Cookie Confessions and Peanut Butter Cup-stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is an example of why wasting time on Pinterest can pay off.  I Found two recipes snooping around one day.  The first was for something called the “Infamous Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies”.  The other was an idea from a peanut butter cup lover about stuffing PBCs INTO your cookie.  I was intrigued.  But daunted.  After all, I’m the girl who SUCKS at baking chocolate chip cookies.

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Yes, I have a confession to make.  I absolutely, positively suck at baking chocolate chip cookies.
So I give up on them.
You probably think, “How can you throw in the dishtowel on COOKIES?”  It’s because mine never turn out the way other people’s do.  I mean, sure, I’ve tried dozens of  recipes over the years, varied the cooking times, and adjusted ingredients.  And my cookies still never taste as good as my sister’s.  Or my best friend’s.  Or my mom’s.  So I’ve finally decided enough is enough.  There are some things in life you just need to accept you’re not good at.  Some people shouldn’t attempt flambé, for obvious reasons, others should never bake bread, because it  comes out as toast:  My name is Erin, and I can’t bake chocolate chip cookies.
No I don’t give up on this lightly.  I kept trying for years to bake them right, because I loved the sweet taste of the thick batter, all sugary and creamy, speckled with chocolate chips.  It was fun to stir it all together, dropping it by the spoonful onto a cookie sheet, and enjoying the blast of warmth as the oven opened up, ready to turn mushy dough into crispy-chewy bites of heaven.  As kids, we’d hover beside the oven, waiting for those eight-to-ten-minutes to tick by, then waiting six-to-eight more for them to cool.  And those cookies were sooo good.
My mom taught us all to bake them, but my sister Megan’s always turned out better, somehow chewier—just a bit raw in that really delicious way.
My chocolate chip cookies were always too crunchy, just overdone, way too raw or just, ho-hum.
I eventually  found a flawless way to make chocolate chip cookies—I buy a plastic covered roll from the dairy aisle:  My name is Erin, and I buy pre-fab cookies.  doughboy33Because I have to admit the roly-poly little guy with the natty neckerchief and the pasty (err, pastry?) complexion can do it better.  Granted it’s taken me decades to realize this, but I’ve finally decided there can’t be any shame in this—even for a dedicated home cook like me.  The lesson is that if you try and try, and try and try, and you’re still unhappy with the results, why waste more ingredients, and time on something that so obviously isn’t working?  It’s like a relationship, if it just doesn’t feel good anymore, it might be time for a drastic change.

And that’s what I’ve been using for cc cookies.  Until now.

 

 

I made a date with Jacques after reading about his cookies on a blog.   The recipe for his chocolate chip batter is from Crepes of Wrath, which in turn credits The New York Times. To save you the clicks, it’s here:

The Infamous Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

The infamous Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies from The New York Times.  Prep time:  24 hours // Cook time:  20 mins// Total time:  24 hours 20 mins// Serves: 20 cookies

Ingredients
•    2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
•    1⅔ cups bread flour
•    1½ teaspoons baking powder
•    1¼ teaspoons baking soda
•    1½ teaspoons coarse salt
•    2½ sticks (1¼ cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
•    1¼ cups light brown sugar, packed
•    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
•    2 large eggs, room temperature
•    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
•    1⅓ pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
•    sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling

Instructions
1.    Sift together the cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium sized bowl and set aside.
2.    In the bowl of your mixer, cream together your butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add in the vanilla and mix. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, until just moistened. Fold in your chocolate until evenly added throughout the dough. Press plastic wrap against the dough, making sure it is completely covered, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or as long as 72 hours (I left mine for 36 hours). This is an important step, as it allows the gluten in the dough to loosen up (you know how if you beat your dough too much, your cookies will be rock hard? Allowing it to rest for a period of time helps to undo some of this damage). It also helps the cookies to not spread out too much; warm dough spreads, cold dough stays in nice, uniform circles.
3.    When you are ready to bake, bring the dough to room temperature so that you can scoop it out (I usually let it just sit on my counter for an hour or two), and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line and/or grease your baking sheets. Scoop your dough out onto the sheets. I used a #40 ice cream scoop, which is about the size of 2 tablespoons, but you can make them even larger, if you like. Do not press the dough down – let it stay the way it is. Sprinkle the cookies lightly with a bit of fleur de sel or sea salt. Bake 10-12 minutes for smaller cookies (mine took about 11 minutes), or 18-20 minutes for larger cookies.
4.    Allow the cookies to cool slightly on your baking sheet, then move them to another surface to cool completely. You can enjoy these warm, room temperature, or cold. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

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So I made this batter, and had excellent results.  It produces a moist and rich cookie.  I prefer slightly underbaked for a chewy cookie, but they can also be baked longer for a crispier bite.  Both were delicious.  Then,  I used the trick I read on Pinterest from Love and Olive Oil to jam Peanut butter cups in the centre.  This combo will change the way you think about cookies forever.   Creamy, rich and absolutely delicious.photo 1

Take the suggestion and buy the best ingredients you can.  The batter, when rolled into balls, freezes very nicely too.  I laid the rolls out on a cookie sheet, and froze that, then put them all between layers of parchment in a sealed container.  Now I can have fresh cookies (stuffed or not), any time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mystery Bracelet; What is it, How is it Made, and How to Fix it?

A client gave me this bangle for repair.

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It’s a beautiful smooth, free-form silver, stamped 925, with wire wrapping around the outside. It is tearing along the edges in some places, but I can’t tell how it’s made and thus how to repair it. In a couple of the torn areas, there’s a soft brown substance inside, and the bracelet sounds hollow when you tap it. I wonder; Could it be leather in the core? Wood? How would you get the silver to cover it so nicely and evenly? It’s heavy, but not as heavy as you’d expect if it were solid silver.

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It’s a gorgeous piece, but I’m not sure how to proceed with any repair. I’ve been asking around if anyone recognizes this style, or can educate me about how it’s made or how best to repair it.. so far: no clues.

The only other clues I have are this: it’s stamped “AL” beside the 925, and my client says it was bought in Calgary Canada. “A woman from Calgary (have no idea who or where she is) was selling this Israeli women’s jewellery designs as that woman wanted to come to Canada. It is the last I saw of her and the jewellery.”
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Feeling like a detective?  If you have any insight into my puzzle, please message me, or post a comment. And share or reblog this if you could….

 

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