December 21, 2021

Chocolate Cookies


It's baking season and that means friends are texting me for cookie recipes! I'm still making chocolate chip cookies as described in my latest blog post (over two years ago, "latest" is laced with a heavy dose of sarcasm!)

I've decided to update my chocolate cookie recipe since it's my second most requested. The secret to these is the Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder which gives the nice dark color. I use about half special dark and half standard cocoa powder (Trader Joe's is my favorite). I'm not much for sifting but cocoa powder is often lumpy so I make an extra effort for these. 

This cookie dough is versatile. I use it to make sandwich cookies (like homemade Oreos) as shown above. It's a great base for any chocolate chip cookie dough addition- I like it with white chocolate or peppermint chips, or even M&Ms. They taste great with the Andes Mint chips but I haven't been able to find them in store this year. For an extra special treat I frost the top of the cookies with mint or peanut butter frosting and then smear some chocolate ganache on top- it's my favorite mint brownie recipe turned into cookies. The dough also freezes like a dream- I usually scoop the extra with my smallest cookie scoop and freeze the balls. My hungry teen boy snitches them out of the freezer with alacrity.

Let me know how you end up using this recipe. Leave a comment or tag me on Instagram (@anne.strawberry). Happy baking, and happy holidays friends.

Chocolate Cookie Dough
from Anne Strawberry

Yields about 50 standard size cookies

3 cups Flour 
1 cup Cocoa Powder
3/4 cup Special Dark Cocoa Powder
1 tablespoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1 1/2 cups Butter, softened (3 sticks)
3 Eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare baking sheets (Grease or line with silicone baking sheet or parchment paper).

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set dry ingredients aside.

Cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes in the KitchenAid). Add egg and beat well. Add vanilla and mix until well combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Add in any mix ins if desired (chocolate chips, M&Ms, etc). 

Scoop onto the prepared cookie sheet and squish slightly to flatten cookies.

Bake for about 8 or 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

August 5, 2019

Chocolate Chip Cookies, currently

My lifelong favorite cookie and recipe, chocolate chip cookies feature regularly on the treat rotation around here. Although they act like an easy going staple, I find them to be slightly fussy and very changeable. I prefer my cookies to be soft and slightly chewy, with semisweet chips and plenty of salt. I only use real butter (I prefer Costco's) and "good vanilla and chocolate". If that sounds like Ina Garten, so be it. She's still my favorite human being I've never met.

Friends always ask me exactly how I make my chocolate chip cookies so I'll do my best to lay out the ingredients and techniques, because even a little change makes a big difference.

Brown Sugar- I use dark brown exclusively and prefer the Target or Safeway brand

White Sugar- C & H (I get the 10 lb bags at Costco- they perfectly fill my canister as shown above)

Butter- I exclusively use regular salted butter from Costco except when I can get Land o' Lakes or Challenge inexpensively  over the holiday baking season

Vanilla- I always buy Costco's pure vanilla extract. I love the flavor and they finally added a pour spout (I never measure and always dump in extra). This stuff is expensive and delicious. I always mean to make my own but haven't gotten to it yet. My friend gave me a bottle of homemade vanilla for Christmas a while back and I just store it in my pantry and admire it whenever I see it. I love good vanilla. This bottle costs $29.99 at my Costco right now which is a significant improvement from when it reached $38 last year but still a lot more than when I paid $17 a bottle a few years ago. It's expensive but I don't know of a decent substitute. Please leave a comment if you have a source or suggestion. I live in Arizona but Mexican vanilla isn't really my jam due to it's inconsistency, although some varieties are great.

Salt- I use Diamond Kosher Salt for everything at my house except making homemade playdoh (I break out the Morton from the back of the pantry for that!). It's really inexpensive at my local Kroger store.

Kosher and sea salts have a different shaped crystal and softer taste than iodized salt so recipes usually call for varied amounts. For me it works fine to interchange kosher or sea salt but not regular iodized salt. I use 2 teaspoons of kosher salt in this recipe but if you use regular salt you'd want to reduce to probably 1.5, according to taste. I used to use several kinds of salt in my cabinet but space is at a premium and Diamond Kosher tastes great and works well. So I use that for almost everything now. I do have a jar of Maldon I sometimes sprinkle baked goods with. Again, if it's good enough for Ina Garten it's good enough for me.

Baking soda- I buy Arm and Hammer and keep it in this functional and attractive air tight container I found on clearance at the grocery store years ago. When I dropped mine on the tile a few years ago and broke it, I replaced it full price on Amazon right away.

Flour- I use Gold Medal all purpose flour. I like to use freshly ground whole wheat flour for pancakes, waffles, rolls, etc, but for cookies I stick to the classic. I'm not pretending it's healthy magical white flour. Makes a good cookie though. I keep several bags in my spare fridge so I never run out. I buy the standard 5 pound bag and it fits in the same canister I use for my sugar (as seen above). I like using the smaller bags and storing them airtight so my flour is always fresh.

Chocolate chips- I like to use semisweet chocolate for at least half of the add ins. Sometimes I'll add some mint chips, M&Ms (I get the big canister of plain ones at Costco and store it hidden away in the corner of my pantry with the baking stuff), toffee chips, milk chocolate chips (my kids favorite), etc. My personal favorite combo lately is semisweet chocolate chips and M&Ms. That's probably the most common cookie in my Instagram feed. I prefer Ghirardelli, Guittard, Trader Joe's, or Costco (Kirkland) brand chocolate chips (only available in fall/winter at my Costco so I stock up) and don't generally buy Nestle. Everyone has a favorite and it will effect the taste of your final product. My favorite is Kirkland, or TJ's when it's off season.

All that to say- there's a million ways to make a chocolate chip cookie. They're generally delicious regardless of how you make them. This is my (current) method and it will probably continue to evolve. Leave a comment if you have a special tip or favorite kind of chocolate I should try.

One last thing about method- a lot of recipes call for chilling the dough and I appreciate that. However, I usually have lots of kids clamoring for cookies so I generally skip that step.

Anne's (Current Favorite) Chocolate Chip Cookies
by Anne Strawberry
(Printable version)

1.5 cups packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
3 sticks barely softened butter (1.5 cups)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3.5-4 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups of chocolate chips or M&Ms

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cream sugars and butter until light and fluffy (takes 1-2 minutes in my stand mixer depending on the temperature of the butter). Mix in eggs and vanilla for another minute. Scrape down sides of bowl to make sure everything is evenly incorporated.

Add in the flour (reserving a half cup or so), baking soda, and salt. Pulse mixer slowly until combined. Add the rest of the flour if the dough seems too tender. I usually use all 4 cups but your measuring style, temperature, etc will impact the amount needed. The dough should be pretty strong and able to hold its own, otherwise the cookies will be too fragile and a little greasy. Mix in chocolate chips gently, just enough to incorporate.

Scoop cookies on to Silpat lined baking sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes, until they look just about done and are starting to barely golden on the edges. Enjoy. Cookies freeze beautifully in airtight packages. I think they also taste best on the second day.

A note about scooping cookies- it's quite easy and worth it for the uniformity alone. I usually put 12 cookies on a regular tray but if I'm in a hurry (or trying to minimize oven on time) and the cookies aren't too "spready" I'll put 15 on a tray (3 by 5 pattern instead of the usual 3 by 4). I always use my Pampered Chef Medium Scoop to portion out the cookie dough into "regular" size cookies. I got this scoop in 2003 and have made approximately three million cookies with it and it's still going strong. Big advocate for the real deal here, if you know someone. I do have several other sizes of scoops I've bought in person, on Amazon, etc. Some hold up well and some don't. My nearly 20 year old Pampered Chef scoop is still trucking. Little cookies are fun for kids or for parties when people want to try lots of things or not look like they're eating big dessert (looking at you, bridal and baby showers). Big cookies feel extra special for big day- I just bought the large Pampered Chef scoop to replace mine from the local big box store.

If I have any leftover cookie dough I scoop it with my small scoop and freeze the balls on a plate or in a flat plastic food container. Once they set I transfer them to baggies and store them in the tiny nonsensical shelf on the top of my side by side freezer. My 4 year old calls these "ball cookies" and prefers them to the finished product. I regularly see my hungry 12 year old walking by to snitch them. He doesn't think I know. I know. I also know he's happier when he's not hungry and I don't mind him sneaking a little cookie dough occasionally.

Thanks for sticking with me on this ridiculously long cookie treatise. Leave a comment with your big feelings about chocolate chip cookies. We all have them.

Affiliate links used and theoretically support my expensive vanilla habit, although you should definitely post more than once every two years if you're looking to successfully monetize a blog. Now that I think about it I don't think the affiliate links even pay the hosting bills around here. So let's say "used affiliate links kind of keep this neglected food blog running."

November 29, 2017

Salted Caramel Oatmeal Cookies

I might not make time to blog anymore but I find myself in the kitchen more than ever, with four growing children and a hungry husband. This year we moved to a new home a few minutes down the road. We're closer to family, closer to work, and have a beautiful new kitchen. There's a big bar for the kids to sit and eat at (this alone has simplified my life). I have lovely solid surface counter tops that make rolling out pie crust an absolute joy. We also have a little more counter space to spread cookie sheets out on. My oldest daughter is eight now and has become my perfect sous-chef, stirring, spreading, and chopping along the way. It's wonderful to share the kitchen with someone eager to help. I remember that feeling of excitement as I learned to create something delicious and try hard to encourage her. Lately we've watched the Great British Bake Off together in the afternoons then we head into the kitchen to make a treat or work on dinner together, often incorporating their "theme" into our projects.

Cookies are a perennial favorite around here and this new recipe is moving straight into my cookbook of tried and true recipes. I've never been much of an oatmeal cookie fan- truthfully, I've only learned to appreciate oatmeal at all as an adult and very recently. But these cookies came highly recommended from a trusted source and had the words "salted caramel" leading the title. So I shrugged my shoulders and said as Ina does, "How bad can that be?" In shocking news, butter, sugar, and caramel are absolutely delicious. The edges are a little crisp, the center soft and chewy, and the unexpected burst of caramel and salt make for a perfect cookie.

I've made this recipe a couple of times now and expect it to stay on permanent rotation. Thank you to Kelly Gordon from my favorite podcast Sorta Awesome for the great recommendation. 2017 has also been the year of podcasts for me. I started listening a couple years ago but this year we prepped our old house to sell and moved into our new home- which meant a ton of time to listen as I packed, painted, unpacked, and reorganized our lives. Podcasts have brought me laughter, learning, and even a little companionship as I plow through another sink full of dishes or load of laundry. Are you a podcast fan? I'd love to hear what you're listening to!

I know my phone camera shot isn't up to 2017 food blogger standards, but this little corner of the internet is also my personal resource for saving and accessing my recipes. I also thought this delicious recipe needed to be shared asap with all the impending holiday baking and didn't want to hold out while I made another batch and took another photo. I hope you'll give it a try.

Caramel chips are available at my local grocery stores near the chocolate chips (usually on the bottom shelf). These tiny balls of caramel can be subbed into any cookie recipe just like chocolate chips. I've started to keep several bags in my pantry because they really up the ante with your basic cookie recipe. Try them in your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe next time. You can buy them on Amazon as well.

I'm not around here too often anymore but can find me on Instagram. I'd love to see you there!

Salted Caramel Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from

Note: It's absolutely necessary to line your baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Wait to make these if you don't have those on hand.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 packaged (11 ounces) Kraft caramel bits

Preheat oven to 375. Cream together butter and sugar in mixer until light and fluffy.

Mix in vanilla, then eggs.

Gently mix in the dry ingredients (flour, salt, soda, oats) until just barely incorporated. Stir in caramel bits. (Optional- 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in addition is delicious as well!)

Scoop onto parchment or silicone lined cookie sheet and bake about 8-10 minutes, until they barely start to brown on the edges. They should look a little bit under done when you remove them from the oven. Sprinkle a tiny bit of kosher or sea salt on top of each cookie and enjoy.

Affiliate links included.

March 21, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeye Cookies

The other day I needed to bake a chocolate and peanut butter treat for a friend. I whipped up a recipe of my favorite chocolate cookies and topped them with Ina's amazing peanut butter frosting. Then I spread on a little semisweet chocolate that I had melted together with a little butter. The end result was delicious and pretty too, in an imperfect way.

For me half the battle of good cooking is planning ahead. I often double my cookie recipe, scoop it all out with my trusty cookie scoop, and freeze half of the dough in a big baggie. Then I can grab and bake them whenever I need to without even messing up the kitchen (or sneak a bite of cookie dough out of the freezer during the witching hour when I'm trying to make dinner and keep wild babies happy and safe in between driving kids back and forth). There's not any dough in my freezer right now and that situation needs to be addressed.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeye Cookies
from Anne Strawberry

Yields 3 dozen standard size cookies

2 cups Flour 
1 1/4 cups Cocoa powder (Half regular cocoa powder, half Hershey's Special Dark if available)
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Butter, softened
1 extra large Egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare baking sheets (Grease or line with silicone baking sheet or parchment paper).

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set dry ingredients aside.

Cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes in the KitchenAid). Add egg and beat well. Add vanilla and mix until well combined.

With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Scoop onto the prepared cookie sheet and squish slightly if flatter cookies are desired (I think the cookies look prettier if they are squished about half way down before baking).

Bake for about 8 or 9 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with peanut butter frosting and then chocolate. Serve with milk and store in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter Frosting
inspired by the lovely Ina Garten (aka Barefoot Contessa) 

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar (as needed)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup heavy cream (as needed)

Cream the peanut butter and butter in a stand mixer. Mix in half the powdered sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and salt and mix until combined. Add in additional powdered sugar and cream as needed until desired consistency is reached. If it's difficult to spread the frosting on the cookies, thin it with a dash of cream.

Chocolate Topping

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli or Guittard- chopped chocolate bars are even better here)
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter

Melt together over a double boiler or in glass bowl in a microwave on low power (I usually use 30% power and stir ever 30 seconds or so). Pull off heat when about 90% melted and stir by hand until totally smooth. Spread a tablespoon or so over the frosting on each cookie. Let set on the counter or place in the fridge for a few minutes until chocolate is set. Enjoy!

March 15, 2016

Strawberry Pie for Pi Day

Happy Pi Day! Did you make or eat a pie to celebrate? Making a pie feels so therapeutic to me that I really appreciate the excuse. I love to roll out the crust, concoct a filling, and crimp the edges. The long baking time only adds to the anticipation. Yesterday my little blondies helped me make a pie in honor of Pi Day. I needed something the whole team could eat, and with the food allergies around here that means no dairy and no eggs (we have a few others to contend with but they aren't typical pie ingredients.) 

So fruit pie won out and a dairy free crust (no egg wash of course!) Strawberries are on sale around here this week so I turned to my Pie Pinterest board and took inspiration from this gorgeous Strawberry Balsamic Pie. I used my beautiful Emile Henry pie pan I scored at TJ Maxx for a traditionally shaped pie. I followed my mom's all shortening pie crust recipe so I didn't offend the non-dairy team, made an imperfect lattice crust (my kids LOVED weaving it) and brushed it with almond milk. I sprinkled sanding sugar on top and baked it. It came out juicy and fragrant with red color that can't be beat. 

Strawberries and balsamic vinegar make a delicious combo. I like the mix some sliced fresh strawberries with a shake of vinegar and some sugar to form a syrup- then I serve them with whipped cream (add a sprinkle of black pepper if you're adventurous). You can't pinpoint the vinegar flavor but it really enhances the strawberries. The same is true of this pie. I didn't use as much as the inspiration recipe called for because my bottle ran out, but it really enhanced the strawberries.

I usually prefer a fresh strawberry pie but this was a fun change and a good change to walk my kids through the whole pie making process. I don't want them to grow up afraid to experiment in the kitchen. I've certainly made my share of imperfect pies and desserts, but as Ina says, "flour, sugar, butter, how bad can that be?" Even messy pies are usually delicious- especially topped with a little vanilla ice cream. You can always use a crust from the store, too, and experiment with fillings. Pie making is a lot of fun and doesn't have to be stressful! Local friends- if you'd like to come over and make a pie and have a play date, let me know. I promise it's fun and the experiment is always delicious.

PS- I finally started a foodie instagram account as @anne.strawberry . I'd love to see you there! 

Pie making can be pretty messy with the flour and everything so I always double my recipe to make four single crusts, shape the dough into disks, wrap in saran wrap, then in a labeled baggie (I had a helper do this last time, they look so happy in her kindergarten hand!) and into the freezer it goes. The next time I want to make pie I move them into the fridge the night before or set them on the counter for a little while and all I have to worry about is the filling. Plus, a pie of ready to go pie crusts in my freezer makes me feel all put together, and doesn't take any more time. Dorie says one month in the freezer but I've kept mine, properly wrapped, for a few months with no problem. 

One last pie tip- Dorie suggests crushing up a graham cracker or two into the bottom of the crust before adding the filling to help absorb some of the extra liquid. Even with juicy strawberries my pie came out just right (and the graham crumbs totally disappear so you have no idea it was there!)

Strawberry Pie

1 double pie crust (easy dairy free crust here, or butter crust recipe below. Use whatever crust you prefer!)

3 pounds fresh strawberries, quartered
1 apple, grated (I used a gala, any kind should work)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Ultragel or 2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash of kosher salt

2 graham crackers

Preheat the oven to 425. 

Combine filling ingredients in a large bowl. Line pie pan with one crust. Crumble up graham crackers and sprinkle into the pie crust. Pour in and smooth filling. Top with additional crust (whole or lattice, whatever you prefer. Either way make sure there's holes to vent the pie). Crimp the edges as desired. Brush with a beaten egg or milk and decorate as desired- with additional pie crust shapes cut with cookie cutters, sprinkled with sugar or sanding sugar, etc.

Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake for 45-60 more minutes. Watch the crust and add a foil tent if it starts to brown too much (usually about half way through). Let cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
3/8 cup very cold (frozen is even better) Crisco (plain, not butter flavored), cut into 4 pieces
About 1/2 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing—what you're aiming for is to have pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley.

Pulsing the machine on and off, add 3 tablespoons of the water—add a little water and pulse once; add some more water and pulse again; and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. If you've got big pieces of butter, that's fine. The dough is ready and should be scraped out of the work bowl and on to a smooth work surface. (be careful not too add too much water- if the dough looks dry after adding most of the water, pinch it with your hands to check if it's coming together, and finish combining it by hand)

Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough at least 1 hour before rolling. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.