Monday, May 12, 2014

Ranger Cookies

I love cookies. So much so that I'm on a mission to try as many chocolate chip cookie recipes as I can to find the very best one. Of course, this is completely subjective. The best according to me is crispy outside, chewy middle, golden bottoms, and a good dough to chocolate ratio.  Say hello to my third cookie on the blog (be prepared to see more, here's one and two).  It's delicious!  It's the kind of cookie that seems like your typical, boring, yet classic chocolate chip cookie but after having one, you'll be thinking why was that so different? And why was it so good? And then you're reaching for the next one. And maybe one more just to see if you can put your finger why it's so addictive.  Beyond the usual ingredients, it's crammed full of other stuff. FOUR kinds of chocolate chips, oats, coconut, crisp rice cereal.

Thanks to Little Miss C and her active social life, we were at a play date when I tried these cookies fresh outta the oven.  Of course, I had more than one.  Of course, I asked for the recipe.  In my opinion, what makes these cookies are the butterscotch chips.  I have never used this flavour chips for my cookies. I thought about omitting them or substituting them with peanut butter chips (probably a good idea too).  I'm glad I didn't.  Don't skip them.  And since they are quite sweet, don't add more that 1/2 cup.  Just a hint of the butterscotch is perfect.

Ranger Cookies
Source: D. Jackson
Prep Time: 15 mins, Cook Time: 8 mins
Yields about 50 cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt
2 cups crisp rice cereal
2 cups oats
1 cup shredded or flaked coconut
½ cup each semi-sweet, milk, white and butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, crisp rice cereal, oats and coconut.  Mix well.  Add chips and mix until distributed. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of dough onto greased or parchment lined cookie sheets.  Flatten dough slightly.  

Bake for about 8 mins. Cool on wire rack.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Epic Cheat Day - New York Cheesecake

You know what's hard?  Having a food blog and trying embrace my new lifestyle change.  Sorry but I'm not inspired to blog or share recipes from my unexciting life of Greek yogurt, oatmeal, salad, hummus, and other clean, healthy crappy food I've been forcing myself to eat.  Some have been good, some ok.  Mostly just blah.  It's a long haul, I know.  I'm better for it, I know.  I KNOW!  Thankful for friends (Py, Andy, Super Momma J, Ms. Physio) who are helping me get out and be active.  Thanks for tagging me in this motivating post Andy!

 The good thing about these friends; they let me have an epic cheat day and they joined me in it. :)  Every spring I host a tea party.  I invite my girlfriends (who share my same love of baking and cooking; foodies in general) to come over, bring something delicious to share and to spend a Sunday afternoon eating, chatting, laughing, drinking tea, gift exchanging, oh and eating!  This is the 6th year since I started and it was the best and biggest it has ever been.  I was thrilled that my dear friend (we go waaaaay back to first grade) Nancy from gottagetbaked was able to attend and brought with her a B52 layer cake.

B52 Cake (combo of baileys, kahlua, orange, coffee and chocolate)
I'm sure she'll be blogging about this.  It's ridiculously good.  Go give her some love...I'm constantly drooling over whatever she's whipping up.

Let's take a minute to have a look at the delicious offerings.  Oh my goodness, everyone contributed something amazing.  With the exception of Trader Joe's proof and bake at home croissants, everything was made from scratch!  On the menu: cheese and chive scones, tomato-prosciutto-fresh mozzarella on focaccia (yes, scratch made focaccia), jalapeƱo popper dip, spinach dip, fig-olive tepenade, turkey-goat cheese-cranberry jelly finger sandwiches, Greek salad, salted caramel/coffee/earl grey French macarons, B52 cake, leche flan chocolate cake, May-the-4th-be-with-you brown butter cake with maple Bourbon buttercream, chocolate peanut butter Darth Vaders, blueberry scones, lemon pie, key lime pie, Vunderbars and ranger cookies.  I told you it was an EPIC cheat day.  Since cheat day eventually ends, I instructed everyone bring tupperware and their party favour was a reusable bag to bring home goodies in.  Sadly, I wanted no leftovers.

I decided my contribution was going to be New York cheesecake.  I have made a cheesecake before but it failed.  It cracked and collapsed.  The cheesecake layer in my Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake is great but not stand alone.  A little research on Pinterest revealed that Chantal's New York Cheesecake recipe was highly rated so I gave it a go.  I followed the recipe exactly but I baked mine in a water bath.  I was rewarded with a beautiful, P-E-R-F-E-C-T cheesecake. Topped it fresh blackberries and strawberries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.  I also made a strawberry sauce to serve with it.  If you love cheesecake, I highly recommend you try this recipe.

Here's the link for Chantal's New York Cheesecake recipe.  Note:  Make sure all your non-dry ingredients are at room temperature to ensure a smooth texture.  For a water bath, wrap the spring form pan in foil to prevent water from seeping into the spring form.  Place in a roasting pan.  Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it comes up about 1 inch along the sides.

Strawberry Sauce
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
4 tbsp of sugar
1 tsp of lemon zest
A splash of water
Bring all ingredients to a simmer until thickened, about 8 minutes.

Fresh out of the oven, after leaving in there to cool down
Ta da!