Monday, March 7, 2011

Reader Appreciation Day!

I love our readers! They're the nicest people. Please pat yourselves on the back!

Lynn was kind enough to send me these pictures of cookies she made with the cookie cutters I sent her. Her daughter had a birthday and a Super Bowl party, so Lynn used the football cookie cutter, as well as the birthday cupcake cookie cutter.

I am so impressed! Don't you love the perfect lacing on the footballs and the candles on the cupcakes? I bet everyone enjoyed them, Lynn!

Helena Georgette, who won cookie cutters for her Raggedy Anne Cookie recipe sent me this beautiful crocheted snowflake. It has a special place on my kitchen wall and reminds me of Helena Georgette every day. She also sent some favorite recipes. I've advised her to hold onto one for our Christmas Recipe Contest this year. It might become a Christmas tradition at my house!

And in case you missed it, Dru posted these photos on Facebook. She made Misa Ramirez's Spanish Rice with the Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Legs. To quote Dru, "They were GOOD!"

It's such a joy to know that people like Dru, and Helena Georgette, and Lynn are here with us sharing the good times. Thanks to all of you who make Mystery Lover's Kitchen such a warm and lovely place to visit each day.

And now, can you stand another cookie recipe?

I have come to the conclusion that I am the cookie monster. Years ago, when I lived in New York City, every errand, every movie, even just our paths home from work, took my roommates and me by a David's Cookies. I think we paid the rent for the David's Cookies in the Citicorp building.

That was a long time ago, but things haven't changed. After baking all those wonderful cookies in the Christmas contest, wouldn't you think I would be burned out on cookies? But nooooo! My mother dropped some major hints that it was time for more cookies, so I'll blame it on her. Although I have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, this time around I tried Bobby Flay's recipe, which is posted at Food Network.

When I read his recipe, I couldn't help musing about the number of variations on a simple chocolate chip cookie. Would Berkley let me do a series called the Chocolate Chip Cookie Mysteries? Seriously, eggs and vanilla extract seem to be the only unwavering ingredients. We could use whole wheat or gluten-free flour, not to mention a variety of brands of chocolate chips or chocolate chunks.

Then there's sugar. White sugar, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, or in the case of Bobby Flay's recipe, muscavado sugar. I had to look it up. The Gourmet Sleuth says it is "partially refined brown sugar with sticky crystals."

Let's not forget the very controversial subject of butter vs. vegetable shortening. There are those who believe a chewy cookie must contain vegetable shortening or a combination of vegetable shortening and butter. And there are those who think butter is the only way to go in any cookie.

You think I'm through with the ingredient dilemmas don't you? Not quite. There's baking soda vs. baking powder or a combination thereof.

Like eggs and vanilla, I thought salt couldn't possibly be a variant, unless it was to leave it out altogether, but Bobby Flay has even made salt an issue by using Kosher salt!

We're talking about the most simple sort of cookie and look how many possible variations there are. Unbelievable.

I followed Bobby's recipe precisely, except for the muscavado sugar. I used plain light and dark brown sugars instead. I did use Callebaut chocolate, which I recommend very highly, but I happened to have their chocolate chips on hand, so I used 10 ounces of chocolate chips instead of chunks.

If you want to see Bobby's instructions, click on the link below. I have shortened them a bit.

  • 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup dark brown muscavado sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown muscavado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 (5-ounce) block semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks (recommended: Callebaut)
  • 1 (5-ounce) block milk chocolate, chopped into chunks (recommended: Callebaut)

Preheat the oven to 375. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl.

Beat the butter for one minute. Add the sugars and beat. Add the eggs and beat. Add half of the flour and mix. Add the remaining flour and mix. Stir in chocolate chips/chunks.

Drop the dough onto the baking sheet by the spoonful and bake 11 minutes. They should be slightly crispy on the edge but soft in the middle.

If you don't want to bake all the cookies, the dough freezes very nicely in a log.

The results? This may be my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. The cookies came out looking flatter than the recipe I normally use, so I had my doubts, but the texture was great.

They were soft and chewy in spite of the fact that they don't contain any vegetable shortening. A lot of chewy chocolate chip cookies are hard as rocks the second day, but that wasn't the case with Bobby Flay's cookies. I refrigerated them overnight and they were every bit as delicious the next day and even five days later.

I was skeptical about that Kosher salt, but it's wonderful. You can taste just the tiniest hint of salt, giving the cookie a more complex flavor without overpowering it. Good call, Bobby!


  1. Great tribute to our readers, Krista! And well-deserved!

    I think Berkley should *absolutely* let you write the Chocolate Chip mystery series. :)

    I'm glad you defined muscavado sugar for me because I hadn't heard of it! I love chewy cookies and this looks like the recipe I need to try. Thanks!

  2. I'm glad this blog is here because it was fun making the chicken and rice and then enjoying it as a meal.

    Thanks all for sharing your recipes. I'm always on the lookout for the next one I'll prepare.

  3. We do have wonderful readers at MLK! They make it fun. Speaking of fun, oh boy! I love chocolate chip cookies. I will go on the hunt for the two brown sugars - not easily found here in the frozen north, but obviously worth seeking. Thanks, Krista.

  4. Elizabeth, I bet your children would love it if you tried this recipe!

    Dru, it's such fun to see pictures of the dishes you made. I hope you'll share more!

    MJ, I feel for you being in the frozen north. We got a brief shot of snow yesterday afternoon, but we laughed at it -- after all, the daffodils and forsythia are about to bloom here.

    ~ Krista

  5. Krista, love this post. I have appreciated our readers so much. Who knew how many people loved reading about recipes and murder! What fun for all. Mental puzzles as well as kitchen challenges.

    Love the Bobby Flay recipe with the hint of salt. That's exactly what made my Valentine post about cheese and chocolate work. The hint of saltiness in cheese pairs perfectly with chocolate!


  6. I've made a couple of batches of chocolate chip cookies recently. I think it's a late-winter thing.

    I don't have one particular type that I prefer - I love them all - chips, chunks, a combination. Butter, margarine, shortening - a combination. Etc., etc. :)

    Sometimes a crisp chocolate chip cookie is just right, sometimes a chewy one is. I love the varieties of the "same" cookie!

    I can't wait for your new book, Krista. I missed Nina in the last one. I would love some Sophie/Nina/Natasha hi-jinks and sleuthing - you do such a good job of bringing them to life and making them likable.

  7. Avery,I'm seeing cheesy chocolate chip cookies in your future!

    Christi, thank you so much for giving me another excuse for indulging in cookies -- the late-winter thing! : )

    Nina will be back in the next book. I had no idea she was so popular! She plays a bigger role again in the book that will be out next spring (2012). Sophie needs her help in a big way in that book!

    ~ Krista

  8. Our readers are the best - wonderful tribute, K. And I can't help but agree with you and Christi - you can never have enough chocolate chip cookie recipes. It's foodie fun trying all the special combos.

    Have a delicious week!
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  9. Cleo, I think you're right -- it's foodie fun!

    ~ Krista

  10. Wonderful pictures, Lynn! It's so great to know she's enjoying her prize.

    And I did catch Dru's photos on FB, but it's great to see them here again with her thumbs-up review.

    We love our readers! I'm so happy you posted this, Krista!

    And I confess to being addicted to cookies, too. I was reading through the recipe thinking, hmm... I could make up a batch as long as I use regular plain Jane brown sugar. But I'm trying hard to hold back!

    Wonderful post, Krista!

  11. Don't hold back, Julie! The cookies are great.

    ~ Krista

  12. Krista, the thing that stood out to me the most...that you had cookies left after 5 days!!!!!! Here at Chez Phillipe it is very rare to have even one cookie left over night ;-)
    I recently began adding the skosh of kosher salt to my oatmeal raisin cookies and it is a fabulous addition!
    As I am not a chocolate fan ( I know I know...weird-o!) I may try this with butterscotch chips!

    Thanks to all of you authors for giving us readers a chance to get to know you better and to cook along side of you!