As much as I’d like to gracefully sidestep any acknowledgement of the fact that I’ve neglected my blog for so many months, I simply can’t do so without feeling like I’m ignoring an outstandingly large elephant in the room. So there, I’ve acknowledged it, and with that I’ve forgiven myself for my careless neglect of my corner of the blogosphere. Phew, glad we got that out of the way!
As one might presume, this final semester has been the most demanding and educational one by far. I’ve just recently completed my first full-time student teaching placement in a nearby rural town, and have since begun my second full-time placement in the dynamic city of Buffalo. It was a rather abrupt transition from an elementary rural setting to an intermediate inner-city setting, but I feel fortunate to be getting hands-on experience at both ends of the spectrum. My current placement is presenting me with some unique challenges, as it is my first professional experience at the intermediate level. Not to mention, several recent attempts at education reform are hitting hard at many of the schools in this area. It’s an interesting time to be entering the field of education.
The drive from my apartment to my placement is a full hour, most of which takes place on the major highway. At first, I felt a bit bitter about all that precious time being spent in the car each week. However, existing in a state of bitterness doesn’t feel all that great, especially when it has to do with circumstances beyond one’s control. So, in exchange for bitterness, I’ve turned to celebrating the fact that I get to watch the sunrise on every clear morning, and drive past a handful of cattle grazing on the pasture. I’ve also been taking full advantage of the fact that my route passes by the best supermarket in the region – Wegmans. People up here love their Wegmans, and with good reason. Imagine a cross between your standard well-stocked grocery store and a Whole Foods, only without all the fussiness. That’s Wegmans in a nutshell.
Another saving grace during these long drives has been podcasts – specifically the America’s Test Kitchen Radio podcast. Before my first day at my Buffalo placement, I got the idea to search iTunes for any and all food-based podcasts and came across the America’s Test Kitchen Radio podcasts. A typical episode features an insightful interview based on a particular food-related topic, as well as questions from listeners, cooking tips, gadget reviews, taste testings, and recipe spotlights. I must admit… I’m hooked! I greatly enjoy listening to people around the country call in with their cooking questions, and the interviews are so often fascinating and quite varied in theme. It’s a small thing that brings me joy each day, as well as relaxes me when someone cuts me off on the highway.
I just can’t believe we’re already approaching April. These next several weeks will be crunch time.
Here’s a recipe for a new favorite cookie in our apartment. There are many recipes out there for a brownie-like chocolate cookie, and I’ve been wanting to make one for a while now. These sort of cookies are often called truffle or brownie cookies, and they are all at once soft and pillowy yet rich and chocolatey. The dough for these cookies is unusually runny, more so resembling brownie batter than your standard cookie dough. I’ve found that a cookie scoop works far better for forming uniform cookies with this dough. If you choose to form these cookies by hand, be forewarned that your hands will be a hot mess, albeit a chocolatey hot mess.
CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE COOKIES
From HANDMADE BAKING by KAMRAN SiDDIQI
This recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour, as opposed to standard all-purpose. The use of whole-wheat pastry flour makes the cookies slightly more nutritious without any noticeable change in flavor. Feel free to substitute all-purpose flour if that’s what you have on hand. The amounts listed in this recipe will yield about 12 large cookies. I frequently halve these amounts to make 6 large cookies. No judgment if you make 12 cookies and share none. It’s the free world, after all.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 5 oz dark chocolate (minimum 60% cacao), roughly chopped (alternatively, use baking chips of same cocao content)
- 2/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (if desired, you can do a partial or full substitution of shelled unsalted dry-roasted pistachios for the chocolate chips)
- Maldon sea salt, for garnish (optional – I just love the way a sprinkle of salt can heighten a chocolate dessert)
- Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt together the butter and dark chocolate. Alternatively, use a microwave and melt in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large bowl with a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a standard mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. On low speed, beat in the melted butter and chocolate. Turn off the mixer and stir in the flour-cocoa mixture until just combined. Then stir in the chocolate chips.
- Drop 3-tablespoon portions of dough onto the prepared baking sheet. A cookie scoop will come in handy for this task.
- Bake for approximately 13 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking, until the exteriors are crackly and the centers are still soft. Cool on a baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool before eating.