I found these almond based chocolate cookies in a book I enjoyed very much this summer. Gesine Bullock -Prado’s My Life from Scratch. Formerly known as Confessions of a Closet Master Baker, I wondered if the mass public just couldn’t take this woman’s fabulous sense of humor. It went from the first title in 2009 to the second in 2010. Maybe the title just needed to be shorter. Hmmmm… It’s her story of going from the stress of LA limelight to rural Vermont. It will be most appreciated by those who love to bake.
Her website design is cool, she’s hilarious, quirky, beautiful and an amazing baker. I’ve watched all her videos too. She has farm animals and a gorgeous house in Vermont. No life is without stress, decisions and complications and I’m too old to idolize but well, I just think I would like her.
Back to Frog Song Farm….We moved from our octagonal gnome cabin back into our house and we’re happy campers. Love my kitchen and stove and just a little more privacy than the interior doorless cabin. What I never realized in the past (before I understood the importance of natural light and manual photography) is that the kitchen is tucked in on the northeast corner of the house. Now one might ask why is it that I never understood that? Well I just never had to consider it. It’s artificially very well lit and there is morning sun that streams through the windows into the combined kitchen dining room. But is it sufficient for photos? Not really. This will be a new challenge so bare with me.
Moving on…I really wanted to bake these cookies but by 3pm the house was already pretty dark without lights, looming clouds not helping. I mentioned my love for our kitchen, but even the bits of natural light this time of year are basically non-existent. So you can imagine me trying to figure out where the hell to take pictures. I may have to resort to some artificial lighting on these dark winter days. If I wait for sunlight around here it could be even longer between posts- like weeks or months. I basically dragged my mixer out to the front porch and with the right settings could get something. Here’s my cat going what the F are you doing?
Here’s how it goes…I’ve wanted to make these starry starry nights from Gesine’s (G like ‘get’) book since summer. And I’ve wanted to add ginger. I did some research also on crinkle cookies or crackle cookies and may have a go at those too but these starry starry nights will also satisfy my gluten free friends. Even better.
Please find the recipe here at Epicurious. What I did alter was the amount of salt. After making one batch, I only used 1/4 tsp of salt the second round. And I used 1 full TB of Valrhona cocoa powder. I added about 1/4 tsp of ground ginger, 1/2 cup of chopped candied ginger and a handful of chocolate chips for a little somethin somethin. I doubled the recipe the second time and made loads of bite size cookies for the artisan’s faire this weekend. Anyone who is reading this and ate them… that batch was not dragged around inside and out in search of photo ops!
Start by melting the chocolate and butter. Next make the almond powder/flour with almonds and powdered sugar. I used slivered almonds on hand. It’s never as fine as what you buy packaged. I’ve never tried to use home made almond powder for macarons and would like to hear from those who have. Whenever I was in Paris, it wasn’t Hermes coming home in my bags but Marguerite almond powder and kilos of Valrhona feves in milk, 61% and 70%! I did just learn about two minutes ago that you can order Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour on amazon (I confess to “one-click”). Hopefully it hasn’t been sitting in the warehouse too long as Bob’s website is out of stock. I’ll let you know how I like it. A good source for larger quantities of high quality chocolate such as Valrhona is a company in Portland, OR called Chocosphere.
Next whip up your eggs and sugar till ribbon like…
I took my chocolate back outside to take photos of “folding” in the ribboned egg mix.
Well after about ninety seconds my chocolate/butter started hardening about as fast … ok I’m not going there. Too easy. It was too firm to fold or mix anything into it. I had to take it back in and hold it over my simmering turkey soup to warm it up and then throw it back in the mixer for a little man-handling and I added some chopped candied ginger and a few chocolate chips. So much for gentle folding.
But it was still good…and we went back outside, me, the cat and the chocolate, to take a photo.
Once mixed it was in the freezer to officially get firm in order to make little dough balls. After about an hour, I made bite size cookie balls about the size of a round nickel, rolled them in large sugar crystals and popped them back into the freezer. oh and I tried some powdered sugar but that was useless…but pretty.
And I tried some photos in the living room… on my coffee table with a wood tray for a back drop…
They normally cook at 350° for about 10 minutes. But I only did about 7 minutes because they were so small. And I didn’t take any more pics except with the next two rounds of cookies I made which you will be seeing very soon…mint chocolate crinkles from Martha Stewart and my Betty Crocker salted almond chocolate chip cookies. Starry starry nights, almond based and gluten free are in the middle.
I keep forgetting: Check out this time last year! New Paths at 40 aka Late Bloomers – you can even be the first one to “LIKE” it.
PS – Here’s a little view from the porch…Still a green jungle.