snickerdoodle dandy

Hello, my poppets.  I promised baking in the mental upkeep department, so here you go. Today’s output: snickerdoodles.  Which I have to say I am fond of even more especially for their name.  It’s fun to say and I am easily amused.

I’ve tried a few recipes and not been won over.  Then I discovered in my very own cookbook library TWO recipes, both from Rosie’s Delicious and Decadent Dessert Book.  I have two of her books, and not had a bad thing baked from either of them.  Thoroughly recommend.  I must admit that when I went to start mixing today, I could not for the LIFE of me remember which of the two recipes I’d made before!  They are next to each in the book so I opted for the one with more stuff splattered on the page.  It does differ slightly from the other, more traditional recipe because that one calls for cream of tartar and this one uses baking powder.  I guess now I’ll have to try that next to make sure which is better.

It’s a pretty straight-forward recipe, handy for when the cookie urge strikes since odds are you probably already have what you need on hand.  Now, my brilliant flash of inspiration for these did not turn out as expected.  As you may recall, snickerdoodles are coated in cinnamon-sugary goodness. My grand plan was to use my good Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon in place of the Costco kind.  Penzey’s sells all manner of spectacular spices and herbs, and just recently opened a STORE in downtown Seattle!  Used to be I had to mail order this stuff.

good stuff

Anyhoo.  I mixed the good cinnamon in the sugar, rolled the cookies, baked and…well, I think it was just too intense.  It ended up being kinda burned.  Sad face.  Grand plan fail.  So  for the next batch, back to the garden variety cinnamon and sugar.  Probably coulda used a higher cinnamon to sugar ratio,  but not burned at least.  Guessing you can tell which is which.

dinner

As for tinkering, I’d like to try a version where the cinnamon is mixed in and the balls are coated in sanding sugar.  I’d also like to make some bigger, flatter versions for filling with lemon or blackberry ice cream.  But these will do just fine for now.

Baker’s Best Snickerdoodles

From Rosie’s Delicious and Decadent Dessert Book, where she credits Michael Baker from Baker’s Best with the recipe

(I’ve condensed the instructions, assuming you people have made a cookie or two, because I’m lazy and it’s not rocket science)

3 cups all purpose flour

1 T plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 cup sugar plus 2 t sugar

1 cup butter at room temp

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 375.  Line baking sheets with parchment or grease baking sheets.  Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Combine cinnamon and 2 teaspsoons sugar in small bowl.

Cream butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar and vanilla til light and fluffy, stopping to scrape bowl.  Add eggs and beat til blended.

Add half flour mixture and beat on low for 10 seconds.  Scrape bowl and add remaining flour, beat 25 seconds.

Measure rounded scoops of dough (I used a small scoop), roll in cinnamon sugar.  (I flattened mine slightly).  Bake til risen and slightly cracked.  Recipe says 16 -18 minutes, which was WAY too long for mine.  9-10 was just fine.

Eat.  Enjoy.  Maybe with an oatmeal cookie shot.  Or milk.

the chewy

For years my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe has come from Fine Cooking.  It kicks ass, and I have had no reason to look for another.  Until.  Until I discovered an intriguing recipe from Alton Brown called The Chewy.  My standard recipe varies from the one on the Toll House package because it uses cold butter, not room temp.  This makes for a nice, thick and chewy cookie.  It also makes an unholy mess when you try to cream the sugar into the cold butter.  (You’ll want to cover your mixing bowl if you try it. Just saying.)  But Alton’s uses melted butter!  And BREAD FLOUR!  And a little milk!  And it has a cult-like following.  Clearly, I needed to see what all the fuss was about.  (And if successful, try to make the ultimate oatmeal cookie, long searched for.)

Full disclosure:  Some people are anal bakers.  They cannot veer from the recipe AT ALL. Everything is precisely measured. I am precise about NOTHING, except maybe butter and eggs, but that’s because they are conveniently pre-measured.  I know that I did not put an exact two cups of flour in, or a teaspoon of baking soda or salt.  The sugar was also probably off. So there you go.

I’ll tell you one thing – using melted butter was MUCH easier than 2 1/2 sticks of cold butter.  I was a little confused about the creaming instruction – it mostly just kind of melted into the butter.  I creamed til it seemed thickened and well mixed.  The result was more like caramel, rather than the fluffy stuff I usually get.

You then add the eggs, vanilla and milk, and finally the flour and chocolate.  It tells you to chill the dough, which is necessary because this is a VERY loose batter.  It doesn’t specify how LONG to chill it though. I gave it a couple hours.  He specifies a #20 scoop – mine was #40 which i THINK is half the size he used.  The first batch I left in balls, and they were done in 10 minutes.  Edges were a little too crispy so next time I flattened them slightly.  Same result, too brown.  Then I turned the oven down to 350, since my scoops were smaller, and upped the baking time to 12 minutes.  That helped a little, preserving the chewiness.  Can you tell the difference?  The one on the right was baked at 350, versus 375 on the left.

And the verdict?  I’ll keep on cleaning up the unholy mess of my tried and true recipe.  Texturally, these seemed much lighter than my usual ones, less dense and chewy.  Sure, they might be easier to make (but more time-consuming since you need to chill them), but what’s the point if they aren’t the best you can make?  I may still tinker with the base of this to see what I can do about that perfect oatmeal cookie.

The Chewy by Alton Brown (my notes are in red)

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
  • Parchment paper (I didn’t use any – I was out)
  • Baking sheets
  • Mixer

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. (Why?  I did it in the microwave). Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside. ( I rarely sift. Unless it’s powdered sugar. Just stirred with a fork a bit.)

Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough (I did for two hours), then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. My scoops were smaller – I baked for  10-12 minutes, after I turned the oven down to 350.  You want the edges to be golden, but the middle should still be soft and pale – they will set as they cool. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

tasty

Until I get a new camera (hopefully soon!), photos are hard to come by, so instead I offer you this lovely recipe, dear readers.  From Gourmet, March 1997, and The Sundried Tomato Café and Catering Company in Whittier, California.  Prepare yourselves on Sunday for dispatches from ANOTHER PLANT SALE, and the first meeting of the North Seattle Garden Alliance!

Chocolate Espresso Cookies (like little pockets of heaven)

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons finely ground dark-roast coffee beans, such as Italian-roast
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease 2 large heavy baking sheets.

In a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup chocolate chips, and butter, stirring until smooth, and remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs, sugar, and ground coffee on high speed until very thick and pale and mixture forms a ribbon when beaters are lifted, about 3 minutes, and beat in chocolate mixture. Into mixture sift in flour, baking powder, and salt and stir until just combined. Stir in remaining chocolate chips and walnuts.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto baking sheets and bake in batched in middle of oven 8 to 10 minutes, or until puffed and cracked on top. Cool cookies in baking sheets 1 minute and transfer to racks to cool completely.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Enjoy!!