The shortbread experiment continues

A while back, I experimented with a Thomas Keller shortbread recipe.  As a note in the recipe, he casually throws out a slight alteration for chocolate shortbread.  I couldn’t resist.

The substitution is simple–just replace some of the flour with high quality dutch-processed cocoa.

Because I can’t leave well enough alone, I also added the zest of an orange to the dough.

Then I iced each little square with a simple concoction of confectioner’s sugar and blood orange juice.

These were really intense.  And, in my opinion, better than the original shortbread recipe.

If you like this, you might like these

Chocolate Cayenne Cookies

Wold Peace Cookies

Soundtrack

Carol King

Shortbread

adapted from Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel in Bouchon Bakery

Ingredients

  • 13 TBS (1 stick + 5 TBS) (180 grams) unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1/2 C (90 grams) superfine sugar
  • 1/2 + 1/8 tsp (2 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4  all purpose flour
  • 3/4 C unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
  • zest from 1 large orange (optional)

Directions

  1. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream until smooth on medium-low speed.
  2. Mix-in zest.
  3. Add 1/2 C (90 grams) sugar and the slat, mix on medium for about 2 minutes until fluffy.
  4. Scrape down the  sides and bottom of the bowl.  Add the vanilla and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to distribute evenly.
  5. Add the flour and cocoa in two additions, mixing on low speed for 15-30 seconds or until just combined.  Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any flour that may have settled.
  6. Mound the dough on the work surface and, using the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together into a 5-inch square block.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm.
  7. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.  Line two pans with parchment paper.
  8. Unwrap the dough and place between two pieces parchment paper.  With a rolling pin, pound the top of the dough working from left to right to begin to flatten it.  Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat.
  9. Roll-out to a 9 inch square.  If the dough has softened, slide it (still inside the parchment) onto the back of a sheet pan and refrigerate until firm again.
  10. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough as desired.  The original recipe calls for 3 cuts horizontally and 5 cuts vertically so that you have 24 2 1/4X 1 1/2 inch pieces.
  11. Dust the tops of the dough with sugar and arrange on baking sheets leaving 3/4 inch in between each.
  12. Bake until pale golden brown, 17-19 minutes.  Set the pans on a cooling rack and cool for 5 to 10 minutes, transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.

For icing

  • If you would like to ice the cookies, begin with 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar, whisk in orange juice or water 1 TBS at-a-time until the icing is of desired consistency.  Dip cookies and allow icing to dry.

The shortbread experiment

I have made no secret of my love for sandy, crumbly cookies.  Sables, sandies and shortbreads all tickle my fancy as an enjoyer of baked goods, if not as a baker.  I am always on the hunt for the perfect shortbread recipe and constantly in awe that something with so few ingredients can prove so elusive (though I suspect it is because of the simple ingredients).

So of course, I had to try the one included in Bouchon Bakery (I really didn’t intent two weeks in a row from the same book).

Butter, flour, sugar. Check.

Crumbly dough, check.

Time in the fridge, check.

And here is where he started to lose me.  I realize it is a personal preference, but rolling-out shortbread isn’t my thing.  I prefer to press or roll the dough into a log.

Admittedly, I rolled them out too thinly.  And while the result had a nice crumbly texture, they tasted a little too sugar-cookie to me.  TD said they tasted like shortbread.  But, he’s not a huge fan of the buttery baked good so he only gets a half vote.

 

If you like this, you might like these

Coconut Shortbread

Sables

Shortbread

adapted from Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel in Bouchon Bakery

Ingredients

  • 13 TBS (1 stick + 5 TBS) (180 grams) unsalted butter at room temp
  • 1/2 C (90 grams) superfine sugar
  • 1/2 + 1/8 tsp (2 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 C + 3 TBS (270 grams) all purpose flour
  • granulated or sanding sugar for dusting

Directions

  1. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream until smooth on medium-low speed.
  2. Add 1/2 C (90 grams) sugar and the slat, mix on medium for about 2 minutes until fluffy.
  3. Scrape down the  sides and bottom of the bowl.  Add the vanilla and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to distribute evenly.
  4. Add the flour in two additions, mixing on low speed for 15-30 seconds or until just combined.  Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any flour that may have settled.
  5. Mound the dough on the work surface and, using the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper, push it together into a 5-inch square block.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until firm.
  6. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees.  Line two pans with parchment paper.
  7. Unwrap the dough and place between two pieces parchment paper.  With a rolling pin, pound the top of the dough working from left to right to begin to flatten it.  Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat.
  8. Roll-out to a 9 inch square.  If the dough has softened, slide it (still inside the parchment) onto the back of a sheet pan and refrigerate until firm again.
  9. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough as desired.  The original recipe calls for 3 cuts horizontally and 5 cuts vertically so that you have 24 2 1/4X 1 1/2 inch pieces.
  10. Dust the tops of the dough with sugar and arrange on baking sheets leaving 3/4 inch in between each.
  11. Bake until pale golden brown, 17-19 minutes.  Set the pans on a cooling rack and cool for 5 to 10 minutes, transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.

 

Warning: these may cause marital…conflict

Here’s how it went down.

Committees are a necessity of working in higher education.  It’s how we roll.  There are weeks when I spend more time in committee meetings than in my office.  I know the same is true for my colleagues.  So, for the committees I chair, I try to bring something good to eat when we meet.  Most of my committees are small; a dozen cookies or a loaf cake more than do the job.  But, if everyone shows up, the committee I chair the first Wednesday of every month can be a beast.  A handful of cookies would only agitate them.

So, it was with good intent that I set out to make some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies to go alongside another treat for March’s meeting.

When the cookies were done, I set aside exactly the number I needed for my meeting and gave TD the rest.  To be clear, I handed over at least a dozen and a half of these guys.

The bag of cookies was never seen again.

The evening before my meeting, I set out the cookies and cake I’d made so that I’d remember to grab them on the way to work.  When I got up, only a handful remained.  I stood there for at least two minutes trying wish the cookies back into existence.  There wasn’t time to make another batch and I was kind of irritated that someone who didn’t make the cookies and didn’t need them for a meeting had decided to eat them (and we aren’t talking about the Kitchen Gods).

The reply when asked about the missing cookies: “But I was hungry.”

To this I asked, “What about the bag of cookies I gave you?”

“They’re gone.”

“But that was two days ago.”

“So?  They were my cookies.”

“You knew these were for a meeting”

“But I was hungry.”

The good news is that this must be a pretty decent oatmeal cookie recipe.

The bad news?  If you are TD, revenge will be mine when you least expect it.  Sleep with one eye open my friend.

Great minds think alike.  While the recipe below is totally respectable, if you are looking for an oatmeal cookie recipe that’s a little more exotic, try out Ann’s Cranberry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies. The addition of wheat germ is genius I tell you.

TLCs

adapted from Bouchon Bakery, Thomas Keller & Sebastien Rouxel

Ingredients

  • 1 C + 1 1 /2 TBS (153 g) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp (2.3 g) baking soda
  • 3/8 tsp (1 g) ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 C + 3 1/2 TBS (138 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 C + 1 1/2 TBS (75 g) lightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 7 1/2 ounces (212 g) unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 1 egg (52 g)
  • 1 3/4 C (134 g) old fashioned oats
  • 2 C chocolate chips
  • 1 C coarsely chopped pecans (optional)

Note: the original recipe makes 6 very large cookies using a #10 (2 1/2 inch) ice cream scoop.  I needed more than 6 cookies (though, that’s what I ended up with) and so used  a 3/4 inch scoop to yield about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Directions

  1. Sift flour, baking soda and cinnamon together into a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Add butter to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream the butter on medium speed until it is the consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak when the paddle is lifted.
  3. Add the sugars and mix for 3-4 minutes until fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  4. Add the eggs and mix on low for 15-30 seconds until just combined.  It’s okay if the mixture looks broken.
  5. Add the dry ingredients in two batches, mixing on low for 15-30 seconds after each.  Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporated all ingredients.
  6. Add the oats, chocolate chips and pecans and incorporated by hand.
  7. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  9. Scoop cookies to desired size and place on parchment-lined half sheets leaving at least 2 inches in between cookies.
  10. Bake until golden brown–14-16 minutes rotating sheets halfway through.  Remove from oven and let sit in pans for 5 to 10 minutes then transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool completely.

 

 

 

Monsters in my mouth

I’ve already bored you with stories of our fall camping trips, now let’s move to early summer.  Most years growing up, our first two weeks of summer break were spent in the Sierra Nevadas.  As a very young child, we would camp in an incredibly remote area called Jackass Meadows.  This was boil-your-water use the outhouse sort of camping.  It was called Jackass Meadows because of the wild horses.  And the campers.  At some point my parents switched to Twin Lakes.  Often during these trips family and friends would join us.  And always, there were lots of kids.  We’d roam the woods, rivers and lakes like a troupe of scabby-kneed outlaws, our parents providing only one set of instructions: return at dusk.  Not before.

On such adventures, we’d stuff a couple of monster cookies in our pockets.  You know, provisions.  I have no idea why monster cookies have such a scary name, perhaps because they are often big.  Maybe they are the jabberwokcky’s  baked good of choice.

A couple of years ago I asked my mom for the recipe.  She claimed to no longer have it.  So, I did some experimenting.  I failed.  And pretty much forgot about it.  Until a couple of weeks ago when I was thinking about those trips (and how many bears there were…and how stupidly unafraid of them I was).

So I tried another recipe.

Don’t let the oatmeal and peanut butter fool you.  The dough is just really a candy-delivery mechanism.

Hearty, stick to your ribs, good energy for afternoon-long games of ditch.

And sticky.

So, I finally figured out the secret to great monster cookies.  You need to let them rest on their parchment until cool before attempting to remove.  Otherwise, they fall completely apart.

Soundtrack

Beastie Boys.  Yes, I realize I’m just like everyone else.

Monster Cookies

Paula Dean (I felt bad for taking a jab at her in last week’s post)

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 12-ounce jar creamy peanut butter
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup multi-colored chocolate candies
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raisins, optional
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.

In a very large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well. Stir in the chocolate candies, chocolate chips, raisins, if using, baking soda, and oatmeal. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. Let stand for about 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. When cool, store in large resealable plastic bags.

These also freeze incredibly well!

You had me at browned butter

I’m always on the lookout for a good chocolate chip cookie variation. So, when I came across one that included browned butter I said, ‘yes please and thank you.’  To add to the sophistication (this isn’t your kindergartner’s chocolate chip cookie), I added toasted walnuts and used super dark chocolate chunks.

Not a lot of process photos here because, well, browned butter isn’t very attractive on its own and at its core, this recipe follows basic chocolate chip cookie protocol (go here if you really need additional photos on how to make this cookie).

Two notes. Browned butter will form some sediment during the delicious smelling browning process.  To keep this out of the dough I strained the cooled butter before using.  Second, I prefer to toast my nuts in a pan rather than in the oven so that I can keep an eye on them (I know, I know).  Heat a large pan over medium head, add nuts tossing occasionally until the start to smell toasty.

 Soundtrack

….aaaaaand we’re back to Coldplay.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I get a weekly recipe email for Southern Food from Diana Rattray.  Who knows why I get the email but I always look at the recipes…mostly because I am amazed by what people eat in the South (at least according to Diana Rattray and Paula Dean).  This recipe is adapted from one of those weekly emails.  Who knew?

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, browned and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temp
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temp
  • 2 TBS milk
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • 1 TSP kosher salt
  • 2 C dark chocolate chunks (chips would do as well of course)
  • I C toasted walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped (about the same size as your chunks or chips)

Directions

  1. To brown butter,  heat in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter begins to simmer. Continue cooking, stirring, just until butter begins to turn golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Pour off into a measuring cup or bowl, leaving darkest sediment behind. Let the butter cool to room temperature.
  2. While butter is browning, toast nuts in a pan on the stovetop or in the oven (350 degrees about 10 minutes).  Let cool, chop roughly.
  3. In a large mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat the browned butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and egg yolk, milk, and vanilla. Beat on low speed until well blended.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg and butter mixture, mixing on low speed, until a soft dough forms. Scrape the bowl a few times. Stir in the chocolate chunks/chips and walnuts. Cover and chill for about an hour.
  5. Heat the oven to 375°. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop, drop balls of dough onto  parchment, allowing about 2 to 3 inches in between the cookies.
  6. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes, until browned around the edges. Cool completely and transfer to an airtight container for storage.
  7. Makes about 4 dozen cookies, depending on size.

 

Vive l’bleuets!

Yes.  We are still talking about blueberries.  And happy Bastille Day while we are at it.

I’m always game to try a new cookie recipe and so set this one aside last fall after it appeared in September’s Bon Appetit Magazine to rave reviews.  Who knows why it took me this long to get to it.

The recipe is for blueberry and cream cookies from Momofuko Milk Bar in New York.  It begins with a sort of, well, milk-crumb-streusel concoction.  Now, I know that Christina Tosi (Chef at the Milk Bar) pretty much walks on pastry…but I also think she has a thing for dried milk powder.  To date I’ve tried two of her recipes and both call for this rather elusive ingredient.  After scouring several specialty stores, I finally found it at a Bristol Farms (ironically, the closest grocery store to my house and of course was the last place I looked).   Provided the bakery’s success however, I’m inclined to start adding milk powder to all kinds of things…

So, milk powder, sugar, a little cornstarch, some smelted butter and a couple other ingredients get blended together and then baked.

Until it looks like crumbs.  Don’t let the lack of lack of visual remarkability fool you.  This stuff is kind of cool and definitely makes what is to come more interesting.

The dough-base for these cookies is suspiciously like chocolate chip cookie dough.  Only milk scrabble and beautiful dried blueberries (or bleuets if you are French) (or baluberries if you live at our house) are substituted-in for chocolate chips.

The dough is very thick and with its five cups of flour, the recipe is huge.  I halved it here and had plenty of yield.

Out of the oven these cookies are attractive.  However, the fun real fun begins when someone bites into one, tastes the streusel and says…’what is that ingredient’ (you know, in the good way).

Of course I have to admit, these would still be really good…and a lot less time consuming should the milk scrapple be omitted.

Blueberry and Cream Cookies

As printed in Bon Appetit Magazine (September 2010) by Christina Tosi, Momofuku Milk Bar, New York New York

for streusel

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 275°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Combine milk powder, flour, sugar, cornstarch, and coarse salt in medium bowl; toss to mix evenly. Add butter; stir with fork until clusters form. Spread mixture evenly on prepared sheet. Bake until crumbs are dry and crumbly but still pale, about 10 minutes. Cool Milk Crumbs completely on sheet. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

for cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Milk Crumbs (click for recipe)
  • 1 1/2 cups dried blueberries

Special Equipment

Stand mixer with paddle attachment.

Preparation

  • Combine butter, both sugars, and corn syrup in large bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 3 minutes. Add eggs; beat on medium-high speed until mixture is very pale and sugar is completely dissolved, about 10 minutes. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; beat on low speed just until blended, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Add Milk Crumbs; mix on low speed just until incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer. Stir in blueberries just until evenly distributed (dough will be very sticky).
  • Using 1/4-cup ice cream scoop for each cookie, drop dough onto 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 24 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled until baking time.
  • Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line 2 large (18×12-inch) rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Transfer 6 chilled dough scoops to each sheet, spacing at least 4 inches apart (cookies will spread). Bake cookies, 2 sheets at a time, until golden, reversing sheets halfway through baking, 20 to 22 minutes total. Repeat with remaining chilled dough, cooling and relining sheets between batches. Transfer cookies to racks; cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Store in airtight containers at room temperature.

March of the penguins (into my mouth)

If I could afford it, I’d ask Morgan Freeman to narrate this post. But, I can’t. So watch this first to get you in the mood.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MB_GisVFboU

I have a very cute penguin cookie cutter and when Deb from Smitten Kitchen posted her mother’s recipe for Brownie Roll Out cookies, I knew I had a match made in heaven. I’m linking to the recipe instead of listing it below because, well, I have a baking crush on this blog and if you haven’t heard of it or read it regularly, you should.

http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/04/brownie-roll-out-cookies/

The resulting cookie is chocolate perfection. Not too sweet and acts just like a roll-out cookie, so it keeps its shape. I followed her recipe exactly up until the part where you chill the dough. At this point, I used the roll-out and chill method discussed in my sugar cookie recipe.

Obviously, you can make them any shape you want but, I promise they make extra good penguins (with white chocolate tummies).

Seriously, just like March of the Penguins…right?

…yes, even chocolate penguins mate for life.