Milk and Cookie Shooter

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By now, even my 87-year-old grandmother has heard of the Cronut, the croissant-dougnut hybrid brought to life by New York City baker Dominque Ansel. Well, a month or so ago, he was at it again, creating a Chocolate Chip Cookie Milk Shot, a shot glass made of chocolate chip cookie dough and filled with vanilla-infused milk. The idea is to sip the milk and eat the cookie bit by bit, as one might eat a taco salad or soup in a bread bowl.

The minute he heard about it, my husband wanted me to make it. Sometimes I get the impression he doesn’t realize how hard certain things are to create. Has he not seen the numerous Cookie Bowl Fails that litter the Internet? Cookie dough doesn’t necessarily want to hold a particular shape– it likes to spread and puff and do all sorts of other things that are great if you want a cookie form, but not so good if you want, say, a shot glass form.

Luckily, myriad food bloggers have taken it upon themselves to duplicate this sweet treat and the talented baker over at Wanna Come With? came up with a fantastic recipe and tutorial, which I used to create the confection in the above photo.

I didn’t tweak Wanna Come With?’s recipe at all, so I urge you to follow it if you want to create these yourself. I do recommend that whatever vessel you choose to use as a mold (Rum Baba molds worked very, very well for me), pick up at least four of them. I bought two and it took me FIVE HOURS to make 14 of these suckers. Save yourself some time and buy four.

The verdict from my husband? Well, to quote him directly, “Well, I don’t need to go get a real one because I can’t imagine it tastes any better than yours.”

Winter cocktails for the never-ending winter

It’s been one heck of a winter, huh? Spring has officially sprung (though I personally think March is still firmly winter), and parts of the country are still seeing snow showers and downright chilly temperatures. And nothing is better on a cold night than a roaring fireplace, a warm Corgi on your lap and a tasty, tasty cocktail.

Well, I have two out of the three at least. Sadly my new apartment did not come with a fireplace. New apartment, you ask? Why, yes! In January, an apartment in the neighborhood we have been scoping out for at least a year dropped out of the clear blue sky and fell on our heads. We weren’t planning to move until next year at the earliest, but it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. So now we call Cobble Hill home and I’ve got a whole new kitchen to navigate. Fun fact: the oven door does not fully open because it hits the refrigerator. So far this hasn’t been a problem. There also wasn’t room in the new kitchen for my much loved baker’s rack that stored nearly everything in our old place, so we had to get creative. And where do New Yorkers go when they want to get creative?

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i had determined that I wanted some sort of bar in the new place. I was tired of hiding all our liquor in a cabinet and besides, cabinet space was at a premium in the new joint. So we braved the crowds in Red Hook and picked up this little number.

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The top shelf of the dresser holds our stemless wine glasses, beer sampler glasses, beer coozies, coasters, a lemon juicer and various other bar-related items. But the bottom two drawers… oh, those drawers hold all my baking accoutrements. I am amazed at how much stuff that dresser holds. It’s been a godsend in the new apartment.

But on to the liquor!

Once we got the new apartment in some semblance of arranged, we invited our friends Jon and Lori over for cocktails. A while back, I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of “Winter Cocktails” by Maria Del Mar Sacasa to review.

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There are a lot of fantastic classic and not-so-classic drink recipes contained in this book. I chose to go with something old and something new.

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An Old-Fashioned.

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And What a Tart.

The Old-Fashioned is a classic combination of bourbon (or rye whiskey), bitters, sugar, orange and cherry. It’s a strong drink, but surprisingly drinkable. It’s a great standby recipe to have on hand as it tends to be a crowd pleaser, at least among people who drink those darker liquors.

The What a Tart is a little more adventurous. It combines applejack, apple cider, lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger, cardamom and mace. I ended up buying a spiced apple cider as it was all I could find in the market I was in, so I skipped adding the cardamom and mace. This is an incredible delightful little drink that is a little too drinkable. It’s a great punch of apple flavor that I could see perfectly working in all seasons. The fruity flavors make it light and refreshing, while the spices give it just a touch of warmth. It’s honestly like drinking apple pie and apple pie knows no season as far as I’m concerned.

“Winter Cocktails” also features a few food recipes for desserts, garnishes (marshmallows!) and appetizers, and the drinks range from simple White Russians to complicated mulled drinks. There are hot and cold drinks alike, something to suit every drinker at your party. It’s also a beautifully photographed book and it comes with a ribbon bookmark to highlight your favorite recipe. I’ve already spilled applejack on my favorite recipe, so now I can use the ribbon to mark another!

Don’t let this last little bit of chilly weather get you down. Pick up a few ingredients and whip up a delicious drink that’ll get you through till April.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Recipe

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Don’t let anyone try to tell you that pumpkin season ends at Thanksgiving. They’re fools. It’s still technically fall for like, 10 more days, and fall is prime pumpkin season. To celebrate this fact, here is a recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread, a perfect way to use up all that leftover canned pumpkin puree you bought back in October. It’s a delicious, moist bread full of chocolate chunks that’s just as good to eat for breakfast as it is for dessert.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Makes two 9×5 loaves

The Ingredients

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TSP salt
2 TSP baking soda
1 TSP baking powder
1 TSP ground cinnamon
1 TSP ground nutmeg
1 TSP ground ginger
1 TSP ground cloves
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs
15 ounces canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
2/3 cup water
2 cups chocolate chip (I prefer Ghiradelli’s 60% cacao chips)

The Process:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9×5 loaf pans.

Whisk together the first eight ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and the oil. Add the eggs and whisk to combine. Add the pumpkin and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and the water in alternating steps, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, whisking to combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and place them on a rack set in the middle position of your oven. Bake until a cake tester or chopstick inserted in the middle of the loaves comes out clean (or just with chocolate smeared on it but no bread). Now here’s the only tricky part. Baking times vary wildly on this recipe, so I would start checking the bread at 45 minutes, but be prepared for it to take longer. The loaf pictured above took a full 70 minutes to cook thoroughly in my oven.

Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan (careful, it’ll be hot!) and place it on a rack to finish cooling completely. Slice and enjoy! It’s especially good with a little cream cheese smeared on top, but great just on its own. Wrap any left overs in plastic wrap and they’ll hold at room temperature for a few days.

A Cookbook Gift Guide for Beginning Bakers

Do you have a novice baker on your holiday list this year? Or would you like to inspire someone in your life to become a baker. Below you’ll find a list of books that I have found extremely helpful in my baking journey and the reasons why.

Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

This book is basically my baking Bible. It was one of the first really comprehensive baking books I ever owned and I use it a lot– you can tell from the stained pages and how it just flips open to the Pate Brisee page as soon as you pull it off the shelf. There’s a reason Martha is known as a domestic goddess. Even if you don’t follow all of her painstaking details, you’ll still end up with an incredible product. Highlights include the aforementioned Pate Brisee (all-butter pie crust) and her Devil’s Food Cake.

Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook is available for purchase from Amazon.com

Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook

The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook

This is the newest entrant to my Essential List of Baking Books. I received this one just last year and it has quickly risen to be one of my favorites. It’s a great cookbook because the recipes range from incredibly easy no-cook desserts (Cookie Dough Truffles) to incredibly involved (Chocolate Cookie/Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwiches), so it’s a great book to grow with as you expand your baking skills. Everything I’ve made (and I’ve made a LOT) has turned out spectacularly and people have loved everything. Did I mention Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Pops? Well, I am now. They’ll change your life, I swear.

The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook is available for purchase from Amazon.com

More from Magnolia

More from Magnolia

Yup, it’s that Magnolia– the bakery in New York City (and now locations around the world) made famous by either “Sex and the City” or “Lazy Sunday”, depending on which you watch. There is a recipe for their famous cupcakes, but I am more interested in all the other delights in this cookbook, the recipes for which have NEVER failed me. This is one of those rare cookbooks that just clicks with me and I hope it clicks for others as well. This cookbook gave me my favorite baked good to both make and eat– the Iced Ginger Cookie. (For the record, my favorite thing to just make is Lemon Meringue Cupcakes). Surprisingly, I don’t have the same love for the first Magnolia Bakery cookbook. For some reason, it’s just not as good as the follow-up.

More from Magnolia is available for purchase from Amazon.com

Good Housekeeping Great Baking

Good Housekeeping Great Baking

This is one of those cookbooks that’s just a great cookbook to have laying around. It’ll cover all the basics and you can get as fancy as you want. If you just want to make easy cookies, they’re in there. If you want to get crazy and make a Paris-Brest, it’s in there too. It’s a no-nonsense, no-frills kind of book and won’t intimidate new bakers. While it may lack a bit of personality, it’s a kitchen workhorse.

Good Housekeeping Great Baking is available for purchase from Amazon.com

America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

If nothing else, this book looks impressive. It’s a giant cookbook from the most scientific of bakers, America’s Test Kitchen. These guys break everything down and explain the whys and hows of baking. Their cinnamon roll recipe is one of my absolute favorites and I love how many pictures are in this book.

The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book is available for purchase from Amazon.com

If you’re interested in giving the gift that keeps on giving, I highly recommend both the Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country magazine subscriptions. These magazines are focused more on cooking than baking, but they’re incredibly informative, fun magazines to read and the desserts recipes that are included are usually pretty wonderful.

If the new baker in your life doesn’t have room for all these beautiful, beautiful books, I’m happy to report that Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook and More from Magnolia are all available as Kindle e-books through Amazon.com. You don’t need a Kindle to read the e-book versions; all you need is a tablet that can download the Kindle app! Both Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country are also available as e-magazine subscriptions via the iTunes store.

Happy Holidays and Happy Baking!

Sugar Sweets Festival

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This Sunday, October 6th, City Reliquary will be hosting its 4th Annual Sugar Sweets Festival. The City Reliquary is a not-for-profit community museum and civic organization located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Through permanent display of New York City artifacts, rotating exhibits of community collections and annual cultural events, the City Reliquary connects visitors to both the past and present of New York. The Sugar Sweets Festival is a family-friendly celebration of New York’s bakers and sweet-makers. The festival will feature a bake sale– which supports the museum and civic organization– as well as a blue ribbon baking competition, demonstrations and entertainment.

I will be participating at this event as a judge (!) and will be providing a few dozen candy Buckeyes. I’ve also been asked to sit a spell at the Ask the Baker table, where I will be answering (or at least attempting to answer) baking-related questions.

This year’s event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free and baked goods will range in price from $1 to $4 apiece. Goodies will be provided by A Cake Bakes in Brooklyn, Betty Bakery, The Blue Stove, Momofuku Milk Bar, Peter Pan Donuts, Salties, Steve’s Key Lime Pies, Treats Truck and other home bakers and sweetmakers. Coffee will be provided by Olso Coffee.

There will also be music, apron decorating, raffles and more entertainment!

Blue ribbons will be awarded to non-professional bakers in the following categories: Best Vegan/Gluten-Free; Best Fall-Flavored; Most Creative Cupcake; Chocolatastic (this is the one I’ll be judging!); and Best in Brooklyn.

For more information, go to sugarsweet.org or cityreliquary.org. You can also contact the organizer Jeff Tancil at jeff@cityreliquary.org or by phone at (718) 782-4842.

The City Reliquary is located at 370 Metropolitan Avenue at Havemeyer, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For those taking advantage of public transportation, take the L train to Lorimer St. or the G train to Metropolitan Ave.

Recipe: Whiskey Apple Pie Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

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We are deep in the thick of apple season. I’ve been dining on apple pie and drinking apple cider seltzers (1/2 apple cider, 1/2 club soda) like crazy. This is the start of my favorite food season. It starts off with apple, moves into pumpkin, takes a left turn at mashed potatoes and biscuits and finally ends at cookies. What’s not to love?

I believe Whiskey Apple Pie to be my signature dish. And what better dish to introduce myself to my new coworkers than a more mobile, more easily shareable version of that pie?

Oh, yeah, I have a new job! Everyone in my department was laid off back in June. I spent a month unemployed but fortunately found a new gig pretty quickly. I worked from home for 10 weeks over the summer until finally joining other human beings back in an office. The good news is that I have sick days again! The bad news is that my day starts at 6 a.m. I’m slowly adjusting. Anyway, as I have learned, baked goods are the quickest way to make friends at a new job. I think I did pretty good with these. As soon as the word ‘whiskey’ passed my lips, people were clamoring for a cupcake. One guy told me they tasted like Christmas.

These turned out really quite delicious. You can make them non-alcoholic if you’d like, but I think it adds a really nice flavor.

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Whiskey Apple Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

Makes around 18 cupcakes

The Ingredients:

For the Apple Cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 TSP baking powder
1/2 TSP baking soda
1 TSP salt
2 TSP cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 TSP vanilla
2 cups grated apples
(2 Granny Smith, 1 Fuji or comparable pairing)

For the Whiskey Apple Pie filling:
3 apples, finely chopped
(2 Granny Smith, 1 Fuji or comparable pairing)
1 TBSP unsalted butter
2 TBSP light brown sugar
1 TSP lemon juice
1/4 TSP cinnamon
1/2 TSP cloves
1 TSP ginger
1 TSP nutmeg
2 TSP Whiskey

For the Cinnamon Frosting:
1 cup butter
at room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar
2-4 TBS milk
2 TSP vanilla extract
1 TSP cinnamon

The Process:

Make the whiskey apple pie filling first by placing the chopped apples, butter, brown sugar, lemon juice, whiskey and spices in a medium pan and cook over medium heat until the apples are tender and most of the liquid has cooked off, about eight to 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool while preparing the cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two cupcake pans with cupcake liners. In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients– flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla and whisk. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. It will get harder and harder to stir this mixture and you may find that you need to get your hands involved and knead the dough a little bit. Don’t be concerned about how dry the batter is. Work the grated apples into the batter and you will see that the mixture moistens up nicely. Fill the cupcake liners about 2/3 full with batter and bake for anywhere from 18 to 24 minutes. My cupcakes needed a longer bake time. Remove them from the oven when a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, use a paring knife to remove a ‘cone’ of cake from each cupcake. Fill each hole with enough pie filling to be flush with the tops of the cupcake.

Beat the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until it is light and creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and cinnamon and beat to combine. Add just enough milk to make the frosting easily spreadable/pipeable. Frost the cooled cupcakes.

The New York Times Pie Issue

Stars in Your Eyes Whiskey Apple Pie

Lovers of pie, The New York Times has got you covered. Check out today’s Dining & Wine section for a variety of articles about pie, including 20 summer pie recipes, a pie debate and an amazing graphic to teach you how to build a better apple pie.