Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

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You’ve probably seen this recipe a few times on Pinterest as it’s definitely a favorite among bakers and cookie lovers. And after finally giving it a try a few weeks ago I know why. The raves are true, these are indeed the best ever chocolate chip cookies. They’re soft, chewy in the middle with a bit of crisp on the outside edges, a good size and filled with decadent mouth-watering chocolate. All that taste comes at a price, as the recipe requires you to refrigerate the dough for 36 hours, so plan to make these in advance. They also store really well and considering you’ll be able to make around 30-40 cookies with this batch, that’s a good thing. I would definitely recommend that you make these with the recommended chocolate disks ( 60 percent cacao) as they taste much better. I made a small batch with regular chocolate chips and they were delicious, but the chocolate was not oozing out of every bite the way it did with the disks. So if you’re going to make them, invest in some good chocolate and stock up on both cake and bread flour, which is the combination that makes these cookies so irresistible. Side note, if you’re a fan of cookie dough, this is also the best cookie dough I’ve ever tasted. I’m pretty sure I ate enough of it to make 4 cookies, probably not the best idea but it had to be done. 

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Even Khalessi wanted in on the action 

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Classic Tres Leches Cake

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My mom loves my tres leches cake. It’s her all-time favorite. She requests it for birthdays, holidays, general hang-out days, basically any time I can make it. Considering she is the makes of all my favorite dishes, it’s a great pleasure to know one of my own, is her favorite as well. For Mother’s Day, I knew I had to make it and after the hearty beef bourguignon, this light and airy cake was the perfect dessert.

What you’ll need:

1 cup All-purpose Flour

1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Salt

5 whole Eggs

1 cup Sugar, Divided

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1/3 cup Milk

1 can Evaporated Milk

1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk

1/4 cup Heavy Cream

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray your pan liberally until coated. I choose a round pan this time, because I was only making it for 5 of us. But you can choose a larger, square pan if you’re making this for more people.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs. Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow.

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Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

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Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

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Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

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Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

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Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all the milk mixture and make sure to get the edges of the cake as well. Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes.

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Many people ice the cake, but my mom is not a fan of the whipped cream topping so I usually skip it. If you’d like to ice it however, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable. Spread over the surface of the cake, and then serve yourself a piece…or two. Have you tried tres leches cake?

Dreamy Carrot Cake

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Once I finished my juice cleanse, I had a few bags of carrots left over. Clearly I went overboard at the fruit market but I wasn’t about to let these babies go to waste.

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So I did what anyone coming out of a juice fast would do, I made some carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and some cupcakes, because the only thing better than cake is cake AND cupcakes. 

The recipe below with yield 12 cupcakes and 2 cakes. 

What you’ll need for the cake:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 pound carrots, grated

What you’ll need for the frosting: 

3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together until light yellow. Add vanilla. I used my very own from here and felt it made the cake taste extra special.  

In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour and add them to your mixture. Tossing them with flour ahead of time will make sure they do not fall to the bottom of your cake but are evenly distributed throughout. Fold in the carrots, add to the batter and mix well.

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Using an ice cream scooper, take one scoop out for each of your cupcakes. Divide the remaining batter equally between the 2 pans.

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Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes and cupcakes to cool completely in the pans.

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While they cool, mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until just combined. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. You want to make sure this is thoroughly incorporated, otherwise your frosting won’t taste as good. It takes about 8 minutes. 

Place 1 layer, flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. 

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Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

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Frost your cupcakes as you usually would and then sit down and enjoy a few

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Homemade Vanilla Extract

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I love to bake and have found vanilla extract to be one of the most useful and important ingredients to include in all my concoctions. Though you can never beat the taste of an actual vanilla bean, a good vanilla extract comes pretty close and will last you a long time. I’ve had my current bottle for close to 10 months, though it’s running out. Since I needed a new bottle I decided to make my own, mainly for fun. As most projects, it evolved to something more and I ultimately decided to make a few bottles as small Christmas gifts for family and friends. The process is quite simple, all you need is vanilla beans and vodka. I ordered Bourbon Vanilla Beans from Beanilla and used Grey Goose Vodka, though you can use any type of vodka you have at hand as long as it is 80 proof/40% alcohol. 

Using a sharp knife, slice your vanilla beans down the center lengthwise. Inside the beans you will notice the vanilla “caviar”. You can scrape some of  the caviar out of your beans and scoop it into the jar you’ll be using to store your extract.

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Next, cut your vanilla beans in half. This will allow you to fully submerge your beans in vodka. When your beans are cut, place them in the bottles you’ve decided to use, pour the vodka over and seal.

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If you’re using a clear glass jar, make sure to keep the vanilla in an area without much sun exposure. I used 4 ounce Boston Round glass bottles from Specialty Bottles and ordered customized labels from My Own Labels which fit perfectly.

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The traditional time-frame to leave your beans soaking is a minimum of 6 weeks before use, but as with wine the longer it ages, the better. While some people remove the beans after the a certain amount of time ( this can be determined by you) and strain the liquid to have smooth vanilla extract, I choose to leave my beans in because as you run out you can add more vodka and replenish your supply. In short, this small bottle of vanilla extract will last you a long time.

Pumpkin Bread

As I mentioned in my last post, we went apple and pumpkin picking a few weeks ago. I somehow forgot all about the pumpkins for a few days ( ahem two weeks) but miraculously they were just fine. Thought I’d stop pushing my luck and started preparing them for next week’s Pumpkin Pie eating extravaganza, before they went bad. To preserve the pumpkins, all you have to do is freeze the pumpkin puree and then use it when you’re ready to bake.

Make and store your Pumpkin Puree

Slice the pumpkin in large pieces, and remove the seeds and pulp. Boil with skin on (optional, but I find it easier to remove the skin once the pumpkin is boiled and softer). Once the pumpkin is ready – when a fork is able to easily slide into pumpkin flesh, remove from pot and allow to cool for a few minutes. Peel the pumpkins and puree the pieces until you have a smooth consistency. Place your puree in freezer bags, in an even layer. Try to remove as much of the air as possible from the bags. This will facilitate faster freezing and will make your pumpkin easier to store until it’s time to use it.

If you’re able to get your hands on fresh pumpkins, it really does make all the difference in your final product. People will be thinking you’re a tiny Baking Goddess!

I had more than enough pumpkin to make two pies so with the leftover bag I decided to make pumpkin bread.

What you’ll need

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

What to do

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.

2 Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts.

3 Pour into a well-buttered  loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool on a rack and serve.

Simple and Delicious Chocolate Chip COokies

I’m back with a simple and delicious recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. These are amazingly moist and chewy cookies that you won’t be able to put down. Foreseeing this, I made them especially small so I could eat a few without feeling extra guilty. Recipe below and enjoy!

Recipe from Apple A Day

What you’ll need:
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened 
3/4 c. brown sugar 
1/4 c. granulated sugar 
1 egg 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
2 c. all purpose flour 
2 tsp. cornstarch 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
 
What to do:
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and continue blending. Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. The cookies will still be a bit soft when they come out of the oven but will harden afterwards.

Salted butter caramel

One of my biggest obsessions is caramel sauce. Not only do I love the taste, I find it to be one of the most versatile sauces in the kitchen. Whether you’re adding it to a frappuccino in the morning, mixing it in with your favorite brownie recipe or eating it straight out of the jar, it is always delicious and memorable. Though I’ve made caramel in the past , once I saw this recipe for Salted Butter Caramel from Smitten Kitchen, I was sold on doing another batch.

This recipe is one of the easiest I’ve ever worked with. It requires only 3 ingredients and takes just a few minutes to make.

1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons of salted butter (good quality)
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature

The rich, buttery, salty taste of this caramel is absolutely addicting. I’ve had to hide it in a far corner of the fridge so it’s not always in front of my face, flirting with me and asking me to eat all of it.

In hopes of avoiding that, I used a good amount of it and layered it between some brownies. You guessed it…they too turned out amazing. I used an old recipe, and since I had more than enough caramel sauce, I layered a good amount of it in between the brownies.

The result was gooey, chewy, sweet and salty chocolate goodness. They were gone in a few hours but their memory is still with us.

My iPhone photography skills are not the best, but in the above pictures you can actually see the caramel layered inside the brownies. Success!