chocolate chip cookies

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When we lived in Milwaukee in the 80s this recipe was printed in the Milwaukee Journal. This was before the internet so instead of copying and pasting the recipe, I clipped it from the newspaper. It’s been in my recipe collection ever since. This cookie is chewy and soft, just the way I like it.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The Milwaukee Journal

1 cup or 16 tablespoons shortening (or 1/2 unsalted butter, 1/2 shortening), room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar, sifted to get out the lumps
1 cup white sugar (substitute 1/2 cup Domino Light sugar)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 pkg (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F

2. Let butter/shortening soften at room temperature. In a bowl put shortening with butter, if using, add sugar and cream until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix thoroughly. Add chocolate chips by hand.

4. Scoop dough in a cookie scoop onto ungreased cookie sheet. Set each cookie dough ball 2 inches apart. Bake at 375˚ for 8-10 minutes or until done. Cookies are done when touched in the center and your finger barely leaves an imprint. Cool cookies on a wire rack before stacking.

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chocolate meringue tower

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Called a vacherin glacé, a meringue tower is three layers of pavlova with a whipped cream sauce in between the layers. It is incredibly sweet.

4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups superfine sugar
1 cup toasted slivered almonds, ground fine
1 8-oz block cream cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips
chocolate syrup
toasted slice almonds, optional

Preheat oven to 300˚F/175˚C. Prepare 2 baking trays. Line them with parchment paper. On one parchment, draw two 8-inch circles about an inch apart. On the second piece of parchment draw one 8-inch circle in the center. Flip over and set aside.

Place egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip on medium speed until soft peaks form (the tips curl over). Gradually add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form (the tips stand up straight). Gently fold in the 1 cup ground almonds.

On the prepared parchment papers, mound and smooth the meringue inside the circles. Bake 35 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the meringues sit for one hour in the oven. Do not open the door. After one hour, take out the meringues and gently peel off the parchment one meringue at a time. If not using right away, wrap airtight and place in an airtight canister until ready to use. In Bangkok’s humidity this is an essential step.

One to two hours before serving, make the sauce. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the cream cheese and butter. Blend until smooth. Add the sugar and the cream. Exchange paddle for the whisk attachment and whip until soft peaks form (the tips curl over). This can be made ahead, in which case, cover and chill until ready to use.

To assemble, place one meringue disk on a plate. Spoon 1/3 of the sauce on top. Sprinkle 1/3 of the chocolate chips and toasted sliced almonds, if using, on top. Cover with another disk and repeat two more times. For the top layer, drizzle chocolate syrup over the top. Chill 1-2 hours. Serve cold.

chocolate buttercream frosting

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This is only the second time I’ve ventured into the Italian buttercream frostings, a delicious confection for frosting cakes. Previously I made a malt buttercream for the chocolate malt layer cake: first the egg whites are whipped then hot syrup is added to the whipped egg whites.

I have discovered Italian meringues are well worth the trouble because the so-called “quick” or American buttercreams–whipping butter and sugar– are way too sweet. It’s true that when chilled, the Italian buttercream turns stiff into butter, but at room temperature, it is deliciously light, airy, and doesn’t seem to be as sweet even though a similar amount of sugar has been added to it.

This chocolate buttercream frosting is adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe. It’s different from the traditional method in that the egg whites, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar are heated and then whipped. The addition of espresso coffee and rum intensify the chocolate flavors so I recommend adding them to the frosting. This recipe makes more than 4 cups of frosting because, after frosting 3 seven-inch round layers I had 3 cups left over.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Prep time: 15 minutes
Active time: 60 minutes (includes frosting the cake)
Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients
1 pound dark chocolate (at least 65% cacao)
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 cup egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 1/2 teaspoons water
3 tablespoons dark rum

Set a large pot filled one-third full of water. Heat it to simmering on the stove. Meanwhile, chop the chocolates and put them in a heat-proof bowl over the simmering water. Don’t let the bowl touch the water. Stir the chocolates occasionally to melt. As the melting progresses, stir constantly so all the pieces melt and the chocolate becomes smooth. Set aside. Don’t turn off the heat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Mix until frothy. Scrape the mixture into another heat-proof bowl and set this over the simmering water. Stir constantly, warming the egg whites and dissolving the sugar and salt, about 3-5 minutes. Test the mixture by rubbing some of it between your fingers to be sure there is no sugar grit remaining. Scrape back into the mixing bowl.

Cake Baker’s Note: I rinsed out the mixing bowl before putting back the warmed egg white mixture.

Whip the egg whites on high speed until the meringue turns glossy and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. By now the bowl should feel cool to the touch.

Reduce to medium speed. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. The frosting will turn yellow and at times will look curdled. The volume will also deflate. Keep going, this is normal. Scrape down the sides.

Add the melted chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and rum. Beat on medium speed until the chocolate mixture is blended. If the buttercream seems too soft, cool the mixture then beat it again. At the French Culinary Institute in NY, the chef put the bowl of buttercream in an ice water bath.

Frost the cake.

secret ingredient chocolate truffles

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I love avocados but it is difficult to assess their ripeness. I’ve slit into an avocado only to discover it was either under-ripe or over-ripe. I have discovered that the under-ripe ones hold up well in stews and ratatouilles. The over-ripe ones I usually make into an avocado spread or guacamole. But this came as a revelation to me: to use an avocado to make chocolate truffles (recipe adapted from Christine@Apple of My Eye). The delicate flavor of avocado is overpowered by the chocolate, so its only purpose is to add moisture to the truffle balls. I call the recipe the

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Truffles
Makes 18-20 one-inch diameter truffles

1 over ripe avocado (save the best ones for salads and sandwiches!)
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, recommended (I used semi-sweet baking chocolate and chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided.

In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate over boiling water. Alternatively, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-40 second increments, stirring after each increment. Cool slightly.

Process the avocado until it’s a smooth paste in a food processor. Scrape the avocado paste into the melted chocolate along with the sugar, salt, vanilla, and 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Refrigerate or freeze the chocolate mixture until it is firm–about 1-2 hours.

Remove from the fridge or freezer. Using 2 teaspoons, shape the chocolate mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Roll each chocolate ball in the remaining tablespoon of chocolate powder. Freeze or refrigerate until firm.

Baker’s Note: Though this simple recipe requires no baking, it does need to be thoroughly chilled before rolling in the cocoa powder. And when it is warm, as it is here in Bangkok, the truffle returns to room temperature rather quickly, and the cocoa powder will be absorbed. My sister-in-law who is an expert in all things chocolate, recommends freezing the truffles before rolling them in the cocoa powder. It worked beautifully. Thanks, Mimi!

nutella-bacon french toast

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Andy suggested the bacon and I suggested the Nutella. A marriage of true minds admits no impediment, especially when it comes to foodies.   A simple enough breakfast or brunch notion for two, with fruit.

Nutella-Bacon French Toast

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla, optional
4 slices whole wheat bread
4 slices bacon
2 teaspoons oil
1/2 to 1 tablespoon Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread for each slice of bread
Sea salt flakes, optional
Powdered sugar, optional

Put bacon on a plate between two sheets of paper towels. Microwave on high heat for 5 minutes or until crisp. Remove from oven to cool slightly. Crumble into large pieces and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whip the eggs until frothy with the milk and vanilla, if using. Soak one slice of bread in the egg mixture for a few seconds, turning once. Set the slice on one end at the side of the bowl then repeat the step with the remaining slices.

Heat the oil on medium high heat in a large skillet and swirl it around. Add the bread slices and cook on one side for about 2 1/2 minutes or until golden brown. If the bread gets too brown too quickly, reduce the heat.  Flip and repeat. Voila! French toast in 5 minutes (or less).

Spread Nutella on two slices of French toast. Top one side with crumbled bacon. If desired, sprinkle a little sea salt on top. Cover with one slice of bread spread with Nutella. Slice sandwich in half diagonally. Repeat with the remaining two slices of bread. If desired, sprinkle each triangle with a little powdered sugar. Serve with sliced fruit. I recommend, kiwi or any berry–so enjoy summer’s bounty. Here in Bangkok, strawberries are a luxury but kiwi is available and quite reasonable.

 

mango-nutella dessert or another way to eat a mango

 

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These coconut wafer cookies by Pattaraporn are Andy’s favorites. Light and crispy, they make a great snack. Crumbled over ice cream and mango and drizzled with nutella, these cookies complement the other tastes and textures of this dessert. This dessert needs no recipe, just a little imagination.

Mango-Nutella Dessert

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Servings: 2

What you’ll need:
1 large ripe mango cut into cubes
2 scoops ice cream, any flavor (I used Été banana almond and cookies and cream)
4 coconut wafer cookies, crumbled  (or any flavor)
2 tablespoons nutella, liquefied

How to assemble the dessert:
Divide the mango cubes between two small bowls. Add the ice cream to the top of the mangoes. Using your fingers, crumble 2 cookies over each scoop of ice cream. Heat the Nutella in the microwave for about 15 seconds to liquefy it. Drizzle over the ice cream. Eat!

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marbled banana bundt cake

marbled banana bundt cake

This baby bundt is so cute! I bought a new six-cup bundt cake pan from Amazon. The six-cupper is ideal when you don’t want to bring a whole cake to the office. Of course, I had leftover batter so that went into a loaf pan. The cake was so tender, moist, and not very sweet.  AJ and I ate two loaf cake slices each! So I wrapped the rest of it up airtight so we wouldn’t finish the entire cake in one sitting.

Marbled Banana Bundt Cake (Adapted from Baking Bites)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 45 minutes
Cooling time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours (Today was so cold when I opened the kitchen window. Cooling time was drastically reduced to 20 minutes!)

1/2 cup butter, plus 1 tablespoon, room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ripe, medium bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
2 cups, plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup low fat Greek style yogurt (or sour cream)
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and mix it with 1 tablespoon flour. Brush this butter-flour mixture inside one 6 cup bundt cake pan and one 8 1/2×4 1/2 inch loaf pan (6 cup capacity). As you can see from the measures, you can also combine and use one 12-cup bundt cake pan.

Cake Baker’s Note: Because I use pans with a dark non-stick finish, cakes have a tendency to over-brown in them. I discovered that pre-heating the oven to 325˚ takes longer to bake the cake and I end up with a crusty brown exterior. I now preheat the oven to 350˚F and reduce the heat to 325˚F just when the cakes are placed in the oven. The result, as you can see in the photo, is a perfectly golden brown exterior.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one by one, until each has been just incorporated. Beat in vanilla extract and mashed bananas.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Add the sour cream or yogurt, followed by the remaining flour mixture, stirring after each addition.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of batter into a small bowl and stir in cocoa powder. Pour 1/4 of the plain batter into the prepared bundt pan and 1/4 of the remainder into the prepared loaf pan. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter to the edges and corners. Top each pan with half the cocoa batter. Spoon half the remaining plain batter on top of the cocoa batter. Repeat with the other pan. Run a knife through the batter gently to swirl. Tap pans gently on the counter to settle the batter.

Cake Baker’s Note: I misjudged the plain batter so the loaf cake did not have a plain batter topping. Appearance doesn’t matter because the cake still bakes up “marbled.” Next time I bake this, I will not swirl the chocolate layer in the bundt but let it bake up like a tunnel cake with a chocolate center.

Put the pans in the oven. If they are dark non-stick pans, reduce the heat at once to 325˚F. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Turn cakes out and place them onto a wire rack to cool 10 minutes in the pans. Unmold the cakes and turn them right side up to let them continue to cool on the rack. Wrap thoroughly cooled cakes airtight in plastic if they are not going to be eaten right away. Cooled cake can be stored wrapped airtight in a cake keeper for 2 days.

Serve plain, dusted with powdered sugar, or à la mode–with ice cream.

salted caramel brownies

Salted Caramel Brownies (adapted from Food Network Magazine)
A colleague at the office gave me the October edition of this magazine. I promised her I would bake one of the cakes in its pages. I was intrigued by the recipe for silver frosting but that’s for another post.  Instead, I decided to try this brownie recipe. After all, it looked straightforward and simple, perfect for Cake Tuesday tomorrow. That saltiness of the sea salt flakes plays against the sweetness of the chocolate and the gooey stickiness of the caramel. This is a moist and tender brownie, not overwhelming in chocolate or sweetness.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total: 1 hour (plus cooling)
Servings: 12 large brownies or 24 square brownies

Have at room temperature:
1/2  pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon
8 oz plus 6 oz  semisweet chocolate chips
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs (3 extra-large eggs in the original recipe)
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5-6 oz caramel sauce
2-3 teaspoons flaked sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter. Mix in 1 tablespoon flour. Brush the butter-flour mixture on the inside and bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan. Set pan aside. If the pan has a dark nonstick finish, remember to turn the heat down to 325˚F.
  • Melt the butter, 8 oz of the chocolate chips and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium bowl set over simmering water. Allow to cool 15 minutes. It is very important to allow the butter mixture to cool before adding the remaining chocolate chips or the chips will melt and ruin the brownies.
  • In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together 1/2 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining  6 oz of chocolate chips and the remaining 2 tablespoons flour in a medium bowl and add to the chocolate mixture. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
  • Shift pan back and forth on the counter to settle the batter. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t over bake. If you’re using a pan with a dark non-stick finish, test the brownies after 30 minutes. If the toothpick comes out clean, take the pan out of the oven.
  • As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, place the jar of caramel sauce without the lid in the microwave and heat until it’s pourable. I don’t have a microwave oven (still) so I heated the sauce on the stove. Stir until smooth. Drizzle the caramel evenly over the hot brownies and sprinkle with the sea salt flakes. Cool completely. Use a sharp knife and cut into 12 bars or 24 squares.

 

espresso coffee chiffon cake with chocolate glaze

Espresso Coffee Chiffon Cake
This cake is my mother-in-law’s recipe. It is a long-time family favorite always requested at birthdays and other special occasions. I usually bake it at least once a year. I’ve altered the recipe with the addition of a teaspoon of cocoa powder for I find chocolate intensifies the coffee flavor.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 55-60 minutes

Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour (2 cups plus 4 tablespoons cake flour)
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar, divided
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, optional
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preparation
Preheat oven to 325˚F.

Whip egg whites. Put egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating at high speed until blended. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until whites turn smooth and silky. There’s no need to clean the beaters for the next step.

Make the batter. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder if using, and 1 cup sugar in another large bowl. Make well in center of the dry ingredients and add oil, egg yolks, water, dissolved coffee, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until all ingredients are moistened.

Combine the batter and whipped whites. Scrape the batter into the whipped egg whites. By hand gently fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites. Cut the center of the batter with a spatula and drag it along the bottom to the side of the bowl then turn the spatula over. Rotate the bowl one quarter turn and repeat the process until the batter and whipped egg whites are blended. When white streaks remain, stop mixing. Pour batter mixture into an ungreased tube cake pan. Cut the batter with a sharp thin blade to eliminate air pockets.

Bake and unmold the cake. Bake 55-60 minutes. If the pan has no “feet” invert the cake pan over a funnel to cool. Cool thoroughly before unmolding and frosting. To unmold, use a sharp thin blade to loosen the sides. Push straight down and forward, away from the side. Remove the knife and repeat. To loosen the center, use a skewer, applying the same motion. Gently remove the sides of the pan. Then support the cake with the center-piece in one hand; this prevents the bottom from tearing as you release the cake.  Insert the blade between the bottom of the pan and the cake, applying the same motion. Remove the center-piece.

When the cake is cooled frost it, if desired. Or pour on a chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze (from America’s Test Kitchen)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3-5 minutes
Standing Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream, hot
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

Preparation
Heat the cream on medium low heat in a small saucepan until it bubbles, 3-5 minutes. Put the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the milk. Whisk all ingredients until smooth and let it sit until thickened, about 25 minutes. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, letting the glaze drip down the sides. Let the glaze set before serving, about 25 minutes.