Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Of all of the comfort foods in this world, my absolute favorite is a chocolate chip cookie. It is the first recipe I learned to make. It is my go-to recipe when I need to bring a dessert to a friend's house. When I am craving something sweet, a scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough cures it every time. These cookies taste fantastic warm and gooey straight out of the oven and are still good three days later when you dunk them in milk so soften them up.

The recipe I use is from my mother's Betty Crocker cookbook. It is the version she got when she was my age. Her cookbook is old and the pages are dog eared and falling out from years of use. You can't even read the oatmeal cookie recipe because there is a hole worn in the page from being wiped clean of batter so many times. It is just a guess how much brown sugar is needed. But my sister and I tried to get her a newer version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook and the chocolate chip cookie recipe is just not the same, so the book sits unused in her cupboard. The recipe is good, don't get me wrong, but those same feelings of nostalgia do not come bubbling to the surface with each bite.

When my sister and I used to bake these chocolate chip cookies, we used to fight over who got to pour the vanilla in and who got to stir in the chocolate chips. We have made this recipe so many different ways depending on what we had in the cupboard. If we were just going to eat the dough, we left out the eggs. We have made it with no vanilla, no baking soda, butter instead of margarine. We've put butterscotch chips, vanilla chips, cinnamon chips, M&Ms, and mint chips in them, but honestly, never have we put in the optional nuts. Each time the cookies turn out a bit different but still good. We have probably made these cookies for almost every person we know.

I made this batch of cookies for my husband's interns. It is their last week of work because summer is coming to a close. However, he forgot he had meetings in the city early this week and would not be seeing his interns, so no cookies for them. But chocolate chip cookies never go to waste...

Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from Betty Crocker
2/3 c. shortening
2/3 c. margarine
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
3 c. flour
1 12oz package chocolate chips
1 c. nuts (optional)

Mix ingredients together. When I was little, I melted the shortening and margarine in the microwave and stirred in the ingredients by hand. Now I am big and I have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and so I just throw everything in there with the paddle attachment and whip the batter right up. Its really personal preference. The mixer gives you a more whipped dough than stirring by hand, but the cookies come out pretty much the same. So I guess it depends on whether you like to eat whipped dough or not ( because really, who can make chocolate chip cookies and not snitch some of the batter?)

Scoop tablespoons onto a cookie sheet. If you used butter instead of margarine, leave a lot of room between cookies. They will spread like crazy.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes or until the bottoms are just starting to turn brown. My family prefers cookies on the gooier side, so I tend to try and err on the side of caution by pulling them out a bit early. However, if you like crunchy cookies, leave them in.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Let Them Eat Brioche

I know, I know, the next recipe in the BBA challenge is bagels. But I already made and posted about the bagels in this book. I need to go back and make them again, because mine had a flaw in them somewhere, that I need to figure out. However, I decided to go ahead and skip them in order to keep on track and to keep trying new recipes.

Next on the list was Brioche. There were three options to choose from: Poor Man's Brioche, Medium Brioche, and Rich Man's Brioche. The difference in the recipes was related to the quantity of butter in the dough. Brioche is an incredibly rich buttery dough that to me had similar characteristics to a croissant. I chose the Rich Man's Brioche because I had never made a bread with that high of a butter content and I wanted to see what the dough would be like and how difficult it would be to work with.

The dough came together fairly easily, rose like it should have, and was not to difficult to handle.

Honestly, the finished product was pretty but too rich for my taste when eaten alone (which is really saying a lot). Eating it with some raspberry jam was actually a good pairing, the butter flavor went well with the sweetness of the jam.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Greek Celebration Bread

The next bread for the BBA Challenge was Greek Celebration Bread or Artos. There were a couple of options when making this bread in regards to the shape of the bread. You could make Christopsomos which is served at Christmas time and has raisins, cranberries, and walnuts mixed in. The other option would be to make Lambropsomo, which is served at Easter and has raisins, apricots, and almonds mixed in. The bigger difference in the two breads though, is in how they are shaped. Chistopsomos is what I made and is shaped like the above photo. Lambropsomo is braided and has colored eggs nestled in the grooves. This bread was fairly easy to make, however you did need a wild yeast starter already prepared. As it so happens, I have a wild yeast culture just lounging in my fridge waiting for me so that was not a big deal for me. It does take some time to grow though, if you have never done it.

This is not one of the best breads I have ever made. The glaze made the bread sticky and undesirable to just snack on. I was concerned about all of the add ins, so I didn't put in any raisins or cranberries and that was a poor decision. There are a lot of spices and the dried fruit would have really helped offset the strong flavor. Overall, it was fun to make, but not overly fun to eat.

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