Tag Archives: Cookies

Moustache

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.
~ Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

What do you remember of your childhood?

I recall abstract details… my first hula hoop; the pain of piping hot cheese toast scorching the roof of my mouth; the excitement of hiding backstage waiting for the curtain to go up. If I concentrate with my eyes shut, I can just about remember what it was like to be 6, 7, 9, 12…

These days, I find myself learning how to be a child all over again.

In recent years, life has (necessarily) involved plenty of ‘growing up’ (whatever that really means!) – a big shift from School to a world that is largely about Money Job Romance House Marriage Kids Plans Politics Catastrophes Choices Vacations Service ItDoesn’tEnd Etc Etc.

It’s exciting and necessary.

But in many ways, it’s really not everything.

All work and no play not only makes Jack a dull boy; it kills him.

Perhaps the more ‘growing up’ we do, the more we need to remember what it is like to be small, to wonder, to love without complications. To enjoy whizzing down a slide without thinking about how to announce your slide ride on Facebook. To be able to tell someone “I don’t want to play with you today” or “let’s be friends!” – just like that. To eat when hungry without worrying about getting fat.

Perhaps we could place equal importance on Big Decisions and Small Things.

Perhaps we could, every so often, leave our suits and aprons at home in favour of donning milk moustaches and eating delicious cookies.

This is Deanna, whiz and powerhouse behind Moustache. I had already heard many good things about Moustache through media and friends – this morning, I got a chance to experience the goodness in person. Yay! As I tucked into a glorious cinnamon cookie and cold fresh milk, I enjoyed getting to know the face and story behind this Cookie Wonderland.

Like so many good things, Moustache is built on passion, genius, the pursuit of excellence and a lot of hard work. I admired the staff’s friendly and calm countenances and the yummy cookies more and more as I learned the realities of building this dream and running this business.

What you see now, a concept that seems simple enough (milk, cookies, the child in all of us and a glimpse of Deanna’s childhood) – is the result of months of brainstorming and resourceful thinking done in pockets of available time. Strings of early mornings and late nights. Careful budgeting. Setbacks and victories.

Blood, sweat, tears and laughs.

Every cookie is baked fresh, on site, with good ingredients like cage-free eggs and generous bites of Whittaker’s chocolate. On that note, I discovered why the peanut butter cookies Kath and I bought yesterday at 4pm were positively glowing with everything melting in just the right places… the cookies tasted like they had just emerged from the oven because, in fact, they had. The Moustache team sends fresh trays of cookie dough into the oven every half an hour to ensure customers get a constant supply of fresh cookies!

Things I love about Moustache: the way it is so bright and user-friendly – walk in and your eyes and nose automatically know what to do. Its warmth and fragrance. The option of buying gift boxes along with your cookies. The menu. The smiling staff. And, of course, the cookies – preferably enjoyed warm with cold fresh milk.

Pop in on weekdays for morning coffee or an afternoon pick-me-up, Saturdays for a treat, or before a show at The Civic (conveniently located a stone’s throw away).

If you miss your childhood, Moustache is an excellent place for reminiscence – if you never had a childhood, make up for it here.

Thank you, Deanna, for a lovely morning!

Moustache – 12 Wellesley Street West, Auckland

Monday musings

When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

I want to constantly gaze at beauty.

I want to sing Kath’s apricot/nectarine-tart-making praises.

I want to exclaim at how quickly the year is FLYING BY.

I want to say that I like these cookies* very much.

Thank you Mika for sharing your beautiful food and words!

These cookies are a pleasant surprise; I’d venture to say they are the sort of surprise that would delight even people who hate surprises. They made me think of salty popcorn, of Spring, of a cheeky grin… I fed them to Jian, and to people who avoid miso soup at all costs (one person ventured to say miso soup tastes like fatty water)… the cookies received a very friendly reception (even after I told them what was in them; some reached for a second cookie after saying “oh!”).

I quite enjoyed the fact too that no one could guess what was in the cookies – guesses ranged from “butterscotch” to “caramel”… (yes that was my bit of Monday fun, don’t judge me!)

Hope you are all having a great day!

* I used smashed cashews instead of sesame seeds since I had them on hand, but otherwise followed Mika’s recipe (even the “putting the dough in the freezer” – because I wanted to save time – bit). I love the cookies with the cashew nuts – but look forward to trying them with sesame seeds next time!

Wake up and smell the cookies

I love reality. I love the world. I love the smell of it. I love it.
~ Andrea Corr

Bake these soon, won’t you? Preferably in the black of night. With the brightest lights in your kitchen switched on – and no competing smells in your kitchen (i.e. well after dinner time). Eat some* till two in the morning. With company, so the blinding temptation to eat them all doesn’t engulf you and make you very ill indeed.

* Slip the remaining “some” into a container, and leave them in a safe place. Away from prying eyes, teeth and fingers.

Your oven will sing with maternal pride as the little balls of dough stretch and change and become ready for consumption. The cookies will lead you into a happy drunken stupor, as your eyelids take on the world-slicing powers of a kaleidoscope and show you tiny identical wedges of cookiecookiecookie.

Your nose may tell you it never wants to smell anything else ever again.

When at last sleep clutches at your eyelids and happy brain, you will find that you sink into a deep spell of sleep and the richest of dreams…

* And in the way the best dreams go (when you wake and wish it weren’t just a dream), you’ll find a hidden stash of cookies in the morning that smell just like the ones in your dreams. You can still dream your Sunday away.

Thanks Kath for the recipe! :-)

I’m also submitting this entry for Sweet New Zealand, hosted this month by Arfi at HomemadeS by Arfi. Click here to join in the Sweet NZ fun!

Ready for cookies

I treat each cookie that I bake like a precious gem, which is especially important if you’re one of those people who are able to eat just one at a sitting… to me, each cookie is just as important as the one baking next to it.
~ David Lebovitz, Ready for Dessert

Some days call for moderation; others, for multiple batches of cookies. If you should choose to start your day by casually leafing through David Lebovitz’s “Ready for Dessert” like I did recently, then you may have to prepare for a not-so-moderate day.

How to resist falling prey to David’s recipes and photos? … c’est difficile à faire.

No one’ll look down on you for losing the battle with yourself to resist making something from David’s book or website, though. I promise.

So I have yet to attempt many of David’s recipes, but the few I have tried so far have made him one of my go-to people for inspiration and in times when I really want something to turn out well. The way I see it, most professional chefs can probably write recipes in their sleep – but not everyone can successfully write recipes for the home cook/baker who fumbles, can’t multitask that well and doesn’t have a gamut of equipment… and have him/her turn out good things at least 90% of the time.

Here are some photos of my attempt at making David’s “nonfat gingersnaps”.

I usually avoid baking recipes with “nonfat” or “healthy” in the title… what is nonfat baking? My approach is to eat salad sans dressing to be really nonfat, or bake real cake. I see no reason to avoid butter completely unless specific health reasons demand it (though I also loathe butter in excess).

When I saw the words “molasses” (never tried using it), “applesauce”, “candied ginger” and “black pepper” in the list of ingredients for these “nonfat gingersnaps” though, I knew I had to overlook its title…

So, attempt these I did. Dough clung to whisk like a pining lover; fragrance whirled around the kitchen in a style not dissimilar to how red wine tends to colour my face. And the muscovado, molasses, cinnamon and double dose of ginger caused magic to bubble in the bowl…

They emerged less crisp and “snappy” than I expected…

…but very nicely spiced, and on re-reading David’s recipe which says “such a soft, chewy texture”, maybe they aren’t TOO far off from what he first whipped up in his kitchen.

I might just have to keep working on it, though. Practice makes perfect, y’know? :-)

Next on the agenda was David’s “chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons” (not to be confused with macarons).

Eight egg whites are used in this recipe, but good news – there is no painful whisking (usually an egg white requisite) involved!

My nose kept hovering too close to the pot in the making of this one.

[Coconut, I like how you make things smell so nice!]

[I also like the fact that you like chocolate as much as, if not more than, I do...]

Though really… if you’re feeling lazy/not-in-the-mood-for-chocolate (it happens, right?) these macaroons are also pretty good on their own…

The recipe said the batter would generate 60 cookies, but somehow I ended up with substantially less than that amount, even taking into account the fact that I made them quite large. There were certainly more than enough to give away, so not complaining.

Enjoy your weekend, dear readers! And I hope you bake some cookies soon.

Dancing in cookiedom

Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.
~ Angela Monet

If my alarm clocks had any measure of autonomy, they’d probably go on strike. I am like the Mad Hatter’s dormouse – not much gets me up when I am sleeping (actually, tea parties probably would if I were him, but anyway…). I have slept blissfully through No. 8 typhoons as a kid while our neighbours furiously applied tape to their windows and light objects escaping their owners danced, unbridled, in the mad wind outside. When I was little, only one thing never failed to wake me immediately – Grandma’s tickles, when she stayed over. They were horrendous. I have never been tickled so badly since.

Now, I wake up when I have to go to work, of course – but only one thing gets me out of bed, smiling, at any hour. That is not the unavoidable urge to go to the bathroom (though I’ve been told that it is horribly unhealthy to hold your pee, so I am working on it)…

What gets me wide awake and smiling even at 2am is this mysterious rush of excitement that whooshes through me every so often, overtaking all dreams and nightmares. Then I awake as if under a spell, and my feet take me to the kitchen while my brain tries in vain to remind me that I need sleep to function the next day.

This rush of excitement bows to no one, least of all my brain.

Last night, a wave of exhaustion hit me and I went to bed at 6pm. Thanks to daylight savings, my windows were still sunlit at this stage. I slept like a baby till 2am, when trays of crinkle cookies began to parade through my consciousness. I had never before attempted to bake crinkle cookies, nor have they been on my radar recently – so I clutched at my dreams and duvet cover, and tried hard to make the cookies go away…

In the end, I couldn’t get rid of them, so I sat up, placed my laptop on a spare pillow and started looking at recipes. Just as I found a nice-sounding one, my flatmate and her friend returned from a function, so I leaped up to say hello – and decided that since I wouldn’t wake them (they were quite awake), I’d go ahead and bake.

Especially because there were two parts to this recipe.

See, I have once met someone who told me she loves her room and sheets and clothes smelling of baking. I, for one, do not enjoy having hair, clothes and sheets that smell of baking! So I was well pleased that this cookie dough would require refrigeration prior to being baked. This meant I could potter around in the kitchen for a short time to get the crinkle cookies out of my head, then head back to bed still smelling nice.

I really enjoyed it. There’s something about cooking in the still of the night, way past bedtime – lights on, air laden with the dreams everyone on my street is dreaming. Cooking with the moon for company makes my blood rush, my feet dance, especially when I am alone. I don’t know why, but it feels magical and serene; like everything is possible. I like that very much.

This recipe was beautifully simple – melt butter and chocolate; beat eggs and sugar; measure the flour and dry ingredients – whip it all together, pop the bowl into the fridge and let it get ready for the oven while you sleep. Good things happen if you’ll wait without interfering.

I finally fell asleep again at around 5am, then woke up at 8 – and the cookie making began. I’m not one to enjoy routine, so I don’t tend to make cookies too much because I usually find the repetitive rolling and baking in batches pretty tedious. These came together fairly easily though, and I ended up with way more cookies than I bargained for. The recipe said three dozen – I ended up with around 50 little cookies (thank goodness for nice neighbours who relieved me of a few! :-))

These were like brownie-cake pebbles. They were a little chewy, quite moist, but light enough and not unbearably sweet – you may want to skip the cinnamon if you’re not a cinnamon fan (I am). Next time, I’ll try adding coffee to the mix too.

    Chocolate and cinnamon crinkle cookies
    Adapted from Joy of Baking
    Ingredients:
    ~ 56g butter
    225g dark chocolate, roughly broken (I used Whittaker’s 72% cocoa dark Ghana)
    1/2 cup caster sugar
    2 large eggs
    dribble of Kahlua or vanilla extract (I used Kahlua)
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    caster sugar, for coating
    icing or powdered sugar, sifted, for coating (I forgot to sift the sugar today – please sift yours)
    Method:
    Set a saucepan of simmering water over a low flame and place a heat-proof metal bowl over it, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Melt the chocolate and butter in the bowl, then remove from the heat and set aside.
    In a medium sized bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until thick, pale and fluffy. Yellow ribbons should fall gently from your beaters when you raise them. Beat in the Kahlua, then pour in the melted chocolate mixture and stir.
    In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add these to the chocolate mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until firm (overnight if possible).
    Preheat oven to 170°C. Line two baking trays with aluminium foil or baking paper. Do not grease the foil or baking paper, or your cookies will have yellow patches (I found out the hard way).
    Place some caster sugar in a shallow dish, and some icing or powdered sugar in a separate dish. Run cold water over your hands and dry them, so your hands are cold and the dough doesn’t melt in your hands. Working quickly, shape the chilled dough into roughly 2cm balls – I just used a heaped teaspoon of dough per cookie. Roughly coat each ball of dough with caster sugar, then roll it in the icing or powdered sugar until it is completely coated and no chocolate shows through. Tap the sugar-coated ball lightly so that the excess sugar falls off. Place the balls of dough on the baking tray, leaving about 5cm apart between them.
    Bake cookies for around 10 minutes or just until the edges are slightly firm but the centres are still soft. Do not overbake, or they will lose their lovely moist chewiness. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
    Eat fresh or place in an airtight container – they should keep well for a few days. Yields at least 40 cookies.

P.S. On the dancing note… how cool is this.

And the winner is…

I’ve been lucky. I’ll be lucky again.
~ Bette Davis

First up, before I announce the winner of my recent giveaway, it was so much fun holding it. I’m not usually someone to gush over gifts, though I do appreciate them when they are thoughtful/significant – but oh, when it comes to GIVING presents… I always love it!

I really enjoyed reading the comments you left on my giveaway post – thank you everyone for entering! I hope to hold something similar again soon, and please do enter again next time.

Tonight, I wrote all your names on little slips, and got my flatmate Matt to pick my lucky winner… drumrollBeens! Congratulations!

Beens has just started her blog recently, and it seems so fitting to me now that she should have won the book so she can have a Kiwi-compiled cookbook on her bookshelf for her upcoming move to New Zealand ;-)

Also made some cookies (with Matt’s help in banging the almonds and chocolate into little pieces)… here is the recipe!

    Ingredients:
    115g butter, at room temperature (or microwaved in 3 bursts of 5 seconds, then chopped into small cubes)
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 large eggs
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/2 teaspoon ground clove
    1 cup quick-cooking oats
    2 cups chopped almonds
    1/2 cup cranberries (approximately – use your eyes to gauge quantity)
    200g dark chocolate, chopped
    Method:
    Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with foil and lightly grease it.
    Beat the butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla, and beat until well mixed, about three minutes. Stir in eggs, one at a time.
    Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove in a separate bowl. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter, mixing on low speed. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the second half.
    Stir in the oats, almonds, cranberries and chocolate chips. Drop the dough, by the tablespoon, onto the foil-lined tray and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on a rack. I used the same piece of foil to bake all my batches.
    Yields plenty of cookies (more than 35… somewhere along the way, I lost count). Store at room temperature in a cookie jar or other airtight container.

Pork with celery in egg & lemon sauce

It is a solemn thought: Dead, the noblest man’s meat is inferior to pork.
~ Mark Twain

Over the weekend, we went walking along the waterfront… we still needed our coats, but the sun made its welcome presence felt nevertheless!

(There is something marvellous about eating pizza on a wooden bench by the waterfront too)

Last night, dinner was from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#58 Pork with Celery in Egg & Lemon Sauce – Page 112

This was a dish that smelled wonderful from the beginning – even when it was just sauteed onions and pork chunks in the pan. With the addition of garlic and some frothy sauvignon blanc it took on extra character – by the time my fingers smelled of celery & fennel, it felt so good just to stand and breathe. This dish took some time (almost 2 hours) to cook – a perfect way to get some reading done in between!

Alas, the eggs scrambled a little in the pan – it’s so important to mix the eggs in well before squeezing in the lemon, I learned! We ate the lot with slices of Vienna bread. Jono liked it, I liked the soft pork and the sauce, but not the abundance of cooked celery – as for Matt and John, I am not sure! :-/

PS. Thanks everyone who has commented and/or entered the giveaway draw so far – there are still 11 hours to go before the draw, so join in if you haven’t!