cornmeal shortbread cookies

I had some major Murphy’s Law action going on in my kitchen last week. The first few days of it were subtle, but when my cupcakes exploded all over the pan and then sunk back into themselves like collapsed calderas, it got me thinking. I remembered the bagels I’d forgotten about and left out overnight to harden around the edges, and the crockpot full of red lentil stew that turned into red lentil soup when I accidentally added an extra cup of water. Then there was the leftover lentil soup that I burned. You know you’re having a bad week in the kitchen when you burn leftover soup.

These cookies, made from dough hastily pulled from the freezer after the cupcake debacle, came out wonderfully. I loved their square edges and straight sides. I enjoyed their crisp sandiness with a touch of grit from the cornmeal.

I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. When the cookies were in the oven, I assumed they’d spread too much. When they didn’t, I assumed I’d over or underbake them. When I didn’t, I assumed I’d drop them. It wasn’t until they were safely in the hands of my coworkers that I breathed a sigh of relief.

In the end, I got more comments on these cookies than any treat I’ve brought to work in months. Most people said that were interesting, but everyone said they were good. If you’d like to try these interesting good cookies that I made for Tuesdays with Dorie, Valerie has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Chockablock Cookies
Two years ago: Chocolate Cream Tart
Three years ago: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

tourtely apple tart

Sometimes I think I can multitask, but I am wrong. While Dave and I were having an interesting conversation about our almost-teenaged nephew gaining independence and confidence, I was jotting down the ingredients for the tart crust. (I don’t bring cookbooks into the kitchen; I don’t want them getting dirty.) I was also congratulating myself on how I was paying attention to the conversation and making insightful responses – although Dave might disagree – while getting a cooking task done.

Nope. I messed it up. I wrote down the version without nuts, even though I had specifically bought walnuts because I thought they’d complement the apples nicely.

So perhaps I didn’t make quite the dessert I was meant to.  In the end, I liked the filling just fine, but the crust wasn’t the right match for it.  It was too simple, too sugary, too cookie-like.  I suspect some bitter earthy walnuts was just the flavor I was craving.  And I suspect this is a lesson I’m going to have to learn over and over again before it sticks.

Jeannette chose this apple tart pie thing for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted.  I tweaked a bunch of little things with the filling, but nothing crucial.

One year ago: Sweet Cream Biscuits
Two years ago: Chocolate Bread Pudding
Three years ago: Carrot Cake

strawberry double crisp

There’s an inverse relationship between how doughy a dessert is and how often I’ll make it. That means that I will never make something for dessert that doesn’t contain anything resembling flour and butter, like poached pears. Pound cake, on the other hand, is my favorite thing to bake, because it’s nothing but dough. I hardly ever make crisps, and cobbler is only slightly more popular in my kitchen; at least cobbler biscuits are based on dough, even if there is all kinds of fruit mucking up the pureness of the butter and flour mixture.

But oh, this was good. I loved how the strawberries were simmered and crushed into a jam, I loved the combination of strawberries and cranberries (standing in for the unavailable rhubarb), and most of all, I loved how there was crisp topping lining the bottom of the pan as well as sprinkled on top. That bottom layer of topping (bottoming?), which contains both butter and flour and thus resembles dough, baked into something almost cookie-like.

The ratio of fruit to topping was perfect. The combination of berries and plain Greek yogurt was perfect. And most of all, the presence of baked dough was perfect.

Sarah chose this for Tuesdays with Dorie and has the recipe posted. I substituted cranberries for rhubarb, although I’m sure rhubarb would be delicious. I used almond slivers instead of walnuts, then added a dribble of almond extract for good measure. I didn’t have crystallized ginger, so minced up a cube of fresh ginger. I melted the brown sugar with the butter for the topping instead of adding it to the dry ingredients.

One year ago: Swedish Visiting Cake
Two years ago: Chocolate Amaretti Torte
Three years ago: Marshmallows


ice cream tart

It was 96 degrees here on Saturday, which is hot for this time of year even by southern New Mexico standards. Ice cream tartlets on the hottest day of the year would have been perfect. Too bad I was so busy sitting outside enjoying the heat to get the tarts made.

I’m surprised by how well we weathered the heat this weekend. I guess between the breeze, the cool nights, the cheapy kiddie pool full of frigid water to put our feet in, and plenty of shade when the sun got to be too much, we can handle those hot days just fine. The ice cream tarts that got made the next – also hot – day didn’t hurt either.

Jessica chose the Coffee Ice Cream Tart for Tuesdays with Dorie this week, and she has that recipe posted. I went a different direction with a plain tart crust and strawberry daiquiri ice cream. Because there were a few comments about the tart crust being too hard to cut once it was frozen, I increased the butter in Dorie’s Sweet Tart Dough to 10 tablespoons and added an extra egg yolk. Even frozen, this tart crust was perfectly tender.

One year ago: Mocha Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake
Two years ago: Banana Cream Pie
Three years ago: Lemon Cream Tart

pecan powder puffs

Every Christmas, my mom would take a plate of our colorful sugar cookies, tree-shaped cream cheese spritz, and chocolate-topped peanut butter blossoms over to the neighbors or a friend. She would return with a plate of their Christmas traditions, which seemed oddly shapen, bland, and stale compared to ours. Invariably, those plates would include these suspicious white blobs. I never knew if they were good or not, because I didn’t try one until last year.

Last year, my mom made her own Mexican wedding cookies (Russian tea cakes, pecan powder puffs, whatever you want to call them), and, oddly, they were some of my favorite cookies on the tray – and not just because I make the brown sugar cookies and cream cheese spritz regularly on my own. Crumbly soft, coated in sweet clouds of sugar, spiced and slightly bitter from the nuts, it’s very possible that I was missing out for years as a kid by ignoring those mysterious white balls the neighbors gave us. I’m making up for lost time now.

For the recipe, go to Tianne’s blog, because she chose these for Tuesdays with Dorie. I used walnuts instead of pecans.

One year ago: Coconut Tea Cake
Two years ago: Coconut Butter Thins
Three years ago: Gooey Chocolate Cakes

honey nut brownies

I was going to focus on how weird these brownies are, but instead I’m going to talk about how weird Dave is.

He doesn’t like brownies. He isn’t really into desserts in general, but brownies in particular just don’t do it for him. They’re too chocolately, he says. So I suspected that he would like these, and I was right. Better than the average brownie, he says.

While I think he’s nuts, I do see what these brownies have going for them. They don’t taste like chocolate, but I do think the bitterness from the chocolate is crucial to balance the sweetness of the honey.

Maybe they shouldn’t be called brownies. The flavor is mostly honey, and the texture is fluffy moist cake, not dense chewy brownie. Or maybe it’s just a brownie for brownie-haters.

Suzy chose this for Tuesdays with Dorie and has the recipe posted. I followed the recipe exactly (including the rather generous, for a Dorie recipe, amount of salt) because I was so curious about the outcome. Dave recommends adding bits of candied ginger to the batter, and I agree that the bite of ginger would offer another contrast to the sweet floral honey.

One year ago: Dulce de Leche Duos
Two years ago: Blueberry Crumb Cake

citrus sunshine currant muffins

There’s something about spring, and I don’t know what it is. I didn’t even think we’d get it here in the desert. Is it a smell? Is it the mourning doves? I do love their call. Maybe it’s the angle of the light, as our northern hemisphere leans more and more toward the sun.

Whatever it is, spring is in the air. Spring in southern New Mexico means eighty degree days and crossing your fingers it isn’t too windy out to enjoy the sun. Early spring where you are might mean you’re seeing some patches of ground through the snow. Either way, these bright citrusy muffins are the perfect complement to that spring feeling.

Lauryn chose these muffins for Tuesdays with Dorie and has the recipe posted. I increased the salt to ½ teaspoon and substituted the quarter cup of orange juice that I was short with a mixture of lemon juice and water.

One year ago: Soft Chocolate and Berry Tart
Two years ago: French Yogurt Cake


corniest corn muffins

I hemmed and hawed over these more than muffins probably deserve. The issue is that while I like corn on its own, I struggle to enjoy the crisp kernels in soups, breads, or stews. On the other hand, it’s nice to have some textural contrast in muffins – and what better to provide that in a corn muffin than corn?

In the end, in the spirit of Not Being Picky, I left the corn in (without pureeing it like I’d also considered). And I’ll be darned if one of these, served alongside a small bowl of chili topped with large amounts of Greek yogurt and avocado, wasn’t one of the most satisfying meals I’ve eaten in days.

These muffins were chosen for Tuesdays with Dorie by Jill, and she will post the recipe. I reduced the sugar to ¼ cup (per Deb’s recommendation), added half a minced jalapeno, and did not increase the salt(!). The cornmeal I used (Arrowhead) was finely ground, which I believe is what leant my muffins such a tender, almost flaky texture.

One year ago: Thumbprints for Us Big Guys
Two years ago: Lemon Cup Custard (my pick)



chocolate pots de creme

I optimistically bought a container of fancy full-fat yogurt to replace dessert this week, thinking that a few days without cookies and cake would do me good. I didn’t plan for the extra couple of chocolate pots de crème that would need to get eaten, and I forgot that I wanted to bake cookies to bring to work one day this week. I have good intentions of skipping dessert, but my love of baking is always my undoing.

Inasmuch as a tiny espresso mug of chocolate pot de crème can be anyone’s undoing. This simple mixture of chocolate, milk, cream, and egg yolks is rich and certainly best served in tiny servings if you want to retain any bit of those good intentions. But where’s the fun in that?

Christine chose this for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted. I love how rich and creamy it is but wish the chocolate flavor was more intense.

One year ago: Toasted-Coconut Custard Tart
Two years ago: Chocolate Whiskey Cake.


toasted almond scones

My parents are visiting this weekend (Hi Mom!), so of course I want to figure out the perfect menu that will taste amazing, fit everyone’s food preferences, reflect how I like to cook, and magically prepare itself while we’re out doing touristy things. Wish me luck!

My dinner plans are coming together, but I’ve been stumped at breakfast. Until I remembered that I have almond scones the freezer. Perfect! My mom loves scones and has been eating a lot of almonds lately. I’m sure my dad would rather have bacon (or sausage or ham or really any form of meat) and eggs, but when is it ever about the dad when your parents visit?

I believe my mom started really enjoying scones while she was visiting New Zealand several years ago. Unlike my retired world-traveling parents, I have never been to New Zealand, but I’m guessing the scones there are less sweet than we usually make them here in the US. If that’s the case, my mom will especially love these lightly sweetened biscuits. For eating plain, I might add a bit more sugar next time, but with a generous smear of jam, these were perfect.

Mike chose this recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie, and he has the recipe posted (as a link to the pdf; don’t miss it!). I doubled the salt.

One year ago: Honey Wheat Cookies
Two years ago: Caramel Crunch Bars