Chocolate Banana Bread

Yummo!  This is banana bread at it’s yummiest!  The bread isn’t too sweet and is just right as an evening treat with a cup of coffee.  Though, I’ve modified it a little, I got the recipe from here: http://www.joyofbaking.com/breakfast/ChocolateBananaBread.html#ixzz0W1XvtpEh Her recipe is slightly different.  She adds a 1/2 c of chocolate chips.  I thought that that might be overkill…  😉  I also tried putting the pecans as a crust over the top with the turbinado sugar.  It made a beautiful crust, though it browned a little too much.  Hope you try it!  By the way, what do you think about a chocolate pumpkin bread?  Exchange banana for pumpkin?  I may try it.

Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe:

Ingredients

1/2 c toasted walnuts or pecans coarsely chopped (optional)

1 3/4 c all-purpose flour (I mixed with half whole-wheat)

1/4 c Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 c granulated white sugar

1 t baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 ripe bananas (approximately 1 pound or 454 grams), mashed well (about 1-1/2 c)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place oven rack to middle position. Butter and flour (or spray with a non stick vegetable/flour spray) the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan. Set aside.

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Been wondering why there weren’t any more posts on the best chocolate chip cookie challenge?  I did make one more batch that turned out spectacularly… but, really I have stopped baking because I found out that I gained 8 pounds between my 20 and 24 week checkup.  It was a major wake-up call.  Hence, the daily walking and watching my carb/sugar consumption…  I’ve been doing really well since, definitely curbing the extra weight gain.  I  decided to try out a healthier recipe.  I came upon a jewel!

I wouldn’t actually call this a “chocolate chip cookie.” It’s an oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips…  After trying it a few nights ago, I want to turn it into a breakfast cookie recipe.  Add some dry fruit, less (if any) chocolate chips.  My main victories with this recipe are how easy and quick it was to throw together, how yummy it is without tasting either too sweet or too “healthy,” a very nice crispy/soft ratio, and Sophia LOVED it!  So, my next baking adventure is turning the following recipe into a breakfast cookie.

BEST EVER OATMEAL COOKIES

(http://www.recipezaar.com/best-ever-oatmeal-cookies-365661)

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter (I used more like a 1/3 cup of the extra crunchy variety.)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used brown sugar, but planning to use 1/2 cup honey instead.)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water  (I omitted this.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Dry Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-2 1/2 cups oats
  • handful chocolate chips (Planning to add handfuls of cranberries and nuts.)

Directions

  1. Cream together WET ingredients.
  2. Add DRY ingredients and combine.
  3. Drop by tbsp onto baking sheet (Planning to form a thinner rectangular shaped cookie.)
  4. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
These cookies puffed up a LOT.  They didn’t spread at all.  So, I’m hoping they’ll make a great oatmeal breakfast bar.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Attempt 2

For attempt #2, I used a really yummy recipe.  I’m going to post it here because it’s really worth trying.  This recipe is borrowed from a fellow wordpress blog, The “Christopher Kimball Blog from America’s Test Kitchen.” I’ll leave the recipe at the bottom for those of you that want to peruse it.

The difference on this recipe compared to the last is “browning” the butter, dark brown sugar, and a meticulous mixing method; i.e. stir, pause, stir, pause, etc.

So, you actually brown the butter in a pan.  You don’t just melt the butter, you brown it for a few minutes so that the deeper butter flavors come out.  This was actually an incredibly sensual process.  Sure, I’ve melted butter and it smells amazing, but not like this!  Stirring constantly you first melt butter, then let it boil and literally turn brown.  While it’s turning brown, a sweet caramel-like aroma comes out.  After that, you remove from heat and add more butter.  This causes the whole thing to boil up like crazy creating the most intense smell of buttery, caramel-ly goodness that you may pass out!  After you add the rest of the ingredients as he suggests, the batter ends up shiny and fully incorporated.  It’s a dark, shiny ball–beautiful really.

You’ll find that even in the uncooked batter, the tastes are much more complex and deep than a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe.  My husband loved the richness, but I might prefer to try a lighter brown sugar next time.  These were quite rich.  These would make a perfect afternoon cookie with a cup of coffee.  The texture came out perfect–crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside with an extraordinary taste!  Here is my only little problem: By day 3, they were no longer WONDERFUL.  They dried out and became chewy and crumbly instead of crunchy.  Storage problem?

As with Chocolate Chip Cookie Attempt 1, I refrigerated the dough before baking it.  I found that the longer batch (about 27 hours) came out the best.  I also let the dough rest on the counter for about an hour so that scooping them out would be easier.  My next attempt will include individually freezing balls of dough.

Enjoy the pictures.  Hope you try this recipe!  You WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

Makes 16 cookies.
Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored. For our winning brand of chocolate chips, see related tasting.
INGREDIENTS
1 3/4
cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2
teaspoon baking soda
14
tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2
cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4
cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) (see note)
1
teaspoon table salt
2
teaspoons vanilla extract
1
large egg
1
large egg yolk
1 1/4
cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (see note)
3/4
cup chopped pecan or walnuts, toasted (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS
. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
. 2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
. 3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
. 4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)
. 5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Makes 16 cookies.

Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored. For our winning brand of chocolate chips, see related tasting.

INGREDIENTS

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)

1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)

3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)

1 teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

3/4 cup chopped pecan or walnuts, toasted (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

. 2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

. 3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

. 4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

. 5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Attempt 1

I got started on learning to make great chocolate chip cookies this weekend.  And, woah, the difference a recipe makes!  I decided to try this recipe for simple reasons: 1) recipe makes a smaller batch; so, I didn’t have to do any halving and 2)the blogger’s picture and enthusiasm inspired me.  This recipe is a definite keeper!!!  Though, I may need to perfect my technique.

I followed the recipe pretty well, only I used room temperature butter instead of cold butter.  I’ve read that the butter will dissolve sugar better if it is not cold.  I also refrigerated the dough longer than one hour.  Otherwise, I followed it.  I even went out and bought a cookie dropper for this recipe attempt.  How did they work out?

I can’t say that I really knew how to use the cookie scooper.  The tiny amount that went inside seemed like a really small cookie.  For the first batch, 4 hours after preparing the dough, we tried 6 cookies.  The dough was stacked too high and the amount of dough per cookie was inconsistent.  I came out with 3 done cookies and 3 not done cookies.  They were all wonderful cookies, but the less done ones had a bit of an aftertaste which Taste Tester #2 called “butter.”

Batch #2 I saved for the following afternoon.  I read here that letting the dough rest in the refrigerator for 36 hours will help the dry ingredients soak up the wet ingredients creating a drier, firmer dough which will lend best for the desired outcome.  Well, 36 hours is a lot of patience.  And, since pregnant I probably shouldn’t eat a lot of raw cookie dough, regardless of how good it is, Batch #2 was baked at approximately 24 hours.  These were significantly better.  I used smaller drops of dough and squished them down a tiny bit.  They were all the perfect crispiness, though a few could have been more doughy inside.  I baked this batch for 10 minutes and put a few back in for one minute.

My size and form consistency from cookie to cookie was still not great.  Any tips for consistency on size and form?  Would it be silly to use the cookie dropper for size only?  Then squash and form each?  My guess is that they didn’t spread out like crazy because the dough was so cold and hard.

So, we actually broke up this recipe into 3 separate batches.  The third tiny batch we enjoyed last night–still very good, though a bit small and crispy.  I liked breaking the dough into batches so that I could do experiments but also because I have little self-control in not finishing a warm batch of cookies!  We’ll blame it on the baby.  😉   I’m also thinking of learning how the dough can be kept for a time:  fridge or frozen, how stored and how long?

Thanks for your comments.  Keep ’em coming.  I appreciate them!  Until next time and next batch…

The Search for the Greatest Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I am no chocolate chip cookie connoisseur, but I know what I like and don’t like… being pregnant makes me a little extra picky, of course… The thing is when I bake a chocolate chip cookie at home, I often think, “That’s pretty good, but it’s not as good as ______.” Mind you, I’m blaming the outcome on the recipe and not my cooking ability.  😉

Last night, after a few nights of enjoying home-baked, store bought, pre-cut cookie dough, I decided to take the effort of mixing up my own.  I chose this cook book: The KING ARTHUR FLOUR Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook.  I chose the recipe entitled “The Essential Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie.”  I figured that in a cookbook such as this, the recipe entitled “The Essential….” would be well-researched and near have the claim “The Best Recipe for a Chocolate Chip Cookie EVER!” The recipe was fairly interesting, and I was glad I had everything I needed in the cabinet.  It called for butter instead of shortening, and it called for vinegar and corn syrup… The vinegar was supposed to help cut the sweetness and help the cookie rise more.  The cookie was less sweet, but I didn’t appreciate the cookie’s rise.  I don’t know if I want my cookie to rise.  I changed the recipe only slightly, omitting corn syrup and adding a smidge of peanut butter… Overall, they turned out fairly tastey, though slightly cake-like and too tall.  And, well, it just wasn’t IT!

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Now, I’m on the search.  Where is the GREATEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE RECIPE EVER?!

Here’s what I want out of the cookie: a little crispy, but moist and gooey, chewy in the center. Fairly thin but dense. I want sweet, but not overpoweringly sugary…  Is that asking too much?

So, I’m going to try some more recipes.  Do you think you have the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie recipe, or at least one that you think I’d love?!  Email it to me, or post it in the comments here.  I’ll try it out and post the results here.

Also, do any of you baking experts know how I might achieve the results I want?  Like butter vs. shortening?