine. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until scalding. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted and smooth. Let sit to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
In large bowl, whisk egg yolks and egg to combine. Slowly whisk in warm milk mixture to combine. Whisk in vanilla.
Pour mixture over the bread cubes into prepared pan, pressing down with hands until all the bread cubes are soaked to the max. Bake until just set, about 25 minutes. Let cool about 15 minutes before serving.
To make the sauce, heat the cream in a small saucepan until it is just simmering. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted and smooth. Garnish the bread pudding with the sauce and pomegranate arils or other fruit.
So I know brunch is brunch is brunch, right? Everyone loves this marvelous mash-up meal. Sleep in, brunch your way into the afternoon, then consider a nap. Take it, friends. Take the nap. It’s Sunday, Sabbath-day.
Not to mention the fact that the food is everything anyone ever cared about combined into one meal. Mimosas at any hour + every amazing sweet breakfast pastry + a salad if you feel like it. My three main food groups.
But in L.A., I feel like people really love brunch. Like, it is a regular, glamorous thing that people do. Maybe more so than in the Midwest. I try and do brunch as often as possible on my own terms, like this recent one which included a pannekoeken/dutch baby. (I had been waiting to try one forever. They really are a cinch to make, and they look so impressive, all puffed up like a pastry peacock.)
But omword did I really enjoy a few restaurant brunches while on vaca. Including:
Ranunculus and San Pellegrino (because this is L.A.) and a prosciutto and Gruyère croissant.
And even this bread pudding. I know. Just stop.
And once even crepes, my true love.
But always coffee.
Statement of the hour: One great thing about being gluten-free is that you don’t have to be chocolate-free.
Can I get a holler on that?
I’m not gluten-free, but I have friends that are, and I would feel significantly worse for them if chocolate contained gluten. This recipe contains it AND peanut butter AND muffins, which are two other items that needn’t cause coeliacs regret.
These muffins are a wonder. While not the most traditionally fluffy of muffins, they are extremely moist and flavorful. I was pleasantly surprised–even if I hadn’t underbaked them, I know they wouldn’t have been dry. Plus, I can’t think of anything easier than grinding a few ingredients in a blender to taste (you can play with the sweetener, flavorings, salt, etc.).
The maple flavoring is optional, as are the chocolate chips. But let’s be honest, when are the chocolate chips ever optional?
Fabulous food styling by Carica. Endless obsession with chocolate chips on my table by Lauren.
Flourless PB Banana Maple Muffins
Adapted from Averie Cooks
1 medium ripe banana, peeled
1 large egg
heaping 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used half vanilla and half maple extract)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch salt
heaping 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
I get more use out of this skillet than a lumberjack gets out of an ax.
Which reminds me, I’m kind of sad that winter is over. I mean, not really, given the polar vortexes and whatnot. (I wish they were called ‘polar vorti’ in plural like octopus/octopi.) But kind of, because people are more attractive in the winter. All the girls get more fair, and all the boys bulk up like 10 pounds because of their puffy jackets. Maybe this thought is just an overly optimistic mind trying to get the best of winter, but what does it really matter anymore?
Winter is over, which means it is practically summer, which means s’mores. So here you are.
Crush, mix, layer, bake, snarf. Because, I’m sorry, but look at the toasted marshmallows.
Here’s to all you seasonally attractive folks.
S’mores Skillet Pie
Adapted slightly from Tasty Kitchen
1 stick (8 tablespoons) softened butter
½ cups white sugar
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking powder
7 ounces marshmallow creme
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup marshmallows
¼ cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F, and spray a 9″ cast iron skillet or pie pan with baking spray.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until combined, then add the egg and vanilla, beating until combined. Stir in the flour, graham cracker crumbs and baking powder.
Divide the dough in half. Press half the dough in the bottom and up the sides of the prepared skillet. Evenly spread the Marshmallow Creme over the bottom crust. Sprinkle 1 1/4 cups of the chocolate chips over the creme, then place one cup of the marshmallows on top.
Using the remaining crust, pat sections of dough on top of and around all the marshmallows. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup chocolate chips. Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove skillet from oven and set it on a wire rack. Cool completely before cutting.