Sea Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

My son loves chocolate chip cookies, so I am perpetually in search of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. He likes these cookies, but I love them. The touch of salt is a perfect foil to the plentiful chocolate. This wonderful recipe is from Savory Sweet Life.

The first time you try this recipe, it is important to watch the cookies carefully as they bake – they are so much better if you can get them out of the oven before they brown too much.  Don’t be distressed when their appearance changes while they cool. They will crackle more as they fall slightly and will look a touch gooey at first.

Try not to eat all of them in one sitting and do share!

Sea Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies - A Pat & A Pinch

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1½ cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2¾ cups (12 oz) all-purpose flour (If possible, weigh the flour)

¾ tsp. smallish-medium coarse sea salt (do not substitute with table salt)

1 tsp. baking soda

1½ tsp. baking powder (make sure it is fresh)

2¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 360 degrees.

Mix the baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour in a bowl.

Cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a mixer until it is fluffy (approx. 3 minutes on medium-high speed). Add the eggs and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes until the colour lightens and the texture becomes almost icing like.

Add the flour mixture beating until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Finally add chocolate chips until well distributed. The cookie batter should be somewhat thick. Chill the batter for at least 30 minutes.

Drop about 2 tablespoons of dough or use a medium cookie scoop and plop the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are nice and golden brown. Remove from heat and allow the cookies to stay on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper with the cookies still on top and transfer to a cool non-porous surface. Allow the cookies to cool on the paper for at least 3 minutes before serving.

Nancy’s Apple Torte

Nancy's Apple Torte - A Pat & A Pinch

This recipe comes via my New York based Aunt who, in turn, got it from her sister Nancy. The torte comes together quite easily and is perfect for a dinner party.

Having just read J. Kenji López-Alt’s thoughtful study and discussion of the best apples for apple pie on Serious Eats, I chose to use Golden Delicious apples rather than the McIntosh apples suggested in the original recipe. I was really pleased with the texture and consistency of the apples when the pie had baked.  I have also seen a similar recipe that suggested Granny Smith apples.  I think there is quite a bit of flexibility in your apple choice.

The recipe doesn’t specify whether to use sliced blanched almonds or unblanched almonds. I chose the latter as I wanted the extra colour. I was glad I did.  The torte would look rather pallid in the absence of the touch of colour that the glimpses of almond skin contribute.

Nancy's Apple Torte - A Pat & A Pinch

Crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces

1 large egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

1 large egg

8 oz. cream cheese

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:

4 cups peeled and sliced Golden Delicious apples

1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400 F.  To prepare crust, pulse flour, almonds, sugar and salt in a food processor, using about 10 one-second pulses, until combined.  With the motor running, add butter, a few pieces at a time.  Add egg yolk and vanilla and process until evenly combined (Mixture will look like wet sand).   Pat the crust into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and about 1-inch up the sides.

To prepare filling, wipe out the food processor.  Add egg, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla; process until smooth.  Spread into the crust.

To prepare topping, toss apples, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and combine.  Spoon over the filling, pressing gently.  Top with almonds.

Bake the torte for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 F.  Continue baking until set around the edges, and just a bit jiggly in the center, 20 to 25 minutes more.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the pan sides and let cool completely, about 1 hour.  Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours, before serving.  Serves 10.

Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Cookies

My son needed some cookies for his school lunches and I really wanted to make something a little new for a change. With pumpkin season upon us, he has been keen to roast pumpkin seeds, so I thought the addition of pumpkin seeds to a chocolate chip cookie might fit the bill. I came across a recipe for Seeded Chocolate Chip Cookies by Martha Rose Schulman at the New York Times, and adapted it to what I was looking for.

Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love the result; the pumpkin seeds add a lovely crunch to the texture of the cookies, the oatmeal is scant enough that they are not like an oatmeal cookie but still have the benefit in their texture, and there is a lot of chocolate for my little chocolate lover. With my scoop, I got two dozen cookies from this recipe. Next time, I might double the recipe!

Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Cookies

6 tablespoons/48 grams whole-wheat flour

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds*

½ cup/65 grams all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon/2 grams baking soda

½ cup (1 stick)/ 115 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature

¼ cup/50 grams granulated sugar

½ cup/80 grams packed light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla/5 milliliters

¼ cup/100 grams pumpkin seeds

½ cup (scant)/50 grams rolled oats

½ teaspoon coarsely ground sea salt

1 cup/225 grams chocolate chips (or more if desired)

* If you don’t have flax seeds on hand, you can substitute with an equivalent amount of whole-wheat flour, hemp hearts, or wheat germ.

Heat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit with racks adjusted to the lower third and middle of the oven if your oven is large enough to take 2 sheets at a time. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir the flours, ground flax seed and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

In bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until lemony yellow, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl and paddle. Add the sugars. Continue creaming mixture on medium speed until it is lump free, about 1 minute. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of the bowl and the paddle.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. Scrape down sides of the bowl and paddle.

On low speed, add sifted flour mixture. Beat slowly until all of the flour mixture is incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add the seeds, oats, chocolate chips and salt and mix in.

Spoon dough by heaped tablespoons or a scoop at least 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake 9 to 14 minutes, depending on your oven, until lightly browned, turning the baking sheets from front to back halfway through the baking. If you cook two sheets at the same time, also rotate them from top to bottom and vice versa.

Remove from oven and slide parchment off the baking sheet and onto a work surface. Allow cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, or for at least 20 minutes before storing in an airtight container.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Decadence

My son began first grade this week and I wanted to celebrate with a new treat for his lunch box.  Chocolate is a favourite of his and cookie dough is a highly prized item in his food choices, so these bars seemed like the perfect idea. They are adapted from a contribution to The Food Recipe Critic that was, in turn, adapted the recipe from Lifes Simple Measures, the major difference being that these are nut-free.

These bars were a huge hit, even with my dad who began as a sceptic, but they won’t be going in any lunch boxes as they wouldn’t survive the ordeals that lunchbox items must be prepared to endure.

I was a little concerned that the dough might be too soft, so I was careful about the amount of sweetened condensed milk that I added. In the end, I chose not to scrape out the can of condensed milk, leaving a good tablespoon in the can. Even at that, the dough is quite soft when not fully chilled. Consequently, I wouldn’t serve these bars on a hot day when they had to sit out of the fridge for any time.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Decadence - A Pat & A Pinch

In Canada, sweetened condensed milk comes in 300ml cans.  This is roughly 10 oz in size. Not wanting to have part of a can of condensed milk left over, I adjusted the following amounts by 7/10ths and used a loaf pan approximately 9×5 inches in size. The adjusted amounts are in parentheses.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Decadence

½ c. unsalted butter, softened (5 3/5 tbsp)

¾ c. packed light brown sugar (8 tbsp + 1 tsp)

1 tsp. vanilla extract (I like vanilla, so I used a light tsp)

2 c. all purpose flour (1 c. + 6 tbsp. + 1 tsp.)

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk ( 1 300 ml. can)

2 c. mini chocolate chips (1 c. + 6 tbsp. + 1 tsp.)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (½ c. + 3 tbsp.)

1 tbsp. cream (2 tsp)

1 1/2 tsp. butter (1 generous tsp.)

Line an 8×8 inch pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until it is fluffy. This takes about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and beat until combined.

Turn the mixer to low and alternate the flour and the sweetened condensed milk until combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.

Press the cookie dough into the bottom of the 8×8 pan. It will be sticky so lightly flour your hands if needed.

Cover your bars with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight until firm.

To make the topping, combine the cup of chocolate chips, the cream and the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds and stir. Repeat as needed to obtain a smooth consistency but be very careful to not overheat the chocolate or it will become stiff and grainy. Pour and spread over the top of the chilled dough and chill at least for 1 hour until firm.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Decadence - A Pat & A Pinch

Spiced Apple Butter

Spiced Apple Butter - A Pat & A Pinch

My parents live on a property that has the remnants of an old orchard.  The apple trees are larger than ideal and you can tell that they have witnessed a lot of history but they still produce apples.  This weekend the Gravensteins were ready to be picked. Gravensteins are a tasty eating apple, but they aren’t any good for pies. With a bumper crop, they needed to be used and what better solution than apple butter.

Choose a day when you can be home all day to make apple butter: It takes a long time to cook! Mine cooked all day – a good 12 hours in total but I think that that was largely due to the volume I made which necessitated starting it on the cooktop and then shifting it to the oven. It needs to be stirred regularly, but other than the stirring it requires little attention. If I was making a smaller batch, I would simply use the oven or a crock pot – it is so much less effort and requires so much less attention!

I can’t give you a specific recipe for apple butter – it depends on what type(s) of apples you have and how many of them you have.  The good news, however, is that you really don’t need a recipe.

I peeled, sliced  and cored my apples using a peeling and coring gizmo like this.  It yields a spiral sliced apple that I then cut into quarters.  If you have a food mill, you can slice your apples whole with peel and then run the cooked mixture through the mill, but I find beginning with prepared apples easier.

I filled a heavy bottomed 17 litre stock pot to within 2 inches of the top with the apples and added 2 litres of some soft apple cider from a previous year’s bounty that we keep frozen until needed. You could also simply start with a little water or commercial apple juice. I put the pot on low on the cooktop and began to let it cook. The fruit broke down into an applesauce quite quickly.  Gravensteins do break down easily but if you have an apple that doesn’t, you can easily break it down with an immersion blender or with a food mill.

I added spices to taste: my choices were cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and some ground ginger.  For my first batch, I used whole spices tied up in cheese cloth and then supplemented with ground spices.  For the second batch, I went straight to the ground spices. Remember that the apples are going to be reduced by at least half, so the spices you add will concentrate.  You can always add more spices later in the process if you find that you would like more.

As the fruit cooked down, I tasted it for sweetness and added brown sugar to my taste. Again, it is important to remember that the apples will reduce, so be careful not to over sweeten.

When my mixture had reduced by about half, I put it into two uncovered dutch ovens which I placed in a 250 degree F oven.  I continued to cook down the mixture, but in the oven it only needed to be stirred hourly.

The apple butter is done when it is very thick. You can almost slice the mixture and it will retain the “cut”.  By the time it reaches this consistency it is a lovely rich reddish brown colour.

I poured the hot mixture into hot canning jars, filling them to within a quarter inch of the top. I then quickly placed the lids on top.  All of the jars sealed without the need for an additional canning process.

My son loves this on pancakes, but I use it liberally on anything and everything that lends itself well to jam.

Spiced Apple Butter - A Pat & A Pinch

Blackberry & King Apple Crumble

My parent’s home on Salt Spring Island has a small orchard and is, like much of the island, surrounded by blackberry bushes. The blackberries are perfect for the picking this time of the year and this year, our gravenstein trees are ready to harvest. While the gravensteins aren’t the best for baking with, we keep a supply of apples from our old King apple. (This year for fathers’ day, I got my dad a new one which I have since named B.B. King – these are his favourite and I thought the name was rather clever). The other trees in the orchard are great for cider and should be ready to harvest within the next month.

We have a mechanism which cores and slices the apples as you turn the crank and which gets a lot of use this time of year (apple butter to come). If you are preparing a lot of apples, these are a godsend. To preserve our extra apples, we then freeze the cored and sliced apples for crumbles to come.

This crumble (or crisp as you may wish to call it) is a slightly modified version of Betty Crocker’s Apple Crisp recipe, the main modification being blackberries.

Blackberry and King Apple Crumble - A Pat & A Pinch

Blackberry and King Apple Crumble

3 cups sliced apples (we use king apples for their perfect tartness and texture)

5 cups blackberries

3 tbsp corn starch

1 1/2 c. brown sugar

1 c. flour

1 c. oats

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (fresh – if you want to know if your nutmegs are fresh enough, prick them with a pin and oil ought to ooze out)

2/3 c. butter

1 c. chopped pecans

Preheat the over to 375 F. Fill a greased 9 x 13 inch glass dish with the fruit. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the fruit. Mix together the sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and work the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers.  Mix in the pecans and spread this crumb mixture gently over the fruit.

Bake until the top is golden brown, the apples are tender, and the fruit mixture is bubbling (approx. 40 minutes). If the top begins too brown too much before the fruit is cooked, gently lay a piece of parchment over the pan to slow the browning.

Blackberry and King Apple Crumble - A Pat & A Pinch