Fluffy Vanilla Cake with Whipped Strawberry Frosting

We celebrated my sister’s birthday last Monday, and of course there was cake. Every special occasion is a chance for me to practice my baker skillz, so there’s no doubt I took advantage of my sister’s birthday and made her something super special.

These days, I tend to make something for any occasion; my own birthday, Valentine’s Day, even Easter but I try my best to make something new. For my sister’s birthday last year, I put my no bake skillz to the test and made her a vegan icebox cake consisting of Oreos (which are surprisingly vegan), coconut whipped cream, and toasted unsweetened coconut. We kept it dairy free because she is lactose intolerant. It was a delicious hit, despite the fact there was no actual cake or any dairy. So delicious, it helped land my sister in the hospital several days later! We spent the remainder of her birthday week couped up in the hospital, while she had her gallbladder removed. It wasn’t very glamorous but it was definitely memorable. To my defense, it wasn’t necessarily my cake that was the “final straw” but an influx of sugar and high fats consumed over the days revolving around her birthday was definitely part of it.

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We made deal that for this year, we were not going to try and end up in the hospital again, because she doesn’t have anymore organs ready for removal. This was after we decided we were aiming for her liver this year (which we may or may not have hit). I kid, I kid; no more hospital trips for anyone’s birthday this year. Anyway, for this birthday, she knew she wanted a Sweetapolita cake. If any of you can recall, I made her funfetti birthday cake for my birthday this year, and it was amazing. High off of that sugar rush, she wanted something similar. We chose Rosie’s Fluffy Vanilla Cake, which was basically the same thing I had sans sprinkles (blasphemy, tbh). She did want some flavor somewhere, so we also picked her Whipped Strawberry Frosting.

Looking at the recipe that accompanied the strawberry frosting gave me an idea. I have never attempted to make more than two layers for a cake, so why not give it a try this year? I aimed high and decided I wanted to make my sister’s cake four layers. For this, I baked the cake in two cake pans, and split each cake in half. Easy, right? Well, no. My oven (and kitchen, actually) appears to be on an angle. One of my cakes came out really lopsided. It was kind of sad but I ran with it. My only concern with halving these cakes was to make sure they were even. I am a huge stickler for accuracy; more when there are numbers involved. I had a ruler, tape measures, toothpicks, and a calculator nearby to make sure I was as accurate as possible. This lopsided cake threw me for a bit of a loop but I wasn’t about to give up. I used this creative and unique method to halve the cakes, which as you may recall I used something similar to slice these cinnamon rolls a while back. I just never thought it would work on a cake! Despite this ingenious method, I still ended up with a slightly uneven layer because the of the lopsided cake. Thinking on my feet, I used the scraps to help me level out that layer. It didn’t look too good but it did even things out enough that the cake wasn’t lopsided at all.

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Now, the buttercream also proved to be tricky. We had a giant container of fresh strawberries in the fridge, which partly influenced the flavor of this buttercream way before we’d even planned it. The problem was that these strawberries, while pretty, were virtually tasteless. We live in New York, which is nothing close to warm during this time of year. It wasn’t surprising that they didn’t taste right, as they’re not in season yet. Even with that in mind, I decided to roll with that too. I cooked the strawberries a bit with some sugar and a squeeze of lemon, cooled it, blended it, and then passed it through a sieve. It was beautiful and thick but still sort of tasteless. I held back on the sugar because I didn’t want sugar overkill in the buttercream; we wanted the contrasting flavors of the sweet buttercream against the fruity strawberry. I added almost a cup’s worth of puree to the buttercream, which gave me a pretty pink frosting with the slightest taste of strawberry ever to grace a cake. I ended up with some frosting left over after covering the entire cake, so I got creative with my piping tips and decorated the cake with some rosettes and a pathetic attempt at a buttercream rose.

I was so proud of the fact that I was able to pull together a four layer cake, that came out almost flawless. My sister was super happy with the result, which in turn made me happy; despite the fact that a ton of things went wrong (which I honestly just noticed as I was writing all of this). The cake was truly fluffy and reminded me a lot of box cake mix, except that this tasted eons better than the boxed stuff. Although this cake’s method was strange, it was important for the awesome taste and texture it provided. The frosting’s pretty pink tint was a lovely visual contrast against the white cake. It was definitely sweet and airy, with the slightest hint of tangy strawberry. The fact remains that buttercream tastes like ice cream, and this was no exception.

If anything, all these minor (hah) mishaps left me wondering when I’ll make my next layer cake. I had fun making this cake, and reveled at the fact that it looked like the real deal; like something you’d find in a real bakery. I’m extremely pleased that I helped make my sister’s special day a success, and hope that this year is her greatest yet.

My lovely (and old) sister with her cake. Cameo from my mom in the back

My lovely (and old) sister with her cake. Cameo from my mom in the back

For the Fluffy Vanilla Cake and Whipped Strawberry Frosting recipes, please visit Rosie’s amazing blog, Sweetapolita by clicking on these links.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • Follow the cake recipe verbatim! Although the process may seem strange (read: like no other way you’ve ever mixed a cake), it really does work. Also, use a large bowl; flying pieces of floured butter are NOT a good time. 
  • Weigh everything. I know it’s a pain but accuracy is definitely required to make Rosie’s cakes successfully. This is especially helpful if you tend to buy extra large eggs!
  • Use frozen strawberries for the puree, unless the fresh ones near you actually taste like strawberries. Also, no need to cook them if frozen. Have extra puree? Make bellinis
  • Keep cake chilled if you’re not serving it immediately or if you have a warm house, but remove from the fridge at least 20-30 minutes before serving. The buttercream hardens in the fridge and needs a chance to soften up for slicing. 
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Hot Cross Buns

My family isn’t really into holidays. If I’m not at the helm of the celebrations, nothing actually gets celebrated. I’m usually the one in charge of Christmas and Thanksgiving, along with birthdays and any other festivities. That’s because I love traditions, and even though our Easter traditions died with my youth, I’m tempted to resurrect them now as an adult (see what I did there?). When my sister and I were younger, we’d do the fancy dress, church, candy deal. All the kids in the building would get together and share candy while wearing our Sunday best, while the adults did their own thing.

These days, we don’t really do much for Easter. The only thing kept alive during these times is the making of a huge pot of habichuelas con dulce for Good Friday; a sweet dessert type thing from the homeland made of  blended, cooked red beans with tons of milk, sugar, spices, and patience. Inside of this slurry there are raisins, sometimes yellow yams (sweet potatoes?), and these mini milk cookies that I dubbed ‘Jesus crackers.’ This is the only highlight of Holy Week for me, and while we still get a taste of this traditional drink/dessert every year, I wanted to do more.

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In an effort to inject a little bit of some American traditions into my house, I tried making some hot cross buns. We were already used to buying those hot cross buns from the supermarket around this time of year. You know the ones; in a certain white and blue box boasting a mass of perforated shiny slabs that held barely any dried fruit, draped with a thick, white and slippery cross of icing draped over the top. Well, not this year.

The last time we had these in the house, I realized that I could do better. My family could do better. Sure, these buns were alright by their standards, but why stick to the packaged stuff when it’s this easy to make your own? After getting really accustomed to working with yeast and getting real deep in dough, I knew this wasn’t much of a challenge. Except, I needed a recipe.

I had an idea of what I wanted for these buns. My parental units like their carbs on the sweet side, so that was a no brainer. They’re also pretty into dried fruit. Besides taking part in hot cross buns during Easter, they are also big fans of fruitcake for Christmas. Yes, the stuff most people throw out, my parents purchase willingly. What can I say? They dig the fruit. Anyway, I knew I wanted to throw in as much dried fruit as I could into these babies. I opted for The Pioneer Woman’s super easy recipe but adjusted the amounts of fruit, among other things. Besides the recommended raisins, I also threw in some dried cranberries and chopped, dried apricots into the dough. All the dried fruit was about a cup’s worth, meaning these were packed with fruity goodness. I was tempted to soak them in some booze first but this is a holy holiday; I’m not about to get struck by lightning or spontaneously combust into flames over some boozy fruit.

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Not only was I tempted to booze these buns up, I almost didn’t add the cross. Before y’all smite me, let me explain. I’ve mentioned it several times here already but in case you didn’t know, my folks are not fond of any type of icing or frosting. Shameful, I know but that’s just how they roll. I’m quite the opposite (thank goodness) but I didn’t want my parents to skip out on these, considering I made these with them in mind. I even contemplated just doing some of them but that’s just not right. The whole point of these things is the cross; hence the name “hot cross buns.” What are they without that strip of frosting? A roll. It’s just a roll. I threw caution to the wind and crossed them all, hoping I didn’t just make a huge mistake.

While these buns are traditionally supposed to be eaten on Good Friday, we had these for Easter Sunday. And despite the presence of icing, these were actually a big hit! Not surprising, considering the circumstances. Even though the dough was a little tricky to work with, the buns came out super soft, chewy, and studded with fruit. The icing cross actually made these buns, adding an extra hint of sweetness to these lightly sweetened buns. Crazy what a little icing can do!  No one missed the tasteless, slimy, and sticky mess from the box this year.

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While this wasn’t what we used to do for Easter back in the day, it may be the beginning of a new tradition. Something tells me this won’t be the last time I make these, either.

Hot Cross Buns – adapted from The Pioneer Woman 

Makes 18 buns

Buns:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsps Active Dry Yeast (1 packet)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (additional) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 heaping tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 scant tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsps salt

Filling:

  • 1/4 sugar
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • pinch of allspice
  • 1 cup mixed, dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, currants, apricots, etc.)

Glaze:

  • 1 egg white
  • Splash of milk

Icing:

  • 1 egg white
  • Powdered sugar
  • Splash of milk

Directions:

  1. For the buns: combine 2 cups of milk, stick of butter and 1/2 cup of sugar in a sauce pan. Heat until butter is just melted. Mix should be warm but not boiling. Take off heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
  2. Pour the mix into a bigger bowl. Sprinkle the yeast onto the liquid mix and add the 2 cups of whole wheat flour, and the 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir to combine; the mixture should be sticky. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  3. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
  4. In a smaller bowl, combine the 1/4 cup of sugar with the cinnamon and other spices. Set aside for now.
  5. Lightly flour your surface. Turn dough out and slightly flatten. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of the spiced sugar, and about a third of the dried fruits. Fold the dough over onto itself, flattening slightly. You should have a “plain” surface of dough. Sprinkle some more spiced sugar, dried fruit, and fold the dough over again. Repeat this process once more. No worries if you have left over spiced sugar.
  6. Portion and form the dough into dough balls. Place on a lined baking sheet and cover. Proof for 30 minutes to an hour.
  7. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  8. For the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white with a splash of milk. Brush the risen balls of dough with the beaten white.
  9. Bake rolls for about 20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Remove from the pan and transfer to wire racks to COOL COMPLETELY.
  10. For the icing: beat the egg white with enough sifted powdered sugar to make a thick icing. Add in small amounts of milk, if needed, to reach your desired consistency.
  11. Place icing in a ziplock bag. Snip the corner off and pipe icing crosses onto each roll.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • I used a combo of soy, 2% and rice milk without any issues
  • I also used the remaining egg white/milk from the glaze for the icing  
  • Sift the powdered sugar for the icing; trust me

 

Baked Mini Doughnuts

Doughnuts have been on my to-make list for what feels like an eternity. It’s one of those simple desserts that seems approachable but is really elusive; at least to me. Doughnuts (or donuts) are really flippin’ delicious. My favorite is probably jelly because hello, raspberry filling plus granulated sugar on a puff of fried dough is just perfection. Of course, I’m talking about Dunkin’ Donuts. The words “perfection” and “Dunkin'” don’t really belong in the same sentence (or even alluded to it), but I digress. What makes doughnuts delicious is that it’s fried dough, and therein lies my first roadblock.

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I don’t really have a problem with fried food. Some of my favorite foods are fried (ahem, fries) but there’s just something about boiling something in scorching hot oil that turns me off. Essentially, I have a fear of frying. Hot oil is kind of scary. Not only that but if you don’t have the proper equipment and environment, deep frying is a recipe for disaster. As much as I wanted to try frying, I didn’t want to risk it at the expense of our tiny kitchen/apartment. The obvious alternative is to bake them.

I don’t know about you guys but baked doughnuts are somewhat of a copout. Especially those made in donut pans. I still think it’s ridiculous to have a specialty pan for these sort of things, like those whoopie pie pans that now exist for some reason. I can’t justify a donut pan purchase, despite the fact that I really want a pair. Doughnuts made in those contraptions are like a donut shaped cupcake/muffin; it’s just not the same.

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That’s why I smiled like an idiot when this recipe graced my inbox a couple weeks ago. I read the recipe and it seemed easy enough to pull off in an afternoon, and had potential to be delicious. I was also happy about the presence of yeast in the ingredients. Doughnuts usually take yeast, so I had a feeling these were gonna be for real.

I’m no stranger to yeasted dough, considering I get down and dirty with a bowl of dough at least once a week. However, I was NOT expecting this dough to be that sticky. I had several mishaps (surprise surprise) while forming the dough into doughnuts. It was ridiculously soft and sticky, and I couldn’t lift the circles off my mat. It was a messy situation, hence why I don’t have any pictures of the process. I ended up adding quite a bit of flour and kneading the dough a bit, until it was slightly less sticky and easier to handle. I punched out my doughnuts using the same method from the Samoa recipe; a biscuit cutter and a milk cap.

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They came out looking like real little doughnuts! I even baked the doughnut holes, instead of re-rolling them into more doughnuts. In the end, I got 28 doughnuts and 32 donut holes. I was psyched about my sudden abundance of doughy rings, that I planned several different toppings. For the doughnut holes (and like, three doughnuts), I tossed them while warm in some melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar. The majority of the donuts were dunked in a simple vanilla glaze and then covered in toasted sweetened coconut. The other stragglers were either dunked in the same vanilla glaze or in some melted semisweet chocolate and topped with sprinkles.

On their own, these doughnuts aren’t anything to write home about. The dough is kind of bland and depends on the topping for any actual flavor. Despite this, the hint of cinnamon in the dough leaves you begging for more, and worked well with all of the toppings I used. I think that for next time, I will probably add a bit more flour to the dough, along with about a 1/3 cup of sugar and possibly an extra yolk. I’d also proof them after cutting them out into doughnuts.

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Overall, this was a great starter doughnut experience. I loved how the dough let the toppings shine but still brought its own subtle flavor to the mix. While I’m not ready to fry or cave and get those doughnut pans, these little rings, along with some tinkering will do just fine.

Mini Baked Doughnuts – adapted from PureWow

Makes about 2 dozen; depending on the size of your cutter

  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

  1. In a small pot over medium to low hear, warm the milk, water and butter until slightly warm to the touch (about 95° to 100°). Whisk in the egg.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, or using a large bowl and a wooden spoon, mix the flour with the salt and cinnamon.

  3. Add the yeast and the milk mixture and mix on low speed, or by hand until the dough begins to come together; 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough is smooth (it will be pretty sticky), 5 minutes more. If mixing by hand, this may take an extra 5 minutes.

  4. Transfer the dough to a large bowl lightly greased with nonstick spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until double in size, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a ½-inch-thick rectangle. Using a small round cookie cutter or the rim of a small glass, cut out circles of dough. Use a smaller cookie cutter or glass to cut another hole in the center of each circle. Dip your cutters/glasses into some flour between cuts, to prevent sticking.

  6. Transfer the doughnuts to the prepared baking sheet. Brush lightly with melted butter and bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl.
  2. While the doughnuts are still warm, dunk them in melted butter and then toss in the cinnamon sugar. Take care not to do too many at the same time; the butter will moisten the sugar and it’ll get all clumpy and will not want to adhere to the doughnut.

Chocolate Glaze – adapted from allrecipes

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
  • 10 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

Directions:

  1. Combine the chopped chocolate with the butter in a heatproof bowl. Set over a small pot with some simmering water and melt gently. Stir frequently until melted. Remove from heat and use immediately.

Vanilla Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2-6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Sift the powdered sugar into a medium sized bowl. Whisk in the milk gradually, by the tablespoon, until it reaches your desired consistency. Stir in the vanilla extract, and use immediately.

 

Lucy’s Tips:

  • Echoing what I said above, I’d add about 1/3 cup of sugar, an egg yolk, and maybe 1/2 cup of flour to the dough next time. I’d also proof the doughnuts a second time after cutting out the shapes.
  • The recipe calls for whole milk but I used soy milk just fine.
  • For the vanilla glaze, it isn’t necessary to use all the milk; just keep adding until the glaze reaches your desired thickness.
  • For the chocolate glaze, try not to get any water into the chocolate; it’ll seize and reach the point of no return. 

 

Kitchen Experiments: Meringues

Meringues have always been one of my favorite mystery kitchen experiments. I never really understood how or what was required to make these yummy things, or how simple it actually is. My first tastes of meringue were courtesy of traditional Dominican desserts. Our birthday cakes are covered in meringue frosting, similar to seven minute icing. It is soft, fluffy, super sweet and resembles marshmallow fluff. When the cake is left out for a couple hours, the frosting begins to harden and form a bit of a crunchy shell. The longer it sat out, the crunchier it’d get. The thick layer of frosting helps preserve the cake layers underneath; keeping the cake relatively moist. As an adult, it’s still my favorite part of Dominican cakes. Sometimes, I collect my parents’ and sister’s leftover frosting off their pieces of cake and refrigerate it for a couple days so some of it would harden; giving me a mix of soft, fluffy frosting with tons of crunchy bits.

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These days, the only way I can get my meringue fix is if I make them myself. This was definitely a kitchen experiment to me. I’ve played around with meringue several times before but never made the actual meringue cookie. For this batch, I used Food52’s non-recipe to make my meringues. I had one egg white sitting around my fridge that needed to be made into something. This non-recipe uses ratios to figure out how much of each ingredient is needed to make consistent meringue cookies, depending on how many whites you have.

The ratios are: 1 part egg whites: 2 parts sugar: .5 parts (in tsps) cream of tartar

My amounts were:  1/4 cup of egg whites (from two whites): 1/2 cup sugar: 1/8 tsp cream of tartar.

Sounds simple and straightforward, right? Well, the difficulties (if any) lie in the method. The egg whites must be room temperature before whipping to soft peaks. Before you even do that, you have to make sure your bowl and beaters are completely grease free. Feeling skeptical? Wipe your tools down with a small amount of lemon juice before whipping.

Before beginning, preheat your oven to 225F, and arrange your oven racks in either the lower and upper thirds of the oven or place one rack in the center. Low temperatures are crucial for meringues; don’t try to hike it up so they’ll be done quicker. Your patience will be rewarded.

Pour your whites in your grease free bowl with the cream of tartar and whip away with your beaters. You’ll notice how bubbly the mixture gets as you whip. For this method, the whites need to be whipped to soft peaks. What does this mean? A soft peak means that when held up, the whites can’t hold the peak. Turn off your beaters and dip them straight down into the bowl. Lift them up and turn the beaters over. The egg whites on the tip of the beaters should be soft, airy, and begin to lose their form the longer you have the beaters facing up.

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Soft, bubbly peaks

At this stage, we’re ready to gradually add the sugar. Start by adding in the sugar, while beating, by the tablespoon. Incorporate the sugar for about 10 seconds before adding another tablespoon. Keep going until all the sugar is completely incorporated. Turn your beaters on high and beat the whites into submission. The whites will have turned into meringue, thanks to the addition of the sugar. You’ll notice the mixture is now glossy, thick and slightly heavy. Continue beating until you have stiff peaks; meaning the meringue holds the peak when held up.

After you’ve reached this point, add your flavorings. I added about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to this batch but the sky’s the limit. You can add zest to make lemon, lime, or orange meringues. Mint, almond, or coconut extracts to make flavored meringues. You can also add melted semisweet chocolate to make chocolate meringues! The options are endless.

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Now that you have your meringue, it’s time to portion them out on a lined baking sheet. You can portion out your cookies with two spoons, a piping bag, or attempt to use a disher, like I did. It went pretty well but after a few cookies, the meringue didn’t want to come out of the disher.  I coaxed them out of the disher with a spatula and continued to portion them out. I topped mine with some sprinkles but it’s totally optional.

Once all portioned out, place your baking sheet in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Yes, you read that right. This is by far, the hardest part of the recipe. I know it’s such a LONG TIME but the wait is worth it. The oven’s low temperature gently coaxes out the meringues’ moisture, leaving a crunchy, melt in your mouth cookie.

You’ll notice that the finished meringues’ shine has dulled and that they are super light in weight. That dull exterior is hiding a crunchy and sweet interior that tastes like vanilla flavored air. Weird description but I feel like meringues are what marshmallows would be if they ever got completely hard.

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Now that I know how easy it is to make these, my favorite cookies won’t be out of reach anymore. I can now experiment with different flavors and make as many or as little as I want!

Meringues Without A Recipe – adapted from Food52

Makes approximately 19 meringues

  • 1/4 cup of egg whites (from two whites), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 225F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your oven racks in either the lower or upper thirds of the oven (for multiple sheets) or in the center of the oven (for one sheet).
  2. In a dry, clean, medium sized mixing bowl, beat the whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer until foamy and can form soft peaks.
  3. Gradually add the sugar, by the tablespoon, waiting about 10 seconds before adding another spoonful. Continue beating until all the sugar has been incorporated and the whites are stiff and glossy.
  4. Add the vanilla (or other flavorings) and beat to incorporate. Drop the meringues onto the prepared sheet either with a piping bag, a set of spoons, or a disher.
  5. Bake your meringues for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, rotating the pan(s) halfway through baking.
  6. Turn the oven off and cool the meringues inside the oven until completely cool. Meringues should come off the parchment cleanly. Place in an airtight container to prevent softening.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • Egg whites are best separated cold but whip better when warm. Separate your eggs straight out of the fridge but leave them on the counter for an hour or so, until it’s room temp. In a hurry? Place your cold whites in an airtight container and sit the container in a bowl with warm water. Swirl the container in the water for a couple minutes or until the whites no longer feel cold. 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am not a big fan of making cookies. I love eating cookies but making them has always been a chore to me. I don’t know, but there’s something about the process being longer than the actual baking times that has always messed me up. That, and my adversity to butter didn’t really help. Now, this blog is no stranger to cookies; which I have maybe forced myself to make. Not only do I love cookies, but my family are cookie heads (is that even a term? It is now). My dad, who seems to have somewhat of a fierce sweet tooth (just not as fierce as mine) loves to have something sweet with his coffee. When it isn’t a muffin, he looks to cookies. I get on his case ALL THE TIME because he likes to buy cookies. Not just any cookies, but supermarket cookies that are dry, flavorless, and maybe even stale. I shudder at the thought, to be honest. Like, why would he buy cookies when he could ask me to make them? I bet I’d like making cookies if I made them more often and that’s what sparked this recipe/post.

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My sister was the one that actually nagged me about making these. She’s no stranger to nagging, and I’m sort of immune to it at this point but what can I say? I’m a people pleaser. We went to Trader Joe’s a while back and I picked up a bag of their semi-sweet chocolate chips. Have I told y’all how much I love Trader Joe’s? I love the fact that everything in there is affordable and of really good quality; its chocolate is no exception. These chocolate chips were pretty huge but they are really good, and even better in these cookies.

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Anyway, these cookies. I wanted a recipe that was chewy but also has some structure. Way way back, when I was young, naive, and did not do the groceries, my favorite chocolate chip cookies were those Keebler SoftBatch cookies. I barely ate them but when I did, it was an experience. To me, they were top notch. How can a packaged cookie be this good, I’d think to myself. So chewy, soft and plenty of chocolate chips; it was heaven (again, I was young and naive. Forgive me). I wasn’t aiming for cookies like those exactly but I wanted the ~experience~ with whichever recipe I chose.

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I obviously went to Deb (my recipe savior as of late) and chose one of her recipes. These are super simple and can almost be a one bowl deal. The best part is that you don’t have to wait for butter to soften because it needs to be melted for this recipe. I made these cookies on a Sunday and they were all gone by Tuesday. They are THAT good. The cookies are chock full of chocolate chips that were just pools of awesomeness against the sweetness of the cookie. The texture was definitely crispy but chewy; reminding me of a meringue cookie because of its crackly and crunchy top. They get crispier as they cool but they stay absolutely delicious. I have already gotten several requests from my dad to make these again, and will soon. Just when I thought I hated making cookies 😉

Crispy, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

makes 32 3 1/2″ cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.
  3. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Add in the sifted ingredients until just blended.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Drop cookie dough using a cookie scoop or two spoons onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
  5. Bake cookies for about 15 to 17 minutes, or until edges are lightly toasted. Watch them as baking times will vary by size or preference. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • I used a #50 cookie scoop and got 32 cookies about 3 1/2″ in diameter. Cookie amounts will vary depending on the size of your scoop. 
  • Refrigerating the dough for several minutes produced cookies that were slightly darker in appearance. No change in taste, but worth noting. 
  • These babies are best when warm but are still awesome cold. I think they’d be even better with some ice cream!