When you’re in a great food city—and for some seemingly coincidental reason, I always seem to be living in a city that’s built around food—some of the best recipe inspiration can come from eating out. Whether it’s a skillet of goat cheese and caramelized onion biscuits or banana peanut butter Elvis cupcakes, from sweet to savory chances are a restaurant near you is serving up something amazing.
How does that saying go…imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? That most certainly applies in cooking. To recreate a recipe at home, you have to have loved the original enough to go without a guide, putting yourself and your guests in a highly risky situation. Ingredients could be wasted, pans could be ruined, you could be left hungry and more than a little sad. That dramatic “throw the pan in the sink” move you’ve seen acted out in television and movies? Yup, that could happen.
So why even bother? Because with a little careful measuring and research into similar recipes, you can come up with that perfect restaurant or bakery dish at home. And better yet, whatever you make at home can be tailored to your tastes. Which means chives in the biscuits and however much frosting you want on that cupcake. (A lot. Like a tower.)
There is a bakery in Boston, a bakery where absurd things happen and the entire menu reads like my dream cookbook, if only my dream cookbook came without recipes and was just pictures. And was also interactive. Because you could eat the pictures. Flour is the name, and while it’s infamous for a certain sticky bun, there are plenty of other ridiculous creations begging to be eaten straight out the oven with a glass of milk. Like these Chunky Lola cookies. With coconut, nuts, and huge chunks of chocolate folded in, they’re essentially the exotic version of the best chocolate cookie. For lovers of Mounds bars, they are perfect.
Another reason I recreate some of my favorite restaurant and bakery goods at home is simple: I cannot live everywhere at once. Right now in NYC, I can go out and get a Brooklyn blackout cake or a macadamia nut turtle bar from the Two Little Red Hens. (There is a god.) But that means that malasadas, gruyere donuts, and any Flour good has to come from my kitchen. As far as developing recipes goes, cookies are relatively simple. Also a bonus: making a batch of Chunky Lolas means you can have 24 cookies, without having to carry them out of the store…