Stovetop Chocolate Chip Cookies (With a Few Indian Twists)

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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.

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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.

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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…

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The second batch?

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Utter deliciousness.

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

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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.

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

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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….

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

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Check out that crusssstttt

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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!

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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!

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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.

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prebaked / posteggwash / readyformangia

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

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Portable strawberry shortcake. What could be better? I made these for my grandmother who loves strawberry shortcake, but at her senior living center, it’s either not made or not made “right,” and restaurants rarely offer this gem for a dessert.

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Fresh strawberries, rich butter and cream, zingy lemon zest, crunchy biscuit… In delectable cookie form. These are actually more scone-like than cookie-like, what with cutting in butter and barely-there mixing. Either way, these won’t disappoint… or last very long.

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Adapted from and seen on many, many blogs like Sweet Pea Kitchen and Martha Stewart

12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (2 cups)

2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (half a lemon)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Lemon zest of half a lemon

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2/3 cup heavy cream

Coarse sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375° and line a sheet with parchment.

Combine the strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons sugar and allow to macerate while you prepare the batter.

In a separate bowl, combine the 1/2 cup sugar and lemon zest by rubbing the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers until combined and fragrant. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add the heavy cream and mix until just combined. Don’t fret if the dough remains clumpy and seemingly unmixed; the macerated strawberries will wet the batter. [I added an extra tablespoon of heavy cream because I did fret, and this made the baking time much longer… by about 10 or so minutes!!! Do not do this!]

Fold in the strawberries. Dollop 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough on to the baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown on the tops and edges. Let cool on a baking rack, and devour as soon as possible.

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If you are a fan of cookies eaten minutes after their departure from the oven, then these are for you. Sadly, they tend to lose their crunch before long.

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But, that’s nothing an extra bit of whipped cream can’t fix.

 

Fudge Striped Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bites

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Little, itty bitty bite-sized morsels of peanut butter, pumpkin, and a little driz of chocolate ganache.

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Bite-sized is always the best.

Fudge-Striped Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bites

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, melted and cooled
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ounces dark chocolate chips
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream

Melt peanut butter and butter in a large microwaveable safe bowl, at 30 second intervals (stir in between) until melted. Yum.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice until nice and combined.

To the butters, add the LOOSELY measured brown sugar (NOT packed… woops), raw sugar and combine. Next add the pumpkin puree, and egg and mix. Stir in the vanilla.

Add the dry to the wet slowly, about 1/2-1 cup of dry at a time. It’ll get super thick (and delicious).

Chill 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. On a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, shape small amounts of dough into a ball and place about an inch apart (small amount = about half a tablespoon).

Bake about 8-12 minutes. (I accidentally used tightly packed brown sugar, so I added more pumpkin to even it out, which resulted in a longer baking time). Once golden brown on the bottom, remove and let cool completely.

Next, heat up the cream until it’s bubbling and steaming. Pour over chocolate chips and stir well until smooth and combined.

Drizzle or dip the cookies into the ganache. To drizzle, you may need to add more cream.

Let sit for about 30-60 minutes, so chocolate may set.

DEVOURRRRRRRR

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Yes, I trudged out into the snow to take these. Might I say, snow is not a bad backdrop! So much white light reflecting… All right, back to business.

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These little pillow-like-in-texture cookies are so delectable.

Delicious, with or without chocolate (but who doesn’t like chocolate? …except my brother). I used all-purpose flour to please the palates of those unused to the healthier, heartier taste of whole wheat flour (and to appease the throat of my bro, who says it gets itchy when he eats whole wheat… sadly) but these would definitely work with whole wheat pastry flour. They are perfect for parties (the inspiration to make them in the first place) and are just … pretty. They get a delicious crust on the bottom and are just … mmm. So good. Honestly, I couldn’t taste the pumpkin, though… Sadly. I wonder if my pumpkin pie spice needs re-filling. Pumpkin-flavor or not, these little guys were delicious.

Miniature Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

After scrolling through thousands (okay, like twenty) different cupcake recipes, it was decided that strawberry-lemonade shall be the flavor of the treats I would take to my high school French teacher’s mini-retirement/farewell party.

So cute! So delectable!

And they were a hit! Even my baker-extraordinaire French prof said they were delicious.

Mini Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Adapted from How Sweet Eats (I pretty much did it exactly as printed, but here it is for convenience)

Lemonade Cupcakes

makes 12 cupcakes or about 30 mini cupcakes

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour (I did half AP and half whole wheat pastry flour)

1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk

grated zest of two lemons (or 1 1/2 lemons, if using ginormous lemons from Costco)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs together until fluffy. Add vanilla and lemon zest. Mix on the lowest setting for a few seconds.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients.

Pour into paper-lined cupcake tins and bake for 20-25 mins at 350, or about 13 minutes for minis. Let cool, then frost. (I let mine cool overnight).

Strawberry and Lemon Buttercream

2 sticks of butter, at room temperature

3 cups of powdered sugar + 1 cup extra

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 -1/2 cup finely chopped strawberries

grated zest of two lemons

1-2 tablespoons of milk (just have on hand if needed)

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream butter until smooth. Add in powdered sugar slowly with the mixer on low, increasing to combine. Add in vanilla extract. At this point you need to separate the frosting in two. It all depends on how much you want to frost each cupcake. I choose to take about 3/4 of the mixture and make it strawberry, with the rest being lemon. Whichever you decide to do, leave the frosting for the strawberry IN THE MIXER. Put the frosting for the lemon flavor in a separate bowl.

For the strawberry frosting: once the berries are chopped, press them with a paper towel to just release any extra moisture. Add 1/4 cup of the berries and turn the mixer on high, scraping down the sides as you go. Being that strawberries have a high water content, you may need to add some (or all) of the extra cup of powdered sugar. This will depend on the water content of YOUR strawberries, so add 1/4 cup, then more sugar if needed. Repeat until desired flavor/consistency is readers.

For me, the strawberry frosting looked fine in the mixer, but when I tried to pipe it form a Ziploc, it began to separate. So I returned it to the mixing bowl (no small feat) and beat it some more with more sugar. Then I just dolloped it on (no patience for piping).

For lemon frosting: take the remaining butter mixture and either add it to a clean bowl of your electric mixer or a bowl large enough that you can whisk with some elbow grease. Fold in lemon zest and add milk if needed. I was able to do this by hand with a whisk (whisking VERY hard), but it will also work with an electric mixer.

To serve them, I dolloped a big blop of strawberry on the cupcake, and then a wee blop of lemon zest frosting on top of that, finally sprinkled with a few shreds of lemon zest. Beautiful! You’ll have lots left over. I’m thinking… dark chocolate whoopie pies with strawberry buttercream filling. Oh yeah. Or maybe I’ll just make more cupcakes.

These were SO good. My taste testers loved them–the whole wheat pastry flour gives them a kind of earthiness that pairs well with the strawberry frosting. The lemon-flavored cake was just DELICIOUS. Light, a tender crumb, almost melt-in-your-mouth. Pretty much fantastic on its own.

The strawberry buttercream, while troublesome to pipe (okay, well, I’ve never piped frosting before and am not eager to try it again) was just as delicious when dolloped…. or licked off the mixer beater. The strawberry flavor totally came through and the tartness of the strawberries matched the sweet icing beautifully. The lemon zest icing was a lot less finicky, and so delicious too–I think I am just a fan of lemon-flavored things in general. Lemon bars? Lemon Girl Scout cookies? Lemon poppyseed muffins? Feed me.

I’m also a fan of miniature-sized things; yes, I’m embracing that trend, of COURSE! These are two bite! Even one, if you are really hungry for some lemon/strawberry deliciousness.

The strawberry with the long stem in the picture above may make you think I went strawberry-picking. Alas, this was not so. It was actually a lucky find in a Costco flat of strawberries. Perfect timing for the photoshoot!

Grilled Pears with Honey and Bleu Cheese + Spinach Salad with Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette

Mm, pears. Mm, bleu cheese. Mm, lemon vinaigrette. Some of my favorite things (alas, no chocolate?) smooshed together into one dish. It is a salad, but very filling and perfect for a light summer dinner. Most of this can be (and was) eyeballed. I love not measuring stuff. How very unscientific of me. This is why I am not a chemistry major.

Grilled Pears with Honey and Bleu Cheese + Spinach Salad with Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette

Adapted from The Costco Connection, June 2012, p. 65

4 large, ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears

A bit of olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese

4 cups spinach (or mesclun greens)

2/3 cup (or less) extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon

a few twists of sea salt

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 garlic clove, minced, or 1 teaspoon chopped garlic

Heat up your grill pan on the stovetop (or if you are feeling the grilling season, go light up your grill. I was not). Cut each pear in half lengthwise and take out the core with a teaspoon, leaving a cute little circle. Brush cut sides with olive oil. Place pears on hot grill pan; heed the sizzle and let the magic happen. For a few minutes. I didn’t really time it. Just keep watching them and let it go for as long–and soft–as you would like, for the pears to get cooked and caramelized.

Melt butter in a little glass bowl and then add honey and mix.

For vinaigrette, mix everything from 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil to garlic with a whisk and season to taste. Toss with spinach.

Ready to plate?

Add a healthy amount of spinach, and place two piping hot pear havles on top. Brush with honey butter and top with bleu cheese in the little hole (see photo). Now, I didn’t do this, but wished I had after my dad did it to his: he drizzled more honey/butter on top of the bleu cheese, which really let the honey flavor come through and melted the cheese more.

This salad was so good! Pears and spinach are full of fiber, and healthy fats in the olive oil helped make this a filling meal. As an afterthought, I would add some toasted walnuts for extra crunch and flavor. I loved the grilled pears–grilling was a  novel way to bring out flavor in this fruit (at least for me), and pears + bleu cheese is just classic. The lemon vinaigrette complemented the spinach and the sweetness of the pears really nicely as well. Now I want more.

Eggs Florentine

First off, Happy Mother’s Day!

Second off, best brunch food after a walk through Brookdale Park and a quick trip to Shop Rite to get some eggs (among other things… since we never leave with only the items we came for)?

Creamy, lemony hollandaise sauce dripping down the sides of poached eggs, a bed of sauteed spinach, and a crispy toasted English muffin. Yum.

Eggs Florentine (to serve four)

Adapted from this recipe

3 1/2 oz butter (a little over 3/4 of a stick), cold, cut into cubes

2 egg yolks

1/2 tablespoon cold water

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

s&p

4 English muffins, split in half horizontally, toasted

4 large handfuls spinach

4 free-range eggs

Melt 2 1/2 oz of butter (eyeball it-ish or weigh) in a small saucepa, melt it slowly, and then remove from heat and set aside.

Bring a pan of water to a gentle simmer, and place a bowl on top (don’t let the bowl touch the simmering water) and beat the two egg yolks in this bowl until pale and thickened. Add water, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and black pepper and continue to beat for another 30 seconds. Mine scrambled a tiny bit but it was okay–just keep whisking and it should turn out fine.

Add half of the remaining (non-melted) butter to the egg mixture and stir for 1-2 minutes until the butter melts and thickens the mixture. Remove from heat and beat in the rest of the butter.

Slowly pour in the melted butter while whisking, until the sauce thickens.  Taste and season with lemon juice, pepper, and salt as needed. Keep the hollandaise warm by letting the bowl sit in lukewarm water.

Bring a large, shallow pot/pan of water to boil (to poach the eggs). When it hits a simmer, add a capful of white vinegar. This keeps the egg white from spreading too much. Add your eggs carefully one by one, dropping them in close to the surface of the boiling water. Let them cook for 3-6 minutes. Drain them on paper towels.

Meanwhile, in the empty pan you used to melt the butter, add the spinach 1 handful at a time and keep a lid on it to let the steam wilt the spinach. It’s amazing how much the spinach shrinks! The butter helps the spinach not stick and gives it some flavor. Add a bit of lemon juice if you desire.

Halve and toast the English muffins. Add some spinach, a poached egg, and drench drizzle hollandaise (mine came out kind of thick; not sure what I did wrong). Serve with pineapple, or strawberries, or a small garden salad!

This came out really yummy, a perfect Mother’s Day treat. The hollandaise was lemony and bright, and my dad even scraped out the bowl and ate it with a spoon. (Not telling him just how much butter went into that.) I love getting eggs Benedict at restaurants, but don’t think I’ve ever tried to recreate it at home.

I love eggs Benedict with spinach, and once I had it with lump crab meat at the Mad Hatter in Cape May–that was amazing. There’s something about breaking open the yolk, watching it slowly make its way down the egg and allowing the bread to sop it up that makes eating eggs Benedict as entertaining as it is delicious!

It may not seem like a lot to eat, but this meal is actually very filling. So delicious. And I learned to make a hollandaise sauce (for the most part. I could use some more practice!) and how not to poach eggs (uh… the liquid needs to cover the top of the eggs… hence the yolk visuals in these pictures. The lemon in the sauce adds a nice brightness to the sheer richness of the butter and yolk, contrasted with the crunchy-yet-chewy muffins and the tannin bitterness of the spinach.

My brother tried it and ate the whole thing, even after he thought the eggs would be scrambled (not a fan of the runny yolk) and is not usually into eating what I make. An accomplishment in itself!