Tips and Tricks – Cookie Dough

Tips and TricksTwo years ago I was obsessed with finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I made about 20 different variations of different recipes and finally came up with this Chocolate Chip Cookie. It was easy, delicious, and everything you needed to make these cookies was probably already in your baking cabinet.

But I have a confession to make…I lied. It was just a little white lie, but it was a lie. They were not the best chocolate chip cookies I had ever made. They were the second best. The best cookies I had ever made were the NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies. But they high maintenance. You have to get cake flour and bread flour and they have to sit over night. Usually I want to just want to make the cookies and be done with them. (I am not very good at waiting). So, I made the decision 2 years ago to not go with this recipe…but now I am giving it to you.

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds chocolate chips (about 2 bags – I do 3/4 bag bittersweet and 3/4 a bag semi-sweet)
  • Sea salt

cookie doughDirections

  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

This recipe is pretty great. And even better…it taught me something very important about cookies. Cookies can be great when you make the dough and then immediately put them into the oven. But, cookies are even better when you let the dough sit over night. It allows the flour to absorb the flavor of the other ingredients and just gives it that little something extra. So today’s first tip is…tips and tricks

I know it’s annoying…but it really works. And if you don’t want to make the whole batch, you can keep some of the dough and make them later. So the second tip is…Tip 2The best way to do it is to use an ice cream scoop with a spring action release. Form the balls of dough and then put them in the freezer, making sure they are tightly wrapped in saran wrap.

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Homemade Graham Crackers

Homemade Graham CrackersI have always had a good relationship with graham crackers. They have served me well as afternoon snacks – pairing well with peanut butter or nutella. They have worked wonders in various pie recipes like my Banoffee Pie. And of course they always exceeded expectations when paired with a toasted marshmallow and a slab of chocolate – the inspiration behind my S’mores Bars and Campfire Bars. But they were never something I thought of making from scratch. They were always something you just bought at the grocery store. But now that I have found this recipe…I am never going back. My mother went so far as to say it was the best thing she had even eaten in her life. That’s right…IN HER LIFE. I don’t know if I would go that far…but it is definitely worth a try. There are two versions here…traditional honey and cinnamon sugar. Try them both!

Cinnamon Grahams

 GrahamsGraham Crackers

Recipe Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

  • 1 ½ Cups Flour
  • 1 ⅓ Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 Sticks Butter, Softened
  • ⅔ Cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 3 T Honey
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon (for cinnamon sugar grahams ONLY)Grahams

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat the butter, brown sugar, and honey until light and fluffy.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon together.
  4. On a low speed, add the flour mixture in two parts until just combined. Do not over mix!
  5. Cover a flat service with parchment paper and flour. Roll out the dough out to 1/8″ thick. If the dough is still sticky use more flour on the rolling.
  6. You can cut the dough in any shape you want. A pizza cutter, a cookie cutter or one of these fancy cutters we have that give you fancy edges. We did 2″ inch squares and a 2″ circle.
  7. Place the shaped dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and prick them with a fork. If making cinnamon sugar grahams, combine 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and sprinkle on top of grahams.
  8. Bake until brown on the edges, about 10-12 minutes. GrahamsGrahamsHoney GrahamsCinnamon Sugar Grahamstakemehome

 

Baked Blueberry Doughnuts

Baked Blueberry Doughnuts
In honor of our new obsession with doughnuts, we decided to try to make some for ourselves. And since we don’t have our own deep fryer, we tried for something a little lighter. These baked blueberry doughnuts will satisfy your craving for the delicious goodness of a store bought doughnut without all the guilt that comes with it. Not only do these doughnuts skip the trip to the fryer, but they also are packed with our new favorite super food – blueberries! Blueberries have been shown to help preserve vision, improve heart health and fight cancer. So now you can eat doughnuts and fight cancer at the same time. Sounds good to me!Blueberries
Ingredients
Donuts:
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup fresh blueberries
Glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp lemon zest (depending on your taste)
doughnutDirections
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a donut pan with non stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a smaller bowl, combine the sour cream, sugar until combined.
  4. Add oil, egg, and vanilla.
  5. Fold the sour cream mixture into the dry mixture, until just barely combined. It should still be a little lumpy.
  6. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  7. Spoon the batter evenly into a doughnut pan, and bake for 14 minutes or until just beginning to brown around the edges. Cool completely before adding the glaze.
Make the Glaze
  1. Place all  ingredients in a blender, chopper, or food processor, and mix until smooth.doughnutsdoughnuts4

doughnuts

Nom

 

and don’t forget to check out our National Doughnut Tour!

 

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Banana Bread

Banana BreadThis recipe comes form a Joy of Cooking magazine from the 1980′s. My roommates mom has been making this bread since before we were born…and as a result, my roommate will not eat any other banana bread. This is it. No matter how hard I try, she will not stray from what she knows. She knows what she likes and that is that.

Banana bread

Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1 1/4 cup mashed banana
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. saltBanana Bread

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a loaf pan with PAM and parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients and set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream shortening and sugar together until combined.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
  6. On a slow speed mix in mashed banana until thoroughly combined.
  7. Add dry ingredients and mix on a low speed until just combined.
  8. Place dough into prepared pan and bake for 50-65 minutes or until you can stick a knife in the middle and it comes out clean.

Banana Bread

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

PBchocolatechipAfter a large dinner last weekend, I made everyone in my family sit down for a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie taste test. And even though we had just eaten a big meal, there weren’t many protests when I said cookies. So, I have been working on finding a good recipe for a while now, and I wanted to make sure I found the best one. After testing a few different recipes, there were two clear favorites. So I am going to give you both recipes…and you can do your own taste test to decide which one you like better.

The Showdown

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip with Sea Salt

adopted by ambitious kitchen

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and sat. Set Aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, combine butter and peanut butter on high speed until smooth. Add both sugar and mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Next, bring the speed down to medium and add egg, honey, vanilla, and yogurt until combined.
  5. Put the mixer on the lowest speed and add the dry ingredients slowly just until combined.
  6. Take the dough off the mixer and stir in chocolate chips with a spatula.
  7. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes-1 hour (ideally the dough should sit over night – but I know it can get annoying to wait too long. But let them sit for at least an hour.)
  8. Once ready to bake, roll dough into 1-inch balls and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 9-12 minutes (depends on size of your cookie/your oven) or until cookies begin to turn slightly golden around the edges. Once you take them out, immediately sprinkle them with extra sea salt.
  9. It is VERY important not to overbake these. They will look slightly underdone when you take them out, but let them cool on the cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, on a high speed, combine butter and peanut butter until combined.
  4. Add both sugars and mix until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Lower the mixer’s speed to medium and add vanilla and eggs.
  6. Once the eggs and vanilla are combined, lower the speed and slowly add the flour mixture until just combined.
  7. Add oats and chocolate chips.
  8. Using a cookie scoop, drop the dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment about 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake for 8-11 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges.

 

and after much deliberation, the winner in my family was…

winner

although there were some pretty convincing arguments for the oatmeal. (My family takes food very seriously). But test them both and see what you think.

ENJOY!

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Vanilla Maple Granola

Granola-TitleGranola is my favorite way to start the day. Sometimes I pair it with yogurt or oatmeal, and sometimes I just eat it with milk. But over the years I have found granola can be used for so much more than breakfast. It really pairs well with a lot of things. I sprinkle it over a mid-day snack of apples and honey. I use it as a topping for my frozen yogurt. And sometimes I just grab a handful and eat it plain. It’s really an awesome thing to have lying around.Maple-Vanilla-Granola

And the great thing about making your own granola is that you get to pick and choose what goes into it. Always pick the raisins out of granola? Skip ‘em! Never enough almonds? Add some extra! It’s really great. You know where the ingredients are coming from (none of those preserving chemicals that are often found in the store bought stuff) and you get to dress it up any way you want!

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oatsMaple-Syrup
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup cranberries or raisins

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Put cranberries or raisins aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine rolled oats, almonds, pecans, coconut, brown sugar and salt. Make sure the brown sugar is evenly distributed and there are no big chunks.
  4. Add maple syrup and vegetable oil and mix until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.
  5. Evenly spread the mixture on the prepared sheet.
  6. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the oats become a golden brown color. Every 15 minutes, take the pan out and stir the granola around.
  7. Once the granola is done, let cool for 5 minutes and then add cranberries and/or raisins to the mix.
  8. Let cool and enjoy! In a airtight container, the granola is good up to two weeks.Maple-Granola

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White Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Balls

What a lovely treat In the past I have always called February 14th Valentine’s Day. It was simple, universal, and to be honest I had never really thought of calling it anything different. But this year, my friend introduced me to a new name, and I think it is so much better than the original. It really captures the true essence of the holiday, and the vast impact it has on our culture. So from now on, February 14th will be known as Men Panicking Day. Pretty great right?

I don’t know why, but for some reason this holiday seems to put a lot of pressure on men. If you don’t believe me, go into any candy/cupcake/bake shop on February 14th and just watch. I guarantee there will be more than one man running in for a last minute gift looking very stressed.

So in honor of this new name, I decided to make something simple for this special holiday. I took an old recipe and changed it up a little, and it turned out to be pretty great. So weather you are a man or a woman, panicked or calm, these White Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls are a great (and easy!) way to impress someone you love. WCPBB

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups thin pretzels crushed
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 4 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups good white chocolate

WCPBB3Directions

  1. Put pretzels in a plastic bag and crush into small bits.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine peanut butter, butter, brown sugar and salt. Stir until all ingredients are completely blended and smooth.
  3. Add pretzel bits to peanut butter mixture and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add powdered sugar and, again, mix thoroughly.
  5. Now take a spoonful of the mixture and form into a ball. (If the peanut butter starts sticking to your fingers, run your fingers under cold water, and begin rolling again).
  6. Place balls onto a plate or cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Put into the refrigerator to chill for at least 20 minutes.White Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls
  7. After the peanut butter balls have chilled, prepare your chocolate. (I would recommend using a nice white chocolate. That means no Nestle white chocolate chips – use something like Ghirardelli. Nestle does not melt very well and you will end up with a mess of burnt white chocolate.) Put the white chocolate into a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave the for 30 seconds and then stir. Then continue this microwave/stir routine at 10 second intervals until the chocolate is completely melted.
  8. Place one peanut butter ball into the melted chocolate and gently roll it around with a fork until completely coated. Remove from the bowl with the fork and place onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Repeat for all other balls.
  9. Once they are all coated, place them back in the refrigerator for another 20-30 minutes.

Decorating

After they are coated in the white chocolate, you can be done with them. But if you want to make them look extra special…here are two ways you can decorate.

1. Colored Splatter

Once you are done coating all the balls, use food coloring to dye the white chocolate the desired color. Only add a little bit of food coloring at a time. If you add too much it can turn the chocolate hard. Put the colored chocolate back in the microwave for 10 seconds so it is easier to splatter. Dip a spoon into the chocolate and then hold the spoon two inches over the balls and move your hand back and forth. Repeat until you cover all the balls. Place in the refrigerator for another 10-15 minutes. WCPBB5

2. Drawing with White Chocolate

When white chocolate is runny it is very easy to draw with, and once it is dry it can be used as decorations. You can put the chocolate into a piping bag with a tip or just draw with the edge of a fork or spoon. Draw whatever you want on a sheet of parchment. Once it is dry you can just peel it off the parchment and attach it to the balls with a little dab of melted white chocolate. But remember if you are doing letters – draw them backwards. You will want to use the back side of your drawing as the decoration because it will be nice and smooth. WCPBB4And here is the result! Enjoy!Happy-Men-Panicking-Day

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Campfire Bars

Itty Bitty Campfire Bars So as we’ve established…I really like s’mores. I think they are really great in every form. But this post is dedicated to my friend Abbi. As much as I like the chocolaty graham treat…this girl basically lives for a s’more. She is a pretty  healthy eater…so she is not going to waste her sugar intake on just anything. But you say s’mores and she is always game. For example…one summer, Abbi and her family decided to stock up on the Edy’s Limited Edition Summer S’mores Ice Cream so they could have the delicious treat all year around. They filled an entire freezer with just S’mores Ice Cream. Nothing else. They had over 60 quarts of ice cream…and it didn’t even last that long.
S'mores Ice Cream
But more importantly than Abbi’s love for s’mores…this recipe is dedicated to her because it is easily the most simple and delicious recipe I have ever made. Abbi likes to call herself a “baker in training”. She likes to bake…but she sticks with the slice and bake cookies and box cake. This recipe is about to change all of that. This recipe is totally made for a baker in training, and can all be done in one bowl. No real mess, and no real way to mess it up. So no matter how good or bad your kitchen skills are…you are going to be happy with how these come out.
Itty Bitty Bites
Itty Bitty Campfire Bars
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 10 full-size graham crackers, roughly chopped
  • 2 heaping cups of mini marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with non stick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
    3. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter about 1 minute on high power.
    4. Add brown sugar and mix until just incorporated.
    5. Add eggs, vanilla and whisk until smooth.
    6. Add flour and stir until just combined. DO NOT over mix.
    7. Give the graham crackers a good rough chop and add them to the mix. Make sure you get all the bits left over on the board. (Or you can do what I do and just crush them in the package they come in and dump the whole thing in.)
    8. Fold in marshmallows and chocolate chips. Make sure all of the marshmallows are covered with batter.
    9. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges have turned a golden brown.
    10. Allow bars to cool before cutting.Itty Bitty Bites

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