It’s hard for me to believe that it is time again already for another Secret Recipe Club! Seriously, where does the time go? Oy! Be prepared. This is another loooong post. I hope you’ll stick with me through it!
Anyway, I was super excited this month (again) when I received my blog assignment and found that I was going to be taking a blog tour of another old bloggy friend of mine. This month I got to go on an extended tour of Katrina’s blog – Baking and Boys! As per usual of course though, no amount of planning ahead and good intentions stopped me from only finally finishing this post at the last minute.
The problem, you see, is three-fold. 1) Katrina already had my blog for SRC and went above and beyond, making multiple recipes – I certainly couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything less, 2) like Amanda, I’ve ‘known’ Katrina for years through our blogs and now that she has moved to Utah (though one of us lives at the wrong end of the valley so we still haven’t had a chance to meet in person — I’ll let you all decide who lives at the wrong end because any given day I change my mind) it is a given that I wanted to do right by her and 3) Katrina has a plethora of fantastic recipes on her blog that she has created or found and an awful lot of them are for my one true weakness. Cookies.
It’s true. While I love cake, chocolate, pies, tarts, bars, brownies and all other baked goods to a ridiculous degree, it is actually the humble little cookie that is my kryptonite. I could probably actually claim a fairly decent diet if it weren’t for my undying devotion to cookies. Point in fact, there are only two non-homemade treats I buy at the store – Oreos and Dark Chocolate Milanos. What’s worse is that, though I buy them for use in recipes – most of the time I just devour them.
It should therefore come as no real surprise when I tell you that my downfall in pre-planning this month came from not being able to decide what to make. I had so many things bookmarked that I wanted to try and just couldn’t decide. I wanted to go big again and get crazy, but then real life came to call bringing along with it our first flus of the season already. Ick. I hope that is not a sign of what this winter is going to be like, because if it is, I’m all ready to just give up and hide in the house. Hibernation here we come!
But we’ll have cookies, so, maybe not so bad?!
The first recipe that I ended up making from Katrina’s blog was the Flourless White Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Cookies (my adapted version pictured above). I’m generally not one for wanting to purchase specific ingredients just for one recipe, but when I read the ingredients and saw that the recipe uses Peanut Butter & Co.’s White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter (my Smith’s and Target both have it), I knew I had to try them. I’ve heard about that stuff before and, being a big fan of the peanut butter/white chocolate combination, decided I had to remember to pick up a jar at the store.
I actually made the cookies *shocker here* exactly as written – flourless and all (I actually saw this on Saveur today that even says if you want your PB cookies to have more PB flavor, then to leave the flour out!). We loved these flourless cookies! In fact, we snarfed them so quickly they didn’t even get their pictures taken and so almost didn’t tell you about them… but we just had to make them again! Not hard to do since they couldn’t be easier or faster to make!
The only issue I had with them, which really wasn’t much of an issue at all, was that the flourless version was so soft and melt-in-your-mouth amazing that they weren’t really sturdy enough to go in Aidan’s lunch box – which was where he wanted them. Incidentally, the jar of White Chocolate Wonderful was half gone since we used it on sandwiches for Aidan’s lunch before I ever got the cookies made, and now that we’ve made the cookies two times, I am very sad to report it is already gone. They need to sell bigger jars. Seriously.
Therefore, we slightly adapted the recipe and added a tiny amount of flour for sturdiness and a bit more body and chew, along with using the whole egg instead of just the egg white as we did the first time – my kids are still too skinny and literally on calorie power packing diets, which, while tough for me, are delightful for them since they get to eat just about anything they want.
Back when Katrina did her review of my blog she also went back to the very beginning to see what my very first post was. I started off with a Chocolate Chip Cookie from Food Network (terrible pictures – sorry!) that used melted butter. Funny enough, though Katrina started with more of the ‘Boys!’ side of her blog for a few posts, the first recipe she posted was actually also for a chocolate chip cookie recipe that used melted butter! What are the odds, right?!
The recipes weren’t even the same ones as far as I can tell. The recipe she posted was from a contest on FN and the original recipe included walnuts and looked awesome. While I would have happily added nuts to these cookies, I am currently all out (we use a lot of nuts around here!). I decided to stick with smallish sized cookies for these ones and made a half batch of the cookies, with a little bit of adapting, to turn them into Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are another super fast, easy and delicious cookie and the boys around our house – big and small – have already consumed a fair amount of these bad boys as well.
Now, though the last two cookies were on the small side, we now head over to a complete departure and it’s like going from Munchkinland to Giantville. Seriously. If only I could indicate how huge that cookie above is. Think burger bun size. A full 6 oz – that’s just shy of a half a pound of chocolate cookie insanity!
The saga of this cookie is, apparently, as enormous as its size. If, like me, you have partially been living in hibernation and seclusion and delusions of not-so-grandeur for the past few months, then you may not have really processed the phenomenon that is the Levain Bakery cookies.
I say processed it, because, while I ended up seeing Katrina mention their cookies and knock-off recipes going around and big (huge!) cookies etc., it was the first time I processed that I had indeed actually seen and fantasized about these cookies before. I actually first saw them on Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate show – the episode about CHOCOLATE! and about fainted when I saw them …. and yet, it still didn’t sink in.
Then, a while back Maria tweeted a picture of one of the famous Levain Bakery Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies when she was touring around through NYC visiting bakeries – and, I once again drooled, but never followed through on finding out more information. Apparently, it still wasn’t enough to tip me off when I saw these cookies posted over on Annie’s Eats (even though I pinned them!) either that there was a real trend happening – that even had to do with my #1 ingredient crush – chocolate!
Apparently, living in our usual brand of crazy around here even those cookies couldn’t penetrate my haze. So, Katrina, I’m not sure whether to thank you or not for mentioning the Levain phenomenon enough times that as I read through your posts this finally got through my thick skull. 😉 Actually, I will thank you, but my thighs may not.
I’ve now joined the ranks of those other food bloggers out there in putting together my own attempt at creating My knock-off version of the Infamous Levain Bakery Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie. If it isn’t quite perfected yet, I know what I want to try differently and will share the recipe as soon as I’ve had a chance to put together another attempt – but from what I’ve seen on their site, I think I am darn close! The amount of intel I’ve gathered is extensive enough that I just don’t have the time to add it along to this post and do it justice, but it won’t be long in coming, I promise!
To finish things off, in honor of Katrina, I thought I would share some pictures of my kiddos from this past weekend. I admire that Katrina is always just as dedicated in chronicling her family as she is the kitchen experiments. I don’t do that often enough for my liking and really do need to do better.
Thanks again Katrina for always being a great friend and for the many great ideas – and three new cookie recipes to add to our repertoire!
The boys, Cole (almost 4!) and Aidan (8) spinning together at the park – it’s so nice to see them get along occasionally 😉 It’s not actually an easy thing for them, and I think that is why I have a hard time sometimes writing about the kids here. We are struggling with all three of them still for one thing or another and I spend all my *free* time just trying to juggle their various doctor appointments – and now that we are heading into our ‘busy’ season I’ve found myself already starting to shut down a bit more and get feeling down. I’m going to try not to do that because I know it isn’t a good way to handle it. So, if by chance you don’t see me around on (yes, shameless plugs here) Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest where I spend a lot of my time whiling away the hours I spend in waiting rooms and doctor offices, please feel free to give me a nudge and tell me to wake up from my hibernation a bit. 🙂
Here’s Aidan! I told him to run towards me. He thought that was hilarious!
I find it strangely humerous that all my children’s issues seem to be coming to a head this time of year as well – after all, it’s not I like I need to be hit over the head with our *issues*. I saw on Twitter that there is an ADHD Awareness Week coming up in October and that September was ADHD Awareness Month – yep, I’m aware. Check. Seriously, it’s actually good to know, but just the fact that ALL our issues are grouped together is overwhelming! You’ll see why if you keep reading…
This Thursday is Cole’s 4th birthday… which technically should have been in November since he was 7 1/2 weeks premature. Just for good measure too, November is actually Prematurity Awareness Month. Cole is awesome. He is doing great, loves preschool and couldn’t be sweeter. He is just still ridiculously skinny and small. Go figure. The poor dude only started out in life at a whopping 3 lbs 6 oz. To give you a quick idea of what life is like with him right now, his diet (as ordered by his doctors and dietician) is to eat as much ice cream as he wants, have chips 5 times a day, put butter and/or cream on everything and I have to tell him he can’t have his broccoli or fruit until dessert. Seriously. I’m not making a word of that up. I live in backwards-land!
It’s also actually Down syndrome awareness month in October… and in case that weren’t enough, Kayla is also sporting her pink for Breast Cancer Awareness this month because that is an issue incredibly important to us as well (my darling MIL is a breast cancer survivor).
I’m still learning more and more about Down syndrome all the time, but I’ve also really started to learn why parents of kids with Down syndrome told me when Kayla was born that it would be the greatest blessing. I finally get it. I didn’t at first. She is the glue in our family.
As I’ve said to folks that ‘know’ me many, many times, it really does take a ‘village’ of doctors, therapists, social workers, counselors, fantastic nursing staff, hospitals, friends and family to raise my little family. In case I don’t say it enough, let it be here in writing for all to see that we are eternally grateful for the support. I’ll be taking (more) cookies to all those people soon! Aside from that, with all the Awareness events this month, let’s just say that I am indeed extremely aware now. 🙂
Kayla was enjoying a rare break from her oxygen in the picture above – this was just before I had to put it back on. She is getting so big (not really – just finally hit about 18 lbs and 29 inches) but is growing at her own pace. I keep being told to just enjoy the fact that she will be my baby for a while and that life is in slow motion. She is almost 20 months old here – and just took her first steps this week, but is now ready to be off and running! She is our little princess and her brothers absolutely adore her! She’s also got her Daddy (and Mommy for that matter) wrapped around her little fingers.
Speaking of The Daddy, I’m not sure I remember the last time he got his picture on here, so, since I’ve been spending much more time blogging for him and helping him out at all the skydiving demo’s and events we went to this summer, I thought I’d share one of my favorite pictures of him.
Then again, maybe this is why he doesn’t get his picture on here too often. As you can see, the “if all your friends wanted to go jump off a cliff…” speech will obviously never work in our house.
That’s Dusty in the red. Show off… Just sayin’. 🙂
Enjoy the cookies!!
White Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from the Flourless White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies on Baking and Boys!
1/2 cup Peanut Butter & Co.’s White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3.5 ounces white chocolate, chopped into chunks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add all the ingredients (except the white chocolate chunks) into a medium sized bowl and stir together well with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Mix together to combine, then add the chocolate chunks and stir in. Scoop scant tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto the lined baking sheet about 2-inches apart. Bake the cookies for 9-10 minutes until just set and lightly browned. Remove them from the oven and cool for 1 minute on the sheet before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 18 cookies.
Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from ‘Radical Rob’s Chocolate Chip Cookies via Baking and Boys!
1/4 cup superfine Baker’s sugar
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment or silicon mat. Set aside.
In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the sugars and whisk together until smooth, allowing the mixture to cool to just barely warm.
While the butter mixture is cooling, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda in a separate bowl.
Add the vanilla and lightly beaten egg to the sugar mixture, stirring well until thoroughly mixed. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently stir the flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture until just barely combined with a few streaks of flour still remaining. Add the chocolate chips and stir and fold them in a few times to just combine – do not overmix! The dough will be stiff.
Use a small spoon or scoop to drop about 2-teaspoon size balls of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart on the lined baking sheet. Bake the cookies 8-9 minutes until the edges and top are just turning golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.
Makes approximately 30 2-inch cookies.
Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies – Levain Bakery Knockoff Attempt #1 – recipe coming soon – stay tuned!