Category Archives: Cookies

June 2013 Cookie of the Month: Spider Cookies

 

Oh, these bring back sweet childhood memories!  I grew up knowing these as “Spider Cookies”.  However, they are often simply called “Uncooked Chocolate Cookies”.  Regardless their name, they are simple to make and very tasty; in fact, I’d say they are a close neighbour to candy.

These are indeed a vintage cookie.  I don’t know their origins but do know they were popular in the 1960s and since.  They have often been found at picnics and, whenever there was an event at school, inevitably somebody’s mom showed up with these treats in tow.

The great thing about these cookies is that you don’t have to bake them, they don’t take uncommon or a long list of ingredients, and they are relatively quick and easy to make, even for novice bakers.

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Spider Cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup margarine, butter, or shortening
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups quick cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup coconut
6 tbsp cocoa

Method:

In medium-sized saucepan, combine sugar, milk, margarine, and salt.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Stir.

In large bowl, combine rolled oats, coconut, and cocoa.  Stir well to combine.

Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients in bowl.  Stir to combine.  Mixture may seem soft but resist the urge to add more rolled oats which will make the cookies hard and chippy.  Let mixture stand, undisturbed, for 15-20 minutes and it will begin to firm up.

Drop by spoonfuls onto wax-paper lined baking sheet.  Place in refrigerator for apx. 1 hour to firm up cookies.

Yield:  apx. 36 cookies

Store in airtight container.  These cookies also freeze well.

Make sure you use a good quality cocoa to get the best, richest taste in these cookies.

Spider Cookies

These old-fashioned cookies are known by several names, including "Spider Cookies". Easy, no-bake confections.
Course Snack
Keyword nobake cookies, Spider Cookies
Servings 36
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup margarine butter, or shortening
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups quick cooking rolled oats not instant
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 6 tbsp cocoa

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized saucepan, combine sugar, milk, margarine, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir.
  3. In large bowl, combine rolled oats, coconut, and cocoa. Stir well to combine.
  4. Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients in bowl. Stir to combine. Mixture may seem soft but resist the urge to add more rolled oats which will make the cookies hard and chippy. Let mixture stand, undisturbed, for 15-20 minutes and it will begin to firm up.
  5. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax-paper lined baking sheet. Place in refrigerator for apx. 1 hour to firm up cookies.
  6. Store in airtight container. These cookies also freeze well.

Recipe Notes

Yield: apx. 36 cookies

 

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Spider Cookies
Spider Cookies

 

May Cookie of the Month: Cherry Winks

Cherry Wink Cookie
Cherry Wink Cookie

For the May “Cookie of the Month”, I am sharing our family recipe for the vintage cookie, Cherry Winks.  My Mother often made these cookies when I was a small child so they have been a family favorite for many years.  They are not difficult to make and don’t take any hard-to-find or unusual ingredients.  These tasty cookies are very versatile – they can be served on a sweet tray at an afternoon tea or they can be lunchbox cookies.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup shortening or butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, unbeaten
4 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped dates
3/4 cup chopped pecans
apx. 2 1/2 – 3 cups cornflakes
apx. 15 maraschino cherries, blotted dry in paper towel, and cut into quarters

Method:

Preheat oven to 375F.

In bowl of stand mixer, cream shortening or butter.  Add sugar and cream until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition.  Beat in milk and vanilla.

page 1 -butter mixture

In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.  Whisk together to blend.  Mix in the dates and pecans. Add to creamed mixture and stir until well combined.

Crush cornflakes crumbs by placing in a sealed ziplock bag and crushing with a rolling pin.

Transfer crumbs to shallow bowl.  Shape dough into small balls. Roll each cookie ball in the crumbs to coat.  Place on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Top each cookie with piece of cherry.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Let cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

These cookies go especially well with a glass of cold milk!

…and one is never enough!

A box of these cookies makes a wonderful, tasty gift!

What are your memories of cherry winks?

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Cherry Winks
Cherry Winks

 

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April Cookie of the Month: Lemon Spritz Shortbread Cookies

Lemon Spritz Shortbread Cookies
Lemon Spritz Shortbread Cookies

Spritz cookies are dainty-shaped cookies that are crisp and buttery.  They are made by pushing soft cookie dough through a cookie press which is a cylinder fitted with a decorative disk that has patterned holes through which the dough is “squirted” or pressed into shapes.  Typically, cookie presses come with many different decorative disks – mine has probably 20 or more.

These cookies are popular at Christmas, special occasions, and are very suitable for afternoon teas as they can be made in so many different shapes and colors and can be further embellished with icing, colored sugar, miniature gumdrops, or dragées.

My recipe for Lemon Spritz Cookies is buttery rich and delicate.  I like the flavour burst of lemon juice and zest in these petite cookies.

This recipe does best when the dough is chilled for 24 hours to allow the egg yolk to get fully incorporated and absorbed into the other ingredients.  Unlike most liquids, such as water or milk, for example, eggs take a lot more time to become incorporated into the dry ingredients.  When the dough comes out of the refrigerator, it will be too hard to push through the cookie press so let the dough sit at room temperature for about an hour or so until it becomes pliable enough that it can be formed into a roll that can be inserted into the cookie press cylinder.  You’ll notice this recipe has no baking powder or soda.  This is because that would cause the cookies to raise which, in turn, would result in them losing their shape and design that makes them spritz cookies.

Lemon Spritz Cookies

1 cup butter, softened

½ cup icing sugar

½ cup cornstarch

1 egg yolk

½ tsp lemon juice

½ tsp vanilla

¼ tsp almond flavouring

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 2/3 cup flour

smidgeon salt

pinch cardamom

 

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Cream butter and icing sugar.

Blend in cornstarch.

Add egg yolk, lemon juice, vanilla, almond flavouring, and lemon zest.

page 2 -Egg yolk, lemon juice, vanilla

Add the flour, salt, and cardamom to creamed mixture, stirring until well combined.

Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 24 hours.

Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for apx. 1 hour.  Form dough into a roll that will fit inside the cookie press cylinder.  Insert dough roll into the cookie press.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Follow manufacturer’s directions for your cookie press to form the cookies into decorative shapes.  Decorate with colored sugar, if desired.  Bake at 400F for 7-8 minutes.  Watch the cookies closely as their high butter content and small size means they will burn easily and quickly.  Let cookies cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes then transfer them to wire racks to finish cooling.

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March 2013 Cookie of the Month: Double Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies

Chocolate Drop Cookies Made with Stout
Double Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies Made with Stout

Well, for my Cookie of the Month for March, I tried to find out if there is a cookie recipe that traces its origins to Ireland or, alternatively, a cookie that is particularly popular on the Emerald Isle.  However, I had no luck in tracking down any (maybe it was lack of Irish luck!).  If any of you know of a traditional Irish cookie, please do share the information.

I decided to create a special recipe and give it a distinctly Irish flavour using stout in honour of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th.  As you know, whenever possible, I like to feature Island products in my cooking and baking.  PEI does have one brewing company that produces stout – The Island Brewing Company produces Gahan Sydney Street Stout.  However, it is apparently a limited edition and is not available in local liquor stores year-round — at least I couldn’t track down any.  So, instead, I opted to use Montreal-brewed St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout because it boasts hints of espresso and chocolate.  I knew I was going to be making a chocolate cookie with a hint of coffee flavour so a stout with both chocolate and coffee flavour could only enhance the cookie’s taste.  Like any ingredient, moderation is the trick.  My goal was to flavour the cookie with the stout and bring out the chocolate flavour – I wasn’t aiming for a beer-tasting cookie.  Therefore, I used only 1 1/2 tablespoons of stout as part of the liquid ingredients.

For the chocolate, I chose to use semi-sweet squares of chocolate because I find their flavour a bit more intense than powdered cocoa.  Using some brewed coffee gives these cookies a distinct mocha flavour.  For interest, color, and texture, I used swirled milk and white chocolate chips.

This dough does well when it is chilled and allowed to “rest” for 24 hours after mixing and before baking the cookies.  The purpose of letting the dough “rest” is to allow the liquid ingredients, including the egg, to get fully incorporated and absorbed into the other ingredients.  The “resting” period makes for a drier and firmer cookie dough and this controls its spread while baking so you don’t end up with a really flat cookie.

The chilled dough, though, will be really hard making it next to impossible to use a cookie scoop (I know as I have already gone through two of them!) to form the cookies into shapes for baking.  Cookie scoops are great to make uniform-sized and shaped cookies; however, dropping the cookies by teaspoons on to the baking sheet also works well.

I like the drop cookies to be soft and somewhat chewy and, of course, the key to that texture is to slightly underbake the cookies – bake these no more than 10-12 minutes at 350F and let them cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Double Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp. cold brewed coffee
1 1/2 tbsp stout
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 squares of semi-sweet chocolate, melted
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Cream butter and shortening.

Add brown and white sugars.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat until blended.

 In separate bowl, or large measuring cup, mix coffee, stout, milk, and vanilla.  Stir to combine.  Add to mixture.  Mix well.

Add melted chocolate and mix to blend.

Combine dry ingredients.  Add to mixture and stir just until flour is incorporated.

 

Stir in chocolate chips.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for 24 hours.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies.  Bake at 350F oven for 10-12 minutes.  Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

 

 

 

 

 

These make a fine treat for St. Patrick’s Day (but are just as good any time of the year!)

My Island Bistro Kitchen's Double Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies

These Double Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies are both tasty and showy. Flavoured with a wee bit of stout. A treat anytime but especially good for a St. Patrick's Day treat!
Course Snack
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/4 cup shortening softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. cold brewed coffee
  • 1 1/2 tbsp stout
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 squares of semi-sweet chocolate melted
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Assemble ingredients.
  2. Cream butter and shortening.
  3. Add brown and white sugars. Beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat until blended.
  4. In separate bowl, or large measuring cup, mix coffee, stout, milk, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Add to mixture. Mix well.
  5. Add melted chocolate and mix to blend.
  6. Combine dry ingredients. Add to mixture and stir just until flour is incorporated.
  7. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for 24 hours.
  8. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies. Bake at 350F oven for 10-12 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

 

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Double Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies
Double Chocolate Chip Drop Cookies

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February 2013 Cookie of the Month – Sugar Cookies

Sugar Cookies
Sugar Cookies

My choice of Cookie of the Month for February 2013 is the old-fashioned sugar cookie.  These are one of the plainest cookies yet they have endured throughout time and are often counted amongst the favorites in many families.  These cookies are aptly named given the amount of sugar in them in proportion to the amounts of other ingredients.  Despite the amount of sugar in most sugar cookie recipes, they are not really an overly sweet or rich cookie. 

Growing up on PEI, sugar and molasses cookies were a standard staple in many Island homes.  My grandmothers always had them on hand yet their cookies varied significantly because, of course, they used different recipes and probably some different ingredients or proportions.  One grandmother always made round cookies while the other always cut her cookies into squares.  One made soft cookies while the other made cookies that were quite hard.

I remember visiting one grandmother and, as soon as I’d get in the door, I’d always ask for cookies to which the response was ‘you don’t have to ask, just go and help yourself’.  I’d trot into her pantry and there were always two large cookie tins on the counter – one for molasses cookies and the other for sugar cookies.  I’d return to the kitchen to find Gramma, with a big, happy smile on her face, having taken up her position in her Boston rocker beside the stove, waiting for me to occupy the companion rocker and have a visit.  I’d rock away munching on the cookies — a sugar in one hand and a molasses cookie in the other — and we’d chat about this and that and nothing in particular.  I think it made her day to have me pop in for a visit and to see little fingers fishing cookies out of the tins!  I never remember visiting that there weren’t cookies in those tins!  Gramma really was a cookie-type grandmother!  Great memories!

 

Sugar Cookies and Hot Cocoa
Sugar Cookies and Hot Cocoa

Both molasses and sugar cookies were considered wholesome and substantial cookies that didn’t take ingredients homemakers would not be likely to have in their pantries.  So, they were quite an economical cookie to make.  No matter the recipe, sugar cookies have common ingredients – some kind of fat (butter, shortening, or lard), sugar (white or brown or a combination), eggs, flour, leavening agent (baking soda, cream of tartar, and/or baking powder), vanilla, and often a small quantity of milk.  Sugar cookies can be rolled and cut into desired shapes or they can be drop cookies, depending on the recipe used.

The recipe I use is for rolled sugar cookies.  They are neither soft nor hard.  The  batter is quite dense.  These cookies hold their shape well.  I chill the dough for a couple of hours before rolling it out and then chill the cut cookies on the baking sheet for 10-15 minutes before baking them.  This helps to contain their shape and keep them from spreading.  I add just small amounts of two spices – cardamom and nutmeg —  not enough to change them from sugar to spice cookies but sufficient to give the flavour a bit of complexity for the taste buds.  I also add the seeds from one-half of a vanilla bean as well as 1 tsp pure vanilla.  I like the flavour from the vanilla bean seeds and I especially like the little black specks in the appearance of the cookie.  My recipe calls for butter but some will use half shortening and half butter.  Butter, of course, will make a richer cookie.

The key to baking cookies that will determine if they are soft or hard is the baking time.  For softer, more chewy cookies, remove them from the oven when they are ever-so-slightly undercooked.

So, on this blustery and stormy day when PEI is getting pummeled with a good old-fashioned “Nor-easter” snow storm, and the Island is virtually shut down, I introduce you to my old-fashioned sugar cookies.

 

Old-fashioned Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cardamom
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Method:

Preheat oven to 375F

Using the tip of a sharp knife, split open the vanilla bean lengthwise.  Using the edge of the knife blade , scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean.  Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and beat well.  Add milk, vanilla, and vanilla bean seeds.  Beat just until combined.

In separate bowl, combine and stir flour, cream of tartar, soda, salt, cardamon, and nutmeg.  Add to liquid ingredients and stir just until flour mixture is combined with liquid ingredients.

Chill dough for 1-2 hours.

On floured surface, gather dough together and roll out dough to a scant 1/4″ thickness.  Cut into desired shapes.

Decorate with raisins and/or sprinkle of sugar, if desired.

Place on parchment-lined baking sheets about 1 1/2″ apart.  Chill cookies in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.  Remove and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Immediately transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Makes about 3 dozen – 2 5/8″ cookies.  Yield will vary depending on size of cookie cutters used.

Store cookies in an airtight container and keep at room temperature or store in freezer.

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Sugar Cookies
Sugar Cookies

January 2013 Cookie of the Month – Shortbread

Today, I begin my new 2013 monthly series on my food blog.  Once a month, I will be posting a recipe and photographs of a favourite cookie. 

Shortbread "Petticoat Tails"
Shortbread “Petticoat Tails”

To start, I will share my recipe for shortbread.  There are so many recipes and versions of shortbread.  This perfectly plain, delicate cookie attributes its origin to Scotland so it is fitting that I should choose this cookie for my inaugural “Cookie of the Month” series given that today is Robert Burns Day.  Robbie Burns is often referred to as Scotland’s national poet and many of Scottish ancestry, including those on PEI, celebrate his birthday on January 25th.  It’s a time to bring out the tartan apparel and, at least on PEI, there are Scottish concerts and dinners in honour of the poet.

Sometimes called Scotch cookies, these sweets have always been a Christmas tradition in my family.  Cut into petite squares or decorative dainty shapes and finished with a small dob of icing and a smidgeon of a red cherry or a silver dragée, Scotch cookies have been found on many a sweet tray over the holidays for years.  I think they may have traditionally been associated with Christmas because they were considered a luxury treat with their butter and sugar content.  Today, I make them various times throughout the year in different shapes and sizes.  In fact, they are almost always a staple on hand in my freezer.

Shortbread is relatively easy to make and does not take a lot of ingredients or ones not likely to be found in most kitchens.  Recipe ingredients do vary, however.  You will find that, in addition to some kind of fat, sugar, and flour, some shortbread recipes call for the addition of cornstarch, confectioner’s or brown sugar, salt, egg yolk, and/or vanilla.  Other recipes call for a 50/50 mix of butter and shortening.  I have even seen some recipes list cream of tartar and/or baking soda as ingredients.  Shortbread purists, however, are likely to argue that, technically, there are only supposed to be three ingredients in traditional shortbread – 1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, and 3 parts flour and no leavening agent or other flavourings. 

My recipe does follow the 1-2-3 parts rule for sugar, butter, and flour.  For example, start with ½ cup of sugar, double it to determine how much butter is needed (1 cup) and double the amount of butter to arrive at how much flour is required (2 cups) and you essentially have a recipe for shortbread.  Everything about quality shortbread focuses on high quality ingredients so that you get that melt-in-your-mouth sensation with just one bite into a shortbread cookie.  I use pure creamery butter and, today, my featured Island product is Wiltshire butter produced in North Wiltshire, PEI.  For shortbread, I find it is important that the butter be at room temperature so it will cream easily.  Do not soften the butter in the microwave as it breaks it down too quickly and it becomes liquefied which may alter the texture of the dough.  My recipe calls for brown sugar so the cookies made from this recipe will be a little darker in color than if white sugar or confectioner’s sugar is used.  I do add an egg yolk because I find it helps to bind the ingredients together and gives the shortbread a nice texture.  I also add a pinch of salt and sometimes – but not always — some vanilla.  If using vanilla, make sure it is pure and not artificially flavoured.   

What determines the quality of a good shortbread is how “short” it is.  When you bite into a shortbread, the cookie should crumble easily and you should be able to taste the butter flavour as the cookie slowly melts in your mouth.  You won’t get that if you use a mixture of butter and shortening or all margarine, for example. 

I like the dough in this recipe – it holds together well, does not take a lot of kneading to incorporate all the ingredients and prepare it for rolling, rolls out without cracking or breaking apart, and almost has a satin-like feel to it.  Shortbread dough should only be minimally kneaded – just enough for it to stick together and allow it to be rolled out for cutting.  Some recipes indicate the dough should be chilled before rolling and the cookies, once cut into their shapes, should be put in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to set before baking so that they won’t spread out of shape during the baking process.  With the dough in my recipe, I don’t find chilling either the dough or the unbaked cookies is necessary because, with no leavening agent, they will not spread out of shape.  That factor makes shortbread the ideal choice when maintaining a consistent and uniform shape of cookies is important.  If, however, for some reason you find the dough is too soft to work with then, by all means, chill it for several minutes as this will not harm the product.  

I don’t like super-thick shortbread so I roll the dough to a scant ¼” thickness.  Of course, I always use parchment paper for cookie baking and the cookies should be baked in a slow (300F) oven so they don’t burn.  With the high butter content, baking them in a hot oven will run the risk of them burning or turning too dark in color.  Today, I have divided the dough, making part of the recipe into shortbread fingers using a traditional rectangular-shaped shortbread cookie cutter 1” wide by 3” long.  For the remainder of the dough, I rolled it into about a 7” circle and, using the tip of a sharp knife, scored the dough into 8 wedges.  Don’t cut all the way through; just score it lightly on the cookie top.  You can use the tines of a fork to press lightly the outside edge of the circle and also to prick the surface of the dough into a decorative pattern.  Once the shortbread is removed from the oven, immediately cut all the way through the score marks and separate the wedges which are often called “petticoat tails”.   

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Favourite Shortbread

1 cup butter (no substitutes)
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
2 cups flour
Pinch salt (optional)
 
Preheat oven to 300F.

Ingredients for Shortbread
Ingredients for Shortbread

In bowl of stand mixer, beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).  Add the sugar and beat until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla.  Beat until incorporated.  With mixer on slow speed, stir in the flour and salt just until mixed.

 

Turn dough onto lightly-floured surface.  Gently knead dough just until it holds together.  Do not over-knead.  Shape dough into a round mound.  Roll to approximately ¼” thickness.  Cut into desired shapes. 

 

Place cookies about 1” apart on parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cookies rest on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool.  Makes approximately 30 cookies (1” x 3” rectangles)

If desired, dough may be rolled into small 6” or 7” circles and scored with the tip of a sharp knife into wedges.  When cookies are removed from the oven, immediately cut through scored lines to separate the wedges.

Making Shortbread "Petticoat Tails"
Making Shortbread “Petticoat Tails”

 

These cookies will keep for about a week in an airtight container at room temperature.  They also freeze well.

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Shortbread
Shortbread

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve never met anyone – child or adult – who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies.  They are a perennial favourite and a staple in many cookie jars.  There are any number of recipes for these traditional cookies and I’ve tried a good many of them.  Some I’ve been satisfied with and some, well, not so much.  You see, I like a nice rich flavour in a soft chewy cookie, not the hard, crumby variety.

I am often asked if I have a recipe for a “soft” chocolate chip cookie.  Yes, I do….and so does every other baker out there – they just may not know they do.  Here’s the key:  It’s all in the baking time.  Slightly underbake the cookies and do not bake them any longer than the recipe directs.  Even if they don’t look completely done, take them out of the oven!  If the recipe says to bake the cookies 8-10 minutes (assuming your oven is accurate on temperature), look at them at the 8-minute point and, if they’re not too moist looking, remove them from the oven (it’s okay if they are somewhat moist looking on the top; if they are showing no moisture, then you are likely to end up with a hard, dry cookie).  At the very least, do not leave them a minute past the 10 minutes or whatever baking time the recipe directs.  Leave them on the baking sheet for just a couple of minutes after they come out of the oven – this will help them set.  Leaving them longer than that will cause them to continue to bake from the baking sheet’s heat and result in a hard, over-baked cookie.  Make sure you use a large enough thin, flat spatula to move the cookies from the baking sheet to a wire rack to allow them to cool completely.  This will ensure they don’t crack or break in the moving process from sheet to rack.  This is important because slightly underbaking the cookies means they are more fragile and susceptible to breakage.

I came across this recipe for these Chocolate Chip Cookies by happenstance through an internet search.  That search led me to this recipe that was published in the New York Times on July 9, 2008.   What I particularly liked about this recipe is that the measurements of ingredients are given both in cups as well as in ounces.  I actually prefer the ounce measurements because they are more accurate – when, for example, a recipe calls for a “packed” or “well-packed” cup of brown sugar, it’s difficult to know just exactly how much brown sugar to pack in that cup and what the fine-line difference is between “packed” and “well-packed”.  If the recipe indicates that 10 ounces of brown sugar is required, it’s a more exact measurement.  I also found the directions simple and easy to follow.

Measuring Flour

I also liked that the recipe specified which attachment to fit the mixer with (i.e., paddle versus wire whisk attachment).  The sign of a good recipe is one which gives full and adequate directions and I found this one did just that.

This was the first time I had ever made cookies using cake flour and bread flour and must admit that was an intriguing factor to trying this recipe – I wanted to see what texture of cookie these flours rendered.  I was not disappointed!

As with all recipes, the first time I use it, I try to follow the recipe exactly – both in ingredients and in directions.  Then, if I like it sufficiently well, I may (if I feel they are needed) make some modifications to the recipe the next time I make it.  However, I changed three things about this recipe the first time I made it:  1) the recipe called for a 3.5 oz mound of dough per cookie which made a 5-inch baked cookie.  This is way too large a cookie for my liking so I used 7/8 oz of dough which I found generated about a 2½-inch cookie (you wouldn’t think that only 7/8 oz of dough would yield a 2½-inch cookie based on the recipe calling for 3.5 oz for a 5-inch cookie but this is what mine turned out to be).  While I usually “eyeball” the amount of dough per cookie using a couple of teaspoons to drop the dough onto the cookie sheet, I did use my cookie scoop for this recipe because I wanted consistently-sized and similarly shaped cookies that would all bake at the same rate.  I weighed one of the scooped dough mounds and found that it weighed 7/8 oz.  I adjusted the baking time to account for the smaller cookie and baked the cookies for 11-12 minutes and let them cool on the baking sheet for just 2 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling;  2) I didn’t have bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves and I don’t actually care for bittersweet chocolate so I used 1¼ pounds of milk chocolate chips and they were just fine for my liking, although I think I could have done with a slightly lesser amount than what the recipe called for; and 3) the recipe called for sea salt to be sprinkled lightly on top of each cookie.  I omitted this because I try to cut back on salt wherever possible.

Making the Cookie Dough

A few tips I would offer for any cookie recipe, not just this one, would be these:

1)  Make sure the butter is at room temperature.  Don’t soften the butter in the microwave as at least part of it will likely liquefy and that will affect the lightness of the butter/sugar beaten mixture.

Cookies Ready for the Oven

2) If the recipe calls for a certain kind of flour (e.g., bread or cake), don’t substitute with all-purpose flour because they have different textures and consistencies and they do not measure out exactly the same, cup-for-cup; therefore, the resulting texture and consistency of the cookies will not be as the recipe intended.

3) Always use cool cookie sheets and don’t place the next batch onto a cookie sheet that has just come out of the oven.  Doing this will cause the cookies to start baking before they are in the oven and will likely result in a harder cookie because the bottom has already started to bake before the cookie dough reaches the oven.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Fresh From the Oven

 

 

 

This recipe is not suitable for someone who has an instant craving for homemade chocolate chip cookies because the dough must rest in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours (and up to 36).  I read several online reviews of this recipe and discovered that other bakers had tried the recipe both ways — by baking the cookies instantly as soon as the dough was mixed and by letting the dough rest for the full 24-hour chill period.  The consensus appeared to be that baking them without first chilling them meant the cookies simply were not as good.  A warning, though, the dough will be very hard and somewhat difficult to work with when it comes out of the fridge after its 24-hour rest period; therefore, you will need to use a bit of muscle to handle the dough and be sure to use a strong spoon or cookie scoop that will not bend or break (yes, this dough is very hard).  The purpose of letting the dough “rest” is to allow the liquid ingredients (in this case, eggs) to get fully incorporated and absorbed into the other ingredients and eggs tend to take longer to do this than, say, would water if that was the liquid in a recipe.  The “resting” period makes for a drier and firmer cookie dough and this controls its spread while baking so you don’t end up with a really flat cookie.

Cookies Cooling on the Racks

I thought I had found the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe a number of years ago but, I must say, this one gives it a run for the money and is now my new favourite!  The texture, taste, and appearance of these cookies make them a “10” in my books!  An informal testing this morning amongst my co-workers readily garnered the thumbs-up rating on these cookies.  You know they must be good when they were eaten at 8:00am since chocolate chip cookies are not a traditional breakfast food!

This is not a cheap recipe to make as it calls for unsalted butter, cake flour, bread flour, a substantial amount of both brown and granulated sugars, and 1¼ pounds of chocolate.  However, if you are looking for the consummate, decadent chocolate chip cookie, I think this one would fill that bill nicely!

Cookies and Tea