Cookie Mom-ster

momlede

For this Mother’s Day I wanted to dedicate this post to my mom. She is an amazing, smart, strong, beautiful, hard-working, loving, and resilient woman. I like to think (and hope) that I inherited all of those beautiful qualities from her.  Happy Mother’s Day, mama!

meandmama

 

Unlike me, my mom is very particular when it comes to sweets. She loves desserts with fruit, whereas I love rich desserts with chocolate. Remember this post? But one of the desserts my mom and me can agree on are Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. They’re her favorite cookie because they have a form of fruit in them, I imagine.

So when my parents came up to visit me a couple months ago, I asked my mom what kind of snack she wanted me to make for their trip back home. She mentioned oatmeal raisin cookies, so I put this recipe together that I thought she would love. I had a bottle of rum on hand from a rum cake recipe I always make for her, and decided to use it to rehydrate the raisins. I love the rich, caramel-like flavor the rum gives after they’ve been soaking with the raisins, so I added them to the dough. The recipe isn’t too sweet, so I also rolled the dough in sugar to create a pretty sugary crust. The end result is a not-too-sweet, spicy, (a bit boozy) oatmeal raisin cookie with a great depth of flavor.

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Snacks intended for their voyage back home, my parents confessed to me that the cookies were all gone way before they even got home. Apparently, my dad was a fan of them, too!

What are your favorite cookie flavors? What recipe reminds you most of your mom? Share your stories in the comments below; I’d love to read them!

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momheart

Mom’s Favorite Oatmeal Rum Raisin Sugar Cookies
Yields 1 dozen medium-sized cookies

INGREDIENTS 
1/3 cup dark rum, more if needed
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup sugar, for dusting

METHOD
To rehydrate the raisins, place them  into a small bowl and pour the rum into the bowl. The raisins should be completely immersed in the liquid. Add more if needed. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium-speed till incorporated. Add the egg and vanilla and mix till combined.

Drain the excess rum from the rehydrated raisins, reserving the rum. Set raisins aside. Fold in the rum into the mixture. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are mixed well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, spices, salt, and rolled oats. Slowly add the flour mixture into the sugar/butter mixture on low till just combined. (Don’t over-mix.) Fold in the rehydrated raisins to the dough. The dough will be slightly sticky—that’s OK.

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Place the dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is solidified. (Cook’s Note: If you’re making these a day ahead, wrap and place into the refrigerator overnight.)

While your dough chills, preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Place about a half-cup of sugar into a small bowl. Set aside.

Roll a small ice cream scoopful (or 2 Tablespoonfuls) of dough and place into the bowl of sugar and fully coat the cookie ball. Place the dough ball onto the sheet tray, leaving about 2 1/2 inches of space between each cookie.

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Bake for about 14-17 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

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momstyled3

 

 

Don’t Mess With Cookie Lyon

cookielede

cookiejammal

Jamal

By a show of hands, who’s also obsessed with Fox’s television show, Empire? I just can’t get enough. I was introduced to the show via some friends at work who also share my love for VH1’s Love and Hip Hop.

“Oh girl, you think Love and Hip Hop is good, you definitely need to watch Empire. You’ll thank me later,” one friend said.

“You’re not watching Empire yet? Get on it, girl! It’s like a scripted, well acted version. But 1000-plus times better. Trust me,” another friend exclaimed.

So I gave in to the peer pressure and watched the pilot that night. My expectations were exceeded. Are you kidding? This show is phenomenal. (Know that I don’t use that term lightly.) My girl Taraji P. Henson is KILLING IT as the lead heroine, Cookie Lyon. Mama is fierce! And I just can’t get over how gorgeous Jamaal (portrayed by actor Jussie Smollett) is.

(Side note: Did anyone realize a young Jussie was in THIS movie?) The relationship he and Cookie have is so beautiful to watch, like how a mama lioness watches over her cub. This show proves that a mother’s love is stronger than just about anything.

With all this talk about Miss Cookie, I got to thinking: It’s been a few weeks since I’ve made some actual cookies at home. So I got to the kitchen and started baking away. These cookies are such a great twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie. The brown butter deepens the flavor and the pecans add spice with a nice bit of crunch.

(Editor’s Note: All television show screenshots are property of 20th Century Fox.)

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cookiesmilk

Brown Butter Spiced Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cookie recipe slightly adapted from Joy the Baker
Spiced pecan recipe by A Streetcar Named Devour
Yields about 3 dozen cookies

FOR THE SPICED PECANS

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup pecans, whole

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and thoroughly coat the pecans.  Spread the pecans into a single layer onto the sheet tray. Place into the oven for 15 minutes. Once done, remove and allow to cool.

FOR THE COOKIES

INGREDIENTS
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (recipe above)

METHOD
Place half of the butter into a medium skillet. Melt the butter over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally to avoid burning. The butter will begin to foam while cooking. Once the butter starts to smell nutty and the color is light amber, it’s done. Carefully remove the butter and pour it into a small bowl to cool down.

While the brown butter cools, mix the other 1/2 cup of butter with the sugars, until the mixture is well incorporated. Add in the vanilla and the egg. Once cool, pour in the brown butter. Mix until smooth. Slowly add in all the dry ingredients until just incorporated.

Place the dough into a sealable container and into the refrigerator to cool for at least an hour. Even better if it’s overnight.

dough

cookietray

When you’re ready to bake the dough, preheat the oven to 350°F. Scoop the refrigerated dough in 2-tablespoon scoops onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet tray, lining them so that they have plenty of space as they will spread considerably once baked. Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes, or until they’re a pretty golden brown. Remove from the oven, and allow them to cool for at about 5 minutes.

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cookiestacks

cookielast

The Dough Jones

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Portland’s Doughnut stock is up up up! PDX should really stand for “Portland Doughnut eXchange” ‘cause when it comes to doughnuts, they’ve got plenty to choose from. For this week’s post, I went on an unofficial Doughnut Diet, and devoured way too many to count. Here’s how each donuttery’s stock stacks against the rest. (And just in case you’re wondering, that was 4-6 doughnuts a day within a 5-day period.) Oh my.

unnamed-4Blue Star
Stock up on:
+Meyer Lemon + Key Lime Curd
A whole brioche-style doughnut, filled with a smooth tangy key lime curd and dusted with powdered sugar. (It gets messy, so make sure you’ve got napkins handy.)
+Blueberry Bourbon Basil
A soft, fluffy, brioche-style doughnut with a purple-hued glaze and a hint of basil extract in the dough.
Why? Two words: Brioche, baby. Soft, buttery and sweet. Blue Star truly has some tasty combinations– Crème brûlée? Dulce de leche? Vahlrona Chocolate Crunch?

unnamed-6Voodoo
Stock up on:
+See my Portland Guide post HERE where I first publicly account my love for these devilish beings.
+Lemon Chiffon Crueler
The softest bites you’ll ever have. Like chewing into a pillow of lemon-y air. And those marshmallows, tho!
+Old Dirty Bastard
Chocolate frosting, Oreo cookie bites, and peanut butter. ‘Nuff said.
Why? Voodoo has done for doughnuts what Candace Nelson (of Sprinkles fame) did for cupcakes and what Roy Choi did with Korean barbecue-style tacos—niche branding. Brilliant.

unnamed-1Pip’s Original Doughnuts
Stock up on:
+Nutella + Sea Salt
+Candied Maple + Bacon
Why? Super fresh and crispy (they’re fried to order) cake bite-sized doughnuts. Like elevated Donettes, but better. Like WAYYYY better. Plus, they’ve got the BEST house-made chai lattes.

unnamed-2Tonalli’s Donuts & Cream
Stock up on:
+Blueberry Old-Fashioned
I’m going to be bold and say that this was hands down the best old-fashioned I’ve ever had. With those little blueberry bits mixed into the dough–I wish I ordered more.
+Bavarian Cream
Yeast-raised whole doughnut with chocolate glaze and a smooth creamy filling.
Why? HUGE selection of varieties and flavors to choose from. Still fully stocked well after 3 p.m.

unnamed-3Coco Donuts
Stock up on:
+Lavender
Cake-style doughnut with a refreshing lavender- flavored glaze
+Glazed yeast-raised
A perfectly executed take on a classic.
Why? They’ve got the classics down pat, and then some.

The Cookie Project

pmslead

So I’m a bit of an oversharer. I’ve been described as being kind of like Mindy Kaling’s title character on her eponymous show, The Mindy Project. And after watching the show obsessively for the past 3 seasons, I must say, I slightly agree. If you don’t already watch the show: Mindy is a hilarious, hopeless romantic, oversharing OB/GYN, who puts all of her business out there for her co-workers–regardless if it’s welcomed or not. (For instance, Morgan, the funny and always inappropriate ex-con male nurse, has her menstrual cycle memorized.)

I’m kinda the same way. Working in a kitchen full of guys, I often find myself talking about my personal life (solicited or not) and never hesitate to let them know when it’s “that time of the month.” (It’s actually in their best interest to know, so as to not make a rather hormonally charged emotional woman even more irritated.) When I am actually PMS-ing, the following occurs: a long, dragged-out, piercing headache; bouts of random crying spells watching television shows and/or movies that don’t necessarily require a tissue box on-hand (like that time I was watching Sister Act and started balling my eyes out during the scene when they were singing “Salve Regina”); and an uncontrollable craving for chocolate and baked goods. During the latter symptom, I’m often found in the kitchen scrounging up any ingredients I have to create something on the fly to nourish that sudden and unstoppable craving. For the last two cycles, I’ve been repeating the following recipe which I’ve affectionally dubbed my “P.M.S Cookies.” It’s the perfect name for them, actually, considering their origins and the fact that they’ve got pretzels + milk chocolate chips + salt in ‘em.

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P.M.S Cookies
(Pretzels + Milk Chocolate Chips + Sea Salt)

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
8 tablespoon unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup lightly crushed pretzels

cookiebatter

METHOD
In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Set aside.

In another bowl cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the Nutella and vanilla extract. Add the egg.

Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips and pretzels.

(If you’ve got the time and patience, keep reading. For all cookie emergencies, scroll down to the following paragraph.)
Portion dough with an ice cream scoop or heaping tablespoon onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the freezer overnight.

Portion dough (using an ice cream scoop or heaping tablespoon) 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350-degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes until the center is fully cooked.

Allow cookies to cool on the trays for 3-5 minutes then carefully place onto cooling racks.

pms

leaningtower

Flavor of the Week

Now in season: strawberries!

Now in season: strawberries!

When I worked as a Pastry Chef Assistant, I had the pleasure of making ice cream and sorbet bases daily. And when I say pleasure, I mean it. Ice cream and sorbets are a fairly easy sweet treat to make at home. And quite honestly, with all the ingredients listed on many store-bought ice creams–preservatives, additives, and chemicals one can’t even pronounce–it’s actually healthier (and perhaps safer) to consume those of the homemade variety. Wouldn’t you agree?

Now in season, strawberries are ideal for this warm weather, so sorbet is in order!

Ooh, and for a cool (alcoholic) refresher, you can add a scoop of the sorbet to a flute of sparkling wine (Prosecco works well) for a Bellini-style cocktail.

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Warning: Consumption of strawberries before making sorbet is often unavoidable!

Strawberry Sorbet
Yields about 1 quart

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
3 1/2 cups (16 ounces or 1 pound) strawberries, stems removed and quartered
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice (I used grapefruit juice and it tasted great!)

METHOD
Place the water and sugar into a small saucepan stirring to just combine. Heat over medium-high and boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. You’re basically making a simple syrup, so heat the sugar water till it’s a slightly syrupy consistency. Turn off the heat and transfer the simple syrup into a small bowl and into the refrigerator to cool.

While the simple syrup cools down, wash the strawberries and cut off the stems. Cut the strawberries into quarters. Place strawberries into a food processor or blender and blend till the fruit is completely broken down, adding a fresh squeeze of lemon juice.

Seriously so good

Seriously so good

Transfer the strawberry gazpacho to your ice cream maker, adding in the simple syrup. Churn the strawberry soup according to your ice cream maker’s manufacturer’s instructions. (My Hello Kitty Ice Cream Maker processes the mixture for 40 minutes.)

Sorbet before

Sorbet before

Sorbet after

Sorbet after

Once the mixture has been churned completely, place a sheet of plastic wrap just pressing the top of the sorbet to avoid getting ice crystals while freezing. Place into your freezer for at least 4 hours or until firm.

If I could escape...

If I could escape…