If I had to name one of the most influential people in my baking life, it would be Alice Medrich. Before her I didn’t know how to cook, let alone bake something edible. So when I had the chance to meet and interview her, I was afraid I came off as a creepy fan girl when I gushed about how instrumental she was in changing my life.
Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts would have been a great book for me to start my baking journey. Baking is all about precision and technique and the recipes here are more forgiving for those who are more carefree in their cooking style. If you’re a more experienced baker, don’t let the title put you off from buying it. It’s not just about composing different ingredients together, the book dives into more complicated recipes like souffles and tarts.
Note: You have a chance to win a copy of this book!
I’ve picked up snowboarding now that I live so close to the mountains. Being a beginner means a lot of falling and unfortunately I took a particularly bad fall the most embarrassing way possible…
I hurt myself falling off of the chairlift.
With 3 out of 4 tendons of my rotator cuff injured, I was given the bad news of not snowboarding again until I healed up.
This disappointing information required a hefty dose of chocolate. I chose Robert’s Brownies My Way by Alice Medrich
because she uses the phrase “densely creamy and intensely bittersweet”. I didn’t find them intensely bittersweet, but these brownies are lightly sweetened and they are fudgy to a point where you think they haven’t been baked long enough. As long as the toothpick comes out mostly clean, you’re in the clear.
This is one heck of a cookie. It’s an intense chocolate, crisp exterior and when your teeth sink down into it, it turns into a rich fudge. Magical.
I made these during my true Nervous Chef days when I was setting off the smoke alarms. Somehow I didn’t screw these up. Surprising, as meringues have been failing me as of late.
You need good chocolate (aim for something you would eat on its own, quality matters here), sugar, pecans and egg whites. Everything comes together quickly, so when the oven is done preheating your cookies are ready to go in.
Most of my cookies look a little more rough than the ones I’ve seen on the web. I’m not sure the reason why. Maybe not enough mixing?
Melting Chocolate Meringues (makes about 30 2-inch cookies) From Bittersweet
4 1/2 ounces 70% chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 large egg whites (1/4 cup), room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, I think toasted hazelnuts would work well too)
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Melt chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. I make a make-shift double boiler by placing the bowl on top of a saucepan filled with simmering water. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and vanilla. When soft peaks form, slowly add the sugar until you get stiff peaks. Be careful not to beat too long or they’ll be dry.
4. Mix up the chocolate and nuts into the egg whites and fold with a rubber spatula until the colour is uniform.
5. Drop tablespoons of batter 1 inch apart onto the cookie sheet.
6. Bake 8-10 minutes. Cookies should look dry and have a bit of give to them when pressed on. They’ll still be gooey inside. Cool completely.
You don’t need to have a camp fire to make these s’mores-like bars.
It’s all pretty simple, making it a perfect recipe for the trepidatious baker. You mix up a few ingredients and bake until the marshmallows are a wonderful gooey mess. These have been described as “crack” by a few people, so use at your own risk.
I collect cookie cutters. I love the different shapes and the way they can make an ordinary cookie look fantastic. The weird part about my cookie cutter collection? I don’t like using them. They’re generally too fussy to make: letting the dough chill, rolling it out, chilling it again…I’m more of a drop cookie kind of girl.
I turned to Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy for a recipe. The recipe makes a huge batch, but the cookie cutters are huge so it produced about 18 cookies. I used vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract. It’s worth the splurge if you’re looking to wow others.
To prevent the dough from sticking to the cutter, lightly dip the cookie cutter in flour first. You want to press firm, but not too deeply to get a good impression onto the cookie. Usually I like to roll my dough thicker than called for to make soft cookies, but if you do that here, the wording gets all marred. It should be rolled out to 1/8″.
Along with the cookies I decided to try my hand at a red velvet cake from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. People rave about red velvet. I find it a bit scary with all that red food colouring. What used to be a natural chemical reaction with an acid reacting to the cocoa powder has turned into how much red dye #47 we can shove into a cake. Despite the scary almost neon colour, it received rave reviews. Scary colour aside, it was moist and the cream cheese frosting didn’t feel heavy.
Recipe for red velvet cake from Heavenly Cakes can be found here.