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More history, today. And photography. This is my grandmother on the Swedish-ish side. She was ten or twelve* at the time, and much more agile than when I knew her.

This is also me experimenting with photo restoration techniques.

My Twelve-Year Old Grandma

Grandma Dorothea was sweet, literally and figuratively. She did many things well (gardening, bridge, surviving the Great Depression with her sense of humor intact, making grandchildren happy), but above all, she baked. I can still recall the flash of joy on seeing pound cake in her kitchen. Her chocolate mint squares are decadent, melt-in-your-mouth bites of chocolate cake, creamy mint, and dark chocolate glaze.

She wasn’t much of a cook, but (despite the very cryptic notes left on her 3″x5″ recipe cards) she was one hell of a baker.

* * *

Grandma’s Chocolate Mint Squares

Cake Layer

  • 1 cup sugar                  
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 can chocolate syrup (16 oz)
  • 4 eggs beaten              
  • 1 cup flour                  
  • ½ tsp. salt

1.     Mix and bake in 9”x13” greased and floured pan for 30-35 minutes at 350°F.

Mint Layer

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbs. Crème de Menthe
  • ½ cup melted butter

2.     Mix and spread on the cool cake. Chill briefly to set.

Glaze

  • 6 oz. chocolate chips
  • 6 Tbs. butter

3.     Melt over low heat. Cool a bit and spread over mint layer.

4.     Chill until chocolate sets and cut into small(ish) squares.

* * *

* Inquiring minds want to know: at what age does one stop being a whippersnapper?

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My nephew graduates from high school today! Sure, I’ll be celebrating via Zoom, but whatever. This calls for a party, and a party calls for pizza. 

My version is adapted from this award-winning King Arthur recipe:

Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza | King Arthur Baking

The original recipe is very good, but we wanted something a little more traditional. I kept the dough method but modified the rest. I use a standard pizza pan (works very well), stretch the dough out to ~14” and increase the toppings by a factor of roughly two. This way isn’t as fluffy as the original recipe, but there’s more pizza:)

See the original recipe for instructions and helpful pictures. It’s easy but the crust takes a little upfront fiddly time, so I make four times the amount, split the dough after the initial rise, and freeze the extras.

This is our usual, Butter Chicken Pizza. As always, topping ingredients and amounts are flexible.

* * *

Ingredients

Quadruple Batch of Crust

  • 960g All-Purpose Flour, King Arthur if you can get it
  • 17g salt
  • 6.28g instant yeast or active dry yeast
  • 680g lukewarm water
  • 52g olive oil

Toppings for One Pizza

  • 300g mozzarella, grated (about 1 1/4 cups, loosely packed)
  • 200g Butter Chicken or other sauce, tweaked with a little soy sauce and balsamic vinegar
  • 200g cooked chicken, drained and shredded
  • wilted, chopped spinach and mushrooms or other veg, a handful or two
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • olive oil for the pan

Instructions

Crust:

  • Place the flour, salt, yeast, water, and olive oil in a large mixing bowl.
  • Stir everything together to make a shaggy, sticky mass of dough with no dry patches of flour. This should take 1-2 minutes by hand. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to gather the dough into a rough ball; cover the bowl.
  • After 5 minutes, uncover the bowl and reach your wet hand down between the side of the bowl and the dough, as though you were going to lift the dough out. Instead of lifting, stretch the bottom of the dough up and over its top. Repeat three more times, turning the bowl 90° each time.
  • Re-cover the bowl, and after 5 minutes do another fold. Wait 5 minutes and repeat; then another 5 minutes, and do a fourth and final fold. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest, undisturbed, for 40 minutes.
  • Split into four parts of ~425g each. Place into oiled containers (I use oiled takeout dishes.)
  • If using soon, refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours, or up to 72 hours. It’ll rise slowly as it chills, developing flavor; this long rise will also add flexibility to your schedule. (A 72 hour rise will require a largish container.)
  • To save for longer, seal each container in a ziplock bag and freeze. The night before you want to use it, move one batch from the freezer to the fridge.

Assemble:

  • Crust: About 3 hours before you want to serve your pizza, prepare your pan. Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons (18g) olive oil onto pizza pan or cookie sheet. Spread the oil across the bottom.
  • Transfer the dough to the pan and turn it once to coat both sides with the oil. Press the dough to the edges of the pan, dimpling it using the tips of your fingers in the process. The dough may start to resist and shrink back; that’s OK, just cover it and let it rest for about 15 minutes, then repeat the dimpling/pressing. At this point the dough should reach the edges of the pan; if it doesn’t, give it one more 15-minute rest before dimpling/pressing a third and final time.
  • Cover the crust and let rise for ~2-2.5 hours at room temperature.
  • About 30 minutes before baking, place one rack toward the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450°F.
  • Toppings: once the dough is risen, sprinkle about three-quarters of the mozzarella over the entire crust. Spoon a spiral of sauce from the center outward, over the cheese. Laying the cheese down first will prevent the sauce from seeping into the crust and making it soggy. Sprinkle on the chicken, any veg, and remaining mozzarella.
  • Bake the pizza for 20-22 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the bottom and edges of the crust are a rich golden brown (use a spatula to check the bottom). More and/or moister toppings will take longer to cook.
  • Remove the pizza from the oven and slide the pizza onto a cutting board or other heatproof surface. Cut and remove extra slices to a cooling rack to avoid sogginess.

* * *

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Yesterday we made yogurt and pizza. Today I’m baking bread and it’s almost time for lunch, so let’s stick with the food theme.

These are more recollections than recipes, and from a time when I didn’t worry about pesky things like saturated fat or fire codes. My tastes have changed over the years, but I happen to be having macaroni and cheese for lunch today.

* * *

Hard salami

Don’t ask how we came up with this idea but my brother and I decided that fried salami would be a pretty good late-night snack. This was back in the days when we shared a bedroom and were often sent to it before we were sleepy enough to go to bed. Reading in our bunkbeds with matching shelves and lamps, it seemed perfectly natural to want a little something to eat. Hard salami was always high on our list; who doesn’t like the seductive appeal of a food that’s half fat and salty to boot? The McDonald’s empire was built on such foods. We loved it. Our real innovation, though, was to cook the salami so that its texture was similar to that of pepperoni on pizza. The only way to accomplish this in our bedrooms was to fry each slice on our reading lamb light bulbs. The edges curled and the fat melted a bit, making the salami a warm succulent treat. I have no idea why it didn’t all just burst into flames.

Kraft macaroni and cheese

I made this so often that I knew the recipe by heart at age 9. I’d eat it one elbow at a time, sliding a fork tine down into the elbow’s open center and chewing slowly while reading in the La-Z-Boy by the window.

Mushroom and oyster soups

These two brands of Campbell’s soup were my favorites. Something about the rich creamy taste and filling texture made them perfect snacks for a winter’s afternoon. I’ve probably had more than my fair share of sodium and modified food starch, but at the time it was delightful.

Stir fried whatever

Usually I’d pull out whatever was in the fridge and toss it into the wok. First slice up an onion or scallion, some ginger or garlic if available, and stir fry for a minute or so until brown at the edges. Add frozen peas, and other vegetables you may have, cook for another minute, then add cold leftover rice and break an egg over top of it all and stir like mad for another minute, or until egg is thoroughly dry. Add soy sauce and snack.

BLT

When my brother finished his “meat-itarian” phase he was once again willing to accept a bit of green on his plate, at least when chaperoned by large quantities of meat. One result of this broadened perspective was his version of the BLT. It was simple, relying more on size and shock value for impact. I’m not sure anyone makes them quite like my brother. 

Slice half a tomato thickly, grill up half a package of bacon, find a couple of lettuce leaves in the fridge. Slather mustard onto one piece of bread and hot chili paste onto the other. Assemble the sandwich using all ingredients. If you survive a few months of these, you’ll have a cast-iron stomach and cholesterol levels that are through the roof.

Dad’s grilled cheese

The secrets to a great grilled cheese sandwich are lots of butter* and a cast-iron pan. I remember Dad slathering the outsides of two bread slices with butter, filling them with cheese, and then grilling it all until crisp and brown. He’d even cut mine on the diagonal, just the way I like it.

* Note from the future: mayonnaise is even better than butter for crispiness.

Pumpkin seeds

Every fall Halloween would roll around and it would be pumpkin carving time. Some years my designs would be better than others but I always got a kick out of the process. First, spread lots of newspaper on the kitchen table or floor. Then cut around the pumpkin stem with a sharp and sturdy knife until you can pull the top out. Take a big spoon and scrape out all the strange, stringy membranes inside. Spend an inordinate amount of time rinsing these interior scrapings to separate out the seeds. When as done as you can stand, dry and spread the seeds onto a cookie sheet, then bake at 350ºF for a few minutes until golden brown and crunchy. Salt liberally and enjoy.

* * *

Photo by Anna Tukhfatullina Food Photographer/Stylist on Pexels.com

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Sun Tea

Today is one of the first really warm days this year, and we just came back in from a longish walk. I’m hot and thinking a big glass of my grandmother’s sun tea would be just the thing. I don’t actually have that tea because I did not think that far ahead, but if anyone else is in a similar mood, here’s the recipe (not that you really need it):

* * *

Grandma’s Sun Tea

(Dorothea Johnson)

6-8 tea bags

Water

Sunshine

  1. Add water and tea bags to half-gallon bottle (old milk jars work well). Set outside in full sun for the afternoon, preferably between the driveway and marigold border in full view of any approaching grandchildren. Enjoy with sugar or maple syrup and a slice of something tangy.

* * *

Photo by @thiszun (follow me on IG, FB) on Pexels.com

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I lost my biscuit recipe the other day. You know how it goes, you dig through your cookbooks, go online, pick a selection of recipes that looks promising, triangulate ingredients and techniques, make adjustments, then test and sample and retest until you come up with a recipe that works for you. Then you lose the piece of paper you scribbled it all on.

So there I was on Valentine’s Day, all ready to make chicken pot pie with biscuits (one of Mr. Man’s favorites) but I was short one biscuit recipe. I cobbled together a replacement but it was an imperfect substitute. Good news? Mr. Man was still happy. More good news? I found my original recipe!

I like this one because it’s quick, easy, uses the kefir we always have, and the melted butter with cold milk trick results in a lot of well-distributed butter bits without all the hassle of cubing and cutting in.

I am hereby committing it to these pages for posterity, and for Valentine’s Days to come.

* * *

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

  • 283g [2 C.] flour
  • 9g [2 t.] baking powder
  • 2.3g [½ t.] baking soda
  • 5g [1 t.] sugar
  • 3g [½ t.] salt
  • 113g [½ C.] butter, melted
  • 245g [1 C.] kefir or buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 475F.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. 
  3. Melt butter (I used the microwave for this), add kefir or buttermilk, whisk together.
  4. Pour butter mixture into dry mix and stir until just incorporated.*
  5. Scoop and drop large, rounded spoonfuls of dough onto a lined tray or on top of hot pot pie filling.
  6. Bake until just golden and cooked through, 12-14 minutes for biscuits alone, or 24 minutes on pot pie.**

* * *

* It’s easy to overwork biscuit dough. Ask me how I know!

** I’m experimenting with dropping the temperature to 425–450F for the last ten minutes of the pot pie to keep the edges from scorching, but that’s still in the trial phase. And I might add a bit more salt and sugar. And baste the top with butter when done, but only if they aren’t on top of the already buttery pot pie. And this is how I roll in the kitchen.

* * *

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

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I’m in the mood for cookies today, and winter spices seem like just the flavor. I’m not big on commercial cookies but I do have a soft spot for Biscoff.

A Belgian speculoos cookie, Biscoff are crunchy, flavorful, go great with coffee or tea, and can be (here’s the sad part) hard to find. They were at Costco for about a minute and then gone. Amazon would be happy to sell me a bunch but for inflated prices.

After some fruitless searching among the European delis in the area, I wondered if I could make my own. (Surely I could write reams of speculative fiction, if only I were fueled by speculoos. I had to find out.)

Good news! Stella Parks put together a recipe for a homemade version. You can dive into it here, with her explanation of why what should have been a simple process was not, and why some of the most important ingredients can get lost in translation.

* * *

This recipe was a great place to start but not spicy enough for me. If you compare the original with what’s below, you’ll see I’ve boosted the spices considerably. I’ve also trimmed down the ingredients a little.*

Candi sugar was ok but it was hard to find and I found it a little too sweet. The kinako, or roasted soybean flour, was interesting but was a little too nutty and could lean toward burnt flavors.

I don’t know that these cookies have done much for my writing, but they are perfect for an afternoon coffee break. Enjoy!

Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

* * *

Biscoff-ish

(adapted from Homemade Biscoff (Belgian Speculoos Cookies) Recipe)

Makes thirty-two 1 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch cookies

Ingredients

  • 150g (2/3 C.) deeply toasted sugar
  • 90g (6 1/3 T.) butter, softened
  • 4.75g (3/4 t.) baking soda
  • 2.5g (scant 1 t.) Ceylon cinnamon
  • .5g (scant 1/4 t.) ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • .4g (fat 1/8 t.) kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
  • .25g (fat 3/16 t.) ground cloves
  • .4g (scant 1/4 t.) ground cardamom
  • .125g (fat 1/16 t.) ground anise
  • 15g (1 T.) water
  • 155g (1 1/4 C.) flour

Directions

1. With oven rack in lower middle position, preheat to 350°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine sugar with butter, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, cloves, cardamom, and anise. Cream on medium speed until fluffy, soft, and pale, about 10 minutes, pausing to scrape the bowl and paddle as needed if the sugar seems dense and compacted at the bottom of the bowl.

2. While creaming on medium speed, slowly drizzle in the water a little at a time. Once it disappears into the fluffy butter/sugar mix, reduce speed to low and add the flour all at once. Continue mixing until the dough begins to gather around the paddle.

3. Turn the dough onto a clean surface, and knead gently to form a ball. Pat into a rectangular shape, then dust with flour, above and below. Roll to a thickness of ~3/16-inch, using a ruler for guidance. Slide a spatula or bench scraper beneath the dough to loosen, and brush away any excess flour.

4. With a fluted pastry wheel, pizza cutter or blade, cut the dough into 3/4-inch strips, then cut crossways to form 2-inch rectangles. Cut the scraps with cookie cutters or bake as is. With an offset spatula, transfer the cutouts and scraps to a parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving ~half inch between each piece to account for spread.

5. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 16 minutes. Cool to room temperature directly on the baking sheet; the cookies will not crisp until fully cool. Store leftovers in an airtight container up to 1 month at room temperature; the scraps can be ground to use for crumbs and frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.**

* * *

* I’ve included Imperial units but note that they are by nature less precise than weights, and I’ve only tested the recipe in grams. I will say that a couple of years ago I bought an inexpensive spice scale to go with my regular kitchen scale and it was very much worth it.

** Seriously though, they won’t be around that long. And I usually make a double batch.

* * *

My recipe iterations, with version notes and the Post-it I use for marking out the dough spacing.

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This is the latest version of my favorite chocolate cake recipe. It has been used (extensively) for layer cakes, sheet cakes, and cupcakes. Why a new recipe? With tweaks to the fat portion of the ingredients, this version has even more flavor (sorry, Canada, flavour), than the original, and is still simple, easy and quick to make. Oh, and if you happen to forget the butter and coconut oil in the microwave, this works as a fat-free recipe too. Ask me how I know;) I’ve also included an updated frosting recipe, because that’s what friends are for. It’s metric, because these days, that’s how I roll.

I like it. I hope you do too!

Truly Excellent Chocolate Cake, v. 2.0

Cake:
2 C. sugar (400g), half white, half brown
2 C. all-purpose flour (250g)
3/4 C. cocoa powder (88g)
2 t. (11.5g) baking soda
1 t. (4.3 g) baking powder
½+ t. (5g) kosher salt
2 eggs
1 C. buttermilk (or 1 scant cup milk, warmed with 1 T. white vinegar)*
1 C. coffee
2.8 oz. (80g) butter, melted
1.16 oz. (33g) coconut oil, melted
2 t. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare one 9″ x 13” pan, two 8/9” cake pans, or 24 standard muffin tins, with butter and flour/cocoa powder or line with parchment paper (a lot less trouble).
2. Mix sugar, flour, cocoa, soda, powder and salt in a large bowl.
3. Add remaining ingredients, beat for 2 minutes.
4. Pour into baking pans and bake until tester comes out clean (30-35 minutes for cake pans, 35-40 minutes for large pan, or 22 minutes for cupcakes).
5. Let cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. Frost when cool.

* Note: I usually make a cup of coffee in a 2C glass measuring beaker, then add the vinegar and fill up to the two-cup line with milk. Voila!

. . . . . .

Buttercreamcheese Frosting:
100g butter, softened
160g cream cheese, softened
560g powdered sugar
pinch of salt, to taste
~½ t. vanilla
2 T. lemon juice, or some combination of lemon, orange juice concentrate, milk, cream, and/or Grand Marnier; this is the flavoring portion so tweak at will!

1. Cream butter and cheese together until whipped smooth, fluffy and white (can take up to 5 minutes but it’s worth it).
2. Sift powdered sugar, add to butter mixture in two parts, blend.
3. Add flavorings and beat another ~3 minutes until smooth, light, and spreadable. Adjust liquid as necessary to reach desired thickness.

Works well for anywhere you need a mostly white frosting, and colors well. Just ask my friend Uni the Unicorn!

Uni the Unicorn was a present for a six-year old’s birthday: Six layers of chocolate cake with buttercreamcheese frosting, a little marshmallow fondant for the eyebrows, and magic!

 

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Making yogurt is easy, affordable, and (if you’re a kitchen nerd like me) fun. It can also give you a much better product than you’ll find in stores. The process is simple: heat milk to get rid of existing bacteria and denature the proteins, cool it, then add good bacteria and give it some time to work. That’s it.

I like writing, so this recipe will be wordier than strictly necessary. Don’t let that make the process feel daunting! It isn’t.

The tricky bits, and there aren’t many, are in the details. It helps to have a thermometer. It helps to have an oversized heavy-bottomed pot, a few things like a canning funnel and conveniently-sized jars, kitchen towels to help keep the yogurt warm as it cultures, and a Post-it to keep you from hitting the oven’s on button with your yogurt inside (ask me how I know!).

None of those things are necessary, however.

Search for information on yogurt-making and you’ll find a variety of alternate recipes and methods, from counter-top to Crockpot. We’ve distilled that information and found a way that makes thick, tangy lactose-free yogurt and works for us. Tweak at will!

 

Yogurt, Plain but not Boring

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon/4 Liters milk, whole or 2%
  • ½ C. plain yogurt with live and active cultures (~2 T. per quart)

1. Scald the milk: add milk to a large pot over low to medium-low heat. Cover and heat to 195℉, or until just simmering with bubbles forming around the edges.
2. Denature the protein: reduce heat to the lowest setting and hold the milk at 190-195℉ for 15 minutes.
3. Cool: remove from heat, uncover and cool to 115℉, or pleasantly warm to the skin.
4. Inoculate: Preheat the oven to 115℉, then turn off. Add a half cup of the milk to your yogurt starter, whisk together, then add the mixture to the milk and whisk until smooth. Leave in pot or move milk to containers. Fill one jar with ½ C. to use as starter for your next batch.
5. Culture: If using jars, place on a cookie sheet. Insulate containers with kitchen towels. Place in oven or other warm spot. Let sit for 6 to 20 hours, then store in the refrigerator.

Transfer the starter to the refrigerator after ~6 hours to keep bacteria healthy. Longer cultures produce thicker and tangier yogurt. If you’re lactose-intolerant, culture for 18 to 20 hours to give the bacteria time to digest the lactose for you. No pills necessary!

Bacteria at work. Yum.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Those are the basics. For a distillation of the tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years, read on!

Notes:

  • You can make yogurt with lower-fat milks but the resulting taste tends to be chalky and not as nice. We use 2% because Mr. Man is reasonable. I prefer whole milk myself;)
  • We bump this up to 5+ liters of milk (that’s four bags if you’re in Canada) but keep the amount of starter the same; it works fine.
  • For your starter, you want a plain yogurt with minimal additives and no sweeteners. We’ve had the best luck with more industrial-strength brands like Dannon or Stonyfield or (in Canada) Astro or Western than with some of the boutique varieties. There are other culture sources (like chili peppers!) but the grocery store is the easiest way to get started. Whatever you choose, you want bacterial cultures that are tough and ready to work. Rawr!
  • The heating and cooling cycles are somewhat time-consuming. I don’t recommend rushing the heating part of this process as that way lies hard-to-clean pans and nasty flavors, but you can speed cooling by sitting the pot in a sink of cold water. Be careful not to splash or otherwise contaminate the milk.
  • There are ways to make mesophilic yogurt at room temperature without the heating and cooling cycle but this thermophilic method works for us.
  • Precise measurements aren’t required. You need enough starter for the bacteria to get off on the right foot, but as long as you have live cultures and eliminate any competitors by heating the milk, the good bacteria will have room to work. If the yogurt isn’t thickening as fast as you like, feel free to start your next batch with an extra tablespoon or so of starter, or give it another hour or two to set up.
  • The longevity of your starter will depend on the strength of the original bacterial strain and how you treat it. We often go six or more months before buying replacement starter, and we make yogurt about once a week. If your finished product isn’t as thick as before, takes longer to set up or (heaven forfend) smells off, it’s time for new starter. We keep the starter in its own container to avoid contamination, try not to let it culture longer than ~6-8 hours, and whisper encouragements. Your mileage may vary.
  • The jars we use (see below) are perfectly sized for our needs (Mr. Man strains one for breakfast, I now use two per smoothie) but you can use any option you like so long as it’s clean and non-reactive. You could re-use quart-sized yogurt containers or, if plastic isn’t your thing, mason jars, jam jars or the pot you used to make it.
  • If you like additives, add them just before serving. Jam, honey, fruit or other flavors are great additions.
  • Straining the yogurt to make a Greek-style thick version is also easy. Use a yogurt strainer, a bag of cheesecloth in a strainer over a bowl or with a filter in your drip coffee maker.
  • Strained yogurt is a great base for dip too. I like to add grated cucumber, lemon, minced garlic, salt, pepper and herbed Boursin with a sprinkling of bourbon-smoked paprika.

Optional: for your information only, here is the list of the tools we use to make yogurt:

  • 8-quart stainless pot
  • remote thermometer
  • stainless whisk
  • stainless cup measure
  • canning funnel
  • glass jars with lids
  • cookie sheet
  • kitchen towels
  • yogurt strainer
  • one yellow Post-it

We didn’t get all of these things at once, but as we realized we needed them and that we were in it for the yogurt long haul. I’ve found the remote thermometer to be the most useful tool for this, as it lets us be precise and to do other things while the milk is coming to temperature. We use an older version of this one, but there are a lot of options out there. Your needs may vary!

For even more information on the technique and science of making yogurt, I recommend these sources:

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I’m slowly getting back into a writing routine after the holidays. Writing is hard work, and of course glucose is critical to brain function. That means I have an excuse to bake:)

I worked up this cookie recipe for a friend who is gluten-averse. It’s based on a recipe from MasterChef Australia contestant Harry Foster and produces rich chocolate cookies with a satisfying cake-like texture.

Brownie + Cookie = Brookies

  • 350g [12 oz.] 70% dark chocolate
  • 45g [3.17 T.] butter
  • 80g [8.5 T.] cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 50g [~¼ C.] chocolate chips (more or less as you like; I use three chips per cookie)
  • 225g [1 C.] superfine sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
2. Melt dark chocolate and butter in the microwave on low (30% works for me). Stir and set aside until lukewarm.
3. In a medium-size bowl, combine remaining ingredients and beat until light and fluffy. Add cooled butter mixture and mix until combined.
4. Scoop ~1-inch balls onto cookie sheets.* Gently press chocolate chips into the tops of each ball.
5. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Let cool two minutes before transferring to rack.

Makes ~33 cookies.

* If your butter-chocolate mixture is too warm, it may look and act more like batter. Pop the bowl into the fridge for a few minutes to chill and you should be able to scoop as needed.

I’d show you a photo of the cookies but, well, I ate them all. Instead, here are some pretty examples of other lights in the darkness.

Enjoy!

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It’s like this: for the past couple of weeks I’ve spent a wee bit (ok, a lot) of time perfecting my chocolate chip cookie recipe.

(It also strikes me that I do a lot of recipe-related posts on Fridays. Food is definitely on my list of #ThingsILike:)

When I moved north of the border everything changed, including my usual butter, flour, chips, and oven. Mr. Man also likes his cookies with a bit more cakiness than I had with my previous recipe, so it was time to rethink, rewrite and retest.*

I know, I know, hard duty. How I sacrifice! But now Mr. Man (and you, fine readers!) have a new recipe to enjoy. Hope you like it!**

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups [280g] flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt [a pinch less if you use salted butter]
2 sticks [8 ounces or 228g] butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups [300g] brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, large
1 cup [175g] semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper if you hate stuck-on cookies.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt [I sift, some prefer a whisk or fork, use whatever works for you].
3. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes.
4. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mix until well combined.
5. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
6. Scoop ~1-inch balls onto cookie sheets.***
7. Bake for 11-13 minutes depending on dough temperature and preferred crunchiness factor. Let cool two minutes before transferring to rack.
…………
* I’m still playing with this a tiny bit (for the greater good, you understand, not because I want to bake more cookies… ok yeah, I just want to bake more cookies:). I’ll add any updates here.

** If you’re interested in how tweaking various ingredients and other factors influence cookie characteristics, Handle the Heat’s Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies (parts 1 through 4) is a good place to start.

*** At this point you can either bake immediately or chill to allow the flavors to develop. I’ll chill if I have time, but I don’t always have the patience:) My compromise strategy: bake a sheet right away, then make balls with the rest of the dough and freeze on a lined cookie sheet. When hard, store the dough in a plastic bag and voila, you’ve got almost instant cookies for the next couple of weeks days whatever:)

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