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    Bread Slice Sugar Cookies

    These little bread slices bring a fun new shape to slice-and-bake sugar cookies. There's no special equipment required to make them, and they are super simple to decorate! This week I wanted to make something a little bit lighthearted to amuse myself (and maybe you, too!). These tiny bread slice cookies were just the thing. I had developed a version of these years ago for The Etsy Journal in the form of Fairy Bread Cookies, but there are so many other ways they can be decorated. I decided to whip up a batch just for fun, and I'm so glad I did!Continued, click to read more… LEGGI TUTTO

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    Dark Chocolate Sumac Brownies

    Ground sumac is the surprising magic ingredient in these rich chocolate brownies. It adds tang and enhances dark cocoa notes with new depth of flavor.  

    If you had asked me two weeks ago what to do with ground sumac, I would have rattled off a list of savory recipes and handed you my favorite kofta kabob recipe. It held no place in my mind as an ingredient for sweet things, but I’m not sure why. One sniff of the crimson powder reveals notes of tart raspberry, red florals, something lemony; a host of opportunity for the sweet kitchen.

    While I’m still exploring the possibilities of ground sumac in sweets, there’s one place where it clearly belongs. Paired with dark chocolate, it punches up the flavor and brings forward hidden subtleties. You won’t be able to identify the spice on its own in these brownies, but you’ll know it’s there by the intensity of the chocolate flavor. 

    If you’re not familiar with sumac, it’ s a wild flowering plant that grows in the Mediterranean and yields red berries. The fruit is dried and ground which releases its tangy fragrance and flavor. It is widely used in Middle Eastern recipes, and most often in savory fare. If you reside in the US as I do, you’ll find it in the Middle Eastern spices section at the grocery store, and it is widely available for order online. 

    The brownie recipe I’m using originates from Ovenly, the salty-sweet themed cookbook from the eponymous bakery in New York. (see here). It’s hard to improve upon a recipe such as this, and the end result is pretty spectacular on its own, but the magic ingredient of ground sumac really ups the ante. 

    To further intensify and punctuate the flavors, a sprinkling of thin Maldon salt is scattered on top of the brownie batter. Most of the brittle flakes melt as the brownie sheet bakes, but you’ll know its there when you take a bite. If you own my second cookbook (Sea Salt Sweet) then you know I’m a huge fan of Maldon salt, as I’ve written a primer on the best salts to use in desserts. I’d urge you to pick up a small tin of this salt if you don’t already have it in your pantry. 

    Just like coffee brings out the flavors or chocolate, sumac plays the same role but in a different way. There’s a new tartness, subtle red cherry notes, a lingering fruity floral… something. The things I can’t articulate are best described by tasting the goods. I hope you’ll give these a try!

    If you’ve experimented with ground sumac in your baking, I’d love to hear about your results!

    [click to print]
    Dark Chocolate Sumac Brownies
    Yields 12-16 brownies
    Adapted from Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
    1 cup (100 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 cup (25 grams) dark unsweet cocoa powder
    1/2 cup (63 grams) all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
    2 teaspoons ground sumac
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    4 large eggs, room temperature
    3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
    3/4 cup (170 grams) packed brown sugar flaky sea salt, such Maldon, for garnishPreheat the oven to 350F. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with flour-based cooking spray (recommend Baker’s Joy). Alternatively, line the pan with foil that overhangs two sides and grease the foil.On the stovetop, melt the butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Set aside to cool until barely warm but still liquid.In a large mixing bowl, sift together cocoa powder, dark cocoa powder, flour, espresso powder, ground sumac, and salt.In a large glass measure with a pour spout, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Stir half of the egg mixture into the cocoa powder mixture. Stir in the melted butter. Finally, stir in the remaining egg mixture until just smooth. Do not over-mix.Pour the batter into prepared baking pan, and level evenly in the pan using an offset spatula. Sprinkle Maldon salt over the top of the batter before baking. Don’t be shy here, Maldon salt is very thin and less salty than table salt. Sprinkle liberally to make sure the top is well-speckled with the salt.Bake brownies about 20 minutes, or just until center is set (check at 20 minutes; bake for 5 more minutes if needed). Remove from oven and let cool in the pan. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.For neatest slices, refrigerate for 30 minutes before cutting, if desired. Brownies will stay fresh up to five days if stored in an airtight container, or frozen for up to two months well wrapped and double bagged in freezer bags.
    link Dark Chocolate Sumac Brownies By Heather Baird Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2021Wednesday, January 20, 2021Dark Chocolate Sumac Brownies LEGGI TUTTO

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    Classic Opera Cake

    This classic French cake is made with layers of almond sponge, potent coffee syrup, French buttercream, and chocolate ganache. It's worthy of any special occasion.Ah, Opera Cake. This coffee lover's dream-come-true is a six layer affair, stacked with three layers of almond sponge, soaked with espresso syrup and alternating layers of French buttercream and butter ganache. It has been described as 'elaborate' which is true. Its preparation calls for your time, patience, and a candy thermometer, but the end result is so worth the effort. It is one of my favorite cakes of all time, and it's certainly one to try if you're looking to hone your skills in patisserie. Continued, click to read more… LEGGI TUTTO

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    Perfect Baked Oatmeal

    Breakfast is ready when you are with this make-ahead pan of lightly sweet baked oatmeal. Toppings can be endlessly varied to suit your morning cravings. 

    I skip breakfast all too often, and most of the time my morning begins with a cup of coffee and whatever is closest to hand – a cookie or whatever sweet baked thing I’ve made the day before. This year I’m making an effort, or at least leaning into, a more nutritious way to start the day.
    This baked oatmeal has been a real game-changer. I can make a pan on Monday and enjoy breakfast all week long, varying toppings along the way to change the flavor so it doesn’t get boring. And oats are so filling and packed with good vitamins, minerals, and fiber – I’m not starving by lunchtime.

    This recipe makes a big 13×9-inch pan, which might be considered ‘family size’. If you’re just feeding yourself, then this recipe halves easily into an 8×8 pan. It’s incredibly easy to stir together and is very lightly sweetened with brown sugar. That is to say, you won’t have a sugar crash after eating a slice.

    I call this the perfect baked oatmeal because it really is the perfect blank canvas for any topping you’d like to add. Some baked oatmeal recipes add berries in the mixture before baking, but I’ve found this reduces its longevity. Berries get mushy, and neighboring oats take on a weird texture. This version is just oats and a few walnuts for some healthy omegas in the mix.

    Toppings can be anything you have on hand. I love this with a drizzle of maple syrup and fresh berries, but you could simply have it with a pat of salted butter. A smear of peanut or almond butter on top is nice on top of a warm slice, and becomes melty and delectable. Jams and jellies are also welcome additions. Or, put a slice in a bowl and add a splash of milk on top. 

    It seems crazy to claim that a dish as humble as this is life-changing, so instead I’ll say it’s ‘week changing’. It’s been nice having something more healthful ready to hand, and it’s provided a way to add much needed energy and heart-healthy fiber to my mornings.

    [click to print]
    Perfect Baked Oatmeal
    12 servings4 cups (360g) old fashioned oats
    1 cup (207g) light brown sugar, packed
    1 cup (113g) chopped walnuts
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
    4 cups (960ml) milk (tested with whole milk)
    4 eggs
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter meltedPreheat the oven to 350° F.Coat a 13×9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, sugar, nuts, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the oat mixture; pour over the melted butter. Stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated.Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the middle is well set. Cool slightly before cutting into squares.Baked oatmeal keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat slices in the microwave before serving.Notes:
    Recipe can be easily halved and baked in an 8×8 inch baking dish. Decrease bake time to 30-35 minutes.Serve with a drizzle of maple syrup, or fresh fruit. Nut butters pair well with this and make the dish even heartier. Place a warmed slice in a bowl and top with a splash of milk. Dollop with yogurt, add a handful of nuts. Jams and jellies add sweetness and taste delicious with the oats.
    link Perfect Baked Oatmeal By Heather Baird Published: Friday, January 15, 2021Friday, January 15, 2021Perfect Baked Oatmeal Recipe LEGGI TUTTO

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    Non-Alcoholic Negroni (NAgroni)

    All the delight of a negroni cocktail, but without the alcohol! This non-alcoholic negroni relies on alcohol-free gin and vermouth to make a cocktail that’s just as bold and delicious as the original. Continue reading “Non-Alcoholic Negroni (NAgroni)” » LEGGI TUTTO

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    Brioche Custard Tarts

    Photography by Joann Pai
    Shane’s rich, fluffy take on brioche tarts are made all the better with fine Irish dairy and fresh local produce. For more an intimate look at Shane’s home and his baking career, check out our blog post, In the Kitchen with Shane Smith. 

    Brioche Custard Tarts

    ½ cup (120 grams) warm whole milk (110°F/43°C to 115°F/46°C)
    3¼ teaspoons (10 grams) instant yeast
    3¼ cups (406 grams) all-purpose flour
    3 tablespoons (36 grams) castor/superfine sugar
    2¼ teaspoons (6 grams) kosher salt, divided
    5 medium eggs (235 grams), room temperature and divided
    ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (198 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
    1 teaspoon (5 grams) whole milk
    Vanilla Custard (recipe follows)
    Rhubarb Filling (recipe follows, see Note)
    ⅔ cup (213 grams) warm orange marmalade
    ½ cup (100 grams) Swedish pearl sugar

    In a small bowl, stir together warm milk and yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine flour, castor sugar, and 2 teaspoons (6 grams) salt. Add yeast mixture and 4 eggs (188 grams), and beat at medium speed until a dough forms, about 5 minutes. Gradually add butter, 1 tablespoon (14 grams) at a time, beating until combined and smooth after each addition, 10 to 15 minutes.
    Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
    Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
    Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 12 portions (about 73 grams each). Shape each portion into a smooth ball, and place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Using the palm of your hand, flatten dough balls into 4-inch disks. Using your index finger, press down in center of each disk to create a 1-inch indentation. Cover with a kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 1½ to 2 hours.
    Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
    In a small bowl, whisk together milk, remaining 1 egg (47 grams), and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Brush egg wash onto dough. Spoon Vanilla Custard into center of each dough circle; top with 4 pieces of Rhubarb Filling.
    Bake until brioche is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks. Before serving, brush with warm marmalade, and sprinkle with pearl sugar.


    Vanilla Custard

    2 cups plus 1 tablespoon (495 grams) whole milk
    1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
    6 medium egg yolks (102 grams)
    ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon (79 grams) castor/superfine sugar
    2½ tablespoons (20 grams) cornstarch
    2½ tablespoons (20 grams) all-purpose flour

    In a medium saucepan, heat milk and vanilla over medium heat until steaming. (Do not boil.) Set aside to infuse, about 5 minutes.
    In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, castor sugar, cornstarch, and flour. Slowly add warm milk mixture to egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan, and cook over medium-low heat until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
    Transfer to a medium bowl, and cover with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly onto surface of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely cool. Custard can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.


    Rhubarb Filling

    ⅓ cup plus 1½ tablespoons (102.5 grams) water
    1½ tablespoons (7.5 grams) firmly packed orange zest (from 1 orange)
    ¼ cup (60 grams) fresh orange juice (from 1 orange)
    1 tablespoon (12 grams) castor/superfine sugar
    5 rhubarb stalks (255 grams), cut into 2-inch pieces

    Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
    In a medium bowl, stir together ⅓ cup plus 1½ tablespoons (102.5 grams) water, orange zest and juice, and castor sugar. Add rhubarb, tossing to combine. Pour onto a rimmed baking sheet, and cover with foil.
    Bake for 8 minutes. Using a sharp paring knife, test rhubarb until it cuts easily but still holds its shape. If not ready, cover and bake for 3 to 4 minutes more, and test again. Let cool completely before using.

    Rhubarb Filling can be substituted with 24 medium fresh strawberries (288 grams). Stem and halve each strawberry, and place 4 halves in center of each tart.Be careful not to overcook the rhubarb. You want the pieces to retain their shape because they will be cooked again when baking the brioche.







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    5 Favorite Non-Alcoholic Wines

    As more people embrace sober curiosity and Dry January, non-alcoholic beverages are booming. You can now find plenty of mocktail recipes and bottled or canned non-alcoholic options that are more creative than just soda, juice, or seltzer.
    Whether you don’t drink at all or are simply abstaining from alcohol for a bit, there are a number of fun sips to try, including non-alcoholic wine.
    After tasting my way through a handful, here’s what I learned and the bottles I recommend.
    What to Expect From Non-Alcoholic Wine
    As someone who enjoys and appreciates the real deal, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from non-alcoholic wine.
    I knew I probably wouldn’t find a bottle that tasted exactly like real wine, since the wine-making process is what gives grape juice its wine-like characteristics: tannins, nuanced aromas, distinctive flavors, all of which are mostly removed through dealcoholizing.
    What I hoped to find, though, were options that could be sipped like wine, in a nice glass, that embody the feeling and some of the taste that comes from enjoying real wine.
    The most basic definition of wine is fermented grape juice, so to make non-alcoholic wine, you have two options: either bottle the grape juice before it’s fermented or let the grape juice ferment into wine and then dealcoholize it or remove the alcohol by distillation. (Note: dealcoholized wines do still have a bit of alcohol in them, about 0.5% ABV.)
    I sampled bottles that were made both ways: wine that was bottled before fermentation and dealcoholized wine. I found some nice choices, but interestingly the ones I liked the least were wines in which the alcohol was removed. None made my final list.
    Here are the five that did.

    Red Wine: Navarro Vineyards Pinot Noir Grape Juice
    Family-operated Navarro Vineyards, in California’s Anderson Valley, knows how to make great wine, and it turns out they also make great non-alcoholic wine. After pressing their Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer grapes, they turn most of the juice into wine but save enough to be bottled as-is.
    I found their Pinot Noir Grape Juice to be a delightful substitute for red wine, albeit more sweet than dry. Since the juice is made from wine grapes, it’s not cloying and has more complexity than plain old grape juice.
    Unlike red wine, though, it’s best served well-chilled.
    White Wine: Alain Milliat Jus Raisin Cabernet Rose Grape Juice
    Yes, this bottle is marketed as non-alcoholic rosé, but it doesn’t really pour pink; rather, I found its hue to be deep golden yellow. (I also sampled the non-alcoholic Chardonnay from this producer, but it was much too sweet and cloying to be a contender.)
    However, the French Cabernet Rose Grape Juice is made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes pressed with the tannic skin from those grapes, so it has a bit of structure. But since not all the skins are used, it also has nice, bright acidity, like you’d find in white wine.
    While the color doesn’t scream white wine, it was the closest I found and a pleasant substitute!

    Sparkling Wine: TÖST
    As you can see from my favorite non-alcoholic white wine choice, there are outliers among my picks, and TÖST is another one!
    TÖST doesn’t actually contain grapes, so if you’re a stickler, you might not deem this is a substitute for sparkling wine. However, after trying a few different bubbly options, this is the bottle that came closest to the look, feel, and festivity of sparkling wine.
    TÖST is made from white tea, white cranberry, and ginger. Since its base is tea, it has the dry, tannic structure of wine, but the cranberry and ginger soften the beverage and provide flavor and intrigue. It’s lightly sweet, with crisp bubbles and a dry finish.
    Rosé Wine: Wölffer Estate Petite Rosé Verjus
    I was excited to try this pretty pink bottle because I am a fan of this New York state vineyard’s wines. Their non-alcoholic rosé is made from verjus, which is the pressed juice of unripe wine grapes.
    Since verjus is made from unripe grapes, it’s typically too tart to be sipped as-is. But there’s a touch of sweetness in the Petite Rosé Verjus, which is made from 100% Pinot Meunier grapes (one of the three traditional varietals used in Champagne production).
    When combined with water and finished off with carbon dioxide, the result is a bright, bubbly non-alcoholic rosé that’s all too easy to drink.
    Wildcard: Proteau Ludlow Red
    Even though it looks like wine in the glass, the folks at Proteau are quick to point out that their non-alcoholic drinks are not really meant to be wine substitutes, as they are complex blends of berry juice and botanicals.
    I agree. Both bottles I tried had a bit too much going on to be sipped with food, but I think they have their place as a non-alcoholic choice for those who enjoy the body and mouthfeel of wine.
    While I wasn’t a fan of the bottle made with strawberry juice, I didn’t mind the inky, dark purple bottle called Proteau Ludlow Red, with blackberry juice as its base. Extracts from chamomile, black pepper, hibiscus, and more give it an aroma and flavor all its own. I think it would make for an interesting pre- or post-dinner non-alcoholic drink. LEGGI TUTTO