I’m so pleased to be able to feature a recipe from Anita Chu a.k.a. Dessert First and her cookbook “Field Guide to Cookies: How to Identify and Bake Virtually Every Cookie Imaginable” I’m part of a special group of bloggers that are giving you readers a special inside look into Field Guide to Cookies this week and next! The schedule is as follows:
- November 11th – use real butter
- November 12th – Baking and Books
- November 13th – Ms. Adventures in Italy (me!)
- November 14th – Cream Puffs in Venice
- November 17th – Tartelette
- November 18th – Veronica’s Test Kitchen
- November 19th – Cannelle et Vanille
- November 20th – La Tartine Gourmande
- November 21st – Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
I asked Anita to share a few things with us about her blog and her inspirations in cooking. Make sure you read Anita’s The Blog Tour! kickoff post on Dessert First with more information, and a great interview with Anita on Use Real Butter.
Ms. Adventures: Hi Anita! For many people, if they see this book in a bookstore, it may be their first introduction to your recipes, but you’ve been blogging for quite some time. Can you share two of your favorite/interesting recipes from your blog and two from other cookbooks that have inspired you?
Anita Chu: “Two of my favorite recipes from my blog are:
- Almond Apricot Frangipane Tartlets : I love this recipe because it is such a simple way to celebrate seasonal fruit and yet looks so impressive. Making puff pastry is a time-consuming process but my version of quick puff, or blitz puff, makes it easy to create these tartlets on a whim.
- Black Sesame Panna Cotta with Five Spice Peanut Brittle : One thing I love to do in the kitchen is combine my Asian roots with classic French pastry techniques. I love experimenting with different flavors and combinations – it helps me see recipes and ingredients in new ways.
Two favorite recipes from cookbooks that have inspired me:
- Bittersweet Citrus Tart with Jasmine Ice Cream from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert : This is one of my favorite cookbooks – I love the pure and simple, ingredient-oriented philosophy of Medrich. She has a unique knack for coming up with intriging new ways to use ingredients – and all her recipes are fabulous.
- Korova (World Peace) Cookies from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Baking: From my Home to Yours : Like almost every other baking blogger, I adore Dorie Greenspan – her baking skills and generosity to her readers is truly inspiring. This was one the first recipes I made from her cookbooks and it’s still one of my favorites – amazing how she can take simple ingredients and turn them into magic.”
Ms. Adventures: What appeals to you about desserts?
Anita Chu: “What I love about desserts is that they represent pure joy. When you make a dessert you are creating pleasure for other people, and when you eat a dessert you are indulging in that pleasure. I think there are few other jobs, or actions, really, in the world that so completely represent happiness. When I make a dessert I think about the flavors I enjoy, about the colors and textures that would go well together, about what I want people to think when they eat it. I really feel like it’s a form of art – edible and ephemeral, but art nonetheless.”
Thank you, Anita, for answering my questions! I definitely suggest picking up the Field Guide to Cookies: How to Identify and Bake Virtually Every Cookie Imaginable – I really enjoyed flipping through it and deciding which recipes to make. The (small) size is unique and I carried it around my kitchen as I was gathering up ingredients and checking the procedures, and I can see it being my go-to guide for future experimenting. Also, if you get a chance to look at it, I love the “guide” part of the book which means that every recipe is approached in a pragmatic fashion with a description, history and other notes! Brava, Anita!
On to the Chocolate Crinkles!
These were definitely popular amongst the bloggers on the Tour, and I knew I wanted to make mine stick out a bit so I decided to use some bright green pistachios from Bronte, Sicily (also used in my Chocolate and Pistachio Semifreddo with Cacao Nibs or Sicilian Pistachio Cookies) that I got at the Salone del Gusto and chop them up to roll the Chocolate Crinkles in them, as well as the traditional Confectioner’s/Powdered sugar version. To learn how to peel the pistachios, see below for a note on blanched pistachios!
Pistachio and Chocolate Crinkles Recipe
Slightly modified, from Anita Chu’s Field Guide to Cookies. The original version does not call for Bronte pistachios, but you can use them instead of the more traditional powdered sugar. Also, if your powdered sugar starts to clump up, sift it or break it up as the sugar needs to be quite loose so it cracks correctly. I gave one round of my cookies some “help” by slightly flattening the balls before cooking.
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Confectioners’ sugar for rolling
1/4 cup Bronte pistachios, skinned and chopped in mini-prep for rolling (optional)
- Melt chocolate and butter in a bain marie / double boiler or a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally until evenly melted. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and eggs on medium speed for several minutes until thick and smooth. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate mixture, and beat on medium-low until combined.
- Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
- Add flour mixture, and mix until combined.
- Cover dough and chill in refrigerator for about 2 hours or until firm enough to scoop.
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Roll 1-inch balls of dough in confectioners’ sugar, coating completely. Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through, until they just start to feel firm. Cool sheets on wire racks for about 5 minutes before transferring cookies directly to wire racks with a metal spatula to finish cooling.
Bronte Pistachios and Getting that Vivid Green Nut – How to Blanch Pistachios
This can be a time-consuming process, but it’s worth it to get that clean, vibrant green color!
- Boil some water and pour it over the pistachios.
- Let them sit for only about a minute, then rinse them in a colander with cold water.
- Rub the pistachios in your hands, trying to squeeze the nut out of the skin. You can also put them in a clean tea towel and rub to help the process.
I had a great time participating on the Field Guide to Cookies: How to Identify and Bake Virtually Every Cookie Imaginable Book Tour! And readers, stay tuned as I share another recipe from the Field Guide to Cookies next week!