Chocolate Chip Cookies 101

Chocolate Chip Cookies 101 | Everything you need to make the best chocolate chip cookies ever. | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

When I was at the University of Vermont studying theater, studio art, English lit, philosophy, photography, Latin, art history and everything else a Liberal Arts Degree offers, I decided to throw a business class into the mix. Truth is, I was just fulfilling a math credit requirement. I learned how to balance a checkbook and some basic—very basic—accounting, which went something like this … don’t spend more than you make! Then the professor had us write a business plan. It was the mid-1980s and I grew up eating Mrs Field’s, David’s and Famous Amos cookies, which were the “gourmet” cookies of the day. While in college I was also the “baker” at a favorite breakfast joint in Winooski, VT and spent my free time baking to relax after classes. So, I wrote my business plan based on a fictitious cookie company called Zoë’s Cookies. I can’t remember how I did in the class, but six months later I was standing on Church Street in Burlington, VT, selling my cookies from a hand pushed cart.

This post is your chocolate chip cookie primer: the result of what I learned making those cookies and the countless batches I’ve baked in the 32 years since then. This post offers a really great chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it is also a Chocolate Chip Cookies 101. I want to explain what the ingredients do to a cookie and how baking can change them. You can tweak your cookies to be just how you like them using my cookie guide towards the bottom of the post. (more…)

Read More

Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Rice Treats for Valentine’s Day

Crispy rice treats recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Need something quick and fun to make with your kids for Valentine’s Day? Really, the kids are just a foil for my own craving to make something silly and delicious. As you may remember, these are not the first crispy rice treats to appear on ZoeBakes. It’s a bit of a thing with me. I pretend I’m doing it for the kids, but I eat most of them. This version (my favorite so far) is inspired by the “compost” cookie at the Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC. I added everything but the kitchen sink: pretzels, oreos, milk chocolate and potato chips. All those sweet and salty snacks tossed with buttery marshmallows are seriously tasty. You can add any of your favorite snack foods to the recipe, just chop them up fairly small, so you can press the treats into a heart shaped cookie cutter.

The winners of last weeks giveaway are announced at the bottom of this post.

(more…)

Read More

Ice Cream Sandwiches for a Heatwave! (Oatmeal Rum Raisin Cookies with Wildflower Honey Ice Cream, and many more!)

Ice cream sandwiches | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

There is a rule in my house, I am only allowed to complain about one MN season, and I have chosen winter. This leaves me in a bit of a conundrum this week when it is going on the 3rd day of 95°, with humidity to match. Do I give up bitching about winter in place of this, or just adopt an all ice cream diet? I have settled on the latter, because griping about winter is the only thing that gets me through it and I love ice cream, so this won’t be much of a sacrifice. I’ll eat it in a bowl, on a cone, in a shake, with or without malt, on top, underneath or inside a dessert (baked alaska), but one of my all time favorite ways to eat ice cream is between two cookies. Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, ginger snap, graham crackers, honey tuile, chocolate meringue, and rosemary shortbread have all been made into ice cream sandwiches in my house.

Here is a recipe for my Oatmeal Rum Raisin Cookies which I paired up with Wildflower Honey Ice Cream. (I have also made this honey ice cream with 3/4 cup slightly crushed, lightly toasted, sunflower seeds and it is outrageous. A little something I picked up at the MN State Fair.) With this combo I can endure the heatwave. For the recipes and more ice cream sandwich combos… (more…)

Read More

Linzer Torte – (aka Jam Biscuits in honor of the Royal Wedding!)

Linzer torte | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

A layer of raspberry jam is spread between a rich, buttery, hazelnut cookie dough. The crisscrossed lattice top is the signature design of what may be the oldest recorded pastry; the Linzer Torte. It was developed in Linz, Austria around the year 1650 and has been made much the same way ever since. Why fix it, if it is perfect just as it is. However, I can rarely leave things as they are, so I made them in bite sized portions.

There is a version of this same dessert in England and they call them Jam Biscuits. Today, after watching the Royal Wedding I think it fitting that we bake something British, even if they originated elsewhere. Check out the Linzer Cookie I made for the Cooking Channel blog, same ingredients, different look!

(more…)

Read More