Friday, July 29, 2022

Gemma's Best-Ever Brownies from Bigger Bolder Baking

Gemma's Best-Ever Brownies - made July 23, 2022, modified from Bigger Bolder Baking
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups chocolate chunks
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 9 x 9-inch baking pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine melted butter, oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and salt, whisking until combined.
  3. Sift in flour and cocoa powder, mixing until just combined. Do not overmix. Fold in half the chocolate chunks.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Generously top with remaining chocolate chunks. Bake 35 - 40 minutes (mine baked just over 50 minutes) or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs, not raw batter. Let cool completely.
I must say, I'm starting to enjoy trying out all these new brownie recipes that primarily use cocoa powder rather than unsweetened chocolate as the chocolate base. I'm still hoarding my remaining unsweetened chocolate as I'm unlikely able to order the high quality stuff online until the summer months and triple digits temps have passed. So no replenishment possibilities for at least a good 3-4 more months. Eeek.
In the meantime, I'm finding really good substitute recipes to use, including this one from Bigger Bolder Baking. Her original recipe called for baking in a 7 x 11 pan which I don't have. Normally, when you substitute pans, you simply multiply the dimensions (7 x 11 = 77) and find something close like an 8 x 8 pan = 64 or a 9 x 9 = 81. In the case of this recipe, I went with the 9 x 9 pan and it baked the brownies to a perfect thickness.

I liked this recipe. The brownies came out soft and fudgy but not mushy. I didn't underbake too much this time although they did bake a good 50 minutes and change in my oven. The key to baking brownies "just right" (which means slightly underbaked and not dry) is to take them out when a toothpick inserted in a corner comes out clean but one inserted in the middle comes out with a few moist crumbs.
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder is a lot so make sure you're using a good quality cocoa. I still have some of the cocoa powder from Chef Shop which used to be the Pernigotti cocoa I always used. It's a dark rich cocoa powder which can be a little overwhelming if you use the full cup measure. I cut it with half the cocoa powder from Costco which isn't as dark and rich but is certified fair trade so I combine the two to get to a perfectly rich but not overwhelming or cloying dark chocolate flavor. It worked great in these brownies.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Crumbl Cookies review #25: Chocolate Toffee Cake, Peanut Butter Munch, Strawberry Pop Tart, Double Fudge Brownie, Lemon Cupcake

Crumbl Cookies review #25: Chocolate Toffee Cake, Peanut Butter Munch, Strawberry Pop Tart, Double Fudge Brownie, Lemon Cupcake - visited July 16. 2022
I said in my last Crumbl review that I was going to skip Crumbl for awhile. And I had every intention of doing so but my mom, knowing how much I like Crumbl, said her birthday gift to me would be Crumbl cookies. Okay. Who am I to say no? Thanks, Mom.
At least I did let almost two weeks lapse though. Meaning I got cookies on a Monday the week before and on Saturday the following week. Which is the longest period you can go without skipping a week since Crumbl is closed on Sundays. I wasn't interested in all of the week's flavors but I asked my niece which ones she and her boyfriend wanted. They asked for the Chocolate Toffee, Peanut Butter "mystery cookie" (it was the Muddy Buddy the day I went to my local store) and Strawberry Pop Tart. I only wanted the Lemon Cupcake but I also got the Double Fudge Brownie. To round out the 6-pack, I got an extra lemon as I figured either my mom or my niece would want that one.
Chocolate Toffee Cake ft Heath
Although I did drop off 4 of the 6 cookies with my niece, I did get a taste of the Chocolate Toffee Cake ft Heath (all in the name of blog research of course). I liked the cookie base of this one in terms of flavor and you can't go wrong with toffee bits. I didn't care for the whipped cream icing and would've preferred either a straight buttercream or a ganache. I wouldn't get this one again because of the whipped cream. You'll also notice from the picture that the toffee bits topping was a little wonky, like they decided to only top half the cookie, lol. I don't sweat the small stuff like that though and didn't ask them for more toppings. The employees at my local Crumbl store are always pleasant and friendly and I care more about that than how loaded my cookie toppings are (or are not).

Peanut Butter Munch ft Muddy Buddies
I can't tell you how the peanut butter cookie was since I didn't try it but here's what it looked like inside and out.

Strawberry Pop Tart
I didn't try the Strawberry Pop Tart either. There seems to be inconsistency across the different Crumbls how much strawberry filling is inside. You can see the one I got didn't have much. My niece's boyfriend said it didn't really taste like strawberry pop tart since it didn't have a lot of strawberry. Both he and my niece thought it was good but "basic".
you can barely see the filling

Double Fudge Brownie
I did keep the Double Fudge Brownie for myself although by the time I tried a piece, it had already cooled. The outer edge of the cookie was fragile and broke off when I picked up the cookie. It was good although it had a slightly dry mouthfeel. Towards the middle of the cookie was fudgy perfection though. I tried just enough to confirm it was a nice chocolatey cookie. Not sure I'd get it again but it was good.

Lemon Cupcake
I did enjoy the Lemon Cupcake. I love lemon cookies and I love cakey sugar cookies. This delivered on both fronts. Mine was nicely tart and lemony. I didn't need all that frosting but I loved the cookie.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Ultimate Chocolate Cookies from Baking with Blondie

Ultimate Chocolate Cookies - made dough July 12, 2022 from Baking with Blondie 
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, cold
1 tablespoon vanilla 
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 410 degrees F (not on a convection setting). Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter for 1 minute until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar; cream together for 3 minutes on high speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to keep mixture even textured.
  3. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Add flour, cocoa, cornstarch, baking soda and salt, mixing on lowest setting until just combined. Do not overmix.
  5. Reserve a handful of each type of chips then fold in the rest into the cookie dough.
  6. Portion dough evenly into 8 large dough balls. Hand press the reserved chips over the dough balls and evenly space 4 cookie dough balls onto each sheet.
  7. Bake for 9-10 minutes then remove from oven and let rest on baking sheets for 1 minute. Transfer to wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Where are my chocoholics? Break out your baking sheets because you're going to want to make these cookies right now. And unlike 99% of the cookie recipes I post, I'm going to give you the good news that you don't even have to chill or freeze these first to get a chubby cookie. Yes, they'll still bake nice and thick.
I made this cookie dough in hot (>100 degrees) weather and the dough still handled beautifully. Not too soft or sticky but just right. Of course you do have to start with butter cold from the refrigerator but even better because you don't have to wait for the butter to soften to room temperature either.
They may not look "that thick" in these pictures but that's just the angle of the photos. Trust me. Or don't trust me but scroll all the way to the last picture of this post to get the full view of the inside and the thickness. And that cookie was the test cookie I baked as soon as I made the dough, without chilling it.

I only baked off one test cookie when I first made the dough. I portioned out the rest and froze those to bake later when I was making up care packages for Soldiers Angels.  I followed the original recipe directions to only make 8 cookie dough balls. Because you want these big.

In fact, each cookie was so big that I only ate half of the test cookie after baking and cooling. Never fear though, I went back for the other half the next day. It was so good. Perfectly chocolate with that thick-cookie texture I love. 
A few cautionary notes: do bake these at 410 degrees. Yes, that's high for cookies but it's how to get the outside to set and have a crust while the inside remains soft and fudgy. The downside is your chocolate chip tips will burn a bit. Either tuck them, tip side in, into the dough or else don't do what I did and stick the chips on top before baking. Wait until after they come out of the oven then swarm those suckers with chips all over their domed tops.
Second cautionary note is you might be tempted to leave them in longer than 10 minutes, thinking the cookies couldn't possibly have baked long enough. I was afraid of that too. But see the fissures in the cookie around the edges (in the picture above)? That's done enough. 
Besides. when the cookies cool completely (and please let them cool to get the fudgy texture), they'll set and give you the best texture. The last picture says a thousand words.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Cookies and Cream Cookies from Kroll's Korner

Cookies and Cream Cookies - made dough July 9, 2022, modified from Kroll's Korner 
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cold, unsalted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
15 Oreos, roughly chopped
1 cup white chocolate chunks
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, cake flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk, mixing until just combined. Add in vanilla and mix until just combined.
  3. Add dry ingredients in two additions, mixing until just combined after each addition. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl to keep even textured. Do not overmix. Fold in chopped Oreos and white chocolate chunks, reserving a handful of each.
  4. Portion dough into golf-ball-size dough balls. Cover and chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Evenly space dough balls and bake 9-11 minutes or until edges are set and middles no longer look raw. Remove from oven and immediately press reserved white chocolate chunks and Oreo chunks over tops of hot cookies. Let rest on baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
Another good blog to follow if you like great cookies is Kroll's Korner. I've only tried a couple of her recipes, chocolate chip and white chocolate snickerdoodle, but they've both turned out well. Now I can add that I've tried her recipe for Cookies and Cream cookies.

I'm taking a break from Crumbl copycat recipes since so many of them have frosting and I can't ship frosted cookies from the desert (where I live) to another (overseas) desert (where most of my care packages for Soldiers Angels are going).
This was easy to make and tasted good. I didn't make them giant sized since smaller cookies are easier to pack and share but I can see how a giant version would be perfect for cookies and cream fans. The dough handled beautifully and the white chocolate and Oreos worked well in the cookie. Her original recipe used Hershey's cookies and cream chocolates but I didn't have those so I went with white chocolate chunks and Oreos alone; those worked just fine.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Red Velvet Oreo Cookies from Baking with Blondie

Red Velvet Oreo Cookies - made dough July 2, 2022 from Baking with Blondie

1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, cold
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons red gel color
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini milk chocolate chips
1 cup Oreo crumbles
  1. Preheat oven to 410 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 1 minute until it's light and fluffy. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and cream together for 3 minutes on high speed.
  3. Scrape down sides of bowl to keep mixture even textured. Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla, mixing well after each addition.
  4. Add cocoa powder and red gel coloring, mixing well. Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt, mixing on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix.
  5. Reserve a few handfuls of the chocolate chips and Oreo crumbles. Fold in the remaining into the cookie dough. Portion dough into 8 baseball-sized balls. Place 4 dough balls on each baking sheet and press the reserved chips and Oreo crumbles over each dough ball.
  6. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
Hey, look, a cookie recipe that has nothing to do with Crumbl or any of its copycats. I know I've been a little obsessed focused on Crumbl lately, like no other cookies exist in the world.
I'm happy to say not only do other non-Crumbl-based cookies exist, but some of them are - dare I say it - even better than Crumbl's? Hear me out. Or rather, test these out. 
I came across Baking with Blondie's blog via pinterest - where else? Namely the sight of these Red Velvet Oreo cookies lured me in. The original post has them as big. Like, one batch only makes 8 cookies big. 
Since I was making them for military care packages, I went a bit smaller. They still baked up nice and thick though. The dough mixed up easily and was perfect for handling, not too soft or sticky, not dry or crumbly.

Make sure your butter is straight from the refrigerator, especially in this summer heat. Cut into tablespoons and cube for easier mixing. You don't want your butter to get too warm during mixing.
Also, I suggest using regular Oreos, not double stuff or mega stuffed. I'm a purist and prefer the very original Oreos before they jumped the shark and came out with a bazillion different renditions and flavors. In the case of cookie baking, too much filling in the Oreos can affect the appearance and texture of your cookies as they bake and spread out. In other words, messy, greasy, melted filling taking over your cookies, especially since these bake at high heat.
These don't spread much at all which is another reason why I love them. Plus look at the perfect texture of the inside. The flavor was also good. The white chocolate provides a nice sweetness to the red velvet (you know I'm not a big white chocolate fan) and the Oreos add a crunch to the texture. I'm so glad I discovered Baking with Blondie's blog as she's got other mega-sized cookie recipes I'll be trying out - stay tuned for the others.