Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Here’s the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve baked dozens of times. It yields the perfect cookies in my opinion because the edges are slightly crisp, the center is pillowy soft yet chewy, and the warm pools of chocolate exquisitely collapse in your mouth in every single bite.

These are not enough reasons to call them perfect. The complexity of the textures are enhanced by the rich layering of flavors that will delight you – like the nuttiness of the brown butter, the slight earthiness of the rosemary herb, the toffee-like flavor of the soft brown sugar, and the luxurious mix of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate, all aged together for 48 hours before baking. Swoon!

I guarantee you that they will satisfy all of your sweet cravings and make everyone beg you for more!


Recipe adapted from Hand Made Baking

240g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
90g (3/4 cup) bread flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
200g (1 cup) packed light brown sugar
100g (1/2 cup) demerara or turbinado sugar
226g (2 sticks; 1 cup) cold butter, cut into cubes
2 large fresh sprigs of rosemary (about 5 inches/12cm each)
1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
150g chopped semisweet dark chocolate
150g chopped bittersweet dark chocolate

Note: Semisweet and bittersweet chocolate are both considered dark chocolate since they both contain at least 35% of cocoa. The difference comes in the amount of sugar: semisweet chocolate contains about 50% sugar, vs. bittersweet chocolate contains 33% sugar. Check the Nutrition Facts labels to learn more about the level of sweetness of the chocolate.

1. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the butter with the rosemary until it’s just melted. Take off the heat and set aside to let the rosemary flavor infuse in the butter for a few minutes until it cools down.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, bread flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
4. Put the brown sugar and turbinado sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pour the melted butter through a strainer into the bowl of sugar and mix on low speed until a smooth paste for about a minute.
5. Add the egg, egg yolk, milk and vanilla then mix on low speed for another minute until well combined. Scrape the bowl and test the mixture with your fingers to see if it’s at room temperature.
6. With the mixture on low speed, add the flour mixture until just incorporated. Turn off the mixture and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Stir in the chopped chocolate with a wooden spoon or spatula.
7. With a medium ice cream scoop portion out the cookie dough (about two tablespoons each) onto the baking sheet spaced 2in/5cm apart. Put the baking sheets in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour (or up to 48 hours). You can also freeze the portioned cookie dough at this point*.
8. Place a rack into the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F/190°C.
9. Once the dough is chilled, bake one sheet at a time for 11 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking, until the cookies are lightly golden brown around the edges and their tops are blushed with gold; do not overbake!
10. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

*To bake frozen cookie dough, take out the dough 30 minutes before baking to thaw slightly.

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Galette Des Rois

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I’m a bit late to post this Galette Des Rois recipe since it is made on January 6 of each year to celebrate Epiphany. Since a lot of you saw my Instagram story sharing my version, I decided to post it anyway because it’s an incredibly delicious pastry to serve anytime.

I always say that nothing is too hard to make from scratch – and I definitely get teased about that – but this recipe is really easy. All you have to do is create an almond based frangipane filling and then spread it between two store-bought puff pastry sheets that you can cut into a circular or square shape. You can even skip the fancy scoring on top and opt for a simple crosshatch pattern. The scoring is important though to ensure that the puff rises evenly.

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A lot of recipes out there only use almond cream for the filling, but frangipane is traditionally used in most bakeries, which is basically pastry cream and almond cream mixed together with some add-ons like orange zest and rum. I prefer a frangipane filling because it is more creamy, rich, and addictive.

Have you made a Galette des Rois this year? Let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to add a trinket or a whole almond in the filling – whoever gets it gets to be the queen or king of the day!
Yields one 8″ galette (20cm)

Crust
450g puff pastry (homemade or store-bought) cut into 8″ circles.
Note: If making a 9″ galette, you will need two store-bought puff pastry packages.

Pastry Cream
100ml milk
25g granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
4g cornstarch
10g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

Almond Cream (you will only use half this quantity later)
75g unsalted butter, room temperature
80g granulated sugar
1 medium egg
80g ground almonds
6g cornstarch
15ml rum
Orange zest (half a medium orange)

Egg Wash
1 egg yolk
Splash of water

Pastry Cream
1. In a small saucepan, combine the milk with half the sugar and put on medium heat to slowly bring it up to a simmer.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, the rest of the sugar and cornstarch. When the milk is hot (don’t let it boil), very slowly pour it over the egg mixture while whisking constantly and fast to prevent the yolk from curdling.
3. Working quickly, strain the milk-egg mixture through a fine-mesh sieve back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat whisking continuously.
4. Cook the pastry cream for 2 minutes until it thickens then remove from the heat, and add the butter cubes one at a time, whisking until fully incorporated, then the vanilla extract.
5. Transfer the pastry cream to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Put aside or store in the fridge if making this a day in advance.

Almond Cream
In a small bowl, cream together the softened butter with the sugar (or use a stand mixer). Mix in consecutively the egg, almond flour, cornstarch and finally the rum.

Assembly
1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) and place a half sheet pan in the oven.
2. Gently roll out the puff pastry to a 3mm-thick rectangle. Using an 8″ cake pan or a lid, cut two rounds of puff pastry with a sharp knife (the top should ideally be about 1cm bigger than the bottom). Pierce with a fork to let steam escape during baking and place them side by side on a lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until very cold or freeze for a few minutes.
3. To make the frangipane, mix the pastry cream with half of the almond cream (or all of it if making a larger galette) then set aside. Refrigerate the rest of the almond cream for other preparations.
4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, place the bottom dough on the center of the lined baking sheet and pipe the frangipane cream in a spiral shape leaving a 1″ (3cm) edge. Place a nut, bean, or trinket on the edge of the filling.
5. Brush water around the exposed perimeter of the dough, making sure not to touch the edges as this will prevent it from puffing up, then place the second larger circle on top of the cream and press down to seal the edges very well, leaving finger marks.
6. Flip the galette so that the top becomes the bottom (optional for a smoother top) and decorate the side of the galette by making an inward mark with the back of a knife blade. Brush the first layer of egg wash and refrigerate again for at least an hour.
7. Take out the galette, brush a second layer of egg wash and draw a pattern with the tip of a sharp knife. Note: this step is important to ensure that the dough rises evenly; do not cut the puff pastry or it will crack after baking. Poke small holes in the decoration lines in the center and sides.
8. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 15 minutes then at 350°F (200°C) for 35-40 minutes, until the galette becomes a deep golden brown color. Serve warm at room temperature.

Rhubarb Cream Scones

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A wonderful seasonal recipe that results in tender yet flaky scones. The addition of heavy cream and egg to the mixture increases the amount of fat in the dough making them richer and softer on the inside than their British counterpart. Always remember to handle the dough as little as possible to avoid a tough or cakey scone!

Scones:
160g rhubarb
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

300g (2½ cups) all-purpose flour, cold
65g (5 Tbsp) granulated sugar
15g (3 tsp) baking powder
¼ tsp fine grain sea salt
½ lemon zest
85g cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
240ml (1 cup) cold heavy cream
1 large egg, cold
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Topping:
1 small egg
½ tsp granulated sugar
pinch of fine grain sea salt
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

1. Mix the rhubarb and sugar in a small bowl and let it sit for at least an hour (you can do this overnight too).

2. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the cubed cold butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal (alternatively, you can use a food processor to cut the butter). Strain the rhubarb from any liquid and toss in the flour butter mixture.

3. In another bowl, beat the cold heavy cream, egg, vanilla. Add this to the flour and butter mixture and fold gently just until all of the flour has been moistened. Do not overwork the dough. Dump the dough out on to a large piece of parchment paper and gently pat the dough out until it’s about 1″ thick rectangle.

4. Transfer to a large baking sheet and let it rest for 15 minutes in the fridge. Cut the dough into 9 squares using a knife and space them out on the baking sheet. You can freeze the dough at this point before baking if you are planning to make these a few days in advance.

5. For the topping, beat together the egg, granulated sugar and salt. Lightly brush the tops of the dough with the mixture being careful not to drip on the sides (this will prevent the scones from rising). Wait for one minute to set then sprinkle with Demerara sugar. Bake for 15 minutes rotating halfway until the scones are golden brown.

6. Rest the scone for 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool for another 10 minutes, Serve warm the same day.

Rhubarb Financier Tart with Rose Water

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This is what I consider a perfect spring time treat. The combination of the tart rhubarb, hint of rose, and lightly sweetened almond cake got me hooked the first time making this wonderful financier cake last spring. So when I first spotted rhubarb at the farmer’s market a few weeks ago, I immediately bought a pound to bake this again since I never got around posting the recipe last year.

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I absolutely love the bright colors of the rhubarb stalks that add a wonderful gradient of colors on the cake ranging from crimson red, pink, to light green. Serve the tart anytime of the day, as a breakfast treat, afternoon snack, or a light dessert with vanilla whipped cream.

Recipe adapted from Hint of Vanilla

Roasted Rhubarb
450g rhubarb, split lengthwise
20g granulated sugar

Financier Batter
250g unsalted butter
120g almond flour
120g all-purpose flour
280g icing sugar
288g egg whites
2 tsp rose water
Extra sugar for sprinkling before baking
Icing sugar for finishing

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (one for roasting the rhubarb and another for the cake). Spray a 9-inch tart ring with non-stick spray.

Trim the rhubarb ends and cut into strips. Place on one of the baking sheets sprinkle the granulated sugar over. Roast the rhubarb until it is tender, but still has a bite and some structure to it – about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

For the financier, lower the oven temperature to 325°F (165°C).

To start, place the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Let the butter cook until the liquid becomes a light brown color and the milk solids on the bottom of the pan are a dark brown. Remove from the heat and pour the brown butter in a clean bowl to cool slightly. This should yield about 206 g of brown butter. If you have more than that, reserve the excess for other uses.

Meanwhile, sift the almond flour, all-purpose flour, and icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the egg whites and rose water, then beat with paddle attachment just until everything is incorporated. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure there are no pockets of dry ingredients. Once the brown butter is no longer hot (warm is okay), slowly pour it into the almond and egg white mixture with the mixer on low speed.

Pour the financier batter into the tart ring. Arrange the rhubarb on the financier trimming the ends to fit the tart ring. Sprinkle the vanilla sugar over top the rhubarb. Bake until the batter is golden brown underneath the rhubarb and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out with a few crumbs sticking to it – about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

To finish, dust the tart with sifted icing sugar and serve.

Ma’amoul Mad bil Tamer

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Ma’amoul mad literally means ma’amoul spread in Arabic. It’s a slightly tweaked version of the regular semolina date cookies I posted in January, where the date filling is spread between two pieces of dough and cut into squares or diamonds before baking. I changed the ratio of the fine to coarse semolina for the dough to hold its shape when sliced. You’ll also notice that I used clarified butter called samneh in Arabic instead of regular unsalted butter for a couple of reasons that I listed below.

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Unlike most types of oils and fats that are composed of 100% fat, butter is an emulsion of roughly 80% butterfat, 15% water and 5% milk proteins. Butter has a low smoking point when melted because the proteins burn quickly, and it’s also prone to turn rancid fast from the high water content (Source: Serious Eats). When butter is clarified (i.e. milk proteins removed and water evaporated to get pure butterfat) the resulting samneh has a high smoking point and a longer shelf life. That’s why it’s so commonly used in Arabic sweets.

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This version of ma’amoul is way faster and easier to make than the individual ones, and it tastes just as good with a crumbly semolina crust filled with melt-in-your-mouth date paste spiced with mahleb and scented with orange blossom and rose water. It goes without saying that the higher the quality the dates the better the end result.

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Clarified butter – Instructions from Serious Eats
You can clarify any quantity of butter for future use. For this recipe, I used 300g of unsalted butter (roughly 2.5 sticks). Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Cut the butter into pieces and melt in a heavy-duty saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil (the milk protein will foam the surface). Once boiling, turn the heat to medium and let the butter simmer for roughly 10 minutes: first, the white foamy surface will break apart then the milk proteins will sink to the bottom and the boiling will begin to slowly cease.

Once the butter stops boiling, remove from the heat and pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer or a coffee filter into a heatproof container to remove the browned milk solids. Let cool, then transfer to a sealed container and refrigerate until ready to use. Clarified butter should keep for at least 6 months in the refrigerator.

Date Filling
600g high quality soft medjool dates, pitted, peeled and white interior skin removed
1 tsp rose water
1 tsp orange blossom water
½ tsp ground mahleb
50g (2 Tbsp) clarified butter samneh, room temperature

Semolina Dough
340g (2 cups) coarse semolina flour (Smeed)
160g (1 cup) fine semolina flour (Farkha)
30g (2 Tbsp) granulated sugar
½ tsp instant dry yeast
½ tsp ground mahleb
210g (1 cup) clarified butter samneh, room temperature
2 Tbsp rose water
2 Tbsp orange blossom water (1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon)
Icing sugar (optional)

Make the date filling:
Mix the cleaned dates, rose water, orange blossom water, ground mahleb and clarified butter with your hands until a homogeneous paste is formed. Cover date paste with plastic wrap and set aside until later use.

Make the semolina dough:
In a large bowl mix the coarse semolina and fine semolina, sugar, yeast, and ground mahleb. Add the clarified butter and rub mixture together with the palm of your hands until the mixture is grainy and the butter is fully absorbed in the flour (about 5 minutes). Cover in plastic wrap and let it sit on the kitchen counter overnight or at least 2 hours.

After resting the dough, add the rose and orange blossom water, mix again and cover with plastic wrap leaving it to rest for another hour.

Preheat oven to 360°F (180°C). Brush a 9″x13″ rectangular baking pan or glass pyrex dish with clarified butter. Divide the semolina dough in half and cover the other half to prevent it from drying out. Roll out the first dough to roughly 9″x13″ inch and transfer to the baking dish (I find it easier to roll it between two sheets of wax paper). Use a bench scraper to smooth the dough and make sure that it’s evenly leveled. Repeat the same process with the date paste and the second half of the semolina dough.

Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the unbaked ma’amoul into 1.5″ vertical strips, making sure to slice all the way to the bottom of the baking dish. Then, slice diagonally in a crossways pattern, to create diamond shapes (alternatively, cut crosswise to make rectangles). Bake for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden and the edges are a light brown.

Take out the pan from the oven and let cool completely (preferably overnight). Dust the pieces of ma’amoul with icing sugar only before serving. Store in an air tight container up to a month or freeze up to 3 months.

Coconut Mastic Macaroons

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I tried a variety of coconut macaroon recipes in the last couple of months but none of them made me want to make them again, until I saw this recipe for irresistibly golden coconut macaroons. I was so intrigued but the technique that requires cooking the coconut batter on the stovetop before shaping into balls and baking (that was definitely a first!). It resulted in macaroons that are delicately crunchy on the outside and incredibly moist and chewy on the inside.

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What I love about this recipe is that it’s very adaptable, and you can adjust it based on your favorite tastes. Naturally, I made a couple of tweaks to Claire Ptak’s original recipe and added in freshly ground mastic to the batter. The refreshing smell the mastic paired with coconut is my favorite combination of all time! You can get really creative with this by adding a piece of almond in the center, dipping half of the cookies in dark chocolate, mixing in chopped dried fruits, or just bake them plain!

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Recipe adapted from Violet Bakery Cookbook
Makes 20 tablespoon sized macaroons

4 large egg whites
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
1 tbsp honey
200g (1+1/3 cups) unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp ground mastic (about 4 pea sized mastic resins)

1. Preheat the oven to 355°F/180°C. Line a baking sheet with two parchment papers (to prevent the bottom of the macaroons from burning).
2. Grind the mastic resins in a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle with a pinch of granulated sugar. Measure all the ingredients into a medium heavy-bottomed pan and place over medium low-heat, stirring constantly. As the mixture warms up, reduce the heat to low and stir until the mixture dries out and holds together into a cohesive mass. Let the mixture cool down before proceeding with the next steps (it will be easier to shape the macaroons).
3. Using a tablespoon, scoop individual portions of the mixture on to the lined baking sheet, leaving enough space between each one so they have room to expand.
4. Bake for 16-18 minutes until the macaroons are puffed and golden. Cool completely on the baking sheet before serving or storing. They will keep well for one week in an airtight container, or frozen up to a month.

Olive Oil Ricotta Semolina Cake with Roasted Quince

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I’ve been playing around with this recipe for quite some time now and made several versions of it with different winter fruits. The addition of the semolina and high quality olive oil in the batter makes a tender and light cake that’s complex in flavor. It’s studded with quince, that’s slightly roasted in orange blossom water to keep it firm to the bite, and crunchy blanched almonds – adding yet another contrast of textures and flavors. In the cold long winter days, this fruit dessert is guaranteed to brighten and uplift your mood.

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Recipe extensively adapted from Food52

Roasted Quince:
2 large quince (450g)
80g sugar
25g water
Zest of a small lemon
1½ tablespoon orange blossom water

1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. Peel quince and cut each into 8 thick slices (roughly 450g total). Place the slices in a baking pan. Cover with sugar, water, zest and orange blossom water.
3. Cover the tray with aluminum foil and cook for 35-40 minutes or until the quince is starting to soften.

Cake:
2 large eggs, room temperature
200g granulated sugar
245g ricotta cheese
80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
180g flour
80g fine semolina flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
– Confectioner’s sugar and a handful of blanched almonds for decoration
1. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour a 9″ (23cm) springform cake pan and line with parchment paper.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale about 5 minutes. In another bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, oil and lemon zest. Pour the cheese mixture into the whipped eggs and mix until combined.
3. Sift all of the dry ingredients directly over the wet ingredients. Mix with a large spatula gently until just combined, using a folding motion.
4. Pour the batter into the cake pan and spreading it out evenly. Arrange the roasted quince slices in slightly overlapping concentric circles until the top of the cake batter is covered. Sprinkle with blanched almonds.
5. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, the edges are pulling away from the pan, and a cake tester or toothpick comes out of the cake cleanly. Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then turn out to finish cooling on a rack.
6. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.