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Love Thy Neighbor: The Slightly Voyeuristic Photographs of Gail Albert Halaban

Gail Albert Halaban: Paris ViewsAdmit it: There's a little bit of voyeur in everybody.

For photographer Gail Albert Halaban, there might be a little bit more. In 2012, she published Out My Window, a collection of images that peered into the apartments--and the lives--of her fellow New Yorkers; although staged, her photographs presented intense, personal depictions of city dwellers and the tension between private life and urban existence. They're also beautiful documents of the high-density architecture of the the City That Never Sleeps.

Paris Views takes the project across the Atlantic to the City of Light. Using the same techniques, Halaban has created another volume of photographs demanding compulsive scrutiny. Some of the buildings may be older, but people are fascinating wherever you go.

Enjoy these images from Paris Views, a comment on the work from Halaban herself, and short video on the book below. For closer examination, click through for larger versions of the photographs.

 


Gail Albert Halaban on Photographing Her Neighbors

I like to look into my neighbors’ windows. At first, I know it sounds kind of creepy.

Many people may even think it is illegal, but when you see my photographs of Paris, you will see that I am a friendly window watcher.

In 2009 I made a series of photographs in NYC (published in a book called Out My Window) , and this book is a continuation of that series but now set in Paris.

The work is inspired by the sleepless nights I had as a young mother. I held my baby at the window in the middle of the night searching the windows for connection to break the solitude.

I am not the only one who looks into windows. As Baudelaire tells us in his poem “Windows”:What we can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting that what we can perceive taking place behind the pane of window-glass. In that pit, in that blackness or brightness, life is being lived, life is suffering, life is dreaming.

For me the windows are fragile borders between the familiar and unknown. They are cinematic stages where intimate domestic scenes unfold. The urban experience so often thought to breed loneliness is the focus of my work, to share my realization that even alone we never need to be lonely.

I photograph from one residence to another with the consent of both parties. The process of making the photographs connects neighbor to neighbor creating community against the loneliness and overpowering scale of the city. Though the photographs initially seem voyeuristic in approach they are really about my desire to connect with my subjects and their desire to connect with their neighbors.

The city demands that we trade off privacy and loneliness for community that once joined surrounds us always.

This book will inspire you to connect with your neighbors.

 


Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views

Gail Albert Halaban, Rue de Belleville, 20th arrondissement, Paris, from Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views (Aperture, 2014)

 

Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views

Gail Albert Halaban, Rue Jouye-Rouve, 20th arrondissement, Paris, from Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views (Aperture, 2014)

 

Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views

Gail Albert Halaban, Rue de Douai, 9th arrondissement, Paris, from Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views (Aperture, 2014)

 

Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views

Gail Albert Halaban, Villa Santos-Dumont, 15th arrondissement, Paris, from Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views (Aperture, 2014)

 

Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views

Gail Albert Halaban, Quai Anatole-France, 7th arrondissement, Paris, from Gail Albert Halaban: Paris Views (Aperture, 2014)

 

All photographs © Gail Albert Halaban, courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery

 

Gail Albert Halaban - Paris Views from Boaz Halaban on Vimeo.

12 Days of Cookie Recipes: Danielle Walker's Gluten-Free Peppermint Chocolate Macaroons

I imagine that these days nearly all of us know someone who is gluten-free, dairy-free, or both, and coming up with a holiday cookie for them might seem challenging.  Not so for Danielle Walker, a self taught cook who has brought the experience and expertise she's cultivated following her own autoimmune diagnosis to thousands of others looking for grain-free, dairy-free, and paleo recipes that don't sacrifice taste.  Case in point, Walker's favorite holiday cookie recipe below.

Reminiscent of a Peppermint Mocha beverage, these holiday cookies come together easily and are always a crowd pleaser. Stack a few up and wrap them in some cellophane tied with a ribbon for the perfect gift this holiday season! -- Danielle Walker


Peppermint Chocolate Macaroons
SERVES: 2 dozen

Mint_Chocolate_Macaroons_DanielleWalkerIngredients:

  • 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup cacao powder
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg white
  • dash of sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using an electric mixer, beat the egg white with a small pinch of salt. Beat for 1-2 minutes until soft peaks form when you lift the mixer out.
  4. Fold the egg white into the coconut mixture and mix gently until fully combined.
  5. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, scoop out balls of dough and pack them together tightly either by lightly knocking the scoop onto the side of the bowl or pushing it down with your fingers.
  6. Place the dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the tray half way through.
  7. Cool on a wire cooling rack for 1 hour. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
  8. Optional – dip the bottoms of the macaroons in melted dark chocolate mixed with ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract for an even more decadent treat!

 


 Danielle Walker's most recent cookbook is Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime,  one of our editors' picks for the the Best Cookbooks of 2014.

AgainstGrainCoverDanielleWalkerIn case you missed it, here are our previous 12 Days of Cookies posts:

 

12 Days of Cookie Recipes: Giada De Laurentiis' Double Chocolate and Espresso Cookie

Whenever I watch Giada De Laurentiis on her Food Network show, Giada at Home, I want to make everything I've seen in the past 30 minutes.  She has a way of making great food look easy and when she tells you how delicious something is--especially the desserts--you know it's true.  Her relaxed style and care with ingredients comes across in her cookbooks, too.  In Weeknights with Giada espresso and chocolate are the foundation for the gorgeous cookie recipe below--who wouldn't want these on a holiday cookie tray!?

This cookie is a holiday favorite of mine because it combines two of my all-time loves: chocolate and espresso. It’s actually a quadruple dose of chocolate with the cocoa powder, melted chocolate, the chocolate-covered espresso beans, and the chocolate chips. Pure decadence. --Giada De Laurentiis


double chocolate and espresso cookies
makes 10 to 12 (3-inch) cookiesDoubleChocolateEspressoCookies_Giada

  •  1/3 cup dark chocolate–covered espresso beans
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, such as Ghirardelli, chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, such as Nestlé Toll House


Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

In the bowl of a food processor, finely chop the chocolate-covered espresso beans. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chopped espresso beans, the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
WeeknightsGiada
Put the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium power (50%) for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Stir and microwave on medium power (50%) for 1 minute. Stir until the chocolate is fully melted and smooth; the mixture will be thick.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, 2 tablespoons water, and the vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients and stir until thick and smooth. Fold in the melted chocolate. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Using a cookie or ice cream scoop, scoop level ¼-cup balls of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until slightly puffed and the tops begin to crack. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets.

 


GiadaGiada De Laurentiis is the author of several cookbooks including Weeknights with Giada, where you'll find the recipe above.  Her most recent book is Giada's Feel Good Food

 

In case you missed it, here are our previous 12 Days of Cookies posts:

12 Days of Cookie Recipes: America's Test Kitchen's Pecan Bars

The America's Test Kitchen goes to all the trouble to search out--and of course, test--the best kitchen equipment and recipes so that the rest of us don't have to.  We wanted to know what their holiday cookie of choice would be and it includes two of my favorite winter baking ingredients--pecans and rum.  Check out the recipe below, you can find it, along with 927 (give or take) other pages of goodness, in their latest cookbook, The America's Test Kitchen New Family Cookbook.

A rich pecan shortbread crust is topped with a not-too-sweet pecan filling flavored with bourbon and vanilla. A dash of salt adds savory notes to these bars that hold up well for a week--but they won't last that long.--The Test Kitchen Team at America's Test Kitchen


Pecan Bars
Makes 16 squares  Total time 1 hour 15 minutes (plus cooling time)

ATK_PecanBars

why this recipe works: We wanted the best qualities of pecan pie—buttery crust, gooey filling, and nutty topping—packed into bite-size squares.

Starting from the bottom up, we made a substantial shortbread crust, with chopped toasted pecans for flavor and tenderness.

Since the ratio of filling to crust is proportionately less in bars than pie, our filling needed to be intensely flavored. To boost the flavor, we added vanilla as well as a hint of bourbon (dark rum works, too) to cut through the sweetness. A half-teaspoon of salt sharpened the sweetness and intensified the pecan flavor.

As for the pecans, while halves look attractive, they made the bars difficult to cut. Coarsely chopped pecans were much easier to handle, and to eat.

Crust

  •    1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  •    1/3  cup packed (21/3 ounces) light brown sugar
  •     1/4     cup pecans, toasted and chopped coarse
  •     1  teaspoon salt
  •     1/4  teaspoon baking powder
  •     6   tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled

Filling

  •     1/2 cup packed (31/2 ounces) light brown sugar
  •     1/3  cup light corn syrup
  •     4  tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  •     1  tablespoon bourbon or dark rum
  •     2  teaspoons vanilla extract
  •     1/2  teaspoon salt
  •     1  large egg, lightly beaten
  •     1 3/4 cups pecans, toasted and chopped coarseATK_cover


1. For the crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Make foil sling for 8‑inch square baking pan by folding 2 long sheets of aluminum foil so each is 8 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges of pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan, and grease foil.


2. Process flour, sugar, pecans, salt, and baking powder in food processor until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 5 pulses. Sprinkle butter over top and pulse until mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, about 8 pulses.


3. Sprinkle mixture into prepared pan and press firmly into even layer using your fingers. Bake until crust starts to brown, 20 to 24 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.


4. For the filling: As soon as crust finishes baking, whisk sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, bourbon, vanilla, and salt together in bowl until just combined. Whisk in egg until incorporated. Pour mixture over hot crust and sprinkle with pecans. Bake until top is brown and cracks start to form across surface, 25 to 30 minutes.


5. Let bars cool completely, about 2 hours. Using foil overhang, lift bars from pan. Cut into squares and serve.


In case you missed it, here are our previous 12 Days of Cookies posts:

 

12 Days of Cookie Recipes: Ree Drummond's Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies

Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman we've come to know and love on television and in print, hosts our Day 4 cookie from her latest book: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays.  I believe it when she says these are habit-forming--makes sure you set aside a little stack for yourself if you are taking these to friends.  See why these are Drummond's favorites and get the recipe below.  You can also find links to the last three days of cookie recipes at the bottom of the post.

A lot of times, cookies that are beautiful aren’t always tasty. But these are as delicious as they are gorgeous: deep chocolate cookies adorned with white chocolate and crushed peppermints. They always dress up any Christmas cookie platter, and they’re definitely habit-forming!--Ree Drummond


CHOCOLATE CANDY CANE COOKIES
MAKES 32 COOKIES
ReeDrummondChocolateCandyCaneCookies
When I make these delicious delights at Christmastime, I commit the cardinal sin of gluttony. Repeatedly. Until they’re all gone and I’m staring at an empty platter.


But wait! Before you condemn me to whatever wretched place people who commit one of the deadly sins at Christmastime go (that made no grammatical sense), please hear me out. I have a really good excuse!
They are really, really yummy.
I mean it. There’s something about the slightly soft chocolate cookie, coated with white chocolate and dipped in crushed mints. One is never enough. Ten is never enough. How many does this recipe make again? Thirty‑two? Well okay, then. Thirty‑two isn’t enough either!
But then again, I might have issues.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Large handfuls of both red and green peppermints
  • 4 ounces (4 squares) almond bark or white baking chocolate


1. Add the butter and powdered sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat them together until the mixture is nice and smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla.


2. Add the cocoa powder, flour, and salt and mix just until the dough comes together. Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the dough and refrigerate it for a couple of hours.


3. While the dough is chilling away, unwrap the candies and place them in separate plastic bags. Grab a rolling pin and release your rage upon the mints. You want to crush them! You want to obliterate them! Just think of all the ways they’ve wronged you! Place the crushed mints in separate bowls and set them aside.


4. When the dough is finished chilling, preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll the dough into balls, place the balls on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or baking mats, and flatten them slightly with the bottom of a coffee mug or glass. Bake the cookies for 7 to 9 minutes, or until just set. Remove them from the oven and let them cool completely.


5. While the cookies cool, melt the almond bark in a double boiler or a microwave‑safe bowl. Stir until smooth.


6. One at a time, dip the cookies halfway into the melted almond bark and sprinkle the top side generously with crushed mints, holding the cookies over the bowls to catch the excess. You can mix red and green on the same cookie, or you can do some cookies with just red and some with just green. No one can make that decision but you.


7. Lay the cookies, sprinkled side up, on parchment paper or a baking mat and allow them to set completely. Serve them with a few whole mints on the side. You’ll absolutely love these.

NOTE: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days before delivering, or in the freezer in storage bags for up to 3 months.

Variations
• Dip in Christmas-colored sprinkles instead of peppermints.
• Use different colors of candy melts (red, green, etc.) instead of white.
• Roll out the cookies and cut candy cane-shaped cookies. Dip half the cookies and coat in candy.


Ree Drummond is the author of several Pioneer Woman cookbooks including her latest, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays: 140 Step-by-Step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations as well as a series of children's books featuring a ranch dog named Charlie.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31U1KlFt2DL._UX250_.jpghttp://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51VinpxwH-L._UY250_.jpg

Here are our previous 12 Days of Cookies posts:

Post-Photography: Re-Imagining Reality

ALTTEXTFrom Stalin's vanishing commisars to airbrushed supermodels, photographers have been manipulating our perception of of reality--and even our ability to discern the actual from the virtual--as long as they've been taking pictures. The internet and rapidly evolving digital tools have blown the game wide open, offering techniques to anyone with a few bucks and a wild imagination, i.e. artists. With Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera, Robert Shore has collected dozens of examples of photographs that  challenge our notions of what photography is, and what it can be. As it turns out, not everything has already been done.

Enjoy these images and descriptions from the book.

 

 

 

 


Post-Photography (image 1)

p. 27 Joachim Schmid
There’s an argument that there are already quite enough images in the world – why create more? Joachim Schmid quickly gave up using a camera in his art practice and instead took to adopting photographic ‘orphans’ found on market stalls or simply discarded in the street. The red of the actress’s lips and nails was added by the previous owner of the magazine containing these Hollywood stills.

Post-Photography (image 2)

p. 70 (top) Clement Valla
The highways and bridges appear to be melting in Clement Valla’s internet-sourced images. Valla doesn’t manipulate his material: a glitch in combining different information models results in these uncanny effects. The web is full of such eerie, unintentional distortions – you just have to know where to look.

Post-Photography (image 3)

p. 127 Christy Lee Rogers
Hawaiian photographer Christy Lee Rogers takes her camera under water to create beautifully lit and richly sensual tableaux that are reminiscent of the greatest canvases of the Baroque era.

Post-Photography (image 4)

p. 139 (top) Scarlett Hooft Graafland
There’s almost nothing you can’t do, no image you can’t conjure, with a little help from Photoshop nowadays. But you can’t fake the kind of surreal shots that Dutch artist Scarlett Hooft Graafland travels the globe to secure.

Post-Photography (image 5)

p. 176 Jorma Puranen
It’s one of the basic tenets of ‘good’ photography that you must at all costs avoid surface glare. However, Finnish master Jorma Puranen expertly exploits the emotional and temporal resonance of reflected light by creating a kind of veil between the historical painted portrait and the viewer in this hauting image.

Post-Photography (image 6)

p. 251 Richard Mosse
Traditional photojournalism is reinventing itself in the work of the likes of Richard Mosse, who used an infrared Kodak film stock to create an unforgettable portrait of war-torn Congo.

12 Days of Cookie Recipes: Rose Levy Beranbaum's Ischler Cookie

Day 2 of our 12 Days of Cookie Recipes is from a maven of baking, Rose Levy Beranbaum, a woman who wrote the book on Christmas cookies--literally.   

At the end of October, Beranbaum released her latest cookbook, The Baking Bible and it's in those pages that her favorite cookie can be found.  Below is a note from Rose Levy Beranbaum about what makes this the cookie above all others for her, followed by the recipe.   Come see us tomorrow for the next cookie to try. 


IschlerCookies_RoseLevyBeranbaumI first heard of the Ischler when I learned to make strudel at the Zauner bakery in the town of Bad Ischle where the cookie originated. I also learned of the story of emperor Franz Joseph and how he claimed to be visiting this bakery while instead clandestinely rendezvousing with his mistress nearby.

I researched different versions of the cookie in cookbooks and on line and came up with my own version. Rather than dipping the apricot-sandwiched cookies in chocolate the way all the other versions do, I spread a thin layer of it over the apricot filling so that one would have the crisp fragile almond cookie, the tang of apricot, and the bittersweet chocolate with every bite.  I also love that the Ischler speaks to my Austro-Hungarian heritage. My great great grandfather, Adolf Lansman, fought in Franz Joseph's army. He later came to America and brought the now ubiquitous Heckel's and Wusthof knives to this country. He taught my father the art of knife sharpening and my father passed this valuable skill onto me. -- Rose Levy Beranbaum

 

The Ischler
Makes Forty 2. inch sandwich cookies
Oven Temperature 350°F/175°C
Baking Time 6 to 10 minutes for each of four batches

This Austrian cookie ranks as one of the finest of all time. It was created in the wonderful Zauner Bakery in the spa town of Bad Ischl, which was said to be the favorite vacation spot for Emperor Franz Joseph. The classic method is to sandwich the fragile, thin almond cookies with apricot lekvar or preserves and then to dip the cookies halfway into melted chocolate.

Because I am one-quarter Austro-Hungarian (my great grandfather fought in Franz Joseph’s army), I feel I am qualified to adapt the recipe slightly by spreading the melted chocolate onto the entire inside of the cookies so that I have the glorious taste of apricot and chocolate with every bite.

Special Equipment:
Two 15 by 12 inch cookie sheets, nonstick or lined with parchment
A 2 ½  inch scalloped or plain round or heart-shape cookie cutter

Cookie Dough
VOLUME   /  WEIGHT

  • unsalted butter, cold 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) /  8 ounces  / 227 grams
  • powdered sugar 1 cup (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) plus 2 tablespoons /4.7 ounces / 132 grams
  • sliced almonds, preferably unblanched / 2 cups/  7 ounces /  200 grams
  • about ½ large egg, lightly beaten / 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (20 ml) /0.7 ounce / 21 grams
  • pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon (5 ml) / . .
  • bleached all-purpose flour 1 ¾ cups (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) plus 1 tablespoon /7.8 ounces / 220 grams
  • fine sea salt ¼ teaspoon / 1.5 grams


Make the Dough
Food Processor Method:
Cut the butter into ½ inch cubes and let the cubes soften slightly while measuring out the remaining ingredients. The butter should be cool but soft enough to press flat (60° to 70°F/15°to 21°C).

Process the powdered sugar and almonds until the almonds are very fine. Add the butter and process until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and process until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add it to the processor and pulse just until incorporated. The mixture will be in moist and crumbly particles and hold together if pinched.

Stand Mixer Method:
Soften the butter to 65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C.

Using a nut grater, grate the almonds until very fine.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, cream the almonds, powdered sugar, and butter, starting on low speed and gradually increasing the speed to medium, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until blended.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.

On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until incorporated and the dough just begins to come away from the sides of the bowl.

Chill the Dough: Scrape the mixture into a plastic bag and, using your knuckles and the heels of your hands, press it together. Transfer the dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap and use the wrap to press down on the dough, kneading it until it is smooth.

Divide the dough into quarters, about 6.9 ounces/195 grams each. Wrap each piece loosely with plastic wrap and press to flatten into discs. Rewrap tightly and place in a gallon-size reclosable freezer bag. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours or up to 2 days to firm and give the dough a chance to absorb the moisture evenly, which will make rolling easier.

Preheat the Oven: Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Roll and Cut the Cookies: Remove a dough disc from the refrigerator and set it on a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the dough and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough soften for about 10 minutes, or until it is malleable enough to roll. Roll the dough ⅛ inch thick, moving it from time to time and adding more flour if necessary to keep it from sticking.

Cut out twenty 2 ¼ inch cookies. Set them a minimum of ½ inch apart on a cookie sheet.
Set aside any scraps, covered with plastic wrap, to knead together with the scraps from the next three batches.

Bake the Cookies: Bake for 4 minutes. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheet halfway around. Continue baking for 2 to 6 minutes, or just until they begin to brown at the edges.

Cool the Cookies: Set the cookie sheet on a wire rack and let the cookies cool for about
1 minute so that they will be firm enough to transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Use
a pancake turner to lift the cookies onto another wire rack. Cool completely.
While each batch of cookies is baking, remove the next dough disc to soften before rolling
and then roll the dough for the next batch. After the last batch is cut, if desired, knead
together all of the scraps and repeat chilling, rerolling, and cutting.

Super Firm Chocolate Ganache Filling:
Makes 1⅓ cups/10 ounces/285 grams
VOLUME/  WEIGHT

  • bittersweet chocolate, 60% to 62% cacao, chopped / . /  8 ounces /  227 grams
  • heavy cream, hot /  ¼ cup (59 ml) / 2 ounces / 58 grams

Make the Ganache Filling In a microwavable bowl, stirring with a silicone spatula every 15 seconds (or in the top of a double boiler set over hot, not simmering, water, stirring often—do not let the bottom of the container touch the water), heat the chocolate until almost completely melted.

Remove the chocolate from the heat source and stir until fully melted.

Pour the cream on top of the chocolate and stir until smooth. The mixture should drop thickly from the spatula. Set it aside in a warm place. If the ganache thickens before all of it is used, it can be restored in the microwave with 3 second bursts or in a double boiler set over hot or simmering water.

Apricot Lekvar Filling:
Makes 2. cups/651 ml/29.6 ounces/840 grams
volume / WEIGHT

  • dried apricots / 2⅔ cups / 1 pound / 454 grams
  • water / 2 cups (473 ml) / 16.7 ounces / 473 grams
  • granulated sugar / 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons /  8 ounces / 225 grams
  • lemon zest, finely grated / 2 teaspoons, loosely packed/  ./  4 grams
  • apricot or peach brandy / 1 teaspoon (5 ml)/ . .

Make the Lekvar Filling In a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, combine the dried apricots and water and let them sit for 2 hours to soften.

Bring the water to a boil, cover the pan tightly, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes on the lowest possible heat until the apricots are very soft when pierced with a skewer. If the water evaporates, add a little extra.

In a food processor, process the apricots and any remaining liquid, the sugar, lemon zest, and brandy until smooth.

Scrape the apricot mixture back into the saucepan and simmer, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until deep orange in color and very thick. When lifted, a tablespoon of the mixture will take about 3 seconds to fall from the spoon.

Transfer the lekvar to a bowl and let it cool completely. You will need only about ⅔ cup/ 158 ml/ 7 ounces/202 grams, but it keeps just about indefinitely refrigerated. Making a smaller amount risks scorching the lekvar. Lekvar made from dried apricots is the most delicious and concentrated, but the apricot glaze that follows makes a viable alternative.

Fill the Cookies:
Using a small offset spatula or butter knife, spread the bottoms of half of the cookies, up to ⅛ inch from the edge, with a very thin layer of the apricot filling (about ½  tablespoon /3.7 ml). Spread the bottoms of the remaining cookies with a slightly thicker layer of the ganache (about . tablespoon/6 grams). Set the chocolate coated cookies, coated side down, on the apricot coated cookies. Let them sit for a minimum of 30 minutes for the ganache to set completely.

Store Airtight: room temperature, 5 days; frozen, 6 months.


Rose Levy Beranbaum is the author of several cookbooks, including her most recent, The Baking Bible, one of our Best Cookbooks of 2014.

In case you missed it, Day 1 of 12 Days of Cookie Recipes is the  Eggnog Sandwich Cookie from Ovenly bakery

BakingBibleRose Levy Beranbaum

12 Days of Cookie Recipes: Ovenly's Eggnog Sandwich Cookie

Now that Thanksgiving is over, holiday baking will soon be upon us.  I love the tradition of making cookies, the more the merrier, and sharing them with friends.  With this baking bonanza in mind, we decided to gather 12 days of cookie recipes and today is Day 1.  We're starting off with a cookie that just says "holiday"--Ovenly bakery's Eggnog Sandwich Cookie.  Check back on Omni over the next 12 days for recipes from folks like Ina Garten, Ree Drummond, Giada De Laurentiis, Gina Homolka, and more.  Now on to our first cookie: 

Ovenly is an award-winning bakery in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and they recently created their first cookbook, Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York's Most Creative Bakery.   

OvenlyCover

OvenlyBakery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is in this delicious tome that the Eggnog Sandwich Cookie and I first crossed paths, and Erin Patinkin and Agatha Kulaga were kind enough to share the recipe:

 


EGGNOG SANDWICH COOKIES

Yield: approximately 30 cookies (depending on cookie cutter size)

EggnogSandwichII

This sparkly Christmas cookie has become a holiday standard at Ovenly. The rum cream filling combined with cinnamon and nutmeg in the sugar cookie is reminiscent of everyone’s favorite wintertime cocktail.

SUGAR COOKIES:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons rum
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour + more for dusting
  • Sanding sugar, for decorating the cookies

CREAM FILLING:

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • ¼ cup rum
  • ¼ cup heavy cream + more for thinning

DIRECTIONS:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream together the confectioners’ sugar, butter and corn syrup until very fluffy and light in color, about 3 minutes. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, salt and cloves and beat until combined, about 30 seconds more.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and rum, and then stir in the baking powder until it dissolves completely. With the mixer on low, add the egg mixture and mix until barely incorporated. Turn the mixer off and add the flour. With the machine on low, mix until the flour is well incorporated and the dough is smooth, about 1 minute.

3. Divide the dough in half, and form it into 2 disks, each 6 inches in diameter. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until the dough is firm.

4. Line 3 rimmed sheet pans (if you do not have 3, you will have to bake these cookies in batches) with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and sprinkle the dough with extra flour to prevent it from sticking.

5. Roll the dough to a thickness of ¼ inch, lifting it as you roll and flipping it over a few times to prevent it from sticking to the work surface. With a cookie cutter (we usually use a 1½-inch round cutter or a small glass), cut the dough into the desired shape and transfer the cookies to the prepared sheet pans (these cookies do not expand much, so you can bake 20 per pan). Reroll and cut any leftover dough.

6. Place them in the freezer (you can stack the pans in the freezer by placing parchment in between each. If you do not have 3 pans you can stack cookies in single layers, lining parchment in between each layer) for 15 minutes before baking. This will allow the cookies to retain their shape.

7. Sprinkle each cookie with sanding sugar, and bake the cookies pan by pan for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are slightly golden on the edges. Let the cookies cool completely before assembling.

8. While the cookies cool, prepare the cream filling. In a large bowl, whisk all the filling ingredients together thoroughly until a thick, but spreadable paste forms. Thin the filling with cream if it is too dry.

9. Spoon a dollop of the cream filling on the center of a cookie and top it with another cookie, pressing down lightly to ensure that the filling spreads evenly in between but not beyond the cookie edges. Repeat this process until all the cookies are filled.

EggnoggSandwichI EggnogSandwichIII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See more 12 Days of Cookie Recipes posts:

Best Children's Books of 2014

BOTY2014KidsCollageThis year there seemed to be as many great children's books in the first half of the year as the second, great news for all of us book lovers who didn't have to wait until the big fall books to find the gems.  Case in point, The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems--our top pick for 2014 that released in April--is hilarious whether you're 4 or 44. 

Deciding on the top 20 children's books is always difficult, but I won't complain about having so many beloved books to choose from over the course of 2014.  Below is a sampling of the Best Children's Books of 2014, the top five (of a total of 20) across all ages.  You can also see the top 20 for each category:

Top 5 Children's Books of 2014:

1. The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems (ages 3-5): A new book in the beloved Pigeon series, even the flies think the pigeon needs a good scrub.  Hilarity ensues as pigeon does everything he can think of to avoid a bath but when the inevitable happens, the pigeon is pleasantly surprised.

2. The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer Holm (ages 9-12): The clever, funny, and uplifting story of 11-year-old Ellie, who is entering a new chapter of her life when her grumpy scientist grandfather ends up living with them under strange circumstances.  As Ellie discovers new friends and interests, she and her grandfather form a unique bond that results in the gift of possibility for both of them.

3. The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel (ages 9-12): Historical fiction for young readers at it best, The Boundless successfully mixes history, folklore, and imagination into a sweeping adventure story. Will and Maren's paths cross twice around the Boundless, a train of epic proportion.  Though they live very different lives, they are united in the face of the murderers, thieves, and deception aboard the train's inaugural run.  

4. The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (ages 9-12): The final book in the Heroes of Olympus series, Riordan brings his A-game to end the story of these Greek and Roman demigods' battle to save the world from Gaea's destructive force.  Action-packed adventure, witty characters, and suspense make this one a page-turner from beginning to end.

5. Leroy Ninker Saddles Up: Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Volume One by Kate DiCamillo (ages 6-8): Award winner Kate DiCamillo kicks off a new chapter book series with a character readers may remember from one of ther Mercy Watson books, Leroy Ninker.  A sweet and funny story about a would-be cowboy and the horse he loves, this is a great book for reluctant readers and young enthusiasts alike.

You can see all of our favorite chidlren's books of the year here.

Amazon Asks: Patricia Cornwell, on Her New Novel, "Flesh and Blood"

Flesh and Blood is Patricia Cornwell's twenty-second novel featuring forensic sleuth Dr. Kay Scarpetta. This time Scarpetta pursues a sharp-shooting serial sniper, and her investigation leads too close to a family member--her own flesh and blood. Flesh and Blood is an Amazon Best Mystery-Thriller of the Month.

Cornwell

Describe your new book in 10 words?

Cornwell2Scarpetta is unstoppable.

What's on your nightstand/bedside table/Kindle?

My iPhone is loaded with a huge library of Kindle titles that make it easy for me to read while traveling. Some of the latest are Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin, A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and All We Had by Annie Weatherwax.

Top 3-5 favorite books of all time?

Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.

Book that changed your life, or made you want to become a writer?

Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. Books can change the world and fix what is horribly broken.

What are you obsessed with or stressed about now?

The Bermuda Triangle and Jack the Ripper (not stressed, just hugely motivated).

What's your most prized/treasured literary possession?

A book about Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture that was signed by Agatha Christie (which was a gift from her to someone named "Lucy Boo." I sure wish I knew who that was).

Pen Envy -- book you wish you'd written, or character you wish you’d created?

Okay, I admit I wish I'd created Sherlock Holmes.

What's favorite method of procrastination, temptation or vice?

Playing with our bulldog.

What do you collect?

Art by Dr. Seuss and really cool belt buckles.

Best/worst piece of writing advice you ever got?

Best: Don't take no for an answer. Worst: Do something else because you'll never make a living as a writer.

~

> See all of Patricia Cornwell's books

 

Omnivoracious™ Contributors

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