Showing posts with label Barefoot Contessa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barefoot Contessa. Show all posts

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies With Cranberries and Salty Tops #mysteries #cookies @AbbottMysteries

By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini

Our story begins on a bleak January day with a storm swirling. There was not much chance to venture out to the store, even once the plow came. So very many stories start out that way, but this tale stars heroic and delicious cookies and so you readers may anticipate a happy ending. 

I love and I mean LOVE The Barefoot Contessa’s cookbooks and own most of them. As a rule, I don’t make changes to them.  Ina Garten gives us tasty and beautifully presented recipes that are not impossible to do.  I had been planning to make these very fabulous Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies from her Make It Ahead cookbook, to take to lunch at our cousins’ new home the next day.  But we hardy Canucks had been advised to stay off the roads because of the storm (many accidents!) and I didn’t have Fleur de sel or bittersweet chocolate. 

So I had no choice but to make a few changes to the recipe or go without cookies the next morning.  You know, by this point I had my heart set on them.  With a bit of improvising, we were all very happy with the results.  Under the circumstances, we think the Contessa would forgive us!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies With Cranberries and Salty Tops

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1¾ cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups old-fashioned oats (NOT INSTANT)
¾ pound (12 ounces)  semi-sweet chocolate.  We used Baker’s because that’s what we had.
5/8 cup dried cranberries (We love dried cranberries, so added a bit to the original)
Pink Himalayan salt or other special sea salt 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 4 sheet pans with parchment paper. Or two and then freeze or wait to bake the rest.  We only have three pans, so used two at a time.  

Chop the chocolate into nice chunks.

Beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. 

Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl again. 

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Mix in the oats. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture (low speed on mixer or by hand) Don’t over beat it! Stir in the chopped chocolate and cranberries until the dough is well mixed. 

With a 1¾-inch ice cream scoop (or two spoons), scoop round balls of dough onto the prepared sheet pans. 

 Keep them well apart as the cookies spread when baking. (SEE OUTTAKES BELOW!) Our second batch was spaced further apart than the ones shown here. Sprinkle lightly with the Himalayan or sea salt.  For those of you who can't have much or any extra salt, take heart. These are great cookies without the extra salt too.

 Bake for 13 minutes, until nicely browned.  You may have to experiment with timing. Our oven seemed to take longer and one batch took fourteen minutes. The original recipe said twelve. 

We took Ina’s advice and kept some of the ‘balls’ in the fridge, in well-sealed plastic bags. We waited a couple of days before we baked them.  We froze a few of the baked ones and they ‘performed’ very well after freezing. According to the recipe you can freeze them baked or unbaked. They do smell great baking, so next time we’ll freeze some of the balls. 
All in all, a tasty success!  Here our adorable cousin, Gabi, is taste-testing the results, in a suitably dramatic way.  Like all of us, she was bundled up against the cold.  Brrr! But the cookies helped.

Hope you can also enjoy these special treats on a blustery winter afternoon.  Or any time really.  This afternoon, I'm enjoying mine with a nice cup of hot tea.

Speaking of treats, we're thrilled to see the new cover for our forthcoming fifth book collector mystery, THE HAMMETT HEX!  We'll let you know as soon as it's available for pre-order!


We love the outtakes on movies: so here is an outtake from our first batch of cookies, the ones that were too close together.  They tasted great but would never win a beauty contest.

Have a happy reading January, everyone!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Antipasto Platter

WE HAVE ANOTHER WINNER and, yet again, I’m not the one who gets to announce. Boo-hoo. Keep taking a peek each day to hear who it is. Yep, it could be you!

Taking a lead from The Barefoot Contessa (SHOUT OUT TO INA),I thought I’d share one of my favorite ways to treat guests to appetizers. An antipasto platter. This even makes a fabulously easy dinner for my husband and myself.

What’s so wonderful is that you don’t have to prepare everything yourself. So many stores have these items all ready to go. Preparing an appetizingly scrumptious antipasto platter is all in the display. Serve with a zesty French bread or your favorite crackers and, voilá!

Hint: Make sure you go to the store with a list.


Basil leaves
Fresh buffalo mozzarella (small bite-sized balls)
Marinated red peppers
Pepper crusted salami
Olives (multi-colored and multi-sized for variety)
Artichoke hearts (from a can, in water)
Asparagus spears (cooked to a crisp tender and cooled)
Baby Tomatoes (I used yellow and red)
Olive Oil
Fresh figs [reserved for last]

Using a big platter, lay out the vegetables, cheese and meats in sections, the meats to the outside. Clump the veggies together, reds next to greens, etc. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika for color. Garnish with basil [which tastes terrific wrapped around the mozzarella and tomatoes.]

Lastly, layer the figs on the top. If figs aren’t in season, try pretty dried fruit like apricots. Either of these, wrapped in prosciutto, are a delicious bite!

For those with an adventurous spirit, you might add spicy pepperoncinis to the mix! They are also known as Tuscan peppers, sweet Italian peppers and gold Greek pepper.

Note: Buffalo mozzarella is made from the milk of domestic water buffalo. Apart from Italy, its birthplace, it is manufactured in many places including Southern California, Vermont, Australia and more!
Enjoy! And remember to "Say Cheese!" You can change the world, one smile at a time. And check out The Cheese Shop Mysteries, coming in 2010!


Also, before you leave us to visit another site, enter to win our weekly Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest. The prize is a $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma kitchenware and gourmet food store. Just sign in to this blog and leave a comment or send an "Enter me!" e-mail with your first name and state to We announce the winners right here every Sunday. Best to all!