Almost Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Do you tweet?  Or twitter? Or whatever it’s called?  I didn’t until this past weekend.  I’m not sure what made me do it, cuz it’s not like I need another distraction!  I just signed up to see what all the tweeting was about.  I’m glad I did it though, because I came across Christopher Kimball’s blog (of America’s Test Kitchen fame) and saw this chocolate chip cookie recipe (it shows up correctly on my iPhone, but for some reason doesn’t on my desktop). 

"perfect" chocolate chip cookies

He (and America’s Test Kitchen) may think they’re perfect, but I’m not sure I’d go quite that far.  They are definitely closer to what I’ve been looking for in MY perfect chocolate chip cookie: they’re larger than an average cookie, they aren’t thin and flat, they are chewy with a slight crispness and have a nice buttery flavor.  I think next time I’d add just a little bit more chocolate.  But that’s just me.  🙂

"perfect" chocolate chip cookies

I ran into a little bit of a problem as I was browning the butter.  I guess the center of my pan got hotter than the rest, so I started getting these brown bits of butter.  Mind you, I’ve never browned butter, so I’m not sure if I was doing it right or not.  Does the butter start turning brown bit by bit?  Or does all of the butter turn brown at the same time? Was I supposed to be swirling the pan the entire time (I guess the recipe does say “constantly”)? Should I have left it alone?  Did my butter even get brown enough? Regardless of whether I not the butter was browned properly, the cookies came out just fine. 

"perfect" chocolate chip cookies

Another method used in these cookies is the whisking of the “wet” ingredients and letting them sit for 3 minutes, then whisking again, and repeating two more times.  He doesn’t explain what this process does, just that you want the mixture to be “thick, smooth, and shiny” at the end of the process.  Anyone have any ideas on this?  I’m just curious. 

Almost Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 16 cookies
Adapted from Christopher Kimball Blog
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips, chopped

Directions:
Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Line two large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla to the bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, and then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use a #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 8 balls, two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

*Note from the blog: Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored (I used light brown sugar and it was just fine).

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Happy Third Birthday!

Happy Birthday to my little guy.  It was three years ago today that you came into this world!

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I just used some frozen cookie dough from this batch of chocolate chip cookies and put them in a small pyrex dish; baked it for 20-25 minutes and voila: Mini Cookie Cake.

Dorie’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

…but definitely not mine. 

dorie's best ccc

I buy cookbooks based on reviews as well as the pictures.  I like to see the finished product.  That’s probably the reason why most of my photos show the end result and not how I got there. 😛  What irks me is when you see the picture, you follow recipe and what you end up with looks nothing like what’s in the cookbook.  This happened with the chocolate chip cookies I made following the Baked recipe and now, with the recipe I followed in the Baking cookbook (minus the nuts).  The cookies in the photo weren’t thick, but they weren’t flat either.  And I knew they were going to have a softer texture rather than chewy (the amount of white sugar was higher than brown sugar), which was fine. I’m looking for a cookie I can call my favorite, so I’m trying lots of different recipes. 

dorie's best ccc

I should have just passed on by as soon as I saw these words: “They are Toll House cookies’ kin, but I think my nips, tucks, tweaks and variations on the classic recipe make them their own kind of wonderful.” I am not a fan of the Toll House cookie. They just don’t get my vote for favorite. 

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scanned from Baking, From My Home to Yours

My cookies looked nothing like the ones in the book. They were flat and thin.  I even let a batch chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes and those still didn’t look anything like hers.  I was so dissapointed.  Ugh.  The flavor was ok.  More buttery than chocolatey, but I didn’t put in my usual 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of instant coffee granules.  That always seems to add more flavor to my cookies. I also took half the chocolate chips and chopped them up a bit.  1) Because I like to integrate the chocolate into the dough, rather than just putting the chips in there and 2) because I used Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips and those are larger than the normal size chocolate chips.  I love biting into the part of the cookie where those chips are because I get this wonderful burst of bittersweet chocolate and it tastes sooo good. 

dorie's best ccc

My in-laws were dropping MC off at the house around the time I baked these, so they left here with a dozen.  😛  They don’t care what kind of chocolate chip cookie it is.  They’ll eat it.

dorie's best ccc

I usually make half batches when I try out new recipes, but for some reason I made the entire recipe.  I ended up baking two dozen and froze the rest of the dough.  We’ll see if those turn out any better.

Dorie’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: Approximately 3 ½ dozen
Adapted from Baking, From My Home to Yours
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ pound butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.

Beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until well blended. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg. Reduce speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and mix by hand with a rubber spatula.

Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the baking sheet and lay them about 2 inches apart from each other.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are brown at the edges and golden in the center. Allow the cookies to rest for 1 minute, and then carefully transfer them to rack to cool.

Notes:
The dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen. You can freeze individual balls of dough on a lined baking sheet and then bag them when they’re solid. There is no need to defrost the dough before baking. Just add another minute or two to the baking time.

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Banana-Coffee Chocolate Chip Muffins

What does everyone do when they have brown bananas on the counter? Make banana bread! Ok, maybe not everyone. I bet those suckers get tossed more times than we know. But what if you aren’t in the mood for banana bread? Or you just don’t have a few minutes to put it together? Do, what I did. Mash ’em up and stick ’em in the freezer.

About a month ago I had some bananas that were riiiiipe. They were so ripe I was afraid they were attracting things my kitchen didn’t need attracting. So I mashed them up, stuck them in a freezer bag, labeled them and froze them. Then, another round came along. This time, I mashed those up, combined them with the thawed ones and made some Banana-Coffee Chocolate Chip Muffins.

I was originally going to make some boring old banana bread, but then I ran across these bad boys as I was looking through my cookbooks again. I’m so glad I made them. They were definitely a nice change from the norm and hubby commented on how they almost tasted like chocolate chip cookies, but in muffin form. That means “mmmm, yummy!” I know this because he ate two of the night I made them, two of them for breakfast the next morning and another two for breakfast again. 😉

banana-coffee choco chip muffins

The original recipe is actually Banana Espresso, but since I don’t keep instant espresso powder on hand – I use instant coffee granules – I wasn’t going to go out and buy them specifically for these muffins. I just subbed in my usual and it worked out great. I also used mini chocolate chips, because I like how they get distributed more throughout the muffin than regular sized chips.

banana-coffee choco chip muffins

If you have some bananas that you’re on the verge of saying goodbye to, don’t. Make these instead! 🙂

Banana-Coffee Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yield: 1 dozen regular size muffins & 6 mini-muffins
Adapted from Baked, New Frontiers in Baking
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups mashed, very ripe bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup milk
1 egg
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray or line a regular size muffin pan. (Plus 6 cups from mini tin).

In a medium bowl, stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, milk and egg.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, instant coffee granules, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill each cup about ¾ full. Bake in the center of the oven fro 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on rack for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove the muffins from the pan and let them finish cooling on the cooling rack.

Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars

Hubby’s brother’s son (aka Nephew), comes down to stay with his dad for about 2 months every summer.  During those 2 months he usually stays with us a few days.  We live far enough away from his dad that it’s kinda cool and he has a little breathing room. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that hubby has an a few video game systems and our internet speed is a little bit faster. However, from the sounds of it, I’m a stricter “parent” than either of his.  You know, only 1 soda a day, no sweets until after you eat your meals, take a shower, brush your teeth. He’s almost 13, so you can only imagine how he felt about all that. 😛

We saw Nephew this past Christmas and since then he has been ever so subtly asking me to make these bars again. I first made them over a year ago when I saw them on Velvet Lava.  Ann describes these bars as somewhat reminiscent of a Twix bar, which is what caught my attention in the first place.  I’m not sure that’s how I’d explain it, but they are definitely yumilicious.

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I’m the type of person that enjoys making treats that I know others will enjoy.  And since Nephew was staying with us for a week and I wanted him to be happy…well, you know how it goes.  I thought it would make him happy anyway.  You can never tell with teenagers.  He didn’t say a word about the fact that I made them for him, but gobbled them up nonetheless. 

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I don’t think I allowed my caramel layer to cook long enough.  The color was pale, but not a pale caramel.  😛  It was still a bit soft even after I let them set in the refrigerator, so make sure you get to the right color stage AND don’t make that layer too thick. I’d originally wanted to swirl my white chocolate and semisweet chocolate on top, but my white chocolate wasn’t loose enough for me to do that.  I may try to add a little butter or shortening next time to loosen it up.

Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars
Yield: 32 rectangles
Adapted From Velvet Lava
Printable Recipe

Shortbread Ingredients:
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ pound unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup sugar

Caramel Ingredients:
¼ pound butter
½ cup light brown sugar
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Chocolate Ingredients:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
6 ounces white chocolate

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325F.

In a food processer, pulse the flour, cornstarch, ¼ pound butter and sugar until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Turn out into an 8×8 pan. Pat the mixture down into the pan and smooth the surface. Prick the bottom of dough with a fork and bake for 30-35 minutes until pale golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Place ¼ pound butter and brown sugar in saucepan over low heat until melted. Add sweetened condensed milk and bring slowly to a boil, stirring continuously until the mixture turns a pale caramel color, about 3-4 minutes.

Pour caramel over top of cooled shortbread – do not overfill the pan (about ½ inch); if this layer becomes overly thick, it will not set properly. Chill in fridge for 1 hour or until set.

Once the caramel layer is set, melt the semi-sweet and white chocolate in double boiler. Allow the chocolate to cool before pouring over the caramel topping. Chill in the fridge until set.

Allow the bars to come to room temperature before cutting.

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The “Baked” Brownie

A very facetious friend of mine made this comment to me: “I may not know alot about cooking, but aren’t all brownies baked?”  Har-dee-har-har. Yes, they’re all baked, but this one is THE “Baked” brownie. Not a baked brownie. 😛

"baked" brownie

I hope everyone out there had a great Independence Day with alot of great food and some fantastic fireworks.  I know a couple of you celebrated your birthdays too!  I enjoyed a nice relaxing day with some good friends, good food and some brownies!

"baked" brownie

I have a friend who loves brownies and is always asking me to make him some. He even offered to bring me the supplies. 😛 I don’t think he really meant it, but it’s nice that he offered. I’ve been meaning to try out this brownie recipe and since he was going to be participating in the 4th festivities, I thought I’d give it a go.

"baked" brownie

Since I was going to be using semi-sweet chocolate (instead of the bittersweet the recipe calls for), I decided to cut down on the amount of white granulated sugar in the recipe. I don’t think that affected the outcome of the brownies, which were very good by the way. I can’t say they were my favorite, but they’re probably near the top of my short list. I think we polished off a good 2/3 of the pan that night. I think my nephew, who’s staying with us for a week, polished off ½ of the leftovers.

The Baked Brownie
Yield: 24 brownies
Adapted from Baked New Frontiers in Baking
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
11 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
½ pound butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray the sides and bottom of 9×13 baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder together.

Put the chocolate, butter and instant coffee in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined; then remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature.

Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve.

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Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Alternate Title: “Use Good Cocoa Powder”

These cookies came to be because I wanted something sweet, something easy to bake and something with chocolate. I knew that if I was going to make a chocolate cookie, I wanted to use white chocolate to offset the color, as well as complement the flavor.

chocolate white chocolate chip cookie

Beh. That’s all I have to say about these cookies. Beh. Not my favorite for sure. MC ate it up, but he’ll basically eat anything with sugar. Hubby thought it reminded him of a brownie in cookie form. Sure, the texture was there and the white chocolate was great. But, I think the cocoa powder I used is what made this cookie “meh” for me.

I usually buy Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder. But, last time I bought some Nestle Tollhouse Cocoa Powder. (These are really the only two easily available to me, without purchasing online or paying out the wazoo.) I don’t think I’ll be making that purchase again. The flavor of the Nestle cocoa powder was somewhat bland and the color was not as deep and rich as the Special Dark.

chocolate white chocolate chip cookie

Next time I’ll use the good stuff.  🙂  In defense of the original recipe, it did say to use dutch processed cocoa powder.

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 20 cookies
Adapted from Joy of Baking
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups white chocolate chips
2 oz white chocolate, chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt.

In your mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate chips.

Using a small cookie scoop or two spoons, place about 1 ½ tablespoons of batter on the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Top each cookie with a chunk of white chocolate.

Bake for approximately 8-9 minutes or until the cookies are still soft in the center but are firm around the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

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