Tag Archives: egg-free

Tate’s Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies

On this blog, I’ve written about a lot of the unusual recipes that I’ve made. There was the maple syrup taffy. The mini sweet potato cheesecakes. The lime cornmeal cookies. The different cookies with potato chips in them. Adorable little teddy bears in marshmallow hot tubs. And while I’ve definitely made some more traditional recipes, I haven’t actually written about good ol’ regular chocolate chip cookies. One time I made salted chocolate chip cookies, but that was really the closest I’ve done.

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So, I thought I would do something unusual and make something regular. 🙂 I decided to make chocolate chip cookies. Since everybody and their grandmother has a chocolate chip cookie recipe, which recipe to use could have been a difficult decision. Luckily for me, I had an easy answer. Since I was making them for my friend’s birthday, I thought I would make something he would particularly enjoy.

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He’s a big fan of Tate’s cookies. Now, generally I’m a big advocate of homemade cookies. (Wonder what would have given you that idea?) But if you’re looking to buy cookies that someone else made, you can’t go wrong with Tate’s. For example, in a previous incarnation of one of my gaming groups, we consumed an exceptional amount of them. They’re a NY State specialty, but you can get them all over the place. And since the birthday boy really enjoys them, I thought it would be cool to make some for him, as I have the cookbook from Tate’s. Well, as it turns out, I have a cookbook of theirs, but not the cookbook with this recipe. So I had to find it elsewhere. (Thank you, internet!)

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They were pretty easy to put together. I mean, they’re chocolate chip cookies after all. A few recipe notes: I didn’t have salted butter, just unsalted, so I added extra salt to compensate. I didn’t use eggs. I used aquafaba instead. And it turns out that the 2 cups of chocolate chips was a whole bag.

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I baked them on baking sheets covered in parchment paper. I used three sheets and rotated them in and out of the oven through the process, using one or two sheets per batch. I used my handy-dandy cookie scoop to make the cookies, but that made the cookies too big. So I split the scoops of dough roughly in half, which was about right. I ended up with 46 cookies. (The recipe is supposed to make 54, so I guess mine were a little bigger.)

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I baked the first batch for 12 minutes, which wasn’t quite enough. I baked the second batch for 14 minutes which seemed just right. For the next batch, I also baked them for 14 minutes, but that was too much for these. Some might have been a little smaller. It’s also possible that opening and closing the oven to check a couple of times during the previous batch might have cooled it down a little, which made for the longer time. The last batch was in for 13 minutes which was just right.

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They smelled delicious while baking. That is, for a while they smelled really good, but as with any smell, after a while you get used to it. At one point I went into another room and came back and I could notice the difference. It was like walking into a giant cookie. And while they were cooling, I stepped outside for a couple of minutes. When I came back into the apartment, the scent hit me like a ton of bricks. Err, cookies. It was fantastic.

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Tate’s cookies are known for being big, flat, and crispy. And delicious. Some of these turned out more like Tate’s cookies and some less. I tried one that was closer to the Tate’s ideal and one that was further from that. The further one was good, but had just a hint of Tate’s-ness. (Yes, that’s a word now.) The closer one was also good. It was not exactly like a Tate’s cookie, but it was close. It was buttery, crispy, thin, and delicious.

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I brought some into work for the birthday boy, who happens to be not just a friend but also a coworker. But due to both of us being out of the office for one thing or another for a few days, it wasn’t until several days after his birthday that the cookies made it in. By that point it was also another coworker’s birthday. So, the cookies ended up being for two birthdays. Huzzah! More merriment! More celebration! More omnomnomnomnom.

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They both appreciated the gesture, and really loved the cookies. In fact they loved them so much they, and everyone really, came back for more and more. I mentioned to the Tate’s fan about using their recipe. He said mine were even better. (As he pointed out, one advantage mine had is that they were fresh.) Everyone else loved them as well. I brought in about a dozen and a half, and they were gone very quickly. So quickly in fact that I didn’t really get to make my dessert rounds. So I brought in a bunch more the next day. Those also disappeared quickly. People kept telling me over and over again how good they were. I would have to put these pretty high up on the list of recipes enjoyed by my coworkers.

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They were good, simple, buttery, crispy cookies. I didn’t happen to mention that they were egg-free, and I don’t think anyone had any idea. Aquafaba is generally such a good substitute that no one can tell the difference. Plus, they were just really good cookies. I’m glad I made them. It makes me want to try some more simple recipes.

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Do you have any favorite recipes that wow the crowds but are super simple to make? Do you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe? A favorite style of chocolate chip cookie? Have you been experimenting with aquafaba or other egg substitutes? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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Recipe courtesy of Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook via Bon Appétit.

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Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites

Have I told you that I like pretzels? I know I’ve mentioned potato chips before. I grew up in central Pennsylvania, which is home to lots of potato chip and pretzel companies. So I’m a little bit of a connoisseur of snack foods, if there is such a thing.

While I don’t eat them as often, I am also a big fan of soft pretzels. With the doughy inside and the crunchy outside, what’s not to love, right? How much do I like soft pretzels? On a trip to Germany twenty years ago, I managed to score a real German pretzel. And by real, I mean gigantic. And by gigantic, I mean bigger than my head. That’s not an exaggeration. I have the photo. I don’t remember what tasted it like or how long it took me to eat it, but I’m sure the answers are “delicious” and “not that long considering the size”.

Mixing the dough.

Mixing the dough.

In all of my baking adventures, baking pretzels is one that I had been wanting to do, but hadn’t gotten to yet. My wife even got me a pretzel making kit a while back which included a recipe and some ingredients. One of those ingredients is lye, which is why the kit also includes plastic gloves. I won’t lie, the lye scares me a little bit which is why I haven’t used it yet.

Ready to rise.

Ready to rise.

While I was wanting to make pretzels, I wasn’t intending to at this point. I actually found the recipe by accident as I was looking through my to do list. I was looking at a particular cookie recipe, and on the side of the page there was a picture for this other recipe which caught my eye. It looked awesome. Pretzel-y goodness, check. Adorable mini size, check. Easy looking recipe, check.

It has risen!

It has risen!

So I decided to make this recipe. And in particular, I decided to make it for my gaming group. One of my other hobbies, besides baking, is role-playing games. You know, games like Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a lot of fun. It involves imagination, creativity, teamwork, math, laughter, dice-rolling, and ridiculousness. And usually lots of snack foods. This particular group has been playing together for many years, but hasn’t met in a while. So this was a reunion of sorts, and I wanted to make something for it.

Splitting the dough.

Splitting the dough.

It turns out making pretzels isn’t difficult, but there is a bit of labor involved. There are many steps. Briefly summarized, it’s making the dough, letting it rise, separating and rolling it out, boiling it, salting it, and baking it. Each step was pretty easy, but it does take an investment of time.

Rolling out the dough.

Rolling out the dough.

My good friend KitchenAid helped me make the dough. (We’re not Facebook friends or anything, but we are friends IRL.) This was actually my first time using the dough hook. Fun! (Whirl, whirl, whoosh, whoosh!) As you may know, I’m a big fan of the KitchenAid, and I use it a lot. I just hadn’t had the need for the dough hook yet. I’m glad I did though, as I’ve used the other attachments, and I didn’t want this one to get too lonely.

Cutting the dough into bite-sized pieces.

Cutting the dough into bite-sized pieces.

After making the dough, you let it rise. After an hour, it didn’t look like it had doubled as it should have. So I moved it to a warmer area and let it sit for another 20 minutes or so. While it didn’t look it, in the end it was enough.

Close-up!

Close-up!

I split the dough into 8 chunks (weighing them out to be sure they were even), rolled them all out, and cut them. It was fun! I rolled them out to the suggested 22 inches, but they contracted. The first few I cut, I measured them carefully by using the measurements on the pastry mat, but after that I just eyeballed them.

After being boiled, getting the butter wash, and being salted, they're ready to bake.

After being boiled, getting the butter wash, and being salted, they’re ready to bake.

I didn’t have a good roasting pan to use, so I used a pot to boil them. Adding the baking soda to the water is fun! It’s like a little chemistry set in the kitchen. 🙂 As I was boiling all the pretzels, the water started to turn brown. Pretzel color in fact. I started referring to it as pretzel water, and eventually pretzel juice. I jokingly asked my wife if she wanted to drink any. She humored me, but politely declined. (I think that was the smart choice.)

Pretzels!

Pretzels!

After boiling the pretzels, the recipe calls using for an egg wash, and then sprinkling salt on them. Instead of an egg wash, I used my soon-to-be-world-famous butter wash. I’ve used it in the past, and it’s done the trick quite nicely. I just melted a tablespoon of butter and mixed with some water.

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They looked and smelled delicious while they were baking. I baked them for 15 minutes and they were perfect. The smell in particular reminded me of something, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. And then my wife nailed it: Auntie Anne’s pretzels. It’s a chain of pretzel shops, and I used to eat their pretzels a bunch back in the day. I’m not sure what it was about these pretzels that reminded me of those pretzels in particular, but it was a strong connection.

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In any case, these pretzels were absolutely delicious. The look, smell, taste, and texture are exactly what you want from a soft pretzel. Crunchy, chewy, yummy goodness. I had one fresh from the oven, and I had some later with some deli mustard. Yum all around.

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Since the gaming festivities were the next day, I had to figure out how to store them overnight. After some research, I settled on wrapping them in parchment paper, and storing them in a paper bag. I stapled the bag shut overnight. I had to wait till the next day to see how they survived, to see how they reheated, and how people liked them.

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It turned out that the paper bag worked relatively well for storing them. After much research, I had settled on reheating them by microwaving them with a damp paper towel on top. However, when I actually took them out to reheat, they seemed to have retained much of the moisture, so I microwaved them without a paper towel.

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People were impressed that I had made them, but I don’t think they were as good as they were fresh. Later on, I figured out that I hadn’t microwaved them enough. One minute in the microwave, uncovered, on a plate seemed to be the magic formula. They came out close to fresh at that point.

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Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my wife here for all of her help. Thanks for oiling the bowl while my hands were knee-deep in yeasty dough. And thanks for all of your help with the cleaning, there was a lot.

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The recipe ended up making about 7 dozen pretzel bites. They were a little bit of work, but they were totally worth it. They were fun to make, very yummy, and IMHO, they were very impressive. They looked fancy, cute, and professional. Like real pretzel bites. I kinda can’t believe I just made pretzels.

Sealed up in a paper bag overnight. Btw, Russ & Daughters is an awesome shop. If you're ever in NYC, definitely check it out.

Sealed up in a paper bag overnight. BTW, Russ & Daughters is an awesome shop. If you’re ever in NYC, definitely check it out.

Have you made pretzel bites? Have you made pretzels? What’s your recipe look like? How do you keep them fresh? How do you reheat them? Why are soft pretzels such magical foods and why do they not last so long? These questions and more will soon be answered, with your help!

Recipe courtesy of Two Peas & Their Pod.

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette

This week we take on something different. I know you’re used to seeing lots of desserts here at Needs Baked HQ. This week’s recipe is not sweet, but it’s still delicious. A tart for dinner, you say? A delicious crust wrapped around cheese and vegetables, you say? Yes, I say!

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So what is this galette thing anyway, you might be wondering. Yeah, I was wondering, too. It can be a lot of different things, but this one, as many of them are, is like a tart. But it’s a tart without a tart pan. (See here for more info.) You might notice there’s now a new category on the site called tarts, so I think you can safely assume that there will eventually be more to come.

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So why this galette? One night last weekend we were trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I remembered that I had a leftover pie crust from making the chess pie. So we discussed using that and making some sort of vegetable tart. We looked to see what vegetables we had handy and found that zucchini was our best option. So I did a little poking around on smitten kitchen, which always has great recipes, and I found this one which used zucchini.

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Since I was using the leftover pie crust I had, I didn’t use the crust mentioned in the recipe. It’s also from smitten kitchen, but it’s slightly different than the one in the recipe: a little bit of sugar, no sour cream, no lemon juice. After we settled on making this, I took the dough out of the freezer and put it in the fridge so it could defrost but still stay chilled as the recipe required. By the time I got started it hadn’t quite defrosted, so I took it out of the fridge to defrost the rest of the way.

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As far as the rest of the ingredients went, we didn’t actually have two zucchinis, we had one zucchini and one squash, but we figured they would play nice together. I used some pre-minced garlic we had, which was super easy. We actually had to go out and get all the cheeses. But, since we went for a nice afternoon walk through the neighborhood anyway, we just stopped and picked up the cheeses on the way home. We also got some sausages to have with it. I didn’t get any fresh basil, I just used dried basil which we already had.

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I didn’t do an egg wash. As you may know, I generally don’t have eggs around and I didn’t want to get any just for this. I remembered doing a cream wash before, but I didn’t have any cream either. I figured butter might be close, so I melted some butter for a butter wash.

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My wife cut up the zucchini and squash, salted it, and let it drain. (Thanks hon!) I blotted it dry and put it into a bowl to make space on the counter. I then mixed the olive oil and garlic, followed by mixing the cheese mixture.

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By this point, the dough had been defrosting for a while, so I figured it was ready. I took it out of the plastic wrap it was in and started rolling it out. It was hard to work with. It was still a little frozen, or at least really cold, as it wasn’t really malleable. After working with it for a few minutes it finally started behaving, but by that point it had absorbed a lot of flour, which I had needed to use to keep rolling it out. (I probably should have just let it sit some more, but the evening was moving forward with it or without it, and I figured the evening would go better if we actually had something for dinner.) I rolled it out on my pastry mat which has all the sizes right on it, making it easy to measure.

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I covered a baking sheet in parchment paper, and I carefully moved the dough onto it. It was a little messy, and the dough was a little weak in places, but I got it moved. I spread out the cheese mixture, arranged the zucchini and squash, and drizzled the garlic/olive oil mixture on top. Then I folded up the dough. I melted a little butter, mixed it with some water, and used it as a wash over the dough.

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I baked it for 30 minutes, but it seemed like it needed a few more, so I baked it for 5 more. The dough didn’t look quite as brown as in the pictures with the recipe. However, I did use a different dough and a different wash, so those probably made the difference. Also, the zucchini/squash juices were kinda everywhere. I don’t know if I should’ve patted the vegetables dry again right before I used them. I also don’t know if the dough being a little weak in places is why it oozed out. I blotted the top of it with a paper towel and wiped up around the sides. Then I sprinkled on some dried basil and carefully slid it onto a dish for serving.

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It looked fantastic and it smelled great too. I felt very European. And I have to say, it was delicious. Yummy vegetables, yummy cheeses, yummy dough. I was worried that the pie dough might be a little sweet, but it wasn’t. It all worked together perfectly. And the sausages were a great choice to go with it. My only real complaint was that at some point it was gone. 🙂 My wife said it was delightful, and she wished we could have one every week. She also described it as “what pizza wants to grow up to be.”

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While I don’t know if we’ll have one every week, I would totally make one again. It was fairly straightforward, very delicious, and a great answer to the eternal question of “What’s for dinner?”. It also made me want to bake more for dinner. How about you? Do you have any favorite dinnery dishes? Any savory servings to share?

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Dough recipe courtesy of smitten kitchen. Galette recipe also courtesy of smitten kitchen.

Lime Cornmeal Cookies

Someone deserves a prize for coming up with the idea of using cornmeal in cookies. I’m not talking Nobel Peace Prize level of prize, but something would be nice. It was an excellent idea, and it surely wasn’t mine. I don’t think I would have even tried it if not for the proliferation of recipes I found. (Who knew there were so many?) I just wanted to make something with cornmeal, as I had wanted to use up the cornmeal I had gotten for the chess pie. In that search, I practically ran headfirst into this recipe. Figuratively, of course. Spoiler alert: it turned out to be an excellent cookie, but it didn’t use up that much cornmeal.

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I had walked out the door to go grocery shopping without having looked recently at the recipe, and without having it with me. Silly me. I knew I needed limes, but not how many. I got a bag of organic limes, and I figured I could use the rest another time if needed. Actually, while making it, before even tasting them my wife suggested I make a double recipe. In retrospect it would have been a good idea, but I wanted to try them out once first. I only ended up using two limes, but that’s okay. (I wonder what I’ll do with the rest of the limes?)

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I didn’t have eggs handy, and I didn’t want to get any just for this so I used aquafaba. It’s an egg substitute, and it’s really just the liquid left from a can of beans. It works great, it doesn’t taste like beans in the final product, and you would never know it’s in there. (You can read more about my previous adventures with aquafaba here.) And, as a special bonus, we ended up using the beans for dinner that night as well. (We made a slightly modified version of the White Bean Fritters recipe here.) Yay planning! Yay synchronicity!

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So I zested and squeezed one lime at the beginning of the recipe. I got just about 2 tbsps zest and plenty of juice. I used 1 tbsp zest in the recipe and the other almost tbsp for the sugar mix for rolling. I used 1 tbsp juice as needed and saved the rest for later.

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It was easy to put together. I chilled the dough right in the mixing bowl. It took some finagling to get the dough into a 12 inch roll. I wrapped it up in wax paper and kept squeezing, squishing, and measuring until I got it to the right size. It wasn’t exactly round, but it was close enough. I wrapped plastic wrap around the wax paper.

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I had started it early in the day as it needed to rest in the fridge for a while (1 hour and then 8 more hours). I almost put it in the freezer for less time or took it out sooner, but I ended up getting caught up in other stuff so I wasn’t ready for it until the full time frame had passed anyway.

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After its time chilling, I took it out of the fridge. I then mixed up the sugar and reserved zest. It didn’t seem like a lot. I removed the plastic wrap and unrolled the wax paper. I poured the sugar mix out and rolled the dough in it, but since it wasn’t quite round, it needed some assistance. I ended up scooping up the sugar mix with my hands and pouring it over the dough. Then I patted it in, rotated the dough, and repeated. It turns out it was a lot. Plenty in fact.

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With the dough all ready, I started cutting slices. I had an idea of how big they should be after making the world peace cookies. It was a pretty similar setup all around.

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The first round I baked for about 10 minutes. They didn’t seem quite done, so I baked them for another 30 seconds or so. That first round might have been a tad bit undercooked. The second round got a tad bit overcooked, as I got caught up in something right when I should have taken them out. The third round was better (spot on, I think) which was about 11 minutes. Despite the differences in baking times, they were all good in the end.

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I let them cool, and I made the glaze. I zested another lime and juiced it. I used up all the zest as the recipe asked for, but between that lime and the juice I had left from the first one, there was plenty of juice. I used 3 tbsps plus a few more tsps to get it to the right consistency.

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I put wax paper under the cooling rack and spooned the glaze on. The first few got maybe a bit too much, which left not quite as much for the last few, but they all got covered in the end. A little uneven but okay. I’m glad I put down wax paper as it was a big ol’ mess underneath. I let them cool.

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After they cooled, we tried them. Wow. The lime was awesome. They have a nice texture, a little crunchy but still chewy. You can taste the cornmeal, and it works very well. The cookie is not super sweet, but the glaze is pretty sweet. They go well together. With the lime in the cookie, surrounding the cookie, and in the glaze, if you don’t like lime, this is not the right cookie for you. I wasn’t expecting these to be anything special, so I was pleasantly surprised. They were really good.

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The next day, after sitting in the fridge overnight, the glaze was much less sticky. Since that made it easier to travel with them, I decided to bring some in to work. Everyone at work really enjoyed them. One person referred to them as “crack”. After tasting one and enjoying it immensely, someone who was visiting from another office was very jealous upon finding out that I made baked goods regularly. There was some discussion again about stealing me for that office.

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So I would highly recommend these. They’re very good. And they’re easy, even with the lime zesting and juicing. The glaze is a little sweet, so if you want something less sweet, you could probably put in less sugar. But they’re very good as is. Do you have any good recipes with lime to share? I’d love to hear them!

Recipe courtesy of Half Baked.

Chocolate Pie Sticks

Who likes pie? I’ll just assume all your hands went up. Who thinks tiny versions of bigger things are fun and adorable? I’ll just assume the same thing again. One more question: who likes chocolate? I know, three for three, right? Well, have I got a treat for you. This week’s post is about an adorable recipe called chocolate pie sticks. In case you’re wondering what it is, it’s probably exactly what you think it is.

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I wish I could take credit for coming up with such an incredibly simple and awesome idea, but alas, I cannot. I will take credit for being inspired to make them, however. The impetus for making these was a visit from a co-worker. I work in the NYC office of a company, and the company’s other big office is in Los Angeles. My boss and his counterpart in the LA office came up with the idea of an exchange program so that everyone could learn how the other office works. This visit was part of that plan.

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Since he was coming all that way, I thought it would be nice to make something in his honor. You know, welcome him to the other side of the country. Also, we have these weekly conference calls with both offices, and the NYC team is always boasting about my baked goods. So I thought it would be nice to let him share in that.

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The recipe was originally designed to use up scraps of dough leftover from making a pie. However, I didn’t have any pie scraps sitting around, so I made a batch of pie dough from scratch. This recipe came with its own pie dough recipe, in case you needed it, but I decided to go with my standby pie dough recipe from smitten kitchen.

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The dough was quick and easy to make, as usual. I followed the recipe as is, except I used half butter and half shortening in order to use up some shortening I had left. Also, I only let it sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes to chill, instead of the hour recommended. (I was making these at night, and I didn’t want it to be too late of a night.)

With the cream wash and sprinkled with sugar.

With the cream wash and sprinkled with sugar.

I rolled out the dough. I kinda measured it. (In retrospect, I could’ve just used the ruler on the pastry mat as a guide.) I cut the dough and lined up the resulting dough strips. It was fun to put together. To make assembly easier, I got little ramekins to hold the different ingredients in: water, chocolate chips, sugar, cream. Once I had the chocolate chips all lined up in a row, the adorable factor was off the charts.

The first batch, fresh from the oven.

The first batch, fresh from the oven.

I had a little problem with sealing the chocolate inside the two layers of dough to make the pie sticks. I’m not sure what the issue was. Possible reasons I could think of were: not chilling the dough long enough, the composition of the dough (that is, using shortening), and not working quickly enough. The second round was easier than the first, because I went back and re-applied water to the top layer in order to stick the layers together better.

The second batch, fresh from the oven.

The second batch, fresh from the oven.

Then I pierced them with a fork. I applied a wash on top, but I used a cream wash instead of the egg wash called for in the original recipe. (The car wash was not available.) Then I sprinkled sugar on top. (A spoonful of sugar helps the chocolate go down?) The pie sticks were hard to move. So after the first couple were a little bit of a mess, I waited to move the rest until after sealing them.

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Again, I’m not sure which reason (see above, or maybe that they were too big), but it took forever to bake them. The original recipe called for 12-15 minutes. I kept doing it in 2 minute increments after that, so as not to overcook them. I lost track on the first batch, but I think it was 23 minutes. The second batch I baked a little longer, maybe 25 minutes. The second batch seemed like it was cooked better.

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I got 18 individual strips which made 9 pie sticks from the first batch, and 18 strips from the second batch, so 9 more. Plus 2 extra not well-formed pieces which made one more, for a total of 19 pie sticks.

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They looked nice. They weren’t as pretty as the pictures from the original recipe, but they were pretty good. The second batch was better looking than the first, I think from having let them bake longer to get that nice golden brown color. I let them cool. I tried one, the “extra” one from the second batch. It was very good. It was like a portable chocolate pie you could eat with your hands. They were simple to make, but tasty.

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I brought them into work. Everyone loved them. The coworker I specifically made them for really enjoyed them. So much so, that he came back for seconds. A couple of people asked for the recipe. One person even commented that they were like something you would get in a bakery. I work with such nice people. 🙂

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So if you’re looking for a way to use up leftover pie dough, this is a great recipe to have in your toolkit. And even if you’re not, it’s worth making some pie dough just for the occasion. But what about you? Do you have any great recipes for using up pie dough? Any creative ideas for miniaturized versions of bigger desserts? The world wants to know!

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Recipe courtesy of Domestic Fits.

Pie dough recipe courtesy of smitten kitchen.

Chocolate Potato Chip Cookie Bars

Welcome to another special birthday edition of Needs Baked! I like baking for people. It’s fun. It’s a great gift. And people generally love it to pieces. You might remember the things I’ve made for different people’s birthdays. Like this cake, or this pie, or these cupcakes.

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So this time it was for a new friend’s birthday. I wanted to make something, but I don’t know him all that well yet. I consulted someone who knows him better. She said he had no real preferences, but he likes chocolate. As far as chocolate goes, this recipe is one I’ve had my eye on for a while. It’s salty, it’s sweet. It’s snacky, it’s desserty. And it’s not your average dessert. So it seemed like a good choice.

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

I still had no eggs, but I had plenty of aquafaba left from last week’s recipe, so I used that here. I wanted to avoid using the mixer, as I didn’t want to clean it. (It was late and my regular dishwasher was fast asleep.) So I melted the butter to make it easier to incorporate. I know that’s cheating a little bit, but I hope you’ll forgive me. I accidentally melted it too much. It was very liquidy, so it made the resultant mixture very liquidy. (Don’t worry, it turned out okay.)

Fresh out of the oven.

Fresh out of the oven.

The recipe calls for a tablespoon of vanilla. At first I thought that was a misprint. So I tried it with a teaspoon. After testing, it seemed okay to add more, so I ended up using a whole tablespoon after all. As a side benefit, I finally made it to my last bottle of vanilla! I know that sounds weird, so let me explain. At one point I had three bottles of vanilla, which is more than anyone should probably have unless you’re running a secret underground vanilla league. It all started off innocently enough. I had one, but I wanted to get ahead of it before I ran out, so I got some more. I then promptly forgot that I had already bought some more and got more again. So you can see I wasn’t trying to corner the market on vanilla. It was purely accidental. But I finally finished my last extra bottle and am now on my last bottle. Which is a big deal, considering you only use like a teaspoon or so for a recipe. Which means I made a lot of recipes to use up that much vanilla. Yay me! (It’s the little things.)

If you look closely, you can see the chips.

If you look closely, you can see the chips.

It was fun crushing all the potato chips. I didn’t know quite how much I would need to crush. I crushed just what I had in the bag. It turned out to be almost exactly the right amount. I was just a tiny bit shy of the amount for the top.

Mmm. Chocolate topping.

Mmm. Chocolate topping.

Putting it into the baking dish, it was a little greasy. That’s because the butter hadn’t combined properly (see melting above), but it was fun smooshing it in nonetheless. (Yes, smooshing is an industry term.) It looked and smelled lovely as it was baking. It came out with a nice golden color. I let it cool on a cooling rack.

See how it spreads? Nice and smooth.

See how it spreads? Nice and smooth.

Then I made the topping. That was fun, too: melty, melty, smooshy, smooshy. I ended up microwaving it for 1 1/2 minutes. It ended up almost like frosting. There was plenty to go around, and it was smooth and easy to spread.

More chips on top. Because, why not?

More chips on top. Because, why not?

I tried to press in the potato chips on top (easier said than done), as I had a feeling many would fall off while eating. It was a challenge, but it was definitely the way to go. At this point, I put it in the fridge to set. It was late (I had started on it late), so I let it set overnight. Overall, it was very easy and fun to make.

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The next day, I took it out while we went out grocery shopping. (You can’t make cookies without getting groceries sometime.) By the time we got back, it had gotten to room temperature. Much easier to cut it that way. The recipe said you should get 16-20 cookies out of it, but it seemed like they would be very big cookies. For my millionaire’s shortbread, I would get 50 cookies out of something that big. These probably weren’t going to be as rich, but still. I ended up with 30. I cut them a little unevenly, but that was okay as some people like bigger cookies and some like smaller.

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We were bringing them to the birthday boy’s celebration later that evening, but we needed to try them first. You know, to make sure they were okay. The lengths I go to for quality control. 😉

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They’re nice. Rich, buttery, and not overly sweet. My chief taste tester said it was kinda like birthday cake (which is fitting). It’s a moist cookie and the fudge topping is like frosting. It reminded her of childhood. I definitely enjoyed the salty with the sweet. And there was a nice texture difference. Yum!

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How did they go over? Quite well. The birthday boy was very touched. He really enjoyed them. Another guest described them as “like a picnic in my mouth”. My wife was right. People at parties at bars really like desserts. And everyone seemed to particularly enjoy the chocolate and potato chips together, so it was definitely a good choice.

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So, easy and fun recipe? Check. Delicious results? Check. An ingenious way to get your daily recommended allowance of snack foods all together? Check. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes. And if you have any other salty and sweet recipes up your sleeve, feel free to share!

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Recipe courtesy of A Spicy Perspective.

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

When someone gets a new job, people will often celebrate with dinners and drinks. I imagine in the olden days, or maybe in some industries, that people might give them a new briefcase. I like to celebrate with baked goods.

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This week’s recipe is one such set of celebratory baked goods. These are new job cookies. (Kinda like new car smell, except you eat them, and they’re really hard to drive.) My wife started a new job. Yay! It’s really exciting and interesting, and if you see her, you should ask her about it.

Aquafaba.

Aquafaba.

The cookies, while not as exciting and interesting as her job, are pretty darn good. They’re also pretty easy, what I would call weeknight cookies. By that I mean you can make them on a weeknight, which I did. It was about an hour from start to finish.

D'oh!

D’oh!

Now, if you look closely at the first picture, you might notice a can of garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas. But don’t let that fool you, there are no chickpeas in the cookies. Well, not exactly. I didn’t have any eggs, and since the recipe only called for one egg, it didn’t make sense to get a whole package. So, I decided to try something I had heard of. It’s a vegan egg substitute called aquafaba.

Cookie scoops make easy work out of forming cookies.

Cookie scoops make easy work out of forming cookies.

Don’t let the fancy name fool you. Aquafaba is just the name given to the liquid from a can of chickpeas (or any other bean) that you would normally just discard. I know it sounds weird, but everyone was raving about it. So even though I’m not vegan, I thought I would give it a shot. 3 tbsp of aquafaba equals one egg. The consistency is actually strangely similar to egg whites. And, I hope I don’t spoil the surprise up front by saying so, but it worked out great.

Unbaked cookie close-up.

Unbaked cookie close-up.

Even though I didn’t use eggs, the cookies were not vegan. I used butter, but otherwise they would have been vegan. Vegan butter substitutes are easy to find, so you could easily make these cookies vegan if you wanted to.

Aren't they pretty?

Aren’t they pretty?

I also thought it was awesome that the cookies had to bake at 360 °F. That’s right, 360. Because 350 just wasn’t hot enough. These cookies weren’t too cool for school, they were too hot to trot.

Omnomnomnomnom.

Omnomnomnomnom.

I made a few changes to the recipe, mostly based on what I had on hand. In case you’re following along with the original recipe (linked below), I thought I’d point out some of the changes. I melted the butter before using it, because I thought I would mix the cookies by hand. (I ended up using the hand mixer anyway.) I didn’t have any turbinado sugar, so I used more regular sugar. I was 3 grams short on brown sugar, so I used more regular sugar for that as well. I used sea salt not table salt in the cookies.

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I sometimes use chopped up chocolate as a substitute for chocolate chips. Interestingly enough, this time it was the other way around, as I didn’t have any chocolate bars to chop up, but I did have chocolate chips. I barely had to mix the butter and sugar. The dough did not look crumbly when the recipe said it would. It actually looked fine.

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I used a bigger (2 tbsp) cookie scoop to make the cookies. (The one I got from the competition.) I didn’t fill it quite all the way, but mostly. It made things much easier. And it made the cookies look all pretty and such. I baked them for 12 minutes and ended up with 18 cookies.

Baked cookie close-up. Check out that salt.

Baked cookie close-up. Check out that salt.

Keen-eyed observers might notice there aren’t 18 cookies in the pictures. That’s not because I can’t count, it’s because we ate a few before they were all done baking. (I had made them one sheet at a time.) They were still a little bit warm when we ate them.

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They were nice and gooey on the inside and a little crisp on the outside. They were quite yummy. “These are so good,” my wife kept repeating. There was yummy chocolate with the salt as a nice counterpoint. You would never have known there was anything even remotely related to a chickpea in them. In short, they were delicious.

Cookies like to smile. :)

Cookies like to smile. 🙂

One more thing about the chocolate. You might not be able to tell from the pictures, but these cookies had a lot of chocolate in them. They were hard to pick up without getting chocolate on your hands. As my wife said, “These are chocolate lover’s cookies.” The amount of chocolate to cookie was “a good ratio” as she described it.

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So, if you’re looking for an interesting variation on ye olde favorite chocolate chip cookie, this is definitely worth checking out. If you like a chocolate chip cookie with lots of chocolate, this is definitely worth checking out. And if you’re looking for an egg substitute for any reason, I can heartily recommend aquafaba. And if you’ve got any other interesting chocolate chip cookie variations or egg substitutes, let me know!

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Recipe courtesy of smitten kitchen.

Cinnamon Sugar Mini Donut Muffins

This is part four and, sadly, the end of this cycle of The Buttermilk Chronicles. If you’ve been following along, there have been 3 different biscuit recipes so far. There was the first one (blue cheese and scallion), the second one (gluten-free feta and scallion), and the third one which was straight up buttermilky goodness. I promised you it wouldn’t be all biscuits, though, and today I am keeping my promise. These are silly and delicious little desserts, and they’re very easy to make. They look like a muffin and taste kinda like a donut. The cinnamon and sugar also give them a nice little crunchy texture.

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A few things you should know (about this recipe at least, I can’t speak for your life in general): I used applesauce instead of an egg. I didn’t have any eggs, and I didn’t want to get them just for this recipe, as that might have started a cycle of The Egg Chronicles. (The silver lining would be that it would answer the age old question: which came first the buttermilk or the egg.) I finished up the last of the buttermilk. Kudos to me! Seriously, it took a lot of dedication. I’m not saying I’m ready for a marathon, but I was able to see this through. And I used 1 1/2 tsps cinnamon in the topping. (I almost ran out.)

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This was my first time using my new mini muffin tray. (It’s actually called “petite”, which is slightly bigger than mini. Who knew?) I didn’t have floured cooking spray, so I used regular cooking spray and threw some flour on top. It was a little messy. Shocking, I know.

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I used my trusty KitchenAid with the paddle attachment. I can’t remember if I’ve used the paddle attachment before. I use the whisk attachment by default generally. In retrospect, I think some recipes might have asked for the paddle attachment, but I haven’t been paying attention. Oops. Generally applesauce is a good egg substitute. But I could tell after beating it that it wasn’t light and fluffy like it would have been with an egg.

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I filled up the muffin tray. They came up mostly to the top for all 24 in the pan. I tried baking them for 9 minutes, but they didn’t seem ready. I tried the other 2 minutes, but they still didn’t seem ready. I did an extra 2 and they were ready. They smelled nice and cinnamony. (That’s a word, right?) They didn’t rise as much as I thought they should have. I think that was partially because the applesauce didn’t do the same job as the egg. Plus, the tins are a little bigger than mini tins, so they had more space to fill.

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I then made the coating which was easy enough.

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I flipped the tray over to release the muffins. A few fell out, but not all. I tapped it a few times and many more came out. (Mostly right side up! I guess they’re like cats in that way.) The last few didn’t come out on their own. I had to cut around the edges (with a plastic knife of course) to loosen them and remove them. I could see on the bottom of a few of them that the flour residue had baked. So there was probably too much flour in those.

Butter, the first part of the topping.

Butter, the first part of the topping.

Cinnamon sugar, the second part of the topping.

Cinnamon sugar, the second part of the topping.

Dipping them in butter and cinnamon sugar was easy enough, although they seemed kinda small to handle. I almost ran out of topping. The last couple didn’t get quite as much.

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I made them late at night. And so I had to do cleanup late at night. I might bake more if I didn’t have to do any cleanup. Often I don’t have to, as my wife is awesome and does cleanup much of the time. But she was already asleep, and having to do it tonight reminded me that I don’t like doing it so much.

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And for the $64,000 question: how did they taste? I thought they were good, but not amazing. I can think of four things I did different than the recipe: the tin was a different size (petite vs mini), the cooking spray was different (regular plus flour instead of floured spray), I used applesauce instead of an egg, and I baked them a little longer. Of all those, I think it was the applesauce substituting for the egg that caused the problem. They were still good, they were just not light and fluffy and muffiny. (That’s a word, too, right?) They reminded me a little of the apple snickerdoodle blondies. They had a similar flavor, and I had made the same substitution there. And in both cases they were a little bit more spongy than fluffy.

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As I said, I thought they were decent, but not awesome. In the interest of full disclosure, my wife disagreed with me. She thought they were great. And when she took them into work, her coworkers agreed with her. I’m very glad people enjoyed them. I think my only hesitation with them is that I believe that they can be so much more. Perhaps next time I will try them without any substitutions and see how they turn out.

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So thank you for following along with this cycle of The Buttermilk Chronicles. There may be more in the future, for wherever there is Buttermilk, The Chronicles are not far behind. But next week we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming. (As much as any programming on here is regular. 🙂 ) But in the meantime, I’m curious to know: do you have a good egg substitute? Is it applesauce? Is it something else? I always love having more tools in my toolbox, so I appreciate any help you can give.

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Recipe courtesy of Averie Cooks.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Skookie

I’ll be honest, the impetus for this week’s recipe was neither high-minded nor inspirational. As I’m out shopping for food that I need, I sometimes come across food that catches my eye. I often pick it up, not knowing what I’m going to use it for, just knowing that it’ll be fun to use. At this point my cupboards were kinda overflowing with all the random ingredients I had picked up but not yet used. I decided to start cleaning it out, which means making lots of fun things!

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In this case, I went looking for a recipe to use up the peanut butter chips I had. I came across this one. I had heard about skillet cookies before but had never tried them. This “skookie” has a very silly name, but since I’m a silly guy, and it’s a great looking recipe, I thought I would give it a go.

Dough close-up!

Dough close-up!

It’s a pretty straightforward recipe. It was very simple and easy to put together. I used the KitchenAid to mix things up, which meant I could look at the next step while it was mixing. (I don’t think I’ll get tired anytime soon of this thing doing all the work for me.) I made one substitution. I didn’t have any eggs so I used 1/4 cup applesauce instead of an egg. We generally don’t have eggs in the house unless it’s for something specific, and I didn’t want to get a whole bunch just to use one and have the rest go to waste. So while it’s egg-free, it’s not vegan, but making it vegan wouldn’t be hard to accomplish.

Ready to bake.

Ready to bake.

The peanut butter chips kinda clumped together cause they were smooshy and maybe a little melted. Doesn’t bother me at all, they’ll still taste yummy. Because of their color, they also kinda got lost in the batter. You really had to look to see them.

Fresh from the oven.

Fresh from the oven.

I didn’t use butter to grease our cast iron skillet. It was already greased from seasoning it the last time we used it. I did smear the butter from the butter wrapper just for old times sake. Growing up when I was baking with my mom, after adding butter to cookie recipes, we would use the wrappers to grease the baking sheets. Kinda ingenious now that I think about it. I love our cast iron skillet, by the way. It was another wedding present. (Keen-eyed observers will notice we got a bunch of kitchen stuff for our wedding. That’s not a coincidence.) It was a good investment.

After cooling, the middle dropped a bit.

After cooling, the middle dropped a bit.

I baked it for 20 minutes, but it didn’t seem quite right. It was brown and cooked through, but it was still a little jiggly. I put it in for 3 more minutes, and it seemed a little better. It looked and smelled awesome, like one giant cookie. (Thank you as always to my wife for doing the cleanup. It was much appreciated.)

A look inside the skookie.

A look inside the skookie.

I let it cool. It said to serve it warm, but we were about to put dinner together. My wife and I joked that we should have it for dinner. (My joke was loudly proclaiming “Cookie!” in a faux Scottish accent when asked what to have for dinner.) In the end, good sense won out. I think we had pasta.

Skookie or cookie pie?

Skookie or cookie pie?

And when we did serve it, how did it taste? It was very good. Sweet and peanut buttery. I like peanuts as much as the next guy, but I think my wife liked it more than I did. I think it might have been a little too sweet or rich for my tastes, or maybe I just took too big of a piece, but it seemed very sweet. (We cut it in wedges like pie. And my wife lovingly referred to it as cookie pie.) It had a nice, soft, gooey texture even after it cooled. It had a nice crispy bottom and sides. Also, interestingly the middle (well everything but the edges) sank in a little bit as it cooled.

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Oh, and a tasting update! The next day it was yummy still. It had the same soft texture with the edges a little crispy. The sugary taste had calmed down. It was less sweet which was good. It still had a nice peanut buttery flavor. It stayed like that over the next couple of days till we finished it.

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As I said, it was pretty easy to make. I’m sure many of you have also made one, yes? What’s your experience been like? Any favorite skillet cookie recipes to share? Don’t be shy!

Recipe courtesy of Barbara Bakes.