• Chocolate Hermits
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Snacks

    Chocolate Hermits

    Dick’s Hermits, my mother-in-law’s classic chewy molasses-spice cookies, pack a flavor blast of epic proportions. (See original and gluten-free versions.)  In our original post, we call her hermit “the spice equivalent of a decadent chocolate cookie.” But wait…could that “decadent chocolate cookie” also be a hermit—a chocolate hermit? Could there be a deeply flavorful, chewy chocolate cookie with the same signature cracks on top? A chocolate cookie made the same, easy way? We got a glimmer of that possibility when we received an email from Recipephany follower Frieda from Texas. The photo of Dick’s Hermits reminded her of the chocolate hermits she’d loved decades ago. So she reached out for help in finding—or creating—a…

  • Pecan Praline Cookies
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Snacks

    Pecan Praline Cookies

    Pecan Praline Cookies have become an instant favorite here. Chewy inside, crispy around the edges. Buttery caramel flavor. Toasty, tasty pecans. Complex in taste, yet simple to prep. I asked Dan why, with all the cookie cookbooks I’ve obsessed over, I’d never run into this irresistible cookie until now. “You travel in the wrong circles,” he replied. Well, maybe in the past. But luckily now I travel in the same baking circle as Joanne Hofmann Sexeny. She really knows her cookies. So when she recently recommended this winner, I knew enough to stop everything and try it. She called it “one of the best cookies to bake.” Yes, and to eat. But before you…

  • Soho Globs Chocolate Cookies
    Cookies,  Desserts

    Soho Globs

    Testing out these Soho Globs warm from the oven, Dan called the first one “more of an event than a cookie,” and his second “a challenge.” These fudgy cookies may look like brownies, with their deep color and crinkly shiny crust. But watch out. They pack an intense, bittersweet triple-chocolate punch that can send you spinning if you don’t brace yourself. If you’re from around Boston, you may recognize these objects of desire from the display case at the iconic Rosie’s Bakery. With its happy pink sign outside and sweet indulgences inside, Rosie’s spread the joys of butter, sugar and especially chocolate from its Cambridge, Boston and Chestnut Hill stores. After a run of…

  • Oatmeal cookies
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Technique,  Vegetarian

    Classic Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

    Like cozy jammies and a binge-worthy TV show, these Classic Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (CCORCs, for short) take us right to our happy place. Satisfyingly delicious oats and raisins, with a spark of cinnamon and molasses, make us feel good all over. And with this recipe, we have finally achieved that crisp-on-the-outside and chewy-on-the-inside texture that has eluded the Recipephany Culinary Research Institute for so many years. The very first oatmeal cookie recipe appeared in 1896 in the Fannie Farmer Cookbook (then called The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer). Quaker Oats put a version on its cardboard cannister and called it “Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.” It’s now the home baker’s gold standard—and…

  • Puff Pastry Chocolate Croissants
    Appetizers,  Breakfast,  Cookies,  Desserts,  Pastries,  Snacks,  Technique

    Quick Puff Pastry and a Starter Recipe (Puff Pastry Mini Chocolate Croissants)

    Classic puff pastry calls for lots of rolling and folding to create zillions of those celebrated flaky layers. For bakers who don’t care for all that work, store-bought frozen puff pastry has long been their secret to everything from turnovers to tarts, pigs-in-blanket to Beef Wellington. But now, with our easy Quick Puff Pastry recipe, we no longer need to rely on Big Pastry for our supply. This quick and easy version rises into maybe a half zillion light, buttery layers. And the dough keeps beautifully in the freezer, ready for whenever the urge for la pâtisserie overtakes you.    And if you need more convincing, compare ingredients. Quick Puff Pastry has only three: flour,…

  • Cookies,  Desserts

    Tiny Hazelnut-Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (Baci di Dama)

    In our last post, we wallowed in the chocolately pleasure of Whoopie Pies, perhaps the world’s largest sandwich cookies. Now we indulge in the delicate chocolate-filled confection called baci di dama, probably the world’s teeniest-tiniest sandwich cookies. Diminutive bites of melt-away hazelnut shortbread and bittersweet chocolate, baci di dama embody the classic Italian love affair of nocciola with its soul mate, cioccolato (yeah, hazelnuts and chocolate, but it sounds so much sexier in Italian). Baci di dama, also known as Italian Hazelnut Cookies, date back to the early 1800s in the Piedmont region of Italy, when chefs devised creative ways to promote the bounty of locally-gown hazelnuts. The name means “lady’s kisses,” maybe because…

  • Prize-Winning Whoopie Pies
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Pies,  Sandwich,  Snacks

    Allen’s Prize-Winning Whoopie Pies

    Born in Pennsylvania Dutch country and named in Roxbury, Massachusetts, the Whoopie Pie has fans all over the country. But no state loves it more than Maine. Mainers went all out and declared it their Official Maine State Treat in 2011. And why not? This sensational sandwich of black chocolate cake filled with fluffy vanilla creme plays havoc with our self-control. And now, thanks to our friend Allen’s authentic recipe, we can whip up the real deal, the divine Maine Whoopie Pie, in the comfort of our own kitchens. How did Allen unlock the secret to the ultimate Whoopie Pie? He started with the master recipe his sister-in-law developed when she was a student…

  • Gluten-free, Vegan Hermits
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Gluten-free,  Snacks,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Gluten-Free, Vegan Hermits

    To get a really great gluten-free vegan cookie, start with a really great cookie. One that plays well with gluten-free flour and won’t miss the eggs. In this case, it’s Dick’s Hermits. Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, these classic New England molasses-spice cookies make the mouth tingle with delight. My mother-in-law Dorothy, nicknamed “Dick,” (see Dick’s Coffee Cake for that story) spoiled her kids with these cookies. With a little culinary sleight of hand, we now can spoil just about everybody. It doesn’t take much—just gluten-free “1-1” flour (from Trader Joe’s or King Arthur Baking Company, for example) and a little ground flaxseed. The flour swaps cup-for-cup for all-purpose…

  • Meringue-a-tangs
    Cookies,  Gluten-free,  Other,  Passover,  Snacks

    Muriel Brody’s Meringue-a-Tangs

    Tap this crispy, weightless meringue cookie and it sounds hollow. But take a bite and the outside shatters, melts, then gives way to the chew of chocolate chips and nutty bits. More a confection than cookie, it is sweet, crunchy air. These treats whip up easily and bake all by themselves. Put them into a hot oven, switch it off, and forget them. Do not disturb them for hours—preferably overnight. Slow drying crisps them up. My mom, Muriel, of Olympic Seoul Chicken fame, wouldn’t settle for plain-old boring meringues. So she folded in chocolate and nuts. My two older brothers named them Meringue-a-Tangs—as fun to say as to eat. We thank our family dog,…

  • Julia Child's Madeleines
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Other,  Snacks

    Julia Child’s Madeleines

    In the early 1900s, author Marcel Proust wrote 1,267,069 words in his seven-volume masterpiece In Search of Lost Time. And yet “madeleine” is the word that made him famous. Madeleines, little tea cakes baked in scallop molds, have been delighting the French since the 18th Century. And it was Proust who made them popular worldwide. She [my mother] sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell….And once I had recognized the taste of the crumb of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-flowers which my aunt used to give me…the whole of Combray…

  • Rugelach
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Pastries,  Snacks

    Rugelach with Raspberry Jam, Pecans and Mini Chocolate Chips

    Rugelach, the little rolled-up pastries filled with all manner of jams, nuts and goodies, have gone beyond their Jewish roots into general circulation. They’ve become so mainstream that cookie maven Dorie Greenspan, who apparently had trouble with the pronunciation, tried renaming them “Friendship Cookies” in one of her books. The chutzpah! Good thing Dorie’s rebranding didn’t stick. We should preserve the Yiddish, which means “little twist,” or “little horn.” Like “bubbellah.” a pet name my parents called me, “rugelach” has some sweet affection built right in. To make it even cuter, it’s both singular and plural, like “moose” or “Red Sox.” No, this recipephany didn’t come from my strudel-baking grandmother Lena. Instead, it’s from…

  • Cookies,  Desserts,  Gluten-free,  Other,  Passover,  Snacks

    Leah’s Fudgy, Flourless Chocolate-Almond Macaroons

    There’s no denying it—every fudgy bite of this flourless almond cookie says it’s the Macaroon’s Macaroon. I grew up thinking macaroons were those sugary coconut mounds sold in cans during Passover. They were such a holiday ritual that there should have been a spot for them on our Seder Plate. They were okay, but who’d ever want to eat them the rest of the year? Then along came “macarons,” the French almond-meringue, attitude-filled confections that look like pastel rainbows in pastry cases. They no doubt dropped the “o” to distance themselves from their macaroon relatives and signal that they are très cher. They make a lovely occasional treat, but nothing I’d ever crave. Now,…

  • Fudge squares
    Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts

    Fudge Squares

    Baking in a tiny RV is a bit like being marooned on a desert island. We have limited space for tools and supplies. And not every recipe works under survival conditions. It has to have few ingredients, require minimal equipment, and bake without complaint in our small convection/microwave oven. On our trek West, I came to realize which recipes are my true loves—the cakes, breads and cookies I can’t live without. The revelation is like the finale of a cheesy rom-com, except there’s no race to the airport before the plane takes off. My heart and head picked a dear old favorite, fudge squares. A snack-style cake that looks and cuts like brownies, it…

  • Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts,  Other

    King Arthur Flour Chewy Whole Wheat Brownies: The Lost Recipe

    To: Bill Tine, Vice President of Marketing, King Arthur Baking CompanyFrom: Diane Brody, Recipephany.comSubject: Permission to Publish Recipe for Whole Wheat BrowniesDate: October 29, 2020, 1:20 PM Dear Bill, I have been a loyal subject of King Arthur for nearly 50 years, starting when I was your company’s account manager at the Boston PR firm, Robert Weiss Associates. My highlight was placing your affable bread-baking evangelist Bert Porter on talk shows. Already popular with New England audiences, this buttoned-down, down-home “Mr. King Arthur” required no selling on my part. Who else could demonstrate how to make a loaf of bread so well—even over the radio? As a bonus, I snagged Bert as my own…

  • Biscuits,  Breakfast,  Cookies,  Crackers,  Desserts,  Other,  Snacks,  Vegan

    Grahammies: Great Homemade Graham Crackers

    “How wacky,” you say. “You don’t make graham crackers, you make things with graham crackers—like s’mores and pie crusts. Why bother?” It’s no bother, and it’s totally worth it. A homemade graham cracker is like homemade pasta. Once you bite in, you can’t believe it could taste—and make you feel—that good. This recipe bakes up a graham cracker that’s crisp and sweet, with a toasted wheatiness and tang of molasses. Sure it’s familiar—you’ve had something like it before, from a box. But this is the real thing. This Boston Globe recipe lay dormant for 42 years in my recipe box. When I dug it out and gave it a whirl recently, it was like…

  • Dick's Hermit Cookies
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Gluten-free

    Dick’s Hermits

    How did these classic New England molasses-spice cookies come to be called “hermits”? Some say it’s because they kept well when hidden away on ocean voyages. Others think they resemble hermits’ robes. Let’s just chalk it up to the region’s wacky names. For instance, Rhode Islanders call milkshakes “cabinets,” and they don’t have a good explanation for that, either. Since my mother-in-law Dorothy (known as Dick) grew up in western Massachusetts, the heart of hermit country, these cookies may have been passed down from her mom. My husband usually beat his siblings to them, often stealing a couple right off the cooling rack. When he introduced me to these these tender bars—completely new to…

  • Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts

    Chocolate Mini-Donuts

    Do we really need another recipe for chocolate cake besides our definitive Black Magic Cake, the first Recipephany? Yes, because we also need chocolate mini-donuts drenched in chocolate ganache. Black Magic makes ultra-moist full-sized cakes, but it doesn’t work so well for tiny sweets. With this recipephany, you can make these intensely chocolatey cuties in the time it takes to bake a batch of cookies. These mini-donuts have a lot going for them. Besides looking adorable on a dessert plate, they’re great for portion control. Instead of cutting a whopping slab of cake, you can pick up one of these and dispatch it in a couple of genteel bites. Then you can go back and…

  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Cookies,  Desserts

    Hall-of-Achievement Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

    What do architects know about cookies? A lot, I’m sure, since these chocolate chip oatmeal cookies won Best-Tasting Cookie at an architectural firm where my husband once worked. I had baked them early in the morning so they were still warm when he entered them into the contest, slightly crisp on the outside yet chewy inside. I suspect this structure may have swayed the judges as much as the flavor dimension added by an extra splash of bright vanilla and glug of bittersweet molasses. It was decades ago, but the construction-paper blue ribbon still hangs as a reminder in our Hall of Achievement. The award proudly holds its own in the swarm of diplomas,…

  • Cookies,  Desserts,  Snacks

    Two Sisters’ Snickerdoodles

    Soft, puffy, and slightly crinkly, these classic snickerdoodles deliver sugar ‘n’ spice all year ’round, not just at Christmas. But there’s no escaping that bit of Yuletide in this snickerdoodle. It is one of the irresistible treats my sister-in-law Chris heaps upon her splendid Christmas cookie tray. And Chris got this recipe from “Sister Santa Claus.” It goes back to Chris’s sophomore Home Economics class at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts. Many of the nuns who taught her had a male name along with a female one—such as Sister Mary Timothy. So I took her literally when she mentioned Sister Santa Claus. “It wasn’t her real name, but we called her that because…

  • Cookies,  Desserts,  Other,  Snacks

    Oscars 2017: La La Land O Lakes Old-World Raspberry Bars

    IN A WORLD where mixed-up envelopes turn winners into losers and losers look like Matt Damon…comes one dessert that Price Waterhouse stands behind… one dessert that proudly proclaims itself a winner despite its name…La La Land O Lakes Old-World Raspberry Bars. Saskatoon Watch Parties presented this year’s Oscar gala, a “satellite feed” with “satellite dishes.”  Don’t blame me and Dan entirely for the names, as my kids and their spouses also shaped the menu. Manchego by the Brie Casey At Bat Franks Ry-Krisp Gosling Emma Stone Wheat Thins Natalie Port Salut Violive Davis Florets Foster Jenkins Arrivioli filled with Isabelle Hubbard Squash, Boiled to Hell in High Water and served with Hackridge Slaw Salade…

  • Cookies,  Desserts,  Pastries,  Snacks

    Palmiers in a Pinch

    Need a quick yet impressive holiday cookie? Roll puff pastry dough in sugar and cinnamon, fold, cut, and voilà! Palmiers (aka elephant ears). I made a batch today from puff pastry dough I rescued from the dark recesses of my freezer. Last winter I mixed a lot of Joanne Chang’s easy Quick Puff Pastry from Flour for whatever might arise. Chang says you can freeze it for up to a month, but c’mon, you can even freeze fish for longer than that. Here it is almost a year later and the silky dough rolled out as smoothly as if it were fresh. Today I lost track of my folds and they came out more…

  • Cookies,  Other

    Recipephany #1: Little Snackers Peanut Butter Cookies

    My mom, of Olympic Seoul Chicken fame, just turned 100. For most of my childhood, she shooed me out of the kitchen when she cooked, distracted when I was underfoot. Little Snackers is the first—and I think only—thing she ever let me bake by myself. Just the thought of Little Snackers sends me tumbling down the laundry chute of nostalgia. Here I go again, back in the kitchen with my mom in her yellow gingham apron, a jar of Skippy, and my thumb squishing the centers of little dough balls. This is my poodle skirt of recipes. Around the time I began baking these, my mom made me a charcoal gray poodle skirt with…

  • World Peace Cookies
    Cookies,  Snacks

    World Peace, or Giant Meteor ’16, Cookies

    Cookbook author Dorie Greenspan got this recipephany for intense double-chocolate cookies from Parisian pastry chef Pierre Hermé. When she published it in Paris Sweets, she called them “Korova Cookies.” Then her neighbor suggested “World Peace Cookies.” Smart move. This takes Brody’s Second Law of Marketing one step further: If you can name it better, you can sell it better. These are so luxuriously chocolatey, they could make people momentarily forget their hostilities. I’d be happy if they could just get us through the election season with a crumb of domestic harmony. Toward that end, I’m rebranding them “Giant Meteor ‘16 Cookies,” after the cheeky alternative that’s growing in popularity in the polls. Eat them…

  • Cookies,  Desserts

    Oscars 2016: The Big Shortbread

    The Big Short won best adapted screenplay for its crisp dialog and cleverly simple demystification of the financial meltdown of 2008. The Big Shortbread is also crisp and light, with simplicity at its core. And butter, of course. Dressed up with extra-dark chocolate chips or toasted pecans, it’s ready for any red carpet. This recipephany also has loose ties to the surprise best picture winner, Spotlight, about how the Boston Globe uncovered clergy sexual abuse. I adapted this from Cookies: 20 Recipes to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth, a Boston Globe publication by Sheryl Julian. Ms. Julian is the source of many of my recipephanies, and I was sorry to see that she recently retired…

  • Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts,  Snacks

    Gardner Heist 25th: Isabella’s Stollen Pieces

    On March 18, 1990, two guys dressed as Boston’s Finest pulled off the biggest art heist in US history. Holes in Gardner Museum’s so-called security led to holes in frames. I commiserate with those who may never tick that Vermeer off their bucket lists. But mostly I feel for Isabella. I’ve had a close, imaginary relationship with this woman since the day I arrived at college literally next door. Museum admission was free back then, so I frequently strolled through like an invited guest, taking in Sunday concerts that seemed arranged just for me. In my yearbook picture, I’m seated on a bench abutting the Venetian courtyard, my hair ironed and my glasses off,…