Barely two weeks into 2021, and I want to crawl back into the comparative comfort of 2020. Here I am, writing this introduction to this first post of the year at 8:41pm Pacific time, with a loaf of zucchini bread that keeps asking for another 15 minutes in the oven, and Debussy’s Estampes trickling from the other side of the room. Realizing I’m only generous on the details because my thoughts are still left somewhere outside of my body, possibly in another time, and are in dire need of catching up to the present. So for now this will have to do, just the facts. In lists. Ingredients. Directions. No nonsense. No deceit. Yet it seems even that is hard to come by these days. So when you find yourself drowning in thoughts of the world going up in flames, I pray these recipes will offer you a couple hours of solace, in the whirring of your convection oven, in the safe place that is your kitchen.
I’m not sickly sweet like this most days, you know that. But that is my sincerest hope for you, because there’s not much else I can offer you at the moment.
Honeycomb Toffee – makes 12 servings
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tsp baking soda
- Line a 9 by 13 inch cake pan with parchment paper with overhang. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and water.
- Without whisking or disturbing the contents, bring the mixture to a simmer on medium heat. Let it continue to bubble for around 10 minutes, or until the caramel turns a golden amber colour.
- Whisk in all of the baking soda thoroughly but quickly and immediately pour into the lined cake pan. Do not smooth out the surface – this will deflate the sponge structure.
- Let stand at room temperature for 3-4 hours or until completely set and cooled.
- Break into large pieces for serving. Store in an airtight container and use within 2 days.
Twibap Rice Crispies with Roasted Nori and Sesame Seeds – makes 48
- 4 tbsp salted butter
- 400 g plain marshmallows
- 8 cups plain twibap (Korean puffed rice)
- 12 sheets snacking nori
- 1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds
- Line a 9 by 13 inch cake pan with parchment paper (including the sides).
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat and add the marshmallows. Continue stirring until completely melted and smooth.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in all of the twibap to evenly coat with the marshmallow mixture.
- Press the mixture evenly into the lined pan. This is easiest done with a greased plastic rice paddle.
- In a spice or coffee grinder, grind the nori sheets until coarsely powdered.
- Sprinkle the powdered nori over the twibap mixture and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
- Cool completely before slicing into 48 bars with a greased knife.
- Store in an airtight container and use withing 4 days.
Yuzu Kosho Lemon and Lime Bars – makes 24
For the crust
- 2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp yuzu kosho
- finely grated zest of 1 lime and 1 lemon
- 4/3 cups all purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line a 9 by 9 square cake pan with parchment paper (including the sides).
- In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, yuzu kosho, and zest until pale and fluffy.
- Beat in the flour until the mixture forms a crumbly dough.
- Press the dough into the prepared pan.
- Bake the crust for 20 to 24 minutes, or until lightly golden and the top no longer looks wet. Remove from the oven and immediately dock all over with a fork.
For the filling
- 4/3 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- pinch of salt
- juice of 2 limes and 2 lemons
- In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar and flour until thoroughly combined. Then whisk in the eggs, salt, and lemon juice until homogeneous.
- Whisk over medium low heat until the mixture begins to thicken. Stream inn the cream, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the texture of stirred yogurt.
- Strain the mixture over the baked crust and tap against the counter to smooth out the top.
- Bake at 325 degrees F for another 15-18 minutes until nearly set.
- Switch the oven to broil function (500 to 550 degrees F) and broil until the top is bronze and burnished in spots.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely before chilling completely in the fridge.
- Slice into 24 bars for serving. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and use within 3 days.
All Purpose Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (adapted from Tasty) – makes 24
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temp
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups add-ins
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugars, butter, salt, and vanilla until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and continue beating, scraping down the bowl a couple time throughout until the mixture is the texture of buttercream.
- Stir together the flour and baking soda and add to the butter mixture along with any add-ins until a homogeneous dough is formed.
- Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out 20-24 individual dough balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze the portioned dough until hard and store in an airtight freezer bag for up to 3 months.
- When ready to bake, bake directly from frozen at 350 degrees F for 13 minutes until puffed in the middle and the edges are lightly golden (meaning the bottoms are too). Remove from the oven and immediately bang the pan on the counter to deflate the cookies (this makes them chewier and give them the signature cafe/bakery look). Cool completely. Store in an airtight container and use within 3 days.
Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies: add 1 tsp red gel food colouring to the egg, replace 2 tbsp of flour with dutch processed cocoa powder, and use white chocolate chips as add-ins.
Unsweetened Chocolate Chunk Cedar Cookies: grind 2 sprigs of dehydrated cedar with the white sugar in a spice grinder until completely pulverized. Pass the cedar sugar through a fine meshed sieve to get rid of any large bits of cedar. Use this as sugar. Use chopped unsweetened chocolate as add-ins.
Cranberry White Chocolate Cookies: add an additional 1 tsp of vanilla and use white chocolate chips and dried cranberries (in equal parts by volume) as add-ins.
All Purpose Shortbread Cookie Dough – makes 48
- 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, and flour until a crumbly dough forms.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal portions, with one of the portions further divided in half. Follow each of the recipes below if you want to make 4 variations from a single batch.
- Once the dough logs are fully chilled, slice them into 0.7 cm disks and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving at least an inch between each disc.
- Bake at 325 degrees F for 13-14 minutes, or until the top and bottom both no longer look wet or doughy. There should only be a minimum level of browning on these, if any. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container and use within 3 days.
Classic Shortbread: take a portion of the dough and place it on the counter. Knead the dough by pushing it away from your body with the heel of your palm to make a thin smear then gathering the dough back, folding it over itself. Repeat until the dough is completely homogeneous. Shape it into a log and wrap tightly in clingfilm. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Uji Matcha Shortbread: take a portion of the dough and place it on a clean counter. Sift 2 tsp Uji matcha powder over the dough and begin kneading the dough by pushing it away from your body with the heel of your palm to make a thin smear then gathering the dough back, folding it over itself. Repeat until the dough is evenly green throughout with no streaks. Shape the dough into a log and wrap tightly in clingfilm to chill in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Chocolate Orange Shortbread: take a portion of the dough and place it on a clean counter. Sift 1 1/2 tbsp dutch processed cocoa powder over the dough and knead the dough until evenly brown throughout with no streaks. Knead in 3 tbsp of diced candied orange peel and shape the dough into a log. Wrap tightly in clingfilm to chill in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Cinnamon Roll Shortbread: take a half-portion of the dough and place it on a clean counter. Sift 2 tsp cinnamon over the dough and knead until evenly speckled throughout. Place the dough between two sheets of parchment and use a rolling pin to roll it into a 6-by-6-inch square, set aside. Do the same to the other half-portion of dough but omit the cinnamon. peel of the top piece of parchment from both sheets of rolled dough. Place the sheet of cinnamon dough, dough-side-down on the plain sheet of dough and remove the top piece of parchment (so that only one piece of parchment remains at the very bottom). Roll the two layers of dough firmly into a log (maki style) and wrap tightly in clingfilm. Chill for up to 1 week.
Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies – makes 24
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar, plus more for rolling
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.
- Add the egg, molasses, and grated ginger and continue beating until creamy and smooth.
- In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, salt,and spices.
- Beat the four mixture into the butter mixture until smooth.
- Using a small cookie scoop, scoop portions of batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze the dough portions until hard and store in an airtight freezer bag for up to 3 months.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll frozen portions of dough in white sugar until thoroughly covered on all sides. Place a maximum of 6 on each parchment lined baking sheet (keeping them 3 inches apart). Bake for 13 minutes until puffed and spread out. Remove from the oven and immediately bang on the counter top so they deflate. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownie – makes 48
I’m pretty tired of typing at this point. But it’s literally a brownie batter dotted with oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough and baked slightly under. It’s not hard to figure out, use your go-to recipe for each and I’m sure you’ll be fine. Alice Medrich’s cocoa brownies work great. Preppy Kitchen’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are fantastic as well.
Anyways, all the best – to your baking endeavors, 2021 or beyond.