Shawn’s Shortbread

January 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Last weekend marked one of the year’s best holidays rivaled in my mind only by Halloween and, possibly, the summer solstice. This year one friend brought a delicious treat to the Secret Moses table: An adaptation of Mark Bittman’s “One Dough, Endless Cookies” pecan bar.

Despite using one of Instagram’s aesthetic lenses this photograph in no way reflects the majesty of such a cookie. Its buttery shortbread base, caramel innards, chocolate coat and pecan toppings came together as something much greater than the sum of four already delicious parts, manifesting themselves as possibly one of the most addictive sweets of 2011.

Shawn’s love of dark chocolate brought out the sweetness in the caramel while the pecan’s crunch proved the perfect foil for such soft, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread. These were devoured by the 15 of us in attendance, beating the pies and toffee bars by a landslide. Happy Secret Moses and congratulations, Shawn!


Mother’s Table

January 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

2011 has come and gone; December a blur of dark evenings, white lights, visits from friends, family, and one spectacular New Years party. The few days I managed to spend at home contained delights both edible and not, some captured below:

A half-eaten sugar cookie and slice of Harry & David pear.

Christmas-morning breakfast of homemade cranberry walnut bread.

It’s funny how certain places act as the threads that run continuously through our changing lives, my mother’s kitchen table acting as a prime example. Sitting here I am eternally all ages and yet the same, bound by years and years of collective memory. Quite peaceful– magical, even.

The Bounty

December 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

And now, to give thanks for what I have received:

Ashley from Savvy Table sent along these sturdy and oat-filled Anzac biscuits, perfect for a snack or even breakfast.

Slightly virtuous yet filled with a unique ‘golden syrup,’ these were unlike your normal oatmeal cookies.

Kelly from The Pink Apron sent some candy cane-inspired sugar cookies complete with swirled white chocolate kisses in the middle.

These were possibly some of the sweetest (no pun intended, really) things I have ever tried, and served to help my over-burdened coworkers burst through another round of document scans.

So, thanks to you both! Apparently there is still another batch in the mail; exciting, yet my taste buds are also thankful for the respite.

Gigi’s Molasses Cookies

December 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

Well, it looks like we are now within the “two weeks until Christmas” window and thankfully my holiday cheer has kicked in. I’d like to think it was the smell of fresh-cut firs and pines or the appropriate drop in temperature, the twinkling lights and festive gatherings, but honestly there is only one thing that has actually gotten me in the mood: cookies.

As a participant in a cookie swap, I had the pleasure of sending out three dozen of my favorite holiday cookies to strangers across the country. In return I received batches from two people (and am still waiting on the third!). Basically, last week I felt like an elf, what with shipping and receiving and re-gifting (to some much deserved coworkers) so much sugar in baked forms that I couldn’t help but absorb their cheerful goodness through my skin. And teeth. And stomach.

Anyway, here is the recipe for the lovely molasses numbers that I contributed:

Gigi’s Molasses Cookies

Gigi is my great-grandmother. No one makes them better than she did, but with some tweaking of the cooking time I think I have almost got it down! The main “secrets” are using only margarine and chilling the batter for as long as possible (up to 2 days) before baking. This allows for full flavor fusion and greater ease of forming the balls that are then rolled in sugar. Now please, make these and rejoice!

12 Tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) Margarine
1 Cup Sugar
¼ Cup Dark Molasses
1 Egg
2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Cups Flour – Sifted
½ teaspoon Ground Cloves
½ teaspoon Cinnamon
½ teaspoon Salt
Extra sugar for rolling dough

Preheat oven to 350° (or, for puffier cookies, 375° and bake for 7 minutes)
Melt the margarine and allow it to cool.
Mix the sugar, molasses and egg together in a large bowl.
Mix in the melted margarine.
Sift baking soda, flour, and spices and add to the mixture.
Chill the batter (dough will keep in the refrigerator for two days.)
Roll dough into 1-inch balls.
Roll balls in sugar.
Place on greased cookie sheets. (12 balls to a sheet.)
Press balls lightly with a fork.
Bake 7-9 minutes (depending on oven temp).  Do not overbake.
Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes.
Breathe deeply and inhale the spiced air. Eat. Enjoy.

I’m doing this

November 29, 2011 § 2 Comments

Get ready! On December 12th there will be multiple cookie reviews coming your way courtesy of a cookie swap (In this case the adjective "great" is ambiguous: are we all great bloggers? Or is the event itself a massive ordeal? Only time will tell). This could end up being quite the endeavor what with 3-dozen baked goods that will be arriving via air mail; hit me up if you're interested in helping. (Here helping = eating cookies, in case it wasn't clear...)


The Shop

November 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

This fall has brought several new additions to my midtown coffee/bakery arsenal (which once was comprised solely of Joe), what with Culture and Steve’s breaking onto the scene. And just today (after reading some pleasant reviews) I finally made it to The Shop, located across the street from the NYPL in the lobby of the Andaz hotel.

I felt it was my duty to sample both dessert and breakfast items and I can now say with authority that the chocolate-chip cookie (house baked!) and carrot-walnut muffin are divine*. The cookie was moist and studded with a plethora of tiny, tiny chocolate chips which, despite my general preference for huge chocolate chunks, added to the softness and general character of the cookie.

The muffin was potentially groundbreaking even despite spending a few too many seconds in the oven (as indicated by char marks on the muffin’s outer lip). Hints of cardamom played between finely chopped carrot and walnut, the inside moist against the firm and walnut-dusted edges. I might have to find a way to stop by 5th avenue more often; this could easily become a part of my morning menu.

*So divine, and my office break so peaceful as to involve no cell phones/cameras, that I did not get a chance to snap either item. Use your imagination!

New Monster

November 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

There’s nothing like the Thanksgiving long weekend to really put life back into perspective. Generally it involves some travel (for me, a whopping 15 minute drive “south”), rest, and time with old friends and/or family, the combination of which generally heads to self-reflection. You can’t help but notice what has changed since the last holiday, those people and things that have impacted you in the most enduring and profound ways.

This year, I came to terms with one of my lost loves whose presence has sadly been missing from my life since the summer. It’s name, as you might recall, is Monster:

That’s right, I miss my favorite cookie. And yes, it exists in two different bakeries within a 20 minute bike ride (or G train trip!) of my new apartment, making this melancholy all the more ridiculous. But I am stubborn, and perhaps lazy, and for whatever reason I just haven’t gotten around to returning to the old haunts. The city is large and worth exploring! Therefore imagine my immense pleasure upon discovering a new Monster at one of my favorite delis in Greenpoint, Brooklyn Standard.

Although they share the same name these baked items seem much more like cousins as opposed to identical (or even fraternal) twins. Where Tazza’s version is hefty, good for a full meal if not several, the Greenpoint variety is lighter with much less butter. This new Monster seems more like a trail bar or GORP’M bound by oats than a cookie and for this reason I considered it to be excellent post-breakfast fodder. While perhaps no match for the original Monster, my new friend definitely satisfies the craving. And apparently there is another relative at El Beit? Let the adventures continue.

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