Archive for the ‘gift foods’ Category

objective:
to make cookies that…
taste like cookie dough
that are not doughy in the center
are nearly perfectly round with thick borders
not overly cakey
salty enough
aromatic
the standard recipe -Toll House

2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1 c butter
3/4 c light brown sugar, packed
3/4 c sugar

1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 c chocolate chips

result: These seem a little overly gooey to me. I’m not crazy about the texture. I want to make a cookie that’s different from Toll House, if not better.

recipe 1 – the Ambrosia Chocolate Chips bag recipe

2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 c butter
3/4 c light brown sugar, packed
1/2 c sugar

2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 c chocolate chips

result:
These were Steve’s favorite. I didn’t like the flavor or texture. They were flat and crispy, which I don’t like in a cookie. The flavor was rich and butter-heavy. The main differences in this recipe versus the “standard” are: 1/2 tsp less salt, 1/4 c less sugar, 1 tsp more vanilla and 1 egg instead of two.

recipe 2 – Experimental based on AB
my own experiment after watching Alton Brown’s cookie episode

2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt

1 c butter-flavored shortening
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1/4 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 egg yolks
2 c chocolate chips

result:
Not sweet enough. Less pleasant smell, probably from the shortening. Slightly too heavy/dense. Texture wasn’t great (resembled shortbread). The difference in this recipe: baking powder instead of baking soda, butter-flavored shorting instead of butter, 1/4 c extra brown sugar, 1/2 c less white sugar, 2 egg yolks instead of 2 whole eggs and 1/2 tsp more vanilla.

recipe 3 – Otis Spunkmeyer recipe
started as my own experiment, ended up resembling the Otis Spunkmeyer recipe, which led to me choosing to just follow the OS recipe.

2 3/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

1/2 c butter-flavored shortening
1/2 c butter
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1/2 c sugar

1 tbs vanilla
2 eggs
2 c chocolate chips
*fats were melted; eggs, fats and sugars were whipped until light and creamy

result:
This was the best tasting dough so far. The consistancy of the dough was really nice. The cookie slightly resembled the texture of homemade play dough – in a good way. It was moist without being gooey. Edges are great. I would like to try it with just one egg.

The problems are: 1. The flavor. Without the butter, the flavor lacks depth. maybe change to 3/4 c butter + 1/4 c shortening.

Possible improvements: Re-mix dough quickly before scooping the dough onto the pan; the butter tends to separate and sink during baking, which leads to crispy, jagged, flat edges. For a better cookie dough flavor, try using 1 1/4 c dark brown sugar + 1 c sugar.

Differences vs. the Standard: 1/2 c more flour, 2 tsp baking powder, half butter and half shortening, more brown sugar than white sugar, 3 x the vanilla.

recipe 4 – browned butter recipe

2 3/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder

1/2 c butter, browned with salt
1 tsp salt
1/4 c coconut oil
1 c dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 c sugar
1 egg, blended before adding
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbs water
scant 2 c milk chocolate chips

*Butter browned with salt; fats were melted before sugars were added. Eggs, fats and sugars were whipped until light and creamy. Baked at 350 degrees.

result:
This cookie looked perfect. When they’re fresh, the strong, butter-scotch type flavor is nice, however, after a day the flavor tastes more like rancid butter… Milk chocolate chips were a nice variation, however the chocolate chip cookie flavor is lost. More chips are needed; increase by 50%. The texture was nice, although slightly on the dense side.

Differences vs. the Standard: 1/2 c more flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 c less total fat, butter was browned first, coconut oil for 1/3 of the fat, same amount of sugar with more brown sugar than white, egg blended before adding, 1 more tsp vanilla, milk chocolate chips

recipe #5 – Like #4 without the browned butter

2 3/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder

1/2 c butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 c coconut oil
1 c dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 c sugar
1 egg, blended before adding
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbs water
360 g milk chocolate chips

350 degrees for 10-12 minutes (11 mins for 20 g scoops, 12 mins for 30 g scoops)

result:
These were good. The flavor was very close. Maybe needs more sugar; they taste slightly bland. Semi chocolate chips should be used to get that real chocolate chip cookie flavor. (It’s possible it could work with 1/2 milk + 1/2 semi sweet, but the few samples I made with this weren’t as good as I had hoped.) The texture of these was great as long as they were baked exactly the right amount. Since this cookie doesn’t brown like the traditional cookies, it’s difficult to gauge when they’re done. Too short of a bake time makes them overly gooey and oily and too long makes them hard and chewy (bad chewy – like taffy or caramel). These were flatter than what I wanted, which was due to the (accidental) increase in coconut oil. These were prepared with the traditional cream method, starting with the butter at 65 degrees, although I couldn’t tell a difference… (likely because of the extra coconut oil). Chocolate chips didn’t melt.

Possible Improvements: Use SS chips, the correct amount of coconut oil (1/4 c), try increasing chips to 400 g, increase vanilla to 1 tbs, increase white sugar to 3/4 c, try baking at 400 degrees to melt chips.

recipe #6 – Like #5 with minor adjustments

2 3/4 c [400 g] flour
2 tsp [8 g] baking powder

1/2 c [120 g] butter
1 tsp [6 g] salt
1/4 c [60 g] coconut oil
1 c [200 g] dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 c [120 g] sugar
1 egg, blended before adding
2 tsp [10 ml] vanilla
2 tbs [30 ml] water
[400 g] ss chocolate chips

tools:
scale
stand mixer
sifter (or food processor)
scraper spatula
spatula
2 half sheet pans
parchment paper
2 tbs cookie scooper (or 1 metal tablespoon)

preheat: 400 degrees

method:

  1. Preheat oven (400 degrees) and line pans with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and coconut oil in stand mixer. (This brings the temperature of the butter up, which is better for creaming.)
  3. Add sugars and mix at medium speed until color has lightened and volume has increased by about 50%, about 2 minutes. (This aerates the butter, which will give the baking powder room to create tiny air bubbles.)
  4. Meanwhile, sift together the flour and baking powder. (Pulsing in a food processor is my method of choice for sifting.)
  5. Add egg to a small container and use a fork to blend (about 15 seconds). Add to butter mixture. Mix again at medium speed until mixture is smooth and fluffy (about 1 minute).
  6. Add the flour mixture and the water to the butter mixture in batches; 1/3 of the flour at a time, followed by some of the water, and mixing until blended before adding another batch. Try to finish with the water. (This allows the wet ingredients time to fully absorb the flour.)
  7. Remove bowl from mixer and blend in the chocolate chips by hand. (The mixer can break/smash chocolate chips.)
  8. Using a 30 ml [1 oz /2 tbs] scoop (stainless steel works best), measure out 8 level scoops onto the pan. Lightly roll scoops into a ball and place in rows on the pan (3 in the top row and bottom row; 2 in the middle row.) Smash down slightly with your hand. (The diameter shouldn’t be much larger than the diameter of the balls; they just need to resemble a disc shape rather than a sphere. This helps them bake into the perfect cookie shape without being thicker at the center – which can lead to uneven baking.)
  9. Bake on the middle to upper middle oven rack (although all ovens are different). Keep the oven light on to monitor browning/flattening. If the bottoms are browning too quickly, or they appear to be flattening too much, place them on a higher rack. Likewise, if the tops are browning up setting too quickly. More often than not, the pan will need to be rotated half way through cooking time to ensure each cookie is heated on pace with the others. As they heat, they will slowly lose their wet appearance. Remove them from the oven before they look completely dry. The edges should look slightly darker than the rest of the cookie, but the cookie itself will not darken until it is overdone. They will still look slightly wet and slightly undercooked. They will finish cooking on the counter. I usually note the exact bake time of the first batch and hold off on putting in the second batch until I’m able to decide if I baked them for the appropriate amount of time. They will harden within the next two hours, so they can be soft as they cool. But, they should not have any parts around the center that appear slightly transparent (gooey), as those will not harden enough during cooling. Allow the hot pans to rest on the counter still in the pan for about 2 minutes, then slide the parchment paper off onto the counter. After about 5 minutes, use a spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack. If sliding them off the hot pan causes them to lose their shape, then note that the next batches should be left on the the pan longer. If placing them onto the cooling rack causes them to sink and take the shape of the rack, they should be left on the parchment paper longer. However, if left too long they will the will have soggy bottoms. A cooling rack is important.
  10. Store in an airtight container. My favorite cookie jars:

recipe #7

1/2 c unsalted butter [120g/4oz]
2 tbs vegetable oil [30ml/1oz]
1 c [200 g] dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 c sugar [120g]

2 3/4 c flour [400g/14oz]
2 tsp baking powder – aluminum free [8g]

1 large egg, blended before adding
1 tbs vanilla [15ml]
1/4 c milk [60ml]
1 tsp salt [6g]

[400g] ss chocolate chips

tools:
scale
stand mixer
sifter (or food processor)
scraper spatula
spatula
2 half sheet pans
parchment paper
2 tbs cookie scooper (or 1 metal tablespoon)

preheat: 400 degrees

method:

  1. Preheat oven (475 degrees) and line pans with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and coconut oil in stand mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. (This brings the temperature of the butter up, which is better for creaming.)
  3. Add sugars and mix at medium speed until color has lightened and volume has increased by about 50%, about 2 minutes. (This aerates the butter, which will give the baking powder room to create tiny air bubbles.)
  4. Meanwhile, sift together the flour and baking powder. (Pulsing in a food processor is my method of choice for sifting.)
  5. Add egg to a small container and use a fork to blend (about 15 seconds). Add to butter mixture. Mix again at medium speed until mixture is smooth and fluffy (about 1 minute).
  6. Add the flour mixture and the water to the butter mixture in batches; 1/3 of the flour at a time, followed by some of the water, and mixing until blended before adding another batch. Try to finish with the water. (This allows the wet ingredients time to fully absorb the flour.)
  7. With mixer off, add chocolate chips.  Lower bowl half way (or lift top, depending on your mixer) and blend on low speed. (The mixer can break/smash chocolate chips.)
  8. Using a 30 ml [1 oz /2 tbs] scoop (stainless steel works best), measure out 8 level scoops onto the pan. Lightly roll scoops into a ball and place in rows on the pan (3 in the top row and bottom row; 2 in the middle row.) Smash down slightly with your hand. (The diameter shouldn’t be much larger than the diameter of the balls; they just need to resemble a disc shape rather than a sphere. This helps them bake into the perfect cookie shape without being thicker at the center – which can lead to uneven baking.)  Place a few chips on top of each cookie by hand for presentation.
  9. Bake on the middle to upper middle oven rack (although all ovens are different). Set the timer for 8 minutes (they should be ready to come out after 10).  Keep the oven light on to monitor browning/flattening. If the bottoms are browning too quickly, or they appear to be flattening too much, place them on a higher rack. Likewise, if the tops are browning up setting too quickly. More often than not, the pan will need to be rotated half way through cooking time to ensure each cookie is heated on pace with the others. As they heat, they will slowly lose their wet appearance. Remove them from the oven before they look completely dry. The edges should look slightly darker than the rest of the cookie, but the cookie itself will not darken until it is overdone. They will still look slightly wet and slightly undercooked. They will finish cooking on the counter. I usually note the exact bake time of the first batch and hold off on putting in the second batch until I’m able to decide if I baked them for the appropriate amount of time. They will harden within the next two hours, so they can be soft as they cool. But, they should not have any parts around the center that appear slightly transparent (gooey), as those will not harden enough during cooling. Allow the hot pans to rest on the counter still in the pan for about 2 minutes, then slide the parchment paper off onto the counter. After about 5 minutes, use a spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack. If sliding them off the hot pan causes them to lose their shape, then note that the next batches should be left on the the pan longer. If placing them onto the cooling rack causes them to sink and take the shape of the rack, they should be left on the parchment paper longer. However, if left too long they will the will have soggy bottoms. A cooling rack is important.

NOTES

  1. water can be used in place of milk.
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8 oz. fine milk chocolate, chopped
4 oz. [1/2 cup] water, divided
1 oz. [2 tbs] butter
3 egg yolks
1 oz. [2 tbs] sugar
10 oz. [1 1/4 cups] whipping cream, whipped

  1. Melt chocolate, 1/4 cup water and butter. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan and using an instant read thermometer, continuously whisk egg yolks, sugar and the remaining 1/4 cup water over LOW heat until mixture reaches 160 degrees F.
  3. Remove from the heat; whisk in chocolate mixture.
  4. Set saucepan in cold water bath and stir until cooled, about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon into dessert dishes. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

YIELD 6 servings
PREP TIME 30 minutes
TOTAL TIME 4 hours 30 minutes
NOTES

  • Semi-sweet chocolate can be used, although I find the flavor a bit harsh.
  • Using LOW heat for the eggs is imperative.  Scrambled egg is not welcome here.
  • A lovely variation of this dessert is to coat the bottom and sides of a wine glass with mouse and chill for 2-4 hours.  Before serving, fill the interior of the glass with banana or strawberry slices.
  • Use plastic wine glasses covered in plastic wrap and ribbon to create an elegant food gift.

8 ounces dark chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
pinch of salt
powdered cocoa, cinnamon or chopped nuts to coat

  1. In double boiler, melt broken chocolate, stirring constantly.
  2. Remove chocolate from heat; blend in butter, salt and cream. Use a rubber spatula to stir gently until mixture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Chill for 15-30 minutes, until thick enough to hold a shape.
  4. Using a melon baller, scoop chocolate and roll in powdered cocoa.

YIELD
PREP TIME
TOTAL TIME
NOTES
Truffles are best when served at room temperature.

1/4 cup butter
1 10 oz. bag regular marshmallows
1/2 cup honey or sugar (optional)
2 packages microwavable popcorn
1 cup (approx.) chocolate chips

  1. Prepare popcorn in microwave one bag at a time.  (This will take about 7 minutes.)
  2. While popcorn is popping, melt butter, marshmallows, honey/sugar in large pot over MEDIUM heat, stirring as needed.
  3. Stir in popcorn and mix well. Remove from heat and allow about 5 minutes for mixture to cool.  (Chocolate chips shouldn’t melt on contact.)
  4. Pour a handful of chips into a small bowl for your working area.  Stir in a small handful (maybe 1/4 cup) popcorn mix and incorporate chips as you form a ball. (See Chocolate Chips notes below.)

NOTES
This recipe is for smaller popcorn balls since they’re richer and messier with the added chocolate.

Popcorn
The sugars must not be heated too high (235 degrees max) or they will caramelize and become hard.
Scoop the popcorn into the pan, rather than pouring it, to avoid pouring in too many unpopped kernels.
If mix is too warm the chips will melt, which yields more of a brown popcorn ball.

Chocolate Chips
It is tricky trying to incorporate the chips while keeping the mixture cool but still sticky. Luckily only a few chips are needed in each ball for the flavor to come through.  The first few balls will no doubt turn out all wrong.  Eventually one gets the hang of taking a loose clump of popcorn, placing it in the small bowl with the chips and then forming it into a ball (while taking special care to stuff a few chips in center for good measure).  It’s not hard and it’s not tedius.  It’s fun, gooey and tasty and perfect for counter-top kids.
Wash hands as needed to avoid the brown popcorn ball look. (White popcorn balls with sporadic chocolate chips just looks better.)
Dark chocolate chips taste better and look better in these.
Some chips that are allowed to melt during forming may turn white in places.  If chips are melting upon contact with the popcorn, allow a little more cooling time before forming.

Store tightly covered 2 days.  Although I doubt they’ll last that long.  They never do.

Food Gifts

  • Jumbo muffin wrapped in plastic wrap and tied with ribbon

Old School Chocolate Chip Muffins (credit to AB)
DRY
2 1/4 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
WET
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup plain whole yogurt
EXTRAS
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Place oven rack at position “C” (3rd from the bottom) and preheat to 375 degrees. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray and set aside.
2. Spin DRY ingredients in food processor and pour into large mixing bowl. Stir in all the EXTRAS.
3. Add eggs to food processor and beat for 10 seconds. Add oil and beat again for another 10 seconds. Add the remaining WET ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour wet ingredients over dry and stir just until blended (don’t over mix).
4. Scoop into muffin cups using a disher or a 1/3-cup measuring cup; cups should be full. Bake 18-20 minutes.
5. Check for doneness using a toothpick, which should come out clean. (OR temp a muffin from its bottom and check for 205-210 degrees).
6. Turn muffins onto their sides to prevent soggy bottoms and cool for 20 minutes.

YIELD 12 standard size muffins
PREP TIME 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME 1 hour
NOTES
Store up to 4 days in an airtight container, or wrap well and freeze for up to 3 months.
Adding the EXTRAS first to the flour mixture coats them and helps to prevent sinking.

Velvet Brownies

2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
3.5 oz (2/3 cup) AP flour
4 oz (1 1/3 cups) cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
7 oz (1 cup) sugar
8 oz (1 cup) brown sugar
3 oz (1 cup) walnuts

  1. Melt butter (microwave approx. 45 seconds) and set aside to cool.
  2. Place oven rack in position “C” and preheat to 350. Prep 8″ square pan and set aside.
  3. In stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip eggs at MEDIUM speed until light in color and texture.
  4. Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt together in food processor. Dump into small mixing bowl and set aside.  Sift sugars together in food processor.
  5. Lower mixer speed to 30 percent and slowly add sugars to eggs. Add remaining ingredients, starting with butter and alternating between wet and dry.  Fold in nuts.
  6. Pour batter into pan and bake 45 minutes. Test doneness using toothpick; toothpick should come out clean.  Place pan on cooling rack and cool completely before cutting.

YIELD 16 2″ brownies
PREP TIME 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME 2 hours
NOTES
Slice using a pizza cutter, cut into quarters then cut the four squares into quarters.