Monday, June 21, 2010

fear and loathing in the kitchen

Today I thought I'd talk a little about things that used to scare me.

Frosting cupcakes used to scare me. There is such an intimidating aura built up around them...not for you? Maybe? The fact that I am slightly perfectionistic when it comes to cupcakes could have a little something to do with it. 

But when you plop a huge dollop of frosting on a pretty cupcake...

And then spread it around with an icing spatula...

And then dunk it in coconut...

You're pretty much good to go. 

Then you'll do it again and again and again because it's fun and because people like to eat lime yogurt cupcakes with lime cream cheese frosting. Topped with coconut, of course. Oh, Stephanie from the past...if only you knew what a silly thing it is to fret about cupcakes. When faced with harrowing life questions from now on, I'm going to respond with "coconut". 

What should I be doing with my life? Coconut. What should I wear tomorrow? Coconut. Can I take a nap now? Coconut.

Coconut logic is flawless. 

The last time I wrote about madeleines, I had no camera battery, so showing them to you never happened. I used to loathe making these because they never turned out well. 

But now I can crank them out like an old pro, even early on a Saturday morning. There is no secret, I don't think. Practice is good, extending grace to yourself when mistakes surface is even better. You'll get there!

These cookies freaked me out for a little while as well! They started falling apart a little bit as I was slicing the dough, but a little time spent warming up on the counter should do the trick. Deeply chocolaty and with a salty bite, Dorie's neighbor dubbed these "World Peace Cookies"...he may be on to something here, given that I am sitting here grinning like a fool as I remember how these touch my cookie heart.

World Peace Cookies
(adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Dutch processed)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
11 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda together.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add the brown and white sugars, salt, and vanilla and beat for 2 minutes.

Turn off the mixer and dump in the flour mixture. Throw a kitchen towel over the bowl so stuff doesn't go flying everywhere (cocoa powder, while delightful, is unpleasant when inadvertently inhaled) and pulse the mixer maybe 5 times, 1-2 seconds at a time. Take a peek and see if the flour is mostly mixed in.  If so, take the towel off and stir just until the flour disappears. Throw in the chocolate pieces and stir together just briefly.

Turn out the dough onto a surface and gather it into a cohesive ball. Divide in two, then shape each section of dough into a 1 1/2 inch diameter log. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 3 days. (You just need the dough to get colder so it'll stay together.)

When you're ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a knife, slice dough logs into 1/2 inch thick cookies. If they start falling apart, you can try to warm the logs with your hands or just let them warm themselves up on the counter. Chocolate bits may fall off the cookies; just pat them back in. 

Place on sheets (you can pack them in close; they don't spread much) and bake one sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes. Let cool on baking rack before digging in; they're truly better at room temperature.

I'm pretty sure some of you out there have your own cookie recipes that could bring about world peace (give or take an errant nation or two)...I'm asking (nicely). Please share! You know mine.


  1. No, I'm the inspiration!

    I'm the meaning in your life...?

  2. you're the meaning in my life.... you're the INSPIRAAATIONNN!!

  3. Nooooo one needs you more than I...neeeed....youuuu (sapfest 2010 alert)

    Molly, it's very possible. Our convo has been simmering around in the back of my brain all week!


Commenting is sexy.