Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: Dorie Time!

Happy Thanksgiving, hooray hooray hooray! The Baking Sisters had a wonderful Thanksgiving, because, for the first time since Rebecca’s son Leo was born, we are all together! Hooray hooray hooray, again! Usually when Rebecca is in New York we are prevented from eating delicious things because of time constraints, or Passover, or whatever. But as true Dorie Greenspan fans, we took this as our opportunity to go to her new store Beurre & Sel. 

The store itself is a wee little booth in the Essex Street Market. After a scrumptious lunch of grilled cheese from Saxelby Cheesemongers, we commenced the real reason for our visit to the Lower East Side. There were four notoriously un-tough taste-testers: Rebecca, Sarah, Rebecca’s son Simon (age 4) and Rebecca’s husband Adam (age 34, not a fan of chocolate). At Beurre & Sel, there were six choices of cookie, plus tubes of cookies sticking out of the wall. If you are having trouble visualizing that, here is a picture:

The cookie choices were a rose macaroon, a sable, a World Peace Cookie, a blueberry jammer, a pumpkin cookie, and some blondie thing with coconut or some crap. The coconut one was obviously out, and usually the pumpkin one would be too, but since Adam doesn’t like chocolate and wouldn’t try the World Peace cookie, we bought him the pumpkin one. (Simon isn’t picky so he would try all of them.) Here are our thoughts:

The jammer was a very pleasant surprise. It’s the sort of thing we probably wouldn’t have bought if our options had been more abundant, but it was in fact a highly tasty cookie. It was a cross between a thick linzer cookie and a coffee cake, with a slightly salty aftertaste and a delicious blueberry jam filling.

We’ve made sables a number of times, but they’ve never come out as well as these ones. They were much bigger than your average sable from Baking From My Home to Yours and tasted pretty similar, but the texture was so much better; tender without the usual crumbly action that accompanies our sables. This was Sarah’s favorite cookie at Beurre & Sel.

At last – the famous World Peace cookie! Once again, it was a lot bigger than the ones we make, but hey, more for us! It featured the well-known and well-loved mixture of sweet and salty. Considering what has been going on in the Middle East, we feel that these cookies may be more relevant than ever. This was Rebecca and Simon’s favorite cookie, and we also bought a tube of them, which were the familiar size. We also bought tubes of espresso chocolate chip, which was good but nothing to write home about (though we have sentimental attachment to them because they were the first thing we ever posted on the blog), and mint chocolate chip, which Rachel loved.

We didn’t try the pumpkin but Adam seemed to enjoy it.

So there you have it. A wonderful week of Baking Sisters fun in New York. And although we didn’t get to see Dorie, we would like to give her a shoutout for being the best! Dorie, if you are reading this, we love you!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Double Chocolate Chip Cranberry Bread: A Thanksgiving Morning Treat

One of the reasons that the baking sisters started this blog was to stay connected when I moved across the country.  However far I get away from NYC, my heart is always there and I am heart broken to watch what is going on in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  Please consider making a donation to the Red Cross, Bend the Arc or the Educational Alliance (they do lots of fabulous work on the lower east side, both to address immediate needs and find long term solutions to poverty). 

One of the best things about New York City is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and one of our family Thanksgiving traditions is to go to the parade (outside, not watching on TV or in someone's apartment like wimps) and then go home, frozen, and eat hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies.  As we got older, we were less interested in going to the parade, but the hot chocolate and cookie tradition remained.  This year, we are taking my son to the parade for the first time, and we will undoubtably need that hot chocolate and cookies afterwards.

However, if you are not as wedded to this particular tradition, this cake would make an excellent Thanksgiving morning treat.  The tart cranberries are seasonally appropriate, and they offset the sweetness of the cake nicely.  You can make it ahead and it freezes nicely, so you don't have to add it to your list of things to make on Thanksgiving day.  Also, this is technically called "bread" so you can eat it for breakfast.  You can find the recipe here on the Baking Bites blog.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What's Black and Orange and Sweet All Over?

Hi all! I'm happy to report for all those concerned (none of you) that Rachel and I are safe and sound. Those of us on the Upper West Side were fortunate not to suffer any damage from the hurricane, and now we're doing our best to help those who did. If you feel so moved, please donate to the Red Cross before reading today's post.

There were many sad things about the hurricane, one of which was that it coincided with Halloween. Luckily, Chris Christie is on it; he has, by executive order, officially proclaimed Halloween in New Jersey to be next Monday, the 5th. Here in New York, however, it was still on October 31st, which meant the slutty pumpkins were out in full force, the kids were trick-or-treating at stores along Amsterdam Avenue, and some doodoohead in our apartment building stole the entire bowl of candy we left out when none of us were home. It also meant it was time for a special Halloween edition of Baked Goods Friday at the Oxford University Press office! After many successful years of Halloween cupcakes, brownies, and Oreo cheesecakes, I knew that I needed something thematic. I had been wanting to try my hand at black-and-white cookies anyway, so I thought, AHA! What if I adapted them to make and ORANGE cookies? For black and orange are the traditional Halloween colors.

So I made a batch of the black and white cookies from Baked Explorations, but those are best not discussed (let's just say that I ran out of flour and had to substitute 1 cup of semolina for a cup of all-purpose. And that was one of the less unfortunate things I had to do. I never even bothered frosting them, though they tasted rather good, kind of like cornbread. Who knew.) Then I turned to good ole King Arthur Flour, mostly because I had all the ingredients onhand that I needed for their icing. Very scientific. Apparently black and white cookies are sometimes called half-moon cookies, which for some reason seems unbelievably goyische. Anyway, it was pretty straightforward. The cookies came out nice and cakey, which as everyone knows is the main criteria by which a good black and white cookie must be judged. The frosting never really hardened; I don't know that it was supposed to but that's really one of my favorite parts of your typical New York deli black-and-white. Also, the white (I mean orange) frosting didn't taste that good. Maybe it was the dyes from the frosting - Wilton burgundy mixed with Wilton yellow - but it had a bit of chemical aftertaste. Oh well, I guess that's what you get when you choose a frosting based on the ingredients that are already in your cabinet. The chocolate, however, was delicious, and they were both very easy to spread. Of course they came apart in between Amsterdam Avenue and the office, as cookies tend to do, but they were still a big hit at the office. You can find the recipe here.

P.S. If you were looking for an answer to the riddle in the title of this post, it was Halloween. Yes. Halloween. AahOOOOOOOH! 
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