Recipe

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Video Credit: Emily Chao Music Credit: Generationals

A great chocolate chip cookie has chocolate chunks, not chips. In fact, the original chocolate chip cookie was invented by Ruth Graves Wakefield in the 1930s completely by accident when she put chunks of chocolate in a cookie batter and hoped that the chunks would melt into the batter as it baked, ultimately resulting in a chocolate cookie. Instead, the result was what she termed the Toll House Cookie, named after the Toll House Inn that she owned at the time. Today, the variations on this cookie are numerous, just look at the cookie aisle in the supermarket. However, it is my personal opinion that a proper chocolate chip cookie should be devoured within 10-15 minutes of coming out of the oven while the chocolate is still melty and the center is still slightly gooey and warm. The edges of the cookie should be crisp enough that they crunch when you bite into them and there has to be a touch of salt to round out the flavor As with most things food-related, this is all a matter of preference, but I suggest you test out this recipe for a transcendental cookie experience.

Cookies require care when making them. You have to pay close attention to the way you prepare your dough and ingredients. For starters, have your butter and eggs at room temperature, this will ensure that the dough stays at a constant temperature while you make it and that all the ingredients can blend together harmoniously. The second, and probably most important thing is to pay attention to how you cream your butter and sugar. I will refer you to this excellent article on Cookie Science by Stella Parks. If you watch the attached video, you can see how much lighter the butter and sugar is after the creaming process. I like to cream my butter and sugar on low until it no longer looks sandy and then bring it up to medium/medium-high speed until it begins to have a pearl-like sheen. If you have read at Parks’ article, you will see that she also advocates scraping the bowl throughout the dough making process. This is absolutely key to making a great cookie dough. There is nothing worse than realizing that there are pockets of flour or uncreamed butter and sugar at the bottom of the mixing bowl when you are done mixing it.

Another CRUCIAL step in making chocolate chip cookies, or any cookies really, is letting your dough rest for at least 30 minutes in the freezer, or overnight in the fridge if you have time. If you bake off the dough straight from the mixing bowl, the dough will be too warm and will melt into cookies that are sad and flat. Since I really only like my cookies warm, I let my dough rest, weigh it all out, and keep the portioned cookie-dough balls in the freezer so I can have warm cookies whenever I want. Ok, enough from me, go forth and bake!

 

Salted Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

Note: I use sel guérande which a type of fleur de sel that has a bit of clay in it from the salt ponds it is harvested from. A large grain kosher salt, or sea salt would work well too but if you can get your hands on some sel guérande, buy it, it is absolutely beautiful as a finishing salt.

Ingredients:
8oz or 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
¾ c white sugar
¾ c light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract, or ½ of a scraped vanilla bean
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp large grain sel guérande/fleur de sel (alternatively, 1 ½ tsp kosher or 1 tsp fine sea salt)
200g 72% dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

  1. Sift flour and baking soda together, mix in salt and set aside.
  2. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping bowl occasionally to ensure that the mixture is even.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla, one at a time allowing each egg to incorporate fully and scraping the bowl in between each addition.
  4. Slowly add dry mix, scraping the bowl occasionally to ensure an even mixture.
  5. Add chocolate chunks and mix on low until incorporated.
  6. Refrigerate dough overnight, or for at least 30 minutes in the freezer.
  7. Portion dough into 1 ½” balls and place them 2” apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. If you love salt, sprinkle just a little on top of the cookies.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375°F or 190°
  9. Allow cookies to cool at least 10 minutes before eating and enjoy!

Mushroom Risotto

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Photo Credit: Emily Chao

Exciting news everyone! I am working with my friend Emily Chao to put some videos up on the blog. She is an incredible editor and you should definitely check out her website to see some of the amazing videos she’s shot and edited. If you’re in New York for the Tribeca Film Festival, be sure to check out one of the more recent projects she has worked on called Lemon.

We wanted to try something simple just to see how the lighting was in the kitchen, so I wasn’t super careful when I was making this risotto. Some of the more culinary savvy among you may notice that I added the wine before the rice (Quelle horreur!), but the risotto turned out quite nice anyway.

I used morel mushrooms in this dish because they were so beautiful at the green grocer, but any assortment of wild mushrooms will do. If you make this dish with vegetable stock, it can very easily become a great vegetarian dish, and I would even suggest adding some asparagus or fresh peas to the mushrooms while sautéing to make an even heartier meal.

You may not need all the liquid in this recipe, and don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work out the first time. Risotto is one of those dishes that you need to practice. A good risotto is slightly soupy and the rice grains should be distinguishable with a good bite to them, like pasta cooked al dente.

Mushroom Risotto
serves 3-4

8oz ariboro rice, rinsed
24 oz chicken or vegetable broth
4 tbs butter
2 shallots, minced
½ c dry white wine
1 c grated parmigiana-reggiano cheese, plus  more to finish
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced (I didn’t have any, but it really could have used some garlic)
Parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Bring broth to a simmer and leave covered over low heat to keep warm.
  2. Over medium heat, melt 2 tbs of butter in a large sauce pan.
  3. Cook the shallots with some salt and pepper in the butter until they are translucent.
  4. Bring up heat to medium-high and add the rice, stir for about 1 minute.
  5. Add the wine and mix until it is mostly absorbed.
  6. Bring the temperature down to medium-low hear and add the broth one ladle at a time. Stir the mixture occasionally and wait until the liquid is mostly absorbed before adding more, this should take about 30 minutes. Taste as you go to see if the risotto needs more seasoning.
  7. As the rice gets close to being done, sautee the mushrooms and garlic over high heat with the remaining 1 oz of butter until they are browned.
  8. When the rice has a nice texture, add the grated cheese and mushrooms. mix in and serve warm with a drizzle of good olive oil, a dusting of cheese and chopped parsley.

 

Sourdough BraveTart Bagels

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Bonus puppy shot of Archie hoping that I’ll drop this bagel.

This recipe is an adaptation of Stella Parks bagel recipe that replaces the commercial yeast with a wild-yeast/sourdough starter. If you don’t have a sourdough starter, use this King Arthur tutorial to get started! If you want to read about how I adapted this recipe check out this post. As this is a bread recipe, I am using gram measurements. If you don’t have a scale, I suggest Pebbly scale, or a similar flat-surface digital scale.

Starter:
I use whole wheat in the starter because it helps with yeast production, and I like the flavor. You can replace it with an equal measure of bread flour.

60g (~2 oz) mature 100% hydration starter
60g (~2 oz) room temp water
30 g(~1 oz) whole wheat flour
30 g (~1 oz) bread flour

Mix all the ingredients for the starter and let sit until it has reached peak activity, this can take anywhere from 8-12 hours depending on the activity of your starter and the temperature in your kitchen. If I am in a rush, sometimes I will place my starter in a warm place, or in the microwave with a mug of hot water. This can bring the time down to 5-6 hours. As with all things sourdough, patience is key.

Yukone:
100g bread flour
170g cold water

Mix the flour and water in a 10” skillet and mix over medium heat until enough moisture has evaporated so that it looks like mashed potatoes (roughly 2 minutes). Allow to cool for 30 minutes before making the dough.

Bagels:

295 g bread flour
15 g sugar
9 g salt
40g room temperature water
180g prepared starter
Yukone
1 oz malt syrup, for boiling

  1. Mix bread flour and sugar together in a large bowl. Mix water and starter together, mix in with the flour-sugar mix and the yukone. Mix until the dough is mostly hydrated but still slightly shaggy. Sprinkle salt over the top and let rest for about 15 minutes.
  2. Mix dough in the bowl with a sturdy spatula until the dough loses some of its shaggy texture. Then turn out on a clean and un-floured surface to knead with your hands.
  3. Knead dough for 5 minutes, it will be pretty sticky at first. After about 2 minutes of kneading, wash your hands so that there are no dough remnants on them and you will find that the dough will begin to regain its structure.
  4. Divide dough into 6 pieces for larger bagels, or 8 pieces for smaller ones. If you want to relive your childhood, you can even follow these directions to make mini bagels for bagel bites.
  5. Shape pieces into tight balls by rolling them on the counter, you can look at the original recipe for a video tutorial. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes.
  6. Perform the final shaping on your bagels, either using the stretch-and-poke or roll-and-loop method. I would recommend roll-and-loop, but it is entirely up to you and what you feel comfortable with.
  7. Place shaped bagels on a well-greased, parchment-lined half sheet pan, cover loosely with plastic and leave in the fridge overnight for 8-12 hours. Allow the bagels to rise at room temp for 2-3 hours before boiling.
  8. Preheat the oven to 425F(218C) and make sure the rack is in the lower-middle position of the oven.
  9. Fill a large stainless steel pot with about 3 inches of water and add the malt syrup. Bring water to a boil and add the bagels into the pot, two or three at a time. Your bagels should float, if they do not give them a little nudge to make sure they haven’t stuck to the bottom of the pot and they should rise right up. Boil for 30 seconds on each side. Pat briefly with a paper towel, and pace on a parchment-lined half sheet pan.
  10. If you want to add toppings to your bagels (sesame seeds are my favorite), you can fill a bowl with your preferred topping and dip the top of the bagel in. The toppings should stick right to the bagel.
  11. Bake bagels until they are blistered and browned, 20-25 minutes, cool for 15 minutes before breaking into them. Top with your favorite condiments and store the leftovers in a paper bag for up to 48 hours.

Enjoy, and feel free to message me with any questions or problems you encounter.

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Bagel on, my friends.

Banana Coffee Cake with Mexican Chocolate Streusel, ft. Mexican Chocolate Donut Glaze


Baking is a source of meditation for me. When I begin to feel overwhelmed, I drop everything, dive into a baking project and emerge, fully refreshed. The problem is that my husband and I can only eat so many pastries, so I have to find somewhere to send all the baked goods when I am done.

This recipe, like many that I come up with, was a result of feeling the need to use up ingredients I didn’t want to go to waste. I had received some cast-off bananas and had a surplus of chocolate donut glaze from trying to refine my donut recipe, so I decided to come up with something to bring to my fellow MA candidates who were facing a similar level of paper-writing induced stress rather than toss them out. We have some nut allergies in the group, so I wanted to find a way to bring the crunch of nuts to banana bread without killing my colleagues. Luckily, my experiment succeeded, and the result was a delightfully moist coffee cake with a nutty (though nut free) Mexican chocolate topping.

A few notes on the ingredients:

When I say butter, since I am in France, I am using European butter. I do not think this is necessary for the recipe. However, European butter has a much higher fat content than American butter, and I feel it is necessary to let you know that it might change the recipe a bit.

Also, the cinnamon I am using is Ceylon cinnamon because it is all I can find here. I do recommend using it for this recipe as the flavor works much better with chocolate than the cinnamon traditionally used in the States. I have found Ceylon cinnamon in whole sticks at Mexican markets in the States, but if you do use a “regular” cinnamon I would suggest reducing the amount by ¼ tsp.

Important Banana information: If your bananas don’t look like this: they do not belong in any type of banana bread/cake. The bananas must be over ripe and have developed enough sugar (the black spots indicate increased sugar levels) in order to work, otherwise they will dry out what you are making. If you need to ripen bananas quickly, you can place them in a brown paper bag near a heat source. Also, don’t puree the bananas, it may just be a matter of preference, but I feel that mashing the bananas gives the bread/cake a better texture

 

Mexican Chocolate Donut Glaze

1 can condensed milk
5 oz semi-sweet or 70% dark chocolate, chopped
1 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground chipotle
1/8 tsp salt

Heat condensed milk over medium heat, stir constantly until boiling. Remove from heat, add chocolate and spices and mix until all the chocolate is melted and it is smooth. Keep warm to glaze donuts or cakes with.

Banana Coffee Cake with Mexican Chocolate Toffee Streusel

Streusel

½ c butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 ¾ c flour
1 c packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
¼ tsp clove
¼ tsp chipotle
½ cup cold Mexican chocolate glaze, in tablespoon-sized portions reserve
½ c glaze to drizzle over the top of the cake

  1. Mix the flour, brown sugar and spices together in a bowl.
  2. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, food processor, or using a pastry cutter place all the ingredients together. Make sure to separate the Mexican chocolate into tablespoon-sized portions.
  3. Mix the ingredients until they resemble this picture:

Note: you may need to use your fingers to break up some of the butter, I would recommend using the pastry cutter method, it takes longer, but I was worried about over mixing the streusel when I used my stand mixer. Because the addition of the Mexican chocolate glaze, you run the risk of the mixture clumping up together very quickly. You need to be very careful when making this, but the toffee-like crunch it offers to the cake is worth the trouble!

Banana Coffee Cake

2 ¼ c flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt ½ cup (4 oz) butter, softened
1 ½ c sugar
½ c maple syrup
2 eggs
1 c yogurt
1 tsp Mexican vanilla (traditional vanilla will work too)
3 ripe bananas

  1. Grease and line a 9”x13” pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.
  3. In medium bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher, and then mix in the maple syrup, vanilla, and yogurt, set aside.
  4. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, scrape bowl and then add the banana mixture.
  6. Scrape the bowl again, and make sure there are no large chunks of butter and sugar that have not been incorporated.
  7. Slowly add the dry mix and mix until incorporated. Be sure to mix briefly by hand to make sure the batter is even.
  8. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle 1/3 of the streusel over the top, pour the remaining half of the batter over the top, and then sprinkle the rest of the streusel over the top.
  9. Bake for 50- 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Drizzle the remaining 1/2 c of glaze over the top of the cake.
  11. Allow to cool and enjoy!

This cake is very moist and if it is wrapped in individual pieces it maintains its freshness for 2 days after baking, provided you can resist eating it all!