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!!

This weekend I remembered how lucky I am to say I have a sister who I also call a best friend. <3

This weekend I remembered how lucky I am to say I have a sister who I also call a best friend. <3

holiday recap!

I hope you all had an amazing New Year’s! We were in sunny Florida for the weekend to visit family, and had a great time! It made me realize how much I truly dislike winter. January, February and March weather are going to be no fun! Anyhow, here are a couple highlights from our trip!

After flying into Orlando, and staying at my sister’s house over night, we drove down south to spend some time with some awesome people! They have a beautiful house, and made an amazing New Year’s Eve dinner.

We had delicious stone crab, along with grilled vegetables, swordfish and beef kabobs. For dessert, we put out a huge spread of fruit and other dippers for some dark chocolate fondue.

It was a pretty perfect evening. :)

The next morning, we drove down to Sun Life stadium to watch our Jets play lose miserably to the hometown Dolphins. Even though the game was really sad, we had an awesome time tailgating, and the day was beautiful!

After kissing the football season goodbye, we went to Miami to stay the night and visit some more family.

We had great weather, and even better time with each other.

Remind me again why I don’t live here?

Dad, his purse man satchel and his beer all matched the sky.

How pretty is my little sis?

…speaking of pretty. ;)

Meet Skye, my uncle’s canine buddy. :)

On our last night in Florida, we had a big family dinner. I’m a lucky girl to be surrounded by so many great people.

…and also a few great pups.

I wish we all lived closer, but until next time, we have a lot more memories! Happy 2012 everyone!

Just a few more pictures of one of my favorite vets. I found these in an old photo album of my grandpa’s. WWII in Europe. He was in his early 20’s.

Happy Veteran’s Day. Thank you to gramps, my FIL, and pops for your service. Thank you to all of the veterans.

weekend in photos

This past weekend we drove up to Ithaca to see my little college aged sister play in her first college softball game. She did great, and we were able to spend the rest of the weekend hanging out in the town.

We stayed at a really pretty bed and breakfast up on one of the many mountains in Ithaca. It is exactly the kind of house I’d love to live in one day. Preferably a little bit closer to a beach…

We saw Taughannock Falls, and took about a million photos in front of them. Above is a small sampling.

Oh, and then there was this. We met our new puppy niece, who happens to be the cutest thing there ever was. Welcome to the fam, Coco!

It was a great weekend to kick start the fall, even the Jets won! Happy almost fall to all of you!

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!

11 years ago

this weekend we’re going upstate to go to our nephew’s 11th birthday party. we also have another nephew being born as we speak (type?). this will be number 13! (all on dave’s side, i’m the oldest in my fam, none of us have any kids yet!)

everytime this particular nephew has a birthday, i always think back to the day he was born. that summer dave and i had just started hanging out as “more than friends”. i was 17 and going into my senior year in high school. we’d been friends for a couple of years already. i remember him calling me and telling me that he was going to meet his brother at the hospital because his nephew was on his way!

this is me and dave during that summer.

this is our nephew kevin…almost 11! i love that i will forever look at him and see how long dave and i have been together.

by the way, he requested special jets (smart kid) colored chocolate bark for his birthday party (football themed, obvs) so stay tuned for some photos of that on monday! happy birthday kevy!

the end of a decade, start of an age.

this past sunday, my baby sister graduated from high school. that means, in a few short months, she’ll be a college student. i feel like it wasn’t so long ago that i was a college student, but we’re 10 years apart.

left: my high school graduation day, with my sisters and uncle; right: lynzi’s high school grad, with just the sisters.

left: lynzi’s first day of school           right: grad day

left: lynz and her bff circa 1999        right: lynz and her bff on grad day

since the graduation was at the local minor league baseball stadium (the only place that would fit a graduating class of almost 1000 plus their families) we decided to tailgate before the ceremony. i made strawberries and cream cupcakes (lynzi’s flavor request) and put little white chocolate graduation caps on top. i also made the new york times best chocolate chip cookies, which is now my go to chocolate chip cookie since they come out so good.

now onto the cupcakes…

yellow buttermilk cupcakes with strawberry frosting

recipe adapted from martha’s website

makes 36 cupcakes

ingredients:

  • 3 cups cake flour, (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 5 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each. Beat in vanilla.

  3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.

after the cupcakes cooled completely, i whipped up some heavy cream, put it in a pastry bag with a large plain round tip, and just stuck it right in the middle of the cupcakes and filled them up! you can also use an apple corer to take out the middle of the cupcakes so that you make sure you have ample room for your whipped cream. i was in a bit of a rush, and i kind of like watching the cupcakes expand with cream!

this is my go to frosting. it is so easy and delicious, and you can make it any flavor you want. i learned how to make it at a class i took at the butter lane cupcake shop in nyc.

vanilla bean frosting

ingredients:

1 lb of butter
4 oz cream cheese
7 cups confectioners sugar
1 vanilla bean 
1 splash of vanilla extract

directions:

  • combine butter and cream cheese in mixing bowl and mix on a medium speed for 5 min. add vanilla bean and mix for one more minute. 
  • while mixing in at low speed, add sugar.  once combined, add a splash of vanilla extract and mix on a medium to high speed for 3 min or until smooth and fully combined. 
  • frost and enjoy!

since i wanted strawberry frosting here, i used about 3/4 cup of fresh strawberry jam and mixed it in with the frosting when it was done. you can do this with any flavor of jam, peanut butter…even nutella! it turns out great.

we had quite the spread!

the white chocolate caps, melted a bit!

at the end of the graduation, as the slide show was going on, the whole class got up from their seats and ran to the outfield so see the slide show. when the principal came back to the mic when it was done, he said, “well, apparently the class of 2011 decided to dismiss themselves…”.

congrats to lynzi and the class of 2011!


all about dads.

today i forgot my camera card, so i can’t post about the cookies or granola i made recently. so, i thought i’d do an early father’s day post. i probably won’t be in front of a computer sunday anyway, so why not!?

growing up, i was lucky enough to have a dad and two grandpas. now, i have an awesome dad in law added in to the mix. even though my grandpas aren’t around anymore, i’ll never forget how much greater growing up was because of them.

my dad’s dad, “pops”. i inherited my love of root beer and dessert from him.

my mom’s dad, “grampa”. i inherited my love of baseball and gardens from him.

my dad in law, oscar. by far the best father in law a girl could ask for! luckily, dave inherited quite a bit from him. :)

and most importantly, my dad, nick. i inherited too much from him to list here. he taught me how to ride a wave and a jetski, hit a ball, drive a car, clean a lobster, use a blow dryer to un-dent a bumper, and so much more. he’s the dad every girl wishes for her, but not all are lucky enough to have. thank you for being you, dad.

happy father’s day. :)