Cast Iron Cookies

It’s no secret that I love my cast iron skillets. I use them about three times a week (sometimes more), and my copy of “Cook it in Cast Iron” spends more time on the counter than it does in the closet.

It’s also no secret that we love chocolate chip cookies around here. Out of all the cookies in the world, chocolate chip cookies are Andy’s favorite. So, when I saw the giant skillet cookie recipe in the dessert section of “Cook it in Cast Iron,” I figured it would be a hit.

Of course, it is a recipe from Cook’s Country / America’s Test Kitchen, which means it’s going to be different from your standard chocolate chip cookie recipe. There’s browned butter (be still my beating heart… all that extra flavor), and there’s also this process of whisking the ingredients for 30 seconds, then letting them rest for a few minutes, and then repeating the whole process a couple more times. And, unfortunately, the book doesn’t explain WHY this step is important. And who knows, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s ATK’s way of messing with us rule-followers. Maybe Jack Bishop is secretly laughing about all of us suckers who are whisking and resting, whisking and resting. Who knows. I don’t even care, actually. This cookie so good that I’ll keep whisking and resting, even if it doesn’t make sense.

In spite of the extra whisking steps, it’s not a hard recipe to make. It mixes up quickly, and it takes less than 30 minutes to bake. And if you use a kitchen scale, you won’t even have to get out your measuring cups. (Fewer dishes! Yay!) The hardest part is waiting for the cookie to cool slightly so you don’t burn your tongue on melted chocolate chips. The only change I make is to sprinkle some flaky sea salt on top of the cookie prior to baking for that sweet-salty flavor combination.

SkilletCookie

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

12 tablespoons unsalted, butter, divided
5 1/4 ounces (3/4 cup, packed) dark brown sugar
3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
8 3/4 ounces (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
flaky sea salt, for finishing, optional (but not really…) 

Preheat the oven to 375° and make sure the rack is adjusted to the upper-middle position.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda together, and then set it aside.

In a 12″ cast iron skillet, melt nine tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the butter is a deep golden brown and smells nutty. The butter will foam at first, but this should die down as the butter cooks.

Place the remaining three tablespoons of butter in a large mixing bowl and pour the browned butter over it. Stir the butter until the last three tablespoons melt completely.

Whisk the sugars, vanilla and salt into the butter until smooth, then whisk in the egg and egg yolk. Whisk this mixture for about 30 seconds, then all the mixture to rest for three minutes. Whisk the mixture for another 30 seconds, and then allow it to rest again for three minutes. Repeat this whisk-rest process two more times. By the end, the mixture will be thick, smooth and shiny.

Add your flour mixture to the egg-butter-sugar mixture, and stir until just combined. Mix in the chocolate chips, making sure that no pockets of flour are left in the dough.

Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel, and then spread the dough into the pan. Smooth the dough into an even layer and top with a pinch of sea salt, if using.

Bake the cookie until it is golden brown and the edges are set, about 20 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and allow cookie to cool slightly before serving. (Cook’s Country says to wait 30 minutes for this. If you can make it that long, you have more willpower than anyone I know.) Cut into slices and serve.

From Cook It In Cast Iron

Click here for a printable version.

Fall Fritters

Remember when I first looked through Cook It In Cast Iron? Lots of recipes caught my attention, and it’s been an almost-permanent fixture on my kitchen counter ever since I got my own copy. (Seriously. The chocolate chip cookie is my easy dessert go-to.) 

I showed Andy the apple fritter recipe, and he was on board immediately. Apple fritters are his doughnut kryptonite. I’d never made fried doughnuts of any kind, so I was eager to try them as well. Of course, this was back in April (of 2016! I’m a terrible blogger), and since the recipe calls for apple cider, I put it on the “things to make in the fall” list. I told Bethany about my plans, and we decided that it would be the perfect Saturday morning activity.

So, while our Andys were out volunteering one morning, we made it happen.

Since I knew we’d have eager helpers, I prepped as much as I could before Bethany, Judah and Sadie arrived. I used Empires from our over-zealous apple picking, which worked well. I had everything measured out and ready to go when they arrived, so the kids could easily help add things to the bowl and mix the batter.

I’d never fried anything before this, and I was pleased to discover that it’s not nearly as intimidating as I thought it’d be. I think the biggest trick is to have everything ready to go before you start frying so you’re not scrambling to find a cookie sheet for the finished fritters when they’re ready. Having an accurate thermometer for the oil really helps too. We used Bethany’s for this project, and it made a believer out of me. (So much so that I took advantage of Thermoworks Black Friday deals last fall and purchased a ThermoPop for myself.) Once the kid-friendly activities were done, Judah lost interest in the process (until we were ready to ice the fritters), but Sadie pulled a chair up to the counter and watched us fry every fritter!

The guys came home just in time to help us eat the fritters (which I served with bacon because a Saturday breakfast without bacon is not one I want to attend), and everyone loved them. The cider in the fritters added a lot of flavor, and there were apple pieces in almost every bite. They’re not going to be an every-weekend thing, but I think we’ll make it a point to enjoy them at least once each fall.

applefritters

Apple Fritters

2 apples (6 1/2 ounces each), Granny Smith, Cortland or Empire, peeled, cored, halved and cut into 1/4″ pieces
10 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 1/3 ounces (1/3 cup) sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, divided
1 cup apple cider, divided
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
8 ounces (2 cups) powdered sugar
4 cups vegetable oil, for frying

Preheat the oven to 200° and place the oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and lay the apples in a single layer on the sheet. Pat the apples with a paper towel until they are nice and dry.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, one teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg together. In a separate, bowl, combine the melted butter, 3/4 cup of cider and the eggs. Whisk them until smooth.

Add the dried apple pieces to the flour mixture and toss to combine. Stir the cider mixture into the flour mixture, and mix until the wet ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet lined with a triple layer of paper towels. Set aside. Pour the oil into a 12″ cast iron skillet (you want the oil to be 1/2″ deep) and heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 325°.

When the oil is hot, grease a 1/3 cup dry measuring cup and use it to scoop five heaping mounds of batter into the oil. Use the back of a spoon to flatten the batter in the oil. Fry the fritters until they are a deep golden brown, about six to eight minutes. Flip the fritters halfway through the frying process. Be sure to maintain the oil temperature, adjusting the burner’s heat if necessary.

Transfer the finished fritters to the wire rack on the prepared sheet and move them to the oven to keep them warm while you finish the rest of the fritters. (Before adding the next batch of batter to the pan, make sure the oil is still 325°. If the oil has cooled, wait until it comes back to temperature before adding the batter.) Repeat the process with the rest of the fritters, placing them in the warm oven when they are done.

Next, prepare the glaze. Whisk the powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and the remaining 1/4 cup of cider together in a large measuring cup. (You could use a bowl, but a measuring cup with a pour spout will make it easier to drizzle the icing over the fritters.) Drizzle a generous tablespoon of icing over each fritter. Allow the icing to set for 10 minutes before serving, which should give you enough time to scramble some eggs or fry some bacon to serve alongside your fritters.

From Cook it in Cast Iron

Click here for a printable version.

Too Good To Be Seasonal

I know, I know. This post is six months too late or too early, depending on your perspective. But really, who says you can only enjoy stuffing on the fourth Thursday of November?

It may be a seasonal dish for some people, but it’s one of my favorite things. I love it in all forms (although I wish people would stop filling it with mushrooms), and I’m not ashamed to admit that even the Stove Top variety holds a special place in my heart. In fact, my cousin and I do our very best to eat the entire bowl each Thanksgiving.

Turns out, one of my favorite bloggers agrees with me, and when I saw her recipe, I knew that I just had to try it. And once we tried it, I knew there was no way we’d only eat it one day a year.

It’s easy to make, and it goes well with practically everything. I’ve added sausage (per Deb’s note at the bottom of the recipe) and called it dinner. (I’m sure I served it with a salad for balance, of course.) It’s a great way to use up the stray pieces of celery that get lost in the bottom of the crisper drawer (or the apple that’s on its last legs). And, thanks to my ever-growing cast iron obsession, I realized that I could make it in my  skillet, save a dish and have it look pretty at the table (or on the kitchen counter).

AppleHerbStuffing
OK, so it’s technically dressing, since it’s not “stuffed” in anything before baking. Potato, potah-to. 😉

Apple Herb Stuffing

6 cups of torn bread chunks, I typically use French bread
4-5 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 if you’re baking the stuffing in a cast-iron skillet; 5 if you need to prepare a separate baking dish)
1 large onion, sweet if you have one, regular if not, finely chopped
1 large stalk of celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or a scant 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon table salt, plus more to taste
fresh ground black pepper
1 large or 2 small tart apples, peeled and finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 fresh sage leaves, minced, or a generous pinch dried sage
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350° and make sure that the oven rack is in the center position.

Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the bread is lightly golden, about 15-20 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool while you prepare the rest of the stuffing.

If using a separate baking dish, butter a one-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. If you plan to bake your stuffing in the same pan that you’ll cook the vegetables in, skip this step. (Cast iron for the win! We are all about streamlining things over here. Ha!)

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a 10″ skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the celery and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the apple to the skillet and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Place the bread in a large mixing bowl and scrape the contents of the skillet on top of the crumbs. Whisk the egg and 1/2 cup of stock together in a glass measuring cup and pour it over the bread crumb mixture. Stir in the parsley and sage and mix until just combined.

If you’re baking the stuffing in your already-prepared baking dish, spoon / scrape the stuffing into your baking dish. If you’re baking it in your skillet, spoon / scrape the stuffing back into the skillet. (Deb notes that you can add an extra 1/2 cup of chicken stock if you think it looks dry, and you can also let the stuffing rest, if you’re prepping it as part of larger meal. I’ve never done either.) 

Bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, or until the stuffing is golden brown on top and no liquid shows when you poke it with a knife. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

From Smitten Kitchen

Click here for a printable version.

 

Cast Iron Love

Two weeks!! 14 measly days! That’s how long the library let me have a copy of Cook It In Cast Iron from Cook’s Country. You can usually check out books for four weeks, but new books are only available for a “short loan,” especially when there are 10+ people behind you waiting to get their hands on the book.

Ugh. Sharing is not always my strongest point.

In true dorky fashion, I literally read through the entire book before I made anything out of it. (It helped that I picked it up from the library the night before a weekend road trip.) I thought all of the tips and techniques were helpful, and I can definitely see why you’d want a 12″ skillet for several of the recipes. I managed with my 10″ skillet, but the pan was just about overflowing with some things.

I did my best to make the most of the time that I had the book, and I think I did all right. We tried (in this order):

  • Chipotle chicken tacos (4 stars!) 
  • Skillet mac and cheese (3 stars from both of us; this is still my favorite mac and cheese recipe. It’s also a lot simpler!) 
  • Blackened chicken with pineapple salsa (5 stars from me; 3-4 from Andy, who may have met the only fruit salsa he’s hated in this dish. Lesson learned: Serrano peppers are too much for him. Whoops!) 
  • Hot fudge pudding cake (4 stars. It goes great with beer ice cream!) 
  • Sausage lasagna (5+ stars. We were so sad when the leftovers were gone… I almost licked my lunch dish clean at work the next day.) 
  • Baked brie with apricots and honey (5 stars, but I made the mistake of only making 1/3 of a batch…) 
  • Skillet chocolate chip cookie (5 stars. I mean, there was browned butter. Need I say more?) 
  • Mexican layer dip (2-5 stars, depending on who you ask. As written, it’s kind of spicy, thanks to the 1 1/2 tablespoons of chipotle chili powder, which means it’s hotter than Andy likes. However, it was well-received by half of the adults at taco night, and Andy said that if I scaled the heat back a bit, he would really enjoy it.) 
BakedBrie&Apriocts
Since I made a small batch of baked brie, I thought it’d be perfect in my mini-skillets.

I snapped a picture of a couple of the appetizer recipes, so I’m hoping to make those sometime in the not-too-distant future. Of course, there are recipes in there that I’ll probably never make (Meatloaf with mushroom gravy? Umm, no thanks. Paella? Not until I can get over the cost of saffron, thank you very much.), but overall, most of the recipes sounded like things we’d enjoy.

I did feel like some of the recipes could be streamlined to use fewer dishes, but when you consider the source, that really shouldn’t surprise you. I also wish the book had more of the science behind some of the recipe steps. I’m sure there’s a reason why I had to whisk the cookie dough for 30 seconds and then let it rest for 2 minutes before repeating the step two more times. I’d just love to know what that reason is!

If we rated cookbooks on the Andy scale, I’d give it a solid 4, which means that it might be worth getting a copy of my own someday. What I loved most though, was rediscovering how many things I can do with my cast iron skillet. It hasn’t gone back in the cupboard in two weeks.

Off-topic, have you seen the Apple commercial with Cookie Monster? THIS IS SO ME!! (Except for the iPhone part. I’m an Android girl.) My friends make fun of me for watching cookies bake through the oven door! I laughed so hard when this came on TV the other day.

Full disclosure: Cook’s Country / America’s Test Kitchen has NO idea that I’m writing about their latest cookbook. I’m fairly certain that no one there even knows that this little blog exists. I wasn’t compensated in any way for my thoughts; I just happened to really enjoy the cookbook.