It’s a beautiful Sunday!

20 04 2008

Today is just perfect.  The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the spring flowers are blooming everywhere.  Days like this make me incredibly happy.  I don’t even care that it’s the last day before break!  To celebrate this beautiful day, I decided to finally make this chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve been hearing about for months now.  It’s from America’s Test Kitchen, and apparently these are the absolute best. 

Well, first – the recipe called for a lot more chocolate chips than what I’m used to (not a bad thing!).  Second, I usually make much smaller cookies, and third, I’m surprised at how these turned out.  They were a little crispy on the outside but chewy and soft on the inside.  I’m not a fan of the crispiness, and I’m thinking that I might have left them in for a bit too long, even though I watched them like a hawk. 

I think I need to try these again sometime.  I used salted butter instead of unsalted – will that make much of a difference? – and I skipped the salt that the recipe called for because of this.  Hmm.  I’m not complaining, because these cookies were great, but I didn’t like them as much as my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, which, I have to admit, is the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse semisweet chocolate chips.  Hey, why change a good thing, right?  I’ll try these again sometime and report back…

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients:

2 cups plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 T. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line cookies sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine dry ingredients; set aside.

3. With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. 

4. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined.

5. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined.  Stir in chips. 

6. Roll scant 1/2 cup dough into ball.  Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull into two equal halves.  Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball.

7. Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are soft and puffy (15-18 minutes). 

8. Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking and place on wire rack to cool. 





Oh sweet goodness

11 04 2008

I felt like making cookies tonight, and I wanted to try something new.  I also wanted to try a lower calorie cookie recipe since I’m trying to lose a few pounds before race day.  I googled “lower calorie oatmeal cookie recipe” and had low expectations.  I found a recipe at cooks.com and thought I’d try it out for kicks.

And THEN I decided to just sort of wing it.  I used the cooks.com recipe as the base, but I added what I thought would make the recipe even better – Splenda brown sugar blend to sweeten it up a bit (is 1 T. of honey really enough to sweeten an entire batch of cookies?), some Granny Smith apple pieces, and some chocolate chips. 

MIraculously, the cookies came out amazingly good!  They’re soft with just the right amount of sweetness, and the combination of the semisweet chocolate chips with the tart apples is heavenly. 

I didn’t want to take a picture of the outside of this ordinary-looking cookie, so I broke one open and photographed that instead.  DELICIOUS.

Confession: These cookies were so good that I literally couldn’t control myself while I was taking the pictures.  I snuck a bite and decided to just take a picture with my hand in it.  And I am not ashamed, because that bite of cookie was absolutely worth it. 

Oatmeal Cookies with Apple and Chocolate Chips
Adapated from a cooks.com recipe

1-1/2 cups quick cooking oatmeal – I used regular oats.
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 eggs beaten
1 T. honey
1-1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 cup Splenda brown sugar mix
1/2 cup diced apples – I used Granny Smith.
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1. Measure oatmeal into mixing bowl.  Stir in melted butter, mixing well.  Blend in combined eggs and honey. 

2. Add sifted dry ingredients.  Add milk and vanilla. 

3. Stir in Splenda brown sugar blend.  Mix in apple pieces and chocolate chips. 

4. Drop the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

5. Pour yourself a glass of milk and DIG IN. 





Biscotti with raisins and almonds = yum

20 03 2008

I love biscotti, and I came across this recipe a couple weeks ago and decided I needed to give it a try.  The recipe calls for ingredients that I already had in the pantry, and each serving is supposedly a mere 47 calories (which means that even if I screw up and make each serving triple the size, it’s still not a bad little snack calorie-wise). 

I began by making the dough, which was way too flour-y to form into a ball.  I added an extra egg white, and it was perfect.  Then, I rolled the dough into two logs.  Here’s a shot of one of the logs:

Next, I baked the logs for 25 minutes, and they came out of the oven looking like perfect little loaves of raisin bread!

After letting them cool for 10 minutes, I cut the “loaves” into slices and baked them again, this time for 20 minutes.  The result:

Yum!

Low-Fat Almond Date Biscotti
The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
4 T. Olivina or reduced-fat margarine
3 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup finely chopped dates or other dried fruit
Cooking spray

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine dry ingredients.  Stir to mix well.  Use a pastry-cutter to cut in the margarine until the mixture has the texture of coarse oatmeal.  Stir in the egg whites and extracts.  Fold in almonds and dates.

2. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into two 9″ x 2″ logs.  Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.  Place the logs on the sheet.  Allow four inches of space between each log for spreading.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

3. Cool the logs at room temperature for 10 minutes.  Using a serrated knife, slice the logs diagonally into half-inch-thick slices. 

4. Place the slices on an ungreased baking sheet in single layer, cut side down.  Return to 350 degree oven for 18-20 minutes, or until dry and crisp.  Turn the slices over after 10 minutes.  Let cool completely.  Serve or store.

Nutritional Value Per Serving:
Calories: 47 – Calories from fat: 18 – Protein: 1g – Carbs: 6g – Dietary fiber: 0.3g – Sugars: 3g – Fat: 2g – Sodium: 6mg

(My changes: I used 1 extra egg white and butter instead of Olivina/reduced fat margarine.  I also used raisins instead of dates.  Delicious!)





Red Velvet Black & White Cookies

5 03 2008

I love black and white cookies, and my absolute favorite are from a bakery in my hometown – Bella Napoli.  Yuuuum.  I love how they’re a cross between a piece of cake and a cookie.  Soft and sweet and a treat that I rarely indulge in.  So, when I found the Red Velvet Black & White Cookie recipe in Everyday with Rachael Ray, I knew that I had to make them.   They didn’t disappoint me. At all.  I’ll definitely be making these again, but I want to make smaller ones next time.  These were huge!

P.S. The recipe isn’t all that clear, but you need to measure out the batter and then swirl it around with the back of a spoon to spread it out on the parchment paper, like this:

Red Velvet Black & White Cookies
Everyday with Rachael Ray

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
4 oz. semisweet chocolate

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

2. Using a mixer, beat 5 tablespoons butter with the granulated sugar until fluffy, 3 minutes.  Beat in the egg, food coloring, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk until smooth.

3. Place 1/4-cup scoops of batter 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet; spread out.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry, 12-15 minutes.  Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool. 

4. In a bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon corn syrup and 2 tablespoons hot water until smooth.  In another bowl, combine the chocolate, remaining 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon corn syrup; microwave until melted, about 1 minute.

5. Coat the cookies with the vanilla, then the chocolate icing.  Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.





Chocolate Rocks

22 02 2008

I saw a picture of these cookies in O Magazine before I actually read the name of the recipe.  The picture of the cookies looked super yummy, but the name?!  Chocolate rocks?  They sound like something that would break your teeth and/or sink to the bottom of your belly if you ate one.  Name aside, I decided to try the recipe because: a) I love cookies, b) I especially love oatmeal in cookies, and c) I thought these would be quick and easy (I was right).

On to making the dough!  First, I realized that I should have read through the entire recipe before beginning.  It says to preheat your oven to 375 degrees and prepare the dough, and then it says to refrigerate the dough for 30-60 minutes before baking.  Needless to say, I wish I hadn’t started the oven, turned it off, and then started it all over again 40 minutes later.  Oh well.  Lesson learned – read the entire recipe before beginning!

 The recipe was super easy, and the dough came out incredibly hearty, as I suspected, and super tasty.  Here’s a picture:

 

I kept the dough in the fridge between batches, and I think they turned out pretty well.  They may not look pretty, but they sure do taste good.  They’re definitely heartier than your average chocolate chip cookies thanks to the mix of chocolate chips, oatmeal, and raisins.  I also subbed pecans for walnuts and used white flour instead of whole wheat flour, only because that’s what was already in the pantry. 

The result:

And an extreme close-up:

Verdict: The cookies were really good when they first came out of the oven and were warm and gooey, but they weren’t as good when they cooled down.  I think a quick pop in the microwave prior to eating might make these a bit better. 

Chocolate “Rocks”
O Magazine, March 2008

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup apple butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnut pieces
3/4 cup raisins

 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven.  In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Remove from heat; stir in brown sugar.  Stir in apple butter, eggs, and vanilla.  Add flour mixture; stir until well combined.  Stir in chocolate chips, walnuts, and raisins.  Return dough to bowl, cover, and refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes to an hour.

2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Drop dough by rounded soup-spoonfuls about 1 inch apart.  Back 13 to 15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through cooking, until bottoms of cookies are golden brown.  Immediately transfer cookies to racks to cool.  Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.