Archive for: chocolate chips
The bright red packaging of Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips definitely caught my eye on the baking aisle last time I was stocking up at the store. The chips are a seasonal item, just around for the Christmas holiday season. They’re creamy faux white chocolate chips that have a festive read and white look and a minty peppermint flavor. I don’t usually go for faux white chocolate (by which I mean that these are made with vegetable oils, not cocoa butter), but these have a pleasantly smooth texture and a good mixture of cream and peppermint flavors.
They’re very easy to bake with, as you can throw them in to any recipe just like chocolate chips. Their festive red color means that they’re nice for decorating cupcakes and cookies, too. They maintained their flavor during baking – adding a hint of peppermint, not an overwhelming burst of it – and weren’t too sweet, which was nice. They’re not quite as good for snacking as plain white chocolate is, however, since they don’t have the ultra-smooth melt of a higher quality chocolate. Still, I definitely think these are fun for baking and give you a nice way to add a splash of color and a pop of peppermint to holiday treats.
Semisweet chocolate chips are the default mix-in for most chocolate chip cookie recipes. Over the past several years, consumers have seen a huge increase in the variety of chocolate chips (and chocolate chunks) available at the grocery store as options for baking. One question I get asked frequently is whether it is ok to substitute one type of chocolate chips for another, and what difference it will make in the final recipe.
The short answer is that it is perfectly fine to substitute one type of chocolate chips for another in a recipe that calls for them. This is true for cookies, cakes, brownies and other recipes that call for mixing-in a quantity of chocolate chips. Most recipes call for semisweet chocolate by default, as those are still the most common type of chocolate chip, but some will make recommendations for milk or dark chocolate chips based on what the recipe author thinks tastes best in that recipe.
All chocolate is made up of cocoa solids – cocoa butter and cocoa powder – and typically includes sugar, an emulsifier and vanilla. Milk chocolate has milk solids added to it as well, while dark chocolate does not. Semisweet chocolate is not strictly defined (there is no exact amount of sugar to be called “semisweet”, though it generally means no more than 50% of the mass of the chocolate is sugar as opposed to “sweet” chocolates, where there is even more sugar) but it is essentially dark chocolate because it does not contain milk solids. Semisweet chocolates are not typically very sweet, but they are sweeter, not as intensely flavored and lack the bitter notes that some “ultra-dark” chocolates have. Semisweet chocolate gives a balanced flavor to most chocolate chip cookie recipes, adding just the right amount of sweetness and chocolate flavor. A darker chocolate, with more bitter cocoa notes than semisweet, will have a stronger presence in a cookie or cake and may overwhelm some of the subtle flavors in that recipe. Milk chocolate is typically much sweeter than either of these and can actually taste too sweet in a cookie or cake, as it does not add enough contrasting chocolate flavor.
You can never go wrong with a good chocolate chip cookie, and as much as I enjoy making more elaborate baked goods like creme brulees and homemade cinnamon rolls, I will always come back to the classic chocolate chip cookie from time to time. Chocolate chip cookies can be crispy, chewy, cakey or somewhere in between. Regardless of what type of chocolate chip cookie you’re eating, they should always be buttery, packed full of chocolate chips and hopelessly addictive.
I like to call these Really Good Chocolate Chip Cookies because they are exactly that: really good. The cookies get a wonderful flavor from butter, brown sugar and a healthy dose of vanilla extract. A hint of extra salt in the cookie dough gives them their addictive quality (without making them seem salty) and offsets the generous amount of sugar in the cookie dough. They’re tender and chewy, and they stay chewy for several days after baking when stored in an airtight container. These are definitely some of my favorite chocolate chip cookies, and they are always a crowd pleaser.
These are fairly large chocolate chip cookies and I prefer to use fairly large chocolate chips in them for the best results. In this particular batch, I actually used See’s Candies huge Semisweet Chocolate Chips in these. Guittard’s chocolate chips tend to be on the larger side, as well. Alternatively, you can also cut up chocolate bars into coarse chunks and stir those in instead of chocolate chips. I like classic semisweet chips in my cookies, but bittersweet chocolate and even dark chocolate will also make excellent cookies.
It is great to have an ice cream maker at home if you’re a big ice cream lover. Homemade ice cream, straight out of the machine, is something that is hard to beat with storebought products. It’s also fun because it is so easy to customize the ice cream with your favorite mix-ins, whether you like to add crushed up Oreo cookies or a swirl of caramel sauce. There are some ice cream recipes out there that you can make without an ice cream maker and still get outstanding results. One recipe that comes to mind uses sweetened condensed milk as a base and has whipped heavy cream folded into it, which adds the air that is normally incorporated into ice cream by an ice cream mixer. It’s easy to make, works out extremely well and, of course, uses no special equipment of any kind.
No-Churn Chocolate Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream is this type of recipe. It starts out with a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, chocolate sauce, vanilla and peppermint extracts. Heavy cream is beaten to soft peaks and folded into the base. The resulting ice cream has an almost mousse-like consistency that just melts when it hits your tongue. It has a light chocolate flavor with just enough mint added to it. It is light and creamy, and it is never too hard to scoop straight out of the freezer. I have used homemade chocolate sauce when making this ice cream, but it is honestly just as good with a good quality chocolate or chocolate fudge sauce to use as flavoring (because you know you have some for homemade sundaes).
I typically fold small chocolate chips or coarsely chopped dark chocolate into this ice cream before freezing it. If you have mint chocolate baking pieces, which are sometimes available in grocery stores, or chopped mint chocolate bars, they will work even better and get a little more mint into your finished product.
You’re probably used to seeing the same types of chocolate chips in markets over and over, so when I saw the bright white packaging of Enjoy Life Semisweet Chocolate Mega Chunks, it caught my eye and I picked one up to try. Enjoy Life products are made without the eight most common food allergens – wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish – and are marketed as being allergy friendly. Their chocolate chunks are also marketed as being allergy friendly, and they definitely are, as it says right on the packaging that they are manufactured in a dedicated nut and gluten free facility on a product line dedicated to dairy and soy free products.
The chocolate chunks contain evaporated cane juice, chocolate and cocoa butter. Most semisweet chocolate is made with just sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter and sometimes vanilla (some brands have an emulsifier added, as well, but not all), so I wasn’t surprised when this chocolate tasted almost exactly the same as other semisweet chocolates I’ve tried. It had a good, not-too-sweet flavor and an excellent melt on the tongue. I liked the bar-like shape of the chocolate chunks, which varied in length but not width, and felt that they were a great shape for chocolate chip cookies. Not needing an allergy free food, I would buy these again just because I liked the flavor and the shape of them. It’s great for those with food allergies to know that these chocolate chips, although they are made in pretty much the same way as other chocolate chips, are made in a facility where they won’t be exposed to other allergens, so you can enjoy your chocolate chip cookies – gluten free, peanut free or just regular cookies – without worries and with some good chocolate chunks.