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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Absolutely the Best Chocolate Cake Ever

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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.

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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!!

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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!

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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!

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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

Oats and Coconut Payasam

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Payasam is very similar to kheer. It’s called “kheer” in North India, while usually referred to as “payasam” or some variant thereof in South India. A lot of dishes are kind of like that: similar dishes, different names. Just to make things nice and confusing for the foreigner. But you get the hang of it pretty quickly!

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Anyway,  a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. And sweet, this is. Sweet and spicy and crunchy and smooth and creamy. Payasam (according to wikipedia) comes from a “peeyusham” meaning nectar or ambrosia… An accurate description.

You’re probably wondering, ‘okay, what is this, whatever the name is!?’ Well if you haven’t read my banana kheer post (shame on you), kheer/payasam is basically pudding/porridge made with various ingredients: usually some grain (or banana!), nuts, ghee, sugar, spices and milk.

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I got this recipe from VahChef at http://www.vahrehvah.com. His Indian cooking YouTube videos are hilaaarious and I highly recommend.

Oats and Coconut Payasam

Adapted from VahChef

1-2 tablespoons ghee

15-20 cashews, chopped roughly

1 tablespoon golden raisins

2-3 tablespoons of oats (I ended up using a bit more)

1/2 cup freshly grated coconut (You could probably use unsweetened desiccated coconut, or go ahead and test your coconut cracking skills)

2 cups or 500 mL milk

1 cup water

Sugar: I used 1 cube of jaggery and a sprinkle of granulated sugar. Original recipe says 1/2 cup sugar. Add to taste.

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Sliced almonds for garnishing

Heat ghee in a pot, add cashews and raisins and fry until the raisins puff up and cashews are golden brown.

Add the oats and coconut and stir until you can smell some coconutty fragrance/you see a slight color change. (2-3 minutes)

Add the milk and water and cook on low heat for a while until the milk reduces and the mixture thickens. You can add more water to dilute if it gets too thick.

Add sugar and let it melt; add the cardamom and take off the heat.

Sprinkle almonds on top and serve, warm or cold. Or room temperature. It will basically taste yummy in any form.

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This was so good. I wouldn’t really mind eating this for breakfast every day. I gave some of this to my neighbors and landlords in return for goodies that they gave to me! I got good reviews from them, so let that be your guide and just go ahead and make this. MmmmMMm.

Banana Kheer

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I’ve come full circle to why I started cooking in the first place, which was mainly to use up the bazillion bananas bestowed on us by my grandma who didn’t seem to accurately anticipate just how many bananas a family of four could eat in a week.

I have made so many banana breads in my life, I almost don’t even want to look at one anymore. Almost.

But, I’ve found a new, easy, delicious use for using up ripe bananas.

Enter: Kheer, a sort of pudding-like dessert flavored with jaggery/sugar, dry fruits (aka raisins, etc), nuts (usually kaju, or cashews but also badam(almonds) and pista(pistachios), and a yummy mix of spices. Yet another indian dessert that is malleable to many different versions (like halwa). Usually it’s made with rice; I replaced the rice with banana!

Banana Kheer

Adapted from what I watched my postdoc do:

3 large, overripe bananas, peeled and mashed/chopped

0.5 – 1 L milk (i’ve had success with both)

1-1.5 cubes jaggery (how sweet do you like it?)

1 tablespoon ghee (butter could work)

a handful of cashews, raisins

2 whole cardamom pods

Milk masala mix, which includes cardamom powder, mace, saffron, and nutmeg

Heat the ghee in a pan and toast the cashews/raisins, stirring quickly, until golden brown. Set aside.

Bring milk to a boil (watch that pot!!) and then add bananas; cook and continuously stir until the milk reduces a bit.

Add the jaggery and let it melt. Taste-test.

Continue to stir for a while until the milk reduces a lot and the mixture becomes super thick.

Add the spices (watch out, the milk may curdle. It’ll still taste good).

Finally, stir in the cashews and raisins, with the ghee.

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Enjoy banana kheer for breakfast, dessert, snack, lunch, dinner… if you’re like me and don’t mind having dessert for dinner sometimes.

Update:

Chocolate banana kheer!

Because… how could this not happen?

And it’s so easy!

Basically, towards the end of cooking, add 2-3 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Use a fork to stir it in so you don’t get cocoa powder everywhere. This also smooths banana clumps.

Let it continue to cook until desired thickness.

Bam. Chocolate kheer.

I didn’t have any, but I’d totally top this with whipped cream.

Now where’s the peanut butter? Because I’m getting more ideas…

Beetroot Halwa

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Tonight I finally used the six beets I purchased a while ago, then sort of forgot about.

I painstakingly peeled them and grated each one manually, making for very pink fingers.

Then, I ran out to the shop next door and bought some fresh Amul milk — 500 mL, in a little plastic pouch (TetraPak).

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Halwa is an Indian dessert that’s often prepared during festivals, like Navratri or Diwali (so I am told by Wikipedia). Indian desserts can be simple or super complicated — luckily, halwa is pretty easy! It’s basically beetroot pudding with cashews (kaju) and golden raisins, flavored with cardamom.

I’ve had lots of halwas in my day now, including carrot halwa, moong daal (a type of lentil/pulse) halwa, and suji ka halwa (semolina flour). This is my first attempt. Feast your eyes.

Beetroot Halwa

Adapted from Veg Recipes of India

3 cups beetroot, peeled and finely grated (about 6 small beets)

500 mL milk

2 tablespoons ghee

1 cube of jaggery (or 4-6 tablespoons of sugar)

1/3 teaspoon cardamom powder

15-20 whole cashews* (maybe extra if you’re prone to nibbling on cashews)

1 tablespoon golden raisins*

Combine the milk and beetroot in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir and boil/simmer until most of the milk is evaporated.

Stir in the sugar and ghee and cook a bit more until the milk is almost completely evaporated.

Add the cashews, cardamom, and raisins and cook until no more milk is left and it is cooked.

Ta da!

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Tender beetroot made into a delicious, and actually rather healthy dessert. This was so good. Going easy on the ghee and sugar (beets are sweet by themselves so not much sugar is necessary) makes for a very tempting dessert/snack.

*Next time, I would toast these in ghee before adding for extra flavor.

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Sunflower Seed Butter (Sunbutter) Ginger Chocolate Chip Cookies

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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.

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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.

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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.