Baking with Julia – Double Chocolate Cookies

IMG_4366Mmmmmmmmmmm chocolate. Just lots and lots of chocolate in these here cookies guys. A whole pound actually. Normally I can be counted on for using a whole pound of butter but a whole pound of chocolate might be a first for me. I got a new temporary job baking commercially for the first time in my life and after rotating huge sheet pans all day and all the other stuff that goes along with it I have to admit that I wasn’t all for making these cookies, but I’m glad I did. It certainly helped that it was a two step process so I just mixed the dough at night and baked them quickly in the morning. Easy squeezy. Plus I brought most of them to work with me, thus endearing me to many of my new co-workers. I’m not ashamed to admit that I occasionally buy people’s affection with foodstuffs – you have to play to your strengths in this life after all.

Double Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

12oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into smallish chunks (I cheated and used Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chips)

1 stick unsalted butter

4oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 T instant coffee powder

2 t pure vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Get a small pot of water on the stove at a simmer and place a stainless steel bowl over the top, making sure the bottom isn’t touching the water. Divide the bittersweet chocolate in half and place half in the stainless bowl with the unsweetened chocolate and butter. Keep an eye on the butter and chocolate and stir with a rubber spatula until everything is smooth and melted, then remove the bowl from the heat and set it aside. Don’t forget to turn the heat off on the stove or you’ll boil that little pot dry and that will suck.

Put the eggs, sugar, coffee, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat using the whisk attachment for at least 10 minutes until the mixture reaches the “ribbon stage.” This literally seems to take forever but it is actually only 10 minutes. To make sure you’ve achieved the ribbon stage, detach the whisk, dip it in the batter and wave it back and forth over the bowl. If the ribbon sits on top of the mix for a moment before sinking in, you’ve done it. If not, keep beating.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the warm buttery/chocolate mixture, then add in the dry ingredients. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the remaining bittersweet chocolate chunks with a rubber spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least a few hours (I did it overnight).

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 4 baking sheets with parchment. Using a medium-sized cookie scoop, portion out the dough onto the prepared sheets leaving at least two inches between each mound. I portioned out half and then mixed some dried cherries into the remaining dough because I LOVE dark chocolate & tart cherries together. This was a fabulous idea by the by.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking. The cookies are done when they’ve spread a bit and just started to crack on the top – underdone is better than overdone with these guys. Cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes before removing the cookies to a cooling rack to come to room temperature. But make sure to eat a few while they’re still warm because then they do this:

IMG_4356I ate this with my morning coffee and it made for an amazing breakfast – don’t judge me.

Baking with Julia – Boca Negra

IMG_0155Anyone who read my previous post knows that my Valentine’s Day this year was less than perfect. Adding to the general haze of misfiring cooking abilities and time management issues was this little gem. I had actually planned to make it the day before Valentine’s Day but had neglected to read the instructions and didn’t realize that the white chocolate bourbon cream topping needed to sit in the fridge overnight. Whoops. So I thought “Well I will just have two decadent desserts for Valentine’s Day.” I mean, it is a holiday after all. I usually make AT LEAST two pies or desserts of some sort for Thanksgiving and Christmas so why should V-day get the shaft? So on the morning of Valentine’s Day I assembled this seemingly simple and easy little guy. Everything goes into the food processor for a little whirl and then into a bain marie in the oven for a measly half hour. Easy squeezy, right? Yeah, whenever I’m overconfident it always backfires. Always.

IMG_0143Mmmmmmm bourbon and sugar are cozying up together on the stovetop. Actually, that looks like peepee but it smelled really good. Like much better than it should have at 8 in the morning. I wonder if I should be worried about that?

IMG_0144As you can see, I took the lazy lady way and used bittersweet chocolate chips for the majority of the chocolate in this. I really hate chunking up chocolate bars for some reason. But they got the job done. The yummy, sugary bourbon got poured over this chocolate mess, some butter and eggs joined the fun and away we go!

IMG_0146Turns out that not only is my braiser awesome for things like, oh I don’t know….braising, but it is also the perfect pan for doing a bain marie! I never had a roasting pan that was wide enough for any of my round baking pans before so I am much more excited about this than I rightfully should be. Now a whole new world of cheesecake making is opening up right at my feet. I am scared for my thighs and ass.

So things look pretty good in that pic right? Looks like I have everything under control. Here are the directions (paraphrased, mind you) for the next step: Immediately take the pan out of the water bath and dry it with a towel. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the pan and invert the cake onto the plastic wrap. Remove the parchment round from the bottom of the cake, then invert it back onto a flat plate to cool. Does that sound easy to you? Well here’s a newsflash for you, it’s not! I cannot even count the number of expletives that came out of me during this process. In one of the flips I kind of broke the boca negra in half because it went half onto the plate and half off and I sort of burned my finger and…… was just not good. Consequently I did not have time to blow-dry my hair and felt very disheveled for most of the day. I realllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly hate this whole flip it out and then invert it business. Why do so many recipes ask this of me?

So I was feeling a milder form of my Bitch Cake anger for most of the day and then the Coeur a la Creme was a flat pancake booby and we didn’t eat dinner until 9 – not a great day for me all around. Even though this dessert did not look the greatest, it tasted amazing. Super rich and decadent and the bourbon cream? I can’t even talk about it. When I was making it I may or may not have drunk the last few drops of it right out of the food processor bowl. That probably happened. I know the dollop of cream on the top of the piece is enormous but I was kind of proud of my almost-quenelle shape and I didn’t feel I could destroy it. Until it went in my mouth. Then I destroyed it utterly and completely.

IMG_0158How does everyone feel about bourbon? I had never tried it until this last spring when I made mint juleps for a party and I gotta say, I’m a fan. Bourbon = yum.

IMG_2571If you want to give this super chocolatey, super bourbon-y treat a try, visit Cathy at Frederick Food Garden for the recipe.

Baking with Julia – Best Ever Chocolate Chunk Brownies

So I don’t know if everyone’s noticed, but the holiday season is upon us and I am just NOT feeling it this year. It’s probably a by-product of working in retail for the last 5 Christmases or the fact that I don’t have any children that I need to pretend for but I am distinctly not looking forward to the holidays. I just find the whole thing stressful and un-fun. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely looking forward to seeing and spending time with my family but the travel and being away from work when we’re sure to be incredibly busy is really stressing me out. Plus it’s totally PMS-eat-your-feelings-time all up in here so these brownies really couldn’t have been more appropriate. And if you’re offended that I mentioned my lady-times in this medium then you’re probably a man and you can just get bent for the next 3-5 days. Capiche?

I mixed these up last night and they are definitely different than other brownies I have made.

They start out in the best possible way (butter and 2 different kinds of chocolately darkness making friends in my little makeshift double-boiler). Then it gets a little funky with the whole eggs and sugar step. The directions were a tad confusing but I got it in the end.

Check out those beautiful whipped eggs getting cozy with the deep, dark chocolate. Try to ignore my crusty oven mitt in the corner. I keep meaning to throw it in the wash, but it just never happens. Just for funsies I added in a whole bag of Nestle Chocolate Chunks because I like there to be some texture in my brownies – as long as the texture isn’t walnuts. Walnuts are the worst. The end.

Everyone was talking about how they had to bake these for way longer than directed but I took them out right at 26 minutes and I think they’re pretty perfect. The directions said they should be kind of ooey-gooey and they definitely are but I am a fan of that. I didn’t let them cool completely because why on earth would I do that and when I ate a warm one it was very reminiscent of a lava cake.

Totally yummy x 1000. I contemplated throwing in some chopped Twix bars because my lovely husband unit bought me a whole bag of Fun-Size Twix but I am going to save those for another project. Or I might just continue eating them until they’re gone. Only time will tell. My only complaint about this recipe would be all the folding. I hate folding. It is also the worst. On par with walnuts. But I am forced to admit that it was worth it. If you want to brave all the folding and weird egg techniques that contributing baker Rick Katz made me go through before I got my chocolate fix, head over to A Beautiful Mess for the recipe.

In other news, it’s almost Thanksgiving. We are doing a small meal on Thursday with just Tristan and I and a friend and then going home to MN for the weekend to have big Thanksgiving on Sunday with my family. Here’s what I’m thinking of making the for the little meal:

Cranberry Meatloaf

Pumpkin Scalloped Potatoes

Roasted Turkey Breast


Perfect Apple Crisp

Yeah I know it seems like a lot of food for just three of us but I can’t help myself. I’m mostly handling the desserts for our Sunday dinner and I think I’m going to make Sweet Potato Pie with Cream Cheese Swirl instead of a plain ol’ pumpkin pie. Clearly the baking aspect of the holidays is still appealing to me. Hope everyone has a great weekend filled with delicious foodstuffs!