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chocolate chip cookies

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Today will be a quick post, as I try to make up for time lost. I’ve been cooking and snapping pictures these past few days like a woman gone mad. I like doing this and was not happy when I couldn’t post for a few weeks. Things were just too busy around my way. I especially like doing this for you-the readers. I appreciate those of you who came back day after day even when I hadn’t put up anything new. Once again, thank you.
 
I find that I have been doing a lot of posts about baking. I don’t have a preference about whether I choose to cook savory foods or bake. I also don’t feel that one is any easier to execute than the other. Sure, baking follows formulas but cooking savory dishes requires that you have a palette and a decent knowledge of food compatibility. But what I cannot argue with is the absolute beauty of a completed baked dish. Whether it is a cake,pie,brownie or cookie, baked goods beg to have their picture taken.
 
These chocolate chip cookies are the reason I blog. In the oven they smelled magnificent and when they came out of the oven they were so perfect and true to the recipe I knew I had to share them.
 
These cookies are worth bragging about and not only because they are pretty, but because they are made with 100 percent whole wheat flour. There  is not a drop of white flour in this recipe and the best part is you would never know it. The whole-wheat flour gives this cookie a nutty,not too sweet flavor and the texture-crispy around the edges and soft in the center-is exactly what you want from a cookie. You will love them. Kids will love them.
 
I cannot take credit for this cookie. All praises should  go to Kim Boyce who,along with Amy Scattergood,wrote a great book called Good to the Grain. It is a cookbook that will make you think differently about baking with whole grains. Go get it.
 This is a big,round cookie. One is enough to eat,but you will find it quite difficult to not eat more. I made only one dozen and froze the shaped balls to cook for whenever I got a cookie craving. The recipe makes a little over twenty nice sized cookies,so there is plenty for freezing extras. The recipe doesn’t call for it but I toasted about a cup of pecans,chopped them up and added to half the dough. Nuts added to an already nutty tasting cookie was cookie heaven for me.
 
I hardly ever baked with whole grains. Now I am inspired to add whole grains to other baking recipes. With Fall and cooler weather just around the corner, I can’t wait.
 
 
Recipe:Chocolate chip cookies adapted from Good to the grain, by Kim Boyce with Amy Scattergood
 
Dry mix:
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
 
Wet mix:
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
 
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chopped into chunks
 
 
Directions:
Pre-heat oven 350 degrees. Position oven racks to upper and lower third portions of oven.
Line two half sheet baking pans with parchment paper.
 
Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl. If any grains are left in sifter,add to flour in the bowl.
Add butter and both sugars to bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.on low-speed mix just until the butter and sugar are blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula.Add the eggs one at a time mixing until each is combined. mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture until the flour is barely combined,about 30 seconds. Scrape down bottom and sides of bowl.
Add the chocolate chunks to the batter. Mix on low speed until the chocolate is evenly combined. Scrape down the bowl. Use your hands to gently work all ingredients into batter.
For each cookie scrape out 3 tablespoons of dough-gently shape into a round ball and place on the parchment lined cookie sheet. Repeat with dough placing 6 dough rounds on each baking sheet about 3 inches apart from each other.
Bake 16-20 minutes. Rotating the cookie sheets halfway through, until the cookies are evenly dark brown.
Transfer the cookies,still on the parchment to the counter to cool.
 
Note:Per the author these cookies are best eaten warm from the oven or the same day. The dough freezes nicely. Just shape into correct size balls and freeze on a cookie sheet placed in the freezer. When all the cookie dough balls are frozen place in a freezer bag,label with contents and cooking instructions.
 
 
 
 

A brownie from the past

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Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownie-by Kat

I didn’t think I’d be venturing down the brownie path so soon after the bittersweet brownie post and proclaiming I wasn’t much of a chocolate lover.  However, brownies being one of my favorite ways to get my chocolate fix…

Two things happened over the weekend to prompt this post.  The first was, I came across this photo of Ina Gartens Outrageous brownie that I made on August 10th 2006.  The other was,  after a quick google search, I discovered that they are the subject of much debate in the food blog-world:  Are they the best brownie ever?  Yes, most definitely.

 I worked at an exceptional catering company specializing in weddings and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.  The pastry chef made the most incredible brownies.  I spent half my time working my tail off and the other half trying to get my hands on that brownie recipe.  This was before I knew Ina’s brownie existed.  I had a copy of her cookbook but at the time was only interested in savory recipes so I’d never tried any of the desserts and sweets in the book.

At the catering company whenever an an event was over and  there was leftover food (that wasn’t already paid for) we would have it as staff meal.  I always made sure I had one or two of those brownies  tucked away for my ride home.  There was something about these brownies that gave them their extraordinary flavor-it wasn’t just the chocolate.  This was the perfect brownie-cakey but without the fluff, more dense with a nice chewiness and a good combination of chocolates and sugar.

As my time at the catering company neared its end it became clear I was not going to get the recipe and asking the pastry chef was out of the question.  On my last day I packed my knives and my chosen piece of brownie and headed home.

It was exactly three years after leaving the catering company that I  made Ina’s Outrageous Brownie.  After baking and tasting them  I was sure they were the brownies from the catering company.  They had the same taste of something  more than just chocolate.  Only this time I knew what that something was because I was staring right at it in the pages of Ina’s cookbook-instant coffee granules!

You will hear me talk a lot about one ingredient enhancing the flavor of another.  Much the way salt spikes flavor into bland foods and a splash of red wine vinegar will brighten a soup or stew.  It’s just the way food and cooking works.

Coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate.  Its as simple as that.  It’s what made those brownies at the catering company taste so good.  The same as Ina’s.  I have not seen the recipe but I am almost sure of it.  So yes, these are the best brownies ever.  Moist with a cakey chew, not too sweet and loaded with chocolate. They taste especially good right from the fridge.

I’m happy I came across this recipe again.  I haven’t  made the brownies since then but I’m sure I will as I’ve come up with some nice variations even though they’re fine the way they are. 

Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies

Note: This recipe can be easily scaled down to a half recipe. Otherwise it makes 20 large brownies.

DO NOT use a 9×13 pan. Use a rimmed half sheet pan for the full recipe and a quarter sheet pan if you scale down the recipe to half.

 

1 pound unsalted butter

1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate

6 extra large eggs

3 Tablespoons instant coffee granules

2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Butter and flour a 12 x 18 x 1 inch baking sheet

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water.

Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder and salt.  Add to the cooled chocolate mixture.  Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter.  Pour into the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Do not over bake!  Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate and cut into 20 large squares.

valentine’s day and bittersweet chocolate brownies

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When I set out to do this blog I promised myself that I would be honest.  A blog is a journal of ones life.   What you love about it, what you hate about it and everything in between.  In a journal you tell the truth, as you know it, about yourself.  My truth today is that Valentine’s Day is not my favorite holiday.  It never has been.  I don’t get caught up in the decorations, the cards and the chocolate.

 I know as a child I looked forward to the day as children do.  Anticipation growing,  as the day neared,  to see how many cards I would receive in  my specially made mailbox attached to the side of my school desk.  I can’t say the same as an adult.  I’ve never pestered boyfriends nor husband months ahead of time dropping hints about what I would want for Valentine’s day.  I don’t get flowers because I’ve never asked for flowers.   I don’t get boxes of chocolate because I’ve never expressed a desire for boxes of chocolate.

  I”ve always gone all out  when It came to sending my children to school with goodies, though.  Flipping through copies of Family Fun magazine for the most creative valentines day crafts.

Though I don’t go crazy over chocolate I have a few favorites that come in handy when a craving hits.   Peanut m & m’s, Haagen Daz chocolate ice cream and brownies. 

 

 

My favorite brownies are more cakey than gooey and fudgy.  I wanted to try this brownie recipe because one of my favorite cookbook authors, Alice Medrich, described them as having a “texture between moist cake and rich chocolate mousse”.  They do not disappoint.

Brownies are a favorite because they are easy  to make and pack a powerful chocolate punch in a tiny piece.  I used a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut these out.  You can use the scraps to make brownie balls and roll them in colored sugars, nuts or dust with powdered sugar.

Recipe:  Bittersweet Brownies

8 oz  bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces

3 Large eggs at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

8 INCH SQUARE BAKING PAN

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with foil or parchment paper.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heat proof bowl (glass) and sit atop a saucepan that has water in it and the water is simmering over low heat.

Melt the butter and chocolate and stir frequently until the mixture is melted and smooth and warm.

Remove from the heat and set the bowl aside.

In a medium bowl beat the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla with a hand mixer on high-speed until the mixture is thick and light in color, about two minutes.  Whisk in the warm chocolate.  Fold in the flour.

Scrape the batter into the lined pan and spread evenly.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.  The top will be crackly.  Cool  completely in the pan on a rack.  Invert the brownies on a rack and peel off the foil or parchment.  Turn right side up and cut into sixteen two-inch squares.

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