Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

Incredibly humbled and honored to be reviewed by DC’s finest chocolate chip cookie blog, Cookies With Stephen. Although I’ve never met him, Stephen clearly has an unparalleled palate for the craft of chocolate chip cookies.

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BROWNED BUTTER is the secret to this cookie. It’s what gives the dough a rich dark color, adds a little extra crunch to your bite, and leaves a sweet toffee-like taste in your mouth until you grab the next cookie!

So, the most important step to this recipe: brown the butter. Here are the five steps to browning butter. I don’t use exact times because its different depending on your stove, pan, and butter.

  • use good butter
  • melt on low, then turn heat to medium-low
  • ‘sautee’ the butter, stirring constantly while it simmers
  • as soon as you see the first sign of golden flakes at the bottom of the pan, remove from heat
  • if you’re feeling daring and think the butter needs a bit more darkening, put back on low heat. It’s better to remove the butter prematurely- as soon as one gold flake turns to black, the butter becomes burnt and you sadly have to throw it away.

Ingredients:

– 6 oz browned butter, cooled in the refrigerator

– 1 cup brown sugar

– 1/2 cup granulated sugar

– 2 eggs

– 1 teaspoon vanilla

-2 teaspoons cornstarch

-1 teaspoon baking soda

-2 1/4 cup flour

-1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and sugars in a bowl with a fork or rubber spatula
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  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla
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  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined- do not over-mix.
  4. Add chocolate chips. At this point, I ditch the rubber spatula and mix with *clean* hands
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  5. Roll dough into a log, wrap in parchment paper, and refrigerate for 30 minutes
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  6. Scoop the dough into 1.5 inch balls. Flatten with the bottom of a measuring cup, and sprinkle sea salt on the top. If you want a rougher look to your cookie, rip pieces from the dough log rather than scooping, and don’t flatten.
  7. Bake at 325* for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned.edited_1241edited_1242edited_1219

 

Photo Fun!

One thing that really bothers me is when people see a photo and say “whoa you have such a good camera!”. Yes, the camera is part of it, but the photographer makes the magic happen. My friend Kristen is a phenomenal photographer and I was lucky enough to spend the past two weekends doing a full photoshoot of the baking process with her. From the messy mixing to the polished final product, these photos tell a perfect story of my life in the kitchen.

Kristen and I met when I was interning and she worked at Nat Geo Channel in DC. We sat directly next to each other but we didn’t talk until my LAST day when I brought in cookies. People love cookies.collage2

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Raspberry Mascarpone and Honey Lavender French Macarons


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Lavender Honey Buttercream 

– 2 tbsp heavy cream

– 1.5 tbsp lavender buds, dried

– 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

– 5 tbsp butter

– 2 tsp honey

Soak the lavender buds in the heavy cream and keep in refrigerator for 24-48 hours. When you are ready to make the frosting, beat the butter with the paddle attachment in your stand mixer. Add half the powdered sugar, then half of the cream mixture; repeat. Add honey and beat until desired consistency. Use the whisk attachment if you like a fluffier whipped frosting.

Raspberry Mascarpone Filling

– one 4 oz container mascarpone at room temperature

– 5 tbsp raspberry preserves, seedless

Mix! Easiest filling ever? I think so 🙂

Macaron Recipe (I used for both. Next time, I will dye the lavender shells to be, well… lavender.)

– 90 g. egg whites (been separated and in refrigerator for 3-5 days)

– 25 g. sugar

– 200 g. powdered sugar

– 110 g. almond meal

– 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

Weigh all of your ingredients ahead of time.

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In a stand mixer whisk the egg whites to a foam.

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Gradually add the granulated sugar until you arrive at a glossy meringue with just barely stiff peaks. common mistake 1: do not over-beat the mixture or it will dry out.

Place the powdered sugar and almond meal in a food processor and pulse until very well mixed.

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Add them to the meringue, add the vanilla bean seeds, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until the mixture falls into itself after 8-10 seconds. Give quick strokes at first and then slow down. The batter should fall back on itself and flatten.

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Fill a pastry bag with a plane tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (really just 1 inch in diameter, I promise they spread!) onto parchment paper or silpat mat lined baking sheets. let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour until they develop a skin that is not sticky to the touch.

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Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 20 minutes on a silpat mat or parchment paper. Let cool completely before filling.

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PROM Thin Mint Cakepops!

Here are some cakepops I made for our fake prom event last month. #nostalgia

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– 3 sleeves of thin mints

– 1 block of cream cheese

Put thin mints in a food processor until very fine. mix in cream cheese with your hands. Refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes.

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Remove from fridge and roll into 1.5 inch balls. Add sticks.

DSC_0076Refrigerate with sticks in for 20 more minutes. Remove from fridge and let balls return to almost room temperate (still cool to the touch). The reasoning for this is that the balls expand as they warm to room temperature. You don’t want to dip and coat them while they are still cold because the coating will crack once they expand.

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Decorate as you wish! I don’t have a picture of the tuxedo dipping, but I tilted the cakepop and did each half of the tux. I took dried plain white cakepops and used a piping bag to make a decorative white design (like a lace dress). I covered those with white mini non pareils and the white-on-white looked phenom!

 

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Goodbye Texas Cookies

Today was the first time in my life that I left Texas without knowing when I will return. As you can imagine, these last couple of days have been nostalgic for me (or as nostalgic as it gets for a 22 year old about to start her adult life). I visited my old places of work, ran into my 5th grade teacher at the gas station, and transferred my folder from the doctors office.

I was driving down 5th street, one of the most lively streets overflowing with Austin culture, and noticed a massive Texas flag painted on the multi-level wall of a building. First of all, who paints their state flag on a large building in the center of town? Who memorizes their state’s flower, flag, and random facts? Who, after 15 years, still remembers their state’s individual pledge of allegiance? A Texan.

In the heart of this Texas spirit, I decided to make these cowboy boot cookies. Something tells me the charm of a boot-shaped cookie will not be appreciated in Washington DC.

Cookies:

– 2 sticks butter, unsalted and softened

– 1 cup sugar

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 1 egg

– 1 tsp vanilla

– 3 cups flour plus some for dusting

Icing:

– 1 lb powdered sugar (more depending on how much you need)

– whole milk

Directions:

1. Mix butter and sugar with an electric mixer, cream until fluffy

2. Add egg and vanilla. Stir well.

3. Add mixture of flour and salt. Stir until just incorporated.

4. Split dough in half and roll into two discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface, touching it as little as possible to keep it chilled. Cut desired shapes.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are just slightly browning. I like to take them out prematurely and sometimes do it before the edges brown.

7. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

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While the cookies are baking, make the royal icing. I tried a new cookie and royal icing recipe that a friend suggested to me. This royal icing is no-egg. It takes longer to dry because there are no egg whites and no meringue powder, but the icing is much softer than hard royal icing. Also, peeps won’t get weird when you feed them raw egg whites. Mix powdered sugar with whole milk until the consistency feels right. I know, what an annoying and vague description. I would say 1 part whole milk to 5 parts powdered sugar. A better rule of thumb is to take a fork and drizzle the icing back into the bowl. It should take 4-5 seconds to completely melt back in with the remaining icing. Split into small bowls and color. Cover the icing with plastic wrap, but push the plastic to the surface of the icing to avoid air drying the top.

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1. Using 1/3 of the thick royal icing and a piping bag with #2 tip, pipe the outline of the cookies. For a tutorial on piping and flooding royal icing, click here. Let the piping dry for 5 minutes.

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2. Add any leftover icing from piping into the bowl of icing.

3. Add 1/4 teaspoon of water to the remaining brown royal icing and stir until thinner. Now the icing should take 2 seconds to melt into the remainder when drizzled on top.

4. Using a piping bag or candy making squeeze bottle, flood the icing in the space between the piping. Only fill partially and then use a mini offset spatula or toothpick to spread it around.

5. Let dry for 6-8 hours.

6. Use the same technique for a lighter brown icing which will be used for boot accents. I have been using Americolor gel food coloring and love it.

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7. Next add black accents for the spur of the boot, the bottom heel and dots on the top. Use a dark red to complete the boots with zig zag accents. Let dry for another 8 hours and serve. Do not stack the cookies for 24 hours.

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Enjoy!

ps- just an example of how cool the Americolor food dye is…these are flip flops in the making:

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Dolce de Leche + Alfajores

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Someone introduced this cookie to me and, although I’ve often seen them at restaurants, the recipe seemed far too difficult to mess with. It involved Dolce de Leche and I wasn’t going to just use the store-bought jarred stuff. If I was going to do this, I needed to commit. A solid 4 hours for cooking time and an additional 2 for the cookies.

Let’s think. I just finished my last class of college ever. I have no finals, and as of now no full time job to report to. I’d say today was a perfect day for a 6+ hour baking spree. Not to mention I had a fellow baker in my company so we decided to take the challenge.

Dolce de Leche

– 8 cups whole milk

– 2 1/2 cups sugar

– 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or bourbon (Yes, I’m 21)

Heat all the ingredients in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Stir occasionally for the first 1.5 hours but as the milk reduces and darkens you have to stir it more frequently. If the milk doesn’t seem to be hot enough (it should be very slowly bubbling) you can increase the heat for a little bit. Be sure to keep it mostly at medium until the very end. BE PATIENT. This will take a solid 3.5-4 hours.

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Leave the Dolce de Leche in the pot to cool and start on the cookies:

 

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– 1 cup cornstarch

– 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

– 1 teaspoon baking powder

– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

– 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

– 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature

– 1/3 cup granulated sugar

– 2 large egg yolks

– 1 tablespoon brandy

– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

– 1 cup Dolce de Leche at room temperature

– Powdered sugar for dusting

    1. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl and mix until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks,  brandy, and vanilla and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Now add the dry ingredients. Mix until there are no white pockets of flour.
    2. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape it into a smooth disk, and wrap it tightly. Place in the refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

 

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Roll to 1/4-inch thickness (the dough will crack but can be easily patched back together).
  2. Place the cookies on parchment paper lined baking sheets, 12 per sheet and at least 1/2 inch apart. Bake until the cookies are a very light brown on the bottom edge, about 12 to 14 minutes. (The cookies will remain pale on top.) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  3. Flip half of the cookies upside down and gently spread about 2 teaspoons of the dolce de leche on each. Place a second cookie on top and gently press to create a sandwich. Dust generously with powdered sugar before serving.
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  4. Press the cookie sandwich just enough for the dolce de leche to start oozing out of the sides (caramel is one of the few times where it is acceptable to use the otherwise disgusting word ‘ooze’)
  5. Roll the sides of the cookies in a shallow bowl of toasted coconut or sprinkles or chocolate shavings. Enjoy!

    Love From Lauren,

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Grandma’s Peanut Butter Kisses

These cookies have 4 ingredients and are so perfect with or without the chocolate on top. This time I got creative with leftover valentines candy and used Reese’s hearts. The traditional recipe calls for Hershey’s Kisses so I used those also. The key to these cookies is cooking them long enough but not too long (about 8 minutes at 350*)

Ingredients:

– 1 cup peanut butter

– 1 cup sugar

– 1 egg

– 1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

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Form into 1.5-2 inch balls and flatten into discs on a cookie sheet

DSC_0088Flatten the cookies with the back of a dinner fork. If the fork is sticking, run it under the sink to wet it. If the cookie dough is crumbling too much, hold the dough with one hand as you flatten with a fork in the other hand.

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Bake for 8 minutes. Unwrap chocolate candies while the cookies are baking. As soon as you take the sheet out of the oven, gently press a candy in the middle of each cookie.

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You can do the candies before baking as well, but they might lose shape a little.

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Holiday Sugar Cookies & Royal Icing

The BEST Sugar Cookies

This recipe is like hitting the jackpot, especially because it can be easily modified depending on what your perfect sugar cookie tastes like. It keeps it’s shape when refrigerated, so cookie cutters are a breeze. Also using half shortening and half butter will also make it keep the shape even better. Lastly, this dough can be cooked into thin crispy sugar cookies or thick cake-like cookies.

Prettiest when paired with the royal icing recipe below, but butter-cream frosting or canned frosting will also work!

The Cookies:

– 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
– 2 cups sugar
– 4 eggs
– 1 tsp. vanilla
– 5 cups flour
– 2 tsp. baking powder
– 1 tsp. salt
– ½ tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 380 degrees F.

Cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Mix in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Cover and chill at least one hour.

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Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

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Bake 8 minutes or until edges start to slightly brown. Another indicator that the cookies are ready is when the top no longer looks shiny.

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Cool slightly on baking sheets and then transfer to cooling rack and cool completely.

Once cookies are completely cooled, frost with royal icing:

here is a video tutorial for piping and flooding icing

– 5 cups powdered Sugar/confectioners sugar

– 3 Eggs (you will only need the egg whites)

– ½ tsp Vanilla extract

  1. Mix 4 out of the 5 cups of powdered sugar with 3 egg whites and ½ tsp vanill
  2. Put ¼ of the mixture in a separate bowl. This should be thickened with remaining powdered sugar as needed and will be used for piping. Add any food coloring now. The royal icing used for piping should be the consistency of toothpaste. When drizzled back into the bowl, it should take about 5 seconds to dissolve back into the mixture.

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3. Once the cookies are completely cooled, start piping the outline using a plastic decorating bottle . Let the outline dry and then use the flooding icing (thinned to the consistency of maple syrup (maybe a littttle thicker). This is not an exact science, keep adding powdered sugar and water to your liking.

 

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DSC_0385If you like this style of detail, wait for the base layer of royal icing to dry. If you want the top to be flat, decorate the detail while the base is wet. Happy piping & flooding, please comment with any questions or personal experiences with the recipe!