Friday, October 29, 2010

If theres one thing I learned.

At pastry school, like most schools I'm sure, we learned our trade by taking our projects apart into separate components. Also, like mastering other talents, my trade can be broken down into a few basic skills that are repeated. Once one understands these elements, the idea of baking and creating amazing pastries is much less daunting.

Is that confusing? Let me give you an example: Boston cream pie is my husband's favorite cake. It consists of layers of vanilla cake, vanilla pastry cream, whipped cream, and chocolate ganache. Each of these ingredients can be combined differently and slightly altered to make other delicious desserts:

Vanilla pastry cream = vanilla pudding or cream puff filling
Whipped cream = easy topping for pie, fruit, or hot chocolate
Chocolate ganache = chocolate truffles or tart filling
Vanilla cake = the base for marble cake, strawberry shortcake, pineapple upsidedown cake, etc...

My point is this- everything gets used and reused to make endless varieties of desserts. Not only is this economical, but it's time saving in a kitchen.

For this very reason I love this cookie recipe from Southern Living that I got from a friend. It starts with the "Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie," which alone is good enough. To make it even better, it has variations that start with the same basic cookie dough which include anything from peanut butter to oatmeal raisin.

Last night when I baked some, I split the raw dough in half. To part I added basic chocolate chips, and the other I put in coconut and white chocolate.

You don't have to stick to only the suggestions in this recipe, either. Try using your own ideas!


  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels


Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until blended.

Combine flour, soda, and salt in a small bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in morsels. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets.

Bake at 350° for 8 to 14 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Decrease salt to 1/2 teaspoon. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter with butter and sugars. Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons. Proceed as directed. (Dough will look a little moist.)

Oatmeal-Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies: Reduce flour to 2 cups. Add 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats to dry ingredients and 1 cup raisins with morsels. Proceed as directed.

Pecan-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Add 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans with morsels. Proceed as directed.

Almond-Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies: Reduce morsels to 1 cup. Add 1/2 cup slivered toasted almonds and 1 cup almond toffee bits. Proceed as directed.

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies: Substitute 1 (12-ounce) package dark chocolate morsels for semisweet chocolate morsels. Proceed as directed.

Chunky Cherry-Double Chip Cookies: Microwave 1 tablespoon water and 1/2 cup dried cherries in a glass bowl at HIGH 30 seconds, stirring once. Let stand 10 minutes. Substitute 1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chunks for morsels. Add 1 cup white chocolate morsels, 1/3 cup slivered toasted almonds, and cherries with chocolate chunks. Proceed as directed.

Coconut-Macadamia Chunk Cookies: Substitute 1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chunks for morsels. Add 1 cup white chocolate morsels, 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut, and 1/2 cup macadamia nuts with chocolate chunks. Proceed as directed.

No comments: