EMOTIONAL EATS

Getting Through Life One Recipe at a Time

Harry Potter’s Favorite Treacle Tart

I’d been having trouble writing. Big transitions can do that. Distractions, adjustments, change. And, in all (though good to very good) recent life modifications – the risk of getting lost in another. The fear of forgetting what I’m about.

To maintain a firm sense of self, it helps me to go back to the basics of the things I like, the things I love.

Back to history.

Back to Harry.

I’ll do both here.

Each time I reread Harry Potter and The Whichever, I am always surprised to find or, perhaps, remember things I had forgotten. As a food blogger and Potter fanatic, I am thrilled by any food reference, of which there are many – Hagrid’s Rock Cakes, Petunia’s Pudding, Dumbledore’s affection for Lemon Drops and one I recently rediscovered – Harry’s favorite – Treacle Tart.

Naturally, I had to know its history. What’s a treacle? How do you make one? What’s so great about it, that it would be the Chosen One’s chosen one?

Here are my findings:

As it turns out, “treacle” is a general term used to describe any syrupy byproduct that is the result of grinding sugar. Perhaps the most famous treacle (and the one I used in my recipe) is Lyle’s Golden Syrup. So let’s start with him.

In 1881, Scotsmans Abram Lyle and his five sons started a sugar refinery business in London. In those days, part of the process was beating the heck out of large mounds of sugar cane rendering a more manageable sugar situation. A byproduct of the sugar smack down was a thick, sweet syrup. An entrepreneurial man, Lyle refined the syrup and sold it, at first to his workers and later, as the product grew in popularity, to England at large. In 1883 Lyle’s Golden Syrup was packaged in its signature tin with Samson’s bee-filled lion as its mascot. Missing the biblical reference? Don’t worry, the whole thing was lost on Samson’s friends and family as well in the Old Testament.

“And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.” Judges 14:14. 

Apparently, Samson killed a lion, some bees made a hive in that lion, and Samson gathered their sweet nectar. Weird, I know…

What’s even weirder is the multitude of “treacle tart” recipes that look nothing alike. Though they all involve some form of “treacle,” that’s about the only common ground. Dried fruits, spices, bread crumbs, lemon, cream, black treacle, corn syrup (an American abomination…I mean interpretation), molasses – the varieties for filling are seemingly endless.

Though, the most commonly referenced and, more importantly, referenced by British cooking authority Heston Blumenthal is the “tart of bread.” In this rendition, a pastry crust is filled with a mixture of treacle (only Lyle’s Golden will do), breadcrumbs, heavy cream, egg, and lemon.

The result? An intensely sweet, crunchy crusted, gooey interior-ed tart that I think Potter would definitely pig out on or at least find some solace in as he does with this treat in Order of the Phoenix.

I hope you will too.

Here’s my recipe:

First get your crust ingredients out. It’s the usual suspects for pie crust with a few razzle-dazzles.

Place the flour, confectioners sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the cold, cubed butter.

Pulse 12 – 15 times until the butter is the size of peas.

Whisk together the egg yolk, cream, and vanilla and add to the dry ingredients. Run the motor until the mixture comes together in a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a generously floured surface and pat into a disc. Wrap with plastic and place in the fridge to chill for an hour.

Once the dough has chilled, roll it out on a floured surface. It should be slightly larger than a 9 inch tart pan.

Press the dough into your tart pan and prick all over with a fork. Blind bake the tart shell by placing a sheet of buttered parchment (butter side down)  in the tart and filling it with pie weights or dried beans. Place in a 375°F oven and bake for 20 minutes until the crust starts to brown.

While the crust is baking, make the filling. Whisk together the golden syrup, bread crumbs, cream, egg, and lemon zest.

After 20 minutes, take the crust out of the oven and remove the parchment and pie weights.  Fill with the treacle filling and return to the oven.

Bake for an additional 30 minutes until the crust is a deep brown color and the filling has set. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Cozy up with your favorite Harry Potter book. Mine is the Sorcerer’s Stone…oh, and The Camber of Secrets. Or is it Prisoner of Azkaban? It’s definitely Goblet of Fire. Unless it’s Order of the Phoenix. I’m pretty sure it’s Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows read simultaneously – one in my hand and one as an audio book. Is it overkill to have the movies in the background?

If you can put your book down for a second, enjoy Harry’s favorite treat. Maybe it’ll become yours too!

Harry's Favorite Treacle Tart

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

For the crust:
1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of butter, cold and cubed
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons of heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

For the filling:
1 cup of Lyle’s Golden Syrup (I bought it on Amazon)
6 tablespoons of plain bread crumbs
3 tablespoons of heavy cream
1 egg
the zest of 1 lemon

Directions: 

To make the crust, place the flour, powdered sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.

Add the cubed butter and pulse 12 – 15 times until the butter is the size of peas.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, heavy cream and vanilla.

With the motor running, drizzle the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix until the dough comes together in a ball.

Turn the dough out on a generously floured surface (dough will be sticky!!) and pat into a disc. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

After the dough has chilled, roll it out so it is slightly larger than a 9 inch tart pan. Ease it into the pan pressing it into the fluted edge. Prick the bottom with a fork. Place a piece of buttered parchment into the tart shell and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake the tart for 20 minutes until it starts to brown.

While the tart shell is baking, make the filling. In a large bowl, whisk together the golden syrup, bread crumbs, heavy cream, egg, and lemon zest. Set aside.

When the shell has baked for 20 minutes, remove it from the oven and discard parchment and pie weights. Fill the shell with the filling and return it to the oven to bake for an additional 30 minutes until the filling is set and the tart is a deep golden brown color.

Let cool slightly before enjoying with your favorite Harry Potter book or all of them. Or the movies. Yes, definitely those.

Avada Kedavra my day’s, week’s plans, am I right? You know where to find me!

My sources:

British Food: A History – Treacle Tart

In Search of Heston – Treacle Tart 

Mochi Muffins

It’s rare – a sweet I’ve never heard of. Something I have to try and haven’t. It doesn’t happen often. I’ve been around the baked good block.

But when I went West to visit someone worth visiting, I kept hearing about the Mochi.

“Like the ice cream?”

No. Not at all.

He described it as a flat, burnt muffin. He said it was chewy and not very sweet, like something went wrong.

I’ll admit, with that description in mind, I wasn’t overly eager to try one; but, I’d take any excuse to sit outside and sip coffee with him.

The little bakery/café was very Berkeley or Oakland…it was very wherever we were. Clean lines, open-air feel, a friendly dude, who deeply embodied dude,  working the register and frothing what I assumed was hemp-seed milk.

And behind the glass – little burnt-looking muffins, sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds for a face lift.

My guy ordered us two strong coffees and two mochis with a wink that said, “Trust me.” Of course. Always.

It took more than one bite for me to get it. But with half the muffin gone, I was sold. The texture unlike anything I’ve munched  before. A crispy outside and dense and chewy inside. Not very sweet but crazy tasty. His description was not inaccurate but definitely didn’t do the little treat justice.

And dipping the little brick into coffee…that’s heaven.

Back East, I find myself day dreaming of those way West weekends. Those little visits that were just the two of us.

Our secrets. Our things. Our shared experiences. Our little table in the sun where we munched mochis and fell in love.

Maybe you’ll fall in love too!

Here’s my recipe:

You’ll just need a few ingredients before you’re well on your way to Mochi-land. Full list below.

Place the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk them together.

Melt together the butter and coconut milk. Add it to the sweetened condensed milk. Whisk until smooth.

Add the eggs one at a time.

Next, add the rice flour, salt, and baking powder.

Add the milk a little at a time, incorporating it completely before adding the next splash.

The batter will be smooth like pancake batter.

Thoroughly butter two muffin tins. The batter will make about 24 mochi. Fill each cup 3/4 of the way. Place the Mochi into a 350°F oven.

Bake for 45 – 55 minutes until the Mochi are golden brown. Let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out on a cooling rack.

Brush a little melted butter on top of each mochi and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Enjoy with hot coffee or tea and DEFINITELY a special someone.


These mochi muffins are hard to describe. They are crispy and dense but also fluffy. They are sweet but not overly so. Just trust me, they’re great.

Mochi Muffins

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon of butter
12 ounces of coconut milk
1 pound of glutinous rice flour (I use Mochiko)
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of milk
black and white sesame seeds, for garnish

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter two muffin pans

In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.

In a small bowl, microwave the coconut milk and 1 stick of butter together until the butter is completely melted.

Add the coconut milk mixture to the sweetened condensed mixture.

Stir in the rice flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the milk a little at a time, stirring after each addition. When the batter is ready, it will be smooth and thin like pancake batter.

Pour the batter into the buttered muffin tins, filling them three quarters of the way.

Place the muffin tins into the preheated oven and bake for 45 – 55 minutes until the mochi are golden brown.

Let cool for 5 – 10 minutes before flipping out of muffin tins. Microwave the additional tablespoon of butter and brush it over top of the muffins. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

EAT!

I recommend you dunk them in coffee or tea – you won’t regret it!

 

 

The Black and White Cookie

During my brief stint as a New Yorker, I became obsessed with the black and white cookie. The delicate crumb and double glaze were only part of the appeal. The rest was my huge (and still thriving) crush on Jerry Seinfeld who made the cookie famous in 1994. In “The Dinner Party,” Jerry munches a black and white while musing about race relations. “If people would only look to the cookie, all our problems would be solved,” Jerry says. As a firm believer that baked goods are the key to happiness and harmony, I get it.

But where did this iconic cookie come from? And more importantly, will I ever meet Jerry Seinfeld?

For now, I can only answer the first question but I’ll keep you in the loop of updates on the second as they come to me.

The cookie’s history – like a lot of food history – is a little unclear.

Some argue it was invented in 1902 at Glaser’s Bake Shop in Yorkville, NY. In a 1998 New York Times article “Look to the Cookie: An Ode to Black and White”  by William Grimes, Herb Glaser of Glaser’s bakery remembers the treat being available in the Bavarian immigrant-owned bakery since it’s inception, 96 years ago. If my calculations are correct, that means today the Black and White cookie is 115 years old. Woof – that’s an old cookie!

Others claim that there exists an equally long cookie lineage that traces back to Hemstrought’s Bakery in Utica. This theory states that the B&W is a descendent of the “half-moon” cookie, one of Hemstrought’s specialities.

While their place of origin is up for debate, almost all cookie scholars seem to agree that they aren’t even cookies…not really. Instead, the black and white cookie is a cake! A drop cake. It makes sense. The batter is wetter than a cookie’s, the texture more moist. I’d classify them as a cross between cake and cookie. Like a…uh…cakie…or some other clever name I haven’t come up with yet.

So there’s the history but what about Jerry’s request? “Look to the cookie.”

Fast forward to 2017 and, if you ask me, I’d classify these as troubled times. I’d argue we have a president determined to divide us rather than unite us. On the news: Mass shootings. Police brutality. Wildfires in California. Sexual harassment. Global warming. North Korea.

Maybe it’s too much to be solved by a cookie but maybe not. I think what Jerry was getting at in line at Royal Bakery, is that we are at our best when we work together, like the vanilla and chocolate frostings. “Black and white. Two races of flavor living side-by-side in harmony. It’s a wonderful thing.” Yes. Harmony. All people, of all sorts, together and moving towards one goal. Wouldn’t that be something?

Are we too far gone? As I sit and eat my cookie down the middle, a little chocolate and a little vanilla coming together, I don’t think so.  Maybe you don’t either.

Here’s my recipe:

These cookies or cakies or whatever you want to call them are super easy and use ingredients you probably already have on hand.

First, cream together the butter and the sugar.

Next add the milk, eggs, vanilla and lemon extract.

Whisk together the dry ingredients then add them, a little at a time, to the wet.

Once the batter is smooth and all the ingredients are combined HARMONIOUSLY, use a 1 1/2-inch scoop to portion the dough. Make sure the cookies are 2 inches apart so they don’t run into each other when baking.

Bake for 18 minutes until lightly golden.

To make the glazes, whisk all ingredients for vanilla glaze in one bowl and all ingredients for chocolate glaze in another bowl. Put the cookies on a rack above parchment and glaze as you see above.

Let the glaze set for 20 minutes.

Isn’t it great? Two different flavors coming together to make a whole that is beautiful and tasty. Look to the cookie indeed!

The Black and White Cookie

  • Difficulty: easy
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Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups of granulated sugar
2 sticks of butter, softened
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of lemon extract
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups of cake flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt 

For the vanilla icing:
1 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon of light corn syrup
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
2 – 3 tablespoons of water

For the chocolate icing:
1 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon of light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
3 – 4 tablespoons of water
1/4 cup of cocoa powder

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Measure out all of the cookie dough ingredients.

In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and lemon extract. Mix until smooth.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the dry to the wet in small batches. Mix until all the dry is incorporated and the batter is smooth.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, portion out the dough onto cookie trays leaving 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes.

While the cookies are cooling make the frostings.

For each individual frosting, place all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until you have two smooth, spreadable, frostings.

Once the cookies have cooled completely, glaze one half in vanilla and the other with the chocolate.

Let the icing set for 20 minutes. Enjoy!

My research:

“The Black-and-White Cookie’s Curious History.” By Robert Sietsema – Eater.

“Look to the Cookie: An Ode to Black and White.” By William Grimes – New York Times. 

San Francisco Cinnamon-Sugar Crepes

It was a particularly fine weekend. A blue-skied getaway. A long drive with him. The him-him.

My eyes widened as we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, taking in every inch of gleaming red. My heart filled as we walked hand-in-hand down the pier, sea lions posing for pictures to our right, endless pristine bay to our left and mountains all around. My cheeks hurt from laughing when we ventured to Japantown to find sushi and couldn’t.

Each minute more perfect than the last. Each memory a new favorite.

To top off our daylong date we decided on crepes. The smell caught us from across a courtyard of tourists and street performers.

As we stood in line in the cozy little shop, we decided to split one and considered the options – simple to complex.

Cinnamon-Sugar? Nutella Explosion? S’more Supreme? Strawberry and Cream?

Reading each other’s mind, as we sometimes do, we agreed. Cinnamon-Sugar. Simple it is.

And simple it always seems to be. He and I, me and him – in that crepe munching moment – that was all that mattered – one weekend in San Francisco.

Just a few ingredients and you are well on your way to Crepetown, USA.

Put all your ingredients in a blender. Pulse 10 times until the batter is smooth.

Store in an airtight container and chill for one hour.

When you are ready to fry, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium flame. Pour in about a quarter cup of batter. Lift the pan and swirl the batter in a circular motion until evenly spread. When the crepe batter is mostly set (this will take about two minutes) add three slivers of butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mix. Let butter melt.

When the butter is melted and bubbly and the cinnamon-sugar mix is partially dissolved, fold the crepe in half.

And fold in half one more time.

Eat!

Is my mouth really that big?

San Francisco Cinnamon-Sugar Crepes

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
1 cup of flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of water
3/4 cup of whole milk
2 eggs
3 tablespoons of melted butter, cooled

extra butter for crepe slathering
1/4 cup of sugar + 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (makes extra)

Directions: 

Place flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs, water, milk, and melted butter in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Refrigerate the batter for one hour.

When you are ready to cook crepes, heat a large non-stick skillet over medium flame. Pour 1/4 cup of batter in the pan and swirl it around until it is evenly distributed.

Cook for two minutes.

When the crepe starts to set, add additional butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.

Fold crepe in half, then in half again.

Serve immediately with a dusting of powdered sugar.

Scones Revisited

We still gather once a week.

We are still Social Scones strong.

It’s been over a year and a lot has changed. We’ve lost a few (not naming names) and gained others. We’ve changed jobs, acquired boyfriends, grown yet stayed the same. We are still called every Thursday for tea, talking, and treats. We assemble.

And it is still my favorite weekly tradition.

As our group has expanded, so have our flavors. The humble plain, chocolate chip, and blueberry no longer cut it. Now you’ll find almond paste, cranberry orange, and my two offerings for today – Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and White Chocolate Cherry.

So, again, this one is for the girls (and guys!) that make Thursday mornings so special.

Oh hey! There we are! And there’s me! And there are guys! My guy! Oh! And Callie, our host! Check out that pile of scones. Not bad!

Moving on…

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones

Click here to get the recipe for my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones

White Chocolate Cherry Scones

Click here for my White Chocolate Cherry Scone Recipe

Want a morning tradition of your own? Need a scone? Let me know! I deliver in the DC metro area. Email me for pricing!

White Chocolate Cherry Scones

My basic Social Scone dough is given the old razzle-dazzle with the addition of white chocolate and dried cherries.

Mix together the dry ingredients. Add the grated butter.

Rub the butter and dry ingredients together with your fingers until the mixture is sandy.

Whisk together the egg and the heavy cream. Add to the dry ingredients. Incorporate using a spatula.

When the dough comes together, transfer dough to a generously floured surface. Roll it out to a large oval that is 1/4 an inch in thickness. Place half the dried cherries and half the white chocolate on one half of the dough. Fold the other side over, covering the chocolate and cherries.

Roll the dough out again and repeat with the remaining cherries and chocolate.

Work the dough into a circle and then cut into eight triangles.


Place the triangles on a cookie tray lined with parchment and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove from freezer and brush with heavy cream. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 15 – 18 minutes until lightly browned.

Serve immediately.

Hell yeah! Look at those scones!

White Chocolate Cherry Scones

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, frozen and grated (I freeze over night)
1/2 cup of heavy cream (additional for brushing)
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 cup of dried cherries
1/4 cup of white chocolate chips
turbinado sugar (for sprinkling)

Directions:

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Add the frozen grated butter and toss in the dry ingredients to coat. Once the butter is coated, rub the butter into the flour with your fingers.

Whisk together the egg, cream, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a spoon until it just comes together. If the dough seems a bit dry, add a little heavy cream. If the dough seems sticky, add a little flour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll the dough out to a large oval that is 1/4 an inch in thickness. Place half the dried cherries and half the white chocolate on one half of the dough. Fold the other side over, covering the chocolate and cherries.

Pat the dough into a circle and cut the circle into eight triangles.

Place the triangles on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Remove the scones from the freezer.  Using a pastry brush or your fingers, apply a thin layer of heavy cream to the top of each scone and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Transfer the scones to the oven and bake for 15 – 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The scones are finished baking when they are puffed and golden.

Let cool slightly and serve!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones

This scone recipe is a twist on my classic Social Scones. The addition of oatmeal makes it hearty and the cinnamon gives a warmth perfect for a rainy day with a cup of tea and a good book. Make some today!

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and oats.

Add grated butter and work into mixture with your hands, rubbing butter and dry ingredients together until the mixture looks sandy.

Whisk together the heavy cream and the egg. Pour over the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to incorporate the cream. The dough will be very sticky.

Work the dough until it comes together to form a ball. Turn out onto a generously floured surface.

Roll to 1/4 an inch in thickness. Place half of the chocolate chips on one half of the dough and fold the other half on top. Roll the dough out again and repeat the process with the remaining chocolate chips. Work the dough into a round shape.

Cut the dough round into eight triangles. Place on a cookie tray lined with parchment and transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove scones from freezer and brush with additional heavy cream.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 – 18 minutes. While the scones bake, make the glaze.

Whisk together heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar until you get a thick but pourable glaze.

Once the scones have baked, remove them from the oven and let cool slightly. Drizzle with glaze and serve.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of quick cooking oats
1 stick of unsalted butter, grated (easier to do with frozen butter)
1/2 cup of heavy cream (plus extra for brushing)
1 egg
1/2 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips

For the Glaze:
1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar
2 – 3 tablespoons of heavy cream

Directions: 

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, oatmeal, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.

Add the frozen grated butter and toss in the dry ingredients to coat. Once the butter is coated, rub the butter into the flour with your fingers.

Whisk together the egg and the cream. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a spoon until it just comes together. If the dough seems a bit dry, add a little heavy cream. If the dough seems sticky, add a little flour.

Roll the dough out onto a floured surface. Pat the dough into a round and cut the round into eight triangles.

Place the triangles on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Remove the scones from the freezer.  Using a pastry brush or your fingers, apply a thin layer of heavy cream to the top of each scone.

Place the scones in the oven and bake for 15 – 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The scones are finished baking when they are puffed and golden.

While the scones are cooling, make the glaze. Whisk together heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar until it makes a thick but pourable glaze.
Drizzle glaze over scones and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Rainbow Cookies

The rainbow cookie’s background is as difficult to trace as the cookie itself is to resist (I just ate six). While some believe the cookie was first invented in Italy and brought to New York, others maintain it is the product of Italian immigrants already in America in the  early 1900s, thus making it an Italian-AMERICAN invention. This more popular version of the story states that Italian immigrants missing home designed a cookie to resemble the Italian flag – green, white, red – makes sense. In addition to having a boatload of vague and difficult to confirm origin stories, the cookie has just as many names. The Rainbow Cookie, The Seven Layer Cookie, The Venetian, The Neapolitan, the list goes on.

Living in New York, frequenting Jewish delis and bagel shops, I had only ever heard it called the rainbow cookie and had wrongfully assumed it was a Jewish creation. As the cookie is usually wedged between hamentashen and rugelah in the display case, it is an easy mistake to make. So how did the rainbow cookie, an Italian cookie, find itself in Jewish company? Again, we are working in the world of guesswork; but, one idea is that the cultural treat transfer is simply the result of proximity. Jewish immigrants and Italian immigrants living in New York were often neighbors with neighboring businesses (bakeries) – again – makes sense.

Although my research left me disappointed by lack of a clearcut origin story, one thing agreed upon across the board is that they are a celebration cookie. Christmas, birthdays, housewarming gifts, new babies, anniversaries – these bright bites are often found on tables of joyous occasions.

Let’s review what we know.  We know they were invented sometime in the early 1900s, probably by Italian immigrants living in America. We know that they are often given as gifts and present at celebrations of Italian-American families. And finally, I know, and I hope you are about to discover, that they are delicious. I mean really delicious.

Here’s my recipe:

Measure out all ingredients – but you know that already.

Cream together butter, almond paste, and sugar being careful to break up all the almond paste. Add the egg yolks and almond extract.

Add the flour.

The dough will resemble sugar cookie dough. It will be thick and sticky.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on high until they form stiff peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the batter a little at a time. Be careful not to deflate them.

Divide the cookie dough into three equal portions and dye one bowl green and another red.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 9×13 inch cookie sheets, line them with parchment paper and then grease the parchment. Spread each color onto its own cookie tray. Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes until lightly browned around the edges.

Let each layer cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the red and white layers from their pans and transfer to cooling wracks to cool completely. Leave the green layer in its pan to cool completely. Once cool, slather the green layer with apricot jam. Slide the white layer on top of the green and press down lightly. Remove the parchment from the top of the white layer and cover it with apricot jam. Place the red layer on top. Wrap the entire thing in plastic wrap. Place a cutting board or cookie tray on top, weigh down with heavy plates or cans, and place in the refrigerator to press for eight hours or overnight.

Once the cookie has set, trim the edges to make clean lines.

Cover the top with melted chocolate and use a fork to make the wave pattern. Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Once the chocolate has set, flip the cookie and repeat the chocolate process. Place in the fridge to chill for another 30 minutes.

Cut that big cookie into cute little squares, about 1×1 inches.

There you have it – The Rainbow Cookie. I hope you’ll bring some to your next event and if someone asks, “What the hell is this?” you can tell them…kinda!

Rainbow Cookies

  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients: 
One 7 ounce tube of almond paste
2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
1 cup of granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon of almond extract
2 cups of all purpose flour
red food coloring
green food coloring
1/2 cup of apricot jam
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream together the almond paste, butter, and granulated sugar.

Beat in the egg yolks and almond extract.

Add the flour and mix until just combined.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form.

Carefully fold the egg whites into the cookie dough a little bit at a time.

Once the egg whites are incorporated, divide the batter into three bowls. Using the food color, turn one bowl of batter green and another red. Leave one bowl uncolored.

Grease three 9×13 inch cookie trays. Line each with parchment paper and grease them again. Pour each batter into a separate tray and place the trays in the preheated oven.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes.

Let each layer cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the red and white layers from their pans and transfer to cooling racks to cool completely. Leave the green layer in its pan to cool completely.

Once cool, slather the green layer with apricot jam. Slide the white layer on top of the green and press down lightly. Remove the parchment from the top of the white layer and cover it with apricot jam. Place the red layer on top.

Wrap the entire thing in plastic wrap. Place a cutting board or cookie tray on top, weigh down with heavy plates or cans, and place in the refrigerator to set for eight hours or overnight.

After chilling, remove the cookies from pan and trim for a clean edge.

Melt the cup of chocolate chips and slather half of it across the top of the cookies. Use a fork and make small waves in the chocolate to create a pattern.

Place the cookies in the fridge so the chocolate can set. This will take 10 – 20 minutes.

Once the chocolate is set, flip the cookie over and repeat the chocolate process on the other side.

Return to the fridge to set again.

When you are ready to serve, cut the rainbow cookies into 1×1 inch squares.

They will keep for one week in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

 

Lala’s Sweet Potato Cake

In high school, my brother’s girlfriend Lala was like the older sister I never had, never knew I wanted, but was so happy to find.

As we’ve grown our relationship has changed. Big sister/little sister. Peers. Best Friends. And sometimes something resembling employer/employee (I say that lovingly, of course). However, the one dynamic that hasn’t changed is the eater/feeder status.

I bake. Lala eats.

Years ago for her birthday, I brought her a huge Sweet Potato Cake from the bakery where I worked. Late into the evening, we sat at her kitchen table plunging our forks deep into this behemoth. We ate, we laughed and we ate some more. We munched so much that we had to crawl on all fours to her living room where we laid on the couch rubbing our bloated bellies.

I remember feeling warm and fuzzy in a way that only best friends and cake can accomplish.

Happy to be with Lala and share a slice (a couple of slices) of nicely spiced cake with velvety cream cheese frosting.

I hope you’ll make some for the Lala in your life too.

I know that you know that you need to measure out all your ingredients.

Cream together brown sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.

Add mashed sweet potato and crushed pineapple with juice.

Stir in dry ingredients.

Place in a 9×13 inch cake pan that has been greased and lined with parchment.

Bake at 350°F for 30 – 35 minutes until lightly browned around the edges and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.

While the cake cools, make the frosting. Cream butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar. Add vanilla. Blend with a hand mixer or stand mixer until smooth.

Spread cream cheese frosting over cooled cake.

Decorate with pecans.

Eat!

Lala's Sweet Potato Cake

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of mashed sweet potatoes (about 2 large)*
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1 rounded teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of butter, at room temperature
1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 large eggs
1 (8oz) can of crushed pineapple

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese, room temperature
4 cups of confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13 inch baking dish. Line the dish with parchment and grease the parchment.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time.

Add the vanilla.

Add the mashed sweet potatoes* and pineapple with juice and beat with a hand mixer until combined.

Mix in the dry mixture until just combined.

Pour into the 9×13 inch baking dish.

Place in the preheated oven.

Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until browned around the edges and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing.

Frost the cake and decorate as you desire! I used pecans for natural flare!

Notes –

To make the sweet potatoes, wash and dry your potatoes, leaving the skin on. Prick them with a fork and microwave for 10 minutes, rotating them at the five minute mark. Scrape the meat out of the skins and mash it with a fork. Measure out 1 1/2 cups and allow to cool. You may have extra (eat it).

BG’s Cinnamon Roll Cake

When my guy and I started dating, I gave him the name BG. Initially, it stood for “Big Guy” on account of his towering stature; but, the longer we dated the more I learned about him and the more I liked him, the initials stayed the same but their meaning changed.

The closer we became, the more secrets he revealed, the insight into his quirks and hidden habits made him endlessly endearing in my eyes.

Maybe it’s strange; but, one thing I liked best in those early days of dating was his confessed and demonstrated love of cinnamon buns with extra frosting. As if those mall-made sugar-bomb buns weren’t sweet enough, my normally health conscious guy would throw caution to the wind and treat himself to double glaze.

I wasn’t even aware you could get extra icing without signing a waiver and acknowledging the risk of sugar overload.

Soon “Big Guy” became “Best Guy,” so for his birthday I had to do something special and make his favorite – a cinnamon roll cake with plenty of cream cheese frosting to go around.

The cinnamon roll is light and fluffy and too easy to make. I add cloves to the filling for a little extra something. And, the frosting is my classic decadent cream cheese made melty when slathered on a still-warm mega-bun.

It’s perfect and sweet and easy to love, just like my BG. I’m not blushing – you are!

Homemade cinnamon roll dough might seem intimidating but it isn’t! All you need is some flour (separated), sugar, yeast, salt, milk, butter, an egg and a can-do attitude!

To make the dough-

  1. Place 2 1/4 cups of the flour in a bowl with the salt, sugar, and yeast. Mix together.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the butter and the milk until the butter is melted and the milk is 115°F – no higher! Add the milk to the flour and mix to combine.
  3. Add the egg.
  4. Add the the reserved flour a little at a time until the dough comes together and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Place the dough on a heavily floured surface and knead a few times until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has risen, get ready to assemble. Make the filling by mixing 1/4 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves. Grease a 9-in pie plate. Soften some butter.

Roll the dough out into something that looks vaguely like a rectangle and is close to 12×15-in. Just do your best. Smear with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Cut into 2-ish inch strips.

Start coiling the strips in the greased pie pan, starting in the center and working your way out. Sprinkle with any additional cinnamon-sugar that might have lost its way.

Cover the dough with plastic and set aside for 90 minutes to rise.

Bake in a 350°F oven for 30 – 35 minutes until browned.

While the cake is baking, make the cream cheese smear. Place butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl. Cream until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the milk and vanilla.

Let the roll cool slightly before slathering with cream cheese frosting.

My guy always likes extra frosting, so I made a double batch – you could too.

Cut that roll like a cake and eat it warm or at room temp.

Eat once slice and then eat another. For good measure, eat one more.

BG's Cinnamon Roll Cake

  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients:
2 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 package of active dry yeast (2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
3/4 cup of milk
3 tablespoons of butter
1 large egg

Filling:
3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

Icing:
8 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick of butter
2 cups of powdered sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 – 3 tablespoons of milk

Directions:

To make the dough, mix together 2 1/4 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter over low flame until the butter is melted and the milk is 115°F – no higher.

Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and mix to incorporate.

Mix in the egg.

Take the remaining 1/2 cup of flour and add it slowly, a tablespoon at a time, working it in until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You may not need it all, I used about 1/3 of the reserved flour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 2 – 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place it in a lightly greased bowl and set aside to rise for 30 minutes.

While the dough is rising make the filling by combining the sugar, cinnamon, and cloves.

Once the dough has rested for 30 minutes, roll it out to a 12×15 inch rectangle. Smear with  3 tablespoons of softened butter and sprinkle with the sugar and spice mix.

Cut the dough into 2 inch wide strips.

Roll the first strip up into a little cylinder and place it in the center of a 9 inch pie place that has been greased. Working from the inside out, wrap the rest of the strips around the initial cylinder until you reach the edge of the pie plate.

Cover the dough in plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes the dough should have doubled in size. Place in a 350°F oven and bake for 30 – 35 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

While the cake is baking, you can make the frosting.

Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a large bowl until combined. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk and mix until smooth.

Cover the cake with the frosting (even if the cake is still a little warm) and serve immediately!

Enjoy!

 

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