Monday, December 17, 2007
People often ask Alex and me if it is difficult living near a trendy NYC bakery, the kind with the mind-bogglingly long cupcake lines outside at what seems like all hours. It probably would be if I found their generic cupcakes, brownies and cheesecakes more tempting but come on, this is me and you just know I think I make these better in my tiny kitchen.
Of course, this completely excludes their peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, a recipe I have been promising you I’d conquer for so long, I can’t believe you all haven’t organized a mutiny yet in disgust–especially when you learn that the recipe had been at my fingertips the whole time, it just hadn’t occurred to me.
It circles back to so much of what I just don’t *get* about these trendy bakeries. Their recipes are so generic–1-2-3-4 cupcakes with back-of-the-box butter cream frosting; chocolate chip cookies not any better than Toll House; Hello Dolly bars that they neither invented nor make better than the least baking-inclined person you’ve ever met–I fail to see what’s queue-forming worthy about them. [Then again, I don't believe in waiting on a line for anything in a city this big, and oh, I bake regularly at home, so of course I don't get it. But I digress.]
Not only are the baked goods unoriginal, there is a veritable family tree of bakeries simply stealing their former employer’s recipes and shop look-feel.
Continued after the jump »
Monday, October 1, 2007
It’s amazing to me, and crushing to Alex, that in the year that I have posted to this site I have not produced a single peanut butter recipe. How could this be? I love peanut butter. I have waxed poetic about the peanut butter cookies from Billy’s Bakery more than once. Reeses Peanut Butter Cups are the only widely-distributed candy I consider ‘worth it.’ I am weak in the knees in the face of it, to the point that I actually make an effort to not buy any. It’s just not safe around me. Armed with a spoon and the door to the fridge swung open, it gets ugly. There is safety in distance.
And yet. I have such a soft spot for the Letters section of Gourmet Magazine, and in this month’s a reader requests the peanut butter brownie recipe from one Butterwood Desserts in West Falls, New York. Trying to fight off the craving, I immediately picked it apart. First of all, most peanut butter cakes and such are lackluster; the flavor is always too subtle for me and I question why we need to add flour, butter and sugar to something so perfect unadorned on a spoon. Second, when it comes to frosting brownies, I am staunchly “anti.” A great brownie shouldn’t need an extra slick of chocolate on top to make it work, and too often these frostings are cloyingly sweet and used to hide a quite average brownie underneath. My brownie recipes require no such pimping out.
Continued after the jump »