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. 





Apple upside down cake

9 03 2008

I was cleaning the other day, and I came across an old copy of Everyday Food.  I flipped through the September 2006 issue, and there were a lot of plum recipes.  One recipe caught my eye – Plum Upside Down Cake – but I’m not a huge fan of plums, so I wondered if I could substitute apples instead.  I did just that, and the cake looks like it came out perfectly, although I need to wait to try it.  I’m going to bring it to Erin’s (Brett’s sister) house tomorrow night, and then I’ll report back.  Fingers crossed for a successful cake!

Here are some work-in-progress pictures:

…and the finished product:

Plum (Apple, in this case) Upside-Down Cake
Everyday Food, September 2006

Ingredients:

9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 red plums (about 1 lb.), halved and pitted, each cut into 12 wedges
1 large egg
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin-pie spice
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
whipped cream (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place 3 tablespoons butter in an 8-inch round cake pan; melt in preheating oven, about 4 minutes.  Sprinkle melted butter with 1/2 cup brown sugar.  Arrange overlapping plum wedges in a circle around edge of pan; repeat in center, covering bottom of pan.  Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat together remaining 6 tablespoons butter, remaining 6 tablespoons butter, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and egg.  Beat in sour cream until blended.  Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, pumpkin-pie spice, and walnuts.  Stir flour mixture into sour cream mixture until just combined (batter will be thick).

4. Spread batter evenly over plums.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  Cool in pan 5 minutes.  Run a knife around edge of pan; invert onto a serving plate.  Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream if desired.

Serves 8.