Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Yes, I'm Alive, and Will Be Back to Recipe Blogging Soon!

Hi everyone! Happy almost-Halloween! So, as some of you may have noticed, my last blog post was in late May. That's a whopping 5 months ago. Sigh. I've been acutely aware of this for awhile, and was hoping (surely, in denial), that no one had noticed. But then I got an email yesterday from a lovely reader in Michigan who essentially wanted to know if I was still alive, and OK, and what's going to happen to the blog. All great questions. And that email solidified my worst fear that my blog neglect hadn't gone unnoticed.

So, I'm here to tell you...yes, I'm alive, I'm fine, I'm still baking, I'm still breathing, I'm still happy, I just got really busy and am trying to figure out how to adjust my schedule to fit in this food blogging/baking passion of mine and still get sleep at night! :)

Just a few days after my last post (way back in May), a life changing event happened to me...a really great one...and it's been a whirlwind ever since!

I got engaged!

And then shortly after that, I moved!

But enough with the excuses. Blogging will return. I'm prepping a post this week. Talk to you then!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Fleur de Sel on Top

I was sifting through Leite's Culinaria (one of my favorite recipe websites of all time; definitely go there after you're done reading my entire post ;) ) when I happened upon a chocolate chip cookie recipe that claimed to be the ultimate version. I was intrigued by the recipe because first of all, it was making quite the claim, and secondly, it had just enough interesting changes from a more traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe that the claim actually seemed possible. Notice the cake flour and bread flour called for in the recipe. Neither of those ingredients is standard in a basic chocolate chip cookie. Maybe those are the two top secret ingredients that put a chocolate cookie over the edge into Cookie Stardom. I had to know for sure!

So I whipped up a batch of dough, tossed the bowl of dough in the fridge, and waited anxiously for a miserable 24 hours to bake it the following night. If you're wondering why I had to wait a night, it's because the recipe said to wait (it's not because I'm into self-inflicting pain), and I wanted to follow this recipe to a T so I could give it a proper assessment of its worthiness to be called "Ultimate." Fast forward to the next night, and I scooped mounds of dough onto my baking sheet, sprinkled fleur de sel on top of each mound, and baked them for no more than 10 minutes.

It might sound ridiculous, but even just looking at them when they came out of the oven, I could tell these were a special breed of chocolate chip cookie. They had exactly the right coloring, the right thickness, and a heavenly aroma. Of course the first bite was what truly did me in and sealed the deal.

These cookies deserve the "Ultimate" title. A cookie doesn't get any more perfect than this.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Fleur de Sel on Top
Adapted from a recipe in Leite's Culinaria, originally from Jacques Torres
Makes about 4 dozen small cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped (can use disks, bars, or chips), at least 60 percent cacao content
Fleur de sel or other sea salt for sprinkling on top

Sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt in a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until light and smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients just until combined. This should only take about 10 seconds; do not overmix or you'll have tough cookies. Add in the chopped chocolate and mix to incorporate. Cover the dough with plastic wrap by pressing the wrap directly over the surface of the dough in the bowl and chill in the fridge for 24 to 36 hours. Feel free to use only a portion of the dough at a time for up to 72 hours. That way you can keep making fresh small batches of cookies as you desire them!

To bake the cookies, first preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper.

Scoop heaping teaspoon-sized balls of dough onto the baking sheet, leaving at least an inch between cookies. Flatten any chocolate pieces that are sticking straight up so that they are lying horizontally. Then sprinkle the top of each mound of dough with fleur de sel. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until a very light golden brown, but pale enough that they look a little underdone. That will ensure they are chewy! Remove from the oven and place the cookie sheet on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies from the sheet directly to a wire rack.

Enjoy this perfect cookie with a tall glass of milk!

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Cream together the butter and sugars...

Add the eggs, one at a time...

Beat in the vanilla...

On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients...

Mix in the chopped chocolate, then chill the dough in the fridge for at least 24 hours...

Scoop mounds of dough onto the baking sheet...

Sprinkle each mound of dough with fleur de sel...

Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes...

Take a bite!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins: Breakfast or Dessert?

My aunt and uncle gave me a cookbook for my birthday back in January called Peanut Butter Sweets, and every single recipe in the book uses peanut butter. They know the way to my heart (or is it mouth or stomach?).

So, one recent sunny Sunday afternoon, I was craving a peanut butter snack, as is often the case, and I decided to head to my peanut butter cookbook. I had all the ingredients on hand to make these simple and totally scrumptious peanut butter muffins. I added chocolate chips to them because the only thing better than peanut butter is when you pair it with chocolate.

I cut into a muffin, hot out of the oven, and it not only took care of my craving, but it was impressively moist and peanut buttery, with chocolate chips that were ooey gooey, and a cross section featuring a perfect crumb. And that makes it something I'd do again without hesitation.

Thank you, Aunt Debbie and Uncle Phil, for the cookbook!

And now to stump you with what's stumping me, I must ask, is a peanut butter chocolate chip muffin a breakfast item? Or a dessert?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from a recipe by Pamela Bennett in Peanut Butter Sweets
Makes 12 large muffins or 36 mini muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I recommend using Skippy rather than a natural brand)
2 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners or grease or spray each cup. I prefer greasing the cups over using paper liners.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Transfer these dry ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the peanut butter and butter and beat just until you see coarse crumbs forming. Add the milk and eggs and mix just until well combined. Don't overmix. Gently stir in the chocolate chips. The batter will be thick and gloppy.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup 3/4 full. Bake for about 15 minutes.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Add the sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir together...

Add the peanut butter and butter and blend...

Once coarse crumbs form, stir in the milk and eggs...

But don't overmix!

Gently stir in the chocolate chips...

Fill each greased muffin cup about 3/4 full...

Bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean...


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Copenhagen Pastry: The Place for Authentic Danish Pastries and One of the Overall Best Bakeries in Los Angeles!

Copenhagen Pastry, located in Culver City on Washington Blvd., just a block east of the 405, is a truly authentic Danish bakery. Everything from the kringles to the people serving you are the real deal. I went to their grand opening awhile back and have been a huge fan ever since. The selection is not enormous, but all the right things are on their simple menu and the prices are very reasonable at just $1.85 per pastry. Lots of almond paste, cinnamon, butter, sugar, and flaky, flaky dough. Yum!

Well, today I learned there's a 6 minute 40 second mini-documentary of the bakery interviewing Karen Hansen, who I see every time I go, and Henrik Gram, the master baker, who I will now have to introduce myself to next time I'm there! In the film, they take you behind the scenes into the kitchen so you can watch how they make their authentic danishes! I love this video. I love Copenhagen Pastry. Go right away! Tell them Happy Go Marni sent you!

The Details
Copenhagen Pastry
11113 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA

Monday, February 11, 2013

Coconut Butter Brownies: I'm Officially Cuckoo for Coconut Oil!

I've heard a lot of good things about coconut oil, everything from the taste, to the health benefits, to how great it works as a baking ingredient. This week, I used coconut oil to make Coconut Butter Brownies! It was my first time ever using this ingredient. I found it at my local Trader Joe's store. And the only other time I'd encountered it was at my parents' house, because my dad makes a mean popcorn with coconut oil for movie nights at home.

Coconut oil, at least the kind Trader Joe's sells, is not as thin and liquidy as you might expect. It's much more of a grainy paste - very soft and spreadable, and very unlike olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola, and other common cooking oils. But, if you put coconut oil in the microwave and melt it down, it will become that thin liquid you're so familiar with for oil.

Anyways, the brownies came out GREAT. The fat called for in the recipe is half butter, half coconut oil. That ratio definitely gives it a distinct coconut taste that sets it apart from other brownie recipes, but to me, it seemed mild enough that picky eaters who wouldn't normally go for coconut desserts might still really enjoy this. My taste-tester friends, however, reported a very obvious coconut taste (and for most of them, that was a very good thing!), so I suppose if you're not so keen on coconut, this might not be the recipe for you.

The texture is moist but with some mealiness to it. The top gets that beautiful brownie crust, but the inside is soft and chewy and utter perfection. I'll be making these again! And if you tell yourself that coconut oil has all those health benefits, then hey, this recipe is good for you! I'm officially CUCKOO FOR COCONUT OIL!

Coconut Butter Brownies
Adapted from a recipe by Marcy Goldman on

1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil, slightly melted and stirred (looks almost like a soft grainy paste - I get mine from Trader Joe's!)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease or spray the bottom and sides of a 9x9-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Alternatively, line the pan with foil and spray the foil.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the melted butter and coconut oil with the white and brown sugars. Add the vanilla and eggs and blend on low until well incorporated. Remove bowl from the mixer.

In a separate medium-size bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients gently, just until incorporated. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl because you'll probably find some of the flour mixture still at the bottom!

Spread the batter evenly into the pan. The batter is really thick and won't slide around so you'll need to even it out with the back of a spoon or offset spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Do not overbake. Err on the side of underbaking if you're not sure because a moist brownie is always better than a dry one! The center of the brownie should look set, not jiggling.

Cool the pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares to serve. Store in an airtight container. Feel free to serve with powdered sugar dusted on top at the last second before serving.

Makes 12-20 depending on size. I prefer smaller, bite-size brownie squares.

Step-by-Step in Pictures

This is the coconut oil I used. It looks like clear liquid when melted down from the white paste in the jar...

Beat the butter and coconut oil with the sugars...

Beat in the vanilla and eggs...

Combine the dry ingredients (flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt) in a separate bowl and then fold into the wet ingredients...

Spread the batter into the greased pan. The mixture will be thick...

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes...

Cut into squares and enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hanukkah is Happier with Sufganiyot from Bibi's Bakery & Cafe!

It wouldn't be Hanukkah without jelly donuts, known also by their Hebrew name Sufganiyot. And I couldn't be more thrilled to find out that one of my favorite spots in LA is serving them up all Hanukkah-long.

Bibi's Bakery & Cafe in the kosher Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles is a GREAT place for a tuna melt, a Greek salad, a pita toastee, shakshukah, babka, challah, and now sufganiyot! When Bibi's switched ownership and Dan Messinger became the new captain of the ship, everything improved, from the menu, to the signage, ambiance, customer service, and even the marketing...they're now on Facebook offering up plenty of food porn pics and social media discounts! Basically, Dan is really Dan the Man.

While I already consider myself a regular customer there, I hope that soon enough I can get around to ordering a bunch of the aforementioned savory items all at once, take some pics, and share all that with you on this blog (especially because Bibi's tuna melt is in my top 3 favorite tuna melts of all time), but for now, go get yourself some sufganiyot! In addition to the traditional jelly-filled donuts, Bibi's is offering custard-filled and chocolate-filled! Price is $1.50 per donut, and they are a hefty, honkin' good size.

Happy Hanukkah!

Bibi's Bakery & Cafe
8928 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
(310) 246-1788
Strictly kosher dairy/pareve
Official Website:
Facebook Page:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Move Over, Peanut Butter! I'm Nutty for Almond Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies!

Peanut butter will always have a special place in my heart. It's one of my favorite ingredients of all time, and the flavor combination of peanut butter and chocolate is arguably (am I arguing with myself?) my all time favorite. But man, oh man, I have to tell you, I feel a little disloyal to peanut butter as I share this recipe with you. Because here's a cookie that features not peanut butter, but ALMOND butter, and it's as good as or better than any peanut butter cookie recipe I've ever had EVER. Whew! That hurt to say.

I remember vividly the day I made this cookie. My brother was moving to LA for school so my mom was in town helping out with the move. While they were out and about running errands, dealing with the housing office, and other assorted not-so-fun tasks, I was in the kitchen making, unbeknownst to me, what would become one of my favorite cookies of all time. As I took the last tray of cookies out of the oven to cool, my mom and brother called to say they had accidentally left some important housing paperwork at my apartment and were going to head over to pick it up. They were in a huge rush and would need me to run down to the street to hand them the paperwork.

So naturally, I grabbed a Tupperware container and plopped a bunch of cookies in it for them. My mom and brother were going to need some almond butter chocolate chunk cookies for the road, I figured. Moving Day will be so much better with cookies!

A few minutes later, I got a call on my cell phone and it was them, pulling up to the front of my building and needing me to run down with the paperwork. I put my flip flops on, grabbed the paperwork and the container of cookies, and ran downstairs. I presented them with the care package and they seemed excited and thanked me. Then they drove off.

I ran back upstairs, and just a few minutes later, I got another call on my cell phone. It was them again. "Something wrong?" I asked. Well yes, something was the matter. They were calling to let me know that they'd run out of cookies. They had eaten the entire container within a mile or two of my apartment.

And THAT, my friends, is how you know you've made a good cookie. That, or my mom and brother have zero willpower. :)

Move over peanut butter, there's a new nut butter in town. I'm nutty for almond butter cookies!

Almond Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Adapted from a recipe by Emily Luchetti in Fearless Baker
Makes at least 4 dozen cookies

1/2 cup sliced almonds
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 cup almond butter
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces dark chocolate (58 to 62 percent cacao suggested, but any semisweet or dark will work fine), chopped or broken into tiny pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place one rack in the upper third of the oven and another rack in the lower third. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

Toast the almonds in one layer on a foil-lined baking sheet until light golden brown, about 8 minutes. I used a toaster oven, but you can use the oven, too. Do not go too far away from the kitchen because nuts burn easily! Let the almonds cool, then chop them into smaller pieces. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the almond butter, then add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well incorporated and smooth. Remove from the mixer and stir in the chopped chocolate and almonds with a wooden spoon.

Scoop tablespoon-fuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart. Feel free to make the mounds of dough larger or smaller (just adjust the baking time accordingly). With the bottom of a glass, flatten each mound of dough slightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned but the center still feels soft. Do not overbake them; err on the side of underbaking since they'll continue cooking a bit as they cool. Halfway through baking, swap the two tray locations so they bake evenly. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Beat the butter and sugar together...

Beat in the egg...

Beat in the almond butter...

Beat in the flour, baking soda, and salt...

Stir in the chopped chocolate and almonds...

Scoop tablespoonfuls of dough onto a prepared baking sheet...

Use the bottom of a glass to flatten the top of each mound of dough...

Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes...
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