Madeleines

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My sister loves madeleines, so I decided to try making them myself.  Since I didn’t have a proper madeleine pan, I used a miniature rose cakelet pan she’d given me and found that it worked just as well.

 

Madeleines
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Yield: 12 large madeleines OR 36 mini madeleines

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon (optional)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

 

  1. If using lemon zest, place zest and sugar in a mixer bowl or large bowl.  Rub them together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant.  (I didn’t have a lemon, so I skipped this and thought the madeleines turned out fine.)
  2. Using the whisk attachment or a hand mixer, beat in eggs on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is pale, thick, and light.
  3. Beat in vanilla, baking powder, and salt.
  4. With a rubber spatula, very gently fold in flour, followed by butter.
  5. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, or up to 2 days.  This long chill period will help the batter form the hump that is characteristic of madeleines.  (For convenience, you can also spoon the batter into the madeleine molds, cover, and refrigerate, then bake directly from the fridge.  See below for instructions on prepping the pans.)
  6. Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400ºF.  Butter 12 full-size madeleine molds or up to 36 mini madeleine molds, dust the insides with flour, and tap out the excess.  If you have a non-stick pan, just give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray.  If you have a silicone pan, no prep is needed.
  7. Place the pan(s) on a baking sheet.
  8. Spoon batter into molds, filling each one almost to the top.  Don’t worry about spreading the batter evenly because the oven heat will take care of it.
  9. Bake large madeleines for 11-13 minutes OR minis for 8-10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when touched.  (My rose cakelets baked for 11-13 minutes.)
  10. Remove pan(s) from oven and release madeleines from molds by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter.
  11. Gently pry any recalcitrant madeleines from the pan using your fingers or a butter knife.
  12. Transfer madeleines to a rack to cool to just warm or to room temperature.
  13. If you are making minis and have more batter, bake the next batch(es), making certain to cool and properly prepare the pans before baking.
  14. If desired, dust madeleines with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.  The madeleines taste best the day they are made.
  15. If you must, you can wrap them airtight and freeze them for up to 2 months.

Peppermint Brownies

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This has long been one of my favorite brownie recipes, what with the rich chocolate flavor of the brownie itself combined with oozing chunks of peppermint patties.

 

Peppermint Brownies
Adapted from Hershey’s

Yield: 36 brownies

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3+1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2-2 cups sugar, depending on how sweet you want them
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups (8-oz package) York Mini Peppermint Patties OR 16-17 small (1 1/2-inch) York Peppermint Patties, chopped into quarters

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease 9″ x 13″ OR 9″ x 9″ baking pan.
  2. Stir together cocoa powder and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in 1/3 cup butter.
  4. Add boiling water and stir until mixture thickens.
  5. Stir in sugar, eggs, and remaining 1/3 cup butter.
  6. Mix until smooth.
  7. Add flour, vanilla, and salt.  Blend completely.
  8. Stir in peppermint patties.
  9. Spread batter in pan.
  10. Bake until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan:
    • 35-40 minutes in 9″ x 13″ pan
    • 45 minutes in 9″ x 9″ pan
  11. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
  12. Cut brownies into bars.

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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The Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from Quaker Oats are delicious, but personally I think that chocolate chips improve anything, so that’s how I always make them.  On the other hand, you can also use dried cranberries, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips…  Whatever you love best, really!

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Quaker Oats

Yield: 48 cookies

  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (optional, depending on how sweet you like desserts)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3 cups Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips OR raisins OR dried cranberries OR butterscotch chips OR peanut butter chips…

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Beat together butter and sugar(s) until creamy.
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  4. Beat in baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  5. Beat in flour.
  6. Stir in oats and chips OR dried fruit.
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
  9. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet, then transfer cookies to wire rack to finish cooling.

Chinese Sweet and Sour Ribs

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Sweet and sour ribs (tang cu pai gu) is a tasty and straightforward Chinese dish that you can serve as either an entree or an appetizer.  The ribs are cut into segments 1-2 inches long (you can ask your butcher to cut them).  The most important part of the recipe is the ratio of sauce ingredients; you can scale them up and down depending on how salty you like your food.

 

Chinese Sweet and Sour Ribs

Yield: 2-4 servings, depending how much meat you eat

  • 2.5 lbs pork baby back ribs, cut into 1-2 inch segments
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 5 tablespoons water

 

  1. In a large pot, boil ribs briefly (5-10 minutes) until a bunch of gunk forms on the surface of the water.
  2. Pour out hot water and rinse ribs with cold water.
  3. Transfer ribs to a non-stick pot and add rice wine, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and water.
  4. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon.
  5. With the lid on, bring to a boil and simmer for 40 minutes.
  6. Turn the heat to high, remove the lid, and let the liquids boil off, stirring from time to time.