Sunday, February 26, 2012


Actually got out the real camera today after a long period of it serving only as a bookend on my desk.  Our apartment gets such lovely light in the afternoons when it's sunny, and it so rarely is sunny in the winter in Chicago that I felt inspired to take a few pictures.  Above is a better picture of Cutie Tree as he sits at the corner of the living room and kitchen, and to the right is our bar.  It's hard to see in this shot, but we've amassed quite a respectable collection of barware, mostly sourced from the Brown Elephant with a couple of choice new and vintage pieces.  It's one of my favorite elements of our apartment.

But the real reason I got the camera out today is that Jeff asked me to make him chocolate chip cookies.  I rarely cook before the sun sets, so it was such a good opportunity to take shots with proper natural lighting.

I've also been wanting to talk about those strange brown cones you see above---unrefined sugarcane juice, which you will typically find under the names rapadura or piloncillo at Latin American markets.  This is the real brown sugar---an intense caramel that adds rich depth of flavor that processed "brown sugar" can't even begin to approach.  It takes quite a bit of effort to use, as those cones are hard as rocks and require a stone mortal and pestle and a strong arm to pound them into fluffy brown sugar, but it's well worth it.  You will inevitably be left with a few pebble-sized chunks of rapadura, as you see in the dough below, which will only melt and leave pockets of carmel-y ooze amidst the chocolate.  Of course, like all chocolate chip cookies, these will be best eaten while still warm.

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies (really)

1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of rapadura, finely ground
1/2 cup of azucar morena, or other light unrefined sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 1/2 cup semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 300 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Mix together wet ingredients (either by hand or with a stand mixer) until well-blended.  If using a mix, remove the bowl, and mix in the dry ingredients by hand, only stirring enough to bring it all together.  Use a small spoon or, preferably, your hands to drop 1 inch balls of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for about 15-18 minutes until just beginning to brown.  Finish with a generous pinch of coarse sea salt sprinkled over each cookie.

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