Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everybody thinks they have the recipe for the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever.  I find there's too much variation in preferences to make a valid claim.  Some like them chewy, others crispy.  The topic of rasins/walnuts/oats is one of contention.  The real snobs will even argue the quality of the chocolate...

While I can't guarantee that I have found the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies, I can tell you that I haven't used any other recipe after finding this one.  Thank you, New York Times!

The claim to the true secret to this recipe is the wait time.  By requiring the dough to rest for at least 24 hours, the dry ingredients have a chance to fully absorb the moisture from the wet ingredients.  

In a pinch, you could probably sub the cake and bread flour with all-purpose and not suffer too much damage.  The differences between types of flour is gluten (protein) levels.  Cake and bread flours sit on opposite ends of the gluten spectrum, while AP sits in the middle.  Thus, you may not even notice a difference in replacing them all with AP, but I haven't tried it yet.

Recipe from the New York Times
Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on the size


  • 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, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 16-20 oz of chocolate chips, disks or fèves
  • Sea salt

The arsenal (including homemade vanilla extract!  The topic of a future post):

Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

Sift the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.

Mix the eggs and vanilla extract into the sugar/butter mixture.  After well-incorporated, add the dry ingredients and mix until just-combined.

Add the chocolate and mix well.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  The cookies should be rolled into a size slightly larger than a golf ball,  and spaced a few inches apart.

Sprinkle with sea salt.

 Bake for 16-20 minutes.  The cookies should be golden brown, but not crispy.  Allow them to cool on a baking rack.

Enjoy warm, with a glass of milk!

Behind the scenes, I had to make sure our furry friend didn't ingest the chocolate! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Homemade Magic Shell

This is quite possibly the best ice cream topping ever, and it's so easy!  When warm, this sauce has the same consistency as normal chocolate syrup.  After pouring the stuff on ice cream, the sauce solidifies and creates a crispy shell.  This is because the fats added to the chocolate are from coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature.

This recipe only requires two ingredients, but it would be easy to add your own flavor mix-ins.

Yields 4+ servings

  • 45 g (1/4 c) Coconut Oil
  • 70 g (2.5 oz or 1/2 c) Chocolate
  • Optional flavors: peppermint extract, sea salt, chili powder, cinnamon, etc.

 I decided to use chocolate chips, because that is what I had on hand.  A higher quality dark chocolate or flavored chocolate would provide a more complex flavor, but semi-sweet chocolate chips are certainly still delicious!
 Combine the coconut oil and the chocolate in a microwave-safe container.  Microwave for 20-30 seconds at a time, stirring in between.  Continue until the two ingredients are combined and smooth.
 This ice cream is looking pretty nude...
 Pour a thin layer over a scoop of your favorite flavor.  (Digby is an expert at photobombing)
 Awesome!  So easy.

You can store the leftovers in a jar, and leave it at room temperature.  You might need to pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to get it back to liquid consistency.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dog Tag Silencer

I have a dog.  He is wiggly.  How wiggly?
Close-up wigglies
Between his ID, Rabies Shot, and Seattle Pet License tags, he makes a lot of noise when he's galavanting around the house.  This makes a lot of noise in our echo-y concrete apartment, not to mention the fact they wear down the tag markings until they're unreadable and need to be replaced. 

 I looked at a few options, and realized I had plenty of scrap laying around to make a tag silencer!

You can make this out of something more durable like neoprene (especially if your dog is a swimmer), but Digby tends to stay on land and I've got mountains of fabric to make more if he wears this one out.  

What you'll need:
  • Small scrap of low-stretch fabric (flannel, denim, canvas, etc.), 2 in x 5 in
  • Velcro
 Cut your piece of fabric to the following dimensions (the shape is horizontally symmetric, if you think a measurement or two is missing):
To help with durability and reduce fraying, sew a zig-zag stitch along the entire border of the shape.
 Next, fold in half "hamburger" style so the bottom edge barely meets the tab cut outs.   Sew as a pocket along the sides.
 Turn the pouch inside out.
 Cut small strips of Velcro to fit the two tabs.
 Attach velcro to the tabs and the back of the pouch (either use self-stick Velcro, or if you want a more durable alternative, sew-on Velcro and attach the pouch Velcro before sewing the sides of the pouch together).
 Tuck the dog tags inside the pouch.
 Secure the Velcro fasteners.
 Voila!  Noise-free romping ensues.  I'm pretty sure Digby knows when he's being photographed...what a good boy!
Digby shows off his good side

Monday, October 3, 2011


EDIT: Thanks to a friend, I've realized I haven't provided a good description or ideas for usage of Limoncello for those who are new to the beverage.  I've hopefully fixed it!

After a year in Seattle, the sun and I are estranged friends. I've done what I can to combat the winter blues here, and making homemade limoncello is like putting liquid sunshine in a jar. I made this one back in Spring, but I think I might get another batch going again as autumn descends.

I usually don't drink sweet cocktails (unless sharing with others, or it's Eduardo's going away party).  I prefer a hoppy beer or a whiskey on the rocks, but let's get one thing straight.  Limoncello is AMAZING!  Maybe it's because I spent two weeks in Italy for a class, or maybe it's the nostalgic love I have for Lemonheads candy.  I don't know.  The point is, I've made an exception to my sweets rule with this.

Limoncello is versatile and can be incorporated in many different desserts and mixed drinks. I've had this both straight and mixed it with lemonade and sparkling water. It can easily be used in cakes, frostings, and sauces. It also makes a great gift, especially if stored in some novelty glassware or swing-top bottles.

Here are some ideas on how to eat your Limoncello:

...and some ideas on how to drink it.

Recipe from The Gourmet Worrier


  • 750mL 100-proof vodka (cheap brands OK)
  • 10 unwaxed, organic lemons (if you can't find unwaxed & organic, go for organic and a good hot water bath and scrub)
  • 500 g sugar
  • 600 mL water (just boiled) 
Note: I chose to stay in metric weight measurements because of consistency and precision.  If you don't have a scale and prefer to use volumetric measurements, the approximations are 2 1/2 cups of sugar and 20 fl. oz of water, or 2 1/4 cups).

Unwaxed and organic lemons may be hard to come by.  Remember they will be steeping in your liquid, so this is one item you don't want to shortcut.  For those of you in warmer regions, you might even be lucky enough to have fresh citrus.  If you are unsure if your organic lemons are waxed or not, wash the lemons in very hot water and scrub well with a fruit/veg brush.

Zest all 10 lemons, taking as little pith (white stuff) with you as possible. 
Place the zest in a 1 liter jar.  I found the label for this old glass jar to be especially appropriate for the job... 
 Pour 750 mL of vodka over the zest.  Let it soak in a cool, dark place for four weeks.
 On magical day 28, mix 500g white sugar with 600g of hot water.
 Stir until dissolved.
 After the mixture has cooled some, mix the sugar syrup with the vodka and lemon peels.  If your jar is big enough (mine was), you can pour the sugar syrup into the jar and shake.  Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, bottle, and chill.
Best served cold, this can be stored in the freezer without worry of turning solid (hooray science!).   Enjoy!