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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Updates from JulieBakes

The problem with baking so often, and well, is that people start to develop favorites.  My sister?  Blueberry crumb cake.  Mom?  She love cappuccino brownies.  B?  Yellow cake cupcakes, brownies, and ruggelach pinwheels.  One of B's coworkers?  Obsessed with my crumb cake cookies.  

So suffice it to say that while I'm always up for baking new things, sometimes oldies get repeated.  Like between Thanksgiving and mid-December, I remade the blueberry crumb cake, cranberry bliss bars, and crumb cake cookies.  

Now that's not to say that the end of November and December weren't full of new and exciting recipes.  Like pumpkin spice candied nuts (a huge hit at Thanksgiving), 

Suffice it to say that despite continuous baking, I try not to repeat recipes on the blog.  So while you may see a lull in my posts, do not mistake that for inactivity in the kitchen. 

Wishing you all happy holidays, whichever holiday(s) you celebrate, and a happy new year!


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Rosemary, pecan, and parmesan cookies

I can see you. Through the computer. With that quizzical look. Rosemary + Parmesan, in a cookie?  She's for sure lost it this time.

But I haven't.  Nor has the creator of this cookie, Dorie Greenspan. (She's kinda like THE cookie goddess, if you don't know who she is.)  Nor has the person who recommended them to me, and told me that despite all the Thanksgiving baking I still had left to do, these cookies definitely needed to be made. 

These cookies are savory -- a savory shortbread, almost closer to a cracker, with a fine crumb (they're so crumbly, but in the best way possible) and just the teensiest hint of sweetness.  So much so that they're called -- get this -- cocktail cookies!  Not in the sense that there's booze in them (how can we make that happen?!), but in the sense that you eat them with booze.  White wine was mentioned somewhere, so was some champagne.  I could definitely get on board with that!

So yeah, these cookies.  It's probably too late for you to make them for this Thanksgiving, but Christmas is right around the corner....so is New Year's...or just any random Friday (or Tuesday) night!

A few thoughts about these cookies:

- They come together super easily!  Like all in the bowl of a food processor. No warming of the butter to room temperature.  Literally a few whirls in the food processor. That's it, people!
- Please, freshly grate your Parmesan. Don't use the stuff from the container from the grocery store.  I just feel like the freshly grated stuff is worlds better when it comes to baking.
- I'm toying with the idea of adding a few grinds of fresh black pepper next time.  I might also up the cheese just a little bit. 
- Lastly, don't be lazy like yours truly. Not wanting to take out your food processor because it's in the back of the cabinet behind a lot of other stuff is a pathetic reason to half the recipe so that you can use your mini-prep (which is way more accessible), yielding half as many delicious cookies, and just necessitating that you make another batch sooner.

Rosemary-Parmesan Shortbread Cookies
These were recommended to me by a friend, who has Dorie's new cookbook.  She even sent me pictures of the recipe from the book, but the flash got in the way, so a not-so-quick, very specific internet search yielded me the recipe linked above.

For a more crumbly texture, Dorie recommends not grating your cheese too fine.

Yields about 60 cookies


3 Tbsp granualted sugar
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated and lightly packed
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small chunks
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

Special tools:
1.5" round cookie cutter


Season the sugar:
Working in a small bowl, run the sugar and rosemary together with your fingertips until the sugar turns moist, aromatic, and maybe even tinged green (mine was not green, and my fingers killed from all the mixing, so I left mine aromatic and moist, but still white)

Toast the pecans:
I did mine in a toasted at 400F.  
Watch closely, mine took about 5 minutes.  
Do not let them burn 

Prepare the dough:

Combine the flour, pecans, Parmesan, salt, and rosemary sugar in a food processor.
Pulse to blend.
Add in the pieces of cold butter.
Pulse until the mixture turns crumbly.
Slowly and gradually pulse in the beaten egg yolk.
Then continue to pulse the mixture until it turns to a moist dough that forms clumps and curds.

Roll the dough:

Turn the dough out and divide it in half.
Pat each half into a disk.
Working with one disk at a time, place the dough between two sheets of parchment paper.
Roll the dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness.
Repeat with the other half.
Without removing the parchment paper, slide both disks onto a baking sheet -- you can stack them -- and freeze for at least 1 hour.  (Freeze?  Haha.  My freezer is FULL TO THE MAX.  Literally.  I could not fit a baking sheet into it if I tried.  So I refrigerated mine overnight.)

Position your oven rack to the center of your oven.
Preheat to 350F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
Have your cookie cutter on hand.

Cut the cookies:
Working with one slab of dough at a time, peel away the top sheet of parchment paper.
Use the cookie cutter to cut out as many circles as you can.
Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet.
Leave about 1 inch between cookies.
Combine the scraps from both portions of dough.
Re-roll the dough.
Freeze and repeat the process with the remaining dough.
Always make sure that you start with a cool baking sheet.

Bake the cookies, for about 15 minutes, or once they turn golden and have set.
Rotate your baking sheet 180 degrees halfway through the baking time.
Once done, let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 3 minutes and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.
Bake the remaining cookies.

To store:
If wrapped well, the rolled out dough can be frozen and stored for up to 2 months.
Simply cut out the dough and bake directly from the freezer.
Baked cookies can be kept in a covered container for up to 1 week at room temperature.

Serve with a crisp glass of white wine or champagne.  (or the whole bottle....this is a no judgement zone!)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pumpkin spice candied nuts

At my grandfather's 90th birthday (!!) celebration last night, my aunt (who hosts Thanksgiving) asked me if I was baking anything for Thanksgiving.  Of course, the answer was yes!  I asked her what she wants, and I heard the most beautiful words ever: "you have free reign."  As in I can bake whatever I want!  And what's even more, my cousin (whom I love dearly, and we will all miss at Thanksgiving dinner) with the nut allergy won't be there, I can really bake anything!

Like these nuts.

OK, OK, they don't technically fall under "baking," however they do go in the oven, so they are technically baked.

I had been toying with the idea of making some pumpkin spice candied nuts for a while.  But as you probably know, I'm not a huge fan of pumpkin spice.  And when I came home and got ready to bake them, the pumpkin spice mix I thought I had at home was nowhere to be seen.  So with that little snafu (combined with the fact that my Trader Joe's was out of pumpkin spice, too!) as my disdain for pumpkin spice flavors, I made these candied nuts with a combination of spices found in pumpkin spice, but not all of them.  Which is fine for me, since the missing spices are actually the spices I don't like in pumpkin spice flavored foods and drinks.

I chose to package these nuts in a clear cube box (meant for cupcakes).  With a nice bow and cute hanging tag, they'd be a perfect holiday hostess gift...or gift for the pumpkin spice lover in your life!

Pumpkin Spice Candied Nuts
Adapted from these candied cinnamon sugar nuts


6 cups of nuts (I used mixed nuts.  I wanted to make sure to have some pecans in it, since I think pumpkin pie and pecan pie are synonymous with Thanksgiving.  After devouring half the recipe, B and I decided that the pecans were the best part.  No one would fault you if you went ALL pecans or half pecans and half other nuts.)
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp salt

Optional (if you want to really make them "pumpkin spice"-y):

pinch of ground allspice
pinch of ground cloves


Preheat the oven to 300F.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
Spray with non-stick spray (if using parchment paper).
Set aside.

Mix nuts in a large bowl.
Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and water on medium-high speed until still peaks form, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
Stir until well combined.

Pour sugar mixture over nuts.
Stir to coat completely.
Spread nuts over the baking sheets.
Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely.

Store nuts at room temperature, covered.