Raspberry-nut valentine cookies

I love chocolate. This is an unoriginal opinion, but it is nevertheless so, so true. So when I stumble upon cookies that aren’t chocolate–in the graduate students’ lounge of my department, at a friend’s house for dinner–I can’t say I feel mad, but I am certainly disappointed. A non-chocolate cookie is better than no cookie at all, but a great chocolate chip cookie always triumphs over all other options.

Except, once a year, on Valentine’s Day, ever since I was a little kiddo, I have preferred these raspberry-nut sandwich cookies. For one, they are beautiful: the raspberry jam shining through from the bottom layer, offset by the white powdered sugar on the top. Continue reading “Raspberry-nut valentine cookies”

Hot fudge banana pound cake

Sometimes I want my one-day-from-fruit-flies bananas to become a relatively healthy breakfast bread.

Most times, though, I want this. And how could I not? The flavor profile is perfect in its simplicity: just a dense, rich banana pound cake, swirled through with hot fudge sauce. You would be crazy not to serve it fresh out of the oven with vanilla ice cream that melts down into the nooks and crannies of the poundcake + more fudge sauce on top. What more could you ask for on a cold winter’s night? Leftover fudge sauce, you say? This does that, too, so stock up on ice cream.

Continue reading “Hot fudge banana pound cake”

Bourke Street Bakery’s chocolate ganache tartlets

In Sydney, there exists the most magical place in the world: the Bourke Street Bakery. Located in my old neighborhood of Surry Hills, it is a tiny cupboard of a bakery whose baked goods—glorious, crusty breads ranging from soy-and-linseed sourdough to fig and walnut; flourless chocolate cakes; savory sausage rolls and pies; and oh-my-word tarts—create a queue that stretches out the door and down the block every morning.

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The day before I moved back to the States, I broke down and bought their (expensive, heavy, beautiful) cookbook. I have not regretted it. Continue reading “Bourke Street Bakery’s chocolate ganache tartlets”

Nutty spiced caramel corn

Caramel corn. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I’ve never liked it. It is usually tooth-achingly sweet: the caramel doesn’t taste like caramel as much as it does plain sugar. And it is so, so sticky: you can’t eat it without it getting stuck in and between your teeth. Plus, it always seems to come in a ball the size of my fist. Do you take a bite straight off the side and risk getting all of your teeth stuck to the whole thing? Try to break it apart, making your hands sticky through multiple hand washings?

So, I’ve always taken a pass.

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But then I found myself home alone with a sweet tooth and no chocolate in the house (the horror!). I did, however, have plenty of popcorn kernels. Then I remembered a caramel corn recipe I’d seen in one of my favorite cookbooks. Skeptical but desperate (again: no chocolate), I set to work. Continue reading “Nutty spiced caramel corn”

Apple crisp

It happens to the best of us. It’s fall, and you go apple picking. The air is crisp. The leaves are starting to change. It would seem criminal to be inside. So you wander the orchard, chatting with your friends or partner, picking apples for a couple of hours.

And then you got home. You realize: what in the world did you think you were going to do with ten pounds of apples?

Continue reading “Apple crisp”

Fig and mascarpone tart with pistachio crust

Fall doesn’t mean fruit desserts have to come to an end. In fact, this fig and mascarpone tart is one of my favorites. Its appeal is its simplicity: a nutty, pistachio crust; a lightly sweet, creamy mascarpone filling, brightened up with a touch of lemon zest; and the freshest, one-day-from-being-overripe figs you can find.

Continue reading “Fig and mascarpone tart with pistachio crust”

Mom’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

For those who have spent any time with me, these cookies need no introduction. Elementary school classmates will remember them from bake sales and sleepovers. Childhood friends will remember baking them (and sneaking cookie dough) at my parents’ house. The same friends will remember, when we were in high school, eating two or three or four on afternoons at Ocean Beach. College friends in Boston shared the cookies when they arrived in care packages. And now I bake them, too, at least monthly. They have served as thank you’s, birthday presents, peace offerings, and potluck fodder. They are a chewy, chocolatey reminder of home, every time.

First they were Mom’s house cookie; now they are mine, too. We have found none better. Continue reading “Mom’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies”

Chocolate, cherry, and hazelnut fougasse

A little over a year ago, a dear friend (and fellow graduate student) and I had an idea: to cook our way through an entire cookbook. Think Julie & Julia, but with more camaraderie and a tighter budget. We settled on David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen because it boasted solid reviews, stunning photos, and stories about Paris that delighted us with their enthusiasm and their sarcasm. (Sorry, France, I love you, but you do bring it on yourself sometimes.)

And so, every Sunday night for a year, my friend and I convened in her kitchen or mine to chop, sauté, braise, boil, and bake. She is impatient with processes—why does hot cheese take so long to cool?—and hates buttering baking dishes. I am far too cavalier about touching hot pans and foods. We came to refer to David Lebovitz as “Daveed” and talked about him as if he were in the kitchen. (“Daveed didn’t explain what milkshake-like consistency meant!”) But we shopped, chopped, cooked, ate, counseled, and laughed together, proving that the very best thing about food is how it brings people together. (And that is saying a lot coming from someone who can rhapsodize about eggs simmered in tomato sauce.) Continue reading “Chocolate, cherry, and hazelnut fougasse”