Chocolate Chip Cookies

Back in the old days when I worked for a living, I organized a lot of meals for meetings and classes and such.  I used several different catering companies, but I had a soft spot for one in particular.  I don’t even know if they are still in business.

So, why were they my go to?  The cookies.  They made these giant chocolate chip cookies that were to die for.  I’ve been trying to perfect them since I quit working.  I used to beg for the recipe, but sharing was not an option for them.

Each cookie came individually wrapped.  Yes, I would order some for myself.  G was totally hooked on them.  They were soft and chewy in the center and crisp around the edges.  The perfect cookie.  Each one was approximately 3 to 4 inches in diameter and an inch deep.  I’m not making them quite that big, but G would be happy if we did.  This is G’s favorite cookie, raw or cooked, and we’ve worked on perfecting it together.

  • 1 cup butter 
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4  cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup craisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and set rack in middle of oven.
  2. Cream butter.  Add the sugars and beat with the butter until smooth on medium speed. We totally beat it until it is incredibly creamy
  3. Add the eggs and beat on medium just until incorporated with butter and sugars, about 30 seconds.
  4. Turn the mixer off. Add the dry ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients on low until the wet and dry ingredients are mixed together.
  5. Hand mix the nuts, chips and craisins.
  6. Place large tablespoons on parchment on cookie sheets.
  7. Bake approximately 13 to 15 minutes.
  8. The cookies are done when the top is a bit golden and the bottom is also golden.
  9. Do not over bake. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.  End of joke, laugh here!

*  From the Recipe Box:

We also like them with butterscotch chips, oatmeal, almost anything.  The more filler, the better.

I usually take a tablespoon of flour from the dry ingredients and mix it with the nuts, chocolate chips and craisins.  This keeps them suspended in the dough.

I prefer a 50/50 mixture of butter and Crisco, but this is the way G likes it and it is his favorite.

Cookie cooling racks are unnecessary.  I spread out newspaper or dish towels and put parchment over it.  Viola.

and remember:  If you don’t know what your passion is, realize that one reason for your existence on earth is to find it.  Big kiss, Lynn

Date Bars

Grandma Olson used to make these a hundred years or so ago.  I loved them as a little girl.  I didn’t know that dates were an acquired taste.  I just thought if Grandma made them, they must be good.  And I was right.  Well, a caveat.  That didn’t hold true for lutefisk however.  Some things just never improve no matter who made them.

These are a very soft bar cookie.  The filling is cooked before baking, but remains tender.  I don’t find them very sweet, but I wouldn’t add any extra sugar or sweetener of any kind.  Dates are amazingly sweet if you allow them to filter through your taste buds.  I usually add a bit more salt than called for, which adds to the illusion of sweetness.  I like these a lot and hope you will enjoy them as well.

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Mix together thoroughly:

3/4 cup soft shortening (part butter)

1 cup brown sugar

Sift together and stir in:

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt

Stir in:  1 1/2 cups rolled oats

Mix thoroughly. Place one-half of this crumb mixture in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.  Press and flatten with hands to cover bottom of pan. Spread with cooled filling (see below).  Cover with remaining crumb mixture, patting lightly.  Bake until lightly browned, approximately 25 to 30 minutes.  While warm, cut into bars and remove from pan.

Filling:

Mix together in saucepan:

3 cups cut-up dates

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups water

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 10 minutes).  Cool.

and remember this conversation between Mrs. Darling and Michael, in Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie: 

There are many different kinds of bravery. There’s the bravery of thinking of others before ones self. Now, your father has never brandished a sword nor fired a pistol, thank heavens. But he has made many sacrifices for his family, and put away many dreams.”

Where did he put them?”

“He put them in a drawer. And sometimes, late at night, we take them out and admire them. But it gets harder and harder to close the drawer… He does. And that is why he is brave.”

I was 11 when I first read this book up at Aunty Kay’s cabin at Warm Beach.  It had an amazing impact on me then and I treasure the memories to this day.  I don’t know if I still feel the same way about everything.  Time to read it again.  Big kiss, Lynn

Nigella’s Forgotten Cookies

G and I were watching Nigella’s Christmas cooking show when this vision of deliciousness came on.  We are huge meringue fans.  They are so light, yet satisfying.  The pistachios added a really nice touch.  We didn’t have time to make them before Christmas, but it’s never too late in my opinion.

I’ve not made many of Nigella’s recipes.  Her explanations seem very clear and concise, so feel free to give her a shot and let me know.  She’s a bit theatrical, but seems to know her stuff.  I also have to admit I love the twinkle lights she has all over her kitchen.  I may have stolen her decorating idea and they are currently hanging on my deck and dining room.  Like I told you before, you take good ideas whenever you see them.

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • pinch fine salt
  • 1/2 cup caster or superfine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup pistachios finely chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.  Whisk together the egg whites and salt in a grease-free bowl, until you have soft peaks. Whisk in the sugar a little at a time until thick and gleaming.
  2. By hand, fold in the cornstarch, vinegar and cardamom, then add the chocolate chips and most of the pistachios and very gently fold these in too.
  3. With a spoon, drop mounded blobs of the mixture, 2 inches in diameter, onto the prepared tray. Sprinkle with the remaining pistachios.
  4. Put the cookies into the oven, shut the door and turn off the oven immediately.  Let the cookies sit in the turned-off oven overnight.

*  From the Recipe Box:

This makes about a dozen.

We both thought these were too soft.  Next time I’ll leave the oven on for 10 or 15 minutes before turning it off and leaving the meringues overnight.

and remember:  As a woman, I feel too deeply and care too much.  That’s what makes my love so strong.  That’s also what makes me a real bitch if you fuck with me.  Big kiss, Lynn

Stuffed Dates

I know what you’re thinking, ‘I needed this recipe before the holidays, not after’.  You’re wrong.  It’s never too early or too late for a good nibble.  We love this recipe.  I have to give G credit for the goat cheese.  He’s a big fan and it was his idea to start using it instead of cream cheese.  This is the complete combination of sweet and savory.

We usually approach this as a team effort.  It doesn’t take forever, it only seems that way if you’re doing it by yourself.  We are lucky enough to have a large bulk food department at our local grocery store here on the Island.  If you can get pitted date, by all means do so.  It’s hard enough making the slice for filling without going all the way through the date.  This is a sticky operation.  Also, if you’re a good Norwegian like me, the minute you start smelling dates, you want a date bar.  I’ll make some soon and share Grandma Olson’s recipe with you.

This much bacon will make about 24 stuffed dates.  G and I usually double this depending on how many people we plan on serving.

12 ounce package bacon (you don’t want the thick cut style)

1 pound of pitted dates

7 ounces goat cheese

Cut the bacon in half.  This will yield approximately 24 slices.  Slice the dates to give yourself cheese access.  Fill each date with about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese.  Wrap each one with a slice of bacon.  Skewer with a toothpick.  This will hold everything in place and give you a handle for when it’s time to eat them.  Place on a cookie sheet topped with parchment or a silpat.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, turning them about half way through.

*  From the Recipe Box:

With a 7 ounce package you will have plenty of cheese to make a couple of batches.

We like to serve them warm or room temperature.

and remember:  You are the result of 4 billion years of evolution; act like it!  Big kiss, Lynn

Chocolate Mousse

I have a brother who lives and breathes chocolate.  I think I told you about his annual nut-less fudge.  If we go out to eat, he always has chocolate mousse for dessert.  I remembered mom used to make it for him, so I went searching for her recipe.  I’ve included a picture of one of her 3-ring binders.  She was constantly exploring new recipes and ideas.  This recipe is from this binder.

I know what you’re thinking, no way it can be this easy.  Well, you would be wrong.  There are so many recipes we assume to be difficult that are really easy-peasy.  Today seemed like a good day for mousse since it’s the hunka-hunka’s birthday week.  (When you’re birthday is this close to Christmas, you get a whole week.)

Now I’m sure you can find a more difficult recipe, a recipe with more steps, something that will make you so cranky you won’t want to eat it when you’re done, but why?  Three ingredients seems like a good plan to me.  I don’t know where the recipe came from.  I added the 70% cacao classification.  I doubt if mom was aware of these labels.  We knew bitter, semi and milk chocolate back then.

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao or higher), chopped, plus chocolate shavings

30 regular-size marshmallows

2 c. heavy cream

  1. In large bowl, combine chocolate, marshmallows and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Microwave on High 2 minutes; stir until marshmallows are melted and mixture is smooth (if not melted after 2 minutes, microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring in between). Needless to say, mom did this in a double boiler.  Let cool to room temp, about 45 minutes.
  2. Once mixture is cool, whip remaining cream in bowl until soft peaks form; transfer 1/2 cup to small bowl for topping. Refrigerate.
  3. Stir half of remaining whipped cream into cooled chocolate mixture until fully incorporated, then gently fold in the rest. Spoon into eight 4-ounce ramekins. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  4. To serve, top with reserved whipped cream and sprinkle with shaved chocolate, if desired.

*  From the Recipe Box:

This tastes dark and rich and no one will believe there are only 3 ingredients, so don’t tell.  It’s very thick and fudge-like.  Increase the whipped cream if you want a creamier consistency.  I usually mix 2 cups whip cream and a jigger of liquor for each serving.  G likes it a little creamier.

I’ve been known to pour a jigger of Bailey’s or something along those lines on top.

and remember:  Just a friendly reminder that you are talented, beautiful, brilliant and worthy of good love and respect.  Honor this by surrounding yourself with people who deserve your magic.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

Turtle Rolos

A hundred years or so ago, the neighbor boy always wanted to go to the grocery story with the golden child and I.  I found out later it was because I always bought them Rolos.  So much for thinking it was neighborly love.  We’ve always liked Rolos in this family.  We love our caramel.

This is a new recipe for me.  Could it be any easier?  I don’t think so.  They end up tasting like a turtle candies.  As usual, it takes longer to unwrap the Rolos than it does to put the candy together.

36 Pecan halves

36 Rolo candies
36 mini pretzel knots

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Unwrap the Rolos.
  • Place the pretzels on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and top each one with an unwrapped Rolo candy.
  • Bake in oven for 3 minutes, until the chocolate just begins to melt. The Rolo should be soft but not completely melted.
  • Remove from oven, place on cooling rack and immediately squish the Rolo with a pecan. Watch the caramel ooze out.

*  from the Recipe Box:

The original recipe I saw said to bake the Rolos for 3 to 5 minutes.  Don’t do it!  I baked mine for 4 minutes and that was too long.  You want them soft, not melted, so go with 2 to 3 minutes.

Rold Gold are my favorite pretzels.  However, next time I won’t use them.  Snyder makes a square pretzel that would support the Rolo better.  They look like a grid and the caramel won’t ooze through.  I still like Rold Gold best flavor wise.

G also made a good point:  a salty pretzel is best.  It complements the sweetness of the Rolo better.

I know you’re thinking it’s a stupid candy for god’s sake, but you want everything to be the best it can be.  True?

and remember: On the good ship Lollipop, it’s a sweet trip to the candy shop, where bonbons play, on the sunny beach of peppermint bay.  Lemonade stands everywhere, crackerjack bands fill the air, and there you are, happy landings on a chocolate bar. Big kiss, Lynn

Two-tone Cookies

Hooray, a new cookie….I’m loving it.  Just when you think you’ve seen it all, there it is.  I acknowledge freely that each and everyone of my teeth is a “sweet tooth”.  I love cookies, even more than pie or cake.  Coffee and cookies should be the national dish of the USA.  I know it’s the state dish of Minnesota.

I found a similar recipe to this one in one of my mom’s binders, so I went on the Hershey’s website looking for an update.  These are super easy and quite tasty.  They are soft and moist.  Plus, they passed my brother the chocoholic’s taste test.

My favorite part is the way they show up on a cookie platter.  Usually cookies don’t stand out; they all have a pretty standard color range.  I wish Hershey’s made colored kisses, but I guess I’m asking for too much.  These cookies would look totally cool with colored kisses though.  Hint, hint.  The Hugs mirror the cookie so well, I guess I shouldn’t complain.

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick) , softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 48 Hershey’s Hugs Candies, unwrapped

  • 1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  • 2. Beat butter, shortening and sugar until well blended. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir together 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually beat into butter mixture.
  • 3. Divide dough mixture in half. Add remaining 2 tablespoons flour to one half and cocoa to the other half, blending well. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. (Roll together a pinch of vanilla dough and a pinch of chocolate dough for marbled cookies.) Place balls on ungreased cookie sheets.
  • 4. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until cookies are set. Remove from oven to wire rack. Cool 1 minute. Press candy piece into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool completely.
  • Makes about 48 cookies.

*  from the Recipe Box:

As you can see, I did not use Hugs, I used regular Kisses.  You know my rule, no store trips for only one item.  I do have a bag of Hugs now, so I’ll keep you posted.

I rolled out 48 balls of each flavor and then combined them.

and remember what the Lumineers sang:  I belong with you, you belong with me; you’re my sweetheart.  Big kiss, Lynn