And the Oscar goes to…

Even as a child, I always loved the glitz and the glamour of the Academy Awards. My favorite year was when Roberto Benigni won Best Actor (also one of my favorite films of all time). As an adult, I think I love the Oscars even more. Having seen 7 of the 9 films nominated for Best Picture this year, my hands-down favorite is The Artist. So endearing and delightful! Tap dancing AND a cute dog, it’s almost unfair. Was anyone else hoping Uggie would get an Oscar nom?

So for an Oscar party today, I’m bringing an appropriately themed The Artist dessert (I’m big on themes if you haven’t noticed). This one took me awhile to decide on though. I hemmed and hawed over what to make… something French? something fit for an adorable dog? In the end, I picked something that was black-and-white, just like the film.

These black and white cookies are just perfect. I’d never had a black and white cookie until I moved to NYC but you’ll find  them in any good NY style deli. They’re more cakelike than normal cookies but the best part is trying to get a biteful of equal parts black and white. I dainty-fied these to make that process even easier and cause it makes them that much cuter! Just like Uggie…

Hope you all enjoy watching the Oscars! What were some of your favorite films of this year?

Black and White Cookies

  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 ¾ cups (12 ¼ oz.) sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. lemon extract (I used 1 teaspoon lemon zest)
  • 1 ½ cups milk

(1)    To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  
(2)    In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk to combine, and set aside.  
(3)    In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 30 seconds.  Add in the sugar gradually, increasing the speed to medium-high and beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  
(4)    Blend in the eggs, vanilla and lemon extracts at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  With the mixer on low speed, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, alternately add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions just until combined.
(5)    Using a tablespoon, place about 8 spoonfuls of dough evenly apart on each baking sheet. With moistened fingers, gently press each mound of dough into a disk 2½ inches wide and ¾ inch thick.  
(6)    Bake until the centers of the cookies are firm and the edges are just beginning to brown, about 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking pans halfway through the baking time.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes.  Use a wide spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.  Let cookies cool completely before icing. 

For the glaze:

  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ⅓ – ½ cup water
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1-2 tablespoons cocoa (optional)

(1)    Boil a cup or so of water in a small pot.
(2)    Place confectioners’ sugar in large, heat-safe mixing bowl. Gradually stir in enough boiling water to the sugar to make a thick, spreadable mixture. Err on the side of caution because a too-thin frosting is hard to undo. Leave remaining boiling water on the stove.
(3)    Using an offset spatula or rubber spatula, spread icing on half of the flat side of each cookie. Once all cookie halves have been frosted, let set for about 15 minutes.
(4)    Place the bowl of the remaining frosting over the hot water and bring it back to a simmer (creating a double-boiler).
(5)    Stir in the unsweetened chocolate until melted, as well as the light corn syrup. At this point, depending on the chocolate you used and your preferences, you might find the chocolate color to be a little lighter than the “black” of a black-and-white cookie. If so, I find that a tablespoon or so of cocoa mixed in darkens the color nicely.
(6)   Ice the remaining half of the cookies with the chocolate frosting. The chocolate icing–especially with cocoa in it–is especially prone to getting too dry, so don’t worry about whisking in an extra teaspoon of that hot water from time to smooth it back into a shiny frosting.
(7)    Let the frosting set. Store in an airtight container. These cookies keep for a few days, but I think they’re best on the first or second. Because of the cake nature of the bases, they can get stale quickly.
 

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

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Art-inspired Food

Things that have happened since last time I blogged:

Blue Ivy introduced herself to the world. Giants won (!!!). Whitney passed away.

Goodness, February. My life however has been much of the same. Mostly work and art and food (pretty much everything this blog is about). A couple posts ago, I wrote about the new American Paintings Galleries at the Met which I paired with a mac & cheese recipe. This post is along those same lines. It’s another addition of ‘Art-Inspired Food’.

The Frick Collection right now has a new exhibition “Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-length Paintings.” I love the Frick. It’s the former private residence of the wealthy Henry Clay Frick which has now been preserved into an art museum. Every time I walk in I imagine what it must have been like to live in a place like that… surrounded by Marie Antoinette’s personal desk, oriental rugs, and Van Eyck portraits. So decadent.

         

The Renoir exhibition showcases the fashions found in his full-length painting style. His brushstroke is incredibly feathery and light. And the colors are so soft. All the airiness reminded me a big cloud of meringue or whipped cream. Inspired, I came home and decided to concoct a dessert to match. Et voilà! These mini lime cheesecakes are the result. Enjoy them and if you can, go see the exhibition which closes May 13.

Mini Lime Cheesecakes 

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (~10 sheets)
  • 3 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • ½ stick (¼ cup) butter, melted
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
  • ½ tablespoon lime zest
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lime, sliced for garnish

(1)       Preheat oven to 325° F.
(2)       In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter with a fork until well combined. Divide evenly into 16 muffin tins and press evenly onto the bottom with a tall glass or spoon.
(3)       Bake for 5-7 minutes, then let the crusts cool completely.
(4)       Lower the oven temperature to 300° F.
(5)       With an electric mixer (or in a blender), add the cream cheese, lime juice, zest, sugar and vanilla. Mix until smooth.
(6)       Add the flour and salt and mix again, scraping down the side as needed, until incorporated.
(7)       Add the eggs all at once and mix just until incorporated.
(8)       Pour cream cheese mixture into the crusts, filling to the very top of the rim.
(9)       Bake for 20-22 minutes until the edges are slightly golden but the center is still a bit wobbly.
(10)    Cool completely and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours (overnight is better). Run a thin knife around the edges of the cakes and remove from pan.
(11)    In a clean bowl, whip the heavy cream and 1 tablespoon sugar until stiff peaks form. Dollop a spoonful onto each cheesecake and garnish with a slice of lime.

Makes about 16 mini cheesecakes