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Who has 12,485 cookbooks?  *raises hand*  THIS GIRL. 

Who uses them?  *crickets*

Oy to the vey, I’m so bad!!  I have a ton of cookbooks and while I find a lot of inspiration in them, I rarely crack one open to try a new recipe.  I go to the cracked out, ratings ridden internets.  Yack!  Where’s the charm?!  The romance?! What happened to those books you found in the days of yore? 

A dusty old book you’d find at a flea market or garage sale… and a promise to yourself to start cooking authentic Chinese cuisine.  (Ha! The book doesn’t have pictures, who are we kidding). 

Or the cookbooks your grandmother gave you… Mine never did but here’s hoping you have romantic stories of talking baked goods with grandma.  Mine watched a lot of golf and Wheel of Fortune.  “Bogey, bogey, par, par, son…”  is all I can say about that. 

And then what about those special treat brand new cookbooks with the hardcovers you purchased just for you?  Like Liz buying a lace teddy just for her in Eat, Pray, Love… you bought this cookbook in some kind of intimate act that no one needed to know about.  You just know that it fulfills YOU.  Those ones are my favorite.  And for the love of God, I’ve got millions!

So here’s my new goal, friends.  To share some recipes out of these amazing cookbooks in hopes that A) in 460 years, I’ll get some of the bang back from my buck- ha!  and B) that I will have learned something new and inspired myself to try new flavors, skill-sets or techniques when developing recipes or C) to just find some more winners for the home collection!

So for this blog, I made some Hazelnut Pistachio Slices out of ‘Payard Cookies,’ by Francois Payard with Anne E. McBride.  I chose this recipe because I had pistachios on hand which never happens and I LOOOOVE pistachios!!! (And hazelnuts?  I see you!!) Also because I thoroughly enjoy little ‘dipper’ cookies.

They’re not only small and cute but ‘dipper cookies’ are a perfect little bite with coffee or tea.  They usually have a nice shelf life which I appreciate so you have something to serve when you have guests or when ‘neighbors call.’  (I’m not sure who has neighbors that ‘call’ anymore but I wish we still lived in that time…oh, the poundcakes and southern accent I would have on hand…)

The great thing about this recipe is that they make about a 100 small cookies, which is awesome!  I thought they would be like buttery shortbread but instead they are more like a nutty biscotti.  I’m cool with this because a good ‘dipper’ has to hold up to some moisture!  I chose to dip mine in bittersweet chocolate because they look even more adorable and I love chocolate dipped anything.  Yay!

Then I tried to find some good light in this incredibly dark house we rent- ha!  I find the washer works best.  Ya gotta do what you gotta do… 😉

 

Anyway, give this recipe a try and be sure to share it with your friends!  And if you like what you’re reading, be sure to subscribe to the blog and follow the fun over on instagram:  @mandicrocker and @mandicrockersweets.  Happy Baking, neighbors!

 

Hazelnut Pistachio Slices
Yields 100
A crunchy almost biscotti-like sliced cookie filled with pistachios and hazelnuts. The perfect 'dipper' for coffee or tea!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 c. minus 2 T flour (250 grams)
  2. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 4 1/2 T butter, room temp (65 grams)
  5. 3/4 c. light brown sugar (150 grams)
  6. 3 T water
  7. 2/3 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped (90 grams)
  8. 1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped (30 grams)
  9. grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  10. 1 c. bittersweet or milk chocolate chips, melted for dipping (optional)
  11. 1/4 c. ground nuts for decorating (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl sift flour, baking soda and salt
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, brown sugar and water, whisking until everything is melted and slightly hot.
  3. Pour the melted mixture over the dry ingredients
  4. Stir in nuts and zest, mixing completely. Let cool to room temp.
  5. Roll the dough out into a 1 inch thick square. Height and width should be about 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours (or preferably overnight)
  6. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  7. Take out dough and cut into one inch strips.
  8. Cut each strip into 20 slices. (They will be small and fairly thin).
  9. Pop them into the freezer (if you can) for another 15 minutes to firm up again.
  10. Bake for about ten minutes, or until bottoms turn a light brown.
  11. Let cool completely and you can keep them in air tight container for two weeks.
  12. **If you want to dip in chocolate, microwave chips in 30 second intervals in a small microwave safe bowl until smooth. Dip at a horizontal, brush remainder of chocolate of the side of the cookie and place on parchment paper. Sprinkle with ground nuts. Allow to set completely.
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/
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I grew up in a small town in upstate New York.  It is a quaint little place when the economy is good, but aside from my most favorite ‘grinder’ sandwiches from our local Italian restaurant, you could hardly call it a ‘culinary draw’ to any real food enthusiast.  In my youth, we grew up on chicken tenders and frozen pizza from the Schwann Man, and pretty much streamlined Diet Coke and sugar drinks.

I started baking because of my sisters.  They would always bake for their boyfriends, and like the perfect kid sister, I would annoy them until they let me help.  Needless to say, we didn’t have cookbooks from any culinary greats.  There was no internet for research or Amazon to check reviews.  Instead, we had Betty Crocker cookie collections that my mom probably got from my grandmother.  

Any chance I got, I poured through them.  Any ‘candy making’ pamphlet I came across, I saved.  Even as a kid, I didn’t just want to make cookies for fun.  I wanted to produce cookies, candies and cakes. I wanted them to be bakery quality and I couldn’t wrap my brain around the who/what/when/where/why to make that happen.

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I’m also my father’s daughter, a total people pleaser.  So when I packaged my first set of cookies for a friend and they loved the gesture, it became a global crusade to get EVERYONE cookies.  It became a personal tradition, the night of Thanksgiving, that I would go to the 24 hour grocery store and load up on $200 worth of baking ingredients.  I would bake all through the weekend and ship out boxes to loved ones that Monday morning. It became an obsession. Why make one person’s day when you can make the day of 15 friends!? 30 friends!?  A college campus of friends!?After college it escalated further. One Christmas, I worked in a call center at our local phone company and brought in ginormous cookie platters enough to feed 200 people!  NUTS. 

When I moved to LA for acting and comedy after college, I would always bring treats to class. One cookie in particular was a hit with everyone, but especially my friend Jacole. It came from one of these old school books that was actually called The Favorite Brand Name Cookie Collection.  These cookies were called Peanut Butter Secrets.  MAGICAL.  

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Why were they special?  Why were they a secret??? Because not only were they a peanut butter cookie with chocolate on top… but they had peanut butter cups INSIDE!!!  I KNOW!!!

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Well, the initial recipe called for Butter Flavor Crisco and we already know how I feel about man made or chemical products in baking.  So I updated it and made a more ‘from scratch’ and dare I say, a bit more ‘gourmet’ version.  It’s one of my all time favorite cookies!  

Tip:  I use an ice cream or cookie scoop to get out the dough. Then I push a peanut butter cup into the scoop and cover the rest with what has squished out.  Much faster.  🙂

 

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CHOCOLATE!  PEANUT BUTTER!  SEA SALT!  I think the secret to these adapted cookies was in finding a decent peanut butter cookie recipe and using quality peanut butter cups. The sprinkle of salt, doesn’t hurt either. 😉

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Anyway, for my JacoleyPoo, my honey and for countless other lovers of peanut butter and chocolate… This one’s for you. xoxo

Mandi

 

INGREDIENTS:

For Cookies:

1 c. butter

1 c. dark brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 c. peanut butter 

2 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 c. flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

36-44 high quality peanut butter cups

1/2 c. salted nuts, chopped  (for sprinkling)

1 T sea salt flakes (for sprinkling)

For ganache:

3/4 c. heavy cream

1- 11 oz. package of bittersweet chocolate chips

1 T honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

DIRECTIONS:

For cookies:

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

With a mixer, beat together butter and both sugars.

Add eggs and vanilla.  

Add peanut butter.  Beat well.

Add dry ingredients.

When mixed thoroughly, scoop out a tablespoon of dough and wrap around each peanut butter cup.

Place on baking tray with parchment and bake for 8-12 minutes.  (These cookies continue to bake and set on the tray, so as soon as you see a whiff of brown on top, take them out immediately.  Or even a little bit sooner!)

To make ganache:

On medium heat, scald the cream in a small saucepan. Add the chips and let sit for five minutes.  Whisk together.  (If there are any lumps still in the chocolate, turn the saucepan on low and whisk continuously until the mixture is smooth). 

Stir in honey and allow to cool 15 minutes.

FOR ASSEMBLY:

Frost each cookie with ganache by dipping tops in chocolate or using a spatula.  Sprinkle with chopped nuts and sea salt.  

TIPS:

*If you can’t find dark brown sugar, you can use a cup of light brown sugar and 2 T of molasses.

*I use Skippy or Jiff peanut butter.  Organic Trade Joe’s ‘almond butter’ style peanut butter cannot be substituted in recipes.

*I use Ghirardelli bittersweet chips and LOVE Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.

*If you can’t find specialty peanut butter cups, Reeses are fine, too!