Harvard Squares

February 20th, 2018

Harvard Squares

As a former school librarian, there is nothing more fascinating that visiting a local library in the town where I happen to be at the moment.  I recently got a visitor’s card to the New Smyrna Beach Library and have since checked out over 12 books.  I am like a gourmand in a food emporium when visiting a library and this library delivered.  All of the latest cookbooks where available.  Both David Leibovitz’s books,  My Paris Kitchen and L’Appart were on the shelves.  I also found Ottolenghi; The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

On a lighter note, I starting reading a culinary fiction series.  Katherine Hall Page is the author of the Faith Fairchild books about a caterer with the business “Have Faith in your Kitchen” who is also married to a minister.  She cooks up delicious food while solving mysteries and dealing with the challenges of being a minister’s wife.  In the book, The Body in the Attic, Faith and her husband make a temporary move to Boston where he is an interim Divinity Professor at Harvard.  I love the play on words of these Harvard Squares.  This is basically a bar cookie and allows you to make 48 cookies in one batch.  A great idea for a caterer or anyone not wanting to deal with batch after batch of cookies.

French Kande

I received a very special Valentine’s present this year.  I have been admiring the French Kande line of jewelry for a long time.  David gave me this necklace, although mine has a different Medallion.

French Kande Necklace

The designer, Kande, found French Medallions at a Paris Flea Market years ago and became inspired to create beautiful jewelry with them.

French Kande Medallion

My medallion is a  Silver Champagne medallion from the  Champagne region of France.  I love it.

Give the Harvard Squares a try.  I used a combination of chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.  The next time I would cut down or eliminate the butterscotch chips.  They overpowered the flavor profile.

HARVARD SQUARES

1 cup softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips or butterscotch chips (See above comment)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream the butter, then add the sugars and beat until fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing well.  Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, then add to the batter.  Combine the chocolate chips and other chips.  Stir them into the batter.

Spread the batter evenly into a well-greased jelly-roll pan (approximately 15 1/2 inches by 10 1/2 inches).

Bake in the oven until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool in the pan, then cut into squares.  Makes 48 squares.

Printable Recipe

 

Christmas Cheer

December 19th, 2017

Cookie Brittle

Cookie Brittle is a new treat for Christmas in our house.  The recipe came from one of my favorite sites, Food52.  I will be packaging this up for friends and neighbors.  The butterscotch-caramel flavor of this crispy treat is habit forming so be careful when you make it.  Someone in our house has been sneaking bits of it at all times of day and night.  Think I am going to have to make a second batch.

Shirred EggsThese shirred eggs make a wonderful festive breakfast for the holidays.  They can be prepared ahead and then baked when you are ready.  Make as many as you want.  It was a perfect Sunday morning meal.

Shirred Eggs

Served with bacon and Focaccia Bread Stick for dipping you can’t go wrong.  The recipe is here.

Christmas Card 2017 (1)

 

Our Christmas card this year.  The Grands are growing up so fast.  Wishing all of you a festive holiday and Happy New Year my friends.

You can find the recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle here.

Salted Caramel Almond Cookies

April 27th, 2017

Salted Caramel Almond Cookies 4

I try very hard not to eat sweets.  But there are a few sweets that I can’t resist.  They all seem to have a hint of salt.  Salted dark chocolate is a favorite.  But while we were in Paris a few years ago, I fell in love with salted caramel macarons. The caramel was sweet and smooth. The salt added just the right counterpoint. I have been in love with that combination ever since.

Salted Caramel Almond Cookies

Because I have not mastered macarons yet, this recipe for Salted Caramel Almond Cookies fit into my “can do” repertoire. The cookies are buttery and nutty on the outside and richly caramel with a bit of salt at the center.  It hits all of the right taste buds in your mouth.

Salted Caramel Almond Cookies 2

As an aside, the worn cutting board that the cookies are on was my Mother’s and my Grandmothers before her.  They both used it to roll out their pie crusts.  It is one of my treasured possessions.

Lake Lure Spring 2

I love Spring at the lake.  We have had lots of rain but a few mornings ago the sun came out and reflected the vibrant spring green of the trees onto the lake.  It was magical.

SALTED CARAMEL ALMOND COOKIES (Bliss Victoria Magazine)

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped sliced almonds
Caramel (recipe follows)
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy.  Add egg yolks, on at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla extract.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, nutmeg, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until combined.  Roll mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls.

In a small bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy.

In a separate small bowl, place almonds.

Dip cooke balls in egg whites, letting excess drip off; dredge in almonds to coat. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pans.  Using a spoon, make an indentation in center of cookies.

Bake for 10 minutes. carefully press indentations down again; bake until cookies are lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes more.  Let cool on pans for 2 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.

Spoon warm Caramel into indentations in cookies.  Let stand at room temperature until caramel is cool.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.  Serve immediately, or store in airtight containers for up to 5 days.

CARAMEL

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream at room temperature

In a large skillet,whisk together sugar, 1/2 cup water, and corn syrup; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is honey-colored, about 10 minutes. (Mine took longer).  Add butter, whisking until melted.  Remove from heat, and gradually whisk in cream until mixture is smooth.  Pour into a heatproof container.  Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Printable Recipe

A French Cake and Cookies for Christmas

December 12th, 2016

French Christmas Cake and Cookies

My cottage was supposed to be on a local Christmas Tour this year.  Since it has a country French look to it, we decided to carry the theme throughout the house.  David downloaded some lovely Christmas carols sung in French and I made Eiffel Tower sugar cookies and a French Cake from Mimi Thorisson.  Because of the fire on the mountain, the tour was cancelled . . . so, I ended up with a freezer full of cookies and this delicious cake.

French Christmas Cake and Cookies

The sugar cookies are simple.  Use your favorite sugar cookie recipe.  I used this one from Alton Brown. You can use royal icing or any white icing that you prefer.  Sprinkle with gold sparkles and the Eiffel Towers will glow as if they were lit.  I bought my eiffel tower cookie cutter on line.

French Christmas Cake

I received French Country Cooking by Mimi Thorisson in October.  I had pre-ordered it from Amazon.  This is her second book and it is just as delightful as her first book, A Kitchen in France.  She says about this salted butter chocolate cake “This is the dessert I make when I don’t know what dessert to make.  It sounds like a second choice, but it’s not at all.  It’s the popular choice, the one that I know everybody will always like and that never goes out of fashion.  The salted butter is a subtle touch; you can taste it, but I’m careful never to let it overpower the chocolate, which would be hard anyway, because this cake is just so chocolate-y.  I like to bake this cake so it’s set but still moist, but my kids often ask me to take it out a minute or two earlier so it’s runny and delicious.  The choice is yours.”

French Christmas Cake and Cookies

All of these treats will remain in the freezer until Christmas.  It feels good to have a stash of goodies ready to go for family and friends.

SALTED BUTTER CHOCOLATE CAKE (Mimi Thorisson)

6 1/2 Tablespoons Salted Butter, plus more for the pan
8 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, Chopped
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
A Handful of Red Berries or Currants
Confectioners’ Sugar for Serving

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

Pour an inch or two of water into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Combine the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set on top of the pan of simmering water.  Stir until the butter and chocolate are melted.  Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.  In another bowl, sift the flour and add the fleur de sel.

Stir the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  Add the vanilla.  Fold in the flour until just combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 30 minutes.

Let cool in the pan for at least 1 hour before unmolding.  Serve topped with berries, if desired, and a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar.

Printable Recipe

Moon and Stars Cookies

December 13th, 2015

Moon and Star Cookies 4

The holidays are moving quickly in our house.  We were late arriving in Florida this year because of all of the follow-up Doctor’s appointments that I had.  The leg is healing well and we finally moved back last week.  The tree and wreaths went up quickly, but the Christmas baking has taken some time.  We are also preparing to put the house on the market in January.  Therefore I am trying to simplify the baking tasks.

Moon and Stars Cookies 1

No frosted and decorated cookies are in my arsenal this year.  But I had to make my Swedish crescent cookies.  It is the one tradition that can’t be altered.  These buttery melt in your mouth cookies are the best.  To pair with these crescent moon cookies I made Dorie Greenspan’s speculoos.  These crisp spicy Belgium cookies celebrate the name day of Saint Nicholas and are served everywhere in the country at Christmas time.  The cinnamon aroma scents your kitchen while they are baking.

Moom and Stars Cookies 5V

The speculoos are easy, but be aware that the rolled out dough requires a three hour rest in the refrigerator before being cut and baked. Now I am off to wrap presents.  Christmas and New Year’s are right around the corner.  If only I had some snow!  Enjoy the Season.

SWEDISH CRESCENT COOKIES

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped or ground almonds or pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Heat oven to 325°F. In large bowl, beat 1/2 cup powdered sugar, the butter and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. On low speed, beat in flour, almonds and salt until dough forms.

With floured hands, shape heaping tablespoons of dough into crescent shapes and place on ungreased baking sheet 1-inch apart.

Bake 13 to 17 minutes or until set but not brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Place 3/4 cup powdered sugar in small bowl. Roll cookies in powdered sugar. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Roll in powdered sugar again. Cookies can be placed in an airtight container and freeze up to 3 weeks. Before serving, thaw the cookies and reroll them in powdered sugar.

SPECULOOS (Dorie Greenspan)

Be prepared:  The rolled-out dough needs to be chilled for at least 3 hours.

Makes about 70 cookies – I used a 2″ star cutter and got around 35 cookies

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 (packed) cup light brown sugar
1 LARGE EGG, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE

Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices together in a bowl.

Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.  Add the sugars and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.  ADD THE EGG AND CONTINUE TO BEAT UNTIL IT, TOO, IS BLENDED INTO THE BUTTER AND SUGARS.  With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until the flour disappears into the soft dough.  You may have some flour at the bottom of the bowl, or the dough may not be entirely smooth, but that’s normal.  Using your hands (always my first choice) or a spatula, reach into the bowl and knead or stir the dough 2 or 3 times, just enough to eliminate any dry spots.

Divide the dough in half.  (The dough is very soft, even after you refrigerate it for several hours, so if your kitchen is hot, you might want to divide the dough into thirds – that way it won’t take you as long to cut out the cookies and the dough won’t soften as much.)  Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap until you have a circle that’s a scant ¼ inch thick.  As you’re rolling, turn the dough over a couple of times and pull away the paper or plastic, so you don’t end up rolling creases into the dough.  Put the rolled-out rounds of dough on a tray or cutting board and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 months.)

When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Have a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Choose a cookie cutter – I like to use a scalloped cutter that’s 1 1/4-inches in diameter – and remove 1 circle of dough from the refrigerator.  Peel off the top piece of wax paper or plastic and cut out as many cookies as you can from the dough,carefully lifting the cutouts onto the lined baking sheet.  Collect the scraps and set them aside to combine with the scraps from the second piece of dough.

Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are lightly golden and just slightly brown around the edges.  Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to cool.

Repeat with the second round of dough, making certain the baking sheet is cool before you put the cutouts on it.  To use the scraps, press them together, roll them into a circle, and chill them before cutting and baking.

Serving:  The cookies are just right with coffee, made for espresso and tea and really good nibbled as a snack.

Storing:  The dough can be wrapped airtight and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.  Kept in an airtight container, the cookies will be fine for a week or more.

Printable Recipe Swedish Crescent Cookies 

Printable Recipe Speculoos

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.