Dorie’s Cookies – Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Cast-Iron Pan Chocolate Cookie Bars

My plan for today was to come home, bake the Pistachio-Berry Slims and do a two-in-one Dorie’s Cookies post for today’s Tuesdays with Dorie. Instead, I hopped on the 99 bus, switched to the Number 15, and climbed the hill at Queen Elizabeth Park to Bloedel Conservatory. A once-in-a-decade event is happening right now and I decided to do a little bandwagoneering.

The corpse flower only blooms for a day or two, so it’s not something that can wait until the weekend. I managed to get there during a lull in the line up and was able to spend some time with the (surprisingly not smelly) bloom, along with the plants and birds that inhabit the conservatory. It’s quite a beautiful flower, even when not completely open as I saw it, the fabled scent associated with it gives its viewers an air of bravado, and its size is impressive. It’s also a rare flower, both in timing and number. But, I don’t think that’s the whole of its appeal. Its ephemerality ties the rest of these qualities together, making it irresistible to news outlets and spectators alike. There’s a powerful metaphorical appeal when something this singular takes so long to come to fruition, then withers in so short a span.

QE Park and Seasons in the Park

Or at least, that’s where my thoughts turned afterward, over an Aperol Spritz and artichoke leaves at Seasons in the Park. I went there to escape from the heat and fortify myself for a stroll through the quarry gardens and then the trek back to my side of town. Thank goodness for the lounges of fine dining restaurants. You can come in as you are (in my case, post-corpse flower viewing) and have access to the full menu. It was a good afternoon, but by the time I got home, I had just enough left in me to water the garden and have a proper bit of dinner. Baking was not in the cards.

Luckily, I’d made the cast-iron pan chocolate chip bars a few weeks ago, which put me in the (rare for me) position of being ready for the week’s post. Just like today’s activities, my version of these bars was a deviation from plan. I have a very small cast-iron pan, so I already knew I’d be making them in a springform. What I sacrificed in caramelly browning, I gained in cakey moistness. I was also low on shredded coconut, so rather than go to the store, I threw in some cocoa nibs. The squares still had a pleasing coconut taste, but the nibs amped up the chocolate flavour and added a bit of crunch, too.

I sliced these up in thin wedges and can attest that they’re equally good served with berries and whipped cream or unadorned. I gave three large portions away and still had more than a few days’ worth of dessert for myself. Another example of a successful detour, I’d say.

July’s Dorie’s Cookies goodness can be found here and here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

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Cook the Book Fridays – Baba Ganoush & Tourteau Fromager

Baba ganoush

I’ve got a pretty straightforward post today, featuring two recipes that I’ll revisit.

This week’s recipe is baba ganoush, one of those spreads with seemingly endless variations. David Lebovitz’ take on this is particularly good. A little heat, just enough garlic and lemon, fresh parsley and a nice ratio between the eggplant and tahini. I used parsley from my balcony garden, which this year is all flowers and herbs and topped the finished dish with olive oil and za’atar. Tonight I scooped it up with some seedy crackers and tomorrow I’m looking forward to using it in a veggie sandwich. I’ll also be packing up some to share, as this recipe makes a generous amount.

Tourteau fromager

I also managed to make the Tourteau Fromager last weekend. I shared it with my parents and they had it with fresh berry compote several days in a row (as did I). My father can’t stand American-style cheesecake, but he loved this. (I’m going to have to bring him to Uncle Tetsu to see if he likes that style of cheesecake, too.) I’ve made Dorie’s version of this before and this recipe is just as good. I really enjoyed working with the tart dough, it was supple and easy to coax into the pan. This batch had a gorgeous yellow colour from the farm-fresh egg that I used, too.

Here’s hoping for a quiet summer full of good food. Do you think that’s a realistic wish, these days?

You can read through everyone’s posts here and here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Dorie’s Cookies – Cocoa-Tahini Cookies with Sesame Crunch

Cocoa-Tahini Cookies with Sesame Crunch

We’re in the midst of a heatwave, so I baked these cookies quite late this evening and I only baked three of them. Luckily, they all turned out beautifully, because I wouldn’t have had much leeway for outtakes. And even more luckily, this cookie dough holds well in the refrigerator, so I can wait a day or two for the temperature to drop before baking off the rest. I left them in the oven just long enough to become slightly crunchy around the edges, which is a wonderful thing in a cookie.

These almost didn’t get made, because the sesame crunch reminded me so much of one of my favourite supermarket treats, Sesame Snaps. (In fact, those who are intimidated by caramel-making might pick up a pack of Sesame Snaps to use in place of the homemade crunch. But, you shouldn’t be intimidated – hot sugar is easier to work with than people realize.) I kept my baser instincts in check and saved the crunch for baking. It adds so much to the texture of this cookie and plays so well against the give of the chopped chocolate.

I’ll make these again, perhaps for this year’s cookie swap season. I suspect they’ll be popular.

Swedish Visiting Cake Bars

I’ve been pretty behind with blogging and I have been wondering when I’d make the Swedish Visiting Cake Bars this month. But then, I realized I already have (and loved them) way back in November of 2016. I’m not sure why I haven’t made them again, except that there are so many recipes to try and so few treat-eaters in my life. So, I’ve actually completed both Dorie’s Cookies recipe selections for this month! Here’s what I said about it on Instagram at the time, “It’s a thin layer of butter-rich cake flavoured with vanilla and almond topped by a meringue of egg white, powdered sugar, and sliced almonds – so good!”

Just a short post tonight, as I have been feeling a bit sapped of energy and optimism this week, the former lapped up by the heat and the latter ground out by the news. Cookies help.

June’s Dorie’s Cookies goodness can be found here and here at Tuesdays with Dorie.

Healthy-ish

Mock Orange

A neighbour told me today that mock orange only blooms every three years and I should enjoy the fragrant blossoms while I can. It’s not true, but it’s a pretty story and their season is so short that I think I’ll spend as much time lingering near them as I can in the next little while.

Everything, lately, seems especially ephemeral and I’m trying to take as much notice of my surroundings and its inhabitants as I can. That means walking Roxy a little farther than my tiredness would rather, so that she can make the most of a summer’s evening sniff, then talking softly to the skunk we encountered (while rapidly backing away). It means setting up a long-distance telephone visit with a friend, instead of putting it off for a few more weeks. And planting squash in the garden rather than working down the list of tasks waiting for me at my desk.

It also means doing a little baking, which I’ve not had much time for, so that I can drop off a banana blueberry oat loaf for a neighbour who isn’t well.

I think when someone is recovering from an illness or an injury, there is a lot of love and friendship that can be offered through helping with chores and errands, spending time watching a movie or playing a game, and bringing over food so that there’s always a meal at hand. I also believe in the healing power of treats, especially if they’re packing a nutritional punch.

If I had a recipe box, I’d have a section labelled ‘Almost Health Food’ because I think a little indulgence while one’s on the mend can speed a recovery up, or at least make it feel like it’s dragging on a little less. I think a loaf like this is especially good for seniors, because it’s full of nutrients, with some fat and protein along for the ride to keep them going.

It’s also one of those infinitely variable recipes that can accommodate almost anything you’ve got in your pantry. Soak some dried cherries and replace the blueberries, skip the oats and add bran or wheat germ instead, play around with the flours or sweeteners, go for chocolate and coffee instead of fruit.

In this version, I added a little yogurt, because I thought whole wheat flour and rolled oats might be too much for even the moistest of bananas. They came out perfectly.

Banana Blueberry Oat Loaf

BANANA BLUEBERRY OAT LOAVES

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°. Butter four 5¾” × 3½” × 2¼” mini-loaf pans and set aside. (You can flour or sugar them afterward, but I find these loaves come out of the pan quite easily.)

Toss the blueberries in half a tablespoon of flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, making a well in the centre. Then, in a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined, then stir in the blueberries.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and then place them in the oven for 35 minutes. (Start checking at 20 minutes.) I like mine to be a slightly toasty brown around the edges, but you might like yours a little less done.

Let the pans rest on baking racks for five minutes, then turn them out, turn them over, and let them cool completely. Once they’re cool, you can wrap a couple well for the freezer, wrap another in brown paper to bring to a friend, and slice into the one you’ve saved for yourself. I find they keep quite well in a parchment-lined cookie tin, if you’re not into sharing, but why wouldn’t you? These are too good to keep to yourself.

Banana Blueberry Oat Loaf

Cook the Book Fridays – Buckwheat Madeleines

Buckwheat Madeleines

I’ve made madeleines twice in the past week – once for Tuesdays with Dorie and now for Cook the Book Fridays. Both recipes involved browned butter, but they part ways there. The ones I made earlier in the week were not far off traditional, with a rich, buttery vanilla flavour. The ones I made today are mostly buckwheat flour, with egg whites for lightness and cocoa nibs for a subtle, crunchy chocolate surprise. Not at all traditional, but delicious nevertheless.

I used to bring big baskets of snickerdoodles and chocolate crinkles to meetings, partly because I thought the flavours made a nice contrast, but also for the visual impact. I think I might start doing the same with madeleines, too. The nuttiness of the buckwheat and the chocolate crunch of the cocoa nibs would contrast nicely with the traditional cakes.

Ghost Chocolate ice cream at Earnest Ice Cream

I also wish I’d picked up a pint of the ice cream I tried today. Ghost Chocolate, a collaboration between Earnest Ice Cream and East Van Roasters, is made from steeping cocoa shells (that would otherwise be discarded) in cream to make a subtle chocolate ice cream that would complement these buckwheat madeleines perfectly.

I’ll have to make do (happily) with warm madeleines and a cup of tea. C’est la vie.

Buckwheat Madeleines with cocoa nibs

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Baking Chez Moi – Apple Matafan

Apple Matafan

There is a store near me that bundles up the produce that’s about to be replaced by the next shipment and puts it on sale. I have to be careful, because those bags of apples, tomatoes, potatoes or bananas always convince me that it’s time for a kitchen project. When it’s a big bag of tomatoes or potatoes, it’s simple – they go into the oven with some seasoning and do their thing. The large quantity of apples and bananas I picked up last week are another matter altogether. I’ve been baking all week.

 Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

So far, my freezer is full of apple cake and I’m going to spend the next day or two dropping off Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins to friends.

The Apple Matafan I made tonight, though, isn’t going anywhere. It’s going to be breakfast for the next several days, accompanied by yogurt and maple syrup, or perhaps a bit of jam. It’s meant to be eaten within a day, but I enjoy using this kind of pancake as a sort of breakfast trifle. It’s stuffed with apples and flavoured with vanilla and brandy (or apple jack or brandy). It will fortify me as I continue to fill my freezer with apple and banana treats.

Which reminds me, it’s finally time to buy a really big bag of rhubarb. I need to buy a bigger freezer…

Apple Matafan with maple syrup

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this month’s recipes from Baking Chez Moi here.

Tuesdays With Dorie – Viennese Shortbread & Some Catching Up

Viennese Sablés

Viennese Sablés

Hot on the heels of my Cook the Book Fridays catch up, here is the Tuesdays with Dorie edition.

Today’s treat is Viennese Sablés from Baking Chez Moi, though I’m sure you wouldn’t be able to guess from my photo above. During some spring cleaning and organizing, I decided to move my box of piping tips from the drawer that they’ve never quite fit into – trouble is, I don’t remember where I decided to move them. So, after a quick attempt at piping them through a snipped zip bag, which did not make for an appetizing presentation, I decided to lightly shape them into rounds. They don’t have quite the lightness that they would if I’d piped them properly, but they still have that Danish cookie-from-the-tin flavour and even that texture, in their pillowy interiors.

Apple Weekend Cake

Apple Weekend Cake

Just before going out to visit family for the Easter weekend, I baked one large loaf and four small loaves of Dorie’s Apple Weekend Cake from Baking Chez Moi. One of the small loaves disappeared before I made it out of town (I had help from friends, I swear), and the rest of the mini-loaves were eaten by ravenous relatives. The large loaf got popped into the freezer, awaiting my mother’s next Board meeting. Along with the carrot cake I told you about on Friday from My Paris Kitchen, and a generous slathering of cream cheese-mascarpone icing on everything, this apple cake may have assured my mother another Presidential term. Apple Weekend Cake is similar to family favourite, Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake, but this cake is sturdy enough to bring on a picnic or pack in a lunch box while still being tender and moist.

Crumb-Topped Apple Bars

Crumb-Topped Apple Bars

Thank goodness for citrus season and really good storage apples. They get me through that last little bit of winter/early spring before the rhubarb shows up in the markets. (The rhubarb in my garden takes a bit longer to grow, so it will be some time before I’m picking it.) I picked up a bag of fantastic Pink Lady apples a few weeks ago, when my longing for rhubarb and spring was at its height and the perfect tartness of these apples helped, eaten out of hand and as the star of these bars from Dorie’s Cookies. Of course, they also put me in mind of Hungarian Shortbread with its rhubarb filling, so I’m glad it’s finally rhubarb season now.

Sebastian's Remarkably Wonderful Brownies

Sebastian’s Remarkably Wonderful Brownies

I froze these brownies right after making them, then pulled them out for a game day (board games, not team sports). By the end of our session of all ages Telestrations, the brownies had disappeared. These are fudgey, but they also have a little of the quality of the centre of a pavlova. I think it’s because the eggs are whipped for five minutes with the butter, sugar, and salt. It’s hard to stop at one of these, as my fellow game-players can attest. You can find the recipe here or in your copy of Dorie’s Cookies.

Bee's Sneeze Nuggets

Bee’s Sneeze Nuggets

The TwD group hasn’t delved too deeply into the savoury cookie section of Dorie’s Cookies as yet, but if these biscuit-y cookies are any indication, we should be spending more time there. Based on a cocktail, they make a great accompaniment to one. They’re also a great alternative to a cocktail, if you’re in the mood for the flavour without the buzz (so to speak). They’ve got all the botanical notes of gin, braced with lemon and subtly sweetened with honey. I took Dorie’s suggestion and served them with a bowl of honey for dipping and wouldn’t have them any other way.

It's blossom time in Vancouver

I’ll leave you with a shot of my neighbourhood in its spring finery. Walking the dog is even more of a pleasure than usual these days.

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this month’s recipes here.

Cook the Book Fridays – Beet Hummus and Some Catching Up

Beet Hummus

It’s been a while since I’ve posted for Cook the Book Fridays, though I’ve been cooking along as often as I could and posting the results on Instagram. Today, I found myself on schedule and with a little time to put together a post, so here I am! First up is today’s recipe, but I thought I’d add in the rest of the things I’d make since I posted last.

This spread looks like an especially vibrant finger paint, but is actually a delicious take on hummus, with the sweetness of beet, the sharpness of pomegranate molasses, and the spiciness of cayenne amping up the traditional ingredients. I took the time to remove the skins from the chickpeas, so the end result is extra-smooth. This was good with crackers tonight, but I’m planning on trying it with roasted potato wedges and crudites tomorrow.

Carrot Cake

I spent Easter weekend with family and though we had Easter dinner at my brother’s restaurant (it wasn’t just Easter and April Fool’s Day, but also my aunt’s 75th Birthday), I managed to do quite a bit of cooking and baking, as well. My mother had far too many carrots in her refrigerator, so I used that as an excuse to finally make the Carrot Cake that the rest of the group baked in February. It’s a beautiful cake, moist and rich, not too sweet and perfectly spicy. The cream cheese and mascarpone icing is delicious and might eclipse my love for traditional cream cheese icing with carrot cake.

I baked the cake in two 9″ pans and four mini-loaf pans. The double-layer round cake was still quite substantial at that size and the mini-loaves were very popular at my mother’s board meeting, I hear.

Chocolate Chip, Hazelnut & Dried Cherry Fougasse

I brought this bread to a board meeting of my own and it disappeared completely (always my goal). I love this sweet fougasse almost as much as the savoury version and am tempted to make both the next time I go to a potluck.

Panisse Puffs

These chickpea popovers were easy to make in a muffin pan and didn’t last long. I ate them as they were, but some of my tasters added jam. They’re a perfect addition to a brunch buffet.

Naan au Fromage

These are more Naan-ish than Naan, but that won’t stop me from having them again. I especially loved using the herbed variety of Laughing Cow cheese in these, as it saves a step and has just as much flavour.

Buttermilk Ice Cream

Buttermilk ice cream is the perfect way to use up buttermilk that’s left over from baking projects (or am I the only one who has trouble using up a full litre before it goes off?). It’s creamy and delicious and has a tang from the buttermilk that’s just as more-ish as the tang of Snickerdoodles.

You can read through everyone’s posts here. And consider joining this community of wonderful cooks and lovely people, as we work our way through David Lebovitz‘ My Paris Kitchen.

Safely Spring

I think we can safely say it’s spring. The snowdrops are still going strong in my garden, but daffodils, crocuses and even cherry blossoms are appearing here and there, too. More importantly, my rhubarb is starting to get going. It won’t be long before I can start using it and picking up more at the market, because I always need more than I produce.

I’m making a list of new rhubarb recipes to try, along with my perennial favourites. I’ve posted about a few on the blog, here are some highlights:

A crumb topping and a cookie crust that hold a rhubarb-lime treasure.

Who needs pineapple when there’s rhubarb around? For another take on this theme, you can try these.

Roasted rhubarb equals rhubarb in/on/instead of everything.

Incredible jam leads to even more incredible jammers.

An epic rhubarb adventure with my nieces.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying peak citrus and even the apples that are still quite good at this time of year. I managed to quell my impatience for spring by catching up on the Crumb-Topped Apple Bars that the Tuesdays with Dorie crew tackled in October. They didn’t last long, so I’m going to make some time for the spring-like meringues everyone (organized) made for this week’s recipe. Then, perhaps, it will be time to start harvesting the first stalks of rhubarb. One can hope.

Dorie’s Cookies – Chunkers

Chunkers from Dorie's CookiesIn some ways, I’ve been old all my life. Physically, I was born with a slight hearing deficit, near-sightedness has been with me since Grade Four, and my hair started turning grey when I was still in high school. My behaviour has often been grannyish, too – tea-drinking since twelve, defiantly knitting in my twenties and thirties, and pushing baked goods on all comers since I was old enough to stir a batter. For most of my life, those aspects of myself were characterized as quirks and sometimes even adorable emblems of my individuality. More recently, they’ve become evidence of my status as an oldster.

Now it’s my politics, my way of life, and many of my experiences that are seen as incongruous. Feminism in those over forty is getting a drubbing this week, in particular, thanks to Caitlin Flanagan and her disavowal of any understanding of how young women date these days.

At least I can take solace in baking, which is where this particular train of thought began. (You were wondering when I’d get to the cookies, weren’t you?) Taking a photo of these proved challenging and I’m once again impressed with the production team behind Dorie’s Cookies – the photo in the book is tantalizing.

However, these cookies are much more than they seem. They’re brownie-like in the centre surrounded by a shatteringly thin, crisp crust. They’re filled with chopped milk and dark chocolate, plump dried cherries, and cashews. Every bite is a tiny bit different, though equally delicious.

All this and more went into the cookies!The worst thing about these cookies is that you have to wait for about 30 minutes for them to set after coming out of the oven. The best thing about them is that the unbaked cookies freeze well, so I’ve got a bag full of them in the freezer awaiting my next chocolate craving.

So, to wrap everything up in a neat bow, don’t reject a cookie because it doesn’t photograph well. Remember that there is a diversity of experience and belief at every age. And looking ahead, don’t dismiss a senior’s quirks and foibles as a symptom of age. It’s pretty likely they’ve been that way all along and that their life experiences might seem as up-to-date as your own, upon closer examination.

January’s Dorie’s Cookies goodness can be found here and here at Tuesdays with Dorie.