chocolate sea salt rugelach

Even though it’s already Hanukkah, I feel like we never fully debriefed from Thanksgiving! How was yours? Did the stuffing taste good? Was there family drama?? Our beachside situation was as strong as possible. We hung out with all of our little cousins (who are not so little anymore), played card games by the pool, and ate a deeeelicious feast. I lived in my maternity bathing suit!! And Eggboy became BFFs with my uncle, I couldn’t believe the bromance forming before my very eyes. By far one of my very favorite parts of our trip, however, was when my mom strolled down to the pool with a gigantic container of her homemade rugelach. It was the best thing ever. They were so tangy from the cream cheese and soft on the inside (my mom bakes them at a cool 350ºf and the insides stay delightfully soft this way), and the Florida sun warmed them just the teensiest bit, which made them even softer and melted the chocolate just perfectly. 

It occurred to me that I haven’t had rugelach that much since my college days when my mom would send me huge care packages of it. I’d walk around to my friends’ practice rooms and pass them out and we’d eat them together in the hallway. The arrival of “Jody’s Arugula” became the perfect occasion to just sit and commiserate about how hard playing the xylophone can be. 

Our poolside Thanksgiving rugelach was so similar to my college care package rugelach because in both cases it had been sitting in a container for a couple of days, which emphasizes that certain special homemade quality. You know what I’m talking about right?? Where the texture isn’t perfectly crisp and they’re a little bit crumbly but that’s 100% ok because you can taste all the love and coziness in them?? What I’m getting at is that I feel like rugelach is a perfect holiday cookie because it stays great for a good few days, so you can send it in the mail or bring it with you on your travels this season. 

Speaking of travels, Eggboy and I are making the miniature trek to Fargo this week for the annual sugar beet farmers’ meeting. It’s called a meeting, but it’s actually more of a party because the farming season is dunzo and school’s out for the summer (errr, well, you know what I mean). So we’ll get dressed up and mingle with other farmers and eat cute hors d’oeuvres… one of our favorite parts about the meeting though is that it’s held *right* next to a Barnes & Noble. We don’t have a very big bookstore in Grand Forks, so having this in Fargo is theee best. I don’t think Eggboy has ever in his life been able to walk by a Barnes & Noble without going in for hours. So I mean, do we ever sneak out of the sugar beet party early to go sit in the aisles in our fancy clothes and read and put together a stack of books for presents for ourselves and our family until the store closes? Yes, yes it happens every single year. It’s the best place to get our holiday shopping done. So it’s perfect timing that I’m partnering with Barnes & Noble on this week’s blog post to help spread the word about their #MyCookieStory contest which starts today! It is a super fun contest because the winner will have a version of their cookie sold at Barnes & Noble in the 2019 holiday season! (So I’ll be able to eat it during next year’s sugar beet meeting :). Scroll to the bottom of this post for details for the contest!

Here is the recipe for this sea salty chocolate rugelach, inspired by my mom’s. I love rugelach because the dough isn’t too sweet, and it’s just like a pie dough that’s been enriched with cream cheese. To help get those pie dough-like flakes, you want the ingredients to stay cold and you don’t want to over-mix the dough (some clumps of butter and cream cheese are a good thing). Also, the refrigerator is your friend while you’re making these, so clear some space. Since the dough is not too sweet, you can control the sweetness based on the kind of chocolate you use. I love using milk chocolate, but for a less sweet option, go with semisweet or darker. You can also choose to sprinkle the tops with sanding sugar, turbinado sugar, any kind of sprinkle (duh), or do what my mom does and simply dust them with powdered sugar after they’ve been baked. I know I said that my mom bakes at 350º but lately I’ve been bumping that up to 375º to get a bit more golden color. I dunno, it depends on my mood. Either way works. Oh and one more thing and then I’ll shut up: grating marzipan or almond paste over the melted chocolate is a welcome addition. Just a thought!


chocolate sea salt rugelach

makes 24 cookies

ingredients

2 1/2 c (325g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/4 c (50g) sugar

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 c (226g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed

8 oz (226g) cream cheese, straight from the fridge

2 large egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract, optional

1 1/2 c (260g) chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, I prefer milk but any type will do!

Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with a splash of water

Flaky salt

Sprinkles, sanding sugar, or turbinado sugar

Clues

To make the dough, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Add the cubed butter, distributing it all over the top of the dry ingredients, and dollop in the cream cheese (1” dollops should do it, but it doesn’t need to be perfect). Turn the mixer on low and stir until the mixture is mostly mealy and there are still some larger clumps of butter and cream cheese in tact. Continue mixing and add the yolks, vanilla, and almond extract, if using, and then continue mixing until the dough comes together. Divide the dough in half and shape into discs. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to two days.

To form the rugelach, melt the chocolate in a double boiler while stirring or in a microwaveable bowl in 30-second increments, stirring after each. Set aside to cool briefly while you roll out the dough. Working with one dough disc at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, dusting with flour as needed to prevent it from sticking, until it is a wide rectangle, 18” by 9”. Use an offset spatula to spread on half of the chocolate in a thin even layer, leaving a 1” border along the long edge that’s furthest from you. (Try to work kinda quickly so the chocolate doesn’t harden.) Brush the 1” border with a thin layer of egg wash and then start on the end closest to you and roll the dough into a long tight log, placing it seam side down. Transfer to a cutting board or baking sheet and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to two days (depending on fridge space, you might want to cut the log in half so you’re dealing with four shorter logs as opposed to two really long ones). If you’re only refrigerating for an hour or two, no need to cover the logs. If longer than that, cover with plastic wrap. 

To bake, preheat the oven to 375ºf and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Brush the logs with a thin layer of egg wash, sprinkle with a few pinches of flaky salt, and a ton of sprinkles or sugar. Cut into 1 1/2” slices and transfer to the baking sheets, 1” apart. Bake until golden brown on top; begin checking for doneness at 24 minutes. (You might notice that the cookies seem to sweat and leak out some fat while in the oven, this is completely normal.) Let cool on the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Or enjoy them warm! Leftovers can be stored at room temp for several days.


-yeh!

Thank you, Barnes & Noble, for sponsoring this post! Barnes & Noble is full of stories, and this year they’re asking you to share the story of your favorite holiday cookie along with the recipe for their #MyCookieStory contest. The winner will receive $5,000 and their cookie will be sold at Barnes & Noble during the 2019 holiday season! The contest runs from December 4-17 and you can enter here!

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

garlic and onion latkes and sour cream

Zomg it’s almost Hanukkah already! Any earlier and I feel like we would have come dangerously close to reliving the Thanksgivukkah mash-up of 2013 all over again. Luckily I feel like having this week free of any feast-driven holidays has allowed us to create space for all of the latkes and sufganiyot that we’re about to eat… but who am I kidding, the entire holiday season is a feast-driven holiday?! And so is the entirety of pregnancy! Ok, this is gonna be great.

I’m cutting no corners this Hanukkah and following all of the rules for good Hanukkah food:

  1. I will not let impatience get the best of me and I will let the oil heat up completely before frying anything.

  2. I will let the potatoes sit with their salt for at least half an hour to allow the moisture to escape, for the sake of an extra crispy latke. 

  3. I will let them get appropriately browned!! Extra crispy!! Ugh, this always takes more time than I want it to, but it’s gonna be worth it.

  4. I will not go the route of frying store bought biscuit dough and calling it sufganiyot. I’m thinking of going a chocolatey brioche route this year, maybe chocolate and strawberry??

I’m so excited to be able to use Eggboy’s menorah again and, oh gosh, I just got emotional thinking about how this time next year we’ll be lighting the candles with little Poppy Seed. I can already see the Eight Days of Baby Books happening. 

Ok before I get ahead of myself, I’m gonna talk about these latkes. They’re basically an amped up version of the classic latkes that I typically make and they are sooo good. Flavor-wise, I’ve added garlic and scallions (to an already onion-y mixture) and paired them with a caramelized onion sour cream situation that’s just like French onion dip. Texture-wise, I’ve replaced my standard flour binder with panko breadcrumbs for a thicker heartier texture. I find it helps these latkes fry up more like hockey pucks, which is a good thing because we live in hockey country. I supposed you could also use matzo meal!

And since I feel like it’s been a while since we talked latkes, let’s review some tips for prepping them ahead if you’re planning on hosting a big party this year:

-For the most low maintenance route, follow the below directions but instead of transferring to a wire rack or paper towel as written, transfer the latkes in a single layer to a sheet pan covered in foil. Let cool and refrigerate for up to two days or freeze for up to a few weeks. The foil is so that they retain that excess oil and you want them to do that so that when you reheat them on that pan (in a hot oven, 400º or 425º should do), the excess oil lightly re-fries them.

-For a slightly higher maintenance route, follow the below directions as written, taking them out of the oil just before they get to be optimum goldenness. Let cool and refrigerate for up to two days. And then when you’re ready to serve, simply fry them again. They’ll fry up faster and they’ll be super crispy because twice fried latkes are a very good thing.

-The garlic and onion sour cream can totes be made a day in advance.

And I’m using Our Family sour cream with this recipe! It’s reliable and comes in a cute package with cows all over it. And! It comes in the huge tubs, which is a must for Hanukkah. Thanks for sponsoring this post, Our Family!


garlic and onion latkes with garlic and onion sour cream

makes 20 latkes

ingredients

for the latkes:

2 1/2 lbs russet potatoes

2 medium yellow onions

4 cloves garlic

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

4 large eggs

2 tb lemon juice

black pepper

2/3 c (40g) panko breadcrumbs

4 stalks scallions, chopped

Flavorless oil, for frying

for the garlic and onion sour cream:

2 tb olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided

1/2 tsp sugar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c (240g) Our Family sour cream

1/2 tsp onion powder

black pepper

scallions, for topping

clues

Using the shredding attachment on a food processor (or mandoline), shred the potatoes, onions, and garlic. Line a colander with 2 layers of cheese cloth and set it over a bowl or in the sink. Add the potatoes/onions/garlic to the cheese cloth and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 30-45 minutes. Gather up the edges of the cheesecloth and use your hands to squeeze out any excess moisture. 

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, lemon juice, a few turns of black pepper, and the breadcrumbs and add the potato mixture. Stir in the scallions.

In a large skillet, heat 1/4” of oil over medium-high heat, until shimmering. It’s ready when a strand of potato added to the oil immediately starts to sizzle. Use an ice cream scoop to add blobs of the mixture to the oil, spacing them out so as not to crowd the pan. Press the scoops down lightly with a spatula to get 1/2” thick patties. Fry until golden brown on both sides, a few minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack or paper towel and sprinkle with salt or flaky salt. Repeat with the remaining mixture, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

for the garlic and onion sour cream:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium and add the onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and sugar. cook, stirring, until golden brown and caramelized, about 30-40 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Let cool and then stir with the sour cream, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, onion powder, and a few turns of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with a sprinkle of chopped fresh scallions. 


-yeh!

thank you, our family, for sponsoring this post

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen


p.s. tune into this weekend’s #girlmeetsfarm for brussels sprout latkes, lefse, pastrami meatballs, speculoos sheet cake, and marzipan chocolate bars!

caramel apple cake with cream cheese frosting

Confession time: I’m not lifting a finger this Thanksgiving! Not even a toe. There will be no cooking, no bird basting, no celery chopping, just the sweet sound of Broadway tunes from the parade on the TV. And then I’ll be waddling down to the beach. That’s it! I’m so excited. I can’t take credit for this idea, it’s all the brainchild of my mom’s side of the family who has been organizing an epic Thanksgiving weekend Florida family reunion that I have been looking forward to for months. 

My dream is that I’ll somehow be able to acquire a turkey and cranberry on rye on the beach, and I’m loosely tempted to bring boxes of pre-made stuffing for all of my relatives to hydrate in their hotel coffee pots. (Certainly weirder things have been done, no?) But if my options are poolside chicken fingers and fries with honey mustard, I won’t be mad. Because 1) we already had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner during filming for the Girl Meets Farm Thanksgiving episode, and 2) I’ll be with my awesome cool fam for the first time since cousin Ellie’s Bat Mitzvah! And that’s really what Thanksgiving is all about, right??? Being with your loved ones?? WOW, this got mushy fast. 

The one main kitchen thing that I will really miss this year is watching Eggboy make his pumpkin pie. He really hit his stride last year and, I don’t know, there is something so warm and fuzzy about seeing someone who you love so much getting excited about a thing that you love so much. Eggboy in the kitchen is truly somethin rad. Maybe he’ll make his pie for Chrismukkah…

Our plans to go to Florida reminded me of one of the last times I spent Thanksgiving in Florida, in my college days. For a few good years in a row, we all got together and cooked a feast at my cousin Jamie’s house. It was always a super solid classic Thanksgiving meal and for dessert there were definitely a few pies, but there was also this caramel apple loaf cake that looked pretty ugly but, oh goodness, it was soo good. It had a deeply caramelized flavor and it was wildly dense, but it was broken up by big chunks of crisp tart apples. It was the kind of cake that you just couldn’t walk by without shaving off *one* more sliver. A hot contender for winning the honor of Ending Bite, indeed.

This cake is inspired by that cake, which holds a place in our family cookbook. I’ve swapped in some whole wheat flour to add nuttiness and given it a not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting that adds the correct amount of tang and creaminess. Also, I screwed something up so that you don’t have to: I tried making this with the gala apples from our trees and honeycrisp apples from the store. They were both too moist and the batter, as thick as it was when it went into the pan, just didn’t reach the right consistency during baking. So use Granny smiths because they are super starchy and firm and they won’t add too much moisture to the batter. But past that, this cake is very unfussy and can totally be made a day in advance. If you, like me, are not lifting a finger this Thanksgiving, or maybe you’ve got your pie lineup set in stone already, keep this cake on hand for later in the season because its warmth and coziness is perfect for any winter occasion. 

And I am using Our Family ingredients in this cake! I find I use Our Family products even more during the holidays, when time is usually tight to buy a lot of groceries for all of my holiday parties and I just need easy to find, inexpensive, very reliable ingredients. They are the perfect party planning helpers! Thanks for sponsoring this post, Our Family


caramel apple cake with cream cheese frosting

makes one loaf

Ingredients

2 1/4 c (292g) all-purpose flour

3/4 c (98g) whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking soda 

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

A pinch of ground cardamom

1 c (200g) brown sugar

1 c (200g) sugar

3/4 c (150g) flavorless oil, like canola or vegetable

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 large granny smith apples, chopped into 1/4”-1/2” pieces (4 c (368g) chopped)

Cream cheese frosting:

8 oz (226g) Our Family cream cheese, softened

1 c (120g) powdered sugar

1/4 c heavy cream

A pinch of kosher salt

Caramel:

15 storebought caramels

3 tb whole milk

a big pinch of salt

Flaky salt

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line a Pullman Loaf pan (8 1/2” X 4”, or similar) with parchment paper, allowing 1” wings to come up on two of the sides.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars and oil until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each, and then add the vanilla. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and then fold in the apples. It will be very thick! Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, begin checking for doneness after an hour, but it could take up to 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan and then transfer to a serving plate. (You can totally bake this a day in advance and let it cool overnight, uncovered.)

To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the heavy cream and salt until combined. Spread it over the cake.

To make caramel, melt ingredients together over low heat in a saucepan while stirring (or in a microwave), and let cool slightly.

Just before serving, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with flaky salt. Enjoy!


-yeh!

thank you, our family, for sponsoring this post

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

matcha, red bean, and almond rainbow cookies

I was a total blob this weekend as I came down off of this month of filming! I made snickerdoodles and then ate snickerdoodles, watched the UND hockey team score a million goals against Wisconsin, baked an extra buttery loaf of Alexandra’s bread, and discovered the brilliance that is Cynthia’s ginger chicken and dumplings. If you need proof that magic exists, just boil some chicken with tons of scallions and ginger, that’s it. Omg, it’s the best thing in my chicken life since Melissa Clark’s salt and pepper chicken. And then add a double batch of chewy dumplings and eat it while binging Three Wives, One Husband, and when those episodes run out (there were only four?!), embark on the holiday spirit.

I really can’t say that I’m glad that filming is over, because having the crew in my house and cooking all of my favorite winter foods rocked, but I can say that sitting on the couch and not thinking about anything except for snickerdoods and dumplings for a good few hours was deeply clutch.

Now that that’s out of my system though I’m beginning to think about Chrismukkah cookies and all of the cute boxes of them that I’m going to assemble over the coming season for various reasons (parties and gifts) and non-reasons (they look cute and are fun to make). Rainbow cookies are always a hit because they’re not only fiercely almondy and tasty but they also have a nice shelf life because of how moist they are. And I especially love them because, well, they’re actually cake.

I’m starting to exhaust variations on them (cake, gelato sandwiches), but wanted to drop these into the Chrismukkah lineup because they’re extra special! The green layer is actually matcha (an a+ pairing with the almond base), and the red layer has red bean paste (nutty and slightly fruity, also great with almond). I worked these up when I was developing a Chinese Jewish menu for an event next week in Baltimore. While matcha is typically thought of as a Japanese tea, it actually originated in China! And red bean paste is something that I grew up eating at dim sum in the center of Jian Dui, or fried sesame balls. I was afraid of it until Stoop told me that it tasted like peanut butter, so then I liked it. Classic rainbow cookies have Italian roots, but Jews love em. They end up on lots of our holiday dessert tables and I’m totally obsessed with their colorful, soft almondiness. This version doesn’t look too far off from the traditional but the added matcha and red bean paste add unexpected dimension and beautiful natural color. They are a perfect addition to any holiday cookie box!


Rainbow Cookies

Makes 16 cookies

ingredients

3 large eggs, separated

2 tb (13g) sugar + 1/2 c (100g) sugar

1 c (226g) unsalted butter, softened

6 oz (173g) almond paste, chopped

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/3 c (174g) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp matcha powder

1/4 c (68g) fine red bean paste

Red food coloring

3 tb (64g) apricot or raspberry jam

4 oz (114g) dark chocolate

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease three 8” by 4” loaf pans and line them with parchment paper that comes at least 2” up the sides of the pan (these little wings will help you lift the cookie out of the pan). If you don’t have 3 loaf pans, you can bake the layers in batches. 

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, and then with the mixer running on medium, gradually add the 2 tablespoons sugar. Increase the speed to medium high and beat to stiff peaks. Set them aside.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, almond paste, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the lemon juice and almond extract, and then reduce the speed to medium low and gradually add the flour. Mix to combine. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the whites. Transfer a third of the mixture to one of the loaf pans and use a small offset spatula to spread it out evenly. Transfer another third of the mixture to a separate bowl and fold in the matcha powder. Fold the red bean paste and a couple of drops of red food coloring into the remaining third. Transfer these into the remaining 2 loaf pans, spread them out evenly and then bake until the tops are just set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then lift them out and place on a wire rack to cool completely. 

Stack them up with 1 1/2 tablespoons jam between the layers. Wrap the loaf firmly in plastic wrap, weight it down with a couple of heavy cookbooks, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. 

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or by microwaving it for 30 second increments, stirring after each, until it’s smooth. Remove it from heat and stir continuously until it is no longer hot. Spread it over the top and sides of the cookie cake loaf and stick it in the refrigerator to firm up for about 15 minutes. Cut width-wise into 1” slices and then cut each of those slices in half to make 16 cookies.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container. 


-yeh!

p.s. Watch the season premiere of Girl Meets Farm this Sunday at 11am/10 central!!! We’re making goulash, chocolate hazelnut donuts, hawaij apple pie, and brussels sprouts!!