Posts Tagged With: chocolate chips

White Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

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With Labor Day on its way out the door and schoolchildren taking its place, classic snacks are on the brain.  Parents in this modern age are determined to nourish their offspring with “healthy snack” – you know, those that crunch like carrots and don’t contain trans fats, packaging, or any other frivolities.

I’m not saying throw away dreams of good calories and vitamins abound…but when I came home from school as the leaves turned brown, I wanted a cookie.  Yes, I was “that kid.”

The chocolate chip cookie dipped in milk is classic and (taking a hint from the many clothing advertisements cropping up this season…) classic never goes out of style. As such, I admit to having cookie brain lately…where at many moments during the day, I crave a cookie.  The presence or absence of a cookie wreaks havoc on emotions – just take a look at cookie monster ! Happiness and sadness hinge upon the presence of one, buttery morsel lying at the bottom of the jar.

Some kind of goodie clearly had to be made…so I landed upon a white chocolate chip pecan cookie. Soft and chewy with a little burst of spice from time to time, these treats are perfect for that 2pm lull when coffee calls and you seek an energy burst.  Or when you get home off the train and can’t yet imagine dinner. Even breakfast (if you throw caution to the wind !) justifies a nibble.

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Now, I’ll admit:  I like white chocolate BUT I use it to appease those who can’t sleep at night after having eaten “real” chocolate…as a result, I stirred in a handful of semi-sweet chips to the recipe at the end…as I don’t have any problem snoozing after cookie consumption.

Whether you suffer from cookie brain or not, this spin on the classic chocolate chip delight is sure to leave you (or your children) grinning.

Ingredients: 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1/2 chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter until light and smooth.  You can do this with an electric mixer or by hand.

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Add the white and brown sugar, whipping until lightened in color and almost pillowy.  Add the eggs one by one, mixing well after each addition.  Don’t worry if your batter adopts a strange texture – this often happens if the eggs are not room temperature.  Their chilly, refrigerated state makes the butter cringe.  It is okay – adding the flour will make everyone get along. Toss in the two teaspoons of vanilla and give the mess a whirl.  Be sure to scrape down the sides from time to time – make sure all the butter is getting incorporated into the batter.

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In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.  I enjoy the snickerdoodle-esque (quite the adjective) quality cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice bring to these cookies.  Makes me feel a little like Remy in Ratatouille.  It offsets the pecan nicely – very much a fall flavor.  If, however, you prefer the more standard flavor profile, you can skip them and no harm will come to the cookies.

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Slowly add the flour mixture in to the batter, being careful not to mix too quickly (or else flour will be everywhere in the kitchen – EVERYWHERE.  Like this). Once combined, stir in the pecans and the chocolate chips.  Taste.  Whatever anyone ever told you about not eating the batter is to be ignored.

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On a baking sheet (which you may or may not line with parchment paper – it’s up to you), drop the cookies by tablespoonful.  I like to shape them into rounds but it’s definitely not an exact science…they will spread out a bit so be sure to leave about an inch to two inches of space between each bit of dough.

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Bake for 10-15 minutes but be sure to use your nose: once you can smell the cookies, chances are good that they are done. I prefer soft bites but if you like crispy cookies, by all means cook them longer.

Once out of the oven, remove them from the baking sheet and let them cool on a wire rack…but remember – warm, just-out-of-the-oven cookies are the best, so you should probably eat one or two.  With some milk.  Just a “serving suggestion”. 🙂

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As for the rest, save them for snacking and relieving cookie brain symptoms !  Bon appétit !

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Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Well, it happened.  I’m a senior, wading through my final year of university, and joys of syllabus week are, alas, but wee specks in the my rearview mirror.  Homework, late nights, and crunchy leaves pretty much mean that I should be  putting “ma main à la pâte” in a figurative sense…however all I seem to do is literally put my hand to the dough and whip up the fall classic – chocolate chip cookies.

I think I learned how to cook making these cookies.  My mom would let me measure the chocolate chips.  Well, I don’t know if she let me, or if I just did it…because let’s face it, who doesn’t want to sample those delicious morsels of cacao bean delight ?  Also, a five-year-old can’t really mess up that part of the cookie making…unless she eats too many chips…whoops.

Once I’d mastered that, I could  pack down the brown sugar…add the white sugar…even (eventually) measuring out enough flour (“Liz, fill it to the top of the P” – we had Pyrex 2-cup measuring cups, and I suppose the top of the P was approximately 2 1/4 cups of flour…) for the recipe.  We had (and still have) this rickety metal stepladder on which I’d place the ingredients I’d measured…and then I’d (of course) climb on it to watch all the ingredients go swirling, whirling, twirling around in the MixMaster (Kitchenaid, for those those versed in proper kitchen vocab).  The best part came when I could sample the dough.

I don’t think anything tops cookie dough batter.  I always wanted to just nibble it raw…but mom would chide, “No Liz !  There are raw eggs in there !  You could get sick !”

She is probably right, but when I make it all on my lonesome, I’m not going to lie, I take a hearty nibble-nom-nom out of whatever “pâte” I’ve put my “main” in.

This recipe is a little bit different than your back-of-the-chocolate-chip-bag variation BUT I think it’s the secret to the perfectly balanced SUPERCOOKIE : add molasses.  It sounds surprising, however the molasses renders the cookie soft and “nuanced,” to borrow some wine-bottle diction.  Just trust me, expert choco-chip cookie master since the age of 5.  Get out of class, whip these up, and forget about your application woes while munching on this old-school afternoon snack.  🙂

Ingredients :

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (only add if using unsalted butter)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter; softened
1 cup brown sugar; packed
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 bag (12 oz approx.) chocolate chips (you can feel this one out – if you want less, just add bit by bit)

Start by creaming the butter in a large mixing bowl.  If you have an electric mixer, go ahead and fire it up.  If not, get ready to whisk like it’s your job.  You want to make sure the butter is nice and uniform so that the sugar will mix in evenly.  Also, the softening of the butter allows more sugar/ingredients to “dissolve” into the fat, making for a smoother, creamier batter.  (“Liz, soften the butter” “Mom, how ?”  “In the microwave.”  “Mom, what if I melted some of it…”)

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Fun fact courtesy of the padre: if your butter didn’t get soft enough, wrap a warm towel around the mixing bowl.  This will help the butter to soften – it’s particularly effective with a metal mixing vessel.

When the butter is light and the whisk/beaters make pretty swirly shapes in the mixture, begin to add the brown sugar.  Beat until the mixture lightens in color.  Add the white sugar and the molasses, beating again until lightened in color.  It should look like very grainy buttercream frosting.  Scrape down the side with a spatula, and mix once again.  (“Mom, can I taste it?”  “Liz, it’s just sugar and butter !  You already know what that tastes like !”)

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Add the vanilla to the eggs, dropping them in one by one (“Liz, I never add the eggs one by one, it takes too long. I just throw them in there with the vanilla”) beating after each addition.  You can skip this step, as my mom always does, but I like to beat them in one by one – I get to personally make sure each one gets whipped into shape.

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In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients – flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon – stirring well to incorporate evenly.  Carefully add this to the butter mixture (“Liz, don’t add it so fast !  You’re going to make a mess !”), reducing the mixer speed or using a spatula to combine.  If you go too quickly, the flour will explode in your face and probably make you sneeze.  It’s not worth it.  Take your time AND as an added bonus, play this game :  How little flour/mess can you make in the kitchen ?  It’a really fun game – and worthwhile, too !  Why ?  Because it’s less to clean up later, silly !  Oh, I am brilliant at times.  🙂

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Finally, add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

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Mommmmm, can I taste it now ??”

Yes, yes yes yes.  Take a nice good sample of your cookie dough, for this is, arguably, the best part.

On a large cookie sheet, drop the batter by tablespoons full (“I never bother with spoons, I just sort of eyeball it and use my fingers”) and shape into balls.  I use a big spoon and my fingers and just try to make sure each cookies is approximately the same size.  I really wouldn’t fuss over the size of your balls (“…”) and just have fun plopping misshapen cookie blobs on the baking sheet.  Make sure they are spaced about 2 inches apart from each other, as these cookies like to spread out.

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Cook for about 12 minutes per sheet, or until a nice golden brown.  “Light and gooey and yummy and chewy,” as my sibling and I would chant. We take cookies seriously in this household….and this apt.

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Remove and let cool on a rack (if you can wait that long) or place directly on a plate and devour immediately !

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Happy munching, and bon appétit ! 🙂

Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Muffins

Sometimes, you just have a bad day.
And I mean a terrible day.
Nothing goes right, you’re cranky, irritable, fed-up and frustrated.
So was Monday of this past week…an evening spent ignoring all homework, unable to focus, glued to facebook….

What does any of this have to do with cooking ?

EVERYTHING!

Because had I not been so downright pissed, I wouldn’t have made these muffins which you are about to discover – the best cure for a case of the grumpies : Pumpkin chocolate-chip muffins.  My mom often made this during the month of October (or just in autumn really) as a treat for my sister and I when we got back from school after a rough morning, so I figured they would be my best bet at regaining a little joie de vivre.   These muffins, best served warm, are an excellent compliment to a cup of tea on a chilly afternoon.  The pumpkin is accentuated nicely by a blend of spices, often called “pumpkin pie spice,” consisting of ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.  So – get rid of that awful day ! Roll up your sleeves, grease the muffin tin, and get some cheap (cooking) therapy.

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Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Muffins

1 3/4 cups of flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1 cup of chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Before mixing anything together – make sure to grease the muffin tin. Muffins are funny – unlike cupcakes, they do not have handy little liners to ensure a clean escape from the pan.  As a result, they often stick and refuse removal.  Do yourself a favor – even if you have a nonstick pan, use the wrapper form the stick of butter you are going to melt and just quickly wipe the inside of each cup.  You can also use a nonstick spray, such as Pam, to oil the tin.In one bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt (if desired) and pumpkin pie spice.OH !  A word on that spice mixture.  Pumpkin pie spice can be bought in supermarkets but I rarely have it on hand simply because I like to “personalize” my spice blends.  The spices involved here are CLOVES, CINNAMON, NUTMEG and GINGER and maybe ALLSPICE.  Ground cloves are very strong – a little goes a long way.  Nutmeg is a spice that is used in both sweet AND savory dishes and goes very well with fruits.  Cinnamon is fairly common – I tend to add more cinnamon than called for in a recipe as I find the flavor pleasant.  Ginger is the star of items like gingerbread (surprise) in the baking world and asian cuisine in the cooking world.  Like cloves, it tends to be powerful so again – less is more.   I love cloves and nutmeg, so I am more heavy-handed with these spices in my recipes.  You have been warned.

SO – if you have these lovely additions on hand in your kitchen, add the following amounts to the flour mixture :

2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger

Mix the dry ingredients together so that they are well-incorporated and set this aside.

On the stovetop (on in the microwave…), melt the butter.  Measure out the pumpkin and put this in a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter to the pumpkin, mixing well.  Continually stirring, pour the sugar into the pumpkin mixture, stirring until the mixture has lightened slightly and looks smooth.  To this, add both eggs and vanilla, again stirring until everything is uniform.

Take the dry ingredients and fold them into the wet ingredients, mixing until JUST COMBINED.  The tough bit about muffins is…well…they can get tough.  Literally.  Over-mixing the dough will make for an unpleasantly dense and almost elastic texture that should be avoided.

Add the chocolate chips.  The recipe suggests 1 cup – I say it’s your call.  If you love chocolate, go ahead and add a bit more. If you prefer pumpkin, do not add as many.  Simple.  🙂

Using a spatula, slowly portion out the dough into the muffin cups.  Be careful not to fill each cup to the brim as it will overflow and consequently burn.  Regular muffin pans are a pain to wash…burned ones are a nightmare SO this is to be avoided.  I suggest filling each cup until about 2/3 full.  If you have extra batter (it happens) fill the muffins on the edges, rather than the middle, first.  These will have a tendency to cook faster and therefore if fuller than the muffins on the inside, will not be dry.

Cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until the muffins are springy to the touch.  Allow them to cool for 10 minutes before removing or eating.  If you attempt to take them out right away, they might fall apart.  Better to err on the safe side.  Also – you’ll burn your tongue.  Can’t you hear your mother now ?

Happy nibbling !

Categories: English | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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