World Peace

Did any of you ever watch the Miss America pageants? I say did because I like to assume that they aren’t watched any more, but I do know that to be untrue. Either way, did or do you? Hand raised, I admit with only an ounce or so of trepidation that I most certainly did watch many a pageant, picking my favorites alongside the judges, and always including Miss North Carolina in the top three, no matter how ugly (or truthfully, how busted, or how fake) she may have been.

At the time I watched those contests, I was much younger and I probably didn’t understand all the answers to the Q&A section (although now that I think of it, the contestants certainly aren’t rocket scientists now, are they?!), but I remember the frequent response to the “What do you want in life” questions being, “I want, like, nothing more than, like, World Peace”.

That’s it?! Without getting political, or even philosophical, let me just say here that that was probably the dumbest answer imaginable, because really – who doesn’t want World Peace? But if you really thought about it, would you say that you think it’s attainable? While I do believe that most “bad” people are inherently good but corrupted by the world around them, I do think that a subset of said “bad” people are just that – bad. Rotten eggs, if you will. So can you have World Peace in a world in which those who are hard-wired to be ‘unpeaceful’ exist? I think not. Just call me Debbie Downer ;).

Of course, we are all entitled to our opinions on the matter, and the great thing about them (opinions) is that we can change them as often as we like. Recently, I saw a recipe for Dorie Greenspan’s ‘World Peace Cookies’ in a Bon Appetit magazine. And let’s be clear – I’m definitely a fan of Dorie. I just gave her newest book to a friend for her (belated) birthday present, and I died a little on the inside when it left my hands. Fortunately, I left it on my Amazon wishlist, so I’ll be grabbing my own copy soon, even if I have to purchase it myself. But seriously, cookies that suggest World Peace? Really, Dorie?

But as it turns out, she might be on to something.

These cookies here are definitely special – cocoa, chocolate chips, and enough butter to make a slip-n’-slide, they are chewy, crumbly, and decadent. Truthfully, all evil thoughts that ever entered my mind disappeared for at least a few hours after eating a couple of ’em. To promote said peaceful existence, I shared the wealth and passed them along to a few who were deserving of such tastiness: a student leaving my rotation (remember? it’s a tradition), another student who is stuck in rehab due to a spinal injury, and a regular reader who just happens to work four floors above me.

The eternal question though – is it the cookies that promote serenity, or the sharing of said cookies? Maybe next time I’ll eat them all by myself, and compare the results…

World Peace Cookies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan via Bon Appetit, September 2010; makes 4-5 dozen

ok, true. this makes a lot of cookies. it’s because i doubled the recipe. why? I was making these for a lot of people, but even if you aren’t, might I suggest making the dough and freezing any unbaked dough until you do want to use it? oh, the joy of slice n’ bake cookies! thanks, Dorie!

as for adjustments, i didn’t change much. I did cut back on a little butter since I didn’t have enough after i doubled the recipe, and I think 2 sticks is fine (doubling would actually mean 2 sticks + 5 more T if you want to add the extra 5 T, go for it!). I also added 4 oz butterscotch chips instead of another 4 oz of chocolate chips, but you do what you want. heck, white choco chips or peanut butter would also be tasty.

printable version

2 1/2 c all purpose flour
2/3 c natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 c (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t fine sea salt
4 oz extra-bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 85% cacao), chopped (no pieces bigger than 1/3 inch)
4 oz butterscotch chips (optional – I like butterscotch, or double the amount of chocolate)

Whisk flour, cocoa, & baking soda together into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth but not fluffy. Add both sugars, vanilla, and sea salt; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended (mixture may be crumbly). Add chopped chocolate & butterscotch chips (if using); mix just to distribute (if dough doesn’t come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball). Divide dough into four pieces. Place each piece on a sheet of plastic wrap. Form each into 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Wrap each in plastic; chill until firm, about 3 hours (I actually froze the dough for an hour b/c I didn’t have 3 hours to chill it. It seemed to work fine that way). You can do this in advance, or as I suggested, you can freeze some of it too! Just keep the dough chilled until you’re ready to use it.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using thin sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), 11 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let firm up a bit, then transfer to rack; cool. Store airtight at room temperature.

Episode VIII: A New Hope

As a child, I remember the simplest grapefruit preparation: my mom would cut a large, juicy, brightly colored grapefruit in half and sprinkle sugar over the exposed segments. She then handed me the grapefruit half, placed in a small bowl with a jagged spoon beside it (aptly called a ‘grapefruit spoon’), and that was that. I gobbled up every little piece of that ruby red citrus in all its’ glory, and I’d squeeze the remaining juice into the bowl and drink it in one large slurp, sorta like the way you drink the milk after downing a bowl of Cookie Crisp or Fruity Pebbles.

That, in a nutshell, is my experience with grapefruit. I find it odd, since I choose citrus fruits any day over berries (well, seed-bearing berries, because I hate having to maneuver around them). Why, I could eat a lemon whole and have eaten them in that fashion since learning how to from my parents’ French spades/hearts comrade, Aurora. I remember thinking she was so cool because she was the only person I knew who drank alcoholic beverages so “neatly” – by eating the entire citrus slice without changing her expression one iota, and not leaving that silly rind behind like unwanted garbage beside the cherry stem.

And no, I’m not eating grapefruit rinds anytime soon – they’re way too thick and tasteless. But, but, I did eat a shit-ton of grapefruit-containing foods! Yes, friends, the eighth installment of the infamous Iron Chef Chicago battles – those monthly (in general) gatherings involving lots of good friends who love to eat. This time, we delved into one of my favorite “eat by itself with sugar” fruits (strawberry being second on that list, which already happened).

And while many associate citrus with summer, grapefruits are now at their peak and are a great escape from all this winter squash and stew, if you’re feeling the need to get away to somewhere warmer but can’t quite make it to the Bahamas right now. Tart and tangy, juicy and sweet, these citrus rounds are loaded with vitamin C and lycopene and go well with all sorts of foods, as you can see from all these lovely dishes.

For one dish, I went for a tried-and-true new favorite of mine and made two different flavors of grapefruit marshmallows (one with cardamom and one with ginger), and then fell upon a recipe for stuffed whole fish with grapefruit vinaigrette and grapefruit butter (served with millet instead of couscous), courtesy of my DVR and Tyler’s Ultimate. We had a couple of drinks, sorbet, various shrimp and scallop dishes, cakes and even lettuce wraps & pizza. It was, as usual, quite a spread.

The top three:

  1. Hope’s ‘Dark Chocolate Grapefruit Cake’, a gluten-free & vegan must have. I think Jon almost crapped his pants it was so good, and this time he got to eat cake with the rest of us!
  2. James’ ‘Grapefruit Cheesecake’ & (yes, a tie!) Christina’s ‘Grapefruit/Pork Lettuce Wraps’. James is a newcomer (Hope’s boyfriend – he does exist!!) who really came strong during his first attempt. Christina always seems to bring strong dishes and is getting very close to a win, I suspect. The wraps were my personal favorite, with both cakes coming in next.
  3. My ‘Grapefruit Marshmallows x2’. Clearly, you can’t go wrong with marshmallows, can you? I love them so much I’m going to start manufacturing them (yes manufacturing) and selling them on Etsy. I’m serious. Wait for it.

And with that, it looks as if the girls are back in business with two straight wins following the guys’ run. With the 9th competition right around the corner, February’s ingredient is sure to be a great one, as long as Hope can whittle down that list of possibilities!

Dark Chocolate Grapefruit Cake
Hope’s winning vegan, gluten-free recipe
adapted from the Gluten-Free Goddess blog
for a non-vegan version, click here

printable recipe

6 oz unsweetened dark chocolate
3/4 c vanilla soy milk (warmed)
3/4 c fresh grapefruit juice (warmed)
1/2 c very hot double strong coffee
1 T vanilla extract
14 oz pumpkin puree
1 1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c rice flour
2 T potato starch
1 T Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 t xanthan gum
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1 T grapefruit zest (optional, if you want even more grapefruit flavor!)
grapefruit segments for garnish
chocolate sauce for drizzling

Mix chocolate pieces with hot coffee and heated milk and grapefruit until chocolate is melted.  Add vanilla extract and pumpkin puree, blend.  Add in brown sugar, rice flour, potato starch, egg replacer, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and grapefruit zest, if using.  blend thoroughly until creamy and smooth.  Pour into a 9 in springform pan lined with greased parchment paper and smooth top.  Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes until middle doesn’t wiggle.  Chill for a minimum of two hours. top with grapefruit segments.

Like my new puppy? Just kidding, sadly. Chris hasn’t given in yet! Oh, and a big thanks to my buddy Lindsay for the pictures. I think all of these are courtesy of her and her lovely camera. *sigh*.