Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Island Style Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love chocolate chip cookie dough.    Seldom do I make chocolate chip cookies.    Primarily because I want to put the dough in a bowl in the microwave until melty and then shovel it in my mouth with a spoon.    
There's another issue.     I've pretty much always been a chocolate chip cookie failure.     The cookies always spread real thin.  Or look overcooked.   Or look undercooked.    In Colorado I also blamed it on the altitude...even when I tried high altitude recipes.
Now that I'm at sea level I don't have that excuse.    I've also noticed a trend on the food blogs that I follow and that's of using corn starch to create "soft batch" style cookies.     And since labeling myself as a chocolate chip cookie quitter is NOT something I'm willing to do - it was time to try again.      I used the base recipe from Averie Cooks for her Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies.  The recipe (and her blog in general) is awesome.  Lots of chocolate is key - you want your friends to say "Are you sure you put enough chocolate chips in these?"  I island-styled these by adding coconut and chopped mac nuts as well.   
I have now moved from chocolate chip cookie failure to success!
What You Need
3/4 cup of butter/margarine (I used margarine), softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 12oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of dry roasted macadamia nuts with sea salt, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
What You Do
Combine the flour, starch and soda in a medium bowl and whisk with a fork.   
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until fluffy.    Keep that fluffy trend going by adding the sugars and beating for 3 minutes (I actually timed myself since I figured my odds of success were greater if I really did follow the recipe).    Add in egg and vanilla. 
Add in the flour mixture and beat for one more minute.     Stir in the chocolate chips, mac nuts and coconut.    I think one of the keys to success in Averie's recipe is scooping the cookies and the chilling them for at least 2 hours.   It really helped to keep the cookies in a nice dense shape rather than spreading all over the place.   I used a small cookie scoop and made 3 dozen cookies (they were about 2 inches wide when baked).
Once your dough has chilled for 2+ hours, preheat oven to 350.   Line your baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.    I put nine cookies on a pan and baked them for 8 minutes (4 minutes and then rotated the pan for another 4).     Let them cool on the cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes and then on a cooling rack until you've either eaten them all or they've actually cooled and you can put them in an airtight container.   
What's your most recent recipe success?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

French Toast with Grilled Pineapple and Coconut Syrup

Since I've moved to the land of endless summer, it's always time for fresh tropical fruit.  

Disclaimer:  it feels like summer to me.   And that's because I'm still used to winter and my blood hasn't thinned yet.   It was in the...wait for it....low 60's this morning.    And that's Maui cold, my friends.

I finally bought a pineapple.     And then I bought some coconut syrup (after trying it on pancakes at The Gazebo, I knew I would want to put it on/in other things).  

I still had some butter rolls left from our upcountry adventure to Komoda's store and bakery.

The answer was French toast.     Was there even a question?

I don't have a real grill, so I sliced up that delicious, sweet pineapple and put it on my little George Foreman.   A few (unscientific) minutes on each side and I was good to go!

What You Need

You can make French toast using your favorite recipe.    If you're using dinner rolls, this is what I did....

5 dinner rolls sliced in half
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

sliced pineapple, grilled
coconut syrup,  I used Old Hawaii Recipes brand
sweetened, flaked coconut for garnish

What You Do

Grill the pineapple - either on an inside electric grill, like the Foreman, or outside on the big kids grill.  It won't take long.

Dip the bread/rolls into the milk/egg/vanilla mixture.    Using a hot griddle (either electric or on the stove top) cook until golden brown on one side (usually just a minute or two) and then flip to the other side.    When both sides of the bread are golden, remove from the griddle.

Serve with grilled pineapple and coconut syrup.     Feel the tropical breezes....even if the polar vortex is in your zip code.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Macaroon Topped Brownies

I've stuffed brownies with macaroons before (but apparently I didn't take a picture....I was just learning then).   I'm living in the land of tropical flavors, I have a camera and I'm not afraid to use it.  

Here in Hawaii coconut is something that most people grew up with.   Haupia is a coconut Hawaiian dessert that is served at luaus and restaurants that serve traditional food or plate lunch.    I don't have to worry when I take a dessert somewhere that there will be a large contingent of people that don't like coconut.     And if you don't like coconut?   I guess there's more for me.

The macaroon topping for these brownies came from the blog Will Cook for Smiles (recipe link here) and it is wonderful.   If you were going Almond Joy style, you could add some almond extract, or silvered almonds.   

What You Need

For the brownies:
Your  choice of brownie mix (family size for a 13x9 pan) - including the eggs, oil and water needed for the batter
1/2 cup chocolate chips

For the macaroon topping:
14 oz bag of shredded coconut
1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk (I used fat free)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs whites
1/4 teaspoon salt

What You Do

Preheat the oven to 350.    Spray a 9x9 silicone baking pan with cooking spray (or line a metal pan with foil and spray).      Prepare brownie mix according to package instructions and spread in bottom of the pan.

Combine the macaroon topping ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined.   Spoon coconut topping over the brownie batter - there is enough to cover the top of the pan.   

Bake for 45 minutes-55 minutes.    Check to see that the brownie is set in the middle (not too much jiggling).  45 minutes worked just fine for me.   Allow to cool before you cut it.    I put mine in the fridge and waited a few hours before slicing.   

These are really rich - small pieces are just fine.   I took most in for a co-workers birthday,  but the ones that got left behind?    My breakfast.    No shame.

Check out my super cute new plates.     They really say island life, don't they?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Komoda Store & Bakery - Makawao, Maui

Stick donuts.

They are in fact a thing.   
A thing that you should try.

As a part of our Upcountry Adventure last weekend, our second stop was the Komoda Store & Bakery in Makawao.     Now, on my own, I probably wouldn't know about this bakery.   Fortunately I was with friends who grew up on Maui and knew about the wonders of stick donuts and butter rolls.    And they graciously shared those wonders with me.

And the requisite proof that I was there.    Enjoying every bite.  

You can learn more about the bakery on Yelp.

Some of my other Maui Eats & Adventures:
Aloha Mixed Plate
The Gazebo
Surfing Goat Dairy
The Lighting of the Banyan Tree

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Aloha Mixed Plate - Lahaina, Maui

I've been doing a lot of eating recently....just not a lot of cooking.

In fact, just today we had an "a hui hou" potluck lunch for a transferring co-worker.    What's a hui hou? It means until we meet again.  Because here in Hawaii we don't say goodbye.  

{Jenni learns Hawaiian phrases....although it sounds similar to "hui hou," "hana hou" means encore or do it again.   For example, if you do a silly dance to Gangnam Style or What Does the Fox Say? and your colleagues think it was great, they may give you the "hana hou"}

I digress.    After my friend and I went whale watching a few weeks ago, we caught a late lunch / early dinner at Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina.  

We had this amazing view from our table.

These fried noodles were awesome.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Gazebo - Napili, Maui

If you come to Maui, odds are someone (a friend, the shuttle driver, hotel employees, or even a random stranger on the street) will tell you to go to the Gazebo for breakfast.     When I told a friend at work that I found a place in Napili, his first response was "Oh, you live close to the Gazebo, their breakfast is great, call ahead and order to go and then eat it on the beach."  

The Gazebo has the same breakfast cache that Snooze has in Denver.   The breakfast is legit and you are almost guaranteed to wait for a table.    And it's a gazebo - so not that big.    Even though we knew better, we decided to eat in and waited for a table.  

We waited with a view of the ocean, so we have no room for complaint.  Did I mention there is coffee while you wait?   It's all good.

Front and center in this picture is a dish that was recommended by multiple people.   

Fried Rice.  
And this was a HALF portion.    A half portion that I'm still eating because there was so much.

Can't say that I've had fried rice for breakfast, but throw bacon, ham and Portuguese sausage in it and it is a hearty entree.    Rice is very popular here in Hawaii for any and all meals.

My other guilty pleasure was the special - Banana Nutella French Toast.    I'm not sure what's in the whipped cream that they put on the pancakes and french toast - heaven in a fluffy format.    YUM. 

The Gazebo is located at Napili Shores on the west side of Maui.

Bottom line?   1.  Get yourself to Maui.   2.  Go out to breakfast.   3.  Enjoy the rest of your day.

Two recipes that show my commitment to Nutella...just for fun:

Wailuku Coffee Company - Wailuku, Maui

My blogging has suffered the past few months.    The whole moving, starting a new job, and living in a hotel for 6 weeks thing.....crazy.     But rest assured that I have been starting to explore Maui restaurants and have added a Hawaii Eats section here on Traveler in the Kitchen to share the love.   If you have recommendations for places to try here on Maui or in Hawaii in general, let me know!
Around Thanksgiving, after being overwhelmed by the number of people at Home Depot and Walmart, I realized I couldn't shop at all and instead needed to go out for coffee.    A co-worker had driven me through Wailuku on the way to the port when we went to pick up my car and coffee shops always catch my eye.
I stopped in at the Wailuku Coffee Company for a peppermint mocha (complete with latte art!) and a wrap.   Both were delicious and I enjoyed relaxing without being sucked into the holiday shopping insanity.    I even got myself a punch card.   I hope to stop by again when I'm in the Wailuku/Kahului area.    
I might even be shopping. (gasp!)
Do you try new coffee shops or do you have a tried and true favorite?

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