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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: 2014 Q4

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Marc J. Sievers

Developing new recipes allows me the opportunity to experiment with all kinds of ingredients.  Whether they are from my local grocery store, a gourmet food shop, or even an ethnic market, the possibilities and combinations are endless.  Sometimes navigating your way down the aisles and seeing the amount of variety there is when it comes to brands, packaging, and price (we have all had those “YIKES!” moments), can be a bit overwhelming.  Usually when I am testing a recipe that has a star ingredient, like chocolate, I go straight for the best quality I can find but still in my price range.  The outcome – my Triple Chocolate Cookies – so incredibly luxurious in both texture and taste that I have had to stop keeping some of the ingredients in the house because I can’t stop making (and ultimately eating!) them.

These cookies are filled with rich Pernigotti Cocoa Powder, Guittard Milk Chocolate Chips, and French Président Butter.  While most of my posts and recipes encourage you to shop at your local grocery, this recipe is one I highly recommend you splurge on these few ingredients.  If your local grocery doesn't have these particular brands, you can easily find them online and have them shipped directly to you, even the butter


Triple Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients (makes 12 cookies)

  • Flour – 1 cup, all-purpose

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Baking Powder – 1 teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ¼ teaspoon

  • Cocoa Powder – ¾ cup, unsweetened, Pernigotti recommended

  • Dark Brown Sugar – 1 ½ cups, lightly packed

  • Eggs – 3, extra-large, at room temperature

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature, Président (or another European-style) recommenced

  • Unsweetened Baking Chocolate – 4 ounces, finely chopped

  • Milk Chocolate Chips – 11.5 ounces (1 bag), Guittard recommended

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a single baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa power. Set aside.

  3. In another medium bowl whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, honey, and vanilla until there are no lumps from the brown sugar. Set aside.

  4. In a small microwave safe bowl add the butter and unsweetened chopped chocolate. Microwave on half power for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally until just melted and smooth.

  5. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until completely combined.

  6. Toss the chocolate chips in the flour mixture. Fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. Allow the dough to rest for exactly 20 minutes at room temperature.

  7. Using a 2 ¼-inch scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Only 6 cookies will fit per baking sheet, per baking cycle.

  8. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes until just set, rotating the sheet tray once halfway through baking time.

  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat above steps to finish baking the other 6 cookies.

Idea: These cookies can be served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce drizzled over top – a truly decedent treat!

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Rolled Vanilla Cookies

Marc J. Sievers

Entertaining friends, family, and clients is something that truly brings me joy.  Surprising people with little details, thoughtfully crafted tablescapes, and rustic food is my life’s passion and interest.  Ever since I was a little boy growing up alongside my nana (Ms. Rita Madonna Hillard-Berube) poking about the china cabinets, cupboards, and pantry to set the table or to help cook was, and still is, where you can find me!

The holidays in our 3rd floor walk-up apartment were always bountiful, festive, and magical.  The tinsel clad tree in the living room, the electric candles in all 18 windows, the stockings and Christmas cards hung around the doorways, and the constant ebb and flow of family and friends – and the food that seemed to (and still does!) go on forever.  Nothing was fussy, perfect, or over-calculated.  Everything was infused with love – the key ingredient.

As I look back to the parts of the holidays (and birthdays, card nights, and other celebrations) that stuck with me, the main theme was always every inch of our Farley Street apartment was utilized.  The kitchen table was piled high with hors d’oeuvres, the tiny kitchen counter was set up with drinks, the coffee table had dips (Bugles and Shrimp dip, to be exact), cookies, fudge, and so on.  That was the key to keeping the festivities moving about, encouraged mingling, and ultimately allowed for what seemed like a never ending party!  Now, fast forward to present day.  I am 33 and still following in nana’s footsteps: Cooking and entertaining for friends and family but with a Marc Sievers twist! 

The iconic Christmas cookie – seen in every grocery store, specialty food shop, and home cook’s kitchen in America – is still one of my favorite components this time of year.  Buttery, crisp, and covered in course sanding sugar, my Vanilla Christmas Cookies are the closest I have gotten to the memories of my childhood.  They are fuss-free, and the ingredients (including the colored sugars) can be found at your local grocery store.  For a slightly more elegant look (as elegant as sanding sugars can be!), I found matte silver and gold Wilton sanding sugars at my local crafts store. 

For my annual Christmas party, I wanted to create a focal point for my coffee table that would double as part edible and part décor.  Setting up vignettes like I mentioned above really allows your guests to mingle about your entire space, or at least the space you want them in (serving in the powder room is not something I have tried, yet!).  A quick trip to my corner pharmacy (I still love those “seasonal” aisles), I found an adorable iron ornament tree, which I used to hang my Christmas cookies on – take that “cookie platter!”  As guests indulge in the festive cookies, keep a tray of extra cookies strung with ribbons on hand to refill the tree, and a separate tray piled high with cookies (arranged in another area of your entertaining space) minus the ribbons for those “cookie-aholic” guests (that’s me!).

This holiday season while you are entertaining, make sure you too are enjoying this marvelous time of year.  Focus on a few things and do them really well – it’s better to have fewer components if they are delicious, well thought out, and filled with love!  Thank you for taking a walk down memory lane with me, I hope that my memoires sparked some of your own.  From my home to yours – I wish you the merriest of Christmases and the brightest year ahead!


Rolled Vanilla Cookies

Ingredients (makes 2-3 dozen cookies)

  • Flour – 3 ½ cups, all purpose

  • Baking Powder – 1 teaspoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Butter – 2 sticks, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Sugar – 1 ½ cups, granulated

  • Eggs – 2 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment add the butter. With the mixer set to medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate. Gradually add the sugar and then the vanilla.

  4. Set the mixer to low speed and gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

  5. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half, shape each half into a flat disk, wrap each one in waxed paper, and chill for 1 hour.

  6. Working with one disk at a time, roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough with festive cookie cutters. Place the shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with colored sugars. Using the end of a chopstick, make a hole in the top of each cookie.

  7. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.

  8. Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack.

  9. Once cooled, string ribbon through each hole and hang.

  10. Repeat the above process until all the dough has been baked.

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Fall Entertaining Ideas

Marc J. Sievers

My philosophy for entertaining has always been “love is in the details”. It’s the little details that can really make your soirée a day or evening to remember. Details do not have to be elaborate, complicated, or expensive. They should be savvy, creative, and re-creatable time and time again, but with a twist. Oh, and fabulous! With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to show you how you can transition simple concepts, textures, and ideas into inspired details for Fall parties, whether you are entertaining two or twenty.

Whether you are entertaining in your studio apartment, on your kitchen island, or in an expansive dining room, having a centerpiece or focal point helps to ground everything around it. For a smaller table, just one piece will do. For a larger table or sideboard, use multiple of the same arrangement to create a more impactful look.

Here I used a simple glass hurricane, white pillar candle, cake pedestal (for height), wreath picks (that you can save and reuse year after year), and mini pumpkins. This arrangement will last for weeks without any maintenance, except for changing out the candle as your burn through it. The same hurricane can be used for other holidays of everyday décor.

Look to your local grocery store for fabulous supplies for your table! My local grocery store is my #1 place where I get all my flowers. I buy like-colors and arrange them in multiples down the center of my table, add one to my guest bathroom, coffee table, and bar top. This will help carry my theme through the entirety of my chateau apartment.

Here I used clean, covered tomato cans as vases. I also turned turnips, which are the epitome of Fall, into votive holders. Because of their natural texture and tones they take on a pottery feel and add such rustic-chic charm! Mini pumpkins also make adorable votive holders.

Details like these place card holders with fresh rosemary (you can also use thyme, sage, or your favorite combination) adds lovely aromatics as well as a statement to your table. Guests can then take their little bundle home with them and cook with the herbs and use the place marker as a book markers for their favorite cookbook.

Wreath picks and mini pumpkins take on another concept in my favorite French antique wooden bowl. For years this has been my “seasonal bowl”. It gets a makeover once a month and is always filled with fabulous goodies. This can be set out on September 1st and kept through Thanksgiving.

Starting out organized is the first key to a successful soirée. Here are my top 5 tips to follow: 

  1. Start by choosing the style of party; a plated dinner (more formal feel), family-style (informal, casual), buffet or potluck (great for large groups), or cocktail party (perfect for a specific theme).

  2. Focus on a special dish or “show-stopper” and use the following tips and tricks for everything else to help you along the way. This won’t be your last dinner party or soirée, so focus on one thing and do it fantastically, then try something different for the next!

  3. Balancing your time and resources will help both you and your guests enjoy the party to the fullest! Don’t feel obligated to pull out the “big-guns” for every element you are going to serve. Find store-bought brands that you love and trust, and integrate those pre-made components in the steps that make the most sense for the assistance that you need to successfully host your soirée.

  4. Having a theme to your soirée and the food you serve is essential, but don’t go overboard. Try not to be too literal with your tablescape and décor.

  5. If you don’t have a coat closet (or it’s full!), set up a portable garment rolling rack in the foyer or bedroom for coats. Make sure to have plenty of wooden hangers at the ready.

Happy Fall entertaining!

My original article was published on VRAI Magazine - October 2014

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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