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Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Not what I had in mind

When I wrote the other day about noticing and appreciating what is new, interesting or surprising in my life, this is not what I had in mind.

In Estonia, snow in April is honestly not that surprising. It’s happened at least once during the time that I’ve lived here. But for the past few weeks the air has felt so warm and it’s smelled like spring. Everyone seemed so hopeful and happy that the most lovely time of year was upon us, but as it turned out, winter wasn’t quite done with us yet. At least I get to go on vacation soon…

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Subject #13: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

This recipe has been all the rage on food blogs over the past few weeks. There’s a woman in California called Annie the Baker who makes and sells fat little cookies that remain soft and dough-like in the center even after being baked. A cookie with the texture of dough? That sounds perfect to me, as I am always guilty of stealing many bites of cookie dough from the mixing bowl, raw eggs be damned. Many bloggers that have sampled these cookies set out to re-create the recipe at home, and I chose to follow the recipe formulated by Diana at The Chic Life. I made one substitution that also violates my usual code as a chocolate chip cookie purist– instead of chocolate chunks, I opted to chop up 2 generic Snickers-type bars. I thought this kind of fun cookie needed a fun mix-in! I hope you all forgive me for still filing these under chocolate chip ;-).

Choco Nut– generic Snickers-like candy bars

One key step in achieving the proper texture in these cookies (and ensuring they don’t spread too much while baking) is refrigerating the dough before scooping it out. Our fridge was a little crowded today, so I put the bowl of cookie dough by the open window in our bedroom instead.

I scooped out the chilled and very stiff dough with my measuring tablespoon, as it has a nice round shape. Then I rolled the balls with my hands to make them even rounder.

With the first batch I discovered that the bits of candy bar close to the surface began to melt rapidly and molten caramel and nougat flowed out of the cookies. Not a tragedy, it just made them a little ugly. With the second batch I tried to make sure the candy pieces were all covered with a layer of dough so they wouldn’t have opportunity to leak out in the hot oven.

This is a pretty cookie, but you can see some of his leaky companions around him.

The finished result was definitely addictive. The texture was spot-on– they really do feel like thick, chewy cookie dough in a crispy cookie shell. However, the taste of the cookie itself falls a little flat. It’s like a plain sugar cookie without much butteriness or complexity. Next time I would add some more vanilla and probably a bit more salt as well. That being said, I definitely will be making these again, since they’re fun and something a little different from the usual large, flat chocolate chip cookies.

Hey, remember the other when I mentioned we’ve gotten a bunch of snow already? For your viewing pleasure, here are a a few pix I snapped while walking home from the gym today.

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Today brought the worst weather I have ever experienced in Estonia. I mean worst as in “extreme”, not worst as in “crappy”, because the nonstop rain in the fall is definitely the crappiest. But today there was wind and snow, and lots of it.

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Looking out the window around noon, J commented about how windy it was. The trees in front of the apartment building were bending, their branches waving crazily. The wind was blowing around the snow that had fallen during the past two days. As the afternoon went on, it only got worse. New snow began to fall, and the wind whipped it around, creating ice and snow drifts against the windows. We just kept staring out the window in awe. But what fun is it if you only experience this kind of weather from indoors? Naturally, we went for a walk.

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Our destination was a hotel about a mile away, where the International Women’s Club of Tallinn was holding its annual Christmas Bazaar. At first when we got outside, we thought it wasn’t so bad, but then came a gust of wind that caused us both to turn our faces away from the stinging ice and snow. When that wind smacked me right in the face, it was seriously hard to breathe. And when we reached a certain intersection where the wind always seems to be stronger (I think the tall buildings in that area have something to do with it), I had to grab onto J’s arm because I thought I would be knocked over. It was quite the adrenaline rush.

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We made it to our cozy destination perfectly safely, and began to enjoy the international Christmas treats on offer. J started with a Turkish coffee (along with a free bit of Turkish delight), and then we shared a slice of wiener schnitzel. Hungry for more lunch, we had three miniature spring rolls at the Chinese table. There are no pictures of this food because it was so crowded and bustling, it was impossible to stop in the middle of it to take pictures. I’m happy it was so crowded, though, since all the proceeds are going to a good cause.

J and I were naturally excited to see that the Belgian table was selling some Belgian beers that aren’t otherwise available in Estonia. Sweet! I don’t know if I ever mentioned how much “research” J did in terms of trying new beers in Brussels, but he definitely sampled a very wide assortment while we were there and grew to appreciate the high quality and deep flavors. J bought one bottle to give to his dad and I bought one bottle for us. They gave us the Christmas cookies as a free bonus.

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At the next table, Germany, I treated J to a cup of glögg , or mulled wine, which is hands-down my favorite cold-weather drink ( I must dedicate a post to it soon). The woman at the table assured us that it was made with good wine that had been donated to them. It was really delicious and well-spiced. From the Italian table, I bought two sets of tasting squares from Amadei. I’m really looking forward to doing a tasting with these amazingly high-quality chocolates.

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We also got a plate of assorted Christmas cookies– I’m not really sure exactly what they are.

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And of course I had to have these. J said he would buy them for me, and we got an incredible deal– we thought they were 5 kroons each, but then the woman only charged us 5 kroons for all five of them (which currently equals about 40 American cents!). Won’t they be adorable on the Christmas tree?

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Snowy days mean lots of tea

It snowed this week! The first snowfall of the season. At first it was fleeting, though– there was a dusting on Wednesday morning and a heavier cover on Thursday morning, but all of that had melted by Thursday evening. Then it snowed on and off all day Friday! And when there’s snow, there is tea.

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I wasn’t much of a tea drinker before I lived in Estonia. I only drank it when I was sick or occasionally in Chinese restaurants, but I wasn’t a huge fan. But the dark, cold days of the Estonian winter made me crave something warm to drink to help get rid of the chill. Hot chocolate is too rich to drink several times a day, and I’m sensitive to caffeine so one cup of coffee per day is pretty much my limit. So I turned to tea. I drank it because it seemed like a good idea, and it grew on me. Now I enjoy it, and I’m not just drinking it out of apparent necessity. Fruit teas are my favorite, but I also drink green, black, chai, etc.

And a few days ago I tried the chocolate chip tea that Stephanie sent to me in my Blogging by Mail package for the first time. Look at this stuff– do you see the tiny chocolate chips??

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It certainly smelled like chocolate, and the taste was interesting– the strength and bitterness of black tea with the flavor of chocolate but none of the richness. It’s a bit disorienting. The chocolate flavor is reminiscent of chocolate syrup. Milk seemed like a natural accompaniment to give it a bit of creaminess; I also added a little sugar. I’m happy to have this to add some variety to my tea selection this winter.

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