Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Chip Cookie Comfort

3 May


This is not okay. Snow after May 1, long after the first day of Spring, is unacceptable.  I’m supposed to be retiring my boots for the year, not planning work outfits to include them and black tights.  I’m ready to hang out with my friend–the sun–and get some more Vitamin D running through my blood.  Seriously, this is messing with my mind.

I am consoling myself with a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  I spent so long debating yesterday whether or not I wanted to brave the flurries to walk to my gym that I actually made cookies while deciding.  When the weather outside is frightful, fire up the oven.  Not only do you warm up the house, you end up with little rounds of delight and comfort.

These cookies are from the pages of Cook’s Illustrated and are pretty darn good.  They are not the best chocolate chip cookie I have ever had, that honor belongs to Levain Bakery in New York City, but they are still good.  Definitely worthy to share with the people who brighten up your life.  Perhaps the next time I make these cookies, I will aim for monstrous portions and add walnuts.  That’ll get me a little closer to Levain-level of perfection.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Cook’s Illustrated (May/Jun 2009)
Makes 16 medium-sized cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar (fresh, moist brown sugar is ideal)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 large (18 x 12 inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl.  Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated.  Add and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.  Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds.  Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.  Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop).  Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.  (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.  Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.


Black Forest Cake

1 May

Black Forest Cake

Rare is the occasion that my co-workers and I can all get together and relax, simply being ourselves.  Work, work, work, and play a little seems to be our motto of late, so when we were able to assemble for a wine and cheese night, I had to make something special to end the night.  Wine, cheese, and toasted baguettes flowed, which made for a fun time.

This Black Forest Cake isn’t the true thing, but it captures the spirit very well.  It is missing the crumb coating and multiple thin layers, but the flavors are all there.  The chocolate cake is all chocolate with only a hint of sweetness.  The billowy clouds of whipped cream picks up the slack.  The cherries are gems waiting to burst.  The cake earned rave reviews at the party, and it has now been added to my very shortlist of go-to recipes, having made it two more times for the cool people in my life.

Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake

Adapted from Desserts By the Yard
Makes one 2-layer cake

For the cake

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Whipped Cream Filling and Topping

  • 2.5 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup cherries, pitted and quartered (frozen works well)

To make the cake, place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch round cake pain with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Then spray the parchment paper with cooking spray. This is a delicate cake, so preparing the cake pans is highly recommended.

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

Place the cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of the milk and stir until a smooth paste forms. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Set aside.

Combine the unsweetened chocolate with the coffee in a heatproof bowel set over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Slowly add the sugar, beating until the mixture is light, fluffy, and a creamy white color, about 4 minutes.

Turn the mixer down to medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure that the first egg is completely incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl before adding the second one. Add the vanilla and the melted chocolate. At low speed, add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with the milk and cocoa mixture. When the ingredients are smooth, scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Scrape into the prepared pans. Tap the pan lightly on the work surface a few times to get rid of air bubbles. Bake, rotating the pans after the first 10 minutes, for about 20 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and cake pulls away from the sides of the pans. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes in the pans, set on a rack. Invert onto the rack, remove the parchment paper, and allow to cool completely.

For the filling and topping, beat the heavy cream and sugar in a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until medium-stiff peaks form.

To assemble the cake, take one cake layer and place on serving dish. Spread about 1/2 of the whipped cream on top. Distribute about 1/2 of the cherries in whatever fashion suits your fancy on top of the whipped cream. Now stack the second cake layer on top. Repeat the process with the whipped cream and cherries. Place the cake in the refrigerator to chill before serving.