With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Candied Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

Most days I'm a firm proponent of the idea that some good things need no embellishment.

But I can't deny that once in awhile, going off the beaten path, adding a little something extra, and making life different just feels right.

Well balanced on good days, mildly out of sync on others.  Adding and taking away here and there, seeing what works and seeing what sticks.

In theory, a metaphor for the 20's decade of my life.  In reality, probably just cookies.

Regardless of which, always fitting.

Candied ginger and sea salt add what feels like a sophisticated kick to a comforting and familiar favorite.  Minimal change for maximum wow factor, something different.

Something good.

By no means be limited to only adding candied ginger.  Orange zest, toasted almonds, or cinnamon chips would be great additions as well.  Sky's the limit.

Try it out.  See what fits.

But isn't that what it's all about?

Candied Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Servings: About 1 1/2 dozen cookies


- 1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 2-3 pinches sea salt
- 8 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 3/4 dark chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Cream the butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat in egg and vanilla until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add in dry ingredients on a low speed until just combined.  Stir in chocolate chips and candied ginger.  Scoop into 1 Tbsp size balls and place on cookie sheet lined with baking mat or parchment paper.  Bake 8-10 minutes, or until edges are lightly golden and centers are set.  Let stand 1-2 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Store in an air tight container at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from:  Minimalist Baker

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Banana Cream Pie

Often times, for me, comfort is a state of mind.

A moment of quiet enjoyed where nothing is imminent or pressing.

Not experienced nearly often enough lately but appreciated in any dose, however small.

This pie is definition comfort.

Classic. Homey. Simple by design, extraordinary in execution.

Flaky pastry crust, brown sugar pastry cream, thinly sliced fresh bananas, and homemade whipped cream combine to make a sum better than its parts.

Memorable and indulgent. A touch of sweetness that's just enough.

A reminder to pause and enjoy.

I think youll be inclined to do just that. (And maybe more than once.)

A real winner in my book.


Banana Cream Pie
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Servings: 1-9 inch pie


For the Pie Dough:
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 10 Tbsp very cold unsalted butter, cut into Tablespoons
- 2 1/2 Tbsp very cold vegetable shortening, cut into 2-3 pieces
- 1/4 cup ice water

For the Custard:
- 2 cups whole milk
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3 Tbsp cold unsalted butter (cut into bits)

3-4 ripe bananas

For the Whipped Cream
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp sour cream


Make Pie Dough:
Put the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer filled with the paddle attachment.  Pulse to combine.  Drop in butter and shortening and pulse just until cut into flour.  Don't over mix.  Look for pieces of butter and shortening the size of green peas.  Pulsing the machine on and off gradually add 3 Tbsp water.  Use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour.  If after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened, pulse in remaining water as necessary to get a dough that will stick together when pinched.  Big pieces of butter are ok.  Combine dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Butter a 9-inch pie plate.  Roll out the dough into a 12 inch circle on a lightly floured work surface.  Fit the dough to the pie plate and cut excess to a 1/2 inch overhang.  Tuck overhang under itself and pinch into a design if desired (or press with the tines of a fork!).  Refrigerate crust and pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Butter a piece of aluminum foil and place (butter side down) in the pie crust.  Fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.  Carefully remove foil and weights.  If the crust has puffed press down with a spoon.  Bake again (with foil removed) until golden, about 10 minutes more.  Let cool completely before filling.

Make Custard:
Bring milk to a boil.  Meanwhile, in a separate heavy bottomed saucepan whisk together yolks, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until well blended.  Whisking nonstop, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk, then whisk in the remaining milk in a heavy stream.  Put the pan over medium heat and whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.  Boil for a minute and then remove from heat.  Whisk in vanilla extract.  Let stand for a few minutes and then whisk in butter.  Press a piece of plastic directly onto the top of the custard and refrigerate until completely cool.

Make Whipped Cream:
Pour the cream into a clean bowl of a electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Cream on high speed until it just starts to thicken.  Beat in powdered sugar, vanilla, and sour cream until combined.

Assemble Pie:
Place cool pie crust down.  Take custard from refrigerator and whisk to soften.  Cut bananas into 1/4 inch think slices.  Spread a thin layer of custard on the bottom of the pie crust. Then place a layer of cute bananas.  Spread another thin layer of custard on top of that, followed by another layer of cut bananas.  Finish with the remaining custard in a layer.  Top with big piles of whipped cream, smoothed out to your liking.  Serve immediately if you can, but if not refrigerate and serve from the refrigerator.  Store all leftovers in the refrigerator.

Recipe adapted from: Baking From My Home to Yours