the sweetest thing(s).

josh and i hosted a shabbat dinner on friday night. there's something divinely comforting about ending the dizzying work week with a large, warm, spirited gathering of loved ones. especially when i get to feed them. shabbat is supposed to be a blessing. a sacred day we separate from all the other days of the week for rest. and though cooking dinner for 11 people in a kitchen with one foot of counter space and no dishwasher probably doesn't quite qualify as rest, it certainly rounds out my week with a kind of harmonious sweetness i haven't yet found sitting under florescent lighting in the not-quite-comfortable-enough spinning chair at my office. so shabbat sweetens my week and reminds me to pause and be grateful for all my blessings. like these trees, which are the last holdouts of vibrant color on my newly pathetically bare tre-lined street.

so in honor of gratitude for sweet things, i'm going to write about the dessert recipes from friday night...

i went to visit my grandparents for dinner on monday evening. i'll write more about them another time, but suffice it to say they are two of the most brilliant, fascinating, loving, and admirable people this world has known. my grandfather and i got into a meaningful conversation about the merits of pie, a subject about which we are both quite passionate. in fact, it was at their summer home that i discovered my glorious, important relationship with pie as we spent evenings in their kitchen over open boxes of the farm stand's daily bounty of peach, cherry, strawberry rhubarb, apple crumb, with nothing but forks, bronzed skin, and summer appetites. the question at hand on monday was whether apples should be sliced thinly and stacked together in fantastic little piles of sweet cinnamony tartness inside the pie, or cut into large, soft, juicy, dissolve-on-your-tongue pieces that seem to float around in the pie. i am a supporter of the former. i believe my grandfather is yet undecided. so i had pie on my mind all week, and by wednesday i was thinking about nestle tollhouse pie, which was certainly one of the top three desserts served at the two dining halls at my college and possibly one of the top five most indulgent pies in existence. it is impossible to pretend that it's even remotely healthy (and yes, i do like to think of pie as remotely healthy. it's frequently made with fruit, is it not?) because inside the soft, buttery enclosure of crust is a luscious, gooey filling of... chocolate chips!!! the dining hall frequently ruined the pie with horrible walnuts, which i had to pick out with a fork in order to enjoy my fill, and i would make no such mistake with my pie. it's all butter and chocolate for me.

i began with this recipe, though i didn't read it carefully enough before i bought a prepared pie crust that was certainly not unbaked. i didn't add the italics for emphasis. it was right there in recipe i didn't consult before my trip to the grocery store where i bought nilla wafer crust cause i couldn't find graham cracker. but i googled "can you bake a nilla wafer prepared pie crust?" and i got the answer i was looking for. phew.

ingredients for the pie:

prepared pie crust. baked or unbaked.
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter*
2 cups chocolate chips**
*i actually softened it this time! the top of my oven gets alarmingly hot when the oven is on, which it was pretty much all of friday afternoon, and i sat the butter on top and it softened right up.
**i used 1 cup ghirardelli milk chocolate chips and 1 cup ghirardelli dark chocolate chips. a very good combination. the truth is that you can use any kind of chips, including peanut butter, butterscotch, etc.

to make the pie:

1. preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. beat the eggs until they start to foam and then add in the flour and both the sugars and the butter. and then stir in the chocolate chips. and then scrape it all into the pie shell. that's it.
3. bake it for 55 to 60 minutes and then take it out of the oven and start smiling because you've just make a chocolate chip pie!
i had already decided i had to make ice cream to go with the pie. though i consider myself impressively capable of eating excessively rich and decadent desserts, i thought better of serving caramel or chocolate or peanut butter ice cream with this pie. some people just can't handle sweets the way i can. so i made a classic. vanilla. i used this recipe but decided to make a custard.

ingredients for the ice cream:

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

to make the ice cream:

1. combine the cream, milk, and sugar in a pot over medium heat. stir occasionally until the sugar dissolves. don't let it boil. it should thicken enough to coat a spoon in just a few minutes.
2. whisk the eggs together in a bowl.
3. slowly pour about a cup of the heated cream, milk, and sugar mixture into the eggs and stir to combine. you're doing this so the eggs won't scramble. because scrambled egg ice cream sounds disgusting.
4. pour the cream, milk, sugar, and egg mixture back into the pot and reduce the heat to low. whisk it together until it's combined and then remove it from the heat and let it cool. it has to cool off considerably before i can put it in the ice cream maker, so i put it in a bowl in the freezer to expedite things.
5. when it's cool, pour it right into your ice cream maker and let the magic happen. then transfer it to a container and let it harden in the freezer.

chocolate chip cookie pie. check. vanilla ice cream. check. perfectly balanced dessert. check.

somehow, it didn't seem like enough.

i always worry i'm not making enough.

we always have leftovers.

i stood frozen in my kitchen for a few minutes, wondering if it would be completely insane to make another dessert. i decided that it would only be mildly wacky, and since i already had chocolate chips left over from the pie, i went for it. chocolate chocolate chocolate cookies. my favorite thing to whip up when i'm worried i don't have enough dessert. i make them a lot. i always use this recipe, though on friday i scaled it back from 48 to 18 cookies, because like i said, i'm not completely insane. and i tweaked it. surprise, surprise. the metrics came out a little funky, which can happen on when you change the serving size, so bear with me.

ingredients for the cookies:

6 tbsp softened butter (microwaved this time)
1/2 cup and 1 tbsp sugar
1 egg (or 3/4 of an egg if you can manage that)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp instant coffee
1 cup chocolate chips

to make the cookies:

1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. beat the sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl until they look fluffy.
3. stir the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and instant coffee in a separate bowl and then add this mixture to the butter mixture until it's all combined and stir in the chocolate chips. i used the same milk and dark chocolate chips i used for the pie, and just like in the pie you can use whatever kind of chips you fancy.
4. place tablespoon sized gobs of batter onto ungreased cookie sheets with at least 1 inch in between each gob.
5. bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until they don't look wet anymore.

and there you have perfectly chocolaty, moist, decadent little cookie chunks that never fail to please.
and chocolate chip cookie pie.
and vanilla ice cream.

sometimes leftovers are a very good thing. sometimes they're just what you need for a saturday afternoon snack. like i said, we have no dishwasher. we earned it.


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