April. Wow. It’s already April, and the past year has been a blur. The move to grad school, meeting my newest nephew (he’s the most gorgeous baby ever – I’m not biased, really), getting acclimated to MIT and Boston, meeting some of the best friends anyone could ask for. I’m not sure how so much love and learning have squeezed themselves into such a short year, but alas, here we are. Boston’s weather is holding to the expected ‘April showers,’ and I can think of nothing better to break up the gloom than some ooey-gooey, break-your-heart, phenomenal chocolate chip cookies.
Honestly, what more could I possibly say than “Chocolate Chip Cookies”? This is the holy grail of baking. It’s a simple, amazing dish with the power to win over even the harshest critics. BUT, and this is a big but, only if you can get them right. There are so many recipes out there claiming to be the best and, believe me, I’ve tried most of them. Many of them are great in their own way; many of them are disappointing. Each person has their own “perfect” version of chocolate chip cookies – crispy, chocolatey, gooey, crunchy – there is something about them that can send you into a tailspin of delicious nostalgia.
For me, the best chocolate chip cookie has to have the just-right crispiness on the outside, combined with a soft, but not too chewy inside. It has to stay the right texture, and have that certain “something” to the flavor that so many recipes lack. But I find that chocolate chip cookies are VERY sensitive to changes in the recipe. So, I tested. And I tested some more. And, then, I tested some more. Each round of testing has been given to friends, family members, really whoever I could find (to make the sacrifice of eating a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie). Folks, we have a winner here. The recipe is a simple one, but oh so delicious. The secret is in the steps, and a few key ingredients. Do the steps in order, and buy the right ingredients. That’s it.
At the risk of being way too early for this, I honestly can’t help myself. Today was our first cool morning of the year, the first vestige of the oncoming Fall season. Oh, I know. You’re not ready for summer to be over yet, please Damaris, don’t talk about it. Oh, but I can’t help it! My heart is swelling with the thought of smoky air and a kaleidoscopic world of multicolor leaves. To think that I will soon be able to decorate the house with glass pumpkins and cute scarecrows, to know that our Fall vegetables will bloom in the garden… it is magical. So, here is my daring entrance into the Fall season, even though it seems the rest of the world is not quite as fond of it as I am.
My husband and I have been making an effort in the last year to continue our course toward habitually eating well. Mind you, I refuse to put anything in my mouth that I will not absolutely relish. I am a mere 5’2″ and I just don’t have the calories to waste. Here is one of my favorite creations – the Trickster Treat Double Chocolate Muffins. Why “Trickster,” you ask? Well, if I could ask you to make this recipe blindfolded, try it, and then tell me what you thought was in it – boy, would you be tricked. To prevent some major potential fire hazards, I’ll just spoil the trick.
This recipe has no oil, no butter, and is made with whole wheat flour, flax seed meal, and bran flakes. I promise – one of these, and you will be full for a good, long while. But here’s the real trick – these are tastier than a lot of the regular chocolate muffins I’ve had. You’re welcome.
You know, I never thought the first official entry to this blog would happen on a bus. But here we are, as the trees and mountains speed by along both sides of me, I am thinking about cake. Not just any cake, though. This cake has been a source of frustration and hope for me since I was little. It might even be fair to say this was one reason I ever started baking. You need background, you say? Well, you asked for it. I grew up frustrated with “cake-makers” in general. I never liked cake. I never thought I liked cake. Until, of course, the day I had my first homemade cake.
One particularly irksome issue was cakes that were titled “Oreo Cake” or “Cookies and Cream Cake.” There was never anything “Cookies and Cream” about them. I felt lied to. The promises of crunchy, chocolatey, and creamy were all empty! I have, as a result, been on a lifelong mission to bring some kind of happy resolution to this issue. So, recently, I sat down and developed this beauty of a cake, aptly named “Real White Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cake.”
The promises of chocolatey, crunchy, gooey deliciousness are blissfully fulfilled in this cake. The batters are a combination of the best, thickest, most satisfyingly creamy white chocolate and deep, dark chocolate batters around, with an abundance of Oreo cookies, white chocolate chunks, and dark chocolate chunks. And, if that is not enough to set your chocolate-loving tastebuds in a frenzy, it is filled and topped with a wonderfully creamy white chocolate cookie ganache. Are you in heaven yet? I am. Be warned, this recipe is not for the faint-hearted! Note the *subtle* lack of a prep/cooking time. But it is oh, so, worth it!