Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

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the ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

6-8 oz dark chocolate, chopped

 what to do

In a small saucepan add the butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Watch it closely so the sugar doesn’t burn. Let this mixture cool slightly then add to a large mixing bowl and cool an additional 20 minutes. Once cooled add the eggs and vanilla then combine. Stir in the salt, flour and baking powder. With a few streaks of flour remaining, add the chocolate. If the mixture is still warm some of the chocolate may melt. A little bit of melting is fine and kind of fanfreakingtastic.

Place the bowl in the fridge and let chill for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat your oven to 350°. Line a sheet tray with parchment and set aside.

Scoop the batter into tablespoon-size rounds and place on the sheet tray. Bake for 12 minutes until golden around the rims. Let the cookies cool on the tray for five minutes while they settle into themselves creating a crackly crust.

Finish cooling on a wire rack.

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Homemade Marshmallows + Fresh Mint Hot Cocoa

This is by far one of my favorite recipes.

I love marshmallows. I like them roasted over a fire, melted into a cup of hot chocolate, and just plain in my mouth chubby bunny style. Suprisingly enough, they are not very difficult to make. I used this recipe, and as long as you have a thermometer to temp your sugar mixture, you will be golden. Don’t let the concept of boiled sugar turn you away!

Paired with the deliciously rich mint chocolate ganache + warm milk, this is by far one of the best wintry treats I have ever had.

for the marshmallows

3 packages unflavored gelatin
1 cups cold water, divided
12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 cup light corn syrup (or glucose)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, seeds removed
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Nonstick spray

what to do

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed with whisk attachment and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Add the vanilla seeds. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes.  While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with aluminum then spray with pan spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel or sharp knife dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

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for the ganache

1 cup cream

1/2 cup whole milk

5 sprigs fresh mint (more or less depending on desired mint flavor)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups (about 9 oz) chopped dark chocolate

Bring the cream and milk to a simmer. Add the mint, turn off the heat then let sit for 30 minutes. With the back of a wooden spoon carefully bruise the mint in the cream mixture to release some of the essential oils. Add the chocolate to a medium bowl. Stir the salt into the cream then bring back up to a simmer over medium-low heat. Remove the mint. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for one minute. Whisk the cream and the chocolate together. If some chocolate remains unmelted, gently microwave at 15-30 second intervals. Stirring after each heating.

Add the ganache (chocolate and cream mixture) to a container and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks. When ready for a cup of hot chocolate add a couple of spoonfuls of ganache to a cup of heated milk. The amount is really based on taste. I like mine really rich so I add roughly 2 tablespoons to 6 oz of milk.

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Bits + Pieces: Real Food

Here are few bits and pieces of my trip to Real Food this week. If you’re in Orange, let me know and we can go try one of the delicious sandwiches or salads on their menu. It changes weekly and never disappoints. The grilled meatloaf sandwich they had this past week…give me a second whilst I wipe the drool from my face. So delicious. And let’s not forget the prosciutto and brie.

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Roasted Garlic + Orange Vinaigrette

I love a good salad. Well, I guess no one wants to eat a bad salad…but you get what I mean.

This salad, it’s one of the good ones. Remember the challah bread I used for that French toast? Well I used some of the extra to make these delicious croutons. Those, plus orange slices and red onion atop Bibb lettuce all lightly tossed with this vinaigrette…like I said, good salad.

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1 head of Bibb/Boston lettuce (you could use any green of your choice though I highly recommend this buttery variety)

5 cloves garlic

sliced red onion

juice, zest and slices of 1 orange

challah bread (or a baguette)

olive oil

good white wine vinegar

what to do

For the croutons, cut the bread into 1″ cubes and toss with olive oil, salt + pepper and dried parsley flakes. Place on a sheet pan and bake in the oven at 325° until the croutons are crunchy. Set aside to cool.

Place the garlic cloves in a piece of folded foil with some olive oil and roast in the oven for about 30 -45 minutes at 350° until the cloves are soft and fragrant. In a bowl, mash the garlic with a fork, add orange zest and juice. Add 1 part vinegar to 3 parts olive oil. (this is a standard ratio for vinaigrettes so keep it in mind!) Whisk together with the fork and season with salt and pepper.

To supreme the orange, cut off both butt ends of the orange; follow the shape of the orange and remove the outer layer with a knife, cutting away as much of the white pith as possible. Cut each section out by cutting against the membrane.

Layer your Bibb onto a plate with thinly sliced red onion, oranges and croutons. Lightly cover with vinaigrette and enjoy!

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Honey Orange French Toast

A group of girls from my alma mater came over for breakfast this past weekend and I decided to make something relatively simple, french toast. I used a few loaves of challah bread I had made the day before. Now, if you haven’t had challah, I strongly suggest you go out and get some. Right now. Instead of just doing the standard milk, eggs, cinnamon mixture, I added fresh orange juice, orange zest, and a wee bit of honey. The changes were subtle but oh so delicious. I whipped up some cream, by hand, (see what culinary school has done to me?), and topped the french toast with warm maple syrup and fresh berries.

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ingredients

(for 4 3/4″ thick slices of challah)

3 extra large eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

**1 tablespoon honey

**1/2 teaspoon orange zest

**juice of half an orange

1/2 cup of whipping cream

**sugar

what to do

Mix everything but the cream and sugar in a shallow baking dish. Heat a skillet (I used cast iron) over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of butter.

Place sliced challah into egg mixture to coat both sides. Cook until crisp on the outside and warm on the inside. To make the cream, put it in a chilled bowl and whisk it until medium peaks form. You can also use an electric mixer with the whisk attachment.

Serve the French toast with cream + berries + maple syrup.
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For all of the ingredients with **, feel free to gauge how much you want based on your personally preferences.

Enjoy!