Hooray! Molly Yeh’s New Cookbook (and a Few Other Favorites), Plus Marzipan and Sea Salt Mandel Bread

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This time last year, I was most certainly not baking – not a single cookie nor bar nor brownie. I was knee deep in operating a pop-up department store for food. And since pop-ups are the past and a permanent retail space is all over my future, I spend most of my moments writing and estimating and presenting, and a few of them baking from all of my friends’ new cookbooks.

Before I talk about all of those new cookbooks (below), I want to eat up all this Mandel Bread and talk about Molly Yeh‘s new cookbook Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories From an Unlikely Life on a Farm. I first met Molly at the start of my own cookbook tour in the fall of 2015. We were both speaking at a conference hosted by two friends out in Portland, Oregon — thank you, Melissa and Joy — and I kinda fell in love with Molly in a quick second. She was funny and affable and a little goofy and just her. We talked about lots of things, including all the nerves and anxiety and joy that goes into making a cookbook from scratch. I remember sharing a car to the airport and hugging good-bye thinking, “gosh, don’t go Molly because you made Portland super fun.”

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Well, now, Molly’s made my holidays super fun. I’ve always been a marzipan fan but found it a little intimidating to use in my baking, let alone make from scratch (which Molly does in her cookbook). She’s eased marzipan and a few other once-intimidating foods. Besides this delicious Marzipan and Sea Salt Mandel Bread (which is basically the holidays in a bar and dairy-free), her recipes for Challah Bread and Pita have made me feel powerful, superhero-style, and I think it may do the same for you.

The book itself is set-up to tell Molly’s life story, with essays that are just the right size as introductions to chapters full of recipes, some straight-up like Basic Challah and others are more mash-up like, blending all her experiences and cultures into single recipes that sound weird but make so much sense – like a Scallion Pancake Challah or Schnitzel Bao with Sriracha Mayo and Sesame Pickles. I’ve gifted that Scallion Pancake Challah to about five friends who beg me for more two days later.

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This cookbook is personal, intimate, and it’s told best-friend style, from one bud to another. It’s like a diary, only more grown-up in style with essays, illustrations and everyday life photography. I really love all parts of Molly on the Range, and I’m so excited that it’s finally out in the world, Molly. A huge Mandle Bread-filled cheers to you!

Before you go, I want to tell you about a few other new cookbooks from friends (and friends of friends) who also worked their bums off to bring books that are both beautiful and helpful into the world. I am a big fan each of these and hope you get a chance to check them out!

Alternative Baker, Alanna Taylor-Tobin

Dorie’s Cookies, Dorie Greenspan

Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking, Jessica Koslow

Gather, Gill Meller

Green Kitchen Smoothies, David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl

Scandinavian Gatherings, Melissa Bahen

Simple, Diana Henry

Small Victories, Julia Turshen

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book, Sarah Kieffer

eatboutique_mollyyehcheers

Marzipan and Sea Salt Mandel Bread

The reason I never loved mandel bread growing up is the reason I love it now: its dry, dense, crispy identity. It’s the perfect edible gift to send to far-away friends due to its sturdiness and longer-than-most-cookies shelf life. Only my mandel bread crispness is disrupted throughout by the nice softness of marzipan rather than the traditional whole almond, so it’s an enjoyable cookie on its own or dipped in whatever hot liquids you got in that mug. -Molly

Makes: 28 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 7 to 8 ounces marzipan
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flavorless oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips
  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
  • Pearl sugar or sprinkles, for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Cut the marzipan into 1/2-inch pieces and toss with the powdered sugar. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil until combined. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, and then whisk in the vanilla and almond extract. Use a wooden spoon to gradually mix in the flour mixture, marzipan, and cacao nibs or chocolate chips. (This dough can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.)
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions and place on the lined baking sheet. Mold the dough into two 14 x 3-inch rectangles about 3 inches apart. Sprinkle the tops with a few pinches of sea salt and pearl sugar or sprinkles.
  6. Bake until the centers are set and the bottoms are lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 250ºF. Let the mandel bread cool slightly and then use a sharp serrated knife to cut crosswise into 1-inch-thick slices. Turn the slices on their sides and bake for 20 more minutes, or until desired crispness. Let cool slightly and enjoy with coffee, hot chocolate, or tea.
Photos taken by Heidi Murphy/ White Loft Studio.

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