What do you do when a baking icon shows up at your door? (or in this case, a friend’s door) Well, when it’s Dorie Greenspan you don’t have to worry. Relax, because she is as natural and easy as they come
My friend Sheryl Julian (former editor of the Boston Globe food section) was interviewing Dorie at her house, and I was the lucky fly on the wall. I opened the door to Dorie and her husband, and it was like greeting an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in a while. In fact, I had met Dorie quite a few years ago, but I was sure she wouldn’t remember me. She did (or she had the grace to say so) and the conversation picked up from there.
Dorie made Caramel Sugar Pufflets from her new book, Dorie’s Cookies. Leave it to Dorie to reinvent a vintage recipe and give it a modern twist (from the 1961 book 1001 Dairy Dishes from the Sealtest Kitchens.) It’s an abbreviated layered dough (like puff pastry) made with butter, sour cream and yeast. The dough is a dream to roll out, which makes these pastries undemanding and fun to bake. The dough is slightly salty, contrasting perfectly with the caramelized sugar layers. I would show you my photo of them, but alas, they were too enticing to make it in front of the camera—somebody ate them, but I won’t say who.
Never mind, because you can see them here and read Sheryl’s story (and get the recipe.)
I know it’s the eleventh hour, but I wanted to post this since really, there are still a few days left to shop and bake. The book is a must-give to a baking friend. You can never have too many cookie recipes, and Dorie’s are well researched and tested. You will find each delicious bite in every size shape and size imaginable.
There is so much more to say, but I have to get back to baking. If you are looking for a real last-minute treat, here is one I photographed and immediately gave away. I’ve put Dorie’s slogan on her next tee shirt “Bake and Release” into practice. That’s how a prolific baker such as Dorie Greenspan keeps her girlish figure.
Chocolate fruit and nut bars
Makes 18 (4 1/2-by-1-inch) bars
The possibilities of toppings for these bars are open ended. If you have some nuts, dried fruit and chocolate around the house, you won’t even have to make a special trip to shop for ingredients. The choices run the gamut: whole almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, cranberries, chopped apricots, chopped candied ginger, or whatever strikes your fancy will do. Make sure to finely chop the chocolate, and don’t forget a smidgen of salt.
8 ounces dark, bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups mixed, unsalted, raw nuts and seeds such as pistachios, cashews, and pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chopped dried fruit of your choosing
1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with a parchment paper rectangle that is 9 inches wide and slightly longer than the pan. The parchment should fit on the bottom and extend up the two short sides of the pan. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
2. Spread the chocolate evenly over the bottom of the lined baking pan and bake for 3 minutes, or until the chocolate melts. Remove from the oven, and use a small offset spatula to spread it in a thin layer over the bottom of the pan. Cool for 5 minutes. Freeze for 10 minutes, or until firm. Remove from the freezer.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the maple syrup, oil, vanilla and salt. Add the nuts and stir to coat them. Spread them on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the nuts are browned and fragrant. Remove them from the oven and cool for 2 minutes.
4. Sprinkle the warm nuts and the dried fruit evenly over the chocolate. Place the parchment sheet you used for the nuts on top of the bars and press firmly with your hands to embed them into the chocolate. The chocolate will start melting from the heat of the nuts. (If it does not, return the pan to the oven for 1 minute.) Freeze for 10 minutes, or until the chocolate hardens.
5. Using the parchment paper ends as handles, lift the chocolate out of the baking pan in one piece and place it on a cutting board with the short side parallel to the edge of the board. Use a sharp, heavy knife to cut the chocolate in half lengthwise. Make 1-inch cuts across the halves to make a total of 18 bars. Store in a cool place in an airtight tin between layers of waxed paper.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS ONE AND ALL AND BEST WISHES FOR A WONDERFUL NEW YEAR WITH MANY NEW ADVENTURES AND GOOD FRIENDS AND OF COURSE, FOOD.