Friday, February 13, 2015

Chocolate chip cookies

I love using local products and supporting regional businesses.  I went to this new chocolate shop in Irvine, Orange County called Choxco.  

They offer a concept called "bean to bar" for all of their chocolate and I must say it really makes all the difference.  

Having the beans roasted onsite seems to really pull out an extraordinary flavor and makes even a regular chocolate chip cookie seem special.

I went with my kids to their grand opening celebration with free samples of hot chocolate, tasting chocolate and bar chocolate.  It also included a guided tour of the facility.  To my understanding large groups can call in and schedule a tour of the facility as well.

They have all sorts of specialty chocolates and most of them were organic.

The hot chocolate is divine.

The flavor of the chocolate is so delicious.  I can't wait to try this chocolate in a brownie.  This is the recipe I use to freeze cookie dough balls which I later pull out whenever I want a fresh cookie and indulge.

The Local Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

2 ⅛ cups white all-purpose flour
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp.baking soda
12 tbsp. unsalted, European-style butter (for best results)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups local semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 325°, with racks set in the middle of the oven.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and mix to incorporate. Add dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.

3. Divide dough into 1/4 cup portions; roll into balls (you can freeze the balls and store in a freezer bag at this point), transfer to parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. When fully cooked, the outer edges of the cookies should be golden and slightly crisp, while the middle should still be slightly soft.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Blackberry lemon sweet rolls

Now that I've become busier with the two kids, homework, tantrums and a job; I find myself making dishes and freezing them when I have time to cook.  I love this sweet roll recipe because you can substitute any berry you like and freeze it!  

I've been cooking ahead and freezing all sorts of things like meatballs, lasagna, casseroles, baked french toast, empanadas, croissants, cookies and ground beef.  I assemble them in different size disposable foil pans or plastic freezer bags and reheat for a meal on a weeknight or entertaining guests on the weekend.

You can freeze the blackberry lemon sweet rolls with the dough unrisen or already cooked, iced and reheated.  It will turn out delicious either way or if you can't resist the temptation just eat it right away!

Blackberry Lemon Sweet Rolls Recipe
Barely adapted from Ree Drummond


4 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Canola Oil
2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
8 cups All-purpose Flour
1 cup (additional) All-purpose Four
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 stick Butter
3/4 cups Sugar
2 whole Lemons, Zested
2 cups Fresh Blackberries

1 whole Lemon, Juiced
2 whole Lemons, Zested
3 cups Powdered Sugar
2 cups Whole Milk, Or As Needed
1 dash Salt
3 Tablespoons Melted Butter


For the dough:
Mix milk, 1 cup sugar, and canola oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Heat over medium heat until very warm but not boiling. Remove from heat and allow to cool until warmer than lukewarm but not hot.

Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the liquid, then add in 8 cups flour. Stir gently until totally combined. Mixture will be very wet and sticky. Cover with a tea towel, keep in a draft-free place, and allow to sit for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, add in an additional cup of flour, as well as the salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mix until combined. Refrigerate dough, covered, until you need it. (Refrigerating the dough helps make it easier to handle.)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a large baking dish (or a couple of smaller dishes) generously. you could use a 9x13 or two 9-inch pie pans which is what I did.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted remove from heat.

Divide dough in half. Store one half in the fridge for another batch of these. Turn the other half of the dough onto a floured surface. Roll into a large rectangle, about 30 inches wide by 10 inches deep. Roll as thin as possible! Drizzle melted butter over the dough, using your fingers to spread evenly.

Using your fingers, mix sugar and lemon zest so that it's a nice, light yellow sugar. Sprinkle it all over the butter. Sprinkle the blackberries evenly over the surface.

Beginning at the side furthest from you, roll dough toward you until it’s in the shape of a tight log. Tuck as you go so the roll stays tight. Pinch the edges to seal the seam shut. With a sharp knife, slice into 1/2 thick hick rolls and lay the slices, cut side down, into the buttered baking dishes. 

(You can freeze it from here and then continue the process when you thaw it or you can continue this process and freeze when it is baked and glazed.)

Allow to rise for 20 minutes, then place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until deep golden brown on top.

To make the glaze: Add lemon juice, lemon zest, powdered sugar, milk, and dash of salt in a bowl. Add melted butter and whisk together until smooth. Taste it and add more of whatever it needs.

Remove rolls from oven and drizzle the glaze all over the rolls. Be sure to get it all around the edges and covering the surface so they’ll be nice and moist!  (You can also freeze it at this point and just reheat after it thaws.)

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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