Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pizza 'n' Chocolate Chip Cookies

Home-made pizza is a regular weeknight staple for me and Chris. I'd never made a pizza before I met him (daunted, of course, by the yeast factor of the dough). He thought I was silly (and I think wanted to show off a bit... shhh!), and since then we've come up with an insane number of dough and topping variations.

Let me tell you- just like pasta, pizza is one of those 'clear the pantry' type of dishes. You can throw practically anything on your pie and it will be fabulous. The dough is essentially fool-proof, as well. Chris has messed around with including various combinations of beer, wine, whole wheat flour, butter, rosemary, brown sugar, honey, white sugar, and others (not all at once, of course...although....). I'll let him give you his recipes, later.

As for me, while I like to watch him work his dough magic, I'm a Topping Girl at heart. Always will be. Here's last night's (delicious, although not terribly creative due to what we had on-hand that needed to be used) concoction:

Mediterranean Chicken Pizza
Chris's Sauce:
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
Dump the tomato sauce and paste in a bowl. Smash up all of the spices (we use a mortar and pestel, purchased at Ikea- LOVE Ikea) and mix into tomato goop. Done! Most of the time we don't heat it up, but I think that might be a good idea in order to release some of the oils in the red pepper, etc.

Claire's Toppings:
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and julienned
  • 1/4 cup roasted red bell peppers, julienned
  • 1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat feta
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 precooked chicken breast, sliced on the bias and cut into bite-sized pieces

Make your dough, let it rise, roll it out, par-bake your crust (like I said, I'll let Chris go into detail on those steps later) and top! I did it in this order, I think: tomato sauce (we had about 1/4 cup left over) 1/2 the mozzarella, spinach, tomatoes, kalamatas, red bells, remaining 1/2 of mozz, feta.

Put the pie back in the oven (Chris will need to provide the temp) and bake for an additional 5-8 minutes, or until you notice that the crust has browned and the cheese has melted.

Chow down and watch Lost! :) At least that's what we did...

The final product. See Chris's pretty crust?

Mmm...my plate, mid-attack.

After chow/lost, I got straight to business- "business" being making cookies for my IT guy (Robert) at work. I'm movin' on up and relocating to a cubicle -get this- with a window (!), and I thought I'd repay Robert for his technical/moving man skills with a batch of cookies.

"What kind do you want," I asked, struggling to keep from suggesting fun 'exotics,' like green tea shortbread or meringues, "white chocolate macadamia, or pecan chocolate chip?" Did you notice the restraint? "I'm a simple man with simple needs-" Robert responded, "pecan chocolate chip!"

So it was written, and so it was done.

I'd been looking at Browneyed Baker's blog yesterday, and decided to bypass my dozens of saved chocolate chip cookie recipes (stockpiled for my quest, along with essentially every other home baker, to discover the "perfect" chocolate chip cookie recipe) and go with the one I'd run across on her site. They looked fabulous and I was intrigued by the detailed instructions.

I followed the ingredient list exactly, except I added about a cup of toasted chopped pecans (mmmm...).

The dough, pre-pecans.

The end product, post-pecans and baking.Your eyes do not deceive you- they are absolutely delicious, and huge...


Comparison to the chubby thumb to illustrate the huge-ness. ...and thick
...and stackable! Whee!

Chris's sample bite.

The only place I deviated from Browneyed Baker's recipe was in the formation of the dough balls. The recipe was so explicit regarding the method of making the perfect ball, so I decided to test it. Really? Is that really necessary? Why can't I just use my cookie scoop? It's good enough for Martha, so it's good enough for me.

The method outlined by the recipe is as follows:

  • Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

I tried it both ways- the cookie sheet on the left shows the above method, and the one on the right reflects the use of a cookies scoop:

Here they are, in the same order, after baking:

As you can see, they're pretty close in appearance, except the ones on the left (made by the recipe's method) are larger and a bit more rough-around-the-edges. At this point, I really think it's a matter of personal preference.

A-la-recipe method:A-la-cookie scoop:


In the end, I chose Browneyed Baker's method over Martha. I feel like the ruffly tops gave the cookies a more home-made feel, while the smooth tops looked dangerously refined- approaching the appearance of the pre-made, pre-cut cookie dough you can buy at the grocery.

Mowgli's sentiments on the grocery cookie smooth-ness:

Verdict: They turned out great! I let them cool completely on the baking sheet (soooo hard for me to do! Much will-power was involved, as well as frequent temperature-testing of the cookies. "Is it too soon to take them off?"), to stay true to the recipe. Browneyed Baker warns not to let them over-cook, and I think mine might have done just that, but only by a minute or two. They stayed wonderfully chewy on the inside and crisp on the outside last night, but today when I tested one, it was too crispy for my taste. Oh well- my error, not the recipe's.

Chris love them, stating, "Now this is an All-American cookie!" I'll take that as a compliment? He is sort of the All-American boy, what with the blonde/blue combo and his love for apple pie...

I haven't given them to Robert, yet, but I expect a pleased reaction and a timely, efficient move. :)

TTFN,

Claire

4 comments:

  1. I will be posting the recipe for the Pizza dough in the coming weeks. We took photos of the finished product, but forgot when it came to the actual dough making process.

    Also, just a heads up, YumFactory will be moving to a new website in the coming weeks as well. We are making an all out Fun Fest of cool recipes, tons of pictures and I will be starting my own Blog to post my own favorite recipes as well as beer and wine selections.

    Chris S.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yummm... Who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies?? I love them!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Talita,

    These were especially good! I'd definitely make sure not to over-bake, though.

    ReplyDelete
  4. i, too, was on the quest for the ultimate chocolate chip cookies and i stopped at the NY Times chocolate chip cookies. they are my go to cookies. i will have no other. the sprinkle of the salt on top is key. i also undercook them by a few minutes, i wear braces i prefer my cookies soft.

    i usually roll my cookies out, freeze them and then cut them into slices when i'm ready to bake.

    ReplyDelete