Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Everyone's favorite snack . . or dessert. . . or breakfast. . . or (insert desired meal time)

Can you guess what it is? I'll give you a hint: warm, ooey, gooey chocolate chips, hint of salt, chewy goodness. . .YES! Chocolate chip cookies!  So I know that a few (read: most) of the recipes that I've discussed on this blog have been daunting for an inexperienced baker to attempt, so here is my gift to all of you who said "that looks so GOOD. . . but so HARD!!"  I got the recipe from a link on Facebook (which just goes to disprove my theory that all sponsored links are best ignored.) So I am re-sharing the food blog from where it came with you.  Lucky you! You clicked on this blog and here you get to view TWO food blogs for the price of one! (Same recipe, so slightly repetitive, but whatever. . .)

These are so yummy -- the thing that I hate about chocolate chip cookies (as much as anyone can hate anything about chocolate chip cookies) is that they are so melty and soft when they come out of the oven, but then they get crispy (stale) when cool.  But no, not THESE chocolate chip cookies.  They stay tender and chewy and delicious for all of time (or until eaten, which honestly is never very long -- for me anyways).  The hardest part of this recipe is (oh, come on, keep reading, don't give up yet -- I swear this is an easy and foolproof recipe) browning the butter.  'Say what?' you say -- why do anything to butter?  It's BUTTER; it's perfection ALREADY.  Yes, I know, it's hard to imagine that butter can be improved upon, but really, heat it up a bit on the stove and it gets this beautiful nutty complex flavor that actually improves upon the original.  Trust me (or don't and just try the recipe -- you will believe by the end.)

Here goes:

Recipe from The Ambition Kitchen can be found here.

To avoid repitition, I'm not going to re-post all the ingredients and the step-by-step instructions that are already listed in the blog link above.  And this recipe is seriously so easy.
Summary of the high points:  Mix some of the dry ingredients together.  Brown the butter.  Beat the wet ingredients with the butter and the sugar (no stand mixer needed!)  Add the dry ingredients from earlier. Stir in chocolate chips. Chill for a couple of hours.  Form dough balls. Place on pan. Sprinkle with sea salt. Pop in oven. Cook for several minutes longer than recipe states due to defective oven (Oh, wait, that's just me...) Fret about cookies being underdone, but then remember that cookies will continue to cook outside of oven on hot cookie sheet. Pop out of oven. Practice restraint and wait until cookies cool before devouring in order to avoid burning tongue. See? Simple.

The one thing that I had trouble with was figuring out how brown to brown the butter.  So here are the pictures: The photo on the left is the butter before being heated, and the photo on the right is my beautiful brown butter.  Be patient, it takes a while to brown, but, as stated in the recipe, just continue stirring over medium heat as the butter bubbles and you will get there.

 And this post is too short, so I'm going to lengthen it by posting pretty pictures:


Try not to eat all of the cookie dough straight
out of the mixing bowl.


Also try to refrain from eating whole balls of cookie dough before baking, tempting though it may be.

                               If you manage follow those instructions, brava !!(or bravo be it as it may)
                                                                 Here is your reward. . .

MMMMMMMM. .. . it looks even better Super-Sized!! I may have to make giant cookies next time. . .
So I lied about the hardest part; the hardest part of this recipe is actually managing to not inhale the entire batch of sublime choco greatness in one sitting.  Happily, they freeze very well.  Place in a single layer in a zip lock bag (the bigger, the easier) and freeze.  When you need to defrost, just leave out at room temperature overnight.   They retain their chewy softness even after being frozen and defrosted, which is almost a miracle.  Try it! It's easy! And doesn't require a stand mixer! (And then let me know how it goes!) 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Guava + Sunshine = Happiness

Took a break over the past weekend to visit my absolute favorite spot on earth -- Miami! It was the perfect time to stock up on some much needed non-dietary Vitamin D, sadly lacking over the past several months in cold, snowy Ohio.  Unfortunately, I can't share any baking anecdotes since it's (obviously) impossible to bake in a hotel room.  Never fear, though!  Because I find it difficult to last a weekend without a pastry fix, I figured that I could sporadically inject this blog with recommendations for my favorite restaurants and bakeries around the world, when I don't have access to my own oven (and beloved KitchenAid).  So if you are ever in Miami (and you should really make sure that at some point in your life, you are in Miami), here is where to go:

Le Chic French Bakery

I discovered this lovely little locale during my very first trip to Miami (8 years ago!!) and, honestly, I was a little afraid that it wasn't open anymore, since I haven't been able to drop by in a couple of years.  Luckily for everyone, it's still going strong. Nothing fancy going on here.  It's a small storefront; the majority of its space is taken up by two enormous display cases, with some basic seating thrown in for good measure.  But that's ok -- you're not coming here for the ambiance. . . it's the food that makes this place a draw.

The absolute best things here are the guava croissants.  To me,  nothing says vacation like tropical fruit, and combined with carbs and butter. . . nothing better in the world. The croissants are flaky and light and, surprisingly, not too sweet.  With a cup of strong coffee (and their coffee is STRONG), they are truly the perfect way to start off the day.

Another favorite is the apricot croissants.  With two halved apricots on each side of a beautifully folded pastry, they are as pretty as they are tasty.  It's fitting that these treats find their home in Miami since each side of the croissant looks like it houses a golden bright little sun. Again, they really aren't that sweet.  If anything, the hint of sugar is nicely balanced by the tarty apricots.

(Note for those who are looking for a lunchtime treat: The ham and cheese croissants are dead ringers for the ones across the pond -- one bite and you'll feel like you're in Paris . . . just with better weather)

1043 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

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Mmmm, I'm getting hungry just remembering the deliciousness. . . Do you have any favorite places in Miami? Let me know; I'm always looking for new tidbits of amazingness to sample!

(If you are inspired to try any of these locations described in the future, they can always be found, with a link to the specific blog post, under the "Taste of the World" page.)