Well here I go, my first post. This past fall I was in a bit of a funk, kind of had the blah’s, so I spent some time praying and thinking about what I was passionate about, several days later I was browsing several food blogs that I enjoy; and it dawned on me, I get energized by cooking, baking, and hosting people in our home! The idea to start a food and hospitality blog began to take shape. I am honored and humbled that you, family and friends have chosen to view my site.
My hope for this blog is to encourage others to try something new, remove fears about adapting a recipe to your own likes, try a new recipe (or 10) and most importantly to invite others into your home. I recently read an article that there is a BIG difference between entertaining and hospitality, and I couldn’t agree more! Here is a quote from the author who does a beautiful job summing up the differences:
“Author Jen Wilkin, offers clarity between the eerily similar but vastly different practices: * Entertaining is always thinking about the next course. Hospitality burns the rolls because it was listening to a story. * Entertaining obsesses over what went wrong. Hospitality savors what was shared. * Entertaining, exhausted, says, “It was nothing, really!” Hospitality thinks it was nothing. Really. * Entertaining seeks to impress. Hospitality seeks to bless.”
I am guilty of entertaining at times, but have been leaning more and more into hospitality in the last 10+ years. Not driving my family into a frenzied craze as I try and clean every room and nook and cranny, instead trying to be real more often than not, I’ve learned people don’t really “see” the mess, they see the fact that you invited them over, made them feel comfortable, listened and laughed and maybe even cried with them. So my hope is to encourage you in the wonderful art of hospitality, something truly beautiful happens between people when we invite them into our homes and hearts, mess and all.
If you want to read more about why I started The Fresh Cooky, check out my About page.
Lastly, if after viewing The Fresh Cooky (and you enjoyed it), if I could be so bold as to ask you to share it with others that might be interested and encouraged by what I’ve shared here, I would be humbled and so very grateful. In fact, if you like what you see you can subscribe to my weekly email, Fresh Fridays located at the bottom of this page. I promise not to fill your inbox with unwanted email.
So let’s get going and get this baby launched!
I must begin with my family’s very favorite cookie that I make almost weekly…truly!
The Best Chewy, Chocolaty, Chocolate Chip Cookies with Altitude*
Yes, you read that right…altitude, though they probably have a little attitude as well! Living in the Mile High City baking can be a bit of a challenge at times. I’ve made it one of my goals to achieve the chewiest, most chocolaty, chocolate chip cookies since I moved to Colorado. I have tried all sorts of recipes, some have been good, some have flopped, but honestly the best recipe in my opinion is right on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chips package. In the fine print under the regular recipe are instructions for a high altitude variation and theirs has inspired my recipe with a few tweaks. If you are like me, you’ll have to get a magnifying glass to read it.
*If you don’t live at altitude just use the regular ingredient amounts listed on the recipe, and follow the instructions below.
I love that the high altitude recipe uses less sugar and I’ve tweaked the process to work best for my family’s taste. They are, in my so very humble opinion, the best!
I’m a bit of a cookie snob, okay, a humongous snob; I love warm, fresh from the oven, just slightly cooled cookies | day old cookies do not float my boat, just saying…here’s a picture of the magical ingredients.
Plop the room temp butter* into your mixer and cream the heck out of it, whirl it around until it’s nice and creamy. *Forgot to take out your butter? You may have to try this a few times to get the best results from your microwave, but I’ve found that 10-11 seconds softens is perfectly. Just don’t melt it! So start at 8-9 seconds and slowly find the best time for your microwave. You should be able to push your finger into the butter with gentle pressure to make a small indent.
Now pack your light brown sugar and plop it in the mixer, along with your granulated sugar (I use organic, raw sugar, so creaming it takes a bit longer). Cream the sugars and butter together, at least 2 minutes; you want it really fluffy and light.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add your eggs one at a time with mixer on medium-high, mixing each egg for a full minute. Scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
While your eggs are whipping, measure your flour, soda and salt into a bowl and use a whisk to gently mix the ingredients together.
Now add your vanilla. I eyeball mine, but feel free to use a teaspoon. A little extra vanilla never hurt my recipes!
Add your flour with the mixer on the lowest setting so you don’t floof your flour all over your kitchen as I so often do! Add about ½ a cup at a time, mixing in a bit of the water with each flour addition, let it mix for a second, then add more until all flour is incorporated, trying not to over mix. Scrape down sides and give it one last mix on low, making sure all of your flour is incorporated
Add water while mixing in flour.
With the mixer on lowest setting, add your chocolate chips, chunks and minis. While I am not a huge fan of chocolate (I know, something is seriously wrong with me) I do like chocolate chips in abundance in my cookies, so add them in and gently stir them into the dough. You can also mix them in by hand. Just don’t smash your chips to smithereens, so go slowly.
Now add your chunks, can’t help but think of the the song, “Big and Chunky” from Madagascar 2… rather fitting I’d say. Chunky, chunky!!
And lastly, add the minis
Now you have a beautiful, doughy, chocolaty chip goodness thang going on.
Using a medium scoop (2 Tablespoon, about the size of a large walnut) scoop your dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets, about 2-3 inches apart. I typically put 9 cookies on each sheet. Feel free to make them smaller too, sometimes I use a small scoop, making mini cookies, bake less time and you can fit 12 on a sheet pan.
Be patient and keep your teenagers and husband away from the dough while you make your dough balls. Once you have filled a cookie sheet, place them in the fridge for about 10 minutes. This will firm up the dough and do some sciency thing to the butter that then allows them to spread perfectly and evenly while baking.
At this point you can freeze what you won’t be using, that way you will have cookie dough to pop in the oven anytime you need them, for perfectly fresh and warm cookies. Scoop the rest of the dough into balls while your first batch is chillin’. Place close together onto a lined cookie sheet and freeze them for later use!
Once your first batch has done it’s 10 minutes of firming, pop them into your preheated 375° oven for 10 minutes…
Watch them closely, your oven might be hotter or cooler, so you may have to take them out at 8 or leave them in for 12 minutes. You want them slightly golden. My oven has them perfectly done to a thick, chewy, gooey, golden color in 10. Remove pan from the oven to a cooling rack and let cool for 2-3 minutes before removing to a wire rack for full cooling, if they make it that long. Store any uneaten (yeah, right) cookies in an airtight container or freeze for later use.
Once the dough balls are firmly frozen, transfer them to a gallon freezer baggie, getting out as much air as possible, seal and put in freezer. These are also great to give as part of a meal for a friend, package up a dozen in a baggie, provide thawing and baking instructions and they will love you forever!
When ready to use, just pull out of freezer, place dough balls onto parchment lined cookie sheet letting them come to room-ish temp (about 10 minutes) while the oven preheats. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes and cool as described above. I also like to keep my freshly baked cookies wrapped in cellophane to keep fresh or I double them up, wrap them tightly and freeze, then they can be easily plopped into a lunch box, they will be perfectly thawed by lunchtime.
- 1 cup (2 sticks), softened butter
- ⅔ cup white sugar (I use, organic raw sugar) [¾ cup if not high altitude]
- ⅔ cup brown sugar, packed [¾ cup if not high altitude]
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 ½ cups flour [2 cups if not high altitude]
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp water [omit, if not high altitude]
- 1 cup chocolate chips (use a good quality chocolate chip)
- ½ cup mini chocolate chips
- ⅔ cup chocolate chunks
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Cream softened butter in mixer, 1 minute.
- Add both white and brown sugar and cream well, scraping down sides often for 2 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, cream 1 minute each and scrape down sides in between.
- Add vanilla and mix well.
- While creaming butter and sugar mixture; mix together flour, baking soda and salt gently with a whisk.
- With mixer on low or stir, slowly pour in ½ cup of flour mixture at a time and gently mix, add water in between flour mixing, don’t over mix.
- Once mixed well, scrape sides of bowl and pour in chocolate chips, minis and chunks, stir (with low on mixer or by hand) on low, until combined.
- Scoop into balls using a 2-tablespoon scoop onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
- Place in fridge 10 minutes prior to baking, bake 8-10 minutes until just set and slightly golden.
- Cool on pan 2-3 minutes and then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.
- Enjoy warm or room temp. If not enjoying all the cookies at once, freeze dough balls until firm, then place in freezer ziplock bag until ready to use.
- Once ready to bake, take out of freezer and place 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Let soften while the oven preheats. Bake as directed above. Always fresh cookies!