Archive for the 'Chocolate' Category

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’d been meaning to try the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe for a few years, but I never got around to it. But then a couple weeks ago, a friend of mine in New York told me this is her favorite cookie recipe, and I immediately got it in my head that I needed to make them. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Everywhere I went, every time I opened a cookbook or my computer, I saw pictures of chocolate chip cookies. I even had smelled phantom cookies!

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The secret to this recipe is the chill-time. You’re supposed to let the cookie dough chill in the fridge for at least 24 hours before baking. I’d never attempted the recipe until now, mostly because I don’t have the patience to let dough sit around; I’ll either eat it all in one go, or need to bake it to get it out of my sight (yes, I typically love cookie dough more than the baked product!). My friend told me that she had left the dough in her fridge for 4 days!!!! And the cookies were out of this world. So…late Wednesday night I couldn’t stand the suspense any longer and I mixed up a batch of the dough. I exercised great self-control and didn’t bake the dough, or eat it (except for a few tastes) until today. If I’m doing the math correctly, the dough was in my refrigerator for about 91 hours before I baked it. 91 hours?! How did I not eat it all?! I’m pretty impressed with my willpower.

The science behind the extended chilling time is explained clearly in the NY Times article:

“A long hydration time is important because eggs, unlike, say, water, are gelatinous and slow-moving, she said. Making matters worse, the butter coats the flour, acting, she said, “like border patrol guards,” preventing the liquid from getting through to the dry ingredients. The extra time in the fridge dispatches that problem.” and, it turns out, the originator of the chocolate chip cookie, Ruth Wakefield, chilled the dough too, “At Toll House, we chill this dough overnight,” she wrote in her “Toll House Cook Book” (Little, Brown, 1953). This info is left out of the version of her recipe that Nestlé printed on the back of its baking bars and, since 1939, on bags of its chocolate morsels.”

I have to agree; the chilling time did wonders for the cookies. The dough tasted great right away, and even after sitting for nearly four days. I didn’t do a scientific comparison of how the baked cookies tasted after various chilling times but you can see that on this blog here if you’re really curious. What I do know is that the cookies, baked after the dough had been sitting for 91 hours, are delicious!! They are really crispy on the outside and chewy in the centers. I’ve never managed to get such a perfect, even, consistency in my cookies as this recipe created. I’m generally very impressed with these cookies – especially the sea salt sprinkled on the top, that adds an extra dimension to the flavors. I even want to eat more of the finished product, which, as I said before, doesn’t often happen. I usually just want the dough…

I didn’t have bread flour or cake flour, and just used all-purpose flour instead. I am curious as to how the cookies would be if I’d followed those directions more exactly — I guess I’ll have to make this recipe again! (I have no complaints about that). I made my cookies smaller than the original recipe calls for – the balls of dough were only about 1-inch in diameter before baking. I also have no complaints about the smaller size – they are easier to eat as a snack, and therefore probably easier to eat more of! 🙂

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: 18 very large cookies or 31 smaller cookies

Prep Time: 15 min + chill time

Cook Time: 18 min

Ingredients:

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (I used sea salt)
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks)
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
20 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)
extra chocolate chips, optional
sea salt (optional)

Directions:

1. Sift together the dry ingredients (flour through salt). I just scraped mine through a fine strainer/sieve since my sifter isn’t all that great. Set aside.

2. Use an electric mixer to combine the butter and sugars- mixing until the mixture is very light, about 5 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low, add the dry ingredients and, mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips. Place the dough in an airtight container and refrigerate a minimum of 24 to 36 hours before baking (and up to 72 hours).

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.

4. For 5-inch cookies, scoop six 3.25 ounce mounds of dough- giant golf ball-sized (I rolled mine into balls) onto a baking sheet, spacing them evenly apart. Don’t try to fit more on the sheet or you’ll end up with cookies baking into each other. Dot some extra chocolate chips on top, if desired. Sprinkle each ball of dough with a small pinch of sea salt, if desired.

5. Bake until the edges are golden brown and the center is lighter and soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 15 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a rack and let them cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.

Tips:

*If you’d prefer to make smaller cookies, shape your cookie dough into small golf ball-size instead (2 ounces), and bake for 12 to 16 minutes.

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Pumpkin Banana Bread

‘Tis the season for pumpkins and warm spices, even if it is beautiful, sunny, and hot outside here in Northern California. I know it is not so in the East Coast – my friends out there, please bundle up and find a nice cozy spot with a big blanket and a mug of hot cocoa or tea because it seems like this storm will be a big one! If you have all these tasty ingredients in your home, you should get right to baking this delicious treat, it will warm your soul and keep you happy through the storm. Happy soon-to-be Halloween!

The recipe is based on an old favorite banana bread recipe, which can be found here.

Banana Bread
Makes 1 full-sized loaf or 2 small loaves

Preheat the oven to 350.

In one bowl or an electric mixer, combine:

1/2 stick (4-5 tablespoons) butter, softened
2 eggs
2 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
2/3 cup sugar

Use your electric mixer to mix the ingredients – If you are not using an electric mixer, use a potato masher, fork, or spoon to squish the banana and mix the ingredients together. It is alright for there to be small chunks of banana in the batter, but you want most of the banana to be reduced to mush.

In another bowl, combine:

1 1/3 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves

Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix until the ingredients are blended together.

If you like, stir in additional ingredients here, such as chopped walnuts or pecans, dried cherries or apricots, or chocolate chips. A handful (about a half a cup) is about right. I used only chocolate chips in my bread.

Pour the dough into greased baking pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Small loaves take around 30 minutes, a normal-sized loaf takes around 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven. This bread is great warm, but it is excellent cold too.

After they have cooled for 5 or 10 minutes the loaves can be removed from the pan to cool. Once they are cool they can be individually wrapped and frozen.

Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Muffins

Using this recipe and this chocolate peanut butter, I have created a delicious treat! It took a couple tries, but this final batch is perfect! I think since it’s a muffin, it can be eaten any time. A perfect weekend breakfast (or anytime breakfast, because why not?), a great dessert, a tasty snack, a yummy addition to any potluck…anything you want it to be! That’s the best part of a chocolate muffin. Chocolate muffin, with chocolate chips mixed into the batter, with chocolate peanut butter baked on top. “Chocolate chocolate chocolate peanut butter muffin” could be a more accurate title.

I had to make a few adaptations to the recipe listed above. I kept the cupcake batter the same except I added more chocolate chips, and used a dairy-free milk. The first time I made this recipe, I made the peanut butter swirl the way it is listed in the original recipe (except used chocolate peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter). Because of the extra ingredients already in the chocolate peanut butter, it became a very thin mixture, and didn’t soak into the cupcake. It spread out, bubbled across the top of the pan, and burned. Terrible! Totally not fit for bringing to a potluck, or as a treat for coworkers, or anything…except some tastes of parts that could be pulled away from the burntness. Lots of tastes, actually.

I decided that the chocolate peanut butter could hold up on it’s own, and so skipped the extra ingredients the next time I baked them. I just plopped a teaspoon or so of chocolate peanut butter on top of the cupcake batter, and stuck them in the oven to bake. Voila! Delicious, perfect looking triple chocolate peanut butter muffins! Why didn’t I think of that the first time?

Here’s my version of the recipe. Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Muffins

Yield: about 20 muffins

Ingredients:

For the muffins:
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1¼ cups almond milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the peanut butter swirl:
1/2 cup Chocolate Peanut Butter (like: Dark Chocolate Dreams from Peanut Butter & Co.)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin tins with paper liners. To make the chocolate muffin batter, combine the butter and 1/3 cup of the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. (Alternatively you can microwave in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth.) Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk or mix briefly to combine. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the almond milk, vinegar, egg, and vanilla and whisk until combined. With the mixer on low speed, blend in the liquid mixture just until combined. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips with a spatula. Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each no more than 2/3 full. (These muffins will rise a lot!)

Drop a small spoonful of the chocolate peanut butter on top of the chocolate muffin batter. Swirl together using a skewer or knife.

Bake 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake

I’ve finished the second week of school…and am just about to begin the third week. On Friday, one of my third graders gave me three pears from a tree in her backyard. Such a nice gift! So, I made this chocolate and pear cake over the weekend and it is delicious! My pictures can’t do it enough justice, so you’ll have to go check out the original for yourself, from Smitten Kitchen.

Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

Rich, dark, dense, delicious.

This was a chocolate-almond-ginger cake for a good friend’s birthday. Everyone enjoyed it, and it seemed like the kind of cake that would still taste great a few days later…if it possibly lasted that long! The recipe was from here, and here’s how I adapted it:

I used half regular cocoa powder, and half black cocoa powder (purchased from a specialty baking supply store).

I put a thin layer of marzipan in between the two cake layers, along with the chocolate frosting slathered on and small pieces of crystallized ginger sprinkled on top of that.

*As you may have noticed, I’m not using a fancy camera anymore — Just my plain ol’ iPhone camera. One day I’ll get myself a nice new digital camera that takes quality pictures and this blog will be reinvigorated. For now, we’ll all just have to deal with silly phone features (which are kind of fun to use, but maybe not as appealing food-wise)

Super Bowl Ready

As of two weeks ago, I had never watched a football game. Not ever. Last year, another teacher asked me during our recess duty what I had done for the Super Bowl. I replied something like, “The Super Bowl was this past weekend? I had no idea.” To which he jokingly said, “Hey, have you ever heard of this thing called football? It’s a sport. People play it. There are fans.” These jokes continued for most of the school year…Of course I knew what football was…but had I ever watched a game? No. Did I care? Not really.

This year, I have two Super Bowl parties to attend (did you get that? Two!). And, two weeks ago, I even watched about 40 minutes of the 49ers vs. the Giants game. Apparently that’s called the NFC Championship Game. I even know which teams are playing this year…

Which is a huge step from not knowing that the Super Bowl even happened. Mostly I’m excited about the Super Bowl parties because the first one is all of my best friends hanging out (in one room, while some of their partners watch the game with all types of seriousness), and the second will feature team-themed food (New York themed food and New England/Boston themed food…and they are going all out. New York: New York cheesecake squares, Jewish deli corned beef Reubens, Kosher pickles and cole slaw, Brooklyn Lager. New England: New England clam chowder, Maine lobster-filled lobster rolls, Cape Cod potato chips, South Boston Irish car bombs, Sam Adams Boston Lager). Who doesn’t like a themed food party?

Being the only vegetarian attending, I was asked to bring something I could eat, which of course resulted in me brainstorming for hours. And what I came up with was…

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes.

Theme? Check. Easy to eat with your fingers while watching the game or holding a beer in the other hand? Check. Delicious? Check.

I guess I’ll be eating cupcakes, cheesecake squares, and drinking beer. And maybe watching the game a little. Sounds like a good Sunday to me!

Yellow Cupcake Batter Ingredients:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Whisk the almond milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes to get good and curdled.
Beat together the soy milk mixture, oil, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl.
Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until no large lumps remain.
Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before filling and/or frosting.

Custard Filling Ingredients:
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Make The Filling: Combine the 1/2 cup cream with 1/4 cup of the milk and cook over medium heat until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Immediately add 1/4 cup of the sugar and the salt. Stir until dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch and whisk to remove lumps. Whisk in the 2 eggs. Add the hot cream mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Return to the mixture to the saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens and is smooth (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients:
3 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate
2 Tblsp. butter
1/4 cup cream (or 1% milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Make The Chocolate Ganache: In double boiler, stir the chocolate pieces and 2 tablespoons butter until they are completely melted. Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, add the 1/4 cup cream in a thin steady stream. Mix vigorously until smooth. Stir in the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

To Assemble the cupcakes: Cut a cone shape out of the top of each cupcake. Cut the tips off the ends of the cones (this is when you get to sample the cupcake). Put a dollop of custard in the hole, and then put the top of the cone shape back on the top of the cupcake, hiding the custard filling. Spread chocolate ganache evenly over the cupcake. Eat. Enjoy. Have a second one!

Martha Stewart’s Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

As a vegan, I loved taking “fail-proof” recipes and adapting them to be vegan and proving that they were still sinfully delicious and could have a good texture when vegan. Right now though, I am loving baking with butter and eggs for one main reason: I get to try to all of these same recipes (and others that I have been oggling for years) exactly as they were meant to be made! I really do think that my vegan versions were wonderful and tasty, but it’s interesting to again taste flavors that I haven’t had in a long time and find out what the recipes were supposed to taste like. Of course I had to start out with a basic Martha Stewart recipe to see what the standard out there has been for a buttery, soft, and chewy chocolate chip cookie. And, dang! These cookies hit the spot. They were easy and quick to whip up and everyone who has tried them has asked for another. And another. And another…

Martha suggests using room temperature butter, but I have heard that if you melt the butter (and then cool it to room temperature), you will get a chewier cookie. I don’t know if that’s true because I didn’t do a controlled experiment in this case but I did try melting the butter, and I liked the results. Otherwise this is Martha’s recipe exactly, and makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and then cooled
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. coarse salt
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in a saucepan and let cool while you whisk together the flour and baking soda in a bowl. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add salt, vanilla, and eggs; mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Mix in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges turn golden but centers are still soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. Photos, Original Recipes & Text ©cookiesandcandids 2008-2010 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved. If you repost any material from this blog, please give credit by including a link back to me. Thank you!