Creating a Recipe for a contest… Divine Triple Chocolate Port Wine Cookies

The people who make Fonseca Bin #27 offered up a challenge and I just couldn’t resist.  After all, I’ve been using red wine (alternating between a dry red from James River Cellars Winery OR Fonseca Bin #27 Port wine) in my “standard” chocolate chip cookie recipe for the past 15 years or so… why not write the actual directions down and see if people like it, right?TripleChocolatePortWineCookies

I decided to call the recipe:  Divine Triple Chocolate Port Wine Cookies.  I use chocolate chips in three different sizes and degrees of sweetness, then included Port Wine and a few other “choice” ingredients.  I am deviating from my traditional way of using The Force when I cook and have provided actual directions for this recipe.  It was tough, but I just had to try it.  While my recipe may seem a bit unorthodox, my family and friends seem to find them absolutely divine.  I hope you enjoy them as well.

Divine Tripe Chocolate Port Wine Cookies:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and assemble all ingredients in recipe before you begin.

Start with the following ingredients in your mixing bowl:
1 cup butter crisco
1/2 c white sugar + 1 c brown sugar
1 t salt + 1 t baking soda
2 T Fonseca Bin #27 Port Wine
1 t blood orange balsamic vinegar
1 t dark chili powder
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t ground ginger
1 t vanilla extract + 1/2 t almond extract
2 eggs (at room temperature)
Cream all ingredients together until well incorporated
Slowly add 2 1/4 c flour and mix well.

Add 1 cup each: mini chocolate chips, regular semi-sweet chocolate chips, and bittersweet chocolate chips.

Using a small cookie scoop, place batter, teaspoon by teaspoon, onto a baking stone. Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 11 minutes (you may need to adjust for your own oven temperature). Allow cookies to sit for a minute on the baking stone before removing to a wire rack to cool.

I like to keep this cookie dough recipe in my fridge so I can make fresh cookies at a moment’s notice, as my boys’ friends can attest. These are wonderfully divine!

If you feel so inclined, please consider voting for my recipe, using this link.  I hope you try this recipe and enjoy making it and sharing it with the ones you love… after all, isn’t that why we cook in the first place?

Recipe: Doctored Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yup… you’re reading it correctly… I make Doctored Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Oh, and I doctor them with WINE.  Don’t believe it?  Try this recipe and let me know what you think after trying this yourself.   They’re amazing.

I’ve mentioned before that I cook using The Force, right?  This recipe I created started with the basic Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that is wonderfully simple but fun to alter.  I’ve been making this recipe for decades now and am going to share this recipe with you.  I will warn you that I tend to tweak this recipe from time to time, so feel free to add your own special touch to create your own version.

It started innocently enough… at our second duty station (USNA), M had just been assigned as the O-Rep (Officer Representative) for the Varsity men’s soccer team.  M came up with the great idea of making a large bag of cookies for each of the guys on the team for their birthday.  I’d make up a batch of homemade cookies, put them into a gallon freezer bag, and he’d drop them off at Main Office for the boys to pick up.  So many times, parents weren’t able to get treats to their kids in time for a birthday, so this was our way of stepping in to make the boys feel special.

I started making cookie dough whenever I had time and then would freeze balls of dough so I could bake cookies anytime there was a birthday.  As I got better at cooking, my freezer became an inconvenient place to store balls of frozen cookie dough and I ended up making cookie dough and keeping it in the fridge, scooping out dough as needed.  With two boys and their friends always around our house, a batch (or even a double batch) didn’t sit around for long…. and it still doesn’t.

I also found that I have a definite preference in using Butter flavored Crisco instead of butter or margarine… as the cookies bake, they don’t seem to flatten as quickly as those made with butter/margarine and the chocolate chips seem to stay softer for a longer time.  I think they rock… maybe it’s worth a try if you’re feeling so inclined.  Note:  On the Crisco package, there is specific information on “how to substitute Crisco shortening for butter or margarine in your favorite recipes”… says to add 2Tablespoons of water to 1 cup of Crisco to mimic 1 cup of Butter or Margarine.  This is why I started adding liquid to my cookie recipe.

Doctored Chocolate Chip Cookies

4 1/2 c flour

2 t baking soda

2 t salt

2 c butter-flavored Crisco

1 c white sugar

2 c brown sugar

4 eggs (room temperature)

2 t chili powder

2 t cinnamon

1/2 t ground ginger

1 t almond extract

2 t vanilla extract

1 t espresso powder

1/4 c red wine (I like James River Cellars’ Rad Red or Meritage)

1 1/2 cup EACH semi-sweet, mini, and bittersweet chocolate chips (4 1/2 cups overall)

In a small bowl, mix the flour, soda, and salt together and set aside.  In a small measuring cup,  blend together eggs, spices, extracts, espresso powder, and wine.  In large mixer bowl, whip together the Crisco and sugars until light.  Slowly add in the egg mixture and beat until well incorporated.  Gradually add flour mixture and blend until dough is mixed thoroughly.   Gently blend in all three types of chocolate chips.  If preferred, put all cookie dough into an airtight container and allow to sit in the fridge until you want to bake a tray of cookies.

When cooking, drop by teaspoon (or small cookie scoop) onto a baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  In my oven, I bake for 11 minutes and then remove and allow baked cookies to set for a few minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cook completely.
Oh, and I believe that I also added 2 teaspoons of blood orange balsamic vinegar to this most recent batch… it added a nice touch of acid against the heavy sweetness of chocolate and sugar.   I’ll be incorporating this into my recipe as long as I can continue to find that special vinegar… it’s totally worth the search!

These are amazing chocolate chip cookies… I hope you’ll consider trying this recipe out for yourself.  Maybe you’ll come up with a favorite ingredient to add that creates your own special chocolate chip cookies.  Have fun out there!

Beware, I cook using “The Force”

When I was first married, I followed recipes.  I would go to the grocery store with the purpose of picking up specific ingredients for a singular recipe and then go along, step-by-step, to hopefully come out with the picture-perfect dish that would make my new husband swoon with happiness.  After all, wasn’t the way to a man’s heart through his stomach?

It didn’t take me long to realize that this age-old phrase was simply that… a phrase.  The way to my own love’s heart was simply to be part of his life, whether I was cooking dinner in the kitchen or sitting across from him in a restaurant.  It wasn’t the three-course meal that was important; it was the thought behind the preparation… the plan behind the action… the love that was shown simply by paying attention and trying.

So I started to “wing it” when it came to food.  I know there are those of you who are cringing right now… cooking is a science and should be treated as such.  As much as I do agree that there’s a huge amount of science that goes along with cooking the right ingredients and the right temperature to achieve the right result, I also would insist that cooking existed for millions of years before we had oven thermometers and Pyrex measuring cups.  I simply don’t want to be tied down to a full-on planned recipe every time I want to make dinner.  It’s just not “me”…

So, I use “The Force” when I cook.  You know, the reference from Star Wars?  “May The Force be with you”?  I look to recipes for ideas, inspiration, and basic constructs of a dish… and then I branch out.  Sure it’s scary sometimes… but when it all comes together and makes a meal that everyone agrees is a WINNER, it’s a totally hyped experience.  Yes, there are those times when the recipe fails miserably, but thankfully those have become fewer and fewer over the years.

Take my chocolate chip cookie recipe, for example.  I started out using the standard Toll House Cookie recipe from the back of the package.  It’s tasty… it’s traditional… and it’s what everyone uses when they first start out making cookies.  It just started getting boring to make the same recipe over and over again.  My chocolate chip cookie recipe is a bit more “flamboyant”… for lack of a better word.  I’ve learned that I like to have some unique ingredients in my recipe, to add different back-notes of flavors to the cookie.  Over the years, my recipe has included chili powder, ground ginger, almond extract, espresso, blood orange balsamic vinegar, and yes… WINE.   Lest you think that I’ve abandoned the focus of my blog so soon, I will say that I do add red wine to my chocolate chip cookie dough.   It adds a lovely fudginess to the cookies and my guys seem to love it, which is why I’ll probably be making another double batch of dough to keep in the fridge before the weekend rolls around.

Many people like recipes to read like directions (step 1, step 2, step 3, etc) while others tend to allow for some creativity to flow when following a recipe.  It’s seen as more of a guideline than a directive.  For those of you who fall into the second category, you will understand my recipes much easier than those of you who crave the specifics of teaspoons, tablespoons, and quarter cups of ingredients.  In any case, I hope that you find some entertainment value in my cooking… I believe that it’s the journey that’s just as important as the final dish or destination.

Try using The Force in your cooking sometime… you might find a creative soul just waiting for the opportunity to shine!