Friday, February 13, 2015

Chocolate chip cookies

I love using local products and supporting regional businesses.  I went to this new chocolate shop in Irvine, Orange County called Choxco.  

They offer a concept called "bean to bar" for all of their chocolate and I must say it really makes all the difference.  

Having the beans roasted onsite seems to really pull out an extraordinary flavor and makes even a regular chocolate chip cookie seem special.

I went with my kids to their grand opening celebration with free samples of hot chocolate, tasting chocolate and bar chocolate.  It also included a guided tour of the facility.  To my understanding large groups can call in and schedule a tour of the facility as well.

They have all sorts of specialty chocolates and most of them were organic.

The hot chocolate is divine.

The flavor of the chocolate is so delicious.  I can't wait to try this chocolate in a brownie.  This is the recipe I use to freeze cookie dough balls which I later pull out whenever I want a fresh cookie and indulge.

The Local Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

2 ⅛ cups white all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp.baking soda
12 tbsp. unsalted, European-style butter (for best results)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups local semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 325°, with racks set in the middle of the oven.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and mix to incorporate. Add dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.

3. Divide dough into 1/4 cup portions; roll into balls (you can freeze the balls and store in a freezer bag at this point), transfer to parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. When fully cooked, the outer edges of the cookies should be golden and slightly crisp, while the middle should still be slightly soft.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Blackberry lemon sweet rolls

Now that I've become busier with the two kids, homework, tantrums and a job; I find myself making dishes and freezing them when I have time to cook.  I love this sweet roll recipe because you can substitute any berry you like and freeze it!  

I've been cooking ahead and freezing all sorts of things like meatballs, lasagna, casseroles, baked french toast, empanadas, croissants, cookies and ground beef.  I assemble them in different size disposable foil pans or plastic freezer bags and reheat for a meal on a weeknight or entertaining guests on the weekend.

You can freeze the blackberry lemon sweet rolls with the dough unrisen or already cooked, iced and reheated.  It will turn out delicious either way or if you can't resist the temptation just eat it right away!

Blackberry Lemon Sweet Rolls Recipe
Barely adapted from Ree Drummond


4 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Canola Oil
2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
8 cups All-purpose Flour
1 cup (additional) All-purpose Four
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 stick Butter
3/4 cups Sugar
2 whole Lemons, Zested
2 cups Fresh Blackberries

1 whole Lemon, Juiced
2 whole Lemons, Zested
3 cups Powdered Sugar
2 cups Whole Milk, Or As Needed
1 dash Salt
3 Tablespoons Melted Butter


For the dough:
Mix milk, 1 cup sugar, and canola oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Heat over medium heat until very warm but not boiling. Remove from heat and allow to cool until warmer than lukewarm but not hot.

Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the liquid, then add in 8 cups flour. Stir gently until totally combined. Mixture will be very wet and sticky. Cover with a tea towel, keep in a draft-free place, and allow to sit for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, add in an additional cup of flour, as well as the salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mix until combined. Refrigerate dough, covered, until you need it. (Refrigerating the dough helps make it easier to handle.)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a large baking dish (or a couple of smaller dishes) generously. you could use a 9x13 or two 9-inch pie pans which is what I did.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted remove from heat.

Divide dough in half. Store one half in the fridge for another batch of these. Turn the other half of the dough onto a floured surface. Roll into a large rectangle, about 30 inches wide by 10 inches deep. Roll as thin as possible! Drizzle melted butter over the dough, using your fingers to spread evenly.

Using your fingers, mix sugar and lemon zest so that it's a nice, light yellow sugar. Sprinkle it all over the butter. Sprinkle the blackberries evenly over the surface.

Beginning at the side furthest from you, roll dough toward you until it’s in the shape of a tight log. Tuck as you go so the roll stays tight. Pinch the edges to seal the seam shut. With a sharp knife, slice into 1/2 thick hick rolls and lay the slices, cut side down, into the buttered baking dishes. 

(You can freeze it from here and then continue the process when you thaw it or you can continue this process and freeze when it is baked and glazed.)

Allow to rise for 20 minutes, then place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until deep golden brown on top.

To make the glaze: Add lemon juice, lemon zest, powdered sugar, milk, and dash of salt in a bowl. Add melted butter and whisk together until smooth. Taste it and add more of whatever it needs.

Remove rolls from oven and drizzle the glaze all over the rolls. Be sure to get it all around the edges and covering the surface so they’ll be nice and moist!  (You can also freeze it at this point and just reheat after it thaws.)

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Lemon Meringue Pie

If you love lemons then this is the pie for you.  Pillowy meringue on top of tart and sweet homemade lemon curd.  The perfect end to any stressful day.

Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe

Basic pie dough for a single-crust pie (see recipe here), rolled into a 12-inch round 1/8 inch thick
8 large eggs
2 cups plus 2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons

Place the dough round in a 9-inch pie dish, fitting it into the bottom and sides. Trim the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under, then flute the edge. Using a fork, pierce the dough all over, then line with aluminum foil and freeze for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F. Place the dough-lined dish on a baking sheet and fill the foil with pie weights. Bake until the dough looks dry and is barely golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Continue baking until the crust is golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes more. Transfer to a rack and cool while you make the filling. Raise the oven temperature to 400°F.

In a bowl, beat 3 of the eggs until blended. Separate the remaining 5 eggs, adding the yolks to the beaten whole eggs and putting the whites in a separate large bowl. Cover the whites and set aside at room temperature. Beat the yolks into the beaten eggs. In another bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and the cornstarch, then whisk in the beaten eggs, the lemon juice and salt. Transfer to a heavy, nonreactive saucepan, place over medium heat and heat until the mixture comes to a full boil, whisking almost constantly. Reduce the heat to low and let bubble for 30 seconds. Be careful not to undercook or overcook the filling or it will separate as it cools. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Strain through a coarse-mesh sieve into a bowl to remove any bits of cooked egg white. Stir in the lemon zest, then pour into the baked crust (the crust can be warm or cool).

Using a handheld mixer on high speed, beat the reserved egg whites until soft peaks form. One tablespoon at a time, beat in the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. sugar, beating until the egg whites become a meringue with stiff, shiny peaks. Using a rubber spatula, spread the meringue evenly over the hot filling, making sure the meringue touches the crust on all sides (to prevent the meringue from shrinking). Swirl the meringue with the spatula to form peaks. Bake until the meringue is browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely before serving, at least 3 hours. Serves 8.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Is it bad that I'm still in vacation mode?  I've been so lazy and sleepy.  It's time to snap back into it! Over the holidays we spend a lot of time with family and make use of the vacation time.  Every year our family has a tradition of going to the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade while sipping hot chocolate and eating homemade cookies.

We bundle up, grab our lawn chairs and try to get a good spot along the parade route.  There are boats of all sizes...small motor boats to huge yachts each lit and decorated to celebrate.  Some have guests on board enjoying loud music and festive snacks.  It's a happy and cozy time of year and we look forward to going with the kids.

Last year I made shortbread dipped in chocolate, which is simply divine also.  A variation to this recipe was my flaky Chocolate Hazelnut Shortbread which you can find here.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti Recipe
Barely Adapted From David Lebovitz

Remember: for best results you should weigh your ingredients.

For the biscotti:
2 cups (280g) flour
3/4 cups (75g) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup (125g) slivered almonds, toasted, chopped
3/4 cups (120g) mini chocolate chips

For the glaze:
1 large egg
2 tablespoons coarse sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F  degrees.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large bowl, beat together the 3 eggs, sugar, and vanilla & almond extracts. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, then mix in the nuts and the chocolate chips until the dough holds together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into two logs the length of the baking sheet. Transfer the logs onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart. Gently flatten the tops of the logs. Beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the logs liberally with the egg. Sprinkle the tops with the coarse or crystal sugar and bake for 25 minutes, until the dough feels firm to the touch.

Remove the cookie dough from the oven and cool 15 minutes. On a cutting board, use a serrated bread knife to diagonally cut the cookies into 1/2-inches slices. Lay the cookies cut side down on baking sheets and return to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies feel mostly firm.

Once baked, cool the cookies completely then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. If you wish, the cookies can be half-dipped in melted chocolate, then cooled until the chocolate hardens.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

A few years ago I took a Sur la Table class called "Take and Bake Pies" for Thanksgiving.  I absolutely loved the recipe for this salted caramel apple pie and you will too!  This is a great recipe to make with kids.  Sometimes as parents we don't realize what our kids are actually capable of doing unless we let them try.  Children also have more desire to try new things if they had a part in making it.

My son had a blast making the leaves, 

peeling the apples, 

mixing the caramel and pouring the mixture into the pie.

And then with the left over dough and apple peels and cores he decided to make a "penguin snowman and his fish".

Salted Caramel Apple Pie Recipe

My Pie Crust Recipe

Salted Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp corn syrup
3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sea salt

Crumble Topping:
1 Cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Apple Pie:
1 pie crust (above)
2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced
2 gala apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
Salted caramel sauce (above)
Crumble topping (above)

For the caramel sauce: in a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water over medium low heat until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. Use the pastry brush to wash down an sugar crystals on the side of the ban to avoid the caramel from crystalizing.  Boil the liquid until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 4 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and carefully whisk in the cream.   The mixture will bubble up furiously.  (Don't panic.) Gently stir in the butter and salt.  To finish, pour the caramel in to a container and allow to cool.

For the crumble topping: combine the dry ingredients and stir to mix well.  Stir in the melted butter and mix to form crumbles.  Set aside.

For the apple pie: preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl combine the sugar and flour and toss with apples.  Pour half of the prepared caramel sauce over the apples and stir well.

Arrange the leaf border after laying down one 9-inch pie crust.  Add the apples to the pie crust and cover with topping.  Use your hands to press down the topping all over the apples evenly, forming a compact crust.  Insert a pairing knife in the center through the topping to allow steam to escape.  (Do not slice the pastry!)

Place the prepared pie onto the hot baking sheet and bake until the pie is brown and the juices are bubbles, about 1-1 1/2 hours.  (If the pie browns too soon, cover it with foil.)  Cool to room temperature, slice, and drizzle with remaining caramel sauce.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Lemon Rosemary Scones

I like baking with whole wheat as much as possible to try and sneak in as many nutrients as I can for myself and for my kids.  Pastry flour lightens the scone a bit but you still need the all purpose flour for the body of the scone.

I was truly inspired by my yard to find a recipe for the abundance of lemons

and rosemary.

Lemon Rosemary Scones Recipe
Barely adapted from Ree Drummond


1 1/2cup All-purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2/3 cups Sugar
5 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
2 sticks (1/2 Pound) Unsalted Butter, Chilled And Cut Into Pieces
1 whole Large Egg
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Finely Minced Fresh Rosemary
Zest Of 1 Lemon

5 cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted
1/2 cup Whole Milk, More If Needed For Thinning
Zest And Juice From 1 Lemon
1 teaspoon Finely Minced Fresh Rosemary
Dash Of Salt
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Mix cream with egg, lemon zest and rosemary and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes to steep.

Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter pieces into the flour. Keep going until mixture resembles crumbs. Mix wet mixture with flour mixture; stir gently with a fork until combined. Mix should be crumbly, but if it's too crumbly to work with, splash in a small amount of heavy cream.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and lightly press it together until it forms a rough rectangle. Use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Use your hands to help with the forming if necessary. Final rectangle should be about 18 inches by about 10 inches.

(This is where my hands got too messy to snap pictures.)

Use a knife to trim into a symmetrical rectangle, then cut the rectangle into 12 symmetrical squares/rectangles. Next, cut each square/rectangle in half diagonally, to form smaller triangles.

Transfer to a parchment or baking mat-lined cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes, removing from the oven just before they start to turn golden. Allow to cool for 15 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.


To make the icing, add lemon zest, lemon juice and rosemary into milk; allow to sit for awhile. Mix powdered sugar with the milk, adding more powdered sugar or milk if necessary to get the consistency the right thickness. Stir or whisk until completely smooth.

One at a time, carefully dunk each cooled scone in the glaze, turning it over if necessary. Transfer to parchment paper or the cooling rack. Allow the glaze to set completely, about an hour. Scones will keep several days if glazed.

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