Double Chocolate Cookies

IMG_2623

I’ve come to the conclusion that most people want to eat better or the best version of something they grew up eating.  This is why I try to stick to just improving the basics until they are the best.  Don’t even get me going on the “basic” chocolate chip cookie.  Sure, I tailor the best item to the recipient – I know my dad wants a buttery cookie to have with his espresso and my husband is always going to say the gooier the better.  However, I feel confident that regardless of your preferred flavor/texture profile, this cookie will exceed all expectations.  First of all, they are huge.  The recipe is not lying when it says that it makes 9 cookies.  Also, I have a major sweet tooth and i cannot eat more than one.  One is so satisfying.  And if you just need a nibble, half is pretty dang satisfying too.

This lovely recipe came from Blue Bottle Cafe (awesome coffee – seriously if you are on a coast, go) and was published by Joanne from Eats Well With Others.  She has a fabulous blog and I thank her for giving me this recipe.

A few notes about the recipe.  It makes HUGE cookies.  9.  That is no joke.  Just do it.  Each one is like eating a chewy, soft, chocolate dream.  It’s the chocolate cookie that will live up to expectations.  Which brings me to my next point: USE QUALITY COCOA.  Don’t use that garbage from the dollar store and expect these to turn out well.  Same for the chocolate pieces.  I have found that chips are fine to use, make sure they are quality.  At a minimum, I use Ghirardelli.  Usually, mo’ money, better chocolate.  Finally, you can triple this recipe, but any bigger than that, your artisan stand mixer from Kitchen Aid cannot hang.  Tripling is pretty intense for it as it is.

IMG_2621

I can’t stop writing about these cookies.  I just watched Billy Eichner and his manic energy inspired me. Just know that everyone loves them and they are the best.  Make them for your cookie trays for Christmas or make them for the nice firemen down the street.  Be nice to each other and do something for something for no reason other than love.

Oh yeah, and these cookies were what I made for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. You get some pretty awesome cookies from awesome bloggers (Michele at Alwayz Bakin’, Erika from Nommable, and Melissa from Ice Cream Inspiration) and you donate money to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.  What could be better?

Blue Bottle Double Chocolate Cookies

Yield: 9 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup natural cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp good quality coarse salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3.5 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

 

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed until fluffy, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla to the bowl, beating on medium speed, until well-incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then mix again for another 30 seconds.
  4. Scrape down the bowl and then add the flour mixture. Mix on low until combined and uniform in texture. Scrape down the bowl and add the chocolate. Mix on low until just combined. Refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  5. When you are ready to bake the cookies, heat the oven to 350F.
  6. Divide the dough into 9¼ cup portions and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or two) at least two inches apart.
  7. Bake for 11-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Krantz Cake

IMG_1630

I was turned onto this bread about a year ago when I read this post.  The gorgeous photos alone were enough to intrigue me and the description sounded lovely.  I actually endeavored to make this yeasted cake last Christmas, but in the mix of too much going on, I didn’t have the time to devote and it was abandoned.  Then, my lovely mother in law gave me a copy of Jerusalem (I may have hinted strongly).  Oh what a book it has been.  I have been cooking out of it for the past 2 years and still don’t think I have scratched the surface.  If you enjoy cooking and trying new flavors, please give it a whirl.  It is the best.

Onto this cake (bread). I didn’t grow up eating Chocolate Babka, but this is what that is.  Think, giant cinnamon roll in loaf form with chocolate instead of cinnamon.  To make this into french toast would really take it over the top.  The instructions on the post that I linked above are perfect, so go there and follow along. It’s more time consuming than difficult, and a lot of the time is resting time.

One note, this doesn’t travel super well.  It’s a pretty delicate bread, so I would keep it local for savoring.  This is a perfect bread to make for special people in your life for Christmas or any other holiday.

Summer Party Eats

Summer Party Eats
Summer Party Eats

Even though it is already October and I’m supposed to be Basic B*&^%ing it up with #PSLforLife, I’m still thinking about summer eats.  This Tucson “cold spell” with a high of 90 degrees isn’t exactly parka weather.

I was in a weird cooking rut all summer.  I realized part of the reason for the rut was that I was relying on too many tried and true recipes and it was making me bored.  Part of my creative outlet in the kitchen is trying new techniques, ingredients, and recipes.  It helps when I get some wins.  I’m all about less effort and maximum impact but on the other hand, happy to put in the work to yield an excellent result.  Long story short, I have tried some of the things on my long “to make” list and it was worth it, I’m much more excited about getting into the kitchen.  Also, making my husband fire up the grill more regularly definitely takes some pressure off me.

A few weeks ago, we had some lovely friends over and I wanted to make a cocktail.  I had suspicions that my friend may be pregnant, so I was sure to have it in alcohol free components.  Using this tequila watermelon cocktail recipe as a guide, I made a watermelon juice (easy- cut up watermelon, run in the food processor, strain), added lime juice, and simple syrup on the side.  WITH TEQUILA, Of course!!!  We had this salsa on the side, which I make a lot.  It is so easy, inexpensive, and more delicious than most store options.  To start off, we had the pioneer woman’s 7 layer dip.  There are tons of variations on this, and I don’t include black olives because yuck (in this context).

I was feeling wild, so I made chocolate cake.  This is my favorite chocolate bundt.  It has all my requirements for a yummy homemade cake: buttermilk, oil (butter dries it out), and cocoa powder.  It’s remarkably easy for being quite a show stopper of a dessert.  We had other things, but I’m not sure how I feel about the meat dish.  It was ok, not the best.

Happy Valentine’s Day Profiteroles

IMG_0712
Follow me on instagram! @jessicaisbaking

Happy Valentine’s Day!  It’s a strange holiday, with the forced love and all.  Because I have a work history in food service, you will never find me in a restaurant on Valentine’s Day.  Bless those people who deal with the masses.  We prefer to spend it at home in the lap of luxury, haha!  If you do the same, you may not already have a meal planned for the evening.  If I may suggest something, profiteroles are where it’s at.  You can make them ahead of time, serve them with store-bought ice cream (or whipped cream!!) and chocolate sauce, and who’s the hero now?

These particular profiteroles from Anne Burrell from the Food Network are taken over the top with a bit of cinnamon.   It seemed so easy that I thought I was doing something wrong.  The chocolate sauce is worth whipping together as well.  It comes together easily, while the pastries are in the oven and you won’t be able to resist taking a taste (or three) while you wait.  Use a high quality chocolate and you will be above and beyond what you can find in a restaurant.  Plus, you will be in your pajamas! What could be better?   Happy Valentine’s!

 

Turkey Talk

Let’s talk turkey.  On a greater scale, let’s talk logistics for the big day. While I have never hosted Thanksgiving (please don’t crucify me), I have made a Thanksgiving dinner for the two of us on other days because we love Thanksgiving and want the leftovers.  I also want to be prepared for the day that I do host Thanksgiving!

We tend to get the frozen turkey from the grocery store (because we buy so much that we get a free one) and the thawing definitely comes into play.  Also, I only use the Alton Brown turkey recipe.  It is the BEST!  It uses a brine which adds even more time to the lead time on Mr. Turkey.  So I work backwards.

What time do you want to eat Thanksgiving?  Count 5 hours backwards from that as a general time to put that turkey in the oven.  Count 16 more hours for the brine.  Then count 24 hours for every 4 pounds to thaw that sucker in the fridge. The USDA gives this nice guideline:

  • 4 to 12 pounds ……  1 to 3 days
  • 12 to 16 pounds …… 3 to 4 days
  • 16 to 20 pounds …… 4 to 5 days
  • 20 to 24 pounds …… 5 to 6 days

From my experience, it takes FOREVER to thaw.  But it is so important that you allow this to happen so you don’t have the dreaded cooked on the outside, frozen on the inside turkey situation.

I would highly recommend watching Alton’s videos since it is a method I have used numerous times with fantastic results: tender, flavorful turkey!!

More controversially, Mr. Brown has some strong opinions on stuffing inside the bird.  I grew up on stuffing inside the bird and it does taste amazing.  However, it results in a dry bird.  In order to get that stuffing to a safe temperature, you overcook that bird.  I tested it.  It’s true.  Now, it is all about priorities.  Do you care about stuffing in the bird or the bird itself?  I am a turkey person.  You decide for yourself!!

Tomorrow, I will regale you with a list of fabulous Thanksgiving recipes that I love.