Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A good idea

Sometimes it is so hard to listen to your mother.  I like to do things one way, and it is so difficult to heed advice that counters my set way of doing things.  My mom has been trying to get me to freeze my cookie dough for quite a while now.  She says that if you roll it onto parchment paper in small quantities, then you can thaw and cook just one tray at a time.  This ensures that you are always eating fresh cookies.  Plus if you are going to have guests, you can easily whip up a fresh batch. 

I put off following her advice for the longest time because I liked my system of making the whole batch of cookies, putting just a few in my cookie jar and then freezing the rest.  When I empty the cookie jar, I put a few more in there.  The last few times I have done this, I was unsatisfied with the result.  The frozen cookies seemed just a little bit stale, and if I take them directly out of the freezer and heat them up in the microwave, they cook unevenly and sometimes even burn in the middle.

So I'm trying it my mother's way.  It works particularly well with Sugar cookies, because they are so versatile.  If I want to roll them out and cut them with cookie cutters, I can do that easily with just one batch of cookies.  So there you go, mom.  As usual, I am doing it your way in the end.

Sugar Cookie Dough prepared for freezing
(I didn't have any parchment paper, but I figured tin foil would work just as well)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sugar Cookies

Minnesotans call these "Snickerdoodles", which I think is a really silly name for a cookie.  When I was growing up, we called them "Sugar Cookies", thus ruining all other sugar cookies for me.  These are so much better than the thin, crispy things you get from the bakery, shaped according to the holiday du jour and topped with some sort of sugary confection.  They are thick, moist, and cinnamony.  They are small enough so that you can pop in a few of them without feeling guilty about it.  They are the best sugar cookies ever (if you don't mind calling them sugar cookies in the first place).

Sugar Cookies
From A World of Baking, by Dolores Casella (out of print)

1 cup butter
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla

2 tbs sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

(In my own words) Preheat oven to 350.  Mix butter and sugar until smooth.  Add eggs and milk.  In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture.  Lastly add the vanilla.  If it seems too dry, add a little more milk.  The mixture should roll easily into stiff balls. 

Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Roll the dough into 1 inch balls.  Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar.  Place on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Fond Farewell

I am not ashamed to say that I am thoroughly addicted to chocolate.  I require at least one serving per day, usually in the form of hot chocolate in the mid afternoon.  I often crave it again shortly after dinner, and I love to indulge again after the kids go to bed. 

But this is it.  Today is Mardi Gras and tomorrow I'm giving up chocolate for 40 days.  I began celebrating Mardi Gras a little early this year.  I was craving chocolate cake over the weekend, so I went to Byerly's (our local upscale grocery store) to get a piece.  To my dismay, they didn't have any slices of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting (what's the point if it doesn't have chocolate frosting?)  They did, however, have a ten inch chocolate cake with chocolate frosting....a whole cake?  Isn't that a little much?  My husband had a friend over, and I figured I could share it with my kids until Tuesday. 

It worked out pretty well, and I had the last piece this evening.  Rich and sweet and chocolatey.  The perfect send-off for my metaphorical journey into the dessert.  If only Jesus had it this easy.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chocolate is a need

I had friends come over on Saturday, so I used it as an excuse to make some brownies.  These are blonde brownies with a thick chocolate frosting.

Chocolate Chunk Butter Walnut Bars
(Adapted from a recipe from Hersey's Chocolate Lover's Cookbook)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped or purreed walnuts
2 cups Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks
1/2 to 1 cup coarsley chopped walnuts

1.  Heat oven to 350.  Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.  In large mixer bowl, stir together butter, brown sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla; blend in flour and salt.  Add purreed walnuts.  Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.

2.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

3.  Remove from oven; immediately sprinkle chocolate chunks on crust.  Let stand until softened, about 5 minutes; spread evenly over crust.  Sprinkle walnuts over top.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Cut into bars.  About 36 bars.

I was unprepared for how delicious these brownies would be.  The layer of chocolate on the top was totally decadent, and the hint of walnuts in the crust really enhanced to chocolate experience.  They are like chocolate chip cookies, only better.  We only ate about a third of the pan with my friends on Saturday, so my kids and I have been enjoying them all week.  But sadly they are gone, now.  It's probably for the best; they were so rich.