Friday, January 25, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I finally got the new mixer I wanted for Christmas, a beautiful red Kitchenaid.  Ever since I got it, I've been itching to use it.  Lately, Matt has been begging for chocolate chip cookies, so I figured this was the perfect time to whip something up in my new toy.

I started with gathering all of my ingredients.  Everything is pretty basic, but you'll want to make sure to incorporate the brown sugar with the white sugar because it will make your cookies chewier.

Because this was a spur of the moment thing, I forgot to let the butter soften.  Directly out of the fridge doesn't result in a fluffy dough, but neither does melted butter.  So, here's what I do, and it works out for me every time.

I know all the rules about how you're not supposed to microwave butter because it changes the consistency of it, but in my experience, this acts just like softened-at-room-temperature butter.  Now, I don't just put the whole stick in there and nuke it. That would melt the butter completely and result in an oily cookie.  I put it in the microwave for 7 seconds then turn is on its complete opposite side and let it go for another 7 seconds.  For me, this warms it just enough to make it soft.

The butter is the first thing to go in the mixer.  You're supposed to whip the butter by itself first.  I was apparently too gung-ho about whipping the butter, so I put on the whisk attachment.  I would not recommend doing this.  While it does whip the butter to a nice consistency, it all gets stuck in the whisk and you're left sitting there wondering how to get it out.  I shortly switched over to the paddle attachment.  Use that one.

After the butter is whipped, the sugar goes in next.  I use a combination of brown sugar and white sugar.  The white sugar gives it stability while the brown sugar makes the cookies soft and chewy.  You'll want to mix together the butter and sugar until it becomes a fluffy mixture.

Make sure to spoon the sugar in the measuring cup and level it off.
If you dip the cup into the sugar, you'll end up with too much.
Next is the vanilla and eggs.

In a separate mixing bowl, mix up the rest of your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, and salt. By the way, I've previously learned the hard way how important the salt and baking soda are.  Even though it seems like an insignificant amount, don't forget about it.  You'll regret it and waste a whole batch of otherwise yummy cookie dough.

When that's all mixed up, incorporate the dry mix into the wet mix in about three parts.  If you dump all that flour mixture in at once, you'll end up with a big mess that won't mix together.  Beat the dough until the flour is just mixed in.  If you overbeat it, it'll result in a flat cookie.  Lastly, carefully stir in the chocolate chips.

This is where it starts to look really good and I wanted to eat all of it.
I've always heard to use a small ice cream scoop or melon baller to make consistent size cookies.  The problem is, I don't have one and apparently I am too lazy to go buy one.  I think a spoon works just as well.  Eyeball them to make sure they are about the same size. (I have airbake cookie sheets that a friend of mine gave me.  I love them since they are super simple to clean and nothing every burns on them.  That's why I didn't grease my pan.)

And here's the final product.  Husband ate three before they were even cool.

Since cookies are never enough for a new toy, I also made bread and broccoli cheese soup that day.  I had a lot of fun doing stuff in the kitchen while Matt installed new doors in our house.  Does anyone have any other tips for making delicious cookies?

Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate because it's what I had)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for another minute after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture in two or three additions, mixing on low speed just until the flour is incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips using a silicone spatula or the mixer on low speed.

Using a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon (or just a spoon, like I do), drop balls of dough onto the baking sheets, leaving a few inches of room between them. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Friday, January 4, 2013

My New Years Party

Hey everyone,
I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year.  Christmas was wonderful for us.  It iced a little so we stayed home most of the day, but we went to my grandparents' house in the evening (luckily they only live a mile from us, so it wasn't hard to get to).

For New Years, Matt and I decided to throw a party.  We had never had a real party in our new house, and we thought this would be the perfect time. I stressed over the food for about a week before the party.  It's really hard to know what kind of food to get and how much, so by the time I figured it out, here's what we ended up having:

It was a fairly simple spread with chips, veggies, and crackers.  I also had 4 different kinds of dip and several kinds of cheese.  Matt also made chili for the main meal with some venison our neighbor gave us for Christmas.

Because of the variety of dips, I decided to make tags for each of them.  I just used some scrapbook paper I already had and a straight cutter.  It was super easy, but I think I should have used a lighter color paper.

I think the party was a great success (for it being our first in the new house).  We played Balderdash all night and cheered at midnight.  It was low-key but I think everyone had a good time.