new year's cookie cereal!

Hi! It's Molly of last week here, Molly of the present is on holiday break and not allowed to open up her computer until January 3. (There is a piece of washi tape holding it shut.) Present molly is definitely opening instagram every five seconds though. And, like, sitting on her couch eating cheese and butter sandwiches, getting them all in before the clock strikes 2018 when suddenly there is a little guilt in the air about eating bread, but shut me up, that’s all I’m saying about New Year’s diets. 

Molly of the present might be a little bit tan from a two day skip down to the great American Southwest, very full on pizza from a pizza party at Melissa’s (!!!! Omg past Molly is so excited), and awaiting results from her 23 and me test since she got one for herself and one for Eggboy to put under the Chrismukkah bush. Just for funsies! I know I’m half Chinese and part Hungarian but one time at Thanksgiving someone from my mom’s side said something about having Polish ancestors and maybe even some Spanish ones (!!). I can’t wait to find out. 

Also, we celebrated our third anniversary yesterday!! Hooray!!!!!! I think we went to IKEA. That’s the plan at least. And now that I think about it, I think that my favorite hidden talent of ours as a couple is confidently maintaining a perfect track record of never fighting in an IKEA. That’s pretty good, right??? It’s maybe either a testament to our level-headed reasoning skills or to the fact that as long as I get Swedish meatballs in my belly the world could end but I’d still be smiling. Either way, I am extra excited to spend the day looking at Hemneses and Vördas with my cool husband. 

Enough being mushy now! Let’s get crispy.

As you may remember, I spent a large portion of my February stamping out macroscopic heart shaped cookies to make valentine’s day cookie cereal:

This was a long repetitive process but extraordinarily satisfying. So I did it again only this time with a festive holiday/New Year’s day approach! The only real differences from the valentine’s day version are that the cookies have ground almonds instead of hazelnuts (as well as sprinkles to be like new year’s confetti), and the meringues are swirly and colorful. It’s all very almond-forward because that’s the flavor of the holidays and if you make it now it will definitely still be good by the time that New Year’s morning rolls around and you simply cannot be bothered to make a brunch or wait for a table at the Walker Brothers, but you still want something celebratory. 

I used a large round piping tip to stamp out my circles. I also added dried cranberries and cherries and pecans and marcona almonds but feel free to change those up based on what you have on hand. The only thing you really need to pay attention to is making sure the cookies and meringues are really good and dry before taking them out of the oven, that will help this cereal keep for a while and not get smelly when you bag it up and gift it to the person you forgot to give a gift to. 

Omg, see you in 2018!!!!!


almond cookie cereal

makes about 18 servings

ingredients

1 batch mini almond cookies, recipe below

1 batch mini meringues, recipe below

1 c chocolate chips

1 c toasted coconut flakes

1 c toasted almonds, coarsely chopped (I also threw in some pecans!)

1 c dried cherries or cranberries

milk, for serving

clues

gently combine all of the ingredients. 

serve in a bowl with milk!

keep in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. cereal should keep for a couple of weeks.


mini almond cookies

ingredients

1/2 c almond meal

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 c unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c sugar

3/4 tsp vanilla

1 large egg

sprinkles

clues

preheat the oven to 350ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment.

in a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, and salt.

using an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until it is pale and fluffy. add the vanilla and egg and beat well to combine. with the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, beating until combined.

turn the cookie dough out onto a lightly-floured surface. using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick, sprinkle the top with sprinkles, and then continue rolling until it is 1/4" thick. use a cookie cutter or large round piping tip to cut out tiny circles. place the circles on the baking sheets (they can be pretty close together), and bake until they're lightly browned on the bottom, about 10 minutes. re-roll scraps and repeat.

once all of the cookies are baked, reduce the oven to 250ºf and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes to really crisp them up. let cool on the pans.


ingredients

120 grams (or about 1/2 c + 3 tb) sugar

2 large eggs whites

1/4 tsp almond extract

2-4 colors of gel food coloring

clues

preheat oven to 400ºf. distribute the sugar in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes, until the edges are starting to brown. while sugar is baking, crack your egg whites into a stand mixer. 

once the sugar has been in the oven for a few minutes, begin beating the egg whites in a stand mixer on high until they're foamy. reduce the mixer and gradually sprinkle in the warm sugar. once all of it has been added, add the almond extract. beat on high for a few minutes, until the meringue is stiff, glossy, and cold.

reduce the oven to 225ºf.

prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment. fit a pastry bag fitted with a 1/8" or 1/4" round tip and use a paint brush to paint vertical lines of the food coloring inside of the pastry bag. (for a video tutorial, see my IG story highlights!) Fill the bag with your egg white mixture, pipe tiny dollops onto the parchment, and bake for about 20 minutes, until the mini meringues are no longer shiny and they're crispy all the way through. let cool on the pans.


-yeh!

marzipan challah hedgehogs

Yogurt book is submitted and I have officially trained myself to never be able to cook with yogurt without feeling like I should be watching Pretty Little Liars and vice versa. In the same way that I wrote Molly on the Range with Sia going on full blast in the wee hours of the morning, I had nothing but PLL on while testing these recipes and I timed it pretty well because I only have about six episodes left in the whole series. I have no idea what’s going on but I do know that Aria’s hair and eyebrows just get better and better. 

In these last few weeks I kept having these moments when I’d drive all the way across town to the Super Target, the closest grocery that sells whole milk Greek yogurt that doesn’t have pectin in it, place four tubs in my cart and do a little cheer to the tune of this is my last Greek yogurt run until my deadline!! Only to have six more failed yogurt loaves come out of the oven before having to do that all over again. Luckily Classical Minnesota Public Radio really brings it and has made my long yogurt runs extra enjoyable. And also luckily, I finally made a really good yogurt loaf and am just generally extremely excited for all of the yogurt recipes in this little book!!! 

I am pretty sure it’s coming out in March but once I know more about release deets I’ll be sure to talk your ears off about it. 

Now it’s time to cook through some recipes that I’ve been wanting to make these past few weeks but couldn’t because I had yogurt chicken and yogurt pita to test. 

This week I’m helping Alana test the beef stew recipe for her book and I’m gonna eat it while it snows outside (!!!!!!). Then we’re going to take our holiday card picture, then we’re gonna put up our Chrismukkah bush, and then I’m going to practice my cookie swap cookies because I’ve got a cookie swap title to defend.

But how was your Halloween??? Did you dress up? We had very chill costumes. This whole time I was planning to be cookie salad but then I kept stressing out about the chocolate from the cookies getting on my clothes and wasn’t really sure what I would do until I woke up Saturday morning and decided to go as the little girl who walked in on her dad’s BBC interview. I dug up my yellow sweater, put on some pig tails, reached into my Quin Candy lollipop stash and taped that professor’s face on a paint stick. Eggboy went as Luke from Gilmore Girls so all he had to do was wear his hat backwards, carry a coffee carafe, and yell at you for using your cell phone. We went to Sheila and Dave’s annual party and Dave wore a banana suit and a bandana and was banana’s foster wallace, lolol.  

Here is a challah recipe that I’ve been so excited about since I first made it back in March at Nosh Berlin: marzipan stuffed challah hedgehogs! Or, as I learned there, they would be Challah Igel, auf Deutsch. They are doughy little challah rolls with a sweet almond filling and glaze on top that can either be a yarmulke or… fur…? Quills? Spiky bits. Sorry, I don’t know hedgehog anatomy. The slivered almond topping gives them a nice crunch, and these hedgehogs in fact have two lives: 

  1. When they first cool down just enough to hold their glaze and you have a fresh plump treat that’s perfect with a spot of tea.
  2. The next day when they’re no longer fresh and you’re like “what am I supposed to do with all of these dead hedgehogs?” And you make bread pudding. Zomg these hedgehogs make the best bread pudding ever. So almondy, so soft. It almost might behoove you to just make a double batch to ensure that you’ll have enough to make bread pudding. This is the basic bread pudding recipe that I use, and it wouldn’t hurt to add a small splash of almond extract in with the milk.

I’m posting these guys today as another nod to my German friends in celebration of the release of Molly’s Kitchen and also because they’d be a great holiday treat! And if you haven’t started planning your holiday menus yet what are you even doing???


marzipan challah hedgehogs

makes 14 rolls

ingredients

for the challah:

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

3/4 c warm water (105º-110ºf)

1/4 c (50g) + 1 tsp sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

3 1/4 c (413g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 large eggs

1/3 c (67g) flavorless oil, like canola or vegetable

 

for the filling:

1/4 c (57g) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 c (150g) sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1 large egg, separated

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 1/2 c (168g) almond flour

 

Black sesame seeds, for decorating

 

for the glaze:

1 1/2 c (180g) powered sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract

5-6 tsp whole milk

 

Slivered almonds, for decorating

clues

To make the challah dough, in a medium bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon sugar and give it a little stir. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl or the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the salt, flour, and remaining sugar. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil.

When the yeast is foamy, add it to the dry mixture immediately followed by the egg mixture and stir to combine. Knead, either by hand on a floured surface or with a dough hook for 7-10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary (but resist any urge to add too much!), until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the marzipan filling. In a medium bowl, mix together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until combined. Mix in the salt and egg white (reserve the egg yolk for the egg wash), and then add the almond extract, and stir in the almond flour.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375ºF.

When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a clean surface (dust with a little flour if it’s too sticky) and divide into 14 balls. Fill each ball with a heaping tablespoon of filling and seal it well to shut. Place the balls seem side down on the baking sheets, spaced evenly apart. Let rise for 30 more minutes. In a small bowl beat the reserved egg yolk with a splash of water and, working with three rolls at a time, brush the egg wash onto the rolls, use scissors to make two 1/2” cuts on one side for ears, and tweezers to stick on two black sesame seeds for eyes. (If you wait too long after brushing on the egg wash, it will dry and the sesame seeds won’t stick, so that’s why you don’t want to work with no more than three rolls at a time.)

Bake until golden brown, begin checking for doneness at 20 minutes.

Let cool and then make the glaze. In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, almond extract, and 5 teaspoons milk. If it’s too thick to spread, add additional milk, a couple of drops at a time, until it's spreadable. Working one at a time, spread a circle of glaze onto the rolls and then top with overlapping rows of slivered almonds.

Enjoy!


-yeh!

chocolate sheet cake with pistachio butter frosting

Sugar beet harvest is well underway!!!! It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year. It’s by far the busiest and the sleepiest, but also the most exciting. Eggboy has a weird, vaguely nocturnal sleep schedule which has me waking up way before him (this has been a little nerve wracking since he’s the only one who knows how to operate our very complicated coffee grinder) but it means that I can make a big breakfast when he wakes up in the afternoon. Tonight will be my first night home during harvest since I was away over the weekend and I intend to just binge Pretty Little Liars and restock the freezer with pita and soup for quick harvest break snackees. Good thing there are enough PLL seasons to take me through even the longest of harvests, which luckily this doesn’t seem like it’s going to be. Based on my extremely limited knowledge, I’m gonna bet you a dollar that this harvest will take shorter than last year’s verkakte muddy harvest but longer than the easy breezy beautiful year before that. Which affects you and me in the sense that it determines how many baked goodies I make for the crew. I filled our deep freeze with pumpkin bread, blueberry scones, and a funfetti cake last week before I scampered off for a quick trip to Harbor Springs, Michigan, for a Molly on the Range event and then to Boston for the Forbes Under 30 summit. 

Wow, Harbor Springs is one of the prettiest cutest places in the world! I could eat it all up. Or at least see myself going back again and again to crash the book festival and look at the beautiful houses. I got to stay with Maureen, who wrote one of my favorite cookbooks, Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, and we made raw kibbeh!! It was a dream come true. I’ve been wanting to make raw kibbeh since reading about it in her book but was never confident enough in my butcher finding skills to get clean enough beef that could be eaten raw. So I waited until I got to Harbor Springs, and then we feasted on raw kibbeh, baked kibbeh, fattoush, hummus, knafeh, and this amazing sticky date cake with orange blossom caramel. I also got to hang with Nicole and a whole bunch of new sweet people. It was heaven! 

After Michigan I zipped on over to Boston for a quick day and a half at the Forbes Under 30 summit, surrounded by break fast at Mamaleh’s (with a truly inspirational kasha varnishkes), brunch time tahini buns, sofra with family, and then sofra again with friends, and some hardcore catching up with old college homies. I was in a cloud of congestion and snotty tissues (ew gross sorry forget I said that) but came home with a full heart and a full suitcase of saffron gummies, aleppo pepper, the la boîte halva mix, and Maureen’s nougatsA+ souvenirs

Ok one last thing before we get to cake: Molly on the Range turns one today!!!!!! I can hardly believe it! This last year has been a year filled to the brim with your sweet posts and messages about recipes you’ve made from MOTR and they make me the happiest bean in the world. I love seeing you guys celebrate birthdays and holidays with MOTR cakes and challah and schnitzel and I am so freaking happy that I've gotten to meet and hug so many of you at book events. I cannot thank you enough for how much joy your support of Molly on the Range has brought me over this past year. I am going to try and express all of my gratitude by making some of your favorite foods though!! Since so many of the recipes in MOTR were homemade versions of my childhood favorite foods (lunchables, pigs in blankets, you know…), I want you to hop over here and tell me some of your crazy childhood favorite foods and then I’m going to pick a few to recreate from scratch! If yours gets picked, you’ll get a special one of a kind edition of Molly on the Range :) Head to Instagram for more details.

Alright, cake time!!!! Because all of this harvesting and book birthdaying is calling for celebration. Eggboy put this cake out for all of our harvest helpers on the first day of harvest and from what I can tell, it got gobbled up immediately. It’s your basic super rich chocolate sheet cake covered in a buttercream that has my current obsession, pistachio butter, all up in it. It’s the same pistachio butter that was in these pudding pops but now that it’s getting a little colder I’m giving you a more weather appropriate use for it. Pistachio butter, the fanciest of the nut butters (?), is so great in this buttercream. Just think of how great peanut butter frosting is and then... make it pistachio. This frosting is rich, pistachio-y, a little lemony, and almondy. AKA basically perfect and greenish, the best color. Hooray!   


chocolate sheet cake with pistachio butter frosting

makes one 9" x 13" sheet cake

ingredients

for the cake:

1 3/4 c (350g) sugar

1 3/4 c (223g) all-purpose flour

1 c (85g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 large eggs

1 c (240g) buttermilk

1 tb vanilla extract

1/2 c (100g) flavorless oil

3/4 c (178g) boiling water

for the frosting:

1 c (128g) roasted pistachios (preferably unsalted)

1 c (225g) unsalted butter, softened

3 c (360g) powdered sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt (omit if pistachios are salted)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

zest of 1/2 a lemon

2 tb heavy cream

clues

for the cake:

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottom of a 9" by 13" pan with parchment paper.

in a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda. in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and oil. add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. whisk in the boiling water.

pour the batter into the cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes. let cool in the pan.

for the frosting: 

first, make the pistachio butter. in a food processor, blend the pistachios, scraping the sides occasionally, until very creamy and spreadable, about 5-10 minutes.

with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and pistachio butter until creamy. add the powdered sugar and mix to combine and then mix in the salt, vanilla, almond extract, lemon zest, and then heavy cream. 

spread all over the cake, decorate as desired, and enjoy! 


-yeh!

funfetti amerikaner + molly on the range is out in german!!!!

Heute ist ein fantastischer Tag! Die Deutsche ausgabe von Molly on the Range, “Molly’s Kitchen” wurde heute geboren! Ich bin sehr glüklich! Kauf es hier!

Ok, that’s just about all I got. The other German that remains in my brain is reserved for ordering schnitzel and deciphering what bass drum sticks I’m supposed to use in German music. At one point I definitely could have told you how my day was, what I enjoy doing in my free time, and if I enjoy spaghetti or pizza more, and that point was 10 years ago. But! That doesn’t make me any less excited that Molly on the Range is out in German this week!!!! I would try to say in German that I’m really excited but I seem to remember that if you translate it literally, you actually end up saying that you’re aroused. Or something. Is this true? I don’t want to get into a naughty Ich bin ein Berliner situation. 

If you’ve read the spätzle section in Molly on the Range, you know that my love for German things runs deep. It began with a textbook teenage obsession with Mahler symphonies and a desire to understand all of the schwammschlägelns and langsamers in his music, and led to enrolling in four years of high school German class. It was so fun! I went by the name Ursula. And one schnitzel led to another, and one trip to Berlin with pops led to another with Blue Lake, and even after the excitement of the lower drinking age faded, I kept wanting to go back. I love the accents and the appreciation for opera and that the people I've met there have been so genuine and warm. 

Side note: I’m totally in possession of 10 pounds of haribo gummy bears right now. 

(it is so wild to see Lisel's illos auf Deutsch!!!) 

The first time I traveled to Germany, I got to miss a few days of eighth grade and hang out back stage at the Berlin Philharmonie during my dad’s rehearsals. I remember thinking it was so cool that they sold open faced sandwiches in the lobby and got as many butter and salami ones as I could eat in between movements of Bruckner. The other cool discoveries of this trip were: bienenstich (honey cake), pflaumenkuchen (plum cake-- make this right now before plums go out of season), and Amerikaners. Amerikaners are really similar to black and white cookies in that they’re essentially little flat cakes. They’re very soft, often flavored with a bit of lemon, and rather than having both chocolate and vanilla icing on them, most of the ones I had at bakeries around Berlin just had vanilla. I found a few that had just chocolate and, if my memory serves me correctly, I think I also had some pink ones. I basically lived on Amerikaners, salami sandwiches, and Haribo gummy things during that trip. 

Then the weirdest thing happened this last time that I went to Berlin, back in March, I could not find a single Amerikaner!!! I wouldn’t shut up about them the whole way there and then I dragged Eggboy into every bakery that we passed to try and find one but they were nowhere to be seen and Eggboy thought I was making the whole thing up. WTF!!! So I came home and made a bunch. And funfetti'ed them to celebrate the release of German Molly on the Range (which is actually called Molly's Kitchen since I guess "Range" doesn't really translate into both a farm and a stove...)!! So these are for you, dear German friends!! They are the child of two of my favorite childhood sweets, Amerikaners and Funfetti cake and I am pleased as pflaume to share them with you!!! 

Ooh and stay tuned for a couple more German-American recipe mashups :) 

Here is the link to order Molly’s Kitchen! And if you live in Germany and are like was ist clear imitation vanilla?! here!


funfetti amerikaners

makes 18

ingredients

2 c (254g) all-purpose flour

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 c (113g) unsalted butter, softened

1 c (200g) sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp clear imitation vanilla (or vanilla extract)

1/4 tsp almond extract

1/2 c (113g) whole milk yogurt

1/3 c (64g) rainbow sprinkles, plus more for decorating

 

for the glaze:

2 c (240g) powdered sugar

2 1/2-3 tb whole milk

1/2 tsp clear imitation vanilla (or vanilla extract)

pinch of kosher salt

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add the vanilla and almond extracts. Add the yogurt and dry ingredients in 2 or 3 alternating additions and mix until just combined. Fold in the sprinkles by hand. Scoop out 2” blobs of the batter onto the baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until the bottoms are just beginning to brown, begin checking for doneness at 18 minutes. Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, in a medium bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, 2 1/2 tablespoons milk, vanilla extract, and salt. If it’s too thick to spread, add additional milk a few drops at a time until it's spreadable. Spread the glaze onto the flat side of the Amerikaners and sprinkle with sprinkles. Enjoy!


-yeh!