Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Strawberry Basil Thumbprint Cookies

These are so addicting it's hard to eat just one. I love their versatility. You can switch out the strawberry jam with any flavor and the basil with any herb. For the fall I plan on making apple ginger thumbprints. Happy baking (and eating)

Ande's Strawberry Jam
1 lb ripe fresh strawberries whole with stems removed 
1 cup sugar 
1 tablespoon cornstarch
fresh squeezed juice from one lemon

Mix all ingredients together in a pot so that berries are completely coated. Bring to a boil. reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pot. cook for an hour or until the mixture has darkened in color and is vicious and the strawberries have broken down. Cool before using and store covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week. 

Ande's Strawberry Basil Thumbprint Cookies 

Cookie dough
2 1/3 cup All purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
2 egg yolks
1 cup brown sugar 
2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1 cup strawberry jam

Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment whip the butter on high until light in color. Add the brown sugar and mix until fluffy. add the egg yolks, vanilla and lemon zest. In a medium sized bowl mix the flour, basil and baking powder together and add to the butter mixture to form a soft dough. using a cookie scooper, scoop balls and place them 1.5 inches apart on the baking sheet. with your thumb press small round holes in the center of each cookie and fill them with jam. Do not over fill or the jam will bubble over. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. In a small dish mix 1/2 cup white sugar with 1 tsp dried basil Once the cookies have cooled, sprinkle the basil sugar on the top of the jam. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bourbon Peach Crisp

This is a perfect crisp recipe for any kind of fruit. Apples in the fall, pears in the winter, strawberries in the spring, peaches in the summer. You can leave out the bourbon if you chose, if so, just reduce the flour in the filling to 1 tablespoon. I happen to love bourbon and peach together. This decadent crisp is perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Make this dessert and your summer evening just got a lot better. 

Ande's Bourbon Peach Crisp

  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats (do not use instant)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup sweetened dried coconut (optional) 


  • 5-7 med ripe peaches pealed and sliced into 1 inch chunks
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch 
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour 
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup bourbon

    Place the flour, oats, brown sugar, coconut and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix till blended. Add the cold butter pieces and mix on low for 3 to 4 minutes until it forms clumps about the size of peas. Place the bowl in the refrigerator to keep the butter cold.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center.
    In the large bowl, mix the peaches, brown sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch and bourbon until all the fruit is coated evenly. Scrape into a baking dish and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle the topping in an even layer over the fruit (do not press down).
    Bake and serve the crisp for 45 to 55 minutes, until the topping is nicely browned and the fruit is bubbling and soft. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Toasty Coconut Macaroons

When I was a kid I hated coconut. I remember my great grandmother who we called Gigi, used to always have coconut macaroons in her house. They were Kosher from the deli down the street and they were dry and tasteless. They were the only cookies in her pantry so I’d force myself to eat them hoping each time to like them, but alas, they just weren't good.

It wasn't until years later that I tried a coconut macaroon at my college’s dining hall and much to my surprise it was soft, chewy, sweet, gooey, toasty  perfection. Nothing like dear Gigi’s dry store bought rock hard nuggets. I was impressed. These  cookies were so good I had to ask the head of food services what his recipe was. The secret to their yumminess? Sweetened condensed milk! 

So, over the years, I developed my own recipe with the help of Ina Garten and Joan Nathan. I tweaked the process a bit and the measurements. All in all, this is a darn good coconut macaroon. Sweet, chewy, toasty, gooey, moist, and loaded with juicy coconut flavor.

Ande’s Toasty Coconut Macaroons
1 large (14 oz) bag sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces (small can) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 extra-large egg whites at room temperature
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl mix the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make thick peaks. switch to the paddle attachment and add the coconut mixture to the egg whites and mix vigorously until completely mixed. scrape down the bowl as needed and continue mixing until the batter is cohesive.

Use an mini scoop to form rounded balls of batter and using your hands roll them into the most perfect ball you can. bake them on sheet pans lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and serve.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rosemary Pear Muffins

 These are my favorite muffins to make. I became obsessed with rosemary from the chocolate hazelnut rosemary cookies I used to eat from my days working at Bakeri, the best bakery in Brooklyn. I liked these cookies so much that I began experimenting with rosemary in baking at home and I invented these delights. While pears are more suited to the fall and winter since thats their season, today is rainy and chilly here so it's got me in the mood. Apples can be substituted for the pears but there is something about sweet pear with aromatic rosemary that makes a really delicious combination. I use Bosc pears but any kind works great. I love using herbs with fruit. The contrast of flavors makes this muffin both savory and sweet. They are delicious served with a hearty jam as well as a simple goat cheese spread.   

Ande's Rosemary Pear Muffins 
3 ripe pears pealed/ sliced into bite size cubes tossed lightly in flour
9 oz all purpose flour 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
3 ounces sugar 
pinch of salt 
8 oz of milk
4 oz melted unsalted butter 
 2 eggs 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary roughly chopped 
sugar in the raw or white sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the dry ingredients. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix all the liquid ingredients. Pour the dry into the wet all at once. Add the pears and 1/2 of the rosemary. mix until just blended. Scoop into prepared muffin pans- paper lined and sprayed with pam. mix Sprinkle tops with sugar and remaining rosemary. Bake until well risen, set and golden.