Sarabeth Levine - Goddess of Bakedom
 
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CATEGORY: Cookies

 

MORNING COOKIES

 

IMG_1073.jpg oatmeal cookies

These Morning Cookies are beautiful and remind me of jewelry designer, Ted Muehling's, Queen Anne's Lace Earrings. If only I could transform them into a pair of his extraordinary baubles. Goddess, where are your powers?  

 

 

I love the light  almost lacy texture of these cookies. They are less fragile than lace cookies and as long as they are kept in an airtight container, will stay crisp and snappy forever—which is exactly how I like them. 
Now for some cookie talk and the recipe.


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HAMANTASCHEN- REVISITED

 

Purim will be here in a few days and I have had numerous request for my Hamanaschen recipe. Rather than refer you to search the archives of my blog, I am posting the entry again.  No searching necessary will give you no excuses for not trying this classic recipe. 
If you are not in the mood to make them, stop by the bakery and pick up a few. 

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 Purim is the springtime Jewish festival celebrating the Jews freedom from persecution. King Ahashuerus was almost tricked by his advisor Haman to annihilate  the Jews of Persia.  Esther, who became his new queen and her uncle Mordecai, the new advisor, helped the King save their people. Haman and his followers were sent to the gallows. The tradition of making hamantaschen has continued throughout Jewish history and they are meant to be shared with family and friends. They are called shalach moneswhich is the Yiddish expression for the giving or sharing of food. Shaped into triangles to signify the hat of Haman, these little cakes or cookies can be stuffed with a poppy seed, prune or fruit filling. I add orange juice for the steaming of the dried prunes and raisins, a touch of cinnamon, and of course vanilla.

My granddaughters, SammijoLilli and Chloe, always remind me when the holiday is coming. I love that they continue the family heritage of their great-grandmother Margaret and me, using the family recipe to bake their hamantaschen at home. They fill them with Sarabeth's Peach-Apricot Spreadable Fruit.


Continue reading HAMANTASCHEN- REVISITED

GLUTEN-FREE ALMOND CRISPS

 

IMG_1060.jpg almonds crisps

I think my favorite part of our Apple Bretonne Tartlets is the sweet crunchy almond topping. When I was making them the other day, I had some leftover sugar soaked almonds. Bakers never like to waste anything and we also love to reinvent the wheel. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter as a template, I shaped the unbaked almond topping into round cookie shapes and popped them in the oven for 15 minutes. They disappeared quickly like magic. The bakers loved them and insisted we make them part of our cookie collection. The texture is delicately crisp and the taste is not overly sweet—and I love the added dimension of the vanilla. The extra bonus is they are gluten free—perfect for those with a wheat allergy. Now if I can only make them sugar-free for my husband Bill, that would be a miracle. I promised him I would work on it! 

ALMOND CRISPS
Makes 16  3-inch-diameter cookies

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla or the seeds from 1/2 of a vanilla bean
3 cups (12 ounces) sliced almonds with skins, lightly toasted


1 Position racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Line 2-half sheet pans with parchment paper.

2. Whisk the egg whites in a medium bowl until foamy. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Using a silicon spatula, gently fold the almonds into the egg white mixture taking care not to break the nuts. 
IMG_1043.JPG almond crisps

2. Using a 3-inch-diameter entremet ring or straight-edged cookie cutter, place 2 rounded tablespoons of the nut mixture in the center of the ring on the sheet pans, about 1 inch apart. Using your fingers, evenly distribute the mixture. Remove the ring. Continue shaping the remaining crisps.

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3. Place the trays in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the trays after 10 minutes and bake for an additional 5 minutes, until golden brown. Set the timer—they burn quickly!


CHOCOLATE-CHERRY BUTTER COOKIES

 

IMG_0790.JPG chocolate cherry sable

The frenzy of the holidays has left me in a "full throttle"  baking mode and yes, I am still going strong. I made these cookies for the first time about two years ago and fortunately remembered them last week and quickly whipped up a batch to sell in the bakery for New Year's. A spin off of my traditional shortbread, I have added an egg yolk to the dough to give the cookie a more delicate, less "snappy" texture. In keeping with my motto, keep plenty on hand, "There can never be too many cookies waiting in your favorite cookie jar".  They are my new favorite and will be available in the bakery on a regular basis in case you don't feel like making them yourself (recipe below).

My baking mantra has always been "less is more". There is nothing more beautiful than a 2 1/4- 2 1/2-inch diameter cookie like this Chocolate-Cherry Shortbread, or a proper sized muffin to feed one person, or a perfectly proportioned 8-inch chocolate birthday cake. If you have my recent book, Sarabeth's Bakery, you are already familiar with smaller sized cookies, pies and cakes that have been my signature for many years. The Pecan Moons are just one bite and the Chocolate Marmalade Sandwich Cookies, approximately 1-3/4 inches across the the top, are impossible to share.  


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ANNE SEVERSON'S CHRISTMAS GINGERSNAPS

 

IMG_0757.JPG gingersnaps

 Wednesday is the one day of the week that I actually have what I call my ritual "moment to myself lunch" with the New York Times Dining Section. This past week, I grabbed the morning paper as it arrived at the bakery and searched feverishly for the section. I knew it would be devoted to Christmas and I just couldn't wait until lunchtime—my recent lunches have been pretty short; almost non-existent due to my busy baking schedule. This particular morning, I headed to my office paper and coffee in hand and closed the door. The article was titled, The Gifts? I Forget. But The Meal!  I loved reading all the food memories and recipes from nine of the most respected food writers of our time.

When I came to Kim Severson's contribution, I was extremely moved. It wasn't what I had expected or wanted to read. Kim's mom Anne, suffers from Parkinsons Disease. I experienced my own mother's 25 year battle with this debilitating disease. Kim shares her mom's recipe for Gingersnaps and expresses her hope that maybe her mom can muster up enough strength, to roll the tender balls of dough between her shaky hands, just one more time.

I quickly tweeted Kim and made Anne's Gingersnaps the next morning. As you can see from my photo, they came out great. These slightly soft and delicate cookies are perfectly spiced and are exactly what you would expect from a classic ginger cookie. In honor of my mom, Dore Blume, who would have loved these cookies and as an homage to Anne Severson, Merry Christmas.


Continue reading ANNE SEVERSON'S CHRISTMAS GINGERSNAPS

COOKIES FROM SCRAPS AKA "SCROOKIES"

 

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Recently, while working in the bakery, I noticed a pile of tart dough scraps on the marble work bench. The bakers had just finished lining small tart pans with dough. We make lots of tart shells, the scraps were plentiful, and they were just about to clean the bench and discard them.  Our dough is rolled out twice, as over handling activates the gluten and makes the tarts tough. Unfortunately, some dough is discarded. We try to minimize the waste by cutting the dough circles very close to one another. That morning, the thought of throwing out the delicious pile of perfectly good scraps, tugged at my heart strings. I just couldn't bear to waste all that dough and l quickly grabbed the scraps. I did not rework them, instead, using a pastry wheel, I cut the dough into  smaller pieces and mixed a few handfuls of our muffin streusel into the dough, wondering what they would be like if they were distributed through out the dough. Next, using a 2 1/2-inch-diameter plain cookie cutter as a mold, I pressed a 1/3-inch layer of the mixture into the cutter to form a round shape and then I removed the cutter. I had enough dough to make several dozen cookies. After chilling them 30 minutes, I finished them off with sprinkling sugar and a touch of coarse sea salt. If you like roasted cashews, chop a few and put them in with the mix. Omit the salt if you use salted cashews. Pop them in a 350°F. oven and bake them until golden brown, about 18 minutes. They were really terrific. Having the streusel crumbs through out the entire cookie, and the fact that you can break small little pieces of the cookie off like a puzzle piece, and pop them in your mouth makes them fun to eat.  Tart or cookie? If you serve them with ice-cream on top—a tart. If you eat them as they are—a cookie. Break them up and fold them in your favorite ice cream, heavenly—I call them Scrookies.


Continue reading COOKIES FROM SCRAPS AKA "SCROOKIES"

PECAN MOONS AND MY BELOVED "COOKIE"

 

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My mother, Dore Blume, was not only beautiful, but she was smart. She was a trendsetter, a fashion plate and could add  4-digit ledger columns in her head. She raised five children, owned a retail fur shop and later became the buyer/manager of Macy's fur department for 25 years. Shortly after her retirement in 1983 (age 67), our eastside restaurant had only been opened a few months, when our manager decided to relocate without any notice. I called her that morning. "Mother, the manager just quit and you have to come and help me at the restaurant for two weeks. Only two, just until I find a new manager. I have too much to take care of and your the only one who can handle the restaurant." Two weeks turned into ten years. Still not ready to retire, we transferred her to our restaurant at the Whitney Museum to handle the bookkeeping, and finally to our bakery at the Chelsea Market, where she retired at the age of 87— twenty years later. Mother died this past October at the age of 94. 

There isn't an item in our bakery that Dore didn't love— and she could tell you every ingredient in each, as well as how much she liked it. These Pecan Moon cookies were her favorite and she ate one or two every day, always with a comment. "These are delicious", sometimes followed by, "it's going to rain today and the cookies are not crisp". This post is a tribute to her, my beloved "cookie", an amazing human being.


Continue reading PECAN MOONS AND MY BELOVED "COOKIE"

MONET BUTTERY SHORTBREAD FOR THE ROYAL WEDDING

 

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I adore the French Impressionist painters as much as I do a perfect butter cookie. These shortbreads allow me to experience the thrill of both. Inspired by the unmistakable style of Claude Monet, I decorate my cookies with a painterly technique. It is easy to forget that one is baking as you dab and brush these cookies with pastel colored edible petal dust. If you have a chance to visit Paris, it is definitely worth the hour train ride to Giverny to see the glorious gardens that inspired Monet's masterpieces —and these cookies can become treasures to enjoy at your very own Royal Wedding. They are easy enough for a child to make, so grab your brushes and follow me...
 


Continue reading MONET BUTTERY SHORTBREAD FOR THE ROYAL WEDDING

PASSOVER MACAROONS

 

lemon peel IMG_1622.jpg

To My New Baking Friends and Family,

Wishing you a Happy Passover filled with chocolate macaroons and candied lemons. Please come and visit the bakery for your holiday sweets. If you see me through the window, come in and say hello. 
Now join me in the kitchen and lets make macaroons...


Continue reading PASSOVER MACAROONS

PURIM + HAMANTASCHEN RECIPE

 

hamanIMG_0677.JPG

 Purim is the springtime Jewish festival celebrating the Jews freedom from persecution. King Ahashuerus was almost tricked by his advisor Haman to annihilate  the Jews of Persia.  Esther, who became his new queen and her uncle Mordecai, the new advisor, helped the King save their people. Haman and his followers were sent to the gallows. The tradition of making hamantaschen has continued throughout Jewish history and they are meant to be shared with family and friends. They are called shalach mones, which is the Yiddish expression for the giving or sharing of food. Shaped into triangles to signify the hat of Haman, these little cakes or cookies can be stuffed with a poppy seed, prune or fruit filling. I add orange juice for the steaming of the dried prunes and raisins, a touch of cinnamon, and of course vanilla.

My granddaughters, Sammijo, Lilli and Chloe, always remind me when the holiday is coming. I love that they continue the family heritage of their great-grandmother Margaret and me, using the family recipe to bake their hamantaschen at home. They fill them with Sarabeth's Peach-Apricot Spreadable Fruit.


Continue reading PURIM + HAMANTASCHEN RECIPE

SABLES-THE CHAMELEONS OF THE COOKIE WORLD

 

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I have loved this cookie forever. The luxury to just grab my jams off the shelves and pop them in my cookies is just the best. The cookie dough for this recipe is simple to make. The French call them sablés. They are sandy in texture, light and buttery in taste, with an extra touch of lemon and salt to brighten their flavor. To be more traditional, you can replace the lemon with 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean. Some people liken this dough to shortbread, which has no eggs, but I think this dough has a finer crumb and are more sophisticated—after all, they are a little bit French!

This particular dough has found its way into many of my cookie recipes. (Sometimes I even use it as a tart dough.) In my baking book, I sandwich the cookies with marmalade and dip them in chocolate. You can transform them by substituting cocoa powder, or almond flour for some of the flour, or fill them with chocolate ganache. Or, simply egg wash them and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and finely chopped pecans. Whenever I bake these at Sarabeth's, I always leave a dozen plain and sprinkle them with a little sugar just before placing them in the oven. If you happen to be passing by our bakery, you might just see me through the window, popping a few off the cooling rack into my mouth!


Continue reading SABLES-THE CHAMELEONS OF THE COOKIE WORLD

LINZER HEARTS + A PERFECT PAIR

 

Mother met father when she was 22 years old. Joe was a furrier and Doré was a fur model. This photo was taken shortly after they were married and they were attending a black-tie ball in 1939. They loved to dance and were really quite good— my Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. What a stunning couple—if only I could see them on the dance floor one more time.             

             HAPPY VALENTINES DAY 

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       HERES LOOKING AT YOU, COOKIE!

                           YOUR LOVING DAUGHTER,  SARABETH  

 

 linzerIMG_3298.jpg

LINZER HEARTS —A PERFECT PAIR
LIKE GINGER ROGERS AND FRED ASTAIRE

LINZER  HEARTS (Click here or on the photo for the recipe.)
From Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours, Rizzoli 2010
Thank you to Liete's Culinaria for posting my Linzer Heart recipe on their site. 
(Linzer Hearts photograph by Quentin Bacon)

 

        

 

                                

 


Continue reading LINZER HEARTS + A PERFECT PAIR

MY FIRST TEACHER AND RECIPE

 

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MARGARET FIRESTONE
(1911-2006)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret Firestone was the grandmother of my two daughters and was my earliest culinary mentor. Her specialty was the food and desserts of her native Hungary. It seems like yesterday, that we enjoyed these biscotti-style cookies, called mandelbrot (Yiddish for almond bread), while chatting over a cup of coffee. Margaret used many different store bought flavors of preserves to fill her cookies —I never knew what I was going to find inside her mandelbrot. Being a jam maker has its advantages— lots of flavors to choose from that are always fresh from my pot!  I am going to make these cookies for you with my orange-apricot marmalade. Margaret would have loved the combination; marmalade was her favorite.


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THE CLOUDS & MISS MUFFET

 

LITTLE MISS MUFFET SAT ON HER TUFFET
AFTER BAKING CLOUD COOKIES ALL DAY

ALONG CAME A SPIDER WHO SNUGGLED BESIDE HER...new spiderDSC04637.JPG

THEN TOOK ALL HER COOKIES AWAY. 
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Continue reading THE CLOUDS & MISS MUFFET

GINGERBREAD COOKIES

 

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Christmas is almost here, and as usual I can be found in my favorite place, the bakery "baking my buns" off. I have been making gingerbread cookies all week and I surprised myself by finding the time to break down this recipe from the very large batch that we make at the bakery. I wanted you to have the recipe in time for Christmas, and I did it! In my previous post (lesson), I teach you how to decorate your favorite Christmas cookies by dipping them in tempered chocolate and then sprinkling them with dragees (silver balls). I love gingerbread and would probably make it all year round if  they weren't considered by many, to be a Christmas cookie.

 There is a wonderful biscuiterie in Brussels called Dandoy, that specializes in biscuits (cookies) and speculaas (gingerbread). I have been to the shop several times—never leaving without several bags filled with boxes of cookies. I adore the thin and crispy ones and prefer them to the thicker cookies that are made by pressing the dough into a decorative wooden mold. I think they are the best I have ever eaten. (Dandoy has been baking speculaas everyday of the year since 1829.) 


Continue reading GINGERBREAD COOKIES

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