17 February 2010

Thomas Keller OREO

TKO – Thomas Keller Oreo Recipe

What makes these cookies so drop dead gorgeous is the sublime duo of salty chocolate cookies sandwiching a perfect white chocolate ganache cream. And for those of you who are less than ecstatic when it comes to white chocolate, not to worry, the taste is so subtle you will find yourself converted.

So it is no wonder that my colleague Claire was, and still is addicted to TKO‘s: Thomas Keller‘s ‘grown-up’ Oreo cookies. This my friends is no small food craving, we are talking about a woman making a bee-line to the Bouchon Bakery once a day, 5 days a week to buy not 1 but 2 of these pancake sized cookies. You are getting the picture here…

As  I apparently have not lived until I’ve tried a TKO, and short of asking Bouchon to FedEx me a care package, I thought I’d make them myself.  This is Thomas Keller’s original recipe from the ‘Essence of Chocolate‘ cookbook.

See link ‘Oreo‘ below for the recipe:




13 May 2009


SHORTBREAD : I have always liked butter…. but in small quantities – feeling that too much of a good thing overwhelms the pleasures of the palate. Unfortunately, when I was a little girl my grandfather did not share these sentiments, and when asked to make us sandwiches for tea, he was prone to far more generous layers of butter, than bread & cucumber combined. There was then a mad dash to remove 90% of the golden spread & hide it in a napkin, before he returned to check that everything was ok!

All this being said, there is one area of baking where the less is more butter philosophy is brought into question – this being sablé (shortbread) cookie making. Butter is the defining building block, the foundation of this biscuit, without which you would be left with smiply flour & sugar. It’s quality is therefore of the utmost importance and once you have tasted these cookies, home made with fresh butter, you understand why the storebought variety always seems to have this slightly unpleasant aftertaste … it’s the butter.

It reminds me of the final scene in the movie ‘Mostly Martha’, where Martha (a famous Hamburg Chef) tastes the lemon tart her psychiatrist has prepared for her, using her recipe.

  • some thing’s not right… she says
  • how can that be? I followed your instructions to the letter?… he replies
  • you heated the oven to exactly 210°?
  • yes
  • you didn’t over knead the pastry?
  • no
  • and the sugar, did you use Belgian sugar?
  • Do you mean to say that you can tell what kind of sugar I used?
  • No, of course not, but I can tell what kind you DIDN’T use!



19 February 2009



JUST CALL ME MELLOW YELLOW : Field Guide to Butter & Baking

Recently I have been reading the book TASTE by Kate Colquhoun, in which she describes the creation of English butter as an accident! When people travelled, cream was stored in leather pouches, which bumped and jostled along the route, until it thickened and turned into butter.

I remember learing how to make butter in kindergarden, it was like a field trip – but in the classroom! First we had to quietly get into a straight line (which was easier said than done for 15 little girls) and then each of us was given a glass jar, into which the teacher poured lovely thick cream. Tightly closing the lid, we shook the jars, watching in amazement as pale yellow islands gradually formed. Pouring out the remaining milk, we pressed the butter to remove excess water, rinsed & dried each cube & voila homemade butter!

Butter may have been simple to make but I’ve found that  it can be delicate to cook with, especially when it comes to baking. The New York Times has a great article on how butter holds the key to making great cookie, which seemed particularly appropriate to my current post, as one of only three main ingredients used is BUTTER!

THE BUTTER GUIDE – Here is a snippet:

  • Cold butters ability to hold air is the key to prefect dough / pastry!
  • Creaming butter softens it & adds the air bubbles
  • Preparing refrigerated butter for creaming: Cut butter into cubes, spread out on a plate & leave at room temp (do not use microwave or oven)
  • Ready to cream test: when butter is still cool but takes a finger imprint when gently pressed
  • Cream for at least 3 minutes at medium speed




ROAD TRIP – ok that’s not 100% true as I took a plane, so it’s PLANE trip…  and that just doesn’t have the same ring now does it. Oh well.  

Point being, I went to visit my brother in Holland this past weekend. Didn’t really know what to expect – outside the lovely architecture, Dutch paintings & Amsterdam’s claims to fame (wacky tabcky & the dancing shows…) But I was really there to see him so the rest was just details.  

Despite being warned that Holland was not one of the top 10 ten gastronomic heavens of this world,  (there was mention of much frying, mayonnaise & starchy carbs ), I still managed to followed my stomach around like a blood hound on the scent…

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5 December 2008



Leafing through my cookbooks in preparation for Christmas baking, I realised that cookie making really falls into three main categories:

  1. drop cookies
  2. cut-out cookies
  3. cylinder cookies

DROP COOKIES: are those that require just a finger and a spoon, to drop small quantities of dough onto cookies sheets. This is the no fuss no muss method, especially handy when baking with children.

CUT-OUT COOKIES: the pretty though time consuming cousin… involving the chilling & rolling out of dough, to make lovely shapes, that can be iced and decorated.

CYLINDER COOKIES:are made by rolling the dough into a cylindrical form & then slicing it into rounds. Often used to make shortbread cookies (sablés).

My recipe for honey almond cookies falls into the first category, for though I love making pretty cut-out cookies, and will soon be doing so for the holiday season, I often need a quick baking solution after work.

So where is the ‘click & sniff’ button when you really need it – there is a button for just about everything else now a days, and it would definately be worth while, as the scent of toasted almonds with caramelising honey, will leave you fainting from felicity.



5 November 2008

Chocolate cookies


Much of my mental cooking is done in bed….  Some people count sheep to fall asleep…. “not I”, said the duck, (yes it is the barn yard theme today … ), I find myself mulling over the contents of our kitchen cupboards! Ingredients to be used, combined, obtained – dreamily preparing what to cook or bake the next day. A perfect obsessions for the insomniac cook!

Soba noodles, broad beans & chickpeas (which reminds me, I must make some hummus), to the vanilla beans, saffron and pecans, past the buckwheat flour (oooh crèps for breakfast!), almond meal & rolled oats, ah yes the new molasses (I have plans for you!) – and what this hiding in the corner…. 2 bars of Cailler’s Cacao Extrême 74% dark chocolate! How could these have gone undetected for so long! My cupboard radar must be off.

That got the wheels turning. The cookie jar was empty & my chocolate chip recipe has been asking for a make-over … well not in so many words… but there just never seems to be enough chocolate….

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Click the link ‘Chocolate cookies’ for the recipe:



30 September 2008


C is for cookie …. well that all depends on where you come from. In England & Australia B is for Biscuit and in Spain G is for Galletas, whereas in Italy they have a completely different range of names from amaretti to biscotti.

Going back to the root of the English word ‘cookie’, we find that it was derived from the Dutch word koekje, meaning small/little cake. According to culinary historians, these little cakes were the product of chefs using small amounts of batter to test the heat of their ovens before baking. I will soon be taking a trip over to Holland, to visit my brother and to taste the local delicacies – he says they have excellent local cheese & yogurt, so I will be reporting back!

In regards to reporting back, each year I find that the decrease in autumn temperature, brings with it an increase in my desire to cook with fragrant spices. However when it comes to my spice rack, I fear I have lately been playing favourites ….  exploiting certain spices while marginalsing others to their traditional roles.

A good example of this is nutmeg – great for beshamel sauce, perfect for rice pudding and even better when used in savoury spinach quiche. But should that be all? Is that everything this little “nut” has to offer?? Perhaps I should be looking outside the recipe box, to the sweeter side of life. Which got me to thinking about my mother’s delicious sugar cookies and how nicely they would compliment the aromatic flavours of nutmeg. And as they say, whoever they are, the rest is history!



4 December 2007


AMARETTI These well known Italian almond cookies, get their name from the Italian word ‘amaro’ meaning ‘bitter’ as they are made with bitter almonds & ‘etti’ indicating that they are small. Don’t be scared off, as most of you know, these cookies are anything but bitter, and the ones I make are not small!

Though I have to say that the Nona’s out there must have a hidden family secret or simply a magic fairy in the pantry, that allows them to make this recipe perfectly every time. Let’s just say that I was a ‘virgin amaretti maker’ a ‘babe in the kitchen’ and was in serious need of 1. a pair of training wheels 2. a Nona with a black belt in Italian patisserie and 3. to “borrow” that little magic fairy….

As my 1st attempt produced a very sad, poor excuse for amaretti …. they were lifeless and flat, and while the exterior was shiny & crispy, the biggest disappointment was yet to come – as biting into the cookie you were to discover – NOTHING, AIR, VOID, HOLLOW SPACE…. oooh that cannot be good I though.

So I went back to the drawing board. After much reading & baking, I came accross Yvonne’s recipe for amaretti’s. For this I have to say ‘chapeau’, my hat goes off to her – so impressed was I with these cookies, that I was inspired to create my own version based on her recipe – omitting the cocoa powder & almond decoration,  and using pure almond essence. These amaretti cookies are easy to make, have a lovely almond taste and a wonderfully soft centre!