Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookie

At my cookies & milk party, this cookie tied with "eggless dough" for the Most Unique category. However, I voted for it as The Perfect Cookie. The cookie has a variety of chips, a strong coffee flavor and tastes fantastic with milk but I bet it would also be great with vanilla ice cream. It would probably be the perfect replacement for your morning coffee if you're into that kind of thing.

These look kind of weird in the picture, huh? I can tell you why. This was the first cookie I made for the cookie party. I pulled out my trusty airbake cookie sheets, set the oven and baked up two sheets of cookies. And they spread like crazy. They spread so much that they started to look a little like fake barf. After I pulled them out of the oven and set them to cool and they did not recover, I pulled out my standard rimmed baking sheets, lined them with parchment and threw a few more cookies in the oven. They turned out perfectly, they didn't spread at all. They looked like a really dark chocolate chip cookie. Well, I learned my lesson but it was too late for most of this dough. I haven't used my airbakes again since, and I kind of feel like they might be on their way to goodwill in the near future.

Despite the strange look, these cookies were so delicious. I might have one now actually, now that you mention it.

2 cups flour
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder - I used the cheapest kind and it was good in these cookies but gross used for coffee
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, cut into chunks (I didn't cut this in chunks because by the time I used it it was very soft)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used Tahitian)
1 pound chocolate chips or chunks -- I used white, milk and semi-sweet
Maldon sea salt flakes (optional)

1. Whisk the flour, coffee, baking soda and salt together. Set aside.
2. Beat the butter in a mixer until lightened. Add granulated sugar and beat for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and beat for another 30 seconds. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until blended.
3. Turn mixer speed down and add flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Add chocolate and mix until evenly blended in.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for as long as you can stand it, I did probably about 2 hours
5. Preheat oven to 350, and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop a heaping tablespoon full of dough onto sheets, leaving 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
6. Cool on a wire rack and eat one warm if you can, then eat one for breakfast instead of your coffee and see if it works.

These cookies freeze well. To freeze, lay cookies in a single layer in a zip top gallon sized bag. Add a layer of parchment paper before the next layer of cookies until the bag is full. Lie flat until the cookies are frozen or the whole time if possible. If you didn't head my warnings and used an airbake style cookie sheet make sure the cookies aren't even in the same room as each other as they defrost because they WILL stick together. If you listened and read through this whole post, go you!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Inside Out Cookies

Inside Out Cookies are like a chocolate chip cookie--except opposite--chocolate on the base and white chips in the middle. These cookies didn't win any prizes at my party and there's still a lot of them left, but I thought they were pretty good. More like a brownie than a cookie, these cookies are kind of time consuming. I think I might have overcooked them because I felt they still looked like dough balls even though the tops were cracked. If you see this, they are probably done. You might want to bake just a few first to get an idea of how long this takes in your oven.

The Recipe

1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped with a serrated knife
4 Tbls. butter
2 extra-large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350
1. In a separate bowl whisk the flour and baking powder, set aside
2. Over some steaming water in a double boiler (or similar) melt chocolate and butter together, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.
3. In the mixer, mix eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla together for ELEVEN (11-13) minutes. It will get really light colored, thick and fluffy.
4. Pour in the chocolate and beat about 2 minutes until incorporated
5. Fold in the flour mixture and the white chips
6. Line baking sheets with parchment and drop Tablespoon sized balls onto the sheets, these don't really spread so you can crowd them.
7. Bake 10-12 minutes or less until cookies are cracked on top but still look ooey gooey

Sunday, July 22, 2012

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie

This weekend I hosted a milk and cookies birthday party for my 30th birthday. It was pretty fun. I got some of my friends and relatives and myself to bake over 10 varieties of cookies. Then, we served them with milk and asked guests to vote on five categories. This version of the famous New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie won 1st place in two categories - Just like Mom's and The Perfect Cookie. See for yourself and make this cookie today...er make the dough today, start enjoying them tomorrow or the next day.

Note 1: Do NOT skimp on the refrigeration. For some reason, it makes a difference. Do at least 24 hours
Note 2: Do not use an airbake-style cookie sheet, it makes the cookies spread too much
Note 3: I started off making them huge but ended up making them more normal sized, they were still good
Note 4: Don't forget to salt the tops

I used this recipe, which is probably a little different than the original, but these are the ones to try.

2 C minus 2 T all-purpose flour
1 2/3 C bread flour
1 1/4 t baking soda
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 1/2 t coarse salt (if you use regular salt you are supposed to use less)
1 1/4 C butter
1 1/4 C brown sugar
1 C and 2 T white sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/4 lbs chocolate disks - bittersweet or dark (I found these at Sprouts in the bulk section, I used dark chocolate but it tasted a lot like bittersweet)
Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

1. Whisk flours, baking soda and powder in a bowl, set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugars together for 5 minutes until very light. Add eggs, one at a time and mix well. Add vanilla.
3. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients until just combined. Add the chocolate discs and try not to break too many of them.
4. Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover with a piece of plastic pressed onto the top of the dough. Refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours-but up to 72. (I did 24)
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
6. Line non-airbake cookie sheets with parchment paper or slipat sheets
7. Scoop cookie dough onto the prepared trays and turn chocolate pieces so they are horizontal
8. Sprinkle with maldon sea salt or other flake salt
9. Bake until golden brown but still soft about 10-12 minutes for regular sized cookies or 18-20 minutes for large sized cookies
10. Let cool on trays 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. Do yourself a favor, have one warm.

These cookies freeze well. To freeze, place one layer of cookies on the long side of a gallon sized zip top bag. Place a piece of parchment on the cookies and continue to layer until the bag is full. Carefully move the bag to the freezer and lay flat until frozen and if possible the whole time. When you defrost, be sure the cookies are not touching or they will stick together.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Coffee-Cocoa Rubbed Pork Chops with Blueberry Hoisin Glaze

This past week, while browsing my list of 80 favorite food blogs, I noticed that the Pioneer Woman was doing some product placement grill contest.

*Note: Product placement is seriously crazy recently. I am all for product placement that fits in, but when they make it all exaggerated and obvious it sort of ruins the show/contest/everything. I'm in advertising, I know about marketing your brand, but still. It is getting ridiculous.

I thought a lot of the Pioneer Woman Grill Contest (Beans) looked great!  So today I set out to make the pork chop recipe.  It was...not a hit in our family. I actually did like the sauce but because I was eating the sauce, I didn't taste the rub. The rub was definitely not good so I understand....but maybe I didn't make it well? Who even knows.

But let me tell you, pork loin chops--about 12 minutes on the indirect heat, cooked so perfectly. Try it, with another rub or maybe this one because it was probably good and just not to us...

Now for some uses of hoisin sauce...

The recipe.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Poached Apricots

Poached fruit isn't something I've ever had before, but when I saw White on Rice Couple's post about poached apricots (and their beautiful pictures) I was immediately intrigued. Joey likes stone fruit but he is allergic to it when it isn't cooked. Unfortunately, cooked stone fruit is usually in pie or cobbler or buckle or something else that is generally not healthy. Poached fruit is made in a sugar syrup, so it's not really GOOD for you, but there's no crust involved.

These apricots were absolutely fantastic! I loved the flavors that soaked into the fruit, I loved the texture, I loved how they tasted with ice cream, I loved them warm, I loved them room temperature, I think I would love them cold. I think I will make these all summer and maybe try it with other stone fruit!

The caramel sauce that I was supposed to make by reducing the liquid just didn't turn out...it burned, it became one solid piece of dark dark brown candy that was gross looking. It made our house smell disgusting. It was totally my fault, I didn't want to stand there watching it. I bet the sauce would've been as delicious as the apricots. I served a little goat's milk caramel sauce with ours instead but it totally wasn't necessary. Do yourself a favor and poach some fruit today!

I halved the recipe because I only had 10oz of apricots. My apricots were maybe a tad on the too-ripe side for this recipe. I bought them and then delayed in making them because we decided we'd pair them with homemade vanilla bean ice cream.  When we finally made the ice cream, the apricots were READY. By the time I had time to make them, I'd already lost two and had to put them in the fridge.

1/8 C honey
3/4 C sugar (I used vanilla sugar because we just made some with our leftover vanilla bean from the ice cream, it might have added something)
3/4 C water
scant handful of basil (we're growing our own!)
10oz apricots
vanilla ice cream

1. Combine honey, sugar, basil and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. (this will be fast)
2. Slice apricots in half and remove pits and stems.
3. Reduce heat to medium high and add apricots. Poach 2-4 minutes until soft but still intact
4. Remove fruit to a plate to cool
5. This is where you should read the directions again over on WoRC's blog and try to make the reduction. Since it didn't work for me my only advice is WATCH IT THE WHOLE TIME.
6. Serve the apricots over ice cream and lick the plate clean of the best simple syrup you've ever had.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Homemade Hot Dog Buns

On Sunday we went to the store with the plan to get fruit and food for the week. We did get fruit but when it came to dinner for the week we only half-heartedly got anything. We got hot dogs but no buns! It was a sad realization when we got home.

Today, as I worked from home after jury duty, I decided to try out this recipe for hot dog buns that I found online. It seemed like it would be so easy! I had all the ingredients! I knew my skills at bread making were lacking but I tried it anyway!

Well, the results were lackluster. Our house is apparently very drafty, even with the bread dough in the closet it didn't get close to rising after an hour. Later, trying to rise the dough again proved futile even in the hottest closet in the house!  Could the car work?

The final product was more like a dinner roll than a hamburger bun, but it was still a worthy project with little hands on time.  I don't know what I would try next time for better results but at least I have a go-to dense dinner roll recipe!  These buns were filling, tiny and delicious. I told Joey at dinner that I wanted 1 hot dog and three buns. It wasn't a reality but this is my kind of bread!

Note to self, bread skills still lacking.

Hot Dog Buns  - we got 7 buns for our 7 dogs,

1 T sugar
1/4 C warm water
1 package yeast
4 C flour
1 C warm milk
1 T vegetable oil, plus more for the bowl
1 tsp salt

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer stir together sugar and water until sugar dissolves
2. Add yeast and let sit 10 minutes until foamy. If it isn't foamy when you get back, start over with a new yeast packet.
3. Add milk, oil, salt and 3 cups of flour to the bowl and beat with your dough hook in your electric mixer. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.
4. Add additional flour in spoonfuls until the dough stays away from the sides
5. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5-7 minutes until smooth and elastic
6. Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with a light towel and let sit 1 hour or until doubled in size
7. Later, when it has doubled, divide into 7-9 equal pieces and roll into logs about 4 1/2 inches long
8. Place logs just barely touching on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with the same towel and let rise 45 minutes until almost doubled in size
9. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
10. Bake about 20 minutes and serve warm