Tag Archives: Baking

Marble Cookies

marble cookies
One of my favorite food memories (of which there are bajllions) is from when I was really little, maybe 4 or 5. My grandmother used to take me to her local bakery to get the kuchen that inevitably showed up at every family meal, and she’d let me get one thing for myself. It was always a marble cookie. As a kid I never questioned what I liked about that cookie but my little kid brain always went straight for it: a cookie with chocolate and vanilla swirled dough and a delicious but faint hint of almonds. Crispy on the outside, soft in the middle (is there any other way?)… New York delis have these cookies in scores but they always disappoint. They’re always stale and usually hard as rocks. So in the interest of dredging up nostalgia, I dug up a recipe to make them in my own kitchen. And a pleasant surprise: they are so freaking easy.

On the menu:
Marble cookies
Makes 2 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 oz. unsweetened baker’s chocolate

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, blend the butter and sugar until combined. Add egg and blend well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Add to the butter/sugar mixture and blend with electric mixer until combined. Add vanilla and almond extracts and stir together the dough by hand.

In a double boiler or in the microwave, melt the chocolate. Little by little, add the chocolate to the cookie dough, intermittently using a knife to swirl the chocolate. Do NOT stir! You want to be able to see the chocolate and the vanilla within the dough.

Chill dough for at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When dough is nice and chilled, roll dough into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until the edges are just started to turn light brown. Cool on a wire rack.

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Butter Cookies


If you know me at all, you know I hate crispy cookies. Sure, they have their place and time (a thin wafer tucked in a scoop of ice cream or a biscotti alongside a cup of coffee on a Sunday, for example) but in general I love me a giant, soft, chewy cookie. It’s a running source of debate in my family whether the chocolate chip cookies should be baked soft or crispy – dad likes them crispy, I like them soft. We’re like the Hatfields and the McCoys over here.

So needless to say when The BF requested cookies that resembled “the cookies that come in the blue tin!” I rolled my eyes. CRISPY COOKIES?! IN MY HOUSE?! But I kinda like him so I caved. Here’s my secret: I under-baked them so they’re still a TINY bit soft on the inside. He still loves them because they taste kinda like Danish butter cookies, and I love them because they’re still the tiniest bit soft. Win win.

On the menu:
Butter cookies
Makes 24 cookies

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 2/3 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until combined. Add the egg and blend for around 3 minutes until the mixture is lighter in color and texture. By hand, stir in the flour and salt, then the vanilla.

If you are going to use a cookie press: you can use the dough now and skip to the next step. If you’re going to cut these cookies into rounds like I did, you’ll need to form a log with the dough and chill it for about an hour in the refrigerator. After the dough is chilled, cut 1/4 inch thick slices* with a sharp knife. Place on cookie sheet. Press M&Ms into the dough if desired.

Bake cookies for 8 – 10 minutes or until the edges are brown. Remove and let cool on wire racks.

*These cookies would be completely crispy if you sliced them just a bit thinner. Just adjust your bake time accordingly so they don’t burn.

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Consolation Cake


When bad things happen in life, everyone has their own coping mechanism. I don’t think it’s any huge surprise that my feel-better activity is baking. I got laid off from my job yesterday and needless to say, it feels pretty awful. If I was leaving my job because Food + Wine called up and said, “We need a new cake tester who can also write a column about it in a snarky way” then I would be over the moon*! Alas, no one but the unemployment office was calling me up. So I brushed up my resume and then I whisked up this cake.

On the menu:
Lemon olive oil cake
Serves 12
Adapted from Epicurious.com

NOTE: You’ll need a 9 inch spring form pan for this cake.

3/4 cup olive oil plus 2 Tbsp for greasing the pan
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup flour
5 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease spring form pan with 1 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil.

In a small bowl: whisk together flour and lemon zest.

In a large bowl: beat together egg yolks with half cup of sugar until thick and pale, around 3 minutes. While mixer is still beating, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. Beat in lemon juice until incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the flour/zest mixture until incorporated.

In a medium bowl: with clean beaters, beat together egg whites with salt until the mixture is foamy. A little at a time, add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until soft peaks form.

Fold the egg whites into the large bowl egg yolk mixture until completely incorporated. Pour the batter into a greased spring form pan. Tap the pan on the counter a couple times to get rid of the bubbles within the batter. Sprinkle the cake with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar (this will form a nice crunchy crust on top).

Bake for 45 minutes or until a sharp knife comes out clean. Once baked completely, remove the spring form outer ring and let the cake cool for at least an hour before removing from the base of the pan and the parchment. Serve in wedges plain, or with a fruit compote.

NOTE: this cake is ALMOST eggy, but dense and tangy and absolutely delicious. As I’m never quite sure what’s dessert and what’s breakfast, I could see this being served at brunch with fresh fruit or freshly whipped cream alongside a bacon potato skillet dish. Are you drooling yet?

*Are you Food + Wine? Do you want to hire me? Then do it already! I’m totally free this month.

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The Late Night Cake: Part Deux


I would tell you how many cakes I’ve baked in the past month or so, but frankly I’m embarrassed. My penchant for cake is second to none. I’m the only girl at the wedding who cannot WAIT for the cake to be served. I’m thinking there must be a 12 step program I can join, right?

I had my sights set on vanilla cake this time and I looked to The Joy of Cooking to satisfy that need. I posted a recipe for vanilla cake before, but this one is a little bit different and just a tad bit lighter.

On the menu:
Vanilla cake with vanilla glaze
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
Serves 12

3 1/2 cups cake flour (or regular flour sifted)
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar (divided into: 1 2/3 and 1/3)
1 cup unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
8 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Grease and flour 2 9-inch round baking pans. Preheat oven to 375.

You’ll need 3 different sized bowls for this recipe. In the middle sized bowl: sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the largest bowl: cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add 1 2/3 sugar and mix until combined.

In the smallest bowl: add milk and vanilla and whisk until combined.

In the largest bowl: while mixing, gradually add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then add 1/2 the milk mixture, then add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then add the remaining milk mixture, then add the remaining flour mixture until the batter is completely combined.

In the medium bowl: with CLEAN beaters, beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar until soft white peaks form. Add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and continue beating until the mixture is firm but not dry. Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg white mixture into the large bowl with the batter. Continue folding until the batter is uniform.

Pour half the batter in one pan and half the batter in the other pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake springs back when gently pressed.

NOTE: this frosting should be called “Lauren’s Lazy Layer Cake Liquid” because it’s the same lame-o glaze I use for my chocolate cake, only I leave out the cocoa and add a tsp of vanilla and a few drops of red food coloring so it’s pink, not grayish brown from the vanilla. This is not, I repeat, this is not good frosting. It’s war time frosting. It’s what you use if you don’t want to wait the 7845023653478026523780 hours until your cake is cool and you just want to eat it right. now. Add some jimmies to spice it up.

Yes. Jimmies.

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Tips for Making Fluffy Cakes

Hello friends! Don’t miss my post over at Yumm.com today on tips for making fluffy cakes. One time I baked a cake that turned out like a brick. It was embarrassing. Don’t let that happen to you.

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The Late Night Chocolate Cake

The chocolate cake / It ain’t pretty but it sure tasted good.

Here’s a nice story for you. Last Saturday night, The BF and I had ourselves a nice little date night. One might think that a twenty-COUGH-year old and a thirty-COUGH-year old wouldn’t have to plan Saturday nights out, but when your nice squishy couch and a cheap bottle of wine and Mad Men reruns and old sweatpants are calling your name, you really have to push yourself to leave the house. But leave the house we did. We sat at a bar, we had some drinks, we laughed, we spent money neither of us has… but all the while I was distracted. Seriously distracted.

By cake.

I wanted some cake. Guys, when a cake craving takes over my body, I can’t help it. It’s all I think about. It’s all I can talk about. “Should I get some cake?” I said out loud, eying a perfectly frosted white cake on the counter of the bar. But something told me I didn’t want that cake. How old was it? Was it pure white cake in the middle? Would it cost $10 a slice? Would I be disappointed that I wasted the calories (and, more importantly, the craving) on something mediocre?

I turned away. I finished my drink. We went home.

And then I baked my own cake.

Who cares if it was 2AM and I was out of butter? I found a simple recipe for one bowl quick chocolate cake, I whipped that sucker up, cooled it over the AC unit, dumped the still-warm cakes on a plate, poured a cocoa-powder-powdered-sugar-water glaze over the top of the heap, and set it in front of The BF… with two forks. We turned on Mad Men reruns, I changed into old sweats, and it was heaven. Why we ever leave the house, I’ll never know.

On the menu:
One-Bowl Chocolate Cake
Serves 2 (just kidding… serves 12)

Cake:
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 9-inch round baking pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and mix with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Split the batter between the 2 pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate glaze:
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk (you might need more depending on the consistency of the glaze that you like)

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl. Pour over the cake. Eat like it’s going out of style.

*In the interest of full disclosure… I ran out of milk. I mixed together half a cup of heavy cream and half a cup of water and called it milk. Blame the three G&T’s I had before I baked this.

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Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Muffins: A Love Story


If I could, I would make everything into a pancake. The lemon/blueberry combo idea has been on my mind for weeks and weeks, so naturally I decided I would make them into pancakes along with the tub of ricotta I had in the fridge. But The BF not-so-subtly reminded me that I had made pancakes every weekend for 2 weeks and maybe not everyone is cool with a steady diet of pancakes… I don’t claim to understand those types of people, and maybe I never will.

In any case, I gave in and made the next best thing: muffins. And let me tell you kiddies… these are good. Really, really good. If you’ve never baked with ricotta before, or have been skeptical, these will have you singin’ a different tune.

On the menu:
Blueberry lemon ricotta muffins
Makes 12 muffins

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup milk
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup blueberries (I used frozen but if you have sweet, fresh blueberries, use ’em!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend together the ricotta, milk, and butter until completely blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add the lemon zest and mix well.

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together just until incorporated. Add the blueberries and stir together with a rubber spatula*. Your batter should be relatively firm, but if it’s on the dry side you can add just a splash of milk.

Divide batter evenly into 12 pre-greased or lined baking cups. Bake for 26 – 30 minutes, or until the tops are a light golden brown color. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for around 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

*Note: fresh blueberries are very delicate and you’ll want to be careful mixing them into the batter so they don’t get squashed. And yes… squashed is a technical term.

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