Hey kids! Fancy something sweet?
Boy do I have a recipe for you.
It all started out when I got home from L.A. this weekend after feting my mother-in-law for her 95th birthday.
Yes, 95. She’s a marvel.
Ruth is loyal, resourceful, brilliant, and generous– and her three sons wanted to celebrate nearly a century of living.
We rented out the private room at Chinois on Main, a Wolfgang Puck fusion restaurant in Santa Monica and settled on a menu with lots of intriguing appetizers like this giant lox hashbrown cake
and tuna tartare in tiny tuiles cones
and so much more– including lamb and lobster and seabass in miso and a dessert platter for each table.
We had so much good food in 48 hours
including these made-to-order Parker House rolls
and Little Gem Salads
and Lobster Rolls with fries.
Any day is instantly improved with lobster in it.
Anyway, a great weekend with lots of delicious food and family time.
Coming back into a very busy time is always a bit tricky, but at least we were happy to know that Pork Chop had been well taken care of at the home of his former foster family.
He looked confused why we put him in the car with his food and he seemed to hold onto my log lumbar pillow for security
but he came back happy and tired.
And I was eager to do a little baking– something I hadn’t done a lot of when I was on my Detox.
As it turned out, a friend called me yesterday morning asking me for my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.
I have so many favorite cookies I make on a regular basis, but other than the Tollhouse recipe and this New York Times recipe which may be the best– but require starting a few days before you need them, I was blanking on all others.
I told her I’d get back to her and flipped through some of my favorite cookbooks to see if any recipes jarred my memory.
Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa creates recipes that are fail-proof and crowd-pleasing, so I flipped through a couple of her books and was reminded of this recipe.
I sent my girlfriend the recipe and we both created it at home — her for a treat after her daughter’s play, and I made it for Oliver’s teachers and coaches who are working long hours to get both his Mock Trial and Constitution ready for the next round of competitions.
The recipe is easy enough (you can see it all above) and last year I stumbled upon the answer as to how to solve the butter-isn’t-room-temp-but-I-want-to-pull-together-a-batter dilemma. My microwave either defrosted irregularly or melted it at the corners, so that wasn’t working.
But making a biscuit one day with butter I stumbled upon a solution.
Grate the ice-cold butter on the largest holes of your box cutter and it will be ready to go almost immediately.
After that, the recipe is a cinch to pull together and other than the chocolate chunks, I’m sure you all have everything you need to bake these up.
The recipe calls for chunks and luckily Trader Joe’s has a wonderful brand that is inexpensive, tastes richly indulgent and the chunks hold their shape in baking.
Not familiar with these?
Check out their beautiful irregular shape.
I added a lot more chocolate than the recipe calls for and threw in a few big handfuls of semi-sweet chips, too; somehow the variety of cacao and sweetness in the chips/chunks makes for a more interesting cookie.
Here’s what the dough looked like (before I started nibbling on it).
I let it firm up a bit in the fridge before baking it (three hours was perfect but 20 minutes or so in the freezer would also work) and then I always use an ice cream scoop to portion out the dough before it goes into the preheated oven.
Here’s what they look like when baked and cooled slightly.
Here’s another tip: I always add a few chunks and chips on top of the cookie for the last two minutes of baking. This allows for a fuller looking cookie and chocolate in various stages of melting/cooking, allowing for lusciously loose rivets of chocolate adorning the top.
I almost always add large flake salt or fleur de sel to most every cookie I make — the little saline bites of crunch atop are my everything.
Interestingly enough, my girlfriend who’d asked for the recipe earlier dropped some of hers off and a side-by-side comparison was fascinating.
Hers were far buttery, crumbly, crunchy than mine while mine were chewier, denser, and with almost a butterscotchy vibe to it. Although I haven’t had a chance to ask her about her methodology, I’d imagine mine were denser because the dough firmed up in the fridge (she was trying to quick make them so she may not have done that), and I accidentally used convection on my oven resulting in almost a brown sugar caramelized flavor. (Perhaps her butter was softer, too?)
Let me tell you, they were both delicious and Oliver said the batch he brought to his meeting and coaches were gone in less than 30 seconds, and he’d not brought nearly enough (what is with teenagers?).
I doled out the rest to someone on a walk to the park
and then, just like that, these lovelies were gone. (Luckily, not forever– I stashed a bit in the freezer for a later treat.)
Do you know what goes really well as a cookie chaser?