The Cookie Jar

Monday, April 11, 2011

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I used to hate making cookies… they are very time consuming.. you pour, mix, cream and then have to roll out  e…..v….e…..r….y…..s….i….n…g…..l….e  one. Then I found it relaxing.. there is something about pinching off a bit of cookie dough in your hands and shaping them into cookies that gets you lost in your thoughts.. I really work some things out in my head when I bake.. I argue with the latest person I have a problem with.. I think about what I would do if I could do them the way I want… I vent, dream, cry, and relieve so much when I cook..

It’s so much cheaper than therapy.

Until the price of butter goes up..

I like being able to deliver the latest request.. When Gabe asks me for some cookies I pretty much jump to the chance… ( his wife is going to hate me.. “ I DON’T CARE WHAT YOUR MOTHER DID FOR YOU!!) he usually has the same demands.. chocolate chip..  James loves peanut butter.. Layla chocolate chip and Zoe chocolate cake..

I’m not very adventurous when it comes to trying out new recipes..  too many people have pallets of  donkeys and don’t care what they produce so I usually read and reread and  compare before I waste any of my butter on a cookie that could be dry, tasteless, or hard as a rock.

But cookies are simple.. lack of taste? Add more vanilla, salt or flavor of the cookie.. peanut butter, cranberries, or chocolate chips.. to dry? Look at the ratio of the flour verses the eggs and butter and then adjust.. usually less flour by ¼ of a cup... to crisp?   Bake it less and don’t ever ever leave them on the pan if they look done.. the great thing about cakes and cookies is that they still cook even when out of the oven… the obvious gooey ones leave them on the pan for a few mins and they will finish cooking..  There is a science to cooking and if you understand the ingredients and what they do ( Thank you Cooks Illustrated!) you can tweak any recipe to make it better.

Baking soda and baking powder are leavings  they help your cookies rise… to much baking powder will cause your cookies to rise and then fall…  when you see a recipe that calls for ¼ teaspoon of baking soda don’t skip that.. it helps your baked goods brown..

“Without eggs, homemade cookies are no more than stone breads with sugar. This natural ingredient contributes to: Building structure Lending desirable texture and taste Leavening extending shelf life” bla bla bla  this isn’t one ingredient you can skip over..

Salt helps to bring out the other flavors. Even if you are not making cookies, this rule holds true. Try making something fairly bland without any salt. Taste it. Now add some salt in. You will notice a difference. Lack of taste? Add more salt.. I usually glace a recipe and see the measurements for the salt.. my rule is one teaspoon of salt for three cups of flour…
Sometimes you’ll see a recipe call for shortening and butter.. shortening is to hold the shape of the cookie better since butter tends to spread easily… there is no taste in shortening.. and since this is about cookies not about deadly products out there we will just leave it as don’t use shortening… I’ve found a good way to prevent spreading of my cookies.. roll them in balls before baking.. somehow that shape helps.. and if your dough is too soft let it sit in your fridge for a hour or two.. ( or overnight like me because you got a hair brain idea to make cookies at nine at night and only got through two batches before you gave up)  this lets your butter harden back up so that it doesn’t melt as fast in your oven…

Sugar is one of the main components  if you reduce the amount of granulated sugar called for in your cookie recipe, you inadvertently increase the amount of water or liquid that is available for flour to absorp. As a result, your dough will be stiffer, and your sugar cookies tend to be crunchy and don't spread much. But that also doesn’t mean you blindly follow a recipe.. there is usually 2 cups of sugar to one cup of butter.. if you have a recipe that has 4 cups of sugar and one cup of butter one… your not going to be able to cream it together and two some idiot did a typo… ( I never do typos… I just didn’t read over my blog and find about ten that I need to correct..) it all comes down to using common cooking sense..

I am sure that next year I will be on a different cooking obsession but this spring it has been cookies..  The kids better enjoy it while they can.. it might just be with liverwurst soon…

 Here is my favorite cookies to make..

Chocolate chip.. This one is great.. I am sure I am being  hypocrite  here by having pudding mix in my dough… but you would be one too once you tried them. I love to make the full batch and do one box vanilla and one box French vanilla.. they are amazing. I made these once and froze the dough that I made up as balls and they turned out fine..

Oatmeal.. cranberry…. cookies… now those I could eat.. I love the bite that the cranberrys give you.. this recipe calls for raisins and if you’re a cranberry hater then go for it.. these are soft and chewy.

This doesn’t make that much… it says something like 36 cookies and I barely get 24 out of the recipe.. these are more for a special occasion  or a cookie swap.

James’s favorites… I am reminded of Papa when I make these.. how much he loved cookies but they had to be crunchy..
These aren’t… And I miss him.


Jessica said...

Did you have me in mind when you brought up all the ingredients not to skip? Hmmm, thought so- living proof: there are those who make repeatedly terrible cookies and who have to MAKE themselves NOT skip ingredients.

Anonymous said...

my worst mistake, as jessica said. somehow i just can't seem to follow any recipe without meddling in it...then i wonder why i bothered making dog biscuits.............
Mountain Mama

Anonymous said...

besides...that cookie monster reference to computer cookies....was that a dig at us computer illiterates also?

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