#1 Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

CC Cookie Dough

Thanks to watching too many episodes of BBQ Pitmaster, The Mistah and I have started referring to ourselves in a rather bizarre third person way.  I’ll try and explain.  On each episode there are three new competitors.  They have a friendly little showdown where they all have to submit their version of two different staples from the world of bbq….ribs, brisket, pork belly, etc.  The judging is blind…entries are only identified to the judges by a number (#1, #2, #3).  But the competitors get to watch the judging in a little Pitmaster Lounge.

{tangent} Hello Pitmasters, you just spent 12 hours working your ass off and the best you get for a lounge in some folding chairs, a few bbq related props, and a television so you can watch the judges critique your entry?  My biscuits would be a little burned up about that…I’m just saying. {end tangent}

So as each competitor’s dish is being discussed and sampled by the judges, there is this highly annoying ritual that takes place:

Judge:  “Let’s judge the entries for taste, tenderness, and appearance.  Entry #1.”

Competitor: “#1, Smokin’ Crack, that’s me!”

Judge:  “Entry #2″

Competitor: “#2, Slap Daddy, that’s me!”

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  And this happens every single freaking time the judges refer to the entries.  I think they could cut the show down to 30 minutes if they would stop this insanity.

So The Mistah and I started jokingly coming up with random third person names for ourselves .  Just last night I called him #1 Best Dada.  And we pretty consistently call Libby #1 Best Baby (because hello, have you met her… she totally is).

{tangent} The funny thing is that these names also remind me of storefront Chinese restaurants…#1 Chinese Restaurant, #1 Chinese Carryout (both of which are actual restaurant names according to yellowpages.com).  Can they all be the #1 Best? {end tangent}

What does any of this have to do with cookies?  Only that when I sat down to tell you about these cookies, I wanted to find a way to convey that they are the absolute. best. chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made.  So I pulled out the BBQ Pitmaster third person name generator and came up with #1 Best Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I think it makes my point.

What makes these so special?

#1 Reason, they bake up thin AND chewy, that’s me. Thin and chewy is my own personal flavor of cookie perfection.

#2 Reason, they nail the salty/sweet thing perfectly, that’s me.  You definitely taste both but neither is overwhelming.

#3 Reason, they freeze beautifully, that’s me.  I don’t mean after you’ve baked them.  They don’t last long enough in their baked form to worry about long term storage solutions.  But you can scoop the dough onto a sheet pan lined with parchment and put it in the freezer overnight.  The next day transfer the dough to a freezer bag, seal, and pretend you don’t know they are there.  When you need a quick bite of something sweet, pull out one or two dough balls.  Whether you choose to bake them off or eat them as is….that’s totally up to you.  I’ve done both and to this question there really is no wrong answer.

I have a second refrigerator being delivered this weekend….now that Miss Libby is drinking milk we buy it two and three gallons at a time and that takes up some serious refrigerator space.  At least that’s the reason I used with The Mistah for why we needed it.  That there would also be additional freezer space for things like cookie dough, well that’s just the butter on my biscuit.

#1 Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Canal House Cooks and Alexandra’s Kitchen

BAH Note:  Go. Make. These. Now.  You’ll thank me.  And if you have a kitchen scale, I recommend using it.  Makes measuring sooooo much easier.  Again, you’ll thank me.  The quantity of salt is not a misprint….2 teaspoons.

PS, there was a lot of discussion on Alexandra’s original post talking about alternate oven temps, how thin these are supposed to be, etc.  And she has pictures of the cookies after they’ve been baked.  So you might want to mosey over there and take a look.

  • 10 ounces butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (298 grams) brown sugar (dark or light, you choose)
  • 3/4 cup (149 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (265 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounces chocolate chips

Heat your oven to 375 degrees and line two sheet pans with parchment.  Combine the butter, sugars, vanilla, and salt in the work bowl of your mixer (paddle attachment please) and mix on medium high for approximately 3 minutes until the mixture becomes light.  Add the eggs and mix on medium for about 2 minutes until the eggs are incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the 1 3/4 cups flour and baking soda.  Add the flour mixture to them dough and mix on medium for about 2 minutes.  Remove the bowl from your mixer.

In yet another bowl, combine the chocolate chips with the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour.  Use a spatula to stir the flour coated chocolate chips into your dough by hand.  This is to keep you from over mixing your dough.

Use a small ice cream scoop to portion your dough onto the prepared sheet pans.  You want each scoop to be approximately 1 tablespoon…give or take…and I would put no more than four scoops of dough on each pan….these spread like wildfire.

Bake approximately 10 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.  The cookies will be thin and the center may look a bit not set but don’t bake for longer than 11 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Baking, Cooking, Food, Photo, Recipe, Sweets | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

No Bake Mint Thin Cookies

No Bake Thin Minty Cookies

Dear Pinterest,

You don’t know me.  But I think I know about all I need to about you.

On the surface, you seem innocent enough.  Lots of pretty pictures and inspiration swirling around like so many feathery party garlands, all for the taking.  Motivational quotes to help us be the people we imagine ourselves to be in our minds?  Got it.  Crafts to enrich our child’s young life experience?  Check.  Recipes that make us drool over their simplicity and perfection?  Roger.

In short, you’re too good to be true.

I submit the following:

  1. It took Google .27 seconds to return about 40,600,000 results when I searched “pinterest fail”.
  2. I just lost something like 30 minutes clicking on a few dozen of those 40,600,000 results.
  3. Websites the likes of Pinstrocity, Epic Pinterest Fail, and Pintester would not be relevant if our attempts to recreate these pins were successful more than they failed.
  4. Those perfectly styled photos are just that….perfectly styled.  They aren’t real life.
  5. Common sense says that if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

So Pinterest, as easy as it is to buy into the idea of a picture perfect life being only a click away, I’m going to keep living the life that says sometimes you have to give up on the idea of perfect and get your hands covered in some chocolate.

No Bake Minty Thin Cookies

Adapted from Top With Cinnamon

BAH Note: You don’t have to temper your chocolate but tempered chocolate will set up firm at room temperature and not need refrigeration.  And if you have a food processor…there’s no reason not to temper it.  Top With Cinnamon will show you how.  Clicky here for a lovely tutorial on the easiest method for tempering your chocolate.

I found it annoying to separate the cookies and scrape the filling.  Not to mention this resulted in lots of broken cookie bits that went into my mouth.  Yes, the “thin” part of the title is achieved by separating the cookie but the goal of chocolate coated cookies is easier to achieve if you leave the cookies whole.  You choose the approach you like best.

Oh, and I eventually gave up on dipping the cookies in the chocolate and letting the excess drip off.  My solution was to use a silicon pastry brush to slather a layer of chocolate coating all over the cookie.  It didn’t result in as thick a layer of chocolate but it also didn’t make me cry in frustration.

  • 30 to 40 Oreo cookies (if separating the Oreos, use 15 to 20)
  • 7 to 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon mint extract

Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Separate the Oreo cookie halves, if you choose to.  If using halves, scrape the cream filling off the cookies.  Place the cookies on one of the sheet pans.

Melt and/or temper your chocolate.  Add the mint extract and stir it into the chocolate.

Dip the cookies into the melted chocolate using a fork (turning to coat both sides) or paint the cookies with the melted chocolate using a pastry brush.  Transfer the coated cookies to the other cookie sheet.  Allow the chocolate to set up (room temp for tempered or in the fridge for melted).  Store cookies in an airtight container.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Cooking, Dessert, Food, Photo, Recipe, Sweets | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Abby’s Greek Yogurt Coffee Cakes

Coffee Cake Muffin

I know that’s a helluva long title.  But each and every word is important.  Lemme break it down for you.

Abby = Abby Dodge.  Seriously credentialed baking guru.  Author of multiple cookbooks, contributing editor to Fine Cooking, blogger, and teacher.  If we were somehow plopped down in the middle of The Karate Kid, Abby would be Mr. Miyagi.  She would be the sensei to my Daniel-san.  I might also add that she is a lovely human being that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.  Do I sound like a fan-girl?  Probably, and that’s ok.  A girl has to have someone to admire.

Greek Yogurt = low fat, tangy deliciousness.  But let’s keep it real…the greek yogurt doesn’t make this a diet recipe.  You’ve still got a whole stick of butter and more than one cup of sugar going into your batter.  In the words of Mr. Miyagi, “You remember lesson about balance?  Lesson not just karate only.  Lesson for whole life.  Whole life have a balance.  Everything be better.  Understand?”  So yeah, some butter and sugar are ok.  Just remember to look for some balance.

Coffee Cake = snack cake perfection.  Tender cake topped with buttery crumble. Perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning or as a late night snack. I’ve had a life long love affair with coffee cake thanks to the folks at Tastykake.  They like to say that “nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a Tastykake”.  I say maybe it’s time for a new slogan.

Individually, these are three good things.  Combined, they are a trifecta of perfect.  They are Daniel-san seeing the wisdom in Mr. Myiagi’s teachings, winning the competition, and getting the girl….minus a soft rock soundtrack.

*Note, all Karate Kid references are to the original 1984 movie.  Why anyone would try to fix what wasn’t broken, I don’t understand.

Abby’s Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake

Adapted from Abby Dodge, Mini Treats and Handheld Sweets

BAH Note:  I think the only thing I would do differently in the future is to double the amount of topping and stir some into the batter.  The topping is my favorite part of coffee cake, so I will always looks for ways to get more of it in my mouth.

Topping

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Muffins

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt

Combine the sugar, flour, and cinnamon for the topping in a small bowl.  Stir in the melted butter until you get smallish crumbs.  Transfer the topping to the fridge while you make the cakes.

Heat the oven to 350 and line 16 muffin cups with baking papers.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl.  In the workbowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for approximately 1 minute.  Add the brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes or until nicely creamed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary.  Add half of the flour mixture and stir on low speed until just combined.  Stir in the yogurt and vanilla and mix until just blended.  Fold in the rest of the flour mixture with a rubber spatula.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  Add the chilled topping and use the back of a spoon to gently press the topping into the batter (and then set that spoon aside for your enjoyment).

Bake for approximately 18 to 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely…or just long enough so that you don’t scorch the top of your mouth as you cram some coffee cake goodness in your face.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Baking, Food, Photo, Recipe, Sweets | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Cheddar Ranch Crackers

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You’ve heard me talk about my friend Amber and her kindness.  She is also partly responsible for my jargarita obsession and fascination with strawberry shortcake crumb topping.  Today I am participating in a virtual baby shower for her and her Brit (aka James) as they prepare to welcome their Lil Brit to the world.

Amber, I don’t know what pregnancy or child birth is like.  I didn’t have people want to touch my belly…really people what is up with that?  And I didn’t have people pushing their random advice, old wives tales, or well meaning but completely whackadoo ideas on me for 9 months.

So my gift to you and The Brit is to refrain from becoming That Person.  I will not:

a) wax poetically about the ball of wonder that will be your son;

b) comically try to prepare you for the winds of change that will blow through your world with hurricane force once your bundle of newborn joy arrives;

c) remind you that it is good and wise to take care of yourself (the flight attendants tell you to put your oxygen mask on first and then assist your child for a reason, ok);

d) state for the record that I am never more than a text message, email, or phone call away;

e) tell you to trust your instincts, even as a brand new parent (you will know your son better than anyone else does);

f) recommend that you take what suits your style out of the books you read and come up with your own unique flavor of parenting (please refer to item e above);

g) zealously proclaim the magic that is the swaddle;

h) go all zen and say that you to take each day as it comes and just surrender to the easy, the hard, and the crazy.

Nope, not doing any of that.  I’m too busy waving sparkly jazz hands in joy for you, James, and Lil Brit.  This is huge and I am excited beyond words for all that awaits your newly expanded family.

Much Love,

Wendi

PS, I’m also not going to suggest that as Lil Brit gets bigger you have a stash of finger foods to pull out in emergencies to distract, calm, or otherwise avoid nuclear meltdown.  But if you decided to go that route, allow me to give you a grown up spin on one.  There’s no reason Lil Brit should have all the snacking fun!

Cheddar Ranch Crackers

BAH Note:  Now that there is a wee one running around our place, our pantry has new items taking up shelf space.  Like formula, baby food, and goldfish crackers.  Some of these are temporary visitors to our lives.  But others are most likely here to stay a while.  I know there is no avoiding it so I’m just giving in to the reality and making the best of the situation.  Miss Libby can have her goldfish plain while Miss Momma has them Cheddar Ranch style.

  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ounce Ranch salad dressing mix (dry)
  • 16 ounces oyster crackers
  • 12 ounces plain cheddar fish crackers

Heat your oven to 170 degrees and line a sheet plan with aluminum foil.  Combine the vegetable oil and ranch dressing mix in a large bowl and stir until completely combined.  Add the crackers and mix until completely coated.  Spread in a single layer on the sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

{printable file}

I’m not the only one at this party. Check out what these fine folks have posted in honor of Amber’s virtual baby shower.

Sugarcrafter | Breakfast Tostadas  / My Kitchen Addiction | Baby Texan Cookies / My Baking Addiction | Texas Sheet Cake  / Simple Bites | Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Charred Corn Salsa / Stetted | Queso Mac / Food for My Family | Texas Pepper Barbecue Sauce Dessert For Two | Frito Chocolate Chip Cookies / Confessions of a Cookbook Queen | Coconut Tres Leches Layer Cake / TidyMom | Pizza Bread Sticks / Miss in the Kitchen | Blackberry Milkshakes / Art of Gluten Free Baking | Peach-Pecan Pie, Gluten-Free / Food Babbles | Southern Pecan Pie / Jelly Toast | Peach Iced Tea / Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle | Decorated Elephant Cookies / i am baker | Texas Brownie Cake / The Kitchen Trials | Coca-Cola Cake / Cookies & Cups | Sticky Toffee Pudding Cookies / A Farmgirl’s Dabbles | Peanut Butter Bonbons the Size of Texas / Steph Chows | Fiesta Dip

Posted in Food, Photo, Recipe | Tagged , , | 44 Comments

Graeter’s Black Cherry Chocolate Chip

graeters black cherryThe following is a 100% true story.

Once upon a time, I tried some Black Cherry Ice Cream.

It tasted like dish soap.

The End.

I told this story to my pal Mary while we were out picking sweet cherries earlier this summer.  And I swear, later that very same day I got an email asking if I’d like to try Graeter’s newest flavor….Black Cherry Chocolate Chip.

For a refresher on Graeter’s, clicky here please.

Clearly, I took this as a sign that The Universe was listening to me say how awful I thought Black Cherry anything was and wanted me to reconsider my opinion.  And thanks to the magic of dry ice, insulated packing, and overnight delivery, I had a change of heart.

Here’s what Graeter’s had to say:

“Graeter’s ice cream is making 2013 a little sweeter with the addition of its newest flavor, Black Cherry Chocolate Chip. The new flavor is now available in The Fresh Market, Weis and Mars stores in the Baltimore area. 

The first new Graeter’s flavor in 3 years, Black Cherry Chocolate Chip, is all-natural black cherry ice cream made with heavy cream, pure cane sugar and loaded with fresh black cherries and Graeter’s signature dark chocolate chunks.

While the flavor is new, the process remains the same: churned in a French Pot, two gallons at a time, and hand-packed by the pint.”

And here’s what I have to say:

Done the Graeter’s way, velvet smooth ice cream is studded with tender black cherries and chocolate.  I’m not talking about a fleck of cherry or a chip of chocolate.  Oh no. I mean full on cherries and Graeter’s signature chunks of chocolate that are magically married to the ice cream as it churns in its happy little French Pot (am I the only one that misses Bob Ross talking about happy little trees?).

As a former Black Cherry hater I do not say this lightly, but this might be my new favorite ice cream flavor.  Thank you Graeter’s for the opportunity to make a new start with Black Cherry Chocolate Chip.  Finding out I was wrong has never been more delicious.

Don’t have access to Graeter’s where you live?  They will conveniently deliver it to your door.

Disclaimer:  I received complimentary ice cream from Graeter’s.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Posted in Food, Sweets | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Best Bean and Beef Chili

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you will not dirty this many dishes…promise.

I’m not an overly huggy person.  I like my personal space and one of the surest ways to press my buttons is to breach that airspace without clearance from the tower.  I’ve had a relationship fail because the other person was too damn grabby with the hands all the time.  Ok, in all fairness that wasn’t the only reason the relationship failed.  There was a massive amount of emotional clingyness in addition to the need to be physically touching me every waking moment.  Just thinking about it now, years and years later, makes me tense up.

Then again, I’ve also been told by another past boyfriend that I “run hot and cold”.  At the time I brushed that comment off completely.  It’s only been in the last few years or so that it percolated up through the recesses of my mind and bobbed along the surface in moment of clarity.  And I finally get what he meant.  He meant the prickliness that surrounds me like a force field, that has always just been part of who I am.

It takes a while to unpack this emotional baggage, so I’ll abbreviate the story.  Assume that I have a hard time trusting people.  Imagine that my default setting rests firmly on “I will trust you and then you will let me down”.  After the ability to trust another person has been eroded, the willingness and desire to open up and be vulnerable to someone is replaced with the instinct to hurt them before they can hurt me.  So yes, I can see a clear pattern of pushing people away while at the same time trying to pull them closer.  And it is no surprise that after being pushed away again and again, people get fed up and move on…so the cycle viciously feeds and sustains itself.  Talk about exhausting.

Here’s the thing I have to keep reminding myself…we’re all broken in some way.  We all have a heavy piece of emotional baggage we’ve been shouldering for too long.  But we can choose to hold on to it longer or just let it go….or at least not to hold on to it so tightly.

And that’s where I am.  I’m trying to open up more of my physical and emotional personal space.  So when The Mistah suggests that I need a hug, I try to listen to that voice inside me that says “yes I do”.  Taking a chance to trust can feel good, as good as when The Mistah gets out of the shower and wraps me in a first-thing-in-the-morning-because-I’m-already-in-a-stabby-mood hug.  It’s like being hugged by the sun.

Best Bean and Beef Chili

Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

BAH Note: I used to be firmly anti-chili.  But I took a chance and learned that the right chili will not let me down.  This is a chili I learned to love.  The beef.  The beans.  The way a dollop of sour cream sublimely tempers the heat of the spice.

Be patient if this takes longer than you think it should to get the beans and tomatoes smoothish in the food processor.  And trust me when I say that as gross as it looks in your food processor, it will do wonderful things after it cooks….I will not let you down on this.

  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can  (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • agave nectar, approximately 2 tablespoons

Puree half of the beans with the diced tomatoes in a food processor until the mixture is fairly smooth.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil.  Add the chopped onion and cook over a medium flame  until the onion is softened and translucent.  Add the ground beef to the pot and cook until it is no longer pink, breaking it up with a spoon.  Add the chili powder, cumin, and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally for about five minutes.

Add the broth, pureed mixture, rest of the beans, cinnamon sticks, and agave nectar (if using) to the pot and simmer, partially covered anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour.  Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt and additional chili powder and cumin to taste.

Fancy it up with some sour cream and shredded cheese.  Or enjoy it as is.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Cooking, Food, Main Course, Recipe | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Big Summer Potluck 2013

BSP 2013 Collage FinalDear Maggy, Erika, and Pam,

Driving back to the hotel after dinner Saturday night I very much wanted to be able to take a moment and write each of you a thank you note.  My traveling companion, however, saw to it that the opportunity to reflect on this year’s Big Summer Potluck did not come until the ride home on Sunday.  And maybe that’s for the best.  It allowed some time for the meaning of the weekend to reveal itself a bit more fully.

Having attended two previous Big Summer Potlucks, I can attest that each one is unique; what I take away is going to differ each time.  And while every BSP has it’s own personality there are common threads that run through each event.

It is obvious that you put a great deal of thought into creating something that is fresh and new through the choice of speakers and topics.  From Shauna talking about having the courage to ignore the negative editor in our heads, to Alice embodying the power of authenticity, to Joe and Jeni and Jessamyn speaking about allowing a vision to change, you offer us the opportunity to nourish a different part of our spirit every year.

At the same time you manage to keep each BSP feeling comfortable and familiar by fostering a sense of community among a pretty varied group of attendees.  Regardless of whether we are seasoned veterans, brand new bloggers, or if we’ve stepped away from actively blogging, we are a valued member of the BSP family.  We are each greeted with a warm smile, an open heart, and an embrace.  You allow each of us to (literally) be a guest in your home.  Knowing the power that comes from sharing a meal together, you cook for us and allow us to contribute our own dishes to the group.  It really is a potluck.

There is no one BSP attendee experience. For the introverts among us, it is possible to hang back a bit and observe.  And for those of us who are more outgoing, the opportunity to meet and greet and network with other bloggers and the brands we love happens organically…on the bus, at a meal, or during Open Mic time.  Some years those  discussions lead to tears…big, mascara smearing, salty sobs of realization and understanding.  Other years, the epiphanies are private.

In some ways I feel my BSP experience has come full circle.  It was while I was at BSP 2011 that my mother passed away.  The Universe saw to it that I was surrounded by a community of friends at a moment when my emotions battled and raged within me. I was not alone when one chapter of my life was so abruptly shut.  At BSP 2013 I was able to introduce my BSP family to the newly opened chapter of my life…Miss Libby.  Is it a coincidence that my daughter was born almost exactly one year after my mother died? I don’t think so. Bringing Libby to BSP this year felt like coming home.

To everything there is a season.  For me, BSP is the season of new beginnings.  Those beginnings can be big and life changing.  Or they can be quiet opportunities to recommit to myself.  That may not be what you set out to achieve when you plan each year’s event.  But somehow that is what you create.

I’m already looking forward to BSP 2014.

xoxoxo,

Wendi

Posted in Random | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Freezer S’mores

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I went from being Type A to Type Meh in the span of just a few years.

Type A = super competitive; anxious about everything being just so; rigid and uptight.

Type Meh = more relaxed; content with things as they are or as they need to be; limber and fluid.

I see this change to varying degrees across the different parts of me.  But I think the change has maybe been most profound in the kitchen.

For example, Type A me would have read Sweetened With Honey’s recipe for Campfire Bars and been all kinds of fired up to make homemade graham crackers and marshmallow and then morph them into a fireless s’more.  Hell, I might have even flirted with the idea of processing my own chocolate….not really, or at least not seriously.

Type Meh me read the recipe and immediately discounted the notion of making graham crackers or marshmallow. There are perfectly fine graham crackers and marshmallow at that big store with all the food so conveniently laid out for me.  The time and effort I would invest into those projects could be better used stealing a nap on a weekend afternoon, sweeping under the sofa for small wooden toys deposited by Hurricane Libby, or being defeated by Level 29 in Candy Crush.

My point is that unless I specifically want to be challenged by a recipe, as in Ken’s Ginger Cream Cake, I’m going to look for ways to simplify a fussy recipe to make it fit into the limited amount of time and attention that I can offer.

What is the take away from this?  1) Not everything in life has to be a big production.  2) Even the smallest treats can be semi-homemade and full of love.  3)  I like to nap.

The correct answer is All of the Above.

Freezer S’mores

Inspired by Sweetened With Honey

BAH Note:  Since this is a Type Meh recipe, there are no exact measurements for anything on this one.  Take a leap and trust your own judgment.

  • graham crackers
  • marshmallow fluff
  • powdered sugar
  • semi sweet or bitter sweet chocolate chips

Combine marshmallow fluff with some powdered sugar in a bowl and beat to combine with a mixer.  Add additional powdered sugar until the fluff has thickened up to a frosting consistency.  It should be sturdy but not stiff.

Place half of your graham crackers on a sheet pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment (for easier cleanup).  Top each cracker with a dollop of the fluff. Top with a second cracker and transfer the pan to the freezer for approximately 30 minutes.

While the bars chill in the freezer, melt the chocolate and allow it to cool.  Dip each bar in the melted chocolate or use a pastry brush to paint the chocolate onto the bars.  Return the pan to the freezer for the chocolate to set.

Allow the s’mores to sit out for a few minutes before serving to soften just a bit.

{printable recipe}

Posted in Dessert, Food, Photo, Recipe, Sweets | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Ken’s Ginger Milk Cake

Ginger Cream Cupcake

I turned 42 this year.  How that happened, I don’t know.  One day I am young; I have my entire life ahead of me.  And then people my age suddenly have children old enough to graduate high school.  People my age are posting on Facebook about their grandchildren.  People my age have as much of their lives in the past as they do in the future.  Call it whatever you like – middle age, seasoned, etc – the reality is that like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.  And as of my birthday this year, I’ve had 15,695 of them.  That’s worth celebrating.

So I decided that I would pick a special treat to mark the end of one year and the beginning of a brand new year of me.  Part of what I’ve learned on my journey is that by virtue of just being me, I am worthy.  I have value.  And until I embrace that and celebrate it, I can’t expect anyone else to.

I may have had Brene Brown in my head as I took the time to mix and stir, to fold and frost in celebration of me. But having love and compassion for ourselves allows us to experience love and compassion for others.   This year, love and compassion tasted like Ginger Milk Cake.

Ken’s Ginger Milk Cake

Adapted from Hungry Rabbit

BAH Note:  I’m not going to kid you, this cake is very hands on.  It’s not something I would attempt with lots of distractions like children, Candy Crush, or a Dance Moms marathon to pull your attention away from the task at hand.  If cupcakes aren’t your thing, or if you have better portion self control than I do, this batter will make two 8″ layers.

Ginger Milk Mousse

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (full fat please)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon super fine sugar

Cake

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Melt 5 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon grated ginger and allow to sit, off the heat, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the 4 egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt together in a medium bowl until pale yellow, smooth, and fully combined.

Sprinkle the gelatin into 1/4 cup of the coconut milk in a small bowl or ramekin.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup coconut milk, 3/4 cup heavy cream, and 1 tablespoon grated ginger to a small saucepan and heat to just simmering.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for least 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove from the heat and slowly stir a few tablespoons of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.  Stir all of the tempered egg mixture into the hot milk and return the pan to the stove.  Cook over medium heat until the milk mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Off the heat, stir in the gelatin mixture and vanilla.  Pour the ginger cream through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  Cover the surface of the cream with plastic wrap and allow to cool completely.

While the ginger cream cools, strain the butter ginger mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl.  Stir in the vanilla.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, ground ginger, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt into a medium bowl.

In a separate mixing bowl (non reactive s’il vous plait) set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the 4 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar.  Continue to whisk until it reaches about 115 degrees (if you don’t have a thermometer, this is a touch warmer than body temperature but should not be HOT).  Transfer the heated egg and sugar to the workbowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed for about 5 minutes or until the mixture triples in volume.

Warm the melted butter in your microwave for about 10 seconds, just to loosen it up.  Whisk 1 cup of the egg mixture into the melted butter and set aside.  Sift half of the flour mixture onto the batter and gently fold it in with a rubber spatula.  Repeat with the remaining flour and fold it in just until the flour is no longer visible.  Gently fold in the butter mixture until just incorporated.

Divide the batter into lined muffin tins and bake until the cake just begins to pull away from the baking paper and a tester comes out clean.  Start checking for doneness at about 15 minutes…I honestly don’t remember how long mine were in the oven but Ken calls for 18 to 22 minutes for an 8 inch layer cake.  So cupcakes should be in the 15 to 20 minute range.

Transfer the cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.  When ready to frost, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar in your mixer until you get soft peaks.  Stir about one cup of the whipped cream into the ginger cream and then gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream.  Frost the cupcakes and then top with crystallized ginger.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready.

{printable recipe}

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7.20.13

BDAY COLLAGE

My heart is very full.  Happy birthday Libby.

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