very delicious tahini chocolate chip cookies


As previously documented, I've grown quite a fondness for chocolate chip cookies... and specifically having them at the ready in the freezer. I'm currently on my second batch of these tahini cookies and see many more in my future.

I found these by pretty much just looking for unique chocolate chip cookies. There is a New York Times recipe that gets top billing on Google, but I hate paywalls.... so I ended up on Food52. The real hidden gem of this recipe is that it has no dairy in it. It could not be easier. Often when getting ready to make cookies I find myself waiting for frozen butter to defrost. A rather terrible punishment. 

The only bad part of this recipe is that tahini is not normally on my grocery list. I'm not quite sure where to find it at my local grocery store. A problem that I'm willing to solve because these are just that good.

8 ounces tahini (1 scant cup)
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chunks 
  1. Heat the oven to 375° F. Line a couple sheet pans with parchment or silicone mats.
  2. Combine the tahini, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium for a couple minutes, scraping down with a rubber spatula once or twice. It will be crumbly, not creamy.
  3. Add the eggs, water, and vanilla extract. Continue to mix on medium for another couple minutes, again scraping every so often. 
  4. Add the salt and baking soda. Mix on low just to combine. Add the flour and mix until almost combined. Now add the chocolate chips and mix again.
  5. Scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto the prepared sheet pans. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes until the edges are turning golden brown but the centers are still tender. 

rhubarb blueberry anytime cake


Fun fact? I've had some rhubarb in my fridge for quite some time just begging for a tasty recipe. But it wasn't until I was on a random Zoom call this week for a consulting project that I got the right inspiration. A girl I was meeting with commented that her morning was starting off great because she had just eaten some rhubarb cake ... and with that I was off and running.

The original recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen but I tweaked it a bit to fit what I had in my house. I was out of sour cream and I didn't have any lemons. I also love blueberries in baked goods so it was a must they be added. The blueberries are actually left over from last year's harvest. I always get a kick out of eating from my freezer.

I believe this cake is best eaten with a little bit of ice cream or whip cream. I have eaten it at every time of the day and can confidently say that all you need is a fork to enjoy it. Whip cream is just a nice added bonus.

1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths
1/3 pound blueberries
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups  all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/3 cup heavy cream / whole milk (something like that)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch baking pan with butter or a nonstick cooking spray, then line the bottom with parchment paper, extending the lengths up two sides.
  2. Stir together rhubarb, blueberry, lemon juice and 2/3 cup sugar and set aside. 
  3. Beat butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at at time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Whisk together flour, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon table salt and ground ginger together in a small bowl. Add one-third of this mixture to the batter, mixing until just combined. Continue, adding half the milk, the second third of the flour mixture, the remaining sour cream, and then the remaining flour mixture, mixing between each addition until just combined.
  4. Dollop batter over prepared pan, then use a spatula — offset, if you have one, makes this easiest — to spread the cake into an even, thin layer. Pour the rhubarb mixture over the cake, spreading it into an even layer (most pieces should fit in a tight, single layer).
  5. Stir together the crumb mixture, first whisking the flour, brown sugar, table salt and cinnamon together, then stirring in the melted butter with a spoon or fork. Scatter evenly over rhubarb layer. Bake cake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. It will be golden on top. 

coconut cake with marshmellow frosting


I had the great honor recently to make a gender reveal cake. I spent a good amount of time thinking about this task. My primary goal was to make a delicious cake that didn't immediately reveal whether it would be blue or pink inside. I didn't want the recipient to know immediately once the knife hit the cake.

The end result was a funfetti coconut layer cake. I only made the middle layer blue so as to minimize the excessive amount of food coloring. The other special part of this cake was the marshmallow frosting. I have never made this before and will absolutely be making it again soon. The frosting was very easy to make provided you have a candy thermometer. This cake provided a great opportunity to baptize my offset frosting spatula. 

This cake is rather unique but really quite great. It's been about a month since I first made the cake so it is hard to remember exactly but it has a slightly different texture given it is dairy free and uses only egg whites. When combined with the marshmallow frosting it is really a home run. I made myself a little cake bite with the leftover trimmings and dear lord was that delicious.

coconut cake ingredients (from Baking A Moment)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt (scant)
13.66 fluid ounces coconut milk (1 can)*
1 cup oil (any neutral-flavored oil that is liquid at room temp will work)
2 egg whites (large)
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, lightly mist three 6-inch diameter cake pans with non-stick spray, and line them with circles cut from parchment.
  2. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to combine.
  3. Place the coconut milk, oil, egg whites, and coconut extract in another bowl, and whisk to combine.
  4. Add the coconut milk mixture to the flour mixture, and whisk together until smooth.
  5. Divide the batter equally between the 3 prepared pans, and bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes out clean (about 35 to 45 minutes).
  6. Cool completely, then fill and frost the cake with marshmallow frosting and coat it with shredded coconut.
marshmallow frosting ingredients (from Baking A Moment)
5 egg whites, large
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
2 cups sugar, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup water
  1. Place the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in a large mixing bowl and whip on medium speed until foamy.
  2. While continuing to whip, add 1 cup of the sugar in a very slow and steady stream (about 1 teaspoon at a time).
  3. Once the entire cup of sugar has been added, continue to whip until the meringue can hold stiff peaks.
  4. Whip in the vanilla extract, and continue to stir the meringue on low speed while you prepare the hot sugar syrup.
  5. Place the remaining 1 cup of sugar in a small pot, along with the water.
  6. Place the pot over medium heat and cook until the syrup boils and reaches 235 degrees F.
  7. In a very slow and steady stream, add the hot sugar syrup to the meringue, while continuing to whip on low speed.
  8. When all the syrup has been added, turn the mixer up to high speed and whip until very stiff and glossy.

seasonal love affair


I'm not sure if peony season came on schedule this year or not, but it did show up and that is frankly all that matters.

My peony plants on the South side of the house had such a strong showing in their second year. Very proud of those babes. The only downside is they get so much sun that the season for them feels faster than the rest of my neighborhood. The good news is that I have other peonies that I can easily access to get my sniff on. My Aunt kindly lets me steal time with her peonies ... which we've since learned Siri autocorrects to "panties". 

My peony inventory:
  • 6 on the South Side, year 2 of blooming. bought from Lowe's. added cages for support this year. fertilized with a low nitrogen fertilizer in the spring and fungicide last fall.
  • 2 on the North Side, year 1 of blooming. bought them from Whole Foods last year. Minimal blooms but it was the first year. added cages for support this year. fertilized with a low nitrogen fertilizer in the spring and fungicide last fall. 
  • Recently added 2 more to the North Side. bought from Lowe's
For reference, here are some prior peony posts: 20172016201520142013, and 2012.

so it's been a bit

I haven't been blogging in quite some time. It is not as though there hasn't been things to write about either. Plenty of good stuff happening. Perhaps not as many kitchen adventures - but still things to document.

Blogging before used to be a healthy combination of a break from my job and a commuting activity. In the 10 years that I've been blogging, the prior 8 (?) I commuted to a job  ... and in some cases a job that was in a whole other state. So why am I writing less? I think I'm enjoying my life more. I do also have a whole house to take care of. I've started my own consulting business. I'm more social with my neighbors. 

In 2016, I would have spent a July Sunday night sitting on my itty bitty fire escape writing up a post about the weekend or the latest recipe that I made in my wonky North End kitchen. In 2020, I now spend it puttering around my garden, pulling a random weed every couple steps, and catching up with a neighbor over my hedge. I specifically keep my hedge at just the right height for two things: ease of trimming and ease of chatting.

That being said, I have several posts that should be written. I'd like to be a tiny bit better about writing here but I also know that the reasons for not writing as often are pretty wonderful.
© WHAT JEN DOES • Theme by Maira G.