Chocolate Chip Cookie Craziness: One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you bake with kids, you know the deep pain of a child waiting for butter to soften. It takes FOREVER–especially in the cooler months when you really want to be baking cookies. I feel your pain and this recipe is here to rescue us both. It has just the basic ingredients and–to make it EXTRA easy–it uses butter softened in the microwave. And, if that wasn’t enough to tempt you–it also only takes one bowl.

After you soften your butter in the microwave, you hand mix the sugars in, followed by the rest of the ingredients. The softened butter makes it easy to get everything combined without having to lug out a heavy stand mixer. Add in the chocolate chips at the end and you are ready to bake!

As I always do, I use a cookie disher to portion my cookies. My favorite for cookies with chocolate chips or other chunky stuff is the 1.5 Tablespoon size.

I baked them until the centers were just set and non glossy. I like a nice chewy cookie and, much like eggs, if you bake them until they are done in the oven, they’ll be overcooked when you want to eat them.

In my continuing adventures in freezing, I froze about half of my dough by plopping it onto a sheet of parchment paper and shaping it into a log with my pastry scraper: Then I wrapped the parchment log into cling film and put it in the freezer. I’m hoping for easy slice and bakes in my future!

In the end, these cookies are pure classic perfection. Simple ingredients, lots of chocolate chips, and a buttery softness to the dough. Since the butter and sugar weren’t creamed together, these cookies stayed nice and dense and decidedly cookie-ish rather than any cakey qualities. I don’t know if this cookie could really be improved on.

One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
generous 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
One bag (10-11 oz) of chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Put the butter in a large (microwave safe) bowl. Heat the butter in small increments (10 seconds or so), stirring in between each. You want the butter to be nicely softened but not melted or runny. Add the sugars and vigorously stir them into the butter until well blended. Stir in the egg, vanilla, salt, and baking soda thoroughly. Add the flour and stir until just combined. Then fold in the chips.

If the dough is very soft, you can add a few more tablespoons of flour to stiffen it up (or just put it in the fridge for a few minutes while you clean up).

Use a disher to portion the cookies onto the sheet pans and bake until set (start checking at 8-10 minutes but use your own discretion based on the size of cookies you end up with).

Battle Pizza Crust: Beer Crust Part 2

Straight from the freezer–to my piehole!

When I originally made the Beer Crust Pizza, I froze half of the dough since one pizza is really plenty for us.

After a week or so of waiting in there, I pulled it out in the morning and let it thaw in the fridge for dinner that day. It thawed easily and was, as most pizza crusts are after being frozen and thawed, a little wetter/stickier than it was when it was fresh. It was a little more difficult to shape given the stickiness. I ended up stretching it on the sheet pan rather than my usual in the air using my knuckles method.

You’d never know there was any difference in the feel of the dough after it baked up–crispy on the bottom and super flavorful with the beer and Parmesan cheese in the dough. It is the kind of crust that has enough going on that I–a naked crust hater–ate them up!

Next time I make a batch of this, I may try a double batch so I have three portions in the freezer. It seriously is faster than making a frozen pizza and much more delicious!

Butterscotch Swirl Cake

 

If you are from Michigan–at least the Detroit area–you’ve no doubt heard of Sander’s Candy. It is, without a doubt, the best hot fudge IN THE WORLD. In addition to their amazing sundae toppings, they also bake coffee cakes. Legend says (actually, my Mom told me) that they used to have an amazing butterscotch coffee cake that my grandfather loved. While I never had it, I’m determined to bake a great butterscotch cake for her. After some googling, I decided upon the Butterscotch Swirl Cake from the Galley Gourmet, a new to me food blog.

 

This is an upside down cake with a glaze that covers the bottom of the pan before you assemble the cake on top. The glaze and dough both came together very easily and I was ready to assemble!

 

I found assembly a little difficult but something that would probably be much better the second time I made it. I ended up cutting my long strips into shorter strips to make it easier. I was a little doubtful that the dough would proof enough to fill the cake pan but it did.

 

It baked beautifully but LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES. Put this pan on a rimmed sheet pan to go into the oven or the glaze mixture will spill over the pan and smoke up your oven!

After baking, I set to the most difficult part of the cake: turning it out onto a platter. This was….not pleasant. My cake ended up sticking in a few places and a good chunk of it needed to be reassembled.

 

So how did it turn out? The cake and glaze had that amazing butterscotch flavor I was after: sugary, buttery, and deeply golden brown. Now–the downsides. The glaze over-hardened on me. Instead of being a glaze, it was more of a..shell? I wanted something more like a frosting/soft glaze (think cinnamon roll icing) but the glaze in this recipe almost turned to crumbly candy on the edges. Even with my problems, I am going to make this again with a few changes: I’ll keep the cake as is because it is both beautiful and delicious. I’ll make the same glaze but, instead of baking it on the bottom of the cake pan, I’ll simply pour it over the cake when it comes out of the oven. I may add some brown sugar to the filling as well.

Molasses Spice Cookies

 

There are times when I end up making cookies before I even realize I haven’t taken photos of the process. If whatever it is turns out well, I’ll try to remember to add it back to the list of things to make and hopefully take pictures of.

These cookies were too good to wait on though–crispy on the edges, super chewy on the inside. They smelled like Christmastime and were beautifully uniform coming out of the oven. My daughter is pretty picky about non-chocolate items and she had two (and then went back and snatched another from the container when I wasn’t looking). I consider that a success, my friends.

My Mom used to by those archway brand soft molasses cookies that had some type of thin frosting on them. I haven’t had them in ages but I’d love to find a homemade substitute. These were very close–a bit thinner than the store bought version but much more delicious. Anybody know what kind of magic goes into that frosting? Is it just a thin buttercream? I need to do some experimenting, clearly.

I used up about 2/3 of my dough making two sheets of cookies. I ended up prepping the rest of the cookies as sugar-dredged balls and freezing them. If these bake up well from frozen, these could be a staple around these parts.

Molasses Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus 1/3 cup for dredging)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger (I was out of this, so I ground up some crystalized ginger and it was delicious!)
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Cream the sugars and butter in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the eggs one at a time, allowing them to fully incorporate before continuing. Add molasses and the oil.

Mix in the baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, salt and flour gradually. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate to firm up–at least on hour to overnight.

Preheat oven to 325. Use a cookie disher (I used my beloved #50 scoop) to portion the dough directly into the bowl of sugar a few at a time. Roll around in the sugar to fully dredge, then place on a cookie sheet 3 inches apart.

Bake, rotating halfway through just until the cookies are flat and set in the middle. I started checking at about 10 minutes.

These cookies store well but you’ll need to place sheets of parchment between them to prevent them from sticking together.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Craziness: Slice & Bake “In the Chips”

cookie

I’m pretty sure chocolate chips cookies were the first thing I ever baked as a tiny kid. I remember it feeling like a huge all day undertaking with the waiting for the butter to soften, mixing everything together and then waiting for all the cookies to bake and cool. Maybe I’m just more patient these days but cookies seem like an easy thing to whip together with the kids.

mixing1

Stand mixers help, too.

somanychips

I like my chocolate chip cookies soft and chewy with A LOT of chips. Why bother with a cookie that has 2 or three chips? The cookie part is tasty but it is really just a vehicle to get chocolate to my piehole.

readytobake

This is one of my favorite recipes. It is perfectly chewy, makes a good amount of cookies (I love them but I don’t need enough to last a month), and has just the basic ingredients. Its also a very sweet dough which really satisfies my sweet tooth. Even though I love this recipe, it is time to branch out and start another quest for the perfect recipe. Can I improve on perfection? We shall see.

done

This recipe originally comes from a great book on cookies that can be frozen in dough form for instant gratification cookies from the freezer. I’ve tried a few of the recipes and they are excellent though I haven’t actually made it to the freezing stage–they are too good to not all bake up at once! I only made a few slight changes–switching out the instant coffee/water mixture in the recipe for milk being the main one.

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies
Adapted from “In the Chips” from Slice & Bake Cookies by Elinor Klivans

2 cups/255 g bread flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tblsp milk
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2.5 cups of chocolate chips and chunks

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugars in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add milk, vanilla, and eggs (one at a time, mixing until combined). Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Add flour mixture in two parts, slowly mixing until just combined.

Remove from mixer and add chocolate chips by hand.

I used a #40 scoop which yields 24-26 cookies and baked for 13 minutes.

These are nice, soft cookies that would be excellent candidates for mailing!

Buttermilk biscuits: The Smitten Kitchen Recipe

biscuit

After having Alton Brown’s Biscuits a few mornings ago, I was on a biscuit roll. Alton’s recipe came together easily but I wanted to try my hand at an all-butter recipe and Smitten Kitchen came to the rescue.

butter

The batter came together similarly to Alton’s but the butter took longer to incorporate into the flour mixture. I took a little extra insurance against butter meltage by sticking the entire bowl in the freezer while I cleaned up the first set of ingredients and measuring cups. It was probably only 2-3 minutes but it did feel a little firmer and colder when I took it out.

batter

I added the buttermilk and plowed ahead. I still don’t have a “proper” biscuit cutter so I used the same straight-sided glass I used for the Alton recipe. I kind of love the charm of the messy last biscuit made from all the scraps.

last biscuit

In the end, these were delicious. More than delicious–buttery, soft, high-rising, and perfect. I have to admit that I am an all-butter biscuit convert. While the half butter/half shortening was easier to bring together as a batter, the difference in flavor was significant.

baked

I finally broke down and bought some cake flour (sadly, White Lily Flour–the southern staple for biscuits–isn’t available where I live. After we move this month, I’ll stock up from amazon). I can’t wait to try the biscuits with the softer flour.

Smitten Kitchen’s All Butter Biscuits

2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons (10 to 20 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons (125 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400. Combine dry ingredients and work butter in as quickly as possible with your fingers. Stir buttermilk in until just combined. Turn onto a floured surfaced and fold dough back on itself a few times. Pat into a circle 1 inch thick and cut out biscuits. Reform scraps and repeat.

I placed mine shoulder to shoulder on the pan so they could lend each other support while baking. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until golden, turning pan halfway if needed.

These are best fresh from the oven (and then to snack on the rest throughout the day. I had one leftover for breakfast the next day and it had dried significantly.

Buttermilk Biscuits: The Alton Brown Recipe

biscuits

I remember my first biscuit. I was around 15 and was working at that amazing icon of fine southern fare: McDonalds. It is really no wonder that I thought biscuits were pretty terrible, right?

dough

Thankfully, I’ve come around to appreciate the southern biscuit. They are so different than the flaky, buttery biscuits I grew up eating and they are also so much more versatile: breakfast, dinner, snack. They can do it all. I made this batch and left it on the counter where we all snacked on them throughout the day.

cutting

I’m certainly no expert on biscuits but I’m working on it. I am starting here with Alton Brown’s recipe. I’ll admit that I didn’t use the White Lily Flour that he talked about on the biscuit episode but I will next time. Mine were clearly flatter than his and I’m guessing the flour makes a substantial difference. I just hated to buy yet another bag of flour so close to an across the country move.

12

Alton Brown’s Biscuits

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don’t want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.

Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting. (Biscuits from the second pass will not be quite as light as those from the first, but hey, that’s life.)

Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

baked

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

slice

My Grandmother had many fine qualities–she was an artist, a great card player and all around amazing lady. She was not, however, a terribly good cook. My childhood food memories from stays at her house feature her amazingly dry turkey, drinking ginger ale (Canada Dry ONLY) and eating butter cookies while playing cards, and cinnamon swirl toast for breakfast. These days, I seem to be the only person who tries to buy cinnamon swirl bread in the store because every time I buy a loaf, it is hard, dry, and so close to stale it isn’t even enjoyable. That is no way to relive a childhood memory, so I do what a baker does–set out to find the perfect swirl loaf.

First candidate: Walter Sand’s White Bread from King Arthur Flour. I omitted the raisins because I don’t hate myself. If you do insist on raisins…well…that’s between you and your loaf. Mine remains raisin free.

helper

The dough came together beautifully. I didn’t bother breaking out the stand mixer since I wanted to knead this loaf by hand with my ever-present kitchen helper.

spread

I made one a plain white bread loaf and the other half of the dough into the swirl bread. I wish I had made more of the spread and rolled the dough out longer so there would be more layers to the swirl with more filling. More cinnamon and brown sugar=better for everyone.

Another rise and then a trip through the oven and the loaves were perfect!

loaves

I stored the loaves in some larger ziplocks and they are still fresh-ish three days later. I think today may be the last day for them though but they are nearly gone anyway!

This makes a soft, fluffy white bread–perfect for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but I think there needs to be more fat in the dough to make a really great cinnamon swirl bread. Next time I make this, I’ll make both loaves plain and either gift one to a friend or try freezing it FOR SCIENCE!

Pizza Pasta Bake

baked pasta

I love making meals from scratch but, lets be honest, sometimes….it just isn’t going to happen. We’ve had a really busy few weeks here in Chez Piehole and we needed some comfort food, stat.

I originally had this dish at a restaurant in the mall I used to frequent with a friend of mine in my angsty-mall-shopping teenage years. Between the trips to Bath and Bodyworks and the bookstore, my friend Katy and I always stopped at the American Cafe (creatively named, no?) and had this pasta dish. The restaurant is long gone but I still make this at home occasionally when we need something easy that will give us some leftovers.

pasta

Undercook a little bit of pasta (by 45 seconds or so), mix with a jar of pasta sauce of your choice in a 9×13 baking dish. If you are feeling FANCEE, you can add some herbs to the mix. I used oregano, thyme, and basil from the garden.

pepperoni

Cover that with a layer of pepperoni. Try to make a pretty solid sheet so your cheese doesn’t melt into your sauce. You want a nice melty cheesey layer like you have on lasagna.

cheese

Cover with some mozzarella cheese. Ok, a lot of mozzarella cheese. This isn’t even healthy to start with, so you might as well make even more enjoyable.

Now, you can get creative. What do you like on pizza? Olives? Peppers? Put it here. I usually do artichoke hearts and green peppers but I was going for ease and speed last night.

Bake! 400ish for….20 minutes? Until it looks like this:

finished

Oh yes. Baked pasta. Let it cool for about five minutes and serve it up like you would lasagna. Cut into squares and then serve up as nicely as you can. Bonus points for adding some additional fresh basil on top.