Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Cookie-Palooza!

Snowman, cookies, decorated trees, cookies, wreaths, cookies, reindeer and have a mentioned cookies? Unlike cooking a mouthwatering roast or hearty Bolognese baking is an exact science. My 10th grade chemistry grade haunts me as a reminder to ‘leave it to the pro’s' but this holiday season I was determined to have a Christmas Cookie Success Story. I turned to Cooksillustrated.com to guide me and after 12 dozen cookies people are still asking for more. So, Ha! Take that Mr. I’ll-see-you-in-summer-school-10th-grade-Chemistry-teacher!


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Published September 1, 1999, Cook's Illustrated

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.
If you like bursts of warm melted chocolate in your cookies, include chocolate chips in the batter. The addition of chips will slightly increase yield of cookies. To melt the chocolate in a microwave, heat at 50 percent power for 2 minutes, stir, then continue heating at 50 percent power for 1 more minute. If not completely melted, heat an additional 30 to 45 seconds at 50 percent power. We recommend using a spring-loaded ice cream scoop to scoop the dough. Resist the urge to bake the cookies longer than indicated; they may appear underbaked at first but will firm up as they cool.

INGREDIENTS
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
½ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (i.e. 1 bag of cups chocolate chips)
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 ¼ sticks), softened
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar (10 ½ ounces)
½ cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Melt chocolate in medium heatproof bowl set over pan of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth; remove from heat. Beat eggs and vanilla lightly with fork, sprinkle coffee powder over to dissolve, and set aside.

3. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in sugars until combined, about 45 seconds; mixture will look granular. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add melted chocolate and chips in steady stream and beat until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. With mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overbeat. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until consistency is scoopable and fudgelike, about 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Leaving about 1 ½ inches between each ball, scoop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets with 1¾-inch ice cream scoop.

5. Bake, reversing position of the baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until edges of cookies have just begun to set but centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets about 10 minutes, slide parchment with cookies onto wire racks, and cool to room temperature. Cover one baking sheet with new piece of parchment paper. Scoop remaining dough onto parchment-lined sheet, bake, and cool as directed. Remove cooled cookies from parchment with wide metal spatula and serve.


Published January 1, 2002, Cook's Illustrated
Makes about 22 cookies.
Measure the molasses in a liquid measuring cup. If you find that the dough sticks to your palms as you shape the balls, moisten your hands occasionally in a bowl filled with cold water and shake off the excess. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time. If baked two sheets at a time, the cookies started on the bottom rack won’t develop the attractive cracks. The cookies should look slightly raw and underbaked when removed from the oven. If you plan to glaze the cookies (see recipe below), save the parchment paper used to bake them.
1/3 cup granulated sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces), plus 1/2 cup for dipping
2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (11 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup molasses (about 6 ounces), light or dark


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup sugar for dipping in 8- or 9-inch cake pan.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.
3. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and add yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Reduce speed to medium-low and add molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to lowest setting; add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl down once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. Dough will be soft.
4. Using tablespoon measure, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll between palms into 1 1/2-inch ball; drop ball into cake pan with sugar and repeat to form about 4 balls. Toss balls in sugar to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake.
5. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack; cool cookies to room temperature and serve. (Can be stored at room temperature in airtight container or zipper-lock plastic bag up to 5 days.)






Published November 1, 2002, Cook's Illustrated
Makes 2 dozen cookies.
The cookies are softer and more tender when made with unbleached flour that has a protein content of about 10.5 percent. Pillsbury or Gold Medal works best; King Arthur flour has a higher protein content (around 11.7 percent) and will result in slightly drier, cakier cookies. Do not discard the butter wrappers; they have just enough residual butter on them for buttering the bottom of the drinking glass used to flatten the dough balls. To make sure the cookies are flat, choose a glass with a smooth, flat bottom. Rolled into balls, the dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 week. The baked cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), preferably Pillsbury or Gold Medal
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened but still firm (60 to 65 degrees)

1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)

½ cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces), for rolling dough

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions; heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

2. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment or with hand mixer, beat butter, 1 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add egg and vanilla; beat at medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.

3. Place sugar for rolling in shallow bowl. Fill medium bowl halfway with cold tap water. Dip hands in water and shake off excess (this will prevent dough from sticking to your hands and ensure that sugar sticks to dough). Roll heaping tablespoon dough into 1 1/2-inch ball between moistened palms; roll ball in sugar, then place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, moistening hands after forming each ball and spacing balls about 2 inches apart on baking sheet (you should be able to fit 12 cookies on each sheet). Using butter wrapper, butter bottom of drinking glass; dip bottom of glass in remaining sugar and flatten dough balls with bottom of glass until dough is about 3/4 inch thick.

4. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges and just set and very lightly colored in center, 15 to 18 minutes, reversing position of cookie sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking time. Cool cookies on baking sheet about 3 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.