Chocolate Chip Shortbread

This 30 year old family recipe comes from Auntie Geetie.  There’s nothing like real butter…..  There are many types of shortbread but what most have in common is the presence of butter and the absence of eggs.

Ingredients:

1 pound (454g) unsalted butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
(optional add-in 1 cup chopped nuts)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare an ungreased 12-x17-inch rimmed baking sheet. 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light.  Slowly add the sugar and cream until light and fluffy. 

Add the vanilla and blend. 

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. 

Slowly add the flour mixture and combine until the dough starts to form. 

Fold in the chocolate chips (and nuts, if using). 

Press the dough on to the baking sheet and bake for 22 minutes. 

Slice into bars/squares.

Vanilla Extract From Scratch

The price of pure vanilla extract has been going up over the past few years.  There’s nothing like a global Covid 19 pandemic to get people to become more resourceful at home.  Here is a terrific DIY project with 2 ingredients.  This is costly but may last forever…. And definitely cheaper than the store purchased kind.  Please check out websites such as smittenkitchen.com, inagarten.com, and sallysbakingaddiction.com for details on the maintenance. In summary, you leave the alcohol and beans sitting for 8 weeks – 6 months and shake once a week. When you take off vanilla, top up with fresh alcohol and some beans if its been >6 months.

Ingredients:

Vanilla beans (such as Madagascar) and vodka (or bourbon – any flavourless inexpensive alcohol)

Directions:

Use a clean 64 oz. (1.8 L) Mason jar to store the vanilla.  Use 1 whole vanilla bean for every 2 liquid ounces of alcohol.  I used 24 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and placed vertically in the jar.  I then poured in 48 oz. (1.42 L) of unflavoured vodka.  Seal the jar tightly and keep in a dark cupboard.  Give the bottle a good shake at least once weekly and after 6 patient months, it is ready to use. 

As you begin to use your vanilla, you can refill with a little vodka each time.  Give it a shake after you refill and before each use, too.  After about 1 year of frequent use and refilling, you will find the vanilla flavour less intense. Simply remove old beans, add fresh beans, shake and continue to use/refill.   Aged extract without the beans will last indefinitely.

Instant Pot Jam

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During isolation we ran out of jam, but had plenty of strawberries so I starting looking up how to make jam. I didn’t have pectin and with passover approaching I didn’t want to use cornstarch. So that limited me. But I did have an instant pot!

I found this 3 ingredient strawberry jam recipe on The Belly Rules The Mind. I cut it in half just to try it, but it worked perfectly!

Ingredients:

4 cups quartered strawberries (or any other fruit)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

Directions:

Wash and cut strawberries. Add to instant pot with sugar and stir. Allow to sit for 1 hour.

Add lemon juice and Mix.

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Turn on instant pot and set timer for one minute. Turn off Keep Warm and allow pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes.

With an immersion blender or masher, puree the jam.

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Turn the instant pot onto saute to reduce the liquid (this took about 7 minutes for me).

Remove the foam layer on top and put into a glass container or jar. Seal (I used a Weck canning jar).

Allow jam to cool then refrigerate for up to two weeks

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Brookie Squares

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Brownie on the bottom, chocolate chip cookie dough on top. Say no more.

Ingredients:

For the cookie dough:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted pareve margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided

For the brownie batter:

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted pareve margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. kosher salt

Directions:

To make the cookie dough, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the margarine and sugars until light and fluffy.

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Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.

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Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until just combined.

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Add 2 cups of the chocolate chips and fold in. Set aside.

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Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9-x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper lined with parchment paper sprayed with nonstick spray.

In a double boiler, combine the chocolate and margarine and stir until completely smooth and melted.

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Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Add the sugar followed by the eggs, and vanilla. Stir until smooth.

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Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined.

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Transfer the batter to the baking pan.

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Dollop the cookie dough over the brownie batter and cover the brownie batter using an offset spatula.

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Bake for 45-50 minutes.

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Remove from the oven and sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips over the top, gently pressing into batter, and return the pan to the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove and allow to cool before slicing.

Crispy French Bread

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This recipe came from life as a strawberry and was an immediate hit. Next time I’ll make it with 1/2 multigrain flour and see how that turns out.

Ingredients:

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 warm water (about 100˚F)
1 1/5 tsp kosher salt
2 1/5 cups bread flour

Directions:

Combine yeast, sugar, and warm water in a mixer bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes until foamy.
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Add kosher salt.

Add flour a little at a time and mix with a dough hook until combined.

Lightly flour all sides and turn it over inside the mixing bowl to cover. Cover and let rise for 1 hour until dough has doubled in size.

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When dough has risen, lightly flour a large cutting board. Pour dough (carefully) onto cutting board and shape into a round loaf by pulling in the edges and flipping over.

Flour a mixing bowl and place the loaf seam side (folding side) down. Allow bread to rise for 30 minutes.

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While bread is rising place an empty Dutch Oven with lid on into the oven and heat to 460˚F.

When oven is hot, take the Dutch Oven out and carefully put a trimmed piece of parchment in. Place the dough seam side up in the Dutch Oven carefully. Place the Dutch Oven back in the hot oven (using oven mitts) and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until crust has browned.

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When done use a spatula to lift the bread out and allow to cool for 20 minutes.

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Special Edition Easter Post

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Adapted from janespatisserie.com, eggs appear in two ways in this festive delight. There are eggs in the cookie dough batter as well as Cadbury Mini Eggs folded in and as a decorative topping.

Ingredients:

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. corn meal
2 sticks unsalted pareve margarine or butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups Mini Eggs, divided
¾ cup white chocolate chips
¾ cup dark chocolate chip

Directions:

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Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the margarine/butter. Add the sugars and mix until the sugars are dissolved.

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Remove from the heat and add the eggs and vanilla, mixing until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and corn meal.

Transfer to the saucepan and fold until completely moistened.

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Fold in 2 cups of Mini Eggs and the white and dark chocolate chips.

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Press the batter down into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining ¾ cup Mini Eggs over the top and gently press down.

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Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool before slicing into squares/bars.

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Eva’s Apple Cake

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Ingredients:

5 large eggs
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups grapeseed oil
3/8 cup orange/apple juice
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out dough
3 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
3 ½ lbs Spy/Granny Smith apples (approximately 9 apples), peeled and thinly sliced
3 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided

Directions:

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Preheat oven to 350F. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine eggs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, oil, juice and vanilla and mix well.

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In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt;

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Add to food processor and pulse until dough begins to form.

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The dough will be very sticky. Remove dough from bowl and place on flour-covered surface. Knead dough until it no longer sticks to surface (add flour as necessary).

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Separate dough into 1/3 and 2/3 portions.

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Roll out crust (2/3 portion) to ¼-inch thickness and using the rolling pin, transfer the dough to the bottom of 9-x13-inch pyrex pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Trim edges as necessary.

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Combine apples, ½ cup sugar and 2 tsp. cinnamon in a bowl and place onto crust of pan.

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Roll out remaining 1/3 portion of dough to ¼ inch thickness and cover the apple mixture, trimming edges as necessary.

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Gently slice into 40 small squares using a serrated knife to score them and to allow for some venting during the baking process. Sprinkle the entire cake with 1 tsp. cinnamon combined with ¼ cup sugar.

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Bake for 1 ¼ hours.

I doubt that anyone will find a proper version of this cake in any traditional cookbook. Eva is a Holocaust Survivor in her 90s who is an expert cook and baker like no other on food network television shows. I watched Eva make this, took copious notes and still couldn’t make it as perfectly and as easily as she makes it look. I’ve adapted her recipe to make “extra” dough to make this experience more “forgiving.” This is a recipe that needs to be passed on from generation to generation as there is really quite nothing like this delicious homemade apple cake with a cookie dough like crust and topping. Hint: the reason to make it in a clear pyrex dish is so that you can check if it’s done by checking the bottom (Eva’s trick).

Jordana’s Bubby Shell’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This amazing chocolate chip cookie adapted from Max’s friend’s grandmother can be done in one bowl in a food processor.  You can’t have too many chocolate chip cookie recipes in your repertoire.

2 ½ sticks unsalted pareve margarine, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup demerara brown sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. kosher salt

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cream together the margarine and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

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Mix until light and fluffy; add eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.

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In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt.

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Add the flour mixture to the bowl and mix until just combined.

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Fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

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Chill the dough for 2-24 hours.  Use a small ice cream scoop to form portions of dough into round balls.

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Bake for 10 minutes.  Makes approximately 56 cookies.

Alternative method: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the margarine, sugars, eggs and vanilla.  Process until well combined, approximately one minute.  Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and pulse until just combined.   Mix in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

Chocolate Crinkle Sprinkle Cookies

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These fun cookies are from Jessica Merchant’s book, “The Pretty Dish.”  I doubled the recipe as she suggested because I knew that two dozen cookies wouldn’t last long in my house.  They are oil, rather than margarine-based, allowing the use of several types of oil. I used “Sweetapolita” Sprinkle Medley to make them even more fun.

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Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup coconut/grapeseed oil
4 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ cup assorted rainbow sprinkles

Directions

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat together the cocoa, sugar and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

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Add the eggs, one at a time followed by the vanilla.

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Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Batter will be sticky.

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Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

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Place the sprinkles into a small bowl.  Preheat oven to 350F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Using a 3 cm ice cream scoop, form the batter into balls, then dip into the sprinkles.

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Bake for 12 minutes and allow to cool.  Makes 46 cookies.

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Science Fact of the Week:

Grapeseed oil is often used in baking and cooking because it has a higher smoke point. Compared to olive oil, it can be heated to a higher temperature before smoking. Try using it as a replacement next time you fry anything!

Margarita Granita

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Today’s recipe requires little effort and should be made for any celebration (or for margarita Mondays).

Ingredients:

1 cup tequila
1 cup cointreau
Juice of 5 limes (~1/2 cup)
Juice of 1 lemon (3-4 tbsp)
3-4 cups ice

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender. Pour blended margarita into a 9×13 pan and freeze. At this point you can drink some of it as a celebration for making it this far.

After 3 hours, remove the pan from the freezer and “grate” the frozen margarita with a fork. Spoon into a glass and serve.

Science Fact of the Week:

Alcoholic beverages have a freezing point below that of water (below 0 degrees C). As such, the granita remains partially liquid, because of the alcohol content.