Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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I never really thought about making homemade ice-cream until I came across a superb book called The Chocolate Bible. After going through the whole book over and over again (it never gets boring) I decided to try the custard based vanilla bean ice cream recipe – as well as other chocolate recipes.

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Custard based ice cream is also known as French-style ice cream; it’s thick, silky, and very scoop-able because of the addition of egg yolks which thickens the mixture. American style ice cream is not as dense, and it’s far quicker to prepare since it doesn’t require cooking a custard base; it is simply a combination of milk, cream, sugar, and flavoring.

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For the custard, you first start cooking the milk, vanilla, and egg yolks over low heat for a few minutes and add the whipping cream at the end. After chilling the mixture for two hours, you pour it in an ice cream maker which will simultaneously freeze the mixture while churning (to aerate it and avoid ice crystals to form). The result was so wonderful: the ice cream was rich and creamy, it tasted exactly like Häagen-Dazs! Can you imagine how impressed everyone would be when they find out that you whipped out a delicious traditional vanilla bean ice cream from scratch?! You will feel special, I’m telling you ;).

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Serve this ice cream with Fudgy Brownies, Chocolate Ganache, Apple Tart, or chunks of chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies… My mouth is watering while writing this post, so I’m going to jump right ahead with the ingredients and instructions.

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Ingredients: (from The Chocolate Bible)
• 5 egg yolks
• 125 grams (½ cup+2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
• 500 ml (2 cups) milk
• 1 vanilla pod, split
• 50 ml (¼ cup) whipping cream

Instructions:
1. Beat the egg yolks and 60 grams (5 tablespoons) of the sugar until pale, yellow, and creamy.
2. Pour the milk into a saucepan; add the remaining sugar.
3. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod – using the point of a knife – into the milk. Add the pod in the saucepan and slowly bring it to the boil.
4. Whisk 1/3 of the hot mixture into the eggs and sugar mixture, stirring well to combine. Then pour this mixture into the remaining hot milk.
5. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over low heat until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of the spoon. (~10 to 15 minutes. Do not allow to boil).
6. Stir in the whipping cream and remove from the heat immediately; strain into a bowl.
7. Stand a bowl in crushed ice and place in fridge for two hours until the mixture is cold.
8. Pour the mixture into an ice-cream maker and churn for 30 minutes.
9. Remove the ice cream from the machine and transfer it to the freezer before serving.

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Homemade Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is good… Homemade peanut butter is delicious!

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I recently found out that peanut butter is simply ground peanuts. It never crossed my mind to make my own because I always thought that thick peanut butter contained ingredients that are not available in my pantry. Surprisingly, you only need roasted peanuts, peanut oil, and honey (to add a touch of sweetness). Since I love making things from scratch, I had to try it out.

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But first, I decided to do some research about peanut butter: where did it originate? why is it called peanut “butter”?

I found out that peanuts are actually legumes! Yup, I was surprised too. Unlike walnuts or almonds that grow on trees, peanuts grow underground and they provide the best source of concentrated protein. Its origin goes back to the Aztecs who used to crush roasted peanuts into a paste. It wasn’t until 1908 that it came to the U.S. market. It’s called peanut “butter” simply because its consistency resembles softened butter.

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What I love about this recipe is that I can enjoy eating peanut butter without worrying about the amount of sugar, salt, or additives in my food. I usually buy high quality freshly roasted peanuts from the local roastery, but you should always check the ingredients for any harmful additives since the peanuts are the main ingredient.

I noticed on foodgawker and a few other blogs that the color of  homemade peanut butter differs from one person to another. That’s because the color depends on the type of the peanuts used for processing. So it can turn out darker or lighter than the store brought version.

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I love eating peanut butter with toast, bananas, or apples! I usually slice an apple into rings, spread some peanut butter, and top it off with homemade granola. Yum! You’ll get the healthy fiber, fats, and whole grain servings with this nutritious and filling snack.

It’s really fun to make your own peanut butter 🙂 Let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

200 grams, about 1+1/3 cups, lightly salted roasted peanuts (you can also roast your own peanuts)
2 Tablespoons peanut oil (or walnut, canola, but not olive oil)
1 Tablespoon raw honey

Directions:

1. Put the peanuts in the food processor.
2. Process for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the oil and honey, then process until smooth (about 3-4 minutes), or until you reach the desired consistency. (be careful the machine could overheat)
4. Transfer to an air tight container and refrigerate up to 2 months.

Note: For crunchy peanut butter, stir in 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts after processing is complete.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This chocolate chip cookie recipe is way better than the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip bag recipe. Believe me.

I adore making chocolate chip cookies, it’s a classic household favorite – eat it warm or cold, with milk or icecream, for breakfast or a midnight snack – I don’t think anyone can resist chewy bakery style cookies. I’m so glad I tried this recipe because these cookies right here are big, beautiful, rich, buttery, chewy, fluffy…Need I say more?!
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After reading several recipes online, I collected a few tips to end up with thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies, just the way I like it. (I know you do too). The secret is to increase the ratio of dark brown sugar to white sugar for a richer flavor of molasses, add cornflour/cornstarch for a fluffy texture, and under-bake the cookies (yes, have faith please!). So why cornflour? Both cornflour and flour are cereal starches but flour contains gluten which reduces the thickening power. That’s why cornflour is often used with flour to add a lighter structure to baked goods and increase tenderness (such as cake flour).
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Like I said earlier, underbaking the cookies is a must. As soon as the outsides are set and the centers are still puffy, remove them immediately! The cookies will continue to bake on the hot cookie sheet even after being taken out of the oven. If your cookie sheets are too small, refrigerate the batter in between batches. I assure you, the cookies will retain their chewy texture even the next day – that’s IF there are any cookies left 😉

I also tried a new way of forming cookie dough balls instead of just dropping tablespoons on the cookie sheet. If you want to create jagged cookies don’t roll the dough into a perfect round shape. Just pull the dough apart with your fingertips to create an uneven surface then jam the pieces together to form a ball. You can see the difference here:

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LOOK at the oozing chocolate! Oh my.
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Just a closer look.
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It’s official – this is chocolate chip heaven! Every bite melts in your mouth and the chocolate chips literally explode on your taste buds especially when the cookies are hot from the oven.

Ingredients: (makes around 25 cookies)

  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light in color.
4. Mix in egg and vanilla.
5. On low speed, mix in flour mixture.
6. Stir in chocolate chips.
7. Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C.
8. Drop 1 tablespoon of dough onto cookie sheet.
9. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until slightly golden around the bottom edges. (Do not exceed 10 minutes).
10. Let cool for 3 minutes on the cookie sheet.
11. Transfer to cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.