New Year, New York

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Hope you all had a wonderful New Year's Eve. Whether you welcomed the year with friends, family, or with some tipsy strangers-- I hope your 2014 proves to be the best yet! By that I mean, I hope this year is full of inspiration and innovation. Trust yourself to take that adventure, push your boundaries, love the person you've grown into. Much better than starting that no-carb diet, right?

Throw out your ridiculous resolutions. It'll be ok, I promise. This first post of the year is dedicated to the most iconic New Year's Eve city... New York, NEW YORK. I wanted to showcase this magical time of year as well as pair that with a dessert that I feel best represents N.Y.C.! I'm so incredibly grateful for all of you and for the constant challenge and growth this blog continues brings to me. Cheers to 2014 and here's to another year!

{pretzel at Tiffany's}

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If you haven't seen the documentary Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's, check it out immediately on Netflix! This year's theme was a dedication to all holidays-- each window was a separate day such as Fourth of July, Arbor Day, Valentine's Day, etc. Always a creative surprise from Bergdorf's and never a shortage of spectacular!

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And now onto the dessert! This cheesecake is simplicity at its best. I don't add any caramel sauce or fruit, not a single strawberry or cherry! It would be delicious with those additions of course, but I just like it as is. I do add a hint of lemon zest to the cheesecake batter as well as a sour cream topping. Sounds more complicated than it really is. In all honesty, this recipe is so straightforward-- everyone will be so impressed with your new year baking feats. Make it for that cheesecake lover in your life which in my case, is myself.

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If you're like me, the most tedious part will be the graham cracker crust. Not because of the ingredients, but because it takes forever to make the edges perfectly level!

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I think this took me a solid 15 minutes. But so worth it! The rest of the cheesecake is very easy. Even the lemon zest/juice is optional but I think it adds a hint of brightness to this rich dessert.

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New York cheesecake makes about 10-12 servings

Crust:

  • 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 whole crackers)
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Filling:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 (8 ounce blocks) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 

Topping:

  • 1 pint (2 cups) sour cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 

(1) Preheat oven to 350°F. (2) In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 3 tablespoons of sugar together until well combined. (3) Press into a 9″ spring form pan, pressing crumbs into bottom of pan.    (4) In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the 1 cup sugar and softened cream cheese; beat together until smooth about 3-4 minutes. (5) Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. (6) Add the vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and beat just until smooth and creamy. You don’t want to whip too much air into it (this causes cracks on the top, but you shouldn’t have lumps of cream cheese). Pour into crust. (7) Bake for 35-45 minutes. (8) While cheesecake is baking, make the topping by mixing together the sour cream, ½ cup sugar, vanilla, and salt. (9) After baking, remove cheesecake from oven and turn oven temperature down to 325°F degrees. Pour sour cream topping over hot cheesecake, gently spreading to edges. (10)      Return cheesecake to oven and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes. (11)      Remove cheesecake from oven and leave sides on pan while allowing cheesecake to cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate several hours (or overnight) (12)      Remove edges of spring form pan before serving. A knife dipped in hot water makes for easier slicing.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 14 {compost cookies}

compostcookie Of all the Momofuku Milk Bar cookies, this one is the most daring. If you love desserts that have a salty-sweet combination then this one is FOR YOU.

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This cookie has EVERYTHING. potato chips... chocolate chips... pretzels... those chips that happen when butter and scotch have a baby...

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Now, I love salted caramel and have been dipping my Ruffles chips in Häagen-Dazs since I was four but even I was a bit scared with how they would turn out. Not because of the components themselves, but because when I had this cookie from the actual Milk Bar store, I found it a bit underwhelming. The ingredients list on the label said there were potato chips (my favorite!) and graham crackers (another favorite!) yet I couldn't taste any of these in the cookie. It was a bit disappointing but I still ate it... kinda like when you realize the Real Housewives episode you're watching is a rerun but you watch it anyway because it's still pretty entertaining.

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So after I finished making these, I taste tested one of my cookies and realized, this is no rerun, this is the deluxe season set with director's commentary! That analogy doesn't really make any sense but essentially I'm trying to tell you that they are pure salty-sweet decadence. And you should make them as soon as humanly possible (after you finish that episode you're watching of course).

The key to this dough is to not overmix the batter, otherwise the individual pieces of salty snacks become crushed in the buttery cookie dough and lose their beauty. I think that since the Milk Bar mixes their batter in such large batches, the machinery overdoes the mixing (I'm sorry Milk Bar, I still love you!). To avoid this, I even saved a handful of pretzels and potato chips to press into the top of each cookie dough mound before baking. Even compost should be beautiful.

{love watching cookies bake}

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compost cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar makes 15 to 20 cookies

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks, 225g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup (150g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons (50g) glucose [can substitute with 1 tablespoon corn syrup]
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cups (225g) flour [King Arthur’s bread flour]
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.5g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (150g) mini chocolate chips
  • ½ cup (100g) mini butterscotch chips [I used regular because I'm convinced mini do not exist]
  • ¼ recipe (85g, ½ cup) Graham Crust, recipe follows
  • ⅓ cup (40g) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2½ teaspoons (5g) ground coffee
  • 2 cups (50g) potato chips [Cape Cod recommended]
  • 1 cup (50g) mini pretzels [Snyder's recommended]

(1) Combine the butter, sugars, and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes. (2) Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk overmixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. (3) Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oats, and coffee and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and pretzels and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips. You deserve a pat on the back if one of your cookies bakes off with a whole pretzel standing up in the center. (4) Using a 2¾-ounce ice cream scoop (or a ⅓-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—they will not bake properly. (5) Heat the oven to 375°F. [I always do 350°F] (6) Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes [13-15 minutes is plenty]. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case. (7) Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

Graham Crust makes about 340g (2 cups)

  • 1½ cups (190g) graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup (20g) milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick, 55g) butter, melted, or as needed
  • ¼ cup (55g) heavy cream [can be omitted]

(1) Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients. (2) Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ tablespoons) butter and mix it in. (3) Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 13 {cheesecake ice cream}

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Ice cream is not a seasonal food but it tastes especially good during the summer, doesn't it? Eaten in a cool air conditioned room, of course.

Cheesecake ice cream is actually one of my favorite flavors (the graham crackers are a necessity) so I was very excited to make this recipe. While traditional ice cream bases require the technique of tempering egg yolks in heated cream, in this recipe the egg is baked in the liquid cheesecake thus no risk of scrambled eggs in your ice cream.

If you have an ice cream machine, it comes together in a pinch! Unfortunately, I don't have space in my New York apartment for one so I maximized on my visit home and used my mom's... it was a mutually beneficial exchange. My mom is actually quite the ice cream fiend-- a lean mean Häagen-Dazs eating machine.  One time I found a photo of her in the late 80's smiling proudly, showcasing a delicious Häagen-Dazs cone in one hand. And a baby (me) dangling in her other hand. The fact that the ice cream took priority only makes me proud to be her daughter.

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Originally, this ice cream is meant to be eaten as soft serve as it's sold at the Momofuku Milk Bar stores. I can see why, because once completely frozen, you might as well be scooping marble! When slightly thawed though, it's worth the wrist pain. You could even add some strawberries or blueberries during the churning process to make it even more summer appropriate. Or better yet go all out and sandwich it between some blueberry and cream, confetti, or corn cookies. Again, this is completely fine to eat all year round no matter what season.

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cheesecake ice cream from Momofuku Milk Bar makes about 450g (1 pint)

  • 1 gelatin sheet (½ teaspoon powdered gelatin)
  • 1 cup (220g) milk
  • ½ recipe Liquid Cheesecake
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) sour cream
  • ½ cup (85g, ¼ recipe) Graham Crust
  • ¼ cup (20g) milk powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt

(1) Bloom the gelatin. (2) Warm a little bit of the milk and whisk in the gelatin to dissolve. (3) Transfer the gelatin mixture to a blender, add the remaining milk, the liquid cheesecake, sour cream, graham crust, milk powder, and salt, and puree until smooth and even. Don’t be stingy on the blending time: you want to make sure the graham crust is completely liquefied; otherwise your cheesecake ice cream will be missing that flavor. (4) Pour the ice cream base through a fine-mesh sieve into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream is best spun just before serving or using, but it will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Liquid Cheesecake makes about 325g (1¼ cups)

  • 8 ounces (225g) cream cheese
  • ¾ cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (6g) cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) milk
  • 1 egg

(1)   Heat the oven to 300° F. (2)   Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar has been completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl (3)   Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream, then whisk in the egg until the slurry is homogenous. (4)   With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg slurry. Paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (5)   Line the bottom and sides of a 6x6 inch baking pan with plastic wrap. Poor the cheesecake batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Gently shake the pan. The cheesecake should be firmer and more set toward the outer boundaries of the baking pan but still be jiggly and loose in the dead center. If the cheesecake is jiggly all over, give it 5 minutes more. And 5 minutes more if it needs it, but it’s never taken me more then 25 minutes to underbake one. If the cheesecake rises more than a ¼ inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately. (6)   Cool the cheesecake completely, to finish the baking process and allow the cheesecake to set. The final product will resemble a cheesecake, but it will be pipeable and pliable enough to easily spread or smear, while still having body and volume. Once cool, the cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Graham Crust makes about 340g (2 cups)

  • 1½ cups (190g) graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup (20g) milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick, 55g) butter, melted, or as needed
  • ¼ cup (55g) heavy cream

(1) Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients. (2) Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ tablespoons) butter and mix it in. (3) Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

key lime pie

While I consider myself a Nashville girl, deep deep down inside I'm actually from Miami. Yep, that was the first place my parents lived when they moved to the States and where I was born and raised until I was two. Palm trees, Cuban music, art deco... and I remember none of it. One of the few things that I like to think does link me to Miami however is my love of key lime pie.

Tart, creamy, with a graham cracker crust-- it's the perfect summer treat. Oddly enough I have never made key lime pie myself which is inexcusable as it's surprisingly easy to make. Don't take any shortcuts though. Make your own crust, squeeze fresh limes, whip the sweetened cream. You'll thank me. As did my coworkers.

 

Another plus is that it requires limited oven time which is FANTASTIC when your NY apartment has no air conditioning in the kitchen and temperatures have spiked to triple digits!!! Stay calm, Margaret. Just keep eating pie...

Key Lime Pie adapted from Joe's Stone Crab

  • 12 graham cracker rectangles (the large 4 section ones)
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon key lime zest
  • ⅔ cup key lime juice (I just used regular limes... shhh)
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream

(1)  Preheat oven to 350° F. (2)  Crush the graham crackers in a food processor or large Ziploc bag. Pour them into a bowl and stir in the ¼ cup sugar, melted butter, and salt. (3)  Press the crumbs into a pie or tart pan (the bottom of a measuring cup or glass works best) and bake for 10 minutes until golden and set. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. (4)  In a mixing bowl, whisk together lime zest, lime juice, and egg yolks. Add in sweetened condensed milk and mix on high until smooth and thick. Pour the mixture into crust and bake for 15 minutes. (5)  Remove from oven and allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. (6)  To make the whipped cream, beat together the heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a large clean bowl. Whip on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. (7) Decorate the chilled pie with sweetened whipped cream and more grated lime zest before serving.