Thomas Keller’s “Ad Hoc at Home” Chocolate Chip Cookies

Alex, Lingie, and I made the trek up to the Pacific Northwest back in December to visit our beloved Andrew. The four of us, being the laid back yet eccentric group that we are, decided that the first bullet point on our itinerary was for us all to cook a meal together. Nothing else was planned til less than week before our departure date.

Seattle!
Seattle!

Here’s what we came up with!

Andrew's Salmon Prep
Andrew’s Salmon Prep

Andrew taught us how to do a pan-fried salmon, and Lingie helped prep.  We liked the recipe so much, we made it again the next night.

Ain't Nobody Got THYME Fo Dat...
Ain’t Nobody Got THYME Fo Dat…

Andrew also made a linguini vongole with bacon lardons.

Linguini Vongole with Bacon Lardons
Linguini Vongole with Bacon Lardons

We all contributed to a salad consisting of julienne pink lady apples, grated pecorino, and candied walnuts all topped with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Salad with Grated Pecorino, Julienned Pink Lady Apples, and Candied Walnuts
Salad with Grated Pecorino, Julienned Pink Lady Apples, and Candied Walnuts

At the request of our gracious host, I made a batch of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc Chocolate Chip Cookies in Andrew’s oven, which had convection capabilities at the flip of a switch (which I used, obvi).  I live quite an exciting life.  Alex helped me with the cookies.

Alex is Great with Balls
Alex is Great with Balls

I liked these cookies because they used two kinds of dark chocolate, so they weren’t too sweet (which is my issue with most chocolate chip cookies).

Gorgeous Lighting
Gorgeous Lighting

However, if I made these again, I would use the organic chocolate I’ve recently discovered at Trader Joe’s.  It’s deliciously 85% dark and cocoa buttery smooth.  It’s also quite bitter… like me!  You are what you eat, right?

Thomas Keller's "Ad Hoc at Home" Chocolate Chip Cookies
Thomas Keller’s “Ad Hoc at Home” Chocolate Chip Cookies

We paired the cookies hot out of the oven with pints (yes, PINTS) of Ben and Jerry’s “Pistachio Pistachio” ice cream, and I used the dust remnants of the chocolate I chopped to sprinkle over the ice cream.

Not going to lie – pistachio and dark chocolate were made to be together.  The beauty of pistachio ice cream with any form of dark chocolate (bars, warm cake, cookies, anything!)  brings me tears of joy every time.

This recipe was also my inspiration for what I ended up baking yesterday in preparation for Valentine’s Day… which I probably won’t post about for another 3 months at this rate.  More to come on that front!

Peaches and Cream Ice Cream Cake

Doing something to celebrate your significant other’s birthday is a bit like taking your car to the carwash.  The basic bronze package (e.g., birthday dinner and maybe dessert) is what you opt for most of time, while you “level-up” once in a while and get them the silver package (e.g., everything from the bronze package plus a gift and/or planning a get-together with their friends, etc.).  But on “milestone” birthdays, you splurge and treat your car (or boyfriend) to the platinum package, which is includes all of the above in addition to a surprise party and an exterior carnauba wax and polish.

In planning the birthday basketball tournament, I had to spin an intricate web of lies and to keep KJ from getting suspicious since I wanted it to be a surprise.  However, this meant pretending he was just getting the bronze package to deflect any suspicions while actually procuring the platinum in secrecy.

In the middle of the week, he gave me the Puss in Boots eyes and told me that the ONE thing he wanted for his birthday this year was a half-batch of the peanut butter cookies I had made a few weeks ago for a coworker’s birthday.  Obviously, I couldn’t A) say no to those eyes and B) tell him I was too busy making a surprise birthday cake and planning a surprise party.  So, on his actual birthday, I frantically cranked a full batch out in between work and servicing a bronze package a la dinner at Rustic Canyon to sample the “Best Gourmet Burger in LA”.  I put chocolate chips in the other half-batch for him to bring to his fantasy football draft, where the birthday cake would also be served.

Since he loves ice cream cake, I decided to try my hand at making the frozen treat.  I didn’t want to make any ordinary ice cream cake that one could buy from Baskin Robbins (i.e., Mint Chip Ice Cream with Chocolate Cake, etc.).  So, I thought I would take advantage of it being peach season and whip up a peaches and cream ice cream cake.

Chopped Fresh Peaches and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I made it upside down and in a 9” springform pan so I wouldn’t have to worry about prying the frozen concoction out of a normal pan.  The first layer was vanilla bean ice cream with chopped fresh peaches mixed in, and the middle layer was peach sorbet.

White Cake and Peach Sorbet

The final layer was a white cake.  The recipe I had made enough to fill a 13”x9” pan at about two inches thick.  I anticipated needing to cut it down to be 9″ round, and then cut it shorter to about an inch or so. However, the cake ended up being a little on the dryer side when it came out of the oven, so it crumbled when I tried to put it on top of the sorbet layer.  It didn’t taste dry, but it just wasn’t moist enough to stay together.

My Crumbling Cake Layer

Since it was already late on a work night and I couldn’t pick out all of the pieces from the softened sorbet, I instead ended up piecing everything together and pushing it down in hopes that it wouldn’t fall apart once it came out of the fridge.  Thankfully, it ended up working out because if the cake had actually been very moist, it would have gotten soggy and icy once frozen.  I wish the peach sorbet had been a bit brighter in color so that the layers would really pop when looking at the cake as a whole.

Ready for the Draft!

I picked up a cake box and the gold cake round at a specialty cooking store in Culver City, along with a couple of smaller baker’s boxes for the PB cookies and maybe a future project. Despite the sorbet layer being a bit light in color, I did really like the way the cake looked when sliced.

So Much Prettier When Sliced

Here’s the gallery!