I have grown up into a foodie. For me, window shopping means strolling through the Italian market or popping my head into all of the Chinatown emporiums of exotic ingredients. My version of People magazine is really Grub Street or HuffPost Food. And my evening excitement is something like a success in the kitchen or noticing the arrival of sweet persimmons in the grocery store. I bask in reading and learning about anything food-related and will probably curiously continue to do so for the rest of my life. Hence my most recent pre-ordered book, the Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, which was released this past October.
As I said in my previous post, my latest fascination is coffee. I live in a city where the artisan coffee culture is slowly starting to grow, and watching the craft has made me want to learn more. Whether this is true for you too, or you know someone that fits the foodie description above, I recommend gifting this book.
As a food blogger and photographer, the first thing I noticed as I gave a quick flip through the pages were all of the soft-lit, beautiful photos. I am a sucker for visuals, especially when food is involved. These in particular really nailed down a consistent style that for me, had that same warm, dreamy feel of a good coffee shop. The second place I immediately scanned was the back section called “Eat”, full of photographed recipes designed to pair well with a cup of java. Nearly every time I picked up the book to read, I had to force myself not to get distracted by its back pages. I love crafting recipes, reading recipes, and drooling over possible outcomes of recipes. Clearly this section was made with me in mind.
The front three portions of the book are comprised with all the ins and outs of the various growing, roasting and brewing methods. The read is a real learning experience from farm to cup, and left me realizing just how technical and scientific every single stage of the process can get. If you’re at all curious about about French Press vs. Pour Over, about the culture in Japan, about how certain beans pick up their fruity flavor, the differences between a Brazilian cup vs. a Hawaiian, or simply how to produce one of the best batches of gingerbread cookies you’ll ever taste, then you’ll likely find this book to be a well-warranted purchase.
If you don’t care about all that technical coffee know-how, and just want the phenomenal gingerbread recipe I just mentioned, read on my friend. Crafted by Caitlin Freeman, Blue Bottle’s head pastry chef, these were some of the best gingerbread cookies I’ve ever had. Crispy on the edges and perfectly chewy in the center, these will definitely shine — even when placed next to a top notch cappuccino. To get all of Blue Bottle’s recipes, and to learn how to properly roast those green coffee beans from my last post, you’ll have to buy the book. Or put it on your Christmas list.
- -2 cups all-purpose flour
- -1 Tbsp. natural (not Dutch-processed) cocoa powder
- -1 Tbsp. dried ground ginger
- -3/4 tsp. baking soda
- -3/4 tsp. ground black cardamom
- -1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
- -1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp.
- -3 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
- -1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- -1/4 cup granulated sugar (plus extra for rolling the cookies, optional)
- -1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- -1/2 cup unsulfured light molasses
- Sift the flour, cocoa poster, powdered ginger, baking soda, cardamom and pepper into a bowl.
- Use an electric mixer/beaters to beat the butter and creamed sugar on low speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the sugars and salt and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes.
- Add the molasses and fresh ginger and mix until well combined. Scrap down the sides of the bowl, and then add the flour mixture. Mix on low speed just until uniform in texture.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrape the dough out into an airtight container or onto a piece of plastic wrap. Cover the container, or shape dough into a disk in the wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 5 days.
- Preheat oven 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or lightly grease).
- Roll 1/4 cup portions of the dough into balls, then roll the balls in sugar (--I skipped this part). Slightly flatten and place on baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart.
- Bake 11-13 minutes, or until crackly on top but still somewhat soft to the touch, rotating pan midway through.
- Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, and then remove. The surface will get firmer as they cool.