Friday, March 15, 2019

The Rockridge

This is what was leftover after I finished making this next #sweetonoakland cookie.

Introducing The Rockridge: A Chocolate Glazed, Citrus-Infused Soft Biscotti. Like the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, Rockridge was historically an Italian-American community. But who wants a hard, crunchy cookie, amirite? Maybe you do. But did you know biscotti actually refers to any Italian cookie (like biscuit in England). What you have in mind is probably cantuccio.

But I digress. Italian lesson aside, these cookies are only baked once, infused with triple citrus zest, and glazed in chocolate, finished off with chocolate sprinkles. Citrus zest because it's that time of year in California and chocolate covered because, duh, everything is better with chocolate on top!

Ingredients for the Biscotti:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp zest from each - lemon, lime, orange
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients for the Chocolate Glaze:
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
4-6 tbsp hot water (you might experiment here with different liquids - tea, coffee, booze!)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until completely combined, then add in citrus zest. Slowly add in flour, baking powder, and salt until just combined. Lightly dust work surface with powdered sugar (yes, powdered me). Take a 1/4 cup scoop of dough and roll it out into a long rope about the thickness of your pinky finger. Cut the long rope into 5-inch sections. Gently fold each section in half to form a U shape, then twist, pinching ends together gently. Transfer to a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet, allowing about two inches between each cookie. Bake for 10-12 minutes, turning the baking sheets halfway through. Remove from the oven when the edges are just barely starting to turn golden and the cookies appear set. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Once the cookies are completely cooled, mix all glaze ingredients until smooth, adding more hot water as needed for desired consistency. Dip or drizzle onto cookies and allow glaze to set, adding sprinkles before that happens, if desired. Enjoy!

The Temescal

Did I mention in my last post that I'm coming up with new cookie recipes at a rate of one per month right now because I donated a six-month subscription to my kids' school fundraiser back in November? It's provided pretty good motivation to keep going and there are no shortage of Oakland neighborhoods from which to draw inspiration!

Without further delay, here is the 7th cookie in this project, The Temescal: an Ethiopian-spiced, Stracciatella-style Chocolate Chip Cookie, inspired by what was once a predominantly Italian-American community until the late 1960s (not unlike neighboring Rockridge, which I'll get to next) combined with its more recent concentrations of Ethiopian and Eritrean immigrants and restaurants.

First, to make ras el hanout combine 1 teaspoon each cumin, ground ginger, and salt with 1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, coriander, allspice, and cloves, plus 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, cardamom, turmeric, and black pepper (you can store the leftover spice blend in airtight container at room temperature for up to one month).

Now that you have the Ethiopian spice blend on hand, you can get to baking!

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ras el hanout (see above - feel free to use more if you prefer a spicier cookie!)
1 stick (8 tbsp) butter, at room temperature
1 oz (2 tbsp) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup shaved dark chocolate (or you can use a food processor like I did)

Preheat oven to 360F/180C and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Whisk sifted flour, salt, baking soda, and ras el hanout together in a bowl and set aside. Beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the egg and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients and fold until just combined, then add the shaved chocolate and fold until just incorporated.

Place heaping tablespoons of dough (or use a #40 cookie scoop) onto the sheet, leaving a little space between. Bake for about 12 minutes until starting to brown at edges. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

This recipe makes about two dozen cookies - enjoy a couple with a cup of turmeric tea!

The Mosswood

An Instagram friend, when they found out about this project, tipped me off to the news-to-me that apparently fennel grows like crazy in the Mosswood neighborhood of Oakland! I did not confirm this information but rather immediately used it for inspiration for my next #sweetonoakland cookie that I baked back in December (yes, I'm catching up, finally!). Hence, the The Mosswood: A Vegan Fennel Seed Shortbread Tea Cookie:

Other than the fennel seed inspiration, that's about it for the connection to the Mosswood area, although I suppose you could draw some comparisons to the changing dynamics of this and most other neighborhoods in Oakland (did I mention this cookie is vegan?). Here's the how-to if you're interested in making a batch of these yourself.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup high quality olive oil
1 pinch salt
Powdered sugar to decorate

Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grind the fennel seed to a powder in a mortar or use a spice blender. In a bowl, mix the flour with the sugars, fennel seed powder and the salt. Add the olive oli. Knead until you have a smooth dough. Roll out dough on a flat surface and cut with a cookie cutter.

Small, simple shapes work best because the dough is brittle. I used small ornaments because it was almost Christmas. Place cookies on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Place on a cooling rack and decorate with powdered sugar. Makes 2-3 dozen. Enjoy with all of your vegan friends!