Monthly Archives: December 2007

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

What sort of cookie website would this be if I didn’t include a chocolate chip cookie recipe? These come to you based on a recipe from Williams Sonoma’s Essentials of Baking, which was my bible in my nascent stages of bakerness.

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c firmly packed light brown sugar
6 tbs granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c plain chocolate chips
3/4 c white chocolate chips
3/4 c dark chocolate chips

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350oF. Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on low speed until well blended. Slowly add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips.
4. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons on to the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until the edges and bottoms are lightly browned and the tops feel firm when lightly touched, about 10-13 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

NOTE: Chocolate chip cookies are amazingly versatile. You can make the basic dough and then mix in any number of things (chocolate chips, nuts, dried cranberries, raisins, etc.). Experiment! It’s fun!

Makes about 30 large-ish cookies

Chocolate Orange Pinwheels

These look far more difficult than they actually are, although the rolling process can be a bit iffy.  Make sure your dough is well-refrigerated.  They come out with a crisp yet airy texture.

Chocolate Orange Pinwheels

1 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp grated orange-zest
2 tsp Dutch-process cocoa powder

1. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  Place the chocolate in the top of a double boiler placed over hot, barely simmering water.  Heat, stirring often, until the chocolate melts.  Remove from over the water and set aside to cool slightly.
2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat on low speed until blended.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated and the dough is smoothing.
3. Divide the dough in half.  Put one-half of the dough in a separate bowl and stir in the orange zest.  Add the melted chocolate and cocoa powder to the dough remaining in the large bowl and mix on low speed until completely blended into the dough.  Gather up each portion, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.
4.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator.  One at a time, place each dough portion between 2 sheets of waxed`paper and roll out into a rectangle 10 by 5 inches and about 1/8 inch thick.  Remove the top piece of waxed paper from each rectangle.  In a small bowl, using a fork, beat the egg white until foamy.  Brush it lighting over the top surface of the chocolate dough.  Using the waxed paper, flip the chocolate dough onto the orange dough and press the doughs together.  Peel off and discard the top piece of waxed paper.  Trim the dough edges evenly.  Roll up the 2 layers of dough into a tight log, removing the remaining piece of waxed paper as you roll.  Gently press the seam along the roll to seal it.  Trim the ends evenly.  The roll should be about 9 inches long.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
5. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350oF.  Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper.  Unwrap the log and slice into slices about ¼ inch thick.  Place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
6. Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until the edges just begin to turn slightly golden about 8-12 minutes.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 30 cookies

Gingerbread

It wouldn’t be winter without some gingerbread.  This is the same recipe that my mother, sister and I have been using to make gingerbread houses every December for many years.  Since it is intended for house-making, should you be making the cookies for personal consumption, you could easily halve the recipe.

Gingerbread

2 c (4 sticks) unsalted butter
2 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 c unsulfured molasses
4 tbs vinegar
10 c sifted all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt

1.    Cream shortening and sugar.  Beat in eggs, molasses, and vinegar.
2.    Sift dry ingredients and blend in.  Chill at least 3 hours.
3.    Roll dough on lightly floured surface until 1/8 in. thick.  Cut in shapes and bake in 375oF oven on lightly greased cookie sheets 5 to 6 minutes.
4.    Cool and remove from pan.  Let stand overnight to dry.

Makes a lot, a lot, a lot!

TO DECORATE: Mix one egg white with about 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar (and maybe a bit of meringue powder, if you happen to have it) and 1/4 cup of water until it forms a thick paste. Transfer to a plastic bag with a very small hole cut in one of the corners or a pastry bag with a small tip.  Pipe designs on and let dry.

Earl Grey Tea Cookies

Earl Grey was my favourite tea variety for many, many years, so when I found this recipe in Real Simple about 4 years ago, I knew I had to make it.  Understandably, it is very popular with tea lovers.

Earl Grey Tea Cookies

2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c confectioners’ sugar
2 tbs Earl Grey tea leaves (approximately 6 tea bags)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1.    Heat oven to 375oF. Sift together the dry ingredients.
2.    Cream the vanilla and butter.  Gradually mix in the dry ingredients, followed by 1 tsp. of water.  Mix until a dough is formed.
3.    Divide the dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a 12-inch log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
4.    Slice each log into disks, 1/3 inch thick. Place on parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

Makes about 6 dozen (you may want to halve the recipe)

Cranberry Shortbread

Shortbread is a real tea classic.  These cookies break the mold, well, by not using a shortbread mold.  The addition of the cranberries adds a nice tart contrast.

Dried Cranberry Shortbread

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 c sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c finely chopped dried cranberries
1. Heat oven to 325oF with a rack in center.  Combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, flour, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Beat with a wooden spoon until combined but not too creamy.  Stir in dried cranberries.
2. Pat dough evenly into an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan.  Bake until just beginning to turn golden, about 20 minutes.  Place pan on cooling rack until cool enough to touch, about 20 minutes.  Run knife around edges and slice with a sharp knife.  Gently turn out of pan.  Cookies will keep for 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

Makes about 12-16 rectangles

Chocolate Nut Biscotti

America seems to have something of a coffee addiction, what with the Starbucks phenomenon, “America runs on Dunkin’ ” and the rest of the coffee chains… Wouldn’t it be nice to have some nice, homemade biscotti to complement? You should try to use high quality chocolate, if you can.

Chocolate Nut Biscotti

2 large eggs
1 tbs. instant coffee
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c butter, softened
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 c almonds, chopped
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 325oF  Lightly butter and flour a large baking sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, stir the eggs, instant coffee, and vanilla until well-blended and set aside.  In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Beat in the egg mixture.  Gradually add the flour mixture, beating well after each addition.  Stir in the nuts and chocolate.
4. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions.  On a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into 2 logs, each 14 in. long, 1 1/2 in. wide, and 1 in. thick.  Place the logs 12” apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
5. Set the baking sheet on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Remove the logs from the baking sheet and place on a cutting board.  Using a serrated knife, cut each log diagonally into 3/4” slices.  Place the slices upright and 1/2” apart on the baking sheet.
6. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until slightly dry.  Remove the biscotti from the baking sheet.  Cool completely on the wire rack.
7. Store in a tightly covered container.

Makes about 30 cookies

Caramel Cashew Cookies

I call these “my signature cookie”, but I should probably just rephrase that to “my favourite cookie”. Could this be because I love cashews, caramel and cookies?  Most probably… As a warning, these generally do not travel well, as the caramel tends not to solidify enough to stack them conveniently. If you’re storing them, I’d suggest separating them with pieces of parchment paper or waxed paper.

Caramel Cashew Cookies

1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 c roasted, salted cashews
2 tbs plus 1 tsp. canola oil
1 stick (8 tbs) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
24 cubes soft caramel candy (7 oz.)
1/4 c heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350oF and line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Sift flour and salt together.? Coarsely chop 1 c cashews; set aside. Process remaining 1 1/2 c cashews in a food processor until finely chopped. Pour in oil. Process until mixture is creamy, about 2 minutes.

3. Put cashew mixture, butter, and sugars into a large bowl; mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and? gradually add flour mixture. Mix in reserved chopped cashews.

4. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; space 2 inches apart the prepared baking sheets. Bake 6 minutes; gently flatten with a spatula. Bake until bottoms are just golden, 6 to 7 minutes more. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.

5. Melt caramels with cream in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring. Let cool until it is about the consistency of honey. Using a spoon, drizzle caramel over cookies; let set. Store airtight in single layers.
NOTE: These cookies are a bit difficult to store (due to the caramel drizzles). If you are storing them in layers, it is best to separate them with waxed paper. They also store well in the refrigerator or other cool environment.

Makes about 30 cookies