Category Archives: Cookies

Guest Post from Blahnik Baker: Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

Folks, I haven’t felt this excited since I heard that these brand spankin’ new episodes of Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon would be hitting the screen after nearly a decade of muffled silence. I told Zainab I’ve been crazy busy lately doing Grown-Up World things–like maniacally hurling homemade spiky shells at my fellow street-sharers on a FIVE-hour commute–but really I’d rather just lock myself in my dust-infested closet with my laptop and gorge on unhealthy amounts of Sailor Moon.

And maybe try like the moron I am to eat the pixels right off these gorgeous macaron photos Zainab sent me.

Have you met the stunning Zainab from Blahnik Baker? She’s the grad student baker blogger who knows what’s up. As a crazy Legilimency expert As a crazy someone who read Zainab’s post before posting it (duh), I know what she’s going to say about me and would like to add that I say the same about her, except times about a bazillion and forty. I admire her work, her dedication, and most of all her ability to excel as a fellow grad student while somehow managing to keep her marbles all where they belong: in her brilliant noggin of Nogginness.

So before I get carried away by my effusive praises (which are, by the way, super deserved), I’m turning over the floor to the lovely lady herself!

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Ganache via Blahnik Baker_3

Hello everyone!! My name is Zainab and I am so excited to be here today. I am a HUGE fan of Wallflour Girl and she is one of my favorite blogs to read. I’m sure she is one of yours too because you are here :) I blog over at Blahnik Baker where I love sharing easy but creative desserts.

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Ganache via Blahnik Baker_1

I just recently met this wonderful lady through a guest post she did over on Nancy’s blog. That post resonated so much with me that I spent all morning checking out her blog, writing and recipes!! Only to discover she is a PhD student like me and a passionate, honest and intelligent lady!! On her guest post, she wrote about her “Wall of Smiles” and I’m in love with her idea. I struggle very much with finding the happy moments in my daily life being a graduate student (it’s really hard) but ever since I read her post, I’ve been trying hard every day to pause and notice the little things. And at the end of every night, I think of one thing, event or person that made me smile and write it down in a notebook (or make a mental note if I am really tired and in bed already. I really need to move that notepad to my nightstand).

Thank you Ala! You inspire me daily :)

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Chambord  Ganache

Anyway enough small talk, on to the sweets now. Macarons!!! I love making macarons and have fallen madly in love with these French delicacies. I make them just for fun most times and I experiment a lot with flavors, texture and fillings.

Funny thing, when the husband walks in and I am making macarons, he can almost assume I had a long hard day at work and just need some peaceful baking time. And macarons do that for me. I know people think they are temperamental and hard to make, but to be honest they are actually very easy cookies to make.

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Chambord  Ganache

These hazelnut macarons were an attempt to make macarons with hazelnut flour instead of the traditional almond flour. The macaron shells are pillow-y soft and are filled with a sweet chocolate ganache spiked with Chambord.

I hope you enjoy these macarons! And thank you for having me today. Let’s all take a page from Ala’s book and enjoy the small things and moments in life. (Including these cookies!!)

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Ganache via Blahnik Baker_5

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Chambord Ganache

Ingredients

    For Macarons
  • 125g hazelnut flour
  • 175g powdered sugar
  • 105g egg whites
  • 75g sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • For Chocolate Chambord Ganache
  • 1⁄2 cup bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (plus more if needed)
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons Chambord (raspberry liqueur)

Instructions

  1. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. I used a 11⁄2-inch round cookie cutter to draw circles on the parchment paper and flip over the paper (drawing side down). Prepare a pastry bag with a round tip. I used Wilton 2A.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse the powdered sugar and hazelnut flour into fine powder. Sift several times until there is less than 2 tablespoons of hazelnut bits left. Add these to the mixture.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and sugar. Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the meringue and fold with a rubber spatula. Gently fold to deflate the meringue by pressing against the side of bowl and scooping from bottom until batter is smooth and shiny; about 20-25 folds. To check consistency, drop a spoonful of batter and it should have a peak that quickly relaxes back into the batter. Start checking the batter after 20 folds.
  5. Transfer batter into pastry bag and pipe the batter into the pre-traced circles on the baking sheet. Tap baking sheet hard on counter to release any air bubbles trapped in the batter. Let shells sit on counter for 20-30 minutes to dry, until a slight skin forms.
  6. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until shells hard, rotating cookie sheets halfway through baking time. You should be able to peel off the macaron from the parchment. Cool completely on cookie sheets before peeling from the parchment.
  7. For the Ganache:
  8. Combine the chocolate and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30-45 seconds and stir until chocolate melts. Remove from microwave and stir in butter until melted and chocolate is smooth. Whisk in Chambord with butter. Match same size cookies; pipe a little mound of buttercream onto flat side of one cookie and top with another. Store refrigerated for at least 24 hours before serving.
http://www.wallflourgirl.com/2014/07/07/guest-post-blahnik-baker-hazelnut-macarons-chocolate-ganache/

I’ve never made a macaron in my life–commitment issues are the least of my problems–but you can bet your holy eggbeaters that I’m going to make this recipe ASAP. Thank you, you wonderful lady!

As if we needed more proof that Zainab is Wonder Woman in civilian disguise, I’ve taken a leaf out of her book by recruiting quite a few lovely guest posters for July and some of August. With life spinning out of control faster than a Mario Kart hit by ten red shells in succession, I’m up to my nose in sleepless work and am incredibly grateful for this wonderful crew that will be helping me survive. Look forward to meeting them all over the next few weeks–you’re going to love them all!

Oh, and for the record: Zainab, you totally made my Wall of Smiles today. Just FYI. ;)

Loving what you read today? Connect with Zainab!

Blog: www.blahnikbaker.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/blahnikbaker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlahnikBaker

Instagram: http://instagram.com/blahnikbaker

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/zmansaray/

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cookies

Classic Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I am sorely tempted to write about one of the most wonderful, exciting days of my life, which happened just two days ago–but that will have to wait for my Tuesday post (mostly because it’s going to take a lot more pictures and I’m dead on my feet from this 4-day conference).

Instead, I’m writing a short piece about the perks of meeting cute people in random places under crazy bizarre circumstances. Yes, I’m meeting cute boys and getting their numbers all over the place these days. Cat got yer attention yet?

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Over the past few months, armed with a newfound confidence that seemed to spring from my post-exam europhia in alarming abundance, I’ve grown dead comfortable in my own shoes and frankly love meeting everyone and anyone. I strike up conversations with people waiting in line for coffee, I allow the person asking for the time follow up with questions about the copy of Dr. Seuss I’m reading, and I hardly bat an eye anymore when that handsome waiter comes over bringing trays of appetizers “on the house,” “just ’cause.” I’ve noticed that freebies tend to be a side perk of being friendly, and as a wallet-scrunching grad student, I’ll take what I get.

Possibly my favorite part about staying open-minded about random encounters, though, is the potential for hilarious stories to tell all your friends afterwards. Most recently, I walked into a Starbucks and spotted a really good-looking guy about my age sitting at one of the counters with a laptop. On a scale of 1 to 10, he was a 9.5–Zac Efron meets Orlando Bloom and bonus points for the clean shave.

After about 5 minutes of fiddling with my bike outside debating whether or not I should leave (as I had planned), I finally made the decision: I bolted my bike lock, strode determinedly back to the door (slapping on my ‘Hi my name is Ala and I’m friendly not psychotically over-deliberative’ face in the process), and plopped myself onto a stool next to his friend, where we struck up conversation about who knows what–and frankly, I didn’t really care what. It might have been about his college’s finals or something. Anyway, about a minute into this conversation, he looked up from the other side of his friend, caught my eye, and smiled at me.

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Ignoring the impending swoon that threatened to keel me over like a dehydrated dandelion, I smiled back and asked him if he, too, was a student. This sent us spiraling into a whole other conversation (he was a business student, he lived not too far away, and we both loved coffee shops) and before I knew it, we had been chatting for near ten minutes. It was about this time, however, that we hit our first lovely bump.

Him: Sooo, your last name–what is it, Chinese?

Me: Yeah, it is.

Him: Oh, very cool. (beat. Then, proudly) I’m half Japanese, too.

(silence)

Me: …Oh. Uhhh. Really, is that so?

Him: Yeah, I am.

Me: Um, cool.

Him: So we have a connection there.

Call me crazy, but last I checked, Japan and China were two entirely different political, cultural, socioeconomic creatures, bro.

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Strike 2 came pretty soon after–and like the aftershock of an earthquake, it came in with some pretty hefty speed behind bump #1.

His friend (to me) : “So like, you don’t look Chinese.”

Me: “Oh?”

Him: “Nah, you look like–”

Friend: “Filipino!”

Him: “Yeah, or Hawaiian or something. Definitely not Chinese.”

Friend: “Nope.”

Me: (laughs–probably torn between amusement and doubt)

Him: “You look too dark to be Chinese, y’know? (beat) I thought maybe you were half or something. Yeahh, that’s it. You look half. Kinda like me. I’m half Japanese.”

Me: “Oh.”

Joy?

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Anyway, the takeaway from this short anecdote is that people really do say just the strangest things. However, if you never take the chance and open up to new meetings with strangers (cute or not), you’ll never know what funny, strange, wonderful conversations you might have missed as a result. My friends and I got a good laugh out of it for a whole day afterwards, so if nothing else it made for a good story!

Speaking of keeping open-minded, I thought I’d experiment with a technique called “painting by light” and photographed my favorite spiced oatmeal cookie recipe today in complete darkness. I used an LED flashlight to “paint” the cookies with short bursts of light that would illuminate them in certain ways and strategically cast shadows. I was mostly playing around, but hey–these are still darned good cookies! How do you like ‘em? Are they intriguing? Fun? Half-Japanese? ;)

Regardless, make them! More substantive conference shenanigans to come on Wednesday!

Ala

Classic Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Yield: 18 cookies

The chewiest, classic spiced oatmeal raisin cookie recipe you'll find out there! The wonderful combination of subtle warm spices and sweet plump raisins will make you melt in your shoes!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.
  3. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
  4. Gently mix in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until just incorporated.
  5. Fold in oats and raisins.
  6. Scoop out cookies into 1-inch balls and drop 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until outside has set and turned golden brown (but not overly hard). Allow to cool completely on sheet (on stovetop) before transferring to a separate plate.
http://www.wallflourgirl.com/2014/06/21/classic-spiced-oatmeal-raisin-cookies/

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Filed under Cookies

Salty and Sweet Compost Cookies–And Defining My Self-Worth

How do you define your self-worth?

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This post has been waiting to be written and published for nearly three years now.

A few weeks ago, I grabbed lunch with a friend at one of my favorite vegan restaurants. We had a great talk, as usual–about our lives, about our romances, about our attitudes toward life more broadly. About halfway through our lunch, though, my friend said something that stopped my breath short and almost made me drop my fork straight into a bed of dressing-drenched iceberg lettuce.

“When I look in the mirror these days,” she said, with a radiant smile, “I see a friend. And I say to that friend, ‘Hey girl, do you want to grab dinner? How about going to watch a movie?”

Then she added: “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.”

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As far as I can remember, I have never said anything like that to myself. Back in the blissful days of high school, when I was utterly content with my life and self-image, and pulling out on top in most aspects of my life, I had no reason to tell myself that I loved me, and wanted to take me out for some awesome treats. I simply did it. Feel like having 3 Haagen Daas bars before dinner? Go for it! Play Final Fantasy for 14 hours today? Sure, why not? You earned it, girl. And even if you haven’t, you do it because you’re your own human being.

The first time I remember being aware of a different feeling was in my junior year of college. That year, I did two things: a) stopped taking great care of myself, body and well-being, and b) became a much harsher critic of my own value as an individual. Though I was never crazy critical of my own body, I was definitely suffering from extreme stress (in my living situation, in my extracurriculars, in my coursework), and a part of me turned instinctively to regulating the only things I felt I could still control: food, and sleep. In short, it was everything about my health and my physical body on which I felt I needed to clamp down.

To be clear: I wasn’t anorexic, I was never underweight, but I was clearly bent on depriving myself of necessities because I hadn’t “earned” them or worked to my full potential yet. Sometimes I would wake up at 6 and wouldn’t let myself leave my room until 4 in the afternoon because, damn it, I wasn’t going anywhere until I had finished writing my entire piece-de-resistance. That year, I wrote a play for a creative writing class that was later performed by students in the theater department for our class. It featured two characters: a boy journalist who was lurking in the girls’ bathroom trying to get a story about eating disorders, and the girl in the stall next door, who used bulimia as a source of maintaining some semblance of control over her life. Looking back at the story several years later, I began to realize the unconscious identification that went into writing that play, even though I didn’t see it at the time. Control was the name of the game; self-destructiveness was, sadly, incidental.

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Think back to the first time you learned that generosity isn’t always reciprocated by those who receive; that perhaps kind people do get the short end of the stick sometimes, because the most deserving person you know in life was suddenly taken away from you; that fairness isn’t a rule for living, it’s a guideline and a hope. You can’t undo the experiences that have opened your eyes, and during that year I grew harshly critical of myself in every way imaginable. I hated feeling like a victim who stayed out all the time because I didn’t want to go home, nothing I did seemed good enough or grand enough to warrant praise, and I certainly did not want to eat or leave to use the bathroom or do anything but throw myself down on my bed and cry during the times when I felt compelled to keep myself locked up in my room because I didn’t want to face my roommate situation.

Life sucked. It was sucky. It all sucked, and I felt completely alone drowning in that suckiness.

I had never defined my self-worth according to my physical image because to be honest, I had always been comfortable with my athletic, petite build. Body types were incidental, not definitive. But when I started slimming down during these months of avoiding the kitchen (because then I’d have to go home) or grabbing dessert instead of real meals to last me the 0whole day because my body craved sugars, I noticed that my build shrank and started resembling something that looked (according to the fashion magazines) kind of appealing. It was at this point that I started thinking, “Huh, maybe if you pull harder on the rein, you’ll actually be able to take control over something for once!” It sounds scary now, but it felt like the only reaction to have at the time.

Salty and Sweet Compost Cookies gif 1

The same went for sleep: I began sleeping less and less, which made my body even more fatigued than it already was. I became a work-o-holic with a drive to prove that I could accomplish things. Outcomes I couldn’t control, but sleep I could. It was like somebody had pulled me aside and said to me, “See? You can make yourself do these things, no problem. You’re the head honcho here. You don’t need to do normal people things like sleep.”   What had started as a desperate attempt to regain authority over my own life turned into both a physical and psychological battle. Probably the hardest part was explaining my constant exhaustion and unhappiness to the people in my life who noticed, especially my family and certainly those involved in my living situation. I wanted to scream to the latter, “It’s your fault I’m this way! If you would just stop pigeon-holing me into this spiral of helplessness, maybe I wouldn’t endure this gnawing feeling in my stomach and actually step out of my room into the kitchen again and eat something!”

But one thing I’ve always been known to do is brew. It’s a terrible, and terribly self-destructive, mindset. Sure, I was unhappy as heck. But I would rather have others notice how unhappy I was and maybe do something about it than concede and have people think I was maybe more okay with things than I really was. If you step out of your room and go to the kitchen, my depressed brain told me, you’ve lost. They’ll think you’re fine with it again. Well, maybe if you stay in your room for fourteen hours without coming out once, they’ll notice something’s wrong! Maybe they’ll actually begin to feel BAD. It was not an easy time, and it was not a happy place to be.

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As it turns out, the situation didn’t begin to reverse itself until I moved out two years later and away to grad school. To say that things have healed would be an overstatement–they’ve been bandaged up very well, though, and I’m still working every day to make it work better. But remember what I said about not being able to un-know something? Since that time, the nagging perceptions about my body and my self-worth began snaking their way into my consciousness. Suddenly, I became aware that I had a figure, and it didn’t match ‘pretty.’ It didn’t say, “I’m in control of me.”Even now, as I’ve been able to embrace myself more and more, I have had to fight tooth and nail to do it. I have a lot more trouble sleeping nowadays under stressful periods (no matter how minor) than I used to have.

If I am a person who brews, though, I am also a ferocious fighter. And this past year in particular, after the end of my grueling qualifying exams and what seems like the naissance of a very happy period in my life, I have been fighting like a momma bear defending her cubs, because I only get one life, and my health and well-being are worth that. These were all of the thoughts that raced through my head when my friend said that simple phrase: “When I look in the mirror, I see a friend.” Today, as I write this post, I realize that this is the phrase I have been missing from my life for quite some time now. In addition to my Wall of Smiles, I’m making an effort to tell myself every single day, “Girlfriend, how’s it going? Let’s go sit down and have a meal!”

Though I know some people cope in different ways, I haven’t stood in front of the mirror to tell myself that I’m beautiful as many do as they begin to heal. That’s because deep down, I don’t think my friend–that is, myself–needs to be told that, just like I don’t need my friends in general to tell me what they think of my physical looks in order to have a blast or just relax. Like any friendship, I simply want to take me as I am, move on, and do something fun because I know I deserve it. I want to be concerned for my own health and for my well-being, which both suffered incredibly during those years and are paying the price even now (though hopefully less so), in sicknesses, in anxiety, in a weakened body, in inadvertently damaged relationships.

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But it’s worth noting that today, I really am at one of the happiest and most confident points in my life that I remember being, period. Maybe as great as (or even better than) my happy high school days, which I was lucky enough to experience so positively. I try very hard not to inflict physiological damage on myself by depriving myself of things in favor of being the “best”–I’ll catch those hours of sleep and wake up to keep working again. Sure, I am still prone to lots of anxiety I didn’t feel before my drastic experience, but I think the body image part of the equation has improved significantly since I started thinking of it as an incidental part of my existing lifestyle (as I had in and before college), not a ruling force of self-worth and self-control.

One thing I did notice was that after I bought my own web domain for Wallflour Girl and really began taking over it as my own project, whose every aspect I could tweak and tinker with–and as I began bouncing back from the post-exam haul with more energy than I remember having in a long time–I began feeling liberated. I started getting in touch with a group of beautiful, amazing bloggers from around the world. I began reaching out to companies and earning their recognition–and trust–in return. In spite of the stress and in spite of the uncertainty, I felt great.

I felt, in the words of a spider named Charlotte who wrote about a humble pig: Radiant.

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And that’s where I’m at right now, ironically penning this post into the wee hours of the night (but this time because I wanted to, not because I’m trying to prove a point to myself). I am eternally grateful to my friend for our conversation, which got me thinking in a way I never thought I’d express in my blogging until now. This post only scrapes the very tip of an entire life story and history that (trust me) has many more details and less angelic commentary on my part, but I’m glad to have written it.I’m posting it in the hopes that anyone else reading who feels like their life is out of their hands or lonely or too much to handle can hear what I should have heard a long time ago, and what I’m so happy I’ve learned now: When you look in the mirror, look for a friend.

Thank you, friends and family, for all your support–and thank you, dear readers, for all of your thoughts: please know that I’m doing a silly little thing like beaming at my computer screen as I push the Publish button right now, thinking of you all. <3 Things really have come a long way since then.

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I’m leaving you today with these Salty and Sweet Compost Cookies–filled with the usual sweet things like chocolate chips and Oreos, but some pleasant surprises like potato chips and pretzels–because that’s what life is about; a mix of things the most hodge-podge things that might not seem to belong together. But often you have to take the salty with the sweet, and most of the time, it will turn out beautifully. For all those other times, know that you still have one heck of a batch of cookies waiting in the wings for you, cheering you on one bite at a time.

Love,

Ala

Salty and Sweet Compost Cookies gif 2

PS I contemplated cutting my face out of this gif because I was wearing my grubby, have-not-showered-all-day hair and clothes, but decided it would be against the spirit of this post to do so. So here I am, grubbily shown and all :) I promise I wasn’t trying to look grumpy, I was just concentrating really hard on not getting my lens smattered with bits of flying food.

PPS I ultimately learned the hard way that throwing greasy potato chips at the lens of your expensive camera is not a very bright idea…

Salty and Sweet Compost Cookies

You'll love that moment when your friends sink their teeth in and their eyes go wide--this is not your average chocolate chip cookie! With a perfect balance of salty and sweet, this is my favorite cookie to date, and uses my favorite CCC as a base. Perfect for those who need to change up their cookie repertoire!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup brown sugar (I used dark--light will also work)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup lightly crushed hard pretzels
  • 1/2 cup lightly crushed potato chips (original flavor)
  • 1/2 cup lightly crushed Oreos (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat your butter on HIGH until it is halfway melted. What this means: half of your butter should be pooled into a buttery liquid, while the other half of your butter should be incredibly soft but not quite melted down. (If you accidentally melt your butter all the way, don't worry! This will also work, but in this case you'll want to make sure to chill your dough extra well.)
  2. Transfer butter into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat in until combined.
  3. Mix in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.
  4. Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, cinnamon (optional), and salt. Stir into wet ingredients until just incorporated.
  5. Gently fold in chocolate chips, pretzels, chips, and Oreos.
  6. Chill your dough in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before baking. Note: I am the world's most impatient person and have made these cookies after chilling the dough in the freezer for 90 minutes. Whenever possible, though, give your dough a chance to chill until completely firm.
  7. After your dough has chilled: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  8. Scoop out generous rounds of cookie dough (approximately 3-4 tablespoons). Mound them high rather than wide on your cookie sheet so that when they spread, they will remain nice and thick.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until outside has just set (light golden brown) but centers appear slightly gooey and underbaked.
  10. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet, on the stovetop. They will finish baking up, so make sure you don't skip this step!
  11. Sink your teeth into these a la Dracula. Enjoy with a cup of milk if you wish.
http://www.wallflourgirl.com/2014/06/08/salty-sweet-compost-cookies/

As an exercise after writing this post, I wanted to try reflecting on my own principles about self-worth so I can work on diversifying and really recognizing what matters to me about myself, and I wanted to be completely honest doing it. So here is my honest breakdown, as of June 2014:

My Current Standards for Defining My Self-Worth:

Academic success: 25%

Professional/career-oriented success: 20%

Social and/or extracurricular affirmation: 15%

Writing/Blogging: 15%

Body image: 15%

Relationship status: 5%

Other: 5%

How do you define your self-worth? I’d love to hear your thoughts and your stories in the comments!

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Guest Post from Gotta Get Baked: Brown Sugar Turtles Cookies

I’m so excited to introduce today’s fantabulously fierce guest blogger today, Nancy from Gotta Get Baked!

Have you guys met Nancy? I can’t believe it’s been a scant 2 months since I first found her amazing, witty, stitch-in-my-side-hilarious blog, but after we had dinner in Vancouver two months ago we both became quickly convinced of our past-life status as clones. With me as the slightly less brilliant and profound clone.

You’ll see what I mean when you read the following guest post–I relished every word of her crisp, clear writing voice, and she’s humorous to boot. So without further ado, folks: here she is!

Update: In her main post, Nancy mentions the Isla Vista shootings and violence–against women, in particular–that relate in some ways to the post below, though she wrote it well before the tragic events on Friday. I’d like to send my prayers to those whose lives have been changed by the tragedy, and plead with you all to remain vigilant, compassionate, and above all, safe. 

****

Hi everyone, I’m Nancy of gotta get baked. Ala ‘n I have been having a little lady love affair lately, singing each other’s praises and appearing (probably far too often) on each other’s blogs. What can I say? I’m a ridiculously easy person to love.

Brown_sugar_turtle_cookies_1

Blogging has made me braver and bolder. I’m a naturally suspicious person, believing that everyone is dastardly and evil until they prove me wrong. I was always “that girl” at the club (back in my clubbing days when I was young and beautiful). My friends would be dancing and having a good time and I’d be the one with my arms crossed, glaring at the men who would dare to start grinding against us in the hopes they’d get lucky because seriously dude, a) don’t fucking touch me cause I don’t know you from Adam and b) don’t even think about going near any of our drinks, you roofie-toting-scumbag! I ride transit with my bag clutched to my chest because everyone is a pickpocket. I don’t want to sell my shit on craigslist because with my luck, I’ll be murdered, dismembered and I STILL wouldn’t have gotten rid of whatever crap I’m trying to sell.

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I’ve gone straight up crazy. When I first started blogging, I didn’t use my real name anywhere. Any photos I’d post of me would have my face hidden behind giant sunglasses, a glass of wine or those computer generated swirls. Fast forward a year and I’ve created a Google+ account using my real name. MY REAL NAME, people! I got business cards printed with my real name on it. I talk about where I live and my profession, meaning it’s damn easy to hunt me down. Continue reading

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Mom’s Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie

Do yourself a favor and send your mom this video–I guarantee she’ll love it. I know mine did.

My mom is a saint for many, many reasons.

The biggest reason is the sheer fact that she’s put up with me for over two decades, which is a pretty amazing feat in itself.

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You might recognize this recipe because I’ve posted something very similar here before, but there’s a story behind this necessary redundancy on Mother’s Day!

My mom is very particular about her cookies; you might call her a bit of a CCC connoisseur.  She is the best mom imaginable and unimaginable, but she doesn’t sugarcoat anything, not my life performance and certainly not my baking. Growing up, there was none of that “Oh good job, honey, you did a great job!” some kids heard after their soccer game. No, it was always, “What happened to the last points you missed?” or, to other parents, “I wish my daughter could be more like your daughter–so smart, so responsible!”

My old college roommate was absolutely shocked the first time she heard about this. “What do you mean, your parents don’t praise you for the work you do?” she asked me when I told her, unfazed and laughing, that my dad had just called and said that English majors really are bleak creatures with downright morbid economic futures.

To be fair, I totally agree with him. Us academics are part of a sort of masochistic trade.

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Most recently, the part of my achieving life in which my mom has become most involved has been (unsurprisingly) my baking. Continue reading

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Biscoff Oatmeal Cookie Pies with Whipped Coconut Filling

Some days I feel like I’m photographing a food porn commercial. Like, there is SERIOUSLY SOMETHING ILLICIT ABOUT WHAT I’M DOING AND I CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT IT IS.

Does anybody else ever feel this way?

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I am pretty sure my neighbors feel this way about what I do all the time. Continue reading

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Perfect Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies–and My New Site!

I’m beaming with the power of a thousand and fifty-two suns as I type this, so here it is:

Wallflour Girl has moved to a self-hosted site and domain! Ta-da! *drums bells and whistles*

Everything you see here–the new layout, design, even this beautiful new visual recipe index–I created. I know, right? Scary.

So if you were wondering why it’s been so quiet around here lately, it’s because two weeks’ worth of late-night CSS/HTML epic battles were happening in this tiny madhouse apartment. You might like to take some time to browse around all the new menu pages and content, even, if you catch my drift!

***Please make sure you update your RSS feed/email subscription on the right-hand sidebar! I’ve also finally got my social media groove on, so please follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter while your mouse is clicky-clicking over there.*** (I’m especially obsessed with tweeting at the moment, sooo you have been warned #honeymoonphase #relationshipwithTwitter)

Done? Great! Can’t wait to see y’all on the social side–now, read on!

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After nearly two years of blogging, I finally built a snowman up the courage and cyber-smarts to purchase my own domain. My awesome, computer-savvy friend Shawn helped me transfer my site and set up my new self-hosted blog, which has been going through tons of exciting design/format changes these past weeks, as you might have noticed. How do you like them so far?

I especially want to apologize to you fantastic folks who have been emailing me all week frantically asking for recipes since all of my links were down during the crazy domain move. I have to admit, I was panicking a bit myself from all the technological hubbub that tried to eat my brains a la zombie (I’ve survived–barely–thanks for asking). I’m so glad so many of you reached out to me about it, though! That is exactly the right thing to do, and I’m grateful to be reminded just how many eyes come across this blog every single day.

I’m back now and ready to write again, though–boy, am I ever!

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Apart from blogging, there are a few other pretty exciting things are in the works as well that I haven’t told you guys about. Continue reading

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The Chocoholic Bomb Cookie

You are never going to need another thick, chewy, fudgy, bomb, sink-your-teeth-in rich chocolatey cookie recipe again, so before you read on, you’d better Pin/share/print/make this. Because I’ll be honest, just looking at these photos makes me want to ditch you all right now and hightail for the kitchen. But I won’t because #readerlove.

Done? Good.

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This is the chocoholic bomb cookie. As in, this cookie will explode any attempts to recover from chocoholism, so you’d better watch out.

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I am not kidding. Part of me almost wishes I was, because my chocolate cravings have gotten 10.85743 times worse since I started researching my dissertation prospectus two weeks ago. Continue reading

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My Favorite Puffy, Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know what’s crazy?

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This week has been. Absolutely. Nuts. <3 Kind of in an awesome way though.

Oh, and these cookies are pretty cuh-raay-zee as well, so let me start with these because I know that’s what really you came here for  (and okay, can I just say that I honestly love the photos you’re about to see: these are such puffy, tall, photogenic cookiesTry and tell me you’re not drooling/pinning/sharing right now as you ogle!).

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My very best friends are also my very best taste-testers. I am particularly lucky in this respect because I happen to have quite a few very best friends–you know, the ones who, when you ask them if they want to try a cookie for your blog, immediately raise their hands and shout with all the bravado of a District 2 citizen, “I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!” I’ve gotten at least seven texts this week from friends who, after seeing this post, wanted to know if I had any cookies left on my counter to share, and I can’t blame them… Continue reading

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My Favorite Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

I am so sorry to do this to you. Really, I am.

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If you are reading this post in a public place where licking your computer screen or sprinting out of the room while making inarticulate animal noises of ravenous taste-bud activation are frowned upon, I am so, so sorry. Maybe you should wait until your boss has stepped out of the room or your meeting has ended before you read this.

Or, you know. Don’t.

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These cookies are really, really good. Did the title give it away? I realize as I’m typing this out that all I really want to do is blubber on some more about my upcoming qualifying exam on Friday. I won’t. It’s tempting, but I won’t. You’ll see me on the other side of Friday and if I’m a melting hot mess–well. Instead, I’m going to tell you about the text I got from my friend right after I sent her home with a half dozen of these cookies. 

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I admit, I nearly had a heart attack when I read the first few lines. She wrote:

Just wanna let u know there may be something wrong with ur cookies…”

In my emotionally reeling brain, I could hear the panicked screams of a fire alarm firing off with every neuron and the crash of self-confidence plunging into the icy deeps below. I had sent my friend home with defective chocolate chip cookies from an original recipe I had carefully tested, re-tested, and re-retested. What–HOW?

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Despairing, my eyes quickly scanned the rest of the message for some redemption, an explanation, a giant pterodactyl that had swooped down from the heavens as my friend was walking home and barfed its Jurassic guts on my precious cookies before time-warping away again, something other than that they were a complete disaster:

Just wanna let u know there may be something wrong with ur cookies…I can’t seem to stop eating them! Just finished my last part! All are vanished in less than 2 hours! Simply Delicious!!!!”

Oh. Thank. God.

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So. If I’ve convinced you in no way about my sanity, I hope I’ve at least convinced you that these cookies are everything my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe should be: thick, chewy, soft, and simply delicious. They are also the first step in my diabolical plan to start transforming this blog into a self-sustaining entity. Have you met Miss Pandakins?

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I joked on my Facebook status yesterday that I had a batch of these cookies sitting on my kitchen counter (they have since been claimed, sorry folks!), and that while the cookies were freebies, Miss Pandakins appreciates visits. Yes, that’s a dime she’s grabbing in the photo. She lives in a mechanized money donation box, and my friend bought her so I could start collecting voluntary ‘donations’ for my baked goods and blog. Mandy Pandakins also greets you in Chinese as she takes your money away from you and stashes it in a safe spot for me. How cool is that?

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All joking aside, my inability lately to focus on studying any more has worked in huge favor of my blog. Operating under a self-imposed sentence of complete hermitage until I take my exam (hey, it’s flu season out there!), I’ve been able to really familiarize myself with my new apartment’s lighting, space, and atmosphere throughout the day, so I know the spot by my living room window is best for soft natural sunlight at 1 PM. I’m also loving the whitewashed walls and new white gloss kitchen table–the blank white canvas frees me up to fiddle with more fun text and effects. Dramatic, whimsical, playful text paired with dynamic photographs are fun, don’t you think? How do you like them so far?

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Miss Pandakins is also helping me collect for exciting things such as buying my own domain and revamping the layout of my blog. As Wallflour Girl has begun expanding and dear readers like you make my heart swell with your heart-warming visits, I find myself spending more and more time developing recipes, doing photoshoots, editing photos, and triple-checking everything before hitting that ‘Publish’ button. So thank you for being here!

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I’ve also had more time to actually experiment with my own original recipes like this one, testing and adjusting and retesting and all that jazz. I love it! It’s not all the time that I’m inspired to spend all day in the kitchen, but the Me Time gives me a chance to unwind from studying and really mull over the Bronte sisters as the wafting aroma of warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies peeks over my shoulder.Favorite Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies 26--021014

A ton of research went into the creation of these cookies perfectly chewy, thick cookies. Sally wrote a great article last year about how to achieve the perfect chewy texture we all know and love in our chocolate chip cookies. I’ve made her cookies before and they are delicious. Averie also has a great recipe for soft-baked chocolate chip cookies on her fabulous blog. This time, though, I wanted a cookie that looked a little less underbaked and resembled more the bakery-style chewy thick cookies I used to buy from Safeway I used to buy from Safeway–no, I’m not going to apologize for that statement! Those soft, chewy-only Safeway cookies have a special place in my heart, even though I actually think this recipe is even better.  

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Half-melted butter to keep things chewy and not too spready. Extra extra brown sugar for heft. Two whole teaspoons of cornstarch, no less. Chill chill chill. These cookies are chiller than a polar bear in December. All of these extra-chew ingredients allow you to bake a perfectly chewy chocolate chip cookie without underbaking it too much. And that’s it: I’ve just told you all the secrets to my very favorite thick & chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe. But you’ll still want to Pin, share, print, and bookmark the recipe below!

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If you’ve reached this part of this post and are still at work/school/public place……I am truly sorry. One of these days, somebody will invent the Willy Wonka television or computer screen into which you can reach and grab a real chocolate chip cookie. Until then, though, I hope you’ll count down the minutes until you can dash out of your cube and back to your oven to make these chewy pieces-de-resistance. And I’ll be counting down the hours until the other side of Friday.

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See you on the other side (hopefully) of sanity and a chocolate chip cookie!

Ala

My Favorite Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ever on a quest to find the perfect thick, chewy chocolate chip cookie, this recipe finally hit the ticket. With extra brown sugar, cornstarch, melted butter, and chilling time, this cookie has all the chewy ‘oomph’ and soft bliss of a bakery-style cookie. My friends call this the ‘simply delish!!’ chocolate chip cookie, and we love making our own ice cream sandwiches at home with them!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1 cup brown sugar (I used dark–light will also work)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat your butter on HIGH until it is halfway melted. What this means: half of your butter should be pooled into a buttery liquid, while the other half of your butter should be incredibly soft but not quite melted down. (If you accidentally melt your butter all the way, don’t worry! This will also work, but in this case you’ll want to make sure to chill your dough extra well.)
  2. Transfer butter into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat in until combined.
  3. Mix in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.
  4. Add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, cinnamon (optional), and salt. Stir into wet ingredients until just incorporated.
  5. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Chill your dough in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before baking. Note: I am the world’s most impatient person and have made these cookies after chilling the dough in the freezer for 90 minutes. Whenever possible, though, give your dough a chance to chill until completely firm.
  7. After your dough has chilled: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  8. Scoop out generous rounds of cookie dough (approximately 3-4 tablespoons). Mound them high rather than wide on your cookie sheet so that when they spread, they will remain nice and thick.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until outside has just set (light golden brown) but centers appear slightly gooey and underbaked.
  10. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet, on the stovetop. They will finish baking up, so make sure you don’t skip this step!
  11. Sink your teeth into these a la Dracula. Enjoy with a cup of milk if you wish.
© Wallflour Girl. All images and content are copyright protected. Please do not use without prior permission. If you would like to republish this recipe, please link back to this post.

Tuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!

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