I can't believe I made these a month ago. I miss them. Deeply. But It's well past time I shared my favorite cookie with you.
Rainbow cookies, or as the Smitten Kitchen's recipe calls them, Seven-Layer Cookies(chocolate-spongecake-jam-spongecake-jam-spongecake-chocolate... 7.. mmm), are a rich (as the SK says, they're kinda more like petit fours) combination of three delectable components: almond-based spongecake, apricot (and/or raspberry) jam, and chocolate.
My mom and my neighbor were not the only people who decided to employ my baking skills during my stint at home over break. My sister, who also works at a school, requested some goodies for the students she spends her days with. While I questioned her wanting to give school children sugar in the middle of the day, it didn't stop me from finding the perfect treat for the kinder : brownies.
But these grade schoolers were getting more than your (kinder)garden variety chocolate treat. Dulce de leche brownies by David Lebovitz are far from elementary, am I right?
Pogácsa - pronounced POH - gah - chuh. Kind of as in, "You were the head of the biggest crime family in Providence until the po-po gotcha!". Capisce?
These savory biscuits (my sweet tooth does not control me ALL the time) are a staple of every Hungarian bakery and home kitchen. A perfect snack for any time of day or part of a hearty meal, they come in a few, simple varieties: butter, cheese and--my favorite--pork crackling. As you should know by now, I have many childhood memories filled with these little buttery, cheesy biscuits made by this old lady my grandparents knew, who I called Erzsi néni - -"Aunt" Lizzie--who isn't just some old lady, but a family friend who ran her own baking business. She lives in Florida now. :( I'd call and ask her to ship up some pogácsa--the best I've ever had--but I wouldn't be able to ask in Hungarian any more. But that's a story for another day.
While still home on break, I turned to another of my recipe books, Chocolate and Vanilla by pastry chef Gale Gand and Lisa Weiss, for some excellent recipes that illustrate the versatility of those two classic flavors. Not in combination, mind you. The book is literally split between vanilla and chocolate--you need to turn the book over to switch from one to the other. Each flavor gets its own introduction and historical background, followed by a group of recipes employing the flavors in all their forms, from Dutch-processed cocoa powder to vanilla beans.
One of the recipes that I've become particular fond of celebrates the classic combination of chocolate and almonds. The Chocolate Almond Upside-Down Cake is a dark, moist chocolate cake that is topped (once you flip it over) with rich caramel and toasted almonds. omgah so good. Gale Gand flat out rejects the traditional upside-down cake with those cherries and pineapple all up in it. Blah. This cake looks much better. Dark and sexy, even, to use my friend's words.
Back at the beginning of the semester my friend Tessa sent me a link and told me I had to participate in a contest--a brownie flavor creating contest. Tessa knows me well. And she had heard about the contest because she follows the blog of the bakery running it: Simply Divine Brownies. Based in Fort Andross, Brunswick, Maine, Simply Divine is run by Tessa's former grade school teacher and was going to randomly select a winner from among the brownie flavor entries who would receive a tray of his or her flavor brownies as a prize!
That same day I submitted my flavor: brownies with a layer of caramel and sprinkled with smoked sea salt. I called it the Obamabrownie because I happen to know that smoked salt caramels are our president's favorite candy. Such a classy guy.
As luck would have it.... I was one of three winners. "VICTORY SCREECH!" (You have no idea how completely and utterly surprised I am that this is the first Spongebob reference to show up on here.)
It looks like the crew at Simply Divine will even be selling the "Obamabrownie", which they have renamed Opposites Attract. Very cute. And very true. Sweet and salty together wins big. As do I! Updates to come as soon as I get that tray of 45 brownies ;)
All of the above are Simply Divine's pictures of the creation of Opposites Attract
Hey! I'm Matt, a college student from New Jersey going to school at Brown University up in lovely Rhode Island. But what's not always so lovely is dealing with the stresses of college life away from the comforts of home. To survive all the turmoil, I've decided to turn to the practice of baking. No, really. Here's my take on things: After two (omg) more semesters of craziness, maybe I'll get a degree, but right now all I've got is the sweet tooth I get from my dad, the love of baking I get from my mom and grandmas, and some kitchens in frat houses and the other ends of campus. That said... I have no idea if these shenanigans will end up being therapeutic or just a pain in the tush, but finding out should be delicious.