Tag Archives: baking

Desserts in Jars: A Winning Cookbook

 

When Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats that Shine by blogger Shaina Olmanson landed in my mailbox, my first reaction, quite frankly, was to roll my eyes. Come on. Can’t we make really good desserts without relying on gimmicks like cakes on sticks and pies in jars?

But after sitting down with this new cookbook, I’m pretty much wowed. Published by the highly regarded Harvard Common Press, Desserts in Jars boasts gorgeous photos, and clearly written text. The recipes for cupcakes, frozen treat, pies and the like are straightforward and easy to follow. Read more on Huffington Post.

 

 

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e.e. cookies: Moist and Rich and Made on the Upper West Side

Chocolate cookies

Photo: e.e. cookies

I rarely buy cookies. That’s because I try to find the time to make my own.  Not surprisingly, I customize them to my liking.  Like I put double the amount of chocolate chips—make that 70 percent dark chocolate chunks—in my version of that classic cookie.

But often, I’m too busy to bake, so I buy.  My usual go-to packaged cookie is Tate’s, with its buttery finish and crisp, crunchy bite.

Recently, I got to sample e.e. cookies, a line of home-style desserts, made by Kori Stanton, an Upper West Side mother of two. (See ratings below)

Stanton explains that e. e. stands for the first initial of her daughter’s first and middle names. She also has a five-year old son, who may get some treats named after him soon.

“I’m going to have to figure out something for him,” the Indiana native says. “He’s starting to wonder why his name isn’t involved.”

About Those Cookies

If you’re a soft cookie fan, these treats deserve some serious consideration. If you’re after a dainty morsel to satisfy your sweet tooth, look elsewhere. These babies are rotund and rich, with a nice buttery-butterscotchy finish. And e.e. cookies are not cloyingly sweet. They taste like they’re made for grown-ups.

Stanton uses cage free eggs, raw sugar and unbleached flour, according to the e.e. cookies web site. She lards her cookies with sweet bits that include Reese’s Pieces, dried blueberries, walnuts, and vanilla bean shavings.

Do these cookies taste like homemade?  Of course not. But they’re very nice to have around the house when the cookie urge hits, and great with a cup of tea.

Our panel of tasters: Yours Truly, Yours Truly’s Hubby, and Chef Renee Marton.

TOP PICK: Old-fashioned Chocolate Chip

Definitely my favorite. Lots of chips and a buttery after-finished. Soft and moist.

TOP PICK: Peanut Butter

“Your mouth will be glued to the taste!” e.e. Cookie’s web site proclaims. I have to sort of agree with this—and I’m not at all a peanut butter cookie fan.  These were delicious and actually tasted of peanut butter—a rare occurrence, in my experience, when it comes to almost any peanut butter confection.

Triple Chocolate Chip with Pecans

The web site says there are “2 ½ pounds of dark, milk and semi-sweet Ghirardelli chocolate and pecans” in this cookie. The Hubby and I loved how rich and buttery these were, but we couldn’t find the nuts.

Oatmeal with Dried Cranberries, Blueberries and Walnuts.

“A burst of flavor!” says the web site.  That’s for sure.  Was there any 0atmeal in this zoftic treat shaped more like a matzoh ball than a cookie?  I couldn’t say.  The taste of cinnamon and nutmeg was frankly overwhelming. These were the sweetest of all the e.e. cookies we tasted.  For Chef Renee, on the other hand, the oatmeal cookies were a definite standout.  “I like a heavily spiced cookie,” she said, adding that in the 19th century it was customary for bakers to load up their cookies with lots of spices. “Cookies weren’t bland like they are now.”

Dark Chocolate Chunks with Dried Cherries

I’m not a dried fruit fan, especially in my cookies. But if you are, these are larded with pieces of dried cherry and quite chocolatey. The Hubby complained they were a bit dry.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut with Dried Cherries

Weirdly, given the brightly flavored ingredients that went into making these cookies, they were a bit on the bland side. Hubby and I both rated them our least favorite. Chef Renee really liked them. 

Order e.e. cookies here.

 

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Christmas Cookies: Recipes, Bakeries and Mail Order

Christmas cookies. Photo by By seelensturm via flickr.

I use to bake Christmas cookies when my daughter was young. Then I got out of the habit. But maybe this year, I’ll make some. There are so many great sources for recipes that it’s hard not to find something that will wow your family and friends.

And there are even online helpers like expert baker and cookbook author Nick Malgieri, who offers tips for making perfect–ok, almost-perfect–cookies. Make sure, for example, that you have all the ingredients before you start. Duh! But who hasn’t taken a quick look at their jar of cinnamon only to discover that it actually contains only one micro-gram of the stuff. Panic ensues. Not good for the cookies. Or for the holiday spirit.

Here are some recipe sites. If you prefer to let a local baker make your cookies for you, check out my post from last year about Upper West Side bakeries and their offerings. And, then, of course, there’s mail order. There’s lots of choices there too. But hurry. Christmas is coming soon!

Have favorite Christmas cookie sources of your own? Let me know what they are and I’ll post them.

Christmas/Holiday Cookie Recipes:

Tips for Baking Great Holiday Cookies

Order Your Christmas Cookies Online

  • Cooks Illustrated has compiled a list of about a dozen mail order sources, including Harry and David and Dean and Deluca.  Click here for the entire list.
  • With New Yorkers in the midst of an infatuation with southern cooking, why not order from “Bon Appetit, Y’all” cookbook author and chef Virginia Willis’ Southern Pantry. She’s got pecan brownies. And you can always order some grits, too.Order  at www.virginiawillis.com
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