#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}

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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}

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}

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.

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}

Peanut Butter Cup

Peanut Butter Cup

Ok, so these happened.  But like many DIY food projects in my kitchen, I don’t know that I would ever make them again.  Especially when Trader Joe has the most delicious dark chocolate peanut butter cups on the face of the earth.  #seriously

To satisfy your own curiosity, you can check out this post on Sprouted Kitchen…it’s the recipe I worked from.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have Very Special Birthday Party to start fretting over since I failed to make arrangements with the Birthday Party Fairy.

Clodagh’s Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Mint Chocolate Chip

Disclaimer:  The good folks at Kerrygold provided me with a copy of Coldagh’s Kitchen Diaries and coupons for their fantabulous butter.  I highly recommend both.

I have found a new outlet to get baked goods out of my house….it’s called daycare.  Not that my coworkers have tired of being on the receiving end of what comes out of my kitchen.  It’s just that it’s good to have options. And now that my daily activities include daycare drop-off and pick-up, I can spread the love (and the calories) around a little further.

When The Mistah and I became parents, it was with less than 48 hours notice.  So where most parents have nine months to plan, prepare, and make arrangement for life after a baby arrives, we were winging it.  Our heads were still  spinning at the idea of a baby as we swept through the aisles at Target and Babies R Us to get the stuff that we thought we might need.  And even though the list of what you really need to bring a baby home can be rather short, those carts filled up pretty damn quickly.

So the buying tons of stuff part of becoming parents got taken care of.  And then we brought Lib home.  And the taking care of a little person got underway.  Which led to buying more stuff to take care of our little person.  It went on like this for a while.  And then one day, two and a half months had gone by and I needed to go back to work.

It was only after we became parents that I had any understanding about how hard it is to get an infant into daycare.  When you are able to estimate your child’s arrival in the world, you’ve got the luxury of time on your side.  You can go to a daycare and get a spot in their infant program.  When your family grows by +1 overnight, the stars need to align, the Universe needs to smile on you, and you need to make a wish upon a falling star to find a daycare center that has openings for an infant.

And as if I needed further proof that the Universe was smiling on our adoption, we managed to do just that. Now our child is charming her way into the hearts of the folks at daycare, one day at a time.  Seriously, she has her own fanclub at daycare…teachers from other classrooms come by to see her and say hello.

As her parent, I want to make sure I acknowledge the people who spend their day caring for my child so that I can spend my day at work.  And it never hurts to build a little goodwill for those days when my normally charming child chooses to be a devilish handful.

If you find yourself hankering for a little mint chocolate fix, wanting to say say thank you, or maybe even apologizing in advance for something that your child may or may not do in the days to come, these cupcakes have your back.

Clodagh’s Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries

BAH Note:  If you don’t have self rising flour in your pantry, you can substitute 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon salt.  My cupcakes sank in the middle as they cooled….that could have been my doing or not….I just used the frosting to camouflage that and nobody was the wiser.

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons self rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  • 2 ounces mini chocolate chips

Heat your oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with 9 or 10 baking cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly combined before adding the next one.  Add the mint extract and then use a spatula to fold in the flour mixture until combined.

Divide the batter among the baking cups and bake for 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.  Cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes before turning the cupcakes out and cooling completely on a rack.

{printable recipe}

Mint Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Abby Dodge

BAH Note:  If you want a richer frosting, add up to an additional 1/2 stick butter.  Taste the frosting and if you want a mintier flavor, add another 1/2 teaspoon extract.

  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 7 ounces marshmallow fluff
  • 3/4 powdered sugar
  • 1  teaspoons mint extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • green food coloring (optional)

Combine butter and marshmallow in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium until completely smooth.  Reduce speed to low and add confectioners sugar, mint extract, and salt.  Continue to beat until smooth and fluffy.  If using food color, add it a few drops at a time and mix until the color is distributed.  Add more food color to get your desired shade of green.

Frost your cupcakes, garnish with mini chocolate chips, and enjoy.

{printable recipe}