Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Bowl of Rice Krispies Treats

Ok, so I wouldn't actually start my day with a bowl of rice krispies treats. They really are intended as "treats" and would not be an appropriate meal substitute, although one person in my house might disagree with me. This recipe is based off the classic Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treats, but I've added additional rice krispies and a bit of milk to suit my taste. I find the original recipe too sweet, even for a treat and the milk is a tip I got from other marshmallow treats-makers online to keep the treats gooey after they cool.

I've heard others say that this recipe would also work with other types of cereal, but as for me, I prefer the original because I think you just can't beat the airy crunch of rice krispies. If I had to choose an acceptable variation, I might give chocolate rice krispies a try.* If you'd like, you can add nuts, chocolate chips, etc. to the rice krispies treats at the end. Even with rice krispies, I have to recommend using Kellogg's Rice Krispies, because I just don't think other brands of puffed rice cereal are as hollow and crispy. Of course, I haven't tried all the brands out there, so I am open to recommendations.

When making these rice krispies treats, it is important to melt down your butter and marshmallows slowly so as to not burn it and do not press too hard on the rice krispies treats when putting them in the pan. I try to compact the mixture as little as possible and prefer to leave it rough than smooth because pressing too hard leads to hard and tough rice krispies treats and nothing is worse than that.

*Update: I have just seen a recipe for marshmallow squares using golden grahams cereal, chocolate chips, and melted marshmallows. I feel this would be good since the smores combination is a sure winner, but I wouldn't categorize it as a variation of these treats since they're based on another preexisting treat.

Rice Krispies Treats
Adapted from Kellogg's

1 stick plus two tablespoons unsalted butter(1/2 cup plus two tablespoons)
20 ounces marshmallows, large or mini(2 10 ounce bags)
1 tablespoon milk
14.5 cups rice krispies cereal(1 12-ounce box plus 3 cups, about 17 ounces total)

Melt the butter over low heat in a large pan. Once melted, add the marshmallows and stir with a heatproof spatula. Just before the marshmallows are completely melted, stir in the milk.

Once everything is completely melted and combined, turn off the heat and add the rice krispies cereal. Mix together with the spatula until all the cereal is coated with the marshmallow mixture. Gently press the cereal-marshmallow mixture into a 10.5 by 15 inch baking pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment and let cool.

Once cooled, cut into squares. Store rice krispies treats in an airtight container.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Preeminent Chocolate Chip Cookie


For years, I've been looking for and testing out different chocolate chip cookie recipes and have never found one that I liked. Despite my occasionally snooty preferences for all things homemade, chocolate chip cookies were one of the few things I preferred from bakeries. Like most everyone else, I like my chocolate chip cookies to be crispy on the outside and slightly chewy in the center. While every recipe I've tried has claimed that this is what I can expect, I am inevitably disappointed time and time again. Eventually, I decided to give up making chocolate chip cookies altogether and to just stick with chocolate chip oatmeal cookies or other variations. However, after this recipe, I think I may have to reevaluate my ranking of cookies and move these chocolate chip cookies to the top.

I don't think I have ever been as pleased with a batch of homemade cookies as I was with these, although it is very important that you do not overcook them or else you will not be left with the best chocolate chip cookies ever. I originally saw these cookies on Emily's blog and these cookies have been all over the internet, but the original recipe is a New York Times adaptation of Jacques Torres's famous chocolate chip cookie. Before I did my research, the similarities between Jacques Torres's chocolate chip cookies and this recipe were what drew me in as I had been wanting to try his recipe for a while now. The 36 hour refrigeration period and outstanding reviews also intrigued me as I actually like recipes that seem a bit more complicated, but still doable. I like to challenge, but not torture myself.

Despite the slightly longer list of ingredients, this recipe is actually very easy. I made smaller cookies as opposed to the larger cookies suggested in the recipe and I used chocolate chips *gasp* as opposed to chocolate disks because I didn't have......okay I did have chocolate disks, but just wasn't sure if this cookie would live up to the hype to warrant using my good quality chocolate in it. My younger sister had also requested chocolate chips instead. Regardless, these cookies still turned out amazing and my worries were unfounded. The combination of bread and cake flour really does result in a fantastic crispy/chewy texture.

I highly recommend that you make these cookies very soon, if not immediately following the conclusion of this post if you have not made it before, even if you think you don't like chocolate chip cookies. They are just that good. I have finally found a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. The only thing I worry about now is that any other cookie recipe will be mediocre in comparison to these.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe infinitesimally adapted from The New York Times
Makes about 40 2.5 inch cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8.5 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8.5 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt or 3/4 tsp fine salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
11 ounces chocolate chips or chocolate disks, semisweet or bittersweet
Sea salt, for sprinkling 

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a handheld mixer, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.

On low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Mix in chocolate. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Scoop mounds of dough (whatever size you like) onto the baking sheet.

Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 12-15 minutes for smaller cookies, 18 to 20 minutes for larger cookies. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer cookies onto a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking the next day.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Creamy Silky Chocolate Pie

My sister and I saw this pie on an episode of Cook's Country and thought it sounded pretty good. It seemed quite simple to put together and I liked the fact that the eggs in the recipe were cooked or at least heated to a temp. at which it should be safe to consume. Most chocolate mousse type recipes have raw eggs and while I'm not terribly concerned about consuming raw eggs since they're pasteurized and hopefully fresh, I do prefer taking the cooked egg route when possible.

This pie turned out nicely, it is very similar to a chocolate mousse pie, but not exactly the same. It is a bit firmer than chocolate mousse once it sets up and is rich but light at the same time. It is appropriately named as I did find it quite silky. It all comes together very quickly once your pie shell is prebaked. We will definitely be making this one again.

French Silk Chocolate Pie
Recipe from Cook's Country and Pie Crust from Martha Stewart
Makes one 9 inch pie

1 cup heavy cream, chilled (More, if topping with whipped cream)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Small pinch of salt
2 tablespoons water
8 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
1  9 inch pie shell, baked and cooled (we used this one)

In a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, combine eggs, sugar, and water. With a handheld electric mixer, beat for 7-10 minutes until it thickens and reaches 160 Deg F. Remove from heat, beat for another 8 minutes until almost cooled.

Add chocolate and vanilla extract to egg mixture, beat until incorporated. Beat in butter, pieces at a time until incorporated.

Whip cream at medium high speed in a standing mixer with whisk attachment or with handheld mixer until stiff peaks, do not overwhip. I like to finish whisking by hand to ensure not overmixing. Fold whipped cream into chocolate-egg mixture until no white streaks remain.

Scrape filling into pie shell and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Top with more whipped cream if desired.