‘GROWNUP’ CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

I recently visited a bakery.  A brand-new, just-opened, homey, woman-owned and operated bakery right in the center of town.  Everything should have worked.  Was there a part of me that was just a wee bit envious?  Absolutely.  I won’t deny that.  So what did I do?  I ordered one of everything.  Yup!  One frosted brownie, one macaron of each flavor, one cupcake of each flavor, one chocolate chip cookie, one sandwich cookie … on and on.  Looking for inspiration, unique flavor combinations, whatever, I justified this outrageous purchase as “research”.

My partner-in-crime and I (no, I wasn’t going to eat all of this myself) took our treasure trove of goodies outside to the nearest bench and dove in head first.  What???  Everything was terrible.  For the first time in my life, I have to say I’ve never had bad bakery goodies …. ever!!  Until today!  (No, I’m not going to tell you the name of the bakery.)  I was sooooooo disappointed.  What should have been a belt-loosening, belly groaning sugar high, was just a grimace and a groan.

What just happened?  And, now what do I do?  Do I go back and tell the bakery staff their stuff is sickly sweet, flavorless and has the mouth feel of cold vegetable shortening?   Or do I just toss everything into the bin and say nothing.  Part of me says the owner/baker should know.  If it were my bakery, I’d want to know.  But I didn’t.  What I did do was to come home and bake a batch of “good” chocolate chip cookies.  I hope you like them.  And, if you don’t, PLEASE let me know!!!

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GROWNUP CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Why do I call them”grownup?  Because they are very rich, but aren’t overly sweet.  I use bittersweet, high cacao content chips, not semi-sweet or milk.  You can certainly use whichever you prefer.

Bake 350° for 10 to 13 minutes.  Don’t overbake!  Makes as many cookies as you want, depending upon the size.

1 cup(2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 10 oz. pkg. 60% cacao chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer), beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.  Then add the vanilla and beaten eggs.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, oats, baking soda and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  You can use a big wooden spoon, or, if you are like me, you just switched out the paddle on your stand mixer to the bread one.

Add the chocolate chips and the walnuts to the batter.  Mixing well.  If you don’t like nuts, leave them out, and add more chocolate chips.  They’re your cookies.

On parchment-lined baking sheets, drop spoonfuls of dough (or with an ice cream scoop).  The size is up to you.  Larger ones will take another minute or two to bake, but PUHLEEZE don’t overbake these cookies.  They need to be a bit soft in the middle and gooey!

After spooning the dough onto the baking trays, dip the bottom of a drinking glass into flour and press onto each ball of dough.  You want to flatten them slightly.  If you are making these ahead, you can chill the trays at this point, if you like, up to four hours.

Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes … again, depending upon the size.  If you want small, “adult-sized” so that you can eat three or four and not feel guilty, fine.  And, if you want one big “two hander”, go for it!  Just remember …. underdone is best!


These ultra-rich, dense, gooey chocolaty nutty cookies should make you smile.  If they don’t, please contact me.

Your welcome!
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Whitby Lemon Buns

To set the mood for our upcoming U.K. trip (and because it’s a cold, rainy night … and because I LOVE lemon anything …) I decided to make Whitby Lemon Buns.  Lemons are so-o-o popular in British foods.  From lemonade to candied lemon peel, every part of the lemon is used or preserved. In baking, lemon curd is made by the gallon and is used in pies, tarts, buns and to spread on everything from toast to scones.

Lemons and their cousin, limes, originated in southeast Asia and were brought back to the U.K. along with all the other exotic and interesting spices now so very popular, including, of course,  “tea“. These citrus fruits were life saving for sailors and miners because they were known to prevent “scurvy”, a deadly disease which results from a deficiency in Vitamin C.

In the 1600’s, the East India Company published a handbook for use on its ships describing “scurvy” as a dietary deficiency and recommended a “cure” of “fresh food or, if not available, oranges, lemons, limes and tamarinds”.  Scurvy was such a problem for the English Navy, it  actually killed more sailors than the enemies did.  By the 1700’s, the Navy decreed “a fixed amount of lemon juice should be issued daily to all sailors after their fifth or sixth week afloat“.  Are you familiar with the term “limey“, well I think you now know where that nickname originated.

So now that we’ve learned why these small citrus fruits are so popular, I think it’s time to do some baking.

These “buns” or sweet rolls are believed to have originated in Whitby, a small seaside town on the east coast of England.  To be authentic, these buns should have a lemon curd filling.  I, on the other hand, decided to make my own candied lemon peel and added that instead.  I must say these are absolutely perfect … not too sweet, a hint of lemony goodness and the added touch of candied peel gives it  just a bit of lemony crunch.  Let me know what you think.

WHITBY LEMON BUNS

  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon (1/2 for dough – 1/2 for glaze)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit or candied lemon peel … OR
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd*
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • lemon juice

 In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, sugar and lemon zest.  In a small bowl warm the milk slightly (microwave is fine) and add the butter.  Stir until melted.

Mix the yeast with the warm water and one tablespoon sugar, then let it stand until it gets all frothy.  When this has happened, add this mixture to the dry ingredients.  Then add the milk mixture, the beaten egg and juice of one lemon.  Mix well.  This should be a soft dough.  Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.  Knead in the dried fruits or candied lemon peel.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turn the dough over and over to make sure the dough is oiled as well.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.

 When the dough has doubled in size and is ready (it will hold a depressed fingerprint) tip it out onto your pastry board.

Roll the dough into a long roll and cut into 12 to 16 evenly sized pieces.

*If you are filling the rolls with lemon curd, roll each ball out flat with a rolling pin, place a small spoonful of lemon curd in the middle and then shape into a ball.  Pull tightly and make sure the bottom is sealed.

 If not using lemon curd, just roll each ball tightly and then place all the dough balls in a parchment lined baking tray.  They should just touch each other.

Cover again and let rise in a warm place for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in size again.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Brush the tops of the buns with beaten egg white and then bake for 12-15 mins or until the buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.


Make a simple glaze by mixing 1 cup confectioners sugar with the rest of the lemon juice.  Let the buns cool for a few minutes and then drizzle the glaze over.

Put the kettle on and Enjoy!

 

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CANDIED LEMON PEEL

  • lemons
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup or cane sugar syrup
  • water

Remove the peel from the lemon(s).  Then with a s poon, remove as much of the pith as possible. Slice the peel into long, thin julienne strips.  Place the lemon strips into a small saucepan and just cover with water.  Bring to a boil.

Dump the boiling water out and replace with more water.  Bring to a boil again. Repeat at least four times.  This is the only way to remove the bitterness from the peel.  Drain the peel on a paper towel.

In the small saucepan add 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons corn syrup or cane syrup. Bring to a boil, add the lemon peel and let it slowly boil until the peel is translucent.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the pan to prevent sugar crystals from forming.

With a slotted spoon, take the peel out and put onto a sheet of waxed paper to cool.  This is extremely hot and shouldn’t be touched until it is completely cool.  When cool, put the candied peel into your recipe, or put into a tightly covered jar.  Should keep very well.

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References:   Food in 18th Century England,  Wikipedia,