Friday, September 30, 2011

The Secret's in the Corn Flakes

Growing up, my father would make the most amazing chocolate chip cookies using crushed up corn flakes. I had forgotten how much I loved his cookies until I bit into a chocolate chip cookie from Cafe Borrone and the subtle crunch brought me back to my childhood.
After a month and several attempts, I came up with a recipe that was the perfect combination of the texture of my father’s cookies and the flavors of Borrone’s cookies*. It’s also a very versatile cookie recipe: I often substitute half the semi-sweet chocolate chips with either milk chocolate or butterscotch chips, and sometimes add 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts.  In a pinch, I’ve even substituted Rice Krispies for corn flakes.  
I refrigerate the dough for 24 hours before baking so they are extra soft and fluffy. Because the recipe makes about 40 cookies, I usually bake half the dough and then pre-scoop and freeze the other half in a tupperware container with wax paper in between each layer of dough.  
1 egg 
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
4 cups flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3 teaspoons baking soda 
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup corn flakes, crushed
1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
In a small bowl, whisk the egg, vanilla, and oil and set aside. 
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking soda.  In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy.  
Add half the flour mixture and half the egg mixture to the butter and beat for about 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour and egg mixtures and beat until just combined.  Using a silicone or wooden spoon, fold in the cornflakes, oatmeal, coconut, and chocolate chips.
Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Scoop with a medium-sized cookie scoop and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool on a cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes then transfer to rack to cool.  

*For a cookie that taste like Cafe Borrone's, use half milk chocolate chips, half semi-sweet chocolate chips and add 1 cup of chopped pecans.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jude Law's Cupcakes

“I defy anyone to find a better cupcake”-Jude Law
While Jude Law doesn’t look like he eats many cupcakes from Primrose Bakery, I decided to check out their cookbook from my local library. Last night I made their coffee cupcakes and coffee buttercream frosting (with a few small changes) for my friend’s birthday. Hopefully she doesn’t read my blog until after I surprise her tonight!  

Coffee Cupcakes
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin pan or three 12-cup mini muffin pans with cupcake liners.
In a large mixing bowl, use a handheld mixer to cream the butter and sugars until smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for a couple of minutes after each addition.
In a separate bowl, sift the flours together.  In a third bowl, whisk the vanilla extract, espresso powder, and milk.  Add one-third of the flour to the sugar mixture and beat well.  Pour in one-third of the milk and beat again. Repeat until all the flour and milk have been added.  
Use a large ice cream scoop to fill the cups 2/3 full.  Bake standard size cupcakes for 22-25 minutes or mini-cupcakes for about 15 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.  
Remove from the oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes before placing on wire rack to finish cooling.
Once the cupcakes are completely cool, frost with coffee buttercream and decorate with sprinkles or chocolate-covered espresso beans.
Coffee Buttercream Frosting
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in a small  
   amount of hot water, cooled
2 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, milk, espresso mixture, and half the confectioners’ sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes using a handheld mixer. Gradually add the remaining confectioners’ sugar and beat until the frosting is smooth and creamy.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Unconventional Breakfast

My grandpa, whose family was from the Abruzzi region of Italy,  believed in starting the day with his favorite breakfast: pizzelle cookies dunked in his morning coffee.  He always kept an empty coffee tin filled with pizzelles by the front door so when friends or family walked in they could help themselves to a cookie.  At least once a week we would make pizzelles using his recipe:
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon anise extract*
Add in the order listed.  Drop by spoonful onto center of pre-heated pizzelle iron.  Close lid and cook until steaming stops, about 45 seconds.  Place a towel on the side of the iron and place pizzelles on towel and allow to cool.  

*If you prefer a more mild anise flavor, use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of anise extract.  
These cookies are easy to make and will stay fresh for 3 days in an airtight container.  You can serve plain or sprinkle with powdered sugar or shape into ice cream cones and cups.  Pizzelle irons are available online or at your local Williams-Sonoma store.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Oyster Heaven

This week I spent my day off visiting Drake’s Bay Oyster Co. in Inverness, California.  Not only was it a chance to support a local, family-owned farm that practices sustainable farming, we got to relax and enjoy some amazing oysters!
We bought 2 dozen small oysters for $24 and I even learned how to shuck them.  If you’re in the Bay Area, it is definitely worth the trip.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Break In Case of Emergency

A few nights ago I was flipping through a cookbook trying to find a quick fix for an emergency chocolate craving when I came across Baked’s Double-Chocolate Loaf recipe.
The first time I made the loaf I followed the directions exactly but it didn’t allow the ingredients to be properly incorporated without over-mixing.  Below is the recipe with a more traditional quick bread preparation:
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 oz. dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and position rack in the center.  Butter a 9x5 loaf pan, dust it with flour, and knock out the excess flour.
Chop the dark chocolate and set aside.
In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with a handheld mixer, beat together the eggs, yolk, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla on medium speed just until blended.  
In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients, pressing out the lumps of the brown sugar with the back of a spoon.  
Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Beat just until mixed, being careful not to over-mix.  Stir in the chocolate chunks by hand.  
Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  
Serve plain or spread with cream cheese.