jacques torres chocolate chip cookies

When I have photos, foodporn worthy photos, I often wonder if anyone will read the accompanying article (besides the recipe of course).
I know I'm guilty of doing just that--I drool over the photos, and hastily scan down to the recipe to see if I have the ingredients on hand.
So to spare you tons of chit chat, let me just get right to it: these are hands down the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever made.
Jacques Torres knows chocolate chip cookies.  He's also called Mr. Chocolate too!
AND, this recipe is completely fool-proof.
You cannot mess this recipe up.
These cookies lasted 4 hours? I called the next person on the list of "baked goods to receive", they were here in half an hour!
The recipe also states to cover the dough well and refrigerate for 36-72 hours.
I wanted to see if it would make it to 96 hours and it did--perfectly!
Cover well, really well with plastic wrap.
The dough is hard to scoop out, so use a sharp knife to cut into sections.
At this point I can call it a day.
IMG_1559 (1)
I now know what all the fuss was about from the New York Times.
I totally get it now--the best chocolate chip cookies ever!  You'll see.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups minus 2 TB (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 ts baking soda
1 1/2 ts baking powder
1 1/2 ts 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 TB (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 ts natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt.

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
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.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
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.
Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.


granola thins

Those granola thins by Nature Valley are an excellent idea: thin crispy granola; granola you won't break your teeth eating, all dipped in chocolate or peanut butter.
I've had this on my "recipe clone" create list to make for some time.
Granted these don't look exactly like the granola thins, I'm sure they have precise machines to cut them into little perfect squares.
But with mine you can rest assure there are far less chemicals and far better tasting chocolate.
If you make these, keep in mind the thinner you spread the oat mixture out on the baking sheet the thinner the bars will be.  I made mine somewhere in the middle: not too thin, not too thick.
And thinner means more crunch, thicker means chewier.
I need to work on making a batch with peanut coating.
I must warn you that these are highly addictive.
And you simply must try them with the little bit of heat.
It's a gentle heat...I promise.
Toast the oats! Important step for sure.
Secret ingredient: those coconut chips from Trader Joe's, my goodness those are good.
If you can't find those, then use toasted coconut flakes--just make sure they are toasted a bit to ensure a nice crunch.
Remember spread thin for crispy bars, thicker for chewy.
Do the chocolate coating thin too.  I made mine too thick, but I guess that's a good thing too.
granola thins (with a touch of heat)

4 cups rolled oats (not quick oats, not quick cooking, not instant)
1/8 cup canola oil
4 TB butter, melted
½ ts sea salt
¼ ts (or more) of cayenne
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup + 2 TB honey
¼ cup pineapple juice (an oversized ¼ cup)
¼ cups molasses
1 ½ ts pure vanilla extract
1 cup of crushed graham crackers, fairly fine crush
1 cup rice krispies
3/4 cup sweet & spicy pecans from Trader Joe’s, rough chop (you want chunks)
1 cup of Trader Joe’s Coconut Chips, crushed

cook notes: for thin and crunchy-like granola thins spread the oat mixture thin on baking sheet.  If you want chewy granola bars, then spread it thick-like.
If you can’t find Trader Joe’s coconut chips use some toasted coconut flakes. Light golden brown toasted coconut. And you can use any spicy pecans you want really. 

for chocolate coating:
11-12 ounce bag of milk chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl, toss the oats with the canola oil, melted butter and salt.
Spread the mixture out onto a baking sheet, in a nice thin layer.  Bake in oven for about 15-20 minutes or until oats turn light golden brown.
You should turn and mix oats around during the baking.
Remove from the oven and set aside.
To make the mixture for the bars:
In a medium saucepan, over low heat, mix the brown sugar, honey, pineapple juice, vanilla extract and molasses. Heat the mixture slowly, stirring until all combined. Don’t let it come to a boil—just want to dissolve everything.
Take the toasted oats, place them in a large bowl, add in the crushed grahams, rice krispies, pecans and the coconut chips.  Mix all.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Toss the toasted oat mixture with the sugar mixture, stirring as you pour.
Toss to combine.
Take a baking sheet (large), grease up with nonstick spray even the edges, and place down parchment paper.  If you don’t have parchment paper then use non stick spray on foil. 
Press mixture onto baking sheet . 
For thin crispy granola try and spread the granola as thin as possible on the sheet.  It’s hard, but just keep at it.
For chewy granola, keep the mixture thicker.
Bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool.
It will take about 2- 3 hours for this to harden up.
Once it’s harden, then pour on the melted chocolate, in a nice thin layer.  I did not go all the way to the edges.
Let the chocolate harden and set up. 
Being careful cut pieces with a very sharp knife and remove from the pan.
Makes about 30  2-inch bars +/-


friday links

Happy Friday!
ON a recent trip to Trader Joe's here's what I found, tried, liked, hated.
Haven't tried, but it looked fairly moist.
Hubby loved it, I hated it. Not nearly enough cheese on it.
The crust was ok.
This is new (and good news!)
This was pretty good. Not quite danish, but close enough.
These were good, small but good.
Loved these!
Haven't tried these.  Have you?
These were ok, very dry.  If you make them, add a few splashes of cream to dough before baking.
I LOVED these!
Haven't tried these.  Have you?
Haven't tried these. You?
Pretty good!
Fairly good.
Not good.  I wanted to like them, but there is no cheese flavor whatsoever.
Anyone tried this?

Around the web:
Did you know that you can truly make a solider overseas life better by simply writing them letters?
That's all it takes is a letter to help. Please visit Soldiers' Angels.
Guide to writing better than you normally do from McSweeney's
Prebiotics can truly help you lose weight from blisstree
fake food: the fake ingredients in your food from greatist.com
immune boosting carrot-ginger juice from detoxinista.com
60 must read health & fitness blogs from greatist.com
oyster fats may curb breast cancer from vitalchoice.com
dosa: indian style pancakes w/ pickled cucumber from wholesomeireland.com
vanilla bean ricotta donuts from cannella-vita
rosemary shortbread rounds from becca-bakes.com
red velvet strawberry chocolate cake from heatherchristo.com
happy cheeks!  LOL  (love this idea) from myhappycheeks.com
no bake pb krispy treats from collecting memories
15-minute thin mints (no bake, vegan) from topwithcinnamon.com
chai spiced snickerdoodles (vegan) from arismenu.com
chewy peanut payday bars from averiecooks.com
archie bunkers house in queens from scoutingny.com
top herbs & spices for your health from marksfdailyapple.com
rewire your brain for positivity & happiness from lifehacker.com
meet porter: the worlds 1st driving dog from the driving dogs
there's a new nut butter company in town! dying to try this from bigspoonroasters.com
3-phase plan to fix your metabolism? from doctoroz.com
homemade cinnamon-raisin newtons from supergluemom.com
peaches & cream mousse pie from seriouseats.com
baked french toast sticks from abeautifulmess.com
roasted broccoli & cheddar queso from macheesmo.com
lasagna soup from noshingwiththenolands.com
spicy asian chicken noodle soup from divinecusine.com
corn chowder w/ shrimp from agirlinthesouth.com
chocolate-coffee banana donuts (paleo) from paleomg.com
homemade chicken bouillon cubes from the musician who cooks

one of my favorite breakfasts (full of protein too). bacon & egg on peanut butter toast.
puffins with peanut butter? oh yes.
frosting shots at cupcake charlies on cape cod.
hostess with the mostess cupcakes are my all-time weakness.
Let's go from cupcakes to steamers?  LOL
Yum, never get sick of these.
A house on the CC National Seashore (chatham side) collapsed after the recent storm. Here is a
barge bringing over the house parts, inside and out.
chatham fish pier, chatham, ma.
We've had three storms, one was a blizzard, and this weekend we're expecting another one.
I pray all these storms are a nice prelude to a beautiful, sunny, non-rain filled spring & summer.
Before I forget, the winner of the Old Farmers Almanac Cookbook is Lori Stilger (#13).
Congrats Lori please email me your shipping address.
Have a great weekend all!


gluten free pecan blondies

After my last post, the recap of the blizzard of 2013, did you know we got another heavy storm one week later?
When it hit cape cod it was dubbed as a semi-major storm, and then as it moved up the coast towards Maine it became a blizzard?
AND, now they're saying we (the cape) might get another weekend storm? So that's three storms.
What is going on?
Tell me this is the prelude to nice, sunny, CALM, spring and summer?
If so I'll take it.
Did I tell you my cabin fever is at an all time high?
Have you ever had cabin fever?
Oh some of my friends in california don't even know the term (poor babies I should educate then firsthand right?)
I tell you, the older I get the harder it is to take these frigid winters with insane amounts of snow.
My bones, they feel weak when that blustery cold keeps hitting the body over and over.
No amount of hot showers can truly penetrate down to the bones, well, maybe a hot tub.
I had hoped to take a tax refund check and put in a bathtub or something similar one of these years, but it looks like we have other plans for that refund.
So with this last coastal storm we learned that we have a few trees that have to come down before hurricane season starts.
It's funny because one of the main reasons I bought this house was the fact that the previous owner had cleared a fair amount of the land of trees.
If you live on cape cod you know that wind is always a factor here and having trees close to the house is dangerous.
We have a couple trees left that aren't right up close to the house, but close enough that if they fell they'd do some damage.
But the main reason that I want to clear more trees is that I saw the aftermath of what fallen trees did to other peoples homes and it scared me.  Can you imagine a tree falling on your house? Going right through the home? In the middle of winter, a giant hole in your house?
Where do you go?  A hotel?  And for how long?  And surely your insurance won't cover it all?
It's scary when you really think it through. So all this and more is going through my head; aka the clutter and noise in my head.
With my tax refund I was hoping to save away for a nice half-house generator or a whirlpool tub.  Ahhh a tub to soak my old bones...yeah, not going to happen.
How many more days till summer?
With these tasty gluten free blondies keep in mind they are moist, very moist, tasty too.
I might have under-baked a bit, which is fine by me, but just watch the baking times; I think I should have added on another 4-5 minutes of baking time.
You don't have to add in the nuts, I did for texture and the buttery taste of the batter just begged for the addition of the pecans.
To be honest, I prefer the taste of almond meal over flour--it truly adds a nice flavor.
I just wish almond meal wasn't so expensive; I need to make my own.

gluten free pecan blondies

10 TB unsalted butter, room temp
1 ¾ cup almond meal
1 (heaping) ts baking powder
3/4 ts salt
1 cup light-brown sugar (not packed)
2 large eggs
½  ts pure vanilla extract
½ ts butter extract
about ½ cup chopped, toasted pecans (optional but wonderful)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease up an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with non-stick spray or butter or if you prefer using parchment paper then do so.
In medium bowl, whisk together almond meal, baking powder, and salt, set aside.
In a glass or cup, mix the eggs, butter extract and vanilla extract until combined.
In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or by hand; cream on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. 
Then add in egg mixture, mix well, then add in the dry ingredients and mix till combined.
By hand, add in the pecans.
Pour batter into prepared pan; spread with a rubber spatula.
Bake in oven for about 25-33 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into blondies comes out “almost” clean.  Okay to have a few bits of crumb on the cake tester. 
Cooking times vary depending on oven, so please check at 25-minute mark. 
Cool blondies at least an hour.
Cut into squares.  You should get about 10-12 squares depending on how you cut them.


cookies and cream cookies (plus blizzard 2013)

I'm back!
And I can say I survived the blizzard of 2013!
As most of you know, cape cod got hit pretty bad with the blizzard, or was it called storm nemo?
My area got hit hard.
Thankfully we survived it ok with minimal tree damage and house damage, but we lost power for three days.
For three days in 30 degree temperatures during the day and teen temperatures during the night.
You can only imagine how hard that was, mentally and physically.
I can honestly say it was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.
By day two our inside home temperature was 43 degrees!
Hubby and I would lay in bed at night with 7-8 blankets, fully clothed, listening to the house creak and moan with the declining temps.
We could see our breath inside our home.
We didn't have a fireplace, but we did boil water over the gas stove every three hours.
Granted this is not safe and I don't recommend it to anyone, but we have high ceilings and only did this a few times to raise the temperature up a bit.
On day two and a half with no heat, we looked everywhere for a hotel room--they were snatched up fairly quickly and the waiting list was about three pages long.
The only communication we had was the radio and our iphones with which I got updates via the NStar website that said we had another three days to go until power was completely restored.
You can imagine the freak out factor I had with this news.
I wasn't so worried about us making it in the cold, my biggest fear was our pipes.
It was only a matter of time before the pipes would freeze.  We did wrap a few pipes that were closest to the outside walls with clothes and towels, and blocked up the doors and windows with sofa cushions.
During the day we'd go to a local grocery store that was partially open, running on generators and eat whatever they had and use the restrooms to wash up.  It was hard to come home to the house at night knowing it would be dark and cold.
There were two homes on our street that had whole-house generators, driving by these homes every night seeing them inside watching TV, using the computer, or cooking away in the kitchen was surreal--strange to say the least.  It leaves you desperate in a way; longing for any kind of normalcy---again.
On our third day of no power we decided I would go the next day and stay with friends.
My husband was not leaving the house--under any circumstances.  I didn't like this, and had zero say in the matter, but he did have a lot of army training so he was quite familiar with handling extreme conditions and weather.
You know how there are certain moment-like life events that happen to you that you never ever forget?
The time the power came on was in my top five.
We were just coming home for the night, driving down our road, seeing some lights on in houses that we were confused on whether or not those were the ones with the generators--we weren't sure because it all looked different.
Then we drove onto our street, and noticed the entire street was lit up like a christmas tree!  When you're used to seeing black and then you see everything illuminated it's quite a change.
I remember screaming the whole way down our street to our house, saying 'oh my god, oh my god....!"
And then we got to our house and it was all black!
I didn't know hubby had turned all the lights off so that when the power did come back on we won't blow a fuse--he forgot this too!
So we both weren't sure if the power was on.  Then I remembered that above the garage door is a motion detector light that glows red laser light when there is movement in the driveway which in turn turns on the outside lights.  And POOF, the little red laser light started moving as I drove closer to the garage door and the lights on the garage door clicked on!!
I screamed "yes, the power is on!"
I screamed again, opened my truck door and started to get out, forgot to put the truck in park, caught myself and put it in park, got out and ran towards to the gas meter to hear for the sound of hissing to validate my curiosity again of whether the power was truly on.  It was-- It was hissing away!
We both ran inside and were almost crying with happiness.
Hubby remembered the vent to the heater was blocked with a 4-5 foot snow drift, he ran around to shovel it out, while I ran around the house in shear happiness, turning on this or that light, and checking the all the heat panels.  Finding my cat sitting on one of the floorboard heat panels--how he managed that balance act I'm still not sure, but porr thing he was cold too.
That night taking a hot shower-- well there are no words really for that; how do you describe that?
I mean it had been three days without hot water; your body just does a collective 'sigh' when the hot water hits your back for the first time.
We did lose power again the next day for six hours--what's six hours though when you've been through three days?  Nothing.
As of today, thursday, my town still has about less than 100 homes still without power.
These are the places that are farther out from the main grid; homes that lost a lot of power lines and have older power lines/systems.
But thankfully today, thursday was the day that everyone in my town would be restored according to NStar. Happy Valentines Day indeed.
I haven't been cooking or baking for a while, cleanup is first, but I did find a recipe from the archives that I hadn't posted yet.
Happy Valentine's Day!
I know I'm happy--very happy and VERY grateful.
The taste of cookies and cream literally in a cookie.  Seriously these are good.
Any type of Oreo will work and flavor-wise you can mix and match too.
Eating the dough is just as tasty too, plus there are no eggs so it's fairly safe.

cookies & cream cookies

2 cups + 2 TB flour
1/2 ts baking soda
1/2 ts (oversized) salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled
8 oz. cream cheese softened
1 cup light brown sugar, NOT packed
1/2 cup sugar
1 ts vanilla extract
2 cups crushed Oreo’s (not fine crush but not big chunk either)

Cook notes: I made my cookies larger than normal, about golfball size.
So make them whatever size you like.  If you make them smaller you should reduce baking times.
Whisk all dry ingredients together; set aside.
With stand mixer, or by hand mix butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
Add in both sugars and beat until thoroughly combined.
Beat in vanilla extract until combined.
Add dry ingredients & beat at low speed just until combined.
By hand, add in the crushed Oreo’s.
Cover dough securely with plastic wrap and chill two hours or overnight. 
When ready to bake cookies preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Drop dough onto parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes or until edges are set and bottoms are light brown. Do NOT overbake!
Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking and place on wire rack to cool.
Should make about 30-32 cookies.


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