Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate chip cookies

BM #106 : Week 3, Day 2
Theme : Baked Dishes

I am a big fan of Hershey’s cookbooks. Those come with recipes that you can try without fear of failure. The Hershey’s best brownies and “Perfectly chocolate” chocolate cakes have been my go-to recipes for many years now. I am surprised that I missed their recipe for cookies until now. This is again from one of their baking books. My son wanted cookies with white chocolate chips and that’s what we made. 

I had made this to celebrate the birth of my nephew who was born just before Diwali. Shreyas helped me a bit with baking, but mostly he was interested in trying out the cookies. As is my ‘tradition’, the first batch had quite a few burnt cookies. The first batch is always a trial batch for me to figure out the time needed to bake. But with chocolate cookies, its hard to tell when they are cooked because of their dark color. So there were some cookie casualities :D. But the rest were saved and distributed to our friends. 

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: Hershey’s Recipe Collection Book

Makes about 4 dozen, depending on the size

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter ( 2 sticks / ~220 gms)
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips

Method:

  1. Heat oven to 375 F. 
  2. Beat softened butter with both the sugars and vanilla until light and creamy in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time and beat it in.
  3. In a smaller mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. This helps in breaking lumps in cocoa. Add this dry mix to the butter mix in batches and beat in low speed until well incorporated.
  4. Turn off the mixer,  add the chocolate chips and mix it in with a spatula. 
  5. Take a rounded teaspoon of cookie dough. Place this into a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough, leaving enough space between it to allow the cookie to spread. 
  6. Bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool slightly in the sheet itself before moving to a wire rack. Cool completely and store in airtight containers. 

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Honey Pound cake with strawberry buttercream

BM #106 : Week 3, Day 1
Theme : Baked Dishes

Here is a cake from my drafts folder. This was one of the recipes from the book Erin Bakes cake where she had given a base recipe for pound cakes and variations with different liquid sweeteners. I chose to bake with honey, but you can use the same amount of molasses or maple syrup for a different flavor. Instead of a regular vanilla based buttercream, I also made a strawberry buttercream here. A cup of strawberry jam or preserves to the buttercream was all it took to get a nice pinkish strawberry buttercream.

The design pattern is from one of the books I borrowed from the library, but I don’t remember the name to give a link to it. It was one of the simplest designs I had done. The polka dots are made by dabbing black food coloring with the flat end of a skewer on the cake. I never thought it would be that simple! The flowers and leaves are fondant cut outs.

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: Erin Bakes Cake

Ingredients:

  • 5 sticks butter (20 ounces/560 gms)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 large eggs
  • 6 cups plain flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 12 ounces honey (1.5 cups)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line three 8″ pans with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a stand mixer bowl, add softened butter, sugar, baking powder, vanilla and salt for about 5 minutes until it’s light and creamy. Stop in between to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. With the mixer running at a low speed, Add honey and beat it in until combined. Add eggs, one at a time and beat it in. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add the flour in three batches, alternating with whole milk. So add 1/3rd of the flour and let the mixer (at the lowest speed possible) incorporate it with the butter mixture. Then add half of the milk. Once the milk is combined well, add another batch of flour. Repeat this for one more round of milk and flour.
  5. Take the bowl off the mixer, combine everything with a silicone spatula to make sure that everything is incorporated well. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 40 minutes or so, until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes free of crumbs.
  6. Take off the oven and let it rest on the pan for 10-15 minutes. After that, remove it carefully from the pan, peel off the parchment paper. Cling wrap the cake two times and return it back to the pan. When it’s completely cooled down, fill and frost with buttercream and cover with fondant. Decorate as you like.

For the strawberry buttercream,

  • Beat 4 sticks (16oz/450gms) softened butter and a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes in a stand mixer bowl.
  • Turn off the mixer, Add 7 1/2 cups (2 lbs bag) powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 2-4 tablespoons milk. Mix it in with a spatula to prevent sugar flying all over the kitchen.
  • Switch the mixer ON at the lowest setting and beat it until it reaches a creamy consistency.
  • Add 1 cup of strawberry preserve for a strawberry flavored buttercream.

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Vadacurry with Idli

BM #106: Week 1, Day 2
Theme : Packed Lunchboxes

The first time I had vada curry is when our friend’s mom prepared it for us. It’s not a dish I grew up eating, but the first time I had it, I absolutely loved it. I thought it was a complicated process to prepare these, but it’s a fairly easy one. First you have to soak Chana dal and then grind it fennel seeds and dried red chilies. It’s ground to a coarse paste and steamed as small vadas. The gravy for this is the common onion tomato base with the usual spices. The vada is then broken into smaller pieces and added to the onion tomato gravy.

The only difference I see in my friend’s mom’s recipe from the other ones in internet is that she keeps a little bit of vada batter aside and uses it to thicken the gravy later. In the other recipes I see coconut being used for this purpose. The smell and taste of fennel seeds here is absolutely divine. Mine doesn’t have that much fennel, so feel free to add a bit more ground fennel seeds to the gravy if preferred.

This is a typical breakfast/dinner dish and is usually served with soft thick dosas or idli. This was dinner getting packed as lunch next day for my husband:-).

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: My friend’s mother

Ingredients:

For vada

  • 1 cup Chana dal
  • 2-3 dried red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional
  • Salt as needed

For curry

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • Salt as needed

Method:

  1. Soak the dal overnight or for at least 3 hours. Drain the water completely and pulse it in a blender with fennel seeds, chilies, chili powder and salt. It should be a coarse paste and not a smooth paste. Remove the ground paste to a bowl reserving about 2 tablespoons ( roughly a handful) of it back in the blender. The reserved batter will be blended with water to use for thickening the gravy later.
  2. Take a marble sized ball from the vada batter. Flatten it and place it on a steamer rack. Repeat with the rest of the batter. Steam for 12 minutes. Set aside.
  3. For the curry, heat a tablespoon of oil. Sauté the onions till it’s pink. Add the ginger garlic paste and mix it in. Add the tomatoes and all the spice powders and salt. Mix everything well and let it cook until the tomatoes are really mushy and almost like a paste. You can add a little water whenever it looks dry or if the curry starts sticking to the pan.
  4. At this point, add 2 cups of water and let it come to a boil. Taste test and adjust seasonings.
  5. Break each vada into smaller pieces, roughly 3-4 pieces per vada. Add the broken vada to the gravy. If the curry is dry, add more water. You are looking for a chili like consistency.
  6. To the reserved vada batter, add 1/4 cup water and grind to a very smooth paste. Add this to the gravy and bring it to a boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds if preferred. Taste test again and adjust seasonings if necessary. Take off the heat and serve with idli or dosa or even roti.

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Moong dal with Dill leaves

BM #106: Week 1, Day 1
Theme : Packed Lunchboxes

My husband’s lunchbox and my son’s lunchbox are completely different. My husband prefers rice and my son doesn’t like rice. I serve rice to my son when he is back from school and pack something light for his lunchbox. Pasta is the only thing they agree on.

Here is a sample of my husband’s lunch. I usually pack a salad or a cooked vegetable on the side, but I was out of time to do so. Dal with dill leaves is a recipe I learnt from my friend and I love it.

Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source: My friend Devi

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup moong dal
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 green chilies, roughly chopped
  • 1″ piece ginger, grated or minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt as needed
  • 1 cup chopped dill leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

Method:

  1. Wash the dal and pressure cook with the diced tomatoes, onions, chilies , ginger, garlic and turmeric powder. Add about 2.5 cups of water or until the dal is completely submerged and water floats about an inch on top. Pressure cook for 6 whistles (6 minutes in Manual setting in Instant Pot) or until the dal is cooked completely. I use pot in pot method. Let the pressure release naturally.
  2. Heat ghee in a pan and add cumin seeds. Once the seeds splutter, add the cooked dal. Add salt as needed and garam Masala. Roughly chop the dill leaves and add it to the dal. Let everything cook together for a couple of minutes. You can add more water if the dal is dry. Taste test, adjust seasonings. Take off the heat and serve with rice, pickle and chips.

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