Time Out New York Shortbread Cookies

On Wednesday night, I had a hot date…to an On Campus Recruiting (OCR) investment bank information session. Eric said he saw a bunch of other couples doing the same thing, so apparently the information session qua date night is already a thing. (And the whole time I thought we were trendsetters.)

It was my inaugural OCR event, and it was pretty darn cool (and not just because of my date). It was out of my comfort zone, but in a good way. I was the only one wearing an orange sweater with massive puff sleeves in a sea of black suits, but standing out never hurts. And how many college students have the chance to eat sushi and chat with a room full of investment bankers?

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Belated Christmas Cookies

When I was 12, my siblings and I decided to make Hanukah stockings. I hefted my Singer out of its case and stitched up boot-shaped pieces of red and white felt. As a final touch, I embroidered each of our names along a stocking in two shades of green thread.

At a young age, we were already Jews-Who-Are-Sort-of-Secretly-Jealous-of-Christmas.

Case in point: this year when I arrived home from college, I found our presents stacked around a wrought-metal side table in a suspiciously tree-like formation.

It’s not Christmas itself that appeals to us. It’s not the midnight mass and it’s definitely not the Jesus bit. It’s not Santa, and it’s not even Rudolph and his rouge-nosed cohort. For me (maybe it’s a Jewish atheist thing?), Christmas represents a wintry spirit in a way that potato pancakes and waxy chocolate coins do not. It’s the difference between “merry” and “happy”; the difference between nostalgia for snowball fights and hot chocolate and nostalgia for infantry battle and the hot Middle East.

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Rose Petal Macarons with Raspberry-Rose Ganache

Every once in a while I read something that’s so true I want to paint it on the ceiling above my bed or (in a really hardcore version of my imagination) tattoo it on the inside of my eyelids. Usually I’ll settle for inscribing it in my little black moleskin in twelve colors of fine-point sharpie, but this particular very true thing I want to share with you.

Gesine Bullock-Prado, my hero as soon as I saw the title of her masterwork Sugarbaby, writes: “I bet there’s been a day when you’ve just been minding your own business—walking the dog, doing your taxes—and you’ve heard a gut-wrenching cry pierce the air. What you heard may well have been the plaintive wail of a ‘macaron fail.’”

I can relate. I can so relate.

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Money Club Cookies for Mom

My mom is cooler than your mom.

My mom thinks making dinner means delivery from Two Boots. Who’s complaining?

My mom was a bodybuilder in Japan. Beat that.

My mom tells the best stories and does the best imitations, even though her stories are embellished and her imitations all sound Italian.

My mom is super successful doing what she loves.

My mom couldn’t decide on a tattoo, so got a nose ring instead, until it got infected and she had to sit with her nose in a glass of salt water every night for fifteen minutes. Then she got rid of the nose ring.

My mom doesn’t nag, shout, or punish.

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Iced Shortbread Cookies for Jen

This week, I catered. For the very first time, Noa Bakes catered dessert for a party! My mom’s friend Jen asked if I would make dessert for her 40th birthday celebration, and I very, very, very happily obliged.
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Jen wanted 6 different bite-size desserts (they didn’t turn out exactly bite size, unless you take unusually big bites) all in the same color scheme: hot pink, light pink, orange, and chocolate brown. In the end we decided on Iced Shortbread Cookies, Chocolate Espresso Fudge Squares, Chocolate Cake Pops, Creamsicle Marshmallows, Cheesecake Tartlets with a Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust and Strawberry Swirl, and finally Dark Chocolate Dipped Honey Madeleines. Continue reading

Whoopie Pies with Strawberry Buttercream

Get this: on April 20th, a law passed in Maine making Whoopie Pies Maine’s official “state treat” (not state dessert—that title goes to wild blueberry pie). Apparently there’s a big debate between Maine and Lancaster PA over where whoopie pies originated. A bakery in Maine claims they’ve been making whoopie pies since 1925, but Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish families swear their great, great grandmas made whoopie pies with leftover cake batter in a wood burning stove back in 1872. Or something like that.
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Clearly, people take whoopie pies very seriously: “Whoopies contain too much lard to be seriously considered as an official food in a state with an obesity problem, said the lone opponent to Davis’ bill, Rep. Donald Pilon. The Saco Democrat dismissed whoopies as “frosting-delivering vehicles masquerading as food” (full article in all of its ridiculous glory here). There was even a rally in Lancaster to prevent Maine from declaring whoopies the state dessert, and the Pennsylvania Dutch Country homepage (they have a homepage?!) says that Maine is committing “confectionary larceny.” Continue reading

More Macarons…

And so, I became obsessed with macarons. On my second try, my macarons were so imperfect that I didn’t even take pictures. I didn’t even bother to fill them! Batch 2, basic macarons with a little espresso powder for a (too) subtle coffee flavor, was just plain ugly. The macarons had huge feet (even bigger than the first batch), they had tips that wouldn’t settle down, they were browned on top (macarons should’nt be browned) and they were basically completely hollow. They did have a few virtues. They easily lifted off the baking sheets right out of the oven, and they also tasted pretty good. They were crunchy and chewy and nutty, so I decided to take them to Seattle to share with my relatives.

First I did some research. I used Not So Humble Pie’s  French Macaron troubleshooting guide to diagnose my macarons. I decided that my batter was under-mixed (maybe because I didn’t do a piping bag transfer like I did in Batch 1), my ingredients inaccurately measured, and my macarons cooked for too long. I impulsively ordered a scale on Amazon (I’m the least impulsive person you’ll ever meet, so it says a lot that macarons reduced me to an impulse buy!)

In Seattle, my whole family had a delicious Friday night dinner at a small bakery, soup and sandwiches with eclairs and other pastries for dessert. I had been telling my family about my struggles with macarons, and they suggested that I ask the pastry chef for some tips. I ran out to the car to collect my tins of un-sandwiched macarons to show him. Continue reading