Tag Archives: ice cream

Three Cookies

 

I find making cookies to be immensely satisfying. Not only is dough doable in 20 minutes, but the the ingredients they call for rarely requires a trip to the supermarket and they’re ready to go after a mere 10 min in the oven! Over the past couple weeks, I’ve taken a few recipes for test drives. Here are my results:

No. 1: Ghirardelli Milk-Chocolate-Chip Cookies

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I rarely cook with any chocolate other than bittersweet. But with a couple bags of milk chocolate chips in the freezer, I thought, why not?

Although the cookies on their own were nothing special, they turned out to be exceptional ice cream vehicles. A chocolate chip cookie eaten on its own must to be jam-packed with chocolate in to be delicious in my book. However, add a little vanilla (or better yet, hokey pokey!) ice cream to mix, and they become otherworldly. These cookies are chewy, but at the same time just stiff enough to hold their own against a sandwiched scoop of melty ice cream.

You can find the recipe here. My only advice: add extra vanilla, chocolate, and pecans, while decreasing the white sugar by at least a quarter cup.

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No. 2: Donna Hay’s (Relatively Healthy) Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Let me be frank. Never, ever, use a chocolate chip cookie recipe that calls for oil instead of butter. In theory, these cookies sound great. No butter, a limited quantity of sugar, some of the flour replaced with oats. In reality, if you’re going to bake cookies, make the real thing, not some sort of facsimile.

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The dough looked great, but even at that stage it seemed like something was off. The taste wasn’t quite right. When the cookies came out, they were cute-looking and bite sized, but lacked that essential cookie chewiness, not to mention that gooey chocolatey, buttery, flavor. I should probably hedge this by conceding that I did not use high quality chocolate for this batch, as it was another attempt to deplete my freezer full of chocolate. Nonetheless, even the dough itself was unsatisfactory. When it comes down to good old chocolate chip cookies, the Joy of Cooking recipe is the way to go.

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No. 3: Peanut Butter Blossoms

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A couple days ago, I was twiddling my thumbs looking for something to bake, when I ran across a bag of mini hershey’s kisses stashed away at the bottom of a drawer. Turning the package over, I found the directions for peanut butter blossoms, one of my all time favorite cookies. Tweaking the recipe to suit my taste (and the contents of my fridge), I baked my third batch of cookies in two weeks. These cookies were sensational. Nutty, sweet, chewy, and of course chocolatey, they were perfect. Here is my take on peanut butter blossoms. Enjoy!

Recipe: Peanut Butter Blossoms

Adapted from Hershey’s

You’ll need…

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (plus extra for rolling)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp nonfat milk
  • 1-1/2 cups flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • at least a tbsp of vanilla extract
  • Hershey’s kisses–full sized or mini

1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF).

2. Beat together the butter and peanut butter. Add the sugars, followed by the egg, milk, and vanilla. Slowly add in the flour, salt, and baking soda.

3. Roll the dough into 1-in sized balls. (They will expand quite a bit so keeping the size small is key.) Roll each dough ball in white sugar to coat it. Place them on a cookie sheet, leaving plenty of space.

4. Press kisses into the tops of each cookie–one if they’re normal sized, three if they’re mini.

5. Bake for 9-10 min. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for at least 5 min before transferring.

(Note: the photograph above does not display a full batch of cookies. You can expect to make roughly 45 from this recipe.)

 

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Cows Ice Cream

Whenever my family finds itself at Whistler, we make a point of going to Cows. Cows is a small Canadian ice cream company that makes insanely good frozen treats, as well as tremendously funny bovine paraphernalia.

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They even make their own waffle cones right in store.

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Inside the shop, everything in sight is cow-themed, including the menu.

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It was a tough decision, but I finally decided on Moo Henry. Chocolate and oozing toffee, plus chunks of fudge and a few peanuts? Mmm!

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My mother opted for Wowie Cowie and Chocolate Monster… in one of those freshly cooked ice cream vessels.

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Remember how I mentioned bovine merch? How could I resist? Although ‘Gangnam Cow’ and ‘Moomoolemon’ were tempting, ultimately ‘keep calm and graze on’ was the winner.

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Hinamatsuri Ice Cream

Today is March 3. Here in Japan, it is hinamatsuri, or Girls’ Day, a festival to celebrate girls and pray for their health and happiness. As with any traditional holiday, hinamatsuri has special foods and decorations. Customarily, one sets out elaborate dolls of the emperor, the empress, and the court in Heian period garb and munches on a sweet, colorful puffed rice snack called hina-arare. Baskin Robbins had its own take.

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Baskin Robbins is selling Girls’ Day themed ice cream treats. As per hinamatsuri custom, today, March 3, is the last day for these goodies. (It is considered unlucky to display hina dolls past the actual festival.)

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For the ice cream traditionalists, there is a sort of hinamatsuri sundae complete with cake cubes and a cookie depicting a cute little emperor and empress.

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For the more adventurous, there is this set of palatable hina-ningyo, or hina dolls. The first two tiers of the hina-dan, or doll platform, have been recreated in an edible incarnation. Only in Japan!

 

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Oatmeal Caramelitas

A couple weeks ago, my mother and I were perusing the chocolate aisle at one of our local supermarkets carrying when we came across something that had long eluded Tokyo stores, or at least our notice, which seems less likely considering our attention to detail when it comes to sweets, let alone those built for baking. What we found were caramel candies. Naturally, we bought two bags on the spot. You never know when you’re going to want 2 lb of caramels.

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Now, I am usually in favor of trying recipes that call for a homemade caramel, but Brown Eyed Baker, one of my go-to baking sites had a couple über appealing recipes requiring pre-made candies. Reading through her formula for Oatmeal Caramelitas, I knew I had to sample them. A layer of crumbly oatmeal crust, topped with chocolate chips, pecans, and caramel sauce, then decked out with an additional layer of crust. What’s not to love?

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This is a very simple recipe and Brown Eyed Baker explains it flawlessly. It calls for a fair amount of butter so I reduced it. Mistake. Don’t. My bars were decadent and delicious, but the crust could have been less dry and a little more cohesive. Follow Brown Eyed Baker’s instructions. She knows what she’s talking about.

I do have two suggestions, however.

  1. Use high quality chocolate. It’s one of the main ingredients. If you use hershey’s, trust me, you’ll taste it.
  2. Ice cream. Don’t get me wrong, these bars are delectable. But sweet. VERY sweet. (As you can imagine, give all of that chocolate and caramel.) A nice not-to-sugary vanilla will cut that flavor just enough, not to mention taste delicious with warm, melty bars right out of the oven.

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Cicada Sisters’ Date

Cicada is one of the few restaurants that comes to mind where every course is sensational: the appetizers, the mains, and, of course, the desserts. Located in Omotesando, it serves exceptional mediterranean-inspired cuisine.

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Cicada used to be a fairly regular weekend haunt for my family, but since it relocated a few months, we had had difficultly getting a reservation. A couple weekends ago, we finally got a table. Nothing had changed. The food was absolutely perfect and just as we had remembered it. The same night, my sister and I reserved a table for the dinner the next week.

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Every time we go to Cicada, we order exactly the same thing. Why? It’s so extraordinary that we couldn’t possibly forfeit a chance to taste it.

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To start, we ordered Cicada Sangrias, delicious concoctions of red wine, orange juice, and ginger ale. I rarely opt for any cocktail other than a kir royale, but this one is to die for.

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As for appetizers, there is only one way to go. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, by this point you’ve probably realized that I am a major hummus enthusiast. Well, Cicada’s recipe may be the best I’ve ever tried. It’s a strong statement, I know. But trust me, the combination of flavors, the slight sourness of the lemon, the nuttiness of the chickpeas and tahini, and the perfectly smooth consistency is unmatched.

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A carefully crafted bite of crispy pita, a kalamata olive, and a spoonful of hummus is utterly heavenly.

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Here, you have our main dish: snapper with rosemary, potatoes, and black olives. There are no words.

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In preparation for dessert, my sister and I shared one appetizer and one main. Our waitress kept asking us if we were hungry and if we wanted more food. She was clearly oblivious to our meticulously designed eating strategy.

As we poured over the menu, just to be sure that our regular choices were the right ones, we came very close to stepping outside the box. We toyed with the idea of Torta della Nonna with Pistachio Gelato and debated the pros and cons of Rice Pudding with Glazed Apples. But, in the end, our old favorites prevailed. We were far from disappointed.

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Pistachio Crème Brûlée. This pudding is wonderfully nutty and is served in a thin layer so that every bite has a touch of burnt sugary goodness.

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Super Rich Warm Valrhona 70% Cacao Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ice Cream. The melding of textures, temperatures, and tastes is sensational. No further comment necessary.

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Like every meal I’ve had here, this one was memorable. Good food, great company.

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Cookie Bowls

This weekend, I was trolling around the internet looking for desert ideas for a nice home-cooked meal when I ran across some luscious looking cookie bowls. I read through a few recipes, but most seemed to be either sugar-cookie bowls or chocolate chip ones made with margarine. Ich. I wanted something chocolate, without compromising flavor. So, I opted for my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe of all the time: the classic Joy of Cooking model.

Cookie Bowls

First, I made the batter just as I would have for normal cookies, decreasing the butter a little to make the dough a little stiffer and thus more likely to hold a bowl-like shape.

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I did not, however, lessen the amount of chocolate. A full cup went into this dough.

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Next, I rolled my dough, that is, what was left of it, into a log and set in the freezer to toughen up a bit. Cookies are good, but dough is better. With my sister and mother circling the bowl like vultures, a good chunk of it definitely disappeared during transfer.

Ok… maybe I had something to do with that too…

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A few hours later, out came the log. It was time to experiment. As dictated by some of the recipes I found online, I took out a cupcake tray, turned it upside down, and covered a few of the molds with tin foil. I then molded cookie dough over these mound… and promptly consumed the remaining morsels.

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When the bowls came out, the results were, shall we say, interesting.

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Oozing over the baking sheet, they almost looked alive.

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Some of them were not as bowl-ish as I would have hoped.

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Others actually came out pretty well, although I have to admit that taking the foil off them was a real effort.

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Recipe:

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • vanilla!

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

2. Mix the flour and baking soda.

3. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add both sugars.

4. Next, beat in the egg, salt, and vanilla, followed by the flour mixture and chocolate chips. (For the record, lessening the chocolate chips might make the cookie bowls hold up better – not a compromise I was willing to make.)

5. Turn a muffin tin upside down on a cookie sheet and cover 5 or 6 of the metal mounds with tin foil.

6. Mold cookie dough onto the mounds.

7. Cook. Start with 12 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through. I generally undercook cookies because I like them doughier and chewier. In this case, however, cooking them for longer will yield more bowl-like cookies. Cook them until golden brown.

8. Let the bowls cool completely before peeling off the foil.

9. Invert, add ice cream, and enjoy this over-the-top dessert!

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