Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Favorite Cookie [001-010] : The Results are in!

Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies

Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies are the winner!

Granted, I only polled 5 (6 if you include me) faithful cookie-eaters, but 3 out of the 6 voted for these babies! Why? Because of the "great texture," "good combination of flavors," and just how different they were. Yes, I agree, out of the 10 cookies I have made thus far, these were my favorite by far. Here's a (very tiny) reminder of the other 9 contenders:

PfeffernussenButtery Pecan RoundsDouble Chocolate Brownies
Orange Cardamom MadeleinesPine Nut CookiesSnickerdoodles
Banana Walnut Chocolate-Chunk CookiesRaspberry-Almond BlondiesButter "Twists"

Yes, there were some other really good ones too, let us not forget. Remember the Snickerdoodles? Or those Double Chocolate Brownies? Yeah, good times.

Other friends voted for the Raspberry-Almond Blondies (because they were "light, fruity, good, and different"), the Pfeffernussen (because they were "very unique" albeit "a lil' messy"), and one person even voted for the Butter Twists (she likes the "saltiness and the plainness" and personally, she's a fan of dry cookies and all their glorious "simplicity"...but she's also crazy, that one).

Chocolate Ginger Cookies, Ready

So what about you? Have you made any of the ones I have? What did you think?

Or perhaps you've made others in the book, and you've got a different favorite? I'd love to hear...because I've gotta pick another cookie for next week!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

[Cookie 010] Butter Twists

Butter Buttons

So, in my efforts to catch up on my cookie-a-week thing, I decided to make these super easy, minimal ingredient Butter Twists. "Awesome--I have all the ingredients on hand! These will be easy and adorable and fast. Perfect activity for procrastinating on all my finals!" Wrong. Well, the procrastination part was right, but everything else failed. Okay, they can't all be winners Martha, but I sort of question why you included these in the book. Maybe I'm being a little extreme, but honestly, these just don't hold a candle to most of your other recipes.

Crumbly Dough

Here's the deal. In the picture next to the recipe, you show these darling little puffed-up twists, smooth and beautifully formed; very Martha-esque. Yes, I know it's your thing to make everything look perfect and precise, but I honestly do not understand how anyone is supposed to manage forming the dough into those twists! To be fair, maybe I put the wrong amount of something into the dough (too much flour?) but I highly doubt it. The dough was really dry and crumbly, so rolling it into balls and then into ropes for twisting was impossible without the dough breaking and cracking all over the place.

Butter Twist Won't Twist!

Case and point. Look at that "rope." Awful. And the end result? Well, I only managed to form 1 "twist," the rest I made into little spirals for the first batch...

Butter Twist Fail

Do you see the "correct" version? Martha, please!

Truly, after the first batch came out of the oven, I was sad. And the flavor is pretty boring too, just a plain butter cookie. Anyways, while they were baking, I had the genius idea to keep the dough in the refrigerator, even though the dough was already dry and crumbly! I should have left it out so it could soften, but no, I was an idiot. Result? Even more aggravation! I ended up just forming (or attempting to) little balls, or buttons as I like to call them. Butter buttons sounds cute, even though they actually aren't! Oh, and to spice things up, I tried to make them thumbprint cookies with chocolate chips, but thumbprinting the dough basically caused the balls to explode. Great.

Bust Out the Chips
Butter Button
One of my best cookies, sadly

Yeah, so in short, these were a disappointment. I think that maybe next time I could try wetting my hands when rolling the dough, but even if the cookies are formed as flawlessly as the ones Martha made, the flavor is nothing memorable. I suppose they make a good foundation cookie for one to add other ingredients to, like chocolate chips, sanding sugar, icing, whatever, but I dunno. Not really my thing, personally.

Another glamour shot of my homely cookies:

Butter "Twists"

Butter Twists

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter , softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until creamy. Mix in vanilla and egg white. Reduce speed to low. Add salt and flour; mix until combined.
  2. Roll dough into 3/4-inch balls. Roll each ball into a 6-inch log. Bend log in half, then twist. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. Bake, rotating halfway through, until cookies just begin to turn golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on parchment on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 3/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 5/5
Tastiness: 2/5
Attractiveness: 0/5 (Ooh, my first zero!)
Is it worth it?: I don't think so, but they aren't gross; just boring and ugly.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

[Cookie 009] Raspberry-Almond Blondies

Raspberry-Almond Blondies [pre-bake]


So, I kinda slacked and didn't make cookies two weeks ago, so now I'm a recipe behind schedule! This is highly distressing to me, because I like it when things stay on track and are neat and tidy and all that OCD stuff, but I have to face the facts. I was lazy, but as a result, there will be twice as many cookies next week! Good all around!

Almonds, Raspberries

So this week I made Raspberry-Almond Blondies, because Saturday it was 78 degrees and I just had to do something to get excited about the summery weather. Raspberries it was! I even got a great deal on them from a fruit stand, but I don't know how good the raspberries were because some were a little too mushy...whatever! Everyone who ate the blondies is still alive, so that's good news.


The recipe itself was another no-brainer, super simple recipe, and yielded tasty results. The only pain is the fact that the blondies bake for a full hour, but it's worth it! I was surprised that that was how long they were supposed to bake for, but it's true, and it really did take that long. Additionally, the recipe calls for you to first grease the baking dish, then cover it in parchment, and then grease the parchment! I thought that was a little absurd, so I just greased up my Pyrex baking dish and that sufficed perfectly!

Batter for Raspberry-Almond BlondiesThe Batter, Not Batter-like

Now, the batter was somewhat of an enigma, considering that the recipe says that you will "pour" the batter into the baking dish, like you do with brownies, but this batter is more the consistency of cookie dough or cake batter. But I just smoothed it out and everything was just swell.

Measuring Raspberries

Salt and Sugar

In the end, the blondies were really tasty and even prettier to look at. The raspberry-almond combination is really nice, especially because the raspberries are tart and soft and the almonds are nutty and crunchy, so they contrast eachother really nicely. The flavor of the actual blondie batter is good, but nothing exciting and different, and personally I thought could have used a little oomph, but it's nothing to shake at stick at, to be sure.

Raspberry-Almond Blondies

Raspberry-Almond Blondies
Makes about 12 squares

  • 9 tablespoons (1 1/8 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, (3 ounces), toasted
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a buttered 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides. Butter lining (excluding overhang); set pan aside. (I just buttered the pan, and disregarded the lining--worked fine!)
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside.
  3. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; cream on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined. Add flour mixture, and beat on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl, until well incorporated. Mix 3/4 cup almonds into batter.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan; spread with a rubber spatula. Scatter berries and remaining 1/4 cup nuts over batter in pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into blondies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, 55 to 60 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar before cutting into squares.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 2/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 4/5
Tastiness: 3/5
Attractiveness: 5/5 (Purty!)
Is it worth it?: Yep, especially for a summer bbq or tea party!

Friday, April 3, 2009

[Cookie 008] Banana Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

Banana Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies

Well hello there. Look at what I made this week! Banana Walnut Chocolate-Chunk (with oats too!) cookies, thanks to the recommendations of a couple of readers. These cookies are really tasty, really robust, and I'm sure would be the perfect cookie to mail to someone because not only do they hold up well, but I think that the banana flavour increases with time (not too much time, mind you; moldy month-old cookies probably aren't a good idea).

Cadbury Cadbury Cadbury
Cadbury Semi-Sweet ChocolateToastin Walnuts

Now, as I might have alluded to in previous posts, being a college student strapped for cash, I tend to have to cut corners where I can--sometimes this works out just fine, but other times it definitely doesn't. In this case, I was torn between buying Lindt dark chocolate bars, or the Cadbury ones which were about half the price. Uh, yeah, you can guess which one I chose. To me, the difference was noticeable, but it's not like the cookies tasted BAD, so in my book, it's a-ok. Not ideal, but more than passable.

Ready to Mix!

Banana Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Batter

In addition, I got my bananas from the dining hall in my dorm, and left them in a bag for a day to ripen up a bit. They weren't as ripe as I would have liked, but you can definitely taste them, so I would consider that a (rather) frugal success.

Banana Walnut Chocolate-Chunk CookiesPerfectly Golden!

What I really love about these cookies is how much stuff is in them! It's like every cookie you ever imagine put together (but minus the raisins). You got bananas, walnuts, chocolate, oats...so hearty! And toasting the walnuts is really crucial because when you do, the walnutty taste really stands out. The one complaint I have with the recipe was that there was a little too much salt. Usually, I am totally gung-ho about salt in cookies, but I use this super coarse stuff which is really really noticeable, and in my opinion, a whole teaspoon was just a bit too much. Next time I would cut it down to 3/4 or 1/2--key words being "next time," as I would definitely make these again!

Banana Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen


Makes about 3 dozen

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (about 2 ounces), toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks, and walnuts.
  2. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 12 to 13 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 2 days.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 1/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 4/5
Tastiness: 4/5
Attractiveness: 2/5 (Not a "pretty" cookie--but what you see is what you get!)
Is it worth it?: Absolutely. Definite crowd-pleasers!