Friday, February 28, 2020

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Baking is a Science

Chocolate Chip Cookies - made dough February 17, 2020 from Baking is a Science
I'm trying  to space out the chocolate chip cookie recipes but you'll notice I've been making them a lot. Different recipes, sure, but still chocolate chip cookies.
That's mostly because I'm sending them in care packages to deployed military service members and also for my sister (she's a realtor) when she does Open Houses and wants fresh homemade cookies to serve. Who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies? (If you raise your hand, don't bother, I can't see you.)
But being me, I almost always have to try out a new recipe when I need chocolate chip cookies. The good news is I can usually tell if a recipe will turn out so there's little risk. Plus I make my own adjustments to stack the odds for success: freeze the dough, bake from frozen dough, underbake.
The bad news? I make so many recipes that I usually can't distinguish one from another. If they're good, I give them away and move on to the next recipe. A recipe has to be REALLY GOOD for me to remember it a day later. Mostly because I bake chocolate chip cookies so often that even the good recipes blend in my head.
So don't take it as a bad sign if I say these were great but I probably won't remember them a day after I make them. They're good, they're great, they're like many other good/great recipes I've tried. Bonus points that  they didn't spread like some other recipes, even baking in high altitude with my oven.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 ounces) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar.
  2. Add egg and vanilla; mix only until just incorporated.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. 
  4. Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture; mix just until combined. If dough is dry, finish mixing by hand. Fold in chocolate chips. 
  5. Form dough into golf-ball size dough balls. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Bake or freeze after chilling.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space dough balls. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are set and middles no longer look raw.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Jenny's Sugar Cookies

Jenny's Sugar Cookies - made February 13, 2020 from Jenny's Cookies
This was my (lame) attempt at a Mardi Gras look. I say lame because a fellow angel baker on the Angel Baker team from Soldiers' Angels posted her super-beautiful, royal-icing decorated Mardi Gras cookies and I was floored. I'm not even posting a pic of hers so only I will know how lame mine looks in comparison, lol.
It's also kinda lame because all I did was sprinkle colored sugars in the Mardi Gras colors. That's the extent of my decorating prowess.
As for the cookies themselves, positive points that the dough came together well and was easy to work with, even for the rollout and the cookie cutting. Ultimately, this is a cookie that's best served as a base for an icing. It's not that sweet so it would be well served to be frosted or decorated with royal icing.
If you follow the directions to only bake 7-8 minutes, the bottoms will still be pale and the cookies will be a bit fragile. If you bake a few minutes more, long enough for the bottoms to be a pale golden brown, they'll be less fragile and - by definition - a bit more firm and chewy. Bake according to your preference.
These aren't that sweet and don't spread much so I'd recommend them more if you want a sugar cookie who'll keep its shape that you can decorate. But if you want a straightforward sugar cookie with great flavor, I'd still go with either the one from Butternut Bakery or from Easy Family Recipes.
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until combined and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
  4. On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix just until combined and flour has been absorbed.
  5. Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Press into a 1-inch thick disc. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured flat work surface to about 1/4" thickness, using additional flour as needed to prevent sticking. Cut into desired shapes and evenly space on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7-8 minutes until puffy. Let rest on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before transferring cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Bibingka baked in banana leaves

Bibingka - made January 17, 2020 from Pinoy Cooking Recipes
My favorite version of bibingka (Filipino cake) is the sticky kind but occasionally I will go for the more cakey version, mostly because I like eating it warm with melted butter slathered on top, sprinkled with sugar and topped with coconut. It's childhood comfort food.
I tried out this recipe and found it was right in between the sticky and cakey versions in terms of its texture. It wasn't quite cakey like with the Bisquick version I remember my mom making but it wasn't the full-on mochi-like texture of the sticky kind. It was right in between..
The texture is likely due to using rice flour rather than wheat flour so this is gluten-free if your leavening agents are also gluten-free. I think I like this version better than the cakey version with wheat flour (or Bisquick) because it doesn't have the dry mouthfeel you sometimes get with (overbaked or day old) bibingka made with wheat flour.
It wasn't as dense as I was expecting but the flavor was good, especially if you go authentic and bake it in a pan lined with banana leaves. Don't forget slathering it with butter while it's still hot from the oven then sprinkling it with granulated sugar and coconut. This is best eaten warm.

1 cup rice flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup whole milk
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking molds with banana leaves brushed with melted butter.
  2. Whisk together rice flour and baking powder; set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, on at a time, beating until combined after each addition.
  4. Add dry ingredients.
  5. Add coconut milk and whole milk, beating until smooth.
  6. Pour batter into prepared cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and top with grated coconut. Serve warm.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Levain Bakery copycat Chocolate Chip Cookies from 5 Boys Baker

Levain Bakery Copycat Chocolate Chip Cookies - made dough January 14, 2020 from 5 Boys Baker
I should've done the write up for these at the time I made them so I would've remembered them better and had something specific to say about them. Alas, I didn't so I don't.
But that only means this was a good chocolate chip cookie. They flattened too much for me to consider them a Levain Bakery copycat but I'm starting to realize my cookies are coming out flatter, regardless of the recipe, because of the higher altitude I'm baking in and my oven doesn't run as hot as my old oven back in the Bay Area used to.
It's taken me awhile to accept these outside forces so I haven't always remembered to compensate for them. Still, this was a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, even if it didn't stand out in a particular way. But that just means I've tried out a lot of good chocolate chip cookie recipes.

I do remember that I baked these and sent them in a care package for a deployed military service member on behalf of Soldiers Angels. I've been making chocolate chip cookies a lot for those care packages as I figure nothing says "home" like homemade chocolate chip cookies, especially when you're deployed. So that's why you've been seeing so many variations of different recipes for chocolate chip cookies on my blog lately. I've been trying them all plus making some of my favorite ones.

But I do have to stop considering these as Levain Bakery copycats if I'm not making them the behemoth size that Levain's does and I'm not adding walnuts to them so they wouldn't be a real copycat anyway. Just think of them as good chocolate chip cookies.

1 cup cold butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups walnuts, roughly chopped (optional, I left them out)
  1. Preheat oven to 410 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar for 3-4 minutes or until creamy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Stir in both flours, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Mix until just combined; do not overmix. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts, if using.
  4. Portion dough into 8 6-ounce balls and evenly space on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are set and middles no longer look raw (mine took over 15 minutes in my oven). Cool completely.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie - made January 9, 2020 from The Wholesome Dish
Trying to catch up from what I've made earlier but hadn't posted in chronological order. So I'm going back to early January when I was still cooking (spoiler alert: currently in my I-don't-feel-like-cooking part of the program).
I've always liked the concept of shepherd's pie: beef layer on the bottom covered by mashed potatoes on top. I don't eat it "outside", i.e. in a restaurant, that often because an authentic shepherd's pie often has vegetables like peas, carrots, sometimes beans, in the meat mixture. And picking those out of the pie makes the dish more work than it's often worth. But hey, when I make it myself, I can leave out the ingredients I don't like and only include what I do like, e.g. corn. I don't have any good pictures of this dish (ideally, it would be neat little squares with two distinct layers) but don't be put off by how it looks in my pictures. This was delicious. Even though it has two separate components and takes a little time to make, it's pretty tasty. Bonus that I already had those herbs and spices on hand, thanks to my past Penzey's orders.
Meat Filling
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 pound 90% lean ground beef
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 cup frozen mixed peas and carrots (I left them out)
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (I used canned)

Potato Topping
1 1/2 - 2 lbs russet potatoes
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened.
  2. Add the ground beef and break apart with a wooden spoon. Add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir well. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the ground beef is browned, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the flour and tomato paste. Stir until well incorporated and tomato paste is incorporated with no lumps.
  5. Add the broth and vegetables. Bring the liquid to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set mixture aside.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  7. Make the potato topping: place the potatoes in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are fork tender, 10-15 minutes.
  8. Drain the potatoes in a colander then return to the hot pot. Let the potatoes rest in the hot pot for 1 minute to evaporate any remaining liquid.
  9. Add the butter, half & half, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mash the potatoes and stir until the ingredients are mixed together.
  10. Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until well combined.
  11. Assemble the casserole: Pour the meat mixture into a 9 x 9 baking dish and spread in an even layer. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the meat and spread into an even layer.
  12. Place baking dish on rimmed baking sheet and bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Snickerdoodles from Just So Tasty

Snickerdoodles - made dough January 14, 2020 from Just So Tasty
This is a good, basic snickerdoodle recipe. It puffed up so promisingly in my oven while it was baking but then collapsed to a flattened state when I took it out. Now I expect a little collapse since I underbake my cookies but I wish they hadn't spread so much or collapsed so thinly.

I'm starting to figure out (finally) that it could possibly be baking at a higher altitude and that my oven doesn't get as hot as it should. I did buy an oven thermometer to check and I think my oven bakes unevenly. I need to do a little more testing but in the meantime, I'm starting to preheat it at a higher temperature than the recipe calls for and I keep it on an extra 5 minutes after it reaches the set temperature before I put the cookies in. We'll see if that works any better.

Or sometimes, it really is the recipe. Not sure of the case here. These were still tasty snickerdoodles but for a slightly thicker cookie, I'd probably still go back to my favorite recipe for snickerdoodles from Sally's Baking Addiction.

1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, baking soda and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
  5. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, 1/2 at a time, just until combined.
  6. In a shallow bowl, stir together the 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
  7. Form the cookie dough into golf-ball size balls, roll in cinnamon sugar and place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets.
  8. Bake for 7-9 minutes or just until the edges are set and the middles no longer look raw. Do not overbake.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Butter Pecan Cookies

Butter Pecan Cookies - made dough January 20, 2020 from Bonjour Cuisine
This is similar to a Russian Tea Cake or the Buttery Tea Balls recipe I like to use in that it's essentially a shortbread cookie with toasted pecans. The main difference is that you roll these in granulated sugar before baking rather than powdered sugar after baking.
For some reason, this cookie seemed sweeter to me than the other ones even though, objectively, this contained less sugar. Weird.
It was good but I think I prefer the more traditional variety of a Mexican Wedding Cake, rolled in powdered sugar right after baking, to give it more of that melting texture rather than the sweet grit of granulated sugar. Regardless of which recipe you use, toast the pecans and let cool before using for optimum flavor.
3/4 cup pecans, lightly toasted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for coating
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and 1/3 cup granulated sugar, until light, about 1 minute.
  3. Beat in salt, vanilla and flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl, just until dough comes together. Fold in pecans.
  4. Portion into dough balls. Roll in granulated sugar and flatten slightly with bottom of glass. Evenly space on baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar.
  5. Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Cool cookies on wire rack.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Irish Potato Bread

Irish Potato Bread - made January 10, 2020 from Bunny's Warm Oven
This recipe happened because I bought a bag of potatoes from Costco for the mashed potatoes at Christmas lunch and still had more than half a bag left over. I've always liked potato bread from when my mom made it as a kid. But her recipe used those mashed potato flakes and I wanted/needed to use real potatoes.
I also like baking bread in my cast iron skillet because a) I don't use my cast iron enough and b) cast iron skillets make great crusty bread. I was also going for that rustic, homemade look, not a neat Wonder-bread-loaf style of bread. Rustic and homemade are definitely what I got with this recipe. It has the added advantage of being no-knead so it was easy to mix together and bake. I think I could've baked it a little longer though as the inside was a bit heavy and mushy. But, still, it was pretty good even warm and slathered in butter. What bread isn't?? Next time though, I'd bake it a little longer.

3/4 cup cooked mashed potatoes
3/4 cup raw grated potatoes, skins peeled, grated, drained
1 egg
1 egg white
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place the mashed potatoes and raw grated potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until well combined. Add the egg, egg white, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, milk and oil to the bowl. Whisk until completely combined.
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir to combine. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until a soft dough forms.
  4. Lightly flour countertop, place the soft dough on top of it and knead 6-7 times. Gather the dough up and form into a ball. Place in an oiled 8-inch cast iron pan. Using a serrated knife, cut an x on top of the dough.
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes until golden brown on top.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sweetest Menu

Chocolate Chip Cookies - made January 12, 2020 from Sweetest Menu
This recipe is a slight departure from the regular chocolate chip cookie recipe in that it only has brown sugar and not granulated sugar as the sweetener. That (obviously) gives it more of a brown sugar/caramel flavor rather than just a sweet flavor.
As you can see, it also spread less. The addition of cornstarch makes for a softer texture but the edges crisped up just fine and still made for a chewy cookie.
I'll say this was good but it's hard for me to dislike a fresh, homemade chocolate chip cookie. Really.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
1 cup (190 grams) brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks, roughly chopped
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and egg, beating until just combined; do not overmix.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch and baking soda. Add to butter-sugar mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Fold in chocolate chunks.
  3. Form dough into golf-ball-size dough balls, cover and chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 360 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and evenly space dough balls. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are golden and middles no longer look raw.