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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Double Chocolate Almond Cookies

Filling out countless applications for jobs and post-grad programs, you come across the same questions over and over again. They're all looking for someone different, someone who stands out, but their applications are all the same. It really feels like they're all looking for the same person.

One thing that everybody wants to know, apparently, is how you would describe yourself in three words. Let me tell you. It is not an easy question to answer. So, while I'm still not sure that I can tell you about myself in three words, I can give you three for this post and these cookies: short and sweet.

Double Chocolate Almond Cookies
Makes about 15 cookies

1 1/4 cups oat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup smooth almond butter
1/4 cup almond milk
6 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup Marcona almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate
2 tablespoons cacao nibs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together oat flour, rolled oats, salt, and baking soda. In a measuring cup, whisk together almond butter, almond milk, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Make a well in the center of the oat mixture and pour liquid mixture into well. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Gently fold in almonds, chocolate, and cacao nibs. Scoop dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a disk. Place in freezer for 30 minutes until firm. Once firm, scoop out using a 1/4-cup ice cream scoop onto lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes until firm and golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cherry Nectarine Tart

I think one of the most hysterical insults you can hurl at someone is 'tart.' Though isn't exactly a colloquialism, I would like to put it forth as your new barb of choice when you sit down to a session of slanderous gossip. I've had occasion to use the word tart quite a bit lately, and, let me tell you, I ain't even mad. It encapsulates my sentiments perfectly.

In addition to serving as glorious jibe, a tart just so happens to be one of my favorite ways to end a meal. I'm not particularly partial to cake, and I find pie a bit overwhelming. But a tart? Well, that's almost always exactly what I want. 

They're not too sweet. They have a nice balance of a crisp, crunchy crust and sweet, smooth filling. And the addition of ripe summer fruit both makes them pretty and rounds out the flavors. This particular tart is nice because you can use whatever fruit you have on hand, and it will still be delicious. Even if you don't happen to have almonds on hand for the filling, you could really substitute any kind of nut. This tart is quick and versatile and pretty wonderful.

Cherry Nectarine Tart
Makes one 9-inch tart 

For the pâte sucrée:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup caster sugar
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

For the almond filling:
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg white
1 teaspoon almond extract

For the tart:
2 nectarines, washed and cut into thin wedges
1/4 cup cherries, pitted and quartered
Turbinado sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. In three additions, beat in flour until dough forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Once chilled, roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface until 1/4-inch thin. Drape over a 9-inch tart pan and press into pan. Pierce bottom lightly with a fork. Place a sheet of parchment paper over dough and fill with pie weights or rice. Bake tart for 15 minutes, until golden at the edges. Remove from oven to cool.

While the crust cools, make almond filling. In the bowl of a food processor pulse slivered almonds, powdered sugar, and butter until almonds are ground and mixture is smooth. Add egg white and almond extract and pulse until the mixture has thinned slightly and is smooth and spreadable. Dollop almond filling over tart crust and spread to cover the bottom. Arrange nectarine slices in concentric circles. Scatter quartered cherries over the tart and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, until fragrant and the nectarines and cherries have softened. Let cool completely.

More Summer Tarts

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Maple-Coconut Granola


Now, I realize this isn't a particularly exciting post for many of you. I mean this blog is called Baking the Book, for god's sake. And the past few recipes haven't even really been baking either, though the ice creams aren't exactly something to turn your nose up at. But let me explain myself before you click back to more...well...exciting food porn.

If you've been reading for a while, you'll probably already know that indulgent food is one of my greatest vices. When something delicious is placed in front of me, all willpower I may have once possessed (though realistically, I'm not sure I had much to begin with) disappears as quickly as the salted caramel brownies or oatmeal cookies before me. So, on occasion, when I head into the kitchen, I like to pretend to be a bit more virtuous.

Instead of delving straight into a recipe for a black forest gateaux or a cheesy pull-apart bread, I test my abilities, hoping to create something that is both irresistible and marginally less artery-clogging. A tall order, if you ask me. Despite the arduous journey to virtuosity and deliciousness, I finally landed on a recipe that ticks every box you could hope for. Enter Maple-Coconut Granola.

Like many granola recipes out there nowadays, this one uses olive oil as the fat. It tones down the sweetness and gives the granola a full-bodied robustness that's just what I want in the morning. Or the afternoon. Or at midnight. The maple syrup is a little bit funkier than honey or brown sugar and just so happens to be (sort of) good for you. You can obviously use any nuts you like, but I've found that the combination of macadamia nuts and pistachios strikes the right balance between rich and buttery and salty-crunchy. So, if you ever considered taking my advice, now is most definitely the time.

Maple-Coconut Granola

6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups unsweetened thick coconut chips (these have a nice heft in the granola that shredded coconut won't give you)
1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts
1 1/2 cups shelled, salted pistachios
1 cup dark amber maple syrup
2/3 cup olive oil
A pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large roasting pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss together oats, coconut chips, macadamia nuts, and pistachios. In a measuring cup, stir together maple syrup, olive oil, and salt. Make a well in the oat mixture and pour maple syrup mixture in. Fold until all dry ingredients have been coated. Spread mixture evenly over prepared roasting pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant, stirring every 15 minutes or so. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container- it will keep for up to a week, though it certainly won't last that long

More Granola