Friday, March 29, 2013

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've got a double whammy of trouble: it's passover, and I'm on the road. As if it's not hard enough to eat on the road (some of those coffee shop pastries are amazing!), to be dietarily restricted? Yikes! I can't imagine having to do this year-round!

Before I left (and before Passover), I made these delightful triple-chocolate chip cookies. And, honestly,  they're all I can think about right now. I know they're at home, in Minnesota, in the freezer, waiting for me...

These come together quickly and easily. They're rich, dark, and pair beautifully with a glass of almond milk. Use the best chocolate you can-- treat yourself. You'll be glad you did.

And for those other members of the tribe, I'm sorry! I had to share these... let's make them together as soon as this whole mishigas is over, okay?

Triple-Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from Flour

1/3 cup dark cocoa (I used Hershey's special dark)
1/2 cup each dark, milk, and white chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp instant espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350.

In a stand mixer, cream together butter, cocoa, and sugar. Add in eggs and vanilla one at a time, beating well in between. In a separate bowl, combine other dry ingredients, and add in mixture slowly, beating well between each addition. Fold in chocolate chips, and allow dough to rest two hours to let the chocolate flavor develop (sounds silly, but true!).

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, or until tops start to crack. Cool for one minute on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Muffins

For some odd reason, I always associate spring weekend mornings with brunch. I love winter, but the best part of winter is that transition period to spring, with more light... and farmer's markets opening to inspire health(ier) cooking.

However, there is still snow on the ground, so I still am craving sweet, dense, and chocolatey.

I used to make Biqsuick-based coffee cakes when I was in grade school on weekend mornings for my family loaded with crumb topping and chocolate chips-- they never lasted one day. These coffee cake muffins are a nod to those wonderful memories, with a little portion control thrown in.

Not that that stopped me from eating three in one sitting, though! (I can use half-marathon training to justify anything!)

These are also based on a recipe from Flour bakery in Boston (yep, still obsessed with that cookbook!), except Joanna Chang's doesn't include chocolate. She doesn't know what she's missing.

So roll out of bed, enjoy the sunshine, and get to it!

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Muffins

Inspired by Flour

For the streusel:
3 tbsp packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
4 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature

For the cake:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.

To make the streusel, combine all dry ingredients in a bowl. Using your hands, work in the butter until crumbly. Set aside.

For the cake, use a stand mixer with paddle attachment. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and granulated sugar together. Add butter a few pieces at a time and beat until butter is well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until well mixed. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the butter mixture. Increase mixer speed and blend until batter is fluffy. Slow down speed and add chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups halfway with batter; sprinkle in a thin layer of streusel, and top with more batter until 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown, and serve warm and gooey on a Sunday morning!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Eating Vegas: (Running away from) The Heart Attack Grille

While walking around Freemont street, we stumbled across the Heart Attack Grill. The name says it all...

While the signage was hilarious, I could not wait to take pictures and run away. Really fast.

At least this place is honest about how bad their food is for you.

Sin City-- definitely a city of excess! I'll stick to pounding my calories at Bouchon!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Eating Vegas: Bouchon Bakery

True or false: dinner last night was leftovers from Las Vegas that I smuggled back on the plane last weekend.

True. Totally, 100%, undeniably, shamefully true. But when the leftovers were from Bouchon Bakery, I couldn't just leave them behind, now, could I?

Yup-- another dream come true. Since I know I will never be able to save up enough to eat at the French Laundry, I'll "settle" for Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery.

Since it was St. Patrick's Day weekend, many of the treats had gone green!


So many gorgeous, buttery, lovely choices! I didn't know where to start... so I asked the gentleman serving me what he would order if he could only order one thing (jerky question, I know, but I went there).

 His instant answer, no hesitation? The kouign amann, a flaky, croissant-like pastry dough folded and baked up in a muffin tin with a crunchy, carmelized sugar coating. It was pleasantly flaky and cloud-like, and the sugar crunch was great, but I've never been a huge fan of croissants. If I'm going to eat something buttery, I'd rather it have a bit more substance.

I'm pretty sure that the person serving me there thought I was bonkers for ordering so many things for myself... First up was the carrot cake cookie, two dense, almost muffintop-like cookies with cream cheese filling between. Heaven! And absolutely perfect on the carrot cake flavor (I hate when carrot cake is too saccharine-- believe it or not, I actually want to taste the carrot).

Finally, since it was St. Patty's day, I had to get something green. I went with the TKO, which is Thomas Keller's fancified oreo. Honestly, I may never be able to eat another Oreo again... The cookie was fabulous, the white chocolate (well, green chocolate) ganache TO DIE FOR. And I'm normally one who scrapes the cream out of oreos and eats only the cookies. 

Only bummer was that it melted a little in the heat, but that's butter for ya!

Totally inspiring visit-- will definitely have to check out his cookbook and try my hand at these cookies!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Eating Vegas: Border Grill

Last week, I took a trip to Vegas for a vacation. A real vacation-- as in, no laptop, no reading anything relevant to my research, nothing. Just walking up and down the strip, lying by the pool, reading a novel (!!!), and... eating.

Entire days were planned around where we were going to eat. Really. It was incredible.

We found my deli! (lines were out the door, though, so I didn't get to eat anything there. Womp Womp).

But the highlight for me was eating an incredible meal at Border Grill-- home of the Too Hot Tamales (whom I grew up watching cook on the Food Network. Talk about two awesome ladies!)

Eating here was a childhood dream come true.

Yes. I was a strange child. Don't judge.

I was so excited to be eating there that I babbled to the incredibly sweet hostess, Melanie (first-name basis now!) about how much I loved Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken. Much to my surprise, Melanie had the kitchen send out free appetizers for us, including their signature empanada (delish!) and the quinoa fritters that Mary Sue won a Top Chef Masters competition with!

The fritters were to die for. I don't use that phrase lightly, promise. I'm going to try and see if I can come up with my own knock-off to share with you soon... suffice it to say, I didn't know you could get quinoa that crunchy! Or flavorful!

Melanie also sent out the house guacamole. Note that there's no pico in it-- apparently that's a no-no in the Too Hot Tamale books. It was seriously creamy, and had just a whisper of lime-- not like the guac that I make at home, that hits you over the head with it (i.e., I need to learn to make better guacamole).

The three salsas and house chips were also spot-on. I'm pretty sure I ate my weight in them before I even ordered.

Then, a pescatarian sin was committed... Kobe beef tacos. My eyes rolled back in my head, they were so good. Taco-gasm, for sure. The tortillas were fresh-made, and were the best I have ever had.

Finally, I couldn't decide on dessert... so two were ordered. The brownie sundae was fine (brownies weren't quite as decadent and dark as some that I've had/made, but were still fudgy), but the mexican chocolate cream pie was inspirational. That's the only word for it. Cinnamon, semisweet chocolate, an oreo crust... keep an eye out for my knockoff recipe soon!

Clearly, the way to my heart is through the Border Grille... sorry, boys. Next on my list-- Susan's Street Food restaurant!!!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lemony Blueberry Scones

Last weekend, my parents came to visit! I felt like a giddy eight year old getting to spend time with them and getting spoiled rotten with eating out. We hit all of my favorite restaurants, and I ate my weight in sweet potato fries.

On Friday morning, we headed up to the cities, and swung by Caribou Coffee on the way out. Unfortunately, they were out of blueberry scones-- my mom's favorite. The nerve!

Lucky for me, I'm an early riser, so I decided to return the favor and try to treat my folks with these fresh lemon blueberry scones. I just bought the cookbook from the famous Flour bakery in Boston (hoping to visit it this summer!), and was drooling over the currant scones; adapting the recipe to treat my mom seemed perfect (especially since she's from the Boston area!)

These scones are not like the ones you get at chain coffee places; they aren't saccharine, but are mildy sweet and crumbly. We sat in my living room, chatted, and sipped iced coffee (despite the snow still on the ground outside). The absolute perfect morning!

Lemony Blueberry Scones

Inspired by Flour

2/3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
3 tbsp lemon zest
3/4 cup frozen blueberries, thawed and rinsed
1 egg
1/2 cup almond milk
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
2 tbsp additional granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.

Using a stand mixer, combine dry ingredients until just mixed. Add in butter and beat until crumbly.

Whisk together the egg, yogurt, and almond milk. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the mixture in and combine until a loose dough. Remove the bowl, use your hands to knead the rest of the dough together. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and pat into a disc. Cut into wedges (I made two discs, and cut 12 mini scones).

Place scones on greased baking sheet. Brush with the egg yolk, top with sugar, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately with a piping hot cup of coffee.