Desserts, Recipes, Snacks

Toasts with Chocolate, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt

 "Good dark chocolate has bitter and acidic elements, as does good bread. In the kitchen, they are drawn to each other. They also couldn't be easier to combine, especially in this recipe, where the four ingredients — bread, chocolate, olive oil, and salt — are left in their raw state, with just a dash of heat to encourage them to mingle." - Amanda Hesser, The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

I had been wanting to try this recipe for ages but kept putting it off. It seemed a bit too decadent to make for breakfast. And too austere for a dessert after a big home-cooked meal. And whenever I buy a baguette, I usually just polish it off with way too much cheese.

Then curiosity got the better of me. I mean, they're just so simple. In the recipe's headnotes in The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Amanda Hesser recalls eating these toasts at a tapas bar in Barcelona, "warmed until the chocolate was as soft as cream." They're also similar to an old-fashioned way for making pain au chocolate in France, just tucking a bar of chocolate into a baguette.

Desserts, Recipes

Raspberry Yogurt Popsicles

Recently a branch of People's Pops opened in Park Slope. Pretty much everywhere I walk, I see kids and adults alike happily slurping fruity popsicles as they walk down the street. With the recent heat wave, it has become a strong test of willpower to not stop in when I walk by, which is practically everyday.

I've eaten my fair share of People's Pops this summer, but realized I could easily go broke having as many a day as I'd like. And so I've recently started making a bunch of popsicles at home with yogurt and fresh summer fruit. Plus, a walk to the freezer takes much less time.

Cookies, Desserts, Recipes

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

How can you tell you've found the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe? I guess one logical answer is if you stop trying other chocolate chip cookie recipes. Another answer, I've discovered, is if you crave the cookies so much you would bake them in the middle of a heat wave.

I should probably also mention that my apartment doesn't have central AC. Last week, when it was about 95 degrees during the day for 3 days straight, I had to blast my rickety old air conditioner for 2 hours before my studio cooled down. But it was worth it just to be able to turn the oven on for an hour to bake these chewy, delicious cookies.

Desserts, Recipes

Watermelon and Mint Granita

If I had to name one favorite food from childhood, the food I can remember eating with total abandon, the clear answer would be watermelon. In family photo albums, there are pictures of me sitting on a stoop or a kitchen counter, at age 2 or 3, happily biting into slices of watermelon bigger than my head. Sometimes there would be watermelon juice dribbling down my chubby little arms. Sometimes I would be in mid-bite, concentrating too hard to look up at the camera. Often would be a huge smile on my face.

You know how childhood favorites can come and go? Not true with me and watermelon. Even today I look forward to summer every year primarily for the ripe watermelon available everywhere, from farmer's markets to my corner bodega.

Cookies, Desserts, Recipes

Chocolate Chip Banana Cookies

I woke up on my 30th birthday last week just itching to bake. It was supposed to get up to 90 or 95 degrees that day, but I figured I could squeeze in some quick cookie-baking before my apartment got too warm.

Recently I started baking more with whole wheat flour, as you might have seen in the post on Whole Wheat S’more Cookies. In addition to its healthier aspects, whole wheat flour just gives cookies a nice extra nutty flavor. And if you add bananas and old-fashioned oats to chocolate chip cookies, there’s no reason you can’t have them for breakfast, right?

Desserts, Recipes

Mini Strawberry Rum Pies

Last weekend, it was finally gorgeous out after a month of rainy and chilly weather. Instead of lounging in the park, I spent most of it holed up indoors, editing the unbound galley pages of my cookbook, giving it the final check before it got sent to the printer. I barely left the house, sipped many cups of coffee, and snacked on an embarrassing assortment of sweet and salty junk food. (The telltales signs of an intense period of work.)

Yesterday morning at 11am, I packaged it up and sent it back to my publisher. I sank down on my couch and let the sense of relief sink in.

Cookies, Desserts, Recipes

Whole Wheat S'More Cookies

I got inspired to bake these whole wheat s’more cookies after seeing Moonrise Kingdom on opening weekend and getting all happy-nostalgic for summer camp.

I’m a total sucker for anything set in the 1960s or related to the New England coast, so I was completely sold on the movie after seeing the trailer in May. Set on a New England island around a “Khaki Scout” summer camp, the movie involves two 12-year-olds who make a pact to run away together and the scout troop that searches for them. There’s budding romance, intrigue, quirky art direction that’s a Wes Anderson signature, and a kick-ass soundtrack. The movie kept me grooving for days to this particular Francoise Hardy song that was stuck in my head.

Cake, Desserts, French, Recipes

French Yogurt and Olive Oil Cake

Yesterday I wanted to bake a cake. Sure, it was a Monday, but since finding out over the weekend that my cookbook was now available for pre-order on Amazon (!!!), I wanted an excuse to celebrate. Or more accurately, I wanted an excuse to eat cake.

But not a cake with frosting or layers or anything that required more effort than a Monday evening calls for. Then I remembered a recipe for French-style yogurt cake in Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life that I had bookmarked a while back but hadn’t had time to try yet. It’s an old-fashioned dessert that home bakers used to make by measuring ingredients in a yogurt jar. (Dorie Greenspan has also said this was one of the few desserts that French women actually make at home, given that in France amazing pastry shops are pretty much everywhere.)

A delicious-sounding cake that didn’t take much effort? Sold.