Tag Archives: Nick Malgieri

Celebrity Crushes and Incredibly Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies

If we are to be completely honest with ourselves, we all have one! I’m referring to celebrity crushes here. You know what I’m talking about; someone in the public eye that you would actually have no chance with, but can’t help but like/be attracted to/daydream about. Celebrity crushes are a harmless way to perk up an otherwise drab day.

So here’s what I’m thinking. If somehow my darling husband meets his maker and dies an early death, and George Clooney were not available, I would likely hook up with Nick Malgieri. WHO???

Nick is an acclaimed pastry chef, teacher and author, with over 10 cookbooks to his name. I first began crushing on him in 2000 when I discovered his book, “Cookies Unlimited.” Here was a man who spoke my language and completely understood me. I think there is no better way to end a meal than a cookie. Nick shares my philosophy and offered me over 400 cookies to choose from. He really sealed the deal when I made his oatmeal lace cookies. Two gossamer thin oatmeal cookies sandwiched together with chocolate ganache.

Before Nick, there was Rance Mulliniks. And unless you are a major league baseball fan from the last century, you may once again say, “WHO??” Check him out in Wikipedia.”Rance played third base for the Toronto Blue Jays during their heyday period. He batted over .300 three times (1984, 1987 and 1989) and demonstrated great patience at the plate, regularly posting on-base percentages near .400. In 1984 he was named to Sports Illustrated’s Dream Team as a utility infielder.”

My husband is not threatened by either Nick or Rance. If you were to Google them you would instantly see why. Neither is genetically blessed with movie star looks, but physical pulchritude is besides the point here. Nick and I would spend our sunset years eating cookies and he would not care one bit how fat I became. Rance and I would watch reruns of the 1992 and 1993 World Series games over and over again. I never grow tired of hearing Jerry Howarth and Tom Cheek announcing, “Now batting for the Blue Jays, Number 5, Raaaance Mulliniks.”

As I was thinking about writing this column, it occurred to me that I had never asked my husband who his celebrity crush was. I suppose I should be flattered that it took him a full 8 hours to come up with an answer, and a further 7 hours to recall her name. (It was actress Mila Kunis, in case you are curious.) Upon further reflection, I wondered if his inability to instantly come up with a celebrity name meant he just lacked imagination. Not so, it’s just that he is very firmly rooted in practicality. So practical in fact, that he has decided that should I go first, he will take up with one of my good friends, since she already knows her way around the cottage kitchen! You have to admire his pragmatic nature.

Celebrity crushes are really quite innocuous, unless of course you start to take it too far and begin imagining that your crush would adore you if he met you, or start wondering if there is enough closet space for all your clothes at his place, once he tells his wife he’s leaving her for you. You know you have moved into danger territory if you start visualizing how your dishes will look in his kitchen and wondering if he would find you too forward if you insisted he paint his kitchen Benjamin Moore 360 (San Fernando Sunshine) as the current paint colour he has offends your strong sense of aesthetic. If this happens, you need to seek help, or a restraining order may be in your future.

My sister has fallen into the stalker territory with her crush on P.E.I Food Network Chef Michael Smith. It all seemed harmless enough at the beginning but once she found out he was separating from wife Rachel, visions of co-parenting their son Gabe, filled her head. Gabe is an amazing little guy, who eats everything his chef dad makes for him! Her hopes were quickly dashed when she discovered he was having a second child with a new love, Chastity Fizzard. Folks, I am not making this stuff up!

My sister has recovered, but Chef Michael’s star has somewhat tarnished in her eyes. That being said, she is correct in bragging about his Triple Chocolate Brownies. I have tried many different brownie recipes in my years of baking, but these come close to perfection. Deeply chocolate, chewy, fudgy and very rich and decadent. They could be just the thing to help you get over your celebrity crush.

Melt butter and 8 ounces of the very best quality bittersweet chocolate you can find. Do not use chocolate chips here. Chocolate chips contain an emulsifier in them to help them hold their shape during baking. Buy good quality chocolate (at least 60-70% cocoa content). I like Callebaut 70 %. Lindt bars  (70%) will also work quite well. I melt the butter and chocolate in a large stainless steel bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder so that there are no lumps.

Eggs, brown sugar and vanilla are added. The chocolate in these brownies is ramped up  even further by the addition of chocolate chips. You can use regular chocolate chips for this part of the recipe, but you will have even more stellar results if you just chop up some of the good stuff! (70% bittersweet chocolate)

Batter is mixed and poured into a parchment lined 9 x 13 Pyrex pan. You can grease and flour the pan, but parchment makes cleanup so easy and it makes cutting the brownies into squares a snap.

My sister likes to cut them into perfect Isosceles triangles. My fine motor skills are not quite as finely honed, but any shape will be devoured. They are quite moist and fudgy and the addition of chocolate chips to the batter makes for a nice surprise.

Click here to print recipe for Michael Smith’s Triple Chocolate Brownies.

Holiday Baking Day 3: Oatmeal Lace Sandwich Cookies

On Day 3 of my holiday baking I present to you “Oatmeal Lace Cookies. My day 2 cookies, Chocolate Chunk Caramel, would qualify for the heavyweight division. Loaded with shards of dark chocolate and melting pools of caramel, these are a hefty cookie, not for the faint of heart. Oatmeal Lace Cookies, on the other hand, fall into the lightweight division. Gossamer thin, crispy,  delicate, and dare I say, a little fragile, these are a beautiful cookie. They may look a little anorexic next to the chocolate chunk caramel, but rest assured, they are no lightweight in the taste department.

These cookies are the creation of Nick Malgieri. They come from his book, “Cookies Unlimited” (Harper Collins 2000). I have been known to have my celebrity chef crushes. A few years ago it was Jamie Oliver, lately I have been lusting after Chuck Hughes. But these are mere dalliances, compared to my feelings for Nick!

Oh dear, just read that last paragraph back to myself, and even to my ears it sounds a little creepy and stalkerish. Nick, if you’re reading this, please don’t be concerned. My admiration for you is purely professional. I have been a longtime student and admirer of Nick. His book, “How to Bake” was really my baking bible. His recipes are clear and methodical, leading to outstanding results every time. In 2008 he published The Modern Baker.  A Challenge to bake the entire book was set up by a blogging friend of mine. Modern Baker is filled with creative contemporary recipes that offer great time-saving techniques. However, I think that, of all of Nick’s books, Cookies Unlimited is my favourite.

The cookie batter is simple to put together. No mixmaster required. One bowl and a wooden spoon and you’re ready to go. Start with large flake or quick cooking (not instant) oats. They will need to be ground up a bit in the food processor or blender. They should be finely chopped but not ground to a powder. They should look like the second photo here.

Add some melted butter, sugar, eggs, orange juice and

Forming the cookies is not difficult, but it does take a little time. Here is a video showing you the best technique and tools for the job.

Leave lots of room between cookies on the baking sheet, as they will spread.

This year I sandwiched 2 cookies together with chocolate ganache to make a sandwich cookie. Plain melted chocolate will also be a perfect filling. They freeze beautifully, carefully layered between sheets of waxed paper, in an airtight container.

Click here to print the recipe for Oatmeal Lace Cookies.