Wednesday, October 28, 2009

[Cookie 047] Surprise Cookies


Hallelujah my midterms are OVER! It might sound odd, but this was the first time in over a year that I've taken any form of an examination in college. But I guess that's what you get for being a studio art major and putting up with all the critiques and other art school forms of madness. Anyway, I had my first college test EVER in Logic--yeah, it's like that whole "if a=b, and b=c, then a=c" thing but harder, for the most part--and I studied my butt off and it actually felt kind of good. Nevermind how I actually faired with my results...the point is, I studied intensively with my friends and still made time to produce some midterm-worthy study snacks.


Okay, every day it's becoming more and more apparent that my life is this:

And I think I'm okay with that. The more I think of it, the more I realize that I really just want to open up a bakery/coffee shop/place that also sells things that I (hypothetically) make. It's times like when I make these Surprise Cookies that I think to myself: Hey, someone might buy something like this, and if you wrap it up all purdy and cutesy, maybe you could even make a little bit of profit! According to my now logically-honed mind, that sounds pretty logical, right? Cookies = delicious, delicious = buy me some, cookies = buy me some? Eh...perhaps.


Anyway, I'm sure you are here for the cookie recipe, not my musings on my uncertain future, so I'll cut to the chase. These are wild-wild (I think they say that in Texas, right Emily?). An intense chocolate cookie is one thing, and a toasted marshmallow is another, but when they collide and are fused together by a chocolate frosting, that's when you need to go out and buy another 6 gallons of milk.

When dark dark chocolate collides with white white sugar...

There was a point, however, when I thought that maybe the frosting made the cookies too intense to eat. Now, I rarely come to that conclusion, in part because I pride myself on my ability to eat nearly any type of cookie, and in part because I am of the belief that chocolate can do no wrong in any amount. But the frosting is quite sugary when first spooned on top of the marshmallow, and my friends and I weren't really diggin' it. But, loyal to the ways of The Book, I faithfully frosted the cookies, and I'm glad I did. After the frosting is 100% set, the cookie is not as sweet and they are far more edible and enjoyable. So if you can hold off for a short while, I advise doing so. You could always run to the supermarket and buy all that milk you'll need.


In conclusion, these cookies are delicious. And really fun to make. And really fun to eat. And really fun to whip up instead of studying about universal quantifiers. So if you are either 1) looking for a great cookie to make with/for kids, 2) looking for a great cookie to make for yourself, 3) looking for a great way to procrastinate on studying for midterms, or 4) hungry, you should make these! Soft, decadent, and adorable. I think I've logically proven my argument, no? No need to construct a truth-table or assign variables to schema--I know I'm right.


Surprise Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 12 large marshmallows, cut in half horizontally
  • For Frosting (makes 1 cup):
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add reserved flour mixture; mix on low speed until combined.
  3. Using a tablespoon or 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto ungreased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies begin to spread and become firm, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Remove baking sheets from oven, and place a marshmallow, cut-side down, in the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Return to oven, and continue baking until marshmallows begins to melt, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  5. Spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting over each marshmallow, starting in the center and continuing outward until marshmallow is covered.
  6. To Make Frosting: Place confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in butter and cocoa powder. Add milk and vanilla, and whisk until well combined.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 3/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 2.5/5
Tastiness: 4/5 (I might not be the most child-friendly person, but I'm sure that these would be an especially big hit with the 12 and unders)
Attractiveness: 4.5/5 (Seriously, look at them. Precious)
Is it worth it?: Yes. And slicing the marshmallows and pressing them into the half-baked cookies is quite fun too.

Drink: Remember the 6 gallons of milk I had you buy?
Song: Sweet Head -- David Bowie
Activity: Curlin up by the fire.


P.S. I'm starting to think that my blog is getting a little stale. I'd love to hear you thoughts/ideas of things I could do to spice it up!
P.P.S. I'm entering my dorms Halloween Cookie Contest--wish me luck!
P.P.P.S. [Cookie 050] is approaching...get ready!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

[Cookie 046] Chewy Molasses Crinkles


Sorry about the absence again, I'm a total flake. Well, actually, I left my USB cable at my friend's house so all of my cookie photos were locked in captivity on my camera. Excuses excuses, I know. Good news is I have a lot to post now, so get ready for me to flood your RSS feeders!


So anyway, a week or so ago it got pretty chilly here in New York--as in, down to the mid-40s during the day. I got very excited at the notion of being able to bake spicey, wintery cookies; the ones that while in the oven make your kitchen smell totally divine and cozy. I don't know if it's just me, but I never want to bake that kind of cookie in the heat of the summer. Usually, I reserve the fruity cookies for the summer, and save all the spice-laden ones for the dead of winter, but maybe that's just because that's what all the recipe books tell you to do. Whatever, enough analyzing. So I jumped right in with this recipe for Chewy Molasses Crinkles, is what I'm trying to say. Bought me some Molasses and got to work.


And I was very happy with the end results. The recipe is dead easy and makes an amazing cookie dough to pick at. I made the terrible mistake of leaving the dough to refrigerate for an entire day, and though this made no effect on the outcome of the cookies, I had substantially less dough than when I had put it in the refrigerator to begin with. Meaning: I have sneaking, savage roommates that have to have their fingers in every pie/cookie dough.


Fortunately, the recipe makes a completely massive amount of cookie dough, so you can either make monster sized cookies (who doesn't love that?) or you can make a million medium sized ones (also excellent) or you can eat a bunch of the dough (even better, but could leave you feeling nauseous). I chose options 2 and 3.


One qualm: They weren't very chewy. Well, if you underbake them, which I did, and eat them within the hour after pulling them out of the oven, they are chewy. But by the next day, they are 100% crunchy. I'm sure you can remedy this, but my roommates and I end up eating cookies so fast that preservation is a total joke.

So, to kick off the cooler months ahead (I am so ready to bust out my ugly Chewbacca winter coat), make these cookies. But if it's still warm where you are, they would make a totally delicious ice-cream sandwich if you put a scoop of vanilla or even ginger ice cream in between two. Now, go!


Chewy Molasses Crinkles
Makes about 2 dozen (but I got about twice that much...)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup for rolling
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon course salt

  1. Put butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 c granulated sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by the molasses and oil.
  2. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt. Cover dough with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 F. Put remaining 1/4 c granulated sugar in a bowl. Using a 1 3/4 inch ice cream scoop, form balls of dough. Roll balls in sugar to coat, and space 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are flat and centers are set, about 17 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature up to 5 days.

{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 1/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 3.5/5
Tastiness: 3.5/5 (A tad boring to be honest...)
Attractiveness: 3.5/5
Is it worth it?: If you want a molasses cookie, you'll get exactly what you're looking for.

Drink: Apple cider, maybe? Ginger tea? Milk? Milk Tea? Ginger apple cider milk tea? (That's sounds gross, I apologize...)
Song: Winter is Blue -- Vashti Bunyan
Activity: Something cozy...baking these while wearing your favorite wooly knitted socks?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

[Cookie 045] Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies


Hello, are you new to the kitchen? First time baking? First time cooking altogether? No, probably not...but in case you've grown a bit rusty on your gastronomical tools, check out this little bit of video art:

Yeah, now you know. Ladles are used to fling hot soup at your enemies. Duh. And knives are used to stab. Double duh. These are the basics, people. Another basic: the best cookie dough to eat raw is that of the Chocolate Chip variety. Really.


Now I know there are many, many, many delicious kinds of cookie dough to eat raw (dare I say that most cookie dough is delicious), but let me ask you this: why does only one type of cookie dough get its own flavor of ice cream? Because it's the best. You don't hear of Snickerdoodle Dough Ice Cream (though that sounds absolutely delicious, come to think of it). It's just common knowledge that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is the king of cookie doughs. And thus, I bring you Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies--a kick ass dough that makes a classic cookie.


So we've unanimously come to the conclusion that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is the best cookie dough out there, and though the dough in most Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes tastes the same prior to baking, the resultant baked cookie can vary wildly. You've got your thin and crispies, your fat and chunkies, your round and doughies, and of course, your Soft and Chewies like these here. Generally, when I ask my friends what texture of cookie they like most, they tend to veer toward the Soft and Chewies anyway, so I had a feeling that this recipe would be a winner.


And it is. It's just right. Perfect, especially when eaten minutes after they've come out of the oven, alongside a nice glass of cold milk. There's a reason that this cookie is such a go-to cookie, and this recipe pretty much explains why. So, what I'm trying to get at is that you should bust open that bag of chocolate chips sitting in your freezer and make these right now. You won't regret it...and if you do, just mail me the leftovers.


But let's talk shelf-life, shall we? Yes, the cookie is fantastic straight out of the oven, hot and gooey and fresh, but unless you freeze the dough in order to bake it spur-of-the-moment, the cookies don't always stay this way. But don't worry, it's easily remedied with the microwave. Just pop a cookie in, put the timer on for a little bit, and pour yourself a glass of milk. Voila--almost as good as new, or at least as close as you'll get.


And one more thing--the recipe is dead easy (obviously) but if you have a cookie scoop, be careful careful careful. The chocolate chips screwed mine up a little bit because they got jammed behind the scooping arc thingy, and now it's kinda out of service. I'm sad. But at least my cookies came out round and nice, right? Whatever, enough chitchat. Get into the kitchen, stat!


Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (about 12 ounces) semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  2. Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.


{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 1/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 4.5/5 (As basic as you can get)
Tastiness: 4/5
Attractiveness: 3.5/5
Is it worth it?: Yes. Why wait, bake today!

Drink: Milk, duh! You stupid or sumthin'?!
Song: Daily Routine -- Animal Collective
Activity: So, you take the cookie and dip it in your milk, but hold it in there too long and then OH NO it breaks off and falls down into the bottom of your cup and then WHAT EVER DO YOU DO? You drink all the milk and then, hurray! Soggy delicious cookie waiting for you at the bottom. That's an activity, right?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

[Cookie 044] Peanut-Butter Swirl Brownies


I did it again. I fell off the blogging bandwagon, so to speak. I've also being saying "so to speak" a lot, but that's an entirely different, unimportant matter. You'll have to forgive me if I sound a little silly in this post, or if I say "so to speak" a lot, or misspell words, or go onto too many tangents, or write insanely long run-on sentences like this one. You see, I had a truly college-dorm-life night last night. No, this does not mean that I went to a toga party, or that I drank my body-weight in hard liquor, or that I stayed up studying for midterms all night, or any combination of these collegey things. Instead, I went to bed at my usual time, but woke up at 5 am to the sound of the fire alarm blaring and my bedroom being flashed with a strobe light.

Ah college.

So every kid living in my building had to get up and out of bed, file down the stair case in our pajamas, and stand outside in the drizzling rain while the fire trucks flashed their lights at us. Not amused, no I was not. And I was in the middle of the dream, no less! So when the alarm went off, in my dream some random lady was explaining how it was a "Filipino Fire Drill!!!!" My other friend woke up thinking "Celery! Celery! Celery!" to the rhythm of the alarm.


That's not cool. If anything it should be "Cookies! Cookies! Cookies" or something of that ilk. But it probably wouldn't ever have been "Peanut-Butter Swirl Brownies! Peanut Butter Brownies! Peanut Butter Brownies!" because they were pretty forgettable (side note: did you like my nice little segue from anecdote to recipe? My sleep deprived mind is getting creative on me...)


So yes. These brownies. They sounded and looked good enough to eat--but sadly weren't that great. That's the second brownie recipe in a row that didn't quite work out as I had hoped, but this time I'm not sure if it's the recipe's fault or my own/my oven. To cut to the chase, they came out super dry and dense. Seriously, when I cut into the brownies and removed the first piece, it came out like a cleanly cut little brick. No gooey edges, no flaky top, nada.


Was it the fact that my oven is off by 100ยบ? I doubt it, because I use an oven thermometer and set the temperature within 5 degrees or so. Maybe it was the recipe, who knows. The point is, we added some vanilla soy milk on top, and voila! Brownies a la mode...kind of. I dunno, I was a little disappointed.

This picture is so awful, but it really cracks me up for some reason...

However, there was one nice benefit! The peanut butter mixture that you put in the brownie batter is totally delicious (in a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup way) and the recipe left me with a bunch leftover. I stuck it in some tupperware and put it in the fridge, where it solidified and proved to be a delicious addition to bananas, pretzels, and the like.

So, yeah, not the best thing I've made from The Book by far, but it was fun to make the swirls in the batter. Give the recipe a go if you're feeling like toying with it a bit--I'm sure when it's made right, they are super delicious.


Peanut-Butter Swirl Brownies
Makes 9 large or 16 small squares

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
  • 2 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line with parchment, allowing a 2-inch overhang. Butter lining (not overhang).
  2. Make batter: Put butter and chocolates in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until melted. Let cool slightly. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  3. Whisk granulated sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, and whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture; stir until well incorporated.
  4. Make filling: Stir together butter, confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.
  5. Pour one-third of batter into prepared pan; spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Drop dollops of peanut butter filling (about 1 tablespoon each) on top of batter, spacing about 1 inch apart. Drizzle remaining batter on top, and gently spread to fill pan. Drop dollops of remaining filling on top. Gently swirl peanut butter filling into batter with a butter knife, running the knife lengthwise and crosswise through layers.
  6. Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes. Lift out; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.


{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 3/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 4/5 (Pretty basic stuff)
Tastiness: 2/5
Attractiveness: 3/5 (The swirls got a little funky and bubbly, but they have potential for being really pretty)
Is it worth it?: Well, if they're always going to come out like mine, I'd say no...but I've got a feeling that if they aren't so dry, they will be really really worth it!

Drink: Vanilla Soy Milk (if you're into that)
Song: Dryspell -- Aesop Rock
Activity: Uh...