Sunday Baking

Chocolate & Zuchinni

One of my ongoing goals this year is to cut as many processed foods out of my diet as I can. I'm looking into ways to consistently make my own bread (I've done some work with a bread machine and a friend lent me a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which I hope to try as soon as I have some room in the fridge to try it.) and I've been figuring out ways to make my favorite microwave and takeout foods from scratch (check back in about a week for my chicken pot pie recipe!). Come farmer's market season I'd like to look into some preserving.

Flour and eggs

Along these same lines, I've had a recurring thought about only eating sweets that I've made myself. Now I have the second-biggest sweet tooth I know and what with my schedule, I though that to only eat home-made sweets meant pretty much giving them up. I'm sure doctors and dentists would think that's plenty fine, but I like a good cookie, or piece of cake, brownie or slice of pie... you get the idea.

In any case, I'm thinking it's much more feasible than I originally thought. 

Rows of Cookies

I'm currently working full-time and rehearsing a play about 4 nights and one weekend day a week. I'm pretty busy. But for the past month I've found the time to bake every Sunday. 

I don't own a mixer (I find mixing by hand both bicep-building and relaxing) and my kitchen is ill-designed for any kind of food-making, but I'm getting the job done. And I love putting on an apron from my collection and baking.

Sugar- Crusted Orange Cake

A few weeks back it started with "le gateau piege" from Chocolate and Zucchini, a Cleaver house-hold favorite.

Chocolate & Zuchinni Cake

Then it was the titular Chocolate & Zucchini cake from the C&Z cookbook, which was dense and moist.

Honey Spice Bread

Having good luck with Clotilde, I made the Honey-Spice Loaf from the same cookbook. We like it warm with butter.

Around Wednesday this week I asked Mr. Cleaver what he wanted. He didn't have any suggestion, so I decided to troll the recipe index on my other favorite food site, Smitten Kitchen, where I came across these:

Homemade Oreos

Homemade oreos!

These are just like the ones in the store, but way better, especially slightly warm. As noted in the recipe, I used the lesser amount of sugar in the cookies, and if Mr. Cleaver had his way, I wouldn't have frosted any. As it was I only needed half the frosting called for, but I highly recommend them. And some soothing Sunday afternoon baking.

Do you have a favorite baking recipe? Send along recipes and links and I'll be happy to give them a go!

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There is a Pound of Chocolate in These Cookies

Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Remember when I used to regularly post recipes on this site? Well it's been a while. Not that I haven't been cooking or baking, I've just been doing a lot of old standards or not photographing. I also like to put original or family recipes, but this one was too good to pass up.

After seeing these cookies on smitten kitchen last week I just had to make them and man are they good - if the pound of chocolate alone doesn't convince you perhaps I can. These are deep and rich and complex  - so much so that I, a cookie fiend, can only handle about a cookie and a half at a time. They go brilliantly with a glass of ice cold milk. It is a little hard to find the toffee bars, but it is so worth it. 

Chocolate Toffee Cookies from smitten kitchenAdapted from Bon Appetit

Makes around 30-36 cookies

1/2 cup all purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped (if you use good-quality chocolate chips, it saves a little work - as usual my favorite is Ghiradelli) 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 1 3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar 4 large eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 5 1.4-ounce chocolate-covered English toffee bars (such as Heath or Skor), coarsely chopped 1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped* Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional)*

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; whisk to blend. Stir chocolate and butter in a metal bowl set over simmering water or doubled-boiler until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool mixture to lukewarm.

Beat sugar and eggs in bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla.

Stir in flour mixture, then toffee and nuts. Chill batter until firm, about 45 minutes. Roll the dough into a log 1.5 inches in diameter and chill it.  When ready to bake the cookies, cut it into 1/2-inch slices. You can store the dough log in the freezer, wrapped in waxed paper and then two layers of plastic wrap for up to a month, just baking the cookies off as you need. Cookies baked straight from the freezer may need an additional minute or two in the oven, depending on their thickness.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. This is a must - otherwise they will stick like crazy!!

Place sliced cookies on the lined sheet spacing tehm two inches apart. Sprinkle with the salt, if you’re using it. Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

* I didn't bother with toasting the walnuts or the salt, but it may make the cookies even better, so give it a good if you'd like.

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