Chocolate Chip Shortbread

A couple of days ago, the worst thing possible happened. . . my computer crashed!  As a blogger, and a graduate student, my computer is like my right hand.  I go everywhere with it, and I can’t finish any work without it.  Needless to say, I nearly broke down when my computer shut off and wouldn’t turn back on.  Staring blankly at the black screen a daunting thought came to mind . . . “what do I do without a computer?”

Luckily, my boyfriend came to my rescue and agreed to stop by the Apple store after a long day at work and pick up a part for my computer.  With a few spare hours until he got home, and at an utter loss of what to do, I turned to baking!  I decided thank my boyfriend by making him a tasty snack – shortbread.

Shortbread is a lovely thing.  Its buttery and velvety, and you can add almost anything you wish to it, and it takes very little time and ingredients.  One lonely bag of mini chocolate chips had been sitting in my pantry, crying to be used, so I decided to make chocolate chip shortbread.  Thankfully, this shortbread turned out wonderful, and was a delightful little snack with a glass of milk.  Additionally, it took my mind off of my co-dependence on electronics.

Adapted from Better Homes and Garden recipe

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

3 Tbl brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 325 F.  Cut butter into flour.  To “cut in” means to cut up the butter into tiny pieces to incorporate into the flour.  The easiest way to do this is either with a pastry blender, or I used a food processor.  I added cold butter into the processor with 1/4 cup of the flour and pulsed a few times.  Add the rest of the flour, sugar, salt and vanilla and pulse until butter formed fine crumbs.

Pour dough onto a flat, clean surface.  Sprinkle chocolate chips into dough.  Knead chips into dough until the dough is smooth and forms a ball.

Lightly flour a baking sheet.  Roll dough into a 6×4-inch rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Using a utility knife, cut rectangle in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 16 pieces.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cake in a cup?

Today I am reviewing a recipe going around the internet called Cake in a Cup.  The e-mail, which I received from my aunt, describes a way to “bake” chocolate cake in a coffee mug.  Cake in a Cup Initially, I had my doubts.  I mean, come on cake? In a cup?  Thee whole idea behind the recipe is that you put a little dash of this, a splash of that, mix it all up and nuke it in the microwave to make your own single-serving instant cake for those late night cravings.

Brilliant, right?  Wrong.  While this did take a mere 5 minutes for me to whip up, I wouldn’t exactly call it “cake”.  As you can see, the end product looked more hardened lava rather than fluffy cake.  The taste was just as disappointing.  It had a tough, spongy texture.  It tasted bland and faintly of plastic.  I blame it on the egg to dry ingredient ratio.  After all, most cake recipes have a couple of eggs and couple of cups of flour.  This recipe calls for one egg and only a few tablespoons of flour.

I wouldn’t recommend this speedy treat to anyone; if you have a late-night chocolate craving, I’d stick to the Oreos.  However, just in case you want to experiment with it on your own – here is the recipe. (Since no one is credited in the e-mail, I don’t know who to credit with inventing it)

4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
A small splash of vanilla extract
1 large coffee mug (make sure its microwave safe)