Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies Mini Batch

I have decided that it is time I share my absolute most favorite cookie recipe. It is actually a quarter batch of a regular recipe batch, hence the "mini." It makes around 7-9 cookies depending on the size you make the cookies, which is perfect for when you want a few cookies but don't want to make an entire batch because you just know you'll end up eating at least 25 cookies. (Or maybe that's just me - I have disgustingly weak will power when it comes to sweets.) The other reason I love this recipe is because the cookies come out a little bit crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside - yum. I should note that my mom never liked these cookies when I started making them but because she can't resist a cookie any better than I can, she would eat a couple anyway and she says now that they've started to grow on her. I made a batch a couple of weeks ago and Mom asked, as usual, if she could have one. When I mentioned that she sure eats a lot of these cookies she doesn't like she replied that "they're addicting." At any rate, try it for yourself and see if you like it. If you don't like them, at least you only have to throw out 7 or 8 cookies instead of 50. So here you go, but pay attention to the notes at the end:

Mini-batch Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup shortening (I use either Earth Balance vegetable shortening or Crisco sticks)*
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 egg *
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together sugar, brown sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in flour, salt, and baking soda until everything is well mixed. Add in the chocolate chips at the very end. The dough will be very loose and crumbly. Scoop up a handful of dough and pack it into a ball, then flatten gently between your hands before placing on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 5-8 minutes, or until the cookies begin to turn golden and develop cracks. Take them out of the oven and let them sit on the sheet until cooled off. Leaving the cookies on the sheet until cool lets them finish baking.

* The shortening is important in keeping the cookies from spreading out too much and becoming little pancakes. To get the half egg I use EnerG Egg Replacer powder (found in stores like Whole Foods or New Seasons around here, in the vegan food section) and simply cut in half the recipe for the one egg equivalent. It ends up being 3/4 teaspoon powder mixed with 1 tablespoon water, if memory serves. I know that it would be easier to make the cookies if the dough wasn't so crumbly, but these are good enough that I don't mind the little extra time it takes.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Lemon-Lavender Cupcakes

It's been a while since I've tested any recipes but I have finally gotten around to trying out this one, and it was pretty good. I found this recipe in Shape magazine, another one of my favorites that I've been reading for years. So here you go, enjoy - my notes are included in italics and at the bottom of the recipes in the cryptically named "NOTES" section.

Lemon-Lavender Cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dried lavender buds, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and brought to room temperature (I just used whatever butter I had on hand, I have no clue if it was salted or unsalted, and I was too impatient to wait for it to get to room temperature and it seemed to turn out fine)
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk (or whatever buttermilk you have on hand)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin pan. To make the batter, whisk together flour, lavender, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, lemon juice, and zest. Beat in one-third of the flour mixture until just combined. Beat in half the buttermilk, followed by another third of the flour, then the remaining buttermilk and flour.

Fill cupcake liners about two-thirds full and bake for 24-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Thanks again to Shape magazine for the recipe, from the August 2009 issue

Lemon Butter Cream Frosting
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening (I just used Crisco sticks)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon lemon extract
4 cups sifted powdered sugar (approximately a 1 pound bag... and I never bothered with sifting it)
2 tablespoons milk
Few drops yellow food coloring, if desired
1-2 tablespoons of lemon zest, if desired

In a large bowl, cream shortening and butter with an electric mixer. Add lemon extract. Gradually add sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape the bowl often. When all the sugar has been mixed in the icing will look dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

If you have left over frosting after topping your cupcakes, you can store it in the fridge in an airtight container for 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

NOTES: These cupcakes were pretty good, but if I make it again I think I'll leave out the lavender or else put less in, even though I generally like the smell of lavender. But then maybe I'm just not an eating lavender type of person so use your own judgement. And for the frosting, if you have extra left over you could either use it on some other frosting friendly baked good (cookies or cake or more cupcakes, something like that) or you could try sandwiching it between two graham crackers as a snacky thing - that's one way we typically use up extra frosting.