As you might know by now, the Soup Lady does not care for chocolate but in the best interest of my readers, I will suffer it to tell you about this little brown box that came into my possesion recently. The Soup Lady has just lately returned from a magnificent holiday at Denver's Brown Palace Hotel. Among the many luxuries offered there was this nighttime turndown: a box of the famous Brown Palace toffies. Ever the mannerly guest, the Soup Lady politely played along with the building excitement when this treat was announced, but knew that chocolate was involved and that did dampen her enthusiasm just a bit. Since the only soup consumed on this particular trip was a pasty concoction that was somebody's idea misguided idea of French Onion Soup made with a red beer base (Quick Review: Yuck!), I will evaluate the toffies.
Repugnant chocolate coating notwithstanding, I think it only fair that I share the taste test with you here. There were seven toffies cradled in the neat little package. Obviously hand-made, they had some variations in appearance but were nearly uniform in shape and heft. They did not travel well crammed into my suitcase, unless that damage was inflicted by the TSA agents as they hamhanded their way throught it in an effort to identify my 3 cansisters of suspected terrorist hairspray.
The toffies were firm to the touch and covered with crushed almonds top, sides and bottom. Bravely, the bite was taken and although the candy did put up some resistance, it was not a tooth-shattering experience. The toffee yeilded to just a slight bit of presure and broke off without crumbs or bits flying about.
I was expecting one of those heavy, take-your-breath-away kind of overly sweet candy experiences but while this candy was rich and buttery, it was also light. There was a smoothness to the center as it broke away in horizontal sheets that reminded one of sheets of mica spliting apart. Once it was seperated and in the mouth, it melted away with amost no chewing required. All in all, I'd give this 4 out of 5 possible soupstars. If there was no chocolate involved, it would have been an improvement, but maybe that's just me.
Looking for a sure-fire crowd pleaser? How about a little something for the sweet tooth? Do you get lost in the forest of desert ideas? Then follow the Soup Lady's First Rule for Indecisive Bakers:
When in doubt, pull chocolate out.
This chocolate chip cookie recipe is famous as the centerpiece of one of the internet's first urban myth's: the stolen Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe. The story goes that a shopper at the store's cafe in Dallas was so impressed with the cookie that she asked for the recipe. After many rebuffs, the store reluctantly gave her the recipe, swore her to secrecy and then billed $250.00 to her credit card. In retaliation, the woman vowed to spread the the secret recipe all over the internet. The myth was debunked when N-M posted the store's real recipe on their own website, and it's free. But using the recipe posted here will give you something to talk about over the coffee cups.
The cookies pictured here were made by Brian Kane who says "these are maybe the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had." They were were dispatched to our ancillary test kitchen at Worcester Polytechnical Institute for taste-testing by a panel of volunteers from the second floor of Sanford Reilly Hall. Test results: the cookies were declared superfantastic. The panel of judges recommends placing the cookies in the microwave for a few seconds before consuming.
Famous Internet Cookies served on Stangl's Country Garden pattern
Blend the oatmeal by putting it in a food processor one cup at a time
and pulsing until the oatmeal is broken up into a finer flour-like
In a large bowl or mixer, cream the butter and both sugars until
smooth. Add in eggs and vanilla and mix well. Mix in flour, oatmeal, salt,
baking soda, and baking powder. Add the grated chocolate and mix well.
Add chocolate chips and nuts.
Roll the dough into golf-ball sized balls and place a couple of inches
apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes per batch.
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Country Garden is one of the more intricate patterns produced by Stangl. Introduced in 1956 and in production well into the 1970s, you think there would be more of it around, but it's pretty hard to find. I guess people are still hanging onto their original sets. When they're ready to let it go, The Soup Lady will be waiting to snap it up.Click here for a close-up of Country Garden. This peice was originally a tidbit tray. Note the hole drilled in the center where a handle would have been screwed in.
The holidays are soon upon us and the gracious houseguests among you will be looking to contribute to your host's holiday table. This is not always an easy task due to the difficulties of transporting some of your best creations. Many is the time The Soup Lady has driven at break-neck speed to get to Uncle Joe's house before the Jello mold comes undone. Unfortunatley, high-speed driving, while good for the Jello, is bad for the crockpot full of soup. Two-words: upholstery cleaner.
Why not go with elegant baked goods? Let everyone else argue about who gets to bring the pumpkin pie - you can bring these elegant cookies. The recipe for these fancy figgies comes to us courtesy of Bridget Kane. These cookies taste as good as they look. They are a complex blend of preserved fruits and are sure to cause a sensation on the dessert buffet. And sensation is what were going for, isn't it?
X - Cookies displayed on a Stangl Blueberry Relish Dish
X - COOKIES
4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold butter -- cut into 12 pieces
4 large eggs
12 ounces dried figs
1/2 cup unblanched almonds -- toasted and chopped
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup candied orange peel -- diced
2 ounces semisweet chocolate -- chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg -- beaten
For the dough: Put flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor and pulse just to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse 15-20
times to cut in the butter. Add the 4 eggs and pulse until the dough forms a ball. Remove the dough and knead briefly on a lightly floured work surface until it is smooth. Shape the dough into a log, wrap with plastic and set aside.
For the filling: Remove stems from dried figs and dice. The figs should be soft and moist. If they are too dry, plump them in boiling water for five minutes before dicing. Put the figs and the rest of the filling ingredients in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Scrape out of the bowl onto the work surface , knead to blend, and shape into a log. Cut the log into 12 pieces.
Preheat the oven to 350 and place racks so that oven is divided into thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll each piece on a floured work surface until you form a 12-inch-long rope of dough. Use a rolling pin to flatten out into a rectangle 3 inches wide by 12 inches long. Run a knife under the dough to make sure it is not too stuck to the work surface. Brush the dough with the beaten egg. Roll a piece of filling into a 12-inch rope and place in the middle of the dough. Pull the dough up around the filling, making a seam, and roll the filled dough into a cylinder, lengthening it a bit until it is about 15 inches long. Cut the filled cylinder into 5 3-inch lengths. Repeat with the other pieces of dough and filling.
Take a cut piece of filled dough and place it seam-side down on the work surface. Make a 1-inch cut in each end and separate the ends to make the cookies into the shape of an X. Repeat with all the pieces. Transfer to the baking sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes until they are a light golden color. Transfer to racks to cool. Dust with confectioner's sugar once completely cooled. Yield: "5 dozen"
When I posted the challenge for any one of you brave readers to make the Souper Cheesecake, it was merely an intellectual exercise. To this day, I don't know anyone who actually made it or even seriously contemplated making a cheesecake that contained Campbell's Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup. At the time, fearless commenter Lester Nelson bravely left a note that read "I'll try it out and let you know what I think ..." and was never heard from again.
And now here we face the goodies-from-cheese situation again, this time in the form of fudge made of Velveeta processed cheese. No, not cheese - cheese food. What other edible has to identify itelf as "food" just to be sure you know what to do with it? Ever heard anyone say "meat food" or "Cheerios food"? No, I didn't think so. The reason is that you look at it, you know it's food. With Velveeta, well ... there's a reason they have to make sure that you know it's cheese food.
This fudge was actually made by a real live person, and she made it more than once, too. Go figure. Read the recipe, make the fudge and then decide if you can be as brave as all that. Don't thank me, thank Kitchenlogic, whose name couldn't be more ironic in light of this concoction.
Velveeta Fudge photograph courtesy of Kraft Foods
Spray a 9 x 13 inch cake pan with PAM (imitation cooking spray)
Ingredients: 1/2 pound Velveeta 1/2 pound butter 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla 1 2lb. bag of powdered sugar 1/2 cup cocoa powder Nuts, if desired
Melt Velveeta and butter on top of stove (preferrably in a pan. Velveeta is shapely but it won't stay together when heat is applied). When melting is done, pour in remaining ingredients and mix using a hand mixer. Pour into pan and chill.
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Look, you're on your own with this one. I'm only reporting it here in the interest of amusing information.
Genuine Black & White cookies are not cookies at all they are more of a puffy cake-like affair. The other thing is that it's only the icing that is black and white - the cookie itself is plain white. A quick web search reveals plenty of recipes for this all-time favorite of past and present New Yorkers - even the esteemed Zabar's has an online recipe. I'll reprint it here just for conversation's sake, but I am not at all happy about it. It comes close, but it's not exactly the stuff that dreams are made of. They got the icing right, though.
True afficianados of the B&W know that the one thing that makes cookies different from others is that under the frosting is a cake-like creation, not the hard, dried out crumb-buckets of your average cookie. The other distinguishing characteristic is that these are way oversized. If someone tries to give you a B&W that is less than 5" across, call the police because that is a crime.
BLACK AND WHITE COOKIES
Cookie: 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp lemon extract
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt Frosting:
4 c confectioners' sugar
1/3 to 1/2 c boiling water
1 oz bittersweet chocolate
Preheat the oven to 375. Butter two baking sheets and set aside.
To make the cookies:
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar and butter. Mix with mixer or hand until fluffy. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla and lemon extracts and mix until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, and salt and stir until mixed. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in batches, stirring well to combine. Using a soup spoon or ice cream scoop, drop spoonfuls of the dough 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until the edges begin to brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
To make the frosting:
Place the confectioners' sugar in a large bowl. Gradually add enough of the boiling water to the sugar, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and spreadable. Remove half of the frosting to the top half of a double boiler set over simmering water and add the chocolate. Warm the mixture, stirring, until the chocolate is melted and the frosting is smooth. Remove from the heat. With a brush, coat half the cookie with chocolate frosting and the other half with white frosting.
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The icing is crucial to the finished product. It should be fluffly when you spread it on and it must dry to a very thin outer crust that collapses at the bite to reveal a still-fluffy interior. And, please - bittersweet chocolate only. If you are lucky enough to live in New Jersey, get on the Parkway and find the small but beloved Dixie Lee Bakery in Keansburg and pick up as many as you can for a mere 69c apiece. They are as close to the NY deli version as you can get.
Of course we'll serve black and white cookies on black and white dishes. This is the classic Stangl Lyric pattern. It's one of the most sought after designs, hard to find and pricey when you do come across it. But it is Atomic 50s perfection.
The Soup Lady believes that while some things just cry out to be enhanced, oatmeal cookies are not among them. Here are oatmeal cookies as they were always meant to be: moist, chewy and unadulteread by fruit or those gawd-awful chocolate chips. This recipe was created by Karan of Flummel, Flummer, Flummo whom the Soup Lady had the great pleasure of meeting this year.
Karans Oatmeal Cookies
First mix these dry ingredients into a lovely off white color:
1 3/4 cups of flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
~2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
~1 tsp ground nutmeg
Add these ingredients:
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups of packed brown sugar
2 cups raw oatmeal
Mix it all up.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake and eat.
Oven: 375°F / 190°C Bake: 11-14 minutes
Karan's Oatmeal Cookies
on Stangl's Thistle dinnerware
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This is the very first piece of Stangl that was purchased by the Soup Lady. Thistle was extremely popular at the time of its release in 1964 and may be even more so now. It is the only dinnerware pattern produced in America that features thistles. It is eagerly sought after for its simplicity and attractiveness and by people of Scottish decent, making the common pieces pricy and the harder to find objects like cruet sets almost untouchable. Click here for a close-up of a pattern that seems very colorful but only uses four colors. The stamped pattern of the flower bud here serves as only a target for where the colors were brushed on.
Our little soup interlude is over, my friends, for the cookies keep rolling in. The Soup Lady was the recipient of the most fetching little package that held a delightful concoction called Gingerbread Cream Cheese Spirals. The cookies came courtesy of Solonor who graciously inform all that they were produced by the steady and talented hand of Mrs. Solonor. They were so perfectly formed and neatly done that it was obvious that The Soup Lady was staring into the face of great experience. I am assured that it takes only a little practice to produce a uniform roll, so here is the recipe and have at it.
Gingerbread Cream Cheese Spirals
½ cup butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups all-purpose flour
Beat butter in large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and cloves; beat until combined. Beat in egg until thoroughly combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with wooden spoon. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill dough at least one hour or until easy to handle.
Cream Cheese Dough-
1/3 cup butter
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
Beat butter and cream cheese in large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and baking powder and beat until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in orange peel and any remaining flour with wooden spoon. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill at least one hour or until easy to handle.
Roll each half of the cream cheese dough between two sheets of waxed paper into a 10x 8 rectangle. Place these on baking sheets. Chill in freezer for 15- 20 minutes or until firm. Roll each half of the gingerbread dough in the same manner. Remove cream cheese rectangles from freezer. Peel top sheets of waxed paper from all rectangles. Carefully invert one cream cheese rectangle over a gingerbread rectangle. Remove the waxed paper from tops. Let stand about five minutes or until dough is easy to roll.
Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting from one of the long sides, removing bottom sheet of waxed paper as you roll. Pinch to seal. Cut roll in half crosswise. Wrap each roll in waxed paper or clear plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining two rectangles. Chill about four hours or until firm.
Remove one roll from the refrigerator. Unwrap and reshape slightly if necessary. Cut dough into ¼ inch thick slices and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool cookies on baking sheet for one minute before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
Solonor's Cream Cheese Spiral Cookies
displayed on Stangl's First Love pattern
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For this display, the Soup Lady has chosen to co-ordinate the cookies with Stangl's First Love pattern of dinnerware. It was produced in 1968 for only one year - you can see that it has that orange/gold/brown color scheme of the burgeoning return-to-nature movement that was unfolding at about that time. It wasn't all that popular, which makes it less plentiful that some of the more beloved patterns. I'm not all that crazy about it myself. In fact, this is the only piece that I have.
Nevertheless, you should click here to have a detailed close-up of the dinnerplate. The brush strokes of the handpainting are clearly visible in the green leaves and you can see brown stains in the center of the plate which are a result of water seeping under an imperfect glaze. This is a not unusual occurance with Stangl pieces. Refiring can cure it, but it's only First Love, after all and then it wouldn't be original. If it was Lyric or Fruit it might be a different story.
Another entry in the Cookie Parade! These delightful confections arrived at the Soup Lady's door as part of a cookie exchange project and really brightened up a dull Saturday.
The Soup Lady is happy to report that these cookies are everything that a chocolate lover could imagine: rich, moist, and a depth of chocolatey flavor due to the layering of the cocoa, the baking chocolate and the chips. They look like a simple cookie but are a quite complex eating experience. This recipe comes courtesy of Christine the Passionate Ailurophile. I had to look it up - she's a cat lady.
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Thick & Chewy Triple-Chocolate Cookies
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocaoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into medium bowl, set aside
2. Melt chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl set over pan of almost simmer water, stirring once or twice, until smooth. Remove from heat. Or melt in microwave: heat at 50% power for 2 minutes, stir, then heat another minute at 50% power. If it is not completely melted, continue heating, for 30 second incrememts at 50%, stirring after each time, until smooth. Be very careful
not to burn it! Beat eggs and vanilla lightly in a small bowl with a fork, sprinkle coffee powder over, and stir to dissolve
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in sugars to combine, about 45 seconds, mixture will look granular. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add chocolate in steady stream and beat until combined, about
40 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with a rubber spatula. With mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Then mix in chocolate chips...do not overbeat! Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until consistency is scoopable and fudge-like, about 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Leaving about 1 1/2 inches between balls, scoop dough onto cookie sheets using an ice-cream scoop. The balls should be about the size of golf balls.
5. Bake, reversing position of baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back) until edges of cookies have just begun to set, but centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes. The cookies will look like they are not done, but don't bake them any longer than this...they will firm up as they cool.
6. Cool cookies on baking sheets for about 10 minutes. If using parchment, then carefully slide the parchment with cookies onto wire racks, and let cool to room temperature. I used Silpat, so I put parchment onto the wire racks and used an offset spatula to carefully transfer the cookies to it one by one. Put new parchment onto the baking sheets, scoop out remaining dough, and bake
and cool as above.
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen cookies. Recipe from "Here in America's Test Kitchen" by the editors of "Cook's Illustrated" magazine
Thick & Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies
served on Stangl's Golden Harvest dinnerware
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The Stangl pattern chosen to showcase this dark cookie is Golden Harvest, which was introduced in 1953. The patterns were often released to co-ordinate with other Stangl patterns for mix and matchability. Although this is the Soup Lady's most complete set, I still like to set a table with a combination of this pattern and AmberGlo together. Click here to admire Golden Harvest in close-up detail and see why I fell in love with it.
The Soup Lady is taking a break from the broth to share some exciting news with you - what could be nicer than to be part of a Cookie Exchange?
The cookies have started to roll in this week and instead of just talking about the cookies themselves, the Soup Lady will crank the excitement up a notch by displaying said baked goods on a complementary pattern of Stangl dinnerware. I'll give you a minute to settle down - I know how excited you must be.
I know what you're thinking - it's been altogether too long a time since we have sighed over the delightful patterns of this vintage American pottery. During the upcoming days, we will see at least a good half-dozen patterns. What a fine treat for you all!
First up are cookies that are most appropriate for autumn: Pumpkin Butterscotch. This cookie comes from Steph of Was It the PaganRemark?who is a one-woman recipe box. In the same way that Dr. Joyce Brothers captured the hearts of a nation by displaying endless knowledge about boxing on the $64,000.00 Question, Steph is never caught off-guard when it comes to recipes. Name a catagory and you will be bombarded with at least 4 recipes instantlly and far more when she gets up a good head of steam and starts rolling through her collection. Are you on a low carb diet? Think that you can only have roasted meat, broiled meat or fried meat? The woman will knock your socks off with more recipes than Dr. Atkins and Suzanne Somers put together ever imagined. How she managed to restrain herself and produce only one cookie is a great surprise to me.
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl in the order they are given:
1-1/2 cups of pumpkin pie filling
1/2 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of sugar, half white half dark brown
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of chopped walnuts
2 cups of unsifted flour
1 teaspooon of soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of butterscotch morsels
Mix all ingredients in order given. Drop by spoonsful onto greased cookie sheet. Bake in 375 ovem for 12 - 14 minutes. Raisins, pecans or coconut may be substituted for the butterscotch chips.
Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies
served on Stangl's AmberGlo dinnerware
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This is just the sort of the thing that appeals to the Soup Lady. It is a moist and spicy confection that fills the nose as well as the mouth. Of particular interest is the fact that when using a quantity of unsifted flour, you get the added bonus of being able to just whomp it into the bowl. So satisfying.
The Soup Lady has chosen Stangl's AmberGlo pattern to coordinate with this cookie. Introduced in 1954, it was originally a Scandinavian-inspired turquoise, blue and yellow gas flame motif. House and Garden Magazine's fashion-color recommendations for 1954 were gray, gold and brown, so the colors were changed before production started. Note how well the spicy golden goodness of the cookie is showcased against this charming pattern. Click here to admire the lovely hand-painted pattern in detail.
The Soup Lady is happy because this is so much better than real life.