Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TWD: Cran-Apple Crisps

Our fearless leaders at Tuesdays with Dorie have permitted us to post the November recipes in whatever order best accomodates our busy holiday schedules. The recipe that I've decided to post this week, Cran-Apple Crisps (chosen by Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef) is a classic fall dessert that would be a fabulous addition to any Thanksgiving table. But it was also great on that random Monday night in early November when I had my act together well enough to make a Cran-Apple Crisp for dessert. It is versatile that way - you can dress it up, you can dress it down. I never hesitate to make apple desserts, since my husband loves them and can be counted on to be a volume eater of them, and at least one of my three kids will eagerly join him (that's the best percentage I ever get).

Tempted as I was to make individual crisps, I decided to make a half recipe of this crisp in one large baking dish. It's an easy dessert to throw together. The only aspects of the recipe that might cause me to avoid it on those (numerous) Monday nights when I DON'T have my act together are that (1) it requires peeling/coring/cutting apples, and (2) it requires that I break out the food processor. But honestly, if either of those activities seems overly daunting, I know that I don't need to be making a crisp anyway.

This crisp is fairly traditional, but the topping has the unexpected addition of coconut. I'm not a huge fan of coconut, except when I am, and in this case, I think I'd have preferred the topping without the coconut. But I'm certainly not going to quibble - this is a delicious, crowd-pleasing dessert. It certainly pleased (3/5th) of my crowd!

You can find the recipe in Dorie Greenspan's amazing book, Baking from my Home to Yours, or by visiting Em's gorgeous blog. Thanks for the perfect fall pick, Em!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

TWD: Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

Even though I've been a monumental blog slacker of late (which I am really sorry about, particularly to my friends whose blogs I have not been visiting), I always get as excited as a kid in a candy store when the Tuesdays with Dorie recipes for a new month are announced. It's the promise of a clean slate - the promise of a new month in which I CAN make caramel. I just can't click over to the TWD website fast enough when I see that "new recipes are up!" tweet. And typically, I am affirmatively excited about one or two of the recipes; one or two of them scare the heck out of me (usually custard or caramel-based); and one or two of them fill me with indifference. The Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies, chosen by the fabulous Pamela of Cookies with Boys, fell into my "overwhelmed by indifference" category for November. Other people were really excited about them, but as someone who, when presented with a platter of chocolate chip cookies, lemon cookies, and spice cookies, would ALWAYS choose the spice cookies last, my primary thought was "Good. These won't tempt me and David will eat them."

Well. Then I made them. And realized, after taking one bite of their crispy-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside-perfectly-spiced-subtly molassesy goodness, that these cookies now rank solidly among my top three favorite cookies EVER, right up there with World Peace Cookies and Alton Brown's The Chewy. This, a spice cookie! I don't know if my taste buds have changed (there's been some banter on Twitter that your taste buds die as you get older, and I did just have a birthday) or if I was just young and stupid back in the days when I thought I didn't care much about spice cookies, or if these spice cookies are just particularly amazing, given that they are a Dorie Greenspan recipe and all. I don't know and I don't care. All I know is that I am deep deep deep in Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookie love. If you see me sitting there with sort of a faraway look and a goofy half-grin, you can assume that I'm thinking about the Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies again.

I was a little thrown off kilter by my love for these cookies. I had to scramble to change my plans, because again, I was expecting to be indifferent to these cookies while my husband, he of the superhuman metabolism, ate them all. But after I had one, I knew I had to get some of them out of the house pronto. I needed a worthy recipient, though, someone who would fully appreciate their awesomeness - maybe someone who is eating for two. Yeah, that's it! So I brought some to my 8 months pregnant friend, Amanda. She called me after trying one and said "I am SO glad that you're on a diet." And I replied "I am SO glad that you are not."

Amanda can expect more of these cookies before she has the baby (and some after she has the baby); and I am going to start sharing them with some of my non-pregnant friends, too. If you are likely to receive baked goods from me for Christmas, these will be in the package. Just wanted you to know so you can plan your Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookie needs accordingly. Don't worry, the World Peace Cookies will be in there too.

My only cookie-related disappointment is my pictures of them. I got a fancy new camera for my birthday, and I expected to take it out of the box and instantly start taking beautifully styled, perfectly composed, well-lit pictures (on full auto, of course). Instead, these are even darker than the ones I took with my old point & shoot! I'm taking an Introduction to Digital Photography class starting this week, so maybe that will help. But I'm afraid that there may be inherent talent limitations at work here, and at the end of the day, I suspect that this is just not going to be the place you want to come for pretty pictures. But this IS the place to come for unbridled enthusiasm about Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies!!

Pamela, I loved you before you chose these cookies, and I love you even more now. Thank you for introducing me to a new favorite cookie!
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