Midnight Macaroons

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mactable

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maciris

Chocolate-Covered Hazelnut Macaroons
Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart
Yields about 8 cookies

INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large egg whites
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

METHOD
Fill a sauce pot with water and heat to boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to just simmering. Fill a large metal (or heat-resistant) mixing bowl with the chocolate chips and place over the hot water bath. Allow to melt, stirring with a spatula every few minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg white. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Form the dough into eight, 2 tablespoon mounds and drop each onto the sheet pan about 2-inches apart.

Bake the macaroons until golden brown on the edges, about 15 minutes. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to cool. Using a spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the cooled macaroons. Serve.

Macaroons will keep in a sealed container for up to one week.

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Return to the full story HERE

(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Sony Pictures.)

Khaki Wishes and Cookie Dreams

trooplede

I was never a Girl Scout. In lieu of those activities, my mom encouraged me take ballet and tap dance classes, piano lessons and vocal coaching. I was a bit of a singer/dancer as a child, taking any chance I could to steal the limelight to sing in front of an audience (large or small). I loved singing and dancing so much that I didn’t miss or even notice the other activities I could’ve been doing with other kids my age. It wasn’t until I was about 12 years old when I first saw Troop Beverly Hills, a movie about a group of Wilderness Girls from the 90210, led by the fierce (and amazingly dressed) Shelley Long.

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Troop Beverly Hills is one of my favorite movies, and after re-watching it in my 20s I immediately recognized one of my favorite artists, a young Jenny Lewis. In fact, the movie is flooded with young stars you may recognize.

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Looking back, I kind of wish I would’ve been a Wilderness Girl, just so that I could sing the “Cookie Time” song.

So right now (with all of my social media channels flooded with posts of Girl Scout cookies) I’m craving Thin Mints so very much. But no such luck on finding any Girl Scout cookie sales booths. Being the proactive and slightly impatient person that I am, I decided to create my own. The resulting recipe is vegan-optional (if you choose to use margarine instead of butter) and has a very subtle coconut flavor. ‘Cause mint and coconut go together like khaki and green, right? I’m calling ’em “Thick Mints” for obvious reasons.

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troop3

Homemade Thick Mints
Recipe slightly adapted from BakingBites.com
Yields about 2 1/2 dozen

INGREDIENTS
For the cookies:
8 ounces butter (or margarine)
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup rice flour (I used Mochiko)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups all purpose flour

For the dipping chocolate:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
1/8 cup canola oil

METHOD
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter (or margarine) and sugar till fully incorporated. Stir in the salt, extracts, coconut milk and cocoa powder. Mix until the cocoa powder is integrated and the batter looks like chocolate frosting. Add the flours and mix till just combined, making sure to not over-mix.

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Form the dough into a cylinder-like roll (think rolling pin-sized). Wrap the dough completely in Saran or other plastic wrap tightly. Place the dough into the freezer for at least 3 hours or overnight.

After properly resting, remove dough from the freezer and carefully discard plastic wrap. Using a sharp serrated knife cut dough into 1/2-inch discs, slowly cutting so as to not break the dough.

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troopbaked
Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack, about 5 minutes.

While the cookies bake, make the peppermint coating. Heat a sauce pot of water till boiling. Place the baking chocolate into a heat-resistant bowl over the boiling water, making sure not to get water  into the chocolate.

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(Cook’s Note: I have read recipes online instructing to place chocolate into a microwave. Please, I repeat, please don’t do that. Heating chocolate in the microwave will oftentimes scorch it. Chocolate is a temperamental food that needs to be treated carefully. On that note, please don’t ever heat chocolate over a direct flame. Melting chocolate over a double-boiler creates a more controllable heat source.)

Once the chocolate has melted, stir in the peppermint extract. Then slowly add in the oil to thin it out.

Slowly drop the cookies into the melted chocolate. Turn to coat the cookies entirely, then lift the cookie out of the chocolate with a rubber spatula.

Place the dipped cookies onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Place the cookies in the freezer to set for at least an hour, preferably overnight if you’re patient!

Now it’s “cookie time, it’s cookie time, it’s cookie time!”

(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots are property of Weintraub Entertainment Group)

Don’t Mess With Cookie Lyon

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Jamal

By a show of hands, who’s also obsessed with Fox’s television show, Empire? I just can’t get enough. I was introduced to the show via some friends at work who also share my love for VH1’s Love and Hip Hop.

“Oh girl, you think Love and Hip Hop is good, you definitely need to watch Empire. You’ll thank me later,” one friend said.

“You’re not watching Empire yet? Get on it, girl! It’s like a scripted, well acted version. But 1000-plus times better. Trust me,” another friend exclaimed.

So I gave in to the peer pressure and watched the pilot that night. My expectations were exceeded. Are you kidding? This show is phenomenal. (Know that I don’t use that term lightly.) My girl Taraji P. Henson is KILLING IT as the lead heroine, Cookie Lyon. Mama is fierce! And I just can’t get over how gorgeous Jamaal (portrayed by actor Jussie Smollett) is.

(Side note: Did anyone realize a young Jussie was in THIS movie?) The relationship he and Cookie have is so beautiful to watch, like how a mama lioness watches over her cub. This show proves that a mother’s love is stronger than just about anything.

With all this talk about Miss Cookie, I got to thinking: It’s been a few weeks since I’ve made some actual cookies at home. So I got to the kitchen and started baking away. These cookies are such a great twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie. The brown butter deepens the flavor and the pecans add spice with a nice bit of crunch.

(Editor’s Note: All television show screenshots are property of 20th Century Fox.)

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cookiesmilk

Brown Butter Spiced Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cookie recipe slightly adapted from Joy the Baker
Spiced pecan recipe by A Streetcar Named Devour
Yields about 3 dozen cookies

FOR THE SPICED PECANS

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 cup water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup pecans, whole

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Add all ingredients into a mixing bowl and thoroughly coat the pecans.  Spread the pecans into a single layer onto the sheet tray. Place into the oven for 15 minutes. Once done, remove and allow to cool.

FOR THE COOKIES

INGREDIENTS
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (recipe above)

METHOD
Place half of the butter into a medium skillet. Melt the butter over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally to avoid burning. The butter will begin to foam while cooking. Once the butter starts to smell nutty and the color is light amber, it’s done. Carefully remove the butter and pour it into a small bowl to cool down.

While the brown butter cools, mix the other 1/2 cup of butter with the sugars, until the mixture is well incorporated. Add in the vanilla and the egg. Once cool, pour in the brown butter. Mix until smooth. Slowly add in all the dry ingredients until just incorporated.

Place the dough into a sealable container and into the refrigerator to cool for at least an hour. Even better if it’s overnight.

dough

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When you’re ready to bake the dough, preheat the oven to 350°F. Scoop the refrigerated dough in 2-tablespoon scoops onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet tray, lining them so that they have plenty of space as they will spread considerably once baked. Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes, or until they’re a pretty golden brown. Remove from the oven, and allow them to cool for at about 5 minutes.

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[Adult Swig]

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Adult Hot Chocolate
Serves 1

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups milk
8 ounces dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon sugar
sprinkle of salt, to taste
1 tablespoon Peppermint Schnapps
1/2 cup whipping cream

METHOD
Using a stand mixer, whisk on medium-high the whipping cream till hard peaks, about 8-10 minutes.

In a small deep sauce pan, heat the milk. Stir often to avoid scorching. Add in the chocolate chips, sugar and salt. Heat till chocolate is melted. Turn off the heat. Transfer the hot chocolate into a large mug. Stir in the peppermint schnapps. Finish with 2 big dollops of whipped cream.

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Return to the full story HERE

(Editor’s Note: All movie screenshots in this story are property of Sony Pictures.)

The Cookie Project

pmslead

So I’m a bit of an oversharer. I’ve been described as being kind of like Mindy Kaling’s title character on her eponymous show, The Mindy Project. And after watching the show obsessively for the past 3 seasons, I must say, I slightly agree. If you don’t already watch the show: Mindy is a hilarious, hopeless romantic, oversharing OB/GYN, who puts all of her business out there for her co-workers–regardless if it’s welcomed or not. (For instance, Morgan, the funny and always inappropriate ex-con male nurse, has her menstrual cycle memorized.)

I’m kinda the same way. Working in a kitchen full of guys, I often find myself talking about my personal life (solicited or not) and never hesitate to let them know when it’s “that time of the month.” (It’s actually in their best interest to know, so as to not make a rather hormonally charged emotional woman even more irritated.) When I am actually PMS-ing, the following occurs: a long, dragged-out, piercing headache; bouts of random crying spells watching television shows and/or movies that don’t necessarily require a tissue box on-hand (like that time I was watching Sister Act and started balling my eyes out during the scene when they were singing “Salve Regina”); and an uncontrollable craving for chocolate and baked goods. During the latter symptom, I’m often found in the kitchen scrounging up any ingredients I have to create something on the fly to nourish that sudden and unstoppable craving. For the last two cycles, I’ve been repeating the following recipe which I’ve affectionally dubbed my “P.M.S Cookies.” It’s the perfect name for them, actually, considering their origins and the fact that they’ve got pretzels + milk chocolate chips + salt in ‘em.

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P.M.S Cookies
(Pretzels + Milk Chocolate Chips + Sea Salt)

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
8 tablespoon unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup lightly crushed pretzels

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METHOD
In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. Set aside.

In another bowl cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the Nutella and vanilla extract. Add the egg.

Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips and pretzels.

(If you’ve got the time and patience, keep reading. For all cookie emergencies, scroll down to the following paragraph.)
Portion dough with an ice cream scoop or heaping tablespoon onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the freezer overnight.

Portion dough (using an ice cream scoop or heaping tablespoon) 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350-degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes until the center is fully cooked.

Allow cookies to cool on the trays for 3-5 minutes then carefully place onto cooling racks.

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leaningtower

We Belong Together

maltedlead

These ice cream sandwiches are unreal. Instead of going on and on about how crazy delicious they are, I’ll just get on with it and let the photos do the talking.

INGREDIENTS
Malted Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (recipe here)
Whopper Cookies (recipe here)

ASSEMBLY
Scoop your Malted Chocolate Chip Ice Cream into nice rounds and place on a plate or small tray and into the freezer. You want your scoops to be as frozen as possible to avoid a messy assembly later on.

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Once the scoops are fully frozen (for at least an hour), have your Whopper cookies paired up and placed with the flat side facing you on a cutting board or platter.

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With a pallet knife or small spatula, place the scoop of ice cream onto one of the cookies and top with its matching cookie. Lightly press onto the top cookie, making sure the ice cream scoop is now flattened and evenly distributed onto the surface of the cookies.

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Allow to freeze for another hour to solidify before consumption. I wrapped the sandwiches in parchment paper and ribbon to avoid a messy situation! (But it’s gonna get messy, anyway. And that’s OK!)

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Whopper Cookies

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These cookies were inspired by my selfish desire to make a cookie that I could use to sandwich between this ice cream recipe. Continue reading HERE to check out the full ice cream sandwich recipe.

Whopper Cookies
Yields about 18 (1.15 ounces or 32 grams) cookies

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 cups Whoppers, crushed

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the Whopper candies in a Zip-Lock bag and seal it. Lightly crush the candies into chocolate chip-size bits with a meat tenderizer or a Mason jar (I happened to have one on-hand). Set aside.

Place butter and sugars together in a mixing bowl and mix on medium-high until fully incorporated. Add in the egg with the vanilla extract and mix for 30 seconds.

In a separate bowl add the dry ingredients together and mix with a spoon. In 3 batches slowly add in the bowl of the dry ingredients together. The dough will be very crumbly, almost like pie dough, that’s the texture you want. (I prefer to have my ice cream sandwich cookies a bit softer, so that when you bite into them it’s like BUTTAH! Remember, these will be frozen!)

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Use an ice cream scoop to get equal-size portions

You can generously scoop the cookies with a 1-ounce ice cream scooper right onto a Silpat- or pachment paper-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes, depending on your oven’s heat.

Remove the cookies from the baking sheet and allow to cool completely.

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Slightly under-bake your cookies if you’re planning on ice cream sandwich-ing ’em later.

Crunch Time

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One of my fondest memories as a kid were frequent outings with my family to get ice cream at Thrifty’s. Those cylinder-shaped blocks of ice cream that were scooped atop another were irresistible. My parents would ask me how many scoops I wanted, and I’d always ask for two. Ice cream was a lot cheaper back then–.59 cents a scoop. My dad remembers them being .10 cents a scoop at Thrifty’s when he was a kid. Now, Thrifty’s sells their ice cream for about $1 a scoop. Oh, how times have changed. But my love for their Chocolate Malted Crunch ice cream has not. Those little bits of chocolate chips and mini crunchy malted bits in the creamy malted chocolate ice cream were to-die-for! The weather has been heating up here in the Bay, so my best attempt at recreating this retro favorite was very fun and hugely successful.

Two scoops, please.

Two scoops, please.

And because I love a good ice cream sandwich (who doesn’t?), CLICK HERE for my Whoppers Cookie recipe. These cookies are good on their own, too. Just sayin’. Then follow this LINK for NSFW ice cream sandwich assembly pics.

Chocolate Malted Chip Ice Cream
Recipe slightly adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Yields 1 quart

Ice cream mis en place

Ice cream mis en place

INGREDIENTS
2 cups heavy cream, divided
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped and divided (chocolate chips work, too)
1 cup whole milk or heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup brown sugar (I prefer it taste-wise to white sugar)
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups malted milk powder (Please please please use real malted milk powder! Many brands like Ovaltine contain added sugars and don’t produce the same results. The original recipe called for 1 cup of the powder, but I found that adding a 1/2 cup more produced better results.)***

METHOD
Combine 1 cup of the heavy cream with the cocoa powder in a medium-size saucepan and whisk together until there are no lumps.

Bring mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 30 seconds whisking constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and add in half of the chopped chocolate (2 ounces) and whisk till it’s completely melted and smooth. Stir in the other cup of heavy cream and pour into a large bowl, using a rubber spatula to scrape all of the mixture from the saucepan.

Properly tempering the eggs into the milk reduces clumps.

Properly tempering the eggs into the milk reduces clumps.

In the same saucepan, warm the milk, brown sugar and salt. In a separate medium-size bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Add a cup of the warmed milk to the egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper the yolks. Once the egg yolks have been tempered, add them to the saucepan and whisk on medium heat. Continue to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir until the egg mixture thickens to a custard-like consistency and coats the back of the spatula.

Almost there!

Almost there!

Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve or strainer and str into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract and malted milk powder, whisking until the mixture is completely combined.

Cool the chocolate custard base in the refrigerator till it’s completely chilled. This should take at least 4 hours.

Almost there!

It’s happening!

Pour the chocolate malted custard into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While churning, add in the remaining 2 ounces of chopped chocolate to the mixture.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap atop the churned ice cream mixture to avoid freezer burn or forming ice crystals while it freezes.

If you ask me, I'm ready

If you ask me, I’m ready

***COOK’S NOTE: So what is malted milk powder? Besides its use as a base for beer and whiskey, malt is used to add a sweet, nutty flavor. It’s a grain (oftentimes barley) that’s sprouted and quickly dried. The grain is finely ground with the addition of wheat flour and powdered milk.

13 Going on 30

Birthday "Ding Dongs" with Salted Caramel Ganache

Birthday “Ding Dongs” with Salted Caramel Ganache

Hostess Ding Dongs were a common mainstay in my She-Ra lunchbox during grade school. I remember the excitement from opening up my lunch to find that little foil-wrapped cake waiting just for me. Some of my classmates would attempt to “trade” a Ding Dong for something like a baggie of chocolate Teddy Grahams or a bottle of Squeeze-It Juice. As tempting as it was, I never succumbed.

Nearly 25 years later, I still have that taste memory of those cakes fresh in my mind. For my former roommate Gina’s 30th birthday I decided to make her a batch of homemade “Ding Dongs.” Seeing as how Gina favors a salty-sweet taste aesthetic, the cakes are dipped in a salted caramel ganache, inspired by this recipe. And to make her “30, Flirty and Thriving”-themed surprise birthday extravaganza even more special, I cut the cakes into heart shapes.

Cook’s Note: These cakes are super-moist and airy, and the marshmallow filling isn’t as sweet as most recipes I’ve come across. The recipe yields about 12 “Ding Dongs” with plenty of cake scraps to snack on for later, as well as extra caramel ganache that can later used to top ice cream sundaes.

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Surprise!

Surprise!

 

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Allow the cakes to cool before cutting them into shapes (if you decide to do so)

Birthday “Ding Dongs” with Salted Caramel Ganache

FOR THE CAKE
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Beantown Baker

INGREDIENTS
2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup hot brewed coffee
2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/3 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 ea. eggs
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

METHOD
Preheat oven to 300°F and grease 2 10-inch round cake pans.

Finely chop chocolate and add into a bowl of hot coffee. Stir until chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

Sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In another large mixing bowl beat the eggs until thickened slightly and lemon-yellow in color. Slowly stream in the oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.

Divide the cake batter between pans and bake in the middle rack until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, roughly one hour.

Cool cakes completely in pans on racks. Run a small knife or palette knife around the edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. You can make the cakes one day ahead and wrap them with plastic wrap and left out in room temperature.

*Cook’s Note: If you’re prepping the cakes for the following day, do not place them in the refrigerator, this causes the cake to dry out, no bueno! If you’re prepping a few days in advance, thoroughly wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and into the freezer. Defrost accordingly.

filling

Save your leftover marshmallow filling to top hot chocolate.

FOR THE MARSHMALLOW FILLING
Recipe adapted from Epicurious

INGREDIENTS
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 each large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

METHOD
In large mixing bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup water, sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Set bowl over a double boiler of simmering water and mix with a whisk or handheld electric mixer at low speed. Gradually increase speed to high, beating until mixture holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.

Remove bowl from double boiler to a rolled up kitchen towel (this helps to keep the bowl in place) onto your counter and continue beating until mixture is cool and billowy, about 2 minutes more. Beat in the vanilla. This filling can be made ahead 4 hours before assembly, just cover with plastic wrap and chill.

FOR THE SALTED CARAMEL GANACHE
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

INGREDIENTS
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Sea salt for garnish

METHOD
Place chopped chocolate and salt into a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Stir the sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a deep medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and cook, swirling the pan occasionally (don’t stir! It will cause the sugar to crystallize!) and brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush if you have one. You want to cook the sugar till it is a deep amber color, this takes about 10 minutes. Once you achieve the amber color, remove the pan from the heat and stream in the heavy whipping cream. The mixture will bubble vigorously. Return the pan to cook over medium heat and stir until the caramel bits dissolve. Then pour over this mixture into the bowl of chopped chocolate. Add the vanilla and stir until the chocolate has melted and is smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

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Assembly gets messy, but it’s so worth it

 

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Salted caramel ganache! What?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASSEMBLY
Once the cake layers have cooled completely, use a small round cookie cutter (in my case I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter) to cut small circles of cake out of the layers. Reserve the cake scraps for future sweet treats!

Using the cone method, scoop out a small portion of cake from each circle. Fill with the marshmallow filling and replace top of cake.

With a pastry brush or spoon, cover individual cakes with salted caramel ganache. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt flakes over cakes for garnish. Allow ganache to completely set up before serving.

Split Decision

Secret Ingredient: Chickpeas!

Secret Ingredient: Chickpeas!

My sweet tooth is becoming a problem. A major problem. The kind of problem that goes straight to the thighs and derrière, so much so that my pants (two pairs, thus far) are waging a war against me–splitting at the most unpleasant of areas at the most inconvenient of times. Perhaps *they* are trying to tell me something?

Within the first few weeks of working at a former job, I had experienced one of the most embarrassing moments in a cook’s life–I had bent down to pick up a sheet tray from the rolling rack, and eek! my 3-year-old, culinary school-issued, black pants had split at the seam of my, err, caboose. I was exposed. Completely embarrassed, I had to scurry (apron now wrapped around my waist, concealing said ripped pants) to my sous chef and ask him for an emergency pair of black chef pants. My sous chef then contacted our restaurant’s general manager about the “situation” who then ran over to the human resources building to get me a new pair. Before I knew it, nearly everyone working in my cafe had found out about my pant mishap. Not only was I the “New Girl”, I was now the “New Girl with the Incredibly Splitting Pants!” I felt like a really bad circus act.

For this I blame a lack of exercise. Working 8-13 hours a day is hard on the body and doesn’t allow me the time to work out after-hours. By the time I get home from work, I’m extremely exhausted. While my job is very physically demanding–heavy lifting, running around, standing for long periods of time, etc.–I was missing the fat- and calorie-burning cardio exercise I needed to counter my sweet tooth-crazed problem. To combat this issue I’ve now begun walking to work, a mere 3.5 miles, 7 miles roundtrip. I’m now able to eat the sweet things (very sparingly!) without all the guilt.

Even still, cookies are my vice. Always have been. They’re my go-to snack whether they’re fresh from the oven (the best kind) or of the grocery store variety. I began researching for a healthy cookie option to help ease my daily sweet cravings. Does a healthy cookie even exist? I found a recipe via The Texanerin of a grain-free cookie made of (hold your breath now) chickpeas! Yes, I couldn’t believe it, either, when I first read about it. I immediately got to recipe testing. With some slight tweaking (I substituted the peanut butter for almond butter and added Nutella and brown sugar to the mix), this cookie does make me feel less guilty. And just to be sure, while I wait for the cookies to bake, I do squats and leg lifts in between.

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A Different Kinda Chocolate Chip Cookie

Grain-free Vegan Nutella-Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe slightly adapted from Texanerin Baking
Yields about 17 cookies

INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 cups canned chickpeas, well-rinsed and patted dry or (350g cooked)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond butter
1/3 cup + 1 teaspoon Nutella or hazelnut spread
1/4 cup (80 grams) honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
1/8 cup (70 grams) brown sugar
1/2 cup (90 grams) dark chocolate chips (65% cacao or more)

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Other ingredients: honey, almond butter, and of course, Nutella

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Dark chocolate chips

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Hey batter batter batter!

METHOD 
Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C. Combine all the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips and brown sugar, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Make sure to scrape the sides and the top to get every little chunk of chickpeas and process again until they’re well combined.

Add in the chocolate chips and brown sugar and stir till just combined. The mixture will be very thick and sticky.

Transfer dough into a small bowl and place into refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour to congeal. Allowing the dough to cool makes it slightly easier to handle.

When you’re ready, use an ice cream scoop or spoon to form 1- to 1/2-inch balls. Place onto a Silpat- or parchment paper-lined sheet tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes.

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Post-bake!