Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cookies for the holidays

Whether he wanted to or not, Patrick was willing to comply with my holiday wishes and make cookies with me. His other option? Seeing Four Christmases with Chris and his girlfriend Monica. Apparently he didn't miss out on much.

And he got to eat these little goodies straight out of the oven.

They were tasty - all of them. We made cookies in record time this year, thanks to my newest ideas in cookie making.

PROBLEM: When I make a batch of cookies, I eat them all.

SOLUTION: Make a couple cookies, freeze the dough in cookie-sized balls, have cookies ready to bake whenever you want them!


So Patrick and I baked peanut butter cookies that we had made earlier in the year. Only, when we made them, it was the first time I experimented with my cookie theory. And we froze the dough in a giant ball that we had to chop up with a knife and roll into balls, but everything was fine in the end.

Fortunately, Patrick and I have very warm hands and our defrosting powers are mad. A few rolls in our hands and they were ready to be pressed with a fork. Here's Patrick in action:

Here's Patrick impatiently, but happily waiting for cookies to emerge from the oven:

We also whipped up a batch of chocolate cookie bars with M&Ms on top of some, but not all, of them. And double chocolate cookies, which are insanely chocolate-y. The dough was basically black, but the cookies, ooh baby, with a glass of milk to cut the insanity, they are quite nice.

Recipes follow. The chocolate cookies are from the newest (January and February 2009) issue of Cook's Illustrated, which has a lot of amazing stuff in it, including a fantastic recipe for Wiener Schnitzel. We made that tonight. It, too, was awesome.

From the January and February 2009 issue of COOK'S ILLUSTRATED

0.33 c + 0.5 c granulated sugar
1.5 c unbleached all-purpose flour
0.75 c dutch-processed cocoa powder
0.5 tsp baking soda
0.375 tsp table salt
0.5 c dark corn syrup
1 large egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
0.33 c packed dark brown sugar
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 0.5 inch pieces

1. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18x12 inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 0.5 c granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Whisk corn syrup, egg white, and vanilla together in small bowl.
2. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar, and remaining 0.33 c granulated sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, add corn syrup mixture, and beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bowl once with rubber spatula. With mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture and chopped chocolate.; mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. Chill dough 30 minutes to firm slightly (do not chill longer than 30 minutes).
3. Divide dough into 16 equal portions [Kathleen note: I suggest 32, 16 makes BIG cookies and these are INSANELY, OVERWHELMINGLY CHOCOLATE-Y]; roll between hands into balls about 1.5 inches [or smaller] in diameter. Working in batches, drop 8 [16] dough balls into baking dish with sugar and toss to coat. Set dough balls on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches [1 inch] apart; repeat with second batch of 8 [16]. Bake, reversing position of baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until cookies are puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), 10 to 11 minutes. Do not overbake.
4. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack; cool cookies to room temperature.

From Baking: From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan, who is amazing
2.5 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp baking powder
0.25 tsp salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c peanut butter - crunchy or smooth, not natural
1 c packed light brown sugar
0.75 c sugar
2 large eggs
1.5 c chopped, salted peanuts [Kathleen note: I skipped these]
0.5 c sugar, for rolling


Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for a minute or two, until smooth and creamy. Add the peanut butter and beat for another minute. Add the sugars and beat for 3 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and, on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they just disappear. Mix in the chopped peanuts [I skipped]. You'll have a soft, pliable (mushable, actually) dough.
Pour the 0.5 c of sugar into a small bowl. Working with a level tablespoonful of dough for each cookie, roll the dough between your palms into balls and drop the balls, a couple at a time, into the sugar. Roll the balls around in the sugar to coat them, then place on the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between them. Dip the tines of a fork in the sugar and press the tines against each ball first in one direction and then in a perpendicular direction - you should have a flattened round of dough with crisscross indentations.
Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. When done, the cookies will be lightly colored and still a little soft. Let the cookies sit on the sheets for a minute before transferring them to cooling racks with a wide metal spatula. Cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the remaining dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches.

From the back of the Nestle Tollhouse bag

Follow the directions on the back of the bag (same ingredients as the cookies - follow the pan cookie baking directions). Use slightly more brown sugar than called for (maybe a tablespoon or so). Pour some M&Ms on the top, because they are pretty. And they are tasty.

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