Chocolate Lover’s Cookies

Wow, what a crazy month. I had my mind blown during a week-long crash coarse in statistical methods for astronomers, my stomach challenged while visiting home the following week (A big thank you to everyone who took me out/joined me for dinner in VT! Love you guys and not only because you feed me Thai food, haha), and my sanity tested upon return to Nova Scotia when it seemed like anything that could go wrong spontaneously decided to do just that.

In the last few weeks we found out we had missed the application deadline to renew our lease (we never received the email) and were told our apartment has been reserved for someone else (we have about 3 weeks until we’re out), I fell behind in my research report and had to turn in the first draft painfully short a few sections (nothing worse than knowing how much better you could have done), and I apparently failed at my effort to be responsible with my phone while traveling abroad (turned off data, roaming, texting, bought U.S. minutes, etc.) since it was shut off yesterday with an overcharge of $250 CAD. When it rains, it pours.

BUT the moments of panic have receded and I’m starting to get back into the swing of things: the Canadian‘s in charge of finding our new place, research is on a roll, and – with a very painful account transfer – the phone bill was paid. Plus, there’s nothing some good scratch-baking can’t fix! So, now let’s move on to much more fun and *cough* inexpensive things like…

Chocolate Lover’s Cookies (from My Baking Addiction)

Ingredients:

½   C   unsalted butter, softened (or 1 stick)

¾   C   granular sugar

1   egg

1   t   vanilla extract

1   C   AP flour

1/3   C   high-quality cocoa powder

¼   t   baking powder

¼   t   baking soda

1    pinch of salt

1   C   semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus extra for topping

Procedure:

1) Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and the egg until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet about a third at a time until incorporated – the dough will be very dry. Add chocolate chips and give it a few more good stirs.

2) Take rounded teaspoons of dough and shape into balls with your hands. Flatten balls into disks before placing on the cookie sheets. Bake for 5-8 minutes or just until set (careful here, it’s very easy to overbake them as they’re so dark!). Let cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack. As cookies are cooling, gently press a few extra chocolate chips to the tops of each.

Beezer’s Notes:

These are some serious chocolate cookies. They are perfect for those annoyingly persistent cravings, midnight indulgences, and gifts – as they are quite hearty and travel well. The extra chips on top are brilliant since they not only squeeze in as much chocolate as humanly possible, but also make these some of the most adorable cookies I’ve ever had the pleasure to bake. Move over, Chocolate Cloud Cookies: we’ve got a new recipe in the house!

Overall Enjoyment:   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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S’more Pie!

Yes, this post deserves an exclamation mark after it (just like the Bagels!) because I have been waiting years to make a s’more pie. My delay wasn’t for any of the normal reasons like intimidation or cost, but because I hadn’t found the perfect combination of recipes to help me put together my s’more pie vision. There are plenty of s’more pie recipes out there and most of them look really tasty …but instead of the usual crumbly graham crust I wanted a crust with some muscle, I wanted a chocolate filling that would stay sliced rather than puddle (à la French silk pie), and I absolutely had to have a billowy, huge marshmallow topping. I know, I can really be demanding sometimes.

However, I have finally found the winning trinity of hearty crust, thick filling, and billowy topping from Lovin’ From the Oven, Smitten Kitchen, and ButterYum respectively. Since I was creating a new patchwork recipe, my proportions turned out to be a bit off…  UPDATE: I’ve made the pie again, exactly as I outlined below, and it was perfect! I’ll warn that the graham cracker crust recipe makes nearly double the amount you’ll need. However, I decided not to halve the crust recipe since 1. it would be awkward to ask you to use ½ an egg and 2. the marshmallow topping also leaves you with extra (depending how high you pile it on), so you can just make another pie if you choose or simply freeze the dough for later…OR make mini pies!

Finally, for those of us without kitchen torches, you can toast your marshmallow topping using the oven broiler – just be sure to keep a sharp eye on it. You’ll be able to smell that amazing toasted-marshmallow aroma around the time the topping is a deep golden brown. The second time I made this I also piled the marshmallow on in a tiered fashion with a flat top. The curls on the first looked pretty, but also made it difficult to brown evenly without a torch. And yes, I’m sorry, I did make this over a month ago but between the Hummingbird Cupcakes and Sloppy Joes I thought I’d give you a few healthy dinner ideas before sharing this baby …cause, boy, you’re going to want it all to yourself!

S’more Pie

(adapted from Lovin’ From the Oven, Smitten Kitchen, and ButterYum recipes)

Ingredients:

For the Crust…

½   C   unsalted butter at room temp.

¼   C   brown sugar

¼   C   sugar

1   large egg

1   t   pure vanilla extract

11/3   C   AP flour

¾   C   graham cracker crumbs

1   t   baking powder

¼   t   salt

For the Filling…

14   oz.  fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (around 70% cocoa), finely chopped

2   C   heavy cream

2   large eggs, at room temp. for at least 30 minutes

For the Topping…

8   large egg whites

2   C   sugar

½   t   cream of tartar

2   t   pure vanilla extract

Procedure:

1) For the crust: preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light then beat in the egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour blend to the butter blend and mix at low speed until combined. Press dough one handful at a time into deep dish pie pan, making sure to cover the sides well but keep in mind the dough will rise: mine ended up a bit too thick the first time around. Aim for about ¼” in thickness. Ball up the remaining pie dough, wrap in plastic-wrap, and freeze for later use (will last up to a month). Weight the dough for blind-baking using either pie weights or dried beans/rice and bake for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow pie weights to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing and letting the base of the pie air for at least another 5 minutes more. Turn oven down to 325°F but leave it on.

2) For the filling: Place chocolate into a large, heatproof bowl and bring cream to a boil in a saucepan – being careful not to scald it. Pour hot cream over the chocolate, let it stand for 1 minute, and then gently whisk until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Gently whisk in the egg and a pinch of salt until combined, then pour into graham cracker crust (if you aren’t using a deep dish pie pan, be careful not to overflow the container!). Bake for 40-45 minutes or until filling is softly set and still jiggles in the center if gently shaken – the filling will firm up as it cools. Let pie cool to room temperature, about 1 hour if left on the counter or 20 minutes on the counter followed by 10 in the fridge (I’m not the most patient person, just make sure to set the pie pan on an oven-mit and not directly on plastic).

3) For the Topping: In the last 10 minutes or so while the pie’s cooling, place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a heatproof – preferably metal – bowl and set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the whites are warm to the touch, about 3 minutes. Remove bowl from saucepan and beat the mixture, starting on low speed and gradually increasing, until soft glossy peaks form – about 5 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Immediately pile topping onto pie, mounding as much on as can reasonably fit. Use a kitchen torch to brown the marshmallow or place pie back in the oven on the middle rack, turn on the broiler, and watch the pie until topping has toasted and turned a light golden brown. Serve immediately.

Beezer’s Notes:

I’m so glad I waited for the right combination of s’more pie perfection because this pie is everything I imagined it would be: a solid but clearly graham cracker crust, rich smooth dark chocolate filling (that’s slice-able!), and a giant mass of marshmallow-y goodness on top! This pie has the flavor and texture of a s’more (yes, that topping is just as sticky haha) but in a drool-worthy deep-dish form. Unfortunately, the only sliced shot I was able to get was via my iPhone at the office party, but you can still see it here. I guarantee you this will be the s’more pie of your dreams. 🙂

Overall Enjoyment: ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Chocolate Cloud Cookies

Well the workload has definitely begun to swamp me again. I sat in front of my office computer for no fewer than 19 hours this weekend and am beginning this week feeling both exhausted and stir crazy. It’s an unpleasant combination that I’m sure any student or cubical rat is familiar with. I’m determined to get to the gym this evening, even if it means falling a bit more behind. I’m also trying to convince my man to make one of these for me, haha, but I’m not holding my breath.

The silver lining to this weekend was that I was able to get in some show tune sing-a-longs. See I love musicals, theater, and Disney songs of all sorts. The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack makes a regular rotation on my iPhone, along with the soundtracks from Chicago, Once Upon a Mattress, Hello Dolly, and – of course – Wicked. Being in a large office space alone at 1 in the morning means you can belt out Defying Gravity to your silly heart’s content – which I did… many times. Who says Science and The Arts can’t go together? 😉

Speaking of going well together, I recently discovered that chocolate and meringue compliment each other more so than I would have thought. Brad and I were both craving chocolate cookies the other day, but I had run out of both chocolate chips and butter. Searching for a cocoa-based dairy-free cookie recipe I was lucky enough to discover these. Now, I have to warn you that my cookies, while very good, didn’t turn out the way Heidi described: where she got gooey chocolate puddles I got crunchy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside, satisfyingly thick mounds. She does warn that baking time can be finicky and that leaving the dough out to dry can influence results. I’m guessing that the combination of those plus my mini-oven were the cause of “chocolate puddles” turning into – what I’ve decided to call – “chocolate clouds”. I’m not disappointed. My cookies married the best of chocolate and meringue-lovers’ worlds. Still, I’d be curious to see how this recipe replicates for others. Let me know if you try them please!

Chocolate Cloud Cookies (minimally adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

Ingredients:

3   C   whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

4   C   confectioner’s sugar

½  C plus 3 T   unsweetened cocoa powder

pinch of salt

4   large egg whites, room temp (preferably free-range)

1   T   pure vanilla extract

Procedure:

1) Preheat the oven to 300°F and line at least 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. The source recipe warns of these babies spreading out like puddles, but mine never did. Still, just in case, you might want to give them extra elbow-room.

2) Sift together sugar, cocoa, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the almonds, then add egg whites and vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until well combined.

3) Spoon mounds of about 2 Tablespoons of dough each onto prepared baking sheets leaving some extra space between the cookies just in case. Bake until cookies puff up, and the outsides have become glossy and have cracked – 15 to 20 minutes. Once baked fully, slide the parchment paper with cookies still attached carefully onto wire cooling racks. Trying to remove the cookies from the parchment before they have fully cooled will cause the bottoms to rip off and you’ll be left with a shell of a cookie.

4) Serve cookies with a tall glass of milk and a Valentine’s Day card to your loved ones!

Beezer’s Notes:

These cookies blend the light chewiness of meringue with satisfying rich cocoa flavor and crunchy nuts. They are even better dunked in milk and – dangerously – can be eaten by the pile. Another bonus is their incredibly short ingredients list. Plus, if you choose to sub in dried fruit or chocolate chips for the nuts you can have a gluten-free*, dairy-free, and nut-free cookie! I’m actually thinking of trying these with dried cranberries and walnuts for tomorrow – giving these babies little speckles of red for Valentine’s Day.

*If you’re going for the gluten-free variety, make sure to buy pure cocoa powder. Cocoa powder itself is gluten-free, but many brands include additives that contain gluten.

Overall Enjoyment:   ♥   ♥   ♥

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