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  • Walnut & Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

    The coziest wishes to you all on this fine Sunday! I hope you spent your weekend relaxing and rejuvenating and re-whatever-ing you need to do to be prepared for the week ahead.

    For me, that consisted of sleeping in, hanging out with my sister, buying a plant (a prayer plant...cool right?), drinking lots of coffee, walking around Lake Merritt, buying some mighty fine spices from Oaktown Spice Shop (specifically, chile powder for some beans that will be made today, more specifically, the baked pintos from Deb's new book), and of course, baking cookies. And, side note, while gathering groceries for those beans, I noticed that there were many...almost too many...options for avocados at the grocery store. Small. Medium. Large. Mexico. California. Ripe. Not so ripe. Ahhh! The conservative WI-girl in me opted for the "locally" grown (California...) medium not-so-ripe variety. I hope I made the right choice....

    Anyways! I have been thoroughly enjoying Stella's book, Bravetart. A cinnamon roll situation last weekend, and cozy oatmeal cookies this weekend. I have been searching for the "perfect" oatmeal cookie recipe (they are my favorite), and this one is pretty darn legit. It reminded me of Alice Medrich's oatmeal cookies in her cookie book, echoing the use of oat flour. But, what really intrigued me was the use of a small amount of steel cut oats! But evidently, not intriguing enough, since I forgot them at the store, along with the oat flour. But don't worry, the cookies are still A+ without them. Further, I have found that blending rolled oats in a high-speed blender or a decent food processor does the trick to create the powdery, fine oat flour. But, use that oat flour if you have it!Chock full of California raisins, walnuts...brimming with spices (Cinnamon! Nutmeg! Ginger!)...these cookies are legit, just as the Bravetart book is. I am eyeing some new Fat Daddio's to start experimenting with the cake recipes (and to get my ass in gear to bake a small wedding cake for one of my besties in July!). Oh, and Stella's recipe for homemade SPRINKLES. That situation is high on my list, too....

    Cheers and smiles to you all...let's get at this week in a cozy, calm and cookie-y way!



    Oatmeal, Raisin & Walnut Cookies // makes about 30, 1oz cookies // lightly adapted via Bravetart //

    • 2/3 cup (3 oz) all purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup (2 1/2 oz) oat flour (store bought or made by blending rolled oats in a food processor or blender until very fine)
    • 1 2/3 cup (6 oz) old fashioned rolled oats
    • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz) steel cut oats (optional)
    • 1 1/4 cup (5 oz) walnuts, toasted
    • 1 cup (6 oz) moist raisins*
    • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
    • 2/3 cup (5 oz) light brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) white sugar (I used organic evaporated cane juice)
    • heaped 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
    • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1 heaped tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp dried ground ginger 
    • 1 large egg
    • Flakey sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling on top (optional, but serisouly recommended)

    *if your raisins are not moist, you can soak them in hot water for a few minutes, and thoroughly drain them before adding to the recipe.

    1. Toast the walnuts: preheat oven to 350F, and spread walnuts on the optionally lined (silpat, parchment, or aluminum foil with dull-side up) cookie sheet you will bake the cookies on. Toast for 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

    2. In a large bowl, sift the flours and the baking soda. Measure into the same bowl the raisins, and crush the walnuts with your hands into the bowl (no need to chop, between hand-crushing and mixing, they will be perfectly sized in the cookie dough). Set aside

    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a bowl to accomodate a hand-mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy (about 30-45 seconds, but this may take a little longer if your kitchen is a little cool). Into the butter, add the brown sugar, white sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and beat until creamy and slightly fluffy (another 30 or so seconds). Add the egg, and beat until smooth and incorporated.

    4. Portion into 1oz balls (about 2 TB), and space about 2" apart on cookie sheets. Gently press each moudn into a 1/2" tall patty**, and sprinkle with flakey sea salt if desired. Bake for 12-16 minutes (my oven too 16 minutes for a brown, gently crispy bottom and edge), or until the cookies are brown around the outside and opaque in the middle. If you like crispier cookies, bake for a minute or two longer.

    5. Cool for a few minutes on the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to firm up. Store in an airtight container at room temp or in the fridge/freezer for a few days...enjoy!

    **at this point, you can freeze the little pucks, and place into a bag or container once firm and frozen. To bake fresh cookies, proceed with the baking at 350F for 12-16 minutes, keeping in mind that a few extra minutes may be tagged on to baking straight from the freezer.



    The goods for the goods. Oat flour in the blender. Seriously, it works. Just be sure to blend to a fine texture, and sift with the other flour in the recipe. I found that I needed to blend about 2 cups of oats for the blending to be effective, so you'll have extra oat flour for your additional oat flour needs....like more of these cookies...Sift, stir, blend, whip...we got this!And cookie dough! Rejoice. Breakfast of Champions, really. Scoop 'em up...and smoosh them into 1/2" thick pucks of chunky glory.Yep. Glorious oat-y, warmly spiced, nutty goodness with pockets of sweet, caramel-y raisins. High fives!Now, excuse me, gonna drink coffee and eat cookies all day. Peace!

  • Korokova + Holiday Cookie Round-Up + Oh Hey!

    Oh hey. Hi. How's it going?

    I have missed this space. Like, literally: I have clearly missed the mark on blogging regularly the last 5 or so months. Let's just skip to the chase and get down to it...life is never dull. I have ripped up my Wisconsin roots, and have been transplanted to California. I envisioned this, dreamt about being here closer to my sister, and perhaps even romanticized it. But the truth is, I miss home and feel out of sorts. I think that has been the theme for 2017 for me, but, I have certainly learned about myself and this world we live in. And also about how much I love a cup of coffee with frothy almond/coconut/soy milk (this is the BEST frother EVER...also, a just-because gift from my boo in the form of a milk frother is pretty amazing). I miss a lot of "things" from home, but this feeling of newness is not...new? In between moving 6 times and three different jobs over the last year, I feel that a perspective shift is in order to go along with my physical shifts.I have been meditating on the daily. I have been surrounding myself with people that I love, both physically and virtually (Jess Lively podcasts are amazing for life flow advice, Mimi Ikkon inspires me to take care of myself, and my favorite blogs have been picking up my less-than-creative feet the last few months; I even had the opportunity to meet Deb at a book signing here in Berkeley-so cool! We had a breif chat about caramel...I am sure I blushed a lot, and didn't get a coherent sentance out, but still!) 

    It is time to turn things around (damnit!), and I hope that energy of perserverance, love, courage, warmth and generosity fills your holiday season. Also, I hope cookies do too. Whether you are avoiding the gluten, not diggin' the dairy, or just love ALL OF THE BUTTAAAAH and traditional things (ahem, me lately-traditions and simplicity bring comfort in turbulent times!), I present to you my 2017 holiday cookie round-up. Cookies that a) I love to make and eat and share or b) look, smell and taste pretty darn amazing, and will likely grace my holiday baking line-up this year. But really, this cookie became one of my  favorites in grad school, when one of the amazing undergrads, who is a spectacular baker and up-and-coming food scientist with an amazing blog to boot, brought these in to the lab one day (I think) in July when I was knee-deep in grad-skool-stressful-things (research, 3rd degree burns from caramel, Karl Fischer titrations, etc), and found deep enjoyment in nomming the shit out of a few of these cookies for a break with coffee. The korokova is sure to please you and your loved ones and your co-workers and anyone really. The korokova cookie is a classic shortbread, enriched with brown sugar, intensified wtih cocoa powder, and made just *that* much more indulgent by flakes of chopped dark (dark! I mean it! like at least 70% cocoa solids, and chopped-not chips or chunks!) chocolate. Punctuated by a flakey sea salt top, these are just...magical! As Dorie mentions in the recipe here on Food52, these cookies are fairly forgiving as they are delicious (see note below for my only pieces of advice, namely avoiding over baking and volume measuring of flour and cocoa...and then, for the last time, go and get yourself a scale for baking!! I own this one and love it, and my sister has this one and it is also a fine piece of kitchen equipment).Perfect for a host/hostess gift, a care package to be shipped accross the country (they are surprisingly sturdy), for nibbling on with your early morning cup of chilly weekday/weekend coffee/coffee after lunch at work when you're evading reviewing labels/etc, etc. Rich, sweet, salty and full of chocolate. Seriously, happy holiday baking, friends. Find some of my favorite, tried-and-true cookies below that I love to have around for the holidays, along with a few of my tips for holiday cookie bliss!Notes: to help prevent the dreaded overbake with the korokova, you want to take the cookies out even if you *think* you are pulling them out of the oven too soon-they will still appear to be moist and will be very soft fresh out of the oven, so be sure to let these guys sit a few minutes to cool and to finish their bake on the hot sheet pan. Your patience and fearless confidence with these cookies will be rewarded with a dense, yet delicate, cookie. And when in doubt, if they are still a little too soft after cooling a few minutes on the pan, just put them back into the hot oven for 1-2 minutes to help finish the bake. My last note is to urge you to use a scale for weight measurements for these cookies (I own this one, and my sister has this one, and both work very well for baking as well as coffee making!), especially with the dry ingredients. If you *must* use volume, be sure to fluff your flour and cocoa powder before scooping into your measure cup, and level off the top without compacting. Dorie has similar notes in her Food52 recipe here! Also, I urge you to sift the dry ingredients, especially the cocoa powder, as lumpy cocoa powder can be game-over for these cookies. Last note, to help life be easeful, which is really welcome around the busy holidays for many of you: you can pre-make these cookies, roll into the logs, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze or throw in the fridge until you're ready to slice and bake. The dough will last in the fridge for a few days, and in the freezer for a few months. In fact, I think these guys are actually easier to slice when cold and firm; if baking from the freezer, try to remember to take the logs out to soften a bit, either overnight in the fridge or a hour or so on the counter at room temp. 


    2017 Holiday Cookie Round-Up:

    The Rich and Nutty: These polvorones from the Bojon Gourmet are just sweet enough, full of nuts as polvorones should be, have lovely texture, and are just fun...all coated in powdered sugar...messy cookies are the best! See here for Buckwheat Cacao Nib Polvorones!

    The Traditional: Ok, so these...these are where chocolate chunk cookies bull-doze chcolate chip cookies. These chocolate chunk cookies are *the* best, so of course, just the ticket for the holidays. Life hack: using the Pound Plus bar of dark chocolate from Trader Joe's works very well here (but if you have access and the sheer will to use your "good shit" from your dark chocolate stash, you will not be sorry). Get your ass over here for chocolate chunk cookie bliss!

    The Cozy and Spicy: Now, to tone it down a notch for those vegans in your life. I offer up Angela's recipe for oatmeal cookies. But not just any: these are studded with chocolate, full of nuts, and have pockets of gooey dates (yes, get the good dates for these, please! I love Del Real). A splash of whiskey or bourbon in these guys never hurt anyone, either. 

    *THE* Gingersnap: head over here to get Alice's gingersnap cookie. It is the best. Stop your search now, and just make these, get some coffee on to brew, and then enjoy the gingersnap-coffee due of bliss. Repeat as necessary. 

    The (other) Chocolate One: so, technically, the korkova I am going to share is "a" chocolate one hailing from Mr. Herme himself, but if you are feeling more fudgey-cookie-like, I highly recommend these gooey-chocolatey numbers from the Bojon Gourmet via Cookie & Kate. Pockets of chocolate, bits of crunchy sea salt, barely held together with buckwheat and tapioca flour. Yum. 

    The Crunchy One: do I even have to say it? Biscotti. My recipe here is a formula for success, with lots of room for flexibility. Use your favorite nut, add in your favorite citrus zest, play around with the fat source (olive oil! Coconut oil! Butter!), go traditional and add in brandy and anise seeds (and dunk into espresso). Just get to it! 


    Now, some tips that I find useful for holiday cookie baking (and cookie baking in general):

    -Pre-mix batters and doughs for cut-out/sliced/drop cookies; freeze whole logs (as in the korokova recipe I share below) or cookies already portioned and rolled into balls. You can even pre-coat gingersnaps with demerara sugar when you freeze them (see picture below!), place into a bag, and label with the baking time and temperature. Thaw logs of cookies overnight in the fridge, and bake pre-balled frozen cookies straight from the freezer (you may need to add a minute or two to the baking time, but seriously, this frozen cookie magic works beautifully!). Note: I have also had success with freezing polvorones already rolled in powdered sugar, too, but just beware that like all things involving powdered sugar, it may just get...everywhere...heh...

    -Bake a few batches of biscotti at a time and freeze. They freeze beautifully, and are also quickly "freshened" by a quick trip (5ish minutes) in a 350F oven. 

    -Parchment paper. Do I need to say more? Unless you like to clean sheet pans. I do not.

    -Sea salt. It adds a crunchy, contrasting flavor to many cookies...yes, even on the classics like oatmeal! I love Maldon (also take note of the 3.3lb tub of it...ha!) If you question paying $6-$8 for a box of salt, know that a box lasts for a few months at a time, and pinching the lovely crystals between your fingers and scattering them all over everything will bring you immense joy and pleasure! I promise!

    -Gift bags and boxes. I love to use simple clear cellophane bags (like these), twisted shut with a twist tie (go figure!), and optionally made more "festive" with ribbon. If you're like super-Martha, you could even pre-make bags of baked cookes and store in the freezer.

    -Cookies easily sub for a wonderful gift, host/hostess thank-you, and even a dessert if you're slated to bring "something" to a gathering. Who the hell ever said "no" to a holiday cookie assortment and a bottle of wine? 

    -Cookies have been proven* to boost morale; bring a tray to work, leave it in the break room, and feel goo about the fact that your are spreading that holiday cheer (just be sure to label with gluten, nuts, dairy, etc...because that is just the right thing to do!)

    -Cookies are acceptable for breakfast. Anytime, but especially around the holidays. 

    *just really speculating here, based on qualitative observation, but I think we can at least be 95% confident that this statement is more than likely true.



    Korkova Cookies (aka: World Peace Cookies) // Recipe from Pierre Herme, via Dorie Greenspan // Makes about 30 cookies // 

    • 1 stick plus 3 TB (150g) unsalted butter, room temperature*
    • 1 1/4 cups (175g) all purpose flour 
    • 1/3 cup (30g) natural cocoa powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt (or, 1/2 tsp flakey sea salt, like Maldon)
    • 2/3 cup (120g) light brown sugar (pack the cup full if using volume measure)
    • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract, bourbon or coffee liquer
    • 5 oz (150g) (which is about 3/4 cup) chopped bittersweet (or darker chocolate as desired), no larger than 1/3" pieces

    *room temperature butter can be acheived by letting your butter sit at room temperature for at least a few hours, ideally overnight; the texture of the butter is fairly critical for this recipe, so don't try that microwave-softening trick...you know it doesn't work, right?

    1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl that will accomodate beating vigorously with a hand mixer, place the room temperature butter and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, and add the sugars, salt and vanilla extract (or bourbon or coffee liquor). Beat again for 2 minutes, at which point the mixture will be fluffy.

    2. Weigh and sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda), pressing out any lumps through the sifter. If you are using volume measurements, be sure to fluff the flour and cocoa with a fork prior to scooping into the measuring cup, and leveling off without compacting, prior to sifting (see notes above).

    3. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the butter and sugar mixture, starting at the lowest speed on your mixer at first to avoid a flour/cocoa explosion, then mix on medium for a count 5 seconds, then stop and scrape down the bowl. Continue to mix until a crumbly dough comes together (it will be crumbly-don't be alarmed), taking care to not over mix (I repeat: crumbles are ok!). Scrape down the bowl again, add the chopped chocolate, and mix breifly until the dough looks consistently moist (but it will still be a bit crumbly).

    4. Using your hands, bring the mixture together into a crumbly but cohesive ball; divide into 2 portions, and roll each into a log that is 1 1/2" diameter (this is about 12" long). Do not stress about perfect logs here, as you can roll into a more even log once the dough is in plastic wrap if you wish. Roll in plastic wrap, taking a few seconds to make the logs more even if desired. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days (or put into the freezer for up to a few months; thaw overnight in fridge before slicing and baking).

    5. Preheat oven to 325F. Taking the logs straight from the fridge, using a sharp non-serrated knife, slice into 1/2" segments. Each log should yield about 15 1/2" rounds. Crumbles will happen, so gently press and encourage the dough back into rounds. Place about 1" apart on baking sheets, optionally lined with parchment or Silpat. Sprinkle the tops with flakey sea salt if desired. Bake for 12 minutes, at which point the cookies will look quite moist, but this is normal; allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet until just warm to the touch, then cool on racks. If after cooled the cookies are underbaked, simply return to the 325F oven for 2 minutes longer, and again allow to cool until just warm to the touch. 

    6. Enjoy fresh, or hoard at room temperature for up to a few days. The baked cookies can also be frozen, and enjoyed straight from there will be firm, crunchy and delightfully chewy. Dunking into hot coffee is encouraged!



    On the sheet, sprinkled with sea salt (I love Maldon), ready to bake. Success is sweet, chocolate-y and sea salt-y. Mmmm.Ready the coffee, tea, gift bags and/or boxes. These guys are amazing to share, savor and delight in. Enjoy!

     

  • Browned Butter, Buckwheat & Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

    That is a mouthful! Eating 2 of these cookies at one time annnnd the title..."browned butter, buckwheat, walnut chocolate chunk cookies". They may look a little...homely...but they have incredieble flavor and texture. Note: you may use chocolate chips, and you may omit the walnuts. Similarly, I could see substituting hazelnuts being *amazing* in these.These cookies were born when I participated in a cookie swap in efforts to raise funds of the ACLU, that the lovely Miss Jen held at her crazy adorable pie shop (also, super tasty pies...I shouldn't have to say that about a shop that sells all-things butter and pie...right? Ok...good). I was also in-between moving from Beloit to my new place here in Viroqua (*happy dance*), and was spending a few days/nights at my Dad's in Madison. Let us just say that baking cookies for others is my kind of therapy when things get a liiiiittle stressful. Nibbling on pieces of chocolate, browning butter, adimiring the rich colors of buckwheat flour....I love it all. And I really, really love these cookies.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE a solid, well-executed chocolate chunk cookie. Sprinkled with sea salt, dunked into hot coffee, loaded with chocolate chunks...nothing will beat that. But for those who cannot eat the glutens (turns out, many people are still dabbling in the gluten-free arena), these are a really amazing option. The nutty buckwheat flour compliments the browned butter, and walnuts offer lots of crunch. And the chocolate. The chocolate....is the chocolate. I think I prefer these made with chunks of chocolate-some little pieces, some small, some shavings....but chocolate chips will do just fine. Just be sure to get your hands on some rich dark chocolate here-the contrast of the bitterness against the sweet cookie is *awesome*. A few notes on the flour and such: you can use either Bob's Red Mill buckwheat flour (it is blue-ish in hue, and almost like fine sand in texture) or a more flour-y buckwheat flour. I have made these cookies with both, and while both give slight different textures, both are equally delicious. The Bob's flour cookies were a little more crunchy and crispy around the edges, and were also a little more flat (i.e. they spread a litte more). Made with a more powdery, locally milled buckwheat flour prdoduced a more brown colored batter, and a cookie with less spread, so a more gooey, chewy center. I would 100% recommend allowing the batter for either version to rest for at least 30 minutes (bummer, I know...), or even overnight in the fridge. This allows the buckwheat to absorb moisture, and helps the batter thicken up a touch. Since these cookies lack that viscoelastic, streatchy network of gluten, their structural integrity can be improved with a nap. Your patience will be rewarded! They will still be space hogs, and spread quite a bit with baking, however.  And lastly, do NOT omit the tapioca flour (or sometimes called starch). You can easily find this in most grocery stores, and is extremely helpful in binding gluten-free baked goods...mmmkay? And I don't have to say this (do I?) but please try to use the best butter, sugar, eggs...just like a savory dish, with such few ingredients, using the best you can source really pay off here. But, if the cookie need is strong, use what you have in your pantry.....I get it! Enjoy, eat lots of cookie dough, steal nibbles of the chocolate...you got this!And lastly, if you wish, you can mix these up, portion them out into balls, and freeze. When the cookie need strikes, you can bake-off as many (or as few....but wtf is that with cookies?) as you need, straight from the freezer. Cookie addict hacks...so important for a happy life...right? 



    Browned Butter Buckwheat, Walnut & Chocolate Chunk Cookies // makes approximately 20, 2" diameter cookies // gluten-free; nut-free option (omit the nuts, yo!); soy-free // 

    • 1 stick (8 TB, 113g) unsalted butter
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup (160g) sugar*
    • 2 tsp molasses*
    • 3/4 cup plus 2 TB buckwheat flour (100g) buckwheat flour
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 TB (45g) tapioca flour or starch
    • pinch of cinnamon and/or freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 1/2 cups (6oz, 170g) dark/bittersweet chocolate (at least 65% cocoa solids, with roughy 80% cocoa solids being my favorite here), either in chip form or chopped into chunks from a bar
    • 1 heaped cup walnuts (leave these out if you can't do nuts or if you don't like them, or substitue with pecans, hazelnuts, etc...)

    *Lately, I have been making my own brown sugar, because to me, it tastes richer and is really simple to make. For this recipe, I use 3/4 cup organic cane sugar with 2 tsp molasses; you can eyeball the molasses if you're feeling saucy, or measure it out like the amazing baking you are! :)

    1. Brown the butter: in a medium saucepan (you'll be mixing in a few more things in here, so use a slightly larger one that you think-I used a 4-cup sauce pan), melt the butter over medium heat, and allow it to cook, swirling occasionally, until it starts to brown and smell nutty. It may foam a few times, and you'll notice some of the butter solids sticking to the bottom-just keep swirling until a golden color is reached. Allow the browned butter to cool for 5-10 minutes while you carry on with the recipe.

    2. Sift the buckwheat flour, tapioca flour/starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and baking soda into a large bowl. Chop the chocolate, and walnuts if using, or measure out the chocolate chips. Whatever you are mixing into the batter, get it ready now!

    3. Into the slightly warm browned butter, add in the sugar, molasses (or light brown sugar), vanilla and egg. Mix thoroughly. The mixture will be almost caramel-like in consistency. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients, mix for a few turns, and then add in the chocolate and walnuts. Don't be shy here-you can mix, mix, mix since we have no gluten to worry about developing. The batter will begin to thicken as you stir-this is the buckwheat flour working the magic it has....

    4. You can let the batter sit for 30 minutes, or covered overnight in the fridge now. After it rests, and when you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F. Form batter into roughly 2 TB dough, place on a cookie sheet, and sprinkle with sea salt (or you can form the balls, and freeze them for future baking). Bake for 8-12 minutes, rotating or turning the pans after the first 5-6 minutes to ensure even baking. For frozen cookie dough balls, it may take a minute or two longer for the cookies to bake. The cookies are done when they appear to be dry-ish in the middle, but may still look a little gooey. For crisper cookies, bake until the edges start to brown.

    5. Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes before removing with a spatula-the cookies are a little delicate fresh out of the oven. Store for up to 2 months in the freezer in a covered container, or up to 3 days at room temperature (if they last that long...).



    You know how to do this...be sure to allot your measurements for snacking on the chocolate and walnuts. Really. You know you will do it. Sift...gotta sift! Don't skip it. Brown the buttaaaah! Swirl, be patient...you got this...Now, sugar, molasses (or brown sugar) egg...all stirred up into a caramel-like mass....mmm mass....and not the church kind, the "gravitational pull" kind...Stir stir stir....be sure your browned butter is not super hot here, or else you may curdle (i.e. cook) your egg. We don't want that...at least, not in our cookies. Pour the lot over your sifted dry ingredients...and stir, stir, stir again! So, this is the same batter, only made with a locally milled buckwheat flour. You can see that the Bob's batter is a little more loose, but it will firm up after some time. And no nuts in the batter below! But lots of chips. See, we are flexible here...do what you gotta do!All balled up....ahoo hooo...(Elvis voice there...)You can also freeze your balls (teehee), and bake straight from there. Don't forget the sea salt on top!On the cookie sheet, with generous space apart, since these guys like to stretch their legs. And run into each other....cookie venn diagram...it happens!Same cookies, just made with the locally milled flour below (Bob's flour above). Cool, and enjoy. Be sure to let these rest for a minute or two on the cookie sheet before removing to cool, since they are delicate creatures right out of the oven. I mean, aren't we all, though?Nothing better than cookies in the evening light of spring....am I right? Enjoy! Share! Be merry. 

  • Holiday Cookie Line-Up!

    The cold days and dark nights of December, with their shortness and snappiness, encourages me reflect on my year. As with many, the end of the year is a time for peaceful reflection: where we were at the start of a year, where we are now. Goals we accomplished, adventures we went on, and decisions we made. Tears we cried, smiles we smiled. Laughs we laughed with so much life, our eyes started to water.

    Not going to lie, 2016 was one hell of a year for me. A "roller coaster" of a year sums it up quite well. Emotionally hard and taxing, the fear and anxiety of the unknown, the pressure of uncertainty. The internal push to make others happy and comfortable over my own happiness, and inutuition. Really, no pun intended, but it all snow-balled on me this week.

    The "holidays" have not felt as such for me yet. A certain unsettling feeling lingers, and as much as I try to harness this energy and put it towards positive action and creation, I find myself struggling. And I am sure many of you can relate to this feeling!

    But, nonetheless, I have conjured enough Christmas spirit and cheer to put together some treats I hope to share (ok, ok, and treat for me to enjoy with my coffee or tea each day, too!). I have a few more tricks up my sleeve, if I can motivate myself to melt some chocolate, and muster a stable emulsion. I think I can, I think I can.From left to right: gluten-free chai spiced walnut polvorones; ginger snaps; gluten-free walnut, coffee and cacao nib polvorones; orange and hazelnut biscotti (see here for recipe!); gluten-free buckwheat chocolate sea salt cookies (really they are like brownies masquerading as a cookie); and finally, gluten-free spiced cocoa and pecan polvorones.The polvorones were all inspired by The Bojon Gourmet. The spiced cocoa and pecan recipe is here, but the riffs I took on it (chai spiced, coffee-walnut-cacao nib) were taken with liberty by myself. The gingersnaps are made from my favorite recipe, and are from the infamous Alice Medrich (found in her Pure Dessert cookbook, as well as her cookie book). The biscotti recipe was recently posted here, and this time, I left the hazelnuts more intact by hand-chopping and must say I love the results (also, winning for not have to clean the food processor!). I also used Meyer's dark rum in place of bourbon. And finally, the gluten-free buckwheat chocolate sea salt cookies are from the Bojon Gourmet's new book, which I gifted my sister this past October for her birthday. I am storing these all in ziplock bags and containers, in the freezer, to maintain freshness over the next few weeks. And I warn you: a super crispy ginger snap, fresh out of the freezer, dipped in hot coffee, is love at first bite! So with this, likely my last post for 2016, I wish you the best holiday. Happy baking, cooking and candy-making. I hope you listen to your heart, follow your gut, speak to your intuition as much as you know how to right now in the present moment. Be fearless, own up to your shit, and move forward. Follow you dreams, feed your soul. As corny as that sounds, I am really starting to believe in this magic that we all have, sitting in our bodies, waiting to be summoned with courage. 

    Forward. For that is our motto in Wisconsin. Forward! My intention is to march into 2017 with my eyes and heart open, with deep breaths, and with the calm that January brings to us.  

    Peace, love and warm wishes to you all. I hope you find yourself with a hot mug of something a treat in hand many, many times over the holiday season! 

  • Orange, Hazelnut & Bourbon Biscotti // Lemon, Black Pepper & Walnut Biscotti

    **Update! August 2017: Turns out, lemon zest, walnuts and freshly ground black pepper make a delcious, floral and juuuust spicy enough combination to tickle your tongue...highly recommended for a lighter flavor-perfect for all seasons. See recipe notes below!**

    Alright. I don't exactly know how it is already December, BUT I do know that the holidays=cookie season. And hot beverage season. So naturally, biscotti rank high on my cookie list. Nothing is as satisfying as dunking a crunchy, nutty cookie into a hot cup of coffee (or whatever your hot beverage of choice is!). 

    I don't know about you, but, anytime during the day I can mentally and physically slow down enough to sit, make coffee or tea, and enjoy a treat is something I cherish. And even if you cannot manage to do this exact ritual, or don't need the sugar/caffeine rush, I think it is healthy to slow down during the day, take some deep breaths, and focus on the present. For December, I am making this practice one of my values for the month. Whether I will choose to do this before going to work amidst my morning routine, mid-day during work, or when I get home, I want to get back into expressing gratitude and being present each day (even if it is just for 5 minutes!). Because really, I think being a sane, grateful and kind person is a valuable gift we can give to the people in our lives, and our world at large, especially during the often stressful, emotional and hectic holiday season. Now, back to cookies! To be perfectly honest, this was my first ever batch of non-anise seed studded biscotti. Not going to lie, it felt a liiiittle like betrayal. My go-to recipe is from my Aunt (which she got from her mother-in-law, who is from Italian stock), and I have many fond memories of coming home after school, and being elated when seeing a small container of the golden crusted, anise seed studded cookies. Not too sweet, super crunchy, speckled with little bursts of black licorice from the anise seeds that would inevitably get stuck in your teeth, where they would hide as flavor bombs well after you were done munching. A perfect after school snack, I could easily munch down 3 or 4 of these treats while procrastinating on getting started with my homework (because eating biscotti > doing homework).

    But I realize that anise can be a polarizing flavor. When anise is invited to the holiday party, you know damn well that it will be staying for a while. Get out of the way, because anise likes to party-invading the dance floor, drinking all the holiday punch, and making a scene. And who drank the last of the egg nog? You bet your ass that it was anise. The presence of anise, strong and pronounced, is known immediately, and understandably, not everyone cares for this. Enter: a plays-well-with-others, even-tempered orange and hazelnut character, mellowed with vanilla and bourbon. I was extremely happy with the results after tweaking an Alice Medrich recipe to my liking (from "Chew Gooey Crispy Crunch Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies"): the crunch factor and texture were spot-on, the flavors were well balanced, and the test of dunking a biscotto into a hot foamy latte passed with flying colors (and don't worry, I verified this seveal times for research purposes). Beyond being delicious treats to savor alone, or with a mug of hot-something, biscotti of any variety are ideal for the holidays: they keep very well, growing crunchier as they sit (put them in a pretty container on your counter next to your coffee maker); they also ship with ease, and travel like champions, so are perfect for sending to people you love around the holidays (and I don't think any sane host/hostess would turn down a tin of biscotti as a thank-you gift!). Simply put: make a big batch, store them in the freezer or on the counter in an air-tight container or jar, then share and enjoy! Notes: while the hazelnut flavor is amazing, I realize finding good quality raw hazelnuts to toast at home is a challenge at times, so substituting your favorite raw nut of choice, and freshly toasting at home, would be perfectly acceptable. Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and even pecans, would work here (or heck, try a combination!). They key, as I mentionted, is to freshly toast raw nuts to ensure optiumum freshness and flavor. Using your discretion based on what type of nut you use, adapt which extracts and booze to use in the recipe, but please strive to use pure extracts, and booze that you would actually drink (i.e. no Fleishmann's here!). I favor a high quality vanilla extract, and am working through a bottle of Four Roses Single Barrel. Rum, Drambuie, Frangelico, Brandy and Sambucca are all worthy contenders, based on your preferences for booze. In addition, seek out high quality extracts, reading ingredient labels to make sure no corn syrup or other nasty additives are present. And lastly, yes, the orange zest would be completely adaptable to another type of citrus zest (lemon! lime! bergamot!), but is also completely optional if you get right down to it. One could also sneak in some finely chopped dark chocolate as well to this recipe! But truly, the orange/hazelnut/bourbon combination is a winner for sure. 



    Orange & Hazelnut Biscotti // Lemon, Walnut & Black Pepper Biscotti**// makes 15-18 larger 4" to 6" long cookies, or 24 smaller 2" to 3"  long cookies //

    • 1 heaping cup whole hazelnuts, or nut of choice, freshly toasted
    • 1 cup (4.5 oz) unbleached all purpose flour*
    • 1 cup  (4.5 oz) spelt flour*
    • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 cup (7 oz) sugar
    • zest of 1 orange, or citrus of choice, organic if possible
    • 4 TB melted butter, or 4 TB extra virgin olive oil
    • 3 large eggs
    • 2 TB bourbon, or booze of choice
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract, or extract of choice

    *feel free to use either 100% all purpose flour OR 100% spelt flour, or a combination as noted

    **to make the lemon, walnut & black pepper variation, replace orange zest with lemon zest, walnuts with hazelnuts (no need to peel the walnuts!), and add 1 heaping teaspoon of *freshly* ground black pepper, with more finely ground working the best (or else you'll sift most of it out). As for extracts and booze, you can omit them entirely and let the flavors of the lemon and black pepper shine, or do as you wish, and add the bourbon and vanilla!**

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spread nuts on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Toast nuts until fragrant, about 7-10 minutes. If using hazelnuts, after toasting, transfer slightly cooled nuts to a kitchen towel, wrap, and begin to rub the skins off by massaging the hazelnuts in the towel. Shake partially skinned hazelnuts into a colander, rub together with hands to get remaining skins off. 

    2. Transfer skinned nuts into bowl of food processor, and process into a coarse meal. Alternatively, coarsely chop nuts with a sharp knife. 

    3. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, sea salt and nutmeg. Add chopped nuts and stir to combine. 

    4. In another large bowl, combine the sugar and the orange zest. Rub together to work the oils out of the orange zest until the sugar is moist and fragrant with the orange oil. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the melted butter or olive oil, and then finally whisk in the booze and extracts. 

    5. Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture with the chopped nuts. Stir until a moist, thick and sticky batter is formed. Using lightly oiled or moistened hands, turn the batter out onto a an oiled parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Form the batter into a long rectangle of even thickness that is 12"-14" long and 4"-5" wide, using the larger measurements for smaller, shorter cookies. 

    6. Bake the rectangle for 45-50 minutes, until firm to the touch and dry in appearance. Allow the log to cool for 15-30 minutes, until cool to touch, and then slice using a serratd knife into 1/2" to 1" thick slices. If desired, cut on a bias or a diagonal. Place sliced biscotto back onto the baking sheet, and return to the oven for the second bake for 40-55 minutes, flipping the cookies halfway through baking, until golden brown. Allow to cool, and then store in airtight containers at room temperature or in the freezer.