Newlyweds navigating their way through married life – and the kitchen

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New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Coming down off of the Christmas High is like coming down from Prom when you’re in high school – or your wedding day – all the planning, the cooking, the baking, the wrapping, the shopping and then BOOM, it’s over like that.  But, the best part is that there’s only 364 more days until we can do it all over again!

Anyway though, I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas – we did a lot of eating, drinking, and traveling (not all in the same order) but it was a fantastic few days spent with family and friends.  I’m always sad to see it end, but it was great while it lasted.

Another thing that was done in abundance was BAKING – holy moses.  5 different cookies, which in reality doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re in the throws of flour, sugar, and butter, well you realize that it is in fact a.lot.  Some of the usual suspects showed their faces – Easier than Ina’s Pecan Squares & Chocolate Drizzled Macaroons, but a few new players were introduced to the rotation. And even though the Christmas Baking accessories have maybe been put away for the year, these are year-round winners.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t know if I’ve met anyone who doesn’t love a Chocolate Chip Cookie – it seems like they’ve been around since the creation of man, and there’s probably some cave in the arctic that has the recipe chizzled on the walls.  But there are many many different versions of this all-time favorite circulating the earth.  Back in June, I tried these Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies  and mmm…they were good. But, anyone whose read this for a bit knows that many a recipe on this blog has been inspired or just flat out stolen from my friend Ashley, and this recipe is another ‘hot’ recipe of hers.  We were still rooommates when she first started making these ‘New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies’ and over the years, she has gotten them down to a science, experimenting with ingredients, cooking and dough-chilling times, literally perfecting this cookie.  The recipe differs from others in that it uses a combination of cake flour and bread flour vs. the standard all-purpose flour and it also adds the seemingly unlikely touch of salt on the tops of each cookie, which really adds a lot of dimension to the flavor.

They are worth their weight in gold (and whatever weight they add to your hips) 🙂

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
*Adapted from Jacques Torres & Chef Ashley Rogers

INGREDIENTS
*yields about 20 cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
*If you can’t find Cake Flour like me, this is a great alternative from Joy the Baker to make your own

1 & 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour

1 & 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 & 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 & 1/2 sticks (1 & 1/4 cups) unsalted butter

1 & 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 & 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60 percent cacao content
*I used the Ghiradelli 60% Cacoa discs

Kosher Salt

1) Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2) Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

3) Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and stir them in by hand with a wooden spoon.

4) Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

5) When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

6) Take a 1/4 cup and measure out 6 mounds of dough (1/4 cup each – the size of generous golf balls), roll them into a ball, and place onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie.

7) Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and bake until golden brown on the edges but still soft in the center, about 16 to 18 minutes. Let cookies sit on sheets for a couple of minutes & then slip them onto a wire rack to cool.  Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

There were many tips both from the original recipe and from Ash that were useful, but above is exactly how I did them.  I think they key with these is experimentation, trying different baking & cooling times, on and off the baking sheet, as well as varying how long you chill the dough.  Personally though, I let this dough sit for just about 72 hours based on her recommendation as it allows the flavors to really meld together producing a really rich tasting cookie.  And the size of these may be off putting, but if you’re someone who likes a cookie with crunch edges and a soft, chewy interior, than these are your cookie.  You could certainly make them smaller though too.  Ash originally recommended measuring out 2.5 ounces of dough, but since I didn’t have a food scale I thought 1/4 cup would yield a healthy sized ball of dough and that amount seemed to work really well.  Also don’t be alarmed when the cookies come out, as they’ll still look a little undone in the center.  That’s what will make the chewy goodness when they’re cooled!

If you go make these now, your dough will be ready just in time for some gigundo NYE Chocolate Chip Cookies! Why would you start your diet now anyway? There’s still a few more days of holiday fun to be enjoyed 🙂


Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Cookies

So I just got all the Saltine Toffee Brittle out of my system, so onto the next sweet treat!

Everyone has that one thing that indicates that the holiday season has begun –  it could be black friday shopping – putting up your twinkle lights – hanging your stockings by the chimney with care or ornaments on your newly cut christmas tree.

For me, it’s when that one thing I’ve waited for all year dawns the shelves at Trader Joe’s – their Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s.  And all of a sudden, I’m a kid again on christmas morning who just opened their brand new Nintendo Power Pad! (orrr um….iPad…right…iPad!)

There’s those special treats reserved for the holiday season that never taste quite as good at any other time of year as they do those few weeks leading up to Christmas.  And Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s are no different – Trader Joe makes them specially (just for me) for the Christmas season, and that alone is what makes them taste soooo good.  That and the fact that it’s a combination of 2 of my favorite things on earth – chocolate and cookies.

But, another good thing about them is that they’re easy as pie to make! I mean no offense TJ, but I could whip these bad boys up in no time.  And that my friends, is exactly what I’m gonna do.

Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Cookies
*Inspired by Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s

INGREDIENTS
*yields about 2 -1/2 dozen

30 (or so) Double Stuff Oreo Cookies or Trader Joe’s Joe Joes (their version of the Oreo)

1 lb. dark chocolate
(I used the Trader Joe’s 1lb Dark Chocolate Bar)

1 tsp. mint extract

6 or 7 large candy canes, crushed

pepporeoswithinstruction

1) Line a wire rack with wax paper and lay out your Oreo cookies.

2) In a double boiler (or in the microwave), temper your chocolate.  To temper, take about 2/3 of the chocolate and place it in the double boiler (or microwave-safe dish).

3) When the chocolate starts to really melt, remove it from the heat and add the remaining unmelted chocolate to the pan, stirring constantly until it melts into the melted stuff.  The tempering will provide a nice shiny looking chocolate and avoid those unsightly little white spots that can sometimes pop up on chocolate.  When the chocolate is just about all melted, you can mix in the mint extract.

4) Place your candy canes in a ziplock bag and with a hammer or the butt of a large knife, crush them into tiny pieces/crumbs and set aside.

5) With a pair of metal tongs, give each cookie a ‘bath’ in the mint chocolate (best.bath.ever), covering it completely with chocolate.  Let the excess chocolate drip a bit, and then place them back on the wax paper.  When all have been ‘bathed’, sprinkle the tops with peppermint crumbles.

Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Cookies

For the cost of 1 package of TJ’s version, you could make almost THREE TIMES as many of these yourself in the comfort of your own kitchen!

And then, after you eat about a dozen yourself, making sure they’re just right, wrap them up and give them away – but, make sure you wipe the ‘evidence’ off your chin 🙂


Pecan Sandies

Oh what a week it’s been!  I must apologize for the lull in posts – I wish I had a good reason (well I kind of do)  After 4 days at home and a shoddy internet connection, I’m back in the office with fully functioning internet (don’t worry HR, I had these posts ready to roll in word docs – psssssh) and  it’s  lights, camera, BLOG ACTION.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard the name Sandy in the last week or so.  Monday afternoon, Hurricane Sandy swept in and caused some serious damage along the eastern seaboard, and while Dave and I and the majority of Boston missed the brunt of the storm, never losing power (at home anyway) and passing the time  with ‘hurricane beers’ at our favorite bar down the street, it wasn’t nearly the flooding, damage and devastation that was seen in other areas along the East Coast, so to those of you out there who are just starting the rebuilding process, hang in there!

I had some serious time to toil over recipe options, and don’t cry, but I gave pumpkin and fall themed fun a break and went with the first thing that came to mind – Pecan Sandies – so cliche, I know.  She may have been a bitch of a storm, but her namesake cookie is actually pretty tasty 🙂

Pecan Sandies

Pecan Sandies
*Adapted from Allrecipes.com

INGREDIENTS
(Halved from the original recipe – yields about 3 dozen cookies)

   1/2 cup butter, softened

    1/2 cup vegetable oil

    1/2 cup white sugar

    1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

    1 egg

    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    2 cups all-purpose flour

    1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 cup chopped pecans plus extra for the tops of the cookies

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2) In a large bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, white sugar and confectioners’ sugar until smooth.  Beat in the egg, then stir in the vanilla.

3) Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice and stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the pecans.

4) Take 1 tbsp of the dough and roll  into balls. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.  If you’d like, place a whole pecan in the center of each dough ball.

5)  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Pecan Sandies

I gotta say, these were a tad off.  Perhaps it’s cuz’ I halved the recipe.  Or that the original called for cream of tartar, which I didn’t have, and after doing some research online, it seemed as though if I left it out, it wouldn’t make a huge difference.  I added the pumpkin pie spice hoping to add some fall flare, but I think I would have needed maybe a tablespoon or 2 of it vs. just 1.  I think the bottom line is that I’m just more of a straight up chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven kind of gal.  But if you’re into pecans, give these a try!

I hope everyone is safe and taking things one day at a time – and to Hurricane Sandy – thanks for the unexpected vaca 🙂



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