Sugar Cookies

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For those of you with kids (or you’re just a big kid at heart) sometimes there really isn’t anything better than a frosted sugar cookie. I’ve been eating and making these sugar cookies for as long as I can remember. A rainy Saturday leading up to Halloween weekend was spent watching Hocus Pocus and frosting these cookies with my sisters. And even though my daughter is too young to enjoy cookies yet, I just had to keep that tradition going this Halloween season.

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I will be the first to admit that when I’m craving a cookie, a sugary one with icing on it is not my go-to. These sugar cookies, however, are seriously addictive. They are crisp on the bottom, fluffy on the inside, and not too sweet as to overshadow the icing on top. And they are super easy to make!

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Sugar Cookies

Yields 20 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. cream of tartar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Set bowl aside. In large mixing bowl at medium speed, beat the cold butter with the sugar and powdered sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until blended. At low speed, beat in the flour mixture.  (Do not over-mix.) Form the dough into a flat disk, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours.

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The reason why these cookies taste soooo good:) #butta

Preheat oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out portions of the dough to ¼-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes and place on a cookie sheet that is lined either with a silpat or parchment paper. (Check out my chocolate chip cookie recipe for tips on using a silpat vs parchment paper.) Bake cookies for 12 minutes, rotating the cookie sheet halfway through the baking time. Cool cookies before frosting.

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Yields 1 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • food coloring (preferably gel-based, so your icing doesn’t become too runny)

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Add food coloring until the color you want is reached. For easy frosting, place the icing into sturdy ziploc bags and cut the very tip. Squeezable frosting without the mess! You can also use a spatula or knife if you prefer.

Icing note: There are several different ways to make sugar cookie icing. Royal icing, which is used by professionals, is a beautiful, bakery-quality frosting, but is not as accessible to the home chef. Those recipes require either meringue powder (hard to find AND semi-expensive) or raw egg whites (which makes them unsuitable for children to eat…which is ridiculous when you’re making a jack-o-lantern and ghost-shaped cookies). Why waste time on specialty ingredients when you can spend the time actually decorating the cookies? (Or better yet, eating them!)

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Autumn Harvest Granola Bars

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For those of you heading out to the pumpkin patch like we are this weekend, make sure you have plenty of snacks for all of those hay rides, corn mazes, haunted houses, and pumpkin hunting that you’ll be doing! I love having a stash of these homemade granola bars in my pantry for days like this. A little sweetness, healthy nuts and quinoa, and some antioxidant-rich dark chocolate makes those special trips away from home a little easier when the tummy starts growling. The cool thing about these granola bars is that you can really put anything you want in them. I’ve made granola bars loaded with candied ginger for my wife when she was battling morning sickness; we’ve made them with dried blueberries and lemon zest during the summer to take camping or on long hikes; and these particular beauties are chock-full of delicious autumn flavors. As if the pumpkin festivals you’re headed to this weekend won’t have enough pumpkin flavored food (I’m hoping for some pumpkin sausage and pumpkin beer like I had the pleasure of eating last year!), these granola bars will definitely get those pumpkin-hunting juices flowing.

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Autumn Harvest Granola Bars

Yields 18 bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup dried cranberries and chopped, dried apples
  • ¾ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • 1½ tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tbsp honey
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup flax seeds (optional)
  • 3 oz dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place oatmeal on a sheet pan and toast for 4 minutes. Repeat the same step for the sliced almonds, and quinoa. Toast the pecans for 5 minutes, rough chop, and place in the bowl. Mix in the dried fruit, flaxseeds, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and cinnamon to the bowl.

img_4245Line an 8×8″ cake pan with parchment paper that has been lightly coated in coconut oil (or veggie oil/butter, if you prefer). In a small saucepan on medium heat, add in the honey and vanilla extract. Boil the honey mixture until it reaches 300°F (roughly 2-3 minutes, if you don’t have a candy thermometer). Once the honey mixture is ready, add it to the nut-dried fruit mixture and stir until completely coated. Spread the mixture in the lined cake pan, pressing firmly into all of the edges and corners. Let cool for 1 hour. In a double boiler (or microwave, but be careful not to overcook), melt the dark chocolate until smooth. Using a fork, gently flick the chocolate across the granola bars in long ribbons. Cool for an hour, then cut into 18 bars.

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Homemade Pomegranate Ricotta Cheese

img_4207What do guacamole, jelly beans, sourdough bread, and cheese have in common? Basically nothing except I am literally rendered helpless when those foods are placed in front of me. Self-control goes out the window and I become a face-shoveling fiend. They are my kryptonite. But do you know what makes it even worse? When the food is homemade. And there is nothing better than homemade cheese.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a mad scientist with a dozen different cultures, probes, presses, and a ripening cave to make delicious cheese. Ricotta is one of the easiest types of cheese to make AND it tastes wayyyy better than that dry, unflavored stuff you buy in the grocery store. Homemade ricotta is velvety, slightly sweet, slightly salty, takes about 30 minutes to make, and pairs with almost any food imaginable. Whip up ricotta pancakes for breakfast, throw it into a salad for lunch, make a ricotta-based gnocchi for dinner, or mix in seasonal fruit and top your favorite treat with it for dessert like I did with my Rustic Pear and Pecan Galette with Champagne Caramel. For my pear galette, I added a little honey, lemon zest, and fresh pomegranate seeds for a tangy, sweet contrast to the caramel and pears.

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You can also use vinegar instead of lemon juice, but I prefer the sweet tang of lemony ricotta more

Homemade (Pomegranate) Ricotta Cheese

Yields about 2 cups

Ingredients:

For plain ricotta:

  • ½ gallon whole milk
  • juice from 2 lemons, and zest from 1 of those lemons
  • 1 tsp. salt

Place milk in a large saucepan and turn heat to medium-low. Slowly warm the milk to 200°F. The milk will start to get a little foamy as it reaches the correct temperature. Don’t let it boil. Remove the milk from heat, pour in the lemon juice and the salt, and stir gently. Let the milk sit for 10 minutes.

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During this 10 minutes,  the milk will start to separate into clumps of curds and watery, yellow whey. Set a strainer over a bowl and line the strainer with cheese cloth. Pour the curds into the strainer and drain for 10 minutes. (If you want a firmer ricotta, let it drain for 20-30 minutes.) Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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img_4205For pomegranate ricotta, mix in the following with the plain ricotta:

  • zest from the 1 lemon mentioned above
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds, mashing a few as you stir to release juice
  • 1 tbsp. honey

 

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Try the pomegranate ricotta with my Rustic Pear and Pecan Galette with Champagne Caramel!

Rustic Pear and Pecan Galette with Champagne Caramel

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I love dessert. But what I love more than eating dessert is making it. I did get my start in sweets, after all. At the age of 6, I was whipping out brownies and cookies like no one’s business. And I’m sure it’s that 6-year-old inside of me that still craves pulling out the sugar jar and cookie sheet to this day. But despite my immense love for baking sweets, I actually don’t have much of a sweet tooth (shh, don’t tell the chocoholics in my family). Don’t get me wrong, a delicious meal isn’t complete without a sweet finish. But my idea of dessert these days plays with the sweet just as much as the savory.

Here’s something I’ve learned about baking desserts: it’s hard! I’ve worked as a cake designer, pastry chef, and savory chef and I will not hesitate to say that those sweet chefs are extremely talented people. Not only do you have to be an artist and a sculptor, but you have to be a scientist as well. One minor variation in measurement takes your soufflé from fab to flop. This is probably why I love it so much: I love a challenge. It fuels my creativity. Buuuut, then there are the days when the savory portion of the meal needs to be just as buzz-worthy as the dessert. So this is where the galette comes in. Its rustic beauty is simple, full of flavor, and takes a fraction of the time to prepare with little to no stress. Pair it with champagne caramel (recipe below) and homemade pomegranate ricotta (recipe to come!) and you’ll have a dessert your friends will be knocking at your door for daily.

img_4165Rustic Pear and Pecan Galette

Yields 8 portions

Ingredients:

  • 4 d’anjou pears
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp.  plus 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. plus ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup pecans, toasted
  • 2 tsp. sugar, plus extra for topping
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • ice water

img_4162Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a food processor, blend the toasted pecans, 1 cup flour, 2 tsp. sugar, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. ginger, and butter. Add 1 tbsp. of ice water at a time until the dough comes together in one piece. Roll dough into a ball, flatten, tightly wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hours or overnight (dough can be chilled for 2 days).

For the pears, squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a large bowl. Cut the core out of the pears and slice thinly lengthwise (if you want it to be a SUPER rustic tart, don’t worry about the cleanliness of your cuts. Just try to make them are as close in size as possible so that the dough lies flat when baked). Toss the pears with the lemon juice occasionally so they don’t brown. Add the brown sugar, 1 tbsp. flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. ginger, ¼ tsp. nutmeg, and ¼ tsp. salt to the bowl with the pears and mix gently but thoroughly.

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Roll out your dough into a 12-inch circle (about 1/8″ thick) on parchment paper. Place the pears evenly in the center of the dough, leaving about 1 ½” to the edge. Fold the dough up around the pears gently, making sure to stretch or cover any holes that appear. Brush the milk or cream around the top of the exposed dough and sprinkle with sugar. Transfer the galette and parchment paper to a cookie sheet. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

img_4163Champagne Caramel

Yields 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups champagne or prosecco
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 cloves (optional)
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

img_4169In a small saucepan on medium heat, boil champagne, star anise, and cloves until it reduces to about ¼ cup (about 15 minutes). Discard cloves and star anise and set aside. In medium saucepan, combine water and sugar carefully (don’t slosh the water around or the sugar will crystalize before the caramel is made). Cook over medium heat, gently swirling the pan occasionally so the sugar doesn’t burn. After about 5 minutes the sugar will start to turn gold brown. Remove from heat and whisk in the reduced champagne and butter (the sugar will bubble rapidly, so be careful!). Drizzle over galette… or ice cream…. or cereal… or just have a spoonful of it!

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Warm Winter Squash and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

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If I haven’t said it enough, I LOVE fall/winter produce. I think it’s because the complimentary flavors and spices remind me of family, warmth, and the holidays… basically nostalgia in a bowl. So when we had a dinner party with friends this past weekend, I wanted to make a dish with all of my favorites. This warm salad makes a great side dish for dinner, lunch on a cool day, or even breakfast when topped with a fried egg!

Warm Winter Squash and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

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Use a vegetable peeler to help peel off that tough butternut squash skin!

Yields 6 portions

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs Brussels sprouts
  • 3 medium delicata squashes
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tart apples
  • ½ cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 sprig of thyme, leaves picked off
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup plus ¾ cup neutral oil (avocado, canola, or vegetable)
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • salt and pepper

In a blender combine 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds, maple syrup, garlic, thyme, cayenne, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, oil, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Blend vinaigrette until emulsified* and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if you would like. Add in the remaining whole pomegranate seeds and reserve vinaigrette until later.

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*Emulsified means breaking up the oil molecules so that they are suspended within the vinegar, creating a cohesive dressing.

For this roasted salad you’ll either need 4 baking sheets or you can roast in batches then reheat all of the vegetables in the oven just before serving. I know that’s a lot of roasting but bear with me, this dish is amazingggg.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut the Brussels sprouts in quarters and season with a pinch of salt, pepper, and 1 tsp oil. Arrange Brussels sprouts in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, or until edges start to brown. To prep the delicata, cut the ends off and then cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and cut delicata into 1 inch cubes. Season with a pinch of salt, pepper, ¼ tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon,  and 1 tsp. oil. Arrange delicata in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until edges start to brown.

For the butternut squash, peel skin with a vegetable peeler. Cut top and bottom stems off, cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds. Cut butternut squash in 1 inch chunks and season with a pinch of salt, pepper, ¼ tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, and 1 tsp. oil. Arrange butternut squash in a single layer on a baking sheet roast for 15-20 minutes, or until edges start to brown.

The onion and apples can be prepared together: cut the top and bottom stems off the onion, cut in half, peel off the skin, and cut into 1 inch pieces. Core the apple and cut into 1 inch pieces. Place both on the same baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes.

So — that wasn’t so bad, right? Now all that’s left to do is mix the warm vegetables with toasted pecans, ½ cup of the vinaigrette, and serve! Autumn, holidays, cozy nights by the fire, snowy mornings, and warm fuzzy feelings all wrapped up in a pretty (and delicious) dish.

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Homemade Chicken Stock

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Now that you’ve roasted the most delicious whole chicken and carved it to perfection, don’t be so quick to throw the bones in the trash. Even after you’ve wished upon that wish bone, the leftover bones are the beginning of many tasty soups, stews, and sauces… in the form of chicken stock, that is. Chicken stock is incredibly easy to make and freezes for up to 3 months…just long enough to keep you warm during chilly winter days. And if you plan ahead, this is a great place to use up scraps from onions, garlic, and carrots that you’ve saved up throughout the week.

img_4156Chicken Stock

Yields 10 cups

Ingredients:

  • Bones from whole chicken
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of thyme

Preheat oven to 450°F. Rough chop onions, celery, and carrots and place on a sheet pan. Roast for 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown slightly. Place whole chicken carcass on a sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes.

In a large stock pot over medium heat, place herbs, garlic, roasted vegetables, and roasted chicken and cover with water (about 12 cups). Once boiling, turn heat down to low, cover with a lid, and simmer chicken stock for 1 hour. After 1 hour, strain stock through a fine mesh strainer.

Make sure you cool the stock down to 41°F within 6 hours if you’re not using it immediately. Also, a note on seasoning: I chose to make my stock unsalted so that I can add in the salt when I’m using it for a dish. Feel free to add your own seasonings if you prefer.

How To Carve A Whole Chicken

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Carving a bird at the dinner table has been a role of great prestige in my family. I remember watching my grandpa cut into the turkey every Thanksgiving with the biggest smile on his face as he stood and cracked jokes with the family crammed around the table. And my dad always took pride as he cut into the turkey he spent all day on for his family. I find that my weekly carving of our Sunday night roasted chicken is a little homage to those special men I had in my life. But it did take some practice. I, too, was a little intimated about cutting into that Thanksgiving turkey when I had my chance. My grandpa and dad made it look so easy. And it actually is! A chicken and a turkey are basically the same in terms of the carving process. With these tips, you too will find carving-ease on Sunday nights, Thanksgiving afternoons, or any other day you you’re craving a delicious roasted bird.

There are several ways to cut a chicken, but for this tutorial I’m going to explain the 6-piece and 8-piece cut chicken. Both are standard, simple techniques and the only difference between the two is cutting the leg into the drumstick and thigh. These techniques are great money savers too. Why spend twice (or three times) as much on pre-cut chicken when you can cut your own!

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  1. Start with a perfectly roasted (and rested) chicken (or raw chicken, if you prefer to roast individual pieces).

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2.  Cut into the skin just above the leg — this will expose the thigh socket and joint.

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3. Forcefully pull the leg away from the body until the joint pops. This will be surprisingly easy if the bird is cooked completely.

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4. This is where you turn a 6 piece cut chicken into an 8 piece. To cut the drumstick from the thigh, cut along the groove that visibly separates the two. Wiggle the edge of your knife around slightly to find the joint and pry the thigh free from the drumstick.

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8-piece cut chicken separates the thigh and drumstick. Easiest for sharing at the dinner table.

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5. To cut the wing, pull it slightly away from the bird and then use your knife to cut through and separate the wing joint.

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6. Now you should only be left with the breasts! Cut along the breast bone at a 45° angle. To help with a clean cut, use your hands to pry the breast meat away from the bone as you cut it. Serve the breasts whole or slice at a 45 °angle into 1 inch pieces.

Extra secret chef tip: Have you ever looked for, or better yet, tasted a chicken oyster?? Not actually a seafood oyster, the chicken version is comprised of two oyster-shaped pieces of dark meat hidden on either side of the backbone. It’s arguably two of the tastiest pieces of the chicken. So before you throw your chicken bones into the stock pot for homemade chicken stock, hunt for these little guys first! Just turn the carved chicken over to expose the backbone and the oysters should be staring right at you.

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See, its a piece of cake (er…chicken?). No need to worry when Thanksgiving rolls around. Grab that carving knife and wield it with pride.

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Whole roasted chicken cut into 6 pieces.
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Whole roasted chicken cut into 8 pieces.

How To Truss A Chicken

img_4020Trussing a chicken can be a daunting yet one of the most important aspects of preparing a roasted chicken. Once you’ve mastered the technique, however, it makes the whole experience a seemingly easy and tasty one. A properly trussed chicken ensures an even cook throughout the whole bird while making it a beautiful centerpiece for the dinner table. And after you’ve learned how to carve a chicken I guarantee you’ll be roasting chickens every chance you get.

chicken-1536439_1920When it comes to trussing a chicken there seem to be two philosophies: classic/traditional vs modern. The traditional or classic way to truss a chicken makes for that picturesque bird you see gracing the covers of food magazines around this time of year. The problem I found with this technique is that it doesn’t produce the best tasting chicken. As you can see, the entire bird is compacted into itself. Because of this tight trussing, certain parts of the legs and thighs are not as exposed to the oven heat. The breasts are more likely to overcook before those internal thighs pieces cook, making the end product less tasty as a whole. And you are roasting a whole chicken, after all— Why waste all of that precious time and delicious meat on a trussing issue? Have no fear: I have a better approach! One that cooks every part of the bird evenly and gives you a magazine-worthy golden chicken to serve to your family and friends.

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  1. Start with the chicken’s legs pointed toward you with the breasts up, and place a 4′ length of kitchen string underneath his back. (This may seem like a lot of string, but it’s better to work with a lot of length and trim at the end, than find you’re coming up short.)

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2. Bring the string straight up and over his wings (into his “armpits”).

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3. Cross the string in front and back down, pulling the neck skin down as you do so. This step keeps that skin from riding up during the roasting process, protecting the top of the breasts so they don’t dry out.

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4. Bring the strings down (after the crisscross around the neck), over the wings (to keep them secure), over each drumstick, and cross the string again around the keel bone. Pull it and hold it tight before moving to the next step.

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5. Loop each string under the respective leg and over the top, pulling tight enough to draw the legs outwards.

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6. Flip the chicken over and tie a triple knot.

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Voila! The perfectly trussed chicken ready to be roasted! Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work perfectly the first time. It will get easier with each bird. And think of all that yummy chicken you can practice on!

Roasted Chicken

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For my family, weekend activities range from hikes, day trips, and mini vacations to chores and cuddles in front of movies. But wherever the weekend takes us, we always like to close it out with a comforting and warm meal together. For us, the classic roasted chicken is our go-to most Sunday nights. And with cold weather just around the corner, this meal is sure to keep us warm and fuzzy all fall and winter long. And not only do we get a great night of food and conversation around the dinner table but a few days of leftovers and homemade chicken stock as well.  What I love about this recipe is that it’s so simple and yet it produces the best tasting chicken ever. No bangs and whistles, just a little herbs, salt, and pepper and you have a dinner your friends will be talking about for months…until Thanksgiving, of course, and then you’re on turkey duty.

img_4025Roasted Chicken

Yields 6-8 portions (depending on the size)

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 lb. whole chicken, preferably organic
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • ¼ tsp. plus 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. plus 1 tbsp. salt

One day prior to roasting, remove the chicken from any packaging and place on a paper towel-lined plate and store in the fridge. This crucial step allows the skin to dry out slightly, creating a crispier skin when roasted. And since that is arguably one of the most fought after pieces of the bird, definitely take the time to rest it overnight. On roasting day and two hours prior to cooking, pull the chicken out of the refrigerator and place on the counter to come up to room temperature. If you were to place the cold, refrigerated chicken straight into the oven, certain spots (the cold spots) could take longer to cook than others, resulting in a mishmash of internal cooking temperatures. Letting the chicken come up to room temperature allows each part to cook evenly without drying out one portion of the chicken and undercooking another.

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For taking the most accurate internal temperature, insert the thermometer where the thigh and body cavity meet. Make sure to take a couple temperatures, moving the thermometer slightly each time to ensure the temp is correct.

Preheat oven to 475°F. I prefer to roast my chicken at a higher temperature because it prevents the chicken from drying out too fast. The longer the bird hangs out in the oven, the more juices are extracted and evaporated, leaving you with dried out meat. So go high for a juicy chicken. Before trussing the chicken (Don’t worry if you don’t know how! Check out my tips on properly trussing a chicken here.), stuff the cavity with the fresh rosemary and thyme and generously season with ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Truss the chicken properly to ensure even cooking. When the bird is trussed, place in a roasting pan (not necessary, but it does allow for an even cook around the entire chicken) and roast in the oven for about 1 hour, or until the skin is golden brown and the internal temperature is 155°F. Rest the chicken for 15 minutes before carving. (Check out my post on how to carve a whole chicken.) And don’t forget to save the bones for homemade chicken stock!

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(The Best) Chocolate Chip Cookies

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After my daughter was born I made it a goal of mine to perfect a bunch of classic recipes that I can share with her when she is older. I am determined to have the best pancake recipe for those early Sunday mornings when she and I are the only two people up. I want to send her to school with homemade sourdough bread for her school-lunch sandwiches. And I need to have the best chocolate chip cookie recipe for bake sales, cookie swaps, birthday parties, or those hard days when the only thing that can help is a cookie and milk. Thus began a now 4 month long hunt (albeit a tasty one!) to find my version of the best chocolate chip cookie.

img_3995Ok so I know there are SOOOOO many recipes out there claiming to make the best chocolate chip cookies. And I’m sure they all make a darn good cookie. But here’s something to keep in mind about chocolate chip cookies: one person’s favorite will be someone else’s least favorite. My wife loves a gooey, soft cookie while a friend of mine likes the dense, more cake-like cookie. So where does that leave my recipe? After many, many… many hours of baking and many, many, many taste tests I have come up with a recipe that hopefully pleases the toughest chocolate chip cookie critic. Nutty, soft, fluffy, a crisp bottom, and a gooey center is what you get with this recipe. It’s not too sweet but curbs the worst chocolate craving. Give it a try and let me know what you think! Is this the best chocolate chip cookie recipe? Don’t worry, you can tell me. I won’t tell the others 🙂

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The obligatory cookie dough taste – a must!

(The Best) Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields 18 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 bag (11.5 oz) extra dark chocolate chips

Sift flour and baking soda into medium bowl. Stir in the salt and nutmeg then set bowl aside. In mixing bowl with paddle attachment, beat half of the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, brown sugar, and remaining butter to the mixing bowl and beat until creamy and lightened in color (this may take 5-8 minutes but be patient – it’s worth the wait!). Add one egg at a time, incorporating well after each. Add in the dry ingredients and vanilla and mix until dough comes together (don’t over-mix). Mix in the chocolate chips by hand. Shape the dough into 3 tbsp. balls and place onto cookie sheet or large plate. Cover dough balls with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.

img_4002Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the chilled cookie dough 2 inches apart on a silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the tray halfway throughout to ensure even baking. Cool baked cookies on cookie sheet for 10 minutes before cooling completely on wire rack.

Recipe notes:

1. Baking on a silpat vs parchment paper?

The answer to that really boils down to your own personal cookie preference. Both parchment paper and a silpat produce a great cookie, but here are a couple tips on how to figure out if one is better for you than the other:

  • Does the recipe contain a good amount of butter? Parchment paper absorbs oils released during the baking process. This means that a good butter cookie doesn’t have to look “buttery/oily” if baked on the absorbent parchment paper. My chocolate chip recipe has a normal amount of butter, however, so you’re welcome to choose either one.
  • Do you like cookies with a crisper, crunchier bottom, or do you prefer a softer bottom? The silpat, because it’s made of non-stick silicone, provides a heat barrier between the cookie bottom and the cookie sheet resulting in soft, uniformly baked cookie without the risk of burning the cookies.
  • Do you have a little extra time to bake the cookies? The beauty of parchment paper is that it’s disposable, making it so you can toss the used paper, replace it with a new one, and continue baking without waiting for a silpat to cool down. The silpat, while it does cool down quickly, takes a little more time to get to the right temperature before you can load up your next batch of cookies. So it’s really up to you how fast you want to eat all of the cookies: right now = parchment paper; 20 extra minutes = silpat.

All that being said, both products produce a delicious cookie. If you have a silpat at home, give it a try with this recipe. If you don’t, no need to run out and get one. My hope is that my recipe will translate just as well when either product is used.

2. Make sure to cool the cookies for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving them, especially if you’re using a silpat. Moving them too early disrupts the hardening of the sugars which could result in mushy, under-baked, or flat cookies. Keeping them on the pan allows the sugars to caramelize slowly, making the bottom toffee-like and the center ooey-gooey.

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