Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

Difficult: Not any more so than other cookie recipes
Timely: only passively, the cookies have to sit overnight before baked.

These chocolate chip cookies are the bomb-diggity!!  They bake up huge and thick, the outside gets crisp while the inside stays incredibly soft and chewy and full of chocolate.  This is the infamous recipe by Jacques Torres and was published in the New York Times.  It's been floating around Pinterest for quite some time but I always put off making it because it includes bread flour and cake flour which I don't keep on hand.

Don't let the inclusion of bread flour and cake flour deter you from making these cookies. Believe me I put off baking anything that included "other" flours (aka not all-purpose) but these have changed my mind. The bread flour, with it's extra gluten, give the cookies their heft. The cake flour (with a lower gluten content) offsets the bread flour for a delicate and chewy bite. Trust me, it's worth it.

These cookies are freakin' huge! After I made the dough, I weighed it and it came in at a whopping 4 pounds and 5 ounces. And 1 pound of that came from the chocolate chips. JT would tell you that making your cookies huge are one of the secrets to their success (3.5 ounces per cookie). But I'm a quantity girl and I discovered a chewy and crisp cookie weighing in at only 1.75 ounces. Although not as thick, still incredible in my book.

The one on the left weighs 3.5 ounces, the one on the right weighs 1.75 ounces.
3.5 ounce cookie bakes to around 5-6 inches in diameter.
The 1.75 ounce cookies bakes to about 3 inches in diameter.

The only downer to this recipe is that it doesn't offer immediate gratification - once you prepare the dough, you have to wait an excruciating 24-36 hours before you bake. Torture, I know. But totally worth it. The overnight sit in the fridge helps the dough come together and allows all the liquid ingredients to really absorb into the dry ones, which helps to produce a chewy texture and to not spread too much when they bake in the oven.

The recipe

2 cups minus to 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cup bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 butter) butter, unsalted, room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds chocolate (the original recipe recommends at least 60 percent cacao content, I just used 2 bags of semisweet)
Sea salt for garnish


1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and soda, and salt. Set aside.

2.  In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attached (or using a hand mixer), cream the sugars and butter until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes set to speed 6 on a Kitchen Aid). Decrease the mixer speed and add eggs one at a time mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.

3.  Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated, about 5-10 seconds. Add chocolate chips and mix until evenly distributed. You can mix the chips in by hand if you prefer. Whichever floats your boat.

4.  Press Saran wrap over the surface of the dough and refrigerate 24-72 hours. Or create a neat little block of cookie dough and wrap in Saran wrap and pop that into the fridge if you don't want the bowl taking up space.

5.  Weigh out dough using a digital kitchen scale to 3.5 or 1.75 ounces, then bake at 350 degrees according to the specifications below:
  • Large cookies will bake to 5-6" in diameter and will yield 18-20 cookies: weigh dough out to 3.5 ounce balls (a little bit larger than golf balls).  Space dough a few inches apart (4-6 to a sheet unless you have huge professional sheets, then you can do more) on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Garnish with sea salt. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  • Smaller (but not small) cookies will bake to 3" in diameter and yield around 3 dozen cookies: weigh dough out to1.75 ounce balls (just smaller than a golf ball) and place a few inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet (6 fit on a regular baking sheet for me).  Garnish with sea salt.  Bake for 14-16 minutes. 
 Some tips:
  • Take cookies out of the oven just when the tops are starting to look brown for a softer cookie.  
  • Rotate your pans during baking- especially if your oven has hot spots. 
6.  Leave cookies to cool on pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Or eat immediately with milk.

If you dislike the odd quantities of ingredients required for these cookies (although I honestly didn't have a problem measuring out 2 cups plus or minus 2 tablespoons), check out the Cilantropist's version of these cookies.

Inspired by Bakerella 
Some input on size from the Cilantropist
Recipe from ABC's The Chew

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Beer Marshmallows

Difficult?  Easier than you think.
Time consuming? Moderately so.

Beer marshmallows taste way better than you think they should, and they'd be an awesome and surprising addition to any football party (GO BUCKS!).  These marshmallows are reminiscent of overly crowded basements at fraternity houses my freshman  sophomore junior year of college - that beery smell and taste but without the annoying girls and frat-tastic guys.  These remind me of giving my husband a smooch at a football game - an awesome combination of beer and pretzels (him) and chocolate (me, of course).  Basically what I'm saying is that even if you don't care for beer (like me), or love it and wish you could bathe in it (don't), you can basically connect some awesome memory to these delicious, homemade, sweet and salty beer marshmallows dipped in chocolate and coated in crushed pretzels.

Check out How Sweet It Is (where I found the recipe) for awesome photos and the original recipe (which I am sharing below).

The Recipe

 Makes a 13x9" pan

3 1/2 envelopes (not ounces, envelopes) unflavored gelatin, Knox brand is pretty common
1 cup cold, flat beer, divided (any beer is fine, I think I used Yuengling)
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or meringue powder of equal portion
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups chocolate chips
pretzels, crushed (any kind is good but the original author suggests the hard sourdough kind)


1.  Flatten the beer;  do this by taking the cap off and leaving the bottle open in the fridge overnight or by pouring cold beer into a bowl and whisking vigorously to reduce the carbonation.

2.  Grab your 9 x 13 pan, cover with oil (e.g., Pam, butter, crisco, etc), and dust with powdered sugar to coat. Set aside.

3.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, pour 1/2 cup cold beer and 3 1/2 packs of gelatin. Gently mix with a spoon, set aside.

4.  In a medium sauce pan combine sugar, remaining beer, corn syrup and salt. Heat over low and whisk until sugar is dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and bring the sugar to a boil.  Stick in a candy thermometer. Let it boil for 8-12 minutes, until the sugar reaches 240 degrees F. The mixture will look light brown (darker or lighter, depending on the beer you use).

5.  Once the mixture is at 240 degrees, turn off the heat and gently pour it in the gelatin bowl with the mixer on low speed (Kitchen Aid speed 2) and the whisk attachment attached  (I recommend pouring a slow and steady stream down the side of the bowl so the whisk doesn't send how sugar all over the bowl).  Turn the mixer to high (Kitchen Aid speed 8 or 10) and beat for for 6-8 minutes. It will grow in size and be white and fluffy.

6.  While the beer/sugar mixture is going, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks in another bowl (a hand mixer works well).  Once stiff peaks are formed, add the egg whites and vanilla to the beer/sugar mixture and beat until just combined.

7.  Pour marshmallow into the 9 x 13 pan. It's very sticky, do your best getting it all out of the bowl.  Smooth down (a Pam coated spatula helps) then dust powdered sugar on top.  Let sit to firm up for 3-5 hours.

8.  Once firm, flip the pan onto a cutting board to remove the marshmallow.  Cut into desired sizes (if you taste-test at this time, you may not love the way they taste - I didn't and neither did my husband, but keep going).

9. Melt chocolate chips in microwave (30 seconds at 50% power, stir, repeat) or over a double boiler. Dip marshmallow squares in chocolate then roll in pretzel crumbs.  I added extra sea salt for a stronger sweet/salty punch.  Place on a wax paper lined baking sheet to harden.  You can speed up the process by putting a tray of coated marshmallows in the fridge.  Eat and enjoy!!

Recipe from How Sweet It Is.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Brownie Batter Dip

Difficult? Nope
Time consuming? Nope

Who doesn't love licking sweet, chocolatey brownie batter from the bowl (and spatula and fingers) before tossing all the dirty dishes in the sink?  Except for that whole don't-eat-raw-eggs thing.  That can end badly.  This brownie batter dip has no eggs in it and definitely got a thumbs up from my six-year-old niece who basically just ate this with her fingers.

The recipe

1 stick of butter, room temperature
1 (8 oz) package of cream cheese or neufchatel, room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar (doesn't have to be sifted)
5-8 tablespoons of cocoa powder (also doesn't have to be sifted)
2 tablespoons brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon white sugar
2+ tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Using a hand or stand mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together.
2.  Add one cup of powdered sugar, mix.  Add 1 tablespoon of milk, mix.  Add another cup of powdered sugar, mix.  Add another tablespoon of milk, mix.
3.  Add 5 tablespoons of cocoa powder, all of the brown and white sugars, and the vanilla.  Mix.
4.  Taste it - is it still too tangy from the cream cheese?  Add more cocoa powder.  Is the consistency too thin?  Add more powdered sugar.  Is the consistency too thick?  Add more milk.
5.  Serve with pretzels, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, Oreo's, anything.  And enjoy.

Recipe modified from Something Swanky.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Muddy Buddy Bars

Time consuming? Not at all.
Difficult? Not at all.

Everyone knows what muddy buddies are. They also go under the names puppy chow, dog food, monkey munch, and apparently also chewbacca chew (although I've never heard of that last one before). It's silky, melted chocolate and peanut butter covering a crunchy cereal (typically Chex or something similar) and tossed in powdered sugar. Absolutely melt-in-your mouth heaven!

These bars are slightly less messy to eat and better portion controlled than the bowl of sweet and crunchy amazing-ness I grew up with; yet they still retain the original experience of powdered sugar melting on you tongue quickly followed by the one-two punch combo of chocolate and peanut butter, all completed by that tell-tale crunch of the cereal that meant it was time to toss a few more bites in your mouth.

Good luck sharing these with anyone.  My friend Jamie and I made these for our cheerleaders and completely ate the entire pan ourselves.  And don't think I wasn't tempted to pummel her with a spatula just so I didn't have to share at all.

The recipe: Muddy Buddy Bars
yields 16-25 (more or less depending on how big or small you cut them)

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cups chocolate chips
4 cups crispy rice cereal

1 cup marshmallows
Powdered sugar for dusting (about 1/2 cup, more or less)

1. Line a 9x9" baking dish with foil and spray with nonstick coating. Set aside.

2. In a large, heat proof bowl set over a double boiler, stir peanut butter and chocolate chips with a large spatula until smooth and melted. Remove from heat.

3. Add cereal and gently fold to coat. Add marshmallows and continue to fold until everything seems evenly coated with the chocolate mixture.

4. Spread cereal mixture into the prepared baking pan evenly. Top with the powdered sugar sifted evenly over top and refrigerate until cool. The freezer also works if you are impatient, just don't leave it in there so long that the bars freeze solid.

5. Once cooled, remove the bars from the pan by lifting the foil overhang. Cut into desired sizes and serve.

Recipe from Cookies and Cups