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Posts Tagged ‘Cookies’

Courtesy of Miss Chien

Right now, I am stuck with too many cookies.  All I can say is that I bake when I am stressed.  You know, the CPA exam studying will do that to you, and there is only so much of “share the love” you can do when you’re virtually pounding out 3 dozen cookies every other day.

I have stopped baking so much partially because of this, but more so because I have hit that point where I learned as much as I can as an amateur baker that baking another brownie doesn’t really excite me anymore.  That’s why, I posit, I have to make so many darn cookies–that batch just doesn’t excite me the way it used to a few years ago!

I have tried the cake decorating route.  I threw my hands over the straight-up cooking route.  I am starting to dabble a little more in food photography.  Nothing has quite found ground yet, so where do I go from here?

For now, I am just spending time with friends and showing them how to bake things like these chocolate sables.  My friend had chosen to make them because they were so beautifully elegant.  Then again, what of Pierre Herme’s is not beautiful or elegant?

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Of all the possible ways I choose to spend my leisure time during tax busy season, I chose to stand for a few hours straight, dirty myself up with flour and butter, and wait some more only to wash off the oily stains of cookies or cakes.  Sometimes, the thought tired me because my body was so badly in need of sleep, but I found myself needing more of the exercise of thinking about the nuances to create a sweet, charming, and beautiful dessert. Something about daydreaming over ripe berries and juicy tomatoes kept me going.  Haha, to some degree, they were the colorful markers that the tax busy season would be over soon.  That’s why when it was all over, I was absolutely ready to make a fruit dessert.

Right now, it’s a bit of this funny season, where the winter fruits have left the stands, and the summer fruits have yet to arrive.  There’s not much to work with other than the heart-shaped strawberries, which I have oohed and ahhed and have eaten plain or macerated for simple desserts, but I am really pining for the other summer berries, especially blueberries.  The thought of ripe berries baking until the juices burst and stain and splatter with dark-almost violet-blue splotches over coffee cake makes me happy.  Until they appear on the stands too, I have to make do with the dried kind.

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These days, my time feels shorter than normal.  Although I pulse through the school routine just fine, I realize that free time (as I know it) is nearly over.  Busy season is coming soon, and with that, comes my first set of horror stories and late work hours.  Haha, I can be doing the storytelling soon instead of listening to managers and partners shock young interns and first-year associates :)

Thus, I have been keeping myself busy, so I would stop worrying.  I am whittling down my bucket list of things to do.  I am getting out of the house (and books) more often.  Of course, that pulls away from time in the kitchen hence the dearth of posts.

I am here again after realizing how much I missed the serenity of mindfully rummaging through the drawers for measuring spoons; listening to the whirl of the standing mixer cream butter and sugar; and scooping neat balls of cookie dough out on a pan.  I am returning to the kitchen to whittle down the last of my list of things to make, starting with these Christina Tosi cookies.

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Living as an adult child in my parents’ house is awkward, especially having lived out on my own.  Even going through my daily routine merits questions.  Scurrying out the door in workout gear still merits the questions of “where are you going” and “when will you be back?”  To that, I coyly answer, “Before curfew?” ^.~

Other times, it’s a bit challenging to maintain a sense of humor.  I like having my own space free of surveillance, especially since I do not believe I have any intentions that merit concern.  I know, I know–baking and yoga are very worrisome activities.  Well, I can see if it is a concern if maybe if I was attempting world domination seducing people one cookie at a time :P

In any case, I attempted to keep my dad off my back since I know he’s very partial to thumbprint cookies.  The man likes his jam and his cookies.  Together?  He can’t help but eat a couple in one sitting.  Plus, this twist on the classic has honey-roasted peanuts in it.  It’s the perfect combination to keep him thoughtfully nomming on cookies instead of fussing over his daughter.

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I have been thinking about New York a lot lately.  Maybe it’s because one of my dear friends is considering attending medical school in the City.  Or maybe it’s because I see so many recipes from NYC (and the boroughs) restaurants popping up on Serious Eats.  Or maybe I am just feeling nostalgic because all I have are fond memories of visiting such a vibrant city.

My fascination with NYC started when I was going to college in central New York.  My classmates, many of whom were from the City, Long Island and Jersey, insisted that I was missing out on awesome food.  Although they came off as slightly zealous (i.e. poking fun of my unusual moon cakes [nothing wrong with them! O-O] that I received during Mid-Autumn Festival from my mother), I knew they were well-intentioned.  Furthermore, I always felt as though I had my head in the sand during my high school years thanks partly to intense nerdom [Asian high school, don’t ask] and partly to my introversion.

Thus, I spent most of my freshman year following my dorm mates around, which introduced me to a world that included such delights like garlic knots and fried dough.  Granted my college town then was surrounded by pumpkin patches and corn fields, I always felt like I was getting a preview of New York City food culture–that is, I never seemed to get the full experience of something that was awesome and inspiring.  Food always seem to fall short of expectations, but I assumed that was because I was here and not in the City.  One of those was the ever-so popular black-and-white cookies that many in the East Coast seem to hold so dear.

“You’ve got to try it.  They’re AMAZING!  My most favorite cookie ever!”  my classmate gushed.

With that in mind, I innocently marched up to the only bakery in that small, small town that sold black-and-whites and bought some only to find that these beautiful cookies tasted mostly of icing sugar.  Sugar bomb!  I was sad.  Really.  How could a cookie so pretty and charming taste so saccharine?  I was unimpressed, and it took me a few years before black-and-white cookies piqued my interest again…  (more…)

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Hamantaschen

Disclaimer: Although my hamantaschen looked as darling as these cookies here, these cookies are from the SF Examiner article.  These are slightly more pyramidal than mine, which actually looks more like Honey Never Spoil’s.  (Duh, because I used the recipe from there!)  Unfortunately, I was clumsy and forgot to bring my camera when I made them, so poo on me!

I first met hamantaschen at at a San Francisco bakery boasting “real NY-style water bagels.”  Ah yes, quite a peculiar place to be for a person who considers herself a California girl.  I mean, “real NY-style water bagels” do not have the appeal of a passion fruit bavarian cake, especially if one has a sweet tooth.

However, I have been to New York and lived there for some time during my early college years.  While I was largely surrounded by cornfields and pumpkin patches instead of the urban jungle of New  York City, I did get acquainted with things like New York style pizza and black and white cookies.  Consequently, I have learned not to question the hype about New York’s distinctive culture–it’s one of those things I have to try and eat to understand and appreciate!  Apparently, I missed the introduction to the New York-style bagels, so I guess this was my opportunity to eat up the hype… literally!

Unfortunately, my introduction to the New York bagel seemed to have gotten upstaged by hamantaschen.  (That isn’t to say the bagels weren’t fabulous, which they were!)  I attribute that partly to my dad, who I dragged along since he likes to eat bagels.  As I began to order the bagels for my dad and me, I noticed my dad continued to stare at the bakery section, as if he was totally entranced by the cookies.  Macaroons, black and white cookies, and hamantaschen–all of which were foreign yet strangely delicious looking to my dad.

“Dad, would you like schmear with your bagels?”

“What?  Uh no!  I am good!”

“Okay.  Did you want anything else?”

“No…”

Of course, he’s still staring at the bakery items while he says this.  Apparently, he is sold on the New York food hype without even tasting it!  Haha, seeing hamantaschen again in the food blogs a few months ago reminded me and was my inspiration to make these cookies :)

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A friend asked me once why I fussed over the gift-packaging.  I mean, I was the kind of person who followed the Japanese gift-wrapping instruction books or took to my own inspiration and combined random origami elements together.  She noted that people just rip open the package to look at the contents inside, which would make my attempts fruitless.  However, I also noted that when you see a fancy gift package, you also realize the person may have spent a little more time wrapping the present.  In other words, the person was thinking of you in creating a “complete” gift–fancy wrapping paper, colorful ribbon, and all.

As a gift-giver, I worry about a lot of things.  I want the gift to be thoughtful, appropriate, and pretty!  Sometimes, it’s impossible to meet all those criteria because there are so many variables I am assessing simultaneously that I overlook something.  As much as I want to understand and anticipate the will-she-like it answer, I have to expect that I do not think of everything.

In any case, this night was a slightly special night to give an early congratulations to a friend who is waiting to hear back from the last of the medical schools.  (See, I will not be physically here to celebrate, so I thought I might as well offer the toast and some goodies before I head back to San Francisco this weekend.)  I guess I am kind of like the Food Fairy–I bring goodies to all that I befriend O-O.  Well, you see me, so I guess I am not that magical…

Although it was a drive I have done many times before, I focused on rehearsing this little speech.  I have never done that before since all of my previous visits were casual.  This time, I felt that I needed to elaborate on my intentions because I omitted the complementary greeting car.  Haha, bad idea because I think I was a bit unnatural.  (My public speaking instructor should whack me in the head since I did the very thing he told us not to do for public speaking–that is, memorizing and reciting a speech word-for-word.)  Plus, I feel horrible that I forgot to respond to a “hello.”  Poo on my poor social graces.

In any case, I am sure that my friend and her family enjoyed the goods anyway, but yes, I tend to second-guess myself frequently.  I always think in terms of the worst case scenario.  What if this happened?  But if I do this, that will happen?  Gosh, the second-guessing never ends, which is bad in terms of making brown butter…

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