Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

I found a great recipe for chocolate chip muffins on a blog called evilshenanigans.com. I adapted the recipe and made a few changes, and the muffins were really delicious.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup orange juice
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used organic Wegman’s plain yogurt)
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet mini chocolate chips (I used King Arthur Flour‘s bittersweet chocolate chips, which are not mini chips, but are smaller than standard chocolate chips)
1 tablespoons flour

Heat the oven to 375 F and spray mini muffin tins with cooking spray (this recipe made 30 mini muffins). In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl combine the melted butter, vanilla, orange juice, sour cream or yogurt, and eggs.In a small bowl toss together the chocolate chips with the 1 tablespoons of flour until they are well coated.Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until the dry ingredients are moist.  Add the chocolate chips and fold to incorporate.Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until the center of the muffins springs back when lightly pressed, a toothpick comes out clean, and the tops are just starting to turn golden brown. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Passover Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies taste very close to regular chocolate chip cookies.  I’ve made them a few times, and they are really good.

    • 1 1/4 cups matzoh cake meal (sift after measured)
    • 1 tsp. baking soda (eliminate to make totally kosher for Passover)
    • 1 tsp. kosher salt (scant teaspoon if using salted butter)
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter (may substitute margarine)
    • scant 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 12 oz. package of semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine cake meal , baking soda, and salt in bowl; set aside.  Beat butter in mixer till fluffy. Add sugars and vanilla; beat until creamy.  Add eggs, and beat.  Slowly beat in cake meal mixture, and mix only until blended.  Stir in chips by hand.

Drop by tablespoon onto parchment lined cookie sheets.  Bake 9 to 11 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.

Peach Crostadas Or Peach Turnovers

Yesterday, my daughter Randi got back from a great summer vacation with her husband Dan and his  family in Mantoloking, New Jersey, a beautiful shore town next to Point Pleasant Beach at the Jersey Shore. I knew that Randi wanted Nana (my mother) and me to pick up some incredible fried fresh flounder platters (the best!) from the amazing Keyport Fishery (Keyport, NJ) for dinner tonight.  When Randi called me yesterday she put Noah (now 2 years old) on the phone to tell me what he wanted me to bake for our dessert.  He said in his sweet baby voice, “peach pie.”  So Randi asked me if I would oblige, or if it was too big a deal to make it.  I said I would love to make it for Noah.  Luckily, I was just about to set foot in Trader Joe’s where they happened to have beautiful looking peaches.  So last night, I made some pastry, and this morning, I made the filling, and I actually made 1 12 in. crostada, and 2 mini crostadas, and 2 turnovers with the filling and the pastry.  I was just fooling around to see how the turnovers would come out.  The reason I made the 2 mini crostadas and not 2 more turnovers is because when I cut the dough, 2 pieces just weren’t squared enough to make the turnovers, whereas you don’t have to worry about that with the crostadas. The large crostada just came out of the oven, and the rest are baking.  Oh my god, the crostadas are gorgeous, and so are the turnovers! the dough looks super flaky. Yes!

for the dough:

  •     2 1/2 cups unbleached organic (King Arthur) flour (carried by Stop and Shop and A&P or kingarthurflour.com)
  •     2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  •     1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  •     1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (3/4 cup), cut into pieces (I take butter right from the freezer)
  •     6 oz. cold cream cheese , cut into pieces
  •     1/2 cup cold light cream, half and half, or heavy cream

for the filling:

  •     about 6 large peaches or nectaries (I did not peel them to save work and to add a bit of the rustic), about 2 lbs.
  •     scant 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  •     juice of 1/2 lemon, about 1 tablespoon
  •     about 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  •     1 tablespoon flour
  •     1 tablespoon cornstarch
  •     1 large organic egg yolk, beaten with 2 teaspoons light cream (substitute half and half, heavy cream, or whole milk)
  •     granulated sugar for sprinkling on top

make the dough:

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.  Pulse.  Add the butter and cream cheese and pulse till the mixture looks like very coarse meal, 10-15 pulses approximately.  Add the cold cream and pulse, just until the dough starts to come together, about 10 pulses.  Turn dough out onto clean work surface or waxed paper, gather dough together, cut it into 2 pieces, form into 2 disks, and wrap in plastic, refrigerate at least 2 or 3 hours, or overnight as I did.

when ready to bake:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Position oven racks in middle of oven.  Line heavy duty baking sheet with parchment paper.

Make your filling.  Slice peaches into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick wedges and some smaller pieces with remaining parts of peaches into large mixing bowl.  Add sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, flour, cornstarch, and salt.  Set aside.

Take out 1 disk of pastry.  Roll out disk on waxed paper which you dusted with flour till you have about a 12 inch round (doesn’t have to be totally round)  Every once in a while, lift dough up, and sprinkle a little more flour underneath, or sprinkle flour on top as I do, and flip pastry so that the newly floured top is now on the bottom.  When dough is somewhere between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick, transfer it to parchment lined baking sheet (fold in quarters, transfer, and unfold).  Place about half of your peach mixture on round, leaving about 1 inch on edges that you are not putting the peach mixture on.  Begin draping dough up and over, making pleats, pressing to seal.  Place back in fridge right on baking sheet so dough gets cold again before you bake it- that will keep it flaky.  Take out when cold, in about 15 min., and brush dough with egg wash, sprinkle lightly with sugar.  Then dot the filling with just about 1/2 tables. of butter.   Bake for about 30 min. or a little more till crust is beautifully browned.  If you think crust is browning too quickly, reduce temp to 400 degrees midway.  Let cool on baking sheet, either serve warm or at room temp.

Then take out remaining disk of pastry from fridge.  At this point lower temp. to 400 degrees.  (I felt I would lower temperature, because these smaller turnovers seemed a little more delicate, so I decided they would do better with 400 degrees rather than 425 degrees.) Roll out pastry somewhere between 1/4 in. and 1/8 in. thick, try for a large rectangle, about 12 by 14 in. if you want to make the turnovers, otherwise roll out into another big circle if you wish to make a second crostada, again sprinkling with flour as you go as explained above..  I did the rectangle.  Then with pizza cutter, cut into 4 squares or rectangles, if possible.    Tranfer first square or rectangle to parchment lined baking sheet.  I actually at this point cut my largish peach slices in smaller pieces.  Spoon a few tablespoons of peaches onto half of rectangle, on half of your square- making a triangle, or on middle of round if that’s what the quarter of your dough turned into.  Leave a border of about 1/2 inch in square or rectangle, and about 3/4 inch for round.  Brush border of square and rectangle with egg wash to be a sort of glue.  Then fold over the dough for your turnovers- your square or rectangle, and pleat the dough over the mini crostada.  Brush tops of turnovers all over with some of the remaining egg wash, brush dough of crostada, and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-30 min. till beautifully browned.  Take out and serve either warm or at room temperature.

an easy variation for the crostadas:

one box of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry- defrost it in fridge, then break sheets into thirds along line that is present, then roll out each third till about 1/8 to 1/4 in. thick, form into squares, rectangles or circles, and fill with above filling, fold over to make either triangles, rectangles, or half moons.  When ready to bake, brush with melted butter and bake on parchment lined cookie sheets at 400 degress until browned.

Chocolate Chip Cake

My mother, Shirley Fried, was a wonderful baker when I was growing up.  One of my favorite cakes of hers was a chocolate chip cake that she made.  This chocolate chip cake reminds me of the one she made.  I always make it in a tube pan, but it can also be made in a large loaf pan. Back in the 50s and 60s, they didn’t have miniature semisweet chocolate chips, so my mother chopped, I believe a few oz. bars of Baker’s unsweetened chocolate into small chips or pieces. She might have even put the chocolate into her nut mill.  So iff you don’t have miniature chocolate chips or you want to be nostalgic, you can chop regular chips and use them instead.

  • almost all of  a 12 oz. bag mini sem-sweet chocolate chips or all of a 10 oz. bag
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter – room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached organic flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp.  aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt  (if using salted butter, use 1/2 tsp. salt)
  • 2/3 cup organic whole milk
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a tube pan, bundt, or loaf pan well- sides and bottom, and tube if you are usiing a tube pan.   Cream butter, then add sugar, and cream till fluffy.  Add eggs and cream till fluffy.  Combine the dry ingredients and blend in alternately with the milk and vanilla.  Mix in dry ingredients each time only till blended. Then add chips and fold in with rubber spatula.  Bake in greased pan for about 1 hour till toothpick comes out clean.  If you are baking in a loaf pan, then it may take a bit longer.  Just make sure the toothpick comes out clean.

Note: I usually bake this in a tube pan, then I cut cake into thirds, I keep one third of the cake out, and I freeze each of the other thirds by wrapping them in plastic wrap first and then in a ziploc bag.

Note:  I have sometimes used 6 or 7 oz. of chocolate chips and then 6 oz. of bittersweet chocolate chopped too, but the easiest thing to do is just use one 12 oz. bag of miniature semisweet chocolate chips.

Mini Pumpkin Muffins With Chocolate Chips

My very nice co-teacher in school, Doris Fisher, bakes these muffins on a regular basis for her friends and family.  Luckily for me, she brought some in to school for me to sample.  They were delicious!  These muffins are a breeze to make and they freeze beautifully, too.  Enjoy!

for the muffins:

  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 16 oz. can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or 2 if you like a more cinnamony flavor)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray mini muffin pans (recipe makes 48 mini muffins)

In large mixing bowl, blend eggs, sugar, oil, pumpkin, and vanilla.  Whisk till nicely blended.  Then  and add everything else but the chips, mixing in just until blended with a rubber spatula.  Then add chips and fold in.  Scoop out batter into prepared pans, and bake 23-35 min till muffins are lightly browned around edges and toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal, Pecan, And Coconut Cookies

I combined a few of my kids’ favorite ingredients and came up with a yummy recipe for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie.  I used pecans in this recipe, but walnuts could be substitued.  I also used some white whole wheat flour, which you could either increase or decrease.  I am trying to “healthify” some of my recipes, and I really don’t know if it makes a difference with all of these very fattening ingredients!  These cookies are delicious at room temperature, but they taste really good when you eat them frozen, too.

  • 2 sticks unsalted or salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons kosher salt (If I am using salted butter,  I reduce this to 1  teaspoon)
  • 1 cup unbleached flour (I use King Arthur unbleached organic flour)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur Organic White Whole-Wheat Flour)
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 heavy cup coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Beat butter with sugars in electric mixer till fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla and mix.  Stop mixer.  Dump in flours, then pour your baking soda and salt right on top of your flours. Then on lowest speed, mix JUST until blended.  By hand,  fold in oats, coconut, nuts, and chocolate chips.

Drop dough onto prepared cookie sheet using a small spoon so that your cookies aren’t too big.  You can fit about 16 cookies on your sheet.  Refrigerate remaining dough in between batches. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 7-10 minutes until cookies are lightly browned.  Take out of oven; let set for a minute, transfer to wire rack to cool.  Repeat with remaining dough.  You can bake one or two dozen, and save remaining dough in fridge in a good tuperware container for about a week if you wish, or you can bake all of the cookies, and freeze a bunch of them.  This recipe makes about 6 dozen cookies.

*Here’s a great trick!  To avoid a step, I measure my flour, then pour it right into my kitchen aid bowl,  then I measure my baking soda and salt and drop it right on top of the flour in the bowl.  Then I turn the mixer on to low, and start mixing the dry ingredients.  This way, I don’t have to first measure my dry ingredients into a separate bowl.

**  You can exchange more white flour for the whole wheat, or you can try exchanging more whole wheat flour for the white flour.

Healthy And Delicious Roasted and then Broiled Haddock, Flounder, Halibut, Or Scrod

I made a simple fish dish for my son Danny and me this week.  I am experimenting with fish, and I am determined to cook fish at least 3 times a week to improve our diet.  I bought haddock fillets, which were unbelievably fresh, at my supermarket for only $5.99/lb.  I try to buy whatever is freshest and cheapest, normally.  Why not?  What is so great is that I can get this gourmet meal on the table in no time at all with such simple preparation.  I served the fish with fresh corn on the cob and a simple salad using prewashed fresh spinach and baby romaine, sliced strawberries, walnuts, and my own lemon vinaigrette. (You can find my recipe for this vinaigrette right on this web site.)  What an amazing light, healthy, and flavorful dinner!

for two people:

1 pound fish fillets (I buy whatever is on sale and absolutely fresh!)

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, butter, or margarine

2 tablespoons slivered raw almonds

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cover a half sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Lightly grease foil with oil. Place fish on foil.  Sprinkle  with salt and pepper, then liberally with lemon zest, then with thyme leaves, then with almonds, then dot with butter or margarine or drizzle with olive oil.  Roast for 7-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.  If you like, you can then place fish under the broiler for a minute or two at this point to just brown the almonds.  Be careful, if you do this, not to burn the fish or the nuts.  Serve with lemon wedges.

Semi-homemade But Delicious Chocolate Pound Cake

Whenever I want to make a cake on the spur of the moment, I make this cake.  I often have the ingredients in my house, and it takes about 10 minutes to get this cake in the oven.  If I’m bringing it over to someone’s house, I usually slice about half of the cake and put it on a platter, and then I keep the rest at home.  If I’m just making it for my kids, then I usually cut the cake into thirds. Then I slice up one third to serve for dessert that night, and I freeze each of the other two thirds unsliced, first wrapping in heavy duty foil, and then putting in ziploc bags. My kids love this cake!

    • 1 box Duncan Hines Deep or Dark Chocolate Cake Mix
    • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (low-fat is fine)
    • 3 extra large eggs
    • 1/2 cup corn or vegetable oil
    • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch processed)
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease sides, bottom, and tube of tube (angel food cake pan) or bundt pan.  In electric mixer, pour cake mix, eggs, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and cocoa.  Mix on medium speed until fully incorporated and pretty lump free. Pour chocolate chips in, and mix by hand until incorporated.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 45-55 minutes until cake has separated from sides, is springy to the touch, and a toothpick comes out clean.  (Your toothpick may run into some of the melted chocolate from the chips, so you may not be able to rely on the toothpick test to test for doneness.)  Cool on a cake rack.  When cake is fully cooled, run a knife around the outer edge and around the tube to separate.  Then lift the cake up.  Either cut it in halves or thirds right on the bottom of the pan.  Lift sections off the bottom.  Either slice or freeze.

***Cupcake Variation:  Omit chocolate chips, put paper cups in 2 standard 12 muffin pans, bake 20 – 25 min. till toothpick  comes out clean.

Homemade Dark Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

I made this delicious confection and brought it to a Chanukah party at my in-law’s, Marsha’s house, and people went crazy for it, especially my daughter Randi and my mother. The following week, I doubled the recipe for a Chanukah-Christmas dinner party at my friend Jim’s house. When I brought out the platter with these candies, they looked magnificent. The comment made was that they looked like they were made by Ina Garten or Martha Stewart! If you went to buy these at a fine candy shop, it probably would have cost at least $16.00 a pound. And these taste even better. They are much more delicious than standard macaroons, because they are soft on the inside! You must try them, especially if you want to give your family and friends an incredible treat.

I recommend doubling this recipe.

  • 3 extra large egg whites at room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
  • 1 7 oz. bag sweetened flaked coconut
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted *See note at bottom

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Put parchment paper or nonstick foil on 2 cookie sheets.

With electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites until foamy; keep mixer on high speed and add the sugar. Beat till you have soft peaks. Gently fold in extracts and coconut.

Drop by rounded teaspoons or tablespoons (depending on how big you want the candies to be) on parchment paper. Bake about 15 to 20 minutes until the coconut on top starts to be a little browned and the bottoms are slightly browned.

Let cool on baking pans. While they are cooling, melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl on a very low power level.

When macaroons are cool, take them off the cookie sheet one at a time. Then dip the bottoms and then turn them so the chocolate goes a little up the sides. I dip them so there is a pretty thick layer of chocolate on the bottoms. Then place them right back either on the parchment or on some new waxed paper. Place them right on the paper in the fridge for about an hour to set. They will release completely off the paper. Put them on a serving platter and keep cold until you serve them.

* The first time I made these I used all Guittard bittersweet chocolate morsels. The second time, I used a combination of Bakers bittersweet chocolate (in the box) and some semi-sweet chocolate chips. It came out delicious both times.

Miniature Pecan Or Walnut Tarts

You Will Love These Miniature Pecan Or Walnut Tarts!  

These are like miniature pecan pies.  The filling of these cookies is so delicious, and the crust is the best; it’s a rich cream cheese and butter crust.  These  little tarts are nice to use when you are creating your own assortment of cookies for a dessert platter.

 This recipe makes 24 miniature pecan or walnut tarts.

for the dough:

  • 3 ounces very cold Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup(1 stick) very cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • pinch kosher salt
  • pinch granulated sugar

for the filling:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together the filling ingredients by hand in a medium mixing bowl; set aside.

Make dough in bowl of food processor using the metal blade.  Put the flour, salt, and sugar in bowl and pulse one or two times.  Then cut cold butter and cream cheese into tablespoon size pieces and distribute over the flour mixture in food processor.  Pulse until comes together as a ball.  Flatten a little bit to make a round disk, cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Take out 2 miniature muffin tins.  Break off 24 small pieces of  dough.  Take each piece of dough and place them into the muffin tins.  Then, use your thumb or forefinger to press each piece of dough so that you make a crust that lines the bottom and sides of each muffin space. Use about a teaspoon to fill each crust with the filling.  Use up all of the filling.

Bake about 30 minutes until crust is browned.  Cool on wire racks.  Serve or freeze in ziploc bags.