Tartine Bakery: Lemon Shortbread

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Gosh. I really could devote a couple posts to the happenings since my last update (namely, wedding) but that will have to be another day. I do have some ideas for some posts about the wedding, though. So stay tuned if that’s of interest!

In the meantime, I decided to make shortbread this morning. This will be shortbread attempt #2. Attempt #1 was using Ina Garten’s recipe, pre-blog. (It was mediocre, I thought). #2 was a rousing success: light, buttery, and the recipe couldn’t be more foolproof. It’s so straightforward, the list of ingredients is super short, and it’s technically a one-bowl recipe if you’re doing the basic shortbread (not lemon-flavored). Me, I find an excuse to add lemon to anything. Like garlic and pepper, I feel like lemon makes most things better.

As an experiment, I actually made a couple of mini-cheesecakes in a mini-muffin tin using this shortbread. Those turned out nicely, too. To do that, pat the shortbread mixture into mini-muffin liners. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove and add the cheesecake filling on top (I just used the Philly mini-cheesecake recipe, but only followed it loosely. I added sugar, vanilla, and butter to cream cheese – to taste). Bake for another 25-30 min or so. Then I also added a layer of sour cream topping after they’d cooled.

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Lemon Shortbread (Adapted from Tartine Bakery’s recipe, courtesy of the Dessert Before Dinner blog)

3/4 cups wheat flour
1 cup + 2 Tbsp soft unsalted butter
¼ tsp salt (I used kosher)
1 ¾ cup +2 Tbsp flour
⅓ cup sugar (+ more for topping, if you wish. I omitted this)
Zest from 2 small lemons

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Zest lemon and add to sugar
  3. Cream salt, lemon-sugar mixture, and butter together. Mix flour in with butter until smooth
  4. Pat dough into a 6×10 inch pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden
  5. Remove from oven. Cut into small fingers while warm but let cool completely before removing from pan

I had a piece right out of the oven and it was delicious. The shortbread retained their lightness long after they’d cooled, though, and they were just as good.

Baking this morning gave me a chance to catch up on one of my favorite music podcasts. And I have to say, zesting a lemon while listening to Greg and Jim list their favorite Lou Reed/Velvet Underground albums felt like the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning. So was hearing one of the listeners talk about how there’s a belief in Ireland about a river of creativity that flows and is shared from artist to artist (meant to illustrate his point about U2 being influenced by Van Morrison).

Am I the only one who finds that poetic and beautiful?

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Crispy, Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies

I’ve shied away from making peanut butter cookies for years now – probably since Home Economics in high school – because they’re too rich and too sweet for me.

Or so I thought. This past weekend, I wanted to try a different cookie from my usual line-up and I had a jar of crunchy peanut butter with probably 3 tablespoons left, so I tried Deb’s peanut butter cookie recipe. She adapted the recipe from the Magnolia Bakery cookbook (“Wait, Magnolia makes more than just cupcakes?”).

These are the lightest peanut butter cookies I’ve tasted. And they fit my perfect cookie prototype of crispy exterior / chewy interior. I think it’s preferable to use crunchy peanut butter for the texture and I added rolled oats for texture.  The next time I make these I might try adding even more oats. You can do the same, just be sure to adjust the ratio of flour to oats. 1:1 seemed to work for me (i.e., I replaced ½ cup of flour with oats).

Also, the original recipe called for both peanut butter and chocolate chips, but I don’t think either is needed. In fact, I feel again that the sweetness can maybe be cut down just a bit. But really, that’s very optional. They’re great at the current level of sweetness. It’s dangerously easy to put down like half of dozen of them in 15 minutes.

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fresh out of the oven

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different angle, anyone?

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let the scarfing begin

Peanut Butter Cookies (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

3/4 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (crunchy)
3/4 cup, minus 1 Tbsp, sugar
1/2 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional, for sprinkling: 1 tablespoon sugar, regular or superfine

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy.
  3. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly.
  4. Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips. Place sprinkling sugar — the remaining tablespoon — on a plate.
  5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion.
  6. Using a fork, lightly indent with a criss-cross pattern. I like my cookies on the flatter side so I flattened the cookies a good amount while doing this and got good results.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not.
  8. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

It’s double recipe day!

Well, technically it was last weekend. We went to a family barbecue and I ambitiously decided to bake something for the kids and something else for everyone older than 12. Here’s what I came up with. With slightly improved photos!

For the kids:
Butterscotch Pudding Cookies

Borrowing from the pudding cookie recipe, I made butterscotch pudding cookies because that was the only flavor pudding I had left. My first batch was plain/no mix-ins to see what I was working with. Each subsequent batch got more and more mix-ins until I ended up with chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, honey roasted peanuts, coconut flakes. I do like that combination myself.

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messy batter shot

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posing as chocolate chip cookies

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hooray for baking during daylight!

Butterscotch Pudding Cookies (Adapted from Chef in Training and Inside BruCrew Life)

1 1/2 sticks (or 3/4 cup) butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, minus 1 Tbsp
1/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2-1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 (3.4 oz.) box instant butterscotch pudding

mix-ins (measurements up to your discretion)
semi-sweet chocolate chips
white chocolate chips
coconut flakes
coarsely chopped honey roasted peanuts

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat again.
2. Combine the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and pudding mix. Slowly mix into the butter mixture until thoroughly combined. Do not over mix. Stir in mix-ins by hand.
3. Drop by small spoonfuls onto a baking sheet. Bake at 375* for 8-10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Store in a sealed container.

For the adults:
Apricot Summer Cake

The real winner was the apricot summer cake, which is an adaptation from a strawberry summer cake recipe. The pictures of this cake looked so scrumptious I couldn’t let the fact that I had no strawberries stop me. So I used what I had on hand—apricots. I also subbed about half of the milk from the original recipe for sour cream because I had an open carton handy. I liked the tang and the density the sour cream provided.

I really enjoyed this cake. It’s just a little bit different (how many apricot cake recipes are out there?) and has just the right amount of sweetness. It’s simple to make and I loved the tartness of the apricot topping. It’s funny, I spent an inordinate amount of time researching different fruit/summer-appropriate cakes to make. I was debating between this cake or a pound cake. I can’t resist a good pound cake. Maybe next time!

I imagine that peaches, nectarines, or any kind of berry, would all work well for the topping. The next time I make this, I might try adding in some lemon zest with the sugar and maybe sprinkle some on top of the fruit.

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before the oven

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so apricots are less than attractive when baked, but they taste amazing

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It’s okay that the pre-baked picture is prettier, right?

Apricot Summer Cake (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (200 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk 1/2 cup
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
7-8 apricots, sliced thin

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan or a 9″ square cake pan (what I used).
2. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.
3. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes (or if you’re like me and have no mixer, whisk by hand). Mix in egg, sour cream, milk and vanilla until just combined.
4. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.
5. Pour into prepared tin.
6. Arrange sliced apricots (or fruit of your choice) on top of batter. Sprinkle some sugar over the topping.
7. Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes.
8. Let cool in pan on a rack.

The cake can be served with whipped cream, creme fraiche, or even a la mode. Oh yeah, both desserts were well-received by their respective tasters.

pudding chocolate chip cookies

After having a late lunch of Ricky’s Fish Tacos (our first time! And it did not disappoint), I got a hankering for something sweet. It is Easter after all, and since I don’t have chocolate bunnies, Cadbury eggs, jelly beans, or fluorescent Peeps around me to partake in, I could always use a cookie.

So I decided to try pudding cookies. 

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These were way tastier than the sub-par picture. I keep baking at night. Sorry!

The recipe is basically a spin on a traditional chocolate chip cookie, but it’s more fool-proof. The pudding makes the cookies nice and soft and gives you some insurance in (over)-baking. They’re also hardy little things. I sort of dropped one while transferring them to the cooling rack and it barely even dented. 

Adapted from Nikki’s recipe from Chef in Training. I cut the sugar, as I do for most baking recipes, and sprinkled in some espresso salt in the flour mixture. 

PUDDING COOKIES

1 1/2 sticks (or 3/4 cup) butter
3/4 cup brown sugar minus 1-2 Tsb
2 tsp white sugar
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding OR 2 small packages (1.85 oz)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2-1/4 cups flour
1-2 cups chocolate chips (or whatever add in you would like)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Stir together flour and baking soda and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together.
  4. Add in pudding package and beat until well blended.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla.
  6. Add flour mixture slowly until well incorporated.
  7. Add chocolate chips or whatever add-in you chose.
  8. Roll into 1″ balls and place on greased baking sheet. Flatten the cookies since if you want a thinner cookie (my personal preference).
  9. Bake at 350 F for 8-12 minutes (about 11 minutes in my oven), and I rotated the pans halfway through when I remembered.

Extremely simple and straightforward recipe. I don’t even want to tell you how many cookies I ate before I finished baking the last batch. Good thing I went to spin class this morning. 

Happy Easter, everyone! Hope you had some of that disgusting Easter candy that I was craving all day!