Samoa Bars

In my reader, I have amassed quite a collection of blog posts and recipes that I’m dying to try. Unfortunately, that collection grows by the day and I can’t quite keep up. Also, when a stroke of inspiration strikes, there’s no guarantee that an appropriate recipe is already sitting in my files so I go off hunting the internet and alas the list of recipes never gets shorter.

This week, however, I was determined.

After much hemming and hawing, I finally settled on this recipe. Browned butter, chocolate, coconut, and the namesake of the hands-down best Girl Scouts cookie out there. What could go wrong? Nothing, I tell you, nothing. These bars are an exercise in moderation they’re so delicious. They can single-handedly bring a diet crashing down with the first bite of wonderful. The only thing I would change would be to do some kind of caramel drizzle over them to really get the quintessential samoa experience.

I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Samoa Bars
adapted from honey & jam

Makes one 8×8″ pan.

Ingredients

  • 10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 1/4 c sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 c bittersweet chocolate chips

Ingredients
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 baking dish with aluminum foil.

Brown the butter in a pan over high heat. To do this, stand very close by and wait until it begins to change color and smell nutty. Take off the flame and allow the butter to cool for a few minutes until just warm. Combine with the brown and granulated sugars in a large bowl. Add in the egg, vanilla, and salt and stir with a wooden spoon. Slowly add in the flour, coconut, and chocolate chips until the flour just disappears. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top over. Bake 25-30 minutes. The center will still be soft but avoid overbaking. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Clearly I was too eager to wait for these babies to cool.

Have you taken childhood favorites and changed them up?

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Bailey’s Cheesecake

My brother’s birthday was last week and when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for it, he had two words.

“Cheesecake” and “Alcohol.”

The alcohol part I understood. He’s young (23 years to be exact), hip, and just beginning the 3-year road on the way to being a lawyer. Of course he’d want alcohol for his birthday! But cheesecake? Even my mom was surprised. My brother has never enjoyed cheesecake, has never asked for a slice of cheesecake even when we, as a family, have one in the house. He always passes.

So why the change of heart this time?

We celebrated his birthday on Sunday and his finalized request for cake was delivered to me Saturday evening at 5pm so I didn’t really have time to argue with him about whether or not he’d even like his birthday cake. I needed to grocery shop, bring ingredients to room temperature, and bake and chill a whole cheesecake for lunchtime Sunday!

But when we sat down to scarf down this wonderful cheesecake, he told us that two nights before (Friday) he had gone out to dinner and tried out a Bailey’s cheesecake (coincidental that I picked the same alcohol) and realized that he didn’t mind cheesecake so much. He liked dense, rich cheesecakes.

Uh oh.

This was not a dense cheesecake. And the one he tried on Friday was by a friend of a friend who owned a bakery. Could mine live up to it?

Oh blog world friends it did! It carried the flavor of Bailey’s without tasting like hard alcohol, beautifully balanced by the sweet mini chocolate chips and Oreo crust. It was light and airy, owing to my beating the filling like no one’s business and my straining of it at the end, and my brother liked it! The texture was silky smooth and the crust crunchy. Every bite was the perfect bite.

My brother who doesn’t like cheesecakes liked it, going so far to say that it topped the one he had tried two days ago. I don’t think he could have hoped for better.

Even my 93-year-old grandmother who I’ve never seen drink even a drop of alcohol liked it. That’s gotta say something!

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake
adapted from yumsugar

Ingredients
For crust:

  • 1/2 c pecans, toasted, cooled, and crushed (400F for 15 minutes or until fragrant)
  • 2 c Oreo crumbs (scrape out the filling)
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted

For filling:

  • 2 1/4 lb cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 c sugar
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c Bailey’s Original Irish Cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c mini chocolate chips

For topping:

  • 1 c heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • 1/3 c confectioner’s sugar

Instructions
For crust, Preheat oven to 325F. Mix all ingredients in a medium sized bowl until moistened. Press into the bottom and up the sides (as much as you can) of a 10″ spring form pan. Don’t pack it down too hard or it will be impossible to cut the finished crust. Bake 7-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, for the filling, Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed 3-5 minutes or until very smooth. Gradually add in the sugar followed by the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. Add in the Bailey’s and vanilla and beat another minute or two. At this point, my filling was still a bit lumpy so I strained it quickly before moving on.

Sprinkle half of the chocolate chips over the baked crust. Spoon in filling then sprinkle with remaining chips. Place onto a baking sheet or roasting pan filled partially with warm water. Bake at 325F for 1 hour 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Turn off oven and crack the oven door open, allowing the cake to cool in the oven a bit for 20-30 minutes before removing and chilling in the refrigerator overnight.

For serving, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the coffee and sugar and beat until stiff peaks. Taste and adjust accordingly.

You can garnish the cake with chocolate curls or toffee bits but I was pretty happy as it was already.

The aftermath. Not so pretty but definitely yummy!

Are you a fan of alcohol and baking?

Pig Cake

I have been ridiculously MIA from blogging this past week. As we approach the end of an era (my formal education years), it’s getting quite hectic and I’m trying desperately to spend as much time with my family and friends as possible before my job (JOB! WOOHOO!) starts in June and I move away (not far away but away) and spend sleepless nights at the hospital.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Match Day, or the day all graduating medical students across the country find out where they’ll be working this coming year, was this past Thursday. It was nerve wracking, anxiety inducing, makes-you-need-to-pee-and-want-to-vomit-all-at-the-same-time, and all around torture. But we all got through it. I got my number 2 choice in New York if you’re all wondering. I’m quite happy. Boy is too (he also got his number 2, also in New York, but different institution).

To celebrate, I quickly whipped up this Pig Cake before we all went out for an evening of bad decisions. It was everything I wanted to be. Very few ingredients, meaning less time at the grocery store, whipped up in a matter of minutes, meaning more time hanging out, and tasted wonderfully. Also, it was a single layer cake, perfect for large crowds and for even less kitchen fuss. The cake itself was moist and light and just a bit tropical tasting with the addition of mandarin oranges. The topping was a pure dream. It, too, was light and fluffy with scrumptious chunks of pineapple. The whole cake was sweet but not too sweet and fit in perfectly for the joyous occasion. This will definitely be made again and again without hesitation. I don’t know why exactly it’s called Pig Cake (PW doesn’t either) but I can only surmise that it’s because it’s so incredibly delicious you can’t help but be a little piggy eating more and more!

Sorry there’s only one picture! I was too busy drinking champagne.

Pig Cake
adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

For cake:

  • 1 box Yellow Cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 14 oz can of mandarin oranges, drained, 1/2 c juice reserved
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For topping:

  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 20 oz can of crushed pineapple, drained, juice reserved
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 4 oz Cool Whip
  • extra mandarin oranges for garnish, optional

Instructions
For cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9×13″ baking pan.

Using an electric mixer, combine cake mix, butter, reserved juice, eggs, and vanilla on medium-high (start out slow to prevent cake mix from flying everywhere) for 4 minutes. Add oranges and beat until they are broken up into small pieces. Pour into prepared pan and bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and set. Cool completely.

For topping: Mix together vanilla pudding mix and reserved juice. Add powdered sugar followed by the whipped topping, mixing to combine. Stir in pineapple. Spread on cooled cake and refrigerate several hours before serving. Serve with extra mandarin oranges if desired.

What’s your reason to celebrate this week?

PB Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

This is the biggest week in my medical school career.

On Thursday, I find out where I am employed for the next four years of my life, where I will make my lifelong connections, where I will train to be the best possible physician I can be. At noon, my entire class will open our envelops containing the destination we’ve worked so hard to get to for the past four years. We’ll find out how far away we’ll be leaving one another. There will be tears of happiness and tears of sadness.

The thought of it makes me want to vomit.

Which is where this cookie cake comes in!

From the moment I saw this on Ellie’s blog, I knew I’d be making it in a time of turmoil. It looked comforting, inviting, and warm. And after all was said and done and I was eating my first slice, I knew it was exactly what I needed. The butterflies in my stomach vanished for a moment as I filled it instead with chocolate, peanut butter, and marshmallow goodness. How could I be stressed with a mouthful of what tastes like unbaked cookie dough?

Unfortunately, in my moment of need last night I polished off more of the cake than I anticipated. I’m not sure how I’m going to tide my nerves between now and Thursday now!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake
adapted from Almost Bourdain

Makes 1 9″ cake.

Ingredients

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 c smooth peanut butter
  • 1 c lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 c chocolate chips (I used 60% cacao)
  • 1 c minimarshmallows

Instructions
Preheat oven to 355F. Grease and line a 9″ circular cake pan. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla for 1-2 minutes or until well combined. Add in egg and beat another minute on medium speed, scraping down sides as needed. Switching to low speed, mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and marshmallows with a spatula. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan before running knife around edge. Then cool in pan for at least 4 hours before turning out and serving.

 

What kind of week are you having?

Olive Oil and Coconut Brownies

Let me tell you about these brownies.

They taste like olive oil.

Now, many recipes tout ingredients in their titles that don’t always play a huge role in the flavor category. This one doesn’t. These actually taste like olive oil with some surrounding chocolate and a helping of coconut. So if you don’t like any of those ingredients, I’m sorry but these are probably not the brownies for you.

However, if you do like any (or all) of the above ingredients, you’re going to love these! I happen to be one of those people who could (did? I’m not telling!) eat these in spoonfuls out of the pan, who finds the flavor combination both sublime and addicting. The only real problem for me is that they’re not super awesome washed down with a glass of cold milk. Milk and olive oil? Not the best duo. But olive oil and chocolate and coconut with a few grains of salt? Oh baby, come to mama!

This Week I Ate..

  • Eats Well With Others’ Chicken Enchiladas with Mashed Plantains. After a slightly panicked text message, I was reassured in replacing the red chiles with 3 chipotle peppers (with accompanying adobo sauce) and Boy and I could not love this dish any more. It was the perfect amount of spicy and the queso fresco on top completely won us over. (I used an entire 12 oz block). I wish I still had leftovers.

Olive Oil and Coconut Brownies
adapted from NY Times

Makes 16-25 brownies, depending on how you cut them.

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c + 1 tbsp water, boiling
  • 1 oz unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate (I used 72%), finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 c + 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 heaping tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 60%), coarsely chopped
  • 1 c shredded sweetened coconut
  • extra kosher salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8″ baking pan with foil and grease lightly with extra olive oil. Set aside.

Whisk together cocoa powder with boiling water until smooth. Add 1 oz unsweetened/bittersweet chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk in olive oil. Whisk in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add in sugar and whisk until completely incorporated. Switch to a spatula and fold in flour and salt until just mixed. Fold in coarsely chopped chocolate.

Pour half of the batter into the pan and smooth over. Sprinkle half the coconut over the batter. Then, in big spoonfuls, plop the rest of the batter over top the coconut and smooth over (it’s okay if it’s not perfect). Sprinkle with the remaining coconut and a good dose of sprinkling salt. Bake 25-30 minutes or until just set. Disregard the tester in this case because it won’t come out clean. Allow to cool completely on a rack.

This has been submitted to Sweets for a Saturday!

Coconut Half-Pound Cake

In all my “carpe diem”-ing, I took a small trip down to Philadelphia this past weekend to visit a friend from school who recently moved there. And, as per my usual, I decided the morning of to bake something. Anything, so long as it was good.

I took a quick survey of my kitchen and found leftover shredded coconut and not much else. After a quick Google search, this cake was it. And I’m so glad it was because it was a definite hit among my two girlfriend and myself as we polished off half of it that afternoon. Luckily, we have large enough stomachs that it didn’t spoil our dinner. I threw in a touch of almond extract at the last minute and was told that the addition made the cake. A tender crumb, moist coconut, and the delicious idea of sprinkling some vanilla sugar over top all made the perfect afternoon snack.

Unfortunately, in all the rush, I neglected to take pictures of the cake slices. Trust me that it was delicious. Also, had I taken pictures of the inside, you’d have seen little flecks of vanilla bean because the original recipe called for it. The end result, however, didn’t exactly showcase the vanilla so I omitted that in the recipe below. If you opt out of the almond extract you may find the vanilla bean flavor present but I love the almond and coconut combination.

Note: I call this a half-pound cake because the eggs and butter are only half a pound and not the classic pound. I also think it’s a cuter title this way.

Coconut Half-Pound Cake
adapted from the Naptime Chef

Makes 1 9×5″ loaf.

Ingredients

  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • heaping 1 c sweetened shredded coconut, divided
  • vanilla sugar

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9×5″ loaf and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs approximately one egg at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed after each addition. Add extracts and combine. On low speed, slowly add in the flour until just incorporated. Fold in 3/4 c coconut with a spatula. Pour into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, sprinkle remaining coconut and a good helping of vanilla sugar over loaf and continue baking another 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Cool completely. Eat, eat, eat!

S’mores Bars

I apologize for the lack of posting this week but I’ve been doing a lot of carpe diem lately. This past week I went to the NY Wine Expo (and became a hot mess), watched the Knicks v. Heat game on Sunday while eating wings (yum), shopped for snowgear (but didn’t buy anything), and ate out a grand total of five times. Also I saw the King’s Speech, 127 Hours, and Tangled. All of which were fabulous. (If you want my opinion, while I thought King’s Speech was good, I didn’t think it should have won Best Picture but that’s the Academy for you!)

And all this time I’ve been working.

So there hasn’t been much time for baking or blogging (my Reader is out of control at the moment). But there has been time for these bars because they took all of 10 minutes to throw together! They were delicious to boot. Who can resist the classic s’mores combination? I have to say the chocolate was a little bit too sweet for my taste though. Next time I may try bittersweet chocolate or even unsweetened (the condensed milk adds a lot of sugar). These were easy, quick, and perfect for any sort of gathering. (Except I ate all of them on my own but shhhhhhh don’t tell!)

This Week I Ate..

  • Smitten Kitchen’s Sour Cream Pancakes. These were wonderful! Tangy and fluffy, perfect for dousing in maple syrup with a side of strawberries. A solid breakfast is always best way to start my day.
  • Curry Creamed Chicken with Couscous Salad. I used to make this all the time when I first started living on my own but my need for variety and the staggering amount of good recipes I have yet to try have prevented me from making it the past few years. I revisited my old favorite and can only say that I usually double the cream sauce because it’s so delicious. This dish comes together in under 20 minutes and it’s great for a weeknight meal (and fairly healthy too besides the cream).
  • Annie’s Eats Chicken Ranch Pizza. There was a sale on fresh pizza dough at my local supermarket this week so I stocked up and made a bunch of pizza. This is one of my favorite pizzas ever! I’ve made it at least half a dozen times now and Boy can’t get enough.
  • Chicken BBQ pizza. With my extra pizza dough I just threw on about 1/4 c barbecue sauce (hickory smoked), 3/4 c shredded mozzarella, caramelized red onion, and cooked chicken, and called it a day. Simple but delicious just the same.

S’mores Bars
adapted from Williams Sonoma, seen on Annie’s Eats

Makes 16 or 1 8×8″ square pan.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c graham cracker crumbs (approximately 6-7 graham crackers)
  • 3/4 c sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/3 c semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c mini marshmallows
  • 2 whole graham crackers
  • extra butter to grease the pan

Instructions
Line an 8×8″ baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly grease with extra butter. (I found it easier to grease the foil first and then place in the pan.

Using a fork, mix melted butter with graham cracker crumbs until evenly moistened. Pour into the bottom of the pan and press into an even layer. (I used the bottom of a glass.)

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the condensed milk and chocolate chips. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Quickly pour the mixture over the graham cracker base and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle marshmallows over the chocolate and gently press them in so they are anchored. Break up the whole graham crackers and insert between the marshmallows.

Cover and refrigerate about 4 hours or until firm. Cut into bars and serve cool.

When was the last time you carpe diem’d?

DB – Panna Cotta and Florentine Cookies

There’s something about the term panna cotta that makes me think of some fancy restaurant dessert. I imagine candlelight, soft romantic music in the background, a waiter attentive to my every move, and a check that makes me thankful I’m not paying.

So when panna cotta was this month’s DB challenge, I was a little bit apprehensive – until I read the actual recipe! It’s even easier than making its down-home counterpart chocolate pudding. The whole thing was whipped up and in my fridge in a quick 15 minutes. And, let me tell you, it tasted wonderful. Creamy, chocolate-y, and with a tiny adaptation of adding the zest of an orange to the cream, it had a little something extra.

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada de Laurentis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

(I did not include the cookie recipe in this post, please see Mallory’s blog for that. I made a similar cookie for my Lace Cannolis last month though!)

Chocolate Panna Cotta
adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 4-6, depending on size.

Ingredients

  • 1 c whole milk
  • 1 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1 orange
  • 2 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Instructions
Pour milk into a bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Set aside to sit 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice off the peel of the orange in big chunks, trying not to get any of the bitter white pith underneath. Set aside the flesh for garnish later. Place a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and add in cream, orange peel, sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a low boil, then strain out orange peel. Pour mixture back into saucepan and add in the chocolate, whisking until melted. Whisk in the gelatin until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour into ramekins and chill overnight or 6-8 hours before serving. Garnish with orange segments and florentine cookies.

Have you made anything “fancy” lately?

Crack Pie

ATTENTION ATTENTION: If you or anyone you know is trying to lose weight, stop (STOP STOP) reading this post right now at this very second.

Or, if you absolutely must, read the post but eat two giant handfuls of salad right afterward because you will feel your thighs twitching.

I made Momofuku’s famous Crack Pie.

I don’t know what came over me. Really, I plead temporary insanity brought on by the grumbling in my stomach and a distinct memory of the pie I ate months ago on a summery NYC night.

My brother, a to-be lawyer, has assured me that this insanity defense will stand up in court when you all sue me for millions on account of the insane amount of weight you’ll gain after even just seeing this stuff.

It’s that sinful.

But don’t the most sinful things taste the most amazing? It feels good to be bad.

I almost didn’t share this with you, by the way. Actually, I’m not really sharing with anyone at this point in time. I’ve hidden the pie away underneath piles of leftovers in the fridge and no one in this house but me knows that it’s there. I’ve been sneaking small pieces of it every chance I get and then slipping it back into its hiding spot. The one time I let Boy have a bit, the tiniest bite I could possibly give up without demanding some form of monetary compensation (or dishwashing, a baker’s dream – am I right or am I right?!), he said, “Whoa. You can NOT be making that kind of pie.” He then instructed me to stop eating it. He knew already by the look of the mostly eaten pie plate, that I was addicted.

No wonder they call it Crack Pie!

Apparently this is the week where I share how my recipes don’t always come out perfectly because this pie, thought perfectly delicious, caused me much anguish when it came out of the fridge (after coming out of the oven) and proceeded to ooze all over the place when cut. Underbaked. I threw a tantrum.

And then I took a bite of the ooey-gooeyness. And then another. And two pieces later I decided that it wasn’t the prettiest thing ever, but it was certainly the most delicious. It had to be shared. At all costs. You see, it’s an oatmeal cookie-based crust, barely sweet, completely homemade and laden with butter that complements the buttery sweet filling. It tastes almost like a pecan pie but without all those annoying pecans and more carefully balanced with its perfect crust.

I’ll cry when there’s no more pie to be had.

Crack Pie
adapted from the LA Times’ posting of a Momofuku favorite and seen on Almost Bourdain

Makes 2 10″ pies. (I halved this and made one pie but the measurements were sketchy at times so I’m posting the original.)

Note: The recipe did not specify whether or not the brown sugar should be packed. I packed it but not overly tightly.

Ingredients

For cookie to be used in crust:

  • 2/3 c + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • scant 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 c light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • scant 1 c rolled oats

For crust:

  • 1 sheet cooled oatmeal cookie, crumbled
  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt

For filling:

  • 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c + scant 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c + 1 tsp milk powder
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 c + scant 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 egg yolks
  • powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions
For cookie to be used in crust, Preheat oven to 375F. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add in egg and mix until well combined. Beat in the flour a little bit at a time until incorporated. Stir in oats.

Spread mixture onto a 9×13″ baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

For crust, Combine cookie, butter, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the mixture begins to stick to itself and is well combined. Divide among 2 10″ pie plates and press onto the bottom and up the sides of each plate. Set aside.

For filling, Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together sugar, brown sugar, salt, and milk powder in a large bowl. Whisk in the melted butter followed by the heavy cream and vanilla. Finally, whisk in the egg yolks but take care not to add too much air. When combined, divide the filling between the 2 prepared shells. One at a time, bake each pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325F and bake just until the filling is slightly jiggly, approximately 10 minutes more. Note: If you are using 9″ plates, baking time will have to be increased approximately 5 minutes to account for the thicker filling. Cool pies on rack to room temperature, then refrigerate until well chilled. Serve cold and dusted with powdered sugar if desired.

Excuse me while I get more pie. I’m in withdrawal.

Chocolate Macarons

I don’t think of myself as a Type A personality. You know the type, the need to micromanage, to have complete control, for everything to be “just so.”

I don’t think of myself as a Type B personality either. I’m not the laid back, surfer, come what may, “que sera sera” type.

I’m somewhere floating between the two, in a weird combination of acting one way when most people would act the other. I’ll give you a few examples.

With countertops, I’m Type A. They must be clean at all times. Not a crumb. And I can’t stand left-behind twist-ties or the little plastic ring that you have to pull off the milk container before you can consume it. Throw them out or I go crazy.

With dishes, however, the things that are most likely to breed bacteria and cause smells, I’m more “whatever.” They can sit in the sink for a day or two and I don’t mind one bit.

With planning vacations, I’m Type A. Completely Type A. I have to remind myself to schedule in “free time” or we’d be running around like chickens with our heads cut off. I budget, I compare prices, I shop around for the best deals, I research the weather, the local customs, find things to do off-the-beaten-path. I run the show.

With school, I’m Type B. I know when things are due and yet I often save them until the last minute. I do the bare minimum these days, just enough to get by, not even really concerned with getting Honors (the medical school equivalent of an “A”) anymore.

When Boy mentioned that I hadn’t made macarons in awhile, I was Type B. “Oh! You’re right! I should make a batch sometime.” And that sometime ended up being weeks after the fact. I wasn’t in a rush.

But when the egg whites were aged and it came down to it, I turned into a Type A monster. I read and reread the instructions umpteenth times, I watched videos over and over again to make perfectly sure I knew how stiff my peaks needed to be, I measured and measured again, careful in ever movement, worried that I’d ruined their feet before they were even in the oven.

Macarons still elude me in many ways. I’ve had success with them in the past but I’ve also had failure, and I have not been able to decipher what went right or wrong in either case. These? They had feet. Beautiful feet! But one pan completely fell once I took them out of the oven, the feet becoming miniscule, and they didn’t seem to want to come off the pan no matter what. The other pan didn’t fall quite as much but after chilling and upon serving, it seemed the center wasn’t as cooked as I’d hoped. Instead of a crunchy outside and a soft inside, the inside was much more dense and it seemed I had put gobs of ganache on. There was no space of air between the top and the insides. They looked perfect, but they were not (although they were, of course, delicious because gobs of ganache can never ever taste bad).

In my quest to have perfect macarons every time, this was another semi-fail but it was still delicious and I will try the same exact recipe again in the future. With macarons, it’s the technique and not really the recipe so it’s worth a shot to try the same recipe multiple times. The ganache was definitely a win though!

Chocolate Macarons
adapted from LA Times and David Lebovitz

Makes 24-30 sandwiched macs.

Ingredients

For shells:

  • 1 1/3 c blanched almond meal
  • 2 c + 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 aged egg whites (3-4 large, at room temperature after sitting out for a day or 3-4 days in the refrigerator)

For ganache:

  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Instructions
For shells, Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Strain together almond meal, powdered sugar, and cocoa into a large bowl. Whisk to blend. Set aside. Beat egg whites using an electric mixer over low to medium speed until foamy. Increase the speed and continue beating until the peaks are glossy and medium-firm. Fold in the dry ingredients in 3 or 4 additions until just incorporated. It will be runny and look like cake batter.

Spoon half of the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a half-inch round trip. PipeĀ  1 1/2 inch rounds by keeping the bag vertical and 1-2 inches above the sheet. Keep 2 inches in between rounds. Rap the pan against the counter and repeat with the second sheet. Allow sheets to sit for 30 minutes while preheating oven to 425F.

When ready to bake, dust macarons with extra cocoa powder and place each individual baking sheet atop a second spare sheet. Place in oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 350F. Prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the macarons are just firm to the touch. Transfer to a cooling rack and bring the oven back to 425F for the second sheet of macarons.

Once the oven has been reset, remove the first set of macarons from the parchment. I did not do this but LA Times suggests pouring a little hot water onto the baking sheet underneath the paper and tilt the sheet to dampen the parchment evenly. Let sit for 15 seconds and then peel the macarons off.

For ganache, Heat heavy cream and light corn syrup in a saucepan until just bubbling around the edges. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Allow to sit for 1 minute before stirring until smooth. Stir in butter. Cool to room temperature before using.

For assembly, Match macarons up by size. Spoon or pipe ~ 1 tsp of ganache in the center of one macaron bottom. Sandwich with second macaron and press gently to spread ganache to edges. Refrigerate at least 24 hours, taking macarons out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to serving.

Love them feet.

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