Sunday, February 27, 2011

Woodley's New Favorite Dessert

Based on the ingredients below, do you have any ideas guesses as to what I might be making?

Chocolate chip cookies! (Or, rather, chocolate piece cookies.) It was interesting going to the grocery store for the first time and trying to make sure I got the right ingredients despite my bad/non-existent Norwegian. It may be fairly obvious, but moving from top to bottom, left to right we have eggs, butter, salt, flour, sugar, brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla, and baking powder. I was trying to find baking soda but it turns out that it isn't actually sold in boxes in most grocery stores here. A new American friend showed me a little packet of what appears to be baking soda. But I didn't have it yet when I took this photo. Very interesting. I wonder what they use to keep their refrigerators smelling fresh. Arm&Hammer has an untapped market. Also, there were no chocolate chips to be had. A bar of chocolate was the closest thing I could find.

Let's take a closer look at that block of butter. What's that I see? Could it be an emoticon? Looks like one to me.

I never thought I'd see a winking smiley on a butter container.

Chocolate chip cookies are one of Woodley's favorite desserts/snacks so I knew I had to find a way to make them here in Oslo and it was the first real baking experimentation I did. I made my first batch last month but haven't gotten a chance to blog about it until now.

I don't have a specific chocolate chip cookie recipe that I use, instead I keep trying new versions always hoping to find the best recipe ever. I think I prefer a cookie that is less crisp and more cakey but gooey is ok. I'm still searching for the perfect one. This time I tried out "My Big, Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies" by Tyler Florence which I discovered using my Food Network iPad app. Only, I had to use baking powder instead of baking soda (I used a bit less than the called for amount) and I made smaller cookies than the recipe recommended - just 12 cookies for a whole recipe didn't seem like quite enough.  

They turned out pretty well but weren't the best cookies I had ever had. The first batch flattened out quite a bit and were crisper than I wanted so I added a bit more flour. Later I discovered that I really do need to measure out the butter by weighing it since dividing the 0.5 kg block of butter into 4 pieces and using them as I would a block of butter in the states means that I consistently add a little bit too much butter. Hence, the need for more flour. But, I do have a handy scale and I have worked out that a Tablespoon of butter should be 0.5 once so it is pretty easy to get the right amount now. I think my recipes are turning out better since I made that change. 

Above you can see the cookies on the "cookie sheet" which is actually an oven rack. When we first got here one of my "must find" items that didn't appear to have come with our furnished rental house was a cookie sheet. We searched at Ikea, the local grocery store, and then another cooking store but there were no cookie sheets to be had. I mentioned this to our friend Stephan and he told me that over here people use their oven racks as baking sheets. Amazing! I had never thought to try that, although I did wonder why the oven racks were solid sheets of metal. So I guess that's why they don't sell cookie sheets here. It felt quite odd to pull out an oven rack, grease it, and plop cookie dough down onto it but the oven racks worked surprisingly well as baking sheets. I suppose I shouldn't really be surprised by that since that's what they were designed to do. And it is nice not having to store separate baking sheets. 

For Valentine's Day I thought about baking Woodley a heart shaped cake but since I didn't have a cake pan I decided to fall back on something I already knew worked - the chocolate chip cookies. To make them a bit more special I decided to turn them into ice cream sandwiches, something I had never tried before. I looked up some directions online and was surprised by how easy it was. I simply put a piece of cling wrap in a bowl, put a cookie on top, added some soft ice cream, topped it off with one more cookie which I smooshed down a bit, and then pulled up the cling wrap to cover the ice cream sandwich. I smoothed it down around the sides and did a bit of sculpting to give it a smoother look before tossing it into the freezer. A few hours later we had a gorgeous dessert which reminded us of the Moowiches we always get at The Northwest Washington Fair. 

Woodley was in heaven and has declared that this is his new favorite dessert and that I must always have homemade moowiches in the freezer from now on. I haven't quite managed that, but I am looking forward to making some more - maybe some tiny ones would be good. The only problem now is the price of Häagen-Dazs here in Norway. I had bought some as a special treat for Valentine's Day without realizing how expensive it was. After I got home and investigated the receipt I was shocked to find out it costs, gulp, about $12 usd for one pint! So, no more Häagen-Dazs for us. We'll have to test out the local variety of ice cream.


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