Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mocha Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows

Although it is February the winter winds are still howling here.  In fact it seems as if they will never end. Today will be another day filled with snow and cold, not to mention bone chilling wind chills. Although I would love to stay inside that is not going to be an option today. 

But a nice mug of cocoa will be a warm welcome when I return.

Mocha Hot Chocolate

1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 cup instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup of water

3  cups of milk
1 cup of half and half



Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan, except milk and half and half. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly until cocoa is dissolved and the mixture is a paste. Slowly add the milk and half and half, whisking until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan, do not boil. Pour into glasses and top with marshmallows. 


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Valentine Peanut Butter Heart Thumbprint Cookies

Valentine's day is all about love and what better way to show someone that you love them than baking a sweet treat for them?

These soft, buttery cookies with a peanut butter cup center are a perfect way to celebrate the people you love. 

Peanut Butter Heart Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies


2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons of butter softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 cups of flour
1 scant cup of cornstarch, not a full cup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
20 Hershey's Kisses or Reese's Peanut Butter Hearts


In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment cream together 2 sticks of butter and sugar. In a separate bowl sift together flour and cornstarch add salt and stir. Add the dry ingredients and the vanilla to the bowl and mix on high speed until combined, if mixture seems crumbly add extra tablespoons of butter.

Form dough into a ball and wrap with plastic, then refrigerate for minimum 20 minutes or overnight. 

Preheat oven to 325, line baking sheets with parchment paper. Form dough into balls and place on baking sheet 1 inch apart. Then use either your thumb or a glass to flatten cookie. Bake cookie for 15-20 minuets or until golden around the edges. I recommend checking after 10 minutes and then keeping an eye on them. Remove cookies from oven and let sit for one minute. Then place an unwrapped kiss or peanut butter heart in the center. Cool and enjoy.

Note: I was not paying attention and my cookies browned more than I wanted around the edges. 

Have a Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jacques Torres The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

I LOVE chocolate chip cookies! Each time I make them or eat then hot from the oven I am transported back  to so many special days baking in the kitchen with my mom and my siblings. The chocolate chip cookies of my childhood were Toll House and don;t get me wrong I enjoy them tremendously but am always looking for something new and different. These cookies fit the bill, after all they were invented by "Mr. Chocolate" Jacques Torres

First let me warn you that if you are the kind of person that is looking for instant gratification from a recipe this is not the one for you, unless your gratification comes from eating the raw dough. I do not recommend that but I will not lie to you I probably eat as much of the raw dough as I do the cookies.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie EVER
Recipe adapted from Jacques Torres

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
12/3 cup bread flour
11/4 teaspoon baking soda
11/4 teaspoons baking powder
11/2 teaspoon course salt
21/2 sticks of softened butter
11/4 cup of light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla bean paste
11/4 lbs of chocolate chunks(I used 60% Ghiradelli and Guittard mixed)

Sea salt for garnish

In a medium bowl combine the flours, baking soda, baking soda and salt, whisk well and then set aside. 

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Then add eggs one at a time mixing well after each one. Add vanilla bean paste and mix well. Reduce speed of the mixer to low and carefully add the dry ingredients, mix until just combined about 10 -15 seconds. DO not turn the mixer on high you will have flour everywhere. Mix in the chocolate chips then refrigerate the dough for 24-36 hours. 

When ready to bake remove bowl from refrigerator and let sit for a few minutes to soften the dough a bit. Preheat oven to 350, line baking sheet with a Silphat or parchment paper. Set aside. Scoop  out dough into golf ball sized mounds and space evenly on baking sheet, sprinkle each with sea salt. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown but still soft. DO NOT OVER BAKE. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and then remove from pan and cool on a rack.

NOTE: I baked mine at 375 for 10-12 minutes because I was impatient and they came out fabulous!

These cookies are crunchy on the outside with a toffee like base, gooey on the inside and scrumptious! I have made them 3 times this week and given them to friends who all declared them to be "the best cookie ever."