Tag Archives: cookies

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies and Why baking is so important to me!

8 Dec

A few days back,  one of my colleagues asked me why I baked. I was taken aback by why she should ask me such a question. I told her, I baked because:

  • I love to bake;
  • It gave me a breather;
  • A creative outlet;
  • The satisfaction of practicing a craft;
  • I need to keep my blog going, so I had to bake;
  • Because my daughter requested cakes and cookies and joined in during the preparatory process

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Every single reason more compelling than the other. Baking gives me such comfort and helps me de- stress. I told my colleague that I find myself baking more on weekdays, after I come back from office since it simply dispels the stress that I have accumulated in the entire day. After a long day’s work, when the defeatist in me is working hard to put me down and beat my confidence into smithereens, baking restores in me the hope that an action as simple as mixing, flour, eggs, chocolate, butter and sugar can create magic. These days my 3 year old is plenty excited to do her bit in helping me bake her favourite kind of cookies and cakes. She helps me with the mixing bit and keeps asking me in between ” Is it done mamma?” Every other evening, when I come back from work, I find her enthusiastically waiting for me at the door and the moment I open the door, she would leap at me and give me a big, tight hug. She would then relate her classroom and Ms. Linda (her class teacher) stories of the day before making a request for chocolate cookies. She would then say she wants to help me bake cookies. She would rush to get a balloon whisk from the kitchen drawer. Most days I try to dissuade her by distracting her with her story books or some homework. But some days I feel I need that tiny speck of magic to dazzle and sparkle the fag end of my day. My daughter makes sure that she is a part of it.

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On one such overwhelmingly difficult day, when I came back from work, Mimi said she wanted to bake chocolate cookies. I was reminded of a lovely chocolate cookie recipe on Himanshu’s blog. I felt drawn towards it more because it looked like just the kind of cookie, I would love to sink my teeth into to dissolve my depression. Crinkly and sinfully chocolate-y, these cookies have the power to singlehandedly ensure world peace. No, I am not exaggerating. I wouldn’t try making the same recipe twice. But with these cookies I did.  Himanshu’s cookies seem like they have just dropped from some professional baking magazine while mine were not the most eye-catching. Both the times. But my official tester ( Mimi) passed them by gobbling 2 of these giant cookies straight out of the oven; so I was pretty sure that these would be a big hit even in office.

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I made a few changes in the recipe, which are:

  • I reduced the amount of sugar
  • I used white chocolate for the chunks
  • doubled the recipe

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A Quick Update and some Quick to make Oats Cookies

22 Jun

I haven’t seen this space in a long time. I miss blogging at whim. It is more schedule driven. More of a weekend activity. It is now that I doubly admire all those bloggers who blog inspite of having a full-time job and blog more than many times a week. So much has been happening and I feel life is just whizzing past me. I make desperate attempts to make tiny post-it mental notes every time I observe or feel something interesting but then it slips away.  This post is more to recapitulate all the important stuff that has happened over some time now.

First things first-Mimi

Mimi has started talking so much and I see this difference after she resumed school on a regular basis.  She has a quip to make about everything. She wants to give her expert opinion about how I look, or her Papa looks or how she looks. She can ride her bike now and it is such a pleasure to see her pedaling away. Just the other day I asked her,” Mimi, what did the teacher teach you today?”  Pat came the reply, ” Quiet Mimi! Quiet!”  and yesterday I asked her the same question and she said, ” Don’t shout Mimi” So I take it that the teacher is really having a tough time getting Mimi to do what the class is doing. Recently they even got a class photograph as the term is about end on 28th of June. But I am sending her off to the Summer camp in her school that starts on 8th of July. This Sunday, she has a class performance to which all the parents are invited and they are going to perform, ‘ Incy Wincy Spider’. The entire time, we hear Mimi singing Incy wincy spider and when she’s in the mood, she’d do it with actions. I am excited to attend her first class performance and I pray everything goes well. I know she will enjoy it because she loves to sing.

I am amazed they got her to stand. ahem.. straight!

The Class photo: The caretaker had to hold her so that she didn’t run off

2. Next is this wonderful poetry festival that I had the opportunity to attend last night. Set against the romantic back drop of the Bahrain fort, it was certainly a night to remember. 15 wonderful poets with their marvellous poetry enthralled the audience. The Poetry festival is the first of its kind arranged by the Bahrain Writers’ Circle’s – Poetry arm – The second circle.  The theme was The Colours of Life and the brochure of which you can see below. Though the lights went off in between for some weird reason, it only added to the drama of the whole evening.  It was such a good break for me from my otherwise hectic work life. To listen to soul-full poetry is the best way to usher in a weekend. Some of the participants are good friends and I had rushed from work to support them. It was a delight to see them read their work.

The poetry festivals’ brochure

3. Apart from that, we were able to watch a movie in the cinema hall, along with Mimi after 2.5 years. We avoid going to the movies because Mimi doesn’t think it is interesting to sit in one place for more than a few seconds. But now that she is a little grown up, we thought it should be easier now. We thought Madagascar-3 was a safe bet and right we were. She sat through 3/4th of the movie and enjoyed it too. This is great progress as far as Mimi is concerned.

4. I have been working out quite regularly and running as well. Hopefully by the year-end when its the marathon season, I should be able to run atleast a few of them like the 11 km one in November and the 17km one in December.

5. I have recently made good friends with a Bahraini girl in my office. She is pretty as a picture but apart from that, she is very special. She loves Hindi Movies. She has watched every Yash Chopra banner movie there is starting from Kuch Kuch Hota hai ( which was the first movie she had seen and by far her favourite movie) to the latest Anjana – Anjani or whichever is running in the cinemas these days. She watches them with English subtitles but follows Hindi quite nicely. We converse in Hindi for fun in office and she does a marvellous job at some difficult pronunciations as well. She is so familiar with our Hindu customs and festivals that sometimes I find it hard to believe she is a Bahraini. She is so moved by Bollywood that in her wedding this winter, she has a Bollywood themed ‘Sangeet” . How cool is that! She is also going to wear Ghaghara-choli ( traditional Indian blouse – skirt) for her Mehendi ceremony. She is such fun company to keep in office and I hope to learn more about the Bahraini culture from her.

6. Last but not the least, I have some great tasting, quick to put together Oats cookie recipe today from the latest issue of the BBC Good Food Magazine. I find myself trying more recipes from the BBC Good Food Magazine more than the other recipe books that I have.

But these cookies are literally child’s play and that is what prompted me make them in the middle of week after coming back from work.

Cherry + Apricots+ Oats

They were such a breeze to put together, and the original recipe did not add any cherries in it, but I did because… I felt like it 🙂

The cherries gave the blonde cookies a pop of colour and the apricots lent the gorgeous texture. Full of oat-y goodness, there isn’t anything that I can say that didn’t work in this cookies favour. I took them to office the following day and they were devoured before I could count 10.

Another reason why they were devoured so quickly was because, the recipe in the magazine was meant to give out only 6 cookies. So I doubled the recipe and managed 15 cookies out of it.  Usually when I take cookies or bakes to office, I ensure I have around 20 + individual pieces. 15 cookies stood no chance at all. I managed to save some for Mimi, who liked them equally. I am going to try them with the usual good stuff such as chocolate chips and more dried fruits.

Photos courtesy : Namit Bhatia

It has been a great few weeks so far. In a few days time,  this part of the world will fold itself into a prayer and fast non stop for 30 days. Life will slow down, offices will close early, super market racks would be empty sooner as people tend to buy more than they need when they are fasting and there will be an atmosphere of prayer and sanctity all around. It is a different kind of experience to be in a Muslim country during Ramadan, albeit a wonderful one because there will tents that come up in the evening with lavish spread of food for everybody who wants to sample it.  I hope to capture the essence of Ramadan in some posts of mine and at the same time try to experiment with some local dish that is typically eaten during Ramadan.

That is all for now!

Classic “Compensatory” Chocolate Chip Cookies

16 Apr

Chocolate Chip Cookies command three things – you cannot stop at just one and you can never get tired of them and they beg to be made again and again; especially if they are Dorie Greenspan’s best Chocolate Chip cookies ever!!

If you are wondering why I have called them ‘ Compensatory’ then you ought to read this post.

Mimi loves chocolate chip cookies and I have made these many times before but they vanish before I can photograph them. So this time I planned  my baking such that I had some time to photograph before they got devoured.

 

I clicked a few pictures while they were baking their way to the chocolate spotted golden discs. It is so wonderful to see each scoop of dough spread out into a beautiful cookie. Each one unique and gorgeous in its own unique way. That is the most beautiful part of having home-baked goods.

 

This recipe is a Dorie Greenspan recipe and like all her recipes they tend to be butter and sugar heavy. Since I have already made these couple of times, I have tweaked the butter and the sugar according to the way we like it. Mimi doesn’t like it if it’s too sweet. She enjoys the dull sweetness from the bits of chocolate scattered intermittently in the cookie. She is my official tester of my cookie dough. If she licks it off the ladle and doesn’t spit it out, it means it really is very, very good.

Recipe for the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 25-27 large cookies

Ingredients

All Purpose flour – 2 cups

Salt- 1 tsp

Baking soda – 3/4 tsp

Butter – 225 gms but I used 200 gms, which works perfectly well

Caster Sugar – 3/4 cup ( original called for 1 cup)

Light brown sugar – 1/2 cup ( original called for 2/3)

Vanilla essence – 2 tsps

Eggs – 2, large

chocolate chips ( bittersweet) – 2 cups ( I had run out of these and used actual bitter sweet chunks of chocolate)

Toasted walnuts – 1 cup, finely chopped

Preparation

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 F/190C/ gas mark 5. Line the baking sheet with a parchment paper

2. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda

3. Working with a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth.

4. Add sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so., until well blended

5. Beat in the vanilla

6. Add eggs one at a time, beating well for a minute or so before adding the other egg and doing the same.

7. Reduce the speed of the stand mixer and add the dry mixture in 3 lots and then add the chocolate and nuts

8. Spoon the dough on the parchment paper keep enough distance between two such scoops so that there is enough space for them to spread out and shine.

9. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time and rotating the sheet at the mid way point for 10 to 12 minutes or until they are brown at the edges and golden at the center. They may be soft in the middle but that is alright. When they cool down they harden sufficiently giving it the right kind of bite.

10. Pull the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for 1 minute, then carefully using a wide spatula transfer them to a separate plate to cool to room temperature.

 

So it is as easy as that and still happens to be a favourite with my family. Do try these and  see yourself reaching for your cookie jar every now and then.

Random Bakes of Kindness & a Thank You Note to Vanessa

7 Sep

A few months back, I did recipe testing for Vanessa Kimbell, who is the author of the fabulous book ‘PREPPED‘. I tested her recipe for Chocolate Savory cookies which were nothing short of gourmet cookies with a homely touch. I was thrilled to bits when she mentioned me and my blog on her blog. I kept track of how she was managing the whole show- writing the book, maintaining a blog, her three children, a house, cooking, baking, marketing, a radio show… Phew. The list is endless. How can somebody do so much at one time! But that’s Vanessa for you. I was impressed by her passion and it is this passion that fuels her to give her best at all times.

Fast forward and one day I receive a package. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw it was from Vanessa. It contained her gorgeously sexy book – Prepped. It is shocking pink in colour and contains page after page of spectacular photographs. It was easy to understand that this book is a blessing in disguise for all those spontaneous moments such as unexpected guests, impromptu parties et al. It gave me brilliant ideas and ways to save time by prepping a few basic things beforehand so that it eliminates the last-minute cooking hassles.

I kept flipping through it again and again, completely overwhelmed by her gesture. Since then I had been meaning to do a post to thank her as well as try one of the recipes in her book.

The opportunity came in the form of an initiative by Vanessa herself. She called out to all food bloggers to participate in her Random Bakes of Kindness Project. In her own words, she described the initiative as,

“Blogging seems so me myself and I recently.  It’s so easy to focus on nothing but the food and my own life and I  really wanted to add a human element to baking.  Sometimes it’s not about the food as such .. it’s more about the person eating the food and how it makes them feel. I am sure there must be someone in your life who deserves a spontaneous thank you, a kind word and some recognition for just being a marvelous person. I know it’s a bit random .. but that is what makes it out of the usual and for me that makes it special.  The unexpected just means more.”

This was a fantastic way to thank her as well as do my good deed for the day. I decided to participate and for the same baked ” Chocolate Cookies”  from Prepped.

Morsed is a sweet little guy who works with our building housekeeping team. Once every week he comes to my apartment and works very hard to keep it spic and span. He originally hails from Bangladesh and misses his family a lot. This is one emotion we are all familiar with. He has been doing housekeeping for us for a long time and I thought his services deserved to be acknowledged in a special way. I baked a batch of Chocolate cookies and gave it to him as a Eid gift. He was absolutely taken aback since he didn’t expect it at all. He fumbled and floundered, and I couldn’t help but giggle 🙂 . He blushed the most when I took a picture of him. I have never seen anybody so nervous but I am sure the cookies will more than make up for all the awkwardness.

So that is how I concluded my Random Bake of Kindness project with Vanessa. But I feel, it will not stop here. It is a splendid feeling to do something out of the blue for someone who might not expect it. I think, I have caught the bug; drivers, building caretakers, maids, shopkeepers, watch out!

Jokes aside, I must thank Vanessa for sending me a personally signed copy of her book, for starting this wonderful initiative and giving me and opportunity to look outside of me. The cookies were delicious and that gives me tremendous encouragement to try out other recipes as well.

And What a Week it was!

25 Jan

Last week just whizzed past me. The first half, I actually have no recollection of what I did except there was a lot of job search stress, some studying and trying to teach Mimi how to solve some board puzzles. All three of them were met with instant failures. But the tenacious ‘Kida’ in me did not give up. I tried and tried and am still trying. All of this is teaching me to be patient, tolerant , as I repeat to myself “Your time will come.” The eternal optimist in me is never going to give up.

I haven’t written about my work out sessions for quite some time. I go to the gym ‘every other day’  and try to keep up with my cardio. I am trying to undo the damage that the India trip has done. So there is a lot of work to be done. But I am happy to see that my motivation hasn’t wavered inspite of the kilos I piled on savouring those goodies in Delhi. Thats the best change of mind set I have achieved till date. This itself is a huge achievement. Earlier I used to fret and fume, felt defeated if I went on a binge and get super depressed on piling on a single kilo. Probably because I used to work very hard. These days it is more relaxed but not lax. I understand the importance of feeling good vis-a-vis looking good. I try to maintain a healthy balance but not at the cost of enjoying the finer things in life. So MODERATION is my BFF ( Best Friend Forever) and that has helped me not take myself, my life, my body and all of it, seriously.

Mimi is being prepared to join a nursery. Yes! I have realized that I need to spend enough time with her to make her learn a few basic things. I have started off with nursery rhymes and now though she doesn’t recite it, she does the action for “Twinkle Twinkle”. All the patience and drama it took to teach her!!! She would do it for me but not for anyone else. That is something that I am working on now. Since she’s become a lot shy after her visit to India ( I suspect, all that overwhelming affection had something to do with it), I feel a bit worried if this behaviour would stay. I loved it when she was so receptive to other people. She has also learnt to walk backwards which she thinks is a super accomplishment. So to entertain me , she would walk backwards and feign a fall! 🙂 Also when she feels I am not in the right mood, she would run around in circles to make me laugh. We have a bought a huge nursery rhyme book for her which she likes to flip through and pass time. Continue reading

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