Stovetop Chocolate Chip Cookies (With a Few Indian Twists)

20150516_180822

While I’m here in Mumbai, I really miss baking. And I really miss super dark chocolate. When I came across some ideas for making cookies on the stovetop, it was too hard to resist. So what if I lack some “essential” factors like a mixer, oven, vanilla extract (substituted with vanilla essence here — it smells different but serves the same purpose!), and real, > 60% cocoa chocolate chips? Make do with what you have. A good life mantra for more than just cookies, I think.

Snapchat--24923966648646985

And so, cookies on a pan it is!

The below recipe is assuming you’re cooking in 91 degree weather (real feel 109 degrees F), sweating bullets, and you plus your cookies are melting. If this is NOT the case, you can omit all the crazy “GOTTA MAKE SURE MY COOKIES STAY NOT-MELTED” steps involving air conditioning and whatnot.

Stovetop Chocolate Chip Cookies (with a few Indian Twists)

Adapted from Baketitude

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (which is easy in this insane summer heat)
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/4 cup grated jaggery
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons ghee
1 egg (or 2-4 tablespoons dahi [yogurt])
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons atta (whole wheat flour)
Optional: handful of rolled/quick/old fashioned oats if batter is too wet
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt, or less if your butter is salted

Combine the melted coconut oil and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence. Whisk in the cocoa powder. Pour into a flat container. Put in the freezer. It should harden pretty quickly. This is the beginning stage of chocolate chunks!

In the meantime, cream the jaggery, sugar, butter, and ghee. I’m not too sure about this ghee addition, it doesn’t cream very well. But it was in the original recipe and definitely adds another depth of flavor.

Add the egg and cream some more. Add the teaspoon of vanilla essence.

Now add the flour, salt, and baking powder. If the dough seems too wet add some oats.

Stow away in the fridge. Take out your chocolate chunks and with a knife, start slicing in chunks. They should crack into irregular shapes pretty easily. Get them down to a small-but-still-delicious size and then immediately stick back in the freezer. Coconut oil can melt in the blink of an eye so work quickly!

Go somewhere where there is A/C, turn it on, and let the room get cool. Bring in your dough and chocolate chunks. In front of the A/C, pour in the chocolate and combine thoroughly with the cookie dough. Quickly quickly put it in the freezer to chill.

On a nonstick skillet or dosa pan, spoon small balls, slightly flattened, of dough, about 3-5 at a time. Cover with as air-tight of a lid as you can find.

Cook over very low heat for 5-7 minutes. They might not look done on top but like most chocolate chip cookies, they taste better at this stage.

With a spatula, remove from heat and let cool.

20150516_180722

Ta da! Chocolate chip cookies!

The first time, I think my heat was too high and I also flipped the cookies – do not do this. It actually dried out the cookie. Ever have a dried out cookie (versus overbaked)? It’s edible but not ideal. Also, the coconut oil chocolate chunks will ooze out so it’s hard to tell if the bottoms are burnt or if they’re just covered in chocolate. Which, in my opinion, is not necessarily a bad thing…

1431778693500

The second batch?

20150516_180858

Utter deliciousness.

20150516_181504

Advertisements

Absolutely the Best Chocolate Cake Ever

IMG_20150119_184325

Basically after everything I bake, I say to myself, okay, no more baking, Sam, because really, it’s just not doing anyone any favors. So many (not everyone [hey if you live close to me please come by and get a piece of cake if you so desire], but lots) of my favorite people kind of live far away, and if I’m not baking cookies, well, it’s hard to mail anything else. Which means that I’m basically eating what I make. And my family, who are happy to eat it, but I know it’s not really *healthy* to be constantly making desserts to eat. Subsequently, I force myself to look only at the cooking/savory sections of cookbooks and not think about potential concoctions of flour, cocoa, sugar, and fat du jour.

20150119_184644

Hah. So I think all these things. And then I find myself feeling a little cabin-fevery, freezing, bored, unfocused.

Then, what happens?!?!!? I’m preheating an oven to 350˚F and greasing some pans and mixing wet separately from the dry and mashing avocado…

Wait. What?

Oh yeah. And I turned it into *THE BEST FREAKING CHOCOLATE CAKE + FROSTING EVER.* Also, it’s whole wheat and vegan, but… you SERIOUSLY would N.E.V.E.R. KNOW!      It’s just …

Absolutely the Best Chocolate Cake Ever

Adapted from Avocado Central

Cake:

6 oz high quality dark chocolate (i used a mixture of Baker’s bittersweet chocolate bars, and leftover dark chocolate bars. I’m a dark chocolate fiend. There’s plennnty of sugar to round it all out, don’t worry).

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3 tablespoons water

1 large Hass avocado

2 cups water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 cup granulated sugar-in-the-raw (or whateva sugar)

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 1/2 cups (or 300 g) whole wheat pastry flour (or all purpose)

1/2 cup ground flax seed (original calls for almond meal, but I was too lazy to make some)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

Frosting:

Here’s what *I* did, based on what I had on hand. Refer to original recipe for…well, the original recipe.

1.5 Hass avocados

2/3 cup powdered sugar

4 Medjool dates

1 banana

2 small packets of honey (either ‘borrowed’ from Panera, or 2 teaspoons form the jar you bought in honesty)

Several grinds of sea salt or a pinch or two of salt

Lots of cocoa (1/4-1/2 cup, or until it’s chocolatey enough. Original recipe does *not* add enough, for sure.)

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder

Strawberries and whipped cream for serving

Directions for cake:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease two 9 inch cakepans and dust with cocoa. Seriously. This will give it an amazing crunchy ‘crust’ (wrong word for cake but that’s what it is).

In a glass bowl, combine the chocolate, 4 tbs cocoa powder, and 3 tbs water and set over a pan of simmering water to melt. Stir and melt chocolate until combined and melted.

In a large, high-lidded bowl, add the avocado, 2 cups water, oil, 1 teaspoon espresso powder, the melted chocolate, almond extract, white vinegar, and the sugars. Tip: use an immersion blender to blend it all up, or food processor, or a whisk + strong arm muscles. Get that alllll good and blended.

In a separate, large bowl, mix flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt.

Add wet to dry and mix until just combined; don’t overmix even if there end up being little blobs of unmixed flour here and there. It won’t affect the taste or anything.

Pour evenly into the cake pans (this is where having a kitchen scale reallllly comes in handy) and bake for 45 minutes.

When a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, take out and allow to cool. 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a cake stand + plate (one for each layer) and let cool as long as humanly possible. AKA, like, barely an hour, in my case. In the mean time, do those dishes and whip up some frosting:

Frosting: 

In a food processor, add avocado, dates, and banana and mix for a while until as broken down as possible. Then add the rest of the ingredients and adjust to taste.

Put half the frosting on the middle layer, then put the second cake layer on top and frost the top of this. You really don’t need to frost the entire cake; the cake is supremely moist and delicious and you really won’t miss anything. Plus it lets the “crust” stay nice and crispy and delicious.

Decorate with strawberries (I removed the stem, then I cut each in half lengthwise, then again, to make hearts!). Serve with some whipped cream if desired and more strawberries!!

20150119_185652

It was actually kind of funny, in a “what a funny coincidence” kind of way. Today, my parents took my brother back to school. I was working on some grad school stuff and then decided to take a study [baking] break as I am wont to do. I made the cake (with only a few minor mishaps, including a little bit of a sea salt explosion and quick thinking of what I could replace almond meal with). I was thinking, how nice would it be to have some strawberries alongside? (chocolate covered strawberries are probably tied for favorite dessert in the world, the other being chocolate lava cake, and the other being strawberry short cake, and other being mint chocolate chip ice cream…) I decided I’d forgo them since we didn’t have any. I had just finished frosting the cake when parents walked through the door, my mom holding a Costco-sized container of strawberries!

20150119_185858

Such perfect timing.

Since I’ll be in India for my birthday this year, my mom had been secretly planning to give me some early birthday presents tonight. I had no idea but decided to bake a cake anyway… funny how things work out!

20150119_190125

Anyway.

This cake was like, I can’t even describe it, the freaking BOMB. Moist. Delectable. Crunchy, crispy edges, super moist. The frosting was the perfect consistency, and you can’t really taste the espresso but I think it definitely brought out the cocoa-y ness of the chocolate like it is supposed to do. Definitely recommend the strawberries as an accompaniment. You canNOT taste the avocado at all! It’s so, so, so, so, so, so good. I literally outdid myself. I really can’t believe how delicious it came out. Seriously, you’ll never need another cake recipe again. Drooling. Dying. Loving this.

Now I’m watching “Failure to Launch” for like the 27th time (it never gets old for me, one of those movies) and mellowing out the sugar/chocolate rush. Hey, I ran and walked in this bitter icy cold this morning. Chocolate cake is totally my dinner. I’ll go back to writing my lit review tomorrow. 🙂

Other chocolate cake recipes:
Beet Chocolate Cake (with peanut butter saucy frosting)

German Chocolate Cake (Vegan)

Chocolate Pudding Cake

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies

DSCN4752

So, uh, with eight days left until I returned home for Christmas break, I decided to go ahead and bake the bejeezus out of eight sweet potatoes. One potato per day: a perfect plan. My plan, however, was not perfectly executed, and I found myself with six baked sweet potatoes left… and just two more days til returning home to the dirty jerz.

DSCN4748

But, as life so happens, I found myself juggling six sweet potatoes and an invite to a cookie swap party.

Me: “I don’t know what to make… Coconut macaroons it is! Oh wait, I have… one egg… and… no coconut. Hmm…”

Friend (Elaine): “How about sweet potato cookies?”

Dingdingding.

DSCN4754

I laughed it off. Sweet potato cookies? What? Crazy talk!

So crazy, it just might work… (reference: The Master of Disguise.)

And work, they did. I was totally inceptioned. YUM. Other pros: One-bowl, lack-of-mixer-friendly, super easy for grad school.

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from this recipe
Two sweet potatoes, baked in the skin for 1 hour at least
Scant 3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup old-fashioned or quick cooking oats
1 cup sliced almonds (or pecans)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I cut up an 85% dark chocolate bar. I think these would also work with cacao nibs!)
Coarse sea salt, for sprinklage

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix butter and sugar together; use a pastry cutter if without a mixer. Mash in the sweet potato (without the skins). Add egg and combine.

Add dry ingredients directly to the wet, and then almonds. Drop by teaspoonfuls on parchment-paper-lined pan. Press out into flat discs slightly, then sprinkle chocolate chips on top (or alternatively, mix chocolate chips in to cookie dough first).

Bake 10-20 minutes (10-12 for original recipe; it took much longer in our defunct apartment oven). Once done, top with some sea salt while still warm.

DSCN4755

They were really flaky and yummy. Crispy on the outside, chewy inside, the chocolate merely a subtle accent without overpowering the sweet potato. They went over well at the cookie party (which was also super fun! And, all the delicious cookies were totally nutritionally balanced by carrot sticks and guac apps. We aren’t in the Nutrition Department for nothing)!

You can brag about the beta carotene content, flavanols from the dark chocolate, heartiness of whole wheat flour, extra minerals of the sea salt (barely enough to make a difference, but whatever)… and just neglect to mention the sugah and buttah. Well, at least, that’s what I did. Enjoy the yams. I mean, yums.

Cooking with Beer: Beer Bread and Vegetarian Chili

DSCN4414

So we had some nonalcoholic beer in the fridge that I purchased to recreate beer-battered squash flowers and beer-battered avocado fries and so, I used the magic powers of Google to find some uses for it (because just drinking it would be boring).

DSCN4407

I found two recipes — a beer bread recipe and a vegetarian chili recipe — that fit the bill. And both are easy as could be–essentially, you just throw everything together, let it cook or bake for a while, and sit back and enjoy an episode of Entourage or two on DVD. Simple.

 Lucky for me, the day I made these was uncharacteristically cold (around 75–it felt like a deep freezer after the >95 week we’d had earlier) and so having the oven and stove running was actually comforting instead of sweat-inducing.

DSCN4410

The bread came out delicious–subtly sweet from the brown sugar, with a delicious crust and tender inside. The chili was a bit of an experiment, and I’m happy to report it too hit the spot–three bean, tofu, spice-heavy. Just what the doctor ordered.

Chili and homemade bread. Perfecto comfort meal.

DSCN4411Without further ado:

Beer Bread

Adapted from this recipe

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

4 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

12 ounces beer

Oven: 350°F. Grease and flour a 9.5×13″ loaf pan.

Sift the flours and combine with sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add in the beer and stir to combine. Pour into loaf pan, smooth out, bake 55-60 minutes or until toothpick is clean when inserted and removed from the bread.

Optional: before baking, pour 2 tablespoons of melted butter on top.

Vegetarian Chili

Adapted from this recipe

28 ounces of canned tomatoes (or fresh)

1 15-ounce can garbanzos

1 15-ounce can kidney beans

1 15-ounce can chickpeas

1 cup or half a block tofu, crumbled

1 cup tomato sauce

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons cumin seed

1 tablespoon turmeric

sprinkle of parsley

spices to your liking (ginger, etc)

1 12-ounce can of beer

plain greek yogurt, for serving

Combine everything but yogurt in large saucepan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes. Serve with a dollop of yogurt.

DSCN4419

This was a really, really good meal. Satisfying. Vegan if you omit the yogurt. See the melty butter (er, earth balance)… mm. It’s melty because that bread is still warm from the oven–what a rare luxury to eat homemade crusty bread. No wonder it’s all gone (within two days). The beer bread goes deliciously with the chili… even if it’s not a cold winter night. Summer has some chilly days too. And the chilly days are perfect… for chili. See what I did there…?

Banana Bread: Sugar Free, Grain Free

 

DSCN4389


Back to the dish that started it all.

The humble banana bread. I think this was the first thing that I made, as a kid, “all by myself.” It was tasty, and used up the bananas we had from Grandma Huey. Oodles of banana breads have come out of my kitchen: sugar-free, fat free, sugar-/fat-laden, with/without nuts, mashed bananas, pureed bananas, with/without raisins, but never with chocolate, oddly.

Usually they were spot-on. Sometimes they were lumpy, with all the goods sinking to the bottom. Oftentimes they were seemed cooked on the outside, only to reveal a doughy mess on the inside. The tried-and-true banana bread, from the Family Fun cookbook, contained too much butter and sugar for my liking.

DSCN4388

And then I came across this recipe!

Perfect. Only dates and bananas sweeten this batter. Six eggs are a must to moisten the ever-absorbent coconut flour. Coconut flour is fiber-rich, and soaks up liquid like nobody’s business. Almond meal makes up the rest of this bread. According to the original author, one slice has 150 calories, 18 carbs,  4 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein — not bad, plus tons of vitamins and minerals from the whole foods included in this bread. There’s no added fat to boot! Could this be possible?

DSCN4392

Yes. This banana bread was unbelievable light, fluffy, airy… and still moist and tender. Delicate, but sliceable/won’t fall apart. Its subtle sweetness, a perfect complement for jellies or preserves.

Enjoy.

Banana Bread: Sugar Free, Grain Free

Adapted from Girl Gone Country

Scant 1 cup raw almonds

4 small bananas (totaling 10 ounces)

6-8 pitted Medjool dates (totaling about 5 ounces) (soaked is ideal, but not necessary)

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon vinegar

1 teaspoon baking soda

6 tablespoons coconut flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Use a silicone pan or line a loaf pan with parchment, or grease/flour a loaf pan (9 x 13)

Add the almonds to the food processor and process until meal-like (about 2-3 minutes).

Add everything else but the coconut flour and process for 1 minute.

Break up any clumps in the coconut flour with a fork, and add to mixture. Process for 30 seconds.

[If you want, sprinkle some raw almonds on the bottom of the loaf pan before you pour in the batter for a garnish!]

Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake 55-65 minutes.

Done when a toothpick or knife comes out clean.

Top with Earth balance (or butter, or coconut butter) and jelly, or peanut butter, or whatever your stomach desires.

DSCN4397

Absolutely delicious! The texture is just amazing. Even though I burnt the outside (first time using my pretty new IKEA silicone loaf pan), it wasn’t noticeable and the inside more than made up for it. Definitely will keep this recipe in the “make again” list.

DSCN4386

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Zucchini Tarte Fine (with yogurt-based, whole wheat crust and yogurt-pesto sauce)

DSCN4354

I think my favorite way to cook is to…

A) Use up ingredients that are… on their last leg.

B) Use up ingredients that are in major surplus.

C) Cook an ingredient that I have never cooked before… or better yet, seen!

D) All of the above.

DSCN4357

Answer D. But today, we’re having fun with C.

DSCN4359

I guess Yellow Zucchini isn’t totally outlandish. But I’d never seen it before. Zucchinis are green! Not only was this yellow, this zucchini was yellow — super bright, golden yellow, even more so than our mainstay summer squashes.  I got one from a local farmer’s market, but I didn’t know what I’d do with it. It would have to be something interesting, new, exciting….

DSCN4362

So I did a little digging and found this lovely recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini.

DSCN4363

Check out that crusssstttt

DSCN4373

But as usual, I did some tweaking.

Yellow Zucchini Tarte Fine (with yogurt based, whole wheat crust and yogurt-pesto sauce)

Adapted from Chocolate and Zucchini

Crust:

180 grams or 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

120 grams or 1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, cold, diced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

Topping:

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

1 cup yogurt, mixed with 1/4 cup basil pesto

a dozen fresh basil leaves

1 yellow zucchini, about 10 ounces or two very small zucchinis, mandolined into thin rounds

salt to taste

Place flour in a medium bowl, and make a well in the center. Add yogurt and diced butter and salt. Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut the butter (by slicing the knives together) and combine with flour. I eventually used my hands to really get that butter merged with flour–not sure if this is proper, but it worked. Form into a small disc and wrap in plastic wrap; chill for an hour or up to a day.

Allow the dough to come to just below room temperature. Place on parchment paper, add another piece of parchment on top, and roll out thinly. Crimp the edges.

Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds all over, and place parchment paper back on and roll a few times to ingrain them into the dough. Yay sesame-seed-flavored, crunchy crust!

Leave the top piece of parchment on. Put baking beans all over to weigh it down, or dried kidney beans. You can probably leave them off if you don’t have any.

Bake at 360° (not 350!) for 25 minutes.

Beat egg. Brush egg wash on crust. Bake two more minutes.

Allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, grill zucchini, or leave raw, if fresh enough; I chose to grill.

Next, spread the yogurt mixture thickly all over. Top with zucchini rounds. Sprinkle basil leaves and leftover sesame seeds, if you have them, on top. Cut with a kitchen scissor (my favorite apparatus for pizza and the like) and SERVE!

DSCN4380

So good. The crust–flaky, light, delicate yet rustic, which superb flavor from the sesame and butter. The crust held up well, even after a few hours of having been assembled with the topping ingredients. You can’t even tell yogurt is in the crust. Whole wheat pastry flour wins again!

DSCN4376

Combination of ingredients–also delicious. The caramelization of the zucchini rounds truly brought out their sweetness and elevated the dish. Just a wonderful play of flavors and textures. Would totally make again.

tartecollage

prebaked / posteggwash / readyformangia

Sunflower Seed Butter (Sunbutter) Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

DSCN4330

Sunflower seed butter is made from roasted sunflower seeds. NOT RAW. Found this out the hard way… after trying to pulverize raw sunflower seeds in the Vita-Mix to only come out with grayish, powdery, thick … something.

I roasted the unappetizing mess at 350° for 25 minutes to try to redeem myself, and it worked! The roasted seeds dispersed their oils beautifully, and in no time I had roasted sunflower seed butter. Two cups. From 12 ounces of seeds.

DSCN4336

What to do, what to do? Besides shoveling it in by the spoonful taking little licks from the knife?

A paleo cookie! Naturally. A paleo cookie = a flourless cookie, usually made with a nut butter, an egg or two, some baking necessities (powder, soda, vanilla, etc), a little bit of sweetener and some spices. Generally, a very delectable treat. However, something kind of turns me off from eating what is basically straight-up nut butter in cookie form. Filling yes, but high in fat… Even though it’s good fat. I like to have fifths seconds or thirds of desserts like cookies… especially healthier cookies.

So, this led to the addition of oats! No longer strictly paleo, but I don’t subscribe to any one “diet/lifestyle” and just eat what I find works for me. And I LOVE oats.

And what goes with peanut butter, or sunbutter?

… Ginger. Obviously.

Oh, and chocolate.

 

Sunflower Seed Butter (Sunbutter) Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Eat Well, Adventure Well

1 cup sunbutter (or other nut butter) (I used my homemade one, to which I added some sea salt and roasted flaxseed)

1/3 cup honey

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon

dash salt

1/4 cup minced ginger, chopped finely

1 to 2 cups oats

chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a pan with parchment paper.

Mix everything but the oats and chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl. Add the oats, more or less depending on the consistency and how you prefer your ratio of oats to nut butter.

Dollop the “dough” by the tablespoonful and top with 4-5 chocolate chips per cookie; press down to flatten a bit.

Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

DSCN4331

These were SO good… Really, truly reminiscent of the texture of Kashi cookies (but of course, much better). They are lightly sweet, and the crystallized ginger adds to much depth and deliciousness. The small amount of chocolate on top is perfect–just enough, not overdoing it.

Plus, they’re vegan [if you sub maple syrup for strict vegans], babe. Even if no longer Paleo.