Author Archives: Liz {E2 Bakes Brooklyn}

About Liz {E2 Bakes Brooklyn}

I'm a blogger, freelance baker, and recipe developer in South Brooklyn.

Pesto Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

Pesto Mozzarella Grilled CheeseAs far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster loved the Oscars. I couldn’t tell you when I first watched them, but I don’t recall ever missing a ceremony. Oscar Night is my favorite holiday. One of my best friends and I bonded over our mutual love of Oscar politics. I put great effort into predicting each year’s nominees and winners. I consider Martin Scorsese’s win in 2007 one of the happiest moments of *my* life. Put simply, I love them I love them I love them.

To that end, it will come as no surprise that I have a traditional Oscar Night meal. If you’ve been around here a while, you know by now that my Oscar dessert is always red velvet (because it’s “red like the red carpet”). The main though? I’ve never posted it. I’ve barely mentioned it. Until now, duh.Pesto Mozzarella Grilled CheeseI’ve been making Pesto Mozzarella Grilled Cheeses for dinner on every Oscar Night since 2005. Why? Because:

A) it’s effing delicious, as all cheesy pesto things are.
B) it’s easy, and that’s important when you’re cooking and watching red carpet coverage at the same time.
C) 20 year old me could afford all the ingredients and churn these out on the illegal electric burner I had in my dorm room. Pesto Mozzarella anything seemed very special to all my college pals and was enough to get them to watch the Oscars with me.
D) this is the height of sophistication in the category of Things I Once Cooked in a Residence Hall That I Still Make.

Anyway…this sandwich. This simple, simple sandwich. I’ve been making it for sixteen years and I won’t go an Oscar Night without it. It’s cheesy, it’s herby. It brings me so much joy on Oscar Night (and any night).Pesto Mozzarella Grilled CheeseLet’s talk ingredients. First things first: get the good sandwich bread. I mean, whatever you have will absolutely work, but might I suggest sourdough? Or something crusty and chewy with an open structure so that some of the cheese melts through to the pan and gets crispy? Can you tell I’ve thought about this a lot???Pesto Mozzarella Grilled CheeseNext up, Basil Pesto. It’s spread on both slices of bread involved in this grilled cheese and is the thing that makes it pop! The pesto pictured is my homemade stuff, but feel free to use store bought. Keep in mind that it’s a primary flavor though, so whatever you choose, make sure you really like it.Pesto Mozzarella Grilled CheesePesto Mozzarella Grilled CheeseYou can’t have a grilled cheese without cheese! I use a mix of equal parts fresh mozzarella and low-moisture whole milk mozzarella that I shred on the large hole side of my box grater. This gives the sandwich the rich flavor of the fresh cheese with the perfect meltability (?) of the more processed stuff.

Don’t want to buy both? Don’t! You can use all of either one with good results. I am just persnickety after sixteen years and like a mix. You can also just slice and layer it instead of grating–whatever you like. A word to the wise: don’t buy the pre-shredded stuff. It just doesn’t melt right.Pesto Mozzarella Grilled CheeseThough most grilled cheeses are made with butter, I choose to use olive oil here to keep with the pesto flavor profile. I brush a little on both sides of my assembled sandwich before cooking.Pesto Mozzarella Grilled CheeseAnd speaking of cooking, as with my favorite classic grilled cheese, Pesto Mozzarella Grilled Cheese is cooked over medium-low heat so that the bread crisps and the cheese melts at similar rates—no burnt outsides and cold cheese allowed! It’s all gooey, stretchy cheese, garlicky pesto and crispy edges up in here.Pesto Mozzarella Grilled CheeseI almost always serve these up with a green salad with cara cara oranges, red onion and balsamic vinaigrette (more “sophisticated” college food), but you do whatever makes you happy. I mean, the Oscars tend to be volatile enough that this sandwich may be the only thing that goes your way come Sunday night. But oh, what a win.Pesto Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

Pesto Mozzarella Grilled Cheese
makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices sourdough or other good sandwich bread
2 heaping tablespoons prepared basil pesto
2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, grated*
2 ounces low-moisture whole milk mozzarella,* grated (I used Trader Joe’s)
olive oil, for brushing
pinch or two of Kosher or sea salt

Lay all slices of bread on a surface. Spread about a 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) of pesto over each one. Top two of the slices with the grated cheeses. Top cheese with remaining pieces of pesto-spread bread, “closing” the sandwiches. Use a pastry brush to brush olive oil on exposed plain bread. Sprinkle with salt.

Heat a medium-large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-low heat. Add sandwiches oiled-bread-side-down. Brush the exposed (plain-side-up) pieces of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Let sandwiches cook, without moving or squishing, until they are golden on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes. Flip sandwiches and let cook, without moving or squishing, until they are golden on the other side, about 3 more minutes.

Remove to plates and serve immediately.

Note:

1. Fresh mozzarella doesn’t grate cleanly, but will still crumble nicely enough on the side of a box grater.

2. Low-moisture mozzarella is the kind that comes shrink-wrapped and is usually near the bricks of cheddar and pre-sliced cheese. Leftovers can be used in pasta dishes or for homemade pizza bagels or English muffin pizzas.

Pesto Mozzarella Grilled CheesePesto Mozzarella Grilled CheesePesto Mozzarella Grilled Cheese

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Lemon Sugar CookiesIf you’re keeping track, this is my third lemon dessert in six weeks. What can I say? I’ve got a fridge full of lemons and I know how to use them.

Sunny Lemon Upside-Down Cake
Lemon Meringue Tart
Lemon Sugar Cookies ✅✅✅ Lemon Sugar CookiesY’all these Lemon Sugar Cookies are so good and so easy! The dough comes together in a pot on the stove just like my Maple Sugar Cookies—no need to dirty a mixing bowl! There’s no chill required for this recipe either, although there are a couple of ten minute rests for the flour to soak in all that buttery lemon goodness. Still, these are easy, easy, easy.Lemon Sugar CookiesThe ingredient list here is relatively short, but has one somewhat unusual addition: confectioner’s sugar. This super-smooth mix of sugar and cornstarch keeps these cookies soft, tender and just sweet enough. If you’ve tried my all-egg yolks chocolate chip cookies, you know what a game changer this is!

As for the lemon flavor, it comes from lemons (duh). The dough is flavored with only lemon zest, and the baked cookies finished off with a quick lemon glaze. The finished products are buttery and bright and pretty dang wonderful, but you can add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract if you’d like an extra lemony punch.Lemon Sugar CookiesPro Tip: wait a little bit to eat these. The difference in flavor between the time they are glazed and thirty minutes later is shocking to say the least. Somehow that half hour allows the lemon flavor to really shine through.Lemon Sugar CookiesLemon Sugar Cookies are crisp at the edges and chewy throughout, the way so many of the best cookies are. And make no mistake, these are the best cookies—the kind that are low maintenance and deliver big time. Take the time to make a batch this weekend. You’ll see.Lemon Sugar Cookies

Lemon Sugar Cookies
makes about 1.5 dozen cookies

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest (from about 1 medium-large lemon)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Lemon Glaze:
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
5-6 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1/2 of a medium-large lemon)

Arrange your oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment. Set aside.

Place butter in a medium pot (4 quart) over medium-low heat. Melt, then cool 10 minutes.

Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and use your fingertips to rub them together. Whisk the mixture into the butter, followed by the confectioner’s sugar.

Add the egg and yolk to the pot and whisk to combine. Whisk in the vanilla, followed by flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Let dough sit for 10 minutes.

Scoop dough in 1 1/2 tablespoon increments (I use a medium cookie scoop). Roll into balls and place at least 2.5 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake cookies 10-11 minutes, or until puffed and no longer raw looking. Cookies will relax as they begin to cool.

Set a cooling rack over a pieces of wax paper or parchment.

Let cookies cool for 10 minutes on the pans before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl use a fork to whisk together confectioner’s sugar, salt and 5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. Add more lemon juice by the 1/2 teaspoon, until desired consistency is reached.

Load glaze into a small piping bag and snip off the tiniest corner. The glaze will be dry to the touch within 20 minutes and harden after a few hours.

For best lemon flavor, let glazed cookies rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Lemon Sugar CookiesLemon Sugar Cookies

Almond Poppy Seed Scones

Almond Poppy Seed SconesI know what you’re thinking. How many scone recipes does one baker need? The answer is simple: as many as they can conjure up! Can’t stop, won’t stop. Sorry, not sorry. I mean, do you see these???Almond Poppy Seed Scones

Almond Poppy Seed Scones are super tender and buttery, speckled with crispy poppy seeds, topped with a creamy almond glaze and finished off with a smattering of toasted sliced almonds. They’ve got tons of texture and flavor, but aren’t overly sweet or cloying. I think they’d be a perfect addition to any brunch or tea menu, though they’re so simple they can be thrown together on a Saturday morning without a second thought.Almond Poppy Seed SconesAlmond Poppy Seed SconesAlmond Poppy Seed SconesAlmond Poppy Seed SconesAlmond Poppy Seed Scones

I’ve made scones with half-and-half and whole milk over the years, but heavy cream is my current go-to. If that sounds intense it’s because it is, but if you’ve tried my Maple Scones and Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini Scones, you know how cream can take things from good to luxurious. In addition to the cream, these scones are made with flour, a little sugar, baking powder, salt, poppy seeds, cold butter, vanilla & almond extracts, and an egg. The dough may feel a little thick when mixed and patted out, but will result in super rich, tender scones.

As with biscuits, pie dough, rough puff pastry and anything else that depends on cold butter for texture and structure, you’ll need to keep these babies cold cold cold so they don’t turn out flat and sad. I like to freeze my scones for 15 minutes after they’re sliced into wedges, then brush them with a little more cream before baking.Almond Poppy Seed Scones

When they emerge, they’ll be craggy and golden and pretty difficult not to tear into while they’re still warm. I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, but I will suggest holding off on eating until your scones have cooled. Not only will this save the roof of your mouth, but it will give you time to stir together a quick glaze and toast some sliced almonds. You know I love a glaze and a garnish.Almond Poppy Seed Scones

Almond Poppy Seed Scones have it all—the looks, the textures, the simplicity, those irresistible little poppy seeds! I made four batches trying to get them right and I’m still hoping for a moment this weekend to make some more. Like I said, I can never get enough scones.Almond Poppy Seed Scones

Almond Poppy Seed Scones
makes 8 scones

Scones:
3/4 cup heavy cream, very cold
1 large egg, cold from the fridge
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes

Glaze & Garnish:
2 1/2-3 tablespoons heavy cream (or 1 tablespoon whole milk)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Make the scones. Meanwhile, place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together heavy cream, egg, vanilla and almond extracts. Refrigerate.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt. Add cold butter. Use a pastry blender or clean fingertips to cut the butter into the flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in heavy cream mixture until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Pat it to 3/4-inch thick circle. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice circle into 8 wedges. Freeze sliced scones for 15 minutes.

Place scones at least 2 inches apart on prepared pan. Brush with more heavy cream. Bake 16-17 minutes, until puffed and golden at the edges. Let scones cool on the pan on a rack for 15 minutes, or until they can be handled.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together cream (or milk), vanilla and almond extracts. Whisk in confectioner’s sugar and salt. If the mixture is too thick, add more cream (or milk) by the teaspoon. Drizzle over scones and finish with toasted sliced almonds.

Scones may be served warm or at room temperature. They are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.Almond Poppy Seed SconesAlmond Poppy Seed SconesAlmond Poppy Seed Scones

Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}

Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}Everyday Cakes are probably my favorite desserts to make and eat. I’m sure I’ve said that about at least one other category of dessert, but I promise it’s true.

Like their name implies, these are cakes that can be made any ol’ day with limited fuss. Theyre single layer, have short ingredient lists and can almost always be adapted to work with whatever you have on hand. They’re the sort of thing you can bake on the fly when you need to let out some stress after work, or want to make a cake on a Saturday afternoon but don’t want to deal with frosting and layering. Even better, they’re the kind of super-classy-but-still-low-maintenance dinner party dessert that will make you look like Ina Garten (hydrangeas optional, but recommended). Their versatility simply cannot be matched.

It will come as no surprise that I have tons of Everyday Cakes in my archives—too many for one post—so this is my spring Everyday Cake round-up. Five cakes that are far more than the sum of their parts. Try out one or two before summer’s here and it’s too hot to bake!Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

My friend, David, introduced me to this Dutch dessert a few years ago and it’s quickly become one of my favorite cakes of all time. With plenty of butter, bits of ginger strewn throughout and a signature golden lid, it might just become your favorite too!

Ginger not your thing? Feel free to leave it out, or make my almond variation.Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}Flourless Almond Cake

The nectarines in this picture won’t be in season for a few more months, but don’t let that stop you from making this dreamy Flourless Almond Cake! It’s perfect for eating with your fingers as a mid-afternoon snack, but it can also be dressed up with berries or chocolate or whatever for post-vaccine get-togethers.Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}Blueberry Torte

A torte is just a low maintenance cake by another name. This one is super easy to make, tender and buttery and chockablock with fresh blueberries.Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}Mango Upside-Down Cake

Pineapple is the reigning queen of upside-down cakes, but I’d like to make a petition for this mango number to be a princess or a duchess or something. The combination of brown sugar cake and fresh mango baked in caramel is absolutely divine.Friday Favorites: Everyday Cakes {Spring Edition}Winning Hearts & Minds Cake

Everyone needs a good flourless chocolate cake recipe in their back pocket. This one is the slightest take on Molly Wizenberg-Choi’s gem of a recipe. I’ve made it approximately a thousand times—I’ve got the recipe memorized—and am still not over the crackly top and dense chocolaty middle. Consider my heart and mind won.

Have you made these or any of my other everyday cakes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Better Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip CookiesYou will never find health food masquerading as dessert on this website, but I freely admit that some of my recipes are more nutritious than others. For instance, these Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies are made with 100% whole wheat flour, so they have more protein and fiber than your average cookie, along with some nutty whole grain flavor. They’re also full of butter, brown sugar and chocolate though, so don’t get it twisted—these are dessert, not a side salad. Nobody comes to this site for the vegetables.Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip CookiesIf you think you’ve seen these on here before, that’s because you have…or a version of them, anyway. I posted Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies back in the winter of 2016. I stand by that recipe, although my personal cookie tastes have changed since then, as has my general baking philosophy.

…can’t believe I just said I had a “baking philosophy.” Oof, that’s pretentious.

But seriously, in the intervening five years I’ve learned a few things about leaveners and flour and cookies in general, and that knowledge and desire for simpler, better home baking has led to a lot of good things. You know, like four dozen soft & chewy Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies.Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip CookiesThe ingredient list for these cookie is similar to the old recipe, but it’s been simplified. There’s less flour, I nixed the cornstarch, shifted the leaveners, and swapped all the white sugar for dark brown.

I’ve also fully eliminated the chill, which I rarely do in cookie recipes. Chilling cookie dough helps to produce thicker, puffier cookies, but these bake up nice and soft without any break in the action. If you want a slightly thicker cookie, or need to take a pause between mixing and baking, feel free to chill the dough for an hour or two before baking them off. For me though, these crisp-edged, soft-centered whole grain cookies are perfect without any lag time.Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip CookiesFor those of you wondering if whole wheat flour makes these taste healthy, it’s a resounding “no” because they’re not any less indulgent than the chocolate chip cookies you’ve eaten your whole life. The whole wheat flavor is absolutely there, but so is all that caramelly brown sugar, butter and chocolate. The whole wheat simply adds a subtle toastiness that amplifies the classic flavor we all love.

So, yeah. Health food, these are not. But delicious? You bet.Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 4 dozen cookies

2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

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

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in dark brown sugar, followed by eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating until completely combined. Mix in chocolate chips.

Scoop dough in 1 1/2 tablespoon increments (I used a medium cookie scoop) and roll into balls, setting them two inches apart on the prepared pans. Bake 10-11 minutes until they look just slightly underdone. Let cool on the sheet pans for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Cookies will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.