Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Waffles

. . . And An Appliance Review

If you've been reading this blog, then you know that I'm not a fan of appliances that only serve one function. The "One Trick Ponies" of the appliance world if you will. And, no offense to "Babycakes" but they seem to have a whole line of these "One Trick Ponies". Cake Pop Makers, Pie Pop Makers, Mini Donut Makers, Mini Cupcake Makers, the list goes on and on. Now I'm not faulting you if you have, use and like these machines. They do make light work of these treats. So if you have the counter, cabinet and/or wallet resources for these, and you enjoy them, knock yourself out. They just aren't for me. All that being said, you just can't make waffles without a waffle iron. So I concede my aversion to appliance single taskers in the case of the waffle iron. And . . . as Kohl's just happened to put all their "Babycakes" appliances on sale for $19.99, and . . . as I just so happened to have a 30% off coupon for  Kohl's, I embraced my hypocrisy and purchased the "Waffle Stick Maker". 

And . . . 
I . . . 
LOVE . . . 
It's the 4th waffle iron I've owned and for whatever reason, it seems to work best out of them all. I've used it about 5 or 6 times now and am still loving it. First, I like that it makes the individual "sticks". They are easier for the kids, no knife and fork needed, just a quick dip in syrup and breakfast is a go. Also the turn around seems to be quicker. Less time waiting around for the next waffle, more waffle eating. It has a great non-stick surface*; I've not once oiled or sprayed it and not once have the waffles stuck. A quick wipe with a dry paper towel and it's clean. Lastly, it cooks evenly and the "ready" light actually indicates that the waffles are done. It doesn't have a temperature adjustment and it's orange (not my favorite color), but I don't mind. It works and that's what really matters. 

*I'm also not a big fan of non-stick cookware. I've read too many reputable articles that talk about the toxic off-gassing that can occur when non-stick gets too hot. No thank you, I'll stick to cast iron and stainless steel. But, since those surface temperatures are well above 400°F (which has been proven to happen on cooktops and in ovens) and the waffle stick maker's surface doesn't get nearly that hot, I'm ok with it in this scenario. You'll have to decide for yourself.

So enough about waffle irons, let's get to making some waffles. Up until this weekend I've been using the waffle recipe on the box of "Trader Joe's Buttermilk Pancake All Purpose Baking Mix" with a splash of almond extract (my secret ingredient, shhhh don't tell.) We love 'em. But this saturday was my baby girl's 15th birthday so I wanted it to be a little extra special. What's more special than Chocolate Chocolate Chip Waffles. YUM! I chose Alton Brown's recipe from the Food Network web site. I've had really good luck with many of Alton's recipes so I figured it was a good choice. It got good reviews but many said the cocoa was too overwhelming and they added extra sugar. Not so in my opinion. I made them just like the recipe except for the buttermilk substitution (see below). The whole fam loved these. Five stars all around. A quick dusting of powdered sugar was all they needed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lemon Blondies

One day I was poking around on a few of my favorite blogs and came upon a recipe for "Lemonade Brownies". I though, "Geeze, why didn't I think of that?" I couldn't wait to make some. I seriously love, love, L-O-V-E, lemon desserts. Traditional Lemon Bars and Lemon Meringue Pie are two of my favorites and I'm always on the lookout for more lemon recipes to add to my repertoire. The recipe that piqued my interest used powdered lemonade mix as an ingredient and since I don't generally use that or have it around I went on a search for other lemon brownie recipes. I googled "Lemon Brownies" and the clicked right over to the images. Shamelessly I chose the recipe I did because I loved the picture. (It's a beaute, find it here). Apparently that blogger found the recipe on one of her favorite blogs, and that blogger found it on one of their favorite blogs, and so on, and so on. . . Funny how this whole blog, web thing happens. Anyway, I loved the picture and loved the way the recipe turned out. 
I made just two slight modifications: I took some creative license with the name. When I think of "Brownies" I automatically think chocolate, so I renamed them "Lemon Blondies". Which really isn't correct either because a true blondie has a brown sugar base and there isn't any brown sugar in these. Shhhhh, I won't tell if you don't. The second modification was that I went with a thicker more substantial icing that the glaze the original recipe called for. Once you see how super easy these are to make, you'll be making them for sure!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies 101

Chocolate Chip Cookies. The standard by which all cookies are judged. Everyone has their favorite: thin and crunchy, chewy, thick and caky. You probably like what you grew up with. What your mom made, the first cookie you learned to make. Over the years I've tweaked and fiddled until I came up with what I think is the best chocolate chip cookie ever. Period, end of story. (See this post for more background.) I like a thick caky cookie with just a bit of crunch on the edges. And while most of the time my recipe turns out this way, sometimes it doesn't. They also have great texture the day they are baked but tend to "dry out" and aren't so caky on the second and third day. Hmmmm, I needed to fix this. I did a bit of research on the web which led me to this series of posts by Joe Pastry. (He does a great job breaking down the different cookie versions.) A bit more searching and I arrived here and learned all about Ruth Wakefield's original recipe. It seemed as though I found the fix and as much as it pained me to do so, I set aside my recipe and went with Ruth's.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cake Pops v2.0

Cake Pops, again? I know, seems repetitive, but wait. These are just a bit different. In talking, blogging, researching and reading about cake pops, there seems to be two different methods for making them. I tried the first method (crumbled baked cake mixed with frosting and rolled into balls) in my Blue Velvet Cake Pops post. So this time around I'm going to try the second method: dense cake batter baked into a ball shape. Visually, they look much the same but there are distinct differences in the taste and texture of the finished product. The first method doesn't need any fancy equipment. For the second method you need some way to bake the cake into a ball shape. So, off to the store I went. . .