23 February 2010

TWD: OMG MEGA POST: February is Kind of a Wack Month, Anyway

So just as I started picking up some occasional readers on this here blog, I get ghost.  Not altogether atypical of me, but as a blog reader, I do so hate that!  There really hasn't been much going on (besides a general complete and utter lack of motivation to do much of anything--your hostess is Not At Her Best these days), and I have been keeping up with TWD;  just not always in time to post for Tuesday. 

So today--even though it's late--I'm gonna do a catchup post on the last three TWD entries*, all of which were cookies, so of course I made them all, and I've got the dough in the fridge to show for it.  Enjoy!

My very first substantial post here at OC was about brownies.  I love brownies, but (surprise surprise) I am very particular about them.  I don't care for brownies masquerading as cake, nor do I like squares of frosting or fudge pretending to be brownies.  The post gave my favorite recipe, an old one from the 1950ish Betty Crocker Cookbook.  These brownies, to me, are perfect--shiny-topped, nice and easy to cut and sticky-chewy chocolate goodness--basic box brownie consistency but a 100% better taste. 

I was a little iffy when I saw TWD posts describing these brownies as "gooey", and also when I saw the rather intensive process involved in making them.  But I signed up for this group for a reason--to challenge myself to try the recipes I might not ordinarily gravitate towards.  So I bought the chocolate and off I went.

I did a half recipe in an 8x8 pan.  I lined it with parchment to avoid sticking.

I also baked them a little longer than the directions called for.  The edges were good and cookie-like;  the middle was squishier but still had some texture to it.  

Verdict:  good.  Very buttery, some chewiness; the more fudgy sections in the middle were still edible enough.  I was glad I used the half-recipe-in-similar-pan edit;  if I had twice the batter I think they would have been too fudgy to be edible for me.  I don't think these will replace my BCC recipe in the everyday repetoire--for one thing, they are too fussy--but they might get a repeat viewing if I want a slightly different brownie.

If I am exacting about brownies, it stands to reason that I'm exacting about chocolate chip cookies, too.  Like my brownies, I like them chewy and buttery. I also like a HEALTHY dose of brown sugar and salt--to me, it's those things that make chocolate chip cookies exciting and addictively delicious, not the chips, which I really often think people go overboard with. 

Looking over this recipe, it's a lot like the basic Toll House recipe, the one I usually use, but with a decreased brown-to-white sugar ratio and more exacting directions.  There's really not much to say about putting them together--chocolate chip cookies are about the most basic things ever.  My only real tweaks:  I did go for full salt, I added about a cup of walnuts, and my chocolate chips/chunks were a mix of 60% chocolate, 70% chocolate, and a few milk chocolate chips I had leftover from something a while back.

Verdict:  Excelente.

I could definitely taste the difference--the decreased brown sugar flavor--right away, but after a day or so I didn't really miss it.  The salt is a must.   The texture was great--they were nice and chewy and the mix of chocolates was very good.  A lot of TWDers complained that their cookies were flat;  I don't know why, but mine were not flat at all but lovely little plump discs that held the exact shape they were scooped into.

yeah, yeah, I know.  I took the polish off, ok?

They get a bit more crunchy after a day, but they are still chewy in the middle.  I've now had the dough in the fridge for over a week and every so often I scoop out a pan and bake twelve, a very nice plus, especially since I cannot stop eating them.  (Which reminds me why I never make chocolate chip cookies--it's not just because I can't decorate them.)  I don't have to toss my beloved Toll House recipe overboard, but I likes.  An entirely acceptable alternative.

These seemed more exciting.  Definitely not somthing I'd choose to make;  who the heck has wheat germ sitting around the house?  I'm not even sure what it is used for;  I am just old enough that I do vaguely remember when "wheat germ" was code for "crunchy granola hippie weirdo food"  and since our household was neither crunchy nor granola nor hippie-esque, there was no place for such in the larder.  Plus the stuff goes bad!  Really? 

But!  I found a small-ish bag of wheat germ at the local Snooty Chain Supermarket in this here Tiny Town, and all the other ingredients I did have on hand, so I got to work.

I had lemons in the fridge, but I didn't feel like zesting them (see: motivation, complete lack thereof) so I broke out my little bottle of dehydrated lemon zest and rehydrated them suckers.

I also found I had two kinds of honey in the cabinet.  I'm not even sure what the difference is in various types of honey, but I went halfsies on each.

The dough was very very soft, but I got it into the fridge without incident and left it for about 4 hours.

I liked forming the cookies, though the dough got all melty on my hands.  It reminded me of something I would have made with/for my sisters when they were very little--I seem to recall some "healthy" "no-bake cookie" concoctions involving peanut butter, honey, and oatmeal... 



The cookies are like little honeyed wheaty teacakes.  Kept their shape, light brown on the bottom and pale on the top.

Verdict:  I just made these, so jury is still out.  They are nice (and cute!) but I'm not yet certain they are addictive.  Not much butter flavor;  really I just taste SWEET and WHEAT.  If I make them again I'm definitely going for the real lemon zest;  you can barely taste it.  I'll have a better sense in a couple of days, I think. 

Now I'm all caught up. Let's see if I can get back on track this weekend...

*thank yous go to Tanya at Chocolatechic, Kaitlin of Kait's Plate, and Michelle of Flourchild for all the cookie goodness!

15 February 2010

I'm still alive.

However, I am on the road.  Will hopefully make up by posting double on Tuesday or Wednesday, for realzies!  I made last week's TWD recipe and I plan to do this week's, too.  Bake on, party people!

01 February 2010

TWD: Milk Chocolate Mini Bundts

This was the first TWD assignment (chosen by Kristen) since I've joined that is not new to me.  I've met and done battle with these cakes once before.  The last time was a last-minute emergency dessert effort.  I think I was wanting something chocolate, but needing to clean out the cupboard, and all I had on hand was some bars of milk chocolate for baking that I'd had forever.  I recall being less than impressed with the cake, though I love milk chocolate*;  it sort of reminded me of german chocolate cake (which I LOVE) but only kinda sorta. I was in a hurry, though, and didn't really take any notes.

I thought I'd try it again.  I bought fresh chocolate and had everything sit at room temp all day, while I labored in vain to set up my DVD/VCR to work with (rather than in spite of) my cable system.  Urgh!  This should NOT be this hard.  

why you treat me so bad?  I don't ask y'all for much.  I just wanna watch some football.  A little Peyton, a bit of Who Dat.  Is that really too much?

My electronics were failing me, but I refused to let the cake follow suit.  THIS was going to WORK, dangit!
The batter mixed up easily and is possibly the tastiest cake batter ever.  I don't have a minibundt pan,  just four small pans, and the batter just filled them all;  batter, swirl, batter.

Into the oven they went for about 35 minutes.

I took them out and let one sit for five minutes before turning out.  It broke.  Waited 10 minutes on the second.  Ditto.  I left the other two until I happened to think about them again and they fared much better.  UGH!  They still looked terrible.  I couldn't even take a photo.

Having seen all kinds of complaints about the glaze, I used an alternative from another Dorie recipe, with half and half.  It worked well. Thanks to Peggy the Baker for sharing!

The cake is quite yummy, but kind of dry and I don't like how it stuck to the pans.  Worth keeping but in need of some tweaks; maybe I'll add a finger or two more milk next time. 

Also!  This week--Friday, as a matter of fact--is my half birthday.  I got myself a present:

'tis ON NOW!  

*I really wish milk chocolate would come back in style.  I know Lindt is not super-premium quality, but there just isn't much selection for milk chocolate (and I like Lindt anyway).  I am getting right TIRED of bittersweet everything.  Who's with me?

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