Archive for the ‘Cookies and Bars’ Category

Zucchini Bars

Friday, July 31st, 2020

 

My farm share has included zucchini now for a couple of weeks. I’ve put it in a lot of stir fries. Yesterday, however, I felt compelled to bake … so I made these easy bars or squares or brownies or whatever you’d like to call them. They’re light and chock full of the green stuff.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) melted sweet butter
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup sugar
1 egg. beaten
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup flour

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-by-8-inch pan with foil and then grease and flour the foil.

Stir together the melted butter and the sugar, followed by the grated zucchini. Mix in the egg, stirring well to incorporate; then add the baking soda, the baking powder, the salt, and the cinnamon. Stir in the flour, and pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the concoction comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Makes about 16 squares, depending on how big you cut them.

Cider and Autumn

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

I’m not much of a cider drinker in general. When cider comes fresh from a local orchard, however, I can’t resist it.

This weekend my area in western Massachusetts will once again celebrate Franklin County Cider Days. Hard cider is now very chic—but we loved it before it was chic; this festival has been going on for more than two decades.

This year’s offerings include an amateur-cider-making competition, a cider dinner (already sold out!), tastings, lectures, and cooking demonstrations. I’m not involved this year, but even without me the weekend will be full of fun and flavor.

So when I went on Mass Appeal this morning to celebrate Halloween I felt that I should make something cider related. I only spearheaded one segment myself; the cidery in my own town of Hawley, Headwater Cider, sent a representative to make some pretty snazzy cocktails with Headwater’s hard cider.

My segment was simpler but also tasty. I mulled some cider. To me, mulling cider and Halloween go together; when the door keeps opening to admit trick or treaters, it’s nice to have something warming on the stove.

Because mulling cider is such a snappy recipe, I also made some of my chock-full oatmeal cookies. They go beautifully with the cider—and they’re a great Halloween offering for any trick or treaters who can’t eat chocolate.

Happy Halloween! Happy Cider Season!

Mulled Cider

Ingredients:

1/2 gallon apple cider (use the best quality you can find, from a farm/orchard if possible)
4 cinnamon sticks
several cloves (whole)
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 cup brown sugar or maple syrup (optional, but useful if your cider is on the tart side; mine definitely didn’t need the additional sweetness)

Instructions:

Combine the ingredients in a heavy saucepan. If you want to avoid a mess, put the spices in a cheesecloth bag or infuser. Or just ladle around them at the end (my choice).

Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a VERY low setting and simmer, almost covered, for 20 to 30 minutes. Serves 8.

And now the videos:

Cider Cocktails from Headwater Cider

Tinky Makes Mulled Cider and Chock-Full Oatmeal Cookies

A Belated (but fun!) Halloween

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

I don’t get trick or treaters here in the wilds of western Massachusetts, but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying Halloween this year. My house was festooned with my favorite fall decorations on Tuesday. Cocoa the dog reluctantly donned her turtle costume. And I made Halloween treats with my friends on the show Mass Appeal.

Actually, the first recipe we prepared wasn’t a treat; it was a hearty soup I recommend for Halloween night (or any other fall evening). Pam’s Country Ham and Potato Soup (the recipe is here; I shared it a few years ago) is so warming and delicious I don’t want dessert after dining on it.

I did feel the need to feature a treat on the air as well, however, so we made festive sweets from the recipe box of one of my area’s best bakers, Paula Rice of Charlemont. In plastic wrap or a sandwich bag, they’re an ideal hand out for trick-or-treaters. They’re also tasty all fall long. (Paula reports that she hasn’t made them yet this year, but she’s going to!)

The recipe below is Paula’s. Instead of her filling, I used my traditional cream-cheese frosting. Either way, the pies are welcomed by adults and children. They taste like pumpkin, spice, and fall.

Paula’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Ingredients:

for the cookies:

1 pound light brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I use Canola)
2 eggs
1-3/4 to 2 cups pumpkin puree (freshly cooked and mashed, or a 15-ounce can)
1 teaspoon each cinnamon, cloves, and ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour

for the filling:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the cookies: Combine the sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, and spices in a large bowl, mixing well. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla, mixing well. Stir in the flour 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Lightly grease baking sheets or line them with parchment or silicone. Drop rounded 2-tablespoon portions of dough onto the sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are firm. (A slight indentation where your finger tests them is allowable.)

Cool the cookies completely; then get ready to fill.

Beat together the filling ingredients, and spread them between whoopie layers. If you’re NOT handing these out to children in bags, feel free to decorate the tops as well.

This recipe makes about 20 filled pies. If you wish, you may make your whoopie pies bigger or smaller than indicated. (Paula likes small ones.)

If you make them bigger, you may have to cook them a little longer; smaller, a little less time.

And now the videos:

Tinky Makes Pam’s Country Ham and Potato Soup on Mass Appeal

Tinky Makes Paula’s Pumpkin Whoopie Pies on Mass Appeal

Saying Goodbye

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Last week I said goodbye to my friend Seth Stutman, who has been the co-host of Mass Appeal as long as I have been appearing on the show. Seth has always been a generous host, willing to make his guests look good and display their wit—and I have come to think of him as a dear friend.

“Goodbye” might be too strong a word; I hope to see Seth again in the future! I won’t be seeing him, or appearing with him, on Mass Appeal, however. He was ready for a change and has found another job in Western Massachusetts that will display his intelligence and people skills. The new folks are lucky to have him!

I will continue to appear on the show with the lively Lauren Zenzie and her new co-host, Danny New. They are very, very young—but I don’t hold that against them! I keep hoping a bit of their youth will rub off on me. I’ll miss dear Seth, however.

On his last show, three of his favorite cooks came in to prepare party food. I made the cookies below, which my friend Janice gave me when I got my Ph.D. They may look familiar; they are a version of the infamous inauthentic but delicious Neiman Marcus Chocolate-Chip Cookies.

When I noted during the segment that the recipe made complex cookies, Seth responded that I myself was a complex cookie. Really, how could one not love this boy?

After the show, the hosts, the guests, and the production people gathered to nibble and to wish Seth well. I sang him a slightly altered version of “You Made Me Love You,” because that’s how I feel about him.

I may seem a bit TOO sentimental in the video below, but I maintain that there’s nothing wrong with a little sentiment!

The Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1-1/4 cups blended oatmeal (oatmeal pulverized into a powder in your blender)
1/2 cup pecans, also pulverized (optional but good)
1 cup chocolate chips
2 ounces milk chocolate, cut into small chunks

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter and the sugars. Beat in the egg, followed by the baking powder and salt. Stir in the flour; then the oatmeal, pecans, and chocolate.

Shape the dough into balls—either 6 large ones or 12 medium ones. Place them on parchment- or silicone-covered cookie sheets, flatten them with your hand (they don’t really spread), and bake them until the brown nicely, at least 12 to 14 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a couple of minutes; then remove them to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 6 to 12 cookies—or even more smaller ones!

And now the video….

Graduation Day Chocolate-Chip Cookies for Seth

A Fluffy Anniversary

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Marshmallow fluff turns 100 this year—sort of. Just about everyone in Massachusetts grew up loving this glossy, sticky substance, which was invented in our state. The humble fluffernutter is our semi-official state sandwich.

Mimi Graney, who organizes the annual “What the Fluff” festival in Somerville, shares her enthusiasm for what she learned while researching fluff’s history in her new book fluff: The Sticky Sweet Story of an American Icon.

As Graney explains, the starting date the Durkee-Mower company uses for its signature (and in fact only) product is a bit arbitrary.

Marshmallow crème or cream—a combination of sugar, egg whites, corn syrup, and vanilla—had been popular for at least a couple of decades when Canadian immigrant Archibald Query started selling his version of the concoction door to door in Somerville in the 1910s.

Increasing federal regulations and World-War-I sugar shortages caused Query to go to work at a candy factory. There he eventually met two veterans returning from the war, Fred Mower and Allen Durkee.

Anxious to make a name for themselves, Mower and Durkee purchased Query’s recipe and started selling their marshmallow fluff in 1920. Later trademark issues led the pair to try to identify its year of origin, and they chose 1917 as an educated guess about when Query first made the product.

Even if fluff isn’t precisely 100 years old this year, Graney makes an excellent case for celebrating it. She acknowledges fluff’s popularity as a nostalgia item and a food that tastes darn good.

She also argues that Durkee and Mower created an innovative, adaptable, and above all honest business model that has stood the test of time. A descendant of Allen Durkee still runs the company, and fluff continues to sell extremely well, particularly here in New England.

Graney’s description of that business is chatty but informative. Durkee-Mower pioneered in radio advertising in the 1920s. In its prime, the company’s programming featured musicians known as the Flufferettes. I’d love to have sung as a Flufferette!

Durkee-Mower cleverly promoted its product with recipes: the “never fail fudge” even I, a food writer, make on occasion when I’m in a hurry; a version of Rice Krispie® treats that save time by using fluff instead of melting marshmallows; the fluffernutter; and many more.

Above all, Durkee-Mower made one product efficiently and well.

fluff is full of vintage photographs and advertisements, along with myriad fun facts. I had never considered the considerable impact of the invention of the egg beater on the home cook until I read Graney’s history.

Inspired by the book, I decided to incorporate a little more fluff into my kitchen. I adapted the rice-cereal treats for an adult palate by adding a bit of espresso powder and drizzling white chocolate over the top.

I THOUGHT the coffee treats were an original idea—until I saw similar recipes all over the internet. Alas, this world allows very few original recipes.

Naturally, I prepared the treats and talked about fluff on Mass Appeal last week. I hope readers will make these bars, or something else fluffy, to celebrate this year’s sweet anniversary.

Fluffy Crispy Coffee Bars

Ingredients:

3 to 5 ounces good-quality white chocolate, in chip form or chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter
1 7-1/2-ounce jar marshmallow fluff
2 generous tablespoons espresso powder (I use Williams-Sonoma’s brand)
6 cups crisped rice cereal

Instructions:

Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with plastic wrap, and spray the sides and bottom of the lined pan with canola-oil spray.

Place the chocolate pieces in the top half of a double boiler to melt.

While the chocolate is melting, melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over low heat. When the butter has melted add the fluff and continue to stir. When the fluff has almost melted stir in the espresso powder. Continue to stir over low heat until all is melted and blended.

Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the cereal. Using a spoon sprayed with canola-oil spray, spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, and smooth it out.

Drizzle the melted chocolate on top of the cereal mixture. Let the pan cool until the chocolate has hardened; then cut the confection into bars.

Makes about 30 bars. (The yield depends on how big you want to cut them; I prefer small pieces.)

And now the video…..

Fluffy Crispy Coffee Bars