Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love a good chocolate chip cookie. Who doesn’t? For years, I’ve tried finagling Paul into letting me post this recipe, and he finally relented and let me! I guess it’s a closely guarded secret, even though he told me that his family originally found it in Good Housekeeping.

So, I don’t know where this original recipe came from, so I can’t post a link, but I got it from Paul, and he says he got it from Good Housekeeping. That’s the best I can tell you.

But friends… this is the inimitable, unparallelled, and incomparable chocolate chip cookie. Now, I’m not saying it’s the best cookie in the world, but for a classic chocolate chip cookie (none of those add-in’s or fancifying ingredients like chocolate chunks, browned butter or flaky sea salt for garnish) this cookie, in my humble opinion, is about as good as it gets.

It’s a classic. It’s easy to whip together, it’s loaded with chocolate chips, they bake up in less than 15 minutes, and they are soft and chewy, with just the right amount of crisp texture on the bottom. What can’t this chocolate chip cookie do?

So, grab a big glass of milk, turn on your favourite movie, and bake these puppies up. They are one of my ultimate comfort foods, because I can never feel anything but happiness when I eat one of these. Trust me, you’ll like them too!

P.S. If you are anything like me, bake a double batch.

Ingredients

Yield: About 1½ dozen (18) cookies

½ c. shortening
½ c. sugar
¼ c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour, sifted
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the shortening, sugars, egg, and vanilla until well-combined and smooth.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, and blend well again. Add the chocolate chips, and fold in.

**This is an optional step, but it works well to make sure your cookies don’t spread too much.** Refrigerate the cookie dough for 15-20 minutes.

Drop by the tablespoon, about 4 inches apart, onto your prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, until the edges are slightly golden brown.

**Important!!! Keep an eye on your cookies as they are in the oven. I mean SLIGHTLY golden brown. If they get too brown, the cookies will end up tougher and not as chewy. The slight golden colour means that the bottom has set up. The cookies may not look “done” on top, but I promise, the residual heat from the oven sets up the cookies and turns them into delicious, chewy, soft masses. Trust me!!!***

Remove from cookie sheet immediately and cool on a wire rack. Eat warm or cooled to room temperature.

If you are feeling daring, or you like a bit of crunch in your cookies, feel free to add ½ c. chopped nuts to your cookies when you fold in the chocolate.

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Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Rhubarb is a classic summer flavour, and thanks to my parents, I have a pretty much never-ending supply. They have an absolutely massive rhubarb plant that seems to produce twice as much rhubarb than the year before!

I feel like I never know what to do with it all, so I freeze it, so just in case inspiration strikes in the middle of winter, or early spring, I have rhubarb on hand so I’m not left waiting six months to make a recipe.

When I called my parents for a visit, my dad said, slightly menacingly, “Bring a cooler”. Apparently, they have upwards of 10 bags of rhubarb for me. That’s a heck of a lot of rhubarb. I’m going to have rhubarb coming out of my ears for the next few months.

Either way, I knew I was going to be getting a lot more rhubarb soon, so I figured I should try and use up the rest of the rhubarb I currently have. This cake hits the spot exactly.

I made a few changes to this original recipe, but they were small. I used both vanilla and almond extract, and I added some cinnamon to the cake so it had a bit of a spice cake feel, and I also left out the strawberry jam called for, because Paul is allergic. I have reflected these changes in the recipe below, and the cake still turned out beautifully.

If you are a rhubarb fan, and have some rhubarb to spare, make this cake! You won’t regret it.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9-inch cake

For the rhubarb layer:

3-4 c. fresh or frozen and thawed rhubarb
¼ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon

For the cake:

1¼ c. flour
½ c. ground almonds (almond meal or almond flour)
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ c. butter, softened
¾ c. sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. almond extract
¾ c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spray a 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

To make the rhubarb layer, in a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the bottom of the pan, then add the rhubarb, spreading in an even layer.

To make the cake, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and almond extract, and beat again.

Add the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk. You should begin and end with the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan over the rhubarb, spreading the batter smooth on top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack, in the pan, for 30-40 minutes. Run a knife along the sides of the cake pan while cooling to make sure the cake will pull away from the sides of the pan. Once cooler, invert onto a serving platter or cake stand, lift off the cake pan, and peel off the parchment paper.

Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Fluffy Japanese Cheesecake

Hello lovelies!!

This is a recipe I’ve been wanting to make for a VERY long time, and I’ve finally gotten around to it! (Thank goodness being a teacher in the summertime!)

So, I love cheesecake. And in my downtime, I shamelessly watch a lot of YouTube videos, focusing mostly on Buzzfeed, and more specifically, their Tasty Videos. Now Buzzfeed’s Tasty (from what I can glean from watching their videos) is a bunch of cooks and chefs that pump out videos about FOOD. All the food. They do sweet, savoury, quick, slow, and all the food hacks you might ever need.

One of my favourite videos, and one of the most intriguing, was this fluffy Japanese cheesecake. It looked AMAZING. Tall, fluffy, soft, dark top, light sides…. It just looked great. So when I saw it, I was immediately interested because of Paul. You see, I love cheesecake. Love it. But Paul? Not so much. He is not a huge fan of the texture of cheesecake (but I still love him! Everyone has faults! Ha!), so I began thinking about whether or not he would like this specific cheesecake.

Because it has so much less cream cheese, and so much more meringue and air in it, I knew that the texture would be a whole different ball game. There was a chance I could be successful!

Oh my word, guys. The only thing I changed from the recipe was add about a half-teaspoon of lemon extract, because I wanted the cheesecake to have a little bit of flavour.

**Update: I made a Mocha version of this cheesecake, and it turned out beautifully! I followed the exact same base recipe, except added 2 tbsp. espresso powder in with the milk, cream cheese and butter mixture, and ½ c. of cocoa powder in with the flour and cornstarch. It turned out a luscious, chocolatey, hit-of-coffee confection. I’ve added a picture of this version below. **

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9-inch cheesecake

½ c. milk
4 oz. cream cheese (half a block)
7 tbsp. butter
8 egg yolks
¼ c. flour
¼ c. cornstarch
13 egg whites
2/3 c. sugar
½ tsp. lemon or vanilla extract (depending on flavour preference)
Icing sugar, for garnish.

Preheat oven to 320°F.

Line the bottom and sides of a springform pan or 3 inch tall cake pan with parchment paper. (If the parchment paper is curling badly, I’ll rub a TINY amount of margarine on the side of the paper that will face the pan edges.) Set aside. If you use a springform pan, wrap the bottom in 2-3 layers of aluminum foil to keep out the water.

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream cheese, and butter on medium heat, and whisk until smooth and combined. Take off the heat and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks until incorporated. Slowly whisk in the cooled cream cheese mixture until incorporated and smooth. Sift in the flour and cornstarch, and whisk again, making sure there are no lumps. If using lemon or vanilla extract, add to the yolk mixture, and whisk again.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly start adding the sugar, a little bit at a time, and whip on high until stiff peaks form.

Add ¼ of the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture, and fold in gently with a spatula, until you have a cohesive batter. Be gentle, because we want to keep the air we just beat into the batter!

Repeat with the remaining egg whites, until you have a smooth batter with all the egg whites combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap once or twice, gently, on the counter to pop any large air bubbles.

Use a baking pan or dish that is larger than the cake pan you are using, and place two paper towels on the bottom. Put the cake pan in the middle of the paper-towel lined pan, and fill with hot water, no more than an inch up the sides.

An easier way to do this is place the baking dish in the oven with the paper towels and your cake pan, then add the hot water into the pan while the oven door is open. This reduces the risk of hot water burns.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, then turn down the heat to 280°F, and bake for an additional 55 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and carefully, invert the cake onto your dominant hand to remove it from the pan, and take the paper off, then revert back onto a cooling rack.

If you are using a springform pan, just remove the foil and the sides. Leave the cake to cool before trying to invert and remove the paper from the bottom. (I learned the hard way. I tried the original way, suggested above, and deflated my cake a bit. 😦 Sad day.)

Sprinkle icing sugar on the top of the cheesecake for garnish.

Slice, and enjoy! Many people say to enjoy a slice of this warm or cool, so it’s your choice!

Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

Hello lovely readers!

I have never done just a frosting post, but with this frosting, I couldn’t help it!

Last week, one of my beautiful friends, Emma, got married! It was a small wedding, but a very touching one. Well, I have known this amazing girl for the past 10 years. We met on the first day in the first class of university, and the two of us, along with another phenomenal friend Breanna, have been close ever since. We also got into a little tradition of taking a picture of the three of us at each of our weddings. I know, we are pretty freakin’ adorable.

Anyways, I digress. I was asked to help out with the wedding! I put my Teacher-in-July time to good use, and made paper flowers for the centerpieces, a decorative paper flower bouquet, and I was the exclusive cupcake provider for the wedding!

It was an amazing honour to be able to provide the cupcakes for the wedding, and I couldn’t be happier for this wonderful human I am lucky to call a friend. Cheers to you, Emma!

For dessert, I provided twelve dozen cupcakes. Six dozen were London Fog cupcakes; that is, my Earl Grey Tea cake to which I added a simple vanilla buttercream frosting, and the other six dozen were Chocolate Raspberry. I used my Death by Chocolate cake recipe, and topped it with this beautiful buttercream.

I unfortunately only got a few pictures in passing, and no close ups of the London Fog cupcakes, so I can’t really write a post on that buttercream. The above picture was not even taken by me, but I saved it because it is a beautiful picture of my work (cupcakes and paper flower bouquet), so I am using it as shameless self-promotion. But, I can tell you that I used my cake recipe, and just cut the baking time down to about 25 minutes for the Earl Grey tea cakes.

The Chocolate Raspberry cupcakes were decadent. As I have already done a post on the cake, I figured why not create a post on the Raspberry frosting?

So, here goes! The best thing about this frosting is that you can use fresh or frozen raspberries! I had a huge Costco bag of raspberries, so I used frozen and the frosting turned out gorgeously.

Lastly, don’t worry. I had to times this recipe by five in order to ice all 6 dozen cupcakes. The recipe below is for a single batch of cupcakes, usually between 12 and 16 cupcakes. Remember, icing varies depending on the maker, so if you don’t like a lot of icing on your cupcakes, you will be able to ice more of them.

Ingredients

Yield: 4-5 cups icing (enough for 12-16 cupcakes)

1½ c. raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1 c. butter, softened
3½ – 4½ c. icing sugar
1 tbsp. heavy cream or milk
¼ tsp. salt

Put the raspberries in a food processor or blender, and blend until a puree is formed. Push the puree through a metal sieve into a saucepan to remove the seeds.

In the saucepan, gently boil the raspberry puree while stirring occasionally. Allow to boil for 10-20 minutes, or until it is about ¼ to 1/3 of the original volume. It should be nice and thick, like jam. Transfer to the fridge or the freezer to chill fully. The puree must be cold before adding to the frosting, or the frosting will separate.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter until fluffy. Turn the mixer off, add 2 cups of icing sugar, and incorporate the sugar on low, then beat in to fully incorporate.

Beat in 2-3 tablespoons of the chilled raspberry puree and the salt. If you want to add more raspberry puree, you can, but it will change the consistency, and you might need to add extra icing sugar to stabilize.

Beat in the remaining icing sugar, a half cup at a time, until your desired sweetness. If the frosting is a little thick, you can add the cream or milk and incorporate until your desired sweetness and consistency is achieved.

Spread onto your desired cake, or pipe onto cupcakes.