You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘cookies’ tag.

Sometimes it’s the little things in France that give me pause. For instance, binders here have four rings, not 3 or 5. And they open separately. The two on top are connected, but not connected to the two on the bottom. You have to snap open both if you want to remove or add a page. It’s convenient so that papers aren’t falling out everywhere when you open up the rings, but I always forget. I start wondering why the paper is resisting movement and then I remember, “Oh yeah, French binder.”

At one of the companies where I teach outcenter, there are horses behind the office. No one really knows what they’re doing there. I’ve asked, because I can see them from the window. Once in a while I see someone come and feed them, but most days they just stare into the office window watching me teach. Today, one of them wouldn’t stop whinnying. Perhaps it knew I was carrying a batch of cookies with me to take into the school.

Not all of these cookies were the same. Two dozen had been colored green for the St. Patrick’s Day party we are having today. The other two were my own personal cookies. Ones I threw together and into the oven an hour before going to work.

I didn’t have eggs, but I was craving cookies. Could I make a good “vegan cookie” with what I had in my kitchen? I’d never made a successful vegan cookie before, but then again, I’d never taken the vegan cookie thing seriously.

But I turned on my Kindle and started flipping through Veganomicon until I found her Chewy Chocolate Raspberry Cookies. Instead of butter and eggs to hold the cookie together they use canola oil (no shock there) and raspberry preserves (shocking!).

What an amazing idea. Preserves for flavoring and binding a cookie. I didn’t have raspberry confiture in the house, but I did have confiture de citron – lemon that is, and decided to do what I could to satisfy my cookie craving without eating the cookies I had promised for work, or being late for class.

And while I don’t think these are quite vegan, they come as close as I’ll ever get.

(Almost) Vegan White Chocolate Lemon Cookies

Adapted from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

  • ½ cup of lemon preserves or confiture de citron
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (all purpose is fine too)
  • ½ cup cake flour or farine fluide*
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • White chocolate chips, about 50-60 grams

*I’ve been experimenting with baking cookies with farine fluide, which has a consistency close to cake flour. It’s not necessary and 1 ½ cups of all purpose flour would work fine, not to mention was the original recipe.

 

Combine your wet ingredients: sugar, preserves, vanilla, and oil in a large mixing bowl. Stir together with a spoon or fork.

Once blended add your baking soda, then salt. Sift together your two flours and add to the wet batter a third at a time, mixing together with a fork.

The last third you make have to finish by hand, kneading and mixing together until you get a homogenous dough.

Add your white chocolate chips and mix together.

Roll into small balls, place on a lined cookie sheet and press down a little until you get small discs.

Bake at 180°C for 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve.

I’m pretty sure it’s the white chocolate that cancels out the “vegan-ness” of these cookies. There’s milk in there after all. But whatever. I made “vegan” cookies in 20 minutes and made it to work.

The texture is there. Chewy: check. Soft: check. Lemony: check. Honestly, olive oil would have been a fabulous replacement for the canola – and I’ll be remembering that for next time. A really excellent cookie that doesn’t leave me lacking in the cookie comfort department. Everything that a cookie needs to be, they are. Even the husband liked them and didn’t say anything about their lack of eggs and butter. He said, – and I quote – “They were good, I taste lemon.”

Get ready for this weekend. I’m stuffing and roasting quail.

Advertisements

About four months ago I mentioned how the women of my family have a serious addiction to ice cream. Ben and Jerry’s, Haagen Dazs, Breyers, Laitiere, it didn’t matter what. Though the first has always held a special, special place in our hearts. I’ve even visited the Ben and Jerry’s factory. Twice.

So now, I bring you:

Je Mange Toute la France Ice Cream Brand.

Though I may have to scale that name down a bit.

It appears the husband, and oddly enough the cat, have caught my ice cream disease and when the two of them were discussing what to get me for the holidays, the husband suggested an ice cream maker.

“Pistou, do you think Holly would like an ice cream maker?” the husband asked.

“Meow miaw” Pistou said in his garbled version of cat franglais.

“But don’t you think she’ll be offended by me getting her another kitchen appliance? I thought women didn’t like that,” the husband worried.

Miaw meow!” Pistou got up from the couch and trotted to the bathroom.

The husband sat on the couch alone, thinking. A plaintive cry of “Miaw meow miaw!” echoed from the bathroom and he took that as a sign from Pistou to stop thinking and do.

And that’s how I got my ice cream maker. (See the wine in the background? I was celebrating with a glass of Gewürztraminer from Alsace.)

Since that day I have made three types of ice creams. Not bad considering it takes a good twelve hours, if not twenty-four. It took a bit of time to get the ingredients down, the recipe, the cooking, the add-ins. But I’ve done it. Third time is the charm and I’ve mastered the ice cream.

Today’s goût du jour is Speculoos, which is actually a cookie, but it makes a good ice cream too. Idea taken from Haagen Dazs.

  • 250 ml of whole milk
  • 250 ml heavy whipping cream or crème de fleurette de Normandy
  • 100 grams of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • vanilla extract

It all starts there.

Heat up the milk in a pan, being careful not to boil it. Meanwhile into a larger pan whisk together the eggs and sugar until you get a homogenous mixture and the sugar is semi-dissolved. Once the milk is hot, pour it slowly into the egg/sugar mixture, whisking all the while. Don’t let the eggs have time to sit. Transfer the mixture to medium heat and add the heavy cream. Whisk whisk whisk. It’s not as bad as caramel or fudge where you can’t stop for a second, but don’t stop for more than 30 because you don’t want the eggs to cook. Keep heating the mixture for about 10 minutes or until it looks to be a custard that will coat the back of the spoon. I cooked this mixture just until the point of the eggs cooking – as you can see by the slight lumps and it came out fine, but catch it immediately if this happens.

Cool for 12 hours (no less) in the fridge.

On happy ice cream day, put together your ice cream maker. Smile to yourself in anticipation. Tell the husband to watch the ravioli cooking on the stove because you’re otherwise occupied.

Take your blend out of the fridge. It should be a thick custard. Don’t worry about the lumps, as long as there is no taste of scrambled egg, you’re fine.

Pour it into the ice cream maker and turn on. Add your fixings. I added crushed and broken speculoos cookies.

But then I went ahead and added speculoos spread too. It’s like peanut butter or nutella, but it tastes like the cookie. It’s sinful.

Let your ice cream turn and turn and turn and turn. For about 40 minutes.

And there you are. The speculoos spread some how wrapped itself around the cookie chunks in mixing. Every time we get a cookie there’s a surprising softness of the spread right around it. A pleasant little texture and taste treat for the mouth. Fresh, homemade, fabulously smooth, absolutely sinful speculoos ice cream. It’s just that easy.

Enjoy!

According to WordPress, this is my 50th post. Is there a better way to celebrate than ice cream?

I don’t think so.

Do you ever have moments when you’re so enthralled in your work that you do stupid things like stick your finger in your ear or pick your nose (hey, when you have to pick, you have to pick – just not in public) or make weird beeping noises to yourself and yell at your computer-

Only to look up and see your super cute student looking at you through the classroom window?

Yeah. I had a fabulous day.

He really is that attractive. That smile with the dimples…

Anyway.

I should be writing. No really. I should be writing. I’m behind about 2000 words from where I want to be tonight. But I never celebrated my 50K. I never made apple pie, or pumpkin ice cream (though I don’t know how I would as I don’t have an ice cream maker) or anything savory. I didn’t have the time.

But tonight, I’m wiped, I’m out of steam, my head is a muddled mess of characters and settings and prose, etc. Sometimes I write sarcastic things into the narrative that my characters would never say. Clearly I need a break. I need to celebrate. I need to clear my head and dope myself up on sugar.

I need cookies.

And these are my most deadly cookies yet.

Dark chocolate Nutella, cocoa powder, oatmeal, cereal flour, dark chocolate chips.

They’re amazing.

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup cereal flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons Nutella
  • 1 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • dark chocolate chips
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt.

Cream butter and sugar as normal. Add egg and cocoa powder, mix well. Add 2 tablespoons of Nutella. Mix well.

Add all your dry ingredients, flours, oats, powders, salts. Mix together until its well blended. Add your last tablespoon of Nutella and your chocolate chips. Mix one last time, quickly on low speed. Just enough to combine everything but not blend the Nutella in, you want a little bit of a swirl.

Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 180°C (350°F) for 11 minutes.

 

When it comes to the flour, I know cereal flour is a strange choice – I mean really, who wants seeds in their cookies? But it’s good. Not only does it add a great crunch, but the cereal flour is slightly salty, added to the bitterness of the cocoa, the amazing sweetness of the Nutella and chocolate. There are so many rich, complex flavors here. I had to step away from the kitchen and lock myself in the bedroom just so I’d stop eating them and write this entry.

 

Melty chocolate goodness with salt and bitter cocoa, warm just out of the oven.

And in case you’re wondering I’m at 55,000 words.

Tomorrow I have a 1 hour wait at the train station in the morning and the afternoon. Not to mention the 20 minute train ride. I was going to buy a pastry, but now I have cookies – and plenty of time to write.

Also, yes that is my computer right next to the mixing bowl. I told you it was covered in flour.

I had a long week. It commenced with teaching 4 teenagers to speak English. It was tiring and they were completely fish-eyed. I don’t remember being fish-eyed as a teen. But I do want to apologize to all the adults in my life then and now for once having been a teenager.

I’m so sorry. Really.

I’m sorry.

I made you cookies.

But we’ll get to that.

Friday night ended with me coming home at 8pm to a very exciting treat. Earlier in the day I had seen fleurs de courgette being sold in the market place and I immediately texted the husband with an excited note that if they weren’t too expensive, would he pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease buy some. He did.

These are zucchini flowers. They aren’t rare, they aren’t too expensive, but they are a bit hard to find. I love them. I had them first at La Colombe in Hyères (coincidentally, I’m going to that restaurant tonight), and thought they were so spectacular that I’d waited impatiently all year for summer and zucchini to come again.

These flowers are often stuffed. Usually with cheese or the zucchini itself and then fried or baked.

We stuffed ours with very fresh goat cheese mixed with garlic, onion and yellow pepper. Then drizzled them in olive oil and baked them in the oven for 15 minutes.

Fleurs de courgette are tangy, almost citrus-like with such a wonderful and satisfying crunch at the end. You know you’re eating a flower, it feels like eating a flower should. Like sunshine.

 

And now, your cookies.

The Dame Blanche is most often known as a sundae. Vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, strawberries or strawberry coulis and whipped cream. However, there is something much more exciting that can be found in almost every bakery in France: the Dame Blanche Cookie.

Dame Blanche or white lady is my favorite cookie. I’d never made them before, so bear with me:

  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • 115g of butter, softened
  • ¾ of powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of vanilla extract
  • jam or confiture of your choice – I used strawberry, which is the most common.

Mix your softened butter, sugar and egg until every thing is smooth and homogenous. Add your flour, vanilla and salt and mix until everything comes together. Then mix a bit more to firm up your dough – not too firm – stop when you start to feel a bit of resistance – about 3 or 4 minutes on a low setting.

Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

When the 30 minutes are up, flour your work surface and your rolling pin and your hands. Really coat it in the flour. Don’t be afraid to make a mess. Take your dough out of the bowl and set it on your work surface. Flour it too.

Carefully roll the dough out to about 1/8 of an inch thick. This dough is incredibly sticky – something I unhappily discovered, which is why I recommend LOTS of flour everywhere to keep it from sticking.

Using a cookie cutter, cut yourself as many cookies as the dough allows but make sure you have an even number of cookies. I cut one cookie at a time, put it on the cookie pan and then cut the next. It was just easier given how delicate the dough was.

For every other cookie you will cut a small hole in the center. I recommend doing this while the cutter is still supporting the shape of the cookie. My holes didn’t come out so great, but maybe next time.

Bake your cookies for 10 minutes or until they are fully cooked through. You want them to be firm and crispy and browned.

Take them out and let them cool fully. Try to clean up in the mean time before your significant other sees the mess you’ve made with the kitchen.

When the cookies are cool, take your jam and spread a nice amount all over the cookie bottoms – the ones without the hole. Put the cookie tops on – the ones with the hole in the center. Et voila!

Normally, the Dame Blanche has white powdered sugar on top of it. I couldn’t find any in the store today and ran out of sugar when I was making the recipe. But no matter – they still taste great. They’re just not as white as they should be. Keep them in the fridge for about 3 days.

So please forgive me, for every having been a teenager. And have a cookie. It makes everyone feel better.

The French word pâte is very familiar to me. I buy it in the supermarkets to cook tarts, quiches, pizzas, pies, and it’s used for a variety of pre-baked pastries. There are a bunch of variations: pâte brisée, pâte sablé, pâte pizza, pâte feuilletée etc. But for some bizarre reason I could never think of what the translation for this word was. It seemed obvious, right on the tip of my tongue, something I should know, being as obsessed with food as I am – I mean, it’s the only thing I can talk about fluently in the French language.

I figured out what it is today. Very simple, though I’m ashamed to admit it – dough. Pâte = dough.

It’s 30°C today. For those of you not on the Celsius system 30°C is 86°F, is 303.15 Kelvin. A good day to go to the beach, which I did yesterday when it was a mere 28°C. Today, being hotter, I decided to spend some time with my favorite type of pâte and bake. Real smart.

I should rephrase that. I didn’t decide to bake, I volunteered. The English school I’m working for is throwing a party on Tuesday. A party that will feature me in a short nightgown, heels and a boa. But that’s beside the point. Seeing as how we may have around 50 people, the party-organizers were worried about food. So I volunteered to make 100 cookies.

Of course, most smart people would make 100 cookies of the same kind – like chocolate chip. Right? Well, I can’t do that. Call it stupidity, call it over thinking, call it over achieving, I decided to make 5 different types of cookies, all variations on chocolate chip:

  • chocolate chip
  • peanut-butter chocolate chip
  • white and dark chocolate
  • Nutella pinwheels
  • white chocolate and coconut

Hey, how often do the French get good, chewy cookies? The answer is never. Obviously I love French cuisine, but they haven’t mastered the cookie. They make hard, flat things with pépites de choco – disgusting tiny chips that are a sorry excuse for chocolate.

I started at 10 and finished at 3. My kitchen started out like this:

By the second batch of cookies – the peanut butter ones – it looked like this:

If you’re wondering about the hammer, it’s what I use to smash up the chocolate bars.

And who doesn’t love raw cookie dough?

There was a break for lunch. By the time I was done with the last batch of cookies, the dough was starting to look strange to me (like a word does if you stare at it for too long) and I was doped up on sugar and sugar fumes.

The hardest were the Nutella Pinwheels, which are honestly a pain because cookie dough was not meant to be rolled and sliced. But I got them done, and they look lovely.

All my cookies look lovely, even when you’re staring at them cross-eyed in pre-cooked dough form.

Now the question remains: how does one transport 100 cookies? Seriously. Do I put them all in a bowl? Do I keep them separate so that the flavors don’t taint each other? Do I wrap them on plates and carrying them through the streets of Toulon, my skirt swinging along around my legs like some lost waitress? Where should I store them? Is there room in my fridge? I should have thought of these things BEFORE I volunteered to make the cookies.

For the rest of the afternoon, I will sit in the shade, wisely like my cat. A fresh salad awaits me for dinner, because if I have one more piece of refined sugar, I might take off and soar back to the U.S.

Another thing I’ll be doing – never looking at another bit of pâte n’importe de quoi for at least a week.

What’s better than cookies that just came out of the oven? Tahini cookies that just came out of the oven.

Two things inspired this discovery:

1. I love peanut butter cookies but they are high in fat and calories.

2. I had tahini in the house I needed to do something with.

Lately we’ve been making homemade everything, including our own hummus, which requires tahini for that nutty taste. Tahini is basically sesame paste and has the consistency of natural peanut butter (not the processed stuff like Jiffy). Anyway, we made our hummus out of an organic tahini that I found in the local organic grocery, and I was worried that it would go bad quickly if we didn’t act fast. So I headed to allrecipes.com to find something to do with it.

First, the husband made more hummus, because it’s yummy to snack on with bread and veggies.

I found this Tahini Cookie recipe which I had all the ingredients for and set to work. I halved the recipe, because really – who needs 50 cookies for two people?

The end result is wonderful:

What is delightful about this cookie is that it has a crumbly texture on the outside with a soft and melt-y center. The recipe halved said the turnout would be 25 cookies, but I made around 16 because I like larger ones.

I also added honey to the batter because when I added the flour it started to look a little dry and upon taste it wasn’t quite as sweet as I like my cookies.

Nonetheless, they have the flavor of tahini and remind me so much of my favorite peanut butter cookies that I am thrilled at how they turned out.

The other upside? Tahini, unlike peanut butter, is good for you. I’m not saying to eat an entire pot of it in one sitting. Sesame has fat but it’s the good fat, and on top of that it contains phytoestrogens which have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. (Contrary to popular belief) It also contains an aminoacid that the body can’t produce and needs to help fight cholesterol. Sesame also has a high content of iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B1, all especially brought to the forefront in ground tahini.

“Healthy” cookies! What could be better? Of course, besides tahini the other main ingredients are butter and sugar, but these could easily be replaced with honey (often used in Middle Eastern cooking anyway) and oil. In fact I plan to try that next time.

A plus was that the batter contains no egg, which means I got to lick the bowl risk free.

Just a word of caution: Make sure that you let these cookies sit out and cool for AT LEAST 10 minutes before even touching them. If they don’t have a chance to harden they will crumble and fall apart. I made the mistake of poking one with my finger and it almost turned to crumbs and dust right there.

If you’re looking for a yummy alternative to peanut butter cookies, these are for you. I’ll definitely be making them again.