Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Best Chocolate Chip Cookie EVER!

A week or so ago, a friend of mine emailed a link to a New York Times article about making the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Of course I was intrigued and knew I wanted to try out the methods described in the article. For those who don't want to bother with registering in order to read, here are the high points:
  • Use a combination of bread flour and cake flour
  • Let the dough rest in the fridge for 36 hours-this time frame was found best
  • Use chocolate with a minimum of 60% cocao content
  • Make them big (4-5" diameter)-you get to experience all textures (crisp, chewy, soft)
  • Sprinkle sea salt on the cookies right before baking
One of the hardest things for me was to try and figure out when I could do the 36 hour span. I also knew I didn't want to let DH in on my experiment so I could get an honest opinion. The article recommended certain brands of chocolate but I ended up purchasing some El Rey chocolate discs from Whole Foods.

I successfully mixed up the batter, covered it with plastic wrap and stuck it in the back of the fridge. 36 hours later ended up being 9:30 p.m. and although DH looked at me funny when I said I was going to bake some cookies, didn't ask too many questions. When he finally got to taste one, it was worth the wait. He declared it to be the best chocolate chip cookie he'd ever had and asked what I had done differently (other than making them bigger than I normally do). I told him about the article and he confirmed the wait time truly made a difference. We've shared cookies with various family and friends who have also confirmed the over the top goodness.

I think I'll try them with regular chocolate chips next time just to see if they're just as good.

Adapted from Jacques Torres
Source: New York Times

Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour

1 2/3 cups bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)

Sea salt

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.

Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.

Sophie thought the crumbs were delicious too!

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Good Monday

Boy Mondays are much more pleasant when you're not working!

This is a sign I've driven past daily for the last 3 1/2 years not too far from where I live. Today I decided to check out the "lake."

I was pleasantly surprised! Nestled in a nearby community (around 2 miles from my house) is a park which includes a "lake" along with a big field and nice playground. There's even a path to walk around the lake. I was thrilled! It's not Minnesota (Land of 10,000 Lakes), but it sure is nice to get a taste of nature so close to my house. I will definitely be visiting my "lake" more frequently!

I even met a woman-happened to also be from MN walking her dog, Bear. She says she goes nearly every day, it's very safe and at dusk can often see deer while you're walking. They also stock the lake with fish so people are often fishing off the dock.

I am also thrilled at the growing of my banana peppers. I'm hoping to have enough to make a jar of pickled banana peppers soon. My jalapenos have not done so well this summer though. Next year I want to grow even more banana peppers and may look into planting them and possibly some cucumbers for the Fall growing season.

Finally, here's a progress picture of my Clapotis. I made it wider than the pattern called for and am also planning on making it longer..we'll see yarn wise though. If you look carefully (and click to enlarge), you can see two columns of dropped stitches-love row 8 -on the right. I'm hoping to get it done before school starts.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Everlasting Bagstopper

I finished the Everlasting Bagstopper a week or so ago but finally got a chance to try it out yesterday at the Farmer's Market.

Sorry about the bad picture. It was the only one that turned out with the items in the bag. Of course Sophie had to check out what I was doing.

It was comfortable to use, but it really did stretch out. Check out the bag after one use:

Now compare the length after I machine washed/dried it yesterday:

Overall I am happy with the project and know I will get much use out of it! Probably won't be knitting with hemp for awhile though.

Project Details:
Pattern: Everlasting Bagstopper
Yarn: Hemp for Knitting-Allhemp6 (Aubergine 027)
Needles: Knit Pick Options US 5, US 10 1/2
  • The hemp yarn sucked the big one while knitting but really softened up after a wash.
  • I used the linen stitch (11 sts wide) for the strap and the three needle bind off-which is suppose to be sturdier and not stretch as much, but it still stretched out a bit.
  • Make 2 shorter straps rather than the one longer one.
  • Make the bag smaller
  • I'd also throw in a contrast color along the way. It got boring to knit in the same color with a yarn that was killing my fingers.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Day Trippin'

A few days ago, my best friend Diane and I took a jaunt out to Boerne, TX to check out Rosewood Yarns and Ewe & Eye. Our first stop was to Ewe & Eye where I picked up some Alpaca Sox yarn.

Then we just parked the car and walked the main drag and visited many shops. I added to my blue/white enamel collection from a thrift store.

Of course being the pickle lover I am, was stopped in my tracks with this sign.

I naturally purchased some of the famous Fickle Pickles, and a jar of the marinade.

I also decided to start a sheep collection. So far I have two, here's the newest addition-bought her at The Christmas Shoppe.
We also hoofed it to Rosewood Yarns where I added to my knitting book stash.
We finished our day with a delicious lunch at The Boerne Grill and with dessert from a local bakery or two.

Yarn, pickles, sheep and sweets-who could ask for more?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

S. E. X. in a Pan

Is it weird I got this recipe from my mom? When she mentioned it to me-and sang its praises- I just had to try it! The given recipe is for a 9 X 13 pan.

S. E. X. in a Pan

3/4 cup of chopped pecans
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of butter at room temp
1 cup of sugar (or Splenda mix)
32 oz of Lite Cool Whip
8 oz of lite cream cheese at room temp
1 big box of instant sugar free vanilla pudding
1 big box of instant sugar free chocolate pudding
3 cups of skim milk
grated semi-sweet chocolate

1. Mix butter, flour & nuts until crumbly. Pat into 9 X 13 Pyrex dish. Bake in a 325 oven for 25 minutes. Cool.
2. Whip cream cheese & sugar until smooth. Fold in 1/2 of Cool Whip into mixture. Spread over cooled crust. Chill until set.

3. Mix vanilla pudding with 1 1/2 cups of milk & spread over cheese layer. Chill until set.

4. Mix chocolate pudding with 1 1/2 cups of milk & spread over vanilla layer.

5. Smooth rest of Cool Whip over top. Sprinkle with grated chocolate & chill. Can be frozen

  • This was soooo good! I used all the light/sugar free ingredients mentioned (except I used real sugar and 1 % milk) and DH didn't know the difference-whatever you do don't tell him either!
  • I modified the ingredients to make it into an 8X8 pan. I made 2/3 of the crust, halved the cream cheese, more than halved the amount of Cool Whip (Mom said she would have reduced it too) and still used the big box of puddings and all of the nuts. Use more or less of whatever suits your tastes.