Thursday, June 20, 2013

The "Fake" Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie (★ ★ ★ ★ ☆)

This recipe is Ron Swanson approved.

Yes, that Ron Swanson.

Ron (bleeping) Swanson.
Pawnee's Parks and Recreation Director.
Wood worker.
Bacon Aficionado.

The man's man.

This may seem weird, but I find him incredibly sexy...mustache and all.  

And I HATE mustaches.  The whole hipster "trend" is horrifying to me.  
But there is just something about Ron's that is undeniably masculine.  
(I kinda like it).  Ew, I did not just say that! 

He's the kind of guy that makes you want to shoot some whiskey, puff a cigar, or pack a shotgun.


Ahhhhh, and in a bow tie no less.

Yes, this cookie would impress even him. 
Of course, he didn't tell me that personally.

But it doesn't matter that I never sent him a lovingly wrapped package of freshly baked cookies. 

Or that he didn't call me to tell me how I am the woman solely responsible for introducing him to his fourth favorite food.

I know - in my heart - he'd accept it.   Because this is a man's cookie.

Extremely Hearty.
Perfectly Delicious.
Plain and gets the job done.  

And it gets it done well. 
There is quite the urban legend behind these cookies. 

It goes: a woman tried these at the Neiman Marcus café and fell so madly in love with them that she offered to pay for the recipe.
However, she was told that it would cost her “two-fifty.”
Unbeknownst to her, they meant $250, not the modest $2.50 she had anticipated. 
Neiman Marcus was none too sympathic to her story, so in a fit of revenge she mass emailed the world so they could benefit from her $250 mistake.  Hell hath no fury, right?
But I imagine this would leave Ron Swanson quite unimpressed.

In fact, he’d be put off by this woman’s overly dramatic display of emotion....And well, frankly, her stupidity. 
He’d be much more approving of the real story behind my making these cookies. 
I implored my friends to pass along their most beloved chocolate chip recipes, and a one –Jimmy – responded in kind. He went so far as to say that this recipe was “his baby” and “the best dessert he has ever made.”
“The working class man’s cookie”
And there you have it.
The "Fake" Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
Graciously bestowed to me by Jimmy and to him through Ms. Kelene 

1 Cup (2 Sticks) of Butter (room temperature)
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
2.5 Cups of Quaker Rolled Oatmeal (before blending)
2 Cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 Cups (12 oz.) Chocolate Chips
4 oz. of Grated Chocolate Bar

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees
Bake for 12-14 minutes
Makes Approx. 24 Cookies (using a golfball sized ball of dough - preferred size)
                     40 Cookies (using a tablespoon sized ball of dough)
1) In a medium sized bowl, cream butter and both sugars together.  Mixture will be very thick.
2) Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat until just combined.
3) Measure out 2.5 cups of oatmeal.  (I recommend using Quarter Oats or a brand of oatmeal with a
    softer texture.  I used Trader Joe's brand and it never seemed to cook all the way in the dough).
    Blend to a fine powder.  You can use a food processor or what
    ever you have on hand. (pssst. I used my coffee grinder.)
4) In a small bowl, mix blended oatmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir to combine.
5) Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture.  Beat to combine.
6) Add in chocolate chips.
7) Add in grated chocolate.  (I tried to use a cheese grater, but the chocolate kept melting in my hand.  I 
    ended up chopping the remaining pieces as finely as I could).
8) Roll dough into golfball-sized balls and place two inches apart onto a well greased sheet. (You can 
    make these smaller, but I found this to be the best size texture-wise and had the perfect balance of 
    crisp-to-chew-to chocolate gooeyness). Place in 350F Degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Tops will be 
    cooked, but not brown.  This dough cooks to a lighter color.  Leave on baking sheet for 2-5 mins to 
    cool, then place cookies on cooling rack. 
9) This dough does not need to be refrigerated overnight first.  It actually gets very hard in the fridge.  If 
    you do have leftover dough, just let it sit out on the counter for a few minutes before cooking again. 

Review: Are these the best chocolate chip cookies in the world?  I don’t know. 

But they are darn good.  And the dough is literally the best tasting dough I’ve ever had in a chocolate chip cookie.  The ground oatmeal gives them an UNBELIEVABLE flavor!
They are crispy on the outside and perfectly gooey in the middle. 
My only issue with them is that they lose their exquisite texture overnight.  These are definitely bake’em and eat’em cookies.  And you have to get the right oatmeal brand.  I used Trader Joe’s and even though I blended them to a pulp, I could still taste the hard, uncooked (microscopic, mind you) flecks of oatmeal.  Next time, I’ll use Quaker Oats and see if that solves my problem. 
Notice, how I said next time?  Meaning, I’ll make these again? 

Ya, that’s pretty rare. 
Actually, I’ve already made these twice in the past week. 
And if that doesn’t say something about these -  I don’t know what will. 
For the working man, woman, child,
And mustached Ron's of the world,
This is for you.

 These were featured June 2013:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thai Tea Two Ingredient Ice Cream (★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆)

So "Phase One" of Rebuild Natalie's world is complete.

My Bestie is all moved and settled into the Coastal Land of the Hippies...more commonly known as Santa Cruz.  

And I've only been to visit her twice!  
She's been gone five whole days!  

That's pretty impressive considering we've seen each other practically every day since we decided to become BFF's three years ago.  

Yes, we literally just kids in kindergarten.  
And the rest is history!

I have to say, though, I knew I would miss her once she moved out, but I thought I'd miss our lamenting over the decline of "Smash" sessions or her incessant need to show me every. single. item of clothing she bought that day (yes, every. day.).  

So I was surprised that it hit me hardest at 6:30am, the morning after we moved her out.  
Because I am a morning grump!
I've spent the past ten months praying every morning that our paths wouldn't cross for at least a good half hour...or better yet - ever.

I know!  I sound horrible.
It's because I am!

I need the morning to adjust to being alive again. What am I doing?  Why am I here?  Do I really exist?
These are some of life's most difficult questions and I get asked them each and every morning.  
So ya, I'm not really excited to talk about how amazing it will be when we all have a chance to walk on the moon.  At this moment, I kinda want to blow up the moon.

But that morning, it hit me.  I would never inconveniently bump into her again.  Those weepy Dolly Parton serenades that used to aggravate me to no end, now sounded kind of sweet.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still not fully functional until 8am.  
It's been a few days and I think I've gotten the hang of this new routine.
So I think I'll stick with the memories for now. :)
One of my favorite memories, though - untainted by morning grumpiness - has to be the day Bestie introduced me to Thai Tea.

I had dragged her to a Salsa lesson at my University because I needed extra credits for my PE class, and I didn't want to go and face the swarms of creepy men who had no where else to be on a Friday night alone.

I realize now, that this was at the very, very beginning of our friendship because she wouldn't be caught dead going to a Salsa class now.  Oh, the things you'll do in the early stages of a relationship. (Like pretend you can tolerate 80's movies!)

Afterwards, we stopped by the resident college "Boba" shop and I ordered my usual blended coffee with pearls.  But Bestie.  She ordered this orange stuff.  And it changed my life.

Thai Iced Tea is slightly sweet, creamy, and a little spicy.  It's reminiscent of Chai, but has its own unique qualities.

At that moment, I was introduced to one of my new favorite foods.  Where had this drink been all my life???

Best friend?
Who needs a best friend when there is Thai Tea?
"Thai Tea" Two-Ingredient Ice Cream (Machine *Not* Needed)
Utilized Important Information from Use Real Butter

  • 3 Cups of Heavy Whipping Cream (set aside 1 cup)
  • 1/2 Cup Thai Tea Leaves (found at Asian food stores or here)
  • 1 Can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk

-Airtight Storage Container
-Makes 8+ Servings
*Requires Cooking, Cooling, and Overnight Freezing Time*

So I know there are actually 3 ingredients, but the base to make plain ol' ice cream is just two ingredients.  Plus, no machine required!  Hello! Amazing. 
1) In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups of cream to a low boil.  
2) Immediately remove from heat and add in Thai Tea.  Stir until completely combined
    and let steep for 30 mins.

3) Place strainer over large bowl and pour tea mixture over it.  Try to press out any remaining liquid 
    to get a much of the tea infused milk as you can out of the leaves.  You'll notice you've lost a lot of 
    volume.  What was once runny and 2 cups is now thick and 1 cup. 
4) Let cream cool to just about room temperature, then let cool completely in the fridge (at least 2   
     hours).  I reused the cream container to store this mixture. 
5) 10-15 mins before starting the next step after the mixture has cooled, place large mixing bowl in  
     the freezer.  This will help the cream whip up faster.

6) Pour Thai Tea mixture along with the extra 1 cup of cream into the cold bowl.  Beat until fluffy and 
    no longer runny.  Stiff peaks should form. 
7) Once cream is whipped, fold in the sweetened condensed milk just until combined. 
8) Place mixture into a covered container (tupperware, etc.) and place in freezer.  Freeze overnight. 
    Scoop.  Enjoy!

Thoughts: This was good, but a little on the sweet side and the tea strength was a bit overpowering.  Next time I would definitely use less tea - probably only 1/3 Cup, and I would play around with the cream to condensed milk ratio.  

I was very skeptical about this whole "two-ingredient" fad when I decided to try it last summer.  I just couldn't believe that something so simple could actually become "ice cream."  But I have to say, it's pretty darn close.  If you want the real deal you've got to use a machine, but if you are looking for quick, simple, and easy this isn't a bad option at all. 

A word of warning though: because it's pure whipped cream and a whole lot of sweetened milk this type of ice cream is very intense and rich.  One scoop is usually plenty. 

Thai Tea is life-changingly delicious.
But I'll admit, it's no substitute for a cherished friend.
Throwing some Boba on top doesn't hurt though.

This posted was featured on: