Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Easy Baking

Easy Bake Set-Up Still Life
Power tools are necessary when you cannot find a single normal screwdriver in your house

Playing with my Easy Bake Oven today!

The reasons are simple: I promised Mother Humble I would blog about her oh-so-hilarious gift and I am running low on essential baking ingredients. I'm nearly over the whole spider-episode I spoke of yesterday, so hopefully I'll be out of the house and restocking the Humble Household with necessary ingredients soon.

So today we're tackling my childhood dream of Easy Bake layer cakes. Equipped with cake mix, oven, light-bulb and power-tools we're making the twice branded Easy Bake Betty Crocker Party Cake. Complete with party-inducing sprinkles in the batter.

Let's start with the prep...

Yea, that's parchment

What?! The parchment cake rounds for easy bake pans shouldn't surprise you. If I had tiny insulated baking strips I would use those too.

Parchment is a necessary insurance policy against light-bulb bonded cake batter and the horror of trying to frost a pile of jagged cake chunks. Parchment is what really makes baking easy.

Eight year-old's would use parchment too, they just don't know they need it yet.

Delicious Cake powder! Hungry yet?

Now we have the cake mix. Just add water! Two teaspoons to be exact. Does cake get any easier than that?

When is Nasbro going to make a Genoise mix for me?

So I add my water... and it looks like cake paste.

Lucky for me, the recipe provides some instructions"
"If the batter seems dry, add water one drop at a time until it is the consistency of cake batter."
Oh well that's no problem. Cake batter only has one consistency, right? I just add a random amount of water to the mix, until it achieves a consistency Nasbro thinks that I would think it should look like. Crystal clear.

Now I understand the "results may vary" warning on the package.

So I add some more water, about a teaspoon, and pour my batter into my pan. Now we're ready to easy bake. So I push the pan into the oven, using my burns-are-bad safety-stick and wait the prescribed 10 minutes. Then I shove my safety-stick into the slot again and push the cake into the "cooling area".

Unfortunately the trip through the easy bake contraption resulted in the top of the cake being sheared off my the same flaps that prevent me from sticking my arm into the device.

Boo! Not only does the device curtail my compulsive desire to touch dangerous things, it mangles my cake.

Maybe they need to make the opening taller? Or maybe my cake is just too fluffy and perfect? Perhaps I am just that good. I'm a easy bake master!

Maybe not.

Okay, so I messed up the frosting. How does one mess up a just-add-water frosting?

You add too much water.

Apparently Ms. Humble cannot read. Something you may believe, given the rather slapdash proof-reading work I do on the blog. Still, I could have sworn the "recipe" called for 1 1/2 teaspoons per package, but apparently it is just a 1/2 teaspoon. Whoops.

So I resuscitate my over-hydrated frosting dust with some powdered sugar and whipped it into something I could slather my cakes with.

This was a tough cake to frost. So delicate I really couldn't do a proper crumb coat or frosting application. So I just gently daubed on the frosting. It suppose it looks respectable enough, given the tools I'm working with.

Speaking of tools... am I supposed to cut with this? This bizarre Lilliputian, blade-less knife? Forget about it. Someone get me my Global!

Though I'm all for the mini cake server. I need this.

So how does it taste?

This is not a great cake. Ms. Humble's inner child is a little disappointed.

Something about the cake's texture is off. It seems spongy. However the real problem is the taste and aroma. The cake has this odd, lingering flavor. Like a combination of powdered gelatin and the water leftover from poaching eggs.

Pass. Maybe the cookie mixes are better?

Or maybe I should stick to baking cakes the old fashioned way.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pecan Dulce de Leche Cookies

Happy Monday folks!

Sorry for the rather scant posting late last week. We've been preparing the house for another visit from Mother Humble and this time she's bringing friends with her. So we've been working hard to make sure the place is presentable. Even going so far as organizing the pantry and garage.

The pantry was a bit more fun than the garage. I got to go nuts with Italian canning jars. While putting the garage in order, the spiders went nuts on me.

I spent the weekend recovering from a spider bite. Fever, chills, nausea, aches and so much more! It was loads of fun! Rather than getting things done--like grocery shopping--I spent the weekend in a delusional state, thinking that in addition to every blanket in the house, I should cover myself with printer paper to keep warm.

So Monday rolls around and I'm feeling a little better and I hit my pantry, only to discover I have a single egg to bake with. One egg.

That really limits a gal's baking options, so we're doing pecan butter cookies today.

Pecan Dulce de Leche Cookies
adapted from In the Sweet Kitchen
yields roughly 25 2" sandwiches
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup rice flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped pecans

dulce de leche
for sandwiching

In your food processor, combine the flour, rice flour, sugar and salt. Give it a quick whirl to combine. Add the butter cubes and vanilla and process until it begins to lose the fine crumbly texture and come together. Then add the pecans and mix. The less you blend the better. If you pinch the dough and it holds together, it is ready.

Pour the crumbly dough out onto a piece of parchment paper and cover it with a second sheet. Roll out the dough between the parchment to 1/4" thick. Cut out your cookies and transfer them to baking sheets lined with parchment. Place the sheets in the freezer for 10 minutes until firm and then bake at 325 for 12-15 minutes.

Once the cookies are firm and the edges just beginning to take on some color, remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Sandwich the cookies with a little dulce de leche and serve.

For folks not wishing to bother with the caramel, the sandy pecan butter cookies are equally delicious without.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Treacle Tart

Back in my kitchen today.

I was planning on cooking with my little Easy Bake Oven, only to discover it doesn't come with a light-bulb to cook with! So I dig around my home trying to find a incandescent light-bulb only to realize I've been thwarted by my own environmental consciousness.

Blasted compact florescent bulbs! Curse you for denying me mini Funfetti cakes coated in frosting made from powder!

So I swallowed my disappointment and decided I would cook in my real oven.

Today we're making a treacle tart, a classic English treat. A dessert I have never actually tasted.

Now usually, when I cook on the blog I have some familiarity with what I'm making. That way I have some idea of how it should turn out. However with this dessert, I'm embarrassed to admit that my only familiarity with it is through Harry Potter (not exactly a prime culinary reference) and a chance encounter with the cooler case at Waitrose. So I hit up my blogger friend and Englishman, Mr. P for help. He advised me that if I wanted to be traditional, I should avoid recipes where the filling has been softened with cream or eggs, and so I have.

If you're comfortable with making pie crusts, you'll find this tart very simple and easy to make. The tart is filled with a mixture of breadcrumbs, treacle and a bit of lemon and/or ginger. The filling is... different. Firm and sweet, with the flavors of slightly caramelized sugar and brightened with the lemon and ginger.

Served warm or cold, it is best with a creamy accompaniment. Serve it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, clotted cream or my favorite, gobs of lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Treacle Tart

yields one 9" tart, serves 6-8


150g all purpose flour
113g cold unsalted butter, cubed
pinch salt
5-6 tablespoons ice cold water


235g golden syrup*
215g fresh white breadcrumbs*
zest of a large lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tsp ground ginger

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of water

*Note on the ingredients: Fresh breadcrumbs are not the same as those dry powdery breadcrumbs in a can. To make fresh breadcrumbs, use any slightly stale white bread you can find. Remove the crusts, toss into a food processor and pulse until light and fluffy. If your bread is too fresh, it may not work well in your machine, becoming dense and gummy. To turn fresh bread into crumbs, place the bread in a warm oven until slightly crusty, before processing.

If you lack a food processor, grate chunks of slightly stale bread with a box grater.

Golden Syrup is widely available, however in many parts of the United States it can be difficult to find. Many large grocery chains do carry small tins of Lyle's Golden Syrup either with the pancake syrups or on the baking aisle. You can also order it online from Amazon's Grocery & Gourmet Food.

In the bowl of your food processor, combine the flour, cubed butter and salt. Pulse until the bits of butter are a tad smaller than peas. Pulse in the water, adding a little at a time. Use just enough water to bind the dough.

Gather up the crumbs and form a ball, then wrap in plastic. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 375°F. Add the golden syrup to a medium sauce pan and place over medium-low heat. Swirl the syrup until it is warm and fluid. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Set aside and work on the crust.

Roll out 2/3rds of the dough and drape it over your tart pan. Roll out the remaining third of the dough into a rectangular sheet and then cut ribbons from it with either a knife or a fluted ravioli cutter.

Fill the tart with the breadcrumbs mixture and smooth.

Drape the strips over the tart to form a lattice (for a handy how-to click here)

Go around the edge of the pan pressing against the edge to trim off the extra crust and seal together the crust and lattice.

Lightly beat the egg and one teaspoon of water. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and then bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

Now, I'm not sure how this tart holds up against other treacle tarts (though there really isn't much variation between recipes), tarts made by folks who know what they're doing. So I can't say if this tart is representational, but I'm really not head over heels in love with it. It is certainly edible, but it is a little on the dull side. The Little Humble doesn't seem to agree with me and is gobbling down hunks of it as I type, but I keep trying to think of things I could do to liven up the flavor and the texture.

Now I'm off to find a light bulb!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Birthday Giveaway!

Happy Monday everyone!

Today Ms. Humble turns thirty.

That's right, it's my birthday and I'm absolutely not baking a cake today. I'm just going to eat it. Lots of cake to celebrate my inexorable march towards death. Woo!

It is a princess cake, if you're curious. My absolute favorite.

So before I get out on my thrilling birthday errands (like going to the DMV to renew my drivers license, ugh) I'm going to do a quick post. A birthday giveaway!

CSN contacted me, asking if I would like to do another giveaway or review. So I have yet another $150 certificate to spend as I please and once again, I'm going to give it away to my readers since, based on the last giveaway, you guys need A LOT of stuff.

So a $150 gift certificate! For the winner to spend as they please. I will note once again that the certificate doesn't cover shipping costs but most of the stuff on CSN has or qualifies for free shipping anyway.

We're going to do basically the same thing I did last time. For fun I'm going to ask you: What would you buy with $150? CSN.com stocks just about everything you might need for the full life cycle of your cooking. Everything from a simple silicon spatulas to a full dining room set to serve it in.

So, what do you need for your baking projects?

So think about what you would like to win and leave a comment below including:
  • Your email address (you're welcome to obfuscate it to avoid spammers, just include it. Please. )
  • What sort of baking/cooking from their housewares store that you really want or need. A copper bowl, a fancy french oven, some new knives or that huge dining room set?
  • If you follow my blog, or start following my blog, I'll enter your name twice into the drawing. That would be the little Follow link on the right with the 2000+ other folks. You'll be in good company, don't worry. If you also follow/like on Facebook I'll enter you three times. Just be sure to mention this when you enter (To be fair, I will be verifying that the winner was entitled to however many entries they got).
  • If you can't comment (due to technical issues, etc), email me. I received a few entries via email for the last giveaway and I did count them--even if I didn't find the time to reply--and I will count them this time too.

This time I'm going to open the giveaway to ALL of my readers. Even those of you who live in countries far, far away. Countries that CSN doesn't ship to. I'm willing to act as middle man and ship it to you free of charge.

For my readers outside of the U.S. and Canada: Since shipping packages internationally can get ridiculously expensive (often costing more than the contents of the package, as I've learned shipping things to my mother in the U.K.) I'm going to put a few limitations on this. I hope my international readers understand.
  • You have $100 to spend as you see fit at any of CSN's stores (I'll cover any costs of shipping to my home) we'll coordinate all this via email.
  • The item(s) you choose MUST fit into a 12" x 12" x 5.5" box and be under 20lbs. This should be easy to do as CSN generally lists the weight and dimensions of its items.
  • You are responsible for any duties, fees or other customs requirements that your government imposes.
  • I will cover the cost of shipping and insurance (if available), etc.
  • While I will do what I can with the shipper to prevent/fix it, I am not responsible if the package is lost, stolen, opened, damaged or eaten by monsters while in transit.

Sound good? Okay!

As for my birthday. I got everything I wanted. Ms. Humble finally, FINALLY got her Easy Bake Oven from Mother Humble. Very funny, Mom.

Thanks. That frosting gun-pen thing is ridiculous. I'm going to bake with this and post it to the blog. I know you're all itching for some hot and fresh lightbulb baked treats.

I also was given a Sous Vide. I know, crazy right? Looks like I have a new kitchen gadget to play with.

Back to the giveaway. You're all welcome to enter anytime between now and 9am PST on July 26th. I'll hold the drawing and announce the lucky winner next week.

Ms. Humble

Thursday, July 15, 2010

S'mores Candy Bars

Chocolate again today! In fact, we're making candy bars at the Humble household.

Over the last year I've noticed an increasing number of custom candy bars being offered online. Candy makers have finally put a choke hold on chocolate lovers by offering to craft their ultimate, personal chocolate bar. Who can resist that?

Chocolate, any way YOU want it. To think, for so many years I raged at the world for denying my cravings for chocolate with chili and gummy bears. Now the retail market is finally reaching out to me and my bizarre cravings.

Of course, making personalized chocolate bars is something that we've had the ability to do for ages. It doesn't require a lot of specialized equipment, just a little time, a lot of chocolate and a dash of know-how.

Really, the only tool you will need is a chocolate bar mold. I have a single large break-apart chocolate bar mold that I use for my candy-bar making. They're cheap--a couple dollars--and will give your candy a nice professional look.

**A warning though, owning a chocolate mold may turn you into Willy Wonka--only crazier. Yes, that IS possible--and you may start inventing candy bars that only a mother could love.**

Occasionally though, you'll hit on something that has a little appeal… like a s'mores candy bar.

S'mores Chocolate Bars
this should yield 2-3 bars, depending on your mold's dimensions
1/2 pound milk chocolate
1 jar marshmallow fluff
dozen graham crackers

Special tools:
chocolate bar mold
kitchen torch (optional)

The first thing you need to do when making candy bars is temper the chocolate. This is where the science comes in. When you buy a good quality bar of chocolate or a molded chocolate from a candy shop you'll notice it has a nice hard, glossy finish and will break with a clean snap. Tempering is the process that creates this finish. Without it, you'll have a whole host of problems: The chocolate may never set up at room temperature. It may become hard but will look dull and blotchy. You can have blooms of fats and sugar on the surface of the candy. Worst of all, the chocolate might not pop out of your mold.

That's bad.

To prevent this you need to coax the cocoa fats into a specific structure that stabilizes the chocolate. This is done by regulating the chocolate's temperature and rather than write endlessly on how to do this, I'm going to post a video and then go do some laundry. Blogger cop-out for sure, but hey... I don't have any clean towels.

Tempering Chocolate (In the Microwave) with Jacques Torres

Thank you Jacques!

So, once you have your bowl of tempered chocolate you're ready to start candy making. The easiest method of making custom candy bars is to fill the mold 3/4's full and then poke any dried fruits, nuts, confections, cookies, cereals etc into the wet chocolate and allow to set.

So if this method of making the candy bars seems a little overwhelming or bothersome, you can still jab mini marshmallows and graham cracker chunks into the chocolate to make a simplified version of this candy bar.

Now onto making this S'mores Candy bar:

Ladle in the tempered chocolate and fill the mold. Grab a chef knife or large spatula (the sort you use to frost cakes) Turn the mold over the bowl and tap the back of the mold with the back of your chef's knife to remove the excess chocolate. This will create a hollow chocolate shell to contain all the s'more goodness. Allow the remaining chocolate in the mold to set until firm and glossy.

Fun with fire!

Meanwhile, spoon your marshmallow cream onto a plate or bowl and grab your kitchen torch. Toast the surface of the cream and then stir. Repeat several times until the cream has the flavor of toasted marshmallow. (You should be able to get the same effect using your oven's broiler, just watch it carefully.)

Allow the marshmallow cream to cool completely before the next step.

Spread a layer of cream into your set chocolate mold. Press a single layer of graham crackers down onto the cream.

Pour a layer of tempered chocolate on top to seal the candy bar. Tap the bar on the counter to release any air bubbles and then scrape off the excess with the back of a chef's knife.

Allow the chocolate to set completely before un-molding. Breaking and eating.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ottolenghi's Chocolate Fudge Cake

I'm rushing today. My hack job photography will be testament of that.

I've had a busy day cleaning, baking and as I often do in the summer when school is out, babysitting (word gets around that you're a stay-at-home mom and willing to watch kids occasionally). Once I post this I'm going to change out of my chocolate splattered clothing, drop off little Humble at her Grandfathers and go volunteer. Woo! Eventually I'm going to crash and burn on this schedule but so far it has been fun.

So, food... Lately I've been testing and tweaking a lot of recipes, in addition to my blogging. Today it was Lemon Meringue. One of my ultimate baking quests is for the perfect lemon meringue pie. I love this pie and I've been making it since I was a tween and still, I can't seem to settle on a recipe.

I can do a mean crust and meringue, it is just that filling that is so pesky. I want to be able to cut it cleanly (not slump or weep) and yet still have a nice acidity. Which is the trouble, as the more lemon juice you use the more likely your thickeners are going to struggle to maintain the structural integrity of the pie. Pesky baking chemistry! So frustrating.

Today's post isn't about lemon meringue pie though. I'm just posting my pie because it's gorgeous (and tasty, just not OCD perfect). Today's post is all about chocolate.

So one of the souvenirs I brought back with me from the UK was a cookbook. I really like picking up cookbooks while in Europe because they always use metric and as un-American as it is to say this, metric is just a better way to cook.

One of the cookbooks I was looking for was Ottolenghi's latest book. Since I've been home, I've cooked from it quite a bit--the spicy meat pie is wonderful--and today we're baking the chocolate fudge cake. It seems that I've developed an obsession with ugly cakes this week, because like the Gâteau Basque Cake, this cake is hideously delicious.

It is hard to describe. It is like a cross between a cake and a baked chocolate mousse or soufflé. One layer is firmer, cake-ier and the other is gooey like brownie batter. It packs a lot of dark chocolate and is probably best reserved for the most of ardent chocoholics.

Ottolenghi's Chocolate Fudge Cake

serves 8-10
240g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
265g dark chocolate (52% cocoa), chopped
95g dark chocolate (70% cocoa), chopped
290g light muscovado sugar
4 tablespoons water
5 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt
cocoa powder for dusting

Preheat your oven to 170°C (350°F).

Butter a 20cm (8") springform pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment.

In a large heat proof bowl, combine the chopped chocolates and butter.

Combine the muscovado sugar and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Pour the boiling syrup over the chocolate and butter and stir until they have melted. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, to the chocolate mixture and then set the bowl aside until the mixture comes to room temperature.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt to a firm but not dry meringue.

Using a rubber spatula, fold a third of the meringue into the chocolate mixture. Once combined, add another third, fold and then fold in the remaining third until just combined.

Pour 2/3rds of the batter into your prepared pan (about 800g, reserving the remaining batter for later) and bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and leave it on a wire rack to cool completely. Flatten the cake with an offset spatula. Don't worry about breaking the surface crust and pour the rest of the batter on top. Level the surface again. Return the cake to the oven and bake for a further 20-25 minutes. When tested with a skewer the cake should have a few moist crumbs clinging to it.

Allow to cool completely in the springform pan before attempting to unmold it. Dust with cocoa powder before serving.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gâteau Basque Cake

Happy Monday!

I apologize for being so lax with my blogging this last week and then late with today's post. It has been so crazy-busy around here. We've been getting the Humble household "organized", which of course requires its top to bottom destruction. That's how everyone organizes, right?

Unfortunately the organized Humble Household phoenix isn't really rising from the ashes, it is sort of coughing a sputtering as it crawls around in a daze. Dragging its soot covered bottom across the carpets.

This place is a mess.

The kitchen is no exception. As I'm trying to cook today, every inch of counter space is taken up by boxes and stacks of… who knows what. I want to pull a diva-card and shout "I can't work like this" but I know that the current state is essentially my fault and besides, there is no one to listen to my whinging save my two year old and Mr. Stinky.

Neither is very sympathetic.

So yes, "organizing" and I also found myself busy with volunteering, there is that. Then there was that heat advisory in Seattle last week and it was far too hot to even think about cranking up the ovens. So yea, I've been a bad blogger of late.

So today we're making a cake based on the Gateau Basque. This is my second attempt to blog about this dessert as I botched the last one. The little Humble decided that she would go mess with the knobs on my oven during its hour long baking process and the results were neither pretty nor edible.

Now gateau basque is a bit hard to describe as there are several different variations (owning to differences in region and individual taste preferences). Typically the dessert involves fruit preserve filling and/or pastry cream baked between layers of pastry. Like… a Poptart, only better.

Not all Gateau Basques are pastry however, a few versions are more cake-like, like the one I am baking today. This version is a bit more difficult than the others. Why? Well, it shouldn't take much imagination to conjure up the failures that can occur when attempting to combine pastry cream and cake batter and bake it into a structurally sound dessert. Still, I adore the idea of baking jam and vanilla cream into a cake. When done right, the flavors and textures meld together a bit during baking, creating a cake with a gooey creamy layer that is different and delicious.

Now admittedly, this isn't the most attractive of cakes. It lacks frosting, icing or even a dusting of powdered sugar. However it really doesn't need any of that frivolity. Once you taste it, you'll understand it needs nothing else. The cake is aromatic with orange juice and zest, creamy with the layer of the vanilla cream and fresh preserves. It is good. This cake was meant to be eaten naked.

The cake, folks. The cake.

Enough rambling, let's get started...

Pastry Cream

1 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine 2 tablespoon of the sugar and 3/4 cup of the milk. Stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves and the milk begins to simmer.

While attending to the milk, whisk together the remaining sugar with the egg yolks in a separate bowl. Add the remaining milk and corn starch and whisk thoroughly. Temper the egg mixture with the hot milk, adding it in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat whisking constantly. Once thick, whisk in the vanilla and then strain through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the cream and set aside to cool completely.

Once the pastry cream is cool you can start the cake batter.

Gâteau Basque
yields 8-10 servings
adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 medium orange
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter

1 cup pastry cream
1/4 cup raspberry preserves (feel free to use cherry, blackberry, etc)

Note: You'll need a professional sized cake pan for this. A 9 inch round with 3 inch sides, lined with parchment. I know high sided cake pans are not the norm in the housewares sections of big box stores, I'm sorry, but they really should be. You can find them online, at specialty baking stores like Sur la Table and restaurant supply outlets. You may also use a 9" springform pan.

Preheat your oven to 325°F and arrange a rack on the lower third of the oven.

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.

Zest and juice the orange (you'll need 1/3 cup of fresh orange juice for the cake) and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl and set aside.

In your stand mixer's bowl, using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on high speed for several minutes until the mixture has doubled in volume. Reduce your mixer's speed to low and add the orange juice and zest and combine.

Add a third of the flour to the egg mixture and beat on medium speed, then add half the melted butter and repeat. Alternating the flour and butter. Mix until just combined.

Immediately pour half of the mixture into your prepared pan. Spoon the pastry cream onto the batter, staying a full inch away from the sides of the pan. spread the jam onto the cream and then pour the remaining batter into the pan, around the outside of the pastry cream and jam and then spread gently with an offset spatula to cover.

Place into the oven and bake for 50-65 minutes. Until firm to the touch and the cake no longer jiggles loosely in the center. I probably pulled my cake out 5 minutes too early as the center sunk a little after it cooled. Unfortunately this is one cake where the toothpick test is of little help.

Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Once cool, turn out onto a plate and remove the parchment. Invert onto a second plate and serve.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! Cookies!

Quick post today, as the little Humble and I are getting ready to go hunt for cars again.

Today I whipped up a big batch of cookies. Chocolate cookies. Serious chocolate cookies. A baking friend of mine gave me this cookie recipe a few months ago. They're absolutely wonderful and luckily, I have permission to share.

They're basically two pounds of chocolate bound together with a bit of butter and flour. Cooked just right, they're moist and fudgy like brownies, laden with bits of chocolate.

How can that be anything but great! Right?

On a quick blog-related note. Once again, I might be deviating a little from my normal blogging schedule this month. On Wednesdays--and possibly Friday's--I'll be setting aside my baking pans and doing some volunteer work. It has been too nice in Seattle to stay in the kitchen all week baking. So, I'm going to get out and be useful to others while the weather is nice. I do hope no one minds too much.

Alright, so let's get down to the chocolate...

Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate! Cookies!
yields 5-6 dozen cookies
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups extra dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I'm using 53% cacao)
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups white chocolate morsels
2/3 cup milk chocolate (or semi-sweet) morsels

Pre-heat your oven to 350°F.

In a double-boiler, melt the pound of bittersweet chocolate. Set it aside to cool, stirring occasionally.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

In your mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the cooled chocolate to the mixture and blend. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure the mixture is uniform.

Add half the flour mixture and combine on low speed, then add the remaining flour and mix until the batter comes together.

Now add the chocolate morsels--feel free to add a couple handfuls of nuts too, if that's your style--and stir them in by hand.

Line a baking sheet with parchment, or silicone baking sheets, and drop spoonfuls of the cookie batter onto the sheet. Give the cookies plenty of room to spread.

Bake the cookies for approximately 10 minutes until puffy and the edges start to crisp. Be careful not to over bake. These cookies should be moist and chewy.

Allow the cookies to cool and firm up on the baking sheet for a few minutes before attempting to move them to a wire rack.

The cookies are best enjoyed slightly warm from the oven. If you're not able to gobble up five dozen cookies fresh from the oven, allow them to cool completely and store in a air tight container for up to a week.
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