Archive for: maida
“Who’s gonna turn down a Junior Mint? It’s chocolate, it’s peppermint -it’s delicious!” — Kramer, Seinfeld
I know one person who does not like the combination of chocolate and mint, but to be fair, he does not care for peppermint-type flavors in general. Doubtless there are a handful of other people who also do not care for the combination, but the vast majority of people simply adore it. The freshness of mint complements the rich and intense taste of chocolate (particularly of dark chocolate) and makes the two a winning pair.
Junior mints and York peppermint patties are two of the best examples of this flavor combo, but Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Mint Sticks might even be better. The little bars are dense, but tender, and intensely chocolaty. On top of the chocolate layer is a thin glaze of peppermint, which in turn is topped with a drizzle of melted, bittersweet chocolate for contrast. It tastes like a little candy bar, only better.
As if the outstanding flavor weren’t enough, the “sticks” are even better when they are cold, so store them in the fridge or freezer and use them as a treat to cool off with on a hot summer day (or a hot winter day, if you have also been experiencing this year’s rather odd temperature shifts!).
It has been a while since I made peanut butter cookies. They’re a great cookie to have in a basic baker’s repertoire because they are almost universally popular (except to those with peanut allergies), even if you’re not a fan of the nuts themselves. Basic peanut butter cookies have a slight chew to them, but you can really do a lot of different things with cookies that use it.
This variation on the classic peanut butter cookies comes from Maida Heatter’s Cookies and makes a light, crispy cookie. They use whole wheat pastry flour, which is a finely ground whole wheat flour that can usually be used interchangeably with regular all-purpose flour, unlike the coarser regular whole wheat flour. If you cannot find whole wheat pastry flour, you can substitute 3/4 cup all purpose and 1/2 cup regular whole wheat to make up the total 1 1/4 cups needed. The cookies also use raw sugar, which is much coarser than regular sugar and, according to Maida, contributes to the texture.
Because they taste so light, these cookies are very addictive and definitely need a glass of milk to go with them. They have a good peanut butter flavor and you can’t really taste anything “healthy” (they’re not really all that healthy) about them, despite the use of whole wheat flour.
Judging from the differences between my batch and Cathy’s batch, I would say that using a mainstream peanut butter (like Jif or Skippy) is better than using a natural one. I didn’t have any problems handling or slicing the dough once it was cold, though the dough does have to be sliced quickly before it thaws. I completely agree with Cathy’s comment that the cookies end up in perfect circles even if you slice them imperfectly. They spread a lot, and the spread covers up any flaws.
Lest you think that I am posting all of Maida Heatter’s recipes, be assured that this one is quite popular. It was published in Saveur magazine earlier this year, too. So I have no qualms about publishing it, again, here.
These are icebox cookies, the slice-and-bake variety of cookies that are great to have in your freezer because the dough will keep for weeks and you can baked them off as you crave them. This specific cookie is no ordinary cookie, however. Because of its use of a variety of spices, the cookie tastes much better as it ages and the flavors have a chance to meld. This is a characteristic of many spice-filled products, from chili to gingerbread. The spices included here are cinnamon, cocoa and cayenne pepper. The cookies will have a tiny hint of pepper when they first come out of the oven, but after ageing for several days, the spice will be noticeable.
I love the heat from these cookies. It makes them fun to eat and they pair wonderfully with hot cocoa or coffee. In the summer, though, I think they make perfect little ice cream sandwiches. Use vanilla or dulce de leche for an amazing snack. You can even make the sandwiches ahead of time and store them, wrapped, in your freezer for emergency snacking.
You can’t go wrong with Maida Heatter. I’m sure that there are recipes of hers that are not universally popular (Check out the judging panel’s comments in Cathy’s Mondays with Maida to see if they ever find a bad one), but I have yet to try a recipe that does not work. And, of course, I love just about all of them.
Case in point, these cardamom cookies struck me as calling for an unusual mixing process. The spice, baking soda and salt were creamed into the butter before the sugar was added. Perhaps this is for more even distribution of the spice in the cookies? In any event, I went ahead with the recipe as written with only two small changes. First, I slightly increased the cardamom and did not use fresh ground. Too lazy for that. It is well over 100F here today and I am not grinding spices. Please overlook the illogic in refusing to grind spices but unhesitatingly running my oven to bake. Second, I added some vanilla because I think that cardamom and vanilla are an amazing combination.
If you do not know who Craig Claiborne is, take a peek at his biography. Among other things, he definately knew a good cookie. You can read the original recipe text here, where it is reprinted from Maida Heatter’s Brand-New Book of Great Cookies. I simplified the originals into drop cookies because, to blame the heat again, I didn’t feel like rolling them out.
The cookies are slightly chewy, slightly crunchy and slightly shortbready. They’re also very good – no “slightly” about it.
I have been wanting to make macaroons for a really long time, so I bought some shredded coconut and put it in the fridge, where it has patiently been waiting. And, as you may have guessed from the photo above, it never made it to macaroons.
These are Coconut Oatmeal Cookies based on a recipe from Maida Heatter’s New Book of Great Desserts. I bought the book a few months ago, soon after I discovered Cathy‘s Monday’s with Maida plan, but enjoyed her posts so much that I never actually got around to making any of the recipes myself! I have now read the cookbook several times, adding new flags each time in preparation for the day I would use it.
This recipe would not ordinarily have been my first choice because, although I love coconut, not many of the people I know do. Oddly, they like things I have made which contain coconut, but remain firm in their insistance that they do not like the texture/flavor/color of the fruit. The description won me over, though:
They are quick and easy drop cookies that are especially good. The recipe was sent to me as a gift from a bakery in Jacksonville, Florida, there they are baked in huge quantities (700 cookies at a time) are are so popular that the bakery runs out of them every day.
700 cookies a day? Whoa. That must be some cookie.
They were very easy to mix up. I had to slightly alter the recipe to account for the fact that I only had one stick of butter when I started to make them, so the original recipe has slightly more flour, a whole cup of butter and no milk, which I added for a little extra moisture in the dough. Even so, these cookies turned out to be incredibly addictive. They are crisp on the edges, slightly chewy in the center, buttery and flavorful. They taste like a particularly good oatmeal cookie and the flavor of coconut is distinct, but subtle and not overly strong. I would even go so far as to say that if you didn’t know there was coconut, you might not guess it was in there. Given their great taste (700 cookies a day!!!), I think everyone will like these. I know that I do.