Levain Bakery

Going to Levain on the Upper West Side has been on my to-do list ever since I read about the amazing cookies on Serious Eats. A friend came to town this weekend and was practically forced by her former boss to visit the popular bakery, so it became the perfect opportunity to see what all of the fuss was about.

Levain bakery | netflix & nutella

I opted for the classic chocolate chip walnut cookie, while my friend got double chocolate chip. Though we each shelled out $4 per cookie, the result was truly the best cookie I’ve ever tasted.

Chocolate chip walnut cookie, Levain bakery | netflix & nutella

The outside is crunchy enough to hold in the gooey dough on the inside. But barely. The amount of chocolate and nut in each cookie was perfect, and I have to admit, I was pretty much licking off melted chocolate from the inside of the bag.

Chocolate chip walnut cookie, Levain bakery | netflix & nutella

My suggestion is to head to the deli around the corner on Amsterdam for a $2 individual serving of Horizon milk with a straw. You’ll need it, and you won’t be able to wait til you get home to dig into these amazing cookies.

Chocolate chip walnut cookie, Levain bakery | netflix & nutella

Still held together

Chocolate chip walnut cookie, Levain bakery | netflix & nutella

A look past the crust

Cinnamon Palmiers

The tristesse is overwhelming. I’m missing Paris. A lot.

Cinnamon Palmiers | netflix & nutella

The chouquettes I could buy for under 1 euro. The daily bus rides with a view of the Eiffel Tower. Living avec ma soeur and her copain seems like a distant memory. Even listening to the same playlist that lulled me to sleep in the City of Lights gives me a homesick feeling.

Cinnamon Palmiers | netflix & nutella

Le sigh.

I had to bring in a snack to a group meeting. Someone does it every week, and to feed into my mélancholie, I decided to bring in a snack that could somehow encompass my love for French in one small bite. Result? Cinnamon Palmiers. These little buttery bites of sweet puff pastry heaven are a simple reminder that even if Paris is a plane ride away, some things can bring me back instantly. And even fewer ingredients than the last palmiers I made.

Recipe via About.com (though I used 2 tbsp. of butter instead of 3 as per the comment section and probably would have been fine with 1 1/2)

Cinnamon Palmiers | netflix & nutella

Monday Mélange: Sweets for Santa

I am the youngest of four children, and seeing as we have all reached our twenties – some of us living our own lives away from home – you’d think some of our traditions would have changed. We would have stopped coming down the stairs in age order to see our presents; stopped having a slumber party the night before; stopped the routine of watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Christmas Eve. There’s a certain magic that comes with this time of year, one that I don’t think any of us are ready to give up as we face the “real world” and one that I think we’ll cling to until we start having kids of our own with whom we can share it.

Though it might be silly, we still do a ton of baking this time of year, a plate of which is ceremonially left out for Santa.

Merry Christmas to all; I hope some of these treats can enable the magic to carry on for you, no matter your age.

Raspberry Oat Bars

Raspberry oat bars | netflix & nutella

Homemade Cocoa

Homemade Cocoa | netflix & nutella

Apples to Apples

Apple turnovers | netflix & nutella

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Jam Thumbprint Cookies | netflix & nutella

Candied Cinnamon Sugar Almonds

Candied cinnamon sugar almonds | netflix & nutella


For more baking ideas, check out my food page here!

Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Beware: the ultimate winter cookie is coming your way.

I successfully flew home on Thursday evening well before the amazing snow storm that hit New York on Saturday. It made me feel like a kid again. Though the prolonged fall-like weather in North Carolina is well worth it at times, I hadn’t witnessed a true snow since high school. This certainly changed that.

Ultimate Ginger Cookies | netflix & nutella

My family has gone through some changes this past year. We’ll be spending the holidays somewhere new, which is altogether exciting and a tad bittersweet. But the white-covered trees and these ginger cookies bring me back to being a kid, comforting me and allowing me to resort to some of the forgotten pleasures. Stepping on freshly snow on the sidewalk will always provide the most perfect crunch. Like the outside of these cookies before reaching the gooey inside.

Whether with a glass of milk, a warm cup of coffee, or on its own after a long evening, these cookies will warm you up inside and out.

Ultimate Ginger Cookies | netflix & nutella

Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten (I didn’t have molasses so used the same measurement of honey. They were slightly less gooey than the last time I made this recipe, but just as delicious.)

Ultimate Ginger Cookies | netflix & nutella

Strawberry-Cinnamon Jam Thumbprints

One of the dilemmas I’m facing this year is definitely the “kitchen” thing.

As you can tell, my cooking and baking posts are few and far between. Last year, I was spoiled to have a kitchen I shared with 3 roommates. This year, I’m back to my freshman days of living on a hall and sharing a kitchen with 36 other people.

I’m adjusting, and though I don’t get in there as much as I’d like, I savor my moments of making easy college bolognese and (deep-breath) store-bought cookies.

Strawberry-Cinnamon Thumbprint Cookies | Netflix and Nutella

Since I don’t use the kitchen too often, I don’t find it necessary to buy the baking essentials you rarely think twice about – vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, even flour. So, I’ve had to improvise and figure out ways to spice up products and use as few ingredients as possible. With my limited ingredient supply, there’s bound to be many product makeovers this year.

Strawberry-Cinnamon Thumbprint Cookies | Netflix and Nutella

One of my discoveries? Thumbprint cookies. They’re not as flavorful as the ones my aunt makes every Christmas using a family recipe, but the buttery store-bought dough and my strawberry-cinnamon jam from a local farmer’s market make these ever-so special (so many great jams in Alamance County).

Strawberry-Cinnamon Thumbprint Cookies | Netflix and Nutella   Strawberry-Cinnamon Thumbprint Cookies | Netflix and Nutella

I know what you’re thinking: strawberry and cinnamon?! Sounds kind of weird. But it’s a delicious summer/fall combo. The perfect accompaniment to this Indian Summer we had this past weekend.

Thumbprint Cookies

Recipe loosely via Pillsbury.com

1 roll sugar cookie dough
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup of your favorite jam

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray with non-stick spray.

2. In a large bowl, break up the sugar cookie dough. Add flour, and combine well with your hands. Let it sit for a few minutes to come to room temperature.

3. When the dough is more easily manageable, roll into 1 inch balls. Place the balls 2 inches apart on your prepared cookie sheet, pressing into the center with your finger to create a hole. Don’t press all the way through – just enough for a little pool of jam. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of jam into each thumbprint.

Strawberry-Cinnamon Thumbprint Cookies | Netflix and Nutella

4. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, or until they’ve spread out and the dough has set. Do NOT wait until they are browned. Let them sit on the baking tray for 3-5 minutes, and transfer to cooling rack.

Strawberry-Cinnamon Thumbprint Cookies | Netflix and Nutella

Chocolate-Dipped Palmiers

It’s funny how so much can change in just one year.

Fall semester of my sophomore year, I was yearning for my Spring in Paris, not fully allowing myself to get involved because I knew that soon, I’d be off in the City of Lights. I was under-involved and bored.

chocolate dipped palmiers 2

Now, I’m probably too involved in my academics and school activities.  I never have a free moment, but when I get to incorporate relaxation into my crazy schedule, I jump on the chance. The “me-time” this week? Baking for my school’s Org Fair.

chocolate dipped palmiers

For the French Club booth (a way that I always hope will transplant me back into the 15ème, drinking du vin with mes amies and taking les balades by the Canal St. Martin), I baked palmiers, also known as elephant ear cookies. Until I actually get to go back to my deuxième home, these will have to suffice.

chocolate dipped palmiers 1

Recipe via Pepperidge Farm

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

I drank milk every day with every meal my entire life. It wasn’t hard since my mom gave us the option of “milk or water, water or milk” when we asked for apple juice at dinner. Nevertheless, I wasn’t a water drinker until probably middle school.

with milkThough I don’t find myself sitting down with a cold glass of milk often, sometimes it’s just exactly what I need. Water just doesn’t do it after a peanut butter sandwich. Birthday cake? A “snort” of milk, as my dad would say (definition of a “snort” in my house: about an inch or two of milk; probably a code word for a “shot” when we were too young to learn about alcohol measurements). And of course, the American classic: cookies with milk.

In Paris, there are amazing desserts and pastries on every block. But cookies don’t really exist here. I made Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Crackle Cookies this past weekend that screamed for a glass of milk. They were basically brownies disguised as cookies, and though no one can master my sister’s boyfriend’s brownies, these might become a regular occurrence.  They were just sweet enough to be called a dessert, but weren’t tooth-achingly sugary. They were slightly crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Plus, this recipe makes a ton! It makes 4 logs of dough, and 1 log makes about a dozen cookies. A good way to exercise at least some portion control (though it was hard to convince myself that these weren’t truffles that could be eaten raw).

cut into 1 inch pieces

cut into 1 inch pieces

log of dough

Log of dough out of the fridge

rolled out log of dough

Log of dough rolled out

This was my first experience baking in France, the land of measuring in weight as opposed to volume. This recipe converted really well, and after a few searches on the internet, here are my suggestions:

  • 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate: I used 1 200 gram bar of Nestle Corsé chocolat noir. I added 2 teaspoons of sugar when I melted it in the double boiler (1/4 teaspoon for each ounce). It ended up being deliciously bittersweet.
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder: I used one packet of “levure chimique.”
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter: about 113 grams
  • 1 1/3 cups light-brown sugar: I did 1 1/3 cups of regular sugar, plus a heaping teaspoon of molasses. (It’s about 1 teaspoon of molasses for each cup of sugar. If your recipe calls for dark brown, it’s about 1 tablespoon per cup.)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract: I used a packet of sucre vanillé (comes in a similar packet as the baking powder).

Though American recipes calls for a bit more effort, this one is definitely a hit. Just don’t forget a snort of milk!

Recipe via Martha Stewart

Cake Batter Cookies

Today was a snow day, so I was able to spend my whole day baking. These turned out so well! They’re really moist and delicious. The recipe calls for chocolate chips, but I had none so I used M&Ms instead. They turned out soooo well! I’m very happy, especially after my earlier scone disaster.

Recipe via Stephanie Cooks

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