Tuesdays with Dorie, The End of a Delicious Journey and Kids’ Thumbprints

 Four years ago, Laurie Woodward sent me an email saying that she and a couple of friends wanted to bake their way through BFMHTY and that they would post each week’s recipe on their blogs every Tuesday.  What did I think?  Well, I thought a lot of things, a lot of conflicting things.  The idea was novel.  Julie Powell had famously blogged her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and Carol Blymire was writing one of the cleverest blogs on the internet as she cooked her way through Thomas Keller’s French Laundry At Home, but the idea of a virtual baking club was new.  And the idea that every recipe from my book was going to be blogged was, to be honest, scary.

I said ‘yes’ to Laurie and crossed my fingers.  

I’ve considered myself lucky ever since.

What Laurie and her band of bakers have created is more than a virtual club; it’s a real community.  True and lasting friendships have been formed.  Difficult family situations have been weathered.  Happy milestones have been celebrated.  When Howie Kahn came to talk to me about the article he wrote about Tuesdays with Dorie in O, The Magazine, his last words to me were: This group shows the best of what the internet can be used for.

Last year, I saw proof after proof of this.  When Around My French Table was published (and yes, Laurie and Julie Schaeffer, who’s been working with Laurie for the past year and a half, have started a group that’s cooking its way through the book), I traveled across the country and everywhere I went I met members of TWD.  I was thrilled to meet them – I can still feel some of the hugs – but what was even better was to see members meeting members.  Groups of TWDers would show up and even though they were meeting for the first time, they talked to one another like they were old friends.  And truly, they were old friends.  They’d shared so much together through sharing recipes, kitchen successes and a few baking flops.

Along the way members learned to bake … and to bake well … but they also learned important things about themselves and what they’re capable of.  I know this because of the wonderful letters – letters I cherish – that I’ve gotten from members.  I can’t tell you how many times members have written to tell me that when they began TWD, they not only couldn’t bake, they were afraid of baking, and that now there isn’t a recipe they can’t tackle.  They’ve learned skills and they’ve gained confidence.

But here’s the very best part and the part that touches me so deeply: over and over, members say that the confidence that comes with successful baking creates the confidence to try other new things in their lives, to dare, to risk and to grow.  I can’t think of anything more exciting!

TWD is proof of the power of community and yes, of baking, of learning to make something with your own hands.  That you can share what you’ve made with those you love is another gift.

I may be a writer, but I don’t have the words to thank the members of Tuesday with Dorie for all they’ve shared with me, for all they’ve taught me and for all the joy they’ve brought into my life.  Each of you holds a place in my heart.

The journey through Baking From My Home to Yours comes to a close today – the last recipe, Kids’ Thumbprints, follows – but the adventure continues when the group (now open to new members) starts Baking with Julia.  Baking with Julia is a more challenging book than BFMHTY, but TWD is ready for the challenge.  I’m sure of it.

As Laurie says, “Bake on!”

 

KIDS’ THUMBPRINTS

Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton, Mifflin 2006)

Makes about 60 cookies

 

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup peanut butter, crunchy (my choice) or smooth (but not all-natural)

1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg, separated

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 egg white

1 1/2 cups roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted), finely chopped

About 3/4 cup jam or jelly (cherry, raspberry, strawberry or blueberry are particularly good)

 

Getting ready:  Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, peanut butter and sugars together on medium speed until very light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the vanilla and the egg yolk and continue to beat until well blended.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it is incorporated.

Put the 2 egg whites in a small bowl and beat them with a fork until they are slightly frothy.  Put the chopped nuts in another bowl.

Working with a teaspoonful of dough at a time, roll the dough between your palms to form small balls, turn the balls in the egg whites until they are completely coated, and then drop them into the nuts and roll to coat.  Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Steadying each cookie with the fingers of one hand, use the pinkie of your other hand (or the end of a wooden spoon) to poke a hole in the center of each cookie.  Be careful not to go all the way down to the baking sheet.  

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets top to bottom and front to bake at the midway mark.  The cookies should be lightly golden.  Using a wide metal spatula, transfer them to a rack to cool to room temperature.  

Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets before baking the next batch.

Put the jam or jelly in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring, over low heat (or bring the jam to a boil in a microwave oven).  Using a small spoon, fill each thumbprint with hot jam.  Allow the cookies – and especially the jam – to cool to room temperature, at which point the jam will form a shiny, nonsticky finish.

Serving:  Just pile these on a plate and let the kids have at them.

Storing:  Covered, these will keep for about 4 days at room temperature or, packed airtight, they’ll keep for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Playing Around:  Melted Chip Thumbprints.  For a chocolate version of this treat, omit the jam and fill the cookies’ hollows with chips – chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch or a combination thereof – before baking.  Each cookie will only take a chip or two, but you’ll know they’re there.

 

Dorie Greenspan

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