King Arthur Flour – You had me at Babka!


King Arthur Flour… you had me at babka! For me, a chocolate babka is tied for first place with crumb cake. Both are delicious Eastern European coffee cakes making them even more delicious by the addition of a cup of coffee. Both have ample crumb topping and both quintessentially New York. So let’s talk babka! It’s been over 20 years since the Seinfeld episode “The Dinner Party” aired bringing this little coffee cake into the mainstream of pop culture. I could probably recite verbatim the scene when Jerry and Elaine are waiting in the bakery to buy a chocolate babka. Can’t you hear Elaine saying “YOU CAN’T BEAT A BABKA – they’re gonna be heroes!” Let’s face it, she’s right – you can’t beat a babka, especially chocolate! Plus, while perfect anytime, it is especially perfect to enjoy during your weekend brunch.

The month of April was the King Arthur Flour chocolate babka bakealong. If you don’t know about the King Arthur bakealong, join the club. I stumbled upon it accidentally on Instagram. Each month they announce a new recipe for us to try, with tips and step-by-step instructions on their blog. After you have created your delicious masterpiece, they invite you to share a photo of your final product tagging it with #bakealong.

I found out about this at the most inopportune time; it was during the week of Passover (which was a couple of weeks ago). Passover is a holiday when Jewish people celebrate their freedom from slavery. It is also a time when we don’t eat bread (or babka for that matter!), instead we eat unleavened products like matzo. Here I was, smack in the middle of Passover, a holiday I love by the way, enjoying my matzo (LOL) and everyday there were beautiful photos of babka being posted on Instagram. Since then, I have had babka on the brain! Which, if you know me is not so unusual! What’s a girl to do? My only challenge was blocking out 5 hours or so to make it. Don’t be frightened; it’s only about 45 minutes hands-on time, other than that it’s just waiting for it to rise.

Coming in just under the wire, as tomorrow is the last day of April, I finally found the time and have been noshing on it all week! While keeping the integrity of the recipe I still managed to put my splash on it. I noticed in the photos posted by other bakers it seemed there was a higher cake to chocolate filling ratio. I’m all about the filling so I made twice the recipe called for. Being a self-proclaimed babka connoisseur, and crumb topping lover, I doubled that as well. I also rolled mine a little thinner so there was a denser chocolate marbling.


It was an easy recipe to follow and yielded a perfect and delicious babka. If I had one comment, it felt like there was too much dough to fit in the two 9” loaf pans. I ended up trimming the excess and made muffins out of some of the extra dough. These are the times when I hear my mother’s voice… “having too much babka dough should be the biggest problem you have in your life!” Next time I will make 3 instead, wishing I could share one with her.

Once in the oven, my babkas took on a life of their own which I took notice of when they were rising. I placed the loaf pans on a lined sheet pan before I put them in the oven and boy I’m glad I did; there was a bit of crumb spillage over the edges. Overall, the outcome was perfect and I loved the recipe.  The flavor is really what you expect this delicious coffeecake to taste like. The chocolate was luscious and rich, the cake very tender, and the crumb topping added just the right contrast. The extra crumb topping and chocolate filling really hit the mark. There is no better way to enjoy a weekend than with a piece of chocolate babka and a nice cup of coffee!

The recipe which follows is adapted from the King Arthur Flour blog post from their April bakealong challenge. The recipe makes two very large loaves. They suggest keeping one, and giving one away, (which I did and it got rave reviews). One person said it was the best babka she ever had. King Arthur got inspiration for their recipe from Maggie Glezer, and her book, A Blessing of Bread. I recently checked it out of the library and am in the middle of reading it now. Of course I will have to try her recipe as well. I was excited to learn the word babka in Polish means grandmother! When I have grandchildren, if not Bubbe, I’ll be Babka! Enjoy!

Prep:  25 to 35 minutes
Bake:  50 to 60 minutes
Total:  5 to 6 hours 15 minutes
Yield:  2 loaves is what the original recipe states, but I suggest 3

Dough
1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water (more if needed)
2 large eggs
6 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk (I used Carnation)
2 tablespoons instant yeast, SAF Red or SAF Gold instant yeast preferred (I used Fleishmann’s Yeast)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (I melted it)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Egg wash

1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar until well-combined

Filling (below is already doubled)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa, Triple Cocoa Blend, or the cocoa powder of your choice, Dutch-process or natural (I used Hershey’s Cocoa powder)
1 teaspoon espresso powder (I omitted)
1/2 cup melted butter
2 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips, mini chips preferred (I used 1 heaping cup Ghirardelli mini semisweet chocolate chips)
2 cup diced pecans or walnuts, toasted if desired (I omitted)

Topping (below is already doubled)
8 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour


Directions
Combine all of the dough ingredients (starting with the lesser amount of water), mixing until everything is moistened. Add additional water if necessary to enable the dough to come together. I started with larger amount of water and added another ½ cup. It was very dry dough. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Then mix/knead it until it’s soft and smooth.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover the bowl. The dough is going to rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it’s quite puffy.

Gently deflate the dough, and divide it in half (or thirds). Set the pieces aside, covered, while you make the filling.

To make the filling: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and espresso (which I omitted). Stir in the melted butter. The mixture will look grainy and slick; that’s okay.

Shape each half of the dough into a 9″ x 18″, 1/4″-thick rectangle. If the dough “fights back,” let it rest for 10 minutes to relax the gluten, then stretch it some more. Don’t be fussy about this; 19″ or 20″ is as good as 18″.

Smear (if you’re Jewish, schmear!) each piece of the dough with half the filling, coming to within an inch of the edges.

Scatter half the chocolate (you’ll make a thin layer), half the nuts, and half the chopped chocolate/chips over each piece. If using standard-size chips, process them in a food processor first, to create smaller bits of chocolate and a less chunky filling.

Starting with a short end, roll each piece gently into a log, sealing the seam and ends. Working with one log at a time, use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut the log in half lengthwise (not crosswise) to make two pieces of dough about 10″ long each; cut carefully, to prevent too much filling from spilling out. With the exposed filling side up, twist the two pieces into a braid, tucking the ends underneath. Repeat with the other log. Place each log into a lightly greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. (In addition to spraying the pans, I lined them with parchment paper. This made it much easier to take out)

Brush each loaf with the egg wash. Mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly, divide it in half and sprinkle the topping over each loaf.

Tent each pan with plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they’re very puffy and have crowned a good inch over the rim of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 300°F.

Bake the bread for 35 minutes. Tent lightly with foil, and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes (for a total of 50 to 60 minutes); the loaves should be a deep-golden brown.

To ensure the loaves are baked through, insert a digital thermometer into the center of one loaf. It should register at least 190°F. (I used a cake tester and it came out clean. Baking time was just about spot on.

Remove the loaves from the oven, and immediately loosen the edges with a heatproof spatula or table knife. Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, and then turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool completely.

Slice the babka and serve it at room temperature; or rewarm individual slices briefly in a toaster, if desired. Store any leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

 

How about an Everything Bagel Salad to get you through the week?


For days when you are missing your weekend bagel, how about an everything bagel salad to get you through the week? It’s getting close to the weekend and you’re craving an everything bagel with cream cheese. What’s a girl to do? Turn it into a salad of course! Why an everything bagel salad? There are a few reasons: I love everything bagels, I love salads filled with everything but the kitchen sink, it gets me ready for the weekend without all the guilt of a bagel on a weekday and I happen to have a jar of everything bagel seasoning in my house impatiently waiting to be sprinkled on EVERYTHING!

Here is how it all started… I was in Trader Joe’s a couple of weeks ago scanning their new food section for a great new find. If you are a Trader Joe’s junkie like me, you totally get this. There on the shelf was a jar of Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend (try to say that 5 times fast!). First of all, the label was adorable and really caught my eye. Second, I don’t know why I got so excited, but I did; ideas were flooding through my head on what to use it on. I bought 2 jars and posted a photo on Instagram immediately proclaiming my excitement for this new and wonderful treasure I found. Since then, I have topped challah rolls with it, used it on salmon before grilling, sprinkled it on green beans and of course my husband added it as a booster to his already everything bagel with lox and cream cheese! Ooh, I just thought of how great it would be on avocado toast – I’m so going to have to try that!


Not familiar with the everything bagel (click here to find out more)? The only thing you need to know about an everything bagel is it is the quintessential NY bagel. Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, minced onion, minced garlic and coarse kosher salt – that’s it. Five simple ingredients become a game changer to the average bagel; in this case the average salad. There must be a lot of fans out there for type of bagel since it has its own jar of seasoning mix on the shelf. I found it at Trader Joe’s, but King Arthur also has a great mix you can buy online. I’ll also share my recipe at the end so you can make your own at home. Every now and then you will come across an everything bagel with caraway seeds – I’m not a fan and think it should stay in rye bread where it belongs!

Here’s my favorite way to eat a bagel… Unless it’s fresh and hot out of the oven (which only happens in NY) I lightly toast it and then scoop it so there is less bread and you can add more toppings. Then of course there is the cream cheese, but not just any kind of cream cheese, for me it has to be vegetable cream cheese (follow this link for my recipe). Lox is a perfect addition and a couple of thick slices of a crisp tomato. Is your mouth watering yet?


Now for the salad… I love a really good salad and I’m hooked on making salads fun and interesting. For me, a salad is at its best when there are a lot of goodies in them other than an overwhelming amount of lettuce. I like to think of the lettuce as the bread or bagel in this case, which holds a sandwich together. The lettuce will be the anchor here.

When I first set out to make the salad I thought of all the components from toppings to the base.  I knew the calories and carbs would be a fraction of what you get from a bagel, plus I wanted to keep all of the satisfaction. The fun of it is you can customize it to what you like on your bagel i.e. salad! If you love whitefish, buy smoked whitefish or smoked trout and top your salad with that. If you like capers, hard-boiled eggs, and onions, throw them in too.


For this salad, I deconstructed the vegetable cream cheese and made the ingredients the toppings: radishes, carrots, and scallions. Of course, I had to include salmon in some way but didn’t think lox was the way to go, but if you try it, let me know how it is. I’m more of a baked smoked salmon girl anyway, which is difficult to find in Columbus. I decided on a piece of fresh salmon. I topped it with everything seasoning then seared it in a pan. Hard-boiled eggs also make an appearance in my salad for a few reasons: I love them, they are perfect on a bagel, and they go great in a salad!

It’s a very quick salad to put together as well. As the salmon was cooking, I assembled the other ingredients. I shredded some romaine lettuce, crushed up some everything bagel chips, added some goat cheese for that cream cheese texture and really good flavor. It was all coming together and I couldn’t be happier.

There you have it, a salad to get you ready for the weekend and for you diehards, a salad you can bring to work on Monday. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one salad
1 ½ cups shredded romaine lettuce
8 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 carrot grated (½ cup)
1 to 2 perfect hard-boiled eggs cut into quarters
2 to 3 radishes sliced very thin
2 scallions sliced into thin rounds
1 ounce goat cheese
8 everything bagel chips broken into pieces
Dill (optional)
4 ounce salmon filet
everything bagel seasoning

Lowfat ranch dressing of your choice

Directions
In a medium bowl, combine the shredded romaine and next 8 ingredients. Arrange it nicely in the bowl by layering it, or placing the vegetables together.

For the salmon, rub it with about a teaspoon of olive oil, sprinkle the everything seasoning on both side then place it in a hot pan on medium heat. Cook about 4 to 5 minutes per side or until your desired doneness. Then add the cooked salmon on top of the salad.

For the salad dressing, I used a package of Concord Foods Ranch dip (which I find in the produce area of my grocery) mixed with a container of Breakstone’s reduced fat sour cream (nonfat plain Greek yogurt would work as well) plus one tablespoon of Hellman’s mayonnaise. Then I add water until is pour-able but not too thin. I am always on the lookout for a good ranch dressing in a bottle, but they all have msg in them. I like this brand because it does not contain monosodium glutamate (msg) and I can use a very low fat base. And yes, I do know this is a lot of dressing for one salad, but I think you’ll be making it again and again, so you might as well have dressing on hand! Of course, you can buy any kind of creamy dressing you like for this. Pour dressing over the salad and serve immediately.

How to make your own everything bagel seasoning (feel free to play around with this ratio)
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds*
2 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon minced dried onion
1 tablespoon minced dried garlic
1 to 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (this is optional if you don’t like salt, omit)

Mix it all together and store in a small jar until you are ready to use it.

*Use 2 tablespoons of white sesame seeds   if you can’t find, or don’t want to use the black.

 

 

 

Hamantashen Ice Cream Sandwich… It’s A MATCH!


Hamantashen + Ice Cream = The most delicious Hamantashen Ice Cream Sandwich… IT’S A MATCH! Everyone calm down, I’m not a real matchmaker; I’m more of a food matchmaker. I guess I could start with a corny joke like a hamantashen and a scoop of ice cream walk into a bar, yada – yada – yada… ba dum bump! But I can feel my family start to twinge, so I’ll put my comedic career on hold for a little while.

Yes, you heard me right and oh yes I did put ice cream in the middle of my hamantashen! I hear you all out there judging me, with your “Oh no you didn’t.” But, oh YES I did. I know hamantashen can be a rich cookie with it’s pie filling, and chocolate but when you stop and think about it for a minute, it really sounds good doesn’t it? We put ice cream on pie. Isn’t hamantashen just a triangular little pie? Plus, didn’t 2016 bring us the babka ice cream sandwich from Russ and Daughters? And, what about the black and white cookie ice cream sandwich I recently saw on Instagram? If you ask me, hamantashen was just waiting for its turn to be asked to the dance. Hamantashen and ice cream, let’s tango!

So how did I decide to make an ice cream sandwich using hamantashen? This happy union came about after trying a new hamantashen recipe this year. On Tuesday, the hamantashen softened up a bit because of the cherry pie filling. When I ate one, something just screamed out “HEY, HOW ABOUT A LITTLE ICE CREAM WITH THAT?” See what I did there with the caps? Obviously the trick is to have the right dough and filling for it. If you read yesterday’s post, you know I have tried quite a few different recipes in my time so you can trust me on this. For example, I make a cream cheese dough which tastes similar to rugalach, ice cream would not be a good match for that.

This recipe is adapted from the 2nd Avenue Deli Cookbook. It’s a hamantashen that definitely stands alone. When it is first baked, it is crisp on the outside and tender on the inside and is absolutely delicious. On the second day, when it softened a bit, the addition of ice cream put it over the edge. Plus, I don’t know about you  but I absolutely love anything with almonds in it, and this has a double dose. I hope you will try this with your favorite ice cream and let me know what you think!  Happy Purim everyone! Enjoy!
The recipe makes 4 dozen cookies using a 3” round cookie cutter, or 24 ice cream sandwiches

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup finely ground almond flour* (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
3 extra large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 stick softened unsalted butter (or margarine)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
sanding sugar
egg wash**
Cherry pie filling (or other pie filling of your choice)

Good quality ice cream
Sliced almonds (I used honey toasted almonds from Trader Joes)
Chocolate or caramel sauce (optional)
Whipped cream (optional)

Directions
In a large blow, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add the almond flour and mix well then set aside.

In another large bowl, cream sugar and butter with mixer until blended. Add eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and mix well. Add the almond and flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix just until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides. If the dough is sticky, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough until it no longer sticks to your fingers. I did not do this step; I found the dough fine and then wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge overnight. The original recipe says you can bake it without refrigerating first.

When you are ready to bake, position the racks to the upper and lower 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Roll the dough to a thickness of about 3/16”. My trick is to use paint sticks you get at the hardware store. I cover them with plastic wrap and use them as guides. I like that better than the rings you can put on your rolling pin. Using a 3” round cookie cutter, cut circles of dough and place them on the cookie sheets.

When all of the dough has been cut place about 1 ½ teaspoon of filling in the center of the circle. Brush the perimeter with the egg wash or a little water. Now you can either use the pinch method as I do and pinch 3 corners together, or use the folding method where you flap one side, then the next two till you form a triangle.

Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash. I sprinkled mine with some sanding sugar for that extra sparkle and crunch. Bake the hamantashen for 18 to 20 minutes (checking after 15) or until the cookies are golden brown. To ensure even browning, rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back. When done, remove from the oven and let them rest for 2 to 3 minutes on the cookie sheet then remove to a wire rack.

Now to make the match… Place one hamantashen bottom side down, add a scoop of ice cream of your choice, top with another hamantashen top side up so you can see the beautiful topping and eat it carefully. Of course you can place it bottom side up as well – make it your own. It’s so yummy it won’t last long! If you want to plate it, dress up the plate with some chocolate sauce, maybe some whipped cream, and almonds. However you choose to eat it, it’s a match made in heaven!

* I used Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour which I found in my local grocery. King Arthur makes a great one as well which you can purchase online. You can also make almond flour in a food processor, here is a how to link.

**For the egg wash I use the whole egg and put in a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, and a splash of water.

It was Almost like a Hamantashen Throw Down!


It was almost like a hamantashen throw down at my house on Monday, the only difference is there was no winner – just a really good time. Every year for the past few years, my friend Marcy and I get together to bake hamantashen for Purim. Hamantashen are the triangular cookies we eat during the holiday. Purim is a fun Jewish holiday which includes dressing up in costume, carnivals and drinking quite a bit! FYI, the drinking is so we can no longer tell the difference between good and evil – not such a bad thing once a year! As with all Jewish holidays, there is a retelling of the story of why we are celebrating and we always have very traditional and symbolic foods we eat. For Purim, hamantashen play a staring role. Let me set the scene… 6 different fillings on the counter, 5 dough recipes all chilled overnight and wrapped tight in plastic wrap, 4 fun hours of baking, 3 too many hamantashen eaten which gave me a bellyache, 2 friends happily talking the morning away, and finally 1 house that smelled absolutely delicious – and still does! Did I forget to mention approximately 200 hamantashen were made?

Mine were baked, packed up and shipped out yesterday or handed out to local friends. Hers were frozen and will be baked today then brought to Connecticut for some very lucky people! Among the varieties: a cream cheese dough reminiscent of rugalach, a traditional dough, a secret recipe dough, a chocolate dough, and finally a new one I tried from the 2nd Avenue Deli Cookbook which calls for almond flour. I almost said my new favorite but then deleted it. Like my mother always said “I have ten fingers and I love them all the same – don’t ask me to choose!” That is how I feel about most hamantashen recipes I’ve made.
I’m not sure if I ever mentioned this before or not, but mother had some kind of obsession with hamantashen recipes. Not necessarily baking them – collecting them! For whatever reason, she included about 3 of them in the little 15 page handwritten cookbook she made for me when I got married. The crazy thing is while she was an avid baker, I don’t remember her ever baking hamantashen when I was growing up except for the time with the sisterhood from our Temple. So it was very surprising she added so many into my book. This being said, I guess it should be no surprise I have inherited her obsession. I never really thought of it like that, but clearly after reading my own words, what else would you call it? The only difference is I don’t write about them and collect them, I actually bake them!

Today I’m sharing Carole Walter’s recipe which my friend Marcy brought with her. Oddly enough is extremely similar to my mother’s except my mom used shortening (which is exactly why I know she never made them – she never used shortening!) and she always baked with jumbo eggs. Carole uses butter in her recipe and large eggs. The preparation is a little different as well. Sorry mom, but Carole is the winner in this throw down not only because I’m not a fan of shortening – because I don’t think my mom ever made them! However, I do think my mom would approve and besides, there is always room for one more hamantashen in your life – and in my mother’s case, one more recipe to add to the list! I hope you try this recipe which is adapted from Carole Walter’s cookbook simply called Great Cookies! The name says it all, they are great cookies and very delicious, with a nice bit of crunch on the outside and soft on the inside. Whatever filling you choose… Enjoy!

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt (I would add one tsp. like my mom next time)
1 cup (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter or margarine cut into cubes
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
sanding sugar (optional)
Egg wash*
Fillings of your choice (I used cherry pie filling, lemon curd, and poppy seed)

This recipe makes 40 – 2” cookies


Dough

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse two or three times to combine. Add the butter and pulse five times then process 5 seconds to form meal like crumbs.

Place the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in a small bowl and mix with a fork to combine. Pour the mixture into the processor and pulse four or five times, then process until the dough begins to clump together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and with floured hands, form into two disks, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days. (This dough may be frozen for up to 4 months)

When you are ready to bake, position the racks to the upper and lower 1/3 of the oven. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roll the dough to a thickness of about 3/16”. My trick is to use paint sticks you get at the hardware store. I cover them with plastic wrap and use them as guides. I like that better than the rings you can put on your rolling pin. Using a 3” round cookie cutter, cut circles of dough and place them on the cookie sheets.

When all of the dough has been cut place about 1 ½ teaspoon of filling in the center of the circle. Brush the perimeter with the egg wash or a little water. To fold or to pinch? That is the question! Now you can either use the pinch method as I do and pinch 3 corners together, or use the folding method where you flap one side, then the next two till you form a triangle.


Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash. I sprinkled mine with some sanding sugar for that extra sparkle and crunch. Bake the hamantashen for 15 to 18 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown. To ensure even browning, rotate the pans top to bottom and front to back. When done, remove from the oven and let them rest for 2 to 3 minutes on the cookie sheet then remove to a wire rack.

Store in an airtight container with wax paper between layers for up to 3 days. These cookies may be frozen.

*When I make an egg wash I use the whole egg and put in a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar, and a splash of water. Carole uses egg whites only. Either will work fine.

Couldn’t we all use some World Peace Cookies this Valentine’s Day?


Couldn’t we all use some World Peace Cookies this Valentine’s Day?

Every year I time things perfectly for Valentine’s Day. I make my famous sugar cookie dough, plan when I’ll be baking, spend the day baking and decorating the cookies and organize all of the packaging material ahead of time. Then I rush excitedly to the post office with more than a dozen boxes in tow all strapped to a luggage cart. Most of them for family and friends and usually a few extra for orders I get every year.

This year, things just didn’t come together for me. I didn’t have a plan. I never made the dough. The few orders I usually get fell though for various reasons. I had no packing material and on Friday night I tried to convince myself that it’s okay to skip a year. Then the guilt set in (Jewish mother’s guilt that is!). My boys are in college, how could I not send them cookies? So while watching a late night movie, I turned to my husband and said “okay, I’ll just make my mother’s thumb cookies and get them in the mail tomorrow.” They are the easiest cookie and they have a Hershey Kiss on top! What says I love you more than that? From a cookie perspective that is!

Now it’s Saturday. I wake up early and get caught up in a rerun of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (may her memory be a blessing). I laugh hysterically at the zaniness of the show (it was the Chuckles the Clown episode and if you have never seen it, you must). At 9:30am I decide I had better start baking knowing the post office closes at 2. As I head down the steps I’m now thinking if I end up with extra, I’ll put a few in a package for my niece and nephew; I always send them cookies too. But, are the thumb cookies enough? Amanda really loves chocolate… maybe I should make chocolate cookies also. I don’t know why I’m thinking this, but I am. I run upstairs and try to find a recipe I have for an easy cut out cookie. At this point, I still think I have time to make the batter, refrigerate the dough, roll them out, frost and decorate, pack them up, then pop them in the mail – all by 2pm. In the meantime, I put a pot of eggs on the stove to boil which are needed to make the thumb cookies.

Finally I start the cookies. I measure and sift the dry ingredients then I notice the recipe says must refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Somehow, I missed that part or maybe I thought by some magic I could still get all of this done. Most people might just scrap the whole thing, but not me! I grab Dorie Greenspan’s book Dorie’s Cookies and attempt to make her World Peace Cookies. It looks really easy, it’s a slice and bake and I can easily alter the ingredients I have already measured so it’s a perfect fit. I know what you are thinking, and yes, of course I know slice and bake cookies also need to be refrigerated! The recipe says it only needs a couple of hours in the freezer so I keep going.

The flour and cocoa needed for the 1st recipe was almost double that of Dories. I just had to add more cocoa powder to compensate for the world peace cookies. I cream the butter and then add the dry ingredients to the wet and think wow, this is so dry and crumbly – which she mentions in her recipe it might be. I look over the recipe again and now realize, I didn’t double the butter, or the sugar, or the vanilla!


New plan… I put everything away and Sunday I happily baked cookies, decorated cookies and packaged them to mail first thing Monday morning. If the cookies make it by today, what a surprise! If they make it by Wednesday then that will be perfect, I think you guys know where I stand on greeting card holidays! So here they are, some of the most delicious chocolate cookies I have ever tasted (and pretty indestructible if you don’t mind me saying!). They are a little soft with a nice chew, terrific texture and full of chocolate chips throughout! World peace cookies for everyone…  and Happy Valentine’s Day if you celebrate. For me, this is just another excuse to enjoy something chocolate! Enjoy!

Recipe is adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s book Dorie’s Cookies which is a fantastic book for anyone who likes to bake

Ingredients
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s cocoa powder)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used Trader Joe’s semisweet chocolate chunks – already chopped)

Makes about 32 cookies

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

I used a hand mixer and a large bowl to cream the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until soft, creamy and homogeneous, about 3 minutes.  You can also use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat in the salt and vanilla. Turn off the mixer; add all the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to start blending. Mix on low and beat until the dough forms big, moist curds. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix to incorporate. The original recipe claims the dough is unpredictable. Sometimes it’s crumbly; sometimes it comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Lucky for me!

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gather it together, kneading it if necessary to bring it together. Divide it in half and shape the dough into logs that are 1 ½ inches in diameter. Don’t worry about the length – get the diameter right and the length with follow. Mine came out to about 9” long. Wrap them tight in wax paper or plastic wrap and freeze them for at least 2 hours, or refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

When you are ready to bake, place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Working with one log at a time, and using a long, sharp knife, slice the dough into ½ inch thick rounds. I found it was much too difficult straight from the fridge so I left mine out for about 15 minutes. When I sliced them, they tended to crumble; Dorie says to just push them back together onto each cookie. It worked like a charm!

Bake the cookies for 12 minutes – don’t open the oven. When the timer rings, they won’t look done, nor will they be firm. That’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are just warm, at which point you can munch on them or let them reach room temperature. They are amazingly delicious as is. The texture is just perfect, a little chewy and densely chocolate! I decided to frost a few of the ones that did not come out as nicely and sprinkled them with Valentine decorations. World Peace out!