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13 September 2020

My Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies

I refrained from naming this recipe 'the best chocolate chip cookie' or some other title containing a superlative because there are so many amazing chocolate chip/chunk cookies out there and each one is special in its own way. I could never claim mine is the best because there are so many other cookie recipes that I truly love. I love Tara O'Brady's chocolate chip cookie recipe that calls for melted butter and it is my go-to when I do not have room temperature butter handy. I always make Thalia's recipe whenever I want a cookie with lots of 'chocolate puddles,' which is a term I learned from her. I love the brown butter toffee cookies by Kate Davis on the Bon Appetit website and I always have Skor bars in the pantry reserved for those cookies. And Sarah Kieffer's pan-banging technique takes any cookie to a whole new level. I actually love everyone else's recipe so much that I never really cared to share my own cookie recipe.

I developed the original version of this recipe for my cookbook, and that floral version is studded with white and dark chocolate and has culinary lavender incorporated into the dough. This one I am sharing today is more of a classic – no floral elements – but still has everything I love about that original cookie — crispy edges, chewy centres, and large pools of chocolate. This cookie dough is a really good canvas for whatever mix-ins or chocolates you like. I usually use a mixture of dark and milk chocolates, but will also fold in some blond or caramelized white chocolate to make them extra special. I love using Valrhona chocolates for my cookies but any good quality chocolate will work. To get the largest chocolate 'puddles,' refrain from using chocolate chips and opt for a chocolate bar that you can coarsely chop up yourself. I also save larger pieces of chocolate to top each dough ball before baking.

So this is all I have to say about the cookies. I love them. I hope you love them too.



My Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields 12 - 14 cookies

113g (½ cup) plus 28g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g (½ cup) plus 26g (2 tbsp) brown sugar
100g (½ cup) granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
210g (1¾ cups) plus 10g (2 tbsp) all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
117g (2/3 cup) coarsely chopped dark chocolate
117g (2/3 cup) coarsely chopped milk chocolate (I prefer Valrhona Caramelia 36%)
Optional: 60g (1/3 cup) coarsely chopped blond chocolate (I prefer Valrhona Dulcey 32%)
Maldon sea salt flakes, as needed

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until they are smooth, about 1 minute.

Add the vanilla and egg to the butter mixture and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two batches to the butter mixture, and mix until the ingredients are just combined, about 1 minute.

Separate the chopped chocolates into two portions; I like to reserve the larger pieces to top each cookie dough ball before baking. Add one portion of the chocolates to the bowl, and mix until they are just incorporated with the dough, about 30 seconds. Set second portion of chocolates aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

With a standard ice cream scoop, form balls of dough and place them about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on the baking sheet. Place several pieces of reserved chocolate onto each dough ball.

Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are browned and caramelized along the edges and the centres are just set. If you would like your cookies to have the crinkled edges, give the pan a few taps on the oven rack before you take them out of the oven.

Top each cookie with a sprinkling of the Maldon sea salt flakes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: The cookie dough freezes really well. After portioning the dough into dough balls, you can freeze the dough balls to be baked off at a later date. If you feel like you only want six cookies today, save the other six dough balls for next week. Future you will thank the present you.


Happy baking!

20 August 2020

Marbelous Cookie (aka. Triple Chocolate Cookie)


I really loved attending the University of British Columbia. I loved most of my professors and courses I chose, I loved the campus itself, and I loved all the wonderful people I met. Most importantly, I loved Blue Chip Cookie, a small cafe in the Student Union Building (now in The Nest) that offered what I thought then (but probably still holds true now) the best cookies. What made their cookies so memorable? The cookies were the size of my face and Blue Chip was never shy to add even more chocolate to a cookie. The Brazil Nut Cookie they offered was great and some of my friends loved the Ranger Cookie, but everyone would unanimously agree that the Marbelous Cookie is the cookie to get there. So what is the Marbelous? Well let me tell you. It is a chocolate cookie base with an iconic white chocolate slab on top. And when I say slab, I mean SLAB. The cookie is slightly crisp on the outside and extremely soft and tender on the inside. The cookie is quite tall and has a somewhat under-baked centre. The slab of white chocolate adds a lot of creaminess to the dark chocolate cookie base. It is perfection. Am I giving too much praise to a cafeteria cookie? Probably, but the Marbelous deserves it.

My point, the TL;DR, is that of all the things I miss about UBC, the thing I miss most is eating its 10,000 calorie cookie on a weekly basis. I rarely visit the campus so I challenged myself to recreate this cookie in my kitchen. They key to making a Marbelous cookie is to have a generous amount of white chocolate on top of each cookie. To get the iconic look, use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to create a large, thin slice of white chocolate to top each cookie dough ball before baking. I do not recall Blue Chip putting sea salt on top of their cookies, but I add some on mine because salt makes everything better.





Marbelous Cookie (aka. Triple Chocolate Cookie)
Yields 10 cookies

1⁄2 cup (113 g) plus 2 tbsp (28 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1⁄2 cup (100 g) plus 2 tbsp (26 g) brown sugar 
1⁄2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar 
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract 
1 large egg, at room temperature 
1 1/3 cup (160g) all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup (43g) and 2 tbsp (10g) cocoa powder
3/4 tsp salt 
3/4 tsp baking powder 
1⁄2 tsp baking soda 
3/4 cup (130 g) coarsely chopped dark chocolate 
2/3 cup (110 g) coarsely chopped milk chocolate 
White chocolate pieces, for topping
Maldon sea salt flakes, as needed 

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until they are smooth, about 1 minute.

Add the vanilla and egg to the butter mixture and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two batches to the butter mixture, and mix until the ingredients are just combined, about 1 minute.

Add the dark chocolate and milk chocolate, and mix until they are just incorporated with the dough, about 30 seconds.

Portion the dough into 10 dough balls of equal size and place them about 2 - 3 inches apart on the baking sheet. Top each dough ball with a big piece of white chocolate. I like using a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to get very thin, large pieces of white chocolate.

Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are caramelized along the edges and the centres are just set. The white chocolate should start to turn slightly golden.

Remove cookies from oven and top each cookie with a sprinkling of the Maldon sea salt flakes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.


Happy baking!

3 August 2020

The Ultimate Shaker Cookie Tutorial


Every time I post a shaker cookie video, I always get quite a few comments and DMs asking me if I could do a full tutorial on how to create these sprinkle-filled cookies. I actually have shared two separate tutorials in the past (for totoro shaker cookies and this one for Chinese New Year) and each tutorial has its own unique tips and tricks for creating their respective cookies. I thought it would be a good idea for me to create the ultimate guide here, where I combine the techniques from both of those tutorials and any additional things I have learned throw making numerous shaker cookies. Sometimes I find it difficult to follow along written instructions for a tutorial that involves many unfamiliar techniques, so at the end of this tutorial, you will find step-by-step videos to fully illustrate what it takes to create the perfect shaker cookie. If you absorb audio instructions better, I also have a talk-through tutorial on my IGTV. I hope you find it helpful!

For the cookies

Choose a cookie dough recipe. Any recipe that creates a cookie that will not spread much or lose its shape is a good choice — I like using my favourite sugar cookie recipethis blank canvas shortbread recipe, or a gingerbread recipe. Make the shortbread or sugar cookie dough according to the recipe you are using. If the dough is too sticky or tacky at this point, chill the dough in the fridge before rolling it out. Between two sheets of parchment paper or on a well-floured surface, roll out the chilled dough — you want the dough a bit thinner than 1/4-inch in thickness. Keep in mind that each cookie requires you to stack 3 cookies together, so you do not want each cookie to be too thick.

With a cookie cutter of choice, cut out as many cut outs as you can and transfer the cut outs to a large lined baking sheet. With a smaller square cookie cutter, punch out a cut out in the centre of each larger cookie. It is important that you make the smaller square cut out once the larger cut out has been transferred to the cookie sheet, or else the cookie will lose its shape when you try to transfer it. Transfer the baking sheet with the cookie cut outs to the freezer and chill the cut outs until firm, about 10 minutes. The more chilled the cut outs are, the less likely they will spread or lose their shape in the baking process.

While the cut outs are chilling, gather the smaller cut outs that you have removed from the larger shapes. Re-roll that dough and repeat the previous steps until all the cookie dough has been used up. If the dough starts to get soft, chill the dough again before cutting out the shapes.

Bake the chilled cookie cut outs according to your recipes instructions, until the edges of the cookies are golden. Keep in mind that your cookies will require less baking time than the original cookie recipe because you have a cut out in the centre, allowing the cookie to cook faster. A smaller cookie will require less bake time and a larger cookie with a thicker border will take longer. I recommend checking the cookies at the 5-minute mark. Once the cookies are ready, remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet before handling. They will be very delicate. Transfer the cookies onto another baking sheet lined/surface with a clean piece of parchment (any crumbs will get 'trapped' inside the isomalt). We will be pouring the isomalt on this surface.

Keep in mind that you will need three cookies per shaker cookie:
1. top cookie which will be filled with isomalt and decorated
2. middle cookie will 'raise' the cookie so the sprinkles can move freely inside the cookie
3. bottom cookie will be filled with isomalt

For the isomalt

You will only need two ingredients to cook clear isomalt: isomalt crystals and water. For every cup of isomalt you cook, you will need 1/8 of that amount of water (ex. 1/8 cup of water for every 1 cup of isomalt). The more shaker cookies you are making, the more isomalt you will need. I like to start with at least 1/2 cup of isomalt crystals. You can always make more if you run out while filling your cookies.

Preheat oven to 265F.

Place the isomalt crystals in an oven-safe small pot over medium heat and allow the isomalt crystals to melt without stirring them. Once the isomalt is boiling, remove the small pot from heat. Isomalt will be very bubbly. Hold the small pot off of the heat until the bubbles settle down. Careful to not let the isomalt cook too long on the stove or else it will turn an amber colour like caramel.

Once the bubbles have settled down, place the pot back down on the burner and stir in the water, a little at a time. Steam will aggressively come off of the sugar as the water is now cooling it down. Isomalt will still be very bubbly.

Reduce the amount of air bubbles in the hot isomalt by placing it in the oven at 265F for 8 - 10 minutes. If you skip this step, the bubbles will stay in the isomalt and will harden with the bubbles still visible.  After 10 minutes, carefully remove pot of isomalt from oven and use the isomalt while it is still hot. Carefully pour the hot isomalt into the centres of each cookie cut out and spread the isomalt to the edges and corners of each cookie with a small spoon. If the isomalt starts to thicken, place it back in the oven for 2 - 3 minutes, or until it liquefies again. Allow the isomalt to cool completely before moving the filled cookies, at least 10 minutes

Once the isomalt has set, take a piece of paper towel and dab it into a small dish of oil (I use vegetable oil). Gently polish the back side of the isomalt (the side that was on the sheet tray). This will make the isomalt extra see through and remove any cloudiness.

To assemble

Place one isomalt-filled cookie down. Apply royal icing to the edges of the cookie, being cautious to not get any icing on the 'glass.' Stack the hollow, unfilled cookie before the royal icing dries. Fill your cookie with sprinkles of choice. Create another outline with royal icing. Stack the last isomalt-filled cookie to 'seal' the cookie. Decorate the top of each cookie.








Happy baking (and shaking)!

22 June 2020

Matcha Neapolitan Sugar Cookies


I will always have a soft spot for Neapolitan ice cream, especially if it comes in a paper carton. It is the ice cream flavour I grew up eating because my parents thought this was the best way to appease an indecisive child that preferred strawberry ice cream on most days but would only eat chocolate and vanilla on the odd day. For me, Neapolitan will always be the classic combination of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, and it was not until recently that I started seeing variations of this tri-coloured and flavoured ice cream. One of the most notable ones is Japanese Neapolitan ice cream with matcha, hojicha, and black sesame flavoured ice cream. I also feel like a combination of Hong Kong milk tea, red bean, and soy milk would also make an amazing Chinese-style Neapolitan.

Today we are not making ice cream but we are borrowing the three-flavour concept of Neapolitan ice cream. These are a variation of the lavender Earl Grey sugar cookies that are in my cookbook Blooms and Baking (we are using a similar chewy sugar cookie base) but instead of being floral and tea-flavoured, we are making the cookie with three distinct but complementary flavours. Vanilla, matcha, and strawberry sugar cookie dough is gently rolled together to create a cookie of three colours and flavours. After making the base vanilla sugar cookie dough, I divide the dough into three equal portions and fold in matcha powder into one portion, fold freeze-dried strawberry powder into another, while leaving one portion plain (vanilla). The best way to add bold strawberry flavour into a baked good without changing the ratios of wet to dry ingredients too much is by adding freeze-dried strawberry powder. It is essentially dried strawberries (freeze drying removes even more moisture than dehydrating!) that have been ground into a very fine powder. In additional to adding bold strawberry flavours to the dough, it also colours the dough into a vibrant pink colour. If you want a more marbled look, you can mix the three doughs together a bit more, but be careful not to over-mix. Over-mixing will produce a cookie with muddled flavours and colour.







Matcha Neapolitan Sugar Cookies
Yields 12 - 14 cookies

1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
11⁄4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar (and more for rolling)
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
2 1⁄4 cups (270 g) all-purpose flour 
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons freeze-dried strawberry powder
2 tablespoons matcha powder

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set the baking sheet aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and 11⁄4 cups (250 g) of the sugar on medium speed until they are smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined and no more streaks of the flour mixture remain, about 45 seconds.

Divide the dough into three equal portions. Add strawberry powder to one bowl, matcha powder to the next, while leaving one portion of dough plain.

Take a tablespoon of each dough and combine the dough by rolling between the palms of your hands.

Toss the dough balls in a bowl of sugar until dough ball is coated.

Place the dough balls on the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each ball. Bake the cookies for 10 to 13 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are light golden brown. Do not overbake the cookies. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.


Happy baking!

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