Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

July 24, 2013. Read it. Memorize it. Engrave the date into your brain. This is a very momentous day for all of…me.

Okay, I guess I’m a little bit excited to share with yall that I’ve officially started my Fannie Farmer baking journey! My first creation is this decadent, deliciously divine Chewy Chocolate Cookie!

But, before I actually started baking, I decided to read the general information in the cookie chapter of the book. Apparently, there are FOUR different methods for mixing cookie dough. Who knew? But, to save some precious brain space, I decided to consolidate the four methods into just two options:

1) A big wooden spoon

2) Ain’t nobody got time for that big wooden spoon

In the past, I’d always opted for the second option (stand mixer, hand mixer, food processor). Honestly, I didn’t even know you could cream butter and sugar without a mixer (kind of dumb of me since people have been baking cookies long before the invention of electric mixers). But TODAY, the big wooden spoon was calling my name! Actually, it was a big metal spoon. So, with a firm grasp on the metal handle, I furiously beat the butter until it was a pale yellow with a consistency of commercial mayo. Then, I added the sugar and beat it again, even more violently than before, until the mixture was very fluffy and almost white. It was quite the workout – my forehead was literally lined with beads of sweat.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

But boy was the result worth it. I’m sure the cookies would’ve turned out just as soft and chewy with an electric mixer, but creaming the butter and sugar with a spoon gives you that oddly satisfying feeling of having accomplished something the ‘old-fashioned’ way and of having worked out your arms. I may just start mixing my cookie batters with a big wooden spoon from now on (unless I’m super tired or am in the mood to exclaim ain’t nobody got time for that).

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

The cookie lives up to its name. It is chewy. It is chocolaty. It is a cookie.When you first bite into it, you get that slight crunch on the outside, but once it’s in your mouth…oh my goodness, it is SO soft. And then, you’re hit with this rich, chocolate flavor that’s intensified by the tiniest hint of espresso. And then, you’re floating away into chewy chocolate cookie heaven while reaching for the second…the third…the fourth…and the fifth cookie (yes, I ate five) before you even realize what’s happening.

One of my apartment-mates took these to her research lab the next day, and according to her, they were an instant hit – I hear there was some fighting involved. Her lab manager even asked for the recipe. Apparently, she asked for the the recipe again the following day, claiming that she could eat 6 of them right then!

So, here is the recipe! From Fannie Farmer to me to you, Ms. Lab Manager.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies Recipe Card

Kinda Healthy Mini Sweet Potato Cupcakes

Sweet Potato Cupcake Cover Photo

I know I said this blog was to chronicle my journey through The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. So naturally, my first recipe post should be a Fannie Farmer recipe. But…this recipe is NOT one of Fannie Farmer’s 800 baking recipes. I repeat. This is NOT one of Fannie Farmer’s 800 baking recipes.

I know. You must be absolutely APPALLED. But please, let me explain.

My apartment-mate was working out at the student rec center, browsing through one of the magazines on the racks, when she came across a page featuring a recipe for Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Chai Frosting. And really, how can you resist a cupcake? How can you resist a sweet potato cupcake? How can you resist a sweet potato cupcake when it’s staring at you while you’re sweating it away at the gym? [I crave sweets and desserts more when I’m exercising…is that just me?!] Well, she couldn’t resist. She ripped the page out of the magazine and brought it back home.

Mini Sweet Potato Cupcake

Really though. Look at these cupcakes. I would’ve torn that recipe out of the magazine too. Besides, the cupcakes are made with oat flour, egg whites, and a sweet potato (a vegetable)…that means they’re kinda sorta healthy…right?

So, long story short:

a stolen, semi-healthy recipe + sweet potatoes + ingredients already on hand + cravings = HOW COULD WE POSSIBLY NOT BAKE THESE CUPCAKES

Sweet Potato Cupcake 3

It. Was. Delicious. Incredibly moist, and you can actually taste the sweet potato. It’s a bit dense to be considered a cupcake; it’s actually more of a muffin. But, I almost prefer it this way – it’s reminiscent of my favorite Fall classic, the pumpkin muffin. The original recipe calls for oat flour. I didn’t have any on hand, so I just threw some old-fashioned rolled oats into a food processor. This gave the muffin a hearty, chewy texture, which was a surprisingly nice contrast to the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth consistency of the cream cheese frosting.

I made 12 mini-cupcakes with this, and all 12 were gone by the next morning…but no need to feel guilty!

So, without further ado, here’s the recipe!

Sweet Potato Cupcake Recipe Card

My Baking Journey – Explained.

“The Fannie Farmer Baking Book Illustrated.”

Time to illustrate what that actually means.

Ding! The Lightbulb Goes Off

In my 21 years of life, I have owned my fair share of baking books. Some, I bought. Some were gifts. All of them, I looked through maybe once. All of them still look completely new. None of them would be considered a baking compendium.

I tend to look for baking recipes online. I also tend to stick to easy and basic muffins, cupcakes, and cookies. You could say that I’m stuck in a ‘baking comfort zone’ of sorts.

Then, a couple weeks ago, an idea hit me. Why don’t I invest in a comprehensive baking book, and go through each and every recipe in the book? It’ll force me to branch out of my comfort zone and help me to really master and hone all the various baking techniques.

Challenge accepted.

Why the Fannie Farmer Baking Book?

There are literally thousands of baking books out there. How did I choose the perfect book?

I turned to google. Search Term: “Best baking books”

A couple of clicks later, I ended up on James Beard’s Baker’s Dozen – a list of must-have baking books spanning four decades. The Fannie Farmer Baking Book seemed like the most comprehensive baking book on the list, containing chapters on pies and tarts, cookies, cakes, yeast breads, quick breads, and even crackers. Some even hail it as the ‘baking bible,’ a guide for both beginning and experienced bakers alike.

Book chosen.

The Birth of the Tagline

The Fannie Farmer Baking Book is unlike the myriad of modern baking books out there. It doesn’t don fancy, schmancy pictures of baked goods fit to be served at high-end, gourmet bakeries. Marion Cunningham believed that modern baking books placed too much emphasis on “glorious color photographs that makes them seem almost beyond the home cook’s reach.”

Fannie Farmer Illustration

The result? A no frills baking book. The only illustrations you’ll find are like those in the picture above.

But personally, I like to see those “glorious color photographs.” They make my mouth water. They inspire me to bake!

This is when the second idea hit me. If I’m going to be baking everything in the book anyways, why don’t I photograph my creations and make my own illustrated, blog version of The Fannie Farmer Baking Book?

Challenge 2 accepted. Tagline born.

My Baking Journey in a Nutshell

In short, my baking journey will take me through the 800 recipes included in The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. I’m sure it’ll take me years to reach the end of this voyage, but I’m excited to start this trek! No matter how long it takes me, this is not a journey that I will abandon. 800 days of candyfairyfloss, here I come.

Journey embarked


Fannie Farmer Has Arrived!

It’s official!

As of July 19th, 2013, I am a proud owner of  The Fannie Farmer Baking Book – the 1984 edition (If you get the chance, you should definitely read George Orwell’s 1984!) . I ordered a used copy for a mere $4.70 (shipping included) from amazon, and it arrived in just two days (thank you amazon prime)!

Fannie Farmer Baking Book

Here’s my book just casually chilling on the windowsill of my kitchen. It’s in pretty good condition. I kind of like the vintage, used feel of the book.

I spent a good part of my day perusing the book, and I have to say that this book definitely deserves to be on James Beard’s Baker’s Dozen list. I can’t attest to the quality of the recipes yet, but the book is FILLED with helpful tips and information. There’s an entire chapter dedicated to explaining  common baking spices, ingredients, equipment, and techniques – a must-have for the beginning baker.

Also, if you’re a beginning baker, you’re going to love the ‘Basics Master Recipe’ that’s given at the beginning of each chapter. These recipes give you detailed, step- by-step instructions to help you grasp the basic techniques. Even without photographs to supplement the  basic master recipes, the instructions are so descriptive that I can’t imagine messing it up if I carefully follow what it says.

I’m not sure what I’ll bake first…but I’m excited to finally get started!!