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Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours Hardcover – October 19, 2010
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Fall into Cooking Featured Recipe from Sarabeth Levine's Sarabeth's Bakery: Chocolate Chubbies
I have been making this cookie for close to 30 years, and not a day goes by that we don’t make them and sell every last one. It’s the most asked for recipe in the book. What I love about these cookies is that if you eat them soon after they come out of the oven the chocolate chips are so meltingly delicious, it’s like being in chocolate heaven. --Sarabeth Levine
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
9 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (no more than 62% cacao), finely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups superfine sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups (5 ½ ounces) coarsely chopped pecans
1 ¼ cups (4 ½ ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts
Position racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper.
Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over low heat. Put the butter in a wide, heatproof bowl, and melt the butter over the hot water in the saucepan. Add the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate, stirring often, until melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cooled slightly but still warm, about 5 minutes.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Whip the eggs in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until the eggs are foamy and lightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar, then the vanilla. Whip until the eggs are very thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the tepid chocolate, making sure it is completely incorporated. Change to the paddle attachment and reduce the mixer speed to low. Gradually add the flour mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate chips, pecans, and walnuts, making sure the chunky ingredients are evenly distributed at the bottom of the bowl.The dough will be somewhat soft.
Using a 2-inch ice-cream scoop, portion the batter onto the prepared pans, placing the cookies about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake the cookies immediately—if you wait, they won’t be shiny after baking. Bake, switching the position of the pans from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through baking, until the cookies are set around the edges (if you lift a cookie from the pan, the edges should release easily, even if the center of the cookie seems underdone), 17 to 20 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool completely on the baking pans. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, with the layers separated by parchment paper, for up to 3 days.)
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. From her modest beginnings selling fruit spreads, jams, and preserves in specialty shops and opening a bakery café "on what was then a distinctly inelegant Amsterdam Avenue on Manhattan's Upper West Side," the James Beard Award-winning pastry chef's star, like her dough, continues to rise. These days, Levine focuses on growing her brand and expanding into a number of other New York neighborhoods and Key West, Fla. Now, in her first cookbook, she gives a historical overview of Sarabeth's and offers scrumptious descriptions of the baked treats she and her staff regularly make. Chapters cover morning pastries, muffins, breads, pies, cakes, and cookies in great detail. Though recipes calling for homemade puff pastry or croissant dough may prove too complicated for the average home cook, they provide a challenge to the ambitious. Sections on spoon desserts like Crème Brûlée, chocolate and bread puddings, ice creams and sorbets, and spreadable fruits (the item that helped Levine launch Sarabeth's three decades ago) add to the appeal of this handsome volume. Photos.
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Top Customer Reviews
Word of warning, this book is not for the faint of heart. Some of the recipes are wonderfully simple (e.g., the preserves, cookies), but many of them have a number of steps. At least, the ones I've tried do. She is excellent at explaining which steps can be done ahead, which is a godsend. And you really do feel great when your recipe turns out. She does not shy away from listing the materials that are ideal for a recipe, but as someone who does not plan to turn into a baking machine, I make do with the materials I have on hand. My substitutions have been fine (e.g., one kind of rolling pin, not two or three; regular round cake pans, not special cake rings for layering). I don't skimp on the ingredients, but there is nothing exotic listed -- cake flour, bread flour, butter, sugar, etc. She has a great tip for working with vanilla beans, btw, but she also tells you when pure vanilla extract will do.
If you feel like taking a shot at baking, this book is very worth your effort. And if you are already an accomplished baker, I'm guessing you'll still love the luscious recipes in the book.
Update 11/21/10 - made the croissants over the weekend. They were way, way easier to make than I expected, and they were perfectly flakey and delicious -- a huge hit in the house. Total time I spent measuring, mixing and rolling was maybe half an hour. The rest of the time the dough just sits. I've read the directions in other books for how to make croissants, and the method Sarabeth came up with is dramatically easier than anything else I've seen. It's worth the price of the book on its own. Next I'm going to try the puff pastry and make some turnovers.
btw -- the size of the croissants she provides are about half the size of bakery croissants. It's a nice size for a party or if you don't want overkill. To have a typical bakery-size croissant, I roll out to a single 24" x 8" rectangle, and then mark a 6" base for each croissant. It took a bit of trial and error to come to these measurements, so I thought I'd share them.
But pastries? That's out of our reach...until now. In the first week I had this book, I made almond croissants, apple turnovers, and palmiers. I'm next looking at the danish recipe, not to mention the fruit tarts & biscuits.
This book breaks things down to the level of the home baker. There are instructions for each step of the process, and many helpful pictures for some of the more difficult steps (i.e. doing double turns to your puff pastry dough). The photographs of the finished products make you long to bake - they are incredibly luscious & mouth-watering.
There's a very helpful introduction that describes some of the more specialized ingredients in the recipes & what the differences are between (for example) a vanilla bean & vanilla extract.
Note: while many of the recipes are intimidating for the length of time they take to make, many don't actually require you to be present for that entire time. You can be doing other things while waiting for the dough to rise or chill. What DOES take time is the freezing period - anywhere from one day to one week - before some items can be baked. It's hard to wait that long! It may also be hard to plan that far in advance to know when you will need to make a recipe.
Substitutions: if you're like me, you don't have rum lying around the house & are not about to go out & buy a bottle to get the 1/2 tsp needed. So I improvised w/ molasses & water. I also was not about to make apple preserves from scratch to make the filling for apple turnovers. So I cheated with canned filling. All this to say, don't be afraid to make the recipes work for your situation. Yes, they won't be exactly like the "real" recipes, but you have to make some judgement calls with how much you're willing to do & spend.
This book has opened a whole new world of baking & I can't wait to try more recipes!