Category Archives: Cookies

Sweet Element Holiday Pop-Up Shop in SoHo!

We’re switching gears from cakes to chocolates & cookies for our pop-up shop in SoHo this Saturday, December 10th at Ruia NYC (65 Mercer St.) from 12pm-6pm!

As with all of our Sweet Element cakes, we believe that you should be able to try before you buy, so we’ll have free samples of chocolate bark, rocky road and a variety of cookies out for you to taste!

We will also be joined by these fabulous vendors selling excellent gifts for the holidays including: unique children’s clothing & accessories, hand-sculpted porcelain, natural & organic skin care, healthy chocolates & handmade jewelry.

I hope to see you there in support of small & *local* businesses!

M.B. Jewelry

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week!

In honor of national chocolate chip cookie week, I tried out a new-to-me recipe yesterday from one of my favorite Food Network chefs – Alton Brown.  Of the three variations (The Thin/The Puffy/The Chewy) in his chocolate chip special, “Chips for Sister Marsha”, I opted to take on The Chewy.

Even with a few alternations (AP instead of bread flour, double the amount of vanilla extract, and large bittersweet chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips), these turned out DELICIOUS!

Here’s a few of my favorite books to turn to whenever I’m in the mood to try out a new chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Happy 4th!

Hope everyone enjoys a very happy July 4th!

Here’s a few Sweet Element treats made for the holiday festivities:

July 4th Mini Cupcakes

Mini red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting & local NJ blueberries.

Smore Cupcake

Smore cupcake


Best lunch tray ever: Homemade "oreos", double chocolate oreo cupcake, mini red velvet cupcake & smore cupcake

Cookie Tasting I – Oatmeal Cookies

I have a new found respect for test kitchens!  I honestly think that test kitchen work would be the perfect day job for me. Combining cooking and data analysis – that’s my two lives now … except I would actually care about the results of a recipe test!  I’ve had tasting parties in the past, but never ran a taste test on one item like this before.  The results were quite interesting! 

A giant THANK YOU to all that had to endure tasting and retasting seven kinds of oatmeal cookies! Anyone that’s up for Peanut Butter Cookies… that’s the next test in the works.  I’m only at recipe collection stage on that one, so it’ll be a while before tasting commences 🙂

On this tasting, I ended up having a panel of 10 tasters, an even split of men and women, ranging in age from late 20’s and up.  Tasting strategies differed among all ten, six of which I personally observed tasting: some people dug right in and started eating cookie #1, while others started in the middle of the pack of cookies and ate randomly; some people used their noses, some didn’t bother; some ate through all in one pass and never looked back, and others went back for tasting round 2 before scoring.  The remaining four testers actually taste tested together, and I wonder if that somehow skewed their results (Yes, this speaks volumes for the control freak in me who wasn’t personally observing!).  It’s amazing what people can pick up from those surrounding them – even if there’s no talking allowed.  I knew which cookies were winners and losers just by the expression on the tasters faces I observed.  Out of the ten testers, two stated outright that oatmeal cookies were not their favorite kind of cookie, so I expected their judging to be skewed towards the non-traditional oatmeal cookie, which it was.

Characteristics expected in an oatmeal cookie ranked as follows:

Chewy – 6 out of 10

Raisins – 6 out of 10

Nuts – 4 out of 10

Crisp – 3 out of 10

Spice – 2 out of 10

Soft – 2 out of 10

Chocolate Chips – 1 out of 10

I found that overall grading scores didn’t seem to match up perfectly to tester’s verbal comments, so in my final judging, I’ve tallied in overall scores, oatiness scores, visual appeal scores, and verbal comments.  I’ve also taken into account for the final judging, tasters who had a strong preference for or against a certain characteristic in oatmeal cookies and my two tasters who are not oatmeal cookie fans.

Winning Cookie for Overall Score: Chock Full of Crunchies from Great Cookies

Most Visually Appealing Cookie: Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie w/ Dried Cherries from Cook’s Illustrated

Least Visually Appealing Cookie: Chock Full of Crunchies

Most Oaty Cookie: TIE btwn Chock Full of Crunchies & Writer’s Block Oatmeal Cookies from Plenty

FINAL RESULT:In the end, after reading through everyone’s comments, I think that my personal favorite cookie would be the Writer’s Block Oatmeal Cookies from Plenty, albeit with a few minor spice adjustments to please the greater American palate.  My old oatmeal cookie recipe came in a respectable 2nd in overall score, but when I ask myself which cookie I personally would rather eat – I’m headed for the Writer’s Block cookies.  The Chock Full of Crunchies (secret ingredient – rice crispies!) was a favorite, but time and time again, people said it reminded them more of a coconut sugar cookie than an oatmeal cookie and scored last in visual appeal in this test.  I would definitely make them in an assorted cookie plate, but for someone ordering traditional oatmeal cookies – it’s all about oats, raisins (sorry raisin-phobes), chewiness, and a slight spice.  I’ve had a few clients rave about the winner of the most visually appealing cookie – (with an addition of sugared pecans that was not in this taste test) – and I call those “The Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies” … as the name suggests, it’st loaded with stuff, and I guess that’s not what these tasters were expecting.  Apparently anything other than raisins or cinnamon stirred up controversy.  Cherries, cardamom, chocolate, nuts, and coconut have their place in other cookies …. but not in oatmeal cookies I guess. 

I’ll make up a batch of the winning cookie to photograph and post tonight …. 🙂

Cookies, Dogs, and Pepperoni

Not a bad day … I have a grand total of seven different kinds of oatmeal cookies made for testing, and one batch of Aloha Chip cookies made for a special someone 🙂 The chocolate dog experiment tonight went much better (see below) and Jay came home to 2 loaves of pepperoni bread, which he seemed quite happy about. My oven was on from noon to 9 PM, and I couldn’t be happier. If only every day could be like today!

The kitchen is currently in a state of chocolate chaos as the dogs were the very last thing to get done in the wee hours of the morning. I have no energy to go and clean any of it either – so it’ll just have to wait for me until Saturday morning, because tomorrow night we’re heading out after work for dinner and drinks.

I hope the dogs survive transit in the morning. I’ve finagled a ride in because I have so much to shelp in and we’re going out after work, so it’ll be a much nicer, more consistent temperature than my commute would normally be. That was my main motivation to get the dogs done tonight.

Of course, after such an energizing day in the kitchen, I’m totally not tired at all, and it’s 1:31 AM. Maybe I’ll go and finish my hat ….


Thanks to both Jay & Lisa for brainstorming ways to make this round of dogs much easier and better looking! Apparently bottom disks, a human enrober, slightly liquefied white chocolate with cocoa butter, and a modified piping tip did the trick!

Cookie Therapy

Before I even considered a career in the culinary world, I used to bake whenever I got too stressed out or life was getting me down. There was something about the alchemy of the simple task of cookie baking that was simply calming. I am pleased to say that even after culinary school and starting up a confectionery side business, cookie baking is still like therapy for me.

After working like a dog yesterday in the office, I managed to get everything done so I could not do any work from home, on my “work from home” day. I couldn’t have picked a better day either – got only 2 work emails and 1 voicemail the entire day. If I had been sitting at work, I would have been going mad with boredom.  How happy am I that I got to spend the day in the kitchen instead!
I spent the entire morning going through my cookbooks and making a chart of oatmeal cookie recipes I’ve never made. So far, I’ve made 4 recipes out of the 12 I jotted down. Since I’m halving all the recipes, the baking is going fairly quickly and I think I may actually get more made than I initially thought I could! Of course I’ll have to make my old standby recipe as well since I’m doing an unofficial recipe test tomorrow. I’ve numbered each recipe and placed 2 cookies of each recipe in small numbered ziploc bags for my testers. In the sample – two coworkers – one male, one female; a fellow pastry chef (female); & Jay (who I will bribe with a secret non-cookie recipe that I am making right this second … *hint* it takes over 3 hours to make this dish he loves).

I shall reveal the winning recipe & source here when the results are in!

On a side note, I am hoping that after a relaxing day at home, truffle-dog making this evening will go a little more smoothly than it did the first time around (pictures are just too horrid to post).