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I Took A Break to Eat Cookies. So Sue Me. Please Don’t Sue Me. I Brought You Cookies. (Also I Have No Money)

22 Jan

Oh you guys.

It’s been, as the kids say, a minute. Or, as this overgrown baby would say, it’s been a freaking month, Sad Shibow, you swine.

Blue period. I don’t know what else to say, guys. There are entire weeks where I cannot handle bad combos of bad badness, or even meh mehness, or sometimes, just, you know, days in general. The holidays are hard as it is, and much of the past month could be described as “baby steps halfway up the mountain, then Donkey Kong comes out of nowhere and kicks my brown butt all the way back down to the sharp, rocky bottom.” That’s about as good as it’s going to get in terms of articulating this latest awesome sad segment. Maybe this time the magic mixture for my Crap Pie was 1 part holidays, 2 parts weather, 4 parts financial probz, 3 parts friend/family bull, and equal parts David Bowie isn’t here anymore and Trump is still talking. All of these things combined to create a great disturbance in the force.

Speaking of The Force… who saw The Force Awakens?? I SURE DID, the day it came out, and I’ve got the videotape to prove it! That’s right, folks, Sad Shibow was on the ol’ picture box, being a total nerd. And for those of you wondering why I look so spaced, a. I HAD JUST SEEN THE FORCE AWAKENS YOU JUDGMENTAL BUBS! and b. I’d had many many drinks of the bourbon nature the night before and was still recovering. Also, if you happened to see me commuting home that night, drunkenly air-drumming to Bollywood tunes alone on the F train and holding back tears (because hammered Shibow is SAD Shibow), I’m sorry. Also also, if you have film evidence of these happenings, I will pay handsomely to keep it under wraps. Just kidding. I’m broke, you all know this. But we can have a viewing party at my place if you’re in the market for a new friend. I know I could always use a new homie. 

So how were all of your holidays, if you celebrate such things? Mine were simple and quiet, just how I like them, and made so much happier by…

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Those of you who know me IRL know how much I love, love, love Robicelli’s Bakery, a friggin’ boss sweet shop that just recently closed its Brooklyn post. While I was at work one day, Jimmy snuck off to Bay Ridge (which is a TREK for those of us without a car, guys) to get Allison Robicelli to sign my copy of the Robicelli’s cookbook, mere days before the bakery closed. How wonderful is this? Is he?! And even though the clouds haven’t exactly lifted over the House of Shibow, every time I crack that book open and read Allison’s wonderful, profanity-laden note and think about what a pain in the ass it is to ride the local R a bajillion stops and how impatient Jimmy is with our transit system anyway, I remember: I am loved. And when you’re sad and wondering if most of the people you used to know hate you or if you’ll ever find your way in the world or if you’ll ever learn to contour your face properly like those Youtube geniuses, feeling loved matters. 

Speaking of feeling loved, how often does a stellar chocolate chip cookie make you feel cared for and happy? What, you say it’s unhealthy to eat feelings? You say it’s abnormal to feel strong emotions for a cookie? Have you never had a Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip cookie before? The self-proclaimed “Mr. Chocolate” found his way into my probably-clogged heart one day while I was on my lunch break and looking for a nearby, temporary panacea for whatever blues I was experiencing at that moment. I found such a cure at the Jacques Torres shop at Grand Central Station, and direct everyone I know who is feeling happy, sad, hungry, or anything at all to said shop’s chocolate chip cookie. Big as your face and probably just as delicious (you hottie, you), these cookies will solve all of your problems, as long as your problems are that you need cookies. And, if you unfortunately don’t live near a location, or will be trapped at home during Snowmageddon 2016, here is the recipe of your dreams, people. 

Jacques Torres’ Gigantic Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes 15 cookies)

adapted from Tasting Table

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of cake flour

1 2/3 cup of whole wheat flour

1 1/4 teaspoons of baking soda 

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons of coarse salt

1 1/4 cups of unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups of light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of white sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

4 cups of bittersweet chocolate discs (I used these which are pricey but the real deal and absolutely worth it, but use any discs you’re comfortable with– each is about the size of an American quarter)

Coarse sea salt, for garnish

(Keep nearby for snacking purposes. This is vital.)

(Keep nearby for snacking purposes. This is vital.)

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together your flours, baking soda and powder, and salt. Set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl and using a hand mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth and pale yellow in color, 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating until well mixed, then stir in vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add in dry ingredients, mixing just until combined, about 10 seconds.

Carefully fold chocolate discs into dough (I use a rubber spatula and go slowly to prevent breaking the discs). Cover bowl with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly against the dough, and refrigerate for at least 3 and preferably 8 hours. You can also freeze the dough at this point for up to a month, but if I know there is cookie dough nearby I shamelessly use it/eat it. Yes, raw. I’M NOT A ROLE MODEL DAMMIT.

Once chilled, preheat your oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out 5 fist-sized mounds onto each sheet, about 3 inches apart (you will likely need to use one sheet twice, as we’re making 15 cookies and…math). Lightly garnish with coarse sea salt and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking. The cookie’s edges should be lightly browned and the centers should still be soft. Cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat until all cookies are baked.

So… I don’t really want to talk about these.

The layers of chocolate within the cookie. Tell me you see those layers. 

The layers of chocolate within the cookie. Tell me you see those layers. 

I kind of just want to keep showing them to you.

Yes, that is one mostly-eaten cookie on top of a fresh one. Self control is not my strong suit.

Yes, that is one mostly-eaten cookie on top of a fresh one. Self control is not my strong suit.

They are, by far, my new favorite Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I have been spoiled. There is no going back from this. 

Hurricane Holiday/When I Finally Learned That Tassie Is Not A Dirty Word

16 Dec

You guys! Welcome to Hurricane Holiday, where all of your dreams have been hijacked by nightmares of strange old women assaulting you in your childhood home, pretending to be personal trainers hired by your parents.

…Or is that just a thing that is happening to me?

Well… moving right along then, let’s talk holiday cookies! And before people start accosting me for using the word “holiday,” ya’ll should really read through this blog a little bit more closely. It gets WAY more offensive, trust. Also, if you’re curious, I personally celebrate Christmas, but I know a lot of you don’t, and hey, cool man, we’re all here because we like cookies. Anyway, a couple of months ago, I came across a badass project called the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, which organized a – youuuu guessed it– cookie swap between food bloggers all over the world. An opportunity to receive cookies from other bloggers? An opportunity to also bake cookies for other bloggers, fret over shipping them, then anxiously panic that they’d been destroyed in transit or suddenly went bad/were always bad but my taste buds are wack and now everyone hates me why why whyyyyyy did I agree to this? Serious anxiety, guys. It ain’t just a river in… never mind.

Ha...ha?

Ha…ha?

But yes, I was terrified to participate. I’ve got Imposter Syndrome real, real bad, and it doesn’t really help that my camera’s busted but I’m trying to work on bettering my food photography skills. Fortunately, thanks to some great pep talks, a little bit of hope, a LOT of blasting Beastie Boys tunes and some serious power-pose sessions, I was able to power through and be a part of an awesome swap that benefited research that will combat children’s cancer. Who could say no to that? I decided to send a cookie that would be different, yummy, chocolate-y and somewhat difficult, because I am a masochist/love a challenge. Enter the tassie. 

So, in the spirit of the holidays, I’ll just come right out and be honest with all of you: I had never heard of tassies until about a month ago. Neither had anyone around me. In fact, Jimmy was so confused that once I told him what I was baking, the only question he had was “that’s what showgirls wear right? Those are edible?” 

The places this boy’s mind goes. (Full disclosure: I also thought this.)

Basically, a tassie is a mini-pie that is so mini it is a cookie. Yes. That sounds about right. And because I was looking at making this ultra-chocolatey, I decided to go fudge-filled. And because I wanted to be different/make my life hard/have lots of chai, I decided to go chai-flavored fudge. Set aside a morning and afternoon, friends. Make a hot Spotify playlist. These are worth it.

For the Tassie shells, adapted from

The Cookie Bible

3 ounces of cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup of butter, softened

1 cup of all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons of sugar

2 tablespoons loose chai for rolling, optional

For the Chai Chocolate Fudge

3 1/2 cups of white sugar

1 1/3 cups of milk

1/4 cup loose chai

2 black tea bags

1/4 cup of light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne

1/4 cup of butter, cut into small chunks

1 teaspoon of vanilla

For the tassies, beat cream cheese and butter until combined. Stir in flour and sugar until dough forms. Cover and chill for at least one hour, until dough is firm.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 24 one-inch balls and place each ball in the cup of a mini muffin tin. Roll in loose chai if desired.

Press dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of each cup. 

Bake for 20 minutes, until the shells are golden brown. Allow to cool completely before popping shells out of the tin (you may need to use a spoon to help them). 

Time to get fudgin’. Ready a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and a clip-on candy thermometer. Combine milk, sugar, loose chai and black tea bags in saucepan over medium-low heat. 

Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil, takes on a light-brown tone and smells like my parents’ house on Christmas morning. Oh, so my dad makes a kick-ass chai most holiday mornings, and it makes the house smell spicy-sweet. So, just cook until you start smelling the good stuff (chai. It’s chai). Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl. Clean out saucepan thoroughly (or use a new one, rich guy) and pour milky tea mixture back into pan. Add in corn syrup, salt, cocoa powder and spices. Clip thermometer to the side of the pan– making sure the tip does not touch the bottom of the pan– and place over medium heat. Stir constantly, until the syrup and cocoa powder have dissolved. 

Continue to cook fudge mixture until it reaches 234°F. Watch the mixture closely, as it will get hot very, very quickly. If you’re worried about spillage, you can place a wooden spoon over the pan to stop it from bubbling over, like so:

Once it reaches the desired temperature, remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla until fully incorporated. Stir vigorously for about two minutes until you are sugar no solids remain, then pour fudge mixture into tassie shells.

Allow to set, about one hour, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt if desired. 

Swoon. 

Swoon. 

So, thoughts? They’re mini pies, people. They’re mini chai chocolate pies, people! How could that be wrong? They weren’t. They were so right that I am currently making them– as in I am waiting for the shells to bake up at this very moment. You could pretty much fill them with whatever your hearts desire– that means fudge, ganache (which I’m thinking I’ll go with tonight), various holiday candies, dried fruit (*shudder*), peanut butter– you name it. It’s the holidays, people. Time for weird dreams and decadent cookie. 

 

He Who Shall Not Be Named Ruins A Day That I Don’t Feel Like Talking About (I Made Cake)

6 Oct

But not birthday cake. Apparently that would be sad. And I am not one to be sad

This isn’t sad. Neither is this. Nope.

Nope. 

Yeah, so… it’s early October, which can only mean two things: the Fall TV season has started, and my birthday is nigh (as in, today. bleh). And that first thing also apparently means another thing. Ugh:

THE HELL? Who let you back in to ruin my life? I knew it. I felt it. The air was heavy with the scent of apples and terror; there was to be some (*shudder*) Stamos in my doomed future. Just the name, the name alone is upsetting. Jimmy is now well-trained enough to change the channel as soon as he hears either “John Sta-” (changed) or “Uncle Je”-(switched). But seriously, things have been lame lately. I, like many humans, have a tendency to want to cry uncontrollably around my birthday and I sort of don’t know why. It’s not really so much because I feel old– as I drunkenly found out last Saturday night, I can still climb a chain-link fence like a boss (though I also went to bed around 9:30 that night. “Bed” being the F train, but still, I would have been out cold if I had not been roused at my actual stop by my trusted companion). It’s more because I find the passage of time and all that comes with it to be almost too much to handle. So much is different this year, so much that I always thought would be the same– people I thought I’d know forever that I had to let go of, ideas about myself that I’ve had to change, velvet scrunchies becoming popular again. These things can do irreversible damage to one’s psyche. Permission to sleep this year off and come back for the little 3-0? Granted? Yes?

While you ponder, let’s talk about cake. Or, more accurately, Things That Are Greater Than Or Equal To Cake But Are Shaped Like Cake. Guys I didn’t know what to call this monstrosity. WTF Cake seemed like it was probably taken, I’m So So Sad Cake seems too on-the-nose, and Chocolate Chip Cookie/Peanut Butter Cheesecake/Dark Chocolate Brownie Cake with Peanut Butter Ganache seemed… lengthy. So bear with the title.

Not Birthday Cake, Because Apparently Baking Your Own Is Sad

For the Chocolate Chip Cookie layer

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup of butter (I recommend browning it first: set in a saucepan over medium heat, allow to melt and then brown until you start to see little buttery bits and it smells nutty)

1 cup of brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

1/2 cup of chocolate chips or chunks

Coarse sea salt for sprinkling, optional

For the Peanut Butter Cheesecake layer

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter

6 tablespoons of half-and-half

3 to 4 mini peanut butter cups, chopped (yeaaahhhh)

For the Brownie Layer (adapted from Smitten Kitchen, also first post on this blog!)

3/4 cup of cocoa powder

1 cup of white sugar

10 tablespoons of butter, softened 

1/4 teaspoon of salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup of flour

Yeah. This is a lot. Shibow never said this would be easy, just that it would be worth it, and NOT SAD AT ALL. Let’s WORK. 

For the cookie layer, preheat oven to 350°F and generously butter an 8×8 round cake pan. Combine all ingredients except coarse salt until batter forms. Gently fold in chocolate chips until distributed evenly. Spread batter in pan, evening out the top with a rubber spatula, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is set and the sides have browned. Sprinkle sea salt on top if using, then let cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. 

GIANT. COOKIE. 

GIANT. COOKIE. 

Let’s work on our brownie layer next, since the oven is already on and we’re the kind of people who want our cake, want it now, and are slightly, disturbingly obsessive about the goals we make when the goals we make are cake-related. Preheat the oven to 325°F this time, and wash out that large bowl you used for the cookie layer, because you’re gonna need it again (fancy rich folks, sure, use another large bowl, whatever, not even bitter at all about it, kudos for making all those good life choices). Cover the bottom and sides of an 8×8 round cake pan with foil. Combine cocoa powder, butter, sugar and salt in bowl and sift together until lightly mixed. Heat in microwave for up to a couple of minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir everything together (alternatively, you can set this over a simmering pot of water as long as you’re not accident prone, which is to say, as long as you’re not me). You can stop when it’s warm but not hot and appears grainy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, with a wooden spoon, until mixture takes on a nice sheen. Stir in flour and beat vigorously until you’ve got yourself a gorgeous batter. Send into the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is set and a cake tester comes out with just a few delectable crumbs on it (that you will not immediately lick, for you have manners and know the dangers of Licking Hot Things. It’s late guys. I’m well aware of how accidentally dirty this whole post is, and IDC). Let cool completely before removing from foil and pan.

If you’re not totally done with me yet, let’s work on our cheesecake middle (also what I call my torso, waka-waka?). Beat cream cheese with electric mixer on high until fluffy, then gradually add in sugar until combined. Mix in peanut butter, then slowly add in half-and-half until the mixture is creamy and totally smooth. Gently fold in chopped peanut butter cups and spread into a generously buttered, foil-lined 8×8 cake pan (yes, of course I recommend using the same pan over again thrice. Not the same foil though. We’re not animals). Freeze until completely solid, at least an hour. Remove and sandwich between your giant cookie and giant brownie. Refrigerate while making your ganache. 

Just some previews. idk. The paper towel? I knew this was going to be messy and I wanted napkins nearby, but I figured it would just make sense to have them under the cake, so I could just rip some paper towels off the actual cake to save time. I'm joking. No I'm not. I am. (I'm not)

Just some previews. idk. The paper towel? I knew this was going to be messy and I wanted napkins nearby, but I figured it would just make sense to have them under the cake, so I could just rip some paper towels off the actual cake to save time. I’m joking. No I’m not. I am. (I’m not)

Peanut Butter Ganache

2/3 cup of heavy cream

6 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter

Set chocolate aside in a heatproof bowl. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan until simmering but not boiling. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for one minute before stirring. Continue to stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is shiny. Stir in peanut butter until melted, then immediately pour this glorious nectar over your cake, letting it spill over the sides like the beautiful disaster it is. Refrigerate until ganache has set.

Top with more peanut butter cups if you like (you like). 

Top with more peanut butter cups if you like (you like). 

IT'S SO SHINY

IT’S SO SHINY

Uhhhh…. I know. I’m crazy. This is madness. It’s pure madness. But I needed it, dammit. I needed that glorious, messy, indulgent, unbelievably unhealthy madness.

Pretty much my view for the past couple days, because I love this cake and I am a shut-in.

Pretty much my view for the past couple days, because I love this cake and I am a shut-in.

Oh and other people had this cake and were able to confirm that it was completely not sad but, instead, positively OMG. 

So? Well. Currently I am sippin’ on some serious Courvosier, eating some Not Birthday (and Not Sad) Cake, and listening to Biggie, throwing my hands in the air, because I’mz a true player. Only two of those things are true, and it’s the thing about eating cake and listening to Biggie, because BIGGIE, and also because I have often spoken about how broke I am due to circumstance, the economy and some Star Wars-related purchases I recently made. I guess there are worse ways to spend one’s… regular old Tuesday. Baby. BABAYYYYY.   

 

Melting Snowman Cookies. Because Nothing Else Is Ever Going To Melt

13 Feb

… Except my face, from boredom, from being inside, because currently it’s -5 degrees outside (with wind chill! The ! is there because the weatherpeople always seem to be so damned cheery about it).

Just kidding. I think my face is melting because I just received a crown, and heavy is the head that… ugh. Ok, it was the dental procedure kind of crown. Part one, actually (yes! There’s a PART TWO!). I now have a temporary crown, which is this strange, cemented plastic block that’s been stuck up into my molar. This mass is inserted by what can only be described as an upsettingly, painfully loud miniature airplane engine that zooms in and around the inside of one’s mouth for about as long as it takes to fly from here to Bermuda. Oh Bermuda. Would that I had spent my hard-earned nickels on a trip to Bermuda, instead of on this extremely expensive procedure. Sigh.

So what have you been doing to pass the time in this mind-altering cold? I’ve been binge-re-watching The Wonder Years. In fact, I’ve watched so many episodes that something finally occurred to me the other day…

photo (1)

Yes, that’s a five year old me on the left, also known as Brown Female Kevin Arnold. How I did not put this together earlier, I will never know. I suppose there are worse beloved television characters one could be compared to but…

I’ll let you finish laughing at me. Done yet? Come on. Ok, moving on. I know that it’s Friday, the 13th of February, and that that probably means some of you are expecting something either very spooky or very romantic. However, given that I am currently nursing a bit of a headache (see: airplane in mouth) and am also so over V-day stuff (the chocolate selections this year are kind of meh, no?), we’re going to go with something sweet, silly and cute, because I, for one, need some cheering up after this week.

Melting Snowmen (makes 20 cookies)

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

For the cookie

1/2 cup of butter, softened

1/2 cup of peanut butter

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/4 cup of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1/8 teaspoon of baking soda

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

3 tablespoons of milk

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

For the glaze

3/4 cup of white chocolate chips

10 mini peanut butter cups, unwrapped

Brown and orange sprinkles

To start, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Place peanut butter cups in the freezer (I’ll explain). In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer on high, until fully mixed. Add in sugars, baking powder and baking soda, until combined, taking care to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add in egg, milk and vanilla until incorporated, and then add in flour until batter forms.

Shape dough into twenty equally-sized balls. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 9 to 11 minutes (took me ten), just until the edges of the cookie are set and firm. Set aside to cool.

SONY DSC

Uhhh… someone ate a couple.

This particular one has a shadow over it because the boyfriend was looming, ready to snatch it.

This particular one has a shadow over it because the boyfriend was looming, ready to snatch it.

For the glaze, melt white chocolate in a small, heatproof bowl (I used the microwave- 1 minute at a time, stirring after each go until fully melted). Place cookies on a cool surface, then use a rubber spatula or butter knife to spread melted chocolate on cookies. Remove peanut butter cups from freezer and, with a small knife, cut each cup in half and place on cookie, wherever you’d like the top to be. Add sprinkles for eyes and nose, if desired. I had to use more white chocolate tinted with food coloring, because I just couldn’t bear going back out in the cold, and also because I kind of just wanted to eat these damned things already. Would definitely recommend springing for orange sprinkles.

One was naked so my boyfriend could do a "comparison." Spoiler: it was a tie.

One was naked so my boyfriend could do a “comparison.” Spoiler: it was a tie.

Mine look pretty jacked up, I know. They kind of look like melted snowbirds, which is sad, but also kind of artsy and beautiful, no? No, I get it. It’s just sad.

More importantly, how did they taste? Oh, they were totally delicious. The cookie was so soft, chewy and peanut-buttery, and not too sweet. I purposely cut the sugar in the cookie because I knew the glaze would be packed with sweetness, and it worked out just perfectly. Highly recommended as a fun, cold-weather treat.

Sugar and Spice. The Nice and Not Nice.

31 Dec

Some of the twelve of you who read this have probably noticed that I’m trying to post with a bit more frequency these days. I guess I’ve had a fire lit under me and am trying to keep this up, because I like fire. Wait.

My original intention was to have this post go up before Christmas, but some events transpired and it seems I couldn’t make that happen. My favorite professor died very recently. I think the most lovely tribute to him, in my eyes, has been how many other former students have called him their favorite in recent days. So many stories, so many fond memories, such a kind, kind person. In addition to many other small acts of kindness, he pushed me to take a massive risk by encouraging me to quit the most toxic “real world” job I’ve ever had, with no plan B on which to fall back. I would never have made that decision without him, because God knows I plan everything– I know exactly what I am having for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack and dessert today. But I will never regret that decision, that very life-altering decision. And I will never be able to thank him again. My life’s not exactly glamorous, but it’s better than it was, better than it would have been, I’m sure, had I stayed in a position that had me crying and shaking on the regular. And it’s strange not to see him pop up on Gchat anymore. I remember thinking recently that it was odd that he wasn’t on anymore, wasn’t “wasting time as usual” as he’d humbly type out whenever I messaged him (while he was probably working on yet another acclaimed pop culture-heavy book). I remember telling myself I’d shoot him an email, convincing myself I’d swing by the English Department I worked at as a college student to say hello to some old friends one of these days, prof included. That’s time for you.

This is from a beach in Montauk. Maybe it's "the beach in Montauk," or maybe there's an actual name, but I am too lowly to know these things. Anyway, it was beautiful and freezing and I had to climb a lot of slippery rocks to get to that point, and it was worth it.

This is from a beach in Montauk. Maybe it’s “the beach in Montauk,” or maybe there’s an actual name, but I am too lowly to know these things. Anyway, it was beautiful and freezing and I had to climb a lot of slippery rocks to get to that point, and it was worth it.

I’m not going to go on and on about how you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone, or that time is precious, or that we’re all too damn busy with nonsense these days to see what’s really important. And it’s not because those things aren’t true– they are– but it’s because the best way to honor the too-rare happy, genuine, humble, hilarious people in life is to try to be all of those things. And I will. I will try.

Was that a New Year’s resolution? I don’t really believe in those, mostly because I’m terrible all year round and am always actively trying to make myself less terrible. If you drunkenly force me into giving you one at a party or something though, my answer will probably be to stop f*$%ing cursing so much. Except those various symbols won’t be there because I’ll be saying the f-word, the full word and not “eff star star star star -ing” to you. Some people say they think it’s charming to hear a lady curse. My boyfriend might once have been one of those people, but I think maybe he is not anymore. Or, at least, I don’t find all of the horrific, crass words that now make their way out of my brain and through my mouth to be charming anymore. And forget my parents. If they could disown my profane ass (Does it count as cursing if I’m trying to call myself a donkey?) at 28, I’m sure they would. That was very long. Don’t you now wish you never came up to me at this hypothetical party, imaginary drunken stranger?

Speaking of parties, I made the cookies below and brought them to a party, and they were a huge hit. And you should either throw a party, wait for the next party you’re invited to, weasel your way into a party as if you were invited, or straight up crash a stranger’s affair and bring these.

Chai Browned Butter Snickerdoodles (makes about 40 cookies)

adapted slightly from Grandbaby Cakes

2 sticks of butter (I used salted, if using unsalted add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the recipe)

1 cup of granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 3/4 cups of all purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of loose chai or chai spice (I used loose chai and I was scared to but I totally shouldn’t have been…I’ll explain)

For the coating

1/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of loose chai or chai spice

So, I’ll start by ‘splaining myself. I have twenty five different kinds of chai at home. That is not an exaggeration; one time, on a whim, when I was feeling rich and stupid (probably drunk?), I purchased some sort of online deal that allowed me to purchase fifty bucks worth of chai. No, I didn’t pay fifty bucks for it, but what I discovered was that fifty bucks (or “fifty bucks” because I’m a cheapo/deal maven) buys a LOT of loose tea. It seemed like a waste to try to make my own “chai spice,” which to me never fully matches the taste of actual chai, when I had the good stuff at my disposal. Go ahead and use loose chai tea if you have it. It will not disappoint. (Also, WordPress keeps trying to tell me chai is not a real word, and it’s like, come on, WordPress. Give a brown girl some love and recognize.)

Whew. So, to begin, brown your butter. This isn’t a totally necessary step if you’re in a rush to get these cookies down your gullet, but… ok, it’s kind of totally necessary because it gives the cookies hella depth. To brown, melt your two sticks of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let the butter continue to cook until it turns brown, smells nutty, and there are tiny brown flecks in it. Set aside to let it cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until combined. Add in flour, baking soda, salt and chai and mix until a dough forms. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (note: this dough, as you can see from the yield above, makes a lot of cookies. I reserved about half of the dough and made more cookies three days later, which is about as long as I’d wager this dough will keep in the fridge, though it’s definitely freezable up to 3 months).

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Now, preheat your oven to 350ºF. Stir together cinnamon, sugar and chai spice for the coating and set aside in a small bowl. When dough has chilled, roll into tablespoon-sized balls, then cover in cinnamon-chai-sugar mixture and set on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Leave about an inch between balls, as these cookies will spread when baked.

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Bake for about ten minutes, until cookies have flattened out. I wouldn’t bake for any longer since you want to keep them nice and soft.

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Yes, ok? Yes, that is a big fat bite that I took before I even took this picture. The lens is also a little bit foggy because the cookies were still pretty hot when I took this picture, which means they were piping hot when I took a bite out of one, which I do not regret because it was FRIGGIN’ DELICIOUS. They were snapped up pretty quickly at the party, too– so quickly that I had to promise two guests that I’d make two face-sized chai snickerdoodles just for them next time.

Happy New Year, everyone. May it be beautiful, open and endlessly kind to you.

Homemade Mallobars. (East Coast… Can Ya’ll Really Feel Me?)

1 Jul

*Today’s post is going to be focused on the dessert and will contain little to no complaining on my part, just to see what being a primarily baked good-centered blog feels like.*
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRhHwHHKBss

So, how do you all feel about Mallomars?

I have no idea if those of you not in the Northeast are privy to the awesome power of the Mallomar. Last I heard, it was an East Coast thang.

I am unsure of my feelings on them.

So unsure that I had to go through several boxes of the seasonal treat this past winter to determine my feelings on them.

So unsure that I attempted to store three boxes away in my freezer so that I could continue to test them during the off-season. (Note: the aforementioned boxes have since mysteriously disappeared)

So unsure that when I realized my reserve boxes had gone missing (Ed note: contents of box were later determined to have been consumed by one James Hilger. Mr. Hilger resides with the author, and will pay dearly for his mistake) I furiously hunted down a homemade recipe for the treat, and vowed to make them as a summertime treat. In your sugar-coated face, archaic Nabisco rules!

If you want the truth, I actually respect Nabisco for attempting to limit my intake of this marshmallowy, chocolate-covered delight on a graham cracker platform. It’s a pretty good marketing strategy, considering the number of salivating Mallomar-devotees lurking outside of my– let’s face it, everyone’s– local Key Food come wintertime. But I just can’t live without ’em. I… I can’t. And so I attempted to make my own. Let’s do this, friends.

Homemade Mallobars (they’re bars because I cut them into bars, because I did. These made about 40 for me)

From the James Beard Foundation

For the Graham Crackers

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour (also called graham flour)

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

6 tablespoons of softened butter

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of white sugar

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

5 teaspoons of honey

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the Marshmallow

1/3 cup of water, plus extra for cooking

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 envelopes of plain gelatin

1 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup of light corn syrup

For the chocolate coating

1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate, chopped

We begin with our graham crackers. Now, if I were you, I’d start making these at least a day in advance of when you’d like to enjoy them, mostly because the graham crackers require a fair amount of chilling before being baked. Trust me, these will be well worth the wait.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flours, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until combined, then add in honey. Mix in the egg and vanilla until fully incorporated. Combine with dry ingredients and mix just until batter forms. Cover bowl and chill dough for at least two hours.

Remove dough from bowl and place between two large sheets of parchment paper. Roll out into a 1/8 inch thick sheet. Transfer flattened dough to a baking sheet and refrigerate again for at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325ºF. Carefully remove parchment sheet on top of dough. From here, you can either cut rectangles/squares of dough or bake as an uncut sheet, which is what I did. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let crackers cool completely.

These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.

These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.

So…. I decided to taste-test these before continuing on in my mission, mostly because I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten a homemade graham cracker. And I am now sorry that I have spent so much of my life on the store-bought stuff. The homemade ones were soft, sweet and had a deep, almost nutty flavor to them. I hope I never again let my laziness get the better of me by going with the pre-made stuff.

And now, on to the marshmallows. We’ve made marshmallows here before, and this won’t really be any different, but I’ll take you through the steps again so you won’t have to click back and forth.

To make your marshmallows, combine water and vanilla in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over water and set aside for at least 10 minutes. In a separate saucepan, mix together sugar and corn syrup. Pour in just enough water to make the mixture resemble wet sand. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to medium. Cook until the mixture reaches 260ºF (note: if you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can cook until the mixture reaches “soft ball stage.” Place a tiny amount of mixture in a bowl of cold water– if it becomes a soft ball, the mixture is ready to be taken off the heat), then remove from heat. Carefully stir water/gelatin mixture in, and stir until dissolved.

Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and whisk on high speed, taking care that mixture doesn’t splatter. Mix until thickened as much as possible, about 7 minutes. Next, you can either fill a pastry bag with marshmallow mixture or use a rubber spatula to spread mixture directly onto graham crackers. Gently smooth the top of mixture with wet fingers. Let firm and cool completely. At this point, if you haven’t already, you may cut into squares/something that vaguely resembles squares/amoebas/anything you want.

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When cooled, melt your chocolate (either in microwave or in a double-boiler), then pour chocolate over. Let chocolate harden, and serve.

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Words of warning: you will probably not be able to wait until these things are even close to not-still-hot before reaching for them. If you are, kudos, but if not, you were warned, genius. My fingers are still medium-rare from that mistake. Seriously, let these cool…

… Because once you do you will be left with magic. To be honest, they tasted more like s’mores than Mallomars, but I didn’t really care, because they were ridiculous. Also, I discovered that they are somehow even more amazing once frozen. O.M.G. DO THIS. With Independence Day approaching, I cannot think of a better way to salute ‘Murica than this magic.

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Homemade Mallobars. (East Coast… Can Ya’ll Really Feel Me?)

1 Jul

*Today’s post is going to be focused on the dessert and will contain little to no complaining on my part, just to see what being a primarily baked good-centered blog feels like.*

So, how do you all feel about Mallomars?

I have no idea if those of you not in the Northeast are privy to the awesome power of the Mallomar. Last I heard, it was an East Coast thang.

I am unsure of my feelings on them.

So unsure that I had to go through several boxes of the seasonal treat this past winter to determine my feelings on them.

So unsure that I attempted to store three boxes away in my freezer so that I could continue to test them during the off-season. (Note: the aforementioned boxes have since mysteriously disappeared)

So unsure that when I realized my reserve boxes had gone missing (Ed note: contents of box were later determined to have been consumed by one James Hilger. Mr. Hilger resides with the author, and will pay dearly for his mistake) I furiously hunted down a homemade recipe for the treat, and vowed to make them as a summertime treat. In your sugar-coated face, archaic Nabisco rules!

If you want the truth, I actually respect Nabisco for attempting to limit my intake of this marshmallowy, chocolate-covered delight on a graham cracker platform. It’s a pretty good marketing strategy, considering the number of salivating Mallomar-devotees lurking outside of my– let’s face it, everyone’s– local Key Food come wintertime. But I just can’t live without ’em. I… I can’t. And so I attempted to make my own. Let’s do this, friends.

Homemade Mallobars (they’re bars because I cut them into bars, because I did. These made about 40 for me)

From the James Beard Foundation

For the Graham Crackers

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of whole wheat flour (also called graham flour)

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

6 tablespoons of softened butter

2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of white sugar

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

5 teaspoons of honey

1 egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the Marshmallow

1/3 cup of water, plus extra for cooking

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 envelopes of plain gelatin

1 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup of light corn syrup

For the chocolate coating

1 1/2 cups of dark chocolate, chopped

We begin with our graham crackers. Now, if I were you, I’d start making these at least a day in advance of when you’d like to enjoy them, mostly because the graham crackers require a fair amount of chilling before being baked. Trust me, these will be well worth the wait.

In a large bowl, whisk together your flours, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until combined, then add in honey. Mix in the egg and vanilla until fully incorporated. Combine with dry ingredients and mix just until batter forms. Cover bowl and chill dough for at least two hours.

Remove dough from bowl and place between two large sheets of parchment paper. Roll out into a 1/8 inch thick sheet. Transfer flattened dough to a baking sheet and refrigerate again for at least an hour, or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325ºF. Carefully remove parchment sheet on top of dough. From here, you can either cut rectangles/squares of dough or bake as an uncut sheet, which is what I did. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let crackers cool completely.

These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.

These are what my rando-shaped graham crackers look like. They look so weird, I know. The taste, however, will make you want to slap the makers of Honey Maid in the face for ever deceiving you.

So…. I decided to taste-test these before continuing on in my mission, mostly because I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten a homemade graham cracker. And I am now sorry that I have spent so much of my life on the store-bought stuff. The homemade ones were soft, sweet and had a deep, almost nutty flavor to them. I hope I never again let my laziness get the better of me by going with the pre-made stuff.

And now, on to the marshmallows. We’ve made marshmallows here before, and this won’t really be any different, but I’ll take you through the steps again so you won’t have to click back and forth.

To make your marshmallows, combine water and vanilla in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over water and set aside for at least 10 minutes. In a separate saucepan, mix together sugar and corn syrup. Pour in just enough water to make the mixture resemble wet sand. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to medium. Cook until the mixture reaches 260ºF (note: if you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can cook until the mixture reaches “soft ball stage.” Place a tiny amount of mixture in a bowl of cold water– if it becomes a soft ball, the mixture is ready to be taken off the heat), then remove from heat. Carefully stir water/gelatin mixture in, and stir until dissolved.

Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and whisk on high speed, taking care that mixture doesn’t splatter. Mix until thickened as much as possible, about 7 minutes. Next, you can either fill a pastry bag with marshmallow mixture or use a rubber spatula to spread mixture directly onto graham crackers. Gently smooth the top of mixture with wet fingers. Let firm and cool completely. At this point, if you haven’t already, you may cut into squares/something that vaguely resembles squares/amoebas/anything you want.

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When cooled, melt your chocolate (either in microwave or in a double-boiler), then pour chocolate over. Let chocolate harden, and serve.

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Words of warning: you will probably not be able to wait until these things are even close to not-still-hot before reaching for them. If you are, kudos, but if not, you were warned, genius. My fingers are still medium-rare from that mistake. Seriously, let these cool…

… Because once you do you will be left with magic. To be honest, they tasted more like s’mores than Mallomars, but I didn’t really care, because they were ridiculous. Also, I discovered that they are somehow even more amazing once frozen. O.M.G. DO THIS. With Independence Day approaching, I cannot think of a better way to salute ‘Murica than this magic.

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