Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think I may have figured out a way to improve chocolate chip cookies. Just add bacon! Salty, fatty bacon combines with dark chocolate morsels to make for a cookie that is decadently addictive. This recipe makes half the usual recipe of cookies, mainly because I was making smaller batches for my experiments but also because you need to eat these all up faster than non-baconated cookies.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 strips bacon, cooked and chopped fine
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla extract, and beat until just blended. Add the dry ingredients; beat until everything is incorporated. Stir in the bacon, chocolate chips and pecans.

Drop by large tablespoons the cookie dough onto the baking sheet. They will spread, so put them 2 to 3 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. They will still be soft in the center. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.

Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

Michelle’s Salty Sweet Peanut Butter Cookies

The NY Times had a recipe for Salty-Sweet Peanut Butter Sandies for the holidays a few years ago. Frankly, it just wasn’t peanutty enough although the salty/sweet coating on top was awesome. Using crunchy peanut butter helped but that also meant dropping the sugar a little. They also weren’t crisp enough, so Michelle made several batches until we determined that baking them longer and flattening them a bit with the classic fork press made us a most excellent peanut butter cookie. 

Michelle's Salty Sweet Peanut Butter Cookies


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups crunchy peanut butter (I prefer Skippy Super Crunch)
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon flake salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter two baking sheets.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add the peanut butter and eggs, and mix. Add the flour and salt and mix just until well combined, with no white flour showing.

Scoop 2 tablespoons dough onto prepared pans. Flatten with fork dipped in water to form a criss cross pattern. The cookies will not spread much or change shape when they bake, so they can be placed quite close together, but leave room for air circulation so they can brown. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoons sugar with 1 1/2 teaspoon flake salt. Sprinkle each cookie generously with sugar-salt mixture, being sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies.

Bake 15-17 minutes, until cookies are set and golden-brown. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes. Carefully lift or slide off baking sheets and cool the rest of the way on racks. Store in airtight containers.

Chocolate Mint Syrup

At the Spring plant sale of the New Orleans Herb Society, I picked up a small plant of chocolate mint. It has really taken off and I needed a perfect recipe in which to use some of it.

The chocolate mint is growing out of the pot!

I made the sauce to gild the lily of my Chocolate Oblivion Torte, which I made again this year for Michelle’s birthday. It can also be poured into warm milk for a great hot chocolate or heated back up and drizzled over ice cream.

Chocolate Mint Syrup

1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup sugar
30 chocolate mint leaves, rinsed, patted dry, and torn into pieces

In a small saucepan, combine the cocoa powder and cold water, and whisk together until smooth. Add the sugar and torn mint leaves and place the saucepan over medium heat.

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly to melt the sugar. As soon as the syrup begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. It will thicken and turn glossy.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

When the syrup has cooled to near room temperature, strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a clean jar. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

A gravy boat of chocolate mint sauce is what dreams are made of!

Recreating Sand Tarts

I can remember getting Charles Chips delivered when I was a kid. While the taste of the potato chips  have faded from memory, I still think on the Sand Tarts we would also order from them sometimes. Those cookies weren’t entirely a sugar cookie and weren’t shortbread either. Light, crisp and with a hint of cinnamon, they were a delicious after school snack. Today, you can buy a 1lb tin for $19.99 but I’m not going to spend that much for cookies, so I needed to recreate this recipe for myself.

After searching the web and talking to my Mom, I decided to use a melange of several recipes. Using both shortening and butter makes the cookies crisp but not too fragile. Having both granulated sugar and brown sugar adds a depth to the flavor. You can also put in some finely chopped, toasted pecans if you want a good cookie that is (to paraphrase Douglas Adams) almost, but not quite, entirely unlike sand tarts.

Sand Tarts

1/2 cup shortening
½ cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2  cup toasted pecans, chopped fine (optional)
Cinnamon Sugar (Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon) to sprinkle on top of cookies

Cream shortening and butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix just until medium-soft dough is formed. Do not over-mix. Chill for several hours (or as long as overnight) in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll out on floured surface as the sand tarts need to be thin to crisp up. Cut with cookie cutters into the shape of your choice. Brush tops with egg white, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Place 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes. Let cool on the pan for one minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I woke up this morning dreaming about stirring melted chocolate. It was very vivid and while that is better than waking up having the refrain from “Momma Tried” running through your head, it is still something that stays with you for a while after you get up.

I decided to go where my subconscious led me and made these chocolate, chocolate chip cookies. Basically, you melt 4 tablespoons of the butter with 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate. More chocolate is more better! They are crisp on the edges and chewy in the center – yummy!

My metal beastie stands guard over the cookies.

Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (two sticks), divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup toasted, chopped nuts, optional
flake salt for sprinkling, optional

Melt 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate with 4 tablespoons of the butter in a double boiler. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.

Beat remaining butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Pour in melted chocolate. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts, if using.

Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour to give the flour proteins and starches a chance to rest. While Jacques Torres would have you rest the dough 24 to 72 hours, I’m not wired to be able resist that kind of temptation. An hour is my max and it is still an effort to not to sneak out all the cookie dough during that time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove dough from the refrigerator and drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle lightly with flake salt, if desired.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are slightly firm in the center. Remove from the oven and cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Limoncello Cheesecake For My Birthday

Michelle made me an awesome cheesecake for my birthday. With lemon juice and limoncello liquor, it was amazingly creamy and lemony and off the hook delicious.

This makes a lot of cheesecake – it almost overfilled a 10″ springform pan. You could use two store bought graham cracker pie shells, instead. If you’re making your own crust, it will take 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs mixed with 5 tablespoons of melted butter to coat the bottom of the well buttered pan.

Because this is a low and slow method of cheesecake cookery, do not use a water bath in the oven.

 

Limoncello Cheesecake

4 packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
5 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup 2% Greek yogurt (we used Fage)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup limoncello liquor
1 tablespoon finely chopped lemon peel
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Whip the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugar and mix to combine. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the flour and yogurt. Slowly mix in the lemon juice and limoncello. Add in the vanilla extract and lemon peel.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 3 hours.

Remove from oven and crank the heat to 500 degrees F. Place the cheesecake back in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes to brown the top. Turn off the oven and crack the door and let the cheese cake cool down for 30 minutes. Then run a knife along the edge to release from the pan and cool on the counter for another 30 minutes before putting it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before releasing the sides of the pan.

Pudding Filled Yellow Cake

My very good friend, Charlotte, had a birthday earlier this month and requested a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I picked up at a rummage sale a two part cake pan to make filled cakes (most of the pictures were fruit based fillings but I immediately thought chocolate).

To start with, I used a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen that combines the technique of a chiffon cake to a butter cake in order to get a moist, tender and fluffy cake. Of course, that requires that you actually read the recipe and only put in 6 yolks and 3 whites. I put in 3 whole eggs, 3 yolks and 3 whites and the cake was a little dry – this was entirely mitigated by the pudding filling but, the fact remains that I messed things up a bit by not being careful with my reading of the recipe.

In any event, Charlotte was happy with her birthday cake and I was happy with the leftovers!

Pudding Filled Yellow Cake

2 ½ cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon table salt
1 ¾ cups sugar, divided
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
3 large egg whites

Bring all ingredients to room temperature before beginning.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your cake pans, dust pans with flour and knock out excess. I used my Mrs. Fields Fill N Flip Cake pans but you can use two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.

In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside.

Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.

Using a rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, then invert onto wire rack. Cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours before filling and frosting.

You don’t want your filling in a Fill and Flip cake to be too dense. You can lighten pudding to almost mousse like consistency with a little extra work. To make a mock mouse: add cream instead of milk to a small box of instant pudding and, using a hand mixer or a whisk and some elbow grease, whip until it is almost mousse like.

For the frosting, I used a chocolate buttercream that I typically use on Doberge cake:

Rich Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 ounce square semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup milk or cream
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt chocolate with milk and whisk to combine. Cream sugar and butter, then add cocoa, then the melted chocolate milk and vanilla.