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sugar plum

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  1. My first two recipes in this bake-off were the Neiman Marcus vs. Alton Brown's “Chewy” chocolate chip cookies. The Neiman Marcus: …and Alton’s “Chewy”: In my opinion the Alton Brown recipe wasn't as greasy as others have said; however, they also weren’t as chewy as he claims. I feel that the Neiman Marcus had an unfair advantage with the extra grated chocolate in its recipe. The blended oats did give it that chewiness that Alton's bread flour did not. I didn't like the extra "puffiness" that the Neiman Marcus cookie had (thanks be to the baking powder). If I had to pick between these two cookie recipes and nothing else, I'd go with the Neiman Marcus minus the baking powder and grated chocolate (what a pain to do!). Alton’s was good but not great. Probably no different than the average chocolate chip cookie recipe. Definitely not worth going out and buying bread flour every time I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies (not a flour I keep around the house). I think I’m going to try the pudding and CI chocolate chip cookie recipes next.
  2. Yes, I noticed that right away...only a 1/2 cup of fat in the whole recipe. Wonder if that's why they are called chewy?? I'd like to say I'd try them but right now up up to me eyeballs in chocolate chip cookie recipes! Onto the Alton Brown bread flour debate, I found this on the internet: http://www.goodeatsfanpage.com/Season3/Coo...eTranscript.htm I didn't realize he had such a following. Anways, if you scroll down you'll see this explanation for the bread flour as well as other ingredients that add to his cookie's chewiness: "...The water from the melted butter will combine during agitation with the higher protein of the bread flour therefore producing gluten ... which is chewy. Also, since bread flour can absorb much more liquid than all purpose flour, more moisture will stay in the cookie." and "...Add the now melted butter to the mixing bowl and add a quarter cup of white sugar and a quarter cup of brown sugar plus a whole cup of brown sugar. And I should mention that, the darker the sugar you use the chewier the cookies are going to be. Why?...Brown sugar is coated in molasses....Molasses loves moisture. By increasing the amount of brown sugar the finished cookies are guaranteed to attract H2O from the air keeping them moist and chewy!" finally "...It's got to do with egg whites. You see, egg whites dry out baked goods. That's kind of what they do. And a chewy cookie has got to be moist. So not only are we going to get rid of one egg white, we're actually going to add an ounce, two tablespoons, of milk and of course our teaspoon and a half of vanilla. As soon as that is integrated, we can go with the dry stuff." I'm baking his cookie dough tonight. I've read in this thread that others have found it greasy. I'm hoping I don't have the same result. Greasy is not what I'm looking for in an ultimate chocolate chip cookie!
  3. I'll stop after this, I promise! I just remembered that someone in a post in this thread mentioned Martha's chocolate chip cookie bake-off. I searched her site and found this: http://www.marthastewart.com/portal/site/m...sc=taxonomylist Hopefully, this link works. Jacques uses bread and pastry flour with his recipe. I might have to bake this cookie just to see if it makes a big difference.
  4. For those of you that are interested, I thought I would provide a link for all the purely chocolate chip cookie recipes (i.e. butter/flour-oats/sugar base with chips and sometimes nuts added in) mentioned throughout this thread so you could compare for yourselves: Unbelievably Good Chocolate Chunk Cookies http://wordstoeatby.blogspot.com/2004/12/b...ip-cookies.html Neiman Marcus Cookies (possibly!) http://www.snopes.com/business/consumer/cookie.asp Mrs. Field's Cookies (I'm not sure if this link is going to work or not for you) http://www.topsecretrecipes.com/recipedeta...yes&id=69&page= ...if not just go to www.topsecretrecipes.com and search for it. Nestle Toll House Cookies http://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/detail.aspx?ID=18476 Tyler Florence Big, Fat Cookies http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/re...6_22207,00.html Alton Brown's The Chewy http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/re...6_13617,00.html Amanda Hesser's Cookies http://wednesdaychef.typepad.com/the_wedne...a_hessers_.html The Pudding Recipe: http://recipes.egullet.org/recipes/r242.html Tejon's Cookies: http://recipes.egullet.org/recipes/r1976.html I can PM someone if they want Dorie's and the CI's recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookies. Whew! I think I got them all?
  5. As far as I can remember, yes, the instructions are all pretty similar. The only thing that changes a bit is the baking temperature which fluctuated between 325-375 degrees. I believe most had a baking time of ~10-16 minutes. I think it depends on the author's decision on how many cookies he/she wanted their recipe to make. Smaller cookies=lower baking temperature/time. Just my guess. I find the whole baking time/temperature that an author gives in their recipe a suggestion anyways. I always lower the oven temperature from what the recipe says and keep a close eye on them. The Unbelievably Good Chocolate Chip cookie recipe just seemed to have halved the recipe I mentioned in the previous post. Today, I'm going to try to make the dough for Alton's chewy and the Neiman Marcus cookie. I'll report back soon. As an aside, Kerry, I'm really having fun with these bake-offs. Thanks so much for getting them started for us!
  6. These were the last chocolate chip cookies that I made. They're from Dorie Greenspan's latest baking book: I tried this bake-off on my own ~2 years ago and got pretty much no where with my search for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe...except sick of chocolate chip cookies! Through that process, I did realize that I'm a purist when it comes to the chocolate chip cookie. I believe it should be the usual butter/sugar/egg/flour base with chocolate chips added in. No nuts, no dried fruit, no cocoa/chocolate cookie batter. I decided this morning to compare a few of the mentioned recipes. It appears as though the Unbelievably Good Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Amanda Hesser's Flat-and-Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mrs.Field's Chocolate Chip Cookies, Tyler Florence's Chocolate Chip Cookies and Dorie's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies all appear to be a variation (i.e. +/- a Tbsp of this or a 1/2 cup of that) on the following list of ingredients: 2 cups all purpose flour 1 tsp baking soda (some also add 1 tsp of baking powder) 1 tsp salt 1 cup unsalted butter ~1.5-2 cups of some sugar combination (either half white and half brown or something in between) 2 eggs ~1 tsp vanilla extract (some add up to 1 Tbsp) 1-2 cups of chocolate chips/chunks Having made Dorie's and feeling that this is probably pretty representative of the above recipe and variations thereof, I embark to try the others: Alton Brown's Chewy, the Pudding cookie and the mythical Neiman Marcus cookie recipe. I'll probably try Tejon's recipe as well. If I'm not totally chocolate chip cookie'd out, I may bake off the CI's version as well. Quickly reading the CI's recipe instructions, I'm confused already! Does it make that much difference in the cookie's texture to rip and rotate 90 degrees?! Did anyone else notice that the Neiman Marcus recipe that's on their website is not the same one that's circulating the web? Looky here: http://www.neimanmarcus.com/store/service/...ie_recipe.jhtml vs. http://www.snopes.com/business/consumer/cookie.asp
  7. Thanks Kerry for the clarification. As an aside, has anyone seen the cover of the August issue of Canadian Living? It's a date square with a blueberry filling instead! Brillant idea, eh? See here: http://www.canadianliving.com/CanadianLivi...y/ThisMonth.asp It looks so delicious. I'd love to get this recipe but I'm too cheap to buy the magazine. Anyone have it? This is from Anna and Michael Olson's "Cook At Home" cookbook. I've changed the wording somewhat from the published version to adhere to the rules: Date Shortbread Squares For Date "goo": 2 cups pitted dates 1 Tbsp unsalted butter 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest 1 tsp cinnamon 3/4 cup water For Shortbread: 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1/2 cup sugar 4 Tbsp cornstarch 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled 1 tsp vanilla For the date "goo", place dates, butter, lemon zest, cinnamon and water in a medium sized saucepan and bring to boil. Let boil for a few minutes and then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Place mixture in food processor and whizz until of smoother consistency (not total mush...some date lumps are good) and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, sift flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter and vanilla until mixture has a crumbly texture. Press two-thirds of the crumble into the bottom of an 8" square pan lined with parchment. Spread date mixture over pressed shortbread and sprinkle with remaining shortbread evenly over date mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes until top of crumble turns very light brown (mine never did!).
  8. Lindacakes, I'll PM you with the recipe. I always get a bit confused with copyright laws. Am I allowed to post a recipe if I credit it's author?
  9. Okay, this is it...no more date squares or variations of there of for me for quite some time. Here's my final attempt at this bake-off, Anna Olson's "Date Shortbread Squares": She adds lemon zest and cinnamon to her date filling and I have to say this combination is extremely yummy! Great flavour and not overly sweet. I really enjoyed this version of the square despite the absence of oats. I will be definately making these again and again.
  10. Well, I tried Anna Olson's recipe yesterday. Here they are: The consensus around our household is that the Schmecks version was better. Anna's called for orange zest. A tad too much in our opinion. Anna's filling wasn't as substantial as Edna's either. What I did like about Anna's version was that it didn't contain any sugar in it's filling so it wasn't as sweet. From all this date square baking, I've come up with my own version of the ultimate date square recipe: DATE FILLING 1 pound of pitted dates (or I think it works out to be ~3 cups worth of dates) 1 cup of water 1 tsp vanilla 2 tsp grated orange zest (optional) In a medium saucepan, add water to dates and cook until soft (not dry just so the dates are so hard anymore). Cool, add vanilla and optional zest. Place mixture in food processor and whizz until of smoother consistency (do not completely puree). OAT CRUST 1 cup unsalted butter 1 cup brown sugar 1 1/2 cups flour 1 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats Cream butter and sugar; add flour, baking soda and salt that have been sifted and mixed together. Finally add the oats. Pat half of the crust mixture into the bottom of a 9" pan that has been greased and lined with parchment paper. Spread the date filling over this crust mixture. Cover with the remaining oats mixture. Bake in a 350 degree oven for ~40 mins. I thought I was done with this bake-off when last night I found one more date square recipe I'm willing to try. I'm pretty much date squared-out but this one is the shortbread version that someone else had mentioned in a previous post. This recipe is called "Date Shortbread Squares" and it's found in Anna & Michael Olson Cook at Home. I'm out of dates though...this one will have to wait until my next trip to the grocery store!
  11. Finally, here it is, the "Schmecks" Date Square: I'll try Anna Olson's recipe tomorrow night and report back. You can find it here: http://www.foodtv.ca/recipes/recipedetails.aspx?dishid=3990
  12. Well, image Gullet or whatever it's called is not cooperating this evening so I'll delay my picture of the "Schmecks" date square until another time. Overall I found the filling of this recipe much too sweet for my liking. Staebler's recipe also got me to thinking that the ultimate date square must have the proper ratio of filling to cookie layers. Too much filling is not as tasty in my opinion. It starts to taste more like date paste than a yummy square. I don't know why I haven't made these before. It's such an easy recipe to make!
  13. I searched through my baking books and found only two recipes for date squares. Both are from Canadian cookbooks. I'm trying the first from Staebler's "Food That Really Schmecks" this afternoon. I'll take a picture when they are "sliceable" and post my results online. As a first-time baker (but many time eater) of date squares, I would have to say I prefer a rolled oats over a shortbread base. It's adds to the square's structure and flavour to have the oats in there. Unlike Kerry, I love my date squares sweet. Staebler's recipe has a cup of brown sugar in it's base PLUS a 1/2 cup of white sugar in it's filling. The other recipe I have (by Anna Olson) doesn't use any extra sugar in its date filling. If anyone else is going to attempt the Staebler recipe, don't do what I did. Edna doesn't seem to ever indicate what size of pan one should use so I guessed at an 8" square pan. Wrong! I should have probably used a 9" pan instead. I found a few other online recipe sources for date squares for those of you that are interested: http://www.domesticgoddess.ca/recipes.php?recipe=10142 http://www.joyofbaking.com/DateSquares.html
  14. Another few I would recommend would be: "The Great Canadian Food Show's cookbook" by Chris Knight http://www.knight-tv.com/shopping2003.htm (from the show's producers' website) http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Great-...ris+Knight' "Great Canadian Cookies, Bars & Squares" by Sheila Peacock and Jennifer Abrams http://www.douglas-mcintyre.com/book_details.asp?b=796 The latter is filled with recipes for Canadian classics like Nanaimo bars, Hellow Dollies and Butter Tart squares.
  15. decorated lobster statues, they are everywhere! What variation on this theme does your city have? In Vancouver, we have/had orcas...I was just asking my SO what Ottawa's theme and it escapes me (where we both lived before Vancouver). Maybe a moose? Or did I spot that in Toronto?
  16. I have been given two Silpats (as gifts) and rarely use them. Found they didn't work as well as parchment paper. I'd be curious to hear if others have had the same results as us?! Or are we in the minority?
  17. I was trying to recall what our first meals were together and all I could come up with was a number of restaurants. I think why we didn't cook for each other was because we both lived with roommates so if we cooked for our partner....we cooked for the whole house! I don't remember what I made for him but he made me a vegetarian lasagna. He also attempted to bake me a cake for my birthday and it turned out to be a whipped cream mess! He now knows to leave the baking to me.
  18. I made a batch of Nigella Lawson's Snow-Flecked Brownies today. The last time I baked a similar recipe to this--her Triple Chocolate Brownies--I think I must of used a smaller pan (7"x11") thus...thicker Brownies with a longer baking time. Oh well, they were still as tasty. The "flecks" are chunks of white chocolate.
  19. This thread reminded me of my all-time favourite Brownie recipe. I, in fact, stumbled upon it just recently while watching the lovely Nigella Lawson on Food TV Canada at Christmas time. It's her "Triple Chocolate Brownies" featured on her chocolate episode. They are exactly what I love...rich, dense, chocolatey and absolutely nut-free. They have chunks of chocolate in them which, in my opinion, just adds to the decadence of this Brownie. She also has a very similar recipe called "Snowflecked Brownies" from Feast. I forgot why I hadn't made them since December and then I looked at the recipe again. It calls for 12 oz of bittersweet PLUS another cup of white chocolate chips and semisweet chocolate chips (in December, I just used all semisweet). It's an expensive recipe!
  20. Brix Restaurant in Yaletown also does weddings: http://www.brixvancouver.com/inside/weddings/weddings.html Good luck with your planning!
  21. My sister went when she was visiting us last month. She said it was very "child-orientated and boring". She also felt that the chocolate sample given at the end was too small. A co-worker of mine said that her roommate went and came back with, "well that's $16 I'll never get back." Doesn't sound too promising, does it?
  22. Oh my gosh, it IS exactly the same! I just had to check on the Hershey's website to make sure. Thank you David for the raw egg yolk information. I didn't miss their "unctuousness" and will probably continue to avoid putting them in my frosting recipes.
  23. I just made Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake from her latest cookbook for a co-worker's birthday. Great recipe by the way. Made for a simple, moist, oh-so-chocolate-y cake. Yum! Her recipe for chocolate frosting included a raw egg yolk...which I omitted as I'm not keen on eating them (we work with a few pregnant staff members too). I thought it tasted fine without the egg yolk and don't really understand why it's needed in the recipe? I've never seen a raw egg yolk in icing/frosting recipes before. This isn't a recipe where it's cooked through the process (i.e. Italian buttercream, etc.) it was just added with the flavourings of vanilla and coffee. Is an egg yolk there just to add to the frosting's richness?
  24. I'm a HUGE fan of Sweet Obsession's chocolate ganache cake: http://www.sweetobsessioncakes.com/home.html
  25. Emmalish, I've made both recipes and I preferred the black and white banana loaf over the cocoa-nana loaf. If you have 4 bananas, I'd try the classic banana bundt cake....that was, by far, my favourite banana recipe by Dorie.
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