Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Cookie Twofer

I don't think I have ever met anyone who doesn't like cookies. I know we all have our favorites and there are some of us who have specific dislikes but on the whole I think everyone can agree that there is nothing wrong with cookies. Cookie trays are an awesome addition to any dessert table (like the one above at the Grad BBQ*) and can even be turned into a dessert table of their own. They are easy to make, affordable and invoke happy memories of childhood and holidays past.

I chose to make three kinds of cookies for the Graduation BBQ, Pinwheels (which need their own post in the near future), Oatmeal Raisin (because one of the Grads the BBQ was for requested them) and Toll House (because almost everyone likes them.) The Toll House cookies really don't deserve their own post but I do want to talk about them a bit because any time I make them they quickly disappear and in the midst of all the "yums" and "ahhs" I do get the occasional question as to why mine turn out so different than everyone else's.

In the 1930s Ruth Wakefield accidentally invented the Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie when she decided to add bits of chocolate to some Butter Cookies she was making for guests at the inn she ran with her husband. No matter what modern Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe you look at, they can all be traced back to this happy mistake. I love Toll House Cookies, especially when you cook them to the point of being "well done" and they are all brown and crispy on the outside and all melty and gooey on the inside. And in most cases I would tell you not to mess with perfection but tweaking my friends in a horse of another color altogether and it's the tweaks that takes these cookies from awesome to amazing!

Toll House Cookie Tweaks

1. Use real, good quality, unsalted butter and let it get really soft but NOT melted before you cream it with the sugars.
2. Use real, good quality vanilla extract. I like Madagascar Bourbon vanilla.
3. Make sure your dry ingredients are fresh.
4. I only use King Arthur AP flour in my cookies. Trust me, it makes a difference in flavor.
5. And this is the most important tweak... after you make the cookie dough, let it sit in the fridge overnight. To make my life easier I dump the dough onto a large (about a foot and a half long) piece of wax paper and roll the dough into a log. I wrap the log in plastic and let it chill until I am ready, then I slice and bake. It's the letting the dough rest that makes all the difference in the world with these cookies!

I guess we're now at the portion of this post where I have to make a confession. I really don't like raisins in baked goods and try to never add them. I find them dry, chewy and just plain old yucky. So when I knew I couldn't say no to the request (how could I ever say no to that face?), I set out to scour my cookbooks for the most awesome Oatmeal Raisin Cookies ever! And guess what? With a little tweaking and patience, I found hit on just the right combination of ingredients and technique!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

This recipe is a little different than I usually give in that there are instructions before the ingredients list. These first directions make a HUGE difference in the cookie and should not be skipped.

1.) Two hours BEFORE you are going to make the cookie dough beat 2 eggs with 1 Tablespoon (yes you read that right) of good quality vanilla, add 1 cup of raisins or dried cranberries, cover and set aside. You can stir them occasionally if you would like but you don't have to.

2.) One hour BEFORE you are going to make the cookie dough set 1 cup of butter on the counter. Since I like to make my life easier and spoilage is not an issue, I took mine out when I did the raisins.

1 C unsalted butter -softened
1 C light brown sugar
3/4 C sugar
2 C flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t freshly rasped ginger
1/4 t freshly rasped nutmeg
2 1/2 C old fashioned oatmeal

Pre-heat oven to 350*, prep your cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sift all the dry ingredients except oatmeal in a bowl. I usually just dump all of my dry ingredients into a bowl and give it a few turns with a balloon whip.

Cream the butter and sugars. Mix egg/raisin mixture followed the sifted, dry ingredients and then by the oats. I do all of this on my Kitchen Aid but you can do it by hand too.

Now cover the dough and let it chill for 3 or 4 hours. When you're ready to bake, scoop out about a tablespoon of dough, roll it into a ball and space them about an inch apart on a prepared pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool for one minute and set on rack to finish cooling.

These are without question THE BEST Oatmeal Cookies Evah!

*I did not make the "photo cake" and I don't know where it was purchased. I do know however that almost any place that sells cakes can produce a "photo cake" and in most cases they will make and sell you the edible image(s) to put on your own homemade cake/cupcakes. All of the other goodies on the table came out of my kitchen or "Kitchen North" where I was aided by my best friend and the light of my life.


Post a Comment