There are few things in life that make me as happy as a delicious bar cookie. Shortbread on the bottom. Some sort of caramel layer. Nuts or coconut or seeds. And chocolate. Dipped in chocolate, drizzled in chocolate, painted with chocolate. Any of these options are okay.
My usual go-to bar for this type of craving is Alice Medrich’s Toffee Bar. Seriously delicious. Seriously addictive. Seriously easy to make. Like really really easy to make.
But my friends’ daughters have all been talking about Girl Scout cookie orders and I was looking through my Baked books for some ideas and then I found it: Samoa-inspired bar with coconut.
When you need to practice a presentation and are asking your colleagues to give up an hour of their time to listen to you and give feedback, it seems right to offer some baked goods.
Problem was, I planned my baked goods for an afternoon meeting and actually the meeting was scheduled for the morning. So I had to think of a ‘healthy’ breakfast treat I could make. While one of my favorites is Alice Medrich’s Breakfast Biscotti, I changed my tune and went with this oatmeal cake instead. Oatmeal – basically breakfast in disguise! Cream cheese frosting – just like eating a bagel!
This cake may not be the most nutritious breakfast you could choose, but it was glowingly reviewed and declared the favorite by many.
When it’s rhubarb season I can’t resist buying a bunch of rhubarb every time I see it. So I have a lot of rhubarb in my fridge for a couple of weeks. Which means I need to make a lot of rhubarb dishes.
I’d already made my favorite rhubarb lemon bundt cake. And my favorite rhubarb ginger coffee cake. So it was time to try a new recipe.
And then the stars aligned. I found dried hibiscus flowers at an exotic stall at the local market. And I happened to have fine corn flour in the fridge and corn meal in the pantry. And I had a party coming up. The perfect combination for corn-rhubarb tartlets.
I try to be a culturally sensitive tourist when I travel around. And one of my main strategies for doing that is sampling – and re-sampling – local cuisine. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I especially enjoy trying out local desserts.
It’s not sufficient to just taste delicious goods while in an exotic location, I also want to be able to make the dessert when I get home! So I also always look for a cookbook.
Last April we spent two weeks in Belize. We traveled by public bus. On a national holiday. Which basically meant we spent most of the day waiting at the bus depot in the capital city. Where the main delight was powder buns. Which are delicious. So of course I needed to get the recipe.
Everyone has shortcomings and failings. One of mine is definitely an inability to cut back on the amount and variety of food I prepare for parties. Thanksgiving is definitely my worst offender.
I have been known to make 8 different pies.
For a group of 12 people.
That wouldn’t be so bad if pie was the only thing I was serving. But I also go overboard with biscuits, cornbread, stuffing, dressing, vegetable sides, cranberry sauce, turkey (of course), and the list goes on.
But this isn’t a post about Thanksgiving. This is a post about how a friend who is a regular Thanksgiving guest requested my sweet potato biscuits as part of my May Day brunch. He thought they’d taste fantastic with bacon and maple syrup. He figured that’s the kind of thing Americans eat for brunch.
So I brought out what I think of as a fall dish, a dinner dish, a Thanksgiving dish for a spring brunch. And, just like at Thanksgiving, everyone loved them. They were gone in a flash.
Five years ago I had a dessert party and a friend from North Carolina fell in love with my sticky toffee pudding. It was the first time I had tried the recipe and it was definitely memorable. A couple of years later, exploring Covent Garden, we came across a vendor selling sticky toffee pudding. After explaining just how high our standards were, the nice woman convinced us to buy a portion. Needless to say, it was a great disappointment.
Last year, this friend requested my sticky toffee pudding for his 50th birthday. To be delivered to him wherever he was in the world on the day. I agreed, halfway hoping he’d be in Hong Kong so I would have an excuse to travel there.
April 30th rolled around, and the famous sticky toffee pudding made an appearance – with a birthday candle and fun birthday hat – to much public acclaim. “Lovely.” “Heavenly.” “Beautiful.” “Delicious.”
So I figured I’d add it to the blog. Continue reading
Two of my new cookbooks feature recipes calling for malted milk powder. In fact, the Baked Boys consider it one of their essential ingredients. It evidently has a long history as an ingredient in American desserts, as Julie Richardson included a malted milk chocolate cupcake recipe in her Vintage Cakes book, as well.
Julie Richardson specifies in her recipe that the malted milk powder not be Ovaltine. Ovaltine, of course, is the only kind of malted milk powder available in regular Belgian grocery stores, so I imported Carnation brand malted milk powder from ShopRite. The container holds 13 ounces and the recipe called for a whopping 10 of those ounces. So this experiment has pretty much depleted my reserves… here’s hoping I can find another supplier!
One of our favorite Happy New Year traditions is a new year’s brunch with good friends in Brooklyn. This year was no different.
To test out my new Baked Elements cookbook, I decided to make scones. Well, actually, I wanted to make scones from my new Bouchon Bakery cookbook, but I had a minor catastrophe called “I didn’t read the recipe in advance” and therefore didn’t have enough time on new year’s morning to make the batter, let it chill for 2 hours, shape it, then let it freeze for 2 hours. I’ll make those scones another day. Instead, I decided to make Baked’s Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones which were a big success!