Archive for March, 2009

Recipes for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies and Best Blueberry Muffins!

March 30, 2009

The kind and talented people at Cook’s Illustrated have granted permission to post the recipes for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies and Best Blueberry Muffins. These recipes originally appeared in the May/June 2009 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

Thank you to the team at Cook’s Illustrated!

Blueberry Muffins from Cook’s Illustrated

March 29, 2009
An excellent muffin!

An excellent muffin!

Yesterday I made the blueberry muffin recipe from the May/June issue of Cook’s Illustrated. The recipe is by Yvonne Ruperti. As I was making them I felt they had a lot of unnecessary steps. Melting and cooling butter, making jam, letting it cool, and making a topping. Maybe I was a little out of sorts because yesterday I wasn’t sure the muffins were special enough to warrant all of that fiddling. They’re muffins after all. There are thousands of recipes for blueberry muffins, most of which don’t require much fuss and that’s what I’m used to.

Even so I noticed how much I liked the grated lemon zest and sugar topping. It gives the muffins a little tang, and a little crunch. I also noted that I liked the crumb of the muffins. They’re moist and the flavors are very clear. They don’t require any additional butter or jam or at the table. They’re excellent just the way they are.

By the time afternoon tea rolled around I had decided that these muffins were worth every little step detailed in the recipe and I was sorry for my bad attitude towards them in the morning.

This morning before heading over to the gym I had one for a pre-work out snack, and my affection for these muffins was confirmed. They’re everything I want from a blueberry muffin.

I have some research to do about muffin tins. I thought mine was  a standard size muffin tin, but it’s very old, so maybe standard size has gotten bigger over the years. I had more batter than I could comfortably fit into twelve muffin cups but I did it anyway and my muffins are not as attractive as they could have been.

Moist crumb with good blueberry flavor.

Moist crumb with good blueberry flavor.

My photographs represent the most attractive of the twelve, and the cross section doesn’t represent how many blueberries there are in each muffin. There are plenty of blueberries and even though I had to use frozen fruit the blueberry flavor is excellent. I’m going to ask for permission to post the recipe and if I receive permission I’ll update this post. If I don’t get permission please refer to page 21 of the May/June issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

This post has been edited to include the recipe with permission from Cook’s Illustrated !

Best Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

Lemon Sugar Topping

1/3 c. (2 1/3 ounces) sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon


2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over

1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. For the topping: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.

2. For the muffins: Adust oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room remperature, 10-15 minutes.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 c. sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

4.Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.

5. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17-19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

To substitute frozen berries. Cook 1 cup as directed in Step 2. Rinse remaining berries under cold water and dry well. In step 3, toss dried berries into flour mixture before adding egg mixture. Proceed with recipe as directed.

A link for the CI Chocolate Chip Recipe

March 29, 2009

Patsy received permission from Cook’s Illustrated to post the recipe for The Perfect Chocolate Chip cookies. Instead of making hers three tablespoons, she made hers the traditional drop cookie size. Check out the link and the recipe.

Perfect? Chocolate Chip Cookies

March 28, 2009

Thick and chewy but not gooey in the center.
Thick and chewy but not gooey in the center.

Two days ago I received my May/June issue of Cook’s Illustrated. On the front cover I could see “Chocolate Chip Cookies, Reinvented”. That alone was enough to pique my curiosity, but when I flipped to page 22 and saw “The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie” I couldn’t help but think it takes a lot of ego to call a recipe or a baked good “perfect”. Despite the arrogance of the title I had to make the cookies to find out what constitutes the title “perfect” in the test kitchen at CI.

Basically they’ve tweaked the Nestle Toll House recipe by browning most of the butter, removing some of the egg white, changing the ratio of brown to white sugar, and using a larger scoop of dough for each cookie. Does it yield a “perfect” cookie? The cookies are thick and chewy and are not gooey in the center. The edgesw are crisp. They aren’t greasy, and they have just the right sweetness without being sugary or grainy. The toffee flavor that I like in chocolate chip cookies is pronounced due to the browned butter and dark brown sugar.

In my vocabulary the word perfect doesn’t apply to food, but these are truly excellent cookies, and even if you have to buy the issue off the rack it’s worth the $5.95 to get the recipe, at least if you’re a chocolate chip cookie aficionado. Besides, there is a recipe for the “Best Blueberry Muffins” that looks very good. Apparently they aren’t “perfect”, but I’ll give them a try anyway.

 Thick and chewy, but not gooey in the center.

FYI the recipe for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies appears on page 24 of the May/June issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

This post has been updated to include the recipe with permission from Cook’s Illustrated!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12- inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10 inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use#24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking seet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Unhealthy foods

March 14, 2009

As you can see from the recipes I’ve posted on this blog I’m no stranger to less than healthy foods, but while I was surfing the net a moment ago I ran across this article and the information listed there for the “Top Ten Worst Foods of 2009” was truly shocking. I don’t even want to think about what is in the spaghetti with meatballs from Macaroni Grill to get the fat and calorie counts that high!

Speaking of unhealthy foods I have a few recipes to post, along with photos. I’m still catching up after February being so busy, but I will get back to the blog. Really I will!