vegan vanilla bean cupcakes with chocolate ganache

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Lovely people. If you’re still out there, you have my heart. It has been forever and ever since the last time we were all here and I can’t tell you how much I have missed this place. I feel like so much has happened in the three months I’ve been away. It’s been a journey.

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I wish I could say that I had gone away for three months traveling the world, doing fabulous things, but that just isn’t the case. I did sneak off to Montreal for a weekend in May, which was lovely and hilarious and full of deliciousness (poutine! and fois gras! oui!). I guess the best excuse for my extended absence is my move. I moved to Berkeley in the beginning of June. I didn’t go very far, about 10 miles, but it was a big deal move. It’s my first time ever being on my own, my first time living outside of the town where I grew up. It took me over a month to kind of sort of get it together. I spent the first few weeks slowly bringing things over from my parents’ (so. much. stuff.). Spent an obscene number of hours perusing the interwebs for home furnishings, obsessing over bar carts and throw pillows and pink sofas. Temporarily forgot how to cook for myself. It was rough in the beginning. I use to fantasize about living alone, but it got kind of lonely after the first week. I didn’t realize just how quiet it would be. I bought a small fountain just because I needed some ambient noise. I’m still figuring a few things out, but I absolutely love my place and can’t wait to share it with you.

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These cupcakes were the last thing I baked in my old kitchen, way back in May. My bestie had a birthday party, and I couldn’t show up without goodies in hand, even though she specifically told me not to bake anything (I know she was just being nice, and didn’t want me to be two hours late like previous years). And although I was already packing up my kitchen at that point, I really wanted to squeeze in one last baking day and one last shoot in that old space. So here we are, visiting the old kitchen for the last time.

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If you’re ever in need a solid vegan cupcake recipe, Isa Chandra is the source. I had something very simple in mind, and vanilla cupcakes and chocolate ganache are about as basic as it gets. I couldn’t resist the berries at the market that morning, and they were the perfect way to finish off these beauties. On to the next chapter…

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vegan vanilla bean cupcakes with chocolate ganache

very slightly adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s post punk kitchen

makes 1 dozen

For the cupcakes:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola oil

3/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped

For the ganache:

1/3 cup almond milk

heaping 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon Earth Balance or margarine 

2 tablespoons corn syrup or pure maple syrup

Bake the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Whisk the almond milk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside for a few minutes to curdle.

Sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix.

Beat together the almond milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean in a large bowl. Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until no large lumps remain.

Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

In the meantime, prepare the ganache.

In a small sauce pan, bring the milk to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer and add the chocolate, Earth Balance, and syrup. Mix with a rubber spatula for about 30 seconds. Turn heat off, continue stirring until the chocolate is fully melted and the icing is smooth.

To assemble:

Let ganache cool for about 10-15 minutes. Dip the top of the cupcake in the ganache and then set them on a cooling rack. Alternately, you can spoon the ganache onto the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with a few raspberries and let set in a cool room for an hour or so, or place in the fridge to set.

 

 

strawberry pistachio thumbprint cookies

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Once upon a time it was January. And it was very cold and dry and the markets were full of citrus. My, how things have changed. 2014 has been full of surprises. Anything and everything has happened in these past four months. I could say a million things about the goings-on, like favorites coming to town, and babies being born, and little brothers getting engaged. But I wouldn’t even know where to begin. So on to May we go…

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Summer is just a heartbeat away, but it still very much feels like spring around here. It’s all chambray and strawberries at the moment. Which reminds me of these cookies.

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I first made these for an office cookie party last year. I’m coming to realize that I don’t bake cookies very often. I’m more of a cupcake/cake maker when it comes to baking. But I do love a good cookie. I think I’m going to really work on my cookie repertoire this year. More cookies! I’ll let you know how it goes.

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This is exactly my kind of cookie. It’s buttery and shortbread-ish and encrusted in toasty pistachios. I love pistachios – they’re my favorite nut for snacking. Finished off with a well of jammy strawberry goodness makes these a big fat yesssss. It’s a perfect cookie, ideal for tea parties and springtime.

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strawberry pistachio thumbprint cookies 

adapted from joyofbaking.com

makes about three dozen cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 

1/2 cup granulated sugar 

2 large eggs, separated 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1-1/2 cups pistachios, toasted and finely chopped

1/2 – 3/4 cup strawberry jam

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just combined. If the dough is too soft to roll into balls, refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Place the finely chopped pistachios on a plate. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Taking one ball of dough at a time, dip into the egg white and then roll in the nuts until completely coated. Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1-inch apart. Using your thumb or end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in the center of each cookie and fill with about 1/2 teaspoon of jam.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until cookies are set and the nuts have nicely browned. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

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lemon poppy seed muffins

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Bear with me, folks. We’re still adjusting to the time change over here. The days that follow the springing forward of clocks are always some of the most brutal for me, it’s like a weeklong hangover. Losing that one hour ruins me for months – I swear I never really make the adjustment. I’ve accepted the fact that my body is meant to be on standard time. I’ll be secretly counting down till November.

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But I will admit that it is quite glorious to leave work when it’s still light out. And driving over the Bay Bridge with the windows down and the sun shining bright at 5:20pm in the middle of March feels like winning. So I suppose I’ll just put myself to bed a little bit earlier for the next couple of weeks and do my best to cope.

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You’ve probably gathered from all of this talk that I’m not much of a morning person. The only thing I really like about mornings is breakfast – it’s my favorite meal of the day, which is why I always make a point of having something substantial and satisfying. Lately I’ve been into Straus Greek yogurt with blueberries and hazelnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup. I am hooked on that Straus Greek yogurt – I can’t go back to any other brand.

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While I really enjoy my simple yogurt bowl at work every morning, I love doing it up on the weekends for breakfast. Usually it involves eggs. But this past Sunday, after walking around in zombie mode for a good part of the morning, I thought some muffins would help me get through the day.

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Since I ended up with a bag full of lemons after our lemon tree split in two about a week ago, I knew it was going to be some sort of lemon muffin. I also happened to have some poppy seeds on hand, so when I landed on a recipe for lemon poppy seed muffins, my mind was made up.

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These are everything you want in a breakfast muffin. They’re the perfect amount of sweet and they’re fantastic just out of the oven. I love their all-around lemony-ness, especially the drizzle of icing on top. I decided to make these extra special with a dollop of surprise blueberry jam in the center, which is totally optional but highly recommended. And they come together in under an hour, which means you can totally make a batch of muffins in the morning before heading out for the day. And the people you share them with will think  you are awesome. Just don’t take any drug tests afterwards.

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lemon poppy seed muffins

From Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

makes 1 dozen standard size muffins, or about 7 jumbo muffins

2/3 cup sugar

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sour cream

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1/3 cup jam (optional)

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted 

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

for the muffins:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Alternatively, use a silicone muffin pan, which needs neither greasing nor paper cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, rub the sugar and the lemon zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and hte fragrance of the lemon strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whish the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough-a few lumps are better than overmixing the batter. Stir in the poppy seeds. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.
If making jam-filled muffins, fill the muffin cups with half the batter and top each with a teaspoon full of jam. Spoon the rest of the batter over the jam and proceed.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold. Cool the muffins completely on the rack before icing them. Best served the day they’re made.
for the icing:
Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and add about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Stir with a spoon to moisten the sugar, then add enough additional lemon juice, a dribble at a time, to get an icing that is thin enough to drizzle from the tip of the spoon. You can then drizzle lines of icing over the tops of the muffins or coat the tops entirely.

miso salmon

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People. This is a friendly reminder that Mercury is in retrograde until the end of the month. This is why I haven’t been able to string more than two thoughts together in a coherent manner for weeks. This is why I referred to Whitney Houston’s voice as crystal glass on the way to Tahoe two weekends ago. This is why you might be feeling crazy right now. I know I’ve mentioned Mercury retrograde here in the past. But these are serious times. Anyway, don’t go signing any contracts until it’s over. And get out your crystals. Godspeed.

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Now, let’s talk salmon. I realized recently, while having dinner with a friend, that I almost never order salmon at restaurants. One of the few exceptions is salmon nigiri and sashimi, which I love. It’s not that I don’t like salmon, I just tend to think of it as something that can easily be prepared at home, which I do fairly often. 

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I discovered this gem while searching for new salmon recipes a few years back and have been making it on the reg ever since. It’s one of my go-tos. This is what I commonly refer to as real-life cooking. Unlike the cakes and cookies and other decadent goodies you can expect from us here, this is the type of dish you’ll find yourself making again and again, for dinner, for lunch, for yourself, for family and friends, any night of the week.

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This is a foolproof recipe. I love it because it’s easy enough to throw together after a long day of work, and requires just a handful of ingredients. And since it’s broiled, it cooks in a heartbeat. Aside from the simplicity factor, it’s a winner on many levels. The miso keeps the salmon moist and packs a ton of flavor. It’s rich in omega-3s, which is so much more enjoyable than popping those capsules. And it actually keeps well, which means you have lunch for tomorrow. I like it on top of a bed of romaine or greens, with a couple of slices of persian cucumber and avocado, a splash of tamari or Bragg’s, and a squeeze of lemon.

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miso salmon

from Eating Well

serves 4

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

2 tablespoons sweet white miso paste

2 tablespoons mirin, (Japanese rice wine)

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce, or tamari 

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

A few drops hot pepper sauce

1 -1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions

2 – 4 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions

2 – 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Position oven rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Line a baking pan with foil or parchment paper. If using foil, coat lightly with cooking spray.

Toast sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.

Whisk miso, mirin, soy sauce (or tamari), ginger and hot pepper sauce in a small bowl until smooth.

Place salmon fillets, skin-side down, in the prepared pan. Brush generously with the miso mixture. Broil salmon, 3 to 4 inches from the heat source, until opaque in the center, 6 to 8 minutes.

Transfer the salmon to warmed plates and garnish with the reserved sesame seeds, scallions and cilantro.

blood orange olive oil cake

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Is anyone else ready for a vacation? I want pool time and cocktails and sleeping in. All at once. Oh, the things I would do for a break right now. Even just for a weekend. I think we need to do some prioritizing around here to make this happen. I’m ready to bust out the resort wear.         

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The good news is we have cake. And this cake, my friends, is a keeper. For the past three years, I’ve been on a search for the perfect blood orange cake. I’m not even exaggerating. It has taken me years and lots of experimenting to find one I really like. Every winter, during the small window of time that is blood orange season, I try at least one blood orange cake recipe. I’ve tried at least four recipes, possibly more,  some more than once. One recipe called for orange segments, one recipe called for whole oranges, skin and all. Another was a sort of chiffon cake. A few of them were pretty good. None of them were outstanding.

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I’m happy to report that the search has finally come to an end. I’d been hoping to find a recipe that incorporated both oranges and olive oil. And out of practically nowhere, I found exactly what I had been looking for.

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Here’s what I love about this cake:

It has a pronounced orange flavor, both in the cake and the icing. The cake has the essence of blood orange from the grated zest and juice. And the icing, with it’s tart, berry-ness is perfection.  

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Thanks to the olive oil, it is incredibly moist and has a very distinct, almost savory flavor. 

It’s such a pretty thang. I’ve got a secret weakness for pink frosting, and the bold color of the blood orange juice produces an electric pink icing when added to a scoop of powdered sugar.  And it’s totally natural. AND we’re just in time for Valentine’s Day. A pink glazed cake is the perfect alternative to chocolate on V-Day. xoxo.

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blood orange olive oil cake

adapted from Leite’s Culinaria

serves 12-14

2 tablespoons unsalted butter for pan 

6-8  blood oranges

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

5 large eggs

2-3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 -1/2 cups mild extra-virgin olive oil

 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

4 tablespoons blood orange juice 

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above, and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Coat a 12-cup Bundt or tube pan with butter and dust with flour.  Set aside.

Finely grate the zest of 4 of the oranges, then squeeze 6 of them. You should have 1-1/2 cups of juice; if not, squeeze another orange. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and oil, starting and ending with the flour, and beat until just a few wisps of flour remain. Pour in the orange juice and zest and whirl for a few seconds to bring the batter together.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.

Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely. Place it in a covered cake stand and let it sit overnight.

In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons of blood orange juice. Whisk until completely smooth and has reached a thick but pourable consistency, similar to that of honey. Add more powdered sugar or juice if necessary. Pour the mixture over the cake and let set.

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wonton soup

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January has been a roller coaster. It hasn’t been entirely bad – there were some fun nights out with friends and a fancy belated birthday dinner at Acquerello. But there have been some less than thrilling moments. I am so ready for it to be over.

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My dad had emergency colon surgery at the beginning of the month. And while his surgery went well considering the circumstances, it really magnified all of his other existing ailments. So it’s taken the majority of the month to nurse him back to health. It has been an eye opening experience to say the least. Getting old sucks. And realizing your parents are getting old sucks even more.

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The man hadn’t eaten real food since late December. The days following his surgery he was only allowed one cup of ice chips every eight hours, then eventually moved on to a clear liquid diet of juice and broths. When he was finally allowed solids, I was horrified by what he was fed in the hospital. Standard issue hospital food is just plain nasty. There. Someone had to say it. So when he was released from the hospital, I was determined to feed him in a healing, healthful way. But feeding someone who has just had colon surgery can be challenging. Especially if that person has other dietary restrictions on top of being a somewhat picky eater. It involves a low fiber, low fat, low everything diet. Vegetables and fruit cooked into submission. No carbonated beverages or alcohol. It requires some thought and creativity. 

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I figured out that soup was a good place to start. I made a pot of chicken soup the first day. But I could tell he wasn’t that excited about it, even though it was made entirely from scratch, with extra TLC, including the chicken stock (I personally thought it was one of my best soups). I made applesauce. We made him try yogurt for the first time. When he started to regain his strength, he requested jook, then winter melon soup. That’s when I realized that my Western low, low everything  diet was not really his jam, and what he wanted was Chinese comfort food.

How about some wonton soup?

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I’d never made wontons on my own, but I helped make them as a kid. I had to watch a Youtube video to learn how to fold them. I actually had to watch it a couple of times before I really got the hang of it. Once you’ve got the folding down, it’s easy peasy. It’s kind of therapeutic.

The beauty of wontons is they’re kind of a twofer. You can toss them in a pot of stock for soup. Or you can throw them into some hot oil if you’re in the mood for some crispy fried goodness, which is what my sister and I did with the leftovers. They’re super satisfying either way.

On a lighter note, Happy Lunar New Year, folks!

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wonton soup 

adapted from about.com

makes 30-40 wontons

1/2 pound boneless lean pork

1/2 pound shelled and deveined medium shrimp

3 whole water chestnuts, or about 1/3 cup sliced, finely chopped 

1 tablespoon finely minced ginger

3 green onions, sliced thin, plus more for soup 

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine, dry sherry or rice vinegar

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

a few drops sesame oil

ground white pepper, to taste

wonton wrappers

6 – 8 cups chicken stock 

cilantro, for garnish

Finely chop the pork and shrimp. Combine the pork and shrimp with the water chestnuts, minced ginger, green onions, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, sesame oil, and white pepper. You can also do this in a food processor by pulsing a few times until just combined.

To fill the wontons, lay one wonton skin in front of you. Cover the remaining wonton skins with a damp towel to keep them from drying out. Moisten all the edges of the won ton wrapper with water. Place a heaping teaspoon of wonton filling in the center.

Fold the wonton wrapper in half lengthwise, making sure the ends meet. Press down firmly on the ends to seal. Use thumbs to push down on the edges of the filling to center it. Keeping thumbs in place, fold over the wonton wrapper one more time. Push the corners up and hold in place between your thumb and index finger. Wet the corners with your fingers. Bring the two ends together so that they overlap. Press to seal. The finished product should resemble a nurse’s cap. Repeat with remaining wontons.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the wontons, making sure there is enough room for them to move about freely. Let the wontons boil for 5 – 8 minutes, until they rise to the top and the filling is cooked through. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the wontons and bring the soup back to a boil. Add green onion, remove from heat , and add a few drops of sesame oil, stirring. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with a few leaves of cilantro.

**Deep-frying the wontons: Heat oil for deep-frying to 360°F. Add wonton in small batches and fry, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

chocolate dipped fruitcake cookies

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Is everybody ready for the holidays? It’s been a busy busy season already. So far, I’ve made gingerbread houses at two back-to-back gingerbread parties, and attended one of my favorite annual holiday soirees. As per usual, I’m running a little behind on getting my cards mailed, and I still haven’t figured out what I’ll be baking. I have a feeling things are going to start getting crazy around here in the next couple of days. But it wouldn’t be the holidays if I wasn’t baking and gift making up until the last possible moment. That’s just how I roll.

And it wouldn’t be the holidays without cookies. And this is definitely a holiday cookie.

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I know most people are unenthusiastic about fruitcake. And understandably so. Fruitcake has a bad rap. Growing up, my parents would receive fruitcakes as holiday gifts, which would go uneaten, and eventually get thrown away, year after year. There was just something kind of unappetizing about that brick of pastry dimpled with weird, artificially colored fruit. I couldn’t get into it.

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It wasn’t until my twenties that I came to appreciate fruitcake. One Christmas, my Auntie Pam gave my dad a tiny loaf of homemade fruitcake. And since my very talented auntie (who happens to be one of my personal foodie heroes) made this confection herself, I knew I had to at least have a nibble. The cake was chock full of really good quality dried fruits and nuts, and there wasn’t a bright green cherry in sight. It was superb. I slowly ate the entire loaf all by myself, and totally forgot to share with my dad.

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Though I’ve contemplated making my own fruitcake, I’ve yet to commit to such a project. From what I’ve gathered, it’s a labor intensive endeavor and requires ripening time, which means I would have to start a couple of weeks before Christmas. As you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m not the best at doing things and planning in advance. So when I landed on this recipe for fruitcake cookies, I felt like I had to make them.

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This is a fantastic cookie. It’s a buttery cookie dough studded with dried figs, apricots, raisins, and pecans, so there are a variety of textures and flavors. And because it’s the holidays and I like things just a little on the decadent side, I thought a dip in some melted bittersweet chocolate , or even a drizzle, would make these extra special. Everything is better with chocolate, right?

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chocolate dipped fruitcake cookies

adapted just barely from the barefoot contessa

makes about 5 dozen cookies

1/2 pound dried figs

1/4 pound raisins

2 ounces candied cherries, coarsely chopped

2 ounces dried apricots, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons dry sherry

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

6 ounces chopped pecans

kosher salt

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup superfine sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed

1 extra-large egg

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Snip off the hard stems of the figs with scissors or a small knife and coarsely chop the figs. In a medium bowl, combine the figs, raisins, cherries, apricots, honey, sherry, lemon juice, pecans, and a pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cloves, superfine sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and mix until incorporated. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Don’t over mix! Add the fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl.

Divide the dough in half and place each half on the long edge of a 12 by 18-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper. Roll each half into a log, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch thick, making an 18-inch-long roll. Refrigerate the dough for several hours, or until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

With a small, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on parchment-lined sheet pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

To temper the chocolate for dipping, bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to very low. Place 8 ounces of the chocolate in a wide, heatproof bowl. Transfer the bowl to the saucepan, being sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate reaches 110° to 112°F on a thermometer. Remove the bowl from the heat and place on a kitchen towel. Add the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate and stir until melted. Let stand, stirring every minute or so, until the chocolate reaches 88°F.

Line a sheet pan with fresh parchment paper. One at a time, dip a cookie in the melted chocolate, letting the chocolate come about half way up the sides of the cookie. Give the cookie a gentle shake to remove the excess chocolate, then carefully place the cookie on the pan. Push each cookie with your finger to move it about 1/8 inch from its position on the pan to dislodge and remove the “foot” the chocolate has formed. Let the cookies stand until the chocolate sets.

If you prefer a less chocolatey cookie, you can drizzle each cookie with melted chocolate rather than dipping.

chocolate fruitcake cookies