Donut Sugar Cookies

Well, hello there!

Since the last time we were both here I have done a few things. Since it has been over a year I’ll just give the highlights….I got my degree in Geography/Environmental Science from UCLA, got engaged to my amazing boyfriend WB, moved from Los Angeles to Miami for WB’s new job, and will soon be Mrs. WB (51 days…woah). Just one of those things in a year would be plenty, but 2014 decided to be a bigger year then I had expected!

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Now that life is completely different then back in 2012 when this blog started, my priorities have shifted back and forth. Don’t worry – there was LOTS of baking that happened this past year…I just either A. Ate it too fast to document or B. Our friends ate it too fast to document.

One of the big changes in the past few months has been that I am now in charge of cooking dinner. In the past, it was an unspoken rule that WB did the cooking and I did the baking. Those days are long gone – but for better! I am getting a lot better a cooking non-sugar enhanced food and it has been really fun! So don’t be surprised if a post pops up without sugar listed in the ingredients!

So here I am, dipping my feet back in the water to see how it goes. What better way to ease back into it then with the almighty decorated sugar cookie…that looks like a donut! Yes.

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I started with my favorite sugar cookie dough recipe from Annie’s Eats. I think the key is the almond extract – gets me every time.

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We just got these awesome new rolling pin guideline things from Crate & Barrel (wedding registry for the win!) and the most adorable rolling pin from my sugar-supporter Libby. The rolling pin rings come in different increments and will help you roll out your dough to the exact thickness the recipe says. Because honestly who can get their dough to a 1/4″ even thickness. Not me.

IMG_5975_e It says HELLO THERE! Too cute, too cute.

IMG_5977_eTo get the basic donut circle shape, I used a 3″ biscuit cutter

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Then I searched around the kitchen and found a cap that was about an inch in diameter to make the donut hole.

IMG_5989_eSomehow I magically got exactly 24 donut cookies – beautiful.

IMG_6017_e1For the icing, I use meringue powder instead of egg whites. I find that it is much easier, and yields a better product. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the raw egg element. For this icing, I added a drop of pink food coloring to get a light tint of color. For the design, I start with making an outline with the icing, and then I let it sit for a few minutes to harden up. Then I thin out the remaining icing, put it in a squeeze bottle and fill in the design. Give plenty of time for that to dry before even thinking about stacking these guys on top of each other.

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Hello from Butchie!

 

Until next time!

Updated: THE Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Many moons ago I made this Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe that I had seen so many bloggers and articles raving about. It was consistently called the “best chocolate chip cookies you’ll ever have”. I mean, that is a serious thing to say, but it is true, so I felt it was my duty to share these again with you.

Since that post a year and a half ago (woah, let’s not talk about that), I have made this recipe more times than I can count. If we’re being honest, at least once a month and I’m not sick of them.

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One of the great things about the recipe is that it makes a lot of dough. For the best results, you’re supposed to let the dough sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours to let the flavors meld. Truthfully speaking, you can bake them straight out of the mixer and they’re pretty darn tasty, but I really shouldn’t tell you this because there definitely is a flavor difference in those 24 hours.

Typically, I will bake a dozen right away, because honestly who can wait? Then I let the rest hang out in the fridge or freezer until Iget a text from my mother saying she’s run out of her secret frozen stock of this cookie dough, and off they go.

The key to the perfect chocolate chip cookies…here it goes…is not using chocolate chips.

Oh, and that sea salt….mmm salt.

To get the gooey, melty, smooth chocolate inside your cookies, you must use a bar of chocolate. Chocolate chips have stabilizers in it that are there to keep it’s perfect little chip shape. So they may be good for some cookies, but if you want a cookie like the one below…buy a big Pound Plus bar of chocolate from Trader Joe’s and get to chopping.


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Happy Holiday’s!

Madeline

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies {The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies…Ever}

The apartment searching has officially started, and I am starting to realize that Thursday Night Baking is going to be experience some serious lifestyle changes coming up in September. I have been so spoiled by having the kitchen to myself with tons of cabinet and counter space, a nice oven with a window, gas stove top…sighhhh I’m sorry that I have not appreciated you fully you lovely kitchen, you. ::bows down to oven::

I say this because the kitchen in the apartment that my friends and I are currently looking at is well…not ideal to say the least  better than the place that we almost got when I stated writing this post! High fives all around for gas stove top! Even though the kitchen space will be reduced to about an 1/8th of what I’m working in now, I won’t be letting that slow me down! I will be that chick who brings chocolate chip cookies to Mad Men themed parties…wait…seriously, let’s do that?

Sidenote: One of my roomies has a blog! Her name is Victoria and she is pretty awesome. Check it out! She’s a vegetarian and a pretty mean cook. Our apartment is going to be the place to be for food. We’ll be taking reservations in the Fall – book your calendars.

On that note of bringing cookies places, I went to E3 (a fabulously nerdtastic video game expo at the LA Convention Center) this past week and brought these addictive chocolate chip cookies to share with my coworkers and some lucky friends.

 I made these cookies a few months back, but for some reason I never shared them with you. I’m so sorry, that’s was incredibly selfish of me because these are THE best chocolate chip cookie i’ve ever made or had. I can assure you that I am not the only one that fell in love with these cookies, I have references!!

You’ll never want to use that boring old Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe ever again.  There are a few things that go into making these so epically mouth watering.

First: Bread flour! You’re probably all confused by that, but trust me my loves, trust me. The bread flour is what makes these guys chewy on the inside but still having that little crunch when you bite into it.

Second: Sea salt! Or if you’re fancy, fleur de sel. I think I’m addicted to putting salt on desserts. That too sounds kind of weird, but the salt really does bring out the flavor in so many desserts, especially these cookies.

Third: You’re going to read this recipe and see that I’m going to ask you to refrigerate the dough overnight. You’re going to read that, and then instnatly say “ummm, not happening”. FIGHT THAT URGE! The reason it took me so long to make these cookies was because I too read that refrigerate line and gave up too early. When you let the dough set in the refrigerator overnight (or even up to 36 hours some people say!) all of the flavors marry together and make for this special toffee flavor when you bake up these cookies.

Enjoy,

Madeline

Lime Meltaways

I’ve been listening to a lot of hip hop recently…more specifically a lot of Outkast. It’s just so good, I can’t stop and I have no intention on doing so either, so let’ embrace it together.

I’ve never claimed to be perfect on here, and I never will, because I am so far from. But we’re all a little flawed, right? That’s what makes us who we are. How did I get the way that I am? By dancing around the kitchen to hip hop/rap from 1996 and misreading recipes because I’m too busy jamming.

I’m not complaining though. I’d much rather be a good baker in general and just have a tendency to get a little distracted then be super focused on my recipe and still turn out hockey pucks of dirt. Am I right?

So about once a month I mess up pretty badly in the kitchen, and my first shot at this one was my free pass for the month. I may have put in a whole extra stick of butter into the recipe…whoops!

But rest assured, when you actually make the recipe with the proper ingredients it is not only incredibly easy to make, but they are light and simply addictive.

They’re called meltaways because they do pretty much melt away in your mouth. Writing that reminded me of when I teach the little munchkins about bean clams…”Why do you think they’re called bean clams?” “Because they’re shaped like a bean!” “Yeah! See guys, science is easy!”….yeah that happens.

The lime pefectly blends into the slightly sweet buttery cookie. You wont be screaming, oh woah did you taste that lime! But you will be saying, oh my these are lovely.

They’re not like most cookies, where you feel like you ate a meal after three or four cookies (everyone eats 3-4 cookies when they eat cookies right…?). I could eat 10 of these cookies and would be ready for just about 10 more.

The’re the perfect little cookie to share with friends over lunch on the beach…which is exactly what I did with them! Don’t forget to put sunscreen on so your face isn’t red the next day. Don’t be like me. Having a face that looks like you’re always blushing is not cute, it’s awkward.

 

Momofuku MilkBar Confetti Cookies

If you weren’t already in love with Christina Tosi from Momofuku MilkBar, you will be now.

Before owning Momofuku Milkbar Cookbook or even going to Milkbar in NYC, I was fascinated by Christina Tosi. I want to be her friend. Her style in the kitchen has a childish and whimsical flare to it, but in the best possible way possible. She is known for her cereal milk creations, crack pie, and compost cookies… frankly the woman is a genius.

I could talk about her and that cookbook for hours, but if I tell you any more about her I’ll sound like I have a crush.

I was given this cookbook as a gift right when it came out a few months back, but was a little intimidated by it. I wanted to make everything in it, but each recipe calls for special ingredients that the average baker doesn’t really keep in the pantry, such as gelatin and milk powder. Even if you aren’t a baker, this book is beautiful and if I had a coffee table, I’d put it on it.

The first recipe I tried was for the Cornflake Marshmallow Chocolate Chip cookies. I did everything perfectly and according to the instructions, I even patiently waited while they chilled in the fridge for hours, which is generally something I try and skip due to lack of patience. But when it came to actually baking them, they spread out 3 times their size! Something was oh so wrong.

Tosi’s cookie recipes all have this special “creaming” process. Instead of just whipping together the butter and sugar until combined, like most cookie recipes, this recipe goes for 7 minutes! I thought that maybe it was because of this oh so special process that the cookies spread out so much.

After doing a little reasearch, and re-reading the intro to the book where she talks about her ingredients, I found that my solution to the problem was bread flour! Bread flour has a higher protein content, or a higher gluten content, which kept everything together and made for a chewy delicious cookie.

Funfetti cake was THE cake/sweet/dessert of my childhood. You know, straight from the box with a can of frosting, and it tasted damn good! And honestly, I probably would still love it if I made some today. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I haven’t made Funfetti cake from the box in maybe 5 years or more, but these cookies sent me back to those box cake years in a second.

Colorful. Sweet. Smile inducing. Addictive. Crack-like. Perfection.

Enjoy!!

 

Peanut Butter Cookies

Tuesday night, the music was up loud, the kitchen was warm from the long hot day, and there I was…dancing and singing into a cookie scoop. Part of me wishes that I had a video blog just so I could share a glimpse of how hilarious it was…but then I think about a camera following me around the kitchen and I’m like….no thanks!

Everyone is always surprised to hear that I get shy when it comes to public speaking and being on camera. Probably because I’m very loud and chatty (in the most elegant way of course) when I am with my friends. Every time I imagine being on camera, all I can think about is making an instructional video on how to make a quesadilla in spanish for a class. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have no idea what happened to that video, but the memories are definitely still there. It was bad. And not even in that, oh look at those cute girls making a quesadilla…it was more of a oh god look at those girls speaking in valley girl spanish. Baaaaaad.

As for the public speaking bit…I’m in a speech class right now, and let me tell you, I feel like I’m going to pass out every time I go up there and speak. After my 5 minutes of torture are up I go and sit down and I literally could not tell you what I had just said. It’s like I black out, give a speech, and then come back to life. And I know what you’re thinking “the more you get up there the easier it will get.”

My response to that? I don’t believe you. It’s painful every time I go up there.

So until I get over my irrational fears of public speaking and being on camera, you’re stuck with me here folks!

In honor of trying new things, I branched out from my usual peanut butter cookie recipe and tried out Joanne Chang’s recipe from her amazing cookbook Flour. What I like about this recipe is that is just a straight up peanut butter cookie. The ingredients are wholesome and simple…ie: no extra trip to the store. My other recipe uses half butter and half shortening…I know, shortening, yuck – but trust me they’re pretty damn tasty too.

Why did I chose such a weird looking cookie to take a picture of? To show you guys how a real cookie should look, like a human made it. When I see perfect cookies it just makes me question what the heck they’re doing in their kitchen, because I use a cookie scoop and I still get gems like this guy. Either they are robots or I’m really sloppy. (Don’t answer that)

It’s rustic. That’s a thing, I swear.

Also, with the amount of peanut butter in this recipe, I will allow this an acceptable form of breakfast. I mean seriously, if you think about it the amount of protein you’re getting…it’s probably better for you than the cereal you’re eating! Okay, maybe not, but cookies for breakfast!!

Enjoy,

Madeline

Chocolate Brownie Cookies with White Chocolate Chips & Salted Pecans

Technology has kind of been blowing my mind recently. There are just too many new and crazy things coming out, I am starting to feel like it’s a little too much. What ever happened to hanging out with your friends without tv/computer/phone being involved. (But I’m not one to talk, I sleep with my phone under my pillow. Man, i’m sure that’s just awful for my brain…) I can only imagine what my 91 year old grandma thinks about Google’s “Project Glass” augmented reality glasses.

So when I was reading through Joy’s cookbook and saw this recipe and noticed how it required nothing but some bowls and a whisk, I just smiled.

I love my KitchenAid mixer like it is my child, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it is nice to just feel what you are doing. Whisking eggs into chocolate. Folding the flour and chocolate mixture together. These are things that are so simple but provide such a strange sense of satisfaction when you do it by hand.

See, nothing fancy, no microwave! A bowl over a pot, there you have it ladies and gentleman – the best way to melt chocolate. I’m not a fan of melting chocolate in the microwave. You don’t have any control and it always comes out funky. Try this next time, it really does not require any extra effort! I swear!

Fun fact: that bowl gets really hot! I can’t even tell you how many times I have melted chocolate on the stove and have reached for the bowl and burned my hand. Oven mit is necessary!

Lots of recipes call for you to “fold” together ingredients. Up until 2 years ago, I just thought folding was a new word that they used instead of saying mix because mixing was getting overused. Wrong. Folding means gentle! You take your spatula and start in the center and fold together the ingredients just until they’re combined. Over-mixing is a serious thing people. No joke.

I made these cookies twice in one week, and each time they were eaten up within 24 hours. I guess that is a good thing, but come on! I want to eat these cookies for days they’re that good. They are the perfect brownie/cookie compromise, and they only take 11 minutes in the oven. I don’t think this could get any better?

Enjoy,

Madeline

Homemade Tagalong Girl Scout Cookies

Once upon a time, I was a Girl Scout. I was a smiley, loud, bow in the hair, Girl Scout. I started out as a Brownie and even made it up to a Cadette. One of my favorite parts of being a Girl Scout though, hands down, had to be cookie season. There was nothing more exciting than having cases of Tagalongs, Thin Mints, and Samoas in your garage.

Unlike the Girl Scouts I see today, eight year old Madeline & friends sold these cookies. And when I say sold, I mean that chick in the picture went door to door, counted money, made change – the whole shabang. So I found myself a little sad when I came out of the grocery store and saw that table full of cookies, only to find those adorable little Brownies off to the side talking about Justin Bieber and making their Mom count the change for my three boxes of Tagalongs.

As much as I’m a little disheartened with how Girl Scouts may not be as wholesome and girl empowering as it was when I was in it, I still have really fond memories that make me glad I was a part of it.

For one of our badges, we had to cook a meal. Yeah, yeah, yeah, this isn’t Boy Scouts people, we learned how to cook, clean, set tables and act like a lady. My future husband will thank me, and so will you when you come over for a dinner party. Your welcome.

Always posing for pictures

After that one encounter with the Justin Bieber GS cookie girls, I did not see one GS cookie stand ANYWHERE! I even downloaded the official Girl Scout Cookie Finder App for my phone. It had alerts for when cookies were near you – genius. But alas, here we are and I don’t have any cookies.

So instead of being depressed that I didn’t get to buy 15 more boxes of Tagalongs, I set out to make my own.

No more longing for tagalongs in mid September. I could not be more thankful for Jessica at The Novice Chef for posting about these. I think I may have been lost without them.

Which Girl Scout cookies are your favorite?

Enjoy!

Madeline

Kahlua Espresso Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I set aside a chunk of my Friday morning to read Confections of a Master Closet Baker by Gesine Bullock Prado. I thought I would lay out in the sun for a little (oh how I love southern California) and just read for 20 minutes, but that turned into 2+ hours. After having to force myself to put the book down, the little voice in my head (not that crazy one, but the other one) that says “I’m going to be a baker!” was jumping around and going nuts saying “go bake, go bake, go bake!”

If you like baking, you should read this book. Gesine, unfortunately known to many just as Sandra Bullock’s sister, was a hollywood executive that gave up the high-paid LA lifestyle to pursue her true passion in baking. It’s a hilarious and inspiring memoir. I’ll share with you just this one bit from the book, and then we’ll get to the cookies:

“I didn’t want more stuff. I wanted to be more happy. I wanted to be good. I wanted to stop hating people and start understanding. And the only way I knew how to feel like a good and kind person was through baking.”

I swear, as I read this book I have to stop and put it down for a few seconds every so often because it feels like she is reading my thoughts out loud.

I just want you guys to eat the desserts & food that I make. Plain and simple. I’ll have one, and you have the rest. Well, maybe I’ll have 3, and then I swear you can have the rest.

Those preschool teachers have it right I tell you, sharing is caring.

Here we go – I made some Kahlua Espresso Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I know “chunk” is a funny word, but I don’t use chocolate chips anymore in cookies so I would feel as if I am leading you down the wrong path if I said chips – there is a huge difference I tell you! If you haven’t made the switch to chopped up chocolate in your cookies, you need to now. You know those delicious cookies you get from a bakery that when you break them in half the chocolate just comes oozing out. That’s because they’re not using chocolate chips, which have stabilizers in them to keep their shape. Grab the bar of chocolate and take out some stress on it. Your cookies & taste testers will thank you.

I really wanted a chocolate chip cookie, but after looking through way too many “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie” recipes I decided that there was just too much pressure on something so simple. So I took a different approach. These are like a “look at me I’m all grown up” kinda cookie. They remind me of my Oatmeal Cookies a bit because of the cinnamon that is in it. Overall, they were a nice alternative to the everyday chocolate chip cookie.

Lastly, can we just talk about how ridiculously adorable my little niece is. She says my name now, without me tricking her by repeating it over and over. I swear I will do anything and give her anything she wants as long as she comes running towards me saying “Madddy Madddddy” – my heart is melting just thinking about it…sighhhhh.

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!

Enjoy,

Madeline

Pac-Man Sugar Cookies

Who doesn’t love Pac-Man? Honestly. If you tried to convince me that you don’t like Pac-Man right now, you would just be lying to yourself. It is the ultimate mindless and addictive videogame and I’m now wondering why there isn’t an iPhone app for it…or is there?

I’ve been dreaming about making these cookies for weeks and I was 5 seconds away from clicking “Add to Cart” on Amazon for the pack of Pac-Man cookie cutters. Then I realized I was about to pay $25 for 3 identical colored ghost cookie cutters and a Pac-Man. Why did I need 3 of the same cookie cutter? That’s just redundent and a waste of my precious money that could be going towards more chocolate.

So what does this crazy sugar fiend decide to do? Whip out the markers and scissors!

The Pac-Man was simple – a circle cookie cutter and the point of a heart cookie cutter. Boom, done.

The ghost? Not so much. I got out the markers and drew a Pac-Man ghost shape onto a thick piece of plastic (the lid of an oatmeal container), cut it out, then used it as a stencil for cutting out the ghosts. I know, I may be crazy.

After finally finishing cutting/baking/decorating these cookies I had a little trouble letting go of them. As much as I wanted to keep these forever, or yell at people to enjoy them because I put so much time into them, I didnt.

The best part of baking for me is sharing it with my family, friends and co workers. I love making other people smile with desserts, it makes my days & weeks 5 million times better.

You are never too old to play with your food. Ever.

Oh no!! Pac-Man eats Stormtrooper!

On another note, today was a really great day at work. Have I told you I work on the beach, teaching really excited children about the ocean. Seriously…that’s my job. The most rewarding job you could ever have. So I will leave you guys with this picture of me and my co worker this morning. When your job doesn’t feel like a job, you’re doing something right.

Recipe Here.

Enjoy!!

Madeline