Saturday, January 21, 2012

High Altitude Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've always been a Toll House cookie gal, that is, until living in a small mountain town with an elevation of 5,500ft above sea level.  The tried and true recipe on the back of the chocolate chip package does not work here. I expect chewy cookies, crisp on the outer edges and soft in the center.  I think I have "finally" found "the" recipe...stumbled upon this recipe online and it delivers!!

I've shared the recipe below with my usual modifications...use organic ingredients wherever I can along with Montana produced "non-gmo" wheat flour....oh, and I added chopped walnuts and made a larger cookie than what was called for in the recipe online. Upon typing this post, I realize my "golf ball" sized dough balls are somewhat larger than an actual golf ball. So to that I say, make whatever size you'd like...smaller balls yield more cookies & less baking time...enjoy!

FYI...from a modification standpoint compared to the Toll House recipe, this high altitude recipe uses an additional 1/4 cup each of white sugar, brown sugar and flour along with an extra egg.

High Altitude Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 3 dozen large cookies

1 c organic salted butter
1 c organic cane sugar
1 c organic brown sugar
3 large farm fresh eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 c Wheat Montana all-purpose flour
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (12oz bag)
1 c chopped walnuts (not an option for me, but you can leave them out!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix butter and both sugars until smooth.  Mix in eggs one at a time. Stir in vanilla.  In a separate bowl, mix salt, baking soda and flour.  Add dry ingredients to wet and mix just until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Shape dough into golf-ball sized rounds. Place 2" apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Flatten ball slightly using palm of hand.

Bake 12-15 minutes, rotating half way through baking time. Remove cookies from baking sheet and place on a cooling rack.

I didn't want to bake the entire batch at one time, so I rolled the dough into balls, and placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet, followed by putting them in the freezer overnight.

The next morning, I put the frozen dough balls into a zip-lock bag and returned them to the freezer for future use.

Remove frozen cookie dough balls from freezer and place on parchment lined baking pan. Allow to come to room temperature before baking....follow recipe for baking temperature and time.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Holy frijoles!! Has it really been over a month since my last post? I have it in my head that I would like to post weekly...perhaps I need to master monthly posts first? Ahem!!

Last night I knew I wanted to make some type of muffin this morning to go along with my latte, so I assessed my refrigerator fruit bin and decided upon cranberry muffins.  I had a bag leftover from Christmas....I planned on stringing them to place on my tree, but that endeavor was quickly aborted as the season went into full swing.

I have a great little muffin cookbook and have used it to make these, but I was sitting with my notebook in my lap and started cruising the web.  I looked at several, but settled on a recipe from a fellow blogger...Caroline over at Whipped. She lives in Chicago which has an elevation just under 600ft. Elevation is something I take into consideration when researching recipes to use while living in our little mountain town with an elevation of 5,500ft.

My basic modifications for high altitude baking consist of reducing the leavening agent by 1/4 tsp, adding 1/8-1/4 cup flour and increasing oven temperature 25 degrees.  However, I remembered reading about high altitude baking adjustments in a new book "Santa" blessed me with.  This book is nothing but brilliant.  The information in this book seems to go on infinitely...definitions for just about any food item you could imagine, along with an expanded glossary section that covers major protiens, grains, cheeses, spices, wines, etc...and the list goes on.  Needless to say, I highly recommend heading on over to Amazon right now...just buy'll be happy you did. I have included high altitude modifications I made for this recipe near the end of the post.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

makes 12 muffins

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used Wheat Montana brand)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup organic butter, melted & cooled
2/3 cup plus organic cane sugar (plus 1 tbsp reserved for muffin tops)
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 orange, zested* & juiced (reserve juice--use for high alt. adjustments)
1 cup buttermilk (our store does not carry organic)
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, rough chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line muffin tins with disposable paper liners.

Add first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine.

Whisk remaining ingredients, minus reserved tbsp sugar and chopped cranberries, in a medium mixing bowl.

Using wooden spoon, or spatula, add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; mixing just until combined. Fold in cranberries.

Fill muffin cups almost full. Sprinkle tops of muffins with remaining 1 tbsp sugar. Bake 20-25 minutes or until done when tested with a toothpick in the center.

*When using a microplane to zest your citrus...use as shown in the picture below. The underside of the microplane acts as a repository and you'll easily be able to visualize the quantity.

High Altitude Adjustments:
  • baking powder-reduce by 1/4 tsp
  • sugar-reduce by 2 tbsp
  • liquid-add 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • oven temperature-increase 25 degrees
  • decrease baking time approx 5 minutes