Monday, February 15, 2021

Toffee Oat Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Recipe for Toffee Oat Cookie Dough Ice Cream by
I don't know about you, but my favorite ice cream since childhood has been cookie dough. While normally a cookie dough ice cream will be your basic sweet cream or vanilla ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough as the dough, who says that chocolate chip cookie dough has to be the cookie dough of choice? No one! That's just what's expected. So, after making some delicious Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies recently, I was like wait a minute. This dough is awesome, why not use it as the cookie dough in a homemade ice cream?!
Recipe for Toffee Oat Cookie Dough Ice Cream by
So, here's the truth about this particular cookie dough -- it's very time consuming to make. You've got to make a pecan brittle, and then blitz part of it in with some of the flour, and then also brown some butter. But the result is so good! If you're ever planning on making the cookies, definitely save some of the dough to mix in to a homemade ice cream. You won't regret it. That being said, you can totally swap in any cookie dough here. The ice cream is just a sweet cream base without any special specific flavorings, so it's extremely versatile.
Recipe for Toffee Oat Cookie Dough Ice Cream by
I just used Salt and Straw's Ice Cream Base in this particular combination, mostly because I didn't want to use up a bunch of egg yolks, and their recipe uses xanthan gum to thicken the ice cream and hold it all together instead of said egg yolks. But say you have some cookie dough and you'd rather use a custard-based ice cream as the base. That's totally fine! As I said, this recipe is very versatile, you can swap the ice cream or the dough and you'll probably still end up with a result that you love. 

What's nice about this ice cream is that it is a bit lighter, almost like what you'd find in an ice cream sandwich, and it works quite well with the toffee oat cookie dough. Honestly, I could probably eat the whole container in one go, but let's not get crazy here.

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A take on homemade cookie dough ice cream, highly customizable to your own cookie dough preferences.

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup Oat and Pecan Brittle cookie dough
  1. Combine the sugar, dry milk, and xanthan gum in a small bowl and stir well.
  2. Pour the corn syrup into a medium pot and stir in the whole milk. Add the sugar mixture and immediately whisk vigorously until smooth. Set the pot over medium heat and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent a simmer, until the sugar has fully dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.
  3. Add the cream and whisk until fully combined. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours, or for even better texture and flavor, 24 hours. Stir the base back together if it separates during the resting time. The base can be further stored in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freeze for up to 3 months. (Just be sure to fully thaw the frozen base before using it.)
  4. Once chilled, churn according to your ice cream maker's specifications. Place your storage container in the freezer while the base churns. Break up your cup of cookie dough into pieces about 1/2 inch big. Once the ice cream is ready, transfer the it to your storage container, and gently fold in your prepared cookie dough with a rubber spatula.
Ice Cream recipe from Salt and Straw Ice Cream Cookbook by Tyler Malek and JJ Goode
Cookie Dough recipe from Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz
Recipe for Toffee Oat Cookie Dough Ice Cream by

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies

Claire Saffitz's Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies, by
Are you a Dessert Person? If so, then you've come to the right place, because today's recipe is straight out of Claire Saffitz's cookbook called, fittingly, Dessert Person. If you're like wait, that name sounds familiar, where do I know that from -- Claire used to work for Bon Appetit, and hosted several YouTube series for them. Now, she's got her own series, where she makes recipes from her cookbook. One of the first episodes she did was actually for these cookies. And I can report that, after having made them twice now -- these cookies are legit.
Claire Saffitz's Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies, by cookies are chewy, sweet, with a bit of crunch from the pecan brittle that's not only in the flour mixture, but also in bits throughout the cookies as well. They are definitely a labor of love -- these aren't cookies you can just decide you want to make and be eating in 30 minutes. Indeed, if you want to make these cookies the best they can be, then you're going to have to let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 12 hours. Again, labor of love, but honestly? Worth it.

Also? They have brown butter, and if you know me, you know I love brown butter. What's not to love? Any time I brown some butter, and that lovely, nutty aroma starts wafting up, it's amazing. Claire has said she struggles not to put brown butter in every recipe and, girl, I totally get it. It almost always makes things better. 
Claire Saffitz's Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies, by
One thing I do want to mention is that you should not overcook these. If the very center of your cookies look a little underdone, but the edges are nice and brown after the first amount of baking time, take 'em out. The centers will continue cooking on the pan for the five more minutes you leave them on there, and if you overcooked them at all, they will turn out much crunchier in the end. Of course, if you prefer a crunchier cookie, then more power to you, go ahead, but I personally love it when you get a nice, soft center.

Another tip -- if you don't want to bake all of these cookies are once, then you can totally freeze the portioned dough to bake up some fresh cookies on another night when you're having a craving. Same oven temperature, close to the same amount of time. Frozen portioned cookie dough is something your future self with be grateful for, and I highly recommend it.

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Amazing sweet, salty, chewy, crunchy, delicious toffee-y oat and pecan cookies worth the effort.

    For the Brittle
  • 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans (5 oz / 142g)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (5.3 oz / 150g)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 oz / 57g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand)
  • For the Cookies
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (8 oz / 227g), cut into tablespoons
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (6.1 oz / 173g)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (0.22 oz / 6g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (0.21 oz / 6g)
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (7 oz / 200g)
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (5.3 oz / 150g)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3.5 oz / 100g)
  • 2 large eggs (3.5 oz / 100g), cold from the fridge
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    For the Brittle:
  1. Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350F. Scatter the pecans on a small rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing halfway through, until they're golden and nutty smelling, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside to allow the pecans to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside (I only have one small baking sheet, so I just put the pecans from above into a bowl and then used the same one). In a small saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, butter, and 2 tablespoons of water (1 oz / 28g) and cook over medium-low heat, stirring gently with a heatproof spatula to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat to medium and bring the syrup to a rapid simmer. Cook without stirring, swirling the pan often, until the syrup turns a deep amber color, 8 to 10 minutes. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the pecans. Once the pecans are well coated, add the baking soda and salt and stir quickly to incorporate -- the mixture will rapidly foam and sputter as the baking soda aerates the caramel. Quickly scrape the brittle out onto the prepared baking sheet, and spread into a thin layer, os possible, before it starts to harden (which happens very quickly). Set the baking sheet aside until the brittle is completely cooked, 5 to 10 minutes. Chop the brittle into pea-sized bits and set aside.
  3. For the Cookies:
  4. Measure out 4 ounces (113g) of the butter, place in the bowl of a stand mixer, and set aside. Place the other 4 ounces (113g) butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the butter comes to a boil. Continue to cook, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the butter sputters, foams, and eventually you see browned bits floating about, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the browned butter to the stand mixer bowl, making sure you scrape in all the browned bits. Set the bowl aside to cool until the butter begins to resolidify, about 30 minutes.
  5. In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, and baking soda, then add half of the pecan brittle bits, and 1 cup (3.5 oz, 100g) of the oats. Blitz the mixture in long pulses until the oats and brittle are broken down and finely ground. Set side.
  6. Set the bowl of cooled butter on the mixer and attach the paddle. Add the dark brown and granulated sugars and beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and smooth but not fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla, and continue to beat until you have a very light and satiny mixture, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour/oat/brittle mixture and beat on low until no dry spots remain and you have a soft, evenly mixed dough. Add the remaining pecan brittle bits and 1 cup (3.5 oz / 100g) oats and mix on low again just until dispersed. Fold the batter several times with a flexible spatula to ensure everything is evenly mixed.
  7. Using a 2-ounce scoop or 1/4 cup measure, scoop level portions of dough and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet as close together as possible (you'll space them out before baking). Cover the dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 12 hours and up to 48. (If you're pressed for time, a couple of hours in the fridge will do. Just note the baked cookies won't be as chewy).
  8. When you're ready to bake, arrange two oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350F. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, or silicon sheets.
  9. Place 6 pieces of chilled cookie dough on each of the prepared baking sheets, spacing so they're at least 3 inches apart. Bake the cookies on the upper and lower racks until they are dark golden brown around the edges, 16 to 20 minutes, switching racks and rotating the sheets front to back after 12 minutes. Allow the cookies to rest for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
  10. Carefully move one of the oven racks to the center position, place the remaining dough on one of the baking sheets (it's okay if it's still warm), and bake on the center rack (this last sheet might bake a bit faster than the first two).
Recipe from Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz
Claire Saffitz's Oat and Pecan Brittle Cookies, by

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Book Review: The Searcher by Tana French

Book Review: Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth
The Searcher by Tana French

Published: October 6, 2020

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 451

Synopsis: Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he's bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever.

Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch.

Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door.

Thoughts: I have read quite a few of Tana French's books, and in the past they have usually been based around the Dublin Murder Squad, though for her last two she has branched out to other areas. In this book, the main character, rather than being Irish, is actually an American retired policeman who has moved to a remote part of Ireland to start a new life following his divorce from his long-time wife. In the beginning, I was wondering if the book was actually meant to be a mystery at all, as I had just assumed it was based on reading French's previous novels. 

It is. It just takes a while to get to the actual mystery part of the story. As is often the case with French's mysteries, things are not so cut and dry once reveals start coming together about what really happened. As is often the case with quiet towns, things are not always what they seem. I didn't guess exactly what happened, but I started having certain suspicions, and those, at least, were confirmed by the ending. 

Cal is an engaging main character who is no-nonsense and would rather stick to his own business, thankyouverymuch. It's sort of your fairly typical, I'm retired, I'm not doing that again, except for this one last thing sort of story. And that's in large part to a young local kid named Trey whose family has always been cast aside as the "bad folk" of town not worth investing your time in. Once Trey comes into the picture, which is pretty quickly, I became much more invested in the story. It's not just about the mystery that Trey asks for help with, but also the relationship that develops between Cal and Trey. 

Overall, if you like more of a slow burn mystery, then this book is certainly worth picking up. If you need something fast-paced to grab you immediately, then you might want to stick to French's Dublin Murder Squad books.

Rating: 3.5/5

Buy on Amazon 

What I'm Reading Next: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Recipe for Chewy Chocolate Cookies by
From the pictures alone, you may not think these cookies look like much. Just a generic chocolate cookie with some chocolate chunks, what's to write home about here? Well, quite frankly, a lot! These cookies were an unexpected amazement when I was baking up some holiday cookie packages to send to my grandparents. I'm not always the hugest chocolate fan, particularly when it's chocolate on top of chocolate (I mean, give me a chocolate chip cookie any day, but I'd always choose that over a chocolate chocolate chip cookie, if you know what I mean). 
Recipe for Chewy Chocolate Cookies by
So what makes these so good? They are so soft! They don't appear soft from the outside or when you're just giving them a gander in these pictures. In fact, you might think they look dry or something. But they are NOT. They stayed delightfully chewy and soft on the inside for over a week in an airtight container! That's some lasting power, especially when a lot of cookies will start to be dry and blegh after just a couple days.
Recipe for Chewy Chocolate Cookies by
Now, in the original recipe they're going to tell you that you need a lot of fancy chocolate to make these cookies shine. I'm here to tell you that they're good even without going super fancy. Dutch processed cocoa powder? I used Trader Joe's. Callebaut Intense Dark L-60-40NV baking chocolate? Try some Guittard bittersweet chocolate picked up at your local grocery. I also did not want to buy dark corn syrup just for this recipe, so I used light corn syrup instead and - still delicious! The point is, while those extra fancy ingredients may make them taste better, they're still awesome without them.

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Soft and oh-so-chocolatey cookies that last for days.

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (about 2.5 ounces), plus 1/2 cup for coating
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (7.5 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (2.5 ounces)
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a shallow baking dish or pie plate. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Whisk corn syrup, egg white, and vanilla together in a small bowl.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, add corn syrup mixture, and beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bowl once with a rubber spatula. With mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture and chopped chocolate; mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl once. Give the dough a final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at the bottom. Chill dough 30 minutes to firm slightly (do not chill longer than 30 minutes).
  3. Divide dough into 16 equal portions; roll between hands into balls about 1½ inches in diameter. Working in batches, drop 8 dough balls into baking dish with sugar and toss to coat. Set dough balls on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking, until cookies are puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), 10 to 11 minutes. Do not over-bake.
  5. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack; cool cookies to room temperature. Repeat with second batch of cookies.
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated
Recipe for Chewy Chocolate Cookies by

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons Ice Cream

Recipe for Salt & Straw's Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons Ice Cream, by
Did you know that I love ice cream? So why haven't I made any homemade ice cream on here since, oh, 2013? I'll tell you exactly why - using the Kitchenaid Ice Cream Maker Attachment is super annoying when you have what seems to be an extremely tiny freezer. Honestly, the fridge in my apartment is nice and all, but it is constantly running out of space, and that freezer is no exception. And the Kitchenaid attachment is, shall we just say, LARGE. Like, huge. So not only finding the space, but also remembering to put it in there at least 24 hours ahead of time is nigh impossible.
Recipe for Salt & Straw's Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons Ice Cream, by
Enter: this Christmas and the gift of a fancy ice cream maker that requires no pre-freezing of a bowl. What's this magic? An ice cream maker made in Italy that has a built-in compressor that allows you to make ice cream pretty much on the fly: the Lello 4080 Musso Lussino. She's a hefty beast that certainly takes up space either on a counter or in a cupboard (lift with those LEGS!), but after making one batch of ice cream so far I can report that it makes the smoothest ice cream I've ever had in a homemade ice cream, and that's even after freezing it fully in the freezer.
Recipe for Salt & Straw's Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons Ice Cream, by
Indeed, while in the past the ice creams I have made have tasted better when they first come out of the maker and are more of a soft serve situation, this ice cream was actually better after fully freezing. Part of that has to do with the consistency of the caramel when you put it together, because it gets hard while the ice cream is quickly melting directly out of the maker, so it's an odd combo. But once fully frozen? So much better! This recipe is from the Salt and Straw Ice Cream Cookbook - Salt & Straw holds a place in my heart because it started in my hometown of Portland, Oregon. I also have one of their ice cream scoops, so I had to give it the inaugural whirl in the new machine.
Recipe for Salt & Straw's Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons Ice Cream, by
Salt & Straw takes a different approach than your typical ice cream. Rather than using eggs and making something of a custard, they use xanthan gum as the binder. It's not as rich as an ice cream with eggs in it (and maybe slightly healthier?), but it's still very creamy. My next recipe will be something a little more typical in its ice cream construction, so it will be interesting to taste the difference. Until then, if you want a little sweet cream/caramel ice cream situation in your life, check out the recipe below...

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A slightly salty, sweet cream ice cream with a swirl of deeply flavored caramel ribbons.

    Ice Cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
  • Caramel
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Combine the sugar, dry milk, and xanthan gum in a small bowl and stir well.
  2. Pour the corn syrup into a medium pot and stir in the whole milk. Add the sugar mixture and immediately whisk vigorously until smooth. Set the pot over medium heat and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent a simmer, until the sugar has fully dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from heat.
  3. Add the cream and whisk until fully combined. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours, or up to 24 hours for deeper flavor. Stir the base back together if it separates during the resting time.
  4. Meanwhile, make the caramel. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan, and stir until all of the sugar looks wet. Cover, set the pan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely melted, about 3 minutes.
  5. Continue to cook, covered but this time without stirring, until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking, without stirring but paying close attention, until the mixture turns the color of dark maple syrup, about 5 minutes more.
  6. Take the pan off the heat and immediately and gradually pour in the heavy cream, going slowly at first and then speeding up to a nice steady stream, whisking as you pour.
  7. Put the pan over medium-high heat again. Let the mixture simmer away, stirring occasionally, until it register 230F on an instant read or candy thermometer, about 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the butter and salt, stirring slowly but constantly until the butter has completely melted.
  8. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, then use it right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to two weeks. If it separates, just give it a stir before use. You're only using 1/2 cup in the ice cream, so you'll definitely have some left over.
  9. Once your base has cooled and you're about ready, combine 1/4 cup water and the fleur de sel salt in a small saucepan, set it over medium heat, and cook, stirring, just until the salt has completely dissolved, less than 1 minute. Let it cool to room temperature.
  10. Put the ice cream base and the salt mixture into a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and turn on the machine. Churn until the mixture has the texture of soft-serve. Time will vary depending on the machine, anywhere from 20-30 minutes.
  11. Put the caramel in a warm place or warm it in a small saucepan over very low heat just until it's drizzleable, but not so warm that it'll melt the ice cream.
  12. Quickly alternate spooning layers of the ice cream and drizzling on a generous spiral of caramel in freezer-friendly containers.
  13. Cover with parchment paper, pressing it into the surface of the ice cream so it adheres, then cover with a lid (you should make your final layer ice cream as the caramel will stick to the parchment paper). Your parchment can hang over the rim, that's fine. Store it in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 6 hours. It will keep for up to 3 months.
Recipe from Salt & Straw Ice Cream Cookbook
Recipe for Salt & Straw's Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons Ice Cream, by