Archive

Tag Archives: Sarah’s Sweets

Image

as much as i love cookie dough – straight to the face, homemade, eaten sitting on my couch in my oversized flannel PJ pants while watching house hunters – sometimes, a girl just wants a brownie. an ooey gooey mess of chocolate that leaves a trail of crumbs in its wake. i’ve tackled red velvet brownies, but last night, i just wanted to plain old CHOCOLATE. so i turned to my ice cream guru david lebovitz, who, surprise surprise, has some pretty other fantastic recipes too. like these brownies, which are quite possibly the easiest thing in the world to make. you’ll have to trust me when i tell you these are THE BEST. THE BEST EVER. as in, you can cover me with these brownies when you bury me (or at the very least, leave a few in my coffin for me to eat during my eternal slumber). i added some extra chocolate chips to mine, but i get the sense that you can add just about anything to these and they’d still be delicious. which makes me think that next up, i’m going to make s’more brownies. think of it…chocolate…crushed graham crackers…MARSHMALLOWS…i’m salivating just thinking about it.

so, without further adieu, best ever brownies.

The Recipe

Makes about 9-12 brownies, depending on how big/little you slice ’em.

6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces

8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (i just used about 3/4 of a bag of semi sweet chips from trader joe’s)

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla (i added 2…whoopsies, a bit liberal with the pouring)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1/4 cup all purpose flour (yes, that’s it)

1 cup walnuts, or whatever else you want to mix in (you can skip this step all together if you’d like)

to make, preheat your oven to 350. line a 9 x 9 baking pan with tinfoil or parchment paper.

melt the butter in a saucepan* over medium to low heat. once butter is melted, mix in the chocolate. stir until melted and smooth. resist the temptation to stick your fingers in it/slather your body with it. it should resemble willy wonka’s chocolate river.

*if you have a stand mixer, use a small pan – you’ll do your mixing in the kitchenaid. if you don’t have a stand mixer, use a large saucepan  – you’ll do all your mixing in it.

remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the sugar and the vanilla. transfer the mixture to your stand mixer and beat in the eggs, one at a time. if you don’t have a stand mixer, keep everything in one place – but still beat the eggs in one at a time. once evenly combined, add the flour. beat vigorously for 60 seconds. count it out. twirl your hair. practice your vocabulary. call your BFF and leave a lengthy voicemail. whatever you do, make sure you beat for the full minute. at the onset, the batter will appear grainy, but once you’ve beat it (just beat it…BEATTT ITTTT…BEAT ITTT…sing it, MJ!), it will be smooth and creamy and delicious. now you can stick your fingers in. just one little taste. you deserve it. it’s been a long day.

if you’re adding mix-ins, add them now and mix just enough to fold them in. pour the batter into the pan and use a spatula to ensure it’s spread out fairly evenly. bake in the middle of your oven for about 30 minutes. mine ended up taking around 40 to be done; ovens vary. check with a toothpick to ensure that the brownies are done before you take them out for good.

let cool fully. as in, don’t try to cut yourself a bite after twenty minutes. the brownies need to set. once they’ve cooled down, you can cut them up and distribute them to friends and loved ones and the homeless guy outside the post office if you feel so inclined.

ps: david lebovitz, you’re a good among men.


when i was a wee little thing back in high school, my nickname was “mrs. fields” – after the infamous cookie shop found in every suburban mall around the country, and supposed maven of all things chocolate chip. i loved me a good bake sale, and my a capella group always needed to raise more moolah. i spent many a first period sitting outside the library in a little nook that was positively made for bake sales, touting my brownies and cookies and things.

chocolate chip cookies are one of the first recipes i learned to bake myself (though i also make a mean no-cook peanut butter ball), but it took me years to truly perfect the art. you see, folks, there is an art to chocolate chip cookie baking. too sweet means you can’t eat much of them. too salty means they don’t taste like cookies. too flat means a crunch that simply shouldn’t be associated with anything in the cookie family, and don’t even try to talk to me about anything that comes from the pre-made area in the supermarket.

here are a few things i’ve learned over the years, otherwise known as “follow these rules if you want a perfect cookie.”

* always add a little more vanilla than the recipe calls for. don’t think, just pour.

* don’t over-melt your butter! it took me years to figure this out. YEARS, people. i’d read “slightly softened” and stick that baby in the microwave and end up with flatter than flat cookies. i have had many a meltdown over cookies that came out flat. i don’t even want to talk about it. actually, yes i do. in these situations, i freak out and through out the entire batch. i don’t do pancake cookies. can’t handle it. they make my eyes water the way onions do. when it comes to butter, room temperature means leave it out for a little while to soften. as a general rule, don’t put butter in the microwave. when you do, you tend to over-melt it. leave it out and let it do its thing. if your butter goes into the dough 75% melted, it’ll melt the other 25% in the oven – which is what makes for pancake cookies.

* keep your chocolate chips in the freezer. this way, when you add them into the dough, they’re cool – so they won’t totally melt when the dough goes into the oven.

* invest in a stand mixer. once you go kitchen aid, you never go back. trust.

The Recipe (taken from The All-American Cookie Book)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (two sticks) butter, slightly softened (remember what we learned about butter above)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (note: i like to add 3)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (i use the bag from trader joe’s)
optional: 2 cups nuts (i hate nuts. no nuts for me. keepin’ it simple.)
preheat the oven to 375. grease your baking sheets, or lay silicone baking mats (lifesavers!) on your baking sheets instead and grease those lightly. 
in a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. set aside. in a large bowl (or stand mixer), beat together butter, brown sugar and sugar until well-blended and fluffy. this may take a few minutes. once fluffy, add the eggs and vanilla. mix well. stir in the flour mixture, then add chocolate chips (and nuts if you’re one of those weirdos that likes that sort of thing). 
now, eat at least three spoonfuls of dough. consider putting aside a bit of dough for those bad days when you just need to stuff your face with something delicious. 
once you’re feeling sufficiently nauseous from the raw egg consumption, drop the dough onto your baking sheets about two inches apart. they should be about the size of a tablespoon. bake cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of your oven for 8-11 minutes. take those babies out when they’re golden brown all over and slightly darker at the edges. Let cool on the sheets a few minutes, then transfer to wire racks. 
store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 1 month.
 
 

the other night, after working my little (okay, big) tush off at bar method, i passed by a pizza shop in soho. the smell of fresh basil and mozarella wafted out onto spring street, and i thought to myself, PIZZA. THAT IS WHAT I WANT TO EAT FOR DINNER. then i thought, no, sarah. you just burned a shit ton of calories in class and now you’re going to ruin it with an oversized slice o’ pizza? no, girl. no you are not. so i kept walking, all the way over to the A train, and from there to the L train, and from there up first avenue. and all the while, i kept thinking, “pizza. i could order from posto. i could stop and get the cheap $1 slice in the east village.” i should mention here that i’m not really a pizza kind of girl. i mean, if the line at pomme frite is too long and ray’s is closed (that’s a lie, ray’s is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week) and it’s 2am and i need something greasy, i’ll get a slice of pizza. but it’s never really my first choice. i don’t know what came over me the other night, i really don’t. but after deciding i really didn’t want to eat anything BUT pizza for dinner, i realized there was really no reason to spend $16 on an overpriced (and undersized) pie from posto. especially when i could make my own! so, make my own i did. i used this recipe for the dough, and then threw on a hodge podge of stuff i had in the fridge: marinara sauce, homemade pesto, grated romano cheese, mushrooms and spring mix lettuce. and you know what? it was pretty darn good! in fact, it’s still good right now, as i sit here eating it for a late breakfast.

you know how sometimes you just feel really damn cranky? like you can’t win no matter how hard you try, like life woke up this morning and decided it was going to beat you over the head with the shit stick?

this is what you eat when you feel like that. it’s also what you eat when you’re feeling under the weather, when you’re hungover, when your nose is snotty and your sinuses are swollen (gross), and when you feel like you can’t lift your head off the pillow.

matzoh ball soup. the jewish cure. miracle in a matzoh ball. it doesn’t really matter what you call it - this stuff works magic. on the plus side, it’s really easy to make, so when you wake up with a class A hangover, the kind where your brain feels like it’s too big for your skull and there’s a pounding that just won’t stop and you feel like you just might vomit everywhere if you take another step…you can still whip this up in under an hour. 

i have no real recipe for matzoh ball soup. the stuff is just in my veins, i guess. but basically, you’re going to need a box of matzoh meal.* follow the directions on the box to make your balls (essentially, you mix the matzoh meal with eggs and oil and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then shape the balls with your hands). in the meantime, prepare your broth. if you’re the type of guy or gal that makes homemade stock, more power to you. i’m a big fan of bouillon cubes. fast, easy, delish. so, you’ll need the chicken stock of your choice (don’t use veggie!). then slice and dice up what the french so classily call your “mirepoix”  ( chopped onions, carrots and celery). Mirepoix is the base of pretty much every great soup out there, so get familiar. 

another must have for real matzoh ball: fresh dill. slice it up as well. 

now that you’ve got it all assembled, throw your mirepoix in the pan to cook down with a little butter or oil. salt the veggies a little bit to let the liquids out. next, add your stock. then your dill. then your balls. a well-made ball with float straight to the top. let the balls hang in there for a little bit until they’re light, fluffy, and enlarged (that sounds dirty) - this can take anywhere from 20-40 mins depending on the size of your matzoh balls. 

season to your liking with salt and pepper, and serve. 

*can’t find matzoh meal? pulse a bit of matzoh in your food processor or blender. can’t find matzoh? what are you, a gentile?

meet the perfect cookie: crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, and oh.so.chewy. you can thank chef anne burrell for this masterpiece - the molasses cookie. simple to make, fast to bake, amazing to eat. 

a few months ago, i watched anne make these cookies on her show, secrets of a restaurant chef. she served them with a coriander chicken dish that i have yet to make, and i literally salivated whilst sitting on my couch. i made the cookies that day, and have since made them multiple times. 

this recipe is a huge crowd pleaser - my coworkers love it, my friends adore it, even the folks at the bar method (where people are long and lithe and appear to never have consumed a single cookie in their entire lives) can’t resist these babies.

make them now, thank me late.r 

chinese food is one of those cuisines that i never dared to attempt at home. living in new york city, where you can get literally anything you’d like (food, drugs, sex, drinks, amazon.com deliveries) at any hour of the day, it always seemed easier to just pick up the phone and call j.east (my local chinese delivery resto) than to make chinese food myself. that is, until i tried this recipe for orange sesame chicken. holy amazing party in my mouth. YOU GUYS, i made CHINESE FOOD. FROM SCRATCH. AND IT LOOKS JUST LIKE THE REAL THING. i even have photographic evidence! seriously, though, this recipe is DELICIOUS and so easy to make. sure, it takes a little time - but basically, you chop up some chicken breasts, dip them in batter, fry those babies up, and then coat them in sauce. 

the aforementioned sauce isn’t at all difficult to make, and contains cabinet must-haves like ketchup and honey, sugar and sesame oil. i swear, this meal is magic. i like to serve it with some freshly steamed broccoli and top it all off with chopped scallions. 

is there a person in the world who doesn’t like froyo? find me that person, will you? because maybe they can convince me not to eat the entire container of deliciousness i whipped up yesterday on a whim.

here’s the thing about vanilla frozen yogurt, and frozen yogurt in general: when i’m eating ice cream out in the world (not making it from scratch), i think froyo is sort of gross. i hate how it slinks out of the machine, looking all processed and chemically-laden. i’m a pinkberry devotee (i know, probably lots of chemicals in that too), so i was eager to try the plain frozen yogurt in my david lebovitz book, the perfect scoop.*

all i needed was a container of plain whole milk yogurt (i opted for greek style from trader joes because i am a cheap jew), sugar, and some vanilla. i mixed them all together, let it chill in the fridge for a bit, then poured it into my ice cream maker. 15 minutes later, i had heaven. delicious, light, slightly tangy heaven. dare you not to eat the whole thing. 

to make:

3 cups plain whole milk yogurt (or you can opt for greek)

1 cup of sugar (use only 3/4 if you use greek yogurt)

1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

mix all. refrigerate 1 hour. mix in your ice cream maker. eat. 

* if you’re an ice cream fan, order this on amazon. you won’t regret it. recipes are to die for.