Nutella-Ginger Cookies Only A Mother Could Love


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I have been yearning for butter ever since I saw Julie & Julia a few days ago.

From the first moment that I saw Meryl Streep as Julia Child drop a slab of butter onto a pan, my deep, deep hunger began.

It’s made me request extra pats of garlic butter to perch atop my steak in a French bistro and slather it so generously on bread that you could have omitted the bread and, honestly, I would not have noticed.

But, as Julia supposedly said, “With enough butter, anything is good.”

And it was this very spirit that led me to finally get off my tush and make the Nutella dessert that I had pledged to do when I signed up for The Nutella Challenge. (It’s a little exercise created by Paula at Bell’Alimento in which dozens of amateur bakers have agreed to come up with a dessert starring Nutella.)

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What Ciabatta Taught Me


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This moment, I had known it would come.

The one where I’m sitting on the floor of my smoke-filled apartment, staring at three rock-hard, blackened loaves and thinking, “I am a failure.”

Having never baked bread before, I’d known it was a little insane to sign up for the weekly Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge, where a group of more than 200 amateur bakers around the world bake a bread every week from a recipe in Peter Reinhart’s bread-making bible.

But then my first attempt — bagels — had gone well. And in the ensuing weeks, decent versions of brioche and challah followed.

I started to get cocky — I even promised chef Simpson that I would bring my first stab at ciabatta to his July 4 party. There would be two Italians there — who better to judge the quality of my first Italian bread?

Of course, this was all before the alarming amounts of smoke, the smell of burnt cornmeal seeping into every cranny of my apartment and, eventually, the surfacing of three dark lumps of what could pass for coal but were actually my “ciabatta.”

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