Giant Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookie

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Originally published on Delish.com

Experimenting with new recipes for chocolate chip cookies feels a little like reinventing the wheel—the formula is tried and true, beloved, and many would argue it needs no tampering. But I’ve learned from Ina that taking a familiar recipe and making it on an entirely different scale can turn a dish that’s expected into one that’s a refreshing twist on the original. With that idea in mind, I made a rich chocolate chunk cookie dough and baked it into one giant cookie-for-a-crowd. Add a few heaping scoops of vanilla ice cream, and the humble cookie is transformed into a delicious, totally over-the-top dessert.

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Because the batter is baked in a cast iron skillet instead of scooped into individual cookies, the perimeter of the cookie comes out crispy and golden brown while the center remains soft and ever-so-slightly under-baked.

The other secret to this recipe is sugar’s best friend: salt. I sprinkle coarse sea salt onto the bottom of the pan before spooning in the cookie batter, and then sprinkle another big pinch over the top before baking. This ensures that every bite has a perfect little marriage of sweet and salty. Finally, I chop up semi-sweet chocolate bars into big chunks instead of using pre-packaged chips. You might as well pull out all the stops if you’re making a cookie the size of a Frisbee.

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My favorite way to serve this recipe is to put the pan directly on the table (on a hot pad!), scoop lots of ice cream on top, and let everyone dig in. The more elegant option would probably be to serve scoops or slices of the cookie in individual bowls, but where’s the fun in that?

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I made this cookie for a Super Bowl party at a friend’s house a few years ago, and it has been a tradition ever since. Depending on the number of spoons in the game, there can be some teamwork involved in finishing the entire cookie, but I’ve never seen a group too small to get the job done eventually.

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Giant Choclate Chunk Skillet Cookie

  • Servings: Makes one 10
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped into small chunks
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • flaked sea salt, such as Maldon
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. On low speed, add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla. Mix until well combined.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, and kosher salt in a small bowl, and with the mixer on low, add it to the butter mixture with until just incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, gently fold in the chocolate chunks and walnuts.
  4. Sprinkle a large pinch of seA salt over the bottom the bottom of an un-greased 10 inch cast iron skillet. Spoon the cookie batter on top and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle with another big pinch of sea salt and bake for 30-35 minutes, until baked through but still slightly soft in the center. (This will leave the very center of the cookie slightly under-cooked. If you prefer a crisper cookie, cook for an additional 5 minutes.)
  5. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.
  6. Note: If serving directly from the oven, use a dish towel or oven mitt to cover the handle of the skillet- it’s very easy to forget it’s hot and burn yourself!


Cheese Board 101

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(Originally published on Delish.com)

When it comes to party appetizers, nothing is more traditional than a cheese board, but sometimes the classics can feel a little uninspired.

I’ve learned from watching Ina that there is a big difference between a plate of cheese and crackers and a show-stopping cheese board. The difference is not in the amount of time or effort required. It’s all in knowing what to put on the board and a few little tricks that make for a beautiful presentation.

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As the holidays approached, Ina shared some of her tips with me, and I was surprised at how a few subtle changes can really elevate an every day array of cheese to one that will be the hit of the party.

First, no matter the size of your gathering, you only need three different kinds of cheese. (Just buy bigger pieces of each if you are serving more people.) Ina recommends going for one creamy Brie-like cheese, one blue or semi-soft, and one hard cheese.

She arranges the cheeses on a simple wooden board, facing outward so the different kinds are easy to see and cut. Then, she fills in the empty spaces with big piles of grapes, dried fruits, and of course, lots of crackers.  She arranges the different additions in little groups spilling out among the cheese, which creates little pops of color across the board and a bountiful appearance. I love sweet and savory elements on a cheese board, so I like to include a jam, such as fig jam or caramelized onion.

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A cheese board is SO easy to put together for a party because there’s absolutely no cooking involved, and if you choose a nice variety of cheeses, there will be something for everyone.  You don’t need a fancy board, either. I have a wooden cutting board that I use for everything from rolling pie dough to chopping veggies, and it’s my go-to for a cheese board, too. Use whatever you have, just make sure you aren’t using a board or platter so huge you can’t create achieve that generous and bountiful look. And don’t forget the cheese knives!

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I tested this Ina-approved cheese board out on my friends this weekend, and if the naked rinds on the board at the night meant anything, I’d say it was a hit.  I tried to stick with cheeses that are widely available- a creamy St. Agur blue cheese, a big wedge of Brie, and a truffle Pecorino (a bit of a splurge, but seriously delicious), but this is time to choose your favorites! If you don’t like blue cheese, go for a soft goat cheese or semi-soft cheese like Gouda. If you like milder or more pungent cheeses, lean more in one of those directions, but remember that people tend to have different tastes and you want there to be a nice variety of flavors on the board. IMG_3142