Breakfast & Brunch

The Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook Revisited

April 20, 2011 (Last Updated: December 30, 2019)

A couple months ago, I reviewed the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook and shared some recipes. I not only mentioned my desire to attempt several other recipes from the book in the near future, but also some concerns about the reliability and accuracy of some of the recipes. The yields for several recipes are questionable, as are some techniques. I recently made 3 more recipes from the book, and wanted to share some more of my thoughts (and another recipe).

First off, I made the peanut butter cookies. A classic. Many recipes for these cookies are very similar, but I decided to try the Clinton St. Baking Company’s recipe and share the outcome. The technique in their recipe says to roll the dough into a cylinder and then cut it with a knife, yielding 12 cookies. Usually when recipes ask you to “slice and bake” cookies, they suggest rolling the dough in parchment, freezing it, and then slicing. The Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook left out all those vital details. The dough was very soft and sticky, and could never be rolled and sliced just as is. Impossible. I opted for an easier technique of using a small ice cream scoop to portion out the cookies, then gently flattening them with my hand and using a fork dipped in flour to make the crosshatch design on top. This worked great, all the cookies were the same size and shape, and the recipe yielded 22, not 12 cookies as stated in the book. If you make these cookies and plan to “slice and bake” them, by all means, use the freezing method. I’m shocked the recipe was published as written. It’s definitely missing critical information. With that said, the cookies tasted great. But the recipe has some holes.

I also made the long-awaited po’ boys. I used the recipe more as a guide, and less as a strict recipe. If you know how to follow the standard breading procedure (seasoned flour, seasoned egg, seasoned “crust”–be it bread crumbs, cornmeal, crushed cornflakes, etc), then you really don’t need the recipe for the fish portion. I seasoned the flour with salt, pepper, and cayenne and added salt, water, and Tabasco sauce to the eggs. The final mixture contained equal parts panko and cornmeal. I split, buttered and toasted the soft sub rolls I used for the bread, and filled the sandwich with romaine lettuce and sliced tomatoes in addition to the fish. Finally, and most importantly, I included some homemade tartar sauce, following the exact recipe in the book. The tartar sauce was a home run, as were the po’ boys as a whole. The tartar sauce is perfect for any fried, broiled, or seared fish or seafood. It has a great kick from the Tabasco and a lot of flavor that is lacking from store-bought varieties.

Finally, I made the banana chocolate chunk muffins, which were very successful. I love that they contain chunks of banana, as opposed to mashed banana. This results in a really delicious and strong banana flavor with every bite. The recipe says to cut the bananas into 1-inch chunks, but I think those are way too big for a standard size muffin. Cutting them a touch smaller helps incorporate them better into the batter. Also, the recipe originally uses more of the crumb mix to top, but there really is very little room to add more crumb mix without making a huge mess all over your pan (as it is, I use an ice cream scoop to neatly and evenly portion out the batter). A little goes a long way. These muffins were fantastic, and I would highly recommend making them. Not only easy to make, but incredibly moist and delicious. My sister said they were her favorite muffins ever! I really loved them too, and used plain yogurt instead of the sour cream suggested in the recipe, and bittersweet chocolate in place of semisweet. My adapted recipe is below…

Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffins
Makes 10 muffins
(Adapted from The Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook)

Crumb Mix:
2 T. all-purpose flour
2 T. sugar
Pinch ground cinnamon
1 T. unsalted butter, cubed

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 stick (4 T.) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
3/4 cup 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate chunks (from about 3.5 oz chocolate), chips can be substituted, as can semisweet chocolate (52-62% cacao)
2 perfectly ripe or overripe medium-sized bananas, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

For the crumb mix: Combine the dry ingredients and then cut in the butter with your hands until you have pea-sized crumbs. Store crumb mix in the refrigerator until needed. It can be stored there for a couple weeks, if needed.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 10 cups in a standard-size muffin pan, or line with paper muffin cups. Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Add the egg and mix until smooth. Add 1/2 the yogurt, mix well, then add 1/2 of the dry ingredients, mix, add the remaining yogurt, combine and then finish off with the rest off the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks and bananas until evenly mixed.

Use a leveled off standard-size ice cream scoop (with a release trigger) to portion out batter into each of the 10 cups. Top each muffin with some of the crumb mix, distributing evenly. Bake for 28 to 33 minutes, until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean (beware that melted chocolate and hot banana chunks can easily make the toothpick not look clean. Just try again with a new toothpick until you pierce the actual unobstructed dough).

Cool for about 10 minutes or longer before releasing muffins from the pans. Serve at room temperature.

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