Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Texas Chocolate Chip Cookies

I frequent my friends' restaurant, Elsewhere, a lot. Every time I go I can always expect fantastic food, wonderful wine, smiling faces, and great conversation. My friends there have introduced my taste palate to a world of delicious variety and, if I can say so myself, I'm slowly becoming a foodie. Eeee! :)

Well, one evening I was sitting at the bar after a lovely dinner and the man to my right (we'll call him Craig because, well, that's his name) started chatting with me. Once he found out I had this humble baking blog, he told me about his no-fail, super good chocolate chip cookies. Craig said they were called Texas Chocolate Chip Cookies. He also informed me that the recipe used Jiffy corn muffin mix.

Hmmm...I was born and raised in TX and I've NEVER used this or any Jiffy mix. I was suspicious as to why these cookies had the name Texas in it. But hey, it's another new "food" to be introduced to!

I found the Jiffy mix very easily in the baking supply aisle at the grocery store near my new place and it was only 60 cents! I used it, started crushing the box to recycle it, and then realized that people reading this blog might not know what Jiffy mix is either.
It's kinda cute! But I digress...

Craig was very adamant about the one extra bit of pizazz to these cookies: the sprinkling of sea salt on top. You can see them slightly gleaming in the picture below and I must agree, it's a lovely touch.
The cookies turned out really great and had an interesting texture to them. I told people they were gritty. I guess that's what makes them Texas Chocolate Chip Cookies. You can't be a Texan without having the soul of a saint mixed with the gritty drive of a cowboy.
Texas Chocolate Chip Cookies (thanks Craig!)
4 T butter
3 T sugar (I was generous on this as usual)
1 egg
1/2 t vanilla
1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 C chocolate chips
Sea Salt

Mix softened butter with the sugar. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Add the entire box of Jiffy corn muffin mix. Stir until completely incorporated. Add the chocolate chips. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350°. Bake for 10 minutes or until cookies are light brown on the edges and fully cooked on the top. Sprinkle sea salt on top when they come out of the oven. Cool and enjoy.
Bake well and prosper!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Orange Poppy Seed Cookies

I haven't blogged in forever it seems. But I have a good reason. (drum roll please) I MOVED!

Don't worry. I'm still in NYC. I just happened to have moved to Queens. (Yes, Queens is a part of NYC. It's one of the 5 boroughs.)

For those of you who don't know much about NYC, it's like I moved from "You've Got Mail" to "Julie & Julia." (Also, Sesame Street is filmed near my new place.)

Astoria is the neighborhood I live in and it is SO much more lively than where I lived on the Upper West Side. It has a young and diverse feel and so far fits me just fine.

As do my roomies. Yep, I moved in with two girls after living alone for two years. It makes me feel young again. Is that weird? Well, it does. Also, the larger kitchen is a nice perk. Compared to my kitchen in a wall in my last apartment, this kitchen is GINORMOUS!
So, I was busy packing and then cleaning and painting and unpacking. I didn't unpack my kitchen stuff until Sunday (a whole week after I moved in.) My roomies were of course wondering when I was going to bake. I'm glad to report that my first round of baking in my new digs turned out great. One of my room mates had worked long hours yesterday. She told me this morning that coming home to these scrumptious cookies made her day yesterday. Which made my day.
Orange Poppy Seed Cookies (adapted from Moogie & Pap)
Ingredients for the cookies:
2 c. all-purpose flour
3 T. poppy seeds
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c.  & 2 Tbsp. sugar (I added the 2 T extra sugar because my dough wasn't as sweet as I wanted it to be.)
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. finely grated orange zest

Ingredients for the orange sugar:
1/3 c. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. orange zest

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Beat in the egg yolks. Mix in the vanilla and orange zest. With the beaters on low speed, mix in the flour mixture just until the dough starts to come together. Using your hands, work the dough into a ball.

4. To make the orange sugar, whisk the sugar and orange zest in a small bowl. Set aside.

5. Pinch off small clumps of dough and roll into balls about 1" in diameter. Place on the prepared cookie sheets, about 1-1/2" apart. Press down on the balls with your fingers to form rounds that are a scant 1/2" thick. Sprinkle the orange sugar onto the top of each round, pressing down gently so the sugar adheres.

6. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden and tops feel mostly firm. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.
7. These cookies keep very well. Layer between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container for up to 10 days.
Bake well and prosper!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Potpourri - Raw Mozzerella with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

This is my second "Potpurri" post. Once again, I have something non-desserty that I just HAVE to share.

Last week I went to Torrisi, a small "hard to get in to" Italian restaurant that's received tons of good reviews. Everything was delicious and the service was remarkable. It IS a really small restaraunt, thus it being hard to get a spot (seeing it sits about 28 people at a time.)

If you dine there, you only get to choose your entree from about three options. Everything else it what they decide to serve that day. I was very happy just sitting back and allowing food to keep flowing in. We had 4 appetizers! The one that hit the spot for me was Torrisi's home made mozzerella with olive oil. Saint's alive, it was heavenly.

Torrisi isn't the first place to serve mozzerella like this, but it's the first time I had it served in this plain and lovely way.

The next day I bought some raw mozzerella and humbly attempted to mimic the wonderful appetizer. It was delicious once again! This is so easy to put together and will please the palate of any dinner guest.
Mozzarella Appetizer
Raw Mozzerella
Olive Oil
Sea Salt

Cut the mozzarella to finger food size. Drizzle a smalla mount of olive oil over the mozzerella. Add sea salt to liking. Enjoy!
Bake well and prosper!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Taste 10, Looks 3

The story:
I was going to a game night on Saturday and thought I would make a cake. Then I got it into my silly head that I should be creative and make a cake that looked like a dice. Easy enough, right?
I made a cake in a 13x9in pan. My grand plan was to cut out two squares from the middle and stack them on top of each other to make a cube for the dice shape.
Next up was the decorating which was also my nemesis. Little did I know that buttercream frosting doesn't really stick well to the sides of cut cake. Harumph x 100!

I tried with the frosting. Then I tried with white chocolate candy coating. Then I just gave up. I cut the sides and put white coating on top. I started drawing the dots of a die on the top. Then my edible ink pen dried up. Ugh! So I tried to save it all by adding red candy coating circles. *sigh*
I was determined to try a different strategy. So, I gathered up the leftover cake parts and added my buttercream frosting to it. Instead of cake pops, I made huge cake dice. I had run out of my previous white coating from the first cake, so I decided to make red dice. I used melted chocolate chips for the dice's dots.
*double sigh* Well, it TASTED good.

One thing I learned (and that I had a suspicion about for awhile): I am NOT a good decorator. If it involves just icing a cake, no problem. But decorating? Not my forte. If I ever open a bake shop I will stick to the baking department and hire an artist for the decorating department.

Chocolate Cake (adapted from
1 cup margarine
1 3/4 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of semi-sweet cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the milk, mixing just until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

Buttercream Frosting
1 stick softened butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter. Beat in the sugar and the vanilla. Pour in the milk. Frosting should be at a good texture, but feel free to add more milk to change the consistency of the frosting.
Bake well and prosper!

FYI The title of this blog is a play off of Dance 10, Looks 3 from Chorus Line. In case you didn't know.