When was the last time you went to a diner and had a slice of classic lemon meringue pie? The sugary lemon filling topped with mile-high meringue is a somewhat satisfying end to that all-American diner meal, usually consisting of french fries and something sandwiched. Often mediocre and overwhelmingly sweet, lemon meringue pie can easily be improved upon through a homemade version…or in this case, a French-American hybrid.
I often associate stuffed mushrooms with summer. It may seem illogical but there’s something about the portability of this perfect party appetizer that reminds me of long summer days filled with picnics and barbeques. These mushrooms are baked in the oven but that shouldn’t stop you from trying them on the grill. Tender caps are the perfect vessel for the sweet lump crab mixture reminiscent of salt water bays and blue crab season. Summer will be here soon, I can feel it.
Chocolate and peanut butter is a recent classic American dessert combination. By recent, I mean it seems to have surged in popularity in the last 10-15 years or so even though the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup was first introduced back in 1928 (per Wikipedia). We just can’t seem to get enough of this perfect pair. Although it existed when the likes of my grandmother, James Beard, Julia Child, and other great American foodies were making their mark, there seem to be few recipes that utilize this mix of sweet chocolate and nutty creamy peanut butter from that time. Perhaps this was due to the emphasis on sophisticated French desserts and the reputation of chocolate and peanut butter as a simple candy combination with little depth or complexity in flavor. Whatever the reason, that lack of old fashioned recipes has delayed my use of this amazing match on this site and I’m happy to finally introduce it in this simple indulgent bar that still includes a blast from the past.
Chocolate. Almond. Espresso. It’s hard to go wrong with this indulgent trio. Perfect with coffee or tea, this lovely bundt cake is my grandmother’s marbled almond cake recipe from “The Art of Fine Baking,” topped with a simple espresso glaze. I like to think of it as a Sunday morning cake. The espresso in the glaze can count towards your morning coffee (I’ll take any excuse to eat cake for breakfast).
It’s funny how a simple butter cookie can inspire such nostalgic memories. As a child, Cats’ Tongues or Langues du Chat was one of the first recipes I tried from “The Art of Fine Baking.” Although I enjoyed piping the buttery dough onto baking sheets, I didn’t really understand this plain cookie. Perhaps my taste buds were too accustomed to the corn syrup filled treats that were so readily available. Or maybe I just didn’t try these delicious little bites while they were still hot and fresh from the oven (by far the best time to eat them). Whatever the reason, it wasn’t until my father shared his memories of my grandmother making them that I really began to enjoy and appreciate this simple sweet treat. However, the addition of chocolate didn’t hurt either.
Cats’ tongues cookies were the go-to cookie in Paula Peck’s kitchen. She would often make them for my father and uncle, who as children, eagerly watched as she piped the skinny pencil thin drops of dough onto a baking sheet. Fascinated with the pastry bag, my father often begged to try it and on the occasion that my grandmother relented, he promptly made a big mess of cookie dough and whatever baking sheet or other kitchen equipment/utensils it came in contact with. Once the cookies finally made it out of the oven, they were consumed by fist full.
After whipping up a batch of these in under 30 minutes, I now see why they were a popular treat in my grandmother’s kitchen. Not only are they easy to make, it’s hard to stop eating them. This recipe is fairly large and can be easily halved but if you don’t finish them while fresh and hot, dip the cooled cookies in chocolate. The chocolate adds a twist to the original plain cookie, making these buttery delights irresistible to all of us choco-holics.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 egg whites
1 cup sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
melted chocolate for dipping (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour baking sheets or line with parchment paper.
Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg whites, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in flour, salt, and vanilla. Fit a pastry bag with a large star tube and fill bag with 2/3 of the cookie batter. On prepared baking sheets, pipe pencils of batter about 2 inches long. Leave one inch between cookies for spreading.
Bake about 7 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Centers should remain light. Remove cookies from baking sheets at once. Once cool, dip in melted chocolate (if using).
Yield approximately 50