Sunday, February 10, 2013

Making: Custom birthday goodie

A special mother/grandmother's necklace in fine silver (with lab grown ruby and amethyst stones) with the addition of a pendant celebrating her fifth year, cancer free. I am so fortunate to be a part of special family moments. Thank you Amy Q.

Blizzard Baking: Shaved Chocolate, Roasted Almond Cookies

Nice to have a few hours to work on a cookie recipe during the blizzard, and it's "not time to shovel yet, still snow" aftermath.

I had my heart set on chocolate chip cookies, but when I visited the baking cupboard I found 8 ounces of dark Callebaut chocolate that I purchased for baking at Christmas. (Then I got the stupid laryngitis-cold-thing that lingered, and when it came down to rest vs. bake - I chose rest. Or rather it chose itself.)

According to my Facebook and Instagram friends, chocolate chip cookies with Maldon salt were the hot item during the blizzard.  Having just done a salt test on pretzels during the Super Bowl, (and not having Maldon salt) I wasn't up for randomly salting a cookie. And yet, I wanted a salty-chocolately cookie.

I pulled out the ancient and honorable cookbooks. Books that have photos like these in them:

I knew I wanted a thin, slightly chewy, but still crispy on the edge cookie. (More sugar, less flour.) I worked out the basic chemistry, flour, butter, sugar, leavening, salt, egg, delicious chocolate -- and went at it. I found a handful of Trader Joe's less salt dry-roasted almonds in the snack cabinet, so I thought I would try those as my salt element.

Here's the recipe I hashed out:

2 sticks of butter (room temp, or for the lazy like me, 25 seconds in the microwave.)
1 cup brown sugar (I had light brown in the house)
3/4 granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups flour (scooped from the bag of regular King Arthur flour)
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 oz shaved dark chocolate
1/4 cup chopped dry roasted almonds (lightly salted version)

Pre-heat the oven the 375ยบ, oven shelves in the middle.

Using the stand mixer, I creamed the butter and sugars, then added vanilla and eggs. I sifted the flour, baking soda and salt, then mixed that it slowly.  Using a silicone spatula, I incorporated the chocolate and almonds. The batter looked like cookies and cream ice cream.

I used the big cookie scoop (about a tablespoon and a half) and put six scoops on un-lined, un-greased half sheet sheet pans. That was hard for me, I love my silpat mats, but needed crispy bottom on the cookie or it would collapse.

The first batch was in 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Chewy, but crispy. Me likey. I wanted more crispy, so subsequent batches went in for 14 minutes, turning the pans halfway through.

I'm really pleased with the taste and texture. Really chocolatey. I might try putting the chopped up nuts on top the next time I make these.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Blizzard baking: Bread

I like bread. I've written about it here before. And before that.

With the blizzard of 2013 bearing down I knew I wanted to make bread. So I pulled out Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, and prepped a bucket of dough. (Check out their website, it's awesome, they share so much info and many tips!)

I baked bread while the storm raged and the glorious aroma made being hunkered down against the wind and snow a pretty good thing.

I combined two of my favorite bread things. I LOVE the Artisan Bread recipe, and I LOVE the baking technique of the New York Times "no-knead" recipe. So I formed my loaf, let it rise for a couple of hours and then tossed it into a hot enamel roaster and ta-da, beautiful, delicious bread. Try it, you'll be happy you did.