Honestly, I don’t know why it took me so long to figure out that the name of the bakery might just be the secret to the recipe. And I speak French, or did at one time, so I should have realized that the bakery is called Levain Bakery for a reason. “Levain” is the word the French use to describe a sourdough starter. Now, maybe it’s just a cool name they came up with for their bakery, and don’t actually put sourdough starter in any of their cookies. I don’t know for sure. But I think I may be on to something.
Before I go on, if any of you aren’t familiar with Levain Bakery, it is a little walk-down located in Manhattan, and sells huge warm cookies for four bucks each. Oooh, and they’re so worth it. The oatmeal raisin is like heaven.
This morning, my five-year-old was screaming in a panic as we were in the car on the way to drop the older kids at school.
“I don’t want to get pinched by a leprechaun! I’m not wearing any green!”
It sounds cute in writing. But it wasn’t very cute at the time. I felt a lot like Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character at the beginning of Nanny McPhee Returns.
These were the cookies I made for my kids for their after school snack today, which they then frosted by themselves. They’re an extremely simple shortbread, with an even simpler buttercream frosting.
For some reason, I was craving this on Saturday. Nothing else would do. All I wanted was a warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookie, straight out of an iron skillet. With just a little ice cream.
I flipped through a cookbook or two, and discovered you could make chocolate chip cookies with melted butter. One recipe (from The Weekend Baker by Abigail Dodge) even had you mix the entire dough in the saucepan where you melted the butter, and then scoop out the cookies from there. Since I was going to use the skillet to bake the cookie, I took their idea further and mixed the entire dough in the skillet and baked it just like that.
As this was a lazy Saturday, and my intent was only to satisfy my craving (not a den of Cub Scouts’ or a mob of preschoolers’), I exercised no financial caution and dumped an entire cup of chopped Valrhona chocolate into the mix. What resulted after baking was a cookie with a crispy outer shell on the top and bottom, and a soft center saturated with mini pools of flowing chocolate.
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So how come nobody told me I can’t count? I accidentally wrote “the eighth day” twice in a row. I’d fix it, but I’m too tired. Hence my lateness in posting this 10th day recipe.
I heard of cloudberries a long time ago, and only recently tried them. They sound dreamy, don’t they? They look much like raspberries, but grow in northern climates, such as in Scandinavia and Canada. They’re often made into jam, which is really the only way the rest of us can get them. I found the jam in the picture at IKEA, but you can also buy it on amazon.
I think I tried palmiers from a bakery once a long time ago. Apparently, it was a terrible bakery, because I have never wanted to eat them since, let alone make them myself.
But this week, after the puff pastry post, I had a lot of it lying around in my fridge. I didn’t want to do a complicated recipe today, and so I thought maybe I should try making palmiers. Nothing could be simpler than palmiers. Traditional palmiers are just a sheet of puff pastry, coated in sugar, and rolled up so that they look like the capital of an ionic pillar. As they bake, the sugar caramelizes and the layers of dough puff up and get crisp.
But last time I tried them, I thought they were horrible.
Then I thought maybe it was just the bakery I bought them from, or maybe they were simply made with cheap puff pastry. That’s one of the things about cooking: Simple recipes are great, but only as great as the ingredients. If you use crappy ingredients, then the finished product will be crappy. And there’s no way around it.
So today, I gave them a try. I was right. The ones I had before must have been made with cheap, store-bought, non-butter puff pastry. Because the ones I made today were crisp, buttery, sweet, and exactly how they should have been before.
Well, here I am, up late getting our second day of Christmas going.
Coincidentally, someone VERY nice in our neighborhood has made our family the recipient of a Twelve Days of Christmas. This morning, on our way to school, we found a bag full of goodies that someone had left on our door last night. Tonight, they left us another bag. My kids can’t stop talking about it, and we are thrilled.
Or, if you don’t want to donate these to a school bake sale, might I suggest a new title: Valrhona Chunk Cookies. Oh yeah, that’s right. When I made these today, I made half of the dough with regular chocolate chips for the culinarily uninformed, and the other half of the dough with chunks and slivers of Valrhona chocolate. Lucky for the kids, I’m on a diet, so there may actually be some left after school.
Speaking of diets, bakes sale week always kills me. And as if these recipes aren’t enough, I made these cute little lemon bundt cakes on babble.com today (yesterday? two days ago? It’s late). So be sure to click over and check them out.
But I digress. I need to confess something to the Sophistimom readers before I go any further:
I am chocolate chip cookie challenged.
Remember those chocolate chip cookies I did ages and ages ago? Well, I used to make them all the time, and they always worked out perfectly. Then, out of nowhere, they started baking up flat as pancakes. I don’t know what I did, other than I may have switched from superfine sugar back then, to regular granulated now. I have no idea, though.
Anyway, I don’t like my chocolate chip cookies as flat as pancakes. I know some people do, but I’m not one of them.
But then a few months ago, I was babysitting my friend’s kids. While I was there, she left out a big bag of chocolate chip cookies (that was probably a big mistake on her part—I didn’t leave many behind). They were little, round, and chewy. They weren’t even crispy on the outside. They were so good, that I have been meaning to get the recipe from her since that day back in February.
Today, she gave it to me. And, since I am chocolate chip cookie challenged, I regret to say this is not my own recipe. I didn’t even tweak it. Not one bit. (Okay, maybe a bit, but only to let you know to use pure vanilla instead of the crappy kind, or to tell you how many chocolate chips to put in.)
And now I have the most delicious chocolate chip cookies I could ever want.
My four-year-old says these cookies are like the flowers on Percy Jackson, all I needed to do was make them pink.
They would be really cute for a bake sale, don’t you think? I got my inspiration from Donna Hay on these. Her version were with lemon, but I made mine with lime.
I can’t believe this is the third year I’ve done this. Can you? This is always my favorite week on Sophistimom. The kids are back in school, the weather is starting to cool down (for some of us), and I think people tend to come inside and blog a little more.
You know how when you see a great idea, and you wish it had been your own? That’s how I feel now about Martha Stewart’s latest issue of Everyday Food. They have this great article on bake sale treats, and each one is a homemade version of a grocery store snack or cookie, like pop tarts, those Little Debbie oatmeal cream sandwich cookies, and my favorite of all: Malomars. Ooh, I love those things. There was this brief time I could get them in Colorado Springs, but then they stopped shipping them because all the chocolate cracked from the marshmallows expanding at high altitude. That was like torture. They carried them for about a week and then yanked them out of the stores again. I mean, who cares if the chocolate is cracked? Really!
Anyway, I sort of wish I had thought of their idea over at Everyday Food, but since I didn’t, I will be coming up with my own treats all week. I have no idea what I’ll post, but I hope you love them.
Häagen-Dazs is sadly the only remaining national grocery store variety ice cream that does not add a bunch of crap to their products. I don’t know what carrageenan is (nor do I care to), but now most of the brands that still boast all-natural ingredients add it to their ice cream.
When Häagen-Dazs came out with their “five” label, I was excited to see that at least they realize that some of us in the country are still interested in ice cream that contains only what is listed in a recipe.
I love lemon desserts, and as a child used to fantasize about what lemon ice cream should taste like. Any rare occasion when I would find an actual lemon flavored ice cream, it would either taste flat, too creamy, artificial or dull. When I saw the lemon Häagen-Dazs five flavor, I thought I would try it to see if it would deliver.
It surpasses all hopes and childhood dreams of a lemon-flavored ice cream. It is tart, and sweet, and creamy all at once. The ice crystals are so minuscule they are virtually undetectable. It is smooth as silk and absolutely amazing. My ravings on the subject continue on my babble blog, if you’re interested.