It’s hot in the kitchen. You know this. Most days it’s fine. Chefs, in general, are a sturdy bunch, and we like to prove how tough we are on those humid days, when a stream of sweat trickles down our spines, even as we stand still, by trading stories of jobs we had that were way worse-no air conditioning, working in an unventilated basement, the summer we spent making pizzas baked in a 500F oven. I’m pretty sure it was a cocky chef who worked the broiler that coined that sentiment “if you can’t stand the heat…” A funny side effect of baking on those sticky days that have us fleeing to the walk-in for relief, is that I completely lose my appetite. And the idea of even just making anything rich and gooey is totally unappealing. On those days I turn to citrus-clean, crisp, refreshing. These lemon crisps are the perfect partner to a fruity sorbet, or alone with a frosty glass of ice tea.
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar, plus more for dipping
Zest of 2 lemons
2 TB lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a mixer, beat together the butter, confectioner’s sugar and lemon zest, until it’s pale and fluffy. When you beat lemon zest with sugar, it releases the oil in the zest, making your dough extra lemony. Yum!
Beat in the juice and vanilla.
Add the flour and salt, and mix until everything just comes together.
This is a slice and bake style cookie. Roll the dough into a log, or pat it into a pate mold. Chill at least four hours. Slice each cookie so they are 1/4 inch think.
Bake in a preheated 350F oven, and bake until lightly golden-about 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely, then dust with powdered sugar.
Brownies, more then any other cookie, bring out people’s passionate opinions. Cakey or fudgy? Nuts or no? Some people love the edges so much some crafty person made a pan that is just edges. Some want them cut off like a child’s pb&j.
I actually like all sorts of brownies, but have yet to perfect the brownie of my childhood-which wasn’t homemade. It wasn’t even a mix. It was those shrink-wrapped brownies that would be for sale at the counter of the pizza shop. They tasted so delicious with potato chips. My love of salt and chocolate started at that pizza shop.
This brownie recipe was handed down to me by a pasty chef I worked with briefly-I can only remember his first name, which is David. It’s unusual, in that it isn’t made with melting chocolate, but with all cocoa powder. The batter tastes just like Duncan Hines mix, but the brownies taste more sophisticated. They are rich, walking the line of fudgy and cakey, and cut cleanly. The basic recipe is plain, but they also taste wonderful with the addition of a half a pound of chopped bittersweet chocolate scattered on the top before baking.
Since I am talking about my first bar cookie, now seems like a good time to talk about baking pans. I use half sheet pans, which is professional kitchen speak for a pan that is half the size of a baking sheet. You can even buy quarter sheet pans, which are adorable. Anyway-professional sheet pans are thicker then the pans you will find in a department store. They bake evenly, are hard to dent and bend, and are inexpensive! The measurement is 18x13”. If you halve any of my recipes that call for a half sheet, it will bake just fine in an 8x8” square. Just adjust the baking time.
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups cocoa powder
1# of unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
7 eggs, 1 egg yolk-at what temperature you ask? Room temperature!
Pre-heat your oven to 350F
Grease (using butter, or an oil spray) the half-sheet pan and cover the bottom with parchment paper.
In a mixer (or by hand-but I’ll be writing an ode to my stand mixer any day now though. You were warned) beat together the sugar and butter. Don’t be afraid to over beat at this stage. There is no chemical leavening in this recipe-the two things that will make the brownies rise are the eggs, and the air that you whip into the butter and sugar by beating it long enough. The mixture will go from yellow to almost white.
Now add the eggs (and yolk) one at a time, pausing every so often to scrape the bowl down so none of the butter is keeping itself from getting incorporated. Toss in the vanilla extract.
Turn the mixer speed down to slow, and spoon in the dry mixture. This is where you need to be careful-once you add the flour (to any pastry) you want mix as little as possible, to avoid developing the gluten (the protein in flour that gives structure to baked goods). Mix until the flour is JUST mixed in.
Scrape the batter into the pan. The thing about this batter is that it is stiff-so much so that it wont really move around in the pan as it heats. Use an off-set spatula if you have one, and try to get the batter spread as evenly as you can.
Bake until the top feels set, and a toothpick comes out cleanish about 2” from the pan (It will never come out clean from the center, so don’t even bother trying!).
This takes about 40 minutes or so. Spin the pan around every 10 minutes, in case there is a hot spot in your oven.
Let cool completely before cutting for the cleanest look.
these cookies are rich with chocolate, and have just the right amount of sweetness. They are soft with a slight chew inside and a crisp, carmely crust. Yum!
8 ounces of softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semi sweet chocolate, cut into chunks
1/2 cup milk chocolate, cut into chunks
1/2 cup white chocolate, cut into chunks
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted and cooled.
pre-heat your oven to 350 F
cream together the butter and sugars in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment until the mixture is pale and light.
add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the mixture in between eggs to ensure that the eggs and butter are fully incorporated, followed by the vanilla extract.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour with the soda and powder and salt. Add this to the wet mixture, and stir slowly until the flour is just mixed in. toss in the chocolate and nuts and mix just enough to evenly distribute the chocolate. time to bake!
scoop (or spoon) the dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets.
Leave at least 2 inches in-between each cookie to give them enough room to spread.
spin the tray with cookies around half a turn every five minutes.
the cookies are baked when they are light golden brown, and when you gently press into the tops they give you a little resistance. keep in mind that cookies will keep baking for a minute or two on the tray when they come out of the oven. small cookies will take about 15-minutes, larger ones about 20.