December 25, 2008

Chocolate Chunky Cups

You guys all read Orangette, right? At least all you food bloggers do, no doubt. Orangette was one of the first food blogs I found. I don't even know how I got there but I remember a post about her kitchen and a UPS package and that she had polaroid-style photos. I was captivated instantly. One thing I really admire about Molly's blogging is that it's generous in ideas but spare in both its prose and posts. She doesn't post every single thing she cooks. She obviously self-edits, only writes up recipes that are well-tested, and she doesn't show off.

And when she refers back to an earlier post about something from the past, I always follow the links. Because invariably I will find something else to swoon over. But for all the months that I have been reading Orangette, I had not actually cooked anything from it yet. Well, I think I started off on the right foot. In a recent post about holiday baking, she mentioned "chocolate blocks." Cacao-freak that I am, I had to check it out. Which is how I wound up with a friend dubbing me a "chocolatier" and making me laugh out loud. If they only knew how easy it was! Easier than making chocolate chip cookies. Easier than making fruit crisp. And way, way easier than making a pie crust.

Here's the basic idea: Start with good chocolate. Melt it. Add your choice of dried fruit & nuts, and some sea salt. Chill. Done in an hour.

You can find the recipe here. My big change - and with all due respect to the food blog goddess herself, I think it's a huge improvement aesthetically - was to chill my chocolates in mini muffin cups and to reserve some fruit & nuts to sprinkle on top*. So much prettier this way and alerts everyone to the presence of nuts in case of any allergies. Molly chills hers in an 8-inch square baking pan and then cuts into small blocks. I tried that method on the first go-round, but found it hard to cut neat squares. You also lose a lot of the edges if you want them all to look nice - and I hate to waste chocolate! (I melted that batch and started over - it's a forgiving recipe).

The fruit & nut combinations are endless. Dried cherries are so good with dark chocolate, and I combined them with golden raisins, peanuts & pistachios. I added chopped crystallized ginger to a second batch and that was terrific! Hazelnuts would be great if you had them - but really, any nut and any dried fruit can work. I also sprinkled fleur de sel both in and on the chocolates - just be careful of over-salting if your nuts are salted, too. I wish I had had dried apricots in the house because the orange would be pretty - perhaps next time.

A bonbon cup might be a more manageable size for popping in the mouth, but the mini muffin cup is easier to fill and I used my 24-cup mini muffin tin to store them while chilling - very handy.

For my holiday gift bags, I packed 4 chocolates into small Wilton brand candy boxes that I found at Michael's Arts & Crafts, and tied with ribbon.

I will never give up baking, but I have to say that chocolate-making -- at least this kind -- is so simple and so rewarding. I've started reading recipes for homemade peanut butter cups - oh lordy, we're in trouble now....

*Full disclosure: I got this idea from the French Chocolate Bark in Ina Garten's new Back to Basics book. I am a food plagiarizer, guilty as charged.

December 23, 2008

No Pudding in the House

If you came here looking for a TWD post on butterscotch pudding, I am sorry to disappoint you. There is just way too much holiday baking to be done for me to squeeze in pudding also. Pudding can't be put in a gift bag so that rules it out for this week.

Also, I have been making the most amazing butterscotch pudding for a number of years now. It comes from a New York restaurant called Drovers Tap Room and the pudding was a signature dessert there for a long time. It requires no cornstarch and is baked slowly in a bain marie, producing the silkiest pudding ever. I just can't see going back to the cornstarch method after knowing the Drovers version. The NY Times published the recipe a decade ago and I've been making it ever since. You can find the recipe here.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

December 21, 2008

Still I'd Like to Save One Soul

I'm not Christian. I need to say that upfront because I am about to tell you about my favorite Christmas cd, "William the Angel" by Rob Mathes. It's a song cycle about angels, the birth of Jesus, the meaning of Christmas and the power of faith. It's not even the type of music I typically like - being more ballad-y, ez-listening-y and schmaltzy than I normally choose. But I think the songwriting is excellent, the music will make you dance and sway and the story is a universal one about hope, redemption and belief. I love it. It puts me in a Christmas mood every year about this time and brings tears to my eyes if I am feeling a little sappy. It also reminds me of my first year of dating my husband when we went to one of Rob Mathes' annual Christmas concerts. That was a magical evening; I remember being awed by the music - we saw Mavis Staples among others - and feeling so madly in love. Anyway, give it a listen. This is the title track but the whole album is beautiful. (Sorry but I can't embed the video as it's protected on youtube).

I am also a huge fan of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life." I am a total sucker for it and cry every time, and not just at end - I cry through the whole thing. There was a good article in the NY Times this week about its subversive nature as a cautionary tale about the disappointments of adulthood and conformity - I agree that that is in the movie and it's what makes it more than just a Christmas story to me. It's that cynicism veiled in saccharine which makes me love the movie on more than a sentimental level.

Why do I celebrate Christmas if I don't believe Christ was a saviour? I've been asked that many times over the years. Well, I love all the cultural trappings - the cookies, the carols, the lights, the tree, the big dinner, Rudolph, Santa, the Grinch, champagne & eggnog. And as someone who doesn't participate in any organized religion, I find it important to have a time when we focus on family, friends, helping others less fortunate than us and finding joy in an often-cruel world. Tom and I have already started talking about the traditions we will give our daughter for Christmas. Yes, there will be gifts, a tree and the myth of Santa Claus. But we will also create a day when we remember the most important and invaluable gift of all - love. Love for our family & friends and for those we don't even know.

Now I need to get back to the kitchen and bake more cookies!

December 16, 2008

Triple Ginger Buttery Jam Cookies (TWD)

This week for Tuesdays with Dorie, Heather of Randomosity & The Girl, invited us to make Buttery Jam Cookies.

Peering into my fridge, I found a jar of ginger preserves that I had bought for the Fruit Galette back in the summer. Inspiration struck and I decided to make a triple ginger cookie. Dorie's original recipe calls for powdered ginger, so I just upped the ginger-y-ness and added the preserves, along with diced candied ginger. I think this made a different cookie than was intended but as a big fan of ginger, I didn't miss the fruit jam at all.

The cookies are puffy and soft - not my favorite cookie texture. But I think they're still a nice cookie, and the ginger is especially good for this time of year. My dad loves all things ginger so I'll be baking up the rest of the dough for him on Christmas Eve.

You can find the cookie recipe on Heather's blog and if you'd like to make my version, just throw in a handful of chopped candied ginger at the end. I also flattened the balls of dough after putting them on the cookie sheets, to ensure a more uniform shape - if you follow Dorie's instructions, you'll get a more spherical shape and the bottoms may cook faster than the tops.

It's a cookie time of year and I was happy to add another one to the roster - thanks, Heather!

December 8, 2008

Grandma's Sugar Cookies ( TWD)

Sugar and spice. And butter. And salt. And well you know, a few pistachios and dried cherries don't hurt either. For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie, we are making Grandma's Sugar Cookies, which are a very simple cookie that offers lots of room for improvisation. These cookies were chosen by Ulrike of Kuchenlatein and you can find the recipe on her blog.

I baked two versions -- one a simple version with lots of spicy cinnamon baked inside (I love Penzey's Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon) and a light dusting of cinnamon sugar sprinkled on before baking. These remind of a crisper, neater Snickerdoodle and they are really well suited for accompanying afternoon tea or late night cocoa.

My second batch was studded with dried cherries and pistachios. I love this combination for the holidays as you get the red & green effect but in more muted tones than brightly colored sugar. And the flavors are so good together.

For the record, I don't make shaped, frosted cookies for the holidays. Or for anytime. I have nothing against those cookies, and I know that the TWD bakers are going to knock themselves out with creativity and artistry on this week's challenge.

But you see a while back, I worked for a cookie company that specializes in hand-iced cookies. The cookies look gorgeous, and sometimes they don't taste bad either. But when you have a job where you watch people ice cookies for 8 hours a day, and they do it really, really well and really, really fast... Well, let's just say your motivation to do it at home definitely wanes. I ate so many iced cookies at that job. And I have never even liked iced cookies that much to begin with! But they were everywhere, all day long, and when a hunger pang or a boredom streak would hit, there the cookies were - so pretty, so inviting, so damn fattening. Sigh.

Every once in a while, we would have to test out new packaging and we would try eating really old cookies to see how they had fared. Needless to say, somebody has to spit out yucky, rotten cookies in order to tell you when they are "best eaten by." And that person was occasionally me. So, yup, I'm over iced, shaped cookies. They look pretty, and I bow down to all of you who slave over them. But as for me, I am now solely a "slice and bake" gal when it comes to sugar cookies.

Speaking of which...I like to wrap my cookies in parchment rather than the saran that Dorie recommends. I find it's helpful if you write the baking time and temp on the packages so you don't have to root around for the recipe later. I usually make 6 or 7 different cookie doughs for the holidays. I freeze the doughs in parchment rolls or individually scooped balls, label them and then bake in small batches for gift bags as I need them.

This year, these cookies will definitely be in the line-up.

December 2, 2008

Pecan Sable Sandwiches (TWD)

I can't believe I am squeaking this post in under deadline! It's been weeks since I did a Tuesdays with Dorie recipe - I know, I'm a bad, bad blogger. But I did it! 10:13 pm and I can post my pecan sable sandwiches.

Dorie didn't say you could use pecans in this recipe. Did she know something that I didn't? Well, I forged ahead anyway with some of the many pecans stocked in my freezer. I also used light brown sugar instead of white sugar - it's become a standard substitution for me lately as I think it's always an improvement. I filled mine with apricot jam and used a rectangular scalloped cutter that I LOVE. I poked tiny holes with the end of a tapered chopstick as I couldn't find my teeny pastry tip. The holes were a bit too small to give any peekaboo action, but I still love the shape and look of these and will definitely try it again with another recipe.

Despite my abiding love for pecans and brown sugar, I have to say that I found these a little bland. With a few bites I got a shot of salt and that seemed to improve things for my tastebuds but otherwise I'd have to say "eh."

As for the comments from other TWD'ers about the yield, my cutter is 2"x1.5" and I would get at least 30 sandwiches if I baked all of the dough.

Thank you to Dennis of Living the Life for choosing this week's recipe. I had never made sandwich cookies before and I'm inspired to make more types, so thanks Dennis.

On another note, I have a new camera. I am in love with it. Still working on getting the hang of how to use all the features and take better shots, but it's a great improvement and I can't stop taking pictures with it. It would probably help matters if I stopped trying to shoot late at night in my dark kitchen, but that's another issue. I love my new toy - thanks, Tom!

November 26, 2008

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving...

....and all through the kitchen: the turkey was a-brining, the pie shells were a-chilling and the ice cream maker was a-churning. That's pretty much the status here. Actually, the turkey is no longer in brine but now splayed out on a sheet pan in all its full glory (legs wide open, wings akimbo) in the bottom of the fridge. I am following a Cooks Illustrated recipe, which involves letting the skin dry out before roasting. Supposedly this gives a crisper skin. All I can say is right now I crack up every time I open the fridge door and see that naked turkey butt staring at me.

Every year, I try some new-fangled turkey concept and it's usually a bit of a disaster. Let's not revisit last year's grilled butterflied turkey incident (charred on the outside, raw on the inside, anyone?) or the 18-pounder whose brining solution spilled all over the fridge and the floor the year before. This year, I'm back to the oven method but I still couldn't stay away from a recipe that promises perfection through complex processes. So I'll be turning the turkey over 3 times during the course of its time in the cooker, punching holes in foil to go under it and basting with butter. We'll see what happens. Next year, I promise, really, truly, I will just stick the thing in the oven, shut the door and wait until the timer goes off.

Anyway, also on the menu is stuffing which I haven't made yet but will be fairly basic: bread, turkey stock, celery, onions, sage, parsley, apples and pecans. Sometimes I add sausage and I bought a nice chicken-fennel sausage last Saturday with that intention but we ate it on Monday. Oh well.

Determined not to make the gravy easy either, I followed a NY Times recipe for making do-ahead gravy with real pan drippings. Took me all day Sunday. But I ended up with 2 quarts of gravy that is already done. I hate making gravy - always another stresser. It's hot in the kitchen, people are trying to get in and out of the oven while I'm stirring like a madwoman and cursing that stupid fat-separating measuring cup that never actually works. So the gravy is done and I hope it's okay. I didn't really taste it much on Sunday.

I'm making pies too. More on that tomorrow when I know how they turned out. Pie crust is my nemesis and I'm still not sure I succeeded this time. I made another batch tonight despite already having 2 pie shells in the freezer because I didn't feel confident about one of them (had to roll it out twice). So more rolling on the agenda in the morning. Man, do I hate rolling out pie crust - why is it my favorite dessert??

But I love this holiday. We all get along, there's a nip in the air, no gifts are required and it's all about food!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! May your turkeys be juicy, your cranberries neither too tart nor too sweet and your pie crusts flaky! Catch you on the other side of gluttony.

November 18, 2008


Pumpkin as a young kitten

We have been left speechless and heartbroken by the sudden death of our 5-year-old Pumpkin.

Pumpkin had the purest heart we have ever known, sharing love with all of us unconditionally and selflessly. We called him Mr. Sunshine because he brought so much happiness to our home and greeted each new day with nothing but joy. He loved to play, and could jump so high to catch bouncy balls that we also called him Air Pumpkin. His ability to turn 180 degress in midair was truly remarkable and never failed to make us laugh and marvel at his agility. He was a small fellow, never growing much past kitten-size, but he was fast, agile and graceful.

On his favorite orange blanket, with a favorite toy

Pumpkin loved all the other cats in our home, even when they didn't love him back. My first cat Shera never forgave us for adopting Pumpkin and GoGo Boots, as she had been an only child until then. She hissed and swatted at them on a regular basis. Pumpkin was never deterred, continuing to try to befriend her no matter what. When Shera was sick and dying, Pumpkin often sat with her, curling up to keep her warm. Shera had rejected his friendship for the entire time they lived together but Pumpkin never gave up on her. And when Merlin joined our home, coming in as a very aggressive cat used to fighting for territory outside, Pumpkin kept his distance until Merlin was ready to be friendly. His careful dances around Merlin were acts of diplomacy worthy of a Secretary of State.

Pumpkin & Gonzo

Pumpkin also adored his older uncle, Gonzo, who came to us from Tom's mother. Gonzo was shy about fitting into a home with three cats already established there but Pumpkin made friends immediately and loved to curl up with Gonzo in front of the fire or on a blanket. Again, when Gonzo was sick, Pumpkin watched over him.

Hunting for a bug together

But the one he loved most of all was his brother GoGo Boots. We rescued both of them together at 2 months old when they were wild semi-feral kittens. We had no intention of keeping one of them, let alone two, but we fell in love quickly and when we saw how much they loved each other, we couldn't stand to separate them.

Christmas kitties

Pumpkin and GoGo were by each other's side every day since they were born. The hardest thing now is to see GoGo alone. One without the other just seems so wrong. My heart breaks for GoGo all day long, wishing we could bring his brother back or explain to him what happened.

Curled up cozy

Tom and I have said goodbye to older cats and we have wondered what became of feral cats that we fed for years and then never saw again, so we are no strangers to grief for our pets. But this one hurts more than all the others combined. He was too young, and still so full of life to be gone this soon.

We miss Pumpkin more than we can ever say and wish the whole world could have known a heart as pure as his.

October 28, 2008

So Our Children Can Fly

I heard this on NPR today. I think it's one of the most beautiful pieces of prose to come out of this election:

"Rosa sat so Martin could walk.
Martin walked so Barack could run.
Barack is running so our children can fly."

I hope that all children of every race find inspiration to fly as high as they can.


(For the full link, click here.)

October 24, 2008

My Nephew's Tomato Sauce

Throw away those jars of supermarket tomato sauce right now! I am about to show you a way to make a great marinara sauce that is almost as simple as boiling the pasta. My nephew Ryan recently introduced me to this one. He credits Marcella Hazan but I don't know which book of hers and as far as I'm concerned, it's Ryan's sauce.

The basic recipe is as follows:
2 cans whole San Marzano plum tomatoes *, cut in half, with juices
1 onion, peeled & cut in half
1/2 stick butter
salt & pepper

Put everything in a pot. Cook for a while.
Remove onion.
Serve over pasta with grated parmesan.

Now that was was easy, wasn't it??

*The brand of tomatoes is KEY. Ryan and I both love these:

We buy them at Whole Foods and I think the brand name itself is San Marzano. They are domestically grown tomatoes but they are so flavorful, bright red and firm that I thought for a long time that they were imported. There is probably some provenance-name infringement lawsuit coming their way one day as the San Marzano region in Italy is renowned for their plum tomatoes and may have some sort of copyright thing on the name. But let's not tell anyone in San Marzano, Italy about them because I'd hate to see them disappear off the shelves. If you can't find these tomatoes, then make sure you do use imported San Marzano ones. There really is a difference in taste between those and basic Hunt's or Redpack.

Here are a few other pointers:

You can cut the tomatoes on a cutting board, but I recommend one with grooves on the edges or you end up with tomato juice everywhere. Alternatively, you can use my method, which is to slice them with scissors right into the pot. This also can be messy - watch out for exploding tomato seeds and juice! You should wear an apron and a shirt you don't care about. I dump the whole can into the pot, then fish around with (clean) hands for the tomatoes and cut them underneath the juice so that any exploding seeds stay under the surface.

If you prefer a thick sauce, you can leave out the juice from can but I hate to waste it and usually opt to include it but cook longer (see below).

The sauce is typically cooked at a low simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you have more time, you can keep cooking it for up to 3 hours for an even more yummy sauce. The tomato flavor will concentrate with more cooking as the tomatoes reduce.

I like to smooth out the sauce with my hand-held immersion blender but you can also leave it chunky which is how Ryan likes his.

You can add browned ground beef (or mix of beef & pork); browned sausage, fresh basil, etc. but this sauce is really very good on its own. The butter gives it enough depth that it doesn't need other embellishments, especially over ravioli or another filled pasta. This sauce is especially handy if you are making a lasagna or other multi-ingredient baked pasta as you don't need to spend a lot of time chopping garlic & onions, sauteeing, etc.

Thank you, Ry, for a great easy way to make homemade tomato sauce!

Ryan, October 2008

October 21, 2008

Pumpkin Coconut Curry Muffins (TWD)

I love pumpkin. I love it in a pie, I love it in a cake, I love it in a bread, I love it in a cookie, I love it in a soup, I love it in a risotto. Morning, noon, evening, night - I'll eat a pumpkin treat anytime of day. I love pumpkin so much that we even named one of our kitties after my favorite squash.

(Aw isn't he adorable?)

Pumpkin season (aka October and November) is a big deal in our house. Almost every Saturday, I cart back a pumpkin or two from our farmer's market for roasting and pureeing. Tom knows it's fall when he finds the sink full of pumpkin pulp and seeds all over the kitchen floor (have I mentioned yet that I'm a bit of a messy cook? I clean up later but the in-progress stage is sheer mayhem given how tiny our kitchen is and how ambitious my projects are...but I digress).

So naturally I was thrilled to see that this week's selection for Tuesdays with Dorie was her Pumpkin Muffins, even though I've made them before. Twice. Or maybe 3 times. Because I'm just that way about pumpkin (and about Dorie's recipes!). But this time I decided to make a few changes.

I wanted to come up with a flavor that would remind me of a North African pumpkin curry. I was a little timid about going too far with those flavors, though. So I added about a cup of sweet coconut and 1/4 tsp of curry flavor, omitting the nutmeg and cloves. I thought about substituting coconut milk for the buttermilk but chickened out. I also cut the sugar down by about 1/4 cup and used 1 cup of white whole wheat flour instead of all white flour. The pumpkin and coconut go really well together, though I think I would try adding the coconut milk next time as the coconut was fairly subtle. I also would add double the amount of curry and see how it tastes - I could barely taste any spice at all.

It was so much fun to be back in the TWD groove after 2 weeks off! During those weeks, I was lazy about posting but I hope to be back up to speed in coming weeks.

p.s. I also entered an Apple Pie contest this weekend at a nearby Farmers' Market. I made two pies - Caramel Apple and Honey Lemon Thyme. Unfortunately, my camera battery was dead when I got to the market so I have no photos but you'll just have to believe me on this one. I made the mistake of making them late at night when I was tired, so I don't think they were my best efforts but at least I tried two new versions. The honey thyme was a very intriguing flavor - maybe not for everyone, but definitely interesting. The first and second place pies were quite good but totally straightforward basic apple - the contest rules had encouraged creativity so I thought there would be more interesting winners but I have to admit they were good. Next year, I'll make one that is more classic, and not do it when tired and impatient. I have a year to work on it so I know I can win next year!

October 13, 2008

TWD Mini Break

I am taking a mini break from Tuesdays with Dorie. Unfortunately, all the baking has had a negative impact on waistlines and pocketbooks in our home. I will be back next week for pumpkin muffins but have decided I need to be more discerning about which recipes I make, especially if I don't have a reason to share them with others or they are high-calorie. I'm trying to cut out all desserts during the week and just allow myself to splurge on Saturday or Sunday. If the TWD recipe is one that I can't share or don't feel inspired to make, it's going to have to be skipped. This is a big change for me as I have an insatiable sweet tooth. But it needs to be done...

I will continue to follow the other TWD bakers and try to bake a TWD recipe at least twice a month as the rules require. But I have also joined a new baker-blogger club, "You Want Pies with That?" which is all about my favorite dessert, PIE. I am excited for my first post with them!

I will continue to post about baking & cooking as I can, and will be starting a series of profiles of our kitties in the near future, along with an adoption progress update. So stay tuned!

September 29, 2008

TWD Rewind: Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits

This week's official recipe for TWD is Creme Brulee. You can find the recipe on the blog of this week's host, Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake.

I was so happy to see the offer for a rewind as I'm not a big fan of creme brulee. It's a bit rich for me and there was no way I could justify making it for just me and kittydad. Now, I don't seem to have a problem with making ice cream for just the two of us...and I know it's essentially the same ingredients but still, I couldn't do creme brulee this week. Finally, I don't own a torch so that sealed the deal to go for a rewind. (For non-TWD'ers, this means making a recipe that was already made in the past but you missed).

Feeling a bit over-sated and over-sweetened this weekend from all the baking of weeks prior, I opted for the least sweet thing I could find on the list: pecan sour cream biscuits. I've been wanting to make these for a while. I L-O-V-E biscuits. It has taken me a lot of practice to get the hang of biscuits - flaky, light, tender is the goal but it's harder than you might think to perfect it.

Chock full of crunchy pecans.

I didn't have sour cream in the house (well, I did, actually but it was a putrid shade of green), so I decided to sub 0% Greek yogurt. It worked great, and kept the fat content down. I made mine a little smaller and a little taller than Dorie calls for - they sort of fell over a bit on the side, rather charming, don't you think?

Leaning tower of biscuit!
Check out those flaky layers!

These are really yummy biscuits. I love the crunchy pecans and the slightly tangy taste.

Yum. If you want the recipe, just leave me a comment and I'll email it to you.

September 27, 2008

A Great Loss

Paul Newman was a terrific actor, a true humanitarian and a major philanthropist who gave much of his wealth to good causes. He was also an early leader in the organic food movement, bringing organic packaged goods to grocery store shelves before many people embraced the idea.

As I live not far from his hometown, I have heard many stories from people who met him and apparently he was a very friendly, humble and funny man.

He will be missed.

September 23, 2008

TWD: Dimply Plum Cake

After not loving the last two cookies we made for TWD, I was happy to have a success in our house this week. Today's recipe was Dimply Plum Cake, chosen by fellow blogger Bake-En. You can find the recipe on her blog.

I had made the plum cake about a year ago and wrote a note in my book that said, "Don't overbake - a little bland." So this time, I added some sliced almonds to the top, a bit of almond extract to the batter and sprinkled the plums with cinnamon sugar before baking. Then I made sure to start checking the cake after only 30 minutes and I took it out at 35 mintues, instead of Dorie's stated 40 minutes. I thought it was perfect this go-round!

This plum cake reminds me of the famous New York Times Plum Torte, which definitely dates me as a baker and devotee of the NYT's food section (I started both hobbies at a very young age - really, I did!). To learn more, go here for an article and recipe. It's a delicious cake, too. I think baked plums are soooo yummy - much better than when they're raw. Baking them concentrates their jammy quality and turns them into a whole other fruit.

I love simple cakes with fruit. Especially because they take so well to adding a dollop of something else. In this case, I decided to try out Dorie's Burnt Sugar Ice Cream. Man, is that a good ice cream! The unchurned mixture tastes like melted caramel candies. Once churned, the ice cream has a fabulous "finish" (as they say in the wine world) of rich, dark caramel flavor that will make you really, really happy.

I used, once again, my method of replacing 1/4 cup of the sugar with 2 Tbs light corn syrup stirred in at the end. This guarantees a very smooth, scoopable ice cream -- I highly recommend trying it if you churn your own. Ever since I discovered this trick, I have become a bit obsessed with making ice cream. It's getting to be a bit of a problem in the house in terms of calorie intake, but I have to say there's nothing like digesting depressing economic news while ingesting a scoop of perfect caramel ice cream. A spoonful of ice cream helps the bad news go down, as I say.

September 16, 2008

TWD: Two for One Post

First, just to catch myself up with the TWD schedule, I finally baked the malted whopper drops. I can't say I loved these. Maybe I would have enjoyed them more if I used Chocolate Ovaltine? Or if they had chocolate chunks only and no chewy, sweet Whoppers in them? Hard to say, and I'll probably never know as I don't feel inclined to make them again. BUT, it was fun to experiment and I now own real malted milk powder which I will need to use again, perhaps for ice cream.

As for this week's recipe, I did make them on time! Chocolate Chunkers were this week's challenge and I managed to bang them out on Sunday, despite being in a state of complete exhaustion from 14 hours of hard work on Saturday, combined with very little sleep for the previous few days. What better way to reward yourself for working hard than with chocolate cookies?
Unfortunately, this was another cookie that I liked but wouldn't go out of my way to make again. I'm not normally so finicky about cookies but these just had too much going on. I made mine with bittersweet chunks, white chocolate chunks, dried apricots and peanuts.

I personally prefer a cookie with a higher ratio of dough to chip or nut. I get the idea that these are supposed to be chockablock-filling cookies but I thought all the flavors competed and got in each other's way. Plus, talk about an expensive cookie! Sheesh, I could have made 3 batches of an ordinary cookie for what I spent on the additions for this one.

Thank you to Claudia of Fool For Food for choosing these. You can find the recipe on her blog.

Stay tuned for next week: Dimply Plum Cake. I've made it once already and am looking forward to it a second time.