Posts Tagged 'High-Altitude Cookie Recipes'

Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies

We finally finished off the remnants of the holiday sweets I had in the freezer last week, so naturally, it was time to make some more. :)

I signed up for Real Simple’s “Cookie of the Day” e-mails for the month of December, which is where I found today’s recipe – Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies.  I absolutely adore peanut butter (even more when it’s paired with a great berry jam), so these cookies had an irresistible draw.  I’ve also never made peanut butter cookies with Rice Krispies in them; I was super curious to find out how the cereal would affect the cookie texture.

Click here for the full recipe.  Here are my notes on the process of making the cookies:

  • I used unsalted peanuts in the cookie dough.  (The recipe didn’t specify.)
  • I used my 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop to portion the dough.  The recipe suggested a result of 4 dozen cookies; I only got 31.
  • I lined my baking sheets with parchment.
  • I made half of the cookies with jam and half without.  Although the recipe had a suggested baking time of 12 minutes, the cookies without jam were done in 9 minutes and the cookies with jam were done in 10 minutes.

Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies

These don’t take the “new favorite cookie” prize, but they’re pretty tasty little treats.  I would say they’re far more crispy than crunchy, though.  I think of “crunchy” as a “chomping with your molars” kind of characteristic.  With the Rice Krispies (mostly air), the cookies were exceptionally light; they were also moist without being chewy.  In terms of flavor, I noticed the saltiness of the cookies far more in the “plain” ones (without jam); people who are big fans of sweet and salty flavors together (like kettle corn) would probably enjoy them.  A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is one of my favorite treats, though, so I have to say the cookies with jam were my favorite.

Putting the dough together was exceptionally easy and the baking process resulted in minimal mess.  (And believe me, folks, I know how to make a mess.)  You could easy churn out a batch of these cookies in 30 – 40 minutes.  I plan to make this one of my “go to” recipes when I need crowd-pleasing treats in a pinch.

Recipe link: Peanut Butter Crunch Cookies

I’ll Show You, Macarons (aka Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Macarons)

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

As I mentioned in my last post, my first attempt with the challenge recipe was a spectacular disaster.  Although they baked up nice and high in the oven, they promptly deflated when they cooled and didn’t develop feet at all.  Plus, I added the food coloring at an odd time, so it wasn’t evenly distributed.  Not good!

Flat Macarons

After my failure, I combed the Daring Bakers forums and found that quite a few members of the community were struggling with this month’s challenge.  Since I don’t have endless time (or almond meal, for that matter!), I decided to try a recipe from Helen of Tartelette, using tips from another Daring Baker (Audax Artifex) who is always an incredible resource for the rest of us.  Aside from using new ingredient proportions, here are some of the changes I made that I think made a difference:

  • I aged my egg whites for 3 days in the refrigerator (covered with a paper towel) the second time around.
  • I sifted my almond meal/flour before I measured it for the recipe to make sure only the finest particles were used in my batter.
  • I let the piped shells rest on my kitchen island for a half an hour before baking instead of using the “5 minutes at 200F” step in the original recipe.
  • I baked the shells at 280F (Tartelette’s suggestion) instead of 375F; I think the slower, steady rise helped them to not deflate when I took them out of the oven.
  • I used Audax’s tip for feet and used two stacked baking sheets for each batch.

They still aren’t perfect (they’re a bit peaked and I think the shells could be smoother), but they have feet, great texture, and yummy flavor.  I ended up filling them with Nutella (loosened with a bit of heavy cream).

Macarons

I think the greatest benefit of this challenge is that I feel like I could handle meringue-based recipes better now than I could before; Pavlova, here I come!

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies

The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

I’ve been super time-squeezed this month, so thankfully, it was OK to choose just one of the cookies.  Since I enjoyed making homemade marshmallows so much last October (Marshmallow Bones!), I decided to give the Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies a try.

The challenge was easy overall, but I hit a few stumbling blocks.  Working with the cookie dough was a bit of a P.I.T.A.  I chilled it for several hours, but it quickly went from relatively firm to  soft and sticky.   It stuck to my silicone rolling pin, so I ended up rolling it out under waxed paper.  I didn’t have any trouble cutting it into 1 1/2-inch circles, but those circles did NOT want to release from my floured countertop.  I did the best I could and reshaped them a bit as I transferred them to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

The recommended baking time – 10 minutes at 375F – was perfect.  While the cookies cooled, I made the marshmallow (no problemo) and put it in a piping bag prepped with a round tip.  I piped a “kiss” of marshmallow onto the top of each cookie and let the cookies stand for two hours.

For the chocolate coating, I took the advice of a forum poster and used Crisco instead of cocoa butter (too hard to find) or vegetable oil (too runny?).  Once I had melted the chocolate and Crisco together, I used a fork to dip each cookie in the chocolate.  I had the best luck when I dropped the cookie in the chocolate with the fork (taking care not to touch the marshmallow), used the fork to drizzle chocolate over the cookie, and then scooped the cookie out from the bottom.  I shook the fork sideways a bit to let the excess chocolate run off and then transferred each cookie to a piece of wax paper.  I let the chocolate set for two hours before serving.

Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies

These weren’t amazing, but they were certainly yummy.  I found myself wanting the cookie inside to be more like a crisp, flat disk; instead, the cookie was pretty airy and borderline cake-like.  The chocolate coating firmed up pretty nicely but it was still soft enough so that you’d leave fingerprints when you picked one up.  I ended up using a small spatula to transfer them into storage containers.

The cookies turned out, looked beautiful, and tasted good, so I’m calling this one a success.  Thanks for hostessing, Nicole!

Recipe link: I’m “blogless” until the 2nd, but check Nicole’s blog if you’re interested in the recipe.  I’ll link back to her post when I can.

Sugar Cookies

I took a sugar cookie workshop at my local Sur La Table earlier this month, and I came out with an absolutely fantastic sugar cookie recipe. The workshop teacher said the recipe is all over the Internet as “No Fail Sugar Cookies” and she’s right – a Google search turned up multiple copies of the recipe. I wish I had found it sooner because these cookies are *exactly* what I’ve been looking for – soft and dense with great flavor.

I started by creaming 2 cups of room-temperature butter with 2 cups of sugar. I added 2 room-temperature eggs, one at a time, followed by 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, I mixed together 6 cups of flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. I gradually beat the dry ingredients (about 1 cup at a time) into the wet ingredients until just combined.

My teacher chilled her dough in one large piece, but I divided mine into 4 pieces so it would chill faster. I formed each piece into a ball, flattened it a bit, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and put it in a zipper bag. I let it chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

When I was ready to roll the cookies, I put down a piece of parchment paper (no flour!). I squeezed the dough a bit to soften it, then laid it on top of the parchment. I put another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and then used my rolling pin over the parchment. This way, nothing sticks. I rolled the dough to 1/4 inch thickness, peeled off the top piece of parchment and cut my shapes, dipping my cookie cutters in flour between each cut so they wouldn’t stick.

I placed the cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets and baked them, one sheet at a time, for about 11 minutes at 350 F. My cookies were a bit large, so smaller cookies would have a shorter baking time. Check them frequently and take them out just when the edges start to color.

Once the cookies had cooled, I iced mine with a modified royal icing. You could use powdered sugar-milk glaze or even store-bought frosting, too.

christmas_tree_cookie1.jpgsnowman_cookie2.jpg

These are soft but sturdy cookies with a terrific shortbread-like taste. They make great gifts, too. I’m just learning to ice and decorate, so I look forward to having more fun with these in the future. Let me know if you want to come over and practice! :)

TIPS: The very best thing I learned during the cookie workshop is how to roll your dough evenly. The instructor placed two 1/4-inch-diameter wooden dowels on each side of the dough before rolling it. The dowels are placed vertically and the dough is rolled horizontally so the rolling pin is perpendicular to the dowels. This way, your rolling pin can never go lower than the 1/4-inch dowel. It seems so simple, but it’s amazing! You could use EvenDough bands instead, but a $0.60 dowel cut in half works for me.

Update 2/1/10: You can keep baked, unfrosted cookies in the freezer for up to a month.  If you want to eat them soft, just bring them to room temperature.  My recent (naughty) habit is eating them crispy, straight from the freezer.

Recipe link: No Fail Sugar Cookies




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