Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies

So every time I’ve posted a cookie post in this blog I mention how much I love chocolate chip cookies. Yes, they are my favorite and lately I’ve begun to realize that no store bought chocolate chip cookie comes close to the taste of a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. Even the pre-made dough (like break and bake or just a tube of dough) isn’t as good. My local grocery store had the pre-made dough on sale and they were just too good to pass up. Like I’ve said, cookies are quick and easy, especially if the dough is pre-made. The whole process takes about 15 minutes depending on your oven. Now that I’m a mommy, I need something quick because I don’t always have much time to be in the kitchen.

After I bought the pre-made dough a few times I asked myself why I wasn’t just baking them from scratch. It really doesn’t take long and all of the ingredients were things I either had on hand or should have had on hand anyway. Making the dough doesn’t take long and it stores well so I didn’t have to make the whole batch at once. I usually do 6 at a time so bf and I could each have 3. The recipe is said to make 5 dozen cookies so its perfect. I stored it covered in my refrigerator for about a week. I tried another chocolate chip cookie recipe from the Food Network ( I believe it was a Tyler Florence recipe). I liked how buttery the cookies were but no matter how I tried, the cookies just didn’t bake to my liking. They would flatten a lot and the tops would turn very brown very quickly, no matter how much I adjusted the temperature of my oven. When you’re baking with an electric oven you really have to keep an eye on what you’re baking because the oven gets so hot so quickly. Even with this recipe I adjusted the bake time so the cookies wouldn’t get too brown. While the recipe says to bake 9-11 minutes, with my electric oven I only needed to bake them for 7-9 minutes.

You can find the recipe on the back of the bag of Nestle Tollhouse chocolate morsels. When I make my cookies I like to mix semi-sweet and milk chocolate morsels for a richer chocolate taste. You could realistically use whatever kind of chips you like. I wanted to use toffee chips but my grocery store didn’t have them and I was too tired to chop up a Heath bar just for cookies. Since the recipe calls for 2 cups of morsels, I use one cup semi-sweet and one cup milk chocolate. But again you can improvise with that. Also, the recipe doesn’t specify what kind of brown sugar but I always use light brown. And make sure your eggs are room temperature!! These cookies are freakin’ delicious and I just finished off the last of the dough before I wrote this post while the Little One sleeps. Without further delay, here is your recipe!

Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups Nestle Tollhouse morsels

Preheat over to 375 degrees

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl beat butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs one at a time beating well. Gradually add dry ingredients and mix well. Scrape the sides to be sure all dough is incorporated. Stir in morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

chocolate chip cookies1

chocolate chip cookie2

Simple Strawberry Shortcake

It’s summer! I love summer and more importantly I love summer fruit! Strawberries are my absolute favorite fruit of all time hand’s down, no question about it. They are one of the most universal dessert fruits really. There isn’t much you can’t do with a strawberry. They’re good on their own, with any kind of cake, topping or dipping sauce. God, how can one fruit be so bloody amazing?

I really love strawberry shortcake by the way. There is something perfect about the combination of strawberries, vanilla cake and whipped cream that is just so perfect. I usually order it for dessert at a restaurant unless I’m craving chocolate cake. I just impulsively decided that I really wanted a strawberry shortcake. I looked through my recipes and discovered I had saved a bunch of recipes but I really just decided I wanted to create my own cake. Really, its that I was lazy and didn’t want to bake an entire cake from scratch and boxed cake was the way to go.

When I got to the grocery store I was faced with a few decisions to make, namely what kind of cake mix to buy. I knew yellow cake wasn’t going to work with the recipe because it had too distinct of a flavor. So that left me with either French vanilla or white cake. I couldn’t make a decision so I bought both and figured I’d decide when I got home. French vanilla won mainly because white cake requires egg whites and again, I was lazy. I also like the subtle taste of vanilla in my cake so I think that also influenced my decision.

Box cake mix is really where the simple part of where this cake comes from. I also had one other shortcut, whipped topping. I find its a better binder in the center of the cake than homemade whipped cream. But the homemade whipped cream is perfect for frosting the outside of the cake. As far as the strawberries are concerned, you could just slice them and fill the cake but they are so much better if you macerate them. Macerate means to soften or break up. It just really enhances the strawberry flavor and if you use strawberries that are close to but not entirely ripe, macerating them will really bring out the strawberry flavor.

The cake was truly a success! The boyfriend ate two large slices of the first night and actually devoured most of the cake. Usually I don’t bake cakes because he never eats them but now I know he’ll be all over this one!

strawberry shortcake1

Here is step one in cake construction. One layer of cake, whipped topping and the macerated strawberries.

strawberry shortcake2Here is step two! Second cake on top!

Simple Strawberry Shortcake
1 box french vanilla cake mix
1 pint strawberries
1 8oz. container whipped topping
1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar

Bake cake in two 9 inch round cake pans according to box directions. Let cool completely

Cut one pint strawberries into slices. If you have larger berries, cut the slices into halves. Mix with 1 tbsp. sugar. Place container into refrigerator to macerate. Let sit for at least 15 minutes, up to 30.

Remove cakes from pans. Place thicker cake on plate, slice off a thin top layer with a serrated knife to create an even surface for whipped topping. Spread half of whipped topping over cake. Cover with macerated berries. Cover with whipped topping. Its okay if you have some left over. Place other cake on top and refrigerate.

Mix cold cream and 1/4 cup sugar in a metal bowl. Whip until stiff peaks are formed. Cover entire cake using offset spatula.

Place strawberry on top of the center of the cake to decorate. Refrigerate before serving or serve immediately.

strawberry shortcake full

Finished product!

strawberry shortcake slice

First slice!

Apple Crisp

Contrary to the recipes I have been posting on here as of recent, dessert is actually my favorite part of a meal. I absolutely love it and if I go out to dinner I’ve been known to not eat part of my entree to make sure that I have room for dessert. Its sooooo good!! I love anything sweet; hot, cold, lukewarm, I don’t care as long as its delicious. I have been more into making my own desserts at home lately due to the monotony of your average grocery store snacks like ice cream, tasty cakes or cookies. There is something satisfying about eating a dessert you’ve made yourself. I think its because of the fact that baking is so scientific. If you screw one little thing up you can totally throw off your whole recipe. (I did that once this week with a botched but still delicious chocolate pudding pie. I’ll tell you the whole story once I fix the bugs and post the recipe)

As I scoured the dozens of dessert recipes I have bookmarked on my computer, there were so many that piqued my interest. I’d click on the link and examine the recipe. Today when I decided I wanted to bake something, I wanted to do it with as many ingredients in my possession currently as possible. The boy, the pup and I are heading out on a three week long sojourn to see our families at the end of the month and I don’t want to buy a ton of groceries or have a bunch of leftovers to try and eat before we leave. Some I ruled out due to the lack of ingredients in my person, some just seemed more tedious than I really wanted and then some were just too delicious to waste on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I also decided that for some reason recipes with fruit just seemed more appealing to me right now. I think I just eat more fruit in the summer. That being said I need some more summer fruit dessert recipes.

As we enter month three of my “funemployment” I have found that being at home all day has caused me to pack on some extra pounds in my tummy area. Anything with an elastic waistband has become my best friend. I really wish this weight went to my boobs or something but alas. So I also wanted to find something that wasn’t going to be overly rich. I think fruit desserts are good for that. I always love desserts with apples in them, even though I know apple desserts are often considered a fall thing. I don’t really think about things like that. If a fruit is available at any given time of the year I will eat it! That being said, I love Granny Smith apples. I just love tart stuff. When I’m baking with apples though I do like to mix the kinds I use just to vary the taste. So I settled on an apple crisp (the other options were either some sort of apple cake which would never get finished in this house or a crumb cake but again, cakes just don’t work in a house with two people). I know when you think of apple crisp you think of chilly weather and multicolored leaves but I’m a rebel 😉

So, I found the recipe here and I was happy I had mostly all of the ingredients in my cupboards. All I really needed to buy was flour (I ran out the last time I made cookies) and of course the apples. No one in this house eats oatmeal (yuck) but I had a couple packets of instant oatmeal from the last attempt I made at eating it because my dad told me it was better for you than cereal. FYI: two packets of instant oatmeal is exactly 3/4 cup! What’s better was that it was apple cinnamon flavored. This crisp was meant to happen, let me tell ya! Since the recipe is non specific on things like brown sugar and butter type I used what was already open. That being said, I used light brown sugar and unsalted butter. I left the butter cold and cut it into cubes because it mixes better with the topping that way. I learned that from the hours I’ve spent watching my favorite tv chef Ina Garten make crisps. For the apples I used Granny Smith, Fuji and Red Delicious. When I went to the grocery store they had mostly what they call “lunchbox size” apples so I got the Fuji and Red Delicious in that size. I got regular size Granny Smith because that’s all they had. If you have to do the same thing, I got 2 Fuji, 2 Red Delicious and 2 Granny Smith just to be safe. I ended up using the 2 Fuji but only 1 each of the Red Delicious and Granny Smith.

The recipe also says that you can either slice or dice the apples. I thinly sliced them one because I like big pieces of apple in my dessert and also because I was preparing the crisp while I was making my dinner so it was actually just faster. You need to core the apples but don’t worry about peeling them. No need to make more work for yourself. Also, the crisp topping in the original recipe is very basic which is fine but I like to spice things up a little which in this case meant adding some spices to make the flavors more in depth. This time I added them as an afterthought so I just mixed them in with the topping but for all intensive purposes, I’m telling you to mix the cinnamon with the white sugar and flour that you toss the apples in and add the cloves in with the crisp topping. Also, I want to start incorporating more photos in my posts so I took pictures of the crisp in its various stages of final product. I would never post pictures of the cooking process because I don’t want you all seeing pictures of my dirty kitchen! And here’s your recipe!

Apple Crisp

4 cups sliced or diced apples
1 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter diced
3/4 cup oatmeal
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, toss apples with flour, regular sugar and cinnamon. Place well coated apple mixture in a well greased 8×8 baking pan.

In another medium bowl combine additional ingredients and sprinkle over apple mixture.

Bake 30 minutes. Serve warm. Place leftover crisp in the fridge.

apple crisp full
full apple crisp

apple crisp plate

plain on a plate

apple crisp ic

topped with some vanilla ice cream

apple crisp caramel

all done up with some caramel drizzle!

 

 

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you know me, you know how much I love cookies. I’ve already posted a cookie recipe on here and I have a ton more saved up in my bookmarks. I love the ease of cookies. Generally they don’t take long to prepare, don’t take long to bake, and you can have a couple and feel very satisfied. My favorite kind of cookie is most definitely chocolate chip. There’s nothing more perfect than chocolate chip cookies. How many childhood memories are tied to biting into a warm, gooey, just baked chocolate chip cookie? Just saying it brings back those memories. And in my personal opinion, chocolate chip is the best kind of raw cookie dough. I know I shouldn’t advocate eating something with raw egg in it but come on, you know you do it 😉 Another thing, chocolate chip cookies are also perfect for embellishment. Not that they need it but the flavors are so simple that you can layer them really nicely.

Salted caramel is a flavor combination that I have come to love in the past few years. I love the mixture of sweet and salty; like chocolate covered pretzels or kettlecorn. When I found this recipe I thought it would be perfect. You couldn’t get much more perfect than chocolate chip and salted caramel. You can find the original recipe here. I tweaked the recipe slightly, mainly that I only added two cups of flour and omitted the two additional tablespoons. I just felt it wasn’t necessary. You can use any kind of chocolate chips you like; I mixed semi-sweet and milk chocolate. It’s just a tasty combination. I used Worther’s Original chewy caramels but you can again use any kind you’d like. Just make sure they’re individually wrapped! Be aware of your placement of the caramels into the cookies; the closer to the edge the more they’re going to stick to the baking sheet. It can be a little hard to get them off so try to do it when the cookies are still warm. The first time I made these (which was before I started this blog) I used a serrated knife to get them off the cookie sheet and ended up cutting my finger. It wasn’t bad but just save yourself the trouble 🙂 Also, when it comes to the sea salt, I used a finer grain of salt this time because that’s what I had. You can use a thicker grain of salt, or maybe even a fleur de sel, which is a pretty fancy French sea salt. Moving on, here’s the recipe!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes approximately 3 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup salted butter softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 room temperature egg
1 room temperature egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate chips
16 caramels cut into 4-5 pieces each
sea salt

Mix flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg, yolk and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips but don’t add caramels. Don’t over mix dough.

Chill dough for at least 30 minutes (you can store it for up to 5 days). Chop caramels into pieces. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Make sure to keep dough cold in between batches while baking!

Drop cookies by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Press a few pieces of caramel onto the tops of cookies. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. The centers should appear soft and puffy. Sprinkle with sea salt while warm. Let cool completely before storing in an air tight container.

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Tres Leches Cake

I first had this delicious cake in Illinois oddly enough. My brother lives out there and during a visit my sister in law took me and my niece and nephew out for Mexican. Never one to turn down a dessert recommendation, I tried the cake. My sister in law had introduced me to fried ice cream so I definitely trusted her. The cake was perfect. Thick, creamy, milky and wonderful.

After the initial introduction I didn’t have tres leches cake again for a long while. Since most of my Mexican cuisine came from places like Chevy’s and Chipotle, tres leches just wasn’t on the menu. I re-discovered it much like I discovered Tiramisu; in the dessert section of Whole Foods. It was just the way I remembered it!

Tres leches means three milks: regular whole milk, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. The last two come in cans and if you’re shopping in a regular grocery store they can be found in the baking aisle. They’re usually pretty inexpensive so you can stock up on them! I’m not a brand snob so I usually buy whichever ones are the cheapest. The cake is also topped with whipped cream. The recipe tells you how to make it and I promise its not hard to do but if you’re afraid, I’d say use something like Cool Whip over Redi-Whip simply because of consistency. Redi-Whip just doesn’t stand up to being stored in the fridge. Also, you can serve this cake topped with fruit (the recipe even suggests it) but I don’t for storage/flavor reasons. If you knew you were going to consume the whole cake at once you could probably top it with fruit but I just don’t see the point =)

These cakes are pretty easy to make and having made it twice now I feel more confident with my skills. Like the note on the recipe says, if you’re using a metal baking pan keep an eye on it because it will bake quickly. Once it’s out and cooled slightly (you want to pour the milk over a warm cake) I poke holes with a fork. I think a skewer/toothpick is more time consuming and kind of small. Also, when making the whipped cream use COLD heavy cream and a chilled bowl. It just sets better the colder the cream. I got this recipe from the almighty Martha Stewart so I didn’t really mess with it too much. She can do no wrong in my mind. The recipe can be found here. Moving on…

Tres Leches Cake
serves 12

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar (3/4 cup for cake, 1/4 cup for whipped cream)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter 9×13 inch baking dish. In a medium bowl whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt). In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat eggs and 3/4 cup sugar until pale and thick, approximately 4 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine. Switch mixer to low and gradually add dry ingredient mixture. Beat to combine. With a spatula mix in melted butter until incorporated. pour batter into dish and bake until top in golden brown and knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Rotate halfway

In a medium bowl whisk together milks. Once cake is warm, not hot, poke holes in top of cake with fork. Pour milk mixture over the top of cake and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Whip heavy cream and 1/4 cup sugar until medium peaks form. To serve, spread whipped cream over the top of completely cooled cake. If you’d like, top with fruit of your choice. I thin berries would work best.

I have a pic of the top of the cake, I should have taken one of it cut into.

tres leches

Tiramisu

I discovered my love for tiramisu a couple years ago. I stumbled upon it in whole foods’ dessert section. in some places, they sell individual servings of cake. Having never tried it before I gave it a shot. It was love at first bite! There’s something about the cold creamy filling, the coffee soaked ladyfingers, the way it all mushes together…its bliss. I think it’s also because I like coffee and not overly sweet desserts. That’s one of the good things about tiramisu; you can control the sweetness of the dessert. While a traditional tiramisu recipe calls for rum, I like mine alcohol free. I think sometimes when you add liquor, it detracts from the taste of the dessert.

Another thing I love about tiramisu is that it is fast! The prep time is about 15 minutes and it takes a minimum of 2 hours to chill and set. This means you can make it in the afternoon and it’ll be ready after dinner! The recipe I adapted is from one of my favorite Italian chefs, Giada DeLaurentiis. It can be found here.

Here’s a little shortcut I was lucky enough to stumble upon. At my local grocery store (I shop at Ralphs for all of my CA friends), there is a coffee flavored marscarpone cheese. I still mix a little coffee into the marscarpone but I use it more to enhance the coffee flavor. I also don’t have a coffee maker at home so I just get a grande iced coffee (no ice!) at my neighborhood Starbucks. Grande is a perfect size to have enough to soak the ladyfinger sufficiently. I also like to taste the cream after I’ve mixed in all of the ingredients and see if it’s sweet enough. If not you can always add another tablespoon of sugar. Here we go!

6 egg yolks
3 tbsp. sugar
1 lb marscarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups strong coffee, chilled
24 packaged ladyfingers
unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

In a large bowl beat or whisk egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale, approximately 5 minutes. Add marscarpone and beat until smooth. Add 1 tbsp. of coffee and mix until thoroughly combined.

In a shallow dish, dip ladyfingers in coffee for a few seconds. You want them to be fully absorbed but not too absorbed or they will fall apart. Line the bottom of baking pan (I use a 9×9) with half of the ladyfingers. Smooth half of the marscarpone mixture over the top of the ladyfingers.

Arrange the remaining ladyfingers over the top of the mixture. Top with the remaining  marscarpone mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

Before serving, dust with unsweetened cocoa powder.

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Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think cookies are awesome. Chocolate chip are my absolute favorite cookie ever. I love to find variations of chocolate chip cookies because I have yet to find one that isn’t delicious. I also really love peanut butter cookies. Peanut butter has always been a staple in my life. I love the stuff. I remember once having peanut butter cookies and deciding that the only thing that could make them better would be adding chocolate chips. Peanut butter and chocolate is my absolute favorite sweet flavor combo.

When I found this recipe I was so excited. It has minimal ingredients and the lack of flour really enhances the flavor of the peanut butter. Here’s the link to the original recipe. I kept pretty much to the recipe but it didn’t specify what kind of brown sugar. I used light. I may try dark and see how it changes the flavor of the cookie. Also, the recipe calls for creamy peanut butter but I may try chunky too. These cookies are honestly a cinch! It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. How perfect is that? The recipe says to flatten the cookies at about the 7 minute mark if they’re not already flat but I think if I would have left them they would have flattened on their own. I flattened them and then they spread further.

Now here’s something that I will say now. I have an electric stove. I think they’re awesome but you have to keep an eye on things when you’re baking. Sometimes with an electric oven, things don’t need to bake as long as they do in a gas oven. I usually check them about 5 minutes before the suggested bake time is over.

Flourless Peanut Butter Choco Chip Cookes
makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on your scoop size

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 lg egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I mixed semi-sweet and milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. (They’re okay if you don’t have either)

In a bowl beat together peanut butter, sugars, egg, baking soda and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop cookie dough on to baking sheets approximately 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for about 7 minutes. If cookies have not flattened, flatten with a spatula until they are 1/4 inch in thickness. Continue to bake cookies until they have set and turned golden brown, about 2-4 additional minutes.

After removing cookies from the oven, let cool on baking sheets for a few minutes. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool completely.

pb cookies