Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Nobody throws a dinner party quite like my friend, David. He can make a multi-course meal for fifty without panicking for a second, and he’s been known to throw impromptu dinner & a movie nights for twenty without the slightest hesitation.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Both the man and his food are sophisticated without being pretentious—think ham smoked on his roof, cold salmon with dill & yogurt, habanero cheese grits, herby roasted potatoes, tomato & avocado salad with pesto, and a recipe for brussels sprouts that haunts my dreams. And that’s to say nothing of the things he can do with a Costco croissant and a bulb of fennel! I could go on, but the bottom line is that David makes unfussy food that is outrageously delicious, and if you are ever so lucky as to be invited for dinner at his apartment, you must must must go. If not for the main menu or the love of his three-legged cat, go for the Boterkoek.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}If you have never heard of Boterkoek (pronounced “bow-ter-kook”), it’s Dutch for “butter cake,” and it’s about to be your new favorite dessert for any and all occasions. David is of Dutch descent and makes it frequently (usually from Heleen A.M. Halverhout’s Dutch Cooking), and now, so do I.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}As its name states, this cake is ridiculously buttery. It’s also sweet, simple, and the sort of thing that works just as well for dinner with friends as it does for delivering to new parents or keeping around to pick on over the course of a lazy weekend.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek is made from a dough rather than a batter. It includes softened butter (duh), sugar, an egg, flour, vanilla and almond extracts, and minced candied ginger. There’s no leavener, but the final product isn’t terribly dense. I attribute that to beating the softened butter until it’s good and fluffy.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}As with all of David’s go-to recipes, this one is decidedly unfussy. The most annoying part of making a Boterkoek is reserving a teaspoon of the beaten egg for brushing over the top of the cake. No bother, really. The thin layer of egg wash makes for a golden top, and a crosshatch pattern carved out with the tines of a fork gives way to crispy edges and a magazine-quality presentation.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}I haven’t even mentioned the flavor! Boterkoek is rich and buttery with a touch of almond flavor and a little sharpness from the candied ginger. The texture falls somewhere between a cake, shortbread and a blondie—it’s best eaten with a fork when it’s warm, but can be handheld when it’s room temperature.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek is what I like to call an everyday cake; it can be made easily with few ingredients, doesn’t require layering or frosting, and works for almost any casual occasion including, of course, a dinner party at David’s. Or, you know, watching Netflix in your oldest/best pajamas.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Either way, you shouldn’t skimp on the ice cream.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}
adapted from Dutch Cooking by Heleen A.M. Halverhout
makes one 8-inch round cake, about 8-10 slices

1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon water
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup minced candied ginger

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch pie plate with butter. Set aside.

Crack egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork. Use a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon to remove 1 teaspoon of the egg to a separate bowl. Whisk 1 teaspoon water with the 1 teaspoon of egg to make an egg wash. Set both bowls aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, an electric mixer (or wooden spoon and a lot of elbow grease) to beat softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the larger amount of egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and beat to combine. Add flour and salt and mix until a thick, crumbly dough forms. Add minced candied ginger and mix on low for 10-15 seconds to distribute.

Press dough into prepared pan. Brush egg wash over the top. Use the tines of a fork or edge of a knife to create a crosshatch pattern on top.

Bake cake 30-35 minutes, or until golden and glossy on top. Let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving from the pan.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4.Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

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Fried Pineapple Pies

Fried Pineapple PiesI had big plans for Pi Day, the day on which we celebrate both pie and math, which falls on March 14th (aka 3.14, aka tomorrow). For months, my plan had been to make an Old-Fashioned Pineapple Pie, the sort of southern grandma food that makes my heart sing. I had read about this dessert sometime last year and decided that I would aim to have it perfected by today, but as usual, my plans never play out in the linear fashion that I’d prefer.Fried Pineapple PiesMy attempt at Pineapple Pie was ostensibly fine. The crust was golden, the filling was set, the crimp was maybe my best ever, but when I went to try a slice, all I could think was how…soft…it was. The flavor was good and I suppose I’d prefer that it be soft over crunchy, but still. It was just so…soft.Fried Pineapple PiesI was ready to go back to the drawing board, looking over my (long) list of recipe ideas when I noticed “fried pies” tacked onto my future-pie-inspo. That’s when it hit me: while I may not want an inch-thick layer of pineapple filling, a little bit folded into a crispy southern-style fried hand pie seemed like a very good idea.Fried Pineapple PiesNow, having made these Fried Pineapple Pies twice, I can confirm that they are indeed a very good idea. A phenomenal idea, really. The combination of sweet, tangy, lime- and ginger-spiked pineapple filling and flaky fried crust is one of the best things to come out of my kitchen this year!Fried Pineapple PiesThe crust and filling come together ahead of time—the filling in five minutes on the stovetop and the crust in the bowl of a food processor—and are then combined shortly before frying. Pineapple filling is doled out by the tablespoon before being folded into a triangle. The pies are sealed with egg and crimped with a fork before being lowered into a pot of 350F oil. Two or three minutes later, they are lifted out, golden and flaky and begging for a dusting of confectioner’s sugar before being eaten warm ❤Fried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple PiesA few things about the crust before I get to the recipe:

  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can absolutely make this dough with a pastry blender (or two forks) in a mixing bowl.
  • The dough will stay soft even after a multi-hour chill. This is because there’s a fair amount of buttermilk in relation to the flour and butter, but rest assured that a chill will allow it to roll like a dream.
  • Don’t stress yourself out about keeping the dough cold after you shape the pies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have space for two sheet pans full of raw hand pies in my fridge. If these were being baked, I’d probably advise you to make a greater effort at chilling before cooking, but I’ve had no issues letting these pies sit at room temperature before they hit the oil. The crust still fries up nice and flaky. Love that.

Fried Pineapple PiesNo need for words on the pineapple filling—it’s basically the same as the filling in my Coconut Pineapple Cake and Pineapple Sweet Rolls! Sweet, tart, jammy, and so deliciously easy.Fried Pineapple PiesWell, I think that covers the pie portion of Pi Day. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to properly celebrate the math…but probably not.Fried Pineapple Pies

Fried Pineapple Pies
makes 20-22 hand pies

Crust:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces
1 cup buttermilk

Filling:
16 ounces (2 8-ounce cans) canned crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
zest of 1 medium lime
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

To Seal:
1 large egg, beaten

For Frying:
canola oil, safflower oil, shortening, or other oreferred frying fat

For Garnish:
2-3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

One Hour to Three Days Ahead:

Make the dough. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter and process until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Add buttermilk and process until dough clumps, stopping to scrape down the bowl if needed. Give dough a knead or two before dividing it in half, forming each into a disk, and wrapping them in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. Dough will remain slightly soft even after chilling.

Make the filling. Combine crushed pineapple in juice, sugar, cornstarch, ground ginger, salt, and lime zest and juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until juices are clear and mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Let cool to room temperature before chilling in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

When You Want to Fry:

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside. Line another baking sheet with paper towels and set a cooling rack over the top. Set near where you will be frying.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Use a ruler and a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice the dough into 4×4-inch squares. Stack squares on a plate. Chill scraps and squares while you roll and cut the second disk of dough. Scraps may be kneaded lightly and re-rolled.

Working with one square at a time, roll lightly on the floured surface just to expand another 1/2-inch or so. Drop 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of the square. Brush two meeting-edges with beaten egg and fold the square diagonally to create a triangle. Press to seal with your fingers before crimping with the floured tines of a fork. Place pie on parchment-lined pan. Repeat with remaining dough/filling. Don’t worry too much about dough becoming soft or sticky.

Pour canola oil (or other frying fat) into a very dry heavy-bottomed pot. Heat over medium heat until it reaches 350F.

Working with 2 pies at a time, fry them for 1-2 minutes per side, until golden, before using a frying spider to remove to prepared rack/pan. Repeat with remaining pies, letting the oil return to temperature as needed.

When all pies are fried, dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve immediately, while warm.

Fried Pineapple Pies are best the day they are made.

Note:

If you do not have a food processor, this may be done in a large mixing bowl with a pastry blender or two forks.Fried Pineapple PiesFried Pineapple Pies

One Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie

One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieLast week, I needed a win. I needed a win badly.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieI was reeling from a personal tragedy, having a difficult time getting myself out of bed in the morning, and couldn’t get any recipes to work properly. I suffer from depression and anxiety, so some of this is just part of my normal life, but there’s something about having recipes—something with which I am supposed to have some modicum of talent and control—repeatedly fail that sends me into a tailspin.

Exhibit A: That time I obsessively made 18 babkas.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieI woke up Friday morning determined to get one recipe to work. Just one. Something I thought would be easy and only take two or three tries: a chocolate variation on my single-serving One Big Chocolate Chip Cookie. Using that recipe as a guide, I started mixing…and then proceeded to have many, many fails.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOver the course of two hours, I ran the gamut of cookie failure. Too flat, too puffy, too dry, too chemical-tasting—you get the idea. Here are four of them:One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieBut then I looked at my tried & true Double Chocolate Cookie recipe and realized I hadn’t tried blooming the cocoa, a method of heating it with butter and sugar that produces a richer chocolate flavor. As with the large-batch cookies, this quick and easy process turned out to be key to my One Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie success!One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieAlso, crucial to cookie success? Underbaking. If you bake this cookie until it’s fully done, you’ll end up with a chocolate M&Ms frisbee. This is because cocoa powder tends to dry things out and also because I use a teaspoon of water here in place of the usual egg (a little trick I learned from the regular chocolate chip version). Underbaking will yield crisp-chewy edges, a crackly top, and a soft, fudgy center. Yesssss.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieI had a bunch of M&Ms leftover from making Monster Carmelitas last month, so that’s what I chose to use as my cookie mix-in. I love the contrast of the melty chocolate centers, crispy candy shells, and brownie-like cookie, but feel free to put whatever you want into this cookie base. Regular semisweet chocolate chips, white chocolate, mini peanut butter cups, walnuts—whatever you have around. It’s almost certainly guaranteed to be a win. And really, when is a big cookie not a win?One Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie

One Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie
makes one large cookie

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon water (not cold)
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, optional
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons M&Ms candy

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine butter, cocoa powder, and brown sugar. Microwave in 15-second increments, stirring in between until melted together. Alternatively, you may do this in a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat.

Mix in water and vanilla. Add flour, baking soda and salt, and whisk with a fork until a soft dough forms. Use a silicone spatula or spoon to mix/fold in M&Ms.

Use your hands to form dough into a ball and place on parchment. Dot with additional M&Ms (for aesthetic purposes), if desired. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until the top is crackly and the cookie appears a bit underdone.

Let cookie cool on the pan for 5-7 minutes before using a spatula to remove it to a plate. Enjoy.One Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms CookieOne Big Chocolate M&Ms Cookie

Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas

Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasYour eyes are not deceiving you. I’m posting a cold beverage on a sub-30F day here in NYC. If you think I’ve lost my mind, you’re late to the party—I’ve been known to make ice cream in February.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasThe truth is that a small miracle occurred a couple of weeks ago when I managed to find better-than-decent ruby red grapefruit for a third time this winter, something that’s virtually unheard of in New York. I’m lucky to find quality grapefruit once per year (see here, here, and here), so three times is just…well, it’s making my inner Texan very happy. I try to keep that part of myself under control, but it’s very difficult around good South Texas citrus (and enchiladas), so here we are.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas are exactly what I want in these last weeks of winter. They’re a fruity, bright, seasonal, sippable reminder that there will soon be a day when I can leave my coat at home. If you’ve never heard of an agua fresca, it’s just a combination of fresh fruit, sugar, and water. I made a Spicy Mango version last summer that’ll knock your socks off, and I’m excited to be adding a wintry version to my repertoire today ❤ Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasAs their name states, these aguas frescas are made with fresh-squeezed grapefruit and lime juices. They’re mixed together in a pitcher (or a big measuring cup, if you’re me) and sweetened to taste with a little simple syrup. I don’t care for super-sweet beverages in general, so I tend to limit the syrup to 1/3 cup for the entire batch, but feel free to sweeten to your heart’s content.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasYou’ll also need simple syrup for salting the rims of your glasses. Salt is totally dreamy with both grapefruit and lime, so this is one lily worth gilding. Just dip the rim of each glass into a dish of simple syrup and then into salt. Voila! A salted rim 🙂 I used regular Kosher salt here, but anything slightly coarse will do.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasAdd a few ice cubes to each of your salt-rimmed glasses and then fill them 3/4 full of the juice mixture. Most aguas frescas are blended with regular cold water, but I like to top these off with a little sparkling water. I use Topo Chico and love the subtle fizz it provides.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasAren’t these fun?! I love their bright color and fresh, tangy flavor, and those salted rims, of course. They remind me a lot of a Salty Dog cocktail (aka grapefruit + vodka/white tequila + salt), but without the booze. I may or may not have taken to calling these Salty Schnauzers 🙂 Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasYou may, of course, add liquor to the mix, but as someone who doesn’t drink anymore, I’m always thrilled when there’s an alcohol-free option that isn’t soda, juice, or plain seltzer. I may be sober, but that doesn’t mean I only drink boring drinks.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasNope. I don’t do boring.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas

Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas
makes about 6 servings

2 1/2 cups fresh ruby red grapefruit juice (about 3 large grapefruits)
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 2-3 large, juicy limes)
1/3-1/2 cup simple syrup* (method in recipe notes)
ice
12 ounces sparkling water (I like Topo Chico)

For the salted rims:
1/4 cup Kosher or other coarse salt
1/4 cup simple syrup

In a pitcher or large (4+ cup) liquid measuring cup, stir together grapefruit and lime juices and simple syrup. Set aside.

Salt the rims of the glasses. Put simple syrup in a wide, shallow bowl. Make a bed of salt on a small plate. Working with one small glass at a time, dip the rim of each glass into the simple syrup and then into the salt. Repeat with remaining five glasses.

Place a few ice cubes in each glass. Fill 3/4 full with juice mixture and top each with a little sparkling water. Drinks will fizz (but not overflow) when mixture hits the salt rim. Serve immediately.

Aguas frescas will separate slowly as they sit; counteract this with a light stir. Any leftover juice mixture will keep covered in the refrigerator for a day or so.

Note: To make simple syrup, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before using. Leftovers can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator.Sparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas FrescasSparkling Grapefruit-Lime Aguas Frescas

Funfetti Cookies

Funfetti CookiesIt’s no secret that I love sprinkles. Like big pink puffy heart ❤ ❤ ❤ them. You’d be surprised at the amount of restraint I have to practice so that half the recipes on this site aren’t loaded with rainbow-colored spots.Funfetti CookiesI know it’s silly, but I don’t care. You can tell me all you want that rainbow sprinkles have no real flavor and are mostly just food coloring and other ingredients that I wouldn’t normally give a second glance, but I simply. don’t. care.Funfetti CookiesSprinkles make me happy. Don’t rain on my Funfetti parade.Funfetti CookiesI mean, how could anyone be anything but beaming while eating a soft, chewy sugar cookie bursting with color and studded with white chocolate chips? This batch is long gone, but just looking at the photos makes me smile 🙂 Funfetti CookiesYou know what else makes me smile? Miniature schnauzers (also all dogs ever), lemon cake, the pink heart sunglasses sticker in Instagram stories…and how easy these Funfetti Cookies are to make.

Sorry about that tangent. Won’t happen again. Today.Funfetti CookiesThis recipe starts with a buttery drop sugar cookie dough that you probably have all the ingredients for right now! #score Funfetti CookiesFunfetti CookiesYou could, of course, skip the accoutrements and bake up a batch of really delicious plain sugar cookies, but I promise the sprinkles and white chocolate chips are worth the extra trip to the grocery store. They take an already great recipe and turn it up to 11.Funfetti CookiesI don’t know about you, but I simply don’t have time or spare calories for cookies that aren’t an 11.Funfetti Cookies

Funfetti Cookies
makes about 2.5 dozen cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract or almond extract (optional)
1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies,* not nonpareils)
1 1/4 cup white chocolate chips

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in granulated sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and optional imitation butter or almond extract, if using. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating until combined. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in sprinkles, followed by white chocolate chips. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Scoop chilled dough in 2 tablespoon increments, and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 10-11 minutes, until puffy. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process with any remaining dough, letting the baking sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

I used jimmies for the sprinkles in this recipe. Nonpareils may not be substituted. For information on the differences between the two, see this post. Funfetti CookiesFunfetti CookiesFunfetti Cookies