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The Cookstr Weekly: Baked Goodness & All About Roasting

November 29, 2012
November 28, 2012
Baking and cooking are diametrically opposed in terms of approach. In cooking, dishes can be approximate, experimental, seamlessly rescued at the last minute, even renamed when your meal turns out looking more like a stew than a braise (there are, of course, plenty of limitations, and I don’t advocate my awful haphazard tendencies to everyone). Baking requires precision and accuracy. You can’t throw in that half bag of something in the pantry you were hoping to use up, or leave out the things you forgot to pick up at the store. Which is why, for a long time, I didn’t like baking much.
The recipe that converted me wholeheartedly was a flourless chocolate cake in Gourmet: made with so few ingredients that my horrible tendency to substitute and improvise was averted, and done in such a small and precise number of steps that I found little room for error, the cake thrilled me with its ability to turn out as it was meant to be, time and time again. The simplest recipes rely on a few of the same standard principles of method and ingredient recipes, and once those basics are mastered, there’s room for more optimistic improvisation. 
 
The recipes below stem from a few of the canonical classics – flourless chocolate cake, apple pie, brownies, shortbread – but add in notes so unexpected even I’m not tempted to add something more to them. Louisa Shafia adds prune puree and hazelnuts to her flourless cake, which bring out the bitterness and the richness in the chocolate. Julia Usher’s jam thumbprints are serious about the ginger, both including it ground and studding the cookies themselves with chunks of crystallized ginger that echo the whole cranberries in the apricot filling, adding a textural twist to this childhood favorite. These unusual recipes provide a safe space for baking explorations, and add some new ammunition to your holiday baking arsenal! 

Warmest regards,

Kara Rota
Editorial Director
Cookstr

Pinon Brittle
By Christopher Idone

 
Peanut brittle is a tried and true favorite for the holiday season, and Christopher Idone’s pinon brittle uses the same methodology with a different kind of nut. Since pine nuts are softer than peanuts, they produce a less tooth-breaking result while preserving the crunchy joy of the classic treat. Because pine nuts also have a higher fat content, they add a creamy richness to the final product. This also makes a great choice for edible gifting: just let the brittle cool completely, break it into chunks, and store in airtight containers for up to a week.

More Baked Goods Recipes from Cookstr
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What’s New On Cookstr: All About Roasting
by Molly Stevens

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