Monday, June 21, 2010
The Joy of Baking
I bake, therefore I am.
Oh yes. The Jersey Girl is getting philosophical.
Can you stand it?
So, when the world feels sad and lonely or I want to bang my head up against a wall, chances are I will take to the kitchen and bake to my little heart’s content.
Other times when stressy or nervy and wiggin’ out, you will find me at the piano playing for hours upon hours.
And if things are really bad, look for me in a shoe department.
These days, the Jersey Girl is pretty calm. Ever since quitting my morning/afternoon/night job of being a slave for a newspaper, my daily grind isn’t really so grinding.
It’s pretty awesome, actually. Play piano with kiddies and adults. That’s my day. And currently, Miss Susan and her lovely 41 students, are on hiatus.
So, there’s no worry going on except when I really start thinking about childbirth.
Often, the fam requests that I bake somethin’ somethin’ for various events, simply because they know poppin’ some sweet stuff into the oven brings me happiness.
And, many peeps in my fam loathe baking. Exceptions are my grandmothers, who I totally take after, and my godmother Aunt Karen and her no. 3 son Blair, who is a pie-making genius.
But you so should not harbor fear over your oven or that bundt pan, dear readers. Embrace them!
You CAN bake. It’s not that challenging. And I always declare, “If I’m going to eat a cookie, I’d rather it come from me than a factory.”
Which leads me to my latest foray into the “Williams Sonoma Baking Book” – Double Chocolate Chip Cookies. Oh hell’s yeah. They’re really fab. You bake them a bit long for a cookie – 15 minutes – which puts them onto the crunchy side. They are fab with a glass of milk, which is good for babies growing inside of you. And chocolate does wonders for soon-to-be-mommies who are off coffee and wine. Eek.
Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
From the “Williams-Sonoma Baking Book”
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
1 oz (30 g) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (4 ½ oz/140 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. (3 oz/90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
2/3 cup (5 1/3 oz/165 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup (2 oz/60 g) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup (6 oz/ 185 g) bittersweet or semisweet (plain) chocolate chips
½ cup (2 oz/60 g) coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line 2 baking sheets with parchment (baking) paper.
Put the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler and melt, stirring occasionally over barely simmering water. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt until blended.
In another bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed or a wooden spoon, beat together the butter, shortening, brown sugar and granulated sugar until well blended and fluffy. Beat in the melted chocolate. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until blended. Add the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Add the chocolate chips and the nuts, if using, and continue stirring until just blended.
Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 1 ½ inches (4 cm) apart. Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until they are puffed but still look moist on top, about 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool briefly on the pans on wire racks before transferring them to the racks to cool completely.
Please note: The Jersey Girl uses extra-large eggs. She omitted the pecans/walnuts due to a food allergy.