Tag Archives: Baking

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

11 Mar

Are you on a quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie? Have you made batch after batch of cookies and been disappointed by mediocre results? Are you sick of flavorless, flat, crispy cookies that bear no resemblance to that perfect cookie your stomach so desperately craves? Well look no further. This is the cookie you’ve been looking for. I know, because I was once like you. So many complicated or terrible recipes. Recipes where the butter has to be softened just so or sugar and fats creamed perfectly. You will not find that here. This is the ultimate chewy chocolate chip cookie. And not only is it the most delicious cookie, it is also virtually fool-proof. I dare you to prove me (and America’s Test Kitchen) wrong…

p.s. I think these taste even better with 3/4 tsp. of salt instead of the 1/2 tsp. the recipe calls for.

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New York Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce

20 Feb

When Seth told me he wanted a cheesecake for his birthday cake I was a little stressed out. Cheesecakes are notorious for being finicky… there’s the water bath, the cracking, and who knows what other things could go wrong. And when you’re using 2 1/2 pounds of cream cheese, you don’t want to screw up. Which is why I went to my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook to find a “foolproof” recipe. I was so happy to see that not only was this incredibly easy to make, it baked up perfectly with no cracks and didn’t even require a water bath! Wahoo! I will definitely be making this cheesecake again. It was a big hit with the birthday crowd.

New York Cheesecake

Makes one 9-inch cheesecake

Serves 12

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes plus 5 hours and 30 minutes cooling time

When cutting the cake, have a pitcher of hot tap water ready; dipping the blade of the knife into the water and wiping if after each slice helps make clean slices. If grinding your own graham cracker crumbs for the crust, you will need about 8 crackers.

CRUST

  • 1 1 /4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

FILLING

  • 2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch chunks and softened
  • 1 1 /2 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1. For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the graham crumbs, melted butter, and sugar together, then pour into a 9-inch springform pan. Press the crumbs firmly  into an even layer using the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake the crust until fragrant and beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.

2. For the filling: Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until softened, 1 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beaters thoroughly.

3. Beat in half of the sugar and the salt until incorporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Beat in the remaining sugar until incorporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Beat in the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla until incorporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, two at a time, until incorporated, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed, 1 to 3 minutes.

4. Being careful not to disturb the baked crust, brush the sides of the springform pan with the melted butter. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the filling over the crust and bake for 10 minutes.

5. Without opening the oven door, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and continue to bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the cheesecake reads about 150 degrees, about 1 hour and 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

6. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and run a paring knife around the edge of the cake. Let cool until barely warm, 2 1 /2 to 3 hours, running a paring knife around the edge of the cake every hour or so. Wrap the pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

7. To unmold the cheesecake, wrap a wet, hot kitchen towel around the springform pan and let sit for 1 minute. Remove the sides of the pan. Let the cheesecake stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before serving.

America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Third Edition

 

Blueberry Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cups blueberries (or other berries, fresh or frozen)
  •  In a 2-qt. saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; gradually stir in water. Add blueberries; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Serve warm or cold over french toast, pancakes, waffles, or dessert of your choice.

    Basic Pizza Dough

    16 Feb

    I’ve tried several pizza dough recipes, and while they have all been good, none of them have stopped me from trying other recipes. Tonight I needed to use up a lot of basil and decided to make pizza again. This time I turned to my new America’s Test Kitchen cookbook for a pizza dough recipe. And it was far superior to any other pizza dough I’ve made before. Yeah!

    Makes 2 pounds dough, enough for 3 (12-inch) pizzas

    All-purpose flour can be substituted for the bread flour, but the resulting crust will be a little less crisp and chewy.

    • 4 1/4 cups bread flour, plus extra for the counter
    • 1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp.) instant or rapid-rise yeast
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 1/2 cups water, warm

    1. Pulse 4 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt in a food processor (fitted with dough blade if possible) to combine. With the processor running, pour the oil, then the water through the feed tube and process until a rough ball forms, 30 to 40 seconds. Let the dough rest for 2 minutes, then process for 30 seconds longer.

    2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about 5 minutes, adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

    Hand-Mixing Method

    Whisk 4 cups of the flour, the yeast, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the oil and water and stir with a rubber spatula until the dough comes together and looks shaggy. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, 10 to 15 minutes, adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

    If you do not have a baking stone, bake the pizza on a rimless or upside-down baking sheet that has been preheated just like a baking stone.

    3. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, place a baking stone on the rack, and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Let the baking stone heat for at least 30 minutes.

    4. Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, cut it into three even pieces, and cover with plastic wrap. Working with one piece of dough at a time, shape into a smooth, round ball, cover again with the plastic wrap, and let rest 20 to 30 minutes.

    5. Uncover one ball of dough and stretch and shape the dough into a 12-inch round on a piece of parchment paper. Top with desired sauce, cheese and toppings leaving a 1/2-inch edge of dough uncovered. Lightly brush the edge of the dough with oil.

    6. Slide the parchment paper and pizza onto a rimless (or inverted) baking sheet, the slide it onto the hot baking stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is golden in spots, 8 to 13 minutes. (Prepare the second pizza while the first bakes.)

    7. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board, discarding the parchment paper. Cut the pizza into 6 wedges before serving. Let the stone reheat for 5 minutes before baking the next pizza.

    From: The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Third Edition

    Red Velvet Cupcakes

    20 Jan

    Looking to make something that looks fancy, tastes great, and doesn’t take all day? Try these! I’m not usually a big fan of cupcakes, but who can resist these beautiful little things?

    You can make these however you want, but I’ve found that the quantity of cupcakes and frosting is a bit out of proportion. If you make a standard sized cupcake, this recipe will make 24 cupcakes, not 16 as stated. I also cut the frosting recipe in half. You may think this would leave me with a thin skiff of frosting on each. Nay nay. For me, that amount of frosting is plenty. I guess you could always make the full recipe if you don’t believe me. I mean, it’s not like extra frosting is a bad thing, right?

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    Margherita Pizza

    13 Jan

    I realize this isn’t an authentic margherita pizza (what with the sauce and all), but it’s my pizza so I can make it however I want. This was the first time I’ve used this dough recipe. It’s actually for a food processor, which I didn’t even know was possible until a friend at work told me about it. It was super easy to do, but I wasn’t totally happy with the texture of the finished product, so maybe I’ll have to expand on that theme and improve it somehow. It wasn’t bad by any means though. The sauce turned out really good though and I’d make it again. It made quite a bit so I was able to freeze some. I’m sure it’ll taste even better later on.

    For this pizza I just grated up some mozzarella cheese (maybe 8 oz. or so) and spread it over the pizza sauce. Added some sliced grape tomatoes (they taste much better than regular ones this time of year), a bit of parmesan cheese,  and baked it up at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes. Then I topped it with some fresh chopped basil. Of course you could top this pizza with anything your little heart desires.

    Pizza Dough Recipe

    Pizza Sauce Recipe

    Yummy Honey-Wheat Bread (Bread Machine)

    1 Jan

    This is a recipe I got from my sister, Corinne.  I don’t think I’d ever actually made it before today. I did tweak the recipe just a hair by adding in 3 tablespoons of wheat gluten (1 tbsp. for each cup of flour). My dough also looked really sticky after it came together so I added about another 1/2 cup of white flour. My bread took a long time to rise… about  1 1/2 hours, and I probably could have let it go for a full 2 hours. Maybe using a white bread flour instead of the regular all-purpose flour would help with that. Anyway, the end product turned out great. Wonderful texture and very moist.

    • 1 1/8 cups luke warm water
    • 1 1/2 cups white flour
    • 1 1/2 cups wheat flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 1 tablespoon dry milk
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons shortening
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast

    Put all ingredients into bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select Dough cycle. Press Start. (Keep an eye on your dough and add more flour if it looks too sticky.)

    Once dough is finished, shape into a loaf and put in lightly greased bread pan. Let rise until almost double (30 minutes). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

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