Friday, September 3, 2010

Mix Up Your Chocolate Chip Batter

   My dad and my husband are cookie fiends!  I can not tell you how many batches of cookies I have made in the past 9 months alone.  And I'm sure that over the course of my twenty-two years, I have made 1000's of batches.  In high school, I got really creative with some recipes, but lately I feel like I have been in a cookie rut.  Despite the fact that I may only eat about 5 cookies per batch, I get bored making the same thing over and over and over....

   Especially with chocolate chip cookies.  Everyone loves a good chocolate chip cookie, but admit it, they get boring after a while.  Sure we may throw in an oatmeal cookie every now and then, but chocolate chip seems the be the old stand by.  The most exciting things most of us do with these cookies is add a nut or go out on a limb by using a different chocolate.  It is still just a chocolate chip cookie though.

Here are couple easy and delicious tips for mixing up the everyday chocolate chip cookie:
  1. Dried Fruit.  Dried cranberries, cherries, and blueberries add an unexpected tang and sweetness to your  cookie.  I love using dark chocolate chips when adding dried fruit to my batter.
  2. Overload on Nuts.  Simply using more nuts that called for in the recipe is the easiest way to change things up.  Also, try using a nut you may not normally use like macadamia nuts, cashews, or pistachios.
  3. Try a Different Vanilla.  You'd be surprised how different the flavors can be.  Mexican vanilla is my personal favorite.  Make sure you always use pure vanilla extract.  No artificial flavoring, please. 
  4. Pure Extracts.  Vanilla is not the only extract in the grocery store.  Try adding almond or orange for a different, yet familiar flavor profile.
Cranberry, Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies (above)
2 1/4 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temp)
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 C chopped walnuts
1 C dried cranberries
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine first three ingredients.  In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Mix in eggs, extracts, and nutmeg.  In thirds, add flour mixture to wet mixture.  Before the last third in fully incorporated, add nuts, fruit, and chocolate chips.  Finish mixing.  Spoon tablespoon size amounts onto cookie sheet.
Bake 350 deg. F for 10-12 minutes.  Makes about 4 dozen.

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