Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

I posted these last year on my sister’s birthday, and and this year you’ve already seen the cake I made. I thought I’d repost these because they really are some awesome birthday cookies, and the pictures make me smile. Happy 26th, Angelica. Who knew when I got a little sister, I’d gain a best friend for life?

best chocolate chip (birthday!) cookies…

…the new york times said so! i saw this recipe a while back, and i’ve been wanting to try it. i thought the perfect opportunity was for my sister’sbirthday, since she lives in florida and cookies are a lot easier to send via US mail than cupcakes.

before i get to the cookies…i’d just like to say having sisters is like having built in best friends. when angelica was born i was the happiest 3 year old there ever was. everyone thought she’d be a boy, and i insisted i would have a little sister. and she was.

as we got older, my mom dressed us alike. though this picture doesn’t show it, i really hated being dressed the same as my little sister. i mean, i was totally grown up. ;) but we were super fashionable.

i even taught her how to swim. we have different stories as to how it happened, but all that matters is that it was successful.

now, i can honestly say, she’s one of the best friends i have. i don’t know what i’d do without her.

on to her birthday cookies!

time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours chilling
makes 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

ingredients

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content 
  • sea salt

directions

  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.

i have to say, these cookies really did turn out amazing.

if you’re not all about the sea salt (the husband does NOT love it, but i reaaaally love it) just leave it out. i really think it gives it that something extra, though.

happy birthday gels!!

pink ombre birthday cake

What a weekend! Some of you may have seen Cait blogging about this cake on Saturday, and here are a few more pictures and some how to tips!

It’s my sister’s 26th birthday tomorrow, and since she was up in NY for my baby shower (more on that later!) I decided to make her a birthday cake for an early celebration. We saw a picture of a pink ombre cake in Food Network Magazine, and she liked it so much I knew that’s what I had to make for her birthday. I just did a vanilla cake, and she requested Nutella frosting.

The cake was super tall, since I separated the vanilla cake batter into 5 separate bowls, for 5 different colored layers. Just tint each bowl of batter with a variation of any color you’d like, light to dark. It’s as simple as that!

It looks so pretty when you cut it, and it tastes even better!

The cake was so tall, she could hide behind it. Happy birthday to my awesome sister, and one of my very best friends. :)

beer + pretzel cupcakes

today is one of my coworker’s birthdays, and he’s pretty into beer. we discussed what kind of cupcake i’d make, and this is what we decided on!

i have bookmarked my baking addiction’s whole page 2 of “chocolate” recipes because i need to make them ALL. this got me one recipe closer! the only thing i changed was the kind of beer i used, and i also added a bit of the beer into the ganache to make it just that much more…beery. cause why not?

i’ve used this making cupcakes before, and they turn out great! also, there’s some left over to drink. anyhow.

on to the recipe!

beer and pretzel cupcakes

adapted from my baking addiction

makes about 28 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle stout (I used double chocolate stout)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso granules dissolved in two teaspoons warm water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the stout, milk, vegetable oil, vanilla and espresso.
3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Add in the sour cream and mix until combined.
4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, and baking soda. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the stout mixture. Batter will be thin.
5. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until risen and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool completely on wire rack.

now for the ganache…

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate; chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of the stout (optional)

Directions

1. Place chocolate in a large heat safe bowl. Set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat heavy cream over medium heat until it just begins to boil. DO NOT walk away from the stove. The cream could boil over and you will be with a big mess to clean up.
3. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate and let it sit for five minutes.
4. Begin stirring the cream with a wooden spoon or whisk starting in the center of the bowl and working your way outward. As you stir, you will see the cream and chocolate come together. Allow your ganache to cool for 15 minutes and stir in vanilla. Let ganache sit at room temperature for another 3-45 minutes before topping cupcakes.

finishing touches

Chopped chocolate covered pretzel twists (i used flipz!)
Fine grain sea salt

to decorate cupcakes

Invert the top of the cupcake into the bowl of cooled ganache, use a spoon or offset spatula to spread evenly. Finish cupcakes with chopped chocolate covered pretzels and a tiny pinch of fine grain sea salt.

notes

Cupcakes are best served the day they are made due to the fact that the pretzels will soften overnight.

so far, these have gotten some pretty good reviews!! i was skeptical of a cupcake made without butter….but this works!! make for the beer lover in your life. :)

jets birthday bark!

on saturday we went to our nephew’s birthday party, and i made the jets chocolate bark he requested. in order to make it a bit more kid friendly, i didn’t put any nuts in it. it really is the easiest thing to make!

making chocolate bark doesn’t really require a recipe. it’s as simple as melting chocolate, stirring in whatever you want (and/or sprinkling it on top), spreading it out on some wax paper and putting it in the fridge till it gets hard. then you just break it up!

when i made birthday bark for my mom i used almonds and almond extract with dark chocolate because she loves that combo. for kevy, i used milk chocolate and white chocolate and crumbled some mint grasshopper cookies on top because it’s more kid friends. also, the green just screamed mint, so i had to do something with mint. i always use some kind of rice cereal mixed in with one of the layers because it gives it that nice crunch.

i used dyed white chocolate for the green and mixed it with regular white chocolate. if you want to do layers, just let the first layer chill until it’s hard, then just spread the second layer right on top.

kevy’s mom made this amazing jets cake, it was perfect! it was a great party with a great theme, for an even greater kid!

in addition to it being kevy’s birthday, we also said happy (literal) birthday to our newest nephew, jonah.

i’m so lucky to have so many fun kids in my life! happy birthday kevy and jonah!

dad’s birthday beachday.

this past weekend, my dad turned the big 5-7.

this is me and dad, 27 years ago at his 30th birthday party at my parent’s restaurant. we lived upstairs. this is why i am at the party in my pjs.

this year, we took the ferry from pier 11 in manhattan to sandy hook beach* in new jersey.

dad and dave, sending out some good football vibes. i’m convinced this is why there’s no more lockout.

verrazano bridge

this is actually in the new york harbor. i think it’s for sale.

arriving at sandy hook. this used to be some kind of military base, and these were their houses. they’re all boarded up now. i’d totally live in one.

mom and dad.

coming back to manhattan.

manhattan bridge and DUMBO.

happy birthday, dad!

*side note: 5 years ago on saturday (july 29), dave and i got engaged during a trip to sandy hook. biggest and best surprise of my life. :)

bacon + peanut butter = birthday love

my very best friend’s birthday was on friday. a few of her favorite things are bacon, peanut butter and cookies. so, being the friend that i am, i decided to find a recipe that combines these things. i actually found a couple that i wanted to try, so instead of just choosing one, i made both! i figure, you can never have enough peanut butter and bacon cookies on your birthday!

recipe #1: peanut butter bacon cookies

recipe adapted from joy the baker

makes about 15 cookies

ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-natural chunky or smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar (1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • about 6 slices of bacon, cooked, cooled and diced*

directions:

  1. In a skillet over medium high heat, fry up bacon until cooked through and let cool on paper towels until cool enough to dice.  Dice up and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Grease a baking sheet with butter and set aside. In a mixer combine peanut butter and sugars until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add egg and baking soda and mix for another 2 minutes.  
  5. Fold in cooked bacon.  
  6. Roll into large walnut sized balls and create a cris-cross pattern with a fork. If you’d like, roll the dough balls in granulated sugar before making the cris-cross pattern.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a baking sheet for five minutes.

*note: for these 2 recipes I used a 12 ounce box of center cut bacon. that means i almost doubled the bacon in each recipe. i did so because the comments on both recipes said the bacon flavor wasn’t very strong. the bacon flavor in these STILL wasn’t overwhelming, so i’d definitely recommend using at least 10 slices of bacon!

recipe #2: peanut butter-chocolate chip-bacon cookies

recipe adapted from foodnetwork.com

makes 12 cookies (this is what the recipe said, my batch ended up being bigger, closer to 20)

ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of chipotle or ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 strips bacon (1/3 pound)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped honey- roasted peanuts
  • 1/3 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, chile powder and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; reserve 2 tablespoons of the drippings and set aside to cool. Crumble the bacon, discarding any chewy bits.
  3. Beat the butter and reserved bacon drippings in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in the peanut butter until combined, about 1 minute. Beat in the granulated and light brown sugar until creamy, about 4 minutes, then add the egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 more minutes.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture in 2 additions, scraping down the bowl as needed, until just combined. Stir in the peanuts and all but 2 tablespoons each of the chocolate chips and bacon.
  5. Form the dough into 12 balls and arrange 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Flatten with your fingers (the cookies will not spread in the oven); press the reserved bacon and chocolate chips on top. Bake until golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Let the cookies cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

now, for the taste test. the first recipe makes slightly chewier (and gluten free!) cookie. the second one has more of a peanut butter cookie texture, as well as the addition of nuts and chocolate chips. the birthday girl liked the second one better, the husband liked the first. so i think it’s all about preference!

happy birthday, krys!!

which cookie do you think you’d like better?

white chocolate raspberry cookies.

tomorrow is one of my best lady friend’s birthdays. when i asked her what her flavor request was, she said white chocolate raspberry. i found a few different recipes, then settled on these. they were so easy to make, and so very tasty!

white chocolate raspberry cookies

makes 3 dozen

ingredients
  • about 1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • About 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 2 ounces white chocolate, chopped ( think i used more, i <3 chocolate!)

directions

  1. In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat 1/2 cup butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in 1 1/4 cups flour, then beat until dough comes together.
  2. Divide dough into thirds. On a floured surface, with the palms of your hands, roll each portion into a 9-inch-long rope about 1 inch thick. Place ropes 3 inches apart on a buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheet. Press your finger into dough to make 1/2-inch-wide indentations at 1-inch intervals along each rope. Spoon 1/4 teaspoon jam into each indentation.
  3. Bake ropes in a 350° regular or convection oven until edges are lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet.
  4. Place white chocolate in a plastic sandwich bag, pushing to one corner; secure bag just above chocolate with a twist-tie or knot. Immerse corner of bag in a cup of hot water until chocolate is melted. Dry bag, then, with scissors, cut off the tip of the corner. Squeeze bag to drizzle white chocolate decoratively across ropes. Chill until chocolate is firm to touch, about 1 hour, then cut each rope diagonally into 12 slices.

after i gave the birthday girl her cookies, i realized i forgot to take a picture of the cut cookies! how could i? so i asked her to send me a picture:

happy birthday chri!

little princess.

on sunday i went to watch some baseball in the bronx…

…but before that i stopped by a birthday party for one of the cutest little girls i know.

she was turning four, and it was a princess party in the backyard at sweet melissa in brooklyn. she was the perfect princess. little plastic high heels, leopard print leggings, a horse shirt, a crown and a tutu. oh, and a wand and wings. of course. happy birthday phoebe!

best chocolate chip (birthday!) cookies…

…the new york times said so! i saw this recipe a while back, and i’ve been wanting to try it. i thought the perfect opportunity was for my sister’s birthday, since she lives in florida and cookies are a lot easier to send via US mail than cupcakes.

before i get to the cookies…i’d just like to say having sisters is like having built in best friends. when angelica was born i was the happiest 3 year old there ever was. everyone thought she’d be a boy, and i insisted i would have a little sister. and she was.

as we got older, my mom dressed us alike. though this picture doesn’t show it, i really hated being dressed the same as my little sister. i mean, i was totally grown up. ;) but we were super fashionable.

i even taught her how to swim. we have different stories as to how it happened, but all that matters is that it was successful.

now, i can honestly say, she’s one of the best friends i have. i don’t know what i’d do without her.

on to her birthday cookies!

time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours chilling
makes 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

ingredients

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content 
  • sea salt

directions

  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.

i have to say, these cookies really did turn out amazing.

if you’re not all about the sea salt (the husband does NOT love it, but i reaaaally love it) just leave it out. i really think it gives it that something extra, though.

happy birthday gels!!