Results tagged almonds from David Lebovitz

Chocolate Bread

chocolate dough

When I got the opportunity to re-release my first two books, which had gone out of print, my publisher and I decided that they should be combined into one brand-new volume, Ready for Dessert, with new photos and more than a dozen new recipes added. So I made a master list of all the recipes, then chose my absolute favorites: the ones I’d found myself making over and over again during the years invariably rose to the top.

oeufs frais eggs

I had to choose le top du top, as they say in France. Then I sent the list to my editor, who worked for many years at a food magazine known for their exactitude and trying a recipe over and over and over again with every variation (a bit crazy, like me), and we went back and forth for a while, until we agreed on the ones for the final book.

chocolate batter chocolate bread batter with nuts

I originally imagined I would sit down and cut and paste recipes, putting them in order, and maybe adding a few notes here and there. But as I scrolled through the recipes, many of which I hadn’t made in over a decade, I started reading through them more carefully. And soon I realized that I was not just making mental notes, but I was jumping up from my desk chair and heading to the kitchen, taking butter out of the refrigerator to soften, and running to the market to buy eggs by the flat.

Continue Reading Chocolate Bread…

Stollen

stollen sliced & ready

I rarely make bread for reasons that should be obvious: it’s hard to justify spending the day at home mixing, kneading, and baking bread when you live in a city where there’s likely at least four very good bakeries within a two block radius. Unless, of course, it’s the middle of winter and the idea of braving 0º temperatures is less-than-appealing.

stollen dough in mixer stollen ingredients

Before the deep-chill set in this week, the previous week I was going to my dentist, and stopped in at the nearby Kayser bakery* (one might say I chose my dentist based on the proximity to that bakery, but I’ll deny it), and they were selling their terrific Stollen, which they make for the holidays. The small loaves cost only €3, which makes them, in my opinion, the best bargain in Paris.

Continue Reading Stollen…

Holiday Snack Mix

pretzel & nutmix

I gave this recipe out a year or so ago on the site. But because it’s so easy to put together, I made it yet again last night, to have as a little nibble with some white wine before dinner. And we couldn’t eat it fast enough. (And almost didn’t have room for dinner.) It’s adapted from The Sweet Life in Paris. So for those of you who might have missed it, I’m bringing it up from the archives as you might want to make a batch for an upcoming get-together, too.

bretzels toasted nuts blog

It’s really simple to make: all you really need is a bag of pretzels, a mixture of any kind of nuts that strikes your fancy, some spices, and a flurry of sea salt. Add a restrained amount of melted butter and maple syrup, and when it comes out of the oven, you’ll barely be able to wait until the salty-sweet, spiced mixture of glazed nuts and pretzels is cooled down before diving right in.

I know, because last night after I made it, two of us wolfed down the entire batch. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go toast off some nuts, melt some butter—and open yet another sack of pretzels…

Continue Reading Holiday Snack Mix…

Fruitcake Bar Recipe

I’ve been making these Fruitcake Bars more and more as the holidays approach. Not only are they incredibly simple to put together, unlike other fruitcakes, these really do taste great.

fruitcake bars

They can be made up to a week in advance, which will undoubtedly help alleviate holiday stress. It’s from my archives but thought it worth sharing again since folks enjoyed them so much at a recent Paris book event (and wine-tasting), and because the baking season is quickly approaching and it’s nice to have a recipe for a very easy-to-prepare dessert or snack.

Continue Reading Fruitcake Bar Recipe…

The Best Granola Recipe

granola

I never planned to write about this granola, since both Molly and Cenk did excellent adaptations. Because they are probably sick of me clicking on their sites, I finally jotted it down on a scrap of paper. And since that scrap of paper gets pulled out of my files at least once every other week, I thought that it was simply too good to keep buried away under my piles of paperwork and I’d share it here.

Although I haven’t tried the thousands of variations of granola floating around (and in Why Stealing is Wrong?, I got my comeuppance for trying to pilfer another one), this is what the French would call le top du top—the best of the best.

(I don’t know what they call “comeuppance” in French, but I seem to get mine frequently around here. Like the other day, when I was feeling cocky because I finally managed to extricate myself from my nefarious cable company and went to the France Telecom office to see if I could finally get one of those fancy iPhones like absolutely everyone else has. “C’est pas possible, monsieur”, I keep hearing, even after I reason to them that I want to switch to a much more expensive plan, giving them more money, and let them sell me a pricey new phone. They say it may be possible, peut être, sometime in 2010. But I ain’t gonna garde mon souffle…)

Continue Reading The Best Granola Recipe…

Chocolate Biscotti Recipe

chocolate biscotti

The pastry department is always the most popular part of the kitchen amongst the rest of the staff. (Unless I’m in it, though. Then that’s debatable.) For one thing, anytime there’s a staff birthday, you’re called into service to make the cake. And since everyone has a birthday, folks are usually nice to you the other 364 days of the year. Another thing is that regular cooks like…no, love to snack on anything sweet.

Whenever I made biscotti, the ends and broken bits would end up on a plate in the pastry department, and almost immediately the staff would swoop down for the kill the moment the rounded end hit the plate.

After chewing for a moment, invariably, someone would always say, “You know…(pause)…I like biscotti better only once-baked.”

I’m sure they were certain I was hanging on to their every word, and how I managed to resist the urge to say, “So what?”—I’ll never know…

But since biscotti refers to being twice-baked in Italian, you can’t have biscotti unless they are, indeed-twice baked. I believe truth-in-advertising extends to pastry professionals.

cioccolato

Another thing I found constantly annoying, since I’m on a roll, was that anytime I had to walk through the kitchen or staff area carrying a cake or tart, without fail, a cook (usually a new one who didn’t know me better) would say, “Hey! Is that for me?!” followed by a smug chuckle at their brilliant humor.

Little did they realize that each-and-every new cook said that, and while they’ve only said it once, it was hardly original and I’d heard at least 973 times prior. The first few times, I just smiled gamely and let them pretend they were actually amusing me.

But after a while, like nine years, I finally got to the point where I would say, “Sure! Here’s ya go…” hand them an entire cake or pie, and walk away.

I like to think of it as a lesson in be careful what you wish for. So if you want to only bake biscotti once, that’s fine with me. But crisp, twice-baked biscotti are the perfect dunking cookie for a shot of espresso or glasses of vin santo. I’m particularly attracted to these chocolate biscotti, which are slightly-sweet but pack a nice wallop of chocolate flavor. I make these a lot since it’s nice to have on hand something chocolaty to snack on, but isn’t rich, sweet, or loaded with butter.

Just don’t ask if these are for you, because I think you already know the answer to that question. Instead I’m handing over the recipe. And you’ll need to come up with your own smart-alecky retorts.

Chocolate Biscotti
50 to 60 cookies

Use a good-quality cocoa powder. You can use natural or Dutch-process for these, whichever one you like. Just remember that the chocolate flavor of the finished cookies is dependent on the quality of cocoa powder you use. So it’s worth using a decent one. I used Valrhona. See notes below on ingredients.

If you like extra-crisp biscotti, you can flip each one over midway during the second baking, in step #6. I sometimes smear one side of the cookies with melted dark chocolate. When dipped in a warm espresso, I can’t imagine anything better.

For the biscotti

  • 2 cups (280g) flour
  • 3/4 cups (75g) top-quality cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup (125g) almonds, toasted and very coarsely-chopped
  • 3/4 cups (120g) chocolate chips

For the glaze

1 large egg
2 tablespoons coarse or crystal sugar (see Notes)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.

2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, beat together the 3 eggs, sugar, and vanilla & almond extracts. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, then mix in the nuts and the chocolate chips until the dough holds together.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into two logs the length of the baking sheet. Transfer the logs onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.

5. Gently flatten the tops of the logs. Beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the logs liberally with the egg. (You won’t use it all). Sprinkle the tops with the coarse or crystal sugar and bake for 25 minutes, until the dough feels firm to the touch.

6. Remove the cookie dough from the oven and cool 15 minutes. On a cutting board, use a serrated bread knife to diagonally cut the cookies into 1/2-inches slices. Lay the cookies cut side down on baking sheets and return to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies feel mostly firm.

Once baked, cool the cookies completely then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. If you wish, the cookies can be half-dipped in melted chocolate, then cooled until the chocolate hardens.

Notes: The sugar I use in France, is called cassonade, a coarse-grained, naturally-colored sugar that resists melting.

In the United States, one can find similar sugars, such as C & H Washed Hawaiian Sugar or Florida Crystals demerara, available in supermarkets or natural food stores. Turbinado or demerara sugars are also available online. If you don’t have any, you can skip the egg wash and sugar glaze.

Valrhona cocoa powder is available in bulk at ChefShop. The best-value is the 3kg pack, which conveniently comes in three separate sealed bags so if you have two baking friends, it’s easy to go in on a shipment.

Related links and recipes:

Chocolate FAQs

Cocoa powder FAQs

Chocolate-dipped Florentines

American Baking in Paris

How to Temper Chocolate

Chocolate Idiot Cake

Cheesecake Brownies

Chocolate-Coconut Macaroons

Fruitcake Bar Recipe (Friendship Bars)

fruitcake bars

Maybe this happens to you. Maybe it doesn’t.

You’re invited to a party and as a nice gesture, you bring something along. Being a baker you decide, naturally, to bake something.

So you get to the party, you’re wining and dining, loosening up and enjoying yourself. But when people find out you’ve brought a dessert, they all of the sudden get very interested in you, and what you’ve brought, what’s it called, how you’ve made it, what’s in it, what’s the recipe, etc..etc…

The most difficult was when I brought a Bûche de Noël to a Christmas party, which is a fairly complicated affair involving spongecake, chocolate buttercream, soaking syrup, and lots of crackly meringue mushrooms for decoration. Some nutty woman followed me around all night with a pen and note pad, prodding me for recipe details and I spent the whole night trying to avoid her.

But let’s say you’ve been working on recipes all day, or adding recipes to your blog. So you go to a party and maybe you’d rather just not talk about what you’ve made: After all, don’t they know you have a food blog and a couple of cookbooks where they can get all that information?

(And no, I don’t have a recipe for Bûche de Noël. But thanks for asking…)

Bakers Edge Pan

So my technique for throwing ‘em off the scent is to make up names for things I’ve baked that mean nothing, something innocuous that no one can possibly question what’s inside it. I’ve brought to parties Chocolate Surprise Cake, Mystery Spice Cake and Baked Summertime Fruit Dessert. But you need to be careful since if you pick the wrong name, something like Chocolate Emergency Cake, you’ll have to explain the story behind the moniker ‘emergency’.
And we can’t have that, can we?

Then there’s Friendship Bars, which is the name I often give these Fruitcake Bars.

Continue Reading Fruitcake Bar Recipe (Friendship Bars)…

Green Almonds

Unless you live in an almond-growing region in the US, I’m sorry to tell you that it’s rather unlikely you’ll come across green almonds in your market. They don’t seem to be as popular in America as they are here in France. And right now in Paris, they’re heaped up in big mounds at the outdoor markets.

greenalmondcracked.jpg

In San Francisco, I would find green almonds at certain markets, and they were plentiful and abundant in the late spring. What is a green almond? They’re unripe almonds, picked before the shell has a chance to harden, and before the almond has had a chance to become crisp and mature (I’m still waiting for both, myself. Does that make me ‘green’ too?)

To extract the almond meat, take a large knife and embed the blade in the fuzzy green outer husk. Lift the knife and the almond and crack both down with modest force on a cutting board, making sure your fingers are safely out of the way. The Italian woman at my market cracks green almonds using her teeth, a method countless dentists probably don’t recommend. Her teeth are not exactly a stellar advertisement for that method either. But do watch your fingers and keep them away from the blade of the knife. You’ll find typing very difficult with just 9 fingers.

Once split open, pluck out the little almond in the center with the tip of a knife and peel back the rubbery, shiny-smooth skin, a task which many people find pleasurable. I sprinkle green almonds over summer fresh-fruit compotes that include sliced nectarines, tart apricots, and juicy berries. They also liven up a simple scoop of ice cream as well, but I know many French people that just snack on them as they are, a nibble before dinner with an aperitif accompanied by a glass of icy-cold, fruity rosé.

peachjam.jpg

If a French cooks makes you a gift of a jar of homemade jam, you’ll often find a few green almonds tucked in, as I did yesterday when I made a few jars of Peach Jam. If you’d like to taste green almonds, visit your local farmer’s market and see if they’re available. If not, ask any nuts farmers there to bring you some. Otherwise, you’ll have to come to Paris.

But don’t wait too long; the season is short and they’ll only be around another few weeks.