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Have You Met My Friend, Chocolate Chip Cookie?

It’s here! It’s finally here! What, you ask? The one year anniversary (or birthday?) of Cookie Talk. Yes, folks, I’ve survived one year of blogging. I’ve learned so much, particularly about photography, and it’s been great hearing all the comments and suggestions. Blogs are such a wonderful way to share and connect with others. So thank you for sticking with me!

And what to do for the 1st Anniversary? Cookies, of course. Not just one cookie, but three cookies. To be fair, I’ve done one before, it was one of my very first posts, the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever, which is a copycat of the Levain Bakery from Lisa Michele. I’ve been making this cookie for about two years, feeling as though no other chocolate chip cookie could ever take it’s place. But all over the food world I see two other popular recipes: The New York Times recipe from Jacques Torres, and the Neiman Marcus “$250,000” cookie, or however much the rumor goes.

I was curious, and thus, came the challenge. I’d make all three chocolate chip cookies and the hubby and I, as well as a few of our more-than-willing friends and co-workers (“Hey, want to taste some cookies?” is a great way to win some friends), would do a blind taste test. It’s a rough job blogging. Really, tasting all these cookies was such hard work! Fine, don’t believe me.

The blind tasting for hubby and I was actually challenging, but probably not in a way that will garner any sympathy. We knew what went into each cookie and what each one looked like. But we tried to make it as objective as possible and even went so far as to blindfold one while the other took notes. But it was still pretty easy to guess which cookie we were tasting.

I learned a lot from this experiment, and was a bit surprised as well. I’m also working on my own chocolate chip cookie recipe, combining our favorites from each. But that’s a post for another day. Making the perfect cookie doesn’t happen overnight.

And the winner is (drum roll)…… The New York Times Jacques Torres, with Levain as a very close second. In fact, my initial favorite was Levain, barely, because I just couldn’t accept that my favorite cookie was being replaced. The more I ate the NYT cookie (yes, I’ve had several, which is not good for the waist line. See the sacrifices I make?) the more I liked it and the more I realized the Levain wasn’t as special as I thought it was. It was like learning you and your best friend have grown apart and now you have a new best friend who is much cooler and more compatible. It hurts a little. Until you have another cookie.

Now, I must point out that I have never had a true Levain cookie, or a Jacques Torres cookie, or a Neiman Marcus cookie. The Levain is a copycat recipe, which could completely change the results. So it isn’t a completely true competition, but hey, we’re doing the best we can. Someday I hope to go to New York and have Jacques Torres and Levain all in the same day. Probably with a tummy ache on the side.

Now, let’s talk about the differences in these cookies. All three are basic chocolate chip cookies: flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, butter, chocolate.  But they are all very different cookies, as you can see in the picture above. I used the same scoop, 3 TB, for each cookie and they baked very differently. The first is the Torres cookie, the second Levain, and the third Neiman Marcus.

Let’s talk first about the least favorite: The Neiman Marcus. Really, this cookie had no business attempting to compete against the other two. It’s not even in the same category. Two people did say it was their favorite, but most didn’t even like it all that much. The only redeeming factor was the chocolate-y-ness of it (and also that was by far the fastest to make), which came from the insane amount of instant coffee. It almost tasted like a Coffee Chocolate Chip cookie. But it was kind of dry, almost crunchy, and really not that special. It had the least amount of butter, only 1 egg, and was mostly brown sugar, which should have been a good thing. But it just didn’t measure up. Sorry, Neiman Marcus, your cookie isn’t even worth $2.50.

Next, the runner up, the Levain Copycat. After I made this recipe for the umpteenth time, I noticed Lisa Michele had updated her recipe to include less flour and more brown sugar, which is exactly what we thought it needed after tasting the NYT recipe. I had always used less flour than she suggested, and I always add vanilla. I feel it is necessary in a chocolate chip cookie. This is a great overall cookie. It is cakey and well balanced between dough and chocolate. If you were forced to eat this cookie for the rest of your life, you’d still be darned happy. It does dry out quite a bit the next day, which is one of the reasons it was forced into second place, but a few seconds in the microwave can help fix that.

And finally, the star of the Cookie World, the New York Times recipe courtesy of Jacques Torres. This cookie is a real show stopper. It is everything you want in a chocolate chip cookie and then some. And I didn’t even use the chocolate “discs” as the recipe suggests, which I can only imagine would make it even more delightful. This cookie had a lower brown sugar to granulated sugar ratio than the Neiman Marcus, but for some reason the brown sugar really stood out in the Jacques Torres cookie.  I don’t know why it stood out more in this cookie. I’m baffled. I’m also completely baffled at how it baked. I fully expected a bigger rise on this cookie due to the cold butter and the extra baking powder. But it didn’t. It spread and wasn’t cakey at all like the Levain. Have I mentioned I’m baffled? This goes against my basic knowledge of baking. Anyone care to help me out here? It must have something to do with the ratio of butter to flour to leavening agents. Or maybe it is because it is made with bread flour and cake flour? Help. Where is Alton Brown when I need him? I need to watch his Chocolate Chip Cookie episode again!

And back to the cookie. It’s crunchy on the outside. Gooey on the inside. A rich chocolate flavor with a caramel tasting dough. Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, how about sprinkling some sea salt on top to take you right over the edge into Chocolate Chip Cookie Heaven? Yup, that’s a winning cookie.

Let’s take another look at the cookies:

New York Times/Jacques Torres

Levain Copycat

Neiman Marcus

This was a fun experiment. It’s interesting to see how slightly different measurements can create a completely different cookie.  So what’s your favorite chocolate chip cookie and why?

Tips and Pointers: For each recipe I used Guittard chocolate chips, light brown sugar, unsalted butter, fine sea salt, King Arthur Flour, and a 3 TB scoop. I also could not bake and eat all these cookies at the same time, nor do I have enough friends to share all this dough. I recommend scooping each dough out, freezing the dough balls, and then baking when you are ready. If you freeze the dough and then try to scoop, you are likely to hurt your shoulder. Trust me, I learned the hard way. This also ensures that you can always have fresh baked cookies on a moments notice…which might not be a good thing.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

Neiman Marcus

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder (doesn’t sound like much, but it is!)
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chip cookies

1) Preheat oven to 300F. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy.

2) Beat in the egg and vanilla for another 30 seconds, or until combined.

3) In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds. Stir in espresso and chocolate chips.

4) Using your desired cookie scoop, drop onto a parchment lined cookie sheet (or silpat) about three inches apart. Gently press down to flatten. Bake about 20 minutes, or until brown. I think 20 minutes is too long and only baked for about 16 minutes.

Levain Copycat

  • 2 sticks ‘cold and cubed’ unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon good vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups AP flour – Spoon and Sweep method. I usually stick with 3 1/4 cup.
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon baking powder (just under 1 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups good quality semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2)  In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, cream together butter and sugars and vanilla until well blended and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time.. and beat until well incorporated.
3)  Add flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chunks, or add to the mixer at the very end on very low speed.
4)  Using a scoop, place each on sheet pan lined with parchment paper or silpat and bake in the preheated oven until very lightly browned, taking care not to over bake, about 14 – 16 minutes depending on your preference.

New York Times adapted from Jacques Torres

  • 2 cups minus 2 TB cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cup bread flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 TB granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 2/3 cups chocolate chips or discs
1)  Whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.
2)  Cream together sugars and butter until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing completely and scraping bowl after each addition. Reduce speed to low and very slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Add chocolate very carefully.
3) Scoop cookies onto baking sheet and chill for 24 to 36 hours. Wrap tightly.
4)  Preheat oven to 350F. Bake cookies 14 to 18 minutes depending on the size, until golden but still gooey.
5) Eat immediately and have another.
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Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate and Sea Salt – Football Food!

Today marks the first day of my favorite time of year – football season, which goes until the end of the holidays. I rarely  sit down to actually watch a game, but there is something I love about having it on in the background and my dear hubby enjoying watching his Alma Matter play their hearts out. The weather is starting to cool off, soon the leaves will be turning…it’s the best time of year!

And with football comes football food! I technically made these for a BBQ the day before, but they’d be great for game day. At a BBQ or any similar event you really need a food that is easy to pick up, no utensils needed. Smitten Kitchen saved the day yet again with these fabulous Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Ganache.They are very easy and very addictive. Well, addictive if your favorite combination in the whole wide world is peanut butter and chocolate. And mine is. I hope yours is too.

The batter takes about 10 minutes to make, including gathering up your ingredients (remember, I am slow with this part). It looks just like cookie dough, and I think you could probably actually drop these and make cookies instead.

Then you bake anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes, depending on how you like your edges and how hot your oven is. After it cools completely, make the ganache. If you live in the Oven, aka the South, like me, you might want to put the blondies int he refrigerator to chill, otherwise you’ll be waiting all night. I needed to sleep, so that was not an option.

Pour the ganache on top, sprinkle with sea salt if you so desire. I think it would also be very tasty with some pretzels crushed on top for some added texture and that salty sweet taste. And would also make it more manly than “sea salt”.

And try very hard not to eat them all at once. Thankfully I gave most of mine away and am only left with a few little pieces.  Enjoy, and Go Team!

Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Ganache

Courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

Blondies

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used all natural, fresh ground, honey roasted from Earth Fare)
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, see note**

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in middle. Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan, then line bottom of pan with parchment paper and butter parchment.

Beat together butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, about five minutes. Then add peanut butter and beat until incorporated. Beat in whole eggs and egg yolk.

Reduce mixer sped to low, then mix in flour until almost combined. Add in chocolate chips and beat on low until combined. Batter will be very thick!

Bake until blondies are deep golden, puffed on top and a wooden pick inserted in center come out with some crumbs, about 35 to 45 minutes.

Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours. Chill if needed.

Ganache
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 ounces)**
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

*1 1/2 tsp of coarse sea salt for topping

Put chocolate chips  in a heatproof bowl.

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over chocolate chips and let mixture stand for one minute. Mix with a whisk starting slowly in small circles in the center, slowly working your way out as the chocolate and cream combine.

Gently whisk in butter until it is incorporated, chocolate is melted, and a smooth mixture forms.

Spread ganache on cooled brownies. Sprinkle with sea salt (or pretzels, or nothing at all). Let cool until set. This may take a while if it is hot and humid out, possibly overnight. Chill for a short while (30 minutes tops) if you need to speed things up. Ganache is best at room temperature though.

Slice and enjoy!

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Lavender Cookies, With or Without Chocolate

After last week’s pie adventure, I needed something quick and easy. What is easier than sugar cookies? Not much. The oven took longer to preheat than it did for me to make the dough.


These are special with lavender added for that summer touch. They are good with or without chocolate, however, I prefer with chocolate (besides the obvious must-eat-chocolate-every-day) because it balances out the strong lavender flavor. Quite amazing how strong a mere tablespoon of lavender can be.

I made these very tiny, using a teaspoon scoop, as recommended by the recipe. It means you can eat more, right? Right. These would be perfect for an afternoon with the girls. Lavender is very girly, after all. Especially when you add a little chocolate. (But your male counterparts will like them too, even if they say they are too macho to eat lavender.)


The recipe comes from The Baking Sheet by King Arthur Flour, their subscription magazine (newsletter?). It was a housewarming gift from my dear friend (thank you!).

I changed the baking technique slightly and added vanilla. Because vanilla and lavender sound good together, which also means they taste good together.

Enjoy!

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 cups AP Flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TB dried lavender (if you use fresh, use more)
  • 1 1/3 cups dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350. Line two sheet pans with parchment or silpat.

In a stand mixer (hand held is fine too), beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until very fluffy, about 5 minutes (set a timer!). Add the egg, mix, scrape bowl, and mix again. Stir in the flour and salt, mix until almost combined, add lavender, and finish mixing.

Drop dough by teaspoonful, leaving about an inch between cookies. They won’t spread much at all. Bake until slightly golden on edges, about 11 minutes.

Cool completely on rack.

Once cool, melt your chocolate. I prefer a double boiler for this because it will also keep your chocolate soft while you are dipping. Plus, you are much less likely to burn as you would if you melted your chocolate in the microwave. Dip cookies in chocolate and set out on sheet pan to set. If you live in a hot and humid environment like me, it may never set. Chill briefly (very briefly) in the refrigerator to at least get them off the sheet pan.

Now grab a bowl of these dish with the girls.

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Bon Appetit Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

I’m obviously on a Bon Appetit kick.  This recipe is in the most recent issue, July 2011, in the berry special. I was crazy about the berry special in the first place and then I saw this treat.  It was 96 degrees the day I made this cake, which obviously is a great day to turn on the oven for an hour. You may think I’m crazy, but who could possibly resist a beautiful blackberry buttermilk cake? Not me, and it was worth the extra sweat to dig into this scrumptious summertime cake. And it is easy. Really easy. Yes, it bakes for a long time and heats up your kitchen. But it is worth it. This cake would be perfect of a summer BBQ/potluck type of event. No icing required and the fruit makes it healthy….right? I mean, doesn’t that look so delicious?

Oh, and one more thing. I got a new camera. That’s right, I finally got a DSLR,  Nikon D3100. No, I didn’t get it just to blog. I’ve been taking pictures of everything, but I do admit I am loving the improvement on my food pictures. I am just barely starting to learn how it works, and I have such a long way to go with staging. But, I’m still pleased with my improvement. What do you think?

Ok, on to the recipe!

Like I said, this recipe is very easy. I made it late in the afternoon and it was easily ready for dinner.

Blackberry Buttermilk Cake by Bon Appetit

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan and parchment
  • 2 1/3 cups cake flour (sifted, then measured) plus more for pan
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)
  • special equipment:

    Use a 9″-10″-diameter springform pan

Preparation

  • Position a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°. Butter pan; line bottom with a round of parchment paper. Butter parchment. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Arrange berries in a single layer in bottom of pan; sprinkle evenly with 1/4 cup sugar.

  • Sift 2 1/3 cups flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a medium bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup butter and remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar in a large bowl at medium-high speed, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and zest. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until incorporated. Pour batter over berries in pan; smooth top.

Aren’t the orange specks pretty?

  • Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 25 minutes. Note: My cake only took 1 hr, 8 minutes. You will see in the reviews some only took 40 minutes. So watch very carefully! A tester should not be crumb free, that is too dry!   Let cool in pan set on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a thin, sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen. Remove pan sides. Invert cake onto rack and remove pan bottom; peel off parchment. Dust top generously with powdered sugar and let cool completely.

The easiest way to flip is to first undo the sides of the pan, then put a cake board (you can find them in the cake decorating section at Walmart and Michaels, along with a slew of other stores. Well worth the money!) on top of the cake and just flip! Then you have this:

Dust with powdered sugar and you are the hit of the party! Don’t forget to save a piece for yourself….

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Pound Cake

If you haven’t seen the Italy issue of Bon Appetit, leave now and go out and buy it. It is an issue you will want to keep for reference and it has so many great recipes. I’ve already become addicted to the basic tomato sauce that is on the cover.

But this is a baking blog, so let’s talk about this pound cake. It’s in the beginning of the magazine and the official name is “Brown Sugar and Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Maple Espresso Glaze.” Whew, that’s a mouthful. I prefer to call it a Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake because, well, that is what it tastes like! A moist, delicious chocolate chip cookie disguised as a cake. I think it might be my new favorite. I even went out and bought a bundt cake pan just for this cake (with a Bed Bath and Beyond Coupon, I might add). And today everyone is waking up to the news that Osama Bin Laden has been killed by our Rock Star U.S. Military, so we need to do some celebrating. This cake will fit the bill.

It’s yummy, it’s easy, and it’s pretty. What more could you ask for in a cake?

The only change I made was I used only vanilla extract because I didn’t have any maple extract. But the maple in the glaze is subtle and just the right amount. I love the espresso specks in the glaze. Pretty, don’t you think? This cake would be a hit if you needed something for a potluck. You’ll be the star!

Brown Sugar and Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Maple Espresso Glaze

from Bon Appetit

Ingredients

Cake

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 cups all purpose flour, setting aside 2 TB for chocolate chips plus additional for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 12-cup Bundt pan. Spray pan generously with nonstick spray. Dust pan lightly with flour.
2. Mix chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons flour in medium bowl. Toss the chips thoroughly to make sure they are all evenly coated. Sift remaining flour with baking soda, baking powder, and salt into another medium bowl.
3. Using electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract and maple extract. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Mix in flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chip mixture. Transfer batter to prepared pan, spreading evenly.
5. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1 hour. Start checking the cake around 40 minutes and check every five minutes or so. It took 55 minutes for me. Another five minutes would have been too long.
6. Cool cake in pan on rack 30 minutes (I only left it in 10 minutes and it still turned out fine). Invert cake onto rack and cool completely.
Good to know: Mixing the chocolate chips with a little flour before adding them to the batter helps the chips stay evenly suspended in the batter and evenly distributed throughout the baked cake. Otherwise, they may sink to the bottom.

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
Combine powdered sugar, maple syrup, 2 tablespoons cream, and espresso powder in medium bowl. Whisk until smooth, adding more cream by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if glaze is too thick to drizzle. Spoon glaze decoratively over top of cake; let stand at room temperature until glaze is firm, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and let stand at room temperature.
I dare you to have just one slice…

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The “Can’t Eat Just One” Lemon Sugar Cookie

It’s spring time. Spring time screams for refreshing tastes, even in our cookies. Enter the Lemon Sugar Cookie. I don’ t know what it is about these cookies that makes them so good. I challenge you to eat just one! They are light, airy, lemony, and downright delicious.

And they are so fast to make. Like an hour, tops, including bake time. Can’t beat that, right? I got this recipe from culinary school, so I’m not sure of the original source. This cookie was also my first hands on baking test (and I got an A, in case you were wondering. I know you were!). And, these are not your traditional slice and bake type sugar cookies. These are drop cookies (so please don’t use this recipe for cut out cookies. It won’t work!) I used a scoop that was 1 1/2 TB. These would be perfect for a spring time picnic. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Lemon Sugar Cookies

Yield: about 2 dozen

  • 8 oz butter (2 sticks) room temp
  • 7 oz sugar (just under 1 cup)
  • 1 TB Brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 TB lemon zest
  • 1 egg, room temp
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 10 oz flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Additional 1 cup sugar as needed for rolling

1. Preheat oven to 375F.

2. Cream together the butter, sugars, salt, and zest in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment at medium speed for 5 minutes. Set a timer – the 5 minutes is very important to the fluffiness of the cookie!

3. Add the egg and vanilla. Mix until combined.

4. Whisk the flour and baking powder. Add to wet mixture and mix until combined. Careful not to overmix.

5. Line two sheet pans with silpat or parchment. Scoop cookies and roll in sugar. Place onto sheet pan and chill for about 10 minutes. Then flatten cookies slightly. Using a glass or ramekin is the easiest way.

6. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until slightly golden on the edges. Watch carefully – they can overcook quickly!

7. Let cool on rack.

8. Eat.

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Granola Bars

I’ve been making granola for a couple of years now. It’s great to sprinkle on yogurt or just have as a snack. However, this was my first time making granola bars. I was browsing through an old Food & Wine Magazine and found a delicious  recipe for granola bars. However, I didn’t have everything in the ingredient list, nor did I want everything in the ingredient list. So I modified it and came out with a very addicting granola bar. It’s not perfect, in fact, they are a bit gooey, but for a first time making these, I’m in love!

Here’s a link to the original recipe, Sticky Oat and Pine Nut Bars

I like pine nuts, but they aren’t my favorite. And I love pepper, but just not in my sweets. I can’t seem to get into the pepper and sweet thing (though I love chocolate and chilis…). So I took both of those out and substituted almonds and cinnamon. Ah, that’s more like it! Oh, and instead of dipping the bars in white chocolate, I put the chocolate in the batter.

These are super easy to make, the hardest part is waiting for them to cool!

Almond & Cinnamon Granola bars

Modified slightly from Food & Wine Sticky Oat and Pine Nut Bars

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped almonds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 oz white chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter an 8 inch square baking pan. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the honey and sugar and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until an amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the oats, almonds, cinnamon, and salt and cook, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the white chocolate. It will melt. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until bubbling and brown on the edges.

It will smell absolutely intoxicating at this point, but you must resist the urge to remove the bars from the pan! They need to cool completely in order to have any hope of staying together. Mine were gooey, so I probably should have let them cool longer, but it was just about impossible! They smelled  so yummy! After they are cooled, lift parchment from pan and move bars to cutting board. Cut into whatever size you desire. I did pretty small squares since they are sweet.

I found these to be a great pre-running snack, but I think they’d be great just about anywhere. Just wrap a bar in parchment and away you go!

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