baking cookies Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chewy, Chunky Blondies

Oh, yum.

That’s pretty much my post for this week’s installment of Tuesdays With Dorie. It really encapsulates my feelings about these little nuggets of joy, and the feelings of everyone I shared them with.

So thanks for stopping by.

Oh, OK — I’ll be more specific. I made these a couple of summers ago, shortly after I got Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. I took them to an outdoor concert (the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Music Center; coincidentally enough, I was just there again last night, which is why this post is late), where they provided a marvelous dessert for our al fresco dinner.

And then I never made them again for some inexplicable reason.

So when I saw them in the rotation for July (thanks to Nicole of Cookies on Friday for choosing them!), I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, despite the fact that we just don’t eat things like this (marvelous, delicious, life-affirming things) anymore.

For those who don’t know, my husband has pretty much dumped carbs. This has made my life (at least the baking/eating part of it) sad and empty, although that’s balanced by the fact that he has lost a ton of weight, has way more energy, and feels great. But cookies!

But a bunch of people from my high school class were getting together in a park for a picnic, and the timing was just superb. I made a double batch of Chewy, Chunky Blondies.

I used chocolate chips and toffee chips and toasted pecans and coconut. Oh.

And for some reason, they didn’t all get eaten. And so I brought them home. And so we ate them. And they were good. (I had intended to save the leftovers for Alex’s going-away party next month, but, um, no.)

Tim fell off of his otherwise-rigorous eating regimen (he really is good; I have no idea how he manages to be as disciplined as he is). He popped about eight of them over two sessions (the day I made them and the day of the picnic). I ate way, way more than I had intended to. Ben — well, Ben would have eaten hundreds of them whether they were good or not. And Alex, finding fault as always, prefers his blondies without chocolate.

I’m sure there will be many awesome variations among the TWD bakers; go check them out. And if you want to try them yourself (and you really, really should), Nicole has the recipe for you.


baking Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Brrrr-ownies

Back in December when it was my turn to pick the recipe, these brownies were way up near the top of the short list. But Dorie talks about how good they are on a steamy summer’s day, and so I sadly left them for someone else to choose.

This week, Karen of Welcome to Our Crazy Blessed Life did so. Thank you, Karen.

(I went with Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars. They were delicious.)

So even though I almost never bake anymore, and 75 percent of my family is trying to lose weight, I had to make these brownies. And I’m glad I did.

I love York Peppermint Patties. I love brownies. Really, how can you go wrong combining them?

So my plan was to serve one of these per person as dessert, wrap up a few for a friend whose birthday is Wednesday, and freeze the rest for a picnic I’m going to on Saturday.

Um, no.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The batter came together easily; I really prefer recipes that involve melting the butter and chocolate together, rather than ones that require me to remember to take the butter out hours ahead of time to soften. Score 1 for Dorie.

I managed to chop the Peppermint Patties up into varying sizes without eating any. Yay me.

I baked them; I cooled them; I peeled off the foil. All uneventful.

And then I trimmed a tiny bit off the edge, just to taste.

By the time I was finished trimming more tiny bits off the edge, the brownies were a third gone. By the time my family got through with them, I managed to salvage four for my friend and wrapped the remaining two — two! — up for the boys to eat today.

My God, these were marvelous. Make them now.

If you want to read what the other TWD bakers did with these, check out the blogroll. And right now, go visit Welcome to Our Crazy Blessed Life, where Karen will provide you with the recipe.


Grilled Pizza at Last!

For years I’ve been reading people’s descriptions of making pizza on a grill. I make pizza — really good pizza, amazing pizza, pizza that’s spoiled me for ever eating pizza anywhere else, including at artisan places with wood-fired ovens. Mine is just better.

But my oven is pretty low-end, and it doesn’t get nearly as hot as I want it to. The secret to top-notch pizza crust is heat — 750 to 800 degrees minimum. So I wanted a grill, a fancy grill with a thermostat.

But I didn’t have one. Every spring and summer I’d talk about buying a grill, and I even gazed at them longingly when I was unlucky enough to find myself at Home Depot or Lowe’s.

But we never bought one, until this year. My older son, Alex (previously known here as Son #1), is going off to college in August, and we’re throwing him a going-away party. Of course, a party in the summer needs a grill, so we finally had the excuse we needed to buy one.

And I am so glad we did. And I’m glad we waited, because we got one of those newfangled infrared grills. Let me tell you: It’s not a gimmick. Every single thing we have grilled, including steak, burgers (both beef and buffalo), lamb shish kebobs, green beans (!), corn on the cob, and now pizza, has been amazing. Simply fantastic.

Look! Corn!

You know what’s a revelation? Grilled sweet corn. Soak the ears, in the husks, for 15 minutes. Grill for 6 to 7 minutes, then turn and do the same on the other side.

No salt, no butter, nothing: This is the best corn I have ever tasted. I could eat nothing but grilled corn for an entire day.

But this post is about pizza. My pizza is still a work in progress, so take this for what it’s worth.

I make an amazing pizza dough, courtesy of Maggie Glezer’s fabulous Artisan Baking Across America. (Great book, which appears, tragically, to be out of print. If you find a copy, buy it.) This stuff handles so beautifully you won’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Gemelli Pizza Margherita from Artisan Baking Across America, by Maggie Glezer

3⅓ cups (500 grams) unbleached bread flour ¼ teaspoon instant yeast 2 teaspoons (10 grams) sea salt 1½ cups (330 grams) lukewarm water

Put the flour, yeast, and salt in a mixing bowl. (I make this in my KitchenAid, but you can do it by hand if you’re less lazy than I am.) Stir them together by hand. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed while pouring in the water slowly; continue to mix on low speed just until the dough gathers around the hook. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Mix the dough on medium speed for about 3 minutes, till it’s fairly but not perfectly smooth. The dough should feel sticky at first, and then soft and dry to the touch (although it might still be a bit sticky; as long as you can handle it, it will be OK). (I have never had to add either more water or more flour.)

On a lightly floured work surface, cut the dough into four pieces, each 7 ounces (200 grams). Shape each piece into a tight ball: Flatten the dough, then roll it up like a carpet. Turn the roll, position it seam side up, and roll it again. If you can, do this a third time. Turn the dough so the seam is on the bottom and round the edges to form a tight ball. Roll each ball in flour and arrange on a floured tray, then cover the tray tightly with plastic wrap or a cover.

Let the balls rest at room temperature until they are soft and puffy but still springy, 5 to 6 hours. Or refrigerate the shaped balls up to 36 hours, then remove from the refrigerator and let them finish proofing at room temperature for 7 to 8 hours.

When this stuff is fully proofed, it’s a dream to work with.

Every recipe I found on the Internet said to brush the bottom of the dough with oil before putting it on the grill, so I did. But I never managed to flip the dough neatly onto the grill, so it wound up bunched up and too thick. So the last shell, I just put on a heavily floured peel and then slid right onto the grill. It actually stuck less than the oiled ones.

We cooked the pizza shells for a minute or so on each side, then brought them inside and topped them with pizza sauce (just canned tomato sauce plus garlic and oregano and basil and salt) and basil from the garden and mozzarella, then put them back on the grill just long enough to brown the cheese. The bottoms were a little charred; next time I think we’ll turn the grill down and let it cool a bit before the last step.

But oh! Best pizza ever, and I say that as someone who has always made the best pizza ever. Try it.