Strawberry Limeade Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I have mentioned before that cake, specifically layer cakes, is not my forte. Just because it is not my forte though does not mean that I should not make one once in a while.

For our Easter lunch a few weeks ago, I wanted to make a cake. At first, it was just going to be a lime bundt cake. I had some homemade strawberry jam though in the fridge that I needed to use for something, so then I came up with the bright idea of a lime layer cake with strawberry jam and white chocolate frosting in the middle.

I had been itching to make a lime cake recipe I found on the internet for quite a while, so I was glad to finally have the chance to make it!

Find the recipe for key lime cake here: Key Lime Cake From Scratch

The above link also includes the recipe for a white chocolate buttercream frosting.

Find the recipe for homemade strawberry jam here: Small Batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam

I didn’t get to take any pictures of the actual process of making this cake, but I can talk a little bit about some of my mistakes (which always seem to be many when I am baking a cake!).

Mistake number one: I didn’t use enough lime zest! I think I used the 6 key limes as stated in the recipe, but I don’t think I ended up with enough lime zest.  I probably also should have used a little bit more lime juice. The cake itself definitely needed more oomph to it.

Mistake number two: Sprinkling day-old lime zest on the frosted cake. The lime zest lost its bright green color overnight. I don’t think I need to say what it looked like after sitting in the fridge overnight. I really should have used fresh zest on the cake.

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Mistake number three: I thought the cake layers were flat enough after baking and that I didn’t need to level them. I was wrong. I really should have sliced off  just a little bit. Because the top of the bottom layer wasn’t flat, the strawberry jam in the middle of the cake kept trying to slide out and down the side of the cake.

Mistake number four: Not doing a crumb coat when frosting. I was in a hurry. I guess I really shouldn’t make cakes when I am in a hurry. Or maybe I should just stick to bundt cakes!

Mistake number five: Using white chocolate buttercream frosting. Because the cake needed more lime flavor and thus wasn’t tart enough, the whole cake was too sweet and just didn’t have enough variances in flavor for me. A cream cheese frosting might have worked better in this case.

Mistake number six: Inferior chocolate candy eggs for the decoration. Those candy eggs in the picture were quite literally only for decoration. I bought them in bulk from a nearby grocery store and they just didn’t taste very good! Even Josh didn’t like them and that is saying something right there!

There weren’t any complaints from the kids about the cake itself, and none from Josh, so that is a good thing. I have to admit though; I think the key lime-mint bundt cake I posted about more than a month ago is still my favorite cake I’ve made so far.

Maybe I will try this recipe again when I am making a cake only for my family. And when I can taste more than one slice!

-Lynn

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Dual Macaron Fail

In mid-January, Josh bought me a new oven, and I LOVE it. A few weeks ago though, I tried to bake macarons in it for the first time, and they didn’t turn out! Needless to say, I was very disappointed and set out to figure out what I was doing wrong.

Originally, my posts about these two macarons were going to be recipe posts, but since the macarons did not turn out right, well, you will get some pictures of failed macarons instead!

Josh has been wanting me to make lavender macarons for a while, and I even bought lavender flavoring a long time ago in preparation for this. I was too scared to use a full teaspoon of flavoring so I reduced my lavender flavoring to 1/2 teaspoon.

I bought my lavender flavoring from Beanilla.com. You can find it here.

I also tried out two macaron mats from Williams-Sonoma. These saved me a lot of time, but I’m not quite sure if they are going to work for me. I will mention later what I think I need to do, but it will require more experimentation.

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I did add food coloring to make the macaron shells purple, but as usual, the color “fades” out after baking.

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My first mistake with the lavender macarons: I think I overmixed the batter. Usually, I can tell when I need to stop, but this time I mixed a lot longer than I usually do.  I didn’t end up with any hats this time after piping them out, but the texture was all wrong after the macarons baked.

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My second mistake: Baking on the wrong rack.  I baked my first batch on the top rack of my oven. Oops! That was a bad idea and I ended up with a small triangle of macarons that looked okay, but the macarons on the outer edges looked like mini-volcanoes!

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My second tray of macarons turned out looking better, but they almost seemed overbaked after the recipe bake time of 12 minutes total. So that would be mistake number three. Their feet also weren’t quite level. On this second tray, I changed my oven setting to convection (we splurged and paid $100 extra for true convection, which means there is a heating element by the fan) and baked the tray on the middle rack.

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I had been wanting to make Italian meringue buttercream for a macaron filling for a while, so even though these macarons didn’t turn out right, I went ahead and made the Italian meringue buttercream anyway.

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Sadly, my son Matthias is not a fan of marshmallow, and this is basically a homemade marshmallow cream. So he didn’t really like these macarons.

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It was a surprise to me that these “volcano” macarons tasted better than the traditionally-shaped macarons. In fact, these were all eaten up first. I think my kids saw these as a novelty. They had fun eating them!

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These macarons almost looked pretty (and you can tell that the purple faded out of the shell), but they were a tad too crispy for me, even with a day or two in the fridge after being filled. The flavor was fine though, which was a relief. I didn’t want the lavender flavor to be overpowering. One picture I forgot to take was of the inside of the macaron. Even though it looks pink outside, it was purple inside!  If I have another chance to experiment with these, I will definitely need to add more food coloring and reduce my bake time by 2 minutes.

My second attempt was actually a few days after I made the lavender macarons. I wanted to make double chocolate macarons for the refreshment reception after my son Corran’s band concert, but after a frustrating afternoon of lopsided macaron shells, I had to give up and make chocolate chip cookies instead, along with a lemon drizzle traybake from one of Mary Berry’s books… which will hopefully be a post soon!

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This time, I mixed the batter until I felt it was enough (and did the V-test with my spatula) and ended up with my little hats again. I think I need to practice until I get no hats. But in the meantime, little hats are good because it means I didn’t overmix the batter.

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These are the only macaron shells I got that had level feet. These were baked on parchment paper in a quarter sheet pan. I wrote earlier that I need to experiment more with my new macaron mats.  All of my lopsided macarons were baked on those two mats, so I am wondering if I need to put the mats on a rimmed sheet pan like this one from Williams-Sonoma, instead of on a large cookie sheet.

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Lopsided macaron shells that were baked on the new macaron mats on a large cookie sheet

I also reduced my bake time by 1 minute each rotation. So I baked these macarons at 325 degrees F using the convection setting, on the middle rack, for 5 minutes. Then, I would rotate the pan and bake for another 5 minutes.

This method produced macarons with a texture closer to what I was expecting. Once I gave up on making them for the reception, I decided to let my family have these lopsided ones. I filled them with a chocolate glaze (from a batch of eclairs I made last week… yet another thing I need to practice: choux pastry!) and also the Italian meringue buttercream that I used for the lavender macarons.

The chocolate-filled ones were more popular than the buttercream-filled ones, so I will have to remember that for next time!

We just finished eating the macarons today, so that means I can start prepping for another go at them soon. I’m not sure when that will be, but hopefully before the end of the month!

Thanks for reading!

Lynn

 

 

 

Chocolate Bouchons

I don’t remember how I came across this recipe for chocolate bouchons, but as soon as I saw it, I knew that I had to try it using a set of cake tins that Josh bought me at the end of last year.  These tins are a little bit bigger than what should be used for the recipe, but they worked out pretty well. I think bouchons are meant to be bite-sized, but these were more of a single serving dessert size. I am just glad that I found a recipe that I can use for these tins since they cost quite a bit!

This was also the first time I’ve successfully made a cake without using baking soda or baking powder in the batter. I have tried a few times before using these cake tins (and a different recipe) and the cakes didn’t rise properly. They were underbaked, dense, and inedible in the bottom layer while the top half was spongy and light. I still haven’t figured out what I did wrong with those cakes. Maybe I will give them another try now.

A few words about this recipe: it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. And the chocolate cake was AMAZING. My chocoholic son Corran has already asked me to make them again. Gwennan was watching me write this blog post, saw the chocolate cake pictures, and asked, “Mommy, can you make those today?” Yes, I think these little cakes were a big hit with my kids.

These cakes would be even better with ice cream. Sadly, we didn’t have any ice cream at the time so we had to eat the cakes without. But that was a small sacrifice because have I mentioned that these were amazing?

Recipe from Delish: Thomas Keller’s Chocolate Bouchons

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Let’s start with the chocolate. I love Guittard, but I’ve only ever bought the Guittard chocolate chips, not the bars. Valrhona is very, very expensive, and since this was my first time baking these, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t go with the expensive chocolate. Maybe next time I’ll try to have Valrhona on hand.

I used 1 and a half bars of Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate. I’ve mentioned before that my kids are huge fans of dark chocolate, so I figured I could get away with the 60% chocolate.

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I don’t really enjoy chopping chocolate much, but these did work beautifully in the batter. I usually only chop chocolate for chocolate chip cookies. I’d better be careful or I’m going to stop buying chocolate chips altogether and buy only chocolate bars for baking!

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I had a feeling I would only need 12 of these tins for the cakes even though there are 16 of them. I decided to use my nylon pastry brush to butter these tins. I’ve used my fingers before and the rims of these tins can be sharp. I dusted them with flour over a bowl so that I could reuse the flour that fell out of the tins. I also cut a piece of parchment paper to the same size as the baking tray to line it. Doing this makes it easier to clean the tray after baking.

I did sift my dry ingredients and made sure to beat the eggs and sugar together for 3 minutes. What I liked best about this recipe: it uses real butter, not oil.

Once I needed to fill the tins, I strayed from the recipe. My chopped chocolate had a hard time making it through the hole I had cut for my pastry bag, so after a few false starts, I just scraped the cake batter into the tins with a spatula. This made for a messy set of tins! But at least I didn’t have exploding cake batter from my pastry bag.

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I filled each tin about halfway since they are larger than the timbale molds called for in the recipe. I let the cakes bake for about 20 minutes at first, but they weren’t done at that point, so I gave them 5 to 10 more minutes.

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The cakes were done when a toothpick tested clean with just some melty chocolate from the chopped chocolate in the cake. Some of the batter did leak out of the tins and onto the tray, but it wasn’t too bad. I let these cool for about half an hour in the tins and then pushed each cake out of its tin into a muffin pan liner.

The recipe says that these taste like brownies, and they really do! They aren’t quite as dense as a brownie though, so I guess their texture is somewhere between a cake and a brownie. Whatever they are, they for sure were delicious and I will be making these again. Just not this week…

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Jumbo muffin pan liners were perfect “plates” for these cakes after dusting the cakes with powdered sugar.

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This is not the best picture, but it is the only one I have of one of the cakes after slicing. You can see that the top did fall a bit in the middle. This cake didn’t last long after this picture. I let my kids come in and eat the rest of it and it disappeared in about 30 seconds.

The recipe says that these are best eaten the day they are made, but they were good the next day as well. I know that not everyone will have this set of cake tins, timbale molds, or a bouchon pan, but perhaps a popover pan would work or even a mini cupcake pan or regular cupcake pan. I think I will try this recipe in a mini cupcake pan next time and see how it works!

-Lynn

Note: To clean my round cake tins, I let them sit in a mixing bowl in water for a little while and they are much easier to clean. Hopefully, my next experiment with these tins will be mini cheesecakes!

 

 

Key Lime-Mint Bundt Cake With Key Lime Icing

It’s not hard to tell that I have been baking a lot of bundt cakes! For me, they are much easier to make than a layer cake, and I don’t have to really decorate them. Drizzling or pouring icing onto a bundt cake and letting the gorgeous design do the rest is my kind of decorating.

This cake comes courtesy of my good friend Lanett, who is one of the most awesome people I know. She was kind enough to let me in on her buyer’s group for Comic-Con International, so I decided to bake a cake of her choice (and also because I had a major cake craving after talking to her on the phone!). So… yes, this cake is her fault! Not a bad thing though, because I have to admit that this cake was really, really (yes, really!) yummy. I made a chocolate bundt cake (another blog post) a few days after making this one and the chocolate one just couldn’t hold a candle to this one, and I LOVE chocolate!

I went to two websites before deciding on the recipe I kind of followed. I say kind of followed because I ended up changing a few of the ingredients. This cake is supposed to be a mojito cake, but Josh and I don’t drink alcohol so we didn’t have any rum around to use in it.

The recipe I used is from One Sweet Mess.

The changes I made:

  • Left out the coconut or white rum
  • used 1/2 tsp of imitation rum extract (I’m not sure if this added anything to the cake; I’ll probably just leave it out next time and use vanilla extract instead)
  • 1/2 tsp of mint extract (this might have been slightly too much if you’re not into mint, but I actually liked this amount in the cake itself)
  • Left out vanilla extract
  • Used 1 cup of regular milk instead of coconut milk
  • I cheated and used the bottled lime juice from the grocery store that is usually in the produce section.
  • I only had 1 key lime for the zest. I would have used the zest of 3 key limes if I had had them. You want the lime to shine in this cake.

The icing was really simple. I just used 1 -2 cups of powdered sugar and added a teaspoon or two lime juice and heavy cream to it until it was of drizzling consistency.  I think the 1 -2 cups of powdered sugar wasn’t enough though so I had to make another cup of icing. The lime juice just added so much to the icing. It was perfect with the cake. I’m sorry I don’t have any exact measurements for this, but I was in a hurry when I was making this cake, so I had to eyeball my measurements!

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I’m not sure why… but this kind of cake batter appeals to me a lot more than the pourable kind, which you will see in the future chocolate bundt cake post. This is the Nordic Ware Crown Bundt pan, and from what I’ve read, it is a 10-cup Bundt pan.

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I had some crumbling at the edges, but that was my fault. I didn’t grease the pan all the way to the edges because I wasn’t expecting the cake to rise that high. So the cake edges stuck when I was trying to get the cake out of the pan.

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It must be true. Icing makes everything better. This truly was a messy drizzling job I did on this cake, but it didn’t really matter. In fact, all my kids wanted the slices with the great big globs of icing. Maybe I should paint the icing on so that it will spread out more evenly.

This cake was so good that it was gone by the end of the next day. It was gone so fast that my oldest Corran hardly got to eat any of it and that is why he asked me to make another bundt cake.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would like the flavors of key lime and mint in one cake since to me, they don’t really go together, but Lanett, my friend, you picked a winner. Thank you for introducing me to a great flavor combination that I am definitely going to try again!

Key Lime-Mint Bundt Cake with Key Lime Icing

  • Servings: not enough... I mean, 14-16 slices
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Please do visit or try the original recipe if you can. I only adjusted the recipe according to what I had on hand and for certain flavors.

Adapted from Mojito Bundt Cake by Jennie at One Sweet Mess

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp rum extract or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract
  • zest of 3 key limes (I only had 1. Use 3 if you have them!)
  • 1/4 cup of key lime juice
  • 1 cup milk

For the Icing:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp key lime juice (add a little bit at a time until consistency desired)
  • 1 tsp heavy cream or milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 or 12-cup bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This will take about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next.

Add the extracts, key lime zest, and key lime juice. Stir just until combined.

Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, alternating with the 1 cup of milk. Finish with the dry ingredients. Mix until you have a smooth batter and there are no streaks of flour. Make sure you reach the bottom of the bowl.

Pour or spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pan. Smooth the top of the batter and bake for 60 minutes on the middle rack, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool cake on a wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan. After removing the cake from the pan, allow the cake to cool completely before decorating with the icing.

Icing directions:

In a small bowl, combine 3 cups of powdered sugar with the 1 teaspoon lime juice and 1 teaspoon heavy cream or milk. Add key lime juice and/or heavy cream a 1/2 teaspoon at a time to powdered sugar until icing reaches your desired consistency. Drizzle or pour onto completely cool bundt cake.

 

 

Pi Day Pie: Chocolate Truffle Pie in a Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

Since today is 3/14, of course I had to make a pie for pi day. I mulled over a few pies before I started on one. Lemon meringue? Chocolate custard tart? Does a tart count as a pie? Shepherd’s pie?

Well, I had leftover chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge… and realized that maybe I could use that as a pie crust! So next I needed an easy filling. There is a pie my sister-in-law makes that is yummy and chocolatey called chocolate truffle pie.

I won’t say much about actually making this pie since it is just to celebrate pi and math in general. If you’d like the recipes, they are at the following links.

Chocolate Truffle Pie

Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

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This is the cookie crust before I baked it. It looks just like a giant cookie.

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This crust looked so yummy after baking that I had a hard time resisting eating it! The dough puffed up a little in the middle so I tamped it down a little. It looks like I didn’t need to since the filling didn’t fill this pie pan up as much as I thought it would.

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This is how you try to do props for food photography (or the sad attempt) when you have kids, are homeschooling them, and just fed them lunch. Some day, I will learn to take decent pictures of my baking. Someday!

In the meantime, I hope everyone had a lovely pi day!

-Lynn

P.S. I have no idea if the cookie crust worked out. We won’t find out until after dinner!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Ever since I got my ice cream maker a few months back, my children have been asking for chocolate ice cream.  While I could have been boring and made just that, I decided to add a little something to the ice cream.  Personally, I think peanut butter tastes great with chocolate, and I don’t think I am ready to put chunks in my ice cream yet so I attempted to do a peanut butter swirl.  I ended up with something less than a swirl, but the ice cream itself is amazing.

Since it is more a frozen custard than ice cream, it is very rich.  I can usually eat a lot of ice cream, but even I had problems eating what I gave myself.

I created a double batch since there are 7 of us.  If you need or want less, you can easily cut the recipe in half.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

  • Servings: 2½ quarts
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1½ cups cocoa powder
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar (I used raw sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  • In a saucepan over medium heat whisk together cream, half and half, and cocoa powder.  Bring to simmer. Stir in chocolate chips until melted.  Take off heat and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and egg yolks until pale yellow and thickened.
  • Add ½ cup of the cream mixture to egg mixture while continuing to whisk.  This will keep your eggs from cooking. Repeat two more times, adding ½ cup cream mixture to egg mixture.
  • Add the egg mixture to the remaining cream mixture.  Put back on stove over medium-low heat, bring to a simmer. Continue to stir until mixture thickens and coats the spoon.
  • Remove from heat, and pour through a mesh strainer to remove any lumps.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Place mixture in ice bath to cool to room temperature.
  • Cover with plastic wrap, making sure to have plastic wrap on the custard to prevent a skin from forming as it chills.
  • Chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, over night is best.
  • Make ice cream per your maker’s directions.

 


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We ended up serving the ice cream with one of the chocolate chip cookies that Lynn made, and some of our home made hard shell.

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-Joshua

Crazy Baking Day #2: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Crazy Baking Day #2 actually involved no baking at all! Today was basically prep for Crazy Baking Day #3, which happens tomorrow, when I get to bake 150 chocolate chip cookies.

Just as with my macarons, I have a favorite recipe that I can’t seem to stray away from. My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe is from Not Without Salt.  This recipe uses chopped-up chocolate bars (which I really suggest you try sometime! They really send these cookies to over-the-top delicious.) but for this bake, I just went with a 48 ounce bag of Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips from Costco. When you bake these, don’t forget the salt sprinkle on top of the cookies. The salt also sends these cookies to over-the-top delicious. Here is a link:

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt from Not Without Salt

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I can guarantee that these chocolate chip cookies will still be awesome.

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My challenge: fill up this 6 quart bucket with chocolate chip cookie dough and somehow fit the bucket in my fridge until tomorrow.

 

My equipment: Two KitchenAid stand mixers. I am so glad my parents let me borrow their stand mixer for a few days.

If I had only had one stand mixer, well, this job would have taken me about 2 and a half hours instead of only 1 and a half hours.

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Bucket with one batch of cookie dough!

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I know you’re not supposed to eat raw cookie dough but this dough tastes as good as it looks… so I did eat the dough off the mixer whisks. My oldest son is smarter than I am. He didn’t eat any of it.

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Batch two is in. Is it just me or is it starting to look like I’m filling up an ice cream bucket? Cookie dough ice cream… now there is an idea. A very good idea.

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Batch three and four are in! And my job for the day is done.

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If I calculated everything correctly, I should end up with 192 chocolate chip cookies (about 30 g of dough each). I can’t wait to bake this up tomorrow! Just look at that yumminess in a bucket!

-Lynn

Note: If you do try this recipe and bake the 48 yield (30 g or smaller cookies) rather than the 24 yield (60 g or cookies as in the recipe), the cookies should not bake in the oven as long as the 12 minutes in the recipe. You really don’t want these to be overbaked. You want them to still be slightly gooey in the middle… but not too much! I think I usually started the timer at 6 minutes and then would look in on them from there until they were the right color and looked almost baked through.