If you expect me to stick with the usual type of posts published by most food bloggers in January, I shall now disappoint you. I have a cookie post to share. And a great one. The recipe comes from Geoffrey Zakarian, which pretty much means it is going to be awesome. If there is one chef I’d like to sit down and chat with, is GZ. He seems like a nice person, and extremely knowledgeable about food. This is one of his favorite cookies, by the way, which shows we have at least a couple of things in common: a passion for spice cookies, and allowing our hair to go totally gray. HA!

Hermit Cookies

(from Geoffrey Zakarian)

Yield: about 18 cookies

for the cookies:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

 for the glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 large egg whites
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, allspice and ginger in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter, brown sugar and molasses together in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, eggs and orange zest. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until incorporated. Add the spiced flour mixture and beat until the dough just comes together. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the dough into large balls (about 1.5 inches in diameter) and refrigerate on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper until firm, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Bake the cookies until the tops of the hermits are no longer glossy and the edges are firm, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

For the glaze: While the cookies cool, mix the confectioners’ sugar, egg whites and vanilla seeds in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth and shiny. Transfer the glaze to a piping bag or zip lock bag with a corner cut, and pipe stripes onto the cooled hermits. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments:  Let me share what GZ has to say about these babies: “This is my favorite holiday cookie, because it blends two of my favorites: soft chocolate chip cookies and spicy gingerbread — the best of both worlds.”  I totally agree.

Did you know that Hermit cookies have been around since 1877? Amazing!  The name is a big mystery, actually.  They were also known as tea cakes, made traditionally as little squares. You can read all about them here. Hermit cookies are soft the way I like, spicy, sweet, and the glaze goes perfectly with them, although I am sure the glaze is a modern take on the original recipe. I normally like a plain cookie, but must admit the extra work for the glaze pays off in this recipe.

Hermit Cookies2

The holiday season is over, but I see absolutely nothing wrong with baking a batch of spice cookies when the mood strikes… You?


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Did I get your attention?


As those who follow  my blog for a while know quite well, I always have a good number of posts lined up for publication and countless folders in the computer waiting to evolve from a set of photos into complete blog posts.  I don’t stress too much over the accumulation of recipes and ideas for the blog, but when I noticed two recipes by the same chef collecting dust, I had to act. So here you have them: two takes on chocolate deliciousness by a chef I truly admire, Geoffrey Zakarian. A smooth and mild mousse that was part of our Valentine’s dinner back in February (do I get a prize for blogging about it before its first anniversary?). And next, a recipe that brings a more “in-your-face” hit of the dark, luscious cocoa entity in the form of sorbet. I know sorbet days are over for us in the Northern hemisphere (a harsh reality that I take with a stiff upper lip), but my lucky friends headed for the summer will certainly enjoy it…

Chocolate Mousse_opt

(from Geoffrey Zakarian)

1/2 cup chopped chocolate (72 percent)
1 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
Whipped cream, for serving
Chocolate shavings, for garnish

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a water bath, making sure the water is not boiling. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks.

Place the egg yolks in a small bowl and set over a water bath to slightly heat while beating them with a whisk. Add the sugar to the yolks and then transfer the mixture to a stand mixer set up with the whisk attachment. Beat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the yolks double in size, about 5 minutes. Carefully fold the chocolate into the yolks. Lastly, fold in the whipped cream. Divide the mixture among 4 serving bowls or glasses and refrigerate for about 3 hours.

Just before serving, top with some whipped cream and garnish with chocolate shavings.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: When I made this recipe I showed the photo to some friends and they were a bit surprised that a dark chocolate mousse would turn out so light in color. It was indeed not only light in color, but also pretty mild in taste. I guess the whipped cream tames the bitter nature of the chocolate. At any rate, we both loved this version, and would make it again for another V-Day celebration or a dinner party with friends.   On the opposite side of the chocolate spectrum, we have…

Chocolate Sorbet_opt-2


The detailed recipe can be found at Zakarian’s book “My Perfect Pantry“, which I own and love…

The sorbet is probably one of the simplest recipes ever, just water, sugar, cocoa powder, a bit of espresso powder, barely cooked together and processed into sorbet.

It has a sharp flavor, and surprisingly smooth texture for something that doesn’t contain any cream or custard.

If you’d like the full recipe, follow this link to get the book, although a google search will take you to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow…

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 8.08.11 AM

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