Chocolate chips, toffee pieces, raisins, walnuts — all very traditional cookie add-ins. I grew up slicing and baking cookies from logs of premade dough bought from the refrigerated case in my grocery store. You know, the “Dough-boy” brand.
Thinking outside the cookie log will set you apart from other cookie bakers. Have you ever thought about adding chai tea, potato chips, pretzel chunks, licorice or even bacon bits? Keep your mind open and read on.
In my Chocolate Chip Gingersnap Chai Cookie recipe, I use ground chai tea leaves along with Indian spices such as cloves, cardamom, mace and freshly grated ginger. Think of a classic gingersnap with a modern spin (or your favorite coffeehouse beverage).
Get more mix-in ideas
As the executive pastry chef at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, Fla., the author of Baking Out Loud, a frequent guest on Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets and FN Dish’s own resident dessert extraordinaire, Hedy Goldsmith isn’t your average sweet tooth. She’s been known to put a homemade red-velvet twist on traditional Twinkies and even bake pies in jars, so when FN Dish visited Hedy at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival last month, we knew we’d be in for a treat — and it turns out that we were greeted with an entire plateful of treats.
Speaking to a packed room at the Shelborne South Beach Hotel, Hedy along with Josh Wesson, a New York City-based sommelier and the co-founder of Best Cellars, offered guests an interactive seminar on the pairings of desserts and beverages, both wines and liqueurs. They agreed that the key to blending any food and drink is finding among them elements that are similar and contrasting, an idea that’s similar to what Hedy follows when making her confections.
Known for expertly bridging the gap between sweetness and saltiness — the combination of which she describes as “the story of my life” — her signature creations are not typical desserts in that they’re not overly sweet, and they utilize seemingly eccentric and out-of-place ingredients. To Hedy, baking is all about “checks and balances,” not just between the amount of sugar and salt in a recipe, but also the flavors of the other ingredients she uses.
Home bakers often ask, “Why can’t I use salted butter in a recipe that calls for unsalted butter, especially when salt is listed as a separate ingredient?” Right? I totally get the question. Why wouldn’t you just use salted butter and call it a day?
First, let me say that I never use salted butter. Not to bake with, on my toast in the morning or for any recipe that calls for butter.
Call me a control freak; however, the reason is that the salt added to salted butter varies depending on the brand you buy. All salted butters are not created equal. So why take your chances when baking? Just buy unsalted butter and start with a clean slate.
This leads me to the next most-asked question:
“Why can’t I use self-rising flour for all baking?” I totally comprehend this question too. It sure would eliminate buying a variety of flours, right?
Read more »
This has been a magical year for me. I wrote my first cookbook, Baking Out Loud, received a James Beard award nomination for Outstanding Pastry Chef, created seasonal recipes for the Cooking Channel, was featured on Season 3 of Unique Sweets, appeared on the TODAY show and most importantly, experienced having the love and support of so many people I’ve met along the way.
Some of my favorite FN Dish blog posts of 2012 included Baking in Jars and Food Tastes Better on a Stick. Both of these articles were inspired by my real-life job as Executive Pastry Chef for Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami. The restaurant is always busy, so necessity has been the mother of invention; and putting pies in jars allowed me to be creative and eliminate storage issues, while dessert on sticks helps keep people on the go.
With all of that said, here are some things I’m most excited about for 2013:
• Baking with olive oil
• Pickling fruits
• Smoking honeys, nuts and flours
• Continuing to develop portable baked goods
Learn how to make a cake-in-a-box
Fall has finally given way to winter. Driveways are being shoveled, snow tires are mounted onto cars and steaming mugs of hot chocolate warm our souls. I, however, sit on a snowy-white beach contemplating what to bake for Santa’s annual visit, a tradition my mom started when I was very young.
Fast-forward to today: As one who works with flour, sugar and eggs, I bring joy year-round (to the many sweet tooths out there), but never a more important time than at holidays. This time of year, I bake for a “claus.”
I like to deliver tasty treats to my local police and fire stations as my way of saying thank you for saving lives. All of this leads me to sharing some of my fun holiday traditions. Some are past favorites, some are newer ideas soon to become classics.
Cookies left on a plate for Santa maybe very traditional, but who says it has to be boring? Invite the neighbors, family and friends over for a decorating party.
Find out how I set up my decorating party
You have all the spices, dried fruits and nuts you’ll need for the perfect holiday bakeathon. But are your coveted jars of ground cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg from years gone by? Are the lids perhaps partially unscrewed or maybe even missing in action? That box of raisins you opened for your neighbor’s “welcome to the neighborhood” oatmeal raisin cookies may need to go, and the walnuts you are squirreling away have perhaps seen better days.
Yes, everything has a shelf life. If you bake with ingredients past their prime, they may not send you to the hospital, but they may taste like hospital food.
If you cannot remember when you purchased that box of baking soda, chances are it needs to go in the garbage along with that old fruitcake in the freezer that your Aunt Franny baked pre-Food Network days.
If you’re still not convinced that you need to purge your spices, do the smell test: If it has zero scent, ditch it. Spices, especially cinnamon, have oils that lose their character when exposed to heat, light and age.
Bark (noun): Tough protective covering of the woody stems of trees
Popcorn + Peanut Bark (noun): Delicious dark chocolate covering that protects buttery, salty, freshly popped popcorn and peanuts
Bark (verb): to speak in an unfriendly tone when it’s all gone
Now that Halloween is over and the holidays are right around the corner, are you starting to panic? Is your heart racing and blood pressure sky-rocketing? This disorder may have everything to do with the fact that you haven’t a clue which direction to go as far as holiday gifts are concerned. Relax and take a deep breath — I am going to make your gift-giving very easy this year.
Gifts of food, especially sweet ones, speak volumes to your friends and family. Everyone on your list will feel special.
I love eating food on a stick. Just the thought of overly salted, grease-saturated and often way-beyond-sweet treats attached to a stick for portable feasting makes me do the happy dance.
Rewind to summer car trips when I was a kid: My parents would load us into a tight compact car (some summers without air conditioning) and drive hundreds of miles seeking state fairs, the mecca of foods on a stick. Growing up in a city as I did, we rarely had an opportunity to indulge in “fair food.” So we would drive and drive with my mom as co-pilot in search of all things yummy. Armed with pockets full of dollar bills, we would hit the fairgrounds running, following the scent of fried anything.
Today, I love making “icles”: fudgesicles, creamsicles and Popsicles (like my Frozen Peanut Butter Pie Pops above). These are the most popular in terms of portable food in my sweet world, but have you ever tried to insert a stick into a piece of pie, then dip it into rich chocolate and roll it into nuts or coconut? Well, here you go:
Living in South Florida, we are all about Key lime pie, which is my favorite. First, make my fast and easy Key lime pie recipe featured here: Key Lime Pie Ice Cream Sandwiches.
You may have seen Hedy’s name appear on FN Dish every month in her baking column sharing with readers and fans the secrets to some of her sweets and how to bake your cake even better. If you’re lucky, you’ve lost yourself in one of her quintessential desserts at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. But if you can’t make it to Miami to taste her desserts — which are simply delicious and one-of-a-kind — you can now try your hand at making them with the launch of Hedy’s highly anticipated cookbook, Baking Out Loud.
She’s known for transforming her childhood favorites into grown-up versions that will have your family and friends begging for the recipes. From her Red Velvet Twinks, which combine rich chocolate cake and cream cheese filling, to her Chocolate Caramel Peanut Bars, which we admit are the most indulgent chocolate bar around, you won’t be able to find enough sticky notes in your house to flag all the recipes you want to try first.
You can pre-order your own copy of Baking Out Loud here, or enter in the comment field below for a chance to win one. To enter: Tell us which one of Hedy’s desserts you’d try first and why in the comments (find Hedy’s list of recipes here). We’re giving away a copy of the book to two lucky, randomly selected commenters. Better your chances of winning by visiting Cooking Channel’s blog, Devour — they’re giving away three copies, too.
Read official rules before entering
I’m just a kid at heart. Some of my fondest memories of being a chubby kid were all based on eating junk food. Prepackaged little cakes, movie theater popcorn and candy were my best friends. Cracker Jacks — with its secret little toy — made me very happy. Actually, popcorn anything makes me giggle with delight. I have been known to forgo a meal in order to justify eating a large bucket of salty buttery corn.
Fast-forward to today. Always thinking about my past, I re-create versions of all my favorite childhood treats.
In my new book, Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors, on bookshelves in just five days, I toss buttery, salty popcorn with rich melted chocolate and peanuts for a quick, rich and amazing treat (recipe below).
Halloween was (and still is) my favorite holiday. I remember competing with my big brother Steven to see how much candy we could gather. As kids, we would dump overfilled candy-laden plastic pumpkins on to a bed sheet covering the carpet in our living room. At the end of the night, we’d count up all the pieces of candy and, based on sheer volume, declare a winner. Hands down, my favorite was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Mom would let us keep a few and take the extra to work — or so she said.
Get Hedy’s recipes