The Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Chocolate Chip Cookie

A chocolate chip cookie, the ultimate comfort food.  Who can resist them? But do you know its history?  Most of us don’t and it’s really quite interesting no matter which version you believe!

For starters the chocolate chip cookie is a true American concoction that came to be quite accidentally when its original baker ran out of Baker’s chocolate, or nuts.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Ok back in 1930 a dietician named Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband Kenneth purchased a Cape Cod style house in Whitman a town between Boston and New Bedford,  Massachusetts.   The house was originally built in 1709 and was used by travelers to rest, change horses, have a meal, and pay any tolls needed to use the road.  Ruth and Kenneth soon turned their home into a lodge which, with a nod to its past, they named “The Toll House Inn”.

Now Ruth was a skilled baker and soon drew in visitors from all over the northeast.  Many came to sample her delicious baked goods.  One of her favorite desserts were Butter Drop Do Cookies and her recipe which dated back to colonial days called for Baker’s chocolate.  So one day in 1937 Ruth was making these Butter Drop Do Cookies and found herself lacking the chocolate, so she chopped up a bar of Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate into tiny pieces thinking that the chocolate would melt and spread throughout the dough.  When it didn’t the chocolate chip cookie was born!  Well that’s one version; another version is she ran out of nuts and substituted the chopped chocolate; still another version claims she accidentally dropped a bar of chocolate into the dough and it broke into tiny morsels.  Whatever the version it’s all part of chocolate chip cookie history!

The new cookies were a hit and Ruth called them “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies”.  Her recipe was published in news papers all over New England and the sales of Nestle’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate bars rocketed.

Then in 1939 when “Betty Crocker” (she was a fictional character who had a radio show) featured them on her radio series “Famous Foods from Famous Eating Places” the chocolate chip cookie went big time!  Ruth being a shrewd gal approached Nestle’s and struck a deal, they could print her recipe on all their semi-sweet bars and later bags in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolates.  Lucky lady!

In the 1940’s Ruth sold Nestle’s the name “Toll House” and the cookies were widely known as Toll House Cookies.  Nestle lost the trademarked rights to the name in 1983, Toll House is now legally the generic name for a chocolate chip cookie.

The cookie has become the most popular cookie worldwide and is the official cookie of Massachusetts.  As for Ruth and hubby they sold the Toll House Inn in 1966 and it burned down on New Year’s Eve 1984.

So now you know its history.   I’m sure you also know many versions of the chocolate chip cookie recipe have popped up, you may even have your own, I know I do!  But have you ever tried The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie?  It’s one of our favorites!  You can order it for dessert at their Mariposa Restaurant where you get a boxed set of 3 cookies and a recipe card, very cute!  Or you can buy the giant sized cookie at their Bistro.  And you can also buy tins of them from the Neiman’s gourmet food department at Christmas time.  We do all 3!  A box of 3 from the restaurant costs $6, the giant cookie at the Bistro is $5, and a tin of them will set you back about $20+.

But Neiman’s is nice enough to share their recipe, remember the boxed set at Mariposa comes with a recipe card.  So if you don’t feel like shelling out $5 or more for a cookie or two; or if you’ve never tried the Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie then read on because I’m sharing it today!


The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
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Servings
2 Dozen
Servings
2 Dozen
The Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
Print Recipe
Servings
2 Dozen
Servings
2 Dozen
Ingredients
Servings: Dozen
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Cream the butter with the sugars using an electric mixer on medium speet until fluffy - approximately 30 seconds
  3. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract for another 30 seconds
  4. In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds
  5. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips
  6. Using a 1 oz. scoop or 2 Tbs. measure, drop cookie dough onto a gr eased cookie sheet about 3" apart.
  7. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into a 2" circle
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges. Bake a bit longer for crispier cookies.
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Banana Foster Dutch Baby for Father’s Day

Banana Foster Dutch Baby for Father’s Day

Dutch babySunday is Father’s Day.  Why night surprise dad with this yummy Banana Foster Dutch Baby?

You can serve it for breakfast or brunch or even as dessert after lunch or dinnerr.  It’s absolutely wonderful.  It’s creamy and rich caramel sauce, homemade of course, goes lovely with fresh bananas sliced over a yummy dutch baby pancake.

But first you might ask what exactly is a Dutch Baby.  Well it’s basically a German Pancake; it’s a cross between a crepe and a popover.  Traditionally German Pancakes are small round flat cakes but the American version somehow ended up being a large round pouffy cake best made in a cast iron skillet.

 

My Banana Foster Dutch Baby uses the basic recipe I use for the Dutch Baby with Lemon Curd and Blueberries.  I just use different toppings.  Click here for that recipe.

While you’re making the Dutch Babies in the oven you can make my simple homemade caramel sauce, or you can make the sauce earlier.  I always keep a jar in the fridge because the sauce is yummy on just about everything including ice cream, cakes, and fruit.  It’s great for dipping too!

Anyway once your Dutch Babies are done top it with sliced bananas drizzled with caramel sauce, then top it all off with whipped cream! You can’t possible go wrong!

Banana Foster Dutch Baby

Ingredients:

Dutch Baby or Mini Dutch Babies – Click here for the basic recipe

2 – 3 Bananas, sliced

Caramel Sauce – scroll down for the recipe

Whipped cream

Directions:

Make one large or 2 mini Dutch Babies according to the recipe

Make a batch of caramel sauce

Top with sliced bananas

Drizzle with caramel sauce

Top with whipped cream

Homemade Caramel Sauce
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Homemade Caramel Sauce
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a heavy sauce pan combine all ingredients except Vanilla Extract and stir over medium high heat
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Cook for another 10 minutes or until it thickens - stir constantly
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract
  5. Serve warm or store in a container in the refrigerator.
Recipe Notes

Refrigerated sauce may become too thick.  Heat in microwave for 30-60 seconds or until it loosens up enough to use.

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Dutch Baby With Lemon Curd and Berries

Dutch Baby With Lemon Curd and Berries

Lately I’ve been really loving these Dutch Babies!  You might be wondering what exactly is a Dutch Baby.  No, I’m not referring to those adorable blond haired blue eyed cuties one would expect to see in Amsterdam, I’m talking about these yummy dessert or breakfast pancake like creations topped which sweet or savory morsels of goodness.

A Dutch Baby is sort of a cross between a pancake, a crepe, and a popover.  And before you can ask it did not originate in the Netherlands, in fact there is nothing “Dutch” about it.  It is also called a German Pancake and in Germany is called an Apfelpfannkuchen and was originally served as 3 small pancakes with lemon squeezed on it and then sprinkled with sugar.  Somehow it evolved into larger sized pancakes.

But back to the name, the story goes that a Seattle diner called Manca’s Cafe back in the 1900s to the1950s served the German Pancake called Deutche Pancake (Deutche is the German word for well German).  The owner’s name was Victor Manca, and his young granddaughter could not pronounce Deutche, instead she called it Dutch.  And so the Americanized German Pancake was born!

However it got its name it’s still a delicious addition to breakfast, lunch, or even dinner; remember you can top it with just about anything.  I’m not a big pancake fan, but I do love crepes; unfortunately I seldom make them at home because I really don’t like standing at the stove frying either one, I find it tedious.  That’s why I love a Dutch Baby!  It’s not fried, it’s baked!  Now that’s something I can definitely get behind!.

Seriously Dutch Babies are super easy to make, you just mix the ingredients together, pour the batter in a cast iron skillet, pop it in the oven and in less than half an hour your Dutch Baby is ready to be topped and served!  Easy peasy nice and breezy!

I’m sharing this simple Dutch Baby recipe today.  I topped my Dutch Baby with lemon curd and fresh berries, it made a great dessert!  You can top it the same way; sprinkle it with powdered sugar; spread it with jam; or even top it with ham and cheese for a nice savory lunch or dinner.  In short just top it anyway you want!

Now this recipe makes a large Dutch Baby, I made it in a 10″ skillet.  You can adjust the recipe to suit your needs or if you like you can split the batter between two 5″ skillets and have personal pan Dutch Babies that each person can top the way they want.  If you’re making the large version just slice it up into wedges like you would a cake to serve.

 

 

Dutch Baby With Lemon Curd and Berries
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Dutch Baby With Lemon Curd and Berries
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place eggs, flour, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest into a blender and blend until smooth
  2. Place butter in a cast iron skillet or any type of heavy skillet and place it in the oven until butter has melted.
  3. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20 minutes until the edges have puffed up and the pancake is golden brown
  4. Lower oven temperature to 300 and bake another 5 minutes
  5. Remove from oven and spread with lemon curd, top with fresh berries, and sprinkle powered sugar over all.
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Sweet Potato Pie – Old Fashioned Comfort Food

Every year at Thanksgsweet potato pieiving I like to try something new to add to our Thanksgiving dinner menu.  If we like it then it becomes a permanent addition to our traditional meal.

This year my grandson Dion and I decided to try our had at a Southern Thanksgiving meal staple, Sweet Potato Pie.  I’ve never actually had Sweet Potato Pie, but Dion loves it.  He says it’s his favorite pie, specially the way his grandmother from Atlanta makes it.

Sweet Potato Pie is a Southern specialty that can be served instead of or beside the traditional Pumpkin Pie which graces just about everyone’s Thanksgiving dessert table.

So we searched online for a Sweet Potato Pie recipe; we found hundreds!  Each one touting that it was the best of course.  Well we experimented with a couple of different recipes and relied on Dion’s recollections of watching his Southern grandma make her pies.  In the end by tweaking and patching several recipes together we ended up with our own version which turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself.

We’ll share our version of Sweet Potato Pie below, but before we do here are a few things we learned along the way.  It might help you out and save you from making the same mistakes we made.

  1.  Use fresh yams!  Not canned yams preserved in sweet syrup!  Don’t get me started on this, just ask yourself, would your granny use canned yams?  I doubt it!
  2. Use Large RED Yams.  Not white yams, or purple yams, or Okinawan sweet potato.  Just plain old Red Yams!  And before you ask, yes there are many varieties of yams and sweet potatoes in the markets.  So don’t get fancy, keep it simple, RED Yams.
  3. Bake your yams DO NOT boil them!  This saves you from peeling and chopping raw yams.  BTW have you ever tried peeling and chopping raw yams or sweet potatoes?  No?  Well let me tell you peeling and chopping wood might just be easier!  Most importantly baked yams make a better pie filling, it’s not mushy or watery like boiled yams can be.  And you can bake yams for your Sweet Potato Pie up to a week before you actually make your pie.  Still not convinced or it sounds too tedious?  Remember even though it takes an hour to bake the yams it’s actually a hands off hour so you can do something else like making applesauce, doing laundry, or relaxing in the tub.
  4. Baking yams – Place 3 large yams (you wash them first of course) on a parchment covered baking sheet and pop them in a 375° oven.  Bake for 1 hour then remove from oven.  If you are using it to make Sweet Potato Pie right away peel off the skin and mash the yams to make 2 cups of mashed yams then follow the rest of the recipe to make the pie.  If you baked the yams in advance you can either mash it then store the mashed yams in the fridge in an airtight container or place the whole unpeeled yams in a ziplock and refrigerate until you’re ready to mash them for your Sweet Potato Pie.
  5. Just like Pumpkin and pecan pies, a Sweet Potato Pie is considered a custard pie; hence it must have some form of milk or cream.  There are recipes out there that call for milk, cream, or half-and-half; but since it’s a truly Southern specialty you should use canned evaporated milk.  That’s what they used in the Southern states.  Trust me on this you’ll end up with a creamier and smoother Sweet Potato Pie when you use canned evaporated milk.
  6. When you bake your pie pay close attention to the timer.  Test pie before removing from oven.  First nudge the pie – the center of the pie should be slightly softer than the rest of the pie so that it jiggles a bit when nudged.  Then insert a knife or a toothpick at the center – it should come out clean but moist.
  7. Let baked pie stand for about 30 minutes before cutting it.  This will firm it up so sliced don’t fall apart.  Better yet refrigerate the pie overnight then remove from fridge about 30 minutes before serving so it warms up to room temperature.  I like my custard pies cool I feel it brings out the sweetness.

Having said that here’s our recipe:

Ingredients:

2 Large Red Yams – Baked & Mashed to yield 3 cups (see tips for baking instructions)

1  Cup butter – softened

4  Cups Sugar

1 Can Evaporated Milk 12oz.

1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

6  eggs – beaten

1 1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon

2 Unbaked deep dish pie shells – homemade or frozen

Proceedure:

Mix together first 4 ingredients until well blended.

Stir in Vanilla, Eggs, and Cinnamon.

Pour filling into unbaked pie shells.

Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until filling is set and/or tester comes out clean but moist.

Let stand at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Garnish and serve with whipped cream if desired.

 

Sweet Potato Pie
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Sweet Potato Pie
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix together first 4 ingredients until well blended.
  2. Stir in Vanilla, Eggs, and Cinnamon.
  3. Pour filling into unbaked pie shells.
  4. Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until filling is set and/or tester comes out clean but moist.
  5. Let stand at least 30 minutes before slicing.
  6. Garnish and serve with whipped cream if desired.
Recipe Notes

Baking yams - Place 3 large yams (you wash them first of course) on a parchment covered baking sheet and pop them in a 375° oven.  Bake for 1 hour then remove from oven.  If you are using it to make Sweet Potato Pie right away peel off the skin and mash the yams to make 2 cups of mashed yams then follow the rest of the recipe to make the pie.  If you baked the yams in advance you can either mash it then store the mashed yams in the fridge in an airtight container or place the whole unpeeled yams in a ziplock and refrigerate until you're ready to mash them for your Sweet Potato Pie.

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Snowball Cookies – Without Nuts

Snowball Cookies – Without Nuts

Snowball Cookies are also called Mexican Wedding Cookies and Russian Tea Cakes. What I love the most of these cookies is the texture and the fluffiness, not too sweet powdered sugar coating. My mother baked snowballs during Christmas, New Year and other special occasions.

Snowballs comfort me whenever I’m sad, my mom gave me those when I’m upset and crying. It makes me feel better and happy.

This is my version of Snowball Cookies also called Mexican Wedding Cookies and also called Russian Tea Cakes. Enjoy!!!

 

Ingredients:

2 cups butter “2 sticks”, soft. I used salted

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup powdered sugar

+ 2 cups powdered sugar (for coating)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix butter & powdered sugar together using a large mixing bowl and add in vanilla extract.

Add the flour & mix until soft dough ball formed.

Roll the dough into 1″ balls & place on ungreased cookie sheet (I used a nonstick baking mat).

Bake for about 9 minutes or until cookies are set but not brown.

Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes then roll in a bowl of powdered sugar.

Place on cooling rack to cool and roll in powdered sugar again.

Serve,

Share with your family and friends,

Enjoy!!!

Snowball Cookies - Without Nuts
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Snowball Cookies - Without Nuts
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Mix butter & powdered sugar together using a large mixing bowl and add in vanilla extract.
  3. Add the flour & mixed until soft dough ball formed.
  4. Roll the dough into 1" balls & place on ungreased cookie sheet (I used a nonstick baking mat).
  5. Bake for about 9 minutes or until cookies are set but not brown.
  6. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes then roll in a bowl of powdered sugar.
  7. Place on cooling rack to cool and roll in powdered sugar again.
  8. Serve,
  9. Share with your family and friends,
  10. Enjoy!!!
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