The still best chocolate chip cookie (plus some others)

I think it is appropriate to talk about chocolate chip cookies again because they are such a universal favorite.  I was prompted to revisit the topic due to Sam Sifton’s NY Times cooking email, which reminded us that yesterday was Ruth Wakefield’s birthday (born Ruth Graves on June 17, 1903).  In 1926, she married Kenneth Wakefield, and 4 years later, the couple bought a building in Plymouth County, Mass., and opened an inn there.

Mrs. Wakefield’s claim to fame is the confection that was known originally as the Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie, after the Toll House Inn, a popular restaurant that she ran with her husband in eastern Massachusetts.

Legend had it that she was brainstorming about cookie dough while returning from a vacation in Egypt when she first came up with the recipe, a variation on another popular treat called Butter Drop Do pecan icebox cookies.

“We had been serving a thin butterscotch nut cookie with ice cream,” Wakefield recalled in a 1970s interview. “Everybody seemed to love it, but I was trying to give them something different.”  Her initial idea was to add melting squares of Baker’s unsweetened chocolate to the cookie batter, but all she had on hand for the experiment was a Nestlé semisweet bar, and she was too rushed to melt it.

Wielding an ice pick, she chopped the bar into pea-size bits and dribbled them into the brown sugar dough with nuts. (Susan Brides, a pastry chef, assisted.) Instead of melting into the dough to produce an all-chocolate cookie, the bits remained chunky as they baked.

In her “Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book,” Carolyn Wyman rejected the prevailing theory that the recipe was developed inadvertently. Mrs. Wakefield was too perfectionist a cook. “Confusion is unknown,” a promotional brochure for her restaurant boasted.

“Nowadays, people love the ‘dumb luck’ story of the person who wins the lottery, or invents something because they were doing something else,” Wyman wrote about Wakefield’s innovation. “But what she did was still revolutionary.”


The ruins of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Mass., after a fire damaged the property in 1984.CreditBarry Allen/Boston Globe, via Getty Images

That establishment, the Toll House Inn on Bedford Street in Whitman, eventually expanded from seven to more than 60 tables. It became a destination, famous for its sea foam salad ring (with lime gelatin), lobster dishes and desserts, including Boston cream and lemon meringue pies, Indian pudding and baba au rhum and other recipes Wakefield had inherited from her grandmother or created herself.

She included some of them in a cookbook, “Ruth Wakefield’s Tried and True Recipes” that she published in 1931. Her enduring chocolate chip cookie recipe first appeared in a later 1930s edition.

Her Toll House cookie recipe was reprinted in The Boston Herald-Traveler, and Wakefield was featured on “Famous Foods From Famous Eating Places,” the radio program hosted by Marjorie Husted (who was known as Betty Crocker).


In 1939, Wakefield sold Nestlé the rights to reproduce her recipe on its packages (supposedly for only $1, which has to be the worst licensing deal of all time) and was hired to consult on recipes for the company, which was said to have provided her free chocolate for life.

Nestlé began pre-scoring its chocolate bars for easy baking, then introduced Nestlé Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels which became known as chocolate chips. (For the record, Allison Baker, a Nestlé spokeswoman, said that the morsels do, in fact, melt, but retain their shape because of the way the fat structure of the tempered chocolate is aligned.)

Wakefield’s recipe was printed on the package. (It was later updated to account for the availability of pre-sifted flour and other modern ingredients.)

When Wakefield added the recipe to her cookbook in the later edition, she included this explanatory note: “At Toll House we chill this dough overnight.  When ready for baking, we roll a teaspoon of dough between palms of hands and place balls two inches apart on greased baking sheet. Then we press balls with finger tips to form flat rounds. This way cookies do not spread as much in the baking and they keep uniformly round.”  This vital step of letting the cookie dough chill and rest never made to the instructions printed on the yellow bag of the morsels.

In 1967, the Wakefields sold the inn. (It burned in 1984.) The couple retired to Duxbury, Mass., where Ruth Wakefield died in 1977.

The appeal of chocolate chip cookies is undeniable.  Just look at how ubiquitous they are.  They are found in almost every bakery, grocery store, or made at home from a treasured recipe.

I still think that the best chocolate chip cookie is my working of the New York Times article written by David Leite.  I believe the investigation Mr. Leite did goes far to understanding the underpinnings of the cookie recipe.

J. Kenji López-Alt has done an extensive analysis of the science and variations in chocolate chip cookies, and his article is linked here:

America’s Test Kitchen’s version of a chocolate chip cookie involves browning more than half of the butter used in the cookie to enhance the butterscotch notes in the final cookie, and that can be adapted to any variant of a chocolate chip cookie.


The 2008 NY Times recipe is mostly derived from Jacques Torres’ bakery chocolate chip cookie.  It uses both bread flour (more gluten and protein) and cake flour (less gluten and protein) in equal amounts (8 ½ ounces of each).  I now make the recipe using 17 ounces of King Arthur all-purpose flour, because I tried making the cookies with the bread and cake flour combination, and I found no real difference to the one made with the King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour.  There are differences in protein content of bleached and unbleached cake flours.  Protein content of the Softasilk bleached cake 6.9%, King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend 9.4%, Unbleached Self-Rising 8.5%, Unbleached Pastry 8%, KAF Unbleached All-Purpose 11.7% KAF Unbleached Bread Flour 12.7%.   No matter what flours are used, I strongly recommend that ingredients are weighted, not dry measured, for increased accuracy.  I do think there are variations in the commercial varieties of flour, and I have switched to using King Arthur flours in all my cooking and baking.

Update 5/14/2023: I got in contact with David Leite to ask the question of the importance of using the different flours, and he referred me to a video he made with Amy Traverso on instagram that is the whole story of the 6 months of research behind the article. Bread flour will impart more chewiness and pastry flour more tenderness. Jacques Torres uses pastry (not cake) flour and makes minor adjustments to the ratio of pastry to bread flours depending on how much moisture is in the air on a particular day (more bread flour if the day is dry, more pastry flour if it is humid). Pastry flour varies in protein content from 8 to 10% depending on the brand and is unbleached versus the bleached cake flour at 7 to 8% protein. The bread flour is more sensitive to ambient moisture and will absorb more, and will also absorb more hydration from a longer resting time (from the eggs in the batter).

David also stressed the importance of using couverture chocolate rather than chips, the need to hydrate the dough for 36 hours, and the benefits of serving a warm cookie. He also takes the tray out of the oven halfway through the baking time (the cookies have started to flatten and the chocolate to melt) and he sprinkles sea salt on the cookies at that point and returns the tray to the oven to finish baking.

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

Original source The New York Times


  • 17 ounces King Arthur unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 ½ sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces)granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
  • Sea salt.


  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
  • Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.  Ghirardelli makes a wonderful 60% cocao chip, available at Cost Plus and other retailers.  Belcolade 60% cocao nickel size discs are found on

Also, as the article details, let the cookie dough rest and hydrate thoroughly for 12 to 36 hours (the longer the better).  It definitely makes a difference in the end result.  I did tests at 1 hour, 3 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, and 36 hours.  At 36 hours, the cookies are much more complex, with caramel and toffee notes in the taste that is extremely pleasant without being overwhelming.  The 3 ½ ounce size of each cookie make a monster five inch cookie, with the 3 rings of flavor that Mr. Rubin talks about in the NY Times article, but in my oven, it cooks in 14 to 15 minutes.  A 1 ½ ounce size produced a 3 inch cookie, and took 11 to 13 minutes to cook.  This is less of a monster, but with similar taste, but with a less pronounced 3 ring effect.

I use a combination of Ghirardelli chips and Callebaut 60% cocoa.  I buy a 5 kilogram “bar” and slice off the needed amount with a knife, and then use the knife to create small chunks of chocolate (with the added benefit of tiny residual chocolate bits and powder which gets thrown in as well).  The combination creates a very interesting mix of texture and enhanced chocolate intensity.  I will also use the Belcolade discs to get a bigger and more intense chocolate bite to the cookie (Belcolade Belgian Chocolate – Dark Bitter-sweet Chocolate Discs, “Noir Superieur”, 60.0% Cocoa, 11 Lb./5kg. Bag found on Amazon).

Despite what Dorie Greenspan says, I think this cookie is fine without the addition of a sprinkle of sea salt.  There is enough salt in the dough and I think the salt counterpoint on the top of the cookie is overkill.  Timing is everything with this recipe, from the resting of the dough in the refrigerator to the exact cooking time (just a light color to the top of the cookie without the edges getting too well done) to the resting on the cookie sheet for 5 to 10 minutes before the transfer to the wire rack.  It pays off to do a small test batch to get the timing right for your oven and the size of your cookie. The 5 to 10 minute rest on the cookie sheet after it comes out of the oven finishes the cooking process, so don’t forget or prolong the time.

As usual, nothing but the best ingredients gives the best results, and this is particularly true concerning the chocolate.  The cookie will taste very different if made with Nestle’s semi-sweet morsels, or horrors, with milk chocolate chips.  I believe the higher percentage of cacao in the bittersweet chocolate gives a better counterpoint to the sweetness of the cookie dough.  Nuts can be added if desired (I use 1 cup of raw chopped pecans into a recipe but chopped walnuts works well too).

There is one more thing that will make cookie making much easier.  Making the cookie balls from the refrigerated dough is a bit of a pain to do, and I’ve come up with a better solution.  Once the cookie batter is done, form your cookie balls with the help of an ice cream scoop.  I weigh each ball to get a consistent and equal cookie (whether the 1½ ounce or the 3 to 3½ monster cookie).

Cookies after mixing and weighing. Small ones weigh 1 3/8 oz, larger one (with walnuts) weigh 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 oz. Into the refrigerator for 36 hours prior to baking

 I have been making the 1½ ounce size and it is easy to combine 2 cookies to make a monster cookie prior to baking.  I put the 1½ ounce balls in a ziploc bag for the 36 hours rest.  It is also easy to freeze the cookies after the 36 hour rest, and for those with instant gratification issues, having a supply of cookie dough in the freezer makes baking on a whim much easier.  Wait 20 minutes after removing from the freezer and press the ball to flatten the disc prior to baking.  Whether using the dough after the refrigerator rest, or using the frozen dough after the 20 wait, cooking on a silpat or parchment paper with the baking sheet is a must for good results.

Now, I’m going to give alternatives to my choice as the best chocolate chip cookie.  Why?  Everyone does not have the same preferences, and one must allow for variants, and sometimes, it is good to do something a little different.

Kathleen King has built a cult type following for her Tate’s Bake Shop chocolate chip cookies.  They are flat, and very crisp, but have a nice buttery mouth feel.  She published the recipe for her cookies in 2005 in her Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook.

Tate's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe from Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook by Kathleen King

Makes 4 1/2 dozen 3-inch cookies


2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup salted butter

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon water

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two cookie sheets or line them with Silpat. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugars. Add the water and vanilla. Mix the ingredients until they are just combined. Add the eggs and mix them lightly. Stir in the flour mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. Don’t over-mix the dough.

Drop the cookies 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets using two tablespoons or an ice cream scoop. Bake them for 12 minutes or until the edges and centers are brown. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool.

My second favorite chocolate chip cookie is a “double” chocolate chip cookie, the winner of  2600 entries in the Orchards’ 1987 cookie contest.  It is a dark cookie not from melted chocolate, but from the use of unsweetened cocoa in the batter.

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies


Author: Junior League of Las Vegas

Recipe Type: American Classics, Chocolate, Cookies, Desserts, American

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 cup butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

1 large egg

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 Tbs milk

1 cup chopped pecans, or walnuts

6 oz semisweet chocolate chips, (1cup)

1. Combine flour and baking soda, set aside. Cream butter with mixer, add vanilla and sugars and beat until fluffy. Beat in the egg. At low speed beat in cocoa, then milk. With a wooden spoon mix in dry ingredients just until blended. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

2. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto nonstick cookie sheet. Bake at 350° F. for 12 to 13 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before removing from baking sheets.

Yield: 3 dozen

Oven Temperature: 350°F

For some, the remembered and cherished tastes of our childhood is paramount and nothing satisfies as much as the original “Toll House Cookie” but I hope you look beyond the yellow bag of your youth and delve into the delights of better chocolate than Nestle or Hershey!

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Stacked Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde and Cheese

This is a wonderful recipe that combines poblano chiles, cheese, and roasted chicken in a casserole that has a great salsa verde as a unifier. It is relatively easy to make, and the recipe is from Roberto Santibañez, published in Bon Appétit, June 2007

Stacked Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde


  • 2 Poblano chiles
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 12 six inch round corn tortillas
  • 4 cups salsa verde, divided
  • 2 cups shredded roasted chicken, divided
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, divided
  • 6 ounces grated cheese (Emmenthal, Muenster, or Chihuahua cheese), about 1 1/2 cups packed cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Optional–pickled red onions as a garnish

For the Salsa Verde

  • 3 pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 2 large jalapeno chiles, stems removed
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 1/2 bunches fresh cilantro with thick stems removed
  • 1/3 cup packed fresh mint leaves

To make the Salsa Verde (makes about 4 cups)

  1. Put the husked and rinsed tomatillos and the jalapeno chiles in a saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Drain.
  2. Coarsely chop tomatillo mixture, garlic and cumin a a food processor using pulses. Add cilantro, parsley and mint, and pulse to chop the herbs into the mixture. Do not overprocess.
  3. Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the salsa and simmer until thickened and reduced to 4 cups, about 10 minutes. Salt to taste.

For pickled red onions

  1. Combine 1 1/2 pounds of red onions, peeled, halved and cut into 1/8 inch slices with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano into a mixing bowl. Add 1 cup lime juice and 1/2 cup white vinegar.
  2. Cut 1/2 inch long slit in the narrow tip of a small habanero chili, add to the mixture and put a small plate on top to submerge the mixture. Refrigerate overnight. Drain and use the slices to garnish the casserole. The use of the pickled onions is entirely optional.

Assembly Procedure

Step 1 Char chiles directly over gas flame or in broiler until blackened all over. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Peel and seed, then cut into 2×1/2-inch strips.

Step 2 Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tortilla to skillet; cook until slightly softened, about 15 seconds per side, turning with tongs. Transfer tortilla to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining tortillas, adding oil to skillet as needed. A useful alternative is to put a tortilla wrapped in a paper towel, and microwave (high) for 15 seconds, repeating with each tortilla to soften (use 4 for each layer in the casserole).

Step 3 Spread 1/2 cup salsa over bottom of 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange 4 tortillas over salsa, covering bottom of dish completely, overlapping slightly, and extending about 1 1/2 inches up sides of dish. Scatter 1 cup chicken over tortillas, then half of poblano strips. Spoon 1 1/2 cups salsa over, spreading evenly. Spoon 1/4 cup sour cream over in small dollops. Cover with 4 tortillas, overlapping slightly. Layer with remaining 1 cup chicken, remaining poblanos, 1 cup salsa, and 1/4 cup sour cream. Cover with remaining 4 tortillas, then 1 cup salsa, and remaining 1/4 cup sour cream. Sprinkle with cheese.

Step 4 Bake casserole until bubbling and cheese is lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Cut into 6 pieces; divide among plates. Sprinkle with cilantro. Spoon pickled red onions alongside; serve.

This recipe makes 6 servings.

One can easily convert this recipe to make a more traditional chicken enchiladas. Make the sauce the same way, then put a thin layer of it on bottom of the casserole dish. Put chicken and poblano strips in a corn tortilla with some shredded sharp cheddar and roll tightly. Place the rolled tortilla seam side down in the casserole and repeat with subsequent rolled and filled tortillas, placing the tortillas adjacent to each other. Cover with more salsa verde and shreds of a nice melting cheese (like emmenthal, colby, or chihuahua). Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, guacamole, or more salsa (or all of them).

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Banoffee Pie

This dessert is originally from England but is very common in Ireland. The name Banoffee comes from the combination of banana and toffee, which is a nice mash up. Served in a nice crust with a topping of sweetened whipped cream makes for a very pleasing combination.

Credit for the invention of the Banoffee Pie is claimed by Nigel Mackenzie and Ian Dowding, the owner and chef respectively of The Hungry Monk Restaurant in Jevington, East Sussex. They claim to have developed the dessert in 1971 by amending an unreliable American recipe for “Blum’s Coffee Toffee Pie” with a soft toffee made by boiling an unopened can of condensed milk  for several hours.

After trying various changes including the addition of apple or mandarin orange, Mackenzie suggested banana and Dowding later said that “straight away we knew we had got it right.” Mackenzie suggested the name “Banoffi Pie”, and the dish proved so popular with their customers that they “couldn’t take it off” the menu.

I’m posting 4 different recipes for banoffee pie. They are all somewhat similar, with the common ingredient of the “toffee” component, a use of Dulce de Leche. One can buy Dulce de Leche, or you can make it yourself. The 2nd recipe has a simple method of making Dulce de Leche by using a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk.

You can find several methods for making the sweetened condensed milk into a caramelized “toffee” on the net. One involved putting the contents of the can into a 9 inch pie plate, covering it with aluminum foil, and placing it in a hot oven in a water bath for a couple of hours. I have done this in the past, but there is an easier way to make the “Dulce de Leche.” It is the same method recorded in the Cupcake Jemma recipe below, and it simmers the can of milk for 2 1/2 hours (cover the can with cold water in a pan by at least 2 inches, turn the can on its side, and heat to a low boil, reduce to simmer for 2 1/2 hours). There is a slight risk of the can bursting, so watch the water level and add water as needed. Remove the can and let cool before trying to open (at least 1 hour).

I saw another method to create dulce de leche from a post of America’s Test Kitchen. It takes a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, the scraping of seeds from one vanilla bean and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. The 3 ingredients are combined into a 16 ounce mason jar with the lid not overtightened. The jar is then placed in the water bath (fully submerged) of a sous vide set for 185 degrees F for 12 to 16 hours. No worries about the can exploding or cooking a can lined with BPA. Just be sure the the water level is maintained.

So here are 4 different recipes for Banoffee Pie. They have variations, but the end product is wonderful.

Banoffee Pie

Following recipe by Gemma Safford


  • ½ cup (4 oz/113 g) butter, melted
  • 3 cup (250g/9oz) cookie crumbs (digestives or graham crackers)
  • Dulce de leche (caramel sauce)
  • 3 small bananas
  • 1 ¼ cups (10oz/300g) whipping cream, lightly whipped
  • grated chocolate


  • Put the biscuit into a food processor and blend until crumbed. Tip in the melted butter and mix it all together. Spoon this into the base and press against the bottom and sides – this is the base of the banoffee pie recipe. Chill it for ten minutes.
  • Once set slice the bananas and lay in the bottom of the base.
  • Spread thedulce de leche (caramel) over the bananas. Chill for about 1 hour, until firm or until ready to serve.
  • Carefully lift the pie from the tin and place on a serving plate.
  • Spoon the softly whipped cream over the caramel. Decorate with the grated chocolate.
  • Enjoy straight away. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 days.

To make Dulce de leche—

4 cups whole milk

1 ¼ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Stir together milk and sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and thickened, about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. (skim away any foam that forms during simmering)
  • After about an hour, stir more often as milk caramelizes, to avoid burning.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  • Transfer to a bowl to cool. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Cupcake Jemma's Banoffee Pie

Cupcake Jemma’s Banoffee pie


  • 200 grams digestive biscuits (or graham crackers)
  • 75 grams pecans
  • 100 grams unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 can of dulce de leche
  • 4 small bananas
  • 300-500 grams double cream
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons caster sugar


  1. Use a 9 inch springform pan or a 9 inch pan with removable base.
  2. Combine 200 gms of digestive biscuits with 75 grams of lightly toasted pecans in a food processor with the metal blade.  Pulse until well mixed.  While the machine is running, pour in 100 grams of melted butter.  Dump the mixture into the springform pan and using your fingers, spread the crust in an even layer across the bottom and up the sides–use the flat of a measuring cup to get an even bottom layer and press the sides up with the side of the cup and your fingers to get an even distribution to the sides of the pan.  Refrigerate for a least ½ hour.
  3. Use a can (14 ounces) of sweetened condensed milk.  Place in a pan and cover with enough water to cover the top by 2 inches.  Bring to a boil.  Turn the can on its side.  Lower the heat to a rolling simmer and cook for about 2 ½ to 3 hours.  Be sure to maintain the level of boiling water (add boiling water every ½ hour),  Remove the can and let cool for at least 1 hour.  The result is a caramelized jelly consistency with a toffee flavor.  Use an offset spatula and spread the dulce de leche evenly over the bottom of the prepared base.  Refrigerate.
  4. Slice the bananas into ½ centimeter thick slices, and distribute on top of the dulce de leche, covering the entire surface.
  5. Add 1 tablespoon sugar to 300 to 500 grams of heavy cream and beat to just beyond soft peaks.  Cover the surface of the pie with the cream as high you wish.  Options for presentation are shaved chocolate, toasted pecans, or toasted almond slices.

Anna Olson Banoffee Pie

This recipe uses a base of “digestive biscuits” from scratch, and has a very professional appearance when completed.


  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter cut in ½ inch pieces and refrigerated
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large bananas (not overly ripe), sliced into ½ inch thick pieces
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon skimmed milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Lightly toasted sliced almonds


  1. Combine the wheat flour, oats and brown sugar in a food processor.  Add the baking   soda and salt and pulse to combine.  Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is well distributed.  Add 1 egg and mix until combined.  Wrip in plastic wrap and form a disc, refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Use a 9 inch tart shell with removable bottom.  Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the dough to 12 inches (1/4 inch thick.  Transfer to the pie shell and using a rolling pin, trim the excess dough.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Dock the bottom of the dough with a fork to prevent bubbles in the dough as it bakes.  Bake in a preheated 325ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Cut the bananas in ½ inch thick slices.  Cover the base of the crust with the banana pieces.
  4. Make the “Toffee”  Melt 1 stick (½ cup) butter with ½ cup dark brown sugar.  Whisk together under medium high heat in a saucepan until combined and starts to bubble.  Add 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk.  Whisk vigorously for 1 minute (no longer), then whisk in 1 tsp vanilla and ½ tsp kosher salt.  Remove from heat and immediately pour over the bananas in the tart shell.  Spread the toffee evenly over all the bananas right out to the edge. 
  5. Let cool, then refrigerate for 1 hour
  6. Beat the cream with the slim milk powder and icing sugar.  Using a pastry bag with a star tip, pipe a scroll pattern of cream on the top of the tart.  Remove from the tart tin and slice and serve.

Julie's Banoffee Pie

Julie’s version

Banoffe Pie

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups crushed graham crackers, about 11 crackers
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), melted 2 large ripe bananas
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 packet of hot chocolate powder


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Pour condensed milk into pie plate and stir in a generous pinch of salt. Cover pie plate with foil and crimp foil tightly around rim. Put in a roasting pan, then add enough boiling-hot water to reach halfway up side of pie plate, making sure that foil is above water. Bake, refilling pan to halfway with water about every 40 minutes, until milk is thick and a deep golden caramel color, about 2 hours.

Remove pie plate from water bath and transfer toffee to a bowl, then chill toffee, uncovered, until it is cold, about 1 hour.

Add the crushed crackers to a food processor. Pour in the melted butter and pulse until it sticks together and the graham crackers get pulverized. Pour the graham cracker mixture into a 9-inch spring form pan and press with your hands or a 1 cup measurer to evenly distribute on the bottom of the pan. Chill to set for about 15 minutes in the refrigerator.

Pour the dulce de leche over the graham cracker base.

Spread evenly. Slice the peeled bananas and arrange over the top covering the entire surface. Whip the cream until firm and spread over the top. Sprinkle top with cinnamon and grated chocolate. Serve.

I’ve made Julie’s recipe, but have not tried the other 3. The techniques described are well known to me. I’ll update the post after a little experimentation, but I encourage others to try them and let me know about the results. Of course for those that know me will conclude that I am drawn to try Anna Olson’s recipe next as the base of the tart is more complex. I hope the results justify the extra efforts. Look for an update soon.

Well, as promised, an update. As I predicted, I had to made the Anna Olson recipe. I used the Fat Daddio deep sided 10 inch diameter 2 inch high tart pan, which I would highly recommend for this recipe, as it allows one to have a deeper pie with more room for the filling. I think the made from scratch “digestive biscuit” crust works really well and is more interesting than your standard graham cracker crust. Another plus with this recipe is the “toffee” does not require making a can of dulce de leche but with similar caramel taste and consistency.

I used my iSi N2O charged “whip” to make a sweetened whip cream using 8 ounces heavy cream, 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Using the star tip of the whip, I piped rosettes of cream to finish the pie, and the appearance was more than satisfactory!

The 3 other recipes are fine, but I was very impressed with the Anna Olson pie both for taste and eye appeal. Try this pie and you will get rave reviews!

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Peanut butter and chocolate in the form of a cake

The Reese peanut butter candy has spawned many variations. There are peanut butter chocolate cookies, bars, cupcakes, tarts, etc. Dominque Ansel has a wonderful peanut butter mousse crunch cake that I’ve made from his cookbook “Anyone Can Bake” (remind you of the movie Ratatouille?) and I like it a lot. Jemma Wilson created a nice complex cake using chocolate sponge layers and peanut butter buttercream plus caramel, and Sally McKinney put up a recipe for something similar minus the caramel.

I made the McKinney recipe this past weekend, and I like it very much. As followers of this blog might realize, I am intrigued by the more complex and more difficulty desserts, so the Jemma Wilson cake is something I will have to make in the future, and when I do, I will come back to this blog post and modify it with the results.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Author Sally McKinney

I have modified this recipe somewhat from Sally’s original, and lessened the amount of expresso powder, replaced the hot coffee with hot water, and used Dutch processed cocoa powder.


For the cake layers

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (219g) all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 cup (62g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (180g) full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water
  • 1 cup (170g) mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (tossed in 1 Tablespoon flour)

For the Peanut Butter Buttercream

  • 3/4 cup (170g, or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cup (440g) creamy peanut butter (I used natural smooth peanut butter)
  • 1 and 3/4 cup (210g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream, at room temperature

For the chocolate ganache

  • 8 ounces (226g) quality semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 60% cocao)
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • optional garnish: chopped or mini peanut butter cups


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray 3 9 inch cake tins with baking spray, and line the bottom with parchment paper rounds that are also sprayed.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld mixer, mix the oil, eggs, and sour cream together on medium-high speed until combined. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, add the hot water, and whisk or beat on low speed until the batter is completely combined. Fold in the flour-coated chocolate chips. Batter is thin and you may see some air bubbles on the surface—that’s normal. You should have about 6–6.5 cups of batter, or around 1400g. Divide the batter evenly to the 3 pans.
  3.  Bake for 24 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean (rotate position of the pans at the 12 minute mark). Cool in the pans on a rack (the center might sink a bit, but that is OK).

Make the buttercream

  1. With a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium high speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the peanut butter and beat until completely combined, about 1–2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed to help combine. Mixture will be thin.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract, and salt and then pour in the heavy cream with the mixer running on low speed. After all of the cream has been added, turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat for 1–2 minutes, or until fully combined and creamy. Add up to 1/4 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting seems quite thin. You should end up with about 3.5–4 cups (850g) of peanut butter frosting. This amount makes enough for the filling, crumb coat, and for a little piping on top (I found the amount was not enough left for piping, so I might consider 1.5X the amount of ingredients for the buttercream to allow for extra).

Assemble the cake

  1. Put a paper cake round on a turntable. Place the 1st layer on the cake round, putting the best side down. Take 1 cup of the buttercream and spread with an offset spatula to the edge of the layer.
  2. Center the next layer on top of the 1st and press gently. Spread another cup of the buttercream on the top of this layer.
  3. Center the 3rd layer, best side up on the top of the other layers. Spread 1 cup of buttercream on the top of the cake, and using the rest of the buttercream, create a crumb coat on the sides of the cake. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Make the ganache

  1. Heat the heavy cream to a simmer (do not allow to boil). Put the chocolate pieces in a heat proof bowl, and pour the warm cream over the chocolate. After 1 minute, mix the chocolate and cream together with a whisk or spatula. With occasional mixing, the ganache will thicken, even at room temperature.
  2. After the crumb coat has had time to harden, the ganache can be spread on the top and sides of the cake. As an option, one can increase the amount of ganache by 1.5X (12 ounces of chocolate, 1 1/2 cups of cream) to have enough to pipe decorations with the ganache, or make decorations with the extra buttercream. Refrigerate to harden, and remove 1/2 hour prior to serving.

If you don’t have any buttermilk, make an equivalent by using 1 teaspoon of white vinegar in a cup measuring glass, and add whole milk to the line of 1/2 cup. Let sit for 5 minutes before using.

I recommend weighing the dry ingredients as it is more accurate and reproducible.

Now, let’s jump an order of magnitude to Jemma Wilson’s cake. This, due to the complexity, is something for a more special occasion.

Ultimate Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Caramel Cake

Chocolate Sponge (for 4 9” baking pans)

  • 650 grams all-purpose flour
  • 690 grams caster sugar
  • 120 grams cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 large eggs
  • 450 grams coffee, cooled
  • 450 grams buttermilk
  • 390 grams vegetable oil

Peanut Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 450 grams caster sugar
  • 600 grams unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 jar smooth peanut butter

Salted Caramel

  • 175 grams heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 175 grams caster sugar
  • 75 grams water


  • 150 grams 50% cocao chocolate chips
  • 75 grams unsalted butter
  • 75 grams heavy cream


  • 2-3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter for the drip
  • Salted peanuts for decoration


For the sponge

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl.  Whisk the wet ingredients, then add the dry ingredients, whisk until smooth.  Divide the batter into 4 prepared 9 inch baking pans.  Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool the layers and trim to create even flat surfaced layers.  Refrigerate to firm up the layers.

For the buttercream

Using the bowl of the stand mixer, combine the egg whites and the sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved into the egg whites and the temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Move the bowl to the stand mixer and beat to stiff peaks. Add the butter and beat until combined. Add one jar of smooth peanut butter to complete the buttercream.

For the caramel

Create the caramel in the usual fashion by boiling the water/sugar mixture until golden brown (about 345-350 degrees F), then add the salt, vanilla and heavy cream off the heat.

For the ganache

Heat the cream to a simmer, then pour over the chocolate chips and butter.  Mix thoroughly and let cool.


Cover the top of the 1st layer with the buttercream in a thick layer, and use a small offset spatula to create a well in the buttercream.  Put caramel in the well.  Cover with the 2nd layer of cake and repeat the buttercream/well of caramel, repeat with the 3rd layer.  With the 4th layer, cover with buttercream and crumb coat the sides with buttercream.  Refrigerate for 40 minutes, put a final coat of buttercream on top and the sides, and refrigerate again.

Using the ganache, create a chocolate band halfway up the side of the cake.  Smooth the sides to even the sides, and put back in the refrigerator to firm up.

Microwave some peanut butter and put it into a pastry bag, and create a drip edge at the top of the cake, letting the drips down the side of the cake be of variable length.  Rough chop some peanuts and apply them to the sides of the cake.

Whip up the remaining ganache to add air and lighten the mixture and pipe a decorative border on the top of the cake using a star nozzle.  Fill the middle of the cake top with the caramel, smoothing with an offset spatula.  Refrigerate until serving.

Sounds like fun. I’ll report when I make it.

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A resurrection of a lost recipe—Chocolate Turtle Truffle Cake was created by Condé-Nast as a repository of Gourmet and Bon Appétit recipes, but unfortunately not all recipes are stored and available.  To add insult to injury, now access to is by subscription of $30.00 per year.  Gee-whiz, if you have to make money on the site, just sell ad space and make the site free again.  Anyway, back to the subject.  Prominent among these missing gems is the cookie recipe from the December 1995 issue of Gourmet that I will publish another time.  Another lost recipe is the subject of today’s blog.  

Do you like turtle candy—aka pixies?  Well, if you do, I’ve got a great dessert for you.  Published by Zaan Early Zakroff in the Forbidden Pleasures column in the October 1992 issue of Gourmet, this excellent concoction combines caramel, chocolate and pecans into a toothsome delight.  Luckily for me, I had archived the recipe in my recipe program.  So I submit for your pleasure—

Chocolate turtle truffle cake


Cake Base

  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 large egg, beaten lightly
  • 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract


  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 3 Tbs light corn syrup
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 5 oz pecan halves, (about  1 1/3 cups)


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

Rum burnt-sugar Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/3 cup dark rum


  1. Make the base:  Line the bottom of a buttered 8 1/2 inch springform pan, or tart pan with a removable fluted rim, with a round of wax paper and butter the paper. In a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat and add the cocoa powder while stirring, until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in brown sugar until smooth, and then let mixture cool. Beat in the egg, then stir in flour, pecans, salt and vanilla extract. Spread the batter in the prepared pan, bake the base in the middle of a preheated 350 degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes (until it is just firm to the touch, and pulls away slightly from the side. Let the base cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan and invert the base onto cooling rack, discarding wax paper. While still warm, fit it into 8 inch springform pan (will slope up the sides slightly).
  2. Make the caramel:  In a small heavy saucepan combine the brown sugar, the corn syrup, the butter and the salt, cooking the mixture over moderate heat stirring and washing down any sugar crystals clinging to the side of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water, until the sugar is dissolved. Boil it undisturbed for 8 to 10 minutes, or until candy thermometer registers 280 degrees F. Remove the pan from the heat and add cream, vanilla extract, and lemon juice, stirring to incorporate. Let cool to room temperature (it will thicken). Arrange pecan halves end to end onto the cake base in concentric circles to cover the base completely. Pour cooled caramel in the center of the pecan layer, and allow gravity to spread it.
  3. Make the ganache:  In a small saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil, and remove the pan from heat. Whisk in the chocolate and the salt until the chocolate is completely melted. Cool to room temperature, then beat the ganache with an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks (don’t overbeat, as it will become granular). Spread the ganache evenly over the caramel layer, and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight. (The cake can keep for 1 week chilled and wrapped in foil). Run a thin knife around the edge of the cake, remove the side of the pan, and transfer carefully to a plate. Let cake stand at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to cutting, so that the ganache is a little soft.
  4. Optional Sauce:  In a dry large deep heavy skillet, cook the sugar over moderately high heat, stirring constantly with a fork until melted completely and a deep golden caramel. Remove the skillet from the heat, into the side of it pour the water carefully, a little at a time, and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, until the caramel is dissolved. Add the rum and simmer the sauce for 2 minutes. Pour the sauce into heat-proof dish and cool, then serve on side of cake.

This cake is like a giant turtle candy that you can eat in bit size pieces from a plate! It requires the use of two specific baking pans, an 8 1/2 inch tart ring or tart pan, and an 8 inch springform pan. I do remember when I first made this cake, I had to buy the 8 inch springform (the ones I had were too big). I suppose one could adjust the ingredient amounts to increase the cake to fit larger pans, but I haven’t done so, especially since the richness of this dessert calls for a smaller portion size per person to not have sugar overload.

Please give this lost gem a try. I think you will like the results.

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I create a new bar cookie—Shortbread German Chocolate Bar Cookies (German chocolate bar cookie take 2)

If you follow my blog, you know that I love German Chocolate Cake. I have a bunch of recipes for them, and one of the best of the lot is the Inside Out German Chocolate cake, from Mary Laulis, the owner of the Bridge Street Bakery in Waitsfield, Vermont, the recipe for which was published in Gourmet in 1990. I put this recipe on September 3, 2013 in my post of a summer baking spree But, you don’t want to bake a whole cake every time you have a chocolate craving, so what about something that can fit in your hand? A regular cookie doesn’t work, so that leaves creating a cupcake or a bar cookie. There are a bunch of recipes out on the Net for German Chocolate cupcakes, so I wanted to create something different and hopefully better.

2 years ago, I was inspired to make a recipe for German Chocolate Bar Cookies using my chocolate wafer cookie recipe as a base, and the mashup worked very well. It does involve a far amount of work, as the cookie base is a 3 step process to make the chocolate wafers and then bake them, and then grind them up to make the bar base.

But, in a never ending quest to try something new, I decided that I wanted to try a little different approach to making a coconut/pecan/chocolate bar. I could use a brownie base, like what is used in Martha Stewart’s Black and White bars, but I thought that would be chocolate base+chocolate topping=overload. A standard cookie like a Toll House chocolate chip cookie variation would not be sturdy enough, nor would a sugar cookie work as a base.

So, why not try a shortbread cookie? Shortbread is strong enough to be able to be a base upon which a coco-pecan layer and a chocolate top can rest, and be a nice complement to the other tastes. I am happy to report that this experiment was a success.

Shortbread German Chocolate Bar Cookies

Shortbread base

Shortbread Layer

  • 6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Warm the butter to room temperature, or alternatively, grate the butter with the large holes of a box grater (this will make the cold butter shavings mix well). Cream the butter and the sugar together, using the paddle of a stand mixer. Scrape down the sides a couple of times. Add the vanilla.
  2. Mix the flour and salt, and add to the creamed butter mixture in two batches. Continue to beat on medium until all the flour is incorporated and a dough forms (10 minutes).
  3. Line a 9 inch square baking pan with a sling of parchment paper.
  4. Rest the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Roll to a 9 inch square, or use your hands to make an even distribution of the dough in the pan. Bake in a preheated 325 ° F oven for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are slightly brown and the center is a pale golden color. Cool on a wire rack.

Coconut/Pecan/Dulce de Leche Layer

Coconut pecan mixture
  • 7 ounces sweetened coconut
  • 4 ounces pecans
  • 12 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  1. Heat the oven to 325° F. Line 2 quarter sheet pans with aluminum foil to use to toast the coconut and pecans. Place the coconut flakes on a shelf in the lower 1/3 of the oven and the pecans on a shelf in the upper 1/3 of the oven. Toast for 12-18 minutes, stirring every 4-5 minutes (the pecans will need less time than the coconut). Chop the pecans.
  2. After toasting the above 2 items, remove them to cool.  Increase the oven temperature to 425° F.  Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 9 inch pyrex pie plate and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Put the pie plate in a baking dish and fill the dish with enough water to come half way up the sides of the pie plate.  Bake for 45 minutes, open the oven and add enough water to return the level to halfway up the pie plate, and bake for 45 minutes more.  This caramelizes the condensed milk into a dulce de leches.
  3. Combine the browned condensed milk with the coconut and the pecans.  Spread over the shortbread square.

Chocolate Layer

Chocolate topping

  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  1. Melt the chocolate in a saucepan.  Remove from heat and add the corn syrup and the chocolate.
  2. Mix well and let cool.  Refrigerate for a short time to firm up the consistency.  Pour the mixture onto the cookie square and use an offset spatula to spread to the edges of the cookie in a thin layer.
  3. Refrigerate to set the chocolate, then cut into individual servings.

The bar cookie is rich but not overwhelming. It is an excellent vehicle to satisfy my yearning for that wonderful combination of coconut pecans and chocolate with the shortbread being a counterpoint to the other components. There is a little more labor involved in the production of this bar, but the results are definitely worth the effort.

What you don’t eat up in one sitting can be frozen for another time, without loss of flavor. I have some sitting in the freezer now!

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Chocolate Heaven–the Cupcake Jemma recipe for the ultimate Chocolate Cake

Updated August 15, 2022


I’ve been watching a lot of food prep and recipes on YouTube recently, and while much of the content has a bunch of amateurs posting (hey, look at me cooking!), there are some serious professionals with excellent videos. One of these is Jemma Wilson, owner of Crumbs and Doilies cupcake shop in Kingly Court near Carnaby St in London. Jemma is part of Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube, and she and her staff have posted a number of very useful videos that can be seen on YouTube here in the USA. I have posted a discussion of caramel making in my blog with a link to Jemma’s masterclass on 3 different caramels, which I found to be very helpful.

So, when Jemma has a YouTube for an ultimate chocolate cake, of course I was intrigued. A claim of that magnitude needed to be verified. I am happy to report that I…

View original post 1,112 more words

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I attempt to make a Brooklyn icon, the Ebinger Blackout Cake

I saw a recipe on the New York Times Cooking site for a recreation of a city favorite, the Ebinger Blackout Cake. The Ebinger bakery opened in 1898 at Flatbush and Cortelyou Avenues, with more stores opening later. The bakery closed in 1972, and no official recipe for their most famous creation was even printed. Called a blackout cake (presumably from the nighttime blackouts of Brooklyn during WWII to prevent ships leaving the Brooklyn Navy Yard from being highlighted for German U-boats), the cake is a rich devil’s food layered with chocolate “pudding” and coated with a chocolate ganache and cake crumbs.

Rick Martinez at Bon Appetit also made a version, and it is his recipe that I tried. I should warn you that this cake is labor intensive, and will take most of the day to make. The main question would be if the results are worth the effort. The answer will be determined!

Ebinger Brooklyn Blackout Cake



  • Unsalted butter, room temperature (for pans)
  • ¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus more for pans
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1½ cups (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup hot water


  • ⅓ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolks, beaten to blend
  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • ⅔ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons golden syrup (such as Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature



Step 1

Arrange a rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°. Line two 8×2″-deep round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease with butter, then dust with cocoa powder, tapping out excess.

Cocoa dusted cake pans

Step 2

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and remaining ¾ cup cocoa powder into a medium bowl, then whisk to combine. Whisk egg, egg yolk, brown sugar, sour cream, oil, vanilla, salt, and ¾ cup hot water in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk in dry ingredients until just combined.

Step 3

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25–35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack; let cake cool completely in pan. Invert onto a plate, then invert again.

Evenly divided batter
Cooled cakes

Step 4

Do Ahead: Cake can be baked 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.


Step 5

Whisk cocoa powder and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Whisk in cream until smooth and no lumps remain. Add egg yolks, milk, brown sugar, and salt; whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, then reduce heat to low. Continue to cook, whisking, until thick and smooth, 1–2 minutes.

Step 6

Remove from heat and add chocolate and vanilla, stirring until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto surface of hot pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.  {SDR note–If you want to make a 4 layer cake with thinner cake slices, you will need more pudding.  To get 50% more pudding, use ½ cup cocoa, 7.5 tbs cornstarch, 1.9 cups of cream and 1.9 cups milk, 6 egg yolks, 1 cup dark brown sugar, 6 oz milk chocolate and 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Step 7

Using a serrated knife and sawing in long, even strokes, carefully halve cakes lengthwise. Set aside the 3 prettiest layers for assembly. Crumble remaining layer with your fingers into fine crumbs (or push through a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet). Place 1 layer, cut side up, on a platter or cake stand.  For 4 layers, shave off the domed portion of each cake, and then half the remaining cakes to get 4 even layers.

Step 8

Remove plastic from chilled pudding and vigorously whisk until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, spread half of pudding over cake layer on stand, spreading to edges. Top with another cake layer, cut side down, and spread remaining pudding over cake. Top with third cake layer cut side down (leave top bare). Chill cake 1 hour and up to 8 hours to let pudding firm up.

Step 9

Do Ahead: Pudding can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.


Step 10

Bring cream, syrup, and salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate, sour cream, and butter. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until chocolate and butter are melted and mixture is smooth and no streaks of white remain. Transfer to a medium bowl. Let frosting sit at room temperature, stirring every 30 minutes or so, until thickened and spreadable (it will look like a broken chocolate sauce at first, but magically, about 1½ hours later, it will start to thicken). Stir until smooth. (If your kitchen is warmer than 72°, chill frosting 5 minutes. Stir to combine cooler outer edges with warmer center, then chill another 5 minutes. It should be the consistency of sour cream; if not, chill another 5 minutes and stir.)

Step 11

Spread frosting all over top and sides of chilled cake. The frosting on top should be as smooth and level as possible, but it’s okay if the sides look messy; the crumbs will hide any mistakes you make.

Step 12

Place cake stand on a sheet tray. Take a handful of cake crumbs and press into sides of cake. Repeat, turning cake as you go, to completely cover sides in crumbs. Sprinkle crumbs on outside edges of top layer.

Step 13

4 layers of cake, 4 “pudding” layers, ganache and crumb finish

Do Ahead: Cake can be assembled 1 day ahead. Chill uncovered.  To serve, heat knife in hot water to facilitate cutting.

This cake is very rich. The cake itself is very moist and a little fragile. I decided to try to make the cake in 4 layers instead of 3. I trimmed off the top of each cake (I was surprised that the center of the cake was not domed up, but was a little depressed and slightly underdone). These shavings were what was saved for the crumb coat, although it was not as much crumbs as I would have have using 3 cut layers and using the 4th layer for crumbs.

I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough chocolate “pudding” to cover the 4 layers. Therefore, I made 1.5 times as much “pudding”, and as it turns out, it was not necessary. I hate to call it “pudding” because it is really a chocolate custard (a chocolate creme patissiere). Don’t think this is similar to Jello chocolate pudding, or something else from a box. This is very intense and complex. As it was, I had enough to create a patissiere layer on each of the 4 cake discs, with a bunch left over.

I then covered the cake with the ganache, and used what crumbs I had to coat the bottom half of the cake. The completed cake sat in the refrigerator overnight.

Now, to answer the question, was it worth the effort? The taste testers agree—Yes! The cake is very moist and deep in flavor. However, it is not the very best chocolate cake ever made, as the chocolate intensity is not as pronounced as in Cupcake Jemma’s ultimate chocolate cake
(see the January 27, 2022 post). Still, it was pretty good and worth making again, though not in the “nec plus ultra” class.

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A quick and elegant way to make chicken: chicken paillard with an olive tapenade

There are so many recipes for chicken. I like to eat chicken breasts, but this is a protein that requires a fair amount of effort to get a result that is moist and flavorful and that is cooked just right, neither under nor over done. Even cooked properly, chicken breasts can be bland and boring. Seasoning, herbs, and sauces play a huge role in elevating the end product to something special.

I found this recipe from David Tanis at The NY Times for an entrée that is full of flavor and easy to prepare. The breasts are prepared as a paillard, which is a French word for a thin piece of meat that can be cooked quickly. In this case, chicken breasts are sliced and then pounded to an even thickness, seasoned in a quick and simple marinade of salt, pepper, thyme and olive oil, sautéed in a pan, finished in the oven, and served with a dab of tapenade, a traditional Provençal black olive paste, which makes a perfect accompaniment.

chicken paillard with olive tapenade


• 1 cup pitted Niçoise olives
• 4 anchovy fillets
• 3 garlic cloves, grated
• 1 tablespoon capers, well rinsed
• 3 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
• ½ teaspoon orange zest
• ½ teaspoon lemon zest
• Pinch of red-pepper flakes
• ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 8 ounces each
• Salt and pepper
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon roughly chopped thyme, plus a few sprigs
• 8 wide strips of lemon zest, from 1 medium lemon
• 5 ounces wild arugula (about 4 handfuls)
• A piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino Romano, for shaving
• Lemon wedges


  1. Make the tapenade: In the bowl of a food processor, place olives, anchovy, garlic, capers, parsley, orange zest, lemon zest, red-pepper flakes and olive oil. Pulse several times to make a rough paste, then scrape down sides of the bowl and purée for about 30 seconds more. Alternatively, use a knife to finely chop ingredients, transfer them to a bowl and stir in the olive oil. You should have about 1 cup of tapenade, more than you need for this recipe. (Refrigerate the remainder for up to 2 weeks.)
  2. Prepare the chicken: Working one at a time, lay chicken breast on a sturdy cutting board. With a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut breast horizontally in half, almost, but not completely. Open the breast like a book; it will be a heart-shaped piece of meat. Lay the breast between two resealable plastic bags and lightly pound the breast to ⅜- to ½-inch thickness. Don’t pound too hard, or the meat may tear. When all breasts are ready, transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet in one layer.
  3. Season each breast on both sides with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle with chopped thyme, and rub seasoning into meat, coating evenly with oil. Scatter thyme sprigs and lemon zest strips over. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. Set oven to 400 degrees. Put a large skillet over medium-high heat, and lightly coat bottom with olive oil. When oil is hot, lay two chicken breasts top-side down in skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn over and cook 1 minute more. Transfer breasts to a clean baking sheet, browned-side up. Repeat with the other breasts.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes, until firm to the touch. Remove from oven, keep warm and let rest 5 minutes. Remove and discard thyme sprigs and lemon zest strips.
  6. Put arugula in a bowl, and dress very lightly with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Place a handful of dressed greens on each of four plates. Place cooked paillards alongside. Smear 1 tablespoon tapenade across the surface of each breast. With a vegetable peeler, shave some cheese over arugula. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

I modified the recipe somewhat. I made the tapenade with 3 different olives; kalamata, castelvetrano, and dry cured black in equal amounts. I used a very good quality EVOO for the tapenade. I left out the citrus and the pepper flakes in the marinade step, and I also skipped the use of lemon in the final serving. I placed the lightly dressed arugula on the plate, put a little of the tapenade on the arugula, then a piece of the cooked chicken on top of the greens, spooning more tapenade over the top surface of the chicken and finished with Parmesan shavings.

You might wish to use the citrus called for in a recipe, as it will give an acidic splash to the final result, but I didn’t think it necessary. Letting the chicken slices sit with the salt, pepper, thyme and olive oil for 30 minutes gives the chicken just the right amount of “brine” time and keeps the chicken moist and flavorful. The timing of the sauté and finishing in the hot oven solves the issue of under or over cooking of the chicken.

You end up with something on the plate that is visually appealing and tastes wonderful. Serve it by itself, or make a small side of crispy roast potatoes or pasta alla lemone. and a little of the tapenade works well with either of these sides. A little tapenade on a crostini tastes great too!

Posted in Chicken, Cooking, elegant entreé, Main course, Recipe | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chocolate Heaven–the Cupcake Jemma recipe for the ultimate Chocolate Cake

I’ve been watching a lot of food prep and recipes on YouTube recently, and while much of the content has a bunch of amateurs posting (hey, look at me cooking!), there are some serious professionals with excellent videos. One of these is Jemma Wilson, owner of Crumbs and Doilies cupcake shop in Kingly Court near Carnaby St in London. Jemma is part of Jamie Oliver’s FoodTube, and she and her staff have posted a number of very useful videos that can be seen on YouTube here in the USA. I have posted a discussion of caramel making in my blog with a link to Jemma’s masterclass on 3 different caramels, which I found to be very helpful.

So, when Jemma has a YouTube for an ultimate chocolate cake, of course I was intrigued. A claim of that magnitude needed to be verified. I am happy to report that I think the title is justified! The cake is very rich, very moist and very chocolaty on its own, and the use of American buttercream and chocolate ganache creates a state of chocolate bliss (or overload, depending on your love of chocolate). So, for chocolate nirvana, make this cake!

Cupcake Jemma's Ultimate Chocolate Cake

Ultimate Chocolate Cake


Chocolate sponge

  • 250 grams unsalted butter
  • 250 grams 70% bittersweet chocolate
  • 180 ml hot water into which dissolve 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 4 large eggs
  • 150 ml buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower (or any other flavorless) oil
  • 430 grams caster sugar
  • 150 grams all purpose flour
  • 150 grams self rising flour
  • 60 grams cocoa powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Chocolate ganache

  • 100 grams unsalted butter
  • 200 grams 50 to 55% cocoa bittersweet chocolate
  • 100 ml heavy cream (British “double cream” US 36% fat heavy whipping cream)

Chocolate buttercream

  • 125 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 225 grams powdered sugar
  • 80 grams 70% cocoa bittersweet chocolate melted


For the chocolate sponge

  1. Melt the butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat with 180 ml of coffee (used to enhance the chocolate flavor), stirring constantly until smooth.  Remove from heat and let cool.  If it splits and separates, don’t worry.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk 4 eggs.  Add 150 ml of buttermilk.  To make buttermilk from 2% milk, for every cup of milk, add 1 tsp white vinegar. You can also use sour cream instead of buttermilk. Whisk the liquid with the eggs.  Add the oil and whisk together.  While whisking, add the cooled chocolate mixture to incorporate. Add the sugar and whisk together. Into the wet mixture, sift 150 grams of all purpose flour, 150 grams of self rising flour, 60 grams of cocoa powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, and a half teaspoon of salt. Stir the mixture together with a wooden spoon. Use the whisk and beat vigorously to remove any lumps. If you don’t have self rising flour you can make the 150 grams of all purpose flour to which you add 9.6 grams of Baking powder.
  3. Divide the batter into 4 7 inch cake rounds that have been prepped with the bottom and the sides with butter and flour. Use an offset spatula to smooth the batter evenly to level the surface.  The cake tins should be half full.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven at 170 degrees C Fan (convection) for 21 to 22 mInutes. Skewer test each cake to make sure that each tin is done as the tins could bake unequally.  Cool on a rack or surface for 5 minutes, then turn out each layer onto pieces of parchment paper. After the cakes have cooled completely, Carefully use a serrated knife to trim off the dome of each layer.  Continue to cool the layers in the refrigerator.

For the Chocolate ganache:

In a microwave safe bowl, put the bittersweet chocolate and butter together. Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave using 30 second intervals stirring in between until combined. Add 100 milliliters of double cream and combine.  Set aside and it will continue to thicken.

For the chocolate buttercream:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer until pale and fluffy   Add a pinch of salt.  Add 225 grams of powdered sugar (icing sugar) in 2 separate additions (turn in the sugar with a spatula first before using the hand mixer so that sugar doesn’t fly everywhere).  Fold in the melted chocolate by hand with a spatula until completely combined,

To assemble the cake:

1.Use a cake board, and put the 1st layer in center of the board,  Make sure the buttercream is soft enough to spread so as to not rip the cake layer (use a little milk to thin the buttercream or pop in the microwave for a few seconds at a time).  Put about ½ cup dollop of the buttercream onto the center of the cake layer and using an offset spatula smooth the buttercream to the edge of the cake layer. Place the next cake layer carefully on top of the first layer and repeat the spreading of the buttercream on this layer. Carefully center the third layer on top of the cake and repeat using the buttercream. Place the 4th layer on top of the cake, smooth side up, making sure that it is well centered.  Optional, cover the top of the fourth layer with the remaining buttercream.  Refrigerate the cake.

2. Take a large offset spatula, and cover the top of the cake with the ganache,  Carefully add ganache to the sides of the cake, and smooth the sides with a cake scraper.  Remove excess ganache from the top with the scraper to smooth the ganache from the outside inwards.  Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.  Cut the cake with a heated knife.

I didn’t have 7 inch cake pans, but I did have three 8 inch pans, so I used them instead. Dividing the sponge between three 8 inch pans instead of four 7 inch pans created sponges that were slightly too much batter in each 8 inch pan, resulting in needing longer baking times to get a clean tester. It also meant that the individual layers were too thick, so when the layers were completely cooled, I cut them in half horizontally. I used the 4 best looking layers for my cake assembly. When I tried this recipe a 2nd time, I had problems with the center of the cake being significantly undercooked in the 8 inch pan. I think I have a solution to this. Cake strips that wrap around the pan decrease the speed of cooking of the cake edges. Rose Levy Beranbaum has marketed silicone cake strips for 8 and 9 inch pans that should be the answer, so I have ordered some. The silicone is oven safe to 500 degrees, and will slow the outer cooking of the cakes. The other secret is to limit the fill of the cake mixture to 1/2 the height of the cake pan, no more.

I increased the chocolate ganache by 50% (150 gms butter, 300 gms 54% cocao bittersweet chocolate, and 150 gms heavy whipping cream), as I wanted to cover the top of the cake with a thin layer of American chocolate buttercream, then refrigerate the assembled 4 layers for 1 hour before topping with the chocolate ganache and coating the sides of the cake with the ganache. I went a little overboard with a basketweave decorated side! My 2nd attempt with the recipe I tried the use of an Italian meringue buttercream for the layers, the top and the crumb coat instead of the American buttercream, with truly excellent results.

Refrigerate the cake until 1 hour before serving. Sit at room temperature, and then slice with a warmed chef’s knife. This cake is almost unbelievable! Even if you don’t like coffee, do not think of not using it in the making of the sponge. The coffee enhances the chocolate flavor without a notice of coffee flavor. The cake does live up the hype of “ultimate” and is the best chocolate cake I have ever had! Using an Italian meringue chocolate buttercream makes it even better. Here are good recipes from Martha Stewart and from Claire Saffitz:

Martha Stewart Italian meringue buttercream

1 ¼ cups sugar

2/3 cup water

Bring to a boil until 238 degrees F

5 large egg whites

1 pinch cream of tartar

1 pound unsalted butter at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Meanwhile, place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on low speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium-high speed until stiff but not dry; do not overbeat.

With mixer running, add syrup to whites in a stream, being careful to let the stream fall on the edge of the egg whites so as to prevent the hot syrup from hitting the moving whisk. Beat on high speed until no longer steaming, about 3 minutes. Add butter bit by bit, beating until spreadable, 3 to 5 minutes; beat in vanilla. If icing curdles, keep beating until smooth.

Flavors to the buttercream are added at this point. In the case of chocolate, I added 6 ounces of melted (then cooled) 60% cacao chocolate, blended to incorporate.

Proportions for Swiss meringue buttercream Martha Stewart

6 ounces egg whites

12 ounces sugar

16 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature

Claire Saffitz buttercreams:

Swiss Buttercream


  • 3 sticks (342 grams) unsalted butter softened
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Vanilla bean, or vanilla paste or extract (1 teaspoon)


  1. Create a double boiler with simmering water in a pan upon which the bowl of the stand mixer can sit.  Add the egg whites, the ¼ tsp of cream of tartar, and the sugar.  Whisk everything together until an instant thermometer registers 160 degrees F.  Take the mixer bowl to the stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, beat until stiff peaks are obtained.
  2. Leave the whisk attached, and toss in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time into the bottom of the bowl with the mixer on medium high.  Take your time to get a good emulsion mixture.  After ½ of the butter is added, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and get the mixture off the whisk. 
  3. Using the paddle to finish incorporating the butter into the mixture.  Wait until each piece of butter is mixed in before adding the next piece.
  4. After all the butter is mixed in, add the vanilla.  You are done!

Italian buttercream:

It uses the same ingredients as the Swiss buttercream, but with a different technique for mixing the egg whites and sugar.

  1. Put the 3 egg whites in the bowl of the stand mixer, add a pinch of kosher salt and ¼ tsp of cream of tartar.
  2. In a saucepan, combine ¾ cup of granulated sugar with ¼ cup water, pouring the water down along the outside edge of the pan.  As the sugar heats, have a pastry brush and water ready to prevent crystallization at the sides of the pan.  Heat the pan on medium, stirring the sugar with a heatproof spatula until the sugar/water mixture starts to boil.  Stop stirring and use the wet pastry brush to water the sides of the pan to stop any crystals from forming.
  3. Start whipping the egg whites.  As soon as the temperature of the sugar hits 245°F, remove from heat.  It is important when you add the sugar syrup to the beating egg whites that none of the syrup hits the whisk of the stand mixer, so carefully pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl so it trickles into the egg whites and does not splatter.  Beat until stiff peaks, and turn off the mixer to let the bowl cool down back to room temperature before adding the butter.
  4. Add the butter in the same manner as described for the Swiss buttercream, again switching to the paddle halfway through.  Add any flavorings at the end.
  5. The Italian is more stable than the Swiss.
Posted in Baking, Chocolate, Dessert, Recipe | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments