Friday, April 23, 2010

Want a Cookie?

(above) Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are by far, my favorite cookie. There's something comforting about them, especially warm with a glass of milk. The thing about them though is that they are so subjective - some people like them soft and cakey, others chewy and some crisp. Personally, I prefer mine soft with a decent chew factor.
For the past how ever many years of my life, I have always used the traditional Tollhouse recipe. I've used it for so long that I don't ever need to look in a cookbook for it. However, this time I was ready for a change. So, I tried Good Housekeeping's Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. And how do they compare? That's tough. Tollhouse cookies are sweet and buttery, with crisp edges and soft insides. These cookies, while having almost exactly the same flavour profile as Tollhouse, were more chewy. However, I admit that they were slightly doughy. It's a tough call, but I think that Tollhouse wins. I might tweak Tollhouse later to have a higher brown-sugar ratio - perhaps that will give me the chew I am looking for.

(above) Cookie dough

(above) Rounded tablespoon-fulls of dough, flatted slightly with the back of a spatula.

(above) Cookies cooling on a rack.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes around 24 cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Into large bowl, measure all ingredients except semisweet and white chocolate chips. With mixer at medium speed, beat ingredients until blended and smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. With spoon, stir in chips.
  3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased large cookie sheet. Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Immediately transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. Store cookies in tightly covered container up to 1 week.

Adapted from Good Housekeeping's Double Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

1 Minute Tiramisu

(above) 1 Minute Tiramisu
You know those times where you're looking through your fridge in hopes that there is something, just something good to eat? And when you realize that there isn't anything at all, its slightly depressing. Yeah, those days are kind of over after you've made 1 minute tiramisu.
Wait what? Tiramisu in 1 minute?! Yep, that's right. With four ingredients and a minute, you can make this faux-tiramsu. This is by absolutely no means authentic, but the combination of the ingredients are delicious. You're going to need coffee, ladyfinger cookies, whipped cream (the sweetened kind in a spray can) and cocoa powder.

(above) Left - Coffee. Right - Ladyfinger Cookies.
So we start with some coffee. It doesn't need to be freshly made and it doesn't need to be brewed or anything. Just your basic instant coffee, sweetened if desired, and preferably chilled or at least room temperature. You take your ladyfingers and quickly dip them in the coffee. Shake off any access coffee and place them in your bowl/ramekin/whatever. You can break them in half to fit your container and depending on how hungry you are, dip as many cookies as you like.

(above) Coffee-soaked ladyfingers topped with whipped cream.
Top the coffee-soaked ladyfinger cookies with whipped cream.

(above) 1 Minute Tiramisu
Lastly, give it a good sifting of cocoa powder. Sound like a lot of work? Aside from making the coffee (which is not included in the 1 minute as it should be made ahead of time and chilled), all that you really have to do is dip cookies in coffee, top them with whipped cream and sift cacao powder. Think you can handle that? Give it a try.

Friday, April 9, 2010

They See Me Rolling, They Hating

(above) A Cinnamon Roll with Icing
Did you get the title reference? It's the first line of Chamillionare's "Ridin'". I was torn between using these lyrics and Wierd Al's parody (White & Nerdy), where the title would have been "They see me roll on my Segway!" Anyway, brownie points if you got the pun.

We're making cinnamon rolls! Exciting stuff. This recipe is perfect and the rolls are so soft and cinnamony. I'm going to stash some away in the freezer (un-iced, of course) for a rainy day.

(above) Proofing yeast.

Proofing yeast is just mixing yeast, sugar, and warm water together and leaving it for a while to allow the carbon dioxide to be released (the yeast makes your dough rise). It should look foamy and disgusting. If it doesn't foam up after 10 minutes, its not even worth your time - your dough will not rise and you'll end up with cinnamon spiraled hockey pucks. Get a new packet of yeast and start over.

(above) The first rise.

The picture above is of the dough before it rises. Bread dough is amazing and yeast is magical. Come back after an hour and you'll be shocked at how much it rises.

(above) Cinnamon sugar sprinkling time.

(above) Cinnamon rolls after the second rise.

After the dough was rolled up, I cut it using floss. Yes, dental floss. Just wrap it around the log, tie a knot, and pull at both ends. This creates round rolls. If you cut them with a knife, you'll get semicircle rolls - not attractive. Oh, from the photo above, can you tell I was beginning to run out of pans?
(above) Cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven.

(above) A cinnamon roll with icing.

I'm still deciding between simple icing (icing sugar and milk) and cream cheese icing. It's a tough call! I'm pretty terrible at making decisions, so I compromised by adding just a little softened cream cheese to simple icing.

(above) Cinnamon rolls bagged and ready for the freezer!

Quick breads are supposed to freeze pretty well for 2-3 months. I think its a good idea to freeze a bunch for a quick breakfast or snack.

The recipe was adapted from Allrecipe's Ooey-Gooey Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls
Makes around 15 rolls

1 teaspoon white sugar
0.2 ounces instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (add a teaspoon more if you are crazy about cinnamon)
1/4 cup softened butter

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy and foamy, about 10 minutes. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter and salt; stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, milk mixture, eggs and 1 1/2 cup flour; stir well to combine. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a splash of milk if the dough seems too dry. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

  4. Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan. Combine 3/4 cup brown sugar and cinnamon; set aside.

  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, roll into an 18x14 inch rectangle. Brush with 2 tablespoons softened butter, leaving 1/2 inch border uncovered; sprinkle with brown sugar cinnamon mixture. Starting at long side, tightly roll up, pinching seam to seal. Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Using dental floss (tie around the log and pull to cut), cut into 15 pieces; place cut side down, in prepared pan. Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in volume. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

  6. Bake in preheated oven for 12 - 17 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in pan for 1 minute, then invert onto serving platter. Iced if desired.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Birthday Brownies

(above) Brownies

Easter Sunday just happened to fall on my brother's birthday this year - and what better way to celebrate it than with birthday brownies! You can tell that they are birthday brownies because of the birthday-esque sprinkles on them. But actually, they look so darn cheerful that I might just use them every time I make brownies from now on. There's a little story to how a came across this recipe, by the way. A while ago, I wanted to bake brownies, but the supermarkets all ran out of stock of unsweetened baking chocolate (an essential ingredient in my old recipe, the Brownies Cockaigne from the Joy of Cooking) and was forced to find a new brownie recipe. So, I found a recipe on with surprisingly high ratings and that happened to cocoa powder in place of chocolate. Now comes the verdict - which recipe was better?

To be honest, I'm not really sure. Both recipes are amazing, and the brownies taste virtually identical. I had used the Joy of Cooking recipe for five years before reluctantly giving it up. But, I think that this recipe will be my "holy-grail" brownie recipe from now on. It's quicker to make since it doesn't involve melting chocolate and its cheaper since it doesn't use actual chocolate. Practicalities aside, this actually did make amazing brownies. They are so chocolaty and moist - the perfect brownie. I did halve the recipe and used an 8x8 square pan. I put simple icing (icing sugar and water) into a plastic baggie and snipped off the edge to pipe out the lettering.

(above) Brownie batter with sprinkles

(above) Brownies with lettering

Chocolate Brownies

Makes one 9x13 inch pan
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.
    Combine the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, until thoroughly blended.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until blended. Stir in the chocolate morsels. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking dish.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove, and cool pan on wire rack before cutting.

Adapted from "Brooke's Best Bombshell Brownies". The link can be found here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sometimes, Those Jell-O Pudding Cups Just Don't Cut It

(above) Silky Chocolate Pudding
I saw The Wednesday Chef's post on this recipe and I knew I had to try it. I have made homemade pudding before, using a recipe from Martha Stewart as a way to use up fresh heavy cream left over from a ganache for devil's food cake (which I must make again soon!). While it was delicious, I was happy to find a recipe that called for milk, a more readily available and cost effective ingredient. Pudding is surprisingly easy to make and incredibly delicious. Rather than the chocolate flavored pudding you're most likely used to, its more of a chocolate in pudding form. The most "complicated" step would be setting up the double boiler. I actually don't have one, so I had to improvise.

(above) An improvised double boiler.
All you really need to do is to find a metal bowl that fits over a pot. Fill the put up a few inches of water (so that it's very close to the bottom of the bowl but not touching) and cover to bring to a simmer. Place the bowl on top of the pot and there you go, your very own double boiler.
(above) Covering the top with plastic wrap to prevent a pudding "skin" from forming.

Silky Chocolate Pudding
Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler. Slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate. Continue stirring for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  2. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a serving bowl or into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes.
  3. If you like pudding skin, pull plastic wrap over the top of the serving dish(es) before refrigerating. If you dislike pudding skin, place plastic wrap on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface before refrigerating. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.

The recipe comes from John Scharffenberger's The Essence of Chocolate.