Monday, October 31, 2011

Mummy Hotdogs

In the spirit of Halloween I made mummy hotdogs for my little Maisie Miao Miao.   IMG_1916eThey were simple to make and Maisie really enjoyed eating them.

 IMG_1955eEspecially after she dipped them in ketchup blood.

Mummy Hotdogs

11-ounce can of refrigerator breadsticks
12 hotdogs
yellow mustard

Open the package of breadsticks and using kitchen shears slice each of the twelve pieces of dough in half lengthwise to create thinner strips.  Wrap one strip at a time snugly around the hotdog in the end using two thin bread strips per hotdog.  In the wrapping leave about 1/2 inch of hot dog exposed for the face area.  Bake the mummies on a cookie sheet at 350º for 15 to 18 minutes or until the breadstick wrapping is golden brown.  Remove the mummies from the oven and cool them for 5 minutes. Add yellow mustard eyes just before serving.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwich

One of the ways we enjoy the meat from my “Rotisserie” Chicken is in Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

IMG_1504eThese sandwiches are delicious, a hot buttered and grilled bun topped with hot pulled BBQ chicken and topped with some nice cold and creamy Copycat “KFC” Coleslaw…DELISH and oh-so easy!

With this sandwich we like soft, white, fluffy buns without any seeds or fancy stuff.   I butter the cut side and grill it in a pan until it’s crispy and golden brown.  The chicken couldn’t be easier as there are just two ingredients, “Rotisserie” Chicken and your favorite bbq sauce (we like K.C. Masterpiece original) mixed together until it tastes how you like, easy peasy lemon squeezy.  The coleslaw is my super simple Copycat “KFC” Coleslaw recipe which can be made a day or so in advance so go check it out and make this sandwich as you won’t be disappointed.



Friday, October 28, 2011

“Rotisserie” Chicken

IMG_1489e I love using rotisserie chicken for quick and easy meals or in recipes like my Cheaters Chicken Soup, my Oriental Chicken Salad and my Fire Roasted Tomato and Chicken Tortilla Soup.  This recipe is super simple to make and works just as well on whole chickens as it does on pieces.  What you end up with is chicken that has a gorgeous crispy skin and the texture of the meat is fall off the bone soft but still moist and juicy.  I’m telling you, this chicken is exactly like the rotisserie chickens you purchase at the market except better because it’s not injected with things like sodium phosphate, modified food starch, sugar, carrageenan, soy lecithin, flavorings or xanthan gum.  The only long part about this recipe is that the chicken is roasted at a low temp for five hours, yes you read that correctly, five hours. 

IMG_1482e So since I have to plan my time accordingly and have the oven going for so long, when I make this I go big generally roasting two whole chickens along with ten pounds of leg quarters in one go (doubling the spice recipe below.)  Also, I always roast my poultry dark meat up because I feel that by doing so during the cooking process the extra fat from the dark meat runs down and through the white meat helping to keep it moist and from drying out.

IMG_1485eOnce the chicken is finished cooking I allow it to cool so that it’s easier to handle and then I get to work.  I remove all the skin to one bowl, I separate the dark and light meats and set those aside and then I take all the bones, fat and cartilage and that goes in another bowl.  Nothing at this point gets thrown away.  Some of the chicken we eat right away or I use in another recipe and some is frozen for use later.  The skin I add to a stock pot and then I add my pasta strainer and fill that with all the stuff in the bones bowl and all the drippings and fat from the roasting pan.  I then add water and the additional items needed to make Cheaters Chicken Soup.  Once the soup is ready I pull the pasta strainer, press on the solids to get out all the broth and dispose of everything in the strainer.  I then strain the skin from the soup and put the broth in the refrigerator to chill so that I can easily remove the fat layer.  Once the soup has chilled I easily remove the fat layer to a container and I freeze the fat as it is delicious used in other recipes like oven roasted potato wedges or when making pâté.  The skin I take and because it’s so soft I easily rip it into pieces and then in a large fry pan over low heat I render the remaining fat from the skin cooking it until the skin is crispy and golden, delicious little bits of chicken crackling which is delicious sprinkled onto a bowl of hot soup…trust me on this one and give it a try. 

So much to do with “Rotisserie” Chicken and so very delicious too.  I hope that you’ll give this recipe a try and you’ll never go back to store bought rotisserie chickens again.

IMG_1486e“Rotisserie” Chicken

4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sweet paprika 
1 TBS. garlic powder 
1 tsp. dried thyme 
2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
10 lbs. chicken ~ whole “fryer” chickens, leg quarters or pieces of your choice

Preheat oven to 250F.  In a small bowl mix together all the spices. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towel.  Sprinkle the spice mixture inside, outside and all over the chicken. Place the chicken in a foil lined pan (it makes clean up so much easier) and roast uncovered for 5 hours.  During the last two hours of cooking, baste the chicken with the pan juices every 15-20 minutes.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Caramel Apples

Today my beautiful Maisie Miao Miao made caramel apples.

IMG_1559eFor Maisie it wasn’t about making a gorgeous homemade caramel or fancy ingredients, it was about the fun of being with Mom in the kitchen, dipping apples in caramel that tastes good to her and putting on lots of extra chocolate bits and nuts.  It was the fun of the activity that made my girl so happy

IMG_1537eMaisie decided that she wanted the apples rolled in a mix of semi sweet chips, cinnamon chips, white chocolate bits and milk chocolate bits along with some Winter Spiced Nuts, . 

IMG_1543eMaisie debating about how many chips and nuts would really be needed on the apples as she performs a little quality control taste testing.

IMG_1544eMaisie carefully dipped the apples.

IMG_1546eThen she rolled it in the chip and nut mixture.

IMG_1555eMaisie proudly displaying her finished caramel apples.

Caramel Apples

1 11-oz. bag Kraft Caramel Bits
4-5 apples, I used honey crisp
candy bits of your choice, we used semi-sweet chips, cinnamon chips, white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips.
nuts of your choice, I used Planters Winter Spiced Nuts

Wash and dry the apples and insert a popsicle stick.  Melt the Caramel Bits as directed on the package.  Dip & coat the apples completely and then immediately roll in the add-ons of your choice.  Place the coated apple on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat.  Refrigerate at least an hour to allow the caramel to set up completely.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Thin Mint Irish Coffee

IMG_1303eI love being a part of The Secret Recipe Club because it motivates me to cook and try new recipes and also it forces me to get them posted which is my major downfall.  Because of the club I have found some wonderful new cooking blogs and made some great new recipes including Home Style Chicken Curry, Holy Guacamole, Cilantro Lime Chicken, Nutella Crêpes and Welsh Cakes

IMG_1311e Each month we are assigned another participating blogger and secretly from their blog we make any recipe of our choice, as written or with any changes we need or desire.  We are informed of the time and date to publish and then at that assigned time, all the participating bloggers go live with their posts and we get to see who cooked from our blog and what they decided to make.  The Secret Recipe Club has grown from just a handful of bloggers all in a once a month posting group to where it is now, with four groups of approximately 75 bloggers each.  I am part of group ‘A’ and this month my posting date was on the tenth and I published a wonderful recipe for Levain Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies.   

IMG_1296e Sometimes bloggers sign up for the month and assignments are made but things happen and for one reason or another they can’t complete their assignment so as not to have a blogger left out and not have someone cooking from their blog, reinforcements are brought in and that is why I am doing a second Secret Recipe Club posting this month.  About a week ago, Amanda, the brain behind this group contacted me and asked if I could fill in and cook from a blog where the original assignee had to back out.  I of course jumped on the opportunity especially when I saw which blog I would get to cook from, Rhonda’s The Kitchen Witch

IMG_1297e Rhonda seems like a very cool lady who knows who she is, speaks her mind and doesn’t pull any punches.  She’s funny and witty and I love reading her posts.  Her tastes in food span the globe as do her travels and her pictures of it all, well they’re just gorgeous.  Our food tastes are very similar and a few of her recipes are virtually the same as the ones I make.  Rhonda makes grilled pizzas very much like my Blacksmith Pizzas, her Tiramisu and Hummus are almost identical to my recipes as is her Lemon Curd.  We both make Jalapeno Poppers but she has a very unique way of stuffing them which I’ll have to try the next time I make them.  Rhonda also makes one of Eammon’s favorite appetizers which I’ll only make for him once a year as she has the dish nailed when she calls it Heart Attack on a Stick.

IMG_1309e I was first drawn to Rhonda’s blog a few months ago when she posted a recipe for Roasted Butter Chicken which just looks beyond delicious and sounds super easy to make.  Right away when I found out that I was going to be cooking from her blog I knew, just KNEW that I was going to make that chicken for this post…but then I looked at some of the other recipes I had bookmarked from her blog and I was torn.  I adore asparagus and she has two recipes, Grilled Asparagus Wrapped in Boursin and Prosciutto and Grilled Asparagus Gruyere Tart which I know I would love.  I’ve also been eyeing her Chili Rubbed Pork Steak with Cilantro Lime Butter and Grilled Pineapple and if you read my blog at all you know that cilantro, lime and chili are favorite flavors here in the Cook Lisa Cook home.  Sometime around the holidays I’m planning on making Rhonda’s Brown Sugar and Smoked Sea Salt Brussels Sprouts as Eammon loves Brussels Sprouts and I’m always on the search for new and delicious ways to prepare them.  Then, how cute and delicious looking are her Mini Pizzatizers and how perfect they would be for not only a party but to put in Maisie’s lunch or for a snack at gymnastics practice.   

IMG_1320e In the end and after debating over which recipe to make I finally decided on Rhonda’s Thin Mint Irish Coffee.  It had turned cold and rainy here in Georgia and what better than a wonderful hot drink laced with booze to warm ourselves on a cold and wet night.  Plus does Eammon and that Irish face look like he’d ever say no to a good Irish Coffee?  Eammon declared the coffee gorgeous, perfect and brilliant so needless to say it was a hit, such a big hit that we’ve enjoyed a drink or two a few nights already and I’ll be making it again and again.

IMG_1302eMy cup runneth over!

Thin Mint Irish Coffee (Adapted from here)
For one drink

1/2 oz. Kahlua Mocha
1/2 oz. Crème de Menthe
1 oz. Irish Whiskey
1/2 cup strong coffee (I used Fresh Market’s Wake Me Up Before You Cocoa)
3 oz. whipping cream
1 tsp. Crème de Cacao
1 tsp. sugar
1 Thin Mint cookie, chopped for garnish plus a few for snacking
Green decorating sugar sprinkles

Mix Kahlua Mocha, Crème de Menthe, Irish Whiskey and coffee in an 8 oz. mug.  In a cold bowl whip together the whipping cream, Crème de Cacao and sugar until soft peaks form.  Top the coffee with the whipped cream and garnish with the cookie crumbs and sprinkles.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower

I adore eating roasted vegetables as they’re oh so healthy, I don’t add any additional fat and they’re full of flavor.  Maisie’s favorites are when I roast broccoli and cauliflower but we also enjoy roasted long beans, green beans and asparagus are my favorite.  Very simple and almost no clean-up so perfect any night of the week.

IMG_0584eRoasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, cut in florets
garlic powder

Pre-heat oven to 450F.  Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.  Wash the florets and allow them to stay a little bit damp.  Spread them on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with garlic powder, salt & pepper.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until they start to get a bit browned and toasty.  Enjoy hot or cold.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies

Yep, I’ve gone out and done it again and I joined yet another monthly cooking challenge.  I now participate in The Secret Recipe Club, the Crazy Cooking Challenge, Cook Around the Globe and now my newest, The Improv Cooking Challenge.  This challenge is hosted by Sheryl over at Lady Behind the Curtain and how this challenge works is, each month two ingredients are assigned and you can make any recipe of your choice as long as it includes those two ingredients.  For this, the inaugural month of The Improv Cooking Challenge Sheryl has chosen two ingredients which are perfect for this time of year, apples and caramel. 

IMG_1191eWhen I first saw the two required ingredients I knew immediately which recipe I would be making for the challenge as I’ve had Scrambled Hen Fruit's recipe for Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies saved in my “need to make” file since she first posted it almost a year ago.  It was another one of those recipes which called to me but I just never got around to making until this opportunity put it front and center. 

I did have one difficulty in making this recipe and that was, for the life of me I couldn’t find the traditional square wrapped Kraft Caramels anywhere locally and I was just itching to make the cookies so I decided to make them with Kraft Caramel Bits.  Then wouldn’t you know it, two days after making the cookies I spotted the Kraft Caramels and because the cookies were so delicious with the Kraft Caramel Bits I just had to make them again with the traditional caramels.  Though we loved the cookies with the caramel bits I do think that the traditional caramels worked better in that I ended up with a larger gooey caramel center but I’ll tell you, the bits were a darn good substitute and provided nice gooey bits in the cookie so either way these cookies were a hit. 

IMG_0955eFill a medium cookie scoop with the cookie batter.

IMG_1177ePress an unwrapped Kraft Caramel or

IMG_0956eSix-to-seven Kraft Caramel Bits into the center of the cookie dough.

IMG_0958ePinch the cookie dough to cover the caramel or bits.

IMG_1180eReady for the oven.

IMG_0960eGorgeous cookies hot from the oven.

I made a couple of changes to the cookie batter.  The first time that I made the cookies with the bits I mixed the batter up exactly as written on Scrambled Hen Fruit's blog and then I did my usual “quality control” taste testing of the batter.  The flavor was wonderful with the apple cider flavor shining through but then I thought caramel apple pie and decided to add some additional apple pie spices to give it more of that apple pie flavor.  The final batter was delicious and once baked everyone loved the flavors of the cookies.  When I made the cookies the second time with the traditional caramels I made one additional change, I substituted half of the granulated sugar with brown sugar just to bump up the caramel flavor a wee bit more.  I liked the batter and cookies best with the additional spices and the brown sugar and it would have been wonderful baked up on it’s own or with some toasted nuts or as I followed through and did, with the addition of the caramel.  Whether you choose to use the original recipe or one of my variations you’re looking at a fabulous tasting cookie.

IMG_0967eCookies made with caramel bits.

IMG_1193e Cookies made with traditional caramels.

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies  (Adapted from here) 

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 box (7.4 oz) Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink mix -not sugar free- all 10 packets (I found this in my grocery store near the hot chocolate mixes.)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract  
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice 
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
3 cups all purpose flour
1 bag Kraft Caramel Bits (11 oz.) or Kraft Caramels (14 oz.)

Preheat oven to 325F.  Line baking sheets with either a Silpat or parchment paper.  In the bowl of a stand mixer add the butter, sugar, salt and the contents of all 10 packets of Alpine Spiced Apple Cider and blend until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time mixing until incorporated.  Add the vanilla and blend until mixed.  Add the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom and flour and mix until well blended. 

Using a medium cookie scoop (1.5 TBS) fill the scoop level with the cookie dough.  While the cookie dough is still in the scoop, press either one unwrapped Kraft Caramel or 6-7 Kraft Caramel Bits into the center of the dough and then pinch the dough to cover the caramel.  Release the scoop of dough onto prepared cookie sheet placing about 2-inches apart. 

Bake 12-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. Please don't over-bake! Once the cookies are done, allow the cookies to partially cool on the Silpat or parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully remove from the Silpat or twist off the parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down (either on the parchment or on a rack.) The cookies can cool completely on the Silpat and they release without any problems but If you forget about them and they cool too much and stick to your parchment, put them into the freezer for a few minutes and they'll pop right off.

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen, depending on how large you make your cookies, how much batter you’ve “taste tested” and how many caramels you’ve snitched from the bag before you begin.  Store in an airtight container.

Once the cookies have cooked completely, to enjoy the nice soft caramel center again either set your cookie over a nice hot cup of tea to warm up the caramel or microwave the cookie for approximately 15 seconds.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy 6th Birthday Maisie Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

IMG_1146eTomorrow my sweet little Maisie Miao Miao will turn six years old.  I totally can’t believe that she’ll be six because I swear that it was just a year ago when she was 14 months old and we first saw her sweet little cue ball cutie face.  To celebrate her birthday Maisie has had a number of parties.  First was Friday when she had cupcakes with her USA Level 3 gymnastics teammates and then Saturday morning another round of cupcakes with her TOPs teammates.  Two hours later on Saturday afternoon Maisie had her “big” little party of pottery painting with her girlfriends who aren’t on team or in school with her.  We have one more party scheduled for tomorrow with her classmates then the “Maisie is six” birthday parties will be over and she’ll officially be six!

IMG_1090eFor Maisie’s pottery painting party she requested a pink zebra cake so that’s what my little girl got.  

IMG_0979e Maisie of course was a big help in making the Cream Cheese Frosting.

IMG_0985e She was an even bigger help in taste testing the pink frosting.

IMG_1000e Best of all she “cleaned” the mixer paddle for me.

IMG_1032e Maisie supervised as I made and assembled the cake.

IMG_1038eCrumb coat completed and Maisie “cleaned” the offset spatula, such a helpful little girl!

IMG_1142eAll the little cutie-patootie girls loved the pink zebra cake and everyone, including the adults thought it delicious.

IMG_1158e I had tried to make the cake zebra patterned and I can see hints of the pattern but I realize now that I should have used more batter in each scoop as I made my layers as they were too thin as they spread so it ended up more marbled looking…oh well it was still delicious.  The cake was beautifully moist and the Cream Cheese Frosting was wonderfully delicious and not overly sweet, just perfect!  The recipe I used for the frosting is my go-to favorite and I have been making it for years.  It’s simple to make, works well for spreading and piping and everyone thinks it tastes like cheesecake, a real winning recipe.

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened (I use regular full fat bricks of cream cheese)
1 cup salted butter, room temperature
1 TBS vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract 
4 cups confectioners sugar

In a stand mixer blend the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth.  Add the confectioners sugar and on medium speed beat until smooth and fluffy.  Add gel icing color of your choice, if desired and blend.


For the cake I totally cheated and used boxed cake mixes.   I used a 10x3-inch round pan so I used one box each of French Vanilla and Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mixes.  For the zebra top I used a Wilton sugar sheet which was simple and looked great.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Copycat “KFC” Coleslaw

For the most part I am not a fried chicken lover and on my own I don’t ever choose to visit KFC but Eammon does enjoy their chicken and I have found that I am quite fond of their coleslaw.  Since I’m not going to run to KFC every time I’m in the mood for some creamy coleslaw I had to figure out a way to get my fix when the craving strikes so after a little search of the internet I was happily making coleslaw at home that tastes spot on to the original.

IMG_0675eI am not linking to a source because you can find this recipe all over the internet.  Give it a try as it really does taste just like the coleslaw you’ll find at KFC. 

IMG_0676eCopycat “KFC” Coleslaw

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 TBS lemon juice
1 1/2 TBS white vinegar 
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
8 cups finely chopped cabbage (about 1 head)
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
2 tablespoons finely minced onion

Make sure cabbage and carrots are chopped up into very fine pieces (about the size of rice).

Combine the mayonnaise, sugar, milk, buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and beat until smooth.  Add the cabbage, carrots, and onion, and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

IMG_0892eSecret Recipe Club, Secret Recipe Club, Secret Recipe Club!  Yes it’s that time again, reveal day!  I absolutely adore participating in The Secret Recipe Club and because of it I have found some great cooking blogs and made some wonderful new recipes like Home Style Chicken Curry, Holy Guacamole, Cilantro Lime Chicken, Nutella Crêpes and Welsh Cakes.  Each month when I receive my blog assignment from Amanda I’m excited but this month I was wicked excited with my assignment as I got Amber’s Bluebonnets & Brownies.  I have been following Amber’s blog for what seems like ages and though I’ve never met her I feel like I know her through her writing and I love that we seem to have quite a bit in common.  First off the obvious, we both love to cook both savory and sweet foods.  Next, we’re both married to Brits, we both seem to have quite the addiction to our Keurig machines and we both seem to have some issues when it comes to pastry dough.  Though we have much in common, our lives are opposite in that Amber is a Texan now living up north and I’m a New Englander now living in the south but I bet if we were to meet in the middle we would have fun cooking together and would be great friends.  

As I said, I have been reading Amber’s blog for ages and I have so many of her recipes bookmarked it’s just crazy.  I don’t know why I haven’t made any of her dishes yet but as I’ve been assigned her blog I had no excuse and it was time to choose a recipe… and trust me it wasn’t easy.  If you haven’t visited Amber’s blog you need to take a look as she has quite the collection of Tex-Mex, Southern, and Midwestern recipes, the foods of her youth and all delicious sounding.  For me it was a tough decision in choosing just one recipe to make and highlight as my bookmarked list all seemed to be calling “make me!, make me!.”  Here are some of the wonderful looking and sounding recipes I have on my “to make” list:  Maple Sugar Bacon, Cheddar and Rosemary Scones which my bacon loving Maisie would just adore, then there’s her Rudy’s Creamed Corn recipe which just sounds amazingly wonderful but I fear that I would eat the entire batch so I’m saving this one for when I need to feed a crowd.  Here’s a little secret about me, I can eat sour cream by the spoonful as I adore the stuff and cinnamon is a favorite flavor for me so her Sour Cream Cinnamon Muffins are also on my “need to make” list.  She has a recipe for Nutella Cashew Brownies which sound decadent and wonderful as does her Pumpkin French Toast which would be perfect this time of year.  I of course love making my Blacksmith Pizzas and I have been eyeing her Quick Beer Pizza Crust since she first posted it.  One recipe which I am going to make very soon is her Apple Rhubarb Chutney as I have some rhubarb tucked away in the freezer for this one.  As I said, she has some awesome recipes on her site. 

In the end I decided on Amber’s Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies.  Amber adapted her recipe from another favorite blog site of mine, Lisa’s Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives and her Levain Bakery Copycat Cookie Recipe.  I have seen and heard so many wonderful things about the original cookies from both friends who have had them straight from the Levain Bakery and from various shows on the food channels so I have been wanting to make these for some time…So It was decided. 

IMG_0866eOh what can I say… These cookies were obscenely delicious, they had great height at just over an inch and the texture was wonderful.  The outside had a nice crispiness while the inside wasn’t quite 100% cooked so it was a bit gooey with a caramel-molasses flavor from all the brown sugar and then there was a creaminess from the chocolate chips, especially the milk chocolate chips and the added crunch of the toasted walnuts. these cookies were wonderfully divine and I though I’ve never had the original all I can think is, the original may be bigger but I can’t imagine that they could be any better in taste or texture than these. 

I had planned to make these cookies before we went away on our recent cruise.  I read through both Amber and Lisa’s posts and made some tiny changes to both of their recipes and mixed up a wonderful batter.  Then following Amber’s recipe I put the dough in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day I ended up being crazy busy between Maisie’s activities and preparing all the food, breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the desserts for the visiting & home Coaches as well as the Judges for the  gymnastics meet at Maisie’s gym, well… I just ran out of time.  So there the dough sat…covered in the fridge…while I went off for a week of cruising, all the while thinking about and hoping that the dough would still be good and work when I returned home. 

Once home I taste tested the cold dough numerous times, in fact so many times that I probably could have gotten another cookie or two from the recipe but I wanted to make sure that all was safe.  Since I didn’t die from all my quality control taste testing I decided that the dough was still good and safe for human consumption so I proceeded with making the cookies.  I couldn’t scoop the cold-from-the-fridge cookie dough so after reading all the additional notations on Lisa’s post, I allowed the dough to come up to room temperature so that I could easily scoop it, then I formed my scoops and popped them into the freezer for an hour before baking.  Freezing the dough seemed to work really well and now I know that I can whip up a batch of this dough, portion it out, freeze the scoops and when the craving for a hot and delicious cookie strikes I can pull little balls of goodness from the freezer and in 15 minutes I can be enjoying the best Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies ever!

IMG_0842eFrozen scoops of dough ready for the oven.

The real Levain Bakery cookies are very large but I decided to use my large cookie scoop which holds three Tablespoons of batter.  These cookies are delicious but very rich so this size cookie was perfect for us.  I ended up getting 25 cookies but as I said, had I not “quality control taste tested” the batter so many times I probably would have gotten another one or two cookies.

IMG_0859eThe cookies baked up beautifully and there was very little spread so the cookies kept good height. 

Check out the gooey centers and the soft smooth melted chocolate.  This recipe is a keeper and I can’t wait to try it again with some nut and chocolate variations.

IMG_0887e Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies (Adapted from here and here)

1 cup chilled butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large cold eggs
2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 TBS corn starch

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup toasted chopped walnuts

Put the white, light & dark brown sugars into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until combined. Add the cold cubed butter and continue to mix at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time.  Continue mixing until well incorporated. Add the all purpose flour, cake flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and corn starch and blend until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts by hand.  

At this point you can either continue making the cookies or if you’re like me, cover the dough and leave in the fridge for a week while you go on a cruise where you think and dream about the awesome cookies you’re going to finally make upon your return home.  If you do refrigerate the dough you’ll need to let it warm up some so that it can be scooped.

Using a large cookie scoop form the dough into nice scoops and place the scoops of dough on a parchment lined pan so that they are close together but not touching.  Place the tray of dough scoops in the freezer for at least one hour.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Distribute the frozen dough scoops, six to a pan, onto baking sheets lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Bake approximately 14-15 minutes. The cookies should be removed from the oven when they look slightly underdone as they will continue to cook as they cool. Depending on how much dough you taste test, the recipe makes approximately 26 cookies.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Chocolate Chip Gingersnaps

IMG_0544eMy friend Colleen posted a recipe for Chocolate Chip Gingersnaps and in her post she said, “The warm whoosh of molasses, ginger and a hint of cloves each time I opened the oven door today was pure heaven.”   Well I knew right then and there that I had to make her cookies as they would be perfect for this month’s Crazy Cooking Challenge where all the participating bloggers were challenged to search non-celebrity blogs looking for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe.  My kitchen did smell delicious as the cookies baked and made me think that I’ll have to make these again around the holidays because the smell and taste of these cookies had Christmas written all over them and plus, who can resist delicious gingersnaps with chocolate added to them?

IMG_0534eI did change Colleen’s recipe just a bit in that I only had half the amount of shortening she called for in the house so I also used butter.  Then instead of just rolling the cookie dough in sugar I added candied ginger to the mix which I really enjoyed.

IMG_0539eThese little beauties straight from the oven were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  I ended up with about 80 two-bite sized cookies so I froze most of them.  The cookies straight from the freezer are crunchy delicious but when fully thawed, they still had a crunch as well as a bit of chew.  Either way they were delicious and I would have to say, the ULTIMATE chocolate chip (gingersnap) cookie!


Chocolate Chip Gingersnaps (Adapted from here) 

3/8 cup shortening
3/8 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Half bag of mini chocolate chips

For rolling:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup granulated candied ginger

Cream together the shortening, butter, brown sugar, molasses & egg.  Add the flour, salt, baking soda,  dry ingredients and stir into molasses mixture.  Stir in the chips. In a medium bowl mix together the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the candied ginger.   Using a small cookie scoop form small balls and roll in the sugar & candied ginger mix.  Place the sugared balls two inches apart on a Silpat or greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375ºF for about nine minutes.  Immediately transfer to a wire rack to cool.


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