Trader Joe’s Ready-to-bake Cookie Dough

I don’t think I’ve ever brought home a ready-to-bake cookie dough before. After all, my homemade baked treats are raved about by friends and family–and even requested specifically by coworkers.

However, I’ve been under the weather lately, so the prospect of whipping up a batch of cookies from scratch was overwhelming. So when I saw the tub of chocolate chunk cookie dough at Trader Joe’s last night, I popped it into the cart. Why not give it a try? Even worst-case scenario, it should be more tasty than prepackaged cookies, right? It also gave me an excuse to try out the new Delonghi convection oven that arrived from Williams-Sonoma yesterday.

Getting the timing right took a batch, but even those turned out despite the multiple checks and time increases. The taste overall reminded me of the Specialties cookies that are prevalent in San Francisco. Definitely well worth it for when you want fresh cookies but aren’t in the mood for messing up the kitchen.

Madeleines

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I finally found a madeleine recipe that worked for me… I basically did this, borrowing from an online recipe and from Julia Child's "The Way to Cook"…

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter (plugra) melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a few drops of lemon juice

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Paint madeleine tin with a flour and melted butter mixture (1 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp plus 1/4 tsp melted butter).

2. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add vanilla extract and lemon juice to butter. Combine the eggs and sugar in a sauce pan. Place pan on low heat and beat the mixture with a whisk or electric beaters until thick and pale yellow. Remove the pan from the heat and continue to beat the mixture until cooled slightly and increased in volume.

3. Add the egg and sugar mixture to the sifted flour, then add in the butter, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Fold all ingredients in quickly until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the madeleine tin.

4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden. Carefully remove from the tin and place on a wire rack until cold. OPTIONAL: Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Carolyn’s 7-Layer Brownies

The tastiest treat in our cookie exchange, other than my stars, of course, were these fabulous 7 Layer Brownies:

1. Melt 1 stick of butter in 9"x13" pan, then add the following layers:
2. 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
3. 1 cup of grated coconut
4. 3/4 of a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips
5. 3/4 of a 12 oz bag of butterscotch chips
6. 1 cup chopped nuts (Carolyn used pecans)
7. Pour 1 can of sweetened condensed milk over the top

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for nugget style brownies.

I mean, how can any recipe that starts off with melting an entire stick of butter *not* be fabulous???

Pound Cake French Toast

This is a  fast and easy dessert that sends your guests home with a warm happy feeling (and the impression you slaved over it.)

Pound Cake French Toast

1 slice pound cake* about 1/2 inch thick per person having dessert
2 eggs
2 TBSP half and half
1 TBSP grand marnier**
1 square dark chocolate per slice of pound cake
butter
powdered sugar
real maple syrup

In a wide bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, and grand marnier. Melt butter (1-2 tsp) over medium heat in a pan large enough for both slices of cake. Grate chocolate squares and keep chocolate close by. Lay each slice of cake in the bowl, coating each side with the egg mixture. Place coated cake in the pan. When first side is lightly browned, turn over. Sprinkle the chocolate on the top of the cake and cook until done. Serve with sifted powdered sugar and maple syrup on top.

* You may use previously frozen pound cake if your neighborhood bakery ruins their pound cakes with raisins and such.

** I suppose you could substitute orange juice, but I wouldn't. And don't even think of using cheap triple sec; it'll ruin everything. Pony up the $3 for the single serving size of the grand marnier at your friendly neighborhood bodega.