Category Archives: Cookies

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies and Post-Guatemala

chocolate gingerbread cookies

I still haven’t blogged about the last couple of days in Guatemala, but since I already started posting recipes, it’s too choppy to go back and finish it off. So, I’ll end that journey off by sharing my thoughts and feelings post-Guatemala.

My first day back in Vancouver

Woke up in bed today with a sinking realization. It finally hit me that I’m not in Guatemala anymore. I’m back in Vancouver and surrounded by inches of snow. No more palm trees. No more rolling hills. No more rooster morning wake up calls. No more Sheily. And worst part of all: no more SOS peeps.

I’m a bit late to this awakening, since most people already cried and spiritually said their goodbyes on our last night in Guatemala City. 

The whole day, I felt like I was just a shell. Empty and hollow. The essence of me was left behind somewhere on the winding paths in Bueno Vista. 

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1 week later

After coming home from Guatemala, my perspective on the world and how I want to live my life has changed. Though I was only there for a little more than a week, the people and culture of that country have left have a huge impact on me that I don’t think will ever fade. 

I think the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is having gratitude and carrying that with you through everyday life. 

A couple years ago, I started my happiness journey. What triggered it? A really unhappy year as a freshman in university. Before that, I never gave much thought to my own happiness. I think I just ran on automode all the time. My goal was to just study 24/7, get the grades, then get that dream job and start rolling in 6 figures. My definition of life and “happiness” was really narrow. Sure, I guess I could go through life living like that, but will I satisfied? Will I ever reach the self-actualization phase that Abraham Maslow was talking about?

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When I embarked on my search,  I started a gratitude journal for me to write one liners and reminders about what I’m grateful for. 

“Today I’m grateful for… emotional learning experiences.”

“Today I’m grateful for… feeling needed and loved by my family.”

“Today I’m grateful for… the sis and bro”

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On shitty days, it’s really hard to find something good to write about. Since I’m a pessimist by nature, I have a tendency to revert to negativity, deconstructing myself in the most harmful way as I critique myself for pages and pages on end.

On good days though, I feel a lot more up lifted after I write. 

These observations tell me two things:

1. The gratitude journal is working.

2. I let external circumstances affect me too much. Bad days I’m sad, angry, regretful, and embarrassed. Good days, I’m motivated, inspired and energized.

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This is where I feel kind of ashamed. One of the things that I noticed about Guatemalans is that they are much happier people than we are. They have less than what we would deem as “the bare essentials”, yet they are some of the most cheerful people I have ever met. Despite having so little, they were more than welcome to share and give, asking for nothing in return. Those three actions, according to writer Gretchen Rubin, cultivate happiness and contentment.

On our last day in Bueno Vista, we visited a small church that was located just uphill of the school we were volunteering at. The pastor said something so beautiful that my friend, Yuki, and I silently held each other as we cried. In his best English, the pastor said: 

Life is about spiritual living conditions, not physical living conditions.

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It’s been 4 years since I began my happiness journey and I felt deeply resonated with that quote. I sat there in the front pew, surrounded by a bunch of new friends who are really more like family at this point, and felt this serene energy grow from within me.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that I shouldn’t only try to find happiness in one event per day. I should be happy with what I have and find the good in everyday life, not just when I feel like it or when circumstances make it easy for me to do so.

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Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnmon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (I used ground nutmeg)
1 tbsp Dutch processed cocoa (any type will do here, it’s just a cookie!)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 tbsp freshly grated peeled ginger
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used Roger’s best brown)
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp boiling water
7 ounces semi sweet chocolate chunks (I used 8 ounces, just for good measure ;) )
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

Sift flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves nutmeg and cocoa in a bowl. 

Beat butter and ginger on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar, beat until combined. Add molasses, beat until combined.

Dissolve baking soda in hot water in a small bowl.

Beat half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. 

Beat in all of the dissolved baking soda. Then add in the last half of the flour.

Gently fold chocolate into the dough.

Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 

Remove dough from fridge and roll into balls and cover with granulated sugar.

Bake for 10-12 minutes and let it cool on the baking sheet before moving. 

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

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Macarons, not Macaroons

vanilla bean macarons

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One of my biggest pet peeves after slow walkers (old people exempted) is when people make the mistake of calling macarons “macaroons”. Seriously, if you can’t get the name right, you don’t deserve to eat them. Either of them. OH, what’s even worse is when they try to correct me: “What are macarons? Did you mean macaroons?” AUGHHH. Sometimes, people annoy me to no end.

Anyway, rant aside, check out the FIRST macarons I have ever made!!!!! For years, I couldn’t muster up the courage to make these bad boys. Why? Well, they’re just super high maintenance and touchy. Everything, from heating the sugar syrup to folding the egg whites, has to be done JUST right. Last Saturday, I decided to get over my silly fear of egg whites and ground almonds and move on with my life.

Since it was my first time making macarons, I expected disaster. I expected cracked, hollow, and thin meringue shells. You see, I’m what you call a lazy baker. I don’t measure exactly. I hate taking the extra time to level off, sift, and pack. I just guesstimate. So even though I knew that macarons needed to be done with exact measurements, I didn’t bother because I expected everything to go wrong.

Annnd, a lot of things did go wrong. First, I couldn’t get the egg whites to form stiff peaks and after half an hour of trying I realized that idiot-me used a spoon that touched egg yolks to stir the egg whites. Then I spilt about 2 tbsps of ground almond, so that threw everything off balance. And to top it all off, I made the crappiest buttercream (I spilt about 1/2 a bag of icing sugar into the mixer, whoops) to sandwich everything together. 

Despite all of that, the macarons weren’t that bad! My mom and dad, for the first time ever, actually liked what I made!!! (They’re my biggest critics).

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Macarons, Bouchon Style

Ingredients

212 grams Almond Flour/Meal
212 grams Powdered Sugar
82 and 90 grams Egg Whites
1 Tbsp Vanilla Paste
236 grams and 1 pinch Granulated Sugar
158 grams Water

OR

1 3/4 cups + 2 1/2 Tbsp  Almond Flour/Meal
1 3/4 cups + 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp and 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp  Egg Whites
1 Tbsp Vanilla Paste
1 cup + 3 Tbsp and 1 pinch Granulated Sugar
2/3 cup Water

How To

1. On parchment paper, make a template for piping out your macarons by tracing circles. You want your shells to be as close as possible in diameter because uneven macarons are ugly. 

2. Preheat your oven. If you have a convection 350 degrees F, or to 400 degrees F if you have a standard oven. 

3. If your almond flour has chunks of almond, grind in the food processor using the “pulse” function to get reallly find almond flour.

4. Sift almond flour and icing sugar into a large bowl and whisk it together.

5. Make a well in the center, then pour in 82 grams or 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp of egg whites and stir to combine. Add vanilla and stir.

6. Place the rest of the egg whites, 92 grams or 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp, in the bowl of a standmixer or a bowl where you can use your handmixer on.

7. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan. Over medium heat, cook the mixture until it reaches 203F/110C to make a syrup.

8. While the syrup is cooking, add one pinch of sugar into the bowl of egg whites. On medium speed, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. If you reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248F/120C, then reduce speed to low just to keep the egg whites moving.

9. When the syrup reaches 248F/120C, take the saucepan off the heat! 

10. Keeping your mixer on medium-low speed, slowing drizzle in the syrup while it is still hot. The egg whites will deflate, don’t worry it’s normal!

11. After all the syrup is added in, crank mixer up to medium speed and whip the egg whites for about 5 mins to get stiff and glossy peaks. The bowl should be cool, but if not, just keep on whipping. This syrup and egg white mixture is called a MERINGUE. 

12. Fold 1/3 of your meringue into the almond mixture. Continue folding in small portions of meringue until you can fold the batter over itself like a ribbon. The mixture should hold its shape – not too stiff but not too loose that it dissolves into itself

13. Transfer mixture into a piping bag and fill the circles on your template. 

14. Bake for 8-10mins in a convection oven. For standard oven, reduce heat to 325F and bake for 9-12 mins (make sure to reheat back up to 350F before putting in the next batch). You want to look for these indicators: shiny surface and crispness

Recipe from Bouchon Bakery

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Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

There’s a pile of papers and textbooks waiting for me to read, but I just have to share this cookie with you. I was going to wait until the weekend to share, but that would just be way too selfish of me. I can’t make you guys wait until the weekend, could never do that to you, that would just be cruel. You need to know about this nooowwww.

Look at it. Isn’t it beautiful?

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skillet cookie

Best part: it was made and baked in ONE skillet. If you hate doing dishes like I do, this is the cookie for you!

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I have always always always wanted to make a skillet cookie. They just look so much better than the average baking sheet cookie. So much chewier, and thicker and chocolatey-er. The result? Faaaaantasical. Every bit as delightful as I imagined, except I may or may not have burnt the roof of  my mouth… Yea, don’t be like me. Let the cookie cool before digging in. I hope someone benefits from my dumb mistake :P

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I realized (after I ate the entire cookie) that I forgot some crucial crucial ingredients: ice cream, chocolate sauce, and caramel sauce. I was banging my head against the wall and holding the empty skillet in my hand. How could I forget?!

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Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Ingredients

  • 1 stick Butter (salted/unsalted will work here)
  • ½ cups Granulated Sugar
  • ½ cups Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1-½ cup All-purpose Flour
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate, Cut In Chunks

How To

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter in an 8 inch cast iron skillet set over medium-low heat. Stir in sugars and vanilla and remove from heat. Let rest until pan is warm, but no longer very hot, about 5 minutes.

2. Crack an egg onto the butter and sugar mixture, and use a fork to whisk it into the mixture. Place flour, baking soda, and salt on top, and very carefully stir into the mixture until smooth and well-mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks. Place in the oven for 15-25 minutes, or until starting to turn golden on the top and around the edges, but still soft in the center. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Source: How Sweet Eats

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