Monday, October 12, 2009

Peanut Butter Frosting

DSC_0008, originally uploaded by Tracy La Dolce Vita.

I made these cupcakes for my boyfriend's dad, who has the biggest sweet tooth ever (which I love!)

They were something I put together quickly, the base is just chocolate cake mix, doctored up with coffee instead of water in the mix, and the frosting is a delicious and simple recipe from Epicurious. I chopped peanuts and toasted them in a pan quickly and sprinkled on top.

Peanut Butter Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients. To decorate, I filled a large Ziploc bag with the frosting, cut a quarter size hole from the corner, and pipe a circle onto the cupcake. With a spatula, flatten it out. Sprinkle with toasted chopped peanuts.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Light Summer Wines

Okay, it's been a very long time since I've posted, I've been busy (relaxing at the beach, that is). I'm working on a post detailing a very exciting and beer-filled Saturday I recently spent in Brooklyn, but I wanted to get back to the blog and post about two new wines I've recently enjoyed.

Both are extremely light, crisp white wines, the perfect thing to enjoy with an outdoor lunch or dinner before the summer's over. The first is Bastianich Friulano (formerly Tocai Friulano), a personal favorite anytime I dine in a Bastianich/Batali restaurant. It's very drinkable, sort of plain but enjoyable.

Secondly, I suggest the Grooner Gruner Veltliner. This is a crisp, fruity white wine with just a touch of acidity. It's packaged with a screwcap in a bottle with hip, cartoony art- it's a fun, lighthearted, not so "serious" wine.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brooklyn Beer, Part 1

So as promised, here's part 1 of a recap of a great day devoted to beer. My friends and I sampled a variety of beers at two different locations in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

We started out with a tour and tasting at the Brooklyn Brewery. If you live in one of the boroughs and are looking for something different to do, this is it. Plan to drink all day and hang out with your friends. Bring a deck of cards.

Walking in the brewery, your nose is assaulted with the smell of beer, in a good way, not in the stale frathouse sense. We purchased tokens to redeem for beer (6 tokens for $20, each beer is 1 token), and then made our way to the "bar" area. It was really just a large room set up with Italian restaurant-style red checkered tablecloths. We found a seat, and made our way up to the bar, where they had a variety of Brooklyn beers on tap. The classics, like the Brooklyn Lager, Pilsner, and Brown Ale were available, as were varieties not available in liquor stores.

I started with the Sorachi Ace, a Saison-style beer that was crisp and lemony, with hints of pepper- a very interesting, different beer. At first I didn't like it, but as I kept drinking I realized it was a very complex and interesting variety. We moved onto the Blast, an IPA with an incredibly floral, perfumy aroma. The taste was sharp and citrusy, and very drinkable, especially when compared to many other IPAs, though not my favorite of the day. It's very perfumey in aroma, which I find to be a little distracting. We also sampled the Brooklyn Local 1, a light, yeasty beer with fruit and hint of coriander (very similar to Hoegaarden). Enjoyable. We ordered Fratelli's pizza (a solid B, decent but if you're in NY you can do WAY better) to the brewery, and sat around our picnic table drinking until tour time.

Well, that's if you could call it a tour. It was really just an assembly; basically someone brings you into a room where the vats are filled with yeast and gives some information on the types of beer brewed, how it's brewed, and the history of the brewery (the building used to house a matzoh ball factory!) Informative and ideally short, after 30 minutes of talking about beer, you just want to drink it, right?
All in all, it was a very enjoyable stop, informative and fun to sample lots of beers. The highlight is tasting beers you can't ordinarily find in a grocery store (and you get them straight from the source! Yes, the taste is slightly better. The bottled stuff isn't even made in Brooklyn).

If you go:
  • Sample the more unusual beers; the Pilsner, Lager, Pennant, Brown, and EIPA are all readily available in liquor stores, and all taste like variations on the same formula, but the options in the brewery showcase a much wider range of flavors and styles.
  • Bring cash! There's lots of fun souvenir stuff to buy, including coasters, tees, and glasses, plus it's popular to order delivery to the brewery.
  • Tours run on the hour, starting at noon on weekends.
  • Located at 79 N 11th St. in Williamsburg.
  • Phone: (718) 486-7422
  • Website:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jalapeno Cucumber Margarita

After about two straight months of rain, it finally feels like summer here in Jersey. It's hot out, the boardwalk is packed with New Yorkers, and I can't stop making tropical drinks. My go to is a classic margarita (a real one, no bottled mixes for me!), but during a recent backyard barbeque I decided to try this spicy twist on the classic.

The Jalapeno Cucumber margarita involves sugar muddled with jalapeno for heat and cucumber for a refreshing twist, topped off with tequila and orange liqueur. The taste is similar to a regular margarita, only with a bit of heat that lingers after you swallow. If you don't like it too hot, find a milder pepper, and if you're really into spiciness, well now's a great time to pull out the Scotch Bonnets.

Jalapeno Cucumber Margarita, adapted from Stephen Kittredge Cunningham's The Bartender's Black Book **

Makes 1 drink
2 tsp sugar
4 jalapeno slices, cut 1/8 in thick
4 cucumber slices, cut 1/8 in thick
1 1/2 oz tequila
1/2 oz orange liqueur (I used Triple Sec)
1/2 oz lime juice

Rim the edge of a margarita glass with a slice of lime and dip into kosher salt.
In a mixing glass, muddle the sugar, jalapeno, cucumber, and lime juice together.
Fill glass with ice.
Add tequila and orange liqueur.
Shake, and pour into margarita glass.
Garnish with additional cucumber and jalapeno slices, if desired.

If spice isn't your thing, for a great Classic Margarita mix 3 parts tequila with 2 parts lime juice and 1 part triple sec. Shake over ice and pour into salted glass!

I'm bringing this margarita to Louise's Online Picnic! What are you bringing?

**I highly, highly recommend this book!! It is packed with tons of drink recipes, categorized alphabetically and by spirit, along with information on mixing, wine, beer, and how to make common mix-ins like sour mix, grenadine, and syrups.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hash Brown Skillet

Eggs are my specialty and one of my favorite things to make. I love coming up with ideas for new brunches, and I have perfected my eggs in all forms. My best friend Jenn always says I make the best scrambled eggs. This breakfast here is one of my favorites. It was inspired by the skillet, my favorite breakfast at a local breakfast restaurant. A skillet is hash browns, topped with eggs, and possibly cheese or vegetables.

My skillet today is the basics. I made my homemade hash browns, jazzed up with fresh chopped rosemary, bacon, and tomatoes, and topped with two fried eggs. It's great to add cheese too, although I didn't.
So I start with the potatoes. I find hash browns work best if you partially cook the potatoes before, otherwise when you try to fry them, if you haven't sliced or chopped them thinly enough,
they'll burn on the outside before cooking through. I use 2 red bliss or Yukon Gold potatoes, and I just steam them in the Reynolds steam bags for 3 minutes in the microwave. I let them cool for a minute or so, then I peel the skins off (very easy to do when they are hot, but don't burn yourself!) and then chop them up.

I then heat up a skillet and toss in about some red pepper flakes, 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of oil. You can use more or less, depending on taste and diet preferences. Also, the type of pan you use is critical for crispiness. If you prefer your hash browns softer, use a non-stick skillet. This kind of steams them, as the non-stick coating acts as a barrier to creating a real crust. If you like them crunchier, cast iron is the way to go.

Let the butter foam up a bit and toss them in (this is also where you could toss in other vegetables, like onions or peppers).

Leave the potatoes alone for about five minutes, then give the pan a good shake to crisp up the other sides. Add more oil/butter if needed, and season with salt and peper to taste, as well as any other herbs you like. Here I used fresh rosemary, since I had some extra hanging around.

I made some bacon as well. I could have thrown that in with the potatoes, but for calories' sake I put a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and cooked them in the oven, so the excess fat and grease could be thrown away, instead of absorbed into my potatoes (not that that's a bad thing!)

This will take about 10-15 minutes, but they are very forgiving. When they are done, just cover the pan. The residual heat will keep them warm.

While they cook, get your eggs ready. I like my eggs sunny side up, but I cook them in a pan with the cover on. That way, the top of the egg kind of steams to get cooked, but the yolk remains runny.

Here's what it will look like when finished. I chopped a tomato and added it in at the very end, just for a kind of fresh taste to break up the buttery starchiness.
Here's the finished dish! I mixed up the potato and bacon, then topped with my eggs and a little sprig of rosemary for a garnish. The runny yolk gets absorbed by the potatoes and it is soo delicious.

Here's a close up.
MMMM. So good.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lemon Cream Tart

This was the dessert I made for a recent family event. I'd been dying to have a reason to try Dorie's Lemon Cream tart, and I thought it made a perfect springy dessert.

And I was right. Let me tell you, this is without a doubt the most delicious thing I've ever made. I suppose my love of lemon makes me slightly biased, but honestly, it was wonderful. My mom and I ate it two pieces at a time. (which I actually don't recommend because after we were both completely stuffed- it's very rich!)

Making the tart itself was fun. My shell came out a little imperfect as I have an 11" tart pan, and the recipe made a shell for an 9" pan. I managed to stretch it a bit, unfortunately it didn't have that perfect professional look on the sides, but we'll just call it rustic. And maybe next time I should check things before I rush into them.

Making the cream was unlike anything I've ever done for a dessert. It involved making a lemon curd over a double boiler and then mixing it up in a blender with TONS of butter. The result is an absolutely amazing, creamy, sweet lemon filling, that I could not stop spooning out of the bowl and eating.

I then candied slices of lemon to decorate the tart. This is an incredibly simple thing to do. I sliced lemon very, very thin, and boiled it with a cup of sugar and 1 and 1/2 cups of water until the lemon slices were translucent (that's how you know they're not bitter anymore). I laid them out on a paper towel, sprinkled with sugar for a sparklyish effect, and let them hang out until tart time.
In keeping with my "rustic" shell, I went for a rustic look on the filling. I spread it out into the shell, and used the back of a teaspoon to "lift" up the filling sporadically across the tart- that's those peaks you see. You use the back of the spoon to make a small circles all over the filling, and lift the spoon when you're done with each circle. I topped with my candied lemon, and then I ate a billion slices.

Sweet Tart Dough, from Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 tbsp very cold unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, salt, confectioner's sugar in a food process and pulse to blend. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. You will have pieces in all different sizes. Stir the yolk and add it a little at a time, pulsing to blend for about 10 seconds after each addition. The dough will form clumps and curds, and as you continue processing, the sound of the machine will change, indicating that it's done. Turn the dough out, and knead it to incorporate any dry ingredients.

Butter a 9" tart pan. Press the dough evenly on the bottom and up the sides, being careful not to overwork it, lest the dough lose its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for 30 minutes before baking. (Or, if not baking immediately, freeze for up to 2 months).

To bake, butter the shiny side of tin foil and fit it, buttered side down, on the crust. Bake it for 25 minutes, and if anything puffs (it shouldn't, as you froze it) just press it down with a spoon.

Lemon Cream Filling (also Dorie Greenspan)

1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 sticks plus 5 tbsp butter, cut into tbsp size pieces, at room temp

You will also need a blender, a pan of simmering water and bowl to set over it (ie a double boiler), and instant read thermometer. I suppose it's better to have a pastry or candy thermometer, but I just used the one we normally stick in a roast.

Rub the sugar and lemon zest together in your double boiler bowl until fragrant. Whisk in the four eggs and lemon juice.

Set the bowl over the pan of simmering water and place your thermometer in it. Begin whisking it when it feels tepid. Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 180 degrees. It will be close to 180 when the whisk starts to leave track marks in the cream. Don't stop whisking yet, but be aware that you will be close to finishing.

As soon as it reaches 180, strain it into the blender. You can discard the zest. Let it stand until it reaches 140 degrees. You can stir it occasionally to let some air in and help speed the cooling process, but it will most likely take a good 10 minutes. (During this time feel free to enjoy licking the lemon/egg mix out of the sieve like I did).

Turn the blender on high and with the machine running, add the butter 5 pieces at a time. (If you're afraid of splattering lemon cream all over your kitchen it's okay to shut the machine off for a second to drop the butter in). Once all the butter is in, continue to let the machine run for 3 minutes. If your machine is as loud as mine, those 3 minutes will be excruciating, but deal with it.

Pour the cream into a container and press a piece of plastic wrap into the surface, then cover with container's lid and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. The cream will last in fridge for 4 days, or can be frozen for 2 months and thawed in fridge.

Assemble the tart shortly before you want to serve it. Just whisk the cream, pour it in, top with your candied lemon, and enjoy!! Everyone will LOVE it.

Mother's Day Brunch

The older I get, the more I realize how much my mom has done for me throughout my life. Sometimes I recognize the oddest things, like how she silently let me go through my “thug life” phase back in high school, even though she must have been totally cringing inside. Or sometimes it’s more obvious things, like how annoying it must be to be the one to organize and plan every holiday, event, do all the cooking, clean up every single time, with not enough help from the rest of us.
Anyway, so I started the day with a brunch. Originally I had planned eggs benedict with lump crab, but as I learned it’s really hard to find crab NOT in a can (and I find canned crab to be off putting). So I opted for toasted Italian bread with cheese, arugula, mushrooms, and fried eggs (I like to cook them in a covered pan so the yolk is slightly hard, that’s why they are white on top not yellow).

Recipe (adapted on the fly from a bunch of crap in the fridge)
Serves 2
2 slices of round Italian sesame loaf, toasted.
2 slices Swiss cheese
1/2 cup arugula (pretty much a big handful; enough to just cover the bread)
1/2 cup sliced white mushrooms
4 large eggs

Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet. Add in mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Saute for about 5-7 minutes, until soft and browned. When done, add salt and pepper and set aside.

Meanwhile, top toast with slices of Swiss cheese and melt in oven under broiler. Top with arugula, then mushrooms.

Drizzle olive oil into skillet and crack four eggs. Cover pan and cook until desired doneness. (I like my yolks semi-set with a slightly runny center, so I flip them over at the end). Salt and pepper generously, and place two eggs on top of each piece of toast.

Serve with mimosas!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Villanova Cupcakes

Just a quick post here- I got together with some friends and fellow alumni of Villanova to watch the Final 4 game (read about it here, was a disaster) and I thought I'd make some cupcakes. I used a simple box white cake mix, and made cream cheese frosting. It was light and very good, but kind of a soft frosting and not great for any intense decorating. The V on top was made out of royal icing.

Cream Cheese Frosting, from Carole Walter's Great Cakes
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temp
1/2 tsp orange zest
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine the butter and cream cheese together, beating with a wooden spoon. Cream until very smooth (otherwise you will taste lumps of butter when eating the cupcakes!) However, do not use an electric mixer- the frosting will thin out too much. Blend in the orange rind. Add the sugar alternately with the sour cream, using about 3 additions of sugar to 2 additions of sour cream. Stir in vanilla extract.
To decorate, I filled a Zip Loc bag, cut the tip off so you have an opening of about 1/2 inch, and just piped the frosting in spiral. I topped with blue sprinkles (although in hindsight, edging the cupcakes in sprinkles would have been nicer).
For the V's, combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar with about 1 tsp or less water, and add blue food coloring. Again, fill a Zip Loc and cut just the very tip so you have a much smaller opening than fo the frosting. Pipe V's onto wax paper, let harden, and use a spatula to scrape them off the wax paper and place gently onto cupcakes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Trip Blogging: In the White House & Some Chocolate Chips

Recently, Brad and I went to DC for a weekend. It was a really fun and sort of insidery trip, so I thought I'd write about it. La Dolce Vita's the sweet life, right? Doesn't have to be just food! Anyway, we did some of the typical tourist stuff, and also visited my cousin for his 24th bday.

The trip started with a Friday night birthday party at my cousin Eric's house. A little background on Eric: he's been obsessed with politics basically since he was old enough to talk. He's been involved in countless groups, been a Senate page, and recently worked as the luggage coordinator on the Obama campaign. All the work's paid off, as he is now David Axelrod's assistant in the White House. Impressive, considering no one in my family has ever held a political job (actually, no one besides Eric's immediate family is even Democrat).

Anyway, the party. I must admit, it was a bit awkward for me; I'm really not very political, and the guests were basically a "whos who" of Capitol Hill up-and-comers: Obama's assistant, Gibb's assistant, Rahm Emanuel's assistant, etc, etc, plus plenty of other young kids working for boldfaced names. While it looked like any generic college party (40 kids taking shots in an 8x10 kitchen), I was kind of nervous someone would out me as not being informed enough. But it was very cool to be around people whose daily jobs directly affect our country.

I think my boyfriend, who's something of a politics nerd, was in heaven. I was nowhere near there until some girl showed up with Cakelove cupcakes. OMG. I usually hate those trendy bakery cupcakes, finding them far too dense and heavy. But Cakelove was soooo good. Light, sweet, amazing. I had a vanilla cupcake with peanut butter frosting, and I spent the entire weekend cursing out our schedule, which didn't leave time for a trip to get more.

Anyway, the real highlight came the next day, when Eric gave Brad and I private tour of the White House! I can't tell you how badass it felt to stand on the street and get buzzed in through the gate to the White House (well, badass until we realized the people behind us also knew someone there and got buzzed in too).

Taking a break from a busy Saturday at work (they never stop! I would hate that), Eric greeted us at the gate in his button down and jeans (ohh the casual Obama administration), and led us up the White House driveway to the West Wing. Inside, it was exactly as I'd expected: thick carpets, oil paintings in ornate frames, and security seated right at the door. Eric led us down a hallway, stopping in front of a roped-off office. I was about to ask "Why are we stopped in this tiny room?" until I realized it was the Oval Office! Whoops. It's admittedly a bit less impressive than it seems in pictures, apparently Obama hasn't gotten around to redecorating (it still features Bush's decor and the walls are plain white).

Then, Eric took us next door to his office, a small narrow space that served as a blockade between Axelrod's office and the hallway. And yes, by next door I mean his office shares a wall with Obama's! We also stopped in Biden's office, which was next door to Axelrod's. Neither man was around (damn!), though we did see Axelrod in a meeting. It was very cool to be able to glance around their offices; while the media allows us to constantly check in on their professional lives, it's rare to get a glimpse of these prominent men as normal people: Biden has pictures of family printed out on a crappy inkjet printer and stuck to a corkboard, while Axelrod has a framed family pics crowded onto a small bookshelf. And his office is painted navy, which I loved.

Next, he showed us around conference rooms, cabinet rooms, the situation room, the Rose Garden, and the press room. The picture at the top of this post is from the press room, though unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pics elsewhere (and, FYI, both of us were having a bad hair day and are not normally that gross!) What was really cool to see was the basement below the press room; it was once the Presidential pool but has since been converted into an electronics room where reporters get online and send their articles out post-press conference. The tile walls were signed by all the reporters and presidents, kind of the way you see in cheesy tourist pizza places.

While walking around the West Wing, it was really cool to see the photos of the Obamas that adorned all the walls. My favorite was a glam shot of the President and First Lady dancing at one of the inaugural balls, with everything blurred out but them. I also liked one of the President in a conference, with the table and attendees blurred out, and the focus on his hands, clasped together, displaying his wedding ring (even though, let's face it, the Obamas looove to market their relationship).

The rest of the trip included tours of the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington, and the Washington Monument. I won't go into it, as this post is long enough already! But what hit me was how far the country has come in only what, around 250 years? I mean it started off as a bunch of religious expats and look at us now, an enormous world power, despite current troubles. Thinking about it all sort of made me feel like a leech on society, even if I do work for the government (especially considering I'm writing this at work).

So what I took away from the whole trip was a sense of wanting to do more. I don't mean politically, I just mean sort of following dreams and doing more with my time. Except I'm not really sure what said dreams are. All I know is my days are spent obsessively reading about food or shopping online, and then I trudge home to chug cheap beers at Friday's (woo I'm cool) or watch marathon Friends reruns on TBS (side note though, they should REALLY make more shows like this. Is anyone else sick of "reality" TV?) So new personal goal, time to figure out my passions, see how to work them in with the job, experience life more, and enjoy it more. And also really try hard to understand more about Army budget appropriations since it's my job.

So right, where's the recipe? Well I wanted to make something for Brad after our trip to thank him. The trip was his idea, and he was so sweet- he showed up at my house to pick me up with a car stocked full of our favorite beer, a bottle of champagne, and snacks for the trip. I hadn't thought to do anything, and I thought it was so sweet of him. Plus, when I spent Saturday night in a hypochondriac fit after a very minor allergic reaction to crab, he was extremely patient and sweet (I would have wanted to punch me).

Anyway, Brad's not what you'd call an adventurous eater (would you believe the boy has never eaten a strawberry or raspberry b/c they are "weird looking"? AH I can't deal), so I felt this was the perfect opportunity to get around to the (ubiquitous) chocolate chip cookies from the NY Times. Look, we've all made them by this point, we know they're good, I won't go crazy about it. But let's just say I never understood quite so clearly why salt is so important. Just the tiniest sprinkling of fleur de sel on top of the cookies makes the chocolate flavor explode in your mouth. Delicious.

The recipe is here. I did use the feves (pictured below), and I did find them to be a really great addition to the recipe. So if you can find them, go for it.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
from NY Times

Monday, March 2, 2009


Soon I will be adding a post about the exciting weekend I just spent in DC, but until I have a chance to get it out, I'll post this recipe for rugelach. I've tried other rugelach recipes, but found this had the best results and was less tedious than others, which often involve multiple rounds of chilling, bringing to room temp, re-chilling, and on. It's a bit much. This recipe, while it does have an element of chill time, is much easier. The dough is quickly combined in a food processor, and chills for a mere two hours. It's something you can quickly put together in one night, with great results- flaky, delicious, and customizable. I love creating new types of filling for rugelach. My all-time favorite is chocolate, which I made here, though I also created a raspberry almond version.

Rugelach, adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours

For the Dough
4 oz cold cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

For the Chocolate Fillling
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Handful finely chopped walnuts

For the Raspberry Filling
2/3 cup raspberry jam (warmed if not easily spreadable)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup sliced or chopped almonds

For the Glaze
1 egg, beaten
Sanding sugar

To Make the Dough:
Let the cream cheese and butter rest for 10 minutes before using. Put the flour and salt in the food processor, then scatter the butter and cream cheese pieces over them. Pulse the machine 6 to 10 times, then process, scraping down the sides until the dough forms large curds. Do not let it form a ball on the blade. Overworking will cause the dough to be significantly less flaky.

Turn the dough out, and gather into a ball. Divide it in half, shape each half into a disk, and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to one day. (The dough can also be frozen for 2 months).

To make the filling:
For raspberry, combine sugar, almonds, and cinnamon. Keep jam aside.
For chocolate, combine sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, walnuts, and chocolate chips

To make the cookies:
Pull the dough packets from the fridge. Lightly flour a surface, and roll each packet of dough into a 12 inch circle. For raspberry, spread the raspberry jam across the surface, in a layer thinner than you think you need. (If it's too thick to spread, zap it in the microwave for a few seconds). Then sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar/almond mixture.
For the chocolate, simply sprinkle the tops with the cocoa powder and walnut mixture.

Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough in quarters, then slice each quarter into quarters. You'll wind up with 16 triangles. Starting at the base of a triangle, roll the it up so each cookie is crescent shaped. Repeat with each triangle. Refrigerate for 30 mins before baking, and preheat oven to 350.

When ready to bake, arrange the cookies on a baking sheet covered with nonstick foil. Brush the tops of the cookies with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden. Cool on wire racks. Store for a week in an airtight container.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lemon Sables

In this post-graduate part of my life, there are many things I miss about school. While I wouldn't go back if given the opportunity, I never anticipated a lot of the stress and confusion that goes along with everything. My biggest worries are no longer "What will I wear to happy hour?" but instead, "What's my career plans? Where is my life going? Where's everything else going?" Some people might thrive on that kind of uncertainty, calling it excitement, but I'm not one of them. My job is moving in two years and I need to figure out if I'll be going with it; my friends will probably all move away, and boyfriend situation's up in the air (we've got very different future plans).

What I miss most is having roommates. I lived with my three best friends (and sometimes additional people) for 4 years, and it was like having built in fun 24/7 (well, most of the time). It was nice that no matter what I did I had friends there doing it with me, whether it was getting drunk for Mardi Gras or cooking a Thanksgiving dinner or just loafing around watching hours of wedding shows on the Style Network. So it was definitely nice to recreate all of this on a recent Saturday night, when my best friend (and former roommate) Jenn came by, and we sat around the entire night drinking wine and eating my new official favorite cookies.

Those would be Dorie's Lemon Sables. These were incredible! Between the two of us, we demolished about 20 of them. I also made a batch for a Superbowl party, and they got my guy friends' approval (they merely said, "Wow these are good," instead of busting my chops as usual). And my boyfriend, who is notorious for his extremely small appetite, ate an entire half batch alone. That, my friends, is no small wonder. And it's proof of the awesomeness of these cookies.

This is a very basic recipe, one which encourages customization and new versions. I personally can't wait to try the Smitten Kitchen Margarita Cookies version, but for now, I wanted to try out the base recipe and see where that went. And it was truly delicious: crumbly, simple, buttery cookies with a crackly coating of sanding sugar sprinkles around the edges.

Lemon Sables, from Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
2 sticks butter, at room temp
2 large egg yolks
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp fleur de sel
To Decorate:
1 egg yolk, beaten
Sanding sugar
Pour the granulated sugar into a bowl. Add lemon zest and rub together with fingers until fragrant (this is the best smell in the world).
Beat the butter in a mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the sugars and mix until smooth, being careful not to beat in too much air. Reduce speed to low and beat in egg yolks.
Pour in all the flour. Cover mixer with a towel or guard and pulse until dough is uniformly moist. This is like a shortbread, so be careful not to overmix. The dough won't really come together, and that's fine.
Scrape dough onto a work surface and gather into a ball. Divide this in half, and roll each half into a log, working the dough as little as possible. I find it easiest to smush it into a messy rectangle on top of a piece of Press and Seal, then use the press and seal to cover it and then roll it into a neater log shape.
Refrigerate for 2 hours, or up to 3 days. Dough can be frozen for 2 months at this point.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet (I use nonstick foil). Brush the outsides of each log with egg yolk, and sprinkle or roll in sanding sugar. Slice into 1/3 thick slices and bake for 17-20 minutes. Remove from oven, let rest five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Strawberry Scones

So here's another recipe for what's turning into a collection of breakfast breads. For a year or two now, I've been on the hunt for the best scone recipe. I've tried many from cookbooks, Food Network, and Allrecipes, some of which have been just terrible, some of which have been declared delicious by my roommates (well, not all my roommates but that's another story), but somehow I found that awesomeness factor eluded me.

So I turned to Dorie Greenspan, as usual. All of her recipes thus far have been great, so I went for the Sweet Cream Scones. I doctored them using some frozen strawberries (really not all that smart in hindsight, kinda watery). They were very quick to throw together My mother thought these were very good. And from the picture below, so did my dog! (though that's not saying much she eats everything).

But my verdict? Still lacked that awesome factor...I think what I've learned here is that I just don't love scones...but if you do, check this out. I recommend them warm from the oven, topped with a little jam.

Cream Scones, adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Baking from My Home to Yours

1 large egg
2/3 cup cold heavy cream
2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup strawberries, halved or quartered

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil or parchment.

Stir the egg and cream together.

Whisk the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter, and using your hands, toss to coat and then rub the butter into the dry ingredients until mix is pebbly. You will have a very nonhomogenous mix, with big and small chunks of buttery flour.

Pour the egg and cream over the dry ingredients and stir just until the dough comes together. It will be wet and sticky, not fun to handle. Drop in the strawberries, and fold a few times with a spatula to combine. Don't overwork.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour. My favorite method is to masking tape a big piece of wax paper to my counter for easiest clean up. Divide the dough in half and quickly shape into a big rectangle, flattening with your hands but being careful not to overwork. Cut into six wedges. Repeat with other half.

Bake scones for 20-22 minutes, until golden and firm. Transfer to a rack to cool for ten minutes before serving.

These can be frozen. Defrost at room temp and reheat in oven before enjoying.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Coconut Cake

Let me start by saying this is the worst picture ever. I made the cake for my mom's friend's birthday, so it disappeared from my house shortly before I really had an opportunity to look at the pictures I'd taken and realize the lighting was all wrong!

But seriously, don't let the terrible picture put you off the cake. It was incredible. It got rave reviews via text message from all my mom's friends. It's a moist, delicious cake, flavored and covered with unsweetened coconut, which perfectly balances the supersweet, light-as-air buttercream. I was surprised I liked this, because I'm not usually into layer cakes and frosting, but it was awesome.

Coconut Cake, adapted from Carole Walter's Great Cakes
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (I found it in the organic section at Wegman's)
2 1/3 cups cake flour*
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup (1 and 1/3 sticks) butter
1 and 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, scald the milk and take it off the heat. Let steep for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350. Butter and flour 2 9" round cake pans.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

Cut the butter into 1 inch piecces and put them in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the beaters or paddle attachment. Soften on low speed, and cream until smooth and light in color, about 2 mins.

Add the sugar, slowly, taking about 6 to 8 minutes to blend it in well.

Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides. Blend in the vanilla.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with the coconut/milk mix in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix just until incorporated, scrape down sides of bowl, and mix 10 seconds longer.

Spoon the batter into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a tester inserted comes out clean.

Remove from oven, allow to cool 10 minutes, then invert pans onto racks and let cool completely.
Quick Buttercream Frosting, adapted from Carole Walter's Great Cakes
4 and 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 and 1/4 cup milk
1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
1 and 1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

This recipe makes a large quantity of frosting, as that's one thing you don't want to skimp on when making a cake!

The frosting starts by making a bechamel sauce. Place the flour in a small saucepan, and whisk milk in slowly. Over low heat, whisk constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens to a thick white sauce. Remove from heat and whisk to remove any lumps. Let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes. It needs to be warm enough to blend in but not so warm that it will melt the butter.

While that cools, cut the butter into one inch pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mier. Soften on low speed, increase speed to medium high, and cream until light and smooth.

Reduce speed to medium. Gradually add sugar. Then add the bechamel sauce over about thirty seconds. Blend in the vanilla and beat for 20 to 30 seconds, until the frosting is fluffy.

To assemble the cake, slice off the tops if they have crowned. Brush crumbs away. Using an offset spatula, place a large dollop on the top of one cake, and spread it to about 1/4" from the edge. Place second cake on top. Cover entire cake with a thin coat, and let dry for about 10 minutes. This is your crumb coat. It will seal in any crumbs so that the next layer of frosting is pristine white. Using the rest of the buttercream, dollop it on top and around the sides, smoothing to an even layer. It doesn't have to be perfect. Using your hands, press coconut flakes into the sides of the cake. Cover evenly.

This cake can be refrigerated, but bring it to room temp before serving. The cake will keep, covered, in the fridge, for up to 5 days.

*If you don't have cake flour, you can substitute one cup of all purpose flour less two tablespoons for every 1 cup of cake flour.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daring Bakers January: Tuiles!

I'm officially a Daring Baker!! I've been meaning to join for awhile, and I thought January (new year, etc etc) was the perfect time.

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

I was excited when I saw that it was tuiles, as I'd always meant to try making those and never got around to it. Plus, I loved the idea of pairing it with something. I have to say January was a busy month, so I eased myself into the challenges and just kept it simple.

I made an "Escape from Winter" theme dessert. Once the holidays are over, I pretty much have no use for winter. January-March just drags on, and already all I can think about is summer. It doesn't help that I work right near the beach, but it's too cold to sit on the boardwalk during lunch! So I transferred my longing for summer onto a dessert. I made classic tuiles in the tuile shape, using the cocoa powder to stripe where the bend is (not sure if you can tell from that picture though). I paired the tuiles with Strawberry Margarita sorbet, a recipe I got from The Man, aka Mark Bittman from the New York Times. I love Mark Bittman, and like many of the recipes he provides, this one was foolproof.

The recipe for the sorbet as I made it is as follows:
2 cups frozen strawberries
1/4 cup sugar (more or less)
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp tequila (you can definitely taste the tequila, so make sure it's halfway decent- that's a mistake I made!)

Combine first four ingredients in a food processor. If necessary, add a little water to loosen it up. Blend until sorbet textur is reached. That's it. Seriously. It's the easiest thing ever. If you have a food processor you have no excuse not to try making this, I really think boiling water might take longer and be more effort!!
And just think of all the delicious variations to try- I plan on mixing up a blackberry lime, champagne, and mango margarita.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits

WOW. These are SO good. In my last post I said the lemon poppy muffins were the best breakfast ever, but I have to take that back. This is better.

This is a lesson to me on not to make snap judgments. This recipe is one I passed over many times when flipping through my Dorie book. I tend to skip recipes without pictures, as I have a weird theory that if the publisher didn't take a picture, it's not a good recipe and they don't want to draw your attention to it. That was not the case with this! I tried it regardless of my theory because I had some leftover pecans and sour cream from other recipes, and boy am I glad I made it! The biscuits were light, flaky, and delicious, with a hint of sweetness and a delicious crunch and flavor from the toasted pecans.

The secret here is to just barely mix the dough. You cut the butter up into small pieces and use your hands to just work it into the dough quickly. You stir quickly with a fork when adding the liquid ingredients, and just flatten it out with your hands instead of rolling it. Since the ingredients don't really get homogenously mixed together, the chunks of butter melting create flakes and pockets of air in your biscuits. (And if you eat them straight from the oven, you'll bite into layers with delicious, warm, melty butter- omg its amazing).

Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits, adapted from Dorie Greenspan Baking.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
5 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans

Ccenter a rack in the oven and preheat to 425 F.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the brown sugar. Toss in the butter, and using your fingers rub the butter into the dry ingredients until you have a pebbly mixture. The pieces will all look different, this is good.

Stir the sour cream and milk together and pour over the dry ingredients. Using a fork, stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Give the dough a quick kneading with your hands to make sure it's all combined. Don't overwork it. Toss in pecans and knead another 2 or 3 times, quickly.

Dust a work surface with flour (I always tape wax paper to the counter for easy cleanup). Pat the dough out with your hands. Size and shape doesn't matter, just try to mess with the dough as little as possible.

Use a biscuit cutter (or in my glass, a glass) to cut as many as you can out. Then gather the scraps, reroll, and cut again.

Bake the biscuits for 14 to 18 minutes, until tall and golden brown.

These freeze decently. I wouldn't freeze and serve to guests, as the quality is definitely lessened if not eaten immediately. But they're okay for just you, or if your fam is not exceptionally picky. Defrost over night and pop back in the oven to warm up.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lemon Poppy Muffins

I have to be at work at 8 am every morning. I live close to the Army base where I work, but every morning I'm still cutting it short. I don't think I've actually ever been on time to work. Anyway, I clearly have little time for breakfast. I usually throw an English muffin in the toaster while I speed-apply my makeup, leaving said muffin burned or undertoasted, or just generally unappealing. Needless to say, I've grown to dislike English muffins. Nothing makes them taste good- putting cream cheese on them makes me nauseous, putting cheese on them makes me wish there were eggs, and plain butter is just gross to me. So, clearly, it was time for a new breakfast option.
Enter Dorie Greenspan, saving my mornings with her Lemon Poppy Seed muffins. These are really, really delicious. They're not too sweet, they're moist, and the flecks of poppy seeds give the muffins a nice occasional crunch. Plus, they freeze well, so I can defrost one overnight and grab and go in the morning- no more messing with the temperamental toaster.
I used some raspberry jam in the center, going for a kind of jelly donut/muffin idea. It was AWESOME. I ate two immediately out of the oven, and really had to hold myself back from a third (I reasoned that if I ate them all the first day I'd still be out of luck for breakfast).

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, adapated from Dorie Greenspan Baking.
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled.
1 and 1/2 tbsp poppy seeds
1/2 c raspberry jam or preserves (not jelly)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and line muffin pan with baking cups (I used super fun Valentine's day ones!)
In a large bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest, rubbing together with your fingers until fragrant (this is the best smell ever). Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
In another bowl, combine the melted butter, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice together (this may look curdled).
Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to blend together, being careful not to overmix, or you'll wind up with tough muffins. Stir in the poppy seeds.
Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 or 1/2 of the way with batter. Use a teaspoon to scoop in some raspberry jam. Fill the rest of the cup with batter. These don't rise that much, so you can fill up to the top.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
To freeze, wait until fully cooled, then wrap individually in plastic wrap and foil, and store in a Ziploc bag in freezer. To defrost, just pull out overnight and enjoy in the morning!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Swedish Visiting Cake

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a sucker for a theme or a name. I love holidays, all things seasonal, and theme parties. My last birthday party was poker themed and my cube at work is decorated with different nautical accessories.

So when I came across Dorie's Swedish Visiting Cake, a cake apparently traditionally made for Swedish women when their friends were visiting, I really wanted to make it. It looked delicious. And this weekend was perfect, because I was going to visit my best friend who lives in Union Square! Could a title ever be more appropriate! I planned to make the cake and bring it to her.

Making the cake was so easy. Honestly, figuring out what to wear in the morning takes more effort (well at least for me it does!) You don't even need to pull out the mixer. Since the recipe calls for melted butter, a simple whisk will do.

And the results show that sometimes the simplest things are the best! The cake was plain, sweet, with a hint of almond flavor and lemon, and a moist texture. I'd recommend going easy on the almond extract, as too much can make it taste chemically (or maybe that's just the grocery-store brand extract I'm using...whoops). Anyway the cake wound up being so good I may not have actually shared it with my friend...oops...but I bought her a bottle of wine when I was in the city! Soo let's just say that substitutes...

Swedish Visiting Cake, from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours
1 cup sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract*
1/2 pure almond extract*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
About 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch cast iron skillet or a 9-inch round cake pan or pie pan (I used a cake pan).

Pour the sugar into a medium bowl, and sprinkle the lemon zest over. Rub the zest into the sugar until sugar is aromatic. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Whisk in the salt and extracts.

Using a spatula, stir in the flour, then fold in the melted butter.
Scrape the batter into the cake pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with sugar and scatter with almonds.

Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes, until it's golden and a little crisp on the outside. The inside will be moist. Remove from oven, let cool five minutes, and then use a thin knife to loosen the cake. Serve. Can be kept for about 5 days if stored airtight.

*You can use any flavor extract you want, or leave extracts out altogether.

Note: I tested my cake with a toothpick and it was done at 27 minutes, but not golden on top. I preferred that rustic, browned look, so I broiled it for just a minute. But if you do that, watch carefully! It browns very quickly!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


This a no-fail cookie recipe. Like you literally can' t go wrong with these (provided you follow the recipe!). They're sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, forming a slight crust that gives way to a soft interior. They are my friends' favorite, hands down- normally they find some way to complain about anything I make (ohh, boys), but these they just eat. I remember I took them to Brad at school once, and as we sat in his dorm talking I watched our friend Phil quietly eat almost every single Snickerdoodle I'd made (Brad was not pleased, but I was!)

If you're having a casual gathering, want to bring something into the office, or just have a craving for something sweet, I highly recommend these! They also freeze well, so they are good to keep on hand.

Bear in mind that the dough needs to chill for 8 hours, so it's wise to spread the baking over 2 days. Additionally, just so you know, the recipe makes a lot of cookies (like 50).

Snickerdoodles (From Carole Walter's Great Cookies)
2 and 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup vegetable shortening (don't substitute)
1 and 3/4 sugar, divided into 1 and 1/2 and 1/4 c
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Strain together flour, cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and shortening on medium speed until lightened in color. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar in a steady stream, and mix another two minutes.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing until just blended. Scrape dough into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let chill for 8 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, position the shelves in the upper half of the oven, or in the middle and bake only one sheet at a time (that's what I do. In my oven, anything on the bottom rack tends to burn so I just do it one cookie sheet at a time, despite the fact that I have double ovens). Heat oven to 350 and line baking sheets with foil.

Combine the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Scoop pieces of dough about the size of walnuts and roll into a ball, then roll in the cinnamon and sugar. Place 3 inches apart on baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes.

Remove from oven when they are golden brown around edges (they'll look a bit puffy, but will deflate as they cool, creating perfect, homemade looking cracks). Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove from foil and set on cooling racks.

These cookies will last 3 weeks if stored airtight. And trust me, everyone will love them!! Make these!

Chocolate Biscotti

Happy New Year!! While this may be, for many, a time to reflect on the past year or to make resolutions for the new year, it's not really looking that way for me. Usually I'm big on resolutions; one year I did the Ross on Friends try something new every day (until it got to be really stupid things like "wear gold lip gloss" by January 5). This year I'm not making any particular resolutions, but I do want to put more focus into my baking. So that means more recipes and definitely some better pictures! (see above, Nikon D60 vs a cheapo Canon Powershot- what a difference!)

So in keeping with that, I thought I'd try to invent a recipe. Since biscotti are one of my favorite types of cookies, I went with that idea. I've got a no-fail recipe for Almond Biscotti, which I'll share one day, but have had some trouble finding a good chocolate biscotti recipe. I find that with many recipes the cookies tend to be a little too cakey, and to me, a biscotti should be completely crisp, and not at all soft. That's just a personal preference- if you like yours a little on the softer side, this may not be the recipe for you. I think this recipe could be considered an original. It's culled from studying multiple biscotti recipes, as well as the scientific properties of butter, baking soda, and eggs to determine how to develop the ultimate crispness (move over Alton Brown!) I noticed recipes varied mostly on butter. A Carole Walter recipe used an entire melted stick of butter, a recipe from the Rao's cookbook used minimal amounts of butter, and a Martha Stewart used none. What I decided to do was use was four tbsp of melted butter. I also used less eggs than many recipes called for, to cut down on the cakiness. Baking powder was also used to add to the crispness. Next time, I'd like to try the addition of 1 tsp of vanilla extract, though I'll say the cookies were delicious without.

The recipe I used is as follows:
Chocolate Biscotti
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup walnuts, toasted
3 eggs
4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour, coca powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of my electric mixer, I beat the eggs and sugar until pale and slightly foamy. I poured in the melted butter, along the side of the bowl, and mixed until blended.

I then added the flour mixture in 2 additions, stirring just to combine. The dough was very sticky, soft, and thick.

I used a spatula to drop spoonfuls of dough onto parchment, forming 2 logs, each maybe like 16" long, then baked for about 20 minutes, until firm on top. I let the cookies and cool about 20 minutes and sliced them into logs. I put them on their sides and baked for 10 minutes, then flipped them over, and baked another ten minutes. Then I shut the oven off and let the cookies cool in oven with the door cracked open a little for about an hour. They will be very crisp, just the way I like them!

(Side note: if you like them less crisp, don't let them cool in the hot oven. Just remove, and let cool on a wire rack).

Friday, January 2, 2009

Pinwheel Cookies

Honestly, I can't think of many foods that are more fun to bake than this cookie! It reminds me of being a little kid and playing with clay- I had this book that taught u how to layer colored clay, roll it into a log, and slice it into little pieces with a design inside- just like you do with these cookies.

The dough itself is pretty straightforward, as it's a simple icebox cookie dough. It's also very versatile, lending itself to countless variations in flavoring, shape, or additions (nuts, chips, etc). It freezes extremely well and can hang out in the fridge for a few days (in fact, it kind of has to) before you're ready to bake. Additionally, the two colored dough can take tons of different shapes- checkerboards, chevrons, striped cookies, marbled, whatever you think up.
I split my dough in half and tinted it with red food coloring (use paste), but you could also use melted chocolate or, obviously, any other food color (I plan on making a Superbowl version soon with team colors). You then split each half in half and roll them out in a square shape. You'll have two squares of red, two squares of plain. Place one plain on top of the colored, and roll them tightly together. This step is important, as you don't want a gap in the center of your cookie when you slice it! The roll chills overnight- another very important step, as it won't cut properly if the temperature isn't right.

Pinwheel Cookies, adapted from Carole Walter's Great Cookies.
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unslated butter, slightly firm
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Red food coloring (I used Wilton paste variety)

Strain together flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, mix the butter on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar in four additions, and mix for two minutes longer. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, mixing again for one minute.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, blending until just combined. Be careful not to overmix.

Using a kitchen scale, divide the dough in half. (Each half will weight about 1 lb, or measure out to 1 and 1/3 cups of dough). Blend the red food coloring into one half of the dough, mixing thoroughly but trying not to overwork. Shape each half into a 4 x 5 in rectangle, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour (or until firm enough to roll).

Divide each half into quarters. You'll have 4 pieces of red dough, 4 pieces plain. Shape each piece into a cylinder about 4 in long and 1 1/4 in wide. Wrap and refrigerate until ready to use (up to 3 days in fridge or 3 months in freezer).

When ready to roll, place each red cylinder in between two lightly floured sheets of wax paper and roll into a 6x7 rectangle. Do the same for the plain cylinders, rolling into a 6x6 square. Chill each piece in fridge for 10 minutes.

Remove the top sheet of wax paper from each piece of dough, and invert the plain dough onto the red dough. Line it up so that a bit of red dough peeks out at the top and bottom. Press lightly to seal the layers together. Peel off the top layer of wax paper.

Starting at the side closest to you, curl the edge of the dough, careful not to leave any space where the pinwheel's center will be. Use the wax paper to help you lift and turn the dough, rolling tightly. Repeat this process for each of the sheets of rolled out dough. You'll wind up with four cylinders. Wrap them in plastic, refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Turn each cylinder periodically during the first hour just to ensure that you don't wind up with one flat side.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350, and arrange racks to separate oven into thirds. Line cookie sheets with nonstick foil. Slice cookies into 3/16 inch slices and bake for 9 to 11 minutes. Let stand one minute then allow to cool on cooling racks.

These cookies will last for 3 weeks stored airtight.