Happy New Years Eve! Why not mini chocolate chip cookies with fleur de sel?

Happy New Year!  Are you doing anything delicious for New Years eve?

I just finished baking up a batch of mini-chocolate chip cookies.  Why chocolate chip cookies for New Years Eve because my girlfriend requested tiny treats that didn’t require utensils, and in Paris I  know I won’t be eating chocolate chip cookies.

Deciding which chocolate chip recipe to use to be quite a daunting a decision. Do I go with the traditional and well tested Nestle toll house recipe,  or with the New York Time Jacque Torres recipe that changed cookie baking in this household as it recommended chilling cookie dough overnight? Or with the Gourmet tiny chocolate chip recipe (food writer Lesley Porcelli introduced me to) which changed my cookie aesthetic forever. These cookies are tiny, buttery, crispy and almost perfect.
So I have adapted from both recipes and  made a few alterations. Instead of light brown sugar,  I prefer dark brown (I skip white sugar entirely because I like the deep dark flavor of dark brown sugar). I slightly change the baking temperature,  amounts of chocolate chips and salt. Lastly, I don’t refrigerate the dough overnight but I do refrigerate for 2-3 hours or throw the dough in the freezer for an hour. You can read more about the science of chocolate chip cookies at seriouseats.com

 Farha’s favorite mini chocolate chip cookies with sea salt (fleur de sel) :

  • 10 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp  baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt (or Torres recommends coarse salt)
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli or Toll House, but many people love Scharffen Berger,  Callebaut or  Guittard for baking.)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix together unsalted butter, brown sugar, sea salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, then mix in one egg and a teaspoon of real vanilla. Add the AP flour and mix. Then add your cup of  chocolate chips.

Drop teaspoons of dough on ungreased cookie tray, and
(optional)   sprinkle the top of the teaspoons of dough with a pinch of sea salt before you bake.

Bake for 7-8 minutes.

I cool them on a rack for about 20 minutes and start eating them three at a time with every meal, or until they are gifted away.IMG_1698

Have a delicious New Year! Please follow me during my travels to Paris, Baltimore, Burlington and Glasgow in 2014. Continue reading


Have you been to Maison Kayser in Manhattan? Financiers and pastries for Eid

pistachio, chocolate and almond financiers

pistachio, chocolate and almond financiers

Food & Wine called the financier “God’s Perfect Cookie” (moist, small, fragrant and hopelessly addictive).

the pistachio financier

At Maison Kayser in New York, the financiers  on the upper east side are just as perfect as they are in their original Parisian bakery!  I first read about the perfect pistachio financier from David Lebovitz. He explains, “If you’ve never had financiers before, prepare yourself for a treat. But even if you’ve had them, you’ve likely never had financiers from Kayser bakery. Each little moist button is the perfect taste of ground almonds and French butter.” They could be mistaken for madeleines, but are denser, moister and just much more delicious!

Run, don’t walk, past the Laduree  to Maison Kayser.  Laduree might be a more beautiful shop, but the eclairs, financiers and bread at Kayser should not be missed!

Eric Kayser in Paris

Eric Kayser in Paris

Maison Kayser had a strict no photography policy  so I didn’t take photos on this trip to NYC, but posted a few that I took on my first trip to Paris.  If you can’t make it to the upper east side, anytime soon, Saveur published the pistachio financier recipe last year which emphasized how the egg whites and almond flour contribute to why, “despite its unassuming look, the financier is a small vessel of joy”.   I’m also on the hunt for the recipe for a chocolate financier which is also dark, decadent, and moist.

Only second to the Maison Kayser financiers are the ones at  Colson in Brooklyn.

I sent some to my niece this summer who   preferred them to Smitten Kitchen’s chocolate wafers!  So someone special is getting a delivery of Eric Kayser financiers for Eid.  Eid Mubarak!

More financiers please at Eric Kayser in Paris.

More financiers please at Eric Kayser in Paris.

Are sables just cookies or much more?


Are sables just cookies or much more? This past week I baked sables also known as French shortbread. I didn’t think much of it at the time. We were having a friend visiting from San Francisco and I was in my second week of teaching diversity in the city (a course that explores diversity in Paris through culture, immigration, religion, fashion and lastly food).

I had put aside a few to give Lesley Porcelli, the food writer and baker, and upon eating the rest she emailed me “I was really, really smitten with those plain cookies! They were total perfection” (as opposed to the chocolate sables I usually bake). Then three days later she texted, “my father-in-law wants your shortbread recipe. We all love it”.

These cookies are a variation of Dorie Greenspan’s cornmeal shortbread, but the difference was that I didn’t use lemon zest or vanilla, and substituted lemon extract for both.

I didn’t think these cookies were blog worthy until I realized sables are much more than a cookie…they are symbolic of my first trip to Paris from 2009 when I discovered French pastries and and financiers (my other favorite french treat). And now that I am taking my students to Paris in January, I think it’s time I share the sables with my class as well.

Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies
(recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon (I used lemon extract)
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted, room temperature butter (use Kate’s butter if you can find it)
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, or 1/2 teaspoon of pure almond extract (remember I skipped this and used lemon extract)

In a medium size bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in the cornmeal, and set the mixture aside.
Working in the bowl of a stand mixer or other large bowl, rub the sugar and zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and extract to the bowl and, using either your stand mixers paddle attachment or whisk, or a hand mixer, beat on medium speed until the mixture is very smooth (about 3 minutes).
Reduce the mixer to low speed and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until the flour streaks have disappeared into the dough (do not over-mix).
Roll the dough into two logs of dough, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or freeze for one).

Getting ready to bake:
Preheat the oven to 350F, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.
Place one of the rolls of dough onto a cutting board and slice about a 1/2 inch apart.
Place the baking sheets in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 300F. Bake the cookies for 25-30 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time. The cookies should just slightly golden.
Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.

Sables...much more than a cookie?

Sables…much more than a cookie?

My students in SOC 399/Diversity in Paris will be sampling more Parisian French, Lebanese French and Moroccan French treats when we travel there this January. Check back for more of our culinary adventures. Currently they are exploring how contemporary diversity in Paris is changing its culture, art and culinary landscape.

Have you been to Picasso’s, a new neighborhood bakery?

I don’t always have time to bake, and we have a new bakery in our neighborhood on Westcott. This past week I sampled  donuts and brioche from Picasso’s Pastry.Image

These are baked chocolate donuts.  Since they are baked, they do taste more like chocolate than donuts, but they do satiate that chocolate cake craving!Image

I also sampled their chocolate brioche right out of the oven…ooey, gooey and delicious!

If you are in Syracuse, please support our local businesses and check out Picasso’s Pastries.

Sometimes it’s the little things: the browniewich

Byrne DairyThis weekend was filled with delicious treats. I did make it to the Funky Flea in Syracuse but I didn’t last very long in the 90 degree heat. I had really tasty chicken tacos from the Street Eats food truck and then I took shelter at Gannon’s downtown. I was afraid my ice cream might melt if I stayed outside. Saturday was filled with lots of tasty treats. But my weekend ended with a surprise when my friend Kelly brought me ice cream sandwiches from our local Byrne dairy. She knows that ice cream sandwiches are my favorite summer treat.Right now my freezer is filled with Klondike Oreo ice cream sandwiches, Cia Bella’s Smores and Key lime pie ice cream sandwiches, and also half a Target chocolate mint ice cream sandwich. My favorite ice cream sandwiches are usually the ones that I make with homemade chocolate shortbread (using Dorie Greenspan’s recipe)  and Talenti sea salt gelato. But this browniewich was a welcome treat!

The Browniewich from Byrne dairy can be found at most local Byrne dairy markets.


The Browniewich

The Browniewich

This is no regular ice cream sandwich. This is 2 brownies sandwiched together with locally made vanilla ice cream. If you love brownies, this could be your perfect summer treat.The brownie is chocolatey and chewy and the ice cream is light and creamy.

What is your favorite ice cream sandwich? I would love to know!

creamy and chewyIn case, you want to try baking my favorite chocolate cookie. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/world-peace-cookie-360733