Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Cookies
A word about these cookies: ……

Sorry that was me trying to find words. It’s difficult when something is as delicious as these cookies are.

I made these for my boyfriend because he said that I never make anything for him and only him. He’s not wrong. Whenever I make cookies or cake, I usually have a couple, save a few for my family, and then I bring the rest in to work. A colleague came by my office the other day and thanked me for bringing things in.

“If I baked as often as you, I wouldn’t share it,” he said.

I share what I make partly because I don’t want to be the one eating all of it, and partly because it makes me happy to see people enjoy what I’ve made. It feels like I’m moving one step closer to my dream of opening my own bakery.

These double chocolate cookies are very, VERY rich. They have dutch-process cocoa powder, lots of sugar, butter, and semi-sweet chocolate chips. They remind me a lot of one of my favorite cookies in the world: The double chocolate chip cookie at Levain Bakery in New York.

Whenever I’m in the city, I stop by to get one. My friend Allison, being the good friend she is, went with me to get one in the pouring rain the last time I was visiting. Levain cookies are huge and dense, more like small cakes than cookies. I’ve seen people split them but I could never be so generous.

The trick to making Levain-like cookies is chilling the dough overnight in the refrigerator. I’ve talked to my chef friends about why bakeries do this and the response is varied.

Some say it’s because it gives the dough time to firm up, which creates more compact cookies later. There’s nothing worse than when a cookie flattens out in the oven.

Another one of my friends said that chilling the dough is just the bakery’s way of prepping a bunch of cookies at once. You don’t *really* need to chill the dough, but it helps when you want to make a number of uniform cookies later. Whatever the reason, I’d recommend doing it.

To make these double chocolate chip cookies, you take an ice cream scoop and get enough dough to form golfball-sized rounded lumps. They should be about three ounces, but if you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can just eyeball it.

Then you place five balls on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Make sure you space them far apart because they will spread a bit in the oven.

The smell when these cookies are baking is HEAVENLY. Picture a brownie, a flourless chocolate cake, and melted chocolate, all dancing through the air in waves, and you’ll land somewhere close to these cookies. I’m tearing up a little just thinking about it.

These are some of the best cookies I’ve ever made. I know I always say that, but it’s true. They are slightly crispy around the edges, soft and chewy in the center, and somehow, despite how dense they are, they still melt in your mouth. If you eat one after it’s had a few minutes to cool, the chocolate chips are still melty. It’s one of life’s sweetest pleasures.

ANYWAY. I’d recommend making these cookies as soon as possible, if not to get a pesky boyfriend off your back then to satisfy your own sweet cravings. If I’m going to be honest, I made them for myself as much as for him.

Here’s a song to get you started. Gemini Rising has some good jams.

Double Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
10 Tbso unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.

In the bowl of a stand-mixer, mix together the room temperature butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Then mix in the egg and vanilla extract until fully incorporated, stopping and pushing down the batter from the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed.

Set the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and mix on low speed until just incorporated.

Place saran wrap over the dough and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The dough is best after its had a chance to sit in the fridge for 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop, form the dough into 3-ounce round balls, a little large than golfballs.

Place the five balls on each cookie sheet. Place the sheets in the oven and bake for about 18 minutes, or until the cookies are just set but still soft in the middle.

Place the sheets of parchment paper with the cookies on cooling racks. Allow the cookies to come to room temperature. Store them in an airtight container. Enjoy!

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Carrot Cake Bread

Carrot Cake Bread
I don’t know how I missed this, but carrot cake is an Easter thing. I mean, I don’t celebrate Easter so I guess it’s not *that* much of a surprise that I didn’t know. But when I started seeing carrot cake everywhere this weekend, I put two and two together.

I love carrot cake anytime of year but I crave it most when it’s cold. Maybe it’s the reassuring blend of ground spices. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s slightly healthy. In the winter, I tend to eat more unhealthy because some of my favorite produce isn’t available.

Whatever it is, when temperatures drop below freezing, I need carrot cake in my life. Yesterday, the weather in St. Louis went from a cold spring day to a winter apocalypse. There was ice coming down from the sky that I’ve never seen before. I’m not exaggerating.

To make myself feel better and distract myself from the impending gloom, I made this carrot cake bread. It came together quickly and it made my house smell like the best scented candle. I stood over the loaf for a couple minutes after it came out the oven. It made me feel the same way I would standing under a heat lamp, but better because it smelled good and I could eat it.

I thought about adding some ingredients to the bread such as golden raisins or pineapple. Carrot cake is a good canvas for additions. Shredded coconut would also be delicious mixed in the batter.

Still, I think this loaf speaks for itself. You could add things to it or you could just enjoy it as is. I brought some into work but I also saved a slice for myself to have with tea later this morning. I need some Monday motivation.

In other news, Kacey Musgraves’ new album is really good. I already talked about it a little yesterday in Dimanche, but I wanted to devote more space to it here.

I read an article Friday where the writer gave the album a mostly good review, but also complained about it being jarring. The songs are different than Musgraves’ earlier work, more whimsical and eccentric, the writer said, so it took some adjusting.

I don’t know what album they were listening to but the one I heard is nothing short of a masterpiece. Yeah, it’s different in tone and content than some of Musgraves’ earlier work. But at the end of the day, can you really call yourself an artist if you don’t evolve? The answer to that question is, no. I applaud Musgraves for her bold departure from earlier work and her commitment to creating music that isn’t meant to please everyone. We have enough artists like that already.

Here’s another one of my favorite songs from the album.

Carrot Cake Bread

Ingredients

6 oz unsalted butter, melted and browned to just over 1/2 cup of butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 whole milk
1 1/4 cup grated carrots

Directions

Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.

Melted the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. The butter will crackle and then it will go silent, which means that it’s browning. Swirl it in the pan as it cooks. Once it turns a golden brown color and smells nutty, remove the butter from the heat and pour it into a small bowl to use later. Make sure you watch the butter as it cooks: It can burn easily.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Stir together the eggs, vanilla extract, milk, carrots, and cooled butter in a medium bowl.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients all at once and fold them together until they’re just mixed. Make sure you get the extra flour that tends to hide at the bottom of the bowl. Do not overmix.

Place a sheet of parchment paper in the middle of the loaf pan to make it easier to remove the bread later. Scoop the batter into the pan.

Bake for about an hour, or until a pick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then invert the loaf and allow it come to room temperature on a wire rack.

Tightly wrap the leftovers in saran wrap to make sure the bread doesn’t dry out. Enjoy!

 

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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

I have this thing where I never remember Jewish holidays. The only reason I knew it was Passover this week is because my best friend Rachel came into town to celebrate with her family. Sometimes I think if it weren’t for her, I’d never remember them.

I’m not very religious and so left up to my own devices, I probably wouldn’t celebrate Passover at all. But now that I’m back in town and most of my family is here, I get roped into celebrating. Last night I had a seder, or a Passover service/meal, with my grandparents, my mom, and my sister.

We had some lively debate at the dinner table because my grandma said she didn’t believe the story of Passover and didn’t feel like celebrating, and my mom argued in favor of accepting the story verbatim. There’s never a dull moment at our seders.

Today I’m going to take it easy before I meet Rachel and my boyfriend for dinner. I’m also planning on making a loaf of carrot cake bread because I’ve been craving it lately. I keep seeing pictures of carrot cake everywhere for Easter and it’s making me want to bake something ASAP. I also satisfied my craving Friday at one of my favorite local bakeries (more on that later).

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

In a semi-shameless plug, I had my first print article published this week and I am pretty excited about it. It’s a Q&A with Lynn and Martin Weber, my friends who own Edelbrand Pure Distilling. If you’re in St. Louis you can pick up a print version of the article at most food-related venues. If you’re not, check out a teaser below.

A story about a French waiter getting fired in Canada for being French got a lot of air time this week. Apparently the waiter was rude to customers, which led to him getting the boot. Then he filed a complaint against the restaurant that fired him and said he was just being French. You can read more about the situation here.

I generally respect The New York Times’ reporting but sometimes, they drop the ball. I thought it was funny earlier this week when the newspaper published a story about French people being the new optimists the same day French civil servants and railway workers went on strike against President Macron’s new reforms. You can read the story (in French) in French Morning.

I really enjoyed this story about a Missouri honey maker in the latest issue of Feast MagazineGiofre Apiaries, which is located about 20 minutes away from Columbia, Missouri, is fighting the global honeybee crisis by running hives and educating consumers about the issue. They also make delicious honey ice cream and sell it at local shops. I need to pick up a pint soon. You can read more about their work here.

When you’re a food writer and you take an extreme stance against one food, be prepared for backlash. That’s what happened earlier this week to Tim Carman, the food critic for The Washington Post. He wrote an article saying that bacon is over-used, which probably has some truth to it. Unsurprisingly, bacon loyalists were PISSED. Check out the story for Carman’s take on the situation.

Have I mentioned how much I love Jeff Goldblum? Probably. I find him so fascinating as an actor and human being. I think we’re kindred spirits. I spent waaay too much time watching his videos Friday afternoon after I read this story in Indiewire.

Sugaree is one of my favorite bakeries in St. Louis. I hardly ever go though because they’re only open for retail on Friday and Saturday, and I don’t live close to where they’re located. I was in the neighborhood Friday though so I decided to stop by to get some dessert. I bought a container of their carrot cake cupcakes, which came in the cutest egg container. I shared them with my boyfriend but I could have eaten them all myself.

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Last but certainly not least, I enjoyed reading this story about food writers covering chefs who have been accused or convicted of gendered violence. The story initially focuses on Texas food writers who either have or haven’t covered Chef Paul Qui since he was accused of domestic violence against his former girlfriend. Then it makes the very good point that media, including food writers, can’t exist in silos during the #MeToo movement. Yeah, we already knew that to some extent. But it’s always a good reminder that food, politics, and, most importantly, ethics, are intertwined.

Enjoy your week! Here’s a song to get you started. It comes from Kacey Musgraves’ new album (I’m obsessed).

 

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Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal

Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal
I make a lot of oatmeal for breakfast. It was getting to the point where I thought I was in an oatmeal rut and I would never find a new recipe again.

Then, I invented this oatmeal yesterday. It’s a variation on the oatmeal I usually make. I combined some oats, almond milk, cinnamon, maple syrup, and a pinch of sea salt in a pot, mixed in half a mashed banana, and let the mixture cook until it was thick and creamy. Then I added some banana slices, blueberries, chia seeds, and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

The oatmeal was so good that I decided to make it again this morning. I was out of blueberries, though, so it wasn’t quite as good. Still, I know I’ll be coming back to this recipe again and again. It’s easy and quick, AND it makes your kitchen smell heavenly while it cooks. Picture banana bread mixed with maple cinnamon spice cake, and you’ll land somewhere close to this oatmeal.

You could get creative on toppings. I bet walnuts and hemp hearts would also be good on top.

I didn’t really use a recipe to make this but I’ll include one below, just in case you want to try it at home.

In other news, I got my haircut last night and I’m pretty amped about it. I always have aspirations to grow my hair long, and then once it gets past my shoulders, I get sick of it and give up. I got a couple inches off so my hair is lighter and more curly. It will be a good cut to have this summer when it’s sunny and warm…whenever that happens.

Here’s a song to play while you’re making this oatmeal. It’s also good for rainy days when all you want to do is get in bed with a book, a cup of tea, and your laptop so you can watch “West Wing” reruns.

Banana Cinnamon Oatmeal

Ingredients

1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup maple syrup, or more if you like your oatmeal super sweet
pinch of flaky sea salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 a banana, mashed
sliced banana, blueberries, chia seeds, ground cinnamon for topping

Directions

Combine the oats, almond milk, maple syrup, sea salt, mashed banana, and ground cinnamon in a saucepan over high heat. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and then reduce the heat and cook on low, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. This will take about 10 minutes.

Top the oats with sliced banana, blueberries, chia seeds, and ground cinnamon. Enjoy!

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Lemon Chicken from Ina Garten

Lemon Chicken
My mom and my sisters love Ina Garten. They watch her cooking show. My mom owns a bunch of her cookbooks. My youngest sister had an Ina Garten Instagram account for a while, but I think she’s deleted it. They all do excellent imitations of Ina talking to Jeffrey, her lifelong love, husband, and primary taste tester.

ANYWAY. I love Ina as much as the next person but I haven’t really tried her recipes. I think it’s partly because I was being contrarian. My sisters and my mom were fawning over her recipes, so naturally I didn’t want anything to do with them. I have this instinct to resist what is “trendy” or “popular,” even if it defies logic to be this way.

Which brings me to this lemon chicken. I cook a lot at home but I don’t make chicken very often. In fact, I’ve never made baked chicken. My sister just started to cook more and she was raving about Ina’s baked lemon chicken recipe. She and her husband invited me over for dinner last night and I asked her to teach me how to make it. She waited until I got there and then she coached me through the process.

As it turns out, making baked lemon chicken is super easy. All you do is whisk together some oil and spices, pour it into a casserole dish, plop in the chicken breasts, garnish them with more spices, salt, and add some lemon wedges to the sauce. We sprinkled some dried rosemary on top even though the recipe didn’t call for it, because as my sister said, lemon and rosemary go well together.

We set the oven timer for 45 minutes. Time passes more quickly if you’re talking to someone in the kitchen. After 45 minutes, we went to check on the chicken. My sister knew just by looking at them that they needed more time. Then, she suggested cutting them open to check on the insides.

I almost had a panic attack because I was approaching the baking process from a sweets perspective. The thought of making multiple cuts into a loaf of bread or a cake to see what the inside looks like terrifies me.

Encouragingly, cutting into a chicken breast isn’t bad at all. In fact, it’s good. It allows more of the sauce to seep in and get the breasts nice and plump. It doesn’t affect the outside of the chicken, or the skin, which still gets crispy and browned.

I ate half a chicken breast on my own and I could have eaten another half, but I saved room for dessert. I brought some of my go-to chocolate chip cookies and we shared them, and then we tried different flavors of Albanian gummy bears to see which ones were the best.

I had such a good time making this chicken with my sister. She made me a baked chicken believer AND she convinced me to try more of Ina’s recipes in the future. If they’re all this easy and delicious, there’s no reason to resist.

Maybe one day I’ll have my own cooking show and my sister can be a guest star, and Ina can make a featured appearance.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with this song.

 

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My Go-To Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Chocolate Chip Cookies
This has been my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe since pretty much forever.

It all started seven years ago. I’d just moved back from France and I was missing the pastries there. However, I realized the one advantage America has over French pastries: Chocolate chip cookies. I never found a really good one over there.

I decided to make a batch of the softest, chewiest chocolate chip cookies. I started with a base recipe and I’ve since perfected it. It involves butter, two kinds of sugar, some salt (because most baked goods taste better with salt), and a generous number of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips.

There are two ways to make these cookies: The impatient way and the patient way. If you’re in a rush, you can mix the dough, scoop it into balls, place it on a cookie sheet, and bake the cookies immediately. HOWEVER, they will not be as rounded and pouffy (is that a word?) as if you take the patient route.

If you have a little extra time, I’d recommend putting the dough in the refrigerator for at least two hours, preferably overnight. This is a trick used to make many chocolate chip cookies. It gives the dough time to firm up and it will create a more molded finished product. There’s nothing worse than runny, goopy cookies, except maybe no cookies at all.

This is a good base recipe. You can get creative with the kind of chips you add. Maybe you’ll even want to add chocolate chunks. But whatever you do, don’t omit the salt. The salt is the ingredient that makes the cookie. It balances the sweetness and enhances the flavor of the chocolate chips.

I whipped up a batch of these last night and it took all my willpower not to eat all the cookie dough. I saved a few for my boyfriend and I’m bringing the rest to my sister’s house for dinner tonight.

Here’s a song to get you started on your chocolate chip cookie-making journey.

My Go-To Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup golden brown sugar, packed
1 tsp fine salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (about 12 oz) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions

Whisk the flour and baking soda together in a large bowl. Set aside. In a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and two sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add the salt, vanilla extract, and eggs. Mix for another minute until fully combined.

Add the flour and mix until just combined. Use a spatula to incorporate the chocolate chips.

Place the dough in the refrigerator for a couple hours or overnight. This will help them keep their shape later.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Place heaping tablespoons of dough on the cookie sheet, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart (they will spread). Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes, or until they’re golden brown around the edges but still soft in the middle.

Remove the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for a couple minutes. Then carefully place them on a baking rack to cool the rest of the way. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

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Pistachio Rose Water Semolina Cake from Ottolenghi

Pistachio Cake
This pistachio rose water semolina cake is one of the best desserts I’ve ever made.

I found the recipe a month or two ago on the New York Times Food page. If you haven’t been there already, you should check it out. It’s a great resource for home cooks and aspiring bakers.

The recipe comes from Yotam Ottolenghi, one of my favorite chefs. You might know him from his cookbooks including Plenty or Jerusalem. He’s Israeli-British and he lives in England, where he has a number of successful restaurants.

I saw Ottolenghi speak in person a few years ago when I was living in D.C. I remember someone in the audience asked him about substituting ingredients in his recipes. He smiled and then said diplomatically, don’t expect it to taste the same.

Those words have stuck with me. I’m a big believer in adapting recipes to what you have available or what’s cheaper at the grocery store. But there are some things in a recipe you can’t change. It’s like trying to build a house with a different floor plan than the one you agreed on. It won’t be the same.

Which brings me to this cake. I did tweak the recipe a little. I left off the candied rose petals and I topped the cake with dried ones instead. I also decided not to make the rose cream to serve it with, because I thought the cake would be sweet enough and delicious enough on its own.

However, I followed the rest of the recipe to the letter. I used fresh lemon juice, rose water, semolina, and almond flour. I didn’t make any substitutions because I trusted Ottolenghi’s recipe and I thought deviating from it would ruin the finished product. When you’re cooking with very particular ingredients like rose water, it pays to use what the recipe calls for.

This cake is moist (even though I hate using that word), sweet, flavorful, and complex. It benefits from the combination of flavors including citrusy lemon, fragrant rose water, and nutty almond and pistachios. It’s the kind of cake you could eat at night for dessert, OR for a snack in the afternoon with tea or coffee. Honestly, you could also eat it for breakfast.

When you get to the part of the recipe when you pour the warm sugar syrup onto the hot cake, don’t despair. It seems like a lot of syrup, which the original recipe notes. But, as the recipe says, the cake can take it. The syrups adds more lemon and rose flavor to the cake and makes a denser crumb.

So yeah. If you’re looking for a bright, beautiful, fragrant cake to make to distract yourself from a never-ending winter, this is the one. The NYT calls it a “labor of love,” which is more or less true. It’s involves a lot of steps but if you have a stand mixer and some extra time, it’s easy enough to make.

Here’s a song that reminds me of this cake. It’s also good for Mondays when you don’t want to get out of bed.

 

 

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