I guess it’s fitting that my 300th post features the most New Yorky of cookies; the Black and White cookie.
Much of this blog has focused on my living in New York: balancing random jobs as a performer, writer and baker; dragging standing mixers to the apartments of boyfriends past; working for a local gluten-free magazine or meeting famous chefs; and eventually refocusing my work to bake less and write more. Yes, these cookies are not an adaptation of a chef that I know or am working with, but they are quintessentially New York.
And insanely delicious.
Growing up, there were several cookies my mom would always make around the holidays: crispy chocolate-chip laden biscotti, delicately caramelized lace cookies filled with melted chocolate, little cups of gooey nut pastries, and these tiny bombs of buttery walnut cookies I only knew as Butter Balls.
When the gluten thing hit in my early teens, those were all off limits for years. Later, as my mom started experimenting with gluten-free flours by my side, she easily adapted some of her favorites so that I could enjoy them along with my family. To this day, her biscotti come out better than mine, even though she uses my flour blend to make them. Some things just need that extra bit of mom love, I guess.
But the walnut butter balls eluded me. Until now.
It was August, and I hadn’t made a single pie.
I hadn’t made a single batch of ice cream or sorbet, either; but the cardinal sin was with the pie.
Pie is my favorite dessert. I make one for my birthday, or when I want to impress a man, or when a man I’ve impressed breaks my heart. And this summer I hadn’t made one.
But then I saw huge stalks of rhubarb in my hometown grocers. Rhubarb that was far too girthy for its own good, and so late in the season that I couldn’t nearly call it “peak”. But rhubarb none the same. I also had some really beautiful black plums from a farmers market in NYC. And I had Brooks Headley’s Fancy Desserts on my brain.
It came out October 1st, but I had it mistakenly launching on my schedule on the 20th, so this little post is a touch late. Brooks had kindly sent it to me after we’d barely missed each other at a mutual friend’s restaurant anniversary party; a black-and-white copy with notes someone had scribbled on random pages.
Now, I’ve never worked with Brooks. I met him when he was celebrated as a 2013 Dessert Professionals Top Ten Pastry chef, where we’d been introduced by Niko of Dessertbuzz (that link is for the 2014 celebration, because I love the photo Niko took of me with my favorite sweet pea of a pastry chef, Ron Ben-Israel). I had planned to work with Brooks in my interview column, but first he was busy writing the book and then my column ended. I still have yet to work with him, as I’m saving up my “wanna work on…?” request for something meaty. But the book had landed magically in my mailbox after the post Brooks-is-walking-away-from-this-party email exchange.
And it’s f***ing awesome.
These are the best fu*king brownies I’ve ever made.
No joke, no lies. They’re definitely not the easiest brownies in my arsenal: definitely not as easy as the Divine Cocoa Brownies that are literally dubbed “the easiest brownies you will ever make”, nor as easy as using the Kitch+Table mix I adore, nor as easy as the booze-bursting Boyfriend Breakup Beer Brownies. They’re definitely easier than the Peppermint Patty Brownie Bars, though, but those are all Christmasy. And, while all of those brownie recipes (and I obviously adore brownies) are awesome; while they definitely fix a sweet tooth and are ready while the “I can’t believe he just broke up with me” snot is still running down your sister’s face; they’re not these brownies.
These brownies are the best. They come from Chef Johnny Iuzzini’s new book, Sugar Rush, on stands and digital clouds everywhere. And they’re my new favorites for when I have serious brownie people to impress.
Welcome to my second installment of Pro Pastry. Today over at WordsFoodArt.com, I have a review of the cookbook this recipe came from – out today! – and a bit more on the chef behind it. Take a look at the why’s behind this series, and here for my first piece in this series, Dairy-Free Creme Brulee from Chef Joe Murphy.
Okay, so this title is kinda misleading.
There’s no gluten to be found in the original of this recipe, and I did not eat that beautiful slice of toasted bread in the image above. The recipe’s not completely dairy free, as it contains copious amounts of butter. But it did take a touch of adaptation to work with it and I’m so glad I did, because I devoured it on some rice crackers, feasted it to a friend on that bread as part of his birthday dinner and, a few days later, the ladies in my writers group helped me polish off yet another ramekin, with one of the ladies going to town on it. After I explained that she was eating chicken livers, she proclaimed its excellence and said she was glad not to have originally known what was in it, as she wouldn’t have tried nor fell in love with it if she had.
Game, set, match! for Jacqueline (still have the U.S. Open on the brain, and still boggled by their scoring system). Continue reading