The origins of this cookie started with a recipe I fell in love with from Carol Walter’s Great Cookies book. It’s her Cornmeal/Cardamon Biscotti recipe which in turn was given to her by Sam DeMarco. So it goes with recipes. It is one of the best biscotti recipes I’ve tasted although I did significantly cut the cardamon so it is a whisper not a roar. Around the time that I made the biscotti I tasted a thumbprint cookie that someone had filled with orange marmalade. I thought the cornmeal/cardamom biscotti dough might make a nice little vehicle to house the orange marmalade.
I scaled all the ingredients to grams, which is much more accurate. I eliminated the raisins, thinking that the marmalade would be sweet enough. I altered the baking time since it’s a thumbprint cookie, not a biscotti. I believe it maintains the delicate crisp texture that drew me to the original biscotti recipe that inspired this variation on a theme of cardamon, cornmeal and almonds. I’m tempted to add a little sweet and or bitter almond oil to boost that flavor. If someone tries that please let me know how you like it.
185 grams AP flour (1 1/2 cups spooned in and leveled)
75 grams cornmeal ( 1/2 cup spooned in and leveled)
2 tsp double acting baking powder
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
143 grams slivered almonds (1 cup)
grams superfine sugar (3/4 cup)
114 grams whole eggs (about two large eggs)
113 grams unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
227 grams good quality Seville orange marmalade (1/2 cup)
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Spoon the marmalade into a small disposable pastry bag and cut off the tip, creating an opening large enough to let the peel slip through. You can also do this with the tip of a spoon. I like to put my pastry bag in a glass or other vessel. It’s easier to fill.
Toast the nuts for about 5 minutes. They should be just taking on some color. Cool.
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, cardamom, salt and baking powder.
Grind the almonds and 1/4 cup of sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until finely ground.
Beat together the remaining sugar with the softened butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time.
Add flour mixture.
Add almonds by hand
Scoop a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Space cookies about 1″ apart.
Indent the middle of each cookie with the rounded handle of a spoon, or pastry brush. I go all the way to the bottom, but not piercing the bottom.
Bake cookies for about 7 minutes. Pull them out and re indent them with the same handle. I like to make the cavities a bit bigger to maximize the amount of marmalade I can put in them. Just be careful not to crack the sides. fill them to the top with the marmalade.
Place back in oven and bake for another 10 minutes or so until the tops are very lightly colored. If they get too brown they’re not as pretty. Dust with powdered sugar if you like but remove the powdered sugar from the marmalade with a damp pastry brush.
The only other cannoli I’ve had that rivals my grandmother Natalie’s was from a now extinct pastry shop in Chicago called La Pasticeria Natalina, which was owned by a talented young pastry chef called Natalie Zazour. Interesting that the two Natalies made the best cannoli I’ve had in this country. Daniel and I are going to Sicily this fall to celebrate his graduation from college so I’ll keep you posted about the cannoli in Sicily. Zazour’s cannoli were different than mine, made with imported sheeps milk Ricotta, dark chocolate chips and a strip of candied orange. They were lovely and I’ve tried them with my family but I always return to Grandma Nat’s, at their insistence.
The first key to good cannoli is to fill them to order, So, if you see pre filled cannoli in the refrigerator case at a bakery, walk away.
The second key to good cannoli is the shell, which must be light and crisp in order to contrast with the creamy filling. That is why you can’t pre fill them. Every minute they sit in the refrigerator they soften from the moisture of the filling and the inherent moisture in the refrigerator case or your refrigerator at home. You can fill them really fast with a pastry bag, so it barely saves time if you pre fill them and stick them in the fridge. And no, don’t fill and freeze them. Just don’t. This recipe makes about 40 shells. Grandma Nat used to keep them in a shoe box on the top landing of her two flat. The staircase to her apartment wasn’t heated so the shells kept well in the dry chill of that space. Hers lasted about 6 months.
The third key to a good cannoli is a filling that is light and creamy and has the unique taste particular to ricotta. Whether you use sheep’s milk ricotta or cows milk, make sure it’s whole milk and it’s creamy. If it’s grainy, you’ll never be able to eliminate that grainy texture even if you work it through a fine mesh sieve or tami. If you live in or around New Jersey, I would recommend trying sheep’s milk ricotta. You can order imported sheep’s milk Ricotta from Pastacheese.com. I love it but it’s too expensive for me to get it shipped to me from New Jersey. When you shop for ricotta insist on tasting it. It should be smooth and creamy, tasting of fresh milk. My grandmother has a technique for lightening the ricotta that I’ve never seen elsewhere: she makes a biancomangiare, which is cornstarch pudding, with whole milk. It lightens the filling without adding richness or a competing flavor. I love mascarpone and I know those who use it for cannoli but in my opinion, it’s too rich and its flavor overpowers the ricotta. Some use whipped cream. It’s not traditional and not very stable and once again, you want your filling to taste like fresh milk, not cream. It would be worth trying to mix Italian Meringue into the ricotta instead of the biancomangiare. You’d have to reduce or eliminate the powdered sugar but the Italian Meringue might lighten the ricotta without affecting the flavor and would be more stable than the biancomangiare. I don’t know how it would affect the texture. However, for the home cook, the biancomangiare will be easier, and my family has forbidden me from altering the recipe. So, if you try Italian meringue let me know!
So, I offer you Grandma Nat’s cannoli and I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
INGREDIENTS FOR SHELLS (makes about 35 shells)
260 grams (two cups) all purpose flour (bleached will give you a more delicate shell)
1/2 cup white wine (you can use red wine if you prefer a dark shell. However, I think it makes it more difficult to determine when the shells are browned properly)
2 gallons of canola oil
1 egg white, whisked until loose up enough to brush it on with a pastry brush or your finger.
DIRECTIONS FOR SHELLS
Place dry ingredients in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a few times to mix ingredients. Cut lard into a few pieces and add to the flour. Pulse until well incorporated. There should be no visible pieces and the flour should look a little crumbly. you can do this by hand in which case I would advise rubbing the lard in between your thumb and forefinger and then going back and rubbing it between the palms of your hands. Now, some suggest melting the lard and mixing it into the flour. I’ve tried that and didn’t like the result. I found that it made the shells too dense.
Mix yolks and wine in a small bowl. With the machine running, add to flour and pulse just until the dough forms a ball.
Remove dough from food processor and knead until dough is supple and smooth, about 5 minutes.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
You can roll the dough by hand with a straight rolling pin. It should be rolled until thin enough so you can just see the pattern of the surface below it, whether it’s granite, marble or wood. However, if you have a lasagna attachment for your stand mixer, it’s so much easier. I use the lasagna attachment for my Kitchen aid and roll the dough to #4. You need to start at 1, then 2, then 3, then 4. I actually roll it through#4 two times.
Cut 4″ squares of dough. I use a cookie cutter with a wavy edge. You could also cut a template of cardboard and cut the squares with a pie dough cutter/crimper Save your scraps. You must re roll them several times to get the number of shells called for in the recipe. At the end, you should be left with very little dough. ￼￼
For the first shells, I like to oil the forms. It helps the first batch slip off easier. Thereafter it’s not necessary because some oil always sticks to the forms when you pull them out of the fryer. Place a square of dough diagonally under a cannoli form with the form parallel to you. So, it will look like a diamond shaped piece of dough with the form going across the center. Place a dab of egg white on the tip of the diamond shape, closet to you. Fold the the edge furthest from you up,over the form, towards you. Hold it in place while you fold the other edge over it. Press down to seal the dough. Set it aside and do the others. Don’t make them too tight or you won’t be able to get the shells off the forms.
Heat the oil to 375 F and fry about three or four at a time until golden brown. My son Daniel does the frying and he likes to use a metal skewer to pick up the forms and place them on paper towels. It helps to have two people, one to fry and one to place the dough on the forms. If you are doing this alone, I would suggest rolling and cutting the dough and then covering the dough with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Then, you can wrap the dough around as many cannoli forms as you can fry in a batch. I have a small fryer so I can o Lyndon three at a time.
Let shells cool on the towels until you can pick them up and slide them off the forms. The forms will release their grip on the metal form as they cool so if a shell is sticking, give it a few more minutes to see if you can slide it off. there is a technique to taking off these shells. I like to place my whole hand on the shell and apply gentle pressure while twisting and pulling. If you’re having trouble get it getting the shells off the forms, you may be placing the dough on too tight. The shells should be completely cool before you fill them.
INGREDIENTS FOR FILLING
1 lb whole milk ricotta weighed then drained
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup citron
1/2 cup (3oz) hazelnut chocolate, preferably Lindt
1 drop cassia oil
DIRECTIONS FOR FILLING
Wisk together cornstarch and sugar
Add milk a little at a time, wisking until smooth
Place milk in a pot and cook over a medium flame until boiling. After it comes to a boil, wisk until,smooth and let it boil another minute.
Remove from heat and put the pudding through a fine mesh sieve.
Cover with plastic wrap making sure the plastic touches the top of the pudding so that it doesn’t form a skin. Chill until cold. This can be done 24 hours in advance.
Push ricotta through a fine mesh sieve with a spoon, spatula or plastic scraper. The wider the surface area you have in the sieve the easier it will be. If you have a tami, use that with a fine mesh screen.
Stir biancomangiare into ricotta. Don’t be tempted to use your food processor. You’ll over process it and end up with a loose cream. Not what we’re looking for. You can use a stand mixer with your paddle attachment set on low.
Finely dice citron and coarsley chop the chocolate. Add both to ricotta. Chill until it’s time to fill the shells. This step can be done the morning of service.
Use a round or open star pastry tip with a fairly large opening. The size of the tip depends the size of your chocolate and citron bits. You need the pieces to get through the tip. Pipe the cannoli filling into a pastry bag and fill one end of the cannoli to the middle and then the other end. Dip both end in chopped pistachios and dust the shells with powdered sugar. Serve within the hour.
Daniel and I did go to Sicily in October 2019. It’s such a lovely country and we had a fabulous time. The Sicilians we met were warm and friendly and very proud of their country and culture. Its history is fascinating. It’s a country that was invaded frequently and each time, the Sicilians blended some of the newcomers culture with their own, creating a civilization that is rich and varied.
However, having eaten cannoli in Palermo, Cefalu, Agrigento, Noto, Siracusa and Taormina we only found two places that rivaled my grandmothers: Cafe de Sicilia in Noto and Roberto’s in Taormina. The cannoli at Cafe de Sicilia used sheep’s milk ricotta with no embellishments. We found them a bit plain and wished for a bit of candied orange peel to make them more interesting. The cannoli at Roberto’s also used sheep’s milk ricotta but dipped the ends in candied hazelnuts. I would recommend both places.
Sicily is equally famous for its granita. If you go to Cafe Sicilia, be sure to try their almond or lemon granita, both of which are amazing. If you are in Taormina, go to Roberto’s but don’t miss Bam Bar for fabulous granita. Daniel and I fell in love with the combination of strawberry granita with almond granita topped with whipped cream.
I’m really not a gadget person. I don’t have a lot of pots and pans or electronics. I’m not very technical. That being said, I do have a sous vide and I love it for steaks, chops that need to be tenderized, shrimp and lobster tails.
And now, curds. The texture of a curd made in a sous vide has a silky quality that is difficult if not impossible to achieve on a stove top. You do have to wait. It takes an hour to cook as opposed to 15-20 minutes in a heavy pot or a Bain Marie. I think the texture is worth the wait. The original recipe was on the Chef Steps website and was for a lemon curd which is just as amazing. I substituted Yuzu and I altered the way the ingredients are processed before being cooked. In my eyes, that gives me bragging rights.
You can fill little tarts with this curd, layer it between sponge cake, serve it with fresh fruit, make a pavlova or stand at the kitchen counter and eat it with a spoon.
The following recipe makes about six 3″ tarts or one 9″ tart
INGREDIENTS FOR YUZU CURD
175 grams sugar
75 grams of first press Yuzu juice
75 grams Yakimi Orchard Yuzu puree
200 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled but still liquid
129 grams egg yolk (about 8)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon asorbic acid (you can usually get this wherever they sell preserving supplies)
pinch of salt
DIRECTIONS FOR YUZU CURD
Set your sous vide circulator to 167 degrees
Mix sugar, butter, salt, and asorbic acid together. Wisk into egg yolks
Place mixture in a plastic zip lock bag and slowly lower the bag into the water with the top open until the water reaches the bottom of the ziplock mechanism. Be careful not to get water in the bag. Slowly zip up the bag and let it drop into the water.
Cook for 60 minutes
Empty contents of bag into a high sided bowl and use an immersion blender to mix the mixture for 1 minute. It will lighten in co,or and become homogeneous.
Place curd in a container. Rap it on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles or you can pulse a blow torch briefly across the top and that will do the same thing.
Lay some plastic wrap right on top of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Chill a few hours until it’s cold and firm.
Use your favorite or try the one I have posted on this blog
INGREDIENTS FOR TART
2 pints raspberries
2 mangos, preferably Champaigne Mangos, cubed small ( they should yield to slight pressure and the skin should be tight and smooth and yellow for the Champagne mangos)
tart glaze ( use the one I have on the blog or your favorite.
DIRECTIONS FOR TART
Fill your tart/tartlettes with the curd leaving yourself 1/8″ rim. This allows the glaze somewhere to go other than down the sides of your crust. I like using a piping bag with an 808 tip or just cut the end off the bag.
Place a perimeter of raspberries around the outer edge
Fill the center of the raspberries with the cubes of mango
Glaze lightly, making sure you cover the fruit as well as the cream. You can test the glaze by heating it u til it’s a liquid consistency and painting a spare raspberry with a brush dipped in glaze. If it pearls up or dries gloppy, thin your glaze with water. You want the glaze to just stick to the fruit.
for the 9″ tart, I used one pint of Strawberries and about three Champagne mangos. Cut the mango off the center seed, lengthwise in two cheek. Then, peel off the skin with a very sharp paring knife. Next, cut each half lengthwise in very thin slices. The thinner the slices, the more flexible they will be and the more rose like. The rest you can infer from the picture.
This is quite a lovely recipe a version, of which was originally printed in The NY Times with the title “Plum Torte” and is deserving of all its devoted followers. It’s very like a cake my Sicilian grandmother used to make with apples. I made it last week and again this week. I’m obsessed! Fortunately, the season for Stanley plums, commonly known as Italian prune plums is coming to an end.
The NY Times recipe has a few versions, published at varying times. Depending on the publication, the cinnamon varies between 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon. The sugar varies between 1cup and 3/4 cup. I think 3/4 cup of sugar is plenty sweet and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon is likewise enough. The recipe doesn’t call for any flavoring in the cake, just cinnamon sugar on top. I love a combination of cinnamon, star anise and vanilla for plums and often make plum preserves with these flavors. So I added a bit of vanilla to the batter and added some star anise to the cinnamon and sugar that’s sprinkled on top. I also changed the granulated sugar to sanding sugar for the top as I like a bigger crunch.
The original recipe also gives you a choice of baking in an 8″, 9″ or 9″ springform pan. I think 10″ would be too big because the resulting cake would be very flat and 8″ too small because there wouldn’t be enough of the crusty top or enough plums. 9″ is just right. The original recipe calls for unbleached AP flour but I prefer bleached for cakes. It gives a more tender crumb. Finally, the NYT recipe doesn’t call for any salt. I salt everything so I added a pinch.
150 grams (3/4 cup) superfine granulated white sugar
114 grams, 4 oz unsalted butter, softened
125 grams (1 cup)bleached AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
12 italian plums (Stanley variety), halved and pitted (24 halves)
Pinch of salt (1/8 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground star anise
3 tablespoons of sanding sugar or granulated for sprinkling on top.
1/2 a small lemon (this yields roughly 2 teaspoons lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit
Wisk together the 3 tablespoons of sugar and the spices
Line the bottom of a 9″ Springform pan with a round of parchment. If it’s nonstick, you needn’t grease the sides otherwise grease and flour the sides of the pan.
Cream the sugar and butter until light and silky
Add in eggs, one at a time, reading until light and fluffy
Wisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Sift over top of batter and beat gently to combine.
Spoon batter into your greased springform pan, leveling the top with an off set spatula.
Place plum halves on top of the batter with the skin-side up.
Squeeze some lemon juice over the top
Sprinkle with the spiced sugar.Bake for about an hour, until the top is brown and a toothpick come out clean. I have some more ideas for this cake and for me this is the most interesting part of cooking and baking: using a tried and true recipe as a jumping off point for more exploration. Let me know if you try them:
Put the spices and vanilla in the cake and sprinkle the top with lemon sugar ( rub grated lemon rind in the sugar) It will be prettier than using cinnamon in the sugar you sprinkle.
Use some almond extract in the batter instead of vanilla. Substitute almond flour for some of the AP flour. This would be good with plums, peaches and apricots. You’d have to play with this. Almond flour will give the cake less structure and is less absorbent than AP flour. It might result in a denser, more buttery cake.
Walnuts are also great with plums. Use some ground walnuts in the batter and substitute some walnut oil for the butter. It won’t be a 1-1 ratio. Butter has some water and oil does not. I would suggest using about 2 tablespoons of oil and cutting back the butter to 5 tablespoons. Same caveats as above with substituting almond flour.
This cake might work well with apricots as well although apricots are dryer than plums. I’d try poaching them in a soaking syrup with lemon rind and juice just until they soften a bit, then drain them and use the partially cooked apricots. I’d put ginger or almond oil or both in the batter.
Sour cherries might be good but you would probably need a bit more sugar on top. Also, cherries are very juicy and for opposite reasons than the apricot, one might need to roast them in the oven for about five minutes and drain them so as to eliminate some of the juice.
Some time ago I had a marvelous, individual serving of a chocolate bread pudding, at a catered event. Too much time elapsed before I decided to make said bread pudding and I couldn’t find the caterer. I don’t know that they would have parted with the recipe in any event. That’s ok, I like a challenge. It was a bread pudding unlike any I’d had before. It was light and moist with no discernible cubes of bread. It had the texture somewhat like a flourless chocolate cake.
So why not start with recipe for a flourless chocolate cake? Well, for one, I wanted to take the catering server at his word and assume he knew he was serving a bread pudding and not a flourless chocolate cake and two, it was studded with dried fruit and I figured a flourless chocolate cake wouldn’t support those fruits. So, I hit the internet and found recipes from Cooks Illustrated, Dorie Greenspan and others. I tried them all and none really made the dessert I was looking for. Once again, on my own looking for the bread pudding in my memory.
There were multiple choices I had to make: what kind of bread to use, fresh or day old or toasted; the ratio of chocolate and/or cocoa powder, whole eggs or yolks only, cream and/or milk, leavened or not, and whether or not to bake them in a large pan and cut them to size or bake them individually. After I made a promising batter, I cooked some in a high sided pan oblong pan, some in ring molds and some in muffin cups. I cut out individual cakes from the batch in the high sided pan but didn’t like the exposed edge. Muffin cups with tulip shaped liners worked but I was looking for a more formal shape. Ring molds seemed to be the way to go. You get a bit of leakage coming out of the bottom but not too bad if your tray is completely flat. The silpat seems to help stop the leakage as does a cold sheet pan. Alternatively, you can buy some cylindrical liners to go inside the ring molds.
3” x 1.75” ring molds
Cylinder and tulip liners
INGREDIENTS (makes roughly 6-8)
125 grams of lightly toasted brioche ( You’ll need to start with a 12 ounce loaf of an all butter brioche. You can also use all butter croissant. I have used croissants that were 24 hours old. I bought them at the end of the day and let them sit in a paper bag overnight and then toasted them).
200 grams (4) whole eggs
225 grams (1 cup) superfine sugar
6 teaspoons of course sanding sugar to sprinkle on top of the Puddings.
250 grams (1 cup) whole milk
120 grams (1/2) cup whipping cream
21.24 grams (3/4) oz dutched cocoa powder
125 (4.5 oz)bittersweet chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1tsp baking powder (For rounded tops, use double acting)
113 (5 oz) golden raisins (dried tart cherries or prunes or 1 oz of stem ginger with 4 oz dried apricots. For the apricot/ ginger I add 2 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate and I substitute 1tsp almond extract for the vanilla. If using cherries, cut them in half. If using apricots and ginger, dice the ginger and cut the apricots into quarters).
2 oz dark Rum if using raisins, (Kirsch if using cherries, Armagnac if using prunes and water if using diced stem ginger and apricots only for the apricots if they are top firm. They will not soften with baking).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees farhenheit.
line a sheet pan with a Silpat. Grease ring molds with softened butter and put on the sheet pan and then put the pan in the freezer. If using a square pan, grease the sides and line the bottom with parchment. If you’re using cylindrical greased liners you don’t need to grease the rings. Just slip the liners inside the rings to give the liners some support.
Remove crust from the brioche, unless the crust is soft and then you needn’t bother. Cut into 1″ cubes. Place cubes on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for about fifteen minutes for 15 minutes until dry to the touch and slightly toasted. Set aside 125 grams and use the rest for something else.
Place the dried fruit in a sauce pan with 2 oz water or your spirits of choice and bring to the simmer. Cook until the fruit has absorbed all the liquid.
Bring milk and sugar to a simmer and add to the cocoa powder little by little. Whisk until combined and sugar is dissolved.
Pour the hot milk over 125 grams of the toasted bread cubes, stirring occasionally to make sure the bread is soaking up the liquid. After 15 minutes use an immersion blender to mash it up up the bread or trap the bread between a fork and the side of the bowl to mash it.
Chop the chocolate and place in a glass bowl.
Heat the cream to a simmer and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let sit about three minutes and then wisk to blend it.
Wisk together eggs, salt, baking powder and vanilla and add to the chocolate mixture, whisking until combined. Stir into the bread mixture.
Ladle mixture into the ring molds or the pan. These do rise and if they rise over the ring mold the tops become misshapen. I would advise only filling them about 2/3ds of the way up. You may end up with more than 10 cakes.
Bake for about 15 minutes and sprinkle the tops with the reserved sugar. Bake another 5-15 minutes or until a toothpick come out with moist crumbs. The baking time varies depending on the size of your rings and how full you fill them. I have done this in large tulip shaped muffin cup liners in which case it took about 30 minutes. I got about 7 muffins.
Serve with unsweetened whipped cream.
I’ve done the bread pudding muffins for the pastry shop where I work, using day old croissants. I do toast them, like the brioche and for some reason, I need to increase the amount I use. So instead of 125 grams, I use 175. We also make large quantities and refrigerate the batter for a few days, scooping out what we need for the day. I use tulip liners and an ice cream scoop to fill them. For six muffins I do two scoops per muffin cup.
For apricot and stem ginger, I use 5oz very soft apricots and cut each into 4 pieces. I use two ounces of stem ginger and dice that pretty small as they pack some heat. I omit the vanilla and use a teaspoon of almond extract. I also use about two ounces of bittersweet chocolate cut I to chunks.
In an effort to see see if I could make the cakes lighter. I used brioche that had been cubed and toasted at 300F for 5 minutes. I separated the eggs and whipped the whites with half the sugar. I added the tolls and the rest of the sugar to the soaked bread and the. Folded in the whites at the end. The cakes were not lighter but the texture was creamier, more like a flourless chocolate cake. It was quite nice if you want to go that route. However when you whip the egg whites, you get temporary volume that deflates when it comes out of the oven. Be sure not to overfill the molds or they will puff up over the molds, mushroom out and become deformed.
My father mottos in life were, “If it isn’t chocolate it isn’t dessert” (Ira Blitzsten) and “Whenever I feel the urge to exercise, I lay down and wait until it passes” (Robert Hutchins).
Chocolate cookies are problematic. Too much chocolate or cocoa and they are soft. Not enough and they lack a deep chocolate flavor. I have tried many a chocolate sandwich cookie recipe and I always circle back to this one. Somehow these cookies have the sandy texture of a sable and a deep chocolate flavor. Eaten alone they are lovely. Sandwiched with raspberry jam they are sublime. The jam does soften them but you won’t mind and they are just big enough so you can pop the whole thing in your mouth.
I would also try orange marmalade, apricot jam or a little coffee ganache (white chocolate ganache flavored with coffee), but for me raspberry jam brings special memories of my dad who passed away in 2008.
This is a soft dough and you can use a pastry bag to pipe it but I find it a bit faster and more uniform to use a cookie press. When filling the press you can either drop in bits of dough until you fill it up or use some Saran Wrap to make a little log a bit narrower than the tub and the same length. Then you can just slip the roll into the tube and you don’t have to worry about air pockets. The cookie press is easier for kids and they can help you press out the cookies. Make sure the cookie sheets are cold. They grip the cookie as it comes out of the press so it doesn’t lift off the pan when you pull the press up.
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 egg yolks
1tsp vanilla extract
4 oz 70% bittersweet chocolate
9 oz bleached all purpose flour
1T dutched cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 a jar of Raspberry preserves
Sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking soda.
Melt chocolate and cool to room temperature.
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl.
Add yolks one at a time beating well after each addition.
Add chocolate and scrape down bowl.
Add flour all at once and stir gently until just incorporated.
Fill your cookie press or your pastry bag and press out shapes on to a chilled sheet pan covered with a silpat.
Freeze the cookies. Once they are frozen you can package them in an air tight container and keep them frozen for a few weeks. You can bake them from the frozen state. I think they maintain a better shape this way.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
When cookies are cool pipe about 1/2 teaspoon of preserves onto half of the cookies. Sandwich them together with the bare halves.
Cheers Poppy Boy! I’m sitting in the family room looking at the rain soaked garden and wishing you could enjoy these cookies with me.
Daniel is in a cook off with another boy in another fraternity, to raise money for charity. They are allowed a hot plate, a grill and a sous vide, since they both have one. I have to chuckle here as it’s not the customary possession of a college boy and yet, Daniel found possibly the one other boy in this huge University that owned one as well.
The boys were to prepare an entree using pork tenderloin, a side dish and dessert. Daniel is making prosciutto wrapped tenderloin which he will cook to temperature in the sous vide and finish in a hot pan. We discovered this technique at one of Jean-George Vonderrichten’s New York City restaurants, “Nougatine”. We had some unbelievable Berkshire pork chops which were tender with a crisp surface. The sous vide Is perfect for tough cuts of meat, like pork chops, because you can cook them for a long time to tenderize them without overcooking them. In addition to the pork, Daniel will make a butternut squash risotto with rosemary and sage.
I was tasked with finding a desssert that could be made solely on top of the stove, that didn’t require any pre made items or special equipment and could be cooked in 30ish minutes. Hmmm!
My immediate thought was poached fruit served with creme fraiche or Greek yogurt, sprinkled with some lightly toasted nuts for crunch. Too easy! Serious Eats has a skillet cobbler that sounded good but I wanted something that was more Mediterranean in nature. I’d been looking at Mark Bittma’s skillet lemon/almond tart and decided to try that. However, it would have to be adapted as it was cooked for a few minutes in a skillet and spent the rest of the time in the oven to which Daniel would have no access. I’m going to refer to the Bittman tart as a cake because in my mind it’s closer to a cake than a tart. There was also a discrepancy between Mark Bittman’s video and the recipe published by the New York Times that would have to be addressed. The article gives you the option of using 1/2-3/4 cup of sugar and the video calls for 1/2 cup. Since I was going to bake this entirely on the stove top I opted to go with 1/2 cup of sugar in the batter and save the 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top and caramelize. The recipe calls for the juice of one lemon, which I find to be unecesarily imprecise. I did in fact use the juice of a lemon but it was a huge freakin lemon and I think it was more juice than necessary. When I looked at the video it looked like there was twice as much cream as lemon juice and the recipe called for 1/2 cup of juice, so, I figure, 1/4 cup of juice is fine.
The next issue was the cooking method. My Italian grandmother never used her broiler and taught me how to make a frittata using only the stove top and a covered pan. I thought that might work for this dessert which seemed to be essentially a sweet frittata. They key is to put the batter in a non stick pan with sizzling fat (butter or olive oil) so it doesn’t stick and so you can slide it out and flip it back into the pan to brown the other side. Now, if you don’t want to mess around with flipping the cake I don’t think it’s critical. Just make sure you place the cake in the plate so that the browned side is up. This can easily be done by placing a plate on top of the pan and flipping the plate and pan as a unit so the pan ends up on top, the plate on the bottom and the cake drops out of the pan in one piece. If if the cake does’t come out in one nice piece, don’t panic. Smoosh it together, sprinkle some toasted almond slices on top and dust it with powdered sugar, or place the reserved sugar on top and hit it with a blow torch.
1/2 cup granulated sugar for batter plus 3 tablespoons for the top
1/4 cup cold lemon juice
zest of 1 large lemon
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Mix eggs until well combined, but not fluffy, into a homogeneous yellow mixture.
Add the cream, salt, and lemon juice to the eggs and mix well. (Combining lemon juice and cream can curdle the cream. Keeping the ingredients cold reduces the likelihood that will occur. Also, the longer you let the cream and juice sit together the more chance you give the juice to curdle the cream so don’t let the mixture sit around).
Rub the lemon zest into 1/2 cup of sugar and add to the eggs along with the almond meal and sliced almonds. Combine well
Heat 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter to an 8″ skillet and melt over medium heat foaming subsides
Pour batter into the pan and cover it.
Lower the flame to low.
Cook for about 5 minutes and check it. You are looking for the liquids to be set. If you stick a wooden skewer into the mixture it should come out with mois crumbs but not wet. If it’s not ready, cover the pan for another 5 minutes and check again.
When the tart is completely set, loosen the edges from the side of the pan. Take a plate and place it on top of the pan. Take a deep breath, cross your fingers and flip the plate and pan unit upside down so the pan is now on top. With any luck, the tart will release cleanly. If it’s doesn’t scrape out the remainder in the pan and pat it on top of the cake.
Now you have two options: you can scatter some toasted sliced almonds on top and dust it with powdered sugar or you can sprinkle the top with granulated sugar and caramelize it with a blow torch.