The Most Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies are classic, something we all grew up eating and my family was no exception. They’re the cookie my mom would whip up for bake sales and make as a “cake” for my birthday parties with frosting. There was even a year in junior high when all I ate for lunch each day was a chocolate chip cookie and carton of chocolate milk (sorry, mom, that’s what I was really doing with my lunch money).

And don’t even get me started on chocolate chip cookie dough! I’d eat the individually frozen dough balls from Market Days right out of the freezer as an after school snack, and in high school my friends and I would share a roll of store-bought chocolate chip cookie dough and eat it with spoons.

While ubiquitous, to me chocolate chip cookies are also conventional. And although I wouldn’t call myself cutting edge in pretty much anything (I mean, come on, look at my shoes), I don’t usually make this cookie because there’s no challenge to it.

This takes me to a few years back when a recipe from The New York Times was making the rounds in the blogosphere. I wasn’t interested. After all, they’re just chocolate chip cookies, right?

Luckily, my friend Jenn paid attention and began making these cookies, which turned out to be absolutely freaking delicious. I’d even go so far as to call them a game-changer.

Whenever we’d talk about these cookies – and, oddly enough, they came up in conversation quite often – I always referred to this recipe as “aged chocolate chip cookies,” because that was really the trick, letting the batter rest (or age) in the fridge for 24 to 72 hours. But I never made them myself. They were her thing, not to mention waiting for the dough to age required patience and planning, two things that don’t really suit me.

I finally had a wake up call a few weeks ago after visiting Jenn in San Francisco. The first thing she gave me when I got off the BART was one of her aged chocolate chip cookies. It had been a while since I’d had one and I forgot just how freaking good these cookies were. That’s when I made the decision: I need to start making these myself – they’re just too good not to have on a regular basis. Or semi-regular basis, given this is the time of year for fruitless resolutions.

And did I mention these cookies are huge? But don’t try to make them smaller – it’s part of their charm. Also, the ingredients are kind of specific but once you have them, just think of all the cookies you can make!

So here’s my advice: make a batch. Freeze them for portion control. And then eat them whenever you need a delicious bite of comfort food or as a reward for making it through spin class. That’s my plan, anyways.

Happy New Year!

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Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

After making the toasted meringue for last week’s bite-of-sunshine key lime cupcakes, I found myself with four leftover egg yolks and needed to find something to make with them. The most obvious answer was a citrus curd, but I’d just made key lime cupcakes, and as much as I love anything key lime, I needed a little break from it.

So, where to turn? Well, Twitter, of course. I tweeted the question and received many helpful responses, but was most intrigued by Casey‘s suggestion of sugar cookies.

Sugar cookies that use only egg yolks? Odd, but I was hooked.

Casey was nice enough to share her recipe with me, a recipe we both agreed is deliciously simple. These sugar cookies were a big hit at work, where I was forced to bring them to stop my incessant snacking.

Plus, I made a double batch and froze the remaining two “logs,” so the next time I’m craving sugar cookies or need to bring a dessert to someone’s home, I’ll be ready to go – all I have to do is slice the cookies and bake them. Oh, and try not to eat them all before they reach their destination.

Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies

Here’s the recipe:

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Happy Halloween! Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars for a Grown-Up Treat

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Some kids, like my sister, never get into the spirit of Halloween. I, on the other hand embraced it. Well, at least part of it. I wasn’t into the scary, creepy aspects of Halloween, but always loved the fun childlike excitement of costumes, carving pumpkins and decorating the house. But I think mostly I embraced it for the candy.

Oh, how I loved all those fun-sized candy bars. There was even a house in the neighborhood that once gave away full-size candy bars and I made sure to visit that house well into high school, just in case they did it again. As for that house that gave out pennies? Let’s just say I wouldn’t have gone there if it wasn’t my friend’s house. There’s always one that just doesn’t get it.

Choc PB Bars: Mix shortbread cookie ingredients Choc PB Bars: Peanut butter filling Choc PB Bars: add sugar to peanut butter mixture

My favorite candies were Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (NOT the pieces), M&Ms, Nestle Crunch, Starbursts and Skittles. Now I find most of these way too cloying in that fakely sweet way, so I decided to make my own adult version of my ultimate favorite: the peanut butter cup, but in a bar form.

This recipe for chocolate peanut butter bars starts with chocolate shortbread that is topped with peanut butter frosting and covered in melted semi-sweet chocolate. The crumbly cookie bottom, creamy and slightly salty peanut butter layer, and rich chocolate coating makes for a delicious treat.

Choc PB Bars: chocolate shortbread Choc PB Bars: spread peanut butter mixture over shortbread Choc PB Bars: pour melted chocolate over bars

Here’s the recipe:

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Pumpkin Surprise Cookies

Pumpkin Surprise Cookies

Pumpkin Surprise Cookies

Autumn is in full swing here in the Midwest, which for me means transitioning to heartier foods along with close-toed shoes and long sleeves. While I’ve been cooking with heartier ingredients I haven’t gotten around to doing much baking and recently found myself craving something pumpkin. What, I didn’t know. I just knew I had to use pumpkin.

So I went to the grocery store to buy a can of pureed pumpkin (plain, not pumpkin pie filling). I didn’t get anything to use with it because I had no clue what I wanted to make.

Pumpkin Cookies01 Pumpkin Cookies02 Pumpkin Cookies06

A few hours later I came across someone on Twitter (and I’m sorry, I have no idea who it was) who tweeted about pumpkin oatmeal. Hmmm… That sounds interesting, I thought. But I wanted to make dessert, not breakfast, which quickly lead to the idea of pumpkin-oatmeal cookies.

On the heels of the sad announcement that Gourmet was shutting down, I turned to the magazine’s website in a moment of nostalgia and searched for a recipe for pumpkin oatmeal cookies. Not surprisingly, nothing turned up, so I searched again, this time for a regular oatmeal cookie recipe that I could modify and found this one for oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I chose it mainly because I was intrigued by the instruction to grind a portion of the oatmeal into a powder, although I later adapted it to grind all the oats. The result is great: a slightly crisp cookie with a bit of chewy oatmeal texture.

Pumpkin Cookies03 Pumpkin Cookies04 Pumpkin Cookies05

In the end I subbed the pumpkin puree for the peanut butter, and changed the seasonings and add-ins to the fall flavors I was craving. There’s still a hint of dark chocolate in the recipeĀ  because I like the flavor contrast with the earthy pumpkin and tangy dried cranberries, but in no way is the chocolate the dominant ingredient. I recommend using shaved chocolate from a bar rather than chocolate chips because they’ll incorporate into the batter better.*

Pumpkin Cookies07

I’m calling these pumpkin surprise cookies because there are a lot of surprising flavors in every small cookie and including each in the title would be overwhelming: pumpkin-chocolate-oatmeal-cranberry-spiced cookies is a bit of a mouthful.

Pumpkin Cookies08

Here’s the recipe:

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Through My Lens: Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Through My Lens: Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Through My Lens: Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

This post is part of “Through My Lens: An Experiment in Interpretation,” hosted by Culinary Snapshot.

Back in the day, I was really into photography, specifically during high school and college. I took many classes, most of which were on black and white photography and was so enamored with the idea of telling a story through a single captured image that I even hoped to become a photojournalist.

However, the second semester of my senior year of college I enrolled in an advanced color photography class. It was interesting at first to learn about different types of light but I quickly grew bored and wound up dropping the class. Part of the reason was a strong case of senioritis, and the other part was that I missed working with my hands the same way I had in the darkroom when I’d processed my own film and developed the prints. Not to mention that the photo world was rapidly turning digital and I wasn’t sure I was on board with that.

As the years went by (wow, I’m sounding old) I continued to take pictures with a point-and-shoot digital camera but had lost the passion and exuberance I’d once had for photography. But at the same time I was getting more and more into cooking, eventually even quitting my job and attending culinary school.

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