MALTED CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

A few years ago, the New York Times published an article on a cookie dough recipe. While chocolate chip cookie recipes are pretty much everywhere these days, the recipe was unusual because it has you refrigerate the dough for at least 24 hours. Apparently this gives a much better flavor to the cookies, and also in my opinion gives you a chance to try and see how long you can hold out and practice restraint with a bowl of cookie dough in your kitchen. I’d read elsewhere about adding malt powder to cookie dough as a good flavor addition. Personally I am a SERIOUS ADVOCATE of adding Grape-nuts to cookies, so I figured trying another add-in couldn’t hurt. I couldn’t find straight malted milk powder, so I used Ovaltine (total childhood throwback). Highly recommend these cookies–they are the soft, slightly crispy variety but not the chewy, flat variety. Feel free to increase the amount of malt powder, but if your powder (like Ovaltine) includes sugar, you might want to dial back the amount of regular sugar in the recipe.
MALTED CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Adapted from the New York Times
1 c. cake flour
1/2 c. plus 1/3 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
1/2 c. plus 1/8 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. chocolate chips or disks (you can increase this as you like)
1/4 c. malted milk powder (I used Ovaltine)
sea salt to finish
In a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well-combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar and malt powder. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the stand mixer, beating until incorporated. Add your chocolate chips and any other additions you like (coconut, Grape-nuts, raisins).
Refrigerate your dough for at least 24 hours. Cover in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop the dough into equal-sized balls and flatten slightly. Place dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown
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CINNAMON SUGAR PULL-APART BREAD

I’d seen this bread in several places and wanted to try it. Not just because it is beautiful, as you fold pieces of cinnamon-sugar-dusted dough together in a loaf, but also because it is bakes up gooey-ly together in a way that even a pan of cinnamon buns can’t. Several words of wisdom regarding this bread: a) make it for friends, because people will ooh and ah over it, and it is nice to make that happen for people you love and b) don’t use a small loaf pan! I did, and as you will see, it overflowed in a very comical fashion (delicious, yet comical).

Once you tackle the method (sounds complicated, but isn’t), you can make many variations on this (like garlic and cheese, or lemon and ginger).

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
Adapted from Joy The Baker

For the dough:
3 c. flour
2 oz. unsalted butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. milk
1/4 c. water
2 large eggs, room temp.
1 tsp. vanilla

For the filling:
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 oz. butter, browned

1. Whisk yeast into 3 tablespoons lukewarm water. Add a pinch of sugar and let sit for 5 minutes until it foams and bubbles.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 c. flour, sugar, yeast and salt and set aside.
3. Whisk together eggs in a small bowl.
4. In a saucepan, melt together the milk and butter until butter just melts. Remove from the burner and add water and vanilla. Let it stand for a minute.
5. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Add the eggs and mix into the batter. This will take a bit! Add the remaining flour and mix into a sticky dough.
6. Place dough in a  large greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let it sit in a warm spot until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
7. Deflate the dough and knead 2 tablespoons flour into it. Let it rest for a few minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a large rectangle (try and do 12 x 20 inches). Brush the melted butter across the dough and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
8. Slice the dough vertically into 6 strips and stack them on top of each other. Then slice in 6 equal slices (you end up with 6 stacks of 6 squares). Layer the squares into the loaf pan. Place a towel over the pan and let it rise for about 30 minutes.
9. Preheat over to 350 and bake the loaf for 30 to 35 minutes. Let it rest for 20 minutes or so before you take it out of the pan, or eat it warm straight from the pan!

BEST COCOA BROWNIES

Oh, brownies. So delicious, and so many variations. After a highly unsuccessful attempt at chocolate-based brownies (hello, did you even know you could make bad brownies? They are one of the easiest one-bowl dessert wonders. Well, people ate them anyway. But they were bad. See photo evidence below), I fell back on the tried-and-true cocoa brownie recipe that yields densely fudgy brownies every time. These are rich and chocolately and really incredible when you freeze them.

*the failed brownie recipe came about because I was trying to be frugal and use up some not-so-great milk chocolate in my freezer instead of buying bittersweet baking chocolate. Lessons learned! I threw some chocolate covered mint candies in the batter at the last minute which did redeem them slightly but the texture was off.

Best Cocoa Brownies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

10 tablespoons butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
¾ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs, cold
½ cup flour
pinch of espresso powder

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line the bottom and sides of an 8X8-inch baking pan with foil (I used an 8-inch round pan).

Place the butter in a large heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Once the butter melts, add the sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, and salt. Mix with a wooden spoon. It will be gritty.

Stir in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick and shiny, add in the flour all at once. Stir the mixture until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick plunged In the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 30 minutes. Freeze, and try not to eat them all one night around midnight. Or give them to friends at an early spring BBQ (my offering).

CHOCOLATE OLIVE OIL COOKIES

If you run out of eggs, and have no butter, but do find yourself with a serious chocolate craving, you can make these! The olive oil makes a brownie-like batter. Scoop the dough with a spoon into rounds and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. The result? Fudgy, salty-sweet, soft chocolate cookies.

CHOCOLATE OLIVE OIL COOKIES WITH SEA SALT

Adapted from Take a Megabite

3/4 c. flour

1/3 c. cocoa (use Valrhona dark if you want to get serious)

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. sugar

2 1/2 T. olive oil

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 c. hot water, plus 2 T.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Add oil, water and vanilla. Beat until the batter is stiff (it will have a brownie batter-like consistency).

Drop heaping spoonfuls of the batter on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse or flaked sea salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool. 

PUMPKIN CRANBERRY SCONES

Unbelievably, it is already almost Thanksgiving. While the weather yesterday was unseasonably warm, I still feel the signs of fall. As for most people, Thanksgiving food is pretty constant over the years for our family, and probably says something about our nature that the holiday that revolves most around food has the least experimentation. We go to the same dishes each year for comfort and a sense of consistency. I stick with the same things that I like out of habit as well, but whenever I try something new, I remind myself how much I prefer creativity in the realm of the kitchen. It never ceases to surprise me how easily you can make something new and different, in no time at all with things you already have sitting in your cabinet.
In quiet celebration of the season, I tried these pumpkin cranberry scones. They were an experiment of sorts in their own right, as I cobbled together some different recipes. I thought they might be dense, due to the pumpkin, yogurt, and whole wheat flour, but they are flaky and pretty light but still hearty and filling. Next time, I would dice the cranberries as they are very tart when you get a mouthful of one!