Chocolate Syrup

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Now because Jordan and I are grown adults, making important life decisions and all… we choose to drink chocolate milk. A lot. I’m slightly embarrassed to truly admit the extent of our intake. After we’ve eaten our daily portion of vegetables, fruits, and protein (of course I’m telling the truth here) we look forward to this treat served up with some bonus nostalgia. Ah, the days.

Now, you might think I’m crazy to be making my own chocolate syrup. Right? But I promise you, not only is it less expensive because it comes from pantry staples, but it tastes significantly better. Not to mention, it will save us another trip back to the store to return our previously beloved chocolate powder due to a recent recall. “Um… Yeah.” Is the exact response Jordan got from the store manager who thought he was crazy for returning chocolate powder. We were heartbroken. I promise you this isn’t a rebound recipe, its a keeper.

IMG_2818Ingredients

1 cup sugar (more can be added, to taste)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

In a medium saucepan, combine the cocoa and sugar, whisking to get rid of the extra lumps. Add in the water and salt and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring very frequently. Once the mixture starts boiling, reduce to a lower heat, letting it simmer for about 5 minutes. The mixture will be slightly thickened. Remove from heat and let stand for another 5 minutes or so. Add in the vanilla, stirring well. Let it cool. Keep it in the fridge and it will last you a long time.

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Source: Adapted from Pennies on a Platter and Annie’s Eats


Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

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The new year has been off to a great start. We’ve both been busy with work (especially the wolf pack), the new, healthy, nephew has arrived, we’ve had several great adventures over the past few weekends (I know, so vague), and neither of us have caught that nasty cold/flu bug that seems to have hit every other house. I consider 2013 a victory so far. To celebrate: a classic.

I love this recipe for a few reasons. I don’t have to let butter come to room temperature. That is huge. Our cookie cravings tend to hit fast, and when they do, I’m usually up making cookies within 15 minutes or so. There is no time for silly things like room temp butter. Second reason: that tablespoon of vanilla. I’ve always been one to double up on it anyway because I think it goes with everything. Pancakes, brownies, smoothies, bananas in various forms. Jordan thinks I’m crazy ( “Vanilla isn’t a flavor!”)… but he’s a chocolate lover so his opinion doesn’t count on this one.

These chocolate chip cookies have recently become my go-to. In a pinch, I choose these. At this point, I know myself too well to say that these are my one and only… but they’re close. Nature of the beast.

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line sheets with parchment paper or sil-pats.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended and fluffy.

Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk. Mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips by hand. Drop cookie dough a tablespoon at a time onto the prepared sheets. They tend to spread a bit so make sure there are a few inches in between each one.

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Bake about 9 to 11 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges start to get some color. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes. Ours never make it to cooling racks.

Update: As it seems that brown butter is all the rage at the moment, I thought I’d mention that these are wonderful with the addition. Since the recipe calls for melted butter already, simply melt it down in a sauce pan and cook it about for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Be careful to keep a close eye on the cooking butter as it can turn from brown to burned very quickly

Source: I make the smaller version (but with fewer chips) of Deb Pearlman’s at Smitten Kitchen.

The Infamous Homemade Oreo

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These cookies. I don’t even know.  By far, they get the most attention out of anything else that I make. I’m not sure if it’s an aesthetic thing, how amazingly perfect in texture they always seem to be, or if people just have a nostalgic soft spot for Oreos and judgmental taste buds no longer apply. That’s not it. These cookies would still be outstanding even if I had never had a store bought Oreo in my life. With that being said, use caution where you take these. If you’re like me, and want to try new recipes every time, this is one of those cookies that people ask for over and over again. Deb Pearlman (my go to lady for recipes!) wasn’t kidding about this one.


Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking sodaIMG_3098

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons room-temperature, unsalted butter

1 large egg

For the filling:

1/4 cup room-temperature, unsalted butterIMG_3072

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

2 cups  sifted confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 Instructions

Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.

In a bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. On low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue mixing until dough comes together.

Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. Note: I like to keep the diameter of the wafers on the small side. After all, they will be sandwiched together in the end. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

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To assemble the cookies, using a knife, spread about a teaspoon of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

Source: Slightly adapted (for less sweetness, as Deb notes) from Smitten Kitchen

Chocolate Brownies

For me, there are few desserts that can top a fresh out of the oven, hot, fudgy, chocolate brownie. There is something about the density, the richness, and chewiness of this treat will have me choosing it over others every time. I’ve made several versions lately and this is definitely a contender. I don’t know if it was the wonderful valrhona cocoa powder that Jordan bought for me last week or if it is the carefulness taken when mixing everything together, but I just love the texture on these. Watch out.

I’ll be taking these brownies with me to my parent’s house for thanksgiving tomorrow… I know, not your typical dessert for the feast, but my mom already had the pies covered. So it was this or cookies… and I was dying to try out that cocoa powder! Enjoy your holiday!

Ingredients

7 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips I had on hand)

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

3 tablespoons cocoa powder (My favorite is Valrhona)

3 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup all purpose flour

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 pan with foil or parchment and butter the bottoms and sides.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler, stirring occasionally until everything is melted and smooth. (I don’t have a double boiler, so I set a medium bowl over a simmering sauce pot. Just be sure to be careful, as the bowl gets hot!) Once the chocolate and butter have melted, whisk in the cocoa powder. Set this aside and let it cool until you’re ready to use it.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until well combined. Slowly whisk the chocolate/butter mixture into the egg/sugar mixture. Stir in the flour until just barely combined. Be careful not to over-mix.

Pour into your prepared pan, making sure to spread it around as evenly as possible. Bake about 25 minutes (my oven seems to run really hot, so keep an eye on yours) until an inserted toothpick comes out mostly clean, a few crumbs are ok. Cool, cut, and enjoy!

Source: Ever so slightly adapted from Shauna Server, The Next Door Baker