Indian Chai Lattes

Indian Chai Lattes

Indian Chai Lattes

There’s an Indian restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona called Jewel of the Crown. I grew up a few miles away from it, but it was slightly too fancy to go there on a regular basis. Mostly, we would go when family was visiting from out of town – it was a special occasion. And for the kid version of me, it was a very special occasion. I took to it immediately, even when I was young: the chicken was perfectly cooked, the naan bread was devoured in minutes.

But my favorite thing came piping hot from a tap: chai lattes. Milky, subtle but present spices, and delicious black tea. It took everything in me not to finish it in one sip. I coveted these chai lattes and thought about them months after eating at the restaurant. I’d try chai lattes elsewhere, but they weren’t the same – they tasted pretty much like watery syrup with some milk mixed in.

I haven’t been to the restaurant in at least 10 years and here I am, still thinking about those perfect chais.

But here I am with a chai latte recipe that tastes just like those perfect ones. I am so glad I finally tried it. If you’ve only ever had chai lattes from The Great Big Coffee Chain That Shall Not Be Named, you really, really should try making these. And it’s not even too hard to make in the comfort of your own saucepan: if you can get your hands on green cardamom pods (I found them easily at Penzey’s) and some star anise (in most grocery stores), everything else comes together in minutes.

Indian Chai Lattes

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Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies

Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies on www.inthiskitchen.com

Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies on www.inthiskitchen.com

This year the beginning of September and Labor Day happened to coincide with the temperatures dropping a good 20 degrees here in the DC area. It’s been close to 90 (and humid) most of summer, but the past few days its been more like low to mid 70s, and all of this combined means people are going crazy getting excited for fall.

Even I’m a little excited for fall, which is always a surprise for me because I start to shiver around 55 degrees. But around here we probably have at least two months before we have to endure temperatures below freezing, and for that I am happy. I can get behind some good pumpkin spice, squash, apple pastries and boots. And beautiful fall colors… yeah, okay, I’ll begrudgingly admit it: I like fall. Now I just need to get through what I’m sure will come next: the typical DC Indian summer.

In any case, I’m much more interested in cooking and baking now that the temperatures have fallen a little. I’ve been trying to find more recipes with tahini in them – I absolutely love it, and I find it to be the best alternative to peanut butter. Cashew and almond butter are way too different from peanut flavor-wise, but sesame packs a similar punch. I love it in sauces (like these fantastic otsu noodles or mixed with yogurt for these pita sandwiches), and of course in classic hummus.

But I also love tahini in sweets – enter: tahini cookies.

These tahini cookies are reminiscent of peanut butter cookies, and also of chocolate covered halvah. They are nutty and sweet, with a hearty amount of chocolate chips inside (if you prefer a less chocolatey cookie, you could cut the amount of chips in half). The sprinkling of salt on top is perfect with the decadent cookie below it. And you probably have all the ingredients in your house already (unless you need to get your hands on some tahini).

The cookie dough does require at least 12 hours to chill – so plan ahead! I promise it is worth it though.

Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies on www.inthiskitchen.com

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Lemon Mascarpone Cookies

Lemon Mascarpone Cookies

Lemon Mascarpone Cookies

I’ve been trying to get better at doing things on the weekends, a far cry from my high school and college days when every break from school meant doing nothing at all. Now that I’m older and wiser more anxious, I always feel like 2 days for a weekend is just never enough and how could I possibly maximize the precious time I have, and oh no it’s already Sunday again!? Even though my social life isn’t exactly overflowing, I still manage to feel like there’s not enough time to do all the reading, cooking, going for long walks, watching tv or movies, hanging out with Dan – not to mention chores, grocery shopping, and other stuff shopping. It’s even worse in summer, because there’s so many things you always *could* be doing (like this weekend the DC Pride Parade is down in Dupont and we didn’t go to check it out, womp womp).

In any case, cooking and grocery shopping are two things that are an absolute necessity, and I love to make at least one sweet and one savory thing each weekend. A few weeks ago I came across these lemon mascarpone cookies and I knew I had to procure some mascarpone as soon as I could.

These lemon mascarpone cookies are full of bright lemon zest and creamy, slightly tart mascarpone; they’re soft and a little crumbly, not tough in the slightest. I think they are as refreshing as a cookie can be. You can make them even smaller than I did here so that they’re basically bite-size, or make them a little bigger for a more traditional-sized cookie. Either way, they are the perfect simple dessert for those hot days that are certainly coming soon.

Lemon Mascarpone Cookies

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (smooth and chunky both work)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (I used dark brown and it was good!)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • For sprinkling: 1 tablespoon sugar, regular or superfine

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Then in a large bowl, mix together the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt.
  2. In another large bowl, beat together the butter and the peanut butter until they are fully mixed and begin to be fluffy. Add in the sugar and brown sugar and mix together until fully combined. Then add the egg, and mix until fully incorporated. Then add the milk and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, and then stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips.
  3. Place sprinkling sugar (about 1 tablespoon of sugar) on a plate. Drop the cookie dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar,and then put them on ungreased cookie sheets. Allow space in between the cookies. Then use a fork to flatten each cookie, making a crossed pattern on top, but leave each cookie still slightly rounded. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes. Try not to overbake them - they may still look a little underdone when you pull them out but they will firm up after taking them out of the oven.
  4. Allow them to cool a bit on their baking sheets and then move them to a cooling rack to fully cool down.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen (& the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook)

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http://www.inthiskitchen.com/2016/05/14/chocolate-chip-peanut-butter-cookies/
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies on www.inthiskitchen.com

chocolate chip peanut butter cookies [ inthiskitchen.com ]

It has been nothing but rain, rain, rain here for the past, oh, 2 weeks. Honestly, it hasn’t been bothering me much – as long as it’s not cold outside, I don’t mind the rain. It feels refreshing and maybe being from Arizona makes me appreciate it more. I know when summer hits and we are all outside in the blazing sun we will be wishing for weather like this!

The rain does mean more staying inside though, and staying inside often makes me want to cook and bake. I actually made these chocolate chip peanut butter cookies a while back, but have been waiting to share them here.

chocolate chip peanut butter cookies [ inthiskitchen.com ]

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Lemon Cake with Raspberry Amaretto Sauce

Lemon Cake with Raspberry Amaretto Sauce | in this kitchen

Lemon Cake with Raspberry Amaretto Sauce | in this kitchen

It’s gotten to the point where I’m able to sit and type this out with both windows in my living room open, looking out onto the little courtyard outside our apartment, that now offers plenty of green trees and birds making their little bird-sounds. Soon the apartment will turn back on the mini waterfall-and-river water feature out there too, a little stream that winds its way around a little bridge and stops at the waterfall near the outdoor grills. It’s one of my favorite things about this apartment, and it really is best in spring and summer, which are finally showing their faces around here. It is my favorite thing when the weather picks up and makes the world feel livable again (can you tell I’m from the hot desert?).

This lemon cake with raspberry amaretto sauce completely feels like spring & summer to me. They’d be great any time, but there is lots of fresh lemon zest throughout the cake and sweet and tart raspberries poured onto the top, and it ends up being refreshing and still decadent. Ina Garten can do no wrong with her cake recipes.

Lemon Cake with Raspberry Amaretto Sauce | in this kitchen

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Easy Coffee and Walnut Cake

Coffee and Walnut Cake Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

Coffee and Walnut Cake Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

Howcome no one told me it was so hard to frost cakes?? Well, okay, actually I’ve heard that a million times, but… they make it look so easy on TV! You can see my amateur cake frosting on this coffee and walnut cake here, but I promise you that this cake was very straightforward and easy to make, and for anyone with even a *little* bit of experience frosting cakes, I’m sure you’ll have a far prettier cake than I did. And this cake is so, so good that it doesn’t matter how “homespun” (to use Nigella Lawson’s term) it looks – it will be devoured.

This cake has walnuts throughout the batter, walnuts that have been whizzed up with sugar in the food processor, creating the most delicious walnut-sugar powder (I admit, I tried it straight out of the food processor). And yes, basically the whole shebang – batter and frosting – can all be made in your food processor (thanks, Nigella!).

Coffee and Walnut Cake Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

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Dark Chocolate Ricotta Cake

Dark Chocolate Ricotta Cake Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

Dark Chocolate Ricotta Cake Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

I’m a big fan of a humble cake.

There are so many unbelievably gorgeous cakes out there that are works of art, that are so beautiful you hesitate to cut into them – my boyfriend works for a high-end bakery that specializes in just these kinds of cakes, so around here we don’t exactly have a pressing need to make multilayer tiered and frosted cakes at home.

So enter the humble cake; it’s a quick batter – made even quicker if you weigh your ingredients rather than measure them – that comes out perfectly crackly on the top and then gets a snowshower of powdered sugar. This ricotta dark chocolate cake is one of these cakes. It’s not very sweet, but is deeply chocolatey, goes incredibly well with whipped cream, and is the perfect accompaniment to coffee or tea.

Dark Chocolate Ricotta Cake Recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

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anzac cookies

Anzac Cookies recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

Anzac Cookies recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

It’s been a good couple of days off of work. The Big Scary Blizzard came and went from DC, leaving behind it mini-mountains of snow and a 4-foot long, 1-foot thick huge icicle outside my apartment. I’ve been vacillating between being parked at my kitchen breakfast bar, where I like to sit around on my laptop, to the kitchen itself to cook simple meals, and to the bed where I relax and watch through the fourth season of Angel on Netflix.

There’s a very different feel to snow days than there are to any other time off from work. To me it feels like a gift, an unexpected swath of time, and because of that I oddly feel pressured to make the most of it. I can’t go outside, so I might as well do something with my time inside, right? So I tweaked some things here and there around this blog, as well as finding a ton of new recipes I want to try out once I’m able to get to a grocery store again. That feels slightly productive, even if it’s not much, and it makes me feel less guilty about the aforementioned lounging.

In any case, today I come with a recipe for wonderful little cookies (or biscuits) known as Anzac cookies. The lore of the Anzac cookie (Anzac being an acronym for Australian & New Zealand Army Corps) is that they were sent to soldiers in World War I, because they don’t contain eggs or milk, and therefore won’t spoil in the post. They’re rich, and slightly deep and molasses-y from the brown sugar, with a golden color and flavor. They are usually made with golden syrup (such as Lyle’s), but I couldn’t find it anywhere and so substituted it with honey. It’s still fantastic.

Anzac Cookies recipe on www.inthiskitchen.com

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cinnamon roll cake

Cinnamon Roll Cake on www.inthiskitchen.com

cinnamon roll cake [ inthiskitchen.com ]

I remember my first recipe very well. I really don’t know how old I was when I made it, maybe… somewhere between 7 and 10 years old? But I remember the day I made it quite vividly. It was for “dough roll cinnamons,” which I creatively spelled “doo roll cinamins,” which consisted of plush Wonder Bread-style white bread, ripped into pieces, rolled into balls, coated in butter, and dipped in cinnamon sugar. Then they were baked in the little toaster oven until heated through and the outside got a nice crunch. I was beaming and proud of my recipe on the day I made it, and though I hope I’ve moved on to a bit more advanced recipes by now, I don’t think I’d balk at eating a few dough roll cinnamons even today.

Here’s my recipe in all its glory, which, bless her, my mom saved:

do-roll cinnamons

In any case, today’s recipe is in a similar vein flavor-profile wise, but I must admit it is much better than a little dough-roll cinnamon. It’s a cinnamon roll cake, which I had to try after seeing the recipe and its gorgeous photos, because it just looked irresistible. It turned out exactly how I’d expected: super soft cake with its insides swirled with cinnamon sugar, and a crackly top that gets a good drizzle of sweet cream cheese icing. It’s certainly decadent, but that’s what this time of year is for, no?

cinnamon roll cake [ inthiskitchen.com ]

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deeply toasted coconut pecan granola

deeply toasted coconut pecan granola [ inthiskitchen.com ]

Reading Molly Wizenberg’s Orangette gets me to make a lot of things that I would never ordinarily consider making. Her writing is downright enchanting, and the woman could make a sauteed shoe sound good. And I know, I know, everyone already knows and loves her blog – But I especially like browsing the archives of the site and finding fantastic recipes from before the days of Pinterest, from before everyone just tried to make the latest one-pot, low-cal, gluten-free, “tastes just like cake I swear!” recipes that are infinitely able to go viral and garner hits. Molly’s site has always focused on 1) great writing, and 2) great recipes. And really, that’s why I trust the recipes she posts, and when she says a granola is deeply toasty, nearly “shatters” when eaten, verges on savory, yet still has a fair glug of maple syrup running through it… I make that granola. Even though I’ve never made granola before, and didn’t think I even really liked most granolas. Those days, my friend, are over.

deeply toasted coconut pecan granola [ inthiskitchen.com ]

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