Bouchon Bakery chocolate chip cookies

March 10, 2013 § 17 Comments

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I never was much of a chocolate chip cookie person.  In our house growing up, a chocolate chip cookie never emerged from the oven.  Not a single time.  We were given fresh baked bread or rye flatbreads with cheese after school, not cookies.  And, while I know I whined about it, I secretly thought it was kind of awesome (and on the whole, I’ll still take fresh baked bread over a cookie, or very nearly anything else, any day).

My friends had chocolate chip cookies that they would sometimes share with me, of course, or as we got older we would go to their houses and bake them (we did try to bake cookies at my house one time, and they turned out terribly, a melted puddle of disaster instead of cookies.  Thus it was that our oven truly never made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, at least not successfully).  And I’d eat them.  I was a kid, they were sweet, it was cool.  But, I never really got to like them.

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In college, my sophomore year roommate was a champion cookie baker.  She baked cookies whenever she wanted to avoid anything, which meant a heck of a lot of cookie baking.  From her, I learned that age-old teenage rite of eating half the cookie dough as we baked (it’s a wonder we never got salmonella, given she wasn’t exactly using the highest quality eggs), resulting in batches of only about a dozen cookies that would actually get baked.  And the baked cookies, again, were fine and whatever, but I never started to crave the cookies.

Nor did the signature chocolate chip cookies made by the boy I started dating that year change that.  Of course, these ones were odd cookies that didn’t taste particularly good unbaked, or warm, or at room temperature, but were at their best refrigerated and then soaked in milk.  Maybe he had accidentally switched to copying a biscotti recipe halfway through writing the cookie recipe down, or something.  Either way, I never saw what others seemed to see in chocolate chip cookies.  I know so many people who will get excited about a chocolate chip cookie of any quality.  But, I never found any cookie good enough to write home about.

Until, that is, my 5th year living in Boston when we moved to an apartment in Jamaica Plain near a hole in the wall little bakery named Canto 6.  A bakery with which we promptly fell in love.  They make excellent sandwiches with fresh bread and homemade ingredients as well as soups and vegetable quiches and the occasional thin slice of pizza with chevre and olives.  They make croissants that would hold their own in Paris, as well as meltingly tender scones, buttery Brioche topped with cheeses and honeys and fruits and other goodies, yogurt cakes, and olive rolls, and berry galettes, and sour cherry crumble pies.  All of which are ridiculously high quality and delicious. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Slumdog Millionaire’s Shortbread

March 23, 2012 § 10 Comments

All through our childhoods, my brothers and I were only allowed candy on Saturdays – lørdags godt, “Saturday treat.”  Each Saturday we were given our allowance, to drop into the cleaned out yogurt containers that functioned as piggybanks, plus a quarter (adjusted up over the years to a dollar, a parent does have to recognize inflation), to clasp hot and sticky in our hands as we ran to the store to spend it on any candy of our choosing.

We had a complete free market phenomenon going on with our Saturday treat allotment, and (without remotely having the terminology to talk about it) we became very shrewd at calculating the relative utility of each variety of candy as compared to its cost, in order to determine how we could best balance the quantity versus quality of our purchases.

My brothers erred on the side of quantity.  My indifference curves must have been steeper because I tended to buy exactly the candy I preferred at the time, even if it meant I wouldn’t walk away with pockets bulging.

I remember an intense Mambo phase.  Do you remember those?  Fruit-flavored chews in a similar genre to Starbursts, but ever so much better. For a long time I also harbored a strong preference for Sour Patch kids.  But, as I grew older (and our financial allocation closed in  on a dollar), I – being female, and all – developed a powerful love of chocolate.  I recall many sweet, melty Saturdays of peanut butter cups or Three Musketeers Bars.

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Sesame ginger chocolate mousse – it was only a matter of time

February 14, 2012 § 25 Comments

They say one of the hardest things about love is learning to accept it.  It can be so hard to feel worthy of being loved.  Yet, you can’t fully love others until you accept that you’re loveable as well.

But, I’m not going to spend too much time focusing on anything so weighty today.  I’m focused on mousse.  The hardest thing about chocolate mousse, for me, is that I just made some for Valentine’s Day.  Not super original.  I think that chocolate mousse on Valentine’s Day may actually be the entry in the dictionary for the word trite.  Trite (trîte), adj., trit·er, trit·est 1. making chocolate mousse on Valentine’s Day…

I’m in the camp of people who doesn’t get terribly into Valentine’s Day.  I do love chocolates, and champagne, and flowers.  But, I love them on many more days of the year than just February 14th (and I wouldn’t mind receiving them on many more days too, ahem, Joel, ahem 🙂 ).

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Chocolate and nutmeg tart with hazelnut crust

February 7, 2012 § 24 Comments

…Then Nutella slipped the shoe gently onto Eggnog’s foot.  It fit perfectly!  They gazed into each others’ eyes, and each knew it had found a soul mate.  And they lived happily ever after.

I mean, is there anything else you really need to know about this remarkable combination of milk chocolate, hazelnut, and nutmeg?  I don’t really think so.  Of course, that has also never stopped me from waxing poetic for at least a couple more paragraphs.

I don’t normally eat milk chocolate.  I’m a dark chocolate girl.  Switching your tastes over from milk to dark seems almost a rite of passage.  You know, paying your own rent, choosing subtle shades of eye shadow, drinking coffee, and eating dark chocolate.  They’re signs you’ve entered adulthood.  And, it’s not just because dark chocolate is healthier.  Milk chocolate is often palate-deadeningly sweet.  Just a single, uniform brushstroke of sugar across your tongue, while dark chocolate has notes of coffee, berries, caramel, wood, vanilla…

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A peanut butter pie for Mikey

August 12, 2011 § 9 Comments

This is a peanut butter pie for Mikey.

He was somebody I didn’t know, but he was the beloved of a cook I admire as much for her generous spirit and vivacious energy as for her cooking.  At her request, a number of us are all making peanut butter pies today – his favorite – to honor his memory.  This is what we do, we create, and we share with those we love.

Life is full of so much darkness, and so much light.  I guess the only thing we can really do is create all the light we can, to shine through the darkness.

I don’t know what else. « Read the rest of this entry »

Deeply chocolate pudding

March 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sometimes the world is awfully overwhelming and confusing.  I can’t understand it.  I have no hope of understanding it.  Why is it that sometimes really really terrible things happen?  How can I have been so infinitely blessed as to have been able to have spent the weekend surrounded by loving friends and family?  Marveling at the beauty of lakes, trees, snow, and mountains.  Belly laughing at stupid jokes or at each other as we careened down precarious slopes.  Passing plentiful bowls of food and bottles of wine to each other reveling in the sharing.  While, at the other side of the world our brothers and sisters were having the ground shaken out from under them, rocks falling on top of them.  The fall out of nuclear melt down besieging them.  There is no sense to it.  No sense that my little mind can make of it.

The world, life, is terribly beautiful and beautifully terrible.  I suppose this is part of what makes it all precious, the very precariousness of it.  It doesn’t serve us well not to accept the sadness as well as the happiness in life.  But, still.  Sometimes, I really just don’t think I can handle it.  Sometimes I just want someone to hug me and say “it’s going to be alright.”  And you know what?  Sometimes I think that’s just fine.  Sometimes we aren’t strong enough to hold all the joy and sadness, and there is no shame in that.

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Salted caramel ice cream and dark chocolate tartelettes

September 29, 2010 § 12 Comments

Sometimes I secretly think maybe my nutrition degree should be revoked.  The thing is, I just think that using smaller plates, cooking more of our own food, and trying to squeeze in extra veggies wherever possible will get most of the job done.  I can’t help but feel that bacon and butter are legitimate “spices.”  Oh, and then there’s the matter of me and salted caramel.  Pardon me for a moment while I glaze over and daydream about creamy, salty, buttery, luxuriousness…Oh no, was I drooling?!  How embarrassing.  Anyway, I firmly believe that one of the most important things we need to do to eat more healthfully is cut out as much sugar (or equivalent) as possible, but can adding some salt to your sugar count instead?  Pleeeeeeeease???  (Real answer: definitely not.  There’s actually something about the salty-sweet combination that trips up our brain and makes us less able to control how much we eat.  Sometimes life is so unfair! )

It all began when Joel’s parents very thoughtfully sent me a care package back when I was studying for my comprehensive exams.  I’m sure they had no idea that they were creating a salted caramel-obsessed monster when they tucked a tiny box of dark chocolate sea salt caramels from Fran’s in with the other goodies.  I ate one.  I promptly adopted the use of the phrase “O.M.G.” which I had steadfastly promised myself I would never use.  Who would have thought that that dark smooth little chocolate cube, with its innocent little sprinkling of grey salt on top, could pack that much decadence into it?!  I ate the second one, and amidst the bars of the “Alleluia Chorus” that were playing inside my head, I came this close to packing up everything and moving to Seattle so that I could go live behind Fran’s and eat nothing but their caramels forever more.  (I’m sure the fact that I was studying for the most stressful exam of my life in no way contributed to my excited planning for an escape.)

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