Satisfying your sweet tooth


November 15, 2006|By Joannah Hill | Joannah Hill,Sun reporter

Baking: From My Home to Yours

By Dorie Greenspan

The New York Times Dessert Cookbook

Edited by Florence Fabricant

St. Martin's Press / 2006 / $29.95

Whether it's the grand finale of a sophisticated supper or the reward for eating all of your peas, The New York Times Dessert Cookbook comes to many sweet conclusions.

This noteworthy collection, edited by Florence Fabricant, has contributions from numerous Times writers and noted chefs and covers dessert in all its forms - from a humble stove-top pudding to dazzling pastries.

Throughout the book are short essays by Times writers including Fabricant, Amanda Hesser and the late R.W. Apple - don't miss William Grimes' entertaining investigation into the allure of the tarte Tatin.

While apple pie and chocolate-chip cookies get their due, the treasures of this collection are the sophisticated twists and startling flavor combinations. Never has my kitchen smelled more ambrosial than when the Pear and Rosemary Cake was baking in the oven. Who knew this could be such a happy marriage of tastes?

Rice pudding gets a makeover in the recipe for Brulee Coconut Rice Pudding With Lime Syrup. The sweet, tart combination lifts this comfort food to an indulgence. And the simple, yet sublime Fudge Sauce is a fitting garnish for a brownie sundae or profiteroles. A bottle and a pretty ribbon are all it needs to become a holiday gift. That is, if you can bear to part with it.

World Peace Cookies

Makes about 36 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup (packed) light-brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup of store-bought mini chocolate chips

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour mixture, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at a low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek - if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel.

Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough. For the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don't be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 months. If you've frozen the dough, you needn't defrost it before baking - just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

Getting ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you're cutting them. Don't be concerned, just squeeze the bits back into each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between the cookies.

Bake the cookies 1 sheet at a time for 12 minutes. They won't look done, nor will they be firm, but that's just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

From "Baking: From My Home to Yours"

Per cookie: 89 calories, 1 gram protein, 5 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 9 milligrams cholesterol, 36 milligrams sodium.

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