Fluffier Chocolate Chip Cookies

I tried a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that includes a bit of cornstarch in it.  I also used unsalted margarine instead of butter since my grandson may have a dairy allergy.  The cookies came out soft and fluffy and delicious.

  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks unsalted Fleishmann’s margarine, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1 extra large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 scant teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached organic flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips

Mix margarine in mixer till quite soft.  Add sugars and beat till fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and mix till fluffy.  Add dry ingredients just until blended.  Add chocolate chip cookies.

Bake at 350 degrees till just beginning to brown around the edges.

Amazing Chocolate Cake

It was my daughter’s anniversary today, so I decided to make a yummy dinner for her and her husband (and kids).  For dessert, I decided last night that I’d make a chocolate cake that I’d been eying the recipe for.  It is known as “That Chocolate Cake” and I found it on the Scharffen Berger web site and on Tastespotting. This cake was everything I was looking for, and it was super simple to make.  I believe this recipe is almost exactly the same as the recipe I’ve made for chocolate cupcakes (Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe) except that it calls for no vanilla. I followed it pretty much exactly as it appears on the web site listed above, except that I added vanilla.  The finished product was magnificent.  The cake was really dark, moist, but light at the same time.  The icing was bittersweet and creamy, but I prefer to use my own recipe you will find on this site under “Judy’s Famous Birthday Cake.”

Recipe is adapted from the Scharffen Berger recipe – “That Chocolate Cake.”


for the cake:

  • unsalted butter (for greasing pans)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup SCHARFFEN BERGER Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder (I used this brand of cocoa and after tasting the cake, I’m a huge fan of it! But I also use Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa and it’s great)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (I used aluminum free- Rumsford)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup  oil (I used light olive oil or canola)
  • 1 cup whole milk (I used organic)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 This is one recipe, but I prefer the chocolate icing from Judy’s Famous Birthday Cake  for the frosting which can also be found on this site:

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (I used a heavy 1 1/4 cups since I did not use the 99% unsweetened chocolate the original recipe calls for, but totally unsweetened chocolate)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I used organic)
  • 5 ounces  (squares) Baker’s unsweetened chocolate
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter (I used organic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, but I feel that is too much)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon  kosher salt (the original recipe does not call for salt)

make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter the bottom of  a 9 by 13 inch rectangular pan or two 9-inch round cake pans. My cake pans are amazing- they have a bottom that comes off the sides so I never have to worry about getting my layers out of the pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a hand held mixer or with a whisk, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, mixing on low speed just to combine. Mix in the eggs, oil, and milk and vanilla.

Increase the speed to medium and beat for a minute or two, scraping the bottom a few times. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the boiling water. The batter will be soupy, but if you mix it on low for a minute, it will thicken up a little.

Pour into greased rectangular pan or divide the batter evenly between the 2 round cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the cake starts to separate from the sides and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 15-30 minutes.  Then you can frost.  If using round pans, then run a knife around the edges of the pans turn the layers out onto the rack and cool completely. I just take the sides off my pans to finish the cooling, because the cake is a little fragile at this point.

 Start making the frosting while cake is baking or at end of baking, because it will require about 15 or 20 min. to firm up enough to use.

see Judy’s famous birthday cake recipe for favorite chocolate frosting.

make the frosting:

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and cream and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring almost constantly.  Turn flame off and add the chocolate.  When almost completely melted, add the butter and stir until melted. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the vanilla. Immediately place in the fridge to start firming up.  Every 15 min. or so, mix the frosting with a rubber spatula and place back in fridge.


to frost the cake:

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread the frosting with a palette knife or icing spatula. Spread about 3/4 cup of the frosting over the top of the first layer. Top with the second layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.  Cover with a good quality of plastic wrap that won’t stick to the icing and take any off the cake, and refrigerate cake until you serve it.

Croissant Bread Pudding With Chocolate Chips

I recently watched an old episode of Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello, and he made a luscious looking bread pudding.  I made a few changes to his recipe, and I really loved the results.  What is remarkable about this recipe is that it is so easy to make. Below is my version of his recipe.

  • 12 plain croissants (I bought mine at Costco) (let sit unwrapped for a few hours before you use them)
  • about 15 oz. of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 stick butter
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions:

Generously grease a large 10 by 13 pan- sides and bottom- with butter.  Tear croissants into 1 inch pieces- maybe about 4 or 5 pieces for each croissant.  Put all pieces in prepared dish.  Then sprinkle the chips all over.  Toss lightly with your hands or move the some of the top pieces so that some of the chips slip through. 

Prepare the custard by melted the stick of butter in the microwave in a mixing bowl large enough to eventually fit all the custard ingredients.  Let cool a few minutes or stick in the fridge to cool for about 5 minutes.  Then, add the sugar and mix.  Add the cream, and then the eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Whisk till  blended well. 

Ladle the custard mixture over the croissants and chocolate chips.  Push the croissants down lightly with your hands to submerge as best as possible in the custard.  Cover with aluminum foil.  Refrigerate until ready to bake. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake (still covered in foil) in center of oven for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.   Uncover and let cool for a few minutes and serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

***If you are baking this at home and then bringing it with you, put it on a half sheet pan after it comes out of the oven, keep it covered with the foil until you serve it. 

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Icing

My grandson Noah’s third birthday was coming up, and my daughter Randi asked me if I wanted to make the cupcakes.  I think she knew what my answer would be.  I just needed to find the perfect recipe.  After reading many blogs about cupcakes, I couldn’t decide between a recipe from the Hershey’s website which Hershey’s calls, “Perfectly Chocolate Cake” and a recipe called “that Chocolate Cake” on the Scharffen Berger web site.  It was then that it dawned on me that they were literally the same, except that on the Hershey’s site, the recipe calls for 2 tsp. of vanilla, and on the Scharffen Berger web site, their recipe calls for no vanilla.  I compromised and settled on using 1 tsp. of vanilla.  I also changed the recipe by using extra large eggs and corn oil rather than canola oil.  No reason- I just grew up in a house where corn oil was used.  I used Hershey’s cocoa as that’s what I’ve got in my pantry-  I have both Hershey’s natural cocoa and Hershey’s special dark cocoa, so I used a combination of both- using a bit more of the natural than the dark.  I was “perfectly” happy with this recipe for the “Perfectly Chocolate Cake.”  This is so easy to make- I think just as easy as a mix- because you are doing it all in one bowl- practically just dumping the ingredients in.  The batter is very thin, so I ladled it into my muffin cups.  The result was very dark chocolate cupcakes, and very light- which was exactly what I was looking or.  My daughter compared the experience of eating these to eating Hostess chocolate cupcakes- only much better!  I used a standard recipe for vanilla icing which I adapted from The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.  These cupcakes are amazing!

 Ingredients:

2 cups sugar1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa (I used a mixture of natural and dark)1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 eggs (I used extra large) 

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used corn oil)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (original recipe called for 2)

1 cup boiling water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 12 muffin pans with muffin cups.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl of standing mixer.   Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans (I used a ladle, but I think next time, I will pour the batter into a large bowl I have which has a spout, so that I can just pour the batter right into the muffin cups.Bake 22-25 min. or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with vanilla frosting (which will  follow shortly).   Vanilla Frosting:1 stick butter, softened4 cups confectioners sugar1/4 cup regular milk 1 teaspoon pure vanillapinch of salt if using unsalted butterDirections:  Put softened butter in mixer.  Mix with paddle.  Add 10x sugar, and mix, add milk, vanilla, and salt, and mix till smooth.  This makes enough for 24 cupcakes.