Welcome to Feast In Thyme, my brand new food and entertaining blog. Whether you are a friend, a family member, or an unknown denizen of the internet who stumbled upon the site, thank you for checking things out. There isn’t much here yet, but I hope with time I can turn this space into something that you’ll want to keep coming back to, like your favorite brunch spot, or better yet, the kitchen of a close friend.
For my first blog post, I’ll keep it simple and tell you what I have planned for this space. I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit thinking about writing a food blog rather than simply sitting down and starting it. I’ve read books on blogging, trolled Instagram, and wracked my brain to figure out a title, a direction, and the right place to start. I’ve found ways to put it off, making all sorts of excuses from not having the right computer to having little to no experience with photography. I’ve spent the last few years boring those I care about with summaries of possible posts I’d make, and have been drafting menus and party plans for months claiming I might be able to use them sometime in the future. This, I fully admit, is ridiculous. None of these are good reasons to delay something I’m passionate about doing.
So here we are – I made a blog.
There are a few things you should know about me (if you don’t already).
First, if I can reasonably manage to add liquor to a recipe I will find a way. And if you aren’t a fan of liquor yourself, don’t fret – more often than not you can leave it out. That’s your call, and I’ll add tips to that effect when I can.
Second, I am most assuredly a full-fledged member of the geek/nerd subculture; if you enjoy occasional sci-fi references to time travel or aspire to eat 6 (or more!) times a day like a Hobbit, we will get along swimmingly.
And third, in addition to my experience as a non-profit event planner, I’m a bit of a historian and have a passion for the study of cultural and religious phenomena. This doesn’t seem super relevant right now, but its a huge part of who I am so I figure I may as well get it out there early.
Ideally, this blog will be more than just my ramblings on my favorite foods and hobbies though. I want to share my love of planning events and demonstrate that hosting a gathering – be it large or small – can be an incredibly rewarding endeavor. While one-shot posts (like this one) will happen often (especially now as I’m getting this off the ground), my ultimate desire is to present you with multi-post series focused around different themes. Along with some décor ideas, each series will contain individual recipes that can be mixed-and-matched according to your tastes for a cohesive menu (or just taken on their own). It will include suggestions on how the experience can be scaled from a small casual affair with a few fun influences to a full-fledged party depending on your commitment, interest, and budget. Ultimately, I think we can all use excuses to get together with one another, make food, and enjoy good company, and sometimes the fun of a theme can help do just that.
Now that I’ve gone on for probably way too long, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite recipes. It’s also the first one I truly experimented with and adapted until I felt it was right, so it’s close to my heart. To quote my favorite movie, “Its an oldie, but a goodie”: chocolate chip cookies.
For this you get a bit of a story: I’ve spent years experimenting with other people’s chocolate chip cookie recipes, trying to find one that would beat my Mom’s Nestlé Toll House version. It was challenge, as it also had to meet my husband Sam’s (very high) cookie standards. In this seemingly endless quest to improve on perfection, I eventually stumbled onto a post by one of my blogging role-models, Deb Perelman. On her well-loved blog Smitten Kitchen, she outlined her similar struggle to improve on perfection and presented her take on the cookie recipe from another blog and cookbook writer, Ashley Rodriguez at Not Without Salt. I guess that makes this recipe that Smitten Kitchen’s recipe’s granddaughter I guess?
Right away it looked a little complicated. Yes, it required buying special flaky sea salt (a monetary sacrifice I admittedly relished indulging), whole chopped chocolate instead of standard morsels, and not one, not two, but THREE types of sugar. When I tried a batch they were well liked, so I decided to make my own slightly tweaked version as part of my holiday gifting last December. As I worked on my fifth double-batch of cookies in two days (a blog post in itself), I succumb to a whim and added bourbon to a batch for the hell of it. The gooey dough stayed wet and sticky, and as I struggled to form it into balls I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of terrible mistake I made in my overtired, sugar-induced state of mind. I waited anxiously as they rose in the oven, a cocktail of the aforementioned bourbon calming my nerves.
But I need not have feared. I’ve since learned that adding bourbon to chocolate chip cookies isn’t exactly original – the internet has revealed quite a few versions – but nevertheless I’m proud of this recipe. That night I discovered my perfect chocolate chip cookie, which I reveal to you below. It might not be yours – there are so many different types of cookies and I’m the last person to judge your favorite. That being said, if you’re like me (and my husband) and prefer a soft cookie with lots of salt and rich chocolate, this might be worth a try. While regrettably the flavor of the liquor does not remain, the added bourbon keeps the dough light and fluffy. I urge you to give it a try – with or without my drunken addition – and let me know what you think.
Salted Chocolate Chunk Bourbon Cookies
Yield: 36-48 cookies (A “Double Batch” compared to most standard recipes)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, salted and softened to room temperature
4 tablespoons granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons raw or Turbinado sugar
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup bourbon (My favorite is Bulleit Bourbon!)
2 large eggs
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoons (heaping) fine sea or kosher salt
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 pound semi-sweet chocolate chunks (chopped up chocolate bars make them feel a little more decadent, but pre-packaged Nestlé Toll House Chunks work just fine if you want to make it easier on yourself.)
Flaky sea salt, for topping (Maldon Sea Salt is the usual go-to)
Preheat oven to 360°F and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), cream the butter together with the three types of sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla, the bourbon, and then the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition until incorporated and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the baking soda, fine salt, and flour. With the mixer on low speed, slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in small batches until just combined. With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chunks.
Scoop cookies into mounds onto the prepared baking sheet, about 1-2 tablespoons each. If you added the bourbon, the dough might be a little more wet than you are used to – don’t let that stop you! When I want my cookies to look especially pretty, I try to roll the dough into balls or use a fancy little cookie dough scoop. Use your judgement – honestly I’m not sure it makes much of a difference in the end. Remember to sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt before you put them in the oven. I usually forget with my first batch and have to add it midway through the cooking time in my haste to get things in the oven. Don’t be me, use that pretty salt.
Bake 11-12 minutes, and once done allow to rest on a baking sheet 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Enjoy with milk or your favorite milk alternative!
- This recipe makes what some would call a double batch, but once I have the equipment all out I’d rather make more than less – feel free to halve the recipe if this is too many cookies, or do as I do and freeze either half the dough or half the baked cookies for later! For best results, form dough into balls and freeze them individually on a baking sheet before transferring them to a freezer bag or container. Bake directly from the freezer when ready to use. Google tells me cookie dough last 4-6 months this way in the freezer, but honestly they’ve never lasted more than a month for me before I cave and bake them up.
- I know not everyone has three types of sugars in their pantry (or, as has often happened to me, you find out midway through multiple batches that you have run out of one or another) – in my experience, as long as you keep the two cups of brown sugar, you can get away with using granulated white sugar, cane sugar, or raw sugar in any combination and still come up with delicious results. Just make sure the total amount of substituted sugar equals 8 tablespoons.
- With regard to chocolate, if you are like me you might want to just use what you have on hand, and that is likely just fine. I have made this recipe a success with both hand-chopped Ghirardelli semi-sweet, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate bars, as well as pre-packaged Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chunks. I think the darker chocolates taste the best with the salt and the bourbon but feel free to use what is most convenient for you. After all, cookies are supposed to be fun, not stressful.