You guys, I don’t even want to read anyone’s blog today because it’s April Fools Day and it gets confusing because some people are joking and some people are serious and how am I supposed to know?! For example…I totally thought this mango rice with mustard recipe was a big ol’ joke. Nope (and now I feel bad for thinking someone’s potentially delicious recipe was a joke). I also totally thought Joy had flipped out and was being serious for a minute. Oh, April Fools Day. You suck.
I promise this is a real post and nothing is a joke!
I do have a favor to ask of you! On Friday, I’m going to be switching blog hosts, which means I don’t think those of you who have subscribed via email and/or WordPress will transfer over. If you wouldn’t mind — come back to http://www.melbakesthings.com on Friday, and re-subscribe…please? Pretty please? Thank you! In return, I promise to share a bunch of tasty recipes I’ve been stockpiling with you (including maple-bacon cinnamon rolls!). Cool? Now, on to those cookies.
Why chocolate chip cookies? You can never have too many solid recipes for chocolate chip cookies. Every recipe yields a slightly different result based on the format of your butter, the proportions of each kind of sugar you use, and how you incorporate various ingredients into the cookie dough. There’s a really, really awesome article about this from Serious Eats that you should check out if you, like me, are a-ok with geeking out over chocolate chip cookies.
This particular recipe is a chewy guy, slightly crisp around the edges. I like my cookies that way. You can change up the types of chips/chocolate you use in these cookies with no problem, though I find that a combo of bittersweet chocolate and either semi-sweet or milk chocolate does the trick pretty well. During Christmastime, I use a combo of dark chocolate and Andes mints instead. You could always throw a handful of peanut butter chips in if you’d like, but I find that those are better suited for oatmeal cookies. Which I should probably post about sometime soon.
Method: Here’s a sort-of step by step photo tutorial to give you a better sense of what the process looks like…the full recipe is listed at the end of the post.
Step 1: Get your mise en place in place (hah)! Remember, this helps make it so you won’t get halfway through the process and realize you’re missing some ingredient or another.
Don’t forget the chocolate!
Step 2: In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream room temperature solid butter (NOT the browned butter) and granulated (white) sugar until light and fluffy.
Step 3: Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 15-30 seconds after each addition to ensure each egg gets fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Step 4: Add vanilla, browned butter, and brown sugar. Mix for another minute. Again, scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
Step 5: Add salt, baking powder, baking soda, and two-thirds of the flour to your mixer bowl. Mix until just combined.
Step 6: Add the rest of the flour and your chocolate. Mix just for a few seconds, until flour is combined.
Step 7: Age your dough in the fridge. Sound crazy? Maybe. Basically, you have a choice here. Fridge your dough for a minimum of two hours. After that, it’s up to you. If you “age” your cookie dough in the fridge overnight, or even over two days, the flavors develop and deepen, which results in an even tastier cookie. I actually baked some of the dough the day I made it, some the next day, and the rest the day after and yes, you can taste a difference. If this is blowing your mind, read that article I referenced earlier in this post. Let your cookie dough sit out for about 20 minutes before scooping.
Step 8: When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375F and line your baking sheets with parchment.
Step 9: Scoop dough in rounded tablespoons (or in any other desired size — just remember, the size will impact your baking time).
Step 10: Bake for 8-12 minutes, keeping an eye on your first batch so you can get a handle on how the cookie size and oven temp work together.
Step 11: EAT! For the record, these bad boys would be great with some ice cream sandwiched in the middle. Just sayin’.
Baking Basics: Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups (8.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, browned and cooled (throw an ice cube in to help it cool)
3/4 cup granulated (white) sugar
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 to 12 oz chocolate of your choosing (I prefer a mix of chopped and chips, to give variation in texture and chocolate distribution)
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream room temperature solid butter (NOT the browned butter) and granulated (white) sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 15-30 seconds after each addition to ensure each egg gets fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add vanilla, brown sugar, and browned butter and mix for another minute. Again, scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Add salt, baking powder, baking soda, and about two-thirds of the flour to your mixer bowl. Mix until combined.
- Add the rest of the flour and your chocolate. Mix just for a few seconds, until flour is combined.
- Age your dough in the fridge. Sound crazy? Maybe. Basically, you have a choice here. Fridge your dough for a minimum of two hours. After that, it’s up to you. If you “age” your cookie dough in the fridge overnight, or even over two days, the flavors develop and deepen, which results in an even tastier cookie. I actually baked some of the dough the day I made it, some the next day, and the rest the day after and yes, you can taste a difference.
- When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375F and line your baking sheets with parchment.
- Scoop dough in rounded tablespoons (or in any other desired size — just remember, the size will impact your baking time).
- Bake for 8-12 minutes (keep an eye on your first batch to get a sense of how it goes – your time will vary based on your oven!)
- Cool, then EAT! For the record, these bad boys would be great with some ice cream sandwiched in the middle. Just sayin’.
Did you watch the Oscars? I like watching the Oscars and Emmys (but generally hate the Grammys). I know the awards shows are always unfortunately long, and pretty boring during some parts, and there are always lots of screw ups because…live television, but it’s kinda fun to see what everyone is wearing, what outlandish and/or political stuff people talk about in their speeches, and see people actually having some personality other than the last character they played. I actually thought this was one of the better Oscars in recent memory. The whole “let’s have an offensive comedian host” thing was getting old, and I think Ellen fit the bill pretty well.
And call me a jerk, but I still cannot stop laughing about the whole Travolta mispronunciation situation and subsequent reactions. It’s hilarious.
Anyway…for the past few years, I’ve noticed a slew of recipes/photos of these little triangle cookies floating around the interwebs during March. Considering I hadn’t the slightest clue what they were, I figured I’d do a little research and test them out. Enter: hamantaschen. Hamantaschen, or Haman’s pockets, are apparently a staple of the Jewish holiday Purim. There’s obviously a lot of meaning and history behind Purim, but from what I gather, there is also much feasting involved. I like feasting. Since I’m no expert on Purim, you should do your own research to learn more. Start here.
Hamantaschen remind me of rugelach in a lot of ways, but the dough is heartier and the cookies are obviously larger. The dough is delicious (uh, hello…butter and cream cheese?) and not too sweet, while also taking enough of a back seat to let whatever filling you choose be the star of the show. And they pack up nicely, which is good because you probably shouldn’t eat them all yourself. But you totally can if you want to. I won’t judge you. It’s Fat Tuesday, so you have the perfect excuse. Continue reading
I’m just gonna come right out and say it…these DIY thin mints are seriously the best things to come out of my kitchen in a while.
Thin Mints are not even my favorite of the Girl Scout cookie varieties. That gold medal goes to Samoas, which, although I’ve never tried, I am pretty convinced I could never accurately recreate because I love them so much. Why are there only 14 Samoas in a box?! Rude.
This homemade version is surprisingly accurate (can you call a cookie accurate?) but also better than the original. Partially because you’re eating cookies wherein you can pronounce all of the ingredients, but even more so because the chocolate flavor is a bit darker and more intense without becoming too rich or overwhelming. There’s also the teensiest bit of saltiness to balance the chocolate, too. Continue reading
Last weekend, I made a valentine cake. And it was delicious. I was impressed with myself.
I don’t typically make layer cakes. Mostly because transporting a layer cake is a huge pain-in-the-you-know-what, but also because…I am missing whatever gene is necessary to be a rockstar at fancy cake decorating. I am better at what we’ll call “rustic” cake decorating. My version of rustic cake decorating is 1 part legit creativity and 2 parts preschool-style artwork. I’m totally okay with it. I own it. And oddly, I’m a pretty baller cupcake decorator. It’s weird how that pans out, huh?
See what I did there with my new alphabet cookie cutters? So cheesy.
A few things about this cake:
- You should absolutely make your own almond paste. It is SO MUCH TASTIER than the store bought stuff. All you need is almonds, honey, water, and sugar. Here’s a link on how to do it — you can half the recipe and have way more than enough for this cake.
- If you want to have a chocolate-almond layer like I did, bake half your batter as stated in the recipe, and then fold 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cocoa powder into the remaining half before you bake. I actually ended up baking about 2/3 of the batter in round one (plain almond) and 1/3 of the batter in round 2 (chocolate-almond). My chocolate layer was much thinner. Which is fine, as I didn’t want to overpower the plain almond layers. If you want an even showing of chocolate-almond and plain almond cake, divide your batter in half.
- I baked my cake layers in an 8×8 square pan, and cut the layers in half to make a cake that was 8″ x 4″. If you do this, you’ll need to keep an eye on your cakes as your baking time might be a bit shorter.
- For chocolate hearts — melt chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave, put it in a piping bag or a ziploc bag with one of the corners snipped off, and pipe directly onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. I put mine in the freezer to help them solidify faster.
- I also made my own sprinkles. It was fun? But store bought ones are just fine, and probably won’t start disintegrating into the frosting 5 hours after you make it.
- According to Molly, this cake is not to be made at any other time of year than Valentine’s Day, but I can’t say that I’ll abide by that rule. It’s too good to wait a full year before making it again!
- I added a thin layer of blackberry jam between my layers (in addition to the frosting).
- The “frosting” on this cake is actually just whipped cream. It balances the cake out perfectly. Make sure you whip your cream thoroughly enough that it is structurally sound. Also, this means you can’t just leave this cake sitting out for long periods of time, lest your dairy spoil (ew) and whipped cream start to melt/un-whip itself (double ew).
recipe, adapted slightly, from My Name Is Yeh
for the cake:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz almond paste
6 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
pinch of salt
1/2 c sugar
for the “frosting”:
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
a few drops of food coloring, if you want to color your frosting (totally optional)
plus anything you want to use to decorate your cake! I used homemade sprinkles, edible glitter, and chocolate hearts.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare your cake pans and set aside.
- Combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
- Beat almond paste and egg yolks until well blended, mix in vanilla and almond extract, and set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar one tablespoon at a time and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
- Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and then gradually fold in the flour mixture. pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes, until a tooth pick comes out clean.
- Let cool completely. Sticking them in the freezer helps, and makes them easier to level and frost.
- For the frosting, whip up the whipping cream and add the extracts and food coloring.
- Level your cake layers (so you don’t end up with a leaning cake…unless you totally dig that kind of thing, and then more power to ya).
- Frost and decorate your cake!
You guys, I did something weird. Last weekend, I bought a doughnut pan.
I am generally against purchasing kitchen tools that serve such limited purpose (unitaskers, if you’re an Alton Brown fan). It just seems silly and wasteful. But then I started thinking about my relatively newly discovered love of doughnuts (but only ones that are made locally in relatively small batches, not the kind from Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Creme…yes, I’m picky). But then I decided that there was absolutely no way that baked doughnuts would be anywhere near as delicious as fried doughnuts. And then I decided it might be nice to, on occasion, be able to make baked doughnuts at home in order to save money and potential calories, which led to thinking about the various flavor combinations that might come out of homemade baked doughnuts, which then led to finding a doughnut pan that was only $5. So I bought it. Continue reading