Ultrathin chocolate chunk cookies

(Ultrathin chocolate chunk cookie)

I enjoy government functions like I enjoy getting kicked in the nuggets with a steel toed boot. But this hotel always served bacon wrapped shrimp. That’s my number one favorite food wrapped around my number three favorite food.

— Ron Swanson, Parks and Recreation.

Two full days of gloom and rain has left me no choice but to give myself guilt-free permission to do nothing more strenuous than curl up on the couch for a whole afternoon, watching Parks and Recreation, and contemplating life’s big questions. Such as, can man live on cookies alone. And if so, why so many of us sing the praises of chubby, soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies when the wider family of chocolate cookies has much more to offer.

I first encountered ultra thin chocolate cookies like these at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. We’d bought a selection of baked treats, which due to a prior visit to Humphrey Slocombe on the opposite side of the street, meant I only got a chance to devour much later in our hotel room (after walking off the excesses of the day).

A single bite of the ultra crisp, deeply chocolate cookie filled me with so much regret. Regret that I hadn’t bought more and that I wouldn’t have time to return to the bakery either.

With great thanks to Alice Medrich however, I stumbled upon this recipe several months ago and am happy to report that the end result very closely resembles the magical cookie I first tasted. These crispy chocolate chunk cookies are my number one favourite food encased in my number one favourite texture. Worth every last shattered crumb and chocolate smear that may displease the couch you’re curled up on.

Ultrathin Chocolate Chunk Cookies :
(recipe from Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy by Alice Medrich)

6 ounces/170g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 sticks/140g unsalted butter, melted
1.5 ounces/42g quick rolled oats
3.5 ounces/95g granulated sugar
1.75 ounce/50g dark brown sugar
2 ounces/55g light corn syrup
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 ounces/200g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

Combine the flour and baking soda in a small bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, oats, sugars, corn syrup, milk, and salt. Mix in the flour mixture. If the batter is warm from the butter, let it cool before adding the chocolate. Stir in the chocolate chunks. If possible, let the dough rest for at least several hours at room temperature or (better still) overnight in the fridge. The rest makes for an especially crisp and extra-flavourful cookie!

Preheat the oven to 325’F/160’C. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces. Lay out 3 sheets of aluminium foil, cut to fit your cookie sheets, on the counter. Arrange 5 pieces of dough well apart on each sheet of foil, remembering that the cookies will spread to 5 inches. Flatten each piece of dough until it is about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Slide two of the sheets onto baking sheets.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cookies are thin and very brown. If they are too pale, they will not be crisp. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Slide the foil with cookies onto racks to cool completely before removing the cookies from the foil. Repeat with the third batch – you can even slide the next foil and cookie dough onto a hot baking sheet as long as you put the pan in the oven immediately. Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing. May be kept in an airtight container for at least 3 days.

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Cocoa Bark with potato chips and cheese

(Cocoa bark with potato chips and cheese)

Apparently we have a ban on cheesy 80’s music in our house. Wish he’d mentioned it before we agreed to move in together. Or perhaps you never truly know someone until you start living with them and discover their little quirks. Such as belting out Whitney Houston classics into a hair brush or eating ice-cream at midnight. That would be me, guilty on both counts.

I’ve discovered many interesting aspects about the boy over the years. Some things being more surprising than others. He :

-Has the annoying tendency to return from business trips with nothing but a load of laundry.
-Is very brand specific about his breakfast cereal and toothpaste.
-Doesn’t put toilet seat down.
-Needs regular feeding or will get grumpy and complain about feeling weak.
-Needs dessert (this last point actually works quite well in both our favours).

Forget chalk and cheese. We’re like chocolate and cheese. Seemingly disparate but surprisingly not such a bad combination.

Which is why when Alice Medrich described these tuiles being “as addictive as potato chips”, I somehow managed to put 2 + 2 = 5 and decided what was needed to garnish these tuiles were some crushed potato chips and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Potentially a bad idea in theory, but the salty potato chips and hint of cheese worked well together to enhance the texture and flavour of the chocolate wafers. These are also good dipped in caramel sauce.

If your stomach turns at the thought of chips and chocolate, make the tuiles with a different garnish, or dispense with the garnish altogether and enjoy them as they are. They have a lovely snap and true to Alice Medrich’s word, they are very addictive. The entire batch I made was gone in no time, because we kept reaching for just one more wafer.

So 2 + 2 = 5 = 0? Bad math, great snack.

Cocoa Bark :
(from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich)

4 tablespoons butter, melted and still very warm
100g sugar
20g natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder, sieved after measuring
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon plain flour

Preheat the oven to 175’C. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, cocoa and salt. Whisk in the egg whites. Add the flour and whisk only until combined. Let rest for at least 10 minutes or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

To bake, use an offset spatula to spread half the batter onto each of two cookie sheets lined with silicone mats. Each sheet of batter should be about 9 by 13 inches wide and less than 1/8 inch thick. [Sprinkle each sheet with your topping of choice. I used crushed potato chips and grated cheese. You can even use nuts or crushed peppermint candies as suggested by the author]

Bake each sheet for 11 to 13 minutes until the batter turns a faintly darker shade of brown. Rotate the pan from back to front halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Cool completely on a rack before breaking the cookie into random shards.

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Honey Quinoa Bars

(Honey Quinoa Bars)

Floods and heat waves aside, the year has started pretty well for me personally. In fact there’s almost nothing to complain about unless I need to vent over lacking any material that requires a grumble or two to be lodged on this blog.

I’m loving my new job and have been able to spend marginally more time with the bf. Plus one of my closest friends recently moved across the road and my brother is on the brink of tying the knot with his long-term girlfriend, hence a big family reunion is in the works. In terms of social math, this equates to feeble forays into reviving a near-extinct social life.

So unless butter and egg supplies dwindle, and my physiotherapist moves to New Zealand (oh wait, she did), it appears as though I have nothing to write about!

I’ve been experiencing a health food store kick recently. Mind you, it’s not quite the same thing as being on a health kick, because that would probably mean having to eschew these lovely sweet and chewy bars. A recent visit yielded some interesting ingredients including puffed quinoa and amaranth, black tahini and coconut butter which I used in a Babycakes NYC recipe (more on that in a future post). The puffed quinoa went into some honey bars that we enjoyed as breakfast and midnight snacks for the rest of the week..

The honey quinoa bars started life as..

Honey Hemp Bars :
(from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich)

24g puffed rice or millet cereal [I used puffed quinoa]
66g hemp seeds
53g pecan or walnut halves, medium-finely chopped
2 tablespoons black (or white or tan) sesame seeds
47g raw pumpkin seeds [I used sunflower seeds]
2 teaspoons flax meal (ground flaxseed)
2 tablespoons dried currants [I used wolfberries/goji berries]
140g honey
1 tablespoon date paste or mashed dates
rounded 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 150’C.

In a large bowl, toss the cereal, hemp seeds, nuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax meal, and currants to mix.

In a small saucepan, warm the honey, date paste, salt, and vanilla, stirring and mashing until the date paste is dissolved and/or evenly dispersed. Pour the honey mixture over the dry ingredients and fold until all of the ingredients are moistened and sticky. It may seem at first that there is not enough honey, just continue to fold.

Scrape the mixture into an 8 inch square pan (greased and lined with baking paper) and spread it evenly with a fork. Using the back of the fork tines, press the mixture very firmly all over to compact and adhere the ingredients.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is barely golden (if in doubt, take it out so that the honey does not get scorched). Cool in the pan on a rack. Lift the ends of the baking paper to remove the bars from the pan. Gently peel off the paper. Use a heavy sharp knife to cut bars or squares. May be kept in an airtight container for 2 weeks or more.

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