Chocolate-melting Weather

Summer is coming to an end here in the Philippines but the sweltering heat has not abated. There are brief rain showers every so often, which are a welcome change from the dry heat of April, but average temperature on most days seems to remain just slightly below a person’s normal body temperature.

I honestly don’t know if this summer was a “record-high” summer in terms of temperature, but it’s sure been hot. In fact, it’s been so hot that this is the first time I’ve ever had to keep chocolate in the refrigerator!

I am sure many of my fellow chocoholics will agree that a bar of chocolate is best consumed when it’s at room temperature. I don’t enjoy chocolate as much when you have to struggle to break off a piece and it cracks in all the wrong places and leave bits of chocolate all around. I prefer chocolate when it gently comes apart and you see the wisps of softened chocolate as you pull a piece away. Yum!

Unfortunately, even if the idea of cold, hard chocolate doesn’t appeal to me as much, my beloved chocolate has to stay in the ref because anything left out for more than 10 minutes turns to mush–even dark chocolate.

Actually, I have a feeling storing chocolate in the refrigerator is not uncommon here in Manila, but it was never done at our house. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family of chocoholics so a bar of chocolate never lasted more than a couple of hours at our house. Admittedly, my husband grew up with chocolate stored in their family refrigerator. I guess more than the weather, they kept it there simply because they didn’t eat much chocolate. As far as I know, chocolate at their house lasted a whole lot longer than it ever did at our house.

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It’s Been a Whole Year

I started this blog almost one year ago. I did it for the love of writing (and as an outlet for all the random thoughts in my head) and to conquer my fear of having other people actually read what I write. It’s been a year since I actually sat down in front of the computer to write. I’m surprised I can still type without looking at the keys.:) A lot has happened in the last year–like moving to a new house, traveling to the US, Japan and Singapore, Monica moving to ‘big school’, Matthew actually starting school and a whole lot more– and I am pretty excited to start writing again. I am making a promise to myself to stop being so OC (obsessive compulsive) about what I write. As I mentioned before, I am my own worst critic, so I tend to dwell on anything I write (or even text) for ridiculously long periods just to make sure everything is perfect. My husband knows me all too well and patiently listens to me as I obsess about every little detail of my writing. Anyway, for this post I am editing as I go. I will hit the “Publish Post” button as soon as I am done, which is right about now.

Until we have a real oven…

My son tastes some freshly baked toaster-oven  chocolate chip cookies.

My son tastes some freshly baked toaster-oven chocolate chip cookies.

I love baking, but I don’t have an oven of my own…at least not yet. Actually, it’s not just an oven but an entire kitchen that I aspire to have in the near future. You see my husband, David, and I are currently living with his mom. It’s actually pretty common here in the Philippines, where I am from, to continue living with your parents for a few years after you get married. It gives you a chance to save a little more and, for many parents, it’s a way to hold on to their kids a little while longer (so the arrangement can actually be mutually beneficial for the couple and for the parents they stay with). Anyway, I am veering away from the topic. So, back to my non-existent kitchen. I am sure those of you who enjoy baking and cooking know the value of having your own kitchen–a kitchen that caters to your personal wants and needs. So sometimes working in someone else’s kitchen can feel a little restricting and, therefore, a little less enjoyable. Because of my hesitation to work in the actual kitchen of the house, I have taken to baking in my bedroom–yes, my bedroom. In one corner of the room, David and I have a 4-tier shelf where our coffee maker, electric kettle, toaster oven and microwave all have their own special place. Among the said appliances, the toaster oven is my absolute favorite. It’s a 16-L 3D oven that my parents’ gave us as a gift. Sure, I’ve toasted bread and heated food in it, but way more than that, I’ve made some pretty good brownies, banana bread, cupcakes, cheesecakes, pies and ,most recently cookies, with it.

I tried this recipe for chocolate chip cookies from browneyedbaker.com, with some minor adjustments:

Chelle’s Soft & Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Microwave butter for 30 seconds, stir and set aside. Do not worry if it is not completely melted.

3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

4. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk and beat until combined. Gradually beat in flour mixture, beating just until combined (do NOT overmix!). Stir in chocolate chips.

5. Refrigerate dough for 15-30 minutes.

6. Drop by rounded spoonful (I used a Pampered Chef cookie scoop that holds approximately 2 tablespoons) onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are just brown and middle is not quite set yet. Cool on pan for 2 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

7. Before adding more dough to warm cookie sheets, place sheet in freezer for 5-7 minutes to cool.

Store in an airtight container. Recipe yielded 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

From: http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2007/09/03/the-chocolate-chip-cookie

The four-tier kitchenette

The four-tier kitchenette

I don’t like my desserts too sweet so I only used 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Actually, even with the reduction, the cookie still came out a bit too sweet for my taste, so I think I’ll just use 1/4 cup of granulated sugar next time. I kept the measurement for the brown sugar as is. Also, since I used my toaster oven, I didn’t bake the entire batch. I baked a dozen cookies in two batches of 6 at 190 degrees celsius for around 14 minutes. I kept the rest of the cookie dough in the freezer and I am looking forward to making batches of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies in the next few days. Yum!

“Momma!”

I actually thought it would be easy to sit down and just start blogging, but it’s much harder than I expected. It seems that whenever I find the time to sit down in front of my computer to write I don’t get more than five minutes to myself before I hear, “Momma! Where are you?” Once my kids find me then the take over begins. My 4 year-old daughter is usually content just knowing where I am, but my 2 year-old son needs much more attention. First he watches me as I type and then he slowly makes his way onto my lap and before I know it he starts sliding his fingers all over the screen of my laptop (thinking that most screens are touch screens), pressing all the keys and asking questions like “What’s that?” or “Can I play this one?”

Ok, he’s here. Right on schedule.