Matcha Green Tea Daifuku

Last year, when Time Out New York published an article on the best desserts in the city, my brilliant friend Chelsea Sue suggested that we go on a dessert walk. The plan was to walk through Manhattan stopping along a pre-mapped route of about fifteen shops mentioned in the article. At each stop, one of us would buy the featured dessert to share (as well as anything else we just couldn’t resist…like that gooey, buttery, pecan-loaded sticky bun at Amy’s Bread).

We met up at Levain bakery on the Upper West Side and kick-started our sugar tour with one of Levain’s signature chunky, scone-sized cookies, Double Chocolate Peanut Butter. We followed that up with a chocolate brioche chaser. And yes, the word “chaser” does apply to dessert. Trust me on this one.

We might have been a little over-zealous at our first stop of the day, because at stop 2, Jacques Torres, there wasn’t much interest in Jacques’s famous chocolate chip cookies.

But a few blocks down, we stopped at Grandaisy Bakery and shared a zesty Lemon Ginger Sandwich Cookie.  Next up was Amy’s Bread, where we dutifully sampled the Kitchen Sink cookie featured in the article, and then devoured that sticky bun I mentioned. Well, it was mostly me doing the devouring.

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Almond Milk Panna Cotta with Roasted Apricots

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve probably noticed a whole lot of neologism going on. Well, it’s genetic.

Please join me in cordially welcoming the newest addition to the Bendit-Shtull lexicon, coined by none other than Mr. Michael J. Bendit:

Mannicotta
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A two course Italian meal consisting of manicotti, followed by panna cotta for dessert.

You thought for a second there that I actually cooked up something as decidedly savory as manicotta, didntcha?  This particular neologism was actually an accident. I didn’t make any manicotta. Sorry folks.

I did, however, make panna cotta!

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Orange CarAmels

Freshman year, my roommates and I spent a lot of time discussing pronunciation and American regional dialects. Living with one linguistics major and one most-likely linguistics major, it was pretty inevitable. I’d be sitting in my room flipping through Chinese flashcards, and there would be a knock at my door: an apologetic tap from Katie or a quick ratatat from Liz that made me jump out of my seat every time.

“Say ‘C O T.’ Ok, and say ‘C A U G H T.’” (Definitely two different pronounciations in my book)

“How do you say these words?” Katie hands me a scrap of paper: Dog. Log. Bog. Cog. (All the same to me!)

“Say ‘cherries’ again for me?” (I say cherries with an ‘e’ like ‘pen,’ but their midwestern cherries sound more like chair-ies). Continue reading

Peanut Cashew Brittle

It’s July 13th, and like most of my enchanted generation, I’ve been thinking a lot about the magical world. That is, Harry Potter. I wasn’t one of those kids who sunk into mini-depression when their 11th birthdays were wholly owl-free, but I wished I had gotten a letter cordially inviting me to witch-dom.  In retrospect, it only would have been exciting to get a letter if I were muggle-born. If my parents and siblings and cousins and great uncles were all wizards and witches, an owl would have been humdrum on a scale of 1 to The Boy Who Lived.

But sometimes baking makes me feel like a muggle-born with a Hogwarts letter. Growing up, sugar did all the ordinary things. It teaspooned sweetness into tea, sprinkled over ripe strawberries, turned my tongue blue and my lips green, and fulfilled its duties in cakes, cookies, brownies, muffins, and fruit loops.

Then—not exactly at age 11, but I’m flexible—sugar started doing magic for me. Continue reading

Sourdough Bread

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So much baking, so little blogging. I’m bursting to post the candy I’ve been making, but first I have to discuss my sourdough. My sourdough was the epitome of oh-so-good-with-butter-breadliness, but it didn’t quite put the ‘sour’ in ‘sourdough.’ I’m thinking it was the sourdough starter. The starter is sort of like an agar plate, with tiny little yeasts reproducing like mad in a 2-quart petri dish filled with flour and water.
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I’ve read through a bunch of starter recipes, from scary complicated recipes to super simple ones. Some say you can’t use the starter to make sourdough for 15 days, and other recipes say you can go right ahead after two or three days. Some call for rye flour and kefir and pineapple juice and mixing and waiting and adding and weighting, and others aren’t so freaking confusing. Continue reading

Creamsicle Marshmallows and More

Photo by Jen Kaplan

I realized I never showed you pictures of the other desserts I made for Jen’s birthday party. When we started planning the desserts, Jen suggested marshmallows, and I said I could do a double layer. We decided on vanilla and orange, and the duplex dessert tasted exactly like Creamsicle..

I only needed about 60 marshmallows, so I was tempted to make one batch and split it to make two flavors, but I decided to make to full batches to avoid some roadblocks.

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Roadblock 1: What if I’m happily beating orange extract into half of the marshmallows, and the rest of the marshmallow sets in the bowl before I can add vanilla and then I’m stuck with a bowl-shaped mass of unflavored marshmallow?

Well, fine, I’ll make a half batch of vanilla, spread it out in the pan, then make another half batch of orange, and put that on top. That way I won’t have to deal with bowl-shaped marshmallow clumps. Continue reading

Swirly Cinnamon Walnut Raisin Bread

This weekend I baked some truly delicious bread. Today I’m baking French bread, tomorrow I’m baking sourdough bread. The next day I’m planning some kind of honey oat bread. And focaccia suddenly sounds really good. Do you like olive bread? I like olive bread.
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My family hates me already.
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But back to this delicious bread. The five of us ate an entire loaf in one sitting. Slathered with butter. (Actually Smart Balance, but who says “Slathered with Smart Balance?” Smart Balance just does slather half as well.) So we came to a unanimous agreement that we should freeze the second loaf, and save it to fatten up some dinner company (after we lure them into our gingerbread apartment covered in Butterfingers and coconut Jelly Bellies, and before we stuff them in the stove to bake them). Continue reading