Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Amazingly Luscious Peanut Butter Bars

These cookies are amazing. Master Chow loves peanuts and peanut butter, but he often avoids peanut cookies because they taste like peanut brittle, which he does not like. Personally, I like all of the above. A bit too much, perhaps. Last year, in a radical shake-up of my eating habits, I decided to measure out what I was eating: my "one tablespoon of peanut butter" was actually more like two. Or three. Master Chow goes through an alarming amount of peanut butter, which he mixes into his oatmeal. Yes, it's really, really good.

Needless to say, we are a peanut-loving family. These cookies leave every peanut/peanut-butter cookie that I have ever tried in the dust. I want to make them again, and soon. Unfortunately for me, Master Chow and I both have Major Reunions coming up this summer, and I have to exercise some self-discipline. Besides, I'm going to be making doughnuts soon!

The recipe comes from Tish Boyle's wonderful book,The Good Cookie: Over 250 Delicious Recipes from Simple to Sublime ,and the recipe has appeared on the internet in several places, including Peabody's blog, and the Best of the Best website. Ms. Boyle says that these bars are her "husband's desert island food choice: he could live on them." After trying out this recipe, I'm not surprised!

Brown sugar crust:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Peanut topping:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1 2/3 cups (10 ounces) peanut butter chips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups (12 ounces) salted peanuts

To make the crust:

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with foil, then grease the foil.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt, set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. At low speed, add the flour mixture and mix just until crumbly, 10 to 15 seconds.

4. Pat the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough well with a fork. Bake the crust for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the topping. Leave the oven on.

To make the topping:

5. In a large saucepan, combine the butter, corn syrup, and peanut butter chips and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

6. Pour the topping over the crust, using a spatula to spread it to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the peanuts evenly over the topping, and press them lightly into the topping. Bake the bars for 12-15 minutes, until the topping is bubbly. Cool the bars completely in the pan on a wire rack.

7. Lift the entire foil sling carefully out of the pan. Alternatively, lay a cutting board across the pan, and flip the pan over so that the entire slab of cookies is upside down on the cutting board. Place another cutting board across the cookie slab, then flip it over again, so that it is right-side up. Using a sharp knife, cut into 36 bars.

These cookies keep for about 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container, and for a couple months if you freeze them. If you freeze, don't put other cookies in the same container or the flavors will mix.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Daring Bakers Strike Again! This Time - Lemon Meringue Pie

Jen, of the Canadian Baker, masterminded this month's challenge - Lemon Meringue Pie! As I've noted before, I am a sucker for citrus, and I was thrilled by this months challenge because it gave me an opportunity to use the Meyer lemons from my little Meyer lemon tree:
The very first pie I ever made was a lemon meringue pie: I was twelve years old, and my mom let me plan and make a meal for the family, all by myself. I made a roast chicken, twice-baked potatoes, and a lemon meringue pie. I have to tell you, much to everyone's surprise, that pie was perfect. And it tasted good, too.Other than the curd, I think my favorite part of the recipe was the all butter crust - it was easy to work with, very crispy, and was still crisp the next morning. I know, because I had a piece of pie for breakfast. But I wouldn't use this crust on a lemon meringue pie again - I think it would be better in a really sweet pecan pie, or maybe even a pot pie of some sort.

Lemon Meringue Pie can be quite challenging for those who have not baked much: you have to work with a pastry crust, make a meringue, and temper eggs for the filling. While the recipe called for putting the cooled filling in a cool crust, and then instructed us to top the cooled curd with meringue, I've learned from sad prior experience to put the meringue on a HOT filling. This helps cook the bottom of the egg whites, and reduces the amount of clear fluid that builds up between the curd and the meringue (known as "weeping".)

I don't know that I would put this particular recipe on the repeat list, but I'm so glad that Jen picked this for January's Challenge. If you want to see and learn more, go over to the Daring Baker's Blogroll. And for the recipe, be sure to check Jen's site. I can hardly wait for the next challenge!


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ox Tail Soup with an Asian Spin - Monthly Mingle

Usually when I make oxtail soup for Master Chow, I do it Italian-style, meaning I use Italian herbs, tomatoes, etc. This time, I decided to shake things up a bit and throw in some Asian elements, and found inspiration over at Simply Recipes and The Scent of Green Bananas.

When it's cold outside, (and inside - we keep the house at around 58 degrees F), a warm bowl of soup, a salad, and some nice crusty bread make a wonderful meal. This month's Monthly Mingle's topic is, appropriately, "comfort foods." Oxtail soup is very popular in Hawaii, parts of Latin America, Spain, and Italy, and Master Chow is quite fond of it. Back in the old days, oxtails were quite inexpensive, but now they are pricey, indeed. When I find them on sale, which is hardly ever, I pounce, and whip up a big pot of soup for Master Chow.

This recipe provides a rough guideline of what I do - every time I make the soup, I change things a bit, including the seasonings. It all depends upon what I have on hand, and my mood. The key is to taste as you go along, and adjust the flavorings to suit your palate.

Oxtail Soup
5-6 lbs oxtails
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
kosher salt and pepper

Coat the oxtails in the sesame oil, plus some salt and pepper, and marinate for two hours.

1 large yellow onion, chopped (about the size of a softball)
2 large carrots, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
5 lemongrass stalks, tender bottom part only, cut and crushed
1 piece fresh ginger (approx. 3-inches), thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons Thai red chili paste
8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of red wine
2 star anise
3 bay leaves
4 cups beef stock
2-4 cup water
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil

To garnish: chopped green onions, mushrooms, lime wedges, cilantro.

This recipe takes two days, so plan ahead!
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Pour some vegetable oil into a large Dutch oven (I used a 12 qt.), enough to coat the bottom. Brown the oxtails in batches (don't crowd the pan), and set aside. You want about 1/4 cup of oil in the bottom of the pan before you go on to the next step, so pour off any excess, or add some more oil if you need it.

On medium low heat, add the onion, carrots, celery, ginger, lemongrass, tomato paste, and Thai red chili paste. Cook until the onions are translucent, but watch the pot carefully - if things get too hot, turn down the heat. Add the garlic and saute briefly.

Deglaze the pan with the red wine, and cook for about 5-8 minutes, or until the wine is reduced by about half. Add the star anise, bay leaves, beef stock, salt and pepper, and enough water to just cover the oxtails.

Lay a piece of foil or parchment across the opening of the pan, then push down gently so that the parchment or foil is just about the surface of the stew, but does not touch it. Cover with the lid, place it in the oven, and cook for about 3-4 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bones.

Remove from oven, and place the meat in a separate container. Refrigerate the broth and meat overnight. The next day, skim the fat off the surface of the broth - it's a lot easier to do this if you don't have to work around all the chunks of meat. Return the meat to the broth, and heat through. Serve with chopped cilantro, mushrooms, lime wedges, and/or chopped green onions

Serves 8.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie

As I've mentioned before, one of my favorite food magazines is Fine Cooking. During a recent visit with my auntie, she said that what sets this magazine apart is that she saves the entire issue. When it comes to other cooking magazines, she tears out pages that interest her, and she tosses the rest of the magazine.

Well said.

This past Thanksgiving, I decided to add a chocolate pecan pie to the menu, in addition to my favorite pecan pie. I'm just getting around to posting about it now, in part because the making of said pie was traumatic:
Yes, that's my homemade tart shell on my kitchen floor. This is why I have commercial crust back-ups in my freezer. The pie weights left dents all over the bamboo - it looks like someone shot it up with a BB gun. But I'll deal with that at some point in the future!

Rose's tart on the left, chocolate espresso tart, in production, on the right

So, I used a Pillsbury pie crust for a recipe by pastry chef Karen Barker in Fine Cooking's issue #88. Boy, this is one rich, sweet, fudgy pecan pie. Too sweet, I thought, but I noticed an odd thing: folks would take a small bite and, overwhelmed by the richness of the pie, they would set it aside. And then come back for another bite. And another. Hhm. I guess some folks like really sweet, chocolatey pecan pie. Imagine that!

I've tweaked the recipe a bit to tone down the sweetness, but trust me, it will still be very sweet. And do not be tempted to use anything but unsweetened chocolate, or your teeth will ache!
The original recipe used corn syrup and a cup of sugar.

Chocolate Espresso Pecan Pie
Adapted from a recipe by Karen Barker, in Fine Cooking #88
One 9-inch pie crust, homemade or purchased, and blind-baked until a light golden brown
For the filling:

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Valrhona. Boy, is it good!)
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup Lyle's golden syrup
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbs. instant espresso powder (I used Megdalia D'Oro)
2 Tbs. coffee liqueur
2 cups lightly toasted, coarsely chopped pecans
About 1/2 cup perfect pecan halves

To make the filling:

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave or in a small metal bowl set in a skillet of barely simmering water, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth. Set aside and allow mixture to cool slightly

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, Lyle's golden syrup, sugar, and salt. Dissolve the instant espresso in 1 Tbs. hot water and add to the egg mixture, along with the coffee liqueur and the melted chocolate and butter. Whisk to blend.

Evenly spread the toasted pecan pieces in the pie shell. To form a decorative border, arrange the pecan halves around the perimeter of the pie shell, on top of the pecan pieces, keeping the points of the pecans facing in and the backs just touching the crust. Slowly and carefully pour the filling into the center of the pie plate and over the pecans until the shell is three-quarters full. Pour the remaining filling into a liquid measuring cup or small pitcher. Transfer the pie to the oven and pour in the remaining filling. (The pecans will rise to the top as the pie bakes.)

Bake the pie until the filling puffs up, just starts to crack, and appears fairly set, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer it to a rack and allow it to cool completely (at least 4 hours) before serving. The pie is best if you refrigerate it overnight - the filling sets and the flavors develop.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Peanut Blossom Cookies for Sugar High Friday

Candy Recapper is hosting this month's Sugar High Friday. The theme? Why candy, of course! In my first official foray into SHF, I present to you, Peanut Blossom cookies, garnished with Hershey's chocolate kisses. Little kids just love these, so if you have young ones who are free of chocolate or peanut allergies, definitely give these a try, if you haven't done so already.

Peanut Blossom Cookies
Adapted from Land O'Lakes
Preparation time: 45 min Baking time: 8 min
Yield: 4 dozen cookies

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter (not the health food kind)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
48 milk chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped
Heat oven to 375°F. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and salt; continue beating until well mixed. Add flour and baking soda. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, just until well mixed. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. (If dough is too soft, refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes.) Roll balls in the 1/4 cup sugar. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until very lightly golden brown. Immediately press 1 chocolate kiss in center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheets; cool completely on wire racks.

Nutrition Facts (1 cookie): Calories: 100, Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 70mg, Carbohydrates: 12g, Dietary Fiber: 0g, Protein: 2g
© 2001 Land O'Lakes, Inc.

Update: As I noted in the comment section, refrigerating this dough really helped reduce spread. I made a similar recipe at Christmas, but it used shortening instead of butter, and the taste just wasn't the same. If you still have trouble with cookie spread after working with cold dough, reduce the butter to 1/4 cup and use 1/4 cup of butter flavored Crisco. That will help, and the taste will still be very good!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hey! What's All This White Stuff?!

"What is all this stuff?"
"My feet are cold!"
"Hmm, I don't think there will be any grilling tonight!"

Salmon Cakes with Asian Salad

Oh, these were sooooo good! Master Chow said, "this tastes like restaurant food!" Then he asked me to put it on the "repeat list."

One of my top two favorite cooking magazines is Cuisine at Home (the other is Fine Cooking). This recipe is from their April 2003 issue, and I tried it because I had a frozen piece of salmon that I wanted to use up, and I was desperate to prepare it in a new way. I decided upon this winning recipe, and tweaked it a bit by cutting down on the sugar called for in the dressing, and leaving out some of the herbs in the salad. Next time, I'm going to try it with canned salmon and see how that works.
Salmon Cakes with Asian Salad
Adapted from a recipe in Cuisine at Home, April 2003
Asian Vinaigrette
Whisk together and chill:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 T. vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil)
2 T. low-sodium soy sauce
1 T. sugar
2 t. toasted sesame oil
1 t. fresh ginger, grated
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes

For the salmon cakes, combine:
1 lb. salmon, poached, chilled, and flaked
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup scallions, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Poaching salmon: poach in enough water to cover the fish. Add some salt and a few lemon slices to the water, which help keep the flesh firm. Heat until you just start to see bubbles, then add the fish. You do NOT want this to boil or bubble a lot - it should be a gentle simmer. Cook until you can flake the fish, or about 6-10 minutes per pound. It may take a bit longer, so keep an eye on it!
Whisk together, and add to the salmon cake mixture:
4 eggs
3 T. fresh lime juice
3 T. low-sodium soy sauce
2 T. rice vinegar (seasoned rice vinegar has sugar in it, unseasoned does not - use what you have and adjust the rest of the sugar accordingly to suit your taste)
2 T. fresh ginger, minced
2 T. jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 T. sugar
1 t. kosher salt

Once you have mixed all the salmon cake ingredients together, form them into patties, coat with the following, then chill for at least one hour
(this is important - chilling the cakes firms them up and makes them easier to handle when you fry them):
1 cup panko crumbs
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Fry cakes in vegetable oil until golden brown. Some suggestions: (1) use a non-stick pan, (2) use a clear vegetable oil, not olive oil, to preserve the taste of the fish, (3) use a fork to place the salmon cakes in the pan to keep from knocking off too much of the coating, (4) handle the cakes gently, or they will fall apart, and (5) do not overcrowd the pan.
For the salad:
10-16 oz. greens, cleaned and spun dry. Toss with vinaigrette and plate. Top with two salmon cakes, and drizzle with more vinaigrette.
Makes 12 cakes, 6 servings.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Easiest Hash Browns Ever. Really.

Above, a photo of one of my favorite meals, bar none!

If I were rescued after being stuck on a desert island, my first meal would probably be hash(ed) brown potatoes and two eggs, with runny yolks. Oh, yum.

About 30 years ago, my mum found a recipe for hash browns in a woman's magazine, probably McCall's, but I don't recall for sure. I remember making them with her at that time, and the recipe included lots of sour cream and melted cheddar cheese. Ah, the memories, and the metabolism of a teenager. But I digress.

One of the things I have used from that recipe over the years, is this quick and easy way to make hash browns. No shredding raw potatoes. No squeezing the liquid out as you wring the spuds in a towel. No, siree. Are you ready? Here goes:

Step One:
Start with a starchy potato, such as a russet, like this one.

2. Step 2
Bake it. Then, ideally, refrigerate it overnight. You can even bake it in the microwave, but I prefer the oven.

3. Step 3
Put a pan, preferably NOT non-stick (I use my cast iron skillet), over medium high heat. Add some olive oil. Obviously, the more olive oil, the more delicious the end result, but Master Chow and I do try to watch our waistlines, so I tend to be careful. Most of the time.

4. Step 4
Using a box grater, grate the potato directly into the pan. If you like, remove the skin beforehand, but I find that as I grate the potato, the skin falls off and I just pluck it out of the pan.

5. Step 5
After you've finished grating the potatoes, spread them in the pan, season them with salt, pepper, and a bit more olive oil. Spread them out in the pan again, and then leave them alone! Let the potatoes cook for a few minutes, lower or increase the heat if necessary. Flip the potatoes over when they have formed a nice crust on the underside. This is not an omelette, and the whole thing won't flip over in one piece. Just flip bits over, piece by piece. At this point, I start to cook the eggs. Gastronomic delight is just around the corner!

6. Step 6

Monday, January 07, 2008

Alice Medrich's Luscious Vodka Chocolates

One of my favorite cookbook authors is Alice Medrich. I credit her, back in the 1980s, to with awakening me to the marvel of truly fine chocolate. I was a graduate student in the Bay Area, and one day I decided to walk into one of her Cocolat chocolate shops. I bought a white chocolate champagne truffle, and popped the whole thing into my mouth. If your tongue can have an orgasm, mine did at that time. I had never tasted anything like it. Every once in a while after that I would treat myself to some goodie, whatever I could afford on an extremely tight budget.

When I moved from Hawaii to the east coast a few years ago, I lovingly packed her book, Cocolat: Extraordinary Chocolate Desserts, and mailed it. The post office lost the box, and I was so busy with work at that time, that I failed to replace the book promptly. When I did try to buy a new one, I discovered that the publisher must have lost its marbles, because the book was out of print, and I could only purchase it used, for quite a hefty price, via Amazon's marketplace. I bit the bullet and did so, a decision I do not regret.
Imagine my pleasure a few months ago, when I discovered Ms. Medrich's lovely new book,Pure Dessert. (Anita at Dessert First has also blogged about the book, as has Veronica's Test Kitchen). One of the first recipes that caught my eye was the recipe for Iced Citron Vodka Chocolates with Fresh Mint.
As I was preparing for the holidays, I discovered an alarming amount of chocolate that I needed to use up, as some of it was starting to bloom (that went into cookies). What better way to use up chocolate than to make . . . chocolates? And take a new cookbook for a test run? I doubled the batch (I don't recommend this, but I had a lot of chocolate, cream, and mint to use up). I did not have citron vodka, so I used Stolichnaya regular vodka and added a few drops of lemon oil to it.
The result? Delicious. I served them at a Christmas party, and people loved them, even Master Chow, who prefers white chocolate. I keep the chocolates in the freezer, and serve them ice cold. The vodka and faint mint and citrus flavors make the little morsels just go "poof" in your mouth when you bite into them. Medrich's instructions were clear, simple, and exhaustive (I'm going to summarize my adaptations below).
I can hardly wait to try other recipes in her new book!
Iced Citron Vodka Chocolates with Fresh Mint
Adapted from a recipe by Alice Medrich in Pure Dessert
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1 cup plus 2-3 extra Tablespoons heavy cream
9 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, marked 55% to 60% cacao (I used Scharffen Berger)
2 Tablespoons vodka, plus 3-5 drops of lemon oil
12-16 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, for dipping

An 8-inch square baking pan
Instant read thermometer
Baking sheet
Wax paper
Make the mint infusion:
Combine the cream and mint in a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight. I let mine sit for three days and it was fine.
Strain the cream using a strainer over a glass measuring cup, pressing the leaves to get all the cream out. Discard the mint, and add additional cream to make one cup.
Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with foil.
Make the ganache:
Chop the 9 ounces of chocolate into small pieces, no bigger than almonds, and set aside in a medium bowl.
Bring the cream to a low boil. Pour over the chocolate and gently stir with rubber spatula, until the chocolate is melted, and the mixture is completely smooth. Do not splash, or whisk or stir too briskly, or the ganache will have a grainy and cakey texture. Stir in the vodka and mix just enough to blend. Strain the ganache into the baking pan, level, and freeze until hard.
Line a large baking pan with wax paper. Cover a large cutting board with parchment paper. Using the edges of the foil, lift the slab of frozen ganache out of the pan, and flip it over onto the cutting board. Peel the foil off.
Using a large chef's knife dipped in hot water, cut the ganache into 6 or seven equal strips, taking care not to cut through the parchment paper, and working quickly to prevent the ganache from melting . Cut the strips into squares. Transfer the squares into the prepared pan, and cover it with plastic wrap.
Keep the squares frozen until ready to dip the chocolates.
Dip the chocolates:
To dip the chocolates, cover a sheet pan with parchment. Melt the chocolate for dipping over a double boiler of barely simmering water. When the chocolate is thoroughly melted, cool it to 100 to 105 degrees F. Working with small amounts of the squares at a time (keep the others in the freezer until you need them), dip them in the chocolate, using a fork, and wipe the tines of the fork against the edge of the bowl to drain excess chocolate back into the bowl. Don't let the chocolates sit too long on the fork, or they will stick. If you like, using the dipping fork, drizzle the dipped chocolates randomly to create patterns on their surface.
Refrigerate or freeze the chocolates in covered containers. They keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, or 3 months in the freezer. Note: the chocolates must be refrigerated, or they will bloom, as the chocolate shell is not tempered. They also taste terrific that way!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Another Winning Cookie: Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate Chunkers

A Sea of Chocolate Heaven

These cookies accomplished a number of things: (1) they helped me clean out my pantry of an alarming amount of chocolate that I needed to use up; (2) they kept me interested in Christmas baking; and, (3) they put me into a chocolate coma. Can life get much better than that?
I am so glad I followed Dorie's instructions and used premium chocolate (the white chocolate chips that I used were Nestle, but I didn't skimp on the other chocolates). I used a combination of Ghirardelli, ScharffenBerger, and Valhrona.
These cookies are dense, gooey, and intensely chocolatey. The white chocolate chips provide a startling contrast to the richness of the dark chocolates. I used dried apricots and pecans in the recipe, but next time I might try craisins like Brilynn did over at Jumbo Empanadas. At My Feasts, Maya used raisins and pecans. I don't like cookie dough (I know, weird), but I had to restrain myself from eating this batter out of the bowl - that's how good it was.
A few final thoughts. I thought that the apricots were a tad bitter, so I'm going to try another fruit next time. I also think these cookies are not particularly kid friendly (especially with the apricots), unless the child in question has a taste for something other than milk chocolate. Finally, don't make the cookies too small. I found that a golf-ball sized blob of dough gave me a lot of cookies, yet maintained the gooey consistency inside.

Now THIS is chocolate cookie dough!

Chocolate Chunkers
Adapted from a recipe in Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
1/3 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Droste Dutch processed cocoa)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking powder
3 tablespoon unsalted butter – cut into pieces
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz. white chocolate chopped
1 ½ coarsely chopped nuts ( I used pecans)
1 cup dark or golden raisins, plump dried apricots, or another dried fruit that you like.

Center rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats (don't skip this step).

Sift together flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder. Melt butter with unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. The chocolate should be smooth and shiny. Set on counter to cool.

Beat eggs and sugar on medium high speed until mixture is pale and foamy. Reduce speed, add vanilla. Then add cooled melted chocolate, and mix only until incorporated. Add dry ingredients. Do not over mix. Dough will be thick and shiny. Try not to eat all the dough out of the bowl.

Add semisweet and white chocolate chunks, nuts, and raisins. Drop dough onto baking sheets, making each cookie about the size of a golf ball. Leave an inch between dough. Bake for 10-12 minutes, but start to check your cookies at about 7-8 minutes. It's very hard to tell if a chocolate cookie is "done," and burned chocolate tastes terrible. Dorie recommends baking until the "tops of the cookies look a little dry."
Cool cookies. These freeze very well.

Cooking Tip: If You Don't Have Access to Bleached Flour

I found this tip on A Merrier World, via Rose Levy Berenbaum's blog. This may be helpful to those of you living outside of the United States, where you may not have access to bleached flour. Thanks to Kate from A Merrier World for her discovery:

For those of you around the world who do not have access to the wonderful bleached flour available in the US (such as Gold Medal) necessary for the best texture and flavor in butter layer cakes, Kate has been doing some astonishing work using the microwave to 'heat treat' the flour, enabling it to gelatinize in much the same way that bleaching accomplishes. (Source).