Tag Archives: baking

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The world loves its chocolate chip cookies, and that makes them immensely difficult to bake. By buying from bakeries built on the backbones of their basics, we consume so many magnificent cookies. Our palates and preferences become particular. Prickly. 

Consider the precise chemical nature of baking. This is why, more than any other baked good, you can find endless variations of CC cookies with fractional ingredients and precise timings. People recommend specific brands of ingredients, and bakeries sometimes get their chocolate chips custom made specifically for their cookies.

I’ve read lots of articles about the science of chocolate chip cookies, like by the Times/Jacques Torres and Serious Eats/Kenji Lopez-Alt and NPR, but I just started with  the Times’s recipe. It’s good. My roommate has snapchats to prove it.

This is the smallest batch that I can bake as it calls for one large egg (I can’t switch egg sizes lest it ruin my other recipes). All ingredients were from Trader Joe’s except for Domino’s sugar and Diamond Crystal salt.

NYT Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Cream 1.25 stick room-temp butter, 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp light brown sugar, 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar until very light.
  • Add 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla. Mix well.
  • Add 1.75 cup AP flour, 5/8 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp kosher salt. Mix until just combined. Stir in 1/2 lb bittersweet chocolate disks.
  • Spoon into ~18 golf-sized balls. Cover with plastic, refrigerate for 24-72 hours. No less.
  • Place onto parchment-lined baking tray. Sprinkle lightly with flaked sea salt.
  • Bake at 350 F for 17-20 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes, until it solidifies enough to eat warm.

By the way, this makes new recipe #52 for the year. Primary mission accomplished!!


 

Edit: 5/15 another version, this time from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of the Food Lab.

Kenji Chocolate Chip Cookies

    • Brown 1 stick butter by swirling constantly over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp cold water. Chill in fridge for about 20 minutes.
    • Cream 1 egg, 3/8 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla until very light.
    • Add cooled brown butter and 3/8 cup dark brown sugar. Mix to just combine.
    • Combine 1 cup AP flour, 3/8 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp kosher salt, then add. Mix until almost combined.
    • Chop up 4 oz chocolate into half- to quarter-inch chunks. Add. Mix until just combined.
    • Refrigerate dough for 12-72 hours. Divide into ~16 1 tbsp roughly torn balls.
    • Bake at 325 F until edges are golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Let cool for 2 minutes.

Edit 5/27 yet another cookie, this time inspired by the massive scone-like cookies that Levain Bakery on West 74th sells. Recipe from modernhoney.com. Not for the faint of heart.

Levain-like Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Beat 1 stick butter, cold and cut into cubes (scone-style), into 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar.
  • Add 1 egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla and mix fairly well.
  • Combine 1.5 cups AP flour (or sub half with cake flour), 1/2 tsp cornstarch, 3/4 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp baking soda. Add. Mix until almost combined.
  • Add 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup walnut quarters/pieces.
  • Divide into 6 giant balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.
  • Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, until light brown. Don’t overbake. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Edit 6/4: working off this recipe, although the Nutella did not melt as expected. I think I was using an old jar where the top half with disproportionate palm oil had already been scooped off. Still yummy though.

Nutella-stuffed CC Cookies.

  • Beforehand, spoon out ~16 1 tsp dollops of refrigerated Nutella onto a sheet. Freeze.
  • Brown 1 stick butter by swirling constantly over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp cold water. Chill in fridge for about 20 minutes.
  • Cream 1 egg, 3/8 cup sugar, 3/4 tsp vanilla until very light.
  • Add cooled brown butter and 3/8 cup dark brown sugar. Mix to just combine.
  • Combine 1 cup + 2 tbsp AP flour, 3/8 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, then add. Mix until almost combined.
  • Mix in 1 cup chocolate chips until just combined. Refrigerate for 2-72 hours.
  • Spoon out about 1.5 tbsp dough. Roll into a ball. Flatten very thinly. Wrap around frozen nutella balls. Make sure nutella is not protruding. Gently flatten, edges of dough up, with palm onto cookie sheet. Chill again if needed.
  • Bake at 350 F until edges are golden brown, about 10 to 13 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Let cool.

Milk Bread

This is akin to the bread you find in Chinese bakeries. They’re often stuffed with fillings such as custard, red bean, or cha siu, or topped with crusts to make those Hong Kong style pineapple buns (foreshadowing!!!) but as this is my second time ever working with yeast, I’m starting small with just plain loaves.

Recipe from thewoksoflife.com, as always.


Milk Bread

  • Combine 2/3 cup heavy cream, 1 cup whole milk, 1 egg, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 cup AP flour, 3+ cups bread flour, 1 tbsp yeast (1 packet), 1.5 tsp salt. Knead for like 20 minutes.
  • Proof for 1 hour, until grows 1.5x. (cover bowl with damp towel, place in warm spot)
  • Punch down, knead a little to rid of air bubbles.
  • Divide into 8-12 rolls/knots. Place into greased pans. (e.g. 3 rolls in a 9×5 pan, 5 knots scattered in a 9×13 pan).
  • Proof for 1 hour.
  • Brush with egg wash: 1 egg, 1 tsp water.
  • Bake at 35 F for 23-25 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Brush with syrup: 1 tsp sugar in ~1 tsp hot water.

Challah

First time baking with yeast? Obviously, the best first bread to bake is a Jewish ceremonial braided egg bread. It’s so strange to leave a small lump of dough in a sealed bowl, come back two hours later, and find it’s warm and grown to double the size. It’s alive!!

attack of the challah dough

I’ve also never really braided anything. Well, unless you count sutures, lol.

Informed by many recipes and braiding videos around the internet, prominently thekitchn.com


 

Challah

  • 1 packet (2.5 tsp) yeast, sprinkle over 1 cup lukewarm water and pinch sugar. Let stand until frothy.
  • Combine 4.5 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar (or honey), 2 tsp salt.
  • In a well in center, add 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1/4 cup neutral oil (or 1/2 stick butter), activated yeast. Mix until shaggy.
  • Take out, knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary (ended up using ~1/2 cup more flour)
  • Place in oiled bowl, cover, place somewhere warm, let rise for 2 hours to double size.
  • Cut into 6 pieces. Roll and stretch each into 1-inch thick ropes.
  • Pinch together at top. Cross outer strands, start with top one. Braid: Take outside strand and bring it to middle, then bring second strand on opposite side to outside to replace it. Mirror process on other side. Repeat until end. Pinch ends and tuck under loaf. Plump loaf.
  • Place on parchment on baking sheet. Sprinkle with flour, cover with cloth. Let rise for 1 hour.
  • Brush with most of the egg wash: 1 egg + 1 tbsp water.
  • Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes. Rotate pan halfway through, brush emerging crevices with egg . Bake until deeply browned and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. Cool until warm.

Japanese baking

Okay, extending this post.


The fluffy cheesecake has been making (jiggly) waves across social media thanks to BuzzFeed Tasty. 

For my first iteration, I took justonecookbook’s recipe and halved it for a 6″ pan. It came out less fluffy and more tart than I expected. My friend then offered me a tried and true recipe to use for next time. Will be updated after next trial.

Japanese Souffle Cheesecake

  • Prepare 6-in cake pan, lined with parchment paper on bottom and at least 4” on sides.
  • Over double boiler, melt 150g (5.3 oz) cream cheese, 2 tbsp butter, 100 ml (.42 cups) heavy cream
  • Whisk in 3 egg yolks slowly.
  • Sift in 4.5 tbsp cake flour (approx. 4 tbsp all-purpose flour, .5 tbsp cornstarch)
  • Zest in half lemon, add 2 tbsp lemon juice.
  • Refrigerate.
  • Whip 3 egg whites, cold, until opaque and bubbly (2 minutes). Slowly add 100g (~1/2 cup) sugar, then beat at high speed until soft peaks form.
  • Fold meringue into batter gently in thirds.
  • In water bath, bake at 320 F for 70-75 minutes, then 300 F for 10 minutes, until top is golden brown.
  • Dust with confectioner’s sugar, serve with strawberries.

 


With the leftover cream and borrowed cake pan and mixer, I couldn’t help whipping up (literally) another Japanese style pastry. They love their fluffy things. Recipe from washoku.guide.

Except it didn’t turn out that fluffy. Boo.

Matcha Sponge Cake

  • Line 6” springform pan with parchment paper.
  • In clean bowl, whip 2 egg whites while gradually adding 80g (~3/8 cup) sugar. Whip meringue to stiff peaks.
  • Mix in 2 egg yolks.
  • Sift in 66g cake flour (~1/2 cup AP flour, 1 tbsp cornstarch) plus 6g (~1 tbsp) matcha. Then fold in.
  • Melt 20g (1.5 tbsp) butter into 33ml (2tbsp + 1 tsp) milk. Slowly stir into batter.
  • Pour batter into mold. Eliminate bubbles, smooth surface.
  • Bake 30-35 minutes at 170 C (340 F)
  • Cool on rack, then refrigerate for a day.
  • Slice horizontally and fill with (matcha) whipped cream. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.

Matcha Whipped Cream

  • Freeze metal bowl and metal whisk for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 cup heavy cream over 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp matcha. Whip to stiff peaks.

 


Castella (Japanese honey cake)

I may import the recipe here to better categorize it.

Zucchini Bread

It’s like banana bread, but with fewer bananas (0) and more squashes (1). This is what it looks like being made.

Recipe from simplyrecipes.com. Could probably do with <.75 stick butter though haha. Walnuts and dried cranberries are great additions.


Zucchini Bread

  • 1.5-2 cups zucchini (approx. one large squash), coarsely grate and drain.
  • 6 tbsp melted butter, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/8 tsp salt, 2/3 cup sugar. Add zucchini.
  • Add 1.5 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg.
  • Add optionally 1/2 cup nuts and/or dried berries.
  • 350 F, 50 minutes, until clean toothpick.

 

Scones

Originally we sourced a recipe for healthier scones from womensday.com which called for sour cream, except I didn’t have sour cream, so now I just make it with yogurt anyway.

It’s all in cutting the butter, and I take a shortcut by basically mincing the butter before dumping it into the powder.


Rosemary Cranberry Scones

  • 2 cups flour, ¼ cup sugar, 1 tbsp baking powder, ½ tsp salt. Whisk.
  • 6 tbsp cold butter. Cut up with knives into little chunks and incorporate into powder.
  • ¾ cup craisins, 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped. Mix in. (or 1 cup chocolate chips)
  • 1 egg, ⅔ cup yogurt, 1 tsp vanilla extract. Whisk, then add. Don’t overbeat.
  • On floured surface, shape into 1-inch thick round. Cut into 8 slices.
  • 425 F, 12-14 minutes, until golden brown.

 

A Japanese meal

Despite being Taiwanese, my family is probably more into Japanese food. Time to make some.


 

Oyakodon (chicken and egg on rice)

I like this dish so much that I used to order it at all sorts of Japanese restaurants, even forgoing other delicacies. Last year, my mom taught me her version, which is like a Taiwan/Japan hybrid with lots of egg. This time, I’m aiming for more traditional: steaming in the sukiyaki broth, following justonecookbook.com. (last updated 8/29/17)

170204-5740

    • In a small pan, 1/4 cup dashi (1/8 tsp hondashi in boiling water), 1 tbsp mirin, (1 tsp sake), 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp sugar.
    • Add 1/2 small onion thinly sliced in single layer.
    • Add on top 1-1.5 chicken thighs cut into bites obliquely and seasoned with salt and pepper.
    • Simmer covered on medium for 10 minutes.
    • Drizzle in 1 egg. Stir around to distribute. Garnish with scallions/mitsuba. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, until egg is just set.
    • Slide onto bowl of white rice.

 

Chawanmushi (savory egg custard)

My mom makes it with chicken broth instead of dashi. Huh?! Tracking this japancentre.com recipe, with input from here and here.

170204-5742

  • 3 eggs, beat gently
  • 1 cup dashi (1/2 tsp hondashi powder in 1 cup boiling water), 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp mirin, 1 tsp sugar, pinch salt.
    • can substitute with about 1 cup (equivalent of 1.5x volume of eggs) warm chicken broth.
  • Mix into egg slowly. strain through fine sieve.
    • Can add shiitake mushrooms, kamaboko fish cake, carrots, marinated strips chicken shrimp. arrange in bowl and pour egg around.
  • steam 5 minutes medium bowl, then open pot to let out steam, then steam 3 more minutes, until clean toothpick.
    • Can garnish with scallions/mitsuba at halfway point of steaming.

 

Miso Soup

Following instructions on the miso packaging, haha

170204-5735

  • miso paste, sugar, dashi (ratio?), water.
  • serve with scallions, tofu, kombu.

I also stir fried lotus root.


 

For the grand finale:

Castella (Japanese Honey Cake)

I followed this recipe from justonecookbook.com/castella to the letter. Paraphrased here.

170204-5730

  • 3 eggs, at room temp. Beat thoroughly.
  • Add 1/2 cup sugar, with electric hand mixer beat at highest speed for 7+ minutes, until quadruples in volume.
  • 2.5 tbsp honey, diluted with ~2 tbsp warm water, mix in for 30 sec at low speed.
  • 3/4 cup bread flour, double sifted. add in thirds, mixing 15 sec at low speed in between, 1 min at end. Don’t overmix.
  • Pour batter into parchment paper-lined 9×5 metal pan. Dredge with toothpick to break large air bubbles. Drop on counter to level.
  • 325 F, 35 minutes, until clean toothpick.
  • Wrap tightly in plastic, refrigerate overnight upside down.
  • Cut off sides, serve in slices.

updated 3/25, fixing a typo.