Year two of the blog will bring a new culinary challenge. I’m going back to the basics and am challenging myself to actually use the cookbooks I have. The internet makes it so easy to be inundated by recipes, that we often forget about the ones sitting right under our noses in our beloved cookbooks. My new challenge is to try at least one new recipe a month from each of my cookbooks. Feel free to join the challenge, either with the books I choose or using the cookbooks on your own shelves.
January 28, 2012
Dark Chocolate Chip Comfort Cookies (and some baking tips)
(So I was super amped about my resolution (which wasn’t even official at this point) and apparently had some time on my hands, so I went a little crazy in Week 1, 4 new recipes J)
If you have never heard of Bakerella her site is awesome. She is basically the pioneer on the revolution that is the cake pop/cake ball, and has a whole book on it! The first time I made cake pops I was using the recipe/instructions from Sugar Derby , but I’m pretty sure she took it from Bakerella. I made red velvet cake balls for my brother-in-law’s birthday back in July and they were awesome. Also, Sugar Derby has a bunch of awesome, unique baking ideas. She has a new funny fascination with making really small things, mostly because they are cute.
Red Velvet cake balls for Matt's birthday
While I am a bit off topic let me digress further and talk about my cookie baking tools. It took me a bit to get a system that I was happy with, so I feel it is only right to share.
So, I had been using these coated non-stick baking sheets and hated them! They were coated with a dark non-stick finish and they were burning the bottoms on all my cookies! Very sad and frustrating. So I talked to my friend Bonnie and she said she always uses parchment paper. So I bought some parchment paper and that did fix my burning issue, mostly, but I still hated those pans. So then I talked to my mom and she told me about her insulated baking sheets. There is a layer of air trapped between the aluminum which promotes even baking and eliminates burning. Awesome! Once I starting using those, I never had burned cookies again. From there I was pretty happy with my system, but felt wasteful about using parchment paper every time I baked cookies. I was composting it but still thought there had to be a better way. Awesomely enough, my roommate Nikole had heard of these silicon baking sheet liners called silpats and got my one for my birthday, love it! It’s easy and reusable, so no more parchment paper. It’s also supposed to be very effective when making cookies with lots of fixins’ like the turducken cookie (Oreo wrapped in chocolate chip cookie), and many of the Sugar Derby’s cookie recipes (I was making a lot of these at one point).
The other thing that I feel is a necessity is my cookie scoop. It makes nice, uniform cookies. My mom used one of these when I was growing up and the sound of the scoop scraping against my metal mixing bowl is very reminiscent of my childhood and all my mom’s cookies baking sessions (especially in preparation for a sibling's Bar/Bat Mitzvah).
Okay, back to the point. I found this recipe on Bakerella and thought the chocolate on chocolate (always the kind of cake I requested as a kid for my birthday) seemed like just what I was craving. I was also intrigued by the use of the peanut butter. For my first batch, I just used my mini cookie scoop and plopped blobs on my silpat/cookie sheet. I didn't really feel like rolling them into balls, but I soon realized why it was necessary/recommended. I think it must be the peanut butter (a thicker form of fat in these cookies) that makes them spread less while baking and end up puffier cookie. I've found that it goes like this as far as types of fat and degree of cookie flatness (starting from flattest to puffiest): 1:1 crisco/butter combo, butter, crisco, margarine, other fats, i.e.peanut butter & cream cheese.
So, because I did not roll the first batch into balls, they end up a little poky and lumpy looking. After that, I rolled the rest into balls and they looked much prettier. I also had a ton of salted caramels that my friend Allie had brought me from France so I decided to put a surprise in the middle of these cookies. I took a small scoop of dough and wrapped it around a caramel, then rolled it into a nice, smooth ball. Man, was that a good idea! It made these cookies very rich and decadent so really you wouldn't be able to eat more than one in a sitting (not an issue I have with my other fresh-out-of–the-oven cookies).
Also, I left out the nuts because I'm not a huge fan, but I'm sure they are good rolled in the nuts as well.
So, in the end, these cookies were super good and very rich, yum.