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Resolution Recipe 6: Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels


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I am not going to lie…this recipe killed me in so many ways. I earn my novice status with many recipes but my badge should be gold after making these. I know they may look like pretzels and they may even look good to the untrained eye, but I had so many issues with this recipe, I just want to spill my guts and get it over with…and pray they turn out better if I ever dare to try again…ugh.20140308_135337

Ingredients are minimal and you probably have everything you need in the pantry unless you’re like me and don’t keep chocolate ships in your pantry because that isn’t a healthy decision!

As grumpy as I am even typing this up, I do have some thoughts on what might have gone wrong for me….

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YEAST: I hate working with yeast sometimes. It’s so temperamental. It always feels like such an amazing victory to see your bread rise after you’ve been standing in the kitchen  biting your fingernails watching the dough like a worried mother. I guess these guys rose better then they could have but the consistency of the dough was like clay or even Play Dough and not at all soft like I would have expected to see for pretzel dough. So, while it’s possible I killed the yeast or that it was too old to be nice to me, I actually wonder if it wasn’t something else…

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MIXING: Guys this was a total disaster! The recipe says to mix it for like 10 min (I might be exaggerating, but I don’t have the recipe in front of me while I type this…) and within 2 min it was so tough that the mixer was literally skipping and hopping on the counter top. *sigh*. 20140308_141753

 

This is a picture of me holding the top down because it was not wanting to stay put. The dough hook had a terrible time working the dough and I was 100% sure I was going to have to apologize to my room mate for breaking her very expensive mixer and then some how replace it with the money I don’t even have to buy my own. Nightmare. I have no idea how I would have been able to mix it for the amount of time they suggest. But things got worse when I added…

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BUTTER: Oh geez. Imagine putting clay in your Kitchen Aid and then adding butter. Imagine with me for a second what that mess would look like. A greasy mess! That’s what it looks like. The dough was not able to absorb the butter (as you can see above) but it did start to soften it a bit out of the hard rocky ball that it had been previously. I continued to run the mixer, hoping it would improve and while it did show some signs of  improvement, but I was really discouraged by what I was seeing.

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Things seemed to shape up a bit after I added the chocolate chips. You can see below that it’s looking more like cookie dough and less like a wet buttery mess. Score!

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Back to the bad news…the dough totally didn’t rise. It looked like this after the set amount of time for raising. It was not yeasty and squishy like other doughs are. It should have been fluffy and doubled. It was not. I decided that this situation might end up a little bit like those experiences you have at the hair dresser getting a cut or style….you know that moment….about 10 min in to your new quaff you  inwardly start groaning thinking the person doesn’t know what they are doing and they didn’t listen and you’re going to look terrible!!!….and then…you just let them finish…haha. The relief ! All is right in the world. They get to keep their jobs and you’re happy….I was hoping these hopeless guys would turn out the same way with a little time and patience…soooo…ONWARD!

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Because I let my dough raise in the oven (dumb choice) the chocolate chips got nice and melted which turned the dough the chocolate color you see. These should be more like a chocolate brioche pretzels since you can’t see the chips in there but we’re going to keep the name the same for consistency sake. 20140308_181811

 

I started to work out the dough by rolling it out into long snake like strips before I started twisting it. Twisting it got easier once I figured out you need to twist the two ends together a few times before pressing them into the curve of the base and that you’ll have more twisting space in the dough the longer you make them.

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I decided to have gravity help me out since the dough was pretty thick and kind of hard to work with.  That seemed to do the trick to get them the length I needed. I believe I divided the dough into rounds based on the serving size so I know what I had to work with for each pretzel. That helped them all be about the same size and shape when all was said and done. 20140308_184001

The egg was you put on them makes them look a little more exciting then the chocolaty marbled dough. This is what they looked like before a trip into the oven…moment of truth folks! Wasn’t sure what I was about to get….


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Well I guess you kind of already saw them at the beginning of the post (sorry for the spoiler after this dramatic interpretation of my experience!) but here they are in all their pretzely glory! I am really happy to say that they actually had a bready (…making up words here, friends…) consistency and tasted very much of chocolate which seems like a good place to be at the end of making this recipe. They are far from as lovely looking as Deb’s are and are not even sort of the best pretzels I’ve ever had…but…they are mine and I am happy with them. They were pretty sweet so they make a good after dinner treat.

I would love to try these again and see what I can do about fixing that rubbery dough. Deb has not blogged this recipe but I’ve found another happy Perelmanite fan like me who has the recipe posted on her blog as well as her review of the cookbook. Check out Think Well. Love well. Dine Well.

If you have tried something like this before or know what I might have wrong, would you be kind enough to tell me! I get a little nervous at the thought of doing this again, but I know there has to be redemption out there for me to find for these pretzels. It will happen :)

Coming up next…Almond Date Breakfast Bars and hopefully restaurant or dish reviews. As I type, I am on the way to Delaware to visit my best friend! I hope to do some fun food reviews of my travels around Delaware and Pennsylvania. I had some majorly good eats last time I was here and can’t wait to see what other goodies I get to try!

Weight Watchers Update: Ladies and gentleman I am 1 lb away from having lost 10% of my original body weight. I have been circling the 10% mark for the past 3 weeks and while I was hoping to hit it sometime in August, I’ve decided that with this trip, my upcoming birthday and school starting that I need to let my routine settle a bit before I beat myself too much. I’m still doing all I can to eat right and plan to keep it up but this plateau might just need a jump start with routine change to get me back in the loss. What a way to spend the summer :) I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. I’ll made these before I started weight watchers so I don’t know the points, but if I remember I’ll come back and post it.

Blessings, friends!

 

 

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Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe!


It’s been a little while since I’ve posted because life has been overwhelmingly busy which means there has been very little cooking in the kitchen by me!

But even when you’re busy you have to eat, right?!

I found this awesome chocolate chip cookie recipe on a new favorite of mine…Foodfolio.com. It’s a very friendly place to store all those recipes you love from multiple websites. I believe they give you over 100 free recipe uploads and then you have to pay for the site. I’m thinking I will just be using it for recipes I’ve made and not for what just looks good. This gives you the space to comment on the recipes and the set up is very cute and friendly and it is where I found this new gem!

If you’re anything like me, the Nestle Tollhouse recipe is your go to for chocolate chip cookies. I’m never thrilled with the outcome and have wondered why my cookies never look like the ones you can get at Paradise Bakery or other tasty shops with delectable cookies! Mine are always average and they don’t look that amazing either…there has to be a better way!

Ta da! Here is your new chocolate chip cookie recipe Nestle Tollhouse (can you just hear Phoebe saying it!!) recipe replacement! You will never go back to that recipe after trying this one.

Here are a few things that surprised me about this recipe that you should keep in mind:

  1. You melt your butter
  2. You use milk
  3. You use bread flour
  4. You use 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
  5. You use kosher salt
  6. You refrigerate your dough (I sort of did this already)
  7. You use a hand mixer (never used this before, but I’m a fan!)

These things may make total sense to you expert cooks out there, but remember, I’m a novice…I don’t know what I’m doing. So, if you know why we do a few of these these…especially with the bread flour, milk and melting the butter….I would love to know! I was always told that melting butter was a big no-no with cookies because it will flatten your cookies. That totally didn’t happen so let me know why!!

A few things I would recommend:

1. Set the temperature for 350 not 375. And set your timer for 10 min not 14. You can see that the cookies on the right are over done at that temperature and time. I played around with the time and temperature for a bit and decided that low and slow was a better cookie. I know altitude plays a part and I’m not sure our altitude here in Whittier, CA, but the 350 degrees 10-11 min worked well for me.

2. Add in fun ingredients! I used Heath Bar pieces in my first batch which was delicious. I’m going to be using coconut and butter scotch chips in my next batch…maybe not together.

3. Don’t use just one beater on your hand mixer…I was missing one and so I thought that using 1 would be just fine…true…it was fine, however I now know why they don’t sell hand mixers with just one beater. It was like trying to handle a fire hose that was out of control! A little wild and things got all over the place, but I did end up with cookie dough when it was all said and done…had to share my trial and error experience :O)

Let the suspense be over…Here’s the recipe:

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies   Prep Time: 15 min         Cook Time: 20 min

Ingredients

  •  2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Hardware:
Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
Parchment paper
Baking sheets
Mixer

Directions

1.Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

3.Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4.Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

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Salted Peanut Butter-Toffee Thumbprint Cookies


Tis the season for making Christmas cookies! I am not an avid baker, but this time of year, it seems like you should be participating in the baking fun! This year I am a little more inspired since I have two cookie exchange parties to go to :)

Am I the only one that stresses over which cookies I should make?!? I’m gone on to so many sites and looked at so many recipes. I assume I’m not alone in secretly wanting to have THE BEST cookie of the whole party…and what does it really earn me other then bragging rights and the thought that everyone thinks I’m an incredible baker! Nevermind…it’s worth fighting for!!!

So, Cookie Exchange number 1 was with work friends. Registrar ladies seem to have the tradition and I got an invite this year :) Thanks to Jeri Price for organizing it for all of us. It was a really fun time to connect and get excited about the food of the season. I loved having a bin of cookies to take away and a few recipes at that. Definitely something I hope to be apart of in the years to come.

So, I decided on this recipe this year since it’s a nice combination of all the flavors I like in a cookie…chocolate, toffee, and peanut butter! They ended up being really good so I highly recommend this recipe! You can find it here: Salted-Peanut-Butter-Toffee-Thumbprints. Something you should know about this recipe is that you will need to refrigerate your dough for 1 hour. I didn’t read that in the recipe but got lucky (since I did them the night before) and had an hour to refrigerate while I went to church last week. Score :)

Here we go…

Step 1: Mix together your dry ingredients…flour, salt, baking soda. Sadly, this is one of those recipes that requires a lot of dishes. The end product is worth it but make sure you have a few bowls ready to go.

Step 2: Melt your butter in the microwave. I put mine in for 1 min in a Pyrex measuring cup which did the trick.


Step 3: While waiting for melted butter, use a separate bowl and measure out your brown sugar and granulated sugar. When butter is melted, that can be poured in on top and mixed up.

Step 4: Still working with your sugar mixture you will add your egg, peanut butter and vanilla  and  mix it up.

HINT: I used one of the tips that I posted earlier about how to get sticky ingredients out of a measuring cup…..the tip was to run your measuring cup under hot water before adding the sticky ingredient. Ideally it just slides right out of the measuring cup.

I am happy to report can IT WORKS! See how clean the cup is after just one little spoon-out of encouragement?! It was way less mess to clean up in the measuring cup. I will be doing THIS again!

Step 5: Mix together you wet ingredients mixture with the flour mixture a little at a time….key work here is MIX! Don’t do what I did and try to WISK the ingredients togehter. I know better and had quite the time banging out the wisk. I got it cleaned out and was able to continue mixing but…just thought I would give that word of wisdom.

Step 6: The next thing to do is refrigerate our dough. The recipe calls asks that you put it in for an hour to 1 day. I think mine was in for 3 our so hours which was great. It firmed up and was easy to work with when it was time to roll and bake. While the dough is refrigerating you can start in with prepping your peanuts.

Step 7: So if you’re anything like me…there is always that one appliance that you love to use, but also hate to pull out because it’s in that obscure place in your kitchen.

Our counter tops are full with knife blocks, toasters, blenders, etc. so my food processor will not fit on the counter top at all times. It’s just too big. You can see in this picture that mine is on the VERY top shelf of our pantry and I am way too short to be reaching up there! So, here is my solution…I think everyone needs this in their kitchen if you don’t already…especially for the shorties out there! 

But I digress….

Step 8: The toffee peanuts that these cookies get rolled in is what makes them different from normal peanut butter cookies. I think I would like to try this with chocolate chip cookies! Right?! Wouldn’t that be yummy. Something to do in the future.

So onto chopping…You’ll notice that the first picture here looks  very clean and put together…however, there was a lot of work to get to it looking like that. For the life of me, I couldn’t get the top on the stand.

I kept trying to turn it on and it was not being friendly because I didn’t have the cup on there correctly.

So, I’m mostly putting this little picture below as a reminder to myself since I don’t use this kitchen gadget that often….JESSICA…LINE UP THE ARROWS. It will snap on if you do this! Don’t forget!! Below is the handsome result if you snap everything on correctly…imagine that. I used the tin that the peanuts came in to save the pieces till it was roll time.

You’ll notice two containers that and I’ll be candid and say I had to buy the second because I had started eating out of the first tin and quickly realized I did not have enough to do this recipe. Thankfully they were cheap at Ralphs the week I was making these :)

Step 9: When your dough is cool and ready to work with you will begin making the dough balls and rolling them in your toffee peanut pieces you have chopped up. My recommendation is that you push the pieces into the dough balls like I’m showing here. I was not as generous as the recipe pictures show they should look like so next time I’ll possibly roll the tough with some toffee pieces in the middle and outside. There can never been too much toffee! They don’t really spread out on the baking sheet so don’t worry about there only being an inch between your cookies. You’ll put them in the oven for 13 to 15 min at 325 degrees. I kept them on the longer side which did the trick.

Step 10: At some point you will need to do your thumb print part of the cookie making process. I decided I would do them when there were still about 3 min left on the timer. This ended up being a good way to start the process. When you pull them out, they have basically puffed up again in the last 3 min. However, you’ve already started the depression in the middle and helped spread out the cookies by doing it in the oven. So, when I did it again when they came out it was prepped. The recipe says to do differently, however, this worked well for me. You can see in the oven picture how the cookies have not really spread out like chocolate chip cookies do. The picture to the right shows that by doing them in the oven, they end up being a little bit rounder and less like a drop cookie.

Step 10: I have mentioned in my Oreo truffle recipe post that I STINK at melting chocolate to pipe on anything. It is SO not my forte in when it comes to baking and if I ever see it in a recipe I get nervous about giving it a try.  That has changed! This recipe gave instructions on how to end melt chocolate. Most recipes say…melt your chocolate…with no help on how to go about the process. I love this recipe for educating me and not assuming I already knew how to do it. This tip is officially the way I will melt chocolate I am wanting to pipe chocolate.

The instructions say to put some hot water in a bowl and place your piping bag (AKA plastic bag) in the bowl and let the chocolate melt. This works amazingly well and I’ll be translating this tip the next time I make those Oreo truffles.  When your chocolate is melted…you may need to work the bag a big with your fingers to feel if you have it completely smooth. I pulled it in and out of the water a few times to feel it and make sure it was melting correctly. I think it took a total of 10 min to get it ready for pipping. And I have to say that when you get chocolate to melt well it is fun to do :) I ended up having to make two bags of chocolate chips up to pipe in the thumbprints of all my cookies, but it was still way easier then I’ve done in the past. HURRAY for learning a new trick!!

Step 11: Finishing up the cookies can be your choice..I thought of a few ways to top the cookies since they were needing something extra to stand out. I had a lot of broken up peanuts that I ended up placing on top of the cookies to doll them up a bit. I liked the look since it kind of appeared that a reindeer had left it’s hoof print in the chocolate…or at least I liked to think so ;) I had some festive cupcake holders that I put the cookies in which made them easier to store and very easy for people to grab…..Anyways I hope that you give these a try and got a few tips for your cookie making this season! Enjoy :)