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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Neiman-Marcus Chocolate Chips Cookies


A chocolate chip cookie, is a chocolate chip, is a chocolate chip ... right? Well. Maybe not. At least we can agree that not all cookies are made the same. Or maybe it's you can't make cookies without breaking a few eggs. Or something. But, cookies: YAY!

There is an internet legend that surrounds these cookies, and if you've spent any amount of time scouring the interwebs for cookie recipes, you probably have come across it. And if, by some miracle of the internet, you haven't heard the myth behind these cookies: settle in 'round the fire for story time, campers.

The story goes a mother and daughter (though the first time I heard the tale it was a father and daughter) had lunch at Neiman's - which included the famed chocolate chips cookies. The mother asked if they could share the recipe, the server said no - but it was for sale. How much, you ask? Oh, two-fifty. Sounds like a steal the the mother, so she agrees. Then a month (sorry - but who doesn't look at the receipt when paying for a meal?) later she sees her bill from the department store and it's way, way, way higher than she could account for, so she looked at the detail and saw a $250 charge for a cookie recipe. The HORROR! She called customer service and complained, but they wouldn't take back the recipe and refund her money. So, when faced with actually having to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a cookie recipe (I mean ...), what's a gal to do other than take to the internet for revenge and post it for the world to have for FREE? Yup. Pretty much. 



So. This lovely, lovely interweb myth is just that: a myth. Apparently, before this recipe started floating around on the internet (which as far as I can tell, was basically right after Al Gore gave birth to the world wide web) Neiman-Marcus didn't even have a chocolate chip cookie on their menu. Then after this story started circulating, they suddenly had a chocolate chip cookie on their menu (and have subsequently put "the recipe" on their website for free). I smell the world's best sleeper marketing campaign. Ever.

There are several recipes (other than the official one) floating around out there - all slightly different. I combined the best of everything to make one ridiculously delicious cookie, because that's how I roll.

There's a lot crammed into this cookie: two kinds of chocolate; espresso powder; pulverized oats; and PECANS. And to me, the best thing about these cookies is how they bake up: crispy on the outside edges and still chewy on the inside. Ugh. So. Good. Utter. Perfection.


Neiman-Marcus Chocolate Chips Cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of oats blitzed through a food processor
2 cups flour sifted
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 TSP espresso powder
1 cup butter (two sticks), room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
8 ounces milk chocolate, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the blitzed oats, sifted all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.

Add in the flour and oat mixture in three sections, making sure to fully incorporate before adding more (Note: you may have to increase your mixer speed a bit here to keep the paddle turning, this dough gets thick). Moving forward you have two choice: add the following ingredients by hand, or proceed with caution but use the mixer. I use the mixer for adding the two types of chocolate - but I hand mix in the nuts because ... that's how I was taught to do it as a wee thing. Anywho: add the chocolate chips, the chopped chocolate, and the pecans.

Using a #70 cookie scoop (or a Tablespoon) drop cookies onto Silpat covered cookie sheet approximately 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly using a fork or back of a spoon.

Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool for a couple of minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Prosciutto, Plum, & Arugula Pizza


In recent years I've been stretching my pizza topping boundaries. For a long time the most exciting thing I ate on pizza was pineapple (which when you think about it, it isn't all that uncommon these days). And then one day I had a pizza epiphany. I think it involved spinach and artichokes. And then later, jalapeƱos. The point is: don't let anyone tell you something doesn't belong on a pizza. Or what combinations are or aren't allowed. Stop the pizza shaming!

So. Plums. I mean. Ugh. At the age of ... not 29 anymore ... I have come to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE plums again. I recall a fascination with the fruit in preschool, eating multiple of them at lunch one day until I got quasi-sick. And then, like a lot of things I loved with a fierce passion as a child, I stopped eating them for no apparent reason. I was done. Finito. 


Obviously, I got over my silly aversion to plums. Which is a good thing because the whole sweet and tart thing, holy yum. Then there's arugula ... though that was more of a didn't know what I was missing dislike than an aversion. Which doesn't really make a lot of sense, I know - but if anyone can understand what I'm trying to say about my growing love for the peppery green, it's you all.

Also - if you're a cold pizza eater I'm happy to report that this pizza is, in fact, quite amazing the next day straight out of the fridge. Yes. I taste-tested cold pizza - it's just the kind of gal I am. Also, cold pizza is my jam. Eating cold pizza also falls under the no pizza shaming rule, in case you were wondering.

So, in review: plums so sweet and sour, prosciutto so salty, cheese so gooey, and arugula so peppery; in short: the perfectly delectable combination for your pizza night.



Prosciutto, Plum, & Arugula Pizza


Ingredients:

1 package pizza dough (I used Trader Joe's Whole Wheat), room temperature
1 - 2 plums, thinly sliced
4 -5 pieces of prosciutto
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 handful arugula
Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved
EVOO
Cornmeal 


Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F (if you're using a pizza stone - put it in the oven before you start preheating).

I always kneed a bit of extra flour into the dough (pizza dough can be STICKY) as I roll it out. I use a lovely pizza spatula to take the pizza in and out of the oven, so when I roll my dough out it's never any larger than that. Any who ... roll out the dough to the desired size and if using a pizza spatula (or a cookie sheet) sprinkle a bit of cornmeal onto the spatula before placing the dough over it. The cornmeal helps the dough slide on and off the spatula, and it gives the pizza dough a nice little crunch.

Brush a bit of EVOO onto the top of the dough, and pop into the oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Par-baking the dough is a must ... between the plums and mozzarella things can get a bit juicy.

After the dough has par-baked, remove from the oven and layer on the prosciutto, thinly sliced plums,  and 5 to 6 slices of mozzarella (note: be careful how much mozzarella you use - it will leach moisture and cause soggy pizza).

Bake for another 10 to 13 minutes. The mozzarella won't brown like normal cheese, but it will bubble up a bit.

Remove pizza from oven and immediately cover arugula and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Slice and dig in.