Friday, January 8, 2016

Caramel Macaroon Thumbprint Cookies

Or, what I wish Caramel deLites were.

Tea for two, and two for tea...
These cookies are almost candy. And they're made especially easy by the purchase of dulce de leche, a confection of boiled sweetened condensed milk sent by the gods. It's in a can, right next to the sweetened condensed milk, and for basically no extra charge they caramelize it for you.


You make basic coconut macaroons and form into disks, except after baking you push a little well into the center and fill it with delicious dulce de leche. A drizzle of chocolate seals the deal and will make you the most popular kid in high school.

If you've never made macaroons, this is a great chance to try. They're not too tricky, and the ingredient list is short. You start with egg whites, sugar, and flavorings (salt and vanilla), and whisk it until frothy. Then just dump in the coconut, shape, and bake!


Of course, if you're looking for extra credit, extra flavor, or extra fanciness, you can lightly toast the coconut before mixing it in. A billion points extra credit, as one of my professors likes to say.

Also pictured: "guard" dog Sally, in the background, watching for intruders
Whatever adventure you pick, these are quick cookies that look fancy. They're chewy and sweet and sticky and everything wonderful. Make a batch, make some friends!

Caramel Macaroon Thumbprint Cookies
Yield: About 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can dulce de leche (available by the sweetened condensed milk or in the hispanic foods section)
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, broken into pieces
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper, silicone baking sheets, or foil and nonstick spray.
  2. On one of the baking sheets, put coconut. Toast in the oven 5-7 minutes, or until just starting to color around the edges. Let cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, combine egg whites, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whisk until frothy and completely combined. Add coconut and stir to combine. If it seems like there's a lot of extra liquid, add some more coconut (I didn't do this and some of mine were too soppy) until the mixture doesn't have extra liquid in the bowl.
  4. Scoop by heaping tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets. Flatten with the bottom of a glass (dipping your hands and the glass in water help keep them from sticking) and shape into nice round disks.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown around the edges. Immediately after taking out of the oven, use two small spoons or your thumb to press an indentation in the middle of each cookie.
  6. Melt about half a cup of dulce de leche in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds, then spoon into the divots. I didn't do this but I wish I had!
  7. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second bursts. Use a fork to drizzle over cookies.
  8. Serve with tea or as dessert! Cookies keep stored in an airtight container for 4 or 5 days, but they sure didn't last that long in my house.
Inspired by Bakers Royale, recipe from the Kitchn



Friday, January 1, 2016

The Best Lentil Salad


Happy New Year!

Of course, it's January 1st and everyone's all about resolutions. But that's not really why I'm writing about vegetarian salad.

See? I made cake too!


Well, the cake was for Christmas dinner. Joy the Baker wrote the recipe, so all due credit...her baking brain is on point! It's a soft cake lifted entirely by separated eggs (no flour), intensely chocolately with melted dark chocolate, and gussied up with orange zest and freshly grated nutmeg. I highly recommend it!


But this salad...this salad!! It's my favorite kind of salad. Legumey protein, all the flavor, and everything chopped up into the same size small pieces.

Does it ever bother you how hard it is to get a bite of salad with each component on it? Like, trying to get a toasted pecan, a sliver of dried apricot, greens, and a crouton on a fork is an unduly trying challenge.

You can eat this salad with a SPOON! Forks work too. I bet a spork would be splendid. I might stay away from eating off a knife if I were you, but hey...whatever pickles your caper.


Speaking of which! This salad also has capers, which you can't see because they look just like overgrown lentils. But their bright brininess, combined with earthy lentils, bitter and crunchy radish, sharp red onion, salty and tangy goat cheese, and herbaceous parsley make an awesome combo. It helps that the dressing has 10 different spices, almost as many as KFC chicken.


Got that? This salad is once spice away from being as delicious as fried chicken!

Not.

Anyway, the combination is the brainchild of Sarah at My New Roots. There's all the warm holiday spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and even cardamom!), plus cayenne, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. The combination is unexpected, leaning towards curry but not quite, a delicious and unexpected melange. It will seem like a lot of spices for the salad, but trust me when I say it makes a ton.

Cheers!
I had New Years dinner with 5 friends from high school, a tradition we've been doing since, well, high school! Everyone brought their A-game to the potluck, and we ate like queens, including making just a small dent in the bowl of lentils. It was lovely to see them all again and reconnect!

Chicken tacos, fruit salad, parmesan risotto, and of course, LENTILS!
Here's the recipe, with a few modifications! But use what you have, and what's in season, and what you like.

The Best Lentil Salad
Yield: 8 or 9 cups of salad. It's like a LOT. My friends and I hardly made a dent in the bowl.

To cook the lentils:
  • 2 1/4 cups (1 lb.) Du Puy lentils, cooked (French green lentils from the bulk bins at whole foods did the trick...they need to keep their shape, so red or yellow lentils won't work as well)
  • 32 oz box of vegetable or chicken stock
Rinse and sort the lentils to make sure there are no stones mixed in there. Put lentils and stock into a pot and add water to bring liquid level a few inches above the surface of the lentils. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, checking for doneness frequently near the last 5 minutes. Strain and rinse, then put in a big mixing bowl with...
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup dried currants (soak in hot water for 5 minutes if they're old and crusty like mine were)
  • 1/3 cup capers (basically a whole jar)
  • 5-6 radishes, thinly sliced (I used a food processor, but a mandoline would also work)
Vinaigrette: While the lentils are cooking, shake all ingredients in a leak-proof container. Then, toss with salad ingredients
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
Before serving, add in, or top each bowl as desired with:
  • 1 cup parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
Recipe adapted slightly from My New Roots.