Saturday, April 12, 2008

C is for cookie...

And I like cookies. I like to bake them, I like to pack them up and mail them to people, I like to eat them (often with coffee- did you know peanut butter cookies are delicious with coffee? I credit my grandmother with that idea).

I said in the last post that I had an idea for altering chocolate chip cookies. Well, I tried it out, and voila:
Chocolate chip cookies! I wish I had a picture of how they normally look with the Nestle's Tollhouse recipe (which is not how they look in the picture on that site), because these look so much prettier.

To recap, here is the recipe I used...

1/2cup (1 stick) of butter
1/2cup of shortening
3/4cup of brown sugar
slightly less than 1/2cup of granulated sugar (maybe 1/2cup minus 2 tablespoons- which is 3/8cup)
cream all that together, then add
1 egg
1/4cup honey
1teaspoon vanilla
beat more. Add in
2 and 1/4cups flour
1teaspoon each baking soda and salt
1 bag chocolate chips

Bake 375 10-12 minutes.

Now, let me analyze. They are much softer and chewier during the first few hours after baking. The normal recipe makes a cakier cookie- which is all well and good, but I'm really a chewy cookie person, and I feel they get stale and crumbly after a few days in a sealed container. The modified recipe had a sweeter taste and something I can only describe as a "hollow sweet taste". I feel like this taste would come from having too little salt (you really need salt to enhance the flavors), but I'm pretty sure the 1 teaspoon in this would be plenty of salt. It could also be from the lack of taste of shortening. But they basically tasted quite a bit like the cookies we used to get at receptions when I was in high school.... and I'm sure are the reason for quite a few of us holding onto our "baby fat" longer than normal.

So, yum. However, fast forward 24hours and the cookies turned out to be pretty hard. I've read that honey will substitute for 1and1/4 as much sugar and 1/4 liquid. Two eggs are 1/4cup of liquid and I cut out about 1and1/4 of the granulated sugar with 1/4cup of honey- but I should have used 1/2cup of honey to make up for the missing egg. So, I have plans to try again, where I'll use 1cup of brown sugar, no granulated sugar, 1 egg still, and 1/2cup of honey. I'm not sure if this is getting too far from my original attempt at a chewy cookie, but I've no doubt it'll be tasty, and if nothing else, I have a few friends that will basically eat anything that I can give these too.

Ok, so chocolate chip cookies are still in the works. But!! I have to finally talk about the Exotic Spice Cookies I mentioned earlier. These are GOOD. You will want to eat them all immediately. I'm serious- but don't, they keep really well, especially if there are some you burned and they're a little hard, keep them around a week and they'll get softer.

First cream 1/2cup of butter and 1/4cup shortening together, with 1cup brown sugar (she says dark, I usually only keep light on hand), then add an egg and 1/4cup honey and 1 teaspoon rosewater (very common in Indian cooking, and I believe available in the "international" section of your regular grocery store. I got my bottle at King Arthur Flour. Rosewater is basically rose petal tea, smells quite good, and a little goes a long way.) Then add in the flour mixture (which is 2cups flour, 2-1/4 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon each cardamom and cinnamon, 1/2teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 cup of chopped crystallized ginger (I always put mine in the food processor, it's incredibly annoying to chop large amounts of crystallized ginger because it's sticky)) and stir. Refrigerate the dough for an hour, and roll 1 tablespoon into balls, dip in turbinado sugar (raw sugar- like "Sugar in the Raw" in the sugar bowls at restaurants. I couldn't find mine (I usually have some on hand) so used sanding sugar. I would say any sugar but granulated, as it's too fine.) Bake 11-13min at 350.

Ok. These are amazing. So, so tasty. However, when I made them, I happened to not have enough crystallized ginger (again, something I always have on hand for baking, not something I went to the grocery store specifically to get 3/4cup), so used barely over 1/2cup- almost 1/3 less than I was supposed to. I love ginger, I will eat crystallized ginger alone. I know that this is kind of uncommon, because it is very strong, and so I was surprised to find, when I bit into a cookie, that the ginger flavor was very strong, even though I used less than I was supposed to. Also surprising was that when this cookie was made on the cookie contest show, one judge thought the ginger flavor didn't come out well enough to call them "ginger" cookies. My reaction to this is.... did she eat the right cookie?!

But anyway, the only thing I would say is you might consider reducing the ginger if you don't adore ginger. Otherwise, they have the perfect texture for a cookie and really deserved to win the grand prize on the show.

In the next week, I'll be making hors d'ouerves for a reception room at a meeting. I have a cold, so I won't be doing much cooking for a few days- but I'm definitely still collecting recipes to share later.

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