What is a snack pastry? If anyone knows the answer to that question, it’s Jessie Sheehan. Her third cookbook, “Snackable Bakes,” features 100 recipes for “exceptionally scrumptious sweets and treats” — all of which can be put together in 20 minutes or less.
Don’t let the title of the book fool you, though. Sheehan uses the word “kitchen” quite loosely, as not all recipes require an oven. She states that she dislikes kitchen projects such as croissants, layer cakes, and even pie crust. His recipe for the last is a real guardian, a kind of riff on the traditional oil-based dough, but with melted butter.
Matt’s blueberry galette does indeed include the “easiest crust ever” – if you don’t try any other recipe in this column, please make this one. If you’re like me, you might have a bag or two of frozen blueberries tucked away in the bottom of your freezer. Take them out and assemble this patty – it shouldn’t take you long at all to put together, and the results are pretty amazing. Use a mix of fresh berries if you don’t like blueberries. I look forward to doing this with peaches in season.
None of Sheehan’s recipes call for creaming softened butter, resting, or cooling the dough; only a few require a machine. Yes, a mixer is needed to make frosting and whipped cream (more on that later), and a processor for a single recipe, otherwise they’re extremely streamlined. Its list of pantry ingredients is limited to one page, and I guess every home baker already has them all on their shelf.
She also offers ideas on how to put your baked goods together: “Rather than mixing your dry and wet ingredients separately in two different bowls, as baking recipes traditionally call for, vigorously whisk together the sourdough, salt and spices, one at a time, directly into the wet ingredients; then, when combined, stir in the flour.
Sheehan says it saves you from overworking your flour and produces tender baked goods every time, and it also reduces the number of bowls you use. She was introduced to this technique by Deb Perelman (of Smitten Kitchen fame) and she hasn’t looked back since. Plus, she measures her ingredients with a scale, “because it means less cleanup — and I won’t lie, I despise cleanup,” she says.
That said, from this column, you’ll notice that I’m going to introduce the ingredients by weight as well as by volume. Many readers have asked for this, and for nearly four decades of posting recipes here, I resisted. But it makes sense, not only for ease of cleaning, but also for precision, which we know is important when cooking. A small scale is an inexpensive but handy tool to add to your kitchen, but for readers who prefer measuring with cups, I’ll continue to list them first in every recipe.
The author also credits his mother-in-law for the inspiration. “She’s a great baker (and cook)…all about comfort food, all the time…and that for me just seals the deal,” Sheehan says. Hundreds of recipes from magazines years ago contribute to this collection. She adds that “there is nothing like seeing Martha [Stewart] in an early 90s outfit with a tray of cookies in hand, to really get the cooking juices flowing.”
There’s also a love letter to marshmallows. Those of us who remain fond of s’mores and Rice Krispie candies already know this, but adding marshmallows will help thicken and set a mousse. This means you can make an egg-free mousse, for those who are allergic to it. Additionally, Sheehan adds some melted marshmallow to her whipped cream, which she calls “extremely special whipped cream.” This stabilizes the cream – you can also add a tablespoon of marshmallow creme (aka Fluff) if you prefer, which saves another bowl of washing up.
I can see some readers rolling their eyes, but remember, in this writer’s opinion, there are many foods (sweetened condensed milk and even Velveeta cheese) that belong in the kitchen. Sheehan calls marshmallows “pure sugar witchcraft.” They can be vegetarian, and I guess if you prefer, you can make your own marshmallows to use in recipes. Sometimes, however, it seems like we go to extremes when we have perfectly good ingredients ready to go.
Enough philosophy for now. Here are some of Jessie Sheehan’s recipes to try. I think this is a book that home bakers will enjoy and bake regularly. At least I know I will!
Easiest chocolate marshmallow mousse
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Dutch cocoa powder
Prepare six 6 oz ramekins or tea cups. Place marshmallows in medium saucepan with ¾ cup heavy cream, chocolate, cocoa powder and salt; cook over medium heat until marshmallows melt and mixture is smooth, stirring occasionally with flexible spatula. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and let cool to room temperature; whip the remaining cream and vanilla together in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until medium to stiff peaks form; Gently fold the cream into the cooled chocolate mixture in three batches and transfer to the ramekins. Serve immediately or refrigerate until chilled. Top each with extremely special whipped cream.
Extremely Special Whipped Cream
1 generous tablespoon of marshmallow creme
1 cup (237 mL) heavy cream, cold
1 tablespoon icing sugar
Whisk all ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer; then beat on medium-high speed until medium peaks form. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week.
Matt’s blueberry patty with the easiest crust ever
1⁄3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
Two and a half cups (365 g) blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Whisk granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt in medium bowl; stir in blueberries, vanilla and lemon juice and set aside.
½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
¼ cup (59 mL) whole milk, cold, plus more for brushing
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
Whisk flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in large bowl; stir in butter and milk and stir with fork until mixture comes together when pressed. Knead a few times in the bowl with your hands, then roll out the dough on a long sheet of parchment paper and shape it into a flat disc in the center of the paper. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top and roll out the dough until it is about a quarter inch thick and a round shape. Place the dough, still between the parchment paper, on a baking sheet, and peel off the top sheet. Transfer berries to center of dough, leaving 2-inch border; Carefully fold over edges, decoratively pressing pastry folds together and brush with milk. Sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar and bake in preheated 400°F oven for 45 to 50 minutes, turning halfway through, until topping is bubbly and edges of crust are lightly browned. Allow the patty to cool briefly before slicing with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Store the galette, covered, at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
1¼ cup (296 ml) vegetable oil
2 ¼ cups (450g) granulated sugar
1 1⁄3 cups (315 ml) whole milk
1 lb (454 g) whole strawberries, fresh or frozen, hulled and coarsely chopped
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
Heat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; line with a long piece of parchment paper that extends over both long sides of pan and set aside. Whisk oil, sugar and vanilla in large bowl for 30 seconds; whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then the milk. Sprinkle the baking powder and salt into the bowl, one at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition, then gently fold in the flour with a flexible spatula, until the last dusting of flour disappears – the dough will be lumpy. Scrape batter into prepared pan and evenly distribute strawberries on top; sprinkle generously with turbinado sugar and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, turning the cake halfway through. The cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out with a moist crumb or two; Remove the cake from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Serve in slices, directly in the pan with parchment paper, passing a butter knife around the edges if it resists; keep wrapped cake on counter for up to 3 days.