Friday, June 27, 2014

and I'm back: salted chocolate chunk cookies

April, May, June almost all passed by during my blog hiatus.  So many thoughts unwritten, so many recipes tried and undocumented but the end of my lulu run and the beginning of my resumed position as relocation coordinator and a few technical difficulties necessitated a break from blogging.  Our very clean and very loved house is on the market just waiting for the one right family to come through the door.  Greg is happily busy in his new job as Vice President of WAVE spending most of his time at his plant in Shanghai and adjusting to the 24/7 life of working on the other side of the planet.  His email to our actual paid relocation coordinator describing his adjustment as "drinking from a fire house" fairly sums that up.  We're both very excited about all the possibilities over the next three years on our international assignment in Sydney, but we're both experiencing all the emotions that leaving much of of the good life we've spent 30 years building behind will stir up.  Today I told him we'll just make that life portable.

This is my first post on my very first laptop, a beautiful MacBook Air,  which should be super exciting for you too, because it means I can post while watching Wimbledon (doing that now, c'mon Venus), porch sitting with wine (that could be a whole new interesting twist) and from wherever I might be over the next months and years.   Bear with me as I have yet to accomplish the big data transfer that will save my iMac and enable me to open iPhoto again without fear.  Photos might be a bit scarce for a bit.  My IT department, aka Sara, and I are contemplating updating the look of blueskiesandlime.com and possibly migrating over to the visually superior WordPress format.  Possibilities.....

Last night some of my awesome tennis team mates came over after our match and we hung out in the kitchen eating snacks and drinking wine.  I have no one else to feed right now, so I brought out this and that for everyone to try and eventually busted out the Cuisinart and did a little demo on white chocolate pretzel peanut butter making.  I really need to teach cooking classes some day, for now please just enjoy the 263 food posts here and feel free to shoot me questions.  I had one bag of salted chocolate chunk cookies left in the freezer and everyone wanted the recipe so this is where we will start.  This post was sitting in the draft file just waiting for me to come back.

Sara was home for three weeks so you know there was baking going on.  Hands down, the best new recipe was from Bon Appetit for salted chocolate chunk cookies.  Even Tammy, who makes her famously good chocolate chip cookies, wanted the recipe.  High praise, indeed.  I was out of brown sugar (well, not out but somehow got some moisture in my canister and all my brown sugar turned into a cylindrical brick) plus I kept forgetting to put it on my shopping list in "notes" on my phone (and we all know that nothing happens if it isn't written down, nothing) so we used turbinado sugar.  That probably gave the cookies a little extra texture since it doesn't cream down like superfine or brown sugar.  Note there are three different sugars in this cookie.  I've only ever used powdered sugar in our Christmas cookie dough.  Seems to work nicely here.  I did have both dark and milk chocolate in my pantry and it was the good stuff: Callebaut from France via Whole Foods.  WF sells nice big chunks of Callebaut chocolate for $7.99 a pound.  Buy some.  And of course I had Maldon salt flakes to finish the cookies.  If you don't want to commit to a whole $10 little box of salt, come over and I'll give you a little bit of my stash.  Probably not moving the salt to Australia.  This recipe just makes 24 cookies which is probably a good thing.  Enough to share and enough to get your fill, but if it made 5-dozen you would have to freeze them or hide them because you would inevitably eat them all.


Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 C unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 C turbinado sugar or packed light brown sugar
1/2 C sugar (I use superfine)
1/4 C powdered sugar
2 egg yolks (save the whites for meringues or an egg-white omelet)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
8 ounces semisweet, dark or milk chocolate coarsely chopped
Maldon or other flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Whisk flour, baking powder, kosher salt and baking soda in a medium bowl, set aside.  Cream together the butter, turbinado/brown sugar, sugar and powdered sugar until light and fluffy (3 minutes or so).  Add egg yolks, egg and vanilla and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy (4-5 minutes), occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture (or you'll have a flour dust storm) and mix just until blended.  Fold in the chopped chocolate by hand with a spatula.

Scoop out rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing the cookies about 1-inch apart.  Our dough was very soft, but the cookies turned out fine.   Lightly sprinkle the tops of the cookies with the flaky sea salt.  Bake until just golden around the edges, rotating the sheets about  halfway through, about 10-12 minutes.  The cookies will firm up as they cool.  Cool for a couple of minutes on the sheets then transfer to wire racks to ostensibly cool completely, but I know you are going to eat a few while they are hot.  Why else do you bake?  (Answer, to eat the dough which is why you may only end up with 20 cookies instead of 24).

Note that I made this again using all the various sugars and the cookies were still delightful, just a little pale compared to the first batch where I was out of white sugar.  Since I baked just for me, I divided the cookies into quart ziploc bags of 4 or 5 cookies and stuck them in the freezer.  I pull one out every now and then and eat it basically frozen and this is a darn fine cookie cold.


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