Double Chocolate Cookies

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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.

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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.
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Croissants

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Croissants are probably one of my favorite foods.  I am really not a bread person.  I don’t really buy it and I don’t miss it.  I will make a cinnamon roll or the like, but I consider that to be a sweet.  I prefer a savory breakfast and eat eggs in some form every morning.  However, if I am having a rough time of it, a croissant is in order.  When I was working in NYC, every time I departed from the subway in the morning, I passed a bakery that had bagels, rolls, and fresh croissants.  It was so easy to dip in, get my warm, buttery, flaky croissant, and continue the route to work.  Also, my favorite place to eat in NYC is City Bakery.  They take the classic croissant and step up the game with a Pretzel Coissant.  They use a salt wash on the outside of the pretzel and it is a bit dryer (in a good way) than a classic croissant.  The croissant at Starbucks is not great, but not bad, and it will do in a pinch.  Also, it has less calories than most of the stuff in their pastry case.  So, croissants are a health food.

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I am currently in transition from one job to another and I have some extra free time.  It is just so much easier to devote your time to these lengthy project when you know you have limited distractions (like a job – hah).  I was inspired by Dominique Ansel’s Cronut recipe that has been recently published.  However, I thought if i were going to ever attempt making the cronut, I needed to make a classic croissant first, to understand the basics of a laminated dough.

I did some research and was pointed to the Cooks Illustrated method.  I read about other home baker’s errors and made a game plan to avoid them.  I loaded up on King Arthur All Purpose flour (not an ad), just recommended since it has a slightly higher gluten content than other all purpose flours.  I also loaded up on Plugra, a high fat content butter.  I scoped our house for a cool spot for the final rise.  I was concerned about this, being in the desert, but I found a closet that is nice and cool.  I watched the Cook’s Illustrated video about a million times and got to work.  The process was lengthy, but straightforward.  I was nervous at the end, just because so much work went into the pastries, but they turned out great.  When I was rolling them, I put some 60% chocolate into some of the croissants, and gruyere sticks and prosciutto in others.  I left more than half plain and wish I had filled more, but all were wonderful.  I found the process a lot less tedious than making a pie.  I think that says something about me, not sure what!

 

Coconut Chocolate Toffee Cowboy Cookies

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Cookies and Christmas.  It’s like football and dip.  Movies and popcorn.  Champagne and celebrations.  Good news for you, today is the reveal of the Great American Cookie Swap, so the internet is awash with fabulous cookie recipes to make your Christmas celebration complete.

The premise of the Great American Cookie Swap is pretty simple, donate a small amount to Cookies For Kids Cancer and receive the names of three lovely food bloggers (is that what I am?) to send a dozen cookies and receive 3 dozen cookies from three other food bloggers!  I received one dozen spicy oatmeal raisin cookies from Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe,  one dozen cornmeal and olive oil  biscotti from Cheryl at Crazy World of Cher, and Pfeffernussen from  Simply Sweet Justice.  YUM to all!

If you are compiling your “cookies to make” list, I encourage you to consider this Kicked Up Cowboy Cookie.  [Even though at this point in the season, the last thing you need is more ideas on what to make.  I’d take an elf to bake everything while I watch “Love Actually” on repeat.]  After eagerly waiting almost a year to participate in the Great American Cookie Swap, I obsessed over the perfect cookie to send.  I settled on this Kicked Up Cowboy Cookie because it can be a meal.  Oats, Coconut, Chocolate, and Toffee, what else do you need?!   These would be a perfect bake sale cookie too, there is nothing weird in there, just good stuff!

I made these the day before Thanksgiving (always wise to tear up the kitchen the day before a major meal) and basically had cookies for lunch.  Someone had to eat the ugly ones.  One relative had to evacuate the kitchen for fear of eating a full tray.  These are chewy and chocolatey, with enough salt to keep you coming back.  They come together quickly, all you need is some elbow grease to mix in all the ingredients.   These are barely adapted from Former First Lady Laura Bush’s recipe and they are award winning (in my opinion)!

Coconut Chocolate Toffee Cowboy Cookies

adapted from Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookie

Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup toffee pieces

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups sweetened flake coconut

 Directions:

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl.

In large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.

Gradually beat in sugars; beat to combine, 2 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each.

Beat in vanilla extract.

Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Add chocolate chips, toffee pieces, oats, and coconut.  Refrigerate dough for one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 


For each cookie, drop 1/4 cup dough onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are lightly browned; rotate sheets halfway through. 

Remove cookies from rack to cool.

 

November 2013 Foodie Penpals

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Sweet Alexis over at A Simple Spoon really outdid herself.  She lives in New England and stuck to local treats, which I love!  Alexis sent me Effie’s Homemade Oatcakes and I love the crunch and the slight sweetness. Also, the Biena Chickpea Snacks were an awesome afternoon snack and with cinnamon maple on them, they are sweet enough to keep your tastebuds happy until dinner,  and they have an amazing crunch!!

Kathie’s Kitchen SuperSeedz in sugar and cinnamon were another amazing afternoon snack too!  I love pumpkin seeds and this was the perfect fall flavor!  I have thrown them into salads and I love the flavor they add.  Lastly, Alexis threw in chocolate for good measure, which I mean who in their right mind would turn down chocolate?!

Foodie penpals is great fun (as you can see) and if you are interested in joining us, please go to The Lean Green Bean to learn more!

The Lean Green Bean

Mini Spicy Chocolate Cheesecake Bites / 2013 Oscar Night Menu

Mini Spicy Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

Since I have been married and living in a cold weather climate, my husband and I enjoy going to see the Oscar movie picks (or what appears to be).  We rarely go any other time during the year but that cold part of early January finds us sneaking off to the movies every chance we can get.  This year was no exception.  Of the movies we went to see, I have created a silly little menu for the Oscar viewing tonight.  If all else fails, make this salted dark chocolate popcorn and curl up to watch movie stars who haven’t eaten in a month.  Our short list of Oscar films:

  • Argo (an Old Fashioned, since the stress of the situation drove the hostages to drinking much brown liquor)
  • Silver Linings Playbook (a Philly cheesesteak in honor of the City of Brotherly Love: Paleo version or regular version [however cheese whiz is really disgusting to me])
  • Lincoln (in researching for last weeks President’s Day post, I read that Abe Lincoln was not a big eater but liked apples and bacon, so we shall have Roasted Brussels Spouts with Apples and Bacon).
  • Les Miserable (bread.  duh.  I made Her New Roots’ Life Changing Bread in anticipation! Yummy!)
  • Zero Dark Thirty (Mini Terrorist Cheesecakes: because they are evil and must be destroyed)  Recipe at the bottom.

Overall, I think Argo should receive the Best Picture Award.  The story is gripping and tight.  At no point in the film did I wonder how long it had been running or when it would be over.   The viewer is right there with the characters, wondering and praying that they will make it out alive!

Les Mis, had to fulfill a huge legandary story and fell just slightly short in some areas.  While an epic film, was definitely too long (they added a song?!).  The gritty, dark camera work and the sweeping camera shots of the French countryside and the opening scenes set the stage very well.  I loved Eddie Redmayne’s voice and Hugh Jackman had a stunning performance. Kudos to Anne Hathaway for showing us that she is crazy for her art, I wish I hadn’t seen her previewed part before the movie, since it is such a moving piece.  Overall, Bravo! Anne.  Out of the nominations for Best Supporting Actress, she deserves it.  However, Russell Crowe was on the lacking side, contributing to the overall disconnected film.

I saw Lincoln on Thanksgiving day so it has been a while since I saw the movie but it was fantastic.  Daniel Day Lewis does embody the president and the entire ensemble gave stellar performances.  It’s funny because with this movie and Argo, we know what will happen, yet the story is moving and gripping.  Sally Field is good but isn’t that to be expected?  She plays a lot of loopy, eccentric characters.  It will be interesting to see Daniel Day Lewis and Hugh Jackman go head to head tonight.

Silver Linings Playbook was such a joy and a surprise to see.  After I learned that David O. Russell was directing it and saw previews, I knew that I wanted to see it.  Speaking of excellent ensembles: they give Lincoln a run for its money.  For me, this was a close second to Argo.  It’s a lovely story, flawed characters with very imperfect lives, yet you still feel transported into their world.  And Bradley Cooper isn’t even that cute in it.

I was so on the fence about going to see Zero Dark Thirty, but we bit the bullet on MLK Day with every other couple in Hoboken.  I didn’t look at the screen during the famed water torture scene and other than that, nothing was too gruesome for my thin skin.  Jessica Chastain is an actor from out of this world.  The story is complicated and has a ton of detail, some of which was over my head.  I enjoyed it for what is represents and I am glad the movie was made.  It’s not the type of movie you are going to curl up to watch on a lazy Sunday but it is an important film and an important story about a great moment in history.  Thank you, Kathryn Bigelow.

Print Recipe

Spicy Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

Ingredients

  • 7 gingersnaps
  • 5 oreos
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 oz melted chocolate
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/8 tsp, heaping chili powder
  • 2/3 c chocolate chips
  • 1/3 c whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line 8 cupcake tins with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, grind Oreo cookies and gingersnaps to crumbs. Pour in melted butter and blitz again until well mixed. Spoon about a tablespoon of cookie mixture into each cheesecake well. Press down. Set aside.
  3. With a hand mixer, whip cream cheese and melted chocolate together. Scrape sides and mix again until evenly mixed. Stir in egg. Scrape sides and mix again. With mixer on low, stir in sugar and spices. Scrape sides and whip again briefly so the filling is evenly mixed with no lumps. Spoon over top each crust.
  4. To bake, set tins in oven in roasting pans filled half-way with hot water; bake until set, about 34 minutes, rotating halfway through. When you shake the pan, they shouldn’t jiggle. Transfer tins to racks to cool completely. refrigerate in tins, uncovered, at least 4 hours; remove from tins.
  5. Melt chocolate chips with whipping cream and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Spread over completely cooled cheesecakes. Refrigerate until set.
  6. Refrigerate in airtight containers up to 5 days.

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