Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't love a warm chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven? Mmm, there's almost nothing better (except maybe the cookie dough). Just when I think I've got all the chocolate chip cookie recipes I'll ever need, I try a new one that goes in the recipe box.

I was craving chocolate chip cookies like MAD the other day and for some reason wanted to try a new recipe.  Although I absolutely love my current go-to Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and these Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (my hubby's favorite), there was just something about this recipe that drew me to it.  I had to try it!  The method is similar to the brown butter CCCs and hey, the recipe is from Joy the Baker, so I knew I couldn't go wrong there. 

I've learned a few things over the years from baking many, many, MANY batches of cookies. So if you find a recipe with similar methods, you're sure to have a winner.

1-Whip it, whip it real good!!!  When you cream the sugar and butter, don't just beat until it's combined, beat it for a good 3-4 minutes until it's light and fluffy.  It spreads out the sugar granules and incorporates air into the dough resulting in a more tender cookie.

2-Use a combination of both white and brown sugars.  I learned this a long time ago from Alton Brown on "Good Eats."  All white sugar will make a crispy cookie that spreads more, while adding brown sugar helps add a little moisture as well as chewiness.

3-Chill!  You don't have to chill the dough very long (20 minutes) but chilling the dough will help the cookies from spreading too quickly.

4-Low and slow.  Don't be tempted to turn up the heat! Use a gentle heat (350 degrees) and slightly underbake and you'll have a soft, moist and chewy cookie.

5-Use a chocolate bar instead of chocolate chips.  Chocolate chips have stabilizers that keep them from melting as easily as a chocolate bar.  Plus by chopping up a bar of chocolate, you not only get chunks of chocolate but little shards throughout the whole cookie, thus chocolate in every bite.

The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. molasses
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut, toasted

Place 1 of the sticks of butter in a small saucepan.  Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally.  Once it's melted, it'll start foaming then it'll start popping. Keep a close eye on it, continuing to swirl.  Once the butter starts smelling nutty and the brown bits on the bottom turn amber in color, remove it from the heat.  Allow to cool completely.

In the mean time spread the coconut out on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler until just starting to brown.  Don't take your eye off it.  It can go from toasted to completely burned in a matter of seconds!  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the remaining stick of butter with the brown sugar about 3-4 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides as necessary.  Mix in the vanilla and molasses.

Add the cooled browned butter and the granulated sugar and cream another 2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add egg and egg yolk one at a time and mix.  Add in flour, baking soda and salt and mix until mixture it uniform.  Gently fold in chopped chocolate, toasted coconut and pecans.

Scrape the dough out onto plastic wrap and flatten into a disc.  Refrigerate about 20-30 minutes.  Alternately, you can scoop out all the dough into balls ahead of time, then refrigerate the balls. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Once dough is chilled, scoop dough out onto cookie sheets, either using a small cookie scoop or making about 2-inch balls.  Place 9 balls per cookie sheet.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until tops just start to get golden.  Remove from oven, cool a minute or two on the cookie sheet the cool completely on a wire rack.

SOURCE: Joy The Baker

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thai Ground Turkey Wraps

Life never seems to slow down and it seems the busier I get the less time I have to make the food I want sometimes (hence the long breaks between posts). I struggle, as I'm sure many of you do, with wanting to make healthy food me and my family enjoy, having the time to prepare it and the actual desire.  Let's face it, there's just those days when ramen or boxed mac and cheese will grace our table. But I believe dinner is a worthy fight! It's worth trying to get your kids to eat that green veggie just one more time, it's worth putting forth an effort to make something healthy when you may not want to.  So some of my go-to dinners lately are some of the most simple, quick and healthy that I can find.

These Thai wraps totally fit the bill.  They are my current favorite.  I already love Thai flavors, but something so quick to throw together that's satisfying and light on the calories, now that's a winner in my book.  I loved that most everything in this dish was fresh.  The herbs make a huge difference so don't skip them!  I used nappa cabbage for the shell but you could also use another lettuce, like butter lettuce, if you prefer. The only sauce in this dish is the sauce on the turkey, which is how I prefer it.  I like the contrast of the fresh herbs and cabbage to the warm saltiness of the meat.  But, if you feel like you need something more saucy on top, you could add a little hoisin, sweet chili sauce or even more sriracha.

Thai Ground Turkey Wraps
1 lb. ground turkey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
pale section of lemongrass finely chopped (or 1 drop lemongrass essential oil)
1 jalapeno, finely diced
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Sriracha
1/3 cup chopped chilantro
1/3 chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 small head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
Nappa cabbage leaves, whole, for serving

Optional garnishes:
chopped peanuts
sweet chili sauce
hoisin sauce

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic, ginger,  and lemongrass and saute about 60 seconds, until fragrant. Add ground turkey and cook until no longer pink. If using lemongrass oil instead of lemongrass, add at this point, after turkey is cooked.  Be careful not to add too much or it will be overpowering.  You may want to dip a toothpick into the bottle then swirl it in the meat.

In a small bowl, stir together lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar and Sriracha.  Pour over cooked ground turkey, toss in the chopped jalapeno, stir to evenly distribute sauce and let sit 5 minutes.

Remove meat from heat and toss in fresh herbs and red cabbage.  Scoop onto nappa cabbage leaves, top with green onions and other garnishes as desired.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

What's not to love about a muffin?  They're quick and easy to make and their flavor variations are pretty much limitless.  I love to make a big batch of muffins, eat some warm and fresh, save a few for the kids' lunches then throw the rest in the freezer.  They make for a quick breakfast when we're short on time or even for a snack.  I typically use half whole wheat and half white flour and about half of the sugar of traditional muffin recipes, so no guilt here serving them to my family.

My oldest daughter fell in love with these muffins last year and I've made them numerous times since.  We all love them!  But if you're not a fan of lemon or don't have it on hand, try adding a touch of almond extract and a small handful of sliced almonds.  Just not sweet enough for you? Sprinkle some coarse sugar on top of each muffin before baking, or add a simple glaze on top of a little powdered sugar and milk mixed together.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
2/3 cup sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/3-1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin tin with liners and set aside.

In  mixing bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest.  Rub together with your fingers until very fragrant.  Add lemon juice,yogurt, buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla and whisk until well combined.  Sift the remaining dry ingredients, except the poppy seeds. Stir dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.  Gently fold in the poppy seeds.

Using a large scoop, divide batter evenly into the muffin tin.  Bake 15-17 minutes or until slightly golden on top.

Cool muffins on a wire rack and store in an airtight container on the counter about 4 days.

SOURCE: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
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