"Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived."
-Jean Luc Picard

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

RECIPE: $plurge Cookies

This is a recipe I have been tweaking with since the summer. I shared some of these cookies with other people, and I've had several requests for the recipe so I think it is a keeper!

I started calling these $plurge cookies because they are a little more expensive to make than my usual chocolate chip cookie recipe. I like to buy my vanilla beans in bulk, which really helps to make using real vanilla beans in recipes an affordable luxury. Here's a link to the beans I bought last summer- JR Mushrooms & Specialties. The current price is $29.95 for a half pound of beans. If you scroll down on the product page, you will see that they are currently offering free shipping. JR Mushrooms & Specialties also offers their vanilla beans in other quantities as well.

You are going to need a food processor for this recipe. A large one is best, but if you only have one of the smaller kind, I'll tell you how to make these using that and your mixer. The recipe for these is at down at the bottom of this post.

For those of you with a large food processor, place your vanilla beans and brown sugar in the work bowl, and process until it looks like...

this. Click on the picture to enlarge it if you would like this up close. For those of you who only have a small food processor, see the starred portion of the recipe below.

Now, add your butter and process until it looks like...

this. Can you see all the little vanilla bean flecks? Mmmmm!

Now, add your eggs ( you know to crack those individually into small bowl first in case you get a bad one, right?) and vanilla extract to the work bowl and process until it looks like...

Holy Crap! Thank you Snads, for reminding me to add sunscreen and oranges to my grocery list. Meanwhile, you want to process your batter until it looks like...


Next, add your flour, baking soda, and salt to the work-bowl, and once again, process until it looks like...


Place your chips/candy and nuts in a large mixing bowl. My chocolate chips have that white appearance because they have bloomed. Unfortunately, my pantry is not air-conditioned so it does gets pretty warm in there most of the year. Sorry about that!

Scrape the batter into the bowl of chips/candy and nuts, and stir until combined.

Portion out your dough as indicated below. I prefer to bake these a few at a time because there is nothing better than cookies right out of the oven! Just store the remaining dough in a covered container in your refrigerator, and be sure to bake all the dough within a few days of making it.

Let them cool a bit, and scarf them down!

$plurge Cookies
3 whole vanilla beans
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups peanut butter chips or Reese's Pieces or replace all of the chips with 3 cups of the chocolate/peanut butter swirled ones
2 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, place your nuts and chips/candy and set aside.

Place the vanilla beans and brown sugar in the work-bowl of your food processor and pulse until the beans are finely ground. ( If you still have a few larger bits left don't worry!) Add the butter and pulse until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and pulse until smooth. Add your flour, baking soda, and salt and pulse until smooth. Scrape out the dough into the mixing bowl with the chips/candy and nuts, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets in (approximately) 2 tablespoon portions and bake for about 10 minutes. They should still be soft so let them sit on the pans till they stiffen up a bit before trying to remove them from the pans.

I use two 18" x 13" half sheet pans for these when I bake them all at once, and I bake each pan alone to get the best results.

*****If you only have a smaller food processor, place the vanilla beans and as much as the brown sugar that will fit, into the work-bowl, and process until the beans are finely ground. Then, place all of the brown sugar and butter in your mixing bowl and beat until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed. In another smaller bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat the flour mixture into the sugar/butter mixture until well incorporated.

If you have dough hooks, put those on and work in the chips/candy and nuts. If you don't have dough hooks or don't want to use them, just stir the chips/candy and nuts mixture into the cookie dough. Bake as directed above.

Curveball At 12 O'clock

Some of you have probably noticed that I haven't been blogging or visiting your blogs very much lately. At first, I was kinda in a funk and was just keeping myself busy doing other things, then Mr. Hairball came home last month with some bad news. His employer has decided not to renew his contract at work, which means that he will be out of job in a few months.

Even in a good economy, his field is highly competitive and there are always more people than jobs to go around. Needless to say, we were not happy at this turn of events. He's already found some positions he can apply for and is spending his evenings looking for another job.

I've already informed some of my relatives which really is a trying experience to say the least. While I've explained this to my relatives numerous times, they still don't understand that the rules for finding a job in career field A can be very different than the rules for finding a job in career field B. I'm all for thinking outside of the box, but if the employers in your field are box people, you gotta learn to play their game unless you are in the enviable position of being a hot commodity. If one of my relatives tells me one more time that Mr. Hairball just needs to do XYZ, which is something that is just not done in his field, I think I'm going to scream.

Here's the deal, I don't want this to become the main topic of my blog because you all have your own problems to worry about. Also, the way things work in Mr. Hairball's field is that you hurry to get all your stuff in and then you ever so impatiently wait for news. We likely won't know anything till January (yes, January!) at the earliest. If I get five or more comments saying that you want to know what happens, I'll do a post when I know something. If less than five of you are interested, then you can always email me (check my profile) and I will email you back when I know something. Deal?

Okay, now lets make some cookies as butter, pecans, and chocolate chips are the cure for everything that ails you!! Whoot!